Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's

My vacation in Ohio is coming to a close and with the New Year's coming up, I've realized some things.

1) I haven't the slightest idea what the song Good King Wenceslas is about nor know any of the words.

2) Doesn't matter what city or state you're in, Wal Mart is full of the most fucked up people. There have been reports of fights in Wal Marts across the nation. What I'm absolutely sure of is they are not fighting over hygiene products.

3) On Stern, Chaz Bono admits he hates to masturbate to the thought of girls he knows or that aren't porn stars because he thinks it's insulting to them. I would like to apologize to the majority of the female population if you have felt insulted by me for the past 22 years.

4) Listening to and watching the biographies of Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Jonah Hill, and most of the cast of SNL has made me more depressed about my lack of efforts in show business.
5) Shingles affects 1 in 3 people and is reported to be more painful than child birth and can be fatal in some people.

6) I'm not in a mainstage show this semester and am ecstatic thinking about what I'm going to do with that time. I won't call it free time because I've never considered time to be free if there is something more I could be doing.

7) After talking to my Dad about his Republican views, I now believe the only thing the GOP lacks is a great PR director. His views make sense and are backed up with facts, but anyone can say anything on TV or in a bar that contradicts it and can be considered fact.

8) My God there are a shitload of TV shows on that have an hour to solve a case.

9) Sinead O'Connor has done her part keeping up the sanctity of marriage.

10) I was reminded that the taking a chance/failure gap is enormously smaller in college than it is in the real world. The chances that my friends and family are taking right now blows my mind. They are stepping off a cliff and trusting the air to keep them afloat. I will continue to juggle and memorize lines thank you. I am so proud of you.

11) After talking to my friends in the education system, I am more convinced than ever what I have been teaching this year. Our students are more concerned about cell phones, facebook, being right, being told what to do, finding excuses not to take chances, etc than exploring life, creativity, and challenging themselves.
Worst of all, it's starting earlier and earlier in elementary schools.

12) On that same point, School boards and superintendents can suck my dick. Oh, and please refer to #3 so you don't insult me. Stop making educators jobs everything but being about the students.

13) If our local and federal government is asking for more money through taxes, what they're really saying is " Hey, I know we're trillion dollars in debt, but we think we know where we went wrong, so give us more money and we'll fix it. We promise we won't fuck it up again." Hey, get a financial consultant.

14) A man with tourettes on a plane saying "Happy Holidays" every 30 seconds is so much better than a crying baby.

15) Watching the Baylor/Washington Bowl game was like watching the equivalent to a home run derby.

16) When people get gift cards for Christmas and take them in the store the day after Christmas, what do they expect to be on the shelves?

17) Trevin Cooper and I have proven that the two of us can have the nerdiest and most ridiculously obscure jokes about the History of Musical Theater. Who else would laugh at the text "After my 9/11 show, I'm going to write a musical like West Side Story but have The Theater Syndicate vs. The Schuberts" Oh, the comedy!!! Fact is, he laughed a lot at that.

18) Some of my favorite people got engaged over Christmas time and I congratulate all of them. I'm not weary about one of them.

19) After being in NYC for a week and coming to Ohio, my masseuse who's been working on me for years here said (not knowing I had been to NYC) "Your muscles are as tight as they were when you used to live in NYC." One week folks. I built up the defense wall of tension that I've spent 1.5 years getting rid of.

20) I confused a lot of people when I said I was heading home for a week and they assumed I meant Ohio. I'm happy to say I'm a New Yorker. Will always be a New Yorker. And that is truly my home. If I ever live there again is a question. I can't remember when that feeling changed inside me.

21) I'm a member of Urban nation. Please hop on board.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nov 12

There are certain days I definitely feel my age here. Not so much age but definitely experience. I see these young kids with such eagerness and optimism and I'm jealous to the core. I remember being like that. I still am at times. But I'm definitely tired too. And sometimes too realistic.
Before the last curtain call of The Pajama Game, I was telling a few friends I always take a deep breath before the final bow of a run of a show and take it in because who knows if it's the last bow I'll ever take, especially as a lead role. I can remember doing that for the past 10-12 years. Luckily it's never been true. They said that was a sad way to look at it and I said it might be, but it's absolutely true. There is no guarantee that I'll get cast again. The world doesn't owe me anything. I could get in an accident today and never perform again. Who knows. I look at it as somewhat optimistic to take in a final bow and be thankful for being born into this life and having the opportunity to allow my talents to affect people. I wouldn't want to leave the stage with the idea of "screw this show, I'm ready for the next one", cause I'm sorry, there might not be another one. I went 5 years without getting a show. Sometimes months without getting a callback.
I look at the university setting and realize how damn easy it is. Here are some main stage shows, most likely you'll get in one. If you don't, here are a whole bunch of studios you can do a show in if you put it up yourself. (Oh, by the way, if you want to do that in NYC, it'll cost you at least 1200 dollars). Want to act every day? Ok. Want to sing everyday? Here are some practice rooms. (If you want to do that in NYC for an hour, that'll cost you too). Want to write something and have actors all over the place to act in it? Go at it. Need a professor to look at some of your material and give you feedback? I've never had a problem. (NYC? acting sessions can run you up to 100 dollars).
So yes. I realize I might be over eager in my not taking things for granted, but it's so God damn easy here. It can only be as hard as you make it. Unfortunately, I make it very hard for myself. I think it's because I know what's on the other side. But according to a few of my professors, it's better that I keep those stories to myself. So I will. To those in NYC who are reading this and nodding, I won't let you down. I've received some very angry texts from you that hate that I get to go to class every day and play. I know it, and I'm sorry. I promise I'll still look back in a couple years and regret not doing more.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nov 5th

Ah, one blog post a month. Nice. Today was my first complete day off since...let's see..... when did school start? The day before that. Nope. Had auditions that day. A few days before that. I am now one semester and a few weeks away from being done with my class work at UCF and sadly, I kind of feel I'm just getting warmed up. The word that has been on my mind for the past few weeks is.... drills.
Never liked drills. Drills remind me of the dentist. Hate the dentist. Drills remind me of oil drilling. That leads to Chileans being trapped for a long time. Drills remind me of shop class. The class from 7th grade I had my first crush on a girl that I was paralyzed so much that I couldn't form a sentence around her. Drills remind me of basketball practice when I was growing up. We did something wrong and we were punished by doing suicide drills. These are drills that sucked so bad you literally wanted to commit suicide instead of living one more minute in your 13 year old physically awkward life. If I could have gotten out of suicide drills by talking to my 7th grade crush, I would have been married to her by now.
But drilling an exercise over and over again is what makes you better. No one can argue with me on this. Doing the same thing over and over again until you want to pull your hair out and it becomes so ingrained in your body that it's hard to fail. I know basketball players who shoot 500 free throws a day. I know golfers who hit 3 buckets of balls a day. I know baseball players who spend 2 hours in the batting cage. Shot after shot. Until it's as easy as going to the bathroom. Why do we not practice in the same way when it comes to acting?
We're learning in theory class that there are some countries and old acting techniques that require the student to work on their eye movements and facial movements 4 hours a day. 4 hours a day?? I think I have spent four hours in my whole life working on my eye movements. But guess what? When that person is asked to do an eye movement. They will make me look like I have no control over my eyes at all. Why is this not the standard? Why do we look at acting as something you can show up for 4 hours a week and be as good as the people who are practicing 7 hours a day? This is true. I have 4 hours of acting class a week. I have other classes that help my acting but a true acting class only 4 hours a week. Now in those 4 hours I listen a lot and take notes but I'm really only up and working about 40 minutes a week. As I say to my students, you can't learn how to swim by reading about swimming. I'm at the age where I've realized no one in life will ever give you everything you need. In college we expect everything to be handed to us because we've signed up for the classes, they give us a professor, they give us a time line, they give us projects, we have vacations, we have weekends, we have an end stop to all of this. But not in the real world. You get your degree and that piece of paper should really say "Congratulations Jason Nettle, you've made it to the real world, and it fucking sucks. You're on your own. Goodbye."
The repetition of something is what we need to succeed. People come back from basic training in great shape because they are forced to do something over and over again. Of course they want a break, but they keep pushing. As actors, we take those breaks. We plan those breaks. We arrange our schedules so we have many many breaks. That's why I was an unbelievable bartender and waiter. Because I did it over and over again and did it so many different ways that I never doubted I could and nothing that was thrown at me was too much. I bartended 40 hours a week for almost 10 years. I was damn good at it. When could I ever say that about acting and acting is 100 times harder!! I should be doing it 80 hours a week in hopes to figure out how good I could actually be.
I imagined school being a 14 hour a day job because even if you don't like what you're doing, the act of repeating a movement or muscle or thought again and again and again, you will no doubt get better. Our job as actors is to perform tactics to our partner, to get what we want, to overcome the obstacles in the given circumstances, and make it look fresh and entertaining every time we do it. We need to be storytellers and entertainers and to even be remotely successful in this business, we have to be damn good. BUT, for some reason, as actors, we have convinced ourselves that knowing a little bit about a whole bunch of things and showing up and half assing it and just trying to get by is enough to call ourselves artists. Sadly, our society and education system allows it. Imagine what kind of actor I would be if I did tactic exercises and vulnerability exercises 8 hours a day? Everyday for 2 years? I could probably walk back into NYC and have my choice on what role I wanted anywhere on Broadway. But as an actor I have more important things to do during my day. I need to watch tv, get on facebook, gossip, judge others, etc.
I guess what I'm saying is I know what it takes to get where I need to be and if I'm in school, it should be thought like that. Wake up and act, act, write, read, share, challenge yourself, explore, expand, fail, succeed, act, memorize, research, and act. But I don't. And I know I'm going to punch myself in a year or two from now because I know I won't have the time like I do now.
Why are actors who perform in porn considered porn stars? Really? Stars? You get in one film and you're considered a porn star. I wish it was that easy for actors getting into Hollywood. We like to believe so. "I'm amazing! I have worked at being an actor AT LEAST 5 hours this week. Give me your production contracts!!"
Porn stars. That's funny.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oct 5th

