Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hopefully It’s Just a Detour


Senior year in High School. As if high school itself doesn’t suck enough, it’s also the time you are supposed to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. You have one year to decide what the next 50 years ahead will look like. Of course you can always go in to college undecided but sooner or later they will force you to pick something, unless you feel like racking up thousands more in loans by staying in school another year or two or three. Most people you talk to aren’t on the career path they intended anyway.

I had always been in to the arts. I started dancing at age 3 or 4 and performing at competitions, I sang in the choir, I played the flute and attempted the trombone, I was always in plays, was on my HS radio (as pathetic as it was), and loved theatre most of all. I had intended to enter college for theatre management but allowed myself to be talked out of it. So instead, I chose the next best thing, television production. After attending my first taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien I was sure I wanted to be a Stage Manager although I honestly had no idea what that entailed. Maybe I thought it just looked cool.

So I entered college as a Comm major with a concentration in TV and Radio. Sounded fun. And it was. With the exception of all the bull shit classes they make you take like Statistics and Geology, most of my core classes were rather fun. Watching classic films, learning about Irish cinema, making ridiculous radio commercials, and running around the school parking lot at night with fake guns and blood pretending to be Steven Spielberg. Didn’t think it got much better than that.

Senior year came quickly and it was time for a taste of the real world. And by real world I mean stepping away from the classroom and text books, and getting to see what TV and radio are really like in the form of Internships. My first one was in radio at Radio Disney. I was lovin’ it because my first week I got to go to a Devils game. I mean c’mon. This is gonna be great. I quickly realized however, that radio is probably made up of 90% sales and marketing. Plus, radio is not like it used to be back in the day. It’s so computerized now. I went on a bunch of on-site events but they were a nightmare to me – dealing with all those crazy parents. Thankfully I never had to get on the mic. That truly would have been a disaster.

Along with that internship was the one day a week at Extra. That seemed like it would be pretty cool. I’d get to go on some shoots and learn a lot from the producers and crew. So wrong on that one. I would arrive at the Extra offices at 8:30am per their request. No problem, except no one would speak to me until after 9 when the phone call from LA would come in. (Actually, no one really spoke to me even after 9am). After that they would inevitably stick me with the editor to watch him endlessly edit until a shoot came along where I would tag along and do NOTHING. Going on shoots was sometimes fun. My first day I went on a Victoria Secret photo shoot with Heidi Klum. I met some cool people yeah but learned NOTHING.

Now I am getting a little frustrated and perhaps wondering really what a career in the entertainment field would be like. Last up in college is the senior seminar where you make your last big project. We had fun writing, directing, acting in, and editing our little documentary – sure. It wasn’t until one of the very last seminar classes that I really began to second guess myself and this whole TV thing. We had a speaker that really just scared the hell out of me. The only point I actually remember her making was that TV/Film is all about sacrifice and living on beans and water. Wow – the text book didn’t say anything about that. About how unstable the industry is, how shitty the pay is and the treatment is when you just start out, and how if you don’t kiss some serious ass you most likely won’t succeed. What a wake up call.

After graduating, my first TV job was a non-paying one on a Children’s candid camera show. Welcome to the real world. Six days a week I would trek in to the office, pack up the van with cameras, props, audio, coolers, and fake trees and head to some god awful location somewhere in Manhattan. The day would basically go like this…..pack van, drive to location, unpack, carry heavy equipment really far, piss off NYers walking by, ask those pissed off people to give me permission to air them being humiliated, re-carry, re-pack, unload, and head home tired and broken.

The next job in TV I had came a few years later which led to the next and the next and finally to the last long-term TV job I had which ruined me and made me an angry bitter person. I really truly found out how unless you kiss ass all day and be little miss “whatever you want”, it is really really hard to move up. And people will LIE many times to your face and not give a damn about it. The EP was the only one that gave me hope. She was the first genuinely nice person I met that made it that far without sacrifices herself or her soul. So after a year and 3 months of that job I decided to give it up and get a real job. I just don’t love it enough to put up with it and clearly I am not the right kind of person for that field.

I got a taste of what I had been missing when by a fluke my aunt called to let me know her company needed a temp for a few weeks. Well that few weeks turned in to 4 months and I only wish it could have been even longer (damn stocks!). I realized that this whole bloody time I could have had a life, not working 8am-who knows when. I always saw myself married at 26 (well that’s what the psychic in New Hope told me anyway), hopefully with some kids soon after. I feel like I have wasted my life heading down a path that clearly was not meant for me.

