Ben Performing Live: at the Hackney Picturehouse

Ben performed live at the Hackney Picturehouse

A Bit About a Rolemodel

London UK, December 11, 2017.

***

To see videos of some of Ben’s other past performances , subscribe to his Channel at

YouTube

For more about Ben’s books, check them out here.

And don’t forget to connect with Ben – join him at
 Twitter  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads Facebook Pinterest Instagram Google+ YouTube Email

He looks forward to seeing you soon!

 

A Spooky Tale from Ben

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Trick or TREAT:

Ben tells a spooky tale live at the

East Dulwich Literary Festival 2017.

 

Turns out I’m British too…

Although I’m American, by birth and by blood, I’m also something else too: my mother was English.

I recently applied for a British passport – and was approved! Joint citizenship for Americans is now allowed, so I can carry both. It means, in a few weeks, a second passport will be winging it’s way to me. I’ll be the bearer of not one passport, but two!

How did this happen? After filling in many forms and providing much data to show 1) I am me, and 2) I am related to my mother, I was granted approval to ‘naturalise’ as a British citizen. Yesterday, I attended the all-important naturalisation ceremony to receive a shiny new paper, confirming the same.

It was a lovely event, with a prominent citizen from my locality addressing and welcoming us all, cups of tea and biscuits afterwards, and a view over a verdant park. A quiet day to reflect.

Has this changed me at all? In a bureaucratic sense, possibly. Both halves of me are now recognised by relevant bureaucratic powers.

And yet fundamentally, there is no change. I am who I am, one man from two sides of a very large pond. I savour cool Jack Daniels as deeply as a room-temperature Glenmorangie. I drift away to Hotel California as effortlessly as I do to Stairway to Heaven.  And I enjoy Hemingway and Proulx, as much as I admire Austen and Conan Doyle.

These halves of me – they’ve been here all along.

Receiving my British Citizenship Certificate from Lady Arnold

 

 

 

Business or Casual?

I have signed up as a supporting artist (formerly known as a (lowly) extra) and need to post more photos on my casting agency profile page that will get me noticed!

Why Choose a Profile Pic?

The agency says my profile pics need to include formal, sporty, business or casual choices to make sure I get put forward for the greatest range of roles.

Business or casual—what’s best?

The Suit

A classic British pinstripe in dark grey squeezes into a dark back corner of my closet.

Old fashioned cut but classy, I like to think. A suit that says: This guy is serious…knows his stuff. Which was important when my Herculean efforts made no discernable impact on the world of finance.

And I have a black one, (hiding in a plastic clothes bag, sprinkled with mothballs), for the meetings I used to hate: when I had to play the gun-slinger. The tough guy… fortunately, I only wore that one occasionally.

There’s one more suit, however, that I prefer above all others. Light-weight, flexible, durable, well ventilated… A suit that’s been loyal and served duty in several shining corners of the world.

And it’s in my favourite colour too! If the agency lets me sneak this photo in… well, with the addition of a pair of flip-flopswhat better work conditions could one possibly hope for?

Just Jeans

But I’m a writer and artist now. Nothing beats jeans (501s in blue, black or tan) and a fleece. I feel more authentic in these. In fact I always did.

Which reminds me: my denim shirt (an obligatory component in the writer’s wardrobe) is falling to bits. Time for a new one.

Business or Casual?

What do you feel most comfortable in?

Please help me choose which is best? My new career depends on it!

 

Things I love about the USA

Recently, I renewed my passport and it got me thinking about my favorite things about the States and being American. About New York, where I was born. Got me feeling pretty poetic in fact…

Things I love about the USA

I love the States, where I was born,

But where to start? I’m somewhat torn.

So here, in no particular order,

By a consummate happy memory-hoarder:

The electric bustle of a Manhattan street,

A salt-rimmed Margarita in the Key West heat.

Cerulean skies that flood your mind,

Folks so open, strangers so kind.

Bronzed waffles freestyling in maple syrup,

Grizzled cowboys, scuffed boots, a gleaming stirrup.

MoMA, the Met, the Guggenheim,

The late-great Shel Silverstein’s command of rhyme.

A velvety cab sauv from the Napa Valley,

Seals a-lolling on the beaches of Cali.

Monument Valley and a sun-scorched pinnacle,

A Louisiana steamboat captain’s binnacle.

That jiggle-tailed rattler, an inquisitive racoon,

The Berkshires and Cascades in the first days of June.

Levis, baseball caps, slacks and tuxedos,

Button-down collars, white Spandex Speedos.

Partying with friends at the end of the day,

Listening to (Sitting on) the Dock of the Bay.

Dolphins cavorting in a quivering ocean,

Hawaiian Tropic’s utterly smelltastic lotion.

The Grand Canyon’s meandering 277 miles,

Those perfect teeth, those gleaming smiles.

A prowling gator in the Everglades,

The pomp and palette of a victory parade.

The Statue of Liberty, New York,

Griffith Park (LA) for an evening walk.

Funky Florida and Walt Disney’s world,

Ben and Jerry’s Save our Swirled.

Hollywood’s shiny Walk of Fame,

The Hudson River, where Sully landed his plane.

