Year in Review (2009)


It’s time again for my look back at the goings-on of the past year. Feel free to read, skim for your name, or just find the bold links and click on them in the hopes you’ll find a video featuring  a midget dressed up as Michael Jackson and dancing in the NYC subway system…you might just find what you’re looking for.
  • January 4 – I auditioned for The Foreigner at the Fulton Opera House. I didn’t get it or anything, but call me weird, I like auditioning. It’s just another excuse for me to get strangers to laugh. On purpose.
  • January 11 – My pal John Allen was in town for a conference. I know John from my days working at Gotee Records in Nashville when I was in the Radio Promotions department and he was in Sales. Sarah and I met up with John in Hershey, PA. It was really nice to re-connect and introduce him to my better/crazier half.
  • January 17 – I went hiking with my friend John Blowers in the Pennsylvania mountains. Somewhere. I actually don’t have any idea where we were, only about a half hour or so from Lancaster, so if he wanted to kill me and hide my body he very well could have. But he didn’t. I guess that means John’s my friend. :)
  • February 3 – Sarah and I watched the touring production of Avenue Q at the Hershey Theater. There’s nothing quite as fun as introducing your wife to the world of foul-mouthed puppets. And Gary Coleman.
  • February 22
  • February 27

  • March 17-24
  • April 19 – My pal Mitch McVicker came to town and performed a concert at our church. Even better than watching him perform again was getting to catch up with a good friend.
  • April 24 – Sarah and I went to a Capital Lights concert with our travel buddies Alyssa and Ashlea. Weeks later, the band announced they are breaking up. Coincidence?
  • May 15 – Sarah and I traveled to New York City for the weekend. I rejoined my friends at the National Comedy Theater and jumped in the Friday night shows for a great night of improv. I am happy to report that JT, Chris, Paul, Dan, Cohen, Kevin, and Jason have not lost the funny.
  • May 16 – Sarah and I hit some NYC tourist spots and that night we were in the live studio audience for the season finale of Saturday Night Live. It was everything we dreamed and more.
  • June 23 – I broke a molar eating an ice cream sandwich.
  • July 8 – After two weeks of temporary crowns, my molar was finally completely repaired.
  • July 17 – Sarah and I attended a barbecue at Dustin and Janelle’s house. It was a great evening of friends and hangin’ out, capped off by an amazing Roman candle fight between Jeremy and Dustin.
  • July 24-26 – Sarah and I returned to New York City and this time we brought our friends Ryan, Alyssa, and Ashlea with us. I performed at the National Comedy Theatre Friday and Saturday night and the rest of the time was spent giving them a whirlwind tour of the city.
  • August 8 – Sarah and I went to Nissley Vineyard (the place I proposed to her two years earlier) with friends to enjoy a nice evening in the countryside.
  • August 28 – Posted my 200th doodle.
  • September 12 – Sarah and I saw Bill Cosby perform live at the American Music Theatre. Despite the fact that he looks older, he’s still the same old Cos.
  • September 18 – I had a voiceover audition at Max Films. Nothing has come of it (at least not yet) but again, it was something fun to do on a weekday afternoon.
  • October 1 – I hung my doodles at a local coffee shop, Square One, as part of their monthly rotation of local artists. The theme for the month was Halloween, so I displayed my collection of doodles of movie villains
  • October 3 – Sarah and I went to the New Holland Fair and were shocked to find they imported everyone who attends the county fair back home in Indiana to attend this one, too. Either that, or everyone who goes to fairs looks the same.
  • October 7 – After months of hunting, Sarah and I picked up our new car, a Ford Focus from Keller Brothers. If you’re in the area, we highly recommend them!
  • October 26 – Married to Sarah for two years and she’s still my bestest friend.
  • October 31 – At our Murder Mystery Party, everyone got dressed up in fancy clothes and we pretended we’re a lot more civilized than we actually are.

