Thursday, December 30, 2010

A walk in the park

There are precious few places within walking distance of my office that are agreeable and far away from all signs of blue shirts.

There's a cute little park though where I like to go during my lunch breaks. For the first year of my present employment my trips there were blessedly uneventful. But recently...

One bright fall afternoon I was sniffing some late-blooming roses when who should be heading towards me but two blue shirts! Not from my office, but still, they were blue shirts all the same. I figured if I ignored them I would be safe. Not so:

How do they smell? (meaning the roses)




What about you? Do you smell good?


(pretending to misunderstand)

Uh, it must be the conditioner.




Gotta get back to the office. Bye.

(I beat a hasty retreat.)

"Do you smell good?" What kind of weird question is that? Lord what freaks these blue shirts be! And ruined a very nice lunch break in the park.

But the most memorable meeting in this park - all too memorable, horribly memorable - was a month later. I'm sitting on a bench, checking my Blackberry. This pudgy glasses-wearing middle-aged man approaches me.

Look at you, wearing black, checking your Blackberry. What are you doing here?

(I had the impression he was gay, although my daughter claims that my gay-dar is for shit, but in any case, I didn't think he was trying to pick me up.)


You know, had to get away from the office.


Need to get away from it all, huh?


(too polite to tell him to bug off, trying to make small talk - why did I do that?)

You know how it is. Office politics.


Oh tell me about it. I worked in an office, a government office and...

(he proceeds to tell me - I look at my Blackberry occasionally, hoping he'll get the hint I want to read my email, but then...)

Yeah, she slept all the time back there. But there was nothing we could do about it. Because she was black.




Oh yeah, didn't you know that? It's impossible to fire a black public employee. They get away with anything. She used to spend all day watching soap operas and sleeping.


Is that so?


Of course.

(He then goes on to give more examples of this woman's irrepressible sandbagging. I'm riveted - the circles I travel in, nobody ever says such blatantly racist things. I'm sure many blue shirts believe racist things but they don't say them aloud in the office - and I certainly don't socialize with them. Such naked racism was just so freaky coming out of nowhere from a stranger. I considered what to do next. Just let him ramble? Argue with him? But then my course of action became clear. As I watched him spout his offensive claptrap, the dappled afternoon sun falling on the sidewalk, the bench, his balding head, I saw something glint near his face. Then disappear. Then glint again. What WAS that thing? I waited and watched. And then. Oh dear God. It was a GIGANTIC NOSE HAIR jutting out of his left nostril, occasionally catching the golden autumnal light as he yammered on. I wrenched my head away, fighting the wave of nausea.


Gotta get back to the office. Bye.

(I beat a hasty retreat.)

Well, now that I've written it down... MAYBE THE HORRIBLE NIGHTMARES WILL STOP!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Darlington Curse on Kindle?

I've had so much to blog about lately I forgot to mention the exciting news - according to the NYTImes romance novels are all the rage in e-book format on the Kindle.

If the e-reader is the digital equivalent of the brown-paper wrapper, the romance reader is a little like the Asian carp: insatiable and unstoppable. Together, it turns out, they are a perfect couple. Romance is now the fastest-growing segment of the e-reading market, ahead of general fiction, mystery and science fiction, according to data from Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry.

Publishers and retailers, spying an opportunity, have begun pursuing in earnest those enthusiastic romance readers who have abandoned print for digital.

“Romance,” said Matthew Shear, the executive vice president and publisher of St. Martin’s Press, which releases 40 to 50 romance novels each year, is “becoming as popular in e-books as it is in the print editions.”

Long time readers of this blog may recall that I was considering doing something with my Regency-period/supernatural-romance saga The Darlington Curse. But alas I have done nothing in the past year. I really should though, I think it might be a good seller - who can resist Hot Men in Regency Clothing, the supernatural and sexxytime?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

shout out from Liam

My brief essay The Trouble with Jesus got a shout-out from Yay.

This piece was actually the catalyst for some former members of NYCPlaywrights to break off and form their own group a year and a half ago. The catalyst but not the cause - they had been planning it for weeks at least. And they decided to help themselves to the NYCPlaywrights mailing list in order to get members for their group. Because people who are full of themselves and lacking any sense of ethics will do that.

Anyway, I originally posted the essay on Facebook, and one of the former NYCPlaywrights members got really mad at me for having a strong opinion about Jesus and for saying Jesus is not a god - and so he posted a nasty attack on me in a public area of Facebook and said I was like Bill O'Reilly - which is an idiotic thing to say because however strong my opinions are, I have never done the equivalent of shutting off somebody's microphone, which is a Bill O'Reilly tactic.

The thing is, this guy couldn't come out and actually admit that he was so mad because I had insulted The Lord, because he fancies himself all cutting edge and politically incorrect. But based on his actions it was crystal clear that I hurt his feelings because I refuted the concept of Magic Jesus.

"The Trouble with Jesus" also makes me glad all over again that I am no longer forced to listen to old man plays every Tuesday. When they are not writing plays about the splendiferousness of owning a penis, or the wonders of numismatics, old men like to "dramatize" sections of the Bible. Although there was an old woman who did a Bible piece too, something about Mary Magdelene which was completely incoherent.

I think I will send all these old people to the other group, the one founded using the NYCPlaywrights mailing list, seeing as how they like to recruit members of NYCPlaywrights and all.

Willie's best day ever

This is the jolliest I've seen Willie yet and no wonder - his evening plans involve his favorite things - stealth, theft and the boss's liquor supply.

donkey's breakfast - the straw-stuffed mattresses used on board ship well into the 20th century

cutting the painter - Ships' boats are secured alongside by means of their painters, and a silent or clandestine departure can only be made by cutting the painter and allowing the boat to drift silently away from the ship until it is out of earshot of those on board

bleed the monkey - to remove spirit from a keg or cask by making a small hole and sucking through a straw

Monday, December 27, 2010

THE SLASH - finally the way I want it

I just got word that my play THE SLASH will be part of John Chatterton's Midwinter Madness Festival in February 2011.

It had a staged reading by Mergatroyd Productions in June 2004; and a full production as part of The Looking Glass 2006 Writer/Director Forum but this will be the first time that I will be directing a full production, which means that for once I will get what I want.

