a little boat looking for a harbor



StageIt was Friday afternoon. My manager called me and said he was sending me audition sides for a meeting that would happen Monday or Tuesday. He told me about the show and the role, and in spite of everything I have learned in 37 years as an actor, I got excited because it was really fantastic stuff.

I read the sides, and extracted as much as I could about the character from them. See, there’s a preparation thing that I have to do whenever I’m going to perform a role, whether it’s for a job I’ve booked, an audition, something on-camera or a voice job: I read the scene (or the whole script) and I ask a series of questions based on what it tells me. What does this person want? What’s in his way? How does he feel about that? What does he do about how he feels?

Sometimes, a scene makes the answers to those questions really easy to find. It’s there in the dialog, and in the prose that the writer uses to describe the scene. Sometimes, the characters are drawn so clearly, finding those answers is as easy as reading the words on the page. But most of the time, I have to do some work to find the writer’s intention, so that I can take words on a page and turn them into a character that makes the audience feel something. For this particular audition, the character was fairly clear, and though I didn’t get to read the entire script, the audition sides were an interesting scene that told me a lot about who he was, and why he was interacting with the other character in the scene.

I broke the scene into some broad strokes, so that I knew what he wanted. Then I broke down the lines into specific actions that let him deal with what was in his way, and how he felt about those things. To be completely honest, this is my very favorite part of being an actor. I love breaking down a script and then breaking down its scenes and then breaking down those scenes into even more specific actions, so that every single thing I do, every choice I make, is logical and real and grounded in the reality of the character and the world he lives in.

So Friday evening came around, and I hadn’t heard from casting, so I knew I wasn’t going to be called in on Monday. Monday arrived, and as the day went on, I heard nothing, and I began to wonder if the producers had offered the job to someone else over the weekend. My manager called me as I was writing an email to him, and he told me I had an appointment the following morning. It was a period piece, and I happened to own some clothing that is appropriate (and would hide my tattoos), so I asked if it would be weird to wear it.

“Casting actually asked if you could please dress as much in the period as possible,” he told me. So that was pretty awesome.

I went to work on the scene. I developed my understanding of the character, including what was at stake for him, why he was there, and what he wanted. Then I realized that there was a power dynamic in play, and that thought he was giving the appearance of being there to do something for the other character, what he actually wanted to do was set her up, so he could use her to get the thing he really wanted. I have to say that I was particularly proud of myself for uncovering that, because it wasn’t super clear in the text. It was there as one possible interpretation, and I decided to make that my interpretation. If I was wrong, I’d find out in about 15 hours.

Preparing this audition was fun, mostly because all the writing I’ve been doing lately has put me into an artistic frame of mind that made it easy to see what the writer intended. Preparing this audition wasn’t intimidating, because I’ve been doing so much voice acting, I have a confidence and security in my ability to perform that I wouldn’t have, otherwise.

So I went into the meeting on Tuesday morning feeling really solid and confident and comfortable.

And I did a great job. I only read the scene once, and the casting director told me that she didn’t need me to do it again.

And I knew that I wasn’t going to get the job, because I never get the job.

But I still had fun, and I still enjoyed it, and I’m still proud of the work that I did, because when the casting director described the character’s motivation to me, she told me to do exactly what I had already prepared. Something like that does a lot for an actor’s confidence, you know?

So I nailed it. And I let myself believe, for a very brief moment, that maybe I had a chance to play this character, who will be on this show for seven of ten episodes. Maybe this will be the time that I got lucky and all those things I can’t control, all those things that are not my performance, would line up in my favor. Maybe I’d get to do some work that would be rewarding and challenging and memorable and important.

But I didn’t get the job. They loved me, but went with someone else. I don’t know why, just that they did. They always do.

And even though I know, intellectually, that there’s nothing wrong with me, that I didn’t go in there and stink it up, that there are countless factors out of my control that have nothing to do with the one thing I could control and all it takes is one of those things to not go my way …. But I still feel, emotionally and irrationally, like there is something wrong with me, because I never book the job. I feel like I got my one swing of the bat for the season, put the ball in play like I was supposed to, and still didn’t get on base.

