Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending The Year

A big, fat warning: This blog entry will, most likely, come off as a bit mopey and navel-gazing.

I am not overly depressed, or sad, but I did find myself this morning looking at tweets and status updates from actor/theatre friends that are excited and energized by the upcoming year. I found myself a bit resentful about it.

2009 has been, on pretty much any scale, my least successful year, as far as acting and theatre, in a very long time. There's no way to deny it. Some things were out of my hands, some things weren't. I consider auditions in my hands, because, otherwise, I'd start to get depressed and resentful about having no control over my life.

This year I was contacted about/auditioned for....

American Buffalo
A Streetcar Named Desire
The Crucible

Which are 4 of my favorite plays, ever. I didn't succeed in any case, not one. This doesn't include other shows that were just wonderful opportunities with theatres I hadn't worked with before, and held a certain cachet, such as a show at the Steppenwolf Garage space. Shows that also slipped through my fingers.

I am not angry, I hold no one responsible for these failures but myself. I'm not some whiner blubbering about how unfair it is that no one will cast me. I cannot, and have never, felt that way. I live or die on my work, my talent, and the buck stops HERE, if you get my meaning.

I did two full productions this year, The Day of Knowledge and Plans 1-8 From Outer Space. Both were wonderful experiences, and TDOK got me an invite into the Stage Left Ensemble. I'm proud of the shows, but, if I'm being honest, I didn't really accomplish anything personally, with either. Both were well within the realm of things I had done before, and the characters came fairly easily. Too easily.

I've done several readings of new works this year . Most were a very good time, but I found myself very alarmed during the process on one in particular. I felt my performance was just horrifying. I was up there, disconnected, and just acting like a goon. The entire process, and my character's (and my) place in it, was lost on me. Ninety percent of what I do on stage is based around how I see my character's usefulness to the story being told. In this particular case, I couldn't find the string, and the whole thing flew off into the ether.

That's never happened to me before.


It's scary.

I mean, I do have things on the fire that could rejuvinate me. A writing project that I also desperately want to act in. That, however, is well out of my hands, not to mention the performance rights issues involved (it's an adaptation). I'll hear something soon, and we shall see.

I look at scripts for upcoming Stage Left projects, scripts I liked a GREAT DEAL, and helped select (lest anyone think I'm bemoaning the scripts...I AM NOT), and I can't quite see myself in them. I keep waiting for something to happen that will make me excited again, and, every time I try to dip in, the tank seems empty.

Worse than that, when I do work, the tank still seems empty. I have no interest in "doing what I do" over and over again. So, if all I'm going to be able to drum up are variations on the performances I've already given, what's the point?

Within reason...I mean every actor has the tools, their physical self, their life experiences, that are theirs to work with, and everything is built from those.

I worry that not only are the opportunites drying up, but, perhaps, that I've reached the pinnacle, and it's all downhill from here. That each perfomance from here on in will be just that much less inspired than the one that came before. That the spark that allows myself, or any actor, to create life on stage, has and is dimming for me.

Anyway...there's my "woe is me" year ender. Feel free to tell me to shut the fuck up. Tune in next week when I'll have my year-end best and worst blog. That'll be more fun, I promise.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jon Stewart's excellent speech...

It's funny, and it had me in tears by the end.

The voice sync is a little off, but the emotion gets across.

Forgive the dull Sting performance.

Can't see the video, Facebook peoples? Visit the Original blog.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Honoring the Boss.

Tonight CBS will broadcast the Kennedy Center Honors, wherein Bruce Springsteen is honored by the President and his peers (not to mention John Stewart.)

Backstreets has published Dave Marsh's piece for the Kennedy Center program, hopefully, no one will mind if I share with my readers:

After Born in the U.S.A., I used to tell people who asked what it was like to know Bruce Springsteen that when he left on that tour, he was my friend who used to come over and sit on the couch and afterward, he and Clarence Clemons had become Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

This was a lie. After the tour, he was still my friend, and still sat on the couch. Other people may have thought he and the Big Man were characters out of an American fable but Bruce knew better. That is not to say that he didn’t live out, write out, act out and play out the American dream about as well as anyone ever has, even down to writing his own second act with The Rising and the records that followed it.

I've been writing about popular culture, as boy and journalist, for 40 years. In that time I've known or at least interviewed or met most of the classic rock stars. None of them has kept his persona so close to his person and, for certain, no artist I know in any medium has worked so diligently as Bruce Springsteen to keep his work personal without sacrificing what makes it universal, to at least a large swathe of his fellow world-citizens.

Bruce pulls this off because he's blessed with a singular fearlessness about being ordinary, an unsurpassed ability to turn the everyday (I was going to say "the quotidian," but he wouldn't) into drama and romance. He also possesses a native sense of stagecraft and narrative; an abiding belief in the verities of rock 'n' roll, particularly devotion to repetition and the backbeat; a subtle understanding of the minute distance between Saturday night and Sunday morning; a concrete determination to reach the lowest and the most distant people in his universe; a genius for creating musical anthems and lyrical summations; a stock of characters so deep it seems impossible that all of them aren't as real as Madame Marie; a faith in the genius of simplicity and a refusal to apologize for his own complexity.

OK, that's the art stuff. You probably want to know about the person.

A friend of mine claims that Bruce once served him the best turkey sandwich ever made. (I was there. It was really, really, really good.) Bruce also has excellent taste in, among other things, tequila, bourbon, soul and gospel music, painting and photography, dogs and musical instruments. I know him just well enough to be unsure I know him (as opposed to his work) deeply, but when the darkest deal went down for my family, he was there with all he had. Which is to say, I am quite sure he knows me.

Now that Bruce has boogalooed down Broadway and come back home with the loot, he's probably got enough money to run for Senator from New Jersey, if not for mayor of New York. But when someone asked if I thought he'd stand for office, the answer came easily: "Why would he want a job with less power and prestige than the one he’s already got?" In the history of the United States, no Senator has ever had hundreds of fans crowd into a side street, and stand all night long beneath a hotel balcony to serenade him with his own songs, which is what happens when Bruce plays Barcelona.

I don't think of Bruce as very political, despite his involvement in the last couple of Presidential campaigns. He's really a moral actor, a person of strong convictions whose basic life experiences, starting with an economically insecure childhood and then a struggle through the ranks of professional musicianship along the Jersey store (OK, it was more a rocket ride than a struggle, but he still didn't get paid much). His root allegiances, as derived from his songs because they are the most trustworthy source, are to people endangered, erased or forgotten—Vietnam vets, the homeless, the unemployed, single mothers, unwanted immigrants, the broke, the hungry, the uprooted, and those who travel the turnpike with broken radios.

Bruce Springsteen may someday be known as a first-rate photographer, a slapdash but hilarious cartoonist, one of the consummate rock 'n' roll guitar players and, for that matter, as one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers ever. He already is all those things, it’s just a matter of the world figuring it out.

He is as private as any public figure of our time. I don’t mean private as in secluded or hidden. He doesn't just still own a house in central New Jersey, where he grew up. He actually lives there: Walks down the sidewalk with his kids, shops in the stores with his wife, parks on the street, hits the beach and the gym as often as time will allow, these days even does some important recording (his version of work) there. Not that nothing’s changed: I bet he doesn't get as many speeding tickets as in the old days.

