Monday, January 31, 2005
All Stories Are Fiction #18:
PROFIT AND LOSS AND THE SPACE BETWEEN
Tallying our ledgers, and an accounting of the ways we do it.
Portland Center Stage
From the indomitable Ray Winninger:
These photos were taken yesterday. Apparently, Dick Cheney didn’t realize that maybe you should wear something black TO A MEMORIAL SERVICE AT AUSCHWITZ! In fact, maybe you shouldn’t dress like you’re about to go out and shovel the walk. Making the faux-pas even stranger--almost immediately after the service was over, he changed into the much more appropriate get-up he’s wearing in the bottom picture to attend the rest of his meetings. What was he thinking? “Ah, I’ll wait until AFTER the MEMORIAL SERVICE AT AUSCHWITZ before I put on my formal wear?”
(Best of Ray: see his review of Starship Troopers 2. Brrrrrrrr.)
"Microsoft has had competitors in the past. It's a good thing we have museums to document this stuff."
—Bill Gates, in a talk at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
On an entirely unrelated note: an amusing first-person account of trying to beat a lie detector.
An excellent article on how the iPod Shuffle will disrupt the flash player market. They don't have a lot of manuevering room left to them.
Gruber chimes in, exhaustively dissecting the entire keynote. Pack a lunch.
Xbench test results for different drives in the Mac mini. Conclusions: faster drives are indeed faster.
Finally, check out this abandoned Apple store from the nineties, freakishly preserved in Kuwait, with software still on some shelves.
The USS San Francisco rammed an uncharted undersea mountain at full speed...click on the thumbnail for a view of the full damage in drydock.
Is "maple sugaring" actually code for some sort of sexual practice between women?
Not that we uncovered.
A great example of the "it's not a flaw, it's a feature!" phenomenon--the new Playstation Portable has an unresponsive button, due to the design. What does the president think about the outpouring of unsatisfied customers?
"This is the design that we came up with. There may be people that complain about its usability, but that's something which users and game software developers will have to adapt to...I believe we made the most beautiful thing in the world. Nobody would criticize a renowned architect's blueprint that the position of a gate is wrong. It's the same as that."
More here. I really need to adopt this mindset when I'm working on things--then the world could magically conform to my every whim, so long as I keep living in Lollipop Land.
Very smart piece by Jack Shafer puncturing some of the blog hype at "Blogging, Journalism and Credibility" conference at Harvard.The premature triumphalism of some bloggers indicates that they haven't paid attention to how Webified journalists have become. They also ignore media history. New media technologies almost never replace old media technologies, they merely force old technologies to adapt and find new ways to connect with their audiences. Radio killed the "special edition," but newspapers survived.I couldn't agree more. As someone who got burned on hyper-idealism for new technology, I don't intend to get fooled again.
When television dethroned radio as the hearthside infobox and cratered the Hollywood box office, radio became a mobile medium, and Hollywood devoted itself to spectaculars that the tiny TV set couldn't adequately display. The competitive spiral has continued, with cable TV, VCRs and DVDs, satellite TV and radio broadcasters, and now Internet broadcasters entering the fray. The only extinct mass media that I can think of is the movie house newsreel.The danger of fetishizing a new technology (the Porta-Pak) or a new media wrinkle (the blog) is obvious: In the rush to define the new new thing and celebrate its wonders, the human tendency to oversell kicks in. Am I the only one who remembers how John Perry Barlow, drunk on the Web nine years ago, issued his ridiculous "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace"? In hyperbolic fashion, Barlow wrote, "We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before." Lenin subscribed to this sort of technological moonbeamism when he declared that socialism plus electricity would equal communism, and we know where that led.
Looks like I'm not the only person thinking about Johnny Carson, which isn't surprising, and some of the thinking has led people to find fascinating footage. Andrew Hearst's excellent new site, Panopticist, hosts video of Johnny Carson doing two cringeworthy and revealing pieces--one a sketch where he appears in blackface, and the other (and more disturbing, if you can believe that) is Carson interviewing a black actor and becoming increasingly jaw-dropping...it's rather chilling, what we accepted, and in many ways still accept. Download the video here--it's worth the bandwidth.
Hearst had the footage because it was originally compiled by Jamie Greenberg for his now-defunct media skewering show, Media Shower--Hearst wrote a piece on Media Shower in 2000, which is available online. Daniel Radosh encouraged Hearst to put the film up, and his commentary is here.
