Monday, November 30, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty-Three: "How low will you go to be the Next Big Thing?"

I really don't like the song The Christmas Shoes.

To me, there doesn't really seem to be any redeeming spiritual or Christmassy point to the song. It's constructed with the sole purpose of yanking at your heartstrings to make you very, very sad. (I've had this conversation with many people)

The other day, Kim and I were discussing how somewhere, there had to be some machine which mathematically calculated the sadness quotient of every possible story element in order to discover the saddest song that could possibly be created. The result was The Christmas Shoes. Then the scientists grew very, very wealthy.

(Now, this is only my opinion. If you love the song, that's fine. I promise we don't have to fight about it; I also promise I'm holding back in my personal criticism here, so if you really want to fight about it, I can give you something to cry about)

(Okay, not really, but I've been meaning to make an "I'll give you something to cry about" threat on this blog for a while now, and this just seemed like a good time. But seriously, if you are a fan of the song, that's great. We all have different tastes, and I'm cool with that)

Anyway, this evening, Tarvis and I decided that we, too, could use a little extra cash, so we brainstormed to try to come up with the next Christmas Shoes. What story elements would it take to write the second saddest song in existence? We thought about it for awhile, and I think we came up with a real winner!

Now, I originally planned to come on here tonight and type out the synopsis for all of you to read for yourselves, but then I realized somebody else would stumble upon it, steal it, and get very, very rich. So I'm not going to do that. (Besides, it's entirely possible that this particular brand of humor may be going just a TOUCH too far for some of our readers, and I want to keep WBW a safe place for all!) So, if you REALLY want to know about our brilliant idea, and if you're ready to be very, very sad, you can ask me in person. I'll share it with you. We need a nice broad test audience anyway.

I can give you just a hint, though:

The Christmas Pony.

Eh? Are you sad yet??

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty-Two: November Goal of the Month

Very tired. Fell asleep at three last night and couldn't settle down to take a nap after the Texans, well, were the Texans. Again. So, a bit of a filler post tonight.

You all remember the awesome Cal Clutterbuck goal I posted a while back? This one's better and, assuming there will be nothing that eclipses its awesomeness in any of tonight or tomorrow's games, I'm going to go ahead and proclaim this the official WBW Goal of the Month.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty-One: The Tree Is Up

Tonight, the Christmas tree is up. This was the first time Robbie helped us decorate, and he really seemed to enjoy it. His favorite ornaments to hang were the colored glass balls because they had the hooks that he could get onto the tree limbs fairly easily. He's really getting into all of the holiday stuff this year, which I'm excited about.

This is Robbie's third Christmas. The first year, he really wasn't terribly mobile, so we were able to set him down underneath the tree, and he'd stare up at it from his back with wide eyes. Last year, he was running around and getting a kick out of playing with wrapping paper for the first time. This year, he's a part of it all. He gets excited when he sees Christmas lights while we're in the car. He wants to help decorate the tree. He loves listening and dancing to the music. He's old enough to hear the stories and understand them. He can learn songs and repeat them now. He has a very keen understanding of the word "present" for the first time in his life. He's also learning the concepts of sharing and turn-taking, so those will come in handy when it's time to hand out presents for everybody on the big day. In a lot of ways, this is starting to feel like Robbie's first true Christmas. I'm so pleased and excited to be sharing it with him.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twenty: High Culture

Tonight, Kim and I went to the Houston Ballet to see The Nutcracker. Kim had been wanting to go for several years (basically since we moved to Houston) so for her birthday this year I went ahead and bought the tickets. Plus, since my folks knew they were going to be in town from Wednesday till Sunday this week, they asked if we might want to get away tonight and borrow their hotel room while they stayed home with the Robbie-meister. And bada-bing, we had a real, honest-to-goodness, romantic date on the schedule.

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Anyway, the ballet was very good. The artistry of every aspect was simply top-notch. As I usually do when I go to see, well, anything (ballet, theatre, baseball, hockey), I bought balcony tickets. (Cheapest, and you can see EVERYTHING!) What I didn't realize at the time, however, was exactly how STEEP the Wortham Center is! I think the back wall of the balcony was probably about fourteen feet from the lip of the stage. That's an exaggeration, but walking into the theater for the first time, it didn't feel like one. It took about half an hour to keep from getting dizzy when I looked down at the stage, but eventually Kim and I both managed to adjust and enjoy the show.

My only quibble, and I've seen the Nutcracker twice and this is how it's been staged both time, so I dunno that it's HB's fault, and I understand part of it is the nature of the medium, but every featured couple in the second got THREE separate breaks for applause. We applauded after each piece, which was appropriate, I thought. Then, the last big piece in the second act serves as a sort of "curtain call," as each pair comes out once more, one at a time, and dances a little extra, so we applaud again. But then, forty seconds later, the show is ACTUALLY over, and then we have the real curtain cal, where everybody gets yet another individual bow. Which, of course, takes forever. It was actually kind of comical tonight, because the audience was getting a little tired of applauding by the time the prima ballerina was ready to take her bow, so things kind of died down until the conductor came on stage, when everybody got loud again.

Then, there was the second full company bow of the night, and the crowd went wild. Then, the cast retreated upstage, and the applause died down a bit, but they bowed again, so the applause briefly picked up somewhat, then died down significantly. Then, the cast rushed downstage and took a full company bow again, this time with very little pickup from the confused audience. They retreated upstage once more, and they started to bow AGAIN when the screen came down in front of them.

The falling of the screen received the loudest applause of the night.

Also funny: the dancers did this incredibly complex and gorgeous ballet in excellent sync, but in the five full-company bows they took, not ONCE could they managed to bow all together. And they got worse as they went on. By the final bow, some of them didn't even bother to do it. Good thing that screen came down when it did.

