Two Bug Stories

I was watching footage today at my job. In it, a guy thought he had a spider on him, another person assured him that he did not. The fellow said that if he had indeed had a spider on him he would have cried.

This spurred a couple bug memories of mine that might make you cringe or laugh or some combination of the two.

1) This is a shortie but sweetie. And it has a happy ending.

One night I was taking out the trash as I'm known to do. I went around the front of the house instead of the back, totally randomly. I think my play-shoes were out front.

Later I had some more recycling to take out, I went around back this time. I just happened to pop my phone's light on when I neared the trash cans. Thankfully I had because my white beam illuminated one of the largest spider webs that I had ever seen (it still holds the record). Accompanying her web was a very large, dark colored spider as well. It was about 9 feet in the air so I didn't get a good look at her. I'm not sure her species, but her impressive web spanned from the side of my house's wall to the fence, about 7 feet I'd guess. Sadly, it did not have a message for me or any farmers woven into it...

I left the recycling there to be put in the receptacle another time. I could deal with that in the light of day.

Can you imagine if I had waltzed into that web, no light, hands full of garbage bags? The spider would have fallen from her perch probably onto my face, the silky strings of the webbing would have entombed me, and I would have had no choice but to light myself on fire. But it didn't and I didn't, so that's the happy ending.

2) Not so short, not as happy of an ending. 

One night I came in from jogging, turned off the front porch light, and went to grab my pajamas so I could shower and change. As I was heading to the bathroom from the bedroom I saw a dark, standard comb-sized object on a bare white wall. It was dark in the room so I wasn't sure if it was a shadow or my imagination, or what. When I flipped on the light though I saw a very large roach of some sort, chillaxin' on my front room's wall.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the first story, but bugs are a thing for me. I wouldn't call them a phobia of mine, but they live in the same neighborhood as a phobia if you get what I mean. And now I was faced with a choice: let this humongous, uninvited guest exist in my house, or duel the behemoth.

Naturally, I called my wife into the room. Thankfully my kids were asleep or they would have lost some respect for their father because of how terrified I was. My wife assured me that yes, this was MY problem, and good luck with it. As progressive as we are with our gender roles, bug wrangling still falls under my jurisdiction.

I enlisted my wife to make sure the bug didn't move, then I geared up. It was like an 80s movie montage but instead of guns and ammo and camo headbands I donned crocs, a hoodie, and one of those wooden paddles you take to the beach to bop around a bouncy ball in the sand. I pulled the ties of the hood tight and made bunny ears. I was ready for battle. (For some reason I neglected to put on pants though, so I was fully clothed except for my long, white legs clad in grey boxer briefs.)

Well we quickly learned that this particular breed of roach can fly... as it flew into our kitchen and hid which caused me even more emotional distress. Being able to see it in my house was bad enough, but knowing it was there and NOT being able to see it? That's a nightmare, like I've literally had nightmares like that.

But the creepy crawly (fly-y?) friend did not play hide and seek for too long, it reappeared on the ceiling of the kitchen. I looked for a way out. Could I suck it into the vacuum? Would it fly out the back door? No. I. Just. Had. To. Get. It. Out.

I worked up my nerve, I ran over, and paddled it off the ceiling, then I paddled it towards the sliding back door, then I paddled it off into the night. My heart was racing, I was sweating, but I was triumphant. My wife and I broke down in laughter.

I looked like a weirdo in my hoodie and undies and crocs. We had just been through a traumatic couple of minutes. But actually, in a week where we had been overworked and we had under-slept, it had been an almost "fun" bonding time. We had problem solved and felt big emotions together. And we were so glad it was over.

My theory is that the interloper had hitched a piggy back ride when I had come inside after my jog. And still, to this moment, the thought of it attaching itself to my shirt and riding into my house still gives me the itchy-willies.

The moral of those two stories? Hey, I never said there was one, I'm not a role model, ok? Get off my back.

DREAMS & REALITY - Me!! Peter Harmon

Hello!! Today I'm debuting DREAMS & REALITY, my new blog series. As a prototype I interviewed someone I know pretty well... ME!

Name: Peter Harmon
A handful of credits: Transcriber/Logger/Production Assistant/Story Assistant on Intervention, Producer on Celebrity Wife Swap and Home Free

How did you get into Reality TV?
My directing teacher back at Towson University was simultaneously teaching the class while also producing episodes of A&E's Intervention. He would go on location to shoot or work in post in LA then fly to Maryland to teach a Saturday directing class. Once I moved out to LA he was one of my very few contacts. I met him for lunch, asked him about work, and he said he did have a job for me, transcribing, but it wasn't a great job.

I said "I'll take it!"

What is transcribing?
At the time when I was doing it a few years ago, I would watch a DVD of interview footage and type exactly what the interviewer and the interview subject were saying. I made $1 per transcribed minute, which sounds pretty cool, except when you're trying to figure out what drug addicts are saying through their slurred, hazy speech.

