Go dog, go!
It's the last day of February, and again the winter storms are coming--see above for a weather tracking chart from just a few minutes ago. I always love the ominous look to the radar before a storm lands and its more natural corollary--while taking the dog out this morning I could feel how heavy the air is, very still, expectant. Or perhaps it isn't so anthropomorphic--maybe its just low air pressure.
Tonight I'm hosting the Moth StorySLAM at the Bitter End--full details are in the sidebar, and the topic is leaps. I'm curious to see if the oncoming storm keeps folks at home--I hope not, as it's going to be a great evening, and don't we live in NYC so that we can use mass transit to ignore problems like winter storms? I know I'll be there, and I hope to see some friendly faces out in the crowd.
Yesterday's NYT had a big feature on hotshot, up-and-coming theater folks to watch for, including a piece on the redoubtable Alex Timbers, artistic director of Les Freres Corbusier. I wasn't included in the line-up, but even better than that was being quoted as a theatrical authority:
Mr. Timbers talks in fully formed paragraphs and in a gentle, lilting voice that makes his answers sound like questions. The monologuist Mike Daisey has called him a "cross between Jesus Christ and Ashton Kutcher.
I always thought I'd have to wait until I was 50 and embittered before the NYT would start quoting my opinions on other artists as holy writ--fantastic! I can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend, and my opinions on Mary Zimmerman, hand-washing stations and slave reparations will also find purchase in the pages of the Times. Stay tuned.
You can read the full piece on Alex here.
Last night Jef Raskin passed away. Though never fully credited for his work, Jef was the creator of the Macintosh, spearheading the group at Apple that thought the world needed and affordable computer that worked intuitively, and it was his pioneering efforts in human interface guidelines that still form the bedrock on which everyone else builds. He will be sorely missed.
Leander has a nice piece on Jef, well worth the time to read.
Berry checked her ego at the door at the 25th Annual Razzie Awards, showing up Saturday in Hollywood to personally accept a spray-painted golf ball dis-honoring her work as Worst Actress in Catwoman.
"I want to thank Warner Bros. for casting me in this piece of shit," Berry told the audience.
Berry's speech mocked her teary Oscar thank-yous from 2002 when she was honored as Best Actress for Monster's Ball.
"I'd like to thank the rest of the cast--to give a really bad performance like mine you need to have really bad actors," she said.
Read more here.
Which one actually served?
Alicia Sylvia, a single mother of 10-year-old twins, was a big union booster at the outset.
"Compared to other stores, we don't even make what cashiers make," said Ms. Sylvia, who earns just under $9 an hour writing up service orders as cars arrive at the garage and says she cannot afford Wal-Mart's health insurance.
She acknowledged that the antiunion videos had helped turn her against unionizing.
"I really wish Wal-Mart would become better," she said. "But even if we get a union, it will be a long battle. Wal-Mart doesn't have to agree to anything. The message we got was, 'You're a small bunch of guys, and you can stand out there and strike, and we're going to replace you.' They'll never agree to a contract, out of pure stubbornness. I'm so confused."
The New York Times: At a Small Shop in Colorado, Wal-Mart Beats a Union Once More
“There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting, and motor racing. All the rest are merely games.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Great piece on Backstage about the challenges and strengths of P.S.122, our current artistic home in NYC. Lots of good stuff from Vallejo, whom I met for coffee Thursday, and came to see MONOPOLY! last night--he's charming in person, intelligent, clear and warm. I'm really looking forward to ALL STORIES ARE FICTION in his space.
How messed up is a world where someone can be paid $100,000 for a year of blogging the new DUKES OF HAZZARD show? For a moment, I wanted that job--but what a living hell that would be by the third week, and you'd still have 49 more to go. Yikes.
Last night's show was our biggest house yet--my deep thanks to all who attended. Doing MONOPOLY! has been deeply instructive for me on the generous spirit of theater-goers--you see, Gentle Readers, MONOPOLY! is many things, but it's not a late-night show. Late night theater is brash, brassy and loud, whereas MONOPOLY! (despite the exclamation mark) is my quietest monologue yet--a reasoned discourse and dissection of corporate rule, wrapped around a blizzard of interconnected stoprylines, half personal and half historical. I think it's one of my best shows, but it's not the lightest viewing, and it's not late-night material.
I know from light viewing--I used to be a sketch comedy impresario, once upon a time, in a rough and tumble world where I wasn't afraid to bribe the press, if that's what it took to get ahead. Doing almost-free theater at 11 o'clock at night inculcates a direct sense of what works, and what doesn't work--and I learned early that it is not enough to be funny, because any fool can be funny, but to be consistently surprising and subversive--well, that's a whole other kettle of fish. I think my work now takes the best parts of that world, but I'm old and wise enough to know that this monologue should be performed at 8 o'clock.
But--that said, if we had waited for an 8pm start time to surface, there'd be no monologue for a long time--and the beauty of theater is that it's an arena of the actual, where theory meets the real world and the results are often skewed from what you may have envisioned. Thanks to the wonderful audiences and great support from the staff MONOPOLY! is working at 10:30pm--it's just a very different ride. We settle in, the music fades, the lights come up...and it's just us, alone in the night, with the quiet tapping of the radiators in the silence to keep us company. There's an intimacy here that I actually might miss when the hour is not so insane.
After the show last night we retired to Schnack, where Harry Hawk, the proprietor and long-time friend, had prepared an awesome dinner arcing from the delicious and expected (beer-braised short ribs) to the cognitively dissonant, bizarre and delicious (turkey-stuffed squid). Wonderful company, and the perfect way to cap off the evening.
Tonight is the next to last performance of MONOPOLY!--if I were you, I'd get my tickets soon if you don't want to be left out.
Rolling Stone: FCC Censorship
A review of fines levied by other federal agencies suggests that the government may be taking swear words a bit too seriously. If the bill passes the Senate, Bono saying "fucking brilliant" on the air would carry the exact same penalty as illegally testing pesticides on human subjects. And for the price of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, you could cause the wrongful death of an elderly patient in a nursing home and still have enough money left to create dangerous mishaps at two nuclear reactors.
