Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Vowell is always such a pleasure to read

Does it sound bitter of me to suggest that she got a boost in her literary career by having a surname that is one twin consonant short of a phonetic term? Probably.

Read and enjoy:

On Monday night at the Democratic National Convention, Caroline Kennedy introduced a tribute to her uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, by pointing out, "If your child is getting an early boost in life through Head Start or attending a better school or can go to college because a Pell Grant has made it more affordable, Teddy is your senator, too."

To my surprise, I started to cry. Started to cry like I was watching the last 10 minutes of "Brokeback Mountain" instead of C-SPAN. This was whimpering brought on by simple, spontaneous gratitude.

I paid my way through Montana State University with student loans, a minimum-wage job making sandwiches at a joint called the Pickle Barrel, and — here come the waterworks — Pell Grants. Thanks to Pell Grants, I had to work only 30 hours a week up to my elbows in ham instead of 40.
more here.

I see that Frank Rich agrees with me...

I said almost exactly the same thing the other day (McCain is an idiot):
The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there’s a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she’s a woman. That’s what happens when you listen to the TV news echo chamber. Not only is the whole premise ludicrous, but it is every bit as sexist as the crude joke McCain notoriously told about Janet Reno, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.

More at the NYTimes here

Art fun today!

A day of culture in NYC featuring the Met, the Cloisters and HAMLET in the park. A full report to follow...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Helpful answer hotline...

I have to write a love SONNET for english help???
i must write a sonnet that rhymes with ababcdcdefef format it is for english class. i was never a poet i tried to do this sonnet thing for 2 days now i cant do it 10 syllables 14 lines. could any1 help me to write a love sonnet? - chris a

Dear Chris A,

I find that nothing quite makes one feel the urge to write a love sonnet like having your heart drop-kicked, stomped and broken into a thousand tiny pieces.

Either that, or tell a hot guy to reproduce (see Shakespeare's sonnets 1 through 17)


NG McClernan

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain is an idiot

And he just lost the election for believing the hype. The "women who will vote for McCain out of spite" group was made into a much bigger deal by the media than it actually was.

And virtually NO woman who wanted Hillary for president will want a pro-gun, pro "intelligent design", anti-abortion evangelical like Sarah Palin for vice president.

And the right wing of the Republican party sure ain't gonna vote for no wimmen for VP.

I'm so looking forward to this election. I expect it to be a landslide.

the Krug-Man's latest column is smokin'!

My first reaction to Bill Clinton's convention speech was sheer professional jealousy: nobody, but nobody, has his ability to translate economic wonkery into plain, forceful English. In effect, Mr. Clinton provided an executive summary of the new Census report on income, poverty and health insurance — but he did it so eloquently, so seamlessly, that there was no sense that he was giving his audience a lecture.

My second reaction was that in Mr. Clinton’s speech — as in the speeches by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (this column was filed before Barack Obama spoke on Thursday night) — one heard the fundamental difference between the two parties. Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.

Read the rest here

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Barak has been officially nominated!

I preferred Hillary for the nominee but nevertheless - this is a great day for this country.

And I want to point out that the USA owes so much to the Black community - from the earliest days of the country, when black people were kidnapped, packed into hellish vessels, shackled, beatened, starved, and raped. Then held in captivity, and again, horribly abused, and even when finally freed, lynched and terrorized and denied the right to vote. To this very day - the Black community is still given the least respect, resources and credit.

Not to mention how much the cultural life of the US owes to the talents and hard work of Black people. Only when I left the US and went to Ireland did I realize how much we owe our concept of coolness to Black people.

I do believe that this is FINALLY A TURNING POINT for this country, and Obama must become president!

Many people at the convention cried at the moment of nomination - I admit I teared up too.

Also - I'm as heterosexual as they come, but I think Donna Brazile is kinda hot.

Bruce in the NYTIMES

My friend actor Bruce Barton got a nice shout out in the NYTimes
"Bruce Barton, as Guildenstern, suggested vaudevillian dimensions without overstatement."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I love these guys

Tattooed Bikers, a dog's best friend

As the men reached the Major Deegan Expressway, Des took a call about strays found on 141st Street in Manhattan, writing the details in neat script on his pad. Soft-spoken and gray-haired, Des held a gym bag on his lap. When the call ended, he looked over his notes, then unzipped the bag to produce a tiny kitten, which had been sleeping on a newspaper.

“What the——!” said Batso. “He’s got a cat back here! Why you got a cat with you, Desi?”

