Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day Three

with 9 comments

Today was a productive day.  Not in the way that I cured cancer or brought democracy to the Mideast or even was able to help my seven-year old with his book report on “Those Darn Squirrels” (that part of my day was a disaster, more about my inability to help with homework in the coming days), but aside from that I got a lot done.  Mostly in the way of errands: hiking the dog, taking my wife’s car to the dealership because the “Check Engine” light was on (it was because the gas cap was unscrewed– I’m not handy), getting a gift for my daughter’s friend’s 10th birthday.  All of these things are equally interesting– that is, not at all– so it’s up to me to find meaning in the 1% of my days off that I was given today.

I started my day (after being evicted from the kitchen for the “Those Darn Squirrels” meltdown– mine, not my son’s: “You can’t write about how Old Man Fookwire doesn’t like dogs when the book is about squirrels!  It’s in the title!”) by going to a lecture at my kids’ school given by the school’s headmaster.  One of the things I’m trying to do over my 100 days off is to become more spiritual and the guy giving this lecture is extremely spiritual.  In my business which is so focused on the material, I need to balance that with the spiritual (and who knows, maybe it’ll give me an idea for a show).  In any case, the headmaster told the story of a rabbi who used to dunk his head under water for several minutes so that he could appreciate breathing.  My first thought was, of course, “well, that’s not a show”, and then I thought, “Today, I’m really going to focus on my breathing”.

Fortunately, I had the perfect opportunity since I had an appointment with my trainer.  My trainer is a wonderful, gentle, soft-spoken Irishman who masks his torture of me with his gentle brogue.  As I mentioned, getting into physical shape is one of the things I really need to do over this break, and because of my personality, the only way I can do so is by using a trainer.  My wife took a picture of me yesterday and I realized that I look like the perfect “Before” picture.  Like, not “Lap Band” before, but like “Get 3 months free at Gold’s if you sign this guy up” Before.  It’s actually quite depressing– it’s like I haven’t gotten fat enough to be “charactery” but I won’t even dare try on a pair of jeans that aren’t so relaxed they’re practically sleeping.  The truth is, even at my fittest I’ve never been an “After”, but I’ve certainly been a “During” a few times in my life.

Unfortunately for me, the work environment of the sitcom writer was patterned after the veal pen.  We are trapped in small rooms and fed a near constant stream of bad, salty meals that are interrupted only by an equally endless supply of 100 calorie snack packs.  The only exercise we get is the walk to the golf cart that takes us the four blocks to the stage.  Add in the stress of having to be funnier than the guy next to you, it’s the perfect formula for becoming a human pear.  I remember one time when I was on “Friends” the writers were actually walking the 200 yards we needed to go (I’m assuming the golf cart was either broken or needed to be recharged) and a group of girls passed us and giggled “look, writers”.  I remember feeling pretty good about myself until I realized what they were saying was shorthand for: “look, chubby, pale Jews.”

In any case, today was my workout and my trainer did not disappoint me in disappointing me.  I told him that I was coming from a two mile hike and he responded sounding like a gentle Liam Neeson, “what you do on your own time is not my business.”  He then proceeded to torture me using a variety of rings and kettle bells and had me run an additional two plus miles between the 250 pushups I did.  Yet despite almost passing out several times and raising my body temperature to what must have been 130 degrees, I had a small smile.  It was either because I was having a stroke or because on some level I appreciated that, like breathing, one day I won’t be able to do this.  And even though I wished that today was that day, alas, it wasn’t.

Things to do today: Hike dogs– achieved, Go to Gym: Achieved, Clean Garage– who am I kidding?  Remember to breathe: Off and on.

Jeff-- Before



Written by 100daysoff

February 16, 2011 at 2:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. Good Day.

    Don’t give up on that garage. There is no greater feeling of accomplishmeent when it its clean.

    Michael A Lebit

    February 16, 2011 at 2:55 am

  2. WHA!? 250 pushups! That’s nuts.

    David Kopp

    February 16, 2011 at 3:52 am

  3. You’re much cooler than any of the guys in Cavalia! This would be my “after” picture…unbelievable.


    February 16, 2011 at 4:51 am

  4. Not all writers are chubby pale Jews. Some are skinny pale Jews.


    February 16, 2011 at 5:46 am

    • You’re young, give it time.


      February 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

  5. My Day 3 was sitting for 8 hours straight in an editing room while cutting a sizzle reel and eating Oreos. I did walk to the kitchen to get those Oreos, though.

    You’re gonna be in “During” shape in no time, Jeff. Keep it up.

    Patty, the Chubby Pale Gentile

    February 16, 2011 at 6:26 am

  6. You’re only going to be unemployed for 100 days? How uncharacteristically optimistic! P.S. I couldn’t do that upside down thing even when you first met me 20+ years ago, so I’m already impressed.


    February 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  7. Hey Jeff– we are loving your blog over here. LOVING it. Mark was quoting it out loud! We just have a tiny pitch for you: what if you lose the first two days and start on day three? It seems like that’s where things really get going. You could do the first two days as a flashback, or lose them altogether. I mean, you’re long and there’s no essential information in them.

    Also, since this is a “sales tool”, what about adding some voiceover? I know it’s a blog so it’s already your inner monologue but wouldn’t voiceover help clarify your POV?? Jeff:(VO) So, I’m this fat Jew living in LA…

    Also, Seth, our intern, was wondering if the guy has to be a fat Jew. What if he were a fit Irishman? Seth doesn’t wear socks so we think he has his “finger” on the “pulse.”

    Again, we LOVE this project. One last thing: what if he IS working and he’s a total ace? Just puttin it out there. 100 Days On! A fit, Irishman who is crushing it at the ad agency and makes things happen wherever he goes. Seth thinks young people will “respond” to “this.”

    That’s it for notes. Get back to work you genius!

    Ira Ungerleider

    February 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    • Glad you guys are loving it. You seem to be really “getting it”. ICM has already sent it over to Cedric the Entertainer’s production company as a possible vehicle for him. His gatekeeper really loves the concept and believes that if we do the tiny tweak of making the lead character a barber, we have a real shot. Also, just for giggles, they suggested making it a family ensemble in the vein of “Cosby”. I think I can make that work without selling out. Any interest in coming on board as Co-Executive Story Editor?


      February 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm

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