Wow, I haven't updated this in quite a while. The last two years have been incredibly busy and fun. I've gotten to work with Sacha Baron Cohen's Four by Two Productions on a hybrid live action / animation project. I'm also developing a show in conjunction with Tim & Eric's Abso Lutely Productions. My writing partner and I have also gotten a chance to collaborate on some pitches to both broadcast and cable networks. Oh, and my wife and I had a kid. And the Cubs won the World Series (last year). Things are good. Life is weird.
I'm very happy to announce that ToyBox Theater was selected for the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival. This is due in large part to the hard work of a lot of friends but first among equals is Marty Shousboe. He's a great director and a wonderful collaborator. The Festival is being held June 10 thru 18th in Los Angeles. Our screening is scheduled for June 11th at 7pm. I couldn't be more excited.
-Barry Writer/Creator/Producer, Toy Box Theater
Below is a transcript from the now infamous reading of my Crystal Sphere Fan Fiction. The following took place in the back of Annouk's Book Emporium and Mediterranean Grill.
"Today I'll be reading some fan fiction from the Crystal Sphere Septology. The following takes place between the sixth book, Tears of Dysmorphia, and the as of yet unpublished seventh volume.
"As the debate entered its 7th hour, the 7 priests returned from recess. In unison. Holding hands, as was the custom. The high priest kissed the forehead of the higher priest who licked the forehead of the highest priest. The Highest priest addressed the crowd.
"Yum Yum, tim tum. Walla Walla Zoot schoot. REAWR!"
He was right. the debate had gotten too heated, such outbursts would not be tolerated in a Korfoolian brothel luncheon much less a gathering of the Seven Priests of Zhhanaybia. The highest priest nodded his five heads caustically at Sebastian and Fat Travis, urging them to restart the debate..
Sebastian took the lectern, his broad shoulders rippling beneath his robes like hardened Trimeethian dough. His opening salvo was devastating.
"Googly googly googly, schnicka schnack."
Sebastian tried to repress a smirk but his large, brown, cylindrical tusks made it impossible. The crowd grew restless, thinking the debate over. Until Fat Travis snorted,
"Boo boo, boo Boo boo?"
The congregation gasped in ecstasy. Fat Travis' retort was worthy of the Harfoothian muse herself. As if she had climbed into one of Fat Travis’ seven ear canals and made love to his brain, with one of her seven genitals. Fat Travis, with his convex forehead and low self esteem had lulled Sebastian into a false sense of security.
Sebastian thought back to his time on the prison ship, sailing across the Sea Lion Sea. Summoning all of his strength, he emptied his thoughts in one fell swoop of liturgical argument.
"Gadzooks chum chum bing bong ding dong."
So many salient points crammed into a single sentence. Sebastian relaxed. His burden eased, He took a triumphant sip of piss. Slowly, an audience member rose from the back of the chamber. More shadow than man, he uttered clearly, cruelly, in a voice Sebastian recognized instantly.
"Have you had your break today? McDonald’s. I’m loving it."
Sebastian, spat out his beverage, dousing the lectern in piss. Could it be? Grimlock had died years ago, yet here he was undermining Sebastian’s argument. The holy council glared at Sebastian, begging his response to the Throodinese rapier his undead ex lover, the former cobbler Grimlock had thurst into his argument.
I will now take questions from the audience.
Editor's Note: If you enjoy the reading up to this point, I advise you to please stop reading.
Reporter 1: "Hey Barry, you're fat. Is this a metaphor for that?"
BH: No... I. No.
Reporter 2: "Hey Barry, you're going bald. How does that affect your writing process?"
BH: I don't know.
Reporter 3: "Hey Barry, you're an okay writer."
Reporter 3: "Let me finish. Okay, No. That was it."
As it became apparent to me, this was yet another attempt at besmirching my good name as a writer of Crystal Sphere Fan Fiction. I remain undaunted.
“Oh snap!” The bro tugged on the stop chord just as the bus had lurched past Cornelia.
“Ha! too late. Mass transit waits for no man, not even a happier me.” Toby said to himself.
