Making the transition from ‘writing a short’ to ‘producing a short and writing a feature.’
Which means I’m in more of a romantic mood than a purely lustful mood, thus this choice for Song of the Day (or Week in this case).
I’ve said this before with this live version and my mind hasn’t been changed: if you told me the Zapp backup singer holding down bass is one of my uncles who rocked the jheri curl in the 80s…I wouldn’t doubt you for a second.
On that note, enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Back Monday night.
To the current generation of wrestling fans, he’s the ‘advocate’ for the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar. To my generation, he’s the mind behind Extreme Championship Wrestling. And those who came along before me probably got their first taste of him as Paul E. Dangerously, the loudmouth manager whose first great rivalry was with Jim Cornette. WWE’s newest documentary, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman’ looks at (by any account) one of the best wrestling careers of the past 30 years.
Told mostly in his own words, Heyman’s real life story is incredibly interesting. The son of a Holocaust survivor and a New York lawyer, Heyman like most of us caught the wrestling bug early through that glorious thing we call television. A hustler from nearly the beginning, he started a fan zine in his teenage years and was snapping pictures at events in Madison Square Garden before he was old enough to drink. With equal parts undeniable ambition and knowing what lie to tell when, the doc does a great job of charting Paul E’s rise through the ranks. Interviews with everyone from Dusty Rhodes and Tommy Dreamer to Jim Ross and Brock Lesnar fill in the story of what we know and saw onscreen to stories that have been mostly kept out of the spotlight.
And of course, what’s most interesting in this case, is another really interesting professional chapter is being written as we speak. I’m still partial to Bobby ‘the Brain’ Heenan as the greatest pro wrestling manager of all time, but when Heyman is completely finished…who knows?
Available to rent on iTunes (how I watched it) for those who don’t want to buy the discs.
My friends over at Dangerbang Productions put out a new skit this weekend, and I thought I’d share it today.
Wait a minute…is that?
No, can’t be? Can it? It sounds like…
Well, all I know, is WHOEVER that is doing the narration…
He sounds really handsome…
So last week, one of the homies hits me up and says ‘Hey Mr. Actor, I need someone to sing the anthem for my event. What do you think?’
Now, as with many things, once I committed (through professional necessity if nothing else) to get myself up to being a ‘competent singer’, I’m not terrible anymore. I can sing pretty much all of my favorite songs once I bring them into my vocal range.
Vocal range. Part of understanding the craft of singing is hearing the national anthem, and even without formal training, saying to myself, “I hear key changes, and octave jumps in there. Might be out of my league.’
But only one way to know for sure. So I closed all the windows in Aziz Manor, and gave it my best effort.
And I sounded, a little something, like this…
And after embarrassing myself to the point I couldn’t look at my own face in the mirror for a good hour, I asked one of my friends if she was interested, and she did a hell of a job.
The lesson, as Charley Steiner correctly says, is know your limitations people.
‘You know, we always called each other good fellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody, You’re gonna like this guy. He’s alright. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us. You understand?’
I know more than once I’ve publicly stated my somewhat ‘necessary evil’ attitude toward networking. Having said that, I just spent the night catching up/hanging out with three different friends from three completely separate chapters of my life, who in all likelihood would have never crossed paths with each other except for me being the common thread. And tonight wasn’t the first time in recent memory some of my ‘worlds collided’ to everyone’s benefit. As I say this ‘out loud’, I see now my aversion to the word ‘networking': when I hear it, the image in my mind is ‘I have no reason to talk to you, hell I don’t really like you that much, but I do recognize I can use you as an avenue to get something.’ That definitely turns me off. I try not to do that to people.
On the other hand, I’m very much by nature a ‘point guard’. Yes, when someone needs to shoot the ‘game winner’, I want the ball. But for the majority of the game, I want everybody on the team involved and feeling like they’re an important part of the game. The first ‘A’ I ever got in school was writing a one page book report on my hero Magic Johnson after all (and yes it’s still sitting in a laminated book in my mama’s house.) I’m all about the ‘assists’. Look at the whole floor and see who has the wide open shot. It may be me, but if you’re open, why not pass the ball? And I don’t even hoop anymore, but I think that metaphor is simple enough for everyone to understand. I want to win the game and win championships; I’ll worry about my own stat line when I’m done playing.
