'Allo 'allo! Welcome to another fun, DVD-filled UPDATE blog! In addition to this, you're in for a treat! Some of you know that I intend to write a book about my life from birth up to the time I graduated college. The book I plan on titling Visions of Me: The Story of a Man Who Watched a Tale, and Lived the Movie. All about the stuff I have been through from 1983-2006. I haven't decided whether I want to continue the story up to present day. Personally, I feel that those first 23 years do enough justice. Might as well wait another 23 to write the 'sequel' as it were. But basically, after a chat the other with my best friend, Rusty Roberts, I had the idea to give you a bit of a sneak peek into what I intend writing about in the book of my life. All true, with minor names changed for those that did not wish to have their real names mentioned. All this is my own personal memories. I hope you enjoy! But first things first! The DVD UPDATE!
Alrighty then! The moment you've all been waiting for! A sneak peek at some of the chapters I am writing about in the book of my life!
The Best Summer of My Life
It started with a pain in my tooth, and ended with case of Starbucks Frappuccinos. Prom night was over the moment I hugged Carrie Armbruster and walked to my Dad's car which he let me use that night. As I got into the front seat, a sudden tingling surged in my front right tooth. This was the same tooth I had chipped on a shopping cart years before and had bonded. After so many years, was it possible that the tooth needed to be re-bonded? I let it slide as I drove home from Carrie's house. Entering my bedroom, I went over the night in my head. Was it in fact the so-called 'greatest night of my life'? I thought to myself at that moment, yes. It was fun, but the lack of games and amusement park rides that were supposed to show up and didn't took it down a huge notch. But for that brief moment, I felt compelled to tell my friends and family that it was.
Zach's auditions for 'The Princess Bride' in Arden were just around the corner. The Math course I'd have to take at DelTech was roughly a month away. The trip to Europe was looming over my head like a cloud that is slightly gray in color. You don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. I had the orientation at Shippensburg University coming up as well. Was this to be the toughest Summer of my life? I didn't know. But fate was about to deal me a card I never thought I'd get.
The auditions for 'The Princess Bride' were fun. I got to act alongside my BHS friends, Josh Selekman, Mike Zink, Liam MacDonna, Laura Pinson, and Meg McDonald. Meg...that was the card I had been dealt. We hadn't really spoken to one another before. At least not nothing more than a simple "Hey, how's it going?" But during a rehearsal, we got to speaking more exclusively and one night, I asked out on a date. Those of you who have read the chapters leading up to this know how these usually go. A movie, followed by a snack at some diner, then back to her place to chat for a while, and then I leave knowing full well, it's the way it should be and will always be. However, this time around, things were different.
I took Meg to Regal Cinemas to see the new Scooby Doo live action movie. Never being much of a fan of the cartoon series, but with nothing else really impressive in theaters, I chose to check it out with her. It was pretty funny and the live action actors did a good job bringing their animated counterparts to life in the human world. After the movie we went to the Golden Castle diner to get some ice cream. She didn't really eat much. She was one of those really thin girls who feared whatever pounds she put on had to be immediately worked off within 24 hours. But regardless, I drove her back to her house. There, we seemed to get along a lot more and she actually told me she had grown to like me in a boyfriend-ish sort of way. That was something I was never prepared to hear. I was usually the one saying it and always wound up scaring away the girl. But now, the tables had turned.
Happily, I told Meg that I found her company likeable too and would welcome the opportunity to see her more throughout the Summer. We then exchanged yearbook autographs as we had them accessible. She essentially wrote the ultimate love note to me. I wrote her a note that was only about 45% of what she wrote to me. But regardless, she agreed that a relationship between us would be a great thing to do. That night, as I left we hugged, but of course what I really wanted to do was kiss her. When I got home and went online, I received an IM from Meg saying how much she really did want to kiss me right then and there. Immediately, I signed off, rushed into my car, and bolted out of the garage, speeding back to Meg's place hoping to kiss her.
I got to the door, took some deep breaths, and knocked. Meg answered and was visibly shocked by my return. "I didn't mean for you to come back now! You've gotta go! My parents are going to wake up! I'll see you tomorrow!" she said. Slightly dejected, I went back to my car and went home. Of course it was stupid. What kind of person does that?! A guy that's most likely going to be on the cover of a fancy mens magazine. Not Phil Smith. However, the next time Meg and I saw each other as boyfriend-girlfriend was to be the last time we were named as such.
The way the whole Meg-Phil thing got started was from Meg confessing to me she had a crush on Zach but didn't know how to go about approaching him since he was so busy directing the play. I told her she shouldn't try to force him into something he is either too busy for or doesn't want at the moment. In doing so, Meg found the sweetness in me and wanted to see me instead. Yet she still couldn't shake her feelings for Zach. The next day we went out to Burger King for lunch before our Princess Bride rehearsal. Again, Meg merely picked at her food while I cleaned my tray. After rehearsal, we walked back to her jeep where for the first time we kissed. It was nice. Nothing spectacular or fireworks-ish, but it felt good. But that evening, the feelings diminished.