Snowbanks North of the House
Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six feet
from the house...
Thoughts that go so far.
The boy gets out of high school and reads no more books;
the son stops calling home.
The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no more
And the wife looks at her husband one night at a party
and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving
It will not come closer--
the one inside moves back, and the hands touch nothing,
and are safe.
And the father grieves for his son, and will not leave the
room where the coffin stands;
he turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.
And the sea lifts and falls all night; the moon goes on
through the unattached heavens alone.
And the toe of the shoe pivots
in the dust...
The man in the black coat turns, and goes back down the
No one knows why he came, or why he turned away, and
did not climb the hill.
My friend Ray says:
I’m amused (and saddened) that “American-Style” as an adjective to describe a town meeting is now widely understood to mean “carefully controlled and pre-scripted.”
Remember when that used to be “Soviet-Style?”
Bush in Germany: With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans
Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I’m afraid might turn out to be quite stable.
--Neal Stepehnson, in an interview with Reason.
The Real Dracula
By William Lessard
Dracula was always
Such a bunch of bullshit
The groovy castle.
And all the young pussy.
And the whole turning into a bat thing –
What fucking crap.
The Real Dracula wouldn’t be like that.
He wouldn’t be like that at all.
No young pussy.
No flying around the city
In a slick-ass cape.
The Real Dracula would be a schmuck
Stuck in the same old job,
Doing the same old shit
With the same old wife
For centuries at a time.
“You fucking bitch!
I forgot your birthday 200 years ago.
When the fuck are you gonna
Stop busting my balls
“Oh yeah? Well, I’ve been dealing
With your insensitivity issues
For 400 years now.
When are ever going to grow up?
And when are you going to learn
To put down the goddamn toilet seat?”
For the Real Dracula, there would also be
Other problems, such as paying bills and taxes
For ever and ever.
And let us not forget
Eternally rising consumer prices.
“Christ, I paid 500 bucks
For a pack of gum today.
I remember when a pack
Only cost 200!”
“Aw, why don’t you stop complaining
And get your ass out of
The coffin for a change?
Why don’t you go kill somebody
Or at least rob
A girl’s gotta feed, you know.
Oh, and while you’re out,
Make sure to lose the cape.”
This is my lucky cape!
I’m not getting rid of it.”
You’ve had that smelly
Old thing for 500 years.
It’s covered in gore!
Why don’t you let me
Buy you a new one?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?
We can’t afford a new cape.
I haven’t had a raise
Since those young kids
Took over the company.
Fuckin’ 150-year-old assholes --
They think they know everything!”
The Real Dracula knows
It’s all bullshit.
He’s up to his pointy ears
In centuries of it.
But what I want
To know is
Why you think
It would be any different
Watching what you eat –
What the fuck for?
It’s no sin being old.
It’s just stupid
To want to extend
To unnatural lengths.
They had this 110-year-old
Woman on the news
The other day.
Of apple sauce
They asked her the secret
Of her longevity.
Don’t eat meat.
Never drink or smoke.
Go to bed at 9 o’clock
That sounds like fun.
The perfect recipe
For perpetual boredom.
I’m going out
Of this motherfucker
Old and ugly
And happy as hell.
If you want to be Dracula,
That’s up to you.
But I prefer to live now,
Not when I’m dead,
Or the living-dead,
Or whatever it’s called
When you start wearing
And sky-blue slacks.
From the wily and unpredictable pen of John Tynes:The BBC's site has a weekly magazine section that includes a column called RIP. Each week, the writer proclaims the death of a well-known object, service, building, idea, or other non-person entity. For each installment, the writer picks a capitalized term for the departed and then uses it as if it were a name, as in this instance marking the end of fairground skill games' giving of goldfish as prizes:
"Friends will no doubt have seen an early sign of Prize Goldfish in a Bag's demise in the refusal of many local authorities to grant the necessary licenses to fairgrounds."
Each one also ends with the terse but informative statement "No flowers."
Readers are invited to post their own condolences, which often take the form of smart-ass poetry, puns, and other things far too clever to appear in American media.
The most delicious bit: each column includes a photograph of the departed, which is always captioned with the phrase "Happier Times". As you go from article to article, seeing the "Happier Times" caption applied to, variously, a goldfish in a bag, an ugly building, a discontinued savings account passbook, or a gold iPod, the collective sense of surreal mirth becomes overwhelming.
Start here and enjoy, you anglophiles you.
My friend Cintra just wrote a eulogy for HST at Salon...and the first 4 chapters of a depraved work of hers is being published, serialized in USA Today.
This. Is. Shocking.
When did "Fuckhead Retardo Mag" (my own private, special name for USA Today) get into publishing stories? And, from what I've read so far, stories that are filled with deviance? Beats me. Here's the opening graph:
Santa and I went to Mount Wilson, a school for delinquent kids who had been expelled from all other schools in the district and/or were El Salvadorean. Santa, aka Greg Sabatini, my best friend, the black-eyed, electrocuted weasel-boy, was there because he had ADD and was therefore on an irregular diet of Ritalin and Mountain Dew and therefore was incapable of controlled thinking. I flunked out of my school because I stopped going.
Read more here.
Lots of Wal-Mart, your friend and mine, in the news today. NYT is reporting on the death of Wal-Mart's efforts to get a store in Queens, which ends its quest to come to NYC...for now. And Slate has a dissection of a speeck made by Wal-Mart's CEO, H. Lee Scott, claiming that Wal-Mart is good to its workers. Tim Noah cuts up Wal-Mart's lies and half-truths: it's a good primer.
In other news, what the fuck is wrong with Doug Wead? What a buffoon! He must be up for some kind of idiot award--to blackmail the administration with these tapes, reveal their existence, then the next day go crying and crawling back to Bush--what? Does he really think anyone near Bush will even touch him again? Did he actually NOT THINK about what the consequences were going to be? It's baffling.
