Monday, November 30, 2009

Lights Out


I had an Audition. It was for an Ace Hardware Commercial. The premise was a man painting his Deck and talking about how he wants to get the job done quickly and spend time with his family. The Boy was with me and wanted in on the action so I held him while I “acted”. As the words “spend time with my family” were flying out of my mouth the boy rested his head on my shoulder. The guy running the camera laughed his head off. When did The Boy learn to act? Who’s fooling whom here?

I told this story to another actor. He told me acting was the family business. It’s only natural that after almost two years of going to Daddy’s Auditions that he would pick up on the craft himself. If I were a plumber, The Boy would, of course, learn how to plumb. It doesn’t mean he will grow up to be a plumber. I love that idea.

Later that night at the dinner table Beautiful Bride told The Boy that she was going to make chocolate chip cookies. I took that as a cue to play out a big miming routine. I put pretend cookie dough on an imaginary baking sheet. The Boy seemed puzzled by this. I opened up the fake oven door and placed the imaginary baking sheet carefully into the preheated fake oven. This put a troubled expression on The Boy. I set my fictitious timer for ten minutes and it immediately sounded a make believe buzzer. The Boy tried not to giggle at my concocted alarm and remained stern. I then scraped the pretend cookies off of the imaginary baking sheet onto a make believe plate. I blew on the mythically hot pretend cookies and cautioned The Boy to wait until they mythically cooled. He waited about five seconds with a real blank expression. He then picked up the make believe plate of pretend cookies and threw it across the actual room.

At bath time we played motorboat. I submerged my lips in the water and blew to create the sound and wake of an actual motorboat. The Boy laughed and filled up a cup with bath water and poured it over my head. I made sinking noises as if it were a direct hit and the motorboat would be lost. I filled my mouth up with the bath water and sprayed it along the tiled wall as I let my head sink further down. Mercifully, the giggling Boy grabbed my head from the abyss and saved the motorboat from pending doom. We played this out about ten times before I gave him to his Mother BB to prepare for bed. As BB was about to put on his pajama bottoms she asked The Boy to go pee pee. “I already did go pee pee in the bathtub, Mommy.” He said.

At the callback for Ace Hardware, some days later, The Boy did not want to have any of it. The Director asked me to bring Boy with me so I did. As I tried to say my lines this time, the Boy screamed “No Talking Daddy!” over and over again. I flubbed my lines and started to feel a panic come over me. I picked him up for the next take and he proceeded to flail his arms and legs pleading, “No touch my body!” Another blown take. Finally I occupied him with one of his racecars. He drove the car along the wall in the back of the room while I at last started to get through a good performance. Suddenly all the lights went out in the room. The Boy shut the lights off. Everyone laughed. On the long walk home I felt shell-shocked. How could something go so wrong? The Boy was oblivious to all my internal drama and we played the rest of the day away. I quietly mourned the lost opportunity and income.

The next day I booked the Ace Hardware Commercial. The day after that my agent called and asked if I’d be willing to allow The Boy to be in the Commercial with me, because they want to book him too. I said, “YES!” We will be filming it this week.

I’m speechless!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Confessions of a Phone Head


Just because the phone is ringing doesn’t mean I’m home.


If I call you and leave a message, I’m very upset if you don’t call me right back.


If you call me and leave a message and I don’t call you right back. I will probably forget so don’t be upset.


Landline rings, I ignore it. Cell phone rings two seconds later, I ignore it and feel resentment towards whoever is “tracking me down”.


What can the word “ring” mean to the Boy? The phone doesn’t ring. It plays popular tunes associated with the caller.


Here are some of my “ring” tones.

“Amazed” by Lonestar-Beautiful Bride (our Wedding song)

“Maniac”-Mom

“Rehab”- all my friends back east

“Unforgettable”- Whatsisname

“Sexy Back”- for when I call myself

“Like a Virgin”-Grandma

“Glory Glory Hallelujah” – My Agent


The other day the boy and I were in the car and “Amazed” by Lonestar came on the radio. He went nuts because I didn’t pick up the phone. “Mommy Ring, Daddy!” he yelled.


I remember Rotary phones and that’s beginning to date me.


I remember not having to dial the darn area code every time I make a call.


I remember my family’s number was HIckory4-4789. What the heck does HIckory mean?


I have no tolerance for people who drive and talk on their cell phone.


Imagine Rotary Dial Texting. It’s easy if you try.


Why do people still say “Are you there? Pick up!” when they are leaving a message? Don’t they know that those answering machines don’t exist anymore?


I constantly drive and talk on my cell phone.


I don’t like when I’ve waited in line and the employee answers the phone. They look at me like I should understand that the customer that stayed home and dialed their phone is more important than the one who showered and dressed and drove all the way to the store. I stay in line and call them with my cell.


I used to worry about keeping the cell phone between my legs as I drive. Now, that I see that the Boy is ten times smarter than I am, I make all my cell phone calls while sitting on the microwave with all the Wi-Fi antennas pointing at me.


My choice in careers has exacerbated my phone issues.

