Thursday, July 28, 2005

Disneyland

As I mentioned earlier, my parents are in town, so I'm off to Disneyland this morning. They're here until next Tuesday, so posting might be limited until then. Then again, it might not. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The LAPD

As you may have gathered, my apartment is not in the classiest of neighborhoods. When I tell people where I live, I try to placate people's look of restrained disgust by saying that MacArthur Park is an "up-and-comer" or "it's the new Echo Park," but whether or not that's true -- or heck, whether or not I even "reside" in MacArthur Park -- is debatable. One might call it MacArthur Park-adjacent. One might also call it East Hollywood, but eventually one will surely suffer near exhaustion from trying to gussy up the ghetto-not-even-fabulous-ness of his residence and just call it what it is -- the Rampart District.

So, my parents are in town this week, and were eager to see my new apartment. They were surprisingly impressed with my little studio, even saying it was a step up from my Pittsburgh digs. Those places were huge and cheap, but they're right...they were kinda dumpy. Anyway, after an uneventful visit to apt. 207, I walked the folks back to their car, which was parked up the street. And wouldn't you know it? Some skinny dude in a tank-top and tatoos is handcuffed on the sidewalk and being berated by a uniformed police officer. I'm not kidding...BERATED. The boy in blue is standing behind him yelling in his ear, cursing, even. It's at this point that my concern is divided between anxiety about my non-city-living parents being subjected to this sight one block away from my house, and my concern that perhaps this cop isn't making the best use of his time. As I'm walking away I hear the cop yell, "go back inside!" as he'd apparently attracted an audience.

Oh well, at least we didn't have to dodge a dogshit fight on our way to the car....

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

My friends Matt and Trista and I were just having a conversation this weekend, expressing anxiety that Owen Wilson might've been what made Wes Anderson's first three movies so good, and coincidentally, Slate posts an article by Field Maloney about that very thing. Aside from a silly boat metaphor, the article's pretty thoughtful. Here's a sample:

True, USS Anderson had some nagging tics, and each film seemed more enclosed in the storybook boundaries of Anderson's fantasy world than the one before. After being rescued by Gene Hackman's performance in The Royal Tenenbaums, USS Anderson finally ran aground last winter, with The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Rather than develop as a storyteller, Anderson appeared to have floated off to an adolescent never-never land where everyone wears Lacoste, colorful and quirky toys abound, and a vintage emo soundtrack gets piped in whenever a little poignancy is required—a Michael Jackson ranch for the Salinger set.

The disappointment was widespread, yet the critics at the major papers and the hipster blogs all overlooked one important fact: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou was the first Wes Anderson film in which Owen Wilson didn't share the writing chores. What if Owen Wilson, America's resident goofy roué with the broken nose and the lazy nasal drawl, was the rudder keeping USS Anderson on course, steering its captain away from solipsism and ironic overload?


I think I'm in the minority of people who thought The Life Aquatic was a lot of fun. Of course it's not as good as the first three, but it makes me smile to think of it...and the Portugese David Bowie songs are quite nice. And let's not forget, Anjelica Huston is stunning and has blue streaks in her hair. That alone is enough to sell me on the movie, even if her character is basically Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums fast-forwarded thirty years. Maloney is also a little hard on Royal Tenenbaums. The movie ain't perfect, but it's also pretty damn gorgeous and moving.

Poor Wes. They can't all be Bottle Rocket, can they? It's okay, sweetie; I'll still watch 'em!

Monday night

So I decided to venture west in my pursuit of non-fast fast food and settled on California Chicken Cafe at Melrose near Highland in Hollywood. My friend Ross introduced me to this place a couple of years ago, and commented that its always full of gay men and cops. The cops weren't representing last night, but I think the last time I saw so many middle-aged gay men with trendy hair and big pecs was...well...last weekend, probably. Some kinda gay 12-step or fear-of-intimacy group must've let loose from the church across the street, because a flood of v-framed, butch-but-not-really 40-somethings were all over that place! It was kinda hot, in a weird, cheesy kinda way.

After that I went to Insomnia to write a little, which was rather uneventful. I like that place, but I've always found it just a little cramped and small. I settled in with a decaf at a little table, content to pound away on my laptop at a short play that involves an old lady putting cigarettes in her ear, but I was so close to the guy at the table next to me I could smell his cologne. He was cute too, in a stylishly masculine, almost-metrosexual-but-not-quite-gay-vague sorta way. Dark chinos instead of jeans, a couple days' beard growth.... Hmm.... Alright, so maybe I've been a little hard on Insomnia. See ya next week, you cozy little cafe, you!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sunday matinee

I'm noticing a pattern emerging that involves me posting blind items about plays I've seen that I didn't particularly care for. I'm not sure if it means I'm becoming a softie or I'm just covering my ass (probably both). Actually, I had a little bit of sympathy for the play I saw yesterday, despite the fact that I was also kind of irritated and miserable at its performance -- it's a rather important piece of gay theater and, even though I think the play's at least a half-failure, it's heart is in the right place, and it's of a certain time so I'll cut it some slack. Now I'm guessing just about any of my L.A. readers who know what 99-seat productions are up right now have figured this blind item out; I guess it's my version of Page Six's "Butterscotch Stallion" blind item....