I got an IM from Zach saying that he spent the evening with Meg talking about the feelings she had for him. Apparently he told her that she couldn't lead me on like this and had to fess up to the fact that she liked him more than me and didn't want to hurt me. Sure enough, after the conversation I had online with Zach, I received a phone call from Meg telling me she just wanted to be friends. Slightly upset, I agreed and hung up. Well, she told me point blank she liked him in the first place, but still who writes a note like that in your yearbook practically handing over your heart to someone?
Where my "heartbreak" dissipated, my toothache returned. My front tooth continued to bother me to the point of making a trip to my dentist. Dr. Hazuda did some tapping on my front teeth with his mirror. The moment it hit the tooth that was bothering me, I practically leapt right out of the chair. That hurt. He diagnosed me with needing to have a root canal performed on my tooth. The words hit me like a doctor telling a kid that need their appendix taken out. I'd never had to have a procedure like this done before and it scared me. Luckily, the process would only take about a day to get done and it was actually quite painless. I was awake throughout the entire procedure but didn't feel a thing. Just "chat" with the doctor and closed my eyes a couple times to keep from staring at the bright light shining on my face. You want to talk about pain, see my chapter on the 'Most Painful Winter of My Life.'
Within the Princess Bride rehearsals, came the Math course that I had to take at DelTech. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 2pm-5pm. DelTech was located near Toys R Us and Borders Books & Music. An area I rarely traveled to. Most of my friends who went to UD would travel around or near that area all the time since it was essentially near Newark, Delaware. The class itself was pretty easy. Algebra I. Due to the fact that I failed my Math Placement Test for Shippensburg, I had to take this course and pass it with at least a C average in order to take the Math course at SU. Only problem was, at the final week of class, on the last test, I only got a C. I wanted to retake it so I could get at least an A and bump my class average grade up to a B+/A-. That day came on yet another big event that was part of the summer. A film festival. But, we'll talk about that in a minute.
My BHS friend Ben Aaron had always done these movies using his videocamera. He'd done a couple short films when he was in elementary school and along with Zach, Josh, Mark Wheeler, and his brother Lenny, these comedy shorts called 'BBP Live.' That Summer, Ben decided to do a comedic spy movie called 'Spy Team' and cast various members of Zach's Princess Bride cast including myself. The movie was filmed over a two day period. July 20-21. Therefore, my 19th birthday was to be the first day of shooting and it started bright and early.
I got to Ben's house at 7am and waited for the other cast member to arrive. We shot the "action" sequences first to save from being exhausted for the second day's shooting. Using Ben's basement, his driveway, and the local junior high school, we filmed various scenes involving the bad guys (one of which I was playing!) kidnapping the hero's girlfriend (Meg) and getting involved in a big fight sequence. However, this proved to be one of the hottest days of the summer, and I paid a huge price getting a massive sunburn. My character, as per Ben's instructions, wore a wife-beater, so I had this whole white area on my upper body where the wife-beater covered and redness over the exposed areas. My parents thought it was hilarious, but of course, I didn't. My pain was short-lived though since that night the bulk of the Spy Team cast came back to my house to celebrate my birthday! We had some food, shared a lot of laughs, and watched American Pie 2 followed by Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back on DVD.
Thankfully, the next day was a lot cooler and in a major way. We filmed a second action sequence that was edited together with the first involving the bad guys winding up in Ben's swimming pool. Like I said, we cooled off in a major way! Naturally, this was the last sequence we filmed and thankfully, my skin wasn't too bad that day thanks to some good old aloe vera. The finished product was later premiered at Ben's house the following month.
The Princess Bride opened at the Gild Hall in July of 2002. I played the Grandfather made famous in the 1987 film by Peter Falk. I always seemed to play older men in the plays and musicals I'd taken part in. Don't know why. But the play was a lot of fun, regardless of the "romantic endeavor" I'd been involved in. A nice cast party was had at Zach's house and it just made me feel good to be part of such a fun cast and show. I'd later go on to perform in two more 'Zach Theis Productions.'
So let's recap for right now. I acted in a stage production of 'The Princess Bride,' a movie called 'Spy Team,' celebrated my 19th birthday, and took an algebra course at DelTech. Was my Summer of 2002 over? HELL NO! Remember that film festival I mentioned? Well, the day I re-took my algebra final at DelTech, I also attended a film festival at Josh's house. Right after I left DelTech, I drove to Josh's where Zach, Jeff Lange, and Ben Aaron had brought VHS tapes of a film they loved to be shown. That was the film festival. Each of us showcasing a movie we love and discuss it briefly! A great idea I thought! We spent pretty much the whole day at Josh's and it was just a lot of fun. Just the guys, y'know?
