Monday, December 28, 2009

The Very Best of 2009

Memories of Christmas 2009:
pink pony pillow
filled pancakes
coffee with Bailey's
happy Felix
Joe's roast with Yorkshire pudding
meeting Molly
Artie at the Skull
rain
the history of slavery in 10 minutes
Mary Poppins
Christmas songs on cable
Little Richard
CARS racetrack
Sherlock Holmes
Elliott bringing the Avalanche
and a little snow
I did have enough songs for one more "Best Of" list, I run I did not get to my third day in town. But as it turns out, they were pretty crappy songs (two by Black Eyed Peas? Come on, those things always have a shelf-life of three days.) But it did end with this:

Don't Stop Believin' - The Kids from "Glee"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Born with a weak heart



Best of 2009 Playlist
This Must Be The Place - Miles Fisher
Cooking by the Book (lil' Bigger Mix) - Mastgrr
Sugar - Flo Rida ft. Wynter
Before the Worst - The Script
The Golden Age of Video - Ricardo Autobahn
Breakeven - The Script
Mothership - Kid Beyond
Bulletproof - La Roux
Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) - Beyonce
The Fear - Lily Allen

Distance: 4.25 miles
Temperature: 40º
Weather: cloudless n' sunny

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gravity can't forget



Best of 2009 Playlist
Single Ladies - Pomplamoose
Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny) - A.R. Rahman ft. The Pussycat Dolls
Halo - Beyonce
15 Step - Radiohead
Just Dance - Lady Gaga
Paris Is Burning - Ladyhawke
Rehab - The Kids from "Glee"
In For The Kill - La Roux
4 Minutes - Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake

God bless us, everyone.

Distance: 4.25 miles
Weather: wet and sunny ..?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thank you for this

Weak. Eyes livid, moist-searing edges. Practically trembling. This was before I ran. It's been over two weeks, there has been no time nor opportunity - nor much desire. The weather turned, it has been below freezing ... until today.

I fried chicken and made french fries for our children, who missed their mom - the wife was out of town last night. So I tried something new. I feel like I have swallowed a pound cake. I have gained weight. I need to play an emaciated vampire this winter. I need to stop eating poorly.

I also need to run again, but mostly I need to stop eating poorly. And so often. But I have found out I make a very good fried chicken (thank you, as always, to Mark Bittman.)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 50º
Weather: damp and cool. extremely pleasant.
Weight: 160.5 lbs.

Phone call at 12:10 AM
Leah: So I started watching Twin Peaks.
Pengo: Oh, you never?
Leah: No, I remember seeing that part you showed us when we were making THE GULF.
Pengo: Man.
Leah: Yeah.
Pengo: That was ... a heady time.
Leah: It sure was.
[awkward pause]


I meant 1991. She meant 2001.

It Won't Be Long Genius Playlist
It Won't Be Long - Alison Moyet
Wrap It Up - Eurythmics
Antmusic - Adam and the Ants
Perfect Skin - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
Let Me Go - Heaven 17
Take a Chance on Me - Erasure
Fame Is - Crowded House
Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) - Eurythmics

If you are not yet a follower of my other blog I wanted to announce I am 2010 CPAC Creative Workforce Fellow. It is a great honor, and a wonderful opportunity. I had submitted a portion of And Then You Die in my application, so thank you to you for supporting this play.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The World Is a Vampire

Another Sexy Boy Vampire Playlist
Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins
Reckoner - Radiohead
Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
Brand New Colony - The Postal Service
The Sound of Settling - Death Cab for Cutie
Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
All I Need - Radiohead
Breakeven - The Script
Wake Up - Arcade Fire
No Surprises - Radiohead
Great DJ - The Ting Tings
Blue Light - Bloc Party
Mrs. Robinson (interlude) - Simon & Garfunkel
Walcott - Vampire Weekend

I think I figured out the Twilight Hate ... listening to today's playlist - which was generated by the GENIUS feature of iTunes - I realized that today's plump and balding Gen X-er's are hellapissed that vampires are no longer GOTH. I mean, vampires pre-existed Goth culture - Goth was an offspring of vampire culture, to be sure - but any mother can produce varied children. Today's "vampires" descend not from Peter Murphy and and Poopy Z. Brite, but from a different branch of the family tree.

From the bourgeois, from white trash, from America - not Europe. They are no longer pretentious. They are the kind of ordinary embraced by, well, Sarah Palin supporters. They aren't special. They are repressed. They are Puritan.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Distance: 6.15 miles
Temperature: 50º
Weather: cool and clear
Pavement: Uneven

A weekend at the rents, my brother and his family are in town from Minnesota. It's a big, small child weekend in Lakewood (missing the fifteen year-old in London whose birthday is today!) Took that lap around the west side of town ... West Side of Cleveland, that is, the run is the length of Lakewood and back, usually I go down Lake and Clifton, this time it was the other way 'round.

My right arm aches, I can only imagine it is from poor weight training. Every now and then I use it, but these day I mostly don't. In my imagination I do sit-ups, but in the real world, I don't. Josh told me about a study that indicated that thinking about exercise can actually be as effective as doing it. Well. Works for him (Ooh! That stings! Good night, Cleveland!)

Tomorrow, by the way, I will be performing on the stage of Severance Hall, playing Dvorak as we explain the origins of the New World Symphony. Come and check it out, it's fun.

Anyway, my arm hurts. I hope tonight's physical activity helps. Now back to eating like hell.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top 10 Chunkiest Hits from The Decade Just Past

(2001) Weapon of Choice - Fatboy Slim
(2003) Toxic - Britney Spears
(2002) Work It - Missy Elliott
(2004) Chase Me - Hexastatic
(2008) Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) - Beyonce
(2000) Music - Madonna
(2009) The Fear - Lily Allen
(2005) Touch the Sky - Kanye West
(2007) Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) - MIKA
(2006) SexyBack - Justin Timberlake

Facebook Chat:
OATMAN: Any word?
PENGO: I got it.
OATMAN: Cool.
PENGO: It is cool.
OATMAN: I'm working on a new play.
PENGO: What's this one about?
OATMAN: A three hundred pound black guy who runs a marathon.

(And then I laughed so hard I got a hernia.)

Distance: 5.15 miles
Temperature: 52º
Weather: rainy
Weight: 157.5 lbs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Top 10 Dance Tracks from "The Last Ten Years" (Part 2)

(2001) Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk
(2009) This Must Be The Place - Miles Fisher
(2003) Brand New Colony - The Postal Service
(2007) The Girls - Calvin Harris
(2000) Idioteque - Radiohead
(2005) Badass - The Crystal Method

I realized earlier this week that the media just gave up - this decade will have no name. And that's only proper, it was a kidney stone of a decade. But no one even attempted to come up with a name that would stick. There was chatter about it at the beginning of "The Decade" - will it be "The Ohs" or "The Naughts" or "The Nil Set" or what have you. But once that died down, nothing had been decided.

It's like that point in history when everyone was talking about the names of generations. And those who controlled the media at that time - Baby Boomers - came up with names for generations going back centuries. They weren't happy with naming cohorts of a certain genre or way of life - the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation - they were dead set on proscribing when these generations began and ended, and everyone fell into the same category (everyone white and middle-class, anyway) and called their parents the Greatest Generation, themselves re-branded as Boomers and lowly old us as Generation X.

And then, apparently ran out of ideas. (Gen Y? Gen Z? As the kids say, for real?) Or interest. Because it doesn't really hold up well.

So we have no name for this decade. As Top Ten Lists are created, they are sheepishly referred to as "The Top Ten Songs Of The Past Decade" or "Of The Last Ten Years" ignoring the fact that this is going to make it very difficult for lite contemporary stations to sell their playlists. Know how pop stations play the hits from "The 80s, the 90s ... and Today!" Next year they will be playing "The Hits from Today ... and yesterday!"

I heard some guys on the radio bickering about whether next year will be called "Two Thousand Ten" or "Twenty-Ten." Well, duh. People are going to call it both, and no one is going to be punched in the face for it.

I think my favorite turn of phrase was when someone referred to their upcoming season as the "Oh-Nine, Oh-Ten Season."

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 50º
Weather: cool & leafy
Weight: 159 lbs.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top 10 Disco Songs from What Ever You Call This Decade (Part 1)


(2009) Bulletproof - La Roux
(2002) Breathe - Télépopmusik
(2004) No Expectations - I Am the World Trade Center
(2008) Paris Is Burning - Ladyhawke
(2006) Tracking Treasure Down - Gabriel & Dresden

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 53º
Weather: cool & dark
Weight: 161 lbs.

At the conclusion of three decades I have held - or attempted to hold - a commemorative theme party. Ten years ago we had what may very well be the last (adult) theme party we ever have, the 20th Century Revival Party.

