Thursday, June 30, 2011

the porntastic world of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

On June 6, DSK pleaded "not guilty" of sexual assault and according to the New York Times, the defense has indicated that it will argue that any sexual encounter was consensual.
“Once the evidence is reviewed it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion whatsoever, any evidence to the contrary is simply not credible,” said Benjamin Brafman, one of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers.

Whether he's guilty or not of rape I will never buy the idea that a chambermaid would suddenly drop what she was doing, out of her own free will, and give a blowjob to an elderly stranger. There is only one place where this kind of thing happens - in olde tyme porno films.

Not that I have alot of experience with those, but based on what I've seen from the movie "Boogie Nights," pre-Internet porn tried to come up with stories - albeit absurd and cheezy stories.

So here's DSK's porno script:

(MUSIC CUE. Electric guitar with wah-wah effects pedal plays: "bow chicka bow-wow")


SHOT FROM BEHIND: The magnificent beast DSK, portly, graying, 60-something. All women want him, all men want to be him. DSK is drying himself with a towel.



Cleaning service.


Come een.

The maid enters. She is in her 30s, but even so, still attractive.


Oh, excuse me, I did not think there would be a semi-naked attractive man here.


Oh, zo you lahk what you see hahn? Well whaadabout zees?

He turns to the camera and drops his towel. Water from his shower still glistens on his big round belly, which is covered with gray hair. He is fully erect.


Oh, what a wonderful surprise.


Oh yes, Ah have a teep for you baybee. Hawn hawn hawn.


Oh magnificent man, I wish you to make love to me right now.


Oh Ahm zo zorree, Ah do nawt 'ave zee tahm to devote to l'amour as much as Ah would lahk - I am to meet mah dau-tair for zee luncheon in 'af-an-owair.


Oh you tease. But at least allow me to perform fellatio on you. You owe me at least that much.


Well, Ah can't leave you frustraited can Ah? But fairst Ah must lock ze door.


Oh you think of everything you magnificent beast.

She gets down on her knees.


Mais oui. Hawn hawn hawn. Now mahk eet queek, Ahm hongree beetch.


So am I!

MUSIC: Bow-chicka-bow-wow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

who is the gaucho, amigo?

My Facebook friend Mike Doughty has me thinking about Steely Dan - apparently someone was attacking the Dan and Doughty was defending the Dan - as well he should.

There are so many reasons why Steely Dan is great. Here's just one reason: "Gaucho" the title track from their 1981 album.

The Dan is known for perfectionism and that reached its peak in Gaucho. According to Wiki:
Even though the session players hired for Gaucho were amongst the most talented from both the East and West Coast session fraternities, Fagen and Becker were still not satisfied with the basic tracks for some of the songs, particularly with regard to the timing of the drum tracks. In a 2006 interview for SOS Magazine, Donald Fagen stated that he and Becker told recording engineer Roger Nichols:

"'It's too bad that we can't get a machine to play the beat we want, with full-frequency drum sounds, and to be able to move the snare drum and kick drum around independently.' Nichols replied 'I can do that.' This was back in 1978 or something, so we said 'You can do that???' To which he said 'Yes, all I need is $150,000.' So we gave him the money out of our recording budget, and six weeks later he came in with this machine and that is how it all started."

According to Ken Micaleff in an article in Modern Drummer, the title song's drum track was assembled from 46 different takes. The drummer on the session, Jeff Porcaro, is quoted as saying:

"From noon till six we'd play the tune over and over and over again, nailing each part. We'd go to dinner and come back and start recording. They made everybody play like their life depended on it. But they weren't gonna keep anything anyone else played that night, no matter how tight it was. All they were going for was the drum track."

Steely Dan's horn arrangements do occasionally get a little brassy for my taste, and the opening of Gaucho is a case in point. But the melody of the song makes up for it and it's the piano that really drives the song.

Apparently Gaucho was "intended as a tribute to Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett." Jarrett sued, claiming Becker and Fagen ripped off his "Long As You Know You're Living Yours." And if you listen to it on Youtube you can definitely hear the similarities. Becker and Fagen settled out of court for a million dollars and co-writing credit for Jarrett.

But as much as I like both the Jarrett and the Dan tunes, what really makes this quite special is the subject: a gay casino owner's jealous relationship with his boyfriend.

Lyrics from the Steely Dan web site
Just when I say
"Boy we can't miss
You are golden"
Then you do this
You say this guy is so cool
Snapping his fingers like a fool
One more expensive kiss-off
Who do you think I am

Lord I know you're a special friend
But you don't seem to understand
We got heavy rollers
I think you should know
Try again tomorrow

Can't you see they're laughing at me
Get rid of him
I don't care what you do at home
Would you care to explain

Who is the gaucho amigo
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
And your elevator shoes
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome

What I tell you
Back down the line
I'll scratch your back
You can scratch mine
No he can't sleep on the floor
What do you think I'm yelling for
I'll drop him near the freeway
Doesn't he have a home

Lord I know you're a special friend
But you refuse to understand
You're a nasty schoolboy
With no place to go
Try again tomorrow

Don't tell me he'll wait in the car
Look at you
Holding hands with the man from Rio
Would you care to explain

Who is the gaucho amigo
Why is he standing
In your spangled leather poncho
With the studs that match your eyes
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend
Will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome

So a straight male song-writing team got a song about a gay relationship onto Top 40 radio in 1980. That's just one example of Steely Dan's subversiveness.