Of course, this is a minor quibble. On the whole, the show was awesome and fun, and I never found myself wondering how much time had passed, or what time it was. And, while I'm probably making the ensemble sound a bit self-important here, I also want to point out that they all applauded enthusiastically for the orchestra, so I thought that was cool.

Tomorrow, maybe I'll tell you all about my hotel experience earlier this evening, which reminded me a little of one particular scene from an episode from the first season of Heroes.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Nineteen: Light Up the Night Sky

Happy Thanksgiving (or Black Friday, depending on when you're reading this)!

Ours was really great. (That right there is an Awesome Writer Sentence, by the way) I'm currently on the lappy in my bedroom (turns out, you can get public access Wi-Fi in my apartment, but only from my closet floor) so I won't be online long, sine this is an unsecured connection and there are Bad People out there. Just enough time to update the blog and do some quick research for my next play.

Went with the whole family to see the Thanksgiving fireworks/ Christmas light lighting/ whatever else at the Galleria tonight. We parked a decent distance away, and the night was beautiful, so we got a nice walk in. Robbie rode happily in his stroller, clutching with both hands the band new John Deere dump truck his Nanny and Grandaddy gave him (he let that thing out of his sight twice all day, and "nap time" was not part of the twice). When the fireworks started to blow, he sat in his stroller and watched, eyes wide, but he confided to Kim that it was "a little bit scary." So I picked him up, and he watched the rest of the show with his head leaning on my shoulder and one hand clutching the bucket of his dump truck. For awhile, he tried to name all of the colors as they came up (Purple! And red! And purple! Yellow! Blue! Purple!), but this pursuit was eventually abandoned. When it was over, he cheerfully said "Yaaaay" with everyone else, then turned to me and said, "I want to go home." He had a good time, but it was already past bed time and he was one tired boy.

One surprising moment for me came during the show's grand finale. From where we were standing, it was difficult to hear the music over the noise of the explosions for the most part, but as the show reached its climax I very distinctly heard the sound of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus in the air. That piece has been one of my favorite few minutes of music since we sang it for the first time in high school. It's such a moving, jubilant exclamation of celebration, and while I know it was only chosen because it's a famous Christmas song, and we were having Christmas fireworks, there was something almost profoundly moving, to me, in seeing the skies burst in celebration of the Lord. I know, I know, the whole shebang is the ultimate in holiday cheese, but when I saw the heavens erupt and heard the voices proclaiming "For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, hallelujah!" and "And He shall reign forever and ever!" I couldn't help but stand in awe of all that Christmas really, truly is.

It calls to my mind Psalm 19:1: "The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Awesome.

And while I'm sure worship was the furthest thing from the minds of those putting the evening together, or even of 99% of the people gathered in the street tonight, still I trembled just a bit at the goodness of God tonight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Eighteen: Guest Blog #4: Christa

I'm so stoked to have my family in town! I'm also stoked that my sister is going to guest blog for me tonight!!!

For those of you who don't know my sister, you should, because she's awesome. She's probably the reason I'm so cool.

As usual, the views and opinions expressed below do not necessarily...yada yada yada. Enjoy!

Okay, so first of all, I'm really not all that cool. I teach band, after all, and although band geeks rock, we all know that we aren't cool. Ever.

This whole blogging thing is pretty stressful. I don't see how you people do it! I've been starting and restarting this thing like 5 times already, and I have other things to do, but I can't find a thought and stay with it. Stupid ADD. Anyway, I guess I am writing this in tribute to all of you who can come up with a topic, actually write about it for more than two sentences without getting bored, and post blogs day after day without losing inspiration. You are all my heroes. Way to be.

And Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Seventeen: Thankscleaning, part 3

Okay, tonight I gotta clear out space for the fold-out bed to fold out, unload the dishwasher, and vacuum if I can manage to do so without waking Robbie up. And I should be able to do that, because he sleeps through our upstairs neighbors, so it'll have to take more than a ton of noise to wake that boy up. If/when we move back to the Midwest, I don't know if the poor kid's going to be able to sleep without the constant sounds of cars, sirens, people walking just outside the window and talking loudly, cats fighting, and all the other ambient chaos just outside his window.

Very excited to have family over tomorrow. You know, I still haven't gotten over that cough I wrote about twenty-two days ago? I think I was almost there, and then a wave of something else hit me over the weekend, and now I'm actually a good bit more miserable than I have been for awhile. That'll put a slight damper on Thanksgiving/ Christa Day (my sister's birthday falls on Thursday this year), but it'd take a lot to ruin my holiday spirit.

As you'll discover, blog, over the next month-plus, I'm very into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everything in between. It is certainly my favorite time of year, and that INCLUDES the playoffs.

Okay, that's enough for tonight. Oh, the Bible study seemed to go very well this morning, gauging by the folks who came up and talked to me afterward. Including some who don't usually comment after my Bible study sessions. Of course, I'd imagine the people who hate it when I teach probably just don't bother to come up and say anything at all, and the people who didn't comment far outweighed the people who did, so perhaps it's best not to read too much into things one way or the other.

That cat outside needs to move away.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Sixteen: Holiday Housekeeping, Part 2

I'm behind. I wanted to get everything vacuumed tonite. Of course, I also have to pull together a Bible study for tomorrow. Found out some really cool/interesting stuff about the Immanuel prophecy...not sure it makes for good Tuesday morning material, though.

Well, this is good. I should be nice and sleepy while talking tomorrow.

The great thing about teaching the Bible is, it's the Bible. If you can't think of anything to extrapolate on, you can just read it and there's a good chance it'll have even more value without your helping it.

All right, off to work!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Fifteen: Winter cleaning, part I

Ah, cleaning the house for Thanksgiving company. Always a thrill. Falling this year on questionable health and fatigue, no less.

