Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Little Elation Now and Then Never Hurt...

Follow-up time...

So I had my Agent Showcase today... but before I go into that, let me tell you the strange twists in the road that occurred between the last time we spoke and today...

So I had my Leonidas monologue ready, but I still agonized over whether I could find the right "levels" in it to make my acting coach happy -- he said the previous week that he felt it was too one-note, and needed some more high points and low points, to exhibit better range. We need to show the agent a range of skill, so to speak.

But the piece doesn't really lend itself to highs and lows, like a locker-room speech. To stay true to the piece, I needed to delivery it with steady, subdued strength and purpose. So I practiced it like crazy.

But to hedge my bets, I grabbed a second, similar monologue, also from a Steven Pressfield book... this time from Virtues or War, where Alexander the Great scolds his men after a battle because they looted and pillaged, which he expressly forbade. It is a terrific piece as well, and lends itself well to the highs and lows that my coach said he was looking for. I sent him the text for both monologues attached to an email, but he never replied.

So armed with two powerful (I felt) monologues, I went to class Thursday night. Now, keep in mind, this is about 36 hours before the showcase was supposed to take place. By this time, we were to have worked on polishing a monologue for several weeks, so that it shone. Ready to display our best efforts.

Well, surprise! Thursday night before class started, he calls me into his office and tells me I need to scrap both of those monologues and pick a new one to do. He said I really shouldn't be doing period pieces for a showcase. Apparently, mentioning the Greek gods by name dated the piece. And besides, he said, "You don't really look the part in either case." I don't look like a Leonidas or an Alexander, lol... ok... Anyways, he said I needed something more modern. Now, why he couldn't have told me this a few weeks ago I don't know... but bottom line, he said I needed a new one.

Remember the "36 hours to showcase" detail from above, right?

Anyway, he suggested a monologue from Dead Poet's Society (which I had never seen), saying it was the monologue he performed back in the day, when he got his first agent. Obviously, my first incredulous question was, "You really think I could get a brand new monologue showcase-ready in 36 hours?" He said yes.

What could I do? I went home with a new monologue and one day to prepare.

Part of me wanted to give up. The other part of me thought, "Hey, if you're going to try to be a pro at this acting thing, you're going to need to deal with crap like this all the time. Suck it up and just do it." So that's what I did. In between bouts of panic, I memorized the new monologue, and then set about trying to work it into me deeply enough to give it some life. The last thing I wanted to do was bring a half-baked piece to a showcase... keep in mind that there are two major agencies in San Diego, and the founder of one of these two powerhouses was the agent in attendance at the showcase today. If it was a smaller agency, I would have felt infinitely better... but this was a big deal. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression...

So I learned it, performed it for my family Friday night, and they were underwhelmed. They liked my other pieces far better. I slinked into my office, closed the door, and contemplated giving up again. Instead, I fired up my iMac, pointed it at the center of the room, and video-recorded myself doing the piece. Yeah, it was a mess. I made adjustments, filmed it again, and the results improved, but still a mess. After 6 or 7 more tweakings and filmings, I had a version that I thought worked. I went to bed early.

Woke up today (Saturday), ran through it a couple times, packed up my headshot and resume, and went to the showcase.

I went early; it started late. The waiting was agony. It didn't help that the classmate beside me was having a legitimate, full-blown panic attack, and freaking out. I was unnerved to begin with, but I tried my best to calm both of us down. There were about 36 people therewaiting to perform. The agent showed up, gave a short speech, took a few questions, and then we were off and running.

The kids went first, about 10 of them. Not bad, for kids. Some overly-rehearsed efforts, some humor; they all got through them well enough and were excused. They needed to leave, because many of the older performers had pieces with profanity or adult talk in them. I was slated to go 8th. As I waited and watched those before me, I prayed. I would cycle through stretches of confidence, and stretches of panic, heart beating in my throat, etc. All my lines would flee from me as I sat in panic... I eyed the door. But I remained seated, I'd take breaths, pray, and remind myself that I'd been on stage several dozen times in plays, often in very substantial parts, and *always* got through it just fine.