Ten years before that was the 80s Revival Party, and I even tried to get our Christian Youth Group to turn the 1980 Halloween party into a 70s revival party, but none of the other 12 year-olds were into it.

But ... I mean, seriously, an 00s Revival Party? That's bleak, man.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sisyphus

Podrunner: 152 BPM - Sonorous

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 55º
Weather: cool & dark & perfect
Weight: 162 lbs.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Emerge

Okay. So. At right you will see today's intake. High in fat, to be sure, carb heavy. But the portions have been controlled, and posting it there, at the top of the page, I have shamed myself into avoiding dropping down to the cornershop for M&Ms, Coke or Doritos. That's what I ate, and all I ate.

It's also made me keep a glass of water on my desk at all times (which I did not record.) I do not drink enough water. Right now I am enjoying Harris' Replenishing Elixir ... with a dose of pineapple juice and Grenadine to give it some flavor.

Great run. Shaking off the lethargy. My knees ache a little, though. It's getting cooler out.

Podrunner: 162 BPM - A Running Thread

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 51º
Weather: cool & dark & perfect
Weight: 159.5 lbs.

See? Mac and cheese for dinner and I still lost half a pound a weigh in. I must be doing something right.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Shattered

Sunset across the Heights. A magnificent evening run. Listening to a favorite old running mix, it was as though old smells came back to me ... training for the marathon got me in touch with the urban outdoors like nothing ever has. It was musky, with leaves and earth and pavement and exhaust, and the air was clear and cool.

Listening to: Drive: N*ke+ Original Run - The Crystal Method

Apparently I have not run to this since July 07. It's like an old friend.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 58º
Weather: gorgeous
Scale says I'm 152 lbs., which is nice and all, but it's wrong.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Consumption

Podrunner: 132 BPM - "EASYGOING"

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 54º
Weather: lovely
Weight: 161 lbs.

Unhappy morning. Attended a reading last night, went out with Brian for one beer and a chat. Had to stop by the grocery store, in bed by 12:30. This, after several days of getting up at 5 am to sub for one of our people. Late night, sleeping in, too warm, recipe for a headache, and I got one.

Thought a nice run would help, it often does. Didn't. Rather than allowing my mind to wander over writing ideas or other pleasantries I was obsessing over political argument and just being upset about the pain shooting down through my left eyeball every time my feet hit the pavement.

I need to begin recording my diet, publicly. Knowing that I have to write it down where anyone can see it might prevent me from stealing any more of my kids' Halloween candy or buying 99 cent bags of Doritos from the cornershop.

I was so proud of the weight I lost at the beginning of the year. But that's nothing to pat myself on the back about - I was on a physical therapy program for my knee, and suffering from self-imposed privation as a result of reassessing our finances (this before the wife started working again) which apparently we've gone back to not caring about.

But regardless of what I eat, this running once a week thing does not work. My legs ache, my muscles have slackened, and I generally feel tired, unhappy and listless.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dingbat

If you don't see it, I can't explain it to you.
To Some, Winner Is Not American Enough - NY Times 11/3/09

As soon as Mebrahtom Keflezighi, better known as Meb, won the New York City Marathon on Sunday, an uncommon sports dispute erupted online, fraught with racial and nationalistic components: Should Keflezighi’s triumph count as an American victory?

He was widely celebrated as the first American to win the New York race since 1982. Having immigrated to the United States at age 12, he is an American citizen and a product of American distance running programs at the youth, college and professional levels.

But, some said, because he was born in Eritrea, he is not really an American runner.
No, it is more important to cling to your fear and racist pride than to embrace a breath-taking national victory. There are those of us who say that suggesting the President was born in Kenya is racist hate-mongering. And there are those who say that to suggest such is racist hate-mongering. So which camp am I in if I say the "birther" story and this story are the same story?

If you are Black, you are not really American. That's the message folks. If it makes you sick, speak out.
It's telling that a story about a marathon runner reminds us that we still have a long, long way to go. - Rob Cottingham
LATER:
"He is an American citizen thanks to taking a test and living in our country...Nothing against Keflezighi, but he's like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league."
-- CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I love this record, baby.

You do not want to read this.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 46º
Weather: cool
Weight: 159.5 lbs.

I sh*t you not, I just took a dump and dropped a pound and a half. But come on, Pengo - pushing 160? This will not pass.

(drum fill)

Thank you.

This does not bode well for the holidays. There are already cookies on the front counter at work almost every day. Or chocolate-covered peanuts. Tomorrow there will be left over Halloween candy. I seriously have to get this under control.

On a different note ... this might be transparent to anyone paying attention, but all the whining about being a failure as a graphic artist in spite of my best intentions - especially since the resumption of my efforts in early 2007 - I have written four plays in that time ... which is four more plays than I had written in the previous five years.

Twilight Playlist
15 Step - Radiohead
Just Dance - Lady Gaga
4 Minutes - Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake
Full Moon - The Black Ghosts
Spotlight (Twilight Mix) - Mute Math
Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
Go All The Way (Into the Twilight) - Perry Farrell
Mothership (176 bpm) - Kid Beyond

Yeah? So? Shut up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My uncomfortable relationship with art

I... want to go running again. Not like, "I should probably go out and run." No, it's more, "I really want to go outside and run. Like, right now."

Damn you, Hansen!

Thank you,
josh bxxxx
It's a sickness.

Kathleen Rooney was featured on Talk of the Nation sometime in the past year, that is when I first heard of her book, Live Nude Girl. I want to go back and listen to that entire interview, I was in and out of the car, visiting actor-teachers around town.

Her book re-entered my memory recently when I was googling a painter who has been work with Leah as a model. He took the time to give it a write-up on amazon or somewhere, and I finally did what I must do in order to get my hands on anything, I put it on my queue at the library. As my car has been in the shop for around a week, I have been on the bus a lot. I really like the bus, because when I am on the bus, I read books. I read books on the bus, and sitting in the kids' room, waiting for them to fall asleep.

I was nervous about reading this book, a memoir of her experiences working as a model, clothed and unclothed, for life drawing classes, sketching collectives, and private gigs. Which character in her story was going to most resemble me? Because there has to be one.

I don't like having hobbies. But I am resigned to drawing being my hobby. Running is my exercise, theater is my work. Drawing is something I do that makes me happy, which otherwise serves no practical purpose. Something I spend time and money on and it doesn't go anywhere, because I don't have the wherewithal to actually be very good.

It was a thrill this summer, actually, to play a character in a play who really is a professional artist. I felt sheepish when people asked how they could get a copy of my graphic novel I HATE THIS and I had to tell them I'm not actually an artist - I just played one on stage.

I played Manet on stage once, too, you know, in a play Sarah wrote. It consumed a year of my life. My year as a French pre-Impressionist painter.

When my wife gave me a gift certificate to an arts supply store in 2001 - the year Calvin was born - I went out and bought some supplies. And was afraid to use them. Eventually I asked a friend or two to sit and they did and that was very nice and they looked like cartoons and then I put them away for a few years.

In early 2007, when the marathon was over and I had not been running in some time and my job had gotten routine and I was trying to figure out what exactly it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life (my thirties coming to a swift conclusion) I asked a friend to take her clothes off for me, and she said yes, and suddenly I was drawing again.

I had drawn nudes before, going back to when I was a teenager. I destroyed those, afraid someone would find them, which is really a shame when you think about it because I think they may have been good. In any case, tear up a photograph sure, but not something you drew with your own hands.

Back then, all of my nudes were of girlfriends so the idea of doing that was tinged with sexual or romantic ideas and for a long time it was difficult to draw someone I was friends with with their clothes on without my head getting all creepy.

So I just leapt over that neuroses by asking a string of good friends to posed nude and now I have a notebook of acceptable amateur drawings. So. Good for me. I can still draw. I draw better. I am happy with my work.

Now, how this all relates to Rooney's book. Before asking good friends to disrobe and sit still for me for two hours, I did some research on how to best take care of them. It was February when I embarked, I made sure there was heat. A private place to change, a robe, clean floors. "Playing professional," as Leah once put it. Thanks, thank you for that.

So I was searching in the book for a reflection of the talentless, 40-ish dilettante who asks young women to get naked for him. And while I found a few creepers in her work, they weren't me. As with everything else I am struggling to create there is a great deal of shyness, boldness, risk-taking and harboring in dull safety. The one person she zeroes in on as someone she just doesn't respect is a guy who has artistic pretensions, but no skill. Or no style. Or no class. Or too much money for her taste.

Well, I am pretentious about a lot of things, but my drawing is certainly not one of them.

Like most non-fiction I read - and that is what I largely choose to read - I was delighted to come away feeling like I had learned something the easy way. Something I was interested in, a shallow education in art history and stories about interesting people. I am still not sure I know anything at all about her ... and as the model, maybe that was the point.

