26 October 2010

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Jennifer's Coffee Connection is closing up after 25 years of serving Studio City/North Hollywood.

I worked at Jennifer's some years back.  That's where I met Jimmy Zerda, actor, comedian, comic-strip writer.  At some point, I began drawing his strip and we had plans in the works to publish a book of these things.  Those plans ended in February of '06, when he took his life.

I haven't drawn Beanman since, but the closing of Jennifer's is a significant enough event to make me lift pen to paper again.  So above is the first new Beanman strip in nearly half a decade.

More info about Jennifer's may be found here.

Rest in peace, Jimmy.

14 October 2010

Folly is the cloak of knavery.
-- William Blake, "Proverbs of Hell"

I'm a big fan of William Blake.  When Lili VonSchtupp approached me with the opportunity to host "The Cultured Ecdysiast III: A Night at the Library" as a dead writer, I jumped out of my skin at the chance to bring William Blake to the stage.

Note:  I look nothing like William Blake.

But a borrowed costume from burlesque buddy and habitual historical reenactor Phillip "Wolfgang" Dye, and I cut a pretty convincing figure nonetheless.

Red Snapper helped me out for the musical portion of my act.  Photos by Markus Alias.

I did a bit where I dissected "It’s My Life" by Jonathan Bon Jovi:

This ain't a song for the brokenhearted
No silent prayer for the faith departed
And I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud

It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive
'Cause it's my life
... followed by a retelling in sonnet form as "‘Tis My Life" by Jonathan Bon Jovi, translated into English by William Blake (aka Mr. Snapper):

I shall not sing of loves long passed away
Of hearts long since entwined with cord untied
No prayers bequeathed for those who curse the day
A man from Galilee came forth and died
I shan’t be bowed, a simple human mere
No more to be one of a thronging mass
Let those who would confound me lend their ear
Voice made loud, a ringing trumpet blast
‘Tis my life, forever made anew
Before this corpus dies and turns to grey
My heart envelopes all, it courses true
As spoke the poet, “I did it my way”
√Član courses through ev’ry vein and bone
This one moment, this breath is mine alone
I was more prepared for this evening of hosting than ever before.  I wrote material; original jokes about the authors whose work was being embodied by the burlesque dancers that night.  I lived with the material for days, tweaking it, honing it, making it as good as possible for the big night.

On the night, I was super nervous.  Usually I wing it, but this time I knew exactly what I was going to do.  I had the luxury of gnawing over every syllable, wondering if any of it would play.

Play it did!  I had a blast, and the audience was with me.  Without a doubt, the best hosting I've ever done.