Im typing on my MACBook Pro. Steve Jobs passed away today. Thank you Steve Jobs. You have so many quotes that business people use. You've been an innovator, inspiration, and workaholic. Very few of you remain. Here's a quote I saw today and made me think of people like Steve Jobs, but it goes for everyone: students, actors, artists, scientists, teachers, etc.....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oct 4th

I was thinking about this today in class. Exactly 2 years ago today I promise you I woke up really early in the wonderful city of NYC , went to the gym, worked out, trained 1 or 2 people, tried to find more clients so that my monthly budget of 2500 dollars would be met, then went to my bartending job at Angus. I know this because I worked the Tuesday afternoon shift for almost 5 years so I'm guessing the odds would be that I'd be going to work that day. I would set up the bar and set up all the tables then I would talk to the manager about drastic, life changing topics like covering shifts, being out of coffee pots, salt and peppers not being filled from the night before, stock not being done, and real life changing things like candle use and spots on silverware. When the night crew would come in at 5, I would take my 30 dollars (Only 2470 dollars short of my budget) and go home. I would do important things that needed to be done like watch The Biggest Loser, get on facebook, and then find auditions that there would be no way in hell I'd be going to because I had 50 more hours of work that week.
Today in grad school I learned how to juggle.

I feel like I'm doing better now.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oct 2

I had a lovely dinner with friends last night and the topic of work ethic came up. Being the "old" guy at school I was telling them that from my experience, once you get out in the real world your work ethic decreases by about 80%, if not more. If you spend 10 hours a day perfecting your craft in college, you'll find yourself only working about an hour a day in the real world. If you spend 2 hours a day perfecting your craft in college, forget about it, you might as well be looking for a new career. The reason i came back to college was because I know that the only time you grow immensely as an artist or actor is in studio and college. The moment you get your degree you will find 1,444,876,392,085,476,213 reasons not to go to an audition, expand your repertoire, learn new things, read new plays, relearn stuff you learned in school, try new things, expose yourself to new ideas, force yourself to take a chance, and the countless other things we do on an everyday basis here. I love to hear young people say "no, not me. I won't do that". HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!! Yes you. I'm sorry. Even you.
I'm reading about Sondheim right now and am floored by the amount of projects, compositions, collaborative teams, collaborative projects, etc that he did while he was in school. I suppose he's done alright for himself. We live in a society now that we really want to just do enough to get by and we'll "hit it big" because deep down the Gods know how much we want it and will present us with the opportunity. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH! oh, that's funny.
I'm starting to get worried about my time left here. There is so much more I want to get accomplished and I know that when I leave here some of those opportunities will be gone forever. I will never force myself to sit down and learn the things I'm being forced to learn now and that scares the hell out of me. With less than a year left, I feel like I'm a 4/10 at where I should be as an actor to compete in this business. I know what's out there. It's not getting to the 5/10, but it's the 6-8 that scares the living fuck out of me. That is an area that excites me and will take me to a place as an artist that I'm only dreaming of now. But I know how hard it'll be and how much pain there might be involved in that and maybe why I have an arm length keeping me from it. I have friends in NY who are absolutely brilliant on stage. They have done things that leave my jaw dropped and would earn them their MFA's in one day. I possess that. Somewhere inside me I do. I see drops of it every once in awhile. But it's not enough. I only live once. I want to look back at my talent at the age of 35 and say, "Oh, I was such an amateur then". Every minute, every hour, every day, every class, my goal is to get closer to that goal. I guess that's why I'm destroying myself in school right now. Because two years from now, there is a possibility that I could never act on stage again. And I don't want to wish I worked harder in school. This is my time. This is my time to make it happen.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 1st

What have I missed since the last entry? (that's what she said) Let's see....... Got cast as Sid in Pajama Game, started teaching my classes, must be firm yet friendly, a kid threw up in my class on Friday, it's hot, the hurricane missed us and hit NYC instead, there was an earthquake, I worked my ass off and performed the first reading of my 9/11 piece (please refer to my other blog), this semester has kicked me in the balls, thrown me down, and punctured my brain with Shakespeare, theory , and movement techniques that I never knew existed. I wake up at 5:30 am everyday and go straight through until 10 or 11, I haven't watched any of my TV shows this season, my girlfriend is the most amazing person ever, I forgot what it was like to root for a college football team that sucks...but I remember now, my roommate cries when I throw her a surprise Christmas party for her birthday, I've grown more of an attitude of not caring what anyone thinks and am becoming more like my father and starting to hate when people tell me what to do for no other reason than to make themselves feel better. I'm predicting that I will die from an accident that texting or talking on the phone is involved. I love teaching. I think I have the potential to become a great great great acting teacher. I relearned how to sing in one lesson after doing it wrong for the past 7 years. I will always have a future in comedy and musical theater, as long as neither one of them involves dancing. I'm old and not old at the same time. Giving up soda is tough. The Charlie Sheen roast could have been much better. Forgiveness, friendship, and trust is a 10 act play. I like cats- the animal more than the musical. I miss NYC so much sometimes it hurts. I have many friends who are engaged, just got married, are pregnant, or just had a kid.
Well, that sums up the last 3 months. I will be better at this funny writing shit again. I miss the release (that's what she said).

Monday, June 27, 2011

56th Day of Summer

Oh yeah, my blog. I watched something on the news the other night about how some people are making money off of their blogs, so if you could tell your friends and I could gather 5000 or so followers, I'd appreciate it.
Let's see, New York decided to make an appearance to the 21st century. The gays can get married, or as my dad says "Do they not see married people, why do they want to torture themselves????" I have to agree with the far right, homosexuals getting married is going to ruin the "sanctity" of marriage...... ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!???!! The sanctity?? Sanctity?? You might be able to come up with a lot of arguments why you're against it, but please keep sanctity out of the equation. Have you watched tv lately?? Do you see who is holding up the sanctity of marriage in our country? Britney Spears, Dennis Rodman, Elizabeth Taylor, Lindsay Lohan, the entire casts of the Bachelor and the Bachelorette, Larry King, Hugh Hefner, and everyone else who has made their marriages last as long as Britney Murphy's drug career.
I would comfortably say I have a couple hundred friends who are in openly gay relationships. Most of them put my heterosexual friends relationships to shame. Hell, they put my past relationships to shame. There might be large groups of people who would give me a list of "facts" why this law shouldn't have passed. I'm truly hoping that none of these protestors are either women or a member of a minority race. Guess what? I never lived through the civil rights movement or when women weren't allowed to even sit in a classroom or church, but I'm assuming it's about the same thing. Here are people, who are happy WITH THE WAY THEY WERE BORN, and want the same rights everyone else gets. Isn't that what Martin Luther King wanted? Or Virginia Woolf? Or Betty Friedan? Now the names are George Takei or Rosie O'Donnell. I think we made a huge turning stone this week and I bet when my generation's kids are my age, they won't be able to think of a time when homosexuals couldn't get married. The same way that I don't remember blacks not being allowed to vote. Or women holding a public office. Or minorities being allowed to play on professional sports teams. I mean this is the white heterosexual male's country!! At least that's what we told all the native americans before we took the land and killed all of them. Duh.
But.........I do believe in change. I do believe in progress. I believe living in the stone age prohibits our growth. I believe times change and we adapt to those changes. But it takes some time and patience. I remember when the no smoking law hit NYC while I was bartending and we were convinced all of our jobs would disappear, no one would go out anymore, and people would rather buy a six pack and smoke in their apartments than have to go out to a smoke free bar. We were wrong. It took about 6 months for everyone to figure out how it was going to work, but 10 years later, no one thinks twice about the rule now. And it's spread across the country but it's not made a big deal of anymore. People adapt.
Gay rights has been a hot topic for years. Extremely hot. So hot that half of our country thinks the other half wants to kill them all and send them to hell. The "God Hates Fags" church appears at military funerals to protest. I can't believe no one has shot them yet. I'm very surprised by that. When this law passed last week, the first people I thought of were some of my closest friends who have been together for years and can now share the same bond that my parents have. Men who have lived together for 20 years and love each other the same amount they did the first day. Women who tell there co workers that they've been dating each other for 5 years and get the response, "Wow, I didn't even know you were gay".
So the next morning rolls around and the news on all the stations are how the law passed in NYC and everyone's reaction to it. And my worst fear came to light. CNN cuts to a celebration, most likely in Chelsea, from the night before and you would think Studio 54, La Cage aux Folles, and Ru Paul's drag show looked like they were having an orgy. Now..... as someone who lived in NYC, I know where these parties were and most likely us actors would have ended up somewhere near them if I lived there, but here I was in Orlando Fl watching 4 men in body glitter and thongs grind up on 3 drag queens wearing extremely flamboyant pink feather costumes. I smiled. I was so happy for them. But then I thought of the 6 men sitting in a bar in Mississippi who don't even think they have seen a gay person in their life thinking that this was what this law meant. The "freaks" getting their way. The reason people are prejudiced and racist is because they usually don't understand. They have preconceived stereotypical images in their head that are the worst of what they can imagine. I was upset at CNN for not helping this "change" be shown for how special it really is for so many millions of Americans. I wanted to see the young couples. The older couples. The couples that defined exactly what love means and how happy they were. This is why the theater community rose up together. We have so many friends who feel equal. That they can hold their head up high. That they fought and won.
There will always be hate in this country. For every race, gender, and orientation. Hate crimes will continue to happen and that's just sad. This law is not going to change anyone's mind over night. But I do think that over time this will come to be a thing of the past. We'll laugh that we kept a group of Americans on the back of the bus or out of the church. We'll change and grow together. People will think that NY has given rights to their "images" of what homosexuality is, but they're wrong and we as a people have to grow up and realize that we are here for each other. We only slow ourselves down if we're against one another. We make people aware. We do our job to promote how much good all of us can do. As someone in the heterosexual community, I hope we don't ever let the gay community down. You know the people you can count on. Congratulations.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30th Day of Summer