Last night Cabel and the Panic crew came to the show--i've been a big fan of Panic's software since last century, when their incredible app Audion changed the way I listened to mp3s, both literally (I started using Audion) and figuratively (Audion was so much better than everything else, hands down, that it made my iMac a viable music listening/storage device). They're a Portland-based software company that gets it, and their exquisite complete history of Audion is required reading--it's a wonderful self-analysis of the life-cycle of a shareware product on the Mac platform.
We went out after the show to Henry's, which is a stone's throw from our digs but we hadn't realized has the CHEAPEST BAR MENU ON PLANET EARTH--during happy hour almost everything is $1.95. $1.95! Soup! Fries! Whole pizzas! We felt like kings, and everyone was just fantastic, regaling us with stories from MacWorld, and I told my Secret Steve Jobs story, which I haul out only on special occasions when the food costs only 195 pennies.
I was talking about the previous night's ALL STORIES ARE FICTION at one point, and when he got home Cabel emailed me a picture he had taken previously of Nikola Tesla corner...and as soon as I saw it, I recognized the place. It's right on Bryant Park, and I think I've walked by there a hundred times. It's at the corner of 40th and 6th Avenue.
From an email from Kate:
For your belated birthday pleasure: a photo (attached) of me prowling around
the Gramercy Park Hotel, the contents of which are currently being
liquidated -- from table lamps to door knobs to the mail chute -- so that
Ian Schrager can totally redesign the charmingly shabby old place. I'd first
stumbled upon the pink ladies room several years ago, and was THRILLED to
revisit: those are little poodles strolling through the park there in the
pink and silver wallpaper.
Great picture, and the end of an era.
Salon article on the massive failures of both Michael and Colin Powell.
Before Janet Jackson's boob flopped out during last year's Super Bowl halftime show, prompting Powell and the FCC to unleash unprecedented indecency fines and call for further investigations -- a move some critics blasted as an assault on the First Amendment -- Powell was on the record dismissing concerns about raunchy programming, famously telling reporters, "I don't think my government is my nanny. I still have never understood why something as simple as turning it off is not part of the answer." Later he told the Washington Post, "It's better to tolerate the abuses on the margins than to invite the government to interfere with the cherished First Amendment." Since the announcement on Jan. 21 about his pending departure from the FCC, Powell has drifted back toward his original set of core beliefs, telling the Washington Times over the weekend that regulating radio and television programming clashed with his firm beliefs in the First Amendment and made him "uncomfortable." But he wasn't too uncomfortable to sign off on $7.7 million worth of indecency fines last year. That represented a $7.69 million increase in fines the FCC levied during Powell's first year on the commission.A friend of mine met Michael Powell early in his term as FCC chairman, and confided in me that he seemed to be a complete tool...a fact which became self-evident later, but it is breathtaking to see his stupidity laid out like this.
Cory Dotorow gets it, commenting on the foolishness of newspapers not making their online archives open--if the dinosaurs don't adapt, they will eventually be replaced in the online discourse, which is rapidly becoming the dominant and first-response discourse of the culture. Dan Gillmor gets into the nitty gritty of how to make it happen for the papers, and why they can't afford to wait.
Cory's other great idea today: a sticky pad for your fridge, where you can adhere glasses, Moleskine, phone, etc. I like that--my fridge is one of the few central nodes of the house where I can be assured I am returning to again and again.
Oscar noms are out..here's the NYT list. I'm unthrilled, to say the least. Come--take a walk through my bile with me.
The Aviator? I find biopics tiresome, and this one didn't even garner enough critical heat to convince me to go check it out in the theater...so naturally, it has eleven nominations. Then there is Million Dollar Baby, which I haven't heard anyone else tag for this, so I'll do the honors: terrible title. Terrible, terrible title verging on self-parody, in fact--and every review I read said this was thoroughly OK, if you can get past the hammy plot moments. Not promising, so I missed that one, too--seven nominations.
Finding Neverland had some wretched reviews, which helpfully pointed out
a) It's a biopic, which I don't usually like, and
b) It whitewashes Barrie's pedophilia/aberrant behavior as "the desire to be young, to be a boy, blah blah blah". What?
So I missed that as well--but Oscar didn't, with seven nominations. And the only thing that Oscar likes better than nasty, sketchy pedophiles is blind, friendly musicians, so Ray has to get a nomination for Best Picture, too--this might even be a good film, except that
a) It's a biopic, and
b) It's a biopic that exists so we can all coo over how much an actor "becomes" someone else--my least favorite kind of stunt casting.