Of course the Beatles had already pioneered this sort of thing, with the "tit tit tit" backing lyrics of Girl and "four a-fish and finger pie" of Penny Lane. But Gaucho is an excellent continuation of that tradition.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time to retire, Grampaw.

Dan Rottenberg—Editor of Broad Street Review—Spews Vile Rape Commentary

Of course Dan Rottenberg is only saying what so many people - especially of his generation - believe. That if a woman deliberately puts herself some place where MEN might also be present, then if she is raped, she only has herself to blame. Because that is how men are. Because men absolutely cannot help themselves. If they see cleavage or a thigh or a woman practicing journalism they MUST RAPE. It's the splendiferousness of being an all-natural male animal and women must bow to nature.

It's funny, if a straight guy is raped because he went somewhere that he knew gay men would be, would creepy old coot feel the same way about the natural rape urges of males?

Granted this is in some obscure Philadelphia cultural rag that almost nobody reads, but it must be said: IT'S TIME TO RETIRE, GRAMPAW!

The wisdom of Mistress Ilsa


Any time you hear a religious man ranting about something, calling it an abomination, you know that this is exactly what he wishes for the most. Do you know how many of these Bible thumpers who talk about the evils of homosexuality are paying a man for sexual services?


How many?


All of them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

pix etc

Long MISTRESS ILSA rehearsal today and I'm wiped out - directing always wears me out because I'm concentrating so intently the whole time - not to mention spending part of the time doing producer duties like making sure the actors get fed.

But I couldn't resist taking a picture of today's sunset, seen out my living room window:

Then since I was taking pictures I couldn't resist taking pictures of the two cutie-wootie cats nearby. I use to have a cat tree, but ditched it during one of my moves, so I had to create one using the top two shelves of this storage unit - the bottom two selves have printers and paper and a caddy with scissors, pens etc.

Mr. Fuzz always goes on the third shelf and Miss Willow always goes on the top shelf. Occasionally Mr. Fuzz ventures onto the top shelf when Miss Willow is already there and then LOOK OUT.

Miss Willow gets cranky any time something different happens - you can see her ears going back a little in annoyance because I was taking a bunch of pictures. If she doesn't understand it, she doesn't like it.

And soon she decided to take a hike.

But Mr. Fuzz doesn't mind.

When something different is happening his main concern is investigating it to see if he can either eat it or play with it. He's so brave that he even comes out to see the actors during rehearsals at my place. Don't get me wrong - he's nervous and eventually gets scared and has to run back into the bedroom, but he will usually at least make the rounds to sniff each person and give them a chance to pet him. This always makes the actors very happy.

With Miss Willow, as soon there is even a hint we might have visitors - even if I start to straighten up the living room - she immediately goes to her safe place in the basket under my bed. That's just how she likes it and don't ever try to make her do anything else. She won't have it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

straight from the scuttlebutt: it's the end of an era

I miscalculated - I actually only had one more Willie the Whaler ad! This is it.

I saved this one for last because it represents the fulfillment of all Willie's desires - that is, to kick back in his hammock, boots off, holding a tall cool drink aloft, gazing upon it with the reverence normally reserved for a relic of one's patron saint.

Word origins of "scuttlebutt" courtesy of The Word Detective:
As a synonym for "the word going around" or "gossip," "scuttlebutt" dates back to the days of sailing ships, when men were men and ships lacked plumbing. If a sailor wanted a drink of fresh water to quench his thirst between floggings, he made his way to the "scuttlebutt," the tall ships' equivalent of today's water cooler. The "scuttlebutt" was actually nothing but a small wooden keg with a hold cut in its side, used to hold the crew's daily ration of drinking water. The name "scuttlebutt" is a logical combination of "scuttle," meaning to cut a hole something, and "butt," meaning a small cask or keg (from the Latin "butta," cask or wine-skin). Incidentally, casks were not the only things "scuttled" at sea. To "scuttle" a ship means to deliberately sink her, usually by cutting a hole in the side below the water line.

And another related item - there is a newsletter about sailing appropriately called The Scuttlebutt.

So I've posted about 45 Willie the Whaler ads and unless I find any new ones in the 1961-65 issues of the New Yorker this is it. I will see about an animated gif - or maybe even a little movie with a sailor's hornpipe playing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

YAY for gay rights!

Now I'm really bummed out - I was going to go to the Pride parade tomorrow but now have a MISTRESS ILSA rehearsal scheduling conflict. Damn - tomorrow's parade promises to be one of the biggest and best ever thanks to last night's marriage vote.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Inside Job - the goods

In this trailer of Inside Job, the movie that everybody should see, there is a clip of the therapist I mentioned, which was part of the inspiration for MISTRESSS ILSA.

His name is Jonathan Alpert and he says: "These people are risk-takers, they're impulsive, I see a lot of cocaine use, prositution..."

Although technically a dominatrix is not classified as a prostitute...

Interesting interview with the director/producer of Inside Job in the Huffington Post.

ooh pretty

I really like my camera phone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Best movie title ever

I just discovered that prior to Citizen Kane, in 1938, Orson Wells wrote and directed a comedy film that was never publicly screened and of which there is no complete surviving print.

