Winging Away

As promised (see


), the Aviary is moving. I had my personal and aspirational reasons for doing so, which have lately been enhanced by some intuition about how Google will be handling their online offerings over the next few years. To wit: They will consolidate. Maybe this only means Blogger will become part of the G+ fold, maybe it means it will be replaced in lieu of a quicker, lighter posting platform. It's not for me to say, but when you add this belief to the priority of gathering myself under one domain, they only choice left is to pack up and move.

I'm a sentimental sort. Even something as pragmatic and insubstantial as changing a blogging platform gives me pause to reflect. We've had some times, haven't we...?


...Whew! Thank goodness you happened to have a meat craving and unlatch this freezer locker, otherwise we would've frozen to death any minute now, for sure!

(You've no idea how much I relish that

Three's Company

reference. Enough, shall we leave it said, to actually [if but casually] cite my reference.)

Mostly I think about many of the themes expressed in my

No, YOU Tell It!

contribution (see


[-22]/13). Themes such as idealism, naïveté and self-control; growth and transformation; choice and chance. I hesitated to start this here 'blog. The notion of essentially "journaling" at that particular stage of my life and in such a public fashion bothered me for several reasons. It would be revealing, it would be eventually (though hopefully not quickly) outdated, it would be time-consuming, it would be kind of permanent in a new way. In particular, I was aware it meant I couldn't hide or lie very effectively anymore.

That suggests that I was some kind of flagrant and deceptive con artist, and I was not. I was, however, a young actor struggling to make it all work. So I'd say I lied as much as the next struggling young actor, trying to make it all work. My hat's off to those amongst you who found a way to struggle more honestly. I had a sheaf of ready-made lies and excuses for my work, my relationships, and of course myself. Writing it all down in a public journal would make me accountable. What I was surprised to rapidly realize was that I liked being held accountable.

I am embarrassed -


embarrassed - by old diaries. These are documents no one can ever read but me, yet all I can see in them is shame for how naïve or blind I was. They seem like records of ignorance, like I always manage to catch myself when I'm stuck or in-between discoveries. Somehow, having an audience for my diary helped me to grow through writing it. To capture my ignorance, yes, but also the realizations and growth that came about out of that blindness. I'm quite grateful for that. It wasn't what I intended.

What I intended was to grab a little corner of the Internet that I could personally impact (as opposed to my then-new, contracted website) and, out of that decision, eventually to create a record of the struggle to live a meaningful life. I suppose it was the twin goals of meaning and honesty that led me to where I am - meaning by purpose, honesty by accident.

This is not the end of that process. I am not yet as honest as I could be. There's meaning yet to be found. But progress is change, and change I must.

So, there will be one more post at this address - a bit of a perma-post - directing you to by all means pore over the back-catalogue, but also follow me over to the new base of operations. Who knows what we'll find there?

On Chris Hardwick, Nerds in General & Collaboration

I can't quite remember how it started.  I got awfully into podcasts several months ago, and I think I heard that Chris Hardwick (at the time, to me: that guy who sometimes reviews gadgets on Attack of the Show) had one, and so I gave it a try.  I liked it, and subscribed to his 'blog, The Nerdist.  Not too long ago, Signor Hardwick started casting about for 'blog contributors and, having something of an idea at the time, I submitted a proposal.  It was not accepted (but not NOT accepted [but we actors understand what that means]) and I thought, oh well: Can't fault a guy for trying.  (I've since had a much better idea for a pitch.  Still mulling it over, though. [Spicily.][I'm kind of hoping you actually didn't see what I did there....])

So this cult of Chris: I'm in it.  There's a lot that appeals about the dude; he's funny (helpful quality in a  comedian), intelligent and kind.  He's self-professed nerd, which means my likes match his likes pretty durn good.  The thing that really grabbed me about him, though, is what he chooses to talk about and how he talks about it in his interviews with various celebrities on the podcast.  Hardwick has a lot of fun, makes (occasionally crass) jokes, is well-supported by fellow podcasters Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, but the key for me is that he seems to love most of all to talk about people's ideas.  Not just their work, mind you, but the work they'd love to do.  To my mind, there's nothing more telling about a person in the moment than that, and frankly nothing more interesting to me.

