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Fringe Fest Recap: #Mephistophilis, Add Your Comment Below & More

During opening weekend of the 2016 Rochester Fringe Festival, I helped write, produce and act in an evening of all-new, original, one-act plays titled, “We Wrote One Acts About the Internet, and You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next (WOW!).”

As is obvious by the title, all one-acts were written within the theme of the internet (an idea sparked from long-distance texting with friends Leah Stacy and Pete Wayner, who helped write, produce and act). #MEPHISTOPHILIS was the first to be written, earlier this year over a random weekend in February when I was brave enough to finally turn off Netflix. The story follows Mephistophilis (Meph) — a demon borrowed from Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. When the value of souls drastically deflate (due to humanity’s obsession with technology), Meph gets fired from Hell and gets a new job at a women’s shoe store in NYC.

The evening consisted of four plays total:

  • PRODUCT NAME BY PRODUCT COMPANY, written by Kevin Carr
  • #MEPHISTOPHILIS, written by Kevin Carr
  • TERMS & CONDITIONS, concept by Leah Stacy, Kevin Carr
  • ADD YOUR COMMENT BELOW, written by Leah Stacy, Pete Wayner

While it’s always an honor to have your work performed (or, say, even looked at), it’s even better when you produce the performances and both shows sell out. I’d say we were lucky with a good venue. Writers & Books is a small community theater and book store in the heart of Rochester’s arts district. The venue size was perfect — small but not too small, intimate but not awkward.

Due to some last minute snafus we weren’t able to fully stage my longest play, #MEPHISTOPHILIS. This was a bummer. Instead, we opted for a staged reading. This means the cast does their best with my script while sitting in chairs. It’s frightening, really — how transparent a staged reading can be. There is no set design to distract, no lighting, no costume change. (more…)

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This is a Nightmare: Being a ‘Brand New’ Fan in 2016

Rock band Brand New’s infrequent musical output has frustrated fans to no end.

It’s been seven years since Daisy. Ten since Devil and God.

(Let that sink in).

Like an overlapping harmony, longtime Brand New fans lovingly obsess and revoltingly resent the Long Island quartet. I do too. There’s the waiting for new material, there are the mixed messages via merchandise, there is the complete and utter lack of communication (except for, of course, when they have something repurposed to sell).

It’s not uncommon for bands to keep private before releasing new music. The problem is that Brand New dangles the idea of new music in front their fans, but then never delivers. Playing coy for the sake of building interest is one thing. Lying to fans is another thing altogether.

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Brand New is basically the deadbeat dad who missed our birthday party. Seven years in a row.

We forgive them because we love them and we can’t help it.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to forget— with our insatiable Brand New appetites — that there actually is new Brand New music out there. No full album but singles, live tracks, mastered and reworked demos have all surfaced, both officially and unofficially, over the last couple years. (more…)

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Album Review: Kevin Morby – Singing Saw

You’re sitting on the coastline of a small, uninhabited island in the middle of the South Pacific. Sand burrows in the creases of your eyes and the corners of your cracked lips. The wind smells of birds. Behind you lie the remains of a small, wooden lifeboat — splintered and upside down; the oar rests upon your lap. An empty 7-UP can visits your feet, rolling up, rolling down, pushed in by the tide and retreating back with it. In the distance is a storm and you wait for its slow arrival, like a train approaching. You smile because you know there is hope in its dark clouds.

This is what it’s like listening to Kevin Morby’s powerful new record, Singing Saw. Put another, perhaps simpler way: it’s good, okay? Really, really good.

The type of good that resonates in the chest and reverberates in the blood. The type of good that sends you searching. The type of good that strands you on an island in the South Pacific.

Before establishing his minimalist and intimate song signature, Kevin Morby first navigated through the busy streets of Los Angeles’ indie music scene (The Babies, Woods). I’m not sure when I first heard the guy, to be honest, but the singer-songwriter’s sophomore album, Still Life, made my 2014 Best-Of List (the song “All of my Life” remains one of my favorite tunes).

Today, Morby has sharpened his sound — Millennial folk to the beat of Beck’s Sea Change and with the drawl of early Dylan. Not to say there isn’t energy lurking behind them calm waves. The first single from Singing Saw, “I Have Been to the Mountain,” punches in with bass, drums, horns, strings, a gospel choir and a guitar effect that can only be described as 1960’s sci-fi. The song is basically a Tarantino film, or say, a Bloody Mary on a sultry day. Recently, it landed on a Pitchfork summer festival mixtape (on the much-coveted leadoff spot of number one). (more…)

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Micro-filming with Adobe Premiere Clip: My life in 4 short videos

About a month ago it occurred to me that I carry a super computer in my pocket. My phone, that is. It’s a smart phone that connects me to the world and offers me every little bit of information from anytime in history, much like a community garden – all knowledge ripe and for the taking. And the phone is powerful. I can pinpoint my friend’s exact real-time location, no matter how far away from me he or she lives. I can record music. I can film movies.

98% of the time I use my phone to check email.

When I want to be fancy, I post a picture to Instagram.

That’s about it.

With fresh eyes, then, (the unlimited potential of my phone revealed to me), a query clobbered my restless mind. What if the ’90s version of myself were to get ahold of an iPhone? What would I have done with it?

Certainly, I wouldn’t have wasted battery power reading stranger’s status updates.

Enter ‘Adobe Premiere Clip’

What if I were to film the most boring moments of my life and then try to make them interesting?

I’m sure there are many movie-making apps available to the mass public. iMovie, for instance, is probably the most popular (I have some familiarity with the desktop version). Adobe Premiere Clip, however, happened to get in front of my face at the right time. This powerful video-producing app allows you to record, edit, add music, adjust tone and color — all from your phone. (more…)

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Story Behind the Setlist: The Swell Season — April 2008, Oakland, CA

My fondest memories revolve around live music.

That statement may mean nothing to you, but to me, it’s everything. See, my memory is not what it used to be. (Of course, how would I know?)

Maybe my memory was always lousy. Maybe I didn’t eat enough pistachios as a kid. I’m not trying to be melodramatic; I don’t think there’s anything medical going on. The truth is that my friends will reminisce, or my wife will remind me of some place we visited a few years back. I will eventually recall, but the memories must be coaxed, primed. It’s like turning a page in a novel with two pages stuck together: I just need a minute to get them unstuck.

But music? Now that’s something my memory can get behind!

SIDE NOTE: My theory is that since everyone around me has always had amazing memories, I never felt it necessary to encode much to long-term. I saved this brain power for much more important things, like charming women and learning guitar.

Concerning concerts, I can tell you who I’ve seen, how many times I’ve seen ‘em, and which song stuck out the most. I can hack any musical memory and transport myself back to the venue, where all of a sudden I’m wearing the moody, black emo-clothing of my high school years, and I’m praying to God that the drunk stranger standing next to me will stop singing so damn loud.

Fair warning: they say every time you access a memory, you alter it. With great trepidation, then, I’m going to go ahead and access a memory for you — a really, really fond memory, one of my favorites — knowing that I might wreck it in the process. Wish me luck.

*Closes eyes, knocks on the door of his mind palace* (more…)

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The X-Files Revival Review: Paranormally Normal Expectations

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m an X-Phile, through and through.

As the name would suggest, X-Philes are a rare breed of entertainment consumers who swear allegiance to the TV show The X-Files. With 201 episodes, we have spent at least 201 hours of our lives watching Mulder and Scully ask the big questions and chase the big, scary monsters. Personally, I’ve seen the original series three-times through, with favorite episodes re-watched here or there, and of course, multiple viewings of the two movies. Realistically, let’s call it 700 hours of my life dedicated to finding Mulder’s stupid sister. Let us not mention The Philosophy of The X-Files book, or the Season 10 comic book series. I also bought the IDM board game.

There’s a simpler word for what I am. It’s called a nerd, and I understand that.

The truth… is that we X-Philes absorbed any and all X-Files we could get, because when the series ended in 2001, the show was over. That was it. Gone. Dunzo. Poof. Like the proof Mulder could never quite attain, The X-Files disappeared, almost as if it were never really there. And remember, TV shows didn’t come back from the dead back then. When they ended, they ended. When they were cancelled, they cancelled. So, we X-Philes became our special class of nerds, quietly holding onto the spooky, nostalgic memories of something that would never exist again.

Until it existed again.

And The X-Files came back. And now my board game, comics and books look less like collector’s items, and more like an obvious case of dork.

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Read my full review on The Farsighted blog: Part One and Part Two

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Forget the election: Here are some other things to think and talk about that you might’ve missed

Another day, another step closer to this soul crushing 2016 presidential election.

More hollow headlines. More Twitter rants. More Facebook chides.

It’s not that I don’t like politics — I do. But give me a break. This isn’t politics, this is a reality show. One past its prime and nearing cancellation (thank God). And though it’s nearly over, the spectacle and ridiculousness that is our American election cycle has permeated every day of my life in some way or another for almost two years now.

Visiting news websites and social media, I often find myself yelling, “Get them off, get them off,” like a tweaker brushing off bogus bugs.

So in the interest momentarily forgetting #DumpTrump and #Killary…

Here are some alternate headlines, topics and events to remind you that there are other things going on in the world.


People are ruining Yellowstone for the rest of us, and we’re all just letting them do it. 

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Photograph by Erika Larsen, National Geographic Creative

For me, the best part of visiting Yellowstone is that you are thrust into nature without the comfort of a safety net. Buffalo roam freely, bears are spotted — you sleep in the caldera of a super volcano. I mean, how awesome is that? (more…)