I was not at all happy when the director for Looking Glass inserted dialog from "Brokeback Mountain" into a performance. It might have been the actor's own idea, but the director certainly did not contact me to apologize about it.

And she also cast the world's worst actor in the role of Mr. Quark/Derek and would not get a better actor no matter how much I complained. I really should have gone to the Dramatists Guild about it. And this was after the Edward Einhorn lawsuit - you think I'd have learned my lesson not to let anybody else direct my work. Well I haven't ever since the Looking Glass snafu.

Fun fact - the Looking Glass director was Oskar Eustis's babysitter. Eustis commissioned Tony Kushner to write ANGELS IN AMERICA and directed the world premiere. Kushner gets Oskar Eustis, I get his babysitter. sigh

I did a reading of THE SLASH at the last NYCPlaywrights meeting of 2010 and was pleased by most of it, but I definitely need to tweak a few things - but of course finding out what is wrong with a script is the entire point of doing a reading, so mission accomplished.

One problem with THE SLASH is the tendency of audiences to look down on women in the first place - and then I present these women as not especially good or original writers. And on top of that, theatre audiences are not usually big fans of sci-fi, and the sci-fi that THE SLASH references is goofy early Star Trek episodes.

But I hope to get the script to the point where the audience also sympathizes with the characters, even if they look down on them.

THE SLASH was inspired by an actual Slash writer, who was a member of NYCPlaywrights before she decided to go to Nashville to try to make it as a country music singer/songwriter. Looks like she's still at it.

I've never been a big Star Trek fan, but my two longest-term relationships were with guys who both were big fans so I ended up learning alot. And of course now with the Internet I can watch the entire series online, interact with fans, etc. etc.

What is "Slash"? Glad you asked - most people still haven't heard of it. TV Tropes, as always, has a good entry about it:
Most Slash Fic authors have historically been women. This could stem from the fact that the traditional Slash subjects are overwhelmingly male-dominated: if you want to write Fan Fic in the style of a romance novel, and you don't want to use a ditzy Green Skinned Space Babe, you're pretty much going to have to pair two men, or invent a Mary Sue. Then again, some slashers say that they just find two men together to be hot, just like men like watching Lesbian porn.

If the author has much exposure to Japanese Boys Love at all, expect characters to be noticeably shoehorned into dominant seme and submissive uke roles.

The origin of the term predates the World Wide Web, going back to 1960s fanfic writers, specifically those interested in Star Trek, who wrote "Kirk/Spock" fiction, pronounced "Kirk Slash Spock". In some communities, the ordering of the names is used to indicate a power relationship.

So that's THE SLASH. The play is pretty funny I do believe. The actors at the recent reading sure seemed like they enjoyed themselves. And it will be nice to see what it's like performed without some assholes fucking up the script.

do editors do anything?

As a blogger, I don't have an editor. Which means I write exactly what I want, but it means I don't have a second pair of eyes to vet what I've written. But having an editor doesn't prevent professional writers from including absurdities in their work.

Technically I am a professional writer - I make a living as a technical writer. And I've even made a tiny pittance from plays of mine. You could even argue that since I do make money through ads on this blog that counts as professional too, in that vague 21st-century way. But in spite of all this, I usually don't think of myself as a professional writer.

And in any case, I hold Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights, and New Yorker writers to a high standard since they presumably do have editors. But the things that get by these editors...

I've already blogged a couple of times about John Lahr's turn of phrase for his review of Adam Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER in the New Yorker - "(Rapp) brings memorable news about the heart, telling us both how it fools itself and how it kills itself."

First off, I hate when reviewers presume to use the royal "we" - reviewers should speak for themselves, not try to implicate others in their often ill-considered opinions. But I digress.

There is a metaphorical tradition of giving the heart, and the brain and other body parts independent agency. And I can maybe accept "the heart fools itself" as a workable metaphor. But kills itself? A broken heart might lead to suicide, but the heart does not kill itself. To say the heart kills itself is just overwrought portentousness.

But I can imagine the New Yorker editors being intimated by John Lahr, since he is the son of the Cowardly Lion; has written a book/movie about Joe Orton; collaborated with (and sued) Elaine Stritch, and generally hobnobs with the famous and well-connected, of both historical and contemporary varieties. Who would have the nerve to laugh in Lahr's face over the heart killing itself metaphor, when it could come back and bite them later (the fact of them laughing, not the heart.)

I adore ANGELS IN AMERICA and was prepared to love everything by Tony Kushner, but that didn't work out. I bought his book "Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness: Essays, A Play, Two Poems and A Prayer." I was underwhelmed by most of it. His essays have good stuff in them, but they also ramble and repeat.

But it is the best essay in this collection, the foreward to ANGELS called "With A Little Help from My Friends" that has the most annoying passage. Kushner notes his relationship to friend and artistic collaborator Kimberly T. Flynn - very nice and well done. But then there's this bit, and I'm not sure why it's there:
...I was introduced to Elizabeth I. McCann, who said to me: "I've been worried about how you were handling all this, till I read that you have an Irish woman in your life. Then I knew you were going to be fine."

I assume he put that in there to curry favor with an important theatre producer, which McCann is, especially at that time, but ye gods it's such an annoying thing for anybody to say, I half expected he was deliberately trying to make her sound stupid by reporting those words.

I'm Irish (mostly) myself, but I hate all that ethnic-identity crap. And what a simplistic sentiment. But I could see somebody saying that to make small talk, because small talk is a form of communication that has a very different set of rules from all other forms of communication. Inanity is perfectly acceptable in small talk. But there's no reason to share such inanity out of its small talk context.

You'll be fine with an Irish woman in your life? Why? Because she'll brew you a big ole jug of poteen??? What the hell?

The final straw that prompted this blog tirade was in the New Yorker too. I happened to read an article by Adam Gopnik, a long-time staff writer at the New Yorker called "What Would Jesus Do? that was fine - better than fine, interesting and well written for the most part, but the entire effect of excellence was ruined for me when I got to this:
as the Bacchae knew, we always tear our Gods to bits, and eat the bits we like.

He says "THE" Bacchae so presumably he's talking about the one by Euripides. But no gods are torn to bits in The Bacchae - Pentheus, the king of Thebes who refuses to believe that Dionysus is actually the son of Zeus, and therefore a god, is torn apart by Bacchants at the instigation of Dionysus.

