2012: Year of the Odd


A lot of people lost their jobs in 2012, myself included, and it really messed with my head.

This was the first time I’d ever been unemployed. Los Angeles is an expensive city, but my goal was to stay here.  So, the week after I got laid off, I emailed and called nearly everyone I knew, sent out my resume and portfolio, and joined five creative talent agencies. I hit the ground running, which yielded nothing until March—when I got a fairly steady gig at DIRECTV.  But in July, their creative team got the same speech that my creative team received in January: “I’m sorry, but we have to let all of you go.”

The next few months were quiet. No work. I began to doubt myself. Was I good enough? Why doesn’t anyone want me?  I’ve been writing professionally since I was 19, and working at advertising/promotions agencies since I was 23. I knew people appreciated my talent. I was still pounding the pavement.  So, why wasn’t my phone exploding with job offers?

I decided to use all of this extra time to write what I really wanted to write. I started this WordPress site, and I scoured Craigslist and entertainmentcareers.net for comedy or music writing projects. One of the jobs I landed was for a humor website—hahajk.com.  A satirical article that I wrote for Hahajk got the attention of another site called damemagazine.com.  The managing editor of DAME knew an editor at Guyism, which got my foot in the door for guyism.com. I was ecstatic and honored to be writing for these three online editorial sites. And it encouraged me to try to write for other publications, as well as delve into writing songs and poems.

I also spent a lot of my time doing things I that I never did when I had a full-time job: I hiked during the day, went to the Getty Museum, lined up DJ gigs, and sometimes spent lazy afternoons in bed.  But most importantly during this time, I got the chance to develop a close relationship with the person I love and spend a lot of time with him. I’d imagine this is more difficult to do when you both work a significant number of hours per week. You have a limited time to get to know each other—usually, only on some weeknights or weekends. And honestly, I don’t think we’d be as close as we are now if it wasn’t for me losing my job. I started to see one of the few perks to being unemployed.

But the downside of this free time was that I had too much time to think. I thought about whether or not I should pursue a new avenue in writing…or a similar area of communications. I dwelled on the fact that I was turning 40 this year. I had more hours in the day to overanalyze everything. I beat myself up for not being more motivated or original in my ideas. I was used to being surrounded by funny, talented, creative people. But when you’re a freelance writer, it’s just you, on your couch, with a laptop. I am highly sociable. I feed off other people and love collaborating with them. My coworkers were my friends and my family. We genuinely enjoyed being around each other. But being home every day made me feel lonely. I became that girl at Trader Joe’s who hung out by the free coffee in hopes of striking up a conversation with the retired old guy who’s also getting a cup of free coffee.

There was also the stress of not having a steady income.  Sure, I had all of this free time. But I couldn’t really go to restaurants or bars, or see bands play as much as I used to, because that costs money.  I tried to cut back on my expenses so I wouldn’t blow through my savings so quickly.  (Rent in LA takes out the biggest chunk.)  I cancelled my landline (really…why does anyone need a landline anymore?), as well as cable. Thankfully, local broadcast TV is rife with guilty pleasure programming like Cheaters and Baggage. I also talked my gym down on their prices, as well as my Internet service provider. I was getting good at being unemployed.

Of course, the EDD helped–somewhat. I’ve decided that they screw you just enough so that you are reliant upon them for money. If I tried to get a full-time regular job (bartender, server, etc.) I would have actually made less than my EDD earnings.  I’ve also learned that if there are ever any accidental discrepancies on my form, they are quick to stop my EDD payment.  And anyone who’s unemployed knows that there is no way to get through to a live representative on the English EDD hotline. Thankfully, my friend, Anne, clued me in to call on the Vietnamese line (they speak English, as well).  You have to memorize which numbers to hit during the recorded intro (1, 6 and 7), though. Unless you speak Vietnamese.

But after months of being unemployed, with no freelance work, I started to expect my phone to be silent. I woke up later and later. Nobody needed me to be anywhere at any certain time—so what was the point? I was slipping into  something dark, and I was having trouble finding my way out. This wasn’t me. I felt out of control. I could no longer be completely happy. I had to feel valued and needed.  I struggled with whether or not my job was my identity. I realized that my actual job didn’t give me self-worth; it was my value to the other people I worked with that made me feel good. Previously, my days were filled with bouncing from one project to the next, but now, I had nothing. I had to pull myself out of this funk, so I forced myself to do things to stay busy. I volunteered at a WriteGirl event. I went to a happy hour for a writer’s group that I joined after I got laid off. I started writing more posts on my blog. I read other writers’ blogs for inspiration, like Kaboomis Copy—who offered tips on finding work, such as contacting the people who view your LinkedIn profile.

