Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Follow The River: For Michael


Oldest friend
Walking on a wire
It's never the end
Walking through the fire
You are my brother
Together we still stand
My oldest friend
Take my hand


Over the rooftops
And the streets below
This was our kingdom
This was our show
Our hearts beat in time
Where the river bends
Our hearts beat together
Take my hand


Stay true
To your path
Be lucky brother
Hold fast
Follow the river
Back to where it starts
Use the water like a mirror
Look into our hearts


Meet me at the graveyard
Tomorrow night
We can lay on our backs
Staring at the sky
We can talk about the future
Like we used to do
Where did all the time go?
Where did it go?


Did we keep our promises
We made to ourselves
Look into each others eyes
Do we make each other proud?


Did we stay true
To the path?
I love you brother
Hold fast
Did we follow the river
Back to where it starts?
And use the water like a mirror
And look into our hearts

Monday, 29 March 2010

Here Today: For Michael


AND IF I SAID I REALLY KNEW YOU WELL
WHAT WOULD YOUR ANSWER BE?
IF YOU WERE HERE TODAY
HERE TODAY

WELL KNOWING YOU
YOU'D PROBABLY LAUGH AND SAY
THAT WE WERE WORLDS APART
IF YOU WERE HERE TODAY
HERE TODAY

BUT AS FOR ME
I STILL REMEMBER HOW IT WAS BEFORE
AND I AM HOLDING BACK THE TEARS NO MORE
I LOVE YOU

WHAT ABOUT THE TIME WE MET?
WELL, I SUPPOSE THAT YOU COULD SAY
THAT WE WERE PLAYING HARD TO GET
DIDN'T UNDERSTAND A THING
BUT WE COULD ALWAYS SING

WHAT ABOUT THE NIGHT WE CRIED?
BECAUSE THERE WASN'T ANY REASON
LEFT TO KEEP IT ALL INSIDE
NEVER UNDERSTOOD A WORD
BUT YOU WERE ALWAYS THERE, WITH A SMILE

AND IF I SAY I REALLY LOVED YOU
AND WAS GLAD YOU CAME ALONG
THEN YOU WERE HERE TODAY
FOR YOU WERE IN MY SONG

HERE TODAY


by Paul McCartney for John Lennon

Friday, 26 March 2010

5 Years of Railing Against the Dying of the Light


I find celebrating blogging anniversaries a little vulgar and self-indulgent but what the hell, this one passed a while back, I've never blown me own trumpet before and it only just occurred to me, so I thought I'd leave a marker here.

On the 2nd of March 2005 Blurred Clarity came into existence and it's been going strong (with brief intermissions of resting) ever since.

It has always been personal here, with plenty of swearing, politics, silly pictures and as much a record of my life these past five years as it is anything else. A document of all I love and hate. Some of the archives make for painful reading, some naive, some just awfully put together but they will stand, I delete and re-edit nothing. Some of them however are damn fine writing.

Not many of those that were with me 5 years ago are with me now, a few early subscribers are still knocking about, most have left ghost town blogs, trapped in 2007, little echoes of friendships and lives that still occasionally send a curious visitor my way. A real trip down memory lane.

Here's to the next five years...

Anyway, yesterday I was shooting out in West London, a new commercial for VW and it was a big budget affair with a great director who also comes from Notts (we get everywhere, I tell you, we are the future) and it was a blast, it'll be a fine spot on British TV and cinema and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

After I'd done, about midnight, I was driven away from the set and back home and as the houses flew by me and London slipped past I was hit by some heavy melancholy. At first I thought it was the way the extras, who had been deemed surplus to requirements, had been let go; there was a sadness there that kinda struck me. But I was lying to myself, it was guilt, guilt at how far I've come and those that I've left behind...but no, not guilt, it was just a deep sadness, sadness based on missing your best friend who would've loved to share all of this with you and who...just whisper it, was probably a better actor than you.

But what can I do about that, he made his choices and I made mine, here I stand and I'll be damned if I'll not savour every second of this amazing adventure.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

"This is a Big Fucking Deal"


So spake Vice-President Joe Biden into the ear of President Barack Obama at the event to celebrate the passing of the US healthcare reform bill, or HR 4872 and for once, this was not so much a gaff by the Veep but an accurate summation of what a profoundly important and amazing moment this is in American political history. And as compromised and battered as the bill is, the fact it has been passed, the fact it has made it through a partizan and hostile political landscape filled with smears, lies and ignorance, is one of the finest achievements by any President for some time.