So a king is torn up, not a god. And even more - Pentheus is not eaten, his body parts are flung around and his mother takes his head, bewitched by Dionysus into thinking it's the head of a mountain lion:
Scattered lies his corpse, part beneath the rugged rocks, and part amid the deep dark woods, no easy task to find; but his poor head hath his mother made her own, and fixing it upon the point of a thyrsus, as it had been a mountain lion's, she bears it through the midst of Cithaeron, having left her sisters with the Maenads at their rites. And she is entering these walls exulting in her hunting fraught with woe, calling on the Bacchic god her fellow-hunter who had helped her to triumph in a chase, where her only prize was tears.

So the Bacchae tells us no such thing that Gopnik claims. I would argue that rather Euripides is saying that gods are monsters who will devise needlessly cruel punishments for skeptics.

But even if Euripides did write a play about a God who is torn up and eaten (and what the hell kind of sorry excuse for a God is that?) Gopnik's observation would still be ridiculous because it contains "we" and "always." What do you mean "we" white man?

And what's with the "always"? Gopnik is clearly trying to make a connection between the story of the Bacchae and Jesus's invention of ritual cannibalism ("take and eat, this is my body") but it doesn't fly, and not only because Pentheus is a king and not a god. When The Bacchae "knew" anything, it was long before the magic Jesus myth was invented, and no other Greek gods - and why would Eurpides be acquainted with any others culture's mythologies - were being torn up and eaten. And even if there is some instance in some mythology of mortals tearing up and eating a god, there would certainly be no justification to say "we" always do such things. More like "almost never."

So why both the inaccuracy and the idiotic "we always" claim from a well-paid New Yorker name-brand staffer?

Here's what I think happened - Gopnik saw a production of the Bacchae years before he wrote this article, and somehow had the impression that Pentheus was a god. And then he just invented the "we always eat the God we love" angle, because he thought it was an important piece of human psychological insight. And was too lazy to Google "The Bacchae" and nobody bothered to check his work - or couldn't bring themselves to correct such an important New Yorker insider. And certainly Gopnik would have no motivation to ruin Gopnik's Wicked Kewl Theory Concerning The Bacchae and Our Persistent Theophagy.

But at least somebody, somewhere, is paying attention to some of Gopnik's carelessness - at the bottom of the article (the article was written in May 2010) is this :
*Correction, August 13, 2010: Not all the Gospels are named for disciples, as originally stated.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

True Grit

I saw both True Grits the other day - first the 1969 version with John Wayne and then the new Coen brothers version - within a couple of hours of each other.

A frequent comment I've heard about the versions is that the Coen brothers version is much closer to the book. I'm not sure about that - I haven't read the book. But I will say that the two movies are actually very similar to each other as far as telling the story - and many of the 2010 shots were very similar to the 1969 shots.

The beginning and the end are the most different for each movie - there are scenes of the murdered father in the earlier version. The outcomes for the characters are a bit different, especially the LeBoeuf character - and let me state for the record that Matt Damon looks very fine indeed in that role - much sexier than Glenn Campbell in the '69 version.

At least this review admits that "the screenplays are eerily close."

Fun fact - the '69 version had Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall as outlaws. And Dennis Hopper got his fingers chopped off. I was surprised that the Coen brother's filming of the finger-chopping bit was only a little more graphic than the '69 version.

The '69 version did leave out the guy with the bear skin - although since the encounter with him furthers the plot not at all, as amusingly weird as it is - that was probably the better choice anyway.

And I also have to say that the first version had a stronger emotional impact for me at the end - even if it was a tad cheezy - than the Coen brothers version - but I think that's because the Coens try so hard (or maybe it comes naturally to them) to keep emotional distance from humans. And so for me the most emotional moment in the 2010 True Grit was over Mattie's horse. I cried for the horse. You'll understand if you see the movie.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

The image above is from Newsweek 1994. But the Ging-grinch has not changed his ways in the least. This from a Huffington Post article on December 20, 2010.

Newt Gingrich Blames Nation's problems on Unemployed People
Newt Gingrich, who is currently mulling a presidential bid in 2012, said at a political event in South Carolina on Thursday that most of America's problems can be blamed on the "leftist news media," Hollywood, tenured academics, overpaid federal workers, and unemployed people.

"I'm opposed to giving people money for doing nothing," he told the crowd of 250 cheering GOP activists in a state with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate.

Is South Carolina the hellmouth?

From Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"
'At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.'

'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.'

'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.

'Both very busy, sir.'

'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it.'

'Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,' returned the gentleman, 'a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?'

'Nothing!' Scrooge replied.

'You wish to be anonymous?'

'I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. 'Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned-they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides-excuse me-I don't know that.'

'But you might know it,' observed the gentleman.

'It's not my business,' Scrooge returned. 'It's enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!'

Friday, December 24, 2010

Riding the mollymawk

OK, I'm not even going to try to guess how Willie ended up astern of the Wanderer hanging from the maw of a giant albatross (aka "mollymawk"). I'm sure "eleven up spirits" has to do with liquor because what else? But I can't find anything on the Internet that explains what exactly that means or the provenance of the term. Although it's not like an albatross is going to be impressed anyway.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"don't ask don't tell" can now go to hell - plus ignorant Confederacy-loving freaks

Well this IS good news:

The military’s longstanding ban on service by gays and lesbians came to a historic and symbolic end on Wednesday, as President Obama signed legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the contentious 17-year old Clinton-era law that sought to allow gays to serve under the terms of an uneasy compromise that required them to keep their sexuality a secret.

more at the NYTimes

But ignorance and bigotry never sleeps. There is a series going on at the Times about the Civil War and an article about Confederacy-lovers celebrating the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's secession:
Inside, the white gala attendees, nearly half of whom were dressed in period costume, belted out a rousing rendition of Dixie. The mood was festive and defiant. Slavery, many insisted, had nothing to do with their decision to buy the $100 ticket to attend the ball. “We’re not celebrating slavery,” maintained Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander-in-Chief Michael Givens. “We’re looking at the bravery and tenacity of the people who rose up.” When pressed, he and others admitted that the institution was an abomination. But they also took pains to emphasize that secession was about high tariffs or states’ rights. Anything but slavery.

