Thursday, March 28, 2013


One of my fav principles is that the hardest part of any project is thinking of it in the first place.  This is never truer than for myself.  In the past I’ve actually made from 3X5 cards a “slap pack” of questions to try to push me out of my habitual comfort zone.  This time (slap forehead) it occurred to me that though I’d started two blogs for my acting professor at NU, Alvina Krause, a noted teacher now receding into the past, I had never looked for any blogs about acting.  So --

The first on the list was    You can tell this list of ten blogs was not composed by a techie because there are no links.  But by cut-and-paste I went to  so now you have a link to a stunning array of vids by Brent Rose, an actor I knew nothing about but will surely watch for now.  He had a gig on “Wallstrip,” a satirical video blog that was bought by CBS which failed to support it enough for it to continue.  The crash of Wall Street might have had something to do with that.

But in the process Rose had learned to do short vids both as a writer and as an actor.  (He can also do “low trapeze” work and he surfs.)  These days he’s on Gizmodo, writing and researching.  I had to look it up.  It’s a handheld game console.  Then I read this “truth-is-stranger-than-fiction” story:  Yikes!  I’m watching the Danish crime series “The Eagle” in the evening but this story is MUCH wilder and more dangerous.  Luckily Steve Rose is working for GIZMODO -- notice the missing “N” -- which reviews tech gadgets.  That’s different.  Something like what Pogue does for the NYTimes.  Gizmondo literally crashed; Gizmodo is still in operation.

Before the Gizmodo gig, Rose used his formidable skills to create 50in50, which is an entrepreneurian actor showcase.  His self-assignment is to create a quality video about five minutes long every week.  No need to be an actor to appreciate these.  Here are his rules, which he DOES obey:  

1. I am never allowed to half-ass it.
2. I have to fully commit to my choices.
3. I have to do it every week.

His own success appears to have left him five episodes short of his goal of fifty, but even the “favorites” selection is pretty amazing, FAR more versatile than anything a person could find on commercial TV.  He is joined by other actors, the videos are skillfully edited, and none of them are idle.  

Some examples:  an exploration of the vaulted concrete tunnels under some building, long-abandoned.  (How many of these must there be in the world?)  There are two twists: instead of carrying flashlights, the character lights the way with a highway flare; and the character sees these eerie spaces as an opportunity to survive world catastrophe by starting a sheltered family down here.

A lyrical account of a marital relationship interspersing realistic monologues by the man and woman with the same people on a trapeze, alone or together, dancing their way through the same relationships.

A cheesy con-artist PR man in Hollywood trying to convince a film actor to do something outrageous in order to give his career a boost.  In the end, he provokes the actor so much that the actor attacks him -- “Great!” declares the PR man.  “That will do it!”

Another, much more high-octane, con-artist who plans to end his life is making his last wishes and bequests known while he gets quietly drunk at the dining room table.  He’s addressing his family -- actually two families who don’t know about each other -- and telling them a lot of other outrageous things they didn’t know about.

A mop-top free spirit from Middle America who joins a wild parade -- this MUST be SF, eh? and interacts with the crowd.   He strips, but not all the way.  The other majorly startling parade participant is “PigMan,” riding a unicycle, in a pink leotard that sports fake but realistic genitalia. His support person, a practical guy, shows he can dance also. 

Others:  A totally offensive pitch for effing people -- shallow, predatory, and all-too-recognizable guide for how to get rich.  A paranoid “little red obsessing hood” explains why we should fear the Internet coming alive.   A studly rock star and his devotees -- unmasked by his guitar teacher and doing a take-down on parcours.  Do not watch this if you’ve recently had stitches because the laughing will probably cause them to tear.

This is the sort of thing that takes a sophisticated and serious mind to do -- satire that’s actually about something, usually the newsflow of the urban world.   There are no cowboys that I could see, let alone wheat ranchers.  Let that be a suggestion to you.  If you can keep a combine running, you can learn to make and edit videos.  After all, sitting up there in the machine you’ve got all that time to think while the computer monitors your planting and the stock market.  Of course, you’ll be too tired to make vids during the growing season, but there’s always winter.  

I didn’t find any serious vids, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a serious guy.  Quoting:   “I'm going to try for the very short version here. I was riding my bike in the Park around 7 tonight when I saw four dudes beating the shit out of one guy. So I stopped and basically got in between them, trying to defuse the situation. The main asshole (roughly my size) [Ed: Brent is a pretty big dude, for a tech writer] popped me one, and I basically snapped, threw down my bike and wrestled him to the ground. Unfortunately his three asshole buddies jumped in, punching and kicking me in the head and neck (got my face a little, too). Luckily, I was wearing my bike helmet [Ed: Safety first!] or I might not be writing this from home. All in all, I'm okay. They arrested the four assholes, and I had to go to the police station, and then to the hospital for stitches, etc.  So, I'm basically fine: five stitches above my eye, some skin off my elbow, some gnarly bruises on my forehead, and a seriously sore neck. The doctors said I'm probably going to feel like shit for the next few days, which I'm betting is true. So, I'd like to work from home tomorrow, is what I'm saying.”

What those punks didn’t know is that Brent, like many other actors, has had training in stage combat (unarmed, rapier and broadsword), yoga, Hip-Hop, and ballet.  He has the moves and the muscles.  Beyond that, he’s acted with the NYC Upright Citizens Brigade improv company.  He’s got the mind and the motivation.  He’s a Neo-Elizabethan with a bike helmet.  What a role model!!!

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