Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cooking the Bird

I'm about to prep my first turkey. In the past, I've roasted chickens, cooked stews, drizzled a balsamic reduction over a first seared then roasted chicken breast, pioneered countless ragouts and topped off the turkey with the finest of Thanksgiving Stuffing (my world famous cornbread, bacon and pecan stuffing). But I've never, ever prepped the turkey.

This is intense.

Alright, I'm off.

Happy Turkey Holocaust.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Business of Emails as an Artist

Google is sucking my life today. I've literally been on Gmail since 10 AM. It's now 2:30 PM. That's four and a half hours of Google. That's half of a conventional corporate workday. Where did all of the time go? It didn't go towards writing a short story, outside of the necessary content of each message. It wasn't spent dicking around on Facebook (okay, maybe like fifteen minutes were spent on Facebook). It wasn't consumed with Gchat (okay, maybe like another fifteen or twenty minutes were thrown away on Gchat). Still, if I'm being honest, I spent like three and a half hours in total on email.That's a lot!

I can't do that everyday and get my real work done.

Yet, I think you'd agree: in this day and age, it is necessary to send and receive emails. It's part of the business of being your own business. An excavation of today's emails would reveal that I set up a gig, I sent out questions regarding a talent agency, I communicated with my On-Camera Reel producer, and I even took the time to send a few thank you notes. That's not so bad, right?

Some days it's all business. Others, it's all art. I just can't let one dominate the other, that's all. Good fences make good neighbors, right?

Maybe tomorrow I'll set time aside for my art. That's not a bad idea, if I commit to it. And THAT'S the trick.

Relax, Sam: you done good today. You'll do good tomorrow too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Thanks, I'm Milwaukee

Today, I'm driving to Milwaukee to book another talent agency. A year ago, I was ignorant of this possibility. At the time I thought, "There's nothing outside of Chicago except New York and LA. The rest is corn fields."

My modus operandi was to continually mail packages to, what I assumed was, every talent house in town. My thinking again was, "well, I've done this before, but maybe this time will be different." The result was that I either didn't hearing anything or, from the more gracious places, I received a Not-at-this-Time letter. I decided to change my tactic: I took a class on Voice Over.

From here, I learned the logical next step was to make a demo of my sound. I couldn't wait to do it, so before I even stepped into my last class, I was already behind the mic making my recording. And the producer gave me some great advice.

"Look into these places. One's in Milwaukee," he said, as he handed me a list. I cold called them all at his recommendation.. "Best case scenario, you get an extra minute to promote yourself. Worst case scenario, they say, 'We're busy' and hang up. There's nothing to lose."

After I acquired a list and made the calls, I mailed all the agencies my CD. Within a week of my submissions, I had multiple auditions.

My first was for one of the best agencies in town! This was a sign for sure. So I got there early and was ready to make it just perfect. I grabbed the scripts from the receptionist and spent too much time preparing them. Finally, the agent found me. "Let's do this," she said. "We don't have all day."

We did about four takes each and then she asks me to follow her to her office.

"Look," she said, "you're good, but I'm not going to sign you." She then proceeded to tell me that I need more polish if I was going to compete with her other clients. She gave me the name of a coach, "he's an LA guy. He's one of the best. Work with him and come back to me in a year. Maybe someone else picks you up in the mean time and you never come back. That's just a risk I'm going to have to take."

I thank her for her time and, covering my embarrassment, left.

However, for the first time, this "no" was genuinely helpful.

Since then, I've worked with multiple coaches, booked multiple gigs and landed another agent. Now, I'm about to drive up to Milwaukee for a second one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nearly Doubling an Income - A Challenge

On October 14th, my last day of working in a corporate job, I wagered that I could make $1100 freelancing as an actor for the month of November. Setting out, I had a vague idea of how I was going to do this, but no assurance of security. Now that the month is nearly over, and, including a gig I have on December 1st, I will have manged to make a total of $1080.

I am calling this month a success. There are even a few uncounted possibilities still pending.

In the grand scheme of things, and while this is not much money -- significantly less than I made in my corporate job -- and while it won't be enough to live on in the long run, my work this month set up future opportunities. Plus, I grew as an artist as I built towards my overall objective of creating meaningful and relevant stories that inspire play, induce happiness and support healthy living.

To strengthen this conviction, in December, I'm challenge myself to double my November income through only work that fulfills my mission.

God speed, Sam Buti.

I have a vague idea of how I'm going to do this, but no assurance of security. With nothing set, I have everything to figure out. That's pretty exciting.

Worst case scenario, I learn something that makes me better off in the long run.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If you Only do two Things...

Be happy and do what you love. Even if you don't know precisely what you love, do what you like and find the love within it. In a Voice Over session recently, my coach advised me to, "find the love spot in your body and groove on it. That's all Voice Over is." That's pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, you know what I'd love to hear? I'd love to hear what you do for love. For me, and at the moment, it's journaling, reading aloud into a microphone and playing imrpov. I also really love good conversations.

Alright, speaking of love, I'm off to celebrate my one year anniversary with my girlfriend. Peace out!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How My Grandmother Reaffirms my Conviction

When I waver in my conviction to create a life worth live, when I assume I should be working more conventionally and with all that entails -- working a nine-to-five, not enjoying my life, subjugating myself for a dollar, etc. -- I think about Gram, my grandmother, and I get back to my living. She's getting older now, and like many older people, she has experienced the death of some of her nearest and dearest friends and family.

My mother, in contrast, and who almost died once and has endured many major illnesses since, is not facing this reality as severely. As it now stands, she came out of it, and many of the people around her are still living. Gram, on the other hand, is watching the threshold approach. And no one is coming back from that

My grandmother has always been a charmer. Everyone takes to her. She's funny and kind, even flirty. I aspire to be so charismatic when I'm her age. But in the last few years, her attitude has turned a touch south. She now signs her emails, "Love and Prayers," where she never used to pray much.

Her husband died nearly 30 years ago, and I've heard her tell stories about spending her last days with friends as they passed. In all of this, she never made a fuss; it's unlike her to draw attention to pain. That is, until her neighbor died two months ago.

When her neighbor died, she lost her most frequent confidant and friend.

For someone who is so positive, the regret that follows this sadness astonishes me.

But, I'll leave that for another post.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Point of Perception

I don't want to do this tonight.

So, why am I still here?

Because I said I would be...

...and if I don't, I will have failed...myself.

What the fuck is that!? What is wrong with me? There's something very wrong with that thinking. This blog is something I decided to do for fun. This blog is something I decided to do to keep learning. This blog is something I decided to do to improve myself.

AH! There's the rub.

What if I didn't have anything left to improve? What if I was fine just as I am?

I...uh...sorry your Honor...can't imagine how that could ever be true.

If I just trusted myself, I'd probably fall back into some shitty life and mind sucking job. If I trusted myself, I'd probably be sold into 20th century slavery. If I trusted myself, I probably have no relationships with anyone!

Let's not get carried away, Sam. We're being a bit dramatic.

Your Honor...I'm not being dramatic, and please don't say "we". As the writer of this blog, I am singularly myself.

You're clearly talking to someone else.

Yes, to illustrate a point.

Which is...

That I don't trust myself.

Right...Most people don't trust themselves a 100% of the time.

Well...yes, I can't see how that's not true.

Of course it's true.

Well, fine. In that case...I don't want to do this anymore.

Then don't.



(::Ceiling Caves In::)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


As I tend to be a jack-of-all-trades sort of person with multiple endeavors on my buffet-style plate at any given time, I'm finding a trick to focusing my efforts: invoking the qualities of a person I admire.

Let me illustrate: Say, for instance, you want to swim like you're in the Olympics yet you haven't been in a pool for years. Where do you begin? Do you go to the weight room and pump irons or do you just get in the water and swim like a fish?

What do you do?

With so many different possibilities, what if you got some guidance first? Imagine the person you want to emulate is taking over your body. I don't mean in like some crazy way -- this isn't magic -- but rather by asking yourself, "what would that person do?"

Finding the right model can sometimes direct the action which, in turn, can become the form.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Jewels of Tension

Have you ever noticed that you tense up while checking out at Jewel (or your local grocery chain)?

Well, I do. I'll be standing inline between this young handsome couple with the frozen pizzas and this really cute brunette with Healthy Choice TV dinners, and I'll have no where to look. I could focus on the clerk, but she's clearly not paying attention to what she's doing, so I'd hate to pull any more of that valuable commodity by staring. I could comment on the cute girl's food choices, but something tells me that this may sound unintentionally condescending. I could look to the couple, but this seems weird and their really stiff which is only adding to my anxiety. So instead, I just try to relax and look for something to ease my mind.

Nothing comes and I'm still tensing. And that's when I realize I'm not breathing. Sigh.

Sometimes, nothing needs to be done. Standing in line can be enough.

And sometimes, maybe saying something, however silly it may sound in my head, might be worth it. Who knows, maybe she'd find my judgment of her food choices endearing. I certainly thought it was funny.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Visualization and Disappearing Doubts

As I've often expressed in this blog, I have lots of doubts. So many, in fact, I easily slip from happy action to fearful stasis.

I have decided, however, that, once and for all, I will crush this thinking...

...Or, at least, significantly undermine it into insignificance.

Today, I woke up early in preparation for an audition. In turn, I arrived and was seen early at the audition, elicited a hearty laugh from my auditors and nabbed an additional audition from those very auditors tomorrow.

And I almost didn't go because of my doubts.

To overcome, I slowed down. I took 20 minutes this morning to imagine the outcome of my day's major events. Then, allowing for the will of the future--which is certainly much larger and more powerful than I--I let these images go. I had calibrated my focus toward my objective but then willingly opened myself to whatever might come.

As my old acting teacher, Audrey Francis, use to say, "do your imagination homework and then kick it to the curb. You can't carry it with you on stage. If you allow it, your partner's behavior will fuel your circumstances and bring your homework back to bite you in the ass."

As for my ass, another audition bit me. I couldn't have asked for more.

Maybe tomorrow I'll visualize disappearing doubts.