Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Time to Blog

Many times since I last blogged in September, I have started typing away and I have hit a writer's block and said, "I'll finish it tomorrow." Each time I push that deadline a wee bit further down the road. I have 16 blogs posted, but I have 9 that I have started but never finished, 3 since I stopped back in September. Life is a little bit different since then. I've finished my first semester of college, I have been deemed a "treat" by some for my behavior. I have made some really great friends and perhaps I have burned some bridges. I have many successes yet I have still managed to fuck up for the sake of looking better or seeming noble. To those of you who have reached out to me during these past couple of months and actually saw me as a friend I thank you. I know I can be socially awkward and weird, I can flamboyant and unruly, and I can seem haughty and pretentious. But for those of you who like, love, and respect me in spite of this, you are my friends and you deserve no less from me.

So what I am going to blog about...frankly I dont know. This started out as a list blog, became a reflective one on my life, then into a music blog, and now...I don't know. This is whatever pops into my brain. I believe though that the title I set out for this blog still applies, I am rambling and I am a red-headed step-child. At my theatre group. In the honors housing. In the theatre department. I am the butt of the jokes and the punchline where one is needed. I encourage this a bit, yes. This teasing may be out of love for some, for others there are tinges of malice in their words. I cannot read people that well so for my own sanity I assume the former the majority of the time. But I know at times I have deserved the latter reason.

My god I can be the moody kind can't I? Honestly, I'm writing this to just get stuff out of my system and frankly being the slight narcissist that I am
"Nate loves himself. Nate is the Best" - BeefyMuchacho
I credit the Beefy Muchacho for taking those lyrics and matching them to "Carol of the Bells." Anywho, I've decided I might write these more as stream of consciousness now, because it just allows me to write, and yes ramble. So perhaps I should hit the high points of college


-Awesome Classes, for the most part, of the one I didn't like it had amazing people in it. If any of them read my blog, they know who they are (CMST 101-011 MWF 11:00-12:00 WOOT!)

-A rather acclaimed debut in the freshman show, Spoon River Anthology, gives me some hope for the next few semesters here.

-A smattering of friends. The honors wing at Callahan, you guys are awesome. Some of the really great people in the theatre department. I met my closest theatre friends pretty much first few days of school: Cynthea, Katie, Luke, Claire, and Eliot. You guys are amazing. I love our many nights of shennanigans. Longbottom, man, its been great getting to know you and I appreciate that you are one of the few people who will text me without prompting, thats why I like you. :) Laura, I love that after our the first get together for theatre department you randomly posted on my wall and have always invited me along to do stuff with you and your roomies. I really appreciate your compliments on my performances especially when I wasn't getting the feedback, any kind (good or otherwise), I wanted. For that, you and your blog get a shameless plug. She writes pretty well folks, give her a read!
Glitter Lasts Forever

-Understanding upperclassmen. Im not sure if its a good or a bad thing that Im on better terms with most of the upperclassmen in the honors wing and in the theatre department than those in the freshmen class. Oh well, I will remedy that soon enough. Thanks to you guys for letting me into the department so warmly. Thank you for being kind to me, giving me second chances, even after how much of a "treat" I was at my debut for the theatre department, not the freshmen show mind you.

-All Things Geeky. I have found more fellow Doctor Who fans right here in Callahan than the past two years since I started watching the show. I joined Dungeons and Dragons for Christ's Sake. And I LOVE IT!

-Debauchery, Im a college student guess what kind of debauchery it is.

I really don't feel like addressing the lows and I know you guys don't really feel like reading them so I will end it there. I will try my damndest to do more blogs but I really want to get cast in something and get a job and all that good stuff. So I will leave you on these high notes and bid you happy holidays and an even happier new year if I don't blog before that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

FML. The Unofficial Motto of My Life

Dramatic Irony (n.) -
irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.

Irony is a concept that many people today have no idea how to properly use. So I looked it up and found the best definition that suits what I'm about to talk about

I am dramatic irony's bitch.

I view Dramatic Irony not as a concept but a like a spirit or something that decides when he(or she) decides that my life needs a bit more tragedy, or to him/her, comedy!

One of the most preveliant examples of this in my life I don't feel like getting into right now, it involves the circumstances around my junior prom....let that just ferment in your imagination for a while.

The most recent example was today. I took the shuttle to campus from Callahan this morning, swiped my All-Card to get on, as I got off and the shuttle was driving away, I cannot find my All-Card. This sends me into a flurry of panic. I am searching every nook and cranny of my wallet, nothing. I dig through my messenger bag, zip. I empty all my pockets, nada. I go over to the All-Card office to hold my card so no one can use it until I reactivate it. After my classes, I have my friend Mychelle search the bus as she gets on, no luck. So I decide, I'll just pay the ten dollars and get a new All-Card. As I am walking out of the student union, three of my honors hall roomies, while manning their community service booth, they ask me if I had lost my All-Card. I could just sense what was about to happen. They told me that the shuttle driver had my card...Fuck...My...Life.

Granted this is miniscule in the grand scheme of things but I still feel that this is one of the many things that Dramatic Irony likes to pile on my life just to get a reaction out of my. I realize I could be seen as overreacting but I feel that this is just part of the fabric of my life. The sun rises and sets, the seasons change, I get fucked by the omnipresent Dramatic Irony.

This is a shorter blog than most but I just need to vent and the moment I hit publish and get this all out of my system, I will return to my slightly sunny disposition that you all know and love about me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Tribute to the Beloved Entertainer: Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello. The angry young man. The eclectic musician. The "Beloved Entertainer," a name he gave himself on his album "Spike," for one of the more interesting album covers I have seen. For those that know me, and I doubt anyone who reads this blog doesn't already know me, Elvis Costello has become my all-time favorite musician. His pop sensibilities mixed with a punk attitude make for some really great beats and hooks. What sets him apart are his lyrics, the man practically goes through a thesaurus for each song. His love for wordplay and puns can be a little corny at times but even when his lyrics arent the best, his music picks him up. So for this little tribute, Ive decided to list off my top 5 Elvis Costello albums, in chronological order.

1. This Year's Model - 1978

This album, though many of the songs where written during the production of his first album, My Aim is True, its the backing band, The Attractions, that really allow Costello's words to pop and to make the Angry Young Man, of a mere 24 years old, live up to his namesake. There's a reason when Costello was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, it was with the Attractions, as opposed to him being solo. Pete Thomas's stellar drumming ability is evident on "No Action," "Lipstick Vogue," and "Radio Radio," where he almost steals the focus from Costello's lyrics. Steve Nieve's keyboard skills, are underrated on this album and really give tracks like "The Beat," "You Belong to Me," and "Pump It Up" a lot of its new-wave sensibilities. Nieve's opening to "Little Triggers" is just phenomenal and gives the song a classic quality that we would see reemerge on albums Imperial Bedroom and Trust. Bruce Thomas's, no relation to Pete, bass line on "Pump It Up," and "You Belong to Me," can get buried under Nieve's Piano, Pete's drums, and Costello's voice and guitar but still makes itself really distinct but without drawing attention to itself. Of course, the main draw, along with Costello's guitar playing ability as evident in "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," his lyrics are some of the best of his career. "This Year's Girl," "You Belong to Me," "Hand in Hand," "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," every track on this album features strong lyrics that trying to pick out a week track is far more difficult than singling any particular track. However, if there is one track on this album, that deserves any mention, its the closing track "Radio Radio," the song that got Costello banned from Saturday Night Live for the next twenty-two years. Costello's scathing criticism of radio censorship and how punk bands like The Sex Pistols, were denied air time is one of the most well-written and high energy songs in his cannon, and that means A LOT. In short, this is my all-time favorite album and I cannot say it enough that "This Year's Model," is a timeless testament to Costello's powers as a lyricist and The Attractions ability to rock your face off.