  • December 4 – We attended a surprise birthday party for our friend Alyssa. It was a successful covert surprise operation.
  • December 5 – My dear friend Nik (another Gotee Records survivor) is in town and Sarah and I get together with her for coffee. I probably sound like a broken record, but it’s so nice to re-unite with old friends and catch up!
  • December 12 – My pal John had a poker night (guys’ night out). We tried to keep it as manly as possible, considering the snacks consisted of deli meats, apple cider, and hummus.
  • December 24
  • December 26 – For the second year in a row, Sarah’s sister and her family (The Tatmans) visited us for a week . We played games, watched movies, and hung around the house. Basically everything you WISH you did on vacation.

There’s one highlight I didn’t post because it happens every week: Sarah and I have some good friends over on Tuesday nights to watch Lost. Our usual gang of misfits includes some of our closest friends in Pennsylvania (Alyssa, Ashlea, Dustin, Janelle, Monica, Tammy, and Tyler). Sure, we’re all fans of the show and enjoy the twists and turns, but most of all we love having an excuse to get together with good friends. In a time of virtual social networking, nothing compares with actually hanging out with others.

Thanks, everyone, for a great 2009. Preparing to enter 2010 is weird. 2010. It looks really super futuristic. If I don’t have a flying car by 2015, I’m going to be mad.

The Results Are In

I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with the director from the Ephrata Playhouse regarding “The Pillowman” callback I went to yesterday. It seems that he decided to go with The Other Guy for the role I was up for. It’s all good though (for real, and for honest) because The Other Guy (no disrespect…I just don’t remember his name) did a really good job at the callback and he made me laugh. He’s a funny guy.*

The director did ask if I would be interested in playing a much smaller role in the play and I said sure. He sounded surprised that I would accept. Maybe it was because I started off reading for the lead role and he didn’t think I’d take a smaller role? Or maybe it was because he was hoping I’d turn it down. Hm. Let me think on that one. :)

He also indicated he’d like me to come back to the season callbacks, which are callbacks for all of the shows the theater will be doing this season. He told me he’d like me to read for a role in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and also for an improv show revolving around fairy tales.

Now you’re talking my language. :)

*This is a quote from Three Amigos! by the bad guy Jefe, played by Alfonso Arau. I am unable to say the words “He’s a funny guy” without saying it in my bad Mexican accent. Just thought I’d let you know. Thank you, John Landis!

The Callback

Yesterday I went to a callback for the play “The Pillowman.” (For those of you who don’t know what a callback is, it’s basically the second round of auditions. Kinda like when you watch “American Idol” and some kids get the yellow slip of paper to “go to Hollywood, dog” for a second look.)

I went to the audition last month and was given a copy of the script to peruse for yesterday. It’s an extremely dark comedy and although the things I were reading were horrible I was impressed with the writing that I still found myself laughing at what was going on. If it happens that I’m cast in the show, I’m in for a fun time.

So how did it go, yesterday? Eh. I don’t know. There were about 10 of us there and it started by each of us introducing ourselves, talking about which part(s) we liked, and our general over-all thoughts on the play. From there they had us read a few different scenes quite a few times and the director would mix it up a bit each time, having someone read a different part, so he could get a feel of who might fit where.

I felt I did OK. But of course, when I would finish each reading I didn’t sit down and think about how well I did but would find myself wondering what I should have done differently. Second-guessing yourself like that can really wreak havoc on your brain if you let it (and I sometimes do)so I decided to just let what happens happen and enjoy the other auditioners.

There’s a law in the stand-up world that the worst crowd to play to is a crowd of comedians. No one wants to laugh because by laughing you’re letting the audience, the club manager, the talent scout know that “Hey that guy on stage is funny! I may not be, but boy he sure is!!” Sometimes it’s the same thing at auditions. You don’t want to respond positively to other people auditioning because ultimately, you’re going against that person, and you don’t want to give them any extra leverage.

I say screw all that.

If there’s anything I learned doing improv at the National Comedy Theatre, it’s that it’s about teamwork; doing what you can to make the other guy look good. Life’s too short to worry about the whole competition part of it. It as nice to be able to sit back between readings and laugh and enjoy the other guys auditioning. They were really good, a really talented bunch of guys, and I’m always up for seeing talented people do what they do best.

