Stairway to Heaven

December 30, 2008
What will you post this as?

What will you post this as?

So, I got tagged on this meme last week, courtesy of Mr. Danny Bowes, the writer-director of Byron Invented Boredom. Here’s how it goes…

1. Put your iPod (or media player) on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!
4. Tag 10 friends who may enjoy the quiz as well as the person you got the note from.

Here’s what I came up with…

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY?
“Irresistible Bitch” by Prince

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
“Morning Song” by Zero 7

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
“Rhythm of Love” by Yes

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
“Mainline Florida” by Eric Clapton

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
“Dance, Pt. 1” by The Rolling Stones

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
“The Bridge is Over” by Boogie Down Productions

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
“He Got Game” by Public Enemy

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
“Flying in a Blue Dream” by Joe Satriani

WHAT IS 2+2?
“Living After Midnight” by Judas Priest

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
“Message in a Bottle” by The Police

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
“Paid in Full” by Eric B. & Rakim

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
“Welcome Back (Theme From Welcome Back, Kotter)” by John Sebastian

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
“The Chamber of 32 Doors” by Genesis

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
“Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Camper Van Beethoven

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
“Aja” by Steely Dan

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
“Battleflag” by Pigeonhed

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
“Deja Vu” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
“Rock Box” by Run-D.M.C.

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
“Senses Working Overtime” by XTC

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
“The Memory Remains” by Metallica

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
“Annie Get Your Gun” by Squeeze

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
“Reena” by Sonic Youth

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
“867-5309 (Jenny)” by Tommy Tutone

WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
“Nervous Breakthrough” by Luscious Jackson

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
“Black Friday” by Steely Dan

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

I can’t re-tag Danny on this because he doesn’t have a blog or web link. So, I’m just gonna go ahead and tag: Adam, Alyssa, Isaac, James, Mac, Matt, No. 11 Productions, Qui, Samantha, and Stephanie. Have at it, people!


nytheatre sis Strikes Again

December 29, 2008
nytheatre sis

nytheatre sis

It’s been a while since I last updated you all about the doings of my little sister, Carla – a.k.a. nytheatre sis. She’s had a lot going on since the last time I wrote about her, so here is the latest…

  • She landed a pair of poems in the October issue of Lunarosity, both of which you can read here.
  • Her poem “The Comforter” appeared in issue # 10 of the print-only journal Cause & Effect. If you are so inclined you can go online and order a copy here. I guarantee it will be worth it.
  • In Fall of 2009, her poem “Posing” will be published by the literary journal Main Street Rag. So keep an eye out for that one. Fall of 2009, people.

All of this certainly qualifies her to be at the top of my own personal 2008 People of the Year list. So, for continuing to dominate the poetic and literary landscape of America, take a bow, nytheatre sis!


I’m a Person of the Year!

December 18, 2008
2008 People of the Year honoree nytheatre mike in "Babylon Babylon"

nytheatre mike - one of nytheatre.com's 2008 People of the Year - in "Babylon Babylon"

I’ve been a little slow in making the following announcement, but, in case you hadn’t already heard, I’ve been selected as one of nytheatre.com’s 2008 People of the Year! Very exciting, I have to say. The 15 annual honorees are chosen for “indelible contributions to the cultural landscape during the past 12 months,” and I’m glad somebody thought I made some. I was picked specifically for “a stream of successful performances this year that showcased his remarkable versatility.” And what performances were those, you ask? Here’s a recap…

My very special thanks to all of the writers, directors, and theater companies who asked me to be in their shows; and to all of my co-stars, who made me look good onstage. If it weren’t for all of you, no one would be thinking twice about me. So thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the opportunities this year.

And even more special thanks to Martin and Rochelle Denton at nytheatre.com, for their enduring and continued support of my career – and the careers of dozens/hundreds/thousands of other artistic folk like me and the other honorees. I shudder to think where we would all be without them.

Martin and I recently recorded an end-of-the-year podcast about the lucky honorees, which you can listen to here. It’s a good time, as always.

And who are some of the other honorees, you ask? Well, they happen to include many friends and colleagues, like…

Gyda Arber in "Babylon Babylon"

Gyda Arber in "Babylon Babylon"

  • Gyda Arber – director and co-star of Q & A: The Perception of Dawn; creator and co-writer of Suspicious Package; co-star of Babylon Babylon, Everything Must Go, and Lord Oxford Presents the Second American Revolution Live!; Outreach Director for The Brick Theater; and longtime nytheatre.com contributor
Arthur Aulisi in "Linus & Alora"

Arthur Aulisi in "Linus & Alora"

Tales from the Land of Ice!"

Ivanna Cullinan in "The Granduncle Quadrilogy: Tales from the Land of Ice!"

