Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Emily Dickinson 50

NOT with a club the heart is broken,
Nor with a stone;

the rest

The mighty Krug-Man



Making the cover of Newsweek!

The Newsweek story here.

Media Matters for America has an interesting take on it:
Looking back on the Bush years, Krugman's track record was rather impeccable. But you'll note he didn't appear on the cover of Newsweek back then. (No "Bush is Wrong" cover lines.) And for years Krugman only occasionally appeared on the pundit talk shows. He wasn't referenced much inside The Village, either. Meaning, the Beltway press pros didn't seem to care what Krugman wrote about Bush and didn't think his writing--his opposition--needed to be examined closer. He was just a liberal critic, so who cared what he wrote about Bush.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My theory on directing

So I finally developed my own theory on directing, which is pretty primitive, but even so:

- Cast carefully - get really good actors.
- Give them some guidelines.
- Make them feel safe.
- Get out of their way.

Maybe I'll elaborate and get fancy with it. But I think this works pretty well... my STRESS AND THE CITY production was a breeze to direct mainly because I followed this theory. Also, none of the actors were evil. That helps.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

oh that droll Schopenhauer

In Arthur Schopenhauer's preface to the first edition of his "The World as Will and Idea" (AKA "The World as Will and Representation") he advises the reader to do the following things:

  1. Read the works of Immanual Kant first

  2. Read Schopenhauer's own "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason" first

  3. Read his own "On Vision and Colors" first

  4. Read the Upanishads first

  5. Read the appendix of "The world as will..." first.

  6. Read both the appendix and "The world as will...", twice.


If you can't be bothered to follow his advice, Schopenhauer has a few thoughts for you:
...Therefore my advice is simply to lay down the book. But I fear I shall not escape even thus.The reader who has got as far as the preface and been stopped by it, has bought the book for cash, and asks how he is to be indemnified. My last refuge is now to remind him that he knows how to make use of a book in several ways, without exactly reading it. It may fill a gap in his library as well as many another, where, neatly bound, it will certainly look well. Or he can lay it on the toilet-table or the tea-table of some learned lady friend. Or, finally, what certainly is best of all, and I specially advise it, he can review it.

Mark Twain was never more droll.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I love this article about Jon Stewart

While it isn't The New Yorker I really like New York Magazine's short pieces - they get some very good writers.

This piece by Emily Nussbaum on Jon Stewart is very nice:
Three weeks ago, when he launched an attack on CNBC and Jim Cramer, it was an astonishingly polarizing moment, and for all the praise he got from his fans, I was startled to hear several colleagues of mine hit full-out backlash mode: Stewart had become a bully, they told me, sanctimonious and overreaching. Who did he think he was?

For me, it was a conversion moment. I’d always admired Stewart, but I was bugged by that “little me” deniability, the “just a comedian” escape hatch he’d adopted early on. Now, at last, he had claimed his own authority, without becoming any less funny. When Cramer appeared before him, trying to bond as if the two were buddies from the greenroom, Stewart didn’t knuckle: “Roll 212!,” he cried, elevating video fact-checking into a thrilling moral vaudeville.


Love it.

And Comedy Central Insider likes it too.

When we two parted by George Gordon, Lord Byron

WHEN we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,

more...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why David Sedaris earns a living as a writer...

an excerpt from his piece in this week's New Yorker...

He's at a Costco's with his brother-in-law...
This store didn't have the light bulbs Bob wanted, so we trudged on to the drug section, which proved equally disappointing. Pain relievers were in ten-gallon jars rather than packets, and so I looked around for another gift that a teen-ager might appreciate. I wanted something light and individually wrapped, and settled, finally upon a mess of condoms, which came in a box the size of a cinder block. It was a lot of protection, but not a lot of weight, and I liked that. "All right," I said to Bob. "I think these should do the trick."

Putting them in the cart, I thought nothing of it, but a moment later, walking down the aisle with my fifty-nine-year-old brother-in-law, I started feeling patently, almost titanically gay. Maybe I was imagining things, but it seemed as if people were staring at us - people in families, mostly, led by thrifty and disapproving parents who looked at what we were buying and narrowed their eyes in judgment. You homosexuals their faces seemed to say. Is that all you ever think about?

My brother-in-law is around my height, with thick graying hair, a matching mustache, and squarish wire-rimmed glasses. I'd never imagined him as gay, much less as my boyfriend, but now I couldn't stop. "We've got to get something else in this cart," I told him.

Bob disappeared into the acreage reserved for produce and returned a minute later with a four-pound box of strawberries. This somehow made us look even gayer. "After anal sex, we like shortcake!" read the cartoon bubble now floating over our heads.

"Something else," I said. "We've got to get something else."

Bob, oblivious, looked up at the rafters and thought for a moment. "I guess I could use some olive oil."

