Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gay vs. Gay-Gay

earlier today...after a conversation about a friend of mine and some of his beliefs... i had someone ask me if my friend was "gay" or "gay-gay." i said, "like take it up the ass gay?" she said, "no, like gay-gay."

"you mean, does he decorate and cut hair? have tiny dogs?"

"no!"

finally....we found the crux of the question: "if he were in a relationship, would he be the man of the woman?"

ah.... (straight people. oy!)

so i pressed further: "so, like, does he clean the bathroom and his partner cook the steaks?"

she said, "no! like i'm the woman in my relationship..."

i said, "yes, because you have a woo-woo. and your husband has a penis."

basically, what she was looking for was who fit best into traditional gender roles.

traditional gender roles piss me off.

actually, before i go any further... i should say that it all began because i was explaining to her that this particular cocksucking friend is a very devout christian. he prays daily.... asks whathisface for guidance.

we talked about his interest in the "once gay" christians that are now, thanks to the help of (hallelujah) god and his offspring, straight.

i don't want to go so far as to call him a self-hating fag.... but i do think if god could make him straight, he'd sign on the dotted line.

so that led to whether or not he was "gay" or "gay-gay." for example...where does he fall on the kinsey scale? is he a perfect six or does he wobble around the 4 or 5 point?

"100% gay," i said. "never been with a woman... has no desire."

and then THAT led into the discussion of gender roles. and gender roles piss me off.

are we on the same page now...?

so, anyway..... i think she basically assumes that if you want to be cared for and have the "man" take care of you... then you're the woman. but if you're the one taking care of the little woman... holding them at night, caressing them when they cry... then you're the man.

so i said, "well, he wants to be the woman... but usually ends up the man."

but i despise those labels and those stereotypes. i know so many women that are far stronger than the men in their lives. does that mean these women, vaginas and all, are the men? are the emotionally self-deficient men, no matter how well hung, the women?

fuck that noise.

i don't think all newborns should wear pink if they're girls and blue if they're boys. i don't think all boys should want to grow up to be astronauts and firemen and women princesses and nurses.

when i was younger....besides wanting to be wonder woman...i wanted to be a baker. that's the first job i ever remember wanting to be when i grew up. never a policeman. never a fireman.

am i any less of a man....?

i know women who play sports better than any man i know. does that mean they're uterus is any less...... uterussy?

gender roles and gender stereotypes continue to cause a rift in society and the workplace and they perpetuate inequality. from equal pay to equal expectations.

women can't be strong... then they're bitches. but bitchy men are held up as titans of enterprise.

women who only wear pants and never dresses can never be considered as much of "a lady" than pretty, young things that wear flowy gowns. and they certainly can't be made president. (side note: back in the campaign, i had someone actually tell me he thought hillary would do better if she just carried a purse. i had another person tell me once the WNBA would succeed if the women wore more make-up and cuter outfits.)

on the flip side... men who have sex with men can't be "real" men. don't you dare like the color pink or you're automatically a fag.

it's all such bullshit.

i was so happy when my younger brother and his wife told me they would never buy anything pink for my niece. they didn't want to buy into that nonsense. but guess what? EVERYONE else buys pink for her.

it's so ingrained in our society: men are the breadwinner and will take care of their wives. women should only ever want to get married and obsess over their wedding day and dress and honeymoon.

let me tell you something. a friend and i used to talk about our perfect weddings and honeymoons.... and he is STRAIGHT!

and i watch football. and my "gay-gay" friend doesn't watch football. but my one dyke friend does when my other dyke friend doesn't.... and my straight female friend does... and another one doesn't.

and it's green to some people and avocado to others.... and some take it up the ass and others don't.

and it doesn't make one person more of a man or a woman than the other.

it just means we're all unique. not necessarily special... because, let's be honest, i know some pretty lame, boring, not-so-special people.

but they are, always, unique.

e.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Day at White Trash Pride

this morning i headed down to the recovering and ever-chic burg of galveston to assist in their 3rd annual pride festival.

my assignment: man the human rights campaign (HRC) booth, gather contact information and spread the word about all the great work the organization does.

no problemo.

oh wait.... that's right! i was in fucking galveston.

we arrived shortly before noon and by 1:38pm i had already witnessed three kate gosselin haircuts, enough bad drag to make a grown man cry and the ever-present-galveston quandary: how do you tell the difference between an everyday galveston resident and a lesbian?

i also had to deal with a competing oktoberfest, drunk dykes who asked every couple of hours if they could buy our gay pride flag (to which, every couple of hours we would tell them "no") and one particularly creepy old, bearded man that eyed me off and on for 30 minutes or more.

we had a frightening moment when two christian rehabbers handed us a possible banana bread bomb and...while it wasn't ticking....i told the person holding it to throw it away in the nearest trash bin in hopes of lessening to explosion's impact.

we saw ren faire drag done up in hopes of passing as opera drag. i saw guys with hair straight out of 1990's australian cinema. and just one trashy queen after another.

don't get me wrong... there were some hotties. but they were not easy to find.

the entertainment consisted of the aforementioned bad drag in costumes that would make the late selena cringe. an ex who continues to sing and pack on the pounds. derrick barry, aka britney spears, aka glorified drag queen, aka spoiled, egomaniacal diva. someone named kady malloy who was on some show called american idol who had the hottest fucking boyfriend i have seen in a long time... and that would have entertained me far more than she did.... oh, and we didn't stick around for 80's pop queen, tiffany. who - honestly - i don't remember. but someone told me a song she sang (which i've already forgotten) and i'm pretty sure i had heard of the song.

(on a side note: a old and dear friend of mine was responsible for pulling together all the entertainment and he did a fabulous job in balancing the needs of the local drag divas and the real talent brought in to bring in higher prestige for the event.)

but.....i couldn't stick around for tiffany. i had to get home to watch the texas game.

texas 41, mizzou 7. hook 'em.

and happy pride!

e.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Buy In

so i just returned from a very entertaining reading of a new play at stages. it's the first of three readings in wordsmyth theater's fall season...once again presented in collaboration with the actor's gym.

well, the same kook who shows up at every one of these readings and then rambles on and on about ganesha only knows what....did it again tonight.

and he went off on his favorite bash-worthy subject: homosexuality.

yes, he went off on my play and it being "gay." he's gone off on other plays for having a gay character.

tonight's play: part comedy of manners. part thriller.

written by a happily (i assume) married gentleman probably in his sixties. teaches writing.... seems very pleasant.

there is one moment....ONE moment...where a person says she's bisexual and likes to kiss other women. probably made the whole thing up to fuck with the guest. but guess who pounced it?

"why did you bring up the gay thing?"

what...?!?

"i can't believe you've bought into the culture."

i had to laugh. the people around me, knowing me, looked for my reaction. i simply turned and said: "well...i'm glad he's bought into the culture. we have this big march coming up and we could use all the help we can get."

what a jackass....

e.

p.s. seriously, though... if you want to buy into the "gay culture" - we're always accepting recruits. thanks....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Birthday Doctrine

my birthday is less than a month away. actually...only a couple of weeks away.

this year, however, the dynamic has changed. i have family in town. a brother. a sister. my parents. two dogs.

so...as is usual in a proper WASP family...they wish to gather and mark the occasion.

but here's the dilemma: i'll be out of town for the big day.

yes, for the first time i can really remember.... i'll be out of town for my birthday... celebrating in my own style in nyc and d.c.

so when my mother called and asked, "do you want to go out for dinner for your birthday?" my response was simple: "i'll be out of town."

i mean, i'm not one of those people who has to celebrate a birthday. i don't require the attention. i don't need a theme. i really have everything superficial one needs in their life so presents aren't really an issue either.

so when she pressed.... i really didn't see a reason to make a fuss. "i'll be in new york..." good enough for me.

but the pressing has continued. and now it appears we'll probably gather prior to my trip. some sort of preemptive birthday strike... which just seems oddly reminiscent of the bush doctrine.

i don't agree with the bush doctrine.

it's like premature ejaculation. not good for much of anything and it usually causes an unholy and wholly unwelcome mess.

and it all makes me wonder? what should be the birthday doctrine...?

should celebration be limited to the actual day...? or...if one is a responsible adult-type person and the birthday falls on a monday, tuesday, wednesday or thursday...saved for the immediate weekend following?

is it presumptuous to celebrate your birthday early? my family and i are looking at about a week prior to the actual day. seems (and feels) early. but the other option would be to wait until after my upcoming travel... that would be about two weeks after the day...... and that just seems too late to even care. i mean... how long can you drag this out? is there some sort of birthday statute of limitations?

of course, i know people who believe strongly in "the birthday month." yes...the birthday MONTH. birthday festivities lasting an entire month... usually from the actual date until the same date, next month.

seems excessive... but i'm happy if it makes you happy.

but at 36 (soon to be, that is) the whole birthday thing seems a bit old. the idea of gifts seem selfish and indulgent.

don't get me wrong... i don't mind gathering with friends... having some cocktails, some food. but i don't need a big "to do!"

is this a sign of growing older....? could it be a darker sense of self-loathing or lack of self-worth at work?

i can get excited about a friend's birthday... love to throw a good dinner party or even take them out for a meal.

i don't celebrate what's-his-face's birthday in december but i still put up a tree.

in other words... i can get into the spirit of the thing. but when it comes to my own birthday....

eh, whatever.

maybe i'm just old.....?

e.