My big beefs with this production were all in the technical categories. This has led me to want to draw up a few notes for directors, lighting designers, and scenic designers everywhere. Granted, I'm only a little playwright, but I see a lot of crap and I've been to school and stuff, so I'm not entirely talking out of turn here.

1) Big, multi-scene plays do NOT need drawing-room furniture and end-tables and doilies for one ten-minute scene. It just has to be cleared off and never used again.

2) If you must dim the lights for a scene change, slow fades are a BAD idea! And don't leave us in the dark for long. Not even ominous music can sustain the momentum a good, tense play depends upon when I'm nodding off in a warm theater on a summer afternoon with the lights low or off altogether.

3) When several scenes occur in the same location over a long period of time, a slow fade to black before starting the next scene is just dumb. Shift the lights, let the actors suggest the passing of time, give a bold sound cue, something -- just get on with it!

Any real success this unnamed, well-intentioned production might've had was sabotaged by these kinds of choices. It made me sad. It also made me sleepy!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sadly, my housesitting gig

ends today. No more TiVo, no more big kitchen with cool cookware, no more AIR CONDITIONING. I will probably not be reporting on quality TV programming like Rockstar: INXS anymore. I know you're all disappointed.

I did, however, watch an episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days yesterday, which was kind of infuriating. I loved and was traumatized by Super-Size Me -- he's like a more attractive, affable, charming, less obnoxious Michael Moore, isn't he? I know the comparison's been made before, but I even like the mustache!

Anyway, this woman on the show decides to teach her partying college girl daughter a lesson by binge-drinking a whopping 4 drinks in two hours for at least 4 days a week for 30 days. Of course the girl's doing that much in a half-hour at 9 in the morning before she goes to class, and she has no problem talking to her mom about it. Of course she does! The show would be way boring if she didn't. Still, she's a little brat, pulling this kind of casual defiance with her mother, almost daring her to try and challenge her. So the healthy housewife and mother made an ass of herself in front of her family and on national TV and her trashy blonde daughter could say nothing but "like, whatever." And every time the woman tries to talk to her daughter about it the girl gives this attitude and the mom just BACKS DOWN. God, I couldn't imagine how my mother would respond.... Unbridaled fury, floods of tears, plagues of locusts, to say the least.

Thank God I don't have cable. I'd be eating this shit with a spoon every single night!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Meryl Streep

onstage? In a play by Charlie Kaufman? Could I be more excited?

Sleater-Kinney

I love them all over again. These women (not girls -- they could show us all a thing or two) have driven me to near obsession once-again with The Woods, which I finally had to rip out of my car's CD player for fear of tiring of it.

But how can I ever tire of my S-K? I think drummer Janet might be my favorite. But then when Carrie does her bratty-sounding vocals I get kinda sweet on her too. And then Corin's caterwaul of a vibratto is like nothing I've ever heard. Someone buy me Arthurfest tickets so I can go see them!

Who'd have thought

I'd have something in common with our next Supreme Court justice? Steven Oxman at Theatre Matters points out a tidbit in a NYTimes article that John Roberts is a fellow You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown alumnus.

I was Schroeder! Twice!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lethem and Chabon

I don't read Gawker as often as I probably should, but I'm glad I stumbled on this. I'll freely admit to loving Lethem and Chabon (especially Chabon) -- who'd have thought I'd enjoy straight guy geek lit so much? Of course, Patricia Storm's comic is eventually going to have to deal with the fact that all of Chabon's major novels are really friggin' gay. Maybe there's a premise here.... How's this? Chabon's a fake superhero and really a lackey for the "homosexual agenda," slipping gay themes into novels with comic book subject matter to make them fit for straight consumption. Somewhere about halfway through the comic we catch him in his tastefully decorated lair, complete with window treatments and suspiciously masculine colors, his body shaking with a Paul Lynde-style laughter as he types up another homo-screed to brainwash unsuspecting breeders into listening to Rufus Wainwright and agreeing to let their girlfriends schedule them manicures. Lethem can then swoop in and rip off his mask to reveal his true identity as Super Santorum (his super suit would be a handsome brown, naturally), and make the world safe for heterocentrics everywhere! The end!

The LATimes on being anti-hip

I'm guessing if the LATimes is writing about it, this whole trend has come full-circle and the anti-hipsters have been folded into the hipsters all over again. I mean, come on, unhip is so OBVIOUS. It's over, dead, deader than (punk) disco, kids. Heck, even the article acknowledges this:

Unlike the beatnik '50s, when discovering some gem of cultural arcana involved real detective work, today getting hip to the latest blog or indie rock band is as easy as logging on to the Internet. "We're in a post-hip era, which means everybody's hip," says Leland. "I can't tell you how many churches I've been in where the pastor has a goatee, tattoos and earrings."

