Sunday, May 31, 2009

I hate that f#$%ing lawn


  My Dad took this pic with a telephoto lens today while I went to mow the front lawn and give my guests some peace. I had no idea that I looked so pissed when cutting grass.
  I also had no idea that I look like a day player from a crime-drama show set in the 80's. Watch out, Cagney & Lacey casting department. I think you just found your "bad guy #2." Look at this blowup and then call me:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Class photo

  Here's our unofficial class photo, as provided by Steve (titles and all!) Thanks, man!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Upward, forward

  Final Scenes took place at the DC Studio Theatre last night, and it was quite a show. Most everybody brought their A-Game, and there was some fantastic work on display for our audience. Even though the room was smaller, the turnout was great.
  My scene with Cristina, taken from "The Rainmaker," was last in the order, and we closed the show to tremendous applause. We were in really good shape to give the scene, and we connected beautifully.
  Near the end of the scene, things take a dramatic turn, and my character, Starbuck, says some pretty cutting things to Cristina's Lizzie. We were so deep in it last night that after I laid those words on her, she looked up at me with such hurt in her eyes... and a single tear spilled down her cheek. It was one of the most beautiful and genuine moments I've ever been part of on a stage. I will never forget it.
  After the audience left, the faculty met in a seperate room to discuss the pieces and the actors themselves. Meanwhile, the students all enjoyed a potluck banquet and shared a lot of relieved laughter and memories from the semester. About forty-five minutes later, our instructor returned and sat us all down.
  One by one, she discussed each student's work and progress, and announced the faculty's recommendation as to whether or not the student should proceed or repeat the course. Sadly, about 75% of the students were held back. I had heard ahead of time that the curriculum was really tough, and I now understand why.
  I was the last student discussed, and after seeing some of my peers held back, I was admittedly nervous. I'm very pleased to announce, however, that I successfully completed the course and will be advancing to "Character and Emotion" and "Voice I" next semester. Voice I will be a perfect companion to my voice lessons, and will help me bring what I'm learning there onto the stage and into characters.
  Our instructor had a lot of wonderful things to say about me, but warned me that the next semester would be really challenging. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Otherwise, what's the point? I've learned a lot this semester and I've grown as an actor. I wrote recently that I didn't quite have my breakthrough yet, but I'm right on the edge of it. I think it's going to happen in this next phase, and I can't wait.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pre-performance Shindig!

  Last night, I invited my fellow classmates over to celebrate the end of the semester and get us all primed for the big performance of our final scenes tonight at 8:00!
  I grilled up some steaks and brats; there was corn on the cob, guacamole, potato salad, breads, cheeses, fruit, greek meatballs- just a ton of food. Earlier in the day, I baked one of my apple pies, which was served a la mode after dinner, and somebody brought cookies, too. We also had quite an array of wines throughout the evening, and I enjoyed some sort of plum alcohol that I'm pretty sure could have burned its way through solid steel.
  Suffice it to say, we were all feeling good and loose as we spent the rest of the evening ripping through a game of "Moods;" one of my faves, and a fantastic game for actors.
  We had a good mix of some crazy Bulgarian tunes that Cristina brought and the SIRIUS 90's channel going on, and at the end of the night as everybody was cleaning up and packing to go, there was an impromptu group performance/sing along with the satellite. Good times.
  So, tonight it all comes to a close with our big performance, and there's a little bit of tension in the air. Within the audience will be school faculty who will ultimately decide who advances and who gets held back. I can honestly say I'm looking forward to getting the chance to shine tonight. I have a great scene and a great scene partner, and I think we're going to bring the house down. We're last in the order, so I guess we'll have to! I'm going to try to sneak a video camera in there, so maybe I'll have something to share later in the week.
  Time to put my leading man face on. If you'll excuse me, I have a leg to break.

