28 April 2008
22 April 2008
21 April 2008
18 April 2008
I've been putting this off for a while now, because I knew it was going to be a difficult discussion, but we can't go on like this. Something's got to change, and I'm just trying to make that happen, okay? I'm not trying to start a fight here, so don't jump all over me when I start being real. Okay? Try not to. Okay, My Balls?
Look, My Balls: I don't know where to begin. I think you know I love you. I try to show you that in little ways every day. Maybe some days I do better than others, but in general I think you'd have to agree that I'm neither abusing you, nor taking you for granted in any way. I . . . what? No, they're not. No, My Balls, it's called pants that fit! That's all!
This is exactly what I didn't want to have happen here. Can we take a moment? Just calm down? I'm not sure we're going to get much of anywhere unless we can talk about this like well-rounded adults. I'm not accusing you, no. No, you're pefectly round! If you take everything as an attack, then I can't say anything!
I'm sorry. I won't shout. I know. I was loud. I'll stop.
Okay. I acknowledge that some of this is my fault, and I am truly sorry for any harm I may have caused you. I'm inclined to believe that the problem lies in our communication. You were communicating in what you thought was a very clear manner--and I'm sure it was, I just need to listen better--that you were unhappy with something I was doing. Or, had done. Now, it's not really fair, My Balls, to only tell me hours or days after the fact that you disagree with something I'm doing. I'M NOT BLAMING YOU. I'm not. I'm just . . . offering some constructive criticism. I will try to listen better, and all. Please try to address your concerns to me in a timely manner. Thank you.
Now, as to where we stand now. No, now, listen: Everything is not fine. Well, I'm glad to hear you aren't having any particular problems, but you might consider the idea that my problems are in fact your problems. Hm? I mean, without me, you're just you. I mean, you'll have each other, but then what? You dig? Okay. So. Now. I'd like to be able to sit with you for a while.
No, not like this. I mean: yes, "like this," but for longer, and while I'm doing other things besides giving you my undivided attention. I like attention too, but you can't have it all the time. No, you can't. Ow! That isn't helping things, My Balls! Grow up! That's better. Ow! Knock it off! My job is at a desk, and there's nothing I can do about all the sitting! Oh, don't you eye-ball My Posture. How are you doing that, anyway? Never mind. My Posture and I are working on things, and he is doing much, much better lately! I wish I could say the same for some!
What's that? Ug. My Balls, I have to work out. I have to. It's part of my career, my health and just my general mood. I am trying very hard not to repeat the ugly incident we had, what, a year-and-a-half ago now? You have to help me out, guy(s). You have to hold the fort, as it were, a little better. I can accept that I used to do crunches too fast, and I'm being all Pilates-like now, so there you go. Now, let's just try to hold it together when I do things like pull-ups and push-ups, okay? I know these engage My Abdominal Wall, but come on. We all have to work together here. And before you say anything about it, yes, I'm having separate conversations with My Quads and My Gluteal Muscles. Don't try to divert the subject.
Oh. Yes, well . . .. My Pelvic Floor? You're right. Yes, you're right. I haven't had that talk yet. I mean to, I just haven't . . .. Listen, I didn't even know I had a "pelvic floor" most of my life. I'm a little shy about approaching it. Well, it's intimidating. I mean, it's the center of everything. Everything. My Gravity, My Musculature, the base of My Spine . . . My Pelvic Floor is really important, and I get really . . . tense . . . when dealing with it. Which doesn't help.
And so, yes, you've made your point. It is my fault. No, I'm not just saying it to placate you. It is hard for me to accept, but all of this started with my own sort of approaches to my physicality, and overcoming adversity. Hey: I'm trying to tell you something earnest here -- there is no call for the "Dr. Phil" insinuations. Apology accepted. Now as I was saying, it's precisely because I attack my challenges that I've gotten hurt. Attacking may be well and good and all as a youthful approach to challenges, be they career-oriented or physically-oriented, but as I grow older it would serve me well to work on approaching challenges from a more intelligent, constructive and controlled perspective. A high energy that's also calm and centered is called for. Thank you, My Balls. You've really helped me see things in a different way.
Hm? Oh all right. Yes. You can have a kilt. But I'm only wearing it on the weekends.
17 April 2008
16 April 2008
But the actual subject of this post is actually to point up something I've noticed thanks to the new book I'm reading: The Man on the Clock, by Tom Dardis. It is, so far, not a great book, but it was the only remotely portable biography of silent-film actor Harold Lloyd I could find. Lloyd was a great comedian, and was the basis of my base character in Silent Lives. Not nearly as many people know him as do Chaplin and Keaton. I wanted to learn more about him because I dig these guys as pioneers of art, entertainment and media, and because I'm lagging a bit in the idea department in completing my clown silent film outline (see 3/27/08). As I read, I discover (assuming Mr. Dardis' writing is to be believed) that I have far more in common with Lloyd than I was aware of. He seems to have been a very careful sort who loathed making mistakes, and something of a frustrated actor in the beginning, trying to find his own way. I've also noticed a remarkable potential connection between two things I love.
Harold Lloyd apparently had some difficulty early in his film career in establishing a memorable, unique character upon whom the production companies could bank. He was just a few career footfalls behind Chaplin, and only one or two behind Keaton, but it could be argued that he was a lot more behind in experience to the two. He grew up on stage, but as a regular actor who took what roles he was given, rather than the kind of innovative vaudevillians Charlie and Buster had to be. In an unfortunate turn, he even made a character called Lonesome Luke that was so derivative of The Tramp that it's a little difficult to believe as an honest mistake. (Then again, it's a pretty human tendency to "borrow" -- sometimes without even realizing it -- from those around you when starting something new.) At any rate, audiences liked Lloyd because he was daring, easy on the eyes and a good actor, but they didn't really identify with him until he figured our his glasses character, or Glass Man.
