Friday Fives – black acting school

Black History Month – we’ll keep it light

* disclosure.  This is black history month, and last week I did an edition called ‘color blind’.  Sounds like a great jumping off point for some racial discussions.  Yeah, I missed that one, and talked about car colors.  big miss by me.  This is why I have sidelined my racist editor this week and gone forward with the deal discussion you little proletariat probably have with your racist little bbqs.

** other disclosure.  As is always the case, I will refer to black, african americans as ‘blacks’.  This isn’t to be disrespectful of the culture nor the nomenclature.  It is because it takes FAR too long to type out ‘African American’.

*** last disclosure – that picture up there isn’t in black and white.  They are just so black their mere presence removes all visible light around them.

Over-rated black actor

Denzel Washington. I mean… he could be a great actor… but we’ll never know. He plays the exact same character every time. Cool, confident… a little too into himself.   Like Liam Neeson, though, his characters will fuck you up at the drop of a hat. This happens to too many actors. I call it the ‘Dennis Farina syndrome’.  That is all Al Pacino did for the last 40 years, with the exception of his awesome portrayal of Dr Kevorkian.

Under-rated black actor

Black actor who is awesome and under the radar? How about Mos Def? That isn’t his name anymore, though. He changed it. Oooh… Denver’s own Don Cheadle. Sure, he is famous, but he is much bigger acting chops than most of us realized.  I mean… how do I follow a guys career if he keeps changing his name?  I am still not totally sure what my wife’s last name is anymore.

How come there are no black rock bands?  I mean… white guys rap, right?

Great question, self. There was all kinds of great black music in the mainstream a couple of decades ago. I can think of only two. Living Color, which was a flash in the pan. The other being one of a great rock bands of all time. These guys are so black it’s silly. Bad Brains. You don’t see them anymore because their singer is nuts. Total headcase. Sad story, really.

We had Sly Stone, but he has been out of the spotlight for 40 years.  Poor guy, last report was he was homeless.

Oh, wait… there is Prince.  not sure if he counts.  His band is white, he lives in Minnesota, is a Jehovah’s witness, and is only 3 feet tall.  I should not talk shit about his purpleness… google ‘greatest guitar solo’ of all time and watch the Prince clip on ‘while my guitar gently weeps’.

Thoughts on the Tyler Perry franchise

Why is this shit loved by blacks? It looks to me to be tired tropes and stereotypes of the black experience. Why were their no black faces winning Oscars this Sunday? Well, sure the board is racist. However, what the mainstream audience has to chose from is a Tyler Perry movie. They are like Sandler movies, he can shit out 2 to 3 a year.

Al Sharpton is the self appointed public face of black issues.  Who would be the white equivalent… and not doing the job currently?

I am thinking maybe James Taylor here… the whitest of the white, and super agreeable. Or… Neil Diamond? It would have to be someone we trust, at least initially.  Perhaps the answer to that lies in this.  Someone recently piped up and said “black history month, when is white history month?’  Someone else astutely and quickly piped up ‘the other 11 months’.

I am not anti Sharpton, either.  He is the first guy in the public eye who stood up and said what I have been saying for years… gay marriage is a civil rights issue.  He talked about this openly when running for president.  I was so impressed.  See, to say gays can’t marry (to me, and Al, anyway) is the same as saying ‘tall people can’t get married’, or ‘gingers can’t get married’.  That thing about Gingers… I mean… we all think it, right?   Doesn’t mean you say it out loud, though.

Lastly, I should let you in on this.  The title is a reference to this classic bit from Robert Townshends’ ‘Hollywood Shuffle’.  It’s where he teaches actors to act black(er).  it is genius, and easily up there with Eddie Murphy’s ‘White like me‘.


Friday Fives- smells and memories edition

sorry, that is a crappy title.  I get the questions from my editor.  The titles, though, I make up myself.  These questions can only be summed up by my editors deep hatred of me.   and fish.

What is your favorite underrated TV show that everyone should know about?

nothing I can think of.  I watch the same shows you do, and they aren’t exactly underground:  duck dynasty, dexter, breaking bad.   OOOHHH WAIT.  I thought of one;  CNN has a show called ‘Inside Man’ by Morgan Spurlock.  He is the guy from Supersize Me.  He is a genius, and I love all of his work.  If you have seen any of his movies or shows… this new show is exactly like those.  That is ok, though, because I love Morgan.

