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Friday, July 27, 2007

PHAMALy's Urinetown: #1 Show (tee-hee-hee)

I slipped in last night for the preview performance of PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical. What a treat!
Sometimes I think there is a tendency to regard PHAMALy productions as a bunch of disabled people singing and dancing and putting on a show, when I think it would be more accurate to describe it as a very talented and dedicated group of performers putting on a show, and, oh, by the way, they all have disabilities.
On the one hand, I think that it's great that PHAMALy gets as much media coverage as it does, because it sends the message to people with disabilities that possibilities exist. On the other hand, I wonder sometimes if so much of the media coverage comes about because a theatre company of people with disabilities is something of a "token" idea. Editors love the "human interest" element, so the media coverage is disproportionate to the coverage of other theatre companies in the area. (Can anyone tell me the last time that another theatre company got front page on the Post?)
Again, I do not wish to begrudge PHAMALy the exposure, but part of me wonders if the excessive coverage doesn't somewhat diminish the merit of the performance itself. To say "Regan Linton is a terrific actress in a wheelchair" almost sounds like more of a qualification than a description. Regan Linton is a terrific actress. Period. (Bit of a scene-stealer, too. My companion and I giggled everytime she came on stage.)
So I resolved myself to the idea that, if Urinetown was not up to the standard of any other theatre company that I would write about here, I wasn't going to devote a blog to the show. I felt that it would be a disservice to the integrity of the company.
And the truth is, while I am a big supporter of PHAMALy, and have enjoyed every show that I've seen them do, I was a bit reticent about the choice of Urinetown: The Musical for this particular company. After the cast list was announced, I found myself a bit unsure about whether everybody in the show was in quite the role that best suited their talents.
Add to that a bit of backstage drama to which I was privy (heh, heh,"privy"), and it is safe to say that I was not sure when I walked into the Space Theatre last night whether or not I was going to be wowed by what I saw. And "wow" was the make-it-or-break-it criterion for my mentioning it here.
Well, since you are all reading a blog called "PHAMALy's Urinetown: #1 Show (tee-hee-hee)," you have no doubt surmised that the "wows" were plentiful.
Kathleen Traylor will knock your socks off with "It's a Privilege to Pee." The choreography under Cindy Bray, Debbie Stark, and Teri Westerman has raised the bar for the company and the ensemble has cleared that bar with ease. (Well, maybe not with ease. Mark Dissette's perspiration, to borrow Regan Linton's description, looks like a special effect.) There is much to like, to love, about this show. If you're put off by the title, don't be. If you're unsure about the subject matter, get over it.
PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical gets a must-see from one of the most arrogant know-it-alls in the Denver theatre scene.
(Me. I'm talking about me. Try to keep up.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

