Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Casting Couch

Come to the 31st floor of a luxury apartment building on Wabash Avenue.  Get on the couch and work for 20 minutes, and you'll be able to afford groceries for the next two weeks. 

Do I look ashamed? 

I am. 

Yesterday, I did something dirty.  I set back human relations by an almost undetectable increment.  I walked on my name and my heritage, and for what?  Another step along the pipe dream path toward a so-called film career. 

I allowed myself to be type cast. 

I'm sorry.  But what's a southern boy to do?  I already have some experience in the industry, I own overalls, and I needed the money.* 

So when Mintel offered me the opportunity to play a yokel in one of their web ads, I didn't say "no."  If only I'd known they would spew parts of my session all over the internet.

I'm so ashamed. 

Please don't show anybody that video footage.  Especially not people who would want to cast me again.  The fact is, I'm afraid that I enjoyed it a little, and if the phone kept ringing with these kinds of opportunities, I might wind up making it a lifestyle. 

Oh no.  What if I already have?


*Plus, I've been looking for another opportunity to write about my acting career in sexually ambiguous terms. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monkey Business

I will be volunteering with the company called Barrel of Monk Eyes in January.  I just found out yesterdat.  Barrel of Monk Eyes is a really good company.  They work with thrid graders.  They also work with forth graders.  And fith grades.

They turn writing from thrid graders and forth graders and fith graders into things like songs, skits and dances.  I like Barrel of Monk Eyes a lot.  They are one reason why I came to Chicago.  I am excited to work with them.

This summer, I helped Barrel of Monk Eyes figure out if there program is workinh and guess what?  It is

You can read some of the thrid, forth and fith graders stories here

I will be teaching with them in January and I am so excited.

The end.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Step One: Beat Hitler

Yesterday's post began as a simple anal-ysis of the standing of Cambridge Street in the greater world of books.  24 hours later, it has created a calling.  Selling my book is no longer about getting my story out into the world.  Now, it's about beating Hitler.

And we're losing.

Current book rankings:

Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, now stands at #41,020 (up 7,895 ranks)

Cambridge Street, by all of us but mostly me, now stands at # 434,649 (down 204,099 ranks)

At this rate, we're going to have World War II all over again.

To make matters worse^, I've also realized that that other book, which I was so enjoying stepping on, is only available on the Kindle, and it has therefore held strong at 240,649.

Is there no one who will stand below me?

Today, my friend Lawrencarabia gave me some hope.  "First," she pointed out, "How many people have heard of John Michael Manship and Cambridge Street.  About 200.  How many have heard of Adolf Hitler?"  Lawrencearabia is right.  Talk about having a platform!  That guy, for better or for worse*, is about as well-known as any human being who's ever existed.

So, sales-percentage wise, I'm probably actually doing better than Hitler. 

Also, his book has been out for over 80 years.  Mine has been out for 8 days.

The momentum is in our favor.  Here are some more positive signs to carry us out of this dark night:

1) My book has its first review.  5 stars!  I'd like to meet the person who wrote that review and shake her hand.

2) We're still kicking Clooney and Bolton in the face.

3) Once we get past pencil-mustache Nazi-pants, we only have to contend with Simon and God. 

Don't oversleep, Herr Hitler.  Normandy's a'comin'.  Better be ready for some Russian cyanide soup. 


* Bet on worse.

^ Yes, what I'm about to say is worse than war.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jeff Kinney vs Me vs Hitler vs Butt Sex

Ladies and gentlemen, Cambridge Street has entered the popularity race.  Here are the initial standings!

#1 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, by Jeff Kinney

#193 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling

# 427 The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger

# 876 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

#1698 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

#18,495 The Bible, by God

#24,422 The Necronomicon, by Simon*

# 48,915 Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler

#230,550 Cambridge Street, by all of us, but mainly me

A high ceiling.  I like that.

