Mar 30, 2012

World-Building is a viable option

James Kochalka, The Horrible Truth About Comics
I'm filled with ideas lately. Maybe it was the cruise.

Either way, I've been thinking about how I create art lately. After the delightful process of putting together the appetizer-size play RASPBERRY FIZZ, I was struck with two thoughts...

1.) I am one of those folks that is not progressing the culture since I am as guilty as the rest of my generation of making the past a fetish. As outlined in this Kurt Andersen Esquire article.

"For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new.
~ from Kurt Andersen's "You Say You Want a Devolution?" Esquire Jan. 2012 

Illustration by James Taylor
2.) I have always gone about my art, particularly comics and plays (and improv to a large extent) in a linear fashion. Even when I play with the linear structure, it comes from a basis of story-telling... events happening over time that effect each other. Only recently have I started to think of how open the process of art-making could become if I was creating a space, instead of exploring sequential events over time.

Besides just being aware of the first point, there is not much I can actively do about it.

For the second thought, though, I stumbled upon a great essay by Dylan Horrocks called The Perfect Planet. In it, he talks about "world-building" as another approach to making art. 

Worth a read if you're looking for inspiration, too.

Mar 24, 2012


I totally dig the poster put together by director Bryan Ortiz for the upcoming production of my play FOR THE LOVE OF AN ANESTHESIOLOGIST at San Antonio's Overtime Theatre.

Mar 20, 2012

Announcing Volume One of DONNIE ROCKET TOASTER-FACE!

Hot off the presses and ready for purchase at Every few copies printed off comes with a blank page in the middle of the book. I don't know why it does this. just a quirk of print-on-demand, I guess. If you contact me, I'll pay your postage to send it to me, I'll draw an original comic for you and only you, sign it, and send it back. Anyway... Only $9.99... BARGAIN!

Seriously, This slim book of comics represents the weekly culmination of idea and artwork over the course of an entire year and a half. Get one. Read and enjoy. Post a review on Amazon. Accept my continuing gratitude and appreciation for your support.

ANESTHESIOLOGIST in rehearsals: Swordfight

Girls learning to swordfight. Sweet!

Mar 19, 2012

Another delightful RASPBERRY FIZZ review

Theater review: Raspberry Fizz at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in Addison - Thursday, March 8, 2012 - by Mary L. Clark of John Garcia's The Column 

In the continuing saga of the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, I journeyed back over to Addison Theatre Center to see two individual theatre's one-acts. A gusty, cloudy evening made for perfect play watching in their Studio Theatre.

First up was Audacity Theatre Lab and what was described as "A Sweet New Play" by local playwright and founder of Audacity, Brad McEntire. Entitled Raspberry Fizz (playing once more on March 9), a sweet play it was, set in 1949, when Truman was president and minimum wage was going up to 75 cents an hour. Dubble Bubble was the gum of choice, that fizzy soda was only 5 cents, and the worst thing you would ever say to someone was "Go suck an egg!"

A mysterious street corner barker sits in front of a record player and a taped up box. At intervals, he puts the needle on the record and tells passersby to witness "the expected, the unsuspected." Reciting short tales of unusual events, oddities, like those in the back of sensation rags, the barker then returns to his stool and paper.

Ellison has come to that same corner for the last five days, in particular to the stoop where high school friend Samantha has been, with an important question to ask her. But the "cat's got his tongue" and he just can't muster up the courage. Talking about what they want to be when they grow up, "Sam" teases "Ellie," calls him a sap and a square, and generally they both pass the time. Samantha is a flirt who gets poor Ellison to buy her things. As he leaves to purchase gum, he passes the barker, asks him what he's up to, and the con begins. In what McEntire describes as "a heart-warming exploration of expectations and the potentialities of the unmapped future tied up in ... an encounter between two young adolescents in small town America, Raspberry Fizz reminds us of an innocence we'll never see again.

All three actors used their talents to take the audience to that more innocent time -- when dreams were made on the steps of a stoop instead of playing the lottery or getting on a reality TV show. Your future or fortunes could change for just a nickel.

Shane Beeson played the barker with the friendly yet smarmy personality a good con artist needs. Both older than their characters, Natalie Young and Jeff Swearingen played that bygone era's youth with sincerity. Not trying to fake younger, they instead relied on the emotions of great potential all Americans felt coming out of World War II. Young was all smart-alecky, gum chewing, and kidding around as Sam. Swearingen made use of his natural clown/comic facial and body gestures to portray put upon Ellison as a true sad sack.

A thoughtful conception piece, a fun trip down a memory lane I traveled a bit of, and a sweet slice-of-life, coming-of-age play made Raspberry Fizz a tiny wonderment.

original post here.

