Introducing the Thoughts and Prayers Act


Captain's Blog - Stardate 21518.8

This is my second blog about gun violence today. I cannot get it off my mind, I’m a quick text-typer, and I have a long commute.

I’m done. This has gone on for far too long. I am fully convinced that this must be the result that the NRA leadership wants. When you compile these recurring actions with white terror groups, evangelical hate speech, Fox News, and the fear and smear campaigns over the past forty years, what some may call the southern strategy, the fact that it is easier for me to own a gun than a motor vehicle must be by a strict design. 

If that's true, there must be a reason. Looking at the rhetoric that surrounds so many of the NRA positions, it seems that they are hoping for: stricter immigration laws, stronger sentencing for offenders of color, less funding for education and increased funding for the military while encouraging the use of weapons which may lead to an uptick in military enlistment… Gosh…I wonder if any of these policies are being considered… (For new readers...that's sarcasm.)

I am sick and tired of thoughts and prayers from congress and leadership. Guess what…if there is a God, you’ve been sending thoughts and prayers for years and at this point one of only two things is possible:

  1. God has heard you and decided that there are better things to do than answer them.
  2. God has already given you the tools for you to make grown up, adult, difficult, and necessary decisions and is sending thoughts and prayers back to Earth that you will do your job and make them. 

I'm betting on number two. So, at this point, I will accept only the following thoughts and prayers. Introducing…The Thoughts and Prayers Act.

The Thoughts and Prayers Act

  1. Immediate and permanent ban on the sale of AR15s and all automatic and semiautomatic weapons in stores or gun shows or between private citizens.
  2. The immediate ban on the sale of all firearms to:
    1. Those deemed mentally ill via comprehensive medical exam
    2. Violent offenders
    3. Domestic abusers (married or not)
  3. Required written and skills tests, like with driving, before the purchase of a firearm. Proof of passing this yes must be renewed every five years. 
  4. Required liability insurance for ANY OWNER OF A FIREARM. This insurance must be presented when purchasing ammunition.
  5. Required background checks for all gun purchases, including individual sales and gun shows.
  6. Any gun sale that is carried out without the required testing, insurance, background checks, and other reasonable processes will incur a fine and possible jail time for both parties. 
  7. A reasonable cap on ammunition purchases within a year.  
  8. Any firearm whose primary purpose is offensively (as opposed to defensively) taking a human life shall be evaluated by a bipartisan task force. 
  9. Ammunition for automatic and semiautomatic weapons will no longer be sold in stores, at gun shows or between individuals. Failure to comply with this will result in a fine and possible jail time. 
  10. Bump stops are to be permanently banned from sale in the US immediately. 
  11. Those who already own automatic and semiautomatic weapons are expected to keep these weapons separate from their ammunition and safely locked. Any one of these firearms that are used in any form of human violence, the owner will be considered an accomplice for that violence and face charges accordingly.
  12. A deposit program for automatic and semiautomatic weapons will be established. Owners will have two years to return these weapons and be reimbursed for the value of the weapon. After the two years, they may still be turned in for a tax credit. 
  13. A non-compulsory registration system that comes with discounts and awards for members. The RRA, or Responsible Rifle Association will be a group dedicated to gun safety education, proper and responsible gun use, and the transparency of the gun lobby. This is encouraged but not mandatory. 

So, come at me with reasons these do not make sense. And no, as anyone who has stood in line at the DMV will tell you, inconvenience is not a good enough reason.

"Bad people will still do bad things" goes out the window when you look at...oh I don't know...all of our laws! Look at ALL the rules we are supposed to follow when driving. Still confused? Read my previous blog.

Hunting is not a good enough reason to own a semiautomatic or automatic weapon. Now, I don't hunt, but if you can't kill an animal without raining a barrage of bullets at it...perhaps a new hobby rather than a new weapon should be considered.

What else ya got?


Please note: I am not anti-gun ownership, responsible gun owners, or the sport of hunting. It's not my thing, and I am saddened when people are hunting animals to extinction, but that's another topic. I believe that these ideas are common sense stuff that responsible gun owners are doing anyway. However, clearly common sense alone isn't enough. So, let's figure this out.