And the name if this lost gem? Too Much Johnson

This is now officially my favorite movie. Move over Seven Samurai.

Speaking of which, they forced us at work the other day to have a meeting in which my team (business analysts and technical writers) sat around a table and answered questions such as "what is your favorite movie."

Well I realized I was in a room with fifteen blue shirts but even I was amazed that not only was I the only person who named Seven Samurai as my favorite movie - I was the only one who had even seen it.

So what did the other people in the room consider the best movie ever? The Hangover. New In Town. And a bunch of other movies I'd never heard of. No wonder I'm so alienated from these people.

Now for some Samurai to clear my head...

This clip contains spoilers - so if you haven't seen this movie, go see it NOW!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

POTUS: "I am the Baby Master!"

I find this absolutely adorable.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - Barack Obama Calms a Crying Baby
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Only three months until autumn

It's the first day of summer and that means one thing - it's just three months until autumn.

I didn't used to hate summer. Back when I was a schoolgirl, summer meant vacation from school, so I loved it. Now, however, summer no longer means vacation. And so there is no point to it. Especially since I can't stay out in the sun long, and I do not tan. I almost had a tan the summer I was a lifeguard, but it wasn't so much a tan as a darker shade of pale visible outside the area that had been covered by my bathing suit. I worked as an art school life model that autumn and you could see the different skin shades in the drawings of me.

I dislike summer so much I wrote a sonnet about the first day of autumn in celebration of the end of summer last year. The sonnet really says all I have to say on the subject. The only thing I can add is at least I'm not alone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Irish hurricane

I believe this is the only example in the entire Willie the Whaler oeuvre in which Willie engages in irony - double irony even, since "Irish hurricane" meant the opposite of an actual hurricane - it means "a flat calm with no wind."

So why would anybody fall overboard during conditions like that?

I think we all know why.

Monday, June 20, 2011

blogging potpourri

I took a walk in Astoria Park this morning and lo what did I find? A piano:

Luckily I had heard about the Street Pianos project or I might have thought I was hallucinating. And yes, of course I played it.

Well just when I think that David Mamet can't go any lower, I read Christopher Hitchens's review of his book The Secret Knowledge.

Mamet has gone so far right that Christopher Hitchens chides him for liberal bashing.

Although you have to give Hitchens big points in complete lack of self-awareness - he begins his review:
This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason.

This from a man who quit a long-held post at The Nation when he decided to support the Iraq War, and had this public exchange with Katha Pollitt.

But Hitchens does look loyal, consistent and reasonable compared to Mamet, if his review is accurate.

The most absolutely flabbergasting part:
On the epigraph page, and again on the closing one, Mamet purports to explain the title of his book. He cites the anthropologist Anna Simons on rites of initiation, to the effect that the big secret is very often that there is no big secret. In his own voice, he states: “There is no secret knowledge. The federal government is merely the zoning board writ large.” Again, it is hard to know with whom he is contending. Believers in arcane or esoteric or occult power are distributed all across the spectrum and would, I think, include Glenn Beck. Mr. Beck is among those thanked in Mamet’s acknowledgments for helping free him from “the bemused and sad paternalism” of the liberal airwaves. Would that this were the only sign of the deep confusion that is all that alleviates Mamet’s commitment to the one-dimensional or the flat-out partisan.

You have to wade through Hitchens's usual excessive poncy verbiage to get to the stunning revelation: David Mamet is an admirer of Glenn Beck.

Anybody who is not an idiot knows that Glenn Beck is either crazy or a charlatan or some unholy combination of the two. I mean surely even a percentage of paranoid black helicopter-dodging right-wingers must watch Beck and say "I don't know - that seems kind of nuts."

One of the great things that Jon Stewart does in his parodies of Beck is to mock Beck's crazed numerology-like search for hidden meaning in word combinations. It's seriously disturbing - it's very close to tin-foil helmet territory.

When I saw Mamet's latest play RACE last summer I said it was the kind of play that a Teabagger might write - but if Mamet is a follower of Glenn Beck he's even worse than a Teabagger.

However, the review demonstrates that there is at least one thing on which Mamet and Hitchens can still agree: feminists are bad.

MISTRESS ILSA's web site is online - and I changed the logo. And I came up with this show mascot:

I didn't draw it, it's clip art. But I changed a few things from the original art.

Unfortunately the play is not quite as political as I'd like, or as this image might indicate. I'd love to make the audience listen to a Paul Krugman lecture on the economy, but that's hardly drama. The play is about Mistress Ilsa's relationship with her apprentice dominatrix as well as her struggle against a rival. I do get a plug in for the movie "Inside Job" though. And actually that movie did influence my take on this play - a psychologist in the movie talks about all the drugs and prostitution that many hot-shot Wall Street types are involved with.

And I did some homework yesterday and found out about this memoir Whip Smart by a former dominatrix, Melissa Febos. And oh my prophetic soul - in my play Mistress Ilsa has clients from Wall Street as well as cops - and sure enough the author of Whip Smart says on Fresh Air with Terry Gross that alot of her clients were Wall Street types and also that many clients were police officers.

I friended Melissa Febos on Facebook. She seems very nice.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

cute naked guy on Spring Street

This week the Spring Street Studio had the best life model that I've seen there yet. I drew a whole bunch of pictures of him. I'm not sure what his ethnicity is - it might be Latino and Asian.

