Mental Flotsam, Mental Jetsam

Because the only thing that beats going crazy is going crazy with somebody else

Friday, April 29, 2005

Loathing, Thy Name Is The Six Flags Old Guy

You’ve seen the commercials: The commercials for Six Flags featuring an old man that starts dancing up a storm to one of the most annoying songs I’ve heard in a while. Despite the quality of the make-up job (I think a latex mask was involved), I know it’s not really an old man. You know it’s not really an old man. But he’s still there. Dancing. Riding on roller coasters. Getting soaking wet on water rides. And then he starts dancing through the park with Bugs Bunny and the Tazmanian Devil.

There’s something about really stupid advertising that pushes my buttons quite successfully. The use of this old guy dancing… is at the top of the ‘stupid advertising’ list. Six Flags couldn’t get a celebrity endorsement (like Cal Ripken). They couldn’t come up with a catchy slogan or two. So they invented a mascot. A very stupid mascot. The raison d’etre of the mascot is to embody the essence of whatever he/she/it is representing. Sports teams have the lion’s share of them, many of which aren’t even recognizable as characters, or animals. They’re just inanimate objects with legs and a smiley face pasted on. That’s fine.

Six Flags didn’t do that. No sir. “Sixxy the Flagging Fellow”, a misshapen collection of six colorful flags bound together with duct tape (yet still bearing the requisite smiley face and legs) didn’t make it past the drawing board. That in itself is a real shame, because I think Sixxy still would have made a better choice for mascot than the Old Guy. Who dances.

It doesn’t help the song the Old Guy’s dancing an epileptic jig to, was last used by the Kid’s WB for a short-lived campaign “I Want Da Puddy” sung by Tweety Bird. In that song, Tweety Bird sings about Sylvester the pussy cat, or ‘puddy tat’. Presumably for being a hair’s breadth away from being grossly inappropriate, the commercial was yanked shortly after originally airing. I’m not making this up.

To compound things, there’s a cardboard cut-out of the same old man at my place of business. I’m not kidding. On the off chance I have to use that hallway, he’s standing there with that grin on his face, waiting to be punched about the head. I haven’t punched him because the cardboard cut-out does not belong to me. That, and until the proper voodoo rituals have been cast on his likeness, I doubt very strongly that the genuine article would feel me committing acts of violence to his effigy.

Regardless: I hate the Old Guy. I hate his dancing. I hate the song. And I’m starting to hate Six Flags for orchestrating the whole wretched thing to begin with. And now I feel better.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Man Who Would Be King

There’s a movie I’ve been trying to track down for some time now; since I saw about an hour of it on AMC over a year ago. The Man Who Would Be King. Bam.

This flick has it all, or at least most of it. I love character-driven stories, especially those with a small, tightly-knit cast. Sleuth, True West, Mystery of Irma Vep, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Waiting for Godot, (hell, even Beaches) all have something in common: The majority (or all) of the action goes on between only two actors. Man Who Would Be King just joined the list.

Michael Caine (yay!) and Sean Freakin’ Connery play a pair of scoundrels seeking their fortunes off the charted map, into the Indian country of Kafiristan. It’s not long before Connery is mistaken for a god (involving a one-in-a-million shot with an arrow), and he and Caine decide to exploit the myth.

I love this flick. I’ve only seen it once and I already love this flick. True, Caine and Connery have cast-mates numbering in the thousands (the natives of Kafiristan), but the natives are more a force of nature than an entity of individuals. None of them can be understood without a damned-convenient-to-be-on-hand translator, but their reactions to our duo’s ministrations and schemes can be discerned even without understanding the local language.

I’m not going to spoil the story if you haven’t seen it, or read Rudyard Kipling’s short story on which it’s based. Just go rent it. If you’re an earnest fan of Michael Caine or Sean Connery, go ahead and buy the thing.

(Note: on the DVD of Shaun of the Dead, another newly-minted favorite, the cast does a tribute called “The Man Who Would Be Shaun”. The Caine imitation is spot on, and the Connery is passable.)