I kept my head up and pursued all possibilities. I believed something would happen. Of course, the talent agencies that I joined earlier in the year had assured me that summers are usually slow for freelance writers.  Finally, in December, I worked an insane number of hours for two agencies. And they kept calling me to work more for them. They respected my work and valued me. It’s weird, but that was what I needed. And with these jobs, I got to work with other creative people.  I missed having coworkers. I guess I’ve always been lucky at my previous jobs to work with amazing people.

And now, it is January 1, 2013. While no year of my life has been predictable, 2012 was, especially, an odd departure from the others. I feel like I took this past year to discover things about myself and venture through unfamiliar territory. Although I still don’t have a full-time job, I feel better and more optimistic—about employment and life, in general.

I survived this year. I didn’t let it break me.

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Listen Up: Nico Vega’s “Gravity”

A bad-ass video for a bad-ass song. Best line: ‘You’re never gonna thrill me. But you can kiss my ass.’ [Side note: Yes, I said ‘ass’ way too much in these two sentences. So what?]

Listen at a loud volume.

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Kicking Off Movember with a Crop of Magnificent Moustaches

November is a time when leaves turn vibrant orange, the air is crisp and smells of crackling fires, and threadlike stubble starts to fill in the once-barren upper lips of men everywhere.  Yes, I’m talking about Movember—the worldwide annual charity event that inspires men to grow their finest displays of moustachery in order to raise money for prostrate and testicular cancer initiatives. These men begin growing their ‘stache on November 1st, then invite their friends to support and sponsor them in their hair affair by making donations to the cause.

In honor of this very noble undertaking, as well as to inspire and encourage all participants (“Mo Bros”), here are some of the finest moustaches in history:

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‘The Shining’: Scenes That Scare the $%&* Out of Me

Who knew two little girls in matching blue dresses speaking in unison could induce such a spine-tingling reaction? The brilliant Stanley Kubrick, that’s who. From blood pouring out of enormous elevators to an a seductress emerging from a bathtub to the horrifying discovery that the same sentence has been repeatedly typed over and over again as part of an alleged ‘novel-in-progress’…This movie was pure genius—down to every detail.  He even made the bartender menacing. And everyone knows that a man who pours you a drink is your friend.

I’ve seen a lot of horror films, but The Shining is my all-time favorite. So, in honor of Halloween, here are [in my opinion] the most bone-chilling clips from this classic thriller:

The Shining: The Original Trailer

Come play with us…

Dyslexia of the dead…

Correcting the family’s behavior…


5 Fabulous Songs to Celebrate National Coming Out Day

Wave your rainbow flags, (no, not you, Chick-fil-a or Newt Gingrich) and show your pride: October 11th marks the official internationally observed National Coming Out Day, which celebrates individuals in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and raises awareness of the civil rights movement. As a Hollywood/West Hollywood resident, I’ve discovered that there are certain songs that SCREAM “gay.” (Or, at least they do in my 7 am all-male spin class at Crunch.)  Here are five upbeat tunes that will make you want to drink your face off at The Abbey, then watch the drag show over martinis at Hamburger Mary’s in WeHo:

The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men”

Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

RuPaul’s “Supermodel”

Abba’s “Dancing Queen”

Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”

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7 Songs More Likely To Induce Clapping Than the Song In the VW Commercial

The omnipresent Volkswagen 2012 Beetle commercial that features the highly catchy “Clapping Song” (‘3-6-9, the goose drank wine’) got me thinking about hand claps in music. From The Game’s “How We Do” intro to Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” to The Black Keys’ “Howlin’ For You,” hand-claps inject a lively punch wherever they spring up in a song. But some hand-clap tunes are so compelling, they arouse the urge to clap along. You can’t fight it. Regardless of how plentiful or sparse the claps are, you must succumb to them. So, I devised a list of these tempting little numbers. Here are 7 hand-clap songs that you cannot listen to without clapping along:

Hall & Oates’ “Private Eyes”—One day, Warren Oates was trimming his burly ‘stache in the bathroom when he got the brilliant idea to throw hand-claps into what might have otherwise been a meh song. Or, maybe it was Daryl Hall and his girlfriend, Sara, who came up with it over pillow talk. Either way, it ended up being #1 on the charts in 1981 for two weeks in a row. Perhaps it was the claps? Regardless, if you can get through this song without clapping along, you are a far stronger person than I.

