Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Traditions


What you are looking at is a bone-in ham, part of the Trucker's Breakfast at Whiskey Pete's Casino in Primm, Nevada. You are not allowed to order anything referred to as a "trucker's" breakfast, by the way, and then express dismay at the enormous portions that arrive. I don't think any menu has ever been more clear about what you are going to have set down in front of you for the low-low price of $7.95. It's a deal, unless you add in the jug of Tums you will probably want to purchase on the way out.
My best friend Tiffany Morgan and I have discovered a fantastic new family/holiday tradition. Thanksgiving in Vegas. During the cool Fall months, Vegas finds itself in desperate need of cheap folk to take over its otherwise empty luxury hotel suites. Tiffany, her boyfriend Z, several of our pals from Dad's Garage, and I took full advantage of the discount room rates and airline specials - and spent a week tearing up the Strip. Tiff, Z and I stayed at the Mandalay Bay and were given 3-for-2 night rates and complimentary suite upgrades. Or should I say SWEET upgrades. I even coaxed my new boyfriend Chris to come up and check out the fancy amenities for a night. We attended the Price is Right (only fun in groups, as the chances of getting to participate are a bit slim), Penn & Teller (not my cup of tea, but a cool show if you are into magic and/or have an IQ above 160), saw Tiffany appearing in her first feature film, Stephen King's The Mist (of all three shows, easily the best -and cheapest - ticket in town). Everything else we did? Well that stays you-know-where.
My world is becoming simultaneously smaller and larger - smaller because this crazy internet fad keeps me in touch with folks, no matter how far I move away from them; larger because I keep moving so far away and coordinating world travel is such a fuss! So naturally, this evolving society demands evolving rituals. It's not realistic to try and gather everyone around the dinner table to carve a bird the size of my TV. There are too many tables!
What if, while everyone else is fighting last minute traffic and trying to calculate pounds vs. hours of cooking time, what if you were sitting comfortably in the hotel spa having a contest with your best friend over who could use the most clean towels between hot tub soakings and steam room sweatings? And who pays the $27 each for this spa visit? Well, your genius poker playing friend Z, of course, who spent 5 hours at Caeser's Palace the day before, taking money from lesser talented Texas Hold-Em players. Thanksgiving morning, instead of scalloping potatoes, you could be ordering that trucker's breakfast, or the chicken fried steak and eggs (pictured behind ham, above) and playing Pai-Gow while recovering from your persistent Vegas hangover. The pilgrims would have been proud, but better yet - the Native Americans can thank you today!

That was taking it too far, wasn't it?

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Rise and Fall of Tara Ochs

Last year I shot a small role for an independant film called The Fall. Last week I got to watch a private screening of the movie in Santa Monica, with cast and crew. I played a DA, working a trial of a kid who allegedly killed a priest. I get the feeling, by the way in which I got the job (they just called and offered me the part last minute) - that I was a replacement for someone. Well, I watched the movie, and then I walked out feeling pretty damn good about myself. It's not like I had any major dramatic moments, but I think I did a pretty good job with what I was given. Now you're probably saying to yourself, "it's no surprise, Tara, we know you are a good actor." But the truth is, I've never really seen anything dramatic that I've done and thought, yeah, that was good work. I'm not being modest, I just honestly didn't like what I saw before this weekend. And both the director and casting director were very complimentary.

So I have a little ammo in my pocket now. I feel good about my work, and whenever I start to feel down at an audition or while facing a pile of mailings, I think about that movie.

So I'm going to keep fighting for now. My goals are to keep up my video game review show and find a new theatrical agent ASAP. I will also begin taking casting workshops again and maybe try and create my own improv show. Check back with me in a month to see how much of this I've actually accomplished. I sure could use a new computer...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Videos and More Videos

Mom, Dad - I wasn't planning on sharing this with you. You won't like the language I use in my latest project, and you will definitely be uncomfortable with my very plunging neckline. So don't click on the link to my new video game review. Or at least, let me explain myself first.

You see, being an actor in LA is hard. They want you to be creative and sort of develop your own career. You can do this by making an ass of yourself on reality TV, or by writing your own movies and producing them, or by being the child of a famous person. So I decided to combine what I do best with what I do all the time, and I have begun to shoot video game reviews. I post them online and that's it. I wait and see. Maybe I keep posting reviews and create a little following, or maybe I just teach myself a little more about what I look like on camera. Or maybe in six months, after countless reviews have been posted, I take all my material and turn it into a real show that I pitch to big heavy tv types. The ones with the money. This could go anywhere or nowhere. I am mostly doing it for fun.

Honestly, it's the thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters approach. I just keep plugging away until something sticks. So far, this method has kept me in health insurance and a small developing pension. But I have been busy this month, I posted my first review, and I also submitted a 30 second spot to a local radio station contest. I don't know if they got my entry or not, but I think the spot is very funny.

