Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Uber-Nerd

I've had a lot going on lately, so apologies for the inordinate length of time between posts. Here's my latest treatise.

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ At The Esquire Theater In 2011 Is A Sad Thing
The Uber-Nerd: An Anthropological Survey Conducted in One Night on In-Group/Out-Group Social Behaviors

The problem is not that the participants are too goofy or strange, too kooky for our oh-so straight, sedate tastes, as the self-appointed emcee in the purple cloak tried to gently suggest as we walked past him and a pal smoking outside on a bench halfway through the show.

Nor, honestly, is it that they exude too much of the sexual desperation and simultaneous exultation of sex that is the geek’s mark of Cain, the black-light stain on the soul--and pants--of the uber-nerd. We really don’t mind that the theater is thick with the fug of a hundred musty basements from whence emerged this pent-up pack of fat, lonely Warcraft warriors, the crust of still-drying semen flaking off the pad of flesh between thumb and forefinger. That’s fine; let them, for one night anyway, pretend they too are sexually liberated libertines, wildly experimental creatures like Dr. Frank N. Furter.

The problem isn’t even their ‘performances,’ such as they are, although it must be honestly said that they are of the sad kind put on by dreary high school improv societies around the world. Here, it’s all the snorting laughter of the AV Club: every line is crammed full of this group’s inside jokes and self-references that no one but them is meant to get, and that no one but them will ever care about.

This is quite deliberate, of course; the big secret of the uber-nerd, of the Outsider Geek who glorifies his own outsider status, who pretends to be above those who shun him is that what he has always longed for more than anything is to be on the Inside. The uber-nerd wants nothing more than to be part of Something, but since he doesn’t have the imagination or balls to create his own thing, he latches onto Star Wars, or comic books, or video games, or more subterranean phenomena like Rocky Horror, and adopts them with the shaky but intense fervor of a recent Mormon convert or a 30-day chip-holder at AA.

Now, I am not against any of those pursuits--AA excepted. In fact, I am an avid participant to some degree of nerdism on each of the aforementioned.

And let’s be clear: I have been going to see Rocky Horror since I was sneaking out of the house at 13 or 14 to see it, preparing by smoking headache-inducing dirt-weed and hanging around liquor stores to get people to buy us pints of schnapps. I’ve seen it around 30 times. So this rant isn’t bred of some uninformed distaste for the institution itself.

No, the problem is not what one likes--rather, it is how one goes about liking it. In the case of the uber-nerd, it’s the sad, predictable attempt to raise the drawbridge after he crosses into this new realm of ‘his’ thing that he has ‘discovered,’ and thus keep others out. It is the clumsy attempts made by life-long Outsiders to remake themselves as the ultimate Insiders, the new arbiters of cool.


The uber-nerd has spent his entire lonely life masturbating in dark corners muttering venomous put-downs no one will ever hear while he enviously gazes upon the very same jocks and the cheerleaders he purports to scorn. After all, they seem so happy and social and easy and free--plus they have boobs and/or access to them.

But the second this spat-upon outsider becomes an insider, he wastes no time turning on those he perceives as beyond the pale--the unwashed outsiders to his newly crowned insider--scorning everyone who doesn’t seem to be part of his gang. It’s almost comical how quickly outsiders will become the same dreary, predictable insiders they hated all their lives, how quickly those who were shunned--and those who in turn shunned the elites for being elite--will form a new elite and exhibit the exact same behaviors they previously abhorred.

Sidebar: One can observe an interestingly similar behavior in the hipster who declares something 'over,' or a band as 'sold out;' or having gone 'mainstream.' The attitude is this: 'my thing can only be cool so long as it is MY thing. Anyone else purporting to be a fan is a poser, a dilettante, or worse: they are the proof that that thing is no longer cool.'

No, the problem is rather that this particular group of uber-nerds--and by this I mean the crew running the alleged show at the Esquire, not Rocky Horror enthusiasts in general--this group has become so enamored of the spotlight for themselves that they are no longer celebrating the show that brought them here in the first place. They are instead here to celebrate their own egos.

