Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New blog post on Myspace

I'm keeping a separate little music blog over at my myspace music page. If'n you're interested, there's a new post on the blog that you can read by clicking here.

Love you, too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don't write about using drugs in yr blog

Turns out the good Canadian doctor used LSD 40 years ago and was denied admission to the US based on this. Apparently "drug users" and those accused of crimes of "moral turpitude" are not eligible to cross the United States borders.

I may have to take some posts off-line...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Giggity - Gig!

I know I promised a brief history of Plunge in my next installment, but I wanted to crow a bit. I booked a show for the summer! Huzzah!

I'll be performing at Cortland Rep in their production of Ten Little Indians opening July 4Th. I'll be playing the part of Philip Lombard. After I'd told a few people about getting the job, I mentioned to Katie how no one seems particularly surprised. "Except you!" she replied.

It's always funny, talking about booking a gig. There's an urge to celebrate, and, at the same time, I often feel slightly subdued. I'm reminded of the story of the football coach who frowned on his players doing celebratory dances in the end zone after a touchdown. "Act like you've been there before," was all he said.

So, I say, awesome! I've got a gig! Apparently I am, once again, a working actor. And yes, I do occasionally feel some surprise at that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You oughta know...

Two things. Firstly, I wrote a song for my friends at Stone Soup for their new show The Maguffin. They're doing that show in conjunction with another, called Stone, the next two weekends, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, at 8 pm. From their website:

Stone, a chilling fairy tale, explores the power and the risks of finding one's own place in the world as a young man is asked to deliver a seemingly ordinary stone to a mason's house. The puppet character elements in this production will be the first of such re-imagining for Stone, originally commissioned by England's Gay Sweatshop Theatre during the 1970’s.

featuring Seiko Carter, Caroline Reck, Ben Trawick-Smith and Chris Wild

The Maguffin by Adam Hunault and Stone Soup
This original farce speculates what happens when the gay marriage movement dies, creating a frenzied attempt by the Republican Party to preserve their mainstream identity. In order to perpetuate their struggle against the agenda of the liberal left, they attempt to revitalize the gay marriage platform. The Maguffin takes a decidedly modern look at how contemporary political issues are exploited by sound-bite politician's need for media control and re-election.

featuring Lauren Birriel, David Bryant, DR Hanson, Jacques Laurent, Marsha Martinez, Rachel Rhodes and Maria Schirmer

I got to sit in on some of the rehearsals, as well as a reading, and this is a terrific show. Please do try and come out and see these excellent performers in two great shows for the price of one (plus, you can here one of my songs as performed by someone else). You can buy tickets online here.

These guys asking me to write a song really meant a lot to me, and they sort of spurred a recent burst of creativity that has led to some really great breakthroughs. I'm very grateful to them, and I want to do my best to support. See this show.


Also, those crazy Nosedive kids are doing a show about the dark underbelly of Suburban complacency, the seething, poisoned heart of the American Dream, the violent, animalistic rage that lurks beneath every banal water-cooler conversation at the office. You know... a comedy. Come see their take on it... I saw it and it reminded me of Blue Velvet meets Kids in the Hall. It's kinda ridiculous. It's called Suburban Peepshow, and it's also playing the next two weekends. Check it out, mang. Buy tix here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The MySpace-ness Music Stuff and a Brief History of My Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy

So, if you're on MySpace (and I've "Friended" you there) then you probably know that I've got a new music page up (haven't seen it yet? go to and check it out). I had the idea while I was on tour, to just sort of start putting stuff out there, see if there was any response. So far, and admitedly it's only been like, 12 hours at the most, but the response has been kind of nice. The people that I wanted to hear the music are hearing it. Since I do a lot of things in a small way (theatre, poetry, saxophone) most people don't know that there's this entirely other side of me that actually has been around and doing stuff for a lot longer than the theatre or the poetry (well, almost as long as the poetry)...

When I was 3 I wanted to be a drummer. When I was 8, I wanted to be in KISS (I wanted to be Gene Simmons (a.k.a. "Dragon") because he had the coolest makeup and spit blood). When I was 13 (and already starting to become the effete geek I was for most of high school), during lunchhour I would hide from bullies in the library and listen to the Beatles or my sister's Pat Benetar tapes. I would dream of being a rockstar. By the time I was 14, I had Queen's "Night At the Opera" completely memorized and was starting to look to my friends to start bands.

Mark Lancaster, Tim Lang, and Tony Gomez all had instruments (bongos, a Casio Keyboard, a 5 stringed guitar) and I coralled them on weekends and we made music, including a cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's "Find the Cost of Freedom", and a song that involved slowing down the "Samba" setting on the keyboard until the rhythms were almost unrecognizable. We called ourselves "E%" and made our friends listen our Radio Shack Dictophone tape until the writing wore off. Nowadays, they'd call it low-fi, and if we had lived in Brooklyn we'd have had a three album deal on K Records and would be huge in Belgium, but since it was Tucson, we languished in obscurity.