Monday, August 31, 2009

4th Time...? Not the Charm

hello, my lovelies.... welcome to the long-awaited, much-anticipated wrap up of the 19th annual scriptwriters/houston 10x10 showcase of new plays.

but who am i kidding...? that was two weeks ago... (more?) we've moved on... we've digested the highs and lows of the weekend. but i feel i must revisit this go-around and express my thoughts and insights on the whole operation.

let me begin by saying: this is it. i'm done. i'm out.

this fourth affair with the blue hairs of the 10x10 left little enchantment in my heart for the group. unorganized. amateurish. the whole thing left me wanting. not that any given year has been 100%. but we know how rocky this experience started and, well, it didn't end much better.

i should preface this with stating i enjoyed working with my director very much. yes, he thought my characters were gay when they clearly were not. yes, he left town for nearly three weeks in the middle of rehearsal time. and, yes....he obviously didn't work closely enough with tech to really hammer down the problems with my play.

but before i get to all of that... let's revisit the other 9 plays first.

family portrait
i like the writer and there were some moments of very clever snipes. but, ultimately, the piece is 8 grating moments of hate and slur....with an attempt at putting a positive face on it with a false ending. "i wasn't able to give my children a proper childhood." why not? and is being the screaming banshee of hoboken really the better option? love your children... try your best... don't harp on every flaw, belittle every aspect of their lives and try to pass it off as love. i simply didn't buy it and the lead actress's affected performance only made it more painful.

this play came in third with the judges. i also heard some muttering that this piece had been performed somewhere before...which should have disqualified it. but whatever...

the workshop
it read so funny on the page... but then lost its way in performance. too much going on? too much dependence on slapstick and physical humor as opposed to the words written? the fact that the actor who delivers the final, HI-larious monologue was almost unintelligible didn't help. most people i know tuned out and hated this piece.

it won judges favorite.

dance with me
nine minutes of poorly written dialogue and a buried message. it redeems itself in the final moments when we're all allowed to watch an old lady dance to "the cupid shuffle." that moment won over the entire audience....enough for them to ignore the other nine.

the final dress rehearsal for this was a logistical nightmare. wrong music, wrong timing, wrong sound effects. the first night the older actress lost her lines and the piece lost two minutes of dialogue. it was saved by the booth when they brought in the sound effects early to move the action along.

it was runner-up for audience favorite.

mornings
the sombre, gay play of the year. the first few minutes are jumbled and distracting. dialogue switches back between two gay couples (2 men, 2 women) and much is lost. i think it has it's moments when it allows just two people to settle down and discuss in the second half of the piece. ultimately, however, it's all cliche' and retread. nothing original. some fine acting, i thought... some of the best of the night.

oh....and i still don't see any part of that piece that really shows one of the gay men at the beginning is the one that's dead. so you have a current conversation and a past conversation. how do we know that? where is that said? the only way to know "jeff" is seated at the table at the beginning is to read his name in the program. otherwise, i honestly feel it's never clear.

this play tied for runner-up with the judges.

unleashed
another charmer from the charmer of the 10x10. he writes unoffensive, safe, whimsical, down-home plays and the goblins of the 10x10 love him. i actually really like the play too. it benefits greatly from a talented cast... and it's clever and funny. but safe. always safe. i'm never big on safe.

this play won audience favorite overwhelmingly.

target
some interesting moments... but it feels as if it goes on five minutes too long. again, not necessarily benefited from its lead actor (also its author). originally, the entire show felt like a high school UIL one-act. stilted, stiff, cheesy lighting. the director originally had each "extra" come on and off the stage. made the entire piece feel even longer and dragged it out. finally, she put everyone on stage and it helped. still... ultimately a deeper message lost with a lot of excess.

cuteness
cute. very cute. harmless and aimless.... i actually kinda liked it. the chemistry between the two actors added much. i dunno? beyond the underlying misogyny...i liked it.

forbidden fruit
for some odd reason...this play did not connect with most audience members and friends i've talked to. it's my favorite play out of the ten. it starts off on a very bizarre note and just continues down the rabbit hole. interesting and fresh... funny but dark. the play, i think, provides the most daring ending of the night. a friend of mine was pitch-perfect as the bartender... and i just really enjoyed the ride.

critic's choice
this play runs about 15 to 17 minutes in a TEN minute competition. it feels about 25 minutes long. pointless, self-indulgent. it's a wink to the inner circle that has nothing really to say but attempt to skewer the very person who wrote it. anyone who has to place the PhD after their name in a THEATRE program, is self-indulgent. i do not know a single person who enjoyed this piece.... BUT...

it tied as runner-up with the judges.

upstairs dirty bomb
what can i say about my play....? it never quite lived up the promise of its title. i do think it's better than the production it was given (a familiar feeling of mine when discussing the 10x10). for some reason people laughed more at the second half. of course, my play only runs about 7 minutes. but after the 17 minutes of the prior piece of shit.... i think everyone was simply ready for the show to be over.

so maybe i was partly screwed by placement?

but mostly...i was screwed by the booth. not to mention a bit of slapdash direction and a novice actor who tried his best but simply couldn't bring what was needed to the play.

and again...i really enjoyed working with my director and my cast. two of them i would work with easily again. and one of them received a lot of laughs.

final dress rehearsal was a nightmare, as previously stated. opening night... the sounds were all off. turns out, the booth spent so much time fixing the other plays they royally fucked up during the final dress rehearsal, they forgot to update the changes for my play.

so the vacuum cleaner that was supposed to be over the opening music took the place of what was supposed to be the first big boom from upstairs. and... the booth decided to play the vacuum cleaner noise for a while. which threw off other sound effects. all in all...it just threw off my actors, threw off the timing...and the entire piece came across as flat.

saturday night... music and vacuum cleaner is right... then when it came time for the first big boom...................

nothing.

my actors paused, looking up...waiting. nothing. so he stomped as loud as he could in place of the sound effect. the first half of the play had my actors stomping where sound should have been.

again...threw off the actors. threw off the timing. the piece fell flat.

sunday matinee.... crappy, unappreciative audience all around. matinee audiences always suck. but guess what...?

music and vacuum cleaner fine. first sound...perfect. every sound after that... perfect. on time and rather funny.

remember: this was the first time i'd actually heard all the sound effects in their proper places... after a week of tech and two prior performances... this was the first i heard it all.

it changed everything and i was actually happy with the piece.

i think i took some chances... yes, it probably isn't as funny as i had hoped. but it at least challenged individuals... especially those on the left who think so highly of themselves that they're beyond reproach.

and i'm guilty of this too. hell, it was a pretty autobiographical piece. many of the lines i have said to my friends verbatim.

but anyway... i can't put up with the lack of professionalism and the drive to put on the best shows possible. it's amateurish and i'm done.

i want to focus on longer things and better productions.

the 10x10 has served its purpose for me over the past four years... it got me writing again. it put my name back out there.... and it's put me in contact with a lot of really plugged in theatre people.

but the curtain is down on that part of my life.

onward and upward!

e.

p.s. i'd love to read any comments people might have who actually saw the shows... so don't be shy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

as is always the case, i hit snooze on my alarm two, three, sometimes four times every morning. but upon my alarm sounding for the second time this morning, i reached over and heard the dj utter, "we'll talk more about the passing of edward kennedy..." i sat straight up and said, "oh no."