Leaving Sideways, which i thought was a fantastic film--one of the best of the year by far, and certainly of this band of fuck-alls and half-wits that the Academy ended up nominating, easily the very best movie. Of course Oscar can't even do this one goddamn thing correctly, and so Paul Giamatti gets no nomination--apparently Eastwood doing his statue impression trumps Giamatti. Also, we all know that Thomas Hayden Church will get robbed on Oscar night, probably by Alan Fucking Alda.
It's cold comfort, but this is the year the Academy blatantly revealed how out of touch it is with most of America, by ignoring Fahrenheit 911 one one hand and The Passion Of The Christ on the other. I think that could be misinterpreted as the Oscars actually caring about films until you realize that Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind got a small nod for Original Screenplay and that's it. Pfffffttt.
Where's Kinsey? I don't like biopics, but that one at least had so much support, and was considered by many to transcend the genre. Oh, I'm sorry--it's about sex. Bzzzzzzz.
Talentless ass clowns.
"Joe has a pool cleaning business and he has a family of five children to support. He just started this new business LivingAdSpace.com selling tattoos on his body..."What?
Worse, Joe will now have the following tattooed on his arm:
"The tattoo will be on Joe’s right arm, and will say “Save Martha! Sign the petition to pardon Martha Stewart! SaveMartha.com”
More on the stupidity here.
Debbie Harry at the Pam Anderson exhibit.
Jenna Bush at the inauguration.
Wonderful obit by Edelstein at Slate for Johnny Carson. This was my favorite observation:Carson also perfected the art of making a joke that bombs even funnier than a joke that works--a mixed legacy, insofar as many modern TV hosts (among them Letterman) are more comfortable than they should be going out with second-rate material. Why was that talent so breathtaking? Because TV seemed a more earnest medium back then, too, and Carson introduced an exhilarating note of self-consciousness. In a late-'70s profile in The New Yorker, Kenneth Tynan noted that Carson could spot the flaw in his own delivery before a joke had even left his mouth. He had the fastest and most exquisite audience-reaction meter of any modern comedian: He knew when a bit had bombed so badly that it could only be salvaged by insulting the audience; when it had just missed and could be goosed into working; and when it had killed and could be ridden triumphantly into shore. (The only current host with the speed and agility of Carson in his prime is Jon Stewart, who goes politically where Carson feared to tread.)He makes some trenchant observations on Original Johnny versus Late-Era (L.A.) Johnny, and I think he's right on the money. Also read this Esquire profile if you're hankering for more.
My great appreciation to everyone who came out to the show this evening--it was a fantastic experience doing ASAF in Portland for the first time, and I can't imagine a more generous crowd. A special highlight was Nikola Tesla's granddaughter (or grand-niece, I'm unsure) at the show, who enjoyed the work and whom I'll be meeting for coffee later in the week.
Now we're going to get some food, and then descend into a deep coma...as we have another show tomorrow night, and there's no rest for the wicked.
Tonight, and tonight only:
All Stories Are Fiction #17:
"Electricity: Friend or Foe?"
From lightning to flashlights to Tesla to the ineffable spark.
Monday, January 24th at 7:30 PM
Portland Center Stage
$5 at the door.
Another opening day for ASAF--I'd be lying if I said I wasn't exhausted, but I'd also be lying if I claimed not to be excited. This is some of the work that most charges me, fills me with a deep knowing that maybe, just maybe, the things we've dedicated our life to are unique and worth the cost they demand...because they are ephemeral, and passing, and impossible to conceive happening in another context, and thereby help justify all the ridiculous labor that live theater is.
I'm off to walk, then to the theater and whatever comes. If you're in Portland, I hope to see you there.
(Elephant does not appear in show.)
More of this amazing sidewalk chalk art.
Self-laudatory hymn of Inanna and her omnipotence
from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament,
trans. S.N. Kramar, ed. James B. Pritchard
(3rd edition with supplement: Princeton University Press, 1969)
My father gave me heaven, gave me earth,
I, the queen of heaven am !!
Is there one god who can vie with me?
Enlil gave me heaven, gave me earth,
I, the queen of heaven am !!
He has given me lordship,
He has given me queenship,
He has given me battle, given me combat,
And he gave me flood and tempest.
