Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lunch poem

A herd of Glendale firemen
just held the door open for me
at Sidewalk Cafe!

Friday, May 26, 2006

A.I.

Okay, I've been spoiled. My all-but-complete ignorance of this season's American Idol has been tarnished, thanks to Defamer, but this is just too wonderfully horrible for me not to share with the masses.

Beware -- the clip's already made at least one friend of mine suicidal.

Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Only in Hollywood

Louie was not the most attentive of landlords. Often it would take four phone calls to get anything done in my little studio in the Rampart District. Luckily I was rarely there, so I didn't have much time to dwell over the inadequacies of my living situation.

When JW and I decided to move into our current place, I gave my 30 days notice to Louie at the end of January, which he graciously accepted. Still, I harbored no illusions about how easy it was going to be for me to get my deposit back. March 1st rolled around and I touched up the paint and scrubbed and vacuumed and generally left the place FAR better than I found it; incidentally, the list of improvements I made to the place on my own dime includes a nice paint job (thanks to the help of friends Matt, Trista, Rob, Todd, and Nathan), new blinds, a new toilet seat, and my refrigerator (which was an enormous improvement over the ancient crapbox that the apartment manager and I put on the curb when I moved in). When I finished I left a message on Louie's voicemail giving him my new address, JUST IN CASE he had the decency to get my deposit to me within the 21-day legal period.

About a month-and-a-half later, I was unpacking in JW's and my new place, and I thought, "hey, now's as good a time as any to try in vain to get that money back from Louie. I'll just give him a call!" In a rare bit of good luck, he answered, and he even said he would be happy to bring the check to me at my own apartment. I was stunned; he said he was just meeting some friends for lunch at Campanile, which is really close to my place, and he'd be over when he was finished; if I'd just give him an hour he'd be right over. He took my address and hung up. Just to digress for a moment -- who meets friends for lunch at Campanile? I'm sure someone does, but I'm pretty sure lameass unresponsive landlords don't.

About two hours later we talked on the phone (I'm a little fuzzy on this detail -- I can't remember if I called him or he called me) and he said, "Hey Kyle, I'm with some friends at Rita Flora (see, I told you!) and I've had a little bit to drink. I'm buzzin' pretty hard and I don't think I should drive."

If I had any sense I would've said, "then I'll just walk up to Rita Flora and get the check from you." But no, I was too content to enjoy my Saturday and assume that lameass buzzin' landlord owns a book of stamps and can mail me a check. "Just mail it to me, Louie. You have my address. Just mail it, alright?"

"Hey man, thanks. I'll get it to you."

A couple of weeks later -- sometime around the 1st of May, I think -- I thought to call him again. I got his voice mail. No response.

Tonight on the way home I remembered again to do this. This time I had the good sense to call on our landline, which lists as "unknown caller" on caller ID. He picked up on the second ring, sounding half-dead as he spoke.

"Oh yeah, Kyle, I owe you...uh...how much do I owe you?"

I reminded him of the amount. He continued.

"Right. Uh, hey, do you mind coming here and I'll meet you and I can give it to you then? I'm at Hollywood and Bronson? By the Tommy Burger. Yeah, just meet me at Tommy Burger. Hey man, I'm sorry to make you come all this way--"

It was good of him to apologize, considering that I live below Wilshire, and I'd called around the tail-end of rush-hour; we're talking 20-30 minutes one way in the car.

"--but I mean, come on, you're getting $XXX out of it, right? Alright, cool. I'll see you."

All the way to Tommy Burger I imagined scenarios of my reading him the riot act he deserved. Telling him he was lucky I didn't take him to small claims court. Calling him out for his utter lack of courtesy, of human decency. Refusing to shake his hand when he met me with the check. Spitting at him as I walked away, even. I seriously could not wait to let him have it.

I pulled into Tommy's parking lot and turned off the car. I rolled down my windows. I grabbed a script from my back seat and started to read, occasionally looking around for a sign of Louie. After a moment I started to feel like I was participating in something less than reputable. There I was in my work clothes, sitting in a parked car in the parking lot of a fast food joint with my windows down. I noticed a security guard, wondered if he was keeping his eye on me. I spotted a couple of women in trashy clothes walking by. I became certain Louie was not going to come and I was going to be arrested for attempting to solicit prostitutes in the parking lot of a Tommy Burger on Hollywood Boulevard. A petite blonde woman with bad skin and thick make-up approached my car. She was smoking a cigarette and looked very much the worse for wear. I avoided eye-contact, pretending to be absorbed in the play that I was reading. She finally spoke.

