All Hallow's Eve. They say this is the night when the walls between worlds are their thinnest, and i can believe it--I feel thin and drawn out myself, almost transparent this morning. I know that I need more sleep, but I can't seem to get it--things have been happening with such intensity that I feel like I'm worn away in places. It's not an entirely unpleasant feeling--it's familiar to me, from other runs. It means the show is up.
Sorry to leave any of you hanging after the opening--that was bad form, but I was a wreck yesterday the next day. I was taken by surprise by the generosity of spirit of the friends, family, colleagues, artists and perfect strangers who came to the show Wednesday--what an avalanche! I was happy that I'd experienced the Off-Broadway opening so that I would have the skills needed to ride that enthusiasm properly, and keep the audience with me...it often felt as if they wished to simply fly off the rails entirely and fling themselves up at the rafters. Crazy.
But lovely--as they say, these are the kind of problems to have. I had lunch with my sister yesterday at Wild Ginger, one of our favorite restaurants...JM used to work there, long ago, and I returning always reminds me of who we'd eat all our meals there on the sly, since we couldn't afford food that summer. Mary is going to run the New York Marathon--she flew to NYC last night, and her most earnest desire is to beat P. Diddy's time. I have no doubts that she will handly kick that mutherfucker's ass. Fo shizzle, mcnizzle.
Today I am judging a pumpkin carving contest over at Intiman, which I am excited about, as it means I will be assured of doing at least one Halloween-y thing today...we often screw up Halloween, because somehow it all turns into costume parties that I don't feel like dressing for because I wear costumes for work, and frat-boy dance parties I am now a little too old for. I am hoping to visit Annex Theater's event being held in an abandoned house, after...
...CONVERSATIONS WITH BART.
You see, after the show tonight there's this lobby event where the audience can stay and Artistic Director Bartlett Sher talks with them about the show. I'm taking part as well, and I'm excited because the title
CONVERSATIONS WITH BART
is, for some reason, the most evocative name to me. In fact, for weeks every time JM and I need to speak with Bart, we'd tell the other,
"I need to talk to Bart today."
"Oh? Do you need to have a CONVERSATION WITH BART?"
"Oh yes. I need a CONVERSATION WITH BART rather badly."
Then we giggle.
I keep imagining that the CONVERSATION will be like a live theatrical rendition of My Dinner With Andre, complete with a superlong table, across which Bart and I will trade quips and bon mots over a crisp, dry Merlot.
This is, however, unlikely. Instead there will probably be a lot of audience questions, we will sit in normal chairs and I'm quite looking forward to it--when you do a one-person show, you like talking to the audience after the show because if you don't you end up hanging out alone, reading a book, wondering how you could go from talking to 400 people to nobody in a twinkling. It's kind of creepy.
Also, Bart is really sharp, and in that respect it probably will be like My Dinner With Andre...and I hear there is wine and cheese and suchlike in the lobby afterward, so if anybody wants to do an impromptu staging, I'm sure we'll be up for it.
Opening Day. Man, I love this day--it always feels like a birthday, but better because you've worked for it and slaved for it and then it blooms, full-grown, in front of you. The weather in Seattle is cooperating, which is very polite of it, and it feels like every person we know or are related to in the Greater Northwest is coming to see the show this evening.
Jean-Michele and I have been busy making gifts all day, over which I think we have fought more than we did during the entire artistic process of mounting the show here at Intiman. I take that as a good sign of our continued stability--if we were able to work together AND make crafts together without incident there would probably be something seriously wrong.
Given the fluid nature of the show there has been a surprising number of last-minute changes--I'm locking those down now, and then will retreat to the Meditation Chamber to prepare for the show.
There's a big party after the show this evening, and then a more hard-core party after that...and after that, amazingly, JM and I leap into THE UGLY AMERICAN. Not so much "leap" as "stumble", since we'll be hungover, but that's the plan, Stan.
Love her or hate her, Camille Paglia always manages to express a boatload of radical opinions and viewpoints in an amazingly short space. I've always enjoyed the way she galvanizes me, both positively and negatively.
On the complete opposite side of the bench, the New Yorker has a pretty fantastic interview with one of my favorite people, Tina Fey. I've only met her once, which is one more time than I've met Paglia, but this quote speaks for itself: “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”
So very true. She's brutal, and I love her for that.
