Friday, February 27, 2009

I love me some Meryl Streep



"I think we are just getting closer and closer as an evolving species to being able to accept this," she said. "But look around the world. ... Women are living as we were in this country in the 19th century in many, many, many parts of the world. They're bartered, they are property, they don't have the rights we have -- it's very difficult for us to understand all those things. But we do have a sense that for us, that's in the past."

Still, she said, "those vestigial things are in every negotiation I have with people in my business," she said. "Three of the nominated films this year have 26 men and one woman [in featured roles] -- 'Slumdog [Millionaire]' and 'Milk,' and 'Frost/Nixon.' You know, we accept it. It's not unusual. But we would go nuts if three of the nominated films had 26 women and one man. It would be a very, very unusual thing.

"We're still not telling everybody's story in our country and that's where we are," she said.


more...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This guy's in love with you



This song is sort of cheezy-60s but I really love the big booming orchestra and the piano glissando - and check out the video - who knew Herb Alpert was so cute back in the day?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Running a playwrights group

So I've been running NYCPlaywrights for over eight years now. Which means I have attended almost every meeting since it began. That's alot of meetings, and that's alot of plays. And most of those plays suck.

Now some might argue that of course they do, NYCPlaywrights has no real standards when it comes to writer membership, other then evidence of sufficient sanity and the ability to pay $60. Except that I've been to see plays by other organizations by writers with stellar reputations and most of those plays suck too. The main difference is better marketing, better PR and a bigger war chest.

Much of what passes for artistic excellence is in fact just a bunch of hype. And I would submit that the career of Harold Pinter is a case in point.

The Pulitzer Prize going to Anna in the Tropics is another example. I wouldn't say it sucked in the I-want-to-rip-my-own-head-off-rather-than-sit-here-another-minute way that all too many plays do, but it was just lame. With that standard convention, the helpless suffering of women being mistaken for profundity.

Conversely, as Robert Graves once observed, probably thinking about all the hype that transforms mediocre garbage into box office gold, "A remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good in spite of all the people who say he is very good."

Of those who are involved in writing for the stage, any given person will fall into one of three general categories:

  • Those who can write for the stage

  • Those who can write, but not for the stage

  • Those who can't write for shit.

    And that includes the loftiest masters of Broadway right down to the lowliest little nobodies meeting in Bumfuck Idaho.

    Since I am forced to listen to so much crap at the Friday meetings, eventually I rebel and write a parody of whatever it is that is currently annoying me. There is one writer in the group who was on an Alzheimer's tear. Her mother had Alzheimers and so she was always bringing in plays about Alzeheimers. I mean, I sympathize with her plight but not enough to enjoy week after relentless week of plays on the topic.

    Lately another member of the group has been writing a saga about a dominatrix. The writer is pretty good at writing an amusing scene - although some are rather violent for my taste - but she just doesn't have a cohesive enough grasp on reality to keep her narrative within the bounds of logic and integrity. So I decided to write my own version of the dominatrix play called Mother Lode. Although the other writer definitely has something over me when it comes to writing about the subject of dominatrixes - she claims to have actually worked at a dungeon in Manhattan. The best I can do is that an old highschool classmate of mine did occasional work as a dom about ten years ago. Then she became a librarian.

    But the best part of the dominatrix saga is that in spite of all the kinky weirdness and offensive violence, the author refuses to use naughty words like "fuck" - her characters would say freaking instead of fucking. So my characters do too.

    MOTHER LODE will be performed at this Saturday's NYCPlaywrights February Reading Fundraiser.
  • Friday, February 20, 2009

    from the blog of an independent film director

    This guy knows lots of the same people I know in "legitimate theatre" - he shares this bit recently on his blog:

    I was looking over cash flow charts and thinking today about how [his film] has been able to eke out a tiny bit of money on each movie we make. Not enough to pay the actors.


    Of course not.

    Since his films are not animations, it would be impossible for him to make his films without the actors. And yet he can't manage to pay them. This is what is known as "exploitation."

    I couldn't find any of this director's casting calls mentioned in the blog Nudity Required, No Pay although if you've seen his films, that is clearly the plight of many of the female actors he uses for his various space westerns. He's partial towards beautiful robot-women getting naked. But since he knows a whole bunch of actors who don't mind being exploited, I guess he doesn't need to put up casting calls.

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable



    Well the end of the Bush administration didn't make everything better. Almost, but it did bring the end of Get Your War On, David Rees's cartoons inspired by the evil of the Bush Administration.

    But now he can spend more time doing the actually funnier (although much less politically relevant) My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    My kewl new screenplay


    THE CASSANDRA DIRECTIVE

    by N. G. McClernan

    EXT DESERT PLANET

    This is an angry planet. OK maybe not an angry planet, but at least a somewhat disgruntled planet. But it has a lot of rocks and shit and that's kewl.

    We see PUP, a retarded slob of a foot soldier who would be great comic relief except that he is also evil. A very good actor, maybe even a Shakespearean-quality actor should be wasted on cast in this role. He is dressed like a cowboy.

