Why I really got into show business…

I started out as a musician. 

6 years old with a 1/2 sized violin tucked under my chin. I was my teachers youngest student. She taught old school classical style. It was almost a Karate Kid kind of teaching … Hold this ball between the neck of the violin and you hand to make sure your wrist has the right curve. Place a glass of water on the back of your bow hand to make sure it stays level and smooth while you draw the bow across the strings. 
Trust me…That is right up there with catching a fly with chopsticks. 
I played all through elementary school and middle school, joining the orchestra as soon as I was allowed. While the other kids were learning “Mary had a little lamb” I was working on Schubert. 

Then we moved to a school district where there was no Orchestra…just band. I needed to learn a new instrument if I intended to keep myself musical, so I picked up the Tuba. From middle school to high school, that was what I played. I got good at that too. I even attended Interlochen Arts Academy during the summer to play with the best of the best. At school the band was very very small. At times we did not have enough students to cover all of the parts so sometimes I would fill in on drums or baritone. I loved it and was sure that I was bound to become a professional musician. It was my first love. 
My Sophomore year we had a change of band teachers. This was not a good thing. She was fresh out of college herself and lacked the experience and talent to run a small band like ours. She refused to help transpose pieces into the instrumentation we had and only allowed us to work on solo pieces. This was not what any of us had signed up for. On top of that she was foul tempered and lecherous. More than once I heard her drooling over some of the students out loud. It was crass, disgusting and just plain wrong. She was the only teacher I ever had a real confrontation with. Bad enough that I sent MYSELF to the office for my own safety. She had said in front of the class that I was talentless and had no reason ever touching a musical instrument again. This was because I had asked her if we could please work on something as a group and refused to work on solos anymore, I had accused her of not knowing HOW to transpose music. She threw a pile of sheet music at me and shouted the above.
The next year, there was no band class. It had been offered, but no one would take it. Not from her. Not ever.
My creative outlet was gone. 
People who say a single teacher cannot make a difference have no idea. One bad, very bad, extremely bad teacher changed the course of my life. 
I found out about an audition for a musical at the local community theater. Although at this point I had no faith in my musical abilities I decided to try out. It would give me something to do, even with a tiny bit part. 
I got one. It was not a huge part but at least I had lines to say and even got to sing a little. I was out on stage without my instrument to hide behind and I did ok. 
The next musical they did I got a much bigger part and was told that I had a really good singing voice. I was surprised by this but went with it. At 16 I was cast as a 35 year old Scotsman…I even had the dialect down. 
That is when I decided to be an actor. I loved being different people, loved the costuming, loved that I was part of a bigger story. Still…It was missing something. I couldn’t put my finger on it …
I went to college as a theatre major, concentrating in performance and dialect. I was cast in plays and musicals my Freshman year, even though I was up against students with much more experience and time in the program. 
Along that time I happened to see a television broadcast of David Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. It was good, I enjoyed it…Then it came to this part-

Watch it. Watch the whole thing.
There is a moment at the 2 min 50 second mark…A girl dressed exactly the same as Bowie…Saying each individual word as though she was singing the song herself. She is not just lip syncing…In those moments, deep inside her, she IS Bowie. He brought her along with him to the point that she is feeling the song, she is feeling what he is doing, she is not listening to the song she is transported by it. Transformed by it. 
I wanted THAT. That kind of power. To get that sort of energy from an audience. To give so much of yourself that the audience has no choice but to be one with you. 
In general I am a very closed off person. My emotions vary rarely come out and I don’t let many people in. To me this seemed such a dangerous concept, one that absolutely terrified me. 
I wanted it. More. Than. Anything.

Acting nudged at it. Since you are always someone else you can never really give everything that you are. Not entirely. 
I started to see my path when I joined the Rosier Players Vaudeville show. 4 nights a week we did three act plays. I would play in the pit and then run up to act on stage then back to the pit again. 

It was the 5th night where things became more clear. The 5th night (The Saturday night show) was variety night. We would do skits interspersed with musical numbers and other acts. The 5th night, I played no character. I was simply me on stage.

