Monday, May 23, 2016

Full Steam Ahead

Just as I get the inspiration to write a blog post, oftentimes a quote or phrase comes to my mind which will be the theme of the blog post. As I'm starting to take some significant strides towards my move to California, the phrase, 'Full steam ahead' came to mind. I Googled the phrase for an image (see above), and the Google translation of this phrase reads: Used to indicate that one should proceed with as much speed or energy as possible.

Yup, that sums up my actions at the moment. I have started to apply to some jobs, and I even spoke with an HR rep at a local university in Los Angeles about how best to present my resume. I asked her this question specifically since I'm not in California now, but still in Michigan. I asked if I should use a local address and she said that would be wise. But she also told me to explain my relocation plans clearly in the cover letter. After a review of some ideal apartment communities around Culver City (my targeted area of future domicile), I am using a Culver City address on my cover letter and resume, but making it clear in my cover letter that it is my future residence. This serves several purposes: 1) It's a viable address of a place near the university that is my targeted employer, 2) having this address helps prevent my application from being tossed into the 'not local' bin,  and 3) it demonstrates my sincere intent to move to that area, it shows I'm committed, have done my housing research, and that I will be close to that employer.

As I'm applying to various other organizations, I'm using the same address. In all likelihood, I will live somewhere else, and hopefully very close by to this address I'm using, but I will be flexible in moving to several other areas where other targeted employers are based. Although I know some people in the LA area, contact with them has fallen into radio silence. I don't expect or want anyone to hold my hand in this big move, but it would be great to have some sort of emotional support and encouragement, or tips/advice in moving to the area. In an ideal situation, it would be good to use a local friend's address just on paper. But I don't have that luxury. I'm prepared to move to LA and start from scratch in building up a local network of friends. It will all work out in the end, I've got a lot of karma in queue and it's all good.

So if anyone happens to come upon this article in their search for ideas to plan for a relocation, especially to Southern California, it is ok to use a local address for your resume and cover letter. Just be sure that it's at least an address that is someplace you would definitely like to live at, and which is in a location near the company you are applying for. The address of the apartment I'm using is something I hope is available when I move, but if not, I will find something similar close by.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring update post

Cheryl Fernandez Versini - Cannes best dressed

I haven't updated in a bit, so I should just get everything mentioned in here that I need to mention. Firstly, I'm glad it's spring here in Michigan, even though by Michigan typical standards, that means low 30 degrees, flurries, and serious allergy flare ups. This spring also marks my final active spring here in Michigan, because as each day inches closer towards September and October, my days are numbered here and I'm California bound.

Two weeks ago, I had a very short road trip to Philadelphia to see Pearl Jam. It was a 10 hour drive one way, and at one point, I wondered if Philadelphia existed because I didn't see any signs that referenced Philly up ahead. Literally as I was on the expensive PA turnpike, only as I was within 100 miles of Philly did I see reference to it. So it's good to know that my GPS wasn't leading me into the Atlantic ocean. However, many landscape scenes were familiar driving along this road trip because in the late 90s, I lived in Maryland and took this drive half a dozen times when visiting family. Anyway, my trip to Philly to see Pearl Jam was fun and fantastic. However, when I met up with my PJ concert buddy Jim, he bragged that this was his 39th time seeing Pearl Jam. I know he has seen the band well over a dozen times more than I have, so with his self confidence in declaring that he had seen PJ 39 times, sadly, my claim to seeing them "approximately 25" times is a make believe ass lie to myself.

In actuality, it's apparent that my seeing Pearl Jam live is between the 17-20 count. Still, that's not bad and to some people, that's still obsessive. But after Jim sees PJ again for six more shows this summer, he'll be at 45 shows, and another person we both know has seen PJ 153 times. So, while I'm crazy about Pearl Jam, and will drive 20 hours round trip all by myself and spend $600 that I don't really have... there are crazier fans with a lot more time and money on their hands.

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival is going on right now, and Andrea Arnold's American Honey is getting a lot of praise. I will definitely have to see that when it's available in the US. And when it comes to the best dressed, I just love, love Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's beautiful Naeem Kahn gown. Her lipstick even perfectly match the primary fushia color theme. Perfection! Now that I am a TIFF regular, I volunteer at Cinetopia Film Festival, and have been to the LA film festival and Palm Springs film festival, I will attend Cannes one day... one day I will, I promise me! Speaking of the film festivals, I'm slated to volunteer for the Cinetopia film festival for my third year in a row in a few weeks, and it will be my final time volunteering as I'll be in Los Angeles soon. And as you know, each September since 2004, I have attended the Toronto film festival, but this year, I will not be able to attend. I'll be busy planning my move to LA, and I'll need to be very deliberate in making traveling arrangements to LA to coincide with job interviews and looking for a place to live. This move to LA is going to take everything out of me, but oddly enough, I feel an internal peace and calmness about it all. At least at the moment.

