30 November 2011

26 November 2011

Walking Through a Wall

Walking Through a Wall, by Louis Jenkins

Unlike flying or astral projection, walking through walls is a totally earth-related craft, but a lot more interesting than pot making or driftwood lamps. I got started at a picnic up in Bowstring in the northern part of the state. A fellow walked through a brick wall right there in the park. I said, 'Say, I want to try that.' Stone walls are best, then brick and wood. Wooden walls with fiberglass insulation and steel doors aren't so good. They won't hurt you. If your wall walking is done properly, both you and the wall are left intact. It is just that they aren't pleasant somehow. The worst things are wire fences, maybe it's the molecular structure of the alloy or just the amount of give in a fence, I don't know, but I've torn my jacket and lost my hat in a lot of fences. The best approach to a wall is, first, two hands placed flat against the surface; it's a matter of concentration and just the right pressure. You will feel the dry, cool inner wall with your fingers, then there is a moment of total darkness before you step through on the other side. 

When he won the Tony, Mark Rylance recited this poem instead of offering up the usual banalities:



Waster from WalterFilmsProd on Vimeo.

22 November 2011

I take an acting class - rehearsal

My scene partner and I rehearsed outside of class. Rachel’s 24 or so and earning her doctorate in geophysics. She hails from the Upper West Side in New York where she’d done theatre in high school. She also has a boyfriend, something she made clear about 30 seconds into our first meeting. And she kept bringing him up when we weren’t working on the scene. So I talked about my wife. A lot. So there.
To be fair, it’s awkward to have to engage with a near stranger in an intimate way. Our scene wasn’t a love scene, but no matter what the scene’s about, your partner is the target of your attention. The concentration which you put on that person is, or should be, high voltage. Higher wattage than daily life calls for. So, you do feel a certain inhibition. But it’s exactly this constraint that you have to blast through. 
Drama, after all, is not daily life.
When we weren’t talking about wives and boyfriends, the rehearsals went well. The scene itself is juicy. My character, a master manipulator and tough businessman, intends to blow off a seemingly neurotically incapacitated woman. She still wants to date  him, though. The problem is, he slept with her on their first date. She took it seriously. He didn’t. So, it seems as if things are going his way, and then she turns the tables on him. His only recourse is retreat.
Rachel worked hard, and had a fine competitive edge to her. Without saying it, we could both tell we wanted to be the best in the class.  Because our scene takes place in a cafe, I suggested we do it in a real cafe. This, I thought, would give us some useful images and sensations that we could draw upon. Just the mention of the idea freaked her out, so I let it drop. (I’ll make my actors do something like this though on my next show -- it should generate some real life images to draw on.)
Our rehearsals were really repetitions. I heard a director once say that rehearsal in English is imprecise. In German, the word is “probieren” -- that is, to test, to try, to experiment. In French, it’s répéter -- to repeat. The director noted that to rehearse should involve both activities, exploration and repetition.
We strictly worked the répéter side of the street. Mainly, I wanted to get over the barriers of integrating the newly memorized text with the action of the scene. 
As I said, Rachel worked hard. She’s also a bit shy, so it was much easier to run the scene than to make conversation. So, no wasted time. Again, I would feel lost, then connected to the line of the scene.  But even during simple run throughs, you could feel the rise and fall of the scene, driven by its language.
We ended. We felt ready for class, and ready for the inevitable questions that Teacher would put to us.

What I learned:

Rehearsal should be more than repetition. It should involve testing, trying stuff out, and mixing things up.

21 November 2011

Die Antwoord: Fok Julle Naaeirs

FOK JULLE NAAIERS from Die Antwoord on Vimeo.

Jeffery Tambor's acting class

Austin Kleon took a seminar on acting from Jeffrey Tambor at SXSW last year, and these are his notes.

Miles Davis visits the White House

Miles Davis' hand, photo (c) Irving Penn

During dinner, Nancy Reagan turned to him and asked what he'd done with his life to merit an invitation. Straight-faced, Davis replied: "Well, I've changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done except fuck the president?"

18 November 2011


Something's cooking in the kitchen

Robert Johnson: All My Love's In Vain

All my love's in vain. Words of wisdom, Lloyd. Words of wisdom. "Someone could have listened to that in Paris in 1937."

12 November 2011

Led Zep live in Oz 1973

IV is forty years old today. The first rock album I ever bought, and the soundtrack to many nights. So much of my past is wedded to it, I can't imagine life without it. Which may sound sad, in a way, but you make do with what you have at hand. For a few years, that meant avocado shag rug, wood paneling, backlights, bongs and the reveries that the music would induce. Everything from Viking conquest to Middle Earth to willowy girls with flowers in their hair. Led Zeppelin ceased to be cool or even admissible, but even in my punkiest stages, I couldn't bring myself to abandon the band.

Forty years. Christ.

Prince is a pop genius, part 3

Prince is a genius, part 2: Raspberry Beret

Prince is a genius, part 1: Nasty Girl

The Passenger

Iggy in 1977

09 November 2011

Hallowe'en past


Holy land

. . .but parallel to that, I have filmed with other death-row inmates for a series of shorter films for television. Those are more focused on just one person. One of them, who was 23 minutes away from execution, got a stay. He tells me about his last trip from death row — which is in Livingston, Texas, but they don’t have a death chamber. So they’re transported 43 miles to Hunstsville, to Walls Unit, where they have a death house. And for the first time in 17 years, he sees trees. He sees other cars; he’s riding in this van. Actually, I did this trip now with a camera, because he says something very, very beautiful: Seeing an abandoned gas station, for example, or seeing a cow in a field is something very magnificent. And he says for him, it was like Israel — it was like the Holy Land. All of the sudden I look at America — the forlorn, kind of bleak part of Texas between Livingston and Huntsville — and everything appears like the Holy Land. You see, because of this project and talking to death-row inmates, my perspective has shifted somehow. And it’s not just America. If I travel from Munich to the village where I grew up, this is holy land.

Werner Herzog, via

06 November 2011

When drag's not a drag

When it's Debbie Harry in drag.

Made by Hand

Made by Hand / No 2 The Knife Maker from Made by Hand on Vimeo.

Crafty and craftsmanlike short film. Blown away by the content and the form.

01 November 2011


Photo by Pieter  Hugo