Author: Heath


Betty Cooper 1925-2003

We lost my grandmother today. For those who might not know, it was totally expected. She had been in declining health for a long time, and living with my mother who had been taking care of her for many years now. She was constantly in and out of the hospital, and my mother had somehow managed to take care of her for a long time even though Mimi (as we knew her) was really far beyond the capabilities that should have been expected from my mom. Somehow my Supermom managed to make it work all this time though, even though Mimi really should have gone into some place where she would have been professionally cared for 24/7. The thought of any kind if “home” or anything was anathema to her though, so my mom bravely soldiered forward, living her life basically as a 24/7 home care nurse.
With this last trip to the hospital, it was pretty much determined that things were looking worse, and that these might be her final days. She had a “Living Will” and did not want to be kept alive by any machines or life support or any of that. In her final week she was moved to a Houston facility, and my mom, my 2 uncles, and their wives were pretty constantly down there with her. In her final days, the doctors had proposed various feeding tubes and procedures which really served no purpose but to delay the inevitable, so in the end all those procedures were declined, and instead, she was just put on oxygen and morphine to make her comfortable. That was yesterday. She died some time after noon today. I’m sure she was ecstatic to finally be out of her misery and to again be with my uncle Jim, who I’m sure was there to greet her with his guitar in hand at the boat dock, bus stop, train station, futuristic air tube, or whatever other transit there is to the after life.
My mother and I spent a large majority of my life living in the same house with Mimi, so she was a large part of my growing up too. A few random memories:
She introduced me to the delicacies of butter and sugar sandwiches, raw cookie dough (which I liked to eat as much as finished cookies), and can probably be blamed for my enduring sweet tooth.
She was responsible for exposing me to old horror films, Monty Python, and Benny Hill, which I’m sure played a large part in shaping me.
She obviously raised a damn good family too, since my mom and my uncles are all exemplary human beings.
Good bye, Mimi. Here’s some change for Charon, the bus driver, the train conductor, air tube coin slots, or whatever it may be. Say hello to Jim for me.


This NaNoWriMo thing

For anyone who is not familiar, check it out here. It sounds intriguing, but there’s no way I will be participating unless I finish my screenplay before then. If I finish my screenplay before November, then I may undertake it just for fun by taking an idea loosely based on P@’s dream about time travel but done in a silly Douglas Adams-y way. Initially his dream gave me this great idea for an action thriller screenplay with a sort of “Minority Report” atmosphere, but upon thinking about the NaNoWriMo thing, it lent itself well to my Douglas Adams-y thing too.
If I don’t finish my screenplay before November then I shall endeavor to use that time to make sure it gets finished by December. Whenever I do finish it, it is only the first draft which will need some serious re-writing and tweaking, so that may end up taking precedence anyway. We shall see what happens.


Can Lord of the Rings make your head explode?

I hope not, because Jess and I now have tickets to the LOTR trilogy Tuesday on December 16. Starting a 2:00 p.m. they will show the first 2 extended edition movies, and then an advance premiere of “Return of the King”. Factor in showing up way early for good seats, and we’re looking at 13-15 hours of LOTR overload. Intense. It will be an experience. Perhaps we need a training regimen to prepare us. We have seen 3 movies in a single day before, and twice we’ve watched 8 consecutive hours of 24 DVDs, so I think we should be in fighting shape.
Forth Eorlingas!


Multi-talented or dabbling hack?

