Sunday, January 27, 2008

Photogenic Compliments

I got a call from a friend of mine complimenting me on the pictures I've posted up. He likes how artistic some of them are. I explained to him how when I bought the wifey a very expensive film Canon film camera, I read the manual that came with it and then took a lot of pictures trying out all the features. I'm taking the same concepts with the digital camera I have and then using editing software to bring out the better qualities in the picture.

Awww...someone likes me!

Currently listening :
By Snoop Doggy Dogg
Release date: 22 May, 2001

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yuppie Sloths

I just found middle class Americans' ugly, dark secret. It goes to show everyone that they are not at all appreciative of what they have, how they got to their level of good fortune, and how cruel to their fellow man the can be. One has to look a bit harder from city to city, town to town in order to be able to notice this unnerving development: Costco and Sam's club customers are incredibly fawkin' lazy!

I went to Sam's club to help stock up for my wifey's volleyball concessions. The parking lot was filled with random shopping carts in spaces. There were some that were feet away from the holding pin designed for people to return their carts to! So, I had to park further away from some of these cart traps and actually push 3 myself to a holding pin to feel as if my car was safe from an accidental bump due to a stray cart. I see this dilemma every time I go to one of these type places. It does happen at the grocery store but it's not nearly as bad as it is in these mega-supplier stores.

Why do people leave their carts just lying around? They just spent 4 hours trolling around the damn store with its own zipcode buying up 25 lbs of toilet paper, 14 packs of Gatorade, and a pool table just to be lazy at the end to not return the cart to where it needs to go? Is there an unspoken sense of privilege that comes with the $45/yr membership card that allows one to force another worker to run around all day getting that cart out of the frozen tundra that wasn't designed as a platform for shopping carts?

Be kind. Return your fawkin' cart you swine!

Currently listening :
Lazy Town
By Original Soundtrack
Release date: 13 November, 2006

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Culinary Improvisation

After a successful gig in Tulsa, OK, I came home around 5:30 PM last night. I was starting to get hungry around 7 PM. We had a lot of nothing in the cupboards, fridge, and freezers in the food department since we haven't had a chance to raid Jewel and Dominick's for food, therefore, improvisation would be of the skill of need to get me some food. Domino's was looking pretty good but for some reason my body was rejecting the idea of gorging itself on greasy pizza. After much scrounging around, angel hair pasta with meatballs and garlic bread became the meal of choice.

Once the angel hair pasta started boiling, I began looking for the sauce. There was absolutely no sauce to be found. I cursed at myself as to why I chose to move forward with pasta without making sure I had sauce. I heated up some meatballs and got the garlic bread going in the toaster oven. Now all I needed to do was to get some sort of sauce going. Olive oil! yes, I could drizzle some olive oil on my food and then I'd be set. I searched for the olive oil and found some. However, it was the most putrid smelling olive oil. It kind of smelled like an old baseball glove. I threw that out along with a bunch of expired bottles of various salad dressings and condiments sitting in my fridge. Jeebus! I then saw that we had shredded Italian cheeses in the fridge! Great, I can sprinkle that on my food! I open up the case and there's barley enough cheese in there to satisfy! I then saw a stick of butter and decided to melt some of it in the wave and put that on my pasta. After doing so, I added a bunch of garlic sea salt to the noodles, added the meatballs, and stirred it all up. The end result was really good!

Ironically the entire time I was going through this, Discovery's Survivorman was on the TV. I felt like I was learning to survive in my own home!

Currently listening :
By Smashing Pumpkins
Release date: 10 July, 2007

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Resurgence of the Cougar

Lately the term "cougar" has been in my daily vocabulary. Per, the definition of a cougar is as follows:

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or milf. Cougars are gaining in popularity -- particularly the true hotties -- as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her shit together.

As I've been doing these shows and guest apperances around town and the country, I've been looking rather dapper. I've shaven, been losing weight week-to-week, and have been scoring pretty big on the laugh-o-meter at these engagements. The whole time I'm thinking, "When are the old chicks going to break themselves to talk to me?"

Historically, both my brother and I have attracted ugly, old women our whole lives. I tend to also attract thicker ladies as well. My brother sees it as a curse while I see it as a blessing. I love women in general. I treat 99% of them with respect and as human beings where as a lot of guys treat them like sh*t (for the 1% , I do disrespect, I am sorry. I'm working on being a better person). As a result, these ladies are not used to the kind of attention I give them, and become infatuated with the idea that a guy is talking to them. They love it. It's not necessarily me they're interested in; it's more like the concept of what's going on in the process they are attracted to. I have found that in most cases these ladies have a lot more to offer a person than the hottest women roaming the streets of Chicago. Where they may lack in some areas, the most of the time make up in others. So, I'm comfortable hanging with these ladies. In fact, I welcome them!

