Once upon a time….I was lucky enough to be a student of theatre and communications at IUPUI. The exhausting short-speak known as “Ooey-Ptooey” by the naysayers was known in one class taught by the extraordinary Bruce Waggoner as “Yippee!” Bruce was so right. He has passed on now but his excitement about what IUPUI was and could be has been borne out.
IUPUI means, in practice, Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis. It is an astonishingly well covered place in so far as education is concerned. One can learn ANYTHING there!
I attended IUPUI for a couple of years after leaving the University of Evansville, known for its nursing program and it’s lucky acting alumni from the theatre program. Most notably these days the actor Ron Glass whose long career eventually landed him a job on the cult TV failure/hit Firefly.
He came to speak to us in Evansville one day while flying from Hollywood to NYC and back to shoot the opening sequences of his yet-to-air TV remake The Odd Couple.
He was mostly upset that he had to do this shoot for NO PAY. Also he refused the coffee offered him because he said, “Coffee makes me shit.”
Apart from that I learned nothing from him. He liked money and coffee made him shit. SHIT! Of all the words he uttered during his brief moment with rapt acting students awaiting his words of wisdom and encouragement I remember most, “SHIT.”
Students of the arts. Look within! For without is to find self-involved “shit”.
The time we spent huddled in the theatre with Ron Glass that day was the most useless I have ever spent in pursuit of my truth, my art, my craft. Truth be told, it was heart-rending. Full disclosure, I cannot HELP MYSELF. I still adore his work. That shit!
In short order and for various reasons I left U of E and landed back in my hometown of Indianapolis. At IUPUI.
There are many stories I could relate including meeting the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in person who left us and went on to a successful career on General Hospital as a lead character! But since this is MY blog and not hers…she can write her own story.
They say that “Broadway” for a children’s theatre actor is to have one’s name appear in a published script. If that is truly the case then I shot directly to the top of my profession in the Summer of my 22nd year.
Aurand Harris, the most produced children’s playwright of all time whose plays are numerous and whose plays have been translated into innumerable languages across the globe, had been hired by Indiana to write a typically Hoosier play for children AND to teach children’s playwrighting at IUPUI.
Aurand saw me that year in another children’s play entitled Hallelujah Hopscotch, play a 12 year old against a 9 year old and another 10 year old child. He was so impressed by my talent, his words at the time, that he had me in mind while he wrote the play RIDE A BLUE HORSE, the life and times of the great Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley. He wanted me for the role. And thank goodness he got what he wanted.
The character of Riley spans his entire life from 80 to literally 2 years old. I was in Heaven. Working with many of my friends from the school as well as actors hired-in for their Straw Hat Summer Theatre jobs for that Summer’s White River State Park Arts Festival and performing in the state of the art Indianapolis Children’s Museum theater we all had a very fulfilling experience.
Theatre for children is important. Lessons are taught and learned because live drama in a professional setting helps focus the child’s mind. Theatre for, and also BY, young people must not be lost!
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Once upon a time….I was lucky enough to be a student of theatre and communications at IUPUI. The exhausting short-speak known as “Ooey-Ptooey” by the naysayers was known in one class taught by the extraordinary Bruce Waggoner as “Yippee!” Bruce was so right. He has passed on now but his excitement about what IUPUI was and could be has been borne out.
Every morning I wake with a song running quietly in the back of my brain. A double-edged sword to be sure. Guns N Roses can rarely be termed “quiet”.
SIDEBAR: My brain runs random thoughts and memories through my consciousness continuously. From a sunny boyhood day in 1974 buying penny candy with my friends while on another bike-riding adventure through Troy Manor Trails to me and Danny Brewer walking home from second grade through the snow and joking about being Keith and Danny Partridge to driving in Evansville, Indiana with my college crush Mark Davis and talking about this “gay cancer thing” I never know exactly where I’ll end-up next…oh “End-up” triggers the stripper bar in Tales of the City where Michael/Mouse stripped in a contest. The flood of memories is constant and I don’t know how normal it is on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is memories triggered only on purpose and 10 is James Whale who had no control and had to be medicated. I’m probably a solid 6.
Behold my bold segue: ANYWAY!
This morning’s tune was Antarctica by Midnight Oil from their 1990 album Blue Sky Mining. I love this record. I saw these guys in concert in Indianapolis when they toured the States in support of this album. Right before Desert Storm.
SIDEBAR: I have never met an Aussie I didn’t like. Midnight Oil is an Australian band. Both statements are true.
I have Blue Sky Mining on my iPod so I put it on when I got on the bus to work this morning. And it made me wonder how many, which and if other people have whole albums they listen to from start to finish. Feel FREE to comment, add your own lists and to steal my recommendations. The more brave among you may even try some you’ve never heard of before! IN GERMAN! Yes, two of these are in German and at least one is a misogynistic romp through vaginal ownership. Gird your loins!
