Archive for February, 2004


Sunday, February 29th, 2004

I had the actor’s nightmare last night, but it wasn’t a show. It was my wedding.

One of my many gifts as an actor is that I have virtually no stage fright. I’m sure that can change in an instant, the way I have gone from someone who slept through take-off and landing to someone that can’t watch the Discovery Wings channel because the sight of airplanes makes me panic. But as it stands right now, I never have any fear of performance.

I do get nervous in rehearsal, and I am petrified at auditions, although I’m getting better at both. But the reason I get so scared is because I am unprepared. For a performance, we’ve either rehearsed enough or we haven’t, but either way we’re gonna go out and do it and I have complete faith that I am doing it always as well as I possibly can.

The “Actor’s Nightmare” is that you are on stage and you don’t know your lines. Pretty basic, but harrowing, and it usually includes, at least for me, someone who hates me chasing me around and yelling at me to get on stage.

I have the nightmare, like almost all actors, in place of actually being on stage and not knowing my lines. We have to imagine the worst thing that can happen or we won’t be able to do the thing that a majority of the people are most scared of in the world, which is public speaking.

It’s true. People are more scared of speaking in public than of death, which leads to the obvious joke that if you have to be at a funeral, you’d rather be the corpse than the eulogizer.

In any case, I was at my wedding to Jordana last night, and everything was falling apart. No-one knew what they were doing, the only person there was Seth and then a group of guys I didn’t know, all in matching tuxes, Steve was gone, none of my family was there, and everyone was already hitting the buffet. Strangely, it was taking place in a hotel where I worked as a busboy, in my real life, in upstate New York eight years ago. How I came to work as a busboy eight years ago in upstate New York is anyone’s guess.

Anyway, the nightmare is there to let you know, you aren’t prepared. Fortunately, this show we’re doing closes tonight, so all I have to worry about is the continued hopeful success of Lucretia and making sure my wedding is fun.


Friday, February 27th, 2004

It comes as no surprise to the people who know me that I have a blog. It is not always the truest criticisms that stick in your craw, it is the cruelest one, the ones that show you to the world to be what you secretly hope no-one sees but yourself.

My brother once wrote an email describing the myths of our family, and I was boiled down to a drama queen. I had a friend who left directly after watching a movie even though several of us were going to dinner because he specifically didn’t want to listen to my opinion about the movie. The other night, several friends questioned whether I should be taking health advice from a personal trainer, as if I were taking the advice because it seemed so full of doom. The list goes on. When I become passionate about something, I can actually hear the collected eyes rolling, like a giant wheel of derision slipping one notch in, making my chest one step tighter. And of course, what has just been written will be added to the list.

The truth is, I hold myself in as little esteem as anyone else. I’m constantly shocked by the level of intellect in the people that seek out my company, I’m always grateful for the consideration of my friends and family that lead me down the path like a gaggle of third grade teachers, and I’m always humbled whenever I make my friends or family laugh.

Today, leading the news is that Rosie Odonell got married to a woman, and a little over 4% of *all catholic priests* have molestation charges leveled against them. No-one is condemning the catholic church, of course. People are condemning homosexual marriage.

Maybe I get so upset about all this because I’m a fucking drama queen. Maybe I just want someone to stir the pot, to excite me. No-one in the public eye does anything for me. We don’t get to choose between leaders of vision and integrity. Bush is going to kill a lot of Arabs, Kerry is going to make sure a woman’s right to chose isn’t taken away, and that’s all we’re voting for.

Are you scared of foreigners? Vote for Bush, he seems like he will protect you. Are you scared of a right wing agenda? Vote for Kerry, he seems like he’ll protect you. But there’s no clear vision. No-one is telling me what they will fight for, except for, y’know, *me* or something.

So, maybe it is just that I want someone to be dramatic. A great man of poise and intellect, who can speak rapturously, who can lead, who can excite and inspire, who can make things safer and better. Maybe it is just that I need some drama. But there has probably never been a more important election in my lifetime, and I’m gonna vote for “whoever” and hope enough other people do as well to remove Bush from power.

I just wish someone would look at the reactions people are having and say “this is wrong”. I wish someone would say, “Mel Gibson made a movie- that’s all, Janet Jackson’s titt is no different that anyone else’s, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant have all been arrested and are on trial, so don’t worry about them, and *CRIMES* against America are being committed. Pay ATTENTION. How you act now will determine what your grandchildren will think of you.”

