Thursday, December 28, 2006

I keep meaning

to post about how I sat through Inland Empire before I left Los Angeles. Word to the wise -- unless you're a diehard Lynch fan, wait for the video, then skip to the last forty-five minutes or so for the scene at Hollywood and Vine. It won't make any sense to you, but I sat through the whole thing and it didn't make any sense to me either.

It's a great scene, though.

Still in Arkansas

I saw three deer on the drive home from Little Rock this evening. One of them was rather tragically lit by a stopped SUV's flashing hazards. From then on I drove 45 all the way to the parents' house.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

writer-director Joey Lauren Adams

Fellow Arkansas native Joey Lauren Adams wrote and directed a movie called Come Early Morning and Dad and I ran up to Little Rock to check it out. It's a fine addition to the Arkansas movie canon (I'm not actually sure what's in that canon, except Sling Blade and One False Move, but those are fine movies, too), and if it's showing anywhere near you, I recommend it, not only because it's a good Arkansas movie, but because we need Ashley Judd to be in movies that aren't lame. I love Ashley Judd and I'll even watch her in lame movies because she's so precious and fun to watch, but it's a real treat to see her do such a nice job in a little Arkansas movie.

I think Adams might've found her calling. As intimate, small-town, character indies go, this one's pretty sharp. The script is solid, the performances are strong, it looks attractive and authentic. She got a good cast, too -- Tim Blake Nelson, Diane Ladd, and let's not forget the lovely Ashley Judd....

Keep making movies, Joey! And set them in Arkansas if you's nice to see home up on the big screen. And keep casting Ashley Judd! We love her!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eurydice at Circle X

I took off from work on Thursday thinking I had plenty of time to run into Hollywood, dash into Amoeba for a couple of gifts, grab a bite to eat, and get to the Ford Theater in time for the curtain of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice in their black box theater. Amoeba was a pretty smooth ride, but I neglected to get a bag and didn't want to carry around a stack of CDs while I went wandering off in search of a bite to eat, so I had to head back to the car, and when I got there I noticed that my back seat might as well have had a sign above it that said "break into me" with all of the boxes and packages in the back seat, so I had to move everything to the trunk, then I headed over to GroundWork, where a good-looking bearded guy warmed me up an overpriced pre-packaged sandwich, but he had a nice smile, so I didn't mind.

Just to digress, how great is it that beards are in right now? Love it. I actually tried to grow out my thin, patchy excuse for a beard over Thanksgiving week, but by the time Sunday rolled around and I had to sing at the 9am service, I really didn't want to show my face around people I knew, so I shaved it off. I did take a few pictures of me with a week's worth of moustache, which should be kinda funny. If I ever get that film developed and I'm not too embarrassed, I'll post a pic or two.

Anyway, all of that took so much time that by the time I got back to my car at the Arclight, it was about 10 til curtain and I started panicking. Not too badly, mind you, because I have surprising luck at getting in my seat before the lights dim; the only time I remember being late was in Pittsburgh, when I was reviewing the show for the City Paper. That made me feel like an ass, but I gave them a good review to make up for it. Not undeservedly, either. It was a fun show.

Okay, so I raced up to the Ford and bounded up the steps and into my seat on the front row with just enough time to catch my breath. There were very few seats left and I didn't want to fuss or crawl over people so I just took the easiest one to get into. And it did take me a while to catch my breath, which was disconcerting. I'm a little out of shape. As I was catching my breath, I noticed that I managed to sit two seats down from playwright Henry Ong; that was nice, as I haven't seen him since I was running regularly with Frontrunners. I should start doing that again.

So I should say that if you see Eurydice, the front row isn't a terrible seat, but there are definitely better seats to be had. I think the set and lighting must be quite nice, but it's hard to get the full effect because of the sightlines on the front row; it's a pretty steep angle.

