(Read Part 2)
Back in 1999, my first year working at the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Science View department was looking for actors. They were producing an educational CD-ROM about supernovas, and needed a boy and girl to portray high school students. We would receive our regular hourly wage and a copy of the completed CD-ROM. As a fame- and cash-starved college sophomore, it was an offer I couldn't refuse.
I showed up at the museum after closing time, along with an Asian girl from the gift store who I'd never encountered before or since. Our relationship was to be as brilliant and as brief as the explosion of a supernova itself. Truly, there had not been on-screen chemistry like that in the Lawrence Hall of Science since Marie Curie was featured in the Women's History Month display. On second thought, since it's a CD-ROM, that ought to be on-disk chemistry. OK. Then, there hadn't been on-disk chemistry like that since Glenn Seaborg recited the laws of thermodynamics on Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle."
I played a kid named Alan. Alan helped our CD-ROM users to search for and identify supernovas. Alan said things like, "Yes! That's it! You found a supernova!" or "Are you sure that's a supernova? Maybe you should check your math and try again." As I try to be a Method Actor, I tried to get inside Alan's head. I tried to feel his excitement about the search, his disappointment with the wrong supernova locations, his subtle-but-palpable lust for Store Girl's character. I experimented with different line readings: "Yes! That's it! You found a supernova!" "Yes! That's it! You found a supernova!" "Yeah? That's it? You (visible quote marks)'found a supernova.' Well that's great. Congratufuckinlations."
Eventually, I think the goal of the game is to find a certain number of supernovas. Or maybe just one supernova. Or maybe the supernovas make a picture if you find them all, or there's a song that plays. Basically, this CD-ROM is probably not much fun.
We had to do a lot of takes because of Store Girl screwing up. It was like being in a Kubrick film, only we weren't in England and I didn't have to do a nude scene. It was distracting, but I tried to focus on Alan, on the supernovas, on the extra five dollars I would receive if the shoot lasted past 7:00. And, oh, what I learned about supernovas! Nothing at all, that's what.
The shoot wrapped, and I never heard about the CD-ROM again after our two hours of shooting was up. That is, until this week, when I heard from Science View. In an e-mail which I would quote from if UCLink weren't on life support, a woman told me the CD-ROM had been completed and produced. Soon, a copy of the CD-ROM will be in my hands, soon to be followed by accolades and fame and fortune and cocaine and the opposite of despair.