I had one solo song. The band would play and I would have the whole stage to myself and I sang.  It was one of the most frightening things I ever had to do. It was the song “Somebody Loves Me”. It is about a person looking everywhere to find just the right person…He knows that they are out there but does not know where. Worried that his one true love might pass him on the street without him noticing. 
I sang it and let myself be vulnerable. I let the feelings of that song come over me as I crouched at the front of the stage. I reached out and touched hands, I locked eyes with my audience plainly asking if they were the one I was looking for…
I frequently got mobbed after the Saturday night show. 
And I had a taste of what it is like to really connect with an audience. 
It was incredible. It was not acting, it was giving myself to the wonderful people who I hoped would want to come along…and they did.
This started me onto the path I am on today. Sure…It is a comedy show now but I am still trying to bring everyone along with me. The reason people cringe is because they can put themselves in my place. They can feel the glass under their feet or on the side of their face.  They imagine a trap snapping on their own tongue. They can feel how much I adore my partner and how much I really do trust her (Despite my protestations to the contrary). For the most part, they seem to enjoy the trip.
And every now and then if I have time before the show starts, I will tell a story. Quietly, sitting on the front of the stage I talk. I connect. I tell them of things that happened to me in my life…I look into their eyes and see that they are there. They are indeed with me.
It is amazing. 

 

Speak it and it shall be.

A few years back, I said to Sylver “You know…I’d like to move into an actual house some day.”
We did, even though at the time I said it, it seemed impossible.
I had thought it many times but had dismissed it as something that would never happen. I said it out loud and it happened.
Some time after that, Sylver said “You know…I’d like to go to Mexico.” 
Again, impossible at the time…We had just moved into a house. A bit after that we found ourselves in Playa Del Carmen Mexico.
“I’d like to start an aerial arts school”
Silly… We had no location or a way to get one. 
Two years later we are housed at the largest Gymnastics Complex in West Michigan with classes 4 nights a week.
A month or so after we started that “I’d like to do a week long run at a large county fair.”
We wound up in Iowa for a week at the National Cattle Congress.
Right after that “You know…We should find a way to get onto national TV…”
We wound up on a reality show that will be airing in May of this year.

We have said a few things out loud since then, and several of them are on their way to fruition.
All of these things seemed impossible and we had no clue on how to make them happen when we said them. Yet things fell together at just the right moments. 
Why is this? Magic? The Power of Positive thinking? Some amazing deity reaching down from the heavens to align things perfectly to make our dreams come true?
Hardly.
You ever have one of those days when every time you looked at the clock it was 1:11, 2:22 and then 3:33?
An obscure song comes to mind and then you hear it three times in the same day?
Thought of someone and then very soon afterwards get a message of some sort from them?
Your mind is very selective as to what it hilights. 
There is a 1:11, 2:22 and 3:33 occurring twice every day. Once this sequence is hilighted we tend to forget the times we looked at the clock at 1:24, 2:36 and 4:35.
When we hear an obscure song that we just thought of, we neglect to remember the 30 other obscure songs we thought of but did not hear as well as the 30 other songs we did hear but had not thought of.
We forget the other people we thought of but did not get a message from.

When we say something out loud, our subconscious starts to run programs to seek out things relevant to that statement. I mention going to Bali and all of a sudden *BAM* I see a travel advert for Bali. I had most likely seen that advert for Bali many times but now my programs are running- It jumps out. Pathways to make it happen start to appear and it becomes clear how to make it happen.
I am not saying it does not take work. It does. We worked our bums off to make the aerial school happen. It took sacrifice and hard work to get onto the TV show. What the process does is finds a way to make the impossible more attainable. It shines a light onto the path that must be taken to achieve the goal.

This is different from my previous blog about seeing what you focus on as that only deals with the present. It helps you look at your life and say “You know…This ain’t so bad.”  This is more aggressive, it helps to shape your future. It helps to pull you towards your goals. A race driver once said “You will always drive towards where you are looking.” You look towards the inside of the curve where you want to go. If you look at the wall, you are going to hit it.
Say what you want, out loud. Say it in front of people that you want to get there with. Apply the filter that will help you see the important stuff: The things you are going to need. When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Look at what you want and then find the tools. After that, everything seems to fall into place.

Just say it out loud.

Alone on Beaver Island…A Gwyd the Unusual Adventure!

By popular demand, another “Things that happen to Gwyd” post. I guess that it is the fall weather, the leaves and thoughts of bonfires that push me towards the “spooky” stories in my life. So, today will be the tale of my stay on Beaver Island and those odd things that happened there. As always, this story is the absolute truth as I perceived it.