Early in the book, she describes the difference between naked and nude. Nude is, however it looks, beautiful and artistic. It is apart from whatever it is about the human mind that makes the unclothed body something "bad." Dirty. Weak.

Naked is exposed. And maybe that's why I would never post or display my drawings. Because that's me naked. And I do not like to be naked.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's all one.

I was flying solo this weekend - as a parent, not entirely solo. The wife was taking in a preeclampsia event in Chicago (in addition to the Institute and some theater) while I took the kids to two soccer games, three birthday parties and a circus.

I'm not complaining, we had a great time. Oh, and I was there when Josh ran his first 5K.

However, I have SO MUCH GOING ON - turning in my first draft of this season's outreach tour, interviews for a brief piece I am writing for Cleveland Magazine, there are two grants due by the end of the week, two more in the middle of next month and three more after that. There are actors to supervise and a car with a major repair bill hanging over it. Sunday night, and with all this hanging over me I was jittery, irritable and in desperate need of a run.

Running is breath and blood and life. God, it felt good - bless you, Josh, I needed speed and yesterday did not cut it as my weekly (weekly?) three-miler.

I have been reading Kathleen Rooney's book about modeling (review to come, I am sure) and that in addition to some other developments have had me scribbling all weekend, after the kids go to sleep. Running, writing, drawing. All one. All life. All as necessary as caffeine and pain medication.

Podrunner: 142 BPM - A Positive Spin

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 54º
Weather: coolee-cool

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2009 CWRU Inaugural 5K Race

A Case Western Homecoming race in honor of Stephanie Tubbs Jones - and Josh's first 5K!

Distance: 3.1 miles
Temperature: 55º
Weather: overcast & cool - not miserable.

Start: 8:30 am
Time: 00:42.16

I came in dead last. And yet I came in second in the 40-49 age division. I have a medal to prove it.

The important thing is that Josh, who has never run 5 kilometers in his life, nor run any kind of race at all, can longer say that. I am extremely proud of him, and say that he managed the entire thing without worrying me about his physical safety. He wasn't even very flushed. Piece of cake. A walk in the park. A dash around campus.

Way to go, man.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weakly

Weekly it is, weekly it must be. I am fatigued, I yearn for sleep every day, my arms have begun to ache when called for exertion. Not kidding, this is how inactive I am when I do not run.

Having said that, it has been an awesome weekend. I have become wildly motivated, and did an awful lot of housecleaning, rearranging - and instead of wasting time on the Internet, I have placed my sketching materials at arm's reach. When my mind is wandering, I pick up the book and go at it, and then return to useful work.

One major event lately has been the writing of a new script, which you can check up on by visiting my new/old blog. I had one for my play THE VAMPYRES, which fell into disuse when that show closed. As the new play is on a similar topic, I just picked up where I left off.

PODRUNNER: LATEST MIX: 172 BPM - “HEAVEN'S GAIT”

The plan, if there were a plan, was the go through all the PODRUNNER mixes starting from the beginning. I think this was just because I was a fan from the beginning, and needed an excuse to listen to the first mixes. However, at the rate of one run per week, I have been daunted by the idea of ever catching up, and I wanted to hear what they sound like today. Today I used the latest mix, which you can download by clicking on the mix title above.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 45º
Weather: brisk ... yet sweaty.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thank you.

Waking up one weekend morning with a headache is a tragedy, but two smacks of carelessness. It's not fair, excuse me for whining, but there was an awful lot of potential in this weekend and I have had little chance to scratch any of it.

I chalk it up to too little sleep and that damn comforter. I hate being cold, or even cool, but during these transitional months is is necessary for me to sleep as chilly as possible or I begin hibernating. Like a bear. Waking up is like swimming upstream through mucous, fog and dirt.

I struggled through the morning, taking an eventual nap ... and then a run. Finally. A run. And finally I was able to clear my head - the true definition of the word brisk, this run. Lawnmowers, campaign signs, foreclosed houses being restored ...

This year began with a great deal of uncertainty and fear, and I am just talking about here at home. Work, school, community, home and art were all in flux. The solid bond of my marriage and relationship with my children was about all I knew were not going to shift beneath my feet. Moving through my community, which nine months ago seemed on the verge of collapse, along with everything else, alive with activity, with repair and maintenance, having at long last a personal connection with so many of them I had never even seen let alone met before.

It's not Thanksgiving yet. But it feels like it. And right I am so thankful my head doesn't hurt.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Going Concerns (164 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 47º
Weather: as I say, brisk
Weight: 158 lbs.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Remarkable

Friend Tim P. is running the Twin Cities Marathon as we speak. At the halfway point he was keeping a 12 min. mile - very respectable. I could stay in no longer, I needed to get out.

Slight cramp in my right knee partway through, walked for a bit, kept on. Twice a week? Can we shoot for three?

Had an epiphany right at the start, it made my day. That's for all you writers out there, I ran. I wrote, in my head. I will have half a first-draft in good stead in two hours.

How did we spend the morning? Winterizing the house, ending summer, playing. Later I will sketch. This wasn't supposed to be a remarkable day, suddenly it is.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Surge (144 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 55º
Weather: cool, awesome.
Weight: 157 lbs.

UPDATE: Josh pointed out the last sentence of the first paragraph is misleading. He thinks I actually ran the Twin Cities Marathon with Tim - and that I dropped out halfway through. What I meant was, "Tim's effort has impressed me on this cold fall afternoon - I could no longer stay indoors, I needed to get out onto the streets of Cleveland Heights myself."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bitter fruit

Not too impressed with the Pomplamoose cover of Single Ladies. I usually trip on stuff like this - disaffected boy-girls singing atonally. Astrid Gilberto. Tracey Thorn (I take that back, Tracey - you've never been atonal.)

But the way this singer can barely get the word "years" out stretches patience, and the bridge is, let's face it, insulting. "Don't make me sing this part of the song - the lyrics are so bad ..?" Funny with a start the first time you hear it, and then you realize how tedious and repetitive the rest of the recording is. Don't make you sing it? Honey, who asked you to cover Beyoncé anyway except you wanted this to go viral.

These f*cking hipsters.



Now thass more like it.

And News Flash - Cleveland got the 2014 Gay Games! Yay, Cleveland! We're not Detroit! We're not Detroit!

And you know what happens when the Gay Games comes to your town? Everyone turns gay!

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Beats Walking (154 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 54º
Weather: rain
Gear: rain jacket, rain hat, shorts - could have used gloves.

Brisk 6 AM run, the weather ... is hurting me. I love fall, I really do, the kids make every day an adventure - school, soccer, homework, Halloween, just everything. But the cool snap closed my right sinus and last night I was a crippled mess.

I slept from nine until eleven after taking medication, felt much better and then I was up for an hour ... and woke at 3 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. By four I was up and around, cleaning dishes, folding laundry, lulling two children back to sleep, reading Dracula ... the wife did not think a run would be a good idea, but I thought it would be worse not to. I'll be sleepy early, but the air did me massive good. So, I believe, did the rain.

Nice bpm. Really slowed me down enough to miss most of the puddles.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lightning Pains

Distance: 4.25 miles
Weather 69º sunny with big fluffy clouds - gorgeous!

Chunk Style Playlist
Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
Dry County - The B-52s
The Power - Snap!
She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals
Elephants & Flowers - Prince
Party Machine - Hoodoo Gurus
This Corrosion - The Sisters of Mercy

The things about listening to your record collection from a certain era is ... the songs don't change. Funny. I guess that's the point. "There is no other music."

You know when I was younger, I thought he had a point - that today's music (i.e. in the early 80s) is garbage. I have since come to the conclusion that almost everything on The Big Chill soundtrack is pretty facile, too. That's the thing. The movie is a big, dark joke. A lot of people don't get that joke.

Last week I noticed (minor) deep pain on one side of my back, lower back. The wife said it sounded like a hamstring problem. Right side. I always ache on the right side. Right side lower-back, right side below the shoulder blade.

Yesterday night, it was the outside of my right foot. Up through my right calf and into my right thigh - on the outside. The right side is where my meralgia rests.

Why?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Death By Stereo

It's the big uggh today... though not a bad place to have it. Life has afforded little chance to run. Early mornings, late evenings. And worst of all ... I don't want to. Why? Perhaps because the weather has turned. In fact, that may be a big part of it. When it's hot, and I just can't sleep any long at 5 in the morning, well. Let's go!

When it's cool, however, and you were up until 12 midnight folding laundry, drinking bouron and watching Glee on Hulu, and there's a warm body next to yours who also indluges in the snooze bar. Well. Let's not.