Bricken Sparacino

Bricken Sparacino

Adam Groves and Rebecca Benhayon in "Kansas City or Along the Way"

Adam Groves and Rebecca Benhayon in "Kansas City or Along the Way"

Many congratulations to all of this year’s honorees! As you can see, I am in very good company. If you haven’t checked any of them out yet, keep your eyes and ears open for them in 2009 – I’m sure they will all be just as busy!

And thanks again to Martin and Rochelle for the great honor. Consider the bar officially raised for me in 2009.


My New Strategy

December 15, 2008
nytheatre mike's current headshot

nytheatre mike's current headshot

So, with the economic situation being what it is these days, a few people have finally started speaking out and letting the world know what’s on their minds.

Zack Calhoon anticipates rough times ahead here and here.

John Clancy gets rightfully uppity here and a little more contemplative here.

At lunch last week, my newlywed buddy Dan told me he thought the feeling out on the street lately was starting to be a little more Taxi Driver than usual.

My own reaction to the impending collapse of the entire U.S. financial system has been somewhat more whimsical. Losing my most recent temp job has led me to try a new career strategy.

I’ve decided to try being a full-time working actor. Just like I always wanted to be when I grew up.

I figure I’ve got nothing to lose at this point. The economy’s in the toilet, everyone I know is losing their job, companies are laying off people in droves, so I’m guessing “survival jobs” have all but dried up for the time being.

Plus, I think I’ve reached my saturation point as far as day job office work goes. Which is just as well, since my temp agencies have been good for pretty much nothing all year.

Being an actor sounds pretty good after all, doesn’t it?

And for those of you who think the SAG membership is going to authorize a strike vote, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. The last thing the membership wants to do is go on strike in the current economic climate, no matter how much they’d like to.

Does my new strategy sound capricious? Careless? Ill-advised? Downright stupid?

It may seem that way to some. But, to me it’s the most logical move in the world. The way my last temp job ended made me realize I wasn’t cut out for that way of life anymore. And holding down a day job while waiting for my ship to come in – i.e. landing full-time paid acting work – has, so far, gotten me nowhere.

So, guess what? I’m going for it without the “survival job” safety net. Why? Because I’ve realized, at least for myself, that I can’t expect to fulfill my career goals as an actor unless I dedicate myself to them fully.

My new strategy also creates a sense of urgency. I have to find some acting work soon, before my paltry savings runs out, or else…well, I really will be living the typical struggling artiste lifestyle. So, I have to get off my ass and make shit happen. Fast.

Luckily, the universe has started to respond in small ways. A day’s work on a TV show here. An audition or two there. I’m submitting the ol’ picture and resume for two to five gigs a day, almost every day. Been doin’ that for the past week and a half. So something’s gotta hit at some point. It’s only a matter of time.

Of course, I’m under no illusions that this is all going to happen overnight. I figure I’ll do some odd jobs to keep me going as needed, whatever those turn out to be. But a return to office life anytime soon is unlikely. I’m tired of putting on the monkey suit and enduring the rush hour commute.

This also doesn’t mean that I’ll be turning my back on the indie theater community that has so lovingly taken me under their wing. In fact, I’ve got a new indie show starting rehearsals in a couple of weeks. But, I’m also going to try branching out into other areas: regional theater, Off-Broadway, independent film…Hell, maybe even a nice big fat Broadway show. I just want to pay my rent doing artistic shit that I like to do. That’s all.

So, with that said, I’ll keep you posted on what develops. More to come soon.


Random Wednesday Ups and Downs

December 3, 2008
The newlyweds - Dan Truman and Ninon Rogers

The newlyweds - Dan Truman and Ninon Rogers

Last week had its share of serious ups and downs. First, the ups…

To start with the obvious: it was Thanksgiving, and that was awesome. Ate like kings and queens over here at HQ, thanks to the nytheatre mom. Had some good company thanks to The Companion, her buddy Kate, the nytheatre sis, and her pal Adrienne. It was a good time, as usual.

Next up were the weekend nuptials of my friends and fellow theater folk, Dan Truman and Ninon Rogers (pictured above). I loves me a good wedding as much as the next person, and theirs was one of the best I’ve been to in a while. It was a traditional Quaker ceremony held at the Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, Queens, and it was a little something different for most in attendance. You read about how it all works here, but part of the ceremony (at least as outlined in the wedding invite) involved the following:

“If moved to speak, a person will stand and do so as his or her words may enrich others’ understanding.”

It didn’t take long for those in attendance to loosen up and start talking. Lots of people spoke at the ceremony, and it was both moving and delightful. I, personally, was just mustering up the guts to do so when the ceremony ended. Drat! As Phil Collins would say, I missed again.

