Monday, October 31, 2005

Bwah-ha-hah

Happy Halloween. I'm going to a party tonight. I was thinking back on my L.A. Halloween experiences, thought I'd share....

2002 -- In town for almost two months, working horrid temp job with hours of 6am-3pm, Halloween is on a weekday, know nothing of the WeHo madness, friends Matt and Trista invite me to join with other friends for a night out on Santa Monica Blvd., wear female friend's Reservist uniform which makes me look kinda hot (it's unisexy), subject of much welcome crusiness, excess of cologne close quarters, and general sensory overload, don't get in bed until 1am, must wake up at 5 for stupid hateful worst temp job ever.

2003 -- Rainy Friday night, depressy and anti-Halloween. Long story. Attend screening of Die! Mommie! Die! with Rob to distract myself. Helps a little, not much. Off to party with friends the next day, looking for more distraction. Find it and then some. Must dispose of muddy shoes after ill-advised post-party excursion into the wilds of the Silver Lake Hills to enjoy the view(s). Distraction is only momentary, depressy returns. Again, long story.

2004 -- Much better spirits, but not liking the WeHo thing so much. Sit in car with JW waiting to park in Pacific Design Center parking garage, then shoulder to shoulder in the center of Santa Monica Blvd., where we inexplicably run into just about everyone we hope to meet up with, plus a few extra. Fun, but crowded. Have the bright idea that we can just waltz in the front door of Trunks for a drink, are laughed at by the bouncer, decide to ditch, take another 45 minutes to get to car, settle in at El Carmen on 3rd Street where we were greeted by drag queen spillover in the back.

And that gets you all up to date on my L.A. Halloween history. Maybe next year I'll reach back a little further and tell you about the time my mother made a Smurf costume from a pattern for me because I wanted it so badly and I spent the whole kindergarten costume parade crying because I thought people were laughing at me. My poor mother.
Looking back, I could've been cutting-room floor material for the classroom scene of Annie Hall:
BOY IN SMURF COSTUME stands, says to camera:

BOY IN SMURF COSTUME
First I'm a college closet-case, then I'm a grad-school
coming-out emotional trainwreck.
(beat.)
Then I'm a gay secretary.

A week or two ago

I tried to distract myself from dwelling on something that was bugging me by cracking open a couple of beers and pounding out a 10-minute play. So I took another look at it and, while I like the sentiment of it, I do think it's a little silly. Funny silly, but still.... Did that keep me from sending it off to a contest? NOOOOOOOO.

The Getty makes me tired

I can't keep up anymore. Y'all will have to fend for yourselves. Too many stories. BM stacking "evaluation board" with FOBMs, LATimes articles, pissed off italians, you name it. Tyler's here; there are about three or four relevant posts. Just scroll down.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mr. Sulu is OUT!

Yea, congrats George Takei! This almost makes me want to see the East West Players production of Equus in which he's starring. Waiting for the reviews on that one, though. Too much to see and too little time....

All celebrations aside, I do think it's kind of cute that Mr. Sulu came out while doing publicity for his play in Frontiers. Sell those tickets, Mr. Sulu; get the WeHo boys in the seats!

Never mind

The space fell through, so the reading's up in the air. Hopefully we'll work something else out. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Someone tried a pick-up line

on me last night. Or something resembling a pick-up line. Anyway, all I have to say is it's about friggin time!

A couple of friends of mine from my church choir and I went to The Abbey after rehearsal for drinks -- that's right, my church friends and I go out to gay bars together...God lets us -- and some guy comes up to me and sticks out his cigarette-free hand like I'm an old friend.

SOME GUY
Bill, Hey!

ME
I'm Kyle.

SOME GUY
Oh, I'm sorry! I thought you were...I thought I, uhm, knew you from school, or....

ME
Nope, sorry.

SOME GUY
Oh, well I'm Some Guy, and that's my friend, Some Faghag over there, and we just took our LSATs so we're out celebrating.

ME
Congratulations.

(Pause. ME tries to hide annoyance. Fails.)

SOME GUY
So what are you guys celebrating?

ME
We're just having a drink.

SOME GUY
Oh...great!

(Pause. ME considers turning back to SOME GUY. Doesn't want to be rude.)

SOME GUY (cont'd)
Well we'll be over there celebrating if you want to talk some more!

Now I may have been irritated at the time, but in retrospect, the whole thing was so novel to me. I don't recall anyone ever trying some kind of maneuvering in order to talk to strike up a convo. Usually all I've ever gotten was a "hi." Or a leer. Or a wandering hand. It's almost sweet!

New blogs in my links section

I've already told you about Anikatweaka, but she's official now. And I've been lurking around playwright Hikaru Freeman's blog for months now, but I'm just now getting around to adding his link. He's in the playwright pages section. Check them both out!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

She Stoops to Comedy at Evidence Room

There were times during this play by David Greenspan when I was thinking to myself, "this is the type of theater you should be writing, Kyle!" And then there were times when I was confused. Still, it was definitely an inspired, often seriously funny, occasionally brilliant piece of work....

I guess I could've done worse for 10 bucks on a Sunday evening, right?

Shannon Holt was in it, and I always get so happy when I see her in stuff. I was thinking about this funny moment when JW and I settled into our seats and all the actors were onstage doing that whole "Look, the show hasn't started and we're already onstage! Isn't that wild?!" thing.... Except the way they were doing it, everybody was so nonchalant it didn't even seem like that bold of a choice. It wasn't like "We are the actors and we are here and don't you dare talk to your neighbors because the play has begun even though it hasn't!" But more like, "Hey, what's up? You're going to see us act in a play in a few minutes. Don't mind us; we're just hanging out."

This is exactly why I felt comfortable enough to turn to JW and say, "Oh, that actress I like so much is in it!" I was, of course, referring to Shannon Holt.

