Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year in Review

Yes, it's that time for me to dust off my blog in oh a year and a half and talk about the year 2012.  Dear god, I think this is one for the history books.  I'm not sure on a grand scale and society at large, but for me.  I think I'm going to be thinking...and drinking about 2012 for some time to come.

I started the year off in London, the Washington Mayfair actually, watching the New Years fireworks from inside the hotel as it was raining and our previous plans were dashed due to weather and expensive bars.  I crossed an item off my bucket list that night, I ordered a round of shots for everyone I was with.  In hindsight, it was a lot of money...none of it was my own.  Thankfully, my parents were considerate and understanding and there were not any repercussions for what happened.  Aside from that, we played a few games in our hotel rooms, most of them I can't remember as I was drunk out of my mind.  Oh, you have to love England and its legal drinking age being 18, bless.  In the remainder of my time abroad, I got to see Michael Sheen as Hamlet and Mark Rylance in Jerusalem.  If you have never seen Mark Rylance act in your life...find whatever stage he is currently on, doesn't matter the show and just watch him.  He is worth it.  I mean it.  The man is an acting god and should be worshiped.  Enough with my geeking.  I got to visit the White Cliffs of Dover, Stratford Upon Avon, Notting Hill, so many wonderful places.  And with some of my best and closest friends.  We often talk about those experiences that we're not going to forget any time soon.  I doubt there is a minute of my time in London I will forget.  I could go on but the remaining time of 2012 is short and I still have eleven and a half months to get through.  I might go back and blog about my London adventures in further detail.  If I have time and if I stay true to my new years resolution.  More on those in a minute.

Once I got back from London, it was time for the spring semester auditions.  Most of them I had thrown together in the last minute, memorizing on the plane ride back, mind you this is a twelve hour plan ride so doing so isn't that much of a mad dash.  I auditioned for two plays and one musical for mainstage, and by extension one play and one musical for studio 307, the student directed series.  I was called back for all three shows, including the musicals.  There were things I was surprised about that these callbacks, who I was  reading for, what I was asked to do, how the hell have I lasted this long in a dance call, but it was all in the heat of the moment.  I wasn't cast in any of the main stage shows that semester.  Or for that matter the studio 307 musical.  I talked to each of the directors and they all told me that they liked my audition, they liked the work I did in the callback, I just wasn't quite what they are looking for.  That's one of the more disheartening things to hear in my line of work.  They all told me I was getting stronger in my work and that they liked what I did but still didn't have anything to show for it.

In the days that followed this series of less than heartening news, I was in the green room with my friends Andy and Drew.  Drew was the director of the other Studio 307, Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang. He was asking Andy if he would be able to come to his callback later that day.  Andy told him he wouldn't as he was already cast in The Farnsworth Invention.  Drew was disheartened.  This was when I chimed in.  "You know Drew," I said, not all that slyly but with feigned sarcasm, "I'm not in anything this semester."  He gave me that look that friends give when they don't want to give bad news.  "I would man," He ekes out, "but you're not the right type."  Andy, still in the room, turns to Drew, and just plainly asks, "Just call him back man."  With that gesture, Andy made one of the many gestures that has put him into my list of not just my top people of 2012 but one of my best friends of all time.  More on that little nugget later.  Drew told me to go ahead and come to the callback.

Most people who know me, know I am particularly hard on myself.  Especially when it comes to my acting and my auditions are the area where I beat myself up to a bloody pulp.  So when I tell you that I rocked my callback for Beyond Therapy, just know that I do not mean that lightly.  I aced that baby with flying colors and landing my first lead role.  Not only that, I was being directed by a good friend, in a show with one of my good friends, and another person who will also end up on my list of amazing people in 2012.  Beyond Therapy was a tough time for me.  First, it's a comedy, Durang no less who isn't the easiest author to work.  Second, my character, Bruce is a leading man, incredibly impulsive and highly emotional.  At the time, I was none of those things, I've come closer to becoming at least one of those.  I was constantly doubting myself, worrying that I was the weakest member of the cast, that I wasn't delivering on the laughs, and just tearing my confidence to shreds.  I kept feeling that whoever was my partner in the scene that I was miles behind them in terms of performance quality.  I talked to my director about, I talked to my professors about it, if I had a shrink, I'd probably talk to them about it as well, but I didn't and still don't.  I probably should though.  Beyond Therapy was a show of growth for me.  Both in terms of getting out of my head, performance quality, and how I approach a role.  It laid the ground work for I how I would work on the other Studio 307 I did this year.  I was complimented a nice deal for what I did with Bruce and honestly I'm still proud of what I did with that role and the time I had.  There were a couple people I met during that show who I would become really great friends with, even if I didn't hang out with them at the time.  Even though I wasn't part of any of the mainstage shows in an acting capacity, one of them in hindsight I would have killed to have been a part of, I still got to participate.

