The Boyfriend of the Week
April 13, 2005
As I mentioned last week, I've recently been working my way through season one of the HBO crime drama "The Wire." When I first started watching it, it was with an eye on Dominic West as potential Boyfriend material, and last week, I fully intended to make him the final installment of the HBOyfriend series. I've liked Dom for a long time, even though he really hasn't had a whole lot to do when it comes to most of his parts (see, for example, "28 Days" and "Mona Lisa Smile"). Finally, I thought to myself, we'll get to see Dominic sink his teeth into a real role. And yes, I realize he was one of the stars of "The Forgotten" and that there he had lots of speaking parts and a bit more depth of character than usual. However, that movie stopped counting the moment everything was explained by the word "aliens," although, ironically, that also happened to be the very moment I started to enjoy myself. Funny, that.
To be honest, however, after watching several episodes of "The Wire," I still felt like Dominic didn't really have that much to do, acting-wise, despite the fact he's clearly the star of the show. He always seems pretty much the same to me, no matter what part he's trying to play. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that (see Harrison Ford). However, in terms of the HBOyfriend series, it wasn't long before I'd pretty much dismissed Dominic in favor of someone else. And that someone, a fact which none of you should be surprised by at this point, ended up being none other than the geeky guy who works all the computers and cracks all the codes -- Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, played by this week's goofy cutie, Jim True-Frost.
The show is about two gangs in Baltimore, MD -- a gang of drug dealers and the gang of cops who are trying to get the drug dealers (especially the drug dealer leader, a very good-looking guy named Avon Barksdale played by Wood Harris, who is definitely Boyfriend material). It's called "The Wire" because the cops' evidence collection primarily consists of wire taps on all the neighborhood phone booths, as well as a couple of cloned pagers. But mixed into the gritty crime stories are a lot of personal elements -- never to the point of becoming "The O.C.," fortunately, but just enough so that we start to fall for guys on both sides of the law.
Prez is probably the character with the fewest speaking parts, actually -- he's definitely not a main character. But he just cracked me up (the reason he ends up behind the computers to begin with is because the first thing he does in his new office is accidentally shoot the wall -- whoops!). And when he wasn't making me smile, he was being The Geek who cracked all the codes used by all the bad guys. And you KNOW how I feel about geeks, right? I mean, a couple of weeks ago, when Marshall got to be the star of an entire episode of "Alias" (the one where Sidney was buried alive), I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
And this is, I think, because attraction is really all about aspiration -- you fall in love with a person you wish you could be more like yourself. And while I would consider myself to be relatively tech savvy, compared with the average person, I still aspire, just about more than anything, to be an absolute technological genius.
Thus, characters like Prez and Marshall always, ALWAYS make me swoon. Not only are they smart, but geeks tend to be humble and adorably self-deprecating too. Maybe it's because they are self-conscious about their geekiness (also a cute trait). Society has always kind of stigmatized brainiacs, after all (think pocket protectors and "Revenge of the Nerds"). But that humility -- it is just the epitome of charming, a concept that will henceforth be referred to as "charmitome." Whenever I encounter a true geek, I always want to give him a big, charmitomic smooch and take him charmitomically home with me.
Now, as with all the newest HBO dramas I've seen recently, namely "Carnivale" and "Deadwood," it took me several episodes to really get into "The Wire." So, if you've started season one and just couldn't get past the first few hours, I'd urge you to hang in there. To be honest, I didn't truly get hooked until about episode seven, which sort of makes this all sound like faint praise, doesn't it? Since there are only thirteen episodes and it took me seven hours to actually like it?
But no, it's not, really. Because a big part of my problem had to do with the fact that "The Wire" is just SO GOOD. It's very complicated and it really requires the viewer's full concentration. Ordinarily, I'm doing ten other things when I'm watching television -- everything from crossword puzzles to writing to balancing my checkbook to reading to knitting to yoga to cleaning to yelling at my cat to "SHUT UP, ALREADY!" as she meows over and over and over and over in an attempt to get me to drop the forty other things I'm doing and PAY ATTENTION TO HER, PLEASE, NOW, THANK YOU.
Anyway, if you tried "The Wire" and couldn't get into it, try it again. And then, when you STILL can't get into it, toss it aside and rent some Jim True-Frost movies instead. Because Dominic Schmominick (say that out loud -- it's fun). What you really need is some True-Frost. And there are certainly some other great places to score some.
I actually recognized Jim from "The Wire" the first time I saw him, but it took me at least three episodes to be annoyed enough by my inability to place him for me to finally get off my arse and look him up. Someday, I hope to develop technology that will allow me to wirelessly connect my BRAIN to the IMDb so that wherever I am, I can always instantly look a That Guy up and figure out where the hell I know him from (I have a good story about this planned for the next Boyfriend, by the way). When Jim's page finally loaded, I was amazed to find that what I knew him from was the 1992 Cameron Crowe movie "Singles." The amazing part about it, which I took to be a real sign, was that it dawned on me that I couldn't remember a single other thing about that movie, aside from this picture in my head of Jim True (the name he went by back then) in that dorky hat with that dorky soul-patch-y thing on his chin.
So, I rented it. And, to be honest, I fully expected to hate it. I vaguely remembered approaching it with disdain when it first came out because it wasn't cool to like movies like "Singles" in my circle back then. Add to that the fact that the longer I live in Seattle, the less patience I have for novels, movies, and television shows that are supposed to be set here, and I was pretty much expecting to be yelling at the screen for the full two hours.