Yes, I'm scared about the move, but very excited too. I know how hard it is to make it out in LA, but I have put too much mental and emotional power into this move. I even went back to college to get my Masters degree to prepare for this move. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is. Also, my drive to Philly was a great experience to see how my car handles on long drives and I figure that as long as I drive in 10-12 hour shifts, I will make it to LA safely and comfortably.

I have started my job search and have been making a lot of good new connections via LinkedIn. But after my London/Paris trip is over, the real job search will go into full swing. I will start getting rid of stuff I'm not taking to California, and depending on what happens, I will have to put my larger stuff into storage. Whatever can't fit into my car, I cannot take with me just yet. I'll ship out probably a half dozen boxes to my new home. I did this when I moved from Maryland to New Jersey and it was a smart thing to do. Moving across town is stressful and expensive, so I want to plan, and plan, and pre-plan this move to CA to the most minute detail so I get it all right and have all that I need, when and where I need it.

Now more than ever, as I get closer to the dates of my Euro trip and then my CA move, I need to remember this:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

So much has been Happening!

It's been a month since my last update and a lot of things have been happening, in fact, I've been quite the busy bee! Firstly, I had to quit my part-time job at Lush because I wasn't getting enough hours. In a two week period, I would work maybe 14 hours and that's just not going to cut it for my savings goals for my Euro trip in June and my move to California in October. So, I found another part-time evening job that fits perfectly into my schedule, gives me 20 hours a week, it pays a dollar more than the store, and best of all, I have my weekends FREE again! Sure, this means I'm working 60 hours a week. I do have 1.5 hours between each job, and my primary job is a desk sitting one in my office. I wish I didn't have to work another job, but this is for the short term to help me earn enough money to accomplish both of these important events.

Speaking of such, I'm well into the pre-planning stages of the London/Paris trip. Within a few weeks, I'll start buying advance tickets for some of the activities we'll be doing in London/Paris. I'm excited about meeting up with two friends in London and doing some things that I've never done before in the dozen times I've been to London. And realizing how much money I will need for this trip is evidence that I need this part-time job in order to make this trip 110% fun and stress free. I hate going on trips and watching what I spend. I've been on many trips on a budget before, but it's much more enjoyable going on a trip and not giving a damn about what I buy.

That's how my trip to Philly just next week will be. I'm driving 10 hours to go see Pearl Jam on April 29th. Pearl Jam has been in the news this week due to them canceling the Raleigh, North Carolina concert, which was scheduled for today, 4/20, in protest against that state's ridiculous and discriminatory HB2 law that targets transgendered people's access to public restrooms based on their current gender status. There are other unfair discriminatory laws currently on the books against the LGBT community and enough is enough! A lot of fans are pissed off that the show was canceled, and those fans obviously are clueless or indifferent to the band's progressive liberal leanings, so this really should come as no shock. The fans should direct their anger at the governor of NC for passing this law without a public vote. Anyway, I'm all the more excited to see my favorite band in the world, and I totally support their decision to cancel the Raleigh show. If you're interested in signing a petition to repeal HB2, go here -

In preparation for my move to California, I have purchased a premium membership at LinkedIn so that I can get in direct contact with people who make the hiring decisions at companies I would like to work for. Also, in the past month, I have increased my connections by about 30 people, so that's good. I currently have 170 connections and I would like at least 30 more to hit that nice 200 connections milestone.

As it stands, for the first time since 2004, I may not be able to attend TIFF in September. I may use that time to visit Los Angeles instead to a) hopefully have an interview(s), and b) find an apartment. It would be easier to find a place to live by actually visiting the place and putting down a deposit in person. My current goal is to be in Los Angeles the last week of October. Perfect planning would have me start a new job on Monday, October 31st. My current lease ends on October 31st, but I am planning to be on the road to LA by October 19th so that I can take a carefully planned solo road trip drive from Michigan to California, and arrive sometime on Saturday, October 22. I will have a week to get settled in LA before getting into the thick of things that following week. Doesn't that sound like a Type A personality plan? I'm flexible of course, so this time table could be in place for a September move if the opportunity presents itself.

I have created a Go Fund Me page to seek any additional financial assistance for my big relocation plans. I have no idea how people will respond to it, but if it helps in raising some much needed extra funds for this big change in my life, I will be eternally grateful for that. Thanks!