How did you get promoted from Transcriber to Logger to PA to Story Assistant all on one show?
I worked on Intervention for about 5 years, roughly 7 seasons. This is not typical in Reality TV. Usually a stint on a show lasts a couple months and then it's time to find a new job. So, since I always got my transcription minutes in on time with few errors and took "rush minutes" and was a pretty cool dude they promoted me to Night Logger. Logging footage (when I was doing it a few years ago...) was watching raw footage and making excel documents about what happened in the footage for the producers and editors to look through to find a topic or a shot or an OTF (On The Fly interview) that they may need.
I actually could have gotten promoted to Production Assistant sooner but my wife and I had our first son while I was night logging and I logged at night and watched the baby during the day. So I didn't take a day position a couple times when it was offered because we weren't making enough really for childcare and he was still so little we wanted me to watch him. 
During that period of time I didn't get a ton of sleep... 
Once our baby was bigger we transitioned to childcare and I switched to the day shift and right around then the current Story Assistant was promoted and I took his spot. 
I attribute the promotions to: being around, learning, making my intentions of going into the story department known, having a good attitude, and being a chill dude.

What's a weird thing about Reality TV that no one thinks about?
People have microphones strapped to their bodies while they're being filmed. They forget they have them on. They go to the bathroom. 
I've heard dozens, maybe hundreds, of people pee.

You must have moved to Hollywood with a dream, what is it and how are you still pursuing that dream? 
I have been shooting video, making movies, and writing since I was a kid. I started as a camera person and switchboard operator on my elementary school's morning show. I wrote poems and stories throughout grade school and took television productions classes in high school. My curfew was before all of my friends had to be home so after I hung out with them I'd hit Blockbuster and see what was new, what was in the Sundance section, what else had some writer done that I had just discovered.
I went to college for Electronic Media & Film and Creative Writing.
Simply, I came to Hollywood to write movies.  
And I have! I've written several produced direct to DVD movies (when that was still a thing...), for example, anyone a big fan of Nora's Hair Salon 3???? I wrote that. I also wrote a movie that was released last year, shot in Tokyo, called Love In Tokyo. And a handful of sketch videos, a web series, and other various projects. 
I'm still out here writing and hustling to do bigger movies. I wrote a young adult novel that I hope will be adapted into a movie at some point as well. SO I am still on my journey.

Thanks Pete!
Yep.
Check out The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last. The sequel is coming this summer.

Hey Reality TV friends! I'd like to interview YOU! Please email me at TheHappenstances at gmail.com or message me on Facebook or whatever. THANK YOU!!!

Two New Projects!!

Helloooo!

Today I'm announcing two new projects that I'm very excited about.

YOUNG AND IN LOVE is a new PODCAST that my wife Ashlea and I have started!

Here's the pitch: Pete and Ash are (relatively) young and certainly in love. Pete is an author, screenwriter, producer, and daddy. Ash is a teacher at an inclusive school and a mommy. Each episode they talk about parenting, productivity, and positivity and they also play fun games, discuss current events and pop culture. Welcome to Young And In Love!

The first episode is up RIGHT NOW. You can search Young And In Love on iTunes or find it here.

and

DREAMS & REALITY is a new BLOG SERIES that I'll be posting here on my blog.

Here's the pitch: I interview people that I know in the Reality TV realm. I'll ask them about the behind the scenes of working in "reality." Crazy stories, terrible craft services, run-ins with the talent... And also practical knowledge like how to get into television production, what is a "stringout", and what in the world could a "frankenbite" be? 

Another aspect of the blog posts will be focusing on the subject's Hollywood dreams. Why did they initially venture to Los Angeles? What side projects do they do? What are their aspirations for the reality space? I'll be able to pepper in my thoughts and experiences as well. It'll be fun!

So to my Reality TV friends and fam, email me if you would like to be interviewed for this series.

Thanks!!

Swim Lesson.

I've been swimming before work recently. I know, I know, hold your applause. I've swam? swum? swimmed? laps off and on since I was on the ole' Cheverly Dolphins Swim Team back in the day. They say it's great exercise.

I like it because it's one of the rare times I allow quiet in my brain. I'm usually listening to a podcast or spotify or I'm at work watching footage or I'm at home and my dang kids are jibber jabberin'. Even when I go to bed I'm "podding." But under the water it's eerily silent, in a good way, and I get my think on.

The pool I go to doesn't have many lap lanes. In fact, on some mornings there are only two lanes for swimmin', the rest of the pool devoted to water-obics, led by an older gentlewoman with a somehow-not-dangerous Britney Spears microphone attached to her face. Every time I walk up to the pool there is a calculation. How many lanes? How many people per lane? Who's swimming laps? Who's doing a weird psuedo-exercise move on the ladder at the far end of the pool? Why is he doing that? Why is he not being dragged out of here?

All that to say, I want to find a good lane where I won't either be holding up the next Michael Phelps with my non-Olympic stroke speed OR I'm not running into the back of anyone's legs because I'm, not to brag, better-than-average at swimming.

Yesterday (or maybe the day before the day before, who cares?) as I was walking into the facility there was a hefty older fella slowly making his way towards the locker room. I went around him because every morning I'm on a very tight timeline so that I can: drop my baby off at daycare, swim some laps, then get home to get ready for work so that I can sit on the 101 for an hour.

