KRTHULU = KRUGMAN
Greetings seekers of wisdom. You may have come to this web site because you saw Duncan Black mention "krgthulu" on his web site Eschaton and you Googled the word. When Black uses that word, he's talking about Paul Krugman.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Standing Oh!

Who knew Schopenhauer would
turn out to be such a rock star?









We got our first standing ovation at the fourth performance of JULIA & BUDDY on Saturday. Only one more performance left - which you can see this Saturday at 5PM - tickets.

And the best part is that neither of the standers were friends or family - I had no idea who they are. Although one of them appeared to be a full-on philosophy nerd - I was sitting facing the woman, who was in the first row, and I could see her visibly perk up every time philosophy or Schopenhauer was mentioned... and when Schopenhauer actually appeared in Julia's fever-dream, she was ecstatic.
She came up to me afterwards to tell me how much she loved the show (she came on a friend's recommendation) and to ask me about my thoughts on Schopenhauer, etc. Unfortunately I had too much to do, not the least of which was to thank the members of NYCPlaywrights for coming. Many of them participated in readings of J&B over the years since I first began writing it (2009) so they were a more discerning audience than usual - and they all really loved the performances.

Which you will have one more chance to see, this Saturday.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Howdy Howdy Howdy!

Cowboy karma - right in the middle of playing a Space Cowboy in the MITF production of JULIA & BUDDY, Matt DeCapua played an Earth Cowboy... or cowboy, in the MTV series "One Bad Choice" -

“One Bad Choice” is a new series that explores the consequences of young people who made a single, terrible decision that irrevocably changed their lives forever. Shocking, surprising, and deeply emotional, “One Bad Choice” takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride filled with twists and turns, suspense, drama and redemption through scripted storytelling based on true stories. (Source: Deadline.com)

Matt doesn't know when his cowboy episode will air - you can check his web site matthewdecapua.com for updates.

Friday, July 25, 2014

But I suffer, you know?

One of the reasons I dislike going to the hairdresser - or hair stylist as they are known these days - is because I always feel awkward about having a conversation with the stylist. So I usually ask them questions about themselves - I'm a pretty good listener. Although it is difficult at times if the stylist has a thick accent as was the case the other day with the stylist whom I'll call F, who is from Romania. Then it's hard work, straining to make out what she said, with all the rolling Rs.

Another reason I dislike going is because I have thick unruly hair and it takes hours to do something with it - in this case highlights and a blow-out.

Anyway, so during the hours of hair styling time, I mentioned to F that I had a date, with a younger guy, and I think it made F jealous - although if she knew anything about my pathetic dates she wouldn't be. But she apparently wanted a shoulder to cry on (not literally, what with all the hair chemicals) and my talk of a date set her off - so she proceeded to fill almost the entire time while doing my hair with telling me about her sad situation - her husband of 30 years recently has heart problems and is now suffering from depression and erectile dysfunction and so F isn't getting any sex these days. However, she is mighty tempted by various men she knows, but she doesn't want to betray her husband of 30 years. But she fears she will never have sex again and so she's trying to learn to become at peace with the Universe. And then she said: "but I suffer, you know?"

Yes. I know. Although our situations are different, the frustration is similar. I went on a date with a straight Taiwanese hair stylist. In fact that's what finally got me to go to my hair stylist - I figured my date would be looking at my hair with a critical eye.

He had longish hair and seemed like a sort of Asian surfer dude. And he had amazing tattoos on his forearms, which caught my eye in the first place, which is why I offered to buy him a drink in the West Village.

Well it turns out he doesn't really drink. So what I thought would be a nice hour, at least of drinking and chatting turned into 20 minutes of me drinking and him eating some bruschetta and then the two of us walking briskly through the Village towards his apartment, while I regaled him with the story of the Son of a Movie Star Booty Call.

OK but here's the thing - I wasn't expecting true love. And I don't mean this in a snobby way, but I really don't have that much in common with a Taiwanese hair stylist. But since when did the phrase "friends with benefits" end up meaning "benefits" without the "friends"? Don't people need friends any more?

This guy was royally put out by the fact that I wouldn't come up to his apartment with him, having just met him in-person less than an hour earlier. I said I thought he was cute and we should get together again so that I could get to know him well enough to become intimate with him. But no. It was now or nothing. What is wrong with guys these days? And this wasn't even the 20-something son of a movie star - it was a 38 year old hair stylist. You would think he would have some interest in humanoid conversation - he talks to women all day long. Is it really that onerous? I like to think I'm not a completely tiresome conversationalist, and if nothing else, I'm a decent listener.

I mean, yeah, he was cute, but really? I'm supposed to hop right up to his apartment? Doesn't he realize that the dating site through which we met specifically advises against going into the date's residence on the first date?

I guess it was a bad sign when I took his iPhone from him to do a search for my play JULIA & BUDDY - I was flattered he was interested enough in it to Google it but he kept typing Juliet instead of Julia so I offered to find it for him - and right in the middle of my Google search on his phone a message popped up from Tinder telling him he had a match.

And then he had the nerve to claim during our brisk walk towards his apartment that he wasn't all that interested in Tinder because it was just about hooking up. Not 10 minutes later he was giving me attitude because I wouldn't immediately hook up with him.

But since my self-confidence has been set to close to zero for years now, I thought maybe he wasn't really attracted to me and was just looking for an excuse to be rid of me. But he insisted on walking me to my subway stop and wouldn't you know it, when I gave him a good-bye hug he grabbed my right breast? WTF?

I did get something out of the date though - although the Taiwanese hair stylist doesn't really drink he admitted he's done "Molly" which is apparently a pure form of Ecstasy. So I learned something.

Yeah, my hair stylist F has absolutely nothing to be jealous of.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More reasons why the Bloggess makes a living blogging

The fourth in the irregular series.

Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism
An excerpt:

So...yeah.  Right now there’s a lot of talk about a tumblr called WomenAgainstFeminism.  It’s just pictures of some women holding up handwritten signs entitled “I don’t need feminism because...”  Some of the reasons they give for not needing feminism almost seem like a parody (“How the fuck am I suppose to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband?”) and some (“I don’t need to grow out my body hair to prove I’m equal to men”) just make me wonder where in the world they got their definition of feminism.
At first I considered starting my own “I Don’t Need _____ Because” tumblr with people holding equally baffling signs.  Signs like:
I don’t need books because YOU KNOW WHO WROTE BOOKS?  HITLER.  HITLER WROTE A BOOK.  NO THANK YOU, NAZIS.
I don’t need money BECAUSE I HAVE A CHECKBOOK, ASSHOLE.
I don’t need air because LOTS OF IT IS FARTS.  I’M NOT BREATHING FARTS.  YOUBREATHE FARTS.
But then I remembered that I’m too lazy to make a tumblr and that this whole thing was a bit ridiculous. Here’s the thing:  Do you think men and women should have equal rights politically, socially and economically?  Then you’re probably a feminist...  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A shout-out from Hidden City

I blogged about the poor Boy in the Box a year ago, and recently got a request from a guy from the web site Hidden City Philadelphia, which "pulls back the curtain on the city’s most remarkable places and connects them to new people, functions, and resources."

He wrote an article and links back to my original post:
Beyond the soccer field’s goal, in the center of a windbreak, a small space framed by two concrete median barriers opens near the ground. The opening is not visible from midfield. The trees in the windbreak look like the beginning of the woods, but beyond the barriers is instead a mown field 500 feet deep and 200 wide. This was Philadelphia’s last potter’s field; hundreds of unclaimed people are buried here. 
“The boy’s headstone was right about in the center,” says Nancy McClernan, who grew up in nearby Bensalem. McClernan remembers riding her bike down Century Lane toward the Parkwood playground to use the pool in the summer with other kids from Bensalem. “Walking past that grave was the most unnerving aspect of going to Parkwood and back,” she writes in a blog about her experiences growing up nearby
Back then, in the 1960s, the potter’s field at Dunks Ferry and Mechanicsville contained a single headstone. The inscription read, “Heavenly Father, Bless This Unknown Boy, February 25, 1957.”
The unknown boy, like the other people buried in this city cemetery, was never claimed. He was found in a cardboard box in Fox Chase and despite an investigation that lasted decades, was never identified. In 1998, his body and headstone were moved to Ivy Hill Cemetery. Now, in the center of the field, right about where the stone stood, a pair of groundhogs peak out of a hole leading into a network of tunnels in a mound of lumpy earth.
The Boy in the Box - my first inkling of the tragedy of human existence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What the other critic said...

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the other critic for JULIA & BUDDY completely trashed the play. It's amazing how two people could have such completely opposite responses to a single play.

Although I will say about the other critic:

  • He's fresh out of Columbia University
  • He's a fledgling playwright 
  • He appears to have very little experience as a critic - so although he expresses his deep deep sorrow and regret for the necessity of hatcheting my play, he can't even bother to discuss the work of the actors, who are excellent, even as they struggle through the irredeemable shit.
  • He's not a big fan of romantic comedy since he declares that the relationship between the two characters is not high enough stakes. Romantic comedy is considered extremely uncool in the theater world these days. It's much too girly to be cool.

What I find most interesting is that although he mentions the appearance of Schopenhauer in the play (the other critic mentioned him not at all) he completely misses the significance of Schopenhauer's philosophy in the context of the play, even though I put the quote "we want what we will, but we don't will what we want" right at the top. And here I thought I had made it much too obvious. I figured anybody who bothered to consider the Schopenhauer issue would get it. Guess I was wrong.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Julia & Buddy at the Midtown International Theater Festival gets a rave

The bare stage at the Jewel Box Theatre, one of the venues for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, does not deter the new play “Julia & Buddy from instantly making it a playground for wit, intellect, and heartfelt affection as two actors inhabit the stage and begin their ninety minute banter. Claire Warden playing Julia and Buddy inhabited by Matthew DeCapua seem to capture and understand the age old quip that “opposites attract” and give evidence of proof to this notion with exceptional clarity. The panic ridden philosopher and the forgetful maintenance man are the perfect example of the odd couple: each examines her or his actions carefully, peeling away shallow facades and gently exposing their sensitive cores. Both actors manage to appear real and in control and never waver from an honest and truthful performance. Ms. Warden is strong, mindful and focused, yet frail, vulnerable and distracted and always tempts the audience to wonder about her path and intent - always with a distinct emotional investment. Mr. DeCapua is a pleasure to watch as he morphs into impressions of unseen pertinent characters. He produces a character study which is complex, precise, honest and filled with integrity, resulting in a sensitive portrait of a hopeful soul with fractured dreams and the will to survive. They are generous actors providing for each other and allowing the audience to enter their intimate world, always searching for creative ways to establish an emotional connection."
The writing by N.G. McClernan is quick, intelligent, purposeful and entertaining, never wasting words. Her script provides fuel for the actors allowing them to cruise at full speed never faltering or second guessing their commitment. As director, she knows her voice and characters well, taking all opportunities to squeeze every morsel of emotional energy from each verbal encounter. It would be worth the while to treat yourself to this little gem and witness some fresh, new and interesting New York theatre. 