Yes, I realize this is an ego-stroking post. So what?! I need to do that every few hours .

Currently listening :
Shelf in the Room
By Days of the New
Release date: 06 January, 2004

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Three For Three

This weekend was action-packed. Three auditions were lined up for me on each day and they went extremely well. Here's the low-down:

  1. Friday - There was an audition for a play my agency sent me on. It was located in the heart of the loop which made for potentially tricky logistics to find parking and walk to the site of the audition. I did learn finally after 9 years of living in Chicago that it's possible to take 90/94E to Congress East! I've never had to do that until now for this audition.

    I got there about 10 minutes ahead of time even though I was almost 30 minutes late leaving my house. I parked on a street with these green pay boxes where one can pay for how much time they need to park on the street with cash or credit card, and then subsequently place the receipt in the driver's side dash where the meter maids can read them. Initially, I was parked in a yellow zone and then luckily the guy behind my car left almost as soon as I got there. SCORE! Then I went to pay the machine for an hour's worth of time. I paid for the time and then *poof* nothing happen. Where's my receipt?! GAWD BLESS! I figured they wouldn't be looking for ticketing folks anyway because of the extreme cold and decided to go on my merry way to the audition spot.

    Once I arrived the director and producer were sitting at a table waiting for me while talking to another actor. One said, "You must be Nelson Velazquez." I was taken aback by how he already knew my name. Yes, I know the agency set this up, but still it was weird. I introduced myself and was lead into a side room for the audition. I performed my monologue and then discussed the logistics of the play I was reading for. Logistically speaking, due to work and already defined committments, my chances of being called back were questionable. I then read a side to read and that was it. The director handed me a script for a callback on next Thursday!

  2. Saturday - This one was for a movie. The casting director for the movie emailed me earlier in the week looking for help in reaching other Latino actors in my sphere of influence. I told her I would forward on the casting notice to my peeps and sent her my headshot and resume (H/R) in the meantime. The name of the casting director looked familiar as I believe I had sent her my H/R previously for other movie work. It looked like my persistence paid off.

    Once again, I relied on my trusty monologue (I REALLY need to learn a new one ) to introduce my skillz to the staff. The director asked me to do it a number of different ways. What was striking was that there was this hint of Edward James Olmos in the way I approached one of the representations. I then was asked to read a side from the script in different mannerisms as well. The audition was a success!

  3. Sunday - I was given a tip by a friend of mine regarding audition to be considered for one of the Director's Program improv ensembles where new, up & coming SC directors can flex their skills on a group of improvisers. I got to audition with a guy who I've seen and talked to on a bunch of occasions but never got the chance to play with. It was a lot of fun and reaffirmed for me that, yes, I actually can do this stuff. I was asked to "teach" the directors something in roughly 20 seconds. The monologue went something like this.

    "Hi, I'm Nelson Velazquez and in the next 20 seconds, I am going to teach you how to be come a hip-hop artist. I am self-certified in hip-hopology so just follow my instructions and you'll be good. First, ensure that you have a really crappy job. Have almost no source of income. Then go out to a wholesale store and buy as much fake jewelry as you can afford. This automatically gives you "street credibility". Then go to your local bar and read the labels on all of the bottles. Don't buy any. Just read them and include this in your rhymes. Oh, and speaking of rhymes, make sure that as many rhymes as possible end in "O" or "A" so you can rhyme with "Ho" and "Pay", as in "gettin' pay". That's it!"

So, that was my auditioning schedule. I have a lead on another audition/potential work at SC as well so I am excited to see if it all pans out. Holla at ya boy!

Currently listening :
By Nas
Release date: 19 April, 1994

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Softening Up My Views on Addiction

I began watching Celebrity Rehab (CR) last night on VH-1. Admittedly I have religiously watched the VH-1 brand of reality shows such as Flavor of Love, I Love New York, Rock of Love, Charm School, Celebrity Fit Club, and plenty of others. Knowing full and well a majority of these shows are scripted tp an extent, I still watch them and convince myself that there is a bit of reality in them for that hour they're on. I expected CR to be just like the other shows. I was wrong.