I walked into the natatorium (look it up, great word) and saw that there was (heavenly choir awww sound) an open lane! I slid into that sucker and began to swim. The joy of an open lane, must be like what the very eagle soaring upon yonder gale of wind betwixt the clouds and heav'n must feel. Freedom. America. Third thing.

But then (organ music) the hefty fella from earlier splooshed into my lane. I thought "Oh jeez louise" because it's tough to share a lane under the best circumstances, and this guy looked like he spilled over the lane line with his girth. I was relatively bummed. I mean, not devastated because I get to swim on a weekday morning, that's pretty sweet, but still it's not the ideal swim sitch'.

As soon as the guy started swimming my tune changed. This guy was quick! He may move like a turtle on land, but he moved like a SEA turtle in the water. He was even doing flip turns at the end of each lane. I don't do flip turns, I do the thing where you just get to the wall, turn around, and push off. But this guy was serious!

It ended up being one of my best sessions at the pool because I never had to wait for him or slow my stride. A couple times I hastened my own booty because I felt like I might be in his way. Basically, me and this guy has great swim chemistry, or "swim-istry" as I will forever call it from now on now matter how many groans it induces. And I relearned a tale as old as time, never judge a book by its cover. Unless of course it's my book The Happenstances... and in that case judge the cover because it's awesome and so is the book. In summation: buy my book. Oh, and I won't be a jerk to people based on my preconceived notions. I will now happily share a lane with anyone as long as it's not the guy doing the weird ladder exercises who makes me nervous.

Pete Reads: Catcher In The Rye

I had a funny thought when I saw the movie Gravity.

I mean, the thought itself wasn't that funny, but it was funny that I had it while watching Gravity, you'll see what I mean. But let me first set the scene: I was a little buzzed and I was in the movie theater 100% alone. It was like a tipsy private screening for just me! It was awesome. I like to see movies alone and this was as alone as you can get this side of an extinction level event. I was going to say zombie apocalypse but if a swarm of zombies burst into the theater while I was watching Gravity that would not be enjoyable in the least!

I watched Gravity and loved it. Afterwards I was marveling at what humans are capable of (still buzzed, can you tell?). First, people go into space, that's intense, good for them (astronauts) and us (person-kind) and U.S. (USA! USA!). Second, the filmmaking was pretty incredible. I was like, well, they must have filmed that in space, that was a documentary, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are astronauts... sexy astronauts...

It got me thinking that yes, this is a very good modern movie, but there are so many incredible works of film, literature, music, PAINTINGS, for goodness sake!! I need to step up my game and take in the best art that I can. We only have so much time on this Earth, do I want to spend any of it watching the 4th Final Destination movie for the 3rd time!? (The answer to that question is yes by the way, so, bad example, but you get my point).

Pete, why are you telling me this? you may be thinking. And I would respond that that was my roundabout way of explaining why I just read Catcher In The Rye for the first time. It's a classic, I didn't have to read it in high school, and I've heard about it a bunch but I didn't even know what it was about. All I knew was that comedian/podcaster/actor/etc Moshe Kasher titled his memoir of his tumultuous teen years "Kasher In The Rye." And also there's that joke in The Good Girl when Jake Gyllenhaal (by the way just spelled that right on the first try, blammo) tells Jennifer Anniston that he's named after Catcher In The Rye and she says "What's your name? Catcher?" 

Also Ash owns the book and it was sitting around the house lookin' all fine and I just hadta read it.

I was delighted when I began Catcher In The Rye. I love Holden Caulfield's voice and the style with which he's written. In hindsight I've read that teens identify with his worldview, which I sort of get, but reading him as a 30-year-old I thought he was immature and spoiled and sheltered. His descriptions of people and events were hilarious. Since I didn't know the 'plot' of the book I kept waiting for the story to kick in but it never does and I was still along for the meandering ride.

Overall I give it 4 out of 5 Catcher's Mitts. Very enjoyable.

#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: The Final Countdown

24)    Media Multitask
In the past I’ve not watched a show or read a book because I was already involved with another show, book, etc.  But I want to multitask with my media.  Maybe I’ll be reading 3 books at a time, or I’ll toggle between “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards”.  I think it’ll be good for me because sometimes I’m not feeling the particular single book I’m reading at the moment and then I won’t read for weeks, so now I’ll have a couple options to jump around to.

This is something I've incorporated into my life. I read a couple books, watched a couple shows, and even juggled a couple different projects at once. The big win of this item was finishing "Breaking Bad", I loved it and now I'm onto "Better Call Saul" and Ash and I just started "11.22.63" last night and we're even watching the show I last worked on "Child Genius". I'm reading a couple different books still and they satisfy different reading itches. So this was good.

25)    Throw Out the First Pitch
They say to love what loves you back, and Reality TV has been good to me.  I would love to be a full time television or feature film screenwriter, but until then, I should develop some reality TV pitches, so I’m going to do one.

I didn't do this one... I talked to some people about it but I got caught up with my book and developing ideas in that realm. Writing the book has been one of the most fun creative projects I've ever done, I'm going to try to nurture it. That said, I do love working on TV shows, meeting creative people, and having steady work. I'm currently looking for my next Story Producer gig, so if you hear of anything let me know!