He had short hair, unfortunately, but made up for that with an awesome body and long tapered sensitive-looking hands.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

patriarchy is killing my libido

Jesus Christ, what is this with men's hair these days? I don't see why any man would worry about going bald anymore since most men wear their hair so short they might as well be bald.

I realize that I'll likely never again see the glory days of the early 1970s when I was first hitting adolescence - but do we really have to go back to the 1950s style crew cuts?

And actually it's ever worse - at least men in the 1950s were clean-shaven. Now men cut the hair on their head down to a stubble - and let their face hair grow long. Ugh!

Well I Blame the Patriarchy. It keeps telling straight men that women are "not visual" and so men don't have to do anything about their appearance except for the most minimal effort - bathing and occasionally trimming nose hairs. And what this means is that, while nobody can escape the uglification of the aging process entirely, most men go seriously downhill after 40. My ex-husband and a bunch of old boyfriends from my teenage years are on Facebook and wow are they unsavory-looking. You practically can't tell they're the same people they look so much worse now.

And of course the belief that women don't care what men look like is so nice and convenient for men. Whenever I ask a man why he doesn't grow his hair it's always the same reason - short hair is easier. Well fucking DUH! But you don't see women walking around with crew cuts, because long hair looks better.

I'm not the most girly-girl in the world, but even I keep my hair at least shoulder length at all times, often longer. Which means I have it cut, colored and styled regularly and on a daily basis use conditioner, blow-dryer, flat iron and gel. And even then I can't get it reliably straight and smooth every day - but at least I make a damn effort!

Most women go through so much work to look good because we're all competing for the same, very few straight men who make an effort to look good.

I have a theory about this. Men don't bother trying to look good for women because they can always pay a prostitute to pretend not to notice how ugly they are. Or find a mail-order bride from Russia or Southeast Asia or Central America who are so desperate to get out of those hideous hell-holes they'll gladly marry an ugly old meal ticket.

Either that or they just sit around whining about how women are a bunch of perverse masochists who don't like "nice guys" such as them. Because while men expect women to live up to extremely high visual standards, men themselves can be bald ugly trolls. Hey - the prostitutes and mail-order brides never complain!

Really though, considering how few straight men are actually interested in women as human beings it's a wonder they don't all just go to prostitutes and save everybody alot of time and trouble.

Friday, June 17, 2011

et in ARCADIA ego

(this review contains spoilers for both ARCADIA and Kushner's THE INTELLINGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE...)

OK loyal readers and fanemies, I know what you are thinking: "just what the hell did Nancy think of ARCADIA already? It's been a week. I must know!"



I liked it better than THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE... - but if you read what I wrote about that, you know it isn't a high bar at all.

But ARCADIA has a plot that is clearly more carefully crafted than HOMOGuide - and it's very intricate indeed. Just keeping track of the plot inter-weavings will keep you diverted for the entire three hours.

I've said that I think Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA might be the best play of the 20th Century - and I like that play better than anything I've seen by Stoppard. Which admittedly isn't alot - I've seen ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD - which I suspect is his best; THE INVENTION OF LOVE (I saw this ten years ago and barely remember it) and now ARCADIA.

Actually I think Stoppard's best work is his (co-written) screenplay for Shakespeare in Love - I was genuinely distraught by the parting of Will and Viola. I've never felt nearly as emotionally effected by anything else by Stoppard.

And that's what drama is all about - emotion. It's too easy for smart people like Stoppard and Kushner to keep the entire proceedings all up in the head.

In fact, I'm worried that my JULIA & BUDDY is too head-over-heart in its current incarnation, although it is supposed to be a comedy. Must work on this further.

Unlike HOMOGuide, I don't have the impression that Stoppard just quit by the third or fourth draft of ARCADIA. He went over it again and again until the plot worked like a fine Swiss watch.

In fact he is so pleased by the intricacy of the plot that he lets the audience figure out what happened in the big tragic scene through the gentle suggestions in the dialog - rather than showing the big tragic scene.

Probably because actually showing tragedy is so unseemly and unclever. It's just - boom - emotion. How animal - how feminine.

How much more admirable might one be if one's plot is intricate and clever and witty? Anybody can show you awful things happening right on stage - where's the glory in that?

Shakespeare, of course, never shied away from showing the actual effects of tragedy.

And mind you - according to reviewers, like Vincent Canby in the NYTimes in 1995 - this play is actually supposed to be unusually emotional for Stoppard!

But to backtrack a bit - ARCADIA has two time periods - Regency England and late 20th century England, both in the same grand manor house. And they are connected because Hannah, from the late 20th century is researching a hermitage (a small decorative but functional building created as part of a designed landscape) wherein there was found reams of paper with mathematical notation. It turns out the notation was done by Septimus Hodge the tutor of girl-genius Thomasina who figured out chaos theory and the second law of thermodynamics decades before anybody else.

The plot goes back and forth between the two time periods as the 20th century researcher and friends guess - sometimes correctly, sometimes not - the meaning behind all the artifacts and events which we see in the Regency scenes. Eventually Hannah figures it out. And then the "meaning" of the play: that human romantic love is the root of chaos theory- we don't fall in love with those we are "supposed" to fall in love with - is demonstrated through a scene in which Hannah waltzes with her boy admirer Gus, the young mute brother of Hannah's would-be fiance Valentine; and Septimus waltzes with Thomasina.