My partial list, partial because something is sure to crowd out parts of my list with a memory of the Autumnal winds of Indiana, includes:
Blue Sky Mining, Midnight Oil 1990
Nunsexmonkrock, Nina Hagen 1982
Einzelhaft, Falco 1982
Bloodsugarsexmagic, Red Hot Chili Peppers 1991
Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp 1987
Uh-Huh, John Mellencamp 1983
Any Smiths Compilation, The Smiths 1984-87
Kick, INXS 1987
Shabooh Shoobah, INXS 1982
A Thousand Suns, Linkin Park 2010
Trapped in the Body of a White Girl, Julie Brown 1987
The Real Thing, Faith No More 1989
Kissing To Be Clever, Culture Club 1982
Colour By Numbers, Culture Club 1983
She’s So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper 1983
True Colors, Cyndi Lauper 1986
Sisters of Avalon, Cyndi Lauper 1996
Dream of the Blue Turtles, Sting 1985
Turtleneck and Chain, The Lonely Island 2011
Incredibad, The Lonely Island 2009
Synchronicity, The Police 1983
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles 1967
Space Ghost’s Musical Bar-B-Que, Space Ghost et al 1997
Hotel California, The Eagles 1976
The Point of No Return, Kansas 1977
As Nasty As They Wanna Be, 2 Live Crew 1989
The Innocents, Erasure 1988
The Greatest Hits- It’s My Life, Shirley Bassey 2000
I Robot, Alan Parson’s Project 1977
Pyramid, Alan Parson’s Project 1978
Sign o’ the Times, Prince 1987
The B-52s (yellow album), The B-52s 1979
Bouncing Off The Satellites, The B-52s 1986
21, Adele 2011
Back To Black, Amy Winehouse 2006
Alright, Still, Lily Allen 2006
It’s Not Me, It’s You, Lily Allen 2009
Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters 2004
Through no small feat of the Theatre Gods it just worked out that my friend Paul Bellantoni had a pair of tickets to bestow for last night’s performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
He was hoping to trade them for tickets to The Importance of Being Earnest playing next door but alas for him no one could oblige. Not alas for me, I got one and the other went to our mutual friend Jason Griffin. Amazingly we were the only two who responded to his offer on Facebook. Silly people….silly people.
The show’s predicament is well known; several injuries, one quite severe and possibly career-ending and one which left the actress playing the villainess too afraid of flying to continue in the show.
I have been a vocal proponent of closing the show because I was afraid none of the parties involved had been working to keep the actors safe. And I still say that it’s unforgivable for a director to not demand double and triple checking of harnesses for this extremely dangerous brand of high-velocity wire-work in an enclosed space. (PS The Stage Manager should ALSO be on the hook for this as well as the Equity rep! No pun intended.)
But I have no intention of further flogging this issue in this post. I want to talk about the play. The musical version of the Spider-Man origin tale.
Think back to when you were a kid of about 10. Especially if, like me, you lived far from New York City, loved musicals and would rush off to the record store every Friday to see what new cast albums were out.
Imagination was everything to me. Listening to the cast albums I’d imagine what the show must be like. Always opulent and remarkable, of course. Eva Peron before a crowd of thousands! Cats doing amazing choreography!
Ever see Evita? Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina will send you to the doctor with ghost images of Eva burned into your retina by a blinding spotlight and immobility. Cats? CATS?! The leg-warmers did not FOOL ME! And the choreography was lame. LAME.
But Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, all my 10-year-old dreams of the perfect musical theatre experience were realized in you.
Ever sit in a theatre and feel like you’re about to topple onto 34th street from the top of the Chrysler Building? Holy Crap. Ever see a piece of paper blow across the stage, with no visible means of locomotion, and insist to be read? How’d they do that? Seriously. I looked hard to see how. I did NOT see how.
I am not going to go on and on because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. I suggest my readers also stay as ignorant of specifics as possible and go in fresh and wide-eyed like their 10-year-old selves.
This show is the dream of Broadway made real. Now, how do I get a life-sized Swiss Miss to use as my Xmas tree next year? That would be so HOT!
Well, here I am the day after Thanksgiving.
My partner Carlos and I trekked all the way to his sister’s house, over two blocks away, with some Jim Beam and a six-pack of Coors Light in anticipation of a psuedo-traditional Thanksgiving dinner. “Psuedo” because it was ham and not turkey. But we all love some good ham and OH boy were we not disappointed!
This was no hunk of ham-type porkish meat. NO! This my friends was H. A. M.
There was a big ol’ bone sticking out of it. This ham was farm ham, kids!
This bitch was pig. And this pig was good.
And there was football! I sat on the couch and watched football with Eriel, my brother-in-law, and cheered-on the Jets with a belly full of pig and a brain full of Jim Beam.
THANK YOU! Thank you, you bunch of racist pilgrim bastards. Thank you.
So today I decided to blog a bit. Knock around. Look for a new graphic theme. Add some links. Spruce up the place a bit.
Carlos started his knitting blog today and it was way cooler than mine so I had to do something.
I am enjoying tinkering about.
Plus, it’s keeping me from putting-up the Christmas tree. I want to put it up. I love sparkly, flashing pretty-in-the-dark. It helps reboot my brain and wards-off the December chill. Still, unboxing all the stuff is a chore.
Best get to it then!
In any case, ENJOY!
They also fight like two nasty brats sometimes… “How dare you tell me to get over it” and “I don’t care what YOU do, I’m gettin’ off here!” kinda stuff. They do this very quietly. I only ever heard them because they sat behind me a few times on the way home from work.
But what I’m sure of is that they love each other.
The sleeping is heaven and the fighting is hell and in between is all the cleaning house and making meals and playing video games….and criticizing each other’s video game playing…and getting that tingle in the pit of yourself when a random thought brings their face up on the HUD of your mind like a common destination on each Quest to slay that next Big Bad Boss.
So. With Valentine’s Day nearing I present to you all a symbol of what it really means to me.
INSTEAD they did get a balloon to bounce the delicate, painstakingly prepared equipment around an outback (not Outback) parking lot from atop a 40 foot well…. ladder….basically…and destroy years of work by loving and dedicated scientists who probably want to strap themselves into the next balloon ride.
