Friday, May 25, 2007

I Hate Relearning S&1t

I've had a couple of occasions recently to be reminded of things I had forgotten. Man I hate that shit. I mean I'm glad anytime a solution for a problem is found, but whenever it's a reminder rather than a discovery I always get a bit annoyed at myself. Cycles, learning is relearning, yeah yeah, I know. Sometimes it just bugs me. Like now.
First example: My sister reminded me of a very useful technique last night, called the Twenty Minute Rule. The idea is simple; when faced with a task that one is at all resistant to, one simply decides to tackle it for only twenty minutes. After the time is up, one is free to go onto something else, guilt assuaged, one's inner Puritan mollified. Can one really get anything done in twenty minutes? Surprisingly yes, more than one usually expects but, in any case, one gets more done in twenty minutes than in zero, which is often what I've been giving my chores. For my sister (who really should have a blog of her own, but refrains for some very sound reasons) the task she's recently found daunting is her garden. She and her husband Tony have a beautiful place (see photo), that I covet with a most unbrotherly passion, but she reminded me how easily its care can turn into obligations which, depending on time ignored or one's general state of mind, can become reproaches. It can, in fact, quickly become ample evidence in the growing case one is building (somehow I ALWAYS have time for this) for why one is an utter waste as a human being. In the case of the garden, deadheading, weeding, pruning, planting new plants, checking for voracious bugs, are just a few of the tasks that go into making something look that good and 'natural'. So she recently reinstituted the twenty minute rule, the garden is happy, she's happy, it's all good. Of course the secret weapon of this technique is the way it fools our inner Couch Potato; often after an hour she will find herself still happily puttering away in the garden, actually enjoying herself. It's best to ignore this side of the technique though, so as not to betray the Couch Potato's trust. If you say it will be twenty-minutes, and anyone (your Inner Child, Inner Couch Potato, Inner Naysayer, Inner Crank, whatever) is not having fun at the end of twenty minutes, you stop. Follow the rule, or it won't work in the future.
Heartened by this reminder, I've used it repeatedly all morning. Being unemployed, it's an especially good way to structure my time. Here it is, 1:30pm, and I am sufficiently ahead in my chores to feel that a few minutes writing on my blog (in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY?) is permitted.
Man, I hate this shit.
Second example: I had reason to be leafing back through some fairly old emails, from 2002-04, and while I was seeking specific information, easily fell into the trap of rereading old notes just for the hell of it. Naturally I discovered that three to five years ago I was frustrated by many of the same things, complaining about the same things, struggling with the same self-doubts and confusions, same problems all around. Subsequent emails showed me how I began to fight my way out of that quagmire and surprise, many of the discoveries I made and things I tried are the very ones I've come back to recently, including, of course, the twenty minute rule.
I really really REALLY hate this shit.
Okay, so I'm on an upswing of sorts at the moment, it feels like the sludge is getting broken up JUST a bit (don't want to jinx it), syphoned off, that's all just absolutely NIFTY, I'm not really helped by bitching about how long it took me to learn STUFF I ALREADY KNOW. I really want to, though.
I'll give it twenty minutes.
Now, perhaps as tonic for my own grouching...
When I'm modeling for college drawing classes at the beginning of the school year, quite often first year students will become so disgusted with their efforts, so horrified at the ugliness that is their art (and by extension of course, their very being) that they will choose to crumple the offending, hideous, EXCREMENTAL page into a tiny, diamond-hard ball, and throw it away, getting the offending sheet as far from them as possible. (As a side note, is there anything more melodramatic than a teenager, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation? Drama Queens, the lot of 'em). Usually the teacher takes that opportunity to remind them that they are being graded on their PROGRESS throughout the semester, so they should save everything, to have an accurate record of the semester. Most of them accept it gracelessly, since, hey, apparently it's a RULE... but you can tell they resent it. A lot. It's usually not until much later in the semester, or year, that they experience the pedagogical beauty of this rule. As we progress in anything, so does our gauge of excellence. We forget the lessons we already learned, and focus only on the impossible task before us. So sometimes, a student will be faced with a new frustration, a new thing she's just not getting, and the teacher will make her look at one of her earliest sketches. Suddenly, she'll realize how things that used to seem impossible now are second nature. Usually she also makes the leap that if she did it before, she can probably do it again.
As an actor, it is perhaps a bit harder to find these records of past efforts, a collection of my past 'sketches.' I'm smart enough to know NOT to look to videotapes of live shows for this experience, and while previous films MIGHT work, I don't have any film work to look at yet. Rehearsals, like performances disappear the minute they are over. This is the beauty and the heartache of theatre. Nonetheless, I think I benefit greatly from looking behind me, and realizing I've actually progressed, however minimally. I just have to remember to do it, and how.
I will forget all this again, apparently. Forty plus years of experience shows me that, at the very least. So maybe I'm leaving this entry as a note to my future self, for the next time when I feeling trapped, blocked, or useless.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rise Above