I do a pretty good Sean Connery imitation, myself. Michael Caine’s voice has eluded me so far, but if I could ever master it, I could do The Man Who Would Be King as a radio drama all by my onesies. How's that for a slice of fried gold...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And I Could Really Use A Cigar

You know that feeling you get when someone mentions something like a particular beverage or snack and then all of a sudden, you want one yourself? The brakes on a freight train couldn’t stop you from thinking, “Man. That would really hit the spot.”

I want a cigar. One was just mentioned and now I’m thinking I’d like one. This is not entirely out of the blue. I’ve been enjoying cigars for years, off and on, when my budget has allowed them. I even bought a box of Romeo Y Julietas once, and it was gone in little over a month. I could really go for a cigar right now.

Before you turn up your nose and say something to the effect of “Ew, yuck, how disgusting,” et cetera, please note that there are plenty of worse habits I could indulge. (Like inhaling smoke, for starters.) Cigars are a great way to unwind, to reduce a small amount of stress. They take time out of your day that you can use to read, talk with a friend, or just get some fresh air. Well. Relatively fresh air, after the stogie’s been lit.

The cigar is a lot like coffee. Neither happens by accident. Both require careful selection of a crop and then the repeated application of heat and other processes to get to something that is an acquired taste. They come in a variety of blends and flavors. The unenlightened non-coffee drinker takes a sip and thinks “Hmm. Bitter.” The unenlightened cigar hater takes one sniff and thinks “Hmph. Smoke.”

I’m not alone in my enjoyment of a good cigar. It’s rare, but I have known women who also enjoyed the smell (if not actually smoking cigars themselves), or at least said they did. The majority of them had a father or grandfather who used to smoke cigars and the scent was a fond reminder.

Cigars are something to have in common with a friend. It gives you another thing to talk about, should a topic be lacking. It’s also an effective way to get rid of annoying company.

In any case. In the last few years I’ve always made sure that no-one in the immediate vicinity had any complaints about my enjoying one. I’ve tried to be considerate to the people around me. And if you don’t like them, and I’m with you, I won’t have one. It is only a cigar after all.

Still. I would really enjoy one right now…

Monday, April 25, 2005

Great Job, Leta!

I caught a show of Independence yesterday at the Silver Spring Stage. It was a small cast featuring Martha Abrams, Sharon Morey, Maura Stadem and Leta Hall. All four did a terrific job with a script penned by a guy who has a real talent for writing women. I could feel the tenuous relationships between the sisters, and with their mother.

Maura did a bang-up job as the very free-spirited Sherry, youngest daughter of the family. I worked with Maura last fall in Proof and it was great to see her back at the SSS. Leta's Kess was a very credible moderator, trying to find a balance between saying what's necessary to retain what little sanity the household has, and doing what's right to see that the family survives itself.

I took a class for a few weeks earlier this year with Martha Abrams, who played the mater familias Evelyn. Her intensity was sobering, and made me grateful for my own family which has a slightly smaller number of cuckoos. Sharon Morey did a wonderful job as the passive-aggressively repressed daughter Jo, who was struggling with her own deadlines.

A very good play that has only one more weekend, I highly recommend it. Go check it out, and tell Leta Casey said hi.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Insert Product Placement Here:

Man. I’m fully aware that it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but that doesn’t change the fact that I could really go for a pizza right now. If I had my druthers I’d order from Papa John’s. That stuff is cheesy heroin.

What can I say? I know what I like. Kung Pao Chicken at China Harvest. That Chicken Carbonara sandwich from Quizno’s. Good lord. It’s as if God just dropped a few recipe’s down to the mortals in charge of said establishments and whispered, “Psst. This is really good! Try making it.”

I love to eat. (The Master of the Obvious has reclaimed his title.) I love getting that feeling of being full. I love the first bite and I love the last one. I love extra cheese on a pizza with thin slices of ham… Not just for comfort food, but for when I feel like treating myself, which isn’t spectacularly often.

I like a good mild cigar, like a Romeo y Julieta or a Montecristo. I like a glass of bourbon on the rocks. I like sitting outside on a warm day with one of both and a magazine I haven’t read or a good book. A cold pint in a glass would also do just fine… (Drinking beer out of a glass rather than straight from the bottle is a habit I picked up from Beth.)

