Tuesday, August 31, 2010

music theory

There's so much to blog about - Frank Rich's latest column, Krugman's latest, Beckstock, how much I can't wait for Autumn, etc. etc. But I just feel like talking about music theory today.

First - I finally discovered the term for "classical" music. The term classical has always been problematic because it has several meanings. The first is, according to Wikipedia:
the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 9th century to present times."

But then it gets to the goods:
"The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period."

THAT is it! "Common practice period." That's what most people mean when they refer to classical music. I don't think the term is ever going to catch on, but I'm glad I finally learned it.

Music geeks of course know that the Classical period of music is a subset of the common practice period, preceded by Baroque and followed by the Romantic period. The Classical period was a mere 90 years, from 1730 to 1820.

Wikipedia also has a good article on cadence, complete with audio samples of the various cadence types, including the most awesomely named Phyrigian half-cadence.

Schroeder is admirably clear-headed about life.

Monday, August 30, 2010

OKStupid pt 2

How about me you,a scarry movie and a bowl of raisins? ? ?
the original OKS posting

A bowl of raisins?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NYCPlaywrights - 10th year

I can hardly believe it, NYCPlaywrights, a group I founded with my ex-boyfriend will be ten years old this November. Time flies.

We started out with five people, including my ex and I, in a room rented from the National Shakespeare Company. Membership was free and in the first year we cut a meeting short once due to not enough plays being brought in for readings. But we never canceled a meeting in 10 years except for once, on September 12, 2001.

Well now there are 78 members including 25 paying members (writer members pay, actors don't) and now the biggest problem is too much work for the time available.

This is especially a problem with bad writers. Bad writers tend to be more prolific than good writers, because bad writers have no sense of whether something is bad, and so they assume everything they write is good. So they don't bother wasting time editing and re-writing, which leads to a great quantity of output.

Also, many of NYCPlaywrights' worst writers are old retired men who have nothing else to do but devote hours to their playwriting hobby. They tend to reserve the maximum number of minutes per meeting, for as many meetings as they can until I stop them, in order to force innocent people to listen to their works of incompetence, chock full of backwards attitudes about gender and race. Argh.

Anyway, so I spent the past month rebuilding the NYCPlaywrights web site after a Russian hacker attack. It was my own fault, I left the video tables open to SQL injection. I won't make that mistake again.

The earliest incarnation of the NYCPlaywrights web site back in 2001 (and which can be seen via the Wayback Machine) was a relatively simple affair, technologically. There was the javascript-driven quotes and there was the blog insert, but that's it. I still use HTML, javascript and Blogger, but now I also use CSS, PHP and a SQL database, not to mention Youtube embedded videos and the Google Adsense monetization campaign. Plus there's a whole members-only section that is interactive and database-driven.

That's some damn time-consuming work there.

Plans are brewing for a wine and cheese party for the November 2 meeting for the third hour. Whoohoo!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Intact Gallery

Artist Paul Cadmus loved him some naked men - as a fellow androphile I heartily approve.

Very interesting survey of "intact" (uncircumcised) penises in art, Intact Gallery.
The author claims that the ancient Greeks considered only the depiction of glans to be obscene, rather than the penis itself.

Plus a fascinating glossary.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Orchestra, Beethoven

There's a very good Wikipedia article on orchestras. And I didn't realize that Beethoven had been so instrumental (heh heh) in the development of the modern orchestra.

The Beethoven wiki says that he died during a thunderstorm. That is shown in the movie "Immortal Beloved" but I had assumed it was just a ridiculously melodramatic director's choice.

Like everybody else I am an admirer of Beethoven's work but I never really studied him. I am very interested now in his Late String Quartets which were described by composer Louis Spohr as "indecipherable, uncorrected horrors", while Schubert said "After this, what is left for us to write?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Great Galloping Gottschalk!

I was first turned on to Louis Moreau Gottschalk when I was in college and went to see the Pennsylvania Ballet's "Carmina Burana" and they performed Great Galloping Gottschalk as an opening act. I loved it (so did the NYTimes) and I especially loved "Manchega."

I used the tune for the piano duet scene in my JANE EYRE in the 2008 production even though it was an anachronism - JANE is set in the 1820s and Gottschalk wasn't even born until 1829. But I wanted something that was catchy and up-tempo, with a certain flashiness, since this was a duet that Rochester plays with Blanche, Jane's rival - at least Jane thinks so because Rochester is trying to make Jane jealous. Rochester's kind of a jerk, really.

Anyway, I actually like the piano-only version best - you can hear a midi version here, although it's a little slow and creaky - I had to punch this up with GarageBand for the JANE show.

To my delight, I discovered a performance of Manchega from GGG on Youtube. The orchestration is very reminiscent of the Spanish dance from The Nutcracker, although the dance is very different - I especially like when the ballerina in magenta catches a ride from the ring dancers.

Ooh bonus - Souvenir de Porto Rico!

Unfortunately there are no clips on Youtube even close to the Pennsylvania Ballet's version of Carmina Burana, but I did find this orchestra version - THIS is the way Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi should be done - pyro-goddam-technics - move over 1812 Overture!

Hysterical comment on the thread under the video:

i walked in the house one day and this randomly started playing from my ipod. and i felt like i had jesus powers for a few seconds

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the Kochtopus

Very important article in this week's New Yorker

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the "radical press" had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."

A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream took place in a chilly hotel ballroom in Austin. Though Koch freely promotes his philanthropic ventures, he did not attend the summit, and his name was not in evidence. And on this occasion the audience was roused not by a dance performance but by a series of speakers denouncing President Barack Obama. Peggy Venable, the organizer of the summit, warned that Administration officials "have a socialist vision for this country."

Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. "Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests," it said. "But you can do something about it." The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, said, "What they don't say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens' movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires."

Monday, August 23, 2010

The hideous face of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance

The signs they hold make it clear - crazed, Fox News-fueled, Tea Party thugs equate an Islamic community center with "Sharia."