"Are you Kyle?"

I looked up. She squinted in the car at me, taking a drag on her cigarette. I nodded yes.

"Oh, okay, Louie sent me. Oh wait, what's your last name?"

"Wilson."

"Okay, good." She came around to the passenger's side. Both my windows were down. As she tried the door, I thought to myself "she is NOT about to get in my fucking car." Luckily it was locked. She tossed her cigarette on the pavement and started to dig in her purse. She pulled out a handful of CDs. "Louie wanted you have these."

She handed them to me through the open window: four identical, wrapped CDs, each with his picture on them. Louie is apparently a fledgling recording artist, and his solo effort, Daddy, featured a picture of him posing with an older man -- presumably his father. Needless to say I found this moving in no way whatsoever.

"Anyway, here's the check. He just wants you to initial there to say it was paid in full. Oh, here, I have a pen." I initialed and gave the pen back to her. She looked at me and smiled.

"Bye." I said. In case you were wondering, "bye" in this instance meant, "step away from my car, please." She did, and I pulled out of the parking lot and headed back home.

Safely back on my way home, I held one of Louie's self-produced CDs in my hand and marveled at how bizarre this city is. Tommy Burger? Vain attempts at self-promotion and/or apology-by-bribing with embarrassing folkrock CDs? Sent by messenger, no less? And why did he have to send her as messenger? Was he was just too incapacitated from the weed he'd surely been smoking all day to bother to show his face to me, or did he know any exchange with me would be one better avoided? I assumed the former, assuming also that the blonde's second errand after giving me the check was picking up a chiliburger and some fries to take care of his munchies.

When I got home I pulled out the digital camera. Here are some pictures of the CDs.

Four, count 'em, four copies. Am I supposed to give them to my friends?


Louie, there's this great new invention called A BELT. Think about it.


Daddy contains such compelling tracks as "Last Train to Heaven", "Daddy's Dog Spot", "Missing U", and "Essence O' Me."


I wish I could've gotten a better shot of this sticker. It contains a picture of Louie sporting a cowboy hat and bad sideburns, framed by text that reads "Triple Threat - is Louie the greatest songwriter/singer/guitarist?"

If you'd like to listen to a sample, check here. If you can imagine what a dumbass-loser-cheapskate-slumlord-coward-landlord-whose-check-is-probably-going-to-bounce sounds like when he's ripping off Dave Matthews, don't bother.

Somebody please

write a real synopsis for Customary Monsters for me. Seriously. I'll give you a dollar.

And while you're at it, finish the screenplay and start the play I'm thinking of working on. I just want to go home and lie on the sofa and decide whether I want to start the Edmund White bio or keep reading the copy of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead that I bought for a dollar at the church used book sale. It's not uninteresting, but that whole deathbed-letter-to-his-son conceit makes me nervous. I'm sorry if this makes me unimaginative, but the book's almost 300 pages long! Plus, I just have issues with 1st-person narrators speaking directly to other people -- like in the prose, not in quotations. "You wouldn't understand this, but when I was a child...." I know, it's a silly hang-up, but still, it bugs me. Anyone out there read that book? Should I stick it out?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Performance workshop -- What week is it?

Dunno. Too lazy to look back and check. Anyway, we actually do something in front of audiences next week. That should be interesting. If you're in L.A. and dying to see it, let me know, here are the details:

A Queer Exchange will take place at the Arena Theatre, for three performances only on Wednesday May 30 and Thursday May 31 at 3pm, and Friday June 2, 2006 at 8pm. The Arena Theatre is located on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles - 5151 State University Drive (directly across from the State Playhouse). Parking is available in nearby lots for $2.00. This event is free to CSLA students and $5.00 for the general public. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling (323) 578-4997.
But just be warned; the shit is gay, yo. Seriously. Gay as the day is long!

McPheever

It's true. I have it. I have not seen a single episode of American Idol this season. I haven't heard a single one of the singers perform. I have no idea what any of them sound like, including Katherine McPhee. But seriously, LOOK at this picture.
My feeling is this: if you're going to sing boring pop confectionary, you better be adorable while you do it. That's all I have to say.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

What talented playwright

did I spot at Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica tonight? Guesses in the comments section, puh-lease. And note I didn't say "emerging." I think this one done emerged, thanks to productions of a certain play all over the nation this past season. Which I didn't see. Which I'm irritated that I haven't seen or read. But I've seen two other plays and liked them both quite a bit.