Accomplished today: laundry folded, newspapers trashed, comic books consolidated, and the dreaded computer desk cleaned, revealing a veritable treasure chest of goodies!

1) $15 gift card from Dessert Gallery! That's reward enough for this undertaking! But there's more!

2)Four brand new light bulbs! We will be able to see this Thanksgiving!

3) Two binder clips! I can't tell you how often I'm in need of binder clips! (Sure I can; pretty much any time I have a new script I need to keep in one piece)

4) A Sharpie! A black one! So's I can actually WRITE on CD's I burn now and know what they are two months later!

5) Stamps! Of the 37, 39, and 2 cent variety! Enough 2 centers to make up the insufficiency of the others. Also, a small page of generic "first class" stamps that require no help at all! (I believe those are left over from our wedding)

6) Sentimental finds: a hand-written note from my mother-in-law the day after Robbie was born and a cross-stitched "WL+KS" in a heart that Kim gave me six years ago.

7) Like, 400 index cards! Every year, I just keep buying more index cards because I haven't been able to find the ones I bought before. I should be good for anther couple of years now!

8) FOUR CD's of pictures!

9) Four partial plastic combs. Which will come in handy when I periodically lose my one complete black plastic comb.

10) And finally, perhaps the most useful thing I found after half an hour of digging through papers, CD's, books, etc....SHELF SPACE!!!

Tomorrow's goals: dishes and living room floor. Bring it, the holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Fourteen: Knock knock

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Wendy who?

Wendy wind blows de cradle will rock.

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Anita who?

Anita borrow a pencil.

One I like to call the Bachelor Party knock-knock:

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Renato who?

Renato gas last night.

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Ears who?

Ears one more knock-knock joke for you.

Knock knock.

Who's there?


Ya who?

Ride 'em cowboy!!!

All jokes courtesy, which urges you, "Don't knock-knock 'em till you tried 'em!"

Which isn't quite correct, grammatically, but eh. It's teh Internets.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Thirteen: It's No Accident We're Here Tonight...

"The world begins with newborn skin,
We are right now.
You're a needle girl in a haystack world,
We are right now.
You breathe it in, the highs and lows,
We call it living.
In this needle and haystack life,
I've found miracles there in your eyes.
It's no accident we're here tonight;
We are once in a lifetime."

Tonight was the Switchfoot concert Dave took Tarvis and I to for our early Christmas gift. Great gift idea, by the way. Also my first rock show since that Beaumont festival Dave and I went 2005. Also also, the last time I'd seen Switchfoot live, they were the opening band for Five Iron Frenzy.

Times have changed a bit, aye?

The show was great. As advertised, the band played their entire new album, the fantastic Hello Hurricane, from start to finish to open their concert. Since the record came out last Tuesday, it was amazing how many fans already knew most/all of the words. After Hurricane was finished, they played what was essentially a second set of songs from just about all of their older albums. (Nothing from The Legend of Chin or New Way to be Human tonight, though, sadly) All in all, they were on the stage for a little over a full two hours.

Set list was as follows (as best as I can remember it):

The Hello Hurricane set:
Needle and Haystack Life
Mess of Me
Your Love is a Song
The Sound (it's hard to comprehend exactly how much this song rocks when played live)
Enough to Let Me Go
Free (majorly souped-up ending, adding bass drum and auxiliary percussion to practically blow the roof off the place; also, mixed in a touch of Happy Is a Yuppie Word in the intro, which was cool)
Hello Hurricane (This is just an awesome/beautiful song, and fun/easy to sing along with)
Bullet Soul
Sing It Out (Surprisingly powerful when played live)
Red Eyes/Needle and Haystack Life reprise (Fantastic ending to this portion of the set)

"Second" set
Oh! Gravity
Stars/The Shadow Proves the Sunshine (Highlight of the night: A girl in the audience has a sign asking the band to let her play drums with them on "Stars," so Jon brings her up on stage and she plays the last chorus and totally nails it. Awesome)
Meant to Live
*faux ending, followed by the encore:*
This Is Your Life
Learning to Breathe
Daisy (SO PSYCHED they played this song. They said they hadn't played it for years, but it's one of my favorites. Supposedly, one of Jon's favorites, too)(
Dare You to Move

I really love this band. They're probably my favorite active group, which is funny because I only really grew to appreciate their newer stuff in the past three years or so, but I really dig their music, their lyrics, and their philosophy. Tonight, though, I got to watch them interact with fans, and it was a blast. They were so personable and down-to-earth with the masses. They were quite charming and affable and just all-around likeable. It's always refreshing to see a band that doesn't take themselves too seriously while totally taking their music and their message VERY seriously.

I'm glad I got the chance to see these guys live. They really put on a high-quality stage show. I kind of wished they'd have ended with a bigger bang than Dare You To Move, but that really is a great song, and it definitely tied up the main themes from the evening better than any of their more rock-centric stuff. My neck and shoulders (and probably upper back as well) will all be slightly sore tomorrow, too. That's a good thing. That's a sign that you probably enjoyed the rock show, whether it was all rock or not ;-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Twelve: Retrospective: Chapter the Last

All right, so it seems I oughta comment on the opening of my new show, Do You Hear What I Hear?, and since my wife and son are both sleeping quite soundly, and it's only 9:30, and since tomorrow is Switchfoot night, it seems that tonight will be the night to do it.

Also, the more I think on the topic, the more I'm thinking it's also a pretty decent cap to my occasionally-abandoned theatrical retrospective. Starting with the original question of, "How did I get where I am today?" I realized pretty much the only step in the process was the question of how did I get from actor/carpenter to writer/director.

So here we go.