Opponents of the mosque insisted they fully supported religious freedoms, but that the location of the planned Islamic center represented an incursion on the rights of Americans who deemed Ground Zero a hallowed space. “It’s a disgrace to have a mosque at this sacred site; it’s a smack in the face,” said Kali Costas, a Long Island education worker who said she was a member of the Tea Party.

more at the NYTimes

It's just a matter of time before someone will be attacked by a gang of these thugs for not looking sufficiently "American" enough - it could be almost anybody - a Muslim, a Coptic Christian, a Sikh, an Indian or a Latino. I've been speaking to some of these thugs on Facebook and there is no conspiracy theory so far-fetched that they won't believe it.

And don't even get me started on that cowardly asshole Howard Dean. I am so disgusted.

the complete lack of integrity in the off-off Broadway review system

There are plenty of bad plays on Broadway and off-Broadway, as I've blogged about here - I was unimpressed, to say the very least, by LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING, RACE, and ANNA IN THE TROPICS, just to name three right off the top of my head. No, it isn't the quality of work so much that distinguishes Broadway and off-Broadway from off-off Broadway.

It's the absolute lack of integrity that makes off-off Broadway a joke.

Case in point - a Fringe Festival review at nytheatre.com - the reviewer is a Manhattan Theatre Source colleague of at least two people in the show.

Thanks to the Internet, these kinds of things are very easy to document - just a quick Google search will demonstrate, for example, that the reviewer is a fellow volunteer at Manhattan Theatre Source of one of the cast members. And they've known each other for at least three years - they were in a show together in 2007.

Nowhere in the review does the reviewer mention his connection to the show's cast and crew. Not that I think he's trying to hide anything - the issue isn't covering up lack of ethics - the issue is not having a conception of ethics in the first place, either the reviewer or the editor (if there is one) at NYTheatre.com.

And I am sure that the response to my pointing this out will not be one of embarrassment, much less a consideration of the issue of ethics, it will be confusion - they have no idea what I'm talking about. And then the outrage - how dare I be such a spoilsport, going on about pretentious things as integrity and ethics?

According to Andrew Bellware, Manhattan Theatre Source sucks, sucks, sucks, but that's no excuse. Reviewing a play that friends of yours are involved in - especially if you don't even admit your connection - is unethical. And the fact that NYTheatre.com doesn't use professional critics, but a loose collection of volunteers is no excuse either.

And it isn't only the easily-documented web of friends at Manhattan Theatre Source that is the issue - a friend of mine has written reviews for NYTheatre.com and she told me that once she was told to tone down a negative review because friends of a bigwig at NYTheatre.com were involved in the show.

It's a nice little system for people who are well-connected. They give their friends favorable reviews, the friends return the favor, and they all vote for each other for the IT awards. And nobody even attempts to pretend otherwise. They absolutely wallow in their lack of integrity. And then some of these same people write plays with ethical or moral themes. Well why not go for it? It doesn't seem to matter in the world of off-off Broadway.

You might as well work the corrupt system for all it's worth, right?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Romantic comedy disfunction

I've been thinking about romantic comedies alot lately since I'm working on Act II of JULIA & BUDDY, and for once I have to agree with Maureen Dowd - modern romantic comedies suck. And I'm not even talking about the hideous "men are lovable puerile slobs and women are controlling bitches" genre of the 2000s pioneered by "Knocked Up."

Both Maureen Dowd and A.O. Scott wrote about it - Scott being first in 2008. He noted:
And yet, while the romantic comedy has almost always trafficked in happy endings, that happiness is rarely accompanied by a sense of risk or exhilaration. When you think of, say, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn — or even Doris Day and Rock Hudson — you recall the emotional combat of two strong-willed, independent individuals ending in mutual conquest. Love, in those old pictures, was a dangerous and noble sport that required skill and cunning as well as commitment.

I'm talking about stuff from the last twenty years. There's a good article at The A.V. Club "The ugliest truth: 24 romantic-comedy characters who don't deserve love. I admit I've seen none of these movies because I read the reviews first and they sounded like they stank on ice - and the commentary here confirms it.
Sleepless in Seattle: Romantic comedies often depend on telling audiences what they wish was true. Case in point: in Sleepless In Seattle, the seemingly happy engaged Meg Ryan hears Tom Hanks talking on the radio, falls in love with his voice, and spends the rest of the movie re-arranging her life to find him. In the real world, these would be the mentally unbalanced actions of a disturbed, desperate person, a quixotic quest for a relationship that couldn’t possibly live up to expectations. While Seattle pays some lip service to Ryan’s strange behavior, she’s ultimately rewarded for her "courage" with the most ideal meet-cute imaginable.

As Good As It Gets: the romantic tension between Hunt and Nicholson never gets past the dictated-by-script phase, partly because Nicholson looks like a human-Sleestak hybrid, and partly because his newfound decency doesn’t make up for a life’s worth of vicious hostility.

You've Got Mail: Hanks, as the scion of a Barnes & Noble-like chain of heartless mega-bookstores, essentially wins over Meg Ryan, the proprietor of a boutique children’s bookstore, by putting her out of business. He's the friendly face of the McDonald’s-ization of our culture, and Ephron seems to encourage Ryan to put up a good fight before eventually yielding to the soulless comforts of a literary Big Mac.

Garden State: The myth of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl was pushed to its most egregious extreme in Garden State, where beautiful Natalie Portman "redeems" a self-pitying, thoroughly unlikeable wimp (Zach Braff) by inexplicably falling in love with him, in spite of his rancid self-absorption and unseemly level of pussitude. In fact, she enables his bullshit, taking out a bottle to preserve his single, precious tear when he finally works up the nerve to cry over paralyzing his mother back when he was a kid.

Woody Allen in anything: nobody is more responsible for turning neurotic, paternalistic, essentially self-centered men into supposedly smart, sensitive, even sexy objects of affection for women foolish enough to accept personality traits that would (rightly) seem obnoxious coming from much better-looking guys.

Technically I have seen Woody Allen movies - although not since the early 1990s, and after reading Mia Farrow's autobiography, the very thought of Woody Allen makes me nauseous, and I just don't want to watch even his old movies that I liked.