I ask you, gentle reader, why not just hook it up to Cletus’s pick-up truck in Tennessee somewhere and attach a kite to one end of it and hope that will work?!
Billions of our tax dollars for this waste of time and dedication and work!
You’re all fired!!! From the guy who gassed the car of the guy who unlocked the doors that morning in Alice Springs to some researcher who said, “Yeah! That’d be NEAT!”
Masai Moon Goddess Olapa Answers Prayers! Swings a crew of 3 Masai from Kenya into orbit around Mars!
So with bated breath I awaited Final Fantasy XIII. And because of reviews, I played through 45 hours to get to “the good part”. Alas, I forgot “the good part” was deemed so by fat, home-working couch-potato slackerheads who’re all virgins and smelly.
The difficulty seemed to LEAP over the moon…and YES, I had leveled all my characters and upgraded my weapons and accessories. I’d been kicking butt or at least been able to manage my battles but no more. It didn’t even seem like the same game anymore! PLUS…I’m supposed to RELAX not get PISSED-OFF!
I only have a few hours a week to play…not a few hours a DAY.
So if I am dying over and over during the hour I get to play then I have made zero progress and I consider THAT a wasted hour. A wasted wasted hour!
I play for FUN. If I’m not having FUN then it’s time to stop.
Thank goodness for Gamestop! I’ll just carry this game around now in my man-bag until I’m near the store again and trade it for something more playable…I hope.
Y’know what USED to be fun? Here’s my list of most fun games on whatever system:
All 3D graphics Zelda from Ocarina through Windwaker (brilliantly calibrated difficulty, awesome play)
Metroid Prime and Echoes (immersive and beautiful)
Final Fantasy XII (Brilliant battle system and leveling)
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (toilet humor and great game play!!!)
Okami (Zelda meets RPG also gorgeous in every way)
Viewtiful Joe (side-scrolling BRILLIANCE!)
Resident Evil remastered, Zero and 4 (Creepy atmo and great play)
God of War I & II (Great graphics and music, mostly great gameplay)
Wario World (fun platformer withOUT Mario!)
Sphinx (great music and graphics, fun gameplay)
Luigi’s Mansion (silly ghost vacuuming game but great design)
Uncharted (insanely well made and fun!!!!)
Warhawk (steep learning curve but very fun because u can stay away from the online douche-bags by running your own server!)
InFamous (awesome sandbox with rewarding Trophy-Ho potential)
Zen Pinball (It’s PINBALL!)
Super Stardust HD (zoning out is easy!)
Little Big Planet (RIDICULOUS FUN)
Devil May Cry 4 (button mashing glee)
That’s not a lot of games over the years.
My reject list includes:
Ninja Gaiden Sigma (first boss difficulty is stupidly hard)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (online douche-bags)
Prince of Persia (PS3) (remedial and boring)
Battlefield 1943 (online douche-bags)
Borderlands (VERY repetitive and boring)
I think some people SAY they like a game because it’s the game to like. But I’m not 14 any more, I just wanna FEEL like it.
And NOW John Stossel wants businesses to be free to discriminate based on race. He won’t go to them but he wants them free to choose. Why stop there? I want rampant sex and nudity and NO restrictions on language on public airwaves then too! And bigamy should be legal! The law of the land should just be “If you don’t want to then don’t do it and don’t complain and don’t infringe and don’t Drive 55!” Now I’m off to have a wank on the subway platform. Don’t like it? Don’t fuckin’ look. [Be aware: the preceding was extreme sarcasm.]
Death and The Cling Peaches November 5, 2010
On November 6th 1971 I was recently eight-years-old and living with my first cousins, once removed, Bea and Nook Malone in Indianapolis, IN. They were my parent’s age so I called them aunt and uncle but in truth my father was raised with his cousin Nook in Terre Haute. He was probably placed with Aunt Lottie, my grandmother Fanny’s sister, because she couldn’t handle raising twins.
My dad was Ottie Herman and his identical twin brother was Offie Sherman.
By this point I’d stayed with Nook and Bea for several months off and on and for a few different reasons. Initially I went to stay during that Summer because my mother had had another relapse into uncontrolled paranoid schizophrenia and was back in The Seven Gables at Central State Hospital. My father wasn’t capable of taking care of me and working. Not if he wanted to get drunk every night, I guess.
It was during this time that the infamous “favorite shirt” incident occurred.
My dad brought mom over to see me on a furlough from the mental hospital. She brought me a painting she made in therapy. She was a passable artist and the picture she made for me of a tree was very nice. But I digress…
I was excited to get to see my parents again so I put on my favorite new shirt that Bea had bought me. It was a long sleeved red shirt with a longish collar and a black diamond pattern sewn into it. It was a great shirt, I thought! As I came down the stairs there were my parents! Sitting on the couch together. I was so happy to see my mother. A seven-year-old boy can only go so long without his mommy! But before I made it down to the foot of the stairs my father chimed in with, “Where the hell’d you get that nigger shirt from?!”
I don’t remember anything else from that visit really. I know my mom showed me her art-work and I got lots of hugs. From her.
Eventually she was discharged and deemed fit to go on out-patient therapy so home I went as well.
Then my dad got sick. Doctor said pneumonia. He couldn’t work for months and sat eating soup and coughing uncontrollably until just before Halloween 1971 when my brother Chris took him to the hospital. I remember him waving bye at the back door. And back I went to Nook and Bea’s.
