Monday, November 27, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name?

Your Expression Number is 4

Practical and down to earth - everything in your life is organized.
You are a great writer and teacher. You never forget a detail.
Very patient, you have the ability to cultivate talents in difficult fields.

You also tend to have an artistic side. You'd make a great architect or classical musician.
You face your responsibilities with a positive attitude - and you always get things done.
You are serious, sincere, honest, and faithful.

Sometimes your strong sense of responsibility leads to frustration.
You also tend to develop strong likes and dislikes, which border on dogmatism.
At you're worst, you can be a dominant disciplinarian.

The answer itself isn't so weird, what's weird is that it fits me ok and yet the only criteria they asked for was my name.

I do believe that names and words have power, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to concede that the name a person has actually has an effect on their personality. It just seems a bit too flip, too easy. Then again, haven't studies shown that certain names are perceived differently from others (the one I seem to be recalling is that names with forward sounding vowels - Brad, Mike and so forth - were associated with more attractive men than those with tones produced in the back of the throat, such as John)? One would assume that any such biases would be cultural/societal in nature though, especially since there are many tones and letter pronunciations which are not replicated in every other language.

This, then, begs the question: can you change your personality by simply changing your name? Logically, if one's name has any sort of effect on your actual personality (or, perhaps more importantly), how others perceive your personality, then perhaps you could. The issue, however, would seem to not simply be a superficial changing of one's name externally, but changing your very identity, the name that comes to mind when you think of yourself. In that sense, I suppose changing your name could very well lead to a distinct change of personality. What kind of person would I be if I had been named Hannibal? Or Kermit? Or Jeeves?

Wow, I guess that's one more thing to thank/blame my parents for.

Butterfly in the Sky...

1. The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton
2. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
3. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
4. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
5. Sideways, Rex Pickett
6. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
7. Le Morte D'Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory
8. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
9. The Sonnets, William Shakespeare
10. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
11. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
12. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Yiyun Li
13. interpreter of maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
14. The Neverending Story, Michael Ende
15. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
16. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
17. Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
18. The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman
19. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
20. the namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
21. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
22. seven types of ambiguity, Eliot Perlman
23. Unhooked Generation, Jillian Straus
24. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins
25. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
26. This Book Will Save Your Life, A. M. Homes
27. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
28. Youth in Revolt, C.D. Payne
29. jPod, Douglas Coupland
30. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Rainer Maria Rilke
31. History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
32. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
33. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, John Lee Anderson
34. No Acting Please, Eric Morris
35. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Marcel Proust
36. Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, William J. Mann
37. The 9/11 Commission Report, Various
38. The Aeneid, Virgil
39. Istanbul: Memories of a City, Orhan Pamuk

From the looks of it I'm going to be pretty hard pressed to hit 50 for the year. I did re-read a few fluffy books (couple of crappy Star Wars ones, a Roald Dahl book and the first two Winnie-the-Pooh books), but since those were re-reads I choose not to count them for my list.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Alas, I am no longer a "nyactor".

A couple weeks ago I walked into the International Student Services department at the New School and was informed that I had missed a deadline to apply for my OPT (Optional Practical Training, a year-long extension to a student visa for, well, optional practical training). Thus, since my visa had technically expired when my program ended (late August), I had to get out of the country as soon as possible.

This seemed fine; I figured I'd pop out to clear out my student visa, so it wasn't like I was trying to stay in the country illegally, and then come back, sort out my stuff in New York and move back up to Canada.

Not so, said US Immigration.

It turns out that after having been in the US so long, US Immigration wants to be certain that I am established in Canada before they'll allow me across the border again. This (apparently) means that the next time I try to cross the border (in several months, at the very least, I assume), I need to bring all manner of documentation with me, from bank statements showing a decent amount of money to bills, rental contract/deeds associated with a domicile, and whatever else those capricious immigration officers feel like asking me for.

After I got over my initial upset-ness at being barred from New York (I've decided in the past week that I fucking hate the suburban lifestyle), I realized it's really not all that bad. If I couldn't get any kind of visa after the year the OPT would have lasted (and it looks like I can't), and couldn't really put down roots in New York, then the year spent there would have been wasted (in terms of my career in the long-term) and I would have been looking at moving back up here in a year anyways. Auditioning will continue up here, minus the headache of having to deal with visa issues whenever I do manage to get cast in something. Canadian Equity will actually let me join, as opposed to the American original. The corporate world also beckons, but I'm not quite finished with acting yet. I don't suppose I'll ever be. The only really unfortunate things are that the vast majority of my stuff remains in New York (being mailed out slowly but surely, thanks to my awesome roommates) and that I'll be missing filming the last (possibly the last ever) 3 episodes of the season for my tv show.

I'm somewhat at a loss as to what to do with this. I don't mind continuing to write stuff here, but it seems somewhat ludicrous to have the address "nyactor" when said actor is not, in fact, in "ny". However, I don't know if blogger would let me move my archived stuff to another one, and I'd really rather not have to go clicking all over the internets to find some silly little fluff I wrote in 2005. Something to think on, I suppose. I certainly have lots of time to do that these days.

I close this with an amusing/interesting horoscope of mine for today:
You are a hard-worker, but there is such a thing as working too hard! Although you might want to push in one direction right now and force things to happen, try to resist this impulse. There are some things that you cannot change through sheer force of will. Other people and elements might need to come into the picture before there can be a real breakthrough. Be patient and trust that events are flowing forward at their own pace.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

First Steps

Watched Little Manhattan while doing laundry today. It's a cute movie, about an 11 year old taking his first steps into the world of romance. There's a bit in the movie where the kid has a little inner monologue about love that I found interesting, as he states his belief that love is about grand gestures; banners flown over stadiums, words on jumbotrons, letters spelled in the sky and such.

