Aug 28, 2012

I've Joined Society6

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I have joined to sell my artwork. I've posted my first original print called "Out Of Nothing" and you can check it out HERE.

Seriously, I'm really excited about this. The prints I'll be posting will make great gifts, or for yourself to hang above your desk, or even to hang in a classroom (if you happen to be a teacher). I'll be posting more soon.

Aug 21, 2012

CHOP review on

a review
by Richard Hinojosa  ·  August 17, 2012

Most of us have a desire to fit in somewhere. In adolescence we jump through all kinds of hoops in order to fit in but still half the time we end up isolated. Brad McEntire knows isolation and his captivating new solo piece, Chop, reveals a lot about of his life in isolation and his eventual arrival as the most crucial man in an odd fetish group.

McEntire says he has two birthdays—one for the day he was born and the other for the day he woke up to a note from his parents telling him that they had run off to join the circus. He was thirteen years old. One of his first lessons in isolation came when he was sent to a West Texas dust bowl town to stay with his aging hermit uncle. From there he moved to the city and learned that one can be isolated while being surrounded by thousands of people. He started working for a temp company. He had no drive and no ambition. He felt like the Minotaur, abandoned in an inescapable labyrinth and just waiting for some "hero" to come and put him out of his misery. But then he befriends the Queen of Nails. She does a freak show act driving nails into her face. She invites him a party she's throwing. He's never been to a party. There he meets a tattooed lady named Rosie and his whole life changes…for the better and in the oddest way. Ever heard of apotemnophilia? You'll learn all about it in this show.

McEntire's script is painfully honest. I don't know if it's a true story or not but if it is…wow! He brings us to the present very slowly as he describes his lonely childhood and early adulthood and doesn't really get into the most interesting parts of the story until the end, but it is well worth the wait. His text is infused with humble desire and desperation and I found myself rooting for him. I really enjoyed his interludes of dreams and flashbacks. They helped us see into his mind a little deeper. McEntire's characters are all very well realized and he seamlessly transforms from one to the other. He creates a very endearing character that comes across as genuine. He frequently checked in with the audience in order to make sure he was connecting with us. I had the sense that he was really just talking to me—telling me a story. His director, Andrew Merkel, points him the right direction and made sure he never forgets the folks sitting in front of him.

Chop is an odd tale of coming into one's own. I enjoyed the honesty, the endearing delivery and the unique fetish revealed at the end. They say there's a lid for ever pot. McEntire found his lid though he would still have to make it fit. Perhaps this show will fit you too.

Read the original post HERE.

Report for FringeNYC - Part 1

So I am halfway through the run of CHOP at the New York International Fringe Festival. Audiences have been medium to small, but response has been great. I have also been enjoying my time in NYC, seeing friends, eating lots of pizza and catching other FringeNYC shows. Here's a few pics as a sort of progress report so far...

Aug 18, 2012

Artprov in NYC

I was invited to sit in and jam last night with some New York City improvisers in a show called ARTPROV. The fellow heading it up, Rory Scholl, a Texan now based in NYC, has known me for a while. When he extended the invitation, I jumped at the chance.

The show was at a place called The Tank (neat little venue!) and there were two teams of three improvisers. Each team performed several short-form games (think parlor games, like Charades) and then at the end we all combined to perform a short improvised musical (something I have never done). The premise is that an artist uses the performances for inspiration and creates an original painting, on the spot, so it is completed by the end.

My team was called "Two Slices and a Coke." This was a name we decided on, literally, five minutes before we went on stage. It consisted of a cute little gal named Lauren and a guy about my size named Malachi. We worked surprisingly well together, despite just meeting each other that night. The artist was Paul Zepeda

I hardly ever do short-form improv, but I had a lot of fun. Met some cool cats and kitties. And got to do a little bit of singing.

Aug 16, 2012

Hey, Bo Diddley

I have seen this clip of Bo Diddley several times. I stumbled upon it again recently as is the way, in a completely unrelated manner. Every time I see this video I am struck by how Diddley takes the stage. He just strides in, taking his time, pumping that damn guitar in that weird riffy way he plays. His presence is amazing. And then proceeds to completely rock the f%#k out of the place. You can see the audience is going wild.

Just awesome presence, confidence and energy. A colossal performance packed into a two minute song.

Aug 15, 2012

Kicking Ass on Kickstarter

I've spoken a little about my Kickstarter experience on Bike Soccer Jamboree, but I'll eventually put together a proper post. After going through the process, I find myself captivated by really successful Kickstarter projects (Amanda Palmer, Molly Crabapple, etc).

Frank Chimero's project to fund his really cool book THE SHAPE Of DESIGN is one of these inspiring projects. It was funded within 4 hours of posting the project. Incredible. And the result was awesome (I've been making my way through the book).