So if everybody's hip, then let's be unhip, and indeed, what a very hip idea.


See what I mean? But wait, The LATimes can't be that cutting edge. Does this mean we've gone from hip to unhip to hip and back to unhip again? I'm so confused now. I need to get some affirmation. I know; I'll take refuge by seeking out someplace so hip it doesn't care that it's anti-hip which makes it unhip to be hipper-than-thou but is still effortlessly hip in a non-threateningly unhip hip kinda way. How about Spaceland? Wait, too obvious.... The Echo? No...it's at least two years old now. Little Joy? Well, the whole PBT, using-2-liter-bottled-soda-for-mixers-thing is close, but it's a tad-self-consciously shithole to be truly hip for the ages. Where else, The Smell? I think I need a nap.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I never blogged the weekend

And it was super busy. I'm using the word "super" to excess today. I don't know where that came from.

FRIDAY -- THE POSSESSION OF MRS. JONES

My friend Corinne Dekker was the perfect 50s Mrs. Jones, wearing a June Cleaver blue dress and licking out the insides of her Valium bottle. I loved it when Jesus kept popping out of the washer, and when Corinne/Mrs. Jones wrecked the kitchen. And the band was hot.

A few of us checked out the new bar in WeHo called icandy afterwards, which is kinda Abbey-style cheesy-chic-and-trendy. I didn't have a cocktail, but I'm guessing they're overpriced. And I swear, there was a paint treatment on the walls I saw on Trading Spaces. I did like the turquoise tile, though.

SATURDAY -- GERSHWIN AT THE BOWL

Great fun, although Lullaby, the second piece the L.A. Phil did, is aptly titled. And my Audra McDonald sang a "Summertime" that managed to be elegant, precise, and smoooooth, all at the same time. I just wish she'd done "I Loves You Porgy!"

SUNDAY --

Well, Sunday -- I told you about the Outfest movie already, didn't I? Lots of photos, interviews, and fascinating history.

And then I saw this play.... It was...well...let's just say it was energetic. We'll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading!

Rockstar: INXS

I'm housesitting for a couple who has TiVo, so I recorded this show while I was at the movie last night just for kicks. I'll admit to basically fast-forwarding through the thing, but is it just me or do all these Mark Burnett shows look the same? The interviews, the montages, the editing, the music...it looks just like Survivor, and I haven't watched that show since its second season. And I kinda wanted to steal the voice box of that woman who was butchering "The One I Love." Here's a little tip to ya, oh butcherer of repetitive-yet-somehow-haunting-chorus-free-"remember-when-we-didn't-suck?" REM songs: Stop saying "I'm not feeling it!" Just say "I don't like it because it's the kinda song that won't let me slide around the notes and growl and sound slutty like I want to!"

But the chick doing Black Sabbath...very cool.

The Dying Gaul

closed Outfest last night at the Orpheum downtown, and I was pleased to use my Goldstar Events to get discounted tickets for it. Unfortunately I only made it to one other Outfest movie, but it's probably for the best; badly-written-DV-shot-gay-takes-on-genre-formulas usually do nothing but depress me. Am I generalizing? Okay, maybe the foreign ones are worth checking out.

The one other Outfest movie I did see is Gay Sex in the 70s, which was really interesting, although it should've been called Gay Sex in New York in the 70s. This also led me to consider sticking with the documentaries at Outfest to avoid said badly-written-DV-shot-gay-takes-on-genre-formulas.

The Dying Gaul, however, is neither genre nor docu, and has much to recommend, being written and directed by Craig Lucas, and starring the super-stunning actors Campbell Scott (he just gets better and handsomer in every movie, doesn't he?), Peter Sarsgaard (ditto, minus Garden State -- he was good in that one, but he looked a little rough...in a character-appropriate way, of course), and the also super-stunning and insanely good Patricia Clarkson, whose performance seems more surprising the more I think about it.

I only wish the movie worked! It's almost entirely involving and intelligent, but it's also chock full of red herrings, confusing plot twists, neglected details, and unclear and unlikely outcomes. It's a really dark and nasty movie, which I would go along with a lot better if it finally made sense. It just doesn't, though. The sound in the Orpheum was bad, too, or at least it was in the mezzanine where I was sitting. Maybe some of the answers to the questions I have about the script can be found in the dialogue I couldn't hear or understand. I'd love to get my hands on the play so I can see if it works any better in that form; I can't seem to find any reviews of the Vineyard production online.

Still, the screening was pretty exciting for Craig Lucas' appearance and introduction; he's as funny as I'd expect him to be.

Now, just give me that cast in a movie that works! Or give it to me for War And Jim!! Glorious!

I've been thinking about Gus Van Sant

because of how Me and You and Everyone We Know reminded me in a strange way of Elephant, and also because Peter Sarsgaard mentions him in the new Campbell Scott/Craig Lucas movie The Dying Gaul, which I saw last night at the closing night of Outfest. More about that in a bit....

