Saturday, November 3, 2012


Times like this don't always come along, so I thought I should share the goodness in my life right now.  I'm super busy, which translates to me being happy.  Literally 30 seconds ago I checked my email to find two new scripts for projects I'm cast in without having to audition for because I've worked with the people on other projects and they liked me.  In fact, over the next two weeks I'll be shooting four separate short films.  They're all student films, and they'll help me fill out my reel and also make the right kind of working relationships I need to be building right now.  Earlier this afternoon I got a call from an indie feature film I auditioned for.  Well, it's for the sizzle reel (short collection of scenes from the film to convince investors everyone knows what they're doing and it's a good investment), and they want me for a good role that's fun to play and pops up through the whole film.  However, I'm not sure I'll be able to do it because I'm be flying out to Florida in two weeks to work on another film.  That's right, I was offered a role but had to say I wasn't sure I could do it since I was already booked on another film.

It's 1:30 am and I just started a pot roast I'm so looking forward to enjoying at lunch tomorrow.  The reason I started it so late is because I didn't get home until after 12:30 from my other semi-acting job.  It's a haunted house, but it's a unique kind of experience and everyone working it are professional actors.  It's called Blackout, I'd attach a link to here or something if I weren't so tired.  So yeah, super busy, super happy.  Thanks for sharing in my journey.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tonight I accosted Neil Patrick Harris

Well, he signed up for it and signed a waiver saying it's okay, so I guess it was not accosting in the legal sense.

I got a job at a...well...we'll call it a haunted house, but there's no ghosts or anything.  It's called Blackout, they've been doing it in NY for 4 years and this is their first time in LA.  It's a small cast, and it is more of a cast than a crew because there's no monster make-up or any of the normal haunted house things, just creepy situations.  In fact, it's kind of an anti-haunted house.  You have to be over 18 to enter and you have to go through it alone.  Also, you have to do everything you are told and you will be touched by the performers.  In short, it's an intense experience.  There is nudity involved (not me) and all sorts of freaky things.  To give you a hint, my room is a narrow space that only has you, me and a staple gun in it. 

Since I'm not in the right mood to explain this better, I'll just say that NPH went through the house tonight, we stared deeply into each others eyes, he stapled me then I stapled him.  I also felt his chest- he's got super muscles, btw!  Anyway, that was the highlight of the show for me so far...well...I'll call it the highlight because I also have people who leave my room in tears...I'm extra creepy and people buy into the whole experience because...well...there's some real things that go on in there...and some really creepy things too.

If you're in LA, try getting tickets.  I know it's sold out but they might extend the run.  And remember the safe word so you can call it if it's too intense for you.  I know I would not go through it as a patron, it's rough enough being in it.

I have to also say that though there are a lot of screwed up situations within the show, the cast is made up of some great people...if not mildly disturbed, but I would have to be included in that number.

In the words of NPH via twitter: Dudes! Just went through Blackout in LA. You must go through it alone! Terrifying, intense, a little horny. I loved it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quick rundown of recent life events

So I suck at updating on this thing apparently.  It's been a really great last few weeks, I'll just drop the highlights and save the stories for later, I guess.

I've been auditioning like crazy, doing a few student films, I shot a promo for AMC's Fearfest, so you can see me on AMC this month. 

Last week I was an extra on the best show ever made-Arrested Development! I don't want to give any spoilers, but I'll say I was part of one of Gob's a wedding.  I also had a great little chat with Alan Tudyk, an amazing actor who's not really recognized for how great he is both as an actor and a human.

I just got cast in the epic haunted house experience Blackout, which has been running in NYC for about 7 or so years and LA for 4 years, still not sure what I'm doing and it scares the crap out of me, which is probably exactly why I'm doing it.

Keeping up with improv, in 401 at UCB, doing some shows at indie venues, generally being kick-ass at life.

Did I already mention the auditioning?  Yeah, doing a bunch of that.  This last weekend I had a shoot scheduled then got offered another shoot I had to turn down then got offered a role in a third shoot also on the same day for something I didn't audition for but the guy was calling me based on another project I auditioned for him.  So yeah, feeling pretty good about if I could just make some money doing any of this...

Friday, July 13, 2012

That depressing blog where I realize I'm turning into white trash

I'm doing nothing at the moment to feel like I'm successfully being a human. I have drafts of two different scripts I need to go over and rewrite...several times. Though every time I sit down to do that I immediately succumb to weariness and take a nap. Serious. Every time I sit down with either of them, bam!-nap time. I have a hard time sleeping at night. I think it's due to the heat. I am not made for heat and my body refuses to successfully rest in any capacity at night when it gets even a glimpse of the notion it's in nature's oven. That might explain part of the day naps-my lack of night sleeps.

Beyond heat I keep putting things in my body it doesn't like. Namely: food. I'm beyond broke, so I buy all my "food" at the cheapest places around town, and though I love hamburger and sausage, I'm used to eating hamburger from cows I helped raise and butcher and sausage my family made. Now I'm eating the cheap hamburgers where if you microwave them, the parts that should not be in meat get all hard and chewey. And the sausages I'm eating...I really don't know what percentage of them are a meat-like product, but I regularly get bits of bone and cartilage when I bite into them. So yeah, I'm not helping myself there. I feel disgusting inside.

