West Coast Surf & Story Tour

ocean-beach-surf

In the last few days, I’ve gotten invitations to both surf in San Diego and tell a story in Portland. So now I’m thinking it’d be great to string these events together into a fall tour.

I’m looking at events in Seattle, San Francisco, The Bay Area in general, LA and San Diego. We’ll see how it goes. Would love to just hop my way down the coast going from event to event, eventually ending up in the water.

I also got some advice recently from Paul with Testify about creating a more professional profile for myself, like a marketing packet. It should include audio and video recordings, ideally one from a large Moth event.

Do I want to do this? Am I ready to try to take it to the next level?

Mmm, I dunno, thinking…

Gibberish Mostly

GFT chairs

Got some exciting news today. A play I originally wrote almost fifteen years ago is getting a new life. GIBBERISH MOSTLY, which had a reading at Hyde Park Theatre and Boston Theatre Works in 2003, is slated to be the season opener this fall at a theater I really like.

I’m still getting all the details together, but this one has a lot of personal resonance for me and is something I have a lot of emotional ties to.

Just to brag (or whatever) a little, here’s a sentence from the email I got:

We are VERY excited to work with you and are more than pleased that, out of the 300 submissions we got nationally, we landed on your show.

I mean that’s cool. Whatever. 300 people is like one-millionth of the country’s population so…

Yay! More details when I got ‘em. Really excited to work on this one with this particular creative team.

Big Comedy Tour This Saturday

Hike and bike trail

I’ll be making the rounds this Saturday in case you want to try to come out and support some local art.

From 7am-9am I’ll be cracking wise along the 10.1 mile loop from MoPac to the Longhorn Dam. Come join the fun!*

From 10am-12pm I’ll be at Cherrywood Café trying to work on Pong: The Musical while joking with the wait staff and baristas

From 12pm-2pm I’ll be holding court at La Tazza Fresca on Guadalupe; happy to give an autograph or two if you’re not too pushy and know your place

From 2pm-4pm I’ll be at Einstein’s Bagels where I’ll be trying to devour a disgusting (yet wonderful) peanut butter cookie; omg, they’re incredible

From 4pm-5pm I’ll be at The Tavern working on this play; you’re never too far from 12th and Lamar, if you know what I mean

From 5pm-7pm I’ll be prepping for the big gig at Genuine Joe’s

At 7:30pm I will magically appear, sweaty and nervous, at the venue on Anderson Lane.

When it’s all said and done, there may be a Tori Amos listening party at Cinnamon Path Theatre. BYOB.

Look forward to seeing you along this journey.

*I actually don’t think it’s 10.1 miles anymore because of the new boardwalk; more like 9.7 miles; but so lovely; come on out!

Dock trail shot

Sports as Religious Experience (1 in a possible series of 2)

what an unsuccessful catch would have looked like

what an unsuccessful catch would have looked like

Earlier today on the BBC I heard a reading of a piece that David Foster Wallace wrote in 2006 about Roger Federer, and I thought Hey, that’s not a bad piece of writing but surely there are other, more recent, sports experiences we can write about.

So here’s one. It’s from a game my softball team played last week in Austin.

Ahem…

*****

There weren’t a lot of spectators at Krieg field #9 last Monday evening, but those who were there experienced something special. It’s something you’d appreciate even more if you’d ever played softball or baseball, to understand the impossibility of what you’d just witnessed.

The pitcher spun the ball upwards outlining the shape of the arc of St. Louis with the kind of rotation you usually associate with poolhall English. The batter swung, the angle of his body leaning toward left field, eagerly anticipating a rocket blast to the wall.

Instead, the meat of his bat caught the strings of the ball at an unflattering intersection, south of the equator. And it forced the ball to rise, rise, up toward the early-shimmering Gibbons moon, projecting a landing somewhere between the third baseman and the center left-fielder.

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Loneliness

Loneliness

I know, right??

This is the subject (and the working title) of the play I finished quickly last weekend. What if you were able to converse with (and confront) your own self at different stages of your life. You could ask your old self what was going to happen to your young self. Your middle-aged self could give advice or ask for changes from you in the past. Your old self could work to get a handle on what your legacy might be.

And what if there were a traumatic incident in your life that affected everything else.

And what if these versions of yourself at different ages were your only friends?

I think there’s a lot of potential with this idea (which has been done before, of course, notably with Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women) and I think it could be funny and quirky and meaningful if done well.

Here’s a selection of Caridad’s comments on the first draft:

you have a fascinating play on your hands. it is whimsical and off center in a light hearted way. a fable of time. starting life again. maybe getting a 2nd chance. or simply another chance at assessing a life.

there’s ache in the play as well as whimsy. and a potentially thrilling sense of dislocation. the ending, then, could really land in a profound way. y’know. who do we have in our lives. and why. how do we live with ourselves. our desires. our loneliness.

It’s something I think thoughtful people do: wonder and adapt and imagine. I’d love to get it to a simple, well-crafted place. New goal is to come up with a second draft this summer and then decide if I can do more with it. Funny yet poignant is a good combo for me.

Maybe I need a juicier, more upbeat title too…

Running for Congress

American FlagDear Friend who’s considering running for Congress in a heavily Republican district,

  1. You should totally do it
  2. You have the skills
  3. The time is right
  4. Your lack of funds should be highlighted as an asset
  5. Your passion for being an underdog is a motivator
  6. You have powerful rhetoric which can inspire
  7. I know how to donate money to Kickstarter; it’s not that hard
  8. Can I write a play about your journey?
  9. Wait, is my donation tax-deductible?
  10. Ugh, I bet it’s not
  11. I hope you enjoy the play I write about your journey
  12. You’re gonna do great
  13. Count me in
  14. Let’s go

The Sprint to 50

crumpled paper

Once again, not an age-related thing. I’m okay taking my time with that.