Go Fund Simone :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

London and Paris via Toronto

Flying friendlier and cheaper skies via Air Canada to London
I have mentioned for the past couple of years about how I planned to take my niece to London and Paris for her high school graduation gift in June 2016. Well that time is quickly approaching, like just 100 days from now. So this past weekend, I finally bought our transatlantic airfare and I'm sighing a huge relief. I was getting nervous when I started to check on flight prices last November. About that same time, I went ahead and purchased our British Airways tickets from London to Paris because those seats sell out very fast - especially due to the disruptions the Eurostar has experienced recently due to the migrant problems in Calais, we decided to fly to Paris instead of taking the train (which we really wanted to do). Consequently, I started to research the prices for London from Detroit and it was migraine inducing.

I'm used to paying north of $1500 to fly to London these days. But that's for me. Now that I'm buying my niece's ticket and covering her hotel, I have to be on the lookout for more reasonable prices. My mother invited herself, so I have to purchase all three of our tickets now, so that I can select seats for us to sit together. Well, long story short, the non-stop Delta flight from Detroit to London was close to $1900 each, down from $2300 last fall. The comfort and convenience of just driving 20 minutes to Detroit Metro airport for this direct flight, at $1900 a pop, was not worth it. Thankfully, I had an epiphany, and I research flights departing from Pearson airport in Toronto. Low and behold, Air Canada has direct flights to London for $850 each. Sure, I would have to drive almost 5 hours to get to that airport, but it will only cost $40 in gas, and we can make a fun road trip out of it. And this is on top of the fact that I have driven to Toronto half a dozen times. Sold! I literally saved us $3000 in airfare by driving to Toronto in five hours, than dealing with a mere 20 minute drive to Detroit Metro and being ripped off.

American airliners are screwing Americans left and right, and those airports w/in driving distance of Toronto, will continue to lose a lot of American customers because we are saving so much money by going to another country to fly to, another country. I'm not asking for airfare to be dirt cheap, but reasonable. If Air Canada in Toronto can charge customers at their flex fare rate of $850, surely Delta could offer the same. But nope, they won't do it because unlike Pearson, at DTW, Delta has a monopoly on direct flights to London and there are people, who like me in the past, coughed up the money for the convenience of flying from their home airport of Detroit. I'm traveling to the UK with family for the first time and we have to be budget minded. In the end, we will be flying the friendlier and more economical skies from Toronto! I'm so excited about my Euro trip with my niece and mother before I take off for my new life in California later this year.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I Won the Pearl Jam Fan Club Lottery!

I have been a fan of Pearl Jam since 1991/1992, and I first saw them in concert at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, March 1994. My love for Pearl Jam has never wavered. Although I could not always travel far to see them, or had the money to see them back to back within driving distance, I have been able to see them approximately 25 times. Some of you may say, 'What? You saw PJ 25 times?' But trust me when I say that a lot of old timer hard core fans like me, are just much more hard corer and have deeper pockets, and more vacation days to travel and see the band anywhere in the world.

There were sad dry spots of several years where I was simply not able to go to PJ concerts, and it really hurt my morale. I was working poor broke and depressed and it was common sense to pay rent and buy food than travel to the East coast to see Pearl Jam. Meanwhile, many of my jamily friends had no financial problems and went to many shows. There were times when I had to scrape up the money for my annual membership, which in years past was 10 to 15, to 25, and now $40. But in recent years, I've been doing much better and I was able to see Pearl Jam in Toronto in 2011, then in Detroit 2014, and now in 2016, I'm going back East, to Philadelphia to see the best band in the world. It was important for me to win fan club lottery tickets to this leg of their 2016 North American tour because it's my last time living in the state of Michigan as a resident, that I can drive from home to the East coast to see the band. Back in 1997 to 2001 while living on the East coast, I was able to see PJ in Maryland, in New York at Madison Square Garden and at Jones Beach, and there's something really cool about seeing Pearl Jam in those crazy states. I've seen Pearl Jam in 2003 in Pittsburgh, so traveling a few hours further East to Philly will close out my mid-west/east coast living experience and enjoying 'local' PJ shows.

In the future, post-October 2016, I'll be in California, and I will have to fight the people out there for lottery fan club tickets. Meanwhile, as I'm currently in Michigan, only two cities were really feasible for me to attend: Philadelphia on April 29 (a Friday night show), or Toronto on May 10 (a Tuesday night show). Philly was my first choice and Toronto was second. I didn't bother with General Admission (GA) tickets because, and let's face it, there are a lot of tall and fat people in the world, and combine that with Pearl Jammers, the GA is not so much fun. I have the energy and stamina, but I'm short, petite, and I want to see and enjoy the show without some old frat boys all up in my shit - jamily or not, unless I'm in the front row of GA and wearing depends, the GA is over rated.