I'm not really working at any sort of job, partly because of my random travel schedule where I'm in and out of LA every couple of weeks for the next 2 months, so since I'm not really working and have all this time to work on my scripts...of course I'm watching movies and TV and eating the cheap ice-cream and drinking pop, which is something I never really did regularly until now-when I feel like a useless human.

Then the guilt. I know that all it would take to make me feel good about myself is to make a schedule and STICK TO IT! I've made a dozen different game plans over the last dozen or so weeks. Not a one of them made it past Wednesday. It turns out that when I'm solely responsible for myself...I am not responsible at all. Classes were nice, I'd like to sign up for a sketch class so I would have a weekly deadline I'd hold myself accountable to. I know I would too, but since I don't have that group of people...movies and TV-and no good sleep at night. And so many noises from my neighbors in the next building! Windows 3 yards away from mine, directly facing me, funneling every noise directly into my brain. Grating.

I didn't mean to bitch, I just meant to say that I know I'm not doing myself any favors by submitting myself to the downward spiral. Hopefully I'm not on it for the full ride, but if I am, then at least there's an account of how one almost normal person can become a self-loathing pile of shame.

How's your day?

Monday, July 2, 2012

City Limits

I've reached my limit for this city. It's so damn noisy everywhere. Someone just moved into the apartment building outside my window with a baby and a dog. That and it's summer and too hot for me. I can't sleep when hot (though I do have a mini ghetto booty that makes me hot, I think you know what I'm talking about). And the stupid people! So many of them! Everywhere! I'm becoming one of them!

I was getting so frustrated at the weather, the noise my computer (which just turned mentally retarded) and everything. I was so happy I'll be heading home to Oregon in two weeks time for a friend's wedding. I also realized that I have a friend coming into town tomorrow. That fact has been slipping in and out of my mind the last couple of weeks. Not sure how much fun I'll make the city seem for her, but perhaps a taste of Oregon will help me keep from killing everyone around me for a couple more weeks. We'll see.

All I know is that my body is still set up solidly for Oregon: its reasonable temperatures (I am sunburned as I type this), and its ability to shut up and let me think once in a while. I'm sure I miss more than those two things, but right now it's pretty darn hard to think bigger than peace, quiet and not sweating in my bed.

So yeah, I'm a big ball of sunshine right now. LA: you broke I break you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I'll Keep my Eyes Open

When I was about 6, or maybe it was 8 or 10-remembering things from that long ago is not an exact science-I recall a moment I know I will always be chasing, and may never find again.

I was in the backseat of the car, the brown bomber as we called it. It was brown and old, fairly straightforward name. I was shopping with my mom, or rather in the car leaving the parking space, groceries in the back with me. We pulled out of the lot and drove down the road toward home. This was a farther location because we had to get on the highway for a few miles. While cruising along I looked out the window and saw someone looking back at me from another car. A young girl, about my age. We locked eyes and in that moment saw into each other. I had an odd feeling and in my tiny, developing brain some synapses fired and I had the sudden realization "This is the girl I'm going to marry."

Just as suddenly as we connected, our cars separated, hers going off the ramp. I remember us both sitting up in our seats, keeping eye contact for as long as we could; Then it was over. My mom drove us home, we unloaded the car and I played with my Legos, creating worlds to play in.

I still think about that moment. That person. I've been single for a long time and not unhappily so. I wonder how much of me, in every relationship I've been in and will be in, will continue to wonder about that impossible girl. How many times have I seen her, walked past her or barely missed her? Or why my young brain took me in that moment from her eyes to forever and back.

All I can say for sure is that it happened and somewhere out there she exists. Whether she remembers it consciously or subconsciously and if she's married or not and searching. I can only live my life as it comes and remain open to the possibility that once again the old dusty wiring in my brain might make a connection and fire out a second message to when it recognizes who or what I saw over 20 years ago. Until then, I'll just keep my eyes open.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Getting a job, missing a show and buying a shirt

Oh my crapping gosh, why do I always dive right into the deep end? When will I learn I hate getting my head wet after I'm already in freefall?

Today I went from unemployed to possibly over-busy, at least for tomorrow.

I emailed a guy, from reference of a friend from one of my acting classes, about a job as catering waitstaff. It should be interesting. Man, I wish I had the energy to keep telling the story of my day. I'll just have to shut up and power through.

Basically, I'm not working for a company, I'm a private contractor (professional waiter, apparently), and this guy pimps me out to whoever needs help. He first signed me up for a thing tomorrow night at a prestigious guild here in Hollywood (let's say it involves people who direct things), just clearing drinks and stuff at a poker tournament at the Guild HQ. Then I'm told my black shirt isn't black enough, it has subtle lines and I need a complete black shirt without even a hint of a pattern. So I went to 3 different Ross stores, 2 Targets, a used clothing place and K-Mart to no avail before I broke down and went to Nordstroms at The Grove. There he gave me two options of black shirt, sans pattern, one for $90 and the other for $95. NRRTS! He got the $90 one for me in my size and I cried a little, then asked if there was anything else. He said he had a single shirt in the back from another style and would check. Turns out it was a solid black shirt, no subtle lines, it was in my neck size, sleeve size and also a slim fit, so now I own a $60 black shirt I'll be wearing while I buss tables.