Simple equation: work for Microsoft, mention how even Microsoft loves Apple's new G5, provide picture...and find yourself unemployed. Who's at fault? Frankly, the blogger--he choose to work for Microsoft and forgot that the company is not only an exceptionally savage corporation, and somehow also forgot that Microsoft has never had a sense of humor. Ever.
He describes the actual moment of firing, and has some honest, straightforward thoughts on the issue. I admire his candor and restraint.
Best of luck finding a new position, Michael.
Check out this story on the Rock, Paper, Scissors World Championships. Great stuff.
What a fantastic day off--almost nothing happened. I did some writing, watched a little TV with my baby, read a little, cleaned up the computer, laundry...all the desiderata of normal life, enjoyed to its fullest because I was not in a theater.
And sleep! Lordy there was a lot of sleep. I feel like a new man now, and I'm very excited to go across the street tonight for the final preview.
Last night I got to visit two of my favorite places: Ruby's on the Ave, and B&O Espresso on CapHill. We had a lovely dinner at the bohemian-by-way-of-Burroughs lair of Ruby's, and a chocolate pot at B&O. The chocolate pot is what it sounds like: a small pot, heated, with a kind of souffle-y chocolate within it. What a great idea. Mr. Tynes accompanied us and we talked about all manner of things, both great and small, and mercifully forgot about the show for a time.
Be warned that an intense solar flare will hit the earth tonight at midnight, PST. I'll be watching for auroras if there's a break in the Seattle cloud cover.
How I miss the Gowanus Canal, and the assorted beautiful trash of NYC.
Super frustrating Stephen Glass interview in Salon today--he loops back on himself repeatedly, contradicts himself often and, in total, sounds like a skittish crazypants. It did make me want to see the film more than any other news has about it.
It's Monday, the theater day of rest, and I am doing so. As such, there is little to report, and I am going to spend time in the non-virtual world, ensuring that I'm ready for the opening on Wednesday. More later.
Views of California burning, taken from low Earth orbit. Gah.
It finally happened--I have offended some of my readership with the Siegfried and Roy photo, who question its taste. Yes, it's in bad taste--but that's how S&R dress, darlings. I can't fix that.
Last night's preview was exhilaratingly fun, and JM has really kicked ass today with Greg, the lighting designer, on kicking out the last of the tweaks. It's a world of difference from where the show was just a few days ago, and it's hard to believe how much has happened so quickly. Had some great conversations during tech today with the gang--everyone here is so bright, and I love the way we can talk about all sorts of topics while lights are getting focused. It's a lot more fun now, since things have begun to work cleanly, and that's reflected in the amount of fun people are having.
Another preview tonight, and then mercifully there is a day off, which means I can start catching up. I owe The Stranger a 3000+ word article for an upcoming issue, and I need to really dig into that, as well as domestic issues (laundry, banking) and even more writing in advance of the end of the month. It'll be nice to rest the theater muscles and switch to other forms, though.
Point of clarification: in a recent interview I am quoted as saying:
...the Daisey plan for the cultural enrichment of the United States. "Get rid of all the subsidies for the arts," he says. "Just institute universal health and dental care. It would be a great boon to the arts and artists. When you're young -- sure, I can sleep on the floor, I can write or rehearse at night and temp during the day, I don't need benefits, I'm healthy. But that doesn't last. People want to get married. They want to have kids."
I stand by those words, but that's not really all I said on the subject--I emphatically qualified that it's obvious that this is not an if/then equation--arts funding is a miniscule amount of the federal budget, whereas universal health coverage would be a huge program. This quote out of context has been spiced up so I sound more gonzo-esque, which I can appreciate, but I don't like looking like I support cutting arts programs--they're so damn small already that they aren't going to make a goddamn difference on any budget, anywhere, and the richness they bring out far outweighs the cost.
Blah blah blah. Maybe I'm just being sensitive, and it doesn't read that way, but when I read that I thought I sounded like a moron.
Enough of that. Back to the theater, and then a day off.
Well, we have survived--though there are a lot more challenges ahead, I think we just passed the greatest hurdle by getting through yesterday.
The runs were both very solid, but I spent more energy than I should have on the first one, which made it hard to deliver completely in the evening...and since the evening was when there was 300+ people on hand, it becomes very important to deliver then.
