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    June 15, 2007

    Gold Prospecting The East Fork Of The San Gabriel River

    My wetsuit is getting pretty threadbare and I just lost all my money at the racetrack, so I decided to strike it rich in Gold country again.

    It didn’t rain much last Winter and this place has been heavily worked for the last 150 years, so I was hoping just to collect some flakes; a teaspoon full of Gold flakes today is worth $600.

    My digging compatriot Ron, aka “Mr. Know It All” did his traditional job of carrying the beer and sluice box for our hike up in to the hills.

    The almost dry river bed of the East Fork Of The San Gabriel River.

    We found a spot where we were hoping Gold would have collected.

    I dig under a rock.

    I dig under a rock.

    Ron digs under a rock he just wenched aside.

    Ron brought some wenches to move large rocks, which worked really well.

    We over turned a few rocks that shined with specs of a nice Gold color!

    We collected these rocks to scrape the Gold flakes off once at home.

    I gave Ron one beer for every foot of ground he could dig.

    I gave Ron one beer for every foot of ground he could dig.

    If he had the strength, he would probably have dug to China.

    I feed the sluice box.

    I calculated that we must have moved 30 to 40 gallons of heavy black sand – digging, classifying and running it through the sluice box.

    I picked out a few Gold flakes, so I had some hope for when we panned the concentrate.

    Ron pans the concentrate.

    Without falling over, Ron did a good job of panning the concentrate; he took out a heavy magnet and picked up every last spec of everything that was in the pan… 40 gallons of black sand netted us nothing, but at least we had the rocks to scrape!

    Unfortunately, the rocks ended up being covered with pyrite – fools Gold!

    So, $20 in gas and a case of beer later, my Gold take was probably four small flakes – not even enough to buy any neoprene cement.

    June 5, 2007

    My Big Acting Break! My Acting Chance In “Red Belt” The Movie

    Being an MMA fan and a cage fighter in training, I jumped at the chance at being in the movie “Red Belt” that was being filmed at the Pyramid in Long Beach State College.

    It was a surprise to me that my diving buddy Nick has connections in Hollywood, especially since he is a self proclaimed atheist.

    I know that being a Hollywood unknown, I probably would not be getting paid really well at first, but even a few thousand dollars would buy a lot of nice new diving equipment.

    The movie “Red Belt” stars Randy “The Natural” Couture, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rebecca Pidgeon, and additional mixed martial artists.

    I wasn’t exactly certain what I would be doing, but since the studio wanted me when I didn’t even audition for a part, I knew it was probably going involve one of my many talents.

    Nick told me to “show up June 5th at the Pyramid in Long Beach and I’ll meet you there.”

    Training incase I need to do some cage fighting.

    I trained extra hard the week before, just in case I had to do some cage fighting.

    The yellow movie direction signs.

    After following the yellow cryptic signs to the location, I showed up at 9 AM and walked over to the casting tent.

    There were two guys with walkie talkies and clip boards standing by the entrance.

    I approached them and announced my arrival.

    They just looked at me.

    I told them, “I’m here for the filming of Red Belt.”

    They handed me a liability release form; I signed it and handed it back to them.

    One of the guys looked at it and dumped it in a bucket full of other release forms.

    I told him who I was again.

    He didn’t seem to care and said, “Okay, grab breakfast over there and wait in the tent with everyone else.”

    I ate cereal and a bagel — I felt I was being treated like a peon.

    My friend Nick arrived.

    I said, “They’re treating me like a peon — like an extra or something.”

    Nick laughed, “That’s pretty much what you are.

    “You aren’t even getting paid for this.”

    I had a sickening feeling in my stomach.

    After I regained my composure, I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll be discovered here.

    “John Wayne was discovered pushing props.”

    9:30 AM rolled around and some guy introduced himself as the guy in charge of the “non-paid” extras.

    He told us that we had a really small crew today and that we were going to get “lots of face time” in front of the cameras.

    We were to be in the audience as a fight scene occurred.

    So, I’m just in the audience? OK, it’s a start for me.

    This guy also said that they were finishing up inside on some scenes from the previous Friday and that we would be inside on the set as soon as possible.

    We were then lined up and marched to wardrobe where they looked at all of us en masse to make sure we were not wearing white shirts, logos, shorts, flip flops or were too ugly to be on camera.

    Everyone passed — imagine how embarrassing it would have been if someone was pulled out of the line for being too ugly?

    There were probably a little more than a hundred “nonpaid extras.”

    We were marched back to the open tent to wait our turn on the set.

    They had this “real comedian” named Dante who did his best to entertain us while we waited.

    He told jokes, played some group games and did a pretty decent job entertaining us.

    We waited… and waited.

    Here’s me waiting…

    Me waiting.

    …just like Nick is...

    Nick waits.

    These pictures were taken at 10 AM, or 11 AM, or noon, or 1 PM — really it doesn’t matter.

    This is what we did.

    Now, for those who are thinking about becoming an extra in a movie, here’s what I have found out about the whole deal.

    In a crowd scene, in front of the cameras you have the actors — stars and costars.

    Behind them, you have the “background actors” — this is what I thought an “extra” was.

    Behind the “background actors” are the “paid extras.”

    Behind the “paid extras” are the “unpaid extras” — this was our group.

    I overheard veteran “unpaid extras” bragging about their elbow or ear being in certain movies; others complained that they never even saw themselves.

    Around 10:30 AM the portable toilets ran out of water and they instructed us to use the facilities in the stadium — but to be careful and quiet because they were filming.

    At about 11 AM I ventured to unload my morning coffee.

    I saw the set.

    It was a boxing style ring with a bunch of manikins propped up as the audience.

    They were filming some sort of crowd scene below.

    I was able to watch part of it.

    It was only about 10 seconds of action before they yelled “cut.”

    I couldn’t see any of the actors, just the paid background actors.

    About noon, Dante was starting to stretch his material thin.

    We were assured that we would be on set at any time.

    It had slightly rained earlier in the morning and the wind was now picking up and dumping all the water that had collected on the roof flaps.

    About 1 PM the person in charge came out and said, “We’re still waiting for them to finish up and ‘make some scenes work.’

    “We’ll be in as soon as possible.

    “However, the fight scene won’t be filmed until tomorrow, so if you want to come back tomorrow, sign up here.”

    Nick and I looked at each other.

    The guy also yelled, “Remember, you guys have committed to be here until 5 PM, so I’m holding you guys to your word.”

    I told Nick, “They get what they pay for. Fuck this place…”

    Nick agreed.

    We left for the toilets and kept walking….. to our vehicles and split.

    My brother works for movies and TV as a video editor.

    He used to be a prop maker, too.

    He told me a log time ago, “If Hollywood can get you to work for free, that’s what they’ll pay you.

    “There’s enough people who would be in movies just for the sake of doing so.”

    Even though filming days apparently don’t always go like they did for us, I pretty much felt like a fool to take a day off to sit in a tent and wait.

    So, no movie break, no pay, no cage fighting… just another day in my life.

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