Friday, September 30, 2011

Hot Man in Regency Period Clothing of the Week - forgotten hottie edition

I heard a harp piece by Elias Parish-Alvars on a classic radio station today. The harp was his thing. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of him. I really liked the music.

So I looked him up and not only is he a respected, if little-known harpist he was also a hottie - of course the Regency era get-up always helps any man, as you can see by this very nice pencil sketch:

You can see a larger version here. Well worth it to see the pencil lines in detail.

Several of his pieces are available on Youtube. Here's one:

Poor guy died of pneumonia when he was only 41.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year - and it started at sundown yesterday. It seems strange to start a new year in the early days of Autumn, rather than the dead of winter, but plenty of other cultures have done it. The Celtic new year is Halloween, the middle of Autumn.

My ex-husband is Jewish although not observant by any stretch. But his parents were Conservative Jews, which means, as far as I can tell, they attend Synagogue regularly and have separate dishes for milk-based and meat-based meals and celebrate all the Jewish holidays. My ex and I used to attend the big holiday meals, for Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and wow did I love the food. My mother is an awful cook (and my daughter assures me I have inherited this trait) and our family never went out to restaurants so I was very deprived, food-wise, growing up. I never had cheese that was not pasturized-processed pre-sliced American Cheese until I was 15. That's also how old I was the first time I had a bagel. So traditional Jewish food was new and exciting to me, and my first experience with a bona fide ethnic cuisine.

Although one of my favorite Jewish dishes, kugel, at least classic kugel, is basically glorified mac-and-cheese, as this Alton Brown recipe demonstrates, but there are many variations, including with raisins and with broccoli. Mmm yummy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

make that absinthe please

I was taken to Beekman Bar and Books last night by a very congenial, continental and erudite gentleman - he's even read Russell's Principia Mathematica - how many people can make that claim? - and I lost my absinthe virginity, finally.

So what is absinthe like? It's very... anise-y. Like Italian Christmas cookies. I liked it, even though I'm not fond of anise as a flavor. My date had Scotch, and he insisted I try a sip. I did not tell him what I really thought of the taste - that it reminded me of paint thinner. No, I just do not get Scotch. I bought my ex-boyfriend a 30-year-old bottle of Glen Morangie scotch for Christmas seven years ago, and that reminded me of turpentine.

Give me a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc instead, any day.

I don't remember why I became so fascinated by absinthe, now, but I put a reference to absinthe in my adaptation of "Jane Eyre" although it's mentioned nowhere in the original. That's very unusual for me - I rarely take liberties with my classic literature adaptations unless absolutely necessary. Perhaps I was inspired by Rochester's often referring to Jane as a fairy, and absinthe is known as "le fee vert" - the green fairy.

Beekman Bar and Books is right near the United Nations, so I got to have a walk down memory lane... or Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to be precise. I haven't been there since my ex-husband and I hitch-hiked to New York so we could participate in a No-Nukes rally in Central Park. After that we joined up with a hard-core No-Nukes faction to do a sit-in at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and we all got arrested for civil disobedience. Good times.

I'm not sure why DHP was selected as a good location for a sit-in. It isn't even within viewing distance of the UN, although the neighborhood is full of various national consulates and the like. When they arrested us they put us all on buses parked by DHP and made us wait a couple of hours while they processed us.

I was pregnant at the time and after we were released on our on recognizances I desperately had to use the bathroom but was turned away by the nearby bar - nothing as fancy as Beekman B&B, but the proprietor was apparently too genteel to permit a the scruffy likes of us to use the facilities - so genteel that she claimed they didn't have a bathroom and when we enquired what she and her patrons did when nature called replied "we drink our piss!" Welcome to New York.

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza sure looks different when it isn't full of hippies though...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I really do think there's something wrong with David Mamet

And not just because he's now a right-winger. Not even because he's so far right that he is an admirer of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. No, I think he has Alzheimer's and I predict that within the next five years it will be announced that he has it.

I've said that before, but I'm even more convinced now, since I discovered that his arguments against - and raw hatred of the Left - are so poor, so extreme that he is even embarrassing conservatives.

A Facebook friend posted a link to a review of Mamet's The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, in the American Conservative magazine. Scott Galupo writes:
Turgid when it’s not imperious, utterly lacking in fresh insight, full of breathtakingly stupid generalizations, The Secret Knowledge is, for a writer of Mamet’s caliber, nothing short of embarrassing. What is this thing?
Like I said - they're embarrassed. And no wonder:
The 63-year-old Mamet thinks he has a lot to say—there are stale-tasting gripes about feminism, affirmative action, abortion, and a jaded riff on the impracticality of liberal-arts education—but really he ends up saying the same thing over and over. In short: Capitalism, free markets, and families are part of the naturally evolved order of things, and liberals can’t do anything except screw up that ecological balance.
Well I called it over a year ago after I saw RACE - I said it was like a play written by a Teabagger. Except it wasn't LIKE a play written by a Teabagger - it IS a play written by a Teabagger. An extreme Teabagger. And I am convinced that he had Michelle Obama's thesis, scurrilously touted by right-wing talk radio as a hate-whitey polemic, in mind when he created the Susan character.