I was griping about the absurdity of the stalker-triumphant-in-love of the Pulitzer Prize-winning TALLEY'S FOLLY, and there was a link from the A.V. Club article that made me chortle Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested

The movie "His Girl Friday" is always described as a "screwball comedy" but I think it's one of the best romantic comedies ever made, which is pretty impressive considering that in the Broadway play on which it was based, THE FRONT PAGE, the Rosalind Russell character was a man, and according to the very good Wikipedia article on the movie, the only reason the gender was changed was: "...during auditions, Howard Hawks's secretary read reporter Hildy Johnson's lines. Hawks liked the way the dialogue sounded coming from a woman, resulting in the script being rewritten to make Hildy female."

The movie is charmingly modern in its view of the Hildy character - she wants to settle down and be a conventional housewife with the boring guy played by Ralph Bellamy, but Cary Grant's character convinces her that she would be much happier as a "newspaper man." And clearly they have much more in common than Hildy does with Ralph Bellamy.

Some fascinating stuff from the Wiki:
In her autobiography, Life Is A Banquet, Russell wrote that she thought her role did not have as many good lines as Grant's, so she hired her own writer to "punch up" her dialogue. With Hawks encouraging ad-libbing on the set, Russell was able to slip her writer's work into the movie. Only Grant was wise to this tactic and greeted her each morning saying, "What have you got today?"

Grant's character describes Bellamy's character by saying "He looks like that fellow in the movies, you know... Ralph Bellamy!" According to Bellamy, the remark was ad libbed by Grant. Columbia studio head Harry Cohn thought it was too cheeky and ordered it removed, but Hawks insisted that it stay. Grant makes several other "inside" remarks in the film. When his character is arrested for a kidnapping, he describes the horrendous fate suffered by the last person who crossed him: Archie Leach (Grant's real name).

A clip from "His Girl Friday" - the entire movie is available, at least for now, for free on Youtube.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

10 Shameless Right-Wing Tributes to Ayn Rand That Should Make Any Sane Person Blush

Another excellent article by Roy Edroso. Dude can turn a nice phrase.
Yes, Ayn Rand, author of big books about noble capitalists who triumph over the masses, and tomes of "philosophy" like The Virtue of Selfishness, in which she beat Gordon Gekko to Greed is Good by decades. Rand always seemed like a good fit for conservatives, but until recently their fandom was a love that dared not speak its name -- either out of fear that the born-agains would be alienated by Rand's atheism, or that literate people would giggle at them.

What happened? The Republican collapse, and the arrival of an activist liberal administration in D.C., set conservatives scrambling for compelling new story lines to sell the public. Jesus, unfortunately, had been rendered inoperative by all the family-values Republicans caught in sex scandals. With Him out of the way, the atheist, market-worshiping Rand was their best bet.

The transition has been seamless. Glenn Beck regards Rand as a prophet. Tea Party people carry her name on signs. Rightbloggers talk, seriously it would seem, about Going Galt -- a phenomenon previously known as "early retirement," but now judged a political act of resistance against the socialism of our moderate Democrat president.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mighty Mouse, Johnny Bravo and me

Since the world is still dominated by hetero men, you often see cartoon women who aren't bad, they are just drawn that way, like Jessica Rabbit. Cartoon pinup women with wildly exaggerated female characteristics are pretty common but male characters with exaggeratedly masculine traits are extremely rare - hell, a non-grotesque male character is rare. There are lots of Homer Simpsons and very few Johnny Bravos.

Mm, Johnny Bravo. I cannot lie - I am every bit as attracted to Johnny Bravo as (straight) men are to Jessica Rabbit. Like Jessica, Johnny is inhumanly proportioned - giant chest and arms, tiny waist and short legs... but I find him strangely... compelling.

Then there's his stupendous hair, his kewl shades and his tight-fitting black tee-shirt, jeans and boots. More men should dress like that. (I'd actually prefer men to dress in Regency-period get-up as regular readers of this blog know, but the Johnny look is a much more realistic request.)

Johnny is sort of a blond Elvis kind of guy (and we all know that Elvis actually was a blond) and the look of his cartoon is sort of Elvis-goes-Hawaiian.

But since men still do run the world, even Johnny Bravo must bow to straight male hetero-normative prejudices. Although Johnny is very hot for a cartoon guy, women are always rejecting him, and he's supposed to be laughably narcissistic, which is why he's always saying "man I'm pretty." Whereas hot women in cartoons are always acknowledged as hot. Because your standard hetero man resents hot men. That's why Johnny not only doesn't get the girl, he's frequently assaulted and insulted by women - the revenge of the nerds.

Johnny Bravo once teamed up with the Scooby gang which was really funny. Predictably, he hits on Daphne but of course she rejects him and Velma wants him. But I was glad to see that Daphne was getting some Fred action.

Johnny: "you understand what that dog says?"

I should point out though, that in spite of the supremacy of the male gaze, there is a precursor to Johnny Bravo - Mighty Mouse.

Clearly he had the same physique:

And MM was hard-core hetero - episodes often ended with the girl mouse he rescued covering him with lipstick-smeared kisses.

When I was four years old I adored Mighty Mouse. I don't think I was precocious enough to appreciate his masculine physique at that point, I think I just thought he was cool because he could fly.

However - the first nude I ever drew was of Mighty Mouse. I knew what penises looked like because I had seen my mother changing my brothers' diapers, so Mighty Mouse got a teeny little circumcised penis, but even so, when my mother found the picture she freaked out. Now I can't say I drew this in complete innocence - I knew that nudity was not nice, but I didn't realize how shameful until I was caught drawing a picture of a naked anthropomorphic butch mouse.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

blog overload

Oy, too much to blog about today! I spent hours arguing with teabaggers about the "ground zero mosque" - actually a community center 2 blocks away. The baggers have a new approach now - claim that because a Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed when the South Tower of the World Trade center fell on it hasn't been rebuilt yet, it's obviously bigotry against the Greek Orthodox and meanwhile we are allowing TERRORISTS! to build at ground zero! And of course it's really about zoning, money and swaps, that have nothing to do with religion:
The fate of the church, a narrow whitewashed building that was crushed in the attack on the World Trade Center, was supposed to have been settled eight months ago, with a tentative agreement in which the church would swap its land for a grander church building on a larger parcel nearby, with a $20 million subsidy from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This would have allowed work to begin at the south end of the site.