2. Trust - 1981
Trust, Elvis Costello's fifth album, applies the melodies of his third album, Armed Forces, and the rhythms of his fourth album, Get Happy!!, to create this great mixture of pop and R&B that hides some of the bite of Costello's words, this was not unintentional. The album, according to most music sources, is Costello's response to Thatcher's election as Prime Minister and the rising tensions between him and his first wife. With the cover, we see Costello sporting some rose-tinted glasses, seeing a dark world (lyrics) through bright glasses (music). The opening track, "Clubland," showcases Nieve's piano-playing skills and, in fact, Nieve might be the most prevalent Attraction on this album. A track on the album, "From a Whisper to a Scream," sums up the range of this album. The whisper of Costello's voice in "Watch Your Step" and "New Lace Sleeves," proves he doesn't need to be loud to command our attention. The scream comes in "Clubland," "Luxembourg," and "From a Whisper to a Scream," showing us that even though he's branching out, he still knows how to rock. The standout tracks on this album are "Clubland," and "New Lace Sleeves." "New Lace Sleeves" in particular opens up with an amazing drum line and bass line that I could just listen to the opening moments of that song on loop. Combined with Costello's vocals that really hint at some dark undercurrents in his marriage. With Get Happy! and Trust, Costello proves that his band wasn't just limited to the new wave movement, which was winding down, but had more range than anyone thought they had, going on to the most ambitious album on this list.

3. Imperial Bedroom - 1982
Imperial Bedroom: The title says it all. Its grandious and it sounds like Costello is very comfortable in what seemed like a far-cry from his first trilogy of albums. To make this album, Costello recruited Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer that worked with The Beatles on Revolver, Abbey Road, and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I'm about to say a piece of musical blasphemy...are you ready? I think this album is far better than any of three Beatles albums I just mentioned. I await your hate mail. Anywho, the album opens with a track that sets the mood for the album, if the Picasso-style cover art didn't already: "Beyond Belief." There's an airy quality to Costello's voice in the opening tack along with some sound techniques that conjure what would happen if New Wave tackled Psychedelia. I know I'm pretty much professing my love for Steve Nieve when it comes to this retrospective but the albums I've chosen so far really use him more than I thought first time around. He's fantastic in "The Loved Ones" with the speed at which he hits the keys or in the way he portrays melancholy in "The Long Honeymoon," or the fact that he conducts a freaking ORCHESTRA for "...And in Every Home." The only track that sounds like the Angry Young Man at first is "Man out of Time," opening up with an amazing wail and then soundly breaks into this beautifully composed number with some great abstract lyrics. Even if the lyrics for that song make absolutely new sense, the chorus "To murder my love is a crime/ but would you still love a man out of time," and the tender way Costello sings it still makes you feel something. Every instrument imaginable is on this album: horns, strings, accordions, up to a forty-piece orchestra on "The Long Honeymoon." One song that reminds of another album I reviewed earlier on this blog, Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours, is "Almost Blue." Costello sinks to the lower parts of his register and that sets the mood for the song along with Steve Nieve's piano and even Bruce Thomas's bass present a truly saddening but beautiful song. "Pidgin English," "Little Savage," and "Human Hands," are all fantastic tracks and this album as a whole is simply masterful When originally marketing the album, Columbia decided to display the album's cover with the slogan, "Masterpiece?" The album was widely praised but sadly the sales didnt match the enthusiasm of the critics. While it may not be my favorite Costello album, it is one of his bests. Costello's Imperial Bedroom, in its title, foreshadowed Costello's next great album

King of America - 1986
After two widely-panned pure pop albums, Punch the Clock and Goodbye Cruel World, Costello decided to do something rather radical, explore country and Americana music. Granted he did explore it on the album Almost Blue several years before, but that was a cover album. Here Costello not only works with T-Bone Burnett, a music producer that specializes in Americana who produced the O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Crazy Heart soundtracks, but he dumps the Attractions, save for one track. He strips out a lot of production that plagued his last two albums and plays all the tracks live in studio. One of the new additions to Costello's creative team comes in the form of his second wife, Cait O'Riordan, the former bassist of the Pogues, who helped co-write the second track, "Lovable." This is one of his most introspective and insightful albums. The album opens with "Brilliant Mistake," which shifts from third to first person and gives the album its title. "I wish that I could push a button and talk in the past, and not the present tense," I don't know why but this is a lyric that sticks for me. But there is still enough acid in his lyrics that make us remember this is Costello, just a bit more older and worldly. "Lovable," seems to be directed at his ex-wife, using a lot of wordplay to in the lyrics to be the antithesis of the song title. All the tracks on here are hidden treasures that usually aren't mentioned among Costello's greats. The only tracks that I don't much care for are the covers on this album: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,"and "Eisenhower Blues." Costello almost sounds like a concerned father in "Our Little Angel." "Glitter Glutch" seems to be about Costello's ex-wife again or at least or family, vultures after his money. "Indoor Fireworks" seems to be about how the spark of love in his first marriage seem to die out. "Jack of All Parades" keeps a light atmosphere but the lyrics follow the theme of a collapsing marriage. I think that's where the expression on Costello's face comes from on the album cover. He's acheived so much in his career but at the same time, he's suffering and dealing with personal issues and world issues like in "Little Palaces" and "America Without Tears." Of Costello's genre jumping albums, this is my favorite. He shows far more depth than we had chance to see before in tracks like "I'll Wear it Proudly," and "Sleep of the Just." Of course Costello couldn't introvert all his emotions for long, in the very same year, he releases the final album on this list.

Blood and Chocolate - 1986

Blood and Chocolate. The title alone tells us that we are in for a rich, gory record. The opening track, "Uncomplicated," tells us that this is the Costello we fell in love with on This Year's Model, a Costello not bogged down with production values but delicious biting lyrics and uncomplicated punk sound. To return to his punk roots, Costello brought back Nick Lowe, the producer on his first four albums, and the Attractions and they help to turn Costello from the quiet suffer from King of America to the incredibly angry divorcee in tracks like "I Hope Your Happy Now." "I Hope Your Happy Now" is the most-played song on my Ipod, it sports some of the most sharp and pointed lyrics Costello has ever written...let that sink in. If there's any song to match, the bile that Costello spews in that song, it's "I Want You." "I Want You" starts out with a soft acoustic guitar and sweet lyrics, making us think we're in for a sweet love song, but then the guitar goes electric and creeps along and digs in along with Costello's vocals, are then joined by Nieve's organ that sounds like it would come out of an old Hammer horror film. This song goes on for six minutes and every moment drips with venom, but there are points where there are hints of sadness and then he brushes them off to get back to his message: "I want you/The truth can't hurt you/It's just like the dark/It scares you witless/but in time you'll see things clear and stark." This song is creepier than "Every Breath You Take," but it is one of Costello's best songs. I could recommend it on those two tracks alone, but the rest of album is equally great. "Tokyo Storm Warning" is a six minute travelogue into the bizarre (ala "Stuck inside a Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again). "Home is Anywhere You Hang Head" gives us an idea of Costello traveling while his marriage was falling apart from bar to bar, drowning his misery. The closing track, "Next Time Round," Costello is essentially saying, "I'm done, after this song I've worked it all out of my system. Bon Voyage, Bitch!"

