Thursday, December 29, 2005

Check It

Mad props to my man, Curtis "Drop It On The Crumpet" Proctor for the image at right. Made my Christmas.

Damn skippy that will be on my homepage for the forseeable future. Word.

Holiday snaps up in a day or two, I got the BEST hat from Toni's aunt Toni.

UPDATE: Here's my favorite holiday photo. My in-laws own and operate the Smiling Skull Saloon in Athens, OH.

Open 365 days a year, it has been my pleasure to join my father-in-law Chris the past several Christmas mornings to open the place promptly at 10 AM, and drink.

Check out THAT HAT! I went shopping at Walgreen's in that hat last night, the woman at the check-out wouldn't even look at me! Yeeeeeeeeeehah!

Have a happy new year, everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

With our regrets ...

The Hansen brothers, Christmas 1977

Missed another party last night. Damn. I was really hoping to be social this holday season, but there's always something and it's usually no fun. Yesterday it was another migraine. That's two in ten days. I would have seen my GP already ... but I don't currently have one. I last saw the pleasantly vicious Dr. X last January when she did something unspeakably hideous to one of my feet.

So I have no doctor, which is no way for a 37 year-old man to be. But I have some leads and will make calls tomorrow. I cannot bear the day-to-day anxiety that comes with wonering if I may, possibly, out of the blue, wake up the next morning unable to think or see straight.

I actually put the name "Janus" on my list when we were coming up with boys' names. There were a number of month-inspired names, I thought they sounded strong. "Joy of life" I think came to mind when naming Zelda, after losing Calvin. And then, when we learned we would be having a boy, all I could think was, "Be strong. Boys are weak. Be strong."

Janus, looking before and after. Often I am overwhelmed at this time of year with all the other year-ends I have had to contend with. Maybe because of the time off, I finally have a moment to rest, and then my brain goes haywire with all the thoughts rushing to catch hold of my attention.

We had a great New Year's party to ring in 2000. The 20th Century Revival Party: we asked friends to decorate each room in our house, each room was a different decade. I think almost everyone we knew at that time came to our New Year's party, the place was packed. What a celebration, like we had really accomplished something, bringing the century to a close - not the millennium, who can handle that, and certainly not the decade. We didn't want that decade to end, so much so we still don't know what to call this one, it sucks so bad.

It's not even five years done, it's almost six years done. Christ, what an ugly time. "Not only can we win the war in Iraq — we are winning the war in Iraq." Yeah? Blow me.

It was last night that got me started on this 1999 thing - again. I think it was La Femme D'Argent from Moon Safari by AIR, something melancholy but forward-looking (like my entire life) and I thought of that year, starting a new company, getting married - and then of that party. And I thought of the week that followed, the first week of the year. My whole family was together, and we went to Florida, to see my grandfather (who died last May) and to watch five year-old Lydia discover Disneyworld.

And while I was thinking all of this, I was also watching Zelda. She's got nothing to do with any of that. Everything awful that's ever happened to me happened after that ball dropped on January 1, 2000. It started curdling almost immediately, only I was still running too fast to see it.

The entire Hansen family will be together this New Year's, too. And I am really looking forward to that.

I am grateful for everything (well, almost everything) that has happened to us since Calvin died. I take nothing for granted, it's all a bonus.

Between now and New Year's, I don't know how much time I will have to blog or keep tabs on my friends here. I have met so many of you who are going through the worst of it, or just emerging from it, and I am glad I met you all this year, and I want you to be strong, and safe, and know Toni and I are thinking about you.

We wish you a very happy and hopeful 2006. Peace.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Rebroadcast Announced

I HATE THIS will be re-aired on Monday, January 2, 2006 on "Around Noon" on WCPN 90.3 FM ideastream.

That's for all those luddites out there with dial-up connections or something who can't listen to the show online right now.

There's also talk about a prime-time rebroadcast on March 20th, Calvin's birthday, which I thought was a powerfully sweet suggestion, whether or not it actually happens.

Make that Calvin's fifth birthday, a fact which makes me want to go into my room and hide.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Jumping on the bandwagon.

For friends and foes of Baby Einstein videos, here they are:

Julie's Baby Einstein rant.