I hope that this was only a small detour in my life and happiness and stability are not too far down the road. I see my friends from High School getting married, having babies, buying houses…… that’s what I want. If I had chosen a different direction to head all those years ago, who knows what my life would look like now. Don’t get me wrong though. I have met some amazing people along the way and have some great memories. But they aren’t any memories that impact anyone but me. I would love to make a difference in the world and to people other than myself. I want to make someone proud. I know there are millions of people in this world far worse off than me so I probably have no right to complain and I should be happy and grateful that I have an amazing family to support me.

Here’s to hoping the next 10 years will bring all that I have been seeking.

Jill E.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Apparently I Repel Giraffes






Who doesn’t love a giraffe? They’re tall, uh…..well they are certainly tall. Well I don’t know exactly why I fell in love with giraffes but there you have it. This sad tale I am about to tell chronicles my several attempts to come up close and personal with a giraffe. Based on the title of this entry one can deduce that the happy Jill-Giraffe meeting has still yet to happen. I know many of you are thinking, but wait, you’ve gone through the safari at Great Adventure, surely you have seen a giraffe? Well yes. But I don’t count driving passed a herd of giraffes a personal encounter. It’s more a case of trying not to hit them or have them bump their ass into your car. I’ve had several camels give me the bump and it’s not enjoyable my friends.

In 2003 I ventured with my cousin to the Animal Kingdom Lodge in magical Walt Disney World. We wandered around inside and then headed outside to check out the animals. People who stay in the AK Lodge always talk about how the giraffes come right up to their windows. They wake up and BAM, there’s a giraffe just hanging out. So I thought, yes, I am gonna get to see a giraffe. As evidenced in picture 1 above, I did have a lovely time with some zebras. Sad giraffe experience #1, the next picture is as close as they were getting. Oh well. There’s always a next time.

Cut to 2006. This is gonna be the year of the giraffe. At the end of ’05 I watched the most fabulous and tragic giraffe documentary. Only a few months later I was off to Florida again where I would be visiting a zoo where you can FEED THE GIRAFFES, I would be staying IN the AK Lodge, and I would be venturing to the Animal Kingdom Park. Three opportunities to meet a giraffe, what could possibly go wrong?

Opportunity 1, we head to the Brevard Zoo to feed giraffes!!!! We got right up to the giraffe area where there were ZERO giraffes. The kind lady (although I was cursing her out big time in my head) informed us that the giraffes were scared away by sirens on the street and would probably not be returning. Wanting to cry, my cousin let me know that we were gonna take a train ride and you could see the giraffes from the train. Yeah, as you can guess, no giraffes.

Ok, so I am gonna be staying at the AK Lodge. Of course the room I was staying in with my friend was by the pool and NOT by the animals. I guess there will not be a morning tea with the giraffes on this visit. All I got was the next picture above. Giraffes chillin’ a mile away with no intention of headin’ my way. So let’s try the park. I did the Safari ride in the morning like they recommend but alas, no giraffes anywhere near our vehicle. 3 Strikes I’m out on this trip.

So now we shoot to 2007. One more visit to the Brevard Zoo and one more trip to the Animal Kingdom. This trip is golden. This is really gonna happen for me! Or so I thought. First we head to the zoo where again NO GIRAFFES! Of course to pour salt in an open wound my cousin informs that that every time they go to this zoo Brielle gets to feed a giraffe. Good for Brielle. I mean I love her but come on. THIS girl needs some giraffe love. But it’s ok, maybe I won’t get to feed a giraffe but I’m going to the Animal Kingdom really early. Well, if you check out the next shot, all I got is more giraffe ass!

Now it’s later ’07 and we are off to the Bronx Zoo. Hadn’t been there since I was a kid. Very excited. “Oh giraffes are that way”, I tell my mom. “Oh the sign says there is a baby”. Great…..the next picture shows just how exciting these giraffes turned out to be. Instead of getting great pictures of giraffes, I ended the day thinking I may be lunch for some hungry cats. Creeeepy.

These sad and tragic experiences are the reasons why I have deduced that I repel Giraffes. And to be honest, it’s not just giraffes. I also seem to repel Manatees and Alligators. Although repelling Alligators may not be such a bad thing. I’m ok with that one.

I am making a public plea to any giraffe owners out there. If you have a giraffe as a pet as so many people do, please invite me over for a play date! I swear I will not kill your giraffe!

It’s ironic that I’m ending this blog as Jon & Kate plus 8 is on TV and they are at the Zoo. At the Zoo and PETTING A GIRAFFE. Someday my dream will come true. I only have to believe. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to settle for the drive-through safari.

