Thursday, June 28, 2007

Macbeth Without Words Review for

My review of the play Macbeth Without Words is now up on

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Macbeth Without Words delivers exactly what it promises: a performance of William Shakespeare's tragedy about the overly ambitious usurping Scottish king who gets his comeuppance, with nary... [keep reading]

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Siskel and Ebert Discuss John Carpenter's Halloween

Siskel and Ebert discussing how Halloween separates itself as a cut above the rest of typical misogynistic slasher trash.

Still wasting a lot of time at work,

James "Making Out With YouTube" Comtois

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"Stonewalling of the worst kind."

From today's New York Times:

White House Is Subpoenaed on Wiretapping


Published: June 28, 2007

WASHINGTON, June 27 — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday issued subpoenas to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and the Justice Department after what the panel’s chairman called “stonewalling of the worst kind” of efforts to investigate the National Security Agency’s policy of wiretapping without warrants.

The move put Senate Democrats squarely on a course they had until now avoided, setting the stage for a showdown with the Bush administration over one of the most contentious issues arising from the White House’s campaign against terrorism.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said the subpoenas seek documents that could shed light on the administration’s legal justification for the wiretapping and on disputes within the government over its legality.

In addition, the panel is seeking materials on related issues, including the relationship between the Bush administration and several unidentified telecommunications companies that aided the N.S.A. eavesdropping program.

The panel's action was the most aggressive move yet by lawmakers to investigate the wiretapping program since the Democrats gained control of Congress this year.

Mr. Leahy said Wednesday at a news conference that the committee had issued the subpoenas because the administration had followed a “consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection” in dealing with Congressional efforts to scrutinize the program.

"It’s unacceptable," Mr. Leahy said. "It is stonewalling of the worst kind."

The White House, the vice president's office and the Justice Department declined Wednesday to say how they would respond to the subpoenas.

"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," said Tony Fratto, White House deputy press secretary.

"It's unfortunate that Congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation," Mr. Fratto added.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney said his office would respond later, while a Justice Department spokesman said, "The department will continue to work closely with the Congress as they exercise their oversight functions, and we will review this matter in the spirit of that longstanding relationship."

Under the domestic eavesdropping program, the N.S.A. did not obtain warrants before listening in on phone calls and reading e-mail messages to and from Americans and others in the United States who the agency believes may be linked to Al Qaeda. Only international communications — those into and out of the country — were monitored, according to administration officials.

The Senate panel's action comes after dramatic testimony last month by James B. Comey, former deputy attorney general, who described a March 2004 confrontation at the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, then attorney general, between Justice Department officials and White House aides over the legality of the wiretapping program.

Before Mr. Comey's testimony, the White House had largely been able to fend off aggressive oversight of the N.S.A. wiretapping since it was first disclosed in December 2005. The Republican-controlled Congress held hearings last year, and even considered legislative proposals to curb the scope of the eavesdropping. But Mr. Cheney repeatedly pressured Republican Congressional leaders to pull back.

When the Democrats won the 2006 midterm elections, many observers predicted that the N.S.A. program — which a federal judge declared unconstitutional — would be one of the first Bush administration operations to undergo new scrutiny. But in January, the administration announced that it was placing the program under the legal framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a move it had previously refused to consider.

The Democrats have largely focused on objections to the Iraq war in their first months in power, and have appeared reluctant to take aggressive steps to challenge policies on harsh interrogation practices, secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons and domestic wiretapping for fear of being labeled soft on terrorism.

For instance, at a confirmation hearing on June 19 for John A. Rizzo as general counsel of the C.I.A., no member of the Senate Intelligence Committee directly challenged the agency’s secret detention or harsh interrogation practices.

Mr. Rizzo successfully dodged tougher questions by saying he preferred to answer them in closed session. The Senate Intelligence Committee has conducted closed-door oversight of the wiretapping, but it has not been as aggressive as the Judiciary Committee in publicly challenging the administration over it.

