Wednesday, February 29, 2012

driving while (walking) dead

Okay. Now there are some out there who will see this either a sexist post, or as confirmation of their sexist beliefs (i.e. that women can't drive, har har, etc., ad infinitum.)

HOWEVER, I take the captions at their word: only a moron would be so caught up in looking at a map while they were speeding along a back country highway that they would hit a slow-walking dead guy and nearly get eaten by him.

Way to go, Rick's wife.


but it's your welcome...

...take it! Take your welcome!


Tyranny, indeed.


I know nothing about this band (but intend to check them out) but found this video and the song infectious. Awesomely stop-motiony.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the violence of the patriarchy

image link

The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.
— bell hooks

Source: feminishblog


This is so amazing and so amazingly, blindingly true that it strikes one as something already known, as something obvious.

But of course it isn't, it is something we rarely if ever think about. We (as males) just feel a disquieting sense of something gone wrong when we are presented with the dominant culture's portrayal of all things 'men,' and 'manly' as puerile, immature, uber-macho, and idiotic.

We are more than that, we enlightened men, and we should always remember that and strive to be more than that in everyday life.

santorum stroking


Here's Rick Santorum demonstrating how he likes to separate his church from his state.

He just makes it so easy.


Here's a story I wrote for a flash fiction contest, 1,000 words on the nose, I think, counting the title.

It's really interesting what happens when you're forced to reduce what you want to say to such tight constraints. It's different from journalism--obviously--but something about telling a fictional story, one that has no facts or necessaries attached to it like a news story or a review has, something you are totally free to invent, and having to tighten it down so harshly really forces you to make brutal--and brutally necessary--choices and distill, distill, distill.

Relentlessly. Which I need to do more of in my other writing anyway.

So anyway. Here's a story. I would love any feedback you might have.

by Kurt Brighton

I saw the last dog today, skulking around the debris across the cul-de-sac, a scrawny ghost the color of the iron sky.

He has evidently taken up residence near the burned-out basement I’ve chosen.

We regard each other, I suppose, as potential threat and potential meal, twin flickers of life amid the collapsing houses and the hulks of burned-out cars and trash--all the detritus of a dead civilization.

I imagine a future archeological expedition visiting from some distant planet, delighting in the cornucopia of garbage we’ve left behind, attempting to make sense of our absurd excess.

The dog darts away whenever I emerge, which lately is less and less. My activity slows, my circle shrinks. I am winding down like an old-fashioned clock, spiraling ever inward until finally I will cease, like everyone else.

Resting on the edge of the foundation’s blackened cinderblocks, the tatters of my lungs drawing ragged breaths, I see him sitting primly on his haunches ten yards away, panting, watching me. He remembers how my brothers treated his brothers, when push came to shove.

I wonder if he’s figured out I have little chance of catching him.

Hell, I don’t trust him either. I must look a tasty, if malnourished package of protein.

Not yet, old boy.

The birds died off first, dropping en masse as though some remote signal had silenced their whirring machinery, gravity reclaiming them as they plopped to the ground, sullen, inert.

First the sky, then the sea. The beaches turned into charnel houses as the ocean disgorged the entirety of life hidden in its great belly, all washing ashore to putrefy in heaps of scales, fins, guts and rot.

But it took the blight of the wheat and corn and the subsequent bovine and porcine holocausts that followed to cause real alarm.

And alarm quickly turned to panic, as it is wont to do. After the food riots, the dogs were next.

Their 10,000-year relationship with hominids was so ingrained that even as they watched their brethren getting their throats cut--screaming and thrashing, tossed in still-twitching chunks into the stewpot--even then, many dogs raised no fuss when it was their turn to be led to the chopping block. Ever-obedient, they sought human approval, even at the last.

The cats weren’t so easy. But then, when had they ever been?

I catch myself laughing and realize I said that out loud.

Is the dog cocking his head?

