Thursday, December 24, 2009
There are a few I look forward to hearing each season.
But there is only one song that caresses my cheek, pulls my heart out of my chest, sticks it with a needle full of horse, slams it back into my body and then crawls into my lap purring.
And while I LOVE LOVE LOVE the original by the Pogues, I have to say, I really love this version of "Fairytale of New York" by Billy Bragg.
It's beautiful, it's awful, it's desolate, but in the end, it's hopeful.
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true
They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me
You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night
The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day
You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last
I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I recall the winter day, in 2nd grade (or maybe it was 3rd grade?) that a brother and a sister, the blondest kids in the room, stood up, pulled out a menorah and told us about the festival of lights.
Mitch Gordon was in my class and I'm sure we played more games of kickball than I can recall. He was like any of the other boys in my class. Usually in my way and looking to get thumped by this tomboy.
But on that sun dappled morn, I looked at him with fresh, new eyes. I can say with 100% certainty, that he was he first boy I ever remember looking at and thinking, "Hmmm...he suddenly looks interesting enough to hold hands with at recess," and, "He's so dreamy."
And thus began my on again, off again lifelong love affair with men of the Jewish faith.
Also, many of them are funny fucking bastards.
Monday, December 21, 2009
This weekend I was twice reminded that not only are people filled with the brand of humanity, kindness and grace that I aspire to, but that it's real and outreaching...it you let it be.
Last Saturday, Dec. 5th, something startling and wonderful happened at The Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond.
The manager on duty, Linda, tells me that a couple in their 30s paid their check at the register, then asked the cashier to let them secretly pay the check of another couple in the dining room - a couple they didn't know.
"They just wanted to do it," she said. "They thought it would be a nice thing to do."
When the unsuspecting patrons went to pay their check, they were floored to find out that strangers had picked up their tab. So they asked the cashier to let them pay another table's check, also anonymously.
When that table's patrons approached the register, they, too, decided to pay the favor forward for yet another table of unsuspecting strangers.
For two hours, delighted customer after delighted customer continued to pay the favor forward. And a buzz began to grow. Not among patrons, who had no inkling what was going down at the register, but among the dining-room wait staff - Marvin, Rosie, Jasmine and Lynn - and other Aramingo workers moving in and out of the room.
The impact made an out-sized impression on the staff, who marveled at how that initial, single act of generosity kept repeating itself.
All in all, about 20 checks were "paid forward."
The lovely cycle finally ended, two hours after it began, when a lone diner, clearly unacquainted with the "pay it forward" concept, seemed befuddled that someone had picked up his check. He simply accepted the favor, grunted, and left.
Notes Linda, "He didn't even leave a tip."
So, on the off-chance that the first pay-it-forward couple at the Aramingo Diner is reading this, please know that your gesture of kindness didn't end when you walked out the door.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
One could feel the collective sigh of relief go up in WNEPland.
What started out as a writing assignment (write a scene inspired by a specific set of Edward Hopper paintings) over 2 years ago, has finally been put into the hands of 17 actors and a band of able-bodied production folk.
I'm a contributing writer and as we went through the reading for the very first time with the cast, the actor playing the character I mainly wrote for was sitting directly beside me.
It's hard to describe listening to someone else read words you put on a page. Overall, I would define it as "quite satisfying."
My job as "writer" is complete.
My job as assistant director is just getting started.
(more on that later.)
My job as costume designer is already in full swing.
I have several goals for the costume design:
- maintaining/representing the fashions of 1952 accurately.
- using the paintings that inspired each scene for some direct/literal design ideas
- other costumes will be influenced more symbolically by Hopper's colors and themes - using colors from the "Hopper palette."
The supra cool part is that I adore his paintings. Getting to study them to find the elements which I think apply to each scene and character is really just a delightful exercise for my brain.
Now...finding all these vintage pieces?
That's gonna take some work.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
There are still a few colorful leaves hanging on for dear life here and there, but instead of a robust array of reds, oranges and golds, it's getting to be pretty much mustard and brown uber alles.
And mostly, it's uber alles the ground.
I'm one of those folks who's mood is very affected by the weather.
When I notice a spectacular blue sky?
My heart will expand three sizes.
When I see the wind move through a tree straight out of a crayola box?
I want to point it out to strangers waiting at the train station with me.
When I feel a breeze (hot or cold) that hits you at just the right time?
I want to pull out a mason jar and chase it around like a firefly.
It's not really Seasonal Affective Disorder...it's not like I'm just happy in the summer (I'm not, I bitch about the humidity non-stop), or sad in the winter (there's nothing I like finer than a snowfall...if I'm stuck at home and not out in it.)
Just call me easily swayed.
I saw this picture over at dooce and got all swoony when I saw this ivy covered fence.
(I encourage you to click it to see the BIG version which is way better than this rinky dink copy.)
Just looking at a picture of autumn in all her colorful regalia makes me go all knocked-kneed. There is no hope for me.
I'm in love with Autumn...and it's totally getting ready to dump me.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Photography by the excellent John Sisson.
The (edward) Hopper Project
Monday, November 2, 2009
Then it morphed into, "Everything in my brain is the equivalent to sensational news reports. It's all car accidents, cave-ins and child abductions. I really don't want to blog about that crap today. Or today. Or today. Or ever."
Then I went on vacation thinking, "Okay, I'm ready to write! I'll finally have time and be in a delightful mood!"
Instead I slept and read and procrastinated. A LOT. I was barely online that whole week.
In the midst of all of it, I was working on stuff for WNEP's next project which I'm REALLY EXCITED ABOUT, but that took the remains whatever reserve energy I had left in my back pocket.
Also. I blame Facebook.
Why spend time writing a coherent collection of paragraphs, when a well phrased zinger (not necessarily a complete sentence, even) will do!
