Thursday, November 29, 2012

Howie Who?

I am usually overly prepared for any celebrity interview I conduct for Starpulse down to the point of studying facts about their life and career and coming up with obscure questions that will make them laugh and remember who I am- a true professional. But every professional screws up sometimes. Here's the story of my little hiccup and how I bounced back like a champ.  

My Starpulse colleague texted me last year around Christmas time asking if I could cover an interview for her. No problem I said, who will I be chatting with? Her response: Howie Day (well at least that is what I read via her text message). Great, I loved Howie Day! He was an amazing singer, liked life on the edge (he supposedly dated Britney Spears after the two met in rehab) and was even from Maine- I would have loads to talk with him about. I told her I would handle it, got the name of his publicist and began my intense research on Howie Day, from here on just referred to as 'Howie.' Howie's publicist called me and said we would be meeting at Starbucks at 5:00 pm that Friday, where I would conduct the interview and even get a few pictures with him. I was getting excited about the interview, had all my questions ready and even had a fantasy that we would meet, connect on the Maine thing and become best friends.

The day of the interview, I drove to the Sherman Oaks Starbucks where we agreed to meet, as giddy as a school girl. (What does that expression even mean, anyways?) I walked in, ordered a latte and sat down as I didn't see Howie inside yet. I waited and waited and still nothing. At about 10 minutes past 5:00, a girl and a guy walked in, both of whom I didn't recognize, so I naturally just looked away and kept waiting. Until the two came up to me and asked if I was Erin. I was confused but confirmed my identity with the strangers. The girl apologized for being late and introduced me to 'Howie', standing by her side. Howie? Howie who? The girl then asked if it was okay to do the interview out on the deck where we had a little more privacy. I had no idea who this elusive Howie character was but followed the two outside. My mind was racing at this point! Who was this guy and what the hell was I going to ask him? I had all my questions prepared for Howie Day and unless he lost 15 lbs, shrunk a few inches and had major reconstructive surgery, this was not him. I was going to have to pull something out of my butt and handle this interview smoothly. Maybe I can start out with a few generic questions about who his influences are, what his Christmas plans were and what's up next for him and I would figure out by then who he was.

As we sat down, I looked at him closely and did recognize him a bit, but from where? Was this Howie Day? I thought I would throw a Maine reference out there right away, to see if he caught it, or batted it away. I think I said something like, "it's a bit chilly outside, but not as chilly as Maine!" Wait for it, wait for it.....his response: "That's true, it gets a bit chilly in Florida too, where I am from." Dammit, plan failed. Now what? Generic question #1 failed as well and just when I started to feel a sweat bead roll down my forehead, he threw me the biggest puzzle piece ever, and I solved the mystery with two words. Backstreet Boys. Ding, ding, ding- light was Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys. Although I felt like the biggest idiot, I finished the very successful interview, got my picture with the former boy-bander and drove away with a great story to tell. And sweat stains the size of Russia.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blast From the Past- ‘Essie the Scort’

Anytime I get frustrated with my car (often), like when she decides to take 10 minutes to start in the morning when it’s cold, or when an interior light magically stops working, I think back to the days of my first car and it all seems okay. When I was 16, I bought a black Ford Escort with $500 cash that I called ‘Essie the Scort’ or John (after John Travolta, whose picture was taped to the dash…by choice). It was my first car so I absolutely loved it. I loved the freedom, I loved the independence and now, I love looking back at my experience with Essie aka John.
First of all, my Escort was a stick shift, which was fine considering I learned to drive on one and every car I have owned since then has been a stick, but I have to admit, the first few months driving a stick are really hard, especially in an old car. I remember running through countless yellow lights because I didn’t want to stop, or rolling through practically every stop sign so I didn’t have to use that dreaded clutch. The worst was when I actually did get stuck at a red light, on a hill. I remember sweating buckets and praying no one would pull up behind me so I wouldn’t roll back and nail them once the light turned green.
Secondly, as time went by, my 1987 Ford seemed to shed some of its features that were necessities in a vehicle. For instance, one day the radio just stopped working. No worries, I had a solution for this. I loaded my boom box up with those massive D batteries and stuck it in the back seat. Now I had a CD player, a radio and a tape deck. I would just have to reach back and change the music or ask my friend who needed a ride that day to be the backseat DJ. Then my automatic seat belts stop working. Remember those things? When you opened the door, the seat belt would slide from the front of the door to the back to secure you in? Well mine just stayed in the unsecured position and made it a tad uncomfortable to drive. Next up to fail? The actual driver’s side door. It just didn’t want to open, so I had to crawl over the center console and into my passenger seat to get out of the car. Lovely! Speaking of center console, the best was when both of my window cranks fell off and needed to be stored in the center console until either myself of my passenger got hot and needed to roll down the window. “Hey, can you pass me a window crank so I can get some air up in here? Thanks!”
My favorite part about good ol’ Essie the Scort was the day I decided to get rid of her. My dad suggested that I bring it down to the junk yard to see if I could sell her for parts. Maybe the parts that were kept in the center console! I drove her down to the sad looking junk yard, the death ground for old cars, not wanting to say goodbye but also excited because I had a sweet Plymouth Laser waiting for me at home and spoke to the man in charge. He looked her over, spoke with my dad a bit, then turned to me and said, “I’ll give you $40 bucks….” I looked and my dad, then at my sad, little Escort and replied, “You’ve got yourself a deal!”