But since David Mamet is a Great Man of the Arts I'm sure he rarely hears criticism from anybody he deals with on a regular basis, and he gets most of his information, by his admission, from talk radio - right-wing talk radio. So as far as David Mamet can tell, he's the greatest thinker ever, people are lining up to kiss his Great Man of the Arts ass. So why shouldn't he just spout whatever comes into his head without any second thought?

And since he very likely has Alzheimer's, what comes into his head is a big jumble:
No, Mamet ventures far out of his comfort zone in this book. With startling self-assurance, he informs us that “polar bears are not, in fact, decreasing but increasing in population; the earth is not, in fact, warming.” And: “Carbon dioxide is not harmful to the atmosphere. There have, in the past, been periods, much colder than today, when the CO2 in the atmosphere was twenty-five times what it is today. Carbon emissions offer no threat whatever to the planet.”

How can Mamet possibly know this with such certainty? How much has this “reformed Liberal” thought about climate science at all? Whatever one’s opinion of global warming, and of the environmental movement more broadly, is it not obvious that Mamet is clutching a new holy book and believing everything in it as a matter of course?

Elsewhere Mamet declares that “Most legislation aimed at eliminating unhappiness and discontent has resulted in misery.”

“Most”? Really? A fair-minded liberal reader could be forgiven for wondering if Mamet would include, say, Social Security and Medicare. Sure, the old-age pension and healthcare programs have serious long-term financing problems that may come to bankrupt us. But have they resulted in “misery”? If so, why are they so darn popular?
And this is coming from a writer for the American Conservative.

Well it's common for old rich men to suddenly decide that it's time for those damn kids to get off their lawn, and I hadn't heard, but I'm not surprised by this bit of information from this same review:
Coming as it did on the heels of playwright Tom Stoppard’s denunciation of the British nanny state and self-identification as a “timid libertarian,”
So Tom Stoppard is an asshole too now. And speaking of Libertarians, those assholes at Reason, while having a few minor reservations, think Mamet's book is swell:
Readers on both sides of Mamet’s current political stance can take issue with his social conservatism. He is, among other things, an unbending proponent of traditional gender arrangements; and yet who even on the left can deny the miseries that have attended the decline of the two-parent family?
The decline of the two-parent family, as has been well-documented, is a function of poverty and of divorce. Mamet is divorced, naturally - right-wing men never have a problem with divorce in practice no matter how much they demonize it, or try to blame feminists for it, in their intellectually bankrupt theories.

This all confirms what I've said about OLEANNA - Mamet's creation "The Group" which controls Carol throughout the second half of the play, is a smearing caricature of feminism. But all the liberal Mamet fan-boys wouldn't hear it - Mamet was merely pointing out the dangers of political correctness. Well I'm sure they still don't want to hear it - and anyway, as long as Mamet is a bona fide Great Man of the Arts he will hang onto that asshole license the rest of his life, and any and all outrages will be forgiven. We've seen how that worked with Roman Polanski. If he can remain a Great Man of the Arts in good standing, with all the attendant perks and privileges, anybody can. And the eternally irritating John Lahr, that worshipper of all manly brutal manly playwrights, shows how it's done in his New Yorker review:
Is Charles guilty? Will Jack’s ingenious defense, revolving around the sequins on the black woman’s dress, work? The plot, such as it is, demonstrates the contention of Mamet’s Times piece, that “just as personal advantage was derived by whites from the defense of slavery and its continuation as Jim Crow and segregation, so too personal advantage, political advantage and indeed expression of deeply held belief may lead nonwhites to defense of positions that . . . will eventually be revealed as untenable.” In reality, Mamet would be hard pressed to defend his weasel words; onstage, where his story turns on racial profiling by blacks, he can make it seem plausible, if not persuasive.
He calmly acknowledges Mamet's outrageous racism in comparing slavery to some unspecified objectionable positions that some black people may hold. And the most he can say about it is that, well, at least Mamet makes it plausible on stage. And we'll never know if Mamet would be "hard-pressed" to defend himself - certainly John Lahr is never going to press him.