I hear the first ring and I’m thrilled by the possibilities. I see on the caller ID that it is an old dear friend or loved one or wife, my heart sinks. When I see that it’s my agent, my heart leaps out of my chest.

When I am on hold for a job it gets worse. Every five minutes I’m checking the phone. If I’m home alone I stare at it intensely and try to conjure up magical powers to make it ring.


I wish there was a phone dependency hotline. I would call it constantly.


I apologize to all my friends and family who have fallen victim to my terrible phone etiquette over the years.


Simply put, I hope my Boy doesn’t inherit any of my bad habits. I need to teach my child better than myself!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SILLY FACES FINALE

video

A film of fun with Boy and Spodaddy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Auditions

“What does Daddy do at Auditions?” I asked Ryan last night.

Without skipping a beat he said “Hello!” I recognized myself immediately in the way he said it. He didn’t make me sound phony but there was an elevated tone of sincerity that I know is my “on” voice. I was amazed at his insight. I was amazed at how much he is absorbing and learning when we are together. How strange it must be for him to watch his Daddy anxiously get ready to go into these rooms and play pretend with strangers. He obviously sees how much I love what I do and at the same time registers my anxiety over wanting to get hired and make money.

How strange it is for me as well.

I had a Voice Over Audition the other day to be the voice of Bud Light. Ryan was restless that day and, where he is usually content to sit in his chair and watch The Wiggles on our portable DVD player, this day he needed to go in to the recording booth with me. There must have been something in the way I said “Bud Light” as I read the script because it triggered a turrets like response in Ryan. So as I would say the words “Bud Light” he started to say it too. He screamed it, actually, over and over again. I had one of those “I can’t believe this is my life” moments as I looked down at him tearing through a box of tissues that were placed neatly there for other actors singing “Bud Light, Bud Light Bud Light Bud Light”. I tried to coax and cajole him to be quiet but to no avail. I then would stop and repeat a sentence if he screamed over it. By the end it was up to the person recording me to try to edit the toddler that sounded like he was drunk from Bud Light out of the Bud Light Audition.

Then there was the callback for “Walgreens”. Ryan sat quietly out of camera shot, smiled and charmed the room full of Producers, Director and Product People. When I was finished he said goodbye to the room and they all fell in love with him. I booked that one so look for me in a “Walgreens” commercial on a TV screen near you.

There was also the Home Depot Audition. On that one he sat with me and rested his head on my shoulder just as I was supposed to say “family”. “Who’s fooling who?” I thought. He did better acting than I did. I’ll find out later today if I got that one or not.

Of course there was the time he peed on me too! (See “Ryan peed on Daddy” blog 10/ 07/09)

It’s certainly not an ideal situation to bring your two year old with you to auditions. I imagine Ryan could tell you it’s not ideal to have to follow Daddy around to these odd places and watch him nervously play with other adults. The truth of the matter is that I am really lucky to be spending this kind of time with my son. He is learning things that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of. He keeps me present. I’ve worked more since bringing him than before him. Plus, I have someone at my level of maturity to hang out with at these things.


Check out the video and see first hand what it's like.

video

Monday, November 16, 2009

SILLY FACES 2

video


In a world of jail faces........
Here comes .............
SILLY FACES 2

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Yeah, Daddy......Bike ride!".

Ryan carries his helmet to the bicycle now. I used to carry him and helmets.

“Up, up and away.” We say when I lift him and place him in the co-pilot seat of my Gary Fisher Mountain Bike. The straps that go over his head and fasten between his legs now have to be loosened to fit around his melon head and tightened again once fastened. I used to be concerned that the strap wasn’t snug enough and now I worry it’s too tight. He was a pea in a pod on this bicycle of mine and now he is a grasshopper squeezed into the pod only heavier.

I gently lift the foot straps and he automatically slides his feet through. Another memory flashes of when his feet had to be left dangling because his chubbly legs were too stout to reach. I secure one foot in its place and he says, “I do it” about the other. I make a show of admiring how well he secured his foot while with some slight of hand I fix it. I really do admire how close he is to doing it himself. Another blur coming in to focus on this journey. What will come first, the day he will secure his own feet on the co-pilot or the day we will ride on separate bicycles? It doesn’t really matter because I know in a blink he will be with his boy and maybe they’ll ride to my house to visit the old man.

He puts the helmet on himself. I always have to take it off though because the damn straps won’t fit over his melon head with a huge helmet attached. He doesn’t like when I take it off. I can never find the right words to explain our strap melon-head helmet dilemma. So, he fights me. It’s our brief ritual of anger and frustration.

Once I place the protective bar down all the troubles cease. It’s like a magic wand that illuminates the excitement and wonder of our pending ride.

I put my helmet on and we bang our heads together. Most Dads would just slap five, I suppose. I have a flair for the dramatic. Rather, I have a flair for unnecessary flair. Like a starting pistol the head bang sets us off on our adventure.

“Shall we chase the Garbage Trucks Ryan, hit the hills and go to the beach or just ride around till we get tired?” I sing out with vacation day weightlessness.

“Two hands Daddy!” Ryan cautions back to me.

I immediately and obediently put both hands on the handlebars happy in the knowledge that I invented the word “chubbly”.