At It Again

When I heard originally that Spotlight Theatre was going to be running Ray Cooney's hilarious farce, Run For Your Wife, back-to-back with its sequel, Caught In the Net, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Generate an audience for the inferior sequel by preceding it with the original. Spotlight artistic director Pat Payne, in addition to being a very clever director, has a real genius for marketing. In fact, I purchased my ticket for the sequel the very night that I saw Run For Your Wife because Pat shrewdly offered a discount for pre-sales.
I walked into the West Colfax E-vent Center last night, pre-sold ticket in hand, quite content with my bargain, and fully prepared to enjoy myself. It wasn't going to be as good as the original - sequels never are - but I was sure that it would be fun.
Well, like the old saying goes, "when you presume, you make a pres out of u and . . ." no, that's not right . . . Well, anyway, Caught In The Net is far from inferior. It is at least as brilliant as its predecessor if not more.
I don't know how to explain this phenomenon, except to hypothesize that all parties involved must have simply "caught their stride." Playwright Ray Cooney has raised the level of hilarity to almost breakneck levels. Director Pat Payne has honed the comic timing down to a razor-sharp edge. Bernie Cardell now so embodies the manic, quick-witted, polygamist John Smith, that I seriously hope Bernie is having his blood pressure monitored off-stage. Clint Heyn's much put-upon Stanley Gardner is at a whole new plane of zany desperation. Bonnie Greene takes her "straight-man" routine to all new levels, and Haley Johnson is even more amazing than last time. (I'll admit that I have almost no objectivity where Haley is concerned, but see the show for yourself, and I'm sure you'll agree.) Throw in Brad Greening and Chesney Oxenham as the two teens Smith and Gardner are trying desperately to keep apart and Bob Leggett as Gardner's senile and lecherous father, and you've got a show that doesn't simply tickle your ribs, but very nearly breaks them.
You do not need to have seen Run For Your Wife to thoroughly enjoy Caught in the Net, but there are still two opportunities to see Wife if you haven't already. See the website for details.
As if I could recommend this show any higher, Pat Payne, a regular reader of this blog, is offering a special offer for the Saturday night (tonight) performance. Mention "One Big Bad Wolf" and tickets are just $10!
Don't I take care of you, piglets?
Unless I hear differently from Pat, this offer is for TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE ONLY, so shake your curly little tails and get down to the E-vent Center tonight.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ever Just the Same, Ever a Surprise

When one goes to see a community production of Beauty and the Beast, like Front Range Music Theatre’s production at the Lincoln Center which I saw last night, one has a pretty good idea of what to expect: an enchanting and fun musical fairy tale.
There will undoubtedly be a beautiful and plucky actress with a cheery uplifting songbird voice to give life to the lovely bookworm heroine, Belle. In this case, that role is filled sublimely by Michelle Anton, whose alter ego is that of a first-grade school teacher in Longmont.(My first-grade teacher was a large, ill-tempered woman named Eula Mae Morris who used to hit me with a ruler. I got hornswoggled.)
You can also reasonably expect that there will be a dynamic ensemble of funny and delightful characters. Front Range’s production definitely does, particularly in the personages of Jim Miller as the amorous French candelabrum, Lumiere (No, it is “candelabrum.” Look it up.), Lloyd A. Norton as the befuddled and charming Maurice, Scott Gagnon as the egocentric Gaston, Bryan Bell as the cowardly but devoted LeFou (in addition to being the choreographer), Jalyn Courtenay Webb as the mothering Mrs. Potts, and many, many more, including a couple of my favorite people to watch on stage in the chorus, Kendra Jacobs and Aaron Quintana. (Aaron also assistant choreographed.)
You can also expect that the community production will absolutely break the bank to supply high production values like amazing costumes, show-stopping dance numbers (forged, if I may remind you, by Bryan and Aaron), impressive sets, and a number of clever affects, including performers who actually fly off-stage.
What you might not expect is to see that the other title character isn’t played simply as an alternately snarling and mugging cartoon. You might be surprised to see a character rather than a caricature, a portrait of a deeply troubled and sensitive creature whose irascibility and brutality mask a lost soul on the brink of despair. You might not expect to be so moved by this man/monster’s internal transformation as he sings the beautiful and sad, “If I Can’t Love Her.” You might not expect to see that, but I did. Of course, I knew before-hand that the role was going to be portrayed by my good friend and one of this area’s favorite performers, David Ambroson.
Fun for the whole family, and running a scant two weekends, you don’t want to miss this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Plan Ahead

Hey, time to be proactive!

I expect that the following two upcoming shows will sell out:

PHAMALy's Urinetown: The Musical opening July 27th.

NextStage's Assassins opening August 4th.

Avoid disappointment and get your tickets for these A.S.A.P.

Just looking out for ya, pork chops.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dog Days of Summer Theatre

"Hot enough for ya?"
I used to try to come up with a clever comeback whenever someone would say that to me.
Now I just kick them in the shins.

Well, you know what's fun to do on a nice warm summer evening? Go see a show!

