Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
My wife used to try to convince me that this was something I suffered from and I would counter; I simply had a lot of interests.
She bought me the book, Driven By Distraction, which only proved my point.
I am not a doctor or a therapist, although I've seen my fill of both.
I feel fairly confident about my self-diagnosis, which by the way is more likely to indicate a person dealing with manic-depression than ADHD, which is probably my situation.
Again my personal opinion, I feel I need to repeat this on too regular of a basis.
The Proof Is In the Pudding
I do get bored with things in life which has kept me moving, exploring, trying new things, meeting lots of different people from all sorts of backgrounds.
A skill that would serve me well if I were a politician.
If I was a news journalist.
I'm not, but it was always a dream job of mine.
If I had my own reality TV show.
Not yet, but someday maybe. I have been approached by a producer but the devil is in the details, as they say.
That Being Said
For my job in life as a set dresser, I have spent hours scrapping lantern panes with a razor blade to get the frosting off
A task someone with ADHD would likely not be able to do for very long. (Again, my opinion I have no real knowledge of ADHD besides what I've read)
I have driven by myself across the country many times; again something that I don't think an ADHD type would be a good candidate.
I run marathons; they're long and boring and require no attention span whatsoever, at least in my opinion; just put one foot in front of another for 26.2 miles.
I practice Brazilian Juijitsu; I'm a brown belt on the cusp of a black. One of my best attributes is my patience and lack of change in my breath; something I acquired from my many years of yoga.
Oh Yeah Yoga
I have been practicing yoga off and on for over 30 years.
Maybe that has been my "shield" as it were for ADHD.
I Should Get Counseling
With this I don't disagree; I never have; however finding the right counselor is a journey in itself.
One of the best I ever had retired to write books on the matter. Another one also retired, telling me I had the tools I needed and additional sessions would be a waste of money.
One said my therapy would have little more effect unless I was able to get my family to participate as well; this was back in high school and my mother insisted I "get help". When I came home with my therapist's suggestion, not only did the family not go in but I also never went back because he obviously didn't know what he was talking about.
Juggling with My Life
So as I continue to be "Driven By My Distraction", back in California after many years on location, I find myself in the same career, doing the same job, having several friends that I have known since high school and even junior high. I wish I had friends from before that but unfortunately at that age it is more up to your parents to help maintain those relationships and neither were very helpful in regards to that.
I started juggling early in my life and I have never maintained it for very long; but I still keep it up, I do it as therapy and honestly I really enjoy flipping semi-odd things like sledge hammers, axes and blades
Location, Location, Location
Now, we all know this typically is a real-estate reference; but for me it fits in nicely with having visited so many of the Game of Thrones locations, before they were GOT locations.
Of course this is gem of the bunch. We visited there a few years after their "civil war", (no war is civil) but we were lucky to be among the first "tourists" back visiting; there were areas still littered with land mines and the family who lived next to the apartment we stayed in told tales of where snipers were across the way and how everyone in the seemingly idilic city were armed to the teeth.
I almost drowned there, a story for another time, that said we were there in winter and got to experience "long nights".
Again we were at several of the GOT locations before they had acquired that note of distinction.
Spain, Ireland and Los Angeles
OK these are really a stretch.
We spent several months on the island of Majorca which is part of Spain but an island whereas all of the GOT filming took place on the mainland.
Meanwhile, in Season 3's "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", a few shots of an actor-bear (Bart the Bear) were filmed in Los Angeles, USA. Due to various laws against international transport of large animals, the production team could not simply fly the actor-bear into the United Kingdom.
And then there's Ireland; even though we spent a month driving all over Ireland we never did make it into Northern Ireland, which is of course, while on the same island a different country. There's been plenty of controversy regarding that, of course and a topic I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. So I'll stick with Croatia and Iceland but I would like to visit those other locations to be sure.
I've had this book for a while and just yesterday decided to go through it and see where I stood, so to speak.
Only 117 out of 1000, and I thought I was well traveled.