The key elements of the bill are outlined here:

WITHIN THE FIRST YEAR OF ENACTMENT

*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.

*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2011

*Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.

*Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

*A new program under the Medicaid plan for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.

*Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional Medicare.

*Employers are required to disclose the value of health benefits on employees' W-2 tax forms.

*An annual fee is imposed on pharmaceutical companies according to market share. The fee does not apply to companies with sales of $5 million or less.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2012

*Physician payment reforms are implemented in Medicare to enhance primary care services and encourage doctors to form "accountable care organizations" to improve quality and efficiency of care.

*An incentive program is established in Medicare for acute care hospitals to improve quality outcomes.

*The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2013

*A national pilot program is established for Medicare on payment bundling to encourage doctors, hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient care.

*The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016.

*The Medicare payroll tax is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income for that income group.

*A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail level by the public is excluded from the tax.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2014

*State health insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals open.

*Most people will be required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don't. Healthcare tax credits become available to help people with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty purchase coverage on the exchange.

*Health plans no longer can exclude people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

*Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren't counted for the fine.

*Health insurance companies begin paying a fee based on their market share.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2015

*Medicare creates a physician payment program aimed at rewarding quality of care rather than volume of services.

WHAT HAPPENS IN 2018

*An excise tax on high cost employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk professions.


In summary then, a great but by no means perfect piece of legislation for a nation desperately in need of healthcare reform, as the private sector proves once again that there are some things it should not be allowed within a million miles of, or indeed to be involved in at all.

Of course there are the deluded voices of dissent, who bandy round images of Obama as Hitler, or mis-readings of socialism, or willingly suckle from the teat of mis-information and lies (perhaps because, just because, a black man is President) that enables intransigence to a valuable piece of legislation that helps those most in need...


To them, I offer these words that I found at Dave's blog:

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.
You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.
You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.
You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.
You didn't get mad when you saw the Abu Grahib photos.
You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.
You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
You didn't get mad when we let a major US city drown.
You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.
You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Vote BNP (Please Don't)



Author's disclaimer:
I despise the BNP and everything they stand for. I’ve spent a fair few years working both online and in the real world to disrupt and challenge their racist, myopic and unworkable ideas. Hence, I feel that I know their nonsense talking points inside out and, from a position of utter disbelief that their pseudo-policies engage reasonable minds, wanted to try and write and perhaps, start to grasp, the BNP voter perspective. This post was written for Claude at Hagley Road to Ladywood, as part of a pre-election series and is cross posted there, already drawing some interesting comments from racists...

I urge you to vote for the BNP at the forthcoming elections because we are the only honest party, the only truthful party, that is willing and able to stand up and say the things too many are afraid to say. We will say them because our country needs saving from the horrors that have been inflicted on it by decades of inept and useless governance. We are the party to save Great Britain.

You will not hear “I’m not a racist but...” coming from me. I am a racist. We all are. Even you reading this, right now. It might not be obvious but we all have our deep-set personal prejudices towards different ethnicities based on our very real life experiences. These are natural and right; a defense mechanism against external threats, that threaten our way of life here in the UK. And I can assure you, it is under threat.

It is racist to point out just how much violent crime is committed by non-whites? Or that foreign imports destroy our indigenous industries, leaving us weak? Or that immigrants undermine our indigenous workforce and lower standards? Or that the Islamification of the UK brings with it severe repercussions for our human rights and our personal safety, under the deadly siege of terrorism? Is it racist to point out that the abuses of our democratic systems by these foreigners, makes their very end all the more likely? At what cost? What are we getting from this one-way deal? Let us not forget our brave servicemen and women, who are spilling their precious blood in foreign lands and for what end? At what cost? For far too long Britain has been abused, exploited and taken for granted by those coming to our shores and at what cost? But no longer, not if you vote BNP.

And many people already have done and yes, you may be comfortable dismissing some 1 million people who voted BNP in the European Parliamentary elections as idiots but ask yourself this: what gives you the right? Who made you judge and jury? The BNP speaks to and for this ever growing silent majority. Is Political Correctness and fear limiting the scope and range of your ideas? Must not this fake idol be sacrificed at the alter of truth and you turn to us?

