Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Trilogy is Complete!

The Sword completes their Warp Riders video trilogy with my favorite song on the album.

Part 1 - "Tres Brujas"

Part 2 - "Lawless Lands"

Part 3 - "Night City"

My #1 album from last year, folks.

Great stuff

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Comic Day 3.30.2011

OK, so it's getting kind of ridiculous. I have a HUGE stack of book that I need to read, already, and I haven't even picked up last weeks books, yet. Ah, the joys of working on a show, it'll only get worse when tech starts this weekend.

On the good side, this is a very light week, numbers-wise, but, since it's mostly Marvel product, my wallet is still going to feel it in the morning.

Detective Comics #875 $2.99
Art and cover by JOCK

One bright Tuesday morning, the corpse of a killer whale shows up on the floor of one of Gotham City's foremost banks. The event begins a strange and deadly mystery that will bring Batman face-to-face with the new, terrifying faces of organized crime in Gotham. Be here for part 1 of the brand new 3-part "Hungry City." 

A really excellent run in play here. I'm impressed with the new team, and the effective use of not only Commissioner Gordon, but his family, as well.

Good stuff.

Captain America #616 $4.99

It's the 70th Anniversary of Captain America's debut and we're celebrating by beginning a bold new direction. A double-size main story by award-winning writer Ed Brubaker sees Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes both struggling with the shocking ramifications of the Trial of Captain America and what comes next! A forgotten portrait of Captain America, painted in the waning days of World War II, brings up nearly forgotten memories of those turbulent and frightening years for Steve Rogers—memories of yearning, of loss and of innocence betrayed, brought to you by legendary writer/artist Howard Chaykin. Captain America falls under the vampiric Baron Blood’s spell in an untold tale of the Invaders! Plus: Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, and the Secret Avengers investigate a modern day Hitler!

OK, so...I haven't read #615.1 (ugh) yet, but this does seem like an all-out spectacular for Cap's 70th anniversary. So much so that I don't mind the extra dollar on the cover price.

Ought to be a fun read.

The Stand: No Man's Land #3 $3.99
Penciled by MIKE PERKINS

The Free Zone Committee has sent their spies to the west and is now mere days away from getting the electricity back on in Boulder, but darker plans are afoot... When a tormented Nadine discovers the horrific truth of what Harold's been plotting, the dark man makes his presence known to ensure nothing stops him... The clock is ticking for the forces of good, True Believers, and we've hit the point of no return... Don't dare miss it!

It's really hard to comment about this series. I really enjoy it,'s the book. No surprises, just a very, very solid adaptation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Well, That Was a Soul-Crusher

Bad rehearsal last night. Bad. We got through it, which was a good thing, but a lot of stuff just fell apart for me.

I was caught in my own head. It's that simple.

I was off-center from the start of the night. The CTA Red Line just...stopped on me, and I had to jump off and grab a bus, which wasn't a centering experience, at all.

But, that's an excuse, ain't it?

What's become kind of unsettling and odd for me is the parts of the show that are becoming more difficult for me. The first half of the show features far fewer immediate obstacles for me to wrestle with, but I'm finding myself lost for more often. The second half, where I have a number of difficult problems to negotiate, both as an actor and character, I'm feeling pretty solidly along for the ride.

Perhaps it's just an issue of where I expect to have to really work, and where I expect things to be easier. I mean, the whole damn show is difficult, that's why I wanted to do it, but you do give yourself the scenes and sections where you can relax a bit. Where you can let the script do the work.

That's, most likely, my problem. Hell, "most likely" doesn't really even apply. It is my problem.

In all ways it's my problem. It's my problem to solve. Ain't nobody else gonna do it.

If I'm honest, I'm also letting the world outside of rehearsal weigh on me. Emotional baggage that, I have to admit, I'm fairly resentful about having to deal with right now. I mean, all actors are emotionally fragile creatures, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, it's part of the job. You learn to deal with it as best you can, or as worst you can, in some cases. We're only human. Yet, I can't help but have a, "now? You want to do this NOW!?!" response, sometimes.

It's not a good time for me. Seriously.

But we soldier on, right? We fight 'til we can't fight no more. We steel ourselves and put on the bravest face we can muster, and proceed to beat our heads viciously against the wall of indifference.

That's the job, in a nutshell.

Monday, March 28, 2011


What a lovely little film.

There is nothing like Paul Giamatti when he's on his game. It's glorious. I still, to this day, can put in Sideways, or American Splendor, and revel in his simple, honest work. He's got a wonderful way of playing the sad sack, without becoming indulgent. A twinkle in the eye that lets you know there's still something scrappy in there, even when the world crashes around him.

I mentioned to someone earlier that I was pleasantly surprised that Giamatti's Mike Flaherty in WIN WIN is less of a sad sack than we are used to seeing from him, but as I think about it, that's not exactly accurate. He's less of a misanthrope, less angry, and more proactive. He's also a relatively stable family man, and there's a warmth in this performance that was really nice to see. I think we all have known it was there, but this film truly brings it to the forefront.

Mike Flaherty is a small-town New Jersey lawyer who's in over his head, financially. Via a aging client, Leo Poplar (the very welcome Burt Young - YO, PAULIE!!), in the early stages of dementia, he sees a way out for himself and his family. Because there's so much warmth from Giamatti, and lovely performances from the family, anchored by Amy Ryan as Mike's wife, Jackie, and the old man's family is nowhere to be found, you go with it.

Until the family shows up. Then things get complicated. 

This is a film where I can legitimately say I liked, or maybe I should just say cared for, every character on screen.

