Off to College (and Beyond…)

kid leaving home

My older son has been accepted to a month-long program at an out-of-town University this summer, which I guess I’m excited, anxious and curious about. Excited for him to do it and to stretch his independent legs; anxious about how he’ll do and about any struggles he’ll run into; and just generally curious about how it will go for him.

In addition, he’s expressed interest in applying for a program this fall which would send him overseas next summer to a language and cultural exchange, possibly in China or the Middle East. Whoa. That one will take me a bit more time to digest.

Continue reading

Jogging in a Suit

jogging in a business suitThis morning I rushed to work after dropping the kids off just in time to host a meeting with about 20 folks (15 in the room, 5 online), and as soon as it was over, I raced home, changed into shorts, and did a quick run around the lake before lunch.

When I got back online I’d gotten this email from my friend Allison:

I had a dream last night and you were in it. You were wearing a nice suit – like, you know, professional and shit. And, you were jogging around a lake. And, there was mud all over your dress shoes. And, I said something like “Max – you are jogging in your suit?” And, you said, “Didn’t have time to change.” “Wow – that’s commitment.” I responded. 

That’s all. You figure out the meaning. You were the one jogging in a suit.

I feel like this represents me pretty well. I generally try to stay reliable and buttoned-up and responsible about most things, at least superficially (the suit) but I also have a tendency to want to break out and run around and get a little dirty (the mud).

A simplification? Sure. But it kinda works.

So this has just made the shortlist for titles of my inevitable memoir: Jogging  in a Suit.

At this point it’s either that or What the Hell am I Doing? or Uhhhh, Okay, Sure, I’ll Take One of Those.

Got a little time before I need to make a decision…




Curtains billowing on a muggy eve
Storm warnings blare but nothing ever comes
Train on a neighborhood track both distant and near
Infinite cars, it seems, the rumbling never stops

Insects calm, holding their peace
Respecting each other’s territory for now

And yet…

The storm inside disrupts
Atmospheric pressure pushing and pulling
Streams up and down adjoining hemispheres
Waves crest and fall, white caps dotting to the horizon and back
No tsunami warning but do you ever really know?

Day after day like this
Season of discontent
Synapses tingling
Forgetfulness about…. something

Some recommend yoga, others meditate
Some choose to run
Or jog
Or walk
Or sink pens into soft papyrus

Continue reading

Entertaining for Toilets?

toilet in KinshasaA couple of pieces of news came in over the wire this week:

1) My friend Robert, who’s spent the last couple of years in Kinshasa (which is in the Congo (which is in Africa (if you’re bad at geography like me))) has been trying to fund a series of repairs and upgrades to a school for orphans. Something like 80 kids had been sharing one toilet and just a handful of beds. He’s been doing a lot of great work there, and announced that he’s in the homestretch for the final bunch of construction.

2) The fine folks at Ground Floor Theatre reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in putting on some kind of show in late April or May because their theater has some openings they can’t fill.

The insane project-manager-y part of me suddenly thought there might be a way to put these things together.

I’m trying to find a date (maybe in May, since there’s NOTHING going on that month) that might work, and then see if some musicians and comedians and storytellers could come on board.

Could it work? I don’t know.

Is it fruitless to try? Not sure yet.

Am I motivated? Yeah, I guess I probably would be anyway, but stuff like this which keeps coming and coming and coming makes me want to keep striving to make things a bit better here and there, while still keeping a foot in the arts community, where I guess my passion lies.

Anyway, more to come. This whole project may not work out, depending on a bunch of stuff. But my kids are behind it, which is always a good first step.

Will update this space later when I have more to say (or will let it drop if I don’t). You know, the usual…

Upcoming Spring (-ish) Events

Austin Bat CaveA few little things:

  • Monday, March 12th: Meeting with Out of Ink director Ellie McBride to talk about my goofy piece on presidential brains and how we’re gonna cast it (UPDATE: went well, a few tweaks to make, gonna be silly and fun, I hope)
  • Tuesday, March 13th: Telling a story about cell phones, theater and illness at Home Slice Pizza for Austin Bat Cave (UPDATE: went well, yay; blurry photo below*)
  • Sunday, April 22nd: Maybe telling a story at another Nettie & Walter event like this one back in August, 2016 (waiting for confirmation)
  • Thursday, April 26th – Saturday, May 5th: Out of Ink plays at Hyde Park Theatre (six performances)
  • Sunday, April 29th: A ScriptWorks salon reading of EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY at Hyde Park Theatre (open to the public)
  • Saturday, June 2nd: ScriptWorks’ 20th Anniversary celebration/party at Ground Floor Theatre (will be involved in some way; details to come here too)
  • Thursday, June 28th: Scheduled to retell the cell phone-in-a-theater story for Testify

I guess that’s it.

Oh, also, looks like we’re narrowing in on a date for that benefit show, likely the first or second week of November. Getting the shell of some plan together for that.

Thanks, blog thing!

(you may be dismissed)

*from Tuesday night’s Bat Cave show**:

Austin Bat Cave snippet






**maybe time to retire that green shirt, huh?

Men with no Brains

Man without Brain

I’m working on two short plays this month, and each involves a dude without a brain. I’m sure there’s nothing symbolic in that at all.