"Forget it," I told him, my voice a bark. "Let's just pay up and go. Can we do that, please?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

spring to summertime



Joplin recording "Summertime." I never knew how cute her lead guitarist was.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Erotic vignettes by Satu

YOUR MUSIC

The wind blows you firmly against me
and keeps you here.
My tears persuade you into comforting embraces,
you do not resist.
You take me into your arms and gently,
ever so lightly, touch your lips to mine.
Feeling so secure your kiss deepens and I willingly submit.

the rest of the poem here

Just in time for Spring...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New NYCPlaywrights web site design

Lots more multimedia at NYCPlaywrights.org

More family stuff

My brother Paul just had a new baby, Daniel Harry McClernan. That's three boys now for Paul and Debbie. Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

my non-Irish roots

Well now that St. Patrick's day is safely over I can talk about my non-Irish roots. Although my father was a McClernan and my mother was a Maguire, there are also Dryers (French), Smiths, Halls (English) and even the Welsh Wolfingtons in the mix. The photo here, thanks to my cousin Lorraine who is interested in genealogy, is of my mother's father's mother, Mary (May) Winifred Wolfington. I never met her but always felt so bad for her - the infamous influenza pandemic of 1918 killed her husband Thomas Maguire and their oldest son Tom within two days of each other as can be seen in these online obituary records - which show so many of the others who also died from pneumonia or influenza in the same month. According to family lore May Wolfington was never the same after, which is no wonder. Her son Martin survived and married my grandmother Marie Smith two years later. When they were 16 and 17 respectively - which seems to be a bit of a family tradition.

Iggy Wolfington the Broadway and TV actor was her nephew.

There's noone as Irish as Barack Obama



LOL! 'Now let's see Barack do Riverdance!'

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nick Fondulis can take a punch!



Little Nicky Fondulis, my HUCK FINN, demonstrates that it's good to be king - not so good to be the messenger boy!

Nick has a recurring role as the King's messenger (I hope the messenger gig has health benefits!) in the new TV series Kings.

This show looks like it's set in a modern city - how come they don't have cell phones?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Personal Jesi



During the summer I did a radio recording of my PERSONAL JESUS script. Then this past January, the play was part of my STRESS AND THE CITY show. I finally got around to processing the recording and here it is!. My friend Bob should be playing it on his radio show soon and then I'll put it on Facebook.

Two slightly different casts:

The STRESS AND THE CITY version cast:

Mellow Jesus - Bruce Barton
Angry Jesus - Nick Fondulis
Clara - Phoebe Summersquash
Betty - Lori Kee
Trixie - Ann Farthing
Zen Buddha - Mike Selkirk

The radio cast:

Mellow Jesus - Bruce Barton
Angry Jesus - Bruce Barton
Clara - Reagan Wilson
Betty - Reggie Buckingham
Trixie - Ann Farthing
Zen Buddha - Mike Selkirk

It still cracks me up to hear Bruce performing the two contrasting Jesi at the same time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Karma



Karma is Sanskrit for "deed." In both Hinduism and Buddhism karma includes an individual's physical and mental actions which determine the consequences of the person's present life and sequential lives through rebirth. Karma is based upon the phenomena of cause and effect which denotes both action and reaction that extend through many lifetimes.

There are three types of karma: "agent-karma" which is concerned with the present cause and effect, and will influence future lives; "prarabdha-karma" which had already been caused and is in the process of being effected; and, "sanchita-karma" which has been accumulated but has not yet been effected.

Karma is normally thought of as a term used by eastern religions such as previously mentioned. But, in Plato's description of reincarnation he too touches on the theme of karma when saying the soul tends to become impure through bodily transmigrations. However, if the soul retains its pure state and does good acts it will return to its preexistent state, but if it continues to deteriorate by bad acts through bodily transmigrations it will go to a place of eternal damnation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stephen Colbert goes Galt

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wuthering Heights



An acoustic guitar cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" which I really like - I think the original is just too screechy and high-pitched and Kate Bush can't seem to do the song, either live or as a music video, without seriously hamming it up.

I really think a woman with a good mezzo-soprano, accompanied by just a piano - or maybe a harp - will do the definitive version of this song one day.

But in the meantime, this is a good cover, and Kris Shred is a seriously beautiful man.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I got a cultural materialist shout-out (I think)

Somebody in Spain gave my additions to the Marvin Harris Facebook page a shout-out. But I think Babelfish's translation software could use improvement:

which made illusion is to discover that Marvin Harris has its site in Facebook, one lady there to me who is called Nancy McClernan has raised in addition the video to one interviews. A taste to see in person Harris, the author who better moments have made anthropological me happen and at which I would define more as the entertained anthropologist of the history and one of the great ones of century XX, the one that obtained starting off of simple things and with simplicity to explain the causes of ideologies, traditions, customs and taboos to us based on apparent bottomless mysteries.


see the rest of the translation here.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The eternal problem...

Amusing commentary at The American Prospect:
And it's going to get worse until Obama stops sucking up to the banks and/or grows a pair. Step 1: fire Geithner and Summers.

Is there anyone left who thinks any of the bank rescue plans has any credibility? Krugman explains it well in today's NYT.

