Monday, December 29, 2008

I Love Plumbers

With Christmas out the way, we can focus on New Year's Eve. Thankfully my pipes are clean again. And no, that is not a metaphor. In the spirit of grubbinness, I offer you the following little video which I only discovered a little while ago. It's a car commercial I shot in Slovenia a few years ago, in which I play some dark and dirty character. Never really fancied myself as a goth, but the director evidently did. Good for a chuckle. As was my first attempt at snowboarding last week. But that's another post...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Merry

After spending the day out and about on Christmas Eve, thanks in part to the water being turned off, I returned home after a splendid late lunch of Shepherd's pie and baked beans (with HP sauce of course), followed by rhubarb pie with custard. As I entered the apartment, I was hit by a stink. A rotting kind of stink. Following my nose (an easy thing to do) I discovered that my bathroom was flooded and my bath was full of dark brown water. Since I had left the taps turned off, the foul smelling fluid had come up from the pipes below. Delish!

After an hour trying to empty the bath and unblock it, I realised it was futile. The blockage is severe and using any water in the basin only bubbles up to fill the bath as well. But I didn't call a plumber on Christmas Eve, nor will I today, when they'll no doubt charge a (more) exhorbitant sum, which the absent manager will undoubtedly refuse to pay.

NOTE: Had to stop writing this entry to start bailing water again, as my upstairs neighbor was having a shower and my bath started filling up! No doubt I will have to do the same when the neghbor 2 floors up has HIS shower.

The moral of today's story, is be thankful you're not near me. Cos I stink. Have a wonderful day, whatever you do. And may the New year bring love, laughter, passion and reward!

Whoa - gotta go. My bath is filling up again - I kid you not. Now I need to decide whether or not to risk going out to Christmas lunch and have my place flooded. Grrr. At least the water's warm...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why We Suck

After my ongoing theme of doppelgangers, how better to round things up than with a face-to-face with Denis Leary (aka Doppelganger #1). I saw that the man had a signing for his new book, Why We Suck, not far from me. The only challenge was getting there. I had to take my Dad to the airport after a splendid little stay with me - and could hardly let family take a taxi in order for me to spend 30 seconds with someone who looks a little like me. That's just weird. Oh yeah - and heartless.

So I took Dad to the airport, saw him through check-in and waved him off towards an invigorating cavity search (or whatever LAX security has in store these days) and only then raced off to the signing. Luck was on my side, traffic was thin and I arrived with time to buy a copy and rush upstairs to stand in line. Phew.

I had visions of Denis seeing me and going "Jesus, it's like staring into a mirror! I simply MUST put you in an episode of Rescue Me as my long lost, shorter, younger brother! Please tell me you're an actor - you ARE an actor, right? Wait, who's your agent...?"

In reality, it was more like "And this is to you?" He gestures to the book. I confirm it is, indeed, for me. I manage to cough up, in a thin whispery voice (what the hell?!) that not a day goes by I don't get told I look like him. "Ah," he says. (clearly he doesn't see the resemblance) "Well there's a picture in the book of me and Willem Dafoe". I laugh. The nice lady takes my picture and I leave, grinning like a child.

Good to meet the man. Seems like a nice guy. I am sure the book is not. Nice. With a cover blurb that runs "A feel good guide to staying fat, loud, lazy and stupid" you know he's not gonna pull any punches. It looks like a good bitch about people who bitch about things and blame others when they really need to stfu and change themselves. Just my cup of tea!

So what if I don't have a recurring role on the new season of Rescue Me. I got my face-to-face and that's what counts. I do feel a little bad that I had no time to explain that I was a little clammy cos I'd rushed like a loon from the airport, the warddrobe synchronicity was purely coincidence and I don't normally wear blue eyeshadow and eyeliner - that was from today's audition for the part of a washed-up Eighties rocker.

So what.

I'm sure, deep down, Denis knew I was a fellow thesp, deeply immersed in the craft, too committed to waste time with superficial things like mid-day cleansing, when there was an actor to support.


Denis Leary thinks I'm just another creepy sweaty guy who wears makeup and stands too close.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Help Save Gideon

I saw a heartwarming story on the news last night about a German Shepherd dog that was hit by a car. His name is Gideon and he has 6 months of painful recovery ahead of him. If you can spare a few bucks for the cause, please visit Coastal German Shepherd Rescue.

In addition to Gideon, they have dozens of dogs looking for adoption. Each dog has a bio and photos. Some even have video to show you their personality. You can't help but fall in love.

I would adopt a dog myself, except I live in a tiny apartment and that's really not fair for a big dog. But having gown up with a German Shepherd, I can say they are loyal friends who, given love and attention, will protect you to the end.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I wrapped my final day on Eleventh Hour at a glorious 10:30am and decided to treat myself to a movie. After all, I had worked that day; I just had the entire day left to slack off, guilt free. So I wandered in to an early showing of Danny Boyle's new film, Slumdog Millionaire. And walked out charged with energy.

It's not often a film moves me. I think most movies these days are either effects heavy shells of a story, or course, teenage boy humor. Slumdog is one of the most hauntingly beautiful films I've ever seen. It's centered around a boy, Jamal, who gets onto the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and, remarkably, seems to know every question he's asked. More remarkable, is that Jamal is not any boy, but a humble, uneducated street kid, a so-called slumdog. Instantly, he is accused of cheating.

The film is told in fashback. We bounce back from the quiz show to Jamal's early childhood and discover how specific events shaped him and his knowledge. It's a simple device, but it works. I was drawn in instantly by the sheer honesty of the performances from a cast of young kids who are too young to have much, if any, acting experience. I am reminded of why I do what I do, when I see films like this. I'm also ashamed when I watch a 5 year old kid deliver a performace that is better than anything I could put out.

Slumdog is more than a poor-kid-makes-good tale. It's an extraordinary story of enduring love and the rights of passage. How the smallest choices affect our lives. It's an unflinching portrayal of extreme poverty and at the same time disarmingly funny. Beautifully shot, with a thumping soundtrack and characters you can't take your eyes off. So what if I was being played at times - I was happy to go along for the ride. And you will be too.

Go see it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Driven Round the Bend

I was on my way to Simi Valley (who isn't, these days), when my car started making very strange noises. Grinding noises. Metal on metal noises. It sounded like the vehicle was in pain. Excruciating pain. I limped along, as the car lost power and barely made it my destination.

After a rewarding trip to the garage, I was told I needed a new transmission mount. I believed the mechanic, as he showed me the black gunky rubber thing (the mount) was looking particularly gunky and degraded. There was barely anything left. Leaving trusty mechanic Simon to the task, I ventured off on my bike for a long coffee, only to be informed I also needed new engine mounts. Seeing as I had been told as much before, I bit the bullet and gave him the go-ahead.

I know car repairs aren't cheap, but I was a little excited by Simon's initial quote of $100. Sadly, it was not to be and the grand total soared dangerously close to the value of my entire vehicle - which isn't very much but still stings. As I drove away, thinking the car felt much the same, I felt as if I had paid good money for a beating.

Perhaps I should have anticipated that when I took my car to S&M...

And perhaps this car story, like the car itself, is getting old.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beards and Beds - Part III

In what I hope to be the conclusion to a rather dull series of posts, I offer you this snap of me from recent flick, Bone Deep. (Note the nasty looking tats) Yes there is a beard. No, the bed is not in the picture. Actually, things have improved and I seem to be sleeping better on the "Hollywood". However, that may be due to a tiring day on set and not the sudden improvement of aforementioned sleep apparatus.

That is all I have to share. Commenting on my lack of scintillating subject matter merely gives the illusion of juicy content and an extra paragraph can only improve upon a mere 3 line blog entry.

Or not. See how easily I added a third paragraph - almost without you noticing. Alright, that's really it. I may have bumped my head yesterday. I'm not making sense to myself, which means anyone else may quite possibly be reduced to a gibbering monosyllabic mantra by the time they're done reading this---------

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beards and Beds - Part II

After finally getting clearance from the movie, I was given the go-ahead to shave off my beard, which I promptly did. Hooray. Then discovered the director of a recent TV audition wanted me to keep it. Too late, she cried. I was promptly instructed to grow it back, but 3 weeks' growth cannot be compressed into a few days. Nevertheless, I scored the gig, a guest role on Eleventh Hour starring Rufus Sewell. Caught a couple episodes and it's a great new series. Kinda like the X-Files meets House, but without the supernatural element. Rufus plays a scientific advisor to the FBI and is minded by a female agent, played by Marley Shelton. The two of them do feel rather Mulder and Scully and each show's medical case demands brilliant out-the-box thinking to solve.