 David Roberts, CEOExpress

Responses to my play JULIA & BUDDY

We've had three performances and at least one person has come up to me afterwards to offer thoughts on the script for each show - much of it very complimentary.
“So are you going to sell the movie rights to this?” 
“This was as good as a Neil Simon play.” (I believe this was meant as a compliment) 
“I could see how you worked out the plot - it unfolded nicely.”  
“I think it really came together in the Schopenhauer scene.” 
“The writing was so intelligent.” 
“You did good, Nancy G.” (my daughter's girlfriend.) 
“I was hoping that ‘dinner with L. J.' would turn out to be a humorous misunderstanding. I think Buddy is a jerk!” (My daughter.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some kind of progress

While waiting outside the Jewel Box theater for the show in front of ours to finish up, I couldn't help noticing the poster for the Workshop Theater Company's upcoming DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION - I critiqued the artwork for a previous production of the show because it featured a photo of a woman bending forward and sticking out her butt. Which shouldn't be surprising since according to a woman I know, one of the big-wigs in the WTC is a world-class creep.

So this poster is definitely an improvement - the focus is on the contents of the back pocket of the jeans, not on the butt.

And their coming season almost makes up for their past male dominance - at least 50% of the main stage plays they are producing this season are written by women.

Of course, they are only doing two main stage productions between now and April 2015 - this one and a collection of short plays by an as-yet unnamed group of company playwrights. Which I guess is some kind of progress.

The smaller Jewel Box theater productions balance out the gynocratic tyranny - all three of their plays in progress are written by men; and of the staged readings planned, two out of five are by women, which sounds pretty good. But I find it fascinating that both women have written plays with males as main characters. And all but one of the plays by men features males as the main characters. Well, you don't want too high a percentage of girl germs ruining serious theater.

And speaking of theater parity for women, it just occurred to me that the revered Slings and Arrows presents no women as creative artists except for actors and singers. In addition to Shakespeare, they presented a musical author and a playwright during the three seasons, both male. The vast majority of the non-performing female characters were involved in backstage support (costumes, stage management etc.), administration and business. The only non-performing female creative was a director, and she was
a. portrayed as a non-stop talker and
b. given a broken neck and taken out of the show after a minute of screen time.
And one of the writers of the show is Susan Coyne, who portrayed Anna, an administrator.

I don't think it was necessarily a deliberate and conscious choice, but rather a reflection of what is considered a natural state of affairs in the theater - a woman's job - preferably a young and pretty woman - is to present the writing and direction of men.

A realistic aspect of Slings and Arrows was that the company's leading lady Ellen often fretted about the crappy minor roles she would have to play in Shakespeare productions (the dreaded nurse in ROMEO & JULIET) as she aged. The sweet irony is that Shakespeare actually wrote more, and more varied parts for women than most contemporary male playwrights do - unless you count an endless parade of prostitutes with hearts of gold, hot chicks and screwed-up mothers as "varied."

A curious fact about many of the over-30 female actors - they don't seem to go out of their way to be friendly with female playwrights. In fact, in my experience quite the opposite. And it doesn't seem to make sense - female playwrights are far more likely to write roles for women, especially women over 30, than men are (except of course at the Workshop Theater Company.)

However, if you look at it in another way, it does make sense. In the minds of many theater people (conscious or not) playwright is a man's job, and the highest place on the theater pecking order for women is actor - but if women are entering male roles - which are naturally higher status than women's roles, that means those female playwrights will be given higher status than female actors.

And that's what disrespecting female playwrights is all about - status and power and conventional gender attitudes. It's probably a good short-term political strategy but not a good long-term career strategy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The coming cougarocracy

I actually dislike the term "cougar" for women dating younger men, since the term for a man dating younger women is "man" - cougar merely highlights the male entitlement that humanity has lived with for millenia.

But I think the age of extreme male entitlement is winding down, which has men's rights activists (MRAs) freaking out.

You do have to kind of feel sorry for Tom Junod in his cluelessness. I'm sure he felt he was delivering a compliment to the ladies - and even feminists - when he wrote in Esquire:
A few generations ago, a woman turning forty-two was expected to voluntarily accept the shackles of biology and convention; now it seems there is no one in our society quite so determined to be free. Conservatives still attack feminism with the absurd notion that it makes its adherents less attractive to men; in truth, it is feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.
For his troubles he was mercilessly mocked by Tom Scocca (whose work I have admired here in the past), as well as others.

Scocca:
Tom Junod is willing to entertain the thought of intimate relations with women all the way up to 75 percent of his own age. Tom Junod, age 21, cruises into the high school parking lot to tell the 15-year-olds they're still OK. (He shakes his head at Sweet Sixteen parties, though.) Tom Junod, age 30, is ready to consider dating a summer intern in his office, even if she has already finished college. Tom Junod, age 85, tells a 63-year-old woman not to worry, she's still got a little something going on, in his eyes.
Junod didn't help his cause by regally declaring that women under 43 are fuckable when he himself is 56, and a worse-for-wear looking 56 at that. 

The subtext, as the mockers rightly understood, was not a celebration that male privileged had ended, but rather, according to Tom Junod, male privilege had lessened slightly. For Tom Junod your sell-by date is a full 14 years earlier than his (probably more.)

Fun fact: back in the 1980s a Japanese woman's sell-by date was 25, which is why unmarried women over that age were called "Christmas cakes."

This is the very essence of male entitlement - the right for any man, no matter how old he is or what he looks like, to sit in judgment of the sexual value of any woman, and to express that judgment publicly. It's such an in-grained state of affairs that I'm sure it didn't even occur to Junod that he would be called on it. I expect he's thinking: "why didn't they give me any points for that?"