I imagine everyone has heard that Jerry Falwell died yesterday. All the queer-lovin', pinko commie lefty blogs I read made mention of it. Surprise, no one was too broken-up about it. In the blog entries themselves and their accompanying comments, people acknowledged they were not sorry to see him go. There was lots of speculation about what part of hell he was now inhabiting, and who his cellmates are. A certain number looked forward to dancing or spitting on his grave. There was in fact, a distinctly celebratory air. Then, as is usually the case in these situations, some voices called this tone unseemly. "A man has died," more than one person said, "his family is no doubt grief-stricken. It is cruel, ugly, and gives us homos a bad name to be crowing like this over someone else's suffering."

Okay, I see no benefit to rubbing salt in the wounds his loved ones are no doubt presently suffering. I would, however, like to point out that crowing over the suffering of others was one of Falwell's favorite pasttimes. Here, stolen from Joe.My.God. are a few choice quotations from this good Christian Leader.

- "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."-

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers."-

"(9/11 is the result of) throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen."

(Falwell did end up apologizing for this last comment, but I don't think he actually changed his mind about it, he just recognized he'd alienated more people than he wanted to. I'm not letting him off the hook for it.)

Because I found the man's actions loathsome, hateful and irresponsible, I'm not interested in playing his game. I don't need to dance on his grave. I choose not to because I think it's beneath me, though, not because of any reverence for him.

I don't know that his death really changes much. Maybe without his leadership, his fellow hatemongers will lose some momentum or political clout, but the view he spoke for isn't going anywhere just because he's dead. I still believe that firm demands for our civil rights combined with a conciliatory effort to alleviate others' ignorant prejudices is the best way forward. Crowing over someone's death doesn't really help our cause, and has us emulating some of his ugliest actions. Without scolding anyone who does feel like having a party, I am choosing not to indulge, for now.

Nonetheless, I too have to say I will not shed a tear over the death of this vicious, judgemental, hidebound hypocrite, a man who celebrated the suffering of millions, called for several more millions to die (including yours truly), and danced on as many graves as he could.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Confession

Actually I wasn't really planning on changing the name of the blog. That entry was largely inspired by the fear that my previous rant about hitting people with bricks made me sound a bit too unhinged, so I wanted to reassure you all with some self-deprecating 'wit'. Since then though, I've gotten such a strong reaction (both in person and in the comments) of support and fellow feeling re: the whole hitting people with bricks, that I no longer am worried about freaking you all out. Now I'm worried about all of you freaking out. Is it the weather? Something in the air? Is this roiling miasma of rage always there just below the surface in city living? Or do I just hang around with some whack-jobs? Pot talking to the kettle, takes one to know one, yeah yeah, I get it. Just sayin'.

Anyway (isn't that a great transition? With one single all-purpose word, I manage to change the subject. That's some fine writing right there)... Anyway, my present title still feels like the best one, summing up my usual state when writing, and best defining the over-all 'theme' of this here journal. Loose Ends... says it all, for now.

However (man, look at THAT transition; pure genius, I tell ya), if I ever do change it, it probably will be NUDE! NUDE! NUDE! The Theatrical Confessions of an Irish Quaker Homo. I just think that would cut the widest and weirdest swath on Google searches.

Thanks to all for your fine ideas. This blog, it's all about the fans for me. Really, give yourselves a hand.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Time for a Change?

I've been thinking I need to change the name of this 'blog. Some possible candidates are:

This Is Not a Metaphor

Where's My Medication?

Get Off the Damn Computer Already!

In Lieu of a Life


Any suggestions?

Other thoughts on another day:

I wish I Had a Brick

Fetch Me My Dart Gun, Boy.

These last two are probably better suited for Mr. Cranky-Pants' blog, but for now I'll just let him guest-blog from here. It probably wouldn't do to let him have too much free rein, assuming I don't actually WANT to go to jail.

I bet that last sentence sent web surveillance into a tizzy.

The last title is actually a quotation from a Doonesbury cartoon, so there might be copyright issues involved. It sums up my reaction to SO many situations here though. If I could shoot tranquilizer darts, then I might not need the tazer or the brick. I rarely need to injure the assholes in question, silencing them would often be enough for me. Also getting them out of my way.

