Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"For now, I’m just a runner!

I recently sat down and composed a list of things I'd like to do before I die. The very first thing that came to my mind was "I'd like to run the Boston marathon someday." So, that's what I'm going to shoot for, even if it takes me ten years to run a qualifying time in an official Boston-Qualifying Marathon. Right now, the BQ time is 3 hours 10 minutes for a 34-year old man.

Luckily, I'm a 12-year old tucked inside the body of a 34 year-old. I'm camouflaged like I was friggin' Predator. They'll never see me coming.

Now, mind you, I've never actually run a Marathon before, whatsoever. But, I've always been a pretty fit fella, and I have the metabolism of a freaking Meerkat. I can eat just about anything (Though I've switched to a vegetarian diet in the last five years) and turn it into pure energy. I try to always get out and exercise-- as much as I can, anyway. I play touch football, baseball, basketball on occasion, and prior to the past few months, I'd only run every now and again-- whenever I needed a quick inertia-buster. I've also been practicing Yoga on and off for about four years, and that, along with my dietary changes, do wonders for my body even as both exponentially lower my 'coolness qoutient' among my pals.

My buddy, Baron Von Rick, likes to shake his head and say "What happened to you, man?"

What can I say?? I am, after all, the world's premiere 'AlfAlpha male.' A corny, goofy, geeky vegetarian touchy-feely guy with a competitive streak a mile wide, and a low frustration tolerance, but still with enough self-deprecating humor to make him somehow endearing at the same time as he's being annoying.

THAT's an 'AlfAlpha Male.'

Now, about the habits I used to display...

I used to drink like a fish (Mostly beer-- LOTS of Beer) and I smoked like a chimney for about 5 years. Who could blame me-- I was working three bartending jobs in Pittsfield, Mass (The scratch ticket/six-pack/cigarettes-combo capital of the world) and I noticed really quickly that people who smoke get more 'breaktime' at work than non-smokers. If you say, "Hey Joe, I'm gonna grab a quick smoke, " The answer is "No problem." Try saying "Hey Joe, I'm gonna stand outside for an average of seven minutes and breathe in and out." The next words out of Joe's mouth will be "Like hell you AHH!! Change the kegs, ya lazy rat-lookin' bastid!!" Next thing I know, I'm lighting up like a moron.

I also worked on The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama and lived in 'The Compound' for awhile, so we all enabled each other's nasty smoking habit. Now many of us are kicking it with the quickness, but back then, everybody did it...So, smoking became the thing to do, and luckily the Marlboro lights didn't result in a 'Light' tumor as far as I can tell.

So, like Carl said in Caddyshack-- "I got that going for me."

So, now, coffee is my only real vice. That and La Croix brand canned soda water. And sunflower seeds. That's really it. Now, don't think that I don't get my protein, because I do. I eat lots of peanut butter and soy protein and eggs (yes, I do eat eggs, maybe someday I'll stop, but not just yet) Cottage cheese (Has mad Protein, yo) Almonds, and flaxseed... and unlike Barry Bonds, I know what Flaxseed oil looks like. (It's great for your skin, by the way) I also get my veggies, cheeses and other dairy products, and a healthy heaping of breads (Jennie has learned to bake bread), including whole wheat pasta, and I cook a lot with olive oil. Every morning I have either an egg sandwich (Cooked with olive oil) and a bowl of fruit, granola and yogurt, or a bowl of cheerios and a banana or some oatmeal and coffee. I eat lots of pasta and different combinations of soy proteins that are so good --and good for you-- that it makes sense to substitute them into your diet now and then-- even if you're not some 'animal-compassion whacko' on the outermost lefty fringes of society.

But I digress. Back to my bipedal questisisss.

I have a weird history with running. It has moved in and out of my life ever since I was a kid on the Westminster Center School Track and Cross-Country teams at the age of ten. We lived in Bellows Falls, Vermont at the time, and we were called the Vikings. We wore green and white uniforms, which I thought was cool, since we looked like the Celtics. Short shorts, high socks with the three green stripes. Awww, yeah. I used to be the smallest kid on both teams, and I was an average runner at best. I was the kid who would run off into the woods during the cross-country meets and stop to look at a butterfly, resulting in a 19th place finish.

Our team was anchored by the erstwhile legend of Westminster track and cross -country excellence, Claudia Williams, the long-legged daughter of Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams. She won, I swear-- EVERY. SINGLE. RACE.

On and off over the years, I would eschew competitive racing in favor of the theatre, but that never stopped me from running just for the joy of it. My girlfriend in high school and college, Dina Ressler, was a track/cross country runner at PHS and Bentley College, and my cousin Shaun broke the Taconic HS mark for the 400-meter hurdles. With me, though, it was always about chugging along and taking in the view. I loved the three-mile run down east New Lenox Road to New Lenox road-- from my Dad's old house in Pittsfield Mass --to my uncle Charlie's-- and back The view of the Berkshire Hills, seen across the valley beyond the railroad tracks, is something I always go back to whenever I close my eyes. Those were the same tracks I used to lay pennies on with Katy Maturveitch in the second grade. We'd sit there and wait for the trains to come along and flatten them. Hey, what can I say, there was no internet... and Atari had, like, two games.

In college, I started running again to build up my endurance to play the lead in Me and My Girl. I would run around the Sutter Oval in front of Wagner College's Main Hall, sometimes waking at 6:30 am on days when my earliest class was at 11am. Those of you who know my penchant for 'sleeping in' will find that quite hard to believe. But, it paid off. I remember feeling so strong and confident during the actual show, blazing through those song & dance numbers... I had an inexhaustible supply of both breath and energy.

I remember that one of my favorite days ever was July 4th, 1994, when I ran the Pittsfield 4th of July 5k-- and then, during the ensuing parade, I was in the Berkshire Theatre Festival float down North Street as part of the cast of Brimstone: The Irish Musical. The only drawback to that day was that during the race, around the turn of mile three, Dina completely dusted me, fired up the afterburners and took off -- this was like, four months after we broke up, so it was basically her version of the Patriots' now infamous 'Eff-You TD.'

(But, unlike some NFL-organizations I could mention, I shut up and took my medicine... ; )

There's something great about logging a run in cold weather; In particular, the way your body just educates you-- it tells you "I can do more than you think I can, bro-ham. Let me show you. Have a little faith in me. I pump enough blood to keep you alive, and I put up with all the crap you've done to me over the years, now-- watch what I can really do. I'm the Millenium Freaking Falcon. Take me out for a spin, you low-expectation havin' mother$@**!! (Apologies to Chris Rock)

In recent years, Jennie and I have run the Komen Race for the Cure, and every time we do it, I am more inspired by these brave women and their stories of survival, triumph and dedication in the face of cancer treatment. We just did the Ntelos 8k together, and Jennie is now shooting for the Half-marathon as her goal. Depending on how our latest auditions shake out, we may each run our event in VA Beach on March 16th of this year-- The Shamrock Marathon and Half-Marathon.

I recently found a journal we had to keep in Mister Oglesby's Fifth Grade class.I am absolutely floored that this journal has been preserved like this-- it was at my dad's house for like twenty years, sealed and untouched. I found two fantastic passages that illustrate the beginnings of my relationship to the sport:

"9-30-1983

Yesterday, we won the track meet! Claudia came in 1st place and Asia came in 2nd! I came in 19th place! Maybe next year I can come in 1st place!

For now, I'm just a runner!"

"10-21-1983

Yesterday, we lost the track meet. (but) We might get ribbons for our running! I hope so. My Mom was at the meet yesterday, too. My Ma always askes me, "Scott how do you do it?" She says she could never run as fast as I can. I should have told her she can do anything she wants! It's being good at what you do that counts."

I have so much enthusiasm for running now, and rereading these journals is like dipping in the 'Magic waters' That James earl Jones talks about in Field of Dreams. What a blessing to be able to re-connect to something I wrote so long ago-- to find the simple, resonant truth of a child-- ringing like a bell.

Bill Rodgers, the Melrose, Mass-based 4-time winner of the Boston marathon, left the sport for quite a number of years, himself. Not quite as many as I did, and certainly at a higher level of competition, but something he said in his book, Marathoning, struck a chord with me. He writes:

"Some people say, 'I'm a painter.' Well, I'm a runner. It comes from within. What started me running again? The primary reason was that I finally came to realize I was a runner. It was always a part of my personality. It fitted me so well. Although I had quit the physical experience of running, I had never quit being a runner at heart."

So, I've reached an understanding with myself, and been re-acquainted with a valuable truth that I forgot how to hear. I'm a runner. What kind of runner I become is now up to me. I may never hit the heights of 'Boston Billy,' But I've got a full tank and a full heart, and I'm ready to see what I can do.

I'm currently training about 23 miles a week, and every time out, I am more and more thankful for this body, this life, these friends and family members, these memories, and this wonderful opportunity to live more fully. Each step of this life is an opportunity to do just that. May I be always observant of this simple truth, and take no step for granted.

I feel like there's a new chapter opening in my life, and I hope to fill the remaining pages with a special story, started by a small, ten-year old boy awkwardly running through the Westminster woods in high green tube socks. I'm going to give this my all, and hopefully it will someday lead me to my goal of getting to that starting line in Hopkinton some cold, drizzly monday in early april.

