Monday, December 29, 2008

Break's over, back on your head.

Three runs in three straight days. Breezy and cool, perfect. Tomorrow we go home.

For fourteen years I have been welcomed, accepted into this house. I never feel judged here, it is in this place that I learn how not to judge. In times of greatest shame I have returned here, to feel forgiven. In times of greatest mourning I have come here for comfort. This place calms my anxieties, soothes my troubled mind, strengthens my resolve, helps me to change what I can, accept what I cannot ... the proverb is somewhat musty.

When we return there will be Christmas things to put away, baseboards to paint, lines to internalize, schedules to revise, taxes to be paid, thank you notes to write, rooms to be cleared, hand-me-downs to be sorted, comics to be sold, shows to be promoted, children to be taught.

Until then, a beer, a shower, a movie, in the soothing comfort of home.

Distance: 4.25 miles
Temperature: 44 degrees

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Betta Change (161 BPM)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When I'm good and ready, dreidel I'm gon' play.

Been working my iPod moves, Ali.

Distance: 4.25 miles
Temperature: 46 degrees.

Best of 2008 Playlist
Dreidel - Erran Baron Cohen ft. Jules Brookes
L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
Detroit - Black Gold
American Boy (Soulseekerz Club Remix) - Estelle
We Are One (KULT) -Tribalishious
Disturbia - Rihanna
Who Knew - P!nk
Cooldown: Down to Earth - Peter Gabriel

Man, iTunes gave away a lot of great stuff this year.

Guess what book I got for Christmas this year?

That Darn Cat!

Memo to myself ... start and finish at the rec center, not the other way around. The wind is always blowing north and east with the river.

Distance: 4.25 miles
Temperature: 66 degrees. It's gorgeous!

Fabulous day on South Green ... breezy and bright and warm. It's usually January when we get one (just one) of these freaky 70-ish degree days before slamming back into the deep freeze. But here we are. Anything can happen in Athens.

Second Christmas, lots of Bailey's spilled into morning coffee and lucky, lucky children getting a second helping of too many great presents. We are fortunate, indeed.

Best of 2008 Playlist
Lights & Music - Cut Copy
Let's Dance to Joy Division - The Wombats
Mansard Roof - Vampire Weekend
Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna
Black & Gold - Sam Sparro
Mercy - Duffy
2007, The Year Punk Rock Broke My Heart - Los Campesinos!
Check Yes Juliet - We The Kings
1,000,000 - Nine Inch Nails
Uninvited - Freemasons
Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free - Zombie-Zombie
Cooldown: Blind - Hercules and Love Affair

Cat worries that she is not good enough an artist, but I feel so intensely grateful to have her as part of this project. She is a better artist than I am, don't let her fool you, and has a greater range of styles and influences. That's why she's doing this.

And what is she doing, exactly? She is the Hand of Pengo® acting as the cartoonist and illustrator I never was, the main character of this play.

So ... if this is an autobiographic solo performance, why are you not an actor? Because this is a play, silly, and my work is self-referential and navel-gazing as it is without making a number of pithy theater references. I did enough of that in Vampyres, God knows.

I needed someone who could represent my work as a high school newspaper cartoonist, and one in college, writing for a weekly alternative paper, a graphic novelist, a designer of greeting cards. I can't do all of that. And even if I could, some of what I share in this piece is difficult enough without anyone judging my drawing abilities.

I received a copy of Art Spiegelman's Breakdowns for Christmas. I love his work, but I found this one to be less than the others. It is half memoir and half reprints of work from the early 70s. I can't tell if it's a memoir padded out with old stuff or he wanted to share his less-known work and needed to ad an extended introduction to justify peddling reprints. He is without a doubt a master draftsman, but emotionally he goes over a lot of the same ground covered in many previous books, especially MAUS.

However, reading it reminded me of where I came from, and how I justified creating &TYD. The canon of autobiographic-graphic novels is becoming quite extensive, and those which shine are making it a lot more difficult for those who do not. The work of Harvey Pekar has been a great influence on me since I first began reading American Splendor in the late 80s.

Last year Leah gave my wife a copy of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and me Peter Kuper's Stop Forgetting to Remember. The former is about the author's relationship with her closeted father and his possible suicide. The latter about the author's own anxieties about his penis, being a cartoonist, impending fatherhood and (I'm not kidding) September 11th.

