Here is a magnificent Maine story--I've seen this barber shop, and I'd like to thank Pat for bringing it to my attention. It is amazing what cool stories exist--it makes you wonder why anyone bothers with fiction.
Anyone who runs across stories and tidbits that fascinate should feel free to mail me with the details...you'll be credited on the site, you'll feel good for sharing and it's fun.
My friend Colleen works at the United Nations. She writes:
Wanna come over here for lunch? I can give you the backstage pass and we can poke our heads into the Security Council if they're not in session. You can also check out the totally sublime *carpet portraits* of all the Secretaries-General, a gift from the government of Iran to the UN. Also, such classics as the Date Tree, the Elephant Schlong, the Weird Basement Where All the Conferences happen, and lotsa other stuff.
I have rarely been as excited for a lunch date in all my life. More as it develops.
This week's Time Out New York has 21 Dog Years mentioned in an article on Urinetown as another show that has risen from the New York International Fringe Festival. I've seen Urinetown and enjoyed it immensely--if you are in New York you really can't miss it, as I think it is poised to revitalize Broadway, or at least show that some alternative to pasteurized, homogenized crap is possible. It's fun, infections, subversive and I loved it...if you love musicals, you may not be as amused, or you may enjoy it even more as it artfully lampoons the form.
Sadly this article is not online, nor an additional article which is a roundup of 25 up and coming theater artists, in which 21 Dog Years' scenic designer Louisa Thompson is featured, as well as yours truly, which is great for the show's publicity and, since we are not eligible for Tonys, says some very nice things about the show. It's nice to get a mention like this when there are thousands of actors and hundreds of productions at any one time--it makes me feel really good about being here, and the work that we're doing with the show.
On a smaller, but no less important note: someone brought me flowers! You may think this happens to actors all the time, but other than the opening when I was drowning in flowers, this hasn't happened. Even cooler, they were magnificent yellow tulips from the charming Amy Fusselman, who's book is indeed haunting and strangely unnerving. Thankfully Fusselman is neither of these things, and when she came to the show on Wednesday she came with flowers.
Also on Wednesday I received a package from Amazon.com. This is notable since I have not received one since my employment, as I no longer shop at Amazon...I miss it, but I was worried that if I shopped there I would get embroiled in some sort of political stance, like I would be reviled for "selling out to The Man," even though I've never really railed against ordering from Amazon, ever.
At any rate, since I never order from them people were freaked out when a package came to my manager addressed to me from Amazon. I was pretty certain it was innocuous, but others were convinced that some sort of Geek Armageddon was nigh.
They were right, sort of--it was Geek, but no Armageddon. It was this, sent as a gift by the long lost Rob O'Bannon.
Rob was a tech guy and occasional acting member of the sketch comedy group UP IN YOUR GRILL which I founded with Cory Nealy in Seattle. Rob was an early assistant and very vital to keeping things running--when we were doing a new show every week, Rob was vital to keeping it all flowing.
Then, one day, Rob freaked. He ran away, didn't call or write, and when people ran into him he told them that we should just consider him dead...and then he moved to Japan to teach English.
Well, a lot of people took this hard. It is difficult--you know that sometimes people need to reinvent themselves, but nobody likes being told, "Oh, consider me dead." It pisses people off.
Over time, Rob contacted everybody from Japan and made peace with each person in turn...except me. I refused to answer his emails. I was pissy and silent. I think I was in the right, but I certainly didn't show any generosity of spirit by not writing--and embarrassingly, the biggest reason was StarCraft.
You see, Rob had borrowed this game from me right before he went AWOL, so I never got it back. And I used that as an excuse to remain silent--I wanted my damn game, but not enough apparently to ask for it. Noooooo...I had to simply complain to others and delete his messages as they came in.
Finally, about three weeks ago, I got another message from Rob and wrote him back. It was nice, to finally write...and I mentioned that he still had my StarCraft game. He writes back, apologizes...and now the game has returned, in better than new form.
As geeky and dorky as this story is, the point is that I never actually missed my game that much--as you can see, it's pretty cheap to replace. I think I was hurt by his departure and his silence, and it took me a year and a half to figure that out, but I am terribly thankful that I did, because, as they keep telling us whippersnappers, life is short.