My turn arrived, I stood, gave my headshot to the agent, introduced myself, walked up... and killed it. I mean, I nailed it. It felt SOOO amazing, I can't even begin to explain it. It was right there, every line, like a conveyor belt. I didn't have to worry about what came next at all... I could focus on feeling it. And I can't tell you in words the way it felt when I sat back down to applause and the congratulatory looks from my classmates, who'd never seen that piece from me before.

I can easily say, today was one of the highlights of my "career" so far, going all the way back to high school. I felt like a pro.

Whether I'll get a call this week to go talk to the agent 1-on-1 or not, I don't know. It may happen, it may not. There are a lot of variables. Perhaps they already have a few actors in their stable with my same look and/or talent level... wouldn't make sense to add yet another. But if they have room for someone like me, I can't imagine I could have done any better at presenting myself than I did today.

I feel so good right now, it isn't even funny.

Anyway, I'll have a more traditional "Dave" post here in a day or two. Just wanted to hop on here and get all this out.

Adios for now,

Dave the Elated

PS By the way, the classmate having the panic attack beside me... he did great as well...

PSS Of course, by saying I "killed/nailed" it, I mean it felt like I nailed it. I've learned that how something feels when you perform it often doesn't correspond to how things actually look to someone watching it. It could feel great, but be mediocre.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Side Note from a Chronic Navel-Contemplator...

This is it! Home stretch for the agent showcase this Saturday... nervous? Yeah, sure. But I'm trying to get myself in the mindset that being nervous is a good thing, and try to turn it into a tool to work in my favor.

Of course, my pride says I want to perform the monologue perfectly. I wanna really nail it, and leave the place stunned. But the other part of me won't mind if I flub it here or there... from what my instructor says, the agents that attend these showcases, looking for new talent, don't necessarily want to see highly-polished perfection. In fact, it's more informative to them when they see a small flub, and then see how the actor handles it. If I make a verbal misstep, will I break character, come out of the scene, get angry at myself and/or flustered, apologize like a tool? Or will I simply pause, stay in character and in the moment, gather myself and continue forward, maintaining the momentum and the rhythm? If I can handle missteps like a pro, they'll be much more interested in the possibility of signing me.

But if I handle it poorly, then that's a big red X, so to speak. So, yeah, I want to nail the monologue... but I also want to demonstrate craft and ability to focus and maintain.

If that makes sense.

By the way, here's the monologue I'm performing... it's from my favorite all-time book, Gates of Fire (Steven Pressfield). It's the speech King Leonidas gives the the 300 right before they leave their city for the several-day march to Thermopylae, to their deaths. The rest of the Spartans -- and the entire city -- has gathered to see them off, knowing they won't be returning.

Death stands close upon us now. Can you feel him, brothers? I do. I am human and I fear him. My eyes cast about for a sight to fortify the heart for that moment when I come to look him in the face.      
Shall I tell you where I find this strength, Friends? In the eyes of our sons in scarlet before us, yes. And in the countenance of their comrades who will follow in battles to come. But more than that, my heart finds courage from these, our women, who watch in tearless silence as we go.      
How many times have these twain stood here in the chill shade of Parnon and watched those they love march out to war? Pyrrho, you have seen grandfathers and father troop away down the Aphetaid, never to return. Alkemene, your eyes have held themselves unweeping as husband and brothers have departed to their deaths. Now here you stand again, with no few others who have borne as much and more, watching sons and grandsons march off to hell.      
Men’s pain is lightly borne and swiftly over. Our wounds are of the flesh, which is nothing; women’s is of the heart – sorrow unending, far more bitter to bear. Learn from them, brothers, from their pain in childbirth which the gods have ordained immutable. Bear witness to that lesson they teach: nothing good in life comes but at a price. Sweetest of all is liberty. This we have chosen and this we pay for. We have embraced the laws of Lykurgus, and they are stern laws. They have schooled us to scorn the life of leisure, which this rich land of ours would bestow upon us if we wished, and instead to enroll ourselves in the academy of discipline and sacrifice. Guided by these laws, our fathers for twenty generations have breathed the blessed air of freedom and have paid the bill in full when it was presented. We, their sons, can do no less.      
In six hundred years, so the poets say, no Spartan woman has beheld the smoke of the enemy’s fires. By Zeus and Eros, by Athena Protectress and Artemis Upright, by the Muses and all the gods and heroes who defend Lakedaemon and by the blood of my own flesh, I swear that our wives and daughters, our sisters and mothers, will not behold those fires now.