But the two sides never came to final terms. After months of negotiations, the Port Authority, which is overseeing reconstruction at ground zero, ended its talks with the church on Monday, saying that the church had sought increasingly costly concessions.

Complaints, of course, abound on both sides.

The authority now says that St. Nicholas is free to rebuild the church on its own parcel at 155 Cedar Street, just east of West Street. The authority will, in turn, use eminent domain to get control of the land beneath that parcel so it can move ahead with building foundation walls and a bomb-screening center for trucks, buses and cars entering the area.

“We made an extraordinarily generous offer to resolve this issue and spent eight months trying to finalize that offer, and the church wanted even more on top of that,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Port Authority. “They have now given us no choice but to move on to ensure the site is not delayed. The church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site, and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building.”
more from the NYTimes

In happier news 90 years ago today women got the right to vote.

It blows my mind that my grandmother was born before women were full citizens of the United States.
Ninety years ago today, women got the right to vote. Here's the text of the 19th amendment, which was ratified on August 18, 1920, by the Tennessee General Assembly: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Tennessee was the thirty-sixth state to ratify, giving the amendment the requisite approval of three-fourths of the states; the amendment passed because 24 year-old legislator Harry Burn changed his vote, at the insistence of his elderly mother.

Several people have expressed an interest in the course I am offering this fall on how to write 10-minute plays, based on my article on the subject. Yay.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Conservatives are out to destroy the Constitution

Conservatives are out to destroy the Constitution, and the Republicans are promoting it for the sake of scoring cheap political points. And the utterly contemptible Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, unofficial Republican representatives are riding the wave of hate, bigotry and ignorance for all they are worth.

One of the apologists of bigotry and ignorance, the NYTimes Ross Douthat, explains in his recent column Islam in Two Americas
This is typical of how these debates usually play out. The first America tends to make the finer-sounding speeches, and the second America often strikes cruder, more xenophobic notes. The first America welcomed the poor, the tired, the huddled masses; the second America demanded that they change their names and drop their native languages, and often threw up hurdles to stop them coming altogether. The first America celebrated religious liberty; the second America persecuted Mormons and discriminated against Catholics.

But both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer, and both have been necessary to the American experiment’s success. During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t — was crucial to their swift assimilation. The post-1920s immigration restrictions were draconian in many ways, but they created time for persistent ethnic divisions to melt into a general unhyphenated Americanism.

"...both understandings of this country have real wisdom to offer" - in other words, tolerance and hospitality is as wise as persecution and bigotry.

This is the way right-wingers think - they love "tough love." But Douthat ignores the fact that the same crowd that objected to those who failed to adopt "Anglo-Saxon culture" quickly enough also objected to the end of slavery, female sufferage and the Civil Rights movement. The same backwards group that always prefers bigotry and ignorance.

The most amusing yet revolting aspect of the way Douthat's mind works is that he apparently believes that the reason the forces of tolerance sound better is because they have better speech-writers. No you idiot - the reason they make finer-sounding speeches is because their ideas are better! It's hard to make bigotry sound fine - although Douthat does his best to argue that it is "wise."

My buddy Roy makes some excellent points in his latest Village Voice piece
Ground Zero Mosque Story Confirms It: Conservatives Are The Honky Party
National Review's David Pryce-Jones said the mosque was "not about freedom of worship, it is a statement of supremacy and conquest" -- a seemingly approving reference to the notion popular among the mentally ill that the mosque is being built to celebrate the 9/11 attacks.

"Non-Muslims are not allowed any place of worship in Saudi Arabia," continued Pryce-Jones, "they cannot even approach within miles of the cities of Medina and Mecca." This refers to yet another popular though idiotic trope: That America should show only as much toleration of minority religions as is shown by theocratic Middle Eastern states.

Former National Review staffer Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, said Obama's clarification "pulls rug from under mosque supporters." This was unnecessary, York claimed, because "most mosque opponents concede the Muslim group's legal right to place the mosque in the planned site. They just argue that it's a terrible idea and have appealed to the organizers to cancel the project." ("Appeal" is an odd word for the torrents of abuse that have been visited on the planners, but it should be clear by now that these people have as little respect for language as they have for the Constitution.)

But we shall know the opponents of freedom of religion by their actions:
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.

"Get out," others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

"I flew nine hours in an airplane to come here," a frustrated Nassralla said afterward.

Most of the comments under the preceding story are just sickening examples of the bigotry and ignorance that is shockingly common in the USA.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eddie Who?

I heard the song "Eddie Who" once in the late 1980s and tried to no avail to hear it again ever since - until today when I found it on iTunes.

The entire song is just Eddie Harris giving his musical resume, but I got a kick out of it. In the fade-out Eddie Harris clarifies to an anonymous person that he is neither Eddie Lock-jaw Davis, Eddie Murphy, nor Eddie Cleanhead Vinson.

from Wikipedia:
Harris also came up with the idea of the reed trumpet, playing one for the first time at The Newport Jazz Festival of 1970 to mostly negative critical feedback. From 1970 to 1975, he experimented with new instruments of his own invention (the reed trumpet was a trumpet with a saxophone mouthpiece, the saxobone was a saxophone with a trombone mouthpiece, and the guitorgan was a combination of guitar and organ), with singing the blues, with jazz-rock (he recorded an album with Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck, Albert Lee, Ric Grech, Zoot Money, and other rockers). He also started singing and to perform comic R&B numbers like "That is Why You're Overweight" and "Eddie Who?".
more on Eddie Harris

Eddie Harris on saxophone, performs "Compared to What?"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

more gossip please?

A playwright friend recently told me that this blog doesn't have enough personal stuff - which is odd because I usually think it's too personal. I would think people would prefer charts comparing Democratic to Republican tax plans and quotes from Schopenhauer to gossip about my life.

But for the sake of balance I will at least file a report from the wild wild world of Internet dating:

Bob, 49, contacts me, says: "You seem sweet, but I am probably too liberal for you."
Now considering that I am incredibly liberal and that he works on Wall Street, and lives in the suburbs, this doesn't seem likely, so I ask him if he's "negging" me - a concept from the creepster world of "pickup artists." But I deleted his response because my assumption was that he either was, or he just felt like randomly insulting me. I occasionally do get insulting email from conservative guys because I state in my profile that I do not like conservative guys. At all.

