Be a Hero

When I was in high school, one of the first stories I wrote - the one that started the creative-writing ball for me in earnest, as a matter of fact - was one set in a not-too-distant future. Now-a-days the half-finished story would be an easy fit into the all-too popular "dystopian" niche, but at the time I wasn't thinking of it as such. I just imagined a world in which priorities had aligned a bit differently. It was about a reporter who goes to live amongst a secret leper colony, established on an island off the eastern seaboard, but the thing that sticks with me the most these years later was an idea I had about the culture of the city from which he came.

The idea was that everybody smoked.


smoked, indoors and out, and they did so because the popular opinion was that air pollution had gotten so bad that it was safer to inhale through a cigarette's filter. Something like: the smoke conditioned one's lungs to handle the much-worse stuff in the air, and inhaling through the filter helped keep the majority of that worser stuff out. I justified it by suggesting the "doctor recommended" smoking ads of the '50s had won out, but it worked for me as the storyteller by making everyone a little distant, a little coarse and plenty short-sighted.

[Update 12/19/13: I was right! Kind of!]

Now occasionally I wonder if I just got the wrong orifice. Ray Bradbury, may he rest in peace, in 1953 imagined these far-fetched tiny "seashells" the folks wore in their ears to hear entertainment anywhere. These were all a part of an imagined, self-isolating technology that we were irresistibly drawn to, which included wall-sized television screens and self-prescribed medication, and I'm ashamed to admit that I willingly use so-called "ear-buds" as such every single day. Nothing's so good an excuse to avoid survey-takers and the homeless - heck, even normal people! - as those handy, dandy ear-buds. And just look at how pocket computers help with eye contact!

 I indulge in this side-effect willingly. I'm grateful for it. Thank God, say I, for my iDevice, and its music and pod-casts and games and even occasionally sometimes if I can be reminded of it connectivity to productive tasks. Furthermore, I'm not writing here to lament this turn in human interaction. True, there are plenty of trade-offs. Yes, I fantasize about a badminton racket reserved solely for knocking the device from the hand of anyone trying to walk and tweet simultaneously. Yes, I'm reading less and have a shorter attention span. And, yes, I want more people than just the local lunatics to hear me if I scream for help. But also: Music! Games! Blocking out the God-awful continuous hammering of street construction! I am fervently all-for the critical resource of my mobile device.

However. There is a finer point of urban etiquette for which I make exception to my electronic enthusiasm. It has to do with a naturally artificial social situation we call The Subway.

I am not going to tell you to turn down your salsa music. Blare it out of the vibrations of your skull! I am not going to tell you to stop hugging the pole to maintain balance while playing Draw Something. Get that palate enormous, and three coins for Gryffindor! I am not even going to tell you to start taking your seashells from out your ears. Leave your seashells in. You are a beautiful mer-maid/man, and you glisten with the rapture of this week's

Epic Meal Time


I am going to tell you this: Open your eyes. And one more thing: Especially if you are fortunate enough to have a seat.

The Subway is a miserable solution to a miserable problem. No one - apart from the aberrant tourist - is pleased to be there when they're on The Subway. The best solution, the only and final solution, is to zone right the heck on out. ZONE, SON. You can get miles away, especially if you have those magic ear-shells. And maybe you are on there at five in the morning, and your hour-long commute is going to make the napping difference between a good day and an impossible one. And maybe you are coming off a fourteen-hour nursing shift, and the only thing that makes sense is bending your legs, just for a few minutes. And maybe it's just the stress (God, the stress) that makes you want to hold yourself and rock during the one period of your day when no one expects anything from you. I get it, and I'm with you, and I'm in the ZONE.

But open your eyes. This isn't the zombie apocalypse, despite what you've heard on the news lately, and the dog-eat-dog world isn't applicable to mass, underground transportation. Here is where the humanity is needed most. Here is where you can toss a token (so much more poetic than a MetroCard) and it will be quickly caught by someone looking longingly at something about the bounty of your position. Because we're all lucky to have what we have, and we're all here for one another. It shouldn't take a catastrophe to remind us of that - just a little gratitude, held in your heart for these moments when you have a chance to help.