Speaking of CNN and new shows, Anthony Bourdain has a new show on CNN, too.  Here is where it gets weird, though.  Ever seen his other shows:  a cooks tour, kitchen confidential, no reservations, the layover?  Well, this new show is EXACTLY like those  shows.  I love Bourdain.  Read his book and I follow his writings.  However, his tv shows are identical.  Freakishly so.  I don’t know if I blame Bourdain for that, or CNN. If I were a good journalist… or journalist at all, I would likely google the name of the new Bourdain show for you.  My articles, as you can see, and impeccably well researched. I am not researching Bourdain’s show as a matter of principle.  Just called it ‘No Reservations 5’.  It is the 5 iteration of that show.

Hell, Bourdain travels the world and gets paid to eat and be a snarky hipster who makes his bones being snarky about hipsters.  So, he has the last laugh.

That got a little tangenty, so I will sum up here.  Big yes to ‘Inside Man’ from Morgan Spurlock, and a meh to whatever the hell they are calling the Bourdain show.  Skip the Bourdain show and read his amazing book.

Also, since we are talking about what TV shows everyone is watching, I have to say this.  I don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’.  Apparently, I am the only person on Earth not watching it.  Every time someone asks me about it, which is literally daily, it makes me not want to watch it all the more.  Ok?  Shut the fuck up about Game of Thrones.  I have zero bandwidth for new shows right now.  In a month, I will have plenty of time.  Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Under the Dome will all be over.  So, I will use that time to watch even more West Wing.  I know I am late to the party on that, but I just started watching from scratch about a month ago and i LOVE it.

Then, if I am going to go back and pick up a new show, it would be Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, or the Wire.

What would your sixteen year old self say if they could see you now?

Oh man, I have actually written a lot about this.  I hate to re-write that story, so lemme see if I can find a link to one of them.  I am so often so correct that there is no need to repeat myself. FOUND IT.  It’s right here.  Here is the fun part about this, I wrote it almost ten years ago.  Let’s see if it still holds up.  Well, read it first.  Did you read it?  Ok, some changes 10 years later.  Don’t much go to parties or concerts.  Well, I do, but not like I used to.  I can’t sleep 12 hours in a row anymore, which is sad.  I still love love love sleep, but now I sleep like a regular person.

I still have the wife and the truck, and life is still grand.  I have gone farther with that dream of ten years ago.  I said something about not having a camper.  Well, now I have two campers!  Plus, I live on my own ranch now.  So, it’s like going on vacation every day when I come home.

Ok, here is my big lesson.  Ashton Kutcher said it here, and so did Thomas Jefferson.  Opportunity looks a lot like hard work – Kutcher said that. I am sure millions have.  But, I super respect an actor/model receiving a teen choice award standing up and saying it out loud for a new generation. Thomas Jefferson said “the harder I work, the more luck I have seem to have”.  My dad had another one “you cay pay now, and play later… or play now and pay later”.  My step dad, Roj, taught me even more by example.  Hard work is the key.  Oh, and monotonous work.  That is a big part of it.  You go in every day, always.  Be there before they get in, and after they are gone.

Oh, and I would say this to my 16 year old self “cool beard, huh?”  See, I always wanted a beard but could never grown one.  Oh, and I would point out to 16 year old self I am a in a rock band now.  So, growing up and old isn’t so bad.  I am living the life I always dreamed of, just with less hair.  Speaking of that, here is a picture of me at 16.

What is the most horrid smell you’ve smelled?

bacon coffee syrup.  I was at this nice little independent coffee place here in Parker on Main Street.  As I was walking out with my coffee, I saw all their flavors.  They had the usuals – hazelnut, vanilla, french cream, chocolate, caramel, and bacon.  Bacon?  Bacon!  I told the lady I just had to smell the bacon syrup.  Why?  Because I love bacon.  Like every guy, and maybe a bit more, I love bacon. so, I smelled it.  I was ripe with confidence that I may have discovered the new greatest thing.  My two passions > coffee and bacon.  So, I smelled it.