i turned off my alarm clock, headed out to the living room and turned on msnbc. there was the crew of morning joe mourning the loss of the liberal lion of the senate, edward m. kennedy.

the new york times reported it succinctly and put it best:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.
i've been surprised at how strongly the news of teddy's passing has hit me this morning. i teared up.... i can't stop thinking about it.

it's true i was not alive when kennedy fought for civil rights and led the charge on capitol hill back in the 60's. nor was i around for chappaquiddick... i wasn't old enough to remember his presidential run in 1980 nor was i much into politics before the mid-90s.

but as a student of history and a lover of politics...you cannot look back on the latter part of the 20th century and not see his impact on the lives of all americans.

he championed many causes that are close to my heart such as civil rights, equal rights and the greatest calling of his life: health care for all.

he always fought for "the poor and voiceless."

he came from much, yes, but believed greatly in giving back equally as much.

i'm saddened most by the fact that he didn't live to see any real, substantive health care reform. "health care is a right, not a privilege," he often said.

i firmly believe the debate over health care has suffered without his involvement. he was an adamant voice for his causes but he also knew how to reach across the aisle and bring republicans in to help pass legislation. this type of finesse is simply difficult to find currently in the halls of congress.

perhaps now...out of respect for his legacy....congress will try to work harder on some sort of health care reform.

one can only hope....

this quote from senator kennedy in the times article this morning also stood out to me:

We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make. I have lived a blessed time.
our future is better because ted kennedy lived.

washington, as well as core liberal values, has lost a giant.

edward m. kennedy
february 22, 1932 – august 25, 2009

may the dream live on without him....

e.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick Update

we have sound.

we got some laughs.

it's not perfect. and there's a lot of openings for mistakes.

but it's promising.

we'll see....

e.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Initial/Random Thoughts

so tonight was the second evening of tech rehearsal for this year's 10x10 festival of new plays. tech rehearsal. that's "technical rehearsal" for you non-theatre types.

so one might hope that during TECH rehearsal....they might have working sound. you know, for timing, etc.

yeah...not last night. not tonight.

some backstory: i swore after the first year i did the 10x10 i would never write anything that depended on sound effects or music. it was a nightmare that first year....wrong music. late music. music not working. just not good.

but now i've gone back on that promise to myself...and i have A LOT of VERY important sound effects. please note my unusual use of all caps... they're THAT important.

and now....we've yet to have sound. two full nights of tech rehearsal. no sound.

joy.

tomorrow night is the final dress rehearsal before we open on friday. i'm nervous... but suddenly excited. allow me to explain....

i had felt a bit disconnected... just not a lot of rehearsal and i've had to miss some that we have had. i didn't feel a strong connection to my cast and i just felt separated from the fucking thing.

but now i'm loving what the cast is doing with the play. and my director has just been a blast the past two nights. especially tonight when he showed up to the theatre ten sheets to the wind. oh. my. god. you could smell the cabernet on his breath. it was fabulous.... and hilarious. and made the cast comfortable... and we were all joking about it and having fun with each other...

and they got up there on stage and just had FUN with the piece.

the first night of tech... they were still a bit stiff. lacking projection, as well. but tonight....they got some laughs (from the handful of people who were still there) and i think it might just be okay.

my director from last year stuck around and i went up to her and asked: "funny or offensive?" and she said, "funny." she seemed to have had a good chuckle. i'm sure some of it shocked her, the sweet thing... but i feel better.

they dropped some lines..... there's still some minor tweaking... but it's looking good.

if they can work out the sound effects and if my actors can remember their lines (and my non-actor avoids freaking out the first time he's onstage in front of a full house) - we should be fine.

so...two funny things and then i'll give my initial thoughts on each play.

a) i was told the most fabulous phrase for babies tonight: "crotch fruit." i plan to write an entire play around these two words.

b) we were all sitting around joking with my drunken director when someone asked me if i would write them a part where they could play a pedophile. i looked at him and said, "yeah... ask the gay guy to write a play about pedophilia. because we don't have enough problems." another playwright put her head on my shoulder and said, "i like him."

just making friends everywhere i go....

okay, the plays and my initial thoughts. names avoided (for now) to protect the innocent.

1. may have had promise at one time... but completely destroyed by a single actress who makes it beyond painful to watch.

2. another play i liked on the page....but here's it's a muffled mess. and the best part of the play (the final monologue) is HI-larious... but killed in delivery. disappointing.

3. not bad...some nice moments. overall, more strongly directed and acted than written.

4. confusing at first... disjointed. but then two actors are allowed to come together and it's very touching. major props to the two actors.

5. harmless. charming. well-crafted. a nice piece. very funny with some very talented actors.

6. why do they always start off the second act with the most bizarre play? a jumbled mess. not helped at all by the lead actor. the lighting and the staging all feel very high school UIL.

7. very cute. doesn't really go anywhere...but you know i love that. and very cute.

8. perhaps my favorite. starts off bizarre and just continues down to it's dark conclusion. well written, well staged. excellent actress involved.

9. still a bit of a mess.... saved by some very good performances (one in particular). goes on WAY too long. when i timed it last night, it ran about 17 minutes.

10. well, you'll just have to wait and judge for yourself.

more thoughts after the run...maybe even after dress rehearsal tomorrow night. i also owe you, my lovelies, some thoughts on the festival of originals (FOO).

nightie, night.

e.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And Last Up...Racism?

now.....you probably read that subject heading and thought this entry might be about the cambridge police, professor skip gates and barack obama.

well, you'd be wrong.

it's about my 10x10 play. and there have been some surprising developments. most of them good... a couple of them odd.

let me begin by discussing the rehearsal i attended this evening... the cast if off book. that's the first big relief. as previously discussed, one of my actors is not an Actor. this is his first time on stage.... and i had a feeling once he got off book he might be a lot better in the role.

luckily, i was on to something.

now, i'm not sure if it's because the director wasn't there tonight or if it was something else... but they were really enjoying themselves and the material. the actors were joking around, it all felt much looser. and that's what the play needs.

i keep telling everyone... if we play it too seriously, the play runs the trouble of coming across as simply racist, as opposed to a comment on racism.

i feel much better about it after tonight's rehearsal. daryl continues to be the standout and he's doing some truly fabulous and hilarious things with his part. he should totally steal the show. but all the actors seem to understand they should play around with the material more and focus on having fun rather then delivering the deeper message. if we do it right, the message will come across... and, hopefully, people will laugh and not be offended.

which brings me to my next point: some good/interesting news. i was told by the actors tonight that my play will be presented 10th. yes....i am closing out this year's 10x10.

so two things: 1) that means i get to sit longer before my play goes up and i'll be a nervous wreck even longer.... and 2) i have the coveted position of being the play that leaves the final impression on the audience.

this is a big deal, actually. the troll that runs the 10x10 likes to finish the night with a play she thinks is the funniest and one of the strongest.

so i was kinda flattered.

then i received a more complete explanation: the troll believes, in short, if people are offended by my play they can simply walk out and they won't miss any of the other plays.

jesus fucking christ! thanks for deflating my ego. i mean....seriously?!?

yes, apparently, the troll is so afraid that my potentially racist play may offend so many blue hairs that she's placing it last so they can feel okay about walking out and not missing the other nine gems.

first of all.... if i haven't offended anybody by now... i'm not sure this play will do it. yes, there are several racial and sexual slurs in it...including the n-word. and yes...it has my usual amount of profanity.

but dammit.... the play that closed out the first act of the 10x10 last year had an actor calling the audience "a bunch of assholes" and talked about one actor "sucking cock." and that same playwright, this year....has a character uttering that all offensive word: CUNT!

but it appears the troll is more concerned with my play where the language is actually used to make a point...than a play where the word "cunt" is delivered for a laugh, yes, but also out of anger.

whatever... i'm pretty sure this is my last year for the 10x10. i've kept up a four year streak and i want to focus on bigger things from here on out. and, really, they just don't understand my work.

here's hoping, however, the audience will appreciate it. if not... (to steal a line from the first play of mine ever produced) fuck 'em!

i can't wait to see what happens....

e.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Lesser Anniversary

good evening, my lovelies.... welcome to my second anniversary blog entry. yes, two years ago today i began this self-indulgent exercise.

but my anniversary falls on the same day as a much more important anniversary: the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon.

it's funny.... i sent out a request for subject suggestions for this entry and i only received one: write about walter cronkite.

