Friday, July 17, 2009



You’re sitting in a waiting room with eight other professionally clad applicants who, in spite of the banal chitchat they engage you in, are essentially your enemy. Finally, your name is called, and you shuffle into a room with someone holding a copy of your resume that contains some unfamiliar-looking notations. Before you thank them for taking the meeting for this job you need in the worst way, you notice that your interviewer seems pre-occupied. The first thing your interviewer say before he/she begins firing off questions about your personal history, work background, and motivation for taking the position is an apology followed by something to the effect of “We still have a bunch of applicants to get through, so we’ll need to keep the interview somewhat brief.” Although this statement brings modest discouragement, you’re still confident that you can make the most with the limited available interview time.

However, before your butt has a chance to even warm your seat, the interviewer stands up, extends their hand and says, “Thanks for coming out. We’ve still got many other applicants to get through, but we should get back to you in the next week or two.” Flabbergasted, you’re at a loss for words except for some feeble attempt at extending the conversation, “I know I can be a valuable asset to XYZ Company, and am confident I will flourish if I’m just given the opportunity.” This last statement seems to fall on deaf ears, and your interviewer is already walking toward the hallway to call the next applicant who was chatting you up prior to your four-minute interview.

If this sounds like a familiar scenario you have encountered in your quest to return to the job market, don’t get down on yourself. There are some very valid reasons your interview played more like a drive-through inspection at the US/Mexico border, and most likely, it’s not because you suck or said something wrong.

1. They already formed their shortlist of candidates, and you’re not on it. In other words, you never had a chance. You could have shown up to your interview in a Borat-inspired mankini as opposed to the suit you just paid $10 to pick up from the dry cleaners, and would have had just as good a shot at landing a second interview, let alone the job.

2. Your interviewer hates their job. XYZ company has probably downsized, and this means the interviewer’s plate is overloaded with menial responsibilities that once belonged to the recently laid off. They’re not thrilled they have to interview 50+ people when they have a boatload of emails waiting for them that pertain their normal responsibilities. Furthermore, the powers that be are probably applying increased levels of pressure to said interviewer with each day the position isn’t filled.

3. Employers these days can afford to be picky. Even if you’re a great match for the position you’re interviewing for, there is probably a candidate whose credentials match or exceed yours. This is but one the challenges we deal with when unemployment is at or around 10%. Your resume might shine, but if someone else worked at a company your prospective boss has a relationship with, this is the kind of tiebreaker that can decide who gets the job.

4. You don’t have a personal reference that knows your prospective boss. As an addendum to #3, this industry is built on relationships. Before you go in for an interview, it might help to send an email blast to your network asking if anyone has a relationship with XYZ Company. If you don’t have a “network” you belong to, take the necessary steps to get involved with one. Some examples of entertainment email networks are “TheFray” (A Google group), LAConFab (another Google Group), and “NextGenFemmes” (another email network that caters to females). Once the network administrator grants you permission to join the group, send an email with the subject saying something to the effect of, “ISO: Contact at XYZ Company.” Once you get a response from someone who has that relationship, then you’re one degree of separation away from someone whose name you can drop with a certain degree of confidence. Then you should try and set up a lunch/drinks/coffee with this person who can make the desired connection for you. These networking groups have occasional mixers, so I would recommend attending these to put faces to the names that frequently pop up in your email inbox.

As someone who went almost ten months between legitimate, full-time entertainment jobs, I know as well as anyone how frustrating and depressing the current job market is. Don’t underestimate the power of these aforementioned email networks: They were designed so that everyone who feels like they are alone on a proverbial island can feel connected to the industry, even when they’re out of work. Everyone in these networks has either needed a script, a job, or simply information about a project at some point, and most network members are happy to help if they are in a position to do so. What have you got to lose?

Day in the Life of a Formerly-Employed Studio Assistant

7:23am - Wake up, use the bathroom, check the time on my cell phone. Once I realize that the clock has yet to strike 8am and that I do not have to be at work in an hour-and-a-half, I return to bed.

