Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

in the Rock and I'm sitting in the LIT trying to charge up my ipod for a good shield against chatty southern passengers on my way back to Los Angeles. They've got free wi-fi here, which is nice. Is that true of all airports? This is the first time I've ever tried it.

I ought to be reading this Hollinghurst novel I've been working on during the break; it's called The Spell. I think it must be the trashiest of all his books -- basically a bunch of shifting perspectives of moneyed, self-absorbed British homosexuals in the late 90s. It's kind of annoying but highly readable. I like the others I've read better; I'd link to old posts about them but this is all a bit too off-the-cuff for that.

I suppose I also ought to be working on the screenplay I'd vowed to finish by today, but I'm not really feeling it. I've outlined to the end, so I think I can finish it up this weekend or shortly thereafter. It's set in Little Rock, so I could be tapping into all the local color I've been soaking up. Although I think after six days home I'm pretty well saturated. I should last a while longer.

Alright, enough of this. I'm going to finish this book now so I can move on to one of the other trashy gay novels I'm toting around in my carry-on. Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

All the theater bloggers

are going on about that John Lahr profile of Harold Pinter in the New Yorker, but have you read the Paul Rudnick story about I Hate Hamlet on Broadway and the alcoholic lunatic playing Barrymore's ghost? So much fun. Unfortunately it's not available online, but run out and get a copy so you can read it. Here's a good excerpt:

I attended the closing-night performance, and afterward I went backstage. On a small table outside Nicol's dressing room there was a bottle containing his blood-pressure medication. I considered replacing the pills with -- what? Arsenic? Rat poison? What could possibly kill him?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

There's a nice article

by Steven Leigh Morris in this week's L.A. Weekly about the absurdity and necessity of doing theater in Los Angeles. He focuses on two productions. The first is a performance piece by a group called ARTEL that I'm curious to check out, thanks to him.

The other is Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living in North Hollywood, which I had the pleasure of seeing over the weekend. I can't say that I walked out in love with the play, but I also can't stop thinking about it. It's up through this weekend and I recommend the production.

But that's a digression. The article covers more logistical territory where that production is concerned, all in service of a larger point. Here are the money quotes:

What hope does an unknown playwright have in a culture lacking arts subsidy, where the theater is held to a commercial standard for its survival, where a very good play like The Glory of Living — already tested in other theaters and approved of by critics — gets an excellent and successful production that costs the theater $5,000? And that’s when the actors aren’t even being paid.

Show me the difference between a culture that persecutes its artists and one that neglects them. Persecution is probably more honorable; at least, it gives the artist credit for being a threat....

In Los Angeles, we critics see theaters put on plays as though in a slaughterhouse, one after another along the production line, busy people rehearsing between cell-phone calls and auditions for other projects, rehearsing for reasons rarely understood with clarity. Too often, the result is a carcass. When artists reach an understanding by reaching for an understanding of what they’re doing, and why, the nature and purpose of doing theater in a city as absurd as Los Angeles begins to emerge.
It's a good article -- equal parts depressing and heartening. Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My favorite line from The Savages

It's lovely, by the way. It's sad and funny and my Laura Linney never ceases to amaze me, even with a weird drab brunette hairdo. She makes it look so easy, but I really do think she's one of our greats.

All that said, my favorite line occurs in a Days Inn in Buffalo with the married guy she's sleeping with because she likes his dog.

"I mean, I have an MFA!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

LATimes' Christopher Knight on Medieval Treasures

On Saturday, Knight said the following in a larger article about the Getty.

"Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art" is the current stellar offering (through Jan. 20)....

Cleveland's museum maintains one of North America's great permanent collections of early Christian, Byzantine and medieval European paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, assembled over six decades by two distinguished connoisseurs, William M. Milliken and William D. Wixom, beginning in 1916. The show quotes Milliken's collecting philosophy -- "to buy quality, never to fill in a gap in the collection." Leaving a gap, he continued, was better than plugging it with "a mediocre work of art."

[A] painted and gilded sculpture by Riemenschneider is the show's signature image. A crisply carved figure of Saint Lawrence elegantly clutches a prayer book in one bony hand and, in the other, the iron grill on which legend says the martyr was summarily roasted because he wouldn't renounce his faith. It's an astounding object.

The Christian saint is carved from linden wood for structural sturdiness -- linden resists warping -- but the wood is also associated in medieval German lore with the Virgin Mary. The complex form is a cylinder overlaid on a lozenge and a sphere, all visually sewn together by a supple S-curve. Gilded for maximum effect, it would flicker in candlelight like a flame. A symbol of heavenly protection and peace is magically materialized.

This incarnate exercise in intricate geometric perfection evokes a universe of faultless order and supreme grace.
On Sunday, Knight listed it as among the best art events of 2007:
The Cleveland Museum of Art holds an incomparable collection of early Christian, Byzantine and medieval European art. The Ohio museum's recent closure for expansion and renovation heralded L.A.'s good fortune, though, as a staggering selection of those treasures visits the Getty Museum (through Jan. 20).
Have you gone yet? I'm going again on Saturday. Go go go!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'm at my current favorite

coffee shop on Beverly working on a script I've been trying to finish since January. I'm determined to finish it this month. I'm making a certain progress; we'll see if I make it.

As for the script, I'm a little confounded by one of my supporting characters.

I'm not one of those writers who hears voices or anything. I base characters on historical figures, people I know, or figure them out based on the scenario I've placed them in. I get down the givens, get them talking, and get to work. I try to organize, but I try not to organize too much so spontaneity can bring all the welcome surprises and I can follow the characters based on the work I've done on them on the front-end.