it's interesting because cronkite was before my time. when he left the anchor desk in 1981, i was about 8. so as far as cronkite the anchor man... i know him only from archival footage. but two moments in his career stick out most to me.

the first is his announcement of the death of president john f. kennedy... his choking up. and the second is his boyish excitement at watching man landing on the moon.

i'm currently watching the 1989 documentary for all mankind on TCM which chronicles the first moon landing from the astronauts preparing that day to the very end. and it includes commentary from all the astronauts involved. it is most fascinating.

again.... this happened in 1969... four years before my birth. i don't know of a time when we didn't know about the moon. yet earlier today i watched some very humorous movies on TCM about landing on the moon prior to man ever landing on the moon. and our ideas of the moon... our fantasies of this unknown world... they're most intriguing...often hilarious.

and the eagle has just landed on the moon....in the documentary. i can't imagine... but watching cronkite watch the first footage... i have an idea. and i've been watching this documentary, most of it footage i've never seen, with that same wide-eyed wonder.

i've always been an english and history kind of student.... but i have some strong moments of science nerdom. anthropology has interested me ever since i took a course in college. and i'm forever fascinated by space... these images of the moon landing. pictures of saturn's ring and jupiter's eye. i can look at them forever.

and it's interesting to watch this footage. there was a moment when they first show footage of the astronaut's view of earth... and it makes me feel so tiny. so insignificant.

and i know that everyone wants to think they're important. that they're special. why else do we fool ourselves into thinking people are really interested in my bullshit thoughts here on this blog?

why else do people post status updates on facebook? or 140 characters or less tidbits on twitter?

we want to feel interesting. but, ultimately, all this will be gone. and all these characters, here on this blog....for two years now.... may never be read again.

but i guess i hope... bringing it all full circle...that i'll be able to witness as many extraordinary events in my lifetime as walter cronkite. and i've seen some already: the fall of the berlin wall. the wrongful impeachment of a president. the tragedy of 9/11. the election of the first african american president of the united states.

and on a personal level... my parents growing older - turning 70 this year. my own journey of self-discovery and finding my true self. my brothers and i becoming men. their marriages. the birth of my niece. the staging of my plays. and friendships that have become more important to me than i could've ever imagined.

and i'd like to continue to chronicle these events.... and i guess i'm feeling a bit sentimental tonight. probably from the lack of sleep.

but i thank all of you that continue to read the stories i chronicle here. i hope they continue to entertain and (occasionally) make you laugh.

so thank you for reading, my lovelies. here's to another great year!

e.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Approaching Two Years

as i sit in baton rouge thinking about my niece's first birthday and wondering if saying "nutria rat" is redundant... i was reminded that my own anniversary is fast approaching.

monday will be the second anniversary of my blog. and you know what that means... i'm taking special requests.

what would you like me to blog about? what topics should i tackle to begin my second year as a goddamned blogger....?

please have requests in by sunday evening as i hope to compose the anniversary blog monday during the day.

make the subject suggestions fun.... make 'em challenging. and for buddha's sake... make 'em interesting!

e.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One

so i'm heading to the backwood swamps of louisiana this weekend to help celebrate my niece's first birthday.

i have my concerns.

first of all....what if i don't like her any more? i mean...sure, i adored her at six months. but she could've developed into a major asshole by now. we all know my record with children and it's not good. and i'm sorry...but i have no time for assholes (shut up, all of you!).

then there's this whole nonsense of the first birthday party. it will be my side of the family... (somewhat smallish) and my brother's wife's side of the family. and that's a big, ole creole side o' family. PLUS! (vishnu help me!) all the neighbors and their idiot children will be there.

i hate crowds. especially crowds with children.....

anyway... i still had bigger concern: the present.

i wanted to buy my niece some books since i am told she really enjoys books. i was thinking something by virginia woolf or, at the very least, something feminist and/or progressive thinking.

but then i was told, no, she likes to eat the books... and shake the books. move and crinkle things from within the books.

i was lost.

don't get me wrong.... i bought her books anyway. one is cloth and i assume she'll enjoy the subtle cotton flavor of the pages. the other has some built-in rattle within the spine. she can shake and shake and shake that fuckin' book until the cow jumps over the freakin' moon. i leave the day after she gets it.

but then i was told this tidbit of information (my favorite!): get her a card.

seriously? a birthday card? she's one....!

"i have all of my birthday cards from my first birthday," my friend tells me.

so i buy my niece a card. nothing with a princess or cookie monster. nothing cutesy and vomit-inducing. a simple card: giraffe on the front with a one over its head. and it says something along the lines of "reach high in the sky." and then you open it and it says something about birthday wishes or something.

nothing overly sentimental. nothing cheesy.

but then i remember: she can't read. she's only one! otherwise, i would've been wrapping a copy of mrs. dalloway and not some rattle book.

so i wrote on the envelope: "to [my niece] - (but someone will have to read it to her)." you know... in case there was some confusion and nobody thought to help my niece out.

and inside i wrote: "happy birthday - if you could read i think you'd really enjoy the simplicity and classic style of this card. alas, you are only one. maybe next year, kiddo."

so my next question is: do children read at age two...?

e.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Theatrical Update

so just a few notes for those of you who hold some sort of interest in my theatrical endeavors.

as some of you know... i had submitted two short pieces for two separate competitions earlier this year.

the first was a 20 minute piece for theatre southwest's annual festival of originals. i have never submitted to this competition and i was really looking forward to breaking into something new. however, i was also conflicted over the piece i submitted and the rawness of the subject matter.

well, i was not selected. so i didn't have to stress over my conflicted emotions. but...it did bring up another emotion i hadn't experienced (theatrically speaking) in some time: rejection.

with modesty i submit to you: i've had a pretty good track record. the first year i submitted to albee (back in the mid 90's) - i was an alternate. the next year i was selected...not even the playwrighting class, but the production class. then the following year albee wrote me personally saying he would like to do another one of my plays, but felt he should give others a shot. then he selected another piece of mine the following year for his production class.

then i went on my loooooong writing hiatus. but when i submitted to the scriptwriters/houston 10x10 in 2006, i was selected. then i was selected again the next year and the next.

when i submitted to the wordsmyth reading series late last year... my play was selected for the march debut of this new series.

but then i hit a wall with the FOO. i'm actually quite happy with the play i submitted so my writer's ego was bruised when i wasn't chosen... and i found myself hit hard by the rejection. it actually took a week or two to heal the wounds. and others have made me feel better by letting me know who you need to know and what you probably need to do to get into the FOO... so i'm not as upset.

also helping matters... i was selected for a fourth straight year into the 10x10. i have officially impressed even the most seasoned of 10x10 activists.

and again... i was surprised to be chosen. the subject matter is a bit different for me... i mean...it's political... but different from my past three plays. and, i hope, funny.

it's interesting... i finally got the director i've wanted to work with for the past three years and, as it turned out, he completely missed the mark on my play (initially). my reputation must've proceeded me because my director thought...for some odd reason...that my characters were gay.

i told him, "no, i've purposely written them straight this year." and he said, "well, i don't know why i thought they were gay." and i answered: "probably because you saw my last three plays." and he smiled and said, "probably."

but he had precast my play and had some nervous nelly in the main role... i was not happy. and i went round and round for about three days wondering if i could compromise my original vision to make my director happy.

luckily...he recast and the latest conflict was put to rest.

and the cast has promise. we had our first rehearsal just about a week ago. the director has some nice ideas... he is a bit more concerned with "business" than i care for in a director... but i know actors like to have shit to do around stage. i'll never quite understand why they can't allow the words to do more of the work for them.

but anyway... one actor - he will be superb and will totally steal the show. he's hilarious and i really lucked out. the actress has also shown some nice insight and some very funny timing. i have no worries.

then there's the "lead." it really is an ensemble piece but one actor has more of the heavy lifting. we had trouble finding a replacement so a "natural" was recommended by the actress in the play. turns out... she's dating him and he's never been on stage before.

here i have some concerns.

my first play in the 10x10 was destroyed by a cast that couldn't really handle the comedy. this play has an even trickier subject matter and, therefore, a steeper comedy mountain to climb. i hope he can handle it.

he was very stiff during the read-through and the short amount of time we spent blocking. but after we finished the rehearsal and stood around chatting... he did some impressions and told some stories and was really very funny. so he has the ability. he simply needs to translate it to the show.

so....my theatrical calendar isn't as busy as i had hoped... but two out of three shows isn't bad. and i now have more time to fine-tune the two act and get it to a place where i can start submitting it again for a full production.

i've also been asked to read submissions for the wordsmyth fall reading series and have seven plays waiting for me to read. so it's not like i'm not busy.

in fact... i'm crazy busy.

i also have two ideas for the next full-length i'd like to act and i'm waiting to see which one fights to prominence in my head first. i hope to get a good first draft of that finished by year's end.

and i have seen some shows. including a string of musicals, oddly enough... three very fine productions of grey gardens, hedwig and the angry inch and cabaret).

so... at this point i feel a bit caught up on the blogging (if not with two truncated entries) but will once again attempt to be better about forcing my thoughts on you, my loyal readers.

hope you had a nice holiday weekend. and now, if you'll excuse me, i have some plays to read.

e.