Friday, May 22, 2009


  I was originally going to post either this video or the sequence I posted yesterday. I decided I'd put this one up too, since I had already made the mpeg. This is a clip of a 16 year old shaggy-headed kid, who looks a lot like I used to, taking a shot to the pills. This is John's favorite video of all time. This one's for you, pal.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A sampling

  You say you're anxious to know the status of my 20 years of Delta Wing Pictures project? You say you're chomping at the bit for some highlights? Well, you're in luck, friend.
  Below you'll see a taste of some of the forthcoming material. These are three bloopers taken from the production of "Gunman" in 1996. Let me set the stage: It was July, about 98 degrees out, we had been shooting all day in the sun, I had badly injured the inside of my right hand, and we had now driven an hour to this location to shoot this scene. Like everybody else, I was fatigued. Even our cameraman was tired, as evidenced by the massive amount of headroom he gave us in these shots. Anyway, here's me completely dropping my lines thirteen years ago. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


  Last night marked the official end of the semester at the DC Studio Theatre. Although both of my classes are over, I still have one more appearance to make, that being the public performance of our final scenes, which happens this coming Monday night at 7:30. It's a very important audience of supporters, fellow students and faculty. I have two more rehearsals between now and then, just to put the final polish on, and I think we're in great shape.
  One of the things I'm most excited about happened in last night's final workshop rendering of our scene and subsequent notes by our instructor. The very thing I've been trying to accomplish all these years as an actor, and especially these past months since I began the only training I've ever had- almost happened. Why would I be excited for an almost? It's difficult to explain.
  When you recognize your weaknesses as a performer, it pinpoints where you have to work, and it forces you to do things outside your comfort zone to accomplish your goals. I've been trying to break down this remaining wall for such a long time now, and last night, I actually got a taste of what that felt like for the first time. It was exhilarating, and gave me tremendous hope.
  I'm having the rest of the class over to my house on Sunday evening for a big post-semester pre-show cookout. We've all worked really hard this quarter and want to send it off in style with plenty of wine, good food and games. Can't wait to see where it all leads next.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kicking of the ass

  That's what my new layout is good at. I worked hard on it and wrote a lot of the code myself based on a loose configuration of codes I Frankensteined from other sites. Yes, I used Frankenstein as a verb. It's legit.
  The new site has a few minor bugs, and I'll be ironing those out, but for the most part, ta-da.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All shweaty from ze Roller Boogie

  Some nights are just such great experiences that you can’t help but enjoy every minute of them. Here are some of my favorite highlights of last night:

  Just the general atmosphere backstage in the hallways as four classes scrambled to ready their scenes. A flurry of furniture and setpieces moving to and fro, being carried by fully costumed characters: showgirls, 1940’s immigrants, famous authors, cops, Asian businesswomen, and me, the cowboy conman.

  Having all my fears allayed when I stepped out onstage and found my voice still available even during this early recovery.

  My instructor put me and my scene partner up front and had us slow dance, pressed against each other, in character, and had us deliver our lines point blank, never breaking eye contact. The intimacy of that moment and my delivery of the line “I wanted to speak to you…alone,” where I leaned in close enough that the brim of my hat hit her forehead. I dribbled the seduction on so thick that it finally broke the tension and made her laugh.

  Another great moment happened when I changed up my delivery on a line. The line was “Attaboy, Jim, you beat that drum,” to an offstage character, and then I’m supposed to step into the doorway of the house and look across the room at Lizzie in a very flirtatious way. I did “Attaboy, Jim,” then stepped in, stared at Lizzie lustfully and said, “mmm…you BEAT that drum.” The entire class lost it, and I broke too.

  Then, just that feeling on the long Metro ride home. Sitting there, making notes in my script as the train rocked on the tracks. Happy to be acting. Happy to be learning.

  “Falling Slowly” pops onto my iPod as I step off the train and walk alone through the Metro station at 1:00am, literally the last person out. A beautiful moment, if bittersweet.

  Filling my very empty stomach when I got home.

  Finding all the joy I could in the short amount of sleep to which I gave myself fully.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back in the saddle

  I've realized this week that I don't "recuperate." I just pause briefly.

