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Monthly Archives: September 2009

Front Row


I am an actor. I am a singer. I am a performer……

 

Ok now that I’ve made you chuckle a bit, let me explain why I decided to be overly dramatic ….

 

I am not a “big-time/small time” actor in the least and whatever acting/singing jobs I get are so “few and far between” that even my grandmother’s teeth (minus the dentures) were closer together. So it was a shock to discover that not only am I in a movie that premiered at the 2009 T&T Film Festival over this weekend, but that I am in two of them.

 

The first one, The Ghost of Hing King Estate, I filmed that in late 2007 and just didn’t know what became of it. The other, Minutes to Midnite, a short film (20 minutes) I filmed earlier this year and well I knew when that one would premiere. I have only “bit” parts in both of them (less than 5 minutes of screen time in both but hey at least I’m on the screen.

 

What I didn’t anticipate is my reaction to seeing myself on the big screen. I still haven’t seen “The Ghost” movie yet but my friend Clint saw it on Saturday night and told me that he liked my accent in the scene.  “Uhh what accent”, I replied. I just didn’t recall having any kind of accent in the movie. At that point in time I decided that I obviously sucked in that movie since I remember filming it but I don’t recall having an accent of any kind. For me having an accent in a movie would’ve required intense concentration and I don’t recall concentrating much in filming those scenes. Sigh….

 

On Sunday afternoon around 3pm, I saw Minutes to Midnite. This is a 20 minute short filmfilmed, directed and written by a guy named Ryan Khan. It is “gangster-type” short film using folk tale characters in the lead roles. 

 

I liked the script. My character, though a very minor role, was interesting. His name was ShakesBear and even though he hardly spoke whenever he did, he usually quoted lines from Shakespeare. Uhh Interesting Concept (I thought to myself). Then I saw the film and realized that most of the lines and sceness I had in the film ended up on the cutting room floor (just like Michelle Monaghan who had all her scenes cut from Constantine and Syriana so that it was if she was never in the movie) and those that I did deliver sounded wooden and plain just awful.  I couldn’t bear looking at myself far less hearing my own voice.

 

I must say that the short was interesting and his editing and cinematography was really good, but for the life of me, I just could understand why someone didn’t pull me aside and say: “Hey, Yuh stinking up de short boy!!!”  Now I know for sure that I don’t have the stomach to look at The Ghost of Hing King Estate.

 

This is the firs time I’ve have seen myself on the big screen. My previous outings have been on the small screen (TV) and even with those I have rarely seen the episodes that I filmed..  I have been on two local soap operas, Westwood Park and The Reef both by the same director (guess she liked my work).  I however, have only seen three scenes from “The Reef” while I have never glanced at an episode with me in it from ‘Westwood Park”.  The Reason? After I shot Westwood Park I moved to Germany for the Lion King and therefore never saw myself on screen. My mother video taped the performances but it got lost making it way around family members and so I have no idea of my performances. Is that a good thing? I am beginning to think it is not otherwise I would’ve realised how bad I look on screen and halted this movement.

 

On the other hand, I have been complemented by some of the directors I have worked with when a scene I shot has been really good. So I guess I am not all bad. I just can’t get over how bad I was in Minutes to Midnite. While I want Ryan’s work to be seen by as many people as possible, I just wish there was a way to edit my character out of the movie. I was literally an extra with a few lines that got edited to three and even with that, I found no reason for my character  to even be in the movie. I feel traumatized. I didn’t even stay around for Ryan to ask me what I thought about the movie. It must’ve pained him to have to work around the scenes.

 

I know I am probably going a bit overboard with my “pity party” right now but I am not kidding when I say that “I stunk to high heaven” in that movie.

 

Oh well we all have done things we are not proud of, isn’t that so –

 

Halle Berry – Catwoman

Eddie Murphy – Norbert, Pluto Nash, Harlem Nights

Kyle Mac Lachlan Showgirls, Touch of Pink

Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta Jones – American Sweethearts

Shaq – Kazam, Steel

Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck – Gigli

The Cast of Batman & Robin

 

LOL boy am I full of myself or what!!!! Here am I comparing myself to people who have made millions of dollars for bad roles, while I barely crossed TT$400 for the short film.  Then again, were their performances bad or was it the entire movie? Sigh….alone again., naturally.