I almost forget...I also made BFA.  After two tries and two years, I finally achieved what had been elluding me since I first auditioned at NKU.  Looking back, getting BFA status isn't the end of the world one way or another, it just feels like a divider within the department.  Before I got BFA, I felt like I was on the wrong side of that divider and needed to correct that.  What made this time different was that I had earned it.  I didn't walk into the audition feeling entitled from either my high school experience or the turmoil of a less than successful freshman year but rather I knew that I had to earn that extra letter.  I knew my limitations, the past year and a half knocked some sense, not a lot, and humility into me.  I knew everyone on the other side of that table.  I no longer had to fear the once older unknown professors sitting in judgement of me.  I walked in there as I would their office and trust me, they've probably gotten sick of the number of times I've done that. More than anyone else, the person I had to sell on that board was Mike.  Mike, the Dr Cox to my JD.  The begrudging mentor figure.  He had been particularly hard on me the past two semester in both the show he cast me in and the classes he was teaching.  At that board, he spoke the least.  He made only two real comments.  One was "I'm disappointed in your GPA," said with full sarcasm.  The other being, "Have you always had your beard?"  When the toughest question you get at a board of review is, "Have you always had your beard," you know you've done right.  So I did it.  I achieved a status that had eluded me and even made my cry my freshman year.  It was a nice way to cap my sophomore year, and it wasn't even over yet.

Next up was My Favorite Year, I ended up as a member of a highly efficient run crew for the show.  The show itself was incredibly fun and the cast was warm and inviting, two of cast members were also in Beyond Therapy with me.  As for the rest of the crew, there were some problem members but that didn't take away from the overall grand experience of my time on that show.  I was working crew with two of my other close friends, Becca and Victoria.  I've known Becca for almost three years now and we've been very good friends for about two or so.  I have this pattern with people, where initially we don't quite see eye to eye but eventually I win them over and these people usually end up being my closest friends.  This was pretty much the case with both Becca and Andy.  Victoria, I had just met with my previous show, Beyond Therapy.  In that show, she played my therapist.  You know that funny little saying about "Life imitating Art," yeah, that's not true in this situation at all (The previous statement is a lie.).  One of my many favorite portions of My Favorite Year was that there was a chair, a nice big comfy chair for me to sit in and nap before showtime.  There was a lot of downtime before the show began as a run crew didn't require that much preparation, so my napping is justified.  While I was napping, Becca and Victoria would often come visit and perch themselves on the arm of the chair.  We'd have some nice little talks about life and the department and all those good things.  I can't go into full detail because I like to keep some of my conversations private and well..this entry is already five paragraphs long and I'm not even to summer yet.

In the summer, not only was I working my first real job, I got job at Kohls (hold your applause), but I was also working my first professional acting job, the bellhop in Plaza Suite.  Yes, I was being paid money to prance around onstage in a bellhop costume moving set pieces around.  My role is very minimal but the pay was still just as good and I got to work with some great people.  The majority of my time was spent backstage on that show.  Just chatting it up with the boys in the back: two older guys, Mike and Dave, and a guy my age, Jordan.  For the entirety of the three week run, we just shot the shit, music, movies, tv, girls, books, the like.  Every now and again, I'll still go out with the older gents, including the director Greg, to Price Hill Chili, discuss theatre, sports, politics, and of course women.  You can't go anywhere with dirty old theatre gentlemen without discussing women.  Oh lordy, the things these men say, I can't repeat it.  Once the show was over I also moved into my first apartment.  Yes, I went "off the reservation."  It's nice to have a space I can call my own and be able to do pretty much anything I want without incurring the rather of the RA.  My summer was blissful but rather uneventful.  I went off the reservation but not much else happened.  Sad to say.  However, when we get back to school in august.  That's when it gets exciting.

As always, I auditioned for all three shows, this time though, it was required as I now had BFA status.  I got called back for You Can't Take It With You and Royal Gambit, a show where the only male lead is Henry VIII.  Guess which show I got cast in.  With You Can't Take It With You, I got to be a part of a killer ensemble cast.  If you had to ask me the smoothest ensemble I have ever been a part of.  I would have to say You Can't Take It With You.  There wasn't an ounce of drama from the moment we started rehearsals to the moment we took our final curtain call.  If anything, me breaking my wrist halfway through the rehearsal process was probably the biggest speed bump.  If you didn't already know, I broke my wrist while biking to school on day.  My arm was put in a cast for the entirety of the run.  In the end, not even the cast could get in the way of what was the highest grossing non-musical play in NKU's history.  It had every right to be.  This was one of those shows where everything just fell into place.  The cast was in-synch, the crew was on-board, the costumes, the set, the lights, the list of everything that show did right is a mile long.  Granted, I did have to have a mustache for that show, which was probably the biggest drawback, more so than the arm in the cast.  It was also then when I realized that Mike, the director and the same Mike from above, likes to cast me as fuddy-duddies.  In a show full of soldiers and emperors, I'm the school teacher in the dress.  In a show about eccentric artists and lovers, I'm the IRS agent.  Ain't life something.  Didn't matter, as the next show on the roster is a huge contrast from both this show and everything I've done before or since.