Also, I haven't got my arms around the space yet. Bart has mentioned that the space has a warmth which can beguile, and I believe him--strangely, the performer feels like he is more connected to the audience than the audience does back to the performer, which can create a false sense of security from the stage. It's almost hemispherical, this space, which means you have to carry thoughts and actions out into arcs that address sweeps of the audience, rather than planting and sending moments in specific directions. Last night involved a lot of discoveries like that, but the lovely preview audience was a perfect resonator and partner for figuring out the lay of the land.
After the shows we did PUSH, which was a lot of fun...UP IN YOUR GRILL rode again, and we chose to do a sketche from memory that hadn't been performed in 4 years, and the weird thing is how well it *did* go, or that we were able to do anything at all. I'd say we were definitely there for the fun, since a lot of the other acts were actually very sharp and on their game--there was a big assortment of talent on hand, and it made me really glad that the festival has continued to live under Val's leadership.
Speaking of Val, she picks me up in a few minutes for a SketchFest forum, after which we have an afternoon of lighting and technical changes, followed by tonight's second preview. I have to admit, this is pretty seductive--if every regional theater were as cool as the Intiman, I might have problems returning to my garage theater origins. They are so damn competent, and there is a mastery of craft that makes it a pleasure to create there--everything is aimed toward the clarification of the show, and while JM has a very difficult job I think she's getting some world-class support from these folks. We're in a good place.
Today's the day. Final dress is an hour and a half away, and then it's first preview this evening. It's a lovely opening day--the sky is bullet blue, and if I didn't know better I'd think Seattle imported the autumn crispness from the northeast. Everything is ready.
That's the problem, actually--everything *is* ready. In a way it's easier to be in tech--it's longer and more abusive, but the expectations are off me, which is nice for a change...until they come rushing back, as they have now. I haven't found my pacing in the theater--it's a big space, though it is impressively easy to make connections with the audience, and I'm just going to have to trust that all the things I've done so often and worked on will fall into place. It remains an unsettling feeling, which I guess is the ultimate sign that I am not taking the show for granted.
Amazingly we are actually planning to get over to the Seattle SketchFest tonight for PUSH, the new performance cabaret. We'll be doing something with our old gang, UP IN YOUR GRILL, which should be great--at that point I'll be deliriously tired, which is often a good space for comedy.
Jesus, that was a tech and a half. I took a few pictures--here are the highlights:
Here is the stuff we've been fueling ourselves with through the 12 hour days at tech. Nice thing is, Intiman actually bought the chocolates--they are a classy operation!
Here's an action shot, taken after I've drank too much of that coffee. You can see someone setting actual cues and fixing a light on the set--very sexy!
The crew banded together and brought an amazing number of misfit action figures to be warrior minions after I foolishly promised to incorporate them into the show. I am deliriously happy here, about to order these small soldiers to end this tech once and for all.
A good time for everyone. Now it is on to previews, where the scores can really change.
That was fun--I just did a long piece on KZOK, for the Bob Roberts show. Turned out very well--he's actually really good at going from loud, raucous interplay with his show buddies back down to a surprisingly focused interview, with a voice that has a lot of range and depth to it. Cool guy.
Stephanie accompanied me to the interviews, and specifically mentioned that she has been wondering when folks from Intiman will start being talked about by name in the blog. Well, Stephanie, the answer would be right now.
I also did a book interview right after, which was solid but not quite as remarkable, and now I need to grab breakfast and make my way to tech. I am going to try and bring the camera today and get some pictures of the theater so that folks can see what the wonderful world of theater looks like in tech. Get ready for bleary eyes, short fuses and a lot of coffee. Oh lordy, there will be coffee.
We teched last night until nearly midnight, and now it is 8am--I have two radio interviews this morning, back to back, and then it is back into tech. Today is going to be a long day--we are experimenting with how light passes through the plexiglas elements of the wall, and it can be slow going. Still, spirits are up, and the director is getting some much needed sleep in the other room--she's the one most of these decisions rely on, between the two of us, so I am glad for her.
My ride's here. More later.
Here we are in the brave new world--things look pretty nifty, I have to say. Many kudos to Mr. Tynes for his indefatigable efforts in hoisting this design aloft--all the successes are his, and the errors my own.