Here's a pretty good article on Chimero's Kickstarter called...

How to Kick Ass on Kickstarter: An Interview with Frank Chimero

Check it out... HERE.

Aug 14, 2012

Considerations for the Solo Performer

Photo credit:

I might be doing a workshop in the near future called "Considerations of the Solo Performer." As such, I've been doing a good amount of note-taking as I think about, well, what these considerations should be.

Since solo performance is so idiosyncratic and approaches are so individual, I don't wanna lean too much on techniques, but instead explore larger concepts and notions. I wanna talk about the reasoning behind solo performance.

Here's some of the rough notions that have been jumping around in my brain. These are just my kooky little opinions and not, in any way, gospel from the mount...

1.) Create the show you wanna see. It goes past the usual, and sometimes narcissistic, reason many solo performers put together one-person shows. There are a lot of autobiographical, confessional solo shows. Nothing wrong with this, except it is now a well-worn path and it is hard to differentiate one of these shows from another (How I grew up gay, How I survived some job, I was a mix of two cultures [insert whatever culture/ethnicity here], How I was spiritually awakened by some experience, etc.). The only real differentiation is one of novelty and detail. 

Listen, I'm not saying this content is bad. I'm not making any value judgement whatsoever. It is just, go to any fringe festival and you'll see, it has become old hat by now. Maybe it is a thing to start out from, as a beginner, and then grow past.

My challenge/solution is, instead of creating from what you know (like a writer being told "write what you know"), create with the goal of what you would wanna see on stage if you were watching it. What would you, as an audience member, be completely amazed to experience?  This keeps the focus outward instead of inward. This approach also widens the imagination beyond real-life events. The shows, the creations, can become more imaginative.

I personally value a kick-ass story, virtuosity of ideas, twisty endings, big distinct characterizations and a highly theatrical performance. This is what I put into my solo shows. Or try to.

Aug 12, 2012

Like Dreams Taken Through a Straw

He believes that if a song “really wants to be written down, it’ll stick in my head. If it wasn’t interesting enough for me to remember it, well, it can just move along and go get in someone else’s song.” “Some songs,” he has learned, “don’t want to be recorded.” You can’t wrestle with them or you’ll only scare them off more. Trying to capture them sometimes “is trying to trap birds.” Fortunately, he says, other songs come easy, like “digging potatoes out of the ground.” Others are sticky and weird, like “gum found under an old table.” Clumsy and uncooperative songs may only be useful “to cut up as bait and use ‘em to catch other songs.” Of course, the best songs of all are those that enter you “like dreams taken through a straw.’ In those moments, all you can be, Waits says, is grateful.
The above quote is from a kick-ass 2002 profile of Tom Waits by Elizabeth Gilbert called "Play it Like Your Hair's On Fire" for GQ. Waits discusses, among other topics, where ideas for his songs come from. Read the quote above again and sub in the word play for song and you get a notion of how I get ideas for plays.

Read the article... HERE.

Aug 9, 2012

Wilder on liquor

One of your most celebrated colleagues said recently that about all a writer really needs is a place to work, tobacco, some food, and good whiskey. Could you explain to the nondrinkers among us how liquor helps things along?
Many writers have told me that they have built up mnemonic devices to start them off on each day’s writing task. Hemingway once told me he sharpened twenty pencils; Willa Cather that she read a passage from the Bible (not from piety, she was quick to add, but to get in touch with fine prose; she also regretted that she had formed this habit, for the prose rhythms of 1611 were not those she was in search of). My springboard has always been long walks. I drink a great deal, but I do not associate it with writing.
Thorton Wilder is one of my heroes. Maybe not on the top tier with Brook, Beckett and Schulz, nevertheless he has had an implicit influence on me and my work. OUR TOWN is an endlessly explore-able play. The use of an empty space, the structure, the archetypes that stand in for characters and so on.

Above is a snippet from an interview from an old Paris Review (Winter 1956). I love his response: "I drink a  great deal, but I do not associate it with writing."

Read the whole thing HERE.

Aug 7, 2012

CYRANO A-GO-GO at Houston Fringe - Dates and Times

Dates and times for CYRANO A-GO-GO at the Houston Fringe have been announced!

Thursday, September 6th at 7 PM
Friday, September 7th at 7 PM
Saturday, September 8th at 8:30 PM

At Bohemeo's Cafe and Theatre,
708 Telephone Road,
Houston, TX 77023
More info and tickets at: Houston Fringe Festival.

CHOP at Seattle Fringe - Dates and times

Just got the dates and times of where CHOP will be playing as part of the Seattle Fringe Festival...

