Monday, July 27, 2009

And Last Up...Racism? 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 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....


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 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!


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!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


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...?


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. 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'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. 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.


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.