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10:43 PM - Tues 3.07.17
Life As "Amusing Anecdote"

Life As "Amusing Anecdote"

The last time I wrote about reading in here, I was happy because, in the age of "Post-Literate Jim" I'd turned things around, and read two books in quick succession (A bio/comedy treatise on Groucho Marx, and a de-bunking of "Sybil", the famous case of "Multiple Personality Disorder" that was first a best-selling book, then an Emmy-Winning TV movie, in the 70s).

But then I promptly bogged down, not knowing what I wanted to read next, which - just for the record - never happened when I was a kid (I tried Emma, which I'd started previously, but only read a chapter or two before losing interest again).

So I went back to reading a bunch of "graphic novels" on Hoopla (The public library app on my phone), like Watchmen and V For Vendetta (And an awful Justice League one called Identity Crisis).

And much the way reading comics were a "gateway drug" to books as a child, thanks to graphic novels, I am once again reading (Though not novels at present).

Just finished John Cleese's memoir, So Anyway... (Another book, like Emma - like most books in recent years, really - that I started, then abandoned somewhere in the middle).

I highlighted two passages, not because they were particularly hilarious or brilliant, but because they read like something I could have written in here (The first on romance, and the second on the importance of rehearsal):

...I found myself acutely unwilling to put my foot, however gently, on the first step of the romantic process; I was fearful that I would embarrass the object of my affections by suggesting a course of action which she might find distressing, distasteful or downright repellent. The punctilious concern not to offend or distress was, I'm sure, the camouflage that my unconscious employed to hide from myself my deep fear of rejection. I didn't think of myself as remotely physically attractive, and I found it extremely improbable that anyone sane would want to get close to me. Unless, that is, they would, over time, come to see that I was polite, amusing, and obedient enough to allow them to overcome their initial, very understandable, distaste.

When you are doing only a small number of performances, unless you have had weeks of rehearsal, your attention is primarily directed at remembering what you have to do; not just the words and the movements, but the emphases, the pauses, the pace, the volume, and then the gestures, looks, reactions, and so on. And to the extent that you mind is partially focused on all this remembering, you have less attention available to be "in the moment". But as the externals of your performance become more automatic, you can go beyond simply "trying to get it right" and relax into a greater awareness of yourself, the other actors, and your situation, and that gives your acting an extra degree of freshness and spontaneity.

There are probably other areas of common ground between myself and Mr Cleese, but as I said, those two passages felt like something I could have written in here (That I probably have written in here at one point or another, in so many words).

Anyway, I'm reading, which is good (Before the Cleese book, I finished Tina Fey's Bossypants, which, again, I'd been carrying around in my backpack for quite awhile, half-read).

I'm mildly embarrassed that the books in question are pretty lightweight affairs, but I'm going to focus on the "I'm reading" part, and go from there (The next book on my "Finish What You Started" Tour? The Three Christs Of Ypsilanti - the true story of what happens when three mental patients who think they're Jesus Christ get put in the same ward).

So, what else is going on, you're wondering?

Well...ummm...let me see...ahhhh...

(I got nothing.)

I did have a movie audition last week - three lines of garbled English as some kind of monstrous janitor in a horror movie.

I committed to it...but it felt silly and pointless, one of those auditions where I genuinely couldn't come up with any rationale why I would get it over any of the other guys who were there.

That's the only thing that's happened since the short film (Titled Great Again, by the way - Not sure if that's supposed to have any relevance to our current political horror show or not).

And I'm disappointed that nothing's happened, because I was hoping for a little momentum after "putting one in the win column", even if it was a decidedly minor "win" (Actually, the "minor" part was specifically why I wanted to book a "real" thing immediately after - "Okay, that was interesting...but now I'd like to book something that pays, that people might actually see...").

But sadly, I'm not sure "momentum" is a feeling I get to have anymore...though I sure would like to.


Weds 3/8/17 (10:05 pm)

Got a haircut last night, my last one - I presume - before Shameless starts shooting in May.

I am starting to think of the new season of Shameless as something that is "coming up soon", even if I'm still saying, when people ask, "I assume I'm still on the show..." (Because last season left the "Kevin and Vee lose The Alibi to Svetlana" plot-line up-in-the-air).

So, assuming I'm still on the show - which seems likely, though not certain - it'll be nice to be back on the set, being a working actor and all.

It's nice being a part of something people care about - granted, a small part, but still - and after a number of years of being a "hired hand", working one day on this thing and another day on something else, it's nice kinda/sorta having a "home" as an actor (The kinda/sorta is because, technically, I'm still a "day-player", hired on a per-episode basis. And as I've said before, I still tend to think of Shameless as their show - "They" being the production staff and series regulars).

But whatever pleasures Shameless continues to offer (ex. It will always be cool that I sometimes act with Bill Macy), I'm uncomfortable with it being "the only game in town" professionally, a discomfort both pragmatic (Cause it's not gonna last forever...and then what? What'll I do to pay the bills?), and artistic (Cause I know I can do more than play this minor, limited character, but is anybody ever gonna see that? I have enjoyed the familiarity of the role and my environment, but I don't want it to be the Alpha and Omega of my career).

As I wrote that last paragraph, a connection to something else I've been thinking about lately struck me - I don't have interesting anecdotes anymore.

Or, more accurately, I'm not creating interesting anecdotes anymore.

Over the years, I've done some interesting things and had some interesting experiences, up-to-and-including coming out here to be an actor...but now, what do I do?

(In order of frequency...)

I go to Weight Watchers.

I go to Zumba.

I go on auditions.

I work on Shameless.

And that's pretty much it.

I enjoy all those things, most of the time (Though WW kind of sucked yesterday)...but we've hit the point where all those things are fairly routine, and not, as a rule (Occasional "having to do nudity for eventual public consumption" notwithstanding) generating a lot of amusing anecdotes for my eventual talk-show appearances (Or, more realistically, for conversations with people where we talk about the interesting, odd things that happen in our day-to-day lives).

That's why, even though it was traumatizing, I was ultimately glad I did "that scene" on Shameless - that would be a nightmare for most people, and it was clearly no picnic for me either...but I did it, and now I have a story to tell

And that's why, even though I had my issues with the experience, I'm glad I did the recent gig - If nothing else, it was just nice to have something new to say when people asked "So, what's going on?" (I also liked knowing, after the fact, that I could get through a couple days of night shoots if I had to).

But if I want to have more stories, if I'm looking to collect amusing anecdotes to share on Jimmy Kimmel or whatever, I've gotta actually do things, and take a chance now-and-again.

(And that seems a good note to end on.)


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