Hoedown in Hollywood

“S o what’re you doin’…robbin’ the place? Ha!”

I’m not a morning person, and I’d only been asleep for about an hour and a half after a late flight home from LA and seeing Hudson and Harding off to school and daycare, and now I’d been woken up and was standing at the front door with flies buzzing around my head, and there was a Comedian trying to get in.

“Ha! Karla called and booked us to come and level the washing machine. Ha!”

He clapped me on the shoulder and tried to squeeze past me, but we can’t have people just coming into Mortgage Manor uninvited, so I told the Comedian to stay put while I phoned The Colonel (this Karla he spoke of).

“I told you when you called home yesterday” she sniffed.

“Eh?” I said.

“I told you that I’d booked him to come and level the washing machine because it was shuddering and banging because it’s off kilter” she said. I could hear her jaw sticking out.

“So why didn’t you fix it?” I asked, and it struck me as a perfectly legitimate question.

“I did.” Now she was speaking through clenched teeth. “I fixed it over and over and over. I’ve fixed it after ever single load of laundry I’ve done over the past 6 weeks!”

“That doesn’t sound like you’ve fixed it at all.” I said, but probably shouldn’t have.

Her comments became somewhat peppery.

Apparently, she’d told me about this for weeks and this was the first booking she could get, so I opened the door and apologized to The Comedian.

“Ha! Out partying last night, ha?” he said, clapping me offensively on the shoulder again.

Great. Now I have to be nice, and stay awake to make sure he A) fixes the washer and B) doesn’t steal anything…and I could already tell he was going to be a hell of a lot more talkative than I prefer my mornings to be.


I’d been in LA for more meetings with producers.

Maybe it’s the smog, maybe it’s the botox, or maybe it’s the lack of red meat, but Hollywood types seem to have absolutely no interest in making good television.

Of course, they all like to think they’re creative and proactive and cutting edge, but they’re all ladder climbers who’ll only get into gear and do something when it becomes apparent that everybody else is already doing it – which makes it kind of tough to try something a little new.

The only reason they keep dragging us along with our show is that they’ve caught the scent of money; they just don’t seem to know what to DO about it.

After swinging the axe in Vegas the previous January and ridding myself of the know-nothing know-it-all TV lampreys, I got a nice n’ juicy contract with Rolfe Auerbach who heads Brand-In Entertainment, who specializes in integrating products into TV storylines, and bless him, he’s a deal maker who’s worked on everything from Baywatch to The Apprentice.

He ‘gets it’ and has gone to bat for us, and I went to LA for two days of introductory meetings with another crop of production companies.

And I needn’t have been so bitter. Rolfe’s good company and the producers we met were of the same ilk, that is, they have intelligent conversation, a sense of humor, they asked good, penetrating questions and they know great pencil art when they see it!

Owen Garratt with Rolfe Auerbach and Brian Williams at The Roosevelt Hotel
Meeting and lunching with Rolfe and Brian at The Roosevelt Hotel pool

We had a lunch meeting with a former producer of Survivor by the pool of The Roosevelt Hotel, and while we waited, Waitress Barbie came and leaned over us.

Waitress Barbie: “Hi! Um, like, can I get you a drink?”

Pencilneck (cursing himself for not wearing mirrored shades): “I know it’s a long shot, but you wouldn’t happen to have Plymouth Gin, would you?”

Waitress Barbie: “Sure! Like, it’s our house brand.”

Pencilneck (picking astonished self off of cobblestones): “No kidding?!?! I’ll have an Owentini…”

Waitress Barbie: “Um, like, how do you spell that?”

Pencilneck: “I have no idea”

Waitress Barbie: “So, like, um, what’s it made out of?”

Pencilneck: “It’s Plymouth Gin with a twist of lemon peel and sherry instead of vermouth”

Waitress Barbie: “Like, who’s Sherrie?”

Pencilneck: “No, sherry the booze, you know, it’s a type of fortified wine.”

Waitress Barbie (with wrinkled nose): “I don’t think we have sherry, I’ve never even, like, heard of it…”

Pencilneck: “Huh. Okay, well then, the vermouth will have to do – and please ask him to stir it, not shake it.”

Waitress Barbie: “James Bond always gets Martinis shaken, not like, stirred.”

Pencilneck (shooting cuffs): “James Bond is a fool, and technically, what he’s ordering is a Gibson, not a Martini.”

Waitress Barbie (rolling eyes): “Like, whatever, a stirred Gibson with lemon wedges; what would you other gentlemen have to drink?”

Poolside at The Roosevelt Hotel

If you’re stuck in LA and are bereft of Plymouth Gin, you can get it right here – at The Roosevelt!


Back at Home

I heard a ripping crash and rounded the bend just in time to see the folding doors to our laundry room/closet hang a beating on The Comedian.

He was spread-eagled in the back hallway trying to hold one set of doors over his head while fending off an attack by the other set. He couldn’t seem to find the balance point and they kept slapping and closing on him, but he finally got them to the floor amid clouds of drywall dust, and he panted “Ha’s” for a few moments while he composed himself.

