Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Typical Dr. Phil answer/response/comment

Hey, Dr. Phil - I'm just wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

And what is your response?

Oh, really?

Future Projects, boxing update etc

There is a Shakespearean monologue in Henry IV, in which Falstaff sings the virtues of sherry.  Of course, in his time, it was known as "sherrisack".  Nonetheless, this monologue is essentially a commercial, touting the benefits of drinking fortified wines, and pinpointing the fine qualities of a well made sherrisack. 

I want to film this monologue as a commercial in black and white and use these videos/clips as reference points:

I suppose the product will be a fake one, called "Sherrisack".
One of my acting heroes, Orson Welles, tackled this monologue on the "Dean Martin" show.  Here is that video, fast fwd to 3:52 to see the actual piece (before that he waxes poetic about Falstaff, and you will also see an excellent example of old school stage makeup application)


As much as I'd love to do the whole piece as a faux commercial, it would simply be too long. So I have to make cuts and shorten the length to 60 seconds. 

So that's what is down the pike for me.

Additionally, boxing is going really well.  I am finally able to throw a jab, right cross combo without lunging forward on the cross when I spar.  "Lunging forward" can just mean an inch or two.  If you expose your face just a little bit for a split second, that can means lights out, taking a canvas nap etc.

Of course, when you are just hitting the heavy bag or hand pads, it's easy not to lunge....but in the heat of a sparring session it's a challenge to keep cool and maintain solid technique.  I attribute keeping cool to years of playing football and the fact that I don't freak out when I take a hit.  I attribute the technique to improved foot work/coordination and I attribute this to jump rope.  I'm a skipping machine these days.  I can skip 5 different ways interchangeably.  It's fun to do 100 one way and then switch back and forth.  Man oh man, skipping rope can be an exhausting workout when done right and long enough.

I can now see some abs poking through my belly.  At first I assumed it was smaller rolls, as opposed to larger belly rolls, but upon further inspection, they are indeed abs.  So that's cool.  It has definitely inspired me to put boxing and fitness in high gear.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Loko does not make a good night cap

Last night the Gut Punch gentlemen met up to discuss some potential new business and catch up.  It was a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun for at least two people. 

After a bar, a party and a cabbie who told 3 of us that we were too "big for the cab", we went to one of our apartments for further discussion etc.  I cracked a Four Loko open.  Big mistake.....huge mistake.  For those of you who don't know, Four Loko is a caffeinated alcoholic beverage.  People say, and I take them at their word, that it is essentially like having 6 beers and 2 cups of coffee.  I have to agree.

It was the last drink of the night, a nightcap of sorts.  A nightcap that I will never have again.  I'm getting too old for this kind of shenanigans.  I had the watermelon flavor, and it is because of the loko, that I totally mailed in this post today.

You reader(s) deserve better than this.  Have a great weekend and stay away from Four Loko

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My office is strange

We have a weekly meeting at my real estate job.  It's usually a mix of pep rally and fire and brimstone speeches.....and breakfast!  Usually, the office manager will walk across the street to Dunkin Donuts and get a box of joe or two and some bagels and call it a day.  No one really complains.  Its bagels and decent coffee.   Well.  Today, we ordered kosher food from a woman essentially operating out of her apartment kitchen.  Sounds gross and skeevy right?  Right.  But its KOSHER AND THEREFORE DEVOID OF BACON AND HAS BEEN BLESSED BY A RABBI! (So it must be good, right?)  Keep in mind this is 930 in the morning. 

Tartar sauce as a salad dressing killed me.  Murdered me.  It makes sense though......clams are not kosher, so how would they know that tartar sauce and fried clams are a match made in Goy heaven?  They would not.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Honestly, let's clean it up a bit - shall we?

This happens to me a few times a week.  The old world meets the new world, and in doing so, the goat carcass meets the shopping cart. 

Performers should not have a backup plan...

...well, unless you are a tightrope walker and your metaphorical backup plan is literally a safety net; that, I am all for.  Let me be clear here, I, PhillyRay am vehemently against splattered guts.  Now that that's out of the way.....