If you've managed to make your way to the end of this post, I'm really thankful that you've gone on this retrospective with me. Even if sometime in the future, my love for Costello's music begins to die out, he still has acted as a catalyst in my music taste; introducing me to Jenny Lewis, Joe Jackson, The Pogues, T-Bone Burnett, etc. I hope if you haven't already given these records a listen, my blog has peaked your interest enough to do so.
This is the Red-Headed Step-Child and I think I'll leave you with one of my favorite performances from the Beloved Entertainer.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 1001 album challenge

Oh. Dear. God.
Two months, two mother-flipping months. I am the laziest blogger ever.

I'm not sure why it is, maybe its because I'm writing most of my personal stuff in my journal and it just suck all the potential material for the blog into that. I've had an idea to put my pile of shame list on here of albums and movies that Ive yet to hear and see but I think I would just be hit with a wave of hate had I done that...granted I dont think enough people read this to send my hate mail. Before writing this I had two ideas, one was my feelings before heading off to college, the other was talking about my progress in my 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die challenge. Its an expansion on my evolution of musical taste post of sorts. Ive felt that my taste has always been a bit limited and I wanted to expand into genres, sub-genres, and bands that I hadn't heard before. Many of you would say, "Well, you can still do that without listening to 1001 albums." True, but I'm a competitive person and I need some sort of motivation to keep me going. Perhaps if I had a blogger that challenged me to a blogging contest, I would write for this blog more often.

So far I've listened to eighty-one albums, the latest one being Santana's Abraxas. I'm currently listening to my number eighty-two: The Smiths - Meat is Murder. Of the eighty-one so far, I listened to forty of them before officially starting the challenge. Of the 1001 albums listed in the the book I've picked out about 300 to start out listening to, artists and genres I've always been meaning to listening to but have never really motivated myself to: Iggy and the Stooges, Radiohead, Neil Young, 2Pac, Frank Sinatra, I could go on and on.

I've decided to share of the eighty-one albums I've listened to so far to pick out five of my favorites so far, in no particular order.

The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God
The Pogues are a band that formed in England in the mid-to-late 80s with a very bold, new concept: irish folk with a punk twist. Their first album, Red Roses for Me, was overwrought with production values and relied too heavily on the booze imagery. Their second album, another one of my favorites, Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash, was a stripped-down album with little t0 no production punch-ups. This was in part due to the producer, Elvis Costello, who wanted to capture the Pogues at their rawest state. It's a stellar album, but if you put a gun to my head, I would say I prefer their third album: If I Should Fall From Grace With God. Under the direction of Steve Lilywhite, the album clicks along with not just Irish influences, but Middle-Eastern, Spanish, and Jazz. While Shane McGowan, the lead singer/songwriter, slurs and sings slackjawed on this album, he is writing some fantastic poetry that goes along with the music so beautifully. The title track opens this album up with a kick and the first four tracks are all stellar songs that I play over and over. You cannot, I mean CANNOT, discuss this album without talking about track 4: Fairytale of New York. This song is in every word an epic and in only four minutes and a half minutes time. Its a beautiful duet between McGowan and Irish pop star, Kirsty MacColl. It's the anti-Christmas song about two Irish immigrants falling apart one Christmas in New York City. Everything about the song is perfect, the vocals, the intro, the sweep of the music. I would recommend the album solely on that track alone. However, the album as a whole is amazing. It's a must-have for lovers of both Irish-folk and Clash-style punk.

Peter Gabriel -
Peter Gabriel III: Melt
The former frontman of Genesis broke off with the band in the mid-to-late seventies and started a solo career that allowed him to do everything he wanted to do with the band in such albums as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway without being constrained to them. While he had hit songs on his first self-titled album like "Solsbury Hill," he really hit his stride with his third album, released in 1980, commonly referred to as Melt. The album's opening track, "Intruder," involves sounds I had never heard used in music before, a sound of a creaking metal coil that just sends chills down my spine far more than the opening sound of "Thriller." Gabriel plays with world music with songs like "Biko," and "Games Without Frontiers." He also brings some great rocking songs with "Through the Wire," and "I Don't Remember." Progressive rock would not be the same without Gabriel. his taste for the unconventional and the theatrical, and his great lyrics would be further recognized with the critical and commercial success of his fifth album, So, but here is where he is at his best. Seek this album and out and trust me when I saw Melt will blow your mind. (You thought I was going to say "melt," didnt you. Well sadly, as much as I love wordplay and referencing the title like a 2nd rate critic, it doesnt really make sense.)

Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours
This album was a watershed moment in music and how we listen to it. Before the release of this record, most music recordings were simply popular singles or a mish-mash of greatest hits. Sinatra helped to bring forth the concept of an album that has an overriding theme or story rather than just a collection of songs that have nothing in common with one another, sans the artist that performs them. In the Wee Small Hours was recorded right after his relationship with Ava Gardner fell apart rather badly. Sinatra is swelling with emotions: dispair, melancholy, sadness, anger, and he shows it with every chord of his voice. With the opening track, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," he sums up that feeling anyone has right after a romance goes on the rocks. The violins and horns help to bring forth this feeling of sheer melancholy that is also summed up in the cover art for the album. The way Sinatra is drawn, fedora back, cigarette in hand, sullen face, coupled with the shades of blue in the background just tells you that had told listeners to "Swing Easy!" was nowhere to be found on this album and the album is much better for it. Tracks like "Glad to Be Unhappy," "Can't We Be Friends," and "It Never Entered My Mind" are brimming with cynicism and sarcasm that only come with a broken heart. He also displays this beautiful sadness in tracks like, "I Get Along Without You," and "Mood Indigo" that I have only heard in one other album, Johnny Cash's American IV: When the Man Comes Around. It doesn't matter where your music interests lie, Sinatra presents the quintessential break-up album that you will return to again and again in the wee small hours of the morning.

Jay-Z - The Blueprint
As many know, I am quite possible one of the whitest guys people in the Cincinnati area. I cannot dance and until I started the challenge, I did not have a single rap album in my Itunes...unless you count the Beastie Boys. Sadly a lot of my peers don't recognize them as legitimate rap but Jay-Z's The Blueprint is a good place to start. The opening track, "The Ruler's Back," is a declaration like no other. I think one thing that kept me away from rap was the hubris and arrogance that is associated with the genre but "The Ruler's Back," in all its pomp and circumstance, complete with triumphant horns, is totally justified. Granted, you have classic examples like "Girls, Girls, Girls," that are seen as demeaning women but it's Jay-Z's list of relationships come and gone that lets you see the extravagance of the life of a successful rapper. This wouldn't be notable without the contrast the album provides with two visions of New York. Jay-Z tells the story of two New Yorks: one of excess and one of poverty. With the title track, he presents the latter, with tracks like "All I Need," he presents the former. The lyrics rival any of my favorite songwriters: Costello, Young, McGowan. To me, that's where Rap excels, even though so much importance is placed on the beat of the music, lyrics are what allow a song to be timeless and can merit repeat listens. Sooner or later, a beat will get tired and old, that's when you listen to the message and you hear something that you never paid attention to before and there are examples where you find poetry. The Blueprint is such an example.