Finally, a wonderful piece on an unusual museum temporarily located on Pier 54.
The entire museum is to be packed in 37 of the 148 cargo containers that form its checkerboard walls. The temporary structure is composed largely of recyclable materials: the roof and columns are made of paper tubes, the steel containers stacked 34 feet high are used, and a handmade curtain to be suspended from the ceiling is made of one million pressed paper tea bags (used, with the tea leaves removed).
"Shigeru is the Mozart of sustainable architecture," Mr. Colbert said. "Also, from a philosophical point of view, he's done some great public buildings; he says that art shouldn't be for the privileged."
I'm definitely going to try to check this out while it is here.
So old friend, it ends like this. Sixty-seven Goddamn years tempting death, and now you're dead by the only hand that could harm you. I'll miss you Dr. Thompson. I'll miss you more than I can say.
I found out who you were in high school, watching "Where the Buffalo Roam" with my friend Andrew. Then I found out my high school sweetheart's parents once ran a small paper in Colorado you'd occasionally bombard with letters to the editor. I held those dry, brittle pages in my hand and I swear I could feel the electric crackle of your eloquence. Or maybe it was the spark of your anger. Or maybe you treated the pages with some slow-acting nerve agent, you treacherous fucking bastard.
But it was the start of my twenties, when my life fell apart, that I really came to know and love you. And Christ in a Goddamn coconut did I ever love you Hunter. You were drunk, stoned, fearless, reckless, and ruthless. You followed your thoughts and never hesitated to tell the truth, even if telling the truth got you thrown out of polite society, or the campaign bus, or the bar. I spent the rest of that decade trying to write like you, ride like you, shoot like you, smoke like you, drink like you, and do drugs like you.
And man alive could you ever do drugs. You embodied the aphorism I've used to guide my own chemical excursions: Do the drug. Don't let the drug do you. No collapsing into the arms of Morpheus for you. No drifting along in a Cobain cloud. No withdrawl from society for the good doctor. Not a fucking chance. You'd smoke it, snort it, shoot it, swallow it, blast it, and then you would ride. There was always a story to cover, or truth to be told or wrongs to be righted. Most people use drugs to run away from life. You used drugs to run at life.
The truths you told are still true. Your writing - at its best - was strong, clear and sharp. And you were at your best more than most, my good doctor. All the niceties, all the equivocations, all the Janus-faced mealy-mouthed cowardly relativism were rinsed out of your writing, gone in a caustic bath of ethanol, nicotine and a dozen other alkaloids. What remained were solid, true observations about America and Americans.
No one has stepped up to replace you. It took bloggers - pallid, obese and virginal as they are - to out a Goddamn paid shill in the White House press corps. All the established reporters were too scared to make waves. In your heyday, you would have researched that unctuous little bastard's past, and then hit him with your cattle prod right in the middle of a press conference, before he could lob another softball to that worthless son of privilege who fancies himself the president. Our media today is cowardly, vapid and happily in the thrall of a few corporate monsters, and we are the worse for it. We need you more than ever, Hunter.
But we don't have you any more. And, now that you're gone, and Johnny is gone, and Warren is gone, I am officially out of role models. I'll keep going, and I'll do my part, but sweet Christ will I ever miss you Hunter. So watch yourself up there Doc - keep your hand on your wallet when Voltaire is around, and don't cross Mencken when he's in his cups. Take care of yourself, my brother. I will see you on the other side.
On company time at the Public Defender
Engineering students have created murals in their dorm of scenes from MARIO BROTHERS, composed entirely of Post-Its.
Nice work, gentlemen!
From my inbox:
We are BUsiness Management students from Queen Mary university Of London, London, UK. Basically, We are doing a critical review presentation on one of your books namely, 21 Dog years, dpoing time @ Amazon.com. We are trying to search some materials to help us with our presentation. Apparantly, we are one of the biggest failure in the history of mankind. The closing deadline is also hampering our sleep like anything.
We would really appriciate if you could help us with some reviews and materials to make our presentation look resourceful. The book was honest and a lot different from main stream business books. But it had a mixed interpretation of Amazon and it's management. If you could be kind enough to be a bit specific in respect of organisational culture and the development of strong cultures and their effects on the workforce.
I get two or three of these emails every month. While I am happy that people might be reading 21 Dog Years, if they think it is a business management book they really need to have their head examined, preferably by a competent professional.
"There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die. Who knows? If there is in fact, a heaven and a hell, all we know for sure is that hell will be a viscously overcrowded version of Phoenix- a clean well lighted place full of sunshine and bromides and fast cars where almost everybody seems vaguely happy, except those who know in their hearts what is missing.... And being driven slowly and quietly into the kind of terminal craziness that comes with finally understanding that the one thing you want is not there. Missing. Back-ordered. No tengo. Vaya con dios. Grow up! Small is better. Take what you can get.... Maybe there is no heaven. Or maybe this is pure gibberish- a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found out a way to live out there where the real winds blow- to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.... Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll."
Monday, February 28th
A competitive storytelling event
kind of like a poetry slam but with stories
Hosted by Mike Daisey
7:30 the show starts
$6 at the door
No RSVP needed
The Bitter End
147 Bleecker St. (between Thompson & LaGuardia)
Leap, meaning: to bust a move, to change it up, to switch course, to spring into action. The jumps in circumstance we make out of love, bravura, fear, faith, foolishness, hope or even accident.
Last week we went to Wardenclyffe, Tesla's last standing laboratory, to see what there was to see. I made a short film with my digital camera--it's not the greatest quality, and I'm just babbling excitedly without much internal editing, but I thought it was kind of cool so I'm posting it. Check it out.
And if you want tickets to Monopoly!, may I suggest that you get them soon--they seem to be going pretty fast.
Superman is a dick.
What a day it was. I was a wreck for most of it, barely able to keep up with news, gossip, crap and business.