I was also supposed to see a friend's show at IOWest at 11:30...the idea of getting up at 4:30am after seeing an 11:30pm show is not the best, but I wanted to support so I went out (I decided to drive so I would be in bed sooner after the show), and on the way there were tons of police cars and motorcycles and they shut down traffic, so I was sitting at Hollywood/Vine and watched a sea of bicyclists shoot past in the other lane. Some sort of fancy bicycle parade on Hollywood Blvd at 11pm on a Friday night. This is where I live now...not too different from Portland, just with more people who honk their horns. After circling the block of the theatre and seeing a tow truck hauling a car whose alarm would not stop, being generally overwhelmed by the amount of people surrounding me and realizing I need some sleep if I'm supposed to look impeccable and serve rich people things tomorrow. That and I bought an iron...I think I mentioned that. Now I kind of wish I also had an ironing board...but the carpet isn't THAT bad.

In the morning I wear a white shirt and black bow tie, oh, and I'm also supposed to have a small wine opener with me...which I don't have, so we'll see how that goes. In the afternoon/evening I'm in all black with my new full length bistro apron. I can't complain...yet, anyway. I haven't lived tomorrow yet (though it's minutes away from starting). Let's see how I do

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trading Cows for Magic Beans

I guess this is something about myself I haven't really told many people, but I paid for my college education with cows.

When I was young I bought a cow from my dad for a dollar. I'm not afraid to say that it was quite the bargain. It's hard to say no to a cute little red haired kid in Osh-Kosh's. I kind of wish I carried a little more of that salesmanship into my adulthood, but I'm not really in the mood to wear Osh-Kosh's in LA, so I can't be too grim on that front.

That calf I bought grew up and had calves and they grew up and had calves and sometimes the cows and calves were brought to auction. Some calves because they were white-faced, which means something to dairymen, but not to Vinniemen. Sometimes the cows were pulled out of rotation and would become someone's hamburger. All this time my dad had a ledger and kept track of all these cattle. This one sold is his, that one sold was mine, etc.

Through my high-school career I think my family figured I'd be going to college...I like to think it was for more reasons other than the fact I wore glasses since kindergarten and had head-gear in high-school (luckily only at bedtime, but that experience is something you carry with you all day). When my dad got money from selling the cows (plus a healthy bonus from all the milk production), he and I went to our local Washington Mutual branch and opened up savings CDs, back when they actually gave a good percentage. By the time I neared the end of high school, since I was the youngest of my siblings and none of us had an interest in taking over the farm, my dad retired and sold off the rest of the herd. My share finished off my circulation of CDs, having them come due every few months.

My plan in high school was originally to attend community college to save money, then finish off at some other college, since surely they would all offer the same stuff. My counselor shook his head when I told him this and said "nope, you're going to college." I laughed...then I started applying to colleges. I stuck to Oregon schools, since I would stay in-state I would save money (I'm definitely Dutch when it comes to monetary things if it's not clear yet). When I felt done applying I got something in the mail from Pacific University, which the only thing I knew about was that it was 7 miles away from my home. Moreover, it had an application that said "application fee waived." I thought "free application? Yes!" and I filled it out.

Skipping some time and all my letters of acceptance and waiting on scholarships, Pacific, the private liberal arts university became my cheapest option, and it was close to my family so I could still live at home (to save money) and attend college. I believe I am the only one of my siblings to have earned a four year degree.

I ended up moving into the dorms half-way through my first semester because I just felt like an outsider and I knew if I wanted to thrive there I had to live there, so there went my plan to save money, until I became a Resident Assistant my sophomore and junior years and got free room and board, then I became the Undergraduate Community Counsel President my senior year which I got paid for as well, so I think that decision to bite the bullet and pay more to be where I knew I needed to be paid for itself (let's hope my current position in LA falls in this line).

Through these four and a half years (yep, I did an encore semester), thanks to my dad's foresight and me buying a little calf when I was young (which I helped deliver, by the way), the CD's came due roughly the same time as payments were due, and in roughly the right amounts, so I ended up paying for college with money I got from selling cows. My college education was not really a couple of magic beans...but for this farmboy who's living in Hollywood...I know I traded the cows wisely.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Express yo self



They don't really fit together in the real world as much as some people try and place them together. Both exist in life and only in rare circumstances together.

To put it bluntly I have a lot of crap going on right now. My life is up in the air. I'm less than 3 weeks away from turning 30 and I have no job, no real prospect of a job, a place that's too big/too much for me, taxes I just paid, insurance I have to pay, classes I want/need to take and no income of consequence. I'm living the dream.

In my acting classes I'm realizing that though I am a sensitive person (I've always suspected must have something to do with all that poetry I wrote in the bathtub in High School), I am not an expressive person. I may be animated in life, but I don't really express my emotions. This works great in life, as I have said before, but I'm realizing that when I suppress one emotion, they all get squished down. There's a fantastic Ted talk on this matter I saw today from Brene Brown. Watch it if you haven't yet.

One step I'm taking for myself is to give me permission to express myself. A few minutes ago I got a text from a former improv classmate who said he'll be my new roommate, so that helps the financials quite a bit, and the fact that I avoided the craigslist crazies is enough to celebrate on its own. That's it. I still have big crap to deal with, attorneys and whatnot to speak to, parents to ask a loan from (yep, almost thirty I am). All that aside, there's one victory for me to have. I don't need to do the old Catholic guilt thing where every time something positive happens I stay quiet about it and wait for the bad thing that's following right behind it. I'd rather not celebrate publicly to be immediately humiliated even more publicly. That said, since I know it's going to happen anyway, I might as well enjoy the moment and have those few minutes of happiness than postpone them out of future dread.