I've only been to 2 continents, Europe and North America.
Like any of these sort of "bucket lists", it's got plenty of "issues" and biases, but if you don't take it too seriously, it's kind of fun.
I can say I've been to 47 out of 50 US states and 26 of the highest elevation points; (my daughter and I started "collecting" high points and are actually members of a High Point club when we hit the lowest of the high-points in Florida.
But many of these states were essentially "fly-overs" sometimes plowing through at high-speeds in the middle of the night. It might have well been a video game at that point.
However on the other hand, I've often gone well out of my way to visit some of various state's iconic experiences, even one's that I may dread, the country's biggest state fair, in Texas of course certainly ranks high on that "list".
I've swam from Alcatraz; not on above list but one of my most memorable adventures.
Climbed the stairs to One World Trade Center, 2,226 stairs to the top, by the way; also not on the list, visiting it is but by elevator is not quite the same.
That Being Said
I still want to hit more high-points with Skye, knowing full well that we'll never get all 50; Alaska would probably cost $25,000 each and I don't force having access to those kind of funds anytime soon.
But we both really want to hit Whitney, which ironically is in our home state and the highest point in the continental US. We've hike in areas all around it and even camped at it's base-camp once. But it will take some co-ordinating and getting a reservation, not to mention getting physically prepared for it.
Getting my Black belt in Brazilian Juijitsu
I started training over 20 years ago and have made it all the way to brown belt, but have not trained regularly in over 4 years, so I'm a bit rusty. But I know I will someday be able to tie a black belt around my waist.
Going to Mongolia for the Naadam Festival
It's one of my goals for this year. It will depend greatly on my financial situation as well as work commitments.
The Boston Marathon
I pretty much thought my running days were behind me and then I signed up again to run the 50K at Burning Man. So as long as I'm getting back into marathon shape, I might as well keep the dream of Boston alive.
Swimming with Great Whites
In a cage, of course, but I would very much want to see one of these magnificent creatures up close and personal.
While We're on the Subject
There are several animals I would like to see in person. Africa's "Big 5", of course, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo; I would add cheetah and hippo to that at the very least.
I want to see a polar bear in it's habitat, which is very quickly disappearing thanks to global warming.
I did see a condor come up from the depths of the Grand Canyon and then take a ride on the wind to glide high above me; that was truly a treat of a lifetime.
I want to see the Great Wall of China, maybe even run a marathon on it.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg, which I would like to make it Antartica at some point as well, which is again quite and expensive journey.
Werking and Getting High
I was working in the film business as a set dresser over 30 years ago which is sort of amazing on one hand and kind of sad on another level.
I was a lead man or rather lead person for many years mostly for Cindy and I worked on some pretty impressive shows and then I was set decorator for several years.
I even served as Vice-President for the Set Decorator Society of America for a term and was on the Executive Board for two years before that.
So on a certain level there is a seen-that, done-that attitude. but more to the point I don't want my job to overtake my life; I don't want to take it home with me, which is somewhat ironic in that I don't have a home to take it home to.
It really struck me how engrained this business is in me and how much apart of my persona it has become when a few years back I received an update on my pension hours, which showed I had over 70,000 worked hours; keep in mind, I was working rather minimally for several years when I was home-schooling Skye and my 10 years as a set decorator had my weekly hours capped at 52 hours per 5-day week although I was probably working closer to 70 hours a week, except on Barbershop 3, but that's another story or perhaps blog post or....
Recently I have been day-playing as a set dresser back in Los Angeles and thankfully I've really been enjoying it.
I remember now how much I like doing the job.
Even when it demands me to do something I am not particularly comfortable with; for instance working all day in a "man-lift" fully extended very high in the air.
Scared of Heights
I think I developed a fear of heights when I was in my teens and my dad forced me to finish the climb up to Angels Landing at Zion National Park There's no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.
Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes and is an unforgettable short adventure hike worthy of all bucket lists.
"Anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it can be mentally challenging with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds. People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the final stretch but can enjoy the trail all the way to Scout Lookout." from the Park's trail map.
I was so scared I didn't even get to enjoy the view and I think it damaged me in regards to my ability to manage my fear of heights.
However in the film business it can be hard as in you might find yourself unemployed if you're not willing and able to perform certain tasks.
Honestly it was scary working in a little one man lift fully extended but I never felt endangered. I had my safety harness and I was working on a flat and stable surface. I was just really high up in the air.
Getting sunburned and wind burned were more damaging at the end of the day than dealing with one of my personal demons.
It was a beautiful day and a wonderful view.
The Blvd. of Broken Dreams
The first time I was on a set was when I was 17; A high school buddy of mine had some ins and we made some nice fast cash over the summer. Beat the hell out of working at some fast food joint or working in a mall both of which I'd already done and had more than my fill of.
I never though that I'd end up making a career of moving furniture for the stars. I figured, I'd put a few months in and then go back to writing my great American novel, like my heros Keourac, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald.
33 years later and I'm still at it.
Granted, I've had some breaks and diversions but at the end of the day, when I received a letter about my pension and it shows I've got over 70.000 credited hours, I obviously am a lifer.
I've certainly had a good run. I've worked with some of the best directors out there; Ridley Scott, David Lynch, James Cameroon, David Fincher, to name-drop just a few.
I've been paid to travel around the world.
I've joked around with Robin Williams, flirted with Jaime Lee Curtis who flirted back, shot hoops with Rollergirl, got training advice from the Terminator; swaped stories with a guy in the movie Platoon.
I've also had more than my fair share of tragedies; from freak accidents, to early cancer victims, AIDS and so much in between.
There's a reason my spirit creature is a cockroach.
I used to tell Cindy that ideally I would like to live a semi-nomadic life, which for many years is exactly what we did. We had a home base in Los Angeles and then would go on location on jobs.
I loved it.
Then Cindy kept getting jobs in Atlanta and the "commute" between LA and Georgia become a bit much so Skye and I eventually moved out and joined Cindy.
But it was too landlocked for me and honestly the South is not my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, I made a ton of great friends and the great majority of people from those parts are not racist rednecks, but as you got further from the city the number of Confederate flags in people's yard increased considerably; to some of these folk "the South Will Rise Again" is no joke. But like I said, they are the exception not the norm.
That said, a very important aspect to that lifestyle being bearable is "semi"; full nomadic which is how I'm living now for the most part is very, very hard in this day and age. And can get to be pretty pricey or dangerous is one chooses to skimp, by say sleeping in one's car or going to cheap motels in less than lovely neighborhoods which is where cheap motels are.
Since I wasn't working and from what everyone I was saying there wouldn't be much work for several weeks I decided to head out of town.
But where to go?
That's when things got a little crazy.
A Mixed Bag
The pics that follow are from LA, Joshua Tree and Lone Pine.
I've been pin balling around so I tend to lose track.
I had spent a good amount of time in Lone Pine many years ago when we were working on GI Jane. Not a lot had changed, which was nice.
I did some camping just outside of Bishop.
One of the main reasons I was in Bishop was to deal with transferring my truck from Georgia to California. I figured the DMV would be much less crowded and a bit more pleasant than those in LA.
And I was right. I didn't have an appointment and still managed to get out within a couple of hours which included a trip to the bank because I didn't have enough cash on me and they didn't accept credit cards.
It was super cold once the sun went down, so after 2 nights of uncomfortable sleep, I decided to head to warmer regions.
Rooms at Circus Circus were $18 a night; It'd be silly to pass up such a bargain.
Somehow I ended up at a pawn shop buying a camera and a couple lenses to I could start practicing a little photojournalism before my (hopefully) upcoming adventure to Mongolia.
As always the people watching was wonderful and beyond entertaining....
I veered off course and ended up using my 4-wheel drive for the first time in ages to get up a hill to check out the wild flowers that were in full bloom.