When I look back at October, while a bunch of good stuff happened last month, it was the least Rockingest Rocktober in quite a while. Which, to be honest, confused the hell out of me. October was crowned long ago as the Most Awesome Month of the Year. When it failed to meet my usual expectations, I sat in a stunned bubble of "WTF!" for a wee bit longer than I should have.
I'm taking a cue from Fred and Ginger.
I have "Pick Yourself Up" playing in my head on a loop.
Nothing's impossible, I have found.
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up, dust myself off, start all over again.
Don't lose your confidence if you slip.
Be grateful for the pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.
Work like a soul inspired 'til the battle of the day is won
You may be sick and tired, but you'll be a man, my son.
Will you remember the famous men who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath,
Pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.
- Swing Time, 1936
I've decided to give November a shot at the title.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Auditions are SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24 and SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25 from Noon - 5pm at the DCA Studio Theater, 77 E Randolph (located inside the Cultural Center.) Must be available for callbacks on Monday, October 26 from 7pm - 10pm.
To schedule a 5 minute audtion, please email Don hall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, email address, and contact phone number.
We will schedule a slot for you and contact you with audition requirements. There is minimal pay.
Dude. You should totally audition for this.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I thought I could be quiet about the Polanski arrest.
Folks more versed than myself, were saying what I would, but more concisely.
Honestly, in this day and age, can anyone defend a 40 yr old who had sex with a 13 yr old? Really?
But then a small contingent of "artists" had to put their .02 down on the wrong horse. Here is a list of folks I really lost respect for today:
Gael Garcia Bernal
Guillermo del Toro
Buck Henry (which makes his SNL character "Uncle Roy" really really gross.)
This is not about a crime against artistic freedom or expression.
This is not a criticism of a man's creative work.
This is not about political persecution of an artist.
This is literally about the fact that after admitting to giving a 13 yr old girl alcohol/drugs and having unconsensual sex with her (read the grand jury testimony) and pleading down to lesser charges...after spending 45 days in jail and taking to a psychiatrist, Polanski jumped bail and left the country.
It's so overwhelmingly disappointing that these folks can't separate Polanski the filmmaker from Polanski the fugitive child rapist (because no matter what he pleaded down to? He raped that girl, folks.)
Some of these folk - their work - mi dios! It's had a big impact on the kind of stories I want to tell. So much so that I want to find an excuse for them for signing this petition. That they were in a rush when someone stuck a petition under their nose and they didn't really think about it and just signed.
But, I'm making excuses.
They signed it. And they're wrong. Period.
I'd add Woody Allen to the list...but honestly, I lost all respect for him in the mid-90's. Also, the complete lack of irony in Allen's support? Unfathomable.
Friday, September 4, 2009
For those folks in town who haven't seen THEMS, hopefully this might tempt you into coming out...there are just a few more weeks to catch it.
For those of you who have seen it, the video below is a completely different perspective on the show.
Last week, the fantastic Kevin Reome came in as "Jack Bannion." Think something along the lines of a documentary/reality show in the vein of "Dirty Jobs" or "Man vs. Wild." As the host of "Space Danger," Jack is following the the EHT crew and documenting life aboard a mining class ship.
It's like seeing the show thru entirely new eyes. I adore it.
It's very Blair Witchy - in the best sense.
This is actual footage Kevin shot while performing live during the show, in front of an audience.
None of this is scripted, none of it rehearsed.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Whether you were a fan or not matters little - if you were a teen (or pre-teen) in the mid-80's, the influence of John Hughes' movies likely impacted you on some level.
I was 14 and a freshman the spring "16 Candles" came out.
And like so many girls that age, it didn't take long for me to idolize Molly Ringwald and her characters - her cool, her clothes, her car, the fantasy of the cute boy throwing over the prom queen for you and "getting you" even though you were six kinds of awkward misfit.
And after getting her boobies fondled by grandma, she developed a backbone and retorts and, while still agnsty, she stood tall in her "apartness" and was true to herself.
But more than the stories or characters on screen, what I really connected with was Hughes ear for soundtracks. He put songs my friends and I listened to on screen. Artists that probably didn't get much radio play in the days of Madonna and Whitney, but folks we worshipped on our headphones and dance floors.
His soundtracks were freakish mirrors of the mix-tapes we would make and pass around to each other.
Everything But the Girl
Tears for Fears
Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Love and Rockets
Gene Loves Jezebel
Jesus and the Mary Chain
The Pyschedelic Furs
Wall of Voodoo
Big Audio Dynamite
Echo & the Bunnyman
I had "Pretty in Pink" on vinyl.
I had "Some Kind of Wonderful" on cassette.
I still have "She's Having a Baby" on CD around here somewhere.
I said it.
I own a copy of that soundtrack.
Admittedly, while not the greatest of his many hits, "She's Having a Baby" is still one of my favorites for three reasons. The soundtrack was hawesome. The silly outro of folks coming up with a baby name during the credits still makes me grin. Last, but not least, it was the first time I heard this song...
I can't embed it her version of the actual music video...so you have to go elsewhere to watch it. Trust me, it's worth the click. (It's worth noting that Bush directed that video.)
I already knew Kate Bush.
Loved "Running Up That Hill."
But, this song.
If you ever want to see me cry like a little girl, put this song on and turn it up.
20+ years later and I still think it's one of the most beautiful songs. Ever.
My only gripe is that in '89, it wasn't nominated for an Oscar* - hey, it might have still been beat out by Carly Simon's "Let the River Run," but we'll never know because it was never nominated. Idiots. Hell, I'm still shocked that the woman was only nominated for a Grammy one time. Once. Arg.
But, this isn't about awards and accolades, it's about memories and influences and those things hardwired into your brain.
I will always think of John Hughes when I hear this song and I will always think of this song when someone mentions John Hughes.
Thank you for putting this in my head John Hughes.
And thank you for embracing a music culture apart from the mainstream.
Rest in peace.