So, please: Keep your eyes open. For the nurse, if you're a napper. For the napper, if you're a caffeine addict like me. For the guy on crutches, who'll argue with you for a little while about it. For the lady in heels (maybe she


to wear them for some reason). For the elderly. For the family. That makes you a hero, for the littlest while. But who knows? It may also help you reconnect a bit before you go back to conquering the world on your cell phone.

And just one final and specific point I'd like to make in closing. Some might argue that it is the entire purpose of my meandering exposition, and some of those same may accuse me of out-dated modes of thinking, but I will have my point made regardless. If you are male, between the ages of 13 and 60, and of reasonable fitness, and have the benefit of a seat when a pregnant woman enters the subway car, give up your seat. Right. The fuck. Now.


Found here.
I know I couldn't act my way out of an unlocked locker in junior high. I didn't know at the time - that's one of the blessed ignorances of youth that allows us to learn, I think. No, at the time, I was just excited to be there. Excited to get that outlet for all my confused emotional and physical energy, excited by all the trappings that were new to me.

Prior to junior high (and the inimitable Mr. John Newman) what I knew about performing was that my peers responded more when I made a performance more physical - especially when I inflicted some kind of damage on myself - and my teachers responded better when I recited lines clearly, from memory. What more could there be to it? It would take me many more years to learn even the most basic of acting skills and concepts, but in junior high I was suddenly and thrillingly dropped into a semi-professional environment.

We had published scripts. We spent time on dialects. We had auditions as well as performances for people other than our parents. We had a vast theatre - hell, we had TWO theatres at Lake Braddock, both the classroom proscenium (which dwarfed most off-off-Broadway spaces) and an auditorium space (co-designed by a former theatre teacher, so it was built as much for plays as for more official events)

Probably the biggest thrill of all this, though I can't explain quite why, was "tech day." Tech day was when we moved from the classroom stage to the auditorium for the first time. I don't remember if it was a formal thing every show, but it felt like it to me. It felt like getting real. We would open the doors to the curving, dark hallway that led around to the auditorium, and immediately we'd hear power tools and smell sawdust. That smell, in the cool dark, just before stepping into a vast room of seats leading down to a three-quarters-thrust stage . . . well. Memories.

I've had my last day filming on Android Insurrection out in Metuchen. In terms of a career as an actor, this work probably won't hold a lot of significance. I mean, it could be huge, just as anything might, but it's not a job I need to sing from the mountaintops about. (Getting on IMDB finally is a little mountain-toppy for me, though; perhaps I'll sing it from a monadnock.) It was more significant to me, though, than just a bit of fun. Working on this movie was a bit like revisiting that initial thrill I felt as a pre-teen, invited to walk down a dark corridor into a little living through fiction.

And now, too, there's a teaser for the movie. It expresses quite well, I think, the level of fun and excitement involved in making a genre movie of this sort. These movies, they seek to thrill and titillate us. Maybe we find them appealing because we feel a little younger watching them, a little less prepared, a little more thrilled. Our teaser starts with "In the 23rd century..." rather than with "In a world...", but danged if that isn't close enough to titillate me, just a little:

Android Insurrection Teaser from Andrew Bellware on Vimeo.

Alternating Realities

Warning: I will be spoiling the new Star Trek movie for you. If you haven't seen it and give a tootin' holler, go read



So, apparently, everything we've ever been taught by the cinema about extra-normal time travel is wrong. Go figure. I can't say how we can be wrong about something that at this time exists purely in our imaginations, but if such a blunder is possible, I'm sure Hollywood can find seventeen ways to achieve it in but one script session. It would seem that paradoxes, changing the past and alternate time lines, as such, aren't. I'm certainly crushed. There goes one of Hollywood's greatest plot crutches. I'm sure we'll never, ever have another story that ever uses time travel to the screenwriters' advantage ever again ever.