I'm not sure what I'll do with my anger as it comes up, as I know it will, but I guess I'll just find out. I'm letting my happy out of the bag and lettinallowing Pandora to remove whatever else she thinks needs some airing out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ruminations on Holy Thursday

So much I haven't been writing about, and still more I'm not ready to write about just yet!

I had a great experience in church tonight. I went to the Holy Thursday mass up in Burbank because I got out of an audition late and it was the closest Catholic church. It was a fascinating service. There were a total of four languages spoken. Some of the songs and even the readings were done in Vietnamese and Spanish as well as English. Then of course, because it's Holy Thursday there was a nice helping of Latin.

More than the words spoken were the emotions touched upon. A couple weeks ago one of my acting coaches told me that if I'm ever going to be a good actor and feel more on camera I need to feel more in everyday life. Now there's the biggest little piece of advice I ever got. I have been working more on feeling life in every moment, and whatever emotions flow through me.

The issue I have (and every other human has) is that, though I was super open to my emotions as a child, I built up walls as I grew up. Very functional walls that help me live every day. My sense of humor, my impartiality, all the things that make me me. However, with all of those fully functioning parts of me in play, other parts of me are so protected that they have grown a little stunted. I rarely cry, and when I do it hits me hard. My deep emotions are bottled up within me so that they kind of explode out...though anger is something I don't think I've ever really understood or had a grasp on, and it's something I think less than five people have seen over my nearly thirty years on this earth.

During the mass I felt the impact of what we were reenacting as a group. The washing of the feet, and poor Simon never getting it right but trying so very hard to be perfect. Songs have always been able to seep through my defenses better than most other things, and there was some great music during the mass. What started to hit me was the exit when I remembered this is the time of year, the very day when they remove the host, the trans-substantial body of Christ from the church, leaving it empty. Removing the host from His home. The lights slowly went out as we sang and processed outside of the church and across the street into the parish hall. There was other singing there and we all knelt in vigil alongside Jesus as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked us to remain with him, his companions and his friends. Unfortunately when he asked his disciples to do this they all fell asleep.

As I knelt there I felt waves of shame and fear and joy know--emotions--flow through me. I know they'll continue through midnight keeping vigil, but I had enough time to go through my own little journey.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm away from home and the people I love and have known my whole life or the fact that I'm going through a terrible realization that people I've known and trusted for a year pretty much scammed me, or the fact that I just left an audition where I had to tell a woman that the hospital will not do a lifesaving procedure on her son because she has no money or just life as it is right now in general, but I was right there alongside Jesus. I was open to myself and to my fears and to my pain and I felt them all. I felt tired and hungry afterward. I felt alive.

Not that I don't feel alive normally, with all my personal neurosis and defenses and whatnot, but I was there in communion with something much bigger than myself. Not my ego either. In fact I heard on a podcast earlier today how this one artist interviewed other artists and when asking them all why their friends like them all had answers like, "because I'm a fun guy," or "I give them candy and stuff," such as that. However, when digging deeper, past their own walls they had built up around themselves they realized that their friends really like them because they are honest people. I kind of realized that yeah, I like to think people like me because I'm funny, but perhaps the real reason people like me has more to do with the fact that I'm one of the most sincere people out there. Not saying they don't find me funny...but I'm not saying they do either, I guess.

Anyway, I sat with myself for a while this evening and I let myself feel. The other big thought that crossed my mind is that I love my parents so much, and one of the hardest facts I'll have to face is that someday, hopefully not anytime soon, my parents will die and I will be forever without them and I'll have to mourn them. This is a fact I dread, and I pray every day that it is delayed as long as possible. I do not wish to mourn my parents, I'd much rather have them here telling me they love me and frustrating me with how they confuse the names of everything.

With all that in mind, I need to open myself to life and run straight to the pain because there is something much better once you experience and pass through those spots of life. There is always more, everywhere you look.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to feel like an ass without even trying: A way of life

Sometimes I am terrible at being a person. This is an email I wrote to a friend immediately after I got back to my apartment last night in a freak-out. Some details you should know first:

-D.L. stands for Diamond Lion, a musical improv group I go to every Friday with two of my improv friends, one of whom this email was sent to.
-This night I went alone to the show.
-Mike is our improv team coach and member of D.L.
-Eliza is a founder/member of D.L. and someone I have a mind-crush on because she's so friggin' hilarious and good at being funny/witty.

The email as it was sent:

GAH! So I am not allowed to go to a D.L. show alone, nor can I sit in the front row ever again. This is the long story of why:

After the show I left and started to head back to my apartment, but as I crossed the street I remembered Mike's words that I (meaning you, Chris and I) should hang out with all of them after the show sometime. I stopped and let my phone decide my fate for the night . Afterall, it is a SMART phone, so it should know best. I used the dice app, which three out of three times said I should go be brave and be social. That was bad choice #1.

Everything that follows is bad choice #2.