I found this interview with Van Sant by David Edelstein, in the Sunday NYTimes. I can't wait for his treatment of Kurt Cobain's last days with Last Days, which opens at the Laemmle 5 this Friday, and I was tickled by a quote from Van Sant in his conversations with Damon and Casey Affleck about their collaboration on Gerry:

It's hard to imagine anyone more comfortable than Mr. Van Sant with his present artistic course. He looked so serene, even in the face of viewer confusion. He told a story about "Gerry," a film whose narrative arc was difficult to discern, even for its stars, Mr. Damon and Mr. Affleck.

"I had to talk Matt and Casey into signing off," he said. "Because they were, like, 'Let's go back and shoot more stuff.' That was their reaction to watching the movie. And I said, 'Well, we could.' And Casey said, 'Maybe next Tuesday?' And I said: 'We could. I'm not sure. I really like it.' And Matt said, 'You mean you're fine with the movie like this?' And I said: 'Yeah. I think I really like it a lot.' And he said, 'Oh.' And Matt and Casey looked at each other and said, 'Huh.' And then they said, 'Hmmm.' They said, 'So we're not telling anybody what happened?' And I said, 'Yeah, but that's great.' Fortunately, I had people who were on my side. Because Casey and Matt, they wanted to make sure that the movie wasn't insane. Which it kind of is."

Monday, July 18, 2005

BESTCOMMENTEVER

I predict that this will go down in Frank's Wild Lunch history as the best comment ever offered on this blog. It has seriously made my day. Read it readit readit!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Me and You and Everyone we Know

I had a nice IM discussion with someone about the movie and I wanted to post it in its entirety, but, unlike my last post, decided to be courteous and ask if I could use our conversation on my website before actually posting it. My request was turned down, so I'm just going to post a fragment of my own writing of said conversation. Mainly because I want to post some of my thoughts about the film, but it's Friday and I'm feeling a little tapped out....

The thing I loved the most about it was that it was so much the work of a visual artist. All the symbolic elements, the way they complement each other. That and the line, "fuck peace." That's funny.

Okay, now that I've pasted that in (I'm a regular little Robby, aren't I? ))<>((...), I've gotten a burst of energy and I want to elaborate. I continue to be fascinated by the way she uses imagery, and specifically written text -- and the very act of writing and typing -- to reinforce her film's major themes. There's a moment towards the end of the movie when her main characters are hanging a framed picture of a bird in a tree (an interesting bookend to the film, by the way) and we see in the background the written messages another character has taped to his window as messages to two young girls, and what she was doing came into pretty tight focus for me. Not just the strong implications of these actions, but the use of symbol, language, or object to communicate meaning directly, and the compiling of these elements to intensify and deepen the film's meaning. July's thematic interest is certainly not oblique -- it's obviously investigating the ways we distance ourselves from others -- but if it were just a simple narrative about this, it would be far less rich or resonant. It's her use of imagery to uncover the myriad ways we frame our experiences, distance ourselves from others, and generally protect ourselves from life that makes the movie such a treat. We could use more of this in our movies, I think. The only other filmmaker that comes to mind who does it is Gus Van Sant (specifically in Elephant).

My only quibble is that her dialogue is occasionally a little too dreamy and maudlin for me. It's also quite often very funny. Sometimes it manages to be both of those at the same time. And the bj scene freaked me out a little. Still, go see it; little Brandon is precious!

Mortified

So my friend Rob emailed me today with this observation:

I just noticed on your blog that, ironically - given your grammatical precision and attention to detail - that the y is missing from 'playwright' in your 'about me' section.

Mortified. Granted, y'all may not often see the precision to which Rob is referring in your reading of these pages, but to have a major spelling error in my PROFILE since last December.... Well let me just say that I am just mortified. MORTIFIED, people. Why didn't you tell me?

Oh well, it took Rob this long to notice, maybe none of the rest of you noticed either. Until now, I guess.

Miranda July's blog

My friend Brandy told me to try to find this after we got out of her movie, Me and You and Everyone We Know, last night. I have a feeling I'm going to be reading it for a while. More on the movie later; let's just say that I want little Brandon Ratcliff to be in every other movie I see for the rest of the year, cast alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Heath Ledger, and Audra McDonald. I know Audra's not a film actor, but one can hope.

This leads me to inspiration; maybe I'll write the script for these people, imagining them as my ideal cast. It can be a continuing project, growing in length and breadth with each new performer who gives what I find to be a delightful performance. Maybe it can be a multi-play cycle, a'la the other playwright named Wilson, but less righteous and wordy...and more whimsical and self-indulgent. Sounds delicious. I better get started!