Together we ride off in to the sunrise!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baseball, Bono and The Fonz

Yesterday I was pitching Baseballs to Ryan out front. It’s a happy by-product of the recent Baseball Playoffs. Ryan is no longer interested in whacking the ball off the tee now that he has seen that the ball gets thrown to the real guys. With every fiber of my being I try to lob that ball in to meet his bat like a meatball so that he can send it soaring to the stars. I’m amazed at how quickly and accurately he attacks the ball as it flies off in all different directions. I also admire how unfazed he is by his very low hitting percentage. One out of every twenty gets lightly fouled off after several swings and he gets right back in to position shouting, “I ready!” Even when he makes good hard contact he thrills for a second and then, “I ready!” video

All was grand until Bono stepped out of his front door. Ryan without hesitation grabbed the ball from my hands and presented it to Bono as if it were a precious gift for the King.

Bono is the boy next door that was named after some obscure singer in a band. Bono is a five-year-old Rock Star. He’s got the style and swagger and magnetism of a guy that’s used to filling Stadiums. He is of average height for his age and thin. When he struts past you he seems ten times that. Bono enthralls Ryan. Ryan drops whatever he is doing when the slightest glimpse of Bono appears. Bono is good and kind hearted to us. Although you get the feeling that we mere mortals only register as a dull muffled vibration in his Carnival existence.

Yesterday Bono was covered in Disney/Pixar’s “Cars” Band-Aids. They seemed to be evenly spaced out at about four inches apart. He was ablaze in Lightning McQueen. The orange and black paint on his toes were faded and weathered from the long active week since Halloween. He had one real cut on his knee that was covered with a Spiderman Band-Aid. The rest was all Spiderman. Shirts, shorts and headband were all splattered with Spiderman in action.

Bono had no interest in Baseball yesterday and I felt bad for Ryan. I watched him spend the time outside chasing him around with the bat and ball saying “Please, Bono. Play Baheball” Each time Bono walked away Ryan undeterred would chase after him. I stood quietly nearby for support but tried not to interfere. I wanted to somehow make Bono pay attention to Ryan. I wanted to bribe him or scream at him. I stayed quiet.

When I was a kid it was Jimmy Doyle. He was The Fonz in the way that Bono is a Rock Star. The Fonz lived across the street and whenever I would see him outside I would beg my Mother to let me cross. Once she did I would run to The Fonz and he would then, being older, cross himself to the other side just to avoid me. He would never look both ways when he crossed because he was The Fonz and nobody would ever hit him. I don’t remember my feelings being hurt when The Fonz would avoid me, just confusion. Even though I felt terrible for Ryan he only seemed confused by Bonos’ behavior and that comforted me.

Finally and beautifully Ryan grabbed my hand and ushered me back to our front door to continue our game. I love being there for him. I love that I was a sturdy back up. I love that his feelings weren’t hurt when Bono didn’t want to play with him. I love that I was once again his number one.

After about five more minutes my Beautiful Bride stepped outside to check on us. Ryan promptly grabbed the ball out of my hand and offered it to his Mommy as if it were some precious gift for the Queen. All is right in the world.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SILLY FACES

video

Spodaddy productions ..................in association with Unk! Films....
.........is very proud to present...................SILLY FACES

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn Leaves, James Bond and Benny Hill


Ryan’s face molds and changes constantly. Just when I get used to it being a certain way something vanishes or something is added. Suddenly it’s a new face. What used to be an ocean of cheeks has parted and cleared a spotlight for the eyes. The hair was yellow and now it darkens to gold. The eyes that have always twinkled with happiness now have a dash of confidence in them. They have more than a dash actually. His eyes are now like an avalanche of happy confident autumn colored leaves.

Yesterday I placed Ryan’s cranky sleepy body into his mothers’ arms. It was a move that I had done a million times when he was just a baby. Suddenly my back creaked from the weight of him. I lost my balance and had to recover with an awkward stumble. My beautiful Bride braced for impact just as I finally recovered my suave composure. On the release of his body, as I started to unbend my upper half, his spindly legs caught hold of my shoulder and decided to drag me back down. It was like wrestling a long spidery water balloon. BB almost took some elbows to the head as I started to get desperate for release. Once again I recovered my James Bond like composure and thought “WOW! He really isn’t a baby anymore.”

My mother and I have an old routine that plays out with the memories of our old routines. Memories like her driving me to High School every morning and dropping me off three long blocks from the school. When we discus these memories we try to remember the last time. I write this now and realize I don’t remember the last time I placed my baby boy in to his mothers’ arms. I don’t remember the last time Ryan needed help up the stairs or his booster seat at dinner. I don’t remember the last time I rocked him to sleep or the last time he held himself up between my legs for balance.

I wish I remembered the last night of my childhood. I'm sure Grandma was asleep in front of the TV and I was sneaking Benny Hill and praying she wouldn't wake up. Sister was either crouching on the basement stairs for privacy while talking on the phone or shaking the walls of the house with her singing. Mommy would be ironing in the dining room with her tongue sticking out. Daddy was most likely upstairs preparing a speech by speaking dramatically in to a tape recorder.


What will Ryan remember?