The Boys of Summer
The lyrics to Don Henleys song about longing to return to the past hits home for me on so many levels.
"Nobody on the road,
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer's out of reach
Empty lake, empty streets
The sun goes down alone
I'm driving by your house
Don't know you're not home
But I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on, baby
I can tell you my love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone
I never will forget those nights
I wonder if it was a dream
Remember how you made me crazy
Remember how I made you scream
I don't understand what happened to our love
But, baby, I'm gonna get you back
I'm gonna show you what I'm made of
I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun
I see you walking real slow
And you're smiling at everyone
Returning back to LA, I've been forced to deal with a lot of harsh realities.
I'm single again after being married for over 25 years and in that same relationship for several years prior to getting married.
Los Angeles has become incredibly expensive beginning to get to San Francisco and NYC of affordability or rather lack thereof.
In regards to work in the film business, Los Angeles is definitely going through a slow period right now. I know the business has always been one of feast or famine but after being in Atlanta and Louisiana for the last several years where most of the time there isn't enough experienced crew for the amount of filming going on, coming back to where the film business started or least had it's golden years; it was shocking to see how slow it was.
Calm Before the Storm
I did manage to pick up a few days here and there on a couple of projects, but it didn't seem like much was going on so I decided to head up towards Mammoth Lakes and enjoy the mountain air and come up with a game plan.
I also did a little camping in Malibu before I got rained out and my tent and gear got soaked. So I hung that stuff up to dry in my storage unit and headed for the hills.
I got up to Mammoth on a Sunday and realized a couple of things; the weekend was obviously going to be super packed and crowded and Mammoth is very expensive. So I dropped down to Bishop to explore and recuperate.
After several days, I decided it was time to head back to LA, visit some friends and try to stir up some work.
As fate would have it, I managed to learn the hard way how seriously LA takes it's parking enforcement. I had parked my truck close to a driveway. Ok I was literally in the driveway, probably 8 inches past the part where it begins to slope down. There was still plenty of room for them to back out and I was only going to be a few hours.
A few hours later when I returned my truck was gone. I walked around for around 20 minutes hoping I had parked somewhere else, finally giving up and returning to my friends to get a few hours of sleep and deal with it in the morning.
I woke up early and walked a few miles over to the bar we had been to the night before even though we had Ubered over. I figured maybe I did something silly and I didn't recall. But honestly knowing that wasn't the case. I was freaking out at this point because my truck had everything I owned in it, or it least the most vital things, computer, , luggage, important paperwork like my original birth certificate, passport, bank documents etc.
I headed over to the police station and lo and behold my truck had indeed been towed and was at an impound lot several miles away.
I was ready to make the long walk over in the rain. I was in no rush and didn't feel like getting a cab. My credit card was maxed out so an uber was not an option at this point.
The cops felt bad for me so offered to give me a lift, which was very, very cool of them.
So there I am hung-over in the back of squad car, exhausted but glad to know my vehicle wasn't stolen.
Out of LA
I decided to head back up to Mammoth to chill out.
Around halfway there I was exhausted and decided to get a hotel.
After a goodnight sleep, I realized as much as I would love to run away and hang out up in mountains, I had a lot to do back in Los Angeles. So I chilled out in a Motel 6 in Palmdale for the weekend, getting some much needed rest, catching a movie, getting organized and coming up with a gameplay.
Another To-Do List
It should be an interesting and long day.
My bank is on one side of town and my storage and mail is all the way across town.
So instead of getting started on all those dull and dreary chores and sitting in traffic for hours, I decided to sit down and write my thoughts out and add to my blog; another page in my journal; another chapter in my autobiography, Lost Not Found, which luckily won't be the title of this entry.
I'm Back ....Again!!!!!
So I somehow randomly came across the above video. It got me thinking about several things, but it also took me back to my childhood and how influential games were in my life.
I'm not taking about the video games that have taken over so many people's lives these days. They took over my life when I was a teen, but I had to head over to the local bowling alley with a bucket of quarters to try and top the Space Invaders score. I couldn't just plop down on my couch and engage with a virtual world.