The kitten clambered over Des’s leather wristband and gnawed at his spiked silver ring. With one finger, Des stroked the pale underside of its neck. He had been carrying the cat everywhere for a week and a half.

“This little guy has to eat every few hours,” he said, “He’s a he, but I keep calling him a she.”

Speeding across the Triborough Bridge into Queens, the S.U.V. pulled into the parking lot of a McDonald’s on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst. There, Big Ant, also known as Anthony Missano, was waiting, reclining on his Harley, along with Mike Tattoo on a 1959 Honda.

Big Ant, “a little guy,” as the others describe him, is a little more than 6 feet tall and around 320 pounds. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and sunglasses with small orange lenses. The tattoo of a red lightning bolt sliced down his enormous arm.

Other members of the squad arrived, among them Johnny O (John Orlandini), a former bodyguard who once waded waist deep into a pond near a sewage pipe to rescue a duck; and Biagi, who is to dogs what Des is to cats: a psychic force.

More about Rescue Ink

Monday, August 25, 2008

charging by the word?

I suddenly discovered I must have a copy of The Letters of Charlotte Bronte only to learn that it is a 3-volume set (Charlotte was very prolific) and that volume 3 alone costs $220! Holy guacamole! I guess I'll have to suck it up... one of these days... and buy. Then again, there's the public library... and luckily my daughter is my own personal genuine professional librarian. Makes those parent-student loans all worthwhile.

Some very interesting commentary in a review of the books by Lyndall Gordon
The most famous letters in this volume are the four Charlotte wrote in French in 1844-45 to her beloved teacher in Brussels, M. Heger. The fact that Madame Heger pieced three of these letters together from torn fragments she found in her husband's bin suggests that Madame did not consider this tie negligible. There has been much speculation whether these surviving letters were adulterous or innocent. This is a misunderstanding of Charlotte's capacity for an indefinable form of love that thrived on Monsieur's recognition of her potential as a writer, his capacity to know her as she perceived herself to be. If we think of these letters in view of the great novels to come, they may be seen as the source of a new model of manhood: a hero who will engage with a hidden "other" in a woman; who does not exclude it as alien. This future fictional enlargement on M. Heger gains its imaginative licence from distance - the correspondent's invisibility as reader. In this sense, what Charlotte undertook was not quite a real correspondence which reflects the correspondent; it was more an invented correspondence, close to an imaginative act and supplemented, probably, by many letters which Charlotte composed (in her mind or even on paper) but did not send.

I hear that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Somebody sure got themselves a good [publicity agent]

A guide to the obscure references in [title of show] - a nice big advertorial in the Times.


A guy who looks a little like Prince emails me about my online profile:
Just one word: adorable
Alas, he lives in Florida.


Classic post

Every now and then I like to post something from the Heavens to Mergatroyd archives.

Here is one I originally posted in June 2006, a video clip of my friend Bob having fun with the anti-choice protestors, back when we were helping out with clinic security. I shot the video.

Click to watch the video

Saturday, August 23, 2008

good ole HUCK

Wow, great reading of my HUCK FINN at NYCPlaywrights last night - and I got some great feedback! One person told me he liked my ending of Huck's story much better than the original novel, and another person, new to the group, called it a "brilliant adaptation." My head is swollen like a zeppelin.

I'll be posting video clips from the reading here soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Fixed Idea

What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant, and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.

-- Amy Lowell

more poems by Lowell

Thursday, August 21, 2008

HUCK FINN on 35th Street

NYCPlaywrights will be introducing members and others to the new space at the Penny Templeton Studio this Friday August 22. We'll be doing a staged reading of my HUCK FINN, an adaptation of the Mark Twain classic. Cast: Nick Fondulis, Lorenzo Scott, Ann Farthing, Reagan Wilson, Mike Selkirk, Mike Jalbert, Charles Major and Reggie Buckingham. Come and check it out at 261 W. 35th Street, Suite 304 at 7PM.

Tomorrow night I'm going to see Nick perform in his Fringe show The Boy in the Basement - he borrowed one of my whips leftover from the Metropolitan Playhouse production of HUCK as a prop - so it should be interesting. He's been getting great reviews too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rock me sexy Jesus

The second thing I did with the new Penny Templeton Studio was record my PERSONAL JESUS for my friend Bob's radio show (the first was rehearsing the upcoming reading of HUCK FINN.) Now I'm editing the audio and it's so much fun, especially with the killer Mac app GarageBand. I have a first rough draft, and should have the refined version completed by tomorrow.