It's about 2:30 long, and I think very cool. I plan on video-taping myself doing the monologue, for practice's sake, before Saturday. If I think the clip is worth watching, I'll post it here..

By the way, I finally got a professionally-shot photo head shot done this week. My Narcissism has reached new heights, lol...

Feels so weird, looking at myself like that. But not as weird as looking at the website where the rest of the passable shots are arranged in a gallery... if you're feeling intrepid, take a look at this link. Some of the shots are good... others not so good. Some of the shots where I'm "serious" are laughable... I want to punch myself in the face when I see them, lol...

The photographer pointed out something I hadn't thought of... since I'm actually trying to become a real, paid actor, I can deduct all kinds of stuff from my taxes. The costs associated with the classes I take, the headshot costs, craft-related books, travel to and from classes and auditions, and even meals, if my travel is over 100 miles total (like, say, to an LA audition for example). Stuff to think about.

Anyway, it's sort of surreal, the whole process. I'm getting my resume together tonight, listing all the stuff I've done. A little of everything, really. It adds up - here I felt I'd have a bare resume. But I've done plays, short films, voice work, even a set of TV commercials (which I wrote and did the voice work for), and all listed out, actually seems solid.

Anyways, we'll see how it goes. Maybe nothing will come of it at this time, and life will proceed as usual. Or maybe not. I'm still fearful that my having braces will be a problem. I'm prepared for that. Really, I wasn't going to try a showcase until next year anyway, when the braces would be off and I'd have another year of training under my belt. I'll try to be prepared for anything.

I know -- lots of more important stuff going on in the world and in the lives of people I know. In a way, all this acting nonsense is unimportant. Still, it means something to me at this time, so I hope you don't mind that I hopped on here to unload a little of my accumulating angst.

lol, thanks for listening.

Dave the Wannabe Thespian

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury...

Holy mackerel, it's been a week... well, what's a man to do but weep softly into his spiced pumpkin soup?

Greetings ladies and gentlemen of the jury. My opening statement will be brief. Namely, I'm wearing briefs. On my head. And for that reason, I urge you to find the defendant guilty of sophomoric malfeasance, aggravated break dancing and negligent flatulence. My recommendation: the chair.

Wait... I'm the defendant! I forgot... I was representing myself. I hope the chair I get is a director's chair...

So a funny thing happened today on the way to my class at Clown College.... but I can't tell you what it was... the Judge refused to allow it into evidence. But that's ok, because I know where the judge lives... MUAHAHAH!!!!! Yep.... gonna TP his house. Cuz that's how I "roll".....

OK, fine, I'll stop. I've been watching another awesome TV show... it's called "Suits", and it's a law show. Normally not my forte. But this one has great writing, great characters (Lewis Litt FTW!), solid acting, and some terrific characters (lol, I mentioned "characters" twice... I'm so awesome.). It's not quite Justified... but it's up there. Well worth it, if you're interested.

And you know you are interested! Come on, admit it! You respect me and my opinion! And I know why! Because I'm so charming and witty and I don't smell too badly... I mean, most of the time... hey, I shower semi-regularly...

So in a weird case of irony, I came to a weird realization recently... I've read quite a few dozen fantasy books over the past couple years, many very good, and few turds, and a good number in between. If you were to ask me to clear my mind of all of my favorite moments in all those stories and, with a blank mental slate, recite memorable moments and characters as they pop in, first come first stated... the answers might intrigue you. I did just that recently (for my own amusement (I know, I'm an odd bird, what can I say?)), and to my surprise, the scenes that popped into my head first were an interesting selection of tidbits from the bottom of my reading list. Moments from Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy... moments from my unfinished attempt to read The Lion of Sennet... moments from Bakker's pomposity... and God forbid, from Jaunten...

So what to make of that? I didn't immediately bring to mind Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Lawrence, Martin, Hamerton... but rather tidbits and moments from books and authors whose toes I've stepped on, whom I've mildly ridiculed and talked down and reviewed poorly... So, they must be doing something right... in a way... I may have to reevaluate my review approach! Memorable doesn't necessarily need to be because of high overall quality! And I don't mean examples of the bad stuff... I mean, cool moments inside below-average writing/story-telling... moments worth remembering. Maybe it's because I'm so magnanimous, I can find the good in whatever I read... still doesn't explain why these moments and characters would come to mind first, over my favorite authors/books...