He has placed heaven as a crown,
He has tied the earth as a sandal,
He has fastened the holy me-garment about my body.
The gods are my vassals: I, a queen am I,
The Anunna scurry about, I, a life-giving wild cow am I,
The life-giving wild cow of Father Enlil am I,
His life-giving wild cow that walks at the head.
When I enter the Ekur, the house of Enlil,
The gatekeeper puts not his hand against my breast,
The vizier says not to me, 'Stop!'
Heaven is mine, earth is mine,
In Erech, the Eanna is mine,
In Zabalom, the Giguna is mine,
In Nippur, the Duranki is mine,
In Ur, the Edilman is mine,
In Girsu, the Eshdam is mine,
In Adab, the Eshara is mine,
In Kish, the Hursag Kalam is mine,
In Dev, the Amashkuga is mine,
In Akshak, the Anzaka is mine,
In Agada, the Ulmash is mine.
Is there one god who can vie with me?
Tynes sent this wonderful account of a foiled doughnut heist--the doughnuttery (?) in question is pretty easy for us to get to in Portland--Voodoo Doughnuts, next to this great restaurant whose name I always forget that serves spicy Cajun food, is open late and they turn your leftovers into fanciful animal shapes. Hopefully the next time we visit this mysterious restaurant we'll make a side trip to Voodoo and worship at the oversized doughnut.
The NYT has some great articles today--an interview with Foreman on his upcoming "retirement" (he's apparently shifting to more multimedia, so don't get your panties in a twist) and a lovely interview with Mark Russell. I met Mark in December 2003, and he helped get All Stories Are Fiction underway at PS122, even though his time there was ending--he's a fascinating man well worth his salt.
From a link sent in by a reader:The post-holiday shopping lull seems a good time to check the corner of Amazon.com Inc.'s Web site where the Seattle online retailer stashes information on the collective buying habits of employees at particular companies and residents of specific cities. Local lists reveal some interesting purchases.I don't normally point these things out about Amazon anymore (see dead horses, beating) but sometimes it's just unavoidable.
And what of Amazon itself? What are workers at the e-commerce giant reading? On the company's own bestseller list, along with lots of Web-development tomes, is former employee Mike Daisey's scathing book "21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com." Also: "Programming Interviews Exposed: Secrets to Landing Your Next Job," by John Mongan and Noah Suojanen. --Puget Sound Business Journal
More on birthdays, birthings and assorted pleasures soon--still recovering from last night's festivities, and have another show in under three hours. Off to work!
PS: Enjoy the snow in NYC...I don't much care for the killer cold, but man do I like a good snowstorm. Have fun!
If anyone needs to read a rambling, stream-of-thought interview I gave...well, now you can. As a bonus it includes the first public, in-depth discussion of the upcoming Monopoly!, which may or may not be relevant to the final product, which is still in early development.
Here I am, a year older--today is my birthday. Feel free to send threats, promises, etc. to all the usual addresses, both virtual and physical.
So far, a marvelous birthday. Last night after the show Jean-Michele whisked me away to a surprise show: Lewis Black at the Crystal Ballroom. It was wonderful--sharp, biting, funny and deeply instructive--I think we learn more these days watching stand-up comedy than we do most theater, especially watching an old pro like Black working the room, showing how rage and frustration can be simmered out on a slow burn for minutes, twisting and playing out in a whole panoply of expressions. Marvelous stuff, and a great surprise.
I also now have my first Moleskine, so I join the ranks of overly cool geeks everywhere...but I have to say, it's a marvelously designed little book.
I'd be remiss if I failed to note that my brother-in-law's twins are expected today--apparently dilation has already started, and so the family will soon have two more additions born on my birthday. I am looking forward to them being seven and asking what I got them for their birthday and being able to tell them gravely, "You? Your birthday? This is MY birthday, little girls, and I'm wondering where MY presents are--cough them up!" Good times, good times.
Now, off to breakfast and the day!
Brand Integrity 101
In LucasArts' new GTA-style modern military game, Mercenaries, players can unlock Indiana Jones and Han Solo as playable characters. Here, for example, is Indiana Jones about to use a rocket launcher to take down an attack chopper, and Han Solo gunning down North Koreans with an M-16.
(Thanks to John Tynes for the text and images.)
They snowballed Cheney's limo. Only good news today.
Hmmm. Except at the "Freedom Ball", everyone else who turned out to watch the procession are protesting. How surprising.
