Monday, June 29, 2009

why I am a playwright

This is why I'd rather be a playwright than a screenwriter, in spite of the low (or non-existent) pay. This is from a screenwriter's blog:
Back in the very early 90s I wrote this spec script called CRASH DIVE about some Bosnian terrorists who hijack a US Nuclear submarine and aim the missiles at New York City. They plan to destroy the United Nations for messing around in their country’s politics. So the Navy sends this retired naval engineer who knows everything about the submarine - but isn’t any kind of hero - onboard the sub to take control away from the terrorists. Okay, the script lands on the desk of producer Ashok Amritraj (SHOP GIRL and WALKING TALL) who loves the script but doesn’t think he can afford to make it. See, he has a deal with HBO to make original movies. I tell him the Navy will actually give him all of the subs and aircraft carriers and stuff for free, but he doesn’t believe me. About 3 years later, he calls the Navy number I gave him and they say "Sure, if the script is technically accurate, we’ll give you the toys for free." That means Ashok can make the film on the $3 million that HBO is paying.

So I get these script notes. You always get notes from actors, directors, producers, producer’s girlfriend’s, producer’s dog walkers, etc. Most notes aren’t about improving the script, they’re about changing it. You’ll probably be hearing more about that in later blogs. So I get these notes from HBO... they want me to put a sex scene in the script. The script takes place on a submarine with a crew of 110 MEN. I ask them, what kind of sex scene did they have in mind? Well, not a Gay sex scene. Um, where is the woman coming from? Hey, I’m the writer - be creative! HBO *insists* that I add a sex scene. So, I write up a sex scene. I make sure that the scene before and after cut together perfectly, so that when HBO sees how dumb the sex scene is, the film can still be cut together without it.

But when CRASH DIVE airs on HBO on March 28 1996, the sex scene is intact.

Welcome to Hollywood.
more here.

I'd much rather earn a living as a technical writer in order to write exactly what I want the rest of the time, and then make sure it isn't distorted out of all recognition. Playwrights have creative power due to the fact that they get paid so poorly. But there are plenty of douchebags in the theater world too, who think they know better than you how your play should go, so I also try to produce and direct my own work as much as possible.

The screenwriter doesn't explain how he got a woman into the script to avoid teh gay sex, but I have a suggestion: send down a robot that LOOKS like a woman and who is equipped to have sex with a man. Hell, let's use the old imagination - not just have sex with men - let's have a robot who falls in love with the hero. That's the kewlest idea ever.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beautiful Guys



It's the Beautiful Guys blog!

This is Just Beautiful Men

It's Beautiful Mag

Beautiful men wearing jeans

I really need to look at these pictures after spending week after week working with the Blue Shirts - men in the financial services industry who aspire to be as drab, sexless and conformist as possible.

The Pretty Boys Club channels Jane Eyre: "Reader, I (Gay) Married Him.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Snakes in Suits


This looks like a very interesting book:
Babiak, an industrial and organizational psychologist, and Hare, the creator of the standard tool for diagnosing psychopathy, explore the infiltration into today's corporations by psychopaths, or those with destructive personality characteristics that are invisible to many with whom they interact. Their skilled manipulation begins with a perfect interview, as they are attractive job applicants who are confident and charming. They often flourish in fast-paced, changing industries with widespread uncertainty and can inflict considerable damage. Babiak and Hare explain in nontechnical language and real-world case studies how to protect employees and the company from these individuals who take advantage of organizational systems and processes, exploit communication weaknesses, and promote interpersonal conflicts.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Little Michael Jackson



The Jackson 5 in Paris



S is for save me
T is for take it slow
O is for oh no
P is for please

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New leaf sonnet



Well this makes 5 days in a row I've posted sonnets... but I'm in a different mood now... time for a sexier sonnet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Schopenhauer: On Genius

For the brain to be a mere laborer in the service of the belly, is indeed the common lot of almost all those who do not live on the work of their hands; and they are far from being discontented with their lot. But it strikes despair into a man of great mind, whose brain-power goes beyond the measure necessary for the service of the will; and he prefers, if need be, to live in the narrowest circumstances, so long as they afford him the free use of his time for the development and application of his faculties; in other words, if they give him the leisure which is invaluable to him.

It is otherwise with ordinary people: for them leisure has no value in itself, nor is it, indeed, without its dangers, as these people seem to know. The technical work of our time, which is done to an unprecedented perfection, has, by increasing and multiplying objects of luxury, given the favorites of fortune a choice between more leisure and culture upon the one side, and additional luxury and good living, but with increased activity, upon the other; and, true to their character, they choose the latter, and prefer champagne to freedom. And they are consistent in their choice; for, to them, every exertion of the mind which does not serve the aims of the will is folly. Intellectual effort for its own sake, they call eccentricity. Therefore, persistence in the aims of the will and the belly will be concentricity; and, to be sure, the will is the centre, the kernel of the world.

more ON GENIUS

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stress and the City - 10 ten-minute plays

I'm getting ready to publish a collection of ten of my 10-minute plays. Eight of them were performed in my STRESS AND THE CITY show this year.
The lineup:

  1. FOX FORCE FIVE
  2. HAPPILY MARRIED
  3. MOTHERLODE
  4. MR. BLACK
  5. NEW RULES
  6. PERSONAL JESUS
  7. POOH STORY
  8. STAGE DIVING
  9. THE B WORD
  10. THE HELICOPTER

You can read one, HAPPILY MARRIED online.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123 - the original



And I thought my commute on the 5 train was bad...