But mark my words - what this business with David Mamet is all about isn't so much an intellectual embrace of the principles of Conservatism, it's the sign of a cranky old man who is losing it. One more piece of evidence, a short article about Mamet's wife's music tour, also from the New Yorker:
The rest of Pidgeon’s tour was more mannerly. Its main complication was trying to conduct a life in two places. “I’m calling home a lot, but sometimes I don’t have time,” Pidgeon said. “Or the clock’s not right for West Coast time. My husband refuses to have a cell phone, or an answering machine in his office, and he turns off his phone when he works. So when he does call, he’ll call me all day until he reaches me. And then he says, ‘Where have you been, don’t you love me anymore?’ And of course there’s no way I can get him, so he doesn’t know I’ve called twenty times and let the phone ring and ring. ‘I called you back,’ I say stiffly.
I'd hit the road too if I was his wife. I hope for her sake she has a hot young man on the side, someone who's considerate and who is comfortable with modern technology, unlike old man Mamet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

homophobia hurts everybody

Brief but interesting article in the NYTimes about male friendships which makes it clear that homophobia doesn't only hurt young gay men:
Despite stereotypes of teenage boys as grunting, emotionally tone-deaf creatures who bond over sports talk and risk-taking, she said, their need for intimate friendship is as potent as it is for girls. Boys in early adolescence would speak candidly about those friendships to Dr. Way and her researchers, acknowledging the importance of having a best friend who was both repository and guard for their most private feelings.

But as the boys grew older, the intensity of those relationships faded. Boys feared being seen as “too girly” or even gay for expressing attachments to one another, even just for feeling them.

She leaned forward with evident urgency: “This is not some academic read I’m doing. The boys are aware of the power of their relationships. They are overtly saying, ‘I want him, I need him, I miss him — no homo!’ And then they grow up and become depressed.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Edward Einhorn did to my play TAM LIN and why all American authors should be concerned - part 8

The intrepid graduate student Kat Reynolds is working on a thesis that discusses theatre copyright issues and she asked me to discuss the TAM LIN case with her. This prompted me to review the case myself, which I have been doing off and on for a couple of months now.

One item of interest, and concern is this article by Joan Channick at the Theatre Communications Group web site. She argues in favor of a director's copyright and this is especially alarming coming from her since she is very well connected, being both the managing director of the Theatre Communications Group, the Director of the U.S. Center of UNESCO's International Theatre Institute, and an Associate Dean at Yale School of Drama.

I will be responding at length to her article later, but for now this strikes me as a very odd oversight. She says:
Although there is no definitive precedent yet, the couple of courts that have touched on the issue seemed inclined to find that direction is copyrightable... The first was a divorce case involving the royalties for an artistic director's direction of a play in the theatre where he was employed... The second was the well-known case where director Joe Mantello alleged that the Caldwell Theater Company in Florida's production of Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion! copied his stage direction...
She provides a link to the article in the New York Times that discusses the TAM LIN case Exit, Pursued by a Lawyer so she can't plead ignorance of that case. And in fact, unlike the Mantello case, we did not settle out of court, and most tellingly, the court did not "seem inclined to find that the direction is copyrightable." But just because the TAM LIN case goes counter to her claim doesn't mean it should not be addressed. The fact that our case was actually settled when Judge Kaplan ordered Edward Einhorn to cancel his copyright registration is significant.

Her solution to the issue of the disputes that are caused through the tradition-breaking quest for the director's copyright is contracts. But she's dreaming if she thinks that would be the end of it - what playwright would sign a contract allowing a director to own intellectual property based on their play? A playwright would be an idiot to agree to such a thing; the Dramatists Guild is dead-set against such an agreement; and those pushing for a director's copyright will not be bound, I am sure, by that solution since it would be an end to the director's copyright quest. Except between directors and the aforementioned playwrights who are idiots.

Even though the Mantello case was settled out of court - and Mantello received the equivalent of a director's fee, which sure sounds like it refutes Channick's claim that this is an example of a court looking favorably at a director's copyright - I believe it bears a closer examination. Based on the discussion in the Columbia Journal of Law & The Arts that I quoted from at length back in August, it appears to me that Mantello sued the Caldwell Theatre Company of Boca Raton, Florida on the basis of standard theatre practices - the Caldwell said they simply followed what was described in the published Actors version of the Love! Valour! Compassion! script. But Mantello decided to do a little legal prospecting in the hopes that the court would see copyrightable intellectual property in his work. It appears obvious to me that in spite of Channick's claim, the court did not see that. And of course neither did Judge Kaplin in the case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions.

The theatre is a world of traditions, and if it ever became common for stage directors to copyright their stage directions - which I don't think will ever happen, but if - I think a new tradition should be born - or rather, rediscovered - directing a play will be an extension of writing a play. I see no reason why that couldn't happen - stage directing is not nearly as impressive a feat as stage directors would like the world to believe - and it would finally put a stake through the heart of the director's copyright issue.

One final observation about Channick's article - she has a very unrealistic view of the Patent Office. She writes:
But unlike the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which scrutinizes and accepts or rejects registration applications, the Copyright Office does nothing more than see that registration forms are filled out correctly and the fee is paid.
Clearly she's not aware of the patent trolling phenomenon, which can only exist exactly because the Patent Office is so careless.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What? WHAT?!?