Julie's effing hysterical Baby Smackhead movie.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Happy Holidays

The Thayer-Hansen 2005 Holiday Letter. Joyeux Noel, y'all.

The Revolution Will Be Dramatized!

For fans of Bad Epitaph Theater Co., or for those of you interested in even more radio drama ... I just found a fun radio adaptation of Kirk Wood Bromley's The American Revolution for the New York Historical Society.

From the site:

A New York City-based theater group, known as the Inverse Theater Company (ITC), was commissioned (asked) by the New-York Historical Society, to create this work. They were directed to create an exciting dramatic piece that could tell the story of the American Revolution in about six (6) scenes, and in about 40 minutes or less. ITC had to weave the stories of Helen Korthright, with other factual evidence about the American Revolution, while connecting the War and its importance to events of today.

This (brief) version is part Washington's story, bits of which will be familiar to those who saw the BETC production I directed in Summer 2004, and the other part is the true story of "Mrs. Abraham Brasher (Helen Kortright),” who witnessed events during the American Revolution, and in 1802, wrote the account of her many experiences during that period.

Because these six parts are geared towards kids, it's not as irreverent as the original play - but a lot more hip than your average American Revolution lesson.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Coping With Grief at Holidays

Sun Press, 12/8/05

If you have lost a loved one, the holiday season can heighten your sense of loss. Many people withdraw or skip the holiday season altogether, but this makes them feel worse.

Here are some tips for coping with the loss of a loved one during the holidays from Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett, Kent State associate professor of psychology and author of Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman's Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear.

Celebrate the Holidays. Use part of the celebratioin to honor the memory of the loved one. Hang a special ornament on the tree or share a favorite memory about the person.

Help someone else. So many men, women and children are alone or have very little for the holidays. Volunteer to serve dinner at a shelter, participate in an angel tree, or invite your elderly neighbor to dinner.

Remember you are not alone. Being around others who have experienced loss can help, especially when you encourage and share with each other.

Call (330) 672-2266 or visit"

Word To Your Bling-Bling

Working the new play today. Wanted to get down with what the kids are saying these days, yo. Knew I would not be successful trying to find a teen-slang dictionary, but what the hell.

This is not helpful:

The Source for Youth Ministry Teen Lingo Dictionary
all that
of a superior nature; wonderful or attractive.
"That boy is all that." "That song is all that and a bag a chips!"

Thank you for that little piece of info, circa 1991.

This is also not helpful, but at least it's funny:

The Infinite Teen Slang Dictionary
adj. addicted to buttocks.
"Don't be so flip, Billy."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Please Kill Me

I have been getting the worst migraines - or is that redundant? I believe there was period in my life when I did not have a debilitating headache once every one or two weeks, but I can't remember when that was. I do remember doing my performance at LaCentre in Oct. 2004 with a nasty headache - and usually they go away when I am distracted for a prolonged period of time, but this time it did not.

I woke feeling weak yesterday, and by the time I needed to go to work it had progressed to the point of nausea. I called in ill, and got in bed until 9 pm. It was not an easy day of lying in bed, it was a day of convulsions, periods of weeping, and no food or drink. When Toni did bring me water and noodles, I knew it would make me sick - I had a sip of one, a bite of the other, lay down for a moment and the ran straight to the bathroom.

It troubles me that this has been happening more frequently. Is it stress-related? What stress? Lack of sleep? Big deal. Dehydration, our new bed, dust mites, President Bush, what?

Zelda has learned compassion. Previously, it had been a major effort getting her to leave Toni or I alone when are ill or resting. Yesterday she would come in on occasion and check on me, tell me how things are going, talk in hushed tones. Once, when Kelly and Orson had an accident in the hallway (it sounded like he'd been dropped down the stairs - nothing of the sort happened, it was just a number of loud thumps and cries and my ugly imagination) I leapt out of bed and held it together to make sure everything was all right, when Zelda came up, took me by the hand, and led me back to bed with a baby doll to keep me company.

Still very shaky today, but happy to be alive.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Power of Love

I'll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door.