Dr. Drew Pinsky of Love Lines fame is the doctor helping various celebrities work through their addictions. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Drew in that even while he became famous, he continued to work to become board certified in internal medicine and addiction medicine was well as being versed in psychology and psychiatry. Watching him work his magic in the brief half hour of the show I was able to watch was awesome.

I saw glimpses into his work ethic on the show that made me realize just how judgmental and selfish a person I was. Jeff Conway, of Taxi and Grease fame, showed up to the clinic fawked up. He looked incredibly pathetic and blitzed out of his mind. Dr. Drew met him at the curb and got him out of the car and got him admitted into the clinic. The whole time Jeff was slurring his speech, talking a lot of sh*t to people, and looked like he was ready to keel over any second and die. Dr. Drew spoke to him in a way that let him know he was there to help him and not to judge him while still having a sense of authority to get Jeff to do what he needed to do. I thought about how I would handle the situation. Because of my adversity to drugs and alcohol, I feel I would've not even dealt with the guy. I would've written him off as a burnt-out loser and that would've been the extent of my involvement. Dr. Drew, however, in general showed that he cared while limiting his availability to the extent that these folks wanted to help themselves. I admire that quality in him. He truly cares for people and is willing to help them out even at their lowest points in their lives. To me that takes a strong person to be that loving.

Watching the episode gave me another chance to re-evaluate my stances on drugs and alcohol. I come from an environment where alcoholism was strong, and received some of the negative impacts on it. But what with what I went through, it's nothing compared to what some of others have gone through. I am grateful that I decided at a young age to never dabble in alcohol and drugs, because I see how easy it would've been for me to continue the destructive behavior. However, it also put me in a position of faux superiority that only until recently has changed a bit. I see that drugs and alcohol can be bad but the people who abuse them are not necessarily bad people. I still hold onto the notion that we as humans do not need either one of those to be happy. Our society does not condone achieving enlightenment via natural states of thinking and feeling but rather quick-and-easy artificial means. I'm going to make better strives to drop my judgemental nature in my interactions with folks, and see them for who they really are: people.

Currently reading :
The Dr. Drew and Adam Book: A Survival Guide To Life and Love
By Adam Carolla
Release date: 13 October, 1998

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Master Chef Veezo

I've renewed my interest in cooking again recently. I've been eating out so much the last few months that I'm forgetting what home cookin' tastes like! I've been making almost daily trips to the supermarket to see what new stuff I could conjure up. Lately, my focus has been on sandwiches of some sort. I've created recipes for:

  1. Subiduh Wey Pastrami Sammitch - I didn't know I liked pastrami until last night. I had seen this documentary on the History Channel regarding the modern marvel of cold cuts. The pastrami they featured on there looked so damn good that I was interested in finding out if I liked it. Since I had cut out traditional salami, ham, turkey, and chicken,, I've been looking for another cold cut I could start eating again. The key is a dash of A-1 sauce.

  2. Fill Me Cheesesteak Sammitch - I was about to abandon particular heat-up-and-serve fajitas I bought to try out. I had some left over meat, provolone cheese, and French bread, so, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at making a cheesesteak sandwich. It worked out. The key here is ... A-1 steak sauce. Hmmmm....

  3. Potato soup - I've been wanting a killer potato soup I could have at home. I've been devouring Beniggan's and Outback Steakhouse potato soups for years. I needed to find one to eat at home. I've tried 4-5 different brands over the years and each one of them sucked my arse. However, I figured out last night I liked good ole Campbell's full-o'-salt soup. A can of this and a can of milk makes a great soup. They key to this one is ... *sigh* ... stirring it often with a fork.

I'll be exploring a few more things over the weeks. Wolfgang Puck I may not be, but I make a hella Chef Boyardee!
Currently listening :
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
By Foo Fighters
Release date: 25 September, 2007

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just Hanging Around Until The Day Comes

I got myself an inversion table finally. I saw an ad on Craiglist with a dude that was basically giving it away for a quarter of the cost of buying one new. So, I jumped at it. I picked up this and have been hanging out in 5 minute intervals ever since. It's great for taking pressure off your lower back and realigning your neck, which in turn,. helps loosen up my voice and make it much richer. I'm really psyched about finally having one!

I did a corporate gig yesterday for a bunch of IT consultants at the Sheraton Hotel. That show allowed me to get through any stage anxiety and bad improvisational initiations. The morning started out slowly with some scripted bits that did not get any heavy audience response for me. I knew that the improv set would be my chance. Later in the afternoon, we introduced the improv set with another scripted deal where I sang a parody to Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love". I had added a bit of choreography to the song in the morning, and was practicing it a lot in the green room, however, once I hit the stage, I got all flustered, dropped lines, and got really frustrated and embarrased (with my boss watching the whole time). I felt how much I was in my head because I was thinking really hard remember all the steps I added. After reading the script again and taking 5 minutes for to settle down, I returned to the stage and nailed it. *whew* Once the show started, everything was cool and I got a lot of great audience response during the song and my bits on stage. It was like riding a bike.