So I'm sorry if you aren't thrilled with the f-bomb I drop. I agree, it's unnecessary, and in the next review I am going to ease up on the heavy language and maybe wear something a little less...boob-y. So you've been warned. At least it's not nudity. Trust me, this could have been a lot worse.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

World Domination

I can't even say that I'm terribly busy right now. Auditions have been slow, I've been avoiding the restaurant. On the other hand, I've been going to the gym a bit more regularly now. And I finished playing my latest fave game, Bioshock. Tomorrow morning I will be shooting my first ever video game review with the help of my gorgeous amazing friend Tania Gonzalez, so stay tuned for the link to that review.

So I guess the only logical reason why I haven't been blogging is probably you. I mean I have had all this time to let you know about my two week vacation to home, New Orleans and Atlanta, but instead I've remained cruelly silent. Its probably what you said the other night when we were watching Dr. Who. Well, if you don't know, then maybe we need some time apart for you to think real hard and remember.

Good. Now that you've said you're sorry, I can tell you about my two weeks of fun.

I surprised my brother in New Orleans for his 30th. My sister flew in from DC and she and I rode with my parents to New Orleans. We partied with Jay all weekend, and then went back to Seminole, AL for some quality time at Mom and Dad's house. My redneck yearning to float down a river in a tire tube was satisfied. As was sitting in a warm summer rain on the dock (see picture).

For the next week I was in Atlanta, performing with the LA team in the World Domination Theatresports Tournament at Dad's Garage. We tied for first place, although between you and me, I think we were a clear second to the rockstars who are Iron Cobra. I'm not being modest. You would quake with fear too if you saw what these freaks can do. But don't envy them. They are unnaturally funny, and will probably have ridiculous success for the rest of their lives that will make them lonely way up on their tower of amazing. Anyway, I had an incredible time playing with my old ATL pals, and I discovered two cool new things: Flip Cup and Whirly Ball. I posted a couple of videos on YouTube of Flip Cup competitions, including the one I linked here. By the way, as I get more into this internet craze, I hope you will join me and do things like comment on my stuff all the time and link my crap to yours. Also if you show me how to link your crap to mine, I'll do that. Still learning.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Grammy sent me $10

Which apparently is the going rate for docents in Utica, KS, where the Ochs etc family reunion took place. Grammy hosted 160 of us on the farm, complete with fish fry and go-cart rides to see the cattle. There was a moon bounce (good idea) and valet (bad idea - the boys just sat by the driveway drinking beers and let the cars park themselves).

Every year Grammy puts up 40 Christmas trees in her house, each one decorated in a different theme. I think 30 of them are actually lit, along with thousands of other individual Christmas decorations tucked throughout the house (nativity scenes, etc.) Grammy left the trees up this year, just for the family reunion. So the girl cousins were mostly in charge of giving "tours" of the trees - my tree to show off was the John Ochs tree (my Dad) which had an angel theme. I don't know how many times I heard mom make the joke that it was angels because it took an angel to put up with John. Hilarious, Ma.

My sister and I were both told by the oldest relative there, Helen, that we should have lots of sex. I'm pretty sure she meant with a husband, but I won't be the one to put words in the matriarch's mouth.

We drank a lot of beer and ate a ton of fresh caught fish and pheasant. There were an uncomfortable amount of kids running around, most of them belonging to my immediate cousins. Mom called it the best form of birth control - just seeing my cousins chase after their boys in the hot sun was enough to make me breathe a sigh of relief.

It's strange being at a party that big, drinking that much beer, and knowing that you can't hit on ANYBODY.

Utica is in the northwest corner of Kansas, and its population is about 125, most of whom I'm related to, I think. I haven't been in 17 years, and it was definitely smaller than I remember. Some people go to India for a spiritual check-in. Not me. I showed up Sunday morning to the local Utica (er... Methodist?) church with 60 of my closest kin, which was about three times the normal attendance. And I think I'm doing OK. Just when I think my life is a little too off the beaten path, I can remind myself - I'm an Ochs.

Just look at Great Aunt Helen - now that is a wild woman.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nobody likes a Quitter

I was going to gossip about Britney Spears. I was going to tell you all about how she showed up my second to last night at One Sunset and pissed everybody off. She didn't tip (on a free meal!), accused someone of stealing her camera (which was in her car the whole time) and ended up causing all of us to wait an extra hour before we could go home while all the managers ran around trying to keep her happy and away from paparazzi.

I was going to try and explain how I decided to quit when I heard my friend the general manager was quitting.