Wednesday night, I couldn't sleep, fretting over the CPAC grant, and Friday night I was up late completeing the thing. Waking at five yesterday all I could think was that, before I had the chance to sleep again, I would need to ride through a long day, pack the car and drive four hours to Athens.

But at least then I would be in Athens. And here I am.

The woke woke me long before I chose because he wanted comapny on the front porch. Morning, coffee, front porch, and heavy rain. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Distance: 4.25 miles
Weather 65º and damp

HEALTH IS OUR GREATEST WEALTH! DILUTE! DILUTE! OK!

Pefect run by the Hocking. Cool and cloudy and student-free. I don't know where they all were, 4 pm is pretty late to be in bed with a hangover but I was running past Sotuh Green.

I always run past South Green. In my mind, I am always running past South Green.

I feel the slackening as days go by without a run. I see it. In my belly, my thighs, I can feel my butt just drop. I look in the mirror and appear puffy and old. The pants stop fitting properly - and fast.

Everything in its right place.

Chunk Style Playlist
World In My Eyes - Depeche Mode
Pump Up The Volume - M/A/R/R/S
Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson
Doin Da Butt - Gap Band
Don't Wanna Fall In Love - Jane Child
I Wanna Be a Flintstone - Screaming Blue Messiahs
Higher Ground - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Good Times * - INXS & Jimmy Barnes
House of the Rising Sun - Tracy Chapman
End Of The Line * - Traveling Wilburys

Post-run outdoor shower, last of the season (well, until tomorrow.) Dr. Bronner's, steam whips up, pagan thoughts. Ran into someone from school I hadn't seen inwell, since then. Going on eightteen years. Said he remembered I was quite a player. A Player? Moi? But I spent so much time - my entire life - cultivating a sense of neurotic detachment. I just wanted love and acceptance, it wasn't some kind of hustle, that wasn't me ... was it?

See: "Cultivate." Poor me. Charlie Brown. Introspective. So sexy. Player.

Sorry, my mind is everywhere today. Everywhere and nowhere ... there's a dog here, there's always a dog here, usually more than one. I get serious sinus pain, leads to migraines. I have been fighting this all day. The run helped, big time. And it put me into this place of self-examination ... I mean, it usually does, Jesus, just hit the "Athens" label at the bottom of this entry.

I began smoking (if you do not count the sasfrass leaves we dried and crumbled into rolling papers in fifth grade - that put off real ciagrettes for five years) when I was fifteen. One cigarette a day, on average, for three years. When I left for college, that increased to five a day (on average) until I was almost 33. I was never a chain smoker, but I know there were pack a day periods in school, when I was cartooning.

But let's say, to low-ball it, that's over 30,000 cigarettes. How many days did that strip from my life? If I do not develop some kind of tobacco-related cancer, how much strain did that put on my system, how many days lost? My grandfather lived to be 94. Do I get that? 80 years? 70? Does my running make any difference? Do I get to put days back onto the calendar that I destroyed by inhaling smoke?

There's a more poetic way to put that, I am sure there is. On our way out of town last month, Eva invited Kelly and I for brunch at her place in Brooklyn. We talked about many things, including this play. I made mention of the nytheatre review, where Denton says he does not get why I am running, it's not clear. I mentioned the cigarette thing. Eva thought I should put that in, that that might od the trick.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lucky

Yes, it has taken a week to get another run in. And it has been depressing, or at least it would have been if I had two moments to rub together to be depressed about it.

All summer, I ran. Every day, or at least every other day. I ran to stay alert, confident, positive, healthy, to keep myself firm, taut, to hold headaches at bay, to feel my blood running, to stay alive.

The Saturday morning plan was to rise early. I'd run, she'd write, then I'd write and she would do yoga. But I had longed for rest and I woke with a headache - the weekly Saturday morning headache. I had been struggling to get eight hours the past few nights, which was impossible. Up at 5.00, out by 6.30 - how to get to bed by 9.30? Impossible.

I hit the snooze bar once or twice and then just gave up, I was hating myself. Waste of a weekend morning. Complete waste. The entire weekend was going to be a race to keep up. Nothing would be accomplished, just a lot of running in place.

Last night my wife reminded me of my "tweet" on Friday. Pengo exhales. I just negotiated a summer arts camp, a fringe festival, a block party, and an extended rehearsal period.

The joints do not ache. The knees are good. The head does not ache (not much, not usually.) I am not having a heart attach any time soon. I have support, love, a job I love, ideas for the future. A home, smart kids, a spouse who reminds me of what I have accomplished, and not what I haven't.

Lucky.

Last night I wrote new scene, or rather, completed an old one. I haven't written anything new in what feels like ages. And this morning ... I went out for a run.

Welcome fall!

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Velociraptor (181 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 67º
Weather: light rain, light wind ... and humid
Weight: 158.5 lbs.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Entropy

No show, no race. Why am I running?

Harris' Restorative Elixir

1 quart water
1/4 tsp potassium based salt substitute
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Paintshaker (176 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 71º
Weather: humid
Weight: 158.5 lbs.

176 bpm? I sneer at your 176 bpm.

MASSIVE PROPS to Karl on his Half-Marathon, and Harris on his Four Miler! Let's all get out and run today!

Yay, manic depression!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The best of times

Thanks for all the supportive comments about today's appearance on AROUND NOON. Those of you who missed it can still podcast or stream it from their site.

I misunderstood the run-down of the show, and thought I would be returning to the mic following the performance - as a result, I failed to mention the supporting voices by name. They are actor-teachers from Great Lakes Theater Festival, and had featured appearances in this order:

Nathan Ramos, Annie Hickey, Steve West, Tim Keo and Carrie Williams.

As we did with the radio drama for I HATE THIS, I thought additional voices would provide more context to the reading than just doing it all myself. That doesn't mean it wasn't confusing, but hey, it was live, an experiment, and hopefully fun to listen to. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

The broadcast is worth it for the performances of Joe McBride alone. Heidi Klum has your number, friend.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Techstasy (136 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 65º
Weather: humid
Weight: 158.5 lbs.


Noble to Home


Crappy morning, very difficult to sleep last night, my sinuses plugged up, woke with the origins of a migraine which are still within me - I have a nail in my right eye and a queasy feeling in my stomach - though running cleared my head greatly, I am hoping this is an upward progression ... it is going to be a long, full day. I have work, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and then a rehearsal of my wife's play for the benefit this weekend.

It's our local Father's Walk to School Day, so at 6 AM I drove to my girl's school, parked, ran home (the long way) and will shortly walk her to school before driving to work. The best of times.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

OPEN AIR on "Around Noon"

Listen LIVE tomorrow, Wednesday, September 9 from 12 noon - 1PM (ET) to Around Noon on WCPN 90.3 FM for an interview with me and a short segment from And Then You Die.

... or drop by and watch it in person at the IdeaCenter at Euclid and E. 14th Street downtown. I have pressed a few GLTF actor-teachers into service (thank you - Annie, Carrie, Nathan, Steve and Tim!) in an attempt to make it a bit more radio-interesting. Listen in and see how we do.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Voyager (146 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 70º
Weather: muggy
Weight: 158.5 lbs.

In spite of my protestations of perfect physical shape, I have been distressed by certain complaints the past several days. Why am I still? Why do my legs hurt when I walk? Why are my feet all kinds of achy?

These are normal feelings. I am 41. Hell, I had these complaints twenty years ago. Ha - remember in the winter of 1992, your first educational theater gig, when the pain in your knees was SO BAD you actually used a cane some days? Now THAT'S a wimp!

But having run a five miler the other day, I was reminded of the aches I had last spring, contemplating an NYC marathon attempt. Could I run the five or six miles daily to make another try? No idea. Not then. Not today.

A former co-worker was in the office the other day, volunteering time. Susan. Great to see her. She's think of running a Half Cleveland next May, and I said she should keep me in mind, I may join her. And maybe I will. Why not?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Future Trophy Wife

Yesterday, the sixth day in a row of rehearsal. Exhausted, there is always something to do at night, and preparation in the morning. We started early, the actor-teachers and I, heading to our usual place for fight call - and expanded fight call this morning, as we would be learning how to execute a basic sword fighting workshop for the R&J and MACBETH residencies.

Our “usual place” is at Chester & 18th Street, on the CSU campus, a simple, landcsaped lawn next to a parking garage and the urban affairs building, where Billie Lawless’s notorious sculpture THE POLITICIAN: A TOY was relocated earlier this year. Wheels constantly turning, mouth moving open and closed, groaning metal on a large, pencil-shaped axle, the sun shining, the lawn bouncy and soft ...

What an awesome place to be! In the middle of Cleveland! I took a look around as all four teams switching fighting partners, and thought, this is a good place to be!