I had a lot of friends from my college days who said that they were going to pursue acting after graduation.  Perhaps 2 other people besides me are still actually doing so.  It's not like I'm old, I'm only 27.7 years old.  Did they just quit?  Did they become weary of the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle?  One gentlemen confessed to me that he "...just freaked out and wanted more money and a higher degree of [women]". 

The uniting factor in all of these people is that they had a backup plan.  David Mamet talks about this in his book True and False.  Most of the actors that I talked to about this book do not agree with most of the author's points....and I get that.  But......I totally back him up on the whole backup plan point.  Bottom line is, if you have a backup plan to acting, invariably that backup plan is what you end up ditching acting for. 

Backup plans are not survival jobs.  I'm not stupid, you should have a survival job....unless you are one of the privileged few people who are independently wealthy.  My survival job is real estate in NYC.  It's terrible...I hate it.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.  But I love the flexibility.  Love. Love. Love. 

Take today for instance.  It's raining.  So I posted ads from home and fielded calls.  I went on 2 appointments and showed apartments to clients.  I didn't have to get to my desk at 9am.  That is a huge relief....if I have a big audition (or a last minute one at that), I can work on the material at home. 

What do I mean as a backup plan?  I mean people set deadlines for themselves.  Such as...."Well, I'll try it for 5 years and if I don't earn a comfortable living, I'll apply to law school."  Or, "I will try to get an agent right out of college and if I don't succeed, I'll go into the family business."  If people say such things, I guarantee you that they will have given up on their dreams of being an actor.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  There is nothing wrong with making as much money as you can however you want to do it.  Yes, I said however you want to do it,  I'm a libertarian. 

I also have a huge beef with the word "try" in peoples sentences.  If you say "try" you are setting yourself up for failure.  Did you know that the ancient Spartans did not have word for defeat?  There was "winning" and there was "not winning"?  Did you know that I completely made that up?

Sometimes things just aren't right for people.  I've had two desk jobs in my life.  I got fired from both of them.  One lasted 3 months and the other lasted 2 months.  I'd have an audition and I'd go.  Screw them.  I'd just go.  I'd come back and finish whatever I had to do that day, stay late etc.  After a while they became weary and fired me.  It's all good.  They shouldn't have hired me in the first place, ha! 

So here I am, walking that tight rope and pretending the cold hard cement floor isn't 50 feet below me. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Real Estate is funny.

Funny weird, not funny ha ha. 

There are many doorman buildings in the Murray Hill section and Midtown East section of Manhattan.  To make their properties seem more exclusive, landlords give the buildings a name.  Seriously.  I know it sounds stupid, I know it is basically, how does the saying go?  Ah yes, "putting lipstick on a pig".  Or was is "Polishing the turd"?  Anyway, it must work because when I tell people that they are going to see an apartment in "Dorchester Towers" I hear a little "Ooh" as opposed to we are going to 236 E 36th Street. 

Here is an example of names of buildings, and I will provide those names with a weird contrast.....

On E 46th Street, there is a building called "The Ambassador".  This building is located 25 yards away from the UN, but the management does not allow diplomats.  Huh?

On Lexington Avenue in the 30's there is a 20 story building called "Lexington Towers".  20 stories is kind of tall, I guess.....but across the street are twin buildings that are 35+ stories tall.  Suddenly "Lexington Towers" seems to be compensating for something.  I suppose that something is a diminutive Indonesian doorman who can not speak English. 

On E 52nd street there is a building called "Rivercourt".  There are no clear river views and the building is 2 avenues and a quasi-highway away from the East River. 

On E 47th street there is a building called "Embassy House".  The problem?  You guessed it.  No diplomats allowed.  Well, unless they pay the year up front and sign away their immunity status.  Ha, like that'll ever happen.

Yesterday I saw a building called "The Mango".  Ha.  I'm serious about that one.  I decided to preview it and take pictures because I found the name to be in the very least humorous and in the very most refreshing and almost self deprecating.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

AT&T audition today and dramatic video reenactment

This was a lot of fun,  I am not sure how well I did so here is the rundown....