It's really neat to hear Bruce Barton portray two different versions of Jesus, talking to each other. I edited the voices so that at points he overlaps with himself which is really funny.

Go here to listen to a clip where Bruce argues and then gets into a fist fight with himself, before Trixie the diner waitress breaks it up.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jobs program

That is what we are going to need before the subprime financial crisis is over - a jobs program. Just like during the Depression.

As Nouriel Roubini says in today's NYTimes:

But most important, in Roubini’s opinion, is to realize that the problem is deeper than the housing crisis. “Reckless people have deluded themselves that this was a subprime crisis,” he told me. “But we have problems with credit-card debt, student-loan debt, auto loans, commercial real estate loans, home-equity loans, corporate debt and loans that financed leveraged buyouts.” All of these forms of debt, he argues, suffer from some or all of the same traits that first surfaced in the housing market: shoddy underwriting, securitization, negligence on the part of the credit-rating agencies and lax government oversight. “We have a subprime financial system,” he said, “not a subprime mortgage market.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Annoying web dating email of the day

47-year-old writes me:
You know what?
i'd love to hear your voice baby girl...K
No dice, daddy-o, I don't think I'm hip enough for yah.

The NYTimes finally notices Jon Stewart in a major way

Is Jon Stewart the most trusted man in America?

Last paragraph:
In fact, Mr. Stewart regards comedy as a kind of catharsis machine, a therapeutic filter for grappling with upsetting issues. "What's nice to us about the relentlessness of the show," he said, "is you know you're going to get that release no matter what, every night, Monday through Thursday. Like pizza, it may not be the best pizza you've ever had, but it's still pizza, man, and you get to have it every night. It's a wonderful feeling to have this toxin in your body in the morning, that little cup of sadness, and feel by 7 or 7:30 that night, you've released it in sweat equity and can move on to the next day."

Friday, August 15, 2008

one more demotivator

Thursday, August 14, 2008

audition time is here

Now that I'm renting the Penny Templeton Actors studio for Mergatroyd Productions I have plenty of time available to audition actors for the 2009 installment of JANE EYRE - and I intend to use it. Last year I served up roles to actors on fine china platters, to my everlasting regret. Thanks to my kind consideration, half the cast came to believe that they were doing me a big favor by agreeing to be in the show, and they gave me heaping helpings of contempt and ingratitude. One of the most blatant examples - I always fed the actors during rehearsals. The last weekend of the show, one of the actors invited all the other actors out for brunch - but not me. That's the kind of loathsome creeps I'm talking about.

This time I am going to be much more deliberative when it comes to casting.

First up - I will be auditioning Janes and Rochesters soon. If anybody out there knows anybody they think might be a good fit for the roles, have them send me their headshots, etc. to nancy at mergatroyd dot org. And unlike almost any other Equity Showcase production in NYC, this is a paid gig.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

free-floating misogyny

One thing you really notice on dating sites like Plenty of Fish is the free-floating misogyny throughout. It puts me in mind of something that Germain Greer said: "Women have very little idea of how much men hate them." Thanks to Plenty of Fish, and its related forums, we do now.

My most recent run-in with a misogynist was a dude who states on his profile that women are materialistic and shallow. So, dude, if that's how you feel about women, and yet you still feel like you want a live female body to engage in sexual congress with - WHY DON'T YOU GET A HO?

I didn't say that in my response to his email though - I was far too nice.

But maybe the Universe rewarded me for my restraint - directly after my exchange with that dude, I got an email from a bright, cute 25-year-old, who thinks I'm awesome - he said I have a "Mira Sorviono/Laura Linney thing going on."

Thank you Universe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

if it's good enough for Dorothy Parker...

I decided to record one of my sonnets. Listen to Sonnet 1 here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Perfect Rose

Dorothy Parker's poems are generally in quite a different mood from Dickinson's...

One Perfect Rose

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet --
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

You can actually hear Dorothy Parker read this aloud here.

More readings from Dorothy Parker at the
Dorothy Parker Society.

To Lose Thee

To lose thee, sweeter than to gain
All other hearts I knew.
'Tis true the drought is destitute
But, then, I had the dew!
The Caspian has its realms of sand,
Its other realm of sea.
Without this sterile perquisite
No Caspian could be.