O.K., I know I’m not a dabbling hack, but that’s not the point. “What is the point?”, you may ask.
Lately, I’ve really been examining my career goals, and how to best approach them. I’ve always had many diverse talents and interests. In one way this is good in that I am very versatile, and there’s a lot of paths I could take. On the other hand, it also leads to confusion, and trying to juggle things, and risking that you may split yourself in too many directions.
Today, I realized just how scattered I am when I thought about all the things I’ve thought about pursuing. Let’s look, shall we? We all know of my acting, and music aspirations. You an divide music into further sub-categories such as writing, producing, session playing etc., although lately I’ve been wondering if I’m really good enough to be a session player. I’m not so sure about that. I’ve also been pursuing crew work as a production assistant on films, TV, commercials, and just about anything, really. I think that as far as crew work goes, my eventual goal would be to work into an Assistant Director capacity. When I did an infomercial not long ago, I really took note of Og, the A.D., and realized that’s a position in which I really thought I would excel.
I’ve thought about trying to get into film scoring a la Danny Elfman. This isn’t really feasible at the moment since I would need, at the very least, a really nice workstation keyboard. Something along the lines of a $3000+ keyboard with tons of sounds like having an orchestra at my fingertips. Even then I wondered if I could really do it without also reading and writing sheet music. I would really like to know more about Danny Elfman, and his exact process. I could record a film score and someone else could notate it I suppose. This is one of the most unknown avenues to me, and one of the least likely as a starting point. It would more likely be something I would get into after somewhat establishing my career in some other way first.
I’m also a writer. I think I’m quite a good one (not that this blog is any evidence of that). I’ve got a screenplay which is about 2/3 finished which I think is brilliant, and one of my best possibilities for getting somewhere. Unfortunately, I’m also very lazy and slow. I wrote the first half in like a month, and have spent the next 3 years, slowly trying to finish it. This has led me to various other thoughts (which are really way too far down the line to worry about right now, but that doesn’t stop me) such as should I just outright sell it if someone made me an offer, or should I hold out until I can get a deal to star and direct it too, which is really my vision, and how I think it needs to be done. Part of me thinks “if you actually get an offer at all, you’ve hit the lottery, so take it!”, while the other part thinks “Don’t compromise what you want. It is good enough that someone will agree to my terms, and that’s really the only way my vision will ever be fulfilled”. The first option compromises my dream for the sake of money and career advancement.
I’ve also thought that I could write reviews, or magazine articles quite well, but yet I have no portfolio or anything to convince anyone of that.
Many people have told me I should do stand-up comedy, which I’ve also though about. In fact I have a notebook of ideas that I’ve kept since like eighth grade, albeit only sporadically, to the tune of several pages. I’ve probably forgotten more brilliant things than I’ve documented. If I did take this route, it would only be as a stepping stone to other things since I don’t really want to be a touring stand-up comedian.
There’s probably many more I’m forgetting at the moment, but you get the idea. I’m happy, and blessed to have so many areas which I feel at least fairly confident in my talents, and while that gives me many avenues to pursue, and hopefully gives me more chances to make some money, it also confuses things.
A bit of a random tangent: my aunt says she knows someone who is a “Book Index Editor” who works from home on his own hours. How the hell do people get these kinds of jobs? I’d love to have any kind of job where I can work my own hours from home, at least for now!
The world is my burrito, I just don’t know what I want on it.


I like you Arnie!

This is a rare occasion. Heath gets political. Very rare, and something I usually don’t really care to do and in fact probably avoid, but I vast tidal wave of anti-Arnoldness is drowning me.
I’m quite puzzled by all the Ah-nuld hating going around. I just don’t get it. Everywhere I look it’s someone dissing Arnold and expressing indignation or disgust at his election as governor. I just don’t get this. He seems quite intelligent, personable, and politically knowledgeable. More so he seems like something that I, personally, have found very rare; an open minded republican. Most republican’s I’ve met in my life have been very closed minded, biased individuals who wallow in self-righteousness and take great joy in dismissing liberals as some lower form of extremely stupid life. They seem to just blanketly agree with the republican side of all issues, which I find hard to believe. While I may be fairly liberal, I don’t just automatically agree with all democrat opinions, and disagree with all republican opinions. Well, this is a whole other rant I don’t really care to get into, but the point is that Arnold actually seems to have some liberal friendly views instead of just voting like an automaton who must be 100% absolutely on one party’s side or the other.
I do understand the surface entertainment value of the fact that The Terminator is now governor of California, but past that, I don’t really think he’s getting a fair shake. It reminds me of when an actor tries to put out a music album or a musician tries their hand at acting. Many times people automatically put this stigma on them and just assume that they’re going to be incompetent and laughable in their new role. I think this is exacerbated by the fact that Arnold is already stigmatized by many in his role as an actor. People jump on the “Arnold is just a stupid action buffoon who can’t act” band wagon, which is a whole other argument that I disagree with. You may not like “action” movies or whatever, but to boil that down to “he’s stupid and can’t act” is just unfair. Has he put out some crap? Sure, most actors have. However he’s also put out many movies that define the genre itself (which also suffers from unfair stigmatizing by intellectual movie snobs everywhere). As I said, it’s fine if you simply don’t like those kinds of movies, but just because you personally may not like them doesn’t mean that they’re crap, stupid, or just for dumb testosterone filled flesh bags either.
I don’t think there’s anything ridiculous or worthy of eye rolling about his being governor. Is it amusing? Yes. Are there many jokes to be made? Absolutely. Is it some kind of ridiculous travesty? I don’t think so at all. I just find it kinda sad, that he’s got some very promising characteristics, but most people have already put him on trial, found him guilty, and thrown a rope over the highest tree limb not based on anything other than “but he’s AH-nuld! The Terminator! Come on!”