Luv by Murray Schiscgal and directed by my friend Becca and starring alongside my friend Andy and Erin.  You can see why Andy and Becca have both made my favorite people list, they tend to pop up in my life quite a bit.  Milt Manville is the most charasmatic, most grounded, sleaziest snake oil salesman I have ever played.  And I wouldn't mind going back for a second round.  Not that Luv wasn't a damn hard show, it was a nerve-wracking down-to-the-wire sort of show.  My confidence was on the fritz.  I was acting alongside one of my best friends while one of my other best friends directed me.  My biggest hurdle was not to disappoint either of them.  In reality, that hurdle wasn't as big as I had made it in my mind, where it was pretty damn big.  Neither of them were disappointed in me or my work.  Both of them, at one point or another, spent time reassuring me that it was all in my head and that I should just chill the fuck out.  Even if there was that one time when I managed to injury every member of the cast, myself included in a single rehearsal.  Luv is one of those shows I wish I had more time with, both in rehearsal and in performance.  It was a short rehearsal process, four weeks, and an even shorter run, five performances over two days.  Our houses weren't as sold out as we'd have liked them to be but the audiences we had seemed to really enjoy it and so did we.  In fact all the shows I did this year, I wouldn't mind having longer runs with.  They were all just really fun experiences and I learned a lot from them, both as an artist and as a person.

Well, as the year closes with hours to spare and I'm already working on a sixth show and my third leading role for the year, I can't help but look back on an incredible year and just say "Wow."  It's had it's ups and downs, public and private, but who am I to dwell on such things.  It's going to be a new day soon, a new year and there are just as many fun and exciting things just around the corner.  So I think I'll close with my list of favorite people, in the only way I can, with thanks.

I had specific thank yous I was going to put along side these with examples and such...but they're kind of personal so...sorry.  But I will name names.  To Andy, Becca, Victoria, Erin, Drew, Mike, Claire, Luke, Tony, Zak, Wes, Mac, and sundry others.  All I can say is thank you.  Thank you all so, very, very much, for  an amazing year.  For being there for me, for asking me if I'm okay, for congratulating me when I'm doing good.  For calling me out on my shit when I'm doing wrong.  Thank you all so very much.  Happy New Year and let's ring in 2013 like there's no tomorrow.      


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Let's Talk Doctor Who Part II: Era of Moffat and Smith

Left to Right: Benedict Cumberbatch, Steven Moffat, Matt Smith

New Years' Day 2010. The era of Russell T Davies and David Tennant ended with "The End of Time" and a line that still divides fans, one which I won't spoil. The minute or so after Tennant's regeneration came a scene written by the new head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat. The scene introduced the world to the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. Smith had a lot going against him coming into the role. First, at the age of 27, Smith was the youngest actor so far to play the part of The Doctor, had many wondering if such a young man could pull off the 900 year old Timelord. Second, David Tennant was incredibly popular. During his tenure as the Doctor, he became a national icon and toppled Tom Baker in the best Doctor polls for a while. It didn't hurt that the man was A) a phenomenally talented actor with a Shakespearean background and B) was rather handsome. Tennant had a legion of fan girls that squeed at his very name. Thirdly, Matt Smith was relatively unknown at that point. Aside from some supporting roles in other television shows, Smith had little on his big-time resume. He was no where near the iconic status that Tennant had reached in his five years on the show. These woes aside, Smith did have one great, big, Scottish advantage.

Steven Motherfucking Moffat

Steven Moffat is a life-long fan of Doctor Who. He is also, alongside Russell T Davies, one of the most acclaimed writers of British television today. He is known best for witty dialogue and clever storylines. He has created UK several series including Coupling, Jekyll, and Sherlock. Sherlock, alongside Doctor Who is probably his most celebrated contribution to television so far. If you want a comparison, he is sort of like a Scottish Joss Whedon, with various genre tv series under his belt. His writing career for Doctor Who started in 1999 when he wrote a parody of the show for charity called The Curse of Fatal Death. This caught the eye of RTD when he was putting a writing staff together for the revival series. Moffat's tenure as a writer for the show during the RTD era was highly praised. Episodes like "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances," "The Girl in the Fireplace," and "Blink" stand among some of best in the new series, and some would say of the show's entire history. So when it was announced the Grand Moff would be taking the wheel once Davies bowed out, there was fanboy cheer throughout the land.

So how has Moffat and Smith's time on the show gone over so far? In one word: Brilliant. The show has taken a dark turn for the better since Moffat's tenure began. The first episode under Moffat's reign was "The Eleventh Hour." For me, that episode marks one of the best Regeneration stories of the entire series. It introduces the tour de force of Matt Smith in all his awkward-alien glory. Smith is simply teeming with energy from start to finish of this episode.
Let's not forget the lovely Karen Gillian as Amy Pond. She's no Sally Sparrow but she's a looker and still a pretty good companion with some Scottish fire. For the first season of Moffat's era, this is what we have: two Scots and a hyper-active former footballer. And that first season is one of my favorites of the new series.