Let's see, what have I left out. Ah yes: Love.

Love is Bruce Springsteen's center, the one tour sponsor he's ever acknowledged, the thing he wanted to know at the beginning (and yes, he tells us, it is real).

I'm not talking about Bruce as co-crafter of a long-term marriage with a fellow artist or as the very active father of three terrific kids. Once he got going he made doing that stuff look a lot easier than it is. More to tonight's point, Bruce is the wizard of nurturing an audience toward community.

It's impossible to overestimate how much he has given the people who share his musical life, the tramps like us, the ones who had a notion, the people working on their dreams and counting on a miracle. On stage, he lets those folks get close, basks in their adoration and then he pours it right back out to them. More important, he trusts them to share it, with each other and with strangers. That’s really what his nightly talk about this city's food bank or that town’s shelter for battered women is about.

Bruce Springsteen is, like Woody Guthrie and damned few others, a democrat in spirit and in practice, and he challenges all of his listeners to be and to do the same.

His train that's bound for glory carries saints and sinners, losers and winners, whores and gamblers, fools and kings, the brokenhearted, thieves and souls departed. His train is not destined for a metal-flake city on a hill; it comes from down in the valley and while it doesn’t intend to stay there, it doesn’t mean to forget it, either.

He set out to change himself and he wound up, in a hundred little ways and a couple of big ones, changing the world or our perceptions of it, which is pretty much the same thing. In the process, he has not remained the same person—because that would be a colossal failure—but he has become something like the guy he wanted to be. He has walked tall, finding poetry in guys wearing tube socks and women at checkout stands, has truly rocked all over the world and found the rock 'n' roll heart of Ellis Island. He's made us proud of our nation when we should have been and left us ashamed of its behavior when that needed to be said.

Let me end with the way I feel about him, as a friend and as an artist, and let me say it directly: Bruce is the brother I would like to have, and more than that, he is the sort of person whose brother I would like to be worthy of being.
—Dave Marsh

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holy I can't quite believe christmas is over....

Well, we're back, and it's been a crazy day.

Can't see the video? Try the original blog post.

I took an extra day off for this coming weekend, but...I find myself wishing I'd done it today.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seven minutes to go...


Who knows if the phones will actually turn off when they're supposed to?

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I had no idea this was even out already....

Looking at this article.

I gotta say, I love these games, they have serious replay value for me. I can put in Rock Band 2 and play "Livin' on a Prayer" anytime. It's just FUN. Fun in a very different way than actually playing the guitar. In that, I really don't care if I suck or screw up badly on Rock Band or Guitar Hero, when I'm "really" playing there's certain expectations and levels I hold myself to.

I'm usually working on some song, recording, and I get frustrated when I can't get a section right, or, worse, when what I'm coming up with isn't very interesting.

What's interesting to me, and I stand by this opinion, playing these games is MORE DIFFICULT that playing the actual guitar. Go figure.

It is interesting to hear that sales are not exactly at the expected levels. Then again, I read stuff like this:

"Guitar Hero 5 did move half a million copies in its first month, despite outcries over a Kurt Cobain avatar being able to perform other artists' songs."

...and I want to hit someone. WHO CARES?!!? It's a video game, and when you license the image of someone, the whole idea is to play the game as that person. Sure, it's kind of a chuckle to see Kurt Cobain singing Bon Jovi, but come on...

New Comics 12.23.2009

Ahh, the Christmas week Wednesday release.

Detective Comics #860

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III
co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams III
Variant cover by Alex Ross

I've become rather taken with the new Batwoman character, and, certainly, Rucka and Williams are running hot on this book right now. The art is beautiful, and the story is snappy. When they first introduced this character, the whole push seemed to be about the fact that our new Batwoman was a lesbian. That was hardly interesting, to me. However, Rucka has proved adept at letting that fact be prevalent while not taking over the story. Excellent run.

Gotham City Sirens #7

Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March

This will, likely, be my last issue of this title. Unless this issue blows me away, I'll be dropping the book. Pretty much unheardof for me to drop a book written by Paul Dini, but this series just leaves me cold. I love Harley Quinn and Catwoman, Poison Ivy can certainly be used in interesting ways, but I don't think it's ever gelled. The art isn't even hitting me enough to keep it for the cheesecake factor.

Green Lantern #49

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ed Benes
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari

Darkest Night rolls on and on. The strands are there, and holding, but, on a whole, The Sinestro Corps War is going to be Geoff Johns' all-time great Green Lantern story, and Darkest Night will be the also-ran. That's not to say it's BAD, because it's not. I'm certainly involved and want to see the end. I guess I just expected more.

Captain America Reborn:

Who Will Wield the Shield #1

COVER BY: Gerald Parel
WRITER: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Butch Guice
INKS: Array

OK, so....Captain America Reborn is plowing along. I'm sure this one-shot will get pulled for me, and I'll probably just buy it. However....Who are they kidding? When Steve Rogers is back from the dead, he'll be Captain America. Steve Rogers IS Captain America, former sidekick Bucky Barnes is filling in, generating some decent stories, but if Steve is back to life and NOT Captain Ameirca, I'm done with this series, and probably the entirety of the mainstream Marvel line.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Y'know how I said it was sometimes painful to be a Harrison Ford fan?

Here we go again.

Facebook? Can't see? Go to the actual blog.

I'm gonna say this. I love Harrison, to death, and his past work will always keep him at the top of my "favorite actors" list. Maybe this will be good. I WANT it to be good, but, looks like yet another "stiff upper lip" performance, with the emphasis on stiff. Not to mention Brendan Frasier, who was REALLY good for a shining moment in Gods and Monsters and then seemed to just..fade.

I do have a ton of hope for the out-and-out comedy he's doing with J.J. Abrams, Morning Glory, as I think Abrams and team will wring some energy out of him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Week.

Actually a busy day at work. A bit stressful.

I am really dying for this week to be over, and I usually don't get too wrapped up in the "Christmas thing." I just need to decompress, and it hasn't been happening lately. I'm hoping that it'll happen over the next couple of weekends.

after some false starts, it looks like my theatre company will be having a New Years Eve shindig, so that's cool. we rarely have anyplace to go for NYE.

I did see both Avatar and Up in the Air over the weekend. You can see my reviews here and here, respectively.

I'm really shot today, so I have very little to report.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Set for Pandora

So, tonight I'm seeing James Cameron's Avatar, catching a 3-D (but not IMAX) screening at 10:00.

I am excited, but also hesitant to allow myself to get too wrapped up in the whole deal. Critics I respect have raved, and others have really trashed it.

(spoiler warning BIG TIME for that second link)

Then there's this.

We shall see.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Runaways...

I have a fondness for early-80's "jailbait rock" band The Runaways.

Sue me.

I am kinda impressed with how much Kristen Stewart (who I actually like, that Twilight crap not withstanding...Adventureland has a lot of great performances, including hers) looks like Joan Jett in this.

Facebook people...can't see the video? Why not visit the actual blog?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down...

And today is both.

