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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Elmo And Taking Your First Step

(Take the first step)
Soon you will see, (Soon you will see)
Just how brave brave your heart can be.
Look on up, to the sky. Take that first step.
Kiss your fears goodbye.

Destiny's calling. So listen up, please.

You can feel the rhythm down deep in your knees.
One foot, then the other, your journey has begun.
Elmo believe it, you're ready, ready, ready to run.

Lyrics from "Take the first step" in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.

I was watching the movie with my nephew and this song came on.  I quickly related it back to him, saying, "Just like you.  You started with one  step and now you can't stop walking."  I thought about where his life will take him.  What he'll grow up to be and what kind of person he'll become.  Right now he's into cars and trains, pretty much anything with wheels and how they work.  It makes me think he'll maybe grow up to be an engineer or a designer.   Will he still be into it as an adult?  Will he be into sports? Music? Theater?  Who knows?

 Like the song says, he'll probably experience fear at points in his life and other obstacles.  As much as I would like to prevent those things from occurring to him they're a part of life.   I hope he remembers the song's lesson.  'Cause I'm still learning it. 

 It really is a gift to have the opportunity to be there as someone grows up.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scottie Pippen and Father's Day

I was fortunate enough to live in Chicago during the Bulls' six-peat championship run.  Whenever my friends and I talked about the Bulls it was as a team.  You can't mention Jordan without Pippen.  Pippen ran interference so Jordan could make the big points.  He would draw the defense allowing Jordan to make the shot.  Pippen is the quintessential wingman. 

Last night, it occurred to me that a Father should be like Scottie Pippen.  'Cause let's face it.  Mom is the superstar.  She is the one that can make things all better.  I realized this when we took my nephew to the zoo on Thursday.  We let my nephew walk on his own.  He noticed a peacock and immediately took off.  Unfortunately my nephew's handling is not very good at high speeds.  Needless to say he tripped, scraped his knee and began to cry.  I hurried over to him and tried to comfort him but he didn't want me-he wanted his aunt.  So after sulking over the rejection for a second.  I did the next best thing.  I cleaned his scraped knee while my fiance comforted him.   It's not glamorous being the wingman, just ask Scottie Pippen, but it is just as important a role as the superstar. 

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BOYS NEVER GROW UP

Last week my fiance and I took my nephew to FAO Schwarz.  It was so much fun to watch my two year old nephew walk as fast he could to the first stuffed animal display he saw.  Then right as he picked up the Teddy Bear he noticed another stuffed animal display.  While carrying the Teddy Bear he walked to the next stuffed animal saying, "Wow!"


I was immediately stricken with fear as the realization that I  might never leave this place took hold of me.  At least without having to buy something for my nephew.  I turned to my fiance and said, " This might have been a bad idea."  
I had to go to the bathroom, leaving my fiance to tackle the task of separating the stuffed animals from my nephew's Bear hug. I made my way to the back of the store.  On my way, I noticed people making Muppets.  I got so excited that I pulled my phone out and called my fiance, telling her, " you have to come over here."   Of course my nephew loved the Muppets, pointing to the pre-made Muppets and exclaiming, "Wow!"

A pattern emerged as the day progressed.  I would notice something, drop whatever I was doing and run over to whatever entranced me, usually saying, "Look at this! Come here."  Then my nephew would say, "Wow!" 

By the end of the day my fiance was babysitting two kids.  What can I say?  Boys never grow up.

Below is Exhibit A

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mr. Bricks Shoot

This past weekend was spent shooting a scene for Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical, www.mrbricksmovie.blogspot.com.  I was taken aback by the passion everyone had for this project-from the make-up department to the boom operator and everyone in between.
Even when snafus occurred,like losing daylight or special effects falling off, everyone had fun.  I was having such a good time filming that I didn't want to stop.  I actually got a little upset when we broke for lunch, not in a Christian Bale sort of way, but more like having to take out the trash before going out to play.  What can I say? We were in the middle of shooting a scene and we were on a roll.  The actors brought their A game.  The crew was on point.  I was afraid we were going to lose momentum but we didn't.  We came back from lunch and jumped back in without missing a beat.

All in all this is one of the best acting experiences I've had.  It was fun, challenging and a wonderful learning experience.  Thanks to everyone that made it such a great experience.

Here are some pics from the shoot.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Approval

Many times as an actor I find myself trying to gain the approval of other people.  A psychologist might say this is exactly why one becomes an actor, for the instant approval and attention one gets at curtain call.  This aspect of myself has come to be something of a blemish.  A zit that always seems to pop up right before a big date.  Before you know it all you can think about is that damn zit right in the middle of your forehead.  You lose all sense of logic and do something stupid and pop it.  Victory!  Wait a minute.  Now you have a bleeding, pus-oozing wound.  Great.  You go on the date and the whole time you are thinking, "This person must be staring at my gaping wound" the whole time causing you to be a nervous wreck, killing any chance at leaving a good impression.

That is exactly what happens to me when I concern myself with what other people think of me.  As an artist, I realized seeking approval is death.  I can't think of any good artist that concerned themselves with conforming to the status quo.  Most broke conventions and might have been looked down upon at first but so is every innovation.

So I pledge from here on out to say F*ck it!  The only approval I should concern myself with is my own. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

TMNT

Yesterday, Peter Sciretta from slashfilm.com reported the 20th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' theatrical release.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or TMNT had a big effect on my childhood.  I went to go see the movie for my birthday with a group of friends and it was awesome.  From that point on, I was a huge fan.  I got all the action figures, their lair, watched the cartoon, used the word cowabunga and even watched the sequels.  My friends and I would quote the movie all the time.  I still quote the movie.  I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle and I still want to be a Ninja Turtle.