My only other Rob O'Bannon story: one night after a show, we were driving away from the theater when another car pulled up alongside us and a girl flashed her breasts at us. Then that car squealed off, and Rob gunned his engine and started chasing them. We were alarmed--he was driving really aggressively. Tynes told Rob, "Calm down, why are you chasing them?" to which Rob immediately and maniacally replied, "I'VE EARNED THIS!"
He did in fact catch up to the car, and the woman in question did indeed show her breasts again, which could be used as an object lesson in perseverance or traffic safety, depending on how you see the situation.
Iceland is weaning itself off fossil fuels over the next thirty to forty years. Ambitious.
David Rakoff writes a very amusing review of his own reading in this article for Seattle's lovely newspaper, THE STRANGER. I suspect the good fish tacos he had were the ones from Taco del Mar, which are indeed quite wonderful.
Wow--the Joey Reynolds Show is a huge subject, worthy of a much longer entry where I can describe the all night conversation in deeper detail--it was a really neat experience.
In other radio news: I will be on NPR's Talk of the Nation today as a guest as we discuss the past, present and future of the Internet. I am the Ghost of Internet Present, and will be on from 2pm EST today all over the country, doing my finest impersonation of a raving talking head as I pontificate on where we are now. I'll try my best to make it funny, too, though NPR actually fines you $100 every time you make the host crack a smile or when the jokes are too low-brow. I'm bringing a lot of cash.
I will be appearing tonight as a guest on the Joey Reynolds Show--if you don't know Joey Reynolds, Leader of The Royal Order of the Night People (his moniker, not mine), read about him here. It's the most highly listened to overnight show in New York City and it's also heard in 100 additional national markets between 1am and 5am. I've always wanted to do overnight talk radio, as it's one of my favorite communication niches--I believe that the kind of audience you get listening in the dead of the night is a dedicated, elite and eclectic one...from my days as an all-night security guard I have a soft spot for the folks who stay up with the late shift. From what I can tell, Joey is an old pro, and I bet I'll be in good hands. If you're up late tonight, give it a listen on 710 AM in NYC, and check the website for airtimes elsewhere.
For the first time, Seattle is being used as an out-of-town try-out city for a big Broadway musical. It's HAIRSPRAY, the big John Waters' ffilm that's making the jump to the stage at the 5th Avenue Theater from now until June 23rd. I am not a big fan of musicals, but HAIRSPRAY looks interesting to me as it isn't all syrup and sweetness, and I endorse anything that raises Seattle's cred as a place you can test theater professionally. It's a thorough article by Misha Berson, who is the doyenne of theater in Seattle, and I bet she's as excited as I am that Broadway is turning their attentions there.
A great piece by E. B. White from 1936 is reprinted in the New Yorker on a demonstration of television technology.
Well, I finished the audiobook today--it has been exhausting, but well worth it. I'm excited to see what the whole thing sounds like when it is pulled together, and it shocked me to learn that it is SIX HOURS long. Six hours! Concrete proof that I did indeed edit down, sharpen and clarify to make a show version that runs in 80 minutes.
I had a great encounter yesterday. I was waiting in the casting offices at NBC, and just after I sit down three people come in. Two women and a man, and collectively these people had about 3% body fat amongst them. I couldn't be bitchy though--I mean, they looked great. Windblown, sunblown, just generally colored and pixilated with health dazzling out of them. I sat in my slumped chair, scruffy, heavy and dour while I watched the two women immediately begin an incredibly intense conversation about their appearances. The two actresses would stare at one another, and one would ask, "Do I look good?" and the other would nod vigorously and then say, "You look so great, so sexy, so great!" Then they would reverse and do it again.
After five minutes of this, they then discussed lip gloss with a fervor and intensity I have rarely seen. It was at this point that each woman asked, "Is my lip gloss okay?" and the other two would nod.
Then the man asked, "Is *my* lip gloss okay?" Silly me, I thought this was a joke, and I smiled...but then I looked more closely at this young Adonis and realized that he was wearing lip gloss.