But no-one will. Our country just limps along in short shallow breaths. But, you don’t have to worry, I’m not going to write about politics anymore. From now on, it’s nothing but farting and impotence jokes.


Thursday, February 26th, 2004

Ian said something about 69% of the country the other day, and I feel like the problem is that they asked the wrong question. “Should marriage be a union between a man and a woman, or between two people?” I mean, the fact that 31% of the country answered “two people” is a miracle of liberalism. We’ve never had a gay marriage, ever, in the history of this country, we’ve never had a legally sanctioned gay marriage in America. And fully a third of our neighbors are willing to change that? Awesome.

Also, the question should be, “Should there be a constitutional ammendment that limits the civil rights of a specific minority of people, such as denying redheads from getting driver’s licenses, or denying left handed people from the NBA, or denying gay people the right to marry?” Or, if that’s too obtuse, the question should be asked, “In attempting to defend marriage in the US, should the constitution be altered so that adultery and divorce are made illegal?” I would love to see that debated in the senate… how many of those fuckers would stand up and say, “Okay, look, this is stupid. We can’t outlaw human nature. People are bound to get divorces and to cheat on their partners.”

Seriously, someone should ask, “Should the constitution of the United States be changed in order to deny homosexuals the right to marry?” If that was the question, my guess is the number would be much smaller than 69%. People who *hate* fags still love America.

Bush knows this will fail, so he gets to win on all fronts. He can appease the right wing christians by calling for a constitutional ammendment, but the left will be grateful because it will have failed on his watch. Hopefully, by cuddling up to the intolerant, people who are horrified by his fiscal record will now be unable to vote for him, trusting that they can make a democrat fight the war on terror with as much gusto as Bush. Or, even better, as much gusto as Clinton did.

It’s hilarious to me that you just read my blog entry on politics. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I”M AN IDIOT. Look at this…

dreading this

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

My Dad says he can tell when I’m depressed because I don’t call him for stretches. I don’t really call anyone. My depression manifests itself as hostility a lot of the time. But depression and sadness, as I’m sure I’ve said before, are different things and even though “sadness with anger” feels exactly like depression, it’s different because there is a cause.

I haven’t wanted to write this blog, but my life has begun literally to revolve around my health issues, so I want to just kind of get this off my chest. I changed my diet three or four days ago and had a wonderful training session this morning, so don’t try and tell me how to change all this, I’m already changing it.

I’ve been sorta blacking out for the last year or so. Not that often, and I don’t usually go all the way to black. Just an occasional not being able to see and getting dizzy and shit. Prior to this, I had a period of severe over-training at the gym which left me with series of lumpy muscles and a strong back, but still carrying around too much weight.

I’ve had crippling weight issues since I was a young boy. I remember being praised when I got scarlet fever because I lost a ton of weight. I remember dreaming when I was in third grade that I was wearing a fat suit in order to humble myself, that I had to cover myself in fat every morning or people would be able to see my super powers.

Anyway, last summer I just got sick of being sore and exhausted all the time. I had never worked out and felt better afterwards, only worse, so I decided to stop and try to control my weight with diet. My body started eating my lean muscle, my blood sugar got all fucked up… it’s just too big a mess to go into.

Anyway, it turns out I’m currently sprinting down the path towards early onset diabetes and heart problems. And as the blacking out attests to, it’s getting worse. I have some cholestorol something or other and my body fat is currently just below 30%, and some other stuff

So, I changed my diet and I’ve started working out, and there’s really nothing to bitch at me about. It’s a classic case of being a little fat leading to being *really* fat. I don’t really care what I look like, but I do want to live another 78 years, and my knees aren’t gonna last another 5 unless I do something about this.

So, if you see me eating raisins and refusing cupcakes, you’ll know why. However, if I don’t refuse a cupcake, don’t you dare fucking remind me, K?


Thursday, February 12th, 2004

Some things that people say stick with me. It isn’t generally the stuff you might think. Maybe it’s the actor training in me, but when people try to say stuff and they put on that “Hey, sit ‘pon my knee and listen” face, I turn right the fuck off. My problem with authority, I guess.

Anyway, some years ago, I was asking Michelle how a friend of hers could be so stupid (she was dating a crappy guy? I don’t remember. I don’t even remember what friend) and Michelle said, “Everyone always knows the truth about everything, we just chose to believe the lies we tell ourselves.”