This wary fellow was obviously no pushover. But, I suspect, neither was he a survivor of the great snarling packs that briefly ruled these wastelands.

Greedy, hungry man with his tools and weapons hunted them down before turning on one another, though the packs took more than a few humans themselves.

No, I’ve decided this grey ghost and I were both loners, even before, and that it’s our outcast nature that has saved us.

Saved us for what, I don’t know.

I awake to a soft clinking of cans a few feet away. I shift and hear a startled yip as the dog scrambles up the piles of detritus and out of my basement, tail between his legs.

Well, thanks for not starting in on me. Not yet, anyway.

The dog peeps his head over the edge, watching.

Our eyes lock for a long moment, and I could swear his sheepish grin matches my own.

I decide. It’s time.

I struggle to a sitting position and reach under my makeshift bed and pull out a length of rope and a Tupperware container with the last of my rice, uncooked but softened by water, scavenged weeks ago from the kitchen of a well-stocked hausfrau named Joan.

Thanks also for the half-case of bottled water, madam.

Those were the saddest things, the unused things, the undone things: the reminders people wrote themselves about calls they never made, unshopped shopping lists, dates circled on calendars--Joan’s rancid Ben and Jerry’s in her dead freezer.

I pop open the plastic lid and force myself to eat a small handful. But instead of sealing and secreting the container beneath me, I leave it open atop a pile of cans, loop of rope in hand.

Come on down, boy.

I drift off again. When I awake, he’s noisily cleaning out the Tupperware. I try to minimize my movements so as not to startle him.

He looks at me, unmoving, except for licking away the last of the rice.

Hi there, I say.

His amber eyes blink solemnly. This close I can see he’s actually white, with a long ivory coat that has been soiled grey. He watches as if he’s waiting for me to give him some command, some echo of a long-ago life.

After a moment I let the rope drop.

I got nothing for you, kiddo. Sit, stand, roll over--do whatever the hell you want.

He sighs, as if he understands.

Sometime later--I must have drifted off--I feel a snuffling along my arm. Hot breath, then a cold nose grazes my neck.

Aw, jeez, buddy, my rice wasn’t enough?

I don’t even have the strength to fight. On the other hand, I don’t really care.

Sometime later I wake up to the sight of a wet nose framed by two amber eyes mere inches away. I feel a warm body next to mine. The dog looks at me for a few moments, then licks my face, tentatively at first, the twitching tip of a tongue making darting forays onto my skin. I feel the old familiar sensation of a dog tail wagging next to my leg.

Hey there.

The wagging grows more pronounced.

Good dog. Won’t be long now, buddy.

Arm shaking, I reach up to scratch him behind the ears. He wags some more. He lays his head on my arm. As I drift off his amber eyes are the last thing I see.

Hope there’s enough left to keep you fed for a while, old boy.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

happy train

Happy Train? Your Happy Train just got broadsided by my Fuck You Caboose.

robot in the rain

Okay, so we got us a robot, a kitty cat, and some whimsy. Eat it up. You know you love it. via

damn surrealists

Why you always got to be getting all surreal up in here?


Friday, February 24, 2012


I have the worst problem with getting frustrated with myself mid- to late in the rehearsal process, where I am CERTAIN, positively sure (at home working on lines, alone or with no audience but my dog) that I KNOW this section down cold. But then when I get in front of my castmates and director, and actually start feeling emotions and other oogy things like that, all the words disappear.

When I did 'Equus' last year, everyone in the cast would make fun of me because I would get going, then be like, 'With one particular horse...FUCK! LINE!' or 'The animal digs its sweaty brow into his cheek and...and...FUCKING FUCK FUCK! FUCKING LINE!'

I don't have it in me to just say 'line,' it has to be 'FUCKING LINE!'

Reminded me of this. ... ...LINE!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Opposite of People

So I feel I have to comment one more time on this.

Over the weekend I was cyber-witness to some posts about a friend's show. Apparently, after the opening night performance, some nasty things were said about what a waste of time the show was. And I commented, commiserating with the people who were criticizing the critics, as it were, and I still stand by what I said.