On the bed side of things (I sleep on the left), I ordered my new mattress, aptly named Hollywood. I kid you not. Like its namesake, it performed well opening weekend and then fell off the charts. I dunno what happened. After a couple nights of long forgotten rest, I awoke to the same, and now increasing, back pain. Great. That'll teach me for buying a budget bed. Bollocks. Now I'm gonna have to cough up for my 3rd mattress this year, plus more chiro. That's seriously messed up.

I was hoping the beard and bed might be related. IE: shaving the beard = improved sleep. But no dice. Two things that cheered me up, however (aside from the TV gig) - I got to voice a role in the new Terminator game and autumn has finally arrived in LA. Which means cooler temps and a warm sun hanging low in the sky. Which always makes me feel good. We actually feel a change of season after nearly 9 months of blissfully hot (read: unbearably boring) summer. I know, I'm blessed to be living in California, but I wasn't built for desert climes. It's those English genes, you see. Nothing nicer than a brisk walk in the brisk air.

Well, maybe a brisk walk in the brisk air with a beautiful woman.

Oh yeah - and a single malt.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

What a momentous day for America and the world. I stood in a packed bar last night and watched with bated breath, hardly daring to believe that Obama might take it. In my heart of hearts I hoped, but didn't want to utter my confidence in him, lest it jinx his chances. Remarkably, and perhaps predictably, he won, making history.

I couldn't help but feel a little pride. I'm not eligible to vote yet, but I experienced the same hope, anxiety and ultimate elation as those supporters in the bar with me. Fellow South Africans, Brendan and Lee-Anne were there and the significance wasn't lost on us: we witnessed the rise of South Africa's first black president and now, 14 years later, were thousands of miles away, watching the acceptance speech of the USA's first African American president elect.

Obama's words brought tears to my eyes. It was the stuff of legend, as powerful as the great orators of the past - King, Kennedy, Churchill. I thought, for the first time, how those great American flags that dotted the 100,000 strong crowd in Chicago, could once again be a symbol of promise, hope and pride. Something to believe in.

People often ask me, as a foreigner, how I find it here. Right now, I must admit that it's a wonderful, exciting country to live in. Sure, it has it's problems and numerous challenges. The next few years could be the hardest any of us have lived through. But who better to unite a country and lead us towards a brighter future.

To new beginnings and daring to dream...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beards and Beds

I have only one of each. But that's clearly one too many.

After waking up with a stiff back for months, I finally decided I should visit the chiropractor. I did consider a trip in June, but the thought of spending hundreds of $$$ put paid to that idea. More accurately, it was put to bed. My bed. My fancy 8-month old pillow-top bed. I had a suspicion that it was too soft and now it's confirmed. For the best part of a year I've been buggering up my back. Fabulous. I have to buy a new mattress. I suppose I could have replaced the mattress myself, avoided the chiro and saved myself 50%.

On a lighter note (that damn mattress takes 2 to tango), I am still with beard. I realize "with beard" is not quite the same as "with child", but it has a couple of similarities. Firstly, everyone can see it and secondly, everyone feels compelled to say something.

"Ooh, you need a shave" (yup)
"What's that for?" (my face? christmas? your mom?)
"Beards are stupid" (yes, i suppose they are)

The hair is for the movie I just wrapped, of course and I'm waiting for clearance. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep it looking neat, but it's still a little scraggly. I'm just not a hairy kinda guy. I'm also compelled to toy with the damn thing. I catch myself stroking it like a little puppy. Once in a while I even feed it. (Though not intentionally) A friend said I looked like a mountain man when he saw me. Thing is, I don't have any mountain man gear. No flannel shirt. No dungarees. No axe.

My beard isn't even a decent disguise. Only yesterday, a woman said I looked like Denis Leary. I've never seen Denis with a beard, but I guess if he had one, he'd look like me. On the upside, she did day I was better looking. Take that, Mr Leary.

Well, I'd better be off. Have an audition to prep - crazy guy who thinks he's turning into a monster. And after that, it's a choice between Neil from Leeds Mattress and "you're killing me, Larry". I might go for Neil. Larry seems like a violent guy. I could probably take him, but what with the cumbersome beard and bad back...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Terrible Twins

They were smart and snappy.

They rode a shiny bike.

They rode it together.

They rode it with pride.

Were they twins?

Who can say?

Were they terrible?

We'll never know.

All we can say is that they were black and white and sitting 'real close'.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Keep Smiling Just Don't Let Me Catch You

I like order. Without order, there is chaos. I firmly believe that. It doesn't mean I enjoy setting rules and forcing others to abide by them. (Though I can't abide those that don't) I simply feel - no, KNOW, that my life runs smoother when I have an ordered system in place. Call me anal. You won't be the first.

So I had a good chuckle last week, when faced with this sign: Stop. (Just don't stop.) Ridiculous. You'd think someone would realize the absurdity of a sign telling you to do something that is clearly in direct conflict with another. It's like those wonderful (no) parking signs around LA, which prohibit parking during certain times without a permit. Then there's another sign which limits your stay during the times you don't need a permit. And yet another another sign which prevents you from parking at ANY time.

Now I understand that the Traffic Department can change it's mind. What I can't understand is why Joe Maintenance Man leaves all the previous signs up, when he posts the new one that makes them all redundant!

Speaking of rule compliance, why is it that the police (and traffic police) don't have to abide by the very rules they enforce? This week I watched a patrol car narrowly avoid running over a cyclist, because the officer was pulling forward and attempting to make a right turn from the left lane AND while the light was red. No siren, no flashing lights. Just one nearly dead cyclist.

Regularly I see cop cars parked at expired meters outside coffee shops, while parking police park in the red or (my pet peeve), turn randomly without signalling. I want to print my own traffic tickets and issue them to cops. That'll teach them. Naturally, I'll be on my bike in order to make a swift and sneaky getaway.

Unless I get run down by a cop, of course.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dogs And Cats Living Together

I've been wondering how the credit crunch is going to affect things on the ground. I'm not retiring anytime soon and I'd be lying if I said I had big investments to worry about. So, what changes can I expect in my life?

Well, if the State Treasurer is to be believed, a great many. Apparently, in addition to being $1b in debt for the first quarter of this fiscal year, California will run out of cash on the 29th. That's right. In less than 3 weeks, the State will lose the ability to pay its bills. As I understand it, that means all State-run agencies will cease to function, either immediately or within weeks. No public transport (like there is any), no trash removal, no cops, no nurses, no water, no electricity, no traffic lights, no elevators. As Bill Murray put it in Ghostbusters: "dogs and cats living together".

On the upside, there won't be any parking cops, either. That means I can park anywhere and ignore the meter. Woohoo! Who cares if I can't bathe and have to climb 8 flights to see my agent? I can park in the loading zone all day and no-one can stop me.

Sure, there'll be gunfights in the street, robberies on horseback, Rodeo Drive will burn and I'll be knee deep in sewage. But I'll be happy. Like Cool Hand Luke, I'll be smiling...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Real Doppelganger

After a couple of close calls, I'm happy to report I booked a role on the new Matt Dillon feature, Bone Deep and was glad to see they managed to book Reuben Langdon as my stunt double. Reuben doubled me on 24 and it's clear (clearly scary?) we could have been separated at birth.

Aside from being a stuntman and video game developer, Reuben's a talented actor/martial artist/voice artist in his own right. In fact, I'm trying desperately not to mess up, as they could easily have Reuben replace me altogether!

So long story short, I am working and I have another double to add to my growing collection. Which means that (ahem) "project in development" is now about 4 brothers, not 3. Must sign off now, as I need to call Willem and Denis before the end of the day.

New York's 3hrs ahead, you know...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Down With an Abscess

That's what the very tanned backpacker said to her friend as I passed by. I assume she meant a fellow traveller, laid low from incessant walking and sporadic bathing. I was only feet away, when she followed up with "that looks like Denis Leary!"

It's not the first time I've heard that. And no - I don't mean the abscess bit. Yes, I bear a resemblance to actor Denis Leary. That's the one I get more often than not. Once in a while I get a "Willem Dafoe" and so, it would appear, does Denis Leary. I recently caught an episode of Rescue Me, in which Denis' character is offended to be told he looks like Willem Dafoe. Hahaha.

Maybe there's a project for all 3 of us. Where we're long lost siblings or different versions of the same man in different dimensions. Or genetically engineered clones. Or maybe not.

When I first arrived in LA, I ordered a coffee. Here follows the exchange:

Barista Guy (after a long beat): Are you him?

Gideon (after an equally long beat): I'm sorry. What?

Barista Guy: Are you HIM?