I arrived at the audition location and signed in, filled out a size card and had a digital picture taken.  I looked at the script and the commercial went down like this:

Extreme close-up: We see a man in a dentist chair with various tubes, tools and other apparati in his mouth. His mouth is wide open and his speech is impaired.  He gives distressed looks as the tools file, zing and gurgle.  He looks more and more distressed until his general rage gives way to tears of joy and it is revealed that he is not in pain at all (!), but rather he was watching a movie on his smart phone on the AT&T network.  The storyboard specified "offbeat is OK, but keep it natural." I saw this as a carte-blanche of sorts for my expressive face. 

So we had to mimic this for the camera.  I went in, slated my name, opened my mouth to the point of pain and gave the CD my most distressed and pained looks and gave way to tears of joy.  Yes folks, real honest to goodness tears.

"That was excellent." The CD said..."I could really sense that you were in pain there, and then at one point it could have gone another do it again but with more tears of joy.  Go."

My ducts were tapped.  I couldn't bring anymore tears, it didn't matter how I breathed or for how long, they just weren't coming on the second take. 

Will this matter in the end?  No one knows.  I'd like to think that my first take should be adequate enough for a call-back.  But like my coach says "If you are what they need, they will call you.  If you aren't they won't."

And that's that. But honestly, I do not envy this CD at all, because he now has to sift through hours of people doing this....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Audition a-la minute! [UPDATED]

Earlier today, I mentioned how my work ethic and unflappable good faith got me a commercial audition.  Well, I just came back from it and I feel very good.  Here is a recap.

The audition was for "Chobani" a Greek style yogurt sold here in the states.  Whenever I shop and pass by the dairy section, the product catches my eye because it is very similar to my last name, Chorba.  BTW, there is a Bulgarian woman who sits next to me at work; she has a working knowledge of Turkish and tells me that Chobani is Turkish for shepherd.  Makes sense...anywho. 

The storyboard went like this...Stephanie, a real Chobani enjoyer brings them to her work so she can enjoy them during the day time, but someone pilfers her yogurt.  OH, THE HUMANITY! She launches an investigation around the workplace and questions a "large man by the copier".  Guess which role I went out for. 

If you guessed Stephanie, you are wrong. 

Stephanie says "You look like you eat a lot of protein." I was supposed to give two reactions of the CD's choosing.  We were told to first react in a positive way and say something back, almost thanking her for the compliment.  Then on the other take I was supposed to be really confused and walk away.  Almost as if to be like "I don't know you or what your angle is, but I am leaving" But do this only through movements etc. 

I improvised my first take like this......

"Hey Phillip, you look like you eat a lot of protein."

(look up from copier, facial change from confused to delighted/confident)

 "200 grams a day."

The CD howled with laughter, and then told me to take it again but not as confident, same line in a different way.  This is when my acting coach's training is paying dividends.  I chose to use: relationship, location and mischief.  BOOM!  Nailed that.

Now time for the second take.....the confused-and-walk-away-sans-words take.....

"Hey Phillip, you look like you eat a lot of protein."

(look up from copier, facial change from confused to a bit angry about this slight...take one pace away and turn again back to Stephanie for a quick "button" on the take if you will.)

She chuckled this time ever so slightly and told me it was OK, but she wanted to see me not angry "It's like you are the nice guy in the office, so you wouldn't get mad."  I can do that, totally.  I AM THE NICE GUY IN THE OFFICE, I thought.

This time my reaction was....look up from copier, eyes widened a bit then I pursed my lips, by bringing them in, sucked in my belly slightly, silently nodded and walked away. This whole reaction was 4 seconds long, tops. 

She howled again.  It feels really good to use techniques that I practice day in and day out.  It feels excellent to receive a positive reaction to choices that you make during an audition.  I really enjoyed auditioning for this particular CD and the office itself was clean, and finely tuned in its operation. 