I turned around and waited outside the theater where I saw a few people I recognized from different shows. There were more performers watching D.L. than usual. The guest was some comedian I remember from somewhere as well, but I forget exactly. There was one of the cast members of the office hanging out there too. Mike wasn't out yet and I didn't want to embarrass myself so I went into that new bar right next door, waited outside the bathroom for a few minutes until I realized it was free and I'm just an idiot. Afterward I waited nearish the bar pretending like I was thinking of what I wanted to order.

I then went back outside and saw Mike (yay) with a couple other people. I greeted him, he introduced me to one of his friends, we talked for a minute before they all started migrating to La Poubelle. Mike's friend went to go check on his car so I followed Mike (the only person who knew me) who was talking to the other lady from D.L. The one that's not Eliza. At La Poubelle I held the door open for a few other people, one of which was a great improv guy I've seen in a bunch of shows and he teaches at Second City, he asked if we'd met before and I made some lame, awkward response, we shook hands before he scurried away from me.

This is where shit gets real!

La Poubelle is standing room only and full of real comedians. Like ones I've seen on TV, they must have been from that comedy show earlier in the evening. Moving my way through the crowd I brush past Stephen Merchant. Stephen Merchant! Co-creator of the original Office, and every other thing Ricky Gervais has done! Wow!

I basically moved slowly and awkwardly by groups of overwhelmingly talented people towards the back of the restaurant. There in a semi circle, next to Eugene who was talking to some guy, there was a people-sized space and--you guessed it--Eliza Skinner was talking to another improv guy, one of the people who I kind of "met" at the cafe the other day with Mike.

I thought that was the perfect set-up. I knew Mike was in line for the restroom and I couldn't stand creepily alone any I sauntered over to the group that I had the best shot with and incorporated myself into that circle. I couldn't have been creepier if I tried. Eugene was too deep in conversation with the other guy to notice me and Eliza had her back to me...but the people she was talking to gave me strong looks of "um...why are you creeping here you creeper?" It didn't help that I was doing and saying nothing. Their conversation stopped and Eliza turned around and smiled at awkward smile of "what are you?" I smiled and said "I liked the show." She thanked me. We stared. I continued with "I go to a lot of them, I really enjoy it, it's one of my favorites." She smiled and thanked me politely. I kept standing there feeling the awkwardness compound uncontrollably. Staring. Pressure. I blurted "I know Mike, he's my coach...and Eugene is 301 teacher."

Eliza's smile was even more forcibly polite, "yep, there's a lot of teachers in the group." I continued to stand as painfully awkward as anyone can.

I thought I'd name my thought, so I said "I'm feeling really awkward I don't know how to end this conversation."

Eliza said we could say our names, so we shook hands and said our names. Then continued to smile politely. In silence. I could not stop my brain or my mouth. "Yeah, I enjoy the stuff, this is really awkward. I don't know how to make it stop, so....yep...I should go now. Bye." At this point my brain hit the abort button and I just walked straight through the bar, past Stephen Merchant, the guy from the American Office and all the other people from TV and back into the night air where I mentally beat myself up all the way back to my apartment.

So yeah, from now on I'm not operating without wingmen...and I can no longer sit in the front row. Ever.

Vinnie Duyck

Friday, February 10, 2012

My 4 states

I'm taking a class right now that is kind of tying together my life. It's an improv-based class, but it's really focused on being emotionally big and believable on camera in the way all the Christopher Guest films are, and in a lesser way (or greater way, depending on your opinion), like Will Ferrell's movies.

We are working heavily on the commedia d'el arte notion of the four emotional states: Happy, sad, fear and anger. Man oh man, are we delving deeply into these! This is a great time for me to actually be revisiting this construct from my clown training a few years ago at the Portland Actors Conservatory.

The thing I'm finding is that for me and most of the other people in my class, fear and anger are the easiest to delve into. My personal thought is that it has something to do with the fact that we're all actors in LA, so we have plenty of reasons to be fearful and angry.

Three weeks ago I had a great breakthrough in another class where I had to play a scene in a hospital room with my dying mother (within the class rehearsal space). After some guided talk, I was fully in the reality of the moment and it was an amazing experience! It felt so real to me there was zero "acting" and 100% being. I have not been able to recreate that deep connection since then, but my overall realization was that to be an actor you have to be willing to put your loved ones in danger, at least emotionally and in the same part of your imagination that believes dreams are reality.

After thinking about that connection I have with the states of sadness, fear and anger, it intrigues me that the one state I find the hardest to go fully into is happiness. Apparently I'm not alone in this, it was consistently the most difficult for most people in class. The one state people strive for the most is the one that is hardest to get into.

While this one class is tying together all my training and stretching my muscles, the real question I am carrying with me is why happiness is so elusive. If I can get into the other emotional states with relatively little effort, why is happiness so elusive? Maybe I'm extrapolating too far out of bounds, but here I am searching for the answer to one of those big life questions. That in itself is an exciting and scary place to be.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My most embarrasing moment - on tape

I just watched the most embarrassing thing I've ever done (repeatedly in front of a crowd).

It was 2005, my bonus semester at Pacific University. I loved dancing, and I still do, and for some reason I had it in my mind that I wanted to choreograph a dance number for the autumn dance recital. Normally this is reserved for real dancers, ones who have actually studied. I had taken ballroom, swing and salsa, and ventured into courses in jazz and ballet, but I can by no means say I was good at any of them. I was bent on doing a musical piece that I knew would probably be terrible, but that excited and fueled me even more.