WHY this lottery? As a fan club member since 1996, I have a nice low member number. The lower your membership number, the higher you are on the seniority food chain. The lottery works by you selecting the shows you want to attend and ranking them from highest priority to the lowest. When the lottery begins, they randomly select people, and you may win the opportunity to simply and comfortably purchase premium fan club seats without all the hand wringing and refreshing your browser on Ticketbastard on sale day. I wanted to go to Philly so bad that I put the wheels in motion to just GO there, some way, some how. Last week I booked a hotel within walking distance of the Wells Fargo Center, the Courtyard Marriott Philadelphia South at The Navy Yard. I just checked at, and the hotel is now all sold out the night I'll be there. I'm sure Pearl Jam fans are staying at that place.

I'm just so damn happy and relieved. I could only afford to go to one show, and taking a Friday off from work is all I can afford to do, so this is perfect. I'm grateful to the 10 Club and Pearl Jam for making this happen, it's a great way to close out my time here in Michigan by being able to drive to an East Coast PJ show this spring!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Fun and Short Trip to Palm Springs, California

A month ago I blogged about an exciting adventure I spontaneously found myself in. I had an opportunity to attend the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) Awards Gala on January 2nd, and I jumped on this unique chance to attend. This was an extended Christmas gift to myself, as well as a chance for me to visit early in the year, my future home state of California. I have visited California many times, but this was the first time I visited a desert city. I've been to San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and now, Palm Springs. Unlike the other bustling large cities of CA that I have visited, Palm Springs really is laid back, walkable, calm, and quiet. It's a place where the rich go to chill out, go to spas, eat well, or hike the mountains.

I arrived in PS at 8:30pm PST/11:30pm EST. Although I was tired, I was so excited about being in PS. It was totally dark and a little nippy outside, but no where as cold as in Detroit. I arrived at my hotel, checked in, and walked along the manicured lawn to my room. The Days Inn PS was on the budget side at $115 a night, but it was perfectly located in the northern side of town and newly renovated. The pool area was just outside my door and as I walked by, people were relaxing in the heated Jacuzzi. I was starving so I walked about 10 minutes up the road to Del Taco and devoured a burrito. I went to bed in a king size bed so excited about being in my favorite state and looking forward to the next day's event.
Wow, mountains!

My room 324 was just straight ahead on this small path.
I woke up early to the bright sun peeking through the side of the curtains of my sliding door window. I open the widows and wow, the mountain views almost brought tears to my eyes. That's a mountain!!! I literally walked around PS smiling at the sun, the mountains, and the palm trees. It's amazing the restorative powers a quick visit to paradise has on one's soul. While there are neighborhoods in PS that are normal looking working class streets, there are many sections of town that have homes that cost tens of millions of dollars. They were absolutely breathtaking, so much so, I got dizzy looking at them.

For my short visit to PS, I was to attend the festival awards gala, spend time with my friends, shop, walk about, and watch one movie. The select pictures after this cut will present my trip in a nutshell.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Film Review: The Revenant (3.5/4)

During my brief visit to Palm Springs this past weekend for the Film Festival gala, I was able to watch one movie, The Revenant on Sunday night. I have long admired Leonardo DiCaprio and have enjoyed much of his work. So I knew going in watching The Revenant, I would see Leonardo in his most top form. The Revenant is inspired by true events about a fur trading frontier man, Hugh Glass. As unforgiving as life can be in the vast wilderness somewhere in early 1800s America, people have each other and the cruelties of mother nature to contend with. The film opens with Hugh, played by Leonardo, and his half-Pawnee Indian son, hunting. Their camp is attacked by Indians in a horrific battle scene that pulls you in and gets your adrenaline pumping, makes you avert your eyes and is reminiscent to the too realistic opening battle scene of Saving Private Ryan. Among the fur trappers who survived is a surly and jaded John Fitzgerald, played by the outstanding Tom Hardy. Moving away from the siege, the survivors are dependent on Glass to help them reach a safe outpost. In the first of many unbelievable near death events, Glass is ferociously attacked by a bear that is protective of her cubs. The CGI effects is near perfection in the creation of the bear, and you feel the complete horror that Glass experiences, and every rip of skin, every toss and being flipped over several times like a piece of hamburger. When Glass is found by his comrades, he's so messed up and they can't believe he's alive. Fitzgerald makes it clear that Glass needs to be put out of his misery for his own sake. And eventually, he gets the chance to deal with Glass with devastating results.