Rehearsal let out a little early, I joined my wife and the kids at a wedding reception at Gordon Square. And then ... well, was I joing to check out the revival of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at the Hi-Fi that night at 10? Marian offered to drive, you know.

Photo:Hedwig in 2001.

HEDWIG was dynamite at CPT in 2001. It was epic, Dennis had put together and tight band (how could he otherwise) Ali was Yitzhak, and the woman herself came in the form of diminutive, wide-faced Dan Folino at the beginning of his career - age 23.

I love that play, we had both been fans since we saw the movie in August that year, the stage show was even better - I mean, as a stage show its better, I am not going to make a comparison between Mitchell and Folino. In spite of its comedy, camp, acidic tone, Hedwing’s tale of hope and disappointment, of love and loss and discovery, this search to love yourself - combined with an amazing collection of really excellent songs - it is a tremendous undertaking.

In the wrong hands, however, I am sure this show could be an unlistenable disaster, hateful and mean and useless. The original CPT company made it look effortless.

A huge success, it was revived the following holiday season ... where it was not, I understand, a huge success. Repetition can sometimes go that way. And in spite of constant comparisons, HEDWIG is not ROCKY HORROR. It isn’t dumb enough. Take it as a compliment, there are no moments in ROCKY HORROR where you want to cry in sympathy, overwhelmed by tremendous beauty and passion.

I was worried about this new production, really. I had no doubt it would be executed as well as the original, but would I ... care? It’s been a long time. It’s like THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL - that was great in 1994. I am no longer in that place.

The differences were immediate. We are no longer in the cavernous, historic Gordon Square Theatre, we are in a club, a bar, really, with a stage. The “set” is hidden. There are projections, and surprise “hydraulics” at the end (sorry - spoiler alert) but it is a rock show in its natural setting. And it makes a startling difference.

Instead of being separted by the apron of a massive stage, Hedwig is right in front of you. I had encoruaged some new actor-teachers who had attended not to sit in the back - but to sit in front of me - in the first row! A great deal of the jokes were delivered right to them, or Hedwig’s asides based on audience reaction were delivered to them. They got sweat on a lot, too. I was worried they might get beer split on them, but so what if they did?

Intimacy ... from the first moment, when the band walked on it was different. Ali restaged this version and she gets a great deal of the benefit from the new setting. as the largely non-verbal Yitzhak, she doesn’t need to make faces as grandly as she did in the big theater, she has the opportunity to be subtle. They both do, with each other. The aggression which was so obvious in the first version is so much more realistically painful here.

And Dan himself, now 31 ... he has admitted he didn’t really understand a lot of Hedwig’s journey first time out. At 23? You kidding? No surprise there. He told me it was all due to Lester Shane’s direction that he was able to fake it back then as well as he did. But he gets it now, I was astonished. Apart from what I might call the mature connection to the story he has now, I was fascinated by the transformation his Tommy Gnosis has taken. I mean, WICKED LITTLE TOWN is my favorite song in the show (undercut in the film by the weird lip-synch Michael Pitt does of Steven Trask’s vocals) but eight years ago it was all high-gloss, which may have been intentional. Hedwig does make it clear what she thinks of Gnosis’ style and abilities.

But then, that’s her take. Maybe he is deep and talented, and this where we get to understand that. And maybe they are the same person. And maybe that’s another reason to dig so deep for that song.

You have four more weekends. If you are within a two hundred mile radius, you have the rare opportunity to experience not only a legendary theaterical performance - but one that has actually improved with time.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Lifter (156 BPM)

Distance: 6.15 miles

Spending the night at Mom & Dad's. Running Lakewood. Saw a 12 year-old girl on a bike sporting a black T-shirt reading FUTURE TROPHY WIFE.

Hands up, who thinks that's funny?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Number Five

Show Business Weekly review

I had five reviewers for the FringeNYC run, and four reviews ... until today. I was hoping it would not be a downer, a kick-on-the-way-out review. It's not. It's good! Just what I needed this week.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Radiant Dark (166 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 71º
Weather: warm. luke warm. tepid.
Weight: 153 lbs.

Jesus! Running at night just makes me INSANE. The other night - I don't know if you could tell from the entry - I was a little looped. Running through the dark, after dusk, through town, few people on the streets, listening to white-noise techno, it's like I am a small man trapped inside the head of a relentless jogger, peering through his eyes, not mine, jostling around, screaming forward, not stopping, heart racing, throat burning, thoughts flying non-stop to everywhere.

Tonight was like that, too. Time for mommy and me to drink pure bourbon and watch GREEN WING.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Alopecia

FringeNYC Announces Excellence Awards

Congratulations, people! It was a tremendous festival, I only wish I could have caught more of these shows.

Must get new Calvin Harris disc. Maybe. Not crazy about what I have heard, but come on. It's Calvin Harris.

Big thought the other night. My scalp. I asked my wife if she was aware of her scalp, if it plays a big part in her life, and she had to admit that no, it does not. But mine does, I have my hands on it a lot. It is like a part of my body, as much as the back of my neck, my shoulders or the small of my back. It is bare, exposed. It becomes tense, it can be very sensitive. Often it can require a massage, and I am so happy when it does.

I have a naked scalp and you do not. I pity you.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Epinephrine (Repurposed) (173 BPM)

Distance: 5.15 miles
Temperature: 61º
Weather: cool ... and perfect
Weight: 156 lbs.

Crazy. Cool and dark. A nighttime run. That's what time of year it is, and welcome back. I couldn't only go 3 miles - even though my tank feels empty, which is not for lack of food, but energy. I am exhausted, work keeps me at it, but it is so challenging (actor-teacher word!) to sit all day and direct and coach others, especially after so many weeks - months, really - of being on my feet all day long, moving, acting, talking, working it.

It is cool and dark. Sixty degrees. My mind was racing - DeOreo asked me to do a guest spot of AROUND NOON next Wednesday, to debrief on the Fringe. Sure, why not. He also wants seven or eight minutes from the show, and I am trying to think of what to do which will entertain.

I will conclude where I began. A year ago I did a gig in the DARK ROOM, and shared the run across Cleveland. This I also performed last New Year's Eve. It goes over well. Clevelanders love it.

But wait, this is radio! Can I include additional voices? I mean, having my high school teacher's voice pop in will sound odd, confusing (it is during the actual performance, too) so why not have someone else play him? Or my wife?

Hmm. Hmnn. Running and thinking, running and thinking.

Cool.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall

Must do final reports on the Fringe run, make connections, correspondence, etc. I was waiting until the Fringe was officially over to take care of these things, and I am still settling into the routine here, even after a week. It has been one crazy summer.

And it is over. There will be more warn days, sure, but come on. The block party my wife has been organizing came off last night like a big, successful block party-like thing. People who share the same street and have never spoken to each other were line dancing to The Cupid Shuffle in front of my house.

Then just as abruptly, the clouds burst open (today, not yesterday, last night was perfect for a street party) the temperature dropped and the miniature golf we had planned needed to be shelved. Bam. Autumn.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 I had knee surgery. That was a very trying time, very emotional. I worried I would never run again. You wouldn't know it these days, I run all the time. No complaints, no worries. I do not know what will break down next. I felt so old then, incapacity makes me feel old. Performing at the Fringe made me feel young. It's all about action, I imagine.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Glidepath (133 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 56º
Weather: cool
Weight: 157.5 lbs.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Inarticulate


Ah ... the skunks of Euclid Heights Blvd.

The differing shapes of my body. How do I lose weight, when I lose weight? Not just through exercise, as they tell us in the media these days (as if we didn't already know this) but through diet. A good diet. And a smaller diet, a more compact diet, made up of better things.

Of course, I do not eat a good diet. When I was in New York for ten days, I must have had several hamburgers and at least one hot dog. I ate better on the cruise.

Jesus. I ate WAY better on the cruise.

Last fall, I had knee surgery. Recovering from that involved an hour of exercise every morning. While I was in New York, I was schlepping palettes of water around, I can still feel that in my shoulders and in my chest.

Impending fall. The glory of winter. I am looking forward to the cooler days, and the cooler runs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Body Language (163 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 64º
Weather: cool & humid
Weight: 154 lbs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I feel numb

BLOGROLLING: the nytheatre i
What they have to say about me, talking about them.

Headphones fragged my last day in New York. First my camera, then my headphones. You know which is more important. Those headphones lasted, I believe, more than two years. Not bad considering the kind of wear they receive. And sweat. Wear and sweat.

I ran most day I was in NYC - thanks to Harris. Some days I would not have gone, except he was, that was major encouragement. And then there was the walking. I had not run since last Saturday, and I can tell. Yes, I have gotten scant sleep - but I had less in New York. I survived summer camp this year by getting up at 5 AM. To run.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 66º
Weather: cool ... and humid
Weight: 155 lbs.