I love Weezer, and I fully believe that the blue album is one of the top 5 best albums of all time. As usual when it comes to things I end up adoring, I was formally introduced to the musical stylings of Weezer by a cute blonde girl. On one of their less appreciated albums there is a song "Hold Me." Listening to it I could visualize a story I wanted to tell in dance and movement. It would have a man and a woman, the two dancing separately for most of the song, enticing the other until the end when they come together. It was much like a movie where the guy and the girl metaphorically dance around each other until the end when they realize they are perfect for each other. I wanted to choreograph my half and have a girl choreograph her half and we would collaborate on merging our styles for the end of the piece. I had the girl in mind (a different blonde girl from the one who introduced me to Weezer). She was--and is very much still--an incredible dancer, and a wonderful, brilliant person. I approached her with the notion of collaborating on the dance piece. She said yes. We were both excited about it. Perfect start!

We met together in the dance studio several times working out the story of the piece, but after a few rehearsals, we came to heads about the choreography. Us choreographing our own bits was not gelling with her as she wanted one person to give the piece an over-arching style. My dream of having two wildly separate styles and pairing them might have been a bit of a fools dream, and I am always that fool. When we realized it wouldn't work out since neither of us wanted to hand over the reigns entirely to the other, we broke up as a dancing team. This was honestly one of the hardest break-ups for me, because I knew there was a lot of creative potential going to waste...and we were in no way a couple, but that did not make it any less of a break-up for either of us.

I wanted to forge ahead, and being a headstrong taurean, I wanted to keep the interplay of male and female energy, but I had no other person. My solution-I would do both myself. Solo piece! I kept rehearsing both parts, trying to give each a different energy and I designed a costume. Having access to the theatre's sewing room, I spliced together a skirt and frilly shirt for the left half and a men's shirt for the right half. In my dance, the right side would be male and have more angular movement and my left side would be female and have a softer, more fluid quality. My former dance partner still worked with me, but in ad advisory position guiding me along the way.

For the end of the song when the male and female energies merge, I kind of entered a frenetic spin where I ripped off the outer costume (I sewed velcro into the dress and shirts), revealing a white shirt underneath with my black dance pants. I then pranced about as a whole person embodying these two separate energies. Looking back, that must have been my idea of what a true relationship is. Sometimes I'm way too much of a romantic for my own good.

What brought this back into my life was a search for things I have done in the past to mine for comedy now. I did not have a copy of this performance (probably for the best), so I asked a friend who works at the college to track it down for me. She worked fast and a couple days later, here I am in my apartment watching myself prance about the stage almost 7 years ago.

It's not a long song, but by the end of watching it I was so embarrassed about my performance that I was sweating. It was almost a fear sweat from all the shame and excitement of seeing this kid--me--make a fool of himself. The reason it effected me so much is not because it was ridiculous, though it was. It's because I really meant it. The whole piece came from a deeply sincere place. When I performed it, I remember both enjoying the fact that people were entertained enough to laugh at it, but also feeling confused and hurt as to why, since it was a serious piece at heart. That one instance of putting my soul out on a limb taught me two things: 1. If you are a funny person, people expect everything you do to be funny, so be prepared to be laughed at for everything, and 2. Real pain is the true source of comedy.

I'm not saying I'm a clown with a tear running down my cheek, but I guess I did achieve what I set out to do. I performed in the dance recital with the most vulnerable performance of my life at that time. I entertained and expressed myself fully. I now have video proof that I am an idiot adventurer. Even though I am ultimately embarrassed at watching myself prance about the stage putting my heart into every awkward move, I have a little bit of pride in knowing that it was pure and a sincere performance. That doesn't mean I'll be sharing this video anytime soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I find the notion of the Muse fascinating, an elusive and fickle creature who brings people inspiration, usually at the most inopportune times. Perhaps it's like the Easter bunny leaving little idea eggs all over, some of them we step on and squish out everywhere. I'm not sure anyone would approve of the Easter bunny showing up in August or whenever he wanted, we have a specific day scheduled for his arrival. Imagine the tooth-fairy showing up in the middle of the night to get your tooth, but she's so clumbsy she wakes you up every time, giving you face-bruises and instead of money she leaves ice-cubes, so if you don't deal with it right away you wake up in a cold, wet bed. That's just how I feel when my muse gives me a great idea in the car and for some reason I can't get to a pen and write it down, and by the time I get home I forgot most of it anyway.

It's also fascinating that most people talk about the muse as female. For most people, if Angelina Jolie walked in the room to tell you something, you'd probably drop whatever you were doing to listen. The problem is if she does this when you're in the middle of an important discussion or heated debate you can't just get out of, and when you are free to listen to what she has to say, she's gotten jealous of having to share your attention attention and moved on.

Stephen King in his book "On Writing" has the best idea I've heard about the muse. Instead of a gorgeous ethereal female figure, the muse it a fat, lazy man who sits on your couch eating chips all day, making messes everywhere you have to clean up. The problem is you can't kick him out because every once in a while he'll say something that is brilliant you just have to write that very second before he interrupts to tell you there's no more toilet paper so he used other things. (I took some liberties on this retelling).

