30 December 2007

My Top Ten Entertainment Experiences of 2007

I did this for 2006 and 2005. It's a tradition! Here are the rules, if you want to play at home:

Instead of my list of top ten movies or t.v. shows or books or whatever, I am opting for something far more personal: A peek into what moves me as a person. This is about the whole experience, not just the favorites.

For instance, a runner-up for this list is my "August Rush" experience. The movie flat-out sucked, and I wish I hadn't wasted the money. However, Pamela and I met our friend Phil Kelly at the Arclight, had lunch there before the movie, and suffered through the movie together, laughing and quipping our way through it. So bad movie, good experience. Capice?

Here we go, in no particular order:

1) Pamela's debut at Stiletto 2.5 -- The entire day spent in San Bernardino was fantastic. I camped out in a Starbucks reading the last Harry Potter, had dinner with Pam and Gabrielle, and then scurried back to watch Pam's big debut (with tassles!)

2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- There's not much I can add to my original blog. This was the first time I ever stood in line and waited for the ball to drop, so to speak, at midnight. That was fun. The book itself was simply amazing.

3) The Police (and DAVE GROHL!) at Dodger Stadium -- It's been a long time desire of mine to see The Police in concert. I have very fond memories of spending a sunburned summer listening to "Every Breath You Take: The Singles" over and over and over. I've been rather disappointed with Sting's output over the past few years (adult contemporary rock. Ugh.) and it was good to see him as A ROCK GOD once again.

The bonus was seeing Foo Fighters in concert for the first time. What can I say? Dave Grohl IS Rock and Roll!

4) John Mayer at the Hollywood Bowl -- I had just a great time with Pammy, doing what we enjoy most, and making a day of it. The Bowl is an incredible venue, and since it's in Hollywood, we got to do a bit of "star gazing" (James Cameron has excellent taste in music, by the way.)

5) Victory Variety Hour with Jim and Lisa and Pamela at the El Cid -- In the midst of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Jim Blanchette (who played -- nay, owned -- Bottom) e-mailed the cast and crew with an invite to join him and his wife at the El Cid for an evening of burly-q fun.

So not only did we get to enjoy an evening of top-notch burlesque (the very lovely Penny Starr, Jr. puts on one hell of show,) we got to enjoy it in the company of fellow actors. It felt like the 1940s.

6) Grindhouse at the Vista Theater -- Sure, the seats were damned painful after three-plus hours. The fact remains, I had an extraordinary experience at a classic Hollywood movie house. ( And Eli Roth is seriously disturbed. Yikes.)

7) The Gospel Brunch at House of Blues -- This was the birthday party for Pam's pole teacher, Gabrielle. The music was hopping, the food was down-home ... just a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning! (I know you're reading this Mom. When you come out to visit, we're taking you!)

8) Pammy Dance, Burlesque, and Rock and Roll at The Scene -- I really need a bar buddy. Scratch that. I need a bar buddy who doesn't live in Boston. So it was a lonely evening, but the bands and burlesque acts kept me occupied between Pam's go-go sets. Great bands, fantastic burlesque!

9) Holiday Shake 2007: A Night of Debauchery -- Pam gave full coverage of the event (you can basically browse the December 2007 entries.) It seems strange saying this, but I've really come to appreciate the artistry involved in exotic dance. And 'exotic dance' casts a wide net, covering everything from belly dance to pole dance to burlesque.

I was in on the set-up and tear-down (Me man. Me have muscles.) and I was impressed by how we managed to turn a workout room into a performance space. The ladies put on a wonderful show (Gabrielle's choreography continues to amaze and impress me.) And of course, I never get tired of seeing Pam shake what momma gave her.

What really capped the evening off (aside from finding out Janna and her hubby Mark are beer aficionados -- Go Team Beer!) was seeing so many familiar faces in the audience: friends, former cast mates and collaborators. It makes L.A. a warmer place, to be supported by the folks you know, and to support them in return. Which brings me to ...

10) Ridin' High with Sierra Rein -- I love supporting my fellow artists when I can. Sierra's show was an absolute blast, and she is so talented. The evening flew past, and I hope I get to see her perform again before she heads off to Broadway!

So that's it for 2007! Let's see what 2008 has on tap!

27 December 2007

My Failed Experiment

So I opened a Revver account back in April. I thought "Wow! What a great opportunity to make a little moolah off of my crappy puppet videos!" As you can see from the cropped screen grab, I've made not enough moolah for a cup of coffee. That's depressing.