Yes...it's a giant enormous baby.
When I have free time, I need to feed that image into the Image to ASCII Generator.
Or this one:
For everyone who loves the Mac Mini as much as I think I already do, here's a short film of how to disassemble the Mini...I'm delighted to see that it appears to be easy, which should let folks use aftermarket RAM.
Drank wine with Nancy and Diane tonight, talked a lot about Lawrence Lessig until we were too loud from ranting and shouting about copyleft and intellectual property issues so that security was called to our room. No joke.
Darth Tater. This will probably be the best part of Episode III.
Tonight: the 13th performance. A performance that will live in infamy.
Well, it wasn't really that bad--but we had the only tech fuck-ups of the whole run, all in a row. A speaker blew out at the top, rendering some sound cues weirdly-shaped and dissonant. Then a light cue misfired right after the top, blinking from darkness to light. After that the show levelled out, but daaaaaaaamn--after 12 performances without a single incident, it was quite a storm.I don't want to be crassly superstitious, but look at the show number.
Did a Q&A after the show, which went well, then retired to Higgins, which is becoming our favorite after show spot, where we hung out with Justin, lighting designer friend from NYC in town for Apollo 2, and Diane Ragsdale, an old friend who used to work at OtB and is now at the Mellon Foundation. it was such a delight to unwind with them after the show over beers and talk about theater, New York and the state of the industry--I didn't realize how starved I was for this until I got it. Then we walked back to our hotel and Diane played with our dog...a very nice night indeed.
I googled Diane, and found this:
Over 40% of the homebuying public is a result of relocation. In today's HOT market, it's not about just putting your property on the MLS, it's about "setting the stage" and creating ugency for competive offers. I take my buyers through this complicated process in this fast pasced climate to a successful closing. I am ACCESSIBLE. I attend to the smallest detail. I am present at all inspections and communicate frequently with all players in the transaction on both sides. I strive to be the TOTAL PROFESSIONAL. Call or email me TODAY!
You think you know someone, and then POW!--the eccentric arts professional turns out to be a realtor in Virginia Beach. It's an unbelievable world, isn't it?
Temperature almost hit 70 degrees today--stunning, shocking, spring falling out of our pants in mid-January. I walked around the block without a jacket, just for the novelty of it--the whole world waking up, earth and all, the smell of it in the air and wet on the pavement for just one day, just this movement and then back into storage, like a coat you won't see again until it's time for change.
Tonight begins 28 shows in a row without a break. I am anxious to get into it--I'm perversely excited by the challenge. I should be griping, and I was before today, but now I am eager to get the show on the road.
Meditation on a Moth
How terrible yellow is!--Vincent Van Gogh
My poor eye. It has done
so much looking--at the sky, at the dark-fretted gold
of trumpets in frescoes at the Chrysler Building,
at the opium dens of "High and Low,"
where bodies sway like white flowers--
amount due, amount due.
Is the blue the blue you think of when I tell you?
Do ghosts have neuroses?
What is the point of the haunting they do?
Here--look. No, look.
I am trying to rid myself of myself;
to see past the familiar clouds.
All evening drums rumble in the park.
The mafia reconvenes when the cops leave.
What goes down stays down,
the street at three a.m. a fantastic absence of color.
Outside the studio window the sound
of a river sliding along its dulcimer bed,
aquifers and accordions and Alcatraz.
But you have to get up in the morning.
The brute, blind glare of snow in sun.
Look again, and up you may rise
to something quite surprising in the distance.
Improvised office weaponry.
Yes, it's Bill Gates from a 1983 TIGER BEAT magazine pictoral.
Also, Jenna Jameson can be used to market absolutely anything.
Best customer service phone transcript evar.
"hello, yes, i am calling because my 9-year-old son mistakenly ordered... well... it looks like he ordered five personalized ipods. i really need to cancel those if i can."
"well, sir, i see the ipods here, and, unfortunately, they have all shipped, so they cannot be cancelled at this time, and since they are all personalized, i am sorry, but we cannot accept them for return."
"oh jesus... he is in so much trouble...
Read it all.
Theater is marginalized--beaten by tennis, horseback riding and bowling by a two-to-one margin in each case. Check out the damning statistics in the annual Harris poll results.