Neil Young - Harvest
Americana at its finest...sung by a Canadian. Young's most successful album, with his most beloved song, "Heart of Gold," is an amazing record from start to finish. Part of the reason I put this one on here instead of After the Gold Rush is I need to give it a few more listens to properly dissect and critique. Its an eclectic album, ranging from simple acoustics "Out on the Weekend," "Harvest," to electric rock numbers "Alabama," "Are You Ready for the Country," to the orchestral sweep of "A Man Needs a Maid" and "There's a World." The album has similarities to Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours, with several songs about love's labors lost: "Heart of Gold," "A Man Needs a Maid," and "Out on the Weekend." The title of the album makes me think that Neil Young harvested all his resources, in terms of musical style and musical artists, James Taylor and Linda Ronstandt make appearances on the album, to create a gateway album to Neil Young's other works. This album was a bit of a double-edged sword for Young; on the one hand: its his most commercially successfully album, on the other hand: its made many casual fans insesentially request songs from this album, "Heart of Gold" specifically, at live performances and neglecting the rest of his discography. Despite Young's attempt to distance himself from this album, its a great place to start if your unfamiliar with his work. The lyrics are moving and the music soothing, the album glides along providing a beautiful listening experience that is worth your time.

Those are my five new favorite albums at the moment. Depending on how driven I am to continue you this series I will keep updating with new finds and favorites that I may have. Hopefully I can post more frequently with an range of topics....yeah, sure.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lost in Translation

Okay, this blog doesn't deal with the film Lost in Translation, another movie on my pile of shame, but it does have to do with film in general.

I just finished watching Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo; a film often claimed to be considered his masterpiece. It is an extremely well-directed, well-acted, well-written movie but there's something missing. After the film, I watched a featurette on the DVD about the restoration and these film scholars talking about how they were jealous about people watching the film for the first time, and being amazed with the film. I was not blown away by the film, I was drawn into the film and the last moments are truly emotional but like I said there is something missing. The restoration team talked about transferring the film onto 70 mm to give it the feel that Hitchcock was looking for and the shots to emulate the dizziness Jimmy Stewart is feeling. This cinematic masterpiece for some reason did not blow me away.

I realized what was missing. It was the loss of the cinematic feel that happens when watching a film on your television. In the past couple of weeks, I've watched All the King's Men, In the Heat of the Night, The King of Comedy, and Miller's Crossing. All are fantastically shot pieces of film but they lose a bit of the wonder about them when you're watching it on a TV that is so small in comparison to a movie theater screen. There is something lost in translation from movie theatre to home television that makes the films feel incomplete. Of the films I listed off, I think Miller's Crossing came off the best as the majority of this film was shot with a long lens as opposed to a wide-angle one. The beauty of Miller's Crossing is not in it's breadth but it's depth.

When watching a film like Vertigo, All the King's Men, or In the Heat of the Night, there's something about the size of screen and the scope of the images projected onto the screen. Willy Stark in All the King's Men is a giant, and we get that with the shots and the angles chosen. The close-ups of him during his speeches, the shot of him from the balcony of the governor's mansion but the overwhelming feel is confined to a screen that is no bigger across than I am tall. I think that can be seen with a film like Citizen Kane, where the angles do very much the same and give it a grandiose feel. Quite of few of my friends took a history of film class and had to watch Citizen Kane as it is one of the most influential and greatest films of all time...some of them were underwhelmed, others hated it. I have not seen Citizen Kane but when I hear people like Siskel and Ebert talk about it, saying they have watched it at least fifty times, there has to be something about it.

I don't believe that this lose of wonder in translation from one medium to another is exclusive for film but most media. When I perform in a show, I often get a DVD of the performance of that show and I rarely ever watch it. There is something boring about it, a loss of the adrenaline a staged play can have or the personal feel that it can have. It's like reading a book on a movie screen or looking a Van Gogh painting feels incomplete or not all there.

It may be that I'm discovering that I'm a purist when it comes to entertainment and I don't like to see things in any way other than the way they are intended to be seen but I know that cannot always be possible. I know that I will never get to see Michael Moorehead's A Piece of My Heart on anything except a home video copy of it. I know the chances of seeing a re-release of Lawrence of Arabia in a movie theatre are incredibly slim. I know that listening to new music off an LP is pretty much an extinct practice. That does not stop me from wanting and wishing to do all three anyway

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Evolution of Musical Taste

Alright, I haven't being working on my blog on a regular basis for two reasons: 1) I'm incredibly lazy, 2)whenever I start a post I get writer's block and don't know how to continue. So far I've started four different posts all unfinished. They involve my time with Wartville Wizard, my favorite Elvis Costello songs, how I feel often out of place in terms of my age and who I hang out with, and how giving a friend a sword made him so happy he looked like a kid at Christmas. But at some point with all those posts I hit a block and I can never seem to get past it. It just stops and I can never find a way to finish. So I've decided to combine these posts in some ways and take a look back on the evolution of my musical taste.

To my earliest days, my musical taste relied heavily on what my parents and my sister had. From my parent's taste, the first three CDs I listened to were Into the Woods British original cast, The Producers original Broadway cast, and Alan Parson's Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination. With the addition of my sister's collection of Weird Al Yankovic and Japanese pop music, one can say that I was on the outer most fringe in late elementary school, early junior high.

Going into junior high, I had very little understanding of modern music culture. Instead of a regular music CD, on the bus to school I listened to Bob and Tom in the Morning. This got me a lot of odd looks considering the fact that I was laughing out loud on a bus at 7 in the morning. Yeah, junior high was not a good time for me whatsoever. This is also where my musical tastes began to evolve with two notable artists. My sister had recently got a copy of the three disc edition of Queen's Greatest Hits. My love for the theatrical connected well with the bombastic operatic style of Queen. Many people who went to Andros with me may remember my air guitaring to "Killer Queen" while standing on the deck of the boat in the middle of the ocean...or not. Like most white junior high kids, I jumped on the Green Day bandwagon and rocked out to American Idiot. I generally liked the music even when it does overreach in its "political message." I think what did the most to stretch my musical taste was the introduction of Guitar Hero into my video game collection. From there I was introduced to Bowie, ZZ Top, Franz Ferdinand, Sum 41, and made me add so many songs to my PSP. I had a PSP at the time instead of my current Ipod.

I think my second great expansion came with the 2008 election. Up until then, most of my musical taste was with musicals: Avenue Q, Assassins, and Wicked. Where the 2008 election comes into play was that I was a HUGE political junkie. I watched all the shows I could about the election including live streams of Obama rallies. This is where I heard two songs: Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" and U2's "City of Blinding Lights." From here I pulled copies of Springsteen's The Rising, Magic, and Working on a Dream. The first two I highly recommend, the third...not so much. Around this time I also traded in my broken PSP for an 8G Ipod Nano. Thanks to my friend Greg, who I worked with in Over the Tavern, I also picked up Born to Run and The Innocent, the Wild, and the E-Street Shuffle.