“Say! You mind giving me a hand? Ha? Slide it out and you tip it forwards and I’ll get behind and get a look at the legs. Ha.”

I pulled the washer out, got hold and tilted it forward, and The Comedian unexpectedly climbed on top. It slipped from my grip and crashed to the floor, throwing him base over apex into the space behind. After he got righted he bounced up and chastised me.

“Ha! What’re you doing?!?! You were supposed to hold it!” he said, covered in dust bunnies and dryer lint.

One would’ve thought he’d either climb on the dryer which was beside the washer and over, or climb back there before it got lifted…

“Ha, okay, pull it up again – and don’t drop it! Ha!” he said. “Hey! These legs are locked! Ha!”

“So? Unlock them, adjust them, then lock them down again” I said.

He stood up, scratched his head and looked dubious. “I dunno…you think so? Ha?”


In LA…

After our day of meetings, which went off with a bang, I had some time the following day for some adventure, so I slid into a cab and popped down to the pier in Santa Monica, and if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, it’s just about right.

The Pier at Santa Monica

The end of the pier in Santa Monica

There’s a small rollercoaster and other rides on the pier, a few restaurants, some people fishing (?!), lots of street musicians, and an awesome trapeze school which would’ve been a hoot to try, if it’d been open.

Owen Garratt on the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier

Owen trying not to mess himself as he grapples with his fear of heights

I got a couple of tourist pencils and stuff for The Boys and watched a few caricature artists – including one guy who did caricature busts of people in clay!

They’re about the size of my hand and are like those ceramic heads that were so popular back in the 70’s. I watched him whack out a couple of them and decided to have a go.

He got a handful of clay and pushed it into a man’s head shape mold to get started then started prodding it with his thumbs. As he worked on it, he began to frown. Then he began to make little sucking noises between his teeth. Then he mopped his brow. Then he sat back and fiddled with a toothpick. Then he looked off to the horizon. People passing by either chuckled or shook their heads unfavorably. He frowned some more, then said something in his native tongue under his breath. He barked at me for moving, when I clearly hadn’t. He began to sneer; first at the clay, then at me.

I smiled helpfully and he yelled again to keep still.

At last, he said ‘Here!” and flashed a quick glimpse of it then wound it into a great wad of paper towel. It was like a magic trick…poof! – and it was gone. He held out his hand for the $20 and shoved the heap of paper towel at me and made dismissive motions with his hands. I paid, stepped back, and opened the paper towel.

It looked fantastic! It was a complete and exact representation…of Bill Clinton.


Owen doesn’t often get mistaken for Bill Clinton, but there you go…

I winced at it a few times, and then walked to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company for a bite.

“Oh look! You got a bust done! Isn’t he great?” the waitress asked after prodding the heap of paper towel. “Oh. You didn’t get one of yourself? I thought you’d have got an actor done instead of President Clinton; I mean this is LA…”

Time was getting short so I caught a cab back to the hotel after lunch.

The trip to the pier cost $35, but the trip back cost $85!

Miraculously, but not surprisingly, the cabbie’s command of English completely vanished when I produced my receipt showing that the same route to Santa Monica cost $35…until I didn’t tip him, then he knew all kinds of words, most of which we associate with lumberjacks, merchant marines, Sergeant Majors and Teamsters.


17 hours later…

I was having Deja’ Vu all over again watching The Comedian write up a bill for leveling the washing machine.

He looked up and said “ha!”


The Comedian had the crust to try and charge $150 for 7 minutes of work, even though I held the washing machine, I coached him on how to level it, I was the one who ended up back there because he couldn’t get the locks undone, and I ended up finishing the job!!!

These chaps are good; they have all kinds of threats and tactics to try and close their position, and we went back and forth for a while.

I wondered if his command of English was going to leave him too.

“Look, buddy, I know you’re doing your job, sort of, and I don’t expect you to do it for nothing, but you’re out of your fargin’ mind if you think I’m paying you $150 for a 7-minute job that I did for you. Either adjust this bill or you’re going to find yourself in an imbroglio.”

“Ha! Are you threatening me?”


“Don’t you touch me!!!” he said, striking a Mr. Furley karate pose. “HA!”

“Hoss, I’m the least of your worries.”

And in one of those rare moments of perfect timing, The Colonel walked in…


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  1. Kyle M.

    Sounds like quite the adventure you went on! I had never been to Hollywood but I have heard stories. I was actually going to move there for a job in 2015 but changed my mind last minute as my wife found out she was pregnant. Good thing too because the business I would have been working for went bust by 2017. Anywho, I enjoyed the read. Sounds like an out of this world experience for me! haha

  2. Anita Ayela

    Enjoyed the read very much! Your lunch meeting conversation was interesting. But the best part was the incident with the repair guy!

    • The Pencilneck

      Actually, the best part was was watching The Colonel tie into him! 😉

  3. Alexandre

    what was the TV show about?

    • The Pencilneck

      There’s going to be a couple more stories coming that flesh out the entire thing…stay tuned!


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