The journey alone will be well worth it.

And if I want to stop and look at the butterflies along the way, that's okay too.

Here's to whatever's on your list.

Best,

Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dennis Kucinich Eviscerates Vice President Cheney.

He's not flashy. He doesn't yell. He never raises his voice at all.

The rest of the nation may be hung up on John Edwards' haircuts, Hillary's Fundraising, and Obama's endless promises of 'Hope.'

But there's one guy who's actually doing the heavy lifting. Here is one of the only real democrats left with any spine, a man who still remembers that the Constitution trumps the desires of the 'temps' in the executive branch.

This guy isn't an invertebrate flip-flopping milksop like Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.

Oh, no.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is for real. And He's going for the jugular.

Congressman Kucinich absolutely DESTROYS The Vice President's litany of lies to the American people in this recent resolution before the House of Representatives. He systematically picks apart every one of Cheney and Bush's lies and calls for Cheney's ouster.

By Dennis' rationale, Get rid of Cheney first, then go after other guy. After all, 'Pinky' Bush is nothing if he doesn't have 'The Brain' by his side, telling him what to do.

Tell your represenatives in congress and the senate to throw their support behind HR 333, and Impeach the Vice President for high crimes and misdemeanors against the US Constitution.

Watch the whole thing. Make up your mind. Just listen to the man, and you will understand what real leadership looks like. While other Dems sit on their hands and play it safe, Dennis is doing the job he was elected to do.

Isn't that what you'd expect from an elected representative??

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thank You, Red Sox.



Remember how Christmas used to feel when you were a kid?? That's EXACTLY how I feel right now.

The past few months and weeks have been like a dream come true for me. As some of you may know, I was asked in mid-summer to direct Barksdale theatre's 2007 season-opening production of 'The Member of the Wedding,' which allowed me to work with some of the finest theatre artists I have ever known. I learned a lot about team-building, ensemble work, sacrifice, unity, and dedication as I watched every designer, props person, stage manager, actor, light board op, and set builder do what they do best. The result was something wonderful: A beautiful flash of brilliant light across the stage. A joyous expression of the poetry of living came to life, thanks to the enormous talents people of wildly varying ages and backgrounds. The entire effort was a labor of love. The show was received very well by the critics, and the houses were consistently full. Yesterday was the closing matinee, and it was an emotional 'goodbye for now' for the cast and crew. I am so proud of their work. They'll never know just how much they mean to me.

Then, last night, my beloved Boston Red Sox won their second World Series title in four years, sweeping the Colorado Rockies four games to none. I was--and am-- still absolutely stunned.

I have been a Red Sox fan for as far back as I can remember, and the 2004 World Championship ranks among the top five things that have ever happened to me in my lifetime, right up there with getting married, graduating from college, and getting my first professional job. A second championship in four years is absolutely unimaginable to me. I am so happy that I think I'm going to burst. Now, to some, that may sound, shall we say, 'a tad excessive'-- I assure you, it is not.

You see, I come from a little town in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts called Pittsfield, nestled in a baseball-obsessed New England region of loyal Red Sox fans. Pittsfield actually boasts the earliest historical reference to the game of baseball in North America, dating back to 1791, almost a full seventy years before it was supposedly 'invented' by Abner Doubleday in New York (Sorry again, Yankee fans.) The official slogan for the Pittsfield baseball connection is "It All Started Here." There are actual 'vintage teams', like the Pittsfield Hillies, who play by '1880's rules' at Waconah Park in Pittsfield. So, basically, We're a little nuts about the game. And we're even nuttier about our Red Sox, who play their home games about two hours' drive east at historic Fenway Park in Boston.

When I was a kid, I moved around a lot, but the Red Sox were my tether to my roots, my lifeline to my family and my sense of who I am and where I'm from. It was my connection to my Grandfather, my Father, my Uncles, and cousins. I'm a New Englander. I take enormous pride in making that declaration, and anyone who knows me can tell you that. As a child moving and changing schools, I followed the Sox in the Scranton, PA news papers and ate up the box scores like so many Alpha Bits. I wore a Sox hat in my first professional play, by choice. I went to my first game at Fenway in April of 1984, appeared in a NESN TV Commercial for the Sox in August of 1988 (the footage of 13 year-old me was also featured on 'This Week in Baseball'), and I share a birthday
(aug 30th) with Ted Williams, perhaps the greatest Red Sox player of all-time. His daughter, Claudia, was my classmate in elementary school. I can recite the team's history backwards and forwards. I remember little moments and random stats from seasons long past (Example: Did you know that in 1988, the Sox were 4-0 whenever an animal appeared on the field? Well, now you do. Stuff like that.) I have had three favorite players in my lifetime: Dwight Evans, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez. (and now I'm finding that it's a tie between Dustin Pedroia and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Jacoby Ellsbury is just... Phenomenal. The second coming of Fred Lynn??? Wait-- I digress.)

Anyway, growing up, I 'suffered' through many a torturous season with the star-crossed Sox...(I use "quotation fingers" to denote the fact that sports "Suffering" doesn't really count as real suffering, especially not in a world where madmen kill children for money and the needy and sick often starve in order to satiate someone's lust for power-- to be clear, it's just a term)...Basically I endured the grim heartache of facing the all-too-real prospect of living my entire life without seeing the Sox win the World Series. (My Grandfather passed in 2001 without ever seeing them do it) All the while, watching expansion teams from places like Arizona and Florida, places devoid of our hardball heritage, win it all. Arizona? Florida? Please. I'm sure the people there are very nice, but it is very different when one talks about baseball fandom. Not exactly diehard fans, those Marlin & D-Back folk. The "Fans" in those cities enjoyed winning WS Titles, waved their towels and banged their thunderstix or whatever they were given as they entered the ballpark, and supported their teams for awhile-- before getting bored with mediocrity again and casting the same team aside when the Ice capades came to town.

It ain't exactly the same up north.

For me as a fan, it supremely sucked having to watch that kind of bandwagon-eering... But the absolute worst was watching the Yankees rake in four WS Trophies from 1996 to 2000 while the SS Red Sox continued to take on water year after year without management ever adequately addressing the leak. The Yanks drank champagne and ate caviar while the Sox watched hungrily from behind the glass. They took our players in the off season. And then they won titles with them. Wade Boggs. Roger Clemens. THAT hurts.

Now that I think about it, I take it back. That IS real suffering.

Anyway, the really weird part of all of this is that it wasn't always so. The Sox used to be the best team in baseball, hands down. After winning six out of the first 15 World Series from 1903-1918, the idiotic Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee, subsequently sold Babe Ruth to the NY Yankees for $125,000 (to finance a musical!! AAAHH!!) and the Sox--how shall I put this--Never quite recovered. They were ever-so-close to winning it all again in '46, '48, '67, '72,'75, '78, '86, '88,'90, '95, '99, and '03, but they never could quite get the job done. Always a miscue of some sort-- often a defensive lapse, an ill-advised pitch, a temper-tantrum, a managerial miscue, or a combination of all of them kept the Sox out of the winners' circle. They somehow always found a way to beat themselves, while the Yankees sat on a pile of WS Trophies-- totaling 26 in all.

It was hard. It was hard just being a fan!! Living in NYC after college, I was like the whipping boy on my way to work each day, passing construction sites and enduring jeers or sitting across from smug Wall Street guys who laughed at me when they saw the bright red 'B' on my hat. I'd sit in Yankee stadium fearing for my life as the Yankees killed my team, and then I'd get threatened or harassed all the way home on the subway. What also sucked was that often times the Red Sox and their ownership weren't particularly likeable. The front office acted as though the fans should kiss their feet while surly Sox players played like robots and collected their paychecks without ever cracking a smile. I was like "Why do I follow this freaking team?? They hate me!! AND they'll never win it all!! Why am I doing this to myself??" The negativity surrounding the franchise built up on sports talk radio, in bars and farmers' markets all over New England.

The media didn't help, either.

Some opportunistic douchebag Boston sportswriters (who shall remain nameless, and yes, the term 'douchebag' is a charitble axiom in this instance) in recent years had taken to attributing superstitious causes for the Red Sox' baseball futility, and cashed in heavily on the Sox' misery. It was as if these 'media elements' were openly rooting for the Red Sox to lose!! What an outrage!! In the aftermath of the 2003 collapse, another rage-inducing Yankee Homerun into the Bronx October air, the media and fans were at wits' end.

The endless refrain was replayed over and over: "The Red Sox are Cursed."

There seemed to be no relief.

Then, something amazing happened.

The flimsy spook-driven anti-sox marketing empire came crashing down in 2004 when, with their backs to the absolute WALL, a plucky, quirky, hairy, lovable Boston Red Sox team rose up, defiantly fought back, and finally beat the New York Yankees in what would go down as the single greatest comeback in the all-time history of sports. The Sox went on to beat the St Louis Cardinals, and won their first World Championship since 1918.

Earth-Shatteringly AWESOME.

That was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me-- And just about every Sox fan will say the same. In a span of three weeks in october of 2004, 86 years of heartbreak, negativity and panic, all the hand-wringing and collective doom and gloom was washed away, replaced by smiles and cheers. All of the hurt and frustration of generations of Sox fans down through time was transformed into a brilliant spark of Joy. Evidently, that energy created in 2004 has grown into something much more fulfilling.

