An Actor Prepares

•August 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I have always been fascinated with the craft of acting, and have read many books on all aspects of it, from the business end, different methods (including “method”), down to stories of those who have failed in their pursuits of making a living at acting. For some time though, a particular book –one that is often regarded as among the finest available on the subject– has managed to elude my grasp, whether by being unavailable as I was to check it out, or just slipping my mind when I had an opportunity to grab it.

It is, as silly as this may sound, my intense interest in acting that often keeps me from being able to enjoy movies. Not so much that I think I could do better (especially since I am completely untrained), but just that I get carried away in thinking about the work that went into developing a character; the training at sword fighting, or whatever other skill the character is proficient in; and just general fantasies about what an amazing job it must be to be an actor. Not that I am deluded and full of only the glamorous aspects of all this. I understand that the term starving artist is so well known for a reason, and that actors (unless they are excellent waiters) are often the hungriest of them all. There’s something about the struggle, the romance, the suffering for art, that seems like magic to me, and makes me want to learn more about this art and those who do it so well.

At last I managed to have my mind on this subject when I was searching the library catalog recently, and came across An Actor Prepares, by Constantin Stanislavski. I’ve only managed 50 pages of reading in the first night, but have so far thoroughly enjoyed it. The way it is written is interesting, almost like a story…here is what Wikipedia says: An Actor Prepares.

Constantin Stanislavski 1898

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one of my new favorite places in ann arbor

•May 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

2funfunthis is behind a chinese restaurant my parents used to take me to when we’d drive to ann arbor for dinner and shopping. i always tried to get them to drop me off there with my skateboard while they shopped, and then just meet up with me fo dinner. it never worked. but now that i’m all old, i can do what i want. i don’t have a skateboard anymore, though. but my bikes like it. πŸ™‚

the way we treat it, is insane.

•May 15, 2009 • 3 Comments

Tonight after coming home from class (I had a test in accounting, and I think I did much better than I was expecting) I decided that it was far too nice out to stay indoors. For me, this usually means a run or a bike ride. I had some library books to return, so I opted for the bike. Having a backpack with speakers in the straps makes a bike ride extra special, so taking books was also an excuse to ride without having headphones.

Anyway, after cruising to the nearest library branch, and jumping off/over everything I am capable of on the way there, I met a man on my return trip. I had just cut through a gas station parking lot that has a big curb right before a small grassy slope about two feet high. As I am prone to do, I headed toward the curb as quickly as possible hopped over it and cleared the grass to land on the sidewalk below. Just after landing I heard someone yell –almost like a cheer– and turned to my left to see another biker in the parking lot below the gas station. I turned and headed in their direction thinking perhaps they were out on a similar bike mission, and found a man who looked to be in his early forties, with thick eyeglasses, wearing a cardigan and khaki pants,Β  riding in the parking lot. As I greeted him I noticed that he was smoking and, perhaps to give some cause to my approach, asked him for a cigarette.

He went on to ask if I’d like one courtesy of Weber’s (a fancy hotel in my neighborhood) or a Camel. I opted for the Camel. After a few minutes of chatting about the weather, he began to talk about American society and how disconnected from each other we have all gotten; about how there is all to often not much of a sense of community. This seemed like it would be an interesting topic to have while we enjoyed the weather and our cigarettes. To continue in this vein, we spoke of the way that sprawl, subdivisions, and zoning can make people dependent on cars, which puts them in a little bubble and further isolates them from human contact. Soon after this, he began telling me about how he was working to save up to move to France, and was telling me of the many business ideas he has, some of which I kind of wish I had been taking notes on.

Knowing that I was going to be blogging this evening before bed, and wanting to document the occasion I asked the man (who’s name is Benjamin) if he would mind if I took his photograph and put it in my blog. He said that would be fine, but that we should probably go to another part of the parking lot for better lighting.

After we moved and I snapped his picture, we sat on a curb an continued our conversation. As it turns out, Ben is currently homeless, and had been camping out near the parking lot where we met. He had also just recently lost his job after spending a night incarcerated for littering in Rochester Hills. While we were sitting and talking, the conversation moved on to religion, and how he had not long ago been at a church in the metro Detroit area, with at least 80 cars in the parking lot, and a congregation of people who pretty much shunned him because of his current circumstance. We talked about the concept of “corrections” vs “incarceration” and how there is very little correcting that actually goes on when someone is locked up. Having a younger brother who has been in and out of jail and also spent five years in prison, I had a pretty good idea of how the whole system seems to work. After talking a little bit about my brother, who is schizo affective, with bipolar disorder being the mood disorder, and the usual delusions, hallucinations and thought processes that go with schizophrenia, Ben revealed that he had been labeled as being bipolar as well. From our exchanges so far, I would not have ever suspected as much except for the fact that he was currently without shelter, and unfortunately that and a diagnosis of mental illness often go hand-in-hand.