Man did I LOVE Nook and Bea’s! My cousin Kitty Sue was only five but I don’t remember thinking, “She’s such a BABY!” or anything like that. We played together well. Living there was like being at a hippie commune with Vicky and her husband living in a trailer on the back of the property. Lots of peace signs and black light posters and brownies. GOD VICKY’S BROWNIES! The best I’ve had even to this day, and NO they weren’t pot brownies! I have SO many stories I could tell but I’ll stick to my point.
Eventually on November 6th, which was the day of the first snow that year, Aunt Bea told me I’d be going home. I was a little disappointed because I was going to have to play all alone again but it’d be easier to get to school and stuff. Besides, I was used to bouncing around at this point.Then there were some odd occurrences.
Aunt Bea filled my little suitcase with candy! I liked that idea! She didn’t give the candy to me or explain it, I just noticed it when she was packing me. The other thing I remember vividly from the perspective of an eight-year-old is over-hearing a conversation between Aunt Bea and Uncle Nook about a funeral as they towered over me. They completely ignored my question, “Who died?”. But that was OK, I just shrugged and went on playing.
My cousin who drove me home and I were about a block away from my house when I realized something with certainty and I would have asked out loud the question bonging in my head like a gong but I also thought it would freak her out: “He’s dead isn’t he?” The “he” being my daddy.
When I got home to a little house full of people everyone braced themselves and my mother told me as she stood in the kitchen door and I stood in the front room, “Keith, your dad passed away this morning at 6AM”. (Pneumonia had proven to be cancer.) And then I crawled into my brother Chris’s lap as he sat in Dad’s chair and cried for about five or ten minutes. And that was the only time I cried about it.
All In The Family was on that night, first run. It was the episode entitled Edith’s Accident when she loses control of a shopping cart full of cans of cling peaches and it crashes into the car of a Catholic Priest. And there was Archie shouting his bigoted beliefs for all the world to see.
Many in the house that night laughed in the recognition that my dad had been just like Archie Bunker. And he had been. But Archie’s only funny because the rest of the show can counter him.
My dad wasn’t actually very funny. He was just a sad, angry, scared Irish-American drunk. He didn’t do either of my older brothers any favors as a father and he was about to not do me any too. I’m sad that his life was such a bitter disappointment to him. I wish there was some way to know why, because his cousin Nook was his opposite in about every way. A kind, big-hearted bear of a man.
Anyway, here I am on the eve of the 39th anniversary of my father’s death. I am glad he died when he did. I was just old enough to know, looking back, why I was relieved instead of sad. I am 47 years old now. I am a mere six years away from being the same age he was when he died. My perspective on him is changing again. But it’s not changing the truth. He was a rotten father. I mean, ROTTEN.
Goal Schmoal! October 6, 2010
From the Children’s Miracle Network site:
This year alone, Children’s Miracle Network hospitals will provide charity care worth billions, yet these children’s hospitals depend on community support to help fund their vital services.
To ensure children’s hospitals have the resources they need, Children’s Miracle Network’s partners conduct thousands of special events and grassroots fundraisers year-round. Corporate partners sell Miracle Balloons, radio and television stations broadcast stories of medical miracles, and college students hold Dance Marathons—just a few of the programs generating millions of dollars each year to provide the life-saving care and crucial services kids need.
The Extra Life gaming marathon I’m participating in is one of those fundraisers!
It’s also important to note that funds raised also go to research in areas like pediatric AIDS and cancer.
The basic monetary goal for every Extra Life participant is $96. Just $24 from 4 people. I thought that was a really low number so I decided to try for 10 people and a goal of $240. I have received donations from 8 people totaling $303!Those awesome people are:
Alex Raskin, Film Director
Merry Pettyjohn, Microsoft Brainiac (and my first girlfriend!)
Paul (Pablito) Richardson, bon vivant and fund raising swapper (I sponsored his AIDS Walk and he my Extra Life!)
Eric Lanpher, My nephew (25% same DNA!)
Soroj Hansraj, co-worker
Chandra Frank, Florida’s ass-kickin’ babe!
Robert Finnerty, Red Dwarf aficionado
Melanie Hauser, high school pal, wife, mother and sometimes she scribbles a large number of words and sells them.
Goals are nice. They give focus. But goals don’t give meaning.
Donate now because you can. Donate now because if you need these services someday they’ll be there for YOU as well.
But don’t hold back because I’ve met MY little goal. Don’t think, “Well….job done”.
Donate now because it’s not much money but it’s necessary!
My Extra Life participation will be 8am to 8pm on both Saturday and Sunday, October 16th and 17th. Got a PS3??? Send a friend invite to: son_of_ottie and we can play online together in Little Big Planet, Killzone 2, blur, GT5p, Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption, Warhawk, Zen Pinball (with video chat), PAIN, Bioshock 2 or Spit In The Can….which I just made up. (Also MAYBE MAG and Mod Nation Racers)
I also plan to ustream my Saturday participation….which AIN’T gonna be pretty.
[LINK REMOVED AFTER EVENT]
(Addendum: I raised nearly $650.00! THANKS ALL!)
(For those who don’t know, Crispin Glover sends me an email annually regarding being booked into a Jersey City movie palace because a few years ago I emailed him to tell him this place existed and it’d be a great place for him to screen his own films. Films for which he has both directed and starred. Somehow he got the idea I had anything to do with booking him. And I can’t make him stop.)
My Email To Loews For Crispin Glover September 30, 2010
Dear Loews Folks,
I am forwarding this email on to you.
As you may be aware, Crispin Glover has been making the rounds of art houses and the like for a few years now to screen his personal film projects.
If you find you are so inclined you may contact him via the info included.