Newcomer Alex Schaffer, as Leo's hereto-unknown grandson, is simply fantastic. He plays the line between a genuinely sweet-natured kid, and the problems inherent with growing up in a bad situation, perfectly. So many young performers expel so much effort onscreen, but Schaffer is so laid-back and effortless, it's quite winning, and makes the explosions of emotion and violence that much more memorable.

The entire supporting cast is great, from the aforementioned Ryan and Young, the always-amazing Jeffrey Tambor, to Bobby Cannavale and Melanie Lynskey. There isn't a weak spot in the ensemble.

The script does a really great job of setting up a whole series of complications for Mike and the other characters, and then manages to smoothly tie them all together and tick them off, one by one. It's a lovely piece of writing with great moments and lines for almost every character. Thomas McCarthy writes and directs, from a story by himself and Joe Tiboni. Kudos to both of them, but mainly to McCarthy, who manages to set a tone that is not only steeped into the script, but, it feels like, into the shots themselves.

This is a truly well-made, well-acted film that embraces positive messages without be cloying or preachy. the situation itself is a just a tad outlandish, but the tone and performances keep everything grounded in a very relateable reality. I very much enjoyed this film.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Inevitable Stumble

I've been feeling REALLY strong about The Copperhead. I've felt good about the script, the character, and my performance since day one. It's the kind of role that I just sorta felt I understood from the first reading. Yes, the script was written in 1918, and it's definitely a product of it's time, but I understood Milt Shanks. From the first reading I felt for him, and admired him as he tried to bridge the gap between duty and family.

Having such a solid team in place only strengthened my confidence. This is a really, really top-flight cast, and I feel very lucky to be among them. Blessed, really. Kathy Scambiatterra has proven to be an insightful and sensitive director, as her reputation would suggest, and Peter Connors has offered equally incisive thoughts, as her assistant. As usual, a great group of people around you just amps up that confidence level, which was pretty high to begin with.

Which is not to say the show is easy, or doesn't scare the crap out of me. It calls for a pretty profound and extensive physical transformation in the second half, and that calls for me to rely on a lot of factors that, simply, I haven't been able to see, or work with, yet. It's a leap of faith, really. I throw myself into what I can do to march toward that goal, and hope that I'll see a helping hand coming toward me.

(Mysterious? Hey, I don't want to give away all the good stuff...)

I can't think of any role or production that has felt this rewarding, and this terrifying, since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Anyone who knows me knows in what high regard I hold that team, that production, and my own efforts within it. I've longed for that kind of full, immersive experience, again.

So, of course, the acting Gods noticed I was feeling pretty confident, and decided to give me a little comeuppance.

I should've known it was coming, I really should've.

I ran into Peter on the street as we walked to the theatre, and he asked how I felt about things. This is always a difficult question for me, to begin with, because I can't think of a single performance, rehearsal or audition I've ever been 100% happy with. It just doesn't happen with me, but, of course, I certainly don't want to give anyone the impression I'm unhappy. With myself? Sure. The production? Rarely.

Although, there have been times...

...But that's a whole 'nother story

What followed was one of those rehearsals the just stabs you in the heart. Nothing was working for me, we ran the aforementioned second half twice, and each time, I felt Milt, and the show just spin away from me. I was either too sappy, or just robotically trying to get through the damn thing as fast as I could. The climax of the show, I've got a LOT of talking to do, and my subtext slowly turned into, "YOU IDIOT, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING!?!?!!?"

Ahhh, rehearsal.

Now, I have no doubt that this is a minor speed-bump, and I'll get my shit together in the next couple of weeks before we have an actual audience. This is just the moment that comes during every, single process, when you have to doubt yourself, and push through. It's the gut check moment. It's disheartening, as always, but I've been here too many damn times to get that wrapped up in it.

Previews for The Copperhead start April 8th. It's gonna be a good one.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Question of Greatness

Why do I feel like we've just given up on being great?

Why do I feel like the whole country, hell, probably the whole world, has up and said, "y'know, I could try to reach something transcendent, but, man...that's just too hard."

I'm not even talking about art or theater here, but, man. Where are the heroes? If someone steps up and does something extraordinary, sports, arts, whatever, our first instinct is "they cheated," or "they have family problems." Anything, anything else, rather than just flat out admit, "I wish I had done that."

When I look at TMZ, or Perez Hilton, or the internet trolls you see on every website, even right up to Glenn Beck, I see people motivated by jealousy and fear. Jealously because, they, themselves, didn't get up off their asses to do something productive in the world. Fear because other people excelling at life reminds them of their own failures.

It's not like I don't understand it. I go through times of depression and despair, because...what have I done with my life? I get jealous like anyone else, but, damn it, I try, with everything I have, to channel that into something better, something productive. I don't always succeed, that's a fact, and it leads to bouts of bitterness and envy that I am not proud of. I own them, but I am not proud of them.

Why is it that I feel like most of the country is living in that moment all the time?

In 2009, we observed the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11, and the first moon landing. NASA put up a wonderful website that tracked the progress of the mission in real time, exactly 40 years after the fact. I was really taken by this, and thought it was a moment to inspire and, yes challenge. I started making status updates that read something like this:

"40 years ago, Apollo 11 had separated from the final stage of the rocket, and begun it's trip to the moon. What will you do today?"

I was pretty flabbergasted by the responses I got. People seemed offended at what I had written, as if I was making some sort of passive-aggressive criticism of their lives.

That's haunted me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Comic Day 3.23.2011

I'm finally getting caught up on my backlog from the last few weeks, and I've been trying to figure out if I should do some sort of mega-post to cover all my reactions after reading them, or if I ought to just cut the cord. Start over fresh, y'know?