Attendees at Monday’s ball would like to believe that the unanimity of slaveowners and non-slaveowners during the crisis proves that slavery wasn’t the driving issue behind secession. But a closer study of the contentious debate over secession in late 1860 shows how “fire-eaters” used fear of emancipation to coerce and persuade whites of all classes into ultimately supporting secession. (Needless to say, the state’s black majority likely didn’t support secession either—though no one bothered to ask them.)

To get a real taste of the mind-boggling ignorance and fantasy-land mentality of these people, you need to check out the Facebook page the Times set up about the series - it's full of comments from Confederacy lovers, like some guy named Wayne David Carlson. He left his FB profile totally open, so anybody who is on Facebook can get a load of his "Southern Heroes" page.

Like all celebrants of the South's "glorious" past, Carlson can barely hide his racism. He writes:
These are some of my Southern heroes. A great disservice is done to our children when they are ignorant of them because the schools are indoctrinating them with all sorts of multicultural drivel and depriving them of a knowledge of who they are and where they come from!

Only the most degraded, pathetic, deluded ignoramus could deny that the primary cause of South Carolina's secession was about slavery - they made an open declaration about it. From South Carolina's "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union":

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

You'd have to have a SERIOUS reading-comprehension problem not to understand what this means. South Carolina is complaining that the North is "deciding upon the propriety" of slavery; that the North denies the right to make human beings property; that the North says slavery is sinful; the North allows abolitionists to speak out against slavery; Northerners help slaves escape AND Notherners "incited" slaves.

It really is astounding that there are people out there who actually want to be identified with the old evil South.

UPDATE - turns out that Wayne David Carlson is a gym teacher as well as "chairman of the Virginia League of the South" a crazed right-wing Christian Southern-separatist organization. Apparently only men are allowed to represent their organization.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

acting from the other side

I decided to finally take the plunge this winter and take an acting course at the Barrow Group. I've presumed to write for actors for 17 years and direct actors for five years now, and I think it's about time I get a more insider understanding of the craft.

I never intended to be a director, but after getting sued by that idiot Edward Einhorn, in his ridiculous attempt to create a director's copyright I basically had no choice. I had to jump in and do it, no training time allowed.

Perhaps I'll take a directing course next, although I feel that getting good at directing is more about getting experience under your belt than it is about any techniques. Acting is more complex, more about getting into your head and into a character than directing - at least when it's done right, in my opinion. Too many directors play silly head games rather than serving the script.

I'm a big fan of William Ball's approach to directing as explained in his A Sense of Direction. I've blogged about it before but it bears repeating:
Each actor who enters the profession carries with him from childhood a starvation for approbation. As he grows older, he finds that acting is a socially acceptable form of doing something in hope of getting the kind of approval that he missed in his childhood. A director understands that to an actor praise is like food. The actor cannot live without it, cannot flourish without it. A director must discipline himself to praise ceaselessly.

It is not necessary for the actor to have done something extraordinary in order to be praised. General praise, in comments such as "you're doing nicely" or "This scene is coming along" or "It's a pleasure to work with you" doesn't have to apply to any specific achievement, but it lifts the actor's spirit and causes him to flourish. He feels his flower is blooming. He feels his life is healthy. He feels as though the sun is shining if a director, who is, after all, the authority figure, is in favor of him.
I love that sentence: "he feels his flower is blooming." There's something so endearing to have that turn of phrase applied to a man - women are so often associated with flowers, and men hardly ever. I liked it so much I wrote something like it for JULIA & BUDDY - Julia has seen a video clip of Buddy performing Hamlet and says that even though he's a caterpillar now, he was once a beautiful butterfly. Buddy scoffs at being called a butterfly at first but later agrees with her:


You had a burning desire in your soul. How beautiful.


Yes! How did you say it? I was once a beautiful butterfly. But then! And my girlfriend – well, she wasn’t too interested in Buddy the maintenance man.

The course I'm taking is for beginners, and I don't expect I'll ever get beyond beginner stage - unlike Buddy I don't have a burning desire in my soul to act. For one thing I'd get bored with the necessity of repeating the same performance again and again. For another, stage actors are as much athletes as they are artists - you have to work through colds, pain, discomfort of all sorts on occasion, and while people are scrutinizing you. I doubt I could handle that. Also my diction is crap and would take lots of work to make it acceptable. But I sure would love to do a Shakespeare monologue - and do it right. I'd have a total brainiac amour over that.

But I want to at least have the experience of attempting to act so that I'll have a better understanding of what actors go through. And I already do greatly admire good acting - I expect I'll admire actors even more once I see what it takes to act.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

oh mamma can this really be the end?

I've been jonesing to hear "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" all day.

Favorite lyric:

And here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.

Fear and Loathing - Bob Dylan - MyVideo

Monday, December 20, 2010


I finally have a blurb for the Friday Night Footlights, which is happening January 14:

Daniel and Claire get into character

Julia the philosophy professor is locked in her apartment and Buddy, her building’s maintenance man comes to the rescue – but not in the way that Julia expected. Together they struggle with psychological problems and philosophical questions: Was Hamlet illogical? Was Schopenhauer a crazy wackjob? How wrong is it to have an affair with a married woman? Is life like a speeding car of death? Are we all controlled by an evil cosmic overlord who forces us to have sex? Why is the F-word the very worst word you can say?

awash in beer

I had an ocean of alcohol on hand for the J&B reading/Christmas party, and much of it was consumed - except for the beer. So now I have all this beer in my fridge, and I don't drink beer.

Speaking of alcohol and oceans, I think I solved the mystery of where all Willie the Whaler's money goes - this ad from the November 20, 1943 issue of The New Yorker.

Willie says he's going to the "Fiddler's Green" to get a "noggin of neaters." Neaters being British slang for rum - but why would he have to go to Fiddler's Green to get rum, when clearly he's at the Whaler Bar and God knows they'll have rum. I suspect Fiddler's Green is a house of ill-repute.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

JB team

Great reading at the Christmas Party - thanks to the awesome JB team of Daniel Genalo and Claire Warden - and Bruce Barton doing stage directions.

Up next: Friday Night Footlights performance.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

more words I don't like

Since I'm having a party that means one thing: cleaning. Lots of cleaning. I sure do miss living with my ex-boyfriend, at least the part where he insisted on hiring someone to clean our apartment on a regular basis. That was sweet.

But I have to take a break once in awhile - so I decided to blog while on my cleaning break.

