Monday, December 10, 2012

Barberianism 2012: Blogging About Haircuts

So, I got a haircut last Thursday. This was a big deal.

I'm an actor, and therefore have kind of a strange relationship with my own body. Since I've got a current headshot that presents me to casting directors with a certain 'look', I can't really deviate from that look lest I walk into an audition and present a different product than casting is expecting. Getting a significantly different haircut means I'd have to drop a couple hundred bucks on new pics. Since I only get new shots every couple years or so, I'm pretty locked into a certain look for that period. This can get a little insufferable - occasionally it can feel a little bit like I don't actually own my own face.

When I wrapped on Stage Fright, my hair was reeeal long. Like, significantly longer than my headshots - in the movie I'd essentially been playing a guy that's supposed to be a Disney Prince (thanks for buying me as that, casting!) and flowing locks just made sense. However, when I'd got back from shooting I really wanted to get back to a shorter cut. I'd also just recently seen the movie Beginners, which, in addition to being a fantastic drama, features Ewan MacGregor with a totally rad haircut.

Rad haircut, Obi-Wan. Photo Credit: Beginners - copyright Alliance Films
I really wanted this haircut. Like, intensely. It was weird, as this wasn't the first time I'd wanted a Ewanspired haircut. The first occurrence ended in disaster around the time Episode II came out, leading me to have the nickname "Mulletor" throughout the spring of grade eleven. Maybe there's some kind of mystic connection between me and Ewan MacGregor's hair - more likely it had something to do with the fact that, due to headshots and it working pretty well for me, I've had vaguely mid-length 70sesque hair for close to 6 years and I was wanting a change. Erin's encouraging "yeeeeahs" every time I mentioned maybe getting that new haircut also probably helped - and, even more perfect, it was modern and different, yet only ever so slightly different than my current look.

So, after confirming with my agent that taking a little more off that back and sides didn't constitute an extreme makeover, I took the plunge. I figured, hey, it's December, the industry slows down anyway, it'll have grown the inch or so back to normal by pilot season. Despite this, I was still a little worried - change, even subtle change, is scary when it's tangentially related to your profession. I walked into my barber with more than a hint of trepidation.

My barber, Jason, is hilarious. An ex-pat Brit who's cut hair in Toronto's Yorkville district since the mid-eighties, sitting in his chair is consistently a laugh and a half - the man wears a tie and a fake ocelot tail to work. He invented a sound-reducing 'pillow hat'. Comedy all around. He was very surprised to see me more than once in four months - but quite excited to see me try something a little different after giving me the same haircut for years.

As the tufts fell from my head it was glorious. Jason asked if we needed to take a little bit more off the back, if we were "really committed." I responded "do it" as if ordering a nuclear strike. May god help me.

After it was all over, I was real happy. As I ran my fingers through the back of my head and looked in the mirror, I felt super confident. It felt like a really subtle change that didn't compromise my look...

...then I got an audition that Monday. Suddenly, all my doubts flew back to me. "Oh noooooes!" I thought. I'm gonna walk in and they're gonna be all like 'What did you dooooooo?!?!' and I'm never gonna work in this town again! Visions of having to explain myself and my crazyhair flew through my head the whole weekend as I prepped.

As I walked into casting on monday, I braced myself for accusations of unprofessionalism.

Casting didn't mention it once. Of course. Nothing, not even in passing - audition went super smoothly. All that worry for nothing. Actors are weird, sometimes.

Long story short, sweet haircut, bro. Also, the audition went pretty well!

Now all I need is to get some implants on my (mostly beardless) face so I can physically grow some bitchin' sideburns. That'd be rad.
Intense. Photo Credit: Erin Gerofsky

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fanboy Friday: Marvel NOW! First Impressions

All New X-Men #1 and Captain America #1 - images copyright Marvel Comics
Welcome back to Fanboy Friday! I seriously thought I'd post something else this week, but... I didn't. And I do love comic books.

This past year has been a weird one for comics. DC Comics' The New 52! initiative rebooted their entire comics line with vaguely revamped origins and costumes, for better or worse. Despite it blatantly being a marketing ploy designed to bring in new (and especially lapsed) readers, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Though I've followed several super-hero series in trade paperback, I haven't bought single issues of comics in years. The last time I followed comics month-to-month I was in grade school and my Dad bought me Amazing Spider-Man for a year back when Spidey was a blonde clone. I decided to give single issues a chance again when DC promised that this weird New 52 thing meant I wouldn't have to be jumping to wikipedia every other panel to follow a current comic book.

