I just spotted the first sign of summer. No, not a robin (we don’t have them in California). It was a group of women all dressed in shorts, tank tops and wearing flops, the official uniform of warm weather.
When I was a kid, summer stood out as oasis from all the stress of being a teenager–school exams, homework, dating, pimples, trying to buy beer and get into clubs with a fake driver’s license, and hoping that Annette would answer my love letter soon.
Summer represented three months of uninterrupted bliss, hanging out with friends, sleeping late, working on my tan, rock concerts with music so loud your ears were still ringing a week later, summer romances, cruising Main Street, making out in the back row of the drive-in theater, scarfing down burgers and milk shakes brought to your car by cute girls on roller skates, throwing up in the bushes in front of your parent’s house, or working/goofing off at a meaningless job to get a store discount and enough money to take your girl out on Saturday night and maybe get to second base. This is what most mature adults today think about when they refer to the “good old days.”
Today, school administrators push for year-round school so students “won’t forget.” Kids go to school now through June and start back again in August. Really? July? That’s it? One of the big perks of summer was remaining uninformed for twelve straight weeks and destroying as many brain cells as possible. We wanted to forget the previous year of school–being turned down a record 24 times trying to get a date for the junior prom, and having your teacher scream at you in front of the entire class for having the math skills of a fence post.
We are also now deprived of a summer’s worth of TV reruns. Yes, the same shows with the same adverting you had already watched on the three TV networks the previous nine months. There were no DVRs. No 300 channels, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime to choose from. No video games either, unless you count “pong” — two straight line with a circle bouncing back & forth going “Ping” on one side of screen and “Pong” on the other. No wonder we spent so much time outdoors in the summer.
Now mass media offers us three “seasons” of new series & streaming movies that we can watch anywhere/anytime on our tablets or cell phones, but could never get to everything interesting, even if we watched 24 x 7 until our eyeballs fell out. I’m still trying to get through all the episodes of Gilligan’s Island (yeah, okay, I’m a little behind).
Kids don’t need fake driver’s licenses for beer anymore (“ugh, too fattening”), they just need a “condition” to get a medical marijuana card. (By the way, any of my readers have some helpful hints on doing that?)
And whatever happened to spending the summer at the beach–hanging out, surfing, ogling the women, wild night parties around the fire, with bongos & guitars, like in the movie “Bikini Beach.” Drive down to Santa Monica in the summer now and the beach is deserted, except for a few tourists. Not sure where all the students are (maybe cramming for their SATs). Of course, tanning is out now…something called skin cancer and premature aging.
(Old man talking to his grandson) “I remember in July 2014, where I spent the entire month binge watching all 202 episodes of “Game of Thrones,” while finishing up my masters degree in physics.”
Doesn’t quite cut it, does it? I’m sticking with my summer memories, thank you very much. Now excuse me, I want to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Maybe I’ll go make sand castles on the beach, or visit the mailbox to see if today is the day that return letter from Annette shows up…
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “Drafted,” available at #amazon.com, as well as the soon to be released new thriller novel, “Classified Connection.”
For the past five years, I have subjected myself to freezing temperatures, 100 degree plus heat, 5 am calls, and all night shoots, to provide background or human “atmosphere” for feature movies and television shows. Normally you are one of many in a scene, lost in a sea of faces and costumes that can only be identified as a smeary blur if you put the scene on pause. Is it “glamorous?” Sort of…once and awhile, you get to see famous movie stars up close and occasionally share the same frame. Do you make a fortune and get invited to exclusive Hollywood parties? No. Is it “acting?” Sort of…
You can make a decent income if you work a lot. Not easy to do. There are at least 5000 applications for every acting job posted…even the free ones. If you do get a job, the average union wages (SAG (Screen Actors Guild)-AFTRA) are around $150 for an 8 hour day…better than a Wal-Mart greeter, but not as consistent. You are lucky if you can get three or four gigs a month…not enough normally to earn the $20k a year necessary to get benefits afforded almost every other worker in America. Occasionally you get into time and a half or double time if you work 8-13 hours. Double time is referred to by most actors as “golden time,” for obvious reasons. Wages can be supplemented by additional remuneration for mileage, working in smoke, meal penalties, clothing allowance, etc. But you will never get rich being a background actor.