One of my favorite comments in the Gawker thread under the article was this:
Oh, Tom Junod, women didn't need to read your article to learn that men - even ones who seemingly bring little to a relationship other than a nasty sense of entitlement - expect to date women who are 10 or 15 years younger and consider themselves rather saintly for passing on the opportunity to creep out teenage girls. We have OkCupid for that, and it comes with some nifty quizzes too. Your article could do with some nifty quizzes.
That's been my experience too, with online dating sites. And the men my age presented to me by dating sites are as a rule extremely ugly. Which may be indicative of the site's algorithm's opinion of my own appearance, but it doesn't matter any way - men my age, no matter how ugly, think they're too good for me. They want, and fully expect to get, a younger and very attractive woman to marry them. Their entitlement is sickening and as common as dirt.

But the joke's on them. Many women writing into the Scocca Gawker thread had comments that very much reflect my experience too:
That is exactly what happened to me when I hit 40. Young men coming out of the woodwork, and the older men that I just didn't find attractive at all. Impossible to find someone in their late 30s. I'm 52 now, and it is still true. There is an endless supply of young men out there who appreciate older women.
***  
56 yr old lady here, and i had a FWB thing with a guy a year older than my daughters. Bragging? Indeed!
***
yup. can't find a guy my own age, but anyone way older or way young is game. sexism at work.

***
Like many women my age, I could be banging a different 20-something-year-old guy every week if I wanted one. My problem is that I have to get to know somebody a little bit before I can bang them, and I have to like them at least a little too, and many 20-something-year-old guys are in a big hurry to get right to the sex. They have zero savoir-faire.

For example: a couple of years ago I met the 24-year-old son of a movie star (you would recognize his name immediately) at my friend Renee's Halloween party. He immediately started hitting on me, which was not only unexpected but a little embarrassing, he was so blatant about it. He didn't try to have a conversation with me, just kept saying suggestive things at me. So eventually I decided to get out of there -  I had drunk two glasses of red wine and had a huge headache coming on already and I wasn't comfortable with the guy's attention.

So I get home and there's a phone call - it's him. Renee gave him my number. And here is a paraphrase of the conversation:

   HIM
Hey what up? What are you doing?

   ME
Going to bed.

   HIM
How about if I come over?

   ME
Now? It's 3AM.

   HIM
I like you.

   ME
OK thanks. I'm old enough to be your mother.

   HIM
I don't care about that.

   ME
Well OK, I think that's very progressive of you. But I have a huge headache now. Listen, how about if I buy you brunch tomorrow and we can get to know each other a little?

   HIM
I don't have time for that.

   ME
You don't have time for brunch?

   HIM
I'm not interested in brunch.

   ME
Listen, I have a show coming up - maybe you would be interested in being in it. We could talk about it over brunch. 
(Of course having the son of a movie star in my show would be a huge draw.)  
   HIM
No, that's OK.

   ME
Look, of course I'll pay you. We can talk about your fee to be in my show. It's a good play - you'll like it.

   HIM
I'm not interested in talking about your show.

  ME
Oh, well OK. Look, I'm really tired.

  HIM
What if I just come over now?

   ME
Really, look, I'm flattered. It's been a while for me, if you know what I mean, so your offer is very tempting. But I'm just not feeling that good right now.

HIM
Well that's a shame.

   ME
Yeah. Well give me a call if you feel like brunch OK?

   HIM
Yeah right.
(I hang up.)

What a creep. If he had exhibited even an ounce of charm - or really, just plain human decency instead of treating me like some middle-aged blow-up doll something could have happened.

I guess he isn't used to being turned down - or even being asked to have brunch first before the sex.

I guess that's what the kids refer to as a "booty call."

Sigh.

My point is, if that is going to be the choice of women my age - men the same age, who don't even want us, or old men, or twenty-something guys, clearly we're going for the twenty-something guys.

Which means that before long there will be a whole cultural phenomenon of young men making their way in the world by bedding older women, and using those connections to get ahead - or at least be supported. Young women have done it for eons, and the only reason that young men haven't had the opportunity to do it much (unless they were gay) is because women didn't have any money. And we still don't have as much as men. But that is changing. And that is why male entitlement is eroding. 



Friday, July 18, 2014

Good show!

We had our opening for JULIA & BUDDY last night and it went very well. Yay!

Since I was doing stage crew work (mercifully minimal - although next play I write will have no costume changes or props in case I have to be stage bitch again) people knew I was with the show and came up to me after the show to tell me how much they enjoyed it, mentioning the actors, the direction and the writing. How cool is that?

And I was sooo thrilled that for the first time ever we got a laugh for this:

     JULIA
You want to get into a debate with me about Schopenhauer? Don’t even try. 
 
     BUDDY
Wasn’t he an anti-Semite? 
 
     JULIA
No! That is a misconception. He simply contrasted the materialism of monotheistic
religions with the metaphysical approach of the East. 
 
      BUDDY
And he was a big misogynist. Doesn’t that bother you? 
 
      JULIA
If you ruled out every great man in history on the basis of misogyny, you wouldn’t have any left. 

I always thought "if you ruled out every great man..." should get a laugh, and it never has until last night - finally! I don't know if we just has an audience with a more heightened feminist sensibility than usual or if it was the way Claire delivered the line - probably the latter. So basically this production has completely fulfilled my vision of the play - the rest is just gravy.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More production photos - yay!

The pimping continues...

I was impressed by the brief but exciting chase scene that Claire (fight director)
and Matt came up with. One of the highlights of the play.

I will be adding a cast credit for Arthur Schopenhauer as... himself.


OK you have no excuse - get tickets to see JULIA & BUDDY right now!

@Jewel Box Theater, WorkShop Theater Company, 312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor East between 8th & 9th Avenues, New York NY 10018 MAP
Tickets $18 - call OvationTix: (866) 811-4111 or buy tickets online:
  1. Thursday July 17 @6PM ~ GET TICKETS
  2. Friday July 18 @9PM ~ GET TICKETS
  3. Saturday July 19 @3PM ~ GET TICKETS
  4. Sunday July 27 @4:30PM ~ GET TICKETS
  5. Saturday August 2 @5PM ~ GET TICKETS

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More J&B artwork and a meditation on body hair

photo by Linda Jaquez
New production photos, which means new inspiration for a new J&B poster. This is what I have so far.