First--Paris got hacked. I know everyone saw it, so I won't bother linking, but daaaaaaaamn that was a bizarre address book and note storage--it was like reading someone's subconscious, if the person was semi-literate and didn't believe in punctuation. Pop eats itself so quickly that there is already an ironic shirt available for purchase. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Second--the NYT ran a review of Monopoly!. You can read it online, or check out the fancy scanned in version I've created, just for you.
Third--sometimes, when I sleep with the dog, we begin to look the same.
That is all.
Fuck. So much for sleep.
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered
mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live,
and too rare to die."
This is the view, just outside our door tonight. They say it will come down all night long, and I'm grateful it waited until now, so that we didn't have to contend with it Saturday night.
The show has opened--and we seem to have survived. The house still looks as though a storm has passed through, and I hope that we'll get to dig out over the next few days. Right now as I'm typing this Jean-Michele is behind me on the bed, reading a book with Baci asleep beside her. I should go there soon.
Friday the show had its first preview--a small house, brought low by the bitter cold, but a very noble group of folks who endured a very cold theater for the show. We got through Friday, and Saturday morning we got up, did 3 hours of notes, and then I did a rebuild on the entire outline--there's nothing like a very challenging first night to help you see where the weak points live in these stories, where I hadn't sufficiently fleshed out the frameworks.
Then, Saturday--opening. The show was very different, opening up under the extra energy of a larger house, and the threads wove truer than they did the night before. It helped immensely that there was more heat--I think we have that issue licked--and lots of niggling issues were finally wrapped up, some just minutes before the run.
And the audience--that was real generosity, and I'm in their debt. The show ran a little long, a byproduct of so much fantastic energy and me finding my way, but I can totally see where the edges and spaces are, and I'm looking forward to the work ahead. That was a fine, fine opening.
In a related Monopoly! note, there's a mention of the show in the Seattle PI today, in the business gossip pages--it's the second item down the page.
Now I need to get to bed.
(Warning: potentially disturbing linkage.)
Email excerpt from my beloved mother-in-law:
haven't heard from you, but hope all went well with
we just got back from the cabin--it was too cold to
spend three days there--no snow, but cold as usual and
the fireplace was heating slowly. the hot water
wasn't working and when we got up this morning, the
water didn't come out the pipes. i think the water
froze in the pipes coming into the cabin, so they did
thaw after a few minutes and we had water and then it
stopped so i think it refroze and then it started so i
think it thawed. we cleaned up and hit the road.
it's good to be old and know when to cut and run.
would love to remodel that cabin--which is always the
thought when we're up there.
It's a lovely cabin, for all the issues--I wish I was there now.
I thought this was kind of funny when I saw it last week, but the article completes the picture.
My good friend David Schmader went to California to infiltrate the bizarre world of Michael Jackson supporters at his trial:
The four of us take seats around the conference room table, and June turns immediately serious, "The first thing you need to know is that when you talk about Michael Jackson, you should assume that you are under surveillance, because you are." The Dutch couple nods gravely. "I've been speaking the truth about Michael for five years," June continues. "I've been videotaped in my bedroom, in the shower…" At this point, June jerks her head toward the ceiling: "We know you're there!" she bellows at the hidden camera she imagines in the corner.
The Dutch couple and June buzzed off each other, basking in mutual love for Michael. Within minutes, they're discussing exactly how much of Michael is angel, and how much is human. For the Dutch couple, Jackson is pure spirit--"the Earth Angel Michael," they say, holding forth on the savior beyond race and gender sent to save the world from darkness. And while June views Michael as merely a blessed human-- "a most Godly man"--all three agree on Michael's power to heal, swapping anecdotes of cancers cured by the hand of Jackson.
Read the rest here.
"Reading the Bible straight through is at least 70 percent discipline, like learning Latin. But the good parts are, of course, simply amazing. God is an extremely uneven writer, but when he's good, nobody can touch him."
Happy Opening Day. I just finished the outline--this one was a monster, and we'll see how it plays tonight. It's such a good feeling to see it here in one piece, a roadmap for the evening. Between you and me, I think it's a good one...but time will tell.
Be seeing you!
Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.
It is Thursday night--the sun just went down in Brooklyn, dying across the sky into the bay. I saw it go down, walking in Red Hook, getting ready for this evening, getting ready to build the outline and make the show happen. Unlike most of my nights which I spend reading Jonathan Stewart and Stephen Colbert slash fiction, tonight I will be making the bones and skeleton of the monologue I open tomorrow.
It's a strange thing, and there are few others who work this way--it would seem so natural, to work from an outline and let the words drop into their places in that one moment onstage, then hone and sharpen that from night to night until you get something more than script, but I'm old enough to know now that it is not common, and it is only natural to me. It is so alien to the rest of the theater world that I am always a little ashamed--ashamed of how we can't rehearse, how we break every rule, how no one ever really believes that we make these monologues up out of thin air.
But we do. I'll do it tonight, over pages and pages of legal pad, with a sharpie, writing deceptively little as the pieces I've been gestating since August of 2003 come into closer and closer focus. It's time to make that happen, and thank God for that--I can imagine few hells as complete as remaining pregnant like this forever with no release.
We found out today that the Tesla coil isn't going to happen--we got it moved to the space, we defeated ten layers of bureaucracy, fear and concern but in the end we we lost. The details hardly matter: an out-of-code breaker box, a pile of red tape, an insurance policy that can't be extended--it's the same story we all hear every day. What's amazing is how far along it got, and how close it was to happening--the coil is actually at the theater now, in the paint room, silent, gathering dust, waiting to go home.
It was hubris of a kind, to think that we could harness electricity for our own ends, bring it back to tell Tesla's story and not suspect that the same forces that ended his life in disappointment heaped on anticlimax would assert themselves here. The world hasn't changed, for good or evil it's the same world, and that in fact is the issue we're all grappling with every day we wake up on this globe.
Forgive me for getting all elevated and shit--I write this way as I close in one the outline, maybe just to get it out of my system before the real work begins.
I hope to see you all at the show, if that's something geography allows you to do.