It’s this damn full-length-play-writing workshop. The full draft is due on Monday and I’m not happy where I am so I’m trying to speed-rewrite the whole stupid thing in two days.

As of 8am today, I was on page 4. I’d like to get to 50 pages (at least) to feel like I’ve got something substantive.

And go…

SATURDAY

11:42am: page 6

1:05pm: page 10

This is gonna be tough. Go for a run, think about what Becky and Rick are going to talk about after she spots the body.

3:02pm: page 15

Okay, run helped solidify a few things, helped to get out there and jog the old noggin. Weather so much better than yesterday. Now go out and see some old friends, maybe meet an African cat and a south-Texan dog. Try to do a couple more pages in the evening.

7:26pm: page 17

Friends good. Now off to see a play. Can’t believe Teresa had 13 dogs living with her at one point. That is some Crazy. Can you use that in the play? The scene with CC and Tricky is coming up next; that’ll be a tough one to sustain. Don’t forget to keep it funny!

11:08pm: page 21

Had hoped to get to 25 by end of day, but this is close. Still have crucial, difficult scenes ahead. See if you can get to 25 by noon or so Sunday. Can still do it…

SUNDAY

11:59pm: page 25

Phew. Take a breather, read it all over, see how it’s going…

2:13pm: page 30

Time for tacos. Think about how Rebecca, Becky and CC are going to interrupt, k?

5:19pm: page 36

This is hard. Go see a movie or something, have a beer, get to 40 or so by bedtime, then see if you can get anything else done tomorrow midday or afternoon. Need a solid ending too; take notes!

9:59pm: page 40

Really racing through this stuff now. The big scene with CC, Becky and Rebecca is going faster than I expected. Grabbing a glass of wine and an ice cream bar and gonna see how much more of this bad boy I can power through in the next hour or so. Won’t have much time tomorrow.

11:32pm: page 44

That’s it. Best I could do. Will see if I can add anything else tomorrow and then send to Caridad. Then in the evening our softball team has a game against these kids. Kind of nervous and excited about that one! (will ask them to never play a song by Bush again) Hopefully can fit in a bit more polishing after that…

MONDAY

10:13pm: page 45

Another hour or so in me. Let’s see what you can do. Then hit send.

11:43pm: page 50

Kinda. More like page 49.3. Not bad. But it’s really not about the page count, is it? Duh. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in there, and the characters have potential. Will see what she says and take it from there. Maybe I can use some of it. Never would have gone  through all this without the class. And send…

Listening Room Gig on July 8th

Microphone

A couple of months ago at Testify I met a funny, nice guy named Joey Zimmerman who runs a monthly show and podcast called The Listening Room. And he recently asked if I’d be willing to tell a story on the show on July 8th.

A listing on Do512 about the show says “Join us for tales told by Austin’s finest comedians and special guests.”

Unless I’ve somehow become one of Austin’s finest comedians without knowing about it (which I’d be totally okay with, btw) I suppose that means I’m a special guest.

Anyway, I get to tell any story I want. I’m thinking maybe I’ll tell this one, but I’m open to suggestions.

Note to self: sometime soon you gotta do that story about your dad’s cell phone going off over and over and over again at The Marsh in San Francisco where the star of the show broke from character and confronted us directly (“Is there something about technology you don’t understand???”). Maybe in another couple of months it will seem funny. Right now it’s still a nightmare that haunts me every time I go and see a show and have my cell phone in my pocket.

Anyway, come see me in a couple of weeks if you can! If you don’t, I’ll miss you!

Adult Education

place to live one day

So I signed up for a five-week playwriting course with Caridad Svich which coincides with the father-son vacation I’m currently taking in Italy. I initially hesitated to enroll because I felt like it’d be yet another obligation at a time I wanted to relax and focus on the trip.

But I ended up doing it anyway, giving myself an excuse to back out or not complete the play if it was too much work or stress.

I’ve still got that deal with myself, and I still may not complete the play (we’re in the middle of the workshop now so there’s plenty of time to crash and burn).

But I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I had about the course, along with some of the reasons I almost didn’t do it. Here’s an edited version of what I sent to the ScriptWorks Board:

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The Third Mosquito*

small canal with boats

I’m in this beautiful place now, but had a couple of rough nights battling a small army of mosquitoes. The insidious buzzing of these insects in my ear can keep me up for hours. As I hear that high-pitched whiny zzzzzzzzzzz approaching I feel my blood pressure rise and my visceral instinct for destruction take over.

I’m sleeping in the same room as my dad on this vacation so I can’t just turn on the lights and start smacking the walls randomly with magazines like I do when I’m alone. Instead I tried to stealthily use the light from my phone in one hand to view the silhouette of the little beast as it approached, and then nab it with my other hand.

This worked once. I captured her. But then as I opened my head to see if I’d squashed her, she flew out and away, only to come back a few minutes later and find a way to draw blood.

I tried to revert to Zen status and accept the fact that I’d get bites on my shoulders and back. But then I wondered how many bites I might get, so I looked it up.

Oh my God, it’s so complicated!

Another factor may be the mosquito’s search for an accessible vein near the skin surface, much like that of a nurse trying multiple sites to take a blood sample.        

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