I've been doing this thing lately where I sit down in the theater, the lights go down, they come up, and within the first few moments I think to myself, "I could leave right now." This is sometimes a reflection on the play, sometimes a reflection on the production, and sometimes a reflection on my mood. I think in this instance it was my mood. I had stayed late 30 minutes at work because I was going to be away for over a week and wanted to make sure everything was taken care of, done all this running around after, and got to the show so late I had this odd seat; anyway, I had trouble focusing.

Until Eurydice dies, that is...that was a great moment, nicely realized. I got a little more settled in, a little more involved. I liked the hotel room made of string and the love notes and some of the stage business of the show, and the elevator and all the water was great fun.

As for the script, it's inventive and interesting, nicely paced, too. The sense of whimsy in Ruhl's poeticism is what I like best about her writing, although I think my favorite of her plays is still Melancholy Play. I think every play should have at least one character turn into an almond!

When Eurydice was over, I have to say that I did leave the theater wondering exactly what the show was about. I feel like it wants to be a deeply felt examination of grieving, and I should be a puddle of tears by the time the show's over, like the puddles of water all over the stage. I dunno, maybe I'm wrong, or maybe I was too busy thinking about who was left on my Christmas list to participate in the show the way everyone wanted me to.

There's something in this post about modernity detaching us from emotional engagement, but I've got to fold the laundry and finish packing, and a friend is IMing me, so I don't really have time to tie it all up for you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Everyone stop what you're doing

and go see Children of Men NOW. Alfonso Cuaron is a genius. Clive Owen is amazing. Alfonso Cuaron is a genius. I said that already. It bears repeating. GO GO GO!


I'm very pleased to be on vacation. I think excessive blogging may ensue. I've got some lost time to make up for....

I'm off to Arkansas on Christmas Day, but don't worry; I can still blog there. They're more progressive in The Natural State than you might think. They've got this crazy internet stuff there, too! AND, they just elected this cool Democrat named Mike Beebe to be their governor over that Hutchinson creep from the Lewinskygate era. Remember him? No? Well good, because he's a LOSER. The Huckabee days are over! Hooray!

Speaking of Arkansas, I've been meaning to link to a fellow Arkansawyer for a while who emailed me a couple of months ago with a friendly blogger greeting. Turns out he's living in Hot Springs, just a short drive from my parents' place in Hot Springs Village, AND he's a native of Heber Springs, Arkansas, which is where I went to high school, AND he's Family! Isn't that nice? I like his blog; we should all read it and encourage him to post more.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've written on this blog before

about the fact that if there is a stereotypically Hollywood conversation going on anywhere in a restaurant or a coffee shop, I will end up at the table next to it. Tonight is no exception.

JW and I celebrated our third anniversary at Le Petit Bistro on La Cienega. Le Petit Bistro is a charming little French place with tables extremely close to each other and a patio on the outside. We were seated out there, not realizing that the patio is apparently a smoking patio. People began lighting up all around us. The couple at the table next to us would soon join in the puffing, with the twentysomething actor date pontificating about one thing or another. If I'm not mistaken, it's against the law to smoke in enclosed spaces in California, and, even though we were in an enclosed space, people were smoking. I found it odd. I mentioned it to JW. Then I noticed a sign saying that smoking was allowed only when awnings were open. There were no awnings open on this patio on this particular evening. And yet, people were smoking. And the wait staff was tolerant of this; in fact, I even saw one waiter light someone's cigarette.

Although I have no beef with smokers, having enjoyed the pasttime myself, since moving to California I have grown accustomed to wearing a pair of pants more than once before I have to wash them because they smell of the fake boho actor's and his waify singer girlfriend's American Spirits. That said, I did not make a fuss. I didn't even request another table, even though the ridiculousness of the conversation I was being subjected to (combined with the realization that I was now going to have to plan another load of laundry so my parents wouldn't accuse me of taking up smoking again if I was going to take home my olive green sweater for the holidays) was enough to make me want to find a new restaurant, much less a new table. I commented on the smoking, the lack of open awnings, and then I set the subject aside, pausing to listen to JW tell me about his day. All of a sudden, I heard some incomprehensible near-shrieking from the waify singer at the table next to me (I'm exaggerating slightly, but it was beyond intrusive), followed by the sensitive actor bf calming her down and trying to encourage her to forget all about us and enjoy her dinner before proceeding to continue feeding her with his fork. Apparently she took offense at even the slightest comment on the presence of smokers in our midst.