JW responded with, "which one?"

"The one closest to us. She was in Girl on a Bed, remember?"

Now looking back, I have no idea how loudly I said this. I'd like to think I was whispering, but again, they were just hanging out; I would not have put it past myself to say all this in a normal tone of voice. And Evidence Room isn't the smallest house in L.A., but it's not big, that's for sure. Thank goodness it wasn't an ex-boyfriend up there I was talking about.

Yeah right, like I'd date actors.

JOKE. HA-HA! Love actors! Love em! Lots!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

New Getty news

Tyler's got it all here. Too many links...still haven't read them all....

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sarah Ruhl on NPR

There was a really nice profile of Sarah Ruhl by Susan Stamberg on Morning Edition today. It made me wish I'd made the trip to Costa Mesa to see The Clean House at SCR. A link to the website, which has the audio as well as some pictures of productions, is here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Noah's Arc

Last night was my last night of TiVo and a big house to stomp around in, and I celebrated it by, you guessed it, watching more TV. The remote control lingered on Logo, and luckily, the new gay channel had decided to run something other than Angels In America or The Birdcage when I was ready to watch. Attention Logo! While I'm far too lazy and/or chickenshit to aggressively pursue a film or television career, I'm certainly available for all your schlocky gay-TV needs. Thanks.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the business of talking trash about their groundbreaking, controversial new soap opera about black gay Angelenos, Noah's Arc (get it? Arc, like character arc...you see, Noah's a screenwriter, and...zzz). I'm not sure why it's controversial anymore than any other gay show would be, based on what I saw. I did read on a blog somewhere that the Nation of Islam tried to keep the show from airing and delayed its premiere. Who knew those folks had such pull?

I really tried to watch this show. Actually, I saw the climax first, and then tried the beginning afterwards, as they were running the premiere twice in a row.

So what I saw of the show I didn't mind so much, I guess...a couple of the guys are hot enough, and the lead seems endearing.

Problem is, the lead wears a scarf. Not a wool scarf knotted casually under a trendy overcoat -- the show is set in L.A., so that would be less than appropriate. So no, not a wool scarf, but A SILK SCARF, knotted around his neck, protruding ever so dandily from his slim-cut denim jacket. It's just this kind of detail that will make me turn on a show...like a bad child actor or too many extras in the background of a hospital show. Do gay men under 60 wear silk scarves?? If they do, can we make them stop, please?

Other than the scarf, the only other big problems are the acting and the writing. Just little things. Hopefully the actors will find their way and the show will graduate from social message dialogue like "monogamy isn't a four-letter word, you know."

So like I say, I tried, but I just couldn't commit to TV monogamy with Noah's Arc. So I surfed on over to the far higher-brow delights of America's Next Top Model!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Recommended!

Here's what the LA Weekly says about my friend Ernessa T. Carter in its recommended review of her collection of short plays at Edgefest, Grown-ups on the Playground:

Crammed into 90 minutes, playwright Ernessa T. Carter’s sextet of one-acts boasts smart wit, shrewd insight and a bawdiness that always celebrates and never insults.

Yea!! Congrats ETC!

Mark Ravenhill on Sarah Kane, New Plays vs. Classics

Isaac at Parabasis links to an article by playwright Mark Ravenhill about his "knowing" 4.48 Psychosis author Sarah Kane, her craft, and her place in the canon. He got the article from a blog called webloge, which I might be reading a bit more of in the future.

Webloge also links to another Ravenhill article in the Guardian, suggesting that classics should be staged more than new works -- a bizarrely conservative viewpoint from a guy who wrote a play called Shopping And Fucking.

Recently, I was talking to a bright young drama graduate. He's just finished a training scheme as a theatre director. "What do you want to do now?" I asked the eager young rookie. He smiled blankly back at me. "Direct new plays," he said, expecting (I could see) a pat on the head.

So his non was totally plussed when I said: "What the fuck do you want to do that for?"

Actualy, the article is rather middle-of-the-road about the whole issue when it's all said and done, suggesting a balance is what's best. It mainly sounds like he's tired of seeing so many shallow, "dodgy" new plays. though. I guess onstage simulated rimjobs peformed by an actor playing a 13-year-old male prostitute a'la Shopping And Fucking provides the kind of depth he's looking for.

Now look who's gotten conservative! Shame, Kyle! We need to champion our bold, daring playwrights, unafraid of presenting simulated rimjobs involving thirteen-year-old characters onstage!

But I kid. I think I had something of an opinion of Shopping And Fucking once upon a time, but the only thing that's lingered some six years since I saw it was the trauma of watching all that go down in a tiny theater as I was seated about six inches from the stage. It was a tender time for me, okay?

So thank you for your insight, Mr. Ravenhill. I look forward to seeing another of your plays. You'll forgive me if I sit on the fifth row, just to be safe.

Safe? Who wants theater that's safe, Wilson? Let's get crazy and in-your-face! And while we're at it, let's do Shaw, too! That'll really wake 'em up!

I think I've lost all control of this post. I'll stop now.

Everybody's doin it!

My neighbor has started her own blog. Read Anikatweaka here.

Free WiFi!

No, I'm not moving to San Francisco.... I did find this site that lists free WiFi by state and city, though, which seems the next best thing. I can't tell you have many times I've needed to email a script or something in a panic and emailed my friend Rob asking if he knew where I could get free WiFi. Here's the link, but I used the California list. If you live elsewhere, just explore the site a bit and you'll find what you need.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mike Mariano on Will Eno

I've yet to see or read a Will Eno play, so I have no opinion on whether or not Mike's got the hotshot pegged, but his post about Eno is funny. It's here. It gives a list of instructions on how to write your very own Will Eno play. Here's the first step; click the link for the rest.