Springsteen was another jumping off point. All while I was increasing my Springsteen collection, I watched A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, which included along with originally written pieces included the song "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding." At the time, I thought this was written for the special, until I looked it up and found that it was written by Nick Lowe and then covered by Elvis Costello. I run across Costello again when I found No Retreat, No Surrender on Jams Bio where I found best sophomore album efforts where I found Elvis Costello's This Year's Model. This is when I ordered This Year's Model from my library along with Costello's other albums in his original trilogy of My Aim is True, This Year's Model, and Armed Forces. From here I pretty much got all the albums from his discography and he has become one of my favorite artists.

From Costello, I discovered Pandora and from there my musical tastes expanded even further. I found R.E.M., The Clash, Joe Jackson. So with Pandora, I found a lot of the "new wave/punk" artists of the time, though I still haven't been caught up into Talking Heads. With Costello, through his show Spectacle, which you should definitely look up on Youtube, I also found out about Jenny Lewis, She and Him, and Rilo Kiley. Now where things get interesting is after I have an Itunes account and I see this contest to get $100,000 on Itunes if I'm like the 100 millionth person to buy a song. So I decide to look at their best selling songs on Itunes and I buy, are you ready for this?...Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." I really enjoy "Poker Face," don't ask me why, I just do. From there, I got her debut album, The Fame, from the library, and I like it, again don't ask me why, I just do.

So, this is how my taste in music has evolved over six years, from musicals and Alan Parson's Project to Elvis Costello and Lady Gaga. So where does this leave me? Am I finally entering the modern music age with Gaga or am I stuck in the past with Costello, Dylan, Springsteen? I think I'm just developing an appreciation for a broad spectrum of music, but that's just me stroking my ego. Right now at the library I'm waiting for my albums of She and Him, Blondie, and Cobra Starship to come in, I think that says a lot by itself. Right now, my Ipod has about a gig left of space All I know is that if I begin listening to Ke$ha, please kill me.

My top ten favorite albums currently
1. This Year's Model -Elvis Costello
2. Look Sharp! - Joe Jackson
3. The Innocent, the Wild, and the E-Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen
4. Under the Blacklight - Rilo Kiley
5. Highway 61 Revisted - Bob Dylan
6. King of America - Elvis Costello
7. Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis
8. Platinum Collection - Queen
9. Assassins - 2004 Broadway Revival
10. The Fame - Lady Gaga

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Theatrical Year: Post Mortem Part 4

Wow, I have not blogged in a month. I most apologize to my readers for this atrocity...all three of you.

March 2010
Comic Potential

Okay, now as many of you know, as most of the readers are fellow members, my family and I are members are The Drama Workshop (TDW), a community theatre on the west side. Now as I am teenager who does not do musicals and goes to a school without any theatre program, meaty roles are few and far between. In the past two years at TDW, my credits have included Hot Dog Vendor and Mac...impressive aint it? This year, TDW chose for their winter show, Comic Potential, a British sci-fi romantic-comedy...with robots. When the show was being considered by the play reading committee, several members read a certain character and believed that I would be perfect for the role. The role: Young Man, Alex Crayshaw, a whiny character who complains about his broken foot and cries...another reason why I am the red-headed step-child of TDW.

For this show, I got to work with four people whom I had worked with at least once before. Kasmira, of fame, Jim, Henry, and Tom. The rest of the cast I had met before through parties and such. An interesting turn of events led one of the cast members to drop out of the show and to be subsequently replaced by the Beefy Muchacho himself, This was the second show in a year that I was in with both Kasmira and the Muchacho.

The show was interesting enough with me ending up with a total of four roles plus acting as the pre-show announcement, all with varying British accents. Of those four roles, the dress shop assistants will probably go on my list of my favorite bit parts following my Edward G Robinson inspired Mac in You Can't Take it With You. Though I must say, that Kasmira was absolutely awesome in her part and having worked with her since her first community theatre role in Mrs Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge, she has grown immensely and I cannot wait to work with her again.

Probably my most memorable moments would be off the stage for this show. The first being my heart-to-heart with the Muchacho during Tech week when I nearly broke down crying because of my Evansville rejection. The other being after opening night, a good portion of the cast went down to Boswell's Alley, where it was karaoke night. Most of the singers are good and then you come to "Crazy Drunk Tone-deaf Bitch Who Decided to Butcher Queen" or CDTBWDBQ...roles of the tongue. She requested Bohemian Rhapsody; now if we had just let her sing, then it would have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. However, since it became a great group participation event which counteracted all the suck being exerted by the said CDTBWDBQ.

This was not one of my favorite shows, it was a fun show despite lackluster ticket sales, especially disappointing after being told that I was the common factor of the highest grossing productions for the past three years. There were other faults but I cannot address them as I do not wish to open up a can of worms that I cannot close.

So there's Comic Potential and my senior year in theatre. I'll admit that the schedule with all these shows did get hectic at times but overall it was a fun year and if I could, I would do it again.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Theatrical Year: Post Mortem Part 3

I would give this another semi-colon title, Committing to the Groundlings, to play on both the post mortem and the Groundlings themes of the blog, but since I have about two or three already, I don't really want to have title overkill. I thought it I would have the Groundlings post mortem today since today was my last Groundlings class ever, at least the last one I can pay for.

As some of you may know, Groundlings is the high school drama program at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; Groundlings is an ensemble building program that culiminates in, shocker, a performance of a Shakespeare show. I am going to break my own rules here with not going before July 2009, as this is not just a post mortem for the year but for my Groundlings experience.

I met Jeremy at Ashland University for an Ohio Summer Honors course in comedy sports. I was misled in the fact that not only was this a course in improvisation but Shakespeare. Now, I had just finished freshman english, in which the class read A Midsummer Night's Dream...which was taught piss poorly, so naturally my perception of Shakespeare was skewed in a rather negative direction. So I was less than pleased that I would be working with Shakespearean text and I was given a scene from William Shakespeare's Macbeth, it was a fun scene but nothing spectacular. What really changed my perception was there was a scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was absolutely hilarious, still some of the funniest Shakespeare I have ever seen. Jeremy is an Artistic Associate at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company as well as an ensemble member there, which explains his expertise in the field.

Jump two years later, I decide to join Groundlings at the pestering of my friend Ali Y, which I thank her for. I met some really great people there who I hope to keep in contact with during and after the summer. The first semester is what I generally liked: improvisation, acting exercises, text work, and cold reads. With each I learned a little bit more about myself as an actor as well as the other members of the class. The second semester is when we start the rehearsals for the final performances. My first year it was Julius Caesar and my second year it was The Hamlet Project.