About a week ago, I acquired an invitation to join the alpha stage of a new little project by Chris and collaborators Rachel Masters and Athena von Oech (of Red Magnet Media) called "The Node."  The Node is an idea that Hardwick had been hinting at on his podcasts for some little while, realized.  Essentially it's an online social network specifically for nerds (or whatever description you'll apply).  Now, I flinch immediately at the idea of another social network.  Thank you Friendster for reminding me of birthdays, MySpace for making me feel I could manipulate my own web presence, LiveJournal for...uh...being there when I just didn't get it at all, and Facebook for at least initially making me feel safe to come out and play again.  Thank you, and done.  Great.  No more.

EXCEPT:  The Node has a proclaimed purpose.  It's an exciting idea.  Something Chris calls "nerdsourcing," referencing the term crowd-sourcing, or utilizing a group of folks of varying (including no) acquaintance to accomplish something concrete.  The purpose of The Node is to facilitate this kind of collaboration between nerds or, as Hardwick puts it, people who are unabashedly obsessive and creative.  In other words, we're hoping here to create a little online community of folks who will make cool stuff and happenings together, not just post pictures of their pets (yes, I posted a picture of my cat). Will it happen?  I hope so, but we'll have to see.  And I use the word "we" because I think I'm in, dogs.

When I look back over the work I've done over the past several years, the strongest and most consistent component has been creative collaboration.  Now, I always pretty much chalked this up to my being deeply entrenched in theatre projects, and theatre being sort of the ultimate collaborative art form.  On considering it lately, however, I've realized it all has more to do with collaboration being a huge personal priority.  Not necessarily for any logical or pragmatic reason, I value collaboration a great deal.  It's like having a built-in audience at every stage of creation, and means that whatever you made is something greater than yourself just by the nature of its making.

There's a lot going on for me right now that shares this theme, from directing the next Zuppa del Giorno show, to revamping The Action Collective with Friend Andrew, to an untold-of project or two.  So far, The Node seems to be facilitating mostly a lot of excited nerdly chatter, and one or two ideas for real-world nerdsourced projects.  I'm trying to dream one good one up myself, though my first contribution to the pitch pile might simply be from a necessity that arises out of my current work instead of some nifty new thing.  I can't, in other words, give as much time to The Node as I might otherwise (though I'm stealing time left, right n' center).  If it sounds like something in which you might be interested: Hit me up, dawgs.  I can invite you in.  Such is the power of an alpha nerd.  *barks quietly, pushes glasses back up snout*

Theatre Is Dead

We like to have fun here at The Aviary, as verbose and pretentious as we can sometimes be. (For example: Referring to ourselves in the collective third person.) Theatre, after all, is all about the play, and so it would be contradictory to approach writing about it without a certain sense of playfulness. Occasionally, however, we have to address serious issues the severity of which no amount of levity can affect. In that this 'blog is about a personal journey as much as it is about larger issues of a fulfilling life and artful journeys, naturally some of these more-serious topics are going to cut pretty close to the bone, and come up here as a result of being personally important to me rather than due to timely relevance or any particular external instigation. In this case, however, the issue is both personal and timely.

The theatre is in serious danger of being killed off. I'm not leaning on hyperbole by phrasing it in this way -- I very specifically mean to suggest a murder. It's a killing by little pieces, a sloughing-off of life as if by erosion, and so it is insidious in the extreme. An alternative form of entertainment is taking over the theatre's former place in our lives, and we may not even appreciate the threat, simply because we are so entertained by it. This form of entertainment is characterized by flashy effects, easy laughs, baser instincts and extremely brief demands on our collective attention span. Moreover, as impossible as it may seem, it is spreading rapidly in popularity by merit of its availability and relative lack of expense, both to produce and to enjoy. There is no greater threat to legitimate theatre, nor has there ever been or likely will be again if we don't take a stand against it in a timely manner.

The new entertainment I refer to is, of course: "The Vaudeville."