This reinforces many of my long-cherished beliefs about the issues theater faces today, but I don't have time to get into it now. More soon.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartos
LAW & ORDER ON STAGE
Why? Because L&O rules, and it has a beautifully ritualistic structure, and because there are 1,000 scripts to cull from, if'n you don't just generate new ones on your own--half the playwrights of NYC work on the show, so it shouldn't be too hard to get some other folks to put something together.
Directions this could go-
I envision this being done with a new show every week--and if you really want to get crazy, do two episodes back-to-back each time, with an intermission between. Should run 1 1/2 hours, gives a good reason for a bigger price tag.
- Straight adaptation--too hard, too many locales, too straightjacked.
- Camp--popular, no doubt, but feels overdone.
- Homage w/humor--better, not quite as tired, subtle jabs and conventions fucked with.
- RADIO PLAY--this is a winner--fixes many locale issues, opens up the show, feels appropriate for some reason (?) with the existing structure of the show.
The real question is, do i actually have enough time for any of the BS? The answer to that is probably no, at the time being--but maybe if i post these random notes up at the site, someone will want to work with me on this. Write if this rings a bell for anyone.
- Rights. Could be protected as parody? Probably not, unless we go whole hog into camp, which I don't prefer. Probably must be done on the down-low, ala Star Drek, but look how that ended.
- Scale...if this has to be low-key, I can't possibly put it together.
- Derivative--theoretically I am opposed to theater that exists to ape and copy TV, but I want to make an exception because I have this weird feeling that with its structure, L&O actually belongs on stage more than TV.
Dumb HTML issue:
Does anyone know what the tags are for making things italicized? For some reason I've lost that ability in my editor--I thought it was <em> and </em>, but I appear to be wrong.
This just came to my inbox:
I just read your blog entry re: today's (1/16/05) matinee...... and I was stunned....maybe YOU thought it was your worst performance but I thoroughly enjoyed it!! Bravo! Keep up the great work!
I include this not to merely stroke my ego, but because it always happens--whenever I blow of steam about a performance on this blog, inevitably someone from that performance reads the blog and then mails me. There's a simple lesson here, which I, as a professional, should know by heart: the audience is always right.
Further, my personal observations on how the show went from my end are supposed to stay just that: personal. It's an old rule of thumb in the theater--let the audience have their own experience with your work, and don't mediate it for them by telling them whether it used to be better, what you screwed up, etc. I'm quite good at following this rule for the most part in real life, but for some reason the terrible lure of the blog gets me in trouble.
Which makes sense--I'm often analyzing performances here, and treat it like a workshop/playroom, and the truth is that it's public and there's no assumption of privacy here. Suck it up, Daisey.
Last night's show was a treat--thanks to the inclement weather, we had 100 rather than 300+ people, so we moved them all down and consolidated them together for an intimate show. I was anxious, but it all went off very well--it may even be one of my favorite shows of this run. You see, bad weather can be an excellent litmus test--the people who did come were the excited, energized ones, people who were not just excited that they were seeing my show but people who were excited that ANYTHING was happening in the greater Portland area. They were an excellent audience--wise, sly and emotional, they had an intensity that belied their size, and many of the more intimate moments of the show that shifted into sharp focus for this performance--we recorded it, and I'm looking forward to reviewing some of the tape.
Today the weather has gotten much better, and the ice is gone, but the audience took a nosedive--the matinee was the worst show of the run so far. The opposite of last night's group--listless, dull and almost impossible to connect with, I couldn't reach escape velocity with many sections of the show, and the whole thing felt like trying to suck a bowling ball through a straw. The gentleman who fell asleep in the dead front row really took the cake--if you're coming to the theatre to sleep, I implore you, buy tickets AWAY from the front row, for fuck's sake!
I have another show in 113 minutes--the last one of the week. This second week of shows has gone very well, all things considered, and I seem to have hit my stride...I can leap in and out of performance mode in seconds, and all my tricks and traps seem to be at my command. It's a certain kind of pleasure, to be in performance--I imagine it's something like what professional athletes feel, in the constant training. Especially being a monologist--there's such a lonely, rarified feeling to the whole proceeding, like exercising alone, against my own best time.
Tomorrow is my last day off until the run ends--after Monday, I have three weeks without a day off, and so will be doing 28 performances in a row without a break. It's a kind of suicide, I know--I *need* the day off, for my voice, for sanity and for all the rest of it--but due to the structure of Portland Center Stage's season I was forced to do ALL STORIES ARE FICTION on my days off. Now, with hindsight I find myself wondering--did I really *need* to do these extra shows? But I'll be glad of it next month--a new monologue we're doing at the Ohio Theater with Les Freres Corbusier depends on the development that will occur on the next two Mondays, and I'm also excited to bring something fresh and brand new to Portland. I just wish we could have done these *after* the run, so that I could get more complete rest.