The seed planted by that 2004 squad has blossomed into something amazing. It has borne more fruit, and manifested itself as beautifully played, artistic baseball.

I loved watching every moment of the 2007 Sox. I loved the players and their struggles to master this indescribably difficult and humbling game. I loved charting Dice-K's growth as he struggled to prove himself on the mound in the States. I loved witnessing Papelbon's exuberance; Pedroia's swagger; Manny's quirkiness and excellence; Beckett's competitiveness; Schilling's Faith; Papi's Perseverance; Timlin's Tenacity; Wakefield's Selflessness; Lugo's quiet determination; Drew's TIMING!!; Youkilis' Reliability; Lester's journey; Varitek's Leadership; Ellsbury's speed and talent; Crisp's Grace; The Bullpen's Rhythm; Okajima's Dominance; Lowell's Intelligence; Gagne's absence (Kidding!!); Wally's big fuzzy green head; The Guy who threw the Pizza; The Mother's Day Comeback; The Papelbon Riverdance; Bucholz' No-Hitter; Papi's Walkoff; Back-to-back-to-back-to-back Homers against the Yankees; Danny The Anti-Bartman; Manny's ALDS Blast & 'Hamburger Helper Hands'; Schill's One-hit wonder; THE O'S BEAT THE YANKEES!!; Remy's Balletic Post Air-guitar sense of Balance; Tito's Confidence; The ALCS Comeback; Theo & The Trio's vision; and The PASSION of Red Sox Nation.

I learned a lot about team-building, ensemble work, sacrifice, unity, and dedication as I watched every Shortstop, Catcher, Outfielder, Manager, GM, Coach, Scout, Pitcher and Hitter do what they do best. Last night, The Boston Red Sox won the World Series. AGAIN. a joyous expression of the poetry of living came to life this october, thanks to the enormous talents people of wildly varying ages and backgrounds. The entire effort was a labor of love.

I'll say it again. I love the Red Sox.

Thanks, Fellas. Take a bow. You deserve it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

FREE BURMA.

If you've been paying attention to the news recently, then you've seen stories about the Buddhist Monks protesting for the rights of all people against the Military junta in Burma. The story has a long and terrible history, but the bright side is that never before has that story been front and center in the world media like this.

It is time to capitalize on the media exposure of the atrocities committed by the Burmese Military Junta against the people of Burma. Write your congressman or senator and tell him or her to support economic sanctionsagainst the Military Junta. Also tell them to convince China to put severe political pressure on the Burmese Government.

Remember-- China doesn't want any disturbing flare-ups in that part of the world, and with the Olympics in Beijing just around the corner and deteriorating Chinese manufacturing 'street cred' leading to toy recalls worldwide, China needs a PR boost in the worst way. Supporting democratic reforms--or at the very least, public dialogue-- in Burma would be a good way for China to put some shine back into it's own image, even though China has just as much work to do in the Human Rights' Dept as Burma does.

The Bush Administration recently made my Jaw drop in admiration as they froze the assets of several of Burma's military leaders, and both the President and First Lady have publicly spoken in support of the democratic reforms championed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and others. Hell, even Dubya knows what's going on and is concerned enough to speak about it coherently-- it's GOTTA be a crisis. (Okay, that was just plain uncalled for.)

Seriously-- Thank you, Mr. President, for making the situation in Burma a focal point of your administration's foreign policy during your UN pissing contest with Iran.

Anyway, If you don't know much about this situation and would like to know more, go to:

www.uscampaignforburma.org

There you can find resources, petitions, updates, and you can become a member. The time is now, and the stakes are high. Support the people of Burma, and the courageous Monks who carry with them only a love for all beings and a determination to achieve justice, peace and national reconciliation.

Aung San Suu Kyi asks of all free people worldwide:

"Please use your liberty to promote ours."

Here's Jim Carrey with more on Aung San Suu Kyi and what she stands for:



And Michael Stipe of REM has this short clip:



And a 6-minute Doc called 'Burma Behind Bars':



Thanks for your time.

May all beings be happy,

Scott Wichmann

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thoughts on Dennis, America, and Baby deers.


Okay, so I'm up late again, (3am) trolling political websites and talking politics with libertarians, republicans, dems and greens, and I'm holding my own by myself on the home page message board of this great, comprehensive political website called:

http://usaelectionpolls.com/

It is a fantastic, well-informed and comprehensive resource for the electorate to research all presidential candidates and where they stand on the major Issues. Know what you stand for. Find a candidate for you.

Anyway, all y'all know that I'm backing the 'Kooch' in 2008, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and his platform of social justice, living wage, end to war, universal healthcare and generally being a wicked awesome little vegan Ohioan Gandhiji.

Well, usaelectionpolls.com/ helped me discover some stuff-- For Example, did you know that Dennis Kucinich's platform is the one that most americans identify with--on nearly all pressing issues-- more than any democratic candidate-- even Obama??

So, when people say "Nnnnhhh, I dunno, Dennis is 'wayyy Left' it is because the deepest aspirations of a majority of americans are 'Nhhhhh, I dunno, wayyy left.'

Amazingly, All of the Dems in the race are to the right of a majority of americans!! (except the cranky Mike Gravel, whom I love-- YELL, MIKE!! YELL!!)

Most americans want:

Universal healthcare (real universal, not-for-profit Healthcare for eyyyybody)
To End the war In Iraq
To Cancel NAFTA
To Cancel the WTO
To provide a Living Wage
To Develop Alternative Energy
To provide Universal Pre-K
To see Fair trade reform contingent on Human rights & environmental quality
To Get China out of our checkbook
To develop a new national manufacturing base
Full-Employment economy
To capture Osama and bring him to trial for the murder of 3,000 Americans

and

To pet a baby deer in a park by a lake.

Okay, my tofu-hippie-buddhist-beastie-boy ass made the last part up. But you must admit, dem dere deers shore are cute when they're littleuns.

Anyway, Keeping those issues in mind, wouldn't it be great if citizens voted, I dunno, their CONSCIENCE for a change?

If you agree with any of those issues, then Dennis presents a most excellent candidacy for YOU!!

So, go to the above website and, if you're inclined, show Dennis a little love. Vote in the polls. Speak your mind.

(I'm getting kicked around on the boards by some anti-new world order federal-income-tax-repealing-Libertarians who think my middle name is Chairman Mao, but I'm having a boo-last!!)

Anyway, research Dennis Kucinich and show him some love!!

Why?

Because DENNIS IS RIGHT NOW.


PEACE,
Scott Wichmann

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dennis is Right Now.



Among all democratic candidates for President, only Dennis Kucinich is voicing the real concerns of everyday americans and speaking directly to the redress of their grievances. We know that 46 million americans go without healthcare every day, so Dennis is for universal healthcare, authoring HR 676 to insure every man, woman and child in the US. He has authored HR 333, holding VP Dick Cheney accountable for crimes against the US Constitution. Dennis voted against the war in Iraq and every spending bill thereafter. Dennis favors a WPA-style program to create American jobs by renovating the nation's crumbling infrastructure and retro-fitting homes with energy-saving technology that will reduce costs and benefit the environment.

Dennis is for the working men and women of america, because he is one of them.

Sure, our good friends on the right may call Dennis' domestic agenda another example of 'Tax & spend liberalism at it's most wasteful' but we never hear a word when the present Republican Administration mysteriously 'loses' 8 billion dollars in cash in Iraq. You didn't read that wrong-- it's gone, poof, vanished, with no accounting. 8 BILLION DOLLARS. Of your money. My money. US taxpayer funds. Flailing in the winds of Iraq... or wherever.

Think of how many american children could have been fully insured with 8 Billion dollars; how many repairs to infrastructure could have been made; How many schools, hospitals, senior centers, job training and adult literacy courses could have been funded. 8 Billion just -- vanished? Not to mention the no-bid wartime gifts, hand-over-fist, the Bush administration gives to corporations like Halliburton. And here the neocons are reverting to their tired routine of attacking 'Tax & Spend' liberals?? Please.

It's high time we put an ADULT in the white house, someone who comes from a working-class background; Someone who knows that Unions and american manufacturing jobs make america strong; Someone who understands --the first time-- that war should only be used as a last resort; Someone who wants to repeal NAFTA and the WTO and go back to bilateral trade contingent on workers rights, human rights and environmental quality principles ; Someone who wants to stage an intervention to stop our bloated deficit spending-habit; Someone who will put an end to the practice of financing China's economy in favor of incentives to provide decent wages and benefits for American workers; Someone who will distribute Taxation equitably-- lifting and shifting the Tax burden off the backs of the poor and the middle class and making the big corprations and the wealthiest 1% pay their fair share; Someone who upholds the ideals of the US Constitution, in word AND deed, voting against the authoritarian, bill-of-rights-stripping USA Patriot act; Someone who wants to hold the current administration accountable for it's horrendous corporate cronyism, lies, malfeasance, mismanagement and outright thievery of Iraq's oil for geopolitical strategic hegemony.

Lastly, a candidate who understands that we are all interconnected, as Dr King once put it, in an "Inescapable network of mutuality." A man in the mold of Gandhi, Dr King and Thoreau, who speaks truth to power and recognizes the immense potential of the promise that is The United States of America.