Grounded (Or Why People Make Laws)


Captain's Blog: Stardate 21518.4

I was a very good boy…for the most part. This holds so true that I believe I can remember the first time I got grounded. Ever. I was a teenager and was making a little extra cash mowing lawns.

One summer day, I was heading to do a lawn in my brand new, white, gym shoes. My mother told me not to wear them because they would be permanently stained. I said fine, but didn’t listen. Sure enough, her prediction came to pass and I was grounded for not heeding my mother’s request.  

At that time, silly as it may sound, a rule was established that I was not allowed to wear new shoes to mow the lawn. I was required to wear old shoes…which of course were now these new shoes with the yellow green ombré pressed into the rubber. 

Seems kinda silly to make a rule like that once I’d already learned my lesson, right? 

Let me give you another example. 

One night, I said I would be home from a move at…I don’t remember…let’s say 10. Suffice it to say, my teenage angst and defiance (which compared to many may seem measured but felt of paramount importance and volatility to me at the time). When I got home my mother was distraught (and my father, too, but as much from worry as from having to keep my mother from calling the police). Yes, I was grounded. A curfew was established and also the rule that if I am going to miss curfew, I must call when possible (remember…no cell phones…) and let them know. 

So, a poor behavior was perpetrated. Then a rule was made to curb that behavior. Fascinating. 

What’s my point? Glad you asked. 

I understand that a small number of people feel that additional gun laws are restrictive and also punitive. And to a degree, they may be absolutely right. Some of those complaining may be responsible owners of semiautomatic weaponry and not feel it is necessary to restrict these sales because they can behave. 

However, it is clear that your fellow citizens cannot. They were given the opportunity to demonstrate responsible behavior and there have been far too many examples that demonstrate this fact. 

So, while I understand you’re unhappy about it, it’s time for stricter gun laws and a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons. 

I get it. No one likes to be grounded. But now it’s time for you to go to your room and think about what you’ve done. 

Deep Space Nine turns 25


Captain's Blog: Stardate 010318.1

While "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will hold it's place for me as the gateway into this iconic franchise, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" remains one of my favorite series in the "Star Trek" pantheon. Many disagree with me on this, but here are some of my reasons.

1. It dared to be different: DS9 was billed as a darker series than it's predecessor and the further in we got, the more accurate this statement became. Characters waded in murky moral waters. Any time the writer's could make matters worse for our heroes, they would. And having the crew live on a station rather than a starship that was always on the move meant they could not flee the consequences of their actions. Most importantly, this was the first time "Star Trek" dabbled with the ongoing story arc instead of stand-alone episodes. And it was worth the payoff.

2. They dealt with Religion: Faith was a very present issue for DS9. While it was not any of our Earth religions, the Bajoran faith played a pivotal role in many of the series' high-stakes episodes. Seeing people not just of different races, but different faiths, interacting and having conversations about their faith is more necessary now than it was back in the 90s. 

3. Lesbian Kiss: TNG approached the issue of homosexuality once in "The Outcast" where a member of an androgynous species had illegal female tendencies. But in DS9, the convention of the Trill symbiont allowed for two women (one of whom was male in a previous "life") to fall in love. There was even a controversial kiss. 

4. Excellent Ensemble Acting: This was a truly exceptional cast, from captain to the recurring characters. There were some stellar group scenes that were smart, fast-paced, and so engaging that there were rarely any moments where these talented actors lost their momentum.

5. Social Commentary: The issues covered ranged from religious power in politics, military control of the government, racial discord, and so many more. With the volatile issues of the world right now, "Deep Space Nine" is almost MORE relevant now than it ever was. While it is unlikely that it will get the HD remastering treatment that "The Original Series" or "The Next Generation" received, it is still some excellent storytelling that has been getting some new viewers thanks to Netflix and 

Coming soon, the producers of DS9 have pulled most of the actors, writers, and behind-the-scenes staff to create what promises to be an exciting documentary of the making of "Deep Space Nine." What We Left Behind should be an exciting look into one of my favorite series. And I can't wait to watch.

Happy 25th Anniversary Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!