I'm talking about real world physical "games", including Monopoly which I usually won, more out of attrition because I was willing to play for hours upon hours; other players would practically give me their properties so they could go to sleep.
My buddies and I used to play on the Venice Courts all the time. I actually slam dunked once. Not during a game and it was a volleyball not a basketball. But as far as I was concerned I dunked. I recently visited the Venice Courts and I could barely jump up to hit the backboard, forget about slam-dunking. So once again slam dunking on the Venice Courts is on the "to-do" list.
It looks like I'm going back again. This year I hope to run the Burning Man 50K; I've finished it twice already and it tends to help me moderate myself for the first few days, so as brutal as it sounds it actually is good for me.
I've always wanted to set up a hopscotch course on the level of the one the Roman Legionaries. Hopscotch began in ancient Britain during the early Roman Empire. The original hopscotch courts were over 100 feet long and used for military training exercises. Roman foot-soldiers ran the course in full armor and field packs to improve their footwork
What better place than BRC to attempt to duplicate the game? There's plenty of space and probably more than a few people who would be up to the challenge.
One of the trips I hope to make this year is to Mongolia to see the Naadam Festival, which is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery, and are held throughout the country during midsummer.
I practice versions of two out of the three; ironically the one I have the least experience in is horse racing even though I come from a rodeo family in Texas that has several world champions in barrel racing, roping, steer wrestling, etc. My uncle Whit is a rodeo legend who once "performed" in Madison Square gardens. I, however, have spent very little time on the back of a horse.
What first sparked my curiosity about the event is my obsession with Gehngis Khan.
I have always been obsessed with history. At one point I imagined being a history professor. It's rather ironic how much I thought I'd end up being a teacher, a university professor and then I dropped out school and ended up home-schooling. I suppose on a certain level I found my calling.
One of the books my daughter and I listened to on our cross-country adventures was Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.
His influence on history is absolutely amazing, especially considering his humble beginnings. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Back to Monopoly
I just went on-line to buy a Monopoly game.
There are like a billion versions of the game now. And that's barely an exaggeration.
Love Lost and Found--The Film Business
I have always loved movies.
I grew up in Los Angeles, so many of the streets and locations that were showing up on the TV and movie screens were my backyard, so to speak. My next door neighbor was a working actor in shows that I had actually seen. One of my schoolmates father was a director of shows like Fall Guy and the Bionic Woman.
I worked as a set dresser for the first time when I was 17; I was paid under the table because of my age.
I went to college intent on majoring in film, but switched to drama/dance because the professor in film was a self-righteous prick. I quickly realized I was probably too big and too old to have much of a career as a dancer and I knew the statistics of "working" actors. To add to these realities was also my feeling of being isolated, thousands of miles away from my home town, at a small liberal arts college of around 800 students spread out across acres, which during most seasons was fun for wandering but when winter hit, everyone tended to stay huddled in their own dorms; mine had around 30-40 people and we were definitely getting stir crazy. At one point, I instigated a food fight that almost got me expelled.
I left a couple of weeks after that fully intent on returning after taking off a year. I was doing the "gap" year before it was a thing.
For better or worse my gap year became a gap decade and then a gap Grand Canyon and finally after taking on-line course, going to junior college; petitioning for some of my high school AP classes to be credited, slowly getting a few credits here and there, I realized a college degree was probably not for me. I also had reached my goal of making a hundred thousand bucks in a year and I wasn't drowning in debt from college loans like so many of my friends.
I was moving furniture for Starving Students, which by the way may have been founded by a couple of struggling college students but by the time I signed up neither myself or any of my co-workers were going to school and most had no intention to ever go back to college. I still intended on going back getting my degree and perhaps going on the grad school so that I might one day become a professor.
It was a this point that a friend's mom who was working as a script supervisor on a movie called Scenes from a Class Struggle in Beverly Hills asked if I wanted to fill in for a few days as a set dresser, doing sort of the same thing I was doing already.