Salon.com Life | Ball and chain:
So what changed about your relationship after you decided to commit for good?
I pretty much hate the way anyone chews their food. And with Jonathan I just decided: Everyone chews and I've got to live with it.
Had this chewing thing been a deal-breaker in earlier relationships?
I just hate eating noises, and it's always a problem with the person you're dating because you have to eat with them. But if you're in a relationship you want to get out of and you hate the way your partner chews, that's as good a reason as any to get out of it. But not anymore.
This might be of more interest to those who do theatre in Seattle (and you know who you are), but Theatre Babylon has a new show opening called, "Influence", all about small-town Seattle theatre vibe. They've posted an online trailer for the show--check it out.
Words fail me when I try to express just how totally kickass BOOZY was tonight. They really do.
It was not that it was inventive, exciting and engaging (and it was)--it was the ideas, the sheer wonder of seeing living ideas fighting one another onstage before everyone, and these ideas really being given space to spar and draw blood, without an assumed victor. It's rare in the theater for a new show to have even one idea...and too often, when there are two ideas they complement each other, or one is a straw man for the other to beat down.
BOOZY is different. Real. And my oh my...it's so much fun. Urban planning as Masonic gestalt, with all the pageantry and ridiculousness it requires. I am so, so delighted to be working with these folks.
K. Thor Jensen pretends to be a teenage girl in a chatroom...but when she chats with boys, she reveals her Dad is Zeus and she needs to save her womb to incubate new gods.
The New York Times > Theater > News & Features > True to Her Orthodox Beliefs, if Not to Her Roots:
And if the title, "J.A.P.," might be offensive to Asians or to Jews, who may recognize the shorthand for "Jewish American Princess," then that is not so unusual either. Performers often lampoon their own heritage, and that is precisely what Ms. Factor, a Japanese-American and unreligious Christian who converted to Orthodox Judaism, is doing.
Interestingly, despite her adherence to a religion that prohibits her from performing on Saturdays or singing in front of men outside her family, and requires her to forgo leotards for long skirts and modest hair coverings, she said she was more successful as an entertainer now than ever before. Since converting, Ms. Factor has become something of a celebrity, albeit within the small Orthodox subculture.
Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | A genius explains:
Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think..."
Tammet is creating his own language, strongly influenced by the vowel and image-rich languages of northern Europe. (He already speaks French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Icelandic and Esperanto.) The vocabulary of his language - "Mänti", meaning a type of tree - reflects the relationships between different things. The word "ema", for instance, translates as "mother", and "ela" is what a mother creates: "life". "Päike" is "sun", and "päive" is what the sun creates: "day". Tammet hopes to launch Mänti in academic circles later this year, his own personal exploration of the power of words and their inter-relationship.
Jean-Michele found this photo of Tesla, my favorite so far.
Well, it isn't a secret any longer--MONOPOLY! opens this Friday, at the Ohio Theatre. I've been keeping kind of a low profile on this one, letting it bake and simmer, talking to folks i know and trust about the show as it develops...but this Friday it gets unleashed into the wild for the first time, which means I'll be doing it live, creating the show with nothing but an outline and my fevered babblings.
Oh, and a Tesla coil...a few pictures of which I took when we went to see it the other day.
This is the coil in its nascent, slumbering state. It's a Class IV coil, capable of very long arcs of ionizing electricity--it looks like barely harnessed lightning when it runs, because it *is* barely harnessed lightning. You can actually smell the ozone in the air as the electricity pulses through it--magnificent.
Here is the faceplate of the coil above, revealing that at 1/2 a megawatt it is more than enough to kill a human, and the largest one on the island of Manhattan.
More will follow soon, including photos and notes from my trip to Wardencliffe, Tesla's only surviving laboratory site. For now I need to get back to the monologue.
Melanie Griifith mistreats folks at the Apple store:
The associate, who asked to remain anonymous, said Griffith came right up to him and "pretty much demanded" a pink iPod mini. The mini was in short supply, and the associate told her there were none in stock.
"She then proceeded to get pissed off at me personally because we didn't have any in stock," the associate said. "She said we have a special stock of iPods for people like her.... I hadn't seen any celebrities there up until then, so at first I was like, 'Oh wow, cool, Melanie Griffith.' But then she opened her mouth and used me as a doormat, and I was like, 'What the fuck is this shit? Milk Money sucked.'"
The rest here.
An absolutely priceless grape-stomping clip.
Andrew Hearst, you rock.
It's that day again. Last year JM and I actually went on a date--we saw LOST IN TRANSLATION and ate at one of our favorite restaurants, The Grange Hall, now regretfully gone. This year it's macaroni and cheese and technical rehearsals, baby!
I love the episode this card is from.
My apologies to anyone who came to EAST SIDE ORAL--it was cancelled, on account of the space not being opened, as the bartender was drunk or high and never showed up. Extremely random, I know--I caught some people there, but if I missed you and you made the trek, you have my regrets.
This is the show we're running in repertory with, starting this week:
The New York Times > Theater > News & Features > Robert Moses, Superhero?
"Boozy: The Life, Death and Subsequent Vilification of Le Corbusier and, More Importantly, Robert Moses" opens at the Ohio Theater in SoHo on Tuesday. The latest production of "Les Freres Corbusier" - a group best known for staging last year's Obie-winning "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant" - places Mr. Moses as the visionary hero in an epic struggle between heaven-sent inspiration and group-think mediocrity. Along the way, the show sketches the combustible, imagined romance between the antiestablishment urban theorist Jane Jacobs and the group's namesake, the architect Le Corbusier. It features a walk-on by a Daniel Libeskind impersonator (the man himself was approached but declined), and depicts Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini and Josef Goebbels - played by obliging rabbits in full costume - as they implore Mr. Moses to transform the world through sacred geometry.
I can't even tell you how excited we are.
The Gates, the evening before. I'm looking forward to this.
Panoramic Moon Surfaces in QuickTime VR.