The new season at the Kirk Douglas

has been announced. The article is here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ron Athey at the REDCAT

We all know how much I adore the REDCAT, right? Well I'm starting to wish I'd tried to go to The Judas Cradle there last night -- I was hoping to get discount tickets for later in the run, but I've got stuff going on every other night this weekend. Oh well, I probably wouldn't have gotten in if I'd tried, from the sounds of this article on LAist. Blogger Adrienne Crew couldn't get in, but hung around for the after-party hosted by Vaginal Davis in the very cool REDCAT Lounge, which is open to the public and stays open after the shows. A sample from Crew's liveblogging is below:

10:45 Things are getting very "Story of O" now as Ms. Davis returns to the stage with 2 dozen nearly naked young people, organized in 2 rows. The hostess encourages party goers to walk a gauntlet of flesh as she tells us "you can look, but you can't touch, unless they want you to. So feel free to fondle them, enjoy them." Some party goers complied and groped a few of the fellas. As one uninhibited guest ran his hands over the chest of a glistening black buck, Ms Davis exclaimed "Of course, you go for the black one. I knew you were a dinge queen." And the party goers obeyed while a multi-media slide show of various celebrities cavorted on a screen at one end of the Red Cat foyer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Choire Sicha on Harold's End

I was reminded about how much I enjoy reading Mr. Sicha when I found his review in the Washington Post Book World. Sicha calls the writing "a concise helping of large-print gloom-candy." Here's a larger quote:

Oliver, with Harold, is returned to his dirty corner and reunited with his street friends, youngsters whose names -- Crayon, Gotti, Serenity -- wouldn't look out of place in an S.E. Hinton book. But Harold's thin shell, it turns out, isn't tough enough for street life. Oh golly: metaphor.

Illustrated by the Australian artist Cherry Hood's gothed-up Margaret Keane-like watercolors of the book's characters, Harold's End is dedicated to Harold (and to "all the inadvertent losses") and very briefly introduced by the novelist/personality Dave Eggers (140 words, minus titles and proper names). It closes with an unseemly oddity: a round of applause by the editor, Michael Ray, and four pages of sweet thanks from the author.

J.T. LeRoy is a

fraud. That was the subject line of an email I sent to my friend Kevin in New York yesterday. I just finished Harold's End, which I basically bought because the volume is small and pretty and has some nice watercolors by Cherry Hood.

I've been suspicious of this guy from the get-go, but I've also been curious, so I decided to read the thing anyway. What I got was a short story in 14-point font about a junkie who gets a little nurturing and a pet snail from a guy in exchange for an ill-fated attempt at some hot scat action. That's right. Scat. Enemas, plastic tarps on the floor, Ziplocs on the door knobs, the whole thing.

Not that I'm necessarily mortified by short stories about such subject matter, but it just didn't amount to much. Drugs, a little shit imagery, and a drugged out homeless kid wanting to take care of a pet snail? When I finished, I turned the page, ready for the next section, and I got this big afterward instead by LeRoy-Lover (and his editor...nice) Michael Ray about how great the work was and all I could think was, "that's it? That's all I get? I paid 20 bucks for this thing and all I get is this slight little bit of provocative transgressive melodrama that neither shocks nor moves me one iota; thanks J.T. At least the watercolors are pretty. Maybe I should've started with The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

But I digress. What I was going to share with you is my email to my friend Kevin, which I composed upon finishing the paragraph in the book that prompted my turning on it. Again, the email began with the statement "J.T. LeRoy is a fraud." You may continue.

"Or he just plain sucks. Or both. I can't decide.
I'm reading this totally unremarkable HAROLD'S END and
I came across this passage at the beginning of a
paragraph about our junkie protagonist in a panic
because he's lost his pet snail:

I scan the topography of the garbage, inspecting too
quickly. I can't quiet my eyes to decelerate. I
reach in; I carefully lift out. Piece-by-piece I
examine. I slow down my breathing to steady my hand.
But it's as if I culled the underpinning of a
scaffold; there is a rolling boil as the trash slips
down into itself deeper.


Okay, for starters, the narrator is a teenage junkie
street kid who is barely even multisyllabic in his
speech. How does he have the capacity to compare a
trash bin to the underpinning of a scaffold? And 'I
can't quiet my eyes to decelerate'? What kinda
lame-ass sentence is that?

This is so going on my blog tomorrow."

Granted, some of the more poetic, metaphoric speech in the narration of Harold's End does work, but it's because it has a blunt simplicity in its poetry. It feels both artful and right for the character. That mess I typed above is not doing it for me. And wouldn't it be nicer to say "the trash slips down deeper into itself?" You could even lose the word "down" and just say "the trash slips deeper into itself." Not trying to be Dale Peck or anything. I'm just saying....

A couple uh new blogs

Actually, one's not really a blog, but the website of writer and co-executive producer of Six Feet Under, Jill Solloway. Her site is loads of fun and she links to the story I've heard about for the past three years but never got a chance to read until today, "Courtney Cox's Asshole." She seems quite charming...so much so that I'll forgive her for that episode where David smokes crack.

I was turned on to Jill's site by Tiffany Stone, who blogs at Breakfast At Tiffany's and, among other things, she reports from an insider at Fox that the writer's staff For Arrested Development has been completely replaced. I hope they don't muck the show up.