1. Begin with an attack on the conventions of the fourth wall. No one’s ever done that before!


Sounds easy enough! I think I'm going to try it!

UPDATE: I tried it. It made me tired. Here's hoping Will Eno's better at writing a Will Eno play than I am!

I don't know what's worse...

my feeling that the new Franz Ferdinand single sounds like it belongs in sports arenas, or the fact that I really really like it and can't stop singing it. "Doo-doo. Doo-do-do-do-do-dooo." It's on a loop in my head, and I'm known to whistle and sing in the hallways. My friend Janet is going to kill me.

Indictment Bingo

I don't really have much to report at the moment -- except that you should go see Crumble at Edgefest next weekend -- but Wonkette's having some fun with all the indictment grumblings. Check it here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm trying the block quote function

Thanks to Brian at Center Square for pointing out this most obvious little tool. I'm pretty slow on the internet uptake sometimes, in case you haven't noticed. Just to experiment, and because I'm drawn to the melodramatic, I'm going to try it out by quoting my favorite speech from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Enjoy!

You're all flops. I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops. I disgust me. You know, there's only been one man in my whole life who's ever made me happy. Do you know that?...George, my husband...George, who is out somewhere there in the dark, who is good to me - whom I revile, who can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them. Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy. George and Martha: Sad, sad, sad...Whom I will not forgive for having come to rest; for having seen me and having said: yes, this will do; who has made the hideous, the hurting, the insulting mistake of loving me and must be punished for it. George and Martha: Sad, sad, sad...Some day, hah! Some night, some stupid, liquor-ridden night, I will go too far and I'll either break the man's back or I'll push him off for good which is what I deserve.

Uhm, okay, that's not too bad. Maybe it's my font I don't like. Maybe I should just keep things as they are. But isn't that speech good? Stupid Liz Taylor cries her way through it in the movie, though. It drives me nuts!

Another Pinter Round-Up

Terry Teachout writes about the politics of the Nobel and how deserving Pinter is of the award, regardless of his politics, even though he later suggests the award has no credibility. I'm not sure how that makes sense, but Teachout makes some interesting points. I love the quote he supplies from Noël Coward:

Even Noël Coward, who had no use whatsoever for trendy theatrical innovation, was impressed by his ability to stir up profoundly unsettling emotions through the simplest of means. " 'The Caretaker,' on the face of it, is everything I hate most in the theatre--squalor, repetition, lack of actions, etc.--but somehow it seizes hold of you," he wrote in his diary. "Nothing happens except that somehow it does."

This article was pointed out to me by Alicublog, who links to it while trashing Jonah Goldberg's feeling he can trash the fact that Pinter got it even though he apparently knows very little of his work:

This is genuine anti-intellectualism: not the watery kind that leads politicans to pretend ignorance to win votes, but an evident and deep-seated desire to rewrite (or if necessary obliterate) the rules of logic and causality so that one's side will always come out ahead.

This blight is apparently contagious, as this reader comment, which Goldberg finds "interesting," shows:

"To a conservative like me, it is the left that killed off Pinter’s art, more successfully than any censor could have. Doubtless, it is the later, bloviating Pinter who the Nobel committee is rewarding, not the true artist."

In this view, one's very identity is changed by political incorrectness: Pinter is not worthy of the Nobel because Pinter is not Pinter.

J.T. LeRoy IS a fraud!

Or a hoax, apparently.

Thanks to The Elegant Varation for this. Although I can't say I share Sarvas' indifference to the revelation. Yeah, I'm annoyed by his fiction, too, but as hoaxes go, it is pretty entertaining. Here's a quote from the Sunday Times' article, which is linked above:

When [University of San Francisco creative writing professor and "literary sleuth" Stephen] Beachy asked LeRoy during a telephone interview to provide documents to prove his identity, the author replied: “Why? This is your issue. I don’t have any burning desire to be proven to be real.”

Junebug

I want to like this move so badly. And I do...I do like things about it. Like the fact that Madeline the gallery owner and her husband George are so beautiful that the whole movie could've been shots of them necking and canoodling and I would've enjoyed it. And not in a pervy way...well, not too much. They're just both so lovely....

I like the atmosphere of the film, too. It's really authentic, and with very little of the condescension to southern subject matter that you often see in movies. Even during moments that border on mawkishness there manages to be a deeply-rooted respect for the rhythms and traditions of the world it represents. There's a scene at a church potluck that involves one of the characters singing "Softly And Tenderly," which kinda made me want to puke until it brought tears to my eyes. Honestly, mawkishness or no, I'm surprised I didn't start weeping the moment a church potluck showed up on screen -- the wrinkled tinfoil, the long tables full of dishes and desserts, the nauseatingly earnest prayers with the preoccupation with temptation and evil and overuse of the word "just" -- that was my youth! How can I not be moved by seeing it onscreen?

But for all this rich texture, I don't understand or feel like I know any of the male characters and I don't think southern male remoteness and stoicism can excuse that. The women are great, and if the focus were more squarely on them it might've been a triumph, but the movie feels like it wants to be about the men. George does almost nothing but sleep or sleep with his wife, and suddenly he has a pretty singing voice and a regard for the importance of family and I'm supposed to call that a character? And why is his brother so mad at him? I can infer why, but I don't think I'm ever made to truly understand why. And Dad, well I'd find his almost non-verbal quality kind of charming if, again, I were let in a little more.

Maybe I'm being too hard on it. It's obviously effective, even if it doesn't totally work for me. Really nicely acted, too. Especially the always reliable Celia Weston. And of course, that Amy Adams. Man, who is she and why is she soo gooooood?

UPDATE: I just IMDBed her and she was in both Psycho Beach Party AND Drop Dead Gorgeous! I love her even more!