Ben was telling me about how he has several siblings, most of whom have all but disowned him. There was a recent incident of one of his brothers not even taking him in for a night when he showed up at his house. I’m sure there have been incidents that would make his brother a bit leery of taking him in, but to tell him to get off of his lawn and leave the property –not even offering a meal or a glass of water– is just insane to me. Back to my brother for a moment: there have been things that happened when he was living with our parents; theft, property damage, aggressive behavior and talk of hurting the family pets, that caused them to ask him to go elsewhere for a while, but he is still always welcome for dinner and able to stay the night whenever he needs to. I can not imagine (if I had a house of my own) ever turning my brother away. I would rather have to keep all of my valuable belongings locked away than to tell him he is not welcome.

My brother has, in addition to being in and out of my parents house, mental wards, jails and prison,Β  been homeless at times. Our conversation then turned to the way that society thinks of people who are diagnosed with mental illness. It is quite shameful to me in many ways. Persons with mental illness are too often shunned, ridiculed, treated as sub-human, and left as castaways from society. It breaks my heart a little to know that fear and lack of understanding can cause otherwise decent people to treat another in this way. Because of this, and the special care and attention that some people need (it can be a lot, and very overwhelming) many, if not most, mentally ill people become homeless. And unfortunately most homeless people have some sort of mental illness. Without a society that is more willing to understand and try to help them to build a life for themselves, many of them die alone, and with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

I’m not saying we should all go out and take in strangers like stray stray cats, or that we are all inherently evil for not being empathetic to the plights of the mentally ill or homeless, I’m just saying that a I think a little more compassion is in order. I can’t tell you how many times during the forty minutes we spent talking that Ben, who’s last name is Perraut (he wanted me to be sure I got the spelling right so I wrote it on my arm), told me how nice it was to have another person just sit and have a conversation with him, to just connect in as simple a way as having a smoke on a nice night and talking about what they’ve been reading, or the book he’s been writing, or Eastern religions and applied philosophies versus organized religions of the West… to be treated like a human, with their own thoughts and ideas, as opposed to some throw-away piece of societal fringe.

I’m not saying we all suck. I’m just suggesting that next time we see a homeless person, instead of jumping to the conclusion that they fucked up somehow, that it’s all their fault and they deserve what they get, we should maybe look a little closer at the fact that it is another human being, who could maybe use a little help, or at least a little understanding.

I’ll end this with one last thought, something I read many years ago that stuck with me: Mental illness: the way we treat it, is insane.

Ben

leprechauns and love

•May 12, 2009 • 2 Comments

I had an interesting dream last night. Many really, but one in particular stood out from the rest and has still been fresh in my head all day.

Of course, now that I’m getting back to writing this, it’s a day later, and the dream is a little bit more fuzzy. I’ll do my best to get the gist of it out…

It all started (at least this section of the dreaming) when I went down into the basement to play drums for a bit. I sat down at my kit, and it just felt awkward. At first I couldn’t really see any difference –I may not have actually been “seeing” anything, more like a feeling, you know how dreams are– but after being at it for a little while I noticed that a couple of cymbals were not where I would expect them to be. It was quite odd, as if they were there when I sat down, but just sort of vanished and I didn’t even notice until the playing felt off… Anyway, after further investigation, I found that they were on the floor a few feet away from the drum set and near a door that goes to the under-stair storage. The stands were folded up and laying with the cymbals. As strange as all of this was, I knew right away that it was the work of a Leprechaun who lived mostly under the stairs. Not the cool kind that puts marshmallow’s in your cereal. No, nothing good can live under the stairs (besides Harry Potter, but I digress), and this little wad of misery was a friend of none. Knowing that the leprechaun was probably still near by, I did what I usually do when I’m in the basement and feeling creeped out (which is every time I’m done doing what ever I was doing down there): I ran like a bat out of Hell up the stairs!

When I reached the top of the stairs I was in a foggy forest. This is actually quite a normal setting for dreams of mine. Most of my dreams are pretty spooky, nightmarish by most people’s standards, but I have never considered any dream I have had to be a nightmare. Not long after my arrival in the forest I heard a voice calling to me. It was a familiar voice, one I have heard many times before. Probably the most beautiful sound in the world to me, I knew instantly who it belonged to, but I cannot tell you her name, because I do not know. You see, in so many of my dreams, especially the horror-style ones, I have a companion who is with me on the adventure.

I followed the sound of the voice to find it’s owner kneeling by a tree, with her ear to it, listening for something… I can’t recall exactly if the exchange that we had was verbal or just something that was known between us, but we had to find the leprechaun before he could kill anything (not sure how we knew he was going to, but hey, he lives under the stairs…). The rest of the dream is mostly a haze. The main thing that I took away from it is the feeling that I get from this companion of mine in the dreams. I don’t know what exactly she looks like… dark hair perhaps, probably a nice jawline, slightly shorter than me I think, but that’s all just a guess. The important thing is that it is always the same person. She always feels the same, and seems to have the same shape, while still being almost shapeless; ethereal to the point of almost having no form… No matter the terror of the situation in the dream, or the challenges we are facing, I feel calm, strong, and complete when this person is beside me. There is a connection that I hope is something to be found outside of a dream, a feeling that if the world were to collapse around us, that if everything were to turn to ash, we would both have everything we could ever need as long as we were together. It’s almost like we are each others guardian angels, but both of flesh and blood, and so much more. As if we are the same energy (I believe that much of the world is, in a way, anyway) occupying two different vessels; together, but separate; one that is two and two that are one… It makes me into a fucking retard every time I have a dream like that.