Am I pimping out the leading man's attractive torso? Why yes, yes I am. However, as I mentioned before, it was his idea to wear his shirt like this. I suggested a T-shirt for this part of the play and this is what he came up with instead. I mean if he's going to offer it, I'm not going to turn it down.

So I do not feel guilty about this at all!

(Well, maybe a little guilty. There's only so much you can do about your Catholic school indoctrination, no matter how much you consciously reject it.)

But they are on a boat. So it's valid. And the actor is not shy about being seen dishabille - or less - in public, as this article demonstrates. Although please note it was a "social experiment."

I'm old enough to remember when it was fashionable for men to have lots of body hair as this image of Burt Reynolds will attest, not to mention this Al Pacino-esque looking cigarette advertisment model, but these days men are depilitating almost as much as women. But since men are into wearing beards so much these days it seems silly to me - they don't shave their faces but they do shave their bodies. What's up with that?

Monday, July 14, 2014

J&B Pre-show playlist


  • One Divine Hammer by the Breeders - with the immortal line: "I'm just looking for a divine hammer, I'd bang it all day."
  • ABC by the Jackson 5 - sung by tiny little baby Michael Jackson
  • I Saw the Light by Todd Rundgren (fun fact: I knew his mother) "light in your eyes" is kind of a big plot point in the play.
  • If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder - only one of the greatest songs ever written. I talk about it here.
  • Sacramento by Heavenly - a wonderful instrumental but this unjustifiably obscure band. I talk about it here.
  • I Believe in Miracles by Hot Chocolate - the wonderful one-hit wonder by the pride of the 1970s







Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hanging with the gay cowboys

My friend Renee the actor and Lady Gaga impersonator and costume creator extraordinaire took me to this gay cowboy bar on 9th Avenue recently.

I knew I was going to like this place when the bouncer carded me - although I suspect he just has to make sure that everybody who enters has photo ID.

Renee promised me that we would get to see guys dancing on the bar, but in the end we didn't wait around long enough to see it - the music was just so. damn. loud. and we were trying to have a conversation.

And don't worry, I wasn't slacking off of my production - I had to meet Renee to get the gloves for the Schopenhauer costume anyway. The gay cowboys were just a bonus.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

My piece about the J&B actors

An Actor's Life: Rubber Cat Suits and Lorenzo Lamas

In which I talk to Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua (Now performing in JULIA & BUDDY at the MITF.)
Working with great actors is the most fun you can have and it's been a blast directing Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua in JULIA & BUDDY, a two-hander romantic comedy being performed in the fifteenth annual Midtown International Theater Festival on July 17, 18, 19, 27 & August 2 (Get tickets here.)

I've known Claire since she showed up at an NYCPlaywrights meeting. Early on I realized she would be a great Julia, and so asked her to participate in all readings in the development of the play since 2009.

Her next project is to star as Henry in Accidental Shakespeare's "Hit and Run Shakespeare" HENRY V which I was curious about:
Nancy

Why did they pick you for the role, being a lady and all?

Claire

They've wanted me to work with them for quite a while now and each time they have their shows I've been busy doing other work, but this is one of the times when I'm in the city and free and they said they needed someone really strong Shakespeare-wise and actor-wise to carry it and they thought it would be fun if that was me.
To which I say, kudos to Accidental Shakespeare for picking the strongest actor and not being all hung up on the standard gender binary - although of course there is a long tradition of cross-dressing in Shakespeare starting with the fact that boys played all the women's roles in the original productions. 
The show is August 16 at the Pearl Theater.

This isn't the only time Claire has been one of Shakespeare's guys - in 2012 she was the Player King with the Shakespeare Forum. It was a very interesting take on the play within the play in HAMLET.

Claire

I played the role with Dan De Jesus, who is the most phenomenal mover, physical actor-dancer I've ever known. The director said: "I want to do something different with the play within the play. Here's the music I want to use, do something weird. Go."
And just gave us space and time to play around. And we came up with this really awesome dance movement piece. I wore a rubber cat suit and four-inch heels and massive hair and black make-up.
Obviously she's perfect to play the agoraphobic, Schopenhauer-obsessed philosophy professor Julia.
I also needed just the right actor to play Buddy and after looking at dozens without success decided to search through Facebook friends of friends. It so happened that Oliver Butler, a director I worked with ten years ago (and who won an Obie for directing this year) had an actor friend named Matt DeCapua. I took a look at Matt's web site, which includes reels (you should see him as a reporter confronting Tom Selleck) and I knew immediately this would be the perfect Buddy - I didn't even audition him, I just sent him the script and offered him the role. And he said yes. Just like that.

So don't tell me Facebook is a bad thing.

Matt recently wrote/produced a web series called Space Dogs.

Matt

It's about a highly dysfunctional workplace environment in the future. I play the captain.

Nancy

Do you identify with the character?

Matt

The chief engineer of the ship, played brilliantly by David Niles, is me in all of the crappy survival jobs I've ever had, just trying to cope, mostly with sarcasm and alcohol. I'm very proud of it and it will be posted soon.
Matt has also worked on stage a lot, including in DRACULA with Lorenzo Lamas at Keane University. So of course I had to ask:
Nancy

How was Lamas?

Matt

He is so hot. He has that amazing quality where he looks at you and he makes you feel like you're the only person in the entire world. He would tell us all these stories when he was working on other shows, like Renegade. He couldn't eat any desserts because he had to take his shirt off in every episode. And they had such great desserts at the craft table. I guess he would take home some dessert and put it in his freezer.
Claire and Matt, not surprisingly, admire each other's work:
Matt

Working with Claire Warden is a dream come true, she's an incredible actor, she is so present and grounded and with you and I love working with her every night.