Palin Pulls Me Back

wow... i went the entire month of june without a single post. i guess that shows how busy i've really been.

but wouldn't ya know it? it took sarah palin to bring me back to the blog.

now.... i've watched a lot of press conferences over the past several years. as i dig deeper and deeper into politics, i love a good presser.

governor sanford's "i've been unfaithful to my wife" press conference will go down as, probably, the most bizarre. but palin's announcement on friday that she would not only NOT seek a second term as alaska's governor...but would step down at the end of july... well, that's polling a close second right now.

i don't want to focus too much on the rambling, mixed-metaphor announcement.... but what i now see as her future.

i'm hearing and reading a lot of people saying "don't count sarah palin out." but i'm sorry.... she's out.

she can't even claim she's a one term governor anymore... she will NOT complete her first term. and if you can't handle one term in alaska... you will NOT make it in d.c.

and we could spend some time on why she's getting out now... her lame excuse that she won't be a lame duck... well - then DON'T be a lame duck. but i think we all know that she is probably focused on 2012 and a run for president.

sorry.... but you might as well forget it.

she can spend the next three years fine-tuning her folksy bullshit persona. she can actually learn a thing or two about domestic and foreign policy... but it will always come back to "you couldn't even finish a single term as governor of fucking alaska."

and yes.... she will now be free to tour the lower 48 and she can give speech after speech and start building up her own war chest. but it won't help her.

it's true that palin is very popular among the GOP base. and some of them may buy into this bullshit, "unconventional" move. but beyond that... she came to the national stage as a joke and this makes her even more of a joke.

so let's look at 2012. first up, as always: iowa. she'll do fine in iowa. there's a boatload of evangelicals there. but, of course, she'll have to compete with huckabee to win those votes.

then there's new hampshire...home of the independents. she won't even come close.

she may then take south carolina... after all, they've elected mark sanford so they clearly like 'em crazy. but then she's done.

she does not poll over 50% with independents...who you MUST have to win. she'll remain a national joke if she continues to stay in the news when she stated part of the reason she's stepping down is for her family (and yes, the press has been harsh on her family.... but they're hard on every woman. i give you hillary clinton).

and then....we once again return to: she couldn't even complete her first term as governor of fucking alaska.

i just see this as political suicide. and maybe that's what she ultimately wants. but i do think she's done it to set up a run in 2012... OR...there's something bigger that hasn't revealed itself yet.

but i read the vanity fair article and it was damning. and as matthew dowd said on this week this morning... she can have all the natural political ability she wants... but she doesn't have the discipline to make it on the national stage.

apparently...she doesn't have the discipline to make it on the alaskan stage either.

and, really, a life without sarah palin on my t.v. every day... is a life i welcome with open arms.

R.I.P. sarah palin's political career.

e.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gotta Love Bobby Gibbs

we're all familiar with white house press secretary robert gibb's little tête-à-tête with rick santelli of cnbc...where robert invited rick to the white house to actually read the president's economic plan over a cup of "decaf" coffee.

and i love heading home for lunch around 1pm CST each day and catching a bit of robert's press conference. yes, i'm a political geek and i'm proud to admit it.

but come on! the man is funny.... confident, calm.... in charge.

today was extra-special.

mr. gibbs was being grilled over "enhanced interrogation technique" photos... and i'm sorry, but i must digress for a moment. is this some sort of frank luntz bullshit phrase or what? just like the GOP shifted the scary "global warming" phrase to the less negligible phrase "climate change" - they are now attempting to rename TORTURE as "enhanced interrogation techniques."

you can put lipstick on a pig but....

anyway... they were questioning bobby about the release (or non-release) of the photos and he was attempting to explain the difference between releasing memos (which they have done) and releasing photographs (which they argue may further endanger troops overseas).

now... i didn't catch the very beginning - but why did mr. gibbs not just say, "photos are simply more inflammatory than a memo." plain and simple. whatever.

but he was being grilled by ed helms of cnn and mr. gibbs said, (paraphrased) "ed, why does cnn show the computer graphic of waterboarding?" ed fumbled for an answer. mr. gibbs continued, "you drew up that graphic long before we released the memos. everyone was aware of the techniques being used."

i thought it was great that he called cnn out on some bullshit. they're trying to be high and mighty yet they're out there showing graphics, etc.

"the public deserves to know." fine... i'm good with that. i hold no ill will against the times or any news organization that helped shine a light on the atrocities that took place under bush43.

and again.... at this point in time, we all know TORTURE happened... the bush administration has said as much. so releasing the memos was no big deal. it hasn't made us "less safe" as prick cheney would like everyone to believe.

and since when are we listening to someone with a 19% approval rating? is this who the GOP wants to stand behind?

but wait....there's more from the press conference. someone's cell phone went off.

mr. gibbs: (exacerbated) "just put it on vibrate, man. you know... we've talked about this before. actually, this is the third time. (motioning) just give it to me."

and he made the reporter turn over his phone! is was fucking great!

he then excuses himself for a minute, goes to the door leading out of the press room and tosses the phone to someone in the back. brilliant.

but then someone else's cell phone rings! bobby stops... he motions for the phone. you can hear the reporter tell the caller mr. gibbs wants his phone. but he gets up (from the front row, mind you) and excuses himself to take the call.

robert was not happy.

best part... when the reporter returned, mr. gibbs said, without missing a beat, "will someone please brief bill on our new supreme court justice nominee."

very clever... yes, you gotta love robert gibbs.

and yes, i'm a nerd.

e.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not in the Face!

one of my favorite moments ever from dom deluise who passed away today at 75.

"watch. me. faggots."

i was always one of the fags that enjoyed watching him.... whether it was blazing saddles or even the cannonball run movies.

farewell, dom. thanks for all the laughs.

e.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Switch Hitter

senator arlen specter of pennsylvania has become a democrat!

the moderate republican announced today that he was leaving the grand ole party to caucus with the dems and run as a democrat next year in his pennsylvania senate race.

assuming al franken wraps up the ongoing senate battle in minnesota, specter's defection would give the blue party a 60-member, filibuster-proof majority in the senate.

i'm sure much of this decision comes from specter's internal polling which shows him in a rather unfavorable position with most conservatives. his support of obama's stimulus alone could cost him his seat.

in a news conference today, specter said:
I know I'm disappointing many of my colleagues. The disappointment runs in both directions....I'm putting principle at the top of the list.
specter added "the decision has been reached as i have traveled the state in the last several months. specifically, i got my home poll results last friday...and consulted with my campaign managers and had a long discussion."

i think in an ever-bluing new england, he saw the writing on the wall and wants to do all he can to reach his sixth term.

his statement reads:
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right."

Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.
welcome to the party, arlen.

e.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On the Boards

well, i'm trying to focus this blog a bit more on theatre as of late... the blog title would insinuate that it should involve more theatre musings. and i've been hitting up the theatre a lot more lately. i've decided it's shameful how little theatre i see since i want to make a life in that arena. and there's so much theatre in houston. i want to try and see AT LEAST one play a month. i've actually been seeing much more than that.... i'll try to take these in order.

rabbit hole by david lindsay-abaire
i have great respect for this play and i thought it was incredibly powerful in its simplicity. simple plot. simple language. linear construction. deep, conflicted characters. everything i think i strive for when i write.

the play focuses on a couple dealing with the loss of their four year old son. "dogs chase squirrels. boys chase dogs." it's really about how different people grieve in different ways and how a simple phrase can bring back a memory that causes sadness or anger. it's about finding or attempting to assign blame when it's truly an accident. you blame yourself. you blame the driver.

stages repertory theatre really put on a top-notch production here. and the play quietly makes its way to a quiet conclusion. a fitting one: the couple still trying to cope but giving hints that they will move on. it's a quiet conclusion one without a big dramatic blow out. it's what i want for my play. so this play gave me comfort in what i've created with stop, traveler.

and - it won the pulitzer.

the only down-side....? i submitted a piece to the FOO (festival or originals) about a couple dealing with the loss of their 16 year old son. it hits on a lot of the same themes and i'm afraid people will think i stole the idea. oh well.

five flights by adam bock
a curious play... more interested in language and the absurdity of organized religion than much else. this was put on by unhinged productions which is a local theatre group that is committed to putting on plays that deal with gay themes. they are a group i want to submit to but i've been less-than impressed by the majority of their past productions.

but this was a fine piece of theatre... better actors (save for one laughably bad dolt) and a better theatre space..... the play focuses on three siblings who have to decide what to do with an aviary built by their late father that he built to house the soul of his wife that died years earlier. birds as vessels for the human soul in a constant theme and one character even wants to turn the aviary into a church (the church of the 5th day - the day god created birds). two of the siblings are seen... ed (gay) and adele (possibly gay). the other brother we never meet... but his rigid and anal wife is there and tells us all we need to know.

the themes were really interesting and i liked the simplistic staging. again - something i want for my piece. so i may look into this partnership a bit more. but the play was good.... not great... but there are moments of poetry and real intimate realizations.

mr. bock could be someone to look out for in the future.

in the bar of a tokyo hotel by tennessee williams
how could i pass up an opportunity to see tennessee williams in a black box production?

this is a seldom-produced williams play that came late in his career. 1969, i believe. it is also very personal.... and somewhat uncomfortable to watch.

depending on who you ask will depend on how they see the plot. mark and miriam are a married couple staying at a tokyo hotel. miriam likes to drink away the day and flirt with almost any man - but in particular, the japanese barman. mark is a painter clearly suffering a mental collapse. he is developing a new form of art... and actually thinks he is the first to discover color.

one person may say this is the two parts of mr. williams. the conflicted, insane artist and the alcoholic letch.

someone else may say tennessee has constructed a portrait of mr. and mrs. jackson pollack.

i tend to lean towards the former. although i believe this production decided to bring out more of the latter. it's a really interesting little play. a long one act drawn into a two act for this production. there is some great use of language in this piece. most of the crowd i saw it with seemed lost, confused and joked about the oddness of the play. i found it rather compelling. and placing it in a black box theatre made it very intimate. i'm in love with intimate theatres.

the lead actress and the barman were the standouts... although - it's odd to see the stereotyping of the japanese barman. i found the other two men a bit weak... in particular the actor who played mark....who seemed too incoherent and lost from the beginning... it gave him no place to go.

i found the original review of the first production in the times. it seems to hit everything pretty well. plus - it's just a funny, snarky read.

wallflower by deborah stein
this was a world premiere at stages repertory theatre. i was really excited to see this.... a revolution is started by a simple youtube posting. the girl (she's 16, i believe) is then holed up in an apartment when the authorities begin looking for her. her sister and her lover become her only companions and her link to news of the outside.

the use of technology was very interesting in this play... the idea of a youtube video starting a revolution seems very prescient. of course, the revolution quickly takes a violent turn....a turn unwelcomed by milena (the poster) but just the ticket for her lover.

there are odd moments of misogyny in the play which is particularly strange considering a woman wrote the piece. i can only assume she intends for us to see the lover in this way.

ultimately, however, what we see on stage does not seem nearly as interesting as what we hear about taking place outside.

stein struggles to fill just under 90 minutes with the three stuck in the apartment... and i think the idea would be better served if she had opened the action up to the outside.

who are these followers? how does milena react when actually faced with her revolution and not just hearing about it?

a disappointment.... and i've heard that the majority of audiences have felt the same way.

all the pretty little horses by nancy geyer
this was the second play in the wordsmyth reading series. what i heard from individuals the most was the dichotomy of the two audiences between my play and this one. there was about a 30 year difference in the median age. it was crazy.

but a very nice turn out and just as odd a talkback.

i found the play about a lonely woman who is taken prisoner in her remote farm house by a younger, overtly religious man who may or may not have killed his mother somewhat intriguing.

my friend told me it reminded her of a lesser "good country people" by flannery o'connor and i went home and reread the short story and she's right. similar but different... but definitely the same feel of the warped, southern gothic.

i felt there was too little push back from the woman when the man barges into her home. and i say "barges in" but he's almost let in (or so it felt). and you immediately know where the story is taking you.... they will fuck and they will profess love... but ultimately, of course, they part.

i recommend the o'connor story much more. i forgot how much i enjoy reading ole flannery. i'm sure i had read "good country people" before but i didn't remember it... the description and characterization of joy is really something special. interesting that she's so hard and, really, dislikable going into the story... and then this horrible thing happens to her.

of course, o'connor's greatest talent is combining the southern gothic with the darkly, humorous.

next weekend
my friend steven and i see the seven year itch next weekend. i'll be sure to include some thoughts.

now go out and see some theatre...

e.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Final Curtain Call for Bea

long before women and gay men around the world started asking each other "which sex and the city character are you?" - they were asking "which golden girl are you?"

the answers were always clear for me: miranda and dorothy.

and today we lost dorothy.

yes, the great bea arthur passed away from cancer today at the age of 86.

she will be best known for her stints as maude and dorothy but long before her days on television she was a diva on broadway. she originated the role of vera charles in the musical mame. she was the original yente the matchmaker in fiddler on the roof.

a few years ago i was fortunate enough to see ms. arthur on broadway in her one woman show: just between friends.

i had already seen elaine stritch's one woman show on that trip and thought we might be better served seeing another show... but my friend james was insistent and since i dragged him to stritchie's show (of which he followed little, i think), i owed him.

he found us tickets on the third row.... center.

it was an amazing show. hilarious. sardonic. classic bea.

she started the show with a simple phrase: "i'd like to talk to you about lamb..." then she quickly rambled into a story/recipe before stopping suddenly and asking: "you are interested, aren't you?"

and of course we were.

we hung on her every word. laughed at every joke. loved every song. it was one of the highlights of the trip... listening to bea sing "the man in the moon is a lady" from mame. or "what can you get a nudist for her birthday?" asking "tell me on the level...can i send her a muff?"

or explaining that angela lansbury has "a mouth like a longshoreman."

i adored bea arthur. she was the type of quick-witted, strong, independent woman i love.

i'm sitting here listening to my cd of her one woman show (yes, i'm the type of fag that collects cast recordings and the like) and i'm a bit melancholy knowing this talented actress has left us.

she will be missed....

but i thought she deserved one last chance to take a bow at curtain.

farewell, bea.

e.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

M.I.A.

where have i been? what has happened to me....?

have i been held captive by spitzle the clown the past couple of months?

all these questions and more shall be answered soon.

promise.

i've been neglectful. and i apologize. i'm debating a press tour à la eliot spitzer, but my agent is a bit of a flake. and if he can't get me the cover of newsweek, well, what's the point?

it'll work itself out.

see you soon.

e.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Night Critters? Seriously...?!?

so last night i was startled out of my sleep at about 12:30am by either the terrorists upstairs or a large rat trying to get into my closet via a crawl space. either way.... i was certain it was the latter and had to get up, throw on some clothes and shoes (it ain't bitin' my feet!) and arm myself...

this included a large blanket, big box and a long broom.

i attempt to locate the rodent. i poke around in the closet with the broom. it does not appear.....

i shove everything that's on the floor in my closet tightly against the tiny door that leads into the crawl space. i then place an old suitcase in front of the door to block the space between said door and floor.

i was then left to stare at my closet for some time before i decided i should at least read until i heard my night visitor again....

i think i last looked at my clock and it was around 3am...maybe later.

i slept with a light on... broom and box next to my bed... and woke up about once an hour until 6:30 this morning... when i was pretty much up for the workday.

i'm tired.

and i'm still not sure if it was the construction of the dirty bomb upstairs or an unwelcome nighttime guest that ended my restful night.

these are my "girly" moments.... when i wish i had a big, butch partner to go into the closet and search out the offender.

damn my inability to open up... it's cost me a rat-catcher boyfriend.

at least i finished my book.

e.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Night Terrors? Seriously...?!?