Hot coffee. Cold orange juice. Hot bagel. Cold beer. Hot pizza. Iced tea. Spicy chicken. Sweet green tea. Hot cigar (obviously). Cold whisky. Crisp apple. Cold milk.. Mmmm. Good times. Good times.

Dang. So many appetites, so little time. That, and so little money to buy that which would satisfy said appetites. Such is life.

Could still *really* go for a pizza, though.

Monday, April 18, 2005

I Miss Irma Vep. *Sniff*

Well, it’s done. The Mystery of Irma Vep’s run has come to its inevitable close. And I really, really miss it.

I’ve been doing this acting thing for a number of years, now. High School, College (granted it was largely Guard duty), professionally and non, I’ve done plenty of shows. Most of them were fun, a lot of work and memorable; but when they were put to bed, I didn’t dwell on it and I moved on with ease.

I haven’t been this attached to a show since High School. The Crucible was the spring show and our last chance to act as Seniors. Half of us were fighting tears at the final curtain. We knew we weren’t going to work together again. I think it had more to do with that sense of finality and less to do with the play.

This time it’s both. I loved working with Nano, Bruce, Joyce, Kat and Kim, Gina, Stan, Austin, Tori, Kevin, John, Mike, everybody. Nobody had an attitude or gave less than their level best. And the play itself… I have never had as much fun, just doing what I do best. The chemistry with Nano was effortless. The crowds that came in had a great time and they showed it. Family, friends, and even co-workers showed their support by filling seats. It was a terrific work out, to boot.

I think what I’ll miss most was the tangible bond we had with the audience, every night. I could feel it. Touch it. Pull it a little or give it some slack. Nano and I had the audience in our hands, and we were given license to run with them. Even when something went wrong, and we were forced to adapt and ad lib as the circumstances demanded; the crowd loved it and called for more. It was nothing short of beautiful.

And now it’s over. Even though I’m not currently working on any new plays, I know it’s only a matter of time. Regardless: I’m left with the satisfaction of finishing a job well done, with new friends and great memories to savor.

I kind of wish I’d stolen the wooden leg when I had the chance, though. Talk about a conversation piece.


A Strange, Strange Dream

I know people who have never been able to remember their dreams after they wake up. It’s just not something they’re able to do. I can usually remember mine for at least a few hours, and the truly vivid ones; I’ve never forgotten.

This morning’s was a doozy. Nothing profound or anything in it, but still worthy of note; so here it goes. I dreamt I was an administrative assistant in the Galactic Empire. Yes, the Star Wars Galactic Empire. That one. We have our own theme music. The CEO will kill you as soon as look at you.

I had my own desk (gray and red were the predominate themes in the office, but I don’t recall having a uniform). I was minding my own business when I got a communiqué that informed me that the Emperor needed a document printed out for a PowerPoint presentation he was going to be making later that day. However, the Empire didn’t use Windows so I was a bit harried to find the right file and print it out before the meeting took place. Nick of time stuff.

I was waiting for a very large elevator to arrive, when I noticed a little girl standing in the hallway. It was Nano’s (my costar from Irma Vep) youngest daughter. She had no earthly business being in an Imperial building, let alone my subconscious. She asked me what I was doing, and I told her I was delivering some important papers to someone important. She rolled her eyes at me, shook her head with disbelief, and walked off. I noted that it was weird but thought nothing more of it.

The elevator arrived and I was ferried to the conference room du jour. It was large and cylindrical, not entirely unlike the Senate hall from the first two episodes. I tried to look nonchalant as possible putting the paperwork on the main desk, before slipping out. I didn’t get that far. Someone tapped me on the shoulder (just another Imperial grunt) and said I was invited to stay for the meeting. Eeeeeep.

I sat down for the meeting at a small desk and waited. Sure enough, Palpatine (looking younger than he does in Jedi) appeared, and got on a podium that started hovering around the room. It seemed like he was making an introductory speech to a large group of new employees. Way to be hands on with the staff, your worship.

