Wednesday, February 27, 2008

mistah harvey, he dead.

it's been over a week since the harvey project closed, and it's still kind of a weird feeling. it's always somewhat bittersweet when a show closes--you will miss it, but you're also kind of glad to be shed of it, ready to move on in your mind and energy.
it was really nice to see "nickel and dimed" last saturday, and to be completely unattached to any show--to not have rehearsals or performances t worry about. i don't even have any upcoming auditions that are weighing on my mind. not that i don't want to ever do anything ever again; it's just that between noises off and the harvey project, i've been in rehearsals or performances since early september.
and this show in particular was tough for me. i was the title character, and it is a new play, and so i think i took a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to make it perfect, and that just isn't going to happen. i was incredibly relieved when it closed last sunday, and proceeded to mindlessly go play some guitar and get drunk, responsibility-free.
anyway, just a quick note. will do more later.

Friday, February 15, 2008

valentine's day

and here's my column that will be out this friday, sort of a post-mortem view of valentine's day.


So here we are once again, on the ass-end of the winter holiday season. Long gone is the quiet dignity of Thanksgiving, where you can drink and eat and squabble with your family more in one afternoon than you might over an entire normal weekend. Also long past is the consumerific splendor of Christmas, the tacky rhinestone and LED sweaters packed away, the gift receipts long ago cashed in. Even drunken New Years’ seems a distant memory--though the acidic, gritty taste of revisited Jager probably still lingers for some.

And by the time this reaches you, even the Valentine’s Day “holiday” will be over, resulting no doubt in joy for some, ruined credit ratings for others, and perhaps even tears.

And why not? With the ridiculous expectations placed upon people for this, the most nakedly commercial holiday we celebrate—at least Christmas has some underlying higher theme besides “Buy Shit For Your Girl, Because We Said So, or She’ll Kick Your Ass”—how could anyone ever hope to get it right?

The diamond companies are certainly hoping that a slice of the clueless male demographic (that is, all of us) will be desperate enough for approval that they will shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Add cards, flowers, dining, and other entertainment, and we’re talking about a holiday celebrating “love” that rang up nearly $17 billion dollars last year alone, according to, a diamond industry website.

That’s a helluva price tag. Do we get breakfast in bed afterwards? How about a kiss on the mouth?

It’s been a long, strange trip getting here, too. We’ve all heard the legends of Saint Valentine—there were actually at least two or three martyrs named Valentine or Valentinus—but the stories are so sketchy that in 1969 the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints removed the feast of Saint Valentine, saying that too little was known about him. Other than he died on February 14.

His wife probably killed him when he showed up at home that night empty-handed.

Scholars even disagree as to whether the earliest mid-February celebrations were meant to celebrate romantic love or fertility. For instance, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Romans, and even pre-Roman societies celebrated Lupercalia on February 15, a fertility rite that involved sacrificing goats and a dog, a feast, and naked nobility running around in the streets whacking people with strips of skin cut from the sacrificed animals, that were meant to ensure an easy childbirth.

Those kooky Romans.

At any rate, this alleged holiday has morphed quite a bit into the way it is celebrated today. We can blame one Esther Howland for popularizing the exchange of Valentine’s Day cards in this country. In 1847, Howland, the daughter of a bookstore owner became the first to mass-produce and sell Valentine’s Day cards. Beginning in 2001, the greeting card industry has been giving out an annual “Esther Howland Award for Greeting Card Visionary.”

Gosh, thanks a ton, Esther. If there is any justice at all, she’s slowly turning on an arrow jammed through her heart, roasting over a super-heated vat of rich, dark chocolate.

The point of all this is not to deride love, or those who are in love. Cynical as I may sound, I believe in love. I happen to believe it is different for everybody. Much like the concept of God, perhaps “love” is too abstract, enormous, mysterious, and fraught with baggage to be reduced to a meaningful soundbite. It certainly won’t be given useful meaning through the cynical machinations of industries that are designed to capitalize on another complex human emotion—guilt.

Lots of people have diamonds. I’d venture to guess that not many of them have love.

Which is more important?


super duper tuesday

once again its been a while since i've posted. starting to sound like a broken record. here's my column from last week, at any rate.

CARPE DIEM 02-08-08

Ah, Super-Duper-Cali-Fragilisitic Tuesday. Watching the coverage makes me want to give myself a lobotomy with an ice pick and a ball-peen hammer, but I just can’t tear myself away.

There’s no shortage of whack-a-doo stories out there as pundits scramble to make sense of a completely mad day in a completely mad year for American politics. But even as the heavy-hitter media elites attempt to sift through the voluminous mounds of spin that the campaigns and their lackeys have left in steaming piles, they are also working hard to cover their own bets [read: asses] especially after the media debacle following the last round of primaries, when Clinton’s campaign was declared dead in the water.

Here are a few of the more off-the-map nutty storylines:

• Even though Obama raked in 562 delegates and 13 states Tuesday night, compared to Clinton’s 582 delegates and 8 states, the media declared the night a “disappointment” for the junior senator from Illinois. It seems that many pundits are scrambling to distance themselves from their love affair with Obama by now setting course 180 degrees away from him. Now it’s Obama who’s finished, washed-up, kaput. Here’s a headline from Wednesday’s Washington Post: “Obama Wave Wanes.”

It’s all over.

Only, it’s not.

Of course, given the recent hype surrounding his candidacy reaching epic, Kennedy-esque proportions—literally, in the sense that Ted Kennedy came out in support of him—any primary result not including a total and complete humiliation of Clinton at the polls could seem like a poor showing. The establishment hates that it’s not decided yet—and, really, hates that it’s not decided in favor of Clinton—because that means more days and weeks of uncomfortable questions about that very establishment, and what direction voters want the next president to take the country.