 

I also did a stage reading of a local play called Playing Hamlet by Ronald John this weekend that was so poorly attended that the cast was ecstatic on Sunday when the audience had 12 people in it. It was a small venue that seated about 40 persons so you know how bad things were when we were excited for 12?  I think one night we had 4 people. It wasn’t a bad play and I enjoyed working with the group of actors that came together for it.  

 

For me, I just wished I had a bigger role in it. Out of an 83-page script, my character came in on Page 67 (Second Act only) and lasted for about 12 pages and 30 lines of dialogue.  I had to keep reminding myself that “there are no small parts, only small actors”.  Steups….Whoever came up with that obviously was in therapy.

 

A shining moment for me came on Friday night (play opened on Thursday) when the lead actor could not make it and I filled in for him.  I think I hammed it up a wee bit too much though. I was so happy to have so many lines that think I tried to “Meryl Streep out” every line I had.  No. I didn’t cry (not for lack of trying) but I did give a lot of lip quivering ever so often.  I am so sad when I think about it sometimes. Yes some scenes I just sounded like Halle Berry in Xmen 2 after she won the Oscar…a wee bit overdone. Others were really good. There was a scene in which I cowered after killing someone and I was proud of myself how I did it. Even the actress I had the scene with said she “felt” a connection to me during it.  I grinned internally.

 

Anyway, that is also over and now it is back to work and my normal life.  As if much ever changed…..

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

7 Things


I learnt over the last two months (or as we in the Caribbean call it…July/August Vacation).

 

SELF

I am restless again.

I can’t explain it but there comes a time, every couple of years, when I sit down and just know that I need something new and exciting to be going on in my life. Since moving back to Trinidad in 2005, I have been trying to find something new to occupy my time. When I got home I ballooned from 200lbs to 250lbs in a couple of months. Then I started a hectic fitness regimen that lasted for all of the latter part of 2006 and all of 2007. Never was I so skinny or fit as I was during that period. Then came the lull. The plateau period where the exercising wasn’t doing it for me anymore. It wasn’t enough to keep the demons at bay. Then the “I need something new to do or I’ll just stay here and eat” phase  arrived in 2008.  Nothing much happened in that year and in 2009 I am trying new things but this time the restlessness is just not subsiding. It is growing exponentially.

 

I started Rosetta Stone Language Learning online in July (Spanish and German) but after two weeks of a strong start, I am down to visiting the site like once a week. Plus I am annoyed with getting stuff wrong and the pronunciation sections are kicking my ass. Words that I know I can pronounce correctly, the program is failing me on them. “Tschuss” a word I have used EIGHT million times while living in Germany, is a source of pain for me with the program. It keeps telling me that I can’t pronounce the word and therefore I keep getting less than 90% correct in sections that require me to speak into the microphone. Sigh…..I don’t like not getting 100%. So I am losing interest in these things now.  Jeez I need to work on my commitment skills.

 

I started tennis back the other day (but we will talk about that later) and I am desperately trying to find a place where I can swim or take some sort of swim classes so I can improve on my technique or extreme lack thereof. Flapping ones arms in a pool and not being able to make one lap is embarrassing for someone who should know how to swim well. Lately I have been convincing myself that not being stuck in a gym will give me the impetus to keep at these cardio activities. We’ll see.

 

Work is so-so and I’ve made it a point of not talking about work on my blog lest some co-worker or idiot (same thing sometimes) decide that they can finally operate their email and send it out to the masses. And well the performance part of my life is stuck in somebody else’s life as I haven’t done anything creative in ages.

 

As we speak I am going to be doing a series of readings over 4 days for a play called “Playing Hamlet”. I was kinda happy when I got called then I saw that my character only comes in the Second Act (Page 67) and then stays there for 20 pages then leaves. I was like…”ummm u call me out my house for this?” But beggars can’t really be choosers. The good thing about it is that my character is really cool and funny and when he enters he really makes u laugh. I could live with that. Hey DameJudy Dench got an Oscar for less screen time than that. HAHAHAHAHAHA (nervously) Oh boy I am one sad puppy!!!

 

WEDDINGS & COMMITMENT

No more weddings!!!

I have been to four wedding for the year and I honestly think that is 3 too many.  And the strange thing is that all my invitations just listed my name. No “Plus 1” or “& Guest”,   Nope, just Stefan Simmons.  Only the groom at the last wedding asked me like a month before I got the invitation if I wanted to bring someone. Even when I told him I might, I got my invitation for one.