The Revenant, or rather, The Revenge is relentless is revealing all the trials Glass has to go through as he's hell bent on revenge for being left for dead. The film becomes slightly comical in the Tom and Jerry type of deathly misadventures that Glass endures. It's like he's a human cat and has nine lives. How can a man who was mauled by a grizzly bear keep going on and on and on? And that's where Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's talent comes in by using beautiful spiritual imagery that helps us understand the inner strength that compels Glass to find Fitzgerald and kill the fuck out of him. Suspension of disbelief needs to be employed big time when watching The Revenant because the average man living in the 1820s only had a life expectancy up to 40, and most were simple farm people. So for Glass to experience the following harrowing events is a bit too much to accept: bear mauling, untreated infection from said mauling, fever, no medicine, unprotected from the freezing elements, frostbite (they didn't have North Face back then), broken leg, throat ripped open, rotting skin, hunger/malnutrition, PTSD, mourning, chapped lips, falling off a mountain cliff only to be saved by a tree, going over a waterfall in freezing cold water, out running Indians with arrows, being shot at, and a very, very bloody crescendo fight with Fitzgerald. And these are the outrageous sagas I can remember. I rolled my eyes when Glass, somehow, escaped death, again.

The Revenant is a well made and entertaining film, but it's not for the faint of heart and it's extremely bloody and brutal. Regarding all the talk about Leonardo finally winning his Oscar, well, he's definitely deserving of an Oscar, and the emotional narrative of him being nominated 5-6 times already and not winning, certainly has Oscar gurus, bloggers, and some voters itching like hell to just give it to him. Just give it away so that Leonardo can calm down a bit and not take on year after year of Oscar bait films in pursuit of the Oscar. I'm sure loads of voters are tired of him, feel sorry for him, are feeling guilty, and they are tired of voting for actors who simply gave stronger performances in the past. The sentimental tide is definitely on Leo's side, but I'm stubborn and believe another actor had the better performance this year (Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs - see review).

With Leonardo receiving so much manufactured and PR paid for praise, his co-star, Tom Hardy is being ignored in the Oscar chatter. Within 12 months, Tom has been consistently outstanding in Locke, Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road, and now The Revenant. Tom Hardy deserves to be acknowledged with an Oscar nomination for The Revenant, and hell, he could even win! Whenever he was on screen as the dirty rotten Fitzgerald, I loved it. He had more dialogue than Leo - but then again -  employing suspension of disbelief - because Glass had his throat ripped to shreds by a Grizzly bear, so he couldn't say much. Sigh.

Go see The Revenant if you're up for a wild adventure tale of survival by any means necessary, witness the miracle of self-healing by being pissed off and revengeful, and lots of blood and gore (humans and animals).

Grade: 3.5 out 4 arrows

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm going to attend an awards gala!

Last week I wrote about my hopes to win a lottery contest to get tickets to sit in the bleachers along the red carpet for next February's Oscar telecast. Well, the winner notification email time frame has come and passed and I did not win the lottery. However, a better opportunity presented itself instead. I'm going to attend the 27th Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) awards gala and after party on January 2nd. Have you ever made such a spontaneous decision and planning within a 72 hour window that could possibly change your life and leave your head spinning? Well that's what I experienced with the last, last, last minute decision to attend this event (Jan 1-4).

I'm going primarily to support my favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, who is being honored with the International Star award by PSIFF and this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to be at a public Hollywood and entertainment industry event where he will be there accepting a much deserved honor. I'm excited about attending the event with friends, and dressing up really nice to attend an event where I can network and help lay down some bricks for my future move to LA in late 2016.

This year's roster of honored talent is ever growing and I look forward to meeting, if just for a moment, all of this year's honorees:

PSIFF has announced that Carol actress, Rooney Mara will receive its Spotlight award; Black Mass lead actor Johnny Depp will receive its Desert Palm Achievement Award (Actor); Carol and Truth lead actress Cate Blanchett will receive its Desert Palm Achievement Award (Actress); The Danish Girl and Ex Machina supporting actress Alicia Vikander will receive its Rising Star Award; Room lead actress Brie Larson will receive its Breakthrough Performance Award; Steve Jobs lead actor Michael Fassbender will receive its International Star Award (male); Brooklyn lead actress Saoirse Ronan will receive its International Star Award (female); and Spotlight co-writer/director Tom McCarthy will receive its Sonny Bono Visionary Award. - The Hollywood Reporter

Image from last year's event