The JW and I were in the neighborhood to check out Tim Miller's latest performance piece at Highways, 1001 Beds, which was great, dirty, politically optimistic fun, and we got to the venue so early we decided to venture out in search of dinner, and Tacos Por Favor is basically all there is. And I saw said playwright and thought I recognized and then I felt all weird and stalkerish so I stopped staring but then I waited for a moment to make sure said playwright was out of earshot and asked JW if he recognized said playwright from that performance we saw of that one play in that building in my old neighborhood when said playwright was sitting right next to us and of course he didn't even remember the play I was talking about and I had to tell him the synopsis and he still didn't remember because he has to look at his calendar to remember what he did on any given evening because he works too hard, so needless to say he was no help in my trying to confirm that my suspicions were correct, but I am convinced now that I am correct and I leave it to you, my great, knowledgeable, and large group of readers, to try to guess.

I wish I could offer a prize to the winner. I'll offer a virtual prize -- like a virtual Pulitzer, maybe. Or a Genius Grant. Or a lifetime supply of smoked almonds. But frankly, this isn't really about who wins or loses, is it? It's about bating you all in hopes of getting a few comments when I get back in the office on Monday. Erik, start it off, alright?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Alan Rich on the LAPhil

Well our favorite local music critic has revealed himself as the guy who bailed on the interminable Illusion, which I blogged about here and here. I was going to keep his secret for him, but since he doesn't mind sharing.....

He also loved the Unsuk Chin piece that was on the program that evening. I can't wait to see her opera based on Alice in Wonderland. In fact, I think Ms. Chin might be my new favorite musical obsession. Watch out, Fiery Furnaces!

Here are some quotes from Alan's column in the LAWeekly, "A Lot of Night Music:"

Ever larger looms the name of Korea’s Unsuk Chin. Rumors persist that her Alice in Wonderland opera, which Kent Nagano conducts in Munich next season, still heads here eventually, as does her fabulous (but murderously difficult) Violin Concerto. Her reputation as a master of musical jokes and wordplay is already known here, and at last week’s Green Umbrella, her Cantatrix Sopranica provided 26 minutes of sheer delirium along those lines. It is a piece for singers (three) about singing: vocalises, language jokes, a delightful dig at Chinese-through-the-nose, some passionate Italianate nonsense. Beyond all that, the piece is wondrously virtuosic: two sopranos and a countertenor in exact coordination through demanding roulades and cadenzas. The music is both enchantingly pretty and wickedly to the point. Sopranos Caroline Stein and Hila Plitmann and countertenor Paul Flight made up the chorus of would-be nightingales; Alexander Mickelthwate conducted.

Sharing the program was Roger Reynolds of UC San Diego, whose Center for Musical Experiment has given us commendable multimedia works in many stripes, some of them grateful to eye and ear. Illusion, alas, proved congenial to neither. Commissioned by a handful of big-name foundations, and given here in its world premiere, the work did serve to illuminate one aspect of Disney Hall I hadn’t noticed before. The sightlines are such that you get a clear view of people walking out early from anywhere in the hall. Mr. Reynolds’ work lasted, I am told, 70 minutes; I joined the procession at minute 51. Salonen conducted, and therefore was stuck with the whole thing.

Illusion purports to tell of the run-up to the Trojan War, with texts adapted from Aeschylus and Euripides, spoken or sung or otherwise hurled at an ensemble of brass, percussion and piano performing rather thuddy music. The multimedia bit has to do with singers and actors (whom I leave unnamed, out of kindness) moving from one music stand to another onstage. At the intermission before the piece, there was a sound installation in the lobby with more of the Reynolds score. Wherever I wandered, however, it was well drowned out by conversation, mostly about the pleasures of the Unsuk Chin piece.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Line of Beauty a BBC Miniseries?

Thanks to The FAGAT Guide for tipping me off to this.

I blogged about this book a couple of months ago here and here.

I get The FAGAT GUIDE's point about nothing happening in the book, but I think I'd qualify that statement just a bit; nothing happens in the book in the way nothing happens in Chekhov. (I remember hearing Albee say once, "Nothing happens in Chekhov; Everything happens in Ibsen.") I'd actually suggest that nothing AND everything happens in this book. And in Chekhov. But anyway....

