Sunday, July 20, 2008

Notes From All Over: 1 Year Anniversary Edition

well, gearing up for this blog went about as well as my work week. i'm fighting off a headache and it was like pulling teeth to get suggestions.....

but here we all.... happy anniversary, my lovelies.

seems like i should start with some deep, philosophical thoughts on blogging and life... but who am i kidding? it's all just self-delusion. we assume others are interested in our thoughts... our insights. and - for some of us - we kinda get lucky.

i personally find the entire process a great exercise. in writing classes they always said "keep a journal." well, welcome to the modern era's version of a journal. we just happen to put it all out there for the world to read. (if they're interested.)

every once in a while.... you stumble over a great fucking blog like sister epiphenita's. sometimes you'll stumble across a blog that's maybe a nice diversion from the monotony of the work day.

and sometimes you just have some half-in-the-bag, aspiring writer fag typing at the wheel... like me!

so.... to the questions? this is a "special request edition" after all.

what are your career plans for the next five years?
to get the hell out of dodge.

most days...i love my job. actually, that's a lie. most days, these days... i hate my job. i have for over a year now. i still love the work we do and the people i work with (most of the time). but i'm ready for a change. in a couple of weeks i hit five years at my current job. i want to focus more on my writing. in five years... i'd honestly like to be writing full time.

why did you stop writing?
this is in reference to that six year period where i produced nothing. in the late nineties.... i felt i was on the brink here in houston. people were starting to know my name... my productions in the albee workshops went over really well.

then circumstances changed. the last play i had written was very personal and i felt a bit beaten up afterwards....so i took a break. then a friend moved in with me in my one bedroom apartment. then a brother. then another friend. i suddenly had no privacy.... and i couldn't write with someone around. then i moved into a two bedroom... but i worked two jobs and didn't have the energy or the time.

then i moved back on my own.... and, really, i've been writing ever since. i'm forcing myself to find more time.... and i'm really taking steps to make this my career at this point. but we'll see.

i'm writing now.

why don't you hate people anymore?
hate is such a strong word.... i still have little faith in people. i still think people are basically assholes. but i'm trying to let go of some of the negativity that has dragged me down the past several years.

i just don't believe in being ugly to people... no matter how much i wish they would drop off a cliff.

oh - and growing out of the hip, misanthropic, salinger darkness comes with maturity.

i like to think i'm growing.

why haven’t you been seeing my husband lately? (he keeps touching me and wanting affection)
in all honesty.... i grew tired of his tiny penis. (latinos! i know!) best of luck!

is this too many question?
never.

if you could sit anywhere in the world to write your next play, where would it be?
ideally.... in new york city where i've just had a triumphant debut... or in europe. i think that i would thrive in europe.

but as it stands... i'm sure i'll be writing it here. luckily, i have laptop and will travel. i'd love to do some writing on my autumnal vacay.

what's your favorite moment(s) during the writing process?
after my long drought of completing anything of full-length in a long time... this past time my favorite moment was when i typed "curtain." it's an amazing feeling when you've completed your work.... and it was a great fucking feeling.

but usually...and i probably use this answer a lot....it's when my characters take me some place i wasn't expecting. when a scene changes on its course mid-creation and takes me to the place it's meant to go.... surprises while i write make me smile. it's one of my greatest joys.

and tell us about pivotal moments of your life. you know, moments when the fog cleared and you suddenly understood something that you hadn't understood minutes before.
oh christ... this one is probably a toughie. there are the usual: finally admitting to myself i was gay. losing the allusion of god and heaven and hell.

i remember the first time i realized people could be fake. a teacher in the 6th grade had died and everyone was always so awful to her. they spoke badly about her, called her names. she had been out dealing with her cancer treatments and when we got word that she had died... the same people who had been bad-mouthing her broke into tears. i couldn't believe how insincere it all felt.

i remember my first middle school dance when i asked a girl i was close friends with in elementary school (best of friends) to dance and she laughed in my face and ran off. that's the moment i knew things would be different. that i wasn't one of the "chosen" crowd and never would be.