    FROM HIS POV
    We see a small silver spaceship land in the distance.

    PUP
    Whuuus that?

    We hear LT. MANLY

    MANLY
    You're an idiot, Pup.

    We see Manly and Pup from a middle distance. Manly is attractive, in a gruff manly damaged way, but not so attractive that he causes homoerotic panic in the target audience. He is dressed like a cross between a cowboy and a pirate.

    ON the screen, her back to us, walks CASSANDRA, a beautiful woman, very thin except for her gigantic breasts. She is naked, but at first glance it looks like she's wearing a shiny black skin-tight jump suit because she has black shiny latext spray-painted over her body.

    FROM HER POV
    We see Manly smirking and Pup drooling. But then, he drools alot. His face breaks into a stupid lustful grin. Manly crosses his arms, wary.

    MANLY

    Can I help you Miss?

    Cassandra speaks in a monotone and is completely incapable, as are all robots and aliens, of using contractions. The English language is beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated robots and aliens.

    CASSANDRA

    We will have sex. In the future.

    MANLY

    Come again?

    PUP

    Huhhuhhuh! She sayed yer gonna have sex!

    MANLY

    Pup, you're an idiot.

    CASSANDRA

    You do not believe me. That is the standard response from you huma - error 432 - from you boys.

    MANLY

    Why would I want to have sex with you?

    PUP

    Yew kin have sex wid me!

    MANLY

    Pup, you're an idiot. She's a robot. Cordoba class. Fully automatic with fine Corinthian leather, manufactured in the Terran city known as Newark.

    PUP

    No she ain't. She's a pretty lady!

    MANLY

    She can't use contractions.

    PUP

    She cain't use whuuut?

    MANLY

    Contractions! Didn't you hear her? Instead of "you don't believe me" she said "you do not believe me."

    PUP

    But that's the same thing. I don get it.

    MANLY

    You idiot. Don't is a contraction. She can't say it. Watch.

    to Cassandra

    Say "don't"

    CASSANDRA

    Do not.

    MANLY

    I said "don't." Say "don't"

    CASSANDRA

    Next you will say "Pup, you are an idiot."

    PUP

    She ain't gonna say it now. Yew jus told her 'dont say dont' - Ah hurd yuh.

    MANLY

    Pup, you're an idiot.

    Manly and Pup look at each other in amazement.

    PUP

    How - how did she knew you wuz gonna say that?

    MANLY

    Why are you such an idiot?

    to Cassandra

    What could make you think I would fuck a hunk of junk like you?

    CASSANDRA

    I remind you of your dead wife.

    MANLY

    I don't have a dead wife.

    CASSANDRA

    You will tell me you have a dead wife. At some point in the future.

    MANLY

    I don't believe you.

    Cassandra looks at Pup

    CASSANDRA

    And you will be killed by a nest of vipers. Mutant vipers.

    PUP

    Ah don' buhleeve that! Dey ain't no vipers, mutant or no nuther kind on this here disgruntled planet!

    CASSANDRA

    There will be when it becomes narratively convenient.

    PUP

    Whuuuu?

    CASSANDRA

    Now my master - error 786 - professor will come to this place and tell you that I am dangerous.

    MANLY

    I don't believe you.

    In a moment, THE PROFESSOR appears.

    PROFESSOR

    Stay away from her! She's dangerous!



    To be continued...

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    FIRE



    Bruce is super sexy in this video...

    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    Great run!

    Well we just had our last performance of STRESS AND THE CITY and the actors and tech people I worked with really restored my faith in theatre people - a faith that was badly shaken by nasty experiences a year ago. It's really nice to be appreciated and to work with people who are consummate professionals.

    And unfortunately it was a short run with only six performances and I feel like it deserved a much longer run, but between Equity rules and the actors' own busy schedules, 6 was all we could get and it wasn't enough to get a reviewer to come out.

    And as always after a show, I feel a little depressed. The only way to handle that depression is to plan the next show, which I've already begun. Or rather showS - at this point I am planning to do both JANE EYRE and HUCK FINN this summer. More on this later...

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    Obama Justice Department Re-Hires Attorney Fired By Goodling Because Of Lesbian Rumor

    Just in case you've forgotten, already, how INCREDIBLY EVIL THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS!!!


    In October 2006, Leslie Hagen, who was working as the liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys’ committee on Native American issues, was informed that despite her “outstanding” job performance reviews, her contract would not be renewed. In April 2008, NPR reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether Hagen was fired after a rumor reached former Justice Department official Monica Goodling that she was a lesbian.

    When the DoJ Inspector General report on Goodling was released in July 2008, it concluded that Goodling was motivated by Hagen’s perceived sexual orientation and “that Goodling’s actions violated Department policy and federal law, and constituted misconduct.”

