Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Acting School

Posted on May 13, 2011


Welcome, students, to the Berbrowski Studio for the Actor. By coming here, you have chosen to pursue the bravest profession. Doctors, firefighters, lion cage repairmen---they all share their skills with the world. We share ourselves.

As you know, acting schools can be quite bewildering. Internalize, externalize, find the truth, find the beats, find your light... Here at the Berbrowski Studio, we have only one rule written by the great Gerhard Berbrowski: Don’t do that weird thing with your mouth.

Simple, elegant, true. This principle has guided the stage and screen for nearly six decades. In straightforward terms, it states simply that one should strive (consciously or super-consciously) to avoid the extra-instinctual mannerisms in the area of the lips and/or jaw by sublimating said mannerisms into a baseline psychological envelope.

“Don’t do that weird thing with your mouth.” You will find it on hand-written signs in dressing rooms and makeup trailers across the world. It has shepherded iconic performances that have gone on to win Oscars, Tonys, BAFTAs, People’s Choice Awards. I beg you heed its counsel.

Let us begin. Form a line at stage right. And… act!

Have you all begun acting? Excellent. Now, let me look at you.

You there, the blonde ingenue, you are doing a weird thing with your mouth. Stop doing that… Simply stop.

No, I’m sorry, I said you should stop doing a weird thing with your mouth. Instead, you seem to have intensified the weirdness. Now it has gotten even weirder still.

Everyone, come gather around this young woman and look at her mouth. See? See, right there. Do you notice the oddness, the uneasiness? Acting isn’t about attempting to not do something weird with your mouth; it’s about not attempting to not do something not weird with your mouth. Class, can you see how the manner in which she holds her mouth keeps getting weirder and weirder?

Try as she might, she simply cannot cease her mouth weirdness. Does that mean she can never be an actor? With gentle coaching…

Oh, my dear, are you crying? Don’t cry; we’re simply objectively criticizing your weird mouth as a group. There’s no reason to cry. Also, we don’t touch upon cry-acting until the third lesson.

Here, take a look at this young gentleman. Act for us, young man.

Do you see how his mouth remains decidedly un-weird? Not too much, not too little. It’s an everyday, unimpressive, Joe Schmoe, flyover-state mouth. That’s a mouth that draws box office receipts.

Now, looks at his eyes. Those are going crazy---twitching, squinting, over-the-top darting about.

That, my friends, is true acting.

Class dismissed!


Raised By Wolves

Posted on May 11, 2011


Okay, so I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before, but I was raised by wolves. And, I don’t normally talk about it, because people are always like, “Wow! Really? So, do you like have fleas and stuff?” Which is so offensive.

I mean, yes, my wolf mother happened to have fleas, and therefore I had fleas. Had in the past tense. That was a normal part of growing up in the woods. Would you ask somebody raised by bears if they have fleas?

Also, people assume I have bad manners. I have very good manners, thank you. They’re just different manners than you’re used to. For instance, I might not know which fork to use for stabbing leaf meals, but I do know when I should roll over exposing my belly versus when I should submissively urinate. It’s called etiquette.

So, right now I’m going to address a few of the most common questions I get, and then hopefully we can move on and not dwell on the wolf thing.

Yes, I do enjoy running and pouncing. Yes, my favorite meal is baby caribou. No, I’m not only attracted to wolves. Yes, I do howl in my sleep. No, I cannot sense when a wolf in my pack is in trouble. Honestly, most of my pack were jerks, and I only see them at wolf holidays or when I graduated from Wisconsin.

There. Can we drop it?

Listen, it’s not some big deal. I was raised by wolves. Big whoop. A lot of really great people were raised by wolves---Romuls and Remus, Mogli, Howie Mandel. Do you guys constantly ask them what it’s like to chase down and devour a musk ox? (It’s awesome, by the way. Are you happy, now? It’s super awesome.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go scent mark my cubicle.

You heard me.


Tiffany’s Birthday

Posted on May 9, 2011

I was lucky enough to see my old friend, Steve Delahoyde, this weekend. And, it made me realize I never posted this video we had done together. Steve directed and I wrote, and Paul Thomas stole the show with his pitch-perfect reaction shots.

So, yeah, I hope you enjoy it.


Party Planning Meeting

Posted on May 4, 2011


Um, hi you guys. This is my first time running a meeting, so bear with me.

How do I call this to order? Do I just say, “I call this meeting to order” or something? Wait, before I do that, is everybody here? Where’s Jimmy? There he is. Hi, Jimmy, how’m I doing so far? Ha ha, just kidding.