Dreaming of Giraffes,

Jill E.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Confession of a Sci-Fi Geek



This whole blogging thing is new to me. I was never much good at writing and I always thought of it as a chore. To my grandmother’s chagrin, I also absolutely hate to read. My mind is constantly wandering and it takes something truly fabulous to get me to read and actually stay interested. I didn’t even finish Paula Deen’s memoir and if you know me you know how incredibly crazy that is! (Sorry Paula!) But every night without fail, I head to the blog of Mr. Joseph Mallozzi to read about his no-doubt adventure filled day with smoke tents, crazy dogs, and Lamb dinners. Since I have given up my path in TV, I pretend I’m still in that world by reading his stories and having a good chuckle before I head to dreamland.

Mr. Mallozzi not only inspired my blog, but he also has inspired me to come out and admit something about myself that I have kept hidden from almost everyone around me. Not to worry, it doesn’t involve a crime. Unless of course quality TV is a crime. Anyway, today I am going to let the world know that I am a full on sci-fi geek and damn proud of it. JM is the current show runner/EP of my favorite TV franchise which I am going to say out loud….or type out loud….STARGATE! Yes, I watch Stargate! I also watch Battlestar Galactica. How do you like that??? AND, I used to watch Farscape….the one with the puppets! Oh yeah! AND, I have all ten seasons of SG-1, all nine season of the X-Files, and all fours season of Farscape on DVD which I watch on a daily basis. Actually, I’m listening to a Stargate commentary right now from season 9. Loving it!

Laugh if you want, but Sci-Fi television is some of the smartest out there. I have one friend, one, that watches or watched these shows and we met because I asked him a question about a convention. No I have never been to a convention but it’s not because I wouldn’t want to. It’s because I am a cheap bastard and I have no one to go with. (Looking for some pity here.)

Now that I have let the world in on my deep dark secret, I have to take a moment to bitch. I worked on several TV talk shows over the past few years and NONE of them ever had ANY actors from any of my sci-fi shows. I will exclude the X-Files from that I guess because it was on network TV. David Duchovny was on one of the shows and I literally melted into a puddle as he brushed passed me. I mean, Fox Mulder, in the flesh. Anyway, I digress. Why is it that these incredible actors never get exposure for themselves or their shows? There are a lot of sci-fi fans out there. Maybe they are living in hiding like I was but they are out there! I’m waiting for that day to come. We got Letterman, Leno, Martha, Ellen, Kilborne, Tyra freakin’ Banks, blah blah blah none of which will give my shows publicity. I will give Lettermen some credit because he did have the cast of BSG do the Top Ten List when they were in town for the upfronts. Some of the guests on these shows are insanely boring but that seems to be ok with their producers. Oy! I could go on and on but I want to hear the rest of this DVD commentary so I’m gonna sign off.

Be who you are and don’t be ashamed!

I dedicate this entry to the one and only Mr. Joseph Mallozzi!

Peace!

Sci-Fi Addict Jill E.

Friday, May 23, 2008

American Idol Is Like Crack






I was in college when American Idol started. I would hear people talk about some girl from Texas and some kid from Philly with crazy hair but never much cared. Come finale night I thought, hey why not, I’ll give this little show a chance. I remember watching the finale and loving Kelly Clarkson but like so many others, wondering what the hell was the deal with this Justin character???

Come season Two I watched from day one and that’s when the obsession began. The moment I saw that geek from North Carolina sing “Always and Forever” I was hooked! And don’t judge me, yes I love Clay Aiken and no there is nothing wrong with that. My friend Janine and I were both obsessed (I’m not the only one) and would gather together every Tuesday night to watch in awe. It was clearly the highlight of the week. Sadly, come finale night, as I was sitting in the Continental Airlines Arena watching my Devils lose a playoff game, I got a phone call informing me that Ruben had somehow beaten out my Clay to become the second ever American Idol. Don’t even get me started. It still hurts to this day.

As the seasons progressed, despite there not being a contestant anywhere near as fabulous as Clay, I continued to watch religiously. There were quite a few points that I would insist I would never watch again like when Jennifer Hudson got the boot. Alas, I continued because the power of Idol is just too strong. I try to leave but it draws you back in every time.

