GJ Willis' Art Notes

The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Here’s my review of Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw currently running at Center Stage theater in Baltimore, October 3-November 2, 2003. The play was directed by Irene Lewis.


THE CAST (in order of speaking)

Trent Dawson

Andrew Weems

Stacy Ross

Patricia O’ Connell

George Morfogen

Peter Van Norden

Eric Sheffer Stevens

Natalija Nogugulich

Carson Elrod

I admit I wasn't in a mad rush to see this play. The last Shaw play I saw was Mrs. Warren’s Profession. In my opinion that play felt preachy. It wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be also the ending felt a little off. So it was with great trepidation that I approached seeing Misalliance.

I was nearly late for the start of the show. I had about 3 minutes to find my seat. This season it appears I will be sitting next to a tiny elderly jerri curled lady who carries an oxygen tank around with her. When looking around the audience I saw a familiar face in the rows, Barbara. Barb, used to work at Center Stage with me. I hear that she has long since left her job there. Also working as an usher was the guy who used to work at my office in the mail room. His name escapes me. He’s very tall wears glasses looks slightly like Stephen King and sounds like a telephone directory when he talks. I believe he is developmentally disabled....I don’t think it’s nice to call people retarded.

First off I was blown away by the set. I wanted to live there. I really loved the glass ceiling. The set reminded me of the one they had with Travels With My Aunt only more conventional. Set designer Tony Staiges did a bang up job. I loved the effect of the airplane suspended in the ceilingthat signaled the end of act one.

Overall, the play was better than I thought it was going to be. I laughed out loud quiet a bit from beginning to end. The ending to this play did not feel the slightest bit iffy. It only got preachy with the introduction of the character called Gunner played by Carson Elrod. Elrod did well in this small thankless role that seemed only to exist so that Shaw could spout his Socialist beliefs to the audience.

My favorite performer in the play was Natalija Nogulich who played Lina, the acrobat. I felt very empowered by the speech her character gave about being her own woman and not being bought. I wanted to go out and buy a circus outfit and train men all day.

The most famous performer on stage if you watch CBS soap operas was Trent Dawson. He plays shady yet adorable con man Henry Coleman on As The World Turns. I was surprised to see him there as he currently has a storyline running on the show. In hindsight I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised as I hear soaps are filmed six weeks ahead of air time. Dawson did a fabulous job as Johnny Tarleton the rich boy bully. In my opinion the Johnny Tartleton character was the least developed in the play. It was hard to get a handle on his motivations or even the reason for his existence in the play.

Best stud muffin/male model goes to Eric Sheffer Stevens. He looked absolutely fetching in his aviator suit. His character, Joey Percival, was given a big build up before his appearance on stage. He was known as the boy with three fathers. Male model looks aside Stevens did a fantastic job with his role. He had great comedic timing. I loved the glib deliveries that he gave as Percival.

Best Crier in the play goes to Andrew Weems who played Bentley Summerhays. Weems was outstanding as an over aged cry baby. Whenever he cried I laughed.

Best out of sync costuming detail or error goes to Stacy Ross. I admit that when I first saw Ross take the stage I thought to myself my God! What is the director,Irene Lewis doing on stage? Is one of the actors sick? Then I noticed that she’s a good deal younger than Lewis but looks a little like her. Anyway throughout her entire performance I felt distracted by the fact that she was wearing what appeared to be an earring cuff on her ear. I know this is small but for heaven’s sake that did not style did not exist in the early 1900’s. Oh, well maybe she was running late that afternoon and didn’t have time enough to remove it. She was ok in her role, nothing to write home about. I guess if it wasn’t for that darn earring cuff I might have paid more attention to her.

Favorite Senior Citizen goes to Peter Van Norden. Van Norden did an excellent job as John Tarleton. Van Norden seemed to literally glow on stage. His Tarleton was bright, sprite, and fun.