If it were me I might be more inclined to adapt The Swimming-Pool Library, but only because it seemed more immediately cinematic to me as I was reading it. I was even mulling over the potential for dramatization as I read that one. With The Line of Beauty I just read and read and read, happy to enjoy and admire.

I just want to know when I can see this miniseries! Am I going to have to get cable so I can monitor BBC America in the hopes that this ends up on the schedule? I just hope The FAGAT Guide's headline holds true and they don't ruin it.

And yes, I just like typing "The FAGAT Guide." Thanks.

Hertzberg on Zacarias Moussaoui

I've gotten back to reading The New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" (although not until after I see if Anthony Lane has a movie review, of course, which I read...then I check the theater section and see if John Lahr has anything, and if it's Hilton Als I roll my eyes a little but I probably read it too...then I pretend to care about the fiction and get dismissive when I don't recognize the author, which is most of the time...then I scan the table of contents for Sedaris, so I can be disappointed by another of his pieces...then I check out the "Shouts and Murmurs", hoping it's Rudnick because there's at least a chance I might actually laugh out loud and want to share a passage with the JW).

That parenthetical just derailed me. Back to the political. This is a serious post. Seriously.

Hendrik Hertzberg makes some great points about what a laudable thing the jury did in refusing to give Moussaoui the death penalty. I feel compelled to quote a little:
The familiar arguments against the death penalty apply to cases like [Moussaui's], some with special force. Whether or not the prospect of lethal injection deters ordinary murder—a questionable proposition at best—it is perverse to imagine that it can deter the sort of murder of which faith-based ritual suicide is an integral part. And any execution, whatever the crime it is intended to punish, degrades the society that decrees it and demoralizes the particular government employees who are assigned to carry it out. A criminal may deserve to die, may deserve even to die in terror and agony; but no civil servant deserves to be made to participate in the premeditated killing of a person who, however wicked, is on the day of execution a helpless and frightened human being....

In 2005, according to Amnesty International, ninety-four per cent of all known executions took place in four countries. One, China, is a Communist Party dictatorship. Two others, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are Islamist autocracies. The fourth is the United States. In the democracies of Europe, American capital punishment is a source of puzzlement and disgust. But, even among Europeans who understand that its prevalence here is a function less of bloodthirstiness than of states’ rights, the execution of a European national (Moussaoui is a French citizen of Moroccan descent) in a federal death chamber for a crime in which he had no direct role would have wreaked new and unnecessary damage on popular and perhaps governmental support for America’s anti-terrorist efforts. Moral equivalences, however false, would have been drawn, and European co√∂peration, which is indispensable, would have been ever so slightly undermined. The Alexandria jurors, whatever their intention, chose not to inflict that wound on their country.
If these were the only points he had to make, I'd be impressed, but he goes on to make it all about the despicable politics of the War on Terror:
The Moussaoui case could have been settled long ago, with the same result and the same horrific sentence, had it not been for the government’s single-minded pursuit of death. That pursuit is an apt metaphor for the wrongheadedness of what the Administration still calls, despite occasional spasms of discomfort with the term, the war on terror. The campaign against Al Qaeda in particular and Islamist terrorism in general plainly has aspects of war-fighting, but it has equally important aspects of crime-fighting and arguably more important aspects of political and ideological struggle. For the Administration, the trope of war has proved useful both for mobilizing the government and for intimidating domestic opposition, winning elections, and aggrandizing executive power. But it has also abetted the rush to the strategic disaster of Iraq and the moral disasters of Guant√°namo, Abu Ghraib, and torture. Finally, it has conferred on criminal terrorists a status they desperately want but do not deserve. Bin Laden wished for war—war between Islam and the infidels—and war is what we gave him; Moussaoui wished for martyrdom, and our government would have granted that wish, too, if not for the jury in Virginia.
Okay, I've basically quoted the bulk of the article, but the rest of it is worth a read. The link is here.

I remember hearing Arthur Miller speak in the days after 9/11 -- either in person when I was in Pittsburgh or on C-SPAN, I can't remember which -- and back then he commented on the quality of Hertzberg's commentary on current events and the administration. It's clear Hertzberg's still got it. I think in future issues I'm going to save all the critics and comic pieces and turn right to "Talk of the Town" in search of Hertzberg.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Workshop - week 7

Is it week 7 already? We're getting down to the wire....

Last night was fun, too. I talked a little to a fellow performer about this trans play idea I have that I'm in limbo about. She said she'd put me in touch with people if I wanted. I'm still on the fence about how necessary this one is for me to write, but it's nice of her to offer!