I'm housesitting again

And much vegging on the couch has occurred. I feel I deserve this.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Is it wrong

to want to see Domino based solely on Keira Knightley's eye make-up?

More on Pinter

I've yet to read much of the major publications' assessments of the choice -- I noticed Brantley wrote something for the NYTimes, and there was another story there that looked fun -- but there are a couple of blog posts I found that were interesting:

Terry Teachout introduced me to Alicublog, which looks like a site I'll be checking again. He writes about Pinter here.

The now infamous Mark Sarvas posts about some out-of-the-way Pinter statements and things on his blog here.

Oh, and Rob Kendt links to some good articles here, including a piece in the Guardian written by David Hare.

Enjoy! I'm off to add The French Lieutenant's Woman to my Netflix!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harold Pinter

I've said this before in these pages, but I tend to trace my desire to write plays back to my study abroad in London. While there, I saw productions of two plays that made me understand the power of theater to leave an audience completely breathless. One was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and the other was Pinter's The Homecoming. I had absolutely no idea what I'd gotten myself into with that show. I was a 21-year-old who'd only heard of the man; I'd knew nothing about his theater or his style. And by the end of the first act of a play I had almost dismissed in its opening beats as a bit of typical mid-century naturalism, my mouth was wide with something akin to shock at how wrong I was. Although deceptively familiar in style, this was dangerous theater. By the time it was over I was wrecked and exhilirated. The play was forty years old and I was having a heated conversation on the tube about the merits of it afterwards with others, one of whom I didn't even know. I've had so few theater experiences like this in my lifetime. It's a standard by which much of my playgoing is measured.

The only play I ever directed was also a Pinter play, which I staged for my directing class. It's a later one-act called "A Kind of Alaska," which is in a way quite a different sort of Pinter play, but is just as powerful. An adaptation of Oliver Saks' Awakenings, the play compresses into 40 minutes the experiences of a woman's decades-long struggle with the strange "sleeping sickness" that occurred in the early 20th century and was chronicled in Saks' book. It's funny and haunting, and directing that show remains among of the most rewarding theater work I've ever done.

Alright, here are a couple of links if you're still reading. George at Superfluities says some nice things about Pinter here. My favorite paragraph is below, and it's probably one I should consider with Customary Monsters:

What Pinter shares with Shakespeare and Beckett is an increasingly uncomfortable truth in a consumerist age: that all the money, all the success, all the nationalistic or racial pride, all the conviction in our own victimhood, all the conviction in the unerring rightness of our own cause, all the possessions we can collect, all the children we can produce, cannot possibly fill the abyss we pretend to ignore every day. To come face to face with the terrorism of the world, be it a sudden war in Iraq or the plunging of a jet plane into a tall building, the last thing we should do is to pretend that we couldn't do the same thing ourselves, in the most geopolitical or the most intimate contexts. The most radical, the most revolutionary act that Shakespeare, Beckett and Pinter suggest is to recognize and accept this abyss, and that, to do so, we needn't do more than glance into the nearest mirror.

And Isaac at Parabasis mentions the political implications of the current Nobel winners, Pinter included, here.

One thing that is clear...there is an agenda behind the Nobel prize awardings this year. To award the prize for peace to to the IAEA and El Baradei is a clear rebuke of US policy and the run up to the Iraq war. Awarding the prize in literature to one of the most outspoken critics of the war (a man who, in fact, gave up writing to focus on activism) is just icing on the cake.

And Brian at Center Square is grateful they aren't giving Pinter the prize for his poetry. He writes about that here. For the record, so am I. But e.e. cummings and Joyce aren't known for their theater, either, so it's all fine by me. In fact, I once heard Albee suggest that there's only been one author who's successfully crossed mediums, and that's Pinter's first inspiration, Beckett. I even think that's debatable, but I'd have to do a lot more reading to be able to step into that argument.

It's so nice to celebrate a writer while he's still living! Thank you Mr. Pinter!

Line in the sand

While I'm more into celebrating the great Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize today (more on that later) than dishing the literary shit, who doesn't love a good feud in print more than I do? Steve Almond writes on Salon about how much The Elegant Variation's Mark Sarvas hates his writing, and Mark replies here.

I'm an occasional reader of Sarvas' blog, and while I wish I were more on top of what's going on in modern fiction (it's all I can do to stay somewhere near on top of theater), I still enjoy his writing about it. For example, his passion for the current Booker Prize winner John Banville is both endearing and seems to recommend his tastes. Only being an occasional TEV reader, I wasn't all that familiar with Sarvas' hatred for Almond's writing (or with Almond's writing in particular), but having read the piece in Salon, I might have to agree with Sarvas' assessments. Check some of the condescension in these passages from the Salon piece:

1) Here is Almond with hackneyed criticisms of L.A., which he shares while recounting his appearance with Sarvas at Vermin on the Mount, an L.A. literary event run by Jim Ruland:

Ruland was running a reading series in Los Angeles, a town where books were a minor cultural curiosity that occasionally spawned depressing movies and, more often, sat on coffee tables, suggesting a certain intellectual depth and accenting the color scheme.

I don't know where Almond lives, but this sounds like the kind of east coast snobbery that would only come out of the mouth of someone who doesn't know anything about L.A. A minor cultural curiosity? Next he'll say we're all vapid and fame-obessed.

2) On participating in the L.A. Times Festival of Books (clearly evidence of books as a minor cultural curiosity in L.A.):

I find all book festivals depressing, because we writers are so disappointing in person, so awkward and needy and choked with status angst. But it was even worse in L.A., because the entire town runs on the bad Kool-Aid of fame.

JACKPOT!