I'll cast my vote for Dennis Kucinich. I hope you will too.

Scott Wichmann



Monday, July 30, 2007

Scott Wichmann: Old School Sox Fan

Over on Andrew Hamm's blog, there's a discussion of the phenomenon of the 'New School Red Sox Fans'-- Currently (and derisively) called the 'Pink Hat Crowd' by astute members of the Boston Sports Media. This nomenclature refers to the brand-spankin' new pink hats worn by young and often hardball-disinterested ladies who simply wanted to buy a Sox hat because it's "soooo right now." They're the gals you see on TV at Fenway text messaging their gal pals and not watching the game. Obviously not all ladies are like this, and whatever anyone does at a ballgame is their business-- I just hate to see a good seat at Fenway gobbled up by someone who has no clue how lucky they are to be there in the first place.

The merch is flying off the shelves and the folks like the way it looks. But some of them can't name anyone on the team. It drives. Me. CRAZY.

The Pats fan base suffered the same phenomenon back in 1993, when the Patriots hired Bill Parcells to coach, Drafted Drew Bledsoe, and switched their helmet logo from the hilariously un-threatening 'Pat the Patriot' (The disgruntled minuteman in the three-point stance) in favor of the more aerodynamic and marketable 'Flying Elvis' logo, which I always thought looked a little bit like New Hampshire's fabled 'Old Man of the Mountain'-- which has since crumbled like the Yankee dynasty-- but I digress. The point is that everyone and their mother was now a 'lifelong, diehard Pats fan,' but most of them were made out of Phoney Baloney. (Which, Ironically, is what I eat now that I'm a Vegetarian-- so what does that make me?? Aww crap, 'philosophical conundrum alert'-- umm, I'll table that tangental thought as well...)

I remember getting into a heated argument with a guy at the Friendship Bar & Grille in Pittsfield Mass back in '93 after I walked into the bar wearing a brand-new 'Flying Elvis' Pats hat. This guy called me a 'Johhny-come-lately' and I took umbrage. This was back when I used to hit the sauce pretty hard, so it's all a little blurry... Anyway, the point is that the New England fan base is a grizzled lot, and you've got to know your stuff if you wannna hang around. I understand it, and I always say that "you've got to support your team through thick & thin." That's why I still wear my Celtics gear now & again, and I have a feeling that my boys in Green & White may actually become RELEVANT again, but I'll shut up so as not to jinx anything in that department...

Anyway, back to my main point-- this phenomenon of 'New school' Sox fans is just, well, WEIRD to me. I'm just not used to it.

On the 4th of July 2005, Jenny, Zac & I sat next to four 17-18 year olds (two Girls and Two Guys) at the Diamond for a game against the Columbus Clippers, the Yankee AAA Team. These kids were ALL decked out in their brand spanking new Red Sox t-shirts & hats. Of course, the girls had Pink Sox Hats. Then, one of the guys started talking to me about the Sox in this thick southern good-ole boy accent, and I was like "Am I in Bizarro World??" They were nice enough kids, and I was glad to have them aboard the SS RED SOX, but I couldn't help but flashback to my own ordeal, spending part of my childhood (6th-9th grade) in Pennsylvania, where all we ever got were Phillies games and the American League was, like, a RUMOR. I used to read the Box Scores of the late games two days later to quench my insatiable appetite for All Things Sox-Related. Thank goodness they made the postseason in 1986 or I would probably have never have seen them on TV all year long.

So, most people know that I've been a Sox fan as far back as I can remember, and they know that as far as I'm concerned, the Red Sox are like BREATHING. I can't remember when I wasn't a lunatic Rooter for the 'local nine' and I'm tied to them through my family my New England roots-- Heck, I even have the same BIRTHDAY as Ted Williams (August 30th). Anyway, I just thought I would post a picture to show Andrew (and everybody who knows me and my insane obsession) just exactly HOW far back me & the Sox go.

Check it out...



Scott Wichmann is an OLD SCHOOL RED SOX FAN.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Tony Stewart 'Old Spice' Spot

So, the new Tony Stewart Collectible 'Old Spice' spot is out in full force. I actually watched a half hour of NASCAR Busch series coverage on July 14th to see it, and it's pretty funny. I'm on the 5-man pit crew, and, along with the other guys (Local acting treasure Mark Joy included) we only appear for like a millisecond. You can see me for like a split-second at :25 into the spot holding the trophy and Pointing to Tony as he raises his arms at Victory Road. It's pretty sweet.

We had a great time shooting it out at RIR on May 16th, and the actors on the 'Pit Crew' bonded pretty quickly. We kept saying that we should all be the featured actors in a new HBO series called 'The Crew.' Mark would be the crew chief, and we would have Rich ('the hotshot'), Casey ('the black guy'-- his own words), Andy ('the wily veteran'), and myself ('the quirky guy who should probably be played by Steve Buscemi but he was already booked.')

Maybe I'll pitch it.

A lot of 'locals' were employed by the Wieden & Kennedy Folks who shot the spot. Liz Marks held the auditions for it; David Sennett was Tony's stand-in; Justin Dray worked in the art dept; Antoinette Essa was the on-camera interviewer you see in the commercial, and Frank Creasy and Derek Phipps along with many others did extra work, playing photographers, press, and fans for the spot.

Here's hoping they come back through sometime to film some more. The spot is below-- there's a 10-second delay, then the spot starts. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Dice-K, meet my hometown. Hometown, Dice-K."


Yet another reason that Daisuke Matsuzaka is fast becoming my favorite player. I was at the Berkshire Athenaum last year to see the 1791 Baseball exhibit, and it was really a very, very special feeling to know that I grew up in the 'birthplace' of baseball. It's also great to know that Dice-K felt strongly enough about the game to want to check out it's oldest historical reference!!

Here's the article from the Berkshire Eagle about an otherwise uneventful day in the 'Pitts' turning into a special visit from a very special player...

PITTSFIELD,MA — It was supposed to be a secret.

But when the Boston Red Sox's multimillion-dollar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is in town, word tends to get around.

Having expressed an interest in seeing America's earliest known official reference to his profession, Matsuzaka's handlers made arrangements to have Mayor James M. Ruberto show the 1791 document located in the Herman Melville Room at the Berkshire Athenaeum yesterday afternoon.

By the time he arrived at the Athenaeum's main entrance shortly after 3 p.m., about 30 people had gathered to catch a glimpse of the baseball phenomenon. Matsuzaka — donning a low-drawn ball cap, a T-shirt and shorts — was escorted into the building by two Pittsfield police officers. Three friends, his wife and infant son accompanied the 26-year-old Tokyo native on the visit.

Matsuzaka, whose English is limited, seemed interested in the original hand-written ordinance and the original book page containing the minutes that were hand-written during the annual town meeting in Pittsfield in September 1791.

The Pittsfield ordinance — banning the playing of baseball, cricket or any other games using a ball within 80 yards of the town meeting place — also seemed of interest to his wife.

Ruberto showed Matsuzaka the documents, explained their importance, and then presented him with gifts — two baseball caps with the 1791 date on them, two red T-shirts meant to be worn during the human baseball event Saturday at Wahconah Park, a set of the Art of the Game baseball cards and a replica of the historic document.

Matsuzaka seemed happy with the gifts.

"Thank you," he said in English.

Ruberto noted that Matsuzaka played golf yesterday morning at the Country Club of Pittsfield. The club president made him an honorary member, according to the mayor.

"I was born in Pittsfield, I've been mayor here for almost four years — and I'm not even an honorary member," he said, laughing. "So that's really something."

While Matsuzaka was at the club, there was an air of awe among employees and golfers.

Near the ninth green, assistant golf pro Michael Morschauser was teaching some youngsters how to putt when Matsuzaka sank his ball.

"The kids got real excited," Morschauser said. "He said, 'Hello,' and waved when he went by."

Six-year-old Jacob Goldstein, sporting a Red Sox hat and visiting with his grandparents from the San Francisco area, where Major League Baseball's All-Star game took place last night, watched as Matsuzaka cruised by in his golf cart. It was a lucky sighting for the youngster since Matsuzaka didn't make the All-Star team.

"I thought it was really great," he said. "It made me feel real good to see Daisuke Matsuzaka on the golf course." Jacob pronounced the pitcher's full name flawlessly.

"I feel like I want to be a professional athlete, too," he added.

Matsuzaka became an instant celebrity for Red Sox fans when he signed a $52 million deal in the offseason to join Boston from the Seibu Lions in Japan. The Sox also had to pay the Lions $51 million for him.

A superstar in his native country, he first received notice in America when he was named the most valuable player of the 2006 World Baseball Classic after leading Japan to the championship of the inaugural tournament.

Currently, he is 10-6 with a 3.84 earned-run average. He has pitched 119 2/3 innings, the most of any Boston pitcher this season, and has a team-high 123 strikeouts.

Matsuzaka has won three of his last five starts heading into the All-Star break, but lost his last start Sunday at Detroit. His best start this season was July 3 against Tampa Bay, in which he allowed no runs and just four hits in eight innings while striking out nine Devil Rays.

