Big Things Coming

26 09 2011

I know, I know, I say that every year. But this time it’s true!

Since moving back to Knoxville to finish school the career has kicked into high gear. Matt Ward of Knox Comedy and Coley O’Dell of Side Splitters Comedy have been doing right by me and I’ve got lots of gigs upcoming.

You can see me regularly at Side Splitters’ Open-Mic Wednesday and the Preservation Pub on Sunday’s for the Knox Comedy Open Mic.

This Sunday I’ll be hosting the Upstairs Underground Comedy Show at Preservation Pub on October 2nd. Alex Stone of Cincinnati will be headlining.

October 21st I’ll be performing on the Knox Comedy Booze Cruise. Get in contact with me for tickets. The more you buy, the more I get paid.

And every week you can download a new episode of my ongoing podcast Set to Jet. My friends and cohosts Jason Zapata and James Sutton join me to discuss comedy, geekery, the news of the day and whatever else strikes our fancy. Special guests will be forthcoming, and a full suite of podcast-related widgets will adorn the site soon.

I’m also working with local artists to get a new design for the site, so that’ll be cool. And regular updates! It’s all coming together, folk. Stay tuned!


Yar, an’ another thing…

19 09 2010

It again be Int’l Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day, and I aim ta celebrate the fact!

So lift a tank of grog (or non-alocholic grog substitute, iffin’ you be one o’them teetotallin’ types) an’ sing a shanty ’bout men dyin’ at sea or gettin’ piss drunk on forlorn docks. Me preference this year be fer’ Stan Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers”.

Yo-ho, all hands on sail, mizzenmast and…arr…um…cumberbund.

Okay, I think that’s enough for this year.

The First Rule of Post-PAX Parties…

19 09 2010

You do not blog about Post-PAX parties.

Wait…oh shit.

Well, screw it. We’re already here. So yes, I went to a party last night! It was amazing, easily the best party I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to, like, three of them, so clearly that makes me some kind of fucking expert.

The shindig started up on the Penny Arcade forums, where one of the Omeganaughts who lives here in Seattle invited the local PAXers to a barbecue at his place. We enjoyed some booze (read: a lot of booze), grilled meats and salty treats, there was lots of Rock Band playing and an impromptu fight club. Except for time with the missus I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday night.

I reconnected with my friend Agent Beryllium, whom I missed the chance to rock with at PAX and met a bunch of other awesome folk. A couple of the regulars from Gamma Ray Games, which is quickly becoming my preferred geek shop, a dude who looks uncannily like David Tennant and is responsible for creating the PAX Prank tradition, our illustrious host who’s apartment made me feel unsuccessful and inadequate and a girl who was named after a famous Star Trek character. All definitely folks I want to invest the time in getting to know.

So that was the weekend! Now I’m going to sleep off this hangover and try to scrimp together some money to buy a table. Maybe even a table and chair. Oooh, fancy living.

Also, in more official-type news, you can look to your left to see my Twitter feed. I’m not sure exactly what it’ll be used for other than short observations right now, but when the comedy/acting thing starts to pick up some steam it might actually serve some useful purpose. Exciting! And there should be open mic dates, as soon as I get some money to buy more than rice and hot dogs.

Greetings from Seattle!

6 09 2010

So the last…two and a half weeks? Has it really been that long since I left Knoxville? Anyway, the last two and a half weeks have been insane. My brother and his fiance drove across the country with me to Seattle in three days, ironman rules, which was both wondrous and terrifying. Kansas nearly broke my brother’s already fragile mind, and we literally nearly died over the Rockies. I thought we were mountain folk, coming from Vermont and what not. Turns out, no, we had no idea what real fucking mountains were. We’d be driving, I’d think “I’m dizzy”, and then up to three minutes would pass without any personal knowledge of it. Keep in mind I’m doing 60 down a switchback highway full of other cars.

