So the other thing that you're going to need if you move to L.A. besides some money is sunblock. Or at least a hat. I was speaking with another person who grew up in Texas yesterday (note how I refused to say a "fellow Texan" and there are LOTS of "them" here) and she agreed that the sun in California is just different. It's much more intense.

1. Catering: Animal House

I worked my first private party with Wolfgang Puck. It was a birthday party for some very wealthy person. I don't know who it was . . . I mean I don't know the name or even WHO was throwing the party because all the men looked pretty much the same--middle-aged, frat boys. The house was Spanish-inspired on the outside and decorated with dark furniture. There were swords hanging from the walls and the master bedroom had swords, various types of armor, and an antler chandelier. It was a Moroccan-themed costume party (we ate very well that night) complete with gambling tables and a fortune teller game that looked like it came out of the movie "Big." (This is the land of movies, so it might have.) The guests looked great in their raiment. The backyard was beautiful. There was a view of the valley twinkling bellow and a heated, mulit-level hot tub. But the best part of the house was the part I didn't get to see. Each corner of the house had a turret with a room at the top. The evening started out badly. The fuse in the garage kept blowing so the chefs couldn't get the ovens working, lots of the staff got lost on the way there, and the two captains assigned were snapping at each other when I walked in and continued until the end of the night when the birthday cake was delivered. Ah, the cake.  The cake was in the shape of a wild boar with chocolate icing on the outside. There were white chocolate tusks, chocolate ears, a chocolate tail, and the inside was . . . you guessed it . . . red velvet. Pretty gory but really, really delicious. The frat house aspect of the party didn't really hit me until the end of the evening when the alcohol had begun to kick in. There was one drunken guest who decided to relieve himself in the garden. Not once but twice. Apparently, I offended him when I rerouted traffic in order to save myself and my fellow servers the annoyance of watching a drunk man piss against the wooden fence of his friend's multi-million dollar home. He staggered over to me and said, "You act like it's wrong or something!" Fortunately, he was standing in some broken glass when he confronted me about my behavior and the captain shooed him away. Toward the end of the night one of the other guests offered the bartender $100 to do a shot with her. She smiled but refused. "Good," he slurred as he stuffed the bill back in his wallet," cuz I've only got eight more of those." And finally, after dinner the band took karaoke requests. One beer-bloated guest plowed through the crowd, grabbed Michael (a fellow server) by both shoulders and shoved him up against the wall and out of the guest's way. And a good thing too. Otherwise, the guest never would have made it to the living room in time to scream out the last lines of "Walk This Way" with his red-faced buddies. He didn't hurt Michael but both of us were very, very surprised to say the least. The way it was headed, I assumed that I would see at least one naked person by the end of the evening . . . the hot tub and all . . . but we packed up and got out by midnight. Fortunately.

2. Catering Part II: The bar mitzvah for ________'s son

Since I have to omit celebrity names, I've decided to do it this way. ________'s family rented a theater that's usually used for small concerts (kind of like Irving Plaza). There were passed hors d'oeuvres, three different buffets, a carving station, a dessert buffet, two coffee stations, and three open bars (two downstairs and one upstairs). Just when I thought all the food had been placed, up rolled an In and Out Burger truck and a Pink's Hot Dog station suddenly appeared inside the theater. For those of you who haven't traveled to L.A., In and Out Burger and Pink's are the fast food pride of the city. Kind of like Grey's Papaya is to New York. I've eaten at In and Out Burger and it's good but it's still fast food. The fries aren't that great though. You'll have to decide for yourself about Pink's. (Thanks to Mr. Upton Sinclair I will never eat another hot dog or any other type of sausage.) Anyway, the band was fantastic. There was also a DJ spinning the latest hip hop beats. Apparently __________ showed up but I didn't see him. There were photographers and news reporters, etc., etc. The family showed a movie they did about the bar mitzvah boy. It was all about how he was the middle child so nobody really cared about him. On the count of three . . . one . . . two . . . three . . . aaaawwwwwwww!!!   Poor ________'s middle child! One of the fantasy sequences in the movie showed him being put in a box and shipped to Mexico where he was put to work in a factory. The crowd laughed but I wonder how The Help felt about that little bit. They were easy to spot in the crowd and the only truly dignified and polite people there. But the most fascinating part of the whole evening was the teenage girl fashion parade. We're doing quite a number on our young women, my friends. 98% of them looked like different versions of Paris Hilton. I forget who said this to me but it's absolutely true: everyone woman in Los Angeles wants to look 30. It doesn't matter if they're 13 or 50 or 90. At first I was alarmed. I wanted to snatch the stiletto heels off their spindly, knobby-kneed legs and say, "Does your MOTHER know what you're wearing??!!!!!" But of course their mothers were standing right next to them wearing exactly the same things. And at long last, I saw . . . my first pair of really, really fake boobs.