Of course, Tiffany was linked to on www.gaspjournal.com, which I discovered on Sheila Callaghan's blog. The link of gaspjournal had been posted on Sheila's blog by Dan from Venal Scene. This internet is some wacky stuff.

Oh, and thanks again for the link, Sheila. My stats went up by about 220% that day!

And yes, it's true. I'm obsessed with my stats. You knew it was only a matter of time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Getty Update

Tyler Green blogs about it in his Modern Art Notes, quoting heavily from an LA Business Journal article by Mark Lacter. Lacter writes:

Barry Munitz might or might not be the best thing that's ever happened to the place -- the job description is so broad it would be hard for an outside to tell -- but his spending habits and perks are more than a little out of whack. So is his judgment. And the Getty board, like so many corporate boards, goes along with the excesses -- perhaps out of fear or perhaps just resignation that even in an age of Sarbanes-Oxley, it's the way their world works.

That's probably why they haven't said much about the Times story. That's probably why they haven't said much about the Grassley comments. Just grumble in a few discreet places and hope that the questions will fade away.


Tyler's not buying it though. Read the whole post here.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A different perspective on

Margo Jefferson can be found here. He makes some good points; I just like her when she's nice to young and unknown playwrights, but what do I know?

Oh, and FYI, Ms. Jefferson is NOT coming to the LAT, per Rob Kendt. Hopefully they'll find somebody else who is supportive of us newbies. Heh, I speak as if I have theater to be reviewed or something, he thought to himself, sighing. Somehow.... Somewhere.... Some... Day....

The one thing I know for certain is...I would happily see that Fatal Attraction -- A Greek Tragedy, with or without Corey Feldman. If only for the Glenn Close wig in the press pic.

Blogger's Remorse

Ever since I disrespected Mr. Rogers and Mr. Hammerstein in my last post, I've had "Do-Rei-Mi" and "How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?" on a loop in my head. It has led me to feel both a) like maybe my judgment was a bit hasty, and b) as if torrents of supernatural vengeance are raining down on me in the form of the inescapably catchy showtune.

Therefore, I would like to apologize for suggesting that R&H aren't the giants of musical theater that they really are. I really really really like their shows and don't think they're corny and worn out.

Especially the musical about wife-beating. That thing's a hoot.

There, are you satisfied, ye angry Gods of chaste-family-friendly-movie-musicals? Now leave me be!

Hollywood Bowl weekend

That's right, I was at the Bowl ALL WEEKEND. Kind of exhausting, but also very fun. A few highlights.

FRIDAY -- Sondheim's 75th Birthday

Could Audra McDonald be cast in everything I see onstage for the immediate future? And how is a song as cheery and cheesy as "Something's Coming" so damn good? Elaine Stritch, I'm certain you're insane, but how can I not love you? And settle down, ladies; I know it's Streisand, but the best she's gonna do is an off-key "Happy Birthday."

SATURDAY -- Sing-Along-A-Sound-of-Music

I know it was only billed as Sing-Along-Sound-of-Music, but I'm adding the "A." Seems more fun that way. Sorry folks, but that movie is boring. And that music ain't Sondheim. But I do like the "Something Good" song. Still a fun night, though, and I even had a fancy box with some friends.

SUNDAY -- Third Act of Twilight of the Gods

Back in the cheap seats for this one, and nothing kills an evening of Wagner in concert more than a 20-minute description of the events of The Ring Cycle by John Mauceri. I was already napping and the music hadn't even started yet?! Not a good sign. Still, it was a fun show, once it actually started, with nice projections and lighting and pyrotechnics.

Back next Monday with a recap of the Gershwin evening with...YAY...AUDRA MCDONALD!! She's so pretty and good!

Looks like the exclamation points are back, folks. Sorry....

Friday, July 08, 2005

Antony and the Johnsons

are at the Vista in Silver Lake on September 22! Tickets on sale tomorrow! First New Pornographers, now Antony?! September's going to be a good month, my friends.

More on Adam Bock

I just found this interview with him in today's NYTimes. This guy tickles me. Here's a description about a play he's working on.

I am going out to Oregon to work on a play called "The Thugs." Seven temps work on the ninth floor of a 50-story high-rise and they hear there might be someone killing people in the building. Should they quit? No one tells them anything because they're temps.

So true, Adam. So true. Here's a little more that might be of interest.

Q. Your work has appeared at the Humana Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in regional theaters. Is there a set circuit that a new playwright has to follow?

A. I've worked in smaller theaters. You work in smaller theaters and people get to know you. I'm known in San Fran theater, in time you go to bigger theaters. Second Stage was a good, big jump for me. There's sort of a path, but not really. You make your own.

Q. So is it possible to make a living as a full-time playwright?

A. Sometimes it is. That's how I learned about temps. I started proofreading, which is fun. I've been a waiter. I've been an assistant to the principal of a typography firm in San Francisco. For the last eight months or so I've managed to work only as a playwright.