I've written this entry about three times, and then I hit a wall. Because the truth is, I feel horrible about quitting a job. I put several months and a lot of heart into this restaurant. And then I decided to quit. Without thinking too hard about it. When my friends at the old restaurant, where I still have a job, make comments like, "I bet you're glad you didn't quit Asia de Cuba," I get a little irritated. It's not that simple. I wanted to see One succeed. I wanted my friends to build a place like no other, where money and happiness flow like specialty cocktails. And I'm not stupid for thinking it could have happened. But it didn't, so in a sense, I failed. And then I quit, without even trying to hang in and fight a little longer.

So I'm a bit disoriented. I think I did the right thing. I am no longer working at a place where I have to stay 9 hours and shout at the top of my lungs while shoving past drunken dancers not spending any money. I'm no longer taking the chance that on any given night I might walk with less than a hundred bucks, having completely wasted my time. ADC is more consistent, and I can work whenever I need to.

So that's it. Back to the routine, the status quo returns. I can't say I'm sad, just winded. And glad to have more of my nights free again. That much is definitely an improvement.

The night I decided to quit One, a lot of crazy things happened. But my friend Brendan mentioned something that I think may be the reason I don't want to elaborate. He said that whenever possible, it's always best to leave with your dignity. So I'll let the gossip alone. You never know who's reading...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Buzz-Worthy

Well I knew it was coming, I just didn't really want to think about it too much, you know?

So I told you I took this journalism class and it was turning out to be fairly challenging, so for my final project (we can write a story on anything! GULP) I decided to make my life a little easier and write about something to which I had inside access - the opening of ONE Sunset, where I am now waiting tables. At the time, we were in the middle of four weeks of training, and I was having fun playing intrepid reporter, interviewing the management and hunting down pre-opening gossip and publicity. I also read up on a few other restaurants in town, ones that might be similar to what we were trying to do.

Throughout my research, I grew slowly more and more uneasy - not everyone involved in this new venture was on the same page, or even reading the same book.

There were two schools of thought.

1) The Altruists - my friends in management and the chef. The folks who asked me to come work with them, and for whom I'd do just about anything. They have this vision of a really fantastic place to dine. For them ONE would be incredible food and drinks, great music in a chill, laid-back but still classy atmosphere. Basically Cinderella after the Ball - she's got money and taste, but she still remembers her roots as a scullery maid. The kind of place where my tables drop lots of dough and realize that every dime was worth it. Here's your 25% in cash, Tara, you were the best server we've ever had.

No Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan-table, surrounded by drunk hangers-on ordering bottle service so they can watch the stars and party in the A-list clubs. We swear you haven't been hired to be a cocktail waitress.

2) The Money People - Ah ha. Yes, I read about New York's ONE (Little West 12th), and how the party gets going at midnight and stays open till 4am. How more booze flows than food. How, cleverly, some one in marketing realized that if you could get the celebrities to party in the back, then you could fill the rest of your tables with looky-loos, at $430 a bottle, minimum purchase required. And if people want one of those tables, well then they have to buy dinner first - come early, stay late, and SPEND.

There are plenty of places like it in L.A. already. They flare up and burn out within about six months. The latest place is Parc, previously Black Steel, and down the street is Le Deux. Celebrities, money, ropes at the door, guest lists, bottle service. I read about all these places, and then I listened to our management talk about class and fine food. And then I looked around at the restaurant, with its DJ booth in the center next to the giant bar, the cozy VIP tables in the back on a slightly raised floor, the varnished dark wood banquettes that switched to cocktail tables like transformers - more than meets the eye! It all seemed slightly contradictory.

Last week at our opening party, Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore showed up (with Ashton in tow). And CAA hosted the crowd, who were all in all very respectful, enjoying the food and promotional cocktails, quieting down for the guest speaker (celebrity psychic Laura Day) and then calmly shuffling out around 10:30. It was a Tuesday night, after all. It all seemed promising.

So last night, Friday, I show up for my first shift since the party. Gather round servers, and hear us well - we said we wouldn't be offering bottle service reservations, and that is now changing.

Flash forward to me squeezing between drunken women dancing on the furniture at 11:30 while I try to bring another round of shots to an anonymous rock band after being at work for 8 hours already. There's Masi Oka at a banquette in the other half of my section, and it crosses my mind so predictably to wish he really could feeze time. One enthusiastic dancer manages to knock over an entire wine bucket filled with ice water. The manager asks - "Do you want to make a lot of money?" as she seats two tables for bottles of Grey Goose in my section. Do I have a choice? I was scheduled at 3:30pm (to polish glasses for two hours??) and my first table was at 8!

But the music was really good (Smiths mixed in to Polyphonic Spree!!), and I was having fun, mostly. I also didn't leave the restaurant till after 2am. Did I make a ton of money? Um... not really. I made about maybe $70 more than I would have made at Asia de Cuba (where I also work). But I also worked about 3 more hours.