I could be wrong, but I do not believe NBC is considering us all for the same roles.
An excellent article by Doctorow on the MPAA's efforts to plug the "Analog Hole". These bastards want to regulate our cameras, VCRs and anything they can get their hands on. It's important stuff people should know about, and this article lays it out in clear terms.
It's been a while since THE ONION rocked my world, but they did it with this shocker:
Factual Error Found On Internet
I am recording the audiobook today, which is a fascinating process--it incorporates the acting and writing elements of my work, like doing the show live does, but since it is completely book-based it's a...well...more "literary" version. I'm enjoying it a hell of a lot more than I thought I would, as I had feared that instead I would be smacking myself in the head over and over as I read tortured sentences...you see, after turning the book in I haven't read it again, since in my mind that would seem narcissistic, unnecessary and difficult since I can't actually do anything about any problems and errors I detected. Thankfully I have just stormed past chapter three, and after a brief break I will go back in a soundproofed chamber and read some more. So far, so good.
Also, Amazon started shipping the book today, which is a little odd as it is weeks before the on-sale date...I don't know if it means they are really excited about it, or want to be the first kids on their block selling the book about themselves, or if indeed it means nothing at all. So if you have preordered, it is winging its way to you right now.
This also means that soon the Amazon customer review section will be live, and the great debate will begin--I hope that people do post some reviews, and of course I want them to be good. I just hope that a negative one written by SkoolHACKER16@aol.com doesn't rise to the top, telling the world that I suck. Time will tell.
I need to get back to recording.
For the record: I have hit two words in the book so far that I pronounce incorrectly when I say them. Let me tell you, that is a humbling experience.
An interesting article in the Times over the weekend that breaks down the cost of a Broadway show, dollar by dollar. It made me thankful my shows aren't musicals, though we would have kick-ass costumes and dancing girls were that the case.
My friend Wil Forbis has started a wonderful page regarding the upcoming cancellation of Politically Incorrect, one of the few shows in popular culture that actually has some spontaniety, and for what it lacks in reasoned discourse it gains in irreverency and bluster. Check it out:
Jihad Against Cowardice - a Defense of Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect
This was shamelessly stolen from Slashdot: It was recently reported in eWeek that "A senior Microsoft Corp. executive told a federal court last week that sharing information with competitors could damage national security and even threaten the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. He later acknowledged that some Microsoft code was so flawed it could not be safely disclosed." (Emphasis added.) The follow up from Microsoft is even better: As a result of the flaws, Microsoft has asked the court to allow a "national security" carve-out from the requirement that any code or API's be made public. Microsoft has therefore taken the position that their code is so bad that it must kept secret to keep people from being killed by it. Windows - the Pinto of the 21st century.
Busy, busy, busy day--I've been on CNBC's "The Money Show", then quickly over to NASDAQ to do "Yahoo Finance Vision", which I gather is a web-based streaming video show. More interviews the rest of the afternoon, and then two more shows--I am writing this from my press agent's office, surrounded by Broadway show posters, reviewer video piles and giant books of theater house seating charts, right in Times Square. It feels like something out of SHOW BUSINESS, I tells ya.
Tonight I do a doubleheader of 21DY, and then I'll be trying to post again, because I have some interesting developments with the book to recount--I've been too wrapped up to do that lately, and I need to get back on the horse.
Enough with the cowboy metaphors!
This article from Wired News' Leander Kahney uncovers the fascinating conspiracy in Hollywood: good guys use Macs, and evil guys use Microsoft. Silly, but it made me smile.
I'm on CNNfn today, on "The Money Show", talking about the book and show with some footage from the Off-Broadway production. It should replay a number of times, I've been told.
From the New York Post: SHAQUILLE O'Neal may be even more fun dead than alive. After the 7-foot, 330-pound Lakers center lost his grandmother recently, he started thinking about his dream mausoleum. "I thought it would be all marble, with Superman logos everywhere. There would be stadium seating, and only my family would have the key, and they would be able to go in there and sit down, like in a little apartment," he tells Rebecca Mead in next week's The New Yorker. And not far from his massive coffin would be a constant reminder of Shaq Diesel's livelier days. "My grave would be right there, and there would be a TV showing, like, an hour-long video of who I was." Just who is he? O'Neal says, "Shaquille is corporate, nice looking, soft-spoken, wears suits and is very cordial to people, whereas Shaq is the dominant athlete who is the two-time champion." The baller has yet a third identity, an evil alter ego he's named Elliuqahs Laeno. "That's my name spelled backward . . . He stays out all night, tries to practice the next day, isn't focused. He's dead, though. I killed him."