Here are words I don't like: "actress", "comedienne" and "sculptress." The last one you don't hear too often but all these words represent the unnecessary genderizing of occupations. Are female stand-up comics so womanly that they can't be called comedians? And sculptress really points up the randomness of these feminized terms - I never hear of a female painter being called a "paintress" or a "paintrix" or whatever other godforsaken term anybody might invent. Why the term "actress" but not "playwrightress"? Or directrix?

Actually I think we are likely to be stuck with "actress" for a long time. As long as men utterly dominate the performing arts - as producers, directors, writers, technicians, etc., the gender of an actor is very important. And the roles for "actresses" are traditionally, and to a lesser degree today - but still - very specifically for females. The girlfriend or wife or mother roles are the most likely roles a female actor will get. Because most playwrights seem to figure there's no point in making a character female unless its reproductive organs must specifically be female.

The only feminized word I think works is "dominatrix" - although mainly because there doesn't seem to be a male occupation that quite matches. But that word is not used much on a daily basis - at least in the circles I travel in. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, December 17, 2010


My Christmas Party/Reading is this Saturday. I'm excited!

The highlight of this party/reading for me will be to finally hear the entire script of JULIA & BUDDY read by the perfect cast, Claire Warden and Daniel Genalo. Individually they are both impressive performers (and yes, I do appreciate Daniel's awesome abs), but together they have amazing chemistry. The main worry is that since they are both so good, they might make my script seem better than it is, and I won't edit what needs to be edited. The entire point of any reading of a brand-new play is to find out what doesn't work - a concept that I could never get 95% of all the people who ever came through NYCPlaywrights to understand.

But what the hell - it's so exhilarating to see two actors create a synergistic artistic happening together. I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

cooking day aboard the bark Wanderer

Very interesting article on the hunt for new viruses in this week's New Yorker, The Doomsday Strain - although it's behind a pay wall. Other interesting articles too. Some weeks are better than others for the New Yorker.

Speaking of which - oh Willie!

I can't believe this - for some reason Willie isn't going to steal liquor as usual - maybe the Wanderer's owner finally got wise - but since he has no money he's actually threatening to sell his ship's sail! I knew you were a rapscallion Willie, but this is too much!

The term "cooking day" is pretty much what you might expect if you know our man Willie, but I will quote from Thirty-six years of a seafaring life by Old Quarter Master:
Now as cooking, as it is called, goes round, every man in the mess has his turn, and his chance to get drunk and to get into a hobble; but there are some, though few, who do not take a cooking day, and always find a ready substitute to act in their place, and although a cook has much to do, being answerable for the time being, that every thing is clean and in order, yet many consider it a holiday. It was such a holiday as I never took, many men who might have been years in a ship, in comfort and respected, on that one day blast perhaps their comfort and character, and while in the gratification of the moment, commit deeds, at which in their sober moments they would have shuddered.

From the looks of Willie's empty pockets I will hazard a guess that "by the wind" means he's out of money.

According to the "The New American Practical Navigator", "Freshen the hawse" means to veer out or heave in a little cable, to let another part of it endure the stress of the hawse-hole.

The mystery - where did all Willie's money go?

JB #3

New version...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NYCPlaywrights 2.0

Well, finally the last meeting of old school NYCPlaywrights. After 10 years, I am so relieved. I really don't enjoy spending my Tuesdays making old people sad by giving them honest feedback about their awful awful plays. And I just can't stop myself - if they ASK for feedback, I actually tell them and don't sugar coat it. Sometimes I'm able to behave myself for an hour or so during a meeting; sometimes I bite my tongue until it almost bleeds; but eventually I will tell them what I really think. Especially if they argue with people who are giving them feedback.

One thing I always made clear at NYCPlaywrights meetings was that the writers did not HAVE to have post-reading feedback sessions - it was absolutely optional. And they almost always go for it anyway. In fact, it seems like the worse writers they are, the more likely they are to ask for feedback. And then they get criticism and not the praise they expected. Really there's no point in giving them feedback - they aren't going to change a damn thing about their crappy play.

Now maybe these old people will just do readings for their friends and families, who will tell them how wonderful their plays are, and they can go to their graves happy. And I won't be tormented by bad plays about old senile people, bad plays about old men talking about numismatics, and bad plays based on the Bible.

One of the NYCPlaywrights actors, who turns out to be a pretty good playwright - and I can give her a chance to write more now that NYCPlaywrights membership is free - gave me a Christmas card tonight, and inside wrote: "Thank you for your great year of opportunity at Playwrights! Cheers to a great 2011 with less old man plays!"

It isn't only old people who write bad plays of course. But clearly so many of them are doing it as a hobby and have no interest in actually having something produced. For example - today an older guy brought in a 10-minute play about a guy drowning at the bottom of a lake. He really didn't have to be in a lake - whatever point the playwright was trying to make about life or death or WTF could have been made in any other life-or-death situation. But since it was in a lake, he took care to mention bubbles coming out of the drowning guys mouth - and fishes eating the bubbles. And legs floating about his head (people swimming on the surface of the water.) And it was pointed out to him that these were rather pointless stage directions, since not only was this supposed to be a play, but a ten-minute play. And his response was that there were all kinds of high-tech devices that could be used to create the effects. As if anybody would think it worth-while to invest in high-tech effects for a ten-minute play.

But the thing is - he had done a reading of another 10-minute play of his with exactly the same problem a month ago - all these very specific, cinematic stage directions that would never be taken seriously and makes him look like he doesn't know what he's doing. And he was told all those things. And the fact that he did another play with the same problems shows all that feedback was for naught - he just doesn't give a damn.

I sometimes wonder though if I am giving people too much credit, to say they don't give a damn. Sometimes I think that it isn't so much an attitude as genuine, sincere stupidity.

Oftentimes poor writing is attributed to lack of talent, but I think that often it's actually the writing simply reflects poor thinking. When people write shallow, unrealistic characters, why be so sure it's inept writing? Maybe that's what things look like inside their head. Maybe they can't perceive depth in other people - everybody really does look that shallow and simplistic to them.

An older woman brought a play in today that was set during the Harpers Ferry Raid (the famous John Brown-led attack on slaveholders) and she wanted to show compassion for the black people involved. Which would, you would think, lead her to represent them as individuals. And she did that with the men - but the men's wives, whom the men care so much about, did not receive names in the script. They were each called "wife".