Honeymoon in Caribbean

Ruth and I just took a much-needed vacation on Norwegian Cruise Line's "Norwegian Spirit" dashing around the western Caribbean. Great adventures and very relaxing.

Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel

After taking in a show on board the Norwegian Spirit

At the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben outside Costa Maya, Mexico
Cozumel, Mexico

Roatan Island, Honduras

Mar 9, 2012

Opening minutes of RASPBERRY FIZZ

I tried to get a little video of RASPBERRY FIZZ. I took a camera I'd never used before and had a hard time using. I did get a nice few minutes that came out pretty steady that gives a good impression of the tone and acting of the piece. Enjoy.

Mar 8, 2012

Another swell RASPBERRY FIZZ review

Jeff Swearingen as Ellson in Brad McEntire's Raspberry Fizz
Review from Out of the Loop: Good Actors, Director Bring ‘Raspberry Fizz’ to Life

D Magazine FrontRow Blog - By - March 5th, 2012 10:34am

Take two of the best actors in North Texas, put them in a fresh play by a local playwright, and give them a director (Andy Baldwin) who knows how to craft and elicit amazing performances, and you got something. It seems like a simple formula, but it is one too often overlooked in a lot of plays. Audacity Theatre Lab provides that straightforward prescription in their delightful and rousing production of Brad McEntire’s Raspberry Fizz at Water Tower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

The scene is 1949 in small town U.S.A., and young Ellson (Jeff Swearingen) is trying to screw up his courage to ask his adolescent classmate Samantha (Natalie Young) to the Harvest Dance. Throw in a bizarre carnival barker (an understated Shane Beeson) peddling mysterious wares on the corner who is not making things easy for “Ellie.”

Again, it is a modest setup, but one that is truly magical in these able hands. Swearingen (The Hand at Broken Gears and many plays at Plano Children’s Theatre) captures the essence of a sweet, yet annoying and awkward proto-nerd. He’s a hoot in high pants. Young (Red Light Winter at Second Thought) as the tough and fast-talking Sam is an incandescent ball of gum-chomping charm. She nails the wisecracking smarts and speech patterns of those screwball comedies from the 1930s and 40s.

The right ingredients make this Fizz beyond refreshing.

Mar 7, 2012

ANESTHESIOLOGIST in rehearsals in San Antonio

I'm delighted that the folks at San Antonio's Overtime Theatre seem to be having a blast working on my piece FOR THE LOVE OF AN ANESTHESIOLOGIST. They have set up a sweet Facebook page which you can join here.

"Freedom Fighters!" Rehearsals in progress with Ruben Tadeo Garcia and Julienne Ponce.

Mar 5, 2012

Nice RASPBERRY FIZZ review...

Jeff Swearingen and Natalie Young in RASPBERRY FIZZ

Warm Fizzies
Loop review: Audacity Theatre Lab's Raspberry Fizz is delectable at WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival
by Mike Maiella for, Sunday, March 4, 2012

Addison — If you make it up to the intimate Studio Theater at Water Tower Theatre to catch Audacity Theatre Lab's production of Raspberry Fizz, you will be in for a real theatrical treat.

Running at just 45 minutes, the show—written by Audacity's Brad McEntire and directed by Andy Baldwin for the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival—is an endearing portrayal of two adolescents dealing with the awkward tension of young love. Ellson (Jeff Swearingen) has been stopping by the same steps to chat with Samantha (Natalie Young) for the past few days. She seems rather indifferent as she sits reading a newspaper and chewing gum. When Ellson first enters, he is drinking some raspberry fizz. And Samantha wants some, too.

Frustrated but wanting to win her affections, Ellson leaves to go buy her a bottle. When he returns, Samantha now wants some more gum, too. Meanwhile, Ellson repeatedly tries to muster the courage to ask her out to the fall harvest dance. Throughout the show, there is a strange man (Shane Beeson) on the other side of the stage who shouts random outbursts that sound like a carnival barker with his shouts of "step right up, folks!" There is something sinister about him though. He tells Ellson that for a nickel he can look inside a cardboard box and see a glimpse of the future.

The strength of the production lies in the simplicity of both the story and the set. Swearingen and Young are perfect together. He moves and sounds like a young boy. With his shorts pulled up high and donning a small cap, he has the awkward fidgety mannerisms and nervous stuttering of a boy speaking to the girl he has a crush on. And Young strikes the right balance of the girl who acts abrasive and bossy on the surface but actually likes the boy.

There are hilarious moments between them, too. At one point, Ellson very gingerly tries to sit next to Samantha on the step and then just as quickly stands back up when realizing what he is doing. When Samantha tells him to guess what she wants to be when she grows up, Ellson's first guess is a scientist. There is something funny but also tender and sweet in his response.

The show finds a beautiful balance between humor and the earnestness of a young crush. It's a fizzy delight.