I will let you guess which one I admired more. Let me give you a hint - the one is an outstanding piece of writing, illustration and pathos that I read in passive fascination until the final page, when I suddenly found myself weeping uncontrollably. The other I hope and pray to God is not how my own work comes off to friends or strangers.

And so; it is because I am presenting a play that I chose to make the main character a cartoonist. If I am really as good a graphic artist as Cat has suggested, then I will someday create a graphic novel about being an actor.

And here's your Saturday evening wake-up call:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Leah, art demons, and fretting

David dropped an email on me today, suggesting that someone might want to read about my creative process. Not after they read this, most likely.

My creative process consists of fretting. I fret about my inability, about the lack of time I have (because I spend so much time fretting, doubtless) about all the people I know who can do the job better than me, about how everything I write/act/draw/whatever is crap, and about how I should be doing all the other, more responsible things in my life instead of whatever creative thing I am doing.

I met Leah today and did a few sketches of her, and took a few photographs. She has amazing eyes, huge and dark and beautiful. Expressive and secretive---Pushkin's Russian eyes. Fun to draw, like drawing a character from "Elfquest" or something.

It's hard to get her mouth right, though. I messed around on paper but it is really elusive. Thick on the top and kind of Greek-looking. But that's what the photographs are for. It's weird-- I used to hate drawing from photographs but now I kind of prefer it. I can be nitpicky and get things on paper better than if I'm working with a live human. I think it's because I assume they are bored out of their skulls, having to sit so still for longer than a few minutes. Actually, what I prefer is looking at the live person, sketching, and then having a photograph to pick at later. This way you get the alive feeling of a model but the accuracy of the photograph.

I look at David's sketch and wonder why it is that he isn't drawing this himself, because he is clearly better at drawing than I ever will be. He's busy, I tell myself. He gets more stuff done before breakfast than I do all week, though. I imagine that everyone does.

I am attempting to channel the art demons. This is what my family jokingly calls the way my mom, uncle, and myself can pour ourselves into an art project for days at a time and not sleep or do much of anything else. Believe it or not, for me it is the most effective way of getting creative stuff done. Eventually I will wear down my own resistance at creation and things will start happening--lines will be learned, stories will appear, cartoons will happen. My dad and grandmother used to do this, too, so I imagine it's an inherited trait from both sides of the family, for me. Manic art creation? I guess. Or waiting for my doubt to get too sleepy to stay up any longer. I seldom have the opportunity to do this anymore now that I have a semi-regular job and I've been looking forward to it, and dreading it, for a couple of weeks now.

My mom used to start her artistic process with a glass of wine. I just whine.

Pat has wisely (and handily) left town until Sunday to visit with our Viking chick artist friend in Toronto and then see some sort of sporting event in Buffalo. The art demons have not yet appeared, despite me attempting to conjure them with coffee and blank paper. I have sketched a few things which look crappy and amateurish to me. I have taken out all of my notes and doodles and David's script and his cartoons and art and the library's copy of 300(damn, I have to renew) and spead them all out on the dining room table. I have put tantalizing fresh pencils and markers and even a Pentel colorbrush and assorted types of paper and bristol there, as well.

I have stared at this altar. The cats have walked over it. And that's it, right now.

The problem is that what is going through my brain is not art demons, but a rather Pekar-ish fret of all the things on my to-do list which have to get done, and soon. I've got to fill out my FAFSA forms (I'm going back to school in the Spring...again!). I've got to draw this couple and their dog and get it in the mail with an invoice. I have to send scripts out to my actors for the reading I'm directing in March, and try to get them all to send me a conflict sheet and contact information. I have to finish a piece of jewelry. I've got to do my CAR forms (these insipid assessment forms that have to do with making sure I'm doing my job as a teacher, instead of, I dunno, showing filmstrips every day or whatever it is bad teachers do). I have to make my syllabi for Spring. I have to write/call that professor again to beg for permission to get into her class without taking the prerequisite. I've got to go online and order all of my books.

I've got to print out new copies of my transcript request forms and fax them in to KSU and TESC because Pat left the forms I gave him to fax at work and he won't get back there until Tuesday. I've got to finish learning my lines for Twelfth Night. I've got to get back to Matt about his February show. I've got to get a costume guide together for the pirates. I have to find a pocketwatch, a pair of opera glasses and a sniper rifle, or items which look like all of the above, for props. I really should paint the foyer.