Overall I loved this play and would recommend it to my friends.

link | posted by gail at 5:20 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I thought I’d post the above picture after something funny I read on the Outpost Gallifrey message board. Someone suggested that Paul McGann should return to play the 8th Doctor because it would draw more females to Doctor Who conventions.

New news on my quest to own all of the 8th Doctor Big Finish audio’s. This weekend I won Sword of Orion, The Stones of Venice, Minuet in Hell, Seasons of Fear, and Neverland on eBay. Also this weekend I went out and bought my first DVD player. I got one of those region free ones so that I will be able to play PAL(Region 2 UK/Europe) and NTSC(Region 1-US/Canada) dvd’s. So now I can go out and buy the PAL region 1 dvd to the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie and maybe even the Sylvester McCoy era episode of The Curse of Fenric.

I had a very entertaining weekend. On Friday October 10th 2003, I saw Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. This concert kicked off my 2003-2004 season subscription at the symphony. This year instead of buying tickets for the Sunday matinee shows and switching them to Friday evening I thought I’d just go ahead and buy the Friday evening shows.

As I’ve said in previous posts I like going to the symphony because I like being the youngest person there. I like senior citizens because they’re not in too much of a rush and fights are not likely to break out.

The Steve and Eydie concert started off with a half hour montage of all their tv appearances. This was good for getting the audience warmed up. However, after a while it seemed like a cop out.

I guess I should say I was very eager to see the show because it was touted as being there last concert tour. The cynic in me says “Yeah right, tell it to The Eagles”.

When they finally appeared it was spectacular they are pros. I was thoroughly entertained. I laughed, I sang, tapped my foot and sang along to the familiar songs.

For the first half of the show Eydie wore a flowing white sequined gown. It was gorgeous! I wanted that gown!! The second half she wore this glittering black pants suit. It was ok but not as stunning as the white gown.

When the show let out I was not surprised to see a few young gay couples milling about among the senior citizens. I guess they came to see the old school glamour. Steve and Eydie are among the last link to old Hollywood. Seeing this show made me feel like I was a gay man trapped in the body of a straight woman.

The next day on I kicked off my Center Stage subscription. As I’ve written in a previous blog I usually get tickets for Tuesday or Wednesday evening but end up switching them for Saturday matinees. So this year my Center Stage subscription is for Saturday matinees.

The show I saw was George Bernard Shaw’s play called Misalliance. It was directed by Irene Lewis. I’ll post my review of the play tomorrow

I had a bit of trepidation about seeing the play. I thought it would be boorish and preachy. This was my experience with the last Shaw play I saw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession. I was delighted to find the play to be out and out hilarious. I’ll post my review of the play tomorrow.

link | posted by gail at 12:44 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The above picture I painted. I admit it is a blatent rip off of the Patrick Nagel's painting style. I don't care I like it anyway. This was my first international sale to some dude in the UK. Yes, I did let him know before he bought the artwork that it was done in the style of Nagel.

I got the Doctor Who Big Finish audio of Storm Warning yesterday in the mail. I ordered it as an experiment because I had never ordered Who audio’s before especially on the internet. Since everything went smoothly I think I’ll give a shout out to the WHO NORTH AMERICA website.

I ended up listening to the cd the next day at work and......WOW!! It was like Kismet the story starts in October. I was thinking to myself while listening, “Hey! it’s October now!” Albeit, in the story its October 1930..... Anyway, Paul McGann did a kick ass job. I found his Doctor to be very fun and entertaining. I also really liked the Doctor’s new companion Charlie, played by India Fisher. I found her to be very spirited and adventurous. Charlie and the Doctor make a perfect pair. After my experience with this audio I think I’ll be buying all the 8th Doctor Big Finish audio's. I’ve got nine more to go.......