The weekend ended up being quite long. I got a lot done on Saturday, so I can't complain, but Sunday ended up sucking the life out of me. It was a long, stressful, emotional day, and I was pretty glad to see it all over.

Of's the Holidays! "Stressful" and "emotional' are part and parcel.

Also, talking with some friends about the end of Joss Whedon's latest attempt at television, Dollhouse. I actually put together an e-mail that pretty clearly summed up how I feel about Joss, so I thought I might share a re-edited version;

Can we just come to the understanding that Joss Whedon is not a mainstream talent? The general public does not care for his material, he's had plenty of opportunities to prove that they could be enticed to his work, and truly succeeded only once...with Buffy, which managed to tap into the "90210 mindset" (which, I'd wager was the main draw with your "civilian" viewer) while also playing with a deeper pool.

Angel...limped to an early end.

Firefly...(which I love with a white-hot fire) didn't register with the general public at all.

Serenity....see above.

Dr. Horrible...a hit, but in micro terms.

Dollhouse....See Angel.

His audience is rabid, but it's much, much smaller than anyone wants to admit. I have to be honest here, never watched Dollhouse, never wanted to, it didn't spark me, in concept, visuals, or the people involved. I actively HATE every bit of Buffy I've ever been exposed to. Angel...didn't care because of the Buffy connections. Ken had to FORCE Firefly on me...Dr. Horrible does gangbusters in a market where 1/1,000 of a television audience is considered pretty amazing.

Firefly does awesome on DVD, or did...but how much of that was Browncoats buying it, over and over, for people they knew? How many people actually watched, and additionally liked the thing? CByrd and I gave that set out A LOT, and had good luck, but I read people on line who gave the set to EVERYONE they knew, no matter if they had a remote interest, or not. I mean, these are the same people buying out entire movie theatres to give away tickets....And this is the Whedon property that I, personally, think is most accessable. Certainly the characters are.

I can say this...

Every damn time I watch a Buffy episode, I get this "oh, you REALLLY think you're so clever" response, and it turns me off to the entire product.

Firefly worked for me because the cast sold that stuff FAR better. Even at that, I've watched people stare blankly at it and wonder what the hell I made them watch this.

I certainly don't believe him to be a hack, or anything, but I just find it funny that everyone always expects the next show/movie/whatever to be THE THING that's going to really take off. Certainly, anyone who created the crew of Serenity has my ever-lasting gratitude and respect as a talent. Still, it's becoming a bit of a "abusive relationship" type of thing. The same set-up, and we keep expecting different results.

I wish you well, Joss, like I said giving me 16 hours of Mal Reynolds and crew buys you a second glance at anything you ever come up with. I'm just sorry Dollhouse didn't pull me in either.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ending the slacker week....

So, I missed a bunch of blogging days this week...

I dunno, work was busy, and I had a bunch of scripts to read for Stage Left. Time just ran away. So, I'm going to try to catch up here.


A mercifully thin week, in fact only one new title.

Red Robin #7

Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Marcus To and Dexter Vines
Cover by Marcus To and Ray McCarthy

Since Red Robin is all by it's lonesome this week, I can gush. This title has really gotten strong over the 7 issues of it's run. I think of Flash:Rebirth, which, while not BAD (I think Geoff Johns can't write a BAD comic), has steadily caused me to lose interest. Me! A long-time Flash-fan! What Yost has done here is build a long-term storyline, seemingly essential in our "write for the trade" culture, while having each issue feel full and worthwhile on it's own. It's been a real "come from behind" run for this title, and it's passed up other Bat-books. Books written by masters like Paul Dini, no less.

Outside of the comics...

Sunday is our selection meeting for Leapfest '09 New Play Festival. I was lucky enough to have quite a few scripts I had read, and liked, in earlier rounds make it into the final round. So, I didn't have a TON to read, but enough that I've had to make a concerted effort to put time in the schedule to get it done. I finished the last play today, and I've got a personal list of my "I really want them in," "I'm not wild about them, but I'd have no qualms with their selection," and "I can't understand why I had to read them" plays. I feel ready to go into Sunday's meeting and assert my informed opinion.

So, I feel I have done my duty as a member of this ensemble.

Busy weekend ahead...(again).

I have a callback tomorrow for The Wreck of the Medusa with The Plaigerists. They're a good group of folks, and this is the first time I've gotten a chance to audition for them. On top of that, Bro-in-law Ian is one of the playwrites on this little opus. We shall see.

Sunday is the aforementioned selection meeting, then rehearsal for a reading of Future Anxiety by Laurel Haines. The reading goes up next Wednesday at the Stage Left space. It's a fun little show, and I think Laurel has some great ideas. You ought to come out, if you have the chance.

So, anyway...that wraps up this week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mark's listening post 12.8.2009

Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures

Ok, I've whined and wailed over this album for a long time, bemoaning it's lengthy process to get into my hot little hands. I was excited about the album, and I had considered just downloading it, but I decided that I wanted the disk, the booklet, and all the materials. So, I opted to order it and have it sent to me.

Well, we all know how that turned out. It got here eventually, and that's the end of that.

It was well worth the wait. This is truly a fantastic album. I almost wrote "classic," but that's really something only time can tell. Without a doubt it's the best "supergroup" record released this year, there were a lot of them, and they were good projects, Chickenfoot, Tinted Windows, etc.

The victory comes in the fact that it seems the sensibilities of all the players were exactly in line here, there seems to have been more of a point to the group than "get together and have a blast making music together. That seems to have been the only reason for the Chickenfoot record, and I love it, but it lacks the weight of Them Crooked Vultures.

The blueprint for the sound certainly feel like it would be, not Led Zeppelin, despite John Paul Jones presence, but Cream. In fact, on "Scumbag Blues," Josh Homme's vocals sound astonishingly like Jack Bruce. The wild jam-band feel, with concise and powerful songs, the pounding rythum section, etc. Frankly, Homme's guitar skills don't rival Clapton, but he fits in the pocket very well.

The three guys, as a whole, just play well together. I mean, sure, these are pros with decades of playing in the spotlight, and they could probably "fit in" with any number of groups. That being said, it really feels like something was clicking here. It's just cool to see these guys mix it up and seem to really be getting off playing together.

Highly reccommended.

Top tracks:
(Really, I'm digging every track, I'll put too many on this list, but these really snap.)

- Mind Eraser, No Chaser

- New Fang
- Dead End Friends
- Elephants
- Bandoliers
- Caligulove
- Gunman

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday. Snow, and....Self-reflection...

Been kinda off-schedule with the blog the last few days. Busy, mostly. That, and just didn't feel like I had much to write. There's a Them Crooked Vultures review percolating, but it's just not ready yet.

Quick opinion? Unchanged, it's my favorite album of the year. I've actually been forcing myself not to listen to it all the time, so as to not burn out.

I'm blaming CByrd for the snow. She put up the Christmas decorations last night, and this morning...snow. Coincidence? I think not!

I managed to work on some music over the weekend, but wound up more frustrated than anything. It's my old "it's too simple" response coming up. I had a drum track I had worked out months ago, and really wanted to use for something. More of a dance kinda beat, just to be different.