A lot calmer of a day. I know some of you said couldn't wait to see what happened on day #2 but we started off with sitting on the couch watching mickey mouse and pouring cheerios. Much easier than the bread instructional video. After that we ventured off to Cedar Point. This was a whole new experience of an amusement park for me. It was just me and her.
After getting into the park and looking at all the big rides and being jealous of all the high schoolers who were going to the upside down, twisty, corkscrewy, fasty, and screaming rides..... Tatum and I went into the Hello Kitty store and she told me about all the characters and more facts that I forgot by the time we walked out. We braved it and rode the Merry Go Round. I rode a rabbit in honor of my roommate, Russell. Then we went to Snoopy Land. Yup, next to Snoopy Land is the...well, I don't know the name of it but it should be called "Holy Shit this ride is awesome!!" I watched them as I was lifted up and down on the Snoopy submarine. From there we got icees and made our way to Camp Snoopy to see the shows.
After getting lost, three times, we found snoopy land and we instantly went to the Tatum's favorite ride, The Jr. Gemini. This is a roller coaster that is actually pretty good for very young kids. It's "just right" for them. The downfall is it takes longer to get strapped in than the ride actually lasts so they let you go twice. She rode that 7 times. We didn't put our arms down once the whole time! Probably more of feat for her than me. I was trying to grab the tree limbs as we went by. Another icee later and a corndog, we went to see the Peanuts Gang dance. Holy crap. It was 90 degrees, these actors were in full costume, probably 130 degrees inside and had to dance for all..... 4 of us. There were more characters than people watching. My need to take care of the uncomfortableness set in and I made a fool of myself and did more entertaining than the characters who looked like they'd rather be at the hello kitty store.
After that was Karaoke with Snoopy. "With" is a stupid word here since sweaty actor playing Snoopy just stood there and gave high fives. Since the place was packed with Tatum and I, she of course got embarrassed and guess who sang at the 3'4" microphone stand: Uncle Jason. I tore the place up with killer rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and when I busted into my opera voice Tatum curled up in a ball and looked around in case any of her boyfriends saw her. Tatum still didn't want to sing but I finally convinced her to sing the alphabet song. I told her it was in alphabetical order so she should have no problem. She sang it and the girls working the gig told her how great she was. Of course she was! She's my niece!
But this brings me to my lesson of the day. After we left karaoke with standing silent Snoopy, I asked her why she was so hesitant of singing. Surprisingly she said "It was embarrassing". There were 2 girls, a standing sweaty Snoopy, and eventually a father and son and she was embarrassed. To some this wouldn't be big news. Kids get embarrassed, they get shy and hide. But I have been doing soul searching lately that would leave Buddha amazed and the issues I'm finding with shame, embarrassment, fear, and risk taking seems like it's something learned in life. We as humans are scared to death of embarrassing ourselves. Shame tears or insides apart. We fear showing someone that we aren't as good as we want to be and that will destroy our future and opinions made of us. If we can avoid looking bad in front of someone, we will. We'd rather do nothing than something if it meant we'd be comfortable. We prefer to only do things we're good at and are quick to point out when someone doesn't do something that is up to our standards. OUR standards. If people lived up to OUR standards, the world would be much better. At the age of 35, I understand the logic of this and see that it happens. But a 6 year old? Where does that core emotion of embarrassment stem from? What does this girl have to fear by doing something. What in our society has started those feelings at such an early age? Let's say she sings and does awful, what deep feeling has already formulated inside her that she has fear of the consequences. We all live with fear. Most problems we suffer from are all fear based. Fear of ___. What in the hell does a 6 yr old have to fear? This isn't about her personally, she just opened my eyes to this question that has been floating around in my head for awhile.
To be in front of someone is being vulnerable. We hate to be vulnerable because it usually leads to pain. By protecting our vulnerability, we protect ourselves from pain. Has she experienced pain? And if so, what kind of pain does a young child experience that we forget about as we get older? We hate to be wrong. We would give anything not to be wrong. Kids are always wrong. What difference do they know?
The funny thing about this story is if you asked my family to name the two people who were always the center of attention, they'd name me and Tatum. But when I looked at her saying that today, it's the curse that haunts every performer I saw in her behavior. As much as we perform, entertain, make people feel included, are the first to volunteer for anything..... we possess a fragile side of us that doesn't coincide with what we do. It's what has held as back as artists for centuries. We are scared to embarrass ourselves. We are afraid to be wrong. We are scared to be negatively judged. We are one pin prick away from everything we know ourselves to be from exploding into nothing. Here's my frustration: If we as artists did away with those negative feelings, there is not one thing in this universe that would stop us from being able to make every thing we dream of to come true. To change the world. To create art that was more powerful than any other force. But........ we're scared..... so it doesn't happen.
I was able to think through all this while she rode the bumper boats and Snoopy bounce house. Later, we got back to the car and it took her about 30 seconds to fall asleep. I didn't need to ride those big rides. I had the most fun thing with me the whole day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

29th Day of Summer

For all of you who have kids, you're going to laugh in my face. For those who know me, you're going to laugh in my face.
1st Day of Babysitting my 6 yr old niece, Tatum.