So when does the classy crowd show up? I think my friends the Altruists are asking the same thing. Guess we should have seen it coming... Hey, the LA Times called us "Buzz-Worthy."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Moving Home

I think about it often - being closer to the family, maybe back in Atlanta where I would be closer to Chita and Z, Stanton and Bode, theaters where I wouldn't have to pay to improvise and the crowds would actually be crowds. The grass is always greener, right? What exactly would it take, what would it mean for me and my life here?

Logistically I would have to give up the apartment and probably the furniture, maybe even the car (!). No sense dragging all that back east, just sell it and re-buy once I know where I'm going.

I've got money saved, so I could stand to be without a job for a few months, plus there's plenty of places to stay - I could go hang with the 'rents for a while, then head up to ATL and stay with the Chita. I could probably find a place to live easily enough. As for out here? Quit the restaurants, say au revoir to the commercial agent... Not much that's got me tied up here - it's not like I own property (damn) or have a kid that really likes the school he's in right now (phew).

So what do I do once I get there? Guess the possibilities are somewhat limited, since acting isn't even as viable there as it is here. I could find another restaurant, or I could get a fast track teaching degree. Maybe I could pursue that journalism bug and get an internship at the AJC. In a way, leaving town might mentally open up a few more paths for me.

Or maybe I just like trying these thoughts on every now and then, like that dress from the '70s that mom handed down to me and that barely fits. The same kind of bug that drove me to acting in the first place - the urge to be something else constantly, completely change my M.O. - like an undercover cop.

Oooo. Undercover cop. I could do that.

There's also a part of me that likes the option to run away. Guess that's why I'm perpetually single. Don't like responsibilities and obligations. I like to have the choice to leave town at a moment's notice - that's what's nice about working at a restaurant - you can always get your shifts covered. At the very least, to indulge my escapism, I plan to go visit Atlanta in August. While I'm there, who knows, maybe I'll find a reason to stay. I do miss my Chita.

Or maybe its just my bi-annual restlessness.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Long Way Around

I picture it like this: you see, far off in the distance, a shining beacon of happiness. It is your success, it is your dreams, it's what you pictured your life would be when you started picturing that kind of stuff, way back when. And you see exactly where that beacon is, gleaming on the horizon. And you pivot, 180 degrees, and you start walking confidently in the opposite direction.

I have started work at a SECOND restaurant. I do not want to be a waitress for the rest of my life. Right now, I'm already bordering on "too old" for this job. But it is a terribly easy way to feed my habit of "waiting around for the next audition." Or more truthfully, trying to figure out what's next. I am certain, however, that what's next ideally does not include waiting on more tables. And yet, here I am, now working at two restaurants, and feeling the furthest away from an acting career that I ever have.

Why would I do this? Well, it kind of just happened. I have a very dear friend who is opening up a new place, and I thought, more money, new experiences. And it is - it's a beautiful restaurant called One Sunset with a fantastic chef and great management and most likely a celebrity clientele. At the opening night party Tuesday night, Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore (with Ashton Kutcher) were there. Of course, they promised to be there for promotional purposes. But it seems like at least for the summer, One will be a pretty busy/popular restaurant, and I will be there on the weekends serving it up.

So I will stick it out for a few months, and decide which place eats less of my soul. In the meantime, feel free to come visit me at yet another high-end restaurant on the Sunset Strip. I'll buy you a free dessert and cocktail - that should keep your bill closer to $50 a person. If you don't mind tap water and beer. And chicken instead of oysters. Oh - we also serve chicken oysters. Seriously. Chicken Oysters Rockefeller. It's good. From what I hear.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What's this? What's this?

I feel a little like Jack Skellington when he discovered Christmas Town. I've just finished a homework assignment for my latest UCLA Extension course, Fundamentals of Reporting. I was going to describe it as "simple," but that would be a gross exaggeration - if you had seen me on Thursday night when we received the assignment, you would have thought someone handed me the head of my dead cat. Well, maybe YOU wouldn't have thought that, but trust me, I was ill. We were assigned to do a mini-profile on our teacher. It involved ten minutes of classtime to research on the internet, and 15 minutes of interviewing the teacher, all culminating in a 250-word paper to be written the last 30 minutes of class. Luckily the teacher had mercy on us and let us take the assignment home for the weekend. Papers could be e-mailed to him this morning. So, true to form, I woke up this "morning" at ten and proceeded to finish my paper. I figured I had two hours left of the morning, and in truth, it only took me one. That's because (and here's the point, my friends) I laid in bed for an hour thinking about what I wanted to write. And then I jumped out of bed and went straight downstairs to the laptop to get started. I practically ignored my roommate Ryan as I feverishly typed and researched and flipped through the online thesaurus. In short, I was MOTIVATED. Weird... My experience has been that writing, for me, is like going to Six Flags: about once a year I get really excited and go, and afterwards I am always nauseous and exhausted, swearing I will never go again. Except that, unlike roller-coaster driven theme parks, writing seems to be growing on me.
So I dove into this assignment this morning, and afterwards I felt a swell of pride as I re-read it... fifteen times. It's the actor's equivalent of staring in a mirror to practice your lines, I suppose. I had been planning to head upstairs to my new gameroom to reward myself with a little Rogue Galaxy before lunch. But I didn't go, instead I decided to write some more. On my blog, but still - perhaps you see where I'm going with this. My little tortured actor's soul is starting to really enjoy the writing thing. STARTING. Don't get too excited, OK? I might revert tomorrow. We'll see. For now, I'm Jack and it's Christmas. Ho ho ho.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Dharma Initiative