i remember watching victor/victoria and first hearing the word gay... and thinking "i finally have a word for it."

there are a lot of other moments that are truly too personal to put out on the web... but we shall discuss this sometime....

congratulations (by the way). i sit here flustered and unable to type more. and oddly melancholy as moments from my past swirl about my mind.

we'll talk....

please take a break from being vegan...i'm running out of recipes.
this past week has been so shitty i've needed some comfort food and i've slipped a few times. but i'm sure i'll slip again on saturday for steven's birthday.

just don't ever ask me to stop being vegetarian.... that'll never happen! LOL

don't you think that demonizing all republicans, straights, suburbanites, etc. is ultimately sloppy, oversimplistic logic that prevents us from moving forward?
i do... and we'll get to steven's question in a minute. (rim shot, please!)

i believe that too often all sides work in generalities. we lump all peoples together based on our perception of that segment around us. let's be honest - i think it's human nature.

and i admit that i do this often... but, in my humble defense, i use it more as humor.

but i also think people have strong beliefs and will fight against anyone who stands between those beliefs. mccain NOT being a maverick is a perfect example. the media wants to paint him as something beyond a typical republican, but he's not.

just like obama is nothing more than a typical politician.

but i do think you're right that once we start lumping everyone together and stiffening our spines to always say "no" whenever someone different from us even begins to broach a subject, we begin diminishing ourselves and the public conversation.

unfortunately.... there will always be bigots and racists and sexists and homophobes. we just have to learn to rise above it.

but fuck me... sometimes it's nice to go off on these simple-minded bastards!

will you do an informal survey with all your friends (and theirs) about this african-american men have bigger dicks theory?
i'm already developing the survey for mass distribution.

i would love to hear your viewpoint on the gentrification of montrose or other highly gay ghettos like the castro or new york's meat packing district.
i do love it when questions piggyback.

it's unfortunate. i wish i could say it shows a progress towards integration of all social classes and sexual proclivities... but it doesn't. the homosexuals come in... clean the place up, make it groovy again.... and then the breeders come in and take over.

now... after the last question i'd like to be careful about once again generalizing. but i do know that there was a time in montrose (that's houston, texas for my international readers!) when you would NEVER see a george bush sticker. but now you do.

the problem stems from conglomerates coming in and rising the cost of rents and land and the small business owners can't afford it. i remember when crossroads (the first gay book store (legitimate book store) that i ever went to) had to close down because of the cost of a new lease.

the lure... one of my favorite bars in nyc closed it's doors because the upper crust were moving in and making everything too expensive.

remember when the gap moved into the montrose? i knew our days were numbered. i remember seeing a pottery barn open in the castro. reading stories about the families that had moved into the castro and suddenly wanted the dildos removed from the shop windows.

it's wrong and it's sad that we're losing part of our identity. but as long as the gays care more about their waist size, their next hollister shirt and where their next cocktail is coming from.... how can we stop it?

the 'mos in montrose don't care about politics. they don't care about the changing landscape. until we get more involved.... how can any of this change?

it's easy to bitch and moan about the changes but until we stand up and speak out... until we start fighting to save landmarks and the identity of our neighborhood.... it will change.

i wish to vishnu it hadn't changed so much.... and i hate that the lure will never be there for me to make out with a hot bartender again (oh yeah... i had to mention making out with a hot, nyc bartender... good story!). and when i return to san francisco this fall... i'm afraid of what might have changed.

but get involved. start petitions.

saving the landmark movie house. stopping ashby highrise... these are strong examples of movements that have stopped the change to our neighborhood (or those surrounding). but those were not spear-headed by fags or dykes.

get involved. vote. make a difference.

make some noise.

but always while respecting others... do not let them take away a part of your soul by reacting to their ignorance.

read up on one of my heroes: mahatma gandhi.

change can happen through nonviolence and through building a movement.

namaste'.