Some guy comes up and talks to you. Says he’s got tickets to the Grammys. You tell him you just want to be friends, he’s like, “Yeah! Of course! I mean, I just broke up with my girlfriend and I have this extra ticket…”

So, the truth is, he has two tickets, or not, and he’s got a girlfriend that he *hasn’t* broken up with and he’s pissed that you don’t want to sleep with him just because he *says* he has tickets… etc. You know the truth of this.

Anyway, at one point I said something about me being lazy in front of my sister Tessa and she, offhanded, said, “I don’t really believe in ‘lazy’, I think it’s almost always just ‘fear'”. This has stayed with me as *massively* profound, probably much more so than she meant it. (It’s also made me re-assess her husband as “the most scared mother fucker on the planet”, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing…)

(I kid! I kid… because I *love*…)

So, for the last month or so, I have had to overcome my fear of rejection on a number of levels, and I’m not just talking about my nightly pursuits of Jordana, chasing her around the room stark naked while she whips at me with a wet towel. No, I’ve been applying for jobs, everywhere and anywhere I can.

Doing this online is actually pretty fun. It’s the thing about email and even this blog. It’s totally insanely not personal. My resume is good, but there isn’t a single lie on it. My expectations are my real expecations. When they asked me to describe my dream job I actually said in the middle of my description “a place where my talents and skills will be required on a daily basis to challenge and stimulate the people I work with to a higher level of success.” It’s true, I want that.

I mean, they asked, right?

I wish there was some way I could audition for plays online. They email me the script and I write back saying what I would do with it, and they cast me. I can handle rejection, as long as it’s done from a long long way away.


Wednesday, February 11th, 2004

I’m not interested in trying to explain how you know when it’s right. For everyone it’s a different thing. I’m sure for a lot of women it’s that *this guy* hits them in the nose with a special sort of attention to detail that the other guys who’ve hit them in the nose don’t deliver.

And sure, I have actually thought it was right before. I’ve tethered this rickety ship to awesome gorgeous boats before, boats that wanted to go a different speed than I did, particularly when the water was dangerous.

But I feel right, right now, and I think I can explain why. The people that have agreed to surround me fulfill a specific set of requirements, and although it’s true for everyone, the best example is my friend Mac.

I really want to explain what Mac means to me, but it is almost as difficult as describing my relationship with my fiance. In a way, Mac and I entered into a three way marraige with our friend Steve 8 or 9 years ago. The kind of laughing that men do when they find their friends is incomparable. You guys out there, you have friends like this, the ones that make you laugh so hard that your cheeks hurt and your lungs burn.

It isn’t a joke that we make, there’s no phone catch-phrase. In fact, we’re terrible on the phone. It’s our lives. Mac and I have gotten to the point where our fondness for one another is so deep that we see our own suffering through the each other’s eyes, and that suffering becomes funny. If you heard us talking, nothing we said would seem to deserve how hard we are laughing.

There is a picture somewhere of Mac and I walking out of the ocean. He’s tall, skinny, white, I’m short, fat, covered in hair. We look like two different species. We usually make a great show of our differences. He’s neurotic, I’m explosive. He’s repressive, I’m aggressive. He’s a scholar, I’m a punk…

But the truth is, we are really really similar and we make a great show of our slight differences. We are actually both repressed, both manic learners but bad students, both more talented and shy than we are demanding and marketable. There is a brotherhood of humility and arrogance that I share with almost all my friends, but Mac and I are the embodiment of it.

A week or so ago, I found out I lost a job that could have changed my life. When these things happen to me, I tend to think of them as reasonable. But every time something bad happens to one of my friends, I’m not just sad for them, I’m disappointed in the world. And when disappointments happen to my closest friends, I just get incensed. The world will recognize what it’s being given, I know that, and I will just continue to push forward until it does.

Fast Foto Fun

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

Yeah, I don’t have time to write anything, so here’s a photo record of what I’ve been up to.

This is me first thing this morning.

Insomnia is sometimes useful. I’ve been spending the hours trolling for work online, so that saves the hours when everyone is awake to do fun stuff. Like this…

We are all getting married in the next six or seven months, so Jordana’s cousins have been taking dance classes with us. It’s funner than you might think. Unless, of course, you think it’s really really fun. Really really fun is drinking with my friends. Like this…

Yeah, that the minister at our wedding trying to tongue the bride. That’s sort of how it happens when you whip out the funky cold medina. It was nice being able to drink my way through the flu that’s being passed around, I think I made my body inhospitable enough that no illness made its way in. Jordana was really sick. Not that you can tell from this…

I’ll write more when I have good news.