Weird, eh?

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na BATDAD!!!!!

That guy's a classic. Looks like his wife is tired of it, lol...

Look, sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do. And right now, a man has to sing "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" doing a different voice, character or accent for each verse... hey, don't look at me like that! To do so calls into question my manhood. Remember, the whole "a man has to do" part of this line of questioning? By questioning my manhood, you are defaming my character, undermining my authority, and insulting my wardrobe choices. I will not stand for this!

That's why I'm sitting. I prefer the view down here anyway...

Justin Bieber.... yeah, that's torture all right...

Well, I suppose I've expelled enough hot wind for one evening. It's beginning to rumple your dresses and upset your hairdos... I'd hate to be responsible for you having to go to the salon again... you know, the hair dressers talk about you behind your back... sorry to break it to you... hey, welcome to the real world, missy!

And on that sour note, adios for now!

Dave the Off-Center

[EDIT] OMG, if you only knew how long I have to spend proof-reading and tweaking these blog-posts... man, I tinkered with this insipid post for longer than I took to write the first draft.... *sigh* So many typos... and mis-worded statements... [/EDIT]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Maybe I'm Just Lazy....

*sizzle* *sizzle*

Greetings, one and all! (I'm sure it's closer to the "one" part, lol) Dave the Goof again, with a blast of late-summer hot air. You'll have to pardon me for being a bit grumpy... a bracket broke on my braces and the wire is loose, and harassing my gumline. Has your gumline ever been harassed, may I ask? Gonna be a long wait until I can get it fixed on Thursday (I hope).

Thursday is also the night of my weekly acting class... still hanging in there, though it's kinda disheartening anymore. Seems no matter what I do in class, there's a reason why I should have done it another way. Frustrating. Like most people, I like to do things well.

First World Problems! Broken braces and mediocre acting skills! Run, Dave! Run for the hills and weep like a little boy!

Yeah, I know. Funny thing is, lately (and by that I mean for the past few weeks), every time I eat a meal, at some point I think about the Bataan Death March from WW2. Cheery thought, eh? 6 days marching in stifling heat, no food or water, dropping like flies... yeah, that sucked. Man, what people do to other people... anyway, for some reason, lately I think of that whenever I eat. Nothing like spicing one's food with a little guilt!

That guy's face is a classic...

In acting news, there's going to be an "agent showcase" at the end of this month... that's where a legit agent comes to see actors perform monologues, and see if anyone impresses the agent enough to warrant representation. I'm torn as to whether I'll participate. On the one hand, why not? Even if I don't "get an agent", the experience alone should prove beneficial. On the other hand, if by some miracle I do actually get an agent, that means my life will be upended to some extent. I would then need to be 'on call' at all times, for when auditions for TV and commercial (and possibly film) roles come up. I'll need to drop everything and go to the auditions, which makes sense, since that's the way the business works. An agent makes a percentage of whatever his/her actor makes on each acting job... so it's in the agent's best interest that he get his actors to as many auditions as possible... the flip side of that is an agent won't waste his/her time contacting an actor in his stable if that actor always has reasons why he/she can't/won't go to the auditions...

So, yeah, I'm torn. If acting professionally is what I want to do, then getting an agent makes sense. But that means my day-to-day schedule will need to become very flexible, to accommodate the driving around to auditions, often with a day or less notice. The good thing, in this case, is that the agent that is coming in 2 weeks is a San Diego agent, for San Diego jobs. That means local work, rather than LA. I think that will let me get a good taste of the way it all works, without having to dive right into the deep end up in Hollywood.

All that to say, I'm trying to settle on a monologue to work on, for the showcase. Who knows? In a couple weeks time, I could begin updating you on auditions and roles I'm trying out for, eh!

Ah, well. Baby steps, eh?

Friend of the Blog Havah sent me this link to a Whose Line Is It Anyway? clip that I thought was very impressive...

Wow. That's some amazing fast-thinking...