Finally, there was the European Vacation. No I don't mean the National Lampoon movie. I mean my European vacation! My yearbook teacher Beverly Schilling had organized this big trip to Paris, France and London, England every Summer and she was always in charge of the trip, but this year she was unable to, so she handed the duties off to my Mom! Why not? Especially since my Mom had been to Europe before and still remembered how to get around there! So a few days after the film festival, Mom and I along with fellow BHS student Lauren Petrick and her Mom flew out to Europe!
Only problem was the enormous delay we had at Philadelphia International Airport. Not only were there about 13-15 planes ahead of us, but by the time we got to the runway, we had to refuel! Luckily, the plane I was on had monitors on the seats in front of us, so I kept myself busy watching some movies. Surprisingly, Herbie Rides Again was one of the options! So, I watched it. Then noticing that you could watch it in different languages, I watched it in French, Spanish, and half of it in German! Eventually we got airborne, and I fell asleep, since it was going to be a very long plane ride.
Arriving in Paris at around 11am, we met up with our official tour guide during the trip. Unfortunately, I cannot remember her name so let's just call her Touri. Touri lead us to a bus that would take us to our hotel. I settled in to a very nice one bed/one bath room with a rather odd shower. The tub was your basic standard size, but there was no curtain. There was instead, a glass door that only covered about half the size of the tub! What's up with that? They don't care if you spray water out on to the floor?! Plus, this was the first bathroom I saw with a bidet! Of course, I had to ask my Mom what it was. I didn't know! For the record, I never used it.
To give you an idea of what Paris was like, I did all the touristy stuff. I saw the Louvre where the Mona Lisa was. Surrounded by people taking pictures of it, and get this, VIDEO. I mean seriously, do you really need to film the Mona Lisa, a painting for more than two minutes? We saw the Eiffel Tower, but didn't go up. Unfortunately, Mom's legs were hurting and I didn't want to go up if she wasn't. We took a trip to the Champs Elysees and I took some photos at locations used in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. But it wasn't always fun in Paris. It's true what they say about the French. They have a really bad attitude to Americans. I went inside an FYE in downtown Paris and attempted to find someone who spoke English. I wound up being laughed at and pretty much shunned away by the employees. While attempting to order a meal in French, a waitress rolled her eyes at me as if to say "Ugh...Americans..." The most I came out of Paris with was learning that Diet Coke is called 'Coke Light' and one of the most beautiful singers is Zazie; her song 'Sur Toi' became one of my favorite love songs. Plus, it was on MTV France that I got my first look at the music video for JXL's remix of Elvis Presley's 'A Little Less Conversation.'
Taking a metro train to London, England after spending three days in Paris was fun. Those trains are fast but the trip was about an hour. It was fun seeing the French countryside pass by plus getting to see London was a huge treat as we caught an instant glimpse of the London Eye! This was where I knew I wanted to spend the most time. London baby!!! We visited Westminster Abbey, the outside of Buckingham Palace, and a couple of historic museums documenting some battles fought in the area. As a fan of F*R*I*E*N*D*S, I even purchased a giant Union Jack hat like Joey did in the episode 'TOW Ross' Wedding!'
While in London, I had an opportunity to talk to my UK penpal Leanne on the phone! It was the first time we'd actually spoken since September of 2001 when I had started my Senior year of high school. It was so good to talk to her. We'd already sent a few packages to each other including pictures, cards, mixtapes and CDs. We still keep in touch to this day. On the eve of our last day spent in London, we went to an Internet cafe and caught up with our emails. I must've had 75 emails! Including an invite from my high school Drama teacher Mrs. Kay Jolly to come back for orientation and perform the 'Who's On First?' routine Zach and I did for new prospective students. Unfortunately, I had to decline the invite due to my starting college that week.
I got back from Europe with a little over two weeks left before starting college. I purchased some college supplies, saw Goldmember in the theater with some friends, caught the premiere of 'Spy Team' at Ben's house with the cast, and took one last drive around Wilmington with Josh, being my best friend and all. As a college 'dorm-warming' gift, he gave me a six pack of Starbucks Frappuccinos. "Those should last you the rest of the week," he told me quoting 'Billy Madison.' Perfect for those allnighters! Or just for a caffeine rush! I thanked him for the gift and gave him a good luck hug for the start of his upcoming junior year at BHS.
Two days later, Mom, Dad, and I headed to Shippensburg University. As I drove onto the Philadelphia Turnpike, I thought back to what I had done in the past three months. I acted in a stage play of 'The Princess Bride,' a film called 'Spy Team,' celebrated my 19th birthday, took an algebra course at DelTech, attended a film festival, took a trip to Europe, and began life at college...all in the span of just three months. I mean really, how many can say that they've done that during the Summer? Not that many...not...that...many, at all. It was then that I declared that the Summer of 2002 would forever be known as the Best Summer of My Life. Only one Summer would be able to compare with it, but only about 80% or so. But of course, that's another chapter that you'll have to read about.
CU @ SU:
College Life, Freshman Year
There you have it! I hope you've enjoyed this little preview of things to come! Another chapter posting may be in the future! As always, stay tuned!