So if not for fame or fortune, why do we do it? As a retiree, I am lucky enough to not need the income. So for me, it’s just being part of the world of entertainment. It is always what I wanted to do with my life, but chose for my family the practical traditional job route to put a roof overhead, food on the table, and clothes on our back. I always loved telling stories, and making people laugh. I don’t expect to ever be a “big star” at my age, but I still dream about making it on TV or the silver screen. I love being on set if only in a minor role and hanging out with famous stars like Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, John Goodman, Ben Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, Paul Dano, Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, and Ashton Kutcher.
But the biggest reason is the fantasy that you will be “discovered” like Lana Turner at the corner drug store. The term is “upgrade” where the director, or first AD (assistant director), suddenly spot your enormous potential and pulls you out of the masses to have a scene with dialogue. Being upgraded is an urban myth amongst background players, like the holy grail. It never happens to you, but to a friend of a friend of a friend.
Proud to announce it finally happen to me on the feature film, Medicine Men. I got pulled out by the director to deliver lines I got to write for the final scene. My big moment…will it lead to fame and fortune or will I fade back into the background? Who knows…but, that’s entertainment. Regardless, I will keep going and for sure I will see you in the movies. I’ll be the third cowboy with a hopeful look standing to the left of the big star…
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “Drafted,” now available on Kindle on amazon.com.
10. Tired of putting on pants.
9. Wife wants him to take out the trash every day.
8. Kids are starting to call his gardener, “Daddy.”
7. Caught Paul Shaffer cheating on him with another band.
6. Ran out of celebrity questions two years ago.
4. Starting to believe #ConanO’brien phone threats to make David permanently disappear.
3. AARP offered him $100 to be their national spokesperson.
2. Dressing room in Ed Sullivan Theater is haunted by Elvis (and he won’t stop singing Viva Las Vegas).
…and finally, the number one reason David Letterman wants to leave his TV show next year…
1. So he can star in a series of Paramount Hope/Crosby “road pictures” remakes with his long-time TV competitor, Jay Leno.
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure, “Drafted,” available on Kindle at amazon.com.
Now that Disney has the rights to all future Star Wars movies, can the time be far off when we read in the trades all about Star Wars: The Musical. Now I believe in being prepared for future opportunities, so I have begun writing songs to submit to John Williams who will undoubtedly be selected to do the score.
Here is my first composition, “‘Cause He’s a Wookie,” sung to the 1928 melody, “Makin’ Whoopee!” (Google the tune if you don’t know it). Let me know what you think.
Kind of hairy, Kind of tall, Make him mad, throws you against the wall, His buddy’s Han, they’ve got a bond, ’cause he’s a wookie.
As a baby, took lots of talcum, now he’s co-pilot, of the Millennium Falcon, Flying through space, with that shaggy face, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Picture a planet of tree houses, Wookies high in the air, Picture Yoda recruiting, The Empire had best beware.
He’s friends with Luke, Princess Leia too, Obi-Wan Kenobi, once took him to a zoo, Storm Troopers get out of his way, day after day, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Mind tends to wander, not too smart, but strong enough, to tear the arms off a Gundark, He’ll call you later, grunt when he’s found Vader, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Don’t need no light saber, or a blaster, when rescuing Solo, from another disaster, even when encased in carbon, or locked in a prison yardom, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Owes Jabba lots of money, Plays chess like a pro, Thinks Jar Jar talks kind of funny, Always on the go.
Heard at the premiere, stole Fisher’s brassiere, costume hasn’t been cleaned, for 40 years, no wonder no one, wanted to sit near, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Palpatine, treats him mean, Emperor tried, to eat his spleen, Lucas says he’s fine, but won’t give him a line, ’cause he’s a wookie.