So, on account of pulling in lapsed nerds like me, DC has been kicking Marvel's proverbial ass this year when it comes to single-issue sales, in spite of The Avengers. Thus, Marvel NOW!

What a dumb title. Anyway, despite the suspect branding (to be fair, The New 52! isn't that great a catchphrase either), Marvel NOW! is a slightly different beast than DC's New 52. While DC tried to go for broke and completely Batman Begins-style reboot their continuity (to a debatable degree of success), Marvel isn't rebooting anything. A ton of their books are getting cancelled and restarted with new #1 issues, but the story isn't starting from the beginning - the company is just shuffling around creative teams and starting some continuity-light story-arcs to try to bring in new readers. Though this approach sounds less attractive to me than DC's reboot, I've always been a bigger Marvel fan, so I decided to pick up All-New X-Men #1-2 and Captain America #1 last week.

All-New X-Men is written by Brian Bendis and drawn by Stuart Immonen, a creative team from Ultimate Spider-Man, another very successful reboot series that I've been reading in trade for years, so I immediately had high hopes. The elevator pitch for All-New X-Men is also an incredibly ingenious way of preserving continuity while remaining attractive to new readers. It's a time-travel story where present-day Beast brings the original X-Men from the 1960s comics (Cyclops, Jean Grey, non-furry Beast, Angel, and Iceman) to the currently confusing Marvel Comics Present-Day to try to convince present-day Cyclops (who has apparently gone crazy and killed Professor X and is a mutant war-criminal or something?) to stop being a total jerknose.

First off, I haven't been following this whole Avengers Vs. X-Men thing that happened over the summer, and I was immediately skeptical that this story (and most of the new X-Books) seemed to hinge heavily on that crossover event. These are new #1 issues! No previous knowledge required! I was promised no wikipedia was necessary!

But, despite being heavily centered around previous continuity, All-New X-Men manages to satisfy both long-time fans and people like me who are using it as a jumping-on point. Those who've been following the comics get to keep this crazy Cyclops-is-a-bad-guy-now timeline - and for new readers, who probably view the "present day" Marvel Universe as a trippy, weird dystopia that's completely different from the X-Men comics they used to buy, the old-timey X-Men characters have the exact same perspective! By providing the original '60s X-Men as viewpoint characters who are just as confused by the present-day continuity as the new readers, the staff at Marvel get to have their cake and eat it too! It's not a reboot, but it's a great jumping on point.

I was especially tickled when Marvel's weird augmented reality iPhone app informed me the first scene that takes place in the past is a direct lift from a 1963 issue of X-Men written by Stan Lee. Neat! There's also a throwaway scene with Wolverine teaching some kids about how to fend off a ninja attack that's hysterical, that leads into Wolverine finding out Jean Grey (young, time-displaced Jean) is still alive that's actually quite affecting. My one worry so far is that it might be a wait-for-trade as the book moves pretty slowly on account of Bendis' trademark cinematic writing - by the end of issue #2 it barely feels like we've hit the first commercial break. It's the kind of book you might want to mainline six-issues at a time, so, we'll see. But, still, an all-around great book. I recommend!

Captain America #1 is also pretty fantastic, though less ingenious than All-New X-Men, conceptually. It's literally just a continuity-light first issue - no wikipedia trips required! So, that's a plus. Cap has an opening fight against an eco-terrorist named the Green Skull who talks like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, so that's pretty cool. My one quibble, which has been pointed out in other reviews, is that the opening flashback to Cap in the 1920s watching his mother being beaten by his father (so his mom can show lil' Cap you should never back down) feels weirdly serious and dark for a book whose story-arc title is Castaway In Dimension Z.  But in general, it's a book that is yet again a great jumping-on point for people who've only really gotten into Cap as a character post-movies.

Long story short, apparently I'm a sucker for targeted marketing. REBOOTS! But, hey, if it gets me editorial staff that realize comics don't need to rest so heavily on 50-odd years of continuity baggage, that's fine by me. I'm definitely gonna keep picking up more Marvel NOW! books, and I'm particularly excited for Dan Slott's The Superior Spider-Man coming in January, because it's entirely possible that series might also heavily use time-travel. And I do loves me some time-travel.

See you next friday, nerds!