What else? We had this big discourse wherein I ranted about how the GOP and the Bush administration panders to the Religious Right and how here they come dragging out the social issues during an election year. And then I went on a little in defense of gay decadence. And not of the artistic kind. That was fun, too.

The presentation is starting to take shape, though, and I do think it's going to be interesting. I'll miss doing this stuff. I just need to find more free, less-than-cutthroat performance workshop opportunities in Los Angeles. I'm sure they exist, right? Right??

More on that Kaufman story

Apparently the folks at The Elegant Variation are quite enamored of that Charlie Kaufman piece in the LATimes (which I wrote about here). Link to the post is here; the comments might be of interest as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I found my cute little notebook!

I just cleaned up my desk a little and discovered it under a pile of things. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I wrote about an uneven LAPhil concert experience last week, and while at the concert I was trying to transcribe my impressions and observations about the whole thing. Here's what I wrote:

How cute is this notebook? 7:33pm

I went to the LAPhil alone because Italy has swallowed up the JW. So this is the start of a long evening that begins with a lonely avant-garde classical concert and ends with an avant garde rock concert (Destroyer, to be exact). I managed to scrounge up a companion for that one -- my friend Libby (although I think she would object to the use of the word "scrounge"). If she had her way we'd end my high-culture/low culture evening with some Tetris tournament in a bar in Silver Lake, but I imagine we'd both be ready to fall asleep by the time Mr. Bajar plays his last song.

I'm sitting alone in Disney Hall scribbling in the cutest little notebook I got in the LAPhil store. It's very colorful. I just had an unsatisfying salad with an excess of onions, I'm sipping on a Diet Pepsi, and I'm pondering my own mortality. Not really, I was just being clever. Although, now that I've written that down it is starting to creep into my thoughts....
Note the enthusiasm, the sheer sense of possibility resonating through the words. The night advances....

8:45 (Where'd the nelly heading go?)

The ushers started yelling so I'm back in my seat, but the musicians aren't even on the stage yet. The cute chubby gay couple in front of me is sharing a candy bar that one of the two smuggled into the hall. They've been surprisingly free of public displays of affection tonight, for a change. And they're super-casual, which makes me feel a little better that I kinda dressed for Destroyer rather than Essa-Pekka tonight.

So that piece I just heard was delightful! An Asian female composer with a great sense of humor. I was stifling giggles the whole time. I was afraid I was among a minority of people who got it but the audience was ecstatic during the applause. Standing ovation. Even I stood up eventually. I don't do that for just anybody either.
Okay, here's where I start romanticizing.
The Green Umbrella is such a great experience. The audience is full of serious music nerds and really good sports. And the musicians are constantly making the most exciting rackets. And it's a serious bargain. Plus, as much as I admire the greats, this avant garde stuff really makes me lean in.
This next paragraph is just sad, considering what would follow.

I'm looking forward to the next piece. I was reading the program notes during intermission and they were beyond esoteric. I'm sure it's going to be wonderfully out there. All is inspiring. I wish JW were here!
Aww...didn't I miss the bf? He's back tonight, thankfully. Well I wish he'd been there for the first half. He's lucky he missed the second. Although it would've been nice to have to share that tortuous hour with someone, if only to have someone to commiserate with after!

Anyone else think this LATimes article

is dumb?

Thoughts on Charlie Kaufman

There was a big article in yesterday's LATimes claiming Charlie Kaufman "the best writer of his generation." I'm not sure I agree with the assertion, but I'm also not well-read enough to judge. Talk to me about living playwrights, maybe, but that's about all I got. I'd certainly agree that Kaufman is our most inspired screenwriter, though, and even in his more frustrating failures, there is so much brazen ambition that he's hard to dismiss.

I find this passage to be one of the more interesting bits in the article:
To experience Kaufman's work is to follow an idiosyncratic throughline in which archetypal ideas and even images emerge again and again. Toward the end of "Being John Malkovich," two characters chase one another across the landscape of John Malkovich's subconscious. (Don't ask.) One by one, they cycle through moments of half-remembered childhood—Malkovich as a boy walking in on his parents in bed; Malkovich being teased in a high school locker room; a twentysomething Malkovich trying to impress a date. The scenes cascade and tumble, as memories do, one leading to the next in an interior montage. In "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Kaufman's protagonist, Joel, tries to hide his girlfriend Clementine (or his mental projection of her) in a series of protean memories to prevent her from being erased. (Don't ask.) "Hide me somewhere deeper? Somewhere really buried? Joel, hide me in your humiliation," Clementine urges, as the walls of Joel's memory crumble, as if his very identity is at risk.
I'd actually forgotten how similar in some ways Malkovich is to Eternal Sunshine; those are hands-down my two favorites.