But Mr. Comey's testimony has given Democrats an opening to argue that they are focusing on the legal issues of the program, rather than on the merits of monitoring the phone calls of terrorist suspects.

"The Comey testimony moved this front and center," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is a member of the Judiciary Committee. "Alarm bells went off. His testimony made it clear that there had been an effort to circumvent the law."

The Senate panel has been asking the administration for documents related to the program since Mr. Comey testified. But the White House had not responded to a letter from Mr. Leahy and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the panel. As a result, the panel voted 13 to 3 last Thursday to authorize Mr. Leahy to issue the subpoenas, with three Republicans voting in favor of issuing them. Separately, the House Judiciary Committee has also threatened to issue subpoenas for the same documents.

The wiretapping is just one of several legal issues on which Congress and the administration are squaring off. For example, the White House is under pressure to respond to subpoenas issued two weeks ago by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for witnesses and documents related to the dismissal of federal prosecutors. Thursday is the deadline for the White House to turn over documents linked to Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and Sara M. Taylor, the former White House political director.

If the White House fails to produce the material, the House and Senate could begin a process leading to contempt resolutions to force compliance. Meanwhile, Mr. Cheney is in a separate standoff with Congress and the National Archives over his office’s refusal to follow an executive order concerning handling of classified documents.

Mr. Cheney declared that his office did not have to abide by the order that all executive branch offices provide data to the Archives about the amount of material they have classified. His office said that he is not a member of the executive branch, because he is president of the Senate.

David Johnston and Scott Shane contributed reporting.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nosedive's Fundraising Campaign

Starting this year, Nosedive Productions is going to actually do something it has never attempted in its seven years-and-counting of existence:

An honest-to-gosh fundraising and development campaign.

After seven years and 13 productions (not including numerous comedy/variety shows), it's time for us to start.

Nosedive has never produced a show with a budget exceeding $9,000 or received any grant money. Aside from doing two fundraising comedy show/parties a year and requests for small donations, the company has stayed afloat by keeping budgets low and rolling whatever box office we get into the next project.

The reason why this is changing is because our plans for 2008 and beyond are much more ambitious than previous seasons.

First off, we're hoping to take our play, The Adventures of Nervous-Boy, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the summer of 2008, which, by even the most modest estimates, will cost more than the company has spent in two years.

Second, Nosedive is also hoping to stage a new two-act play, called Colorful World, in the late winter/early spring. Also, based on even the most modest estimates, this will not be cheap.

We'll also be staging two shows back-to-back at the end of this year: a new Blood Brothers horror anthology series in October (last year we did an evening of Grand Guignol horror, this year we'll be doing a series of pulp horror, written by Yours Truly, Mr. Mac Rogers and Mr. Qui Nguyen) as well as restaging A Very Nosedive Christmas Carol in December.

Our ultimate goal is to raise $45,000 (yes, my mind reels just typing that).

Our immediate goal is to raise at least $10,000 by the end of this year, and we’ll need all the help we can get.

Coming up this summer, we will be throwing some fundraising parties (one in July, one in August) that I'll let you know about very, very soon.

Also, in the meantime, if you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation to the company online, you can do so by going here:

Thank you in advance for whatever help you provide in this endeavor.

Ready to turn Nosedive into, like, a real theatre company,

James "Semi-Real Boy" Comtois

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Monday, June 25, 2007

"What does the MPAA do right?"

The Onion Av Club's film critics Noel Murray and Scott Tobias discuss the pros and cons of the MPAA's Ratings Board.

Check it out here.

Scott Tobias in particular beautifully articulates the problems with the NC-17 Rating and the Rating's System as a whole. For example:

"At bottom, I think the MPAA supports a set of values—permissive about violence, puritanical about sex, viciously anti-gay (ever wonder why a Lifetime-ready movie like Longtime Companion got an R?)—that's completely perverse and in need of radical retooling."