I've been working my way through the mid-1960s issues of The New Yorker looking for any last new Willie the Whaler ads. I don't have much hope of finding any so I haven't put much time and effort into the task. But it's still interesting whenever I finally do get around to looking, because old New Yorkers are fascinating time capsules.

For the most part the cartoons are pretty easy to get in spite of being almost 50 years old, but the one at the top of this post I just can't figure out. WHY is the man - presumably the husband, pointing at his wife and yelling "Come on, Gloria, for heaven's sake!" I mean, she's sitting there reading and smoking. Didn't people smoke all the time back then? In their homes, in their cars, at work, at the hospital. Is that little mark on the page supposed to be cigarette ash? Is that what he's pointing at? But then what's the joke? She's being sloppy and he's objecting - why would that be the subject of a cartoon?

No, it just doesn't make any sense.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn Equinox!

As of 9:04 AM today Summer 2011 is history. What a relief. Even though today was more like late summer - warm and humid - Autumn weather is a-coming. Here's my celebratory sonnet from last year.

Wiccans celebrate today as Mabon - pronounced "may-bun."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good work Bill Steyert and friends

As I noted a couple of days ago, I was at the rally in support of the Park51 community center last year and met media star Bill Steyert. It looks like our efforts paid off. As Rachel Maddow says:
Considering how popular it was for alarmists to use Park51 as a bogeyman, it surely must have been utter chaos downtown when it finally opened yesterday, yes?

No: there were no protesters, and the center enjoyed a quiet event last night featuring an exhibition of photographs of children. Sharia!!!
Our work here is done.

Tower Tatts

The "Play of the Month" for NYCPlaywrights recommenced in September. The theme for September was 9/11 and you would have thought that the ten-minute plays sent in for this would be fraught, emotional pieces dealing with all the drama and anguish and shock of that day. But no, of course not. At least half the plays were your standard reminiscence pieces, with people sitting around talking, sometimes ten years later, about what happened on 9/11/2001 and how it effected them.

Out of the 30 submissions, only four were even close to worthwhile: a magical realism piece about flying out of office buildings; a realistic but unfortunately not well-paced piece about gay lovers talking by cell phone while one is trapped in one of the burning towers; a "quartet" of actors conducted as if in a musical piece; and the one we finally picked, TOWER TATTS, which worked best in spite of its odd tone.

The image above is Bruce Barton and Mike Durell, who performed the reading we recorded at the latest NYCPlaywrights meeting. Bruce played a raunchy dude, a some-time construction worker who is currently doing clean-up at the WTC site (the play takes place a year after 9-11) who likes to get bizarre, obscene tattoos painted on his body. Mike is the tattoo artist. The focus is on Bruce's bizarre character - Bruce channeled Tom Waits for the performance - so the play has a raunchy, almost cartoonish tone, but with a serious undertone, especially given what we know about how working clean-up at Ground Zero impacted the workers.

So the tone is very different from all the other plays we received, and that turned out to be a good thing. And at least we didn't get a single play in which one of the characters was killed during 9-11 and their loved one can't accept it so thinks they're still alive and we don't find out they've been talking to a dead person until the end.

I will post an embed for the video after I've finished the final edit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

but with a name like that...

I had a glass of Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc last night. But not while I was blogging about how the Man is keeping me down. When you are blogging about how the Man is keeping you down, you have to be sharp, alert and you need both hands to type.

Also, I sipped the wine, I did not guzzle it.

I actually bought the wine for the next NYCPlaywrights meeting because many actors, it turns out, like to drink. But I thought it wouldn't hurt to taste-test it.

I must agree with Gary and Allison:
This is a very drinkable, with characteristic citrus fruit (a bit heavy on the grapefruit notes) with fresh herb and grass with a finish of mineral and acidity. And it is $8.99 a bottle.

However, so are a lot of other New Zealand sauvignon blancs. There really is nothing to make this stand out from the crowd.

It really is good, it just is not memorable.

I especially agree about the heavy on the grapefruit. But I didn't read the review before I bought this - I confess I got it for the label alone. How could you not buy wine named "The Infamous Goose"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

how Bill Steyert is spending his retirement

Regular readers of this blog may recall I met Bill Steyert at last year's rally in support of the Muslim community center planned for a couple of blocks away from the World Trade Center site. I saw him mentioned in the NYTimes again, and there he is yet again in Saturday's NYTimes, protesting Wall Street.
Bill Steyert, 68, who lives in Forest Hills, Queens, stood near the barricades at Wall Street and Broadway and shouted, “Shut down Wall Street, 12 noon, you’re all invited,” as tourists gazed quizzically at him.
Talking to a reporter, he elaborated, “You need a scorecard to keep track of all the things that corporations have done that are bad for this country.”
Dude gets around. I shouldn't be surprised his name keeps showing up, as I observed in my video of the rally last year, the press loves ole Bill Steyert.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Krugman is tired...