Yeah, I know, different for the sake of being different isn't the best way to attack things, but I still feel so fucking trapped by the damn drum machine. I feel like I have to jump to patterns that are way outside of my usual in order to force myself to adapt and try something different. It works, kinda, but I tend to fall to much simpler progressions and riffs in those situations.

And, yeah, in my head, I think "so what? Simpler can be fun and good." That's true, I know it, but there's that part of me that feels like I have something to prove. That I need to be as complex as I possibly can be all the time, to impress my musician friends.

I kinda laugh inside when I hear people tell me how confident and sure of myself I appear to be. It's such a sham. I mean, really.

Sure, I'm far more confident in some areas than others. I rarely feel "stuck" in any area of theatre anymore. I know my shit. I may not always be right, but I have valid opinions, and I know it. So, y'know, I'm not afraid to speak my mind.

So, so many other areas of my life, however, ride on the razor's edge of my feeling like I'm just about to fly off the rails and into the inky blackness that hangs out there waiting for us to lose our path. The fact I'm just out here making shit up is obvious to me. I'm painfully, bluntly aware that I have little idea what the hell I'm doing.

...But one soldiers on. I'm 38, and a long time on this path for my life. There's no escape hatch, at this point, I can only hold on and ride it out. I just wish I could see the path a little more clearly right at the moment.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Comic Day 12.2.2009

Pretty light week...thank God, because last week was huge.

Blackest Night: The Flash #1 (of 3)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Scott Kolins
Variant cover by Francis Manapul

Ahh...Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins back on The Flash. I have a gut feeling this is going to outshine Flash:Rebirth.

Jonah Hex #50

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art and Covers by Darwyn Cooke

I so love this series, and I'm dead-excited to have Darwyn Cooke back on the art.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #5

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
INKS: David Lafuente Garcia
COLORED BY: Justin Ponsor
LETTERED BY: VC - Cory Petit

The ONLY Spider-Man book worth reading. I'm dead serious on that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mark's Bookshelf 12.1.2009

Finished up Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales by Clarence Clemons and Don Reo just before the Thanksgiving trip.

Most definitely a fun book, and an interesting look into what it's really like for the Big Man to tour. The answer involves far more pain and dedication than I ever suspected. For example, Clarence spent every moment when not on stage for the E-Street Band Super Bowl appearance in a wheelchair. When Bruce told him he could sit down after a wide shot during "Born To Run," Clarence replies, "I won't sit down."

Don Reo is the co-writer in a very transparent way. Chapters are headed with which man actually wrote them. Don gives his impressions as an outsider on the inside, and what it's really like to be a friend of the Big Man. Clarence, of course, speaks from the inside. This allows the book to become more than a simple artist's memoir, and you really feel like you're getting a pretty well-rounded view of the life.

What it's not is any sort of tell-all book. Clarence is honest about his own past and drug use, for example, but never implicates Springsteen. In fact, he says he and Danny Federici had to hide their pot smoking from Bruce. He also expends not one word on Springsteen's personal life, and little about his own, other than that he is still friendly with all 5 ex-wives, and loves his children.

There are some strange digressions. Sections called "legends" are scattered in the book, offset by the pages being a light gray. In these sections we get "tall tales" of Clemons' life. There are short sections that introduce each tale, and comment on the likelihood of their reality. In most cases, it's pretty much just off-the-wall myth-making, but, by copping to this, I forgave it. Plus, many of the tales are truly entertaining. (I especially liked the "Bruce and C in wierd locations" stories, but then...I'm me.)

The ultimate feeling you get from this book is the deep love Clarence has for what he does, and how much it means to him to never miss a show, no matter how much pain he's in. (And, I remember the early days of the Magic tour....the Big Man looked like he was just about on his last legs.) Also apparent is his great, great love for the Boss. He still listens to Springsteen's records, and marvels at the songwriting.

In Reo's sections, he muses over how long Clemons can keep up this sort of touring schedule, but Clarence never even mentions it. I don't think it even crosses his mind to step down from his place with the band. It's clear he loves it too much, and the joyus look on his face at recent shows I've seen make it abundantly clear.

Reccommended if you find the subject at all interesting.

Monday, November 30, 2009

And lo, the Monday after the feast.

Well, here we sit on Monday November 30th....

The trip to Omaha was pretty uneventful. I got to see Ken, and take in his show Christmas in New England. We spent time with the Byrd family, and all was pretty well.

I still have yet to see my order from Amazon, but apparently a replacement is on the way. That's at least settled, though I am still not happy with the amount of time I could've been enjoying the movie and CD that is now past...I know it's all very silly, I really do, but these two items were things I was really looking forward to immersing myself in, and the wait has been really difficult.

So, for all of you out there who've been thinking it...You're right, I am ridiculous, but I have ever right in the world to be ridiculous, thank you very much.

The lack of success in my auditions is still weighing on me. Totally hypocritical, based on the philosophies I have espoused on this blog, but God damn...This last one hit me hard. I'm not quite sure how to process it, yet. Sure, I know, rationally, that there will be other opportunities, and I knew that this was an audition for a tight-knit ensemble. So, the ultimate resolution should not be such a downer, or a surprise.

But it is.

But we soldier on, right?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Comic Day from Hell 11.25.2009

Huge week, and I won't be able to pick it up until next Wednesday, most likely.


Frankly, I am in a really poor mood today, and I really don't have much of anything to say about these books. I'll buy them, I'll read them.

Blackest Night #5 (of 8)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Rodolfo Migliari
Sketch variant cover by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert

Detective Comics #859

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III
Co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams III
Variant cover by Jock

Gotham City Sirens #6

Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March

Green Lantern #48

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy
Variant cover by Rags Morales

Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 (of 7)

Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mauro Cascioli

Justice League of America #39

Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mark Bagley

Superman: Secret Origin #3 (of 6)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank and Jon Sibal
Covers by Gary Frank

Ultimate comics Avengers #4

COVER BY: Carlos Pacheco
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Carlos Pacheco
INKS: Dexter Vines
COLORED BY: Justin Ponsor
LETTERED BY: VC - Cory Petit

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I think I've found my flow...

It's happening.

Dreary week...

So, my weekend was hardly "relaxing." It was packed full of commitments and tasks to be checked off.

Saturday from 9-2, I had a callback. It was a long day of auditioning. Compounded by the fact that I really wanted this show and this role. I've had a pretty long "dry-spell" audition-wise, at least for me. (Side note - I am 100% aware that I have been VERY lucky here in Chicago, and really have no room to complain about a 6-9 month period wherein I was not getting cast.) So, I went into this callback very much wanting to perform well.

Not the best way to approach an audition, as I've said in other blogs.

I still very much feel that you have to be able to let each audition go, pretty much immediately after you walk out, and accept a "what will be, will be," attitude. It's the only way to keep sane and stop torturing yourself over "failures" in the audition room. That being said, we're all human, and there's always "those shows," that you feel more than others. Shows that you, flat out, just want to have a shot at.

Well, this show on was one of those shows for me.

I still am in the dark. Waiting. I've worked with this director before, and he's always been quite good about letting me know, "sorry, next time," if need be. Still, it's hard. I'm almost to the point where I can say, "if it was yes, I'd have heard."