(Gideon smiles and shakes his head, getting uncomfortable)

Barista Guy: Are you.... Brian Adams?

Yup, that's what he said. I was a little taken aback. Don't get me wrong, Bryan's a talented guy. But he's pushing fifty. I'm not. Just yet. Lemme enjoy my thirties a little bit! It's as bad as my half brother, Matthew, who wished me a happy 46th birthday this year. And he wasn't kidding. Geez! Thanks for stealing a decade, pal. And that's family!

But if anyone knows Denis or Willem, feel free to tell them their doppelganger's waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All Aboard as Train gets a Premiere!

Horror movie Train finally pulls into the station - the Graumann's Mann Chinese station, that is. Next month on October 16th, the blood will be spilled at ScreamfestLA, which, as you might correctly guess, is not a festival of romantic comedies.

In Train, a college wrestling team travelling abroad unwittingly boards the wrong train. A train that will take them any destination but safely home. I play the role of Willy, who within minutes, wishes he'd stayed on the platform. I have to admit that I was quite appalled by some of the gore while we were shooting. Yes, I knew I was making a horror and I had read the script. But the extent and graphic nature of the violence seemed unprecedented. If Hostel stepped over the line, then Train plows right through it.

It's a premiere, but no invite-only giftbag garbage. Just popcorn and Pepsi. (Sadly Mann's doesn't do Coke) So, if you like a little flesh and blood for dinner, be sure to book tickets soon, as they're bound to go quickly. Then head on over to Graumann's at 9pm on Thursday 16 October.

I'll be the one crouching in the back with the baseball cap pulled low...

(By the way, if you really want to milk the train experience, you could always catch the subway to Hollywood and Highland - and Graumann's mere steps away)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You Looked Better on MySpace

And who doesn't, right?

Well, me for one. I am one of only 26 humans who is not on MySpace. Neither am I on Facebook anymore, after tiring of downloading a new application every time someone sent me a message - only to discover that it's a blanket message, that I've been "bitten by a zombie" or been given a picture of a gift?!

Much happier here in blogland, where I can drop a line to everyone (and no-one) if and when the impulse strikes. Today, I was cruising through some photos and spotted this gem - clearly a Banksy or Banksy rip-off. Either way, thoroughly amusing. I took the snap last year somewhere in LA. Don't recall the location.

If only taggers were more creative, instead of scrawling gibberish that only they can understand. I'm sure they consider their skills somewhat artistic. I wish they could raise the bar a little. One of the more recent "street exhibits" I saw, was a murky white scrawl across the windows of Doughboys on Highland. Day after day, I would drive past and day after day, the writing remained. It appeared to have been drawn in glue and was clearly (sorry) indelible. A few weeks later, Doughboys closed down.

Were the taggers responsible? Were they demanding ransom in exchange for their top secret tag-removal solvent? Who knows? But within days, another, almost identical place had opened up. Same tables. Same chairs. Same food? Hopefully not.

As some of you may recall, the breakfast Doughboys served me... How shall I put it? Oh, why not? It sucked eggs.

Maybe taggers aren't all bad...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Greetings from Jersey

I spent the actual moment of my birthday - the stroke of midnight on the 12th - on the New York subway, travelling from the airport to my hotel. Only long enough to dump the bag and walk with buddy Ron towards Ground Zero, where 2 enormous beams of light cut paths into the night sky. An eery memorial to what were once the twin towers.

Ron and I were in town for the release of Greetings from the Shore, a film we both were in. Later that day in driving rain, we struggled out of the city to New Jersey and hopped between movie theatres to do poster signings. In the photo, from left to right is Ron Geren, Lars Arentz-Hansen, me and star Kim Shaw. Only Kim is on the poster and I would occasionally have to admit not being the guy on the left, while Lars had some young kids say that he'd lost a bit of weight since the poster shoot (thinking he was the guy on the right!) Sorry, but Paul Sorvino was not at the table that night.

It was good to see the old crowd again. Indeed, we hadn't all been together since the filming, and it was good to catch up with director Greg Chwerchak and writer/producer Gabrielle Berberich.

"Greetings" is showing in the East coast for the rest of the week. Check it out if you get the chance. It's a great little coming-of-age indie and the lead, Kim Shaw, in her first movie role, is definitely one to look out for.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Love Winter

As Paris Hilton might say, "Summer is so hot!"

It's been unbearably, some might say unconstitutionally hot this year. And I'm over it. It was fun for perhaps a week, but that's it. I was bred for colder climes and my DNA simply cannot stand long and steamy days. Don't get me wrong - steamy can be good. Just not the solitary steamy kind of day, which saps one's energy before one's even left the house.

The heat aside, I've had a few interesting auditions. What do you wear as an Angel? You can't very well wear jeans. Nor can you wear a simple white shirt, as what pants do you put on? Black pants will make you look like a waiter and anything else just looks casual. And casual just isn't angelic.

What did I wear? A bathrobe. Yes, folks, a plush white bathrobe and flipflops. Pretty darn sneaky I thought. Until I stepped out of the car and worked up a rich and rewarding sweatiness. Nothing like a rosy cheeked glow for your audition. The casting director even decided to take a photo of "the first time anyone's come to see me in a bathrobe". Wonderful. Scratch that one.

Otherwise, I've read for a bank robber (role), a janitor and a house of horror host. I'm hoping one of these things will pan out. If not, I'll be off to New Jersey next week for Greetings From the Shore, the award-winning coming-of-age indie which opens on the East coast. I play one of a group of foreign busboys who provide the menace and, ultimately, romance for this postcard to summer holidays. Check out more details HERE

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thanks for the Calls!

Thanks to those of you who called in or just hung out during the interview the other evening. It was great getting to chat to some of you and I ended up laughing a great deal more than I have in a while. So thanks for that! Sorry to those of you who either couldn't or wouldn't get through. Still good to know you were there in spirit.

Not much to report from this end, except the usual bizarre variety of auditions - namely a Russian gangster, an Aussie experiment subject, an Icelandic businessman and an Angel. I'm thinking of playing the Angel in my own accent. (If I can remember what that is)

There have been requests for more photos, so here is a snap of me goofing around on set for upcoming horror movie Train. Yes, even with blood streaming down my face, I'm ready for the another round.

Or at least another take...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's a Live Interview!

I know some of you ask me questions, which remain largely rhetorical.

Well that's all about to change.

Today you (both of you) can ask away, as I have a live interview on Moonlight Buzzwire, an internet radio station devoted entirely to the show Moonlight. They asked me to call in and talk about my experiences on the show and, well, whatever else I have to talk about. I did one for their sister station Moonlight Radio and was actually good fun.

The show starts at 8pm Pacific time (EDIT) and runs anywhere from 1-2 hrs. Plenty of time for you to find out that my favorite color is black. Or red. And while I drink a boatload of coffee, I do enjoy the occasional cup of Earl Grey. (Woops) We might even play a Giddy song or too. You never know.

The call-in number is (347) 996-3386.

Please don't leave me alone again...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back from the Dead on Monday

Dear old Vlad the Impaler returns from the grave to terrorize small-town USA in this week's episode of The Middleman. Each week, the entrepid team of Wendy Watson and Middleman battle "alien evils for the world's most ludicrously secret organization". As you might have guessed, the Middleman's tongue is firmly in-cheek, which makes for splendidly silly capers and delightfully daft villains.

This week's episode, The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation, has the team after a pair of possessed puppets. If you've always wanted to see me in puppet form (and, to be fair, who hasn't?), be sure to tune in this Monday night at 10pm on the Family channel. Alternatively, you can watch episodes online at ABC FAMILY. Just click SHOWS and go from there.

In other news, I was flattered to discover a fan video online, with clips of numerous projects I've worked on in the States, set to some edgy German industrial music. If you wanna catch Dhampir Vampire's handiwork, check it out HERE.

It's pretty darn cool, even if I say so myself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

So I was taking a stroll the other day and noticed a new sign near my apartment building. Ah, that's handy. Now I know where to lurk if I'm looking for drugs!

One must assume however, that the sign is intended as a deterrant. But, seeing as the druggie hotspot is a mere 20 yards from a police station, I find it highly unlikely that it's gonna do anything. Except generate new business. If the local cops can't get it together to arrest the criminals outside their front door, I'm sure that a sign will do the trick.

I shouldn't really expect more of my local cops. There's been a severed electric cable dangling over the sidewalk not 50 yards from their office and that took 2 weeks for them to notice. Not to repair, mind you, or tuck out of the way of the general public. Nope, all they managed was to wrap a length of yellow tape around it. Super. That'll stop us from getting fried.