I found out about this image from Krugman's own blog.

Several people have noted the resemblance of Krugman to George Clooney - at least when Clooney is bearded, but Krugman is a tubby, nerdy version of George Clooney.

With a Nobel Prize in economics.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

better neighborhoods and gardens

The neighborhoods around Astoria Park have quite a collection of well-maintained gardens. Some are quite striking and even beautiful.

Some lovely purple foxglove:

I couldn't help noticing that the pineapple post-topper is very popular these days:

And lions are perennial favorites for domestic statuary - they are so ubiquitous I'm not even going to bother posting any pix. Instead I'll post the unusual pug dog toppers pixture:

And the nesting bird toppers, which were pretty, but they had about ten of them lined up in a row and I thought it was too much - these statues are a little too busy for too much repetition:

I thought this small front-yard design was pretty striking but it had one too many statues - the Saint Francis in the back doesn't work, IMHO.

And these people went completely overboard with the statuary:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

very charming video

Via the Mighty Krug-man

The Sesame Street version

Friday, September 16, 2011

make that Sauvignon Blanc please

I was defamed recently via Twitter. Which makes it sound like a joke, not an actual legal issue. What happened was I got into a short but nasty exchange of Twitter posts with a couple of actors I had blogged about. A third actor, someone I hadn't spoken to in two years, after he ripped off my theatre group mailing list to get his own theatre group started, decided to chime in by making a malicious statement about me. Since he has virtually nothing to gain by libeling me, I expect that his primary objective was to curry favor with the other actors, who are young enough to be his sons. I guess there's no male-bonding quite as effective as ganging up to attack a woman who has gotten out of line - it even spans generations. But while the other two actors said some truly nasty things about me, what they said was opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Everyone is not entitled to their own facts. What the third actor said was that I "guzzle Chardonnay" while working on this blog. And since I post to this blog pretty much on a daily basis, as evident by the dates on the blog posts, he was in effect claiming I'm an alcoholic.
In fact I'm a very moderate drinker, so not only was his statement malicious, it was false. Which is the definition of libel. In this case he committed what is known as "libel per se" which is defined by the Legal Dictionary as:
n. broadcast or written publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis) or dishonesty in business. Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not be proved to obtain a judgment for "general damages," and not just specific losses.
Claiming that someone is an alcoholic is covered under this definition. I recounted this incident to my friend Bruce, another actor, whom I've known for twelve years, and he said it was ridiculous to make such a claim - he'd never even seen me drunk. Which makes sense - I haven't been seriously inebriated since high school. And I sometimes go weeks without drinking alcohol. Now it should be noted that I've never seen this libelous actor turn down a drink - certainly not at the legendary Penny Templeton Christmas party of 2008 - but I would never in a million years claim that he guzzled alcohol while performing a daily task. It would be unethical to do so. But if you're going to rip someone off why stop there? Why not then go on to insinuate the person is also an alcoholic? Certainly if you pal around with people who have no shame, no principles and no personal integrity, you're not going to pay any kind of social price for such behavior.
Twitter really does bring out the worst in many people. Banal people for example - their tweets are mind-bogglingly banal. Bitchy people, well... I was already becoming fed up with this libelous actor before he ripped me off, after following him on Twitter and realizing that a goodly number of his tweets were bitchy observations about the fashion choices of strangers on the street. I already suspected that this person was petty and shallow but his tweets only made it painfully obvious. So we would probably have had a parting of the ways sooner or later. But I can do without being ripped-off and libeled.
And in any case, not only is he wrong about my drinking frequency, I rarely drink Chardonnay - I much prefer Sauvignon Blanc.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hedgehog's dilemma

Oh Arthur Schopenhauer, you are always such a laff-riot!

The completed version of JULIA & BUDDY includes this exchange:


Yes! Sometimes I get this sense of - I feel - eternity rushing through me!


Existential displacement is the price of being a philosopher. So too,
loneliness is the price of being a philosopher.


No, please. Don’t say that.


Let me tell you a little story. One cold winter’s day a group of porcupines huddled together for warmth. But they had prickly quills, as porcupines do, and the closer they huddled together, the more they pricked each other. So they move away from one another - but then they grew cold again. And so they came closer, but they pricked each other again. And so it went, back and forth. At last they decided to stay together, but keep a safe distance. That is human society. Only the man who has some heat within himself can remain outside, where he will not prick others and where he will not be pricked.

I took liberties with the original - or rather with an English translation of the original, which I guess you can argue was already taking some necessary liberties.

The original English translation is available on Youtube. The reader is a bit more subdued than I expect the actor doing these lines will be. The parable of the porcupines starts near the end at minute 10:04.

