Friday, July 31, 2009

Disney, big scars, huge balls.

When I first moved to Los Angeles I interned at (the now disbanded) Sodium Entertainment. if you're interested. Actually, I don't know if they're exactly "disbanded" or what. There used to be four producers, then one moved to Uganda and one started working for this other company and the other two started working from home. So whatever that means is what happened to them. REGARDLESS. I had a motorcycle and my primary job for them was to drive things from point A (sodium) to point B (anywhere in LA) and often times I would find myself cruising down Olive Ave. in Burbank or jostling down the 134, heading out towards Calabassas and just off the freeway I would spy the Disney building. It's a large green structure with a picture of Mickey Mouse on the top. And as I drove by I'd wonder how one would acquire a job at a place like Disney. Did you send in your resume? Did you walk into the front lobby and demand an interview? Did you email a reel? What. Did. You. Do?

This morning I found myself parking in the Disney parking garage and marching through the rotating doors and into the marble lobby and I finally, five and a half years later, found myself answering my own question. How do you find yourself inside this building?

The answer is - you don't. It finds you. You do not join. You are invited.

I had to check in at the front desk. This black woman in her.......maybe early 50s? asks to see my ID. I hand her the goods. She looks at it and says, "WHAT is your first name? Is it.......JOHN?" And I say, "Yeah, John". And she says, "Okay.........I was just makin' sure". And then she says, "And WHAAAAT is your last name?" And she stares at my license like she can't believe her eyes. And I say, "Brookbank". And she looks at me and laughs and says, "Okay, I just thought my eyes were playin' tricks on me. I guess - I mean - I guess that IS your last name. I just had to check." John Brookbank. My name is JOHN Brookbank. She was behaving as though my license read Kareem Abdul Jabarr.

Upstairs, the bays were really nice and the producer I worked with had a great attitude. She spent the whole day surfing around for new (to you) furniture off of craigslist.

Here's just ONE of the many gems she found:

That is.......a high heel chair.

She took me FURTHER upstairs (11th floor), showed me around and introduced me to some people. I met a girl sitting on this giant ball instead of a chair. I almost said something to her, asked her a question, delved into the meaning behind this.....but didn't. Instead I just imagined the funny day when she actually had to bring that thing into the building and walk through the parking garage and the lobby and up the crowded elevator with this GIANT ball. I also thought about the day she gets fired and has to pack up her little shoebox of personal belongs and kick her chair / ball out the revolving front doors.

Downstairs (6th floor) I walked by an edit bay and saw this guy sitting in this crazy chair. I was sure it had something to do with ergonomics or back support or something. I was JUSt about to walk into his bay and strike up a conversation about it when I realized it was a fancy wheelchair.

Boy would THAT have been embarrassing.

"Hey, man - cool chair. Where'd you get it?"

"The hospital. I can't walk."

In my bay I worked on a sizzle reel for High School Musical 4. That's right ladies and beans, there's a part FOUR coming out and it stars a whole new class!!!

Can't wait.

fer sher.

My dog had surgery today. I had a sinking feeling in my guts all day that she wasn't going to make it through BUT alas.....she did and all is well in the Brookbank home. Here's a photog of TWO of her SEVEN battle wounds.

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Finally, I'll try to end this mess on a positive note. As promised (I'm such a good guy) here's a link to the James Bond piece that I cut for Impact (action on demand).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some updates, some phasing out, a pool.

Patrick and Molly and all the small things. 13 episodes and they all have rough cuts complete. I was planning on doing the sound mixing myself. I borrowed a book from a friend to learn Soundtrack Pro, which is basically Final Cut Studio's answer to ProTools. It lets you mess with a wide range of effects and sound filters and after going through the book, it really seems like a good program and with the right person at the controls, it might actually be a GREAT program.

That said, just because you own Final Cut Pro and understand it's functionality, that does not necessarily make you an editor. I own Soundtrack Pro and seem to be able to wrap my noggin around it's cogs, but my brainwork for audio is just not there. I've seen sound guys at the wheel and they are incredible and worth their weight in gold.

My boss from MGM sent me an email today recommending me for a job over at Disney. We touched base and I'm starting tomorrow for a week, cutting a sizzle reel for High School Musical (ZACH EFFING EFRON!!!). I think I'm going to invest a bit of this money into a legit sound mix. I'm planning on using my connections through MGM to get some kind of a hookup. Hopefully it's well worth my time. Next I gotta figure out something for this color correcting business...