Because most of the time, people who set things in Seattle do one of two annoying things (or, even worse, they do two of two annoying things): 1) they make sure you know it's set here by providing lots of the standard, boring shots of the Space Needle, the neon Pike Place Market sign, and some guys throwing fish at each other; or 2) they spend the entire time "name-dropping" famous Seattle locations or icons or companies. And when I say "name-dropping," I mean that in a wholly negative way -- not just mentioning things in passing, but mentioning them in a way that really sticks out and doesn't fit. I read a novel once that was guilty of this -- the author dropped the name of a Seattle club or band every three paragraphs and by the middle it just started to feel like the writer was DESPERATE to make sure that you could tell he was a REALLY COOL SEATTLE GUY.
For a prime example of Annoying Thing Number 1, by the way, tune into the new show "Grey's Anatomy." I mean, enough with the Pike Place sign and Space Needle, already! And who the hell calls that beverage a "mocha latte," I'd like to know, because it's certainly not anybody who actually lives here. I hate it when someone who doesn't really KNOW the city tries to pretend they do, just because they've heard all the stereotypes about coffee and rain. They couldn't hire an actual Seattle resident to proof all the scripts before they go out? Dude, I want to like your show, but you need to pay me $40 an hour to go through all your text and find these kinds of problems, otherwise you risk annoying every single person who lives in the Pacific Northwest.
However, that said, it only took five minutes for me to really, really like the movie "Singles." Why? Because of the three opening Seattle scenery shots, two were places only a local would know. First, the "Food Giant" sign (which was replaced by a "Wallingford" sign when that Food Giant was changed into a QFC a few years ago), and then The Neptune, a movie theater located about two blocks from where I work.
And yes, later on we got the Space Needle and coffee. And I came close to gagging when I saw a Dale Chihuly sitting on the table in the doctor's office -- except that, well, you know something? That's just really darn accurate.
Plus, it's not actually a bad movie. It's a little on the cheesy side (it's about a bunch of 20-somethings in Seattle struggling with various romantic relationships), but it's also kind of funny sometimes. Plus, there's Jim True playing the somewhat goofy, completely adorable friend of the main character (played by Campbell Scott -- and, incidentally, every time I see Campbell Scott, I think to myself, "Why haven't I made Campbell Scott a Boyfriend yet?" And then the next day, I completely forget all about him until he turns up in something else. I wonder why that is? Actually, you know what? I know why it is. It's because he reminds me of an ex-boyfriend (small-b). I just figured this out! How weird!)
If you can't do romantic comedies -- and hey, I hear ya on that, I often can't do them myself -- you have another excellent option for a little Jim True-Frost fix. It's the film "Affliction" costarring Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, and ex-Boyfriend Willem Dafoe. The movie is about Nick's character, Wade, who is a small town police officer whose investigation into a potential murder ends up driving him bonkers. But Jim's character is pivotal, and not just because he's the potential murderer that Wade is having to investigate. He's also one of Wade's friends, and this conflict adds another layer of emotional confusion to Wade's already hip-deep pile o' psychological shee-it. Plus, man, Jim just looks SO cute in that little hunter outfit he wears! Charmitome!!
You can also see Jim in movies like "The Hudsucker Proxy" and "Off the Map," the latter of which is in theaters right now and has been getting pretty good reviews (I haven't seen it yet myself). It's about a man, played by Sam Elliott (purrrrrrrr), who decides to pack up his family and move out to the boonies to escape all the misery of big-world life. Only, as it turns out, his misery doesn't actually have anything to do with the pressures of the city -- he and his daughter are clinically depressed and pretty much are thusly miserable regardless of their surroundings. When a similarly depressed IRS agent (played by Jim) is sent out to investigate the fact the family hasn't been paying taxes, he finds himself unable to stop hanging around, eventually falling in love with Sam's wife (I think -- I might be making that part up). Coincidentally, by the way, "Off the Map" is directed by Campbell Scott. Is this a sign that I need to stop relating him to my ex-boyfriend and start thinking of him as a future Boyfriend? Hard to say. Must be time to rent "The Spanish Prisoner" again.
The bad news about Jim True-Frost is that I couldn't find a single piece of autobiographical data on him. I have no idea how old he is, where he was born, how he got started in acting, whether he has siblings, whether he's married, or whether he only has four toes on his left foot. Though, now that I think about it, some of that data we might really be better off not knowing.
But, the goods news about Jim True-Frost is that I still have several more seasons of "The Wire" to watch on DVD. And he also has a small role in a new movie coming out in the next year called "Slippery Slope," which is described as "a sexy screwball comedy about an uptight young feminist filmmaker that secretly takes a job directing adult films to raise funds for her documentary." And is it just me, or does that sound utterly lacking in charmitome? Jim, James, Jimmy, Jamlamadingdong -- please be careful! For me! For your career! For our future! FOR OUR CHILDREN!
[Addendum: a reader just wrote to say Jim is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble in Chicago. You can see a little bit of info about his theater work at their web site: http://www.steppenwolf.org/ensemble/members/. Note also the presence of ex-Boyfriend Kevin Anderson, who is still one of my biggest crushees of all time!]
MacGyver Factor Score: 96.239%. Points off for not having a web site about yourself from which I could've pulled information, photographs, trivia, and interesting links. Points back, however, for not having a web site about yourself that was annoying, which a lot of those personal actor web sites are. Splash pages should be outlawed, people. They are useless and silly. And if music starts up automatically when I load your page, I will immediately wish to have you shot. No scrolling text. Do not use 24 different fonts and font-sizes. And please, for the love of Pete, do not make your web site black with white text. Thank you, and have a nice day.
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