3) His assessment of writers who are also bloggers...and admittedly, this hits a little close to home:

[T]here are...bloggers who, like Sarvas, are simply too lazy and insecure to risk making art, to release their deepest emotions onto a blank page with no promise of recognition. So they launch a blog instead.

I can understand the temptation. It's one I feel every day. Sarvas horrifies me precisely because he represents certain desires that live inside of me: the desire to avoid the solitude and humiliation of sustained creative work, to choose grievance over mercy, to find a shortcut to fame.


That's just mean. A lot of us, and I'm guessing Sarvas is one of them, like to release our deepest emotions on all sorts of blank pages. And we take the time to write blogs. More power to him for doing so well with his.

Regardless, Sarvas takes it all in stride. You can check his response on one of the above links. Now what I'm really waiting for is his response to the Nobel winner. When's that coming, Mark?

Congratulations

Mr. Pinter!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cruisin'

I'm posting this in part for Brian, because it reminded me of a couple of posts on his blog about this weird NYTimes article about some cruisy parking lot on Long Island. Long story, but they provided some entertainment for me on a slow work day.... And not like that! Geez....

ANYWHOO, Choire Sicha reports in The NYObserver about the future of cruising in the Big Apple, namely in the Hudson River Park area:

The High Line, that thin, elevated track of soon-to-be-spruced-up public park that runs along 10th Avenue, is, in the drawings for its rebirth, both giga-modern and abundant. Its sleekly louche looks suggest a prime place for an upwardly mobile man-on-man shopping spree, where two fellas freshly met might consider a bit of juicy contemporary art and end up buying $200 jeans at Jeffrey. (Look, baby, we’re the same size!)

Cruising requires opportunity, critical mass and an excuse for loitering, none of which coalesce in Hudson River Park. But in the plans for the High Line—which aren’t really plans yet so much as notions—architects have considered the site in direct opposition to the speed of the riverfront. Loitering, ahoy!

“[T]he High Line’s design team emphasizes the Line’s distinction as a ‘slow space,’ a more contemplative, meandering experience” compared to Hudson River Park, according to a series of public questions posed to the High Line gang in May 2005.


The most fascinating thing about this article to me is that architects and city planners are more than willing to engage in dialogue about this phenomenon. In fact, they even seem to think it's hot....

Charles Renfro, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, [responded] in an e-mail. “In our design for the High Line,” he wrote recently in response to a conversation about public space and cruising, “we are trying to keep and push the qualities of the Line that lend it its sexiness: It’s overgrown, it’s partly a ruin, and it’s outside the city. Our paths meander through high and low vegetation, on occasion ending abruptly. We’re trying to un-linear the Line. So while it may sponsor gay cruising, I think it will also sponsor straight cruising and a general sense of pleasure that few public spaces in New York provide at this moment.”...

“People will cruise,” Mr. Renfro wrote, “whenever and wherever there are glances exchanged. The ‘L’ train is the cruisiest and sexiest public space in town.”

The new Fiona Apple

album is as good as the critics say it is. Although the title track is my favorite.

She used to be such a guilty pleasure to me...the only bitter and pouty female singer-songwriter I used to allow myself was P.J. Harvey, back in my closety days. But then NPR put its stamp of approval on her second album with the endless title and I decided to give her a chance. Never mind the fact that I always secretly loved that "Criminal." And don't get me started about how lame and yuppified I feel buying pop music based on NPR reviews. At least it turned me on to my Antony and the Johnsons -- who had a nice profile on Morning Edition this morning, by the way....

But I digress. Fiona's one of those acts that it took coming out to fully, proudly embrace, man-anger and sultry alto and all. One of the many problems with closety-ness. Being too paranoid to fully enjoy camp, and weepy movies, and intense, brooding female pop singers! And Madonna's back catalog, of course.

But I digress again. I love Fiona's internal rhymes the best. "But after all the folderol" (and The New Yorker's right, sometimes her big-word lyrics are weird, but using the word "folderol" is fun, I think) and "I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day" are a couple of my favorite examples, but they're all over the songs. Even when her songs are full of anger and regret, they're terribly clever.

And she's so pretty with those big doe eyes and she looks like a friend of mine that I miss lots and lots! I just love me some Fiona Apple, y'all!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More on Romance

Sorry, but you know how I get....

I went back and re-read (again) Mamet's essay in the LATimes...an essay that I still think is mostly meaningless...and this is the extent of his statements about homosexuality, which one can only assume constitutes the reasoning for his treatment of the subject matter in his play:

And what about the gay community? Some of you have encountered them, in their quality of entertainment, on television; others in bed.

They, like the rest of us, are working their way through the national consensus — stuck, for the moment, between Willie Best and Sidney Poitier.


So I suppose we're meant to infer that Bernard's leather thong and flaming behavior is indicative of the Queer Eye/Will & Grace-style gay-minstrelsy (my feelings about those shows aren't quite that harsh, but regardless) that most of America views gay men to be.

If that's the case, I still think consistency is key here. Mamet's not writing a play about homosexuality or how it's viewed culturally. He's writing a play about, and these are his words, "those imponderables: race, sexuality, religion and the war in the Middle East." There is a lack of consistency about how those imponderables are represented. And that's where I get irritated.

And a lot of his jokes sound like they hit Queer Eye's and W&G's cutting room floor, which doesn't help either. Don't get me wrong, I did laugh a little, and I loved that David-Bowie-looking actor who plays poor Bernard. But still....

Here's why Romance irritated me

I can't really control myself. I wanted to be just a little smug and dismissive, pretending I don't really care that it's not a good play, but I do, I DO CARE! Why do I care SO MUCH?!

Anyway, two things. Well, two big things, aside from the annoying little things I mentioned yesterday.