In the meantime, I hear the guys are holding a collection for the druggies' new TV ad. Come on now, pony up...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Undead are Cool

Really, they are. Especially when they're possessing hand crafted wooden dolls. Yup, I did my ADR session for ABC's The Middleman this morning and have to say I'm pretty excited to see this show. It may be on the family channel, but we played with some scary voices for my little character, appropriately named "Little Vladdy".

There's nothing like having the freedom to 'go there' with a character. Like Balthier, this guy can be charming and confident. Unlike Balthier, he has a rather strong murderous bent. Too much fun.

The Middleman airs Mondays at 10pm on ABC Family. My episode's in a fortnight, August 18th and titled, rather splendidly, The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation.

I'm not sure if it's we or the vampires who should lament, but I certainly feel a tinge of sadness at my ordinary teeth.

Incisor envy can be ugly...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Monsters and Mondays

I've always been fascinated by 'other worldly' things. When I was a kid I had a treasured book on the occult that I would leaf through until it was bedtime, at which time I would have to hide the book, as its cover was a bloody-eyed skull. Years ago, I pressed PAUSE on the VCR during the film Witchboard - not for the Tawny Kitaen naked-in-the-shower scene, but for a great shot of the ouija board. So I could draw my own (they didn't sell them in Africa).

I made my own talismans on velum and carried them in a small handmade (by me) leather pouch. And when my mother flushed my dead and dying seamonkeys down the loo, I secretly hoped they would morph into giant, disfigured sewer-dwelling hybrids. (Like the Prius: cheap at the pump, but hideous to look at)

So it was with relish that I learned in a news report of the Montauk Monster. A hideous, hairless dog-like thing with a beak that washed ashore some days ago. They didn't say where Montauk was. Apparently Montauk is as American as Mickey Mouse. Well I've lived here for over 4 years and have never heard of Montauk. It sounds like a TV show; Montauk with Larry King. Sorry. It does. Just a hint to you Fox news writers - if you don't identify the region Montauk is in and your only soundbite is from an Australian surfer, some people (ie: me) might draw the conclusion that Montauk is in AUSTRALIA.

Further investigation proved that Montauk is, in fact, in Long Island, New York. Wonderful. I'll be sure to visit. The annoying thing about this story (apart from Montauk, the mere sound of which is becoming irritating) is twofold - firstly, only one eyewitness could be tracked down. Plenty of "experts" but only one eyewitness. What happened to the other surfers? Were they eaten? And secondly, why is there only one measly shot of the creature? Geez, there are more photos of Big Foot! It's obviously fake. If I saw a strange creature in front of me, I'd keep pressing the button until the camera was full. And that's if the thing was charging after me. This thing was lying very still because IT WAS DEAD!!! And there's only one photo of it?

More realistic by far was when a crazed warthog attacked me and I had to fend it off with a steak knife (not the best tool for the job). I had to stab and slash its stomach and head repeatedly, before I managed to free my left hand. Sure it was a dream, but it was more scary and convincing than (gag) the Montauk Monster. More scary still is the fact the weekend is nearly over and something even more terrifying awaits.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rock n Roll

"Are you okay?" asked Josh on the telephone. "Uh...yeah..?" I replied, oblivious to the fact I had just lived through my first earthquake. I swiftly turned on the TV to learn that a 5.4 quake had rocked (or more accurately, gently shook) Los Angeles about an hour earlier. I felt disappointed I had missed out. Then I thought back...

At 11H45 I was in my car, driving back home from a meeting and stopped at a traffic light. I had just picked up my car, which hadn't been driven for a couple weeks, so was happy it started after a few attempts. As the car idled, I felt as if I had been rear-ended and quickly looked up in the rear view mirror, but the car behind was a good few feet away. My car felt like it did a roll from left to right, almost as if someone had given it a firm push with their hands. I figured it must have been a strong gust of wind. The light went green and I moved on and forgot about it until Josh's call.

Well, glad it wasn't serious and that, as reports indicate, there were no casualties and little damage. Had I been on my bike, however, I would probably have wobbled, fallen over and embarrassed myself (more than usual). It does bring home the fact that I do live in an earthquake zone and should probably get myself an emergency kit should a real quake hit.

The real upside (for me, at least) is that, minutes later, I got an audition, followed by another 2 castings. Nothing like a quake to shake up an otherwise quiet week!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Dentist thinks I'm Rugged

So life can't be all bad.

I managed to chip a front tooth a few days ago. Not in a barroom brawl. Not in a spectacular wipeout on my bike. But biting a nail. (I do not bite my thumb at you, Sir, but I do bite my thumb)


Anyway, being that my body is my product, I swiftly arranged a session to assess damage and effect repair. The dentist informed me that 'replacing' the chip would require further tooth removal to provide space for the foundation and was thus ill-advised. A simpler procedure is to sand down the jagged edge - with an exceptionally small sandpaper disc attached to a very large sounding motor. Quite a tool. In artistic hands, one could whittle delicate wooden ornaments for friends and family. In my own hands, I could probably remove a cranium.

My own.

Fortunately, the good dentist had good skill and I am left with a smoothed-off tooth that looks little different from how it was before my digit nibbling fiasco. After the 15 second 'operation', I felt compelled to express why I wanted my teeth to look decent, reminding him that I'm an actor. To which my dentist replied: "Ah, but you've got character. You look rugged!"

I allowed myself a little smile. Yes, indeed. I have got character.

And more than that.

I am rugged!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy 90th, Madiba!

One of the most extraordinary figures in living memory, former South African president Nelson Mandela turned 90 today. He was instrumental in ending apartheid and the country's peaceful transition to a democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Few can fail to be humbled by the legacy of a man who could spend 27 years in prison and emerge without bitterness or anger, but the desire to unite a country and create the so-called "rainbow nation".

Since he left active politics, Mandela's successor Mbeki has failed to instill the same confidence. His silence on the issue of Zimbabwe and notorious failure to acknowledge the link between HIV and Aids, has set the country back a few steps. Potential investors can hardly be encouraged by the possibility of government sanctioned violent land grabs and a health minister advocating a diet of beetroot to cure Aids.

But while things may have slipped a little, there is no doubt that Mandela's wisdom and insight helped move South Africa into a positive new age. A move that had reverberations across the globe. Since leaving the political arena, he has remained active in his Aids charity, work towards ending poverty and his Nelson Mandela Foundation. He has touched the lives of millions through his example and ensuring a better land in which its children may grow up. And, at the ripe old age of 90, the great man's intellect, humour and charm are as keen as ever.

At the 6th Annual Nelson Mandela Address, he joked in his typical deadpan fashion:

"We have, for years, remarked about people coming to such events primarily to see what an old man looks like. To see a 90 year old in real life must surely be an irresistable temptation."

Irresistable indeed. But for a thousand more reasons.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not the Captain

So I spent a day shooting my scene for The Middleman. (The rest of the role being the voice-over for my puppet alter ego) I must report that, while everyone was nice, I felt like a shmuck. Why? Well, firstly, because I looked like the guy from the Captain Morgan ad. Like 15th Century explorer Jan van Riebeeck. Like a performer on the Walk of Fame. And secondly, because I think my puppet version was better on the day. It was consistent, took direction well, hit it's mark every time and never got tired.

I, on the other hand, was just wooden.

And I nearly ate my moustache.


Oh, wait. I was also creepy.

Wooden and creepy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hold on... I think I got it

I was put on hold again for the 3rd time in 2 months and can report I did in fact book this gig. Hooray. Working on a new show called The Middleman in a largely off-camera role. I am playing, wait for it, a puppet. But not any puppet, mind you. An demonically possessed ventriloquist's dummy.

Thankfully I won't be made up to look like a puppet, nor will I be wearing a puppet suit. I will merely be providing the puppet's creepy voice. That is, until the puppet goes POOF and turns into the very creepy person possessing it - me. So, I can scratch off another creepy role. This time I even have a creepy moustache and creepy hair. (Though, on someone else, I'm sure the moustache would look just fine)

At my warddrobe and make-up test the other day, I discovered that my look had to match the wooden dummy's.

Hopefully my performance won't...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Have you ever been arrested?

This afternoon, I was driving between auditions and was searching for a parking spot near Beverly Drive. The street itself was packed as usual, with all the meters except the odd "15min only" space available. (Insufficent for a commerical audition, which can take anything up to an hour or more) So I drove on and around the block and decided to cross over Beverly on Pico. I crossed over the lights in the inside lane, then spotted a shopping center. Ah, parking!

