Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recovering Actors

Back in a former life, also known as the 90's and the first year or two of the 00's, I was an actor. I trained; I performed; I felt sooooo dramatic and artistic. And in 1998 and 1999, I studied the highly respected but very tough Meisner acting technique. The technique, itself, is awesome. My teacher for this particular course wasn't the best, but the intensity and duration of the class bonded all of us who studied together through those grueling months.

Last week, my friend and former Meisner classmate Gry was in town from Denmark, the home country she returned to back in 2003 or so. Gry and I had stayed friends long after the class ended. In fact, from mid-2000 until she moved to New York in mid-2001, Gry and I had a standing Wednesday happy hour date at the Casanova Lounge. We'd talk about boys, play pool (Casanova had a pool table back then) and sometimes meet new boys while we played pool and sipped our beverages.

With Gry back in San Francisco for a week or so, our first stop was, of course, Casanova for beverages and chatting. Then last Friday, we got together again with our fellow Meisner survivor Tracy, along with some other friends. We met at the Make Out Room to see Mortified, which is probably the best show ever created. Mortified features real people reading from their old junior high school diaries, journals and whatever else reveals their teenage angst from years gone by. It is positively amazing. You laugh, you cringe, you even get a little choked up as you root for the brave souls who showcase their adolescent selves.

After Mortified, we walked across the street for cocktails at the Latin American Club, where we snapped this little photo. Tracy now is a married high school teacher with two kids; Gry became a radio producer when she moved back to Denmark; I use singing as my primary creative outlet these days; and none of us acts anymore. But ten years later, it was wonderful to get together and remember those halcyon days of our 20's when we held only part time jobs so we could spend six hours a week in class repeating each other (that makes sense if you're familiar with Meisner) and many more hours outside of class rehearsing between auditions for shows.

In other news, I thrust myself into the 21st Century last night by buying a Blackberry Pearl cell phone on a total whim. I'd walked into the wireless store to get a new battery for my perfectly reasonable year and a half old phone, and I walked out with a new toy and a significantly more expensive service contract. All of my friends who have Blackberries, iPhones and similar such gadgets love them, but it remains to be seen if I find this investment to be worth it.

Also, this weekend I'm leaving for a week and a half in Hawaii! I have managed to catch a tiny chest cold now in the days before I go, but I'm currently negotiating with the universe to ensure that I am free of this plague by the time my plane takes off on Saturday evening.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eat, Sing, Eat

Looking for the recipe for a top notch Easter? Well, start with your favorite brunch place. Add 13 friends and family members, fold in a couple of mimosas and enjoy. Make sure you snap a photo afterward, like the one I have provided you as an example.

Oh, but you're not done yet. Later in the afternoon shake an apple martini or two and sip while singing songs at the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge open mic. Personally, I recommend singing songs by Nick Lowe, The Beatles, The Go-Go's, Blondie, Fairground Attraction, Marshall Crenshaw and The Bangles, but that's just me. You are free to choose any type of music.

And finally, because you didn't eat more than enough at brunch, collect a few more friends and add a dash of Thai curried game hen prepared by a host who likes to cook. With that, you have a delightful Easter dinner and a fabulous end to a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Whether you're religious or regard Easter as a pagan celebration of spring, you're doing something right when you celebrate any holiday by eating, singing and then eating. Trust me, I thoroughly tested this recipe yesterday, and it is delicious.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Making the Band

4,326 years ago (also known as my sophomore year in college), I took the first of what would be many fiction writing classes at my university. Our little writing workshop was taught by a grad student named Dan, who was working on his own Master's degree in fiction. We wrote stories and pored over each other's work in class. We had class on a rooftop deck one sunny afternoon while sipping tequila. Don't worry, we were all over 21; at least that's the story I'm sticking with.

What's significant about this particular class, however, is not the writing, not the instructor and not the tequila. It's that one of my classmates was a quiet guy named Ho, whom I never saw again once that semester ended. That is, until I was reintroduced to him in San Francisco about four years ago through our mutual friend Jack. Jack has since moved to New York, but he was in town last week, and I had dinner with him and Ho at The Grove on Fillmore Street last Tuesday.

And that's when I learned the information that may change my life: Ho plays the bass.

Okay, maybe Ho's musical ability won't change my life, but it is going to change my open mic performances. Yesterday, Ho joined Jackie and myself for rehearsal, and I believe he is going to play with us from now on. Yippee! It's like we're almost a real band. If yesterday's rehearsal is any indication, adding bass to our repertoire will be a very good move. The songs sounded so good, and Ho hasn't even fully learned them yet.

Plus, Ho has recording equipment at home and already has offered us the opportunity to record stuff. And he writes songs... at least a little bit... and has offered to help me translate the original melodies I sometimes wake up singing in the morning into real music.

This could be the beginning of great things for my little music hobby.