And let's put it all in perspective.  Cambridge Street is already kicking this book, this book, and this book's ass.  Hell, yeah, Cambridge Street.  You go, book.

Which reminds me:

If you want to contribute to Cambridge Street's rank or review the book, you can do so here.  If I were you, though, I'd still skip the middle man and just go in through the back door.  

Step one: beat Hitler.^   Let's do it.


* I can only presume this book was written by a kids' game and reads like this: "Red.  Red.  Red.  Yellow.  Red.  Green, Red."

^ whose book, incidentally, has 91 five star reviews

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nuclear Winter

"Obviously, Mr. Kessler got his way and [John Michael Manship is] about to go into the nuclear winter . . ."   - Commissioner David Stern

Too true, Mr Stern.  Too true.  And winter in Chicago this year is projected to be one of the worst in the United States.  Of course, they've been saying that since early October, and it's still 61 outside.  Still, we must look to the past to see the future, and we all know what comes next. 

It's fitting that I've recently been cast as Camillo in the State Theatre's "explosion" of The Winter's Tale, a play full of barrenness, bear chases, and death (and winter).  It's a non-paying gig, but what a cool idea, and what a great role.  What a great analogy, too, for my own existence: a man trying to do the right thing flees one kingdom for another*.  He lives in the new kingdom for sixteen years before anything else really happens . . .

Actually, forget I ever said it was analogous.  Let's try again.

You know what's a great analogy for my current existence?  It's something that a lot more people in the US are paying attention to than Shakespeare and small theatre.  You guessed it!**  The NBA lockout. 

That's right.  Nothing draws a crowd like a bunch of people not watching or playing basketball.

The NBA lockout is analogous to my life because I'm in the middle of my own contract negotiations (for what, I can't yet say, but it should be pretty obvious).  Like with the current NBA non-negotiations, if my negotiations flounder, my winter will be dark and long indeed, and a lot of people in Boston will be watching BU play instead of my players. 

I'm making back-up plans. First, I'm signing up for taskrabbit, who owes me about $5 million by now for all the word-of-mouth promotion I've been giving them.  Also, I'm submitting my headshot and resume to local casting agents.  A friend's brother here has earned about $170,000 in the last two years from residuals for a national commercial--and he doesn't even have an acting career or a pretentious blog.

Third, I plan to shamelessly promote my book^, which is on sale at a discount through November.

Fourth, I plan to make a lot of lists of things I should be doing instead of blogging.

If none of these things get me through the winter, I have plans to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA.  If the players can do it, why can't I?  A trust is a trust, and I want to be able to go to a different league's games if I don't like the ones the NBA offers.  I have been emotionally compromised.

And if the lawsuit fails?  Well, I don't know.  I'll probably go outside in the 61 degree weather and play some basketball.  By myself.  With nobody watching.


* Wow.  Nice pic,  I could go broke in a place like that.

** Sigh.  Unless you didn't, in which case, "Wrong.  It was the NBA lockout."  Has that joke gotten old yet?

^ And  Pay up, bunny.

Friday, November 11, 2011


There's a horrible stigma attached to self-publishing.  It calls to mind arrogant, disconnected, entitled writers who, unable to pursue a "legitimate" publishing option, bind their words in a fancy cover and charge money for them, hoping that that act somehow legitimizes their sloppy, incomplete, amateurish, or often boring story.  The stigma of self-publishing is so strong that, as soon as I decided to release my book, I started actively brainstorming euphemisms to describe what I'm up to here.

"Community publishing."

"Grassroots publishing."

I still like those.  After all, the idea that I'm publishing this novel using only my "self" is ludicrous.  So many people have helped Cambridge Street across the finish line that I'll forever owe a lot of debts, no matter what happens next. 

So am I self-published now? 

Well, I can say with confidence that my novel is not sloppy, incomplete, amateurish, or boring.  I can also say that I didn't take this step because I was entirely unable to pursue a more traditional publishing route. 