But not yet. I'm still holding some hope.

After the audition, we had a lovely meal at Wishbone, and then off to the Auditorium Theatre for the John Fogerty show. Great show, high energy, and, by God, that man's voice is better preserved than any singer I can think of. He still sounds EXACTLY like the records. He also has the most amazing hair,, Ronald Regan black hair. The man has to be sixty-five, at least, I wonder if his preserved voice and hair are connected?

I do have to say, I'm certain I'm spoiled by Springsteen, but an "evening with" show that only runs 1:45 seems a little slight. On a certain level I understand it, because those CCR tunes, well, none of them is over 3 minutes long, but...I dunno. He played nothing off Blue Moon Swamp or Revival, which is a damn shame. You could easily mine another 3o minutes out of those two excellent albums. Other than that I was extremely happy with the setlist;



Fogerty seemed in very good spirits and really seemed to be having a great time with the crowd. I did wish we could've been a little closer in, but don't you always? The band was fantastic, especially fiddle/guitar/bongo/mandolin player Jason Mowery. Just a fantastic time, I would totally see him again.

Sunday consisted of a whole day at Stage Left. Rehearsal for a reading in the AM, then back for rehearsal for our winter show Here Where It's Safe by M.E.H. Lewis, and directed by Scott Bishop. I've agreed to assistant direct the show, so I'm excited about that. Ought to be fun to have some hand in my company's only full production this year.

I also spent some time going over a script, and writing a short, quick directing proposal for it, for another company. That's in for their consideration, so we shall see. That would be, primarily, a summer project.

Shane is still on a burner, somewhere...waiting.

The week starts with me insanely frustrated with Amazon. My Them Crooked Vultures CD and Star Trek Blu-Ray have still not arrived.

Sloooooow Burrrrrn....


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Comic Day 11.18.2009

Middling week, I guess I'd have to call it. Excited to see Flash: Rebirth get rolling again.

Dr. Horrible (One-Shot)

Writer: Zack Whedon
Penciller: Joelle Jones
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Kristian Donaldson

OK, how cool is that? And, remember....the hammer is his penis.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #6

Written by Chris Yost
Co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
Co-feature art by Jeremy Haunn
Cover by Dustin Nguyen

Total truth...this story has done absolutely nothing for me. Dini is the draw here, can't wait until he's back.

The Brave and the Bold #29

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art and cover by Jesus Saiz

You had me at "Brother Power The Geek." I really hope Straczynski doesn't screw this up, because some of those bizarre DC Comics 60's/70's creations need some love. How about "Prez" next?

The Flash; Rebirth #5 (of 6)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Ethan Van Sciver

Ok, excited to get back into this, but, that being said, the delays on this title have only pointed out that it's kind of irrelevant. This does not feel like a Flash story that "needed" to be told, especially not as a premium-priced special-event mini-series. It's a GOOD flash story, don't get me wrong, this could EASILY have been the first arc in a new Flash ongoing, and I'd have been very happy. It was clearly modled on the Green Lantern: Rebirth series, with the same creative team, even, but that level of retcon was not needed. Barry Allen was back as Flash, Grant Morrison took care of that in Final Crisis. We didn't really need any more.

The Stand: Soul Surviviors #2 (of 5)

COVER BY: Lee Bermejo
WRITER: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
PENCILS: Mike Perkins
INKS: Mike Perkins
COLORED BY: Laura Martin
LETTERED BY: VC - Rus Wooton

So, the Marvel adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand continues. You either love this story, or don't. I do. I think it's the best thing King's ever done. The best thing I can say about this series, or set of series, as it were, is that they are getting the story right.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back fromt he weekend, and I touch greatness.

So, saw Springsteen on Sunday. For the first time, got close enough to touch him.

Twice right before this moment, during "Hungry Heart"...I helped catch him when the crowd surf began, and moments before that I touched his foot. Then at the end of the show, during "Higher and Higher," I got a good arm/back pat, and a fist bump from Soozie Tyrell (fiddle). CByrd got a good, solid pat on the back, and a nice bit of "Boss sweat."

I was sticking my hand up there, valiantly, praying that he would just take my hand for a second. Justa moment when he might acknowledge me for a second. Alas, I didn't get lucky. There was a very nice couple on the other side of the rail from us (we made it into the pit, again - three for three - lucky us! They were on the regular GA side), who got a kiss on the hand, and was wiping away tears after. I gave her a big thumbs up, she was so happy.

The show itself turned out to be quite powerful. I've been on record as being a bit disappointed that the album-in-full that evening was to be Born to Run, simply because I'd already seen that at the United Center in Chicago in Spetember. That being's quite different being in the pit, compared to the rafters.

Oh, and lady in the 100 level on the stage right side, with the "Jungleland" request sign...I just....**shakes head** ....When they say they're playing the "whole album," that means all the songs on that album. Just FYI.

Born to Run, as a whole, was, of course, amazing, but we also got a ton of rarities in the request section. Seeing "Living Proof" come off the shelf, for a man in the pit who'd had his fist son 2 weeks prior, was worth everything. Especailly when the band simply did not know it, being from that "other band" period of the early 90's. I truly hope that this might encourage Bruce to revisit some of theose Human Touch and Lucky Town tracks...there's some fantastic songs in there.

I can't say I ever really wanted to hear "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," and was a little annoyed by all the signs for it. I'm with Bruce, it's "too early," but he played it anyway, and it was fun. Another one I can check off the "seen it live" list. The Christmas tree sign he brought up during the song was downright impressive. Five feet tall with battery-operated lights.

"Jole Blon," "Loose Ends," and, my favorite Bruce song ever, "Growin' Up," were all amazing. The show was so high-energy after Born to Run wrapped up, it was kinda hard to keep up. My throat still hurts today from screaming and singing along. There was all sorts of fun on display, several jokes about where we were, in refrence to his faux pas in Michigan...

"Hello Ohio! Aw, I'm just fucking with ya!"

"Don't worry, I'm on my meds tonight!"

"Kitty's Back" was amazing, but, if you ask me, went on a little long.

During "Dancing in the Dark," the usual dance partner request signs went up...but one caught Bruce's eye...asking for a dance with Little Steven Van Zant. Stevie begged off, but Bruce was leaving no chance to embarass the band unturned...and what followed was a pretty painful example of Stevie's lack of dancing skill. He didn't really dance WITH her, more like kind of in the same area...LOL. I've never seen a more horrifying "mashed potato" in my life. Love ya, Little Steven!

"Higher and Higher" was a tremendous way to wrap up the show and gave a real spotlight to backup singers Cindy Mizelle and Curtis King.

The show ran about three hours fifteen, which, I think, makes it the longest Springsteen show for myself, personally. Bruce was on fire, and I thing the impending end of the tour (4 to go), and break from the E-Streeters for, I'm betting, a year at least, was driving him to send this tour off on a powerful note, and he did it.

Cadillac Ranch
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Curt Ramm on trumpet)
Born to Run
She's the One
Meeting Across the River (with Curt Ramm)
Darlington County
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Loose Ends
Jole Blon
Growin' Up
Into the Fire
The Rising
No Surrender
* * *
Living Proof
Kitty's Back (with Curt Ramm)
American Land (with Curt Ramm)

Dancing in the Dark
Rosalita (with Curt Ramm)
Higher and Higher (with Curt Ramm)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday's been rough.