and thanks for a great first year!

e.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Approaching One Year

um.... yeah. i'm having a really shitty week so i need something to cheer me up and i'd really like something to look forward to this weekend since my movie festival weekend with my friend jason has been postponed.

so.... as it turns out, this sunday marks the one year anniversary of this self-indulgent, mental-masturbatory exercise known as my blog.

july 20, 2007 marked my first entry titled "conundrum" where i wondered if bush taking surgery up the ass was enough justification to allow cheney a few hours of control over this country.

seems so long ago....

so, i thought i'd take suggestions again for a special request edition of my blog that i'll create on sunday.

i'll probably do this again for my 200th blog (which isn't that far off), so let's keep this one simple. no three part questions with sub-question e or anything like that. just some random topics you'd like to hear me praise or rant about.... anything you might find interesting.

or anything you think might embarrass me or throw me (yes, i have thrown down the gauntlet).

you don't have a lot of time... and only those loyal readers (my lovelies) will have a chance to give suggestions.

i hope to blog again before then but i'm taking requests starting NOW!

e.

Please Welcome to the Stage...

leah katharyn.

yes, my younger brother and his wife are officially the proud owners of a new rugrat.

leah was born this afternoon at 4:52pm (CST) weighing.... 8 pounds, 2 ounces. i think that's right... i'm not really sure what normal baby weight is or why everyone seems to care so much?

seriously? why is that always the first question? "how much does she weigh?"

does a lower weight mean something better than a higher weight? or vice versa? if she's heavier does it increase her likelihood of becoming a lesbian.... because seriously, ever since my friend steven told me every leah he's ever known was a lesbian.... that's my wish for my niece.

and i hope she becomes the first female QB in the NFL. that'll kick ass!

so.... let me see.... what am i missing? 8 pounds, 2 ounces. i've told you the name. she came out with a full head of light brown/blondish hair.... blue eyes (surprise, surprise) but "for now" as my brother informs me. baby has ten fingers and toes... (that's ten finger AND ten toes... so a total of 20 digits.) a healthy cry (again, not sure what that indicates).

mother's good. i'm told she's tired and sore (um, ya think?). father is frazzled.

so, ummm....yeah. congratulations, brother & sister!

mazal tov!

e.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Open!" Says Me

wanna know how overwhelming of a week from hell i'm having....?

i finally found two minutes to sneak out and grab some lunch to bring back to the office (i've had to send my assistant out the past two days because i haven't been able to get away) and i walked up to the door to exit and i was waiting for it to open automatically.

yeah.... this wasn't a grocery store!

ganesha help me! i'm so fucking fried...

e.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain Finds it *Hard* to Answer

if you haven’t seen this…. oh, it’s good!

john mccain, aboard the “straight talk express,” was asked about viagra being covered by private health insurance but not birth control.

now, remember… mccain prides himself on the fact that he’ll answer any question posed to him by reporters.

but then there’s the subject of viagra…..

oh, and he did vote against legislation that would force insurance companies to cover birth control…. you know, the same insurance companies that cover the viagra most flaccid, white-haired republicans need in order to screw their third and fourth wives…. no matter how much cindy tarts herself up.

e.

p.s. be sure to pay close attention at 13 seconds when mccain’s eyes just about pop out of his skull!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And Because She's Simply Stunning...

i also watched gilda this weekend which is another fabulous film.

rita hayworth has to be one of the most stunning and sensual women ever to grace the big screen. this scene alone had me questioning my homosexuality.

this is her first appearance in the film. and hello, rita!

i just had to share…

e.