- Frankie Goes to Hollywood

We watched The Matrix last night. Second time for me, first for Toni. After the colossal ripping the sequels received, Toni wasn't expecting anything and as a result, enjoyed it.

It is disturbing to watch the part when Neo and Trinity storm the office building, even now. Ghosts of Columbine.

The 90s were stuffed with meaning, the encroaching "millennium" offered such gargantuan symbolism. How many more movies about the end of the world could there be?

Since January 1, 2000 - or more accurately, since September 11 - all of that seems rather pointless. Thanks to our masters, the world as we know it already has ended. And it doesn't mean anything.

Zelda and I went shopping for Christmas lights tonight. I wouldn't get her any candy, this time. I get her too much candy, anyway. We have a tree, it's nice. Toni took the best picture of Orson, ever, in his bunny hat. I will make sure a print falls into the right hands around Graduation Day 2023.

How old will Zelda be before she yells at me not to sing 80s Christmas pop songs at the top of my voice in the car?

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas.
Couldn't miss this one this year.

Regarding the photo above; I have no idea who these people are. Just did a google search on Christmas and 1984. Thought it could stand in for a nice picture of our three kids.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day

On Dec.1, 1990 (at the dawn of the 30-year Bush-Iraq War) the Red Hot + Bluespecial debuted on ABC. The archive video has all of the bumpers and intros that had been originally created for the show - including Richard Gere's shocking suggestion that people use condoms or not share needles. These bits were cut at the last minute as a result of pressure, and fear, from the network, and replaced with inoffensive tributes to composer Cole Porter.

AIDS is still here. Here's how you can help out locally. Please do.

Your Morning Cocktail

Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter
01. Too Darn Hot Erasure
02. Don't Fence Me In David Byrne
03. From This Moment On Jimmy Somerville
04. So In Love k.d. lang
05. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The Thompson Twins
06. Night And Day U2

Red Hot + Dance
07. Too Funky George Michael

Red Hot + Rio: Pure Listening Pleasure
08. É Preciso Perdoar Cesária Évora + Caetano Veloso + Ryuichi Sakamoto
09. The Boy From Ipanema Crystal Waters
10. Corcovado Everything But The Girl
11. Water To Drink Incognito With Omar & Anna Caram
12. Waters Of March Marisa Monte & David Byrne
13. Non-Fiction Burning PM Dawn With Flora Purim &Airto
14. One Note Samba/Surfboard Stereo Lab & Herbie Mann

Red Hot + Rhapsody: The Gershwin Groove
15. A Foggy Day (In London Town) David Bowie and Angelo Badalamenti
16. Summertime Morcheeba & Hubert Laws
17. But Not For Me Natalie Merchant
18. Someone To Watch Over Me Sinéad O'Connor

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thank you for listening.

A sample of listener feedback from Friday's broadcast.

"Thanks to David for sharing his story, thanks for the many local talents whose voices brought it to life, and thanks to WCPN for bringing it to us."

"I'm just blown away. It's like the most powerful piece of radio I've heard in a long time. I'm just stunned."

"It really captured me - so brutally honest, so heartbreaking, so well done. I was in tears by the end, and I certainly will not forget it."

"This topic is often lost in the abortion rights cacaphony. It is refreshing to hear the first-hand perspective instead of the polished up political rhetoric."

"Broadcasting it the day after Thanksgiving was significant; it made me think about the births of my own children and how easy it is to take things for granted."

"An encore presentation, please, and when?"

If you, also, want a rebroadcast of I HATE THIS, please be sure to contact WCPN directly. That's what they want to hear.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

One for the Fathers

Dear Father of an Unborn Child,

I am so sorry for your loss. Or is it a loss? I don't know you, I don't know when your child died ­ when it was at 8 weeks, sixteen weeks, full-term? Maybe the length of the pregnancy was irrelevant, you wanted that child and he or she was real to you and that's all that mattered. I understand that. Again, I'm sorry.

Unless you feel you weren't really attached to this baby. It was only an embryo or a fetus. It wasn't inside you, after all. And maybe you had doubts from the beginning whether this child was viable. It's good sometimes not to get your hopes up.

Or maybe you are really feeling all the things I wrote in the first paragraph and are telling yourself the things in the second paragraph. Can't say.