So dismiss us. Give us ‘No Platform’. Attack the personalities of our parties with vile accusations but oddly never our raft of excellent policy. Drag up ancient dictums of our party to browbeat us with, even though we no longer believe in them. Do all of these things and know that it will only make us stronger, because men and women all over the UK believe in us to be their lone voice, speaking truth to power, in their moment of need as their country slips through their very fingers. Join us, vote for the BNP, your country needs you.

Friday, 19 March 2010

My Last Five Girlfriends: Some Thoughts


A quick post as just got back from the West Country after yet another final show of Poles Apart (although I really do think that this is it) and got to rush off to a costume fitting in the West End for a new VW advert...

Indeed.

The premiere thing for My Last Five Girlfriends at the ICA was fantastic, I saw the film for the first time and it was awesome, a re-invention of the rom-com format with more ideas per frame than most movies can muster in 90 minutes; the film exists firmly within the real and natural but with amazing elements of kaleidoscopic imagination and with many, many hilarious moments (the talking elephant that levitates is a winner). I am proud to be in it.

I am most definitely in it and I cannot believe that I am in a Paramount Films feature film that is coming out  across a hundred cinemas in the UK, it is a dream come true for me, hopefully a step in the right direction for my career, definitely a step up and as I watched myself on the big screen it had the feeling of the slightly unreal. There I am. In a movie.

It was a weird night, getting a round of applause in the cinema from the audience, leaving the auditorium and having to sign autographs...bizarre indeed, going to the after screening party.

As Eva-Jane and I walked back to get the tube I did wonder if this is the last time as well as the first I'll be in a feature or whether this is the very beginning, I hope it's the latter but even if it is the former; I will hold onto that moment forever.

So, it may be a Paramount Film but it is a low budget affair and needs all the support it can get, especially over the first weekend so get to see it, if you can and show your support for excellent British film making.

Peace.

UPDATE: you can find where it is playing in a cinema near you, right here, so go check it out!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

My Last Five Girlfriends Preview


You may recall that some time ago I got a part in my first feature film, having only done short films previously, managing to secure a supporting role as the lead actor's best friend was something of a breakthrough and lo the film was called "My Last Five Girlfriends". Since then it has to gone on to do great things in New York and then Edinburgh.

Well, I've had to keep it under my hat for some time now but the movie got picked up by Paramount Pictures (which is, as you can imagine, is a very fucking big deal) and it is on general release across some 100 cinemas in the UK from this Friday the 19th March (unfortunately, no US release, not yet anyway).

Tonight, I'm going to the preview type premiere thang (not as spectacular as Eva's green carpet trip with Patti Smith of course, this was a low budget affair) at the ICA to not only see the film for the first time but to also see how much I have been cut out, or not, indeed, much of my best work may indeed be laying around on the cutting room floor but hey, that's the actors life.

I'm quite excited and nervous at the same time.

Now, with small budget films like this, we need to pull out all the stops in terms of people seeing it over the next few weekends, otherwise it'll disappear not long after it has come out so this is where you chaps come in.

GO AND SEE IT PLEASE!

Here is the trailer to wet your appetite and I'll let you know how it all went as soon as I can.

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Phone Call From a Russian


I advertise as an acting teacher in various industry publications, it is a reasonable enough source of work although most of my stuff comes through customer recommendations.

So I am used to getting phone calls from wannabe actors who either seem to be utterly naive about the industry, or far too tight to pay for my expensive but quality services (buy cheap, buy twice) or plain rubbish.

I can tell if you're a rubbish actor just by talking to you over the phone, so be warned.

But today's call was a cracker.

A Russian chap called me, early 40s, found my details in one of the aforementioned publications and then made some very vague enquiries about what I do; it felt like some kind of set-up, the voice was so thick with Russian, the vocabulary hesitant and jarring, it had to be one of my pals /racist web stalker having a laugh.

It was not.

It was one of the longest phone conversations I've had with a stranger in my entire life, the gist of it seemed to be (although it occurred at such rapid tangents I've idea if this is actually what we talked about) he wanted help to break into UK show business and was thinking about going to drama school even though he had no money whatsoever and was on benefits and wanted me to give him info on what drama schools to apply to (I hate stuff like this, if you want it bad enough, DO IT YOURSELF, stop dicking around and get the facts ya' sen) and advice sessions/acting classes. When he started telling me about how poor he was and his life issues with his wife, I knew it was time to get off the damn phone, as he was angling for free lessons.

Hell no.