As for the other pieces of the stigma--arrogant, disconnected, entitled--I'm not sure about that yet.

As this very important day arrives, I'm more than a little terrified that I am at least one of those things; that even if I have compelling, career-oriented reasons to get my novel out to the world, I'm still, underneath, a cubic zirconia guy.  Maybe, in the footsteps of great historical monsters like Adolf Hitler and, say, Napolean, I'm even a megalomaniac who wants to see his name on the biggest stage possible--and won't accept any other reality.  Absurd, that, but at the same time, my blog is entitled "I Will Be Famous Soon." 

I find myself ending pensive, useless, overthought musings like this one with the following statement:

"Here's the bottom line." 

The bottom line is that I want the following story to be told, and I want whoever's interested out there to be able to hear it, straight from the source and as unfettered as possible by expectations of market demand: 

"Each day, Andrew Lawrence travels Cambridge Street with "the big college dorm buildings from MIT and Harvard and all those big shot schools" rising behind him. He has ambitions--to win the love of his beautiful, Harvard-educated student teacher, Eleanor; to teach his mentally disabled brother to defend himself; ultimately, to live life as a famous writer--but "here" keeps getting in the way. His determinedly honest, wildly imaginative, often naive voice guides us from "here" to Harvard: a place that looks different in dreams."

I would read that story.  The question is whether or not the rest of the world would.  

11/11/11, 11:11 am CST

Make a wish.  This must be one of the luckiest moments in history.  I hope so. 

. . .

My novel, Cambridge Street is now available, "self"-published, at:

Discount code 3YDDCN5Z will get "like"-rs $3.00 off the cover price for the next two weeks. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dead Heat

Let's play a game.  I'll show you a picture, then another, and then I'll ask you a question.  It's like an inkblot test, but simpler.  Cool?  Very cool.

 Got it?  Now look at this:

Tell me which picture you like better.  Seriously.  Email me, or call, or tweet, or facebook post--any of the multitude of options for human communication in the year 2011--and tell me which picture you would rather have as your profile pic.  Which would you rather blow up into a 5' x 8' poster and plaster to the ceiling above your bed?  Which would you rather have with you on a desert island if you could only take one brutally sexy picture along on a doomed-to-crash plane or boat trip? 

I'll tell you my opinion.

The first picture has some nice features.  I mean, the girl is pretty.  Real pretty.  And just my type.  Unfortunately, she's offset by the hideous fanged Vulcan cuddling up next to her, his body half-heartedly painted white like a lazy mom's Halloween offering to her preteen son.* 

The second picture exudes sex.  Not only is the man in front almost indistinguishable from that Scott Brown Cosmo photo, but the two women behind him are so beautiful, so coquettishly siren-esque, that even the sight of their hands sends me to a place most men never go.  If that doesn't happen to you when you look at their hands, you are clearly impotent.

NOW which picture do you like better? 

Good.  Let's play another game.  I'll pitch you a story, then another, and you tell me which one you'd rather see made into a musical.

Story #1: A half-boy, half-bat is found in a cave in the fictional town of Hope Falls.  He's taught to speak and dress, and some stuff happens like religious revivals and an angry mob.  Got it?

Story #2: Through perfect comic timing and carefully nuanced tender moments, three really hot twenty-somethings take on the pain of every MBTA rider ever, thereby bringing a massive catharsis to an entire real-life city.  One girl sings about her vagina, and two men kiss.

Choose wisely.

Now look at this graph:

That column on the right represents people who favor the first picture and story.  They think that a short-haired man with rubber ears and cold cream all over his upper torso is more enticing than what some are referring to as "the sexiest picture ever."  They think that the fictional town of Hope Falls is more significant than the salvation of almost a million people in the greater Boston area. 

Can you believe those people?  They're the ones keeping the race between T: An MBTA Musical and  . . . whatever that other musical is called . . . in a dead heat vote over on's Best of 2011 Awards.