The funny thing about that article is that the author seems most enamored of Adaptation, which to me seems the most problematic of his movies. I pulled it out and watched it again while I was folding clothes last night, occasionally taking notes as I watched to see if it would spark something. I was reminded -- no, I don't actually think I understood this the first time I watched it...I discovered -- just how crammed with ideas that script is. It's one of the reasons why I think it's such a mess; it's too smart for its own good.

I've said before in these pages I don't really care for the narcissism-masked-as-self-loathing thing he does in that movie, but I do think he's going for something big in the investigation of the main character's solipsism and his attempt to connect to Susan, to Donald, to the women in his life. And that, of course, nicely parallels Susan Orlean's isolation and attraction to John LaRoche. And then there's the whole adaptation for survival metaphor -- that John, in his way, is a more successful, contented individual, because his passions adapt to his surroundings, his history, in the same way Donald is more successful as a screenwriter. There is such a richness in this writing, but -- and I know this is the obvious critique -- but where do you go with that ending? On the one hand I love it because of its sheer lunacy (especially when Susan, cradling the body of her dead lover in her arms, calls Charlie a "fat fuck" and a "loser" -- that is funny), but on the other hand, it's like this stew of brilliance just evaporates so he can finish the movie. And what does that say? It just all feels so nasty. That, I suppose, is the very point of the film...that insufferable integrity and impossible standards breed only loneliness and paralysis, that we all have to, at some point, succumb to the needs of others, to compromise, in order to survive. It just seems like a mean trick to communicate that by degrading his own story and characters.

Anyway, I've said this all before. The nice thing about revisiting the movie is that it spurred on ideas for a new play I've been considering; I even did a little writing on it. It also made me appreciate Adaptation more, even if I don't think it works. Or I don't get it if it does. Still, there's so much in that script. How many other major Hollywood movies are that jam-packed with ideas? And how many are that playful about them?

Okay, so this is basically just an excuse to share that article with you all, so read it if you're interested. As for whether or not he's his generation's greatest writer, I sure as heck don't know. I just hope he keeps writing.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I had a mammoth post

It was epic, exclamatory, poignant, gripping, and all about my wild Tuesday evening that began at the LAPhil and ended with my beloved Destroyer at Spaceland in Silver Lake. My first local survey of the wide spectrum of the musical avant garde. I was even journaling in a cute little notebook I bought at the LAPhil store for just such an occasion. On the first line at the top of the page I wrote the heading for the semi-live-blog concept I was considering: "7:35pm -- I just bought the cutest little notebook!"

Then the first piece of the evening at the LAPhil happened, which was absolutely delightful -- a playful piece by a very clever composer named Unsuk Chin. I had to stand for her when she took the stage, and I rarely am so moved at these things. During intermission I was gushing with praise in my cute little notebook about how marvelous and joyous the whole thing was and praising the Green Umbrella concert series that was so much more adventurous and had a much gamer crowd than other performances.

Then the second piece happened; a most serious composition by Roger Reynolds called "Illusion." It was long. It was heavy. It was ponderous. It had three pages of program notes. It had texts from Aeschylus and Euripedes echoing from the loudspeakers. People were leaving in droves. I was looking at my watch. I was supposed to meet my friend Libby at Destroyer. I knew I wouldn't miss the band, but I didn't want to keep her waiting. More people left, including at least one music critic, and what appeared to be an entire group of junior high students and their teachers who were seated directly above the performance space, facing our stoic conductor. NOTE TO ALL ADULTS WHO ACCOMPANY MINORS TO PERFORMANCES: Everything you do in front of young people is a lesson in behavior. Those chaperones taught those kids a horrible one on Tuesday night. The disruption in the performance by their exit was appalling. Needless to say, as much as I disliked the piece, I was more disguted with the audience's rude reactions to it.

Of course, I was sitting there thinking of Libby sitting at Spaceland by herself and I wanted to leave too! But did I? Nooo. The only way I would do that is if I were on an aisle right next to a door and could sneak out. And I wasn't. I bailed as soon as the thing was over though. I didn't stay through the curtain calls; I rushed out and almost ran down the street to my semi-secret free parking space.