Even when I am in my critic mode--actual, paid (very little) theatre critic--I understand that what I am doing is nothing compared to what the people on stage are doing. I know that because I've done both. Writing even a very detailed and thoughtful and honest and heartfelt review takes at most a few hours. Rehearsing a show usually takes at minimum 50-75 hours, weeks and weeks of rehearsing, not to mention dozens of hours more memorizing lines and doing other homework on your character.

And the thing is, when I am watching a show, I almost always in some way or another fantasize or daydream or imagine what it would be like to perform in the show I am watching. I think everyone does this; I think it is part of what draws us to theatre, movies and music performances: we imagine ourselves as Pete Townshend or Ricky Roma or Jason Bourne. (weirdest trio of examples ever, off the top of my head...)

And invariably, when actors are involved, this natural tendency to imagine can turn ugly, showing up as jealousy or sniping. The thing is, backstabbing and petty jealousy aside, it must be said that people shitting on what we do is one of the things we as actors have tacitly signed up for. You don’t get to go out there in front of people, hold them hostage for two or three hours (or at least hold their $25 hostage) while you demand their attention and perform, then sit back and wait for the accolades without also being prepared for the shit-colades, as it were. (Shit Colada, anyone?) :-)

At any rate, that is the meaning of ‘putting ourselves out there,’ you know? That’s what makes us stronger than regular humans--and weaker than them too: we have the strength and fearlessness to go perform, true. But we also NEED to perform; we not only do not fear being looked at, we NEED to be looked at. Which makes us weirdly, uniquely strong and weak: if we can admit there's a need to be looked at, then we must also admit there is at least a thread of approval-seeking running through it.

But you don’t get to get looked at without a chance that some people aren’t going to like what they see. That would be the Special Olympics of theatre: you’re all winners here! Gold medals for everyone!

So while part of me empathizes for what I can only assume was someone talking shit at the after party of a show I admittedly haven't seen yet, I have to add the caveat that by performing we invite people to talk about what we do up there. And some of what people say might not be nice.

But anyway, fuck ‘em, once again. They are not us, and we are not them. After all,

“We are actors! We are the opposite of people!”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wizard of AAARRGGGHH!!!

Weird how the universe works sometimes. Ran across both of these yesterday in two different places.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

on political suicide...

...and the dwindling of numbers.

Here are some thoughts that occurred to me today, in light of all the posts and concern over the (white, male, Santorumesque) efforts to impose new restrictions on women's healthcare that have recently unfolded.

Republicans just can’t help themselves. Their desire for exclusivity and to turn back the clock to, say, 1850 has gotten to the point where it would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad...

Strike that. It is hilarious.

Let's look at their efforts to reach out.

So they long ago alienated African-Americans, fighting at every turn as they did against any implementation of civil rights laws, and further, seeking to roll back what rights have been won by imposing new poll taxes and onerous voter ID laws designed to keep out the great unwashed on election day.

In Arizona, Alabama and now Georgia we’ve watched as what miniscule gains they made with Latino voters were erased in the slow-motion political and economic train wreck that is those states’ anti-immigration laws.

They’ve stood firmly with the one percenters, fighting tooth and nail against even gelded, toothless financial reforms, shrieking about government takeovers when people made the mild suggestion that the very rich--who have done so well under our system, and who the rest of us have very kindly declined to rob and murder--might like to pay a few percentage points more in taxes rather than see the country they supposedly love descend into a bloody, crumbling hellscape.

Gay rights--well. ‘Nuff said.

And now they’re doing their damnedest to alienate the 50.1 percent of the population who regularly visit a gynecologist--along with the unknown percent of the rest of the population who think women might have more to offer the world than to become the human version of factory-farm sows, lolling on their sides in a cage, spitting out child after child under the watchful eye of male supervision.

Jesus Christ! Keep up the good work, fellas!