• Speaking of which, here’s a good one: Clinton advisor Mark Penn was quoted on the Talking Points Memo blog as claiming that Obama has become the “establishment candidate.” Apparently Penn reached that conclusion because of recent endorsements Obama has gotten, and is now attempting to both spin Clinton as an underdog, and undermine Obama’s outsider cachet. I guess Hillary’s eight years in the White House, seven years in the Senate after carpet-bagging to New York to get elected, K Street lobbyist connections, votes for more-stringent bankruptcy laws that favor credit card companies, supporting the Patriot Act, and, oh yeah, authorizing the Iraq war and all get wiped away the moment a nearly irrelevant Kennedy supports Obama.

• On the Republican side, John McCain won convincingly, putting away 511 delegates, compared with Romney’s 176 and Huckabee’s 147. Funny thing is, the Republicans don’t want him.

Huh? Well, lots of them anyway.

Even with that kind of widespread support for a war-hero Senator who—inexplicably—continues to speak of Iraq as if it were an overseas province of Empire America that we will occupy—inexplicably—for at least a century, many in the social conservative wing of the Republican big tent are denouncing McCain. Colorado’s own James Dobson stamped his little feet and said that he wouldn’t vote for McCain, because he’s “...convinced Senator McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are.”

He’s a closet librul, folks. Watch out he doesn’t give your daughters abortions or your sons The Gay.

What this apparently means is that the religious wing of right wing, which has enjoyed the fawning flirtations of every Republican nominee in recent memory, is finding itself without a suitor—and prom night is coming up soon.

It’s only going to get nuttier from here, folks. Strap in tight, and keep your hands inside the car at all times.


Friday, February 8, 2008

harvey project review

and we got a review for the play i'm in, The Harvey Project. it's exciting to be reviewed no matter what, although this one is a little surface. the other problem with this show in particular is that it is a new play, and the people in charge of Openstage Etc. saw fit to offer the cast up as sacrificial lambs after every single show for a talk-back.

now, i have nothing against talk-backs. they can be fun, and often you get a truer sense of what an audience is seeing, since it's not your friends telling you what they thought of the show--it's strangers. but since this is a new play, and since people have been explicitly invited to offer their opinions of it, we are getting an awful lot of not-useful information best sent directly to the playwright. people want to critique the story ad infinitum, and the plot, and the length of the scenes, and we have no control over that. and so it becomes an exercise in listening to people bitch about things we cannot fix, even if we wanted to.

and last week we were blessed to have half a dozen or so recent graduates from CSU's theatre department bestow the deep vastness of their knowledge upon us. there's nothing like a recent college graduate to tell you everything you never wanted to know about everything.

i never knew so much as i did when i graduated; thank god i know less and less every year.

anyway, i think the atmosphere of the talk-back might influence reviewers. the fact that there is a talk-back might even change people's opinions of the show, and make them less open to what they are seeing out there, rather than thinking about clever things to say about the meta-picture.

or i could just be whining...

come see it either way, two more weekends, starting tonight.


closer review

had another theatre review run in the denver post (at least the online version) today, for the play closer. it's being put on by a new company, Uncorked Productions, made up of five veterans of Denver's theatre scene.

it was a really great show, from the same script as was made into the 2004 film starring jude law, natalie portman, julia roberts, and clive owen. worthe checking out, especially as tickets are $12-15, very cheap for denver theatre. here's an excerpt from my review:

There's a kids swimming-pool game called "Sharks and Minnows" in which the person who is the shark attempts to tag the other kids — the minnows. In some versions of the game, when a minnow is tagged, he or she becomes a shark and joins in chasing the remaining minnows.

Watching Uncorked Productions' staging of "Closer," directed by Brenda Cook, is an awful lot like seeing a late-stage version of the game, when it might as well be called "Sharks and Sharks." Watching these characters devour one another emotionally carries all the morbid fascination of a feeding frenzy: It's horrifying and riveting all at once, and you can identify with both predator and prey.

fun stuff. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


yah, so it's like, February somehow. i'm not entirely sure how that happened, but oh well. i'll take the calendar's word for it. i've been caught up in doing a show, the harvey project at openstage etc., and that has taken a lot of time. it was so nice to have an actual evening where i didn't have to do ANYTHING or go ANYWHERE last night. took me a long, way over-indulgent nap, played some guitar, and had a nice visit a bit later in the evening. :)

you know who you are.

had a good time at the coopersmith's superbowl party on sunday too. that was the first time i went out and got truly ripped in a while. been quitting the cancer sticks lately and sunday was actually my two-month anniversary. so, quitting keeps me out of the bars and away from the booze. it seems like, somehow, alcohol might just have some sort of effect on my judgment. i'm not sure if anyone else has ever noticed that...

at any rate, i didn't fall down, as far as i know, and i didn't fall off the nicotine wagon either. plus i got to catch up with a bunch of friends i haven't seen in a while, due to my monkish existence as of late.

i've been working on revising my play that i 'finished' a few months ago, trying to get it to where i want it. i have a feeling that if i allowed myself to, i would be one of those people who endlessly revise shit to the point where they never finish anything. can't let that happen. i'm going to wrap it up, for good or for ill by the end of this month. barring any specific advice from someone who, like, wants to pay me a million dollars to turn it into a movie, i'm going to move on to something else.

also, i have a gig at lucky joe's tomorrow night, and so havebeen practicing guitar a lot more than usual lately. i don't know--when i'm in a play, it seems like the music falls by the wayside. as if there is a limited amount of artsy-fartsiness available to pour into projects like these. ah well.

if that's all i have to complain about, i guess i'm doing better than most. :)