Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What about Naomi?

Watch more IFILM videos on AOL Video



The inspiration for my daughter's name... from The Electric Company

Monday, January 26, 2009

Final two monologues


Lynsey Buckelew as "Jackie" from FOX FORCE FIVE


Mike Selkirk from POOH STORY

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I post comments

Yet another article that tiresomely references Freud: What Do Women Want

I posted this:

The question I think is more interesting is "what do promoters of simplistic theories of human behavior want?"

In the case of evolutionary psychology it is almost always to get their readers to believe this: the problems of women as a group are not caused mainly by a social system that favors men, but by the essential evolutionary nature of women.

Bergner tips his hand with this sentence:

"Had Freud’s question gone unanswered for nearly a century not because science had taken so long to address it but because it is unanswerable? "

In other words, women's desires haven't been studied, not because male-dominated science was resistant to it, but because women are just too utterly inscrutable.

I recommend all readers here look for sentences such as that in any article that claims to reveal something about the essential sociobiological nature of women. It tells you so much about where the article's author is actually coming from.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

STRESS AND THE CITY opens tonight - whoohoo!


Phoebe Summersquash as "Carrie" from STAGE DIVING



Bruce Barton as "Ted" from HAPPILY MARRIED

Thursday, January 22, 2009

confirmation of the depths of Bush/Cheney evil...

Olbermann’s guest, the NSA whistleblower, got me to thinking: what other things that we already pretty much understand to be true will be confirmed as fact in the weeks and months ahead? This is the list that I’ve come up with so far. (Spoiler alert: this feels like something that will probably turn into a cartoon in the next week or two, so if you prefer to be surprised there, you might want to skip this one.)

1. The aforementioned spying on journalists. Of course they were spying on journalists. And there was that oddly specific moment where Andrea Mitchell, in the course of interviewing New York Times reporter James Risen about his reporting on the NSA and government wiretapping, asked if he knew anything about the administration spying on Christiane Amanpour — a question the network promptly scrubbed from the transcription.

2. Of course Cheney was running everything, at least for the first term.

3. Of course they made backroom deals with their pals at Halliburton, Enron, etc.

4. Of course they were lying about Iraq from the start.

5. Of course torture was sanctioned at the highest levels.

6. Of course Valerie Plame was deliberately outed in retaliation for Joe Wilson’s op-ed debunking the yellowcake uranium story.

7. Of course male prostitute turned fake journalist Jeff Gannon was having an affair with someone in the White House.

More at This Modern World

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Final message from the Bush White House

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More monologues


Lori Kee as "Helen" in THE HELICOPTER


Ann Farthing as "Trixie" in PERSONAL JESUS

Monday, January 19, 2009

STRESS monologue



Actors' Equity will not allow videotaping of Equity Showcase productions or even rehearsals, because the people who mostly vote on Equity issues are all over 50 and can't keep up with new technologies like Youtube. When the Equity rules about taping were written, only big corporations had video recording technologies, so the rules made sense - THEN. Now everybody has video technologies.

So to get around this Ludditish stupidity, I had to write completely separate monologues for the actors - the monologues are NOT in the plays, but the characters saying the monologues are from the plays in my STRESS AND THE CITY show.

This monologue is for "Mr. Black."

Mr. Black is based on an ex-boyfriend of mine who had major issues with his father, and really did keep the cremated remains of his dog in an urn. A golden urn - which I bought for him one Christmas. Before that he kept the remains in a box.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yet even more rehearsal photos



More at the STRESS AND THE CITY web site

More STRESS pix



Lynsey Buckelew sometimes looks like an animation, she's so expressive - I crack up every time I see this picture. I just knew she would be great as the crazy Jackie character.

More photos at the STRESS site

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More STRESS pix



More STRESS pix here
This one is from MR. BLACK, with Nick Fondulis & Lynsey Buckelew

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey I invented a word

I just realized that I coined the adverb "sonnetarily" in one of my sonnets a few months ago, from my Secret Sonnet #3 - here's how it begins:


I possess not what is necessary
To win your love. In a world much better
I could seduce you sonnetarily,
With iambus, syllable and letter.


The only word that is similar if you do a Google search is the adverb monetarily.

How do we know these are adverbs? I'll let the Electric Company and Tom Lehrer explain on Youtube.