So I've been pondering "subconscious self sabotage" lately. I've been working on my screenplay about daydreams, and of course have done soul searching along the way. I don't know if you're like me at all, but I have dreams and aspirations in many arenas, but they always seem to remain just out of reach... when I take steps towards pursuing them, the steps seem quite short-lived. I think it's easier for me to hang onto simplified, vague dreams, hoping they'll somehow simply come true some day... rather than realize that pursuing them not only requires lots of focus and hard work, but also comes with the realization that the dreams are far more complex and involved and unpleasant than I want them to be. Being an actor, a novelist, a screenwriter, a playwright, a film maker, a cartoonist.... all things I tell myself I'm good at (good enough to be professional at (meaning earn some $$$)), and in my head I step right to the finish line... and in each case, actually buckling down and doing the work is usually painful.

Maybe I'm just lazy.

All that to say, the easy route seems to be to leave them to sit there as simplified dreams, assuming I have all the time in the world to somehow stumble into success... I have complex and wonderful (IMHO) stories inside me, waiting to get out to you all... I see the finished product in my head as well. Bridging the two with the actual work is where the pain is. Learning to embrace the pain; that is where I'm at as of this moment. I hate having all of these unfinished projects heaped around my head.

Bleh, end of rant. I'll grow up some day.

Something to drink? A ranch dressing-flavored soda, perhaps..?

I've rambled enough for one night. I have other things lined up to whine about, but I think I'll spare you the discomfort. Isn't that overly-considerate of me? See? See how close friends we are? SEE?!?!?!?

Hope you week is a great one.

Dave the Goof

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Man, What a Steaming Pantload!

I'm flying!

Well, hello all! How's things, eh? Come on, don't be shy. Tell me! Wait... you mean this isn't a round table discussion? It's more of a narcissistic monologue, whereby the speaker imagines that everyone is actually interested in hearing him prattle on wearily about himself?

Oh, ok! I'm good at that!

Ah, all the exciting things that have happened since last we spoke! Where to begin!?!?

Got my annual physical today! Woohoo! Actually, I'm a few years behind on the "annual" part. Speaking of "behind", yes, I did get my prostate checked today. Oh, joy! When my doctor got out the latex gloves and the little bottle of KY, I knew I was in for a treat... I asked him, "Hey, don't you have to buy me dinner first, there, big guy?" Needless to say, I'm glad that experience is "behind" me. BUAHAHAHAH!! Oh, and he said everything was fine in there, lol. So I have *that* going for me...

What else? Well, I got my braces fixed a few days ago. Had some interesting dental issues while I was on my 6 week sabbatical. It involved a root canal, antibiotics, and wildly wandering tooth, a couple weeks of snaggle-toothed embarrassment, and several woundings of my pride. Probably good for me, ultimately. Anyway, that's all fixed now, so now I can flash my stunning smile at you all again. Through my webcam, I mean... I will be Skyping each of you individually and smiling at you for a few moments, and then rudely hanging up on you. Prepare yourselves...

A small refrigerator, for a single can of soda! And it's USB powered! Someone needs to win an award for that!

That reminds me, I lied to my doctor today. Twice, actually. First, he asked me if I drank sodas, and I said no. I drink soda maybe once every other week (that's twice a month, for those in the back rows)... not sure why I didn't just say "twice a month"... maybe I thought it was close enough to a "no" to qualify. The other lie I told was that I exercised three times a week. That's a 50% overstatement of the facts. I work out once with my trainer, and will throw the weights around my livingroom once a few days afterwards. So the real answer should have been twice a week...

I LIED!!!! What is wrong with me!!!?!?!? Oh, the shame and the ignominy! See? See the type of openness and soul-bearing and honesty that goes on in this blog? See what I sacrifice of myself to entertain you!?!?!

There's also sole-bearing happening. Here, see the bottom of my shoe? See?

So today was 9-11. Like just about everyone, I remember where I was when I first heard about what happened that day. I was driving into work. By this time, the collapses had occurred a few hours earlier. I turned talk radio on, and they were talking about planes hitting towers and towers collapsing, and the remarkable video of it all. At the time, I thought they meant at the airport, referring to air traffic controller towers. I figured it must have been foggy and maybe a plane missed the runway and hit an airport tower, knocking it down, causing a crash. Honestly, I shrugged and turned the radio off. Bummer, right? Plane crashes suck. It wasn't until I got into work that others filled me in on what actually happened. Weird.