Isn't Lost just so good? I never thought of myself as a person that has "shows" they watch, but I have been a faithful Lost fan since the beginning, and strangely, it makes me proud. I feel like I belong to something, and that I'm invested. No longer one who fears commitment, I! The downside, I suppose, to being a fan, is that you do dumb things like I did with this guy pictured above. If you are a Lost fan, you'll know, first of all, that the man in the picture with me is Dr. Candle, a somewhat mysterious character who has maybe appeared in five episodes. For about three minutes total screen time. And I, shamefully, recognized him, and worse, insisted that I get my picture taken with him. And when I say shameful, I mean REALLY shameful. I was on the set of a commercial that we had both been cast in, so as a fellow actor I should have known better than to stalk him like a tourist on the Map-of-the-Stars'-Homes Tour. But I did, because I am a fan. And now I am posting the pic on my blog. The gentleman's real name, by the way, is Fran├žois Chau, and he is quite a good sport, although he knows very little about the outcome of the show, or for that matter about his character's storyline. But he does get to go to Hawaii every once in awhile, and he does get recognized more often than you'd think.

As for the commercial shoot, that's a cool story, too. I booked a job (I think I mentioned a few blogs back) for Direct Energy, and they liked me so much, they brought me back for another campaign, this one for three 60-second spots. It took three days to shoot, and I played the part of a sexy/nerdy tech who is a member of an A-Team of Direct Energy technicians who make sure your home (in Canada) is energy-efficient, eh? The director, Ted, is one of the coolest guys you'll ever meet, and he shot the whole thing just like an old A-Team episode. We even had a Mr.T type on the team, and our van was tricked out with flames and a tailfin. In some shots, Ted would play the A-Team theme song while we did our "take" to camera. That damn song is still in my head. Our leader on the team was this fantastic guy who's been acting for ages, John Kapelos, who you'll know as the janitor from The Breakfast Club. It was a star-studded shoot, let me tell you. That's four (count 'em) commercials shot in April, none of which you are likely to see. But I'll see the checks, baby, and that's what matters.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guess it runs in the family

...not knowing what to do with your life. Or maybe procrastinating by way of taking college courses. I'm referring to an article that my sister drew my attention to this past week. Nola Ochs attends Fort Hays State University (where my dad got his undergrad degree) at the ripe young age of 95. We don't know for sure if she's related, but the Kansas Ochs are widespread, so its most likely she's connected somehow. When she finally graduates from school, she will be the oldest person to have earned a degree. Click the link of her name for the full story. The point is, we Ochs just don't seem to be able to settle down and pick a damn career. I can't be blamed for constantly threatening to quit acting, when it's actually IN MY BLOOD to remain undecided. My sister frequently calls me with doubts, Jay took 3 years to pick a major, and my mother went back to school after having three kids! It's just in my DNA, you see, to go back to school and pick a new career. As often as I like. Nola, by the way, is studying history. Which I find joyfully ironic. We Ochs love easy A's.

So, I have until I'm 90, you see, to make up my mind about what I want to do with my life. Plenty of time. Plenty of time. Another thing about us Ochs - we live FOREVER.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don't Buy Star Wars Lego 2 for the DS

It has to be posted somewhere. I am appalled at the nerve of Lucas Arts, Amaze Ent, Nintendo, etc etc for releasing this mockery. First off, I bought SWLego2 for the PS2 for my brother this past Christmas, and he practically crapped himself with joy. I was officially declared best gift giver EVER. I played SWL2 on my roommates PSP and had to lock the door to keep him from taking it away from me. Until I couldn't watch the screen anymore through all the drool. What a brilliant game - hilarious, fun, nostalgic... Good personalized platforming fun. And so when I saw the DS version sitting proudly on the shelves, cleverly disguising itself as the exact same game, I bit. I practically knocked over an 8-year-old debating the Pokemon releases to get my copy. FORTY dollars that is so GONE now, that I would have rather mailed it to my cellphone company. I should have bought 4 tickets to Bridge to Terabithia. It would have been a better way to spend my cash.