  Well, the pause is over and I'm officially back at it. Realistically, I was back at it on Saturday, but for tax purposes, we'll call it today. My Mom, God bless her, did her best to make me rest, which I did for part of the first day. After that, I got tired of wearing bandages and tired of sitting around, so we went out and explored DC. Thanks, Mom. Best surgery ever.
  Yesterday, I went to the doc to have the plastic shunts removed from inside my nose. Remember that part in "Total Recall" where Arnold Schwarzenegger pulls that homing device out of his nose and his nostril stretches to about three times its normal size? It was pretty much like that. It's amazing what can actually fit inside your nose. After the shunts were out, I leaned forward in the chair to talk to the nurse and a huge amount of blood literally spilled out of me and soaked the front of the apron. I apologized and leaned back while the nurse sprayed the inside of my nose with a clotting agent and stuffed me with a little cotton.
  A few minutes later, she removed it and I leaned forward in the chair to stand up. Kaboom! It was like somebody pouring a shotglass full of blood through my nose. This time, I got a little lightheaded and had to lay down. She was a bit concerned about the uncontrollable bleeding, but after laying there for a few minutes, I was cleared to go. I was advised to basically do nothing for a couple of days and try to rest and let things knit themselves back together.
  So then Mom and I went out to breakfast and afterward I took her to the airport and we said our goodbyes. I went home, took about an hour nap, and considered that to be my recovery. I drove up to Maryland and rehearsed for my final scene (public performance in two weeks!), then drove back through a pounding rainstorm, went grocery shopping, and finally got into bed late.
  Today, I'm back on the job, and tonight I have class and performance. I'll get home and in bed around 2AM, be back up at 5AM for work, then leave work and go immediately to my voice lesson. Don't know how much power I'll be able to put out on that, but I have a recital in less than a month and can't afford to slack now!

  And then, of course, it'll be time for the season finale of LOST. I don't give a shit how much I'm bleeding or dying, I'm all over that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

...and he's okay!

  So, the surgery went well, with a few minor post-complications. When I woke up in ICU, I was shaking violently from some side effects of the anesthesia, and the pain was bad enough for me to ask for meds. Once all of that got under control, they put me in recovery, and I rested up for about an hour while Mom came in and stayed with me. I was helped to the dressing room shortly and then put in a wheelchair to be discharged. I had convinced the staff and myself that I was fine. Mom went to pull the Jeep around, and while she was gone, I suddenly got seriously ill and passed out.
   They say I was unresponsive for a short time, and it got everybody a little worried. I woke up with a team of eight people around me, and I was so disoriented that I didn't know where I was or what was hapenning. Somebody ran out and told Mom, and she came back in, naturally a little concerned. I got the shakes again really bad and started vomiting blood. They sent a specialist in to hook me up to the EKG and check out my heart. For some reason, they were worried that there could be something a little heavier wrong with me. Since my original IV had already been pulled out, they had to re-tap me, and the post-op nurse had a hard time with it. She attempted three times to successfully thread the tube into both of my hands, but failed.
  Eventually, she found an anesthesiologist who came and tapped my arm. They filled me with a couple of bags of saline over about an hour and put some warm blankets on me to get me to stop shaking. They also dripped some anti-nausea meds, which pretty well knocked me out. Finally, at about 8:00pm, they discharged me a second time. I made it home, had some food and got a fairly decent amount of sleep, despite having to be in an uncomfortable position all night.
  Today has been pretty much a normal day, except for the constant flow of blood out of my face and the bandage changing that accompanies it. The pain is mild at worst, and I've been up and about almost doing my normal routine. My caretaker is keeping me from getting too out of hand and making me take it easy, but it's already driving me crazy after only one day of recovery. Hopefully tomorrow we can go do something. Cabin fever!!!
  My Mom, being awesome, humored me by taking pictures of the day's events:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slicin' and dicin'

  Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be going under the knife. For those of you who might have missed it in recent blogs, I'm getting surgery for a deviated septum, caused by a number of nose breaks and other head traumas.
  The hope is that this will help me to breathe better at night and at least alleviate some of the apnea issues. It's a fairly big procedure, and I'll be intubated and put fully under. I'm told the recovery is pretty rough. Docs are saying that I will need a week or more of recovery, but I have to be back to the world by Monday night for a rehearsal and then back to work Tuesday morning. I typically bounce back pretty quick, so I'm optimistic about my recoup time.
  I initially told the hospital that I'd take a cab home from the surgery, but they wouldn't allow that and said I'd be physically unable to take care of myself the first couple of days. So, I did what any 35 year old man would do. I called my Mum. I'm flying her in to look after me for the weekend.
  Thanks for the well wishes and prayers all, and I'll catch you on the flip-flop.