Now if you know me, I would hope you would agree that I tend to have a "live and let live" attitude towards things. I am not the type to protest loudly about my lungs being polluted with other people's toxins and how I'm surrounded by a room full of slaves to big tobacco. I wasn't even complaining, nor did I ask the wait staff to find us another table, which is why I was speechless at her histrionics, which were hard to ignore considering how close their table was to ours. Because you know, as much as I wanted to tell actorboy that his girlfriend DID NOT KNOW WHO STANISLAVSKY WAS AND WAS ONLY HUMORING HIM BY NODDING, and as much as I wanted to tell waify singer girl that A LOT OF WOMEN NOWADAYS TEND TO PRIDE THEMSELVES ON NOT RELYING ON MEN TO FEED THEM, I kept those thoughts in my head. More often than not I find that this is the custom when sharing public space with strangers, no? I am used to being seated next to these people in coffee shops and restaurants, but they're starting to become hostile towards me. Is this a sign? Do I need to get out of L.A.?

These are the thoughts that went through my head as I, too suddenly uncomfortable to speak, listen to JW respond dismissively, "we're surrounded by assholes." I don't do that often enough. I usually just stew. This is one of the many things I love about this man. Happy anniversary JW!

Anyway, the wine finally came and we became preoccupied enough to have a more comfortable evening, but I still had to be subjected to these people. I kept having to ask JW to repeat himself because of all of it. Because, you see, the actor really wants to work in theater and is SO frustrated with the theater in Los Angeles because people don't really do it for ANY REASON except to get noticed by the film industry, whereas in New York it's A DESTINATION, and ALL ABOUT THE ART, and he's still kinda damaged by his two-and-a-half year relationship with his past girlfriend and he's just CONFUSED, and she's really into being a singer with INTEGRITY, which of course makes him namedrop FIONA APPLE, which is really just an excuse for him to talk about how brilliant P.T. ANDERSON is and what a GREAT MOVIE MAGNOLIA is, which she says she HATES just to TEASE HIM and he tells her she needs to REVISIT IT before he realizes she's JUST GIVING HIM A HARD TIME and I wanted to BANG MY HEAD AGAINST THE TABLE TO MAKE IT STOP OR AT LEAST LIGHT THEM A COUPLE OF CIGARETTES IN THE HOPE THAT IT WOULD MAKE THEM TALK JUST A LITTLE BIT LESS!

WORD TO THE WISE: If you ever meet me for drinks, coffee, or a meal at any point in the near or distant future, insist on a quiet, corner table, away from the masses. I'm cursed.

my first meme!

Meg asked me via her blog (I'm on my Mac, which is less link-friendly, so check the previous post or my links on the right for her fun blog, Xoom) to post five things people don't know about me. I'll see if I can think of some:

1. I have a grad school transcript floating around there somewhere with Fs on it. Teach For America fall-out. Most days I forget I even took those classes!

2. Convoluted storylines confuse the hell out of me; for example, as much as I love Chinatown, I don't know if I've ever fully kept up with the plot. The sister/daugther stuff I totally get, of course, but still....

3. I miss Arkansas more than I let on.

4. A small part of me has been disappointed with every P.J. Harvey album since Rid Of Me -- no wait, since Four-Track Demos. And yet, I keep coming back!