This game is a textbook example of the things that can go wrong when repackaging games for different consoles. It's clear after a few minutes that the power of the DS was so minimal that most of the gameplay had to be drastically trimmed down. No more funny jokes like a pair of stormtroopers bathing in a hottub. All I got was one lousy rebel taking a pee in the Hoth station, and he didn't even react when I shot him while his Lego pants were down, except to shake his head disdainfully. Which is what I now do to Lucas Arts. Shame, Shame, Shame. The graphics engine is ABYSMAL. My characters and other objects are constantly disappearing. The camera gets stuck behind walls, the puzzles have been stripped down to the most mundane tasks, and I have had to restart levels a number of times because of glitches like moronic AI getting "caught" in repetitive regeneration. The second screen is practically useless, except for switching characters, which I do on a regular basis to fix glitches. I LOVE Star Wars AND Legos, so naturally I fought with all my heart to like this game. I trudged through Chapters 4 and 5, but by the time I got to 6, I couldn't take it anymore. I am offended, and I want my money back. I want my hours back, too. By my calculation, Lucas Arts and company owe me about $167.32. Please do me a favor and don't buy this crap.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

And another thing

There's a pile of stories on the floor next to my blog that need to be folded and put away. I can't even face this blog until I get through that pile, and frankly, I haven't had the willpower to relive some of those events with anything other than a whiny recounting. Can you understand what I mean? I'll give you the laundry list, and then you'll get where I'm coming from. OK, let's see - when was the last time I blogged? Hang on, I'll go check, even I've forgotten at this point...

Oh yeah! HA. That's funny. I was talking about positive thinking. So then: My Diet Coke commercial aired with me thankfully recognizable - you've probably seen me if you watch American Idol. I'm the one they refuse to vote off. Just kidding. And then, let's see - my car got broken into, the window shattered, the top ripped (it's a convertible), and my wallet with all my cards, makeup, and clothes were in the bag that was taken. PS - If you are ever on the receiving end of a story about a car break-in, PLEASE do EVERYTHING in your power to resist asking "why the person left their bag on the seat." This is, in my book, the MOST ignorant thing anyone can say, short of blatant racism or jokes about suicide. Even if you say it while hugging the person and/or laughing, SERIOUSLY, if you learn nothing else from my blog: DO NOT make a comment about leaving a bag/purse/anything on a car seat.

You see what I'm saying about laundry? Anyway, that break-in was 2 days before my birthday, which was made awesome by my stellar roommates. And then I spent a week home in Pensacola celebrating my Dad's 60th birthday and retirement. After that I started performing in a new show at ACME created by the Overdroid which is called Cartoon Overlord and is really hard to do but fun. It happens on Sundays. And I booked another commercial, this one for Direct Energy (a regional spot which will air in Texas). The booking is especially notable because it is my first with my new commercial agent which makes them and me both breathe a sigh of relief.

Each of these events/updates deserves its own blog. But I'm afraid I may never blog again if I try to catch up with all of that. Besides, I feel like I've told that damn break-in story enough times already to fill a bible. So there's the brief catch-up. I'm sorry I haven't been more forthcoming with the blogs. Hopefully we can get back on track now, you and me.

One other thing I'm realizing as I read this, it seems like I've been very busy, but truly what's filled up most of my time is none of these things. Which makes me think, if I really put my mind to it, I could be a robot. A very productive robot. Hmm.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Secret

It's a little creepy, how such a cheesy DVD can happen to be watched at just the moment before things start going really well in your life. The video is called THE SECRET, and it's this positive-thinking self-help type video that Oprah got us all to watch recently. It plays like it's been directed by whoever ruined the Da Vinci Code movie. The Secret, by the way, is to think positively and visualize what you want as if you already had it. Apparently they didn't apply their own secret to visualizing some better editing and effects, but they aren't completely crazy. I watched the DVD last weekend, and now I am having the awesomest week I've had in a while. Maybe its coincidence, but I won't be the one to say it.

My friend Tiffany, after watching The Secret, booked 3 weeks on a Stephen King movie, OUT OF ATLANTA. Anni watched it and now gets to park in the best spots wherever she goes. She's also working on visualizing a house for herself. I watched it, and within this one week, I stumbled upon a friend who wants to help me make my fleeting idea of combining my gaming, writing and acting talents into a viable commodity. (Sorry I can't be more specific, but if it all happens the way I'm visualizing, trust me you'll be the first to know exactly what I'm up to!) Also this week, I met and signed with a great new commercial agency - Coast to Coast. AND my journalism teacher? Get this: at the beginning of class this week, he calls me out in front of everyone to tell me I'm "ready for the papers", a great writer, and he would write me a referral to any paper "Right NOW." Seriously, this stuff is for REAL. And there's more, that's just some of the rockin' stuff that has made me realize...maybe...just MAYBE... there's something to all this corny hippy California feel-good voodoo. MAYBE. Check it out for yourself. Supposedly you can watch the whole video on You Tube. Someday soon you'll be able to see the future on You Tube as well. I won't be surprised.