Here's a few to look at this week:

Beauty and the Beast - Front Range Music Theatre
Henry double-nominee David Ambroson as the Beast.

I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change - The Avenue Theater
I'm hearing lots of good stuff about this one, piglets.

Not Now, Darling - Miner's Alley Playhouse
I already told you about this one, kids. you know I don't like to repeat myself. (Okay, yes I do.)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Paragon Theatre
Always good stuff coming out of Paragon. I'm anxious to see their take on the classic.

Caught In The Net - Spotlight Theatre
Got-2-B LOL sequel to Run For Your Wife. I'm going Friday night. I'll let you know.

Get out of the heat and take in a show!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Childhood Is Not For Wimps

The moment when life begins is a point of much contention in modern society. Some would argue that life begins at the moment when a woman says, “Whooh! I think I’m buzzed!” Others draw the point of genesis further along the gestation time-line.
However, no matter when it actually begins, the introduction of life into this world creates an immediate, wholly-involved, symbiotic relationship between you and another human being that will last for at least eighteen years. The roles of child and parent must be clearly defined, rules and boundaries must be set, and consequences must be consistently and immediately established. It is important to begin setting the parameters of this relationship immediately following birth; otherwise, you will never be able to exercise the necessary authority over your parents.
After the birthing process is complete, it is crucial to create a bond with your new parents. This is a relatively easy task to accomplish, but do not underestimate its importance. The warm maternal and paternal feelings you stir in these people now will carry you through years and years of selfish and narcissistic behavior on your part. Eye contact is very important with both mother and father. Even when breast-feeding from the mother unit, you should at least attempt to give a cursory glance toward her face. (If she does not breast-feed, take note of this. You will be able to use this to your advantage later.) In the case of the father-unit, you may also want to try grabbing his thumb. If done successfully, you may actually hear him say something like, “I promise to give you everything you ever want.” If this happens, it is appropriate to smile. Just try not to laugh.
Over the next few months, your new body will be growing and adjusting. Your mobility and strength will be limited. It is important to remember, however, that you are far from helpless. The bond that you have created with the parental units will facilitate most of your needs, wants, and, let’s face it, whims. Your power comes from the appropriate use of your orifices. You all got the handbook already, but let me just remind you of the basic sequence: Cry. Eat. Cry. Barf. Cry. Sleep. Cry. Poop. Cry. Repeat. You will use them individually and, when necessary, simultaneously, in order to systematically strip away the individual personalities, personal hopes, and independent will of your parental units. Notions like “someday writing a book” and “pursuing my music career” are not representative of the kind of thinking that will keep you in Playstations and Skechers, and, therefore, must be eradicated. If you are not the center of their universe, you are not doing your job.
As you begin to explore your facility with speech, be very careful to avoid the consonants of “d” and “m” for as long as possible. The parental units are desperately hoping to hear you utter the words “dada” and “mama,” and the longer you hold out on these two bits of gibberish, the greater your dominion. Helpful hint: give up the “dada” first. This will result in increased attention from the father unit, and perhaps even a repetition of the “everything you ever want” sentiment. (Remember: don’t laugh.) This will also result in increased attention from the mother unit hoping to elicit a “mama” as she questions her maternal abilities and laments her decision not to breast-feed. Do not let the span between the first “dada” and the first “mama” exceed more than three days, however. You will need her to retain at least some measure of sanity for the next few years yet.
As soon as you are feeling steady on your own feet, it is time to begin the basic training phase of the parental units. This should be something that is done at least once daily without fail. There are no “days-off” during this period. Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Halloween – these are working holidays.
First you must establish a “want.” This can be a toy, a piece of candy, a trip to McDonalds - it doesn’t really matter. You will cast it aside, anyway. The point is the “getting,” not the “having.” Once you have decided upon the desired item, you must get it, or more specifically, get the parental units to get it for you by using a variety of techniques.
The first technique is called persistence. You need to wear down their resolve. Be prepared to repeat the phrase, “Please Mom?” indefinitely and with increasing degrees of urgency. Keep count of the number of repetitions required before getting a result. You’ll want to beat that number the next time. You should always be improving.
Another highly effective technique is the tantrum. Ideally, the tantrum should occur in a public place, the more crowded the better. Scream. Drop to the ground. Kick your feet. Throw things. If the parental unit attempts to pick you up or touch you in any way, scream louder. Pull back as though burned, and yell, “Ow! You’re hurting me!” If you really want to see results fast, follow this with a cry for help.
Perhaps the most effective technique is the pout. This affects the guilt receptors in the parental unit’s inferior brain. The more pitiful that you can make yourself look, the better. If you can do it with a straight face, you might even want to use a phrase like, “If you cared about me” or even better, “I thought you loved me.” Practice these in a mirror whenever you get a chance. Just don’t get caught.
If none of these techniques work, then I am sorry to have to tell you that you have been saddled with the unenviable predicament of having what is known in the industry as “responsible parents.” I’m afraid that you have no choice left but to arrange to walk in on them having sex. Make sure to point and ask lots of questions. Again, try not to laugh.
This now concludes the childhood portion of your lessons. The seminars on teen and pre-teen behavioral reinforcement techniques will be provided annually at summer camp. (Make sure to put that on your “want” list.) You may want to begin proactively memorizing phrases like:
“I hate you!”
“Jenny’s mom trusts her!”
“I wish I were never born!”
“I think I’m old enough now for you to tell me I’m adopted.”
“You don’t care about me! You didn’t even breast-feed!”
The childhood years may be a bit trying at times, but don’t give up. Remember who’s in charge. Be firm, be consistent, and give no quarter. Obedient parents do not simply happen overnight.