 

I blame it on the fact that to compensate for coming to the weddings alone, I would take pictures with my Panasonic Lumix Camera (which I love). So in the end I figured out that these people invited me alone so that I would not be constrained in having to sit by my date and instead would be able to get good wedding shots/ angles that their official and more expensive wedding photographer missed. As I write this I know that one of my wedding pics is the desktop background of one of my co-workers. I find that fact brings a joy to my heart. And I know it isn’t there for my benefit but because she really liked it.

 

At each of these wedding, I hung out with the same people and it was always a standard joke with me and their spouses about why such a handsome man like me is still single ( the handsome line always makes me blush like an idiot still at this age).  One guy’s wife even says if she was younger she would grab me up. My response to her: “I have been known to cause women to scream at me for no other reason but in frustration. Do you want that?” She says that I am a baby and that she can handle me.  I laugh internally and say “Many have tried and all have failed.” Then the topic always switches to my apparently obvious fear of commitment.

 

Ignore what you’ve heard or thought of me. I know that I am not a commitment-phobe. I am capable of having long term relationships and making them work. Let me give you examples of my ability to commit.

 

  • I have been renting the same place for almost 4 years now.
  • I have numerous god-children.  All who know me well (This speaks to the fact I am able to bond with others for long periods)
  • I have a 2 year contract with my internet service provider. This was a task but the savings made the decision easier
  • I’ve had the same friends for close to ten years.
  • I am committed to a 6 year loan with my car and we are almost at the end of year 4. We are still together.
  • I once paid for my gym membership in 3 month intervals. (now THAT is blind commitment)

 

I think that is enough proof. Don’t you?

 

So all you naysayers out there!! Stefan knows what he wants and is not running from anything. Well I will run from anyone that tells me they love me within 24 hour period of meeting me but that is not fear of commitment that is fear of mad people.

 

FITNESS

I am totally UNFIT.

After a slew of tennis lessons for the past three months (twice a week), I haven’t lost a pound. Walking up a flight of stairs still has me breathing hard.  Plus I haven’t gotten rid of my second trimester stomach. No matter how hard I try (um well honestly, on the days I don’t have tennis I kinda just sit at home and eat…so I guess it’s not my fault?). Now I bitch and moan about this because after I finish an hour of tennis I am gasping for air and crawling to my bag at the side of the court. My coach just hits the ball everywhere for me and he says I have the energy in me to get it wherever it lands.  He obviously is mistaking me for someone who wants to do this professionally. He even declared that I will be ready to play tournaments in 6 months time. Three months have passed and me no think so……

 

MOVIES

Movies were lame this year so far but here are some observations:

  • JJ Abrams can reboot/re-imagine the phonebook and I’d watch it over and over again. I LOVED STAR TREK!!!!! I didn’t care for Spock as much as everyone else but it was still an effective movie.
  • Wolverine, Transformers and G.I. Joe, all left me feeling a bit cheated and not totally satisfied. Transformers 2 was just a waste of time for me.
  • The Hangover, Drag Me to Hell and District 9 were surprisingly entertaining and blew me out of the park for exactly what I expected from these movies. I still laugh when remembering the “Tiger in the bathroom” scene from the Hangover.

 

Honestly, don’t you think that the “Summer” Blockbusters this year sucked and weren’t very good at all? I miss the days when u ran to see a big budget movie and left the theatre in with “WOW” written all over your face.  Independence Day still does that to me sometimes (I hear snickering…..Go to HELL!!). Now when I leave the movie theater, my face normally looks perplexed and all it says is “ Well that was interesting.”

 

MUSIC

Ummm was there any good summer music this time around? I only bought 8 CDs over the past two months and two of those are for voice lessons (Stop Snickering). The other I totally enjoy is by a self –titled debut CD by an artist called Kina ( she is also my FB friend now). Yup things are really bad for Summer 2009

 

Observations:

Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell – Welcome Back to the Music!!! Took you long enough….

Black Eyed Peas    why are they still around?

Taylor Swift – Yawn

Drake – Ok catchy songs but where is the album?

Keri Hilson – Knock You Down is catchy (nuff  said)

 

I was really bored this season. Nothing inspiring came out at all during this perod.