This spectacle is creep-out city. Both child actors look very young - Thomasina is supposed to be almost seventeen in that scene, but she looks younger - and the actor who plays Gus also plays Thomasina's younger brother, so he's a teenager too. And Septimus is in his late 20s, while Hannah is in her 30s. I don't think Stoppard is actually trying to promote pedophilia - or hebephilia, if you want to get technical - but it still looks creepy as all get-out.

But the actual big tragic event is that Thomasina dies in a fire on her seventeenth birthday and it is implied in the 20th century section that Septimus went crazy as a result and that is why he spends the rest of his life living in the hermitage trying to work out Thomasina's equations.

We don't ever see any of this. The Regency period plot ends the evening before the fire.

Now compare that to KING LEAR - we don't actually see the death of Cordelia, but we've seen Lear go nuts and we see him recover his wits long enough to mourn the death of Cordelia - while she is actually in his arms - and then we see him die of a broken heart.

We get none of that in ARCADIA - we hear a researcher say that the person in the hermitage was probably crazy and we hear a researcher say that Thomasina died in a fire on her seventeenth birthday. And we congratulate ourselves for figuring out what happened. But we don't get to see what happened.

We don't actually have to see Thomasina die in a fire - we don't see Cordelia actually die - but we could at least see the effects of Thomasina's death on Septimus as enacted by the actor - not as theorized by researchers two centuries later.

And then there's HOMOGuide - we don't actually see the death of the family patriarch - the play ends when he manages to find somebody to help him commit suicide who isn't his favorite child.

In ANGELS IN AMERICA we get to see Roy Cohn die. Right there in front of us. With the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg watching and gloating.

Granted it's not Roy Cohn's story, it's mainly Prior Walter's story - but we get to see Prior go to heaven and decide not to die. It's a big moment.

The final scene of ANGELS gives you a prefect understanding of Tony Kushner's weakness as a dramatist, which, up until that last scene is kept perfectly in check. Prior is given a nice monologue but then the other characters bicker bicker bicker. That's what happens in HOMOGuide the most - bickering. And Kushner loves the bickering so much he gives loud overlapping bickering a full seven obnoxious unintelligible minutes.

With Stoppard it's love of puzzles that is his downfall. Shakespeare in Love transcends that, maybe in part because of his co-author, but maybe because we know that William Shakespeare didn't leave his wife for Gwenneth Paltrow. So the movie has to end with their parting. And that's no puzzle - it's just sad - so sad that it puts a stop to all the cleverness and we just feel the sadness - and the anger at the injustice of arranged marriages and laws against divorce. It's about feelings.

But so many contemporary intellectual playwrights seem to believe that it's just too literal and too voyeuristic to actually show intense emotional responses on stage. Much more satisfying to set up a plot-puzzle to be solved.

I have to agree with Hilton Als in the New Yorker, reviewing the current production:
The play draws its voracity from historical facts, which the author manipulates in a variety of ways, but which end up feeling as intellectually nourishing as pork stuffing, and about as moving. “Arcadia” takes place in the early nineteenth century and in the present day, on the same English estate. The seven scenes that make up this very long play alternate between then and now, eventually overlapping, though by that time we’ve nearly lost the thread of the plot altogether. Stoppard’s aim is not to show us people but to talk about ideas.

And so there was only the tiniest hint of an emotional orgasm with ARCADIA (and none at all with HOMOGuide - I just wanted that to end.)
ARCADIA provides one of those dud orgasms where it's more like a sudden release of tension than an intensely-felt emotional-physical response. You end up feeling just a little more relaxed, not exhausted and exhilarated.

However, of the six of us NYCPlaywrights who attended, only myself and the other playwright - he's an actor-playwright - were dissatisfied. Not everybody requires an emotional orgasm to be satisfied, I guess.

And after all, that's already been done by Shakespeare - the belief now is that art is about doing something different and new and let's face it, tragedy provokes the same feelings in us as it did in Shakespeare's audience. Where's the inventiveness in that? Who's going to admire you for your edgy risk-taking with a bunch of been-done human emotions? It's not about making love to the audience these days - it's about having people pay to watch you masturbate.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

what is a Latvian accent anyway?

We did the first complete read-through of MISTRESS ILSA tonight. It went pretty well, although a sticking point is the Latvian accent of Mistress Ilsa and her rival dominatrix The Snake. The joke of course is that nobody knows what a Latvian accent sounds like - and it's so true. You can't even find good examples on Youtube. I mean two of their presidents whom I found, being interviewed in English, sound like they're from England, basically.


Valdis Zatlers

Vaira-Vike Freiberga

And last but not least, a tiny sliver of English with a Latvian accent in this Latvian wife-carrying competition.

It's sort of Russian-sounding, sort of Greek-sounding, sort of Italian-sounding. Finally I gave up and told the actors to consider Arianna Huffington their model.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

critters above

All old cities have fun architecture full of various critters on the facades of buildings. On a recent lunch hour I noticed some.

Lions are without a doubt the most popular animals to put on buildings. Here's one in bronze on top of a library.

Here's a stone lion on a bank - or former bank I think. And there was another one on the other side of on the former bank.

But what's this one in the middle of the former bank. It doesn't look like a lion.... and on closer inspection it's not.