My 2009 Summer
Halo (159 bpm) - Beyoncé
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Holiday Road - Lindsey Buckingham
Floaties (163 bpm) - Mark Storen
96,000 - In the Heights soundtrack
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas
Can't Get You Outta My Head - Kylie Minogue
This Must Be the Place - Miles Fisher

Let's see if that makes me feel any better.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Everywhere I'm looking now I'm surrounded by your embrace

Home.

An uneventful drive home, which is nice. I have more to say about this year's Fringe, which in many ways was my favorite to date. But for now I need to connect with Toni, settle in and go to sleep. Tomorrow, the great work begins ... again.

Closing


Following yesterday morning's run, I walked all the way back downtown for the final performance. I feel as though, in the past few days, I have gotten worse at standing up for myself and not better. A guy at a juice bar misunderstood me and made me a juice instead of smoothie ... and I let him. Then something in this juice seriously disagreed with me and I began to have ... digestion problems. Like, a half-hour before the show. It's not a show I want to do with the sh*ts.

I'm sorry, what is the show anyone wants to do with the sh*ts? Maybe Jean Genet's The Sh*ts. In any case, once the performance started, in spite of my exhaustion, dehydration, and physical distress, everything went according to plan. There were 14 people in the audience, not that I expect any different on a Saturday at 2 PM, and the response was as warm this day as for any other performance.

In general, more than in general, by large, the audiences were engaged and interested, and they laughed. It was enjoyable presenting this show.

My first partner from GLTF, Mariah came into town to catch the show, and she and her husband Bruce and I went to get me a plate of pasta after the show. It has been years and years since I have had the chance to catch up with her.

Then I found out my camera is dead. Sigh. The pictures I have taken are fine, but it won't take any new ones. Hmn.

And so I was on my own to decide how to spend this last night in New York before heading home today. The plan was to cram as many shows into one evening as possible, but I was demoralized by the first one I saw. More an AEA workshop production than anything else, I was stunned by the amount of people who attended this one-act, which included polished acting, clever dialogue, the potential for conflict, or horror, or revelation, but instead just ended abruptly at 50 minutes. I only attended this show because I knew it was short and it fit into the schedule, by the description I was not expecting much. But I did get caught up in the story so it was even more distressing when it ended with not a bang but with that whisshing sound that came out of the air mattress as I put it away this morning.

So instead of seeing another show, I needed company so I called Kelly and she watched me eat a burger (A REALLY GOOD BURGER) at the Tavern on Jane (hey - check out the first photo on the website, that is exactly where we sat!) Mariah told me she was going to see a show today, one written by an old colleague, PEACE WARRIORS. A bit of kitchen sink, the tangled lives of progressive, academic Jews.

By then it was past midnight, and in spite of my better judgement, I decided to say farewell to Kelly and Sam and make my way to FringeCENTRAL. It was "international night" and Owen and Mark both said they would be there, and so they were. I got to say a proper good-bye to a number of people - I was charmed that Charlie gave me a shout-out from the stage during the show, I think they were saluting the people who didn't just come to drink at 11 PM but actually stayed to be engaged in the variety show.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, you may FINALLY enjoy the podcast from last Saturday night's VPR. I have not listened to them yet, but I am assuming you will find Mark Storen performing Stab U in the first half and my performance in the second half ... which for some reason is not yet online. Not that I could use it to promote my show now, anyway.

I felt a definite sense of sadness that I had no reason to hand any of the people I ran into last night postcards for ATYD. In fact, I didn't have any, I made a point of taken the packet of cards I still had - maybe 50 cards - and putting them in the trash. I do not need them. I have some archive copies at home, and I successfully managed to distribute almost 2,500 cards. At four different fringe festivals, I have never divested myself of nearly that number. I did everything one (or one person with a friend) possibly could.

We pack up today, bid a fond farewell to Allison, the Venue Director from God, and then over to Brooklyn for a picnic with Eva Dean before hitting the road. Hopefully we will be home shortly after dark.

Thanks, NY Fringe. That was a good time.

Curtain Up review

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Criticism


AYTD is a work-in-progress. I have changed words here and there since the Fringe began. And I intend the alter it even further. I don't think it needs to be 80 minutes long. During the BIG BOX rehearsal process, I was kicking out long pieces of exposition. After BIG BOX I got the impression that the NY Marathon pieces were too long, they were difficult to say while running, and besides, we got it, Pengo - move on.

I also got the impression that people wanted more of Pengo, of the illustrator, of the relationships - I did not add to those, I cut the running bits so we could get back to them.

The reviews I have received here have been extremely helpful. Believe me, I am not just saying that. Some comments I find difficult to take seriously - TONY said (in addition to numerous extremely kind and positive things) "a virtual run through Cleveland goes nowhere." But when nytheatre.com adds "Segments about how he trained for the race, especially his final preparatory run, from his own home on one side of greater Cleveland, to his parents house across town, are similarly fascinating," it is easy to dismiss such comments outright. HOWEVER, I do believe I did not do an adequate job with the Cleveland run on opening night - when TONY was in the audience. And that has changed the way I have done it in subsequent days. That's a lesson, too.

As to the rest of the nytheatre.com review, Martin Denton states very clearly; "What I wanted was to understand why running is so fundamentally important to Hansen. But this show never really gets us to that place." This is extremely important to me, and I take it to heart. Denton's review was very carefully critical, like I was receiving feedback from a member of the Play House Playwrights Unit, or a teacher, or a friend.

What he never does in his review is get clever, add humor for its own sake, write with condescension ... it is as though he cares. And Martin Denton is, by the way, the founder of nytheatre.com. That's who they (he) sent to my show. Time Out New York sent Michael Freidson, the editor-in-chief. Both sites are trying to cover all 201 shows. I am flattered. And I really feel this trip has been worth everything.

Final

Car-Free Streets to 440 Lafayette

Distance: 6.2 miles
Weather: Overcast and HUMID

So we begin, so we conclude. Only this time instead of Beyonce I had Harris with me. That's okay, too.

Coming home I hit up the in-line skate booth for a free AMP. Why do I drink those things? More sweet, spiced coffee, and a big, sweaty slog up and down Park Avenue. Last week it was brighter, sunny, not muggy. Doesn't matter. Great run. Good time.

The Fab Marquee review "David Hansen's story will have you dusting off your sneakers and running to make a change in your life."

Working backward ...

My 7-Day Metrocard expired at midnight. I guess we are about done here.

Took Andrew, his wife Amy, Missy, Gina Gigi and the whole crew to FringeCLUB tonight. Oops. That was awkward. Last week I guess it were only the Fringe faithful who showed up, a pleasant number of people who were up for a great variety show.

Tonight the joint was packed with hipsters aching to line-jump, and double-fist their bracelets for free Tanqueray. I was in line for over a half-hour, and by that time Andrew and Amy needed to be off. Missy hung out thought, and I was a little dismayed at how few people were interested in watching the show, chatting through everyone's performance.

Prior to that I had show #4 - the biggest attended show I have ever had in NYC. 22 people. My grand total now is 67 audience members, which already outdoes my meager 2004 attendance level of 48. That was everyone who saw I HATE THIS in New York.

It was a very good show, though I did have one of my massively amusing malapropisms tonight, where I described how my wife passed a cantaloupe with a boy the size of a head through her vagina. That's her day job. In Thailand.

I finally began seeing people who I did not know in the audiences today, a lot of them tonight (though Brian D. was there, too, thank you!)

Kelly and Sam told me after the earlier gig that they were going to check out Mark Storen at 6.15 so I broke one of my long-standing rules and saw a Fringe show twice (okay, I saw DSG twice, too) because I figured hey, when I am going to be visiting Perth any time soon? I picked a CD, too - so Josh, you are gonna get the full treatment!

I had borscht at Veselka for a snack between shows, talking bidness with someone Lee at home hooked me up with, a U.S. boy named Darren who's now an NYC theater pro.

The first show of the day filled me with big dread, I just didn't know if I had the stamina for a double run today. And yet, it was the best performance of the run, I think. Maybe. It felt good. And there was a lot of Fringey love in the audience as we were joined by Owen - and Michael from the shows DOLLS and ABE LINCOLN. I didn't get to meet him, but I did chat up his dads outside HERE and again before I saw his solo performance yesterday. I guess they dragged him there today, that was very sweet and I hope they all liked the show.

The reason I was so depressed was partially because I had spent so much time walking around downtown in the 90 degree heat, shopping for the kids. I was unhappy with my lunch selection and arrived at 440 feeling drained, spent, miserable, and just damn sleepy. I guess everything turned out all right.

For those who missed it:

TIME OUT NEW YORK review

nytheatre.com review


Critic-O-Meter (not a review - a compendium of other reviews, interesting)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yep.