Other house stuff. Other school stuff. Other art stuff. Other theatre stuff.

Oh! And I have to drop a note to Josh--when is he gonna film my hands?

But what is currently keeping my art demons from the task at hand is they are all wanting to work on Conspiracy Theory. Stupid art demons.

Conspiracy Theory is a play I'm working on which is getting a reading over at Oddy Fest in January. I'm very unsatisfied with it, as I am with everything I have ever done, and I can't stop picking at it. The actors came over and had the first read-through here a couple of days ago, and this is what is consuming the creative bits of my brain which have not yet been steamrolled by OMG YOU SUCK feelings. If I work on it for an hour, maybe I can get it off my mind.

I'm going to try that, and if that doesn't work, I'm going to get on the internet and look for other Derf reference material. And if that doesn't work, I'm going to set up a splatter zone in the basement and screw around with Frank Miller. That sounds much kinkier than it actually is.

Did I eat today? I can't remember, so that's probably a good sign.

Okay, whining over. Work now.

Now, I said!

Migraine Holiday

The migarines came fast and furious for a few years, cresting in 2006 ... and then subsiding. In the past year, as med prices went up and funds dwindled, I began taking OTC drugs to alleviate the swelling in my sinuses. And that was a result of what I believe was the most successful part of my diagnosis - where my migraines start, and how to notice them starting.

It has a lot to do with allergies, for me. And so if I can take anti-allergy meds, and pain reluevers, it can subside without using the expensive, full-bore stuff.

Holidays have been ruined by migraines, especially Christmas, when I seem to get terrible, no-fun headaches. One began tonight and made me unhappy during dinner - we are celebrating "Second Christmas" in Athens with the out-laws. I went to the drug store for crystal meth starter and took two naproxen. I have that "mgraine hangover" - weak, but pain-free.

I am convinced it's the dogs. Three dogs in this house during the holidays (one of my wife's aunts brings the extra one) and maybe that has something to do with my annual Christmas horror show. After all, I did have a headache yesterday.

This is what I have to work on before the next rehearsal:

-Man is the Measure: find voice for Mr. A
-Watch ipod commercials
-Tai Chi
-unbelievable phone call
-Mr. Self-destruct: physicality of Sheba
-Fitter happier
-Marathon: old fashioned story-telling aka, Shakespearean
-At a distance: talking to the hospital; present vs. past tense.
-I need you so much closer
-The end of it all

Original word count: 12,535
November 18 word count: 12,490
Today's word count: 12,278

Show, don't tell.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A chorus of angels

Running Lakewood, from my folks house to Cove and back. I have not run this Lake Avenue since 2006, and then it was in the oppostie direction. To honor this occasion, I have been working on that part of the show ... and editing.

Editing is good. I have not had the chance to calculate how many words I have removed since Ali and I have begun our stand-up work. It's not major, but it's helpful. Working the show on my feet points up where I am simultaneously saying what I am doing. And so I stop saying it and just do it. There's a lot of that.

Also, I flatly state something and then give it a metaphor. The houses of west Cleveland are huge. Mountainous. How about mountainous without the huge? They weren't even mountainous until I started comparing the "terrain" to the Arctic. See the show, you'll get it.

Happy holidays, everyone. I hope to run most days I am in Athens this week.

Distance: 5 miles
Temperature: 23 degrees ... with snowflakes!
Weight: It's Christmas!

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - In The Zone (140 BPM)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One month.

I am in so much trouble.

A run would be nice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Click on to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


There was some kind of special event or fund raiser going on at a local theater (not the one I work work, oddly enough.) The ground floor of the theater was very open, with large doors letting in sunlight and warm air ... and cars. People were parking in this lower level, even though it was appointed like a salon with art on the walls and carpet or rugs on the ground.

I was standing with a member of the staff, I think I was participating in the event. The guy I was with was lamenting about how the artistic director's marriage was having difficulties and that this person had taken to sleeping on a table in the theater. I was smoking a cigarette. I mean, really smoking it.

Suddenly I realized what I was doing - I hadn't had a cigarette in almost eight years! I began to despair the way I do when I realize I have fallen off the wagon with tobacco.