When I told him how much I charge and that if he wants to work with me he'll need to come up with a clearer plan than the current rambling pile of half-assed ideas he fell silent.

I was silent, this was his cue to say goodbye.

He didn't, so I did.

A phone call from a Russian was over.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Hamlet: He Loved His Father So Much


I am teaching Hamlet at the moment at the Actors Centre, the Saturday class is with my adult students, I have been teaching some of them for around 4 years and it is by far one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. This time pretty much every Friday I get excited about what the class will bring the coming Saturday morning.

Back at the tail end of last year I was working on Hamlet myself and I got inspired to work on it with my students this term and we have been slogging our way through, to quite wonderful effect and are now deep into character work and in turn character development. It has been a revelation and I hope a great learning experience for the students, it certainly has been for me.

One thing that stands out in Hamlet is just how much he loves his dead father, so much so that he will kill for him, so much so that his mind is wracked with visions of him, so much so that his father's eternal words rattle around his skull. His father is God in his eyes, something transcendent, something through death that has become even more ever present.

I feel the ghost of Hamlet's father is nose to nose with his son through out much of the play; Hamlet keeps the demons at the door but the sheer force of will of his father looms large.

My dad is poorly at the moment and to hear him weak, tired and not at his best, even though he is 71, is a real blow. I feel my dad nose to nose with me, he looms large in my life, blessing me with so much knowledge, power and strength and I wish him a speedy recovery with every shred of my being and to let him know that I love him as much as Hamlet loves his father.

To the ends of the earth and back daddy.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Retire From Lying to Kids: an Intervention From an Ex-Student


I was musing not that long ago that maybe my time of teaching children and young people was over, perhaps it is but then, out of the blue, I got an email from an old student of mine. He will of course remain anonymous but he had somehow had the inclination to track me down, even though it has been a good five years since I taught him acting; the young, enthusiastic and intelligent performer that he was.

I would like to share some of the text of his email, obviously with any personal details of his removed:
Hi dan,
I don't know if you remember me? I used to go to the Nottingham Arts Theatre, and had the privilege to work with you in your youth group. I apologise for leaving it so long to get in contact. Feel quite bad. It was my 21st birthday the other weekend, and my Gran gave me a folder containing programmes, scripts, pictures and letters from shows and activites that I participated in, and aquired over the years. Inside I found a letter from you, which brought back a lot of memories and surprisingly a bit of emotion lol. I didn't think you would still be using the email address that you had left on the letter after so many years, so I thought I should try and see if I could find you on the web, luckily it hasn't took long!! I hope all is well, and life is good for you! After you left Nottingham, I stayed with the youth group and theatre for 1 more term until forced to give up acting because work started sending me away all over the country for months at a time, was rather upsetting, but there you go!! lol...Yesterday I joined a small theatre called 'The Lace Market Theatre', you may have heard of it, not sure. anyway, I've joined the technical team so I can at least be a part of the system again, hopefully when I find another job it may give me the freedom to re-commit to acting. I still carry a lot of the lessons that I have learn't from you, that you taught me when you ran the youth group. They have helped me through some rough patches over the years, and helped make me the person I am today!! I think I speak for every one who was in the group, that you were greatly missed. Would be great to hear from you again...
I immediately penned a response to the young man, who I cannot believe is 21 (how time flies) and I hope we maintain a long correspondence and he keeps me abreast of his successes.

It was a welcome reminder of the benefits of good teaching, both to the student and teacher and on reflection, the thought of my life without some form of teaching, without sharing and celebrating knowledge and watching students become expert; the breathtaking transformation of professional and personal into something new.

When I cast my mind back to the many people I've taught and the journeys of all these wonderful folk, the likes of Priya and her epic adventure, or the travails of enfant terrible Cole, the vigorous intelligence of Jonny and the new and deep friendship with Stephen; it makes my heart swell with pride and these are only a handful of the amazing relationships I have been a part of.

To watch people grow, to transform, to see them become empowered...I do not think I will ever retire from that.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Knife Edge by Hard Graft Theatre Company


Good friend Mark Whiteley, co-creator of the legendary show that is Poles Apart and director of Hard Graft Theatre Company, has another production up his sleeve that starts touring the UK on the 16th April and goes all over the bloody place.