Central Park Run
Distance: 3.5 miles
Weather: HUMID

I have two shows today. I got maybe six hours of sleep. I just ran 3.5 miles in deep humidity. I am insane.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In Review

Live blogging from the Swift on 4th Street ...

Running with Harris this morning was a thrill. He asked if I wanted to do a shorter route, or if I wanted to do the northern route, and I was like, hey! I have nothing else to do, hells yes I want the northern route! I have to run, to feel good. Every day. I am addicted. It's a fact.

In the afternoon, Kelly joined me to see Michael Phillis' DOLLS. We'd met Michaels dads outside ALBGDP on Tuesday night, and they told us about him and the fact that he was not only in ABE LINCOLN, but that he had his own solo performance about, well, dolls. There is something about meeting a guy's parents that makes you need to see their work.

And it is a delightful show - he's really good. Very funny, and more than funny. Very talented and a highly enjoyable hour, he really works well with a close, intimate crowd - and I am so glad we got in, it was very well attended.

Speaking of which ... my show had a smaller audience than last night. Thirteen audience members. And I knew pretty much every one of them. I had cousins from Philadelphia who came in, and from New Hampshire. Tracey came from BARGAINS & BLOOD, parents of my children's friends, and even the professional actor son of one of my favorite English teachers from high school. And Eva Dean and maybe one or two people I did not know at all.

And it went much better than last night - much more relaxed, very comfortable with my story. It went very well ... though I am a little daunted. I mean, if everyone I know came tonight ... what hope do I have of complete strangers showing up? And believe me, short of throwing a lot of money at the problem, I have worked so hard to get people to attend. Met a lot of folks, handed out a lot of cards, there is little else I can do.

Afterwards, we went to this bar, where I still sit with the remnants of this evening's party (Harris, Sam & Kelly) and had a big hurrah when the word came in on everyone's smart phones that WE HAVE A REVIEW.
Time Out New York
**** [FOUR STARS] David Hansen’s autobiographical one-man show, about his lifelong obsession with long-distance running, is a simple and tragic yet reaffirming tale, told earnestly and with minimal poetics. There’s no irony, no wacky AV visuals, no Fringe Festy Negro spirituals in space: how refreshing to be touched by something real. Better known as Pengo, Hansen is a Harvey Pekar–like cartoonist (his well-reviewed graphic novel is titled I Hate This), living in Cleveland with his wife and two children; after a family tragedy, he’s inspired to run the New York Marathon. Onstage, he re-creates that race, interweaving it with flashbacks from his youth (fat dad), teens (awkward first kiss), twenties (joblessness) and thirties (obesity, depression). But despite the hardships it details, And Then You Die is no downer: We hear about Hansen’s rebounds, too, and his emotionally—and, at times, physically—naked performance balances the pathos with high energy. According to my watch, the piece clocks in at 75.3 minutes, about 15 minutes longer than its goal time; a virtual run through Cleveland goes nowhere, as do a few when-I-was-young memories. But the heart is always there. At one point, his daughter asks Hansen if he’s going to “win the marathon.” No matter what happened in the race, kid, trust me: Your dad’s a winner.—Michael Freidson, editor-in-chief

Awesome.

Park Life

Today's Central Park Run
Distance: 5.1 miles
Weather: HUMID

Headed out to the Delacorte the hand postcards to people waiting to see THE BACCHAE. Why wasn't I doing that all week, duh.

Man, there were a lot of trees knocked down the night before, the clean-up in the park is astonishing. Harris took me the northern route, I'd never run up there before. Passed a huge, great looking public pool. That looked really good.

Your SM report


SM here:

Another full day in NYC.

Josh and I went to see POWERHOUSE. Really good. REALLY good. We almost didn't get in because it was close to sold out when we arrived 5 minutes before they started selling the tickets. (Made me jealous, but they did advertise puppets.) Then we saw it. The only bad thing I have to say about it was the music cues were too loud and some of the dialogue was lost. But in the end it didn't matter. Good acting, strong physical work and puppets! Really good puppets. If you are able to see any shows - other than ours - see this one. If you're from Cleveland and need an idea of what this is, think Theater Ninjas.

And speaking of ninjas... the other show we saw was SCATTERED LIVES, which is in the same space we're at. It was fun. Samurai sword play. That's all I need to say. Love it.

Oh. And we opened.

I'm so proud of our little play. Mama's got some tears in her eyes!!! Yes, Dave was nervous. Yes, I had been feeling like I was going to throw up at various points the last few days. But we did it, and I think we did it well. Set-up and break-down went smooth. Slide cues were great. Sam (one of our crew members that could only join us for the first time tonight) threw herself into everything brilliantly. And I only messed up one light cue. And hell if I didn't do too bad with the light design. Dave was good. He was even better when he relaxed. The show works the best when he responds to the audience responding to him.

So here's to 4 more shows!

Opening

Okay. Did that.

Spent the day in relaxation mode - which was a f***ing chore, let me tell you. I went the familiar places. After recovering from a potential migraine, and running with Harris, I took my time cleaning up and went to the Met. I saw my regular playlist of attractions, but that has epanded over the years. I find myself more engaged in the avante garde painters of the early 20th century and with the modern wing than with the Medieval or the Impressionists.

But some places must be visited, if only to say hello. I took my traditional trip to the roof to get the most expensive beer in New York, take in whatever weird installation they have on there and gaze at the tops of buildings and trees. But the 90 degree weather is particularly impressive up there and in spite of my best intentions I am developing an urban farmer's tan.

Lunch was Indian food at Bathesda Terrace and back to the apartment for another nap. Indulgence! Eventually I made my way downtown to print up "People's Choice" ballots for the programs (don't see many other acts including those in their programs) and handing out more bottled water with ATYD labels on them. The crowd seeing SCATTERED LIVES weren't as impressed with them, though Josh and Kelly were impressed by that show.

And my show? Well, I had a show. We had 17 folks in the audience, including Gina, Joanna and Eileen from home, and Mark Storen and his crew, plus critis from Show Business Weekly and Time Out New York - who promise to review every show in the Fringe for the online edition.

I was a little tense at first but nothing to be ashamed of. Kelly says I relaxed 3/4 of the way through, which is better than not at all. I think it has a lot to do with the running scenes ... I get concerned that if I am too loosey-goosey I get sloppy. But I also nail the words. Who can tell?

I hope numbers pick up from there, I can say I am already on track to improve overall attendance over the 2004 run of I HATE THIS, which in spite of everything, received a grand total of 48 audience members. That's total, all five shows.

Two people who said they know members of the company bought tickets at quarter til, went out to get pizza, and were shocked to return and discover that the Fringe really does enforce the NO-LATE SEATING POLICY. I don't know who they were yet, but apparently (unless you are going to see Owen Dara) this rule will be ruthlessly carried out.

So if you are planning to attend - please do not be late!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

migraine WIN!

That was a close one. Last night was late one, again, and the power was out in the apartment. Max is three and gets up early and he is a delightful, lively boy who wakes me up. I have kids, this is not alien to me. But the circumstances are different, I am camping in the living room, it's hot, there is little escape. And I was very, very tired.

Josh called at 7.30 to announce their train finally arrived in Park Slope at 2.30 AM. They would not be joining us for an 8 am run. Seriously? That's a shame. Now excuse me, I think I need to vomit because I have migraine coming on.

Pain relievers, a shot of coffee, a dark room, and more sleep. I woke an hour and a half later later feeling better, with plans in my head to hit the art museum. There was no way, in spite of my desire, to go running on this, opening day.

Only Harris was at that moment heading out. To run. Wait! I joined him.

Distance: 3.4 miles
Temperature: 74º

Central Park. A lot of people out at 9.30 AM, running, biking, walking. Lots of shade, it is humid, to be sure. Huge storm last night, lots of large branches and even whole trees knocked down. Incredible. But it is a bright sunny day, and I got my run in. NOW, I am headed to the museum.

We have been here for only a little over half our stay. And yet, it hasn't happened yet. I feel confident in my success ... in handing out postcards. Now I actually have to perform. Oh. That's right. THAT'S why I am here.

NINA

Spent the late morning dozing, did some housework, took it easy. Left in the mid-afternoon to see Owen Dara's WHITE HORSE: AN IRISH CHILDHOOD.

I can't say why, for sure ... but I hate Irish drama. There were greats, to be sure, but recent efforts all seem to be pale homages to the originals. And they all have a common theme.

Whining. In that accent.

Maybe it's because I'm British. But shoot the fook oop.

I think it was the first time I saw DANCING AT LUGHNASA, and wanted to stab myself. The jigs and reels! The poverty! The beatings! The absent fathers, the incest and the drink, drink, drink!