Claire

I knew the second I met Matt that everything was going to be fine. I learn a lot working with him every day - he keeps me very real on stage, which is I think probably quite hard to do with me. And a dashingly attractive gentleman.

Nancy

But also a big geek too -

Claire

Yeah, a sexy geek.

Matt

I'll take that, sexy geek.
They are both right - they both do amazing work. Come and see for yourself:


Tickets $18 - call OvationTix: (866) 811-4111 or buy tickets online:
  1. Thursday July 17 @6PM ~ GET TICKETS
  2. Friday July 18 @9PM ~ GET TICKETS
  3. Saturday July 19 @3PM ~ GET TICKETS
  4. Sunday July 27 @4:30PM ~ GET TICKETS
  5. Saturday August 2 @5PM ~ GET TICKETS




Friday, July 11, 2014

That hardcore abolitionist John Brown and his Smokehouse

Life-size cut out of John Brown by the door
My manager took our team out for lunch today and for the second time I got to enjoy the ambience of John Brown, the "serious smokehouse." And by ambience I don't mean the whole BBQ thing, which is fine, I mean the serious love shown by the proprietors for John Brown the hardcore abolitionist who...
...commanded forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie.[1] Brown's followers also killed five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie.[1] In 1859, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry that ended with his capture.[1] Brown's trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by hanging.[1]
And I mean, they have pictures of John Brown and memorabilia all over the place. It's very educational. Although sadly, not one of my co-workers had any idea who John Brown was, and barely had enough intellectual curiosity to ask me who he was, when I excitedly pointed out all the artifacts.

Sigh.

The Harpers Ferry WV pennant is a nice touch.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wow, I'm exhausted

Being a writer/director/producer/music supervisor with a day job means you have to sacrifice a full-night's sleep, so I am exhausted.

On the up side, the actors are doing amazing work, and JULIA & BUDDY is coming together. Today Renee Cole, aka "Lady Gaga" - that is her day job - provided us with the pieces needed to really pull the Schopenhauer costume together with the top hat/mutton chops and neck cloth I asked her to create. She did a great job, and like an idiot I failed to get photos of the costume pieces.

Well that will be remedied on Saturday when I bring in a stringer from the New York Times (who happens to be a friend of my daughter) in to take production photos during our tech rehearsal.

Blogging of course will be light during the next f... zzzzzzzzz.

Monday, July 07, 2014

J&B promo video


I think I might have to fiddle with the volume levels though...

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Both sides are idiots

Wow this is a hard call - Richard Dawkins or Social Justice Warriors like Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism?

Any follower of this blog knows I have contempt for them both: Richard Dawkins for being a cranky old misogynist, his ongoing support for evolutionary psychology and for his Islamophobia; and Social Justice Warriors like Adam Lee, who engage in both censorship and smears out of an extreme and misguided political correctness.

Apparently Dawkins only recently encountered the term "Social Justice Warrior" and Lee reported on it:


So I had to take a moment from all the JULIA & BUDDY blogging to comment.

On the one hand, at least you could argue with Dawkins without fear he would censor you, unlike with Adam Lee. On the other hand, at least Lee's heart is in the right place, no matter how egregious his logical failings, whereas Dawkins is just a petty, arrogant upper-class twit as I found out through a brief exchange with him on the Pharyngula blog several years ago. But then Lee is a big un-self-aware hypocrite, actually complaining on a blog post that atheists still face censorship. But then Dawkins is such a ridiculous reactionary at this point.

Conclusion: both sides are idiots.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

New J&B ad

Posting a graphic with link on the NYCPlaywrights web site resulted in a disappointing number of click-throughs to the J&B web site - it's a wonder I make any money at all with Google ads.

Well this graphic is much more compelling, I believe - to paraphrase Pap Finn, if that don't fetch 'em, I don't know theatre folk.


Friday, July 04, 2014

OK, so apparently I was wrong

Remember yesterday when I posted Could my actors be any cuter (no)?

Well I got the rehearsal photos by Allison Stock back today and her skills have proven me completely wrong - they could be cuter.



Not to brag or anything but I believe that this is the first time that philosopher
Arthur Schopenhauer has ever been embodied on the NYC stage.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Could my actors be any cuter? (No)

Wow could Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua be any more adorable? I made them give me a video interview about the play and they did so, graciously.

No doubt about it, promotional work is tiresome crap. I'm lucky I found such a pair of troupers.

I will have a complete edited promotional video online soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

More from the fountain...

The birds around the fountain (across the street from my office building) are almost tame. People talk about pigeons, but look at this sparrow - he was not at all shy about letting me know he wanted some of my lunch.

So of course I had to give him some. Come on, he's just too cute.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

More rehearsal fun

Wow our rehearsals are such fun - I give full credit for recruiting such great people - not only Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua (on the left) but also Katie Kavett, with whom I worked back in 2011 when she was but a baby stage manager - now she's doing off-Broadway and Broadway and won an award in 2012.

And on top of that, Claire recruited her friend to take serious professional-type production photos - I'm really looking forward to seeing those. Luckily I will have most of the 4th of July weekend to spruce up our publicity with these new pix.

Notorious R.B.G.

Mother Jones:  The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg's Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision -
  • "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"
  • "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."
  • "Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby's or Conestoga's plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman's autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults."
  • "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."
More at the link.

And this Tumblr Notorious R.B.G. features Jonathan Mann doing a song about the heinous Hobby Lobby ruling.