Friday, July 13, 2007



Sing it!


Spell it!

F-r- double--

No, the long way!



Hello, my plucky little red-hooded wanderers, did I ever stumble across a deal for you.
From Jenny Hecht, President of Next Stage Denver:

Want to see Assassins for free?

Of COURSE you do! Who doesn't want free tickets to a show???

Next Stage is in need of the following volunteer help. Volunteer and you will see the show as our guest to thank you for your time and energy! Please contact Jenny Hecht at
com if you are interested and available.

4-5 folks to help with load-in the weekend of July 28/29
5 folks to help with set painting (time/date TBD once we have volunteers..
.will be before July 28)
2 people to help backstage and work with our amazing S.M., Mary Coan (since these folks cannot watch from the house, they will receive 2 comps for friends/family for use opening weekend)

Thank you in advance for your consideration and your help!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Boo! Hiss!

Sad news. The Diamond Circle Melodrama will come to an end soon, and the future of the Diamond Circle Theatre inside the Strater Hotel is uncertain.
The who? The what? The where?
Yeah, this isn't Denver news. This is a story from the little town of Durango, former stomping grounds of a certain much-adored Big Bad Wolf.
I was never involved in the Diamond Circle Melodrama after I got started in acting, because I typically spent my summers in Summit County during high school. (Ain't divorce nifty, kids?) However, I do remember seeing one of the melodramas when I was a bit younger and thinking, "It's like a living cartoon!" Pretty cool when you're a kid, and a lot of fun when you're an adult as well, this melodrama.
I had my community theatre debut as Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Diamond Circle Theatre when I was sixteen. That was with The Durango Lively Arts. I don't know if they're still putting on shows or not, but that was a fun group. I got my first singing lesson from our Joseph, a nice guy named Aaron Diem. I also got my first taste of being backstage at a real, live theatre. (My high school didn't count. We had a carpeted stage, and they stored wrestling mats in the wings.) When the twenty-something-blonde diva who played Potiphar's wife walked past me backstage in nothing but underwear, heels, and a smile, that was the moment I knew that I wanted to be an actor.
As one might expect, there's a bit of melodrama surrounding the closing of the melodrama, so here and here are two links to more of the story.
Support local theatre, wherever you are. No fooling around here, piglets, these places don't close because their houses are full.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Henry Winners