Naturally, I know you will react dismissively to this assessment, but I beg of you to hear me out. I, too, rejected the premise when initially it came to me. Though it may seem absurd in the extreme to regard this cheap, new-fangled idiom as any kind of threat to the grandeur and history of the theatre, I have noted several indications of late which suggest that The Vaudeville is not only encroaching upon the theatre's domain, but that it threatens to wholly and utterly usurp said domicile. You will argue against it, naturally. I can not hold this against you. But forgive me whilst I demount any and all of your protests:

  • The theatre has stood as a standard of verisimilitude for too long to be torn asunder by the actions of gag men. While patently true in its own sense, this argument is actually irrelevant to the particular threat at hand. Of course The Vaudeville can never hope to approach the sheer reality of a truly produced theatrical endeavor; no amount of colloquialism can hope to make up for the utter lack of design and artistry. However, dear friends, note that the equation has reversed in the case of The Vaudeville. It does not seek to imitate life, because life is imitating it.Why, just the other day I approached a fellow in the hopes of acquiring a newspaper, to which request he replied, "Hang it for a tick, guy. My Bob's ah'summin'." Needless to say, I did not remain to inquire who or what constituted this man's "Bob," or in what state of which it could be said to be "ah'summin'." No, recognizing the idiomatic language of the small stage, I departed in terror of this Vaudeville language, or "VAUL-speak."
  • The Vaudeville, unlike the theatre, does not elevate our beings; in fact, it degrades us with its total lack of style or substance. Again, Dear Reader, I must agree. And yet again, I must with great regret dissuade you of conventional priorities. That is to say -- and I say so with tremendous apology and concern -- the larger audience may not be interested in having their beings elevated. I KNOW, I know: It is an horrifying concept. Yet all my observances of late suggest that people seem to want their entertainment to, above all else, entertain them. This The Vaudeville does exceedingly well, albeit with prattling mechanics and base, visceral humor. Of course we all respect and admire the astonishing word-play of Mr. Shakespeare, particularly when a seasoned actor may truly take his time over each, and every, word . . . but how can we not but laugh when any fool falls to his bumpkin? It is base, as I say, reflexive, even instinctive, but there can be no denying its immediate effect. Laughter-as-opiate can only draw, however gradually, more and more addicts from our ranks of thespian-enthusiasts down to the cellar of The Vaudeville.
  • But the theatre is an event, a special and discriminating experience that must be planned for, researched, sacrificed for, and ultimately - we may occasionally hope - baffles our expectation! Reader: I know, and I empathize utterly with your devotion. But kindly brace yourself for this next: A growing number of people are valuing convenience. Convenience! It's true: there is nothing so wonderful as the sheer effort involved in attaining the hard-earned income for a ticket to the theatre, attempting to attain that ticket, and thereupon spending more money and time on the ceremony surrounding a trip out to the theatre. Can anything afford greater satisfaction than this? Of course not! The idea is pure tomfoolery! Yet imagine for a moment, if you will, a whole neighborhood of people who are never afforded the opportunity to experience this reward. And why? Because just down the block is a tiny space that costs not two bits to enter, and wherein food and drink are all served amidst a rabble of conversation and entertainment. Terrifying, isn't it? Just. Down. The block. Not two bits, and anyone can not only attend, but contributeto the evening's experience.

Chin up, my friends. We must show no fear in the face of this threat, and stand confident in the continued importance--nay, necessity!--of the theatre. But a threat this The Vaudeville is, and will continue to be, unless we prove our superiority. It is not enough, comrades, to be resolute yet docile in our stuffed-velvet seats. We must rise up, and resist the new order and its slavish devotion to progress with our greatest weapons: Consistency and Ostentation. It is only by relentlessly doing things specifically and exactly the way they have always been done that we can hope to overcome this entertaining, inexpensive and inclusive so-called "theatre." We can do it, my friends. Onward, my histrionic soldiers, onward...


Happy 1st o' April, one and all!