Mann is the guy who brought us the immortal Hey Paul Krugman.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rich people succeed on the backs of the poor and desperate - as per usual

So little time for blogging thanks to the J&B production. But I had to post something about the ongoing exploitation of non-Equity actors by the Flea Theater. The article, entitled Eking Out a Living to Chase a Dream: The ‘Mysteries’ Cast Discuss Life as Struggling Actors.
A five-and-a-half-hour marathon of 52 contemporary plays, “The Mysteries” tells the story of the Old and New Testaments and features 48 members of the Bats, the Flea’s resident company. Following a successful eight-week run in the spring, most of the cast returned for a monthlong extension. By the time the show closes, on July 14, they will have invested eight months of their lives, arranging paying jobs — and searches for paying jobs — around it.
Alice Allemano, who plays Gabriel, laughingly likened the company to a kibbutz: The lack of pay creates an unusual atmosphere of equality among the actors.
 
“Everybody is a really important cog of the machine,” she explained. “Backstage, we all do everything. We do the washing up; we do each other’s hair and makeup.” 
In an age when unpaid internships and other work for free have become litigious, the Flea’s way of doing things has drawn heat, particularly after it announced plans in December to build an $18.5 million home not far from its rented space on White Street, where a full-time staff of eight toils in a glamour-free subbasement. (The theater’s annual budget is $1.3 million.)
Stunningly, the word "exploitation" is not used once in this article.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The explosion at the hat factory


Just as American Hustle was about wigs, my play JULIA & BUDDY is about hats.

This here is the hat that the space cowboy will wear in the "video clip" scene in the middle of the play.

My daughter-out-law says I look like "that kid in the Walking Dead."

Hmpf.

There will be no less than three other hats in this play - a captain's yacht cap, a top hat and a Yankees baseball cap. Yes, if you have a habedashery fetish, you will love this show. Which you know you do - so come and see it, July 17, 18, 19, 27 and August 2.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A wine review - Oko Pinot Grigio

I have to admit that I am far too influenced by the artwork on bottles of wine when making a selection. I was looking for a white wine and this "tree of life" graphic on the 2013 Oko Pinot Grigio caught my eye. Luckily it turned out to be pretty decent, although I don't like it quite as much as this Mom Who Needs Wine.

By the same token I doubt I will ever buy Barefoot Wine, or as Mr. Monk would call it, "foot wine."

Yes, when it comes to wine, I'm pretty damn shallow.

More of my wine reviews:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can I talk to you about my part?

This question represents a signal to the director, and he must be sensitive to the message. Many actors ask the question during the rehearsal process. At the moment an actor says, "Could I talk to you about my part?" the director must become super-sensitive. He must stop doing whatever he is doing and give the actor his full attention. That sentence carries the actor's message of ultimate urgency. He must hear good news from the director at that moment, and he must have the director's full attention. If possible talk to him right away, at least to find out what the key to his discomfort is. The actor must get an answer that tells him that he is going to have an opportunity for an intimate and complete discussion with the director alone. It's better not to postpone it. The director sets a time and place where there will be no distractions. There should be no other actor within hearing and sometimes even no stage managers. The question is really not a request to talk about the part. The question is usually an indication that the actor needs to be told that he's on the right track. He cannot go a step further without the assurance that what he's doing is okay. Sometimes it is possible to say simply, "You're doing a beautiful job and I'm thrilled with the way it's going. Keep working the way you're going. It's coming nicely." The actor may be quite satisfied with this. But perhaps there is someone or something that is really troubling the actor. He must have the opportunity to receive your exclusive attention. 

His difficulty may come in all sorts of disguises. It may be that one of the other actors is giving him some trouble. Perhaps he feels awkward about a certain scene or a certain kiss, or about his appearance, or about a certain emotional response. The minute you hear that question, it is very important that you give it your full and immediate attention. Don't let it slip by, because the actor could be very upset at that moment; if you don't catch him, pull him up, and resolve his difficulty then and there, he may slide into dejection or resentment. It's much more difficult to pull him out of that. If he grows morose and inefficient, it's because he didn't receive an answer when he asked, "Can I talk to you about my part."

From William Ball's A Sense of Direction.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oh Calcutta

Of course I knew JULIA & BUDDY was a pretty sexy play... but these recent rehearsals have been through the roof sexy. Almost... and this is hard to believe... too sexy. There's no nudity, although Matt ("Buddy") has his shirt unbuttoned in the boat scene - that was his idea not mine, contrary to what some might assume. Certainly nothing like OH CALCUTTA - I was just talking about this show over drinks with a friend and then today the NYTimes mentioned it. AND provided a link to a naked video:



Monday, June 23, 2014

There is, apparently, no crying in baseball

video
Matt DeCapua (Buddy in the JULIA & BUDDY production) does his Tom Hanks impression.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More theater fun

I'm so immersed in this JULIA & BUDDY project I barely have time to blog.

I decided to go with J&B selfies as a graphic approach for now - I might use this image in an animated online advertisement.

Claire and Matt are both attractive people standing still, but when they are on stage they are so charismatic  - they are even more attractive in motion.

And I discovered a fun thing about Matt - when he raises his voice he sounds very much like Tom Hanks. Which is perfect since one of Hanks' big roles is the very popular romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle. Confirms my choice of Matt for this role, if I needed any confirmation. He has promised us he'll do a full-on impersonation for us:



Saturday, June 21, 2014

High on theater

Wow I was grinning all the way home tonight, I had such a good time with this pair of actors at our first rehearsal of JULIA & BUDDY - Matt and Claire are such talented, thoroughly professional artists, it was a joy to watch them work. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's rehearsal.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Faking out the Nazis

An ex-boyfriend of mine was obsessed with WWII. He knew virtually everything there was to know about it. Considering it was over a decade-long relationship, I feel like I should know more about WWII myself. I certainly didn't resist discussing it with him - I used to get a kick out of it, actually, amusing myself by asking him random things about the conflict. He never refused to talk about it.