Eagle sports editor Matthew Sprague contributed to this report. Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or at (413) 496-6240.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Richmond.Com review of 'The Odd Couple'



Local version of Classic "Odd Couple" is delightful.
by Joan Tupponce
Richmond.com


Since Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" appeared on Broadway in 1965, audiences have delighted in the unlikely pairing of Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. Their antics carried over to film and television and are now entertaining audiences at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern.

At first glance, Oscar and Felix are as outwardly opposite as Martha Stewart and Pigpen of Charlie Brown fame. Oscar is an unconcerned slob and Felix is a neurotic clean freak. But when you dig deep down, you find that Oscar and Felix are more alike than the surface impressions. They share similar feelings as they tread the waters of divorce and, even though they bicker, stay loyal to their friendship.

Some of Hollywood's best comedians -- Walter Matthau, Jack Klugman, Jack Lemmon, Art Carney and Tony Randall -- have portrayed these two unlikely roommates with much success.

In London, they even staged a female version (Florence Unger and Olive Madison). Instead of that poker game that opens the original male version, Madison has invited her female friends over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. And, in this version, the Pigeon sisters have become the Costazuela brothers. The situation is the same. Only the gender changed.)

So what do David Bridgewater and Scott Wichmann bring to the traditional roles?

Plenty.

Director Joe Pabst gets a pat on the back for bringing these veteran actors together on the stage and surrounding them with a strong cast of supporting actors that can hold their own in the realm of comedy. With "The Odd Couple," Pabst has created a show that delivers on many emotional levels.

Bridgewater brings a genuineness to Oscar's disordered life that is quick to elicit laughter. He is at his best when he is trying to deal with Felix's quirks and neuroses, bursting into fits of comic frustration. He is also adept at showing the audience the character’s softer side when Oscar relates to his children and to the sadness that Felix is experiencing.

In his role as Felix, Wichmann is the obsessive-compulsive neurotic mess that Simon must have visualized when he wrote the part. Wichmann is a master when it comes to facial gestures, body language and physical comedy. His needy, nerdy, portrayal takes "odd" to new comic heights. When you pair Wichmann and Bridgewater, you have comic bliss.

Other standouts in the production include Derek Phipps who delivers a dead-on portrayal of henpecked Vinnie and the ditzy Pigeon sisters, played by Jen Meharg and Jennifer Frank. Even though their deliberate over-the-top portrayals are a little much, the sister act is a crowd-pleaser.

Scenic designers Terrie Powers and David Powers are to be commended for creating an apartment-like set that feels as real as any rentable space in the city. Their attention to detail -- autographed sports photos, vintage vacuum cleaner and dirty dishes in the kitchen -- adds to the authenticity of the show as does the lighting design of Bennett J. Fidlow.

"The Odd Couple" is a great laugh-out-loud show. Matthau, Klugman, Lemmon, Carney and Randall would be proud.

"The Odd Couple" runs through Aug. 12 at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern. Tickets are $38, with a $4 discount for seniors, students and Ukrop's cardholders. You can purchase tickets by calling Barksdale Theatre's Box Office at 282-2620 or online at www.barksdalerichmond.org.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!!

This is a clip from my favorite musical, 1776, featuring William Daniels as Massachusetts firebrand John Adams. This selection is my favorite from the show, and the haunting lyrics are applicable to this day and age, never more apropos than in this time in our country's history.

When there are so many apathetic people around, weary of politicians who constantly fail to do more than 'just enough to keep their jobs', is it still possible to, in the words of Dr King "transform the jangling discords of our nation into a symphony of brotherhood?" Furthermore, with our troops embroiled in a Civil War in Iraq, how do we best achieve peace and security for ourselves and our neighbors on the planet?
What's next? Where do we turn? How do we navigate towards real progress in these tenuous times, where one half of the country is pitted politically against the other half? I don't have a clue.

Yet I do know that all of us have asked the same question of our fellow human beings:

IS ANYBODY THERE?
DOES ANYBODY CARE?
DOES ANYBODY SEE WHAT I SEE?




I love this country with all my heart. I still think that this country is the best, most effective place to enact social and political change. This country was founded on the possibilities we all posess as individuals, and it entrusts us with the power to speak truth. The United States of America was founded on our very capacity to change, to evolve, to grow into what we would be and to master our very destiny.

That is true independence. Let us strive for that as a nation.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Richmond Times-Dispatch review of 'Odd Couple'


'Odd Couple' is a timeless comedy
Neil Simon's beloved 1965 play still has the ring of truth


By SUSAN HAUBENSTOCK
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


Barksdale Theatre's second Hanover Tavern season validates their premise: classic comedies and mysteries are reliable crowd-pleasers.

And no playwright is more trustworthy than Neil Simon. And no Neil Simon play is more foolproof than "The Odd Couple."

This beloved 1965 comedy still works -- hilarious situations, brilliant punch lines and the ring of truth. When the pathologically fussy Felix Unger is kicked out by his fed-up wife, his divorced friend Oscar Madison takes him in, and thus is born a mismatch for the ages. "It's not your fault, Felix," Oscar the slob admits. "We're just a rotten combination."

Joe Pabst directs in the usual Pabstian style: over the top, swinging for the fences with every line. It works here most of the time; the only false note, really, is the notion that Scott Wichmann's Felix could really be a close friend and poker buddy of David Bridgewater's Oscar.

A skinny tie, slicked-back hair and heavy black glasses don't make Wichmann look like a father of two who's been married for 12 years.

But otherwise, no complaints. The four poker buddies are totally convincing, especially Jeff Clevenger, who speaks with the music of Brooklyn. The Pigeon sisters are wacky and hysterical. Gwendolyn (Jennifer Frank) is especially alarming in her scary bouffant wig, and it's fun to see Jen Meharg, Wichmann's wife, play Cecily opposite him.

Terrie Powers and David Powers provide the shabby Manhattan apartment set, with the requisite swinging door to the kitchen. Heather Hogg outfits everyone in the right 1960s wardrobe. There's even an A&P grocery bag for authenticity.

Wichmann is great as always with the combination of physical comedy and neurotic dialogue, and his ear-clearing snorts are unlike other sounds made by man.

Bridgewater plays Oscar as a sort of combination Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from "The Honeymooners." This is an interesting choice, since Art Carney, who played Ed Norton in "The Honeymooners," was the original Felix (not Oscar!) on Broadway. His quiet moments on the phone with his ex-wife are as believable as his air-freshener attack on Felix.

It's no accident that this play has spawned a hit movie, a TV series and numerous adaptations over the years -- it's a modern classic. Pabst's program note suggests that Simon will eventually join George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in the American comedy pantheon, and surely he's right about that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MySpace theatre Survey

1) What was the first play you ever did? What role/job?
Well, the first role that said to my family "Dang, this boy has moxie" was my riveting portrayal of the all-singing, all-dancing 'Cheshire Cat' in the Westminster Center School's Spring musical production of Alice in Wonderland, performed onstage in the grand and spacious 300-seat auditorium of the Bellows Falls Union High School (in Bellows Falls, Vermont) in May of 1982. I had arrived. The production was most notable for the fact that it starred Claudia Williams, daughter of Red Sox Hall-of-Fame Hitting Legend Ted Williams, in the title role of Alice. Most of the community came out to see her and try to get a glimpse of her prodigious pop. Soldiering on in relative anonymity, I sang a rag-time version of 'Twas Brillig' complete with straw hat and bamboo cane, and the audience gave me the kind of ovation reserved for a three-run shot into Williamsburg. It was a really fantastic feeling. My Grandparents came up from Massachusetts to see the show, and I remember my Grandmother hugging me so tightly all weekend that I thought my eyes were going to pop out... There was a rumor that Teddy Ballgame himself actually came and sat in the back of the theatre, but we didn't actually meet him until the spring of 1983, when he showed up at our track meet against our rivals from Chester, VT, (which, BTW, his daughter won handily) and signed autographs for twenty-five minutes.

...So, that's when we all knew I had some theatrical Moxie. Coincidentally, Ted Williams used to advertise 'Moxie' the soft drink that is still popular in Maine-- the favorite beverage of Theatre IV's Andy Boothby, a fellow New Englander.

I'm telling you, it always comes back to New England.

The other, perhaps more significant stepping-stone was when I was cast as Nick in Scranton Public Theatre's 1987 revival of 'A Thousand Clowns' directed by Pulitzer-Prize Winning Writer-Director-Actor Jason Miller. Folks may recognize the late Mr. Miller as the embattled father Damien Karras in 1973's The Exorcist.

My father's job had moved us from Vermont to Scranton, PA, and my Mother, emboldened by my exploits in Wonderland, enrolled me in the Lucan Center's 'Acting Classes For children' under the direction of the late, great teacher Rita Julius. Rita suggested that SPT give me an audition for the role of Nick, and at the first audition (along with 40 other hopefuls for the role) I met Jason and read really well. The next day, duing callbacks, there was only one other kid in the lobby. I gave it my best shot and then, as kids are so amazingly able to do, I forgot about it all. About a week later, playing basketball with my Friend Danny Walker, I got the call from SPT that they wanted to use me. That one phone call changed everything, and set me on the path to making acting my life. From then on, it became important to me to do the best job possible for whatever audience I would find myself in front of. I owe a great deal to the Scranton Public Theatre, and to Mr Miller, whom I always wanted to work with again, but never got the opportunity. Jason Miller died in May of 2001.