Yes, his future’s bleary, and he’s getting weary, of being a wookie…
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comic adventure novel, “Drafted,” now available at amazon.com
I don’t make resolutions on the 1st day of the year, for all the normal reasons – still hung over from the night before, eyes out of focus from too much football, my engorged right hand remains stuck in the cookie jar.
Besides, even those folks brave enough to forecast their behavior for the next 364 days, rarely meet their own hopeful expectations. So, what’s the point?
The failure to reach these goals, I think, lies in lack of support. For example, the new treadmill sitting in your dining room, remains unused, because you can’t find the instruction book that tells you how to turn it on, but more importantly, you don’t have a friend cheering you to beat your five-day Boston Marathon record, or better yet, an Army Drill Sargent yelling at you to get off your ass and start running.
Then, I got an idea.
What if we made our resolutions together? Ten outstanding plausible goals we could all work on together in 2014…a team effort…full of promise, sharing, encouragement, love, support, fun, chips & salsa.
Now the difficult part will be getting seven billion souls to agree on these goals, because, let’s face it, we all do not travel in the same social circles.
But, with a fairly clear head, I put a lot of thought into my proposed list of ten common wishes for the coming year, which if achieved will be to the overall, well-being of us all (except for a few distant relatives in Cleveland who never liked any of my ideas).
1. Convince Hollywood, Dustin Hoffman, and Warren Beatty to take another shot at “Ishtar,” using the Hope & Crosby road picture writers, if they are still alive.
2. Change the weight tables, so 180 lbs at five foot four inches is considered normal and dangerously skinny.
3. Have scientists invent a calorie filter for fast food.
4. Achieve instant World Peace through a worldwide TV broadcast by famous hypnotist, Peter Powers (or we will all think we are naked, or a chicken for several hours…we’ll never know).
5. For one week, you and your boss get to trade places, and he/she cannot fire you after the experience.
6. Nutritionists will make desserts a major food group and a critical part of a balanced diet.
7. In a historic move, President Obama will add plastic and gastric bypass surgery to 100% covered Obama-care procedures.
8. Scientist will develop a machine (like in Lil’ Abner), where average people walk in one side and come out the other in perfect shape with washboard abs that never go away.
9. Everyone will find true love when animal shelters give each family or individual, who wants one, a puppy or kitten of your choice, plus a year’s worth of pet food and vet care.
10. Finally, we will all pool our money to buy power ball lottery tickets for the largest jackpot ever, pick the winning number, and share equally in the seven billion dollar prize!
Feel free to add an 11th personal goal, like learn the piano, read more, call your mother more often, or stop watching Duck Dynasty on moral principle. Now, as soon as all of you email me your approval of my list, we can get started…right after a short nap.
Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy-adventure novel “Drafted” (amazon.com), and the soon to be released political thriller, “Party Favors.”
As a retired person, actor, author, father, musician, home owner…I used to get, on average, ten-twenty calls a day between my cell and home phone. Most of those are unsolicited. I have memorized the pitches. “You said to call back in a few months to see if you needed any remodeling.” “How high is your electric bill? Do you realize how much you could save with solar.” “Do you own a walk-in tub?” “When was the last time you had your hearing tested?”
They always say they are calling from your town, but their accent gives away their true location…somewhere south of Zanzibar or Pago Pago.
I was never afraid of the sales calls (it’s been years since I got an obscene phone call…sigh, those were the days), but got irritated enough with each unwanted interruption to raise my blood pressure several points…until I had a great idea.
Now when I get an unsolicited call, instead of quickly hanging up while the auto dialer clicks in my ear, before the salesperson comes on the line…I wait with glee to mess with their day.
I now answer as another call center, responding to their pitch, with one of my own…”Do you own your own home? Are you tired of repainting every few years? Do you realize how much money you could save with aluminum siding? “When can we come visit to give you an estimate?”
Amazing how quickly they hang up.
By the way, my unsolicited calls have dropped by 50% as the word spreads…and I almost sold siding to one caller from India. Who knows, I may make some money one day.
— Rich Allan, author of the comedy-adventure, “Drafted.”