I Me Mine

Last time I checked you can't get Let It Be in any format, but thanks to YouTube you can watch the whole thing in pieces. I saw it in a movie theatre back in the day (no, not when it first came out - I was 9 years old!) and always thought that the part where John and Yoko waltz to "I Me Mine" was especially charming.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beatles

Clearly John Lennon was the inspiration for Sesame Street

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

All You Need Is Love - The Beatles

The first ever live global television link. Broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 350 million people, the programme was broadcast via satellite on June 25, 1967. The BBC had commissioned The Beatles to write a song for the UK's contribution and this was the result.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sadly true

Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most "review-sensitive": a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at (women over 25) can increase the opening weekend's gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them.


From the article about movie marketing in this week's New Yorker titled "The Cobra."

I maybe see 3 or 4 movies in a theatre per year. This year I saw 4 - Indiana Jones... ugh, Wall-E - pretty good, Man on Wire - good, and Milk - great.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

STRESS rehearsal pix

We had a great rehearsal today of THE B WORD - check out the pix.


Lynsey Buckelew, Lori Kee and Nick Fondulis

more pix here

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Charlotte Bronte on Rochester & Heathcliff

Mr. Rochester has a thoughtful nature and a very feeling heart; he is neither selfish nor self-indulgent; he is ill-educated, misguided, errs, when he does err, through rashness and inexperience: he lives for a time as too many other men live - but being radically better than most men he does not like that degraded life, and is never happy in it. He is taught the severe lessons of Experience and has sense to learn wisdom from them - years improve him - the effervescence of youth foamed away, what is really good in him remains - his nature is like wine of a good vintage, time cannot sour - but only mellows him. Such at least was the character I meant to pourtray.

Heathcliff, again, of 'Wuthering Heights' is quite another creation. He exemplifies the effects which a life of continued injustice and hard usage may produce on a naturally perverse, vindictive and inexorable disposition. Carefully trained and kindly reared, the black gipsy-cub might possibly have been reared into a human being, but tyranny and ignorance made of him a mere demon. The worst of it is, some of his spirit seems breathed through the whole narrative in which he figures: it haunts every moore and glen, and beckons in every fir-tree of the 'Heights.'

- August 14, 1848

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

welcome to our tiny club

I see that in addition to John Simon and myself, Johann Hari is not overly impressed by the work of Harold Pinter - welcome to our tiny club!

Although the bit about Pinter being a supporter of Milosevic is news to me.

There are two arguments against Pinter - one literary, the other political - and they are both hard to make, because in amongst the screw-ups Pinter has some undeniable achievements. Harold Pinter has one literary accomplishment: he imported the surrealism of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Luis Bunel into the staid English theatre. As the critic Irving Wardle put it, in his first play 'The Birthday Party', Pinter showed "how a banal Blackpool boarding house could open up to the horrors of modern history." The play shows a man, Stanley, hiding out in a dank Blackpool boarding house, only for two torturers to track him down. His landlady, Meg, is oblivious to the violence smashing through her own home. At their best, his plays are like a nightmarish stress-dream: unbearably primal, raw expressions of menace and fear, whose meaning is always just beyond our grasp.

But with Samuel Beckett, you always know there is an elaborate existentialist philosophy underneath the darkness and chaos. With Pinter, if you turn on the light and switch off the atmospherics, you find... nothing, except a few commonplace insights: Torture is Bad and Resistance is Good. Pinter himself says "the most important line I've ever written" is when Meg's husband calls out, as Stanley is taken away, "Stan, don't let them tell you what to do." The playwright said of this unobjectionable, obvious platitude, "I've lived that line all my damn life. Never more than now." It's depressingly revealing: Pinter's staccato sinisterness does not illustrate a point; it distracts the audience from the fact his point is so banal.

Yet Pinter has been protected by an elderly critical establishment so invested in creating and building up his reputation that they cannot admit how feeble most of his plays now look. (I assume nobody at all takes the poetry seriously). When I saw 'The Homecoming' - a revoltingly misogynistic work - in the West End a few years ago, the audience kept laughing in all the wrong places. It literally looked ridiculous, yet it was given respectful - and in some cases fawning - write-ups.


More at the Huffington Post

Monday, January 05, 2009

I wrote to my congresswoman

Well I finally did it - I think moving to NYC was what inspired me - I wrote to my Congresswoman, Carol Maloney, asking her how I can go about getting a bill into Congress that would require the US Copyright Office to require proof of authorization for all derivative work registration.

