Category Archives: Art & Entertainment

Catching Up

MASH-flyerSo, I should probably have posted about M*A*S*H before, you know, the show opened. At least I posted it while it still has three performances to go… not that I expect this site will generate audience for the show.

Anyway, I directed M*A*S*H and have a wonderfully talented cast and crew. It’s been a fantastic experience and I will be sad when it is over.

In other news, we’re having the BIG tree in our back yard taken down today. It has rot visible high up at the site of where an old branch was removed years ago and we were thinking its was local to that spot until a piece of bark right at the ground level blew off in a wind storm two weeks ago and we could see the rot underneath. So, rather than wait for it to call on our house, we called the tree peeps to take it down. This makes me incredibly sad as this was a huge, beautiful tree, a swamp maple, and losing it means a lot less shade in our yard. A lot less.

We’ll plant some new trees to make up for it but it will be years before they give us real shade in the summer.

And that’s all the news to report today.

Little Shop of Horrors

LSH-flyerHot on the heels of a return engagement of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) (which I sadly forgot to blog about before it happened), is the next show I’m doing: Little Shop of Horrors. I don’t think the show needs any introduction. I’m playing Mr. Mushnik (the shop owner) and details of the show are on the poster (here) and the link (above).

Friends Zone at 20

friends
In early 1994, I was the Manager of Dartmouth’s Computer Resource Center, an artisanal pre-sales and consulting office in Dartmouth’s Computing Services. One morning, the Director of Computing stopped by my office and handed me a floppy disk and told me to check out what was on it. I popped it into my computer and saw that it contained a single application, Mosaic 0.9b. Curious, I launched it and thus began my experiences with the World Wide Web. Within a week, I had created Dartmouth’s first Web site (and one of the first 50 college web sites in the world, near as I could figure at the time). By fall, I created my blog (one of the first ever) and was looking for new, higher-profile projects.

I noticed that TV show websites were becoming a popular and I sought out a show I could get in on. My big obsession at the time was The X-Files so I reached out to the webmasters of one of the better sites offering my help. They told me they had things in hand and didn’t need any help so I cast about looking for other things I could do.

In the fall of 1994, Friends premiered and I noticed that since there was no USENET newsgroup for the show, people were talking about it in alt.tv.mad-about-you, much to the chagrin of the folks there who didn’t care for Friends or who were just OCD about things staying on-topic. It had no website, no mailing list, no newsgroup. And, hey, I really enjoyed the show. So, I sprang into action. I created alt.tv.friends, a LISTSERV mailing list, and a website.

Soon after, a supervising producer of Friends reached out to me to start providing some information back to us fans on the list. He told me that they put the Episode Guide and FAQ up outside the writers’ room to help with continuity. A thriving fandom had been born.

But by around January 1995, as people on the mailing list began to get to know one another more, topics began to stray from the show to talking to each other about anything. Friends were being made. This upset those people who preferred the list stay on-topic and there began to be some anger running around. I decided to split the list into two lists: Friends-TV for discussions only about the show, and FriendsZone for folks to just hang out.

On February 6, 1995 the list was created and the first subscribers began to appear.

The history of this virtual community is long and storied but the short version is that, 20 years later, it is still around. While there is still a mailing list, it is almost never used. Instead, a Facebook group now carries most of the conversation.

And this weekend, in Las Vegas, a group of these folks are getting together to celebrate the 20th anniversary. I wish I could be there with them but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I hope they all have a great time and post a lot of pictures.

Happy Birthday Zone!

Robin Williams

Reality+What+A+ConceptWhere do I begin? How do I attempt to capture (let alone encompass) what I am feeling right now? I’m currently running sound for Swamp Meadow’s Children’s Theatre production of Annie Jr. During the big song and dance number, NYC, someone shouts “Keep it down out there” (or something to that effect) and all I can think of every time I hear it is Robin Williams from, Reality, What a Concept, and his bit:

And Now, a New York Echo:

“Hello!!!”

“Shut the fuck up!”

We were just about to start the penultimate run through (the show  opens Wednesday) when my wife texted me the news.  My heart sank. I sat there staring at the mixing board trying to form thoughts in my head. All I could think was, “No. No. No. NO! Do NOT let this be true!”

I was about 9 when Mork first showed up in an episode of Happy Days. I remember loving that episode and the character and was overjoyed when I heard they were spinning him out into his own show. I watched every episode of Mork and Mindy and loved every minute of it. When I was in fourth grade, probably a year or two into Mork and Mindy’s run on TV, I did my first play. It was because of Robin. He showed me that I could take this crazy energy I had, this need to entertain my mother’s and sisters’ friends, my friends, my teachers (ok, maybe more drive my teachers crazy) and I could get onto a stage and harness that power for good. I act today because of Robin. In fact, so much of who I am comes from the influence of Robin, Steve Martin, Firesign Theater, Monty Python and more. But Robin was there first. And he was a blazing star to me.