Julius Caesar was extremely interesting considering when the day casting decisions were made, I was given the role of the man himself. Of course, I learned that Caesar is more of a supporting character in the play, makes sense as he *spoilers* he dies halfway through the play. This role was still a big deal for me, considering that Caesar is contained, in control, and an imposing figure...three things that many would say are not my primary traits. I did everything I could, with the help of our director Justin, to embody and transform myself in Caesar: deepen my voice, stand taller and broader, walk with purpose and stride, and to quiet my talkative hands. I'm still unsure of how to feel about this role aside from my death and my ghost scene, which both really kicked ass. Where I am unsure of is during the other scenes, I loved my lines, I had a really great monologue right before my death but I felt like I was simply saying the words rather than putting life into the lines. Also I didn't really get too much praise, to be expected considering the majority of praise was being heaped upon our Brutus, Cassius, and Marc Antony, which makes sense as they are the main focus of the play and the actresses playing each of them were phenomenal.

Jumping to the fall of the next year; I'll do a camp retrospective when camp has come and gone. I was there for the majority of the fall semester dates but my main focus was on the behemoth that was Epic Proportions. So Groundlings was more of an escape from my overarching stress. There was a change in the format this year in terms of the performances where instead of full plays, we performed "projects." These projects were either a selection of scenes from multiple plays or an abbreviated play. The Hamlet Project, was the latter. In The Hamlet Project I played Claudius, my first villain role. Here's where things got complicated, a lot of my saturdays, the day groundlings meets, I was either auditioning for colleges or working towards my Eagle. So I missed A LOT of rehearsals, to the point where my director said that one of the group pieces would become my own soliloquy. Granted this meant more personal stage time for me, but I felt bad that I was really letting the group down by not being there. So for the last four rehearsals, I kicked into high gear. Our director let me go a good deal over-the-top with the role, to the point I actually laughed maniacally at one point. The result, from my own personal opinion and some of the accolades I put it bluntly, I kicked ass! Not only did I really feel good about the role but I received some really great genuine compliments. It's fairly easy to tell when some when is saying "good job" (here's a participation badge) and "really great work/you're awesome/I love you," (sincerity). Last year was the "good job," and this year was the latter. You can see for yourself(, start at 3:07 and you can see my whole soliloquy. I think this is my best Shakespearean performance so far.

I think over the course of the four years Jeremy has been my teacher, I have really grown as an actor in terms of my abilities in Shakespearean text and as a result, contemporary drama. I think Groundlings really gave me a great environment to really explore my facets as an actor. I could not have done this without the tremendous ensemble: Katie, Daniel, David, Callie, Margaret, Ali, Sarah, Mattea, Katherine, Carmel, Murray, Rosie, the list goes on and on. I also felt that I didn't need to censor myself in terms of my energy and my passion. At school, people see me a bit more under control, more of a quiet intellectual who monitors what he says and does. At Groundlings, I am an unbridled ball of energy and it is awesome. I just hope that I can apply this energy to my time in college theatre.

"But if the while, I think on thee, dear friend/ All losses are restored, and sorrows end." Sonnet 30, William Shakespeare

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going for the Gold

I want to take a break from my theatrical reflective to something that's being plaguing my mind for the past couple of days. This past week has been my spring break and since A)My family doesn't travel and B)I still don't drive, I have been spending the time watching some of this year's Oscar contenders. I watched Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, and Up in the Air. I also found these really well made videos on youtube with all the Oscar winners in the major categories ( I would definitely check them out. If you haven't guessed, I'm short of on an Oscar binge. I know that it's cliche, presumptuous, idealistic, and all those other adjectives, but I would like to someday win an Oscar. *cue the eyerolls and groans from a couple of my readers*

I mean think about it, there are some of the greatest screen actors ever honored with that gold statuette and are sometimes forever remembered...or in a great deal of cases lost to time. From Spencer Tracy to Tom Hanks, from Jack Lemmon to Kevin Spacey. Actors who I admire and on day aspire to be like in terms of talent. Now, I'm not saying my acting career and my life would be a failure without an Oscar, believe it or not, I am not that petty. There are several great actors who have come and gone who have never received recognition let alone a nomination or an Oscar win. I simply aspire to one day reach that level, as most actors do.

This type of aspiration gets me to wonder, "What would I win for?" Would it be for a character who is mentally disabled: Dustin Hoffman for Rain Man, Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump, Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot? Or would it be for playing a classic villian: Michael Douglas for Wall Street, Anthony Hopkins for The Silence of the Lambs, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, Christoph Waltz Inglourious Basterds. I have played roles of that kind with Georgie from Over the Tavern and Claudius in The Hamlet Project. Granted my performances are eons away from that level of commitment, talent, and skill.

Yet, Oscars sometimes will honor an a great actor, but often for a role that most people will forget in favor of a more memorable performance. Recent example, Jeff Bridges to me, is and probably will always be the Dude from The Big Lebowski, even though he just won an Oscar for Crazy Heart. Jimmy Stewart, who has given some truly great screen performances both under the direction of Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock won his Oscar not for his fantastic dramatic turns in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or Rear Window but for The Philadelphia Story. It may be a great comedic performance, I wouldn't know, I slept through most of the movie, but it isn't Stewart's finest performance. Sometimes the Oscar is should just come with a note saying, "We're sorry for overlooking you before."

Even if by some small chance, I do make it to the big leagues, would I become one of those actors who has a great body of work but is never even recognized with a nomination, let alone a win. My first example being Gary Oldman, who has given some great work including recent work as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter movies and Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies as well as great Oscar bait performances as Rozencrantz in Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, and Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy. However, he has not been nominated a single time by the Academy. Granted I haven't seen his portrayal of Sid Vicious so I cannot say if he truly deserves the praise he gets for the role. Yet still, a lot of actors cite Gary Oldman as an influence in their acting careers; actors such as Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Johnny Depp all cite Oldman as one of their favorite actors.

Or perhaps one of my favorite character actors, John Turturro, who has on average been in at least two films a year since 1980. A lot of non-theatre folk may know him as annoying FBI agent in the Transformers movies or as Ambrose Monk on Monk, but his career also includes several Oscar-worthy roles and films. He has done films with Spike Lee in Do the Right Thing and the Coen Brothers in The Big Lebowski. Recently, I saw the movie Quiz Show, a fantastic film by Robert Redford, where he plays Herb Stempel and it is nothing like any of his other roles. In most of his other movies, Turturro is a deep-voiced Southern/Brooklyn American who is easily becomes a shouty mad-fucker.

In Quiz Show, Turturro played Herb Stempel, who is a fast-talking, squeeky-voiced, walking encyclopedia who is a rather desperate man but you can't help but like him for some reason. Quiz Show did receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, only it went to the veteran Paul Scofield. Granted a nomination that year would not have guaranteed a win as Turturro would have been up against Martin Landau for Ed Wood, Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction, and Gary Sinise for Forrest Gump, each of which are truly memorable performances. In the end, some actors just get ignored by the Academy entirely.

I know that having the dream of one day winning an Oscar is a pipe dream and it is a one-in-a-million shot especially when you're a pasty ginger kid from Cincinnati. Yet there is some part of me, that despite this fact, still holds out hope and still in the back of my mind, slowly crafts an acceptance speech with a list of every person I would thank. I know that there is a long, long, long way to go but I still hear that voice in the back of my head, "And the Oscar goes to...Nate Netzley, or John Michael Romero, or Nathaniel Beckett." I still haven't decided on a stage name.