The American Idol storm just kept on picking up speed spitting out winner after winner with quite a few failures along the way. Come season 6 I had the privilege of working the NJ/NY auditions. I had to take “vacation” time from my real job to be at the arena at 5:00am but nothing was stopping me. Day one was the sign in. Thousands of Idol wannabes running to the tables ready for their audition ticket and wristband. Day two was the cattle call audition where I was bombarded with crazies all thinking THEY were the next American Idol and not taking rejection very well at all. The following days were the mock judge auditions where the lucky few to make it to the next round audition for 3 producers acting as the judges. It was kinda disappointing because not too many people seemed strange UNTIL I watched them on TV in the audition room. Wow. Truly special people. Despite my newly gained knowledge of the manipulation of reality tv, this first-hand experience only renewed my love for this American Idol.

We conclude with this past season, season 7! Not since Clay Aiken have I enjoyed a contestant as much as David Cook. Oh my! Those looks, that confidence, that hair, that sensitivity, that guitar, and of course that voice. I like to think he was singing to me each week! I have no reason to think otherwise. Every week I was waiting for him to get the boot like Chris Daughtry – way before his time – but thankfully it never came to pass. Finale night was oh so stressful for me. I never get that. Why are these kids not nervous and I am peeing my pants at home ready to throw a hissy when MY contestant doesn’t win. Well this year, expecting the worst, I stood on my feet ready to run away when they announced Archie’s name so I wouldn’t have to watch him in celebration. Much to my relief and excitement, it was David Cook’s name that was called. Screams ensued followed by celebrations of dance.

So another Idol year has come and gone and the addiction grows stronger and stronger. I’ve tried to give it up but the force of Idol won’t allow it. The need for it each week gets stronger and stronger.

While I wait for January when we get a new crop of wannabes, I will relive all the Idol glory on YouTube. Thank goodness for YouTube!

For all you other Idol addicts out there – it’s been a good ride. Now who’s gonna buy me my tour tickets? I’m serious!

Call me.

****I just realized I never gave any Simon love in this whole AI blog entry! What would Idol be without Simon Cowell?-----NOTHING! Simon is like a refreshing voice of honesty always saying what I am thinking but no one else has the guts to say. I love it!

Enough said.

Jill E.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All God's Creatures





Other than fish, a bird that lasted about a week, and a bunny that I was semi-afraid of, I never grew up with pets. I fondly remember a traumatic experience with goats on a field trip in second grade that was probably made worse by my previous lacking of animal interaction. As time goes on I am learning not to fear house cats or dogs that I could easily drop kick should one attack me. It’s a slow process but I feel I am making much progress. After a 20 hour drive to Florida with my aunt’s cat crying in the back seat, I feel like we bonded. And then my cousin got a truly insane cat that I actually snuggled with (evidence above). And now I find that my other aunt’s two dogs are like two of my pals. They each have their own wacky and wild personalities.

Bottom line here, I am starting to appreciate and understand animals more than I ever have before. They are far from unintelligent. They understand what’s going on around them. They feel pain both emotional and physical just like we do. They know how to love and get love back in return. My aunt passed away a few months ago and was very sick prior to that. As her illness progressed, her cat’s health declined. He knew what was going on and he died a few weeks before she did. I am certain he died of a broken heart as many humans do when there life long companion passes away.

That being said, why do people think that it is ok to mistreat animals? Why do they think it’s no big deal to abandon a pet to die? Do they think they don’t know what’s going on or that they don’t feel hunger pains? I often watch Animal Planet with my mom and the amount of abuse to animals – for no apparent reason - truly astonishes me. Animals are left outside with no shelter, left with no food, tied to poles for their whole lives and never shown love, used for dog fighting…the list goes on and on. Would you do that to your own child? If you don’t want to take care of a pet then don’t adopt one. If you have one but can’t take care of it, give it to a no-kill shelter or find a loving home. There is no need for this senseless abuse.

On Ellen today, there was a man named Steve McGarva (Pictured above). He’s an artist who was in Puerto Rico when he discovered what the locals had named “Dead Dog Beach”. A beach where people go to abandon there animals. Thousands of dogs are left there with nothing. Since he discovered this beach, Steve has made it his mission to save as many of these animals as possible. www.islanddog.org is Steve’s website. It’s amazing how much of a difference one person can make.

Today I leave you with the wise words of Mr. Bob Barker…."Help control the pet population. Have your pets spay or neutered."

Listen to Bob. He knows what he’s talking about!

Hug your pet.