MV5BMTkwMjQ3ODY2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzMwOTc0NA@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_I don’t generally get upset at celebrity deaths. But a few have really hit me hard. Carl Sagan and Jimmy Stewart, to name two, did hit me hard. But this is the cruelest cut of all.  I will always love Robin for the laughs and also for his more heartfelt moments. The Fisher King has always been one of my favorite movies for his inspired performance. And I haven’t seen Good Morning, Vietnam recently enough and need to watch it again.

I wanted to write this last night when it was fresh in my mind but I was just unable to get the words out. Even now, it is hard and I find myself tearing up. I’ll leave this here and just say that the world is a far better place because Robin was in it and rather than be sad he is gone, I will focus on celebrating what he has left us to enjoy and that I am very much the person I am today because of him. Thank you, Robin and rest in peace.

Subtle Humor

There was a post recently on [insert name of geeky blog site I forget here] with one of those link-bait titles like, “The Best Joke in Back to the Future you Never Noticed!” I read it and was amused. Mainly because I did notice it. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I tend to pick up on those jokes in movies that most people don’t notice outright. The Back to the Future joke in question is the fact that the mall at the start of the movie is called Twin Pines. When Marty goes back in time to 1953, he crashes into one of two pine trees. At the end of the movie when he returns to the mall, it is called Lone Pine.

Another good example is Airplane. In a movie filled with jokes (just this morning I was thinking about the soldier who thought he was Ethel Merman who was played by Ethel Merman singing Everything’s Coming up Roses) my favorite joke of all is the fact that through the entire movie (a movie that takes place on a jet plane) the sound effect you hear constantly is that of propellers.

What are other good examples of this kind of thing? Drop me a line on [insert social media thing here].

The Jungle Book

Jungle flyer 1d 300x460

Opening next Wednesday, Jack is appearing as “Father Wolf” (Mowgli’s father) in The Jungle Book, a production of Swamp Meadow Summer Children’s Theatre! I was an assistant director and am helping run sound as well.

All of the kids (and adults) have worked really hard on this so come on out and see the show!

The Playlist

I have been a dedicated collector of those little cards at Starbucks. You know, the ones that give you a free song if you type the code into your phone or iTunes? I’ve even gone so far as to purchase music if I somehow missed the card (or, more recently, was unable to download the song via the link in the Starbucks app due to REASONS) so I would have a complete collection.

Today, I realized I haven’t listened to all of the songs so I made a smart playlist that aggregates the unheard songs from that collection so I could listen to the ones I haven’t heard yet. I’m embarrassed to admit that the resulting list is 94 songs and 6.4 hours worth of music.

Read into that what you will. I’m going to go listen to music for a while now.

…One flew east, one flew west…

This October, I’ll be starring in Swamp Meadow Community Theatre’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as Randle Patrick McMurphy. This I’d my first leading role since I played The Boy in The Fantasticks in high school. 

If you have seen the play before or if you have read the book, you know that this is quite different than the movie. While I like the idea of playing a role that Jack Nicholson made famous but ultimately, I am playing a very different character than he did. 
To prepare for the part, I have been dieting and exercising a lot, practicing card tricks, and getting in touch with my inner sociopath. All very exciting!
Anyway, I am very excited and not a little nervous. So call the box office and reserve your tickets! Now!

Imagine

John Lennon

Imagine was the first song I ever played for Jack. I have a video of it around here somewhere. I just plopped him on the rug on his back (he still couldn’t roll over yet) and put the song on and then just filmed him listening to the entire thing. I wish I could say he showed interest. But at 2 months or so, he did what he always did: look around, move his arms and legs, and, well, just sit there. But it was a moment I still cherish because it was the first song I played for him in full. We always had music on but it was background to what was happening. This was the first time I’d just turned on the stereo and had him listen to something with no other distractions.

I was at a rehearsal for A Christmas Carol (I was Bob Cratchitt) at The Loft in Bronxville and everyone was depressed and upset. I found out that someone named John Lennon had been killed but I was 12 and didn’t know who he was until someone told me he was that guy from the Beatles. Over the next few days I read every article I could find in the newspaper and Time and Newsweek magazines and grew incredibly sad. Sad for his death and sad that I wasn’t aware of him independent of the Beatles until it was too late. Not long after, I had to make a diorama for a school art project and I made a montage of mourners in Central Park clipped from those magazines.

I went on a John Lennon and Beatles binge and listened to everything and learned what I could about the man. The song Imagine became something personal for me. Not a theme song per se, but just something that was, at its simplest, an expression of my feelings towards the world.

It’s 30 years later and his death still stings when I think about it. I have always been sad on this date and probably always will be. John would have been 70 today. I can only imagine the music he would have made in the last three decades.

NaNoWriMo 2010 Complete!

NaNoWriMo 2010 Winner!

I completely forgot to post about this the other day (that’s how busy I’ve been) — I won NaNoWriMo for the fourth straight year. 50,000 words in 30 days (28 in my case) is insane! Doing it four times is doubly insane! The fact that I was also a Municipal Liaison (that is, a volunteer helping to coordinate a geographc area, in this case, I was the Co-ML for Rhode Island along my friend Rob who did most of the heavy lifting anyway) made it even more insane than the level of insanity we reached in the previous sentence, which, it must be pointed out, was a far better constructed sentence than this one.