Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering Jonathan Frid book

We are now taking PRE-ORDERS for the "Remembering Jonathan Frid" book. This publication is expected to be due out in the fall 2013. This book will include remembrances and stories by many of JF's long time friends, colleagues, family members and some fans who worked with JF at the festivals over the past few decades. There has never been a book like it. The book will sell for $30.00 but if you choose to pre-order between now and June 30th, you can get it for $20.00 and be one of the first to get it. (If you are contributing to the book, you do not have to order a copy.) 

Portions of the proceeds will go to the John H. Frid Fund in Canada. 

Send your $20.00 to Helen Samaras via paypal at skippy1253@aol.com. Please remember when ordering via paypal ensure that you are paying for any fees associated with sending the $20.00. If you need to pay by check or money order, please make payable to Helen Samaras and mail to Helen Samaras, 541 Birch Street, West Hempstead, NY 11552.  

Remember, this offer only good through June 30th.  After June 30th, the purchase price will be $30.00.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Last night I was watching a documentary about the "golden era" of gangster films with my friend Kay.  Periodically when a particular actor was being highlighted, I would tell Kay something about the actor's personal life that most people would not know or something related to a film I thought was being overlooked.  Kay has suffered through this tendency of mine for as long as we have watched movies and documentaries together.  She said "Why don't you share these things with people on your blog? You know so much about all these actors."

It was an Ah ha! moment.

My blog had been floundering.  I have been looking for some sense of purpose in blogging other than using it as a writing prompt for my own work.  I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner and I am glad it was pointed out to me that there was certainly an outlet for all the trivia and "Did you know" stuff I have in my head about actors in films from the days of silent films to present.  Another friend of mine, the late Craig Hamrick, had encouraged me to do something with all this knowledge and for whatever reason I did not at the time.  I wasn't even blogging then.

I hereby christen thee blog to a new lease on life.

The movies and documentaries that I watch, the actors they pertain to, will find another venue in this forum as I talk about what fascinates me about them and the actors who inspire the medium.  An example of a fun story to share with people came from director Mervyn LeRoy whose film LITTLE CAESAR (1931) made a star of Edward G. Robinson.  LeRoy said that he had a tough time getting Robinson to shoot the gun without closing his eyes when the gun went off.  The crew even tried using tape to keep Robinson's eyes open, to prevent him from squinting (he was also turning his head away from the pistol when the shot went off).  Robinson had zero experience with firearms and was not a thug in real life.  Anything but, in fact.  LeRoy spent a day and a half with Robinson before he could get the actor to shoot the pistol without turning his head away and closing his eyes.

Those are the kinds of stories I love to find out about a film and actor.

In high school, I discovered the biography and autobiography.  I would go through the school and public libraries borrowing biographies and autobiographies on just about anybody.  It didn't matter what they did.  Sure, I leaned towards my interests in the performing arts but I had an interest in reading life stories about individuals, how they grew up, the obstacles they faced, how they got to where they did and how their life impact others.  I could not get enough (and still can't) of books and documentaries that talk about the "Making of" of any kind of production.  I love the bonus material on DVDs about how a film was made.  If there is a book out there on the behind-the-scenes work of a play, television, film or radio production, I have probably read it or have it on my to-read list.  From this kind of material and all the memoirs I have read, there is enough material to brighten this blog up and hopefully intrigue readers.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How is Writing Lonely?

One of the biggest frustrations in writing is that I would love to blog about the dilemmas I have in writing a particular scene but I fear my ideas will get hijacked by someone else.  Fortunately, in trying to figure out a staging technique for more difficult scenes, I can always get help by shouting out about the issue.

I read over and over that writing is "lonely," requiring long periods of solitude while fleshing out an idea, fine-tuning a plot and working on dialogue.  I have never found writing to be a lonely occupation or vocation.  I find I am always surrounded by characters talking (or trying to talk) to each other, striving to get their needs met and in doing so, I get into their heads and in that sense, play them as I write.  I am in the evolving story as a character and as a writer looking to create a little magic, some understanding and a stimulating plot that unfolds.  How is this a formula for being lonely? I'm exhausted by the end of a writing sessions physically and emotionally.  It's as if I have been to a party.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jonathan Frid and Lady MacBeth, sort of . . .

Back in 1990 while I was living in New York, I was enrolled in two year intensive training acting school.  I was given the assignment of preparing a Lady MacBeth monologue.  One of the people who made tuition possible at this school was one of my chief employers, Jonathan Frid, who also had a lot of experience with Shakespearean plays.  I asked him if he would take the monologue I was given and show me how he would approach it.  He agreed and the 24 minute recording that follows is what he did with the speech.  I was not with him in the room so any remarks you hear are directed at me to hear when I got this recording.

I thought I would share it here, as it does provide some interesting insight as to how Jonathan approached acting and also how generous he was with his knowledge.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Joy of Solitude

I love going to parties, and I enjoy going home afterwards.  I look forward to the times I can go out and eating by myself,  have and will go to a movie alone, and my greatest joy remains going off into my bedroom/study with a pile of magazines, books, pen and paper and my iphone for easy access to the internet to play scrabble. Solitude and its many joys is something I have cultivated for several decades.

When I was growing up, I didn't really like socializing much partly because I wasn't any good at it.  My awkwardness was so visible it could have been a second entity standing beside me.  It could be a lonely existence and I often (as do others) mistake loneliness and solitude.  I managed to unload the awkward monster and feel comfortable in any setting.  I enjoy socializing, visiting friends and being around people in general.  In spite of getting pleasure from such activities, nothing gives me more joy and comfortable than solitude.  I think the social awkwardness started to fall away when I realized I wasn't such bad company.  I could entertain and challenge myself during my private journeys in deep thought, journal writing and even meditation.  There are always new discoveries, some geek toy to check out, and something new that I am writing and the subsequent exploration draws out my innate curiousity.  I do tend to see new things that same fresh way a child does.

Over the years I have become friends with myself.  When my heart feels broken or I become very anxious over a problem, I feel another part of me - the intellectual side - coming to the rescue, offering reassurance that I will heal or find the answer I need.  This ability has developed through the time I spend in solitude.  It has been an amazing and unexpected gift just through the act of being myself and doing what makes me happy.