I got my grubby little paws on a Bond.........James Bond piece that I cut for MGMhd while I was over there a few weeks ago today. I'm compressing it for the web and that SHOULD be up tomorrow. I'll include a link to my reel to chickity-check it out if you wanna waste a solid TWO minutes on BOND BABES.

It always sort of disappoints me when I sit down to write and all that comes out is updates.

Jade and I went over to our friends Scott and Mary's house today. Mary is out of town. Scott's mom is IN town. We went down to the pool and took a dip. Scott informed me that he thought diving boards were being phased out because people kept getting hurt on them. Jade thought that merry-go-rounds (not carousels) were being phased out as well. This bothered me as I am a fan of both.

We called the vet to schedule an appointment for Kaidance and they said it was going to be a few weeks before they could get her in BUT.....oh wait.......there's been a cancellation and they can GET HER IN TOMORROW!!! I'm sure she's not too stoked about that, but hey, whaddaya do? Those tumors have gotta come off one way or the other and sooner is better than later. (We know this from experience, fer shur).

Last time we took her to the vet, she curled into a little ball in the corner and her teeth actually, truly, legitimately starting chattering. It would have been sad if it wasn't so funny. I mean, we all felt bad for her, but it was a little cute.

I am a pure monster.

Midwest Monster.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Fifth Floor Revelation

While lying on my cancer bed in Arcadia Methodist, I often found myself staring out the window, watching cars pass by five floors below me. I wondered where they were going, where they were coming from and if any of it made them happy. I wondered about all the problems in their lives and how they felt they were dealing with them; dying parents, cheating spouses, bad children. Jerk boss, car problems, financial crisis. I wondered if they turned to friends or family or God. I wondered what they were doing with their lives. And it was during one of these moments that I wondered what I was doing with MY life.

I decided that when I got better. When I could walk - really WALK again - I'd never take another step for granted. When I drove, I'd roll down the window instead of turning on the AC and I'd stick my hand into the wind and feel the freedom of speed. And when I eat and drink, I take big bites, chew vigorously, taste finely, and swallow deeply. I read more now than ever because it doesn't make me sick and I listen to music as loud as I can because I can feel it inside of me.

But what was I DOING with myself?

I needed to GIVE something. I needed to DONATE something. My time. My abilities. My skill set. I decided to volunteer on the creative arts / editing team at the church we attend. Last week I had my orientation. We meet every Wednesday for two hours. The first hour is a praise and worship situation, which, while the worship on Sundays is titillating, the worship on Wednesdays is strangely intimate. It's a small group of people standing in a very tight space, all singing very loudly, hands outstretched. It's quite an experience and I feel there is a unique freedom in it.

Leaving the meeting today, I was walking down the sidewalk and this guy walks past me and then shouts back, "Hey! hey, hey, hey! I KNOW YOU!" I turn around and head back over to him. He says, "Yeah - I KNOW you. I saw you here - a couple months ago - you looked real sick and I puh-RAYED for you!" And then I remembered. Most things I don't remember. He says, "Yeah - I prayed for you! You look so much better! I'm so happy!" And he gave me a big hug and prayed for me again, right there, on the spot.

It is a wonderful and serene, overpowering, abundant feeling to be surrounded by people, really nothing more than strangers, who donate THEIR time to YOU by praying for you. They stop whatever it is they're doing, they set aside time in their day, to say a prayer for a person they've never met, but who they understand needs it.

I asked this guy his name. He said, "Evan". I thanked him and apologized for not being able to remember. I told him the chemo made me gummy. He laughed and was just truly, TRULY genuinely happy to know I had made it through. I told him I'd see him next week and we went our separate ways. I began walking down the sidewalk, past the Burger King, into the street. Halfway across the street I began to smile and jog, merely because I could. Because my legs would carry me and I wanted to feel it. Fifteen feet up I burst into a full sprint, the wind pressing against my face, my arms and legs pumping. My breathing accelerated and it felt good to be alive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Bel-Air Infertility Clinic cancellation

Today I asked Jade if she wanted to eat at this queer little Peruvian restaurant down the street. She politely informed me that she doesn't eat food from third world countries.

We traveled down to one of LA's "finest" infertility clinics. It strikes me as strange to call a place you go to get pregnant an "infertility clinic". You want an abortion, you go to an.........abortion clinic. You don't go to the Pregnancy clinic. Maybe pregnancy clinic sounded too sexy. Maybe they thought people would think it was a place you went to do the dirty with clinical help.