*indeed, Bush wrote this song specifically for the film and then released it the following year on her album, "The Sensual World."
Sunday, July 26, 2009
On what kind of friend I've been (sometimes good, sometimes not so good), what friendships I've fostered or been fostered by, the different types of friends that float in and out of my life and the ones that have been stalwart and sure for decades.
A big part of my identity has always been based in my self perception of "friend."
Much of what I consider to be good in my life is based not on my intelligence, experience or humor...but in the intelligence, experience and humor shared and discovered with my friends.
Tonight, as I kicked back with a group of folks I would likely go to the ends of the earth for, I told an old chestnut of a long-running joke about one of my oldest and dearest friends who was present. After the laughter died down and most of the crowd left us alone, I asked him if he ever got mad at me for some stupid thing I say or did. He thought about it for a moment and said no. (Which I think has a little more to do with him being such a laid back and easy going fella and less to do with my loud mouth.)
It made me consider the times I've been a good friend and other times when I've been kind of a louse and my very good fortune of having friends willing to put up with the louse-y parts of my personality to enjoy what might be my better angels.
Then I saw this video and I'm amazed by how much it says (and so simply) how much I wish I could go back and undo all the silly, stupid things I may have done or said to my friends (and even folks that just crossed my path at the wrong moment) who I might have injured - even on the smallest level.
I suppose this is an unofficial declaration of my rededication to the friendships in my world - of all shapes and sizes.
Monday, July 6, 2009
In days of olde, women gathered for quilting bees and sewing bees - ever the productive and efficient gender.
When reviewing our skill sets and our need to take a break from both bringing home the bacon and also frying it up in a pan, our ladies auxiliary went for an event more social than utilitarian.
We decided to hold a Tequila Bee.
I'm not a big drinker these days.
I'm what you would call the "occasional imbiber."
It should be stated that, more times than not, if I feel like putting my drinking cap on or attempt to relive my rowdy 20's, I normally have to Plan. That. Shit. Out.
I believe the equation is that for every 1 hour I drink, I need 5 hours of recovery time.
Even after doing the math, I was highly anticipating the chance to throw a few back with friends and letting my brain float away on a wash of fermentation, come what may. Friday was such a day.
A few of the ladies gathered on a friend's back porch. Reminiscent of a pot-luck, we each brought something to the table.
I showed up with the Tequila (two kinds), limes and a double batch of fresh guacamole. B picked up the chips, salsa, fancy cookies and the Triple Sec. J brought some tasty mini-tacos a la Trader Joe's (damn. TJ's has some tasty hors devours!) And K made some of her home brewed sour mix especially for the occasion.
It was the perfect weather to just sit on the porch and swim around in Margaritaville. We people watched (the porch has a bird's eye view of an el platform), regaled each other with saucy tales and just plain relaxed our minds and bodies.
While we didn't walk away with a Friendship Ring quilt or husk any corn, I think that we lived up to the true nature of a "bee" and accomplished a productive task that drew us together as friends and neighbors.
We got stewed.
In fact, we had such a delightful time, we're already planning another for later this summer...and I wouldn't be surprised if a Martini Bee doesn't pop up in the fall.
While a huge party of friendly folk is nice, a small cadre of companions is sometimes a better balm to soothe the beastie within.
My recommendation to you (whether or not you have alcohol on hand) is an afternoon spent on a back porch with a small group of friends telling stories and making each other laugh.
Although, I really would recommend the liquor.
On a specific note, while the standard José Cuervo Gold is fine for mixing, do yourself a proper and get a better quality tequila for doing shots. We went with José Cuervo Black Medallion (aged for more than one year in oak casks) and baby, that was some smooth agave for anyone on a budget.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Yeah. I'm back.
Yeah. My brain is slowly recovering from a slight bout of heat stroke.
Until I'm back in the proverbial saddle, I'll give you this...which puts a smile on my face and makes me dance in my seat until I get up and shake what my mama gave me.
The gentleman in the video is Jim Slonina, currently a clown with Cirque du Soleil and former member of the brilliant (now defunct) Defiant Theater company here in Chicago.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's a small slice of freedom, it is.
Go see Star Trek.
Ok. Yeah. You've probably already seen it. I try to avoid the opening weekend flicks. I tend to wait a few weeks so I'm not ass-to-elbow with other theater-goers. Although, I think a big crowd would have been nice on this score. We had a small crowd, but some really vocal responses to the flickering screen - which had me snorting in my popcorn.
It's everything a summer blockbuster should be and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Although, it's fairly ironic that while I enjoyed this freewheeling feeling of a Wednesday afternoon at the movies, the clock was ticking down to pull my other chariot out from under me. My car was in the shop, awaiting a brake inspection while James Tiberius Kirk was attempting to save the day.
I always wonder how people live without a car in the city. Yeah, I know how to get around on public transit, but I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do with a regular set of wheels at the ready. To be honest, when I bought my condo in 2004, I thought by 2006 or 2007 at that latest, I'd be turning in my beater for another set of (used) wheels.
Of course, 18K+ in special assessments and frozen pay raises and a bum economy and my personal hurdle of being a "challenged" saver, has kept me in one beat up hunk of auto. I've had this car (which I bought with 40k miles on it) for 10 years and (an additional) 100K miles.
She ain't pretty, but she gets the job done.
Many times I've considered turning her into an art project...she's never going to be traded in, and she's worth next to nothing in blue book. Her next home will be the auto yard. So, I toy with the idea of doing something like this or this or even this.
Maybe this is the year.
Maybe I put her up on craig's list and allow some up and coming art major to use her for their thesis. My fear is that I get some modern-day O'Keefe who wants to turn my beater into a giant, four-wheeled vagina.
Not that there is anything wrong with a giant vagina...I just don't really want to go grocery shopping in one.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Not even thoughts of the delightful Neil Patrick Harris hosting could woo me to turn it back on.
