Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Professional Disqualification

Last night, I sat in a group of five at a bar a couple block from my girlfriend’s apartment. We just finished playing about five rounds of Spongebob Squarepants bingo. We won the little boxed game as a third-place prize at bar trivia a ten minute walk away. We were all putting a dollar in for each round for the heck of it. I won twice, everyone else but my friend Larson, won once, so everyone who was up tossed our winnings back into the pot and bought him a beer. At least, I think that’s where the money went.

The next game we played was something they call the movie game. Someone names a movie. The next person in the circle names someone who was in it. The next person names another movie that person was in, etc etc. If you can’t come up with something, you’re out. If you don’t think the person who just named an actor or movie can come up with an associated movie or actor, you can challenge them, and if they can't name anyone/thing they’re out instead.

This is a game that highlights one of my main failings as a professional actor. I don’t know any famous actors or movies.

Here’s how bad I was: I didn’t even bother playing the first round. When the second round came, three people went, and Todd, the guy immediately before me, was given “Robert Downey Jr.” He looked at me and you could just see the pity in his eyes. He decided to try to be nice.

“Iron Man” He said.

I’d watched it once out of boredom on my laptop. I didn’t remember anyone in it.

“Was Don Cheadle in that?” I asked.

Everybody hemmed and hawed a bit. Todd said “Well, technically that was Iron Man 2, but I’ll take it.”

That went to Dana, who blanked and challenged me to name another movie with Don Cheadle.

I shrugged. “I dunno.”

Todd rattled off about half a dozen movies with Don Cheadle in them. I recognized Hotel Rwanda, but I’d never seen it. The rest of them I don’t think I’d heard of.

Movies just aren’t a big part of my life. I don’t have anything against them. I like a good movie as much as the next guy. But aside from a handful of group outings to this joke of cult movie called The Room, I’ve seen the inside of a movie theater a grand total of two times in 2011. Possibly 2010-2011, actually. I don’t remember seeing anything in theaters in 2010. One of the 2011 movies was a valentines day date to Gnomeo and Juliet (Dana has a thing for gnomes), and another was randomly seeing the Ides of March with a friend of mine.

It’s a bit of a handicap when people are trying to use movies and celebrities as shorthand for work I’m supposed to be involved in. I try to make an excuse saying I’m more of a theater guy. It sort of works.

I know that as an actor, Netflix could be counted against my taxes as a business expense. I’m sort of tempted, just to help get me in line with normal civilization, let alone my industry. But if I try that, it's going to take a lot of hours to catch up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Left Outside

It's the things that go unexplained in this city that stick with me.

Like what you see to the left. It's not much of a picture, and I'm sorry, but I can describe what I found to you.

In the very lefthand edge of the shot is the front door to my apartment building in Spanish Harlem. The main focus is of the entrance to the building next door. It's around midnight last night. The streets are empty, and the only sign of life is a baby bottle, mostly full, sitting upright on the front step.

I don't know why it's there, who it belonged to, or really what was actually inside.

I'd just come home from the Shakespeare forum. On my way out, I got a hug from a friend who I had only seen half a dozen times since we did a show together in February.

"I never get to hear what's going on except in your blog," She said.

"And I haven't written in it." I admitted.

The trouble is partly time. I have eight tutoring students to take care of, several of them are... let's say "high maintenance." Also not knowing what to say. I've been to Chicago and back. And Seattle and back. I've learned some very big things about myself due to rather outwardly minor and uninteresting events that I'm still unraveling in my head.

I lose track of things in my life. Especially around this time at night, a little past midnight. I finished the novel. I haven't brought myself to read it yet. I have a performance next Tuesday. I leave for Seattle again the Tuesday after that for Christmas. I haven't done any shopping for it. I have a new television and the first video game I've bought in around five years sitting in my apartment.

I've gotten a half dozen brilliant ideas of what to do with myself over the last week, started half of them, and really not finished any. A lot of them involve voiceover. One involved graduate school, and not for acting. I'll probably write more about that later, but it relates to the "still unraveling in my head" category I mentioned before.

So if I can't give you a coherent story, I can at least give you an image. A tired twenty-five year old tutor coming home to find a baby bottle on the next door's front steps at midnight. I took a picture of it, and got a strange look from the only other passerby on the street. As if I'd set the whole thing up.

I didn't. And while it wasn't wondering who did and why that kept me lying awake and staring at the ceiling in bed past 3am that night, I'd still like to know.