The morning after...and what a night it was! I have never been inundated in so many flowers in my life--it was like attending my own funeral when I got to the dressing room, only it wasn't wasn't as grim as that. People were dressed up and looking good, which is something I associate with big show openings, but it was eerie to step back a moment and realize that it was our little show that was doing the opening and creating all this hubub.
I have rarely been as nervous before performing the show, which was odd since doing the show has been second-nature to me for weeks...hell, months and years at this point. But last night everything was different because it was an *opening*, which made it simultaneously easier and more challenging due to the fact that two hundred people were there to be supportive and to celebrate the long trip we've been on. I'm used to audiences who are there to be entertained--these folks brought the entertainment with them, and the energy ricocheted off the walls.
When I stepped out on stage and the lights came up people immediately started applauding...and that's weird, as I had done nothing except stand still. But I learned a long time ago that the audience is always right, and if watching a large man stand silently on stage is what makes them happy on this one night, God bless them.
Then I performed the show, and it was like working with a really big puppy--the audience was so happy and enthusiastic I had to calm them down from time to time to keep the puppy from knocking me down. It was like nothing I've ever experienced, and I'm so grateful that I got a real opening night...it's very special.
After the show the producers gave gifts to Jean-Michele and I. She was given an exquisite signed, first-edition bound play by Edna St. Vincent Millay...the racy poet who founded the Cherry Lane Theater where we are performing. It is a beautiful, beautiful book.
And for my part, the producers gave me the most indulgent, perfect gift I have ever received: you can find it here. I could never buy this for myself, especially the large one--and even better, it's engraved with the opening night's date on the back. I can't wait to have an excuse to sit on the subway and listen to music.
Then there was the opening party, which was an extraordinarily fun affair--people were ready to throw down and have a good time. Highlights I can remember this morning through the haze include:
---Listening to Allan Mawhiney, an old friend of my father's, debate at length with Larissa, a wonderful Russian artist. Larissa has a tendency to take extreme positions, and so does Al, so they ended up fighting over the nature of American Bees versus Russian Bees. I mean, really getting into it, complete with threats, insults and long, colorful descriptions of each other's heritage. It ended in a draw.
---Introducing my father to my editor, who told my dad, "I am very happy with the progeny you have sired." I felt like a prize-winning dog.
---After hours of shaking hands and not eating anything, Al suddenly produced giant subs that he brought from Providence for us, and they were one of the best unexpected meals I've ever had. The East Coast does sandwiches right. After a lot of canapes, what you really need is roast beef.
---Learning that my publicist at Simon and Schuster can't say no to parties, drinking and staying up late, which raised her stock considerably in my eyes. I just wish she was traveling with me on the book tour.
---Watching Jean-Michele in rare form--she belted back a lot of drinks and then began arm wrestling every woman in the room who would have at her. People kept beating her, and as she was beaten she would uluate and shout in a psychotic, Katherine the Great voice,
NO! YOU WILL NEVER BEAT ME! NEVER! NEVER!
Then she danced on top of a table, flashed lucky boys (and girls) glimpses of her undergarments and generally tore up the place. I don't know what others look for in a wife, but I found everything I could ever want in mine.
Good times, good times.
Fantastic article in the Economist on Cult CEO's as fallen idols. Really good and meaty stuff--the only article I've seen in a business magazine that cuts to the heart of some of the issues I've been addressing on stage and in my book. That's good, because I'm humorous--and the world needs boring people to tell it the truth too, as they never listen to the funny people until it is much too late.