It is called Knife Edge and promises to be a fantastic piece of work and I remember, some years ago now, Mark and I discussing this very idea and now here it is, a real life piece of theatre...alive! I'll obviously be attending the London gig on the 30th April at the RichMix, so if any London readers want to join me please do but in the mean time, feast your eyes on this disturbing trailer for the show and do try and go and see it if it comes anywhere near you.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Market Estate Project


On Saturday me and the lovely Eva-Jane went to see some art.

An old school friend of mine (and I'm talking Primary and big school, so we go back a long way) called Rich White, is an artist of some serious ability. Rich makes quite brilliant, epic work; usually large, usually vigorous, usually from found materials, usually robust and hardy; Rich is an artist who always has dirt under his figure nails and if you squint, you could confuse him as a very lean steel worker.

I like Rich's work not because he is an old friend but because it is excellent and it always manages to make me feel small, not an easy thing to do to a 6ft 6in man, clocking in at 15 stone. It nearly always looks as if it was hewn by the hands of giants, it has a visceral feel, a roughness.

Whenever I can get a chance to see Rich's work in the flesh, I do and Rich was one of the many artists that were involved in the Market Estate Project. In a nutshell, the Market Estate was a typical 1960's London housing estate and as time moved on, it became a breeding ground for crime, disaffection and typical inner-city living. The solution was to knock it down and build new houses but before this site of murder and death, drugs and crime was to be torn down, it was to be turned into an art installation, part homage, part art opportunity. So 75 artists, 66 site-specific projects, 20 vacant flats, and one soon to be demolished 1960’s housing estate all came together.

As we wandered around the old estate it brought to mind the many estates I've strolled around in the past, either as a kid, behind my childhood home in Nottingham, or as a youth worker, or when I used to live on one when I first moved to London in 2004 and called Camberwell/Peckham borders my home. Never mind the times I stumbled into one, taking a short cut they may not have been as good an idea as I thought it was.

As you walked in, a man was hanging from a building for dear life...


And it got me thinking that all this art was all well and good but I couldn't help but feel a little uneasy, as if in the face of all these peoples homes, all this history and all the trouble that had afflicted these homes, it felt somehow flippant and glib. Perhaps it was the annoying arty types I saw there (maybe I was one), like those loud, brash tourists that shout down their cellphones when in military cemeteries, or at Holocaust Memorials. I felt like class tourism, rich folk coming to look at where the poor folk lived: low ceilings, tasteless decor and stairwells that must have be a haven for terror.


It's funny, a friend of ours lives just opposite and has done for some time, she found it funny that people were coming to such a shitty old part of London to gawp at where the poor people lived. You could argue that people were there to gawp at the art ,that was put where the poor people used to live. Fair enough.

What was most fascinating perhaps was the unintentional art, the stuff that was an echo of the residents, the things left behind, the heavy security doors and messy graffiti, never mind the bullet holes in the safety glass.

It was a stimulating experience, art in a crime scene, not sure if it was appropriate, not sure if that even matters; it'll all be knocked down real soon, art and non-art, what was on purpose and what was not and as the place is ground into the dirt what it was will only exist in those that experienced it.

I'll leave you with some pictures of what Richard contributed...




Friday, 5 March 2010

Northolt Blues: Retire From Lying to Kids?


I've never been to Northolt before.

My job, as both actor and a teacher, takes me to all kinds of places but Northolt in the London borough of Ealing has never been one of them, not until today that is.

Having never been, I had imagined it to be gloriously suburban, after all, it is West London, in the posh borough of Ealing, on the fringes of the London Empire; officially in Middlesex and all that. I was shocked to discover that Northolt is actually quite a grubby, shoddy little place, clinging onto the skirts of London town like a mud splatter.

I saw this in Northolt, the first time I have ever seen anything like this in my life...



A knife bin...bin your weapons here...anyway...

I was in Northolt because for the past few weeks I have been doing rather a lot of teaching, or rather story telling, across numerous primary schools in London, working with Key Stage 2 and spinning a detective yarn as part of either World Book Day or National Story Telling Week or some other initiative to get children to engage with reading.

I have been working with children and young people since I was 16, when I volunteered in a primary school in Notts back in 1992. I am very good at working with children and young people, I've no idea way but I do know that I am a fine teacher who can engage pretty much anyone: from an upset 5 year old, to a hardy 15 year old young offender and all in between and beyond.

But I think I may have had enough of working with children and young people.