TV ingredients 

TV ingredients 

26)    Man of a House
We already moved into our first single family home, so I kind of already crushed this one, BUT with a great house comes great responsibility, so I’m going to be on my house-game and get in some good practice for when Ash and I can buy our own house in the future.

Ash and I have taken care of our house, we're still here and we love it. It's a lot of work to keep it clean but it's so fun to have space and a yard, we're #blessed for sure. Shoutout to Ash's and my dad for coming through and fixing up a bunch of minor annoyances.

27)    Fresh Ink
I’m going to get a half-sleeve of tattoos before I turn 30, then I can always say it was something dumb I did in my twenties.  I won’t have that excuse next year, so I gotta get it done.

One reason I didn't do this one was because it wouldn't have been a good way to spend money with baby arriving. BUT also my tattoo artist died in a tragic motorcycle accident, I haven't looked for anyone else, I really liked him as a person and as an artist. He was from Virginia and loved dogs and fixing up motorcycles. He did some very meaningful tattoos for Ash and I and I was really sad to hear he had died so young and in such a violent way. So, not saying I'll never get another tattoo, there are many more that I want, but this past year was not the time.

If you have money to donate, besides considering Operation Smile, consider donating to rescuing pitbulls or motorcycle safety awareness, two causes that were close to his heart.

28)    Have a Spec-tacular year
I’m going to write a new TV spec script, which for those who don’t know, is one of the ways you get hired for a TV writing job.  I wrote one for “Up All Night” (you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/UpAllNightSpec) a year or so ago, but that show was canceled, so even though it’s a good sample, it’s not a great sample.  I need a fresh one of an airing show.

Word on the street is that specs are out and original pilots are the way to go. Specs are now only relevant, it seems, to apply for the writing fellowships that happen every year (Nickelodeon, CBS, etc, etc). I've been concentrating my writing time on my next book and sketch comedy actually (hopefully some big stuff in the works on that front). I do think I should write a pilot script for The Happenstances... though, I could see it as a feature length movie OR an animated series!

The next King Of The Hill...??!?

The next King Of The Hill...??!?

29)    Paint the Town, Or At Least a Wall, Red… Or Some Other Color
I’ve never painted a wall either, so I’m going to do that.  Probably an accent wall in the aforementioned awesome house that we live in.

Yeah, nah... I did help (slightly) with the nursery and I've done some semi-handy stuff around the house, but I didn't paint a wall.

30)    Keep doing ME!
And also, hey, I’m not doing so bad being my damn self.  Remember the things I mentioned at the top: married, child, job, etc?  I’m doing a lot of things right and I’m super blessed.  I’m going to stay true to my work ethic and creativity and what makes me me and continue living live 100%.

Look, I didn't do several of the goals but I definitely did this last one. I have an awesome family and I worked a ton last year and wrote and worked out and did some new things. I'm making healthy choices. This was a fun exercise for sure. My 20s were crazy! I can't imagine what will happen in my 30s.

Also, I can't wait to stop having to tag #Pete30Before30 in my Instagram posts...

#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: Part 3

A few more of these, two days before my birthday. Scanning what is to come I see that I failed on a few of these, ugh.

14)    Have Some Class
I’m going to take a class in something I don’t know about: parkour, basket weaving, candlemaking?!  No, but something cool.

Since Ash and I had our second child during my 29th year we took a childbirth class with a doula as a refresher but I certainly learned new things. It was empowering and it led to an awesome birth experience (you can read our birth story here). And it's not like I'm taking a class in producing my audiobook right now but I am learning a ton as I'm doing it.

15)    It’s Time for the Percolator
I don’t know how to make coffee.  That, paired with not knowing how to work a multi-line phone is what made me a terrible production assistant, glad I’m (fingers crossed) past that stage in my career.  But I’m still going to learn how to make coffee.  Maybe I can take a coffee making class and kill two birds with one stone.

So I didn't learn how to make coffee BUT I learned that I am an iced coffee man. I would like to make my own cold brew at some point, but I haven't yet. This is sort of a fail but I definitely have enjoyed searching for the best cups of iced coffee, cold brews, etc.

16)    En-capsule-lating Our Lives
I can’t remember if I’ve ever done a time capsule, which means it wasn’t memorable if I have, but I know Christian hasn’t done one.  So we’re going to do one, or maybe a couple so we can bury them at his grandparents’ houses and dig them up in the future and laugh at how we used to have cell phones instead of the brain implants we’re all assigned at birth.
17)    Guilding the Petey
I’m going to join the Producer’s Guild solely for the end of the year screeners.  I mean, health care options, awesome panels, and such will be an added bonus, but yeah, just for the screeners.
18)    Be Preachy
I was asked to potentially officiate the wedding of a friend, I’m going to get ordained!  I’m not sure what this entails, I even had to Google ‘the guy at the wedding who says the stuff’ to even see that the correct word was officiate, so this is going to be a long process.

I did not do ANY of those three, and I have excuses, sort of. There's no excuse for the time capsule one, I should have done that but as far as the Producer's Guild we were saving money this year for when the baby came so I didn't feel like spending the money and time to join, but I do still want to do that. I also didn't get ordained because no one asked me to marry them, so I didn't have to, the jury is still out if I'll ever have to do that one.