And now I have to find and focus on the good things in this experience, like how much fun it was to prepare it, how I did a good job for a casting director who will hopefully bring me back for other roles on other shows, or maybe another role on this show. I have to remember that feeling proud of myself, feeling creatively satisfied, feeling like I did a good enough job to earn the role even if I didn’t get cast, I have to remember that all of those things are real, and valid, and it’s okay to have felt good when they happened.

Even though I know all of those things, all I feel right now is disappointment. Even though I knew it was coming, even though I knew I wouldn’t get the part, because I never get the part, I am still really sad that I didn’t get the part.

the pretentious bullshit collection (selections)



I’ve been doing this stupid and amusing thing on my Instagram for a few months, called The Pretentious Bullshit Collection.

For example:

Pencil, with paperclips. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.
Pencil, with paperclips. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.


 Distant tiles, close tiles, bathroom tiles. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.
Distant tiles, close tiles, bathroom tiles. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.


Tiempo por El Catrin. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.
Tiempo por El Catrin. From the Pretentious Bullshit collection.

So you get the idea, right? Super pretentious, overwrought bullshit pictures of nothing, puffed up with wordy captions and declared to be art, but you probably don’t get it because it’s not for you. I guess it’s part serious art and part parody? It’s mostly parody.

I’ve been having so much fun with it, and so many people have enjoyed the sheer lunacy of the whole thing, I went ahead and made a very small, massively overpriced, hardback collection using some of my pictures. Go beyond the magical thing here to learn more about it:

Say hello to The Pretentious Bullshit Collection (selections), which will be available for a very short time, in what I imagine are very limited quantities because it’s insanely overpriced.

Pretentious Bullshit Cover
I am full colour, trapped in a black and white world that does not understand me.

It’s 21 pages, introduced in the most pretentious way I could muster:

You have been granted an unprecedented view into the themes and leitmotif that weave to form the zeitgeist. It reveals itself only to the worthy.

Selections from this exquisite collection, presented here, challenge you to uncover the pulchritude, mystery, and meaning, within and without, from the deceptively mundane to the secretly transcendent.

Choose to see and your eyes will be opened.

I had a heck of a time finding the right voice, and committing to the bit, but I had fun, and now it’s done. If you have a stupid amount of money to throw at a stupid art project that you’re going to regret, it’s — wait. Let me try that again, in my pretentious voice:

This is a truly exceptional collection of images that you will likely not understand, but you are welcome to try. This will disappoint, confound, and challenge you. It is inscrutable, beyond your reach, and is probably not for you. But if you are willing to open your eyes, perhaps you will see.

People really talk like that, you know. I think it probably sounds good when it’s clacking out of a mechanical typewriter.

So now that this particular creative itch has been scratched, I’m going to go back to work on the real stuff.

cough sneeze cough cough cough itch



Either something in our air is poking my allergies with a pollen-covered stick, or I’m coming down with some sort of stupid summer cold. Either way, I’m am SO OVER having a headache, sneezing my face off, and feeling like I’m going to suffocate when I’m trying to sleep.

The only thing that’s working at all is Benadryl, which is fine when I go to bed, but during the day makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a warm, wet, woolen blanket made of honey that is not just wrapped around my entire body, but also has a smaller version of itself wrapped around my brain.

So my options are basically: feel like I’m experiencing the world through three inches of honey, or feel like I’m wearing a suit made of bees. Since Friday, I’ve chosen the honey, and while it’s preferable to the alternative, I’d very much like to be done with this bullshit, now.

In other news: I’m writing a lot, five days a week, and I’m actually getting lots of stuff done, just like a real Writer does. This is what I was looking for and needing for the last year, and boy am I glad I found my way back to this place where I am right now (minus the histamine or whatever) because I can honestly say that I genuinely feel happy and content pretty much constantly since I did.

While I wait for the other shoe to drop, I have some really neat things in my queue that aren’t just these writing projects. I’ve been scheming with my friend, Sean Bonner, about making some super-limited art project things that we’ll release in the soon.

Speaking of the soon: Legendary Entertainment, which is Geek & Sundry’s parent company, has delayed the release of Tabletop Season Four again. It’s entirely out of my hands, and I’m just as ready to release it as the audience is to watch it. As soon as I know what the release date is (more specifically than “Fall”) and as soon as I know that date isn’t going to change, I’ll let you know.

