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  My Wife and Times
 
Daniel Will Harris

The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. —Ed].

 

My new book: 
Napping your way to stardom, not to be confused with sleeping your way to the top

By Daniel Will Harris

"Get the knack of getting people to help you and also pitch in yourself. A little money helps, but what really gets it right is to never ... I repeat, never, under any conditions, face facts." ~ Ruth Gordon

Last year I stopped facing facts and started doing what I wanted to do--acting. I used to act, then I stopped because it got all realistic and filled with rejection, which I finally understand has nothing to do with me.

One of the advantages of age is perspective, and now I can see that auditions aren't about rejection, they're about having fun. Go in, read, play. You either are what they're looking for or you aren't. So much of it is out of your control that you can give up trying to control it. Just go in, be energetic, commit, and then que sera, sera.

As soon as I started doing it for fun, I started to get parts. First the lead in a feature thriller (which will either be released--or escape later this year), and another lead in a feature--this one I've also somehow ended up co-writing (we start shooting in August).

All this explains why I've done so much less writing lately (other than the screenplay!), and also how I've come upon this priceless advice, which I am going to give to you, my dear readers, for free!

===

Acting is a very strange thing to do. It's partly a childlike game of pretending, part a very mature and sophisticated study of human nature, part alchemy and almost certainly a form of insanity.


It's difficult for actors to explain what they do to people who don't act, or even people who want to act but don't quite get it.

There have been countless books written trying to explain some secret method to acting so that simply reading the book can turn you into an actor.

Actors love to write these books because 1) other actors are sure there's a secret they just don't know yet, 2) are willing to pay almost anything to find out what it is, and 3) writing a book taps into this desperate market and writing one could possibly earn you enough money to quit your day job so you can concentrate on figuring out how to act.

No one has yet succeeded in writing one single book that really explains it (not even the Russians) which is why most actors have read countless books on the subject, optimistically and naively thinking the very next one will reveal the secret.

All of which explains why I'm going to write a book about acting myself.

My working title:

"Napping your way to stardom, not to be confused with sleeping your way to the top."

My "Approach" (and I can't call it "the Method" because that one's taken) is simple: Take naps and let your unconscious do the work.

Of course, I can't say it in one line like that, because 1) no one will pay $25 for one line, unless the one line is the secret to the universe, and while this comes close I still have to dress it up so the book has enough pages to seem worth 2.5 bills and is thick enough to have a spine that stands out on shelves--and, of course, despite it's outward simplicity, I assure you it's full of subtle complexities that can make or break the Approach.

Done correctly, you'll be the next George Clooney if you're a man, or Cate Blanchet if you're a woman. I personally feel those two actors should be cast in every movie ever made, especially because then I might have a chance to work with them. 

But done incorrectly, you might sleep through a take, be fired and never work again.

So--you see--you must read the book. The entire $25 book. Every word. Even the little ones at the bottom of the page with stars in front of them that explain how I legally took concepts from other books and inserted them into my own, making it seem all that much more scholarly and official.

If nothing else, then you will be titillated by the chapter about "sleeping your way to the top" which goes into graphic detail and names names. It's good clean fun for the whole family.

In the interest of time and marketing, I will now present the preface to the book:

PREFACE:

Acting is mysterious. It's probably something you can't do. The jury is out on whether even I can do i, but there are people who can do it, or at least be made to look as if they can, and these people are alternately called "Actors" and "crazy-ass."

There's no magic pill you can take to replace years of costly lessons, painful digging deep into your own damaged psyche, and dragging your sorry behind to seedy auditions where so-called directors ask you to remove your clothing and make barking noises, but my patent-pending method is as close as it gets.

"How," you may ask, if you are still reading, "can napping be the key?"

"How indeed," I reply, buying time, trying to figure out a answer that sounds like it's worth the $25 clams you shelled out to buy this book.

I pause, wondering if I should set The Secret free, knowing that if I do, the entire rotation of the earth might be thrown off its axis as myriad new actors rush to Hollywood or Bollywood or Dollywood to find fame, fortune and Botox.

I decide to risk it, knowing that unlike magicians, who must keep their tricks secret, the brotherhood of the magic craft of acting is one of sharing, caring, and most of all, swearing.

So, without further ado, here's the frigging secret.

Nap.

It's a very good secret that only contains three letters. So easy to remember and/or tattoo.