I don’t know if a feeling like that can ever be real outside of a dream, or a movie. It seems like we hear stories of such things in real life, but until I see them for myself they are just that -stories. Being the bleeding heart that I can too often be, I believe there is such a thing to experience in this world. As far as the dream goes, and the location of the leprechaun, or learning the face and name of the girl in my dreams, I’d gladly trade never knowing any of that to meet this person once in real life. I would never dream while I sleep again, if it meant I could live my dream while I am awake.

cinco de mayo, and nothing to do with it.

•May 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I’m not quite sure why I’m writing. I think the important thing is just that I am. The hope being that if I just start typing away, the random thoughts will somehow begin to take focus, and this evenings blogging effort will actually become a worthwhile read for anyone who comes across it. So far, it doesn’t look good. πŸ™‚

This weekend was the last that I will be able to see of one of my best friends for about six weeks. He just finished his third year of pharmacy school, and will be spending some time at home in Seattle and S.C.U.B.A. diving in Hawaii. So this past weekend was spent mostly with him (when I wasn’t working), one of our good friends from Jiu Jitsu, and his class in pharmacy school. It was a really good weekend; the sort that makes you realize how lucky you are to have certain people in your life. Kind of sad, in that he will be back home for a while, but exciting in that it will only be for six weeks this year instead of almost four months.

Outside of that I’ve been mostly riding my bike and studying. I’m sure anyone who follows me on twitter knows exactly what I am up to at all times, since I update incessantly. I don’t seem to be able to get enough bike riding in during a 24 hour day. I swear that I could spend about 8 hours each day riding, and be totally cool with it. Provided that my body can handle it. Hmm, maybe I should ask some Tour De France guys for some steroids… In all seriousness though, the new-to-me bike that I picked up has been such a blessing. It is totally set up for jumping, so I don’t have to wince every time the shock bottoms out (it hasn’t yet πŸ™‚ ), or get frustrated with the way it bunny-hops and handles in the air. Nope, this bike is not a XC bike. Not that I hate my XC bike, I just like this one more.

I checked out the dirt jumps that they have at Bandemer park in Ann Arbor, just off of N Main street right before you get to M-14. They seem pretty cool. It had been a while since I’d hit jumps like that, so I just stuck to the really small rolloers and the next bigger set. Nothing with a gap yet. It’s amazing how much tougher on your body dirt jumping is than just hopping off of stairs and ledges on campus! After just a couple of runs I’m ready to rest for a minute. Partly because of the rush and the fact that my heart is beating our of my chest, and partly because of actual muscles soreness. I love it! I definitely plan to spend a lot of time there this spring and summer. And to buy a helmet ASAP.

Today was my dad’s birthday, so I called and spoke with him really quickly while I was at work. I should probably head down and visit him, and run by my mother’s house, in the next few weeks here. It just seems like between work and school, the couple of hours I have scattered here and there aren’t really enough to do much besides escape on the bike for a minute. All of the hours out with friends do not count, because they are not during usual visiting hours. They are during sleeping hours, and that is a sacrifice I chose to make, ya dig? πŸ˜‰

I guess I shouldn’t really spend too much time at this, since I have a mid-term tomorrow in one of my classes. I’m going to just throw up a couple of pics of the dirt jumps. Unfortunately I waited until it was almost dark, and I was too tired to do anything besides take pictures before I tried to take them, so they didn’t really turn out well. Whoops.

bandemer dirt jumps

bandemer dirt jumps2

what i ended up with as my street bike

•April 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So, I never got the Identiti that I was interested in. I may save up and get the frame later, and put the shocks and everything else from the bike I ended up getting on it. Minus the front derailleur. Who knows, I may even set it up single speed. But anyway, for now when it comes to jumping off stairs and drops, etc., here is my “urban assault vehicle”:

04 Kona Scrap

Here are the specs:

  • Frame: Kona Clump 7005 Scrap Frame
  • Rims: Sun Ditch Witch
  • Hubs: Shimano 6 bolt disc Hubs (but I’m not going to put discs on them)
  • Tires: Maxxis Holy Rollers (so nice on the street!!)
  • Grips: Bontrager
  • Forks Front Shocks: Marzocchi BOMBER 03 EXR Comp 130mm Travel (haven’t hit bottom yet πŸ™‚ )
  • Seat. SDG U.S.A.
  • Pedals: Kona Jackshit (they’ve got huge spikes that would kill, but there’s no foot slipping)
  • A-Head set
  • Handle Bars: Kona DH
  • Stem: Kona
  • Shifters: Shimano Finger Shifters
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Alivio
  • Rear Derailleur. Shimano Alivio
  • Crank: TRU VATIV Husselfelt
  • Bash Guard:K-Nine

it sprung

•April 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It rained today, and spring happened. It smelled nice. I love it once it has sprung. Black and red are my favorite colors, but I still like green.

fleur

I like to take pictures of flowers. But I used to fight in a cage, so it balances out…

fleur 2