Let me just look over Robert’s Rules of Order quick to see how I call a meeting to … Alright, now somebody is handing me a note. That’s exciting! I don’t know why I’m narrating everything that’s happening. I think I’m just a little nervous.

Okay, well according to this note, party planning committee meetings do not need to run by parliamentary procedure, which is good, because that was making my stomach turn over with anxiety.

Speaking of which, I brought in bags of potato chips for everybody. I hope you guys like salt and vinegar style. They’re the giant bags from Costco, and I didn’t remember plates, so just pass them around. Sorry if they’re a little crushed from my backpack.

Beth, you’re not taking any potato chips? That’s not very team-player of you. There you go. Really dig around in their for some chips.

Alright, the first order of business is team-building exercises. At first, I thought the party planning committee could maybe go through a ropes course together, but I priced it out, and that would eat up our entire cake budget for the year. So, then I thought we could maybe do a backrub circle instead.

Everybody scoot your chairs into a circle, and we’ll all give each other backrubs. Don’t worry; it’s a circle. Nobody’s gonna get stuck not getting a backrub.

Pardon me? Yes, I guess our hands are a little greasy from the chips. In my rush to plan this planning meeting, I forgot to bring napkins. That’s on me. I had some panicky stomach issues this morning, and I don’t want to get into specifics, but let me say three words---broken softserve machine. That’s all I’ll say.

Wait, fourth word---explosive.

But, I take your point. No backrubs today. Somebody write down that we’re tabling the backrub circle until next month. Who’s our committee secretary? No one? Somebody write down that we need to elect a secretary at the next meeting.


Alright, great meeting, you guys! Really looking forward to more of these. If anybody thinks of any party or cake-related ideas, you can find me in my cubicle.

I hereby call this meeting officially dismissed to be adjourned.


Advice On Writing

Posted on April 29, 2011

A lot of people will give you advice on writing.

Some say you must sit in the center of a perfectly quiet room wearing noise-canceling headphones and horse blinders to be a writer. Just you and your Royal Underwood typewriter and a maybe a cat missing one eye.

Others say you must stand in the middle of bustling Grand Central Station, nude except for a suit and tie and shoes, also underwear, shirt, and socks. They tell you you’ll need a number two Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencils and a standard 6” by 9” Steno pad. And, as a writer, you need to smoke a cigarette while eating a donut.

Still other people tell you you require only a laptop and a comfy four-poster bed. They tell you to drink green tea and listen to soothing music about our vaginas, surrounding yourself with photos of frolicking African children. At noon, take a break to do yoga and create abstract expressionistic pottery that represents your writer’s soul. Only then will you be a true writer.

Others tell you to go out into the world to find something to write about. They say you should fight forest fires and parachute into war zones and impregnate a Brazilian prostitute. Better yet, be that Brazilian prostitute who starts forest fires in protest of man’s futile nothingness. Only then will you be a writer.

Some say you need to be born a writer. Writing can’t be taught; it is a question struggling inside you, yearning to make its way out of your fingertips. What is that question? Probably some weird Freudian stuff about boobs and poop.

Others say a writer must drink his or her way into writing--be it wine or ale or absinthe. Preferably absinthe, because it will fuck you up. They say you need to expand your mind with drugs and spirit-animal walks and autoerotic asphyxiation. Then they raise their eyebrows suggestively and nod toward the room in back that smells like candles and leather. That’s when you notice they have a creepy mustache.

Others say a writer must be a performer. You must speak the words fire before you can understand them. Take improvisational comedy classes and perform at poetry slams. Find a group of like-minded writers and spend long hours screaming at each other for never having watched The Wire. Spend every waking moment going to shows and not writing. That is how you become a writer.

Some say to bare your soul, to reveal every tiny detail about your childhood and hopes and fears and dreams and past loves and past bosses and number of orgasms and religious crises and adventures abroad and teenage pranks and health scares and gameshow failures. They say that writing is truth, and truth is life, and we must share every detail in order to writer.

Some people say all that. People are assholes, though. So, I don’t know---do whatever you want. Personally, I think you should go back to school to be an insurance actuary. But, what do I know? I’m just your father who loves you and wants what’s best for you.

[sigh] Go ask your mother.


Facebook Comments

Posted on April 27, 2011


Listen everyone, I want to thank all of you for your helpful, well-thought-out comments on my Facebook post. They were not at all weird or off-topic.

I mean, I guess I never did get an answer to my request for a restaurant recommendation, but there was a lot of good back-and-forth.

For instance, Brett's suggestion that "Eating out is for pussies. Bwwaaaa!" was super helpful. How's life, Brett? You’re wife had her baby, right?

