How to Fight Like an Artist in the Time of Trump

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what precisely I, as an artist, can do to counter the sociopolitical climate of this moment. I am unwilling to fall victim to despair, while at the same time I recognize a sense of helplessness – particularly when it comes to sharing the truth. Our leaders have become misleaders. Our social media have become less social, more media. And the press is now suspect both to those who wish to subvert the facts and those who are seeking them out.

Therefore, I feel that it falls to artists to follow through, more so now than ever, on their job description of holding a mirror up to society. We must tell the truth.

Here are a few thoughts about how we, as artists, can use our craft, our talents, and our art to more fruitfully fulfill our calling moving forward. Continue reading How to Fight Like an Artist in the Time of Trump

How to Improve Any Skill

When I first began teaching at USC, I was hesitant, afraid. “Those who can’t…” kept ringing in my head. I didn’t want to focus too much time and energy training other people to do what I was still focusing on perfecting myself.

The past few years of teaching acting has proven me very wrong. Rather than sapping my attention away from my skills, it has only honed them and made them all the more available to me in my professional career.

It reminded me of the time I spent helping my friends with their homework in grade school. My friend Danny was not very good at math. So I would sit with him and work through the problems, step by step, going through the process we had learned. Doing this allowed me to solidify the process in my own head. When it came time for the test, I now had double the practice and confidence to do well.

If you want to improve something you know how to do, all you have to do is teach it to someone else. Here’s a list of things you’ll find: Continue reading How to Improve Any Skill

Put Down the Pumpkin Spice Latte!

06df506cfd01c09b6b876f0ff00c4dbcIt’s not your imagination – Starbucks continues to release their Pumpkin Spice Latte earlier and earlier. According to US Weekly, the news source of White Girls everywhere, “although [it] won’t officially make its way into stores until Sept. 8, some die-hard fans can get their hands around a steaming PSL early, beginning on Sept. 4.”

Soon we’ll be drinking them on July 4th weekend.

I love the Fall for many reasons – the change in the weather (yes, even here in LA), the change in the color of the leaves (not so much here in LA), and the flavors of vegetables at the farmer’s markets. Even the pumpkin.

But when it comes to Pumpkin Spice – I’d rather opt for something with a little less pumpkin and a little more spice. Cue the Pumpkin Cocktails! Continue reading Put Down the Pumpkin Spice Latte!

How to Hard Boil an Egg. (Seriously).

e22b71a6c378ea10df56ef05d0e172d2

Who has time to cook at home these days??

Me. That’s who. (And you probably do, too – although you might think you don’t.)

Regardless – for those of us who know the joys of cooking at home (i.e. delicious-ness, financial-badass-ness), these 16 Kitchen Skills Every Home Chef Must Know is a great list of reminders and tips. Continue reading How to Hard Boil an Egg. (Seriously).

Oh, The Farmer’s Market and the CSA Can be Friends

(Ten points if you get the reference in the title…)

DSC_0620_2

My fiancee and I recently bought a house in a new neighborhood. It’s been an exciting transition, but one of the things that we lost was easy access to a weekly farmer’s market.

I used to love going to the market every Sunday morning. It wasn’t a very big market, and so you were able to get to know the vendors and farmers on a personal level. It taught me to plan meals for the week, and buy accordingly. It was an amazing ritual. How could we give that up?? Continue reading Oh, The Farmer’s Market and the CSA Can be Friends

OSCARS Live Tweet

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love the Oscars. The celebrity, the art, the speeches.  The Oscars make me fall in love with show business over and over.

In fact, the only thing I love more than the Oscars is LIVE-TWEETING the Oscars. The jokes, the snark, the hashtags.

So follow me on twitter (@btryback) and this Sunday, March 2nd follow join me starting at 4e/7p.  I won’t quit until the last man affirms his heterosexuality by thanking his girlfriend/wife/escort.  Or the wine puts me to sleep, which ever happens first.

See you Sunday!  And may the statuettes be ever in your favor.

BT Oscars

Day Off: Into the Woods Style

My day off from MURDER FOR TWO at New World Stages is Tuesday – which is an odd day off for a stage actor, Monday being the typical day, or sometimes Sunday.

Typically, I’ll spend the day at home – writing, catching up on TV, drinking beer, and cooking for the week.

If you’re the cast of the INTO THE WOODS movie, however – you apparently spend your day off filming a music video with Paul McCartney at Abbey Road.  Which, y’know, six of one…

Memorial

An excerpt from my journal upon visiting the 9/11 Memorial, July 26, 2013.

Bronze panels bearing the names of 9/11 victims around the perimeter of the 9/11 Memorial North Pool, are pictured  prior to ceremonies marking the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the site of the World Trade Center in New YorkThe sense here is one of absence.

Each inverted fountain a pit, reflecting for me the pit I feel in my stomach.  A stillness as the water floats silently toward an abrupt fall.  The thin threads of water evoking tears, C said, or for me bodies falling.  And in the center, an inevitable drift towards a hole with no bottom that can be seen.

The names in bronze surrounding the pools – so many that you feel a sense of remembrance and anonymity – also reflect an absence.  The letters are carved out; there, but not there – like the people it seeks to memorialize.

The ongoing construction around the site is a constant reminder of New York City.  Lovely, bittersweet, inescapable.

We sat against a temporary barrier to read the map and were abruptly shooed away by a dispassionate security guard.   An oddly irreverent move, I thought.  “What if we’d been crying there?” I asked C.  The brusque tone of the guard was out of place in with the solemnity and awe.  We hadn’t been doing anything inappropriate.   “The only inappropriate thing is disrespect,” I said.

I’m reminded of Alan Bennett.  In History Boys, when Hector muses about school groups at Auschwitz:  “Where do they eat their lunches?  Do they take pictures?  Are they smiling?  Nothing is appropriate.”

Children, too young to know anything about what is being remembered, run about the grounds laughing, yelling, playing with the water and the stones surrounding the trees.  A natural order, I thought.  It’s good that we remember the pain and the sorrow, but it’s also good that there will be those after us who won’t have to.

I look up to see yet another absence.  The sky is bright and cloudless, and there is so much of it.  An odd sight in New York, especially in this part of the city.  The abundance of clear blue sky is its own silent reminder of what once was there, but is no more.black-ribbon1