I realized that, over the span of time that this blog has covered, we have opened two of my original scripts at our children's theater (the first one was The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers) and premiered another new script with our touring group (Teammates). That's incredible. I've received such a groundswell of support from the community of artists around me over the past two seasons. It's really stinking hard, as a new playwright, to get theaters to look at your stuff. And it's darn near impossible to become a better writer if you don't get an opportunity to have your stuff produced. Every workshop reading, every rehearsal process, every realized production over the past few years has been such a valuable learning experience for me. I feel like I can see clear traces of growth in my storytelling, my script structure, my characters, and my formatting through these experiences. I've been equipped with opportunities to succeed, and in most cases the opportunities have proved mutually beneficial for me and those who've reached out and given me the chances I've got.

When I got here, I had an idea that I thought would make a funny kids play. AN idea. I had no designs to take it past that idea, either. I was the shop intern in the 2005-06 season, and as such I didn't have a lot of interaction with the majority of the creative collective within the company. I was also in a grand total of one shows my intern year, so the majority of my year was spent doing good, hard, physical scenic construction work (and props design after our props designer left mid-season; boy, that was a rough/frustrating couple of months). The work was good, and I was glad for it, even if our shop was a large, hollow, metal building with no circulation nor air conditioner. (The thermometer in our furniture storage area occasionally read as high as 120 degrees) Nevertheless, it's pretty obvious that what was left of my innate need to create--I say "what was left" because I was still pretty burned out at this point after my senior year--didn't really have an outlet while I was in the shop, so I took to working on my first Hero Squad script late at nights that first fall.

It looked a LOT different than it does today. The cast of characters was different (no Slapshot, no Gary Gizmo, replaced with super hero characters named The Mole and--ironically--Robbie), characters were vastly different (GKJB was basically a victim of circumstance and not an arrogant, Captain Amazing-esq do-gooder), and there wasn't a terribly strong through-line, morally speaking, but it was a good start and a fun script, especially for my first ever writing project. When it was finished, I sent the script to a colleague of mine who was working for Merry-Go-Round Children's Theatre in upstate New York. He responded far more enthusiastically than I thought he should have, and I decided to try to take this puppy seriously and see if I couldn't get it produced somewhere.

I worked at Princess Snatchers and rewrote it probably twice over the next couple of years, and there were lots of frustrations in the early going. I got turned down a lot, but I also got some timely encouragements that kept me plugging away at it. I also wrote other Hero Squad plays, several of which have since been scrapped and a couple of which I still mean to revisit in the near future. Honestly, it started to look more like I was a cartoon series writer than a playwright.

Eventually, I started to come up with other stories. And I started to imagine new ways to tell certain old stories. Eventually, I decided I could, in fact, write plays that deserved to be produced. Soon, I was constantly working out several stories at a time in my mind. Some of those have since become scripts, some are still rolling around in there, and some I've scrapped. The more I've written, however, the better my judgment has been. Rather than have to read, workshop, and majorly overhaul something before I realize it's not going to work, I can usually tell while I'm writing what I'm going to need to rework. My first drafts are a lot closer to the final copy these days. That's not to say that I don't still have to go back and tweak, because anybody who's been to any of my workshop readings know that I do. But I'm tweaking now, not starting from scratch.

I never wanted to be a playwright until I realized I had something that could be good enough to be a dang good play. Often in my life, I've been willing to settle for things to be less than their best. (This is because less than MY best was usually more than enough to get me through high school and even most of college fairly comfortably) But for some reason, I cared about these stories. I wanted them to be told, but only if they could be told well. I wanted children to see them. I wanted entire classes of kids to laugh and cheer and get so involved and excited by the stories that they wanted to take them home and keep them going. I want kids to make their own Hero Squad adventures on the playground. I want children to enact their own Christmas stories using simple hats and props to play all the characters for their families. I want young minds to be so in awe of the quirky sense of wonder in literary classics that they want to read the originals themselves, to compare and contrast and think about the differences, to immerse themselves in the language.

This, I think, is what rescued me from theatre burnout. I'd been good but not great at anything my entire career, from Wellington Community Theater to MTYP to WHS to Horsefeathers to OBU to Huron. I enjoyed it all, but after awhile I just did it because it was what I did. I never felt like I was doing anything other than a play, and I never felt like I was really motivated (either by myself or any outside forces) to grow. But writing was different. I knew what I wanted with each script. I knew what I wanted for each audience. And I wanted it more for them than for myself.

My freshman year at OBU, I said to a friend of mine, "You know, I really don't think you can do theatre and do it all for yourself. It's too rough, it wouldn't be worth it. It'll just eat you alive." Now, I realize that's not entirely accurate; I know some folks who act for a living and have absolutely no regard whatsoever for anyone other than themselves, but it never worked for me. It eventually wore thin. I couldn't just do it for my sake, and I couldn't just make art for art's sake. I'm not that kinda guy. But when I realized the potential that lay in Hero Squad, or in Girl Who Wore Golden Clothes, or in Why the Bells Chimed, I had a reason for the rhyme. At last, at long last, God had given me a point, a purpose, and everything that had come before started to make sense.

So, fast-forward to Tuesday night. Another new play. (Sort of. We toured a shorter version of it last year) One I wrote, but another, highly talented director oversaw. Featuring three of the finest young actors in our company. Children and parents laughing, together. Enjoying the telling of a very familiar old story. Sharing something, in an age where parents feel like they're losing their kids to video games and cell phones before they even turn ten years old. And, miracle of miracles, what they're sharing (in this particular script, anyway) is the wonder in the profound simplicity of the gospel.

Those words came from my fingertips. They have been brought to life by some very dear friends. And they are used and blessed by almighty God.

What comes next in my artistic/writing career? Couldn't tell you. I have some guesses and some goals, but really, who knows?