10 Outta 10, Baby!

so a couple of weeks ago the american film institute (AFI) released another one of their "top" lists. this time...top ten films in ten different genres.

the number one film in each of the categories were as follows:

animation: snow white and the seven dwarfs
romantic comedy: city lights
western: the searchers
sports: raging bull
mystery: vertigo
fantasy: the wizard of oz
science fiction: 2001: a space odyssey
gangster: the godfather
courtroom drama: to kill a mockingbird
epic: lawrence of arabia

it's an amazing list of films and one that isn't dumbed down for the contemporary masses. i was impressed. several of these films would probably easily make a top ten list of my own... or they'd definitely sneak their way in to any conversation i was having about great films. and with the exception of one or two probably make it as my own #1 in each of these genres.

and after the list was presented i counted them up and i had seen nine out of the ten. i was only missing one! argh!

i had seen every one but charlie chaplin's city lights.

(guess who moved city lights to the top of his netflix queue...?)

now... i've been making my way through several chaplin films over the years. i first watched the talkie, the great dictator. then i watched the gold rush. and my friend jason and i included modern times in our first weekend film festival. these are all amazing films and i'm constantly astonished by chaplin's comic genius.

but he's more than just a great comedian... he's a phenomenal filmmaker.

city lights is a brilliant and touching film.... and easily my favorite of all the ones i've seen.

chaplin made this film, his last silent film, at a time when everyone else had moved into the age of talkies. but it shows chaplin's influence and prominence at the time that he could still make this film the way he envisioned it: silent.

in the film, chaplin falls in love with a blind flower girl who mistakes him for a millionaire. he is once again, and for the last time, the little tramp. but despite this fact, he becomes determined to raise the money for an operation that will make the flower girl see again... even though this means he risks her seeing him not as a millionaire but as a penniless tramp.

it's a truly great film... famous mostly for the boxing scene with chaplin... but there's also a drunken scene at a nightclub (among many other scenes) that had me laughing out loud. there are also several scenes with oddly homosexual undertones.

but i'd say it's the last few minutes of the film that are easily some of the most beautifully touching moments ever captured on celluloid. they are perfection.

and remember...not a word is spoken.

brilliant, beautiful, hilarious filmmaking.

move it to the top of your queue.

e.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What Is This Strange Feeling...?

oh... i think it might be optimism!

i had the first rehearsal this evening for my new 10x10 and....um.... it went surprisingly well.

the actor playing "B" had not yet seen the entire script so he cold read it. and he was about as good as i could've hoped for had it been opening night. i'm very pleased.

the actor playing "A" read the play for a salon reading back in february and i like what he brings to the performance. he understands the withdrawn quality of the character. the only problem is sometimes he's so withdrawn you have trouble hearing him.

the director seems good and trusts the actors to move fluidly and instinctively.

so we had an initial run-through and went through the entire play two or three times to get the preliminary blocking down.

i have to say.... i'm really happy with this first rehearsal and probably feel better about it than i have any of my previous 10x10s. i think i might actually be content with this production.

in fact, i'm oddly pleased with the play overall... every word i wrote. i currently wouldn't change a single word of this play and that is unheard of for me... i'm never pleased. i just think it's really tightly written with some very nice moments.

crazy....

two funny points:

the director and the two actors all have extensive directing experience and all bring a long career on stage to the project. so it's funny watching three directors ultimately trip over each other and suggest different blocking and interpretations of the play. in the long run, however, i can tell they're gonna get it.

the other thing... it's so funny to listen to this short, ten-minute play after hearing the reading of my two act. it was so clearly a precursor for me to write the longer piece. almost like an exercise at getting into the head of my main character.

i laugh because if you just changed the ages of the characters in the short piece, it could be a break-up scene between two characters in the longer play.

so don't let anyone tell you that writing short pieces is a waste of time. they're good practice. good exercises for honing skills and developing dialogue.

and i'll be goddamned if i'm not looking at my glass of wine and thinking... "it's half full."

how 'bout that?

i'll keep everyone posted....

e.

p.s. the photographer showed up again and took more photos for the potential outsmart article. two photo shoots and somehow i survived. but it was not easy going. luckily, this photographer has great interpersonal skills and made me feel really comfortable in my least comfortable situation.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July: Raw

so the history channel is playing a fascinating, day-long marathon of their series the revolution. excellent programming for the 4th of july: educational, patriotic, americana at its birth (and i love ed hermann's narrative voice).