Anyway...This week's books.

Batman: Incorporated #4 $2.99
Variant cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

Superstar writer Grant Morrison and artist Yanick Paquette have sent The Dark Knight on a trip to Japan and Argentina, but now Batman's taking a brief breather back in his home base of Gotham City for a team-up with Batwoman! And don't miss the first issue of BATWOMAN's new monthly series, on sale this month!

It's so odd, when you get behind on reading...I JUST read issue #3, and now #4 is coming out?

Is it just me, or is something really odd happening at DC? Last week had the solicit for an issue of Batman that absolutely, in no way, resembled the issue that actually hit the stands. Now, we jump back to Gotham, and some sort of run-in with Batwoman? The Argentina adventure from last issue wasn't done, and, it's been a long time, but did they ever wrap up the Japan story from the first two issues?

Batman: The Dark Knight #2 $2.99
Written by DAVID FINCH
1:25 Variant cover by ANDY CLARK

Batman faces the Penguin in the search for his childhood friend Dawn Golden…but what The Dark Knight finds sends him on a far darker and more desperate path. Now he's forced to reach out to Etrigan, the Demon for help – a favor that may come at too high a price! 

Worst drinking game in the world: When a "hot" creator is set up on a high-profile, much-hyped book, take a drink when each new issue comes out.


Green Lantern #64 $2.99
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
1:10 Variant cover by TYLER KIRKHAM & BATT

"War of the Green Lanterns" ignites with part 1 of the blockbuster event that'll burn into the summer! A malevolent force has usurped control over all the power batteries, leaving the Corps powerless except for a select few members. Now it's up to Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Sinestro to regain control – but can these warriors overcome their differences in time to save the universe.

Ahh, another issue of "DC Comics Crossover Factory," I mean Green Lantern. Look, the crossovers with this book have been a textbook example of diminishing returns. I mean, look at Brightest the end did that really have ANYTHING to do with Green Lantern or the Corps? Other than being another color of ring?




I'm ready now.

Justice League of America #55 $2.99
1:10 Variant cover by DAVID MACK

"The Rise of Eclipso" continues! With the Spectre fallen and darkness spread throughout the DC Universe, no one is safe from Eclipso's control! Not any of DCs shadow-based heroes and villains. Not Alan Scott and the magical beings of the moon's Emerald City. Not even the World's Greatest Heroes! And when Eclipso's ultimate goal is revealed, they'll see that it's scale is even bigger than the DC Universe. One lone hero has the power to make sure all be well however...for he has hope. Introducing Blue Lantern Saint Walker to the Justice League of America! In the remains of New Krypton, Doomsday tears through Batman, Supergirl and Alpha Lantern Boodikka in his search for Cyborg Superman as "Reign of Doomsday" rampages on! 

...and here we go again. You had a nice Eclipso story going on, and then somebody at Editorial says, "we need to tire into this Doomsday thing..."

No, you don't.

I think I just need to rip off the band-aid with this series. Keep my money until somebody puts Morrision, or Giffeen and DeMatteis back on it.

Captain America #615.1 $2.99
Written by ED BRUBAKER

START READING with this Point One issue. Steve Rogers emerged from the super soldier program to become the first Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty. When he died, Bucky Barnes took up the shield to become a new kind of Captain America. With Barnes on trial, who will wield the legendary weapon—who will become the new Captain of America? This is the start of a new era for the famed Avenger! 

Bucky's on trial with the Russians.

OK, the movie ain't far off, and we know the "House of Corporate Synergy" ain't gonna want anyone but Steve Rogers in that costume. Bring it.

HATE the ".1" program. Stupid.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #156 $3.99
Pencils & Cover by Mark Bagley


The wait is over!! THE most shocking Spider-Man story you will ever read!  Young Peter Parker has led a heroic life and tried to live by the simple and powerful philosophy that with great power comes great responsibility, but will that philosophy be enough to save him from the horror that awaits him here?  This is easily the most important story in Ultimate Spider-Man history and maybe the most important story in the Ultimate Universe. Who better to illustrate it than Ultimate Spider-Man legend MARK BAGLEY, making his mighty Marvel return!! Bendis and Bagley back together again and just-in-time!!

Again, wierd. I JUST read the last issue of this. But who cares? Bagley's back! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Ode to Travis Bickle

A few years back, I was at a Christmas party, if memory serves, and the topic of conversation, as it often does with me, turned to movies. Specifically, Taxi Driver. The comment that was made was something along the lines of how this person disliked Scorsese's film, because the main character was completely unrelateable and unlikable.

I, emphatically, disagreed. From where I sit, Travis Bickle, as written by Paul Schrader, directed by Martin Scorcese, and performed by Robert DeNiro, is one of the most heart-breaking characters in film history. That doesn't excuse the character, or ignore that he's dangerous. He's a time bomb from the moment we meet him, to the final moments of the film, where the fuse is lit again.

I can see how Travis might alienate a viewer. I'm not an idiot. The film is a pretty serious dance between trying to keep you out of, and let you into, his head. Scorsese uses all sorts of trick to let you think you've reached a bit of understanding, then rips it away from you. Travis represents "the lonely man," but the truly tragic thing is how much he fights against it. How much he wants to be a "normal person," and how utterly ill-equipped he is to get there.

For me the entire film is encapsulated in one scene, where Travis sits, alone, as always, watching American Bandstand.

That's the whole movie, in one scene, and it's utterly heartbreaking. The TV actually becomes a bit of a recurring motif for Travis, as, right before he snaps, he actually kicks it over.