It's an old hound dawg - definitely the first time I've seen one of those on a building.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

speaking of theatre

Watch live streaming video from newplay at

Here is Julia Jordan's superb keynote address at the Dramatists Guild conference.


I never watch awards shows, but I almost regret it after seeing this number - it's really a perfect piece. NPH is great and the dancing is great and the cameos are great - even Brooke Shields's screw-up.

And such great lines -

"Attention every breeder you're invited to the theatre, it's not just for gays anymore"

"There's so much to discover with your different-gendered lover."

Stephen Colbert: "I enjoy the theatre I've enjoyed it all my life, I enjoy it with my female woman wife."

"Come in and be inspired there's no sodomy required."

"We'd be twice as proud to have you if you go both ways."

I agree with Joel Gray - "wow!"

And also, there's a one-second shot of Kelsey Grammer - and David Hyde Pierce is sitting right next to him! FRASIER GEEK MOMENT!

I kid you not.

Frasier is also not just for gays.

Also, I hugged David Hyde Pierce.

Not recently - but so what - did YOU hug David Hyde Pierce???

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mug up and hit the deck

Well here we see one of those rare Willie the Whaler ads in which he is not referring to alcohol. He seems to be exhorting his crew mates to get to work.

After this ad I'm down to the last three Willie/New Yorker ads. I've been having no luck at all with the New Yorkers from the 1950s - they just ran the same three or four Willie ads, nothing new is ever introduced. I'm about half-way through 1959, which means there are about four or five more years of Willie ads, and I'm doubtful I'll see any new ones.

I've been posting Willie ads since November of last year, it will be weird not to post him any more. When I get to the last Willie ad, I'll have to do something special, like maybe make a gif animation of Willie.

Wait a minute... I just found two distinct definitions of "mugup" online - one that is similar to the term "bone-up" which means to apply oneself with more effort, and in the The Dictionary of Nautical, University, Gypsy and Other Vulgar Tongues: A Guide to Language on the Street in 18th and 19th Century Streets of London "to get tipsy." Well now things are making more sense...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Acela baby

Well this is more like it - I am taking the Acela Express back from the Dramatists conference and it does have wifi, unlike that antique Northeast Corridor train. I feel just like Paul Krugman! Plus it takes 30 minutes less to get to Penn Station. Yay!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

people & nature

Well I sure made lots of connections here at the Dramatists Guild this weekend. I finally met my Facebook friend Gary Garrison; made a friend who does musicals; got two Dramatists Guild regional directors to agree to write testimonials for NYCPlaywrights - they each had good things to say both about the web site and my approach to developing plays; reconnected with a couple of old members of NYCPlaywrights; found an actor for my upcoming MISTRESS ILSA and bonded with a playwright from NYC who is a big fan of Schopenhauer - he studied philosophy - and included Wittgenstein in one of his plays. And last but not least, Ralph Sevush of the Guild said that he stopped by the Copyright Office in DC on Friday to discuss a variety of issues with them, including the final removal of the ill-gotten and invalid Edward Einhorn "blocking and choreography" script registration. Finally.

The highlight of the Guild's scheduled events was the speech given by Julia Jordan. It was about women playwrights not being produced - she discussed the content and even origins of Emily Glassberg Sand's Princeton thesis Study: Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender: An Integrated Economic Analysis of Discrimination in American Theater [pdf] but also she masterfully put it in the context of her grandmother's life. She gave the credit to Marsha Norman for her speech's structure - Norman is something of a mentor to her - and Norman later took the stage for a discussion on the issues of female playwright parity. Jordan got a standing ovation for her speech.

I can't do the speech justice, but I heard the speech transcript would be made available and so I will link to it as soon as I find that.

Eventually I needed a break from all the issues and schmoozing. The George Mason University campus is lovely, so I took a walk around. It's semi-bucolic and I hardly ever travel anywhere so I wasn't about to miss out on exploring a little - the George Mason Conference Center is pretty much the same as any other hotel. My iPhone came in handy both for the GPS that helped me find my way around, as well as the camera. I have to say - I forgot how good nature smells.

Here is the bridge over Mason Pond; a big impressive status of Confucius; a sculpture called "Marionette Master"; and a tiny little house called Cross Cottage, which reminded me of the description of the Hermitage, which figured in the play ARCADIA. I can't find any explanation for why a one-room cottage was created other than this: "Constructed by Cross Builders and other Northern Virginia builders, Cross Cottage represents the local building industry’s contributions to the arts at Mason. It was donated to Mason as the main auction item for the 1988 Arts Gala." I peeked inside - it's empty. Just a tiny empty cottage by the pond.

politics vs. theatre

Well I had this big review of ARCADIA that I wanted to write, but instead I've spent this evening arguing with Lindsay Beyerstein on Facebook about Anthony Weiner. There is this constant refrain among some liberals that the main problem with the Anthony Weiner situation is that Americans are a bunch of puritans.

I believe this is the line the French are using to defend Dominique Strauss-Kahn - not just the rape allegation but his reputation as a serial harasser. It's also the term that Hollywood people used to defend Roman Polanski. And also, on Facebook, Barbara Ehrenreich said that the Bloomberg-promoted ban on smoking in NYC parks was mainly about puritanism.