5. I don't really like the early, drug-addled Sam Shepard plays as much as the more coherent and conventional stuff in the 70s and 80s. And as much as it might be a required text to name-drop in pomo playwrighty conversations, I honestly think there's something highly silly about Tooth of Crime (although I haven't read it in 10 years and I've never seen a production -- I'm more than open to the possibility that I might be totally floored by it now). I should add, too, that I did want to direct Cowboys #2 when I was in college. But seriously, give me his American family dramas as vehicle for subversive trippy cosmic fatalism like Curse of the Starving Class and Buried Child and I am more than satisfied.

Suddenly I want to go on about what I like best about Sam Shepard and some of my experiences with his plays.... And to think, all that came out of noticing him on my bookshelf as I was wracking my brain for a #5!

I've been meaning

to post on how elegant and wonderfully sung The Coronation of Poppea was; JW and I saw it last Wednesday. I have to say, I was seriously dreading the four-hour length, but it even pulled me out of some nonsense I was stewing over to relish the Susan Graham/Kurt Streit hotness. JW was even more delighted than I was (big surprise, I know); he saw it twice in a week! He's even taken to calling me Lucano. See Meg's great post about the show for context on that, and just a more complete assessment.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Tree and Sufjan

JW and I got an artificial tree over the weekend. We have this lovely picture window in our apartment and It was just screaming for a nice tree. Today I ran out and got some lights for it and spent the evening decorating. Tonight was the last night I could really do it, since we've got something every other night between now and next Thursday. Ugh, the holidays are exhausting, but I just couldn't bear to think of us putting that tree up and leaving it bare until Saturday afternoon, so I did the bulk of it tonight.

I write all that because I was browsing at Amoeba with JW on Saturday (JW got the new John Adams discs, and when we walked out of the store I said, "well I can cross THAT off my gift list for you."), and I noticed the new Sufjan Stevens Christmas boxed set. I didn't buy it, but they played a little clip from it on NPR on Monday and it was so precious I ran back to Amoeba tonight and snatched it up. All during work I daydreamed about having some nice indie Christmas carols on the stereo while I hung the lights on the tree. And that daydream became a reality tonight!

I feel like I've got some catching up to do on cute little Sufjan. Always been mildly curious, but based on these CDs (I've listened to three of the five in the set), I'm pretty charmed. Now I'm just curious as to what his Arkansas CD is going to sound like!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

When I left the movie theater

as the credits were rolling on Borat this afternoon, I went to the men's room at the Los Feliz 3, which is undergoing some renovations so all the urinals have been removed from the walls. I walked to the last stall and pushed the door open to find a man sitting on the toilet, pants down, casually leafing through what I'd assumed was one of the free magazines he'd picked up out in the lobby. He just as casually looked up at me just before I said, "sorry," quickly averted eye-contact and pulled the stall door closed. A few seconds later, as I was zipping up and flushing, the guy sneezed loudly and said "excuse me," as if to somehow assert his civility from behind the unlatchable stall door and his copy of the new Learning Annex listings. I washed my hands in a rush and charged out the bathroom door, a little spooked by the bizarre, and yet, after that movie, so appropriate.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This week

I'm all about tangible goals. Ten pages on the play, ten pages on the screenplay, an outline on the other screenplay, a rough draft of the short story. Or more, if I can manage. I've blocked off time during the week, I'm trying to write in the mornings again, heck I'm even using a planner! And hopefully the weekend will help me get finished with anything that's left over. And a first draft of SOMETHING by January 4. We'll see how it goes. A small sense of accomplishment goes a long way, my friends. Hopefully I'll keep it up....

Mabou Mines Dollhouse at UCLALive

Best Nora I have ever seen. Still, I couldn't help but find the whole event a little frustrating. Okay, a lot frustrating, but I don't want to go into it. Go see it if you're at all curious. There's some gorgeous stuff in it, and it's on Goldstar and up until Sunday.

I went online a did a little reading about the production, and I found all these interesting insights about it, but am I the only one who made the connection to David Lynch? The red curtains, the dream sequences, the strobes, the little people? I don't think the comparison's too much of a stretch....