Friday, June 29, 2007

I've been struggling with

Icky Thump. After I bought the new White Stripes album I called my friends Matt and Trista -- you know, the ones who abandoned me and moved to New York -- and left them a voice mail: "I'm just wondering. Are we over The White Stripes yet?"

It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it's, you know, The White Stripes. They do what they do and they're amazing as usual and it's fine and I'm not freaking out about how mind-blowing it is, it's just the next White Stripes album. Of course it's good and I swear Meg's bass drum is gonna blow out my car speakers if they aren't trashed already, but I'm wanting to feel the magic again, you know?

I just read Kate Sullivan's article about the new album in the LAWeekly, and she's done a great job of putting my response to the album in perspective:

It’s obvious that Icky Thump isn’t as bracingly groundbreaking as White Blood Cells (or The White Stripes, or De Stijl). But it’s also obvious that that’s okay. You see, aesthetically, if not commercially, the White Stripes were an instant classic from the start — and like all instant classics, they’re kind of inherently original, and perennially special. No need to force it. You can only invent peppermint candy once. After that, the main thing is to enjoy it while you got it. Christmas won’t last forever.
Maybe that's why I keep running out and buying their records. When this new one came out, I didn't even think much about it or anticipate it like I do other bands, I just knew I had to go to Amoeba and pick it up, having to maneuver through Hollywood traffic and park on the sixth level of the Arclight garage to do so. Oh well, I guess even Christmas is kind of a labor sometimes (or any other celebratory holiday of your metaphorical choosing), but it's still necessary, as much for the present as the past, right?

When I was in Pittsburgh, I was on the Graduate Student Association's social committee at CMU, and I took it upon myself to find a really cool band to bring to campus. The White Stripes were touring for White Blood Cells at the time. I emailed with their promoter a few times, but he couldn't justify bringing them to us because they were playing a place called Metropol near downtown around the same time we were looking to host them. When I couldn't get them, I really didn't have any more ideas and just gave up. It's too bad, too; it would've been fun to say I pulled off getting The Stripes to campus. Or heck, anybody else remotely cool, but I think I also had a play to produce at the time.

Even though I didn't get them on campus, I desperately wanted to see them live. I almost gave up because I didn't have anyone to go with me (where were you, Matt?), but I had been cyberflirting with this guy Jim and, even though he'd never heard of them, he agreed to go with me.

The show wasn't sold out, but they were carding everyone going in. I dug in my billfold for my license but it was nowhere to be found. We got turned away. Needless to say, I was mortified and apologized profusely to Jim; it was especially embarrassing because it was our first time to meet in person. He was a good sport about it, though; thank goodness he'd never heard of them. We walked over to Lucky's, a nearby gay bar, and had a couple of beers. Somewhere along the way I found my license; it was stuck to a credit card I was in the process of maxing out.

Aww, Lucky's! That brings back memories! Actually, Jim brings back memories too, but I'm not going to share them with you. Maybe I'll tell you a little about Lucky's some other time, though. Zack, you ever go there?

It's too bad I didn't get into Metropol so I could say I saw them way back when, but I finally did see The White Stripes live with B at the Greek here in 2003; it was one of those mind-blowing shows that comes around a few times a decade. Definitely magical, definitely Christmas.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What I've learned this week.

Without "Louie, Louie," there would be no "More than a Feeling." And without "More than a Feeling," there would be no "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

From these simple riffs revolutions are begun!

Also, I just figured out exactly how indebted Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry on their Own" is to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Oh, and when I say "indebted to," I mean "lifted from." My friend B was racking her brain about it the other day, before stereogum's comments saved the day. Here's a paraphrase of our IMs about it:

B: That song's a rip-off of something, but I can't figure out what it is.
K: Aren't all her songs rip-offs?
B: Yeah, but that one's a TOTAL rip-off.

Funny thing is, derivative as Winehouse may be, both B and I love that crazy beehived cutter. I've even got JW listening to her CD. And besides, isn't one person's "derivative," another person's "po-mo homage?" I like to think so.

Regardless, I like to be mindful of the following when listening to new music that sounds vaguely familiar: if you've got to be derivative, at least be derivative of quality. JW heartily agrees.

In fact, I think I stole that phrase from him.

Exciting things

are happening over here at Frank's Wild Lunch, although you wouldn't notice it by the frequency of my posts lately.

All the same, this is post #798. Can you believe it? I'm of the mind that this blog peaked somewhere in the fall/winter of 2005, but I still try to plug away at it for all you diehards out there. Thanks for sticking with me! I still churn out a decent post every so often, don't I?

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm desperate

for a new post. Don't think I'm not aware of this.

I had a big cappuccino at around 4:30pm and a double-shot of espresso at around 7pm. I think I'll get to bed sometime early tomorrow morning if I'm lucky. The good news is I made a little headway on the screenplay I've been picking at like a scab for the past few months.

I think I might've figured out how to finish the screenplay I abandoned like an unwanted child last year, which was a nice feeling. Although I refuse to do real work on it until I get a first draft of the scabby one I mentioned above.