He and his films, those he personally wrote and directed starring himself and actors who have Down’s syndrome, always attract attention and good will.
I am involved only insofar as I wrote telling him of your amazing facility.
I live in hope that you will now contact him personally with an aye or nay or some further negotiations regarding any possible booking at the remarkable Loews Jersey City.
Mr. Glover is always eager to share his work and now abides on tenterhooks in anticipation of your reply.
Looking forward to my next visit to your historic movie palace,
Keith Patrick Dunn
Union City, NJ
The Truth About Arts Awards
or Don’t Let The Bastards Ruin You September 21, 2010
WAY back in 1983 I played the role of Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises at a community theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was quite young and it was my first leading role outside the comfort of children’s theatre, which for me began with a leading role and was followed in high school by more leading roles. This was not my first time at the rodeo.
I auditioned for the part. The audition pianist, the late and very great Jean Cones, was a friend of mine and a great comfort to have at the piano that night. Short story short, I got the part.
I kinda thought I would because so much of Chuck’s speech pattern and attitude were similar to my own. I understood the humor and rythm of the piece right away and so apart from the basic blocking, the director, the never-to-be-late and always, mostly, awesome Ron Spencer didn’t give me any direction. He never gave me one piece of acting direction and some of the numbers he told me to just do. So I did.
Then came the Encore Award nominations. I received a preliminary nod…yeah, everyone does…but then no actual nomination. And when I was so disappointed, I was told the reason I didn’t get a nomination was because the panel thought I had OBVIOUSLY mimicked EVERYTHING from Ron Spencer, the director, and had of course, being a lad of 19, not the depth of talent necessary to pull off a role like that! This I was told by someone I considered a friend, and still do, but friends can get away with so much with me.
I don’t know if it was worse coming from the grinning face of someone I trusted or the fact this person KNEW it to be untrue and didn’t stick up for me. But it still hurts. And then two years later I was finally nominated for an actual Encore Award for Best Actor in a Drama for playing the title role in The Elephant Man for Buck Creek Players!
I was SO excited. I had worked very hard on the posture, the accent with accompanying speech impediment and the character’s emotional core and vulnerablility. This was a more difficult role by far than Chuck Baxter had been but it was also very rewarding. I worked with an impeccable local cast and the directors, yes both of them and sisters, did a wonderful and heartfelt job. My overarching direction was “don’t ever get angry”. And I managed to pull that off…every time save for one when I turned to John Lampson’s Treves and asked heatedly, “WHY NOT?!?!” (oops) But it was in the moment and I recovered and that was that.
Something many people may not know or recall (or care about) is that I was a terrible hayfever sufferer then and this was Autumn. My nose ran non-stop the whole time the show was up. My Merrick had a handerkerchief on him at all times and used it frequently if clumsily.
Back to the point, I was up for the award against two men who were older and had a larger and more established reputation than my own. Deservedly so. They were truly wonderful actors who always gave as a good a performance you’d find on any Broadway stage or in any film you’d see. Their names are Brad Griffith and Don Barnes and they starred TOGETHER in a very techie K2. Now, K2 is a tech show no matter what with mountain climbing, repelling and an avalanche right before your very eyes. Still none of the tech took away from their brilliant performances.
And now come the awards. Clearly, my friend who blithely belittled me during award season would say, I couldn’t possibly win. Clearly the competition was better than I was. Clearly I was just Keith Dunn the short, slightly (then) overweight kid whose limited talent would soon show me to be no better than chorus material.
But I did win.
I won the award for Best Actor/Drama 1985 for the role of John Merrick, the title role in The Elephant man.
But HOW could THIS be?! Surely repelling down a styrofoam cliff takes more work than learning to stand on stage all crumpled up for 2 hours!
Well…it had to have been this: THEY CANCELED EACH OTHER OUT! Yes. She was certain I had won ONLY because they canceled each other out leaving little nobody ME in a position to win by a whole single vote. (Of course no evidence of this theory ever surfaced but if someone you trust sneers it at you enough in front of other people and then everyone spreads the rumor….it becomes fact.)
Now let’s say for argument there were 10 voters. If the other two actors got 3 votes each and I got 4 then I win with a minority of the total votes. But I still won. I STILL got to stand on a stage and thank people…and later go up and thank people when I accepted John’s award FOR him because he didn’t come…..hmmmm….seems like the whole show was celebrated that night. But I’m sure if that were the case then my win was a result of an Elephant Man FRENZY of emotional support. In the service of the sufferers of deformity everywhere.
Couldn’t POSSIBLY be because I deserved it. I couldn’t possibly have worked for it.
That was now almost precisely 25 years ago. And I am still diminished by the comments and attitudes of the people, my peers, who so methodically strove to make of me what they were; amateurs.
The award that I clearly won is in the hands of someone who didn’t have to endure the sniping and jibing about its validity and who therefore can be proud of me for winning it, my beloved older brother Chris.So here is the truth the title of this ramble promises: If you won it then you WON it. If people voted and you got the highest number of votes of ANY SINGLE PERSON then you won. And if anyone tries to take your joy from you then you let ’em have what’s coming to them. Be proud of yourself! And NEVER give control of your happiness to someone who, at the time, has none of their own and so will work day and night to be sure that YOU don’t have any as well.
Labor Day Teenaged Get-Away September 7, 2010
So…Carlos and I woke-up about 11am on Monday, Labor Day.
He made coffee. He sat at the computer and began to tinker and wrestle with iTunes and his iPod, like ya do if you don’t have a Mac. I took the chance to play my new favorite video game, blur, since we weren’t using the TV to catch-up on Supernatural Season 4 for a little while.