Now, we live in a world in which you can get virtually any kind of porn, online, through a 2-second Google search. And almost nobody even talks about it. Puritanism sure has evolved quite a bit since the 1600s.

I will have more to say about this later. But now, back to the thee-aye-tah!

Friday, June 10, 2011

On my way to Virginny!

I thought I'd be blogging from the train but it turns out this local NE corridor service has no wifi so I'm actually blogging from my iPhone which is tedious. I'll have to wait til I get to the hotel.

But exciting news - MISTRESS ILSA will definitely be in the Midtown International Theatre Fest. Looks like those extra bullwhips I accidentally bought for HUCK FINN are gonna get used finally.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

busy busy busy theatre weekend

Going to see ARCADIA tomorrow night finally, for free along with my pals Alice Anne, Bruce, Allan, Diane and Mike. Yay! I expect that my response will be quite similar to my response to Kushner's THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE TO YADA YADA YADA except that for half of the play I will be in heaven enjoying the male cast members all got up in Regency period clothing. I so wish that style would come back. Including the hair and sideburns.

And then I start my 3-day weekend, taking the train on Friday down to Fairfax Virginny to attend the Dramatists Guild's first annual conference. I will be blogging/tweeting from there, especially if I go to any after-parties. I heard Albee's a party animal.

If I do meet him, I wonder if I should mention I got a tour of his loft as an incentive to develop a web site for some guy from Texas who was hanging at Albee's place while Albee was out on Montauk. This was over ten years ago, but still, I feel like I should say something. Plus I want to know if he still has that artwork, created by his boyfriend, wherein men's briefs were pasted onto canvas and then spray-painted black. I don't think too many women can say they saw Albee's bedroom AND his underwear!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy Dance of Evil

I've been really getting into listening to my iPhone in its iPod mode. Songs sound really great through headphones.

In fact a song I wrote, "The Happy Dance of Evil" sounds great through the headphones. I enjoy listening to it right up there with Bob Marley and the Beatles. I wrote the song to send my play GOOD WOMEN OF MORNINGSIDE off with a bang. The good women were actually evil - although they considered themselves good, but more importantly superior to most other people, which is why they justified being such habitual lowdown bitches to other people whenever they could get away with it. The "good" women were based on a couple of lowdown bitches that I, regrettably, had personal dealings with.

At the end of the play the "good" women do a happy dance of evil to celebrate the fact that they hurt another person for their own personal amusement.

However, while listening to Happy Dance the ending bothered me. The song basically repeats the guitar lead melody line, with slight variations, twice, and both times the verse ends with a crashing sound. But I decided to make the last crash much louder, so I threw in whatever Garageband had, including the sound of a volcano erupting which was just perfect - you can hear the sound of fire at the end which is perfect for conveying a vision of hell.

It really should be heard with headphones though - the bass is almost lost otherwise, and the bass is an essential component for conveying the evil.

Unfortunately GOOD WOMEN OF MORNINGSIDE only had a few performances - I might recycle the song for my upcoming MISTRESS ILSA.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

New rules for pervs

1. Admit that you have no control over your perviness.

2. Don't get married.

3. Don't run for office.

Oh give me a break!

Monday, June 06, 2011

going deep six

Never let it be said that Willie ever wasted alcohol. Here we see him diving overboard to rescue a bottle of booze. Not only is the act of diving overboard a hassle but he stands to be beaten for it - the term "introduced to the gunner's daughter" means:
The British naval tradition of bending a sailor over a ship's gun to be lashed with a cat o' nine tails

Sunday, June 05, 2011

the pension rejection is reversed

So finally Cecelia Young got the news from the Department of the Interior. The letter she received included all the info that I've posted here, without such details as William Young's being dissipated or John Pfingstag's sprees. The decision rested on this:
The evidence shows that John A. Pfingstag had a wife living from whom he was not divorced, at the time he married claimant, and under the laws of Pennsylvania he was unable to contract a legal marriage with claimant. His marriage to her was therefore null and void. The mere fact that his former wife had commenced an action in divorce prior to his marriage to claimant, but never prosecuted the same to final judgmenet, and was never granted a decree, did not give him capacity to contract another marriage.

For the reasons above stated the Department is of the opinion that claimant's marriage to Pfingstag was void abinitio, and she, therfore, is, and always has been, the widow of William H. Young, the soldier, and as such is entitled to the pension claimed, if found to be dependent.

The action appealed from is reversed, and you will reopen and readjudicate the claim in accordance with this opinion. The papers are returned herewith.

Very respectfully,

(illegible signature)

Assistant Secretary

And with that Cecelia Young got her pension:

She got $20 a month, later raised to $50 a month.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

sucker for technology

Mr. Fuzz isn't sure what to think.

I sure am enjoying the photographic capabilities of my new iPhone. I've really made a huge leap with this purchase - for the past seven years I had an antique Blackberry that was built like a tank, and like a tank the only way to kill it probably is to submerge it in water, which I did. Accidentally of course.

So I had to get this new iPhone and it does so much more than the tank - it has a color display for one thing, it changes window orientation - sometimes too much but anyway, it can take videos as well as audio-only voice notes and of course the photos. Very accurate GPS, a direct link to Apple apps, texting with a fun word-balloon interface, plus other stuff that I haven't even discovered yet.

My daughter thinks I should get Angry Birds, but I'm not ready to waste even more time than I already do on Facebook.