This has been a dark day for me. Honestly, it's been a string of dark days. The sun is setting earlier, and it sucks to look out the window at 4:30 to...night. I've also been out of the house a lot. Lots of evening commitments. So, tonight is the only night this week I can go home and relax. Tomorrow I have a rehearsal for a reading, Saturday, said reading goes up, and immediately after I go to another rehearsal. Sunday, of course brings another shot of the Boss' love...

I has so hoped that the weather would hold for Sunday. We have General Admission tickets, so a lot of waiting in line is on the menu. That's, of course the day when showers are in the forecast. So, we shall see. It could've been a LOT worse, I suppose, I mean it is mid-November, we could be knee-deep in snow.

Plus, I HATE having a big coat if I'm on the floor at a show. So, I try to dress as lightly as possible. Bad news at the Metallica show last January, when I ended up quite sick after. There's a joy in being able to take public transport to concerts easily, but you also miss that ability to just jump in the car to warm up, y'know?

So, anyway...I don't know what's eating at me. I'm just kind of in a "sick of it all" funk. the sort of thing that comes and it goes, I guess. I feel like playing the guitar tonight, but, with it being my only night home, I feel bad just retreating into the office.

I do feel like I've got a sound in my head now that I can really run with. It's definitely hard rock, metal even, but a little muddy, not as sharp-edged. In preparation of the Them Crooked Vultures release, I've been listening to a lot of Kyuss, and I think it's rubbing off on me. "Stoner Metal" was the term, I guess.

My friend Tom B. introduced me to Kyuss a few years ago. He put a song or two on a disk with the Probot album. I thought that song, "50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)," was pretty damn cool, but didn't really click with the band until I heard "Demon Cleaner" on the Metallica: Guitar Hero video game. (So I guess there is something to be said for those games introducing new music to people.)

So,'s a dark Thursday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hey, hey, new comic day!! 11.11.2009

So, here I am trying to get back on schedule with this here blog...

This week is pretty heavy for DC, but no Marvel books. I'll call it a "medium" week, if for nothing else than the fact that all but one of the books is in the $2.99 price point.

Here we go...

Batman #693

Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea
Cover by Tony Daniel

Here's my problem with Tony Daniel. He's a solid, workmanlike, not particularly interesting writer. When so many writers working on the Bat-books are pushing boundaries and taking chances, he feels a bit...stuck in the mud. When Morrison is over in Batman and Robin writing AMAZING stuff, well....

Batman and Robin #6

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion
Cover by Frank Quitely
Variant cover by Philip Tan

Speaking of which. This book is so good, so much fun. I love Morrison's work on Dick and Damian, and their evolving partnership. It's so different from the way Bruce worked with any of the Robins. It's really the best example of how this "Batman Reborn" arc can really be fun. Morrison has thrown off all the details, resetting with Dick Grayson's personality, but left the core values of Batman intact. It's allowed him to play liberally with that Silver Age (that Morrison loves so much), lighter Batman personality, and not violate all the work that has been done on making Bruce Wayne so iconic.

Batman/Doc Savage Special #1

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Phil Noto
Sketchbook material and variant cover by Rags Morales
Cover by JG Jones

Ah, DC takes another stab at the pulp heroes. I love Dac Savage and The Shadow, and I'll always take a shot at new incarnations of them. Azzarello is hit-or-miss for me, but I have a gut feeling he's the right guy for this. We shall see.

Red Robin #6

Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Marcus To
Cover by Marcus To and Ray McCarthy

This is already at issue #6? Holy Cow. I have to say, this series kicked into overdrive last issue. Tim teaming with Ra's Al Guhl against some sort of odd South American Spider-Assassin guild? This book is kicking butt, but I fear most people already jumped off the boat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes you get tired...

And decide to take a day off the blog.

Then you turn around and the day has become a week. What the hell happened?

I really couldn't tell you, in all honesty. I just found myself without much burning desire to share anything. There was things to share...New comic Wednesday came and went...

Here's what I got without comment:

Jonah Hex #49

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art and cover by Cristiano Cucina

Captain America: Reborn #4

COVER BY: Joe Kubert
WRITER: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Butch Guice & Bryan Hitch

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
INKS: David Lafuente Garcia
COLORED BY: Justin Ponsor
LETTERED BY: VC - Cory Petit

Light week. really light, and more Marvel than DC, for once.

Got to work on some music over the weekend, and for the first time in a long while, I got invigorated by it. I finished a track and was very happy with how it all turned out. It's part of a new project, a new concept and way of going about this music thing. I'm trying to not worry about how people will take it, and just write stuff I like.

That's a simple enough idea, y'know, but I have friends who are truly talented musicians. People who are creative and can pretty much see right through my bullshit and, frankly, cut me to the quick with criticism. I am a limited musician. I'm not going to be doing long free-form jazz work. It's not in me. I'm not a technical monster n the guitar, I'm not going to be doing insanely fast, complicated runs up and down the neck.

I like rhythm. I like to hear the drums and bass and guitar play off each other. To hear the instruments lock in time and weave together. The unfortunate thing is, without a live drummer, that's hard to do. It's also hard to do without everyone playing at once...

Hard to do when you're just one guy. LOL!

So, in a way, I'm trying to remove myself from the songs I'm playing with now. There's a concept in play, and it's really about me embracing the fact that, at the core, this is all a joke. That's not to say that I don't try to do as good a job as I can, or that I feel I can just suck. It means...I'm a nearing-middle-age-guy with a limited ability to record in a multi-track enviroment, and I'm using that to be creative in my own way. I'm not going to take music by storm, or even be heard by anyone outside of my friends.

(Although, that's the worst group to hand a CD, that you know is not great, to.)

I wrote a blog a while back in which my opinion was that this digital revolution really wasn't making music, or any art form "better." That, in fact, having all these people like me who were releasing material just because they could, and not because they deserved to, was watering the whole art form down. So, here I sit, with a pretty strong opinion that I'm not doing anything but being selfish and stroking my ego.

Of course, as I've also said...being egotistical is pretty close to the heart of being an artist.

God, I don't know. This whole music thing, it tears me up every time I work on it, if for no other reason but that I cannot seem to record what's in my head. I certainly can't sing what's in my head, and!


Hey! positive news...The entire Them Crooked Vultures CD can be heard over at YouTube:

Them Crooked Vultures

Just put it on auto-play, and you're off. So awesome!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday's thing...

Let's see....

I was off the grid for most of the weekend, and Friday, due to a surgical procedure for CByrd. All is well, and we're doing pretty well on the recovery.

**knocking on wood**

Yesterday, well, was a bit busy at work. So, I didn't make the 5-10 minutes to bang out a blog. No big deal, I know nobody's hanging on the edge of their seat for them.

My back picked yesterday to go on strike again. I'm stiff as all hell, and just wish to God I could pop the damn thing. It's something that comes and goes with me, I'll have "episodes" once or twice a year, with a few days of discomfort. Sometimes not too bad, sometimes worse. Guess it comes with the years, and the mileage. LOL!