Forgot to mention

Friday, February 6th, 2004

I was at 57th street and 7th Ave. in Manhattan the other day, and I was approached by a woman. It was snowing and I was wearing my hat and my noise cancelling head-phones, so she just started talking as if I could hear her. I pulled off one phone and said, “I’m sorry…”

“It’s a cold night and I don’t live far from here. Maybe we could go back to my place and have a little fun”

Matter of fact. This woman was… I mean, it’s hard to know, it was snowing she was in a puffy jacket and a hood, but I’ll say she was just this side of sixty. Just before I realized she was a prostitute, I heard myself say, “I’m flattered, but I really can’t.”

“You think I’m too old for you, that’s it,” she said.

“No,” I almost yelled, now realizing what was going on, “No, nono, the thing is, I’m probably too young for you!” And I sort of laughed like I was charming.

She said, “look at this,” and opened her coat enough just to reveal her cleavage. Which was nice. Well-maintained, the inside sections of her breasts looked almost polished. Buffed.

I just muttered something and walked on.


Two days ago I was walking along 31st street in Astoria and a woman who was clearly in her 70s fainted right in front of me. I was barely able to get my arms out and catch her as she started going down. Another guy who was walking near me grabbed her other arm, and we held her, slowly lowering her to her knees.

I asked her if she was okay and she smiled and said, “I got so dizzy all of a sudden!” but she was clearly not looking right at me. I asked her if we should call 911, and she said, “be a dear and call a cab.”

“Be a dear”. I swear to God.

I went across the street and asked a cab if he could swing around. There are only gypsy cabs in Astoria, and these guys are mostly vultures. There was a third guy with us, and of course a gaggle of older women who all sort of gathered about in a second and clucked over this woman like an instant immigrant sewing circle. The third guy went to talk to the cops.

The gypsy cab swung around and waited for about thirty seconds. When he saw there was commotion and it might be a longer wait, he just took off. Of course, a minute later the third guy came back and said the police could call an ambulance, but they couldn’t take the woman home.

The cab had spun another U-turn and was across the street, so I went to get him back. He turned and yelled in my face, “I cross street and you no get in cab, I don’t have time for you.”

I swear to God, I wanted to crack this mother fucker’s skull in two. But years of spending time with a higher quality of person made me grab his jacket and quietly say in his face, “You’re a bad man,” and push him back into his cab door. That’s it.

It took about two minutes to get another cab, and he pulled right up to the curb. I told him what was going on and he said, “I get her home, I get out of cab and make sure she get inside. Don’ worry.”

The second she was in the cab, the crowd evaporated like rubbing alcohol on a hot skillet. No-one in New York wants another goddam friend, we don’t have time. The cab drove off and I walked away. For some reason I turned back and I saw the third guy, the one who went to get the cops, walking the other way and turning back toward me. We both just raised a hand to each other and then turned back and walked away.


Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Being a “producer” is a difficult thing to explain. Unfortunately, it has very little to do with either creating something you can hold in your hand or even, y’know, produce. But it is putting yourself in a position where all questions come to you and all questions you answer become your problem. That a position most people want to avoid.

Being a producer, in most fields, means getting money from one person and distributing it to a larger group of people who are, in turn, doing a series of small jobs that, when put together, creates a larger whole. So, depending on the number of jobs and the size of the whole, a producer’s job is either more important or less. Film producers employ thousands of people, sit through the credits of any movie and remember that half the people who worked on the movie aren’t credited, and you can see why film producers are very important, very powerful people.

I’m not a film producer. I produce live theater and music recordings.

Live theater employs a few people and doesn’t pay them well. This is an act of love we are doing. To call it a job is silly, we’re doing what we want to do and, I swear to God, if you ever catch me complaining about producing theater, I want you to stab me in the inner thigh so it takes me a little while to bleed to death.

The music recordings employ a bit more people. Quite a few, in fact. I wrote a blog on this earlier, but the work I do creates jobs for arrangers, engineers, musicians, directors, and singers, not to mention the random assistants and software guys. I would say that every regular size gig, ten to twelve songs, that I get employs about twenty five people.

