Thursday, March 21, 2013


Today we started off with a slide show of deaths by stab wounds, the perfect continuation of the string of events since Sunday.  We saw many women who were stabbed in the face and chest.  This is typical of women killed by ex-lovers the doctor said - the face is often the object of stabby attention.

I started to relate my story about being menaced with a knife to my "colleagues." I managed to say a few phrases before being interrupted by everyone's dumb stories about being almost robbed.  They didn't once think to return the floor to me, or ask what happened after he pulled out his knife.  They chattered without pause until the prof returned 5 minutes later.

What's so sad about Walid not having an attorney is his perception that "the law of the street" and the Law corresponded in some way.  He earnestly said in his defense, "Yeah I pulled out my knife and pointed it at him!  I just wanted to make him keep on walking. I wasn't going to hurt him." 

Why did he admit to pointing the knife at me?  It was my word against his!  But he seemed to think that since his reason for pulling the knife wasn't malicious, that would somehow convince the cop to let him go.  

In the afternoon we saw a hastily planned presentation from one of the forensic doctors.  "Sorry," he said, "they told me I was doing this just a couple days ago and I didn't really have time to prepare.So he just showed us a bunch of pictures from things he's been doing lately, including crime scene photos from yesterday's headlines: "Dentist Murdered for 99 Euros."  The story is that an elderly man of 71 years was charged 399 euros instead of 300 euros, so he came into the dentist's office armed to the teeth, told everyone to leave, and then shot the dentist lady eight times.  After an hour holed up in the office he was shot to death by the police, who found many clips of ammo on him and two handguns.  So I saw everything there was to see and more from that grisly scene. 
Then we moved on to suicides.  The worst was a family that decided to kill itself.  The mother, the father, and the son (aged 19) all wrote separate suicide notes, and the doctor said there was no reason to suspect that they hadn't all participated willingly.  The reason was that they were financially ruined.  So I got to see all that too.  

I'm so fucking tired of this Masters program.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Che cosa è?

I often wake up to the upstairs neighbor's baby wailing, but not today!  Instead I woke up to a wailing baby from Italy in the background of a loud Skype conversation next door.  I've been listening to non-stop droning italian for three hours now (and smelling cigarettes).  Beautiful language they say.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ders Kerds Ern Brerklern

Two years after shooting ended, I finally got to see the NYU student film in which I play an unbelievably naïve appartment hunter.  I hesitated before clicking the link to vimeo, anticipating the discomfort and embarrassment of hearing myself say stupid things stupidly.  But the pangs of self-hate were quite moderate, either because my state of ennui, weltzshmerz, apathy etc. is nearly complete, or because I knew for a long time that the film was likely going to suck and could therefore not be disappointed.

It all started when I took a intro improv class at the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in New York.  I was initially wowed by the talent of my classmates, and most of them had agents and real experience and intense aspirations to be professional actors.  So when another student asked me to be in a short film, my first response was, "Why me?"  Did the others refuse?

I actually thought I did OK and "kept up" while doing improv with the clearly more polished performers in class.  I think that my only strength was precisely in my lack of polish, and my avoidance of over-acting or taking over the scene. 

The director said she wanted us to do a lot of improv, but we would be shooting on film... and she was poor.  So... erm.. clearly there's a conflict (she couldn't just leave the camera rolling and hope some improv gold comes along).   We did do several minutes of improv but none of it made it in the movie.  At one point I made the real estate agent snap out of character because 'I wasn't respecting her' during some improv (I had innapropriately put my head on her shoulder as she was rambling... not funny.)  I stayed in character during and after her outburst... a tiny victory for my craft.

The whole on-set ambiance was just weird.  We had only done one rehearsal (which went way better than the actual shoot).  There was not enough time to establish any kind of rapport.  When I showed up on set at the buttcrack of dawn (as instructed) the director barely acknowleged me.  Her eyes were half closed as she grumpily slouched around.  An hour later the other actors showed up.  Then I had to wait even more while the college crew figured out how to load the camera.  Free bagels!

The director had literally nothing to say about the takes.  I understand she was preoccupied by the technical aspects, but no feedback at all?  I should make it clear that I made a lot of mistakes, and horrible noob mistakes like looking directly into the camera.  Everyone was stressed, and the fatality of the whirring film only added stress.  I remember at the end feeling incredibly worn out.  I had been there for 12 hours, and most of it was feeling hot and sweaty, unfunny, and self-conscious.

I sometimes feel like I shouldn't criticise anybody involved in this shameful display, but that would be to pretend that I have some sort of future doing this type of stuff.  Freed of that burden, I can say that the writing stunk, the shot composition was questionable, and the editing was sloppy.  And I'm a crappy actor!  I'm still happy I was a part of it, and look back at that time with strange fondness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bite + Bite = Ouch

I was looking desperately for a little market in Lyon (it was 8 o'clock on a Sunday) when an "arab" caught my eye. I was so excited I failed to notice the "bite" and slammed my bite into the bite, if you catch my drift. That's the first time that has ever happened (surprisingly enough) and it hurt like hell! My balls are still tender. A young lady saw my slapstick routine and couldn't help but laugh. I had to laugh too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


In the past two days two people tried to rob me. First on the bus, a teenager tried to lift something out of my backpack and beelined out the front entrance of the bus (cleverly preventing me from getting at him because of the impending crush of boarding passengers), but another passenger stopped him. At first I thought the good samaritan was rooting through my bag, and I felt ashamed for yelling at him.

Then, late last night as I was walking home a group of 18 year olds drinking mousseux on the street asked me to come have a drink with them. They seemed like they were just drunk and having a good time (as I was) so I went over for impromptu good cheer. Within seconds one of them had his hand in my back pocket... and he wasn't flirting with me. I gave him an elbow and got the hell out of there.

Both attempts failed. The first punk, if successful, would've made off with a glorious booty of pencils, erasers, and used kleenex. The second insulted my intelligence by thinking I'd keep my wallet in my back pocket (not that this wouldn't have worked on me before). A shameful display all around.