The new screenplay that I pledged to write this month with Script Frenzy will most certainly not be written this month. I was hoping to start it after scabby, but now that the unwanted child has tracked me down, it'll have to wait until I make things right with her.

Lest you think I'm only writing screenplays lately, I'm hearing my new play for the first time tomorrow. I finished the first draft of this on New Year's Day and have done a few touch-ups since, but I've yet to do a serious rewrite, so I think it'll be nice to hear it and see what needs to be done. I'd invite you all to come, but it's rather informal and a little rough right now, besides. I like it though. I'll keep you posted.

What else? Oh...Customary Monsters was a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace this year. The rejection letter's up on my fridge as we speak!

Monday, June 18, 2007

I got scolded

by ETC for removing her from my blogroll after she didn't post for somewhere around 6 months. She's back now, in an attempt to blog every day for 21 days. Check her out here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

synopsis by JW

The following is an exchange between JW and me after I told him that last night's late movie was going to be the Brentwood mopefest, Friends With Money.

JW: Ugh, is this that movie where everyone's wearing beige?

(slight pause)

KW: Uhm, I think so.
Yep, that just about sums it up.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Morrissey at the Hollywood Bowl

I don't know about you, but when I was in high school it seemed like Morrissey t-shirts were standard issue for sexually confused teenage boys. This is one of the reasons why it was so amusing to see him in concert at the Bowl on Friday. The L.A. Morrissey/Smiths fanbase is largely Latino, as some may know, and while there may still be the legions of depressive, sensitive types there were in the early 90s, I saw a lot of tough-guys and their girlfriends in attendance. I overheard one guy say in passing, "There are some GAY motherfuckers at this show!" The surprise in his voice was so impressive it was hard to get distracted by the homophobia. It made me want to pull him aside and give him a little personal history....

By the time I was in high school in Arkansas, Morrissey had pretty well established himself as a solo artist apart from his success as The Smiths. I was socially savvy enough to detect enough ambiguity in his persona to think it unwise to form too much of an attachment. There was enough alternative cred in The Smiths that my town's indie rock tastemakers deemed them acceptable, but Morrissey without the guitar-rock cool of Johnny Marr just seemed too fey to me to be considered listenable.

The summer after my sophomore year I went to a theater camp in northeast Arkansas and spent three weeks with kids from all over the state putting on a production of Babes in Arms. One of the guys was just that kind of depressive sensitive type, and he IDOLIZED Morrissey. He had that standard issue t-shirt and he wore it proudly every day. Although we spent at least a little time talking about the girls at the camp, I think we might've found kindred spirits in each other as a result of the hesitancy and anxiety in our voices when we did so. Who knows? Maybe that kid's happily married with three kids now, but something makes me think otherwise. Either way, I hope "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" isn't his favorite song anymore.

Even after my friend's championing, I still resisted Morrissey until one of the Hendrix Queens (more on them the next time I'm feeling confessional...maybe) recommended I check out Bona Drag after I panned Southpaw Grammar in the entertainment pages of our college paper. I was pretty well hooked by then.

So you can imagine it was a warm, wonderful experience getting to see the Moz over the weekend for the first time. I've attempted to get tickets to his shows just about every time he plays in L.A. ever since I moved here almost five years ago, but the damn things sell out so fast I never stood a chance. When he started up with "The Queen is Dead" my face flushed and I must've smiled so big; rock-n-roll nostalgia sure does make me feel like I'm growing older, but it can be such a nice feeling too, you know?

About 20 minutes into the show, it seemed like dozens of fans, both male and female, had already thrown themselves onto the stage and at the singer. He had shed the coat of his white suit and was strutting around in a half-unbuttoned black shirt -- one which he dramatically took off for a self-conscious pose at the end of "Let Me Kiss You," before running offstage for a quick costume change. In the midst of all this, I turned to JW and said, "He's like the Tom Jones of modern rock." JW nodded even though he couldn't hear me; he'd put in his earplugs, mostly because of the teenage Latina all in black and screaming at the top of her lungs intermittently and without warning.

I wasn't the only one who made the Tom Jones comparison, as I found a critic had made a similar observation when I was searching online Saturday for reviews of the show. I was going to link to that article, but I can't seem to find it after Googling for some time. I think I found something better, though -- a fan's pics of the show on her MySpace page.

Now that I've waxed nostalgic and taken a look at those pictures, I want to rephrase my earlier statement. He's like the Tom Jones of modern rock, but foxier, and you know, good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Say it ain't so, Mike!

Am I the only one who thinks that this looks really bad?
Laura Kightlinger is suing Mike White in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming she gave him her script, "We're All Animals," to read only to discover he was making a film called "Year of the Dog," which the suit contends relied on the script about her life as a cat rescuer.

[...]

A survey of the two scripts shows some similarities in basic plot elements: In each, the lead character loses her pet — one dies and one wanders off; each brings her animal rights activism to the workplace, where she is eventually fired; each begins hoarding animals; and each visits a farm. Most other key plot points and characters differ.
I dunno, Mike....