Nevertheless, here we are...tomorrow is the last day off, and we'll try and spend it well. We have a really great breakfast planned, followed by watching Nancy Keystone's workshop of APOLLO 2. After that, I predict there will be much loafing, sleeing, napping and preparing, in that order.
Next show is up in 102 minutes...I'm off.
President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath. WP
He's such a failure in so many ways, but one thing we all take for granted now is what a terrible leader he is--smug, self-interested and lacking any degree of real guts. That's why no one in his administration ever pays for mistakes--to acknowledge that any mistakes were ever made would open up the very real possibility that he might have made a mistake, and he's nowhere near good enough as a leader of men to make that admission.
Nevertheless--doesn't this count as tacit consent that mistakes and misjudgments were made? In Bush Country I think it does--this is as close as it's ever going to get.
As for perhaps the most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, the administration has so far been unsuccessful in its attempt to locate the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Asked why, Bush said, "Because he's hiding."
It's as though he writes for the fucking Daily Show. He's not even trying.
On the election Bush said he was puzzled that he received only about 11 percent of the black vote, according to exit polls.
[Insert your own snide comment here.]
Ice, ice everywhere. Portland is afflicted with freezing rain today, and the temperature is below normal, which means for a city that has no ability to deal with inclement weather, it becomes a ghost town.
Stores are closed or closing. Starbucks is closed. The chains are shutting down. Even Powell's is closing at 7pm.
We, however, are not closed. The show will go on, at least that's the latest word--and I have to admit, I'm fearful about it. if as few people as I expect come out in the weather it is going to be a very difficult show--I will have to make up for their lost energy, and i'll pay that in blood. With a double coming up tomorrow, I can't say I'm much of a friend to Mother Nature right now.
Thailand apparently has a knockoff version of Disneyland, which someone took the time to document.
This is the sound of Titan's atmosphere, heard by the Huygens probe yesterday.
Star Wars Guy is waiting in line again...no one has apparently clued him in that the last two films blew apes.
I eye the driver of the Chevrolet
pulsing beside me at a traffic light
the chrome-haired woman in the checkout line
chatting up the acned clerk
the clot of kids smoking on the sly
in the Mile-Hi Pizza parking lot
the meter reader, the roofer at work
next door, a senior citizen
stabbing the sidewalk with his three-pronged cane.
Which one of you discarded in a bag
-- sealed with duct tape - in the middle of the road
three puppies four or five weeks old
who flung two kittens from a moving car
at midnight into a snowbank where
the person trailing you observed the leg
and tail of the calico one that lived,
and if not you, someone flossing her teeth
or watering his lawn across the street.
I look for you wherever I go.
Nothing is Lost
Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.
Bah. I continue to be unproductive. How long can this kind of faffing about last, I wonder...and then, to my horror, I realize this could very well last the rest of my life.
Stupid self realization.
Doubles today--a performance at noon, another at eight. The noon is a killer--our oldest, quietest houses--but they were much more responsive than I expected, and the Q&A afterward went really well. Afternoon has been more unproductive than most...I think my systems were thrown off by performing that early, and with the daylight failing so early it feels like the middle of the night.
I think I'll take a nap.
A sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge.
I have always been a great fan of Mr. Barry's work, even when it was seen by some as populist and shallow--I think those people are idiots. I am delighted that someone else agrees with me.
Moment of shallowness:
This is Portia De Rossi, whom Ellen Degeneres is dating. How is that possible? I have always thought Degeneres was stunningly unfunny, so it can't be her humor--it all seems a little Christie Brinkley/Billy Joel to me, but I can't quite parse it. Joel at least had the songs.
Also, when you have the chance check out this fantastic iProduct, one of the best things to come out of Apple yesterday. Thanks to Tynes for alerting me to it.
The Things of Dry Hours runthrough was really magical--it was the first time they'd done the entire play in one piece, and there's always something hidden and secretive about that run, something vulnerable, that makes it a particular treat to be invited to...the process of discovery is happening for the actors at the same time as it is for us watching in the rehearsal room, and it lends a kind of athleticism to the proceedings that I treasure.