Incidentally, in case you're curious, Mark Swed has much to say about the show here. He's far more admiring of that 2nd piece than I am, and credits the depth of composer Roger Reynolds' thinking and the size of his reputation. I'll defer to him on those matters. I do agree with him on this point, though:
It's not easy to defend "Illusion," given that it doesn't seem to go anywhere dramatically despite an attempt to show that conflicts between public and private life are nothing new.
Okay, back to the action -- I still had to get to Spaceland so I didn't leave Libby waiting. Of course I tried a shortcut and got turned around, freaked out about parking. Thankfully I remembered they valet, then I almost forgot that my ticket was in my bag which was in my trunk. It's a wonder I made it at all. Well, to my great relief, my friend hadn't been at Spaceland long. We enjoyed the show immensely, and Destroyer rocked the small club as I knew it would. They did have a briefly funny, mostly creepy fan hovering obtrusively near the stage in a weird leather get-up that looked like it was straight out of Rough Trade in Silver Lake (and on some guys that would make sense; on this one, it most certainly did not). I think most of us in the audience were afraid he was going to pull a knife or something. Luckily he didn't, although he did rush onstage twice as the band exited (once for set, once for encore) to hand the drummer something. I think he just had a massive crush and a little too much E or something.

So to recap -- Unsuk Chin = GOOD; Overlong, dark, classically-themed, dreary, heady 2nd act = not so good; instructing the large group of schoolchildren you've brought to the symphony to leave in the middle of the performance in plain sight of the conductor and the majority of the rest of the audience = EVEN WORSE; Destroyer = Do I even have to say it? EXCELLENT; Freak in leathers a bit too close to the action=diverting for a moment, then creepy.

Well, I guess this turned into a mammoth post after all. Still, it would've been so much better if I hadn't left that cute little notebook at my seat in Disney Hall in my rush to get out. And considering some of the excesses of my scribblings I'm not sure if I should call and get it back!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Kenneth Lonergan Play on the west coast

The Old Globe has announced it's season, and it features a new Lonergan play starring his pal Matthew Broderick. Is it worth the trip to San Diego? Or should I just stay home and put in my DVD of You Can Count On Me? Heck, I've never listened to the commentary track. That might be fun. But I don't want to ruin it by knowing too much, you know? Anyway, the LATimes article is here.

Performance Workshop -- Week 6

Check here for more recaps.

I have got to start stretching more before I work out and do any jogging because last night was another stiff night for me. This was the second Monday I felt various muscles in my legs decide they wanted nothing to do with the rest of my body when I attempted to move from point A to point B. It's either a lack of stretching or signs that I'm not in my 20s anymore. Either way, not good, my friends. Not good.

Between that and my being just generally too "in my head" last night I was a little off. Still, I had some fun moments, and it looks like I'm sharing a little mini-coming-out monologue (don't worry, it's not a "Dad, I'm gay" kinda thing) in conjunction with another actor's own personal story during one segment of the performance. Which is at the end of the month. Which should be interesting.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I made somebody's press quotes

I was vanity googling the FWL to see how far the reach of my blog's vast influence extended. Upon doing so I discovered that a journalist included my rave review of his entertainment magazine piece in his press quotes on his personal website. I'm terribly flattered by this, of course, but looking at my post out of context, with its excess of enthusiasm and exclamation points was sobering to me. And I've decided the following:

1. No more exclamation points. Ever.
2. No more schoolgirl crushes.
3. No more paragraph-long run-on sentences in attempts to convey my excitement about whatever band or indie actress I might be in love with at the moment. For further explanation see #3.
5. From now on the bf is only to be referred to as J.W. No more JW, with brazen omission of abbreviatory periods, no more silly addition of article "the" as in "The JW needs to get home from Italy A-sap!"
6. No more pretending A.S.A.P. is two words connected with a hyphen.
6. No more use of the word abbreviatory, as it sounds pretentious. Ditto use of the phrase "as" when "because" is what every other person would say. To rephrase: No more use of the word abbreviatory, because it sounds pretentious.
4. No more vanity googling. Taking stock is exhausting.

Friday, May 05, 2006

New Taper season announced

And it includes a musical by DAVID MAMET.
Mamet's musical, billed as "a funny and ironic modern-day fable," involves a waitress, the son she wants to take on a nice wilderness vacation for his 10th birthday, and a brouhaha that erupts when she reports a U.S. congressman to the cops for trying to steal her tips. No director or actors are attached to it, Ritchie said, but the writing is "pretty far along."
GOOD GOD.