1. It's the same joke over and over again. Look at these people arguing amongst themselves and not listening to each other while the fate of world peace is being negotiated outside their doors! Isn't that so clever and satirical?! It's the same thing that annoyed me about Wag The Dog. The president effs up; here they come to clean up the mess. Isn't that funny?? No, not after the umpteenth repetition. It's not.

3. I know Mamet's challenging me, daring me to harp on his treatment of homosexuality in the play, but if it's a play that's making comic hay out of our problems with minority groups and our stereotypical understandings of them, why is the only openly gay character in the play also the only one who gets reduced to the most comical and demeaning of his minority group's stereotypes? Poor Bernard is introduced to the audience in nothing but a leather/leopard-print thong. And that's what he's wearing while he's making the pot roast.

See what I mean? Cheap laughs....

Am I the last person to know

that Raymond Burr was gay?

It was on the set of Perry Mason that Raymond Burr first met Robert Benevides, the man who would eventually become his companion and partner of more than thirty years. As the story goes, Burr and Benevides’ relationship blossomed after they discovered their individual interest in, and knowledge of, the hybridization of orchids.

Together they started Sea God Nurseries with orchid ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores Island, and Southern California. Over a twenty-year period, their hybridization was responsible for more than fifteen hundred new orchids being added to the worldwide catalogue. Also with Benevides, Burr opened a successful Rodeo Drive art gallery.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Draft 3 is

Complete! Granted, I had to fight through a vicious bout of flu/food poisoning that has kept me home from work today.... If that's not commitment, I don't know what is....

I also saw Romance Saturday night. I don't know what was more annoying, the fact that one of the characters seems to have a mixed cocktail in a shaker just ready to be poured (what self-respecting homosexual would just leave liquor and what was apparently cranberry juice in a shaker?), the fact that a character says he isn't wearing contacts and five minutes later is crawling on the floor screaming that he's lost a contact, or the fact that I had to sit in the virtual dark in silence for two scene changes in the first act. At least play some wacky music! I turned to JW during the first blackout and said "You see, this sort of thing really helps the farce's momentum."

Still, for cheap laughs, I coulda done worse. And luckily the 2nd act is in one scene, so there wasn't any sitting in the dark. And the actor who plays Bernard looks like David Bowie, though, and is quite good. He helped things along.

Oh, and during the intermission, I was in line at the concession behind a young woman who was talking to her date about how "the defendant's attorney looks really familiar. We must've brought him in for something." Okay, so this is apparently a casting assistant or some kind of industry type who doesn't know who Ed Begley, Jr. is. Granted, I know he doesn't work as much as he used to, I know you were probably in diapers when St. Elsewhere was on, but read a stinkin bio. I know who the heck he is and nobody's paying me to know!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday afternoon

I'm about to run off and work for four hours but I'm doing a little surfing and letting my ibook battery charge up a bit before I go. We also call this avoidance, if you're looking for synonyms.

I saw the very French 4.48 Psychose last night. It's more communicative for us English-only types than I expected it to be, but it's most effective as a practice in really dark minimalism. My mind wandered a lot; I came up with a new short play during some of it, which made the evening most productive. There's a moment about two-thirds into the evening when the almost completely still, often blank, mostly monotone Isabelle Huppert made some kind of facial shift to this washed-out despair that was so imperceptible it was kind of shocking. And then there was this stark light cue from a spot on her to her being lit from either side and sharp angles (I'm not a lighting designer, so I may have gotten this totally wrong, but I think that's right, if memory serves, etc.) that made her look almost corpse-like...and then she had her only outburst of the evening, shouting in French and shaking her head...it was riveting. I didn't know what she was saying, but it really didn't matter at that point.

It was a pretty sad evening all around, though, and not just because of the abstract poetic suicidal drama; we were kind of an awful audience. People kept getting up in waves. Every time there was a blackout or lighting change JW and I would hear all these chairs around us squeak as people fled. I think three cell phones rang. The French have these problems, don't they? Don't think too badly of us, Isabelle!!

While I wasn't necessarily floored by the whole experience, the show's aesthetic is interesting and occasionally quite stirring. When Huppert took her bow I stood for her, mainly because I realized how hard something like that must be. Not the most accessible piece of theater, perhaps even a little alienating, but rigorous in its focus and conviction and pretty gorgeous, too.

Oh, and UCLA LIVE START YOUR DAMN SHOWS AT LEAST CLOSE TO ON TIME! GEEZ!

Okay, enough of that. Must go get to work! Wish me luck!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nine Parts of Desire

Really good stuff, but I have no idea how that script works at all. I want to get a copy of the script so I can make some kinda sense of it. Heather Raffo's pretty kickass, though, huh?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I just read that New Republic article

and you have to register to read the whole thing. Registration is free, but so are most of the sentiments expressed if you just read Doug Ireland's blog, and you don't have to register for that. The most interesting paragraph of the TNR's article is below:

One historical model for gay-rights leaders to consider is the anti-apartheid activism of the 1970s and '80s, when students tried to force their universities to divest from companies doing business in South Africa. Not only did many groups succeed in convincing their college administrators to divest, they also pushed the plight of black South Africans to the forefront of American attention--on college campuses and beyond. Their victories may have been mostly symbolic, but protesters can also plausibly claim credit for having raised awareness of the issue to the point where Congress imposed sanctions on South Africa over the veto of President Reagan. The efforts of American students ultimately benefited black South Africans; perhaps analogous efforts by gay Americans and their straight allies on behalf of gay Iranians would yield similar results today.

Doug Ireland on Iran

He's been writing a lot about this lately, and today's post on his blog is encouraging:

Canada's Foreign Minister, Pierre Pettigrew (right), announced late yesterday that his country will introduce a resolution at the UN condemning Iran's record on human rights. Pettigrew said that "Iran has not lived up to its international human rights obligations and has not conformed with past UN resolutions on this matter. We believe this must change," according to a Reuters dispatch.