I am not saying I hate the Irish. I hate the plays. Perhaps plural is too generous, because they all sound the same to me.

Of course, I am sharing all of this racist business because of Owen. We met him at the VPH on Saturday, and I was honestly surprised by his act, I didn't expect stand-up. And I laughed, we all did.

Photo: Owen and I sharing a tender moment last Saturday night.

His story follows some of the familiar line - he does comment on it, and play against it, and sometimes not - but it is the story he tells, and the way he tells it that made it my favorite show I have seen at FringeNYC so far this year. Very charming, very funny, and touching. Someone's story that is well worth the hearing. Even in that accent.

I had arrivied prior to the show with more ATYD labeled bottles of water. People really talk that shit up.

Liz and Harris threw a lovely little dinner party here, their friends and Josh and Kelly came and we had pot roastand there were lots of pregnancy stories (two pregnant ladies inna house) and then J&K & I headed to hand out postcards at the smash hit of the festival - and it only just opened! We met with outgoing audience members of ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY, and chatted up our show. And I do not believe, no one else was there passing out cards.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Okay, that's it.

Bed at midnight, up at 6 AM to walk ten blocks to the CBS headquarters for a crowd spot on the EARLY SHOW.

Not exactly prepared, I figured it would not hurt to show up and hand out postcards. I had an ATYD T-shirt on (not washed) which basically made me look like some guy, not an actor. Especially when I had actors from THE DOCTOR AND THE DEVILS in period costumes standing around me, dude from 6 SECONDS IN CHARLACK with his shirt off, and a giant nose from MAY-DECEMBER WITH THE NOSE AND CLAMMY getting a lot of, uh, face time.

I did get my hands on a FRINGE sign, and the folks from THE DOCTOR ... were kind enough to let me use a marker, so I did my best block lettering to write the URL of this site - which I am sure was entirely illegible.

Standing. On the pavement. For two and a half hours. The people were all nice, but my back hurts. A lot. My show opens tomorrow. I have had less than optimum sleep. I am making an executive order and telling the entire cast of my show (that's me) to stay home, rest, don't talk, and drink lots of fluids.

BTW - Everyone needs to see Jessica Manuel in THE ANTARCTIC CHRONICLES. I will explain why later.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Represent

Entered the Spring Street station last night to head home. Dude with a rhythm guitar and a drum machine struck up Grazin' In The Grass. He got a dollar. Play my song, get a dollar. Cowbell or no cowbell.

Walked past John Oliver on Saturday afternoon. Played it cool, just smiled. Half a block later I said, "Aw, sh*t! I should have given him a postcard!"

This morning Harris and I invited He-Who-Hates-New York to join us for a run in Central Park. I will leave it to Josh as whether he enjoyed it or not.

After, I sat in Washington Square Park, had a hot dog and a Pepsi and ran lines.

Tech was, all things considered, smooth. Tempers were even, communication was good, we got a run in (that was a nice change from previous festivals) and our Venue Director, Allison, is the hands-down shizzyizit.

I had bought a flat of 24 bottles of water at KMART because they were cheap. And then I realized this would be the only time I could see THE APERTURE ... which was at Bank & West Avenue in the FAR West Village. I schlepped them all the way there, gave them ATYD labels and handed them out to happy audience members. Said "hi" to Heather afterwards and met Isaiah. It isa very interesting show and they both do such a good job, there's one more show on Wed. if you can make it.

Then back across town to Dixon Place. I dropped postcards as many places I could on the way, including at Cherry Lane where a show had just let out. Everyone was chatting, there was a big crowd outside the theater, I think there was a lot of press there.

And that was when I noticed ... I feel like I am the only who labors in the old-fashioned fringe-style of handing out cards at other peoples' shows. I don't know what's up with that but I am the only person I see doing that. Maybe I am just in all the odd places at odd times, I dunno.

Onto BARGAINS & BLOOD (HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOME SHOPPING) to see Tracey G. perform for my first time since she left Cleveland, almost 15 years ago. She was tremendous, the whole cast was great fun.

The show falls into John Waters-style theater, trashy people being trashy (and one sweetheart.) So I have seen one of those, a socio-political drama, a singing cabaret and an evil clown show. I am just WAILING on the Fringe theater this time around.

The only thing missing is naked people.

It went so well I almost cried

Really. I almost did. Several times. Considering the nightmare that 2001 was wrangling what felt like 100 teenagers in 100 degree heat and 120% humidity, and the tech hell that was I HATE THIS, I was expecting a fire-y inferno. (The redundancy proves how much I was expecting disaster.) I was sitting up in the booth creating light cues as Dave performed below, gamely acting on, as I went back and forth with lights. And damn if we didn't hit the show at an hour twenty exactly!!!!! YEEEHAAA!!!!!

I still feel like crying a little. But that could be because I'm PMSing on top of everything.

Ok. Now I start crossing the fingers for opening.

Josh and I saw STATE OF UNDRESS tonight with Sabrina. The consensus was "adorable... with titties." It's a burlesque show with a story line. Heart-warming. Titillating. Very pretty women. It cracked me up that all the people in the first 5 rows were men by themselves. Not even a two or three together. Just a bunch of men that all showed up. Funny enough (not really), it was the women who reacted to the stripping the most.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Drunk & Battery


This is the first time in several night I have been in a home, anyone's home, before 1 AM. It is wildly relaxing.

The fact is, yesterday jes' plain whupped me. Harris woke me at 6.30 - the plan was to drop postcards at both the starting and finish lines of the NYC Half Marathon. The gun was to go off at Central Park (two blocks way) at 7 AM. Guess we were going to miss that. And me with only three hours of sleep.

We got to Battery Park for the finish around 8.30, with only a few elite runners having crossed the finish line already. As the finishers began trickling in, we handled to two major entrances to the post-race festivities and handed cards to dazed runners and their confused family members and supporters.

At Fringe events, they know why you are handing them cards. Here, it was like handing them out on the street. In New York. "Who the f*** are you?" Only not quite. No one was rude. Some brightened up when I said, "When I ran the New York City Marathon!" Others gave us the brush off until we said, "New York Fringe Festival!" and then they changed face and said, "Oh, cool!" and took a card.

We must have handed out almost 300 cards - and to a non-traditional audience! Yay alternative marketing exercise!

One guy listened to my pitch, and then had one of his own. "This half marathon sucked!" he confided, and then went on the kvetch about the water stops. Harris had asked me whether it were better to run an entire marathon in perfect, cool weather - or to run 13.1 miles in this humidity. I think they'd all rather have gone the distance.

Some were impressed by the idea of a show like this. Some thought the title was a little inappropriate. Me with the uplifting show titles.

After I headed to Brooklyn for a production meeting with Kelly, Josh and Sabrina at a diner in Park Slope. Sabrina is our Authorized Company Representative and she has been amazing, she is really on top of things, and her communication with the FringeNYC people has been going extremely well. We tech tomorrow and she went over a lot of issues which left me feeling calm and confident about what we have to do tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I was also two night's sleep-deprived, and fading horribly. As Leah was getting ready to leave town for a week and I was already in Brooklyn, she invited me over to hang out while she tidied up and packed, and I got to see her place in Bed-Stuy, and even close my eyes for a little bit.

Heading back to the Village, I decided to see one of my favorite acts from the night before at the VPH, live from Australia, MARK STOREN'S A DRUNKEN CABARET. This man is drop-dead hilarious, and charming and his show is great fun. It is a shame that the bar at the CSV was closed tonight - and I did have enough time to get something from across the street. I do not know if A DRUNKEN CABARET is funnier drunk, but I was willing to learn.

When the podcast for last night's even goes online, you have got to listen to the love song he sings - it went over even better last night than it did at this evening's performance. Because, you know. We were drunk.

So, no. I passed out no cards at Fringe shows today ... but we did a great job this morning, which, like most mornings the past few days, feels like years ago.

As it is every time we come

Stage Manager here.

Every time I come to SM a show in New York, something happens to make me stress the hell out. It doesn't help when you travel with Dave and Josh. When I think of calming presences, it's not them. (I love you, gentlemen, but you're not.)

So after trying to tie-up ends for another show I am stage managing before I go, get my house ready so it isn't infested when I come back, deal with two of my family's dogs dying in a week and having to schedule a production meeting the afternoon I have to go to NY, I'm not in a good place.

Then New Jersey happens. Dave has chronicled that enough. I will not add in my two cents.

But yesterday went well - I think. Dave might beg to differ, but we have gotten a good response from the other artists in the Fringe we've met so far. And going to the events we did yesterday, I have cemented my decision on some of the shows I now have to see.

We had a "production meeting" today with Sabrina. I feel prepared for tomorrow's tech. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed just in case. I need everything to go smoothly.