- Emily Dickinson

More from the Belle of Amherst

Saturday, August 09, 2008

the model was definitely not a man

I guess if I want to have a male model I'll have to look on Craig's List.

more despair

source here including helpful gift-giving guide:

Perfect for:

- Survivor types
- Dorks who quote Nietzsche
- Disaffected college students

(note - every single one is deemed perfect for disaffected college students)

Friday, August 08, 2008

the Krug-Man - feel his scathing awesomeness, wingers!

Let’s also not forget that for years President Bush was the center of a cult of personality that lionized him as a real-world Forrest Gump, a simple man who prevails through his gut instincts and moral superiority. “Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man,” declared Peggy Noonan, writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2004. “He’s not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world.”

It wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina — when the heckuva job done by the man of whom Ms. Noonan said, “if there’s a fire on the block, he’ll run out and help” revealed the true costs of obliviousness — that the cult began to fade.

What’s more, the politics of stupidity didn’t just appeal to the poorly informed. Bear in mind that members of the political and media elites were more pro-war than the public at large in the fall of 2002, even though the flimsiness of the case for invading Iraq should have been even more obvious to those paying close attention to the issue than it was to the average voter.

Why were the elite so hawkish? Well, I heard a number of people express privately the argument that some influential commentators made publicly — that the war was a good idea, not because Iraq posed a real threat, but because beating up someone in the Middle East, never mind who, would show Muslims that we mean business. In other words, even alleged wise men bought into the idea of macho posturing as policy.

more at the NYTimes

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Going to see the new Broadway musical [title of show]. They have a blog, called [blog] (what else?) where they refer to their readers as "tossers."

I got the tickets for free! Yay! Running NYCPlaywrights does have some benefits.

Speaking of which, I finally signed the deal - Mergatroyd Productions & NYCPlaywrights now has a new home at the Penny Templeton Actors Studio Fridays through Sundays every damn week of the year. If this doesn't turn me into a playwriting supernova, nothing will!

Plays planned at the moment:

STRESS AND THE CITY (collection of short plays)
THE GOOD DEPUTY (if I can get over my "issues")
BAGGER OF THE YEAR (rewritten, finally)

Lots of work to do!

The great thing about hooking up with PTAS is that I'll have access to so many new actors.

Words to live by

More at

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Here's my daughter chilling with two of the Ladyboys of Bangkok. As you can see, they can be ladies or boys - just like my daughter!

Hah hah just kidding Nome. She's still sore because I said she looked like a 12-year-old boy, from a distance, for a split-second.

We saw TLBOB at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe festival (siiiigh - back in the days when I could afford a European vacation - thanks Jane Eyre) - they had this huge big top tent for the audience - much better-attended than most of the stuff we saw. And they are so popular - this blog, Heavens to Mergatroyd, gets soooo many hits on some variation of search word "ladyboys" - and I guess even more NOW that I posted this.

Hello ladyboy fans!

Many of their fans are from countries like Saudi Arabia and yes - Iran.

the afterlife is much kinkier than I realized...

I got into a debate with a devout religious guy who informed me:
I know that you will not be going to hell and you are not going to suffer eternal torment. I'm not saying you might not get a smack on the behind, but the terrible things that has imprisoned your mind and spirit such as eternal torment is certainly not what God has install for you in the next life.

The nuns never told us about the afterlife spankings!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New look for JANE EYRE

I've begun redesigning the JANE EYRE web site in preparation for the new production. The show doesn't open until February, but you can never start planning too soon.

Purveyor of Praise

more from Willam Ball's "A Sense of Direction"
It is important for a director to practice praising. Begin the rehearsal with praise. "It is an honor to work with such fine artists." "This is one of the most beautiful plays ever written." "Look at the beautiful sunshine." "Aren't these words exciting. Let's begin." Your praise evokes enthusiasm, and the actor thinks, "Maybe he will praise me some day." He works in hope of being praised. Praise is the musculature of directing. All the theories and concepts can be thrown out the window; they are a dime a dozen. Any director who has a long career is a good praiser. You can practically measure a director's career by his enthusiasm for what he witnesses.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Peter L. Bernstein and I are in agreement

He is saying in today's NYTimes pretty much what I said a few weeks ago, except that he doesn't offer a solution to this intolerable unemployment situation. But if it isn't some kind of federal jobs program, I don't know what it could be.
ASSISTANCE to individuals and institutions in trouble always raises concerns about the moral hazards of bailouts, especially when a case can be made that people underrated risks or were blindsided in their decision-making. But we have no choice here. The economy teeters on the edge of not just a recession, but also a more profound decline where trouble in any single sector can spread breakdowns throughout the system, driving unemployment to intolerable levels. To sit back and let nature take its course is to risk the end of a civil society.