When I was 15, a bunch of my friends who played band instruments and I (I had picked saxophone through some wilful perversity that made me not want to be predicatable and play drums) started a band for a talent show. We called ourselves 909D (after the rehearsal room we practiced in) and, when then talent show was over, the bass player, the drummer, and I tried to put together a rock band. We called our selves (after much debate, and mostly because of me) HarborcOat (yes, with the capitalized "O" and everything) after my favorite song off the R.E.M. album Reckoning, even though we sounded exactly nothing like R.E.M. We recorded three songs at a real recording studio (Westwood Studios in Tucson, for those who keep track of such things), and promptly broke up because I had to go to a swim meet.

I did a couple of bands after that, and then went to college where I played saxophone with a pop-punk band called Dennis Mitchell and the Wilsons. The band was good but I really wanted to sing and write the tunes. I met a guitarist named Chris Kaufmann, and we ended up forming a band called (after much debate and mostly because of me) Plunge. My record for choosing band names poorly continued unabated. But we were cool because we had two awesome drummers and were the loudest local band in Tucson - we were measured at 125 decibels on stage, with no soundsystem, just the instruments. I got vocal nodes from singing in that band (actually "pre-nodular formations" but whatever).

Then our bass player left and we couldn't find another one (always had a problem keeping bass players in that band, probably because Chris and I were always telling them what to play), so the band sort of fell apart. Then I moved to New York, started doing the singer-songwriter thing around town, had to quit because I had no friends and nobody to come to my shows, and got back into theater.

What's the point of all this non-sense (and congratulations if you've read this far through what is, I'm fairly certain, my most rambling, incoherent post yet)? Just to say that, while all this was going on, I was also: acting in shows, writing scads of poetry, and playing saxophone all over the place. And some of you know parts of this (my theatre friends know one part, my poet friends know another, friends who have known me since college know another), and none of the parts really seem to overlap, you know? But I love the music. That's, in some ways, the part that has the least compromise, the part that is the most self-directed.

So I'm starting to come back to it... maybe I'll do some open mics and see if there's any interest, maybe get a show. Baby steps. Just to see what happens. Suffice to say, if you've listened to the music (and, again, you can find it here at: let me know what you think. Do you like it? Hate it? Want to make babies to it? I'm interested. If I get a good response, I'll start posting other new songs. I've been writing a lot, and I've got a bunch of songs to share. Let me know!

Next time, more about the sordid history of PLUNGE!

The coolest thing EVER

Seriously. This shit makes me so happy I think I'm gonna burst.

Not for the faint of heart. So strange it might make you want to be normal again.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

one more thing I'm obsessing over

The great John Crowley, whose books Aegypt, Little, Big, and Love and Sleep have changed my life in many ways, is putting out the final book in the Aegypt series this month. So I've been re-reading the entire series with more attention to detail than usual. I tend to read books the way a third-grader drinks water after recess: in huge gulps, with lots of gasping breaths in between swallows, as if my life depended upon the next mouthful. I'm forcing myself to slow down a little, take my time and really feel the details and "stars, stones, and roses" that populate Crowley's books. If you haven't read this series, it is, amongst other things: an alternate history of the world (for the world has more than one history), a book about angels and gods, a story of John Dee and Giordano Bruno, a gnostic fable, an astrological allegory, and a story about a historian trying to write a book. It's about heartbreak, the webs we weave out of love, and a love note to the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of the best sets of books I've ever read, by one of America's greatest authors.

Enough hyperbole (all true, though. Every word). Go read and enjoy.

I'll post links to his books shortly. The browser I'm on won't let me do more than one window at a time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What I'm currently obsessing over

1. The Mountain Goats

While I was in Boston rehearsing for the life-disrupting upheaveal that was to be my first (and, as of this writing, so far my only tour), I was riding in a van with some co-workers. The radio was on, and I heard a song that stopped me dead. Those who know me well, know that I have, at the best of times, difficulty staying focused when there are good songs playing. I should say, rather, songs of any kind. Any music at all, actually. Muzak. Somebody whistling as they wander past. But really good music, and I am worthless. I tune out everything else, and listen only to the sound. So this song came on, a voice that sounded like it came from the depths of the past, lyrics that resonated perfectly with what I was going through. The song was "Going to Georgia" by a fellow named John Darnielle, who recorded under the name of The Mountain Goats, and the lyrics went like this:

The most remarkable thing about coming home to you is the feeling of being in motion again.
It's the most extraordinary thing in the world.
I have two big hands and a heart pumping blood and a
1967 Colt 45 with a busted saftey catch

The world shines
as I cross the Macon county line
Going to Georgia

The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway is that it's you
and that you are standing in the doorway
and you smile as you ease the gun from my hands
and I'm frozen with joy, right where I stand
The world throws it's light underneath your hair
40 miles from Atlanta this is
Going to Georgia.