I’m too sexy for this dream

Bizarre dream last night.
On TV was this music video from the late 70’s or early 80’s. It was the band “Right Said Fred” (they sang the song “I’m Too Sexy”, in case you didn’t know). The singer wasn’t bald, though. Instead he had semi-long curly hair. It was either a live concert clip or else it was a video made to look like a live concert clip, I’m not sure which. There was also this elaborate stage machinery that was really sinister looking. I remember thinking that it looked like something that Rammstein would have on stage. One thing, in particular, that I remember was several turntables mounted into the sides if these columns, and spike would pop out of the columns and make scratching noises across the records in time with the song.
They were singing “Outsider” by The Ramones, only in my dream it wasn’t by The Ramones, it was by Queen, and instead of the lyrics “I’m an outsider, outside of everything”, the chorus was “It’s your child, fight for everything”.
When the chorus came around, the crowd went crazy as Freddie Mercury came out on the stage, shirtless, to sing the chorus in a surprise appearance.
No, wait, it was.


So, how was your last 3 days?

Mine were action packed. As you probably already know, Sunday night while we were sleeping, the valve on our toilet broke and flooded our entire apartment while we slept. We had to move our entire apartment onto the patio so they could pull up all the carpet, remove the padding, and then put big dryer fans under the carpet for two days. Sunday night we stayed with my aunt at their house.
Monday, we came back, hung out on the patio for a while, and talked to management about the situation. We still don’t have the details solidified, but we’ll probably get a month’s rent or something.
The studio called me that morning about submitting a demo for another jingle (for which I will be paid). That afternoon I went by and picked up some samples of the type of thing they were looking for.
That night I went to a rehearsal for a play (the previously mentioned one where a guy I had met a few times had recommended me). The people were all very cool and fun. The play itself wasn’t necessarily my kind of thing (a lot of religious content about a guy who goes to jail and finds god), but work is work, and the people were all very cool. I knew it paid, but much to my surprise, it paid fairly well, even for my tiny part in it, and the fact that I will only be in one performance (the second one I can’t make, and there may be some more out of town touring performances in November for which I will be paid more).
After that, we went back to the apartment so I could get to work on the jingle, since I wasn’t sure how much time I would have in the next couple of days being that Tuesday was supposed to be the day the carpet got finished up, and Wednesday I’m going into the studio to record another cut for the album. I haphazardly set my computer up on the living room floor (where the carpet was rippling wildly from the fans), with the monitor stacked on top of it, the mouse on the monitor, and the keyboard on a chair. I whipped up a jingle by about 12:30 a.m. and emailed it off. It was not quite the quality I like to put out, but under the conditions, it was all I could do. Hopefully no one will hear all the carpet fans whirring behind all the vocals. No biggie anyway since my vocals will be replaced with a girl singer. We cleared off our bed, maneuvered around all the fans and dehumidifiers, and just roughed it sleeping in our own bed.
Tuesday, I got up, did some revisions to the jingle as per email, then just lazed around on the patio most of the day. I had a message on my cell phone from a girl saying they wanted me to come in and read for a part in some movie production. She told me to call the director back, but unfortunately did not leave a number. Through some detective work I determined who I thought it was, and left a message on his mobile phone. Haven’t heard back so I’m not sure if it was the right guy or not. Eventually the carpet guys came back, finished up the carpet and the shampooed it. This unfortunately left it kinda wet again (sigh), but in a purposeful way. We finally got our place back to normal and then went out to eat. When we were moving the couch back in I noticed 4 broken springs poking through the bottom, so I got some tools, and MacGyvered a fix using some little screw hook things. Woo! Go me!
Tomorrow I go into the studio as previously mentioned. In other good news, the car jingle I did with Craig and Spencer sold (doesn’t mean much to me personally as far as money goes, but it still bodes well). Hopefully more work to come from that venue too. Then of course, Thursday is M day! Mindi will be arriving for a visit! What fun she’ll have cramming into my truck with me and Jess and doing lots of cheap/free stuff! 😉 Hey, it’s all about the company, right?