The New York Times > Theater > Arthur Miller, Legendary American Playwright, Is Dead:
After his autobiography was published in 1987, he reflected in an interview on the course he had taken in life. "It has gone through my mind how much time I wasted in the theater, if only because when you write a book you pack it up and send it off," he said. "In the theater, you spend months casting actors who are busy in the movies anyway and then to get struck down in half an hour, as has happened to me more than once ... You have to say to yourself: 'Why do it? It's almost insulting.'"
But when asked how he wanted to be remembered, he did not hesitate. "I hope as a playwright," he said. "That would be all of it."
Arthur Miller has passed away. Here's an interview from The Connection in 2002 with Miller, which I remember being pretty good...it's the last time I heard him speak.
Miller was a giant, though I, like most folks, never cared nearly as much for his later work as the early plays that made his reputation. There's a lot of the later work because Miller never stopped writing--even at 89 he was churning out new plays all the time. Regardless of how history views these works, it is an impressive thing to stay in the saddle that long, and his contributions to young and mid-career playwrights will resonate for years to come.
Miller used to eat at Casserta Vecchia, a restaurant near our apartment. We were already planning on eating there this evening, and now we have more reasons to do so.
For Suzanne--may your beer pouring always be vigorous, steady and well-intended.
Superfreaky, The Slow, Embarrassing Death of the Superhero, by Paul Constant (02/10/05):
A boy of about 8 tugged on his father's sleeve at one of the many booths packed with plastic-wrapped back issues. "Look, Dad," the boy said, genuinely excited, "They have Conan comic books!" The father ignored his son, grunting in response, because he was too busy ogling a double-sized Green Lantern anniversary issue from the 1980s. The few kids in attendance seem to know that superheroes are dead and shameful, safe and dull, that they never change and they always win.
I noticed a young man in a black trench coat dressed as Doctor Octopus, the bad guy from Spider-Man 2. He had affixed to his trench coat "tentacles" made out of soda cans duct-taped end to end, and a Doctor Octopus action figure was sewn onto his hat. Each of the four tentacles extended about four feet out from his waist, and for most of the convention he wrestled with his own robot limbs, staggering from booth to booth, humbly accepting compliments on his outfit from awed fanboys.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are coming to NYC. Their site has some amazing stuff--both visually, and pedantically, as they are very, very particular about almost everything. From their "Common Errors" list:
•Christo and Jeanne-Claude never fly in the same airplane.
•Christo works an average of 17 hours a day.
•Christo and Jeanne-Claude never wrapped any islands. They surrounded the islands.
It's a priceless look inside an ornery mind. Er, minds. Well, mind--officially, they only speak TOGETHER. Eeek.
One of the first things in my inbox as I check email back at my desk at home, from a colleague knowing we're returning today:
New York embraces you both between her bruised yet eager thighs...
Ah, she certainly does. She certainly does.
Heading back to NYC--we'll be in transit all day, so no updates until late.
A Spiral Notebook
The bright wire rolls like a porpoise
in and out of the calm blue sea
of the cover, or perhaps like a sleeper
twisting in and out of his dreams,
for it could hold a record of dreams
if you wanted to buy it for that
though it seems to be meant for
more serious work, with its
college-ruled lines and its cover
that states in emphatic white letters,
5 SUBJECT NOTEBOOK. It seems
a part of growing old is no longer
to have five subjects, each
demanding an equal share of attention,
set apart by brown cardboard dividers,
but instead to stand in a drugstore
and hang on to one subject
a little too long, like this notebook
you weigh in your hands, passing
your fingers over its surfaces
as if it were some kind of wonder.
Budding Jordan cyber love ends in divorce:
A budding romance between a Jordanian man and woman turned into an ugly public divorce when the couple found out that they were in fact man and wife...The shock of finding out their true identities was too much for the pair. Upon seeing Sanaa-alias-Jamila, Bakr-alias-Adnan turned white and screamed at the top of his lungs: "You are divorced, divorced, divorced" -- the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in Islam. "You are a liar," Sanaa retorted before fainting.
(Check out the photographer!)
I am reasonably happy with my new digital camera--it is fast, light and takes reasonably great pictures, with a very good video mode. Then Tynes points me here, and I am overcome with lust for 4000 megapixel images...1000 times my current resolution. I am undone. Leander has more on the goals of this delightfully crackpot undertaking.
Adam Gopnik on the infuriating new signs in NYC:
Worse than merely unfamiliar, though, the signs are infuriating—first, because they are there for the convenience of cars, and thus violate the first Law of Civilization, which states that nothing must ever be done for the convenience of cars (the mark of a city worth living in is that there are never enough places to park); and, second, because they eclipse, as décor, the jaunty, jazz-era syncopation of the classic New York street-corner sign pair, each sign gesturing toward its own street, but with the two set at slightly different levels, so that they have a happy, semaphoric panache.
Coming up next...
SUNDAY, February 13, 5:00 PM
EAST SIDE ORAL
the reading series your mother warned you about
is proud to present readings by
with music by Andrew Vladeck
at THE LIVING ROOM
154 Ludlow (btw. Rivington and Stanton)
F to 2nd Ave
2 drink minimum
CBC News: NASA budget calls for Hubble's end:
The famous but troubled camera is heading for a "robotic de-orbit mission," the space agency said Monday in its budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
This is stupid, stupid, stupid...why not replace it? Why? Because Bush's initiative is all Mars, all the way--and while I love manned space exploration, it's short-sighted to kill what's worked BEST about NASA to achieve questionable future goals, especially ones that may get undercut easily by a future administration.
Mark my words--there will be a new Hubble, run by the ESA or someone else...and we'll have to go begging at their facilities to use it.
Wonderful day--we drove up to Seattle from Portland, and the weather could not have been more excellent, the company sweeter or the music better...I burned a CD of Zevon tunes and we just let it all soak in--the certain knowledge that we were actually not performing this evening, and that we were here, under our own power, driving to wherever we wished. How often do most people get that kind of freedom, the feeling of release? Not often enough.