I mean it, Season Five ranks alongside Season One of the Revived Series as the most consistently good season. While Seasons Two, Three, and Four had some incredibly stellar highs, they also had some infamous woes. Season Five had the incredible follow-up to "Blink" with the Weeping Angels two-parter "The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone." It also brought back River Song, outstandingly played by Alex Kingston. Many have criticised the story of River Song as derivative of "The Time Traveler's Wife." Doctor Who is infamous for borrowing from other sources like classic Hammer Horror films, Science Fiction novels, even from its own writer's other stories. For me though, the execution of the River Song story is brilliant. I know her little catchphrases, "Hello Sweetie" and "Spoilers" get on some fan's nerves but I don't mind them. Im frankly waiting for the day when the Doctor gets turn them around on River. The day when The Doctor knows all about her but she knows nothing about him.

Season Five also featured "Amy's Choice." Amy's Choice was a surreal episode. It could be classified as a "bottle episode." A "bottle episode" is an individual story contained in a single space for the majority, if not the entirety of an episode, alluding to a ship in a bottle. This episode is one of my favorites because A) it is choke full of one-liners, it almost feels like a Moffat episode with how quotable this episode is. B) It features Toby Jones as the antagonistic Dream Lord. Toby Jones is a small character actor who plays creepy very well; he also gets some of the best lines in the episode and he delivers them with aplomb. C) The trio of Matt Smith, Amy Pond, and Rory Williams, played by Arthur Darville, really starts to click and makes for a great Tardis team. All these add together to make a great stand-alone gem in Season Five.

While I do enjoy "Vampires of Venice," and "Vincent and the Doctor," it's the Season finale that really packs a punch for me. "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang" is Moffat's first attempt at a Doctor Who finale. Much like RTD's finales, the whole of creation is at stake but it's on an intimate scale. The first part is very RTD, the breadcrumbs left throughout the season are coming together, the Doctor faces armies of old foes, and there's a twist at the end. The second part is very Moffat. It plays with time in what Moffat likes to call "Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey." In "Timey Wimey" effect proceeds cause in terms of viewer chronology and solutions aren't fully explained until the very end. Now there are some problems with "The Big Bang" where we have the reset button much like we did in "The Last of the Time Lords." For me, the reset button works and makes more sense because things are popping out of existence and it seems like the only solution. With "Timelords" resetting the events that happened seemed, how you say, a copout of the highest order. Much like "Timelords" we also have something of wishing power, a fairy tale aspect. However, here it makes more sense yet again. In Davies's incarnation, The Doctor was a veteran dealing with the harsh reality of his home planet and his people being now longer in existence. His Doctors were rougher around the edgers and dealt with time in absolutes and were much more of anti-heroes with "Everything dies" in "The End of the World" and "Timelord Victorious" in "The Waters of Mars." Moffat has created something of a fairytale, his version of Doctor Who is only sci-fi in the way it plays with time travel. Other than that, it is absolute fantasy, to the point of fairy tale. A former writer of Doctor Who, Stephen Gallagher, compared the scene at the beginning of "The Beast Below" to that of Peter Pan and Wendy with the flying imagery and the classic night gown. Even the name, Amelia Pond, The Doctor said was like something "out of a fairy tale." So the end sequence involving "Something old..." just feels right to me.

Moffat continues to explore the mythology of The Doctor in series 6 with "A Good Man Goes to War." I LOVE "A Good Man Goes to War." It is beautiful shot, beautifully written, beautifully acted, and is all sorts of epic." In this episode, The Doctor is referred to as a "dark legend," "a devil," "a trickster," and "a phantom." Here Moffat plays with the darker side of The Doctor legend, even toying with the idea that the word Doctor originates with the Timelord and varies in meaning from one world to the next. In one world, it can mean healer and wise man, in the next it can mean mighty warrior. Just think of classic fairy tales that differ from culture to culture. One land's folk hero, is another land's boogeyman. Here is where we hit on something even better in terms of knowing Moffat, his boogeymen.

Trust me, these things will keep you awake at night

Moffat doesn't use big CGI monsters in his tales, he uses the things that go bump in the night and he makes them everything you were ever afraid of as a child. With the Weeping Angels, Moffat's signature monster, he makes you fear what you can't see, makes you want to sleep with one eye open. With Vashta Nerada in "The Silence in the Library," he literally says, "Almost every species in the universe has an irrational fear of the dark, but they're wrong 'cause its not irrational." The idea that there is something lingering, waiting in the dark to come out and grab you is one of the most common fears as a child and Moffat exploits it perfectly. He brings back the "watch from behind the sofa" aspect that Doctor Who was famous for in its Gothic Horror heyday for both the kids growing up with the new Doctor and the adults coming back for more. The Doctor doesn't tell us not to be afraid, in fact he tells people it would be stupid not to be afraid. So let's bring ourselves to the Timelord himself shall we?