What's worse, MySpace blocks Revver links and imbeds. So I can't even put my crappy video on my MySpace page.

So I went ahead and uploaded Season 2 Episode 1 ("The Tempest") to YouTube last night. This morning, I have a comment from one of my YouTube subscribers: "Hooray! Disembodied Animal Head Theatre returns!" Keep in mind, I posted this video back in April of this year on Revver.

I'm sure there's a lesson here of some sort, something to do with building an online community. If I were Seth Godin, I'd probably have something pithy to say.

Instead, all I can say is ... Yes. Disembodied Animal Head Theatre has returned. And I'm sorry it ever left.

13 December 2007

Round Jerky

(This picture was taken a day before our big car problems started*. I've meant to blog about it, but it's been sitting around unblogged for a month or longer.)

On our big trip to L.A. some years back, Pamela and I were running on financial fumes. We were trying to keep to an insanely tight budget, whilst driving our U-Haul trailer-towing-Honda Civic with all our belongings and the two dogs through the Rocky Mountains.

This is the sort of thing we do.

Anywho, at one of our lowest ebbs on the trip, we discovered the joy of round beef jerky. Starting in Colorado, we found this stuff in every gas station where we stopped. Tasty, cheap, and round. Once we hit California, the supply of round jerky dried up, and this brown manna from heaven could not be found. We were very sad pandas. For a few weeks after we arrived in L.A., Pam and I would carry on conversations like this:

So what's for dinner?
How about pizza?
You know what I could go for?
Oh man! Those little round beef jerkies ...
Oh hell yeah.

So imagine how overjoyed we were when we found the elusive round jerky at our local gas station! Hurrah!

(*transmission problems with the Mitsubishi, bought a Saturn to drive while I fixed the other car, the Saturn broke down, blah blah blah. I got the Mitsubishi running again [knock on wood]. The Saturn is still dead, but I hope to have it running on Sunday. Yay! Two cars!)

10 December 2007


I'm working on some "blue" puppet material.

Above is a video snippet of the incredible Pinchbottom duo, Nasty Canasta and Jonny Porkpie. The performance is from the 2007 Burlesque Hall Of Fame Exotic World pageant. These guys are my heroes.

I love burlesque. I think it is a perfect theatrical artform. And I would like nothing better than to contribute in some small way.

(There may just be a "fundraiser" opportunity next year, combining Pam's burlesque, my puppetry, and the naughty music of a friend of ours. I'll provide more details if it comes to fruition.)
The Tolucan Times review is online!


07 December 2007

The LA Times review showed up online today. You can find it here. (You'll have to scroll down to locate it.)
Their fellow performers wrestle with the tricky requirements of acting through their own bunraku-style puppets, director Andrew Moore's device relating to the human monsters that inhabit Juana's dark universe. It's an intriguing approach, but one that calls for considerable refinement, as does Moore's realization of the play overall.

Not an unfair statement at all. Juana is a very ambitious production, and no doubt an extra week or two of rehearsal, as well as another grand or so in the budget would have yielded more polished results. The lesson I take from this is that I didn't go far enough with the minimalism. As a theatre maker, I believe in exploiting weaknesses, and turning them into assets. I could have gone much further.

I am happy that the Times reviewer got what we were trying to do with the puppets. That pleases me.

The Tolucan Times review hasn't yet shown up online, which is a damn shame. It's a great review!
Thoughtfully conceived by director Andrew Moore, the play employs puppets as metaphors for how others manipulated and controlled Juana's life.

Go Team Metaphor!

The Backstage West reviewer didn't seem to appreciate ... well, anything:
But director Andrew Moore has made so many unfortunate choices and has been saddled with so many unhelpful circumstances, the story of the betrayal of Juana ... over 30 years by her father, husband, and son feels exhausting.

I take that back. He raves about the very talented Phillip Kelly, as well he should.

So there you have it. Three reviews from three publications, reflecting three very different takes on our humble little production.

I remain very proud of my actors, designers and tech staff. I am deeply thankful to have had the opportunity to work with the wonderful Erin Scott, my stage manager, a complete professional in every sense of the word. She was a godsend. And I would be completely remiss if I didn't also publicly acknowledge Colleen Reilly, the true artistic producer of this play, whose tireless dedication kept me going. Write Act Rep is a great place to make theatre, no doubt about it.

So, that pretty much raps things up. The show closes on December 15th, and there will no doubt be a post-mortem at that time. For now, in the words of Dave Grohl, "done, I'm done, and I'm on to the next one."