Ireland also points out that The New Republic has written about the issue as well:

Do not miss Rob Anderson's article, just published on The New Republic's online edition, which includes interviews with NGLTF's Matt Foreman, IGLHRC's Paula Ettelbrick, and HRC's Michael Cole, whose excuses for their inaction on Iran strike me as unbelievably feeble when they're not downright disingenuous. Anderson is unsparing in his criciticism of these groups for their silence on Iran's anti-gay pogrom, and provides a first-rate dissection of it.

I'm going to be frank here...

I've done minimal work on Customary Monsters this week. Ever since my highly fraught evening of kitties, laundry, and anxiety, I keep making appointments with myself to spend the evening writing and I end up tweaking one scene for no longer than an hour before either napping or putting in the DVDs of Lost I have on Netflix, which basically results in my napping. It's not that I don't like the show...well, I'm not sure but I think I might dislike the show....

Anyway, I'm a bit disappointed at this. I try to console myself by saying that I work best by having big chunks of uninterrupted free time to spend several hours holed up in a library forcing myself to avoid the internet, the telephone, the Netflix, etc., and I'm looking forward to having that this weekend. I also try to reassure myself with the notion that even going into the manuscript to tweak a scene or two for a few minutes is worthwhile on a daily or almost daily basis, if only because it keeps my head in the world of the play and keeps the momentum going. But still, I wish it were farther along. I wanted to have the draft finished last night. I'll be lucky to finish it by the weekend.

I can safely say that this is just about the hardest script I've ever written. I once heard Horton Foote give a reading at a bookstore and someone asked him which play was the hardest to write and he answered with something like "whichever one I'm working on at the time." And I'd probably agree with that. But this one is HARD.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hmm, let's see, where did I put those confidential documents again?

Tyler's on the case. He posted this late yesterday.

Yesterday I pointed out that this was the key passage in the LAT's most recent Felch/Frammolino Getty expose:

Internal Getty records obtained by The Times show that museum officials knew three years ago about the loan [Marion] True obtained for the vacation home. The Getty declined comment on the documents.

The LAT story doesn't say if Trust officials knew about Marion True's loan. It does, however, refer to "internal Getty records." Last time the Times referred to Getty records, the Getty cried 'Theft!' Not this time. Interesting.

Is Barry Munitz directly or indirectly laying the True problems at the now-departed feet of Deborah Gribbon, whose severance agreement prohibits her from addressing the True issue?


All these leaked documents have to come from somewhere, don't they?

David Mamet on Romance

I mentioned in a post from yesterday how Mamet can drive me absolutely nuts. Here's an example of why. In preparation for the L.A. production of his new play, Romance, he writes in the Sunday LATimes a flippant, useless essay on his play's ironic title. The only specific reference he makes to Romance appears in the last sentence:

My new play at the Mark Taper Forum is a vicious comedy about those imponderables: race, sexuality, religion and the war in the Middle East. But you wouldn't know it from the title.

The rest is filled with a dissection of bad titles for wars, museums, movies. Am I supposed to think this is cute? Clever? Devlish? Worth the time I took to read it? Even the jokes in it aren't that funny. Or original. I hope the play's better than this tossed off essay is.

I'm seeing it Saturday! Can't wait!

UPDATE: Okay, so I actually reread the article after posting this, and I do see him not so sneakily sneaking in some substance about race, sexuality, etc. into the tail end of the essay before summing things up with the closing sentence I listed above, so I suppose it's not completely substance-free. I still think it's lame.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So last night

I bought copious amounts of junk food, gathered up my laundry and my laptop, and settled in at my friend Debra's apt. to wash some clothes and do some writing. I've been catsitting for Debra while she's out of town, and she has this little black kitty named Beckett that can provide HOURS of distraction for any procrastinating writer. But I had a plan, dammit. I was going to do three loads of laundry and I was not going to leave until I finished one scene, ONE SCENE, that has been a monkey on my back for the past few days.

This scene -- GOD, where to begin? I have attempted to cut it, paste it, split it, add characters to it, reimagine it, unimagine it, and every attempt I have made at making it work has failed. On at least TWO occasions in these vain attempts I have pinpointed with unflinching self-assessment that this is basically my version of the opening voice-over in Adaptation. Or it's one of them, anyway. Upon reaching this conclusion I have determined to not let myself be distracted from my goals in the scene, that I would sculpt it with simplicity and directness, and that I would will myself to just get through it. So tonight, again, armed with enough junk food and laundry to keep me in one place for a good three hours or so, I got to work.

But then there's this kitty. Little Beckett. He's at that kitten stage where he's getting kinda badass but he'll still make kitten noises and demand constant attention. I love that stage. So you can imagine that I did no small amount of playing with little Beckett (I wonder what his namesake would've thought of this whole situation). And you can imagine that I did no impressive amount of working on that pesky scene.

It all started to wear on me sometime near 10pm. I had done lots of cutting and pasting, a little composition, and a lot of bingeing on junk food and tossing around of little Black Beckett. Finally, settled into an easy chair, bloated, with a purring kitten in my lap, I found myself staring at the laptop over on the kitchen table. Trying to will myself to get up and go to work. It's not like it was writer's block -- again, I knew what I needed to do -- but I could not make myself get up from that chair! And then I started having all these doomsday fantasies, about how I'm going to be a secretary for the rest of my life with an overloaded social calendar and no savings and nothing to show for the immense debt I accrued on graduate school and whycan'tyoujustwritethatfuckingsceneyouasshole??