For an $8 ticket and a $5 small coke and a $5 bag of popcorn, I want to actually be able to see the film. I don’t want to be forced to watch half the screen getting eaten up by a poorly-operated follow-spot illuminating a dubious and decidedly dumpy Brad taking off his robe before an equally sorry-looking Janet. I have no interest in the meth-skinny, bearded Frank N. Furter sporting a pirate hat and attempting (badly) to lip-synch ALL the dialogue.

Dear 'Performers' at the Esquire: You do NOT look like this.

And there’s really no need for the pantsless girl to be spotlit during the opening song, attempting some sort of awkward striptease dance up and down the aisles in her underwear, artfully (nervously?) covered by a long man’s shirt, lip-synching along with the onscreen lips. What performance is she meant to be celebrating? Is this what she imagines Richard O’Brien was doing when he sang ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature?’ Is she meant to be the body to match the discorporate onscreen lips of Patricia Quinn?

Or is it more likely that she has no other socially acceptable outlet for such desperately attention-seeking behavior and figures that, as one of maybe ten girls in the crowd, there are worse and more risky ways to get attention than cock-teasing nerds--who are, after all, ill-equipped to follow through with her implied invitation in any but the most clumsy and awkwardly abortive way.

No, these dubious performers have committed the first and gravest sin of the actor: they have decided, each one individually, that the show is really all about them.

And who can blame them, really? These are IT guys and bookstore girls, the perma-wallflowers of every party, the shy and the lonely and the unlaid of life. They’ve never had nor is it likely they ever again will have the opportunity or self-assurance to get up in front of strangers and demand to be looked at, even if it is in a cheap, unoriginal and ultimately masturbatory manner, even if they are only taking another’s art and claiming it as their own work.

We have to ultimately feel pity for them: These nerds are the sad and lonely detritus of a poisoned society turned in on itself. They are the casualties of this new new age in which we are only comfortable expressing ourselves from behind the safety of the bullet-proof glass of our computer screens.

I think I saw this guy at the show last week. He was in his underwear. Eye-bleach, anyone?

But at least these few, for a moment anyway, do something that the vast majority cannot fathom: they take the extraordinary step of shutting down their WoW accounts for a few hours, lurching out into the sunlight blinking like newborn kittens, up from the shadows of that dank basement. And they’re not out here to skulk around on the edges of society as they usually do, but rather to step out in front of the crowd and perform.

It’s a sad, derivative kind of performance, to be sure. But for a moment, at least, they get to imagine themselves as stars. Who doesn’t want that?

No, the problem is not the fantasy, nor even the venue. The problem with this group is that in their insular little world they have allowed their imaginations to run away with them. They have allowed the fantasy to reach the level of delusion.

No one gives a shit about your 35-minute opening remarks, Mr. Purple Cloak. No one gives a shit about the ridiculously loud dance music you so arrogantly pipe in over certain scenes, drowning out the actual songs that other people so love, songs from the show they love, and which, incidentally, they paid money to see.

Saddest of all, the show you are ruining so ham-handedly is a show which you presumably once loved yourselves. This was before you decided that you are not only a part of the show--a sideshow, if you will, a cute and fun lark for some especially dedicated fans--you decided that you actually ARE the show.

You are not the show.

Richard O’Brien and Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon are the show. Little Nell is the show. Meatloaf is the show. Barry Bostwick is the show. Patricia Quinn is the show.

I repeat, you are not the show.

And it is a shame that you are destroying ‘Rocky Horror’ for potential new audiences and old fans alike by so clumsily remaking it around your own sad, withered egos and desperate neediness.

Thus you are destroying that which you love so dearly, a tragedy not unlike hugging an infant so tightly it smothers in the pendulous man-boobs that adorn your chest.

On second thought, maybe everyone should go see ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ at the Esquire. If only to tell the uber-nerds who have appropriated an otherwise fun and fine and campy good time to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.

At least until it’s time to do the ‘Time Warp.’

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

...or we'll eat you too.

Welcome to America.
I bet they keep their pistols in their fanny-packs.
Along with a supply of Twinkies. 
And a Wal-Mart frequent shopper card.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

oh, charlie.

These kids today...they're so cute aren't they?

So Long Fort Collins (But Not Goodbye)


This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written, because it is regarding one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Which, as you may have guessed from the title, is to leave Fort Collins.

Last week I finally made the final move down to Denver, to the Capitol Hill area.