Congratulations to all Colorado Theatre Guild Henry Award winners!
For a full list of winners and Henry night coverage with slide-show, check out John Moore's article.
In particular, I'd like to congratulate Elgin, Kitty, Emily, Tom, Nick, and the ensemble of Dog Sees God.
Good on ya, guys. Good luck finding a place to put your award where it won't creep you out in the dark. (Shudders.) I don't know, CTGers, that "Dancing With the Stars" Disco-Ball monstrosity is actually starting to look pretty good.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Onward and upward

Here I am at post #101 for 2007. (#115 since I first started it. It probably would have been cooler if I'd caught it at the actual #100.) I know some of you are a bit timid about posting comments, but have made your appreciation of this blog known to me in person or via e-mail. Well, you're welcome. And thank you for reading.
I don't know that I've changed the world in the last 100 posts (I fully intend to within the next 100), but I hope I've put a couple of butts in seats that might not have been occupied otherwise. I hope that I've had some part in getting a few "newbies" into audiences. I'd like to think a couple of restaurants have received a patron or two that they might not have otherwise. Maybe somebody saw a movie that they hadn't planned to, or avoided shelling out $10 for a movie that wasn't worth it. (Ghost Rider.)
I have been neglecting music and books of late, but I will work on that. I need to make time to read something other than all of these dry textbooks, anyway. I think musically, though, I'm going to track down some more obscure stuff for you. I'd also like to look into a few more local artists and bands, etc. (If you have suggestions, please let me know in the comments.)
I like to say here that this is "my blog, my rules," but I'd like it to be at least a little bit useful to you all out there. Oh, I'm still going to have my egocentric rants, and I'm still going to refer to you all as "piglets", "piggies", "red-hooded cherubs" and such. That's not going to change. (Big Bad Wolf. It's a theme, kiddies.)
Still, I'm open to suggestions. (I'm also open to ignoring suggestions. Depends on my mood.) If you thought that Ghost Rider was a brilliant cinematic achievement, feel free to tell me so. Then go watch The Guns of Navarone. (I won't even ask you to apologize afterward.) What I do ask is that if you disliked a local theatre production that I recommended, please don't disparage it or the cast in the comments. When it comes to local theatre, I'd like to try to keep things positive.
I will be conscious of making a distinction between shows I have seen that I recommend, and shows that I'm recommending on the basis of cast, company, content, etc., but have not yet seen.
I will also be sure to be clear about why I am recommending a show. Performance Now's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Hunger Artists' Letters To Home are about as dissimilar as two shows can be. I enjoyed them both for very different reasons, so I will endeavor to make my reasons as clear as possible.
I encourage you to use the comments section to keep me posted of upcoming events in local theatre, etc., but if you'd rather not do that, then please e-mail me at (You might want to reference "Big Bad Wolf" or "theatre blog" in the subject line, so I don't mistake you for spam.)
So, onward and upward. Keep reading, keep supporting local theatre wherever you are, and feel free to drop me a line from time to time.
See you here next time, my little bacon bits. (Ooh, I like that one!)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hungry Like The Wolf: Darcy's Irish Pub