This morning, I heard about NPH's closing number and I have little doubt, that it was the finest moment of the show.
And I quote,
This show could not be any gayer,
If Liza was named mayor
And Elton John took flight...
The curtain falls
I'm off to hit some big Tony balls....
This is why Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog is so freaking worthwhile...Mr. Neil Patrick Harris, my friend. Except no substitute.
And yes, I'm tickled by the quaint irony that he's singing to the tune of the very song/show that made me run screaming into the night. The universe, she's got a sense of humor, that one.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
And then reenacted a scene from "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" to prove his point.
I think Andy Serkis would have been proud.
Of both of us.
Monday, May 11, 2009
On Saturday 9, the Playground Theater debuted THEMS, a simultaneously creepy and goofy improvised play that lovingly spoofs the sci-fi/horror genre Ripley Scott mastered with Alien, the film that began an enduring (if not eventually lame) franchise and countless knockoffs.
THEMS takes place in 2156, in a post-earth society in which humans have now colonized Mars and are attempting to do the same with Venus. But in order to make the planet inhabitable, they must secure a rare element known as Carbon9. A crew of futuristic 49ers have landed on an uncharted asteroid and culled the largest concentration of the element in recorded history—a feat which will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams—if they can survive the journey home. A mysterious bacteria is latching onto crew members and zombifying them all—one poor bastard at a time.
In order to more fully immerse the audience into this premise, show producers John Eiberger and Ross Foti along with director Rebecca Langguth, have done something improvised shows rarely do, ratchet up the production values, and they’ve done it successfully. THEMS admirably transports the audience into outer space with painted canvass backgrounds that recreate the inner bowels of a spaceship, spacesuits for crew members, a crafty mainframe computer named VOX (played with deadpan earnest by Chris O. Biddle) who spits out commands and ship details and who we sense, like Ian Holm’s nefarious android Ash in Alien, has an agenda of its own, and face masks for the audience (a gratuitous, if not funny addition). There’s even a flamethrower!
But the real attention to detail is in character archetypes. THEMS‘ motley crew of greedy, booze-swilling space cowboys each maintains his own position aboard the ship—the veteran space engineer, the dutiful captain, the company man, etc.—and like in Alien (or even more accurately, Alien Resurrection), this grizzled band of galactic pirates each has an ulterior motive; they’re more devoid of humanity then the monster they’re warding off. THEMS is a wink-filled tribute to the characters and situations that fill the sci-fi genre and the ensemble plays this to the hilt. The pleasure in THEMS is watching these guys improvise their way out of stock sci-fi conundrums (the ship is self-destructing!, there’s not enough room in the escape pod for everyone!, there’s a stowaway on board!) and do so within the constraints of the genre. Although these feats were pulled off with only partial aplomb on opening night (a lot of plot lines ended up unresolved), as the ensemble continues to experiment week after week, it will be interesting to see how they’ll play with sci-fi’s unlimited possibilities.
THEMS probably won’t appeal to anyone who greeted the release of J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek with a yawn. But if you can name the actor and film in which the line “Game over, man! Game Over!” is uttered, then the Playground has a nice alternative to Sigourney Weaver duking it out with an angry alien bitch.
Then there's Don, who was less impressed with our efforts.
And since Don taught me the "art" of the "pick" when it comes to reviews, I'd like to thank him for writing the following in his review: "...unique...", "truly inspired", "sincerely busting their asses" , and "a real bitch."
Here's the deal. You don't create theater for reviews. You create it because you get an idea in your head that gets under your skin until you have to pull the trigger and manifest it on a stage.
(Good reviews can be helpful in getting asses in the seats, though, so I'm not looking any gift horse in the mouth. Nobody attached to THEMS is getting paid for their work - the main goal is to recoup production costs. Sounds kinda familiar, huh...?)
For me, the only opinions that truly matter are the folks who are working on the show. The ones who put the sweat in. When they are satifisfied with the performance they have given...that's the success. That's the worth.
That said, I really want the folks who lay down their dime to enjoy the show. Because I enjoyed my part in putting it there for their amusement.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Opening night was...bumpy. It had it's moments, but overall, it was a bit rougher around the edges than it should have been.
Normally, prior to opening, a show will have a rough rehearsal where wrong turns are made. We never had that bad rehearsal...and I feel that, in a way...last night, it happened.
The thing about a rough rehearsal is that by going through it, like any time you make a misstep, you learn so much and benefit from it more, than when things go smoothly. Last night wasn't awful, by any means, but it was rough in more places than we've encountered in the past month plus.
We learned a lot last night.
I personally make a rookie mistake that was a big lesson for me as a director and which I believe set the tone which started the show.
We also added a bunch of elements that the crew had not played with (due to various reasons) to the show last night...so the crew (what I call the cast), were juggling knives while spinnning brand new plates.
There were some hits and misses.
Our biggest hurdle with this format is getting too caught up in plot and not focusing on the relationships. We got plot heavy. Plot is a nowhere road, my friends.
Overall, I gave it a C.
Of course, I'm an asshole with really high expectations of myself and these folks. The show was only firing on about half of the cylinders we've constructed. Enough cylinders to make it fun for the audience...but not enough to make it satisfying for the crew.
That said, I was really proud of everyone. They've all put a lot of work into this peice and good work will out.
Yes. It was bumpy. We basically had an unplanned dress tech in front of an opening night audience. We set an amazingly high bar and fell a bit short of it last night.
I know what these folks can do. I've seen it and it's phenomenal.
I sprained both ankles last night (long story) by tripping twice on the same stair.
It's kind of an odd mirror, because I think we tripped the show up - got in our own way, instead of doing the work and embracing the joy that we normally bring to the floor.
I think last night they tripped...but now that they know where that fucking stair is, I have no doubt they will jump it and bring the bar back to the place where they want to play.