Fed up, I tossed the cat out of my lap and started digging into my bag looking for old pages from the 2nd draft, notes I'd scrawled on my legal pad, SOMETHING. On that legal pad I discovered three pages of handwritten dialogue that basically composed the scene I had been avoiding all evening. This was the solution to my problem. And I had composed it already. DAYS AGO. Like I said before, this was at least the third time I'd gone through this whole "procrastination/snapthefuckoutofit/emerge-from-the-abyss-with-renewed-sense-of-purpose" cycle. Geez....

Of course you can imagine it took me another hour or two to commit to that damn laptop and typing the stupid scene in. That cat is just too precious. Still, somewhere around 1:00am I finally finished the scene and my laundry!

Stay tuned to see if I ever finish the play....

August

Not that I haven't considered this before, but reading all the obits and appreciations about Mr. Wilson's legacy I'm feeling the need to sit down with the scripts I've yet to read and experience the greatness of this writing. Ben Brantley writes a nice description of his work in today's NYTimes:

People talk about an artist having an eye. But with playwrights, it's the ear that counts. Mr. Wilson had a peerless pair. His writing comes closer to the sweep of Shakespearean music than that of any of his contemporaries. Edward Albee creates intense and elegant chamber pieces; David Mamet, machine-gun jazz; Sam Shepard, rhapsodic plainsong; Harold Pinter, monastic chants; and Tom Stoppard, jaunty concertos. But these days only Mr. Wilson has written plays that sound like grand opera - and it is no contradiction to say that it is opera rooted in the blues.

It's funny; all the descriptions of the authors above do seem to be apt, at least in their best work. All of the above authors drive me absolutely mad sometimes -- Mamet and Albee especially -- and I also absolutely revere and respect them in their bodies of work. All this writing about August has made me consider this kind of close relationship a real theater lover (like myself, in case you haven't noticed -- sometimes I think I'm better at being an enthusiast than a dramatist) must have with so many of these great authors. I usually have this "gushing adoration," "disillusionment expressed as superior annoyance," and eventual "reverence with a touch of realism" pattern with these folks; there's a point at which I read and see so much of the work that I get a little crazy with it, and I have to will myself to get over my frustration with an author's idiosyncracies and general humanity and engage in the ups and downs of what he or she has produced. And then that becomes part of the fun. I have very little patience for this kind of commitment in any other medium -- I read a couple of bad short stories by a fiction writer and I'm over it. I guess that's where the "theater enthusiast" label comes in. I used to be a film enthusiast; I'm not quite sure why or when that changed. Don't get me wrong; I'm still a fan, but it's a whole lot easier to say no to seeing the latest blockbuster on the big screen than it used to be.

I've said in these pages before that I'm afraid I don't understand August's greatness yet. I get it in the abstract; I've seen flashes of brilliance in the few plays I do know. But I've yet to dig in, to have the kind of intimacy that I feel I understand Tennessee's or Albee's or Pinter's. Reading all these reports of his life and work certainly make me look forward to having that kind of understanding.

Monday, October 03, 2005

4:48 Psychose

JW and I have tickets to see Isabelle Huppert in the Sarah Kane play this Friday at UCLALive. Luckily it's short enough to be in one act so I won't have to sit through a half-hour intermission.

However, I will have to sit through a performance spoken in French with almost no supertitles. JW received the following email from UCLALive about the performance.

Dear 4.48 Psychose ticket buyer:

Thank you for purchasing tickets to our highly anticipated presentation of 4.48 Psychose, featuring Isabelle Huppert....

Sarah Kane's text, originally written in English, is a nontraditional play: there are no characters, plotline, time, location, or staging notes indicated in the script; it consists solely of dialogue. Accordingly, each adaptation of the play has been intriguingly different. Claude Régy, one of France's most acclaimed contemporary directors, has chosen to present the work primarily as a monologue delivered in French by Ms. Huppert who remains mostly in place throughout the performance. Mr. Régy's notes:

The static actress is the center. It is through her face, her voice, her body, that the whole "show" takes place. My concern is not to muddle up the audience's intimate relationship with the actors. It would be destroying Isabelle Huppert's work if one had to look up too often in order to read the supertitles. Therefore, the supertitles will be relatively rare, but sufficient enough to communicate the essential themes of this text and to show chiselled samples of Sarah Kane's laconic and modern writing style....


Here's JW's response to this message:

So she's going to be sitting static in a chair jabbering away in French of which only a part of which will be translated for the audience. So, unless we understand French and/or can follow the significant meanings of a twitching eye or nose, we won't understand a thing about what's going on?

My reply is as follows:

There's not really much to know. Girl goes crazy, girl gets committed, girl talks to shrink, girl has one moment of clarity, etc.

JW's response:

So we should just stay home and watch The Snake Pit instead?

This whole email exchange revealed two things to me. 1) I wish JW could figure out how the heck to get an instant messenger on his PC. 2) JW's camp references are vintage!

Obligatory Getty Post

I know, these stories are old news by now, but here they are.

Tyler Green's right. This is turning ugly.

New Pornographers Live

Brandy said they were a little like an adult Partridge Family. And who doesn't like the Partridge Family? Serious rock geek action was happening at the Henry Fonda on Saturday with these guys, and was thoroughly enjoyed by yours truly. Dan Bejar, NP's "non-touring member," provided the slightest bit of rock swagger to the proceedings when he took the stage for "Jackie Dressed in Cobras" and a few other songs. I think he decided the pressure was off once his band, Destroyer, finished its opening set, and he took to the hooch; every time he took the stage he was clutching the mic in his right hand and a fresh Heinekenin the left. My only complaint was the sound, mainly in the balancing of the vocals -- Neko's were a little loud for my taste. She's got some serious pipes, but sometimes backing vocals should be in the...uhm...background. Regardless, great powerpop, two encores, most of my favorite songs, and all in all a fun show. I even bought a poster!