19)    Fading In and Out
Going back to a similar theme as the seeing the classic movies goal, I’m a screenwriter and I seldom read screenplays, so I’m going to read (at least) 30 of them.  I’m in love with writing so I should check out what my peers and heroes are doing on their pages as well.

I didn't get to 30 screenplays, but this was an awesome one. Super educational and very fun. I hope the movies I read turn out being as good as the ones I imagined while reading them. The only movie that I've seen that I read the screenplay for through this was The Cabin In The Woods and man that was an enjoyable read.

20)    Cyberspace-lift
My website, www.PeterLHarmon.com (#Pete30Before30) needs to be redone (and it already sort of has, still some tweaks though.)

I actually fully did this! I have more ideas for the site too! A "Book Buzz" page where I have reviews and such, more blogs posts, etc etc. Stay tuned!

21)    Lose Weight
No, not like that!  Every time I travel with the fam we’re in the airport stressed, our bags are too heavy, it’s a whole ordeal that makes me hate traveling.  So I’m going to practice traveling light.  Maybe I can go on a trip with just a backpack full of essential clothing, we’ll see.

I didn't do too much traveling this year but when I did I tried this, especially during my quick trip to Maryland. However, now that we have two kids and a dog, I'm dreading our next flight... 

22)    Get Jumped
Thankfully I’ve never had to know how to jump start a car, but I’m going to learn now, it’s important probably.

OK, this is going to sound bad because I didn't do this one either (lay off alright, we have two kids!) BUT my car didn't start once this past year and I found out how to get quick service that's covered by my warranty and a guy comes with a battery box thing and starts the car in two seconds, so why risk me doing something wrong and blowing up my car when I can get the guy to come do it for free? That sounds smarter to me (but I know I sound like the worst...)

Let's go out on a high note tonight: 23)    Smile Like I Mean It
Because I had a cleft lip I’ve had difficult teeth that have required a lot of maintenance, and I kept up with it pretty well.  But over the past couple of years I stopped going to the dentist regularly because I work so much that I didn’t want to take off to go, and then I finally went earlier in the year and I had some work to do.  So, from now on I’m going to take care of this group of friends in my mouth that I call a smile.

I did this! Thank God for dental insurance, I put some money where my mouth is. AND I floss and brush twice a day and now I use mouthwash and I wear TWO retainers at night. I did the heck out of this one.

Phew, more coming soon!


#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: Part 2

I'll discuss a few more of my #30Before30 things now, one week from my 30th birthday!

6)    Play it for the first time, Sam
I went through a bunch of ’30 movies to see before you turn 30’ lists and put together a set of movies that I should have seen already.  Classics that not only as a former film student I am ashamed that I haven’t seen, but I’m ashamed as a human (cough, The Godfather, cough), so uh, yeah, I’m going to watch those, so I don’t have to smile and nod when people are discussing horse heads in beds and offers people can’t refuse or whatever.

OK, well I didn't keep track of this as closely as I should have and unless Training Day (which I rewatched the other night) counts as a classic movie (which I would argue IT DOES!) then I think I'm more than a few shy of 30. I did watch: Annie HallChinatownDefending Your LifeGlengarry Glen RossGoodfellasGrease, and Philadelphia to name the ones I kept track of. This was also a learning experience though. I don't think I could power through several classic movies in a row. I need a wide variety of older movies, dumb movies from my past (I'm looking at you Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), and the best of modern day movies (Ex MachinaStar Wars: The Force AwakensThe Revenant... and that's just great movies with Domhnall Gleeson in them!) So yes, I did really love watching the classics, but I have to keep abreast of what's happening as well. I am going to try to incorporate more classic movies into my diet though.

Speaking of a variety of movies, you've got to check out my friend Joe Frank's debut movie Sweaty Betty, now available on Amazon on DVD or streaming.

In a cramped row house on the border of Washington, D.C., two stories of big dreams take place. Floyd and his family have raised a 1000-pound pig in their backyard, and are determined to turn her into the team mascot for the Redskins football team. Floyd puts his plan into motion, but the pig, named Miss Charlotte, draws unwanted attention. A few blocks away, Rico and Scooby, two teenage single fathers and best friends, are hanging around the neighborhood. As they scheme up a plan for a better life for themselves and their children, they are presented with an unexpected opportunity. Based on a true story! From the Producer of Straight Outta Compton.

"The great discovery of this year's SXSW festival" --Eric Cohn, Indiewire

7)    Kiss the Cook…
I love to cook, but I return to the same things over and over.  I need to add some new dishes into my life and maybe try some baking.  Plus, who doesn’t love pictures of food on instagram!?

I most certainly did this. A couple standouts were: banana and egg pancakes (that's it, those are the only ingredients! you can add vanilla or blueberries or whatever, but they're so good and easy), black bean burgers, a buffalo tofu and bleu cheese panini, and many, many more. I tagged them #Cook30 on my Instagram. I'm going to try to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into my life because in general meat in America isn't handled well. It contributes to pollution in a major way, the animals are treated cruelly, etc. BUT, any time my brother in law Josh kills and prepares deer meat I'm in because he hunts his own meat, stores it, and uses it to feed his family and lucky others. 