Nine hundred years and ten past incarnations is A LOT to live up to wouldn't you say? However, our man Matt Smith may the latest Doctor, he is far from the least. I mentioned earlier that Smith's take on the Doctor is particularly alien. Where Tennant's take was particularly versed in human culture to the point of making pop culture references without any trouble, Smith is very much a student of the culture. He sees humans, he understand them somewhat but he lacks the human touch that Tennant did and that is beautiful. He eats fish fingers with custard, he is oblivious to human signals as seen in "A Christmas Carol" and "A Good Man Goes to War" where human sexuality is rampant and the Doctor looks both embarrassed and confused. Smith at times has the hyper-activity that Tennant showed during his run but there are flashes of The Doctor's long life. This specifically shown in the "The Big Bang" when The Doctor is strapped into the Pandorica talking to Amy Pond. There is a tiredness in his voice and age in his eyes. Tennant's Doctor would often say "I am so old" but with Smith's Doctor, you just know he is ancient. While Tennant had geek chic with his spiked hair, slim suits, and colored Chucks, Smith's Doctor is a complete and utter dweeb. He wears tweed jackets, his trousers are just a bit too short, accessorizes with bow ties, suspenders, and the occasional fez. Tennant knew he was cool, Smith has to tell people he's cool.

Some have said that Smith's Doctor lacks the teeth that previous Doctor's have shown, Eccelston and Tennant especially. However, there are flashes of quiet anger and controlled rage. Moments like his speech to Rosanna in "Vampires of Venice" and his order to Colonel Manton in "A Good Man Goes to War." In "Vampires of Venice" he promises to "tear down the House of Calvierri stone by stone" for not knowing the name of the girl she killed, Isabella. He coldly commands the steward attempting to grab him to take his hands off of him. He doesn't shout, he doesn't raise his voice like Tennant or Eccelston's Doctor would, he doesn't even break eye contact with Rosanna, but he still has the power in the room. The next time we see Smith's Doctor truly angry is in "A Good Man Goes to War." After taking control of Demon's Run, The Doctor tells Colonel Manton, the enemy commander, to tell his men to run away. He explains to the Colonel that he wants the Colonel to forever be remember for those words and to be called "Colonel Runaway." "I want children laughing outside your door because they've found the house of Colonel Runaway and when people come to you and ask you if trying to get to me through the people I love is in any way a good idea, I want you to tell them your name." He raises his voice, he loses his cool, which he quickly regains and quips, "Look I'm angry, that's new." The RTD era of Doctor Who was at times infamously famous for what some fans have called "Shouty Doctor" where anger and rage can be equated with how loud The Doctor shouts. This is what some of the writer's think make The Doctor scary or fearsome and memorable but this isn't the case. In fact, The Doctor's most memorable moments of rage are when he doesn't raise his voice or spittle but when he speaks softly or not even at all and moves very little. But I'm diverging, the point is with Smith's Doctor, his anger and his punishments because of his anger are to prove a point. His actions in both "Vampires" and "A Good Man" are based on The Doctor's own morality, which is very alien in their own right. I want to keep talking about the other Doctors and comparing but Im running long on this post and getting off topic. In the next installment I'll either tackle various incarnations of the Doctor or some of my favorite stories of the classic series. I haven't decided yet but you'll find out soon.

Also some recommendations: To see some of Moffat's other work, I highly recommend his re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch (the MOST British name) and Martin Freeman. Finally, I'll leave you with the newly released trailer for the second half of series 6.

Be seeing you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let's Talk Doctor Who Part I: A Rebirth and Rebuttal

I am a Whovian. What is the mystical, nonsensical word that I use? It's the name of a fan of the long-running British science-fiction show Doctor Who. The show began in 1963 and has been runing on and off the air to this day. I found the show back in my sophomore year of high school and I have been harboring my Whovian obsession ever since. It's funny, a lot of my tastes in movies, music, and television steams from my sophomore and junior years of high school. But moving on, back in high school I was one of the few who I knew that actually knew and watched the series either in its Classic (1963-1989) or its Revival (2005-present). Sure a lot of people were familiar with a certain image of Doctor Who.
Tom Baker, aka the man with the long scarf, curly brown hair, and the enormous big eyes and teeth. Those I did find were fans first introduced to series by the Classic Era as opposed to the Revival. It wasn't until college I met a rather large and often increasing group of fans of the series. Thus the Red-Headed Whovian rejoiced. I was just hoping to do one post but at finishing this one, I'm feeling this will have multiple posts covering different aspects of the show at different parts of it's run. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

For those who aren't familiar with Doctor Who, I'll give an overview of the concept. The series revolves around The Doctor, an alien of the Timelord race, who has the power to travel in space and time using the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), which do to circumstances is stuck in the form of a Police Call Box. The Tardis is bigger on the inside. The Doctor basically travels from past to future, world to world, with any given companion (usually an attractive girl in her 20s). A simple enough sci-fi concept, how can it last? This is where it gets good. In 1966, the lead actor at the time, William Hartnell, wanted to leave the show due to failing health. This was a point where the show could have ended and faded into obscurity, then magic happened. The writers of the show came up with a concept, at the end of a story "The Tenth Planet," The Doctor falls to the ground and a white light appears, and William Hartnell is replaced by a different actor. It wasn't a look alike or even a similar actor of the same age. The fifty-eight white-haired Edwardian grandfather was replaced by a forty-six year old mop-top sporting cosmic hobo.
Doctors One and Two

