Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adios, 2007


My, my, where has the decade gone? No time to get philosophical or comprehensive. Am heading up north to the Winter Wonderland that is Mackinac Island to celebrate the new year with friends and loved ones.

And what could be better than ending the year and beginning a new one with another fine road trip adventure?

Friday, December 28, 2007

I don't have the words

Back from Christmas. When I'm asked how my father is, I don't know what to say really.

He's terrible, of course, and getting worse every day. And the worsening is happening faster and faster. When you drop a rock off a cliff, it eventually achieves terminal velocity. This is the opposite -- it just continues to accelerate.

What can you say?
It's Alzheimer's. In some ways it's better than you've heard and others worse than you can imagine. And it's barely begun. It's been over for a while and it won't be done for years.

I guess, ultimately, people aren't so much interested in exactly how my my father is. I suppose they're expressing their concern or asking how I am. And that's nice, but still, I don't really have an answer, or one I can or feel like putting in words.

I'm terrific, right? I'm not him. And, better yet, I'm not the one there responsible for him, day to day. I'm getting off scot-free. I'm the smooth criminal.

And that is that.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweet


Man, I couldn't be happier with the results of the photo shoot.

Zoe McKenzie Photography, everybody.


I didn't really know them from Adam's proverbial housecat, but they were recommended by my agents.
And then up to my appointment when I mentioned to people that they were doing my photos, everyone was like, "Oh, wow -- they're great/the best/really hot now."


So it's nice to do something top-of-the-line instead of on the cheap.


I believe it shows ...

The ones without glasses are pretty surprising. I'm told this one "makes me look like a man" -- i.e., a grown-up, which is a little disturbing.

Here's a completely naked face -- no glasses, no beard. I look a little too much like my Dad here.


There are so many to choose to from. At least a hundred that would be good. I love this one. What a handsome man!


Thank you, Zoe's!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Water under the bridge

Looks like I didn't get the job. So close. My agent called Thursday and said the client wanted to know if I did ear prompter or was really, really good at memorizing. Don't know if it came down to that in the end, but it was definitely a factor.

I should get one of those ear thingies. I know I can do it. I just need to get fitted for one so I can.

So that's kind of a bummer. It wasn't like it was the greatest paying job in the world (though it was better than average), but it would have been fun, and it would make a nice addition to my reel (which is just an idea at this point anyway ...)

But again, it's an honor just to be nominated, right?

At least the year ended on a good note client-wise. We met Thursday morning with our law firm client and we proposed new ad campaigns and an overhaul of their web site and marketing materials, and they absolutely loved it all. Just ecstatic. The stuff we're putting together is like nothing anyone else in the market is doing and it will really help them stand out. So yay.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crap

So they called to check my availability, which would normally be a good thing, but past experience tells me that if I was their first choice they'd just book me outright. Unless there could possibly be someone who was not among the 6 or 7 people in that room that they need to show options to. I suppose that's possible.

Either way, I think I'll know tomorrow. And either way, I suppose it's good to have a couple of good auditions.

Oydeal

Getting a callback's not SO unusual. Getting called back for the very same day is new.

That's what happened today, causing much juggling of client obligations and a total planes, trains and automobiles scenario. Without the planes.

This was another one where they asked for a "Steve Carell" type. And it was actually a pretty good script this time, and a pretty good fit for me. At that Callback show where the casting directors were guests, they had said what they really like is when people come in and improvise the hell out of it instead of just sticking to the script. So that's what I did.

Though I guess it wasn't actual "improv" -- it was a bunch of unscripted bits that I worked up beforehand. Some of them seemed to be pretty funny and lo and behold they called me back. Don't know if it was that or my ability to take direction -- they had me do two scripts three different ways each.

So in the callback they paired me up with someone playing the other character, and it just happened to be someone I knew, so that was good. I went in with some additional bits and tried to give them more of what I hope they wanted.

The funny thing is, the first audition this morning actually was a callback. Only I didn't go through the first-round. The callback was my first shot. When that happens, I always wonder why. I suppose they didn't get what they were looking for the first time around.

After all that, it would be a supreme drag not to get it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Handsome Boy Modeling School

The sun stayed out and I got my new headshots done -- all in time for the '07 tax year!

It was a great afternoon. They've got this huge warehouse/loft space and we used just about all of it -- rooms, stairways, even the rooftop (brr)! Eight wardrobe changes, 400 photos and multiple facial combinations -- with/without glasses, with/without goatee.

It's weird that I don't really know what I look like without glasses. Since I can only see about six inches in front of my face, the mirror doesn't give much perspective. But when I take them off, people always go "whoa." Not because they're so spectacular (though they're kinda cool, green and all), but because the glasses are like a reverse magnifier, so without them the eyes look GIANT.

So seeing them bare in the viewfinder was ... I don't know what. Frightening? It's definitely a different look. And I'm going to have tons of options.

I get to see the proofs online Friday. Can't wait to see them. And to finally enter 2005 with headshots in LIVING COLOR. And get my facial hair back.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Of course, it's sunny

Damn. Among the options I had for rescheduling my headshot appointment was this morning at 10. And I thought at the time, "Really? Am I going to be in condition and the mood for a photo shoot at 10 am on a Sunday?" So I went for Monday instead, and all week have been anxiously checking the forecasts.

Of course, I can't control the weather (yet), so fretting is pretty useless. But if we don't get these done this week, it probably won't happen until January. Tom Skilling says this just happens to be the cloudiest December in history. Hold on, sun ...

Regarding recent (and chronic) audition anxiety, I attended another episode of The Callback the other night where a couple of key Chicago casting directors were guests. The audience got to submit questions, so I asked what it means when you get called in all the time to a casting agency and then suddenly go a few weeks with hardly any auditions?