Because although the US Copyright Office's website claims that authorization is required, it does not require proof and hence Edward Einhorn was able to get an UNAUTHORIZED derivative copyright on my play TAM LIN (he called his a "blocking and choreography" script) registered. Not only unauthorized, but completely unbeknownst to me until he used it a year later as the basis of a lawsuit against me for producing my own play.

And it gets worse.

It went to trial as Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions in April 2006. You can read about it at The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions.


Judge Lewis Kaplan said in his decision that Einhorn's work was not eligible for copyright because it was:

insubstantial
registered for the purpose of instigating a lawsuit
unauthorized

and he ordered Einhorn to have it deregistered.

Einhorn was able to avoid this however by simply refusing to admit to the US Copyright Office that Kaplan's findings were correct. And his unauthorized derivative registration is to this day in the Copyright Office's database. The US Copyright Office's refusal to take the word of a federal judge over the perpetrator is another cause for reform - but none of this would have happened if the Copyright Office wasn't so lax about its own regulations.

I will get the US Copyright Office to change its ways if I have to spend the rest of my life doing it - and Einhorn's ill-gotten copyright WILL be deregistered one day.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Production notes for STRESS AND THE CITY

Rehearsals start today!

I founded NYCPlaywrights (along with my ex-boyfriend) back in November 2000, mainly as a way to have a community of theatre people to work with. Once you are out of school, you have to build a community yourself, or join one. I had actually joined one, and then my ex got into a snit with the bigwigs of that theatre group and I decided it was time to move on. So we started NYCP and gradually, a community came about. So that was a good thing. The other good thing about being part of NYCPlaywrights is that it forces you to write - once you are on the schedule, you have to show up with something to hand out to actors to read.

These STRESS AND THE CITY plays were all written to be read, initially at an NYCPlaywrights' meeting. (Although this show is produced by my company Mergatroyd Productions.) Here's a little background about each play:


  • FOX FORCE FIVE - based on a true story, and in fact the character Amy, played by Phoebe Summersquash, actually is Phoebe, and Phoebe really did say to Jackie "we made out." I thought Phoebe was gay after that, but it turns out she is married. To a man. The part about calling ourselves Fox Force Five wasn't true - until AFTER I wrote the play. Bruce Barton, BTW, is an honorary Fox.

  • PERSONAL JESUS - I was raised Catholic. I'm not Catholic anymore. I used to do clinic defense for a women's health center in South Jersey, and sometimes the protestors, Catholics and the born-again Christians, would clash about just exactly who this Jesus was, whether his mother was a perpetual Virgin, etc. That inspired this play.

  • POOH STORY - everybody in the theatre world adores Edward Albee, except me and John Simon. It really embarrasses me to be in a group that has crusty old John Simon in it, but there it is. I thought it was high time for a parody of Albee's ZOO STORY.

  • STAGE DIVING - I did go to a Sleater-Kinney show with my daughter, and I did marvel at the fact that everybody was wearing office casual clothing as opposed to the leather-based regalia of Ye Olden Days in the 1980s. The rest of it I made up.

  • THE B WORD - based on a true story of what happened to me and my two brothers when we went to a playground in Camden NJ. Except it was a gang of boys and they punched my brothers, but left me alone. The Latino teenager who came along is completely true.

  • MR. BLACK - based on my ex-boyfriend, and a story he told me about what happened to him before we met. He has some anger issues.
  • HAPPILY MARRIED - is based on some people I knew recently. I was always being told that an actor was "happily married" but after watching her massage, cling to, and grope a man who was not her husband, on several occasions, well, all I can say is that I have a very different idea of what it means to be happily married than some people.

  • THE HELICOPTER - did not happen to me, but could have - my daughter worked next door to the World Trade Center back in 2001. I've been working on this play off and on since 2002.