*Unfortunately, I can't really control the size of the pictures, so John Turturro will more than likely take up half the page, just be glad it's not his ass like in Transformers 2.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Theatrical Year: Post Mortem Part 2

Alright a continuation on the themes of the last blog. Today we are going to cover my internship at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and my directorial debut with the show Epic Proportions. Sadly I have no photos from my time at Cincy Shakes as I am very lazy when it comes to picture taking.

October 2009
Internship at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
Thanks to my school, I was able to intern for forty-two hours over five days. There was a rush to get in all the needed hours, which Jeremy and Rebecca gratefully added on. I started on Wednesday around mid-day picking up brochures for their production of All's Well that Ends Well. That day was fairly uneventful for the most part as I was sticking labels on brochures and stuffing programs. However, I got to watch actors at work, doing everything under the sun to learn their lines, juggling, rehearsing with others, and just walking about. For one reason or another, the one thing I remember is Watson coming out with a whole bunch of flags and Sara's eyes lighting up and waving a flag about happily. I got the chance to hang out with Rebecca and Jeremy's fiance Kelly at the Canon Club, which is group devoted to reading the works of the Bard, every other month, much like seminar at Clark. I also got to interview Kelly about her experience as an actor and what that's like. I think one of my favorite moments with her was at the Canon Club when describing her character in All's Well that Ends Well: "She's just like that girl in college who steals your boyfriend because she claims shes pregnant...I have stories." The next couple of days was mostly watching rehearsals and sitting in on performances. I think Larson's "secret doughnuts" was a highlight and so was getting to sit in on the production meeting seeing all the different aspects of what was going on. That was pretty much the internship in a nutshell, I would have loved to have spent more time there but sadly my school only gave me a week or so time-frame. I'm hoping to come back for the summer...if they let me.

September-November 2009
Epic Proportions
Now this is the big one, I could write post after post after post about this show. What's odd is how far away it feels, it doesn't feel like its been four months, it feels like it's been a whole school year since the curtain rose and fell on the show that was Epic. This show was the most daunting thing I have ever taken on, a directorial debut and producing your first show will probably do that to you. I started out with an idea and a hope that I could start something that would last, my own personal senior gift. There were nights when I worried if I would ever even be able to get it off the ground, whether or not the costumes, the actors, the sets, the props would come together. This is when I remember a line from the movie Shakespeare in Love: "Strangely enough, it all turns out well." "How?" "I don't know, it's a mystery."

There were many points when this show could have fallen apart, when I could have given up. I think I wanted to prove something, not only that something like Epic could be done, but that I could do it. In my own selfish way, I wanted to show everyone at my school my talent, something that they really never saw, or chose not to see. I brought it close enough that to ignore it would be almost impossible. I also didn't give up because of the people who did believe in me: my parents, my theatre folk, and everyone how signed up for the project. I think it is time for acknowledgments!

Alex: You took on a lead role when you were far more comfortable with something in the background. Not only did you accept this role but you handled it so well, especially for your stage debut. I would have offered you the potato sack as a lasting memento of the show but sadly it was not mine to give. I wish you all the best in your writing efforts

Darwin: Even though there were moments I wished to punch you in the soul, especially when you were absent, you were there when I needed you to be. You really understood what I wanted to do with Shel and granted I might have been the only one laughing at that bit, you made me laugh and sometimes that can be extraordinary difficult. You have been a great friend and that's the most I can ever ask of you.

Molly: My dear Molly, thank you. You were my stage manager and granted you didn't fully understand what you job was but by God you did it. You were there almost every rehearsal, ready to lend a hand and no matter what you came in with a smile.

Bryan: I am so glad that Chris twisted your arm in order to get you to come audition. I know at times you were the group punching bag, it was all in good fun but you took it and always had a good attitude about it. You really started to get the character when you needed to and you brought aspects to him I hadn't thought about.

Jim: I gave you one of the most thankless parts of the show and you took it happily. I am glad you accepted your role, while there were times I could tell you were frustrated, you grinned and bared it. Thank you for dying as many times as you did.

Joe: You helped to get the sound design for the show where it needed to be. I know at times the concept of tech rehearsals and what not escaped you but you made up for it, you took a lot of cues and you nailed each and every one of them and without a doubt the show could not have happened without you.

Deanna: You were there for all three days of auditions and I am really glad you did. I could not have asked for a better Louis. You got the character and you just rocked the part.

Emily: Your Cochette was great and so was your Queen. I thank you for bringing the other guys with you on the final day of auditions. It saved the show.

Alexa: Thank you for coming, you are quite talented and you really showed versatility in your roles, I know with some of the roles I really pushed you out of your comfort zone and I'm glad you went along with it. I know I confused with my direction at times and I'm glad that despite your frustration you never got angry.

Ben: Why so sad my queen? My friends at and still love your delivery of that line. I know of the cast you had the least stage time, but for what you lacked in quantity you made up for in quality. I could not have asked for a better deadpan DeWitt.

Vince: I know you don't read this blog but thanks man, you saved my ass in terms of lights and sound. I'm sad to say I will not be going to your alma mater as I was given a rejection letter last month but I am glad that I got to work with you. You have to keep the theatre program alive at Clark, please try and keep what we started going.

The last week of the show was hectic with canceled rehearsals, no use of the stage, not having lights until the afternoon before the show went up, and cast members sick during the final rehearsals. However, it turned out so well and I could not have gotten there without you guys. That goes for the people in the audience as well. Everyone who turned out, for the one night only show. From Katherine who came all the way from Ripley to my aunt and uncle who came from Indianapolis, from everyone in my senior class and all my senior teachers to my community theatre folk. I could not have asked for a better audience. From Jo laughing so hard she cried to Dan turning to me halfway through the show and giving me a nod of approval, which is no faint praise, it was, well, Epic. After the cast gave their bows, me being called up on stage and getting that standing ovation, still amazed that I had done it. In fact it still seems like a dream, like it almost never happened, but it did and I think that it was my own personal graduation. No matter what happened the rest of the year, no matter how many colleges I got rejected from, no matter how many times I questioned whether or not I was talented enough or driven enough to make it as an actor, I just look to my Epic binder. No matter how many rejections I have gotten or will get, I look at what I have achieved and I know that any dinky rejection letter cannot take that away from me. Cheesy, yes, true, yes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Theatrical Year: Post Mortem Part 1

Last night I closed The Hamlet Project directed by the great Billy Chace. I think it was one of my best stage performances so far, despite its brevity and the infancy of my acting career. A few days ago I realized that after Hamlet I had no more shows lined up for the rest of the school year. I also realized that I had been going on a theatre marathon since late July with Romeo and Juliet at New Gate Celtic Theatre Company. At this point since there isn't anything more for me to audition for the rest of school year, I thought it would be appropriate for me to give a post mortem on the 2009-2010 theatre season for me. Sadly I am limiting myself to just July onwards so as much as I love Julius Caesar and Over the Tavern, they can't really be in this post. I think each of these will be pretty good size in length so I think I'll divide it into three or four parts. So let's get started

July-September 2009
Romeo and Juliet

This was my second paying gig in my illustrious nine year career and it was really a fun time. What really had me surprised off the bat about this show was about the people who were in the show were also alumni from some of the schools I was looking at. Colette was from Wright State, Rachel was from Evansville, Hannah was from Butler, and while I wasn't entirely interested at the time, Becky, Dooley, Rammi, and Mandy were all from Northern Kentucky University. I also got to be reunited onstage with my former stage mother, Kasmira (check out her blog I also got to met Dan Cohen, another fellow blogger (, Kasmira's boyfriend, and son of long time family friend Ed Cohen. The cast was truly a great one but the directors were top-notch too: Francis and Angela. Francis and Angela are grads of the Shakespeare program at Mary Baldwin college, a grad program I might want to look into, and it was great being able to learn even more about Shakespeare.