I'm at the in-laws--upstairs games are being played, and I'm filing this report from down below, as is my want. We've had a great dinner, the dog is running amuck, there was wine--it's just about perfect, that's what it is.
In closing, I offer a Latin translation of ICE, ICE, BABY.
GELU, O GELU CARA VANILLAE GELUS
doo doo doo, doo-doo-doo-doo
doo doo doo, doo-doo-doo-doo...
Etenim, siste, me iuva, auscultaque
(Indeed: Halt, aid me, and take heed)
Gelu redivit cum inventione novissima
(Frost has returned with a very new invention)
Nescioquid me constringit
(Something constrains me)
Fluo ceu hasta baleanarum necandarum noctu et quotidie
(I flow in the manner of a whale-killing spear daily and by night)
Umquam hoc desistetne? Ego dubito.
(Shall this ever cease? I myself doubt it.)
Lucernis restinctis luceam
(When the lamps are extinguished I shall shed light)
Ad ultimum flecto microphonem ut vandal
(I bend the microphone to the furthest point like a germanic tribesman)
Scenam illumino et ineptum incero etsi candelam faciam
(I brighten the stage and cover an inept man in wax as if I were making a taper)
Salta, rue ad originem sonituum resonantium
(Dance, hasten to the source of resounding noises)
Sic cerebrum tuum laedo quomodo Claudium Imperatorem Agrippina Neroque interfecrunt
(I am wounding your brain in the manner that Agrippina and Nero killed the Emperor Claudius)
Letalis sum, quando cantum validum modulor
(I am fatal when I warble a hearty tune)
Quicquid peius optimo nefas
(Anything worse than the best is blasphemy)
Aut id ama aut discede, gravitatem tuam augere oportet
(Either love it or leave, you ought to increase your weightiness)
Debes tendere sagittam ad volucrem traiecto in fune columbam – infans negat
(You ought to aim for the dove hoisted on the rope* – the child refuses)
Si quaestio exsisteret, solutionem offerem
(If there were a debate I should offer a solution)
Carmen meum probas dum discafer meus revolvit
(Evaluate my refrain while my disk-bearer revolves)
Gelu, O Gelu, Cara
(Frost. O, Frost, Darling!)
Mad props to the translator. Peace out.
Yes, it is over. We're packed, and headed up to Seattle for a few days of meetings, family and (relative) relaxation.
Oh, and what's with this Sicha interview with Christopher Shinn? 45 minutes of analysis EVERY DAY? Yikes.
And *this* is the best picture the Times could get of him? He looks like he's going to keep on smiling as he eats the photographer.
GOODBYE, PORTLAND! BE GOOD! DRINK YOUR MILK!
I think I've rarely enjoyed a Slate diary as much as I'm enjoying this latest one by Inigo Thomas, dissecting the movable feast of Bohemia, Old New York and the assorted pleasures and pains of island living, Manhattan-style. Simply a fantastic read.
"Few places relate to the life of New York as well as its restaurants. They come and go, like the city's inhabitants; they break up as fast as many of New York's couples, lasting barely a season; or they survive trying times and perhaps even grow old. There are restaurants for anniversaries; restaurants remembered for a first meeting of minds; restaurants never visited again, poisoned by food or a falling apart; restaurants for making things up after a rough phase."
Marvelous, through and through.
Farhad Manjoo is jizzing for Apple--but he does make one very salient point I haven't heard a lot of people making amidst all the Apple hoopla:
Thanks to the Web, it is also now easier to start using the Mac without really going through the hassle of "switching." Key applications -- like e-mail in the form of GMail, or photos with Flickr -- are available on any platform, reducing your dependence on Windows.
This is so very true, and I'm seeing this effect all the time--the Net is the killer app, but not the way that folks thought it would be with push technologies and server-side apps...instead it's simply that the Net is where the most people play, and the Net (for the most part) obeys common standards and plays well with everyone, making the type of computer you use at the other end irrelevant. That's great news for Apple, as they do well in the digital lifestyle arena, where online connectivity can't replace end-user firepower and usability for editing DVDs and the like.
NYC bicycle abuse:
Because of the cold, there weren't that many riders, so the Mass was not quite critical enough. With absolutely no blocking of any traffic the mass took off from Union Square. I made it about 4 blocks before I was swarmed by cops on scooters who grabbed me off my bike and put me in handcuffs. Let me make one point particularly clear: I WAS RIDING IN THE BIKE LANE at the time of my arrest. The mass was small so we it wasn't taking up the whole road and everyone was riding off to the side. Not that it mattered. A small woman who was riding behind me was forcibly pulled from her bike and thrown to the ground with a knee in the back of her neck.
A flier in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:
"WILLIAMSBURG DOESN'T NEED A SPACE ELEVATOR! The Space Elevator Will Mean: Less Parking, Weird Ribbon Thing, Constant Loud Whirring Noise, Increased Space Elevator Truck Traffic. Developers have submitted plans to build a massive space elevator in Williamsburg! This monstrosity, completely out of context with existing development in the neighborhood, will be accessible only to the wealthy, forcing thousands of average Williamsburgers from their homes and live-work spaces! Jobs the elevator will generate (operators, repairmen, astronauts) are certain to go to non-residents! Don't sit idly by and let this elevator cast its impossibly long, cold, and very narrow shadow over our homes! CALL 311 AND TELL THEM 'I JUST DON'T NEED THIS SPACE ELEVATOR!'"
McDonalds Wants You To F*ck Its Sandwiches
Laura Miller writes a good summation in Salon debunking the "5 million burned witches/the Church wanted to destroy wymyn" logic I was always being force-fed in college. Atrocities happened, but the scale was local, and the burnings were used by many different groups to settle personal scores, feuds, grudges and, in many cases, being a mother--motherhood in that time period was a cherished and uncommon commodity.
Grand Theft Auto: Myst
lindsayism.com: wherein Lindsay tangles with the latest in Customer Service stupidity, the automated IKEA Java chatbot.