It was at this point he mentioned a zero-tolerance policy on corporate espionage (as if the Empire were simply a large conglomerate), especially after the debacle with the first Death Star. To prove he was serious, he pointed at some poor schmuck with an unwelcome camera in his hands (another new employee) and fried him on the spot with lighting coursing from his hands. Way to be hands on with the staff, your worship.

He thanked us for our attention, welcomed us to the company, and zoomed away. Moments from being woken up by my alarm, all I could think was: He never even touched the papers I brought him. Oy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Not Buying Corduroy Again Any Time Soon

I’ve never considered myself thin. I’ve got some weight to me. I’ve never considered myself fat, either. Saturday, my pants didn’t share that opinion.

Irma Vep ended last night. (More on that later *sniff*.) Our producer and personal Wonder Woman Gina threw the closing party at her place. After stopping at a 7-11 to pick up the token chips and beer (neither of which ended up being needed, hooray for bountiful parties), I was getting back into my friend’s car and tchrrrriiip!

I froze. My friend, McCall, looked at me with eyes and mouth agape. I put down my parcels, and found out that the corduroy slacks I’d worn decided to make like an atom and split. The rip was huge. I called my best friend, Pedro, and asked if he wouldn’t mind bringing me a pair of pants. (I’ve been crashing with Chris for the last few nights since it saved on mileage to the theatre and also, he’s my best friend.)

McCall drove us from the 7-11 to the theatre, and she was laughing the entire way. Her stomach hurt she was laughing so much. Oy.

I got new pants. The old pants (ruined past the point of salvage) went in Gina’s trash. I told McCall: Any party where a pair of pants ends up in the trash is my kind of party.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Traffic Hilarity Ensues

You know—there are times when I have a tiny moment of fear for the future of our country… and this apprehension stems from the concern that certain people are going to go out and start having babies. And that these babies are going to grow up to be just as smart as their mommas and poppas. **Sarcasm Detector Explodes**

On my drive to work this morning, one street was having work done, evidently involving steel plates. Noting the orange diamond-shaped caution signs, I made sure my eyes were peeled. A man in an orange vest was standing off to the side of the road, with that useful two-sided sign that has ‘Stop’ on one side and ‘Drive Slowly’ on the other. The Stop sign was facing me, or if you want to get specific it was facing my side of the traffic.

I stopped. I stopped abruptly, actually. A minivan two cars back got impatient and pulled around, which I thought was not only rude, but unsafe as the guy was standing there with his- wait. He turned the sign. Not all the way around, just halfway, to show that he wasn’t on duty, and traffic was flowing normally. And he gave me a look like he hadn’t done anything wrong and was actually wondering why I stopped in the first place.

Dude. You have *one* job. That job is to hold a sign that essentially says stop or go. The vest, the helmet, and orange caution signs around sort of put you in charge of traffic; and if it’s not the time to do your job, please try harder not to be doing your job by accident.

I couldn’t help but think of that scene from the Police Academy movie (I forget which one) where the normal-looking cop in glasses is directing traffic during a power outage with glowing batons. A bee gets too close to him and he tries swatting at it… with his glowing batons. Traffic hilarity ensues.

Don’t be that guy, dude. Even through inaction, please don’t be that guy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Scotty, two to—Scotty? Dammit.

I left my cell phone at home today. By accident. Got up, looked at it, grabbed my watch, neglected to grab my phone, got dressed, went to work. (I also neglected to grab a Polly-O String Cheese for my lunch, but that’s hardly as relevant.)

I actually feel a little naked without my phone. How crazy is that? I’m not a long-winded phone conversationalist, I prefer to chat with people in person, but- without that little silver doohickey clipped to my belt, I know that I can’t call anyone, even if I want to. If I get stuck in an emergency today, I’m screwed, so keep fingers crossed. I locked myself out of my car the other day, but thankfully had my phone with me, so I called my Momma for an extra one. And by extra one, I am referring to an extra KEY. Definitely can’t let anything happen like that today-- Where are my keys?