I leveled up in online multiplayer a few times. It’s much faster to do when you’ve leveled to 50 (Legend) once and know how to play. Then I went back into single player Career Mode and beat a couple of bosses and got a couple swanky cars for multiplayer use! At some point Carlos talked to his sister Lisa on the phone and I interjected comments while driving like the wind and shunting and being bolted….
For those who don’t know, peeing during LIVE, ONLINE PLAY is a nuisance. You gotta RUN during the 45 seconds between matches….same with soda refills! And it distracts from the obsessive mindset! Ugh.
Yeah so, he’s doin’ his thing on the computer and I’m playing and leveling and filling/emptying my bladder and then it’s 9:30 PM!Carlos spent the day doing what he loves…playing music and singing and talking with Lisa and being near me. I got to do what I love…playing video games compulsively and being near Carlos. We were like teens!And THEN we ordered Chinese food and watched the first 4 episodes of Supernatural before bedtime.
I Have Opinions About Everything August 27, 2010
blur Changed The Way I See Racing Games
Reviewed By: son_of_ottie Date: 8/27/2010 Favorite Category: Action
I am an open-minded gamer. I play every demo I can get my grubby paws on. But when it comes to racing games, I just don’t get it. “VROOOOOM!” , big deal, I always think. I mean, where’s the excitement in NASCAR circles or Indy car wall-bangin’? Where’s the challenge other than staying awake? So I was prepared to play the blur demo for about 2 minutes and then DELETE. Cut to me, a few days later, reaching the end of the 10 level demo. (I’m a busy guy. I didn’t get to play it through. OK?)I guess it was the cars which interested me to begin with. A crazy-wild variety of real cars from a beat-down drifty VW Beetle to the Megane Trophy hugging the surface of the Earth like smooth grass. Really FAST grass.In online multiplayer of up to 20 racers, customizations for cars come by racing a certain car a certain number of times and by winning. Cars and mods are earned by ranking-up.Ranking-up is earned through a variety of challenges so numerous as to include “Bullying II” and “Nitro Ramming” which earn extra “fans” speeding the rank-up process EVEN if you never win a race.The mods are equipped at the beginning of each race except hardcore which is a race-only, no power-ups mode. The mods can affect the effect of your power-ups and those of other’s who would dare slam you with their own. The power ups include shield, bolt, shunt, nitro and others. (I hope they’ll be coming at us with DLC for many more power-ups and mods! Can you imagine the MOO POWER-UP which drops a cow on the road? Well how about the MOO MELT MOD which makes the cow into a burger and adds health! I know…I’m a genius!) Back to reality….There are LOTS of courses varying from inner-city Brooklyn to London and Hollywood and the dust bowl with different ways to race in each course of each locale. The variety is fantastic because if you lose the online vote and have to race in less-than-your-favorite venue just GO FOR IT because it may thrill you anyway!And then there’s career mode!Bottom line about blur is the nature of variables makes every moment of gameplay different from the last and as exciting.A month ago if someone had told me I’d be on the road to racing game aficionado I’d have laughed in their face! But my opinions have been blurred!
Get it? Huh? See what I did there? See that?
WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE August 5, 2010
I added my own thoughts on this bigot’s comments. They are in parentheses. And I didn’t hold back my language…you are warned.
“You’re stripping 7 million people of their right to vote,” said Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage.
(ACTUALLY, the Mormon church and activists of the extremist “Christian” right wing used demonstrable lies in a fear and smear campaign to terrorize otherwise sane Americans into once again believing gays were all Catholic priests. Wait…that’s unfair…but basically accurate.They even cobbled together a recording of snippets from Obama making him seem to tell everyone to vote FOR Prop 8 and then robo-calling MILLIONS of people with it. Obama opposed Prop 8. So tell me you right-wing mother-fucker, how does THAT sit with Jesus Christ?)
Brown argues that Walker’s ruling assumes those 7 million people were driven by deep-seated bias and irrationality. (Nope. Fear…SEE ABOVE)
“They say we’re just like the Ku Klux Klan. (You fucking ARE. By definition, people who hate other people for reasons dealing solely with superficial issues like skin color or sexual orientation are sister-mother-brother-fucking bigots.) What they don’t get is Americans are overwhelmingly for traditional marriage,” Brown said. (Nope. Most Americans don’t give a shit what other Americans are doing. They wanna watch TV, fuck and eat.) “Those of us who believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman are going to be treated in law as if we’re bigots and deprived of our right to vote. That’s just not going to sit well.” (Justice never sits well for the wrong-doers…you lying cunt. If I were you I’d be worried about what your God is gonna say when you get to the Pearlie Gates because if you really believed in Hell you’d know yours is gonna be an eternity getting ass-fucked by Dan White in a Harvey Milk mask. Wait…you don’t believe in God…not really. If you did you’d KNOW better.)
I warned ya about the language.
To Dream The Impossible Dream (or Keep That Strange Country Music Playin’ Accompanist AWAY FROM ME!)
I read my voice teacher/vocal coach’s blog this morning. “What Defines Success?” As usual her observations are insightful and useful and motivational.
She lists some points and here’s one of them:
2. Successful people do not let fear of ANY kind inhibit their efforts or their desires.
This is the most difficult aspect of the business for me.
I used to be fearless. More even, FEAR FREE! My attitude was that I was the one on stage so I had ALL THE CONTROL. If I was in a scene and something happened to threaten my control then I improvised until I got that damned control BACK! I was in high school, I was 16 or 17 then.