Last night (and into this morning) I was caught up in the bachelor party revels for my friend, Kendall Rohach, who will soon be marrying PHAMALy performer and designer, Carol Kelly. I won't tell you where and how the evening ended, because, one, I don't want to violate any of's morality standards, and , two, what happens in south Denver stays in south Denver.
I can tell you, though, without fear of reprisal, that the evening started at one of the groom-to-be's favorite haunts, a cozy little Celtic watering-hole and eatery in the heart of the DTC called Darcy's Irish Pub and Bistro.
Now, as the designated driver of the evening, I cannot comment on the many fine beers and cocktails that Darcy's offers other than to say that my compatriots were certainly enjoying theirs poured and mixed for them by the lovely Shannin behind the bar.
Never one to pass up Irish cuisine, I ordered up a very tasty shepherd's pie made with real sirloin. Three words: Erin go bragh!
My good friend Bob Lovejoy, a devoted PHAMALy volunteer and confirmed herbivore, also found that the menu offered a bit of bia feoilseantach as well. (Vegetarian food.)
Two bites into my shepherd's pie, and I knew that I would be devoting a blog to Darcy's, so I figured that I'd better order a dessert as well. Heidi, our very attentive and beautiful server, recommended the bread pudding. I asked amiable manager, Joe, for a few extra spoons so that I could get a bit of input from my fellow party-goers. He happily obliged. However, the boys didn't have too much to say. They were too busy devouring the thing. The few bites I managed to get for myself receive my highest recommendation, but the true endorsement of Darcy's bread pudding may be that it made an entire bachelor party stop drinking for a solid two minutes. That's a powerful pudding!
I highly recommend Darcy's if you're looking for dinner and drinks in the DTC area or even if you're not in the DTC area. (It's worth the trip.)
I think I'm going to have to disagree with Citysearch's contention that Darcy's is not for kids. We were there from six to nine-thirty on a Saturday night and I saw nothing to suggest that it was inappropriate for wee bairns. I even saw a few kid-friendly items on the menu. After 9:30, what are you doing taking your kids to a pub, anyway?
Citysearch also maintains that Darcy's is not romantic. That I could see, because, as atmospheric as the little pub is, with such fair lasses as Heidi and Shannin walking about, you just might get busted for a wanderin' eye by your lady love. Eyes forward, lads. Eyes forward.
I loved Darcy's. I recommend it. I'll be going back.

By the way, PHAMALy's next production, Urinetown: The Musical, opens July 27th in the Space Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I caught a preview at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival this morning. It's going to be fun.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"It's definitely locked."

It's a big summer for Ray Cooney here in Denver. Spotlight Theatre Company is producing both Cooney's Run For Your Wife as well as its sequel, Caught in the Net throughout the summer, and Miners Alley Playhouse has brought to the stage Cooney's sexy farce Not Now, Darling (co-written with John Chapman.) The latter I had the great fortune of seeing tonight.
Darling is a prime example of the sort of razor-sharp British comedy that I so covet, and Miners Alley's production is absolutely spot-on with its mistaken identity, bawdy situations, scantily-clad women, and escalating comic peril. (Yes, Norman, I said "scantily-clad women." Go on your mother's bridge night.)
It's lots of fun, and there are great performances all-around, though, Christian Mast does manage to steal a few scenes as the unforgettable Arnold Crouch.
This one gets a high recommendation from me, piglets. It's very funny and very sexy. Enjoy!
(A word of advice: get there early and sit in the center section. The side seats are somewhat obstructed by two pillars that are there to, you know, hold up the ceiling.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We Hold These Truths . . .

I have decided to start a new Independence Day tradition for myself. Every Fourth of July, I will pull my copy of 1776 : The Musical off of my DVD shelf and dust it off for viewing. (Actually, it doesn't gather much dust. I love that show.) Today, though, I can leave my copy on the shelf as Turner Classic Movies has taken it upon itself to show the widescreen, uncut version of the movie as it is meant to be seen. Uncut? Let me re-phrase that. Uncensored. Yes, in 1972, President Richard M. Nixon, having seen a pre-release screening, pressured the producers to remove a few scenes and one entire musical number, "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men," which he felt to be an indictment of the Republican Party and potentially influential in the 1972 elections. The studio caved, and the scenes were removed.
Thankfully, nothing like that could ever happen now. Right? (The scenes are fully restored on the DVD.)
A very book-heavy musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it is not as light and airy as many other "Broadway-to-Hollywood" favorites, but I find it highly informative, provocative, and damned entertaining. It is surprisingly accurate for a musical, and what artistic license is taken is largely forgiveable.
By the time you read this, it may be too late to catch the TCM airing, but I encourage you to rent the DVD and watch it this weekend. And, if you should have the opportunity to catch a live production of the show, do so. (Town Hall Arts Center's recent mounting was particularly good.)
Every American should know the story (somewhat dramatized or not) of the beginning of this country, that, for its many flaws, is still the best damn country on this planet. The future is what we make it, and I think a look to the past can give us a clearer perspective on where we ought to go.
Plus, I dare you to not tap your feet to "The Lees of Old Virginia."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Portrait in Courage