Of course, then I got really into the whole thing, reading everything I could find. And, as many of you know, kinda got into the whole "government is behind 9-11" conspiracy stuff for a while. Thankfully, I found my way out of that mindset.

On a wildly different note, I have a quick summary for you, of Things I've Seen Lately that have either Impressed Me or Disappointed Me.

On the positive side, I watched 3 seasons of Justified, and loved every bit of it... although now that I've had a few days to let it simmer, I'm seeing some of the weaknesses in the series that I didn't see before, being too close to the action. I still love the writing, the acting, the storytelling, the production values, the presentation, etc.... but really, some of the characters were inconsistent. And some of the choices that were made were kind of PC when I think about it. I mean, many of the characters were rather hard-core white supremacists... but other than some dialog demonstrating such in Season One, they toned it WAAAYY down, such that even though many of them had the nazi tattoos and such, they never really did or said anything to demonstrate that they were any different in their beliefs (and thus, their actions) than any of the other non-skinhead characters. I'm not a fan of racism, real or fictional... but I do wonder about those character choices.

Also, man, so many people get killed in that show... I bet Raylon (the lead character) uses his gun more in one episode than most US Marshals do in their entire careers. The dude goes through ammo like it's coffee... Harlan Country must be the murder capital of the country, lol...

OK, so Justified is still awesome, in spite of its emerging weaknesses. Also, I got Star Trek Into Darkness on Blu-ray and watched it again. MAN, what an awesome movie. That movie is like a Master's class on making an action film. They should show that in Director's School (if there was such a thing, lol). So well made, it isn't even funny.

On the flip side, I've seen some real stinkers lately as well. I watched a Jason Statham movie called "Parker" recently with Wifey. Avoid this movie at all costs. It is rank fecal matter on celluloid. Also lame is the film Riddick, in which Vin Diesel tries (in vain) to make a gourmet meal out of baloney (figuratively speaking, of course. In other words, bad script). So sad to see "them" destroy a cool action character like that. I'd elaborate on it, but it would depress me.

Finally, I watched, after all these years, "Chaplin" (1992), in which an Oscar-nominated Robert Downey Jr tries to bring Charlie Chaplin to life on film. I suppose I simply waited far too many years to actually see this one... I was prepared to like it. I was not prepared for the schlocky, hokey, poorly-written, limply-acted 2+hour mess that I sat through. I was stunned! It was shocking how lame it was. Perhaps for 1992, that's what the world considered Oscar-caliber acting and film-making, but it definitely does not stand up today. 1992 was the year Unforgiven won for Best Picture, and Al Pacino won the Best Actor statue for Scent of a Woman. Also nominated for Best Actor were Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), and Denzel Washington (Malcom X) and that dude from Crying Game. That RDJ was included in that group is kind of amazing to me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy his current acting, especially his Sherlock Holmes and Tony Stark... but, man, his Chaplin was so ham-fisted, it was stunning to me. And his accent! OMG his Cockney/British accent was hilariously bad...

So, yeah, avoid Parker, Riddick and Chaplain.

It's been too long since I included a "you can't just walk into Mordor" reference...

Oh, and that fantasy short story collection I'm reading (called Unfettered) has hit two homers at last. After a string of mediocre attempts by many prominent names in the fantasy genre, The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian and Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood are absolutely wonderful efforts. Definitely made the book worth buying. I'm about half-way through the title at the moment, so many more pieces of writing lay ahead. I'll keep you posted, eh!

I think I'm going to hit the road now. Hope you're all doing well.

Adios for now,

Dave the Unfettered

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Entertain Me!

A little Bora Bora to get things rolling tonight...

OK, first things first. Improv! We had an "all improv" night in acting class tonight...

Gads, I hate improv. I am sooo bad at it, it's painful. Let me qualify that... when it's not my turn, and I'm watching other people do improv from the comfort and safety of my own seat, I can think of all kinds of awesome, clever and/or funny things I'd do and say if I were up there at the moment. But as soon as I get to (have to?) get up in front of the class, I get brain freeze, sweat like a pig, and painfully bumble my way through the exercise, and then retreat to my seat with tail between legs... it's humiliating.