While I don’t want to go improv crazy during performances, I DO need to get that feeling of CONTROL back. It’s the only way for me to conquer my fear.
Now, when I admit to fear… I’m still a little bulldog when it comes to my performances. Having been cast and rehearsed I do quite well!
But I do have one borderline phobia. I am terrified of *DUHM DUHM DUHUHUHUHMMMMMM* audition accompanists!!!
Let me back up a bit to tell the tale of an audition gone awry.
I was working as box office manager at York Theatre Company in NYC. They do original small musicals and concert versions of old gems they call “Musicals in Mufti”.
The artistic director Jim Morgan and the casting director Norman Meranus knew me. They knew I was Equity. They knew I sang. They held an audition. I decided to step outside the box office for a minute and go sing for them.
I had no repertoire to speak of but I did have two songs I could do. Pretty Women from Sweeney Todd and Newt from Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly.
I started with Pretty Women and was so nervous that the high notes were B.A.D. though
I’ve sung that song a million times. The smiles they had for me when I walked into the room had faded.
They asked if I had anything else and I DID! I had Newt. But that song is VERY FREE FORM. It’s basically a comic monologue set to music and rhyme.
The pianist they had was good that day but NO ONE is gonna play that song right the first time!
Now, because Jim and I were friends he worked with me on Newt for a minute and when I did it again I was awesome. But by then the casting director had walked out disgusted, as well he should have, and Jim asked me why I couldn’t’ve done it that well the first time.
Here’s my problem:
I’m in a room with unfamiliar acoustics and with a piano behind me being played by a total stranger who may never have seen my music before in life. Also, I’m funny. I should sing something funny. But I have 16 bars…enough for HALF of a joke. So I choose something I think I can FIT into that space and always come up with Pretty Women. And that song doesn’t sell my quirkiness…though it does sell my VOICE really well….too bad the voice is a mismatch for my body….
…and all this surges through me at the same time. So nervous am I, even my individual hairs are shaking independent of one another.
I am afraid that an unknown accompanist will destroy my audition…so I destroy it for both of us and end up wasting everyone’s time.
I am frozen with dread that I won’t pick a good audition song…so I equivocate. Thus my book has one feasible song in it: Pretty Women.
And joy of joys, I have chosen about TEN possible audition songs to take to my voice session in two days…and I am mortified that I have chosen total shit, completely inappropriate for auditioning when cut to 16 bars.
I should look on the BRIGHT SIDE though. All upcoming auditions will likely require 12 and a half bars of a song from one out of print Judas Priest album sung while submerged in a vat of warm bacon grease while wearing snorkeling apparatus. At least, that would be identical to my perceived audition hurdles so far…
I am disgusted with myself. But I MUST move on. I have to! And so WHAT if I choose 37 shades of shit to try and make into audition songs. Susan Eichhorn-Young is going to be my angel and help me pick and choose the best of the best.
NEXT OBSTACLE: Audition Monologues and how all women loathe my hysterical piece from Steambath. It contains the word “pussy” and the phrase “..my wife’s box…” which turned my last audition into a game of IS THAT HIPPIE LADY STILL BREATHING?!?!
OK. Yeah. I KNOW it’s a funky title. But I kinda like it anyway. My kitchen, my peanut butter and pickle sandwich.
Lemme tell ya a little tale of truth and attitude-in-practice.
Years, many, ago in Indianapolis I was young and non-degreed and working low-wage jobs and acting for FREE but honing my craft. Honing my craft was good and distracted me from all the crap in my life like low wages and dying friends and loneliness.
I practiced the Pollyanna principle.
Then I began to get bitter. After a while, when things were going really badly, I stopped saying positive things to myself. I became angry with the conditions of my life. And although it felt good to be angry, it was seriously detrimental to my ability to attract positive energy.
When I was a Pollyanna, if something bad was goin’ down like late rent or no money for food somehow I would get called for a paying gig outta the blue or get a rebate check from the government or something! My bad energy ended that.
In the intervening years I became numb to the anger, partly through emotional callouses and partially through tasty alcoholic beverages [Edit. I am not an alcoholic. News Flash: Not everyone who drinks and parties when they’re young is an addict.] The numbness allowed me to slowly and very gradually awaken from my torpor beginning with moving from Indy to New Jersey and aided most by my remarkable partner of 9 years, 10 months and 17 days, Carlos.
So now recently you’ll notice…the existence of this blog which demonstrates and chronicles my taking charge of my life and letting light and air back into corners which had been dark and musty for some many years now.
And guess what’s happening. I’ll lay it out for you. I decided to get my acting into shape last year and took a class at Stella Adler Studio for professional actors. Turns out I didn’t need help with the acting, rather I needed help knowing where my talents fit into the hierarchy. Was I any good?!?!?!
I did one monologue two ways: once hysterically funny, once very moving. Sam Schacht, the teacher and accomplished actor, sat with his mouth open in shock and surprise. In a good way. While other class members were struggling with how to even DO comedy at all.
I learned I was quite good at what I do.
My previous entries talk about my vocal issues so I won’t belabor those things here just yet except to bring my current forward momentum to your attention and add that I have my first full HOUR with Susan on May15th. THRILLING!!!!
And what has been happening lately? I got a tax refund that allowed me to buy an iPod Touch for use at my voice lessons, vocal coaching sessions AND on which to keep recordings of my personal repertoire allowing constant study and enjoyment. I really needed it and this happened just in time.
Also exciting is the invitation I got from someone I know to participate in a reading of a new play for multiple Tony winning producer Stewart F Lane. I will be reading the lead, the play is a farce about language. A PERFECT fit for me and about the best networking opportunity imaginable. Thanks Emileena!