Tomorrow, a potentially offensive rant on body issues 🙂

Here we go…

It was early spring of 2002 when I left for Beaver Island. I had lost my sole source of income late in 2001 due to a downsizing at the company I had been working at. I had a Wife and two children and we were reaching the end of our financial rope. I had been offered a job laying a hardwood floor in a cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan. The job was scheduled for two weeks, ending just before the start of tourist season on the island.
Note that this was before the tourist season. The winter population of the island is scant at best considering that the only way to get back and forth to the island is by a two and a half hour ferry ride  or private boat. Not a practical solution for Lake Michigan during the blizzard months. This was mid May. Still cold but little chance of snow. The only real population outside of the main town were folks like me, coming up to prep the properties for their owners.
The ferry ride was a bit rough but uneventful. I arrived on the island at dusk under cloudy skies.
After stopping at the small store for some supplies I headed down the South curve of the 13 mile long island, cursing at myself for having written my directions in pencil…Nearly impossible to read by the dome light. Even as simple as the directions were, finding the right address in the dark where the street signs may or may not be there was difficult.
Finally I saw the reflector that marked where the end of the driveway was and turned in. Finally I saw my destination some 500 feet from the waters edge. I shut down my car as the motion sensing light turned on, got out and let myself in.
The place was amazing. Cobblestone floors in the entrance and kitchen, a fireplace, rough hewn wood furniture…But the most striking feature was the windows. Floor to ceiling all along the water side of the cottage. Of course, being night now and with the lights on inside the cottage they were now merely 10 foot tall black mirrors showing nothing but the inside of the house and my own reflection.
I selected one of the rooms, dropped my bags and crashed for the night. I would have a much better opportunity to explore my surroundings tomorrow.
The first couple of days passed uneventfully. I found my building supplies alongside the house where they had been delivered the week before and set to work. I would empty a room, tear out the old flooring and then put in the new…Rough dirty work but of the sort that made me happy.
Between bouts of work I ate, watched TV and explored. The phone was not functional as they only turned it on during the  months they were actually there but there was satellite TV and a DVD player. During the day, the view through those windows was spectacular. At night…I found them a little off putting. I don’t like situations where I can’t see what can see me.
So  the third afternoon I decided it was time to do some exploring by car. I needed to get some supplies and figured I would just keep driving around for a while to see what else there was. I had heard about some nice small lakes and some state owned areas where I thought I might get to see the coyotes I had been hearing or perhaps some deer.
So off I trundled into the dark in my lil minivan. It was a dark night with only a sliver of moon covered by clouds.

I should probably mention that I had watched “The Blair Witch Project” the night before on DVD.
I know…a lot of people say it is not a scary movie. My response is this- Try watching it alone, when you have not seen another living person in two days, in a cabin on a near deserted island with 10 foot high windows at your back in the dark.
Much scarier than you might think.

Keeping that in mind…When my minivan blew out a tire out at the Southwestern tip of the island…I was not thrilled. When I got out of the car and saw that I was in the middle of a massive Birch forest… Ghost White tree trunks in all directions… I was even less thrilled.
When the coyotes I had been looking for decided to let me know that I was now directly in the middle of their happy place by starting to howl on all sides of me at once… I was downright grumpy.

So I changed the tire, having to turn my back to the coyotes and their yips as they came closer and closer. I could hear their footsteps mere yards away.
I can only imagine what sort of “prey” signals I was sending out to the winter starved beasts. Crouching against a large object (the car) sweating with exertion but not going anywhere, grunting in my efforts to loosen the lugs, blood dripping from one of my knuckles from where I had banged it against the tire rim.

Yep. Prey.
I’d be disappointed in them if they weren’t considering eating me.

So…I am a little freaked out by the ghost white woods, I am miles from anyone, I have a flat tire (And no cell phone), I am bleeding and am slowly being circled by hungry coyotes. I have nothing besides a tire iron…

A tire iron and the vocal power of a trained Shakespearean actor…

Have you ever seen a video of a silverback gorilla  charging around the jungle banging sticks and things together just to show how big and awesome he was?