What I loved about this show was how great the feeling of ensemble was, minus the exceptional artistic differences but that's to be expected in any show. We all got along and there was a lot of great chemistry within the cast, I think as much as I was accepted, I was still on a different level than they were, probably to do with the fact that I was a minor but it wasn't a big deal. As example, during one of the last run-throughs, Jen, another castmate and alumni from parent's college, University of Dayton, brought in a party case of Smirnoff Ice. Being the responsible adults they were, I was not allowed to drink, not major as I don't drink but I felt left out that's all. Or another time during the first cast party at Rachel's house, she did not really want me at the party as a good deal of drinking would be occurring and she didn't want to have responsibility for me as I am a minor. I can respect her feeling that way, she is an older sister, that and I would be more of a hazard than anything else. Aside from that, I was in a fairly young show and it was a different experience from other shows I had done.

As for my characters, I had three: Sampson, Prince, and Peter. I feel certain ways about each of these performances. I think Peter was one of the best comic performances I have given, especially on the last night, when I had added one final gag in the scene in which the Nurse approaches Romeo about Juliet where I fall off the stage after laughing uncontrollably. I think it was a great clown character and I was glad to hear other people liked it as well. Sampson was a two note character, a a braggart and a coward...that's about it. I was given one of the best jokes of Romeo and Juliet, biting of the thumb, and it never really hit. My least favorite role was the Prince. The Prince was really out of my comfort zone as I had to command a room with my voice and my presence and I have not fully realized this talent quite yet. I have problems with stoic power figures like the Prince or Caesar, as I'm not used to being so still or so controlled. I think I can get this type of role if I have a few more swings at it. This show I think is the one that helped me to realize that I get trapped in my head too often and that I need to be more instinctive and more about the moment than anything else.

This was a great show but I think it was one of the lowest attended shows I did this year, I know that shouldn't matter but when it came to some of the comedic shtick, a larger crowd would have been nice. I think what I will miss about this show was the amount of playing around we could do in rehearsals, Francis and Angela let us explore first and then would bring their thoughts if needed. I also miss just being around the cast. I think this cast was so alive and so fun to be around. From the offstage talks and throwaway lines we all had to some onstage shenanigans including Dan bossing me around during the party scene getting him plums, cheese, and finally firing me on the final performance.

Writing this blog, I'm getting deep sighs and that empty feeling that one gets when something really great is over. I think it's just because I'm a very nostalgic guy, even if this nostalgia is going back only to September. I miss so much about this show and I wish that we could have done it longer or with larger crowds. I would really like to work with any of those folks again, in fact I worked with Kasmira and Dan again for Comic Potential, which will come in a later Post Mortem. As it looks like I'm going to NKU for college, as I have a full ride, I can still work with all of them.

Until next time.
-The Red-Headed Step-Child
PS I don't proof my blogs, as I am too lazy to do so, so for any grammar nazis out there, I could care less what you say, but I still love you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The day the dream died

Before I go on a melancholy bender, I would like to note that I have gotten my first blog follower: The One! Thank you very much!

Alright, this is a continuation of my blog on tuesday, "A Combination of Depression and Elation." I was hoping to let that one stand for a while but sadly, something came up, something that was much more depression than it was elation.

As some of you may know, about two weeks ago, I went on the University of Evansville road trip, which allows you to spend a weekend on the campus, get to know students, attend mock classes and activities, and so forth. I met up with a couple of people who I had met on Ace's Place: Nick and Sarah. Over the course of the weekend, we sang, we ran lines, we saw a show, we partied with other theatre folk at the frat house, and it all concluded in a Breakfast Club like scene in which I was Anthony Michael Hall, Sarah was Molly Ringwald, Quinn, who I meet in the last hours of the road trip, was our Judd Nelson, and Nick, who was not present at the time, was our Emilio Estevez, we did not have an Ally Sheedy though. I met two awesome guys, Jon and Sammy, who were my hosts. They were extremely nice and gave me a great insight into the program and the department. The show Light Up the Sky was fantastic and really proved that this was a great theatre department.

My audition came, I thought I did well, I thought I delivered my pieces well, I thought I had shown my love and drive for theatre, and dropped names of the Evansville grads I got to work with you I loved working with. I knew going in that any audition is a shot in the dark, but I thought I could shine in the interview and really showcase who I was.

Yesterday was shaping up to be a good day, easy classes, fun rehearsals, then I got a text from Sarah, she had gotten her letter from Evansville, she was wait-listed. I knew my letter probably would have come as well, which fueled the speculation in my mind. I was prepping myself for a fall, one which I knew would probably hurt a lot as Evansville had become my dream school and my top choice. I got home, found the letter on the stairwell post and opened. It wasn't an acceptance, it wasn't a wait-listing, it was a sheer and flat out rejection. I fell, I knew I was going to fall, and it still hurt like all hell. I had taken a shot in the dark and I think the bullet might have hit me.

I got to rehearsal for Comic Potential in a mood that was a mixture of depression and anger. Fellow castmate and blogger, Beefy Muchacho, realized my mood and consoled me. Beefy Muchacho had gone through the process about twelve years ago; he had been accepted to Evansville and went to Wright State. He was cut in his freshman year due to his issues on how to exactly cast him as his vocal range and his look heavily contrasted. He had a fall like I did, excepted his was higher and he didn't see it coming. He explained how lucky the people who get in are, that it comes down to luck but also it comes down to who they can cast and as he put jokingly, "There isn't much for the pasty ginger kid." I think my talk with him really helped.

I took today off from school, not only because I was sick, but also I think I needed to process this rejection from what had become my dream school. I realized that my hopes of getting to work with Sarah, Nick, Sammy, and Jon were kaput. I woke up from one of the best dreams I had ever had and realized just how much reality sucks in comparison with that dream.

Evansville was my dream school, my mentor and teacher, Jeremy Dubin, is an Evansville alumni and I hope to one day be as talented with him. If I am truly his student it won't be whether or not I go to his alma mater but whether I follow his philosophy; the words that are painted on the wall of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, attributed to Samuel Beckett: No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better. No matter where I go in terms of acting, my career will be filled with rejection, and I will find myself in this type of situation yet again but I think I'm slowly learning how to cope with the pain of it. Evansville is a great school and I wish the incoming class of theatre majors all the best. My path, it appears, either goes to Wright State or Northern Kentucky University. A path closer to home but it may still take me where I hope to go. I just know that no matter how many times I fall along this path, and I will fall plenty of times, that I need to keep the words of Samuel Beckett with me:
No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.

Well sorry if I depressed you any but I needed to vent. Have a pleasant day, go see Comic Potential!