After the show, the client's CEO was really happy with our performance. He was telling me how great everyone did especially the bit at the end where I played this bum character that I've developed after years of riding the Red Line. In a flash of insight, I created a new character as a result, Stanky, the sweaty sock puppet that my character Jerome Watkins brings out in time of need. Rumor has it we'll be invited for next year's show and that show may have a tropical destination of Maui!

Tomorrow is my audition for SC generals. Typically I go into these auditions with tethered optimism, but for some reason, I am REALLY excited about it! It's nice to feel this way, because I try to stay even keeled at all times to reduce the amount of expectation I have going into the audition and staying out of my head. I am more excited to just get back up on stage, and do something I really love regardelss of outcome. I'm going to have a good time and play with my fellow actors, take care of them, and do what's right for the scene - not what's right for my ego .

Currently listening :
The Very Best of Robert Palmer
By Robert Palmer
Release date: 11 November, 2003

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Come One, Come All!

While making good on my New Year's Resolution of going out to see more shows my fellow castmates/friends are in, I'm fighting the urge to expect reciprocation of the deed during the year.

What I want is to have people come to shows because they want to rather than feeling obligated/forced to do so. Ultimately, that's much more rewarding when one receives a compliment or a friendly handshake after a show. I took on the attitude when I started doing shows of "Hey, if you come, cool, and if not, that's okay. There will be other shows." I kept that spirit up for a good year, and worked really hard to maintain a positive attitude that people eventually will come with great success. The attendance by folks has been I see I have an even greater challenge for this year to keep my hopes and aspirations in check .

Sketchfest 2008 turned out to be way more successful personally regarding attendance from "my peeps" than previous runs. I had a decent crowd of people that came considering my usual promotion machine produces a lot of nosie-onesie-twosie attendees. I was floored at how many people I knew were in the crowd. It really helped make the show better for me.

One anomaly this year is that folks are asking me more about what shows I'm in, which is an awesome thing considering I've pretty much clammed up about them during normal conversations. I figure if people really wanted to know what's going on, they'll ask. I guess that's a starting point. The challenge now is to actually get the bodies into the theatres to see this stuff.

Another observation I've made is that I've unfortunately returned to a very defensive position regarding the level of support I'm receiving from people lately. A common thing I hear from folks I invite repeatedly to stuff and never show up is "When you make it big Nelson, remember the little people blah blah blah..." I always respond pleasantly with, "When I make it big and you want tickets to something or want to hang out with me at a big event with celebrities, don't ask." They normally laugh it off but I'm serious . It comes from my "I Told You So" attitude I've had my whole life. The interesting thing is,when it comes to me defining what "support" is, it's a very loose, completely subjective, and fluid definition. I determine it on a case-by-case basis. There are people I know of who have yet to go to a show, but I feel have shown true support in my endevours who I would gladly have them chillin' in the up-and-coming enourage I'm building . There are others who don't talk to me unless they're at a show. I'm working on changing my attitude on this but it's difficult.

This post isn't meant to lash out at anyone for coming/not coming to shows. Like stated previously, I want folks to come only if they feel like coming. The good news is that although my eagerness to be accepted and lauded is great, I'm going to continue to strive to stay humble and open to realms of possibilities. The bad news (for the unsupportive) is that I've got a red carpet event to attend for a new feature length movie and then I'm going over to Will Smith's house for a guitar Hero III party with Slash. Ain't life grand?!

Currently listening :
The Else
By They Might Be Giants
Release date: 10 July, 2007

Note: this was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Keek Ath!

Last night I wrote lyrics to my newest Rue track "Told You So". The song is departure from what I normally write. The instrumentation is a bit more orchestral in nature vs. the guitar/drums/bass driven tracks being pumped out before.

I'm pretty excited about this one. I expect to test it out at a few open mics pretty soon.

Currently listening :
Code Red
By DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Release date: 12 October, 1993

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Stealing Is The Highest Form of Theft

I've checked out two days of Chicago's Sketchfest and have seen some excellent sketches and production. There's stuff that I have yet to see happen in Chicago that people are doing in other countries right now with their scenes. I'm totally going to steal their ideas and improve upon them where I can. I think in the liner notes I'll give them credit for giving me the ideas but I will take all of the glory for myself!