Next week, I expect our cylinders to be fully functional and I can't wait to watch them create that world and play in it. I think the world of those folks and can't wait for more audiences to see what they can create.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
On the drive home, with the window down, the pooch with her nose out the window, I channel surfed onto this song. And then I cranked that motha.
The very first album I ever bought (which technically was an 8-track), was back in 1977. I was 8 and my parents had just joined one of those new fangled music clubs (I think it was Columbia House) and they let each of us pick a couple out.
I have little doubt that, as much as BOSTON FREAKING ROCKS, in the age of glorious 70's cover art I'm sure that I was more than swayed by the spaceship. (I find it more than slightly amusing that, in a few short hours, we open a show set on a spaceship. Hmmm...beshert.)
While I don't have that 8-track anymore and never got around to replacing it on vinyl, cassette or CD over the years, I still can't help but crank a Boston song when I hear one on the radio.
As I put together the pre-show music for THEMS, I was focused on late 70's and early 80's rock that would have been playing at the same time the movies we used as inspiration were released.
Of course, Don't Look Back jumped right out at me...which got me playing more and more of Boston's discography...and wondering why I never replaced that 8-track.
Maybe I just like the way songs like that always take me by surprise when I hear them after not hearing them for a bit.
I have to say, when asked "What was your first album?"
I think 8-year old me nailed it.
Way to go, 8-year old me. Way to go.
[high fivin' my 8 year old self.]
Now if youre feelin kinda low bout the dues youve been paying
Futures coming much too slow
And you wanna run but somehow you just keep on stayin
Can't decide on which way to go
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I understand about indecision
But I dont care if I get behind
People livin in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
Now youre climbin to the top of the company ladder
Hope it doesnt take too long
Can't cha you see there'll come a day when it wont matter
Come a day when youll be gone
I understand about indecision
But I dont care if I get behind
People livin in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
Take a look ahead, take a look ahead,
yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
Now everybodys got advice they just keep on givin
Doesn't mean too much to me
Lots of people out to make-believe they're livin
Can't decide who they should be.
I understand about indecision
But I dont care if I get behind
People livin in competition
All I want is to have my peace of mind.
Take a look ahead, take a look ahead. look ahead.
Words to live by...which still hold up 30 years later.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Random thoughts swirling:
1. It's been a while since I've directed improv. I am so utterly excited and proud of this show and at the same time, I'm in fear that I will be the one to fuck it up. Or rather, keep it from being as utterly awesome as it already is.
2. I totally have a crush on every member of my cast. It's not a "dude, I wanna mack on you" crush. It's the kind of crush you get about a person's inner attributes. I'm crushing on their smarts, ability to be giddy with each other, commitment to the material, sense of timing and play, willingness to go there and the fact that they let me get away with using my vagina as both a reference point and a threat.
I recall something about refering to my vagina as a "control patch."
It seemed to make sense at the time. I'm sure the actual humilation of that moment will hit me in about a week, when they respectfully throw it back in my face.
3. My brain is tired due to an immense lack of sleep. All weekend I had trouble finding my words to express myself (which, hey, when you're directing folks? Being specific and using your words, is really the main requirement.) Here's the weird thing. I came in 2nd in a Spelling Bee on Saturday night. While drinking 3 beers.
I'm still shocked that I spelled bouillon correctly in the first round.
4. Yes. I shouldn't be drinking beers while on my meds. So noted. But, do I get points for not eating any chocolate cake or like a Whopper at 2am after getting drunk? People! I think I should get points!
5. As a rule, once a show is up (in the regular theater world) the director doesn't come to every single performance. There was a brief time when I thought, "Hey, I might miss a couple shows during the run for WNEP related stuff."
That day is over. I will not miss one minute of these shows and a part of me is already aching with the knowing that it will be over in just 8 performances.
6. Did I mention that Ross and John are assholes? They totally are. More people should have assholes like these in their periphery. You can't have them, though. They are my assholes. Get your own.
7. Getting emails from the cast that read, "I'm fucking excited." And, "effing out of my mind happy we open Saturday!" make me effing out of my mind happy and fucking excited that we open on Saturday.
8. Did I mention, starting May 16th, Don Hall is going to make me workout at 8am every freaking Saturday morning? I already hate him. And yet...no, I hate him. In the best way possible! Woot!
9. Our s***ies are the best s***ies in all the land! [You will never cypher this out...unless you see THEMS. Sorry. Dems da breaks.]
10. You'll be delighted to know that "Eat a bag of dicks," has dropped from the forefront of my brain. It was, instead, replaced by a new catch phrase that is both family-friendly, while still conveying the message and intent of "Eat a bag..."I present to you, "Simmer down, pot roast!"
Okay. I admit, it's kinda in the delivery, but man?
If you could hear it in my head? You might just do a spit take.
Okay. I've got a list of shit I need to suss out tonight.
I've got to get to sussin'!
Friday, May 1, 2009
We have one week left to take the training wheels off this bad boy.
Did I mention...it's a comedy?
This weekend is going to be non-stop production and rehearsal pandemonium. I just hope I'm not scratching myself in an inappropriate manner in front of the cast. Nothing undermines your authority like hopping around like you're an extra from the "itching powder in the sleeping bags" episode of The Brady Bunch.
Yesterday was plain awful. (Yeah. I'm quoting a singing redhead. Sue me.) Today is just as itchy and bumpy and annoying as yesterday. I'm counting the minutes until I can pop another Claritin (don't tell, I'm going to take it a little sooner than 24 hours!)
For someone who's really never had a lot of medical problems, this last month has been a roller coaster I would like a refund on. And yet, it's been supremely enjoyable in terms of working on the show.
Every day brings a new and glorious prop/costume peice or (even better) a fantastic choice by a performer to move the story along. Sitting watching smart people play smart people? It's the bee's knees, brother!
I wonder if I've ever said thank you to John and Ross?
Ah. Fuck 'em.