Today is opening day, a high holy holiday in the theater world--I have always loved it. All things are prepared, all the work has been done and now only the show remains at the heart of everything, which is a relief and simultaneously creates a seed of terror at the thought of all this work, coming down to this. We're Off-Broadway, so it isn't quite as snazzy as a Broadway opening where black-tie is de rigeur, but everyone will be dressing up in gowns and suits, there's a big party afterwards at a hip restaurant and lots of drinking and carousing.
The funny thing about this day is that people think it is all about the star, which would be me, but in reality it's a day for the audience, the producers, the directors and stage managers and everyone else. That's good--they've earned it with dedication and time and effort. You see, doing a show eight times a week carries a certain weight--you can't overindulge in drinking at your own party, as you will be doing the show the next night once more, and you don't want those people to suffer because you're hung over. You also need to perform--in many ways, it's a lot like a wedding, which is also an event people think is for the bride and groom, but is really held to celebrate the couple before their friends and family.
I'm not griping--far from it. I love openings, and I've never had a more exciting one. I've had one wedding, and I never imagined I'd be lucky enough to have another while remaining with the same woman--and in fact it feels that way more than ever since we've worked together on this for fifteen months.
Of course, tomorrow the reviews will come out and render their judgment. This is a pesky subject for this blog--traditionally, performers do not comment on reviews, as it is tacky and tasteless. At the same time, I usually link to things from the site, and also I feel a need to keep readers updated.
So here is my compromise: I won't be linking to any reviews. They should start coming out tomorrow, be they good or bad, and since you're all smart people who use the Web you can probably hunt them down yourself now that you know they are coming. I'm also going to refrain from commenting on the theatrical reviews in Dilettante, to keep some distance between these worlds.
Reviews, schmeviews. Enough of all that. I have some work to finish up, plans to make and a show to open. On this rainy Thursday from New York City I send a big shout out to all the folks I've worked with, past and present, from Seattle to London to Maine.
I wish you could all be here tonight.
I haven't written an update in over a week, and that's rare for me--I think that a lot of it has to do with the incredible pace things are moving at as we hurtle toward the opening tomorrow. At the same time I feel badly that I've left so many in the dark...so let me try to catch everyone up with some tidbits from the previews:
�David Byrne (of Talking Heads and many cool projects fame) came and saw the show last week--I don't know if he liked it, but I could see him smiling from the stage and that will have to suffice for now. I would make a joke about him wearing a gigantic white suit, but I bet he gets that a lot so I will refrain.
�On preview #7 I kicked one of the lamps over on my entrance, totally destroying the lamp and knocking the lamp's metal cover nearly into the front row. Thankfully no one was hurt, and being show business we didn't acknowledge it, but I felt awful that these nice people who came to see the show almost got a lamp in their face. The show turned out especially well, probably because I was compensating.
�On preview #8 there was glow tape showing me how not to kick the lamp over on entrance.
�In the second week, as I was leaving the theater two older black ladies stopped me to tell them that the show made so much sense to them that they would be bringing everyone from their workplace. I asked where they worked, and they said the Manhattan court system...proving again that the show is about a lot more than dot-com shenanigans.
�On preview #11 I thought my pants were unzipped for the first 20 minutes, and that my genitals were visible to the audience. I got really, really paranoid and wanted to check, but you can't check if you are zipped in a one-man show--people notice that. I became totally and completely freaked out, and in the brief lighting changes between sections kept checking my pants, but I appeared to be zipped. That is the last time I will take strong cold medication before performing. One of the producers, who saw the show and thought it was a killer performance, commented that from now on they'd just make me paranoid before every show to ensure top-notch acting.
�On preview #17 my water cup exploded when I was banging on the table, and 80% of the water landed on me. I normally sweat in the show, but this evening ended with me looking like Sailor #6 from THE PERFECT STORM.
More than anything else, this has been a fantastic time for me and for the show...I feel like I've compressed years of learning down into just three weeks, and in a sense I have--as of tonight we will have performed the show more often in New York than in the entire four month run in Seattle, and I am so grateful to Jean-Michele, my producers and the audiences who make it possible. I've learned a lot, and I'm grateful that I'm getting the chance to do work I love for a large audience, and to feel like I'm connecting with audiences with both comedy and intelligence. It's worth doing, and that's the coolest thing anyone can say about their job.