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Certain Curse

Anyone who’s worked in Theatre for even a moderate amount of time knows about it. If you say the ‘M’ word inside a theatre, you are begging the drama gods to make something go wrong during the show. If not something truly bad or worse, like a physical injury. I’ve seen it happen, more than once. In any case, this curse has been known to extend to even *quoting* the Scottish Play.

The Mystery of Irma Vep has been far and away my favorite show to do. If I ever get the chance, I’m going to do it again. Something that had to be pointed out to me because it’s been ages since I read the bloody thing: Irma Vep uses quotes from the play of Shakespeare’s regarding a married couple of ambitious Scots. That, then, explains the fact that in nearly every performance, something has gone wrong.

Usually a technical thing, sometimes it’s something little and barely noticeable, and before you know it we’ve moved on. Other times it affects the dialogue if it’s a very important prop. The audience knows something is up, and the can’t help but howl with laughter. Can’t say I blame ‘em.

Here’s the thing, though. In this show, it’s *okay* for things to go a little awry. My beard has fallen off twice onstage, as the Egyptian guide Alcazar. Nano saved the day by calling it the ‘Curse of the Follicles’. We had a field day working around a sarcophagus that wouldn’t stay closed when it was rather important it did, and even more fun with an electric candle that was supposed to be burning steadfastly through the first act that we couldn’t get to light to save our lives. None of these things are anyone’s fault. They just happen. And it’s hilarious when it does.

Take last night, for example. In the 3rd act, my character Enid has taken to playing a dulcimer. In a fit of anger, Nano’s character Lord Edgar took a step too close to the chair the dulcimer was under and he accidentally kicked it. Loudly. A smile crept onto his face, and I repeated my line, a question to him, as if he had been struck dumb. The audience ate it up. Later, when he handed me the instrument to calm down, saying “Play your dulcimer, darling,” I couldn’t help but reply “If it still works!” Again, the audience was in hysterics.

My point is this: I think we may have the curse licked. Irma Vep is the kind of show with the elbow room to improvise should something not go right. It’s a very technical show, relying on a trap door or two, pyrotechnics, over 100 well-timed sound cues, and more props than we sometimes know what to do with. And when something has messed up, we’ve rolled with the punches every time, and the audience has just laughed *harder*. It’s beautiful. So, the curse, if that is genuinely what it is, has actually helped make Irma Vep an even better show.

I’m not a superstitious man about a lot of things, but the curse is one I’ve always faced with terror because I’ve seen its handiwork. Now, it’s not so scary. Especially since its most recent efforts to ruin the show have only made us look better. So bring it.

Bring it. Macbeth.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Hotcakes Aren't Doing This Well

Tonight begins the third week of The Mystery of Irma Vep performances, and it’s already sold out. All three nights. We’re sold out. I’d say these tickets are selling like hotcakes, but I’ve seen the hotcakes, and they sometimes have some left over. Not the case here!

To accommodate the insane amount of business we’re doing, we’ve added a night to the final week of performances. Yep, next Thursday night, we’re adding a show. Just for you, the viewer. Shazam. (And yes, Leta, I remember that you’re coming on Sunday. No worries.)

I sent out my Voice-Over CD’s this week, and I’m sending out another pair this afternoon. I know it takes times for seeds to grow, but patience… still not a virtue. I’m working on it, though.

In other nifty news; I’ve been cast in a TV pilot for Montgomery County Public Television. Improv comedy is the name of the game, so let’s see if it gets picked up! If not, well, hey. I can still put it on my résumé. Because I rock.

Things are going pretty darn well at the moment. That, and I get to do my favorite thing tonight; perform… Irma Vep has been the single most amount of fun I’ve had on stage, and I dearly hope it continues to be so. Because that would also rock.

Later, people. Have a good weekend. It’s gonna be a busy one.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Taking a Closer Look

Having the night off, I popped by Our Lady of Blockbuster and picked up a flick to pass the evening. Namely, Closer.

I’ve been a fan of Natalie Portman ever since I saw Leon, International version of The Professional. She’s a talented actress, as well as just striking. I never got around to seeing the flick when it was in the theaters, but I had nothing stopping me from renting the bloody thing.


Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Jude Law, and the lovely Ms. Portman all do fine jobs with the roles they’ve been given; but there’s too little substance to it to make me want to see it again.

I’m not giving anything away to say that the movie is about people in relationships that cheat on each other. It doesn’t help the film’s chances with me that I hate adultery to begin with. It’s something I don’t sympathize with at all. (Not with falling out of love with someone or being attracted to someone else. That’s human. But I think you should break up with someone before you cheat on them, if they’re not doing it for you anymore.)

Putting my own opinions about it aside, the movie doesn’t really carry out the infidelity well. The two couples show a good chemistry within their own, but when Jude and Julia meet up, they just… ugh.

You know what? Forget it. I can’t give this damn flick any kind of objectivity. A friend of mine said she loved it, I know her tastes are good, and at least somewhat comparable to my own. How I put my opinion of this movie another way: I just don’t get it.

I don’t get how these four people mesh together so tightly when they’re all so very wrong for each other. I don’t get why they even like each other, let alone love. They say horrible things (this isn’t about the profanity), they treat each other miserably, and yet somehow have the power to be surprised by the outcome of their own choices. I guess that’s supposed to make it a sobering look at the worst human beings can do to each other, emotionally speaking, to crib a line from my friend. I just see it as a foursome of gluttons for punishment, setting their table and chowing down. Good riddance.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Now Hear This

Ever wonder what I might sound like? Wonder no more. In efforts to promote my voice-over demo’s (which I’ll be mailing out later today to a potential agent or two), I’ve posted my Commercial and Cartoon demo’s on my website, on the Work page:, baby.

A lot of work has gone into making those little darlings ship shape; including the fine editing talents of one Stan Harris, sound man for The Mystery of Irma Vep. The man’s an artist. What else can I say?

I also received my first response on the comic book-- turned down with an option to take a second look in three months… The editor in question mentioned that the art needed work. We may literally have to go back to the drawing board. Not that it’s particularly cheap to do so… Still. Something I’ll have to take under advisement. Dang.

In other news; the show was a smash hit again this weekend! We were sold out in advance for Saturday, and Friday’s show filled up rapidly as well. Nano and I… well. Without bragging too much, we freakin’ rock. People who’ve never seen either of us before have been commenting on our teamwork, something a lot of effort has gone into. One guy asked how long we’d been working together, because to him it seemed like years. That’s pretty sweet, right there.

Well. Another week has begun, and it’s time to get started. More to follow.


Friday, April 01, 2005

There Goes My Baby

I’m feeling a certain mild tightness in the chest I haven’t felt in quite a while. It’s nervous energy, humming away in evidently the only place it can: my ribcage. In high school and college, I was a much greater worrier than I am of late, I try not to take things as seriously, and as a result don’t have panic attacks nearly as often. Haven’t had one in months.

If this feeling doesn’t go away, I may end up skewering that record. Why, you ask, is his breath a little uneasy? Why is he tightening into a ball of nervous energy?

Answer: I sent out Tuxxer. I emailed it this very morning, to one of the publishers (who will remain nameless) on my list. Everything. All twelve pages, the logo, a synopsis, character guide, and succinct little cover letter. Done, done, done. And ever since I pressed the *Send* key, I’ve been holding my breath, just a little. Can’t help it.

Granted, it’s something every writer has to face. It’s not the first time I’ve submitted something for publication. Last time it was sample chapters of a novel I’d written…. But that’s beside the point. This is it. I’ve worked a very long time to develop my story (both plot-wise and artistically) to the point that it would be suitable and ready to print; but now that it’s here and I’ve actually mailed it… I’m a tiny bit squeamish. I suddenly don’t need coffee this morning, because I’m already wired as it is.

Now, I KNOW that it doesn’t do to hold my breath and just anticipate whatever is going to happen, but I’m asking for a little slack. It’s my first time with this particular project, which has become very dear to me. There are a few different places I can look to submit for printing. I’m not married to the thing, changes can be made if necessary, but still: It’s my baby, and I’ve just sent it out into the world.

Here’s hoping it comes back.

It's the First of the Month

Bunny, Bunny.