I guess it's a pride thing... I want to be good at it. I am not. From what I understand, the purpose of doing improv is to teach us to listen to the other actors we have scenes with, and to be "in the moment", etc. Yeah, I get that. I just wish there was a different way to learn those skills. I'm wondering how long I can continue to try and improve on a skill I really dislike. Love acting; starting to hate improv. Robin Williams I am not.

Anyway, that's that.

One of the improv exercises we had to do was "Sit, Stand, Bend"... here are some pro's doing it right...

Our attempts were nowhere near as good. Ouch.

Next, I found a new TV program to watch called "Justified"... perhaps you've heard of it? Anyway, I haven't enjoyed a show this much since my "Lie To Me" binge last year. Man, what a great show. The main character is a US Marshall named Raylon Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant), and the dude is all man... capital M! I admit I kind of have a man-crush on him... wish I was that cool. Anyway, here, check out the trailer for Season One...

Trust me... top notch writing, acting and storytelling. Great characters. I especially like Walton Groggins as Boyd Crowder and Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett. If you've seen Saving Private Ryan, you know Jeremy Davies as Corporal Upham, and he was also on LOST as Daniel Faraday. His performance in Justified is awesome.

Anyway, check it out, if you want. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch four full seasons.

Speaking of great things I've seen lately, I saw Star Trek Into Darkness earlier this week (on Labor Day, actually), and was blown away by how great it was. I mean, 10 out of 10. The third 10/10 I've awarded a movie in the past decade (besides Batman Begins and Inception). Love the multi-layered villain Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), and loved the dialog, but I was most amazed by the way it was shot. Each scene was staged and framed so incredibly well. Major props to JJ Abrams. I don't recall another action/adventure film I've seen that was crafted as well as that one. I can't wait to see what he does with the next Star Wars movie...

What else? Well, my reading has tapered off. Still inching my way through Unfettered (a collection of short stories in the fantasy vein, by various heavy hitters in the genre). So far, I'm grossly underwhelmed. I won't name names, since I've been stung by that before.

Hey, Christmas approaches. Time for the church holiday drama to begin! And by that, I mean the Christmas play we do each year (not the *other* type of annual drama, lol). For those that may recall, we had to pull the plug on last year's attempt, due to my inability to keep a cast together (in the midst of some other church drama going on, unfortunately), so it was the first time since 1996 that we didn't do a play of some kind. The plan was to regroup and attempt the same script again this year, but I think it will be harder to get a cast of 14 together this year than it was last year (unless I bring in some ringers from my acting class, or hold open auditions).

So I decided to dig out a script from my archive that I wrote a bunch of years back that we never performed. It has a cast of three. It's about the wisemen. I dug it out and re-read it recently.... at the risk of sounding like I'm tooting my own horn here, I really like it. It's good! But the three roles have a lot of lines... it will take three serious actors... fingers crossed. I have some ideas. We'll see...

Hey, if you want to read the script, let me know and I'll email it to you...

Met with a new local MEET-UP group called "Collaborative Film Projects", whereby people with moviemaking/acting skills gather to get projects going. Writers, actors, directors, editors, sound/lighting people, musicians... it's pretty exciting, actually. We all pitched ideas this time, and one was picked, and now it's underway... the script is ready, but everything else needs to be done. Should be fun to get some actual work in front of camera done. I'll let you know how things proceed.

Well, I think I'm going to call it a night. Going to go watch some more Justified and then hit the sack.

Adios for now,

Dave the Entertained

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back In the Saddle Again

Well, hello everyone! It's Dave the Recalcitrant, back in the Saddle again. Why did I capitalize the word Saddle? I have no idea... perhaps I've lost my edge, taking 6 weeks off... will you still respect me if I Randomly capitalize words in this post?

So, you all look good! Looks like the summer has been good to you all. You look well-rested, a little more tan, refreshed. Nice. You smell good, too!

Me? Well, plugging along. I'm glad I took the time off. Got some writing done. Read a couple nice books. Had a birthday celebration week (I'm 43 now! Don't believe me? Well, cut me in half and count the rings!) Still plugging along with the acting classes (not famous yet, but I'm working on it!). Didn't go hiking in the mountains - sorry, those aren't my feet in the opening photo... basically, it was "the road well-traveled" for me. Work, church, sleep, play, create, in various combinations.