Wow, I've just discovered the life this analogy has gone onto lead, thanks to Freud - it's known as the Hedgehog's dilemma and has its own Wikipedia entry. How is it I've never heard of this before?

what the Tea Party is really all about

The shameless evil of the Tea Party.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
CNN-Tea Party Republican Debate
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

But whaaaaah! I missed this episode which had both Al Gore and KRGTHULU! I mean, Tom Brokaw is fine, but I coulda seen the mighty Krugman in person again. I haven't seen him in person since September 2009.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Wow, can I relate to this article at the LA Female Playwrights Initiative. Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins
Pet peeves of a literary manager - excerpt:
Submissions that don’t follow stated guidelines: Read the guidelines for submissions and follow them. One of the theatre companies that I work with periodically produces a 10-minute comedy play series. When we put out a request for submissions for this 10-minute comedy play series, the avalanche of stuff that we get that is neither 10-minute nor comedy is extremely exasperating. I’ve actually seen submissions of 50 page scripts. No matter who you are, guidelines apply to you, they apply to me, they apply to anybody submitting material for anything for which guidelines are out there.

Not including a cast list, unless it’s a one-person show: I see this all the time, and I cannot understand why playwrights would not include a cast list with their scripts. As a Literary Manager, I want to focus on the story, and not have to waste time trying to figure who all these random characters are who keep on wandering in and out of the scenes.

Unnecessary/gratuitous nudity: I’m not a prude. I have no problem with nudity. (Some of my best friends have been naked.) If there’s a reason for people to be naked in your play, that’s cool. HOWEVER, if the naked person doesn’t have anything to do with the story, don’t do it. IF it is necessary to the story, and there’s a way to stage it legally, that’s one thing. Gratuitous is entirely another, and we’re not interested.

An overabundance of stage directions: If pressed, I’d say that this is my #1 most frustrating thing. Having line after line after line after line of stage directions interrupts the flow and rhythm that I’m trying to discern from a playwright’s writing. Trying to get into a playwright’s story, trying to find out if the playwright is creating characters with individual voices, trying to see if there is something about the writing that would be compelling on a stage all get ground to a halt when I have to constantly stop reading the dialogue and read stage directions. I think that for some people, getting the action as they see it in their mind onto the paper or the computer screen is important because those writers need to have it written out in order for them to keep what’s going on organized. I understand that, and that’s fine. For writers who need that, I would strongly suggest removing those stage directions before sending their scripts out. Having massive amounts of stage directions in one’s script does nothing to help me decipher the quality of the story that the playwright is trying to tell. If no other information gets out from this blog post, I hope this does: have as few stage directions as is possible.

Nudity required - no pay - and no respect either

A low-budget director I blogged about last year when his casting call showed up on Nudity Required, No Pay had an online conversation in the comments section of his blog with another low-budget director recently.


Like, one guy said you shouldn't bang your actresses until AFTER the shoot, and I have found that to be helpful advice. BEFORE or DURING seems to cause problems.


Dude. An actress? Even afterwards there's PLENTY o' problems. ;-)">

Putting aside whether banging actresses is even likely to be a real problem for these men, it gives you some idea of the absolute lack of respect they have for the women who work for free (at least in the second director's case, I don't know if the first director pays or not) to make their movies.

So to sum up - nude scenes, no pay, and you're considered an available piece of ass. And not even a nice, compliant piece of ass - you might give these, your betters, problems. And mind you, this isn't locker room talk in the locker room - it's right there where any of the women who act for them, especially the second director, can read it. Basically their attitude is - fuck you bitches, you don't deserve money and you don't deserve respect.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Krugman v. Rumsfeld

Get Krugman! in Slate:
On a day when everyone else was flashing back to 9/11/2001, I was flashing back to the days and months later, when criticism of the Bush administration returned, and the practioners of it became, briefly, Emmanuel Goldsteins. Remember Susan Sontag? Remember the Dixie Chicks? Remember the campaign to "revoke the Oscar" from Michael Moore? There hasn't been much criticism of the substance of Krugman's remarks; denying that 9/11 and counterterrorism strategy became "wedge issues" is denying a few years of political history. The criticism is of Krugman for expressing it...

break incomprehensibly break some more

There is a false bottom...

Monday, September 12, 2011


Ah Carmina Burana - when will I get to see it performed again?

Everybody knows O Fortuna, the piece that both opens and closes the song cycle. And it is a massively impressive piece of work, which is why it's so popular. But there are other, far less well known pieces that are just as impressive, if in a different way.

One of my favorites is the second-shortest piece in the cycle, Dulcissime. It takes up exactly one line of the score. It's at the end of the Cour d'Amours section of Carmina Burana, right before the big finale of the show.

Here are the last three songs that make up the Cour d'Amours, with handy Youtube illustration links.

IN TRUTINA - this is actually a companion piece to Dulcissime and on several occasions on Youtube the two songs, by the same singer, are edited together consecutively and posted. This is Gundula Janowitz's version. This song is about a young women deciding between chastity and sex. She doesn't actually give her decision. But considering what comes next it's a pretty safe bet she's not getting herself to the nunnery any time soon.