The answer was reassuring, and not, as I suspected, simply that I suck. They said it means you're at the top of the agency's list and that sometimes, inexplicably, for no reason that even they understand but that they recognize as a normal part of the process, shit happens. You might be an African American male actor in your '50s and suddenly in one short period every job that comes through their office will call for an African American male actor in his '50s. Followed, just as mysteriously, by a period of nothingness.

So there you go.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Storyteller

I've realized in recent years that, contrary to my long-held beliefs, I can be a pretty good storyteller. Still, I thought an even bigger hindrance was not having any decent "material" from my own life to drawn on.

I look at some of the writers I admire -- people like Sedaris and Dave Eggars -- and think, it must help a lot when you're surrounded all your life by colorful characters and go through bizarre experiences. By comparison, I've led a pretty ordinary, whitebread, vanilla kind of life. But good stories are everywhere, waiting to be found and brought out with a little creativity and a lot of hard work.

That's what this experience with the The Callback has taught me. I actually do have some decent stories to tell. And more than one.

So I've decided I'm going to put together a book. Whether or not it has a prayer of being published doesn't matter. But I am going to take a step I've thought about for years but never taken. I'm going to seek out representation.

The reason I didn't do it before was because the kind of writing I've been doing isn't very marketable. There's not much money in short plays or funny little poems. Agents are looking for sitcom spec scripts (and I don't want to be and am too old to be a sitcom writer) or screenplays. Or books.

So that's what I'm shooting for. Since the Callback show, I've crafted a second essay, based on something I blogged about earlier this year and I've outlined a half-dozen or so other ideas. The goal is not to tell my life story, at least not in a literal, totally linear way, but to present elements and episodes of a life in a series of vignettes that could easily stand alone but also, taken together, form sort of the patchwork of a larger story.

That's my goal for the new year. Get a literary agent and work on completing this project.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Instant Gratification Boy

I was supposed to get new headshots taken this morning, but it was called on account of weather. We're not shooting outside or anything, but they prefer to use natural light because it's looks better. I like that they're conscientious enough to be concerned about that, so it reaffirms that I'm working with the right people.

On the other hand, I hate waiting. I take a while sometimes to mull decisions, but when my mind is made up, I want it NOW. If I go furniture shopping, I'll buy the scuffed up floor model rather than wait an excruciating 12 weeks for delivery. I got a new suit and sportcoat over Thanksgiving and it's killing me to wait for the alterations.

Same with the headshots. My black-and-whites are looking worse than ever right now as I prepare to take them to an audition. I wanted to get this all wrapped up before the new year.

And it's not just the waiting. The timing and preparation is tricky. You need to get a haircut far enough in advance that it doesn't look like you just got a haircut, but not so far that it starts to look sloppy. You need to have wardrobe cleaned and pressed and ready to go. Beard length, tooth brightness, etc., etc. It's all very complicated.

So I wait.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Truthiness

I've been getting a lot of really nice feedback on the essay from people from all parts and points of my life -- old friends, former co-workers, actors, family. I'm really touched. Not just by all the nice words, but by the fact that so many people actually went to the trouble of listening to it.

Good lesson. If you can't bring people to the show, bring the show to the people.

It makes me a little self-conscious. Partly because it's all very personal. I think my family learned more about me in 16 minutes than they have in the past 10 years. That's just the kind of family we are.

Also I was concerned that it was truthful. And most of all, not self-aggrandizing. The hardest part about writing something from your own life is sometimes divorcing yourself from the facts, which can be the enemy of a good story.

I got to a place where I could do that with some of the plays I wrote based on things from my own experience, but for this I felt a little higher calling to the truth. I keep thinking of Lionel Hutz: "Do you want the truth or the "truuuutthh?"

So I think I achieved something like 95 to 98% accuracy, with just a little shaping of the edges of things. Some compressed chronology, some slight overdramatization here and there. Especially the big climactic moment at the end.

But I stand by it. Anyway, I learned a long time ago that there actually is no such thing as the truth -- at least, no such thing as an objective truth. I guess in the end I would say the story was honest. Which may be an even higher standard.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Listen up!

You can listen to my personal essay, Why Do We Act? A Search for Meaning and Purpose. Or At Least a Decent Rationalization, by going here.

It will take you to The Callback page, where you can hear it immediately by hitting “Click to Listen” or download it for free from iTunes.

The whole show is about an hour, but my part comes in at minute 21. And it goes almost 17 minutes! It was supposed to be 10. We knew it was going long and they were cool with that, but still ...

So you can skip ahead to my part or listen to the rest of the show, which is also interesting. Other guests include the new Managing Director of TimeLine Theatre and the new Artistic Director of American Theater Company. And a couple of the regular features are always entertaining.

I was pretty pleased on first listen. And couldn't help timing the audience's applause. For the record, 15 seconds!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dearth

I'm getting my new headshots taken next week and it occurred to me this morning that, crap, I had no commercial auditions last week or the week before. Okay, one of those weeks was Thanksgiving. And I guess I did get a call about an audition last week, but it's from this agent who I'm basically cutting ties with, so I didn't go.

Still, my thought was, "What am I spending hundreds of dollars on new headshots for?" But then I keep telling myself, even if I quit tomorrow or never got another audition, it would still be nice to have really good pictures of myself that I'm proud of.

Last week, after accepting that role I got an offer from the other round of callbacks I did recently. It was for the play where I had such a great time at the auditions. But it was to understudy. So I thought about it, and even with a couple of guaranteed performances and some modest actor pay, I'd rather be on stage, part of the ensemble. So that's that.