7:39am - Who am I kidding? It's too damn hot to sleep in my A/C-deprived bedroom, and since I live down the street from an auto body shop, I am prevented from further slumber by the familiar cacophony of a hydraulic drill fastening lugs to a tire (WHIRRR!!WHIRRR!!CLACKCLACKCLACKCLACK!! x 16). I crawl out of bed, and throw on my running shoes. After a quick leg stretch, I jog down the street, around adjacent Stoner Park (it's on Stoner Avenue, people - don't get the wrong idea!), and back. A 15-minute jog is plenty to get my larger-than-average ass winded and sweaty so that I can start another day of job-hunting without hating myself for not exercising with all this time off. Hop in the shower, hop out, dry off, start my day.

8:13am - Check my email - no responses from my resume submissions from previous days. I do, however, receive an email from my girl at the temp agency I signed up with. She wants to know if I am interested in working for an A-List Talent Agent at Big Time Agency. I know exactly which agent she is referring to, as "thick skin" is a must. I gladly thank her for bringing the opportunity to my attention, but I tell her that I've worked with him before when I was in management years ago, and it probably wouldn't be a great fit. Besides, said agent has a history of going through assistants like I went through $8 Heinekens at Coachella last year.

9:00am - After going on the requisite websites like EntertainmentCareers, Jobfox, VarietyCareers, the job website for the studio I was once employed at, and, finally, perusing my trusty UTA joblist, I discover about four positions I am somewhat excited to apply for, and three jobs I might or might not want. I type a meticulous cover letter for each of the first four positions, and resort to a less sophisticated copy-and-pasting technique for the other three. After going through my Sent file for a quick review, I realize I forgot to attach my resume to one of the meticulous cover letters...D'OH!!! No use in resending cover letter with resume attached, as the HR coordinator at that company probably already thinks I'm an unemployable tool.

11:00am - Take a break from sitting at my computer, drive to Starbucks to reinforce my addiction to those damned iced-Doubleshots that I now have all the time in the world but not all the cash in the world to drink. Funny how I used to envy the people who lounge at coffee shops all day with their laptops while I made caffeine runs for execs at the studio. Now I realize that many, if not most of them are unemployed! After I finish my stimulating beverage, I'm all fired up, and proceed to run a couple of errands like dry cleaning, laundry, $75 tank of gas (I drive a Honda, by the way), etc. In Los Angeles, one needs to take advantage of the hours between 10am-2pm to knock out as many errands as possible while traffic is not bumper-to-bumper. If you wait until rush hour, errands can take three times as long.

12:21pm - Open my "Cracking the GMAT" book and convince myself that greener pastures are not far away once I apply myself toward obtaining an MBA. After all, why spend time working crap jobs for shit wages during hard times when you can just go to grad school for 2-3 years and come out $80k in debt from student loans by the time the economy turns around?

1:45pm - Make myself a sandwich and catch the second half of "Jim Rome is Burning" on ESPN, followed by "Around the Horn" at 2pm. During my days of employment, I used to come home on my break and catch maybe 20 minutes of ESPN programming while wolfing down lunch before I had to jet back to work. Now, I just feel dirty knowing I cam watch all of ATR without worrying about getting yelled at by my bosses upon my return to the studio.

2:31pm - As soon as I see Tony Kornheiser's ugly mug on "Pardon the Interruption", I immediately flip off the telly. God, he annoys me. I grab a workout towel, check my email once more for responses to my resume submissions. Nothing to respond to, so I hit the gym. I'm not in love with working out at Bally Fitness (it ain't Sports Club LA!), but it can be quite peaceful before 4pm, when the cardio machines start getting crowded, and people resort to fisticuffs to be first on the elliptical treadmill.

4:03pm - Get back home, check my mailbox, hooray! My unemployment check came! Twice-Grilled Burrito tonight!! Hop in the shower again. Since baseball games typically start at 4pm here on the west coast, at least I now have my last-place fantasy team to keep my mind occupied until my friends start getting home from work. Check email again, check Craigslist jobs for shits-and-giggles. Once in a while, you can find cash-paying one-day gigs that you don't need to report to Employment Development Department. Since I'm not about to go "gay for pay", I see nothing of interest.