I also watched The World at War series. But I have no recollection hearing about the various subterfuges used to fake out the Nazis grouped under Operation Bodyguard, including the network of double agents.  I began reading up about it and was fascinated to learn of Joan Pujol Garcia.
Joan Pujol Garcia (Catalan; Spanish: Juan Pujol GarcĂ­a), MBE (14 February 1912 – 10 October 1988) deliberately became a double agent during World War II, known by the British codename Garbo and the German codename Arabel.[2] Pujol had the distinction of being one of the few people – if not the only one – to receive decorations from both sides during World War II, gaining both an Iron Cross from the Germans and an MBE from the British.
Pujol had a network of spies, all entirely fictional.



The Nazis were completely taken in by Pujol and his network. So much so that:

On occasion, he had to fabricate reasons why his agents had failed to report easily available information that the Germans would eventually know about. For example, he reported that his (fabricated) Liverpool agent had fallen ill just before a major fleet movement from that port on the north-west coast of England. The illness meant that the agent was unable to warn the Germans of the event.[34] To support the illness story, the "agent" eventually "died" and an obituary was placed in the local newspaper as further evidence to convince the Germans,[35] who were also persuaded to pay a pension to the agent's "widow".[36]

Hah hah. Stupid Nazis. 

Pujol wasn't the only double agent. In fact it appears that the entire German spy network in Britain were double agents.

A decent documentary from the BBC in the topic can be seen on Youtube.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Juneteenth!

In my opinion, Juneteenth should be a national holiday.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19ththat the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed atGalveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and thearrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murderedon his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news wasdeliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question   For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.
General Order Number 3
One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."
The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediatejubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.




It appears that the Dallas county commission has decided to celebrate Juneteenth early:
A county commission in Dallas on Tuesday unanimously, and apparently unwittingly, passed a resolution that called for slavery reparations for African Americans. 
The Dallas Morning News reported that the resolution was proposed by John Wiley Price, the only black member of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Entitled the “Juneteenth Resolution,” it passed unanimously.

After the meeting, several commissioners admitted they hadn’t read the document, nor had they received a copy of it, before voting on it, the newspaper reported.
 
The only Republican commissioner, Mike Cantrell, later changed his vote to an abstention because he “had not received a copy of the resolution,” he told Dallas Morning News. 
The resolution was nonbinding and made no arrangements for payments of reparations, but it represents the county's official position. No other commissioners had changed their votes and so the resolution remained. 
Price told Dallas News he was inspired to write the resolution after he read an article making the case for reparations in The Atlantic.
“We are the only people who haven’t been compensated,” he said, noting other ethnic groups, such as American Indians and Japanese-Americans, have been repaid for past wrongdoings.

Speaking of Texas Republicans, let us remember:  Being Gay Is Not A Choice, But Being A Texas Republican Is

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's US!



Oh lordy I am finally done with the NYCPlaywrights January Play of the Month. That's right, I said January. That's how long it took me to get two short monologue videos done. I wanted to get this done now so I don't have to deal with it during JULIA & BUDDY rehearsals.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Holy mother of reality

Queen Mother of Reality by Pawel Althamer

So much for that resolution - I have so much to do to get ready for my JULIA & BUDDY production, as the author/director/producer/costume designer/music director (yes it's because I'm an egomaniac control freak, but mostly because I work cheap) I swore I was going to stop writing about Social Justice Warriors for the duration.

No sooner had I resolved that then I started to get massive hits on my post about Pollitt vs. Kendzior, and then I was sucked back in. I do realize it shows a horrible lack of self-control on my part, but when I saw the sleazy rhetorical tactics used by David Graeber and Sarah Kendzior against Katha Pollitt it just made me so damn mad. And I'm not the only one, as you can see by this fellow's blog. But I know damn well that battling SJWs is ultimately futile - they are a many-headed hydra of irrationality and incessant smearing.

But at least I got nice feedback from someone on Twitter who said:

"Your 6/12 post on SJW & the linked piece to your fight with Kendall are the clearest things I've read on toxic twitter. KUTGW"

And I got a nice note from Pollitt herself. So it wasn't a total waste of time.

Last I checked I've gotten 842 views on the 6/12 post. Which is waaay more than most of my blog posts get - the average is like 20 views. Although to my surprise (I finally checked individual blog post view rates) that's only the fifth most popular blog post.

Here are the top 5.

3396

Aug 28, 2010
1986

1769

Oct 18, 2011
1150

842

The second and fourth aren't a big surprise - #2 is about a blog that focuses on uncircumcised penii, illustrated by a pretty explicit male nude drawing by Paul Cadmus, and #4 is about the Beatles and is illustrated by a nude photo of John and Yoko.

But #1 is just me ranting about being contacted on a dating site by some Nazi, and #3 -  I had no idea Schopenhauer was that popular - that bodes well for my play.

Anyway, I will try to do better going forward. To get the bad taste of SJWs out, let us contemplate art. I blogged about the sculpture Queen Mother of Reality currently installed at the Socrates Sculpture Park down the street a few weeks ago. I mentioned there that you could go in the sculpture but I hadn't. Well I went in today. It's quite a little hang out in there. It has seats and everything:

So capacious others were in there the same time as me -
I don't know those people though. I wonder if I'm supposed to blur
that woman's face like Google maps

Peeking out from the entrance - I don't think there's room enough for
you AND the baby carriage and me and these other two in here, lady.
Those red things aren't sales tags - they're wishes that children (I assume) wrote.
I didn't get a good clear photo of one, unfortunately.

Bonus - you can spy on the free yoga class from inside - they were packed today. The weather was pretty great.