So I don’t know if I’ll get the call today or not. If I do, that’ll be a lot of fun. If not, I can see why. Those guys yesterday were good.

A Pretty Good Day

We’ve all been asked the question whether it was in an email survey or a MySpace bulletin blast or even in conversation over coffee and fries: What would your perfect day be like?

I’ve never really cared for that question because I don’t have an answer for it. There are so many things I like to do, so many people I like to be around….any combination of those things could very well constitute a “perfect day.” And just what exactly makes a day perfect? Is it the way I feel at the end of the day? Or could it possibly be the way others feel who I encountered? I don’t have an answer, and won’t pretend to be wise enough to tell you what would be the perfect day.

But I’m also not naive enough to deny when I’ve been blessed with a pretty good one.

Saturday was one of those days. I won’t go into detail on how it began but suffice it to say Sarah and I are newlyweds and we enjoy partaking in activities that are common to those usually stereotyped with the recently-hitched.

I had an audition for a play at 1:20. Because it’s a darker show I couldn’t go in with my usual Steve Martin ha-ha monologue I usually use. I went in with a new one I had just learned a couple of days before and was ushered in to the audition room while Sarah waited in the lobby, excited to be joining me on an adventure where I had promised her sightings of intense actors in “audition mode”.

The two guys conducting the audition were really friendly. They took my picture, I did my monologue, we chatted for a few short seconds, and I was finished. I felt good about the audition but then again I’ve felt good about other auditions and nothing came of it so I don’t have any expectations. Auditioning is actually much easier than many of my friends seem to think. It’s my theory that ever since “American Idol” came around people tend to assume all auditions are conducted the same way. You go in, do your thing, and the panel tears you apart if they didn’t like you. Fortunately, most people actually conduct their auditions in much the same way an 8th grade boy dates a girl. You go in, try to put your best foot forward (or at least an acceptable foot) and if you’re not what they’re looking for you just…never hear from them.

I left the audition and described to Sarah what went on inside as we returned to the car. From there we drove to Chuck and Ann’s place. It seems they had a recliner they no longer needed and Sarah and I were more than happy to take it off their hands. Their house was all decorated for Christmas and it felt nice and cozy inside (not that their house isn’t always nice and cozy. They definitely have what I refer to as “a grown-up house.” Or at least a “more-grown-up-than-mine” house. There are no Simpsons DVDs on kitchen shelves or boxing trophies in the front room.). It’s always nice to hang out and visit with Ann and so our little jaunt to Strasburg was a nice little boost to an already-pretty good day.

A few hours later Sarah and I drove to the station, picked up the video camera and the station van, and made the 40-minute drive to Reading, PA (pronounced redding….and yes, they do have a Reading Railroad) to catch up with my old pals The Katinas. They were one of the bands signed to Gotee Records while I was still there back in 2002-2004. They are five brothers from Samoa and are definitely the real deal. They actually remind me of hanging out with my uncles and cousins. Lots of laughing and then more laughing. The only difference is, these guys can sang. They are on the road with Michael W Smith and “American Idol’s” Melinda Doolittle as part of a Christmas tour.

I hadn’t seen the guys since December of ’03 and I was really excited to get a chance to hang out and catch up. I had contacted their manager Niel about getting with them to record an interview for the station and was hooked up with their road manager Zander. He met us at the back gate and greeted us with a hug and a smile (we would later learn that Zander is the guys’ cousin, which immediately explained how accommodating and welcoming he was). He led us through the backstage maze and into the guys’ dressing room, where we would be doing the interview.

Four of the guys were finishing up eating in the craft services area but Joe Katina was already in the green room and I got a chance to introduce him to Sarah and catch up on what he’s been up to. We talked for about 10 minutes and soon the other brothers began to trickle in. Sam, Jesse, and the twins John and James. There were of course lots of hugs and laughs and reminiscences (who could forget their endless hours of Madden NFL on the tour bus?) and after a few more minutes the interview was underway.