You're not one of those people, are you?  Well, you have until December 31 of this year to prove it.

And while you're at it, after you vote, change your profile picture to the very sexy picture above, if only to reflect your support of good taste and your opposition to eating guano. 

You don't like eating guano do you?

* "Mommy's tired, honey.  Just roll around in this chalk for a while and bring me back some candy . . ."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, Remember

"Lo, for it is in times of despair that a man looks to his past, therefrom seeking to mine nuggets of happiness and to examine them for whatever solutions they may offer to his foul and current state!"

                                                                                                   - Saint Loicus the Benign*

Oh, to be me from exactly a week ago.

I was a genius, then: witty, complex, mysterious, savvy, virile, unshakable.  I was ahead of my partners in conversations.  I had perfect table manners.  I looked good when I took off my clothes and looked at my butt in my waist-level wall mirror. 

At the very least, I was a competent performer in a level one class full of comic geniuses at the Second City Conservatory.

This week I am a fool.  I am clumsy, unflattering, plain, bumbling, flaccid.  At the very best, I can put one foot in front of the other, make it through doorways without bumping into the frame, and enunciate English words clearly enough that they will probably be understood by other Americans.  Probably.

I should have known from the headwind I faced on my bike trip into the classroom that this would be a tough morning.  I should have clued in when our warm-up was a simple game of wordball with a basic alteration: if the passed word ended in a vowel, we were to move one step to the left as an ensemble; if the word ended in a consonant, we were to step to the right.**  The entire class did our best 7th-grade-boy-slow-dancing-with-his-mother-in-preparation-for-his-first-date impression, stepping on each others' feet like we were getting paid for it.

That was only the beginning.  The end . . . the humbling, oh, the humbling.

Our final task was to perform a 15-minute set "as if we were performing for a crowd in Romania, only 40% of which speaks any English."  Translation?^  We were to use only cognates in our dialogue (i.e. international words that can be understood in any language) and over-indicate everything that was happening on stage.  I thought that sounded both simple and fun. 

15 long, long minutes later, my body hair had multiplied tenfold, my eyes had developed astigmatism, my brain was somewhere under somebody's shoe, and my testicles had been removed and sold for stem cells. 

So this is what they call learning, eh?  To hell with personal and professional growth. 

. . .

Okay, I'll give it 100 more weeks. 

It's fitting that today is the four-month anniversary of my first full day in Chicago, because I swear, if I didn't have a calendar and an acting resume, I would think I was right back at the beginning.

And by "the beginning," I mean somewhere around peek-a-boo.


*Three days later, I'm still in the mood for looking back and using the word "lo,"^^

** Damn you , "y!"

^Translation!  Get it?

^^ Also for using multiple footnotes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lo, How The Mighty (Scary) Have Fallen!

Do you ever take time to reflect on where you were a year and two days ago?  October 30, 2010.  That was a good day.  I spent the evening meeting Owen Wilson, making women scream, and dancing to Thriller.  I got paid for it. 

Fast forward a year and a day.  I'm getting dressed up all over again.  I'm making women scream, but Owen Wilson is not to be found.  The only music I hear is a never-ending muzak version of Pop Goes The Weasel that haunts my head well after I'm out of costume.  And instead of someone dressing me up like a psycho-killer, I look like this:

Not only am I significantly less scary than I was a year and two days ago; I'm also significantly less likely to ever get a date again, especially when compared to that handsome man in the background.  Now that guy is a catch.^

All of this and at one tenth the promised price.*

So why would I engage in this sort of falling-from-heaven approach to my acting career?  Well, apparently it changed the world of performance as we know it.^^ 

And second, it was a wonderful lead-in to my new jobs with the Murder Mystery Company and American Eagle Productions.  Little known historical fact: Both Al Capone and John Hancock wore women's undergarments. 


*i.e., at one tenth of the money I made a year ago. 

^ That's his real face.

^^Also, what acting career?