Me: I wanna touch your boobies.
Anna: I cannot as I am a computer program and I do not have a corporeal dimension. Please submit a question which is specifically about IKEA.
Me: I wanna touch your boobies on an IKEA couch.
Anna: How is IKEA different from other furnishing stores? We offer a wide range, good design and function, and also low prices. That's our business idea.
Me: That wasn't what I asked.
An extremely extensive survey of 100,000 students finds that American high-school students today don't know or care too much about freedom of speech. Here's the frightening takeaway--
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did. The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
He's for liberty at home: "Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world."
Unless you're gay: "For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage."
Thank goodness he beat that flip-flopper.
Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?
"Doggy Style" is really the only title that works, isn't it?
A newlywed Cambodian husband caught by his wife in bed with the family dog angered her even more by proclaiming his love for the dog and asking for a divorce.
Pretty good piece on the always-deprecating Paul Giamatti. When he did theater in Seattle he was a stalwart member at Annex Theater--I know he worked with Dan Fields, and Narver, I assume. Before my time, but only a bit before--I came on the scene as grunge was dying or dead, and in its void slackerdom was reaching new heights, hibernating in the warm, good economy before the advent of dot-com mania.
The houses in Portland continue to amaze--the show has been selling out night after night, we added shows, added seats and still it sells out. It's a real push to the end now, with the final performance Sunday night--it'll be the last time we do 21 Dog Years for awhile, the fall at least, and possibly a lot longer...for the first time, there is the real possibility that the show may be going to sleep for a long time.
But that's fine--and how wonderful for it to be fine! Between Monopoly! at the Ohio and the non-stop tour of The Ugly American from May until August, there really isn't room for 21 Dog Years right now--and after 250+ performances over four years it's earned a substantial break. I'll miss the show, because it's so much a part of my blood and bone, but I'm sure there'll come a time to bring it back up again, and I have no doubt that it'll be there, ready to go--it's bulletproof at this point, a wonderful place for a work to get to.
On that note, I have a noon performance tomorrow. Oy.
Top ten Mac failures--though I think they should scratch MS Office 6. How is that Apple's fault?
Mac mini accessories already hitting stores...now you have to buy one!
Comprehensive review of the Radio SHARK--record radio for listening to later. I want one of these for NPR.
Guide to converting Real Audio files to mp3s; command line and shell scripts needed, but the skinny is here.
Did you know how freaky the Japanese were about their toilets? Now you do.
And now, a story of the American theater that is not mordant or depressing, but hopeful.
I know--never here, right? Doesn't happen, right? It feels that way, a lot of days--an art form under-appreciated and often missing its niche, American theater spends its days and nights wailing as one light after another goes dark, until the very last subscriber goes home.
But not tonight in Seattle. The beleaguered Empty Space Theatre has made its emergency fundraising goal, and will continue creating challenging, contemporary new works. Read the skinny here, and this the part that makes my heart swell:
Most of the emergency fund contributions came from individuals, Galatros said. There were 2,293 such donations, the bulk of them under $500. The average contribution was $176. "The Space constituency has always been mostly ordinary people," Galatros said, "and it was basically those folks who came to our rescue." There was one corporate contribution, $8,000 from The Boeing Co., and gifts from two foundations, Lucky Seven ($25,000) and Breneman Jaech ($10,000).
In a world of constant corporate co-option and theaters who spend their every last minute watching the NEA and foundations for signs of whose ass they need to kiss faster this is fan-fucking-tastic. Theater by people, paid for by the people who want the theater to exist--it's so novel and rare and beautiful and right that it makes you want to sing a hallelujah.
I've never worked at Empty Space--it's one of the few places in Seattle I haven't played. But I hope to remedy that someday, and I'm extremely grateful that it's a hell of a lot more probable today, thanks to tons of artists, board members, volunteers and audience members who knew they had a great thing and wouldn't let go of it, no matter how much it might have looked lost.
A good illustration of the tragedy of the commons, w/r/t wristbands:
Purple, for instance, now signifies support for Alzheimer patients, abused animals, battered women, epileptics, children in foster care, or people with irritable bowel syndrome, among other things. Teal invokes the fight against ovarian cancer, except when it invokes the fight against myasthenia gravis, drug addiction, or sexual assault. Gray can raise awareness about brain cancer, diabetes, disabled children, emphysema, lung cancer, multiple sclerosis, mental illness, or a couple of diseases I've never heard of; or it can raise awareness about asthma or allergies. ("Please join me in the fight to cure hay fever.")
Read the rest.
Scott Morfee, a great producer and a good friend, is quoted in this NYT piece on the difficulties of breaking even Off Broadway.
"It took us pretty much the whole ride to recoup," said Scott Morfee, one of the play's producers. "I mean, if you look at the heyday of Off Broadway, in the late 90's, you had all kinds of shows recouping - 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch,' 'How I Learned to Drive.' But it seems shows don't seem to burn as hot or fast anymore."
McKinley's piece says that the average cost to mount an Off Broadway run is now between $500,000 and a million, and I don't doubt it--we ran 21DY as tight as a ship could be run and came in well under that, but that's owing a lot to having just one performer. Most shows can't cut those kind of corners, and so Off Broadway costs are spiraling up toward the Broadway costs. This in turn drives ticket prices up, which in turn drives away the very people you most need to see the shows.
It's a good article--multifaceted, well-researched, thorough. I didn't know that the John Houseman Theatre had shuttered, and if it does indeed get demolished that will be a shame--I had long wanted to play the downstairs there, which I thought would be a great spot for a monologue. It's funny--I've worked with Rick Dresser, who wrote ROUNDING THIRD, the play whose life cycle is dissected in the piece, and reading this I began to realize I know a lot of people in the business. Rick's Beach Boys musical opens today, and I hope it does well by him.
My thanks to everyone who came--we sold the theater out to standing-room only, which is an incredible achievement for ALL STORIES ARE FICTION. It was a magical evening, and I really do thank you all for coming out to the show.