And we are people who live and die on the edge of this knife. We went to school. We chose a life of music early on. We spent hours every morning practicing, scales, do-re-mi’s, bow position, hand position, breath control. We learned the circle of fifths, we learned figured bass, we learned how to use 7th chords.

And we are willing to be paid very little. As a producer, I fight like crazy to get these people paid a decent wage, but they will always agree to a pittance. And we agree that what we record is yours, you get to do whatever you want with it, you recorded it digitally so it’s yours until our grandchildren die, and we’ll never ask for another penny. Just the crappy wage that you pay me for the three hours I spend in the studio, not the thousands of hours I spent practicing, not the thousands of hours for the rest of history that what I recorded will be broadcast, just what we agreed on for the short time I actually play my oboe, sing my song, wave my arms, do my thing for you.

So, when you take that away… When you decide that the small budget that could go to freelance musicians scraping out a living, barely surviving, should go to you… when you think to yourself, “I am getting paid to be on staff at the publishing company because, despite learning some music in school, mostly I majored in business and got drunk at the frat and now I could easily do this stuff with MIDI and pay myself twice for this job…”, when you say “it doesn’t have to be *that good*, these are kids listening to this for chrissakes, what the hell do they know…” when you do these things, it makes you a terrible person. Plain and simple. These small acts of avarice are what makes the world base and mean.

Through the history of time, there has always been the Medicis or the frickin’ Catholics, or someone who was demanding the very best of us. Someone who was willing to pay for greatness, if we were willing to try to achieve it. It isn’t that way now. Our great musical stars are, for the most part, marketers, selling sneakers and kool-aid.

I won’t kvetch. This is the world, aint no use in complaining. But if you read this and you buy a CD for your children and you can’t stand listening to it because it is so bad, call the people who made it. Tell them that it should be *better*. Your kids are growing up ignorant. All of us are living in the gutter, but this music is reaching for nothing.


Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

I’ve been resistant about discussing the acting class too publicly for several reasons. I’ve also been hesitant about discussing As You Like It rehearsals for a whole different set of reasons. I’m not going to describe the ongoing “fat, have no work” despair, because I find it boring to be living it, I can’t imagine you’d be all that entertained by reading about it.

I can talk a little bit about the class last night. Let me preface by saying that it’s impossible to know what you are doing as an actor, thus matching it with maybe dance as the only art forms entirely ephemeral and entirely external. I’ve been in scenes with people where the director will say, “this isn’t working” and they will go into long descriptions of the ways they went about creating their character, rhapsodic melodies about grandparents and journals kept and the striving, and I just want to say, “it doesn’t matter what you think you are doing, the director said it isn’t working.”

So, talking about what I did or didn’t do in class is absurd. If you are a writer, you get done writing and then, in place of anecdote, you show them the writing. And then they read it, and that’s the shared experience. Music can be recorded, art hangs in museums for centuries. Don’t talk to me about movies, movies are bullshit and you know it. Movies are to acting what music videos are to ballet.

So, let me work backwards. Jordana and I did a scene from “Angels In America” last night, and we were the last people to perform in class. At some point, afterwards, almost every single person congratulated me on my breath-taking work, which is your first indication that it wasn’t that good. Actors don’t tell each other that what they did was good unless it was only sort of good- good in that “good, but I could do it better” way. When Claire and I did “Dirty Juanita”, no-one spoke to us after the class.

But it also could have been the look of humiliation on my face after the scene was done. I had to die in the scene. Actually, I had to pretend to die, and then really die. So, actually, I had to act like I was pretending to die, and then I had to act like I was really dying, except that you can’t play that, I had to act like a guy who was a great actor who was pretending to die and then I had to act like a guy who was a great actor who then dies.

All of this while I’m faking out a woman who is actually a figment of my imagination.

So, I was a little “in my head” as they say.

For those of you following along in the script, it’s the scene where Roy Cohn dies and he is visited by the ghost of Ethel Rosenburg. I did a bit of research on Roy Cohn, I read the parts of the play that he appears in, but I didn’t watch the movie and I tried to block out the live performance in my head.

Anyway, our teacher was really cool about the piece, congratulated us on being so brave on chosing something that hard, and then went nuts for how good Jordana was in the scene. Which is actually nice. She really ought to be famous, and maybe she still will. If there’s anything I know, it’s how to hang my hat on the right hat-rack. But I’m supposed to go back and do the scene again on Friday, and I just don’t know if I can get through it.