The bus sat in the middle of the intersection as the bus driver waited for the bro and hot mess to gather their things. In the course of a few blocks, the other Toby had formed a bond with a stranger that this Toby hadn’t managed in 8 years of mass transit experience.
As the bro made his way to the front, of the bus, he turned to the hot mess.
"Glad we took the bus today, baby," then locking eyes with Toby he added, "Gotta save my knees..."
For emphasis, the bro high fived the shut in’s, the family of confused tourists, even the four homless people as he went by. And with one fluid motion eased the same hand inside the hot mess’ back pocket.
“We love you bro, take care.” said the bus driver.
“Take it sleazy, dude.” assured the bro - looking every bit like an ad for condoms or tequila.
The bus returned to its former monotony. Only now all the riders, save Toby, wore an idiotic grin. Their happiness burned at Toby as he slumped back into his customary slouch, the plastic seat farting against his sweatpants as he sunk lower.
The bus driver locked eyes with Toby through the rearview mirror, looking more intently than ever at him.
“I wish you were the other Toby,” he said - pounding the gas pedal for effect.
There was a tap on Toby’s shoulder. He ignored it.
“Hey, brother. Y’okay?”
Another gentle but sure tap on his right shoulder.
“What!?” Toby snorted through his self made cocoon.
“I insist that you stop this … harassment,” he spat - leaning into his preferred British pronunciation.
Toby uncoiled, squinting through his hoodie. He could tell it was the male idiot by the way his hair winged out from the sides of his head
“You okay? You don’t look so good, pal.”
Toby threw his head back to cast off his hoodie. He was going to reduce this Idiot to ashes with a few choice words and then he was going to journal about it. Instead, Toby froze in horror.
“Fine good.” Toby sputtered at his clone.
“Sweet,” replied the Idiot, extending a hand for a high five.
Toby broke his cardinal rule and consented to the high five - undone by this smiling, unburdened version of himself.
“K, dude. Just wanted to check. In Dusty we Trusty.”
“In Dusty We Trusty?” The phrase left Toby cold. Dusty Baker hadn’t managed the Cubs since 2006.
The Idiot’s eyes were lax but happy. His cheekbones high, his brow severe and his thin lipped mouth smiled with great ease.
Toby reflected a smile back at his other self but could feel his cheeks and lips crack. The bro showed no sign of recognition, which only deepened Toby’s horror.
Toby took note of the fools standing outside the bus’s entrance: one with a bird’s nest of black hair, the other with a tastefully-distressed baseball cap. While the untamed black knot of hair could be anyone, the hat was a sign his ecosystem of castoffs was about to be disturbed. Toby unleashed an eyeroll for the benefit of all.
Despite the chill of winter, the woman wore a pink, baby doll Cubs Tshirt and jean shorts that seemed to cinch the back fat in two opposing directions. But the odor told the full story. She smelled like a distillery fumigated with the perfume you find at a drugstone the day after Mother’s Day. After trying in vain to explain how fare cards work, the bus driver gave up and waved her aboard.
Her companion was a grinning, monocromatic mess. Despite the fact that it was 34 degrees out, he wore thick-soled flipflops with a leather thong – indicating he was a person of means. His spray-tanned legs disappeared into a pair of cargo shorts presumably sold as “a deep khaki.” A Cubs belt peaked out from under a Cubs shirt with the number 18 on it.
Baseball was one of the few things Toby appreciated sincerely. He immediately recognized the number as that of Moises Alou - who’d not played for the Cubs in 9 years. When the figure finished paying the bus driver, he turned and made his way to the seat next to the mess in the baby tee. The slow, loping gate was familiar.
Seated two rows in front of him, Toby heard pieces of muffled conversation punctuated by laughter. They were the picture of the fraternal sunniness that Toby loathed. Their laughter repeatedly piercing the monotony of the bus’ low hum. Toby tried headphones to drown out their merriment but it was no use. Their laughs cut right through his podcasts. Toby turned up the volume in his headphones but still the laughter prevailed.