  1. Emissary
  2. In the Hands of the Prophets
  3. The Homecoming/The Circle/The Siege (three-part story arc)
  4. Equilibrium
  5. Rejoined
  6. Trials and Tribble-ations
  7. Far Beyond the Stars
  8. In the Pale Moonlight
  9. It's Only a Paper Moon
  10. What We Leave Behind

2018: Going Primal


Captain's Blog: Stardate 010118.7

So, I know what you're thinking. You've tried South Beach, you've tried Whole30...why do you think "The Primal Blueprint" is going to be any different. That's a good question. Allow my begin my answer stating that I will not be re-capping the diet/exercise/meal plan here for you. For one thing, that's boring if you're not looking to do it yourself and if you ARE planning on doing it yourself, then you should probably buy the book(s) and figure it out. 

What I WILL say about this as opposed to some of the others, is that it is less focused on a set period of time. Yes, there is an ideal reset of 21 days, but it is not "required" for success and it doesn't shame you (Whole30) for not getting there.

Another perk of this plan is that it encourages the idea of enjoying life. It lets you know what affects your body and in what way, but it also reminds you that you are a person and you have a life that is best lived in joy. If there are habits you have that are counter to your goals, then this diet encourages you to take a look at those and the reasons behind them. Examining the emotional reason behind your behavior is the way to decide if it is counter to living your best life. 

For example, if you are using coffee as a way to avoid sleep and stay awake, then maybe you need to look at that and see if there is another way to get the energy you need OR that maybe you need a quick afternoon nap!

I'm excited to give it a try, to learn and grow along the way, and see where this new, ongoing approach takes me. Additionally, I'm doing this with a few other people, so I have a support team built in which always helps. 

One thing I will say about my time on Whole30 in December versus my "eat whatever you want for the holidays" approach: It is clear that there are things in foods out there that make my body unhappy. Chances are, most of them are favorites of mine. Coffee is not one of them, thankfully, though I do need to keep a limit on my intake. Gluten and I are almost definitely enemies. It'll be interesting to see if dairy and I are also fighting. We'll see...

Primal roar!

ICYMI: Highlights of 2017

IMG_9831-Edit (1).jpg

Captain's Blog: Stardate 122917.3

What a crazy year it's been! There has been a lot of down time, an added third survival job, not to mention the ever-tumultuous political scene infusing every single day. It's easy during the day-to-day to lose sight of some of the exciting career moments that made this the second year in a row with some pretty great milestones. So, without further ado, the top ten successes of 2017.

  1. Completed first voiceover demo
  2. Two incredible photo shoots with the impeccable and amazing Tyler Core which brought me some of the best photos I've ever had.
  3. My earnings last year qualified me for the SAG-AFTRA Insurance plan.
  4. Made some exciting new connections which have served as both good networking and great inspiration.
  5. SAG-AFTRA DIY workshop demonstrated that I have more tools at my disposal to complete some of my smaller projects, which have now moved into development.
  6. First hand modeling gig
  7. Started the year on stage with "Diary of a Worm..."
  8. Debuted with an original musical which included a cast recording.
  9. By the same composer, last year's cast recording "PEN" is now available for purchase online.
  10. And the top accomplishment of 2017: Booking my first co-star role on a network television show. I was Hotel Manager #2 on "Chicago PD" this season.

So, despite the "resistance" that can creep into the brain during times of calm in one's career, 2017 was definitely a success. I look forward to what new steps I can take in 2018. Happy New Year!

The Iceman Goeth...Bye!


Captain's Blog: Stardate 122017.5

I've just learned that Marvel Comics first, ongoing series featuring a gay, male lead...Iceman...has been canceled and will finish it's run in March. Gay nerds everywhere are starting to “come out” in support of this book. Some stating how important it was to have this character with his own book. Some suggesting an online fan petition to try to rescue the series before it's too late. But I have one very important question:


Look, I absolutely think it is important for LGBTQ characters to headline their own comic books. I believe that these books send the right message to kids who are trying to understand themselves. And I was thrilled to start reading this character's know...until it started.

My biggest complaint about the “Iceman” comic was that it was trying to be a coming out story. The focus was on this otherwise confident Gen-X age Iceman struggling to come out to his parents, feeling guilt about a break up with a woman because he still hadn't figured out his sexuality, and all of this made worse by his totally out, Millenial self from another timeline adding to his sense of inadequacy. 

But isn't X-Men fundamentally, and continually, a coming out story? Isn't that part of what the allegory of “mutation” is able to tell? This Iceman's story was rooted in a coming out tale that seemed trite and almost deferential to an audience that has never heard a queer story before. Or a queer audience that has never read an X-Men story before. 

Suffice it to say, I stopped reading at issue five.

I wish this was an issue limited to Iceman, but this touches on an issue I have had with gay storytelling in general as of late. We are more than coming out and HIV. We are complex individuals who have relationships, passions, and personalities beyond the tropes of the “acceptable mainstream gay experience.”

Take the recent DC “Midnighter and Apollo” mini-series. Six issues where two very different characters have great, unapologetic gay sex, are divided by evil, and then Midnighter bloodies up the underworld trying to rescue the love of his life. It was great! Not only was it more graphic than I expected, but it got me emotionally as well. And there was not one part of the main plot that hinged on either character having to accept that they were gay.

Gay audiences are ready for more depth in their storytelling, even if they don't know it yet. I'm sorry to see Iceman wrapping his series...but maybe if the character works out his issues, he can be at the center of a series where the biggest villain isn't his own sexuality.  

Getting Stuff Done


Captain's Blog: Stardate 120417.2

There’s an interesting, ironic situation in the “personal growth” sector of my life. On a friend’s excellent advice this spring, I purchased the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. 

And I haven’t finished it yet.

However, as I was meditating this morning, so many thoughts came rushing at me like I’m the enemy quarterback at the ten yard line (yup…take note…a sports reference in MY blog). As each one aimed its nasty little message at my serenity, one realization from the book came back to me.

These weren’t thoughts. These were items I had to do that weren’t completed.

Contact your insurance provider. Finish tallying donations at your survival job. Print new business cards. 

The list went on and on. I would swat them away like flies, but a new one would take its place. 

David Allen talks about having methods for getting these items out of our head and into a container (to-do list, action plan, whatever works best for you). In his way of thinking, a lot of our anxiety comes from feeling like we have too much to do, but no organized plan of action.

For creatives, I feel like this can be a major hurdle to overcome. Think about it. Anytime you have to reschedule your life to accommodate an audition, a shoot, a rehearsal period, you invariably have to make concessions at your survival job. And then, in order to make sure you don’t lose your survival job, you end up sacrificing something you need to do for your work. And when you factor in your personal life and responsibilities there…(implosion.)

Oh. I’m sorry…were you waiting for my “A-HA” moment? Yeah, I don’t have one. The A-HA came from the realization that his analysis is spot on. I don’t think I’m alone in this either.

But, I do want to describe a job where I’m realizing this practice. Of the many part-time jobs that keep me eating, I spend twenty hours a week as an office assistant to a single boss. I intake checks, update spreadsheets, make deposits, send letters…typical admin stuff. My expectations were very clearly laid out for me from day one. I come in, I do my job, and then I leave. If we have a special event or a conference call, I make adjustments with the other parts of my life just as I would for an audition, but that job still functions extremely well.

The best part is…not a single “to-do” from that office pops into my meditation.

At Passover, there is the tale of the four sons…the dreaded herald to the youngest at the table that it will be their turn to recite the four questions. The oldest asks for details about the story of Moses, the selfish son asks what it means for me, the next simply asks what it is, while the youngest son is silent. He does not know yet what questions to ask.

“Getting Things Done” has given me a way to structure my approach to organization in all aspects of my life that I didn’t have before. True, I have yet to implement a number of the tangible suggestions. I did buy the label maker. I now know which is white rice and which is brown. However, one thing is clear. Just like you need a place to put your wallet and keys when you come home, every thought needs it’s place. Its thought-bucket, if you will.

If you keep it all in your head, your mental bucket will overflow. Releasing these thoughts to a list, an action plan, or whatever works for you. Hell, you might find out that a few of these tasks are so simple that if you just did them when they occurred, you would never have had to think about doing them later.

Whatever tasks you need to do, give them a place outside of your mind to dwell. That could be the first step to a calmer, quieter mind.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Waiting in the Wings

george takei.jpg

A Thank You to George Takei

Growing up, George Takei taught me about honor, friendship, and service through his elegant portrayal of Lt. Hikaru Sulu. His rich voice has always had a sense of calm strength that I find inspiring. 

Last night I had one of the most unique honors of my career. For the first time, however briefly, I had the opportunity to perform for one of the actors who inspired me to pursue theatre and film. I, along with some amazing Chicago talent, presented three numbers from his Broadway show "Allegiance" as an opening act to his speech in Chicago on the Japanese Incarceration Camps of the Second World War. 

Playing the various roles of soldier, FBI, and farmer, I portrayed the various ways white Americans criminalized, persecuted, and took advantage of other Americans for no other reason but their race. I was only in the first number, and for the other two, I waited in the wings. Feet away from the living legend that is George Takei.

There I was. Mr. Takei sitting feet before me, engrossed in the performance on stage, waiting in the wings with me. Two performers waiting to retake the stage. Equals. Well...except for his police entourage, wealth and fame. 

Oh how I longed to bend his ear on his experiences on Star Trek (which celebrates it's 51st anniversary today), on being gay in Hollywood, and countless other topics. But it was enough to simply be there. In proximity.

After our performance we were invited to hear him speak on his experience as a proud Japanese American in this country. Even with the unthinkable hardship put on his family, his commitment to his country...our country, America, remains true and optimistic. Two comments stuck out to me specifically. The first is that his father, who bore the brunt of the experience for the family, still believed that our system of government is still one of the best in the world because it is of the people. The second was that "We as a democracy have a great capacity to create but as fallible human beings, we can make great mistakes."

He also reiterated multiple times that the way to create change is to stay engaged, give of your time, do your homework, and participate as a citizen by making informed, educateddecisions when casting your vote. 

I didn't get the chance to meet George Takei. There is no selfie, no handshake, no signed action figure. I doubt that I will have this opportunity again and that's okay. Despite my love and appreciation for this man as a Sci-Fi legend, I left with something even better. I left the theatre with hope for our future and pride in our country, both of which have been difficult to muster in recent months. I left inspired to contribute more as a citizen as well as an artist. 

We are all waiting in the wings, and America is pleading for us to take the stage.

Fast Food For the Mutants


 Beverly (Lea Thompson) and Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) hide from the cops after an accident in the science lab.

Beverly (Lea Thompson) and Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) hide from the cops after an accident in the science lab.

My mind has been focusing lately on the epic fail of the 1986 cult “classic” Howard the Duck. Scoring an amazing 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, reviews range from “But the film, directed by Willard Huyck and written by Mr. Huyck and Gloria Katz, takes such a broad, farcical aim, that it becomes a melange of ''The Exorcist,'' ''Ghostbusters'' and ''Raiders'' itself,” from Caryn James of the New York Times, to “When the smoke clears, only one thing is certain: Howard the Duck has laid an egg,” from Dave Kehr of the Chicago Tribune. 

Yet despite the atrocious critical response, it remains one of the top ten favorites from my childhood. So, with Comic-Con coming up this weekend (which I will enjoy viacriously via social media) and a new genre project of my own in development, I revisited this scrambled skillet of a film to try and understand why I love it and what about it made such a lasting impression.

Let's start with a stellar cast. Hot off a Back to the Future success, Lea Thompson is crimped and punked out in stellar 80s attire. She and her sassy girl band “Cherry Bomb” are the closest we may ever get to a Jem and the Holograms live action movie (including the recent Jem and the Holograms live action movie). She brings a scrappy yet vulnerable balance to Beverly and audiences have no trouble connecting with her. Tim Robbins does a quirky turn as the nerdy scientist, a role I could connect with personally even back then.

And then there's Howard. Voiced by Broadway great Chip Zien (Into the Woods), his cynical commentary on American culture is bracing and sharp. And while the duck costume is definitely successful to a point, especially for it's time, the mechanics of the face can't keep up with Zien's sarcastic stamina. Nevertheless, the human performers connect to the voice and, for me, I look past the suit and see the character and story.

Now, let's talk story for a second. A number of reviews refer to the film as inconsistent and like two movies smushed together. First, you have the rom-com relationship of Beverly and Howard as he's adapting to life in “Cleve-Land.” Then, about halfway through, we launch into full-on alien action movie. That is technically true, but looking at it structurally, it works for me. Here's how.

For the latter half to feel more connected to the first, they could have sprinkled in scenes from the science lab, but for me this reveal half way through works because we, like Howard, have no idea how he got to Earth. We connect with him as he struggles to figure out where he is and what to do, and if they sprinkled in scientists along the way, I think the audience would lose the connection to Howard and Beverly which, in the end, it the heart of the film.

Back to Beverly's band for a second, Lea Thompson sounds great on the material written and co-performed by Dolby's Cube. A few years ago, a friend of mine was kind enough to share the soundtrack with me and I tend to go through annual phases of playing this on repeat. Now is one of those times. “Don't Turn Away” is a fun 80s love ballad and “Hunger City” is a rockin' blast. And the title song, of course, which closes the film as well, is just fun!

So, why does this film work so well for me? I think it stems from always being an outsider growing up. I was the kid on the playground playing “Star Trek” when everyone else was playing sports. I was Jewish and most of my school friends were not. Once I started to understand that I was gay, this outsider feeling only grew. So, I connected to both Howard and Beverly (and even Phil) and became strongly invested in their search for connection, acceptance and understanding. Which they all found in the end by producing an amazing 80s rock concert. So the next time you're wondering if you should give Howard the Duck another chance...”Don't turn away.” 

Fabulous Falsettos

 Betsy Wolfe, Christian Borle, Anthony Rosenthal, Andrew Rannells, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz, and Stephanie J. Block in  Falsettos . (Joan Marcus)

Betsy Wolfe, Christian Borle, Anthony Rosenthal, Andrew Rannells, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz, and Stephanie J. Block in Falsettos. (Joan Marcus)

I used to say that everything I need to know in life I learned from Star Trek. With rare exception, I would say that still holds true. However, as I sat weeping into my lightly buttered AMC popcorn watching the Live at Lincoln Center production of “Falsettos” on the big screen, I realized have one other source of developmental inspiration: William Finn.

“March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland,” the two one-act operettas that eventually became the full-length broadway show “Falsettos,” normalized my desire to love men, taught me to build an extended family from friends, and that my Jewishness, neuroses, sexuality, and passion were all okay.

The show has been with an active part of my life for years. In high school, I’d listen to it constantly, much to the chagrin of my parents. “Four Jews in a Room Bitching” seemed to hit a little too close to home. In college, one of the student directors at Illinois Wesleyan cast me in “Falsettoland.” Who did I play? Well, Jason, of course. I did receive the “Child Actor of the Department” award, after all. And “Four Unlikely Lovers” was a part of a cabaret with four great friends while I was living in Minneapolis.

The performances in the Lincoln Center production were nothing short of stellar. At the top of their game were Christian Borle (Marvin) and Stephanie J. Block (Trina). Her journey for Trina from unstable divorcee to a strong independent woman making her own choices was delicately sculpted with equal parts bawdy slapstick and subtle stoicism. Borle, the true heart of the piece, brought an almost cinematic truth to Marvin’s arc and his often motionless moments of power and discovery let the language and love permeate the room.

The surprise to me was Brandon Uranowitz. Mendel has always struck me as a bit of a whiner, with a little heart and a lot of problems. I loved the recording of Chip Zien for that reason. But Uranowitz demonstrated so much depth in a potentially one-note character that he almost stole the show from Borle.

The set, staging, lighting, and minimal use of props and furniture kept the pace of the show crisp and tight. An artistic shift from abstract shapes becoming furniture to the use of a practical hospital bed and chairs was a beautiful expression of the encroaching reality of a deadly virus no one at that time knew how to handle. The entire production was exquisite from start to finish.

As I reflect on the Reagan administration that put our community at risk by their irresponsible delay in acknowledging the AIDS crisis, and the current administration that threatens to unravel the strides made in LGBT rights and protections made since that time, the importance of this piece still resonates deeply. As the cast themselves stated during a pre-show promotion for Broadway Cares, in these uncertain times, “lets be scared together.”