I'm looking back at 2009 the best way I can: by posting excerpts of memorable things from my blog. This is continued from part two.
I wrote a funny story about playing minigolf with my wife:
"I can't separate how this place really looked in the '80s from how I want to remember it," I said. "I wonder if I've just idealized it, or if it really did look and feel fitter, happier, and more productive when I was a kid."
She drew her putter back, and left herself in as good a position as any to get the inevitable six on the goddamn volcano hole. Behind us, the freeway was a wall of white noise, occasionally broken by the rumbling of a downshifting semi. The pond to our left was covered with a blanket of brown foam, broken by the nozzle of a dry fountain.
"Of course it looked better when you were a kid," she said, "it was new then."
"I can't believe I never thought of that before. You're exactly right." I put my golf ball, yellow and worn, on the middle tee, feeling heat radiate off the heavy black rubber against the back of my hand. A gentle breeze carried children's laughter and the unmistakable smell of that particular kind of pizza they only serve at minigolf courses past us.
I got as sick as I'd been in years (right up until I got the H1N1 in August, actually) and had to cancel Penguicon. Again. I gave my friend Andrew a letter to read on my behalf since he was already there.
If I'd been just a few seconds farther down the freeway, I probably would have been involved in a horrific car crash because some guy was driving like an asshole:
I was in the number 2 lane, cruising along with the flow of traffic. I saw that the number 1 lane was slowing down a lot, so I slowed down too, just in case people whipped out of that lane and into mine. It happens all the time, because people drive like assholes.
Sure enough, some asshole was speeding down the number 1 lane, and I don't know if he wasn't paying attention or what, but he whipped around into my lane - about 100 yards in front of me, I suppose - over corrected, spun sideways, and T-boned a van. The van flipped onto its side, and the asshole driver sped into the carpool lane. I'm not sure if he crashed into the wall or hit his brakes, but he stopped and got out of his car. I expected to see a 20 year-old kid, but it was a man in a suit who appeared to be in his late 40s or early 50s.
The van, on its side, was about two car lengths in front of me. I realized that I'd been holding my breath, and my hands were shaking so hard I could hardly grip my steering wheel. Just when I snapped out of it and thought I should get out to help, the door of the van opened and the driver climbed out. I couldn't tell if he was hurt.
I picked up my phone to dial 911, and saw that every car around me was already doing that. I started to get out of my car, and I saw that about six or seven different people had already gotten out and were checking on the people who were involved in the crash. I decided that I'd just be in the way if I stopped, so – very carefully – I drove around the scene of the crash and – very carefully – I drove home.
I spent an incredible week in Portland, working on Leverage, playing a computer geek:
The costume designer is an incredibly kind and easy going woman. She was talking with me about who this character is, what he's like, and how those things would influence his decisions when it comes to his clothes. I was glad to have the discussion, because the clothes I wear for a show are very important to me. I always work hard to find something that is appropriate for the character, but that I'll also feel comfortable wearing.
She pulled a bunch of different shirts and things off the racks, and said, "So we thought we'd dress you like a nerd." She didn't say it unkindly, it was just matter of fact, the way you'd say, "You know, I think fish would be nice tonight."
I looked at the clothes she had in her hands: straight-legged jeans, slip-on Vans, a short-sleeved shirt with a collar and buttons.
"So, kind of like what I'm already wearing," I said.
I had a fantastic time bringing the character to life:
Most scripts have a scene that makes an actor go, "WOW, I really want to play this character so I can do that scene." This morning, I got to do that scene, and it was as challenging, fun, and ultimately rewarding as I thought it would be. I can't wait to see it in the final cut of the show.
Before we did that scene, I had a brief meeting with the director, because I wanted to make sure that my take on this character and his vision for the character had more in common than not. I performed some of the more important lines, talked about the arc I'd created in my mind, and made sure that we were on the same page.
He nodded while I did my thing, and when I was done, there was a long pause. I started to get a little nervous, and wondered if I was about to be sent home with a set of steak knives.
"You own this guy," he said.
I got to enjoy some unexpected improv:
We were shooting outside on a beautiful street up near the hills, southwest of downtown, and during one take a very friendly woman somehow got past everyone, didn't realize we were filming, and walked right up to me during a take.
She asked me a question that I can't repeat, because it would be sort of a spoiler. I noticed that nobody called cut, so I just stayed in character, answered her, watched her walk away, and then finished the scene. It wasn't quite "I'm walking here!" but it was still pretty cool.
I don't think we'll be able to use it in the show, because she was a civilian who clearly didn't know that we were filming, but it was exhilarating to just keep on rolling and keep on acting, even though something totally unexpected happened in the middle of the take.
Making television can be grueling, it can be frustrating, and it can be exhausting. I know how very lucky I am to have worked on a couple shows in the last year that haven't been like that, and I'm intensely grateful to be working on another one right now.
I went to Powell's with John Rogers and looked at D&D books:
"I just realized why these books and these games are so important to me," I said, pointing to all the D&D books that surrounded us.
"During a childhood that was completely abnormal, filled with things that I didn't choose for myself, these games were something I chose to read and play. These games were part of my normal."
"Oh, so you were like everyone else who played D&D when they were a kid," John said.
I smiled. "I guess so, yeah."
I was sad when I finished work and had to go home:
Whenever I finish a job, I feel some degree of sadness and loss. Working on a movie or doing a play gives me months to get to know the cast and crew, and when that journey ends, and we go our separate ways, I'm often the one who's cryin' now.
Guesting on a series, though, is a little different: I drop in for a week, and right around the time I've learned everyone's name, established some awesome running jokes, and started to feel like I'm part of the family, it's over. It guess it should be like ripping off a bandage but it's more like a different
metaphorsimile that I can't create at the moment; feel free to create your own.
As I wandered through downtown Portland I thought about the week, and how much fun I had while I worked on the show. I thought about how much I wanted to spend more time with this cast and crew, and I couldn't help but wonder how long it's going to be before I get to be an actor on the set again.
I don't know if I'll get to play Chaos (who, I decided, signs his name "C4[anarchy symbol] 05" when he autographs stuff at conventions while disguised as Wil Wheaton) but if they ask, I'll be there in a heartbeat.
To be continued in part four...