2) What was your most recent show? What job/role?
I just finished an incredible run as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Theatre IV in Richmond. The cast was like a big family, and every night was something new and fun. I particluarly enjoyed the dressing room debates on politics and religion with Woody Robinson, who played Uncle Henry. I met a whole host of great people, and I go to watch the talents of Alia Bisharat as Dorothy, Christopher Stewart as Scarecrow, and Richrd Koch as the Tin Man from the best seat in the house. That cast was like one big happy family.

I'm currently gearing up for tomorrow's premiere of Barksdale's revival of The Odd Couple at the gorgeously renovated Hanover Tavern space. I'm honored to finally be able to work opposite David Bridgewater, who has been a standout performer in the DC/VA theatre scene for years and years. I'm also very grateful to be able to work with my wife, Jennifer Meharg, who brings vivacity to the role of Cecily Pigeon (she looks great in the costume too-- trust me, it's worth the price of admission...)


3) What was your most fun show/role?
That is a very tough question to answer. I always have fun, but each show is 'fun' in different ways. I really enjoy screwball comedies like Scapino!, Rounding Third, Tartuffe, and Where's Charley?... Generally, whatever show I'm working on is the most fun for me. I find that fun people are everywhere in the theatre world-- I count myself lucky to be in constant contact with them.


4) What was your most challenging show/role?
Probably the demands of I AM MY OWN WIFE-- 36 characters all done by one person-- the show was essentially put up in two weeks, and I did much of the 'Homework' of learnign the lines when I was in Gloucester, Massachusetts, working on the new Israel Horovitz play The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath. 'Bath' went up with two and a half weeks of rehearsal, followed by a three-week run. Then I jetted back to Richmond and put on a black dress to play a 65-year old german transvestite and her associates. It was one of the most difficult and challenging periods of my artistic life, but I find that it is often that urgency which creates compelling art.


5) What is the most bizarre show or role you've ever done?
I did Ionesco's Bald Soprano for a High School Showcase in my senior year. I really enjoyed the breakdown of language in it. I heard recently that U of Richmond took that play to Moscow with acting standout Sean Hudock opposite Walter Schoen and Dorothy Holland. Boy, I'd love to see that.

6) Has anyone ever written a show for you? Yes. I can't say much more than that. I don't want to jinx anything.

7) Have you ever gotten romantically involved with a co-star? Yes-- we celebrate four years of marriage on July 12th!!

8) Have you ever quit a show to accept a better one? Yes, I have. It really had nothing to do with being a 'better' show-- the facts of life often necessitate taking
jobs with longer runs, taking into account accruals of Equity health insurance weeks, and a whole host of other real-world considerations. Luckily, I haven't burned any bridges, and those times have proven to be learning experiences for me.

9) Have you ever completely blown character on stage? Yes. During a performance of Olympus on my Mind, we all cracked up at something, and it was contagious laughter that made the audience cackle. Luckily, it was the play-within-the-play format, so the audience was laughing at what they thought were the characters' inability to control themselves. Our Stage Manager laid down the law, and that was that.

10) What show are you just dying to do?
I'd really enjoy the opportunity to do Jason Miller's play That Championship Season and play the alcoholic Tom Daley. That's one of my favorite plays. Others I've got in my sights include John Adams in 1776, Ko-Ko in The Mikado (Did it in college, but I could do it much better now) Roche in Ron Hutchinson's Rat in the Skull (a play about IRA terrorism) Mr. Nickles in MacLeish's J.B; I'd also like to do JP Shanley's DOUBT... But the one I'm really chomping at the bit to do is Richard III.

11) Have you ever done one of your "dream" shows?
Yes, Man of La Mancha in High School opposite Elizabeth Banks (The nymphomaniac in 'The Forty-Year Old Vigin') Me and My Girl in college and Bat Boy: The Musical! At Firehouse Theatre Project.

12) Who was your favorite director? Oh, gosh-- well, I love working with Rick St. Peter, Steve Perigard and Ralph Hammann. They have a great balance between too tight/too loose-- they all know what they want, but they create enough space to experiment & play, and they all have a real sense of where a production is as it grows. Communication is always key with them. So is a sense of play & humor. I also loved working with Drew Scott Harris, Bill Patton, Morrie Piersol, Rusty Wilson, Ford Flannagan, David Salter, Susan Sanford, Anthony Luciano, Grant Mudge, Dawn Westbrook, Jan Guarino, Foster Solomon, Bruce Miller, K Strong and many others. The list is loooong. Joe Pabst has done a great job hitting all the comedic beats and telling the story of the 'Odd Couple.' See for yourself.


13) Who was your least favorite director? There are some things we just don't do, and one of them is to directly answer questions like that. Generally, I find that an inability to communicate clearly is detrimental to working well in the theatre. If we can get clear on what we want to do and need to do, and determine the best way to acheive a goal, we will be successful. Some of the worst times I have had have come when a director has simply not been clear with me what he or she needs to see-- and has not really cared to help me get there. I must say, causing an actor to flail about in self-doubt and negativity generated by unclear expectations and nebulously-defined objectives is counter-productive to say it politely. Worst of all, if you remove the creative safety-net for an actor, you stifle his or her creative spontaneity. That's not good. I don't like to be there with that kind of energy. That's all I have to say about that.


14) What is the most surprising role you have ever been offered?
Chicken in Kingdom of Earth. I thought, "this is a Stanley Kowalski type role and I'm built like Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley..." But I thought it worked really well. I loved working with Bill Patton, and his son Will was very encouraging when he came ot see it.


15) Have you ever injured yourself onstage?
Yes, I bruised my ribs in a fall during a saturday matinee of Scapino! I was standing atop one of the huge iron posts during the 'sack scene' (with Jack Parrish muttering 'The sack is too small, dammit,' from inside the burlap bag) and I slipped and the wind got knocked right out of me as the post drove itself into my side. My face went white and somehow I made it through the rest of the scene on sheer adrenaline. They only had to cancel two shows, thankfully, but the real pain came when my buddy Dave Clark called me the next day and made me laugh over the phone. Excrutiatingly painful.

16) Have you ever worked on an original play?
Yes, a few, as a matter of fact. Brimstone, the Irish musical premiered at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in June 1994. I've also done staged readings of the new musicals Silver Dollar, No Way to Treat a Lady, and Calamity. And, of course, 'Bonnard.'

17) What show(s) have you done multiple times?
The SantaLand Diaries, You Can't Take it with You, The Wizard of Oz, Scapino and The Lost Colony outdoor drama.

18) Have you ever done different adaptations of the same show?
No, I never have.

19) What roles do you usually get?
Quirky, comedic clown roles in Musicals & comedies, but I think I'm also really good at taking things the other way. I am very fortunate to get the roles I've been offered, and I really feel that in many ways, I'm entering a new phase of my life. My work should reflect that-- I'd like to do shows that adress things which I would like to talk about.

20) Have you ever had an onstage kiss?
Yes, several. The weirdest ones were when I was doing Bat Boy and The Diary of Anne Frank, respectively-- both of my co-stars were sixteen or seventeen years old. Emma Orelove was still in High school. Paging Chris Hanson from Dateline NBC!!!

21) What was your scariest moment in a show?
When I hurt myself in the Scapino matinee-- at first I thought "Ohh, boy, I did some really serious damage." I couldn't breathe, and for a second, I thought I might die like Moliere, spitting up blood onstage. Funny, Scapino is a re-working of Moliere's Les Fouberies De Scapin or 'The tricks of Scapin'. And luckily , I didn't die!! Yay!!

22) What is your best show memory?
Singing 'Happiness' with the cast of 'You're a good man, Charlie Brown.'
Having Danny Hoch come & see 'Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop.'
Every night of 'The Laramie Project.'
Seeing my family in the fist three rows during 'Oz.' (The musical, not the HBO prison drama.)
Hearing Eleanor Dare's Lullaby & then starting Final March in 'The Lost Colony.'
Having my dad in the crowd to see 'Scapino!'-- the first show he'd seen me in in ten years or so.
Switching roles nightly in 'Rounding Third.'
'If we Shadows...' Hearing Andrew Hamm's music at the end of 'Midsummer' nightly.

23) What is your worst show memory?
Having to quit the 2001 North Carolina run of 'Ella & Her Fella, Frank' because the producer was a sly, conniving fella whose checks were made of rubber. I honestly ended that run with less money than I started with. Luckily I went union later that year-- That period was unquestionably the nadir of my professional life.

24) Have you ever pulled a prank on someone in a show?
During the run of 'Wizard of Oz', I must confess to some light-hearted scampery. Every evening when Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch, Michael Hawke would exclaim: "Hail!! Hail Dorothy!! You are now our Queen!!" And since I was facing upstage, I would point to myself as if to say "Me? I'm the Queen?" Either that or I would pretend to be sick because a woman just melted right in front of me, or I woukd pretend to be afraid of Dorothy for her capacity to take a life, or perplexed by the mob menatlity of the Winkies who celebrated cold-blooded murder; things like that. At times when the Tin man would say "Listen!! It Ticks!! My heart!! It TICKS!!" I would back away from it veeeery slowly, ever so slightly. In many cases, I was giving as good as I got-- Richard Koch kept me in stitches with the stuff he used to mutter to me out of the corner of his tin mouth... "Let's take a caller!!"

