Thursday, December 31, 2009
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....
A Streetcar Named Desire
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.
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
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
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.
Monday, December 28, 2009
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
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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...
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
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
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, man....it 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
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
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
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
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 course...it'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.
Dr. Horrible...a hit, but in micro terms.
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
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.
COMICS FOR THE WEEK.
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
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.
(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
Monday, December 7, 2009
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
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
COVER BY: DAVID LAFUENTE
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: DAVID LAFUENTE
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
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.