We arrived ten minutes late to discover that this place was located in Bel-Air. I asked Jade how she found it. She said the internet. I asked her why she chose them. She said they sent her a packet. I said she was very easy to sway.

After discovering that parking was going to be $20 we decided to just cancel our appointment. We can't afford a doctor's office that can afford to charge it's patients 20 bucks fer parking.

Don't get the wrong ideer. We're not trying to have kids right now........I mean......we're TRYING. We're trying al the time, you know what I'm saying? Cheers.

I feel like this is the perfect place to make some frozen sperm joke about me being a "POP"sicle, but nothing is coming to me.

i saw a 60 year old woman who looked a little like the mom from "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" driving around in a TransAm today.

I love The Valley. I love where we live. Being over in Bel-Air is very strange. It's very out of place for the B's. And maybe THAT more than the monetary issue is why we chose to leave. They aren't our people. It was too clean. Too crisp. And in a bad way.

We took Woodcliffe all the way back and popped out at Ventura. It immediately felt like home - the run down businesses and Mexicans everywhere was really just like a welcome back party. Everytime.

I finished reading Fahrenheit 451 today. It's a book about censorship by Ray Bradbury. There is an interview with him in the back of the book about how some group at this local college decided to edit out all the "hells" and "damns" in the book. Censoring a book on censorship. It's like an episode of Seinfeld.

Jade was staring at meat in the grocery store yesterday. She was deciding what to get. I reached over and pinched her arm and she screamed, surprised. The crowd of people standing about us stopped what they were doing and stared. I was embarrassed. I just smiled like everything was cool. Jade later told me that she felt like an abused wife and that everyone probably felt sorry for her.

My dog has cancer. We just found this out a few days ago. We put anti-itch cream on her big red tumor to help her. She licks it off. Eats it. Devours the medicine. Does this help?

We're working on gathering some investors for the film. Things are looking up up UP and we're really excited to see what the coming months bring. We plan on going back to SD in mid-Sept / early Octo-mom to meet with some different people. We're very excited. My godson is also possibly getting baptized while we're back.

That said, there are 12 / 13 rough cuts of "Patrick and Molly and all the small things" completed and I'm hoping to get the final rough done tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

Started reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy today.....well, bought it. Haven't started yet. Will start tonight.

Will write tomorrow. Trying to hit it and quit it everyday this week. I'm beginning to think that I'm spending too much time reading and not enough writing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Putting Cancer in the can.

Cancer, as it turns out, is a little more expensive than three brand new BMWs. Since I drive the automobile equivalent of a used tricycle, you can see why this is somewhat out of our price range.

When you go to the hospital to get chemo they charge you 200 dollars before you even get taken to your room. This is your "convenience charge" essentially. And hey, it's not like you're working, so what's 200 bucks? What's 200 bucks when you don't have a job? It's a lifetime. But they require it. They desire it. It is a necessity. So you pay it.......but, in retrospect, I suppose it somehow all evens out since you're not really eating anything....

Hospitals are expensive. Having to visit a hospital is sort of the antithesis of winning the lottery......maybe more like bingo. The hospital is like a bingo hall - filled with shouting old people.

Jade and I began paying on our hospital bills as soon as we could - ten dollars a month - thought we'd really start knocking em down, one at a time, y'know? Blast down the stragglers our insurance wasn't taking care of when they weren't trying to drop us.

The companies call us and they say ten dollars a month just isn't enough. They say they're going to turn us into collections. We say I haven't worked in six months. They say, essentially, that they don't care. We owe them, personally, $67 and they were going to get their money and they weren't going to wait.

And we told them to go ahead, send us to collections. You can't negotiate with these kinds of people. George W. Bush said it of OBLaden and Kevin Spacey said it in The Negotiator and now I'm saying it to these financial terrorists. WE. WILL. NOT. NEGOTIATE.

We didn't HAVE their stupid $67 to be wasting. We needed to pay rent. We needed to pay our water bill. We needed to EAT. And so we told them we truly WANTED to pay them but at this point in time, we really just couldn't, just please wait until I'm working and getting paid and they JUST COULDN'T.

So what did we do? We wrote them a letter. We wrote them a letter (addressed to someone higher up than a grunt on The Telephone Terrorist Squad) and it said, "We don't have money. We are poor. We are young. Please write off this silly charge".