Pass the popcorn--what we thought was the slow decline of the Republican Party may well turn out to be the end of the Republican Party in an apocalyptic firestorm--one of their favorite go-to visuals. And it might happen sooner than we think, if they continue to chase people out of their ever-shrinking ‘big tent.’

It occurs to me that if you support people who hate everyone, you're unlikely to have anyone support you.

Whoa. Zen for haters, man.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Here's a piece that erupted spontaneously as I was working on my play this morning. It just kept going and going, and while it was way too long to use in the context of the play, I was having way too much fun with it to just toss it out. :-)


If you’ve lived any kind of an interesting life, once you reach a certain age you’ll find that there isn’t a closet big enough to contain all your skeletons. You stuff the clattering bones in there as best you can. But before too long they start to spill out, little by little, bone by bone.

At first it’s just a metatarsal here, the end of a finger bone there, occasionally the odd tooth will roll out--embarrassing when you have guests, but it’s nothing that can’t be swept under the rug or kicked under the dresser. But soon, as the closet fills up, the bones that roll out get bigger--here’s a skull, there’s a femur; I knew him, Horatio. Where be your gibes now?

Before you know it, you’ve got complete skeletons piled in the corners of the bedroom.

You might find this amusing for a while. Maybe you stack them neatly at first, hanging clothes off them as if they were a neglected treadmill. Or maybe you pile them up with books and magazines as though they were shelving units from some macabre Ikea. You laugh at your skeleton sculptures along with your friends, with a small note of self-deprecation, just a touch of embarrassment, but no big deal.

But soon enough, the skeletons grow populous enough that you’re forced to start stuffing them under the bed. Eventually you’re jamming them into that space between the bed and the wall. One day, you’re in a hurry to get out the door and so you toss one on the end of the bed--just temporarily, just until you can get home that night and make some room for it...somewhere.

Before you know it, they’ve taken over the bed. You’ve got skeletons stacked like cordwood on your Tempurpedic mattress until they nearly reach the ceiling. Pretty soon there’s no room for you in your own bedroom anymore.

So you say fuck it, and you start sleeping at other people’s houses.

Which, of course, leads to more skeletons...

Friday, February 10, 2012

taming of the shrew review

Hey guys--here's my latest review in the Post. They just posted it online this morning and there's already a negative comment (about the review) so let the slagging begin. :D I think changing up Shakespeare is something that people either love or hate; no middle ground on it. So I am prepared for the slings and arrows.

(But when they add modern words and phrases??? Come on...)

Anyway. Here's the piece as I turned it in to the editors, and here's a link to the Post's published version. Let me know what you think!


In a certain light, “The Taming of the Shrew,” a story about a husband “taming” his unruly, cantankerous wife, reads like a CIA “special rendition” handbook entry: psychological torture, sleep deprivation, withholding food--let the hilarity ensue!

And the blatant misogyny of the play isn’t only troublesome to modern audiences.
There is evidence that there has long been some degree of embarrassment about the subject matter, even some 300 years before women’s suffrage. This includes Shakespeare’s “induction,” a rarely-performed framing device that makes the entire story a play-within-a-play, as well as a sequel of sorts written by Shakespeare’s successor, in which the tamer Petruchio gets tamed himself by a new wife.

Examples like these would seem to argue against the view that the entire play was taken as satire in the late 1500s, that the Bard was mocking the harsh treatment of women by going completely over the top with it.

But misogyny or satire, the play is so often produced not only because it’s hilarious, with endless one-liners and situational humor--it also features a ten-round epic battle of wills between two of Shakespeare’s strongest, most vital characters, Petruchio and Katherine.

As imagined by director Kent Thompson, the couple (John G. Preston and Kathleen McCall) meets in a late-1950s diner owned by Katherine’s father in Padua. As illustrated on a huge map behind David M. Barber’s gorgeous set, Padua in this telling is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Pisa is large city on the east coast, and Verona, Petruchio’s home, is deep in the heart of Texas.