TNT is playing a law & order marathon... celebrating the legal system of this country... (ya know, you could argue either way.)

but there's a lot of good independence day programming going on throughout the multitude of cable channels. (TCM is playing hitchcock films all day.... i'm moist!)

so what is msnbc playing...? a marathon of to catch a predator: raw, of course.

because nothing says "happy fourth of july" like a day-long look at exploiting pedophilia for ratings gain.

happy independence day, everyone!

e.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right...

the inevitable has happened... and it highlights (once again) the problem with our electoral system.

the primary and the phenomenally unfair caucus system allow the polar extremes of the parties to elect the nominees for president... so you have both parties' candidates kow-towing to the party elite and elders and promising everything that makes the editors at the nation and the national review cream a little in their panties.

but now that mccain and obama have the nomination neatly squared away... they must switch gears and aim their campaigns more towards the middle. because (and say it with me) it's the middle of the political spectrum that nominates the president... not the pinko commies and raving anarchists of the political left and right, respectively.

so mccain demotes the man who brought him back from political dead and promotes someone to reshape the direction of his campaign.

and suddenly you have the republicans no longer equating obama to the second coming of jimmy carter.... but likening him more to john kerry, the flip-flopper, and a politician of the most usual kind.

and why not....?

because, wouldn'tcha know it... he has been flip-flopping and backing off of his more liberal views to now court the moderates and rednecks.

back in the early days of his struggling campaign, obama promised he'd only accept public finance for his campaign should his opponent agree. mccain did... obama reneged. and why shouldn't he? he has more money than oprah! but it looks bad.

first he was against FISA before he was for it... (sound familiar?) and obama just voted for the version that grants telecom giants immunity... his previous sticking point.

the supreme court FINALLY gets a case right when they rule that executing child rapists constitutes cruel and unusual punishment... and he comes out against the ruling.

(yes...i'm anti-death penalty in ALL cases and i do not believe child rapists should be sentenced to death. you may direct all hate mail to the comments section.)

so after the supremes made their ruling, obama said:

I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime. And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.
beyond the gobbledygook of an answer.... what the fuck does that mean? he's trying to have it both ways... first of all, "states rights" is a GOP talking point... and "narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances"? what does that mean....?

okay.... he mentions children ages 6 and 8... so if you bugger a child of 4 or 5... even 7.... anyone over eight... then no death penalty? and what are the well-defined circumstances? anal penetration, death penalty? vaginal intercourse, only life in prison?

you cannot put someone to death especially when they did not themselves kill somebody.... use your fucking biblical "eye for an eye" bullshit it if makes the idea easier for you.

but in order to appease the center and court the whack jobs out there that refuse to believe that children wrongly accuse adults, that african-americans are wrongly convicted more often than other races for all violent crimes.... and that if even one innocent person is put to death the system is flawed.... obama gives that wonky fucking answer to appease all sides.

but worst of all! obama now supports a george w. bush initiative!?! he wants to take bush's idea of the "office of community and faith-based initiatives" and rename it the "council for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships." you see... by adding the "neighborhood partnerships" bit, obama can still court the planned parenthood bombers of the religious right while still attempting to appease the secular flag burners on the left.

but it all comes down to way too much fucking religion in my federal government. if the racist, slave-owning, sexist founders of this country did one thing right... they expressly called for the separation of church and state.

but apparently, obama's 50 state strategy includes courting the evangelical nutjobs that still have lawn jockeys outside their mansion gates and long for the days when blacks still served them mint juleps out on the veranda.

i hope to ganesha that obama can overcome the slings and arrows the republicans will launch at him over the coming months... i hope he can be president... because, fuck it all, i still want a democrat in the white house... even if he continues to disappoint me day after day.

obamaphiles.... meet your messiah. he is a mere politician afterall... but you got him the nomination and you better not back down now that he's moving more centrist.

you got us into this mess... you carry it through to november.

i'll be there with you.... grumbling all the way, longing for my days of hillary.

but obama remains far superior to the crypt-keeper on any given issue.

i just wonder what he'll change his mind on next.......

e.