I'll try to think the best here. Really I will. I've always liked Mike White movies. Even when I don't like them I still like them. His new flick has been on my short list since it came out and I haven't had a chance to get to it yet. I'm sure I'll see it eventually, but I'm guessing the experience will be bittersweet.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

This is in response

to Adam's response to Laura's response about conservative theater. I started to write a comment on his blog but it was getting long, so I thought I'd bring it here.

I agree with Adam in regards to a certain definition of conservatism, but I also think there are all kinds of ways that conservatism manifests itself in the theater, whether it's in familiar family dramas that critics like David Cote get worked up about, or plays in which the status quo is comfortably reinforced, or plays where a puritanical moralism requires the punishment of characters for perceived transgressions, etc.

Safe programming choices are reflective of conservatism, as well. We know all about that from the My Name is Rachel Corrie dust-up, but it's evident in subtler ways, like the trotting out of tested warhorses, certain theaters' reliance on light fare, those aforementioned family dramas, or realities of the new play development process. And theater artists pander to audiences in all kinds of ways, either by cloaking their racy subversive ideas in more palatable forms, or by omitting them for fear they won't be accepted. It usually seems like these decisions are motivated more by anxieties on the part of artistic directors or artists themselves than a clear, complete understanding of the audience. Either that or there's a mistrust or lack of faith in the audience that overrides artistic conviction.

And let's not forget Stoppard's a conservative. Granted, he's not exactly conservative in a Neocon kind of way, but I've always found this funny, considering the level of formal innovation on display in his work. I'm usually most frustrated by some of the sentiments of artistic conservatism in his plays; I just saw Travesties at Open Fist and some of the anti-avant-garde bluster in that piece seems to point the way to the "cricket bat" speech in The Real Thing; I find the righteous indignation in both sentiments kind of tiresome. I also make allowances because I detect a certain "artist-in-conflict-with-himself" investigation going on. Plus he so often pits ideas against their opposites without necessarily advocating a position. I'm right about this, right? I'm a huge Stoppard fan, overall, but I also get a little cagey when I talk about him.

I'm often caught off-guard by my own conservatism, both in my writing and in my life. I am reserved in ways that I find unshakable. It can be frustrating. Sometimes it can be a relief.

I'd venture to guess there are a lot more conservatives in theater than we might think. Or a lot of theater professionals aren't nearly as liberal as they'd like to think they are. And I think it's beneficial to be mindful of those contradictions in ourselves and in others.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I've been memed

Malachy tagged me, so here goes:

Bloggers must post these rules and provide eight random facts about themselves. In the post, the tagged blogger tags eight other bloggers and notify them that they have been tagged.

1. I'm an Eagle Scout, unless the powers that be discover that I'm gay and take the award away from me. I'd gladly give it to them, but they can't have my congratulatory letter from Governor Clinton.

2. Out of the many books I've begun reading this year, I've only finished one(Play it as it Lays) and it kind of saddens me. I have, however, read somewhere between 20 and 30 plays. A few of them were good, too.

3. I went through a big Cormac McCarthy phase in college. I read three or four of his novels, and I remember being completely entranced by his prose, but I also remember being rather confounded by both Child of God, which includes defiling of corpses, and Sutree which, if I'm not mistaken, includes defiling of watermelons (or was that also Child of God?). I would love to be in Oprah's Book Club so I could read The Road, but she never asked me to join. I probably wouldn't finish it anyway.

4. I gave a good college try to reading Ulysses right before I started grad school. I was sitting in a lawn chair in my apartment, which was my only furniture because I was waiting for the movers to show up with my stuff. I got at least 100 pages in and found it more accessible than I thought it would be. And then grad school started and I didn't make time to continue. Sadly, this was not the first book I started but never finished, nor would it be the last, as evidenced by #2.

5. I get really bad headaches on occasion. When I was growing up my mother called them allergy headaches, and maybe they are, but sometimes I think they might be migraines. They get so bad I have to go to sleep, and I've been known to lose my lunch if I don't. I had a terrible one when I was living Houston and I got caught in traffic trying to get home to bed and had to wretch in the passenger's seat. I had one yesterday and slept from 7-9:30 when I got home from work, then I woke up, had some chicken noodle soup, started reading Lisa Kron's Well, and went back to sleep at 11pm. I intend to finish Well, as it's a play. I finish plays. Except for the Coast of Utopia trilogy. I only got halfway through the first one.

6. I'll be happy to vote for Hillary, Obama, or Edwards in the general election, but I'm thinking of voting for Kucinich in the primary.

7. I had a fresh peach with my breakfast this morning. I love peaches and I'm thrilled they're in season now.

8. I still buy CDs and the last one I bought was the new Elliott Smith two-disc set. I have yet to acclimate fully to the whole itunes/ipod thing and it makes me feel old.

Okay, I'm supposed to tag new people. I'm not tagging eight, but Meg, P. Alan, Zack, Johnna, and Libby, have at it if'n you want to.