5:03pm - Get a call on my cell from Mom. Same conversation as yesterday, and the day before: "Hi Mom...I'm okay...not a whole lot, just got back from the gym, about to send off some more resumes...yeah, some interesting opportunities...yeah, I'm still trying to get back into the studio, but I'm not sure....of COURSE I still have friends there...we'll they're mostly assistants, so it's not like they can hire me!....oh, thanks, but I'm all set for dinner tonight....just El Pollo Loco....I know I ate it yesterday! Hey, I got a call on the other line, can I call you a bit later? Sure, we'll get together later this week...bye, love you too!"

6:12pm - After I deposit my hard-earned unemployment check in the bank, I arrive at my friend's house who has every baseball game televised on satellite (my escape from the doldrums of unemployment), watch my last-place fantasy team sink even further in the standings while we munch on delicious Twice-Grilled Burritos, and I walk his adorable little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel around the park before twilight approaches.


You've seen gas prices escalate lately, and have half-listened to pundits decrying the state of the lackluster American economy. Aside from paying $62 for a tank of gas that cost you $40 two years ago, you fee like the economic downturn hasn't overwhelmingly affected you so long as you have your 50-hour, $550/week job keeping you (barely) solvent. Then you get a call from the HR coordinator, who requests a meeting with you at your earliest convenience. Although your performance has been good but not perfect, you also haven't triggered a series of cataclysmic events which causes the company you work for to lose either valuable clients or millions of dollars in revenue. You go into HR's office, and there is a packet of documents waiting for you with the top page featuring the words, “COBRA Coverage”.

The HR coordinator has a bit of a pained expression on her face as she asks you to come in and have a seat. As soon as she moves to close the door, you only now realize that this conversation will not end well. After spending the first minute talking about how well-liked you are by the rest of the support staff and what a difficult decision this was, you are then informed that some staffing changes will be made, and that your work at XYZ company will “conclude” at the end of that business day.

Once you feel your head suddenly getting very warm with a singular bead of perspiration trickling down the side of your face, it now hits you that your life is about to change. Dramatically. The initial shock of getting let go/laid off is a similar feeling to being told you look fat in your favorite outfit as you discover your best friend has been shtooping your lover. It's quite the lousy feeling, but rest assured, you'll deal - as long as you follow these important guidelines:

1. Log onto Employment Development Department's website STAT!!! The sooner you file, the sooner you'll start collecting gub'ment cheese, er, benefits. Unemployment Insurance can take 2-3 weeks to kick in, and if you aren't fortunate to get canned without either some sort of severance or vacation time payout, you'll need this money sooner than later.

2. Get the UTA joblist – if you work in entertainment, there's usually someone who knows someone who can get the list. Once you get your hands on the list, use it to send as many resumes out as possible for positions you're right for. Companies who post openings on this site are typically looking to fill their vacant position ASAP, so you may have but a momentary hitch in your career if you find something you like and want. Even if you see a position that you're right for, but don't necessarily want, then send a resume anyway. It's important to practice interviewing so that you're in mid-season form with your shpiel down once you interview for your supposed dream job. Your shpiel should consist of your most recent positions, who you worked for, important projects your past departments worked on, and why you were attracted to this position (hint: don't say “I need another job NOW!”). If you don't have any way of getting the joblist, shoot me an email at and I'll hook you up.

3. If you're looking to stay in entertainment, find other websites which contain job postings catering to this particular field, and the sum of several of these websites should form a decent resource for jobseekers. is a good start (even without getting a membership), as is Variety Careers (on and our very own IndustryNexus, to name but a few. Some of the generic sites like and have few openings in entertainment, so I probably wouldn't recommend these unless you're leaving entertainment.

4. If you are planning on departing from show business and aren't quite certain of your next move, then go to a relaxing place (be it a park, beach, hilltop, or Coffee Bean/what-have-you) with a pen and notepad, and write down all of your interests. Whether it's shopping, sports, music, politics, video games, S&M activities or food, think about how your interests can be applied to a career. Then look for jobs in those particular fields by going to different websites or talking to people with a career you want, and ask them for advice and/or a recommendation. If you need to go back to school, then start thinking about what is needed for the next step. If you need to prepare for an entrance exam, then buy a prep/study guide on Amazon or Ebay (trust me, it's cheaper than a bookstore), and think about where you would like to attend class.