Anyway, that's from the LATimes article.

Plays by women and minorities are in evidence in the upcoming season, which is a step forward from the what we've seen so far from Ritchie's tenure. Wonder why? Hmm.... I know what you're thinking, and he has this to say:

Ritchie said Thursday that his selections for his second season were "absolutely not" influenced by flak over the elimination of play development programs for Latino, black, Asian and disabled writers.

He said he intended all along to have "the widest possible representation of the diversity of the city, the diversity of artists" — and that matters of timing and availability typically will dictate when those fall into place.
Yeah right...not that I'm complaining, anyway.

All that said, I can't say I'm shouting from the rooftops about this new roster, but I am excited to see In The Continuum at the Kirk Douglas. I'll check out the David Henry Hwang and Lisa Loomer shows, too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Three things:

1. Steven Mikulan has a nice profile of Robert Wilson on the occasion of the crazy, excessive, mostly brilliant The Black Rider at The Ahmanson Theater. The article is here. I'm relatively new to Robert Wilson, so all the insights into his process might be old news to others, but I find it all most enlightening.

2. I feel rather guilty about calling the plays I read yesterday "bad." The playwright in me is calling the reader in me a bastard. Bastard. Anyway, they were all flawed, occasionally interesting plays. Except the one by the journalist who made a fluke fortune on a palm-sized memoir and decided to write scripts. After the first five pages that whole thing was just downright lame. And how many productions does it have under its belt now??

3. Yeah, there's just two. Never mind #3.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Performance Workshop -- Week 5

Week 4 here.
Week 3 here.
Week 2 here.
Week 1 here.

I basically gave the group my whole coming-out story through interpretive dance last night. Kidding about the interpretive dance thing, although I did do a lively rendition of Madonna's "Holiday."

We're starting to schedule for our presentations. I'm actually kind of excited about this because our instructor has asked me to help out with helping to craft the piece because of my background as a dramatist. She seems to have a pretty decent idea of what she's doing, though. I'm looking forward to it all; it's been a while since I've been in front of an audience, aside from this little thing a few months ago -- and I know I've been linking to it about once a month since I first posted but I'm proud of it, okay?! Regardless, I'm finding it so much more satisfying to perform my own stuff. I'm glad I've gotten back to doing this, even if it's just for a little while.

I have to say that I'm feeling a kind of charge lately. And it's not just because of the workshop, although it's done wonders in opening me up to things, I think. I've just been really inspired by a lot of what I've come across lately -- especially that which is non-traditional. Granted, this charge hasn't translated into a super-productive writing streak yet, but hopefully that'll come sooner or later.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Coachella pics

How I got around.


I bailed on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah after a few songs to catch about 20 minutes of Deerhoof's set; that's the best of my bad pics of them. As expected, a serious hightlight.


Kanye was great fun, too. Don't tell anyone, but I might have a tiny little crush.


"Daddy, why are you wearing my backpack? Can I go get a snowcone?"


TV On The Radio's trailer, not that you can tell. I didn't see the band's set, but I saw the trailer!


Another shot in the VVIP section. My powers of infiltrating their secret lairs are unstoppable!


My friend Jenny standing next to Star. Jones'. Husband. Trust me. I saw the Gucci canvas shoes (Gucci? canvas? shoes??), not to mention the cluster of hot guys surrounding him.


Franz Ferdinand. Didn't get too close for these guys, but you know I got up and shook it a little for "Michael!"


I got such great pics of Ted Leo! I got so close to him and The Pharmacists that I probably took a year or two off my hearing. AND I'm officially a fan now.


I had to leave early and didn't see Madge, but here are some pics my friend Jenny took. How great are they?


I love that she's pretending she plays guitar. So cute!


There you have it, folks!

Coachella weekend

Yes, I was there. And I have some good pictures. Unfortunately I had to leave early to make it to my kickass radio play at Unknown Theater in Hollywood, which went swimmingly; my rowdy sex scene, orgasm jokes, and Bear humor got all the right laughs and everything. So yeah, I didn't get to see Madonna's 6-song set. But I saw a bunch of other stuff, which I will hopefully post on the blog before you stop caring. If you ever started. But in case you'd like a little titillation to tide you over, I have three words: Star. Jones'. Husband.

This is just dandy!

Forgive me for showing a little bit of pride about this funny little gem. Read this post and the comments to understand what the heck I'm talking about.