It is also a nice feeling when you look at the character you are auditioning for and you look exactly like it.  I know its' hard to tell, but trust me it's legit.  Yes, I unbuttoned my tie like the guy in the storyboard.  :-)

[UPDATE:  I have another audition tomorrow, for AT&T.  2 auditions in 2 days hasn't happened since.......ever?]

Keep chugging, keep plugging. [UPDATE]

As an actor, you are up against thousands of other people who want to do exactly what you want to do. We've all heard various "success stories" and have been regaled with tales of big breaks etc etc.  I have debunked the myth of the big break and I will continue to do so.  You don't get a "big break" - you get a thousand little breaks over your whole career.  I forgot who said that first, but it certainly was not me. 

So what's going to separate you from other actors?  The only things that I can control that I also believe can separate me from the rest of the pack are:

1) Effort - no one will out work me.  Ever.  This doesn't only mean working on technique, monologues or what-have-you.  It also means checking in with your agents if you have them.  Before I started working with agents, I saw them as a magic bullet of sorts.  Sign with them and you are off to the races.  Well what really happens is you sign with them or freelance with them and they don't send you out so much.  Who knows why.....maybe there isn't enough work?  Maybe they have 5 other actors exactly like you?  Maybe they straight up don't think about you enough.

2) Punctuality - practicing the art of showing up.  Always.  I am proud to say that I have NEVER been late for a single event in my entire life.  In fact, I am almost always 15+ plus early.  It's show BUSINESS, and the business world runs on time.  I forgot who said that first, but it wasn't me (yet again).  UPS maybe?

3) Unflappable faith.  If you are easily discouraged, or have thin skin, get out of this business right now.  No one will "out-guts" me for lack of a better term.  Besides, I'm 27.7 years old and it is now officially too late to start some other career. 

4) Pleasant Demeanor.  I heard that you have a .500 batting average when it comes to people liking you when they first meet you.  I like to think that my BA is a bit higher than that.  If producers/directors don't like you - they don't want to see you at 4am on set 5 days a week.  Of course, there is a thin line between likability* and being plain old annoying and artificial.  I hope that I am never those things....annoying and artificial that is. 

So basically, this business is a funny funny thing.  You can only control what you do when you walk in the audition room, the rest is up to other people.  You have to be the best possible actor/professional  you can be, and everything will fall together. 

*I will be the Bud Light of NYC actors: Phillip's difference is likability.

[UPDATE: I shit you not, 15 minutes after I posted this I got an audition for later today, a yogurt commercial......see what happens when you check in regularly?]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Slow week

So I am back at my real estate desk just straight up chillin'.  And by "chillin'" I mean, previewing aparmtents and making nifty videos that I advertise with.....don't believe me?  There is one below.  CAUTION: Prepare to at the same time, hear excellent acting and diction as well as just a subtle, subtle hint of "Wow, I really don't want to do this with my life."  But hey, I have to flex the acting muscles anyway. 

BTW, if you know someone who makes over $80,000 per annum and wants to rent a one room apartment, be sure to send them my way, because I juuuuust might know of  a place.

Work as a broker
Flexibility is great!
Don't strangle clients

Monday, November 1, 2010


When the going gets tough (and trust me, it has been getting tough) the tough write funny Haiku potery to get themselves through the day.  It's cheaper than plastic bottle vodka and it's good to flex the mind muscle. 

Rafiqi's Halal
Lamb Jalfrezi and a coke
OMG the pain!
Magic Johnson: AIDS
Landed a nighttime talk show!
(The key to success)
Work as a broker
Flexibility is great
Don't strangle clients
Cowboy schadenfreude
Giants? Ok, but Jaguars?
That is pathetic
Astoria life:
Greeks, Balkans and Muslims can...
All agree on lamb
"Whiskey bar" is like...
Disneyland for drunks, truly.
Depressing at lunch
Old Women, cougars
There is a difference, babe
Cougars: 1%
Hey you on the bus
You talk way too loud, for real
No one cares you twit!
Auto Mechanics
Either call you "chief", "big man"
Or "pal" then bill you
This isn't for school
Buy some M&M peanuts
Keep me off the streets