Also yesterday, I got my portfolio review time for the SCBWI’s annual October Mid-Atlantic Conference. I’m to meet with Tim Gillner between 12:45 to 1:00 PM. I guess I should be working on new artwork to include in my portfolio. However this is kind of difficult as my new favorite waste of time is visiting the Outpost Gallifrey’s message board instead of creating new stuff to go into my portfolio. I’d better get a hop on it the Conference is on October 25, 2003. That’s nearly two weeks away!!!

Also a couple of weeks ago I finally got the artwork that was exhibited at Artscape back. For a while I thought they’d lost it.

link | posted by gail at 11:44 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Since Friday the 26th of September my heart has been filled with glee. That’s when I first heard that the BBC had had a change of heart and will be making new episodes of DOCTOR WHO in 2005. The show had been in cancellation since 1989. So you see this proves that geeks can in fact make a difference. Why all the interest you ask? Well, DOCTOR WHO happens to be my all time favorite British sci-fi television show.

In case you’re not aware, DOCTOR WHO is the longest running science fiction series in television history. It began in 1963 as the result of a commission from Sydney Newman--then the BBC Head of Drama--to create a series to primarily appeal to children and young adults and teach them about history and science.

As the series unfolded, viewers learned about the title character, known as the Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who traveled in a time machine called the TARDIS which was bigger on the inside than the outside. The role was played by veteran actor William Hartnell from 1963-1966. When Hartnell left the series, it was revealed the Doctor could physically change his form, allowing the Doctor to be portrayed subsequently by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann.

The series’ appeal has been a versatile format that explored horror, science fiction, humor, action and historical adventure. The series relied on a uniquely British wit and clever scripting that made up for its occasional deficiencies in production values. The Series’ hero, monsters, villains and even its theme song are icons in British culture as a result, and loved in over 100 countries around the world.

The series went off the UK airwaves in 1989. A TV movie with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor was aired in 1996 but did not go to series. Thanks to the short sightedness of execs at FOX TV.... I am still upset that North American viewers will never have the opportunity to purchase the FOX TV movie, unofficially titled, The Enemy Within due to some bizarre contractual deal. But alas, the Doctor’s adventures continues in novels, on radio, in comics, specially-made audio adventures and Internet radio dramas. Hey, if anyone out there happens to have a copy of the tv movie please e-mail me at

Just last night in desperation for more Who I purchased my first Big Finish audio that features the 8th Doctor. The one I bought is called Storm Warning. This was the first audio that McGann did for Big Finish back in 2001. I’m going to try and purchase all of McGann’s Big Finish audio’s. As I see it I have two years to buy all the books and audio’s of the 8th Doctor before the series begins.

As far as the new series goes I would really love for Paul McGann to return to his role as the 8th Doctor. He showed so much promise in the TV movie. It should be noted that the FOX TV movie is considered controversial among some Whovians (fans of DOCTOR WHO) because it was revealed in the movie that the Doctor was half human and the usually chaste, asexual Who, kissed Grace, his female companion in the film.

Me? I had no problem what so ever with the plot developments. The half human thing explains why he keeps coming back to Earth to save it time and again. I think that some fans have a problem with this concept because it sounds Star Trekish. As you know the very logical Vulcan Doctor Spock is half human. I hope that they keep the half human concept as part of the show’s canon. The kiss? Gosh, it’s about time he kissed someone romantically! Paul McGann is hot! Heck, I wanted to kiss him!

General Impressions of the WHO'S

William Hartnell...never watched it. I’m a spoiled Gen-Xer, if it’s not in colour what’s the point?

Patrick Troughton....see above comments

John Pertwee....James Bond like DOCTOR WHO

Tom Baker.....The Definitive DOCTOR WHO

Peter Davison...The Young Cute DOCTOR WHO

Colin Baker....Clown-like DOCTOR WHO

Sylvester McCoy....Dark Mysterious DOCTOR WHO

Paul McGann...Romantic, Poetic DOCTOR WHO

link | posted by gail at 11:59 PM | 0 comments

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