Say "Cheese"

so, i'm trying hard to be a vegan... at one time i managed to go a good six months as a vegan. my latest stint, it's been a good three months now, i would think.

although, in the spirit of full-disclosure, i did take a vegan holiday this past weekend to celebrate pride. (god, i love chocolate!)

but in the ever-expanding world of vegan-friendly options out there.... i try, from time to time, new items. soy bacon. meatless corndogs....

i've even had vegan cheese before...

vegan cheese is not cheese. it will never be cheese.

but sometimes, when you're a vegan, you want to feel like you've had the slightest soup├žon of cheddar. so i ventured... again.

for the record: cheese made from tofu is godawful fucking horrid. i tried some the other day... i sweat to vishnu, i thought i'd vomit. i mixed it in some things... hopeful. no better. ruined the entire dish. the entire package is now congealing away in some landfill.

so i then tried cheese made from rice.... better. still not great. but better.

in case you were wondering....

and for the record.

e.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When It Rains...

suddenly, the writing thing appears to be in high gear.

don't get me wrong...i'm ecstatic! i'm just surprised.

i feel like i've been slowing trying to re-emerge into the houston theatre world over the past couple of years (houston - a decent place to start). first i uneasily dipped my toes into the 10x10. and while the experiences haven't been stellar...it's been a nice reintroduction to houston crowds.

then i started taking part in these afternoon readings at my friend's house. no major exposure - but nice exercises and it helps keep my writing sharp. and one of them has now been accepted into the 10x10 this year.

so three consecutive 10x10s (not a bad record).

then i finish the full-length play that's been rattling around in my skull for eight years....hold a reading... and it hasn't stopped since.

i have actors wanting to do my work. other writers telling me where i need to submit the play... everyone wanting to know when it will be performed.

on saturday.... i had auditions for the 10x10. i thought they went well (i got the cast i wanted) and afterwards, an actor that did my play two years ago stopped me to compliment the four pages out of the 13 pages he was able to read during the audition.

i felt guilty...i had just slagged him off to another playwright... but there he was, telling me how much he loves the way i write and the common themes that run through my pieces. he particularly likes how my plays "say so much by saying so little." and he really hopes he can work with me again.

i can't lie... i was flattered. i was flummoxed.

a couple of hours later... my director from last year's 10x10 called me expressing his interest in performing in my play at the 10x10 this year. "have you already cast it?" he asked. and then he went into how much he likes my writing and how my plays "say so much by saying so little."

i guess my desire to write withdrawn, uncommunicative characters is shaping up nicely.

and finally...to cap it all off.... yesterday i'm contacted by outsmart magazine (a gay mag here in houston) and they want to profile me or something for their august issue... highlighting the gay playwright thing (of course) and the 10x10.

this includes a photo shoot.... which does not thrill me. but hey - press is press.

it's almost overwhelming at this point. i went nearly six years without a blip on the theatre scene... and suddenly i seem to be known in certain circles. and i've had at least one person ask: "why haven't i heard of you before?"

the actor from two years ago tells me people still ask him all the time about the play he did for me and who wrote it.

my current director wants me to get involved in the annual festival of originals (foo) and - again - everyone has ideas on what my next step should be for the long play.

obviously, first, i need to tweak some parts of the play. but i'd love to move forward and seek out a production as soon as possible.

it feels like, maybe, this is the time. my time (to be pointed and somewhat egotistical about it).

but goddammit.... this is my passion. this is what i want to do.

my mind is confused by this near-constant, unfamiliar sense of... (contentment? happiness?)

but all the while...my past keeps whispering in my ear: "just wait for the rug to be pulled out from under you."

maybe that paranoia and disappointment can finally be put to rest?

fuck me, i hope so.....

fingers crossed.

e.