The world shines
as I cross the Macon County line
Going to Georgia.

I wrote down as many words as I could remember in my notebook, driving through Boston on that rainy day in August, and waited through a good half-dozen indie-rock songs (something by blonde-redhead that didn't suck, a Billy Bragg tune that was actually Phranc), buy I couldn't care less because all I wanted to know was Who? Sang? That? Song? And finally the DJ came on and went through the list of the last 10 songs he played and I got incredibly worried because what if the title didn't match the words, and I couldn't figure out where in the play list it came? But of course the title exactly matched the word, and I went out and found every single recording of the Mountain Goats I could. He sounds like an appalachian meth-head crossed with Cormac McCarthy or something. I love the Mountain Goats, and over the last few (difficult, struggle-filled, brilliant, complicated, unhappy, aching-with-happiness) months, they have been one of a handful of things that have been my solace and my salve, calming me when I am too wound up with whatever crisis or disaster that seems to be on the horizon, getting me amped up and ready to face the next challenge. Thank you, Mountain Goats.

Truthfully, everything else has been a distant second in terms of obsession (that I'm going to talk about here, anyway), but there have been a few other things.

2. Writing songs about other people

When I found out that the majority of songs that The Mountain Goats wrote were not from his own life, but fictional, I freaked out a little. For one thing, I was actually very happy, because that meant that the man who wrote songs like "No Children" or "Family Happiness" was not (as I for a short while thought) a crazy mo-fo, but a gifted, imaginative lyricist and performer. It also meant that one didn't have to write about one's own life to write emotional, heartfelt, powerful lyrics. This was quite the revelation. Given that I had no desire to talk about my current situation until it was sorted out, both in my mind/heart and in the lives of those affected, it gave me something else to talk about. And it was much easier. The attempt to make something that spoke directly to my experience was difficult, and, in some ways, a little stifling. I mean, I've got enough experiences in the past year to make a whole mess of songs, but I don't know that I really am ready to do that, yet.

So when I was in Phoenix, ditching one of my closest friend's weddings to be with my father as he recovered from heart surgery, there was a book sale at the state fairgrounds. I went there early to get good deals, walking through residential Phoenix in the early February morning, thinking about things, feeling sorry for myself, pity for my father, etc. Finally made it to the state fairgrounds, and the book sale was in the animal exhibition hall, which, in spite of it's name, did not smell of animals at all. It was the size of an airplane hanger, and filled with tables full of books. Unfortunately, most of the good ones had been picked over the day before, but I manfully found a few books I wanted. Then, at the reference table, I found the treasures: a book of anecdotes, a dictionary of unusual and archaic words, and a book called The Book of A Thousand Things. Now, the anecdote book was simply interesting, paragraph long stories about various famous and somewhat-famous people, but the Book of a Thousand Things was even cooler. This book, written in 1943, purported to answer all sorts of questions about the world. And it was written exactly that way, in question and answer form. "What was the year without a summer?" "Does lightning make natural glass?" and crazier questions that I don't remember right now. So I've been reading these books and writing songs based on whatever I happen to find interesting in them. As it turns out, writing songs ostensibly NOT about yourself is actually a great way to talk about things that you're thinking about. I hope to have a whole album worth of material by the summer.... I'll keep you posted.

3. Boxing

Man, I don't know names, or titles, or any of that, but I am digging on watching guys beat the crap outta other guys. While I was on tour I watched, while sick as a dog, the movie Cinderella Man. The boxing sequences really got me going, and I realized I wanted to see more. It was exciting - none of this team player stuff, none of this running or dribbling or passing or excessive body armor and end zones and free throws and foul balls (most of which I really enjoy watching live, but which on TV just bores me to tears). No, this is just two guys circling a roped-in square, trying to knock each other down (but not kill - the aggression is carefully monitored. The idea is not to permanently damage each other - that wouldn't be cool at all, just cruel). Boxing is international, too, so that means when somebody says they're world champion, they're not just making it up ("World Series"? When a Japanese team is in the running with a Cuban team for the pennant, then we can call it a "World Series").

There's a couple of TV shows, too (Rome, Lost, The Tudors, BBC's Robin Hood), but you know, maybe some other time I'll obsess about that. So, back to work (yes, I'm temping again, after a brutal three months of beating my head against the audition wall looking for paid work as an actor). Enjoy.