I did that.
“Rawargh!!!” I stood suddenly, banging my tire iron against the rim of the tire. “Raaaaaargh!” I beat my cupped hands against my chest.
The yipping stopped and I heard quick coyote footsteps fading away.
I never finished changing a tire so fast.
Did they leave because I seemed like a a great and mighty primate?
Or did they leave because they don’t eat crazy?
I went back to the cottage and spent the rest of the night staring at the huge black windows.

I took the weekend off from my labors. The construction had been going well, I had over half the job done and hadn’t managed to cut off any limbs while unsupervised with power tools.
Time for more exploring.

I had been eyeing the beach for some time. It was far too cold to swim but it seemed a pleasant place to walk. So that is what I did. I took my camera, some snacks and a big walking stick and set out.
Well…If you know me or have read any of my previous entries, you know that nothing good happens when I set out for a walk. You would think I would have learned by now…
I went too far and missed my point of no return. In a plane, that means you have flown so far you do not have enough fuel to turn around and go home. You have to continue on.
In my case, I had walked too far to make it back before it got dark.
I mentioned that the moon had been a sliver earlier in the week? It was gone now. No moon at all. No stars either because of clouds. No light pollution because I was on a freakin island in the middle of nowhere.
I had left a light on at the house so I would at least not walk by it in the dark…but it was still a half hours walk distant when night truly fell.
I made my way along the shore, my left foot occasionally splashing into the surf, my right foot sometimes tripping over driftwood. When I ran into a place I thought seemed rough, I would take out my camera and take a picture, using the flash as a momentary light. The half hours walk turned into an hour and I was concerned that the light had somehow gone out and I had missed it entirely.
Finally I saw the little yellow bug light from the porch of the house. There was a good path that ran up from the beach so using the flash, I found the end and started walking up. It was still pitch black but at least I had a beacon.
Of course, it was at this point, I heard something. Footsteps of some sort off to my left. I paused, they paused. I moved, they moved. I slowly raised the camera to eye level and aimed it to my left. I pushed the trigger.

*Flash!*
I looked intently where I heard the noise from  when the flash went off. I saw nothing. I laughed quietly to myself thinking “Squirrels in the dark” and chiding my timidness.

Then I looked at the display of the camera. It was showing the last image taken. Some low lying pine trees, some scrub brush…Nothing out of the…
Just outside the range of the flash, barely visible through the pine branches I could see two points of light. Two points of light at my eye level. Anyone who has taken a picture with a flash before would recognize this… eye shine or  red eye. There are even tools to remove it in any photo program.
In the dark, there was something causing eye shine at my eye level and it was just 12 or so feet away.

I backed my way the last 50 feet up the trail to the house.

The next morning I went to check out where I had seen the camera flash lit eyes.
Just behind the pine tree was a slight rise…A foot or so. On top of that rise I found (Much to my relief) deer tracks.

So…Even I can spook myself given the right set of circumstances:)
The rest of the time on the island was uneventful. I finished the work and came home. Two weeks as a hermit was both surprisingly easy and surprisingly hard.
Would I do it again? Sure…But I would bring a friend.

It was creepy!

Why the blog? Doesn’t Gwyd live on Facebook?

I do live on Facebook.
Well…Gwyd does. The guy behind Gwyd is a little more secluded.
Gwyd has very few controversial opinions on things. He can’t afford them. He is a public figure- An entertainer. He cannot really afford to alienate entire demographics simply because of a difference of opinion. As a pure entertainer this is not his job.

The fellow behind Gwyd…Well…He has a lot of opinions on things that matter to him very much. He has political stances, unconventional spiritual beliefs and sometimes has a bad day.

Gwyd NEVER has a bad day. A bad moment maybe, an entire day? Never ever!! When the bad moments occur and are posted it is only so that they can be exploited for their comedic value.

Who would want to tune in to see an entertainer complaining about traffic or that their enchilada was too soggy or that their feelings got hurt by a girl 20 years ago and has not gotten entirely over it yet.
People come to Gwyd to be entertained. If he were to complain about something once in a while I suppose it would be ok…I can guarantee he would get a lot of support…But he would lose something in the process.
So…I start a blog. It might say Gwyd the Unusual, but it is really me, Michael. The fellah behind the…clown? Sideshow Freak? Character? Alter Ego?

Secret Identity?

So, if you are reading this expecting to be entertained, you might be. It is really just a public diary for me to spew some thoughts into. If you like reading it, read it! If you don’t…Go visit Gwyd on Facebook. He’ll still love you.