I pointed out this namelessness to the woman and she said, "hm, yes, interesting point" - which I understood to mean she would think about giving them names. But I don't think she just forgot to give them names - I think failing to give them names in fact reflected her attitude towards them. They weren't actual people, they were stock characters "the wife" that the male slaves could care for. But it's hard to show human interactions between a fleshed-out person and a stock figure. It indicated just how far she was willing to go in her consideration of the people she was writing about - Joe the slave (not the real name) and wife - not far at all.

Any time a play has characters that are not named, but just referred to like that - "man", "woman", "person #1" - it's usually not a good sign.

And there was a passage in the script in which a character describes rooting pigs eating human body parts - but it was completely unclear from the script what they were doing - especially to an audience of city slickers who had never been to a pig farm (in the 1850s) and who did not know what the word "root" meant. And she actually blamed one of the actors for the audience not getting it. She said he read that passage "too softly."

NOTHING pisses me off more than the writer blaming the actors, especially in a cold reading, for the faults of their own bad script. GRRR!

More later. It is freezing in this apartment and I have to put up some kind of window insulation. Yikes!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

now we know why he drinks so much...

Poor ole Willie - no wonder he drinks so much - his job terrifies him! Look at him shiver with fear in this ad from April 15, 1941. And usually the ad begins "Says Willie..." this time it begins "Wails Willie..."

There's really no obscure lingo here. Just raw fear. Not even a reference to alcohol, which is unprecedented...

...hmm, maybe that isn't fear, maybe it's delirium tremens.

Monday, December 13, 2010

logo agogogo

After living with the last iteration of the J&B logo I decided it was too curly. I tried something different:

Also I decided to try more color instead of going with black and red. This font is "Bosin", the same one I used to create the "heavens to mergatroyd" logo for this blog, although I tweaked it a little as usual.

I'll see how I feel in a few days...

Willies & gob sticks

Well, I decided to get serious and do a Google search for Willies - at first I thought that since they were images, and advertisements, they wouldn't show up in a text search, but I was wrong. So here is what I learned:

There are a total of 22 unique ads
The first appearance of Willie was November 25, 1939 - but he was unnamed
The first named appearance was January 20, 1940
The last appearance (as far as I can tell) was July 25, 1964.
Some years there were no appearances of Willie at all - although I'm not sure how reliable a text search is - I found an ad in a 1961 issue, but the search did not find it.

I've posted seven of the Willie ads so far - I will post the rest over the next few weeks.

Here's a lingo-packed ad:

gob sticks

We all know what "a wack of the rum keg" is. It looks like Willie is in cahoots with the ship's cook - no doubt another rapscallion.

cowgirl time

I threw a thank-you brunch for all the good folks at NYCPlaywrights who have helped me out in the last year with the group - taking attendance, leading post-reading feedback sessions, greeting people, etc. I used to do all that stuff myself, and it was great to have help - brunch was the least I could do.

We had brunch at Cowgirl in the West Village - yeehaw!

Here's Sally Starr - she had a TV show in the Philadelphia area when I was growing up - she was my hero.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

latest JB logo iteration

This font is "Helzapoppin" which was only $12 on

I tweaked it though - adjusting sizes and positions. I redid the a to make it look more like the body of the d. And the ampersand is from a completely different font - I didn't like the one in Helzapoppin. Well, it's good that not all my art-school training is for naught.

I'll have to mull this version over...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

more reviews of the Pandora Machine ouevre

Now admittedly grade B sci-fi is not a genre I'm interested in anyway. When it comes to science fiction movies I like the quality stuff like Alien or Starman, although what I really love is time-travel movies like Time After Time (Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells) and the Back to the Future trilogy. Which are more fantasy than science, but they tend to at least try to have scientific explanations for everything. And what those movies all have in common are fully realized characters and tightly crafted plots.

My absolutely favorite science-type movie though is Apollo 13 - science fact. But like the good sci-fi movies it has vivid characters and an extremely well-crafted story.

And then there's the stuff from Pandora Machine. The only movie I've seen by them is Angry Planet, and I thought it was bad. But then, I thought it was bad when I read the screenplay, way back when a former friend told me he was in it and I was trying my best to like it for his sake - I mean really trying. But I had to give that up - it was poorly plotted and the characters were strictly cardboard. And I thought the character he was playing was just awful - both evil and retarded and he seemed to exist mainly to give the other characters a chance to be verbally abusive - which made them even more unlikeable than they already were. Although he did take a quick break from being retarded to solve the movie's big plot mystery. I blogged about that in May 2009 - How Not to Write a Screenplay.

I felt embarrassed for my friend's sake - and also indignant - I thought he was too good an actor to play such a lame character. But when I asked him about his role once, and he avoided the question, I thought it was best not to mention it again.

But I haven't found a review yet of Angry Planet. I don't know what people who love grade-B sci-fi would think of it. Those kind of people generally do NOT seem to like Pandora Machine's other output though. I posted one review of Clonehunter on Friday - written not by a "professional" web reviewer, just a consumer who watched the movie. Here's the other one:
Worse than worst, 26 October 2010
Author: gj_r from Netherlands

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I never wrote a review before, but this movie sent me over the edge. Especially if they use WIRED telephones in the 26th century. So here's the deal.

The clone hunter is a middle-aged boring man that loses every fight he's getting himself into. His partner is a fine looking young woman who gets outsmarted by a 10 year old, gets drunk in a bar without noticing she gets the booze on purpose, gets her memory almost erased, and dresses like a Barbie doll in the second half of the movie.

The painfully embarrassing 3rd crew member aboard their spaceship is a holographic cat, that can pilot the ship if necessary. What were they thinking?? And that meowing bugger almost looks as good as a lost ghost from the good old Atari Pac-Man game. Need I write more ? The bad guys are as awfully visible as the "special effects".

Finally, all the action you'll get is you grabbing your remote control pressing the rewind or replay button, thinking "what the hell did I just miss?" The average episode of Blakes Seven or Star Trek was done better.

Or think about watching paint dry....

The reviewer is from The Netherlands and while his English is good - much better than my Dutch - I enjoyed this review in part because of the slightly-off grammar: "The bad guys are as awfully visible as the "special effects." Which I guess means that the bad guys looked as bad as the special effects?