Now, if you are a friend of mine in the Fort and this is news to you, you are not alone.

And if you are a friend of mine and you are offended that this is news to you, I can’t really hold it against you. It is pretty shitty of me to just do this without telling anyone.

All I can do is apologize across the board.

 Fort Collins, I will miss you as much as this kid will miss this goat. Seriously.

But, especially if you are a friend of mine, and one from the Fort, then you know I’ve been pretty much off the radar lately due to shows and life and a new relationship and etc. Meaning, I haven’t really been around all that much anyway, not like I used to be.

But you have to know that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

This is a move I’ve been contemplating for a long time--at least a year, probably two, maybe more. And it’s a testament to all the people and places I’ve grown to love so much that it has taken me this long to pull the trigger. Especially because it is something that feels and long has felt like the right choice for me.

I’m not a person who says good-bye very well. I have faded away from my family, for like five or six years in that case (ask me sometime) and also from countless dating situations and friends--even cities. And that tendency, along with my reluctance to leave a place I love so much, is why I’ve been so neglectful of saying good-bye. I don't do this well. (Even though I’m not going that far, yo. I’ll be around.)

Aside from New Orleans, I have never connected with a town and its people like I have with Fort Collins. When I moved up there from Boulder, I thought I really didn’t like Colorado too much, just because Boulder people were such assholes. But the Fort turned my opinion around. It is such a warm place, so friendly and genuine that I adore introducing friends to every place I hang out. No one is disappointed when I do.

But not as much as these backpacks will miss each other.

My bar/restaurant family I will miss a great deal. I have had so much fun--so much that it is probably illegal, hah--with the ever-expanding circle of people that all stemmed from CooperSmith’s all those years ago. :) You guys know who you are. I hope I am still one of you.

And my OpenStage family truly means that much to me--family. You have helped me grow incalculably, not only as an actor, but also as a person.

All I can say is I love you.


Truly. I would literally not be the person I am today without OpenStage. I sure as hell wouldn't be the actor I am, that's for certain. Not sure if you want credit for that or not, but I honestly thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve given me.

But as the header on this says, ‘so long’ is not the same as ‘good-bye.’ We are not far from each other, Fort Collins. I am conveniently located very near the Fillmore and the Ogden, if anyone is coming down for a show and needs a place to crash.

And you know what I have discovered? They have bars in Denver!!! I KNOW! That’s some crazy shit isn’t it? I mean, they will never measure up to Smelliot’s, but then nothing ever will.

And I will certainly be up there a great deal for OpenStage shows and lots of other events--I’m thinking several drinks and several friends sometime soon might be in order?

Again my apologies for the back-asswards way I’m doing this. But, really, when you think about it, that’s kind of the way I do everything, isn’t it? Since you’re my friends I know you will forgive me for my sad lack of communication. All I can do is ask that you try to understand.

And I reiterate: I love you all very much.

Questions/comments/rantings are encouraged, here or in a more private setting--either way is fine.


little shop review

Hey all--
As many of you may know, my life has been extra-extra crazy lately because I’ve been moving and also opening a show. I have been neglectful of friends and fam, methinks, but hopefully I can earn forgiveness at some point, and maybe a little empathy.

Not that I’m feeling sorry for myself! Far from it: doing Little Shop has thus far proven to be one of the most fun and educational experiences of my theatrical career. My castmates and director have been amazingly helpful and they have welcomed me with open arms to the Equinox family.

And the hard work is paying off--here’s another amazing review from Father Patrick Dorn. Industry night tomorrow (Monday 6.6--pay what you can--7:30 curtain--more info follows).

Hope you can make it!

Equinox Theatre Company's production of "Little Shop of Horrors" plays through June 18 at the historic and quirky Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, Denver. Tickets are $12-$15. Call 720-984-0781 or visit for information or to purchase tickets.

That's me with the beehive on the left.

Okay. No it isn't.


Yep. We've all been there, my little rat buddy.
To quote Grampa Simpson: 'Kiss her like a mule eating an apple!'

Friday, June 3, 2011

drunk sober

This is so true. But why? Perhaps it's because you learn to deal with whatever normal is for you. Like, my body is so unused to a full night's sleep that it just doesn't know what to do with this strange world it encounters upon awaking.