3. The Biz

I landed some extra work this week. I worked on a film as a . . . are you sitting down? A cheerleader. The shoot was fun. The sequence we did was really campy. The hero dudes step off the bus and see a sea of cute girls in skimpy outfits stretching in time to silly music. The crew was nice to us and they fed us very, very well. It's nice to find a job outside of the food industry where you get paid AND they feed you. I met a few nice people and decided that I definitely need to learn how to do my hair. The things that L.A. women are able to do with their hair is kind of amazing. The only bad thing about the shoot was the sun. We worked outside until the sun went down. Fortunately, the make-up team walked around all day offering sunblock to us but some people didn't take advantage and were very sorry the next day. If you come here take heed: buy sunblock and use it liberally. "So, Berda," you ask. "I've been wondering . . . is there REALLY more work for actors in L.A.?" Well, friends, the answer is YES. Things are really starting to roll. Already I can barely keep up with all of the background calls and the strike hasn't even been over that long. And without even really trying, I've been called in for 5 auditions. I haven't been able to go to all of them but this is a very good sign. So my goal for the coming weeks is to do a mailing. Everyone I've spoken with here has an agent that they met through doing mailings. So mass mailings seem to work here. Of course, the question is what level of agent do you get when you do a mailing? And the answer is: You get a "starter" agent. Then when you book some jobs, you trade up. And an actors' website made something very clear to me: An agent gets 10% of your earnings so YOU have to do all the work. Don't rely on your agent to get you work. Sometimes, they can help you get in the door but ultimately, it's YOUR effort and YOUR talent that will get you noticed. So stick to those acting classes, friends. There are plenty of pretty people but can they act? Can they show up? Can they memorize their lines? Are they good to work with? For example, the main actress in the cheerleading movie showed up not knowing her one line for a short scene and then rolled her eyes when the director asked her what the problem was.

Also Kenny took me to an independent film screening on the Warner Brothers lot. The film is called "True Grits" and it's a documentary about cheating. There's an urban legend that Al Green's wife poured hot grits on him when she found out that he was cheating on her. So spliced into the interviews with people were hilarious scenes of women venting about their cheating man then pouring hot grits on him. After watching the movie, the audience got quite animated during discussion. All in all a great night.

4. General

On a walk around the Beverly Center mall, I noticed that most of the mannequins have oversized boobs as opposed to the undersized ones of New York mannequins. Then I saw my second pair of really, really fake boobs bouncing their way down the hall and barely contained by a barbie pink sweater. Also, I bought an NFT guide to L.A. and hope to start getting out and socializing more. And Kenny introduced me to a great coffee shop called the Bourgeois Pig.

5. Driving

Little Echo had her tires balanced for a second time since the flat tire. Fortunately, my roommate Aaron called the garage since he knows the owner and complained for me. It's sad but true. Cars get fixed only if there's a man around telling the other man what needs to be done.  #%#*Q#(()#*&%  The owner even admitted to me that the mechanic only balanced the back tires, not the front ones even though he rotated all of them. But Echo's back in shape and ready for a possible road trip . . . where you ask? Seattle? Portland? San Francisco? Nope. Orem, Utah. Lisa, please explain.

Miss you! Come visit or please write!

Waiting to audition . . . under an orange tree?

On Hollywood Blvd.

Also on Hollywood Blvd.

     Cloudy day on Venice Beach