The site has been drastically simplified and unified, which I hope will make the whole both more pleasing to look at AND mean that it all gets more play. naturally most of the activity will be here at the blog, but the new design should help ensure that other areas get updated a hell of a lot faster than they used to...and even if they don't, that it will look better while laying fallow.
Since this blog once again went underwater a number of important events have happened--I am not in NYC currently but instead Seattle, where I am putting 21DY up at the Intiman Theater. We're heading into tech rehearsals today, so the preceding week has been a flurry of 5 and 6 hour rehearsals where I spoke the show, shifting sections, tuning and retuning the arc of the story. JM has been tireless, and as a consequence I have been very tired--but I feel the end result will be more than worth it, as this version of the show is stronger, leaner and runs with a buoyancy we've never achieved before, while still keeping all the threads intact.
I'm enjoying Seattle a lot, getting back in touch with lost of people I haven't seen in a long time--the Seattle SketchFest is going on, a festival I started 5 years ago, and it's been amazing to see how Val Bush has taken the ramshackle beginnings I laid and really run with them. I'll be performing there on Friday night as part of its experimental comedy evening, PUSH, and then on Saturday I'm part of a forum on sketch comedy.
Maybe we will even see a resumption of more frequent posting on my part, now that the site has been updated, but I think I will follow a mantra we used at a workplace I used to inhabit: underpromise and overdeliver. With that in mind, have no expectations for this virtual space...you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.
I can feel it! The new site is emerging! It springs from its larval form to face the horrible world!
When will regular updates resume? When will the site finally be updated? When will this graphical design be retired and a new one instituted? When will I say something about being in Seattle? When? When?
Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things: "At 7-Eleven's new 'hot beverage stations,' customers will have a choice of more than 1,300 combinations. A minimum of five varieties of coffee, four flavored syrups, seven different tea bags, five toppings, creamers, sweeteners and all types of milk will be available at each station. 7-Eleven's customers will make the drinks themselves, guided by store suggestions, thus avoiding waiting in line to order. The drinks will cost about $1 per cup instead of the typical coffeehouse prices hovering between $3 and $4."
Gawker: Lucky founding editor-in-chief Kim France responds to negative feedback -- for instance, when New York mag's Simon Dumenco referred to Lucky as "soul death": "'Does my jaw drop in focus groups where women look at the 'Ask the Editors' column' -- a relatively straightforward question-and-answer feature -- and say, 'I don't want to read that page because there's too much text there'? Yes. That freaks me the hell out.'"
Gawker: "We were all talking about the minimal yet somehow enduring appeal of far-away Los Angeles. I want to want to live there, I said. Maybe in 10 years, when I no longer care about my quality of life, someone said. Maybe, maybe I'll live there -- when they fucking run me out of New York, someone else said. After all, how could we leave behind the moments that make the greatest city great? On the street, spanking-new New York resident Matt overhears this exchange:
Women with two children (pointing): 'Ooo! Kids, look at the little doggie!'
Women walking dog: 'Why don't you take them to a fucking zoo?'"
My God. I can't believe it is finally coming down.
RIP, Yahoo sign. From the moment I hit down it seemed weirdly anachronistic but charming--and as a guy who commented on dot-culture, I enjoyed this stale reminder of corporate sponsorships past. Then it shifted to weird as it got older, and finally it became almost celebratory...after so long, SOMETHING remained. And now it is gone.
Sir Mix-A-Lot's '(I Like) Big Butts)'. In Latin.
magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
(Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.)
quis enim, consortes mei, non fateatur,
(For who, colleagues, would not admit,)
cum puella incedit minore medio corpore
(Whenever a girl comes by with a rather small middle part of the body)
sub quo manifestus globus, inflammare animos
(Beneath which is an obvious spherical mass, that it inflames the spirits)"
Only in New York does some freak keep a TIGER in his apartment. At least Roy had the good sense to have proper facilities, though ironically after this weekend the expert is in critical condition and the dude who owns the above tiger is in better shape.
He also had an alligator in the same apartment.
Whoops! Appears that Ms. Madonna is lifting images and material from Guy Bourdin. See for yourself. Not certain where the line for any artist lies between artful inspiration and outright thievery, but it would have been classy if she acknowledged it more and called in an homage.