Why napping? you might ask, if you're the kind who cannot leave well-enough alone.

The most logical reply to that is "Why not napping?"

You see? Simple. Direct. Clear. Precise. Easy to spell. Easy to type.

If you are still reading then you clearly didn't get it. Read it again, "Why not napping?"

Any better?

No, you're still reading. OK, I'll treat you as if you're a not-very-bright chicken and spell it out for you.

Napping has numerous benefits, the first of which is that it's a very good way to pass the time. You can escape from reality--just as you should when you act (even though while acting you must simultaneously immerse yourself in the reality of the given situation). See? Escape from and escape to. Mucho Zen.

Does this make no sense? No? That's a good sign. Keep reading.

Napping is refreshing. When you're on the set for 16 hours, most of that time is spent chatting with other actors trying to see if their agents are nicer and their career is better than yours, eating whatever is on the crafts services table (excuse me--they just put out the bean dip!), and if there's WIFI handy, checking your email to see if you have gotten a better job while waiting to do this one. Or heard from your agent. Or, if you're really bored and desperate, your mother. If your mother is like mine and has passed into the next world, then you shouldn't spend too much time waiting for email as it's just not healthy.

Naturally, the director will want to shoot your closeup at the very end of the day, when your makeup is starting to look cracked like Arizona on a hot day and the sun is setting so the production is "losing the light" and only have time for one take.

So as well as trying to get into the character and situation, you have 30-45 people staring at you, wondering if you're going to be able to get through a paragraph of dialog so cumbersome it can send lesser tongues into spasms. Or hoping yo're not one of those idiot actors who knew your lines all day but now that the camera is two inches from your nose is suddenly only able to think about the fact that you might have bits of chips in your teeth and are also distracted by the burning question of why you didn't trim your nose hair, just in case.

Now--if you have been awake all day, pacing, chatting, eating, then by now you will be quite tired. You might, in fact, be crashing from a sugar high caused by one too many little chocolate brownie bite things from Costco. In which case, you're screwed, the shot is lost, you have cost the producer tens to thousands of dollars, and your career is as dead as Pia Zadora's. Don't remember her? That's what I'm talking about.

Or--if you follow my advice, you will have 1) eaten protein before the take (cheese sticks are handy for this as they can fit in your pocket or sock), 2) checked your teeth in a mirror and flossed if necessary and checked your nose hairs, and 3) found the makeup person so they can fix your face and possibly save you from an eternity of playing corpses on bad TV shows, and 4) arrived on the set early, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and used my patent-pending, sure-fire, no-guarantees method of almost instantly falling asleep amidst the chaos of the set.

On a film set, if you aren't moving, you are instantly invisible. People will be having intimate conversations around you as if you are dead. Some of the crew might in fact wonder if you're dead but not want to check because then you'd be their problem. In other words, people will leave you alone.

And you will have escaped the insane, busy, tension-and-sweat-filled atmosphere, and have opened the door to your own subconscious mind, the place that holds the key to all the best acting. And you're right there, right in the middle of it. Seeing and hearing the things that lead to your character to achieve a metamorphosis from a bunch of badly, even randomly written words on the page, to a believable, deeply moving, and somehow spectacularly desirable character just ripe for acting awards.

That's right, all these benefits in one simple Approach.

Or at least, it seems simple enough. Did I mention that if you do this wrong you'll never work in this or any town again? I think I did, but I'll repeat it, in case you haven't yet purchased this book and are just some deadbeat reading it in the aisles, wondering how much you can glean for free.

If you glean nothing else from this, my friend, glean this: Napping is the key. I am so sure of it I guarantee it. If this book doesn't change your acting career (and life) for the better, than I guarantee you are doing something wrong.

So you see--you can't lose!

(Unless you're cheap, illiterate, stupid, tacky or completely lacking in talent.)

So read on, as I explain, in terms so simply they may even at times seem condescending, how napping is going to make you a star, even if only in your own mind (which, when you come to think of it, is really a lot easier than public stardom which, if you're ever seen a tabloid gets messy, fast).


My Wife and Times Cover

 

If you would like to read more fabulous stories, you need Daniel Will Harris’s My Wife and Times. The 148 page book contains stories that are conveniently short, perfect for bedtime reading, or between airport friskings. Price: $15 postpaid and is available for purchase online at will-harris.com/schmoozeletter/or on Amazon.com.

 
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