7:30 am- Woke up to her face right in mine saying "Uncle Jason, daddy told me to wake you"
7:37 am- Finally got my whereabouts and got up. She had been standing at the door for the past 7 minutes waiting to come downstairs with her.
7:45 am- Received instructions from the task master that she would like her toast not toasted, with butter, and no crusts. She reminds me not to forget the blueberries.
7:50-7:52 am- Looked around the kitchen for her vitamins until she rolled her eyes at me and got them herself.
8 am- I finally had my morning pee
8:20 am- Watched 10 minutes of some acid induced thing that was on the Disney channel with her until I started playing Pink Floyd to see if it matched up with the video.
8:30 am- Put on Peter Pan for her
8:32 am- Sat down to some light reading of the 9/11 Commission Report
8:33 am- Had to chase and kill the huge fly that was flying around her
9:02 am- Successfully killed the fly
9:07 am- She got tired of Peter Pan and we played Barbie cars on the back porch
9:10 am- Called the prince by the wrong name and she rolled her eyes and left me to play by myself.
10 am- She informed me of her bathroom going ons
10:15 am- She thought I was ridiculous when I told her about mine
11 am- Got into argument because I didn't know any fancy ways to "do" her hair. Was informed that brushing it did not consist of "doing anything" with her hair. I tried to use the excuse that I was a boy and didn't know anything fancy. She challenged me with the fact that my brother is a boy but no one was there to laugh when I said "Not really". She rolled her eyes and said "what about a clip". She didn't find it funny when I replied "What about it?".
11:15 am- She got dressed and I put her hair up as close to what I thought Cindi Lauper would have worn in 1984.
11:17-11:22 am- Looking for a bandaid because the small cut on her foot is rubbing against her sock until she rolls her eyes at me and gets the bandaid herself. She does not find it amusing after I put the bandaid on I fake that I have paddles in my hands and have to shock her heart back to life. She rolls her eyes and walks away.
11:30 am- Went to Dave and Busters to play games. All of the waitresses gave me a lot of attention cause it looked like....well face it....I was fucking adorable walking in with her and us laughing with each other.
11:45 am- She hits the jackpot on the fishing game and wins 1000 tickets. I'm so proud.
12:06 pm- I teach her how to play skeet ball and she gets a 20 and says that's the most she ever got and I start getting teary eyed.
12:10 pm- I flirt with most of the waitresses
12:17 pm- Security notifies me that they found her.... her who?
1:00 pm- We leave Dave and Busters with an oversized horse and I make her say "I love you so much UNCLE Jason loud enough for everyone there to hear.
1:08 pm- She complains that the air isn't on in the car. I haven't started the car yet.
1:30-3pm- We eat lunch and both watch the Disney channel and I watch dozen of teen actors who have more talent than their writers and actually get sucked into the plot of some shows and even get upset a few times that the realism was skipped over at a few places.
1:32 pm- Finally can put Selena Gomez's face with the name. Please don't become the next Lindsay.
3pm- She wants to go over to her neighbor's house to play and they play until 4 while I read the 9/11 Commission Report and figure out how to get Osama and Al Qaeda into my show without shoving it down the audiences' faces. They want to murder infidels, but more importantly Americans, and not women and children, because all of us are infidels.
4:15 pm- Have a tea party with Tatum, the 2 horses, and the baby Tiana doll.
4 pm- Ride bikes around the block a couple times and try to teach her how to get the pedal to go around while scooting the bike up. She sucks in a lot of air and blows it out to show her frustration. It is then I realize she will look back at this moment in the future and realize why she despises me.
6:00 pm- She practices piano, I tell her if she curled her fingers more.... before I can finish she rolls her eyes and says "I got it".
6:02 pm- I shoot her with tranquilizers and put her to bed. See you tomorrow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day of Summer

Usually Memorial Day starts the beginning of summer, but hell, I'm going on a month of vacation so far. I feel like it's the middle. By the time 4th of July rolls around, I'll be back to school shopping. Plus...... I get to WEAR WHITE NOW!!!!! (In an Oprah/gay sounding voice)
Well, today Coach Tressel "resigned". The sweater vest is gone. The truth of the matter is that every single college program does this with their student athletes, but just a few get caught. OSU got caught. Please don't feel your program is all high and mighty because you think you're squeaky clean.... the higher profile the school is, the more the shit goes down. The Beatles were once thought to be squeaky clean when compared to the Rolling Stones. Guess what... Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and Octopus's Garden aren't diddies they composed while playing Trivial Pursuit.
I am upset with how it went down at OSU with all of this but I'm not going to be the one who points fingers or tries to spin it to make us look like we're being unfairly treated. Yeah, life ain't fair. You know the rules, if you break the rules, you pay the consequences. End of story. That's why we hate lawyers so much who try to get serial killers off for a loophole in the system. We get pissed when we get pulled over for speeding when we know very well that the guy next to us was going faster than we were, or the pretty girl was going the same speed but happened to have pretty eyes so she didn't get a ticket.
We hate being wrong. We hate admitting guilt. We hate being embarrassed. I laugh at the hardcore conservatives and liberals who are able to spin every single issue that their party failures are the other party's fault. When did "I fucked up. Sorry" become a taboo statement? It's maybe because I feel I have said that so much in my life that it's gotten kind of watered down for me. What is it about being wrong that destroys our insides and our existence?
Why is Charlie Sheen fascinating? He admits to everything! What makes Tiger Woods an idiot? He gives a poopy apologetic press conference that didn't include the phrase "I fucked a lot of whores and liked it. Sorry." Barry Bonds? Do you think the constant denial will make it all go away? Clinton sucked because older Bush sucked. Newer Bush sucked because Clinton sucked. Obama sucked because newer Bush sucked. Guess why the next president will suck? (None of these are factual statements, but it's pretty easy to just accept it right?)
I know we have to lie to save our asses sometimes and drown someone to save ourselves other times, but I'm starting to feel that people who can't come clean and admit they're wrong come across extremely weak. I love Jim Tressel and I think he's one of the greatest things to have ever happened to Ohio State, but if he felt he was innocent, he would have fought with his life to keep his job. Those players put him in an awful situation. He didn't handle it correctly. There's probably a lot more we don't know about and hope to sweep under the rug so others can't talk shit about us. Yeah there's the Reggie Bush's and Cam Newton's, some bullshit gets through the cracks. But if life was fair, my mom wouldn't have had to hold me so many times growing up and convincing me that you be the best person you can possibly be and sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't. Life owes you nothing. There is no contract that says if you do this you will get that. Roll with the punches, learn from your mistakes, and hopefully the mistakes will appear less and less.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Twentieth-twenty fifth days of summer

The Orlando Theater Fringe Festival. One of the first times I have been remotely close to feeling at home down here. I wasn't expecting it to be so big (that's what she said). The details of the event and the genuine and honest passion for the art is overwhelming. I've never met so many humble people before..... who are actors, writers, and creators. I have been stunned numerous times this week seeing a show and expecting someone to come out "That's right! I'm talented! Like my shit, bitches!". But no, I finally have that sense of community that artists are looking to one another and saying, "let's help each other survive" because if we don't, we could disappear very soon.
I've been so proud of the cleverness, risk taking, and openness of the material I've seen. I saw three one man shows and each one I wanted to thank them for leaving themselves on the stage. They all did it for the work. I haven't witnessed one person who has acted that they're better than anyone else. Actually only once, and it's ironic, or maybe not, that they were the only annoying person I came across. It's been a celebration in so many ways and I haven't even been able to take in the majority of it. One person can only do so much.
The friendliness and acceptance all around has been so satisfying. I've been able to talk to absolutely anyone I wanted to and no one is rattling off their resume or asking what you can do for them. Did you just order some food and need a place to sit? Sit anywhere. There are no cool kids tables here. We're all in the same theater geek club here.
Congratulations to all the writers, directors, and actors for a wonderful week of theater. I was invited to see some shows I never would have picked in a million years and all left me with no ideas for my writing and performing. David Lee gave an unforgettable performance and worked his way through a false fire alarm without missing a beat. How good was it? The entire crowd didn't move a muscle when the alarm went off and all prayed silently that it was a false alarm. Once we found out it was false, we blocked out the flashing strobe light that was meant to save lives and listened and concentrated on where David would take us next. Supposedly for me, it was up on stage..... thanks David.
I worry about the future of our art form and know that the passion will always be there, but fear the money won't. It was so refreshing to walk into a community that seemed to leave all egos at the door and celebrate what we were born to do. Thank you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nineteenth Day of Summer

First Osama. I hear Zsa Zsa is in a coma. I heard Kinecky from Grease is in a coma. I don't know how much more I can bare..... but Mr. Savage. Damn, this news came to a shock to me today. I remember watching him as a kid on the television. I admired him and hoped I would be just like him one day. I remember the first time he kissed Winnie Cooper. He spoke for kids my age and told a great story for parents my parents age. I remember his trials and tribulations going through middle school and high school. Who can forget how amazing he was in The Princess Bride? Having a story told to him by his grandpa on a sick day. His sitcom career faded a bit and a couple awful pilots that made it on fro a couple episodes. You were too young Fred Savage. Too young.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eighteenth Day of Summer

Blogger was down. SoI slacked. Missed 9 days. The Indians are still in first place but I always tiptoe when it comes to Cleveland sports.
"Level of commitment gives level of presence"
"Presence requires being aware. It requires you allowing others to have an impact on you"
"Confidence is static. Determination is active"
"Talking about acting is like thinking about swimming. Neither one does anything"
"What is required for making art is insatiable curiosity"
"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great simple images in whose presence his heart first opened"
"Your passion must be greater than your chains or you cannot create art"
"A diamond is a lump of coal that has stuck with it"
" Should we artists align ourselves with the sane , or shall we take a chance, and walk with our pain, or the pain of others- in order to tell their stories perhaps- to let them know that someone understands?"
"Faith requires discipline and a lot of imagination"
"I take my foolishness very seriously"

As an actor, to be fully in "the moment" and to embrace every thing that is happening in the moment, there is absolutely no room for judgement. Judgement on yourself, on others, or moments that are happening. I find this hysterical because I think actors are the most judgmental people in the entire world and I believe no one is talented enough to turn it on and off when they are on stage. The only way to become judge free on stage is to become judge free in real life. When I'm done trying to change peoples' minds about that I'm going to take on the challenge of running a marathon under two hours.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ninth Day of Summer