Travis is absolutely a damaged human, that's not even in question. Vietnam, his upbringing, any number of reasons, something has scarred him, and isolated him from the rest of the world. Right in the middle of the teeming metropolis of NYC, no less. What's ultimately the most moving an agonizing thing about the film is that Travis spends a good portion of the running time trying, desperately to head off the ultimate climax.

We watch Travis try to connect with Betsy (Cybil Sheppard), asking her out on a date, having pie ("I orderd apple with a slice of yellow cheese. I think that was a good choice"). As we see them try to interact, it becomes so painfully clear that Travis has absolutely zero sense of how to interact with anyone. We cringe as he takes her to a porn theater in Times Square, and then the awkward scene in the election headquarters as she tries to extricate herself from his life.

With the rejection, he sinks into the cesspool of mid-70's New York City, and grows angrier with the debauchery and filth he sees as he drives his cab through the night. Coming to fixate on Iris (Jodie Foster), and forming a plan to "save" her. The ultimate joke is, of course, NYC isn't just a cesspool in his mind, it is (or was) a cesspool, and when he eventually does "save" Iris, he's lionized as the hero.

Even if, had he had just one more bullet, he would've took his own life. Travis goes into the gunfight at the climax of Taxi Driver knowing he will be killed, either by Iris' handlers, or by his own hand. He accepts that because, for once, he will matter. That this lonely man, ignored by all around him, FORCED the world to take notice.

I always contract those final moments with the scene where Scorsese himself appears as the scorned husband, fantasizing, but not acting, on punishing his wife and her lover for cheating. I always believe that man would never do anything that he claimed he would. That he was well and truly impotent, castrated, both mentally and emotionally, by the betrayal. He would live on, as we had seen Travis living, suffering, lonely and ignored.

But, of course, Travis survives. The final scene shows us our, well, I don't know if I'd call him a hero, back out in his cab, driving into the night. With one scream, and a glance into the rear view mirror, we know that the match is truck, and the fuse is burning again. The next explosion is only a matter of time.

It's this last bit that always makes me conflicted when I hear DeNiro and Scorsese talk about "kicking around" ideas for a sequel. Part of me doesn't want to EVER know what happened to Travis Bickle, and another part desperately does. The fact is, it'll never be as utterly brilliant as the original. So, leave it alone.

Travis is a hard character to watch, and harder to relate to. Yet, it's through these characters and performances that we can gain more understanding of the fringe elements of our society. Scorsese, DeNiro, and especially Schrader knew what it was like to be that lonely and isolated from the humanity all around. So far away, yet so pervasive that it seems too much to bear. Yet, they, as artists, could find a creative, positive vent for those feelings, and gave us one of the greatest movies of all time.

Travis Bickle is not inhuman, but quite the opposite. He's all too frail and needful of human connection. If we're honest with ourselves, we all know what that feels like. I know I do, from High School, through College, right up to this very day, I fight and struggle with the need to belong. To be accepted, to be part of the whole. Yeah, it flies in the face of my fierce desire for independence, but feeling alone, well and truly alone, even if you think you're doing what's best for yourself and others (and certainly Travis isn't that pure), is terrifying. It's painful.

That's universal, and that's Travis Bickle.

There's a 35th anniversary screening of this film this week. Tonight, and this past Saturday. Alas, I've had to miss both of them. It's painful. I've never seen Taxi Driver in a theatre. My Blu-Ray, however, is pre-ordered. A movie night is in the offing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stuck in My Head 3.21.2011

Stuck in my head is back!!

Peace Sells...
By Megadeth

What do you mean, "I don't believe in God"?
I talk to him every day.
What do you mean, "I don't support your system"?
I go to court when I have to.
What do you mean, "I can't get to work on time"?
I got nothing better to do
And, what do you mean, "I don't pay my bills"?
Why do you think I'm broke? Huh?

If there's a new way,
I'll be the first in line.
But, it better work this time.

What do you mean, "I hurt your feelings"?
I didn't know you had any feelings.
What do you mean, "I ain't kind"?
I'm just not your kind.
What do you mean, "I couldn't be the president of the United States of America"?
Tell me something, it's still "We the people", right?

If there's a new way
I'll be the first in line,
But, it better work this time.

Can you put a price on peace?
Peace sells...,
Peace sells...,
Peace sells...,but who's buying?
Peace sells...,but who's buying?
Peace sells...,but who's buying?
Peace sells...,but who's buying?

No, peace sells...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where the Wild World of Facebook Posts Cross Wires

I was struck by two blogs/articles posted to my Facebook feed recently.

One was yet another snark-filled ramble about Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark.

In a last-ditch effort to save his floundering musical, Bono fired Taymor last week, replacing her with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who mostly writes comic books, and Phil McKinley, who directs the circus for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey

(Will the new "Spider-Man" have some elephants and a clown car, I wonder?)

Well, har-de-har-har, Mr. Michael Riedel, aren't you just a CARD!

From my perspective, take your shots at Julie Taymor. She's created a (reportedly) Godawful mess based on her hubris, but, for a show that DEMANDS high-wire performance and is based on a comic-book character, who better than a circus director and a comic book writer to try to salvage something out of it?

They may fail, make no mistake, but your cheap-ass shots, Mr. Riedel, just exposes you as an elitist.

The second was this bit about the local nature of theatre.

And, while I understand what Brian Golden is getting at with his Op/Ed piece, it's also, from my viewpoint, barking up the wrong tree. It's barking up the same wrong tree Julie Taymor did with her run at Spider-Man, but in a different way. It's also the same wrong tree the entire community has been tearing at for years, and watching their audience erode, steadily.

It's not that what Mr. Golden says is wrong, it's absolutely not, but it's also inherent with the whole concept of theatre. Theatre is not a mass media, it never has been, and never will be. It's always a local art form, it always has been. It's a presentation for those people in attendance, right at that moment. The performers will never replicate it, exactly, ever again. Also, more to his point, I'd guess that 95%, or more, of theatre in the country is presented in a community, to people who live in that community, by people who live in that community.

I always feel like announcing that, as some sort of end goal, is a cop-out. It's, essentially, a classed-up way of saying "our audience is our audience." I think that's limiting, tell the right story, in the right way, and the whole world will listen. I COMPLETELY agree with the human connection element he brings up. It's why I always feel a movie, for example, is always best served in a theatre full of other people, to share the emotional responses.

But understanding that doesn't help you with programming, with picking a season, assigning a director, or casting a show. I think, I really, really think, that we, as theatre practitioners have forgotten where we came from.

Where's not cultural shaman. We're not social workers. We're storytellers. Those other things can be part of the deal, but we need to focus on our story. Let the audience decide if it's something more.

When Og got up in front of the rest of his tribe, and told the story of his hunt for the wild boar, it came down to his story, and how he told it. That's what we have to get back to, the pure joy of storytelling.

With all due respect to Mr. Golden, because I am a member of this community, and I am connected to this story, then it's a community story. We have to move beyond our ideas of what and who "our community" is, and just tell human stories. It doesn't have to be about "us," because every good story is about "us."

Brian, if you read this, maybe that was your point, and I missed it, God knows that's not the first time that's happened.

Then we turn to Taymor. Spider-Man is a universal character, with a universal story. You can't have a concept that survives almost 50 years, through multiple generations and incarnations, without having some universal appeal. So, why, in the name of God, try to glom your "Arachne," lifted from Greek myth, into it? You already have one myth, and that's exactly what it is, that you get to play with. Why overload the show with symbolism?

...especially if it's symbolism that just confuses people, and dilutes the basic, universal, human story that's already there.

Why not just TELL THE STORY?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Weary Kind

I am tired.

The rehearsal schedule for The Copperhead has been rather intense. Long nights, 7-11 PM, and long days on the weekend. Plus, I'm trying (and doing pretty well) to keep up with my workout routine. Still, that means with travel time, I'm dealing with days that run from about 5:30 AM to 11:30 (or later) PM.

Makes me tired.

I mean, it's a good tired. I'm working, I'm focused, and I'm moving forward. That said, there are days when I feel really, really drug out.

Days like today.

I'm looking forward to the evening, and rehearsal, with a mixture of excitement and dread. Dread only because, man, doing this role kicks my ass. Excitement because, man, doing this role kicks my ass. On a pure technical level, it's huge. Four acts, large monologues to end the show, aging form 36 to 76, it's a lot to do.

We haven't run the whole show, yet. I'm sorta chomping at the bit to get there. Just to know. To know how far it's gonna run me down. I'm also dying to have our make-up team come in, and see what 76-year-old Milt Shanks is gonna look like.

I do think I've gotten myself off book...


It's not perfect, but it's in good enough shape I think I can go without my script. I already did for Act 2 on Monday. Can't stop working on it, of course, but I made it. Tonight's our scheduled off book day, and I've gone through the play a couple of times a day for the last two. I think we're in good shape.

I did want to work on some music last night. I have been away from it for a while now. Just too busy, and my weekends are just...gone. Between rehearsal, laundry, groceries, etc...GONE. I try to pick up the Les Paul every day and do a few runs and licks, but I want to start moving forward on the CD again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Comic Day 3.16.2011

So, yeah...I never picked up my books last week. So, the "review" blog will be coming, at some point. as usual, when I get involved with a show, my time starts to get harder and harder to manage.

Batman #708 $2.99
Written by TONY DANIEL

Batman uncovers just how deep the Falcone Crime Family has penetrated the inner (and outer) workings of Gotham City, while Kitrina Falcone – a.k.a. Catgirl – is tempted to take over the family business. When she finds herself in hot water, she'll need Batman's help or all of her nine lives may run out.

I really like how the Falcone crime family has become a major recurring factor in the Batman world. It's always easy to throw out elements that other creative teams have introduced, in favor of your own stuff, but having writers go back to the Falcone family has helped establish a real multi-generational feel to Gotham's underworld.

Brightest Day #22 $2.99
1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS

As the end of BRIGHTEST DAY approaches, our returned heroes and villains begin converging in one area as the ultimate protector reveals itself against the ultimate menace! 

I used to laugh at the concept of "event fatigue." I always said, "if you're not enjoying it, just stop." I mean, I've never been one to buy something I wasn't enjoying, and there's plenty of events I never even started, because they just seemed vapid.

Yeah, I see you pointing out I still buy Justice League.....

Then I met Brightest Day. Just show me who the White Lantern is, and get it over with.

Red Robin #21 $2.99
Art and cover by MARCUS TO

Unable to control the Unternet, Red Robin is determined to destroy the villains' communications grid. Once the hero learns that the Mad Men have unwittingly become "roaming sentient servers," Red Robin will have to decide between severing Earth's connection to the Unternet before it kills the Mad Men – or leaving them in the throes of insanity forever! 

I'm really liking how the mission for Time Drake/Red Robin has shifted to this "undernet" angle since the return of Bruce Wayne. It's a smart track for a young, yet capable character like Tim.

The Spirit #12 $2.99
Written by DAVID HINE
Cover by LADRÖNN

Death is coming for Commissioner Dolan – and it wears The Spirit's face! The assassin sent to Central City by the South American cartels is a master of deadly automatons, but do The Spirit and the cops even know what they're looking for? They'd take a bullet for Dolan, but can they stop a killer who's taken countless lives without touching a gun?

This book has found it's groove, riding the line between whimsy and noir that marked the best of Will Eisner's work, as well as Darwyn Cooke's run. It's a consistent, solid read, it reminds me of Jonah Hex that way, but Hex has moments of utter genius this creative team hasn't found...yet.

I do really miss the Spirit: Black and White back-up feature.

Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #2 $3.99
Written by MARK MILLAR
Pencils & Cover by LEINIL YU

DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN! IT. IS. ON! The two most powerful super teams in the Ultimate Universe collide in the brawl of the century! A misunderstanding has brought these two colossal teams to blows and their battle may just spell the end for the Ultimate world! MARK MILLAR and LENIL YU bring you the issue that EVERYONE will be talking about. DON'T MISS OUT!

Yeah, yeah...Let's hope this series is more Mark Millar's run on The Ultimates, and not his Ultimate Avengers minis.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Tuesday...

...Still stressed.




Good God, Milt, didn't anyone tell you brevity is the soul of wit?

On the positive side, I don't have to actually work the last act, off book, until Saturday.

Working, working....just keep working....

I have to keep telling myself that, in a few days, when this period of, "oh my God I have to get this done!!!!" is behind me, I'll feel a ton better. Not only because it's done, but because working scenes without that damn book in your hand is soooo much easier.

Night off, tonight. I fully intend to work on the lines for a little while, but I am not going to drain myself on it. I also want to work on some recording. Put down some temp bass lines. Also, to do my cardio time. I've been doing well since the new year. I tend to avoid scales, but I jumped on this morning, and I'm down about 7 pounds.

Also set up a couple of Stage Left-related meetings today. We'll see how that pans out.

The Amsterdam hotel is now booked. The flights are booked. The London hotel booked. Just need to set up the train tickets from Amsterdam to London, and we are golden. Starting to nose around other shows to see, and I'm really, really partial to War Horse.

Of course, Rush is also playing the O2 Arena the night we arrive in London, but Cbyrd would never go for that. I think it's sold out, anyway...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Freaking Out Monday

I have ALMOST got myself completely off book for The Copperhead.

Which is good, because our off book deadline is Thursday. Of course, what I'm NOT off book for is the hardest section. The last act. Act four.

The monologue act, as I call it.

I hate monologues. I love dialogue. I love working a scene and looking into the eyes of another actor, playing together, finding emotional ebbs and flows, and creating a history and relationship out of thin air. That teamwork, the camaraderie, the synergy that can erupt into being, is intoxicating. Dialog is fun.

Monologues are anything but. At least for me. I mean, sure, there's been a few times when I felt really comfortable performing one. Dashiell Hamlet comes to mind, but that's an example where the style of the piece, the whole nature of it, makes it fun.

And makes it concise.

I am really not fond of most monologues, the waxing poetic for page after page. The kind of recursive writing that is almost demanded by it. Think about it, most monologues you see tend to work as follows:

Establish idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Self-reflective character-building comment. Establish new idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Chew over idea. Refer in offhanded way to character on stage with you. Establish new idea...

Rinse. Repeat.

There's a part of me, in every case, and this may be because I tend to play, well...less than talkative characters, that maybe we could just make the point an move on.

But that's all bullshit. Really, when you get right down to it, there's two reasons I don't like monologues. One's just practical, and the other's a bit more...psychological.

1- They're hard.

Seriously, memorizing a damn monologue is the hardest thing for me. It makes me crazy, and it's the places where I slide the furthest into paraphrasing. I just hate not having anything to hang on to, or anyone to play off of. It freaks me out.

2- I hate being the center of attention.

Yeah, believe it or not.

I hate that I know everyone's looking right at me. I hate that I'm, for that few minutes, anyway, driving the play all by myself. It's where I have my greatest lack of confidence, and feel of inadequacy. So, of course, with The Copperhead, the climax is, for the most part, all me, all the time!


I may start drinking, seriously, again.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Truly Poor Showing...

For myself this week. Really awful. I managed TWO whole blog entries this week.

Normally this blog is enjoyable to write, and I have a good time with it. Sometimes, however, the pressure to actually produce something starts to get to me. I've also, by trying to keep up a five days a week schedule, put myself in a position where I have to generate a lot of material. I make no bones about the fact that a lot of what I put up here is just random crap that falls out of my head. Sometimes it coalesces into an actual point, and sometimes it doesn't.

But that's what a blog is for, isn't it? A public diary for folks who are just egotistical enough to believe that things they find interesting, other people will find interesting. There was a quote from Eddie Van Halen, years ago (probably around 1997 when the last full Van Halen album came out - before the turn to full-on loony-bird status), where he said, essentially, that. It always struck me that statement encompassed pretty much everything "art" is about.


Sitting here looking at my Facebook account, and I'm struck by all the political posts. I strive, in most cases, to be a pretty apolitical person. I just don't care to get so angry about things. I tend to the left, but at the same time, I can see the logic of some conservative viewpoints. I say this only to position myself in you, my reader's eyes.

What the hell is the point of political posts on Facebook? I mean, generally speaking, I see the same links and blogs re-posted ad nauseum. Most of my Facebook friends are friends with each other, the circle is not that big. So, basically you're just re-posting the same point over and over and over again. I was asked to write my congressmen about funding for public broadcasting (link to the exact same page, with the exact same phrasing) no less than, and yes, I kept track, 46 times.

I sent the e-mail after the 2nd.

I also LOVE the "if you don't agree with this, you can just unfriend me" line.

I mean, really?

I have conservative friends on Facebook, but I'm near-completely certain that they're not violent homophobes or out-and-out fascists. If you are so invested in this blog/video/article/youtube clip (whatever it might be) that you are instructing your assembled friends that, unless they agree with you, they need not be your friends, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?!?!?

Are you just accepting every, single friend request you get?

...Because, folks, that's dangerous.

I also love the "shotgun blast" advocacy. I have a friend, and I do consider him a friend, who will start posting links to various blogs, and just not stop. It just turns into link, after link, after link. I'm talking about 10 blogs linked in 15 minutes.

Do you have ANY IDEA how annoying that is? Do you realize that, no matter if the blog sounds interesting, I'm just blocking it out now? I mean, did you confirm, or even read, all this shit?

Magic 8-Ball says....Response Hazy, Try Again Later.

Then the Magic 8-Ball exploded.

You killed Magic 8-Ball, you BASTARD!!

The point of all this, because I guess I should get to it, is that too many of you fine folks out there have boiled being "involved" and "socially active" down to sitting on your ass in front of a computer and regurgitating the crap you've read somebody else say on the internet.

Y'know the garbage about Obama not being born in the US? That started just like this.

When I found that picture above, I just jumped at it. It's the perfect metaphor for what the internet, and our human society has become. A little tube you crawl into that reflects and reinforces your own views as you ride through it. We're not learning anything on the internet, we're just finding fuel for what we already believe.

Then we turn around and spew it out as "evidence" and feel good about the "good" we've done. Being a socially conscious advocate for change is so easy when all we have to do is click a link, isn't it?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Comic Day 3.9.2011 (Day Late and a Dollar Short Edition)

My apologies to all of your beautiful people that follow this blog. It's been a hell of a week, and I'm struggling with exhaustion, some stress, and looming "off book" deadline for The Copperhead.

Batman and Robin #21 $2.99
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
1:10 Variant by GENE HA

The new regular creative team of writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason continue their run with "Dark Knight, White Knight" part 2 of 3!

Batman and Robin find themselves in the middle of a deadly crusade as "angels" continue falling from the skies! The White Knight is shining his heavenly light into the dark corners of Gotham City in his quest to vanquish the shadows of the soul…

So, I'm sitting here trying to remember what happened in the last issue, and drawing a complete blank.

Not a good sign.

Batman: Incorporated #3 $2.99
1:25 Variant cover by J.H. WILLIAMS III

Batman and Catwoman travel to South America to reunite with Gaucho, Argentina's Batman Incorporated representative. But their trip may be cut short when an unexpected adversary sends things spiraling downward!

Waitaminute...weren't Bruce and Selina in Japan?

This is a book that should NOT work for me. I've never been a fan of the globe-trotting, psudo-James Bond version of Batman. Ra's Al Guhl notwithstanding, it's just a way of using the character that doesn't spark for me, plus this whole "Batman: Incorporated" idea still sticks.

So why did I enjoy the first two issues so much?

Taking another angle on this, let's give Morrison and Paquette a hand for going TWO WHOLE ISSUES before they feel behind by over a month. Way to go, guys! **rolls eyes**

Booster Gold #42 $2.99

He's managed to avoid paying the price for a loooooong time… but now a newly responsible Booster Gold is ready to step up and serve the time for a crime he committed in his misspent youth! A crime that pretty much created Booster to begin with!

I have this sneaking suspicion that this story will be the gold standard for the Giffen/DeMatteis run on this title. It's a great concept, and I have full confidence they'll do something fun with it.

It's funny. That word, "fun." I read a lot of comics because I am involved with the story, the whole soap opera intertwined universe bullshit. And a lot because they're just flat-out cool, like Jonah Hex.  The sad thing that just hit me is how few I read because they're just fun to read. I could probably count 'em on one hand.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #155 $3.99
THE END STARTS HERE! The Death of Spider-Man prologue!! THE most talked about story of the year begins!! Peter Parker has gathered his most eclectic group of friends and family in the world. In this very special issue we will discover some shocking secrets that will either pull them closer together or push them apart forever. Welcome to Spider-Man stories you have never read before. Welcome to the beginning of the end of what you know to be Ultimate Spider-Man. And welcome fan-favorite Chris Samnee as he makes his Ultimate Universe debut! 

Did I say "fun?" 

Yeah Ultimate Spidey falls squarely in that category, as well. Bendis never fails to deliver. But when is Bagley returning?!?!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ducks in a Row

it's really funny to me, after a year, plus, where I felt like I was in a pretty huge dry spell, I suddenly find myself with a calendar that's getting increasingly full. Between now and September, it's one thing after another. All good things, thank God, I feel blessed to have them all coming up.

The Copperhead will run right up to the Leapfest new play reading series for Stage Left, If anyone asks me to do their reading. Not a sure thing, that's for certain.

In the middle of all that, Cbyrd and I are off to Amsterdam and London for a week.

...And seeing David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing at the Wyndham Theatre while we're there. Really excited that we confirmed tickets today.

yes...quite excited.

I saw Billie Piper in 2007, a show called Treats, and now I'll see the Doctor himself, as well as companion #3 (and, frankly, the one he had the most personal chemistry with). It's really nice because Tennant and Tate as Benedick and Beatrice seems right on the mark.

We've had such lovely luck with shows in London. In 2007, we saw the aforementioned Treats, as well as Equus with Daniel Radcliffe and the amazing Richard Griffiths, The Glass Menagerie with Jessica Lange, and The 39 Steps, which I'm very thankful I got to see the original production of, as I've heard the touring productions weren't that great.

That first trip was amazing, theatre-wise. I've rarely seen that many good shows in such a short space of time. Knew nothing about Treats, and now it's one of my favorite shows I've ever seen, on a pure script level (I'd still love to do it). That particular production of Menagerie just upended a ton of pre-conceived notions I had about the show. Equus was a beautiful, haunting production, Radcliffe did justice to his role, and Griffiths just floored me.

In 2009, we returned for a much shorter stay, splitting our time with Paris (much like this year with Amsterdam), but we still managed to see Waiting For Godot with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, which I can honestly say was the fist time I've ever really enjoyed watching that show. Oh, I admired it as a work, but it was never fun to watch before that night.

We also saw Spring Awakening. Of which the only thing I can say is..I am too old for that show, and CByrd and I are not musical people. Hindsight being 20/20, we should've seen War Horse. When we were there I'd never heard of it, and now, after the fact, I hear all these amazing things.

I've been trolling the listings for other shows to see while we're there. So far, nothing's struck me. I'll keep you posted.

So, anyway...back to the US, and into production on The Double with Babes With Blades. That'll carry me into the Fall, and I'm already feeling a camaraderie with the team (everyone that I know in it) already. It's a really fun little play, and I think we're gonna have a great time.

Add in trying to find the time to finish up the music projects, writing, yadda, yadda, yadda...Not to mention focusing on the here and now, rather than trying to think 10 steps ahead.

I think it's gonna be a good year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Comic Day 3.2.2011

Here we go...

Brightest Day #21 $2.99
1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS

As the end of BRIGHTEST DAY approaches, our returned heroes and villains begin converging in one area as the ultimate protector reveals itself against the ultimate menace!

No, wait...are you actually going to, y'know, get to the point of this story!?!

Praise the great spaghetti monster.

Green Lantern #63 $2.99
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and Cover by DOUG MAHNKE
1:10 Variant Cover by GENE HA

In this stunning prologue to the "War of the Green Lanterns," an unearthly alliance is made, Hal Jordan and Sinestro make a difficult sacrifice, and the power of Parallax grows!

But, wait...what about Brightest Day? That's supposed to be a Green Lantern-based crossover. I mean it's right in your damn oath! "In brightest day, in blackest night..." come on, people! It's like Johns just gave up on Brightest Day in this book, and dropped it like a hot rock. Hal and Sinestro were guarding the white lantern a few issues back...then *poof*!

Jonah Hex #65 $2.99

Art and cover by JORDI BERNET

It's man vs. the wild as Jonah Hex is besieged by a deadly blizzard the likes of which only a comic book master like Jordi Bernet can do justice! But it's not just Mother Nature who's out to do Hex in – there's also the matter of the mysterious stranger who provides Jonah shelter… and the group of armed men approaching the cabin…

So, how does this tie in to Brightest Day or Flashpoint? Or, is it a "War of the Green Lanterns" thing? I mean, I can't possibly believe Dan Didio would let DC publish anything that didn't crossover with some other part of the DCU...It's utterly ridiculous to believe!

On a serious note, Jordi Bernet is BACK!! READ THIS BOOK!!!

Ultimate Comics Captain America #3 (of 4) $3.99
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciller: Ron Garney

An Ultimate Comics groundbreaking miniseries! Captain America has seen things no soldier should ever see, been to places that no man should be able to return, and beaten foes that no other hero could put down. Now, in the jungles of Cambodia, one man will push Captain America to, and past his limits. And Cap may not come back! The superstar team of Jason Aaron and Ron Garney bring you a brutal story you will NOT want to miss! 

Once again, if you want accurate solicit information, is NOT the place to go. I added in the writer and artist from the solicit text, because Marvel doesn't seem to care to get it right on the website. You think that $3.99 and issues would get some better corporate synergy.

Still compelled by this story, because I think it's going someplace interesting.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Copperhead Script Work

I'm not a huge fan of table work. I understand the value of it, and that it's nice to get the entire company around a table and just talk through scenes. It gets people on the same page, and creates a unified "baseline" of understanding to begin from. I certainly think it's useful.

Illustrative only - I know none of these people
But it's not fun. Not that everything has to be fun, per se, but I have a pretty strong history of making most of my leaps of understanding once I'm on my feet and looking into the eyes of the other characters. I have a hard time feeling "in the moment" when I'm sitting at a table looking at a script, even if everyone at the table is trying to feed off each other.

Me? I just sit there wanting to get up.

Of course, I'm talking about The Copperhead, which started rehearsals on this past Sunday with the first read-thru, and continued last night with table work. I felt a little antsy last night. It's pretty much entirely my fault. I've been sitting on this script for a long while, and making an effort to get off book before we even started makes sitting around a table reading feel like being in a cage.

(I'm also well aware that getting off book before we started, well, not everyone thinks that's smart. What can I say? I was anxious and I had time on my hands. It's been a pretty long dry spell.)

It's one of the reasons that staged readings aren't really my forte. The script starts to feel like a ball and chain. Not the words, but the actual book, physically. I also have an over-fixation on getting the lines exactly if I have the script in hand. I begin to think more about what I'm saying, instead of just playing. Makes me a little stiff. 

That's intensified when you start to realize there's a lot of really great people in the room with you. Kathy Scambiatterra has put together a pretty sharp group. Couple of people I know, and a whole lot I don't. Lots of veterans of The Artistic Home, and, as always, it's gonna be fun to see a new dynamic play out.

Let's just hope I don't screw up. LOL!