Unless, of course, someone goes back in time and changes that.

In the new

Star Trek

, the world of the 60s television show is effectively re-imagined, with lots of lens glare and "hand-held" close-ups. I am told the kids are calling this a "reboot" and, indeed, I noticed they put new boots on the Federation uniforms. This reboot is explained, justified, and otherwise meant to be made more palatable by way of time-travel incidences and alternate realities. (Alternate time lines = bogus. Parallel universes = apparently not ruled out just yet.) My biggest complaint about the movie -- which I enjoyed, by the way -- was how adamantly they established and reinforced this argument for making fresh new choices about Star Trek backstory. Just under the scene-after-scene of repetitive expository dialogue I could detect the seismic effects of so many screenwriters giving themselves pats on their backs. Thank you. Yes. I get it. The future is now, conveniently, mostly, unwritten.

It did, however, get me thinking about alternate realities. It's not inconceivable to

much smarter

people than me that there are multiple universes in which an incredible variation of common elements occur. We tend to be pretty narrow in our conception of such alternate dimensions, imagining them largely as revolving around us and our personal choices in life. But who knows? If the alternate realities are as infinite as we believe space and time to be, anything we can conceive of might occupy one or several. A moss universe. A universe in which the motions of the planets are determined by the game mechanics of backgammon. If nothing else, the notion of alternate realities is a very decent metaphor for, or illustration of, the human imagination.

Viewed through the filter of my comicbook-ridden mind, the new film makes Kirk our Batman, Spock our Superman. Kirk is the vigilante anti-hero, Spock the alien who wants more than anything to do right (and be accepted), and now both are motivated by parental demise. There even seemed to be an aggressive (in more ways than one) sub-theme of Kirk getting his ass handed to him in fights. These interpretations are not too far from the originals, so I took them in stride and tried not to snigger derisively. (Aw man, they blew up Krypt- . . . I mean, Vulcan . . ..) Uhura is way more bad-ass-er, which they tried really hard to make less-than-obligatory, and then they made her Spock's love interest, thereby reinforcing what Hollywood considers its biggest obligation to its audience: a love story. McCoy's a divorcee drunk, thank you Spielberg, Chekov is adorable, Sulu is exactly who you'd want in a bar fight, and Scottie -- well, Simon Pegg I love you and you can do nothing wrong not even

Run, Fatboy, Run


It's the characters that struck me and stuck with me, you understand. I suppose they were the reason I was there, to see a different troupe tackle archetypes, strap on the classic masks and have a whirl. This can be a recipe for disaster, and this wasn't a disaster, not by a long shot. It's just that the actors came across as more imaginative than the writers, which, keeping with a commedia dell'arte metaphor, is fairly apt. But it would have been nice to have both; maybe next time, or in an alternate parallel universe, somewhere/when/which. Which brings me back around to how we think of these alternate lives we could have had, or are having, in some-dimension else.

It's popular to opine that if we had it all to do over again, we wouldn't change a thing. Even when we think about changing something, many of us realize that we sort of like who we are -- the only "who" we know -- and we wouldn't be said "who" without the "what" we were given, when it was given. Or perhaps taken, depending upon your philosophy and/or theology. At any rate, the experience of our age just allows the slightest logical space to daydream about the past, and what-if scenarios. "What-if," I'm not the first to say, is an essential element in all aspects of acting. It's that logical crack that lets a little imaginative fresh air and warm light into the room. As

Friend Melissa

quotes Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack, a crack, in everything - that's how the light gets in...." There are people we have been, as we've grown, who in retrospect seem as foreign to us as strangers. Personally, I'm usually embarrassed by my former incarnations; but there are a few of me that I still love, that I'll always love, and will never quite be again.

Fortunately, there are no paradoxes, so I can visit with those guys any time I want, and the universe(s) is safe from implosion.