Flippin through pages of an issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. Let's see here: Do I read an in depth article on Justin Bieber or turn the next page and read about the history of The Clash? Seriously, I hate to sound old, but what the hell happened to music? Why do I feel that Justin Bieber should not have one article written about him in that magazine. It's probably the same side of me that hates anyone who hosts Saturday Night Live who isn't naturally funny. I love to tune in and see how great Paris Hilton is at sketch comedy. Fucking bitch. It's all about selling to the masses. Damnit!
I deal with this with my roommate. She listens to music that I label "pure shit". She loves it and I have to accept that, but it does absolutely nothing for me. I think it's more about the words now? Who can say the most fucked up shit and get away with the most and offend the most people? Put a bass beat behind it and you're good. I'm told that they have a talent, but I've heard the one song that they all have produced and I get it. I don't even like all the music that rock groups are playing now. I'm addicted to classic rock when the music fucking soared above all levels of creativity and talent. speaking of lyrics, we all know where Puff the Magic Dragon lived and where Lucy was with her diamonds. They were sold on their talents, not their looks. And the more drugs they did, the crazier their music was. They didn't do drugs as a status symbol. They didn't write music to talk about how they did drugs or had sex. They wrote music on the drugs and when they were done, then they had sex. Lots and lots of sex, and they didn't have to advertise it to anyone. I mean have you see Pete Towsend? The Rolling Stones are not a handsome group of men. Tom Petty and Bob Dylan didn't have a pussy posse. Believe me, if Pink Floyd would have written and performed the songs that Britney Spears, any of the assholes on American Idol, or anything that's on the sound track to Jersey Shore, they would have had to pack up their flying pigs and go back to England. I don't hear anyone taking chances in music anymore. You can sell a look now. It's hard to sell heart.
I'm old. I get it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Eighth Day of Summer

"As an artist, I must take time to see. It is not healthy for me as an artist to be turned to an inner movie, always watching the "what if, if only I had's". "What if" and "if only" are poison to the artist. They throw us into the past. They dull our lens on the passing world. And it is in the passing world that inspiration lies in wait for us. If I live in the "then" instead of the "now", the art dries up"
"The doing of something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can"
"All creative acts are acts of initiative. Art is born, but not without labor on our part. We must be willing to reach inside and draw forth what we find there."
"Wherever you are is the entry point"
"If we give something our attention, we rest our creativity on it..if we put our attention on the wrong things, they steal our energy and leave us impotent while pulling unsavory experiences into our lives"
"Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write"
"Shame impacts creativity. It makes it difficult to create. Shame shuts us down, shuts us out, shuts us off"
"Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts"
Today as I baked myself to medium well in the pool, I read for about 5 hours. Everything I'm reading right now has to do with theater, creativity, art, being an artist, 9/11, or sports. This past semester in Avant Garde class we discussed how Genet went to prison and did all of writing and reading in their. Now that's what I call nothing to do but commit to your art. If I was in prison, between anal gang rapes, I'd read every single book ever written. I'd write as much as possible. When I thought about it today, I have that wish, I can do all those things, except getting the anal gang rape, but my roommate is a sweetheart and if I just ask.....
Tomorrow I have nothing to do. Nothing. I'm going to go to the gym and then for...oh let's say..... 10 hours I'm going to try to memorize a monologue, write a few pages to my 9/11 show, read a play, and start writing a script of an idea that came to me today. If I should get a lot of that accomplished, anal rapes for everyone!!!!
I need to stay out of the sun. I'm getting to be like Wesley Snipes black. I was Obama black yesterday, and slowly moving past Bill Cosby black now.
My favorite quote above is "Sit down, shut up and write". I think that says it all. Stop the bullshit and do something. We can talk ourselves out of anything and I'm the all time con artist of procrastination.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seventh Day of Summer

"breakthroughs occur when focused, rational thought and activity are followed by a period of release."
"Intellect can be an actor's nemesis. The brain specializes in doing things that automatically jeopardize creative fluidity. The brain makes judgements; the brain protects us; the brain analyzes a situation: none of these things is conducive to acting. Being in your head cuts off the flow of creativity"
"acting is not about mass acceptance, it's about self acceptance"
"creativity is our species' natural response to the challenges of human experience"
I also saw Thor. I believe that movie was one hour and 53 minutes of action, and 2 minutes of Thor being shirtless and every girl in the theater going into a dreamlike fantasy that I was not part of in any way or fashion. If I had showed up in that fantasy, it would probably be to take out the trash or tell Thor the next girl is waiting.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sixth day of Summer

Although I have been performing for almost 20 years, tonight was the first night I attended a screening of two films I was in. The UCF Film department did 18 shorts and all were screened tonight. Long night but I learned quite a lot.
First and foremost, as an actor, I forgot how much film is such a different beast than stage. I feel the most important thing for an actor to do is tell the story. The most important thing for a film maker to do is tell the story. Let's cross fingers and toes that the two together are telling the same story and the actor is giving the director what they what at the right time so the story can be told and the audience isn't distracted by frivolous things. The actor can give a performance of a lifetime but the camera, sound, or lights might not catch it right. The film crew could make the most beautiful shot, but if the actor falls short, it looks amateurish.
Stage is for the moment, film lasts forever. I can do something with my face on stage if something hits me a weird way and people will forget about it in 10 seconds. When I do it during a take and the director decides to use it, that double chin is set in stone forever. When you see yourself on film, you instantly freak out and are afraid to do anything in fear that it'll look stupid on screen, but then doing nothing looks strange and you sit there pounding your head as the rest of the audience watches having no clue why you're behaving the way you are.
Nothing feels better than telling a joke five months ago and getting a laugh for it tonight. Then to forget you set up and delivered a joke five months ago, and then it get a laugh is even better. Comedy on film is complete faith. I can feel and read an audience when I'm on stage and manipulate them. On film, you have to trust yourself and imagine how it would be delivered if the audience was there when you're filming it.
Nothing like losing 17 pounds in the past month and then seeing yourself 17 pounds heavier out of nowhere and wondering who that person was the on screen.
It's all about story. Write the story, act the story, film the story. That's all we're doing kids. Changing the world with words, voice, and movement.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fifth Day of Summer

Thank you to every friend and family member I talked to today. For some reason, maybe something is in the new Britta filters, today turned into emotional Friday for all of us. By all of us, I mean the grad students that are here right now. Unfortunately I found out tonight that I will not be walking at my graduation unless I take out another student loan. Congratulations! Here's a piece of paper. Now give us more money!! That's not why I was upset. I could care less.
Something hit me the moment I woke up this morning and saw all the postings on facebook for graduation. I don't even do that for 2 more years but it hit me like a ton of bricks. Jealousy raged through me with sprinkles of scared shitless. I remember June of 1998 when I put my cap on my cascading flow of hair on my head and knew I'd be leaving for NYC in September. I remember the hopes, dreams, confidence, girlfriend, doubts, and carefree attitude I had then. 13 years later, all of those have changed. Not for the worse, but they definitely have changed.
Referring back to my previous entries, I always have a pool of anxiety brewing in me because the world is moving forward and opportunities are continuing to blossom everywhere. More times than not, I haven't taken advantage or run away. I'm going to be graduating in 2 years...again....with the world at my feet and dreaming of what I want to happen. The problem is I feel I sort of failed the first time and now I'm going to have to face it again with a 50/50 chance of it happening again. People will argue with me that I have accomplished a lot, but there's still a gaping hole inside me that hasn't been filled. I do and I don't know what it will take to fill that.
Then my buddy, my chum, my partner in crime, Alex, left with his beautiful girlfriend to California tonight and I'll see them again in August. I feel like I lost part of myself tonight that LA gets to have for the meantime. This is the person I feel pushes me the most here and I'm scared I might take a step back.
My roommate is amazing and has put up with my shit for the past month or so. She has her own struggles but puts up with everyone elses on top of them. She's a rock. She's not a therapist but hears whatever fucked up hell that is going through my mind at any given moment and hasn't called anyone to come admit me to the loony bin.
"If we imbibe....a belief in the perfectibility of art and the artist, we will be hard pressed in later life to adopt a more practicable view. Art is about the spontaneous connection of the artist and his own unconscious- about insight beyond reason. If his insight is reasonable, anyone could do it, but anyone cannot. Only a few can, and they are called artists...... Drama is a mystery. It is the exploration of the unconscious. ....There is, in truth, no "emotion" work or "preparation" done by the actor that can be better than his spontaneity." David Mamet, Theatre.
It is at these moments I feel my creative mind is at its best, but goddamn it hurts so much. I feel like I'm Antonin Artaud resurrected at times. My job is to entertain. My job is to give the audience something new. My job is to allow the audience to feel or think or free their mind. My job is to create life.
What do you do with a degree in theater? There is no answer to that. It's whatever you want to do with it. Do you want to become a waiter? You will. Do you want to become the next Kerry Butler or Kevin Kline? You will. Do you want to become the next Neil Labute or David Yazbeck? You will.
My problem has been that I have never raised the bar enough for myself. I became a waiter. I became a preschool teacher. I became a bartender. I became a facebook stalker. I became a personal trainer. I became a photographer. I became a boyfriend. I became a roommate. I became a studier of improv. I became an audition expert. I became a coach. I became a taker of acting classes. I became a blogger. I became a caterer. I became an audience member. I became a New Yorker. What was missing? I didn't become the artist I always wanted to become. I didn't find/pursue/or maintain the kind of love I longed for. I didn't write a show. I didn't take control of the stage when I could. I never wrote the guitar songs I wanted to. I never spent most of my day creating.
My entire faith and trust falls into the thought that "IT ISN'T TOO LATE". I know I'm not old, but I do find myself wrestling with myself on it. I know I have so much life ahead of me. I'm smarter. I'm handsome. I'm fucking hysterical. I'm driven. I'm passionate. I'm spontaneous. I'm athletic. I have common sense. I'm inspiring. I care. I'm a wonderful human being.
So......I've made mistakes and I've been scared. When do I raise the bar?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fourth Day of Summer