That's kind of where I am with this piece right now. Funny thing is, I'm about halfway through the piece, and there's this one character who's almost stubbornly reticent about revealing himself. Not just to the other characters, but TO ME. I know I just need to make some decisions, give him some backstory and flesh him out, but every time I try to write a scene for him so I can do that in the context of the work, he ends up either shutting down or drawing out the other character in the scene. It's bizarre. I know why he does it, and I know why I'm writing that he does it, but I also know that if I keep writing him like this, the minute I show the script to anyone for feedback, one of the big notes I'm going to get is, "I don't really know who that guy is."

I don't really know either! No, that's wrong; I actually know exactly who he is...or his essence anyway. I've just yet to find that big satisfying moment for him. I'm sure I will, but I'm halfway through the script, so it's one of those issues I'm starting to fixate on.

I guess I should've outlined more! This thing's starting to get unwieldy anyway. That's just one example. I'm liking the unwieldy, though, so I'm hesitant to back off from it.

And there you have it. The occasional writer's status report from FWL. Back to work.

Friday, December 07, 2007

State of my Address to the Union of People who Read this Blog

It's been almost three years since I started this thing! Can you believe it? Whole NATIONS have formed and dissolved in that amount of time. They have, haven't they?

Regardless, in case you were concerned, I'm going to keep writing on this thing until I get a better offer somewhere else. Probable topics: JW, the opera, the LAPhil, movies, gay stuff, pop music, traffic, and my friends.

As for theater, if you want to know what's good out here in L.A., email me. I'm seeing something tonight, Sunday, and next Sunday, and I'll probably have some opinions.

If you want to know who's always doing new work by untested local playwrights, it's Lucid-By-Proxy, and all those people are really nice and not crazy. These are two qualities I admire in people who run theater companies. Yes I'm sucking up, but they already know I like them, so there.

A Disclaimer: I like a lot of non-local playwrights, honest I do. Some of my best friends are New York playwrights! I'm just all about community building, especially in L.A., so premieres by local playwrights excite me.

Oh, and Rushforth Productions is new, but their first production was a hit and I see great things in their future. And the fundraiser last night was a big success, in case you were wondering.

And to finish, History Boys at the Ahmanson is more conservative than I expected, but nice too, and I loved the singing.

Happy early blogoversary Frank! The real date's the 15th, but it's a Saturday and I'm seeing a movie and going to the LAPhil, so I don't expect I'll be posting then.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Message from Frank's Wild Lunch

Until further notice, there will be no more posting on Mike Huckabee and his continued surge in the polls and hearts of Good Christian People everywhere.

As God has apparently decided he should be president, it seems pointless to continue questioning his ability to govern or his viability as a presidential candidate.

Although, I do wonder if God has spoken to the victims of Wayne Dumond lately.

Come hear some music tonight

I know I posted this yesterday, but I'm posting again, in part because I left the musicians out of my initial post. There are 10 acts, so it should be a pretty exciting evening, and at only 5 bucks, it looks like a steal to me.

Rushforth Productions' CREATIVE SOUND SYMPOSIUM is Thursday, December 6 at Bootleg Theater. All proceeds benefit Rushforth's upcoming production of IL BIDONE in January.

Rushforth Productions Presents

A Creative Sound Symposium

We invite you to an eclectic evening of music.
From the unplugged and acoustic to the funk-electro-alternative.


2220 Beverly Blvd, L.A., CA 90057
cash bar


bonnie piesse
evan vidar
whitney lockert
frank wood
paul adelstein
abbot kinney
king elementary
nathanial castro
the human value
goodbye ian

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Makvan Mouloodzadeh

was executed today in Iran, in spite of an order by the Iranian Chief Justice to nullify his death sentence. He was killed in prison, and neither his family nor his lawyer knew about it until afterwards.

I'm paraphrasing from the IGLHRC's press release. You can read the whole thing here.

New So Cal theater page

I may be late to the party on this, but I found this website while doing some googling, and it looks bookmark-worthy. It's called Theater Times. Check it out here.

Looking for something to do tomorrow?

I'm working with a hot new theater group called Rushforth Productions, and they're putting on an evening of music they're calling a "Creative Sound Symposium." It's taking place at Bootleg Theater on Beverly Boulevard, smack-dab in the middle of that diamond-in-the-rough all you civilians like to call the Rampart District, but I refer to affectionately as "my old hood."

It's just 5 bucks for a night of everything from acoustic to funk-electro-alternative. Doors open at 7:30pm. More details are here.

It should be a fun night, so come and bring a few friends. I'll be rather fashionably late, but I hope to see you there. The original Tommy's is just down the street if you want to close the show down with me!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The elephant seals

have become a bit of a tradition. They park themselves on a beach north of San Simeon for a couple of months every year to birth, breed, and molt. They make funny noises and throw dirt on themselves too.

Thanksgiving Day

Since there's not much open on Thanksgiving day, JW and I headed to a state park called Montana de Oro to go on their walk along the bluffs.

Montana de Oro means "Mountain of Gold" in Spanish.

From the bluffs you can see the town of Morro Bay, but I didn't get a good picture. Not that I was trying in this example.

This seagull gets work as a model, but what she really wants to do is act.

There's a spot along the trail where you can take some steps off the bluffs and onto a beach, and JW and I checked out the tidal pools.

The starfish was the biggest find.

The rest of Wednesday

I think that's a good title for something. Don't take it! It's mine!

JW insisted I take pictures of the pretty trees outside a winery in Paso Robles. 

I like this pic a little better, even if that big tree's blocking the view.

Again with the seagull!

The view from our hotel in San Simeon.

A few more Pismo pics

I did not intend to take so long to get these online. I swear! Click on them to get the full effect.

I like this pic because you can see the city rising up the hill behind the campground there. I like that old car too.

I took a lot of pictures of seagulls on this trip.

A pretty flower along the trail.