Those assholes can eat a bag of dicks.
In other news...be afraid, be very afraid.
And since I don't want to leave you entirely in the lurch for something to keep you occupied while I'm "offline", here's an upgrade on a classic.
Don't say I never did nuthin' for ya.
Note: I read "eat a bag of dicks" on a news blog today and it cracked me up and made me think of Mike Powers, who had that line in a play some years back. Nobody, and I mean nobody can deliver the line "eat a bag of dicks" like Powers.
Unfortunately, now, I can't stop repeating "eat a bag of dicks" in my head. I'm sure the meds are causing this along with the vertigo and the allergy. Stupid meds.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Okay, this one is slightly self-serving.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Last week, a marine salvage company, working with the naval aviation museum, hauled this out of Lake Michigan, about 30 miles from shore:
The aircraft went down during WWII training operations when naval pilots were being trained off Navy Pier for takeoffs and landings on aircraft carriers.
The plane was lost Nov. 24, 1944, as Ensign Joseph Lokites, a pilot with 380 flight hours, tried his third of about six required landings on the USS Wolverine.
"It just crashed. I guess it ran out of gas or something. I took over from another pilot," Lokites, 86, said in a phone interview from his Des Moines home. He landed in frigid water, and the right wing dipped under, but he was still able to jump out.
"It's not cold when you're fighting for life or death," he said, chuckling. "I was lucky."
A handful of pilots died, and more than 100 planes were lost to the lake. About 40 have been recovered, restored and spotlighted in Naval collections, museums and airport terminals.
While there are still about 60 planes hidden beneath the surface of the lake, chances of recovering them are getting slimmer due to the invasion of deep water quagga mussels (seen covering the plane.) Post restoration, this aircraft will be put on display in the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.
Man! I'm just thinking of all the Postmortem monologues I could have done if I read this ten years ago!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
We are 5 rehearsals away from opening this puppy.
Tonight's my first night off since Friday. I'm sure this rehearsal process is making the cast roll it's eyes at me every now and then, but I really think there is a method to the madness I'm inflicting upon them.
This is such a fun mesh of improv and stagecraft, I really can't wait for it to be ready for folks to see! The base for the crew costumes arrived this week and they look HAWESOME. We need to spruce them up a bit, make them look a little more lived in. I won't name names, but there's at least one crew member who doesn't want to take his off. That's how swank they are.
The cast/crew is so right on track it kills me. They really have gone above and beyond in creating folks with depth, personality and humor. For me, the devil is in the details. Delicious, delicious details.
At this point, it's all about running the show and tweaking the show. Tweaking costume, prop and tech details and helping the performers get comfortable enough to "oh yeah, go there!"
Also, did I mention....it's hysterical? They are hysterical. And so much fun.
I really owe the boys for bringing me onboard.
This show is makes me six kinds of giddy, yo!
Opening Night...May 9th.
Tickets $20 (worth every penny, son.)
Reserve your seat at: www.themsiscoming.com
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
When's the last time you went to your public library?
Dude. That's too long.
Now, granted, I live in a swinging metropolis and our public library system isn't too shabby, but no matter where you live, supporting your public library is one of the best things you can do for your brain, your wallet and your community.
My nearest library is the Kimball branch and it's kinda like your grandma's basement. It's not pretty or bright or architectually interesting like some branches, but it's got books and stuff!
They have the usual on tap - books, audio books, DVDs, free wifi - but, once you get your library card, you can also get a TON of stuff online via their downloadable media site! Ebooks, audio books, mp3s, video.
Did I mention the free downloads of mp3s and audio books? In mere minutes you could be listening to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Ender's Game or The Art of War...or jamming to Mavis Staples, Schubert or Skinny Puppy.
Most branches have book clubs and many offer additional educational programming - such as this program teaching kids about being smart with money.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Photo Credit: Sarah-Ji
So, it's kind of an old cliche that Chicago is more like a midwestern town than a world class metropolis. For me, it's more like they co-exist in the same plane.
Friday, April 17, 2009
1) I woke up this morning and was convinced it was Saturday. Not that "oh, I kinda wish it were Saturday" or "for the 10 seconds between sleeping and waking I thought it was Saturday." I literally had to sit there and think about what day it was.
For 20 minutes.
2) I love broccoli. I read the best way to prepare it is to nuke it (otherwise, you lose all the nutrients or something.) Last night I baked the perfect pork chop (so tender and juicy) and nuked an entire head of broccoli. I took about 1/4 of the broccoli out of the dish and left the rest in the microwave, since I figured I might want a bit more and figured it might stay warmer if I left the dish in there.
And then I went to bed.
I just this instant remembered that I have this huge amount of broccoli just sitting in my microwave.
3) My brain continues to self-implode. Even though my smarts kicked in enough to realise it's Friday and got my ass to the office? While it was willing to concede that today is Friday? Somewhere it decided that it's now Friday the 24th, instead of Friday the 17th.
I sent an email out to a bunch of folks about a rehearsal that will happen next week, but instead made reference to it being tomorrow. I lost count at how many red flags got tossed within 2 minutes of hitting "send."
4) We have a "temp" (who has been here for nearly a year) who was given her notice on Wednesday that today is her last day. Our office didn't even send out any kind of message to our team, since she's a temp and not salaried, which is all kinds of fucked up.
This morning, someone brought in donuts for her last day here. Donuts that were on the other side of our office. Donuts that I didn't know existed, until an email alerted me to both her leaving and the fact that there were donuts.
I've successfully avoided the donuts, but I have to admit, for about 15 minutes, even though I wasn't hungry, I felt like I was having physical reaction - much like a junkie going through DTs. I literally had to force myself to stay in my chair and say, "Pinata Leg. Pinata Leg. Exploding Heart. Pinata Leg." Over and over until it passed.
I'm fine now. But, man, that was viceral.
Especially when I'm not that really into donuts.