To be clear this wasn't Northolt's fault, nor the fault of the lovely school I went to and the exceptionally bright, committed and enthusiastic kids I had the pleasure of working with but rather it may have run it's course for me. My time is busy with acting, as well as directing and writing projects; I also am lucky enough that I do not need to work, aside from acting and committing to teaching projects cuts into the acting work I can do and it shouldn't be that way.

So today, as I pretended to be a Private Investigator and told an unsolved crime story I pitched as true to the children in front of me, who watched, utterly rapt by the twists and turns of what was a simple blackmail case that became a double murder (I swear, the children nearly followed me out of the school as they asked me endless questions so they could solve the murder mystery); it crossed my mind this might be the last time I set foot in a classroom. 17 years later.

Maybe.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

On Web Presence...


Adrift in an ocean of narcissism, everyone it seems, has web presence, in which they list their favourite books, films, songs, friends, people, countries, politics and bowel movements.

They groom their sites as intently as suburbanites whack the weeds that grow in their resplendent gardens. They post videos of themselves; pictures worthy of a quality magazine: tint their skin tones, adjust the backgound colour, project themselves into a glamour that anyone can achieve...photoshop: another example of a democratic anxiety that technology has gifted us.

On the Internet, people advertise themselves as if they were cans of soup. I like cans of soup but people who advertise themselves like cans of soup unsettle me.

Sick of self, sick of all the cute, yapping selves. Bored with stories, disheartened by my voice, disgusted with sly, tactical self-depreciation...SO MUCH SELF! SO LITTLE TIME!

The clamour of me me me.

I am living alone in bad company.

Monday, 1 March 2010

State by State. Part 2: Missives on Montana to Wyoming


MONTANA
The home of the boob, 90% of all little people here are fed on the tit, not formula. Must make good warriors, no state contributes more soldiers per capita than Montana. Gave us Evel Knievel and the 17th Amendment. God Bless the Treasure State!

NEBRASKA
A state to travel through, going east or west, a half-way house, it just goes on and on and on...Practical, polite, respectful, conservative and plain; Republicans to an extreme but never extreme Republicans.

NEVADA
72% of Nevada was born outside of Nevada. My question is: why the fuck come to Nevada? Since 1950 no state has seen its population increase quicker or by such a huge margin. There can only be one answer: Las Vegas. I've been there and it is not my kind of town.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
The roller coaster capital of America! The state that gave us the best fictional President of all time. It is the wilderness next door to Massachusetts, where conservations go something like this:

(A New Hampshire graveyard has to be moved, one of the occupants had been buried there for seventy years, the grand-nephew was present at the exhumation)

"Did they?"
"Yep."
"Were you thar?"
"Yep."
"How was the box?"
"Purty nigh gone."
"Coffin?"
"Sorta mouldy."
"D'ja look in?"
"Yep."
"How was Uncle John?"
"Kinda poorly."

NEW JERSEY
What is it with the New thing? Big lover of roller coasters but warring with arch rival New York to spend more on education than they do, NY is winning, as it does with most things as it looms over NJ like an annoying and better looking younger brother. Has no state song, famous New Jerseyite Bruce Springsteen's epic "Born to Run" was suggested but then it was pointed out that song is about getting the fuck out of New Jersey. New Jersey is a punchline to more jokes than any other state and I've been there so can vouch for that.

NEW MEXICO
I've been there. Named after Mexico. Not a big fan of health insurance here. They test nuclear weapons, aliens and military technology in this state because they can.

NEW YORK
Where to begin? Thinks it is the best, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. A mythical land. Obviously, I have been here but all over, not just some New York City whore. The least suicidal state of all. Can you believe it? No state spends more on education but New Yorkers spend more time commuting to work than any other, on average 40 minutes. If you're born in New York, you stay there, unbelievably, other Americans do not seem to want to go live there but if you're not American, it is a Mecca and nearly as foreign as California but not quite. Unbelievable.

NORTH CAROLINA
I've been there and why you may ask? I was passing and it was pretty. The pig capital of America, or hogs as they like to call them. There are more pigs in North Carolina than humans and it is the state that lays claim to inventing barbecue. As Winston Churchill said: "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

NORTH DAKOTA
Smile. Be Polite. Say Thanks. Be Nice.
They like to drink round these parts but not lock folks up, safest state apart from Maine, also the most religious, with a tiny 2% claiming atheism as their own. America's shortest commute, 15 mins, give or take. The most Native American of all the states.