It was disgusting.  It smelled like bacon alright, but super duper concentrated.  It smelled like 1000 slices of bacon distilled down to one liquid.  It was SO strong that after that whiff I did not touch bacon again for three months.  I looked online, and found it.  Here is proof!  try it, I dare you.  It’s like super hot wings.  I will pay for them just to watch you sweat.  We are doing that at work today.  We are going to see if we can break Suchocki.

Who is the one actor/actress that you can never like?

I have really tried to dislike the Scientology.  Problem is, they are all great actors, and incredibly nice people.  Besides their totally absurd beliefs about secret volcano gods, there is nothing wrong with these people.  Jason Lee, Tom Cruise, Mimi Rogers, Giovanni Ribisi, that guy who played Hide on that 70s show.  Oh, and Beck.  All cool and interesting people.  Oh well, who am I to judge?  Just kidding, I AM the judge.  Scientology is bullshit and I can prove it.  See, I don’t care about the mythology.  Its not much dumber than the Mormons.  No, what is wack about Scientology is they charge you for the knowledge.  So, it takes years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to be told the truth.

back to the question – actors I hate.  Well, the late Dennis Farina was one.  Why?  For 30 years he played the exact same character every time.  Drives me nuts.  It’s not acting at that point.  Just reading lines and collecting checks.  Not exactly high art.

What are your go-to karaoke songs?

I don’t do karaoke.  Not because I am above it, but because I can’t sing.  i know, I know.  I am in singer in a rock band.  Trust me, I am always working on my singing, but its in band practice.  Plus, when you go, you have to hear ‘Black Velvet ‘ and ‘Friends in Low Places’ so many times it makes me want to stab my eyes out.  Wait, no.  That would be dumb and then i couldn’t play guitar.  So… amendment,  It makes me want to stab your eyes out.

oh, and I tried it once.  I won’t tell you what song it was, just that it went horrible.  I can sing in D.  Small problem, though, its the only key I can sing in.  It literally took me forty years to figure that out.  So, anything that isn’t in D does not go well for me.

The Dennis Farina Syndrome®

ImageUpdate below – Sept 2020

I realize I often reference this in my work, but I may not have properly explained.  Once again, this is my claiming obvious shit and trying to pass it off as unique and introspective.  That’s my gig, bubba.

I am back to naming shit that had no name… like this one – the Gary Barnett Corollar®.

There is a group of actors who play ‘to type’.  This means, they have a niche, and they are stuck in it.  Think Jason Statham here.  Have you seen a Jason Statham film?  If so, then you have literally seen ALL the Statham films.  He plays a total bad ass, likeable criminal with exceptional driving skills.  You will be alarmed to know how many films this guy has with this character.  38 movies.  He has 38 movies playing this exact same character.

Here is the weird thing, though.  I love his work, and I love his character.  I have seen at least 10 of those movies.  I can’t say for sure, because every single one is truly exactly the same as the other.  There are others, too.  Most notably, Dennis Farina.  Dennis plays the exact same character every time.  He doesn’t bother to act, but he doesn’t need to.  I imagine he doesn’t even have to audition.  When a script needs a 50-ish bad ass organized crime mobbish salt and pepper tough guy… you hire Farina.

Al Pacino was famous for this, too.  Al did about 30 years of forgettable films playing the same shit.  He still can act, though.  See his work in the Kevorkian movie?*** he still has it!  Here is another example, Denzel Washington.  He is very well regarded, and even received an Oscar for playing Denzel.  Denzel Washington is over rated.  Really over rated.  Hell, he might be a great actor, but there is no way to tell.  He just plays the same guy in every movie.

Comedy has them, too.  Think of Vince Vaughn.  He had a pretty good ten year run playing one character.  Even though Statham is the poster boy for this movement, he is young enough to actually open to other roles.  Who else?  Man, there are tons.  For some reason, the Italian stereotypes thrive on the Farina Syndrome®.  How about Joe Pesci?  Frank Vincent

So, it remains the Dennis Farina Syndrome®

*** seriously, this is amazing.  Pacino actually stepped out and did something completely different.  Just look at this transformation.  It’s the real Kevorkian on the right, and Pacino on the left.Al Pacino as Jack Kevorkian - Actors Who Have Played Real People - Zimbio

validation! Buzzfeed agrees. Of course, my post was 8 years ago. Am I saying I am the first one to notice the existence of typecasting? Like, it even has its own word… typecasting. Or, did I somehow invent that, too? Yes. to both.