i think it was all due to a trifecta of bad juju. an ill-conceived heavy dinner. a lack of sleep and overall exhaustion. and just a stressful week or two (or three). couple these conditions with my lack of ingesting my little blue pill on a regular basis lately and..... i woke up screaming last night.

scared the shit out of me, people.

i was dreaming that i headed into work early. current job but my old office... the old office building had a long hall that ran down the middle of the building with a large glass door and windows at the back entrance (where i entered). i pulled up and saw a dark figure at the far end of the hall. i had remembered that the alarm had been set off late sunday night (something that actually happened this past weekend) and i assumed someone had been stowing away in the building until we left and then slept through the night. when someone arrived in the morning to turn off the alarm, he'd slip out the front of back door.

so i entered the building and he slipped around the corner. i turned off the alarm and stepped back outside. i looked around the building to see if i could tell who was sleeping in the building. but he was not to be seen... so i thought i missed him.

i reentered the building. he appeared from around the corner and started walking towards me. i could not make out a face.... i patted my hands over both walls trying to find a light switch... there was not a switch to be found.

so i started to call out at the approaching figure. "hello!" but "hello" was not coming out right. i couldn't form the word properly... it sounded like a deaf person trying to speak. so i started to scream.... repeatedly... unable to form words properly.

then i awoke... sitting up in bed. screaming.

night terrors. fuck me.

i mean.... my list of phobias and hang-ups are well documented here. i don't need to add fucking night terrors to that list.

so i took one of my blue pills today.

oy.

e.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Notes From All Over: Theatrical Edition

well, my lovelies.... even my apology for the neglect is rooted in the theatre. it's been crazy. in just the past couple of weeks i've had a public reading of my full-length play and then i needed to complete a satisfactory version of a new twenty minute play for theatre southwest's annual festival of originals (FOO). the deadline was the 15th. it was dropped in the mail on the 13th.

at rise...

at home with albee
really, the past month or so has held a lot of theatrical goodies for me. it started with a farewell reception for dr. sidney berger at the university of houston. i never really took a class with dr. berger, who was responsible for making the UH theatre department such a successful program, but he did sit in and offer insight on both of my plays performed through the albee workshops.

plus.... the evening held tickets for the houston premier of albee's "at home at the zoo." this is an evening created by combining two albee one acts. back in 1958 albee shook the theatre world with his the zoo story...an in-your-face deconstruction of the american dream. thirty years later, he has given a prequel to this piece: homelife.

i had not had the opportunity to read or see homelife and since albee's zoo story is what first ignited my passion to write, i was beyond curious to see what albee had concocted for peter prior to his encounter with jerry in zoo.

homelife is really albee at the top of his craft. honing his use of words like a master. and while zoo is a bit less shocking 30 years later, homelife adds a new layer of intensity to the piece while providing fascinating insight into peter.

rutherford cravens, who has long been one of my favorite actors in the houston community, dominates both pieces as peter while i thought caleb george, a student at UH, was a touch out of his league as jerry. he started zoo too big, too agressive and did not allow himself enough room to grow in intimidation and urgency.

of course, having mr. albee in the audience probably didn't help with nerves.

yes, edward albee was in the audience and i was able to speak with my former mentor before the reception. i immediately regressed to calling him mr. albee when i first approached him. i had become comfortable enough in my second workshop class with him to call him edward... but that was some time ago.

i was relieved to learn he still remembered me and we fell into simple, if not brief, conversation. he remains very busy, which is good. not terribly long ago he lost his partner, jonathan, a sculptor who's work i had seen at an exhibition here in town several years ago.

we are both skeptical of the UH theatre department and its future under the new leadership. he and i have both heard individuals express concern. plus, it was dr. berger who was responsible for bringing in all the world-renowned talent such as albee and lanford wilson.

he asked what i'd had produced recently and i told him i've been writing and that i had a reading coming up.... he was pleased. i said otherwise i've mostly been doing "smaller things."

"what do you mean, 'smaller things'?"

"you know, ten minute plays."

"oh, god."

"i know... aren't they horrible?"

"the only good ten minute plays are either four minutes or 20 minutes."

it was classic albee....and i felt refreshed.

scene 2: a legend passes
i'd be remiss not to mention the passing of horton foote. the pulitzer prize-winning playwright was a texas native and had a unique gift for making poetry out of the simplicity of rural life.

he won two oscars: one for adapting harper lee's to kill a mockingbird for the screen and other for his original screenplay, tender mercies, with robert duvall (he's actually in mockingbird too).

and while i love both of these films, especially mockingbird, for me he will always be the author of the trip to bountiful with the immortal geraldine page. i've long-loved that movie and the charm and wit his writing brought to the script.

i was also fortunate enough to see some of his plays on the boards, most notably his pulitzer prize-winning the young man from atlanta.

another major voice lost.

scene 3: back on stage
i've been on stage once... maybe twice. but the only time i really remember is as a freshman in college in a production of ionesco's exit the king. i doubt i was very good... but in a production that went full-tilt-boogy with the absurdity of the script, i at least made people laugh.

but i'm not an actor and my nerves at having to mingle in large groups, not to mention SPEAK to large groups, have not only led to my little blue pill habit, but also to the realization that i prefer to write for the theatre than act in it.

when a friend asked me to help with a staged reading of his play, however, i couldn't turn him down. he's been beyond supportive over the years and is a very loyal and generous patron of the theatre here in houston. so i agreed to read stage directions.

and while stage directions may not seem like much, just the idea of getting up on stage in front of an audience to read stage directions called for one full blue pill and several halls cough drops to keep my throat from closing up due to nerves.

i will say, however, it was interesting being on a different side of the creative process again. i'm used to being the author....working closely with the director to cast, probe, discern meaning.... but here i was....utilized not as an actor per se but in an actor's capacity.

strange to see actors go through the discovery process. to watch the director lead actors through exercises of deconstruction of meaning and intent of the scene. all the while really being on the outside of the process. i didn't dare make directorial suggestions... and i was not there as editor/author.

but i was treated generously and, oddly, as a plus to the production. the other actors were very encouraging and allotted me additional applause at curtain call. probably because they all knew how uncomfortable being on stage made me... and the host of the reading series even asked me to plug my own reading.

so it was a good - if not nerve-wracking - experience. the oddest moment was the pre-performance....tradition(?) not sure if it's tradition for everyone... but this group liked to come together, hug, and then pass a kiss around the circle.

now, those that know me know i'm not big on the warm-fuzzy, touchy-feely shit.... so the hug itself made it uncomfortable. but i was also responsible for passing along a kiss on the cheek to an expectant father.

yeah.....

act II: the reading
so i had a reading of my play.... it was at stages where my first two plays were produced back in the late 90s. i can't tell you had good it felt to be back in that space.

it was the full length play that i finally completed last year after 8 years of distraction, obstacles and reworking of every bit of it in my head. after all that time gestating in my cranium, i thought it had turned out well. and a smaller reading last year received an excellent response.

but this was bigger than that reading. the theatre company that put out the call for scripts (they chose 3 out of 15 submitted) provided a director and a group of actors pulled from a very prestigious "actors gym" in houston. most members are on company at the alley theatre.

i have to be honest when i admit that i was really stressed going into this. they decided to put my play up first and i was cast less than a week out. i met my director for the first time face to face the friday before the monday performance.

but justin, my director, was amazing. the first thing he said to me was "i feel like it needs to move." and that's what he did. he took the reading and put it on its feet.... stripped the entire play of the majority of its stage directions and had characters move in and out of the scene. he wanted everything focused on the words.

as a playwright..... how could you ask for a better director?

and what he put on stage was a very sophisticated, very honest representation of my work. i honestly feel that out of every director i've worked with over the years.... he understood best what i wanted to accomplish with the script.

and i was honored with a very strong group of talented actors that brought amazing depth and emotion and humor to the characters.

the rehearsals had been slapdash versions of the play so i didn't know what to expect... and the morning of the play i made my debut on KUHF's "front row." it was surreal hearing my name and play discussed in the opening of the program... and then listening to myself discuss the finer points and benefits of a staged reading.

i thought, actually, it went well... but it took half a blue pill and several cough drops to get through it.

then walking into the performance without any clue what to expect took the other half of the pill and even more cough drops. but ultimately, i was very pleased. it was what i had hoped for on stage and more (the stage itself, however... leftover from the always patsy cline show... that i didn't love so much).