...and then I remembered I only smoke in my dreams! And with a big smile I said out loud, "I must be dreaming!" The person I was with just gave me an amused little smile and I took a big, long drag from the butt of the cigarette before crushing it to the floor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Promo! Promo! Promo!


Now on the CPT website. You can order tickets!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Frustrated! Grrr! Run! Yay!

It's a haiku.

Jesus, I had to take my glasses off shortly after I had begun, the metal was causing me great distress. Strange, I have run in colder weather, but I've never had to do that before.

Distance: 3 miles
Temperature: 27 degrees
Weight: 154 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Where We Come From - 151 BPM

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last rehearsal until after Christmas. We're all stupid busy. I am glad of the amount of text which has penetrated my skull, we worked through a good part of the show with lines, blocking, costumes and even got to improve some acting.

This show takes a lot out of me in the voice department. It is a physical show, much more so than the last solo project - which was a lot of standing and sitting. Ali called rehearsal early because I was choking on my own dry throat.

Memorization! I can!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Brisk! Fast! Got a migraine doctor's appointment - gotta run!

Distance: 2 miles
Temperature: 30 degrees
Weight: 156 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Trailblazer (160 BPM)

UPDATE: It is a great feeling to show up for a doctor's appointment an hour after a short run. My blood pressure was fabulous!

A little disturbing, however, to then be asked if I have had an irregular heartbeat. "Uh, no," I said, "why, do I have one now?" The answer was yes, yes I do. Then I was asked if I had been drinking coffee and yes, I had double the dose of caffeine this morning as I polished off the wife's mugs as well as mine. AND they were full-strength servings, as we ran out of decaf it cut it with last week.

Anything to worry about? No, she said. Not if I have been drinking coffee this morning.

Whew. I think.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Box flyer

We received the proof for the BIG BOX flyer today. This is our listing.

As Crumpet says, "This is really going to happen."

BTW - you have four days left on this auction.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Knee wrap-up

Final (cross fingers) visit to Dr. V. yesterday. He says it all looks good, no swelling. I should be able to do anything.

As we are trying to be as frugal as possible these days, I asked if there were any way to minimize the damage inflicted by running on pavement instead of a treadmill or indoor track. The only honest advice he could provide was, don't run on pavement.

He also said I have a runner's body and there is no reason I couldn't go the rest of my life without suffering another injury like this one, so that's good. If I can limit it to one every 40 years, that would be super.

Today my left knee hurts.


Distance: 5 miles
Temperature: 48 degrees
Weight: 155 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Rainy Day Run (145 BPM)

Wow, that's one of my favorites. If you haven't noticed, I have started listening to old PODRUNNER mixes, more or less in order, from the beginning - 2006. They were a great help on long runs, I used them to get down MLK and back several times. I had a few I went back to occasionally, and this was one of them.

Because it's raining! An early December thaw, spring-like weather. Supposed to snow tomorrow - or at least get freezing and make all this lovely water treacherous. And so, because I can't help myself, I went five miles.

Who knows, I may not be able to do that again until March. Or that one, freaky 70 degree day that usually pops up the first week of January.

If you'll notice, I don't usually run in December much. Last year I forced myself to run five times. In 2006 - after the marathon - not at all. As a result I missed the SPECTACULAR lights display, just around the corner, across from Sarah's mom's house. Have to take the kids to see that.

155 lbs. Jesus. Haven't seen that since the boy was born.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Oops, missed Pon'far.

Memorizing to shows at once, painting kitchen cabinets and creating a holiday cartoon appear to have cancelled each other out. I am incapable of accomplishing anything.

On that note ... here's your truly disturbing Saturday afternoon wake-up call:

UPDATE: Good God! I just wore the Chuck's I will be using for the show to rehearsal and back Did I really used to wear those thing things all the time? My feet are FREEZING!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tiny swift steps

The thing about the holidays ... no matter what your discipline, there's just so much free stuff around it's hard to keep your hands off it. Cookies, pitzels - cake, freaking cake in the office?

This past week has been hard. I first developed a sore throat last Monday, and this cold has such a firm grip it kept me sniffling all weekend, and now coughing all week. This morning I woke with a raging sore throat.

Distance: 3 miles
Temperature: 43 degrees
Weight: 157.5 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Joggernaut (170 BPM)

UPDATE: OMG!!! NOW there are cookies IN MY HOUSE!!!