So he contacts me again and I tell him that I'm not into guys with white beards (which is completely true, it skeeves me out) although he's one of the few available guys in my age-range who has a decent head of hair - and I have finally come to the conclusion that I do have a fetish about men's head hair. But still - white beard - ugh. And really, any beard is kinda ugh. But a white beard doubly so.

So to my amazement he shaves the beard. He reports back to me that he has gotten lots of positive responses. He also says I have a "nice face." Hmmm... we shall see about this one. I really didn't expect him to shave his beard, I expected him to respond the way most middle-aged guys respond to any suggestions that they might alter their appearances - which is with lots of hostility. Middle-aged men fervently believe that women don't actually care what potential sex partners look like, and besides they believe there is nothing so spendiferous as a middle-aged man in his natural state - no hair-dying, no use of hair products at all, no buying fashionable and/or flattering clothes, and no shaving unless you have to for your job. Hell, plenty of them don't even bother dealing with their excessive nose hair.

And then they'll pursue women who are much younger than themselves and then complain about gold diggers. There is nothing so delusional as a middle-aged man. So this one is definitely a surprise.

More dating gossip to come - I do try to be amusing and not boring.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Just as the blog Nudity Required, No Pay is indispensable for today's modern woman surfing the net, so too is OKStupid, the place for people, especially women, to share some of the stupid and obnoxious communications they get from people on Internet dating sites. My favorite so far:
him: hey scrumptious
him: you remind of a yummy stew with dumplings :) perfectly seasoned
me: okay. I think that's a compliment…
him: it is, do you prefer “aww your so beautiful" "i like your breasts” etc etc
me: not really
me: but I’m not into cannibalism either.
him: majority of ppl aren't I’d hope
him: why did you bring up cannabilism?
me: what do you normally do to stew? talk to it, or eat it?
him: bad day?
me: no, I’m always like this
him: fuck you then
me: you don’t want to do that to stews either.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's lovely to live on a raft

TWO or three days and nights went by; I reckon I might say they swum by, they slid along so quiet and smooth and lovely. Here is the way we put in the time. It was a monstrous big river down there -- sometimes a mile and a half wide; we run nights, and laid up and hid daytimes; soon as night was most gone we stopped navigating and tied up -- nearly always in the dead water under a towhead; and then cut young cottonwoods and willows, and hid the raft with them. Then we set out the lines. Next we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen up and cool off; then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee deep, and watched the daylight come. Not a sound anywheres -- perfectly still -- just like the whole world was asleep, only sometimes the bullfrogs a-cluttering, maybe. The first thing to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line -- that was the woods on t'other side; you couldn't make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness spreading around; then the river softened up away off, and warn't black any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along ever so far away -- trading scows, and such things; and long black streaks -- rafts; sometimes you could hear a sweep screaking; or jumbled up voices, it was so still, and sounds come so far; and by and by you could see a streak on the water which you know by the look of the streak that there's a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it and makes that streak look that way; and you see the mist curl up off of the water, and the east reddens up, and the river, and you make out a log-cabin in the edge of the woods, away on the bank on t'other side of the river, being a woodyard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through it anywheres; then the nice breeze springs up, and comes fanning you from over there, so cool and fresh and sweet to smell on account of the woods and the flowers; but sometimes not that way, because they've left dead fish laying around, gars and such, and they do get pretty rank; and next you've got the full day, and everything smiling in the sun, and the song-birds just going it!

A little smoke couldn't be noticed now, so we would take some fish off of the lines and cook up a hot breakfast. And afterwards we would watch the lonesomeness of the river, and kind of lazy along, and by and by lazy off to sleep. Wake up by and by, and look to see what done it, and maybe see a steamboat coughing along up-stream, so far off towards the other side you couldn't tell nothing about her only whether she was a stern-wheel or side-wheel; then for about an hour there wouldn't be nothing to hear nor nothing to see -- just solid lonesomeness. Next you'd see a raft sliding by, away off yonder, and maybe a galoot on it chopping, because they're most always doing it on a raft; you'd see the axe flash and come down -- you don't hear nothing; you see that axe go up again, and by the time it's above the man's head then you hear the k'chunk! -- it had took all that time to come over the water. So we would put in the day, lazying around, listening to the stillness. Once there was a thick fog, and the rafts and things that went by was beating tin pans so the steamboats wouldn't run over them. A scow or a raft went by so close we could hear them talking and cussing and laughing -- heard them plain; but we couldn't see no sign of them; it made you feel crawly; it was like spirits carrying on that way in the air. Jim said he believed it was spirits; but I says:

"No; spirits wouldn't say, 'Dern the dern fog.'"

Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and talked about all kinds of things -- we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us -- the new clothes Buck's folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn't go much on clothes, nohow.

Sometimes we'd have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a spark -- which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water you could see a spark or two -- on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts. It's lovely to live on a raft...
the rest of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn online

HUCK FINN - my adaptation.

A highlight of the book, IMO, is the argument between Huck and Tom Sawyer about how to handle any Genii you have summoned. It's from chapter three, which you can hear on my blog here. I recorded the entire book in the summer of 2006. I was unemployed then.

the gigantic ball of Republican tax cuts for the wealthy

via Ezra Klein

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jet Blue flight attendant and David Sedaris

The story of the flight attendant who went for the escape chute - and which office worker hasn't wished for an office with an escape chute - made me think immediately of the essay by David Sedaris published in last week's New Yorker:
When I asked another flight attendant, this one male, how he dealt with a plane full of belligerent passengers, he said, "Oh, we have our ways. The next time you're flying and it comes time to land, listen closely as we make our final pass down the aisle."


We're forever blaming the airline industry for turning us into monsters: it's the fault of the ticket agents, the baggage handlers, the slowpokes at the newsstands and the fast-food restaurants. But what if this is who we truly are, and the airport's just a forum that allows us to be our real selves, not just hateful but gloriously so?...