I do love this sentence though: "The clone hunter is a middle-aged boring man that loses every fight he's getting himself into." Both for the phrase "middle-aged boring man" and also the Germanic-sounding "every fight he's getting himself into."

So this is a pretty bad track record - two out of two reviews that are not just negative but scathing.

It doesn't seem to bother Andrew Bellware at all, however - he seems to think that any attention is good. Which I guess is why he harasses me with nasty little messages delivered via search-engine text strings. He sent me another one today at 10 AM.

The harassment seems to spring from the fact that I blogged about his work - and his casting habits - and said I didn't like either. So I'm wondering if he harasses others who say online they don't like his work. Maybe he's decided to try the same marketing technique as that DecoreMyEyes guy in Brooklyn who pushes his web presence up through hostility to customers.

on web statistics

I visited my blog from my Blackberry during my commute to work on Friday. Here's what the stats say:
Domain Name ? (Network)
IP Address ? (Unknown Organization)
ISP Unknown ISP
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : Massachusetts
City : Medford
Lat/Long : 42.4247, -71.1112 (Map)
Distance : 186 miles
Language unknown
Operating System Unknown Unknown
Browser Default 4.1.0
BlackBerry7130e/4.1.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105
Javascript disabled
Time of Visit Dec 10 2010 8:29:51 am
Last Page View Dec 10 2010 8:29:51 am
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL unknown
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click

Please note - I take the N train downtown through Manhattan and the NYC subway system does not go anywhere near Medford Massachusetts.

The location listed isn't always the physical location of the user, and other factors can influence how the web statistics application read the data. For instance, although one web stats program thinks that someone is visiting from South Richmond Hill, another program says Kew Gardens.

In the case of Andrew Bellware visiting my site - the same IP addresses show up again and again with the nasty search-string messages, but more importantly, as I've said, he's used many of the same IPs to edit his blog, so it's not a stunning act of deductive reasoning to make the connection.

And unlike his friend, who stopped with the search string messages by the end of March, Bellware has continued right up to today. Sometimes the messages are just random, as I've blogged about here before - "wankle rotary engine" but many times they are personal, insulting and/or obscene. I have said I don't like his movies, and I have disapproved of his asking actors to get naked but not offering to pay them. So he feels that he has every right to harass me - and libel me - as much as he wishes. But he is wrong.

once again Andrew Bellware gets it wrong.

In his latest post Bellware admits he refuses to honor my request to cease the libel. But it's this part I found really strange:

Her follow-up so far has been:

* My lawyer will contact you.

Which I believe, in and of itself, constitutes a threat.

Since when does having a lawyer contact anybody constitute "a threat"? On what planet? Having a lawyer contact someone in the cause of legal redress is the way things are done in the USA.

But the second part has the most amusing falsehood:

Will someone please remind me how she became something any of us care about? I'm sure if you look around on her blog you'll find more funny stuff. I only learn about the whack stuff she writes second-hand from actors who won't work with her anymore but still read her blog for amusement.

The part about reading my blog is true - that's easy enough to verify with web statistics. But the most regular actor-reader of my blog is David Ian Lee - and I never worked with him. I met him, briefly, once. He decided to take a personal interest in me - I have no idea why.

And as far as the other two - I won't work with either of them. Which is worse for them, since I paid them (a foreign concept to Bellware) and very well for an off-off Broadway show. I won't work with the one because he behaved extremely unprofessionally during my show - I have the email from the stage manager listing the abuse he gave to the stage crew. That wasn't all of his unprofessionalism, but that's enough. The other actor, I have to say, behaved with consummate professionalism throughout the show, so for the longest time after the show I did think he was my friend - but I eventually realized otherwise. But perhaps Mr. Bellware does not realize how incredibly two-faced many actors are. I heard the two of them - and another actor in my show - talking nasty shit about an uptown female director they all worked with - who they would all work with again.

I certainly don't need such back-stabbing, two-faced creeps working for me!

But to answer his plaintive question:
Will someone please remind me how she became something any of us care about?

No Bellware, only you "care" enough to send me nasty text-search messages for eight months.

By all means, feel free to stop "caring" about me in that way - you've been doing so since March and I've had as much as I can stand.

Bellware strikes again

So obviously Bellware has no intention of stopping with the text-string messages. He just sent me this:
Domain Name ? (Commercial)
IP Address ? (Rogers Cable)
ISP Rogers Cable
Continent : North America
Country : Canada (Facts)
State/Region : Ontario
City : Toronto
Lat/Long : 43.6667, -79.4167 (Map)
Distance : 372 miles
Language English (U.S.)
Operating System Macintosh WinNT
Browser Safari 1.3
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/534.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/8.0.552.215 Safari/534.10
Javascript version 1.5
Resolution : 1366 x 768
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit Dec 10 2010 10:27:23 pm
Last Page View Dec 10 2010 10:27:23 pm
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL mcclernan stalker
Search Engine
Search Words nancy mcclernan stalker
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page
Out Click
Time Zone UTC-5:00
Visitor's Time Dec 10 2010 10:27:23 pm
Visit Number 101,285
Visitor Path Duration (s)
Referral nancy mcclernan stalker mcclernan stalker 0
(1) 0
He has posted messages to his own blog via that same IP address before - and I took care to take screen shots of that.

But of course my lawyer can subpoena his ISP to get all necessary records.

Luckily my Facebook friends have been very supportive, offering legal advice. Fun fact - I had three FB friends who were also friends of Bellware - before Bellware blocked me after I emailed him via Facebook requesting that he cease libeling me.

Andrew Bellware libels me again

Well it looks like Andrew Bellware actually libeled me again:
Ooh look, I'm being blogged about again. The best part is that originally she blamed one of our actors for stalking her, and now she thinks it's me. The irony is that those who claim to be stalking are frequently those who stalk

He includes a link to my site. I've never claimed anybody was stalking me. This is a lie. And he seems to be implying I've stalked somebody - this is also a lie.

I will expect a retraction and to have these libels removed.

And Bellware, you are being blogged about again because you keep sending me nasty messages via search string text and you will not stop doing it - and you've been doing it since March of this year. And I have plenty of proof that it's you doing it. It's certainly not hard to figure out - you use the same exact IP addresses to send me nasty text-string messages that you use to add posts to your blog. So unless there is somebody else who has permission to post to your blog - this is irrefutable proof that it is you.

