Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Told You That You Could...

One sunny morning back in... let's say '99, I was singing a merry tune to myself as I stepped out of my one bedroom in Atlanta. With ironic timing only the universe can manufacture, my landlord Tzafi was standing right there (trimming bushes?) and shaking his head at me. I blushed, and then recovered with a charming "I should be a singer, don't you think, Tzafi?" He countered, with the practicality inherent in the self-made immigrant, "You should be Something..."

Here's a question that haunts me frequently these days, and used to be my pre-recorded punchline to a bad performance: "What makes you think you can be a ________?" Usually the blank was filled with the word 'actor', with an occasional improvisor, or politician, as the situation required. It was a recognition of the power of people to influence each other in major life decisions: Your mother came to every play you were in, so you became an actor. Or everyone at your frathouse told you that you were the funniest guy there, so you got into stand-up. Maybe you, at the maleable age of 15, received a "Best Supporting Actress" award at the District Thespian Festival for your disturbingly acurate portrayal of an 85 year-old crone with murderous intent. I can literally see my head turning as they called my name, my paradigm shifting like the Round-Up at the county fair. REALLY? You all love me? You really do?? And so the path is set.

Who told you that you should BE an actor? Which of your myriad of childhood experiences caused you to decide that you LOVED the color green, that Alabama was the best Football team, that Beck was better than Weezer? These choices aren't stamped on our DNA, they are forced upon us, seemingly at leisure, by those whose approval we desire most - and don't even try and deny it, oh you of the Indy Rock Scene. Somewhere back in time some blue-eyed devil who never spoke to you at lunch suddenly stopped you in the hallway to compliment your Kiss lunchbox. And so rock was born.

And at 30, I'm paying a head-shrinker to help me decide what I want to do, what I Should BE, as defined by my own personal desires, and under the influence of no mother, priest, boyfriend or TV personality. I had no idea I knew so little about myself! I thought, because I was told I was a good actor, that I should BE an actor. That it was predestined, somehow. Of course I love the stage, of course I love making people laugh. Who doesn't? And yes, I'm good at it. But the career is more than that. They didn't mention that when they handed me the award. No one said that in order to keep the trophy I would have to write my own play next time, and find the sponsers to finance the production, generate my own PR and fill those seats every night for two months with paying customers. Then, do it again. And again. Oh wow... You mean I'm the arbiter of my own destiny? Crap.

And so Huck pushes the raft into the river - or better yet, tells Jim to do it for him. I've been told I'm a good writer. So I've begun to peer into some new corners, and see what I can do with this skill. One mantle removed, another donned. Funny how the neck aches in the same places. Maybe I'll never really know what I want to do. Because maybe you don't always want to do much of anything. Excpet of course for getting back to Kingdom Hearts 2. Now there's a hint...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cheaters never win

Except if they are secretly playing Champions of Norrath without their roommate who specifically bought the game so we could play it TOGETHER. Two-player hack-and-slash glory at its finest, courtesy of the Everquest crew, who are systematically turning all losers into bigger losers. Maybe the new word should be Gainers. Hah, yes, thats what I'm going to call losers from now on - Gainers - which will be hilarious when they don't know that I'm insulting them. A perfect example of just how funny this situation can be is the new movie Borat, which if you haven't seen it yet, simply means you're over 35 or under 12. But I digress. Which is the result of countless hours of hacking and slashing orcs, vamps and anyone else who comes at me with a sword, mace, bow-and-arrow, or magic. My mind is melting so steadily that I actually will attack my own summoned skeleton on occasion, and have given him a name with which I address him when he so cleverly fools me: his name is Skelly. "Damnit, Skelly, I thought you were a bad-guy. Seriously, quit running at me and do some damage for a change."
So, my roomie Ryan and I played this game together about a year or so ago and logged, well, let's just say "many" hours before we hit a Boffo of a glitch and had to quit the game altogether or RESTART. It was like... It was like... that one time you get food poisoning from your favorite sushi restaurant, and everyday after, you drive past, simultaneously drooling and cursing (which is VERY attractive, I imagine). We just couldn't see ourselves starting over, Ryan sold the game back, the pain was just too... Flash forward to Ryan's new girlfriend moving in, and in what I judged to be a subtle act of contrition Ryan buys the game (Champions of Norrath, are you still with me?) and we agree it is time to try again. Except for one problem most Gainers don't have - Ryan has a JOB. Weird... So in my impatience to wait for those golden hours when Ryan isn't working or hangin with his total fox of a lady, I started playing by myself. It was just a few boards, and I'm a totally different character! A Dark Elf instead of a High Cleric - its a completely different game, I swear! At first the excuse was that I wanted to make sure we could "avoid the glitch" this time, but that excuse only worked until I got to - and past - the "glitch-section." Then my infidelity became glaring. The tell-tale dip in the couch, the unfamiliar screens, the way in which my character just glided through the old boards, eyes half-closed and fingers fluttering over the controller like Helen Keller showing off.
Ryan confronted me one morning, and I broke like a Southern Baptist. Yes, I'd done it, I'd played without him and it was agregious, shameful, I already knew what happens after you beat the Vampire Lord. Ryan pleaded and I mumbled an agreement - I would stop. But how? How could I leave the Dark Elf Veronica stranded in a watery cave with no one but Skelly to keep her company for GOD KNOWS HOW LONG! Sure, she can breathe thanks to the Mermaid's Blessing, but STILL! How many months will it be before she levels up enough to wear that True Breastplate I've been dragging around for weeks?? It takes a strong woman, no Gainer, I, to admit that it would take more than just a mumbled vow of cold turkey to keep me away. I went to the Gamer's Methadone Clinic. I did what I've been wanting to do since March, when it was released. I bought Kingdom Hearts 2. Sometimes it takes a desperate moment to take a leap of faith. Let's hope I make it to work tomorrow. Goodbye, friends. I shall see you on the other side. But remember, I chose this path for good reason. I did it for my roomie Ryan.