    Last night, however, NPR reported the good news that Obama Justice Department has re-hired Hagen for old position:

    Last year, the Justice Department posted Hagen’s old job again. The department conducted a national search. Applications came in from around the country. After several rounds of interviews, Hagen eventually won the job.

    The paperwork makes it official as of Monday, Feb. 2. Hagen now has her old position back, but this time it’s a little different. Her contract no longer comes up for renewal every year. Now, the job is permanent.

    NPR’s Ari Shapiro notes that “it is not a perfectly happy ending for Hagen” because “nobody official from the department ever apologized to her for what happened” and she still owes thousands of dollars in attorney fees that the Bush Justice Department refused to pay.

    Hagen’s rehiring is only the latest move in an effort by President Obama and new Attorney General Eric Holder to provide a “a clean break with the past policies of the Bush administration.” Not only does Holder say that the Department is “no place for political favoritism,” but he is also expected to embark on “a broad doctrinal shift in policies” from the Bush administration.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    NYTimes - still operating with unexamined sexist attitudes

    It's nice that I'm not the only one who notices that a "liberal" bastion like the NYTimes is incredibly sexist. The same goes for The New Yorker:

    ...I am not reading Novels for Women. I am reading Nonfiction by Men.

    I started with AMERICAN SUCKER, New Yorker film critic David Denby’s rueful accounting of how his marriage and then his finances fell apart.

    I moved on to BEAUTIFUL BOY, west coast journalist David Scheff’s rueful accounting of how his marriage fell apart and his kid is a meth addict. This, it emerges, is very hard for Scheff, and his new wife and new children. Presumably, it’s hard for the drug-addicted son, too.

    Next, I picked up NIGHT OF THE GUN, New York Times writer David Carr’s rueful and, post-James Frey, investigatory accounting of how he and his girlfriend were addicts and he wound up raising their twin girls, only he was still doing crack, which he would occasionally purchase while his daughters slept, bundled up in the dead of winter in the backseat. Then he got married and landed a series of great jobs. Then he got arrested for drunk driving again and still sounds like kind of a mess (albeit a mess with a job at the Times).

    After Gun, I decided I’d enough of reading about well-connected white guys of a certain age detailing their screw-ups in endless, sheepish detail (and even with the sheepishness, there’s a certain wolfish gleam to the writing, a whiff of boastful braggadocio, of Look at what a big, huge mess I made of everything, like a cadre of oversized Dennis the Menaces posing in front of broken cookie jars).

    But then, dammit, I got pulled back in by Dwight Garner’s approving review of David Lozell Martin’s LOSING EVERYTHING, a novelist’s rueful accounting of how his marriage broke up and he went crazy and lost all his money and ended up broke and homeless and diabetic and with horrific gastrointestinal problems, too.

    A few questions about the dirty-white-boy books (and yes, as far as I can tell, the genre of the male midlife drugs-sex-and-losing-everything confessional is populated entirely by white guys.)

    Are journalists more likely to have their lives implode, or just more likely to have their accounts of said implosions published?

    Why is the Times so fascinated by these stories (two of the four that I read had their first lives in the pages of the Sunday Times Magazine)?

    What would happen if a woman wrote the same kind of confessional memoir about busting up a marriage, shucking her kids and spouse like old clothes, diving into drugs or porn and/or ending up homeless? My guess is that the critical reaction (curated, as it is, mostly by middle-aged white guys) would not be nearly as approving.

    But why guess?

    Here’s what the New York Times had to say about Katha Pollitt, who confessed to much milder sins (Google-stalking an ex) in her collection of essays, LEARNING TO DRIVE. “She has decided to wave her dirty laundry (among which she found unidentified striped panties) and confesses to “Webstalking” her longtime, live-in, womanizing former boyfriend. (Take that, you rat!),” tut-tuts the paper. “It’s hard to tell if she’s coming into her own, trying to sell more books or has lost it entirely.”

    Here’s the Times on Elizabeth Hayt’s I’M NO SAINT, A Nasty Little Memoir of Love and Leaving. “Managing to combine psychobabble and designer name-dropping, Hayt charmlessly recounts her coke habit, eating problems, abortion, Botox injections, struggles with motherhood, aversion to 12-step programs and hollow promiscuity…. a graphic account of one woman's capacity for greed, vanity and loveless physical intimacy.”

    So, just to be clear, if you’re a lady and you ‘fess up to an unhealthy online interest in an ex, you may have “lost it entirely.”

    If you’re a dude and you write about, say, smoking pot with your prepubescent son, scoring coke with your daughters asleep in your car, or spewing uncontrollable diabetes-related diarrhea all over your son’s back seat, well then you, sir, have written “a bruising survival story,” or a “brave, heartfelt, often funny, often frustrating book.”

    If you’re a chick who sleeps around and lives to tell (and sell) the tale, you’re greedy, vain and charmless. If you’re a guy who spends nights on end looking at Internet porn and days investing in drug companies that overcharge cancer patients for their cures, then you’re “formidably smart.”

    More at A Moment of Jen by way of Katha Pollitt's blog