Tonight is the Stage Left Gala/Roast of Kevin Heckman. I know a fun time will be had by all, Stage Left is a good group of people, and worthy of your support. Yeah, I know, asking me to become a part of the Ensemble is a lapse on their part, but don't judge them harshly. ;)

Anyway...Otherwise, I'm tired from the weekend, and wrapping up Plans 1-8 From Outer Space. I was happy to do the show, but, man...late-night shows kick my ass. Sean H did a fantastic job writing and directing, and I love that cast. We all had a great time, I think, and they are all superior people. Superior performers, too.

I did manage to get all the tracking done on a new song this weekend. It even worked with the lyrics I had written. (I was amazed, that hardly ever works out.) I probably need to re-track the guitar solo, and then do the vocals, then I can really dig into the other "in progress" track. I've got no theatre work coming up for a while, except for some readings and things like that. I hope I can put my back into the music for a while and get something done. It's been too long.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mark's Bookshelf 10.29.2009

I love, love, love Michael Chabon. Ever since I reached the final page of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and immediately turned back to page one to read it again. The book just spoke to me in a way that no other novel ever had, at least since I read Fahrenheit 451 in High School, and that was my favorite book of all time...

Until Michael Chabon entered my life.

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son
By Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon and I share a lotof touchstones in life. We both have deep-seated love for Comic Books, Heroic Ficton and other "junk art," as some would label it. When I read his work, he touches on things like, say, the work of Jack Kirby, that I immediately understand, and can go with him on.

I truly feel, especially when reading one of Chabon's essay books, such as this one, that reading his work is like sitting down with an old friend to talk about things we both love. Not to say that all of Chabon's essays are fanboy musings, far from it. In particular, here, he spends a lot of time talking about his role as a father, and I, as yet, have not crossed that bridge. What I mean is that he wraps those experiences in the mind of a man who knows the things I know.

Take, for example, the essay "The Amateur Family," where he relates the bonding his family does over the Brittish series Doctor Who. It made me laugh and cry to hear how he and his children enthused over the series that my wife and I love, as well. It's Chabon's joyus glee in embracing his geekdom, or nerdiness, or whatever you want to call it, that binds me to him.

He touches on some many elements of, well, "manhood" is a great way to put it, because it's not just about being a father, or a son, or a husband, but all of that wrapped together. It felt like a touchstone book for me, one I will come back to as I pass the moments he relates. I'm almost 100% certain that, if I ever have a child, I will re-read the multiple sections on fatherhood, as Chabon seems to have reached a place where I think we all wish fatherhood would always reside. Honesty with a dash of protection.

If nothing else Michael Chabon is a beautiful writer, adn I am constantly amazed by his ability to switch genres and styles without losing his own powerful voice. Sure, I'd much rather have just finished a new novel, but I'd lose out on feeling I got to know a bit of Chabon himself, and that is a grand thing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Comic Wednesday 10.28.2009

Well, two light weeks mean...heavy week on the way.

And it's here.

Ambush Bug: Year None #7 (of 6)

Written by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming
Art by Keith Giffen and Al Milgrom
Cover by Darwyn Cooke

Ahh, FINALLY! I've been waiting for this bugger to wrap up for, God, has it been half a year? More? Was the delay a intended part of the scathing satire of modern comics that is the whole point of the series? "Whatever Happened to AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #6?" will hopefully answer those questions.

Batman #692

Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea
Cover by Tony Daniel

Tony Daniel comes back to the fold after writing and providing art for The Battle for the Cowl, a mini-series which, while not terrible, didn't blow up my skirt by any reach of the imagination. I had liked what the Judd Winick/Mark Bagly team had brought to the table quite a bit, but I'll let Daniel take a run. It's not like I'm dropping this book.

Blackest Night #4 (of 8)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver
Sketch variant cover by Ivan Reis

"Variant cover," sketch variant cover".....**SHIVER** Thank God Geoff John's writing is solid enough to hold up under the marketing machine. The pieces of this puzzle are starting to fit, with the introduction of the Indigo Lanterns and the revelations that the Black Lanterns aren't REALLY our favorite characters revived. That said, this is where "secrets are revealed," and I really do not want Johns to drop the ball.

Detective Comics #858

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III
co-feature art by Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams III
Variant cover by Adam Hughes

A Batman title with no Batman? (well, none of them have "BATMAN" at this point.) This is the one that's working on all cylinders at this point. The Batwoman lead feature is well written with, flat-out, amazing art, and the Question back-up feature is kicking ass, as well. A rare title where a $3.99 price tag doesn't phase me at all.

Gotham City Sirens #5

Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March

I keep saying I'm going to drop this book, but I keep buying it. Right now, it's the only regular series Dini is writing. So, I suppose that's a reason. It is attempting to tie-in with the main Bat-storyline, but the series seems so far out on the edge of everything, I have to struggle to care. March can draw ladies real nice, I admit.

Green Lantern #47

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy
Variant cover by Ed Benes

I always wonder how an artist like Mahnke can stay pretty much on schedule for a monthly book like Green Lantern, while, say Ethan Van Sciver seems to slip further and further behind on Flash:Rebirth? (Maybe it has something to do with Van Sciver's constant Facebook complaints about Obama?) I love the Pretty Indigo Lantern cover, and as in the Blackest Night rundown above, the story is working for me. Go Geoff Johns, Go!

Superman: Secret Origin #2 (of 6)

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank and Jon Sibal
Covers by Gary Frank

I picked up the first issue out of a sense of curiosity, and a respect for the creators. The first issue was fun enough to warrant a second. However, it just keeps nagging at me...Do we need ANOTHER re-telling of the Superman origin? Also, did DC just plan to put out all of Geoff Johns' series in one week? Are you trying to bankrupt me?

Ultimate Comics Avengers #3

COVER BY: Carlos Pacheco
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILS: Carlos Pacheco
INKS: Danny Miki|Dexter Vines
COLORED BY: Justin Ponsor
LETTERED BY: VC - Cory Petit

What's happening in this book again? Something to do with a new super-team, after the Ultimatum cock-up, that's "under the radar?" Oh yeah, and Ultimate Red Skull...THAT'S why I'm reading!

One final thought:

Here's a question I'd like to ask Joey Quesada over at marvel...How come you can't put out a decent Fantastic Four book? I WANT to buy a Fantastic Four book...I'm dying to. Benjamin J. Grimm is an almost perfect creation. Why has it sucked since YOU fired Mark Waid and (God rest his soul) Mike Weringo?!?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's one of those days when you just kinda wonder...

What the hell am I going to write?

I used to keep a journal, but I found that when I did that, it sort of devolved into navel-gazing pablum. The fact it was private allowed me to vent a whole ton of shit that maybe, possibly, I needed to get out, I'll admit that. However, it also allowed me to wallow in anger that could've been directed to something creative in some way. I wanted to keep the ritual of writing every day, but force myself beyond the poor-me bullshit that was piling up.