The Vagrant

Here's another review of mine in the Post, for Dangerous Theatre's 'The Vagrant.' Full text follows below.

"The Vagrant" is an unusual play about a homeless man, played by Winter Maza, who chooses to live on the streets. (Provided by Dangerous Theatre)

Despite some clunkiness here and there--a couple of the smaller roles were played by people who seemed to have very little experience, or at least to have been given poor direction--it was a truly moving show. I'm always fascinated by playwrights and screenwriters and authors who can make you feel without seeming manipulative. There are far too many films and plays that prey on your emotions rather than bring them out honestly. I'm hard-pressed right now to define the difference; it's one of those 'I know it when I see it things.'

But in any case, 'The Vagrant' connected without being cloying.

3 stars
running time 1:32

If you still don’t believe reports that the decelerating engine of American Empire is forcing people out of their houses, drive down Park Avenue West past the shelters sometime. Just a few blocks from Coors Field, that towering edifice of triumphal capitalism, you will see fifty, perhaps a hundred people spilling out into the street every evening as they queue up just hoping for a chance to sleep inside.

But that crowd is more than a faceless, amorphous blob. It is a demographic composed of individuals who have stories very much like our own. They have parents and siblings and sons and daughters; very likely, they once had a roof over their heads too.

And while there are complicated and overlapping issues coloring any honest discussion of homelessness--mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, perpetual funding shortfalls--perhaps the most maddening of all is our lack of empathy toward those whom we as a society have deemed invisible.

Dangerous Theatre’s show “The Vagrant” seeks to address this, to re-humanize the problem of homelessness.

Enter Lenny, played by Winter Maza. He appears to be a jolly street-philosopher, taking homelessness as a sort of carnival act, cadging lunch from hapless hot dog man Rodney (Steve Towbin) through his gift of gab.

Soon we meet Lenny’s friend Maggie (Winnie Wenglewick), a grumpy, bag-toting sort who is perhaps not so high-functioning as Lenny. He reminds her to take her heart medicine, and gently pulls her back to reality when she rants about Shriners being aliens in disguise.

In an jarring moment during her entrance, Maggie turns the tables on the audience: she stares out hard and tells Lenny, “The bastards are back again, looking at you with their beady little eyes.”

It’s discomfiting to be among those on display, to have the luxury of privacy revoked even for a few seconds--a luxury the homeless never enjoy.

Lenny is soon visited at his park bench by John (Alexander Wu) and Rachel (Norrell Moore) a pair of young, struggling stockbrokers. When Lenny offers them a few stock tips resulting in better-than-expected gains, the pair are intrigued by this enigmatic man and drawn in different ways into his story.

Rachel is the personification of the argument against helping any individual homeless person: the problem is too great; I have my own problems, etc. She embodies unabashed selfishness, the dimwitted Randian mantra that greed is the only possible good, or even the only possibility for human behavior at all.

But Moore also manages to show us another, nastier component of this argument: there is an unspoken assumption buried within this philosophy that anyone less fortunate than ourselves probably only got what they deserved. Moore shows tremendous poise and grace as she plays out these multiple yet intersecting levels, which, in a less-skilled actor’s hands, could easily be shrill or overly simplistic.

Alexander Wu as John is the kinder, gentler counter to Rachel’s heartlessness, reaching out to Lenny and showing a compassion that is rare when the more fortunate are forced to deal with the homeless face to face. Wu infuses John with a bemused warmth, an instinctively human desire to help, to understand.

At the heart of the story though is Lenny, played by Winter Maza. His sonorous baritone voice calmly cuts through others’ self-delusions; he alternately laughs and cries, feels sorry for himself and empathizes with others. He cajoles, entreats, and raves. It is a beautiful performance marred only by rare occasions when actor momentarily seems disconnected from character.

Despite some supporting characters that are clunky at best and a couple of odd directorial choices, this is a moving, honest show that pulls at one’s emotions without being cloying or overly manipulative.

It may be an old saw that we’re all just two paychecks away from joining the ranks of the homeless, but in these times it might behoove us to remember that they are people too, flawed, fallible, imperfect people--just like us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

good to know


well, even if he is a cat with hackey-sacks full of weed, at least he's got his own weed, right?