Today, however, November 19th, 2009, on day three-hundred twelve of this blogging project, this is where I am. And that is where I've come from.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Eleven: More filler, but rockin-er

In case anybody needs some psyching-up for the Switchfoot concert on Friday (which, thanks to an extremely generous early-Christmas gesture from Dave, I'm GOING TO!), I've spent a little time putting together this youtube playlist of live Switchfoot tracks. Tried to get a nice blend of old with new while leaving out anything from A Walk To Remember, because while I like those songs, they seem to get a little tiny bit of over-exposure.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Ten: Filler

Still need to take some more time to process the events of the evening. Well, event, really. Singular. The preview performance of Do You Hear What I Hear. Went very, very well, and I'd like to write a nice, well thought-out post in response. But tonight my head hurts from the coughing (yes, it's still going on, and yes, I'm now considering going to a doctor if it doesn't go away by the weekend.

Anywho, this song came up twice today, once on my iPod shuffle, and just now on my home computer's iTunes shuffle, so apparently I'm meant to share it.

And if that's not your style, everybody loves Swedish goal celebrations gone horribly awry:

He's okay, folks. He's okay!

Finally, one last farewell nod to the awesome Perfect Blue Buildings blog, because let's face it, without PBB, there's no WBW. Plain and simple.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Nine: Top Ten Reasons to Come See Do You Hear What I Hear?

So back in the day, I used to do mass email Top 10's for just about every show I was in. And though I'm not in Do You Hear, I'm not really "in" many shows these days, so since I wrote it, I think that counts.

Unfortunately, it means that my stock #10, "I do all my own stunts!", is no longer applicable.

Anywho, here are the top ten reasons you should come see Do You Hear What I Hear?

10. Because you need a little Christmas to hold you over 'till Thanksgiving.

9. It's finally coldish outside! This may be your one week to see a Christmas play while it's actually coldish outside!

8. Versus only shows hockey games on Monday and Tuesday nights, and you need something classy the rest of the week.

7. Most of the shows are in the morning, and it's better than being at work!

6. It's less expensive than an evening ticket to 2012 or Twilight: New Moon.

5. It's nothing like either 2012 or Twilight: New Moon.

4. Because you want to show support for your favorite Wannabe Wordslinger.

3. This right here.

2. Tin whistle solo!

And the #1 reason to come see Do You Hear What I Hear? is...

1. Ta-Daa the Acting Bug will be there.

I think. Maybe.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Eight: Never Say Never

Just a year ago, I'd have never dreamed this could be possible:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Seven: Shuffle Blog #2

Ahhh! It's 1:30 and I haven't posted anything!

Shuffle Blog!

Here we go!

SONG #1 Hero's Agony, from Hero! The Rock Opera
Oh, wow. That's such a somber way to start, I actually laughed a little when it came on. For those who aren't familiar, Hero! is a rock opera about Jesus living in contemporary times. It's actually a good take on what is normally a trite concept, and while the book needs rewriting and they had singers and not actors, the music is really fantastic and moving.

This particular scene is Hero!'s take on the Garden of Gethsemane. You know, where Jesus begged and pleaded with God that, if there were any other way that God's will could be done, that He could be spared being crucified. (For me) Yet, "Not as I will, but as You will," and that was His conclusion.

That is so freaking mind-blowing. Even knowing He was coming out on the end of this thing okay (scripture says He endured the cross "for the joy set before Him"), He was scared. Terrified. I think we all have this image of the willing sacrifice, (which, don't get me wrong, He totally was) and sometimes we lose the fact that He. Did. NOT. Want to go through with it. And then did.

The Christmas show I mentioned the other day that we're about to open that I wrote looks primarily at the miracle of God coming to Earth in human form, about His becoming Immanuel (literally, "God WITH US"). And this time of year, that thought is more than enough to blow my mind when I meditate on it. But that's still only part of it. He wasn't just WITH us, He also stood in our place. That we may never have to kneel in the Garden of Gethsemane and pray so hard that we sweat blood that we may be spared four days of torture and the terrors of death and hell.

Bah! Have to move on to next song.

#2. Colored People by dcTalk mixed with Entertaining Angels by Newsboys

Did anybody buy the Smashups album a couple (more accurately: five or seven) years ago? The concept was pretty much, "Let's take the musical track from THIS song and overlay it with the vocal track from THAT song. That will sound awesome, right??" I have to say I'm really amazed at how well they pulled it off, at least from a musical standpoint. Obviously, they have to tweak a little hear and there to make them fit exactly, but the entire project (save for the tragically-decimated Jesus Freak) is really a marvel of mixing and remastering.

I mean seriously. Who listens to Entertaining Angels and thinks "You know what would sound awesome? If this had a dcTalk song in it somewhere"?

And further, why can't I type "angels" tonight without first typing "angles"?

Bah. 1:30...

#3 Get Your Riot Gear by Five Iron Frenzy

This was during Five Iron's bitter stage. It's a swing song about riot police in Denver shooting tear gas grenades and using pepper spray on the throng of Broncos fans celebrating their Super Bowl victory over Brett Favre's Packers. Back when Brett Favre was in his prime. Which isn't to say he's not still really shockingly good, because his Vikings are a force to be reckoned with this year, despite his multiple retirements over the past few years.

I don't wanna say I feel bad for Brett Favre, because I don't really. He had a pretty great legacy, though, up until he really started screwing it up a few years ago with this retired, not retired, probably retired, tell you in a month, definitely retired, hey wait, why don't you want me anymore? thing. He actually used to be one of my favorite NFL players. Now, while it's not like he's exactly a villain, he's just not a guy I'd really necessarily want my kids to look up to. I mean, there are far worse role models in pro sports, ESPECIALLY pro football, but still.

Commitment, I guess. That's what it comes down to. Commitment. And being a responsible teammate. Commitment, being a responsible teammate, and humility. Commitment, humility, responsibility, and...wait, why am I suddenly expecting the Spanish Inquisition?