Jordan Harrison's Drag Play

I read a play by this guy called Finn in the Underworld that was kinda dirty and creepy and weird, so of course I loved it. I found this article about a play he's doing for the Fresh Ink Festival in Minneapolis. Sounds like a lot of fun. I'll post a little piece below. The article is here.

..."Act a Lady"...runs this weekend at Illusion Theater's Fresh Ink Series, the annual festival that gives full productions to new plays. Harrison had found photographs of a pageant/play that was produced in Lanesboro in 1927 and then again in 1953. Called "The Womanless Wedding," it was just that. Men played all the parts. The photos, copies of which Harrison showed in the Illusion rehearsal hall the other day, depict local men, some big-boned and right off the farm, dolled up in women's clothes, shoes and makeup....

Harrison wondered about what was going through the minds of these men as they got dressed up to take the stage.

"It is the permission to explore gender," he said....

"The costumes aren't superficial in this play," Harrison said. "On the first day of rehearsal, we were reading and [actor] Brian Goranson said, 'I think I need to have high heels on right now.' "

Overheard Lines

I found a new blog that's pretty fun. Plus he links to me, so I'm sharing the love a little. I'll put it in my favorites as well.

Well-Read Guy In Bookstore

"Look, the world's leaders know when the world's gonna end. They're using up all the resources, then they're outta here on rockets developed by the Nazis..... You need to read more."

In case you didn't read

the comments down a couple of posts, Ms. Margo Jefferson has a big article in today's times. This is clearly a sign of some kind of untapped power that I have. Perhaps a kind of communal, seance-like energy I create with my bloggers that stimulates positive change. I need to start channeling this more often. I think I'll start now!

"You know, I've really been missing that flood of letters, emails, and job offers about my writing. Where are they? Anybody know?"

"This office job...it really isn't doing anything for me. I was wondering...."

"There's this dent in my fender, and the whole saving-to-fix-it thing isn't going as fast as I'd like it. Let's work on that, shall we?"

"I've always wanted a little definition...some toning in the midsection, perhaps. Thoughts?"

"Why is Bush still in office? Can that change please?"

Thanks everybody!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I love and miss

London dearly, having had a life-changing formative experience studying abroad there during my junior year in college. That some sheltered kid from Arkansas could walk up to a West-End box office thirty minutes before curtain and get a 10-pound, 2nd-row seat to see Maggie Smith, Diana Rigg, David Suchet, and countless others whose names might not be recognizable but who are just as kick-ass, that said kid could go to a pub in some East End neighborhood for a stout, a 5-pound ticket, and a lunchtime performance of Pinter that rivaled some of the best stuff he's ever seen since, that he could be exposed to the aforementioned Pinter, Shepard ("Mr. Shepard, I'm from ARKANSAS!") Albee, McDonaugh, Webster, Hare, Wilde, Mamet, Chekhov, Bennett, Strindberg, McPherson, not to mention Kurt Weil, Beck, Suzanne Vega, Miss Polly Jean Harvey, and three marvelously British professors who loved going out for pints with their students...well, the mind still reels. I can't wait to get back and do it all over again.

What's happened to Margo Jefferson?

I did an NYTimes search for her writing, and it looks like she's been writing, but I miss her theater reviews! Unlike some active critics, she has expressed a generosity in the past towards plays she found to be imperfect that I really appreciated. Here's a quote I found from her 2004 review of hotshot Will Eno's The Flu Season.

[T]he play is alive and unpredictable. Don't look for perfection in the work of talented young playwrights. Look for a love of language. Look for characters who long to have their voices heard and their actions witnessed. Look for intimations of a larger world.

Love her!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Poor Lil' Kim!

She's doing more time than Martha? Where is the justice in that?

Rob Kendt's blog

has done a little of my work for me this morning. The Wicked Stage has linked to two good articles today that might be of interest -- one about a new theater company run by local playwright Justin Tanner, and one from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, of all places, about what a theater town L.A. is. Thanks Rob!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Am My Own Wife

An exciting evening was had on Saturday, as I got to see Mr. Jefferson Mays in last year's Pulitzer winner at The Geffen. Good stuff; I loved the miniatures and the military guy voice the best. As much as I liked it, I didn't get why a new costume was needed at the top of act 2, and I'm still not sure why the story had to be told by one actor. Mays was great and the conceit worked well enough, but was there a larger intention at work there? Was it about identity? Or did he just think it would be more fun this way? Anyone have any thoughts about this?

UPDATE: Okay, thoughts are still welcome, but I did find this interview from Playbill Online, which might yield some clues about how the play took the shape it did. I'm posting a couple of quotes below.

PBOL: There was a time when this was a pile of interview transcripts. You were stymied. You didn't know if it was a play.
DW: Yes, I didn't. In fact, it was the tireless collaboration of Moisés Kaufman and Jefferson Mays that coaxed the play out of me, and I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't say that three dramatists have been awarded the Pulitzer this year, because the two of them were absolutely indispensable to the evolution of this play.