Now obviously, I’m selfish enough to be protective of my own reputation when I’m making a ‘double introduction’. If you’re wide open for a jump shot because everyone knows you can’t make a jump shot, then yeah, going into Kobe mode might be the best play. But normally, when the question is ‘Do I know a guy (or girl)?’ The first answer is almost always yes, and the more important question, ‘Are they going to do a good job and be professional about it?’ and that answer is always yes, then hell, I love that. Helping friends out where more than one person I like can benefit? That’s one of the best parts of being ‘Malik Aziz.’
So it’s not ‘networking’ I hate. It’s overt, barely disguised political moves.
One more Pay It Forward to end the week!
My friends down at the U of MMA are putting on another of their great cards this Sunday at Club Nokia. The show is always a fun night down at one of my favorite hangouts in L.A. Live. I’ve done everything from help put together the cage to sit cageside at their events; it’s cool to see an organization I’ve watched grow from the ground up continue to get bigger.
Don’t just take my word for it though, come down Sunday night and see for yourself!
Have a good weekend everybody!
Today is a Pay It Forward day.
Every year, the SAG Foundation holds a charity Poker tournament to benefit a facility I’m very familiar with: the Don LaFontaine Voice-Over Lab. If the name is vaguely familiar to you, then the voice is instantly recognizable: he was THE voice of movie trailers (and several other projects) in most of our formative years.
Among Don’s charitable acts was setting up a top end recording studio at SAG headquarters where future generations of voiceover artists could work on their craft. The Poker Classic is the biggest fundraiser for the Lab every year, and I can tell you from experience it goes to a very worthy cause for upcoming actors.
Watch the video below, and if you’re free Saturday, then hey…
I can’t completely put my finger on it…
But for some reason, the past couple of weeks, I’ve had ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ and this video on my mind more than usual…
(And yes, that’s sarcasm for you literal minded folks.)
In keeping with our ‘stay in the moment’ theme…
(Yes, I know, I’m a clever one.)
Where to begin…
Let’s begin at the end. Balance.
I couldn’t give you an exact day or at this point, an exact year, when I turned to meditation to increase my spiritual grounding. Like everything else, the beginning is the hardest part. You get frustrated that it doesn’t come naturally, you want to quit when you hit a wall without feeling like you’re making any progress. Then you get over that wall and you sense the progress. Then there’s no turning back. I can’t imagine my life now without taking time everyday to shut everything and everyone out for at least a few minutes and concentrating on my inner self. And yes, meditating may have the same purpose as praying but the two (to me at least) are COMPLETELY different actions. Praying is a very conscious action, meditating is an attempt to not be conscious of nearly everything but your natural biorhythm. So part one for me was making meditation a part of my daily routine.
Being an actor is obviously important to me; I love the craft. I’ve implied this in other ways, but I don’t know if I’ve ever said this as directly as I’m saying it right now: one of the greatest benefits that acting as a full time commitment has given to me, is that it forces me mentally to stay completely focused on the exact moment I’m in (or at least pretending to be in). Writing, directing, producing; they all can do it, but none with that immediacy. On stage in particular, if you’re somewhere else, you can bring the whole show to a halt real quick. I’m sure especially this is why I gravitate toward the Method and improv; you do all the research and preparation you can do ahead of time, but when the bullets start flying, you have to rely on whatever your instincts are telling you to do. And you don’t really have time to consider ‘Am I making the right decision?’ until after the fact.
So here I am now, with that commitment of staying 100 percent in the moment I’m in, gradually, and until now subconsciously, seeping into my ‘real life’. The natural tendency of the artist is to explore everything and everyone and try to get some understanding of the world to inform our stories. My free spirited nature will never lose that (I hope). But I’ve certainly become cognizant of ‘reigning it in’ somewhat. I’m aware of the positive impact everything I refer to here has had on my personal and professional life. If I could put a number on it, I’d say my listening ability has gone from 80 to a 95 (out of 100). I feel wanted, I try not to discourage it (as I know I’ve done in the past). I feel disrespected or being taken too lightly, I don’t hold grudges anymore; I just don’t get too comfortable. My all time favorite analogy about relationships (extremely simplified) asks: ‘How many deposits have you made in this bank (and therefore, when you want to take something out, are you going to overdraw the account)? What’s past is prologue, and I know I’m far from perfecting this skill (as it’s currently what I’m working on improving the most), but whether we’re clowning or talking business or sports or whatever, I can say with complete sincerity that whoever I’m conversing with at that moment has my full attention. Whatever we may or may not have been or done to each other in the past, whatever we may or may not do with each other in the future, all we have at this moment is right now. Let’s make the most of it.
May the Force Be With You.