8)    And Food for Thought
And in the same vein, eat better!  I eat fairly healthfully now, but I can do better.  No soda, no artificial sweeteners, etc, so that I’ll see the next 30 years, or 300, who knows with technology advancing the way it is these days.

I gave up soda and diet soda, I stopped using Sweet N Low and switched to Raw Sugar, I drank more seltzer water and less drinks with calories in them. I generally ate pretty well... However, I didn't cut down on caffeine or alcohol, if anything I doubled down, haha! Those are still areas where I could improve but I love a good buzz going up or down. I am going to go all out on my birthday, but I could probably take some time off afterwards.

must have...

must have...

9)    Adventure Time!
I’m going to take my family on 30 adventures this year.  The beach, a new museum… San Francisco maybe?  Christian loves to learn, Ash loves to travel, and I love to walk around new places drinking caffeinated and/or alcoholic beverages, so let’s combine that into some amazing trips and new experiences.

Some notable family adventures: going fishing, Street Food Cinema, Santa Barbara day trip, Palm Springs, Sriracha Chili Grinding Festival, Krispy Kreme's Talk Like a Pirate Day, Christian learning to swim over the summer, Big Bear, the LA Zoo, Bro's Mornings, Sky High Trampoline Park, and of course, the biggest adventure of all, having another baby, yowza!

10)    Investing in Myself
I’m going to start saving for my retirement.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to work, to a certain extent, but some day I’d like to not work, so I gotta get on that, I’m almost 30 for goodness sakes.

I was not able to do this, in fact, I'm looking for a new gig right now so if you hear of anything, let me know...

However!!! I was talking to a good friend the other night, Marc E., editor extraordinaire and person of frequent mention on blogs across the land, and he was talking about another gentleman who said you should have a way of making money that makes money for you instead of you making money for someone else... whatever, I'm butchering the concept, but anyway, writing my book was another stream of income that will hopefully become a way of making money while I make money at my other job, you know? So far I've spent way more on marketing the book than I've gotten paid in royalties, but someday hopefully that tide will change or the book will get optioned to be a movie or what have you. And I'm going to keep writing books and keep making that "mailbox money" as one might say.

Did I mention buy my book?!

11)    Let Them See You Sweat
Exercise for (at least) 30 minutes a day, (at least) 4 times a week.  Straight up.

Check.

12)    Take a Stand
Yep, I’m going to be ‘that guy’ at work with the standing desk.  I haven’t done too much research into the whole ‘sitting down for however many hours a day is going to kill you’ thing, but I know people who have looked into it, and I trust them.

I did this at work for 1 out of 3 jobs last year, so not the majority, but I did it at home too though. After Calvin was born my go-to move for a couple weeks was to wear him in the Baby Bjorn while I wrote at my stand up desk, pretty sweet.

And the last one for this batch, lucky 13)    Worth a Thousand Words, But What’s That in Dollars These Days?
I’m going to take and post a picture on instagram every day, #Pete30Before30, because there’s beauty all around, even in the mundane, and I need to take more time to stop and recognize all the wonderful… just kidding, I need more social media followers so that I can sell more books, haha!  The other stuff is true too though!!

You can see all of my picture-a-day posts by searching the hashtag #Pete30Before30 on Instagram. I did indeed increase my social media followers this year, on Instagram I have more than double what I did last year and I know that I have made book sales directly by posting on my social media accounts, so onward and upward.

Alright, more to come later, thanks!!

#Pete30Before30 Wrap Up: Part 1

It's almost here... I turn 30 years old in 2 weeks! It's been an incredible year and I think that a lot of that will come out as I wrap up my 30 Before 30: 30 things I wanted to accomplish, watch, even buy, in the year before I turned 30. This is just Part 1, I'll do a couple now and a couple more until I've covered all 30.

So here we go!

My original post will be in italics, then I'll type up my summary in good ole' normal type.

1)    Save Face
I was born with a cleft lip, I donate money to Operation Smile to help kids less fortunate than me get the life changing surgery that I was blessed enough to get when I needed it.  Over the course of this year I’ll donate enough for one surgery ($240), please join me in donating if you so desire.  I set up a OneSmile page where you can donate along with me here:
http://tinyurl.com/PetesOneSmile

I have indeed donated my $240 for one surgery (which I'll do every year by the way). I set another goal to raise donations for another $240 for another surgery and a bunch of awesome people donated and we raised an additional $300!! I'm going to try to push for another $180 on my birthday so that all in all 3 kids will have had their lives changed, but even what we did already is pretty cool. Thank you to anyone who donated.

 

2)    Don’t Run in Place, Run at a Place
I’m going to run a 5k!  Hopefully a fun one that involves beer or inflatable obstacles or mud or something.  This will be probably pretty tough for me and I’ll have to do some training for it.  I’ll keep you posted on which one I do so you can come along.  Maybe I’ll run for Operation Smile and raise some more money!