The seniors are graduating tomorrow. They'll hear "starting a new chapter" and 1000 other variations on that phrase. They are starting a new chapter..... the first of a 67 chapter book. I don't have any good advice for any of them. Life sucks. What you think is right tomorrow is wrong the next day and vice versa. You'll do most of your changing in the first few years out of school, and then when you're 30 you'll say "WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING WHEN I WAS 22!!!!!!" Then you'll want to go back and kick the shit out of that person. Everything that you think will be in 5 years, won't. Everything you think will be in 10 years, won't have a chance of existing by then. You'll leave school, face the world and say "Why didn't I work harder in school?" You'll spend the next 5 years finding any single morsel of anything that will make you feel comfortable and safe.
That's the bad stuff. The inevitable. Here's my advice: If you are an artist, live the life you always wanted to live. Don't settle for mediocrity. There's enough mediocrity already out there. Fly to heights that you never even comprehended. There are no limits to what we are able to do as artists, but for some reason we choose to take the safe route. Art has become safe. Art has become a safety net in financial decisions. You are waaaaaaaay too young to be worried about the safe choices. Surprise yourselves. Surprise others. Fucking take a chance. I've sat in auditions in NYC and 95 out 100 actors make the choices they think we want to see. Fuck that. You are an individual. You are different than every other human being walking the planet. Trust yourself. Follow your heart and jump. Fill yourself with life and happiness and the trials and tribulations you face will be easier. There is no way in hell you are going to avoid them, but what are you going to do about them?
I can tell you to avoid making the same mistakes I made, but that's ALOT of avoiding. Learn from your mistakes and trust them. Always be growing as an artist. Surround yourself with brilliant people. Avoid people who make you feel less than perfect and stunt your growth. Life is too short for that. Do something everyday that will expand your heart, mind, and life. Don't take anything for granted. If it brings you happiness.....please don't take it for granted.
The problem is, I'm not talking to the graduates right now. I'm talking to every single one of you reading this. I don't care if you're 18, 25, 35, or 45. I'm speaking to the artist inside of you. Take a chance. You deserve perfection in what you want. There are enough things you will face in life that will hold you back, don't choose to collect more than you want to.
As I write this, I'm trying to speak to myself too. Telling myself I deserve everything I always dreamt I should have is the hardest thing in the world..... that's what she said. I'm a preparer. I collect things. I have stash of tools and talents that are just waiting to come out when life calls upon them to show themselves. They do present themselves and I shy away from them. I protect myself from going after something. I always think there's another day to get it done. I protect myself from truly embracing life. I'm scared. Guess what. I'm fucking scared out of my skull. Time and time again I have had beautiful opportunities show themselves or be given to me and I sabotage them. My God how I've sabotaged them. It makes me sick to my stomach the countless ways I have sabotaged them. Almost to the point that I believed I deserved nothing and that was what I deserved.
Well Jason....No More.
Here we go........

Third Day of Summer

Driving down the 408, I'm listening to Raw Dog on SiriusXM and Adam Sandler's "Mayor of Pussytown" comes on. Without thinking, I pull up to the toll booth to pay my overpriced fee. The wonderful African American woman was simply doing her job and taking my toll which was 98 cents overpriced and I was sort of bopping to the music. As she turned to give me my change, "MAYOR OF PUSSYTOWN" comes blaring out of my broken down very white speakers. We make eye contact, breaking down hundreds of years of racial inequality, more judgement on her part than mine, I give a sheepish smile, she rolls her eyes, and I cruise my pimp ride further on down Orlando's overpriced concrete.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Second Day of Summer

I walked up to my pool today in my apartment complex and I was the only one there. The water was extremely still. So still I could see the details in the things it was reflecting. It had almost a sense of ice it was so neutral. I dipped my foot in it and the ripples began. Even though I was on one far end I watched the ripples go the entire distance until there was no stillness left. The trees that seem to be painted on the water were now flowing and wafting along with the current.
This is what I do, as an actor and a teacher. I can only hope to make some sort of impact that will start minds racing, inspiration lifted, and open new doors so that the ripples will continue on and affect more and more as they leave me. It's the putting the foot in the water that can be done 100 different ways. Within the laws of physics, it doesn't matter how you disturb the water, it only matters that you do. Too many people walk around the edge and are scared of the temperature.

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Day of Summer

What does any normal 35 year old who has just finished his first year of grad school at 3pm today do at 4pm? Throw a 19 ounce steak on the grill and read David Mamet's newest book, Theatre, which pretty much negates every single thing I learned this year... or ever. Want to gain some confidence in all your acting training and how it's going to help you? Don't read this book. Want the secrets of how to become the greatest actor in the world? Don't read this book. In perfect Mamet form, the man who changed my life when I read True and False, has done it again and drilled in me the fact that an actor's job is to tell the story. That's it. Leave your ego and all the "tricks" that you've picked up and tell the fucking story.
I don't agree with everything he says, I never have, but it's always an eye opener to read his stuff. It helps get me out of my head and stop thinking so much. We tell stories and "act" all day long and say "text" and always are going after something. Although, when we get on stage, it's like we forget how to do everything going all the way down to breathing. We suck. That's why kids are such great performers. They're honest and they believe what they're saying and they don't give a fuck who Stanislavsky, Hagen, Strasberg, or Meisner are.
That's all I got right now. Happy summer. 4 months till classes begin. Oh Mamet would be so happy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh Grad School

I'm done with one year. What the fuck. What have I learned? Let's see if I can make it short:
As human beings, and artists, we try to communicate a story to someone else through behavior and speech. Everything we do with our bodies, including voice, either tells the audience what we want them to know or not. We are humans that possess an emotional life that develops everyday of our life and we have a feeling towards everything no matter how small or large that is. Over time we build habits in our bodies that protect us from feeling and being comfortable in every situation. Those habits get in the way of communicating, breathing, speaking, and sharing our emotional life with others. Grad school is to teach us how to get out of our own way when we're on stage. As actors, we are full of tensions, mannerisms, and defense mechanisms that keep us from being as true to the emotional life of the character and play that can be. Emotions and behavior are found in the breath.
In the past 20 years, I have found every possible way to protect myself from my emotions and in turn, have kept myself from feeling really bad. I have dealt with depression on and off for over 20 years. I have dealt with anxiety, fear, panic, anger, self doubt, and countless other things that have kept me from fulfilling my dreams and kept me at an arms length of everything I've ever wanted. With three weeks to go in school, some things have triggered in my body and life and I'm a vulnerable open soul that is dealing with demons of my past and living in the now. Guess what? It fucking sucks. It sucks like a prostitute in Times Square in the 80's. It sucks like the show "Shit My Dad Says". I'm now out of my head and into my body and guess what? Summer Vacation!!! Oh good! Now I have nothing to do all day but live in this open sucky state.
I'm ok. At the end of the day it doesn't kill me. It keeps me from being hyper and passionate, but that should come with time. I'm not protecting myself. Really, I don't give a fuck what other people think of me. All I care about is myself. I'm not going to stop caring about others. I will always care about others. I'm feeling. For the first time in my life, I actually feel like I'm close to being a real actor.
I've realized for the 6,876th time in my life, life isn't fair and unfortunately, it doesn't seem to get easier on the 6,877th time. It's how the hero rises from this that's important. One step at a time. One scene at a time. One breath at a time. One day at a time. One class at a time. What is my character's arch? Have I lived the best that I could have so far? Not at all and that means two things. 1) When the best does happen, the amount of happiness and excitement is more than I've ever felt in my life, and that is going to world changing 2) It's not going to be easy. Actually, it's going to be harder than I anticipated. And that my friends, scares the living shit out of me but I do, I do, I do believe in myself and know that I'm capable of accomplishing it.
I love my family.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How do I what?