...It's a depressing thought, and one that proved hard to shake. It was with me when I boarded my flight to Portland and it was still on my mind several hours later, when we were told to put our tray tables away and prepare for landng. Then the flight attendants, garbage bags in hand, glided down the aisle, looking each one of us square in the face and whispering, without discrimination, "Your trash. You're trash. Your family's trash."

And that's why David Sedaris makes a living as a writer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Go Gabby

I've done a disservice to the inestimable blog "Nudity Required No Pay" by harping on the one entry. Gabby has amusing stuff on her blog all the time - and as she says:
HAPPY 200TH ENTRY Nudity Required, No Pay readers! Thanks to all you lovelies out there who need a good laugh. But thanks even more to all you nutters who are busy writing scripts for a sci-fi/fantasy/historical/thriller/horror feature, which will shoot with no budget, after the cast drives themselves to the backwoods of Pennsylvania, to run through the woods naked, doing their own stunts. Your optimism is refreshing and I wish you the best! Keep the ads coming...

You can bet that the nutters don't read her blog - they wouldn't want to anyway because it might ruin their illusions that the poor desperate female actors who smile at them and laugh at their lame jokes actually like them and think they're cool.

Some goodies:

It's Funny Because It Sounds Degrading!

The Best Soldiers Have The Biggest "Bazookas"

The Romance of Prostitution!

and my personal favorite post title:

Thin Mints is PEOPLE!

Nudity is so often required from actors - especially female ones - in these kinds of movies - and rarely is there pay. Some screenwriters do OK for themselves though (and don't have to get naked) - some of them, like Eric Steele, even have agents who hammer out agreements and "secure great deals" for them. Well who can afford to pay actors when you're giving screenwriters great deals? But then again, if you want a script chock-a-block full of hoverbikes and floating casinos you expect to pay - that kind of daring originality doesn't come cheap. Move over Robert Towne.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Apparently Manhattan Theatre Source sucks

Manhattan Theatre Source sucks according to Andrew Bellware - I wonder if government arts grants agencies personnel ever read his blog.

Well actors from MTS can always find gigs getting naked in hi-quality B movies. I'm sure it will be a relief from all that pretentious art-house shit where nobody gets paid anything.

Immortal Beloved - Ode to Joy

A compelling scene from the movie "Immortal Beloved."

The movie is not historically accurate in many respects, but the section at the end of this clip is based on a true event:
When the audience applauded - testimonies differ over whether at the end of the scherzo or the whole symphony - Beethoven was several measures off and still conducting. Because of that, the contralto Caroline Unger walked over and turned Beethoven around to accept the audience's cheers and applause. According to one witness, "the public received the musical hero with the utmost respect and sympathy, listened to his wonderful, gigantic creations with the most absorbed attention and broke out in jubilant applause, often during sections, and repeatedly at the end of them." The whole audience acclaimed him through standing ovations five times; there were handkerchiefs in the air, hats, raised hands, so that Beethoven, who could not hear the applause, could at least see the ovation gestures. The theatre house had never seen such enthusiasm in applause.

At that time, it was customary that the Imperial couple be greeted with three ovations when they entered the hall. The fact that five ovations were received by a private person who was not even employed by the state, and moreover, was a musician (a class of people who had been perceived as lackeys at court), was in itself considered almost indecent. Police agents present at the concert had to break off this spontaneous explosion of ovations. Beethoven left the concert deeply moved.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Is it just me?

From his article about his long difficult recovery from heart surgery, Rich Hamlin writes:
I found myself thinking about death all the time... I sat in a business meeting, looking around the table thinking, "Do all these people know they are going to die?"
I've never had heart surgery but I think that all the time during business meetings. It helps pass the time.

Is it just me?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Next play production: Even Odds

This 10-minute play will be in the next John Chatterton playlab in mid-September. It's based on a true incident - when I was about 8 I couldn't fall asleep because I was afraid of dying and my good ole dad sat with me until I fell asleep.

Even Odds

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I see dead people!

When you've run a writers group for almost ten years, combined with seeing off-off Broadway plays of friends and acquaintances, you notice certain trends and ways of thinking.

There's a definite trend when writing about the 9-11 tragedy. In three separate plays, written by people who don't know each other, the set-up was this: somebody died on 9-11, but their significant other still believes them to be alive - and we are not let in on the reality until the very end of the play. In all three cases this makes for an annoying sensation of having been ripped off. You've been watching the hallucinations of a crazy person, which have no actual consequences.

It's sad of course, when someone loses their loved one, but to watch someone hallucinate is to remove you from any actual story, with actual cause-and-effect. It prevents the emotional orgasm that is the true goal of any theatre production.

I suppose it could be claimed that the hallucinations are a metaphor for the person's grief, but there's no reason to have a metaphor for grief. We all get grief. And billions of people have lost someone they loved without going nuts and believing the dead person is still alive.

Two of these plays I saw as readings, but one was a full production I saw at Manhattan Theatre Source in September 2007. And for once I wasn't alone in my response to a play - the actor I attended the show with, a former friend I'll call G - emailed me the next day to discuss the shortcomings of the play, along with other topics. The subject line of his email was: "I see dead people!"

A rare moment of honesty in the phony happy-talking off-off Broadway theater world.

Friday, August 06, 2010

the wackness

Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold had something pretty astute to say nine years ago about theatre:
The world's bursting with stories, the public loves them, but artists somehow feel embarrassed about telling them. In the theater, dramatic narrative has become the last taboo.

I've been thinking about this because it's only partially true, in my recent experience. Playwrights I know are telling stories - but the stories they tell seem to be aimed at being as wacky and random as possible.

Apparently incoherence and illogic are thought to be cool, or even the dread "cutting edge." But this is a huge problem because you need coherence and logic in order to accomplish cause-and-effect, which is the basis of a satisfying story.

