Friday, September 28, 2007

Friends Don't Let Friends Google Friends

There are these two guys.

The first guy is someone I knew a long time ago. I mean, like a quarter of a century ago. During my Star Wars/Lego/GI Joe years, this guy was my best friend. I probably haven't seen him since 1984.

The other guy is slightly famous. He writes comic books. I don't know when I first heard of him, but it was at least two or three years ago. I think I may even have read one of his books. I've certainly heard of the titles.

I discovered recently that these two people, one of whom I remembered from years ago, the other I was vaguely aware of as a noteworthy figure in the hallowed halls of nerd-dom, are in fact the same person. The comic book writer is known by a different name. Wikipedia supplied a couple other pieces of evidence that makes me certain of the ID.

It's a weird thing. If I had come across, say, a MySpace page for my old friend, I would have instantly shot him a "Hey! Remember me? What's up?" message. But now I feel weird about it. I mean, the guy has a freakin' Wikipedia entry about him. I've read reviews of his work on Ain't It Cool News. I can't just try and contact him out of the blue now. I'll look like a dick. Won't I?

I'm genuinely curious. What, if anything, should I do here?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Something Is Missing

My goodness. Three weeks into the NFL season and I am only just now getting around to writing about it. Shameful. Truth to tell, there has not been much for me to write about. My football-watching experience is severely limited by my current theatre obligations. Last night's debacle at Soldier Field was the first game I could watch live.

Sad to say, I am losing faith in Rex Grossman. I know, I was among his staunchest supporters during his darkest outings last season. I really believed he had the goods, and he just needed some experience and a healthy, productive off-season to make him one of the top quarterbacks in the league. It appears I was mistaken. After three games he has passed for exactly one touchdown while throwing six interceptions. His completion rating is barely over fifty percent, and he's already been sacked nine times. Certainly it isn't all his fault, but most of it is. Watching him against the Cowboys, whose starting QB Tony Romo has exactly as much NFL experience as Grossman does, it became apparent that Rex's ability to throw the ball a hundred miles doesn't amount to much when you get sacked twice just by tripping over people. Rex's QB rating is only a few points higher than kicker Robbie Gould's, who has thrown exactly one pass this year, on a trick play. It was incomplete.

Now, I can't focus all my frustration on Rex. There are other players on the team who are not carrying their weight. Bernard Berrian's dropped passes last night could have changed the momentum of the game. Safety Adam Archuleta had a hell of a time wrapping up on tackles. And we're getting burned by injuries left and right. There's plenty of blame to go around.

And there's some good stuff, too. Greg Olsen looked sharp in his first pro outing. Desmond Clark had a great catch during our one touchdown-scoring drive last night. Our defense in general is still a monster, but the strain of having to win the game on their own became apparent toward the end.

There is a trend in the NFL, that teams who lose the Super Bowl have awful follow-up seasons. So far the Bears are doing little to break that trend. During the game last night you could hear the crowd chanting for backup QB Brian Griese. The change might give a slight boost for a game or two, but it won't fix the fundamental problem. I'm starting to think there is something in the mentality of the organization that makes it difficult for a quarterback to find his stride here. The Bears have had forty starting quarterbacks in the last forty-seven years. There has to be a reason behind a statistic as ridiculous as that.

But at least I'm not gonna ask for my money back for Rex's jersey. We went to the Super Bowl with that guy. You can't take that away from him.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wheel of Time turns...

...and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

James Oliver Rigney, Jr., better known by his pen name, Robert Jordan, has died. In March of 2006 he announced that he had been diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis. At the time he said he had been given a life expectancy of four years. Since then his frequent updates through his blog were upbeat and positive.

I started reading his epic series The Wheel of Time in 1990. The series rivals Tolkien's work in scope and detail. Perhaps too much detail; I must confess I stopped reading after the seventh book, A Crown of Swords. I decided I would wait until he finished the series, then go ahead and read the whole thing. I was excited when I heard, after the eleventh volume came out in 2005, that the series would conclude at the end of Book Twelve. Now, sadly, it appears the book and the series will go unfinished.

George R.R. Martin has posted a very nice eulogy on his blog here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Best Review Ever (To Date)

Catey Sullivan of the Pioneer Press News-Star had this to say about my work in City Lit's The Hound of the Baskervilles:

The combination of McCabe's adaptation, Theis able direction and the cast's pitch-perfect performances is evident early on, when country doctor John Mortimer (Christopher M. Walsh) reads a document that fills in Holmes and Watson (and the audience) on the Baskerville curse and highlights the necessity of getting to the bottom of the mystery before young Henry Baskerville (Chris Cantelmi) follows in the footsteps of his unfortunate ancestors.

Like a one-person symphony, Walsh begins his recitation with matter-of-fact understatement, and builds to a rip-roaring crescendo of midnight screams and sudden death at the ghastly hands unknown phantoms.

"One-person symphony." Hee! The rest of the review is just as glowing. Y'all should come check out the show. Just twelve performances left!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When It Rains It Pours

I have another show to add to my list of upcoming... er... shows. I just got cast in the world premiere of Chalk, written by Brad Lawrence and directed by Nathan Robbel for the Right Brain Project. We had the first read-through on Tuesday, start rehearsals next Tuesday, and run October 25th through November 26th.

Also, the first session of my fantasy/science fiction writing class started Monday. Very exciting as well. More on that later.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Article of Faith

In the comments of an earlier post my friend and I spent some valuable server space arguing the definition of the word Faith. So, I looked it up. Merriam-Webster Online gave me these definitions:

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

Fair enough. Please note in the second definition the idea of believing in something for which there is no proof. It is this clause which prevents me from applying this word to myself. To be even more picky, I might replace the word proof with evidence. But there's more to it than that. I won't use the word faith to describe myself because the Religious Right in America have co-opted the word. They have marketed it into something that creates an us-versus-them mentality, and made being a "person of faith" something the citizens of this country are expected to aspire to. They do it all the time. I must admit I'm impressed with their skill.

I first noticed this ability in the mid-'90s, when somehow the word liberal became dirty. Conservatives started affecting an odd slant whenever they used the word, and suddenly even the most die-hard liberals avoided connecting themselves with the word. They did the same thing to the word French. By the same token they managed to take the word patriot and spin it in a way that it excluded anyone who dared question the status quo. The general public reacted by avoiding anything that might label them as liberal, vilifying to a comedic degree anything considered French, and going to great lengths to display their so-called patriotism. The same thing has happened now with faith. If you are on the right side, the "good" side, if your are "with us," you must also be a person of faith.

I think we liberals need to fire back somehow. It's unacceptable that we should avoid identifying ourselves with terms the right has co-opted. It's not enough that we own up to these words in an attempt to take them back. That will only get us so far. We need to find words — common words everybody identifies with — and we need to own them. The question is, what words?

I'm open to suggestions.