Friday, November 9, 2012

Big Fat Fatty

For the most part, I am a very healthy girl who tries to maintain a ‘Schmegan’ lifestyle (vegan most days but I am not opposed to meat either- strange, I know) and works out at least five days a week. But I love food and enjoy eating and have daily fights with my inner fat kid. Like, I see a bowl of peanut M&Ms and my skinny side looks the other way, while my fatty bo-batty side grabs my hair and jams my hand into the bowl in into my mouth. I usually lose against my inner fat kid, hence working out at least five days a week. But even though I am in shape, I have always had a knack for eating and some may even call it a talent. My best friend, Alicia used to tell me that I should enter eating contests and she would bet money on me and clean up because people wouldn’t expect me to pack it in. I have been known to eat a foot long Subway, a family size bag of chips (from the grocery store, not the dinky ones at Subway…I don’t mess around, kids!) a few cookies and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Completely turned on, aren’t you fellas? When I go home for the holidays, my family calls me either the garbage disposal or the endless pit as I binge until I pass out, like I have never seen food in my life. Ever since I was a kid, I have been known to love all kinds of food (I think I was four when I had my first Whopper at Burger King- and finished it) and my mom even used to give me giant pickles to eat when I was a baby.
But I think I may have met my match and have bitten off more than I can chew, literally. A few blocks away from my work, there’s a sandwich shop owned by actor Jerry Ferrara called Fat Sal’s. They have a sandwich (actual picture above) that is available to order for their food challenge only for a mere price of $49.95. It consists of cheesesteak, cheese burgers, pastrami, chicken fingers, bacon, mozzarella sticks, fried eggs, jalapeno poppers, fries, onion rings, chili and marinara sauce on a 27 inch garlic hero. If you can finish the burger in 40 minutes or less, the sandwich is free and you get to name your own “fat sandwich.”  Mine would obviously be called “Dumps like a truck” and be 100% Schmegan. So, last year I told my co-workers I could do it (before I saw the picture and only if I could throw it up afterwards) and now it is on the company calendar for December 7th. I am either going to put in my two weeks now, or change my identity- pronto!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Homeless Whisperer

I am sure you have heard of the ‘Horse Whisperer’ and the ‘Dog Whisperer’, but ‘Homeless Whisperer?’ Yup, only Erin. It is always weird in LA when you see someone you know in an obscure place (it has happened to me countless of times) solidifying the saying, “it is such a small world.” But when you have seen more than a handful of homeless people in different parts of the cities, a few years apart in some cases, you start to wonder what the heck is going on.
About five years ago, I worked at Peet’s Coffee on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and a homeless man by the name of Michael used to come in all the time for some water and an occasional cup of coffee. He was very nice and always talked to the staff, so I never forgot him. Cut to 2012, and I find myself working in Westwood near UCLA. For those non-LA’ers, it’s not very close to Hollywood (especially if you are pushing a shopping cart). One day, I see Michael in the village walking around with his cart, whistling away. I felt like I saw an old buddy and I think I waved. He looked at me like I was crazy, and that says a lot coming from a homeless person.
Earlier this year, there was a homeless person that used to hang out near the library next to my office building toting around more luggage than even a regular person has belongings. Seriously- this lady had about twenty five rolling suit cases lined up along Glendon Ave. It looked like a Samsonite convention! I would see her every day when I drove to work; sometimes she would be in a trash bag dress, other times in a bright pink sweat suit. But I was never surprised to see her plentiful outfits considering how much baggage she had. One day, out of the blue, her and all her stuff were gone. Odd. Very odd. Did she move during the night? Did someone abduct her? Was she a figment of my imagination? I was worried for about a week and then I moved on with my life. A few months later I was walking on Pico Blvd (about 3 miles from where she used to reside) when I saw her on the sidewalk waiting for the bus! I smiled (knowing she wasn’t abducted) then went on to ponder how the hell she moved all her stuff!
My last repeat sighting just occurred this week. A few days before Halloween, I saw this guy wearing a SpongeBob Square pants outfit on Wilshire Blvd close to my office building and I assumed it was a Halloween costume. I think I even beeped and gave him a “thumbs up.” It was rather hilarious. It was hilarious that is until I saw the same exact guy in the same exact SpongeBob Square pants outfit in Culver City a few days after Halloween, sitting on the sidewalk looking very homeless. Should I have my own show on TLC? Move over Long Island Medium, here comes Los Angeles Homeless Whisperer.