I had a chance to meet Josh Pais, the original Raphael.  It was a surreal experience.  I was taking the Summer Intensive at the Atlantic Theater School.  I was pretty psyched to take a class with the Raphael and he didn't disappoint.  He was very cool and fun guy.  He probably caught me looking at him with a grin on my face as he was talking through out the class because his normal speaking voice is Raphael's voice.

I think the reason I enjoyed this movie so much as an 8 year old boy is that their world was my world.  Unlike Star WarsTMNT took place in my galaxy, NYC to be exact.  At the time, NYC was probably the equivalent of Italy in a Shakespeare play, a place where anything could happen.  So in the back of my head I always thought there might actually be Ninja Turtles living in a sewer somewhere eating pizza, watching April O'Neil on the news while Splinter meditated.

A boy can dream, can't he?


Here's the link to Peter's own little trip down memory lane plus the Theatrical Trailer:
http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/03/30/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-live-action-movie-was-released-20-years-ago-today/

Sunday, March 28, 2010

P and The NYC Marathon

This past week, my client P ran in her first NYC Half-Marathon.  She completed it in two hours forty minutes, averaging a twelve minute mile pace.  When we first started training for this event she would get winded walking two miles straight.  Over the course of 12 weeks, she steadily increased her mileage, improving her endurance and pace.  There were times during the 12 weeks that she doubted herself, a natural response.  So I would then have to remind her where she started and how far she has come. 

I am extremely proud of how far she has come.  She conquered what, at first, seemed like an impossible task.  Now when I look at her I can't help but feel lucky to have been there every step of the way as she transformed into an athlete.  Her story is better than anything on TV, I'll tell you that much.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Youth In Revolt Review





If you’re looking for a revolution, look somewhere else.  Youth In Revolt is, like most revolts in history, just a passing phase.  Director Michael Arteta, best known for The Good Girl, tackles this adaptation of the book by the same name.  The film stars Michael Cera as our protagonist Nick Twisp, Portia Doubleday as Sheeni, the object of his affection.  An ensemble of great comedic actors round out the cast.


Nick Twisp is your typical movie teenage virgin, idealistic, na├»ve and desperate.  The movie opens with Nick getting to know himself intimately.  His room is full of Frank Sinatra records and he confesses he could listen to a Frank Sinatra love song at least once every hour of the day.  His mother and her boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) talk about him as if he is not in the room. You get the impression that Nick is a much more pathetic version of Michael Cera’s character from Super Bad.   He eventually finds himself in a trailer park outside of Oakland where he meets Sheeni.  After spending some time together, Sheeni informs Nick that it is best to end the relationship because he is the opposite of her ideal man.  As a result he conjures up an alternate personality, Francois.  He is the guy with the John Waters mustache you see in the trailer. Without revealing too much of the plot, Nick then goes on a journey to win Sheeni over completely.


Michael Cera really plays himself as Nick Twisp, and even as Francois, he never leaves himself behind. Going into the movie, I expected a much larger difference between the two personalities.  Francois comes across as simply a more selfish version of Nick, rather than the dream guy Nick believes Sheeni wants to be with.  It is the supporting ensemble that really stands out in this film.  I found myself enjoying the scenes where any of the supporting characters had screen time more than any of the scenes with Nick alone, a result of Nick being a passive character.   Though he is our protagonist, Francois and the supporting cast are the most active characters.


There are a large number of supporting characters in this movie and they are more crucial to the plot than Nick.  Almost every supporting character is given a short introduction early in the film only to reappear, coincidentally, later in the film to help Nick achieve his goal. But for the most part, they are devices only--meant to act on behalf on Nick, who can not act for himself.  For example, Nick's best friend in the film does little to propel the story or tell us anything new about Nick.  I’m sure in the novel this character as well as the others play a larger role in the story and are better fleshed out. In the film, the actors, not the writing, make these characters at least enjoyable to watch.


The editing was a little staccato and some choices came off as playing for a laugh rather than propelling the story or characterization.  Specifically, there are multiple animation sequences which not only don’t support the film, but rather hurt it.  They pull the audience out the movie and in particular the first of these sequences reduces the film to being about sex, although it plays a large part in the movie it is about more than that. 


Youth In Revolt, like a teenager, struggles to find its identity.  It straddles the line of drama and teenage romantic comedy.  Neither of the two is particularly well done.  Yes, I did laugh and laughed hard in some places and reflected in some moments but all of these moments fade when the theater lights come up.  Super Bad is far superior in both regards but if you need your Michael Cera fix go ahead and check out Youth In Revolt.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year Everybody!!!

Well, It's a new year and as I reflect on 2009, I realize it's been a pretty eventful one.  I had been focusing on the negative until I read this: "I can't have the same disdain for this decade I hear others expressing.  It was the decade a miracle happened and I got to do what I love for a living."  - Cyrus from Spill.com. This made me look at the past year in a positive light and here are some of the highlights of this past year. I've traveled to L.A for The Quarrel. Performed in everything from Shakespeare and Chekhov to Jose Rivera and other contemporary playwrights.  Proposed to my lovely girlfriend of four years.  Watched my nephew grow to be the cutest thing in a diaper and the best drummer I know.  All of these moments give me hope that every day in 2010 could be another highlight in my life or maybe even...a miracle.  


May your 2010 be full of highlights and a miracle or two.