Prelude to a Big Break

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Posts Tagged ‘california

5 Things.

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One way to measure the impact of an event is frequency. How long does something last? It’s not the only way to measure something, but for the purposes of “list themed blog posts” it’s reliable. We’re covering acting, television, football, road trips and probably some things that I haven’t even thought of yet. (That’s how these posts work.)

13 Weeks. Mad Men. The supposition that my experience with this television program is somehow unique from everyone else’s seems a little absurd. I have friends who live and breath the show each Sunday. (Most notably, a buddy from Toronto who always emails the salient quote from each episode with an 8-step swear word behind it Monday morning. That’s how men bond, you see.) But… boy, oh BOY does this show resonate with me. I didn’t live through the 60′s (obviously); I’ve never been a part of social change (unless you count a protest in 4th grade after our elementary school banned hockey sticks); and I don’t drink at work (not really relevant since I don’t actually work for a living). The series flows along and entertains for all the reasons you’d expect (good writing, wonderful acting, spectacular fashion) and then, like Canadian Club mainlined into my arm… Don Draper goes to California. All bets are off when this happens. During Week 2 of the NFL season (before I started hosting people at my place) my buddy Max introduced me to this mother. She was wearing a Mad Men t-shirt; leading to this exchange: “Nice to meet you Max’s Mom. You a big Mad Men fan?” “I sure am!” “Really!… That’s great. What’s your favorite episode?” “Well, that depends. Do I have to limit it to one episode or can I pick an episode from each season? If I had to just pick one, I think I’d start with Don’s trip to California in Season Two.” “Umm…. *staring blankly* That’s a good choice… *openly ogling my friends mother* I gotta go, it was nice meeting you.”

22 Weeks. The NFL. That’s 17 weeks of the regular season, 3 weeks of playoffs, a bye week before the Superbowl where I’m considering a medically induced coma, and… The Superbowl. I’ve been hosting people at my place for 4 weeks now. It peaked yesterday afternoon when my living room had 13 people in it. For anyone that arrives by 10:30, I cook breakfast. Arrive after 10:30 and I think of inappropriate things to say about you that will not be transcribed in this space. Keeping with the theme of females totally destroying my ability to remain calm and collected… There was a girl at my place yesterday (let’s call her Rachel, because that’s her name) who kept making educated, often biting and – consistently – funny sporting comments. After each snippet I started making the same face a child makes when a magician pulls off an especially baffling magic trick at a birthday party; that face would then morph into the expression tourists from the Midwest make when they see on the Sunset Strip. Finally, I’d look up to see my cousin Robbie and pal Dave openly laughing at me. Big day yesterday.

13 Weeks + Bowl Season. College Football. I waited 29 years and four months to start seriously following College Football. Why? Umm… not really important. I always knew this sport would spark a torrid love-affair. It has. Last January I picked Oregon as my West Coast team. Quack Quack. My East Coast team…

1 Weekend, every year, for 7 years. Syracuse, New York. In September of 2004 my friend Tim and I sat around our apartment with a (random) College Football game on in the background. “We should go to a College Football game, shouldn’t we?” Tim’s response: “Of course we should, you idiot.” October 8th, 2004: I went out with a group of friends to a horrible club in Toronto. I say “horrible” principally because it was horrible. At 4:50 the next morning Tim walked into my room with a Heineken: “Drink this Heineken, or consider yourself less of a man.” It’s one of those unnecessary, inappropriate, totally perfect things that friends do to one another. (We should also consider the possibility that it set the stage for “” years later. This may or may not be a good thing.) At 5:00, we set sail (Tim drove) for Syracuse. After crossing the border in Lewiston, I suggested a in Batavia, New York for breakfast. (By the way… ALL these details matter.) At breakfast, Peggy greeted us (75 years old if she was a day) and Beth was our waitress. Since it was homecoming weekend, we got stuck staying at the (I’m merging it into one word) on James Street. This sad excuse for a hotel sits kitty corner to a gas station that sold 30 packs of beer for $13.99. Not dismayed, Tim and I saddled up to the corner of the bar at . And… this all sounds like a pedestrian trip. Except, it wasn’t. And it isn’t.

Six years later: Tim picked me up on a freezing morning in Toronto. At 5:00. Peggy’s 81 and hasn’t lost a step. Beth is married with two kids and openly ignores her other customers to catch up with us. The EconoLodge (which is still disgusting) holds a specific room for us, when they can, and they call Tim to wish him a Merry Christmas every December. Syracuse Football remains awful. (1-5 during our visits.) And you still can’t spend more than $40 at PJ Dorsey’s without succumbing to aggressive alcohol poisoning. We’ve added a few wrinkles here and there. Last year we crawled back along the I90 – IN A BLIZZARD – then decided to hit in Buffalo since that’s where chicken wings were invented. It’s a trip we’ll always have. That’s why I’m flying back to Toronto in November. I mean… I want to see my family and my friends and their babies… I want to drink a beer that doesn’t leave me feeling like the title character of Thinner… I want to renew my driver’s license (we all need to take care of practical things)… But most of all, I want to see the sun come up over Western New York as my buddy and I blaze a trail towards a city we picked for proximity when he was a student and I worked at an insurance brokerage.

The lesson: A trip, or a day, or whatever… is what you make of it. Oh, and Syracuse is my East Coast team.

10 Episodes a year, for the next 3 years. TBA. I’m awfully close on a show. When the process started I wanted to be a serious contender. That was my goal. Now I want the job.