TEMPUS ES IOCUNDUM - this is a flashy lyric-and-refrain piece all about giving yourself to joyfulness - and sex. Here is the Carmina Burana version, which is very different from the authentic early music version. Here are the lyrics with English translation. The English version of the refrain is great:
Oh, oh, I am all aflower, now with my first love I am all afire, a new love it is of which I am dying.

I like that all aflower/all afire translation. But you get a good idea how elegant Latin is when you look at that version:

Oh, totus floreo,
iam amore virginali
totus ardeo,
novus amor est,
quo pereo.

Mind you, the way the song is sung, the last line is almost shouted, three times: quo pereo! quo pereo! quo pereo! which makes it the perfect segueway into Dulcissime, which is a shooting rocket of a song and one of the most difficult, I understand, in the soprano repertoire. And you can see why when you listen. Here is Kathleen Battle doing pretty much a perfect rendition:

So basically the singer has to hit the ground running - she gets a tiny little syllable - "dul" to get set and then she has to go up straight to high B for "ciss-i-me" and then in one breath has to do eight sets of triplets and ascend to high D, one note above high C.

Battle makes it seem pretty easy, but this teenager's version makes clear the work that goes into it - she does pretty well, really, although it's supposed to be a capella and she gets a little assist from the piano, but obviously she's not a professional singer yet:

It's a little bit risque for a 14-year-old to be singing this - or would be if anybody understood Latin. The lyrics are:
Dulcissime, totam tibi subdo me!
or in English:
Sweetest man, I give myself to you completely!
You can see how it's hard not to get screechy with this piece and the next singer doesn't entirely avoid it:

Although at least this version goes right into Blanziflour et Helena, which doesn't leave much time to contemplate the last note of Dulcissime, which is how it's meant to be.

This version stretches it out a little...

There's a reason this song has to be short, sharp and high-pitched: it is the sound of the moment when a woman says "yes", joyfully, to sex out of pure irresistible desire for a man she adores. This is how all babies should be made.

There's nothing like seeing Carmina Burana live in person, but you can watch an entire performance of the complete Carmina Burana online here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

my first 9-11 memory

My first 9-11 memory is from October 12, 2000.

My ex-boyfriend Jonathan and I were on our way to Pittsburgh PA to attend the wedding of Jonathan's best friend Rich - Jonathan was in the wedding party. We were driving my red VW Beetle through the Pennsylvania countryside and we stopped at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Route 76W.

I was sipping coffee in the parking lot and we were stretching our legs standing next to my car and the radio was on. And we heard a report of the bombing of the USS Cole.

Most people, it's pretty safe to say, don't remember where they were when they first heard the USS Cole was bombed. I've certainly never been an expert on Middle-Eastern/US affairs but for some reason I remember thinking at the time that this was important and ominous. Maybe it was because al-Qaeda claimed responsibility and I had heard something about them and knew they were serious trouble.

But we got back in the car and went to the wedding weekend and I really didn't think much about the bombing of the USS Cole. Until September 11, 2001, when I heard that Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville PA.

The rest stop where I had a bad feeling about the bombing of the USS Cole and al-Qaeda was ten miles from Shanksville.

Friday, September 09, 2011

yay for Stephen Colbert

I was in the audience for the 9/8/2011 Colbert Report with my friend Bex, her hubby and their friend Ed. It was a good show - see clip below, but wow, they make you run a gauntlet. We had to wait on line for 45 minutes, then go through a security check - they confiscated the tiny Swiss Army knife on my keychain although they did give it back - then wait around in a room while Colbert's flunkies exhort you to laugh alot.

I don't know if I'd do it again, but it was an interesting experience - when they aren't taping the show, Stephen speaks to the audience as himself, rather than as the "Stephen Colbert" character which is fun. He refers to his character as an asshole and says that guy doesn't read books.

There was a Q&A with Colbert out of character and I was going to ask him "Arwen or Galadriel?" because I figured he'd get a big kick out of it as a massive LOTR geek. But I didn't get a chance to ask.

My favorite part of the clip below is at the end - "the new Cirque du Soleil show - Rick Perry presents VULTURE" - the last word being pronounced - "vol-toor-ay."

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Rick Perry Presents
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Gloria, Stephen, Eve, Jane

I found this wonderful gem of a video clip on Youtube - Eve Ensler interviews Gloria Steinem about Jane Fonda, sexiness, etc.

Bonus - Steinem throws the f-bomb with authority.

Another favorite person, Stephen Colbert, interviews Gloria recently - it's so funny - Gloria makes Stephen very happy at the end of the clip.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gloria Steinem
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Speaking of Stephen Colbert, guess who's gonna see him soon in person? Oh yes, some friends of mine got some tickets and they're taking me to the Colbert Report. Whoohoo!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

who is Anonymous?