Some Pet Peeves

So I've come to realize in the past few years that May is my favorite month of the year, followed closely be December. I love each season (as long as Summer doesn't get above 75 degrees), but if I had to choose one month it would be May. Violets, and lilacs, my first and second most favorite flowers, are in season, and I think this has a lot to do with it. I find it strangely comforting that they aren't available year-round, as so many other flowers are these days. I guess greenhouses haven't figured out a way (or bothered to try) to get them to bloom year-round, and given how fragile they both are, trying to ship them from Australia in the dead of Winter- assuming they even grow there- just wouldn't be worth it. Nope, to enjoy these blooms, one has to wait for them to bloom. I like that. I buy lilacs far more often than my budget allows, and in lieu of the woods near my parents' house, I've found some locations in Central Park where I go visit the violets when they show up. I've been to visit three times already. I've really been enjoying the season; it's nice enough to be outside during the day, then it cools down at night, so even though I have the window open (as I do year 'round), I still sleep like a log, and need a blanket. It's been great.

Then we have two days of 80 degree weather, and I'm back to being Mr. Cranky-Pants.

I've been actively working to see to that I'm not in the hell-hole that is NYC this Summer, but so far there are no concrete plans. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, auditioning when I can, sending headshots to all and sundry, trying to figure out how I can afford to go to my friend Mark's wedding in Seattle in August, while I try not to flay the hordes of stupid STUPID people who seem determined to walk in my way, ride the subway with me, and play their loud, stupid music.

So, while I look around for some serious therapy or maybe just some decent medication to help me with my misanthropy, I thought maybe I'd just let Mr. Cranky-Pants have free rein for a bit. So here are some of my pet peeves, in no particular order.

Cynics. By this I mean the smug, self-proclaimed cynics, the ones who act like it's some sort of goddam higher calling. I always want to hit them with a brick. It's such a cowardly, lazy attitude to adopt, and yet they get off on thinking they're smarter than everyone else. Hey, it's easy. You don't have to do any work to improve things in the world, hell, you don't even have to have any real opinions, you just sit back and tell other people who are actually DOING something with their lives that they're wasting their time, they're foolish, they're hopelessly naive, they're so cute and sweet, but they're never going to accomplish anything, because, hey, they're just up against too much. That's true, they are, and one of the worst things they're up against are self-satisfied, arrogant, lazy shits who have fooled themselves into thinking cynic equals genius. If all you can do is sit back and laugh at other people doing things, I really think you need to shut the hell up. Shut. The. Hell. Up.

Devil's Advocates. Here again I'm talking about the morons who adopt this as a stance, thinking it somehow accords them extra IQ points by default. If you disagree with me, let me know. If you think I'm full of shit, that's great, let me have it, punch holes in my logic, as long as you can back up your arguments with some actual substantiated facts. But if you just like playing around saying zig every time I say zag, red when I say green, then you need to be hit with a brick. You're clearly a close relative of the Cynic, because here again, you're not actually offering thoughts or opinions of your own. It's the easiest thing in the world to so no to someone else's yes, but it doesn't amount to ANYthing if you're not actually engaging in the discussion, letting your own emotions, opinions, and experiences be a part of thing and (yikes) possibly even get challenged and shot down. If you're a teacher mediating a discussion in class, then by all means, play the Devil's Advocate. If you're just some shmoe at a party thinking you're helping to liven things up a bit, then being a devil's advocate is obnoxious at best, at worst it's condescending bullshit. Worst of all, you people have convinced yourselves you're behaving in this ass-wipe way FOR OUR BENEFITS. Yes sir, you're challenging our perceptions, strengthening our arguments or showing us our folly, and it's all to HELP us. Or you think you're making the party more interesting. Funnily enough, the guys who like to do this (and for some reason it's almost always guys) are often prime examples of the 'can dish it out but can't take it' variety. You love being provocative; you hate being challenged. Bite me. Right before you take the next trolley car straight to hell, 'kay?

Wanna-Be Therapists. In my limited experience, this prick can often be found working as a director or acting teacher. If I'm not giving you what you want from the character, by all means, let me know. If you have an exercise you think might help get us where we need to be in rehearsal, please, let's give it a try. But do not, do NOT think you are qualified or remotely welcome to psycho-analyze me, or speculate about what deep-seated issues are preventing me from giving you what you're looking for. No actual therapist would DREAM of making a snap judgement about my past, my family or my emotional struggle based on one acting choice or a sludgy rehearsal. That's because actual training as a therapist tells you that doing so would be stupid. STUPID. I can safely say too that everytime a director or acting teacher has speculated about what was going on with me internally, he or she was always wrong. Always. Even if he or she had been correct however, that kind of approach has no business in a rehearsal setting. We're working to create art here, people. Yes of course when we're dealing with character-driven work, my psychological make-up becomes involved in the character's, and we're working to uncover his motives and drives. Often this takes us into very raw, vulnerable terrain for the character, and that can, in may cases, mean that I as an actor am also exploring raw, vulnerable terrain... but what I'm bringing back is choices for the art, not opportunities for you to feel like Mommy. For the record, I have two of the finest parents in the world. I do not need anymore mommies or daddies. If I need a hug, I'll let you know. If I want a therapist, I'm going to find one who is qualified, and you ain't it. So back the fuck off, and let me do my work. Which, let's be clear, is not making you feel better about your empty empty lives. Oops, have I said too much? Have I misread your responses? Have I brought up inaccurate and irrelevant speculations about your motives? Have I tried to be Freud with you? AM I MAKING MY POINT?