I can think of four recent plays right off the top of my head written by playwright acquaintances that start out by having possibly something of value to say, or an intriguing concept - and then it gets shot all to hell with random wackiness or lack of logic.
  • A play where a dead woman has a fistfight with The Devil. Even though she's just a regular, albeit dead woman, with no discernible superpowers and he's The Devil presumably with almost god-level powers, she defeats him. Later there is a large closed box, which appears to be there for no other reason than to give the author an excuse to make a Schoedinger's cat reference. People time-travel, they suddenly have magic powers then lose them, they come back from the dead, then go away, then come back. No explanations, no rhyme or reason and virtually no cause and effect. Just "stuff happens."
  • A play where the Earth is besieged by zombies. At least I think it's the Earth although the humans don't act like Earthlings - on the planet I live on humans have proven themselves capable of slaughtering other humans with perfect ease on the basis of religious or ethnic differences - but in this play they are incapable of even cremating zombies to make sure they don't come back. And this in spite of the fact that the zombies are already dead and therefore can't even be "murdered" - and the zombies are also causing disease and pestilence in the world. Then there's the complete lack of rules for re-animation - sometimes you become a zombie many hours after being infected with zombies germs - but other times it happens minutes later. Basically you become a zombie whenever it is narratively convenient. There were other logic disconnects but I've forgotten them - and really the ones I mentioned are perfectly sufficient to torpedo the play. Yet this play was actually published.
  • A play about a woman who is writing a play and she's stressed out about it and she hallucinates all these people and events - or DOES she? We never find out. If she's just hallucinating, why do I give a shit about it? Stories about crazy people with crazy ideas just aren't that interesting, especially since the big issue of this play was whether or not the protagonist wins a playwriting prize. This play was brought in by a former member of NYCPlaywrights - I knew she was going to be trouble when she joined, against my better judgement, when she insisted that she didn't need to follow any stinking standard playscript format in order to facilitate the timing of her plays. Right then I knew she was too full of herself to ever write a good play - she is incapable of editing a single syllable of the precious pearls she lays down on a page. And while there were entertaining moments in the play and she could write dialog, I knew that the plot itself would ruin everything. She didn't want to listen of course - her attitude was that if people found her story incoherent it was because they were too fucking stupid to get it.
  • Another play by a member of NYCPlaywrights - again, some interesting dialog and concepts, but there's no coherent cause-and-effect - random stuff happens for no apparent reason, there's an angel for no apparent reason, there's a talking fish for no apparent reason. And then... the end.
But based on the responses of other people to these plays I must be one of the very few people who values coherence and logic over wackiness for the sake of wackiness. I'm often told I "think too much." Apparently thinking excessively is a rare trait, one that few other theatre-goers share.

As usual, Schopenhauer nails it:
When any genuine and excellent work makes its appearance, the chief difficulty in its way is the amount of bad work it finds already in possession of the field, and accepted as though it were good. And then if, after a long time, the new comer really succeeds, by a hard struggle, in vindicating his place for himself and winning reputation, he will soon encounter fresh difficulty from some affected, dull, awkward imitator, whom people drag in, with the object of calmly setting him up on the altar beside the genius; not seeing the difference and really thinking that here they have to do with another great man....

...So even Shakespeare’s dramas had, immediately after his death, to give place to those of Ben Jonson, Massinger, Beaumont and Fletcher, and to yield the supremacy for a hundred years. So Kant’s serious philosophy was crowded out by the nonsense of Fichte, Schelling, Jacobi, Hegel.

Schopenhauer really hated Hegel.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

time to end harassment

Women in northern India, one of the most viciously patriarchal societies in the world are fed the hell up:

Gulabi Gang
Sampath Pal Devi grew up in Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh and, like many of the women in her community, married young - at 12. She witnessed violence against women as an everyday part of life. It was unsafe for women to go to the outdoor bathrooms at night for fear of assault. Domestic violence and beatings were common. At the age of 20, Ms. Sampath Pal fought back, organizing a few women armed with brooms to thrash a notorious wife-beater.

Now in her 40s, she runs the Gulabi Gang. "This country is ruled by men," she said in her asthma-roughened voice. "No use asking them for help. We women must fight our own battles ourselves."

Gulabi means "pink" and refers to the color of the saris Ms. Sampath Pal and her band of women wear. The movement has grown from that tiny core of four concerned women to a movement that covers much of rural Uttar Pradesh, one of the most conservative states in India. The brooms have evolved into canes. The Gulabi Gang has thrashed recalcitrant officials and police officers who wouldn’t register cases of domestic violence. It also runs vocational centers that offer practical ways of employment and empowerment for women.

In the US and other countries we have Holla Back - the main focus is to use cell phone cameras to get good pix of the harassers and post them online.

Thanks to technology women are fighting back - although as the Gulabi Gang demonstrates, sometimes brooms are good too.

And unfortunately assholes can use technology to find novel ways to harass. I mentioned some of the harassment I dealt with when I blogged about a film director whose casting call was on Nudity Required, No Pay. What I haven't mentioned on this blog is that the search string harassment went on for a month after I blogged about it in March.

Here are some of the things that the harasser - and I know who it is via web statistics - said to me via search strings:

[my name] heavens mergatroyd needs it hard in the ass
[my name] heavens mergatroyd slurps it down
[my name] heavens mergatroyd can't keep cock out of her ass

And quite a few others, but you get the idea. But also, since harassers are never responsible for harassment, he also sent me this search-string message:

heavens to mergatroyd [my name] brings this on hersel

And the best part is that this asshole hangs around with women who apparently believe themselves to be feminists. Yet they seem to have accepted that their role in life is to do all the shit-work for men who make films and theatre productions. What harassing exploitative douchebag wouldn't love "feminists" like that?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010



It's so funny - blogger Duncan Black, AKA Atrios of Eschaton fame (which has been on my blog roll since I first started blogging) occasionally refers to Paul Krugman as "Krgthulu." I haven't been able to find out if he's ever given a reason for it. The earliest incident seems to be from December 2008.

He may only have done it occasionally, but it's enough so that if you Google "Krgthulu" the second hit that comes up is Krugman's own blog.

Usually I call him the Mighty Krug-Man, but I might start calling him Krgthulu too. It's pretty much the same thing - Krugman's awesome might. That's my guess for why Black uses the term - out of affection. Chthulu is:
... one of the central Great Old Ones of the Lovecraft Mythos. It is often cited for the extreme descriptions given of its hideous appearance, its gargantuan size, and the abject terror that it evokes. Cthulhu is often referred to in science fiction and fantasy circles as a tongue-in-cheek shorthand for extreme horror or evil.