The many comments discussing dining out versus buying into a farm share were certainly lively. Clearly there are a lot of strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. I hope nobody’s feelings were hurt. Especially by Dave’s anti-composting jokes. I’m sure it was all in jest. Dave, are you and Darcy talking again?

Thank you to Paul, who went to all the trouble of listing restaurants with poor health inspection grades. Scary stuff.

In a way, though, that was kind of the opposite of what I was asking. I wanted to know what restaurant I should go to, not which ones I shouldn’t. But still, a lot of food safety concerns to process there. Thanks.

Many of you “liked” my initial question but didn’t offer any restaurant recommendations. (For some reason, this was especially true amongst my former co-workers.) Did you think it was a hypothetical question or maybe mine was a philosophical craving? I really just wanted to know where to eat.

I do think we made a lot of progress on the Presidential birth certificate thing. As Samantha, the weird motivational speaker lady I met only once at a friend-of-a-friend's party pointed out, it's sad that the President had to address it.

And, while I understand Tariq’s point that words like “sad” and “unfortunate” serve to weaken the focus on this being an issue of race and power dynamics in modern America, I think we can all agree that we are all upset by it in line with whatever societal context we bring to our understanding of the issue.

So, thanks for all the feedback on my Facebook post this morning. 108 comments sure are a lot. Once again, though, does anybody know a place in midtown where Colleen and I can grab a sandwich after work?

Really try to stick to the theme of sandwiches for these future comments. Thanks.


Tapestry Return

Posted on April 26, 2011


Excuse me. Yes, I need to return this seventeenth century French tapestry I purchased earlier today from your auction house. It has a mustard stain on it.

Look, right here by the winged dog... gryphon, sure, I knew that. Right here by the gryphon’s tail, there's a big splotch of yellow mustard. At first I thought it was a pond reflecting the sunset or something. But, see, look closely. It’s still wet, and it smells like mustard. It’s definitely mustard.

I don't see how you could, in good conscience, sell such an expensive item with a flaw like that. Setting aside the piece’s historical significance, including the border-thingy you guys talked up during the sale. Strapwork cartouches, that’s right. Strapwork cartouches.

Yes, I am sure the mustard was there when I bought it! Why would I have paid $242,000 for a tapestry with mustard on it? That's a lot of money. I could buy 121,000 hot dogs for that. You know, at the hot dog cart right outside.

Or, I could have gotten 60,500 hot dog lunch specials that include a bag of potato chips and a can of ginger ale, which I think is a pretty good value for one’s money. Unlike this tapestry.

This is a travesty---not just for me, but for the tapestry, itself. Don't you people care about the historical significance of this ... I forget, is it French or Flemish? This French tapestry. Look, it’s got a lion and a deer sleeping beside each other. That’s a beautiful sentiment sullied by your incompetence. If only all lions and deer slept together, the world would be a better place.

Pardon me? Mustard on my tie? OH MAN!!! Your stupid tapestry got mustard on my tie! This is one of my favorite ties, and now you've gotten mustard all over it with your dumb, mustardy tapestry.

Do you know how much I paid for this tie? I don’t remember, but it was a lot. Especially at Filene’s Basement, where I normally find better deals on ties. But, I paid more for this one, because it had ducks on it.

This will not stand, sir. I demand that you return the check I wrote for this tapestry. It’s the one post-dated for next week, when I have a chance to move around some accounts. Not that the details of my personal injury claim money are any business of yours! Just give me back my check, and you can have your stained tapestry.

I'm washing my hands of this entire affair.

Seriously, do you have a bathroom where I can wash my hands? They're all sticky from relish.


Things to Do Before You Die

Posted on April 22, 2011


18 Things to Do Before You Die:

1) Watch the sun set across the Grand Canyon.

2) Swim with dolphins in the Caribbean.


Whew! Holy cow! Man, are you okay?

Good thing you jumped out of the way! Are you sure you're okay?

Alright… Let’s get back to the list then…

4) Learn to play an instrument.

5) Climb Machu Picchu.

6) Whoa, Buddy, DON'T EAT THAT PEANUT!

Jesus. Did you forget about your peanut allergy? You've gotta be more vigilant about that.

Seriously. Okay, moving on...

7) Drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

8) Make love to... a...

...that ladder looks a little shaky. Maybe don't stand on the top step like that. WHOA!!! WHOA WHOA WHOA!! GRAB HOLD OF THE BOOKSHELF! Here, give me your hand!

Okay, now put your foot on the wardrobe. Stay there while I hold the ladder.

What the hell, man? Do you not want to make it through this list? You need to be more careful.

