Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Adventures In Facial Hair

The production of Miracle On 34th Street that I am in is supposed to have the air of a late-40's radio drama. As the narrator, I'm playing a fairly typical radio professional from the era so, I decided to look the part as much as possible. I normally sport a goatee, but, as goatees were the exclusive property of the Jazz set back in the late 40's, I thought that perhaps I should sacrifice my goatee for the sake of the play and go with something more classic. I downed a little Irish courage and went with a Clark Gable style mustache (from Hucksters, not Gone With The Wind), shaving off my chin hair and carving out a bald patch on my philtrum (that's the name of the divot under the nose).

The problem with sporting this new mustache is that I have to wear it for about a week. Was I popular enough at work to get away with wearing a different mustache style? Was I popular enough that anyone would actually notice? Yes, people noticed. Some had a good laugh. Most did a double-take upon seeing me that first morning. The worst that seems to have occurred aside from some muffled snickering behind my back is that a few people in the building have taken to calling me "Clark McGable" and telling me that they frankly don't give a damn when I tell them that I need to take down their virtual servers for maintenance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jeep Forums

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of 4Wheel Drive Hardware. All opinions are 100% mine.

That old beast that I call a car is on its last legs. I figure that it has about one more winter in it before I have to send it off to the retirement home. I have been thinking about buying a Jeep and, in doing my research on various models, I stumbled across a great Jeep forum. This thriving community provided me with a lot of information on Jeeps. I spent a lot of time in the Jeep Cherokee forum before deciding that the Jeep Wrangler forum would be my home for Jeep information and Jeep community interaction.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fun With Marvel Masks At Wal-Mart

During a recent trip to Wal-Mart, I discovered a number of Marvel masks and accessories in their toy section including Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine and Thor. I simply had to them all on myself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TommyMac Is Back On The Air....Sort Of...

With "Twelfth Night" behind me, I was content to exorcize Orisino's lines from my mind through weeks of directed memory loss via focused beer consumption. I had done what I had set out to do and had little desire to return to the stage any time soon. My daughter, however, had other plans. She had been given a walk-on role in "Twelfth Night" and had developed a taste for acting. She had her ambitions set on obtaining a speaking role in the next available production.

Our local theater is producing a mock-radio staged reading of Valentine Davies’ “Miracle on 34th Street”. My daughter expressed her desire to get a small speaking role in it, so I conceded and brought her out to the auditions. Given my extensive radio experience, I was cast as the Narrator and will also be providing the voice of the Postman. There's no memorization involved because the cast will be reading the script as if we're in a 40's era radio studio reading the drama in front of a studio audience. My daughter has a line in one of the radio advertisements that were written for the show. We will all be dressed in period appropriate attire. I may even shave the goatee for this one.

We had the first read-through the other night and it felt pretty good to get back into radio mode after all these years, even if it's just for a faux-radio drama. It's also nice to be working with some of the actors who were also in "Twelfth Night" with me. Along with those few familiar faces, there are a bunch of new people to work with and I find the majority of them to be very talented. Kiddo is happy with her part, which is all that matters.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet White Castle Jesus!

I don't know who came up with the idea of making stuffing out of White Castle hamburgers, but, whoever it was, I wish I could shake their hand. After finding this little treat in the local paper, I asked a few friends if they had ever heard of it. Apparently, the concept of using White Castle sliders for stuffing has been around for at least 10 years.

Seeing as I don't live anywhere near a White Castle, the chances of me having some local chef take pity on me this Thanksgiving and making me some of this ambrosia are slim. That is, unless one opts for using the store-bought versions of the famous White Castle sliders. I'm sure fresh ones are preferred.

However one chooses to make White Castle stuffing, I have no doubt that three certainties will arise from my eating this tasty Thanksgiving Day treat:

  1. It will taste delicious
  2. My bowels will terrorize me for 24 hours after eating it. 
  3. It will all be worth it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some Backstage Shenanegans During Twelfth Night

Just before opening night of our local production of Twelfth Night, I decided to use my new Droid Bionic to take some video of the goings on backstage. Watching this, I think you really get a sense for how close the cast is and how excited we all were to be in the show.

Friday, November 18, 2011

LG DoublePlay

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LG DoublePlay™ for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just In Time For Christmas: For The Person Who Has Everything

My yard had been sorely lacking in Christmas decor until I happened upon this product. Instantly, upon seeing this festive pig, I thought of bacon and I knew that I had to have it. This little beauty can be found at Big Lots and many other fine retailers across the country. If waddling over to your nearest Big Lots store is a bit too much for you, you can also find one online at Amazon.com if they aren't out of stock yet.