In a rage, Toby stole a glance just in time to see one of his homeless cast offs joining in the laughter. The male warm weather idiot high fived the homeless man. “These fools, these warm weather fools! At least now they’ll catch whatever germs that homeless man’s carrying.”
Toby crossed his arms, closed his eyes and buried his head in chest. Just in time to hear the entire bus erupt in laughter.
- Outstanding Comedy Series
- Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
- Outstanding Series Premise
- Outstanding Directing (Michael Malarkey)
- Outstanding Lead Actor (Barry Hite)
Very cool news.
Toby swung his sweatpant-clad leg up and into the bus, but only after the driver refused to have the bus kneel for him. As he strode to his seat, he glared at the bus driver and angrily pointed at his knees for effect.
“Do you often refuse to accommodate people with bad knees?”
A calculated lie Toby often told to shame civil servants, waiters and the parents of toddlers who offended him. He made his way to a multi-stained seat in the rear of the bus and threw himself into it. The clap of his back and butt on the seat drew the ire of a few riders but Toby didn’t care. The bus seemed old.
Toby knew that by taking mass transit at 2pm on Tuesday, he'd be surrounded by people who either worked nights or not at all. His current job, dog walker, afforded him a place in society but not of it. In his mind, this almost monastic position made him an arbiter of taste. His proximity to dogs also made him an excellent judge of character.
He scanned the bus and counted 2 shut in’s - probably on a grocery run, a family of confused tourists and 4 hall of fame homeless people.
The tourists were lucky. If they were to visit Chicago 8 weeks from now, it would be Cubs season – a special kind of Hell. The children would leave with either vomit on their shoes or a newly acquired vocabulary of racial slurs and profanities and those were just the T-shirts.
Yes, this bus ride had been worth the 30 minute wait. Sure, the train would’ve had him home sooner, but he would’ve missed out on his little fiefdom of outcasts.
Toby was confident that avoiding conversation wouldn’t be a problem. His thin lips, severe brow and high cheekbones gave him a natural surliness. Even in repose, his roundness seemed rigid and unapproachable. It had served him well in the city. Panhandlers rarely approached him and he was quite sure that had he chosen to go into business, he would’ve done very well at the negotiating table. He just knew it. Alas, he considered money shallow.
Toby was slowly melting into his seat and about to drift into voyeuristic bliss when the bus made an uncharacteristic stop at Wisconsin Ave. The bus had not stopped at Wisconsin Ave on any trip in his recent memory.
“Probably some walker who tried to be a hero but wasn’t up to it. Coward.“
Toby would punish the elliptical machine later for this person’s inconstancy.
Today, we bury a great man. A man who loved the finer things. Cocoa butter. A 20 dollar tip, and making people happy. I’m talking about Sunny Lipstein or maybe you knew him by his stage name, Dusty Wangfield. Beloved son, brother, nephew, cousin, step dad, sometime vegetarian but full time dancer. I wanna thank Dusty’s family for their beautiful words. I’ve never read the bible before, pretty cool stuff. I hope that you’ll appreciate hearing from myself and the other dancers who worked with your son, Sunny. Or as we knew him Dusty, Wang-Man, Lance Schlongstrong or in quieter moments, Lord Throbbington of Cockfield.
(Getting choked up)
I’ll never forget that hot July morning when Dusty had his first shift at Logjammers. it was a Tuesday: Fantasy Tuesday! Just like every Tuesday at Logjammers. If you can imagine it, we’ll try it! ... I’m sorry, my boss made me do that.
As is tradition for the newer dancers, Dusty had to dance the lunch shift. and watching him work our older clients... You could tell he had a knack for making people happy.
I see a lot of those customers are here today. There’s Bernice aka B-Nasty. it’s strange to see Bernice during the day but I’m sure I’ll see her tonight. All messed up on purple drank. Nasty Little Thing. Watch yourself, she’s real grabby.
But Sonny didn’t mind, did he? He’d say,”Is that all you got Bernice? Grab two hands full!” Gretchen’s here. Don’t stand up, Gretchen you’ll pop that hip. Don’t let that sweet face fool you, Gretchen’s a freak. Even w/ an oxygen tank.