I indicated my intention to turn right, but as I slowed near the entrance, saw that it was only for Pavilions and, rather than risk getting towed, drove past the entrance, so as not to block it. I then stopped and indicated left to join the traffic again. (I was now caught behind a parked car) When the lane was free, I pulled out and almost immediately a cop car flashed me and pulled me over. Here follows the exchange:

COP: License and registration please.

GID: (handing them over) What's the problem, officer?

: You did a U-turn.

GID: I didn't.

COP: You pulled into the parking lot and then performed a U-turn. That's illegal.

GID: But I didn't do a U-turn.

COP: If you travel in an Easterly direction and then turn and travel West, that's a U-turn.

GID: (dumbfounded) But I was never travelling East. I was travelling West the whole time. I crossed over the lights in the inside lane and indicated to turn into the parking. When I saw it was for Pavilions only, I decided not to park there and simply continued past the entrance, so as not to block it. Then I indicated to rejoin the traffic. I waited until it was clear and then pulled out.

COP: (unamused) But you turned into the parking. I saw you had to back up.

GID: (thinking he's in the Twilight zone) I'm sorry but I never turned into the parking. I never engaged the reverse gear. I was in a straight line the whole time.

COP: Maybe I'm seeing things, but I saw you make a U-turn. If you turn into a parking and then turn around and come out again, that's a U-turn.

GID: I understand what you're saying, but I didn't turn into the parking. I was in the same lane the whole time.

COP: Where are you going?

GID: I'm going to a casting on Beverly.

COP: A what?

GID: An audition. At 332 South Beverly.

COP: Where are you coming from?

GID: From another audition in Culver City. Uh.. (checking his diary)..8660 Hayden Place.

COP: Have you ever been arrested?

GID: (blinking in disbelief) No...

COP: (after a beat) Alright... I'm gonna let you go this time. Just back up. Go to your audition.

And the cop walks away. Surreal? Absolutely! This dude was seeing things. Either that, or a similar car actually did pull into the parking shortly before I pulled past and he thought it was the same car. But wow - nothing like a brush with LAPD to make you feel like a smoke. Geez.

I drove to the letter of the law and he makes it sound like he's doing me a favor by not giving me a citation! (Hey- maybe they feel sorry for no-name actors, seeing as the LAPD have their own star on the walk of fame - see pic) Thank heavens he didn't. I know that an illegal U-turn costs you in the region of $500 for the offense, followed by mandatory traffic school (at a fee), plus another $100 to the traffic department for the luxury of attending.

So, a lucky escape, I suppose. But I can't help feeling a little like some creepy guy in a bar touched my privates and then said "I won't press charges...this time."

And, as you all know by now, I'm the one who likes to be creepy.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Don't be a Bozo, Bozo

That's what my Mum used to say to me, when I said or did something daft. My ex also called Bozo on more than one occasion. Bozo, of course, was a famous clown. Truly world famous, as I had heard of him in South Africa, a long way away from the land of his birth, the USA.

Reading my LA Times, I discovered that Bozo was born in 1946 as a character for Capitol Records, voiced by Vance "Pinto" Colvig, the voice of Goofy. Later the clown appeared in person to promote the records and one Larry Harmon booked the gig. In time, he bought the rights to the character and spent the next 50 years spreading the word of Bozo, up until his death Thursday at the age of 83.

Harmon apparently trained over 200 Bozos for TV, including weatherman Johnny Mountain (who I've always considered a bit of a Bozo). His production company created animated cartoons with Bozo, Popeye, Mr Magoo and Dick Tracy. He also acquired the rights to Laurel and Hardy, but will be remembered most for, well, for being a Bozo. The heart and soul of what was once, according to a Harris poll, the world's most famous clown.

Hats off to you, Larry. Long live the Bozo!

Friday, June 27, 2008

George Lucas Paid My Rent

It's not every day one gets to say that. I received a check in the mail yesterday for some recent voice work for a Star Wars series and it was almost exactly the amount of my rent. Seeing as I will be using it for the rent, I figured I can say that George Lucas will, in fact, pay my rent for July. Pretty cool.

On a side note, I haven't heard anything from my latest creep casting (with me being the creep - not the casting person). I figure I have creepy down to a fine art now, so I don't think I was lacking in that department. In fact, I fear I may be a little too creepy. This character is supposed to be a normal, regular guy until the reveal later in the show that he's a predator. It's possible I may have been too creepy. The wrong kind of creepy (is there a right kind?). Creepy-from-the-moment-I-walked-in-the-room kind of creepy.

Of course, my creep factor (or CF, as I like to call it) may be off the charts. If Barack Obama has a CF of 1 (very low), Steve Buscemi is probably a 9. I'm an 11. And it's not just in the casting office. On my best days, I don't think I get any lower than a 6 on the CF - and that's still pretty darn creepy for your local Starbucks. I may be stuck playing creeps for life. My CF is too high for most cable shows, and definitely eliminates me from anything on daytime TV. I'm not safe off-camera, either. My last voice booking was playing a creep!

Well, I better run. Thanks, George, for paying the rent. I gotta run out to the hardware store now. I need an extension cord for my voice booth and a couple tools to try fix my faulty CF.

It's stuck in the ON position...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Sausage for the Creep

Well I just heard that I didn't get my sausage. I have been released from my hold and am free to roam about the cabin. Bit of a let down, but then again - the role was described as a "spiritual person", not a seedy lowlife. Tomorrow, however, I have a casting for a "wiry creep in his 30s".

I don't wanna upset any fellow actors here, but don't bother showing up guys. This one's mine.

Step aside, Buscemi. Watch your back, Bacon.

There's a new creep in town...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please Hold

After doing this acting thing professionally (and exclusively) for nearly 15 years, I have become very good at forgetting about auditions as I leave the room. It is the only way to retain some shred of sanity in a career where one fails to book the job more often than not. Besides, there are so many other factors that determine whether or not one is successful - such as one's height, weight, hair and previous credits and how those might affect the producers, director, casting assistant or other cast. One can't take it personally, because it isn't personal. So there's no point losing sleep over it. I aim to go in, enjoy myself, be friendly, leave and forget.

This is all fine and good, until one gets a callback. Then you start to invest a little. You can't really help yourself. It's validation that you have the goods and gives you greater confidence in the room. Of course, that can mess you up. Maybe the very reason they brought you back was for your carefree delivery. Start caring and you might blow it. Well, I've learned not to care about callbacks, too, because there are still other actors on that list. All I can do is be the best "me" and hope that me is what they're looking for. And then forget about it. (Because you never ever hear that "you were good, but...". You simply either get the call to say you booked the job, or you never hear anything)

So I can forget about auditions and I can forget about callbacks. But I can't forget about "on holds". That's why I'm writing about them right now! I am currently on hold for a TV guest role. What does that mean? Well, I'm in the running. It's somewhere between "callback" and "cast". Probably, there are 1 or 2 others they're considering. Or maybe it's just me. They just haven't decided yet, because they have other priorities. But, in the meantime, we are "on hold" for a period when, strictly speaking, we cannot take any other work.

I don't enjoy being on hold. When I get the call, I do allow myself a little "yeah!", and then feel a little depressed. Because it's not real. It's like being told you might win the lottery next week. It's down to a couple people - you're one of them - and you probably won't know until after the draw date. Now try not to think about the lottery.

Difficult, right?

So, I am on hold from tomorrow until July 7th. I'd like to rejoice in having work, but it doesn't exist yet and I still don't know. I was on hold for a 3 week period last month for a movie. Then, the day before the shoot was due to start, they released me from my hold. Great. I can't even get angry that I cleared my schedule for no reason as, well, it was already clear, okay? Hey, it's been a tough year for the industry.

The real hold, of course, is psychological. It's got a hold of my brain. I want to get excited but I'm not allowed to, yet. I am the poor dog, whose owner is waving a sausage over its nose, juuuust out of reach. I might get the sausage. I might not. It's out of my hands.

All I can do is sit, salivating, hoping that my owner has a heart...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lip Smacker Loses Mouth in Coffee Shop Brawl

In an effort to escape the incessant heat in California, I have fled to the air conditioned sanctuary of my local Starbucks. Unfortunately, most of the clientele must be deaf, as the music blasts at such levels, it's hard to think. Even with my own music blaring through headphones, I can still hear it. What's worse, is it drives poeple to talk over the racket, causing an even greater racket. And it's driving me mad. The loudest of all, ironically, are the staff themselves, who spend more time gossipping than making coffee. That's no doubt why my hot Americano arrived iced.