Playing at the Odd Duck Studio
1214 10th Avenue (at E. Union Street), 
Seattle, OR 98122

Thursday, September 20 at 6 PM
Friday, September 21 at 9 PM
Saturday, September 22 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, September 23 at 4:30 PM

Tickets and info at:

Aug 6, 2012

Recent sketches

Here's a few sketches I've done lately...

This drawing corresponds with a recent blog post

I purchased a Japanese brush pen and this was my first experiment with it.

I've started doing quick sketches of performers at stage shows. I cleaned it up and added color in Photoshop

Playing around with free-hand drawing in Photoshop and finishing in

Aug 3, 2012

"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
~ J. P. Jacks, Education Through Recreation (1932)

[via Austin Kleon's Tumblr


Lynn J.

 I must admit right off the bat, I am pretty unfamiliar with the comic strip For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston. I recognize it, sure, but I can't say I've ever "read" it. Like Chic Young's Blondie and Family Circus, it shows up, but it has stayed below my radar pretty much.

What is strange is, from the drawing side of things, I probaby should study it a bit. Johnston has an aesthetic like my own, with a style that falls somewhere between really comicky (think Far Side or Wizard of Id) and pretty realistic and to scale (think Prince Valiant or the Hernandez Brother's Love & Rockets).

I just stumbled onto her website. Despite not knowing her comic, I will say, I love her website! It is the most interactive site of its kind I've ever scene, especially as far a cartoonists go. From her daily "Coffee Talk" section where she posts comments from readers to a wonderful "behind-the-scenes" section on how she puts together the strips (she inks the eyes first in the frame!).
I recommend checking it out... HERE

Aug 2, 2012

Free August Calendar for you

 Hey, friends:

As part of my Kickstarter project to help fund getting CHOP to FringeNYC, I created a PDF calendar of Donnie Rocket Toaster-Face comics. I wasn't going to start it until September, but I ended up getting up off my ass and getting it done early. So, I have a bonus August 2012 page!

And I offer this bonus page free to you. Download, print, share, whatever.

Here's the link... LINK

If you are interested in the full 2013 Calendar, I'll have them on sale this fall via Etsy. They will be signed, limited edition and snaptastic! Drop me an email and I set aside one for you.

Anyway, Happy Summer!

Aug 1, 2012

Fire Retarding CHOP banners

About to go in the mix. I'm using a flame retardant that meets NY Fire Marshall code.
Setting out on the drive way to dry. It is 105 degrees outside in the sun.
Part of the many hoops and stipulations of having a show at FringeNYC is that all set pieces must be treated with flame retardant (this beyond the fact that no open flames are allowed on NY stages). So, today, I soaked and dried my tablecloth and sideshow banners that are used in CHOP.

UPDATE: I brought the banners in and were refolding them to pack away for transport when I saw tire tracks on the Queen of Nails banner. Tire tracks! It means some ass-face backed into my driveway while the banners were out drying in order to turn around or something. I am not enchanted with this neighborhood. I am glad my set pieces are supposed to look beaten in. If I had a pristine white screen for shadow puppetry or something, I would have pitched a fit. Seriously, tire tracks!?

Woody Allen on Comedy

"It’s one way of dealing with life. People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing. If you can do it, it’s not hard at all. It would be like if I said to somebody who can draw very well, My God, I could take a pencil and paper all day long and never be able to draw that horse. I can’t do it, and you’ve done it so perfectly. And the other person feels, This is nothing. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. That’s how you feel about comedy—if you can do it, you know, it’s really nothing. It’s not that the end product is nothing, but the process is simple. Of course, there are just some people that are authentically funny, and some people that are not. It’s a freak of nature.
This is from a great Woody Allen interview in the Fall 1995 Paris Review. I appreciate that Allen doesn't put a value judgement on being funny, he just explains, in a very straight-forward fashion, that if you are funny, it's not really a big deal. It is a natural thing. For some...

As a performing artist - improviser and actor (as well as a director, for that matter) - I'm often coming up to situations where I'm working with people slightly out of their element. That is to say, people who are expected to be funny, but who are not naturally good at comedy.

Upon reflection, this might be why I work rather exclusively with the same people from project to project. Like my friend and frequent collaborator, Jeff Swearingen... he's funny. It is not a big deal when the two of us are working together because we are in our element. I keep working with him, especially on comic projects, because of this. He's just one example, too. 

As a director, I have a list of actors who I wanna work with on other kinds of projects. There are actors who can sing well and move well, who look at the world a certain way. But my list of comic actors... oh man, I kinda hoard that list. 

You can't tell someone who isn't funny how to be funny.

Read the whole Paris Review interview HERE.