We arrived in Seattle, I got my apartment set up, my girlfriend came down from Vancouver to meet the family (and also…do other things…of a less family-oriented nature. Unless you have a weird-ass family), and then it was off to PAX. My brother and I had been trying to hook up a visit to the Penny Arcade Expo since it first started in 2004, but one thing or another would always come up. The stars were finally right for the first PAX East in Boston…and then he was hit by a car.

I’ll keep the details private for his sake, but both he and his fiance were grievously injured and he was dead for a total of six minutes (not consecutive) before arriving at the hospital. The recovery process was brutal, and PAX East came and went. I knew I would be arriving in Seattle just in time for PAX Prime, and I thought that if we didn’t do it now there might never be another shot. Many pinched pennies and dubious loans later, we had our tickets and set the date for the journey west.

The convention was a spiritual experience. All the things you hear about PAX being a spontaneous nation or a party with thousands of the best friends you’ve never met are all true. I’ve only seen people so free with their love and kindness and openness in one other place, the Governor’s Institute for Art in Vermont as a teenager. I suspect for many of the same reasons: a sharing of common love, and a sense that in each place we were free to truly be ourselves.

I got to take a walk with Jerry Holkins and talk with him about writing and hats and the importance of strong women in life. I annoyed Scott Kurtz. I saw people arm-wrestling with the Protomen and a zombie break dance. I got on the jumbotron and made my brother Internet Famous and a PAX legend with his harrowing tale of beating death. I met a supervillainess from the future. I felt like I was home.

Now I’m setting up a twitter account (details soon!), looking for job listings, looking up venues for acting and comedy and preparing to drop off the siblings at the airport tonight. Then the real business of living here will begin and the magic of these first few weeks will fade away. But rather than lament the passing of this amazing time, I choose to see it as a portent of things to come. Life in Seattle is already off to an amazing start, and I believe the trend will only continue.

Open mic information and more missives to come. Stay tuned.

Good News From Seattle…

7 08 2010

And I’m not even there yet!

So I’ve got many friends sprinkled across the country and indeed the globe from my time as a traveler and internaut (that’s French for “internet user”. I just finished my last French class ever and I’m trying to make the most of it). Anyway! Many of these friends are in many interesting fields and offer many interesting opportunities. Such as for work. Work like film work.

I’m not at liberty yet to give details, but I have lined up my first real, honest-to-god movie gig. It’s not big time SAG stuff, but it’s a resume credit, it’ll be close to feature length and I might even get paid.

Haven’t even packed up my dishes and already this move is getting results.

More as it becomes available.

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” – a review “Inception”

26 07 2010

Written & Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Leonardo di Caprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy

I think it’s now safe to say that Christopher Nolan is my favorite director. Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight…I’ve yet to see a film of his that I didn’t like. No, scratch that, that I didn’t love. I’ve said before that I like the movies I review to fall into strong polarities of quality, and Nolan’s always delivered on the positive end of that scale. With Inception, he continues that history. Inception is easily now at the top of my running for Movie of the Year.

I’ve read a few times that you can’t discuss the plot of Inception without spoiling it, but I’m not sure where that idea comes from. It’s an oddly paced film, as one would expect a movie that takes place largely in dreams to be, but it bisects pretty cleanly into two halves, the first rather different from the second. Essentially, we meet Cobb (di Caprio) and his partner Arthur (Gordon-Levitt) in the middle of a job. The job in question: stealing valuable data from a powerful business man named Saito (Watanabe) in his dreams, a process called “extraction”. They don’t do so well, but Saito is impressed none the less and offers them a deal. Saito’s connections will get clear Cobb’s criminal record and get him back to the States and his family. In exchange, Cobb and Arthur must implant an idea into the heir of an energy conglomerate on the way to being a global superpower, through a process called “inception”. Cobb and Arthur assemble a crack team to get it done, but Ariadne (Ellen Page), a gifted but unproven dream architect, discovers Cobb’s harboring a dark secret that could lead to disaster for the entire crew.