Wondering what the MPAA has gotten right himself,

James "Is My Blog Really PG?" Comtois

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Random YouTube Ten

Since I don't have an iPod, yet am having an incredibly slow work week, here are the random things I've been watching on YouTube this week:

1. The Electric Company - Spidey Up Against the Wall

2. The Best of Zoidberg

3. Boogie Nights - Star Wars Edition

4. Classic Hulk Cartoons #01: The Origin of the Hulk

5. Faith No More - Last Cup Of Sorrow And Easy (Phoenix '97)

6. Kevin Smith Talks About Superman

7. Zombies! How-to special FX on the cheap

8. Louis C.K. and Kids (Shameless)

9. More Louis C.K.

10. GrindHouse - "Death Proof" Chick Habit

Okay, that's it for me. Have a good weekend, folks.

Rotting his brain,

James "Television Junkie" Comtois


Family Friendly

So apparently my blog is rated PG:

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

The rating was apparently determined based on the presence of the following words: "dead" (three times, now obviously four) and "hell" (once, now twice).

Who knew?

I guess I really should swear more here.

H/t Ian W. Hill.

Fun for the whole family,

James "Safe For the Kids" Comtois

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Theatre, Theatre, Everywhere...

I have to say, I love this idea (which was originally presented by Mr. Matthew Freeman).

Ready to start his own franchise,

James "Billions Served" Comtois

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A Meme

ANNOUNCER: You're watching Gasp! A Countdown to the Apocalypse With your Hostess With the Mostest, Laura Axelrod!

LAURA AXELROD: (Under her breath to a PA.) I've always hated that intro. (In her "on camera" voice.) And we're back. We're talking here today with business journalist and playwright James Comtois, who's agreed to talk to us about his passion in life. Thanks for being here, James.

JAMES COMTOIS: Well, thanks for having me, Miss Axelrod.

LAURA: Oh, pish-tosh! Call me Laura.

JAMES: Okay, sure. Laura.

LAURA: Now, let's talk about your area of expertise. What would you call yourself, if you'd have to self-apply a label?

JAMES: I guess I'd call myself a writer.

LAURA: How did you become interested in it?

JAMES: I mean, I guess I've been interested in writing since I was a little kid, but I don't remember how or when exactly. I really liked reading and I really liked movies, so I guess it's just natural that I wanted to make them. I became interested in writing plays when I was in college when I realized that writing scripts for comics or movies would never get any further than the printed page.

LAURA: How did you learn how to do it?

JAMES: Wow. I have no idea how to concisely answer this question.

LAURA: (Curt.) We have four minutes before commercial.

JAMES: (Visibly thrown.) Oh, uh, sorry. Um...I guess I'll be incredibly presumptuous and take it as a given that I have indeed learned how to write. I suppose the short answer is I took some summer activity writing courses in grade school, then a handful of English composition classes in high school, and then majored in English literature in college, which requires you (go figure) to read a lot and write a lot. I took one playwriting class at Boston University, which was also a big help. Can I talk about Oxford?

LAURA: Sure!

JAMES: Okay. I spent a semester at Oxford, where I ended up having to write a 7-10 page paper each week and read it aloud to my professor and only two other students.

LAURA: Really?

JAMES: Yup. It really forced me not only to write a lot, but also to make sure my writing was something I felt comfortable reading aloud to three sets of very judgmental ears. Nothing against my fellow students or Oxford professors, of course, but-

LAURA: -I got what you meant.

JAMES: Oh. Okay. Good. Well...after college, Pete and-

LAURA: -this is Pete Boisvert, the other artistic director of your theatre company?

JAMES: Oh. Yes. Right. Pete Boisvert. After college, Pete Boisvert and I formed Nosedive Productions and I've often used the company to figure out, sometimes the hard way, what works and doesn't work when writing for the stage.

LAURA: (To the audience.) Isn't that something?

JAMES: (Not sure if she's making fun of him.) I...yeah.