Thanks for the really kind emails/comments after my last post. I guess I'm a little more transparent than I originally thought. You all know me too well. That's it! No more painfully soul-searching posts. It's all Video Game reviews from now on!! HA HA! You'll never hear my cry for support through a scathing review of the latest God of War release! ("Kratos should just give up... Why even bother fighting those big bossess? He's just going to find that the world doesn't appreciate him and no matter how many dungeons he clears, he'll never clear the dungeon that is his soul... I give this game 4 lonely sobs.")

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Seeking Representation

I was all ready to give my agent hell. There are some who would characterize me as a bit of a push-over, a doormat, perhaps a martyr, but I was about to prove them all wrong. You see, I know a last straw when I see one. Its yellow, and... dry.

I got a call from a casting person who we'll just call Lynne, saying my agent had "f***ed up." I had been requested for a commercial audition and my agent had never gotten the message, much less passed the message on to me. Lynne strongly inferred that, had I been there, I would have had a job. It was the bittersweet end of a long chapter of missed calls, disorganization, unavailability, and general laziness on the part of my agent. Sadly, I wasn't surprised. Lynne referred me to a new commercial agent, and I was on the phone with them the same day, scheduling an interview.

The only thing left to do was confront my agency. Here's the problem with that. My agency also represents me theatrically. So if I cut them loose commercially, which is where I make all my money currently, then I lose them theatrically as well. Theatrical jobs are anything and everything that will impress your friends and family, from movies to television. Commercial agents are fairly easy to land, depending on how many sheep you want to share the fold with, and with my resume, I'm not worried. The theatrical agent? Not so much. Was all this drama worth losing my theatrical representation? Well, yes. Time to set the SS Tara out to sea, and find out what kind of waters she can handle.

So I got my agent on the phone and waited patiently for the excuse. It would be like a pebble to this stone giant. My agent began: "I'm sincerely sorry about what happened yesterday, but the truth is -

I don't want to do this anymore."

OK, so maybe it was David's pebble, in a fairly unexpected slingshot. She went on to tell me that the office is shutting down, the money's not there, neither is the passion and nobody is capable enough to take over the reigns. (Does this sound familiar? My therapist would nod smugly right now, had I not stopped seeing her because she cost money I'd rather spend on shoes). My agent would help me find other representation, but it was end of the rails for this train.

So here I am, set adrift. A free agent without an Agent. I feel a bit like Custer, maybe. So I'm probably not gonna die, but there is this feeling that if I can't find new representation, maybe its time to move on. I've always been big on signs from above, (asking for them, misinterpreting them, failing to apply them to the bigger picture). This is a turning point for me. Either I will find the right agent and so will begin the history of a successful actor, or maybe I just needed someone to take off the golden handcuffs and put me in a position of nothing-to-lose.

My life has felt like a holding pattern recently. Now I really am cut loose. No boyfriend, no agent, no debt, and I'm caught up on the Heroes episodes. Now what?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Hate Homework

LOS ANGELES, Ca - A 30-year old Burbank woman was astounded to discover this week that UCLA Extension courses require attendees to "learn stuff", a roommate reported. "I shoulda taken that wine-tasting course instead," Tara Ochs muttered, as she begrudgingly logged off her MySpace page and began an assignment due tomorrow.

UCLA Extension course "Basic Skills in Writing for the News Media" is offered every semester at UCLA, and is a pre-requisite to obtaining a Journalism Certificate through the highly respected university. It's title is "misleading" though, complains the Burbank resident. "News Media could be anything," insists Ochs, "from fashion magazines to entertainment industry broadcasts."

Ochs, who is only enrolled in the single once-a-week Winter semester course, has expressed interest in a career change, specifically in the field of Video Game Journalism, said a long-time friend. Her penchant for playing console-based RPGs was also noted by her roommate, Ryan Smith.

But the UCLA course is no tutorial mode for impulsive career-hoppers, and it does not lend itself to a gifted imagination. "This course is not for writers with a capital W," warns the professor of the Basic Skills course. A career in journalism is a low-paying, thankless job which requires self-motivation and a great deal of reporting skills, according to Professor Gougis.

Which is not what the former-actor Ochs wants to hear. "Why do I continue to flush out career paths like this? Acting, video games, journalism? Where's the driving urge to be a lawyer or an engineer?" Ochs' parents have also been asking their daughter similar questions.