5. Tell your “friends” on Facebook/Myspace/whichever social networking sites you're on that you're now looking for a job. Being unemployed in the internet age is a lot less depressing when you've got dozens to hundreds of online buddies who either sympathize with you and/or can help you land a new gig instantly. I know it requires a great deal of pride to announce to cyberspace, “I'M LOOKING!”, but asking for assistance can only help you.

It's important that you're prepared for downtime. Remember all those hours you spent at your former job mulling over how you never get to do what you want: writing, reading, working out, going to the beach, watching movies, starting a side business, etc. because you're too busy working? Well, guess what? Aside from submitting resumes, scheduling interviews and filling out EDD paperwork, you'll now have all the time you want to pursue such activities! Make the most of this time before you land another job.

Periods of unemployment are prime opportunities to get back into physical shape. Not only are you broke and unlikely to be able to drop loads of cash on heavy meals at restaurants, but the extra time on your hands can be spent judiciously getting rid of your love handles/muffin top. I recommend a morning jog coupled with an early afternoon workout after lunch. If you don't have a gym membership, there are numerous inspiring workouts available without equipment if you type “home workout” on Google or Youtube.

I'm not much of an advocate for prescription anti-depressants, but I would recommend getting a bottle of St. John's Wort to help stave off feelings of depression and/or hopelessness that can occur during periods of unemployment. SJW is a flower that is available over the counter at pretty much any pharmacy and most supermarkets.

When you go out to run errands during the week, make an effort to dress nice even if you've got nowhere in particular to be. Walking around in sweats, while convenient and comfortable, can start to wear you down emotionally when you see everyone else dressed for success in their power suits and Manolos. Remember what the saleslady at JC Penny said: When you look good, you FEEL good!

Many of us are looking for additional revenue streams during periods of joblessness. Aside from selling your body to science for invasive if not lucrative procedures, I have some suggestions in case you need to get paid without getting probed:

1. Market research focus groups: These jobs can be sparse, but when you get called in, you can often make in the range of $150 under-the-table cash (no need to report to EDD) for two hours of work! Subjects may range from energy drinks to automotive design. You don't need to be an expert on the area of focus, but if you sound somewhat educated, you'll do just fine. Links to some of these companies are below: (Adler-Weiner Research Company) (Trotta Associates Marketing Research)

Just call the number on the website, answer their questions to get into their database (you might want to stretch the truth about your income when they ask you), and you may get a call within a week or two.

2. Script coverage – Depending on how fast you can read, this may or may not be cost effective for you. If you can tear through a 100-page script and write a synopsis as well as a critical take in less than, say three hours, then you may benefit from reading and covering scripts. A word of caution, though: chances are you'll be reading scripts so bad, you'll be banging your head against the table. These companies are often looking for new readers, and with a backlog of scripts from the WGA Strike, there is probably a reader job for you, too. Just be prepared to submit examples from scripts you've covered in the past. Some examples of these companies are: , , and

3. California Cryobank – sorry ladies, this is for guys only. I won't go into detail what needs to be done to get paid at the Cryobank, but let's just say you've done it for free since the first time you stole your uncle's issue of Hustler in junior high (insert requisite “Eww!” here). For more info, log onto $75 per, um, visit can translate to $300-$900 per month. Not a bad living for Rosie Palms and her five little sisters!

4. If you've hit financial rock bottom and have to make rent, it's not the end of the world if you have to hit up family or friends for some dough. If they love you, they'll recognize that you're going through a tough time, and they'll do what they can to help you get to the next adventure in your life. Asking for money (which you promise you'll pay back once you land on your feet) is never the first option, but if you've got no other choices when your landlord is at your front door with his/her arms folded, your loved ones will be half-expecting some sort of request anyways.

It's important to remember that even the most loyal, determined employees get fired from their jobs. It may not necessarily be a reflection on you; you may just be a victim of corporate reshuffling. If you did get canned because you suck, just remember that it's a big world out there, and although they may say Hollywood is a small town, you don't really cement your reputation until you reach the executive level anyways. So don't think of yourself as a loser; instead, consider yourself a free agent who can enter into whatever field you desire. Education? Law Enforcement? Exotic Cabaret? The world is waiting for you to get off the couch and get on with the rest of your life, so start living!