The guys did a great job – as always – and as I reached the end of my questions I decided to put the guys on the spot. I asked if they wouldn’t mind singing a bar or two of something a capella. Until you’ve heard these guys sing, in person, with no instruments, you haven’t heard singing. The guys smiled, whispered to each other for a moment or two, and then out of nowhere broke into an amazing version of my favorite Christmas song, “O Holy Night.”

With their first note I felt my arms painted in goose bumps and Sarah teared up as well. Even though the camera was still rolling, she couldn’t help but clap when they were done. Our own private mini-concert with some of the best vocals I’d heard live since I don’t know when. It’s hard to describe in words, so here’s a link to the video I recorded of the song.

We wrapped up our time and Zander told us we could hang on to our All Access passes and stay and watch the concert. It was such a special night and I was so glad Sarah was there to share it with.

After the concert was over we got to check back in with the guys for a few more minutes and say our goodbyes. They even gave us three bags of Hawaiian coffee before we left!! When Sarah and I left the venue, we were still reeling, almost unable to believe what a great night we had. And it wasn’t over yet.

After dropping off the video camera and the van at the station, we made our way to Reflections a bar/restaurant to watch Stacey’s brother Aaron, who is the drummer for Kheris. Considering we were at the Lancaster Coffee Company the night before to see our buddy Tom Herr play (with percussive accompaniment by Mindy Lapp) this had indeed become a weekend full of great music (and friends!).

So, was it the perfect day? I don’t know. I don’t even know if such a thing is possible here on Earth but Sarah and I both agree that this weekend we got pretty darn close.

Where Ed meets Ed meets Ed

Today is going to be a pretty interesting day in that it will include a few different aspects of my life all rolled into one. I guess it’s not unlike Scrooge where he visits various points in his past all in one day. Except that I’m not an old miserly British guy disgusted by the Spirit of Christmas. But I’m getting there and my Ebenezer muttonchops are still a goal I dream of attaining one day.

But I digress.

First on the agenda is an audition at a theater in Ephrata. They are doing a production of the play “The Pillowman.” I’d heard of it before but didn’t know much about it. A bit of research revealed to me what an intense and dark drama it is and that would be fun to do. I’m not going in with huge expectations. It looks like it’s only a cast of 4 people and I’m sure there are four people around that are more talented than I am. It’ll still be fun to go in and audition. I haven’t auditioned for anything in a while and I’m looking forward to flexing my chops again.

After the big audition I’m heading out to Chuck and Ann’s to pick up a recliner they are being so generous to hand down. I am definitely looking forward to reclining.

Later in the afternoon I am driving up to Reading to interview The Katinas. They are in concert with Michael W Smith and I first got to know the guys when they were still on Gotee Records and I was still working for the label. They are the real deal and not only will it be fun to record a video interview with them for work, but I’m just excited to see the guys again. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen them and can’t wait to hang out, even for a short time.

And then, tonight, I’m going to see Stacey’s brother Aaron perform in his band Kheris. They’re playing at a place called Reflections and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve only seen them play one time (at the Purple Door festival) and I definitely liked what I heard. Sort of a U2 meets Coldplay meets coolness vibe.

And of course, best of all, is the fact that Sarah will be with me on each adventure. She’ll get to see me in actor-mode, ex-radio rep mode, husband-moving-furniture mode, and out-on-the-town mode.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, really.

Virginia and the Jumper

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. So beautiful, in fact, that I decided to skip the subway and walk all the way from my place on 45th to my audition on 19th.

And it happened again! Twice in one week! I was at the audition and ran into Virginia there (another buddy from the National Comedy Theatre). It’s starting to become fun running into friends while I am out and about.

The audition was quick and painless. Virginia had to work in the area at 6:00 so she asked if I’d kill some time with her. We walked up to 32nd so we would be in the general area of where she had to be and I noticed a bunch of people across the street looking up into the air. Some of them were pointing and their attention was drawn to the Empire State Building.