Don't make me get my brick.

That is all.

Mr. Cranky-Pants.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some Clarification Needed.

Dear Brad,
So, haven't heard from you in a while, I was just wondering if we were going to start shooting this Summer. I have a dance show going up in late July, and a friend's wedding in Seattle on August 5th, so the sooner I know what our plans are, the better. But no pressure. Well, maybe just a teensy bit of pressure since every day we put off filming, is another day further I get from being able to play twenty-two. Just to remind you.

Okay, I'll admit it, my real reason for writing is to ask you about some news I read on other blogs today. Word is that you're working on a new film, and have decided you want a stunt butt for this one. Sorry, butt double, I mean body double, (specifically in the buttal region) I'm still learning the lingo. I just have to ask, what the hell is up with that? We didn't get to see it in all its glory in Troy, but what we saw, well, it was magnificent, everyone said so. Pretty much the best damn thing about the movie, frankly. There are probably other films that gave us a glimpse, Thelma & Louise for example, I can't really recall now. My point is, you've got a fine ass, or at least you used to, so I'm wondering what is going on here. Are you feeling like you want to be more judicious with its unveiling, saving it for the really special projects? Are you feeling a tad insecure about your age? Boy can I relate; which reminds me, any word on my plastic surgery? Just checking. Have you decided that it's undignified for an artist of your stature to be dropping trou?

Some in the blogosphere has speculated that this indicates a new possessiveness on Angie's part. Is that true? Have you been making her question the veracity of some of those "Brad wants Jenn Back" tabloid articles we've been seeing? If so, boy howdy Brad, be careful, man. I don't want to picture the possible repercussions of an angry Angie. My blood run cold at the thought. You do not want her gunning for you.

Maybe it's just that Angie said she doesn't care for you disrobing on film anymore, and you knew better than to challenge that. I respect that. But do you think she might give you a special dispensation for our project? Assuming we're still doing The Front Runner and not some period piece involving head-to-toe black Edwardian garb and lots of ruffles, then I really think we're gonna need to see that fine ass. For the good of the project. She's an artist, a damn fine one in fact, maybe if you explain it to her like that she'd understand. I really don't know the full story with this film you're presently working on, but please try to explain to her that hiring a stunt butt for our project will seriously compromise the integrity. Seriously. That scene on the beach in the novel, we're gonna shoot that, aren't we? We really have to if we want to do justice to the book. I'm sure the author will think so. And that's gonna put your butt front and center, as it were.

So keep me posted on these delicate negotiations. And please keep my name out of it. If I end up tied naked and spread-eagled to a bed with Angie in black leather standing over me holding a whip, I want it to be under VERY different circumstances. Or have I said too much? Anyway, I'd rather she not know my position in this matter. Thanks.



PS. Per Friend Jeff's request, (see comments) I tried to find a photo of your ass to include in this post. Much to my surprise, I couldn't find any! I was sure there was at least one from Troy, or Fight Club, but so far, zilch. Maybe you've always managed to avoid having your ass photographed in the past, and this upcoming film is the first time you could no longer avoid it. Is there something we need to know, Brad? Some severe scarring, or an embarrassing tattoo? They can erase those with make-up or on film (Angie can tell you all about it), so I doubt that's the problem. So this search for a stunt butt, does it indicate a deeper story? Can't wait to hear it.

I did, of course, find the paparazzi shot of your johnson, but I don't know how to post photos on here with that "click over to see more, NSFW" option, and I know a lot of my loyal readers check this blog at work. Besides, if Angie doesn't want you showing off your ass, what would she do to me if I posted a picture of your unit? So, Brad, I'll await word from you about how I should proceed in this manner. In the meantime, here's an amazing shot of your abs, from Fight Club, in honor of Jeff's fondness for that movie. Good GOD, man. With abs like this, how bad can your ass be? Seriously.

If you'd like to read my previous correspondance with Brad go here: