Why Mediocrity is so Popular

Why Catastrophes Happen

Knowledge for Zeus’s Sake

Misha Collins, you are the greatest

What. a. night.

The CD release party was fantastic. Jeffrey Dinsmore killed with the songs he wrote about my material. How did I get so lucky? My thanks also to Greg Felden on lead guitar, Bill Watterson on Bass, Kurt Bloom on drums, ArtShare LA for the incredible space, my mom, my sister and my wife for their support and chair shoving, Kate Hamilton for being my PA for the day, Sarah Cole for not only composing all of our harmonies, but also manning the door, and finally that huge crowd that gave up a Friday night for my brand of nonsense. There are more shows coming in the new year. So buckle your mind belts, my friends.

Brendan & Jeffrey

They’re here! They’re here!

The CDs finally came. Thanks Sergio from UPS! The album drops on October 14th. Buy it on iTunes or Amazon. CD release party at ArtShare in downtown Los Angeles on October 10. More details to follow!

How to Shave Your Adam’s Apple

The TV show Right This Minute featured my video about shaving your Adam’s Apple!

And here’s the original video…

But what should we direct?

The frozen tundra of 21st-century artistic possibilities stretches before us. Madness lies in every direction. We know directing is the only option for an intrepid, citizen-philosopher, bon vivant like ourselves (or so we like to think)… but directing what?

To whom must we communicate? What message? Over what production elements are we compelled to bear influence? Can we ever start a family? Hopefully this handy chart will help.

Click to enlarge. Download the PDF here.

What Should We Direct?

Six Ways to Pass as Privately Educated

private-school-kidsDirecting is a trust fund baby’s game. Are you a trust fund baby? If so, good for you. Couldn’t happen to a better person. Seriously. Furthermore, go fuck yourself. While you yourself may be talented and friendly, your kind, with its consequence-free paradigm, dilutes the talent pool in the entertainment industry and has an undue influence on the American narrative — which is why, in the 1970’s, movies were about urban, interesting looking, colorful people, and today, they’re about suburban, dead-souled superheroes. And thanks to “unpaid internships,” your ilk will maintain its stranglehold on the industry for generations to come.

I am not so fortunate. I had three strikes against me as I embarked on this profession. Number one, I am publicly educated. Number two, I am Irish Catholic by heritage, meaning one look at me and every person thinks, “I’m going to colonize and oppress the living shamrock out of that people-pleasing leprechaun, just for the hell of it.” Number three, I am interested in the happiness of others. Numbers two and three are related, baked into my motherboard, and problems I’ll contend with for life.

Number one, on the other hand, could have gone another way.

My high school was extremely traditional. How traditional? It was founded in 1635. Six years of Latin. A strict adherence to 17th century educational principals of discipline, rigor and gratuitous suffering. If you raised your hand, you had better have the right answer or you get the hose again. In the hall? Where’s your lavatory pass (that’s right, lavatory)? Hard work was king. Colorful complexity, as a desirable trait, was, in the eyes of my instructors, a notch below rabies. Lunch break was 19 minutes long. Lollygag time did not exist.

And here’s the lesson one takes away from this. If you speak, spit out the right answer fast and get out of the line of fire. Go along. Do not be noticeable for fear of a misdemeanor mark. This is, obviously, fantastic training for the bottom of any number of executive food chains.

My wife, on the other hand, went to a private boarding high school only 25 miles, yet several centuries, north of my own. At her school, probing complexity was the name of the game. An interesting and deep answer was prized higher than a correct one. Students probably rode around in golf carts or were carried on sedan chairs by lower classmen. All enjoying the overwhelming message: I am a complex person and my complexity has value.

At dinner parties, when you find yourself bored to tears by a person’s long-winded answer to “how are you?” chances are they went to private school. That other guest, who got everyone else talking but left without divulging so much as their last name? Public. And it bears mentioning, the one who snuck off to go to the bathroom but really was doing all the dishes? Parochial. God bless those poor bastards.

To be a director, in this industry that is now overrun by Thad Claddingtons the Thirds, who only feel comfortable hiring their own, we must learn to pass. All the blonde, white-slacked, yacht-treading villains from 1980’s John Cusack sex comedies grew up to become agents and development executives and we, the John Cusacks of the world, only too excited to be granted the right to work, have been tossed outside the gates.

Luckily there is a way back in. A secret body language taught to and understood by only the privileged. And here I am to blow the whistle on it. I humbly present: Six Ways to Pass as Privately Educated, or… Six Secrets to High Status Body Language, or… Six Methods to Put Peasants in Their Heads…

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Turn Your Body Into a Lightning Rod, Part 1: Imagination, Eyes, and Tongue

Introduction

Very occasionally throughout my career I have taken small roles to attempt to stay in touch with the task of acting, and found it utterly confounding and deeply, deeply difficult to relax into.

As a man with scoliosis, I know body tension. If I even mention a certain stressful teacher I had in high school and then reach for a high shelf, blam, there’s an icepick in my back. When I teach or direct actors, I can often see with the naked eye that there are imbalances in tension all over their bodies. It’s as if the transverse muscle, in the pit of the gut, is where all the emotion comes from and it’s got to get past three check points on its way out: the stomach, the shoulders and the jaw. And if an actor is clenching one of those (like I do) for reasons beyond his control or awareness, perhaps in a very understandable attempt to remain civilized and control the emotions trying to blast their way out of him, you can bet he’s got an energy leak somewhere else, like blinking too much, or shifting his weight, or over-endowing props. Which then leads to unwanted, undirected energy belying his performance.

On the witnessing side, as human beings, and as audience members, there are a million languages of the face we don’t realize we already speak. When an actor blinks too much, or blinks not in a way that the character would blink given his dialogue, something bugs us, and we decide we don’t believe them. When an actor acts like he’s listening, rather than truly picturing the imagery of what is being said to him, we see his face tense into handsome listening face, and we stop rooting for him. And finally, given that (I believe) we think in images, not words, if an actor has not connected deeply with the images within his own dialogue, and is not using his tongue as a paintbrush to paint these images onto the mind-canvas of the listener, we hydroplane along with him, over his moments, unaffected.

To combat this, I have devised, over the years, the above handy-dandy diagram of the human body while acting. A treacherous landscape of tension-moguls forming and releasing. Blocking the path of the emotional truth as it emerges from its home in the pit of the gut, where our weakest muscles are, that are only deployed when we cry. Beginning with the imagination, and working counter-clockwise, I will attempt to double-click on the human body, that it might be deployed in its entirety to our artistic ends.

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