Man, this one was pretty cool. First of all I was able to raise money for Operation Smile through running the 5K. I ran the LA Harvest Festival Pumpkin Run and at the end I got a pumpkin! Another cool part about this goal was that I hated running but through training for the 5K I kind of got into running and now I run a couple days a week, so this was a life changer.

 

3)    Let Me Upgrade Me
I use my laptop computer every day at work, I write scripts and things on it, I’m writing this on it currently, right this second.  I got my MacBook before Facebook was invented…  It’s old.  I need a new one.  I’m going to do the damn thing and invest in a new laptop.

All I have to say about this one is... bling blinggg (and see picture below).

 

4)    A Novel Idea
Here’s a big announcement…  I have a deal with a publishing company to publish a novella I wrote.  This is beyond a dream come true, it’s a dream that I never knew I had in me really, I didn’t think it was possible.  I will write about this in length as the different steps happen.  So excited!!

In June of 2015 my first novel The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last was published by Koehler Books, it has been such a cool experience! I've been working hard to try to get the word out about the book. I've bought ads, been a guest on some of my favorite podcasts, and really hit the social media hard. In fact, if you still haven't bought the book you should go here: www.tinyurl.com/TheHappenstances and get the paperback or kindle version, what are you waiting for!?

AND, I'm working on a follow up novel to The Happenstances... where we'll pick back up with the Yellow County crew a couple of years later. Look out for that in probably 2017.

Here's a picture of me when I first got to hold a hard copy of my book:

 

5)    Be a Sport
I like sports, I like to play sports, but I hardly watch sporting events.  I’m going to make up for my total lack of sporting knowledge by watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries.

OK, this will be the last one for today, and we'll end this group on a failure... I only watched 8 of these (list below) but every one I saw was excellent and I learned a ton that I didn't know before. I am definitely going to continue to incorporate these and of course other docs into my life. There's nothing better than a well-done documentary.

So those were my first five 30 Before 30 goals and how they turned out. Stay tuned for the rest of the list...

 

How did you find the time?

My book, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last, has been out for just over a month now.  It's been so cool to see pictures on social media of people with my book at the pool or at the beach, or tagging me saying "I just got your book!"  I've sold my book to a couple people in person and they've asked me to sign it, which is crazy.  I've had a couple conversations about the book with coworkers and family and podcasters and an interviewer for a web show.  It's awesome!  And it's especially cool because I really believe in the book.  I've created a lot of content and Happenstances is what I'm most proud of so far in my content creating career.

I work in television production and a question that invariably comes up is "How did you find the time to write a book?!"  Coworkers say they would like to write or make a film or this hobby or that and they're amazed that I completed a thing.  My answer to their question is always that I didn't "find the time to write a book"...

I made the time.

I got it into my head that I was going to adapt my screenplay into a young adult novel and then for the next couple of years I chipped away at it, an hour here, 30 minutes there.  Believe me, if I had looked at as a full task I would have been overwhelmed, but I looked at it as a process.

That's what I'm doing with the next book.  I'd love to set a deadline and write X amount of pages per day and all the sorts of things you read in the "how to write" books.  

But currently, with a 4 year old son, another son on the way, a 50+ hour a week job, promoting the first book, and everything else that pops up in life just being an adult human, I can't think about the next book in a traditional way.

So for me, right now, I'm happy to get a few moments a week, probably after my son is asleep, and probably while my pregnant wife is binge watching "Friends" and my pug is probably snoring somewhere on the carpet that she blends in with, to chip away at that next book.

The Sunglass Ville Saga

Let's flash back to weeks before my novel, The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last, was released (now available from Koehler Books, www.tinyurl.com/TheHappenstances by the way).  I was in the midst of planning my book release party.  I ordered two boxes of books to be sent straight to Maryland, I ordered whistles that perfectly complimented the color scheme of my cover as bookmarks, AND I worked with a company called Sunglass Ville to design some promotional sunglasses to give away at my book events.

The staff was helpful over the phone and the process was easy, I ordered 144 pairs of custom sunglasses and it was $135.

A week or two later I checked the tracking number to see when I could expect my sunglasses because my event in Maryland was fast approaching and FedEx's website said that they had delivered the box a couple of days before.  Ashlea (my wife) was missing a box of prescription contacts she was expecting as well and it was around Christian's (my son) birthday and my parents sent him gifts that were also MIA.

We all called our shipping services and it was apparent that someone had seen several boxes outside of our house and stolen everything.  It was sad that Christian's gifts were gone, it was inconvenient that Ash's contacts were gone, and I was mad that my sunglasses were taken.

I'll cut through some of the back and forth with Sunglass Ville because in the end they did the right thing and reprinted and re-sent a new box of custom sunglasses to me at their loss.  The sunglasses are high quality and Sunglass Ville's customer service helped me work through the problem, I applaud their business ethics and I will be buying custom sunglasses from them again in the future.  I recommend Sunglass Ville for ALL of your custom sunglasses needs.

Here is their lovely product (and mine!!)

Their site is: https://www.sunglassville.com/

Am I normal?

Today I heard two opposing views on approaching life.  One, a coworker, who I know is passionate in another area besides the thing he gets paid to do for 10+ hours a day, 5 days a week, the other from a celebrity who is a top performer in her sport.