But Sunny’s favorite customer was Karl. or as we knew him Sweaty Karl. Karl can’t be here because he’s a high school science teacher and well, some secrets gotta stay secrets.
I appreciate y’all giving us the time. From myself and the rest of the Nasty Boyz Dance Troupe, Thank you. I’d like to finish by passing on the comments of the dancers who couldn’t to make it here from Logjammers - Logjammers we’ll give even your filthiest fantasies a touch of class. Now with delicious flatbreads! I’m sorry, that’s the last one!
"Sonny, you were a prince among men. Love,"
- Lieutentant Schwantz
"You were the nastiest, Sonny. Kisses,"
- Kim Dong IL
"May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. All my love."
- Commodore Fucksworth
"Nobody did the old ladies like you did!"
"You're the stickiest! Mwah!"
- Jean Claude Van Cock
Toby was no fool. He’d lived in Chicago for 8 years and knew full well what awaited him on a northbound 36 bus at 2pm on a Tuesday. 30 minutes of silence and dodging looks from the chronically unemployed and homeless. It was the middle of the day and rather than walk 2 miles to his home or shrug 4 blocks to the train station, he had chosen the laziest option available. He would stand completely still for 30 minutes in the cold and wait for a bus that would deposit him directly in front of his studio apartment.
Toby took the path of least resistance in all matters of physical exertion. He took to ellipticals at a particularly young age. “To save my knees” he told his friends. In truth, running just seemed like too much work. He also found the lies of the elliptical’s calorie counter and mileage calculator too generous to resist. Often, after a particularly grueling ellipses, he would treat himself with a cigarette or three - small reward for trekking 3 faux miles.
But real miles were to be avoided at all costs. Toby hated walking. The city charged him 100 dollars a month for an unlimited fare card and he squeezed every cent he could from those monsters. So in all travel, Toby took the CTA. He knew that once he had exceeded 35 trips on the el or the bus systems, he was, in effect, getting a free ride. It pleased him greatly to think that he was screwing the city.
When the bus pulled up to his stop, Toby threw his newspaper to the ground and strode to the bus’ entrance.
“You shouldn’t litter, fat man. It’s bad luck.” said a voice.
He turned to see a woman living in a cardboard lean-to adjacent to the bus shelter.
“You know what’s bad luck? Being homeless.” Toby high-fived himself on the inside. Top notch stuff for a Tuesday, he thought.
Below is a transcript for a commercial for Ed Neely's Acting Class. It is not intended as an endorsement of any kind.
ED NEELY SCHOOL OF FACE ACTING
I’m a face actor. People call me El Visage which is funny because it sounds like the name that you’d give a boat. A boat you’d win in a divorce settlement. I don’t coach the physical, the emotional or mental components of acting…no no. I strictly coach the moneymaker. The face. The dust cover of the soul, the front fender of the heart. Fuh fuh fuh face. You may not know my work but you definitely know the disciples of my work. Behold! SitCom Magic:
Coworker proposes a ridiculous solution to a paper jam in the copier.
(Straight to camera, deadpan.)
Wife enters the living room screaming about the sports car her zany husband bought.
(Straight to camera, lift the eye brow.)
The lovable toddler glued his own butt to the toilet again!
(Straight to camera, double eye brown. Relax lips and pretend to blow out a birthday cake from the other side of the room.)
(eating a gyro)
Face acting works because it tells the audience how they should feel about something that just happened. Did a main character just die? Time to feel sad. Did that baby pony just learn to walk? Time to get hopeful. By the way, it’s called a foal! Is there a garbage fire in your shed? Isn’t that where you were hiding the kid’s Christmas presents? Ay yi yi.
But don’t take it from me. Listen to these fabulous faces!
Tyler Johannson, 17
(Cool World with Tyler and Toby )
Before I took Ed Neely’s face acting class, I was a deadbeat kid with no future. I had problems at school and I nobody liked me. Now, people always know how I feel – whether I’m acting in my own TV show or inter-acting with chums.
Tord Sorenson, 36.