5) I have a little scab on the corner of my mouth and another just to the right of my chin. The six year old in my can't stop scratching them or touching them 1,000 times an hour.
You know, if it was my knee or my elbow, I wouldn't be so annoyed, but it's my face, asshat! Stop touching them! You would think that the idea of having a couple tiny scars on my face might deter me...but my hands...my hands! Won't stop!
Who will win this test of wills?!!
Dammit. I just scratched at it again.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
All in an effort to raise money for WNEP.
Unlike other Chicago companies, the Chicago Theater scene will not collapse if you do not donate ten cents per pin to your favorite WNEP Bowler. Chicago won't suddenly become like St. Louis, no children will be without a decent theatrical education, the vast array of Chicago original productions will not dry up and leave you with no theater to see except for the fifth production of The Tempest and a slew of Neil Simon plays.
But, if you want to see my SHR skewering, you'll have to pony up some dough! Much like our ousted govenor, I'm embracing a pay-to-play ideology.
So far I have $65 on the line...you want to throw another sawbuck in the pool? I'll happily send you the link.
Even if you don't have lots of dough, come hang out and have a beer and a cheese-it brand cracker. We'll likely throw a split the pot raffle in the mix as well.
A nice night at Ye Olde Bowling Alley...it's just what the doctor ordered.
It's an improvised homage to some of our favorite sci-fi films, and is, for all intents and purposes, "Alien meets The Thing." I was brought on to direct. Finally, all those hours of watching (and rewatching) those movies on many a lazy Saturday is paying off.
I'm working with a great cast who is taking this project with all the seriousness and sense of purpose it requires. It's not a spoof. This is not "monkeys-flying-out-my-butt" improv. Each performer is crafting a fully-formed character which they'll maintain throughout the run. It's no small feat to take an archetypical character and make it live and breathe without becoming a charicature...but that's the ultimate goal and I think the cast is doing a hell of a job thus far.
While I'm a big fan of solid bare bones, long form improv...I'm really digging what we're creating. Something like a half-breed of improv and a fully formed play. We're not recreating the wheel. Structured improv has been around for ages. But, I don't think I've seen this genre before - and this level of commitment to the genre without making it a parody of itself.
We're trying to create the world of THEMS as fully as possible on a tiny stage. Costumes, some killer props, a good amount of simple (but impactful) tech to take you even closer into that world.
There are strong structural elements to the show - within which the cast will improvise toward the ultimate conclusion.
What that conclusion turns out to be each week...I can't wait to find out.
If you're a fan of any of these films, I'd recommend you check it out:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 or 1978 versions)
Dawn of the Dead
In the meantime, I'll be over in the corner, doing what I can to help make this a freaking kick ass show.
Opens Saturday, May 9
$20 (it will be worth it, I promise)
10:30pm Sat nite thru June 27.
The Playground Theater
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Oh...how I long to put a list up next to this with the heading of, WHAT YOU WOULD BE GIVING UP YOU MORONS: traffic signals, drinkable tap water, public education, plowed roads, forest preserves, public parks, mail delivered to your home, lead free toys, libraries, the ability to call 911, affordable utilities, disease-free pets, clean lakes/rivers/ponds, breatheable air...etc, etc. etc.
Idiots. And I love how they're putting this all at the feet of Obama.
Who's not even 3 months into the job.
Also, anyone going to a protest and using the phrase"tea bagging" is just wholely without a compass in this world.
Is it just me, or does everyone hear Harvey Korman saying, "Lily, Lily, Lily..." (circa "Blazing Saddles") when they see this picture?
Is it wrong to think having a player named Milton Bradley is just plain awesome?
Answer: NO. It is awesome.
I'm not sure what the title of my autobiography is today...but I'm pretty sure this is the cover art.
I don't care if it is a photo op.
I love this picture for 10, 000 reasons.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Since I'm baby-stepping all over the place, I'm just going to make this a quick and painless post.
I've noticed that on many blogs that I frequent that they have a structure to their posts - a way to help focus and generate the material published that is content specific. I've decided to co-opt that plan for this blog.
From now on (or until I change my mind) I'll be posting as follows:
Mon - Focus on Chicago centric stuff and/or my pending To Do List
Tue - A "get up on this" entry - website, movie, etc.
Wed - Picture Day. The last one made me laugh. So, I'm keeping it.
Thu - What I'm Working On. Could be a show, could be a new soup recipe.
Fri - Random. Whatever I feel like posting. Could be a rant, could be a youtube vid.
The weekends will be free and breezy and I'll post what and when it seems like a good idea.
So, tomorrow, we'll kick it off with Picture Day.
Aren't you foaming at the mouth?
Oh...one last thing. Due to my health, I've been sidelined for the WNEP Bowl-a-thon this year. I'll still be attending on Friday night, but I'm not planning on bowling until my Pinata Leg is completely human and weight bearing.
Still, I'd like to help raise a few bucks for Ye Olde Theater Company, so if you were planning on pledging, please consider a flat donation. I know that this is also a rough year for lots of folks (including myself) with the economy in the tank, so really, any amount is truly appreciated!
All are welcome to hang out at Timber Lanes, nosh on some grub, have a drink at the bar and watch as I skewer yet another School House Rock classic.
Yes, the pool is now up to $65 for me to perform a SHR song and have it posted to youtube.
What song will I sing?
Only the Shadow knows!
If you're in town and are looking for some laid back Friday good timing, stop on by!
WNEP Bowl-a-thon 2009
Friday, April 17th @ 10:00pm
Timber Lanes - 1851 W Irving Park
Monday, March 30, 2009
Step one: Commission and produce a glass replica of a Crystal Skull.
Step two: Create a quadruple-distilled vodka, triple filtered through carbon...and then triple filter is through "500 million year old quartz crystals, known as Herkimer diamonds."
Step three: It puts the vodka in the skull.