The glasses were pivotal in Lloyd's effectiveness as a character. The Glass Man worked because of the expectations implied by his appearence with the glasses. They made him accessible and identifiable, sure, but in a very specific way. The films Lloyd made after 1918 and his discovery of the Glass Man began to evolve his stock progression. A goof, a klutz, and hopeless boy gets in over his head in adventures that have him thrown this way and that, until just at the end, seemingly miraculously, he overcomes every adversity, usually through some incredible act of bravery, strength and cleverness. It must have been as though one were going to a Buster Keaton movie that switched at its climax to a Douglas Fairbanks. As he established his character, Lloyd even bested Chaplin (in my humble opinion) at incorporating pathos and empathy. A conglomeration, to be sure, but a very effective one that may have been responsible for moving movies toward still more sophisticated forms.
Nevermind whether or not that was a good idea.
Siegel and Shuster began a long process of creating the Superman(TM) we all know today in 1932. He went through a lot of revisions over the six years before they sold him to Action Comics (the initial comic they wrote featured The Super-Man as a psychic bad guy), at which point his appearence and general origins are at least similar to what we know today. It's just possible that they were sunconsciously influenced by Lloyd films. Many of the names they used in their creation were references to movies, and though they've never mentioned him by name, they have included silent films amongst their influences. Shuster: "But the movies were the greatest influence on our imagination: especially the films of Douglas Fairbanks Senior."
Harold Lloyd was tall, brunette, athletic and charismatic, but it was all belied by those glasses, and his own relatively reserved persona in real life. Superman certainly was a zeitgeist comprised of too many elements of society and culture predating him to point to any one as a significant source. It is precisely because of this conglomerative nature that I'm inclined to believe that Harold Lloyd's character had some influence on the creation of at least Clark Kent, if not Superman himself. And hey: Even if I'm wrong, it's clear that American audiences love a good underdog scenario.
Which gives me hope.
15 April 2008
"I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
12 April 2008
11 April 2008
09 April 2008
Friend Chris once suggested to me that wherever I go, I should talk to people about what they do. Post office, elevator, subway, etc., every day we come in contact with professionals, and most of them are pretty eager to talk about something they can be an authority on. Get in the habit of talking with them, and you both benefit -- a report is established, greasing the wheels for any other transaction, and you may learn something to boot. I try to remember to do this. It often backfires. I don't have the most unimpregnable ego in the world, and when I get a negative response from someone I don't know, I'm more inclined to let the talk drop than pursue it. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is that a negative response is often a stock response, and can be wispy-thin. Get past it, and there's every possibility that you'll find something interesting or moving on the other side.
I also find that everyone -- everyone -- is sending out invitations, all the time. There's so much information coming off of people that it's amazing. Even without eye contact with someone, you can start to form an impression of what they most want in terms of communication, be it sympathy, enthusiasm, agreement or something wholly unique. (And with eye contact: forget about it.) The tricky part for me has always been balancing what others want with what I want. When I was younger I had this problem a great deal more often, but it still happens to me now and again. Now its not so much that I blindly subserve to everyone (is SO an expression). When I was younger, I would often get into this conversation with my friends:
"Whatcha doin', Jeff?"
"Building a canal out of a single cinder block."
"Oh. How's it going."
"Well, it's okay. It's kind of hard, though. And slow going. And I'm not sure what purpose it will serve. And I was supposed to go play Dungeons&Dragons(TM) with some other pubescents today, but I guess I can't now."
"Oh. And why are you doing that?"
"Because someone I only just now met wanted it done."
Now it's more a matter of not quite getting across (to myself as much as anyone else) just how important the really important things are to me. So I do a lot less painful self-sacrificing, but every now and again I'll get to a point in something at which I'll suddenly explode. "Why am I not getting what I want?! Why are your wants automatically more important than mine?! Why are you doing this to me?! Oh! I never told you what I want?! I ... I didn't, did I? Oh, ah ... whoops. My bad. Sorry for spitting on you just then. Um. I can't do anything for you, can I? Build you a canal, perhaps?"
It's taken me a long time to learn, and it's a continuous "practice" for me ("practice," in this usage, as in the yoga sense, in which "practice" is a nice way of saying "something I can't do at all yet, but just keep trying, anyway") to remember, that everyone's a little bit psycho, in their own way. We all occupy worlds inside our individual heads that have nothing to do with the rest of the world, try as we might to deny it. And it's scary, the possibility of tripping upon someone's inner world. It may be less a fantastical trip to Oz, and more a nightmare ride down the rabbit hole. There's just no knowing.
The thing is: The more you risk that, the more you're living and learning. Be it Oz or somewhere really weird, at least you're going somewhere. No one wants to go nowhere; not if they really pause to consider what that would mean. Having the courage to really talk and really listen is supposed to be what actors are all about. Lord knows, I'm not the best at it. A few months ago I was sitting around with a cast at NYU, waiting in their luxurious lobby on the seventh floor for our director to show up. Two of my fellow cast members struck up a conversation. It started out a little irritating -- "Who do you know?" "You don't know him? How can you not know him?" -- but they eventually got to matters un-network-y, and began talking about the city. One of them, a rather young woman, said, "I don't understand how people can just walk around all day, plugged in to their earphones. That's just stupid. They're missing so much." I discreetly attempted to shove my iPod deeper into my coat pocket. "I know. Why would you live here, and shut all of it out?" So I'm trying to engage more with my fellow man. It's good practice.
But dang it, on the subway I'm keeping my earphones on. It's not that I prefer The Mars Volta to my fellow man, but . . . well yeah. It kind of is. Practice, practice, practice!