10) HEY! A cattle prod is not a toy! Don't you realize you're standing in a puddle of water?

You know what? I think that's enough for the list. Clearly you're not interested in doing any of this stuff before you die.

Which is too bad, because I had some great ideas about dancing in the moonlight and reading The Bhagavad Gita in its original Sanskrit. But, you go ahead and keep taunting that cobra.

NO, STOP! I was only joking about taunting the cobra! Don't do that! Jesus, dude…


Paper/Finger Cutter

Posted on April 21, 2011

You’re the new temp, right? Welcome aboard. Let me give you a quick tour of the office.

Over here is the kitchen. Make sure to wash your dishes, or else Deborah the office manager will throw them away. Seriously. You’ll see what she’s like. The bathroom is down the hall to the right. If it’s ever out of supplies, there’s more of everything under the sink.

And, this here is the paper cutter. Have you ever used an industrial paper cutter before? No? Well, it’s pretty easy; you just line up one edge here and slide back the safety latch. Then, it’s zip zup, and there you go. It can cut up to fifty sheets of 90 pound cardstock at a time.

The only advice I can give you is to not think about cutting off your fingers. Whatever you do, don’t think about exactly that while using this machine.

Because, it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whoever worries about cutting off his or her fingers tends to do just that. I don’t know why.

I mean, I always give this same speech to every new temp. I say, “Whatever you do, do not picture yourself slicing off three and a half or four fingers on this would-be finger-slicing machine.” Yet, every time, they get a frightened, distracted look in their eyes. Then, they overcompensate or distrust their grip and adjust in the wrong direction, and then … hello, stumpy.

Gosh, you’d think they’d learn after hearing the many, many cautionary tales of fingers being severed. Sometimes, I’ll even stand behind them, whispering in their ear, “Hey, if you imagine bloody nubs where you knuckles are, that’s exactly what will happen. So try not to think about that.” And, you know what happens next---The Great Digit Drop, as I call it. Repeatedly.

I tried putting up a poster with photos of the last few office befingerings. (The insurance company makes us take Polaroids before any trips to the E.R.) And, underneath I wrote:


I guess folks ignored the poster, though, because there were more fingers chopped off than average that week.

The worst part is that it almost always seems to happen the first time anyone uses this machine. So, nobody gets to be very much practiced at it. Which is too bad, because I’m sure once you get over the thinking about it part, it’d be smooth as non-finger-mangling silk.

Anyway, why don’t you give it a try? If you want, I can blow this air horn to distract you from your thoughts.

On three. Ready? One… Steady… Two…


Updated S&M

Posted on April 15, 2011


Welcome to Modern Sensations S&M Club, where we give masochism a modern sensibility. You're new here, correct? Let me give you a quick tour.

The first thing you'll notice is the waiting room. Everyone arriving has to wait an hour before entering the facility for no reason other than  the receptionist being distracted by Angry Birds on her phone.

Can you feel your frustration rising? You're already being dominated!

That's exactly the kind of up-to-the-minute domination technique used here at Modern Sensations. We strive to give our patrons a much more realistic sense of humiliation and degradation than the standard whips and diapers S&M clubs.

After the waiting area, we’ll pass a long hallway of video screens displaying unflattering Facebook or DMV photos of you. (Please email those in ahead of your appointment. There’s an FAQ on our website with acceptable files formats.) If you’re really interested in degradation, we can also put up photos of your ex, who is now fifteen pounds lighter and happier.

And, then it’s on to the sex dungeon.

Unlike traditional S&M sex dungeons, there are no black velvet curtains or darkened corridors here. Simply one large, brightly lit atrium with bad acoustics. It in, you’ll find a series of poorly managed lines and unhelpful signage. There’s a take-a-number machine at the front, but it’s out of number slips.

These many lines lead to a wide range of bondage and domination scenarios. There aren’t any leather masks or chains at Modern Sensations, but you can wait in an apartment all day for the Time Warner Internet guy to never arrive.

We also have a faux laundry room where you can make uncomfortable small talk with your religious landlady. Then, there’s the cocktail mixer during which someone will misinterpret an innocent comment of yours as racist. Or, maybe you’d prefer the three-weeks-sober-at-your-wife's-family-for-Thanksgiving dinner scenario.

All these and many more role-playing arrangements await your exploration. Whatever sorts of present day embarrassment or discomfort arouses you sexually, you can find it here.

And, rest assured, we are indeed judging you for your weird erotic predilections. That’s simply another part of the humiliation we strive to provide at Modern Sensations S&M Club, you weirdo.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Feel free to look around and join in the masochism. Remember, the safeword is “ugh, gross.”

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