It is entirely worth your precious, spare moments to watch the video by Dan Ackroyd. I guess this went "viral" in October, but this is the first I've heard about it.
All I know is that at $250 a bottle, this vodka better cure cancer or magically refill itself. For that kind of coin, it better sing me lullabies at bedtime and walk the dog on rainy days. Or at least make me so drunk that I'm unaware that it's raining out when I'm walking the dog.
Oh, wait. The suggested retail price (if you can find it in stock) is a more affordable, but still pricey, $50. Damn! That's some serious price gouging!
Although, I think we all knew going in...joy doesn't come cheap.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Some days you are the baby kimodo dragon.
Some days you're the bug.
I do not like Peeps. They are my least favorite thing about Spring/Easter. In my opinion, the only good peep is a carmelized peep. The fact that grown-ass adults would create diaramas using peeps only makes me want to smash them more.
Although...if this could solve the pothole problem in Chicago, I would be all for it.
And if I was voting, I would crown this one.
And then set it on fire.
"Peep on a Wire."
Recently, I bought this shirt for my sister, who is:1) a leo
2) a girl
3) a gay
It's from the threadless folks and is titled, "Gay Pride."
I am also:
1) a leo
2) a girl
But, I am not gay.
I really covet this shirt, since it's all pink and covered with Lions (dude, I wanted to name our dog Aslan, but was out-voted.) If I were to wear this shirt, I have no doubt that many folks I know, would think I was gay....which normally? Whatever. But, as I believe much of the population already thinks I'm gay, I'm kinda fighting an uphill battle as it stands.
While I love that shirt, I'd rather avoid having this conversation.
- Dude, I'm not gay.
- But you're shirt is sooooooo gay!
- Yeah. But, I'm not gay.
- Are you sure? You kinda seem gay.
- I'm sure. Not gay.
- Really? Cuz I always kinda pegged you for...
- Not gay, dude.
- Oh. Okay..... Are you sure?
I dig robots as much as the next nerdling.
I celebrate all machinery that make my life less toiling. I [heart] my washing machine, the timer on my lamp. Even my beater of a car.
I'm even cool with them being better at math.
"The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th."Oof. No more giant robots, okay Tokyo?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In no particular order...
- The latest episode of Dollhouse. It's been a slow build, and part of me worries that Whedon is writing with the thought that DH will have the same short-lived fate as Firefly, but this week's show came out swinging. Hixx, you should really give this another shot. When Helo and Eliza D finally meet, it's on like MFing Donkey Kong.
- That the outro song for Dollhouse this week was "Sweet Dream" by Greg Laswell. I can't get enough of this album. In a way, I'm really happy I'm not in a relationship, because it has a very sweet romantic vibe to it...and I'm kinda glad that it won't have that brand on it 10 years from now, where I connect it to some guy I was schtupping.
- The name Ulysses Brambor. I invented this name today. I'm pretty sure I need to write a scene about Ulysses...or the people who've crossed paths with him.
- Vegas in the fall with M (fingers crossed) and S. Just the idea of this puts a huge smile on my face! But, even if it's just me and S, that would be delightful in and of itself. I'd get some solo time to crash out poolside while he's at his seminars and we'd hit some tasty meals and some even tastier table action. I was going to cash in my giant "coin jar" and throw it in my savings, but I think that I'll just keep adding to it until the trip, and use it for my spending money for the tables instead. Come here little coins!!
- Dusting off the creative part of my brain. I'm going to be directing a show in May-June (info forthcoming), and working on some pre-production schtuff with the producers has been delightful. I've been working out rehearsal agendas (what I want to accomplish in each) and thinking about format and technical ideas. Basically, my job is just to point the ship towards it's ultimate destination, the cast has to man the boat, stay on course and keep it afloat. While battling zombies.
- Olive crashing out on the bed last night. I don't know how many of you live alone and have a dog. (I'm not sure it's the same experience as a cat, so I'm keeping it specific.) Next month it will be 10 years since I ran into Olive on a farm down in TN. There is no doubt that Olive loves YOU, but, she's quite fickle when it comes to me. While she enjoys napping near me on weekend afternoons, she's gotten into the habit of crashing solo at night - either on the floor of my room or in the living room. She was gone by the time I woke up, but it was nice to fall asleep with the beast curled up next to me, once again.
Part of my brain tells me that she has stopped bunking with me regularly as a method to "wean" me. That way, one day, when she's gone on to that great bacon filled resort in the sky, it will be easier to get used to sleeping without her. (how hard was that sentence to type? HARD.)
The other part of my brain thinks she's just sick of my snoring.
- Meals with friends. Last week I had one dinner with J, another dinner with J, her sister A and a couple other ladies (S and R) and a spectacular lunch with JS (no relation to J.) Now, as much as I need to pinch some pennies, those meals were worth every cent (especially the one where J picked up the tab - thanks, yo!) Sometimes, I forget that friends (and alcohol) are gifts we give ourselves. And renewed friendships are like getting a round on the house. Holla.
- Youtube. My mom is a proud turtle owner. I said it.
She found one on the side of Interstate 57 on a trip to visit me in college...over 20 years ago. I often wonder, if he outlives her - would I adopt it, or find a nice home for it? I doubt after two decades of being hand fed, he'd survive in the wild. Then again, I know squat about turtles and their ability to adapt.
Anyway, maybe you've seen that video where the turtle is humping a shoe.
And it's making that noise? And you can see its turtle junk?
A turtle humping a shoe....made me think about my mom.
So...I...called her. In 20 years, I've heard lots of stories about Saluki (the turtle), but I never heard about it humping stuff. I had to know.
As blunt as I normally am, I have to say, describing that video to my mom was hysterically awkward. Long story short, she had never witnessed this kind of behavior from her pet...but was beyond curious and had me send her the link.
I sent my mom a link to a turtle humping a shoe.
And all is right with the world.