(Tord Sorenson’s Junkyard Excursions)
Before I took this class. I thought that emotions were something for other people. Which is fine because I didn't know any other people. Now, I can fake it and make money in Regional commercials for junk dealerships.
(Holds up radiator to 1988 Astrovan.)
But what if I don’t want to get rid of this old radiator!
(Home Alone Facial Gesture)
Michelle Cresent (nee Shatstank)
(Corpse #7, House of Death)
Thanks to Ed’s class, I discovered that I have non affective Asperger syndrome – I haven't booked anything yet. But at least I know why I didn't cry at Me-Maw’s funeral.
(Looks to camera)
How sweet it is!
Fun Fact: Cool isn't just a state of mind - it’s an emotion. Double Fact: We’re not allowed to call this a class anymore, it's a workshop. Class indicates that something will end. This is an open-ended commitment to showing how you feel without using things like subtlety or context.
This commercial is over!
Ed Neely Face Acting Workshop. Get It In Your Face!
By day 5 it was the kind of bathroom only a survivalist could appreciate- the kind of guy that dogs fear. Air conditioning, the running water, everything had been dead for 5 days. Hurricane Isabel had cut a swath through Mechanicsville and the rest of central Virginia--felling thousands of trees, telephone poles and homes. Cars had been sent skittering across the streets by winds that topped out somewhere between howling and “we’re all gonna die!” After Isabel had decided she’d had enough of my hometown, residents of towns like Mechanicsville, Studley, Beaverdam and Cold Harbor were grateful but we didn’t know that we’d have to wait so long to get our power back.
So, you sit in your den and you sweat. You stick to the couch from the heat. You sweat. You remember liking your den once. Only it’s not a den anymore. It’s more like underwear after a 5 mile run. Everything smells like running shoes. You then ask yourself why you’re in the den when the TV doesn’t work. You don’t have an answer.
But the biggest problem at the moment was that 4 people, all blood relatives, had to share a bathroom with no running water.
In the country, your plumbing operates using well water, which requires a pump. A pump that runs on freaking electricity. No power means that every time you flush, the tank empties and has to be refilled manually. So, every day or so - to get that delicious clean water - we’d raid the swimming pools of various neighbors. An unspoken agreement: you let me use your pool to flush my toilet, I won’t use your pool for a toilet.
We loved aspects of those bucket raids. If allowed to raid unsupervised, the durability of the minivan’s speakers would be “battle tested.” My brother, Stephen, would squat by the sliding door, two buckets in hand. So that no time would be wasted opening the door from a dead stop, we held the sliding door ajar as we drove 35 mph to the target objective. Once we touched down, Stephen could bound toward the unsuspecting neighbor’s pool more efficiently. Not that it mattered. Sometimes he would commando roll out the sliding door while the van was still in motion. Years ago he had surpassed Patrick Noble as the neighborhood crazy kid, these tactics only solidified his legend.
My sister, Laura, was typically behind the wheel of our wood-paneled Chrysler Caravan. On these errands, she would aim the minivan down the target’s driveway at around 25 miles an hour. Usually, she would slow down before Stephen made his stunt exit. But not too much. She’d been pushed to the brink by five days without running water. Ordinarily the most relaxed member of our family, I hardly knew her now. Her playful, verbal jabs-the hallmark of our family meals had turned malicious and cruel the last few days. She was getting personal with her insults and even Dad avoided her.
But there were no guarantees that we would be allowed to make a raid on our own at this point. It had been 5 days since we last heard the dulcet tones of a decent toilet flush. Our parents smelled gamey and their behavior had become erratic. Manners had gone out the window. On day one, it was “Please try to conserve the water, kids.” Slowly that morphed into “Don’t let me hear you flush that toilet. I swear to Christ, don’t let me hear you flush that toilet! Do you want to go to the Jenkins house with five 10 gallon Home Depot buckets? ‘Cuz I don’t. And I don’t think your mom wants to either!” We’re over 50, we can’t be doing this everyday. Unless you’re trying to kill us. Are you trying kill us? Because I didn’t ask to die today. I don’t think I did. Mother, did I ask the Lord to take us today? I didn’t think so. Don’t LET me hear you flush that toilet!”