It didn’t take long before we heard people murmuring…someone was going to jump! We looked up but couldn’t see anything. Soon, though, a guy beside us told us that he wasn’t trying to commit suicide up there, he was a base jumper who goes onto places that are illegal to base jump off of and…well…he base jumps off of them. He was the guy who, in the not-too-distant past, jumped off of the Eiffel Tower. I recalled hearing about it.

The Guy said the Base Jumper had been up there for about 45 minutes, so he probably wasn’t going to make it. He pointed out to us where to look and we could see a small crowd gathered in one part of the top of the building. Apparently the authorities nabbed him as soon as they saw him scaling the protective railing (which I guess goes to show the security in NY is better than in Paris).

Virginia asked the guy how he knew what was going on and the guy was really coy and finally admitted his friend was part of the Base Jumper’s “crew”. Whatever. I wasn’t 100% sold on the guy’s story but it turns out it was true. There are a couple of articles about it here.

About 10 minutes later the crowd on the top of the building disappeared and the Base Jumper’s plot had been foiled. While we were there, a heavy set guy (he looked kind of like the live action version of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons) walked by and declared “It’s a human life, people, not entertainment.” How wrong he was. If the guy has a parachute, it is entertainment. I realize he thought the guy was going to commit suicide, but the crowd still loathed him. Party pooper.

So I didn’t get to see someone jump off the Empire State Building but I did feel like I was in a movie. The crowd on the street below looking up at the building, the confusion…I was soooo waiting for Spider-Man to swing in and save the day.

But he didn’t.

From the New York Daily News:
Cops stop fall guy
Foil Empire State jumper

A dopey daredevil hellbent on parachuting off the Empire State Building was plucked from the brink of disaster yesterday in a breathtaking drama that played out on a narrow ledge more than 1,000 feet above city streets.

As scores of tourists watched in stunned disbelief, TV stunt show star Jeb Corliss ripped off an old fat man disguise – and scaled the 10-foot security fence around the 86th-floor observation deck.

He was precariously perched on a ledge far above 33rd St. and ready to jump, when security guards and cops reached through the fence and handcuffed the dodging dodo to the bars as witnesses gasped, cameras clicked and videotape rolled.

“Dude, you guys are going to kill me!” Corliss screamed as he tried to wriggle free. “You guys are going to kill me right now.

“Let me go!”

The 30-year-old Californian wore a helmet fitted with a camera, likely hoping to film his 1,050-foot plunge – with no regard for the safety of people on the streets below – for “Stunt Junkies,” a Discovery Channel show he hosts.
But cops and security guards, who had been tipped the death-wish scheme by someone claiming to be worried about Corliss, weren’t going to allow his latest attempt at twisted glory.

He had snuck into the storied skycraper around 4:30 p.m. wearing a $15,000 fat suit, a gray wig and a latex mask with a gray beard.

But once on the observation deck, he went into a bathroom, tore off the suit to reveal a parachute underneath, dashed to the curled railing and climbed it.

But he was slowed down by security guard Kevin Downes, who had chased him from the bathroom, giving cops and other security personnel precious seconds to leap into action.

“He was resistant. He tried to push off with his feet. He was fighting with us to get off,” said Timothy Donohue, a building manager.

One unidentified woman was so upset she thrust a fistful of cash at Corliss and tried to bribe him to come back.
Donohue and others finally got a good grip on Corliss’ harness before cuffing him.

“He wasn’t going without me and I really didn’t want to go for the ride,” said Donohue. “It’s New York City, it’s rush hour. It is not the time to jump off buildings.”

ESU cops with bolt cutters eventually snapped the cuffs, removed a portion of the fence and pulled Corliss back to safety, ending a 15-minute struggle. He kept his latex mask on until it was clear the only way he was reaching terra firma was in an elevator.

Outside the building, Corliss was grinning like a fool as cops – who had rushed to the top terror target – hauled him away. Meanwhile, Downes was taken to Bellevue Hospital with head and ankle injuries.

Corliss charged last night with a number of crimes including reckless endangerment, assault and resisting arrest.
“I wouldn’t describe him as a daredevil,” said NYPD Deputy Inspector James McCarthy. “I would describe him as an individual who obviously showed a depraved indifference for human life.