When suitors Gremio and Hortensio (Randy Moore and John-Michael Marrs respectively) seek the hand of Katherine’s younger sister Bianca (Christy McIntosh) her father refuses to allow her to wed until the shrewish Katherine is married first. Enter Petruchio, friend of Lucentio (Drew Cortese), a suitor from Pisa also seeking Bianca’s hand, who convinces Petruchio to wed Katherine and thus secure a rich dowry.

The leads are all superb--especially McCall as Katherine--all fully fleshed-out, “real” people relishing the thrust and parry of attempting to win love.

What becomes distracting is how far Thompson goes with his Americanization of the characters. Here we are treated to a pistol-packing, “yee-haw”-yelling Petruchio mixing it up with Lucentio’s servants from “Pisa,” whose Italian accents make them sound like extras on hiatus from “The Sopranos.”

The show threatens at every turn to become “The Comedy of the Two Stereotypes”--most of Petruchio’s household servants appear to be brain-dead, slack-jawed rejects from “Deliverance,” thus cementing for us the last two groups one can safely make fun of without being thought of as small-minded: Southerners and Jersey Shore rejects.

I suppose if you’re going to do a play in which the major point on which the plot turns is the subjugation of a woman, you might as well go for the prejudice trifecta.

Granted, some of these additions are genuinely funny. Patrick Halley as Lucretio’s
servant Biondello is a scene-stealer with tremendous comic timing, playing him as a sort of hyperventilating Lou Costello. And Preston’s Verona-on-the-Rio dialect doesn’t interfere with his readily apparent and heartfelt love for Shakespeare’s language, nor with his connection to the character.

And while it is important to bring modern audiences along when performing Shakespeare, there comes a point when all the added phrases--think “fuggedaboutit” and “y’all”--become pandering, and frankly, patronizing. Particularly irksome was Petruchio tacking on a string of “know what I means” after several jokes, as if the audience is too hopelessly thick to understand when it’s time to laugh.

And that’s the real crux of the matter: the play is written well enough that the jokes can and do stand on their own.

This is all to take nothing away from the actors, as they brought heart and genuine humanity to their characters within the constraints they were given.

But it’s safe to assume that Shakespeare kinda knew what he was doing. The audience would be better served by letting the jokes and the story tell themselves without getting in the way.

Friday, February 3, 2012

snow day! snow day! snow day!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Actually this boxer pup reminds me more of Steve Martin in 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.'

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

thoughts on auditioning

“Such thoughts as ‘I am a fraud, I am no good, I was terrible tonight’ are the opposite of effective self-improvement. They are obeisance to an outside or internalized authority--they are a plea to that authority for pity on your helpless state. But you are not helpless.”
--David Mamet

Well I had an incredible run of auditions over the past month--I got cast in Terry Dodd’s original play ‘Amateur Night at the Big Heart’ at the Aurora Fox this spring. I was cast in Paragon’s ‘The Seafarer’ for next fall, in a much bigger and more juicy role than I was originally called back for. And I got called back for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

And although I didn’t end up getting cast by CSF, in some ways that is the biggest audition of all.

First of all, getting called back for them the first time I went out is huge. Like many less formally-educated actors, I don’t like doing Shakespearean monologue auditions. Don’t get me wrong--I’ve done several Shakespeare plays (as well as ‘The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged’ haha) and I actually love several Shakespearean film adaptations (Ian McKellan’s ‘Richard III’ might be in my top five favorite films of all time). So I do have somewhat of a grip on the language--in fact I love the language. It’s not that I don’t understand it or don’t get scansion or the rhythm of the verse. It’s more a psychological thing, I think, to audition Shakespearean pieces for Shakespearean actors/scholars/directors--in other words, for people who do Shakespeare for a living.

It’s intimidating.