So a word of advice: If you’re feelin’ crappy and useless and over-the-hill you aren’t any of those things unless you MAKE yourself those things. Why not make yourself successful?
And now a LIST! Cause they’re fun! These are the songs with which I have decided to start my repertoire. All these songs were either specifically suggested or their composers were suggested or their genre was suggested by Susan Eichhorn-Young. In no particular order:
Just In Time, by Comden/Green and Styne
Night and Day, by Cole Porter (For some reason WordPress won’t let me fix his name but it’s C o l e!!)
Stardust, by Hoagy Carmichael
Marrying For Love, by Irving Berlin
New York State of Mind, by Billy Joel
William, It Was Really Nothing, By The Smiths
You Must Meet My Wife, by Stephen Sondheim
Nina, by Cole Porter
Leaning On A Lamp Post, by George Formby
Moon Over Bourbon Street, by Sting
Please note that where the song was written by a pop icon I have located alternate recordings to listen to. ie: New York State of Mind sung by Mel Torme. Don’t laugh, Mel knocks it outta the park!
I did that so I could have some varied interpretations to free my mind up to create my own. When I go in the audition room I want to be fresh no matter WHAT I sing.
Lots of stuff in my brain lately.
I had a vocal consultation a few weeks ago with the remarkable Susan Eichhorn Young. I had been having some vocal production issues which my partner characterized as sounding “swallowed”. And if there’s one thing I HATE it’s that type of sound.
I blame this issue on small spaces. Little apartments with little rooms and close neighbors. No one wants their neighbors to hear them singing at home. It’s peace-disturbing. So over time I’ve been closing up my throat to not make a loud noise…and I have a BIG voice. This has all led to my problem. I went to Susan only after some soul-searching about my life’s purpose. About my personal happiness.
Yes, I might’ve been in a better place as a career performer IF I’d moved to one of our nation’s centers of art like Los Angeles or New York City when I was younger. However, I am STILL me. I’m the only me. Yes, I’m fat now. Well… some people get fat! I CAN lose weight but I am fat now. That’s ME now. Fat and 47 years old next October.
I had built a closet for myself made of aged fat. Rephrased, I allowed myself to feel insecure about my abilities ONLY because I’m fat and nearing 50. Do these things affect my talents? No. In fact my voice is more colorful and rich because of my age BUT I wasn’t experiencing that in my little living space.
I then even wrote a response on Susan’s blog about how I was giving up on singing for several ridiculous reasons I enumerated. And I sorta believed the reasons but I wasn’t really convinced but I didn’t know if I cared because I was afraid to care because after because after because.
Then I sang. Walking down the street in Queens on an errand for work I sang a bit of Pretty Women from Sweeney Todd. (Which is apparently the only song I know.)
My own voice surprised me. Such a gorgeous tone. And yes I say so myself and no I am not delusional. Ask around. (Well, about my voice anyway…bitches.)
It was then that I realized the truth of some old chestnut about goals and achievements and stuff.
THE ONLY THING STANDING IN MY WAY IS ME.
I made an appointment and went to see Ms. Eichhorn Young of Herald Square. She showed me where my larynx is! It’s NOT the Adam’s Apple. I didn’t know that.
Here’s how it went.
I sat down in her office in her DELIGHTFUL studio. She encouraged me to record the session, which I did. She asked me how my voice was. I told her it was oddly high pitched today. She explained to me how my larynx seemed to be high and tight, my words not hers. She showed me where it is and how to relax it by breathing. She had me feel its position and movement. We did some breathing exercises to help me connect to my larynx and feel it. Now I can use simple muscle memory to ensure my voice is open and my breaths are full.
We sang some scales and without really warming up I was able to sing a high F with no tension.
Folks, that was 15 minutes after meeting her.
And now here is an important thing to realize and own. If not, one can become unhealthily dependent and clingy and whiny. Everyone needs to “get” this part.
If I wasn’t a good student with my own years of experience and work behind me I may not have understood what she was talking about. I need to own my own worth!
Just as Susan Eichhorn Young is an awesome teacher, I am a remarkable student who also happens to own an awesome set of freakin’ pipes! The more I study the more “stuff” I can draw upon. I take her lessons upon myself and own the responsibility for them but I don’t make HER responsible for my success. Or failure.
One more little thing, damn the neighbors.
On to one other thing on my mind. A screenplay.
I enjoy to do of the writing. I also like to be scared and to laugh. Sean of the Dead is one of my favorite movies. It’s so smart and so funny!
So I thought I’d sit down and write a movie! Why NOT?! I know several screenwriters and they are probably saying “You’re CRAZY! And you ANNOY ME!” That’s fine. Picasso probably hated Sherwin Williams.I got an idea about turning those high school horror movies on their heads. I mean, if kids think high school is a horror at least the rest of their lives is AHEAD of them. Teachers not so much.
I’m in the first birthing stages of a story about a high school staff in the boonies who are set upon by their student body after some deep space occurrence causes changes in the local kids….and maybe rabbits. Probably also rabbits.
The science, though theoretical in the extreme, will be sound-ish. To a point. Certainly no worse than Pontypool!
I have a frustrated gym teacher who coaches the lawnathalon team and an English teacher/Drama Club Director who’s directing a cleaned-up Streetcar Named Desire.
I am going to model the structure after a Japanese film that was so scary I had to watch it in installments. The film is “Infection”.
We’ll see. All I can do it try and THAT is a lot.
What are YOU trying?