Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Kinds of Shoot

Yesterday I fired off several dozen rounds with a Springfield XD9 and got my handgun safety certificate. During the classroom session, I sometimes felt that the life-size cardboard cutout of John Wayne was staring at me like I didn't belong. But I passed the test and even managed to hit the center of the target a few times. Take that, Duke. It was only my second time firing a handgun and my first with a semiautomatic (as part of an acting gig, I fired a 1903 Colt 38 single-action revolver). I was worried that I'd be too nervous to shoot straight, but by the time we'd had all the safety instruction and gone through a few dry-firing sessions, I felt pretty comfortable. There seemed to be one instructor for every two or three students on the firing line, and they made darned sure the only time any students were holding a loaded firearm was when they were facing the target and preparing to fire. On the previous day, I worked on an instructional video project called Treasure Your Marriage, in which I got to complain about my wife's compulsive cleaning and organizing. If only I had a wife like that, my life would be so much easier. Well, maybe not easier, but probably cleaner and more organized.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mob Rules

When I asked the attendant about parking for Deal Or No Deal, she gave me a quizzical look. Stupid parking attendant, I thought. She ought to know the name of the show. Certainly other contestants have already arrived. “The game show,” I prompted her, “at the studio.” “Oh,” she responded, a look of sudden realization on her face. “You want the next entrance over.” I thanked her and drove to the next entrance, marked by a yellow sign reading 1 vs. 100, the actual name of the show I was there to participate in. I'm really not prepared for this, I realized. In my defense, I did wake up at 4 a.m. in order to make it to the studio on time. How is anyone supposed to be smart after waking up while it's still dark out? Oh, sure, emergency room surgeons do it all the time, but they aren't dealing with the stress of being on a game show. And as I've already written, I'm not a regular viewer and it wasn't my idea to be on the show. As it turns out, it wasn't anyone's idea for me to be on the show that day. For this episode, they wanted two mobs, one all male and one all female. The men were all given name tags, some of which had blue dots on them. The blue dot people were made mob members right away. Then they asked for men over 6 feet tall (missed it by that much. Then, they took men whose tags had a 1 or a 2 as the last digit. Mine had a 4. There were no 5s. I'm not sure if the numbers were randoms, or the 4 meant they really thought I sucked. Maybe it related to the 3.5 I got at the audition? In any case, I was again sent home before the day was over. Before I left, someone explained that all the people with blue dots had been there once before and were called back, and that's why they got preference this time around, and the same thing could happen to us. So that blew our theory that the blue dot meant they blew the casting director.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Life and Death Concerns

I went to an American Red Cross CPR and first aid class today and as I was watching the demonstration videos, a couple of very important questions occured to me, namely, who are these people and how much did they get paid? Some of the performers may well have been ARC employees, while others almost had to be professional actors. Some of the vignettes were simple demonstrations that were done very straight and without emotion and some of them were staged to simulate real-life situations. Of the latter, some were performed a little lethargically, but that may well have been a directorial choice to keep theatrics to a minimum so as not to interfere with the instructional purpose of the videos. Still, others were very effective and even occasionally moving. I thought the heat exhaustion farm workers and hypothermia fishermen were particularly good. So, it had me wondering if the Red Cross had some sort of SAG waiver like the film schools that allows them to use a mixture of union and non-union actors, and if so, what if anything they pay them. Or if they produce some of the videos in-house as a non-signatory and contract out the rest to a company that has signed a SAG agreement. These are the things I think about now. (Lest anyone think that's all I thought about today, I got 100 percent on my written exam and am now certified in first aid and CPR).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Rushin' This Literature

In preparation for a dramatic reading of The Dybbuk, I ordered an Ansky anthology from an online bookstore. I was about $5 short of the minimum to qualify for free shipping, so I searched for something to buy for $5 or less. In the mix with a bunch of questionable titles I'd never heard of was an acknowledged classic: The Brothers Karamazov. What the heck, I thought, I'm basically getting a free book. Upon delivery, I breezed through The Dybbuk in one sitting. Then, I turned with some apprehension to the heftier tome: 700+ pages of smallish print with narrow margins. Well, I told myself, it's a classic, so it must be worth the effort. Then I read the author's introduction, in which Dostoevsky basically apologizes for writing such a uninteresting story about such an unexceptional proagonist but assures the reader that it's a necessary prelude to the second part of the story, which will be much more interesting, honest. The problem with that is that he never got around to writing The Brothers Karamazov II: Alyosha Strikes Back, or whatever it was supposed to be. No, he took the easy way out and died, leaving me with 700+ pages of prologue.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Joining the Mob

A few weeks ago a certain female acquaintance convinced me to trying out for the game show 1 vs. 100 — “coerced” might be more accurate; I can still here the crack of the whip reverberating in my mind. She was positive I could not only make it on the show, but make big money doing it. Now, it's true that I did win a couple of times on Jeopardy!, but that was way back in the 20th century, when I was younger and smarter than I am now, and I had been watching that show since the Art Fleming days (so I must not have been that young), whereas I've never actually seen an entire episode of this one. By the time I finally caved in and drove down to Culver Studios, the auditions were almost over. I didn't even have time to complete the entry form, and when they whisked me in for the personal interview, questions such as “What was the funniest thing that ever happened to you?” and “What interesting thing about you should we know?” were still left blank. So I realized I had about 30 seconds to convince a stranger that I was actually an interesting person worthy of being on the show (kind of like a commercial audition, actually). After a few words back and forth, she wrote “3.5” on my application and turned to the next person on line. I'm a 3.5? Someone looked at me, talked to me, and summed me up as 3.5? Hopefully that's not out of 100. Then we walked on to the set of “Deal or No Deal.” Had I mixed up my game shows? No, turns out the same production company does both and for some reason they had at the DoND set. No models were present on the staircase, however. We took a written test, which seemed to me very heavy on pop culture. (Apparently, everyone but me knew Hannah Montana is Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter.) So I wasn't too surprised when I wasn't asked to stay for the next part of the audition, but my dark muse seemed rather disappointed when I notified her via cell phone. Anyway, yesterday I got a call on that very same cell phone. Although my incomplete application form, 3.5 rating and ignorance as to which reality show was produced by Heidi Klum may have disqualified from being the 1, I am apparently good enough to be one of the 100. So I guess I better watch the show this Friday, and study up on my recent Grammy winners.