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: Uh...no 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!