Four presidents carved in South Dakota stone,

Endless deals on your mobile phone.

The mountains known as Blue Ridge,

The rusty red Golden Gate Bridge.

New Orleans and All that Jazz,

The Superbowl’s rambunctious razzmatazz.

Cape Cod in the blazing summer,

Munching popcorn to Dumb and Dumber(er).

Cool San Francisco’s stepped streets,

Cooler blues with its soporific beats.

The fall leaves that gently dapple,

Apple pie in the Big Apple.

Go crazy on the 4th of July,

In the city a mile high.

I miss the States a whole lot,

East or west, cold or hot.

Yes, my new passport needs dusting,

And my schedule adjusting.

The industry that made us Citizen Kane,

Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii, Maine.

I better book a liner or plane,

To be free of London’s endless…sunshine.

…And come home to America again.

 

Got a great memory of the US? What’s your favorite memory?

Coming soon: Art Books by Ben

One night in London…

One evening while looking out of my office window over the rooftops of London, I realised that while I am passionate about spinning words into tales… I also really enjoy art. I missed drawing the black and white seascapes and fantastical universes I began to create many years ago, initially for my children.

With a portfolio stretching back fifteen years, many requests, and lucky enough to have attracted thousands of Facebook “likes”, I’ve decided to put my art into two books.

What kind of books?

The first will be ocean-themed (the formatting is already well advanced), the second land-based. My art is detailed black and white magical realism, interspersed with trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye). Often I disguise a message or story in my imagery.

What I think about when I think about art…

I enjoy taking existing animals and plants and reproducing them with accuracy down to the diameter of a hair follicle or stem texture of a mature sporophyte. But as I believe in parallel worlds (or multiverses—think quantum physics), I also like to modify my flora and fauna, sometimes minutely, sometimes big time, while retaining apparent authenticity. It’s up to the viewer to spot where I’ve accelerated evolution or wandered into a shadowy recess of my imagination.

How many pictures?

Each book will have about 55 illustrations. On the opposing pages, I’ll include a few (hopefully) interesting facts about the subject matter; my personal experiences; perhaps a few lines about what I was trying to achieve with that picture.

For the originals, I worked exclusively by hand and eye—no computer trickery here! But I’ll be adding a few “digitally doubled” images—images reflected down a central axis—at the end of both books. Just for fun.

When?

The first book is already 75% formatted. If the Great Crested Lemur, unknown in Mad-agascar but commonplace in Sane-agascar (Editor: Ben, I can’t believe you wrote that :-/ ) would just stop hopping around for five minutes and let me finish the seascape behind it, I’d be able to wrap this up soon and have the first book up on Amazon in a few weeks.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the trompe l’oeil and the hidden stories you might see in these works…

 

Ben Goes Undercover!

 

Researching the Next Tale…

With the screenplay of Something in the Water doing the rounds, I’ve decided to refresh my memory of film sets—after all it’s been decades since I starred in an award-winning Suntory Whisky advert that that helped launch the Japanese single-malt industry…though sadly my burgeoning acting career was not so lucky!

Well, I’ve decided it’s time to give it another go. I’ll be sliding deep undercover to research the background for my next story setting…

Setting the Scene

I needed to understand the current industry, so I read You can be a Movie Extra by Ron Martin. Then I tried to commit all the dos and don’ts in that great tomb-ette to memory. Don’t look at the camera or make eye contact with the stars. Dress quietly. Be reliable. Polite. No photos on set (ever!). No phones. At the end of the day, get your chit signed; during the day, keep your chat to a minimum.

Who Needs a Fancy Studio?

Next I required photos but with no studio nearby, I improvised: I painted a section of living room wall white and lay a sheet on the floor. Then the photographer did her thing. Shirts were ironed, ties chosen, suits pressed. My tailcoat and dinner jacket were checked for moth holes and size (though made many moons ago, they still fit!) and several boxing-themed gym kit combinations were tried out. No doubt about it: I’m aiming to be the most versatile extra ever.

Apply, Apply, Apply!

Then I applied to four agencies (not allowed for real actors or models, but for crowd casting in the UK, it is quite usual and accepted). Measurements were taken (“I never knew that measurement was that!”), forms completed, un-photoshopped photos uploaded…and within days, my first audition! More form-filling, photos, and speaking into camera. I’m so glad I joined Toastmasters, the international speech-training organisation to help me relax and project my voice (yes, it’s just conceivable I may be offered a line somewhere down the…line).

My hand now hovers over my phone, awaiting the call to set. I’m poised to grab that TV commercial (dog-walker sitting on park bench), that soap (farmer leans against bar), that blockbuster (American tourist on Champs-Élysées as Ben Affleck sprints past).

What better way to spend a couple of days a month? I’ll meet new people, learn about the film word and collect ideas for (possibly more than one) forthcoming story. Better still, I’ve discovered that we foot-soldiers, we, the very foundations of the movie industry, aren’t called extras by those in the know. We’re proud to be known as supporting artistes. How impressive will that be when dropped into a conversation in which I casually mention the time I worked with Jennifer Lawrence?

Another Upside…

Hmmm. That white section of living room wall looks so good that I may have to repaint the whole apartment!