"So Jason, how does that make you feel?".......... What? I don't know if you understand. I'm a 35 year old heterosexual male who watches sports, bartends, and works out. I don't feel. Or if I do, I try to repress those feelings and shove them down as low as possible. What? I'm an actor and that might be the reason I only made it as far as I have so far? What do you mean I have to start feeling? Why don't you just replay every game that a team from Cleveland has played and I'm sure I'll tap into anger, disappointment, and utter defeat. I don't think you understand, when I feel, that means I become vulnerable, and that leads to pain and confusion. If I control my feelings I can almost assure you that I'll always be happy and hysterical! I don't like that you say if I repress my feelings they're going to explode out one day and make every minute of every hour extremely difficult to get through. Oh..... so that's what's been happening these past couple weeks. I liked being silly. I don't like this real shit. I'm actually getting back to the point where I'm shoving all those feelings right back to where they can't be seen or felt again!!! Yay Jason!!!
When did it occur in my life that guys don't cry? Why do I resist feeling normal human emotions when I'm on stage? My brain is involved. I might not be as smart as my brother, but for some reason I can never turn off my brain when I get involved with something. An artist is supposed to feel from the gut. The blood, organisms, energy, and life is what dictates my work, but for some reason I feel I can outsmart everything. One of my professors told me that everything I do I relate to 9/11 and of course things don't trigger an emotion in me like that did. Let's see: I get sad when terrorists invade my city and 3,000 of my neighbors get murdered. So what is the proper emotion when my pet dies in a play? It's something that a weighted scale doesn't have much impact on.
I have to feel. I have to let myself be affected by things. I need to stop thinking my way through events. I need to let movies have an emotional effect on me other than Major League, Field of Dreams, Hoosiers, and Miracle. Maybe if I only do plays about sports I should be just fine.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trying to Figure It Out

I've been going through a ridiculous phase of depression, anxiety, and/or panic. My body has been in constant flux. I've been nauseous. I've been confused. I've been static. I've been banging my head on the wall. With a nice conversation over some sand papering of neutral masks with my buddy Alex tonight, I finally was able to set up a visual description of what has been bothering me for a week and years.
Let me try to write a description of this image I have. That sounds stupid. This isn't an answer to anything. I'm actually opening it up for description. It's how I feel right now.
I feel the life of an artist is that of a circle. More specifically a roller coaster that just spins in a circle at a pretty rapid pace. Everything we work on has a beginning and an end, then we begin, then it ends, then we begin something else, then that ends, and so on and so on. Actors who are successful go round and round with their projects but it starts as a horizontal coaster, just a few feet off the ground, it gets higher, then vertical, then higher, until you can see it off the interstate as you're approaching the amusement park and that's the ride you want to get on. I almost see the roller coaster's rising as levels on a video game. You beat that guy you get to level 2, then to level 3, and once you get to level 4, you can never go below that level if you should die. Once you get to level 10, you do anything you can not to die because you'd go all the way back to level 4.
Well here's the situation I feel I'm in. My roller coaster consists of one loop and a whole bunch of smaller loops that extend from that big loop. My car has been going around that main loop for years and years. That's my level 1 loop. It's only a few feet off the ground. I've been on that loop for a loooong time. I have been on many outside loops in the past 16 years which include, but not limited to: being on tour, living in NYC, girlfriends, playing guitar in concert, doing photography, reading, writing, singing, producing, AEA, AFTRA, countless classes, directing, choral conducting, sing doo wop, theory, projects, movies, tv shows, books, physical training, working with kids, bartending, meeting people, and many other things that have occupied my days, months, and years. The thing that pisses me off is that none of my outside loops have exceeded level 4 and beyond. As written in my previous entry, what I've noticed is that my mistakes and minimal drive to follow through with things has kept me from raising the levels on any of them. I go round and round on one of them and eventually get shot back to the Level 1 main loop that by now, feels like a chaffed ass on a hot summer day.
My frustration is my inability to really strengthen any of my specifics. That's not exactly what my frustration is, it's the fact that I hold every possible thing I need to succeed in doing that but somehow find a way not to. Is it the fear of success? Do I believe I should be completely happy? Do I fear growing older? Do I sabotage myself? Do I have too many interests and can't focus on just one? Am I scared to fail? Why do I continuously think that it will get done one day and not believe and trust that today could be the day? That last question stings me. I procrastinate better than anyone I know, almost to the point that I hijack my progress, and ultimately, the career I could have had.
I'm amazing when I have a deadline. I might just hire someone to be a full time professor and life coach and punish me when I don't follow through. Actually, that sounds like a dominatrix and that's for something totally different.
I'm sick of watching people pass me up and succeed while I stay one step behind for whatever reason I can come up with. It's my fault. I keep that car on the level 1 loop and it goes around and around and it's starting to make me very sick. I strive for stimulus and a new loop, and then I avoid it or ruin it. It's not every day when you can map out the wrongdoings of your life. Then turn around and get scared that you've seen a lot of years pass by and you didn't hop on for the ride. Everybody says that 35 isn't old, but lately I've been feeling just a tad bit slower on trusting the fact that everything is going to work out the way it should be. What is that "should be"? I don't know.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm What Age??

I haven't been inspired to write in a while even though everything is bat shit crazy here. Then today, I got a message that made my brain flood out. My friend from Otterbein, Celina, is celebrating her 35th birthday today. I celebrated mine back in February. Celina texted me and reminded me that back in college (when texting didn't exist), we made a pact that we would get married when we were 35 if neither of us were by then. Holy shit. That's today. Here were two kids, maybe 20-22 years old, sitting in the palace, or in a fog of smoke at Jonda, or walking to the PIT catch some disease from the carpet, and were thinking waaaaaay ahead to the future when we would be old and figured it would be unheard of to be unmarried at 35. Wow. If something happened today that was the universe telling me something, it was this.
What do we think at the end of college? We're going to marry someone we already know, we're going to get a job in something that we've been studying for the past 4 years, and we have the tools to face any challenge that we come across. Well I wish someone would've taken a frozen deer and bashed me over the head at that moment. I'm 35. I'm fucking 35! What have I been doing for the past 13 years? If this was an essay question on a test, I'd simply answer "I don't know". A lot of significant events and absence o events stick out in my mind. I remember being in NYC. I remember seeing a whole bunch of shows that I couldn't tell you the first thing about, I dated some girls, I made a lot of money, I met thousands of people, I traveled around the city and saw anything and everything. I toured for almost 5 years. I saw the country. I saw the world. I did tv. I did movies. I produced. I directed. I taught. I was a trainer. I was a bartender. I figure I was in NYC for almost 4,400 days of my life. I want one of those days back.
I hate to say this, but I feel I've wasted so much time. I feel like I'm 35 going on 22. I have found a way to let the world move forward and somehow I feel like I sat there and watched it go by. 4,400 days! It's a blur. I moved there to be an actor and I got scared. I found stability and I punked out. I should be able to list 4400 things that I did to work my way UP the ladder, but I feel like I have 3,000 things that have made me a stationary jogger.
I think I sabotage myself so I don't move forward. I focus on my mistakes. I focus on what has held me back. I live my life always believing I WILL do something. EVENTUALLY I will get to something. When does that stop for me? It makes me cry. I sometimes stand isolated and the only phrase that rolls around in my head is "I am a waste". I know what my potential is and I'm nowhere near it and I refuse to do anything about it. I'm not even doing anything now. I'm writing about not doing anything! One of the things I want to do is write!
35 is approaching 40 and that scares the living shit out of me. Gas is almost 4 dollars a gallon. That scares the living shit out of me. Watching the news scares the shit out of me. Listening to firings, layoffs, tuition increases, lower test scores, economy struggles, partisan politics, insurance problems, hatred, death, cutbacks, closings and all other things that will affect me scares the shit out of me.
For some reason, the whole world came crashing down on me this week and I realized I don't think I have what it takes to make it. I have big ideas and dreams and I don't trust myself to follow them through. It frustrates me to all hell because it's all on me. There's a part of me that knows no matter how hard I work, it doesn't matter. I'm being swallowed up by a large void and I have dropped my weapons and have stopped fighting. I have so many things that have been considered successes that I have either not followed through with or destroyed. I have things that I have put an effort into that I have stopped short doing. I have things I want to do and have worldly ideas for that I have never begun. Of the three, which do I even begin to take on as a challenge?
Here is the 35 year old, looking back on myself at 22 and saying "Jason, you have no clue. You're going to make mistake after mistake. The problem is you will have trouble learning from them. At 35, you'll still feel like you do at 22 but only with more physical and emotional scars, more stories, more experience, and things are going to be more expensive." Celina and I thought 35 was going to be major marker in our lives, but actually is a crater in the war ground of my life and I've got my head down and keep charging and hope to kill some enemy along the way.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda.......Well I want it back. I should have done this. I could have done that. I would have done that. These phrases go through my head way too many times in a day. I know it's wrong, but I don't seem to change the pattern. And why? Because I know what the past was about. I know I survived it. I know what I liked and didn't like...... But the future fucking scares me. I know I'm going to continue to make mistakes and that hurts me so much. I've made enough mistakes for 300 lifetimes. I'm a mistake machine.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spring Break