Krugman is a big sci-fi fan (he was inspired to become an economist via Asimov's Foundation trilogy) and I bet he gets a kick out of the name.

The Left doesn't always agree with Krugman, but he gained so much respect from so many left-liberal bloggers because all throughout Bush's ascension to power and the early days of the Iraq war, Krugman was one of the very few pundits who would not slack off criticisms for the sake of "patriotism."

And to the Powers that Be, Krugman really is a powerful nemesis because:

a. Krugman is a self-professed liberal and

b. important enough that what he says is actually listened to by the people in power, who usually ignore liberals.

In fact, I think Krugman's influence has become so great that he has begun to influence the market, big time. He's been criticizing the "bond vigilantes" for months now and as reported (via Krugman's blog) by economist Stan Collender: "Bond Vigilantes are Now Deficit Cheerleaders.
It’s clear that the bond market is now giving at least as strong a signal about its desired fiscal policy as it did in the early 1990s. But instead of demanding reductions in the deficit and government borrowing and threatening higher interest rates if those don’t happen, today’s vigilantes are unmistakably saying just the opposite. They want Washington to do more to stimulate the economy, and they welcome the deficit and debt it will take to do it.
I don't have evidence, just a hunch, but I think that Krugman has become that influential. It's amazing that he's still not a household word. Krugman is kind of like the Velvet Underground of economists - "only about a thousand people bought The Velvet Underground & Nico, and all of them started a band." (TV Tropes attributes this to Brian Eno.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Rosemary's Baby

I went to see "Rosemary's Baby" at Bryant Park last night with a mob of people - great night for it - cool enough for a sweater. We ate hummus and drank wine and got re-acquainted with old theatre friends and it was all-around free fun. I wasn't too impressed by the movie though... I guess because I'd heard it was so awesome and scary and it was neither. And I despise Roman Polanski. And I liked Ruth Gordon much better in "Harold and Maude."

I've always heard good things about John Cassavetes and liked him even better when I read Mia Farrow's autobiography "What Falls Away" and she reported that Cassavetes and Polanski were at each others' throats throughout "Rosemary's Baby"- and also...
One workday, while we were waiting to shoot, Roman was discoursing about the impossibility of long-term monogamy given the brevity of a man's sexual attraction for any one woman. An impassioned John Cassavetes responded that Roman knew nothing about women, or relationships, and that he, John, was more attracted than ever to his wife Gena Rowlands. Roman stared at him and blinked a few times, and for once had no reply.

Awesome - Man vs. Rapist Pedophile.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Marshall Pup vs. Cassandra the fembot

I better not go too crazy with putting "video clips" into my plays, but since video clips are now part of everybody's lives, it kind of makes sense to use them sometimes. And I get a kick out of having actors pretend they are in a video, on stage. It worked out pretty well when Daniel Genalo, as Buddy, did the Hamlet clip. So I had to stick another one in. In Act II of JULIA & BUDDY I have a clip of Buddy in the movie "The Cassandra Directive" - Buddy decides to get back into acting via movies since he has memory problems. Julia thinks the role is beneath him.

Also, J&B is inspired by "The Owl and the Pussycat" and that play features technology that was the Youtube of the time - television. So there's definitely a precedent.

And since this is at the begining of Act II, the quick change shouldn't be as difficult. Unless I don't do an intermission. I'll have to think about this.

The trio of actors who regularly visit this site will appreciate this "video clip" from "The Cassandra Directive."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

TALLEY'S FOLLY: Stalker triumphs in love

I had forgotten the plot of the 1980 Pulitzer-prize winning play TALLEY'S FOLLY because I could barely stay awake when I saw a community theater production. The plot is basically this: a stalker stalks a woman for a year, and then gets her alone and talks her into submission through the sad tale of his life. The woman, of course, is beautiful and eleven years younger than the non-beautiful middle-aged stalker.

I didn't remember the stalker aspect of the play when I saw it, I just remember the incredible lack of anything interesting on the stage, but Wikipedia lays it out:
While on vacation in Lebanon, Missouri the previous summer, Matt met Sally and has sent her a letter every day since. Though the single reply from Sally gave him no hope for romantic encouragement, he has bravely returned to ask her to marry him.


Sally arrives at the boathouse and is in disbelief that Matt has shown up uninvited, even though he had written her that he planned to come for the holiday.


Matt's interest in Sally had never waned; once, he drove from his home in St. Louis to the hospital where she worked and waited hours for her, even after being informed that she was not available.


Admitting that he has called Sally's aunt every two weeks during the past year, Matt reveals that he knows Sally was fired from a Sunday school teaching job..

And after all this, he gets her alone and then talks her into marrying him in under two hours. Because this play is a middle-aged creeper's wet dream.

Notice how the Wikipedia entry - which sounds like it was taken right from marketing copy - refers to the stalker coming to confront the stalkee after a year of rejection "brave"?

You would think that with all this creepy stalking, the play would have more dramatic tension, but my memory of it was just two people - mostly the man - talking and talking endlessly and then they get engaged. Even I didn't pick up on the creepy stalker angle when I saw it in 1993. My guess is because the play - and the playwright - consider a man stalking a woman to be not only unremarkable, it's even considered sweet and "brave" - like it's just something that men do - no does not mean no. This attitude has always served men, not women, even if it wasn't considered potentially criminal harassment in the 1940s when the play was set, or the late 1970s when the play was written.

But we call it what it is now - stalking and harassment. But anybody who puts this play on clearly considers stalking perfectly acceptable - even "brave."

In any case, even the disturbing stalker aspect does not give this play any dramatic power. That's pretty amazing.

Every now and then a critic will notice that this play is really boring but they almost always blame the production and not the lame-ass play.

The fact that this play won a Pulitzer demonstrates only one thing - that as usual, when it comes to theater, most people cannot discern shit from Shinola. Robert Graves, the author of "I, Claudius" got that - which is why he said: "A remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good in spite of all the people who say he is very good."

I don't care if it means I won't get a Pulitzer Prize - I refuse to make JULIA & BUDDY, also a two-hander about heterosexual love - as boring as this play. And nobody will talk anybody into marrying them on the basis of persistent stalkertude.