The process was known as regeneration, granted it wasn't called that until the Third Doctor's (Jon Pertwee) time. Regeneration allowed a Timelord to survive fatal experiences by healing their body but in the process their appearance changes and so does their personality while still remaining essentially the same person. This allows new takes on a character, allowing for infinite possibilities for growth and play with the role. The "Classic" series ran twenty-six years with seven actors haven taken the role of The Doctor. The most famous being the aforementioned and pictured Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). Baker was in the role for seven year, the longest on-screen tenure of any Doctor so far, and his era contained some of the most celebrated and popular stories of the entire series. After it's cancellation in 1989, it came back as a made-for-TV movie in 1996 with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. The pilot didn't take off and Doctor Who was thought dead once more. And thus, from the ashes, The Doctor regenerated once more in the year 2005. With a brand new Doctor, Christopher Ecceleston, as the Ninth Incarnation of the famed Timelord. The show has been running five years since then, under two different head writers and three different Doctors. Right now, Doctor Eleven is Matt Smith, the youngest actor to play the role and is quite possibly becoming my favorite. But I fall in love with every Doctor.

What I love about the show is that the show can be almost anything. It can be comedic, dramatic, tragic, or a mixture of all three. Nothing is off-limits in the show. It can be horror, action-adventure, satire, and even farce. The show, much like its lead, can regenerate eleven ways to Saturday. Not every experiment works, but that's why they're experiments, because trying something new isn't always flawless. Both Classic and New series have their peaks and their valleys. I love it all the same.

I am foremost a fan of the Revived series. That's what I started with and that's what I would choose if you put a gun to my head. Chris Ecceleston holds a place in my heart, he was my first Doctor. He was raw, intense, but also had a sense of compassion and wonder about him. He immediately brought me in with this air of mystery around him. I knew nothing of the series' history when I first watched it. Who was The Doctor exactly? What are the Timelords? What happened with the Time War? What left The Doctor this scarred and unstable? All this and how can he still be fantastic? Ecceleston did all this in just thirteen episodes. It was helped by a superb writing staff led by Russell T Davies, the man responsible for the revival of the show.

Russell T Davies and a Dalek

Russell T Davies (RTD) has not been the most acclaimed head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who. He did some things that fans didn't particularly like. I am no exception. Especially near the end of his tenure, RTD did some things story wise that didn't make sense or seemed incredibly contrived. But much like Shakespeare said, "The evil men do lives long after their death/ the good oft deterred with their bones." RTD did so much good as well. He brought the mystery back into the character of The Doctor. He created a likable and instantly memorable companion. He made the series a little more epic. He added more pathos to a series often thought a little too cerebral for its own good. This doesn't mean he lobotomized the series, he was simply adding extra heart for the two-hearted time traveler's journeys. Stories like "The End of the World," "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways," and "Army of Ghosts/Doomsday" all had brains and heart in equal measure.

Yes, he did cash in on certain pathos later on in the series but that still doesn't diminish his earlier work or in fact his later work. Stories like "Midnight," "Turn Left," and "The Waters of Mars," took very dark turns for series and rank among the best since the revival. The episodes the RTD wrote that get the most flack are his finales. "Last of the Time Lords," "Journey's End," and "The End of Time" are all highly criticized among the fan base. This is because a lot of the flaws I listed above are ever prevalent. Davies fell into this rut by trying to out-do himself. Making every finale grander than the last. For the most part, he succeeds; where he goes wrong is in his resolution. He lays out an elaborate, grandiose story with a lot of conflict and sometimes he pushes the "Easy Button." Usually its a large scale alien army or a foe with seemingly too much power that seems to be toppled all too easily or in fact said events never even happen. I cannot defend Davies in that respect. Especially since he builds these finales up so well, except for "The End of Time."

He's not an infallible writer, there is no such thing. The one thing I hate is that there are fans who wave good-bye to him as if he contributed nothing at all. This is downright fan snobbery. He helped to find and cast two of the best actors to ever take the role of the Doctor, Christopher Eccelston and David Tennant. He didn't simply revive the series, he regenerated it. He made it his own, he added satirical and introspective aspects, he brought sexuality to the forefront of the family show without making it sexual. By which I mean, he made characters gay or lesbian, or omnisexual because frankly there are such people in the world. RTD was accused of having a gay agenda by having gay characters often take supporting roles in his stories. The supposed "Gay Agenda" just seems silly and just fan outrage that the series wasn't EXACTLY like how it was in the Classic era. But that's what makes it so good, is that it is his own, especially in terms of emotionally appeal. He plucked at heartstrings with sheer amounts of character development. He even took note of recent popular Sci-Fi/Fantasy series and used it as a model. Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were influential in the way that show had both seasonal arcs and stand-alone episodes. He consistently played with format, allowing episodes that don't even have the Doctor as the main focus. Episodes like "Blink" and "Turn Left" are fantastic examples of this. Granted, this trend was started with the dividing episode of "Love and Monsters." The problem with that episode is that it goes just one step too far and is a bit overly ambitious.

