Friday, October 23, 2009

Fellow smartasses

  When I posted my last entry, I stumbled across a treasure trove of images online while searching for that "Monks on a Roller Coaster" picture. What I found was a scattered collection of people like me who like to do something screwy in roller coaster pictures. I've been doing it for years, but it never occurred to me to look for other people's versions of "plunge pics." Here are some of my favorites.

Nice. Points for the genuine look of terror on the face of the guy getting held up by the hatface bandit.

Sleepy time! I've always been a fan of the "Let's look totally bored at the most intense moment of the ride" ploy. Points for the poses and the thumb sucking.

A mass teeth brush! First and only time I've seen this. Major points for group size and originality. Points also for the subtle middle finger of the kid in the front row. Rebel.

I love this one. The cell phone bit is great, and the guy is really committed to it, even holding his ear and making an annoyed "I can't hear you over this plunging roller coaster I'm on" face. The better part though, is the guy making a call on his shoe. Judging by his face, he's not getting good reception.

Just the loneliest bastard on earth. Tough break, buddy.

An obvious fake, but the concept is great. I did this one myself on my last trip down Space Mountain. Points for getting a group of four to sell the reaction.

The classic "punch out." Points to the girlfriend for being a sport.

Jenga! Another first. I love the studious intensity of the girl.

Holding a saber high above your head and screaming is pretty much the most badass thing you can do on a Disney Ride at the drop.

Punkass kids who aren't even probably old enough to be smoking. They get a pass for making me laugh.

Another cell phone guy, but I love that he's so serious about it. I can picture him talking to some client, maybe offering legal advice. "Bob, what's that sound?" "Oh, nothing, I'm on a damned roller coaster. You were saying?"

This is the classic "Photo Bomber." A bomber is a person who appears in your family photo with the sole intent of ruining it. Nice face.

So many points.

Really clever variation of the cell phone gag. I just want to know how they hooked this up during the ride.

My absolute favorite of them all. Group participation and an absolutely hilarious premise. I'm pretty sure there was some digital trickery done here, but it's still the funniest.

Smartasses of the world, I salute you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Like a roller coaster

  Sometimes, life is like a roller coaster. There are your beginnings, your endings, your long, slow climbs. Sometimes there are corkscrews or loops when you're so turned around you don't know what the hell is going on. Then, there are the plunges. Those glorious plunges when you're in freefall and you're screaming, you're laughing, crying.
  Right now, I'm just about at the top of a good climb. I can see the crest, and I can see a long, steep plunge coming. The anticipation is high, the nerves are tingling. What's going to happen? Will I be able to stand it?
  I realized last night at class that I was about to reach an acting pinnacle that I've anticipated for many years. I knew one day I'd be faced with this challenge, and I became even more aware of it when I finally started getting some real training. In two weeks, I have to break down emotionally for all to see. I have to crumble. Fall apart. Cry. It's a "sense memory" exercise, and one by one, each of us will have to take the stage and live out this very private moment in a very public way.
  I've had to cry once before in a film, but I cheated. I have never had to go from nominal to broken in front of people. I don't even cry in private. It's not a macho thing; I just don't do it. I have been molded, by neccessity, into somebody who is emotionally closed. To be overtaken by these feelings, especially publicly, goes against everything that I am. Beautifully, that's the point. "Private in Public" is one of Stanislavski's most well-known principals of acting.
  You can't just sit down and "make" yourself cry. It doesn't work that way. You have to take yourself there, and let yourself be overwhelmed with a physical response to emotional stimuli. For this assignment, we're supposed to each bring in an object that is connected to some event that will act as an emotional trigger. We are supposed to talk about it, though not in a narrative way, and let it take us to where we need to go. Ultimately, excercises like this are supposed to give us the tools we need as actors to find the emotion in a character and truly feel it on stage.
  This in itself is going to be a major undertaking, but I also am terrifically excited about it. To me, it represents the real "meat" of acting- the emotion. I've waited a long time to get this kind of training, and I really feel like a lot of things are converging here. This class, the voice lessons, the upcoming auditions in spring. It's the crest, and I can see the plunge just ahead.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Me? Gandhi?

  Yes. I will be playing famed Indian peace maestro Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi this coming Tuesday night at the DC Studio Theatre. Will I be dipping my bald head in oil and rubbing it against any women? No, but if you get that reference, you get a big gold star.
  No, I'm not miscast. Truthfully, it's just another class assignment: do a three minute pantomime based on a statue found in the DC area. Master the physical movements, gestures, posture, gait. Know everything about the person. How they feel, how they react, their subtext. Put them in a situation where they face a major conflict and have to make a decision. Make the audience KNOW who you are by what you reveal. Pick something challenging.
  Speaking of challenging, this "Frame 365" project is already proving to be difficult. It's not been nearly as easy as I thought it would be to find one compelling image per day. Last time I went to class, I saw some fantastic opportunities for shots, but I was running so late that I couldn't stop to get them. At Dupont Circle, there were a bunch of people sitting next to a huge water feature playing chess as the evening sun was setting behind them. It would have been a fantastic image. I can't whip out my camera during class to shoot anything, and I certainly can't have a camera near me during work hours. So I'm basically reduced to pictures I can take from my Jeep, or pictures I can take on the Metro, or pictures I can take of crap laying around my house. Not the most exciting subjects. We're only a week in and already the spring is running dry. This does not bode well for the project.
  The only other interesting thing I can talk about right now is that crazy Egyptian wailing on my body again at PT. This guy loves me, though. I think it's because we give each other a hard time. I will walk in and ask him "What's on tap for today? Are you going to shove me down a flight of stairs? Run me over with your car?" He was busting my chops yesterday for not getting enough rest and/or relaxation. He says stress is destroying me. Oh, if he only knew. One of the shitty things about my life is having to lie to my doctors and people who try to help me out. Ultimately, the lesson I learn over and over again is that I'm out there alone. There's nobody I can turn to for comfort anymore. Nobody is going to help, and, in the end, nobody is going to care and none of it matters. That's a bitter pill to swallow daily, but something in my core keeps me going anyway. I guess I just miss being appreciated.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The horror and hilarity of PT

  About three weeks ago, per doctor's orders, I began physical therapy for my shoulder. I was one of two people injured in a high fall accident a couple of years ago, and I came out of it a lot better than he did. Unfortunately, though I was able to shake it off at the time, the problem grew and worsened, and I have had constant pain ever since. I've been through a number of docs, specialists, chiropractors and accupuncturists and even had an MRI done earlier this year. Finally, happily, I think I've found someone who's going to be able to fix me.
  My therapist's name is Mohammed, but I just call him Sayid. He has a fantastic middle-eastern accent, which sometimes makes me laugh out loud. The other day, for instance, in one of his mispronunciations of the letters "th," he told me, "Raise the bar in front of your face. Right in front of your mouse."
  Sayid means business with my shoulder. He worked some knots out of the muscle so hard the other day that he actually left bruises. That's hard to do on this body. It was intensely painful. I literally saw stars and wondered if I might lose consciousness. No pain no gain, I suppose. My shoulder is already feeling better than it has in a long time.