These roses are in front of my apartment building. Not everything is maintained perfectly here, but they do a great job with the flowers in front.
Other pix: Empire State Building from the south, Atlas on 5th Avenue, a community garden at 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, and last but not least, this weird mosaic on the far northern end of the Queens-bound R/N 8th Street station. There are a bunch of mosaics representing NY city life, but I don't know about this one - it's supposed to be a pharmacy I gather, but the proprietor sure looks like an alien to me.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Cecelia Young's quest for a pension, cont'd

So Cecelia Young was deposed February 4, 1904.

She had filed the original pension claim in 1902 but that was rejected on the grounds that Cecelia was married to John Pfingstag - the deposition was to clear the record and establish Cecelia's widowhood.

What did the Special Examiner, George D. Sidman, who conducted the examination think of her deposition?

Well in his letter to the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions dated February 29, 1904 he wrote:
After some trouble I was able to locate Pfingstag's former wife and obtain her testimony... I corresponded with the Prothonotary for Berks County with the view to obtaining a copy of the divorce records in the case of Pfingstag vs. Pfingstag but the attached letter shows that the divorce decree was never entered on the record, if it was ever made, which is doubtful. I went to the Court House and personally inspected the record in question and found it shown in the letter referred to. I also went to the City Hall in Reading and examined the marriage records in the Board of Health, covering from 1875 to 1880, with the view to ascertaining if Mary M. Moore had been married prior to 1860, but found no record.

So the Special Examiner supports Cecelia's story, but then he calls her a liar. In her deposition Cecelia claimed that John Pfingstag said his former wife was dead, but the Special Examiner says:
There is no doubt that claimant knew all about Pfingstag's former wife and when they thought the divorce had been obtained they married without verifying the divorce. The story she tells about the Priest parting her and Pfingstag may be true but I doubt it. She admits that his attorney told her she would have to get a divorce from Pfingstag before the claim for pension would be allowed and she had given up all hope of ever getting it.
So it sounds like there had been some moves towards Pfingstag getting a divorce from Mary M. Moore, but it never went through and he and Cecelia married in the belief that Pfingstag was divorced. Which makes Pfingstag not so much a rapscallion as careless about official details. Which would make her much more likely to forgive him and stay with him anyway, in my view.

Then again it's quite possible that Cecelia was deeply Catholic, much like her granddaughter - my grandmother - was, and the shame of this all coming out in front of a priest was too much. The fact that Pfingstag was not a Catholic and (so Cecelia thought) divorced was bad enough. Maybe she told the Priest that she thought Pfingstag's first wife was dead. But who can really say?

Anyway, Sidman comes through for Cecelia in the end. He makes two points - first that he believes Cecelia's marriage to Pfingstag was invalid:
I have no doubt that claimant could get her marriage to Pfingstag set aside if she made application in the regular way, as the record would be sufficient evidence upon which to base an application.

And that she was still legally the widow of William Young:
I have procured and filed herewith a certificate from the Prothonotary for Phila. Co. showing that no divorce was ever granted to the soldier or this claimant. There is no doubt of soldier's identity with claimant's husband, as claimed for.

And finally, he recommends that the initial denial of the pension claim be reconsidered:
I respectfully recommend reference of this case to consideration of the Chief of Board of Review.
And as a result...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

'cause she got box-back nitties and great big noble thighs

I've blogged previously about how much I enjoy listening to the various performances of the Grateful Dead's version of Turn on Your Lovelight. I'd been rooting through the Grateful Dead archives at to try to find the first performance of that song by the Dead, who else has performed it with the Dead besides Janis Joplin, etc. But meanwhile some Deadheads have already done the work for me on this page the best of Turn on Your Lovelight. Sheesh. The photo on that page is from Pigpen's early fat period. He looked much better later on - and possibly due to his alcoholism (alcoholics supposedly neglect eating so they can drink more), which eventually killed him at the age of 27 - which makes him a member of the 27 club along with Janis Joplin.

I found the page because I started to Google this funky thing Pigpen sings right in the middle of some versions of Lovelight:
She's got box-back nitties
And great big noble thighs
Working undercover with a boar hog's eye

Lucky they had the lyrics because I would never have figured out what he's singing based on the recordings alone. And not even Jerry Garcia knew what he was on about:
"...I have no idea where he got that thing he used to sing: 'She got box back nitties and great big noble thighs, working undercover with a boar hog's eye.' Don't ask me - I don't know what the fuck that's all about! It's some weird mojo shit or something. But he could always pull that stuff out. He could do that as long as I knew him. When he was on, he was amazing."

Here I thought that the Woodstock version of Lovelight was the longest at 38 minutes, but they did a 42 minute version at the Lanai Theater on 1969-11-15.

Supposedly the first time they did Lovelight was at the O'Keefe Center in Toronto on 1967-08-05 although not everybody on the gig forum agrees. It's a very early one and by far the shortest and tightest version, clocking in at a mere 8:58.

Usually there's a prelude to the "box-back nitties" section as in this version from the April 1970 Winterland concert:
Wait a minute - I wanna tell yah all, just a taste, just a little bit about my rider, how come she make me feel so nice, how come she make me feel so good sometimes. I ain't gonna tell you all, I just tell yah a little bit. How come everything is so good:


You can hear it on that Winterland recording at 3:50 (including prelude).