And they did.

A small victory. Sixty-seven dollars in cold hard cash put back into our pockets.

We owe the hospital some 13 thousand dollars.

Paying it off in ten dollars sums is going to take a while.

We write them a letter.

We received the response yesterday.

They're writing it off.

We're in the clear.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I went to Quest Diagnostics about a week ago for my tri-monthly cancer check-up. This is how the system works. This is the sheer..........dare I say "brilliance"? of the Los Angeles medical industry.

Step one. I go see my doctor, who tells me I have to have some lab work (blood tests) done. They don't do blood work where the doctors are. No. The doctors give you a slip and send you off to one of many QD locations throughout SoCal.

Step two. I take my slip to the QD of my choice (which, incidentally is in Sherman Oaks because the one in Van Nuys is filthy, crawling with people and the nurses there are ill-trained). QD is where they actually DRAW my blood. It is approximately 30 miles from my doctor. There is one person who runs the whole show. She signs you in, punches in your information, calls your name and draws your blood.

Step three. The lady at QD sends my blood to a THIRD facility which then runs the test the doctor ordered for it.

Step four. Meet back at the doctor's office two weeks later to find out if you're still cancer free.

It is a long and mindless process BUT, in the far recesses of my mind, I truly want to believe that there is SOME purpose to it. That it truly does help something.

We completed steps 1-3 several weeks ago. We drove 30 miles to Arcadia to complete step four today. We went to meet with my doctor to find out if I was still cancer free.

Our doctor walks in - our oncologist - and informs us that there has been a mixup and that my cancer test was never performed. I needed to go back to QD, get my blood drawn again and they'd have the results in......ROUGHLY 14 days. Medico.

This pretty much puts a downward spiral on my day since I have a problem with needles. I tell my doctor I'm thinking about visiting a hypnotist to overcome my problem. She laughs at me and tells me to just look away.

Sure....sure.....I'll just look away. And since I'm claustrophic, if I ever find myself being buried alive, I'll just close my eyes and pretend I'm under my covers. I'm sure it'll be just fine. Probably not a deep rooted psychological problem anyway. I'm probably just being a baby. It has nothing to do with that cold steel needle sliding under my flesh and puncturing my vein, sucking my life blood up into it's vast plastic tube and then sliding it's proboscis out against my pink flesh like teeth on a fork.


Dr. Ye also let us know that my white blood count was low BUT that it was probably about normal for me. She explained that "since you, since you, uh, you know - had all those ddddrugs put into your system that, uh, your bone marrow is a little weaker. WELL, not WEAKER, but, you know, not as strong as say, Jade's....or mine. Yours is fine, it's just probably a little lower and that's just where it'll be from now on, so, yeah".

"Well, doctor, does that in any way compromise his immunity?"

"No, no. He should be fine. He should be fine. He just had so much of that - those drugs in him - they're lower but they're not bad. You should write a script about dog people. Like Best in Show. Those people are crazy. That movie was good."

We left.

We drove around Arcadia for a while, wondering if we could ever live there. We looked at houses and imagined burning down parts of them, rebuilding others. We stumbled into a Pill Hill type neighborhood - lots of doctors with inferiority complexes, trying to compensate for whatever with big houses made from, what? Money? I don't know. THIS house, was made completely of marble:

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You'll notice how it strangely contains the same visual texture as a mausoleum. You'll also notice that the dude drives a Corolla. If you live in that house and you're driving a Corolla, you may as well be driving a 1986 station wagon.

We drove.

We looked at a few more houses and talked about how it's never smart to have the nicest house in the neighborhood - it loses it's value, you know? Well, apparently THIS GUY took it to heart - three doors down from the mausoleum rests this little gem.

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Very nice. Maybe we'll buy it.

And then, what neighborhood would be complete without a school?

Clem: Are you stalking me?
Joel: No.
Clem: But you wouldn't tell me even if you were, would you?
Joel: No. That's the oldest trick in the stalker book.
Clem: There's a stalker book?

Listen Clem, have I got good news for YOU. THERE'S A WHOLE SCHOOOOOOOL!!!!!!

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In the end we decided that maybe Pasadena would be a better fit. Driving around we (well, Jade really) realized that Aracadia was sort of a breeding ground for Asian people and Asian people frighten Jade. She can barely even eat at Panda Express without breaking out in cold sweats and you know what? I can't judge. We all have our fears.