If you haven't seen Hunger Artists' Letters To Home yet, I highly encourage you to do so before the show closes on July 7th. As I watched this show, I was moved by the words of the soldiers who traveled away from their loved ones, their motivation to defend an ideal that we hold dear in this country: the ideal of freedom.
With that in mind, please read this story from the New York Times, about a courageous group of young actors right here in America.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Whoah, Speed Racer

We’ve all seen the commercials with that sleek sedan careening around highways and street corners as though on rails. Sure, there’s a little disclaimer on the bottom of the screen: “Professional driver. Do not attempt.” Yeah, whatever. We’re being sold on the fact that the car goes fast, and we want that car. We want to be able to go fast. Zoom-zoom. I loved to drive fast, myself. However, it is important to note that there are consequences to driving fast that I think far outweigh the advantages. This was not an easy lesson for me to learn. I hope that I may make it easier for you.
First, let’s talk about safety. I could throw all kinds of statistics at you from the Safety Belt Commission, the Department of Transportation, and any number of other organizations that have devoted a great deal of time and energy to compiling data about the dangers of fast driving. The fact is, though, I don’t know that those statistics would carry any more weight with you than they ever did with me, which, sadly, wasn’t much. Frankly, I don’t want to overload you with a bunch of numbers at this point anyway. I will have enough numbers for you when I discuss the issue of time. Instead, I would like to appeal to your logic. Is it not safe to say that the driver of a fast-moving vehicle has less time to react to an obstacle in the road than the driver of a slower car? Is it also not safe to say that it takes a car traveling at sixty miles per hour longer to brake to a stop than a car traveling at thirty miles per hour? I would say that, given these two facts alone, there is little room to argue that a speeding driver is in a far more precarious position to himself and others on the road than a driver who is observing the speed limit.
Another fact about speeding that should be more of a deterrent than it actually is, of course, is that fact that it is illegal. One might argue that speed limits ought not be required, but, if your logic could find no flaw in the above paragraph, then you must acknowledge that at least some limitations should be placed on vehicle speed, if not for the safety of the driver herself, at least for the safety of the others on or near the roads.
Does everyone who breaks the speed limit get caught? No, of course not. I violated speed limits for over a decade before I had to deal with the sickening sight of those red and blue flashing lights, and a mustachioed face poking in my driver side window with the question, “Do you know how fast you were going?” Why was I speeding that particular time? I was running a few minutes late for work. As a result of trying to make up those few minutes, I got a pretty substantial fine, my insurance premiums took a mighty jump, and I was late to work that day by much more than a few minutes. While I had managed to elude the consequences of my lead-footed driving for many years, when they caught up with me, they caught up with me in a big way. I remember, too, having the arrogance to think that one ticket every fourteen years wasn’t really such a bad average. That was until I got a second ticket three months later. I’ll admit that the legal argument for slowing down is not quite as compelling as the safety argument. At least, it isn’t so until you actually get caught. However, the consequences at that point are significant.
I guess the question really is, “why do we drive fast?” There are a few out there, myself once included, who choose to drive fast simply because it is more enjoyable. We’re sitting on all of that horsepower, why not use it, right? Well, I’ll answer those speed demons in a moment. Most people, however, break the speed limit because they simply want to get where they are going faster. The question, though, is just how much faster are we getting there?
This is the part where I’m going to bring in the numbers. If you enjoy crunching numbers, please feel free to check my figures. If you are math-phobic, however, then just trust their accuracy based on the fact that I really had hoped that they would have turned out differently myself.