Who in the world (besides those of you who keep it kosher) doesn't love bacon? And nothing says "Merry Christmas" like bacon dressed as the beloved Kris Kringle himself. Thanks to having this glowing mass of delicious pre-processed pork out on my lawn, my life has improved immensely. I have made more friends than I had ever thought possible because people come from miles around to stare in wonderment at this 30in 150L lighted beauty and talk to me about Santa Claus, baby Jesus and pulled pork sandwiches. The only problem with this pig is that it's not edible...as far as I have yet discovered. Oh, Lighted Acrylic Pig In Santa Coat and Hat, thank you so much for making my life worth living. And, of course, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hanging Up Orsino's Boots

Monday night saw me take my final turn as Duke Orsino in our community production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

I took the stage on opening night feeling the giddy thrill of excitement as I walked on stage to see a packed house. The audience wasn't very responsive and didn't laugh at many of the jokes in the play. Still, it felt good to go out there and perform. As I took the curtain call with my cast mates, I felt like I had just finished running a marathon. I was both exhilarated and exhausted.

Saturday night's audience proved to be just as large as Friday's, but much more responsive. They even laughed at the few instances of self-deprecating humor that Orsino displays. There were also a number of laughs at the subtle nods to Viola's love for Orsino. The best part, however, was taking the stage and seeing so many of my friends in the audience. Jason was among them and had a good laugh at my costume, which threw my performance off a bit at first.  

We did two shows on Sunday, each to half-full houses. In between, we had a cast party where everyone expressed their sadness that the show was ending. Sunday's evening performance involved was noteworthy due to the involvement of a bat who flew around the lights during Act II Scene 5. It was apparently seen by the veterans of the cast as an omen of good luck. I saw it as an omen of poor ventilation.

Monday night's closing show was probably the most epic among all of them. We played to yet another full house and many little bits of improvised comedy were interspersed among the jokes in the script. The best part had to be during the last scene when the actress who played Viola/Caesario realized that she had put too much adhesive remover on her mustache and it began to fall off when she entered. She spent the whole scene up until the big reveal trying to keep her mustache on as the audience howled with laughter. The rest of the cast began to replace certain words in their speeches with the word "mustache". The whole thing was recorded on video.

In the end, I'm really quite pleased with how everything turned out. The whole experience has been a lot of fun. I moved myself out of my own comfort zone, made a lot of new friends and realized that I'm capable of so much more than I thought. Although, I am a bit sad now because I find that I miss my cast mates terribly. We all grew so close during the production. But, it's not all bad. I suspect that, should I be so inclined to join another production, I'll see the majority of them again soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

U.S. News University Connections Called Me

Some University referral service called U.S. News University Connections called looking for Diksmash Mikironkok recently. I was fairly certain that they had no connection to U.S. News and World Report magazine, but played on the assumption that that did. Diksmash's first reaction was to ask if he was going to be interviewed for the magazine. Some other highlights from the call include:

  • Diksmash detailing the time he posed for PlayGirl magazine. 
  • Diksmash telling about how he makes websites about cross-species animal porn
  • Calling DeVry University the "Pizza Hut of Universities". 
  • Diksmash has 99 problems and a bitch is not one. 
  • I spent the last two minutes of the call trying to get the rep to say Diksmash's full name which she eventually did under vociferous protestations.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Time To Light The Lights

It's opening night. In less than twelve hours, I will take the stage as Duke Orsino in "Twelfth Night". I've been working really hard to fine tune my role, concentrating mainly on the relationship between Orsino and Caesario. There's a nice piece that we added during the singing of "Come Away, Come Away, Death" where the actress who plays Viola/Caesario places her hand on my shoulder and nervously withdraws it when I look at her. We also added a longing look at each other after the "Was not this love indeed?" speech in Act II.

The rest of the cast has been tweaking various comic aspects of the show as the preview audience we had last Sunday proved to be a difficult crowd. We did get a great review in the local paper. Many of the actors were singled out for their performances. As for my own performance, the reviewer said "This is Thomas' first time on stage and was a swaggering, sure-of-himself Orsino". If I needed a shot of confidence, that line would do the trick, but I find that as the hour approaches, I'm not nervous, I'm not worried and I'm not the least bit scared even though we'll be opening to a sold-out crowd. I'm confident. I can do this. Raise the curtain. Light the lights.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Toasted The Happy Couple

I don't like going to weddings. Having seen my own marriage fall apart like a house of cards against an industrial fan, I had long since decided that my mere presence might jinx any would-be couple should I decide to stride into their ceremony. When my former step-daughter rang early Saturday morning begging me to come see her serve as a bridesmaid in the wedding of a family friend that evening, the best I could come up with was "I don't wanna". It wasn't an excuse that she was inclined to accept. So, the next thing I know, I'm slinging on my favorite blue tie.

It was a small affair, one organized without a best man or a maid-of-honor. Knowing both the bride and groom, the honor fell to me to give the big toast to the new couple. I had only a few moments to organize my thoughts, but I think what I came up with hit the right chords. Here's the paraphrase.