I think that's how I can sum up RTD as a writer, "overly-ambitious." He was a long time fan of the show, he grew up with it, and sometimes enacting everything you wanted to do with your boyhood hero doesn't pan out perfectly. He had to balance everything he wanted to do with the show with the need to bring in figures. So yes, romance was introduced to the once-platonic time-traveler and there were aliens that farted and pop culture references. Just remember without Russell T Davies, there would be no new series and without him, we wouldn't have Christopher Eccelston, we wouldn't have David Tennant, we wouldn't have Matt Smith, and we wouldn't have the new head writer Steven Moffat. Oh Moffat and Smith, I will get to those to in the next post.

Be seeing you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pump It Up

I saw Elvis Costello last monday.

That statement in and of itself expresses a certain awesomeness. This was an evening in the making. I looked at the original tour list and the closest he was coming to me was either New Jersey or Chicago. I shrugged it off and thought, "next time round." Then one morning, I woke up, checked my facebook newsfeed and saw that the tour dates had been updated. Elvis was coming to Cincinnati. I had a little fanboy squeal. It would have been louder but my roommate was still asleep. I wanted to get tickets then and there for the front row but I was waiting for a friend, to see if she wanted to go. I got tickets when they opened up to the general public. I got far right seating but they were still floor seating and incredibly close to him. I spent a hundred and twenty dollars on those tickets. I think that's the best money I ever spent. I had some trouble finding someone who was free on monday night and who appreciated Elvis Costello as much as I do. Luckily, my friend Casey Apple Snipes, was available.

What made this concert and this tour special was that Costello was reviving "The Spectacular Spinning Songbook." "The Spectacular Spinning Songbook" is a large wheel with forty different songs with a few jackpot spins that had particular themes to them, such as "Girl," "Time," "Happy," and "I Can Sing A Rainbow," all of which are mini setlists of Costello's songs and even some unexpected covers. Now, I really wanted to be one of the people from the audience who got chosen to spin the wheel, I even made a large sign saying "Pick This Ginger To Spin." Sadly, I couldn't bring it in and I forgot it when I left the theater. But I still had a tremendous amount of fun.

The set itself was incredibly retro with the Technicolor tv backdrop, the society lounge to the side, and the "Hostage of Fortune Go-Go Cage," complete with Go-go dancer: Her Royal Highness, Jacinta Trimble, The Duchess of Lexington. Costello opened with one of my favorite songs of his, "I Hope You're Happy Now." He then tour into a cover of Nick Lowe's "Heart of the City." Lowe was Costello's producer for his first five albums and provided him with one of his most famous songs "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," so it was nice hearing Costello's take on another one of Lowe's songs. He then broke into "Mystery Dance," and another personal favorite "Radio Radio." From there, the format changed when Costello put on a top hat and donned a cane and proclaimed himself "Napoleon Dynamite," Emcee of "The Spectacular Spinning Songbook."

From there, his lovely assistant, whose name escapes me began inviting people from the audience up to spin the enormous wheel. For most of the spins, Costello abided what the wheel read. However, if someone was really gunning for a song or the wheel hit a repeat, Costello edged the wheel on, coyly saying, "Didn't you know this show was rigged?" Elvis went far and wide in the theater in terms of who he picked to spin the wheel. During "Long Honeymoon" he actually went out into the audience and even up into the balcony; there he picked the next contestant to spin the wheel. Her spin was the first "rigged" one as she was gaming for "Allison." The Beloved Entertainer delivered. One of the most touching spins was when the father of the Go-go dancer, called "The Grand Duke of Lexington," was selected. He hit the "Girl" jackpot and watched his daughter dance "This Year's Girl" in the Go-Go Cage, but then got to sit right beside her during Costello's cover of The Beatles' "Girl." After a few more requests and one final spin, hitting the "Time" jackpot, where he broke into "Clowntime is Over," "Strict Time," and an amazing cover of The Stones' "Out of Time," he and the band left stage and the stage lights went dim. This could have been the end of the show.