The photos from which these GIFs were created were taken in the final twenty minutes or so of my last headshot session with Jimmi Kilduff, back in 2008. I've never GIFed it up before, and thought I should give it a shot. As you will see, these are from a site called GIFninja, which I found easy enough to use, if not entirely reliable. They're not terribly smooth (not the site's fault) but, then again, neither is clowning.

This was a really fun photo session, in particular this portion of it. Jimmi was really enthusiastic about my shameless clowning, and as an actor himself had some good ideas about how to perform for his camera. Someday these may make it on to the ol' homepage, but my web designer is frankly exhausted. (She has a very demanding husband, you see.) Until that time, feel free to steal them and use them as you will and make me exceptionally famous and sought-after in the process. I do hereby permit it... Create custom animated gifs at!

A Phone, Yes. But Smart...?

Those of you who follow me like hawks on Twitter (the many, many people who are all up in my


junk) know that I found a convenient excuse to make the plunge into so-called smart-phone territory. I coyly tweeted from the purchase, "no, not THAT smartphone," thereby piquing the curiosity of the entire nation. Well, Nation (I will someday be Colbert's body double), peek at


. That's what I done and got myself. And so far, I'm pretty happy about it.

Ironically enough, it's actually a much better phone-phone than

the last I had

. The sound quality's better, the overall ergonomics: entirely better. So I feel non-silly about that. And I have to admit that the purchase has me on some much better habits of communication so far. Something about being alerted to incoming emails keeps me vigilant about sending them back out, and that leads to better communication and more things getting done. It also lends itself to more things being on my plate at a time, of course, but that's rather what I was asking for when I joined this technological demographic, idn't it? That and, naturally, endless Sudoku puzzles.

Friend Sarah and I have occasionally exchanged emails about a collaborative theatre project that addresses information and communication technologies and what effects they've had on our behavior. The irony of this is that Sarah lives in San Diego, and frankly the only reason we can begin to contemplate such a collaboration is because of the devices that have developed in the past five years for exactly this type of communication. I have a rather love/hate relationship with the new forms, particularly with regard to how they've influenced theatre, but there's no escaping their relevance. We can outright deny them, sure, and there's value in that approach, but frankly I'm enamored of them all. The prospects of

Google Wave

are exciting to me, I must confess. Would I rather sit in the same room as people, read their faces and experience their energy (or be aware of a lack of it) first hand? Yes, a thousand times. Yet I also get a charge out of being connected to friends and collaborators in Pennsylvania, California and the United Kingdom.

Now I am a giant leap closer to being entirely plugged in to the "ambient awareness" of which so many write. I can let anyone who may be listening know where I am and what I'm doing in great detail at the very moment of my existence. I've done a bit of this, but frankly, I can;t keep up the way others do. If I tweeted and Facebooked-it as much as others, I'm not sure I'd actually be accomplishing anything else. Yet many do, and I suppose I envy them a bit. perhaps I'll get better at this whole thing with time, but I'm not certain that I


to get better at it. I rather like having this many choices about how I communicate with folks, but the choice itself is defeated if it gets to the point at which I'm serving the mode, rather than the mode serving me. So in spite of my recent acquisition, people will still be hearing from me in person quite a bit. In fact, I rather miss the days when it was a little more socially acceptable to show up at a friend's door. Now such a surprise would be considered rather creepy by all sorts of otherwise friendly and open people.

I know someone who had this advice for his child upon her moving to New York: YCNYDLNYCY. That translates into, "You change New York; don't let New York change you." (I wonder if he ever sent this advice via text?) It's a fairly inspiring bit of caring wisdom, and can easily be applied to all sorts of information-technology applications. (I'm tempted to type YCHTMLDLHTMLCY [and so I have] but I don't really know what I'd be saying with it.) It's impossible to deny, however, that the relationships in any case are utterly reciprocal, if not nigh symbiotic. We can't change anything without it changing us right back, and we're not adrift in a world that is rapidly dehumanizing us, nor one that is creating splendid multi-cultural interconnectedness, either. As thinking, feeling, viscerally connected creatures, we are engaged in this dialogue and responsible for every aspect of it. I embrace that, to my modest capability, and with a little luck it will help me to create with a little more truth, a little more connection.

K thx bai.