OHIO
Mythically flat. Actually more bumpy. Not technically Mid-Western, more Mid-North-Central or West-of-Eastern/East-of-Western/North-of-Southern/Mid-Rustbelt-ish. Has contributed more Presidents than any other state, all of them were pretty crap.

OKLAHOMA
People cannot stay married here, more divorces than any other state. Maybe something to do with the sheer variety and ferocity of weather here, a place where meteorologists are Gods in a land of extreme heat, cold, floods, droughts and of course...twisters.

OREGON
As with other liberal states, Oregon loves the boob but unfortunately, no one has any idea what Oregon actually means. Rains a lot.

PENNSYLVANIA
I've been to the keystone state, heart of old America perhaps, the greedy old colony that it is; a nursery ground that makes good people that go elsewhere. Fear of the South which is on its doorstep hangs heavily around still, black communities combusting in its inner-cities, a state of ancient immigration becoming something else all together.

RHODE ISLAND
I've been there and can vouch that no one has more drive-ins or Dunkin' Donuts than these chaps. Named after the Greek island of Rhodes, as you did in those days I suppose but actually not very Greek at all. The 13th of the original 13 states and first to renounce allegiance to the King, back in 1776. A home to religious tolerance but not the bottle bill.

SOUTH CAROLINA
I have been there. It is the most violent of all the 50 states, yes, even more violent than Tennessee. South Carolina is too small to be a sovereign nation and large to be an insane asylum. A place of easy rage, recklessness and eccentricity; halfway between freedom and insanity. Charleston SC is one of the finest cities I have ever had the honour of visiting in my life.

SOUTH DAKOTA
Lowest unemployment of any state, nudging a percent. Arch rivals ND just pip them for shortest commute to work, the bastards! Good for trout fishing and Mount Rushmore.

TENNESSEE
Tee-total state? Oddly enough, not big drinkers here but love their violent crime and not voting. More bankrupts reside here than in any other state. A lot of country here and it pushes back hard against the city sprawl, a powerful root system that goes very deep. Apt, considering the state is a tranche of rich, deep soil sitting beneath hot, humid weather...things grow well and deep here.

TEXAS
Honk if you hate Texas? I've been there. It is big. Health insurance? What health insurance? Only freakishly young Utah is younger than Texas, where they are also very big fans of sex and having babies. Never mind Texas seceding from the Union, Austin might secede from Texas. Car ownership compulsory. Don't mess with Texas.

UTAH
Winning war of non-smokers versus California, just, spends the smallest amount on education than any other state but who needs books when you've got the Latter Day Saint scam...sorry...religion? Youngest state, median age of 28, some 4 years younger than the nearest: Texas. Loves sexual intercourse and babies are everywhere here, as are wives.

VERMONT
Who is this Jesus fella? 23% of Vermont is atheist. Babies are also off the agenda, only 10 born per 1,000 people, state has a French name which must have been difficult during the Bush-idiot years. Lots of hills.

VIRGINIA
I've been there, to the old core of America, the Old Dominion. Like New Jersey it has no state song, for what tune could encompass the long history and epic narrative that is Virginia? Steeped in gore and tobacco, plenty dead are under your feet here, even after the state has had so many chunks taken out of it to make other states up.

WASHINGTON
Atheism is God here, if you know what I mean. A liberal state where people come to disappear and get away from the rest of America. Grunge was formulated under the trees, wilderness and rain, hence the practical work wear in adverse weather conditions.

WEST VIRGINIA
I've been there. They like a smoke. Fattest state in all of Americadom (what an honour!) with 63% obesity, also the worst teeth, the poor bastards. Actually West Virginians are also nearly the poorest too. But how come they live so fucking long? "You're not from round here are you?" was coined in WV, where only 1% of the population is foreign born. Only state in the last 60 years to see its population go down by a huge 10%. May soon be empty.

WISCONSIN
America's top drinkers with 22% of population taking part in serious booze sessions, this also goes hand in hand with huge voter turn out. Worried? You should be.

WYOMING
Consumes more petrol than any other state, it is after all a big place where hardly anyone lives, humans just outnumber antelope in the least populated state by a royal mile and very square, in every sense of the word.

A good place to end actually because years ago, back in 2006, I did an Internet experiment about Wyoming, something called the Wyoming Project, inspired by Dick Cheney and how empty the state was. 

The findings of the Wyoming Project are here and here, it was great fun, a nice little blog mission that I undertook some time ago that has kinda come full circle.