The coworker was bemoaning that possibly next week we'll probably have to stay late to finish a project.  He said that he has other priorities, he hopes he gets paid overtime, and at his age (not very old at all) he has lost the edge that he once had for going the extra mile, building his reputation, etc.

The celebrity, she's an athlete, said that literally she wants to be the best at her sport ever, and pays a team of people to take her out of her comfort zone daily in order to reach that goal.

I'm not sure if either of these viewpoints would necessarily have made a huge impact on me separately, but they came in such rapid succession that they really hit me.

Hearing my coworker I thought: I get it, it sucks to not get to see your kid at night, it sucks to work overtime and lose sleep, it sucks to have a passion in something and not get to make your living in that field.  

But that's natural.  That's normal.

Hearing the celebrity-athlete I thought wow (besides every single rapper) I've never heard someone say "I want to be the best ever" and be serious and not actually be that far off arguably. 

It made me want to work harder at my day job, my writing, being a daddy/husband, being healthy.  Because like I said, the former viewpoint is normal, but being willing to sacrifice is abnormal.  

I think I want to be abnormal.

Such a Tease

I posted the book teaser trailer for The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last last week and I've gotten very positive reactions to it, thank you to everyone who has watched it so far, and if you haven't, here it is!

Another bit of Happenstances related conversation, last week I also sent out my first email newsletter to the mailing list I've accrued of family, friends, past and current colleagues, collaborators, etc.  I plan on sending content, updates, etc once every couple of weeks, nothing intrusive, but totally fun.  

If you'd like to be on that mailing list, or just want to drop me a Happenstances related line, email me at TheHappenstances at gmail.com, or contact me on Facebook or Twitter or even leave a comment on this post, (so many ways!!?!).

I think that covers it.

A few weeks ago I got an email that was simply titled Happenstance Cover.  I was sitting at work (or standing rather, #StandingDesk), it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday, and then that email came in and rocked my world.  

The graphic designer assigned my book cover introduced herself, said that she had read the book, and loved not only the book itself, but the concept for the front cover that I pitched.  She included some sketches attached as a PDF.

I opened the attachment and the characters that I had been creating since college were there on those sketch pad pages.  It was awesome.

CUT TO: A few weeks later.

My publisher just released two potential covers to The Happenstances... and you, yes YOU, can vote on which one you enjoy the most.  Click here (or on the picture), read the synopsis and such, then VOTE via the sidebar poll.

By the way, both of these book covers have SO many hidden 'easter eggs' from the book.  I can't wait for people to read it.

Shooting the Book Trailer

Last weekend I shot a book trailer for The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  

First and foremost, big, big thank yous to Rick Bickerstaff, Jason Marsh, and Marc Femenella for helping me with this project.

I work a minimum of 10 hours a day, plus (not to sound like "The Californians" but) I live in the valley and my office is in Santa Monica so that adds a bit of a commute on either end of that.  And I ordered some awesome lifeguard shorts for the shoot that hadn't come yet (and still haven't by the way).  So Friday night came around and there were still miles to go before I slept.  I stopped at Smart & Final on my way home from work to get snack bar-esque supplies.  Then I ran by Target to get replacement red shorts to stand in for the waylaid pair.

Finally I got home and it was time to cook.  

I cooked late-ish into the night.

I was the Walter White of fried foods.

I dipped into my own supply though...

Here were just a few of the props:

The next morning I rose early and drove down to the wonderful Redondo Beach.  Rick and his family were very generous with their time, their home, and their baby who is a delight.  The location was great for what I needed to shoot.

Jason brought some badass equipment and his bad self.  

And basically the shoot was a few bros bro-ing down by the pool.  

Beautiful weather, good food, great footage shot.

And I even got in front of the camera for a little thing that I'm excited to see how it turned out...

This weekend or next Marc will be cutting a couple things together and I'll release them as my book's release date approaches.

So far so many people have helped in making this dream come true, I appreciate it.

A day in the life

My morning commute to work currently takes so long that the weather changes dramatically from the time I doop-doop open my car door to when I roll down my window to scan my parking card.  I'm talking maybe thirty degrees.  And I only live a baker's dozen miles from the office where I currently work.  But that's the deal.

Some days as I'm crawling up the hill, like if Sisyphus had to take the 405 to work too, I hope that I'm living my origin story, my Act One, where the average guy is doing the mundane stuff that should really only last for a couple pages at the top and then some inciting incident grabs him out of his routine and thrusts him into the meat of his movie.  I'm hoping Happenstances is that thing.

Then I get to work and I get to make television, and meet awesome, creative people.  The drive home is not so bad, especially due to the daylight savior who bequeathed us with another hour of sunlight, so even though I still miss the sun setting, the night has not completely muscled the day aside and the sky is a pretty shade of, as Jack's Mannequin might say: dark blue.  When I get home to my wife and my son and my pug my life is extraordinary, #blessed.  

Then at night, after Christian has heard once again what was on the menu for that particularly hungry caterpillar, when Summer is snoring somewhere, and Ashlea is sipping tea on the couch, watching one hour dramas about vampires or teens or vampire teens, the laptop is cracked open.