And the play itself is great--so much better on its feet than even it was on the page, and I thought it was pretty damn good when I read it. I really glad that they'll be going up while we're in town, so that we can see how Portland reacts to the work.
On our end, Portland appears to be reacting well to 21DY--the Willamette Week's review is pretty great, and traditionally PCS get manhandled by that particular reviewer, so everyone is very happy around the theater. This is a good thing--when you are a solo performer there's very little to hide behind if the show goes poorly, so it's always a terrific relief to knock the notices out of the park.
One of my private, geeky holidays has just concluded; the MacWorld Keynote.
To those in the know, this is hardly private--every Apple geek on the planet knows that annually Steve does his Keynote, and from it comes all the goodness that Apple has been secretly preparing in their Willy Wonka-esque labs.
Today it was all about SMALL--the Macintosh Mini and the iPod Shuffle were the big newsmakers, with Apple's new word processor coming in close behind. Surprisingly the PowerBooks were not updated, even though at this point they are overdue...but maybe Apple's update will be lackluster, so they didn't want to waste time with it during the Keynote.
[Insert more commentary here on Apple, blah blah blah, progress, exciting, new crap, blah blah blah.]
I don't have time for that; I have a busy day--lunch meeting with PCS creative staff about ALL STORIES ARE FICTION and the new show I'm doing next month in NYC--a new monologue for which I'm all about the research, except this morning, when I'm all about Mac news. Then we're watching a runthrough of Things Of Dry Hours, an exciting play I just read the other night. In edgy, almost-poetic language Naomi Wallace shows three characters wrestling with one another in the landscape of 1930's Alabama, when the Communist party was a powerful force in the black community. It's a harrowing work, and I think Portland Center Stage is showing a lot of ferocious courage in mounting it...this ain't another Mamet revival.
Then a show tonight, and I'm back in the 8 shows a week grind. I must say that I like it, though--it's very good for me, and it's such a pleasure to know a piece right down to its bones, down on the blood and tissue level, to work it out until you can toss it off in your sleep if it came to that.
oh, if you haven't seen it, this is the poster for 21 DOG YEARS in Portland:
I'm inordinately fond of it--the composition is very nice, and it is such a refreshing change to look at the poster and not see my own face grinning back out at me.
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.
First, the ridiculous: a fugitive hides in a Circuit City for months.
Second, the $100 question: where the hell have I been for four months? What happened to this blog, with its pithy commentary and meandering ways? Dilettante has endured countless changes and redirections in the past--it's been around since 2000, which is something like 1,000,000 years in blog-time. But it has never had such a killer hiatus.
And the hiatus was across the board--this website's other pages also stagnated, going totally dark and lank. No updates, no changes--why would I do that?
I still don't know, but I suspect it was as simply prosaic as being tired. Not on a day to day level, though it was a long fall, with weddings, family crises and performances in close collusion, but tired of cyberness. Of bloginess. Of updating and accountability and the whole ball of wax. It got so dead and dark that while the slow revamp is happening to the site I strongly considered killing off the blog and letting the site assume a new form, blogless and free of its attendant guilt.
Obviously, I didn't do that: you are reading this.
Instead I am turning over a new leaf, or rather the same leaf I've turned over countless times before: Dilettante is back in session, and will resume it's old publication schedule. It still has no ostensible point or purpose: it is an online journal of whatever I feel like posting, from random links to images to poems to <SHOCK! HORROR!> actual words pertaining to my actual life, or perhaps even the work I am doing therein.
There are never any promises, but I'm hopeful that this can be fun again. At the very least I've killed off all those pesky readers, so it can just be you and me.
The holidays are past and January is settling in with a vengeance--it's all leftover fruitcake and gift returns for the foreseeable future. Spring seems a bright, distant promise from a demented uncle who never tells the truth--how will we pass the time in the depths of winter?
I will be at Powell's. If you've been to Portland, you've probably been to Powell's--it's a labyrinthine edifice filled with every last book known to man, stacked and heaped atop one another, drowning the good people of the Pacific Northwest who love bookstores, record stores and coffee shops more than they love their children.
But the rest of the time, when I am not at Powell's, I will be at Portland Center Stage performing 21 DOG YEARS, a monologue of cubicle life and the pointed and pointless follies of the corporate world. Details on the run may be found at pcs.org, or directly by clicking here.
Come on down and see the show as it will help you shake off the blues, or send word to folks you know in Portland--they could use a night away from the bookstores, record stores and coffee shops.