#4 Holy Monkey by the BNB All-Stars

All right, so this band was actually really bad and not THAT clever, but when I was in high school I found them hilarious. Of course, I loved any Christian ska or swing band I heard. I wanted to have my own ska band. I actually still want that. Very much. But you know, not all dreams come true, and that's looking like one that I will probably not ever actually realize. Which, you know, I don't really even know what I'd do with a ska band in this season of my life. I'm already working full-time plus some and not spending enough time with my family as it is. Plus, ska bands are expensive. I'd have to buy a real drum set, unless I'm the singer and not the drummer, in which case I'd still have to buy an expensive mixer board. Ska bands also eat a lot and leave a huge mess wherever they go, and my wife wouldn't appreciate that. Plus, they're all needy, like you have to feed them and walk them and give them individual love and attention, and I can only spread myself so thin before things start getting hairy.

So no, no ska band right now. That's easy to say when there are no prospects, of course. We'll see what happens if I get offered a position in a ska band at some point tomorrow...

#5 The Song of the Cebu by Larry the Cucumber

I actually saw a cebu at the zoo once. It really and truly is kinda like a cow.

I was actually thinking about children's/petting zoos earlier today. I'm afraid to take Robbie in one, because he might be trampled by otherwise docile quadrupeds. You show a flash of a quarter, or you even LOOK at the food dispenser at the wrong way, and holy Moses, it's Black Sheep. I actually went to a zoo (on a positively frigid day, but that's another story) where a smallish friend of mine was nearly knocked down when head-butted by a goat THAT SHE'D JUST FED! If she had gone down, I don't really know if she'd be with us here today. Seriously! Children's zoo? Animals bite, folks! This is how you develop complexes in small children! I take Robbie to the petting zoo and I have a feeling he'll be terrified of anything overtly woolly well into his adult life.

#6. 1985 by Roper

I don't remember much about 1985. I was three. Or two, depending on what time of year it is.

My first conscious memory is of falling off the top bleacher and landing on my head. Everything before that is kinda fuzzy...

According to wikipedia, 1985 started on a Tuesday. The UN declared it to be the International Youth Year. 1,631 people died in civil aviation accidents. British Telecom announced they were going to start phasing out red phone booths. "We Are the World" was recorded. Mike Tyson made his professional debut. Mikhail Gorbechav became de facto leader of the U.S.S.R. (Remember those guys?)

Okay, next song.

#7 Climbing Over Rocky Mountain from Pirates of Penzance

All right, I cheated. I skipped another couple of songs because I wanted to end on a up note, and I'm too sleepy to do more than one song. And what's happier than Pirates of Penzance? I'm so serious. I would jump at virtually any opportunity to do this show again. In the year 2003, I did this show at Huron Playhouse to close out the summer and then immediately again as the first show of my college season. I could probably have done another five productions of it and been perfectly happy. It is fluff of the highest level. I would love to do it at the Players, but that obviously ain't happening.

Heck, I'd love to do the entire show with WBW readers.

YES! That's just about the best idea I've EVER had!

We need to plan a week-long WBW convention here in Houston. We'll rent out a (very small) conference center, spend the mornings hanging out and playing Guitar Hero, spend the afternoons rehearsing Pirates of Penzance, and spend the evenings just hanging out. Possibly in the woods. Or on the beach. Depending on where we can get an affordable conference center.

Oh, and I know you think this will be optional, but it won't. It will happen. And you will be there.

Start thinking of your audition songs, kiddos.

Okay, DEFINITELY time for bed. The next song that popped up was Dentist! from Little Shop of Horrors.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Six: Hello, Hello Hurricane

I finally (as if it's been an intolerable wait since Tuesday) got my hands on Switchfoot's newest CD, Hello Hurricane. (Think of it as a slightly peppier cousin to Nothing is Sound) I gave up on finding it at Wal Mart, Borders, and Barnes and Noble after a particularly frustrating lunch break on Tuesday/evening on Wednesday and I went to the Lifeway Christian book store that's by my church. I haven't actually bought a Christian CD from a Christian music store in a long time. I don't buy a lot of music for myself anymore, sadly, and what I do buy I generally get on-line. In fact, I think the last time I set food in Lifeway was actually to get Nothing is Sound. That was my first year in Houston.


Anyway, very glad I went to Lifeway today. Hello Hurricane was there, and it was on sale for $11 (rather than the $14 that was on the tag). I'm all for saving a few bucks! However, as I was on my way to the checkout stand, I overheard the super-duper-friendly cashier tell the folks ahead of me that they were selling Casting Crowns' Christmas CD, Peace on Earth, for five bucks through November 28th or something like that.

Now, I love Christmas music. And while I'm not a gigantic Casting Crowns fan, I've also never heard much by them that I haven't liked. Furthermore, I do like to try to add one new Christmas album per year, that we may have an ever-expanding collection for the holidays. So I thought, "Wow, even if I only like half the songs on this CD, that's still a pretty good price!!"

So, bottom line, as I'm forced to be patient a few extra days by the champions of corporate America, I end up getting Hello Hurricane AND a cool new Christmas album (and a couple of packets of "Harvest Seeds"--it's like candy corn, only Christian!) for under twenty bucks.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Five: "It's a good thing we've got the Rotunda, cuz she really drives us bats!"

Some days (such as today) can be very good work days, but one thing can happen with a few minutes left that really just makes you mad, and it ruins your entire drive home and seems to put a damper on the day as a whole, whereas if the crappy thing had happened around lunch time, you'd totally have gotten over it.

So, rather than focus on the "Hulk smash!" moment from the end of the day, I choose to focus on the exciting information I learned this morning:

Theoretically, it IS possible to hang something around the interior wall of our in-the-round children's theater! Also within the realm of possibilities: ramps over the staircases!

I don't know if I'll ever utilize either piece of knowledge, but the possibilities are, at the very least, intriguing!