I found that interesting because when I was younger, I used to believe the same thing. Love was monumental, it was monolithic, it was this massive, angst-ridden undertaking. I used to dream up scenarios where I could prove my love to people I had crushes on (I was an intensely shy kid, given to fantasizing and day dreaming in idle moments. Well, I guess I still am that kid deep inside). It goes without saying that I never really spoke to any of my childhood/teenage crushes. Not in any sense that would have forwarded my romantic desires, at least.

As I grow older, I find myself coming to believe quite the opposite. Love isn't grand gestures at all; grand gestures invariably cost money, so all they prove is financial wherewithal - something which people may use as criteria for selecting partners, but which (one would like to believe) has nothing to do with that amorphous phenomenon we call love. It is, in fact, in the little things where love is found. It's in how you come to know exactly how she likes her tea made, how you can recognize that faraway look in her eyes or the distant sound in her replies when she's thinking of something else and not listening to what you're saying, it's in the way her presence comforts you without any words needing to be said.

Perhaps people will say that there's nothing in that that is eternal, that is lasting. And you know what? Maybe there isn't. Maybe love doesn't last forever. But you know what else? Maybe that's ok. Why the obsession with "till death do we part", anyways? Is it because people want to believe in it, want to believe in something greater than themselves, want to believe that love is more than just a evolutionary, socialized extension of the sex drive? Maybe saying, "I love you" in the heat of passion, in the heat of a moment is, in fact, the truest expression of it, greater than any calculated gift, a supernova of emotion that's very preciousness derives from the fact that it does not, can not last. I don't know.

Oh, and before people go thinking I'm just a cheap bastard, I'm fine with spending money; it's just that when I spend money, I want it to mean something aside from a dollar sign. Price tags on presents have never been a concern of mine; if it's within my budget and it's what I want to get, the best gift that I can think of, I'll get it. What's important is the selection process; I actually (this is somewhat embarassing) tend to keep lists about potential presents to get people. I hate getting "normal" gifts for people; if I'm going to get something for someone, I want them to know it came from me the minute they open it, I want it to mean something. Hence, the list; as the year goes by, usually I'll see at least a couple things that will trigger thoughts of a person, or we'll have a conversation where they happen to mention something they really like (or even something embarassing or amusing about themselves - these are gold). That's when I write it down, as (being a Bear of Very Little Brain) when the pressure's on and a birthday or other gift-giving holiday approaches, I can never think of any of these things.

Neurotic? Probably. Worth it? Totally.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A week or so ago I caught The Last King of Scotland, which is - I hesitate to say good, as it isn't, really. Forest Whitaker is awesome and James McAvoy isn't bad, but the movie as a whole left so much unsaid that it was somewhat frustrating.

I do find it interesting that the user comment on IMDB mentions that McAvoy's character is, "highly unlikable...for the most part comes across as a flighty, over-educated twit with foggy ideas on good deeds and uncontrollable hormones that lead him to hounding after every marginally attractive married woman he comes across," because to my mind, part of the point of the doctor is that you are not meant to sympathize with him. There are shades of metaphor in the character of the doctor (Nicholas Garrigan), a Scotsman who becomes Idi Amin's personal physician, and, if the events in the movie are even partially accurate, one of his most trusted confidantes and advisors. Much like the countries of the West, Garrigan is an enabler; he sees what he can get out of Amin, and blinds himself to the paranoid, homocidal reality. Garrigan is a mirror for us all, a reminder that we are responsible for some of the most rephrensible acts the world has seen, and not just in some mealy-mouthed intellectual, "We are all inter-connected" bullshit way.

Before the movie played there was a trailer for a film version of The History Boys, based on the play of the same name and boasting most (if not all) of the same actors. Anyways, there's a bit in the trailer when a teacher is talking to a kid about reading, and how the joy of reading is when you read something written years, decades or centuries before your time, something you yourself had thought, and it was like a hand from the past, reaching out to you to comfort you.

Personally, I had always taken the replication of thoughts in a much more negative way, as a sign that there was no such thing as an original thought, and, basically, people are stupid and unable to move beyond the same questions, generation after generation. And really, it's sort of the same thing, it's just a nicer way of looking at it.

Over the past few months I've had a number of people tell me I was shading quite negative/cynical in my attitude. I'm not really sure if they're right or not. But when enough people tell you they think something, it probably behooves you to engage in a bit of self-examination. The other response, I suppose, is to find new friends, but I don't really see how that would help if those people were right in the first place. Unless the new friends you got turned out to be emo-goths, and then you could be like, "Dude - I am too negative."

I've also been having some visa issues as of late. Seems I missed a deadline and such for extending the visa I was on. People are scrambling, things are being talked about and it will either work out and I'll be able to stay or it won't and I won't. In some ways, I see this as a good thing; it's a problem I would have had to deal with eventually, so might as well get it out of the way now. As an odd aside, though, I wonder how exactly people go to LA (or wherever) from Canada and magically get cast in things; what sorts of visas do these people acquire? Because they obviously can't have one going down in the first place, frequently they just sort of show up and start auditioning. This, in itself, might be questionable - one of the interesting asides from the Katharine Hepburn book I read was how so many movie stars in the Golden Age were reputed to have had horrible first screen tests, at least partially (or perhaps mostly) because the studios figured the general populace would be more accepting of "underdog" actors who were at first denied their shot at stardom by ignorant executives. However, I can't shake the impression that somehow, some way, people show up, audition, get cast and then get visas, presto change-o and such.

Blah for visas and immigrant law. Blah.