Sometimes I find the muse is more akin to someone who sleeps around. More than once I've had a moment of sheer inspiration and written down what I believed to be a uniquely new idea. I was so excited about it until I went to see a movie the next day and saw that exact thing on screen. Apparently my muse and I are not in a monogamous relationship if she's giving out the same ideas to whoever she pleases. What if this can work both ways? Maybe I can have several muses I draw from...but the idea of sustaining a relationship with several muses is not that palatable when I think of how tenuous my current muse-receptor relationship is.

My new plan on relating with my muse is to treat it like a house cat. Cats can show you great love and companionship, but scratch your face the very next second. So far, very apt with the muse. The more you want a cat to come, the less it will. Yep, very muse-like. If you have a regular schedule, the cat knows it and adjusts, being all cute and cuddly when it expects to be fed. So, perhaps I will have to take the easiest and often most difficult approach to courting my muse. I must have a regular schedule where I write no matter what and completely ignore my muse. He/She/it will just have to adjust to not being fawned over whenever they want attention and fit themselves into my schedule if they want to be stroked.

Now it's more like a relationship that got too serious so I broke it off, but I still want to be friends. I might miss the compulsive nature of my muse and all the random adventures we used to have, but that's the price of a stable, reliable relationship...and who says we can't still drive to the beach at 3 am once in a while?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All I know is that it ends with life.

I made some notes this morning of something I wanted to blog about. However, I wrote them in a morning half-sleepy state, so I cannot decifer what I wanted to write about, but I thought that would be a good starting place...not know what I'm talking about. I think it says "Evation Colot is life"...maybe "elevation color is life"? I'm not sure, but the last two words are "is life."

The point is, I'm sitting down and writing, which I've been really lazy about in general. I have an ever-growing list of ideas and a lack of drive to realize those ideas into sketches, blogs, etc. It's the whole -don't die with the song still inside you- thing I'm looking at. Maybe it's more like that time the future me talked directly to the past me. This requires a story-telling moment:

In college, one of my actor friends told me several times that I reminded her of her dad. I took it as a compliment...along with further proof that I've always been an old man. During the run of some show or another, after the play she introduced me to her father. I told him it was nice to meet the future me and we had a laugh. Then I asked him what he wanted to tell the younger version of himself. He took a moment and I could see him go to a personal place inside. Then he looked at me and said "Well, there is one thing. I always wanted to be a pilot, it was my dream, in fact. I entered the airforce and on one of my first times up, the instructor berated me the whole time and said I would never be a pilot. So...I stopped. I did not try to be a pilot anymore. I've done a bunch since then, but I still think about how I let one person keep me from flying."

That's like one of the things you read in a real chicken soup book, right? Well, it happened to me in college. I've had plenty of people tell me I could never be a pilot, but that won't stop me from flying.

[insert "The More You Know" song and shooting star]

....I still don't know what I wanted to write when I woke up this morning. "Exation Kotat is life"? The first part remains a mystery, but I know that it ends with life...and I hope I do too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The things that help us, hurt us.

While watching 30 Rock on my compuTV (just an old Goodwill computer I stream TV shows through...because I can't afford TiVO...or cable), I heard that old familiar gurgling that happens once or twice every night from the kitchen. When my neighbor in the apartment building uses their disposal, my sink backs up momentarily. It's a regular occurrence and I've gotten used to it. During the next ad break I ran into the kitchen to do the customary filling of my quart jar with water and rinsing the bubbles and food bits back down the sink [from whence they came] before filling the water filter back up. Whew.

Then I had a momentary revelation, as they tend to occur. This little daily annoyance led me to a double-rainbow-like quandary--what does it mean--about me? If I were in a relationship with my apartment (and I'm glad I'm not, beyond the fact that I'm sub-leasing the place), I know it wouldn't last. I wouldn't even move in with my apartment. Then I realized how many people are in relationships they don't really want to be in, but they'd rather put up with all the little daily annoyances than face the fact that they could do better. In that same way I realized that I NEED to put up with all the little daily annoyances of living in this apartment in LA. That's what I need to do to follow my dream. I know I can do better (and will), but I need to put up with these little annoying things today so I can put myself in a better place tomorrow.

As I am writing this the child upstairs is making sure I know he's throwing the biggest tantrum he can think of. Maybe I'm doing the same.

Crap, now I have to shut up, because I know when I walk down the street to see an improv show later tonight, I'll walk past a few homeless people. At least I have a roof over my head and I can complain about my sink temporarily backing up. I'm not in a bad relationship, I'm in a temporary situation. I'm not sticking it out until death, I'm living as best I can while I prepare for the next step, wherever it may be, with a whole new set of idiosyncrasies to complain about.

My raison d'etre in LA

This evening I went to a social thing for Catholics. It went much better than last night's thing where I was the youngest person by a few decades (I'm trying to make contact with people outside of the acting world in a social way). Tonight's was at a wine bar in Santa Monica. I love that area, it's really great. Traffic is terrible from Hollywood, but that's true for everywhere down here.

It was interesting for me, to talk to real people. By real people I mean non-actors. I've been spending most days going to class with other actors, so my own personal story became a part of the background, alongside everyone else who picked up and moved to LA to follow their dream of being a star. Nickel a story (+tax) kind of a thing. Tonight I heard people say “wow, that's ballsy” about my relocation. Through these other people's eyes and lives I realized “oh yeah, I'm here following my dream. That's pretty cool. A little ridiculous, but awesome just the same.”