First, let’s break miles per hour down into miles per minute. Few of us in our daily commuting and errand-running actually drive for hours without having to stop for lights and such things.
Thirty-five miles per hour, a city standard, works out to about 0.58 miles per minute. Essentially, if you drive for one mile without stopping, it will take you about one minute and forty-three seconds. Traveling at forty-five miles per hour, that same mile will take you roughly a minute and twenty seconds. Traveling ten miles over the speed limit saves you 23 seconds per mile, provided that you don’t encounter any stop signs, crossing guards, red lights, or slower drivers. So, barring any obstacles, you can save yourself almost a full four minutes on a ten-mile drive to work, and all it may cost you is an accelerated heart rate and a slight spike in your blood pressure. Oh, right, that, and the endangerment of your own life and all of the other drivers, passengers, cyclists, pedestrians, and wildlife that you encountered on your trip. Well, golly, that’s such a small price to pay when you consider the terribly inconvenient alternative of leaving five minutes earlier. Sheesh!
Even on a hundred-mile road trip, the difference between traveling sixty-five miles per hour and eighty-five miles per hour amounts to about twenty-two minutes, and that’s only provided that you don’t encounter any slower-moving traffic along the way. How often does that happen? The fact is that the minutes that you could save by speeding don’t amount to very much at all, especially when compared to the lives you can save just by slowing down a little.
Now, for my fellow adrenaline junkies who, to quote Tom Cruise’s Maverick in Top Gun, “have the need. The need for speed!” I have to point out a sobering fact. When we take into account all of the aforementioned factors, we can come to only one conclusion. We are being selfish. This is not simply the “I’m-going-to-play-my-car-stereo-so-loud-that-I-shake-everyone-else’s windows-at-the-stoplight” kind of egocentric selfishness. This is dangerous selfishness. There are other ways to get that adrenaline kick that don’t endanger by-standers.
Still, all of the statistics in the world might not be enough to deter you. Speeding fines could be doubled or even tripled and you might not be dissuaded from your fast-moving ways. The mathematical reality of the futility of speedy driving may have little impact upon you. None of these things much affected me, either. Then about a year ago, I met a beautiful young actress and dancer named Regan who charmed me thoroughly, and whom I now consider a friend. Five years ago, Regan was sitting in the back seat of a car stopped on an L.A. Freeway due to traffic and weather issues. Her car was hit from behind by a driver who was driving too fast to stop in time. Regan now spends her days in a wheelchair. She is one of the strongest, happiest, sexiest, talented, and most enchanting people I have ever met, but she has not walked, run or tap-danced in five years because one driver was too selfish and self-important to drive with the necessary care or diligence. What might my speeding have cost someone else some day? What might yours?
So now I drive a little slower. I listen to the radio and even sometimes sing along. I stick to the right lane, and let those who insist upon driving fast go right on around me and on ahead. (I usually wind up beside them at the next stoplight. I smile at them. They hate that.) I find that it usually doesn’t take me much (or sometimes any) longer to get where I’m going. I leave early when I can, and when I can’t (or don’t), and I find myself running late, then I accept that I am late, and I deal with the consequences of that tardiness. I find that those consequences are far less severe than any of the potential consequences of speeding. I find that I enjoy driving a lot more now than I did before.
Whatever your reasons are for breaking the speed limit, let me encourage you to question them now. Whether you’re trying to beat the clock, beat the system, or just trying to beat that anonymous guy in the Dodge Viper to the next stoplight, take a moment at that stoplight and think about all of the reasons I’ve listed above. Then take another second to think about the beautiful dancer in the wheelchair. Is it really worth it?
Is it?