Day in the Life of a Studio Assistant

9am - pull into the lot garage. Wave hello to the parking guys who take good care of me and hook me up with secret parking spots when the lot is full. Since I park in P3, I can either take the excruciatingly slow elevator or three-and-a-half flights of stairs and be slightly winded by the time I reach the building elevator (yes, there are two separate elevators). I decide on the stairs, as I know I will probably not be getting too much exercise sitting on my ass for the next 9 or so hours. Walk into the office, turn on the computer, check my voicemail. Message 1: Once again, the Assistant to the President of our division is running late, so she sometimes asks me to open her boss' office (even though he's at a meeting in Mumbai, India). I grab his office key from the desk of our EVP's assistant, who gives me a dirty look, knowing full well I am once again kowtowing to a benign order. That's just the kind of guy I am, so don't hate, I tell her. After opening up the President's office, and making a pot of coffee for a guy who is currently on the other side of the planet, I return the office key to its rightful place, and start to check my email. I someow became known as the office supply bitch, so I sift through request emails, and consolidate them into a single list, which I will send to Office Max.

10am - Production Manager bursts into the office, looking frazzled as ever, running late for a 10am meeting. As I am trying to connect my boss, the VP, to a conference call in Europe, Production Manager drops a pile of DVDs on my desk, saying she needs 3 copies of each in time for a lunchtime messenger, but "No Rush!" (I love when people in a studio use that's like reverse psychology). I set said pile aside, connect my boss, and half-listen in on the call while finishing up my email. I then receive a call from Blair in our Travel department, who tells me my boss is only eligible to stay at "Silver Level" hotels for an upcoming conference in Barcelona, and that I would need to fill out a "Policy Exception Form" which would need to be signed off by our division CFO for him to get a room at the Ritz along with the senior executives he is travelling with. These forms have been the bane of my existence during my time here at the studio.

11am - Coffee time! The first batch of Seattle's Worst is finally gone, so I delve into my secret stash of Peet's, and brew a fresh batch for the sleep-deprived corporate lackeys on our floor. Once I get a couple sips of Peet's rocket fuel, I am ready to tackle the DVD duplication and labeling project. Of course, the labelmaker is on the other side of the hall in our marketing department, so I get to walk back-and-forth about 20 times retrieving these DVD's. So much for sitting on my ass for 9 hours. As I return to my desk momentarily, the assistant to the SVP of Finance approaches me with a dour expressionon her face as she points to her shoulder. Dottie (we'll call her) is susceptible to migraines, and it's convenient having a dude like me who gives killer massages around the corner from her. As I knead the knot from her shoulder, she reacts by saying she can feel the tension in her eyeball. When my phone rings, Dottie understands that the brief massage has concluded, and she shuffles off back to field demands from her high-maintenance boss.

12pm - Almost done with the DVD dupes. I pop in the Office Max order, but my boss is now waiting for a conference call with Latin America to begin, so he can't approve it yet. Ever since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided to roll back (or was it forward?) his nation's clocks a half-hour, getting Caracas on the phone for scheduled calls can be like getting a cab in Vegas on Saturday Night at 3am. Sometimes success, sometimes, wait til next week. While I wait for LatAm (studio talkspeak for Latin America) to join the call, I email Judy from Home Entertainment about our scheduled lunch today. She apologizes, but she's swamped, and needs to reschedule. I've found that if you don't pick a date to reschedule to at that moment, you'll probably never get together. It kind of worked out because the other assistants in our department approach me one-by-one with puppy dog eyes, saying how they're starving and didn't eat after their 6am pilates class-blabbityblahblah, and can they take lunch first pretty please? God forbid an assistant isn't here to answer a phone between 1 and 2pm. I shoo them away, and check my personal email as well as

1pm - I ask my boss if he wants any lunch from downstairs or across the street, and he says yes. After I order his ham-and-swiss on rye (my Jewish boss only eats Kosher pig), I step outside to sneak a quick cigarette. In a city as health-conscious as Los Angeles, there is a certain shame to being caught smoking by people who didn't know you smoked before. This is precisely what happened when the other assistants went to get their salad lunches. Instead of thanking me for covering for them while they fed their already malnourished 90-pound-but-still-insist-they're-fat bodies, they break my balls about the dangers of smoking. I return for the sandwich, grab a diet coke from the free soda machine upstairs, catch up on some emails, check my Facebook page, and reserve a movie from the studio's video library.