With a little effort (and progressive loss of hearing), I managed to tune out the caucophony and get writing. But not for long. For in a rare moment of quiet a new sound pierced the caffeinated air - a clicking. Well, more of a smacking. The sound one makes after eating a particularly good piece of pie. I thought I had imagined it, until it came again. And again. I turned around, expecting a small child, but was greeted instead by a 20-something guy in track pants, vest and sweat band. He was reading, but not silently. No, clearly the book was a rare San Bushmen publication, for he continued the smacks, now accompanied by clicks.

I turned and gave a stare. You know the one: that "what the heck, dude, you're not Xhosa!" look. There was silence for a short while, then the smacking picked up again, this time peppering conversation. A phone conversation about his credit level. Real English words this time, interspersed with his own phonetic punctuation (apologies to Victor Borge). Soon there were pops, too. Smacks, clicks and pops. It would be charming if it weren't so bloody irritating. Like a dripping tap. After a while, it doesn't matter if there's silence; you're brain is anxiously waiting for the next painful drip.

I ordered another coffee- "hot please!" - and tried to calm down. When I turned around, the guy had gone. Ah, sweet relief. But too soon! There was a pop-pop-pop to signify his return and then a whistling solo that would have made Roger Whittaker proud. Or not. And as the soaring strains of "Halleluja" wailed around my brain with the whistler-popper-smacker providing tone-deaf harmonies, I shed a tear for the whales, a few short miles away, that would soon beach themselves in protest.

I'll be starting a petition to outlaw clicking, smacking and popping in public. If we don't take action now, people, the movement could grow out of control. Before you know it, poppers and smackers will be driving cars, in the White House, or worse - raising kids!

Vote now, before it's too late!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Boy and the Creep

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and was privy to the following conversation between a creepy fat guy (Creepy Guy) and a skinny young man (Boy). I felt compelled to type it down as fast as I could. Here's just a taste.

I will preface it by saying 2 things only:

1) every word is true.
2) I am not the creep.

CREEPY GUY: Okay. What do you prefer? Drama or comedy?

BOY: Drama.

CREEPY GUY: Okay, good, good. Now what genres do you like?

BOY: Uh...

CREEPY GUY: You know, like action, adventure. What are your top three genres. Take a moment and think about it.
[The Boy takes a moment]

BOY: I like action...

CREEPY GUY: Okay! And horror? You like horror?

BOY: Yeah...

CREEPY GUY: Because a lot of guys start out in horror movies. If we can get you in one of those, you know?

[Creepy scribbles something on his pad, then looks up again]

CREEPY GUY: Do you see yourself as the leading man or more as the supporting character? The sidekick?

BOY: The leading man. I did this FOX promo, where I was the leading man, so I know I can play it. I mean I was like an extra, but they said I could do something more. I was featured playing guitar.

CREEPY GUY: Good, good. Now are you SAG or not?

BOY: No, I’m not. But with the commercial, maybe...

CREEPY GUY: Well let’s check that out. Cos I repped this girl and she got bumped up to a featured role and she got SAG, so you never know. Line producer, second AD, they’re the ones you wanna know. I’m not saying be an asshole. Just be charming. You know Jason? He’s the one with the short hair?

BOY: Oh yeah...

CREEPY GUY: He played a featured role on Samantha Who. He was, uh, he was the groom’s brother. He had to join Central Casting. Once he did that, they called him to be on this WB show. I’ll tell you, you have that fire...

BOY: Hahaha...

CREEPY GUY: No really. Like Jason? He has this game face. But you got the fire. Are you taking acting lessons? You should buy this book, by Jeremiah Covey. It’s called “The Art of Screen Acting”. And you’ve heard of Stanislavski, obviously. He wrote a book, but it’s not that good. Mark Haber wrote a book. Jason went to an audition and they really responded to him. Just from what he learned in that book. This woman I know, she was working in a diner with pineapple earrings and she woke up one day and said “what the hell am I doing here?” And she went to Groundlings and now she’s one of THE biggest voice artists, period. You know Principle Skinner on the Simpsons?

BOY: Yeah...

CREEPY GUY: Well she was the woman, you know the woman. His Mom? Well the woman who goes “Skinner!” That’s her. Every cartoon you hear? That’s her.


Only in Hollywood...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Casting Breakdown

And it really has broken down lately. Nothing like a writers strike followed by an impending SAG strike to kill the year. It's been really quiet so far, though I am grateful to have booked some TV work and a few voices. As you already know, I go in a lot for "creepy", "edgy", "charactery" and most recently "weasely" (I wasn't gutted when I didn't get a call back for that last one - there was some more deserving weasels in the waiting room).

Really, I am happy to have a type if that gets me in the room. Yesterday I went in for an episodic as an equine therapist, with not a "creep" in site! No, the character doesn't psycho-analyze horses, he just uses them to help rehabilitate people. Although that might make for a funny skit - listening intently with pad and pen as a horse lies on a couch sharing it's childhood secrets.

But I digress. Apart from going out for my monthly commercial casting, my agent routinely sends me commercial breakdowns to respond to "only if (I) fit the role". Nowadays, the trend is not to cast actors, but the "real thing". You can no longer play a fireman. You must actually be a real, certified fireman. (Didn't they know I was just an actor when they signed me?)

I thought I would share some of them, as they make me chuckle and might amuse you too. At the very least they'll make you glad you have a real job.

So here they are (no kidding):
1) Email regarding: MERCEDES For the role of: REAL PIT CREW
3) Email regarding: NIKE For the role of: UFC referee
4) Email regarding: CHRYSLER For the role of: REAL WELDERS - must familiar with the machinary mu (I've heard of "welding", but not "mu". Mu? Mu who?)
6) ADVANCED IN SKILL LEVEL in BMXing, ATVing, off-road dirt biking, motorcross

And my personal favorite:
Email regarding: HUGGIES UK For the role of: WOMAN
(Need I say more?)

Well I'm glad my commercial agent's on the ball. If I was any one of these, you could be sure they would know about it - that's what that "SPECIAL SKILLS" bit is for at the bottom of the resume! If I could fashion steel wool into a St Christopher medallion with my tongue, you can be sure that's where I'd list it. And although my chest is coming along thanks to my weight training, I'm pretty sure I don't have breasts. So sorry, Huggies, I won't be playing "New Mom" any time soon.

I know they mean well and hey - it's possible Jared forgot to list the fact he's an award winning swimmer in butterfly and freestyle (I've had that one, too) - but if he can't get his sh*t together, you shouldn't be repping him! Stuff Jared. How about putting me up for "regular guy", "Dad" or "shopkeeper"?

At least send me out for "creepy"...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Golden Moment

After 3 years of sporadic blogging, I've finally reached my 100th post. Hip hip. Typically bland post, I'm afraid, but if I wait for something exciting, I could be waiting months. I will spare you the week and will limit my post to one day - today.

At 8am, I set off to the gym on my bike, feeling fresh and fit on a Saturday morning. As I sped along the Walk of Fame, I hit a pothole and my tail light came bouncing off. I heard it clutter on the sidewalk and immediately brought my bike into a neat brake and turn. However, Hollywood's golden stars were particularly gleaming today, as my tires slipped and the bike slid away, leaving me spread-eagled and face down, as a fairly large crowd of tourists looked on. I leapt to my feet and recovered my light, but had clearly lost all cool points for the month of June (if, in fact, I had any to begin with).

2 hours later, I headed off to a small movie theater on Sunset to watch a screening of a movie I acted in nearly 4 years ago in a foreign country. Finally, this little film would see the light of day and I was looking forward to settling down in an air conditioned room with popcorn and an icy Coke.

I'm not allowed to talk about the film, which is fitting, as I haven't anything to say about the screening, either. When I arrived at the theater, I was informed that the film had not been delivered, and so the one-off screening of this never-quite-finished-film-no-one's-heard-of was a total non-event. So I cannot even report whether or not the movie I can't talk about is any good!

At least I can say I had my moment on the Walk of Fame. I crouched over a star while, for a few seconds, a crowd of onlookers paid rapt attention. Some of them may even have taken photos!

What more could a Hollywood actor ask for?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kitchenboy Moves On

My friend Braam Kruger has passed on. An extraordinary chef, his food drew people to appreciate another great talent; his art. I was introduced to Braam through Nicole, my girlfriend at the time, who was one of his so-called "friend girls". It was a phrase that denoted just that - not a girlfriend, but a friend who happens to be a girl. In spite of this, it was very clear that Braam relished his 'harem' of friendgirls, who, all gorgeous, would be around him at home or out and about. Men were often annoyed by their female companion's attention towards him - what was the appeal? Such was the man's impact.