Until we move more decisively in this direction, other efforts are likely to be frustrating at best and counterproductive at worst. The household is the key to the puzzle.

Peter L. Bernstein, a financial consultant and economic historian, is the editor of the Economics & Portfolio Strategy newsletter.

another great movie quote


" don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

once again, not a young male model

Another attractive young female. Much easier to find than attractive young males, apparently.

favorite movie moments...

Back to the Future, Part 3

Marty and Doc, wearing bandannas over their faces, board a locomotive and point guns at the engineer:

Doc: Reach!

Engineer: Is this a holdup?

(Doc and Marty look at each other)

Doc: It's a science experiment!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Anais Nin, Erotica, etc.


I recently got a copy of Anais Nin's (her first name is pronounced An-EYE-as, her last name rhymes with "pin" ) collection of essays "In Favor of the Sensitive Man." It has some good stuff in it. Nin had always been ahead of her time, but by the time she was in her 60s "second-wave" feminism came along and the times caught up with her. As you can see here:
The new type of young man I have met is exceptionally fitted for a new woman, but she is not yet totally appreciative of his tenderness, his growing proximity to woman, his attitude of twinship rather than differentiation. People who once lived under a dictatorship often are at a loss to govern themselves. This loss is a transitional one: It may mean the beginning of a totally new life and freedom. The man is there. He is an equal. He treats you like an equal. In moments of uncertainty you can still discuss problems with him you could not have talked about twenty years ago.

Nin funfact - "In 1947, at the age of 44, she met and began living with Rupert Pole (1919-2006), sixteen years her junior." Pole by all accounts was quite the hottie. You go, Anais!

Nin was also known as the author of erotica. From Wikipedia:
Faced with a desperate need for money, Nin and (Henry) Miller began in the 1940s to write erotic and pornographic narratives for an anonymous "collector" for a dollar a page, somewhat as a joke. Nin considered the characters in her erotica to be extreme caricatures and never intended the work to be published, but changed her mind in the early 1970s and allowed them to be published as Delta of Venus and Little Birds.
Nothing more satisfying than writing erotica for money. That is some easy money. I haven't been paid for mine since I wrote Wildwood Summer for a gay men's magazine. I'm currently turning that story into a play. I think I'm going to change the title to "Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy."

I've written erotic sonnets as well as another short story, called "Victorian Boots" which is heterosexual but a bit kinky. It was accepted by - but no pay involved, alas. That's one bad thing about the Internet - it's made the dissemination of erotica - not to mention pornography - extremely easy, and so there's lots more of it and so it's not as valuable. Contemporary Nins and Millers are getting bupkis for their erotic narratives. I did find writing "Victorian Boots" therapeutic - I turned a very negative series of events I endured, through the magic of sexual desire, into something pleasurable. Basically that is what kink is all about - turning pain into pleasure.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Lightcastle sure has alot of friends

Ever since I got a shout out from Lightcastle on his/her LiveJournal blog my sitemeter has gone through the roof with all the new traffic. Thanks for those kind words, Lightcastle - I'm glad you like my theatre essays.

well played, Madonna

Normally I wouldn't read an article about Madonna, because really, I don't care. And it would have been my loss, this time around.

I was in the hair salon and the reading pickings were slim, so I read the article "…Beckoned, by Madonna, Over the Borderline" by Adam Sternberg in New York Magazine, and I have to say, it's a great little essay, a perfect synergy between subject and style. You should read the entire thing by following the link, but I'll give you a little preview:
Yet her ability to surprise us continues to surprise us. A-Rod and Madonna—now, who saw that coming? And yet, of course it’s Madonna. Because this is what Madonna does. Just when an album flops, or a movie tanks, or the upcoming tour’s sales falter—basically, just when you’ve started to forget about her, even a little bit—there she is, reminding you that as long as there is a breath in her chest, by God, you will not forget about her.
Well played, Adam, well played.

"Jane Eyre" by Edward Fairfax Rochester

My mind is well and truly blown - a blog that is a chapter-by-chapter rewrite of "Jane Eyre" from Edward Rochester's point of view:
Edward Fairfax Rochester's Love for Jane Eyre CHAPTER 1: I Must Away to Thornfield, written by A True Janian Reply.