2:23pm - The ladies for whom I am covering saunter in from their lunch break, and it's finally time for me to eat. I drive to my secret sandwich spot which is a short drive and not-quite-walking distance from the lot, and grab my delicious roast beef on dark sweet wheat which is bigger, juicier and two bucks cheaper than a similar sandwich served on the lot. With the money I save, I buy a 1/2 pound brownie which only costs $1.50 for my co-workers. The females (especially in Business Affairs) I work with can get temperamental in the afternoon, so this modest investment makes the afternoon go much more smoothly. Besides, the constant health consciousness what with their 6pm kickboxing classes and their Weight-Watchers-points-counting gets annoying, so I get a certain sadistic pleasure out of watching them struggle with their willpower in resisting the brownie while they playfully chide me for trying to "keep them fat and single". The brownie's usually gone by 4:30pm and all is well with the world, MWAAHAHAHAHAAA!!!

3:00pm - After getting my balls busted for taking a 1/2 hour lunch (no overtime! God forbid my time-and-a-half cut into our executives' quarterly 5-figure bonus checks), I get an email forwarded from the EVP's assistant. Some cousin of the EVP who lives up in Canyon Country thought it would be cool if he could impress his new girlfriend by squeezing some Hollywood juice. Translation: I get to call the producers for AMERICA'S BEST DANCE CREW and beg them to get some douchebag I've never met and his trophy girlfriend tickets to be in the show's audience. I tell them I'm calling for our EVP, who would consider this a favor, blabbityblahblah, is there any way we can get some tickets to a live taping pretty please? They grudginly oblige, email me details with confirmation, which I pass onto our EVP. Her cousin emails her back (copying me), thanking her profusely for hooking up the tickets while very briefly mentioning me "And thanks to Sam as well" (even though Sam did ALL the work).

4:00pm - My other VP boss says he wants to score some coffee from this gourmet cafe down the street for a 4:30 meeting, and would I be so kind as to get everyone's order (yeah Mom, all those years of college are finally starting to pay off! "Will that be sugar or Splenda in your latte?")? Not a big deal, as I don't really mind getting out of the office for a few minutes anyways. I approach Nancy, the barista whose jaw drops when she reads the list containing the dummy order of 25 Vanilla Lattes, 16 espressos, and 12 ices chai lattes. I grab the dummy list from Nancy, and say "just kidding" with a smile on my face, and replace the dummy order with the actual order (containing 6 drinks). Hey, anything to add a few laughs to an otherwise mundane weekday! I bring the drinks back to the office, and of course there's always some cocksucker from middle-management who complains, "I wanted non-fat in my latte!"

5:00pm - Time to connect 1st VP to a conference call with Singapore and Hong Kong. Trans-Pacific conference calls can be interesting because Asia is just getting into the office, and aren't always prepared for what's coming from headquarters in LA. As I half-listen to the conversation taking place across two hemispheres and 16 time zones, the banter is about as amusing as watching Law & Order, dubbed in Portuguese with Spanish subtitles. I absorb some key points from the conversation, and regurgitate that to my boss upon conclusion of the call so he thinks I was listening. After he recaps the call with me, I log back onto thesuperficial or, if I'm feeling political, drudgereport.

5:59pm - Against my better judgement, I pound my now-cold-coffee before I head to my buddy's house to work out. So as to not be blindsided when I get to work the following morning, I check my bosses' next-day calendars to see if there are any early morning meetings for which I need to send reminders. No meetings, so I ask my respective bosses if they need anything else, and they shoo me away as they are probably working until 7 or 8.

One thing I notice about working in a studio: Everyone's boss has a boss, so the presence of corporate pressure never lets up. Even our EVP, who is basically our fearless dictator, will bitch about how she has to fly to Sao Paolo with the division President. The division President bitches about how he needs to have the FY 2009 Profit & Loss reports prepared for the studio president when he gets back from his 1st Class flight from South America. The studio President bitches because he's "running out of places to put his money".