So, when I joined MySpace (Wha? What is that? Is that where all the bands are?), I saw they had a blog feature. So I decided to take my musings and push them outward. It put me in a position where I couldn't simply write things like:

******* was such a fucking asshole last night!! I can't believe that prick thinks he can tell me how to act! Sometimes I want to punch him right in the goddamn nose!!

Yeah, regular Shakespeare I was.

The fact that these little journals are now public, and I don't hide my identity, means that I have a responsibility. A responsibility to not just indulge my base, wounded animal reactions and spew them on a piece of paper like a teenager. To put some thought into what I write here. I still may think ******* is a fucking asshole, yes, I may want to punch him in the goddamn nose, but have to think more than that.

The fact is, that limitation I put on myself has reverberated out into a lot of facets of my life. Firstly, it's changed the way I look at theatre. You may want to indulge your immediate, self-gratification instincts, but y'know what, this is going in front of people, and...

You need to think more than that.

You know why most political theatre, hell most general theatre, sucks? I'll tell you why, it's because most of it is the same as my pen-and-paper blog. It's venting on a page. Little Bobby McGhee is pissed off because Bush was president for eight years, ir that we're still in Afghanistan, or Obama got elected (oh, who am I kidding...who writes right-wing theatre?), or that he can't get a date, or his mother coddles him, or whatever, and he vents that all over the paper.

Do you have any idea how lame that is?

It's like watching a homeless psychotic walking up the street, they're screaming about something that means a hell of a lot to them, in their fevered mind, but you? You walking by on the street? It's just embarrassing.

Why is it embarrassing?

It's embarrassing because there's no control, there's no art. It's raw emotion, and folks, raw emotion only gets you so far. It's an essential part of a first draft, but from the second forward, you better be shaping that into something that molds that emotion with intellect.

Second thing that going public with the blog got out of me was accountability.

I have 2 CDs worth of my attempts at musical expression. They exist. They sit in my CD shelf right between "Poundhound" and "Pride and Glory." (Both awesome bands, BTW) That would never have happened without the blog.

See, I said on my blog that I ought to try making music again. Once I said that, people asked me about it. (The one great advantage of MySpace blogs was that it tracked visitors...I knew about 25-30 people were reading each day.) Once people asked me about it, I was on the hook to not become a person who talked about doing things and never actually made the effort.

Hypocrisy is something I do not want to entertain. I mean, I fail at that all the time, but I, at the very least, try to fight against it. So, when I say I want to do something in a public forum, I'm going to at the very least give it the 'ol college try.

Which is why I'm EXTREMELY careful to never mention writing a book.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures - New Fang!

First Them Crooked Vultures single out today. Here you go:

Oh, yeah...I'm digging that. Old-fashioned power trio hard rock. I really like the way Dave Grohl's ride cymbal plays off Josh Homme's guitar, with John Paul Jones laying the foundation. I've heard some grumbling over at Blabbermouth, and places like that. I'm in to metal as much as the next guy who grew up in the 80's, but, Jesus, guys...broaden your minds. No, it's not 10,000 BPM and walls of distorted guitars. It grooves.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures

I have no idea why, but I'm becoming obsessed with hearing this band. It sounds like such a cool thing.


[Oct. 22, 2009] Them Crooked Vultures--a/k/a Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme and John Paul Jones--has confirmed November 17 as the release date of its eponymous debut album in the United States and Canada on DGC/Interscope Records.

The self-produced 13-song record will feature the debut of the studio versions of the material Them Crooked Vultures unveiled at its August 9 debut at Chicago's Cabaret Metro and played on a first series of shows throughout a handful of UK and European cities and portions of the eastern U.S., wrapping up with an October 15 appearance at New York's Roseland Ballroom.

Additional shows are being announced in the wake of the album's release, including but not necessarily limited to December dates in the UK and Europe and a January trip to Australia and New Zealand.

The complete track listing of Them Crooked Vultures is as follows:

No One Loves Me & Neither Do I
Mind Eraser, No Chaser
New Fang
Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Interlude With Ludes
Warsaw or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up
Spinning In Daffodils

For further information, updates, dates, etc., check back at

I'm becomming quite impressed with Dave Grohl. I've taken a shine to Foo Fighters, and I really loved his P.R.O.B.O.T. side project. It just seems like he's the kind of guy who wants to make music, and he'll call up whoever to make it happen. John Paul Jones is in Them Crooked Vultures, for pity's sake! that's amazing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey! It's Thursday!!

And I have little to nothing to say, my friends.

My callback last night went pretty darn well. I was happy, and it's a familiar, comfortable environment. I doubt I'll get it, mainly because I have my sights on another show that conflicts with this one. I spoke up, because I have a good relationship with the folks, and company, from last night, and I want to maintain it. I like to leave people who want to work with me again in my wake.

It won't always happen, but that's my goal.

It is a sign to me that I've been here a good long time when I seem to know more people at auditions than I don't. Seems there's always a face from the past that I'm happy to see. Sometimes it's been so long that it's almost like seeing a ghost. People from shows years ago, or short films, or whatever, and you spend a few moments just sort of...looking.

"Is that? Hmmm...I don't know..."

looks traded, then someone (usually not me, I'm terrible with names), finally says, "Mark, right?"

...and we're off.

Everyone always says theatre is a small world. It's so true.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comic Book Wednesday 10.21.2009

Hey, hey...Here we go!

Batman: Streets of Gotham #5

Written by Chris Yost
co-feature written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
co-feature art by Jeremy Haun
Cover by Dustin Nguyen

Looks like Paul Dini's taking a break. Hopefully, Yost, who's work I've enjoyed in Red Robin, will come up with a good tale. His story apparently teams The Huntress with Man-Bat, which certainly sounds interesting on paper. we shall see.

The Brave and the Bold #28

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art and cover by Jesus Saiz

The Flash teams with WWII heroes, The Blackhawks. Cool. I really do love team-up books like this, and, as I've said, new writer Straczynski is really digging deep for odd pairings, and that's really the fun of this kind of title.

Justice League of America #38

Written by James Robinson
Art and cover by Mark Bagley
Variant cover by Andy Kubert

And now, Robinson and Bagley come on board to try to inject somethign into this title. I'll be on board until Bagly leaves, but if Robinson's not bringing the heat, story-wise, I'm gone with the artist. Seriously, this ought to be a flagship title for DC, and it's been in such a slump for the last few years.

Power Girl #6

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art and cover by Amanda Conner
Variant cover by Guillem March

So. Much. Fun. Seriously, good, goofy superhero fun. This team has really given Power Girl/Karen Starr a real swagger and energy, that just rolls off the pages. Amanda Conner's art just pops, and the women are dead-sexy without seeming exploitative.

The Stand: Soul Survivors #1

COVER BY: Lee Bermejo
WRITER: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
PENCILS: Mike Perkins
INKS: Mike Perkins
COLORED BY: Laura Martin
LETTERED BY: VC - Rus Wooton

This is the first issue of the 3rd mini-series that will make up Marvel's adaptation of Stephen King's novel. I'm a big fan of the novel, and the comics are doing the story justice. Ultimately, it's going to be a 30-issue adaptation in 5-issue mini-series, and that seems about right. Plus, we finally get to see "Bruce Springsteen" as pop-star Larry Underwood. That has to tickle King a bit.