Wow. That sucked.

Here is a good example of why you absolutely must LOVE acting to do it.
Today I was supposed to be a policeman on the Luke Wilson movie “The Wendell Baker Story”. I woke up at 6 a.m. showered and such. Drove the 45 minutes to the set. Arrived at 8 a.m. (an hour before my 9:00 call time, just to be safe). Surprisingly, I ran into Grant JAmes, who I had taken some acting lessons from when I lived in Dallas. He has a part in this film, and is shooting for a couple of weeks. Eventually I go to get my costume. They don’t have one that even remotely comes close to fitting me, even though my sizes were supposedly sent over ahead of time so they could get the right costumes. Eventually there is no other choice but to get another guy to be the cop, and I’ll take his place as one of the bus riders.
Now, apparently we were originally supposed to shoot soon after our 9:00 call time, but the schedule had changed and we were now at the very end of the day. So we all sit from 9:00 until about 7:45, only to be told in the end that since it was now growing dark, they weren’t going to get to our scenes, and we could all go home. Here’s the kicker; the cops were the only ones actually used today, and it sounds like you might actually see them in the movie.
So as not to end negatively, here’s 3 good points though:
1. Since I was not used today, the casting people are free to hire me again for another day (as opposed to if I had been used, they wouldn’t use me again for another role in the same movie).
2. I still get paid for today.
3. I ate lunch about 15 feet from Luke Wilson.
Even after all this, I am not deterred in the slightest from my chosen profession.


It’s all about networking

As I’ve said many times before.
First off, my jingle did not sell, unfortunately, but I did make some big impressions on some big people. Here’s the (names edited to protect those involved) email that I got back from my studio contact:

here’s how it went down. both creative directors called and told me how
great your song was laughing the whole time. then they played it for Bob Squiggly (the chief of Squiggly Advertising–a billion dollar ad agency) on the lear jet ride to go present a campaign to the company. he loved it and in fact tried to sing it to the company people in the meeting (i understand they are awful clients). anyway, Bob Squiggly had to recommend a different campaign (because of strategy) so our songs never really had a chance. but they did make an impression on the right people. specially yours. so rest assured, your first foray into bigtime national advertising was a smashing success.

Secondly, when I was an extra on the infomercial, I had exchanged business cards with a few of the actors there while we chatted. One of them had seen me at the meeting, and in fact after the infomercial, I saw him again at the next meeting too, and we chatted for a bit. Then yesterday while I was in College Station for a band gig, he called me (which he couldn’t have done had we not exchanged cards) and said this play he was doing was needing a few small parts filled. He gave me the directors number, so I called and left a message. Today the director called me, and gave me the info. Much to my shock and surprise, it’s actually a paying theatre gig too. I go to rehearsal on Thursday to hash it all out.
Networking in action.
Thirdly, two of the premiere acting coaches here offered a free class the other night at their studio. I went with a prepared monologue, and had quite a good time. There was a lot of good talent in the room. At the end of my monologue, and after having me try some different techniques and such, they told me I seemed extremely comfortable, easy to work with, willing to take direction and try things, and that overall I seemed very professional. Yay me!
I will conquer the world.