Written by Stephen Amell

October 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm

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I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll begin at the beginning. On February 14th I sat on top of Runyon Canyon and wrote that I was Apparently, I was right. What a weekend.

Saturday: 6:00 AM — Driving rain woke me up. When it rains in California, it rains angry. My alarm was set for 6:00 AM because Lou was due for Air Canada Cargo shortly after 9:00 AM Eastern. If my Uncle and my Mom needed anything, it was my responsibility to be awake and alert. So I was.

10:00 AM — I sat around and read a script / watched “The Wire” (this is important) for 4 hours. Lou’s on his way and I have an audition at 12:30. That’s the thing about Pilot Season… You have auditions on Saturday.  My buddy Nate had an audition today (Sunday). Unbelievable.

10:30 AM — Target. Dog Bowl / Mat for dog bowl / Toy that he can’t destroy immediately / Treats / Swiffer Sweeper and pads / Towel rack (nothing to do with Lou) / New collar (that doesn’t fit) / Food / Food scooper.

11:20 AM — Over to Johnny Bennett’s to exchange the Smart Car with a Ford Escape. This is the first instance where a friend of mine stepped up – like a friend should – this weekend. The first of many.

12:30 PM — Somewhere in Studio City for an audition. A great audition. A killer audition. You can build momentum through Pilot Season. The actual auditions aren’t interconnected, but your craft is dependent on repetition and confidence. I dismantled that audition. This is factual.

1:30 PM — Italia Ricci. She’s Lou’s owner… just ask US Customs. And she gave up her afternoon to help me pick him up at LAX. Italia: I love you.

2:15 PM / 3:00 PM / 4:00 PM / 4:25 PM — WAITING.

4:40 PM — Louis. (Italia calls him “Hand Bag”.  Brilliant.)

5:30 PM — Lou and me hoofing it around Hollywood Blvd. You’re not going to believe this, but he was excited.

7:00 PM — Arrived at Capitol City (a spectacular sports bar) for the second half of a great college basketball game.

9:00 PM — Pre-party for the lovely Italia. She’s filming a show in Toronto as of next Saturday. Party, hearty.

12:00 AM (ish) — My thought process: “My buddy The Lou is at home chillin’. I should get out of here.


2:00 – 7:15 AM — Slept with a black guy.

7:30 AM — My head… MY HEAD… I couldn’t wait to take Lou to Runyon Canyon. Get him out… Get him running.

7:50 AM — Remember when I borrowed Johnny Bennett’s car? Well, now I’m out on my street and his car is nowhere to be seen. Seems it touched a red zone and got towed… To South Central.

8:10 AM — Johnny – miraculously, he’s awake – and I are zooming along with 101 towards South Central. Friends. Being there.

8:20 AM — South Central. Tow Yard. We decide the man guarding it is an Alien. Picture? Taken:

9:30 – 11:00 AM — 8 hours later he’s still a mess. Nothing makes me happier than a tired pup.

12:00 PM — Did you know that Canada and the US were playing for the Gold Medal in Hockey? It was on television and everything.

12:40 PM — Warren (my buddy and high school roommate), Italia, Davey, Vanessa and Chantal (by proxy) start cheering.

1:20 PM — Robbie Amell rounds out our booth. We’re exactly the same. Ask anyone.

2:40ish PM — 24 seconds left in the game — It was my understanding the bar was approximately 65% (US) – 35% (CAN). Not so. More like 94% – 6%. When the US scored with 24 seconds left to tie it, Capitol City erupted. We sat there with our hearts in our stomachs. We waited.

OVERTIME (I don’t know what time it was.) — This is tense / don’t get caught too deep / This shouldn’t be 4 on 4 / JUST SHOOT IT / I’d like a Budweiser and some Heroin / Crosby’s diggin’…


There was a delayed reaction from our booth. As in: “Wait a minute… Is that puck in the net? It is?!?!?!” At which point, we yelled. We screamed. We held it six beats too long. We punctuated with hoarse calls across a deadly silent room. Sidney Crosby — our very best player — scored in overtime for the Gold Medal and one fucker of an exclamation point on the Winter Games. YellScreamYellHugYellPauseYELL.

Then you sit and relax. You tell the waiter to bring you something Canadian. They bring you Canadian Club and you kill it. The medals come out and you start making fun of yourself because you’re crying. Your cousin snaps a photo:

3:45 PM — Everybody leaves but me.

4:00 PM — A girl from Vancouver at the bar. She’s a lawyer with a Canada shirt on. Patron, more Canadian Club, Patron. An actor from “The Wire” rolls in and we become buddies. “Hey Man…  Last time I saw you they caught you with 20K in cash.”

4:30 PM — Quiet moment thought process: “Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner. The Golden Goal. The greatest moment in the history of Canadian sport. Paul Henderson should light a cigar somewhere and think about his 38 years of undisputed glory.”

5:30 PM — Again, Lou’s at home. Strolling down Hollywood Blvd. with the sun crashing over all the buildings that L. Ron Hubbard owns. My apartment, my Pup, an audition tomorrow morning.  t couldn’t be more beautiful outside.

I pass 3 Canadians surrounding Alex Trebek’s Star on Hollywood Blvd. They aren’t there by accident.

4,300 KM away from Toronto.  Home.  (Capital H.)

EDIT: Just because…

Written by Stephen Amell

February 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

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