It's so easy to do things online anonymously, but there's no guarantee of anonymity. I think many people believe there is a guarantee.

As far as I know, there's no law against mentioning the identity of a blog visitor, but usually there's no point in doing that. I've only "outed" visitors to this blog on a few occasions. Primarily due to offensive search-string messages I'd received (it's a long story.) I thought it was better if people sending the messages knew they actually were not anonymous, figuring it would tend to moderate the offensiveness of the messages.

Clearly there are many risks with people acting under cover of anonymity.

Which brings us to Anonymous.

The videos of Anonymous are often pretty creepy:

However, Scientology is also creepy:

Gawker's article about Scientology's battle to surpress the above video.

Certainly Scientology's Fair Game policy identifies it as a fundamentally lawless organization. So Scientology is pretty much the perfect target of Anonymous.

I think Scientology is a worthy target of Anonymous. But what if Anonymous decided to target a less evil organization?

Jerry O'Connell paraody of the Cruise video.

Monday, September 05, 2011

surrounded by Objectivists

Suddenly the Ayn Rand fans are crawling out of the woodwork - or the Facebook friend list. One of my FB friends informed me today he's a huge fan. There's also a guy at work, who seems like a really nice guy, who is a huge Rand fan. Egads!

My view of Objectivists is pretty well represented by this clip from my 10-minute play CHRISTMAS BLESSING.

I had forgotten what a great job the actors did, especially considering we had a very short rehearsal period, not to mention most of the rehearsals were held in my tiny Manhattan apartment. And now Amanda Thickpenny, who plays the homeless woman in this clip (more of her in the clip below - she's also on Youtube in NEW RULES and THE SLASH) is on her way to RADA! They grow up so quickly.

The part where she gets the lyrics to Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer wrong comes from my sister Eileen. When she was about five, she used to sing "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you be my slave tonight?" The rest of us kids teased her unmercifully for it, of course.

The original is "won't you guide my sleigh tonight" - on the other hand, I don't think Santa's reindeer are exactly unionized, so maybe Eileen was closer than we thought.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

always glad to serve Krgthulu

The mighty Krug-man asked his readers to suggest indie music for him on his blog recently.

I'm happy to do it for two reasons - one because I'm glad to do anything for Krugman in view of the service he is performing for this country in his political-economic critiques and also because I want as many people as possible to know about the band Heavenly. So I posted a link to the Amazon page for Heavenly. But then to my surprise someone posted Heavenly's songs on Youtube. I don't know how long they'll be there but here's the Youtube post for the exquiste "Sacramento."

I don't think they recorded any other instrumentals, but this is just such a cool song I had to post it even if it isn't typical. Their other songs are great too. But the sound quality of this video isn't great, so you should go and buy all their stuff. I believe it's available on iTunes as well as Amazon.

Another great song by Heavenly...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

are all Italian playwrights this intense?

I've been really bad at responding to all the people who inquirer about joining NYCPlaywrights. Partly because the group is no longer about unlimited growth, since my living room can hold only so many people, large though it may be. Which means I will have to outright reject some people and I'm reluctant to do that, especially since I haven't really formulated a policy or a list of criteria.

I got an inquiry today from an Italian guy that I found just adorable:
I am wondering if you could be interested in meeting me to discuss about our works, or just to confront each other about our "vision".

I don't know if it's just a translation issue or if Italian playwrights are just intense, or what, but I love that phrase "confront each other about our "vision" - oh yes, let's!

Friday, September 02, 2011

sooooooouuuuulllll train!

You can't watch this video without feeling love for these lithe attractive young people in their adorable 1970s outfits complete with bellbottoms. Even the guy with the dog bone.

But then it makes me a little sad. Where are they now? They're all pushing 60 so they're nowhere near as lithe and attractive as they are in this moment.

God, I'm such a party pooper.

Almost everything in American popular culture derives directly from Black culture. I never realized how much until I went out of the country - to Ireland - and felt like there was just something missing... for the longest time I couldn't figure out what and then finally it hit me - Ireland is missing the "coolness" of Black-infused culture.

My middle-school friends and I didn't watch Soul Train because we were all about rock and roll and this was soul music. We weren't racists so much as we believed there were these strictly separate musical spheres. Equal but separate. God we were idiots.

Well, people can change for the better, even if they rarely become more lithe.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

yay September

It's the first day of September and that means that Autumn is only twenty days away! It really is the most wonderful season. Many others agree.

Why I Love Autumn

Facebook group - I Love Autumn

The Practical Free Spirit's Seven Reasons I Love Autumn

The Look Book loves Autumn

Visions of Whimsy - Autumn

I sure would like to have one of these Autumn outfits, complete with a chrysanthemum headpiece though. Maybe get me a horn o' plenty too!