Tara Ochs is still enrolled at UCLA, as of press time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

You Told Me So

..or I'm wrong, you're right. In a blind taste test, I would recognize the flavor of my foot 9 times out of 10. Tastes like humility with a dash of that powder I use to prevent blisters during long runs. Now you probably want to know what has earned you this recognition.

I shot a Diet Coke commercial yesterday. Ah.. its all coming back to you now. That's right...

Last Friday I had an audition for a Diet Coke commercial. Auditions have been picking up lately, which is both good and bad. Because I am still stuck working all day shifts at Asia de Cuba (a WHOLE 'nother blog), each day brings the fear that shift and audition will conflict. Today they did and I missed an audition for Lowe's. PISSED. Anyway, I go to this audition last week for Diet Coke, and all they want me to do is: have a conversation with the girl across from you while drinking your Diet Coke (blech). Then, Finish your drink. Then, try to take a sip from your empty glass, notice its empty, and give that signature Tara-smirk. Easy, right? Sigh... Wrong.

Take 1: Don't ask me why I do this, but when they say Action, I take the can of coke nearby and add more to the glass!! I DON'T KNOW WHY!! Stop asking!! I just did it, which as we all know, means it took more sips to finish that baby. CUT!

Take 2: Less coke this time, and no creative urge over-taking me, I go to chug down the soda in one brave gulp... except I take a huge chunk of ice with me, which in awkward close-up, I now have to SPIT back into the cup. Charming, no?

No. The rest of the day I spent bending the ear of anyone who would listen, complaining that my career was a joke, that I couldn't even drink a coke on cue. I was miserable. Mom heard about it, Shane, Nic... The entire cast of my weekly improv show "PD!".

Callback. No cans or chunks of ice nearby. Booking. Searching for recipes for low-fat humble pie.

Yes, the worst audition is the one you book. Thanks, for making my career choice even more enigmatic. The shoot went fine. I felt a bit like a can of coke, myself. Obviously we all know who is the star of this spot. They shot the back of my shoulder and hand, reaching for an empty can. No drinking for yours truly (thank God). The word on the set is that the spot will air during the Academy Awards. Let's hope I'm still in it when that happens.

And yes, you won't hear me complaining about another audition for at least a week. I couldn't bear your signature smirks.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back to School

I used to have a re-ocurring dream where I would be starting a new semester at college, except that for some reason I couldn't remember when or where any of my classes were. Apparently I had signed up for a full load, but not written a thing down. If you ever see my college planner, you'll know this is a VERY likely scenario. After a sleepless night of running around my nightmare campus, I would wake up and wonder how I went through three years of FSU without this exact situation ever happening once.

That familiar lump in my stomach has taken up residence again as I apply for a single extension course at UCLA. I'm going to be taking an evening class, Basic Skills in Writing for the News Media. Or is it News Media Skills of Basic Writing? Which is more correct? Or Correct-er? Should I be double-spacing after each sentence? Will I walk into a classroom full of twenty-year-olds laughing at me for showing up without my pants on? As I write this, the UCLA webpage has informed me I must wait 24 hours before I can know if I'm enrolled in the class! I'm a ball of nerves and I haven't even bought my textbook yet... Oh no. I have to go to the campus bookstore. I'm too old to be in a campus bookstore. They'll think I'm an Alum, looking for logo sweats. Who is UCLA anyway? The Trojans? No, crap, that's USC.

What I find most amusing is that through all of this, as I try to talk myself down "off the ledge" with sensible worse-case scenario lectures, I realize: I'm not afraid of wasting $300. No. What scares me more than that is the thought of failing this class. I could live with wasting a few Wednesday nights learning that I don't give a crap about non-fiction. As long as I get an "A".

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lucky 07

Its lucky 7, its the year of James Bond (007, duh). Oh my God, its already 2007. How did this happen? I moved to LA in '01. I'm feeling so overwhelmed I can barely decide what to write in this blog. I felt like I needed to communicate with all of you - after all, two major holidays have just passed. But all I've been doing is working at the restaurant again and trying to figure out how to audition, earn money, do shows and take classes at night, all while not going insane. I certainly can't buy a new gaming system for myself, not right now. I just finished Kingdom Hearts 2, and I'm experiencing that usual post-game disorientation. I wander around the house, unsure of what a normal person does with minutes and hours. I stuff some of them into my new book, Eldest (its the follow-up to Eragon - DONT GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!). The house is relatively clean, I suppose I could do a load of laundry. I've even found time to start running again. But with this new year upon me, I suppose I ought to be stablishing more lofty goals. I've picked out a Journalism class at UCLA that I think I will take, and that's about the extent of my resolutions to date. I'm afraid I can't offer you much of anything insightful or inspiring these days. I'm sorry. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.