By the way, our children's theater is opening a Christmas show that I wrote, Do You Hear What I Hear?, next week. Official opening is Wednesday morning, but there's a public preview performance (or PPP) on Tuesday night, too. I haven't really had a lot to do with this production (aside from writing it, of course), so it's always exciting for me to see my stuff brought to live through others' artistic visions. Consider yourselves invited!

(Well, you know. Invited to pay money to come see the show at some point between Tuesday and Christmas. Which is kinda a sucky invitation--Hey, come pay to see us!--but there it is)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Four: ...or not

So, pretty much everything awesome I posted yesterday? Just kidding. On first restart, compy went back to having the exact same trouble it had before I took it in over a month ago.

Hopefully I can get my money back, but I'm skeptical.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Three: Compy's Back!!

Right, so for those of you don't remember, I've been having computer issues with my home computer for awhile. I'm not the most tech-savvy guy in the state of Texas, so generally when things go wrong on my computer I'm instantly out of my league.

To give you a brief rundown of everything in the life of my computer, I've collected a few video clips to give you the gist of the happenings in the death, life, and re-death of my compy:

At first, it was kinda like this. Suddenly, one day, the thing randomly and completely shut down on me. (Okay, it wasn't EXACTLY like that, but the effect was similar) So the compy sat idle for quite awhile. Then, randomly, a few months later, I decide to start it up again, and boom! It works! However, I would run a virus check, and good old Dr. Norton told me, "Hey, your compy has a Trojan Horse, but either I can't get rid of it, or I won't." Not long after, compy was down for the count again.

Then there were some other details that I don't have funny clips for, so we won't talk about them, and they culminated in my taking the computer to the Geek Squad so they could fix it on October 5th. The girl at the counter said she couldn't fix it, but they could send it away to a magic factory where REALLY smart people who COULD fix it lived, and that it'd be at least three hundred dollars to do so, because these really smart people eat special food that's hard to come by, so they need lots of money. (There was also something about wolves, a train, and one out of every pair of twins...I didn't really get that part) Anyway, they promised they'd call me when they had an estimate ready for me, and I could tell them whether or not to go ahead and fix it. (Flashback...note this is nearly two hundred days after the first flashback in this post)

Today, over a month later, I decide to take some time out of the work day and drop by to see if anybody's heard from poor old compy since it was sent away to the magic factory. Stood in line behind an older gentleman, a former Marine helicopter pilot whose daughter was in I Am Legend. As he was describing the trouble he's been having with his computer to me, I could diagnose his problem fairly easily: the poor man didn't know how to check his email. Nice man, though.

Anyway, the lady behind the desk asked for my phone number to check their records. They don't have it. She asks for my name. They don't have it. I offer the credit card I used to pay last time. This they have. She asks me to describe the computer. She looks around confused for awhile. Then she turns around to the machine directly behind her on the counter. "It might be this," she says. "That looks like it," I say. We start it up, and the desktop is a picture of Kim, Robbie, and I in front of a Christmas tree. Yes, because it's been THAT LONG since it was working regularly. She then tells me that the computer's been ready since OCTOBER EIGHTH, and that the reason I never got a call was that their records showed this machine belonging to Samuel Longoria in North Carolina. So they certainly called him on the eighth to tell him his computer was ready. I'm sure he appreciated that.

The good news, however, is that they WERE able to fix it in-store. Apparently it didn't need to go to the REALLY smart people, just smartER people than the one who was looking at it originally. They did something with a ram, and then they removed forty-eight viruses from it, and now we're good to go.

First up: to re-stock the iPod I accidentally erased everything from a few months ago...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day Three-Hundred Two: Withdrawls

Okay, I'm sad Bat Boy is over.

I'm glad I'm home, I'm glad I'm going to BE home, I'm glad I'll have time and energy for all those projects I mentioned yesterday, BUT I'm bummed that I have no idea when my next chance to play drums for live band will be. It's just not a skill I've had a lot of chances to use, you know? And it's really, really fun. I miss doing music.

Either one of my fake band projects needs to happen for real, or my composer friend needs to get back with me and say, "Yes, I DO want to write that musical with you!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day Three-Hundred One: Bah. Maybe no NaNoWriMo after all...

Three-hundred one? Feels like I must have skipped ten or twenty numbers at some point...

Last night, I decided to scrap my current NaNoWriMo project and start another one. Seems all this sickness, which completely sapped all of my energy in what would have been my writing time last week, also sapped all of my enthusiasm for that project. So I was geared up to get going on this other book, but today...

Meh. I dunno. I'm still a bit tired, I'm still recovering somewhat from this cold. I have a lot of stuff to get done around the house before Thanksgiving. I also want to revise two scripts to submit for consideration for next season, and I really want to reformat an old one so I can send it to multiple publishers soon.

I mean, I've done NaNoWriMo. I did it. And it was fun, and it was exhilarating, mostly because it was so completely outside my experience. Now, it's not really any more, and some of the charm is just gone as well.

I know this is mostly fatigue talking, but I want to get these plays taken care of. I want to start turning my attention to the production of Alice I'll be directing in the spring. I think NaNo was more a game than anything else for me this year, and I think I ought to turn my attention elsewhere.

Especially since my attention seems so limited these days. Man, I can not WAIT to shake the last of these coughs! (I actually think I'm pretty close) Plus, the Christmas season is pretty close (I refuse to celebrate the Christmas season until Thanksgiving Day, thanks), and I'm pretty psyched about that, as always.

I think there's a lot of good stuff coming up.

Plus, in sixty-four days I won't have to worry about writing to you guys anymore ;-)


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day Three-Hundred: Day Three-Hundred

Wow. So, uh, Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Nine!