Jill E.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chocolate










Today’s topic is not quite as profound as the previous but no less meaningful in my life perhaps. That topic is of course – CHOCOLATE! There are those few, including the fabulously southern Clay Aiken, and others who suffer one of the worst injustices, that being an allergy to chocolate. However, the majority of us healthy individuals find it hard to live without chocolate. Really, really hard. I know it’s not just me. Chocolate is all around us and comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, just like us human beings. How can you not love something that reflects who we are as individuals? Referring to the pictures above we have a few examples of chocolate wonder.

For one, chocolate can be made into bars! Who doesn’t love a Snicker or a Caramello or a Twix??? Then of course there is the chocolate for dipping. Relatively new to this area is the chocolate fountain. No more boring old fondue pot in this house. Bring on the waterfall of glorious diabetes waiting to happen. It’s perfect for dipping your variety of fruits and pound cake. Or like Paula Deen, you can just stick your face right in and drink straight from the fountain. Just be careful not to burn your tongue! Next up is the chocolate that candy men feel the need to make into an assortment of real life objects. Who wouldn’t want chocolate in the shape of a wrench? I have a tool box full. Or perhaps chocolate that looks like a band aid. They really do have those. Then of course there is the kind you drink. Hot chocolate! Yum! It’s a meal in a cup. Perfect for those snowy days. Don’t forget the marshmallows! And of course chocolate comes in many colors as well. The somewhat less popular white chocolate comes in an array of beautiful colors from Big Bird Yellow to Oscar Green. I know this to be true because I have Sesame Street plastic candy maker things (yes “things” is the technical term) that you use to make these fabulous colors into the real Big Bird and Oscar. And would you believe it, they have now made chocolate phones!!!!! I can’t believe it!!!! Mine only lasted a week or so before I caved and ate it. Upon being rushed to the hospital I was informed the Chocolate phone is in actual fact not made of chocolate. A law suit is pending. Email me for updates.

Alas, with this many forms of chocolate how can you resist that creamy texture and amazing taste. It’s a perfect remedy for PMS, depression, joy, sadness, excitement, and of course hunger. I’m off to enjoy some cherry Hershey Kisses. To all of you chocolate lovers I leave you with this….. “Hershey’s Chocolate, Hershey’s Chocolate it’s a Hershey’s chocolate world. Wherever you go, no matter how far, you're always near a Hershey bar.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. And to those of you chocolate haters please check the phone book for the nearest psychologist. You are clearly not normal.

Have a Snickerific Day!

Jill E.

(Oh – If you want to relive that fabulous Chocolate World Tour check this out…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-GgmdkGUPI ) I LOVE IT!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hatred

It’s 2008 and the amount of hatred in this world sometimes still amazes me. Perhaps I am too na├»ve, perhaps I just am not around it enough, maybe I just ignore it when I see it, whatever the case may be I still am shocked at how unintelligent people still are.

This weekend I participated in my 9th AIDS Walk NY. I can’t remember why I started walking when I was a sophomore in college but I have been walking ever since. Thank God HIV has never affected me personally but it continues to affect millions worldwide…..and not just people in Africa, or drug addicts, or gay people. I walk for the future. I walk so that someday there will be a cure. I walk so that my children will never have to worry about AIDS.

Every year I dread the thought of dragging my fat ass (or lack of ass) out of bed that one Sunday in May. But by the time I get to Central Park I couldn’t imagine not being there. I continue to be amazed by the kindness that each and every AIDS Walk volunteer and staff member show to each and every walker. Unlike other organizations, there is no monetary limit on a walker. I went with a friend one year who hadn’t pre-registered. He just signed up there and gave them $5 and the people couldn’t have been happier. It’s not just about the money. It’s about awareness and community and tolerance and love for one another.

Getting to the point of this rant…… This year I ended up walking alone. It was even more amazing this year because I got to take it all in and truly realize what an amazing event this is. (They raised 7 MILLION dollars this year at AW NY!) I was right up front for the opening ceremonies so I hung on to every word that the speakers spouted out. Each year they have one speaker whose life has been changed for the better by GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis-they run the walk). This year it was a brave man who told his amazing story. It was the first time he publicly admitted not only that he was a gay man, but also that he was HIV Positive. It was so brave and so amazing! Something that god forbid I was in his situation, would never be able to do.

After his speech, and this is the first time this has happened since I have been walking, a man in the crowd started spewing such hatred at this man. I couldn’t believe someone would try to ruin such an amazing event with such ignorance! Sara Ramirez was heading back to the mic and she wouldn’t give this person the satisfaction of putting a damper on the walk or this brave man’s speech and courage.

So to the point…..Why do people hate? Why do people fear what is different?

PEACE

Jill E.