PBOL: The script grew out of "theatre games," at Sundance Theatre Lab, wasn't it?
DW: It was. Moisés said, "You've got this giant stack of raw material, you want it to become a play, you're completely blocked, so let's get rough and crazy and let's start to create a few theatre games based on the material." We did, and suddenly he got me to think about its theatrical possibilities in a radically new way. Had Jefferson and Moisés not interceded, I don't think there would be a play.


PBOL: Were there other exercises, or did your collaborators start you off and running and you conjured your own ideas?
DW: Those were primarily the [exercises ] I required. As I wrote the play, I realized it would be more than just about Charlotte — I was composing a symphony for a true virtuoso, and that was Jefferson. There'd be crazy rehearsals where I'd say, "How many accents can you do?" And he'd run through about 12 accents, and I'd say, "All right, let's do an international press conference and have you play all of those people." His extraordinary facility as an actor was also a very reliable muse.

Draft 2 is complete!

Hopefully by draft three I'll have the 2nd act of Customary Monsters figured out. It's closer, but I was also rushing a bit so I could make the 8:10 screening of Batman Begins. I was pretty involved until I realized it was just an Al Qaida allegory, and that made me a little tired. Still, it was fun enough, but couldn't they have just poured arsenic in the water and been done with it?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Santa Monica and Vine

On Friday night JW and I were early to the Lillian Theater to see Murray Mednick's GIRL ON A BED (gorgeous production, by the way -- mixed feelings about the play, but it was beautifully staged and well-acted), so we decided to walk to the nearby Three of Clubs for a drink. On our way we crossed paths with three large black queens (and no, I'm not writing a Hollywood ZOO STORY) and a scrawny little mustachioed white guy. Now I tend to be polite to strangers, as my southern upbringing would dictate, and when I come across men over six feet tall wearing women's clothes and Tina Turner wigs, I tend to over-compensate for my startled state with perhaps a bit too much friendliness. I would hate to make the queens feel insecure for being who they are, right? Want to be open, right? Welcoming, right? We're here, we're queer, and all that, right? So between my southern politeness and my desire to wrap up all gender-benders in a great big hug, I offer just the faintest self-conscious smile to the trio of queens and their scrawny white mustachioed companion as they pass us on the sidewalk. Upon receiving this gesture, mustache mutters a quiet "faggot," and they all go on their way.

You can imagine my confusion about being called a faggot by a guy who just let an enormous man in a wig and pumps light his cigarette. As JW and I are discussing the matter afterwards, he refers to the guy as their pimp, and I have to say that thought hadn't crossed my mind at all. I felt like a rube...an innocent, small-town southern rube who got trained to offer a smile to strangers as you pass on the sidewalk and did it blindly, unthinking of how to appropriately apply such training to an L.A. world of tranny hookers and their unfriendly pimps. So now the whole thing takes on a new context -- the heels, garish make-up, the faded denim mini-skirts. And just to digress for a moment, do all prostitutes, female and she-male alike, own a faded denim mini-skirt? Is it standard issue?

Over beers at Three of Clubs I admitted to JW that I smiled at them as we passed and he said, "sometimes you just avert your eyes." Now I ask you, how sad a world do we live in when a couple of gay men can't walk down the street and smile at she-male hookers and their pimps without getting called names?!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Too Hollywood

I've always wanted to check out the 101 Coffee Shop on Franklin in the Hollywood Hills, and decided to go see if I could get some work done there. When I got there I realized it's more of a diner place and not good for camping out; if I'd gotten out the laptop I'd have been the only one in the room doing so; luckily I had some reading I could do. Unluckily I sat in a booth next to a party discussing Stephen Spielberg's ouevre and the evolution of Tom Hanks' acting career. WHY do I always find the table right next to this guy? He referred to Spielberg's early films as his "Salad days," and declared that JURASSIC PARK was "probably his best film." My reaction to this kind of unavoidable eavesdropping is a mixture of bemused dismissal and, "JURASSIC PARK? Are you kidding me? Geez, have you ever heard of a movie called E.T., dumbass? How about CLOSE ENCOUNTERS? JAWS maybe? Oh that's right -- his salad days...right, during his salad days he made three groundbreaking movies that changed the face of the movie industry.... Oh come on, don't give me SCHINDLER'S LIST! Could you be more obvious? And besides, is it color? Is it black-and-white? WTF? (and yes, I would actually SAY 'WTF?' and not 'what the fuck?') And post-MAZES AND MONSTERS, does Tom Hanks even matter? Yeah yeah, BIG, PHILADELPHIA, sure, but other than that, does anyone really care?"

Anyway, this was the barrage of vitriol I imagined myself berating him with before sending my fork end over end into the booth's vinyl, mere inches from the movie geek's neck. Kind of the Tarantino verison of the Marshall McLuhan scene in ANNIE HALL. But that's pre-KILL BILL QT. That KILL BILL crap sucks.