 

September has started off well so far with the New Whitney Houston Album. It is not as bad as I thought it would be and there are some surprisingly good songs on it but it seems she continues her quest from the album “Just Whitney” to butcher classic tunes.  I can’t seem to get her ending line of her cover of “You Light Up My Life”. “You light up my loooooooooooof “ is just ridiculous and I can’t get it out of my head. Then on this album she turns my favorite Donny Hathaway song “ A Song For You” into some disco crap. Sigh….be still…..Let it go…… Other than that, her new album is really not that bad. The first three songs on it are really catchy while all being slightly camp. Go buy it. Save Bobbi Kristina’s College Fund!!!

 

TV

My favorite one eyed giant

I know I watch it way too much, but it keeps boredom at bay as well as keeping me focused on the new helpful invention that would help me clean my apartment and not build up a sweat. With the Swiffer/Swivel and Oxy Clean proving to be failures so far, I am on the hunt for something new.

 

I am in love with TRUE BLOOD on HBO. The first season was okay and had some interesting characters, but the second season just kicked itself into high gear and never stopped. I was officially hooked on a vampire based show when all around me I was being flooded with alternative vampires (Twilight, Vampire Diaries etc). I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in seeing how rednecks get on when vampires move to their parts.

 

My guilty pleasure has also been a show on Fox called GLEE. Anyone that knows me, knows I will fall hook line and sinker for a TV show that is funny and has some music involved. Up comes Glee with a cast of hilarious characters and a soundtrack right off the Top 40.  The singing is good and though there are a few lip-syncing problems, I just can’t stop watching it. I saw the second episode for the fifth time last night and can’t help but thinking that the Cheerleading Coach (played by Jane Lynch) has to win an Emmy for being just the funniest character on TV in ages. She is also a riot as Charlie’s Therapist on Two & a Half Men.

 

Also, I am in love with the Food Network!!!! ( You really have to ask why? ) Iron Chef, Chopped, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and just about every other program on it even those cake decorating shows. . What I can’t stand is “Down Home with the Neelys”, “Big Daddy”, Rachel Ray and every other program that has that Southern woman named Paula. She cooks with things that should read “triple bypass approved”. Why is she on? The Neelys just annoy me every time they get all “lovey dovey” on the screen. All that kissing and flirting is not necessary to cook food. It drives me mad. Who the hell says. “You know how I like it daddy!!” while trying to teach someone on screen to sauté fish a certain way? UUGH just annoying. And Big Daddy, ummm I mean Big Girly..cause why do u have all those hoops in your ears to cook? Nothing you make looks appetizing. UmmRacehl Ray…grabbing a handful of something can never be considered a teaspoon  measurement (you crazy woman!!)

 

Any way The Food Network is now programmed into favorites. I won’t be doing any recipes from it but hey I can live a little and have my mouth salivate at some of the stuff these ppl cook up. Plus I don’t gain any weight even with all that food around me.

 

DEATH

How come so many celebrities’ contracts with the Devil ended this year? Hmmmm

Yes I know that was a heartless statement to make but honestly, celebrities are dying off  like flies this year.  I refuse to believe that my age has anything to do with the fact that I know most of these people that have left us……..

 

Here is a short list:

Michael Jackson         Farah Fawcett             Molly Sugden                           Bea Arthur                   Eartha Kitt

Patrick Swayze           Karl Malden                 Walter Cronkite                       Ted Kennedy               DJ AM 

Les Paul                      Corazon Aquino          Billy Mays                                Ed McMahon               David Carradine

Chuck Daly                 Dom Deluise               Natasha Richardson               Ron Silver                   Wendy Richards            Ricardo Montalban

 

Ok I must admit, some of them have been here since the time of “Moses” so I guess it was their time but some just went way too soon. I will surely miss Molly Sugden and Wendy Richards from “Are You Being Served?”. They provided me with hours of non-stop laughter when I was growing up. Bea Arthur will always be my sarcastic benchmark in knowing if I have gone too far.  Michael Jackson will just always be Michael. He was the one who gave me that brilliant “Off The Wall” album and whose “Invincible” album, I still regard as being highly underappreciated and underrated.

 

Good bye Mr. Rouke or as Captain Kirk would say KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

Nobody will ever put baby in the corner again….

 

 

I will miss them all in one way or another.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2009 in Uncategorized