The first is a piece I’m trying to get ready for next Wednesday’s Playwright Slam at Hyde Park Theatre. It’s about a fractured family whose patriarch has had his brain replaced by an Alexa-like device. All the other characters are women, and generally speaking, they seem to like this newer, more succinct version of him better than the previous one.

The other is called THE ALTAR OF RONNIE, and I’m happy to say that it was chosen for production at this year’s Out of Ink, also at HPT. I’m working with Ellie McBride as my director again (she and I go way back now), and I like her because she’s blunt and to the point about what does and doesn’t work (“Get rid of this Max fluff, you’re obviously just trying to fill space”).

That piece is a silly, broad comedy, basically about a young couple that steals an ex-president’s brain to try and make some extra cash (as you do).

Anyway, happy to do my part this month to remove brains from men. Maybe I’ll remove my own next.


Industrial Wonderland

I-35 interchange

I-35 interchange

I had to drop my car off to get the heater fixed the other day, and I ended up walking several miles home afterwards, mostly along highways, under overpasses and crossing industrial roads.

This morning I walked back out there to pick up a rental car in the same area and took Industrial Boulevard south of Ben White.

I had sort of an awesome time.

I love walking through neighborhoods and areas I’ve never seen, and something about all the metal stores and barbed wire and large trucks and spongy grass and cracked pavement made it feel like I was discovering a new planet.

At the end of the walk this morning, a couple of hundred yards from the rental car place, I discovered a new brewery I’d never heard of before. I’m going to make a plan to check it out.

Anyway, there were only a couple of times I felt vulnerable out there, glancing over my shoulder at someone watching from a doorway or dodging a truck that got a little too close to the curb. The rest of the time I found it refreshing and invigorating, especially in the 40-degree drizzle. I kind of want to make a habit of it.

a handsome property along South Congress

a handsome property along South Congress

Kind of.

Goal-Like Things for the Year Ahead

Robert SmithI don’t know why I’m doing this, but I am. To get it down. So I have some kind of focus or something.

Things I’d like to get done before the year ends:

  • Write a new draft of that book-like thing, and see if I can convince anyone to look at it*
  • Submit queries to some agents about the above thing (like maybe 20 queries before year’s end)
  • Get in touch with Jonathan Coulton and see what he thinks about touring with these guys
  • Put on this benefit show in the fall (with those same guys above and maybe Isabella and Her Dinosaur; what about the Bitter Poet?) on behalf of Vela
  • Have a reading for Everything’s Going to be Okay and decide if it’s worth putting on somewhere (like maybe at CPT)
  • Run this race with Tom
  • Travel somewhere with my dad for a week or two
  • Focus on my two favorite people as much as I can, especially during these occasionally bumpy times
  • Plan a bike trip to Scotland and the Edinburgh Fringe, maybe for 2019?
  • See a Major League Soccer game or two
  • Stay gainfully employed
  • Visit a college campus or two
  • Try not to be a jerk
  • Collaborate on that old piece about Robert Smith with Jessica for FronteraFest (assuming she’s still up for it)
  • Keep trying to figure out why I am the way I am and why I do the things I do**

**That last one may be the most important, I don’t know. But I can’t focus on it ALL the time. Plus it’d be sorta narcissistic, so just keep it simmering

* If you happen to read this, and happen to be interested in reading a chapter or two here or there, please get in touch with me and I’ll gladly and gently send you a small file (and maybe buy you a cup of coffee)

The Biggest Producer Credit I’ll Ever Get

Producer creditHad the great pleasure of working with these guys at FronteraFest this year. They probably wouldn’t have done the show if I hadn’t nagged them (politely and repeatedly) and encouraged them to give it a shot.

As a reward, they gave me a producer credit for the show. I asked Jomo to make the font size with my name smaller but he said “we’ll need somebody to blame” if things go south.

When they went up last Friday, they played well but the timing felt a bit off and the audience seemed oddly subdued. We talked about how it was a useful first step into the theater world for them, coming to grips with the fact that they might not move on.

Then we got the call. They made Best of Week on Saturday (which had a much better audience feel and comfort level) and then Best of Fest, scheduled to close out the whole festival next Saturday night.


I should have asked for an even bigger font size.

Reading INTO THE WILD with my Son

Into the Wild busHIM: This book is stupid.
ME: Why?
HIM: Because the main character basically just kills himself in a stupid way, and we’re supposed to care.
ME: He doesn’t kill himself.
HIM: He might as well. He goes into a dangerous situation with limited supplies with a high probability of death, and then he dies. That’s stupid.
ME: But isn’t it interesting to think about WHY he does that?
HIM: No.
ME: But what would make someone from a privileged background give it all up, go on an adventure, and see if he can survive in the wilderness.
HIM: I don’t care.
ME: It’s interesting to me.
HIM: …
ME: Maybe it’ll mean more to you later.
HIM: …
ME: A lot of people are very affected by this story.
HIM: …

Anyway, we’re not done yet, but it’s good to get his take. Maybe he’s got a point…