25)Have you ever been the recipient of a prank during a show?
Yes, John Dehasse used to mess with me big-time when I worked at Busch Gardens Williamsburg doing the Enchanted Laboratory show. I used to have to go offstage for like a brief moment or two-- John would hide backstage and grab me so I couldn't make my entrance ontime.

26) Do you have any theatrical superstitions? I usually say 'Scottish play' in the theatre. i just do, I don't know why. Probably because of the lore that it has-- it's really a tradition thing, I suppose.

27) Ever had a show open or close too early in its run?
Yes-- the aforemntioned revival of Elaa & her fella, Frank in 2001. I just couldn't do it, and my bowing out essentially pulled the plug on the whole venture. sorry, Herman. No pay, no play. I gotta get that cheddar, Bitch.

Friday, June 22, 2007

'With Iraq Play, Students Act on Beliefs' by Erika Hayasaki



WILTON, Conn. - She could not look at her principal. The words coming out of his mouth infuriated her.

There would be no play about the war in Iraq, he told the drama class at Wilton High School: The topic was too controversial, too complicated.0622 04

Sitting in the front row of the campus theater on a March morning, Erin Clancy squeezed another drama student’s hand and tried to hold back tears. They had been preparing for the production of “Voices in Conflict” for two months. One student sitting onstage began to yell and curse. The performing arts department head ordered her to address the principal with respect.

Erin didn’t want to offend him either. In her four years at Wilton High, she had grown to like the principal. But this play meant more to her than others she had acted in, like “West Side Story” and “Grease.” She had to say something.

Her voice trembled. She was 18 - old enough to fight in the war, Erin told him, and old enough to vote for leaders who send people to war. So why couldn’t she perform in a play about it?

It was not open for debate. Principal Timothy Canty told the students his mind was made up.

He left, and the students swarmed their drama teacher. It had been Bonnie Dickinson’s idea for them to research the war and come up with monologues based on the words of U.S. soldiers culled from documentaries, books and articles. Dickinson had stayed quiet during the principal’s talk. The students asked her: What do we do now?

Dickinson told them she didn’t think there was anything they could do: He was the principal, and he made the rules.

The students talked of writing letters to the local newspaper or protesting the principal’s decision. There had to be something they could do to change his mind.

It didn’t seem fair, Erin recalled telling her father in their family room later that evening. There was a war going on, and she wanted her classmates to care about it.



IT started as an end-of-the-year project.

Dickinson, 53, a drama teacher at Wilton High School for 13 years, wanted her students to perform something with substance. She thought of a former Wilton High student, Nicholas Madaras, who had joined the Army after graduating in 2005. He was killed in September by a roadside bomb. Dickinson had not followed news about the war closely but figured she could learn about it, along with her students, by creating a play.

She began collecting sources in which soldiers had talked about their experiences. The goal, she told the class, was to present different viewpoints. They would piece together a series of vignettes from real-life characters.

One of several documentaries students watched for their research was called “The Ground Truth,” in which veterans condemned the war and their treatment by the military after returning home from Iraq. Many supporters of the war consider it a biased film. To balance the students’ references, Dickinson found books and articles in which soldiers talked proudly of their job, and the importance of fighting for freedom.

The veterans in “The Ground Truth” touched some of her students. James Presson, 16, could not get Navy veteran Charlie Anderson out of his mind. In the film, Petty Officer 2nd Class Anderson, 30, talked about suffering from post-traumatic stress, and how his life fell apart after fighting in Iraq.

James was named after his uncle, who died fighting in the Vietnam War. He watched the news daily, and couldn’t understand why his teachers did not discuss the war in his social studies classes. He often noticed yellow ribbons, American flags, and “Support Our Troops” banners in Wilton, an affluent community of 18,000 about 50 miles northeast of New York City. But he seldom heard anyone talk about why the troops were fighting and dying.

Watching the film, James wondered how Anderson must have felt to come home to a daughter who didn’t remember him and a marriage that fell apart. He thought about what it would be like to go from being a proud U.S. soldier to a lonely veteran who could not find a job.

James wanted to act Anderson’s story.

Erin, who loves wearing high heels and anything pink, was surprised she identified with soldiers who had shot people and lost limbs. She empathized with the young woman who joined the military to pay for college and ended up agonizing over starving children in Iraq.

Something Anderson said in the documentary stuck with Erin too. He talked about coming home from the war and trying to relate to his friends:

“It’s just that our priorities were different,” he said. “It was hard finding friends. People were boring to me, not that I was that interesting of a person. I just always thought they talked about stupid stuff.”

Before working on this play, Erin used to listen to reports about Paris Hilton. Now she pays attention to news about soldiers killed in Iraq. Her friends outside of drama class didn’t understand her preoccupation.

After her research, Erin concluded that she supported the war. She believed the government should finish what it started. She wanted other students to learn enough to form their own opinions too.

The class had not finished putting together a script when the principal called the drama teacher into his office. Canty told Dickinson that parents were concerned about the play’s content, she later recalled. A student, whose brother was serving in Iraq, had expressed interest in performing in the play. But once the student got involved, she disagreed with its direction because she felt it was antiwar. Her mother complained to the school.

Dickinson offered to revise the script, but Canty was not satisfied. When he visited the class, students asked whether they could perform the play for their parents. Canty said no. They could not perform the play at Wilton High, or anywhere else.



A few days later, someone tipped off the media.

The drama students suspected it was a parent, angry that the play was canceled. Local and national television programs and newspapers did stories. Strangers from across the world encouraged the students, and soldiers stationed in Iraq sent words of support, including Anderson from “The Ground Truth.”

Then came the backlash. Someone had started a Facebook Web page criticizing the drama class. One posting said the students should be “hanged for treason.” Others called them “worthless” and “unpatriotic” kids with “liberal pig parents.”

At first, the drama students were scared and nervous to return to school. In hallways, kids tried to pick fights with them. Others talked behind their backs or shouted: “You take that play somewhere else!”

The girl with a brother in Iraq had been friends with many on the cast, but she stopped speaking to them.

“Our student body has very much rejected our play,” Erin said, “and everything we stand for.”

James learned to shrug off the name-calling and glares. He tried instead to explain to people why he felt so strongly about the play.

“Getting away from the body counts and images is OK,” he said. “You need to escape and watch ‘American Idol’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ But there are times when the real facts must be faced. We’ve got something huge going on.”

Supt. Gary Richards issued a statement calling the script’s language “graphic and violent,” and said allowing students to act as soldiers “turns powerful material into a dramatic format that borders on being sensational and inappropriate.”

Outraged by the censorship, professional theater directors contacted Dickinson. A Connecticut playhouse invited the students to perform there, and two New York venues asked to feature “Voices in Conflict” off-Broadway in June.

A 1st Amendment attorney who had heard about the play contacted Dickinson. He offered to represent her pro bono. With the lawyer’s backing, the class made a decision that the school administration did not fight.

The students were headed to New York.



GRADUATION and the play were a month away. Erin stayed busy preparing for the ceremony, taking final exams and practicing her lines at night. The days grew more hectic. For most of the students, their biggest audiences had been made up of friends and family. Now it would be theater-lovers and reporters. In June, they had three hourlong performances scheduled in Connecticut and three in New York.

Dickinson coached the actors late into the night. They rewrote the script at the last minute, incorporating letters from soldiers and the students’ experiences after the principal banned the play.

The teacher smiled and teased the students during rehearsal, but she had her own worries - the school had placed her under administrative review. Her attorney, Martin Garbus, said Dickinson had been accused of trying to present a biased play that violated copyrights, mobilizing the students to follow her political agenda and lying about what was in the script.

It would be weeks before the administration concluded Dickinson’s job was safe. Until then, she tried not to let it discourage her.

“This is high school with kids who could, at any minute, enlist,” she said. “We have recruiters in the cafeteria all the time. They wanted to learn about the war. Can’t they learn about it for God’s sake?”



IN 20 minutes, the final show in New York would begin. Inside the Public Theater, the cast gathered in a basement dressing room, littered with their McDonald’s bags and Starbucks cups. It was the same building where “Hair,” a play about hippies opposed to the Vietnam War, had premiered in 1967. Forty years later, the drama students from Wilton High were about to have their most important night in the spotlight.

“I’m kind of freaking out a little bit,” said James, pacing in a corner.

In less than two hours he would meet Anderson, the war veteran whose character he was playing. The students and their families had paid to fly Anderson from his home in Virginia to see the show.

Erin applied foundation around her eyes in front of a mirror. She would graduate tomorrow, but she was more anxious about tonight. Erin could not believe she was going to act in front of such an imposing audience - most notably Anderson, and another character in the play, National Guard Lt. Paul Rieckhoff.

Dickinson whisked through the dressing room: “Kids, listen up, put on your strongest voices!”

“I’m nervous!” a student yelled.

“Bonnie, do we have a full house?”

“Oh yes,” she said. “There’s many people out there lined up. It’s totally booked.”

As the lights dimmed, more than 225 people waited for the show to begin.

The 16 teenagers stood onstage, forming two parallel lines. They wore jeans, cargo pants, T-shirts, canvas sneakers, black flats. One wore a camouflage bandana. Together they said: “We choose to hear the voices of those who serve.”