But I was determined to be extra well-prepared this year, and as a result I think I FELT the piece I performed for my monologue more than I ever have when I’ve done Shakes monos in the past. And my readings at the callback were also heartfelt and true and honest and unembellished--which brings me back to Mamet’s ‘True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor.’ Walking out after the CSF callback and during the week-plus afterward while I awaited word, I have never felt so free of anxiety, so unconcerned with how I did at an audition.

Why? Because I was confident I did the work well. I did my homework, went in with confidence, knew what I was saying, and I got where I needed to go emotionally and with honesty. What else could I do? What else can any actor do at any time, on stage or at an audition?

Absolutely nothing. The rest is on the audience if it’s a performance, or on the director and casting director if it’s an audition. Do I have the right look or the right age or the right voice relative to other actors, etc., etc.? All that is none of my concern and there is nothing I can do about it anyway.

As to thoughts like ‘what did they think of me,’ well, these kinds of ideas don’t really even enter into it. Not when I know I’ve done the work the best I can, and know that I’ve done it well. Knowing when I walk out of that room that I had a genuine connection to the words I was saying and feeling is all I can hope for. They’ll pick me or they won’t, but I know with certainty that what I brought was real and genuine and true, and therefore I can’t and don’t really concern myself with what they thought.

It’s incredibly liberating.

One of the best and most useful pieces of advice I ever got about auditioning (and I apologize for not remembering exactly where I picked it up--it may well have been ‘The Practical Handbook for the Actor,’ which was written by Mamet protégés) was that you should find a reason--any reason--going in to every audition, why you DON’T want to be cast. Say to yourself, for instance: it’s a long drive to this theatre, the director is kind of a prick, the script is weak, the show would conflict with another show you might like to do, etc.

It’s a useful kind of psychological jiu-jitsu that releases you from the stark terror of pre-audition jitters, which often revolve around utterly useless and even debilitating thoughts like ‘Will I be Good Enough? Will I Screw Up? Will they LOVE ME?’ These kinds of thoughts are all debasing. They psychologically set you up as a lower life-form, as a thing to be judged Good or Not Good, and they give away any kind of power or psychological edge you might have had.

They make you weak. That is not a good way to feel when you’re about to perform.

Of course, you are being judged when you audition. On the other hand you are not a child. You are not there to show daddy your latest math test in hopes that he pats you on the head and puts it on the fridge. You are not a six-year-old, blinking wide-eyed in hopes that daddy won’t instead be grumpy after a long day and ignore you, thus judging you as A Failure.

Fuck that. You are a grown-up who has a work ethic, a drive, a set of skills and a unique way of looking at the world. You have--no, you ARE a unique set of experiences that could offer any show many things of value.

Did I want to get cast by CSF? Of course I did. But I now have the opportunity to do one or two other shows this summer that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. When I roll in to doing ‘August Osage County’ late this summer it won’t be on a wave of exhaustion, on the tail end of working on CSF shows for the previous three months. I’ll have more time to work with Visionbox on my own plays and other original pieces. Plus I am better-positioned to audition for CSF next year--they’ve seen me now, and they know I can do the work; the first hurdle of apprehension--on THEIR part--has been crossed.

Don’t mistake: this is not the little kid sniffling as he walks home from the baseball game where neither team picked him and muttering, ‘Fine. Screw you guys. I didn’t want to play anyway.’ I promise you my sense of relief is genuine, not some self-amelioration in a sad attempt to mask my pain.

Would CSF this year have been a huge opportunity? Yes, of course. Do I have a shit-ton of other opportunities this summer that I haven’t even begun to examine? Oh Yes.

This all might sound slightly insane, like slightly new-agey psychobabble, a jedi mind trick hiding some deeper pain at being rejected or something. I promise you, for me it is not.

To me what is truly insane is living or dying on the opinions of others. It is a sense of neediness, co-dependence and erasure of the self that we would never tolerate in any other aspect of life. Why should we do it in the context of auditions?
“Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of a myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being. And if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.”
--David Mamet