One thing I didn't do was run a marathon... unlike this guy (Eric Strand), who decided to run a double-marathon in Duluth earlier this year. He got up in the middle of the night, the night before the official marathon... he started at the finish line at 3am, ran through the night, ending up at the official starting line at starting time, turned around and ran back again with the masses...

Wow, 52.4 miles... Impressive...

So let's see... where to start...

I had a birthweek instead of a birthday this year (back around August 16). It involved various outings and events that stretched over the whole week around my birthday. I had things planned for 7 days continuous, but hey, things don't always work out as planned, eh? Some got cancelled, others got moved, but in the end, I had a nice dinner, had a LAN party, and a Scrabble party, and saw a movie or two... so all things considered, I'd call it a win.

New SEALS recruits...

I also went downtown to see the "Best of" screening for this year's "48 Hour Film Festival", in which teams of filmmakers compete to create a short film from scratch in 48 hours. It was a fun evening: some great short films, a cool theater, some passionate, nutty people... my kind of scene. To participate, you gather a team of actors, sound people, an editor, director, etc, and sign up. Then one Friday night, everyone gathers to grab a genre out of a hat. You also get a character name, a prop, a line of dialog, and a concept which all have to be worked into your final film (between 3 and 7 minutes in duration), and boom, you have to create a script, film it, edit it and submit it before Sunday evening. Pretty cool concept, actually, and some of the finalists were quite good.

My acting instructor was featured in one of the final 12... can't seem to find it on YouTube, but when I do, I'll post it so you can see the man in action. The winning film was called "A Man Called McClane". You can click the title there and see it, if you want. There are competitions in cities around the country and beyond, and the winners from each city go on to compete at the national level. It's fun to pop "48 Hour Film Project 2013" into the YouTube search bar and watch some of the winners from all over. Just to see what people are doing, and are able to do in 2 days. Very fun. I will definitely participate next summer.

EDIT: OK, I found my acting coach's 48 Hour film entry... it's on Vimeo, not YouTube. It's horror/thriller genre, so prepare yourself accordingly, if you dare to watch it. My coach plays the doctor (he's Stephen Walters). HERE is the link. It's called "Deranged"... honestly, I don't really understand the film...

What a cool idea...

So I read a couple books since last we spoke. Colours in Steel, by the great KJ Parker is the opening book in a fantasy trilogy about an aging swordsman. Excellent book, enjoyed it greatly. Another title I read was a collection of story "episodes" in a series called Black Book, by Dylan Jones. It was an intriguing tale, but not much of it was told in Volume One, and I'm not sure I'm interested enough to pursue the series any further. The third title I read, in a nod to blog friend Logan, was my first ever "graphic novel" experience.... Volume One of Sandman, written by Neil Gaimann. I like the art, but I'm not sure I like graphic novels as a story-telling medium... the story moves so fast, and uses so little info/dialog, I didn't really feel like I could savor the story at all. I'll try another graphic novel (I bought The Watchmen), and try again before abandoning the medium.

Currently reading a non-fic book on "story maps" for screenplays, and a collection of Fantasy short stories by various genre luminaries, called Unfettered. I'm a half-dozen stories in, and frankly, I'm rather disappointed by the content thus far. Pat Rothfuss has a piece in there which is wildly unlike anything of his I'd read before, and really, I couldn't finish it.

Movies I've seen include: Wolverine, We're the Millers, Pacific Rim and I will be seeing a double feature on Labor Day with my friend Lloyd consisting of Star Trek Into Darkness and World War Z. Plus, a truckload of titles on Netflix too numerous and varied to mention.

This guy is great at impressions...

So what dost the future hold? Well, more dental nonsense, a physical, jury duty and more of the same listed above (work, church, reading, writing, entertaining myself as my life drains away, etc.) What? You expected me to suddenly transform into someone interesting on my hiatus?! Sorry to disappoint you! It's just me! Plain ol' me!

If anything fun and/or interesting happens, I'll be sure to add it to my next post. In the interim, have a great week, eh!

Adios for now,

Dave the Returned...