A harmonica played. Erin stepped to the front of the stage as the rest of the cast sat in chairs behind her. She recited a monologue from Army Reserve Sgt. Lisa Haynes: “So I go to Iraq. And on the road we saw a lot of Iraqi kids, poor kids, hungry, pretty kids. Malnourished with big stomachs. We were told not to give them anything. They would come up to your vehicles hungry and we weren’t allowed to give them anything.”

Then it was James’ turn. He rubbed his hands together and brushed his fingers through his hair: “The doctors say I have post-traumatic stress disorder…. My symptoms didn’t show up right away. Then everything just caught up to me and hit me all at once.”

“I have nightmares,” he continued. “Everybody says I didn’t do anything I should be ashamed of. So why can’t I sleep?”

As the play went on, the characters talked of killing insurgents and killing innocent people, missing their families and missing Iraq, loving their country and feeling anger toward it. One spoke of praying for the opportunity to fight. After serving, he talked of witnessing life get better for the Iraqi people. Some of the words came from soldiers who had been killed in the war. The actors recited their names, ages and dates of death.

“Voices in Conflict” ended with a standing ovation. Some audience members wiped tears from their eyes.

Anderson walked up to James and gave him a hug.

In a discussion afterward, Anderson rose from the audience: “The Navy’s core values are honor, courage and commitment,” he told the class, “and I can say beyond any doubt that you all exemplified all of them.”

Anderson asked the students how this experience had changed them.

Erin answered on behalf of her classmates: “We just have come away with the utmost respect for everything that you have done for our country,” she said. “Thank you.”

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times |

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Goosebump Scene from 'The American President'

This scene always gives me chills. Tha Aaron Sorkin can write, I'll tellya.

Would that more politicians could follow the dictates of their conscience and do what's right for the country because it makes sense, not just to pay lip service to their constituents and ride the surf of public opinion polls....

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Michael Ware on the 'Hidden Iraq War'

This guy knows from firsthand experience the carnage and death that has been wrought in Iraq; Investigative journalist Michael Ware talks about the 'sectarian bloodletting' that has engulfed Bhagdad since the occupation commenced. I have seen him on CNN before a few times, and I remember him distinctly saying once that a US pullout would lead to a "Massive Slaughter" of not only the Sunni (Al-Qaeda allied) minority, but the Kurds as well. The problem seems to be that US policy in the region has been set up to favor the majority Shia, who are closely allied with Iran and carrying out a 'Proxy war' on both Sunni groups and US forces. What a mess. Listen & consider, then please write to your congressman or senator and tell them to get to solving the problem before more US Troops have to die...

Kucinich joins Congressional Black Caucus/Fox debate

Re-posted from www.kucinich.us

Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich said Sunday he would definitely participate in a September debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and scheduled to be broadcast on the Fox Television Network. Kucinich said for Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama to skip the debate simply because it was to be broadcast on Fox was a snub of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“This is particularly troublesome because the concerns of African Americans should take precedent over what network is broadcasting the debate,” Kucinich said, “There are matters relating to employment, health care, education, jobs, rebuilding our cities, environment and civil rights that all presidential candidates have an obligation to address and debate. Those candidates planning to skip this debate clearly are trying to avoid a forum where there will be hard-hitting questions from people who may not agree with them. But taking questions from all sides is part of politics, and part of being President. I'm running to be President for all people in this country.”

“America needs a President with the ability and willingness to unite people of diverse political views,” Kucinich said, “Let us never forget that the symbol of our country, the American eagle, needs two wings to fly --a left wing and a right wing. I'm prepared to reach out to all Americans. We all deserve to be heard. and we all deserve to be represented.”

“Certainly many Fox viewers are not part of the traditional Democratic base,” Kucinich said, “but they have a right to hear from the Democratic candidates and we as candidates have an obligation to reach out to them. Families who view Fox News have lost loved ones in Iraq, lost their jobs to NAFTA, and lost their homes to medical bills, just as have the viewers of other networks.”

Kucinich said the refusal of the three senators to participate in the debate raises questions about whether or not they really have the ability to be President.

“First Sens. Clinton and Edwards were tricked by George Bush into voting for the war. Then they and Sen. Obama voted most of the time to support funding the war. All three have said all options are on the table with Iran, meaning they are ready to go to war against Iran. This raises questions about their judgment, about who they are they, who they represent? African-Americans -- and Fox viewers -- have a right to know.”

“I know some people object to Fox News,” Kucinich said, “and they take issue with Fox coverage, and the way Fox covers the news. I've taken issue with Fox on many occasions, but I don't hesitate to be questioned by Fox or any of its affiliates. I've also taken issue with the New York Times -- which, after all, was largely responsible for selling the Bush war plans to the American people. But this will be a live debate. The issue here is not what questions Fox broadcasters will ask, but how the candidates for President will answer them. The issue is not what the commentators will say after the debate is over, but what we as candidates say during the debate.”

“The questions asked by the Congressional Black Caucus will be just as important, and our answers just as telling, on Fox as on any other network,” Kucinich said.

The Ohio congressman, who is an avid baseball fan, also noted that “Fox broadcasts the World Series, too, but is it any less of a World Series because it's on Fox? Ask the fans in St. Louis, or Anaheim, or Boston.”

“Lets face it, the race for the presidency is the World Series of politics, and here you have three candidates for President who are admitting that not only can they not hit right-handed pitching, they're even afraid to step up to the plate and take a swing. Well, I'm one candidate for President who can hit any pitch anyone throws at me. And I'll be taking the field in Detroit this September with the Congressional Black Caucus.”

“When the Cleveland Indians get into the World Series, and Fox broadcasts the games, I assure you I'll be there,” Kucinich said, “and when Fox broadcasts a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, I'll be there, too.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

'He was beautiful inside and out'


Neighbors remember local Blue Angels pilot killed in Saturday's crash
By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Monday, April 23

PITTSFIELD — When Navy fighter pilot Kevin J. Davis learned he had been accepted into the Blue Angels, the elite Navy flight demonstration squadron, he didn't tell anyone.

"He wanted to surprise his parents," said Doris Andersen, a longtime Pittsfield resident and a close friend of Davis' family. "He kept it a secret."

Instead of telling them in person, Davis, a Pittsfield native, somehow managed to get a radio station in South Carolina — where his parents now live — to broadcast the good news.

The 32-year-old Navy lieutenant commander was killed Saturday during a Blue Angels air show when the F/A-18 Hornet jet he piloted crashed in a residential area of Beaufort, S.C.

His parents, John and Ann Davis, were present at the air show.

Davis attended Pittsfield High School until his junior year in 1991, and he graduated in 1992 from Reading Memorial High School after the family moved east when his father, the former superintendent of Pittsfield schools from 1978 to 1985, took the job of school superintendent in Somerville.

Davis graduated with honors in 1996 from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., according to the Blue Angels' Web site. In September that year, he entered officer candidate school at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. He flew missions supporting the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and graduated from Navy Flight Weapons School in 2004. Davis was accepted into the Blue Angels in August of 2005.

Tom McGill, a former Taconic High School English teacher, recalled Lt. Cmdr. Davis as a "sweet, sweet boy" with a great smile and a gift for silly pranks.

"When he was a youngster, he would come in our back door and hide behind our sofa," McGill said with a chuckle. "When we came home, he would jump out from behind the sofa and startle us. We had to start locking the doors after that."

McGill said the Davises were neighbors for 16 years, and he worked with John Davis when the latter was principal of Taconic High School from 1973 to 1978. "They became like family," McGill said in a telephone interview yesterday.

McGill also said he assumed a local memorial service for Davis was in the works, but it was too soon to tell when and where it would be held.

Andersen, who knew Davis as a little boy growing up at 99 Commonwealth Ave., recalled a "thoughtful, beautiful and driven" young man who loved to fly and was the perfect embodiment of the heroic Navy pilot. "He was so proud to be a Blue Angel," she said.

Fighting back tears during a telephone conversation yesterday, Andersen recalled a vision of Davis, two or three years ago, walking on a tarmac in his flight suit after a demonstration exercise in Norfolk, Va.

"In my mind's eye, I can see him," she said. "He was just so tall, blue-eyed and handsome. Kevin was beautiful inside and out."

The last time she spoke to him was on Christmas Day, she said.

Davis would regularly send her pictures of the squadron, Andersen said, and she noted that first-year members of the Blue Angels were required to perform one year of public relations for the team before they flew in any of the precision demonstration exercises.

"That's why when I heard of the crash, I thought it couldn't be Kevin," she said. "I thought he hadn't started flying (for the team) yet."

She said her son Kent, who lives in the Sturbridge area, called her at 7:30 yesterday morning, asking her if she had heard the news.

"As he was asking me this, I looked at the (television) and saw Kevin's face on the screen, and I knew," Andersen said.

Although Andersen hasn't spoken directly to Davises since the crash, she said a spokesman for the family has been calling her with regular updates about the grieving family's welfare.

Andersen said she last spoke to Ann Davis on Thursday, as Davis was walking out the door, on her way to her son's air show.

"I told her to give Kevin a hug for me," Andersen recalled. "And she said, 'I'm sure he's giving you a hug right back.' "

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report