This production is very low tech, for a couple of reasons. One is of course that as of this writing (December 2008) we are in a world-wide financial recession and things are tough all over, especially in the arts. Low-tech is more affordable. But there are also very good aesthetic reasons for the low tech, and I want to quote Thornton Wilder on the subject. Wilder, you probably know, wrote Our Town, which many people, including me, consider a masterpiece. But here is a segment of the theatre world that disparages OUR TOWN, thinking it's sentimental and old-fashioned. They could not be more wrong. But many of these are, I suspect, people who think that theatre isn't valid unless somebody is getting his eyeballs sucked out, or some little girl is being crucified, both of which have been portrayed on the New York stage recently. These people, in my opinion, would be better off spending their time at a monster truck rally than theatre, so thuggish and petrified are their sensibilities. Fie on them, I say. Anyway, back to Wilder, who said in the Preface to a collection of his plays:


The novel is pre-eminently the vehicle of the unique occasion, the theater of the generalized one. It is through the theater's power to raise the exhibited individual action to the realm of idea and type and universal that it is able to evoke our belief. But power is precisely what nineteenth-century audiences did not - dared not - confront.
They tamed it and drew its teeth; squeezed it into that removed showcase. They loaded the stage with specific objects, because every concrete object on the stage fixes and narrows the action to one moment in time and place. (Have you ever noticed that in the plays of Shakespeare no one - except occasionally a ruler - sits down? There were not even chairs on the English or Spanish stages in the time of Elizabeth I.)
So it was by a jugglery with time that the middle classes devitalized the theater. When you emphasize place in the theater, you drag down and limit and harness time to it. You thrust the action back into past time, whereas it is precisely the glory of the stage that it is always "now" there. Under such production methods the characters are all dead before the action starts. You don't have to pay deeply from your heart's participation. No great age in the theater ever attempted to capture the audience's belief through this kind of specification and localization. I became dissatisfied with the theater because I was unable to lend credence to such childish attempts to be "real."


I began writing one-act plays that tried to capture not verisimilitude but reality. In The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden four kitchen chairs present an automobile and a family travels seventy miles in twenty minutes. Ninety years go by in The Long Christmas Dinner. In Pullman Car Hiawatha some more plain chairs serve as berths and we hear the very vital statistics of the towns and fields that passengers are traversing; we hear their thoughts; we even hear the planets over their heads. In Chinese drama a character, by straddling a stick,
conveys to us that he is on horseback. In almost every No play of the Japanese an actor makes a tour of the stage and we know he is making a long jurney. Think of the ubiquity that Shakespeare's stage afforded for the battle scenes at the close of Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra. As we see them today what a cutting and hacking of the text takes place - what condescension, what contempt for his dramaturgy.


Our Town is not offered as a picture of life in a New Hampshire village; or as a speculation about the conditions of life after death (that element I merely took from Dante's Purgatory). It is an attempt to find value above all price for the smallest events of our daily life. I have made the claim as preposterous as possible, for I have set the village against the largest dimensions of time and place. The recurrent words in this play (few have noticed it)are 'hundreds', 'thousands', 'millions'. Emily's joys and griefs, her algebra lessons and her birthday presents - what are they when we consider all the billions of girls who have lived, who are living and will live? Each individual's assertion to an absolute reality can only be inner, very inner. And here the method of staging finds its justification - in the first two acts there are at least a few chairs and tables but when she revisits the earth and the kitchen to which she descended on her twelfth birhtday, the very chairs and table are gone. Our claim, our hope, our despair are in the mind - not in things, not in "scenery." Moliere said that for the theatre all he needed was a platform and a passion or two. The climax of this play needs only five square feet of boarding and the passion to know what life means to us.

My play The Helicopter is a 9-11 play. But the focus is on one woman and her tragedy, and her co-worker's reaction. In spite of the big important historical international meaning of that day, my play actually focuses on something that happens every single day on this planet. Like Wilder, I'm trying to make a connection between the very specific and the very general - not verisimilitude but reality.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Social Engineering


Mike Selkirk, Earl Gatchalian and Ann Farthing perform.

Here is a clip from my 10-minute play SOCIAL ENGINEERING which was performed as part of the NYCPlaywrights Winter Holiday Reading Fundraiser.

The play is based on the right-wing of the evolutionary psychology school of thought on human differences, most famously explained by Charles Murray's "The Bell Curve." Especially people like Razib Kahn, who get funded by right-wingers to promote the idea that white people aren't more successful than non-whites through a variety of historical-cultural factors, but because white people are genetically superior. And they always try to play it off as pure science, rather than political ideology.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Soooo cool

That I can embed videos via Facebook now.



Nome on the flying trapeze again.