That’s a rough outline of course but very close to what does transpire in the first half of the film. You might notice a few things odd in that breakdown, for instance no discussion about how these men and women enter a sleeping person’s mind or where the technology comes from. The reason is quite simple. We’re just not told. Nolan is not a hard science fiction writer, and though he gives us a good working explanation of the mechanics of dream exploration (through a stunning training sequence between di Caprio and Page) the focus is on how this ability to enter dreams can create interesting problems and interactions for the characters. Like in a dream, how we got to this point is lost to the now and you find yourself not really caring. In the first half of the film the stakes for our characters seem rather low, since injuries in dreams have no real effect on the waking body. The second half introduces a twist that adds clear and present danger and ties directly to the growing character arc.

The picture offers up visual treats. Mutability of the dream environments isn’t played with too much but when it is the results are phenomenal, like The Matrix set in an M.C. Escher painting. Dreams in American and European cinema are traditionally depicted as sort of fluid and soft, an out-of-focus drug trip. Here dreams are hard and mechanical, laid out by engineers and architects. These are serious people doing serious business; the intrusion of fantasy is a hazard at best, fatal at worst. When things get too weird or go badly for the dreamer it all falls apart as if the universe itself were collapsing inward. The movement of bodies is imposed on the dream-worlds, so gravity can shift wildly without warning. Objects explode exponentially into ever smaller slow-motion snowflakes and trains careen through downtown streets. Seeing a city fold in on itself was one of the most powerful visual moments in cinema this year. Even without woo-woo gooey camera filters and such we’re still very much in a strange, mutable world within Inceptions dreams.

The characters were fun though very archetypal. You’ve got the loyal, all-business right hand man in Levitt’s Arthur, the wisecracking conman in Tom Hardy’s Eames…It was sort of like Ocean’s 11, with six less people and not nearly as many jokes. Exploration of rebuilding dreamscapes – and therefore Ellen Page’s character – wasn’t used enough, but she still shone through as a serious actress able to go toe-to-toe dramatically with other performers. And as usual, a female character who is highly capable and is not a love interest is a welcome change of pace from Hollywood’s agenda. I’ve heard it said di Caprio was reprising his role from Shutter Island sans the Bostonian accent. I can’t speak to that, never having seen the film. He gives a strong take as a man slowly losing his grip on reality and trying to atone before that clock winds down. If Shutter Island is comparable I may have to pick it up.

It’s been over a week now since release, so it may be that you’ve already made a decision one or the other about Inception. If you’re still on the fence or opted against it let me implore you in the strongest terms to see it. If you can’t now, pick up the DVD when it’s available. You will not get another summer movie that is so intelligent, rewarding and original.

Lightin’ Out for the Territories…

21 07 2010

I’ve been sitting on this bit of news for a while but now that I’ve sealed the deal on leaving it seems time to write it up.

I’m going to be leaving Knoxville and moving to Seattle for at least 10 months, maybe longer, possibly forever. I got accepted to the National Student Exchange, which is sort of like study abroad but…not abroad. Anyway, I’ll be going to the University of Washington from September to June and I will do my damndest to try and weedle my way into state residency and a transfer to UW in earnest to finish out my school career.

Now that I’ve got all my classes registered, an apartment lined up, funding secured and I put in the notice of moving out with my current apartment, I feel secure in believing this is a real thing that is going to happen.

There’s a lot of reasons for the move west. It’ll be better for my career as an actor and comedian with a lot more venues and industry connections to be made; I’ll be closer to my girlfriend while she’s in grad school; I’ll finally get the chance at living in a real Big City, my heart’s desire since I found out there were no 7-Elevens in my hometown.

And, with luck, I’ll have more stuff to post about. For real this time. Seriously.

I’m going to be leaving on the big push with my brother and sister-in-law hopefully on August 23rd, to be in Seattle in time for the Penny Arcade Expo, and there will be much fun had by all as we light out for the territories.

Also, a review of Inception will be up shortly, probably the wee hours of tomorrow. Here’s a preview: “Go see Inception.”