It is all right for the father to grieve. It is all right for the father to be disappointed. This can take time.

There are a number of phases we go through when learning to cope with neonatal death. Sometimes knowing what they are can make them less scary ­ or upsetting, if you are not the kind of guy who gets scared.

1. Shock and numbness: Can't concentrate, can't make decisions, time gets confused. (First 2 weeks)

2. Yearning and searching: Blame, anger, guilt, bitterness, obsession for your wife to be pregnant again ­ and dreams. (2nd week through 4th month)

3. Disorganization and despair: Depressed, withdrawn, or forgetful. (5th ­ 9th month)

4. Reorganization: Sense of release, the ability to laugh, and new energy. (18 to 24 months)

Whatever you are feeling inside, for real, find it, and be honest with yourself ­ and for God's sake, be honest with your spouse.

And that's the part I strongly urge you to keep in mind at all times; what you and your partner are going through ­ when you are in synch, and especially when you are not. Maybe you yourself are bearing up well, you feel good, it's all behind you, it's time to "move on" - and best of all, your wife hasn't said a word about the baby in weeks.

My friend, you could be in for the Big Hurt.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you really knew how she is feeling? When was the last time you asked her - directly, specifically - and said how sorry you are you lost the baby, or called the baby by name (if he or she has a name) or got her flowers or did any of those things you really know you are supposed to do, but are too afraid to (yes, afraid) because you assume she's over it, or because you don't want to upset her, or because maybe, just maybe, you don't want to upset yourself.

Maybe the two of you have all of this figured out, and you don't need any of this advice. If so, I am happy for you. Because in spite of this horrible, useless thing that happened to you, and to your child, you know you have each other, and that means there will be a tomorrow, and one day it won't hurt as much.

But why take a chance? Ask her again today.

Happy Thanksgiving,

David H.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Who's Who In The Company

Almost everyone performing in the radio drama I Hate This is either currently in a production, or working on one. If you get the opportunity, please go see their work. They are all extremely talented people, and I cannot thank any of them enough for their contribution to this project.

Dorothy and Reuben Silver star in G.B. Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession - directed by Scott Plate - at Beck Center, opening March 31, 2006.

Scott is also a company member of A Christmas Carol at Great Lakes Theater Festival, opening Friday.

Nina Domingue is the Ghost and Thomas Weaver is Mr. Bob Cratchit in Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge by Christopher Durang, opening tonight at Cleveland Public Theatre.

Brian Pedaci was recently appointed President of the Board and Managing Director of Charenton Theater Company. Charenton's latest production is A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, now playing at a venue near you.

Alison Garrigan and Nick Koesters are currently appearing in the world premiere of Eric Coble's T.I.D.Y. at Beck Center.

Betsy Hogg is hard at work on college applications.

Dennis Yurich and Vanity Crash released their eponymous debut recording on October 8. Buy it.

Sadie Grossman performs in Stephen Belber's The Death of Frank presented by The Night Kitchen this February.

Dee Perry can be heard weekdays on Around Noon on WCPN 90.3 FM.

Magdalyn Donnelly will appear in A View From the Bidge by Arthur Miller for Ensemble Theatre in January, 2006 and The Diary of Anne Frank at Beck Center, opening February 3.

And me? I will appear in Sarah Morton's new play, Night Bloomers directed by Eric Schmiedl for Dobama Theatre, opening May 12, 2006.
Screening for Abnormal Embryos Offers Couples Hope After Heartbreak - NY Times, 11/22/05

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't You (Forget About Me)

I graduated from Bay High in 1986. Our theater clique was called (or rather, we called ourselves) the Brat Pack. Of course.

This evening Erin held a (partial) Brat Pack reunion at her home. She bought a house about two blocks from where we live almost a year ago. The fact that this is the first time we have been there for a social event is no fault of hers and everything to do with the directions our lives run.

I was nervous, to be honest. Any ties to my past make me nervous. Attending our ten year high school renuin (which was, uh, almost ten years ago) was difficult, I was at a nadir in a number of ways. Recently divorced, kind of unhealthy. It gave me strength to be walking in with some of the same old friends.