The first indication you had that this was no mere mortal, was in his appearance. When I met Braam, he was in his late forties, but with his thick beard and greying hair, appeared older. But it was very clear the man did not feel a day over 20. His fashion I would best describe as "Bohemian sixties beachwear pop", encompassing billowy kaftans, smoking jackets, lycra pants and leather slip-ons that tapered to a curly point. He was always the loudest in the room - both vocally and visually. Always with a too incredible story from his recent past, both arrogant and exceedingly charming. The consummate host, whose dinners would go on to the following morning and from which you'd need days to recover.

Braam left an indelible impression on all he met. Whether they were appalled by his brashness, his avant garde appearance or captivated by his aura and converted to a loyal fan. But through my many many visits with him, I felt I never truly knew the man behind the facade. The real Braam, the struggling artist full of massive talent but somehow not fully recognised by his peers? He admitted to me once, in not so many words, that his Kitchenboy persona (his food label) was just a marketing tool, to draw attention to the product(s) he had to sell - his exceptional sauces, his weekly columns in the paper, his commissioned paintings. But it became his life.

I think towards the end, having survived a stroke, Braam realized that the heavy drinking, smoking, partying persona had taken its toll, not only on his health but on his relationships. We grew out of Braam. He was a magical, magnificent phase that we entered, were blown away by and then left, or we were to be trapped in a world that doesn't offer a promising future. His great loves Fairy and Junglegirl both moved on with their lives and, having found love again in Amalanka, it was too late to put on the brakes. He cut back, but it was too late and not enough.

It was tough to see Braam again over Christmas, during a brief visit back to Joburg. We met at a restaurant but, instead of it being a long overdue catchup, he'd invited us to a meal review. And so we had to sprinkle our conversation between the endless back and forth of waiters with 100 dishes, Braam's incessant photos of each platter and compulsion to regail us with the origin, preparation and critique of each dish. This was the Braam for people he'd just met, not the Braam for friends.

I think his doing a review meant it was on safe ground. He didn't have to talk about life and loss, he didn't have to hold up a mirror to something he wasn't comfortable facing - his steady decline. It was a glimpse of the old Braam, shouting over to waiters to tell the chef this and that and delighting in his judgement that he could do better. And maybe it was his way of saying "remember me? I'm still here!" But as he rose, shakily, to his feet to go to the restroom, I saw just how weak he'd become. Braam and Kitchenboy were too intertwined to separate. Killing off Kitchenboy meant killing off Braam, yet they couldn't survive together for long.

I am blessed for having met Braam. He taught me a lot about myself. He made me the most incredible meals I've yet to taste - and one or two stinkers, too. He gave me a great many laughs and as many hangovers the next day. I will miss his voice, his crazy outfits, his painted nails, the jellybeans in the foyer, New Year's in Chinatown with Happy Man prawns, his fabulous nude paintings, his extraordinary home, the Kitschmobile, his loping gate and his wonderful warmth. No-one could accuse the man of not living life to the full. And that is true inspiration.

Hats off to you, Kitchenboy. Thanks for the memories.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cars, Cards and Illiterate Heavies

I really want to move on to a new storyline, but have to share the punchline to my last post. When I collected my car from Fred's cousin, I noticed the check engine light was still on. "Ah yes, we tried to do that," murmured Fred's cousin, shaking his head sadly. I wanted to shake his head for him - violently. My service light needed a service and apparently neither Fred, nor his cousin could reset the damn thing - not for love or 1200 bucks.

Instead of bludgeoning Fred's cousin with a tire iron (for some reason I felt less anger towards Fred), I managed to let the blood drain from my face into my finger tips - that way I could sign the invoice and stagger off to vent in the comfort of my not-quite-fixed yet car.

Cycling would seem a better option and I enjoyed my ride to gym the other day. That is, until I was nearly crushed by a Lincoln town car, with registration 8G59464. The car swerved to the curb without signalling, and without checking its wing mirror. If it had, the driver would have noticed me, on my bike, pedalling away. Thankfully I managed to screech to a halt, nearly falling over in the process. The occupants clearly knew they had hit me, as there was a distinct sound as my handlebars made contact with the side of the car. Also the passenger couldn't fail to miss me, wobbling alongside the rear door, as we both navigated towards the sidewalk.

Evidently, limo drivers are a callous lot - or perhaps this particular chauffeur had been drinking, as he emerged with his passenger, grinning as if he'd won the lottery. The passenger appeared ecstatic! Almost as if "nearly killing a cyclist" ranks somewhere below "spotting Brad and Angelina" and slightly above "that guy from CHiPs".

No rush to help, no apology, not even a cursory wave of the hand to say "hey, I'm sorry, but I was born this way". I don't know who I was more disturbed by - the evil driver or the guy running the tourist stall, who refused to lend me a pen to write down the town car's details, even though he had no customers and a bucket of pens within arm's reach!

When I got to gym, I worked out with a new intensity. Last week, Fred's cousin helped me to 220lb on the bench press, a new personal best. Limo guy got me using the whole stack on the tricep press. Thanks, limo guy. I did notice however, that most free weights, as usual, were in the wrong places. 45lb plates hanging on spots clearly demarcated for the 101b plates. The same with the dumbbells. But only the heavy ones appear out of place. Anything under 30lb is where it should be. It's sad, but clearly the stronger one gets, the weaker one's grammar. Until all one can manage is a grunt. Wait a minute, I've think I've heard one or two of those guys...

Later on and safely back in my car, I shot off to a voice audition and, to be fair, my engine light went off by itself. I felt a wave of calm run over me. I collected some new business cards on the way, which the ever friendly Mario made using my headshot. But rather than crop the image to fit the card's dimensions, he saw fit to stretch the image vertically, thus making me look even more gaunt than I already am. But I resisted the urge to make him swallow them in front of me and drove off again into the future.

All might just be well with my world again. Almost. As I slowed at the traffic lights, I heard a dreadful cry. Others heard it too, as I noticed heads turning. Curiously, they were turning in my direction. Oh dear. Had I run over a cat? Crippled a child?


The sound was coming from my brakes. An excrutiating 15 minutes of squealing later, I was nearly at my audition. I glanced to my right and saw a man gazing out into the traffic from the gas station. He looked peaceful, almost meditative. He also looked like Fred. Which is fitting, seeing as he was, in fact, Fred. I gave him a steely glare and pulled away, but it's doubtful if he caught the look through my tinted windows.

So now I need to do my brakes. And fairly soon. Well not me, of course, but someone. And, as God is my witness, that someone will not be Fred and especially not Fred's cousin. Of that I am certain. Fred's cousin will never again come within fifty feet of my vehicle.

Unless he happens to work his way rapidly from the grille to the under carriage...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cars, Birds and Fred's Cousin

The past 10 days have been interesting and, starved for content, I thought I'd share them with you. First I was on hold for a movie for a supporting role. Great! Three weeks of work in June. Then I was called back to read for one of the leads - fabulous. And on Friday I was told via my agent that I "won't be going any further". (The casting director didn't specify if that meant 'in your career' or if her comments were restricted to this particular job.) Hopefully the latter.

Fresh from my let down, I set out on my bicycle, only to have something thrown at me by a woman on a balcony. I specify gender simply because I like to believe that women are beyond such filthy antics. While I don't think it was intentional, it was nevertheless upsetting, especially when I ran my hand through my hair and discovered the "item" had not only clung to my head, but was in liquid form. Some anonymous woman spat on me.

Yesterday I returned to my bicycle to discover that a bird (quite possibly assisted by a number of brethren) had relieved itself on my helmet. Not an unsightly cue ball splotch on the outside that would be visible to passers by. Oh no. This feathered wretch had deposited its business inside my helmet, so only I would know the nastiness cradling my bothered brain.

For the past 4 days, my left eye has been twitching involuntarily. The later in the day, the more it twitches. At first, it was fairly mild and would come and go. However, the past 24hrs have been particularly twitchy. I feel a little (more) conspicuous in public. It's bad enough I look like the creepy guy - the twitchy eye seals the deal! I'd put it down to a couple of late nights and too much TV, but it may have something to do with Fred's cousin.

Today I returned to my friendly auto mechanic Fred to deal with an overheating problem, a mere 2 weeks after a service that set me back $650. The day after that service, the engine light came on (permanently) , the car started overheating and I discovered the door handle they had replaced was missing its rubber seal and subsequently an area of scratched paintwork was exposed. Fred's cousin had done the work, so perhaps I should have anticipated a different level of service.