When she told me the pay, I quit Starving Students and started my film career.
The three day job turned into a three-month job and then I was back to working various odd jobs to make ends meet. I worked as a clown at children's parties and other events, I worked at exotic fish company unpacking and repacking bags of live fish, I ushered at Le Cirque du Soleil when they came to Santa Monica for the first time, I did some retail sales jobs, I studied to become an Arthur Murray dance instructor, but there weren't enough clients for me to actually get paid, but it was fun to learn ballroom dance for free.
And then I got a call to work on another project, it was a movie of the week that went for several months. After that I never did another job outside of the film business. That was over 30 years ago.
Ridley Scott, Twin Peaks, and Beyond
I was extremely fortunate for so many of the jobs and experiences I have had in this crazy business.
I worked on both seasons of Twin Peaks, first as a set dresser and then as the lead person on the second season.
The second season is when the show "flipped" and was organized. That was when I joined IATSE Local 44. Working on that project was to this day one of the highlights of my career. We all knew we were on something special but we never knew the effect it would have on television and become the classic that it did.
I dabbled breifly in the commercial world and was lucky to work on a Superbowl spot that Ridley Scott directed
Bugsy, Hook, Dracula and the Academy Awards
One year I had an incredible string of jobs. I had just gotten into the union and had to borrow money for the initiation and dues. I didn't know anyone in the union so I really was wondering if I had made the right decision. Then out of the blue a friend called and asked me if I wanted to work on Bugsy. That job led a set dressing gig on Hook and then Dracula. I was working on mini-series at Warner Bros., Sinatra, when I met my future wife. Actually, I had briefly met her on the Sony lot when I was on Hook, but we got to know one another and started "dating" on Sinatra.
Bugsy, Hook, and Dracula were all nominated for Academy Awards for Art Direction that year, as was Fisher King, the movie my future wife decorated. I was torn as to which one to root for, Bugsy took home the golden statue that year.
My wife would get nominated again for her work on What Dreams May Come and I was able to actually attend the event, which was pretty unforgetable .
Here, There and Lots of Places in Between
Over the years I have had the good fortune to work on shows that went to incredible locations. Speed 2 wasn't the greatest of films I've worked on but getting paid to work in St. Marteen for several months was a nice trade off. Tank Girl was one of the hardest shows I've worked on and the conditions we shot in was one of the main factors. It was 112F in White Sands and we had to hand carry all the set dressing up mountains of sand dunes. I lived in Mexico for several months when I was the set decorator on The Legend of Zorro. I've worked in Louisiana quite a bit as well as in Atlanta where a great deal of film production has gone due to their massive tax incentives.
But I've moved back to California because I missed the ocean too much. The weather is also quite nice. I much prefer the dry heat we have to the humidity in the South. Plus it's my home and where I started this crazy career.
It's been a while since I've thrown anything up on my blog; living out of suitcases, a storage unit and the back of my truck has taken a toll.
I didn't have much of a plan to start with; basically "Go West Old Man, Go West" or "Jonny Venice, Come Home" or "There's lots of work out here, the ocean, you're old stompin' grounds and long-time friends"; ironically not many of my "long-time friends" are still in Los Angeles; the ocean is still here thank goodness, but the town has certainly changed. This town has always been changing, but some things I didn't see coming, at least not in the magnitude I imagined.
The homeless situation is out of control. And it's not just tent cities and guys living under the freeway in cardboard houses. It's the caravans of campers and motorhomes that are parked all over the city, especially along the coast. It's incredible and depressing at the same time.
On a different note and to address the title of the post; was anything supposed to happen on 02 19 2019?
Jon Danniells is an adventurer and traveler, a teacher and student, a husband and a father, a cook and a farmer, a "week-end warrior" (very amateur athlete) and has not earned any money on these labors of love.When I googled myself what showed up first was my IMDB listing, which is basically a resume for my 20 and then some year career in film, for which I fortunately do get paid.