“In the worst case scenario, his parachute doesn’t open and he kills a number of people walking by.”
Still, the afternoon drama at New York’s tallest building gave visitors a show they’ll never forget.

Dennis Hook, 68, an English tourist, said, he thought the nail-biting spectacle “was a joke at the beginning. There was someone in a King Kong suit walking around so it looked like a show. It was unbelievable.”

Dutch tourists Edu De Neve, 57, his wife, Garda, and sons Mattijs, 27, and Guido, 25, were stunned by the sight of about 20 cops racing onto the observation deck to help subdue Corliss.

“It was something to see,” said Garda De Neve, 57, shaking her head in wonder.

Although she had been reluctant to come to the U.S. due to terrorism fears and the incident yesterday was less than a treat for the Dutch family, she said of her first visit to New York, “I love it here.”

Corliss is no stranger to risky business.

He’s chuted off the Palace Hotel here, the Skylon Tower in Niagara falls as well as the giant Petronas Towers in Malaysia.

His antics on the Empire State may have been timed to bring attention to the 102-story building’s 75th birthday Monday.

“It was absolutely unreal,” said a visibly shaken Mark Skelton, who is chaperoning a high school band from Cleveland, Ga. on a visit here. “You’d never think this kind of thing would happen.”

Skelton’s daughter, Erin, 15, couldn’t help but giggle: “I think it all was pretty cool.”

Towering legacy

The Empire State Building, which turns 75 Monday, has seen its share of triumph, tragedy – and stunts.
Here’s a look at some key events:
MAY 1, 1931 – The world’s tallest building opens, reaffirming American ingenuity in the depths of the Great Depression.
MARCH 2, 1933 – The blockbuster film “King Kong” seals the skyscraper’s place in the world’s imagination.
JULY 28, 1945 – A B-25 bomber plows into the 79th floor of the building in dense fog, killing 14 people.
APRIL 24, 1986 – Two British men parachute from the 86th floor observation deck. One got into a taxi, chute and all, but another was caught when he got snagged on a traffic light.
FEB. 23, 1997 – A gunman opens fire on the observation deck, killing one person and wounding six others before turning the weapon on himself.
OCT. 24, 1998 – Two daredevils escape after they parachute from the observation deck.
At least 35 people have killed themselves by plunging from the observation deck.

The Weirdest Audition Ever

I just got back from auditioning for Disney World. Today was their actor call and they were specifically looking for improvisers so I thought I might do OK. When I got there, the monitor told us to not bother with bringing sheet music in the audition room (if we had it) because they didn’t have a piano player and didn’t want to hear any singing. Just go in and do your monologue.

So I went in and did it. And there was much laughter in all the right parts. Then they asked me to improvise a character and I did the homeless guy I play as part of Accomplice NY. And again there was much laughter.

Then one of the guys asked me if I sang. I was confident when I said “I sure do.” Not confident because I can sing, but confident in saying I sure do because I knew they wouldn’t ask me to sing. I can sing a little bit, but there’s a reason I do improv and not musical theater.

Where was I? Oh yea, can I sing, and I said I sure do. So the guy responds with “Well, you’re very funny, your improv is great, you used “Yes and…,” you listen well, and you’re funny off the cuff. But you’re going to have to work on your singing because they do a lot of shows there with 8-bar songs and you know, it’s Florida, so they’re all really good.”

Huh? But wait, you didn’t even hear me sing! And when you asked me if I sang, I said I sure do!!

And since when is Florida the improv singing capital of the world? I’ve seen your improv shows at Pleasure Island, bub, and they weren’t all that.

Kind of like on American Idol (wow, it kind of calls back my post from yesterday, huh?) if they want to see more of you they gave you a yellow piece of paper and I did not get one. So yeah, it was weird.

But I’m not really too disappointed. I didn’t want to have to leave New York City to work because if you’re out of town working, no one in town sees your stuff. And I am glad I’ll be able to stick with the NCT for now.

Until, you know, they find out how well I actually sing.