My everyday life in Hollywood has become normal and so insular that I forgot I'm a pioneer, even though I'm pioneering a thing that's been pioneered so many times it's mapped on everybody's brain. I'm not here to be an overnight success (though I wouldn't say no to it), I'm here for the long haul, to do the work it takes to get where I want to be, and be a successful working actor (then later on a star). Tonight was a good reminder that I need to remember my place in the scheme of things, and the joy and realization that 6 months ago I never would have expected to start a paragraph with “my everyday life in Hollywood.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

Me do stuff?

In college I remember realizing that maybe I was stretching myself a little thin when I was student government president, in a play, doing homework, working on my senior thesis and maintaining family and friendships while hosting weekly parties.

Now I am not working and taking a few classes that don't really have homework, but I feel hard-pressed to write an email let alone sit down for ten minutes to write a blog. What's happened to me? I think Newton's Laws have caught up to me. I became an object at rest and I don't seem to have the smallest drive to change my state.

It's crazy, especially since I plan on getting back to the point where I am doing so much I am only maintained by the sheer momentum of my life.

Rethinking things, perhaps it was because in college I was responsible to all the other representatives on the council, my director, my teachers, grades and social status. Now I am, in theory responsible to my family and friends, but in reality I am responsible to myself. I need a Capn. Harris to my Mahoney. Lame Police Academy reference aside, I think I do need something like that. Wow. I just realized that I only did things because of the people around me. I need people around me again! Ones that want me to do things. Mainly things I need to do, not stuff like make a pizza or unload a truck, though both have their place.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Me overthinking

After having changed my twitter modus operandi to funny, I am now realizing how "serious" my blogs have been. Not that it's a bad thing, I just feel both overexposed and unentertaining in my blogging. I wrote a post and chose to not publish it about how there have been several friends from Portland who have apparently either visited LA or moved here without contacting me. I can't not acknowledge that without bringing up what that might say about my own actions. I have not found a way to make it funny without putting so much thought into it that it is no longer a blog and something else, but here I am. Maybe I need some more nakedness. Maybe I'm just overthinking as usual. Either way, I'm blogging, which is one thing I want to keep up, though it's so much easier to come up with a funny sentence or two and tweet that in stride. If tweeting is like candy, then what is this thing? Oh yeah, chicken strips! It's something that is satisfying, but probably not the healthiest thing out there. Woot! I'll call that resolution to this paragraph.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take No for an answer?

I don't like saying no. Especially to people. However, I've been finding myself doing just that. In improv, I am still very confused at the UCB approach which tends to lead to more "no's" than I am comfortable with in long-form improv, at least at the lower levels of experience. In life and improv I just want to go on an adventure, and when you "yes, and..." things, you build on that adventure. However, if it were my choice I would have every scene in space, so perhaps some grounding may be very useful.

I just said no to an acting opportunity because the subject matter did not quite gel with me. As in I was mostly okay with it, but I would not have wanted to show it to some of my family, so I said no out of principle. It was to a friend with over 20 years experience in films. That was a big and unusual no for me.

No and yes are both powerful words. Destructive and creative.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Skyrim junkie

I'm a dummy.

I bought the game Skyrim and I knew exactly what would happen. I am recovering like a junkie from yesterdays/this morning's 19 hour straight session of staring at the screen. It's a fun game and you can do anything in it, and in contrast to my last post, I have no problem saying yes to more playing. I have so many quests, side quests, etc that I can foreseeably play until the Nords discover America...if only they weren't bound by the dynamic geography of Skyrim's map.

On that note, I suggest Skyrim for those people who have something in about 6 months and they really have nothing else between here and there. Time will move around you like a swift current and you will be all unawares. Just live in Skyrim time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Plugging into social networks

Social networks look a little different in the country than they do in the city.

This morning I was walking to church and my neighbors were pulling out of their driveway and offered to give me a ride. Yesterday before leaving for a party I walked to another neighbor's house to wish them a happy new year. That neighbor happened to be my brother, so I guess that's a little different. The point is, in the country a social network involves very few zeros and ones. Rather, a country social network is a bunch of people living near each other. That's it. Simply being near each other requires you all to know everyone and look out for everyone. I know if some strange car pulls into the barnyard our neighbors will know and report it to my parents. That's just how it works.

Now that I'm living in LA, I don't even know the people who share the walls in my apartment building. My social network there consists of some people I met in classes who live all over the city.

My point here is that country social networks are people in proximity while city social networks are people at a distance. You can make arguments saying it's a division of responsibility between more people and how that means every individual is less responsible for everyone else, etc. What I've noticed from this is my own subtle detachment.

I remember when I said yes to every invitation to adventure, whatever it is (or I at least imagined a time when I might have done that). Now I would much rather say maybe next time and just play xbox. I see it in small ways in improv in the moments when I resist saying yes to something my scene partner introduced. I saw it in church when I was asked to be one of the people doing the collection (I view that as the tax for sitting near the back of the church). I am an actor and am used to being in front of people and here I am not wanting to carry a basket on a stick during mass.

Now that I recognize this, I can shake it off and move forward not only maintaining my social network from all the places I've been, but building it wherever I go by saying yes and participating in life. No more dalliance with detachment. Now there's a New Year's resolution for you.