Welcome to my blog, folks. We talk comic books. We talk hockey. We tell cute stories about my toddler. We write haiku. We reminisce about theatre. And now, we rap.

And now you've got a little window to what it's like inside my mind. Welcome to Wonderland.

Tonight was the last Bat Boy show. I'm going to miss this show simply because it's been the only opportunity to play drums for pretty much anything (save the very occasional gig with Mark's church's band) since Astor Place Riot.

Man, Astor Place Riot was awesome.

Playing drums has been fun, though. I miss doing it. Who knows, maybe this'll open the door to more opportunities. If not, I ought to just write a show where a drummer is a central character, and then play the role myself. That should work.

My sense of hearing, however, is glad I will no longer be sitting between a crash cymbal, a ride cymbal, and a very large keyboard/guitar/vocals amplifier. My ears are still ringing just a little.

Choice "last-show ad-lib" of the night: "I need a Red Bull."

Switchfoot's new album is out Tuesday. Don't miss it, kids.

It annoys me when police officers turn on their lights and sirens just so they can run a red light, then immediately shut them off again. Seems like a bit of abuse of power to me.

I love the police, don't get me wrong, but that just seems cheap.

Wish I'd been able to go to tonight's Aeros game. Looks like it was a good one. A 5-2 win over a cross-state rival AND five fights? Plus, according to T3I's in-game tweeting, a little girl's figure skating routine while there are still gloves and sticks from an end-of-period melee lying on the ice? That's not just awesome, that's poetry!

And what, I ask, is life without a touch of poetry in it?


I'm done.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Nine: Bounce back

Lookout cuz I come atcha like ball off of a hardwood floor
You knock me down take me out I bounce back cuz I gots more
Then where that came from. That guy who wrote that post before
Was poor, on the floor, but now that guy's been shown the door

I got more bounce back than a free throw by Shaquille O'Neal,
A puck rang off the post (a hockey ref'rence? Kid's fo real!)
Yo, don't you count me out, I may not be tha Man of Steel
But when I get down I bounce back, and I like baby seals

I got more rhymes than the itsy bitsy spider
I got more comebacks than the Insyderz
Got information on the sequel to Ghost Rider
And a link to how a bird shut down the Hadron Collider.

Don't be laughin, don't be hatin, don't be dissin these rhymes,
Don't be actin' high and mighty like you're Optimus Prime,
Cause I'm comin' from a night that was so far from sublime,
But guess what? It's a new day, and it's bounce back time.

*cough cough*

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Eight: Confession


I'm tired.

I can't come up with a way to put into words how weary I am this instant. (I've spent the last half hour trying, and I'm failing because I'm so freaking tired)

This cold is kicking my butt. I'm doing fairly well until I hit 10 p.m., and every night this week I've hit a wall after 10. I just can't do anything. Tonight, I couldn't even stand up straight.

Adding to the weariness is the knowledge that I know I'm letting people down who need me this week. I wish I could try harder. I wish I could do more.

But I am physically incapable of being everything I need to be right now.

And that feels worse than any lingering head cold.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Seven: Time for some feedback.

No, sadly, this post is not about this guy.

I'd like to know a few things about your childhood. If that's cool with you.

What were your favorite books as a very young child? In grade school? In middle school?

Did you like fairy tales? Which were your favorites?

What movies did you watch over and over again?

Favorite games? Video games?

Lastly, what were your favorite songs as a very young child? Grade school? Middle school?

My thanks.
*cough cough still somewhat sick*

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Six: Bye week


Between sick (not swine flu) and NaNoWriMo, I almost feel like I should have just declared this a bye week for the blog.

Actually, I know a guy whose Scholar's Bowl team once lost to a bye. For those not in the know, Scholar's Bowl is where your four-person team goes up against another four-person team and answers questions. The rounds are twelve questions each (and they're divided into categories, i.e. two math, two science, two literature, and so on) and each correct question is worth ten points. If someone on your team buzzes in early and you get the question wrong, your team loses five points.

Seeding from the round-robin to the elimination round goes first by wins and losses, second by total points. (Or point differential. I don't remember) Because of this, when a team doesn't show up, rather than just letting the other team win by forfeit, they have the team play against four chairs in an attempt to rack up points for seeding.

See where this is going?

A friend of mine from highs school (I believe it was Louisburg, KS, not that anybody's keeping track) told me he competed in one SB tournament in his entire career. He was actually team captain for that day, and they got a match against the chairs. "All right, everybody," he told his team, "DON'T buzz in early, because there's absolutely no point to it."

First question? Someone buzzed early. And got it wrong. Minus five.

And then the team didn't get the next question right. Or the next. Or the next. In fact, after twelve rounds, they'd accumulated a grand total of minus-five points. Advantage: chairs.

My friend said that after that experience, he knew that Scholar's Bowl was simply not a part of his destiny.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Five: Sick


*cough cough*!

I'm goin' ta bad.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Four: "We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking..."

Of course, if we're hockey goalies, we all wear masks, anyway. And we credit this guy with being the first smart goalie in hockey history: after getting his nose broken by a shot in a game, Jacques Plante went back to the dressing room and returned wearing a crude mask. The coach was livid, but he had no other goalies and Plante refused to go in without the mask, so his hands were tied.

Actually, the first guy to wear a mask in an NHL game was this guy here, a Hockey Hall of Famer with four Stanley Cups, but he played for the Montreal Maroons, so nobody cares.

Anyway, TSN (Canada's version of ESPN) has been running a series on current NHL goalies with unusual masks in honor of Plante's historic burst of intelligence. Of note: this feature on Calgary Flames backup Curtis McElhinney. Now, I'm not going to spoil it all for you, but I will say that it is based on a staple of great western literature, and that McElhinney's description includes the phrase "we had images of people trying to escape hell" oddly juxtaposed with a paragraph talking about how he wanted to incorporate his family into the overall design.