Fred's cousin happily informed me that he can fix the overheating problem. I just need a new thermostat, new hoses and oh yes - a new radiator. Grand total? $600. Oh- and he threw away the rubber seal, so will try to cover the door handle with touch up paint. (Insert twitch)

I must confess that I was a little abrupt with Fred's cousin, possibly insinuating that he and Fred were trying to fleece me and I couldn't afford it and what the heck, Fred's cousin, I just paid you guys 650 bucks, you're killing me here! But I quickly (and nauseatingly) came to the realization that while I didn't (and for the record, still don't) want to cough up the dough for the repairs, I can't really drive a car that overheats after 5 minutes. It can't possibly get better by itself, no matter how gently I massage it's flagging ego.

Where does all this leave me? Well, $1250 in the hole and 8 hours spent farting around Burbank while Fred's cousin tinkers under my hood and dreams of ways to spend my hard earned cash. (Or more accurately my 'credit' - thank you Visa, you're a true friend)

On the upside, that movie I shot in Prague nearly 4 years ago, which I can't talk about, finally sees the light of day - or more accurately the light of one theater on June 14. For one grand showing. Oh- and I had the delight (no sarcasm here) of working on George Lucas' Clone Wars series, which I also can't talk about. Oh- and Fred's cousin just called to say my car is ready.

Ready for what?

Ready for a sound beating!

Who's been a bad Volvo?

**twitch twitch**

Friday, May 23, 2008

When Breakfasts Go Bad

Settling down to breakfast at Doughboys on Highland, I was thrown by the wide array of options. Great to have a choice, but it seems harder and harder to find somewhere serving a simple eggs and toast option - without the biscuits, pancetta, latkes, ham and pancakes. When I asked if they had such an option, our friendly waiter asked if I was English. I felt a little offended, as if only a foreigner would dare ask for something so unimaginative. I admitted I was and he suggested ordering a side of eggs and toast.


So that's what I did - wheat toast and eggs over easy.

And here's what arrived:

Yummy, right? Not only was the toast burnt, but had been cut on an odd angle, as if by a blind person. Now don't get me wrong, the blind deserve employment as much as the next person. They just shouldn't be cutting toast. The broken piece was also prepared in the kitchen - as if to facilitate my first dry and crusty mouthful.

I should mention the toast was dry. No butter in sight - either on or off the plate. The ooze you see is the yolk, which quickly encircled the charcoal islands.

Could it look less appetizing? Yes. Could I have sent it back? Certainly. But, when it takes 30min for food this crap to arrive, I know that round 2 will take equally long and be almost as bad, by which stage I'm no longer hungry. So I ate it. Well, a little...

I know that if I ran a restaurant, I would ensure (either personally or through trained personnel) that food at least LOOKS well prepared before leaving my kitchen. Perhaps Doughboys was running a Cajun special our waiter didn't know about. My buddy James sent his eggs back because they were raw inside - that delicious translucent congealed goo state before becoming a solid. The waiter's retort: "well that's how we do our eggs". It's a good excuse for what any sane person would call incompetency. I can imagine Bush responding to critics of his policy in Iraq (or anywhere else, really), with a snigger and "well that's how I do the presidency".

The moral of the story (and you know I'll find one), is if you want something simple, (whether it's breakfast or a foreign invasion) prepare it at home. Otherwise, prepare to be disappointed. Or order Doughboys' "famous" SOS (sh*t on a shingle).

At least you'll know what to expect...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wiggy Gets Some Sun

I see many things on my strolls around Hollywood. Most are grubby, some charming, others captivatingly odd. A few days ago, I came across this - a small furry creature. It was soaking up the morning sun, quite content to lie in the middle of the street. Not a safe place of rest, but who am I to tell others what to do with their lives? That's for those smiley folks offering free stress tests 2 blocks away.

I gave the creature a wide berth, so as not to scare it off. (I know the rabbits where I live are very shy and can be startled by the slightest noise) But as I circled the animal, I became suspicious. Why was it so still? I didn't notice any movement, not even the rise and fall of breathing. So maybe it wasn't a creature after all. Maybe it was...a wig. Which is not to say it wasn't a creature. For I have observed wigs (on film sets) being carried in little cages designed for small pets. And Lord knows they're treated as fondly. So who's to say they aren't alive?

Perhaps this little one was tossed from a moving vehicle. Or maybe it got tired of repeated abuse and simply left of it's own accord? Either way, by the time I came upon the poor thing, it was quite lifeless. I couldn't help and went on my way.

Returning home an hour or so later however, I noticed the creature was gone. Where? Was it scooped up by cleaners? Eaten by rodents? Or, as I like to think, it found a better, kinder, warmer scalp to nestle on.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great Isn't What it Used to Be

It really isn't. Take the Great American Auto Center. It's not their fault they're not THE definitive auto center. However, it is - how shall I put this - uh, reaching, to claim ownership of such a lofty title. And post it outside for all to see the blatant incongruity of sign and service. But maybe it gets people to pause for just long enough to remember their worn out brakes and consider getting them done there.

It got me thinking, though. How many times have you passed a fast food stand claiming to make "the world's best burger" or some or other "world famous" dish? Chances are, you live within a short drive of the place and hadn't even heard of them until that moment. It's a blatant lie to claim that people hundreds of thousands of miles away are settling down at their local restaurant in Johannesburg or Karachi or Maidenhead, lamenting "this hotdog really isn't as good as Pinks!"

To make matters worse, big claims just beg for big retorts. I wrote and performed a show called The Great Glendini. One witty reviewer entitled his crit "The Great Glendini isn't that Great". I guess I was asking for it. To be fair, the character in the play was a failure, who missed out on fame and was now a bitter man. I think the reviewer was alluding to that fact, as his review was rather positive. But the headline certainly wasn't going to lure any theatre patrons looking for a night out.

We're all liers at heart, of course. We may not realise it, but we lie every day. Every time a coworker asks how you're doing and you say "great", you're lying. You are. Be honest now. You're not doing great at all, are you? You're neck deep in a mortgage, car payments and you're putting off major dental work your insurance won't cover. But you say "great" because that's your stock response, it doesn't invite further inquiry and you don't have to offload 35 years of baggage that all started when Samantha stole your matchbox car and you wept quietly in the treehouse while the other toddlers played hide and seek. But I digress...

The point, if indeed there is a point, is that we should come clean. Tell the truth, even the little truths like how we really are feeling. Otherwise what's the point of asking these questions in the first place? Because it's ettiquette? Well stuff ettiquette if no-one wants to hear the answer. Then don't ask the question. I'm telling all, people. Ask me how I am, and I'm gonna call it like I feel it. If I'm feeling like crap, I'll tell you. Because you have a right to know. And I have a write to tell you if you ask.

Also, I'm downgrading my standards of what's great. It used to be that a childhood trip to NASA (which I never experienced) would qualify as great. Nowadays, I'm making ice cream great. Getting in my car and realising I have a full tank of gas is great. Heck, waking up in the morning is great. And in another 2 weeks I'll need to come up with the rent.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just a quick post to say you can catch me on CSI:NY tonight at 10pm on CBS. The episode,"Admissions", has the team investigating the murder of a guidance counsellor during the school prom.

Keen eyed Gary Sinise and Eddie Cahill discover a number of suspects, including a dodgy character you wouldn't want looking after your retirement fund. That fellow could be me. Or not. You'll have to tune in to find out...

It just occurred to me that you need to be quite fit to be a detective. Fitter than most cops I imagine. Why? Well look at how they're crouching - that's a deep squat, people. As an occasional body builder, I can tell you that you're gonna feel that in your quads. I would. Clearly Gary and Melina have been doing this for some time, otherwise they'd be grimacing. As I do. Whether I'm squatting or not.

CSI folks need stamina. We're talking strong thighs, lower back and above average vision to actually spot the tiny clues before you bend and squat. Unless you have an assistant. In which case you can tell your assistant to pick up the miniscule carpet fibers the murderer left behind. Yes, that sounds like a plan.

WANTED: Personal assistant to squat on command. Duties include scraping suspicious residues from unsavory surfaces, following up leads, working closely with cadavers and running DNA tests.

Hmmm. Doesn't sound like much fun at all. I think I'll stick to playing the detective or, in this case, the creep. Hey, if I get tired, I can always play the cadaver...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coachella 08

In a rare moment of spontaneity I accepted the invite from Derek and friends Kavan and Tommy, to head through fields of windmills to the desert's musical celebration of excess called Coachella.

In 100 deg dry heat, we saw some incredible bands, including MIA, Prince, The Verve and my personal favourite, Portishead - still captivating more than a decade after their release of Glory Box. As we headed away with Prince's guitar still straining in the background, Kavan commented that people looked like zombies, staggering off in various states of trippy innebriation.

May I wish my fellow zombies a swift and gentle recovery...