Speaking of awesome books about dogs, we are selling A Guide To Being A Dog by Seamus Wheaton again, but it’s super-limited to only 200 copies. If you want one, get it now.

Okay, Benadryl, let’s go wrap me up in honey because the bees are starting to wake up.


Happy Friday. Here’s a Meerkat!



This was a good week for me. I got a lot of creative work done, including almost 10,000 words on a short story that keeps getting longer and is more fun to discover and tell than I was expecting. I also ran a whole bunch, with a decent pace, as I train to increase my conditioning and strength for a 10K, and maybe a half-marathon later this year.

Also, I took a picture of a meerkat when Anne and I went to the zoo on Monday, and I liked it enough to share it with you, Internet:


Meerkats are so cute, I always think they should be holding tiny coffee cups and talking about TPS reports.

Anyway, I wish everyone a relaxing and peaceful weekend. Be kind to one another.

in which i am, again, easily amused.



I ran hard yesterday, and if a stupid cramp in my side hadn’t made me walk the last 800 or so meters, I would have done 5K in under 30 minutes. That’s probably not that big a deal for people who regularly run, but for a 44 year-old dude who spends most of his day sitting at a desk, it was pretty awesome.

So last night, I decided that I would sit in an epsom salt bath, to minimize the aches my legs would almost certainly be serving up today, on account of me being a middle-aged guy who ran really hard yesterday.

After soaking for about 30 minutes, I poured some of Anne’s bubbles into the tub, because bubbles. Then I sent her a picture of me, peeking up over the top of the bubble mountain, and I thought, hey, this is just like Space Madness

So I recreated, in photos, one of my favorite Ren & Stimpy bits and posted it on Twitter


So, totally stupid, but supremely amusing to me, because I am easily amused.

If you, like apparently millions of people on Twitter, don’t know what this is referencing, let me help you out:

I got some of the specific dialog wrong, but since I was doing it from 25 year-old memory, I’m giving myself a pass.

Trump’s reckless “second amendment” comment isn’t just a threat to Secretary Clinton



I wrote this yesterday. Since it was published, I’ve read a lot of columns from people who had the same thoughts I did, more or less, with one significant difference: a consensus has emerged that Trump knew exactly what he was doing, exactly what he was saying, and that this wasn’t just what he thought was a joke. Trump has a documented history of inciting violence at his rallies, and everyone who is in Trump’s base (and adjacent to it, in the larger Conservative movement) knows precisely what someone means when they say wink wink second amendment wink. Look no further than the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by a lunatic with a gun who bought into the paranoid Right Wing fantasy, peddled by the NRA, that aggrieved citizens can take up arms against their government if they believe the government is “tyrannical” (which is entirely subjective, of course). So with that context:

I don’t think Donald Trump sincerely believes that anyone will actually go shoot Hillary Clinton. I don’t think he was explicitly saying Hey someone go shoot her. I think he was trying to make what he thought was a joke, but because he’s such a complete asshole, it wasn’t funny.

But that doesn’t matter, because the threat that he made today isn’t limited to Secretary Clinton. When someone in the position he is in — a celebrity entertainer who is the Republican nominee for president — suggests that not only would it be acceptable for the Second Amendment Crowd to go take care of her, but laughs about it, he is normalizing violent behavior, on a national stage.

Someone who wants to go shoot Secretary Clinton doesn’t need Donald Trump to tell him (because it’s almost always a man who does this sort of thing) to go do it. But what about the angry alt-right guy who wants to go use his Second Amendment Remedy to take care of another high-profile woman who bothers him? What about the unhinged guy who hates me, or John Scalzi, or Jessica Valenti, or Anita Sarkeesian? What about that guy, who is waiting to hear someone say what the voices in his head are saying? How much did the danger to us and people like us go up today, because Donald Trump normalized and amplified his thinking?

We never know what it’s going to be that sets a dangerous and mentally ill person off. Charles Manson heard The White Album, and in his disturbed mind, that was the call he needed to hear to set his murderous rage into action. John Hinckley was inspired by a movie. David Berkowitz was moved to kill by a barking dog.

My point is that there are mentally unstable people out there who don’t need a lot of encouragement to turn their fantasies into real life tragedies,and Donald Trump may have spoken loudly and clearly to them today. That is truly dangerous, and — like so many things he’s said and done — it further disqualifies him from holding elected office.