(Lynn is closest to me in this photo - she hasn't aged a fricking day, has she?)

I don't think I'd seen Sharon in all that time, and I know I hadn't seen her husband Ray (or Raymond - I called him Ray) in longer than that. He and I played bass drum in marching band. That was a real long time ago. They came in from Beaumont, Texas for Thanksgiving - we usually spend Thanksgiving in Athens, and so our paths had not crossed since then. They have two great kids. It was delightful, as always, to see Lynn. She is a vet in Aurora. We don't see her enough.

It was a nice, if all-too-brief reunion. Sorry we didn't hear from the guys.

I was always the one with the Big 80s obsession. I could tell you exactly what year which single was released, and I was a big fan of the old videos. Not so much anymore. I've even found that the memory for pointless 80s trivia has begun to crumble - and no, I do not watch the I (heart) the 80s shows on VH1 to bone up.

Sometimes I think I fell in love with Toni the day my future ex-wife and I spent with Toni and her eventual-non-boyfriend in Central Park when I almost but not quite kicked her ass in Trivial Pursuit: 80s Edition.

Which is to say, I lost. But not by much. And she's never let me forget it.

When I think of my high school experience, I am usually only remembering Senior year, when we were the Brat Pack. Before that, I don't know what happened before that. I'm not even sure sometimes why that last year in high school has any resonance with me, I was actually hideously depressed and neurotic. I have terrible memories of lashing out at my friends in some cringe-inducing ways. It may have been simply that I'd never been laid.

In fact, I think that's exactly what the problem was. When that was taken care of, I mellowed out considerably.

For about five minutes. (drum fill)

The really painful shit comes bubbling up to the surface just before any of these gatherings - and just as quickly dissipate in the presence of the actual people. Our entire lives have happened since then, who is thinking of their adolescence in those situations? I mean, we're all almost forty, right?

God, am I sorry I said that.

I was asking a lot of questions about everyone else. I was fascinated to find out what Raymond's brothers have been up to - and how he and Sharon fared in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. They were lucky, it caused some damaged, didn't sound unbearable for them.

Zelda started blowing a fuse around 8:30 (that's normal) but before we went Sharon cornered me and started asking about the radio show. "Tell me about it," she said, and I was like, "Uh, do you know what the original show is about?" And she said she did, like it was no big deal, and so I got to talk to her about it.

That was really, really great.

Lynn has also promised to try to catch it, though she'll be working Friday. It's starting to dawn on me the crush of people who are going to be listening in on Friday, people who either couldn't make the show ... or just couldn't face it in person. Listening in, in the privacy of your own home, that's got to be easier for some folks, right?

Man. Look at that picture up there. The hair was pretty conservative - and weren't we all. I am well off without it.

The hair, I mean.

And I couldn't resist creating another retro-playlist.

When We Were Suave: 1985-1987

01. Consider Me Gone Sting Dream of the Blue Turtles
02. Miami Vice Theme Jan Hammer Miami Vice
03. Conga Miami Sound Machine Primitive Love
04. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) Kate Bush Hounds of Love
05. Perfect Kiss New Order Low Life
06. Forever Live and Die Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Pacific Age
07. Hang On To Your Love Sade Diamond Life
08. Left of Center Suzanne Vega Pretty In Pink
09. Something About You Level 42 World Machine
10. The Edge Of Heaven Wham! Music from the Edge of Heaven
11. Anotherloverholenyohead Prince Parade
12. Paranomia The Art of Noise In Visible Silence
13. Take My Breath Away Berlin Count Three & Pray
14. I Can't Wait Nu Shooz Poolside
15. The Captain Of Her Heart Double DOU3LE
16. Breakout Swing Out Sister It's Better to Travel
17. Fortress Around Your Heart Sting Dream of the Blue Turtles

Can I have a big shout out for my man Dennis Yurich?

Thanks to those who caught the interview - I got an email from Brian P. during the show saying, "'Am I missing someone'??? HELLO?" Luckily, the piece from the show they played began with Brian's voice - DeOreo and I cracked up in the studio. "Yep," he said, "always forget the announcer."

One person I wanted to mention, but couldn't slip in (you'll notice they had three guests today, and not the usual two) was music designer Dennis Y. I don't feel that man gets enough credit. It has not been lost on me that the Plain Dealer has always been dismissive of his involvement in local productions, when not being downright insulting.

Dennis composed and performed songs for my production of The Vampyres and Lysistrata as well as creating original music for Bad Epitaph shows Sin and Cloud 9 as well as, of course, I Hate This. He has also composed music for shows at Dobama and Beck Center, and was the musical director - and lead guitarist - for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at CPT.

Back in 1999, when director Roger Truesdell INSISTED we have an original score for Sin, I thought, that's ridiculous, nobody has original music, everyone in Cleveland lifts music from existing sources. And back then, that was pretty much accurate. The extent to which his contribution to Cleveland theater has gone unrecognized is depressing.

The twin themes of I Hate This - the haunting electronic voice and the bright, guitar theme - have become very close to my heart. And it took me a few listens before I realized they were the same melody.

DeOreo asked me what the origin of the electronic voice was and I said, I wasn't sure, what did he think, and he said he thought it was the sound of an ultrasound.

Of course, he's exactly right, only no one's every said that out loud to me before. It's Calvin's voice. I almost lost it right there in the editing studio.

It goes without saying I am really happy Dennis let us use his music for the show. I have a page on the I Hate This site on the inspirations for the music.

What time is that show on?

Just a reminder, I'll be on Around Noon today, to promote the Friday special. Jim Goldurs is sitting in for Dee today, which will be interesting. Dee's already interviewed me about the show - and I have no idea the kinds of questions a guy might ask.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


"Matthew ten, verse twenty-nine," Vincenzo Giuliani said quietly. "'Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.'"

"But the sparrow still falls," Felipe said.

Spending part of the day listening to the latest cut on my iPod, looking for things to adjust, places to "add a little air," things to irritate Al with on Monday. Monday we wrap this sucker up.

I was driving home from work yesterday with a splitting headache. I was listening to the end. And I started crying. I surprised myself. I have told this story countless times, in just this way. I never get lost in it when telling it, I'm just not that kind of actor. But hearing it ... God. We still miss that boy so much.

Right now we're in Athens, visiting Toni's family. I was walking Orson around, trying to get him to go to sleep, when I spotted a copy of The Sparrow on the shelf in Connie's office. The paperback edition has a number of questions in the back for "readers' groups" - the kind of questions we ask as actor-teachers for Great Lakes. Why do characters make certain choices, what were alternative outcomes, what would you do in a similar circumstance.

It has been a while since I have read the book, but of course, this question caught my eye; "The Sparrow" tells a story by interweaving two time periods -

Well, okay, I didn't need to get any further than that. Did I know I got the structure for my play from this book? Did I know that once, and then forget? It doesn't bother me to think I did, I feel that falls more under the heading of "inspiration" than that of "plagiarism." But after so much reflection, it stuns me to think I could have un-remembered it. Or that I may never have even thought of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


We're almost through. Today Brian cut the credits, and Dee did the intro, outro, and :20 and :40 minute IDs. Producer Mark Rosenberger gave his stamp of approval by conference call - I was floored by his comments. He said it was everything they could ask for - he laughed, he teared up, he got really angry at that nurse.

There were several simple-to-fix technical notes, and he told me that he just didn't understand where we are in "First Birthday" or even what we are doing. So I re-wrote and re-recorded it right then and there. Short of having a voice-over stating "This is where we are and what we're doing" I think I have made it pretty clear. And it was a scene I was relieved to re-take anyway, I wasn't entirely happy with what we had.

Our friend Patty asked me tonight if I was nervous. And you know, I am nervous. Just the other night, while Toni was listening to the rough cut, I sat and took in the last five scenes. I sat, put my head in my hands - and got very, very dizzy. It's so fast! Everything just spills out so fast!

And it wasn't until tonight I figured out why. I've never heard my own show. When I perform it, it's like telling an old story, you never really hear yourself doing it, you are it.

I think, maybe, a little more than a thousand people have seen this show. In two and a half years, that's it. A grand. One grand. Around Noon has a daily listenership of around 40,000 - or so they tell me. I don't know how that translates to a holiday - or whether anyone will stick around for radio drama (some "personal despise" it) but at the very least, at one go we'll be sharing Calvin's story with an exponentially larger number of people.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ira Doesn't Like Me

Speaking of influences, I'm a big fan of This American Life. The intimacy it engenders, in spite of its archness, is difficult to resist, and I have long felt an attachment to many of the regulars.

Sarah Vowell is a combination of several women I dated at school. David Rakoff lives my other life for me: an openly-gay, closeted-Canadian living in Manhattan. I once was hot for Sandra Tsing Loh until she became this spastic Erma Bombeck-wannabe for Marketplace. And then there's David Sedaris. My David Sedaris story is for some other time.

And those are just the contributors (many of whom have been busy with better paying gigs lately as a result) not the reporters or editors, like Alix Spiegel or Julie Snyder, Both of whom I adore, and each of whom has a voice for print.

In the past few years - well, since 9/11, really - the show has gone from quirky to important, I think. Stories about the extraordinary in the ordinary (there's that line again) are vital to being a compassionate person. Opening your mind to people who aren't like yourself, discovering your own prejudices. But they've been doing actual journalism these days, in New Orleans and Mississippi, Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere.

And through it all there's been Ira. Ira doesn't know me, and doesn't like me. That's okay, I didn't like him at first, either. His smug vows (in early promos) that listeners would sit in their cars and wait until a story was over when hearing his show - that really pissed me off. Only it was true.

Yeah, we've tried to get on the show. Dave D. sent the Spencer Tunick piece around trying to get someone to replay a part of it. TAL wasn't interested - Tunick was old news. And they're right. The Tunick piece was eventually repackaged, or rather, butchered, into a much shorter version played on the horrid Weekend America hosted by the intolerable Barbara Bogaev, Bill Radke, and guest-hosted on that particular afternoon by the aforementioned Ms. Loh, whose commentary following our package resulted in my losing my last shred of respect for her.

I actually sent the T-shirt essay to TAL a few years back - with a cassette of my reading it. Didn't even receive a reply. I am pathetic.

And to top it off, this week I opened my copy of Time Out Chicago (someday ask me why I have a subscription to Time Out Chicago) when I find an article on the 10th Anniversary of This American Life. In it I learn, among other interesting facts, that Mr. Glass "personally despises" radio drama.


He put that in specifically because he knew I have a radio drama coming out next week, that he knew I'd read this article, and because he doesn't like me.

But I will keep listening. I can't help myself. He's such a cute little guy.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ode to Harvey

I can't remember when I was first made familiar with the work of Harvey Pekar. It was definitely when I was at school - I was big into comic books when I was an adolescent, less so when I was in my late high school years. I think I was still getting X-Men by habit when I was sixteen, but stopped around then.

There was a brief era in the late 80s/early 90s (well-documented in Reinventing Comics) where so-called "comix" were finally getting respect and attention. Or so they said. There were always well-written comics out there with an adult audience in mind, only they started getting reviewed in the NY Times. Harvey had been publishing American Splendor since 1976.

Again, can't remember who told me, "hey, you should read this." I'm fairly certain I was already collecting his work before I even knew he was making guest shots on Letterman. He can be a bad influence on a young writer. Harvey's mantra is that extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. And since most of his work is autobiographical, countless writers and artists have used him as a template for their own existential-funny-angst prose. It's an excuse to write about the crap you just took. For a very successful example, see Derf's The City.

One of his techniques is to narrate a story by simply telling it as monologue, with a page or more of images of himself, directly addressing the reader - which I felt was translated pretty well into the film version of American Splendor(see right: click on to enlarge.) In spite of any other solo performance I have ever seen - and I have seen a lot - I think this style, more than any other, had a great impression on my comic art, and on the route I chose to take with I Hate This. I don't know that I would have had the stones to just stand there and flatly state what was going on, and my reaction to it, and feel it was worth saying. I "perform" things a little, but feel much more comfortable just standing there, telling.

Thanks, Harvey.

Friday, November 11, 2005

More Chocolate

Austin is a member of one of Toni's writers' groups. He drew this picture of Zelda at our house last night.