Thankfully, it wasn't. Costello had gone backstage and changed jackets and hat to look more like a vaudevillian. With checkered vest and straw hat, Napoleon Dynamite picked up his acoustic guitar and played two songs from his most recent album, "National Ransom." The first one was very upbeat and springy. "Slow Drag with Josephine" was one of my favorite songs from that album and it translates incredibly well to stage. Costello went on a two minute long whistle solo, which I didn't think was possible but accentuated the folksy air of the song. The second song, "Jimmy Standing in the Rain," was introduced in a way that made it seem like one of the requested songs of the evening, "God's Comic." Was it as good as "God's Comic," no, but Costello still performed the hell out of that song with its downbeat feel and melancholic lyrics. Once again, the show seemed over, as he left the stage. The audience roared and cheered for him to come back; come back he did. With the band and now gold jacket and hat, which he claimed were on loan from his good friend, Donald Trump. He offered one last spin and we got to hear "Watching the Detectives," the reggae closer from his debut album leading immediately into a barn-burning from his sophomore album, "Lipstick Vogue." Once again, Costello and band left the stage and the audience begged for more. He came back to deliver the finale with a cover of The Who's "Substitute," his very own "Pump It Up," and finally ended with his most famous cover "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." That song, nor its performance feels aged or out of date, and that's what I love about Costello.

Elvis Costello is 56 years old and he still performs with the same energy and charisma he did when he debuted at 22. If anything, he's learned so much about how to stir up a crowd and feed off of them, hence the three encores. After the opening numbers, Costello said he still had the "Windy City" in his voice from when he performed in Chicago a couple days before and that he was under doctor's orders to keep it short. Two and a half hours is Elvis's Costello's idea of keeping it short. What makes this show impressive was he was diagnosed with bronchitis after the Chicago show and lost his voice entirely after the Cincinnati show. It was so bad, he had to cancel his New Jersey show the Wednesday after. You could not tell at all, save for one moment in "Jimmy Standing in the Rain," that his voice was at all under the weather.

I left the Taft Theatre blissful. People who know me, I worry and I complain, that was nowhere to be found after that show. I left singing. I bought a shirt and a poster from that concert. My regret is that I got a medium instead of a small. However, every time I pass that concert poster in my room, I just punch the air because I still feel the awesome aftereffect of that concert. I often feel like I'm one of the few Costello fans I know. Going into that theater, seeing everyone from young teens to one old guy rocking out during "Peace, Love, and Understanding," helped me remember that Costello is so timeless, with his music and his performance abilities. I want to see him again, I know he won't make another round to Cincinnati anytime soon. Not because we were a bad audience, we were a GREAT audience, it's just it's Cincinnati and we're not a major concert stop. But trust me, that won't stop me from seeing him again in the future.
Some nice Youtube videos of the tour

Monday, January 3, 2011

My New Years Resolution: F**k You!

I'm not one for making New Years Resolutions. My ability to control myself in terms of delayed gratification is suspect. Don't get the wrong ideas, I mean stuff like diets, or commitments to exercise, and such. I often cast things to the side and say, "I'll finish it later." This blog is a prime example of that. Well I think I found one that I can really get behind.

I have always had a problem of sorts socially and one could say academically as well. I have always relied and felt that I needed the approval of others. It has allowed me to improve myself in certain aspects but at the same time I find that I may be compromising who I truly am in exchange for being liked. One could argue that in my business, being liked is a primary concern. I sometimes feel that I am being less outspoken than I normally am or I am censoring some of my statements or opinions for fear of what some people might say. So I try to connect through common interests like music, film, theatre, etc. Many have then called me pretentious on these grounds and I can both see their reasons yet I wonder if its actually part of who I am or if it's part of me covering up who I really am. I was talking with two friends on New Years. One of them, it's difficult to say if he is a friend or not. He says he hates me and the same time he likes me but he says he really has no idea who I am and I think what I said above is part of that.

So I've made my resolution: I will be who I really am not matter what other people think of me. You have a problem with my quirks, my wit and witticisms, my outbursts, whatever. My response may differ externally out of courtesy , but my internal response is "Fuck You." Pure and simple. I need to put aside what people think of me and just live my life.

That doesn't mean I am not open to feedback, far from it. If I respect you, I will absolutely take your opinion into consideration. But if I don't care for you, then my response is "Fuck You." That doesn't mean I will dismiss a comment simply because it is negative. I'm just saying I can no longer care what everyone thinks about me. I need to limit the court of public opinion to my friends and colleagues. You have the right to voice your opinion, it doesn't mean you will get final consideration into who I am.

There are parts of me that are static and there are parts of me that are subject to change and probably will be in flux. But I also need to accept the things I cannot change. So I might go ahead and say what those are.

My name is Nathaniel David Netzley. I go by Nate. I am a red head. I am a theatre brat, I was raised in community theatre and still take an active part in it. It is my dream to make a living as a successful actor. I am constantly thinking, my mind races at the very mention of words and will link it to several other ideas and often I will say things relating to those thoughts or even have physical reactions to those thoughts. I have an incredibly good memory and I know a lot of really trivial stuff. If that makes me a hipster, sue me. I am very flamboyant, very eccentric, and I will not suppress that.

I might as well talk about the things I am trying to change or think I can change.

I am socially awkward. This may be due to the fact that I spent most of my free time with 30-60 years old in my childhood and high school years as opposed to people my own age.

That's about it really. So I think I will close this blog with the song I was thinking about when I was writing this blog.

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.