What? I have a spring break starting tomorrow night? The last one of those I celebrated was in 1998 when my frat brothers and I went down to Fort Lauderdale. Now, 13 years later, Im living in Florida and going up north where it's cold for my spring break! Yeah, the only nudity I'll see next week is the Naked Cowboy in Times Square. Im half way done with my second semester and I feel graduation is right around the corner. Holy Shit. Then what? I guess I'll have to become a teacher so I can get another spring break. This time..maybe....Kansas!! Ooooooh, Kansas in March!!!
I'm heading to NYC on Saturday. I have so many mixed emotions about it that it doesn't even seem real right now. The last time I was in NY was early June. I couldn't have packed my car fast enough because the next few months were going to be extra perfect and the few years after that were going to be even better. Well that all went to hell and I feel the good memories of NYC died with it. I wasted a lot of time in NY doing nothing. I was there for 12 years and saw and experienced about 10% of the art I should have. But that's in the past. I live for the present. What's going on right now? I want to go there. See some friends. See some shows. Laugh. Remember. Walk. Run. Jump on crowded subways. Push my way through Times Square. Go to my favorite places that only real New Yorkers know about. Hopefully see my buddy who defines the word friendship, Derek O'ShitHead. Possibly get a crack whore to give me a handy on 10th Ave for free because she digs my personality.
This will be the first time I can remember that I will be in NYC with absolutely no agenda. I won't have to go to one of my 4 jobs. I have no auditions....planned. I won't have money weighing down my brain for every step I take. I might actually experience NYC the way it should be experienced next week. I might wake up and decide to go to a museum. Why? Because I don't have jack sit to do. Of course I have a paper on Martin McDonagh, a paper on Sam Shepard, and a shitload of music to learn for when I get back. But hey, if that city can't fucking empower me and inspire me, where else can it? I realize I'm cussing a lot more. I think my brain realizes I'm going home.
I want to see Spiderman get stuck. I want to sit on the third floor of my bar after we close and bullshit with everyone till morning. I want to walk through Central Park. I want to take hundreds of pictures through the eyes of someone who hasn't seen the place in a while. I want a NY slice!! I want to hear my favorite barbershop quartet on the 4/5 train. I want to sit in the nasty seats of UCB and laugh harder than I've ever laughed at a scripted show. I want to walk the streets and wonder, "what happened to 22 year old Jason? Where did his dreams go? Where did the time go? How did he end up in Florida 12 years later? What is that smell? Why didn't I see more shows? Did I make out with that girl at one time? Where did my acting and auditioning go wrong? Will I realize how good it is being in Florida? Will I notice the things that drove me crazy about the acting, talent, and business continuously flying around me? " I'm afraid I'll see a show or workshop or showcase and shake every last actor and say, "You're in NYC, be the best actor you can be and don't accept anything less. Because right now, you suck ass!" Yeah, there's my New York attitude!!!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thank you

Kindergarten: Miss Heartline which we wrote with a heart and a line because we didnt know how to spell. She caught me chewing gum one day and scolded me silently. I still remember that.
First Grade: Miss Buchman. I've heard she's passed away. I remember my favorite Halloween party was in that class.
Second Grade: Mrs. Floehr. One of my favorites of all time. At the age of 7, I learned how to be sarcastic, loving, and disciplinary at the same time. I remember her writing my name on the board when I did something bad. God, I hated getting my name on the board. And a checkmark? Crap!
Third Grade: Ms. Fyffe. The first year of what we would know about standardized tests. Also, Christmas Carol with George C Scott came out that year and we read the script along with the movie. The first of 3000 scripts I would read with passion.
Fourth Grade: Miss Orsborne. I thought I was sneaky and changed a punctuation mark on a quiz and she gave me credit for it. I still remember that. I actually feel bad about that. I also remember making the largest Indian Burial ground as a project. We also watched the Challenger explosion in that class.
Fifth Grade: Mr. Cook. Finally a male teacher! Woody Hayes died while I was in fifth grade. We played the longest game of taking wagons across the country on a big map on the wall. I remember my wagon made it across safe. I remember decorating pumpkins and having to write a creative story about the pumpkin and its personality. I also remember that damn movie about making doughnuts and how it changes if you type in 100 and add a zero it makes 1000. The hilarity came from those 900 extra doughnuts!! It made me crave doughnuts the rest of my life. Started playing guitar that year.
Sixth Grade: Mrs. Hoeflinger. One of my favs. Still keep in touch with her to this day. Started playing trumpet that year. Made a video about something which she'll remember. Ah, 1987. The invention of the VHS. I remember her saying she knew Mandy Fox was going to be a great actress back in 6th grade. I wanted the same kind of compliment. I craved it.
Ms. Haddad and Mrs. Fullen: My art teachers through elementary school. Mrs Fullen implanted the music bug in me. Ms. Haddad let me learn the concept of creating. Which I took hold and went crazy with it.
Middle School: Ah, puberty. Learned sex education. Learned the physical aspects of it. They left out all of the emotional and mental bullshit that comes along with it. Mrs. Christianson had Pat and I do my first real acting scene. I was Tom Cruise from Rain Man... of course I was. We did Christmas Carol in 8th grade. Pat was Ebenezer Scrooge. I had a bit part. I was pissed. Not at Pat, but taught me early that this business sucks.
High School: Mr and Mrs Brenneman. The two people who I hate more than anyone because they made me become addicted to this thing we call performing. They took me at a time where I was slightly interested, and flooded me with music, theater, performing, and learning that art was more than just getting applause. The music and theater program at my high school was/is more advanced and more organized than a lot of colleges around the country. I remember Robin taking me into her office and giving me her honest opinion about who I was as an actor and my possibilities. She told me once I found myself and my own voice, I would be unstoppable. We did more literature, concerts, plays, programs, events, entertainment, and practice time in high school than some actors do in a lifetime. They are 2 of my closest friends in the world.
It was here that Mr. Shepard let me have free reign in my creative writing class. Ms. Chase challenged me every day to not just memorize the facts about politics, but actually know it. Mr. Winland gave me cramps in my writing hand, Mrs. Bower taught me comprehension, Mrs. Vance taught me the superiority of technical design and professional expectations (and accepted nothing less than perfection in my writing), Mr. Smith and Mr Blackstone taught me the basics of the gym and health which I use to this day, Mrs Hensley and Mrs O'Shaughnessy who I owe everything and more to, Mr Snider, Mrs Felch and Mr Bay who taught me that I'll hate math for the rest of my life, and Mr K and Mrs Gottliebson who taught me stuff about theater that has stayed with me all these years.
Dr Johnson at Otterbein College who I feel I owe my life, success, and my first child to. Not only did he teach me about music, but how to live life as an artist. How to run a class, expect the best out of people, and not to accept shit from students who should be doing better. Ed Vaughan, Dennis Romer, John Stefano, Chris Kirk, Stella, and Robert Behrens taking a guy who worked off his instincts and knew the rough outline of acting and trying to make something of me.
Now I'm back in school, as a grad student. In just a few months, I've dusted off the cobwebs and learned how to go about learning to develop my craft again. Thank you Kate Ingram, Tad Ingram, Chris Niess, Be Boyd, Julia Listengarten, Earl Weaver, Jim Brown, and Mark Brotherton for taking a chance on this 35 year old and beating the crap out of my bad habits and showing me new ways of looking at things that I've been studying for decades. A special shout out to David Lee who I was fortunate enough to TA for and left the semester with a stronger vocabulary, literature compilation, and being able to talk NY theater and art with a familiar Hell's Kitchen citizen. Even though I didn't even participate in the class, his words and lessons penetrated this sponge of knowledge I'm dealing with and just showed me you never know who you're affecting as a teacher.
That's the point of this blog. Here are a list of teachers and professors that have changed my life and educated me in order for me to change others. I didn't even go through the teachers I had to get my personal training certification, my acting coaches, voice coaches, audition coaches, etc. There is a power that teachers possess that is magical. We're all going to leave this earth one day. What are we going to leave on this earth is what is important. Teachers do that. They have so many students they don't realize what word, sentence, lesson, or advice they give that changes the path of a student forever. Teachers should get paid like athletes and actors. If you're really really good, you should be making 20 million a year. Thank you for every minute that every teacher has ever spent with me. I'm grateful for everything you have done for me and hope every student that has sat in front of you appreciates you as much.