LAURA: Who has been your biggest influence?

JAMES: Jeez. There are far too many to...(Laura gives her blathering guest a "look.") Well, okay. Obviously Stephen King and Isaac Asimov were the two authors that really made me want to write at a young age and I think a lot of my earliest short stories were basically blatant rip-offs of their work. Eventually, I got really into James Joyce and later Dave Sim. I mean, there's also my parents, Mrs. Robidoux, my junior high English teacher, Mrs. Banks...

LAURA: (Laughing.) This isn't an Oscar acceptance speech, James.

JAMES: (Laughing as well.) Oh, right. Sorry.

LAURA: Well, we're almost out of time. So we have one last question.

JAMES: Okay.

LAURA: What would you teach people about writing?

JAMES: Hmmm...interesting question. I'm not sure you can really teach the stuff. I can guide someone who has some writing ability into making good decisions and force them to persevere, but I don't think you can teach an inherently bad writer to be a good one, if that makes sense. I suppose if I had to teach a writing class I'd just make the students write a certain amount every week ... this is a weekly class, right? ... and have them read what they've written aloud to the class. The classmates would then offer their immediate reactions. Not pointers or ways to improve it, but just honest responses. After a period of time doing that, the competent writers will eventually improve and the incompetent ones will see just how below the mark they are. But I'm really just making that up on the spot. I don't think I'd be a very good teacher.

LAURA: And whadda ya know? We're out of time. Thanks to James Commtoast for-

JAMES: -Comtois.

LAURA: What?

JAMES: Comtois. Pronounced "kum-TWAH." The 's' is silent.

LAURA: Oh. Right. (Pause.) James Kumquat, everybody!

(Applause from the studio audience as James is quickly escorted off the set.)

LAURA: When we come back, we'll get some cooking tips from our hip-hop chef, Joshua James. How's that stew coming along, Joshua?


Meming everyone who reads this,

James "Time For You To Be A Guest" Comtois

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Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Review for

My review of the play Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is now up on

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Through monologues, audio-visual aids, forced sing-a-longs, handouts, and throwing balls of yarn at the audience, Kristina Wong asks in her one-woman-show why so many Asian American women battle with mental illness, depression, and thoughts of suicide. She also asks... [keep reading]

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Brief Conversation Between Mac Rogers and Myself at His & Sandy's Housewarming Barbecue

MAC ROGERS: (After eating an enormous amount of food.) I think I have too much sausage in me.

ME: Too easy.

The life of the party,

James “No Joke Is Too Low” Comtois


Friday, June 15, 2007

Have To Say...

...that I had an absolute blast seeing Living Dead in Denmark a second time around.

I should point out that this is the first time that I've ever seen the same play from the same company twice. It was absolutely worth it.

I was really impressed with how the company refused to overproduce the show (the way shows can often get overproduced to fit new, professional surroundings or the way indie bands overproduce their raw sound when they get signed) and although they made some slight changes here and there, they kept it true to the original idea of last year's production.

Congratulations and thank you to Robert, Qui, Abby and everyone in Vampire Cowboys for putting on such a great show.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Loving ninja zombies,

James “I WANT THAT!!!!” Comtois

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Required Reading: Jay Rasklonikov

Jay Rasklonikov, co-artistic director of the Halcyon Theatre in Chicago, offers some excellent tips to young playwrights on how to improve the state of theatre if it's truly bothering you.

Go read it. Even if you're not the youngest playwright around.

(Tipping the proverbial hat to this lil' cowgirl from Nosedive Central.)

Trying to read and see as many plays as possible,

James "Relax, I'm a Doctor" Comtois

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Required Reading: Tony/Tony

Go read this from Mr. Matthew Freeman. It's a bit about the disparity between watching the Tonys and watching the final episode of The Sopranos, but he's really talking about the difference between methods of distribution.

He writes:

"How does [The Sopranos] reach 11 million people and cultivate a fan base? How does it speak to so many people? How come a kid in the middle of Kentucky and I, living in Brooklyn, can have precisely the same experience with this television program? Technology. Revenue streams.

"Theatre, by its nature, cannot do this. Theatre is performed live. It is performed in certain locations at certain times. Videotape it and e-mail it to a friend and you are not, actually, experiencing it as Theatre. Theatre reaches fewer people. That is not an indication of its quality, it is an indication of its nature."

Exactly so, Matthew. Exactly so.

Go read it. Then go see his show.

In a rush to meet up with the folks at Nosedive Central to see Robert & Qui's show,

James "I'll Come Up With Some Sort Of Clever Nickname Tomorrow" Comtois

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What I'm Seeing Tonight

I saw it last year and it was amazing. Can't wait to see it again.

You really should check it out, too.

For tickets go here.

Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company presents Living Dead in Denmark June 12th through 15th at The Clurman @ Theater Row (410 W. 42nd Street).

Ophelia, Juliet and Lady Macbeth are in Denmark fighting off the living dead. What more do you need to know?

Oh hell's yes,

James "It Is On!" Comtois

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Bury Him Review for

My review of the play Bury Him is now up on

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There's a scene in the Gallery Players' production of Joe Lauinger's play Bury Him where two teenage characters, after realizing that they're long-lost half siblings, start getting... [keep reading]

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The 300th Post

Although I can't say I'm 100% wild about the Sopranos series finale, I also can't say I'm surprised.

What made the show intriguing to watch was also what made it frustrating and insufferable: David Chase and his writers refused to offer the payoffs you extected and defied logical narrative arcs. Sometimes this worked beautifully, like when a major character would be killed off in the first five minutes of an episode. Sometimes it most certainly did not, like...well, the entire fourth season.

Heather Havrilesky from Salon offers a pretty good analysis here. The subhead of the article says, "David Chase gives fans the finale they deserve." She may be incredibly right about that.

And that's my 300th post.

Not talking about the Tonys 'cause I didn't watch them,

James "Sir Postsalot" Comtois

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Wrap-Up

I’ve just handed in my review for the Gallery Players’ production of Bury Him to Martin and am hoping to leave work a little earlier than usual. Considering I have only one assignment left and it’ll be done within the next 15 minutes, I’m thinking that’s a fair trade.

Pete and Patrick gave me, Mac and Qui a PDF of their selected Tales From the Crypt stories for us to peruse and adapt for the stage for October’s Blood Brothers Present: An Evening of Pulp Horror, which I just finished re-reading. Talk about a walk down Memory Lane. I haven’t given any of these stories/comics any thought since I was in high school (jr. high?), but at the time I was into E.C. Comics’ macabre tales, I must’ve read each of them about a dozen times.

I’ve mentally dog-eared the one I think I can sink my proverbial teeth into and have let Pete and Patrick know. I’ve also handed in a bookend piece, called “Metaphor,” which they’ll mull over to see if it’s appropriate for the evening.

What’s on my agenda for this weekend? Well, I’m going to take a few days off from playgoing to just goof off with some of the folks at Nosedive Central. My next scheduled play to see is Ian W. Hill’s Hamlet on Tuesday, so it’s not like I’m taking a real hiatus from playgoing.

And…ah-ha! I’m done my one assignment. I’m off like a prom dress. Have a good weekend, folks.

Mixing his metaphors,

James “Biff” Comtois

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Quote du Jour

"There has been a degree of controversy surrounding the violence in Hostel Part II, with critics in some corners arguing that it amounts to 'torture porn.' While I'll be the first to admit that Hostel Part II isn't a good film, it's a horror movie, so criticizing it for amping up the levels of gore and violence seems pointless. Since Jason started hacking up people while wearing his hockey mask, the genre has been all about blood and guts and inventive eviscerations. Hostel Part II isn't any more shocking than dozens of its predecessors, so it's surprising that it has been singled out. Maybe that's because movie-goers have become so used to neutered PG-13 ghost stories that something with an edge possesses the capability to shock."

[Emphasis mine.]

-James Berardinelli in his (negative) review of Hostel Part II

Watching only Merchant Ivory films,

James "Cecil" Comtois

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

An Interview With The Author

Do you know Matthew Freeman, his work, or why his work is so unique and important? If not, don't worry. He'll fill you in.

In his latest play, An Interview With the Author, Freeman, playing himself, answers questions from a prerecorded interviewer (also himself) and explains to the audience what makes his voice in the theatre scene so unique. See, he's the product of a broken marriage. Many people in the audience have divorced parents, but that doesn't make them unique. After all, if they were so unique, why didn't they write The Death of King Arthur? No further questions, Your Honor.

Later, however, after asking and answering obsequious and fawning questions of the "Seriously, how did you get to be so great?" variety, the interview starts to devolve into an impromptu therapy session (much to the author’s chagrin) as the interviewer asks a few more probing questions about the author’s neuroses and hang-ups (I'll give you a hint: his mother is involved). Then, the author's troubled psyche starts to fracture.

I should note that throughout this, although the interview reveals what a head case the author is, his skills or abilities as a writer are never questioned or challenged. Hey, he may be an emotional cripple, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a genius.

Even if you’ve never seen Freeman’s work before, An Interview With the Author is hysterical. In addition to it being showing an insightful look at what goes on in the mind of a critically-acclaimed Off-off Broadway playwright (being one myself, Freeman admits to a number of faults and foibles I've yet to admit publicly) and delivering exactly what it promises (as well as a bit more), it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve seen this year. Although we're not halfway through the year yet, this is a strong contender for my end-of-year "Top Ten" list.

Metafiction is incredibly tough to do well. When done wrong, it can be insufferable (the phrase "self-absorbed navel-gazing tripe" doesn't do the concept justice). Often, it just provides some tongue-in-cheek amusement without too much "meat." When done right, it can offer a fascinating "inside baseball" tour through the creative process. An Interview definitely falls into the latter category.

Seeming to perfectly blend Steven Soderbergh's commentary track for Schizopolis (where he interviews himself) with Beckett's Krapp’s Last Tape, it never feels forced or excessively pretentious (it is, after all, playing as part of the Brick's Pretentious Festival).

Plus, as I mentioned before, it's hysterical. (It really bears repeating.)

Freeman’s creative heterosexual life partner Kyle Ancowitz directs the piece with grace and impeccable comic timing. David DelGrosso and David Johnston also make amusing cameos in this not-so-aptly labeled one-man show.

Afterwards, Matthew had wondered to the crew who followed him to the bar across the street if his play made people feel uncomfortable. I'm sure it does. Considering I have no problem with work that makes the audience squirm and agree with Conan O'Brien that the best laughs are those pained, wincing laughs, An Interview didn’t discomfort me at all.

It made me laugh. A lot.

An Interview With The Author plays Sunday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m. at the Brick Theatre in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For tickets go here.

Writing plays to hear my own words,

James "Total Narcissist" Comtois

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

At Last, The Meme

Last week, Miss Laura Axelrod tagged me with a meme. Since I have some downtime in writing about plays I’ve seen (having posted my reviews for This is the New American Theatre and Penetrator), let’s see how I bungle this thing.

Here are the rules: Bloggers must post these rules and provide eight random facts about themselves. In the post, the tagged blogger tags eight other bloggers and notify them that they have been tagged.

Some of you may already know these things about me. Some of you may not.

At any rate, here I go:

1. From when I was about 15 until I was about 20, I really wanted to write comic books. Since I couldn’t — and can’t — draw and couldn’t convince any of my artist friends to finish illustrating any of my scripts (to be fair, I never understood how much faster and easier it was to write a 20-page comic than it was to pencil, ink and letter one, so I’d scare my artist friends off by sending them the script to issue #2 when they were halfway through drawing the first page of issue #1, then sending them #3 when they were on page 3 of #1, then #4 when they were on page 5) but since I could convince a number of my actor friends to perform in my plays, I gave up writing comics and started writing plays.

2. I sometimes go days without interacting with people in person or over the phone and am totally fine with it. This may be why I have damn near no interest in dating.

3. For a very brief time, I used to be a reporter for CBS MarketWatch. Aside from having to get up at 5:30 in the morning (reporters had to be at work before the stock market opened), I kind of liked the job.

4. To me, theatre doesn’t have to be political, apolitical, educational, right-wing or left-wing. It’s far more important to me that theatre artists and theatre theorists don’t consider their audience “beneath them.” Once you think you’re smarter than your audience, that’s the beginning of the end.

5. I actually like having a regular day job on top of writing plays and co-managing Nosedive Productions. Maybe this is a trait that I share with American Splendor writer Harvey Pekar: I need the daily routine to keep me anchored and the distraction of work to keep me focused on finishing the plays. Plus, my day job does allow me free Internet access, free long distance phone service and photocopy access.

6. I’ve recently gotten back into listening to what was my absolute favorite band from when I was 12 until I was about 20: Faith No More. (I kind of stopped listening to them the past few years, due in no small part to them breaking up.) I can’t get enough of Billy Gould’s bass combined with Puffy’s drums (or Patton’s simultaneously melodic and ironic singing); it truly gets my heart racing. I’m listening to their cover of the Bee Gees’s “I Started a Joke” on a repeating loop as I write this. I guess I would still call them my absolute favorite band. They’re amazing to hear/see live.

7. My reasons for posting my picture, full name and email address on my blog aren’t based on vanity or any sort of exhibitionism. I do it to mitigate any potential trolling behavior I might be tempted to enact. Also, I don’t want anyone reading Jamespeak to get the idea that I’m being coy, evasive or duplicitous. I want to be fully accountable for what I write on this blog and on other people’s blogs. Having my identity out in the open forces me to stand by what I write (and consider more thoroughly as to what I’ll post).

8. I have yet to be 100% convinced that vampires and demons do not indeed walk the earth. This also goes for the idea of demonic possession.

So…how was that?

Too much information?

Most likely.

Okay, who to tag, who to tag…how about: Pete, Patrick, Cat, Becky, Steph, Zack, Dorothy and Isaac (Wait. Crap. Isaac already did it. Then how about...Claudia?)

Enjoy, guys.

An open book,

James “Tight-Lipped” Comtois


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Those interested in having an intensely visceral theatrical experience would do well to check out the visually and verbally assaultive play Penetrator at the American Place Theatre.

"Intense" really is the operative word with Working Man's Clothes' latest offering. So is "visceral," for that matter. In fact, I may repeat these words a few times throughout this review.

Seriously, folks. This one ain't for the squeamish.

Apparently, Anthony Neilson's play, part of Britain's in-yer-face theatre movement in the early '90s, was originally written as a response to the 1991 Gulf War, but that seems a bit disingenuous. Those going to Penetrator expecting some sort of substantial political or social commentary will be sorely disappointed.

Simply put, the point of this play is to make the audience members squirm and feel their stomach muscles clench up. And under Jeremy O. Torres's direction and with the performances of the three actors, this production succeeds in doing that.

Whoa, boy, does it succeed.

Max, after playing a video game (as part of one of the most innovative pre-shows I've seen) and masturbating to some hardcore pornography, hangs out with his roommate and best bud Alan. The two of them act like typical directionless twentysomethings as they shoot the breeze, drink, quote The Big Lebowski and lament about their love lives (or lack thereof). Their quiet evening at home is interrupted by the surprise visit of Max's childhood friend, Woody, who has recently been discharged from the army.

As Woody gets settled in (since he needs a place to stay), both Max and Alan notice that Woody is, how shall we say, not quite himself. We're never 100% sure what (and neither for that matter are Max or Alan), but Woody while in the army that may have permanently changed him.

Then things get...well, intense.

The script itself is not the tightest or most thought-provoking piece of dramatic writing. There's not a whole lot of "meat" to the story and the ending is about as tacked on and from left field as you can get. However, the purpose of this play isn't to make you wonder about the dramatic arc, the problems with the military or the ties amongst friends. It's designed to make you be unable to breathe.

The three actors, Michael Mason, Cole Wimpee and Jared Culverhouse (all company regulars), do not pull their punches or shy away from being genuinely unlikable. In particular, Wimpee is quite scary as the unpredictably psychotic Woody.

This run of Penetrator is a prime example of an excellent production of a mediocre script. After seeing this and their recent fuckplays, I believe I'm in good hands whenever I see a Working Man's Clothes show.

Penetrator is playing through June 23 at the American Place Theatre on 520 Eighth Avenue. For tickets go here.

Hiding all my knives,

James "Best Bud" Comtois

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This is the New American Theatre Review for

My review of the play This is the New American Theatre is now up on

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In Danny Bowes and Tom X. Chao's meta-comedy, This is the New American Theatre, which is playing at the Brick Theatre's Pretentious Festival, the two megalomaniac writer-performers attempt to create a new... [keep reading]

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Monday, June 04, 2007

So I Pretty Much Spent...

...All damn day at the Brick Theatre yesterday.

IAN W. HILL: Oh, Boo Fucking Hoo, Comtois.

Fair enough, Ian.

Actually, it was quite fun. After showing up for the tech rehearsal for the The Impending Theatrical Blogging Event, I saw Matthew Freeman's excellent and hilarious An Interview with the Author (on which I hope to write more later this week), also part of the Brick's Pretentious Festival.

For now, I'll just urge all you bitches in the Greater New York area to go check it out. Trust me, you'll like it.

Then later that night, we had said Impending Theatrical Blogging Event, which turned out to be a whole lot more fun than I had initially expected. It was definitely a weird happening, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. You can read all about it here.

I just sent in to Martin my review for Tom X. Chao's & Danny Bowes's Pretentious offering, This is the New American Theatre, which took me a bit longer to write than I had initially expected (don't ask me why). This does mean that I'm going to have to put off writing the meme that Laura sent me. (I swear I'm not blowing you off, Laura!) With luck, I'll write and post my review of Working Man's Clothes's latest play, Penetrator, by Tuesday afternoon.

It remains to be seen whether or not Wednesday's post will be the meme or more on An Interview with the Author.

We shall see, folks. We. Shall. See.

A bit "theatred out" for the week,

James "I Mean That In A Good Way" Comtois

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Shows This Weekend

Well, it looks as though my weekend will be fairly full of this silly-ass theatre stuff. In addition to participating in the Brick's Impending Theatrical Blogging Event on Sunday, tonight I'm checking out Working Man's Clothes' latest production, Penetrator. Isaac Byrne, the company's co-founder, artistic director and all-around groovy guy, asked me to review it for Jamespeak. Although I'm looking forward to it and have no intention of "trashing" it, I did ask him if it was okay to write a negative review if I didn't like it. He pointed out that, since their last show was a collection of one-acts called fuckplays and this new show is called Penetrator, his company has no excuse having thin skin. Fair point.

Tomorrow I'm seeing This is The New American Theater as part of the Brick's Pretentious Festival to review for Martin Denton.

On Sunday before said Blogging Event I'll be seeing this piece of loveliness by one of the prettiest theatre bloggers in the New York school of theatrical blogging.

Unrelated to all this theatergoing malarkey, Laura Axelrod has memed me, so with luck, I'll be able to post my eight random tidbits on Monday. Hell, maybe even today, considering the workload at my day job is pretty light today.

Ah, screw it. I'll make this the last post of the week. Sorry, folks, you'll have to get up close and personal with your Comtois on Monday.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Teasing his fans,

James "Boy Toy" Comtois

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