My heart bleeds for our embattled studio President. *sniff*

Where Does the Time Go?

Sometimes, when I’m at work, and I time-stamp a document of some sort, I occasionally ask myself this very question. Not to suggest that time necessarily flies, but it can get away from us if we’re too caught up in our lives that we’re oblivious to the passage of time. Maintaining hobbies and interests outside of your professional life can not only give your train of thought a welcome respite from the daily rigors of the entertainment industry, it can also help to balance out your life and perhaps mold a more well-rounded you!

Next time you come home straight from work via the eating establishment you grabbed your take-out from, plop yourself on the couch, and then milk your TiVo for all it’s worth until bedtime, ask yourself if there’s more you could be doing with your free time. There is a plethora of rewarding activities that can make you feel more happy or productive so that when the year comes to an end, you won’t feel like it just flew by without having gained anything this year.

Yoga – Super for stress reduction, fantastic for flexibility, and can also help both women and men avoid injuries down the road. Classes can go for as low as $5 a session, but since there are various disciplines of yoga, it is important to properly research which one is right for you.

Walk/Jog/Run/Hit the Elliptical Cycle – Another great stress relief, this can be done either in the great outdoors, or on a treadmill. Endorphin release coupled with a trimming of the waistline can make anyone feel productive, regardless of whether it happens to be at 6am or 10pm! HINT: Find a treadmill with a TV, and spend 30 minutes on it while your favorite sitcom is on. You’d be surprised how fast a half-hour on a Lifecycle will fly by! Make a habit of it, and you’ll be surprised how quickly the inches and pounds can shed!

Dance! This is as much for the fellas as for the ladies. When you’re in your formative years, formal dancing (i.e. salsa, ballroom, swing, etc.) seems like such a chore to learn, and who has the time to dance at a club when you could be schmoozing with potential power brokers instead? We all know that there are certain clubs we prefer to dance in versus clubs we’re more likely to simply socialize in. Keep them separate but equal, as you wouldn’t want anyone you know to see you swing-dance until you’re actually good at it! Learning to dance when you’re young is much easier compared with trying to take it up when you’re older and grayer. It’s fun, it’s social, it’s good exercise, and it can enhance anyone’s aesthetic appeal!

Take a Class, any class – Remember that elective in college you wanted to take, but the class wasn’t a requirement for your major, so you blew it off? Instead of coming home on a weeknight and vegging in front the telly for four hours, why not think about that one subject you’d like to learn more about? It could be anything: pottery, cooking, blaxploitaiton theory, or a voiceover training class. Nighttime extension classes are available at your local university, community colleges, as well as in The Learning Annex magazine. If you work for a large company, there is a chance you can get your employer to pay for your class if you can present it to your superiors judiciously.

We spend so much time as assistants making sure our boss’ lives are up and running smoothly that we often forget about our own lives, and how to enrich them. While it’s always important to work hard at your job to elevate your career, it can be equally fulfilling to have some activity, hobby or class to look forward to after you leave your desk at night. Otherwise, the mundane routine of eatsleepworkeatsleepworkeatsleepworkeatsleepworkeatsleepwork can not only get mind-numblingly redundant, but can also start to eat at your soul sooner than you think!


“No more papers, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks…SUMMERTIME!!” Throughout my childhood, I used to sing this every time I left school on the last day of the school year. For all of us who remember the days of yore when we got 2.5 months of sheer recreation, only to have that taken away from us after school ended, there needs to be something that gets us through the misery of working through June, July and August.

1. CHECK YOUR CALENDAR, SELECT AN OFF DAY, AND PLAN FOR IT We all need something to look forward to in our lives, even if it’s just playing hooky. Shortly after school ended, I remember how depression set in after the July 4 holiday because I knew there wouldn’t be any more weekdays off until Labor Day. One solution for the summertime blues is to schedule a Monday or Friday (wedding rehearsal & dinner is a surefire, can’t-miss excuse) off in July or August so that you tack on an extra three-day weekend (or two).