But left/right/center doesn't matter - everyone with a brain in their head thinks that receivership (temporary nationalization) for insolvent banks is the way to go.

posted by: alex

--------------

That's not enough, we need a majority.

Posted by: Cyrus

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Soul Selects Her Own Society

A poem by Emily Dickinson

Villette

Well I finally got around to reading "Villette", Charlotte Bronte's last novel. And I have to report that in spite of many plot similarities, it is no "Jane Eyre." The ending is very dissatisfying and while of course Bronte could not be expected to predict the existence of "Scooby Doo" there are events in Villette that unfortunately reminded me very much of the adventures of those crazy kids and their dog.

I thought maybe I could adapt "Villette" into a play but the main narrative interest is protagonist Lucy Snowe and her relationships with a hot blond guy and a not-so-hot but charismatic dark-haired guy. And that is pretty much the main narrative thread of interest in "Jane Eyre" too.

Also, 25% of the dialog of "Villette" is in French, which is very annoying. I know enough French to get the general gist of what the characters are saying, but still - geez lady, you could at least provide translations!

One very interesting aspect of the novel - Bronte really rips into the Catholic Church which, as a former Catholic I found amusing. And this was a subject close to Bronte's own heart - I've read a bunch of her letters and she really was Catholic-phobic herself.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Now I'm intrigued

I thought I was the only person in the NY Theatre scene who was good and sick of the macho manly-man angry white man "brutal" playwrights so beloved of NY theatre critics, but I'm intrigued to see that Sheila Callaghan may be on the same wavelength, if this review in the NYTimes is any indication:
"That Pretty Pretty" takes aim at the many debased ways women are represented onstage and on screen. Ms. Callaghan has said she was inspired by a 2005 article in The New York Times about plays in which men behave badly.
(That article concludes, typically, that hey, that's just how guys are and if you don't like it you're uptight and PC and can't face the reality of glorious manliness, maaaaaan. But then I've long maintained that the NYTimes is a leading promoter of evolutionary psychology.)

Along with Ms. Fonda, the main characters are Agnes (Lisa Joyce) and Valerie (Danielle Slavick), bloodthirsty ex-strippers on a killing spree who are about as demure, complex and dignified as dancers in a Mötley Crüe video. They love random sex, skimpy clothes and Jell-O wrestling.

Agnes is performed with a ferocious, almost maniacal, flirtatiousness by Ms. Joyce, who, in Adam Rapp’s “Red Light Winter,” played just the kind of underdeveloped female character that this play mocks. She worships Howard Stern and dreams of breast enlargement, while Valerie likes to be beat up.

And the critics DO love the macho manly playwrights because they are so macho and manly and brutal. I said so a few years ago in my essay The Last Manly Man Playwright - the male critics really WANT the Rapp-type manly playwrights to succeed, and here is more proof in this review of Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER from the Times - even though his work disappoints them again and again, they keep crowing about how promising he is (emphasis mine):
Mr. Rapp's desire to evoke an aching romanticism to match the barroom balladry of Tom Waits, which plays a small role in the play, ultimately dooms his better efforts to explore the desperate quality of young love with more complex insight. The claustrophobic atmosphere of "Red Light Winter" is gradually suffused with too many stale ideas about the cruel ironies and sometimes savage realities of romantic attraction. Mr. Rapp is a playwright of obvious promise and carefully honed gifts, and it's a hopeful sign that his writing continues to mature. Now he just needs to find something truly new or truly meaningful to say.

Rapp clearly is a total conservative when it comes to gender, with his macho men and his prostitute sexbots. So much so that it actually took me years to fully grasp the underlying, deep-seated misogyny. I saw Rapp interviewed on Theatre Talk when RED LIGHT WINTER was first produced and he and host Susan Haskins agreed that in hiring a prostitute, the sad sack character in RED LIGHT WINTER was getting an ego boost. This struck me as an extremely odd thing to say - from my perspective, resorting to hiring someone for sex is the opposite of self-esteem: you are forced to pay for somebody to touch you. I've been turning this conundrum over in my head for three years now, and only recently did it finally occur to me - this attitude comes from the mindset of extreme patriarchy. The reason that it's good for a man's self-esteem to hire a prostitute is because it re-inforces his standing in the pecking order. That any man is better than any woman because any man can always buy a woman. It reinforces his self esteem as a ruler over women and the traditional order of things.

That Susan Haskins apparently got this makes me wonder about her. I actually emailed her after the interview aired and asked her why she had said what she did, but she never got back to me.

But that's the mindset of the macho manly-man playwrights and their many many promoters and admirers. They're just too PC to come about and bluntly state exactly what they think about the relative worth of men vs. women on this planet, but the subtext is in all their work (macho playwrights AND macho-loving critics) for anybody who tunes into it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Duelling Ring of Fires


Johnny Cash in 1968


"Ring Of Fire" Stan Ridgway and Wall Of Voodoo 1982 TV


Lucy Kaplansky


Joaquin Phoenix


Social Distortion


June Carter - who wrote the song along with Mel Kilgore