You WOULD be surprised what is physically possible though - I managed to drive my friend Reagan from Harlem to Mesa Grill at 15th St. and Fifth Avenue in 20 minutes, a couple of weeks ago. Nobody scoff at a Prius baby.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

hey now

a Frost Sonnet here

I wanted to be a lumberjack

I cut down trees
I skip and jump
I like to press wild flowers
I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

In the Conservatory



Alot of people are not aware of the formal garden in Central Park, the Conservatory Garden. I'm lucky in that it's within walking distance of my apartment - one of the most exciting aspects, in addition to the Met's proximity, of moving to the Upper East Side.

I did some videotaping in the garden, but am having a hassle with the editing thanks to my new video camera. Oy. You can watch a tiny test clip of me in the garden here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Evolutionary Psychology takes another hit - why are the facts so PC?

Back a few years ago, Lawrence Summers was president of Harvard and was in the news for saying that females had lesser math & science abilities than men did for reasons of biology. Steven Pinker was also at Harvard and was best known for his evolutionary psychology manifesto "The Blank Slate." It immediately occurred to me that Summers got everything he knew about female genetic inferiority from Pinker. And as I expected, Pinker was one of Summers's biggest champions.

I got into an email exchange with Pinker about it at the time. Evolutionary psychologists are big on citing male-female test scores in math/science as proof that females are innately inferior in those areas. (Although most of them refuse to do the same to explain white vs non-white differences, to the frustration of Steven Sailer and American Renaissance.)

I asked Pinker what would happen if the gap started to close in less than an evolutionary time-frame. Would he claim that culture was helping females to triumph over their innate inferiority? It would be odd if he did, because if the power of culture was strong enough to perform such a miracle, why couldn't culture also have prevented females from achieving their full potential? Even evolutionary psychologists do not completely discount the power of sexism.

Pinker never answered my question. But now it's more than academic. According to the NYTimes:
The Wisconsin researchers, Janet S. Hyde and Janet E. Mertz, studied data from 10 states collected in tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind legislation as well as data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal testing program. Differences between girls’ and boys’ performance in the 10 states were “close to zero in all grades,” they said, even in high schools were gaps existed earlier. In the national assessment, they said, differences between girls’ and boys’ performance were “trivial.”

more here


I expected this - but I didn't expect it so soon. I thought we had at least another five years to go.

But I expect it will be much longer than that before Pinker admits that he is wrong.

For an excellent review of The Blank Slate, see Louis Menand's "What Comes Naturally" in the New Yorker.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm kind of a character



I don't see them any more but for awhile on the NY subway system they were running ads for the USA Network's "Characters Project" - and this little girl looks like me when I was that age - and kind of the same attitude, I have to admit. Weirdness.

In other subway ad news - this really cracks me up



Unless you ride the subways and are familiar with the infamous Dr. Zizmor, you would have NO idea why Snickers is running a "Dr. Feedzmore" ad. Of course they only run the Snickers ad in the subway... talk about meta advertising though.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Broken Heart by John Donne



He is stark mad, whoever says,
That he hath been in love an hour,
Yet not that love so soon decays,
But that it can ten in less space devour ;
Who will believe me, if I swear
That I have had the plague a year?
Who would not laugh at me, if I should say
I saw a flash of powder burn a day?

the rest of The Broken Heart

The metaphysical poetry of John Donne figures prominently in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play W;T.

Monday, June 01, 2009

cause for hope...

Although they are still sorting through the images, the investigators have noticed one preliminary finding: increased activation in an area of the brain related to the region associated with passionate love. "It seems to suggest what the psychological literature, poetry and people have long noticed: that being dumped actually does heighten romantic love, a phenomenon I call frustration-attraction," Dr. Fisher said in an e-mail message.

One volunteer in the study was Suzanna Katz, 22, of New York, who suffered through a breakup with her boyfriend three years ago. Ms. Katz said she became hyperactive to distract herself after the split, but said she also had moments of almost physical withdrawal, as if weaning herself from a drug.

"It had little to do with him, but more with the fact that there was something there, inside myself, a hope, a knowledge that there's someone out there for you, and that you're capable of feeling this way, and suddenly I felt like that was being lost," she said in an interview.

And no wonder. In a series of studies, researchers have found that, among other processes, new love involves psychologically internalizing a lover, absorbing elements of the other person's opinions, hobbies, expressions, character, as well as sharing one's own. "The expansion of the self happens very rapidly, it's one of the most exhilarating experiences there is, and short of threatening our survival it is one thing that most motivates us," said Dr. Aron, of SUNY, a co-author of the study.

To lose all that, all at once, while still in love, plays havoc with the emotional, cognitive and deeper reward-driven areas of the brain. But the heightened activity in these areas inevitably settles down. And the circuits in the brain related to passion remain intact, the researchers say - intact and capable in time of flaring to life with someone new.
more at the NYTimes