"I've been given the honor of being the first to say a few words to toast this new couple. I'm sure I speak for all of us in attendance tonight when I say that we all feel so blessed to share this special day with them and be in the company of friends and family. And, while it was a beautiful wedding, we must remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. A wedding is a sacred ceremony. A marriage is the eternal bond between two people. The wedding takes place at the planned time and place, while the marriage happens somewhere between 'will you marry me' and 'I do'. Yes, somewhere amid all the stress of planning the wedding, the couple decides that they really do want to be together forever. That's a marriage."

I then turned to the bride and said "I love you like family. You're a good person, a great mom and a beautiful woman and I'm so happy for you". I turned to the groom and said "You're a good dad, a great man and a good friend. And it's because you're a good friend that I'm going to give you this option: I've got a full tank of gas and a case of beer. Say the word and we can be in Vegas by tomorrow morning. But, I know you're not going to do that because the two of you are so in love. And that truly is a pleasure to see."

With that, I asked everyone to stand up and raise their glasses to the happy couple. Perhaps a wedding toast from me doesn't mean too much considering my thoughts on the institution itself and my own failures within it. But, my heart was in the right place and the words rang true. I don't think that anyone of a more firm belief could have done much better.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Droid Bionic Review

Nearly two years after the launch of the original Motorola Droid phone, I purchased the Droid Bionic. It's the first dual core Android handset to use Verizon's 4G LTE network. It was originally scheduled for release in Q2 2011 but was delayed until September 2011 which bumps it up against the Droid Razr. Still, it's a decent phone for the money. Check out the video below for my complete review.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting My Duke On!

After several dozen informal run-throughs, I finally have all of my lines memorized for my role as Duke Orsino in "Twelfth Night".  The final act is coming together nicely despite the complex blocking involved. All that is left for me to do is fine-tune my performance which has led me to watch a few adaptations of "Twelfth Night". Each actor brings a little something different to their Duke Orsino. Here's a list of actors who have portrayed him and what I thought of their performances:


Gary Raymond (1969) - He's got great energy, but not a lot of range in this role. He certainly pulls off the "in love with being in love" aspect of Orsino's character very well, but I would have liked to have seen some melancholy in certain moments.

Clive Arrindell (1980)  - I like how regal he sounds. He has a great presence about him that suits how Orsino should be presenting himself, but I'm not feeling a lot of emotion behind his performance.

Christopher Ravenscroft (1988) -  I like his intensity, but his interpretation of Duke Orsino is completely emo. You get the feeling that Orsino is clinically depressed doesn't want to be in love because moments of happiness actually cause him pain. He's a great actor, but his Duke Orsino made me want to write a rambling, maudlin note and hang myself.

Channing Tatum (2006) - I didn't need to sit through the entire run of "She's The Man" to realize that Channing Tatum has no acting ability. For the life of me, I don't know why I wasted 105 minutes on this.

Nick Martorelli (2010) - He was part of a cast that did Twelfth Night for the Curio Theatre. I love his approach to Orsino as it is very well balanced between regal, melodramatic and melancholy. I particularly like how he handles the friendship between "Caesario" and Orsino. This was, by far, my favorite performance out of those that I have seen.

James Sutton (2011) - He did a great modern adaptation of Act 1 Scene 1, but much of his interpretation doesn't apply to what I'm doing. I do like how he reacted to the music playing around him. It's something that many of the other actors I have listed seemed to ignore.

Of course, when acting a well known part, one should always try to avoid completely copying someone else's interpretation. I'm going to put my own spin on Duke Orsino and bring a little TommyMac to his soul. But, that's not to say that I won't carry a few influences from past performances with me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pharaoh , Let My Candy Go!

The great Pharaoh Gottagutt with one of His loyal subjects
My daughter and I usually try to match when we go out for Halloween. One year, she went as a ghost and I went as a Ghostbuster. Two years back, she was the Statue of Liberty and I was Uncle Sam. I didn't get a chance to dress up last year, so I really wanted to come up with something cool this year. I was to understand that my daughter would be Cleopatra and I would be a Pharaoh. Well, somehow the wires got crossed and kiddo ended up choosing  a surgeon outfit after I had already bought my Pharaoh costume. It was suggested that I should outfit myself as one of her patients, but, I didn't have much time to go out and get another costume. We'd have to deal with not matching this year.

Kiddo obviously had a great time pulling in piles of candy even though many people assumed she was a nurse rather than a surgeon. Every time she was asked if she was a nurse, she replied "No, I'm a surgeon. I worked really hard to get my M.D." which usually resulted in an extra handful of candy. For the most part, I just watched. Although, I did encounter many people who complimented me on my costume. Some even asked to have their picture taken with me. At some point, I started to insist that any picture takes allow me to take a pic with my camera as well.

So, yet another Halloween has come and gone and the kiddo and I are left with some great memories and a gigantic bag of candy that will easily last us until Christmas.