2. PIGGYBACK YOUR REAL APPOINTMENTS WITH THE OCCASIONAL BOGUS ONE - Remember that dentist appointment you had last week? Well, (wink, wink) the hygienist said you’d have to come back to get a new filling (at least that’s the story you’re sticking to). Funny how the “follow up” appointment always seems to fall on a Friday around 3ish, and since your dentist is across town, why would you bother driving back to the office in rush hour traffic for what likely amounts to a half-hour of work?

3. HAVE A REASON TO CALL IN “SICK” – Maybe you resolved to work on a tan after looking disapprovingly at your pasty complexion. Perhaps you need to take your car in for servicing, and Saturdays at the mechanic can be pretty much useless unless you get there at 7am. Or is it possible you just want to flip the bird to your co-workers from the bleachers of Angel Stadium during a 1:10pm weekday game? Whatever the reason for your shirking responsibilities for the day, make sure you have something to show for it besides having watched Days of Our Lives in your jammies: a tan/sunburn, an enjoyably unusual experience, a fixed car, a renewed registration, anything.

Sometimes, in our effort to claw our way up the professional ladder, we forget we’re human beings with finite amounts of energy and tolerance for our mundane jobs. It’s a shame when people get guilted into not using their allotted time off for fear of a detriment to their job security. If our bosses didn’t want us to use our days off, we wouldn’t have gotten them in the first place! Furthermore, it’s hard to realize sometimes that our bosses were also assistants at one time or another, and can probably go one day or afternoon without you at their beck and call. Lastly, don’t forget that summertime is typically slow in the entertainment biz, so you’re not needed as badly as you think you may be, especially on a Friday when half the town has already mentally checked out for the weekend anyway!

Pinkberry, I Heard, I Came, I Saw, I Ate

You've seen the enormous lines. You've wondered with dollar signs in your eyes. Hell, you might even have subjected yourself to the 30-minute wait for Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt. But for those of you that haven't, I took the liberty of taking a tour to this hotspot of contemporary culture this weekend. For those not in the know, Pinkberry is the new froyo spot du jour, unseating Penguin's, Big Chill, etc. But because Pinkberry has some sort of hip, healthfully guilt-free marketing campaign, people seem to believe Pinkberry will run right through them without adding an ounce to their asses. Hence, the lines...

I got lucky during my trip as there were only about seven people waiting. Upon my arrival, I exclaimed to a queue full of strangers, "What? Was there a bomb threat? Why only seven people in line?" Someone replied, "It actually gets busy around 7:00." Right after I looked at my watch which read 7:04pm, I turned around to see another 6 fresh faces behind me awaiting their fix. And their expressions all read the same: We know we're addicted sheep, but Pinkberry makes us happy, so get off our case.

Once I actually got inside the facility, I was overwhelmed by blaring music, and a kaleidoscopic array of color. The vibe feels like 21st century-Jamba Juice-on meth, what with an eclectic array of tunes ranging from avante-garde electropop to West Hollywood's greatest hits. As I slowly snake toward the register, a cacaphony of conversation surrounded me, and this was when I noticed a myriad of colorful designer tchotchkes for sale at exorbitant prices: $30 cotton swab holder, $40 corkscrew, $45 yogurt bowl & spoon, $60 for a dog bowl, the list goes on.

As I continued to wait, I became entranced by the idea of someone paying that much for a designer doggie dish. When I finally approached the register, I found myself standing directly beneath the loudspeaker, which is great if you like screaming your order at the cashier over a 4:4 beat. I unwittingly forked over $12.20 for the froyo while the hypnotically thumping house music sent me on my way to the dreadfully congested parking lot outside. Their strategy behind the point-of-purchase sale items is: You'd never buy the really expensive stuff unless you were very rich or very drunk, but paying $6 for frozen yogurt isn't so bad by comparison.

I'll admit, the yogurt's not bad. More tangy than sweet, like regular yogurt. I probably prefer the original to the green tea yogurt, and the selection of fresh fruit toppings and naughty candy toppings make it a somewhat enjoyable experience. It's a potentially expensive habit, but can be useful if you've got damage control to perform or want to score brownie points with someone. Just remember that it melts fairly quickly, so don't bother driving across town with it in your car if you want to make a favorable impression.