Saturday, February 19, 2011

little known fact #3

Little Known Fact Background: I'm 98% certain that everyone who regularly reads this blog actually knows me.  But sometimes I like to dream of a time when I'm famous for these ramblings and folks will flock here and pore over the archives of my early days.  So I'm starting a new series (maybe) that will help those future fans (who truly are the imaginary readers I reference so often) get to know the real ellen--because you know, I've been doing such a first-rate job of not talking about myself up until now.  And perhaps, some of you who are actually acquainted with me will still learn something from these "little known facts."

LFK3:  I take it as a personal insult when the internet fails to provide me with information.

Lately I have found myself in frequent conversations about how we lived before the internet.  Usually these discussions crop up when someone whips out their phone to do a bit of fact-finding when we can't remember some movie or song or person or piece of trivia.  The conclusion I often come to is that in my pre-internet life my expectations were different.  I didn't expect to be able to lay my hands on any piece of information whenever I wanted, so I was more comfortable with not knowing answers or relying on my imperfect memory for the answers I needed.  But that's not how I live now.  In my world these days, there's nothing that the internet can't tell me, and I consider any evidence to the contrary highly offensive.  Knowing this background, let me share a story of how the internet recently nearly failed me.

I used my day off Friday to catch up on a backlog of DVRed shows that I've been neglecting thanks to the now-completed obsessive Harry Potter reread. As I was watching this week's 30 Rock, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to place the guest star who played Anders, the Martha Stewart-recommended Swiss prostitute.  (Man alive, that show is ridiculously hilarious--or maybe ridiculous and hilarious.)

I immediately recognized him as someone I should know from other shows/movies, but I couldn't think of what those shows and movies were.  I could distinctly remember a conversation with Peep Becky after watching him in a movie many years ago wherein she dubbed him "the poor man's Paul Rudd," but I couldn't remember what we'd seen him in that sparked that discussion.  Eventually my irritation with my own forgetfulness took over my life.  At first I had wanted to remember on my own, but I soon conceded that I would have to let the internet help me.

IMDB was my obvious first stop.  Unfortunately they were only listing one guest star for the episode, and it wasn't my guy, and no one (at that point anyway) had started a discussion thread about the actor.  So I next tried the 30 Rock page on the NBC website, but they didn't mention the name of the elusive guest star either.  A viewer had posted a comment on the episode recap asking who the actor was, but at the time I was searching, no one had responded.  Various Google searches yielded recaps and other bits of trivia about the episode but not the identity of this guy.  I even googled the poor man's Paul Rudd thing hoping that Becky and I weren't the only ones to ever notice that the two actors look alike.  That's when I truly began to feel that the internet was letting me down.  I felt adrift in a world which no longer made sense, but I refused to give up.  I began to try to picture the guy in other roles trying to stir my memory to recognize him. 

During this mostly-fruitless exercise, I thought I recalled that he was in Band of Brothers.  Don't ask me how I thought of this because I've never seen Band of Brothers, but it was the best lead I had.  I looked it up on IMDB, but there were so many cast members listed that I lost momentum before I worked my way down the whole list.  The thumbnails didn't immediately yield recognizable results, and I wasn't even really sure that he was in it after all, so I gave up that route of searching as a bad bet.

My next step was to text Becky to see if she could remember "the poor man's Paul Rudd," but a second after I sent the text, I realized it was after midnight in Ohio.  Sorry again, Beck, for being such a rude, late-night texter.  As I sat around feeling guilty for the inconsiderate lateness of the text, I finally realized that the credits for the 30 Rock ep itself would list his name among the guest stars, but I had already deleted it from the DVR.  And that's when the internet starting playing nice again.  I brought the episode up on Hulu and skipped ahead until I found the credits.  I was fully prepared to have to look up each guest star listed, but 30 Rock handily lists guest stars with their character names, so I found Eion Bailey almost immediately. 

Big satisfied sighs of relief here.  So all that was left to do was look through his filmography and feel every sort of embarrassment that I hadn't remembered what I recognized him for.  Most recently he was on the USA series Covert Affairs, which I watched last summer.  He also spent a season or so playing an intern on ER.  I felt especially stupid for not realizing that one.  And sure enough, he was in Band of Brothers, so if I'd stuck with that search method, I would have found him eventually (though his IMDB profile photo doesn't lend itself to easy recognition in the thumbnail size, in this girl's opinion).  And finally I found the movie that had sparked that conversation with Becky long ago:  Center Stage.  Once I saw that, I was amazed that I hadn't recalled in vivid detail because we love that movie.  And finally I was reminded that he did a very memorable turn as part of the hyena pack that eats the principal in Buffy.  How could I have forgotten that?

And for the record, there are multiple discussion threads on his IMDB that refer to the fact that he looks like Paul Rudd, so it's not just Becky and me.

In the end, the internet did come through for me, but it was very rocky there for a while, and I will admit that I'm still disappointed in how my life was almost ruined by the unhelpfulness of my most reliable friend.


  1. I realized that I have gotten so used to calling him 'The Poor Man's Paul Rudd' that his actual name had left my brain. Thumbs up to you for your rockin' detective work!

  2. Hey I know that dude. He spoke German on Band of Brothers!

    You should DEFINITELY see it. I'll bring to you at the retreat.

  3. Man. Just seeing that intro and hearing the music gets me all teared up. Band of Brothers is sooooo good!

  4. I love that I hardly ever watch TV other than whatever Rob's watching when I'm around, but I watched 30 Rock with her this week, so I was totally in the loop for this one. Additionally, I immediately recognized Anders as Jim Gordon from Center Stage, so even if I couldn't have given you his name, I could have saved you a lot of trouble. However, as someone who is constantly thinking about the conveniences of the internet and relying on it daily to help me answer the random questions my students ask me (ask me sometime about all the new knowledge I've acquired this way), I do understand the frustration that comes from not being able to find the information one needs. I admire your perseverance.


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