Currently listening :
Nice Talking to Me
By Spin Doctors
Release date: 13 September, 2005

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Had a Beautiful Blog But..., the designers of T61 Thinkpad decided to put web navigation keys next to the arrow keys on the keyboard. Yesterday, I started writing the beginning of a really interesting blog (well, at least interesting to me) when I decided I needed to go back up a line to fix something. I accidentally hit the "back" navigation key and it went to the previous pages' contents! ARGH! When you do that with MySpace blog, if you return to the page you were on, all it remembers is the title of the blog . so, I lost the contents and didn't feel like posting up a new version again.

Instead, I spent half my day tracking down how the heck to disable those keys! I finally found it and performed the necessary procedure! If you have keys you want to remap or just disable, check out the following:

It does require you to hack the registry a bit in Windows so make sure you back it up before trying any of it. If you don't feel comfortable trying it yourself, just don't do it. You could potentially screw something up.

There will be another blog soon. I had to get this off my mind to be able to move on with my frustration.

Currently listening :
Zeitgeist CD/DVD Limited Edition Silver
By Smashing Pumpkins

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Testing...Testing...Is This Thing On?

I got a call today to audition for a voice-over. It'll be a couple of firsts for 2008. It'll be my first voice-over audition ever and the first real audition my agency has sent me out out on ever . I called up a buddy of mine for some voice-over tips and get an idea of what to expect. How exciting!

Currently reading :
Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires
By Esther Hicks
Release date: 01 October, 2004

Note: This was originally posted on MySpace with comments at:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Gawd Head

Back in the day when I fronted my band in live situations, I used to have a Crate Blue VooDoo BV120H half stack featuring Crate's top-of-the-line guitar tube head. I am the only person I know of that actually endorses playing Crate amplifiers. Most guitarists laugh at me and buy into the misconception that Crate's are complete crap. I beg to differ.

I've grown up on Crate amplifiers and am well aware of their capabilities. Crates typically have a very useful, wide-open clean sound. It responds quite well to the input being given to it. With the right tweaking, it can sound (almost) as beautiful as a good blackface Fender amp.

Now, here's where Crate runs into a little bit of a problem. When you try to use the gain channels, Crates typically falter a bit behind the other amps in that they distort too quickly and have little headroom above a certain point of gain. they insert a diode in the chain to get that ultra-gainy sound that unfortunately compresses the hell out of the signal it receives. So, once you set the gain knob to "3", you already maxed out your gain of the amp which pretty much sounds like a bunch of white static vs. having some kind of tone with in the sound. all that you can do turn the thing up or down in volume with the channel volume.

Ahhhh, but here's the trick to get around this limitation! The player has to narrow his gain preferences to a small spectrum, i.e., play within the 1-3 gain range Crate gives you. This can be accomplished by setting the channel volume to 10, which on a solid state or tube amp is going to be pretty freakin' loud, and then starting the gain at 0, minutely turn up the gain until the desired gain is created (typically between 1 and 1.5 for high gain music, .5 and 1 for lighter stuff). Once this is done, minutely throttle back the volume know to somewhere between 8-9. When you do this, you are utilizing the full power of the amplifier. Whatever sounds you are introducing to the input chain are being "washed" in the amplifier section. The distortion that gets produced comes mainly from the amplifier stage as well rather than the preamp stage. By doing this, the sound has the most natural, open distortion possible.

I was in Guitar Center today and right up front they had a BV120H sitting right there for $200 (I sold my last one to get myself my MOTU 828MKII sound card). I was hoping that the only thing wrong with it were some cosmetic blemishes on it. I had them set it up and began playing it. It sounded like a few of the tubes had gone bad on it. I kept playing it but my heart wasn't into getting it just yet. I knew I would have to buy all new tubes (four 6L6s and four 12Ax7s), rebias the amp, and then play it even more for me to make it worth it. Since I'm not really fronting anything, and the fact that it would bring up the total cost of having the amp to about $400, I walked away from it. For $400, I could buy a used Line 6 Flextone amp and have many, many more sound possibilities to play with. Plus the thing weighs a ton and I hated carrying it around for gigs as it was!

It was nice to actually play an old friend again. It also gave me more impetus to get the Rue back on the stage again. VERY NICE!

Currently listening :
Every Man for Himself
By Hoobastank
Release date: 16 May, 2006

Note: this was originally posted on MySpace with comments: