October 26, 2016
That's the tongue-in-check moniker I've donned upon the open space in which I regularly run. About a mile from our house, Rattlesnake Bottoms is several acres of dirt paths, a dry river bed, and a horse-riding enclosure.
And rattlesnakes. Lots and lots of rattlesnakes.
Or so I've been told.
I've probably run down there 40 or 50 times, and I've never seen a rattlesnake. In fact, I saw my very first snake just last week, a harmless gopher snake sunning herself six feet off my path, completely disinterested in the sweaty dude tip-toeing closer to inspect her tail for a rattle.
Look, I hate snakes. Even the ones that can't kill me. I wasn't thrilled to see a head on that surprisingly malleable-looking stick. And to be perfectly honest, I can't say definitively I didn't see a rattle. Like I'm gonna get that close to check.
At any rate, assuming it wasn't a rattlesnake - and for the purpose of my illustration, let's assume just that - I have defied the odds by running rattlesnake-free in an area that multiple locals have told me is ripe with rattlers.
Defying odds is great when it's in our favor. I feel fortunate to have avoided rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Bottoms. I'm also thankful for every year I've avoided a direct lightning strike, each McDonald's meal that doesn't destroy my digestive track, and all the bug bites that weren't from West Nile infected mosquitoes.
But I still can't seem to defy the odds of landing significant auditions as a no-name average Joe.
I've yet to audition for a network or premium cable scripted show or major studio motion picture. I've been repped by well-respected agents the whole time I've been in L.A., but I've simply had too much working against me.
There's a pecking order out here I wasn't expecting, and I'm the krill trying to swim out of the baleen. When I got to Los Angeles, I had a ton of acting experience. But I didn't have any recognizable credits, a remarkable (or ethnic) look, or friends/family that could get me "in the door." Thankfully, two of those roadblocks are starting to be cleared.
I'll never be ethnic or remarkable-looking, but I'm gaining credits and making more friends. Something's bound to give. Hopefully.
Notice I haven't mentioned anything about talent? Talent does not a career start, but a career it sustains. I've yet to display my talent (or lack thereof) in front of the major players. I'm not dismissing the crime reenactment shows I've done, because they've all been a lot of fun, and I worked with great people on each of them. But they don't pay the rent.
Sure, I worked three days on NCIS, but the situation surrounding that whole opportunity is unique and something I'll write about another time. And it was barely a role, so it doesn't count.
Mr. Berle (quote above) should be pleased with me. I've built many doors, but I still need the right people to open them. Opportunity is hard to come by out here, but when it comes, man, I'll be ready.
October 13, 2016
"Most of us don't think about miracles that we could possibly do. We don't have a vocabulary of how God works with the specific things that He does, and we don't know how to align ourselves with what He is doing so that we can be His vehicle on the earth to deliver a miracle." - Bruce Wilkinson
I met a dear actor friend recently at Echo Park, my first visit to this valiant attempt at natural serenity in the heart of Los Angeles. Our walk around the "lake" placed us in the perfect spot at the perfect time to snap a photo of the fountain, the Good Year Blimp, a commercial jet, and the moon at the very moment they aligned perfectly together.
Trivial luck? Inconsequential coincidence? Silly throwaway moment? Yeah. Probably.
But it triggered a thought. And that's a dangerous thing in my malleable mind.
As conversation with my friend vacillated between acting jobs, life in LA, future projects, health, and God, the coincidental alignment in the dusk sky illustrated almost too perfectly our struggles as creatives. So many moving parts have to align for us to even have a chance at any kind of success.
Ricky Schroder said this about his full runs on NYPD Blue and 24: "It's great work, but everything has to align. The producers have to want you; the network has to want you; there has to be great writing; and it's not as easy as it may appear to the outsiders to make all those things align."
Just cuz you eat with silver spoons doesn't mean things come easy, eh?
Casting Director, David Rapaport (@RapaportCasting), recently posted on Twitter the graphic on the right. Out of 3,638 actors submitted for a specific role, only 272 were scheduled to audition. Don't get me wrong, 272 is a TON of actors to audition! But simply getting the opportunity to get into the room is a miracle.
Let's have some math fun. Make Danica McKellar proud.
Of the 3,638 actors submitted for whatever role Mr. Rapaport was casting (anything from a guest star on Supergirl to a co-star on The Flash or a principal on a yet-to-be-released pilot), 7.5% were invited to audition. Of those auditioning, assuming this is for one role only, the chances of earning the role are 0.37%. If we take a step back and calculate the odds of earning this role based on the full number of submissions, we get 0.027% odds.
Just for fun, do you know what the odds are of winning $100 in the Powerball? 0.007%. The grand prize odds are 0.00000034%.
But I'M the crazy one for pursuing a Hollywood career instead of playing the lottery.
Back to the alignment of the fountain, the blimp, the jet, and the moon. Sounds like a Narnia sequel, doesn't it?
I've spent so much time treating myself like the moon in this alignment. The top. The pinnacle. The achievement of the goal thanks to the alignment of the pieces below.
But then I got to thinking - What if I'm the fountain to someone else's moon? This doesn't have to be all about me. I'd prefer if it wasn't, actually.
As I've mentioned before, so many unbelievable things aligned in order for my family to get out to Southern California. Yet as we face scary uncertainty in the months ahead, it's hard to avoid circling the track of second-guessing. What if we really did blow our entire life savings only to retreat empty-handed back to Minnesota to start all over again?
But then I step outside my own goals and ponder my involvement in somebody else's goals. Maybe I'm here not to reach a personal goal, but to help somebody else reach theirs.
You know what? I'm cool with that.
I'm just a vessel. I'm in a rented body breathing borrowed air. If God needs me to help align somebody else's stars, I'm thrilled to be the fountain or the Good Year Blimp! Fat jokes notwithstanding.
As a matter of fact, I'm in the process right now of launching some projects that could prove very valuable to others. I'm anxious to share more about the projects, but for now, let me just say that without amazing alignments of circumstances, these exciting opportunities would never have blimped their way under my moon. Now there's a visual.
I've connected with some amazing people out here and I can't know fully the impact I've had on them, if any. Again, it's not about me, but about my position in others' alignments that I'm focusing on now.
Somehow the thought trail from the alignment of the fountain, the blimp, the jet, and the moon landed at Genesis 22 where God told Abraham to bring his son, Isaac, to a mountain to sacrifice as a burnt offering.
I've always reflected on Abraham's part in this story. Until now.
What about Isaac?
Look, there is no way Abraham could have kept completely cool about the intended outcome of this journey. Isaac had to have suspected something, right? I get that Abraham was being an obedient servant, but come on! If he didn't stop a time or two with nervous diarrhea or anxious up-chucking, I would be shocked.
So let's not overlook Isaac's role in this lesson. He was a part of God's plan to align Abraham rightly with the Will of God. Isaac could have fled or put up a fight or brought up his suspicions to his mom. But he didn't. Isaac willingly went along regardless of any suspicions he might have had. Must have had.
We all know the story ends with God providing a ram to sacrifice in Isaac's place, but neither Abraham nor Isaac knew of God's plan as they willingly obliged to the call.
Maybe I'm more of an Isaac than an Abraham. Maybe I won't be blessed with many nations, but I will help an Abraham be blessed with his.
At any rate, I'm just willing to be used in whatever way God wants to use me.
And right now, I feel like He wants to use me to tell a joke.
You see, what most don't know about Abraham and Isaac is that before the journey up the mountain, Abraham needed to upgrade his GPS software. Unfortunately, his iPhone didn't have enough processor power (old phone, ya know?) to run the new software. Isaac told his dad not to install it, but Abraham insisted, saying, "God will provide the RAM."
I'm here all week. Try the salmon. It's delightful.