scene 2: the talkback....
that was different. as discussed, i hate being on stage. well, here i was....onstage and placed before an audience for vivisection.

for the most part.....the comments were helpful. i felt some were off base. i felt some were well-intentioned but perhaps not germaine to what i had hoped to accomplish.

a dramaturge from UH (PhD and all) helped moderate and i hope to talk with him more. he made an interesting comment about chekhov not seeking a climax so much as letting the play fade to its conclusion. not realizing this was, perhaps, what i was going for... it is exactly what i want.

mostly there were comments about dramatizing more of the monologues or cutting back on the self-realization of emotions on the part of the characters. i thought these were excellent points.

i did not, however, agree with the big-mouthed nut job that went off about "feminine mode" plays and how i care more about characters and relationships than plot. i really just wanted to say, "so you found the play faggy? is that what i should take from this?" and then he went on and on about mamet (who i love) and how the theatre has lost its sense of dialogue.

now.... i'll take lots and lots of criticism....BUT....if there's one thing i know i know: it's dialogue. my dialogue is good. it's solid, it's realistic..... it's stylized enough for my taste where i feel like playing with it.... don't come at me with dialogue.

then there was the "mother" who wanted to know how old the children who never even appear in the play are... my answer was "hell if i know?" but if i had taken a moment i could've given her a range. but she felt that was important to know.

and then there was mr. psycho-babble who talked about the "gay cancer" and the second, third and fourth chromosomes and the 2nd and 4th months of gestation and bladdy, bladdy, blah.....

oh - the guy at intermission who told me i looked like dom deluise and then went on to tell me about his historical book that takes place in the days of custer and the indians but how he has trouble with "small talk." and all i can think about is "why the fuck do you need small talk when your characters have arrows being shot at their asses?"

but my favorite....? the actor who had a lot of good points during the talk back.... had made it all the way to his car.... came back.... and decided he HAD to perform a monologue from cyrano de bergerac in two different ways in order to illustrate a point.

yes, my lovelies... i got it all that night.

but most all.... i got the realization that the play i had hoped was completed, still needs some work. i don't think it needs a lot. but it needs some fine-tuning. i think it can only help the strength of the play.... breaking up the constant two people in every scene... dramatizing more action.... cutting back on the sentimentality that still exists in the play. cutting the entire final monologue and allowing the final dramatic moment to close the piece.... all this can only help.

it was a tough night.... it was hard to sit up there and not say much and not defend my work. but i also hope i'm evolved enough as a writer to know when criticism is valid.

it's all turning itself over and over in my head at the moment... i'm waiting for a follow-up discussion with the dramaturge, and then i hope to polish the piece... and shop it around.

scene 3: the next piece
just a quick coda... i was able to complete a 20 minute piece for the festival of originals (FOO) at theatre southwest. not sure when the five plays that are chosen are announced.... but i expect late april, early may. a long time to wait.

it took me exactly a month to conceive the play and drop the finished product in the mail for competition.

it was not the play i originally planned to write. i had planned to condense a full-length play about two lesbians i have in my head down for the FOO.... but something very tragic happened at work and it set my brain in motion.

i have extreme guilt over writing the piece... a friend, an employee.... had something incredibly awful happen to her and she lost a family member. at first i was really struck with how hard it hit me.... in all honestly, it knocked the wind out of me.

and then i found myself dealing with it the way i always deal with such events.... i started thinking about how i would deal with the situation. what would i feel? how would i react? and the scene started developing itself... and then i was suddenly in front of my laptop writing it out.

so i have guilt over it.... am i taking advantage of a friend's tragedy? am i simply expressing my emotions in the best way i know how? and what if the play is chosen and performed? do i warn her? do i try and keep it a secret because i feel so guilty?

or as one friend put it... should i never censor myself and simply acknowledge the fact that this is how art is often created? out of tragedy?

i'm conflicted.... but i'm trying not to worry about it too much. at least, not unless it's chosen for the festival.

on the upside.... i'm writing. and i'm writing consistently.

scene 4: (in an attempt to change the mood and subject)
so....? any ideas for a 10 minute piece?

curtain

e.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Howdy Doody Time!

okay.... obama just gave a very inspirational and beautiful speech to a joint session of congress.

and now....the republican response is on.

as governor bobby jindal walked out, keith olbermann's mic was not fully down and you could hear him mutter, "oh, god..."

jindal came walking out like fuckin' howdy doody on puppet strings.

how the fuck is an indian american gonna come across like some "gee, golly shucks" hillbilly?

seriously? they want this guy running for president in 2012?

bring. it. on.

e.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Oscars!

happy oscars, everyone!

sorry the video is a bit pixilated and the sound is a touch off… but this is the song that goes through my head all the time around the academy awards (and it’s liza!).

three other quick predictions for you, and i would give all three of this a will win/should win declaration:

best animated feature: WALL-E
best adapted screenplay: slumdog millionaire, simon beaufoy
best original screenplay: milk, dustin lance black

and i’m still feeling mickey rourke for the win.... just really wish it was sean penn.

oh well....

oscar! everybody loves ya, oscar! everybody wants to get ya, grab ya, hug ya... hold you tight!

e.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Countdown to the Oscars: Best Picture

the nominees for best picture are:

the curious case of benjamin button
frost/nixon
milk
the reader
slumdog millionaire


once again for the benefit of my anonymous poster... it should be said that the dark knight is a far superior film to at least two of these nominees, if not more.

i am not willing to say that milk or frost/nixon do not belong on this list. they are easily in my top five.

milk for it's heartbreaking and inspirational storytelling of a movement that is still alive today but is beholden to a great man. van sant and penn make a moving biopic here that is just outside my top spot.

frost/nixon for it's compelling cat and mouse intellectual mindfuck between a fallen president and a man desperate to prove himself. in fact, aren't they both attempting redemption here? the tension builds beautifully until everything unwraps itself in the climatic interview.

i understand the technical and visual wonders that garnered benjamin button a nomination. but it does not belong in the top five.

the reader most certainly does not belong in the top five.

i would replace either of these with the dark knight, revolutionary road or WALL-E.

but one film i most definitely would not replace is slumdog millionaire. this is one of the most thrilling films i've seen in such a long time. it's not thrilling in the way an action film is thrilling...but it will leave you breathless. and from all the grit and grim that these characters are able to pull themselves up from and push themselves to the most delightful and surprising endings in a film this year.... how can slumdog not win?

yes... there is some backlash. there always is when a film becomes this big so fast. there will be naysayers. but fuck 'em all. slumdog millionaire is the best film of the year and deserves to take home the big prize.

it has won near unanimous praise and continues to rack up every prize in its path... including the PGA (producer's guild).

pair the PGA and DGA win...and slumdog seems the final lock of the evening.

final answer...?

will win: slumdog millionaire
should win: slumdog millionaire

e.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Countdown to the Oscars: Best Director

the nominees for best director are:

david fincher, the curious case of benjamin button
ron howard, frost/nixon
gus van sant, milk
stephen daldry, the reader
danny boyle, slumdog millionaire

this category is pretty open and shut so i'd like to take a moment and note a particular individual who was not nominated in this category. it will make my anonymous poster happy to know i think it was a great shame that christopher nolan was overlooked this year for directing the dark knight. a great shame.

i'd also like to see both daldry and fincher replaced here.... but these are the nominees we have and, therefore, these are the nominees we must analyze.

ummmm.... ya know? who are we kidding.....?

danny boyle will win sunday night for his direction of slumdog millionaire. i'm just not sure i have the energy tonight to really go on and on when the outcome is so obvious.

i should also point out.... i think boyle should win. his direction is fresh and innovative... it's fantastical and yet rooted in a deep reality. it's just a fabulously constructed film.

i'd put gus van sant and then ron howard next.... as i said, i'd leave the other two off the list.

and it's hard to argue any other director when i truly feel boyle deserves it.

i can't even pretend to think that someone else might even possibly upset boyle. it's not gonna happen...

boyle won the DGA (that's the director's guild) and i believe there's about an above 80% chance that the winner of the DGA goes on to win the oscar. that may actually be the percentage for the picture to go on to win after the director wins.... in all honesty, i'd think it was over 90% likely that the winner of the DGA goes on to win the oscar.

and i feel good about it all.... what more is there to say?

will win: danny boyle, slumdog millionaire
should win: danny boyle, slumdog millionaire

e.