David Bowie’s “A Space Oddity”—Bowie had a vision when he put on his platform boots, dyed his hair vibrant red and crooned about outer space. And that vision included carefully placing two sets of hand-claps after the bridges of this song.  These genius hand-claps punctuate the helplessness expressed in the lyrics, ‘Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…’ And when you hear them, the hold is strong, as if you were kidnapped and anally-probed by an alien. And when you returned to Earth, the first thing you thought was, “Must. Clap. Hands.”

Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”—Written by Queen bassist John Deacon, this was supposedly inspired by a documentary he saw on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. But just because it speaks of machine guns ready to blow doesn’t mean it can’t induce massive hip-shaking and funky hand-claps. It’s probably one of Queen’s catchiest tracks. It’s also the song I hear in my head at the end of a bad date.

Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night”—These Scots knew how to get the crowd pumped. Even if you hear this on a Tuesday night, you’ll feel like it’s Saturday. This spirited song demands you put your hands together enthusiastically and dance a Scottish jig, while you drink Scotchy-Scotch and chant everyone’s favorite day of the week. When The Bay City Rollers produced this track, they sent a powerful message to a nation of listeners: You, too, can spell and clap at the same time.

Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”—This track has it all, moaning, squealing, simulated sex, and yes, hand-claps.  Proof that Prince is, indeed, a musical genius. When you hear “Little Red Corvette,” it prompts you to do three things: Chuckle when Prince compares himself to a jockey (the Purple One is 5’2,” also the average height of a jockey). Attempt to sing, ‘Girl, you’ve an ass like I’ve never seen’ in Prince’s soulful wail. And involuntarily clap twice rhythmically, every single time he sings the chorus.

Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In the Middle”—Before Mr. Blonde mangled the cop’s ear in Reservoir Dogs, this bouncy tune evoked images of a discussion taking place across people a dinner table—which was actually Stealers Wheel’s inspiration for the song. (It was written as a jab to the music industry.) Its infectious beat is enhanced by three minutes and thirty seconds of those magical hand-claps.

The Kinks’ “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy”—Despite having bipolar disorder, a suicide attempt, failed marriages and a turbulent relationship with his younger brother, Dave, The Kinks’ Ray Davies must have been having a really good day when he wrote this.   He sings ‘happy’ ten times, and ‘love’ almost as much. And let’s not forget, there are hand-claps in it. If Ray Davies can be that happy, maybe EVERYONE can be that happy.


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Reason #7 Why I Miss Having Cable: Brickleberry

Brickleberry is a new animated series that premieres this Tuesday, September 25th, on Comedy Central.  It centers around a crew of dysfunctional forest rangers who work at a second-rate national park that might be shutting down, unless a new ranger can inspire them to save it. Daniel Tosh (Tosh.O) produced the show and is also the voice of an irreverent talking house bear, Malloy. Additionally, the show features It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Kaitlin Olsen as the voice for the newest park ranger—Ethel Anderson, a raging alcoholic with questionable morals. Other rangers include a manly woman, Connie Cunaman (voiced by show creator Roger Black), whose vagina growls like a grizzly when she’s excited. Then, there’s Denzel (Jerry Minor from Eastbound & Down), the African-American ranger who isn’t afraid of the woods and Steve (Dave Herman) who is Ranger of the Month. The oldest ranger, Woody Johnson (Tom Kenny, who also did the voice of Spongebob Squarepants) has a military background and a childhood that was above average in the scarred-for-life department.

Will this show be irreverent?  Does a bear sh*t in the woods?  Like everything else Tosh touches, the jokes will tread heavily into the gutter—from Woody’s response to the Malloy’s location (‘Oh, he’s like my dead wife—in the woods somewhere’) to Denzel expressing his love for geriatric ladies (‘I’ve been in more white women than osteoporosis’).  I think the tagline, “Nature Is Filthy,” says it all.

Note: To those with cable, I envy you.

Here’s a clip from the first episode: