Friday, April 29, 2011

Stuck In My Head 4.29.2011

Coeur D'alene
by Alter Bridge

When all the lights are faded
The encore’s come and gone
And I can’t take this no more
Well I can’t keep pretending
I just can’t play the part
I need the solace of her shores

Coeur d’Alene is calling out
And it won’t be long
Coeur d’Alene I’m coming now
Will I still belong

I look into the mirror
I don’t know who I am
A life so torn apart
I still long for the simple
I’m just a common man
Ye with this aching heart

Coeur d’Alene is calling out
And it won’t be long
Coeur d’Alene I’m coming now
Will I still belong

Safe at last in your arms
I’m safe at last in your arms

Coeur d’Alene is calling out
Where its water is calm
Coeur d’Alene I’m coming now
And it won’t be long
And it won’t be long
And it won’t be long

Safe at last
(and it won’t be long)
I’m safe at last
(and it won’t be long)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I have Really Nothing To Share Today

Other than the usual, "Hey, The Copperhead is back on stage tonight...three weeks left, NOW WITH THURSDAYS!!"

So, Yeah, otherwise...It's Thursday.

One thing I can write about. I am not a huge Kiss fan, I'm just not. I have respect for the band, even if most of their innovations and ground-breaking was in the realm of promotion and showmanship, rather than, y'know, actual music. That, however, is still demanding of respect, because they really did, in a lot of ways show everyone how to do it. If they end up in the Hall of Fame, I'm good, because it is a legacy and a part of the tapestry of Rock.

But I was never a huge fan of the music.

On a lark, I downloaded Alive II. I don't know, I thought I ought to own some Kiss, and the first two Alive albums are legendary. Most of it is, y'know, Kiss. Catchy, decently played hard rock with a sexual subtext to everything. However, when "God of Thunder" started, I was kinda blown away by the riff. It's pretty awesome hard rock.

And with that...a moment of zen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Comic Day 4.27.2011

For some reason, pricing just raised my hackles today.

Batman Incorporated #5 $2.99

Batman's Argentinean adventure concludes as The Dark Knight and Gaucho fight to the death to save the lives of countless innocents. Meanwhile, England's other Batman, The Hood, stumbles across a monstrous conspiracy – can Batman and his international allies stop a plot that threatens to transform the whole world?

OK, I'll eat a little crow and say, despite the dumbest concept ever (and it still is), this is a tight Batman series. The international flavor allows Morrison to indulge his more Bond-like version of Bruce Wayne, and they've paraded a number of international heroes around without hitting the "Batmen all around the world" crap hard or often. It works, but I do wish they'd kept Catwoman around as a foil after the initial Japanese arc. that was a great version of Selina Kyle.

Brightest Day #24 $4.99
1:10 Variant Covers by IVAN REIS

In the extra-sized issue #24, a new age for the DC Universe begins! A long shadow is cast across the world in a finale that will have everyone talking! Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, but that doesn't mean it will remain that way as the new champion of Earth is chosen!




Wasn't the $78 (give or take) you were going to make off this title at $2.99 enough? The book hasn't even been that good!


Detective Comics #876 $2.99
Art and cover by JOCK

"Hungry City," part 2 of 2! When the carcass of a killer whale is discovered in the middle of Gotham City's financial sector, Batman is thrown into a mystery the likes of which he's never experienced – a mystery which soon brings the Dark Knight face-to-face with the terrifying new symbol of organized crime in Gotham! 

Man, the covers for this run rock. I am also not a big Scott Snyder fan right now. This is likely the best Batman book on the racks right now. Best for me, anyway, as I am much more of a fan of the gritty vigilante, rather than the globe-trotting super-spy, er, hero.

The Flash #11 $2.99
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and Cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
1:10 Variant Cover by SCOTT KOLINS

The road to FLASHPOINT is paved with good intentions, but the Flash is about to learn the truth behind those good intentions — and the secret of Hot Pursuit!

So, this series ends with the next issue...

Man, I am pissed, and I get more pissed every time I think about it. The Flash is a top-shelf character, and DC just keeps jerking him, and his fans, around. Yeah, yeah...Flashpoint.

Blow me.

I think I'll check back in when you re-start this baby. If you bring Wally West back as The Flash, so much the better.

Captain America #617 $3.99
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by BUTCH GUICE

Your monthly dose of Cap is now bigger than ever, as a new era begins! Now also starring STEVE ROGERS, SUPER-SOLDIER in a story that intertwines with, and complements, the main story, both written by Cap mastermind Ed Brubaker. Bucky's life takes a turn no one ever expected, but that's all top secret. Meanwhile, Steve Rogers faces a world without a Captain America.

We all know where this is headed, and Brubaker's done such a great job with this title, I'm OK with allowing him to work up to it. Steve Rogers will wield the shield again, just in time for your movie, and the corporate synergy mandated by said event.

And, OK, Marvel, I know you decided to keep up with the back-up features, and the $3.99 price point. I get it (doesn't excuse the Ultimate titles remaining that high with no added features, but....). Still, there is a reason I do not buy many Marvel titles, and it's because the SECOND you have a "hot" title, you raise the price. I can't afford a pull list full of $3.99 titles, I just can't.

Think about it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Is Kinda Amazing

The Avengers started shooting yesterday.

Yes, an honest-to-God superhero team-up movie is now shooting. With fairly big name stars attached. Tying together a actual Marvel Universe on film.

That is pretty amazing.

Now, I have been pretty vocal about what I think are problems in the Marvel Studios model, and I don't back down from those comments. That said, every fanboy in the world's little heart must've leapt a beat when Writer(?)/Director Joss Whedon blogged about starting. We are actually going to see The Avengers on film. That's undeniably cool, and exciting.

Oh, but Marvel? That picture you released today (see above)? It's pretty uninspiring, sorry.

But, here comes the $64,000 question that no one really wants to ask, and that it seems the assembled fandom doesn't even care about:

Will it be any good?

I actually have very little fear that it will be bad, I tend to have faith in Whedon, but there is a nagging sense of a problem with Marvel Studios and, in particular, how Kevin Feige is pushing this Marvel "cinematic universe." The company has a plan, which is always a good thing, but it also seems the plan is more important to the company than the people who are supposed to execute it.

I mean, we need only look to the whole Edward Norton debacle. Feige and Marvel simply kicked Norton to the curb because he was aggressive about trying to make The Incredible Hulk as good as possible. Sure, I bet Norton was difficult to work with at times, but the director, Louis Leterrier, seemed OK with it, and they even had a "directors cut" they collaborated on, and were apparently happy with...

But Marvel wasn't. Which I suppose is fine, they put up the cash. Still the tone, and vitriol spewed by Feige in his comments about Norton. Weird.

Now, Norton's out, and Mark Ruffalo is in. Which is cool with me, as I really like Ruffalo on film, but I also really liked Norton's Bruce Banner. I will always feel that was a dead-end that didn't have to be.

The whole Avengers cast is solid, and Whedon has lots of experience with ensemble casts that all need to get their moments, so I feel like he'll work that out. It's also been nice to see they way things have been layered in, and layered together, through the Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor to point us into The Avengers. It's been pretty well handled, if a bit too eager to stroke the fanboys.

The problem I see is going forward from this. Feige is out there talking about spinning Black Widow and Hawkeye out of The Avengers into their own films.

Trust me, the only people clamoring for a Hawkeye film are the 10 guys who show up for the "We LOVE Hawkeye" panel at Sand Diego Comi-Con every year, and half of them think it's got something to do with Alan Alda. No one in their right mind would be talking about a movie franchise about a character with A) no memorable villains to speak of, and B) an actor who's already got two other franchises in the gate.

Oh, wait...You can just replace him, and issue snarky press releases, right?

OK, that was a bit snarky of me, as well.

Honestly, the biggest hurdle facing Marvel Studios right now, are the fans themselves. I mean, it's becoming abundantly clear, at this point, that assembled fandom will fall all over themselves at the idea of their favorite comic being turned into a movie. They will do this to the point where they can't even remotely tell if the movie's any damn good or not.

That's the road to ruin, boys and girls.

Feige's comments in D23 just make it clear that your over-enthusiasm has bred an over-confidence. Those cheering fans in Hall H at San Diego are the bread and butter, sure...but they've also shown themselves to be willing to accept garbage. Accept it and lionize it as genius, vehemently, then turn around and call it crap six months later. The burst of excitement at release cannot hold.

For example: I almost got into fist fights upon release of Superman Returns, because I dared to say that, while I liked it (and still do), I thought it was too beholden to the Richard Donner film with Christopher Reeve. Now, the film seems universally reviled. I'd say unfairly.

We've evolved, as fans into "all or nothing" creatures. Everything is either awesome, or it sucks, and everything new is awesome. When, the fact is, almost everything is somewhere in the middle. It's this lack of true critical thinking that, eventually, leads to studios (not just Marvel), shoving out any bit of drivel, and expecting us to love it.

They start pushing a product, a plan, instead of trying to make each film as cohesive, and as good, as possible.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Road To Hell....

I *intended* to work on music yesterday. We didn't have a show, because of Easter, and I was going to hold up in my studio, try to work some stuff out.

Feeling very stagnant, musically, lately. I've been lazy, and not working when I had the chance. (been watching a lot of TV, though) I have been picking up the guitar, riffing a bit, unplugged, and I have some decent ideas. I just need to MAKE myself get up from in front of the damn TV, and go work on 'em.

Now, in all fairness to myself, it's not just the couch potato issue. I've also been trying to spend a LOT more time exercising between now and the Leapfest show I'm doing. I'm gonna have to be in various stages of undress during that, and playing a character who is fit, so I do feel some pressure to slim down. So, yeah...a lot more time on the bike in the evenings, these days.

(Of course, I also just stuffed a bag of jelly beans down my throat over lunch....*sigh* I REALLY love jelly beans.)

It's funny how life becomes these jigsaw puzzles of time. Little bits and pieces that take up such-and-such amount of time, and need to fit together with the other pieces that also take up such-and-such amount of time. I feel, sometimes, like my whole life is about working out a schedule.

Yeah, yeah...It starts to annoy me. When you're young, you think you'll fight tooth and nail to no be beholden to some idiot clock or schedule, and then, slowly, unrelentingly, you give up to it, little by little. Now, that sounds much more horrifying than it actually is, but I think it is true. Maybe there is a way to live without getting more and more regimented as you go along. Frankly, I think, as I've gotten older, regimentation has made me better at the things I want to do. More focus made me a better actor, a better guitarist. To deny that, is just cutting yourself (or, myself, I guess) off from a tool that is proving useful.

We had seventy-two folks on the books for The Copperhead this past Saturday, no clue how many were actually in the house. In any case, it was the largest audience so far. I hope that's a sign of good things to come. Some good people came out to see me, too. Sean H., Jeremy and Erica H., thanks, guys!

I am becoming aware of the impending close of the show. Three weekends left, and then...that's it. I try not to think about it too much, because there are many people in this cast who've become faces I really look forward to seeing. Knowing that I won't so often just sorta hangs out there.

That is the life, however, and we all know it. It is sad that the truly special ones can't hang out just a bit longer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tooting My Own Horn

OK, folks...we're back at it with The Copperhead tomorrow night, with four weekends left to go.

I know this is a broken record, but I am insanely proud of this show, and this cast. Even if no one else liked this show, it would be one of the best experiences of my career, so far. The fact that the critical responses have been far more positive than negative is simply the icing on the cake. At this point, I believe all of the reviews we expected to get have come in, so I feel safe posting a "review round-up."

Chicago Tribune – Three Stars
“The play has an enormous cast by modern standards, and Scambiatterra has filled it with actors who can handle the straight drama while finessing the funnier moments… Milt is the anchor throughout it all, and in the hands of actor Mark Pracht, he is a tall, strapping, stubborn American individualist who commands your attention with his measured words.”
- Nina Metz

Stead Style Chicago – Highly Recommended
“Making it all immediate and engrossing is Director Kathy Scambiattera, a wonderworker who brings out the best in the best...In a role first created by a young Lionel Barrymore, Mark Pracht plays the conflicted Milt with absolute authenticity, with solid support from a terrific 15-member cast.”
-Lawrence Bommer

The Chicago Reader – Recommended
“…capable actors invest unstintingly. It works. Confrontations between Shanks and his wife are searing, a proper young couple's first kiss is notably hot, and Mark Pracht's climactic monologue as Shanks is spellbinding.”
-Dan Weissmann

Chicago Critic – Highly Recommended 
“Mark Pracht’s excellent performance as the low-key Milt Shanks leads a terrific ensemble in a rarely produced classic American drama. The Copperhead does justice to the American Experience through a well structured play.”
-Tom Williams

Chicago Theater Blog – Three Stars 
“Scambiatterra elicits great performances from her strappy cast. Pracht does a fine job with the austere Shanks, remaining strong and level, while still revealing glimpses of vulnerability – we know he is still a human being in a crazy situation.”
- Barry Eitel

Windy City Times 
“…when the moment of our hero's redemption finally looms, the tension in the room is palpable.”
-Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage Chicago – Recommended, A “Must See” Show
“This is a play with some great performances as well as production values, and its dialogue, though written nearly a hundred years ago, is fresh, affecting and funny.”
-Rory Leahy

The Copperhead is a show you shouldn't miss. It's a tale well told by a talented cast and production team, and, frankly I'd tell you to see it even if I wasn't in it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Comic Day 4.20.2011

Welcome to a new week of comic buying. It's a nice, moderate week, but I think the time has come to let one series, I've been with for quite a while, go. It just ain't worth it.

Batman #709 $2.99
Written by DAVID HINE
Art and Cover by GUILLEM MARCH

This month's 3-part crossover with RED ROBIN and GOTHAM SIRENTS reaches its conclusion as Batman becomes Gotham City's last hope! Can he help the city avoid a cleansing scourge? Will the Angels of Death find one good man whose soul is pure? And what is the tragic secret in Dick Grayson's past that might doom Gotham? Guest-starring Red Robin, Catwoman and Ra's al Ghul!

Personally, I've always felt the Azrael/replacement Batman/avenging angel storyline was kinda uninteresting. The character served a specific purpose during the "Knightfall" storyline, being the hyper-dark, hyper-violent Batman that a lot of people were pushing for, and making a pretty solid case for NOT going that way with Bruce Wayne.

But since that story? Flatline, as far as I'm concerned. I'm honestly hoping that this mini-crossover will put the final nail in the Azrael coffin. I'd have no problem with that.

Green Lantern #65 (War of GLs) $2.99
Written by GEOFF JOHNS

The "War of the Green Lanterns" takes a shocking turn! With the entire Green Lantern Corps against them, the four Earthborn GLs make a choice that will rank among the most memorable in GL history. But not all of them agree on what has to be done and what lines are to be crossed. Plus, the countdown to the live-action film continues with another exclusive look at the upcoming GREEN LANTERN movie!

Here's the deal. I REFUSE to buy any title, that I normally wouldn't, in order for a crossover to make sense, period.  I will not be starting to pick up Green Lantern Corps just because half of this "War of the Green Lanterns" is in that book, I just won't. I didn't pick it up for Brightest Day or Blackest Night, either, and it just irks me that DC assumes I will. They even have an online checklist, so you know what you "have" to buy.

There used to be a unspoken trust, in all but very few situations, that you could read your title, and it would make sense if you just stuck with that one title. No longer, and, as much as I admire Geoff Johns as a writer, he's took a turn into a realm of annoyance with me. EVERYTHING the man writes these days appears to be tied to a crossover, and 10 other series. Top that off, he seems to not feel it's needed to recap, or make a single series read as a whole. I do not want, nor can I afford, to buy FOURTEEN miniseries to make sense of Flashpoint. I want to read The Flash.

Come on, DC.

Justice League of America #56 $2.99
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:10 Variant cover by DAVID MACK

"The Rise of Eclipso" continues as the JLA and the villainous lord of darkness have a showdown on the dark side of the moon!

Am I even going to buy this?

I've been talking about dropping this title for over a year. The artist I loved, Mark Bagley, is LONG gone. James Robinson's writing is less that inspiring on this title, and this Eclipso arc is already skewed because of the ramming off that "Doomsday-whatever" crossover into the last issue. (ANOTHER crossover....*sigh*)

I think it's time to cut. The. Cord.

I mean, you're not even trying with the solicit copy!!

The Spirit #13 $2.99
Written by DAVID HINE
Cover by LADRĂ–NN

It was a love at first sight when the cartel's assassin set eyes on Ellen Dolan, his target's daughter – though the feeling isn't exactly mutual! But you know what they say about love: If at first you don't succeed, kidnap your intended and build a perfect mechanical simulacrum!

Ahhhh...continuity-free stories featuring Will Eisner's The Spirit.

Books like this, and Jonah Hex, soothe my soul. Yeah, they suffer in sales because the pavlovian-response fanboys out there can't look past, "oh, it's a Flashpoint crossover!!" and see the great work being done on these titles month-in, month-out.

David Hine "gets" The Spirit, the noir trappings wrapped in pure, fun energy, and Moritat's art is classic, cartoony and cool. In other words, it feels like a work connected to Eisner's spirit (pardon the unintended pun). They're creeping very close to the level of genius that Darwyn Cooke hit with this character, but from a much different, and more hewing to Eisner, angle.

It's a great book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stuck In My Head 4.19.2011

Was listening to the 3 Alter Bridge albums on shuffle during my long trek to work this AM...

Watch Over You
By Alter Bridge

Leaves are on the ground
Fall has come
Blue skies turning gray
Like my love

I tried to carry you
And make you whole
But it was never enough
I must go

Who is gonna save you
When I'm gone?
And who'll watch over you
When I'm gone?

You say you care for me
But hide it well
How can you love someone
And not yourself?


And when I'm gone
Who will break your fall?
Who will you blame?

I can't go on
And let you lose it all
It's more than I can take
Who'll ease your pain?
Ease your pain

Who is gonna save you when I'm gone?
Who'll watch over you?
Who will give you strength when you're not strong.
Who'll watch over you when I've gone away?

Snow is on the ground
Winters come
You long to hear my voice
But I'm long gone

My Guitar Just Keeps LOOKING at Me

Hello my dear and faithful readers. Sorry about a missing Monday post, I'll try to make up for it.

Tuesday has been quite hellish, so far. First there was a whole issue with the CTA that ended up putting me something like an hour and a half late for work. Not to mention, standing, waiting for various buses, in a pouring rain. I swear to God, if I get sick before we swing back into The Copperhead for the weekend...

Speaking of which, we got our first really awful review today, which didn't help my mood when I finally got to work, sopping wet. You can't expect everyone to love everything you do. I LOVE this show, I love this cast, many people have embraced it, and the other reviews we've gotten, as well as our Jeff Recommendation, support that. So, y'know, blow off.


I NEED to get back to work on recording and writing. I try to pick up the Les Paul every day, and mess around with some riffs I've got going, but I've been unable to find a lot of time to really get down to business. Plus, I've sorta come to a point where I have to start finishing stuff. When I have managed to work on music, I've been spending more time transcribing than anything else, and that's really not all that much fun. It has to be done, for certain, because I'm not going to get into another Where Have All the Heroes Gone situation, where I can barely remember how to play any of the songs. (If at all.)

The guitar just STARES at me. Really! It's true! She sits over there, on her stand, constantly judging me. "Why aren't we making music? You've got some decent riffs in your head." Of course, there's quite a few non-decent ones, too.

Work must progress. It's an imperative.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Random Friday Rundown

The work week is wrapping up, and another weekend of The Copperhead is before me. I'll make another appeal to those in Chicago to make an effort to see it. The critical response (so far) has been very positive. We've also been Jeff recommended, which is always a nice thing.

Been listening to the new Foo Fighters release, Wasting Light. Good stuff, generally. I mean, I don't think it's anywhere near as good as There is Nothing Left to Lose, which is my personal favorite of their catalog, but it's a very solid rock album. I think tracks 1-7 of  There is Nothing Left to Lose might be the best sustained run of album tracks in the last 20 years, so it's a mountain almost impossible to climb (with me).

Still, there's a lot of people out there who will disagree on that score. Wasting Light is certainly less aggressively "poppy" than  TINLTL, the songs aren't so much constructed around hooks. Plenty of people will immediately take that as meaning it's a better record. I don't, but then I don't really "get" Radiohead, either.

Which will, undoubtedly, make me Satan in a lot of folks eyes.

I do find Wasting Light very, very listenable, more so that Colour & The Shape or, especially, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. Albums that are good, solid records, but don't leap up and say "listen to me!" when I'm thumbing through the Zune.

I'm also amused with the whole story behind the album, recording on analog equipment in Dave Grohl's garage. It's a cool story, but I'm a little tired of that being held up as a reason why the album is good. Yes, analog produces a slightly warmer sound (audiophiles are grabbing knives right now due to my use of "slightly"), but that doesn't mean a damn thing.

A great album is a great album. Doesn't matter if it's recorded on reel-to-reel or Pro Tools, because you can get great sounding albums in either case. The songwriting and the performance is what makes a great record. Production just illuminates the material you have. Yes, yes, poor production can kill an awesome set of tunes, but a track list full of turds is still going to be a track list full of turds. A shit song with terrific production is just a shit song that sounds great.

Speaking of which...

Now that my show is open, I need to get my ass in gear on the new CD. I've got good, solid takes on 3 tracks, and one (the millstone around my neck known as "Zep") that needs to be torn down and built back up. I know there's something really good in there, I just need to find it.

Outside of that, I've been working on tracks, and transcribing them. I found a great piece of freeware that allows me to do tablature on the computer. (Yeah, I don't read music...Shame on me) It's pretty damn slick, and it lets me put together readable tabs (and real notation) for my guitar and basslines. Which is really useful since I'm still fully intending to bring in an outside bassist, and while I don't expect him to hew exactly to what I have, it'll give him an idea to work from.

I am sad I've been unable to play, really, for weeks. I do pick up the unplugged Les Paul and work out riffs all the time. I've also got pages and pages of lyric ideas in my notebook. The material is building, and I'm still hopeful to have it finished and "released" by my birthday in August.

Also got the Blu-Rays of season 4 of Mad Men....So awesome. That show just kicks my ass.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Comic Day 4.13.2011

I'm truly hoping things'll get back to normal soon. With the show open, perhaps a bit more free time.

(I actually went OUTSIDE for lunch today! I wasn't hold up in a corner of the office somewhere going over lines)

There will be very little commentary today, mainly because, with a lot of these titles, I haven't been able to read the last issue. Yes, the "need to read" stack is pretty damn huge, at this point. So, before Chad starts whining about no comments....I'll ask you to indulge me for one more week.

Batman and Robin #22 $2.99
Written by PETER J. TOMASI
1:10 Variant cover by GENE HA

"Dark Knight, White Knight," part three of three! As The White Knight makes his final, bright stand against the darkness and corruption of Gotham City, Batman and Robin find themselves trapped in a war of good and evil . . . but no matter who wins, the Dark Knight's city will surely suffer!

 I can't even remember what's happening in this book, anymore.

Booster Gold #43 $2.99

Coming to grips with all he's seen and done, Booster Gold makes the biggest decision of all times – do it for the glory . . . or just do it. Is this the start of a new Booster?


The Flash #10 (Flashpoint) $2.99
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
1:10 Variant cover by SCOTT KOLINS

The prelude to next summer's FLASHPOINT event continues! The new speedster known as Hot Pursuit has arrived on his Cosmic Motorcycle, but what terrible warning has he brought with him? The FLASHPOINT is closing in, and it looks like no one will be safe!

Here's a way to see how far behind this book is. It's sporting the "unified" cover that was on the whole DC line, what? Two months ago?

I can't wait until the one shows up on The Dark Knight, sometime next year.

You're right. I'm ignoring the whole "Flashpoint" business...because it makes my ass ache.

Red Robin #22 $2.99

In the first part of a 3-part crossover with GOTHAM CITY SIRENS and BATMAN this month, Gotham City faces final judgment as the Angels of Death seek to spare the city by finding one person who is without sin. After putting Red Robin through physical and emotional trials, have they found the city's salvation? What is the one thing they learn about Tim Drake that might change their minds? Guest-starring Catwoman and Batman! 

Great. A Gotham City Sirens crossover...Way to remind me why I dropped that book.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #157 $3.99
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Mark Bagley

It is the shot heard around the world. Witness the issue comic fans be talking about all year. leave your cynicism at the door... this is the real deal. TheDeath of Spider-Man. Bendis and Bagley reunite for this historic Spider-Man event a decade in the making. 

You can certainly tell Bagley's back. This title's coming out every 2 weeks, again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stuck In My Head 4.12.2011

One last show related "Stuck In My Head" before opening.

This one's a good one, pretty much on the nose.

Long Walk Home
By Bruce Springsteen

Last night I stood at your doorstep
Trying to figure out what went wrong
You just slipped somethin' into my palm
Then you were gone
I could smell the same deep green of summer
Above me the same night sky was glowin'
In the distance I could see the town where I was born

It's gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
A long walk home

In town I passed Sal's grocery
The barbershop on South Street
I looked into their faces
They were all rank strangers to me
The veterans' hall high up on the hill
Stood silent and alone
The diner was shuttered and boarded
With a sign that just said "gone"

It's gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It's gonna be a long walk home

Here everybody has a neighbor
Everybody has a friend
Everybody has a reason to begin again

My father said "Son, we're lucky in this town
It's a beautiful place to be born
It just wraps its arms around you
Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone.
That you know flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't."

Its gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It's gonna be a long walk home

Its gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
Hey pretty Darling, don't wait up for me
Gonna be a long walk home
It's gonna be a long walk home

It's gonna be a long walk home

Tonight We Break Legs

In case you're wondering, I'm Foghorn Leghorn.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stuck In My Head 4.11.2011

Not quite up to a full post, yet, this week.

The first 3 previews of The Copperhead went pretty damn well, from where I was sitting. Thanks to those folks that came out to see it, I am truly, truly thankful for your support. Tomorrow will bring our official opening night, and hopefully reviews will follow soon after.

I feel engaged and energized, creatively, and today's stuck in my head reflects that.


By Rush - Lyrics by Neil Peart

Hold your fire,
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame 'til the dream ignites
A spirit with a vision is a dream
With a mission

I hear their passionate music
Read the words that touch my heart
I gaze at their feverish pictures
The secrets that set them apart

When I feel the powerful visions
Their fire has made alive
I wish I had that instinct
I wish I had that drive

Spirits fly on dangerous missions
Imaginations on fire
Focused high on soaring ambitions
Consumed in a single desire

In the grip of a nameless possession
A slave to the drive of obsession
A spirit with a vision is a dream
With a mission.

I watch their images flicker
Bringing light to a lifeless screen
I walk through their beautiful buildings
And I wish I had their dreams
But dreams don't need to have motion
To keep their spark alive
Obsession has to have action
Pride turns on the drive

It's cold comfort
To the ones without it
To know how they struggled
How they suffered about it
If their lives were exotic and strange
They would likely have gladly exchanged them
For something a little more plain
Maybe something a little more sane

We each pay a fabulous price
For our visions of paradise
But a spirit with a vision is a dream
With a mission.

What Blogging Really Feels Like

I generally think Stephan Pastis and Pearls Before Swine is brilliant. This absolutely is:

Pearls Before Swine

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stuck In My Head 4.8.2011

Another one dedicated to Milt Shanks

Devils & Dust

By Bruce Springsteen

I got my finger on the trigger
But I don't know who to trust
When I look into your eyes
There's just devils and dust
We're a long, long way from home, Bobbie
Home's a long, long way from us
I feel a dirty wind blowing
Devils and dust

I got God on my side
I'm just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Fear's a powerful thing
It can turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God filled soul
And fill it with devils and dust

Well I dreamed of you last night
In a field of blood and stone
The blood began to dry
The smell began to rise
Well I dreamed of you last night
In a field of mud and bone
Your blood began to dry
The smell began to rise

We've got God on our side
We're just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Fear's a powerful thing
It'll turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust

Now every woman and every man
They want to take a righteous stand
Find the love that God wills
And the faith that He commands
I've got my finger on the trigger
And tonight faith just ain't enough
When I look inside my heart
There's just devils and dust

Well I've got God on my side
And I'm just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Fear's a dangerous thing
It can turn your heart black you can trust
It'll take your God filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust

It'll take your God filled soul

Fill it with devils and dust

No, Art Shouldn't Be Easy

"There's no making ['Tom Sawyer'] easier to play - it still takes everything I've got. To get the right sound and feel, a drum part like 'Tom Sawyer' requires full-force, blunt-object pounding with hands and feet, but there's also a demanding level of technique, smoothness, and concentration. Playing 'Tom Sawyer' properly - or as close as I can get on a given night - requires full mental, technical, and physical commitment, and I can?t imagine there would be any way to make that kind of output easier. And if you ask me, it shouldn't be. If it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be satisfying to get it right!" - Neil Peart, "Thus Spoke Neil" Drum Magazine, June 2009

Most writers I know run that idiotic number about "Oh, I like to have written but I don't like to write. It's hard work."... Of course it's hard work. If it weren't hard work, everybody would be doing it. And the better you do it, the harder the work is... Art is supposed to be hard.- Harlan Ellison, Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Where the Work Pays Off

We'll have an audience for The Copperhead tonight.

It's kinda funny, I don't think I've been this excited to open a show in a long while. I'm dying to see how people react to it. I think it's an interesting choice to kick off City Lit's Civil War Project, and I really don't know how people will react to it.

...And I don't care.

I know I bring up One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a lot, probably too much, but it was a really profound experience for me. There were moments I had on stage with that show that still come back to me, vividly. I knew, early on, it was going to be a quality experience.

From the first read The Copperhead gave me a very similar feeling. Playing McMurphy and playing Milt Shanks are very different experiences, but the fulfillment I get, as an actor, is in the same realm. They both represent something iconic and American, to me. Both men asked me to believe and act on a confidence I would certainly not feel, in the situations they were in, places that I would be too afraid to go in "real life." That is a tremendous gift, and terrifying all at the same time.

I hope everyone sees this play, I hope the entire city comes out, but, even if no one does, I'll be content to walk this stage, and live this life in front of an empty theatre. I've always said I did this work for myself, and that the audience was a secondary consideration, for me. (As much as they can be...I'm not that big an egomaniac.) Sometimes you need a show, and an experience, like this to really put that into focus, and coming right now, at this point in my life, it is very, very welcome.

Of course, no show, no production is mounted alone, and the team assembled for this show was fantastic on every level. I cannot thank any of you enough for the joy, the confidence, and the camaraderie. I hope I have added to a rewarding experience of your own.

Our Cast:
Gannon Reedy, Judith Hoppe, Kate Tummelson, Thad Anzur, Susie Griffith, Grace Melon, Jon Stutzman, Kevin Gladish, Robert Dean, Miguel Cohen and Ed Krystosek.

Our Crew:
Set- Aaron Menninga, Lights - Jess Harpenau, Costume - Ricky Lurie, Props - Matthew Cummings, and Make Up - Jeffrey Lyle Segal

Our Fearless Leadership:
Director - Kathy Scambiatterra, Asst. Director - Peter Connors, and Stage Manager - Jordan Fleming

And the Fine Folks at City Lit:
Terry McCabe, Brian Pastor, Shawna Tucker and Katy Nielsen

If it isn't clear enough, I really want you to come see this show.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stuck in My Head - 4.7.2011

A little Creedence for final dress, which somehow seems appropriate.

Who'll Stop The Rain

By John Fogerty
As Performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Long as I remember the rain been comin' down
Clouds of myst'ry pourin' confusion on the ground
Good men through the ages tryin' to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain

I went down Virginia seekin' shelter from the storm
Caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow
Five year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain

Heard the singers playin', how we cheered for more
The crowd had rushed together tryin' to keep warm
Still the rain kept pourin', fallin' on my ears
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Comic Day 4.6.2011

Look, I'm just gonna call off the review blog until after The Copperhead (less than a week from Opening Night!) is open. I mean, I just picked up my books for the last 2 weeks on Monday, haven't even cracked 'em, and now I'll have three more.

I WILL get back to it, have no fear, but I need to take that off the plate until the rest of my life slows down a bit. Hey, trust me, this isn't the only part of my life in a bit of a holding pattern. I keep trying to give myself times to work on music, and it just....slides by.

Previews this weekend, opening next Tuesday, and maybe back to a bit of normal.

Brightest Day #23 $2.99
1:10 Variant Covers by IVAN REIS

It's the beginning of the end as we head toward the epic conclusion to BRIGHTEST DAY! The mystery of the heroes' return and the secrets of the white forest are revealed! Plus, Captain Boomerang draws closer to completing his mission! And at last, it's Firestorm vs. Deadman!

I'm gonna tell you what, the spoiler I read today for this series/event just pissed me off. It was the (supposed) identity of the White Lantern/guardian of Earth, and it was an established DC character, yes, but also one who hadn't, even tangentially,  been related to this series, or Blackest Night, or really anything in the DCU for YEARS.

It's utterly annoying. It's been a year of following this set group of characters, and here we are with 4 issues (including this one) to go, and not only do I have absolutely ZERO sense of what the hell the point of this story was, but we're going to pull a rabbit out of the hat and drop in a new character too wrap the story up with.

Y'know what that says to me? that this "event" could've been 4 issues long.

Brightest Day = Epic Fail, DC. EPIC.

Jonah Hex #66 $2.99
Art and cover by FIONA STAPLES

The people of Casket Canyon seemed so excited to have Jonah Hex for dinner. That's because he doesn't suspect that he's supposed to be the main course! With a horrific snowstorm brewing outside and hungry cannibals at the door, Jonah Hex finds himself with one foot in the grave and the other on the dining-room table. And if the cannibals don't kill him, the cold will! Featuring the work of up and coming artist Fiona Staples (NORTH 40)! 

Oh, man...Look at that cover! That's fantastic.

Look, after thinking about Brightest Day, all I can think/say when Jonah Hex comes to mind is:


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

It’s super-soldier versus super-soldier as Cap and Nuke throw down. With Captain America being pushed to his limits, there’s no telling which soldier will come out standing. Superstar dream team of Jason Aaron and Ron Garney tell an explosive tale you won’t be able to put down! 

This series has really worked for me, but I have to admit, my enjoyment is based, in large part, on an expectation that Ultimate Cap's run-in with Nuke might re-direct him more toward the Steve Rogers of the mainstream Marvel Universe. I have to admit, I have grown weary of the "assholeification" of the Ultimate Marvel characters, and only Ultimate Spider-Man seems immune.

We'll see how Aaron wraps it up, the story could go either way for me, I think. Right at the end.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day Off

I took today off from work, because I was supposed to have tonight off from rehearsal before the big push into dress rehearsals and previews, into opening next Tuesday.

Alas, due to circumstances beyond control...we might have rehearsal tonight.

I've done NOTHING today. I was going to get up, work out, do laundry, and work on music.

It's just after two PM, and nothing is done...well, laundry's started anyway.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Stuck in My Head 4.1.2011

The most amusing comment I've heard about this song, so far is something to the effect of, "just great straight ahead rock, like in the 90's." That made me laugh, because Foo Fighters, and this song especially reminds me more of the 80's than anything else.


By The Foo Fighters

This indecision's got me climbing up the walls
I've been cheating gravity and waiting on the falls
How did this come over me, I thought I was above it all
Our hopes gone up in smoke, swallow your crown

On a kiss, I thought I'd save my breath for you
On a kiss, I thought I'd save my breath for you

Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm hanging on you
Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm pulling for you now
Give me some rope I'm coming, out of my head, into the clear
When you go I come loose

These premonitions got me crying up a storm
Leave your condition, this position does no harm

On a kiss, I thought I'd save my breath for you
On a kiss, I thought I'd save my breath for you

Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm hanging on you
Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm pulling for you now
Give me some rope I'm coming, out of my head, into the clear
When you go I come loose

Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm hanging on you
Give me some rope I'm coming loose, I'm pulling for you now
Give me some rope I'm coming, out of my head, into the clear
When you go I come loose