I’m a “composer”

Much better than a decomposer, eh? (cue the “wah-wah-wah” sound effect).
So in the continuing saga of Heath pursues his dreams in a round about way, here’s the latest on what’s happening. The big nice professional studio downtown who I was doing the “mock folk song” jingle for, had asked me to send them the “music only” so they could get a bunch of different singers to sing it (which is what the ad campaign called for; there would be different people singing every line). I sent them the music only which I had recorded at home on my computer. The next day I emailed to make sure they got it, and I got a response saying “yeah, we’ve been working on it all day. Come on down and help the engineer mix it if you have the time”. Well I knew the engineer didn’t really need my help mixing it, but I certainly didn’t want to pass up some face time at the studio, which is a way cool place, so I immediately went down there.
I went and sat in the extremely cushy control room, and watched the guy fly through the Pro-tools program like a madman, tweaking the tiniest details that I was amazed his ear could even detect. There I was, listening to my own composition being sung by a mass of different people, and watching a professional engineer at a professional studio laboring over this little jingle I had written. It was super cool. He’d play little chunks of it over and over, adjusting levels, EQ, compression, etc. All these people singing my silly little words over my goofy music. Very cool.
As I left I was surprised to be handed a check for $100. Now normally I would have got $350 just for the demo, but I was initially told that since this was “on spec” meaning that the studio didn’t have this sold yet, and were doing it for free to try and impress the client into buying it, coupled with the fact that it was sort of my “audition” to be considered for the pool of composers, that I would be doing it for free. Nice surprise for me! Even better yet, if the client buys the spot I’ll get another $2500.
After this cool experience, Friday was not so good. I had what could only be described as a mini-nervous breakdown in relation to the whole life/job situation. I was just miserable and had a long talk with Jess about it all. We don’t really have much more of a clue than before, but it was good that we talked about it. Basically the problem is that I swing wildly between two extremes. One being “Hey everything is starting to take off and a real job would only prohibit me from adequate pursuing these fruits to fruition”. The other being “What the hell am I thinking? I have no idea if any of these avenues will actually be able to support life ever. I need to get a real job and just accept that I’ll have to pursue these things as a hobby only”.
Admittedly, we could scrape along at least until January on my meager earnings, plus perhaps borrowing some money from Craig (who has said he’s happy to help me out) knowing that I have some decent money coming to me in December. It would still be a stretch though until Jess can get a job.
The main problem is that all the things I’m pursuing really require full time dedication to make them happen. I may try and take some job at least until such time as it becomes a problem. For example if some project comes up that I couldn’t get off work for, then worry about quitting then. I don’t know. It’s very complicated.
Will and Annika have both filled me with envy (even though I know his job can suck, it’s still way cool and at least related to his interests and desires) and also inspired me. I actually sat down and worked on my screenplay today. I’m terribly lazy about it, and I really want to finish it so that I can get on to the painful process of letting others critique it, and then doing massive re-writes I’m sure. Then I can submit it to an agent, who will love it and get me a large money deal with someone to direct and star in it, because it’s feckin rules. I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be).
2 more things:
1. my mailbox was karmically balanced today. I got a bill from our new cable company for 94.32, but after canceling HBO which we got free for a month, and using our free pay-per-view movie coupon for “Equilibrium” it was $80. I also got a check from our old cable company (I guess I paid for the month after we had left) for 86.75. Looks like my karma is in the good for about $6.75.
2. Twice in this entry, I have used parentheses wherein I really needed to end one sentence and start another . For example the sentence:

I’m convinced it’s my ticket out (OK, so I’m being just a bit insanely hopeful; it’s the only way to be.)

What the hell is the correct way to do that? I chose a semi-colon for lack of knowing what to do. Should the semi-colon be a period within the parentheses? Should I just not structure a sentence that way because it’s wrong? Help!