But I didn’t want to let Dan and Ninon’s wedding pass without throwing my two cents in. So, here’s what I would’ve said at the ceremony if I’d grown a pair in time…

“I’m a friend of both the bride and groom. Dan and I have done many many shows together. Ninon and I went to high school together. The thing I like about what’s happening here is that it’s a wonderful reminder of all the great surprises life throws at us. And the fact that these two people from different parts of my life have come together like this, independent from me, is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. I thank you both for giving us that, and for asking us all here today to help send you on your way.”

The Companion and I had a great time. Held hands in the pew. Danced the night away at the reception (which convened at the lovely Flushing Town Hall). She looked absolutely beautiful and fantastic. As one of the assembled said later in the evening, “I will never think of Northern Boulevard the same way again!”

Now, for the bad…

Like so many in our current economic situation, I lost my job last week. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if the timing hadn’t been so God awful: my boss cut me loose the day before Thanksgiving – without any notice. Thanks a lot.

Needless to say my now former boss is not one of my favorite people right now. I’m resisting the urge to say lots of nasty things about her in favor of embracing the good Quaker vibes still lingering from the weekend. Let me just say that she’s a shithead and leave it at that.

Of course, with no immediate source of income, this means Christmas is dicey at best. I apologize in advance to The Companion and my family for the anticipated paucity of gifts this year.

And all those shows I was planning on going to see this month? Yeah, most of those are probably not happening either.

Oh, and my rent and bills? Yeah, we’ll see what happens there. I might need to make a few pre-emptive phone calls.

In honor of getting canned, however, I give you a Random Wednesday Top 10 dedicated to some of the survival jobs I’ve had over the years. Some were good, some were bad, all of them fulfilled their purpose for however long I had them. Here are the highlights, in chronological order…

  • 1. Cook Campus Center Cafe – The work study job at the my first college, Rutgers University. I was assigned there to be a short order cook. When I told the work study administrator that I didn’t know how to cook she simply told me, “On-the-job training!” and sent me out her door.
  • 2. Jacob’s Run – A now defunct bar in downtown Wilmington, NC. I was offered a job there as a bouncer and a barback after becoming one of the hardcore regulars. “Mike, you’re here almost every day – you might as well get paid for it.” Indeed. Good friends, good times, lots of drama. Isn’t that what everyone’s early 20s are about?
  • 3. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books – I worked here back when it was both a bookstore and a book publisher. The hub was up on West 71st Street, a short walk from my apartment, and it turned out that two of my co-workers at the time were Ian W. Hill (in the back office with the publishers) and Christopher Carter Sanderson (out on the sales floor with me). Crazy.
  • 4. Spring Street Books – Another now defunct location. I wanted another bookstore job after working at Applause. They needed a bag check/security person. I got hired on the strength of my bar bouncer experience. I only stayed here an excrutiatingly boring three months before jetting.
  • 5. HMV Record Store – The longest tenure of any retail job I ever held: I worked for these guys, on-and-off, for about four years. I was stationed at the West 72nd Street store back when HMV was aiming to muscle in on Tower Records’ U.S. territories. This gig supported me through my years at NYU (College # 3). I worked just about every department in the store that wasn’t Rock, Classical, or Video: Soundtracks, Musicals, Country, World Music, Jazz, Vocalists, and Blues, etc.
  • 6. Alice Tully Hall Box Office – My official transition into office life and a post-NYU survival job that served me well. A little over two years there spent processing ticket orders for Jazz at Lincoln Center and the New York Film Festival. Incredibly flexible schedule that helped me launch my acting career here and allowed me to start my own (also now defunct) theater company for a time.
  • 7. The Atlantic Philanthropies – What started out as a 3-day temp job ended up going permanent for nearly four years. Learned a lot about big time corporate philanthropy at this one. Also got my good friend Don Jordan – who I ran my defunct theater company with – a job there. Miraculously, he is still with them.
  • 8. Experian CheetahMail – Working for corporate spammers might sound like a lousy job, but it was actually one of the best. Great people, laid back atmosphere, casual dress code – what else can you ask for? A much-needed survival job at a time when I was close to destitute, due largely to the machinations of my good friend Cathy McNelis (to whom I am still eternally grateful).
  • 9. Columbia Business School – A 3-month temp gig from earlier this year that lasted through approximately three shows: Merry Mount, 3800 Elizabeth, and Babylon Babylon. Again, located conveniently near my home. And the Time Warner Center turns out to be a great place to learn one’s lines during lunch.
  • 10. Simon & Schuster – The latest debacle. The less said, the better.

I hope you and all of yours had a wonderful, Happy Thanksgiving. And my congratulations, once again, to the newlyweds! Thanks for the invite, you two. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.