Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013: My Own Private IMDB


FILMS



Most of the movies I worked on came out this year. Some featured me prominently and others cut me out altogether. Here are the ones where I got at least a few frames of face time:

My brief stint as a Beautiful Creature (Beautiful Creatures — 2/15)
Besides the twin perils of dehydration and heatstroke, we also learned that there would be real explosions. One of those explosions, which can be seen in the trailers, hurt my ears and rained sawdust all over my face. Also, despite being warned not to aim our rifles straight but upward (especially the guys behind my front row), someone shot their blank straight ahead behind someone's head. That person wasn't hurt, but it did lead to our commander yelling at that person. No one slipped up after that. (Incidentally, that particular take for me was the awesomest.)

A movie worth self-examining (The Hot Flashes — 8/24)
Unfortunately, none of my uncharacteristically crack pool-shooting got in. But they did make me appear to have at least some rhythm. Hollywood is magic.


Ian infects another film (Pawn Shop Chronicles — 9/10)
This movie shouldn't have been direct-to-DVD. On the other hand, maybe it is destined to be a cult film. I don't know. I'm the kind of guy who tends to like the flavor of chips they pull from the shelves due to lack of demand. I'm also heavily biased toward most of my own movies. Though again, this one is pretty strong by itself. And you can trust my word, because I'm barely in any shots here.


This scene, which starts with Mark Wahlberg talking on a cellphone in a diner and pans to Denzel Washington across the street (with me striding in between), opens the film. In fact, I was present to watch nearly the entire pre-title sequence being filmed.


Bonnie & Clyde & Ian (Bonnie & Clyde — 12/10)
At night, we shot a festival scene at a gazebo, which is disrupted by our titular outlaws and their friends, who shoot a pair of cops dead and peel off in stolen period cars. I was all over the gazebo scene, visiting with friends, clapping at the dancers while leaning on a column and at one point even taking someone's place in the band. Then I react to the gunshots and run off screaming with my fake girlfriend while dodging the getaway car. None of that got in the final print, except for part of my scream.


I met Markie Post on the set of "Christmas on the Bayou." She's very friendly and approachable, and probably the most famous actor ever to say my name.
PERSONAL INSIGHT

I added Nevada, Oregon and Washington to my personal been-there map in 2013. And refreshed California.
My immediate reaction to the tweet was not laughter, but neither was it outrage. And this is where I'll defend The Onion. In the aftermath, people reacted exactly how they’d be absolutely justified to react had some misogynist pedophile said the same thing. Or a politician. Or anyone else whose stock in trade isn’t provocative comedy.

My magnum ordinary opus was a show that I (and I'd imagine millions of Americans) would watch even today: Ordinary Wrestling. The concept was simple: pro wrestling with celebrities. And I don't mean those WWE cameos where a famous person shows up and gets dramatically fake-demolished between rounds — I mean, real celebrities get real pummeled. Because to my elementary brain, wrestling was real. And apparently, I thought anyone could do it.

Ultimately, the only experiences we can know 100 percent are those that happen to ourselves. But since time began, that hasn't stopped us from trying to relate to one another. Some people don't even try. Others do try and get rebuffed by those they're trying to understand.

People are like video games. And there are two types of video games.

At our first hotel, the toilet flooded on the first flush. I called for maintenance, only to be told that there was no maintenance working that night. I asked for a plunger and the desk clerk said they didn't have a plunger. She offered us a new room. I accepted but informed her that the toilet was still surging and was likely to flood the room. After several seconds of thought, this clicked with her. "OH!" She rushed to find a plunger. When she returned a few minutes later, plunger in hand, she asked me why I was there. I pointed to the plunger. "OH!"

My life has been a constant chorus of, “You missed out.” In practically every situation I’ve ever been in, someone who preceded me is there to wistfully reminisce about the glory days that are now over. Apparently, I was born too late to experience anything at its peak. If they’re to be believed, of course.


Let's talk about motivation. A mother with a GED working two full-time jobs to feed her children is highly motivated. I'm motivated to excel in everything I do — my writing, my career, my friendships, my self-improvement — regardless of the financial reward involved. The people pushing the cruelest absolutes about success are motivated by a fat pocketbook and ego. Most people are brimming with motivation in some form. The question is, are we as a nation ensuring that such motivation is properly channeled?

Whenever I'm tempted to go crazy with the camera, especially at public events, I remind myself that those pictures will be less interesting than the memories. You might think you're saying, "Look where I was sitting when Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham connected on that touchdown," but really you're adding, "I was taking a picture of it. Hoping not to cheer too hard and ruin the shot." Don't worry. Plenty of others are doing it far better than you. And who knows — you might get in the professional shot too. That's something that will endure forever. Do you want to be remembered as a cheering fan, or as just another obscured face behind a smartphone?

The mistake is to assume that, when I received the participation trophy, I thought of it as the championship cup. Even when I was six and seven years old, getting trophies for showing up for T-ball, I didn't think any differently of those than I did about my jersey and the team picture. It was just another cool, colorful piece of evidence that I'd been part of that team.

There are people I'd throw out of my home immediately if they showed up on Thanksgiving. Strangers brandishing knives, for example. A friend with an apple pie will be accepted very, very warmly. Why? Because I love apple pie. Hell, even if they bring food I don't like instead, or nothing at all, they're still more than welcome. And not just on Thanksgiving, but any day. Because I'm not a jerk!

Let the funeral reflect my life. By that I mean, fast-paced, cheap and chill. I didn’t live my life listening to hymns, so don’t play any at my funeral. Play Coldplay’s “Clocks” or “The Only Moment We Were Alone” by Explosions in the Sky if you want an accurately poignant song. If you absolutely must quote from the Bible, quote the parts about love, peace and being a religious hypocrite. Better yet, quote the AP Stylebook. That’s the journalist’s bible (and one that truly guided my actions and stoked my fears).

So you could say my clean-shaven face is not a sign of being unable to shoulder the weight of being a man, but a tribute to the ultra-modern 1980s.

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