You will stop harassing me and you will stop libeling me - or you will be compelled.

Update: I contacted him to tell him to remove the libelous statements - his response was "stop contacting me."

Well I guess that's what lawyers are all about.

I also contacted his pal David Ian Lee, to let him know that if it comes down to it, I will have him testify about the text-string messages. He used to send me text strings too - although from what I can tell he ceased after a month, and his messages, for the most part, were benign "I do like tacos". Also he actually had me on his personal mailing list for awhile, so I could see that the IP address of his emails was a perfect match for the IP address of the web visitor.

David Ian Lee was the original instigator of the text-search strings. He was googling my site for all kinds of weird personal information about me, and I blogged about it, and Andrew Bellware blogged about that and then I started getting all the weird - and in some cases creepy and threatening text-string messages.

the search-string harassment continues

Well Andrew Bellware sent me another nasty text-string message today, this time via IP address which appears to be from, or near, Belleville NJ.

I've decided that from now on every time Bellware harasses me I will have to share yet another review of one of his films.

When I run out of reviews I'll start sharing my harassment stories with HollaBack and other Facebook friends.

And after that - who knows? I'll figure something out.

I do expect it will come to that - he seems to be incapable of restraining himself, and I've been putting up with it since March. Enough is enough. I have all the web statistics I need to get a positive ID on him. But if more evidence is necessary, any up-to-date lawyer will know how to subpoena any server records needed. And at least one of his friends also did this text-string harassment, although he appears to have gotten his fill of it after a month. But he certainly can testify to what Bellware has been up to.

Here's a review of Clonehunter that even I thought was pretty harsh, but then I haven't seen this movie - maybe I would hate it this much too:
My first film review in years...... OMG!
28 October 2010 | by Beegeeay (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I had fond memories of the series of cheap, low-brow 80's-90's movies starring Tim Thomerson as future cop turned bounty hunter Jack Deth. The first film, Trancers from 1985, was genre defining to me as a young film fan, with Blade Runner at the top and Trancers at the bottom of the grime & crime sci-fi genre; reminiscent of the old black & white movie detective or private eye film noirs of the nineteen forties and fifties. Clonehunter's bounty hunter David Cain is no Jack Deth - no tricks, no one-liners, and not tough as old boots. Gumshoe Philip Marlowe would have wrapped this plot up in the first reel.

Upfront I should say that I still don't know WHY I watched this film to the end, unless to confirm my suspicions that Clonehunter was as bad as I believed. Yes, it was. I've seen better directed, scripted and acted B&W B-movies from the 1950's with better more realistic special effects than Clonehunter. The direction was passable, the editing made viewing feel very episodic in nature like a string of webisodes cut together, and the cinematography was a huge disappointment from start to finish.

In fact many of the serial webisodes that have been proliferating on the web in recent years, shot on shoestring budgets have managed to display almost Hollywood quality production values. Values that are sadly lacking in almost every respect, with regards to this film. It could have been filmed in a underground car park or a warehouse set using an old VHS consumer camcorder, edited in a teens bedroom at night under the bedclothes and still produced a better on-screen result. Straight to DVD bargain bin stamped all over it.

The problem with watching short sample files is sometimes the same as watching trailers, they lull you in believing the whole film will be as watchable. Trust me, avoid this film and watch something else. I gave it a 3 score as it was cheesy but not complete trash. I am going to find all the old Trancers movies and remember the good old days of my youth.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

The next review at that site is from someone in the Netherlands, and is even harsher - I will save that one for the next time Bellware is so desperate for my attention that he sends another text string insult.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Logo a-gogo

So I'm trying to decide whether I need a new logo for the full-length JULIA & BUDDY, since I should start thinking about publicity etc.

I do rather like the one I did for the one act version:

But I keep feeling like I could do a little better, or at the very least different since it's a different play now.

The best play logo ever is for the original off-Broadway production of WIT:

But the subject matter helped alot - the poetry of John Donne, with a special emphasis on punctuation, is an important part of the play. But J&B doesn't have any obvious visual symbol or metaphor - it's very much a relationship/character play. The F word turns out to play an important role, but I'm not sure how I'd incorporate that into a logo. Logos are fragile things, you can't overload them. I've considered and (almost immediately) rejected a variety of objects for this logo so far: a bust of Schopenhaeur, a cat, a boat, a door, a drawing from the Kama Sutra and a heart (cliche city!)

I have a little time so there's no huge rush. Maybe something will just come to me. Maybe it's all down to the font - I find My Fonts to be a very well designed site and they sometimes give away fonts.

A front-runner idea is to select a font that's a bit more artsy or eccentric, since both characters are - really they have more in common than not, so although it would be fun to have very contrasting fonts for the two names, it's not really an accurate representation.

Maybe something like this...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

B word C word C word N word D word

Just because I am a lexophile does not mean that I love every word. There are a few words that I would love to see retired for their association with sexism and other forms of idiocy.

Ballsy - or any use of words that equate maleness with courage. And it's no accident that if you don't "have balls" then you are a "pussy." Complimenting a woman for "having balls" is exactly analogous to complimenting a Jew for having good Christian values. There is no other way to look at it other than as the pure triumph of misogyny, but I still get into arguments with people about this. Even with allegedly liberal people. To go along with the analogies of balls/pussy - courageous/cowardly is to either admit you are a flat-out sexist or to admit you're an idiot who can't be bothered to think before you speak.

Cocksman - John Lahr used the word in this very week's New Yorker in his rehabilitative hagiography on Elia Kazan:
A cocksman of note—Kazan introduced Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe, whom they shared for a while—he felt that his sexual adventures were what allowed him, onstage and in film, to redefine the landscape of twentieth-century desire.
No wonder Marilyn Monroe was depressed so much - having sex with her made you a cocksman of note.

If you don't get what is wrong with the word, try to imagine for a moment the female equivalent - pussyswoman? cuntswoman? Of course there is no equivalent because the term encapsulates the double-standard so perfectly. Women do not get points for having lots of sex, even if it's with movie stars - certainly not in Kazan's or Lahr's generation. But Lahr hasn't bothered to reconsider his ingrained attitudes about gender. I blogged about his admiration for manly-man plays ("The Last Manly Man Playwright") especially Adam Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER. His effusiveness shades into hyperventilation when he describes the play in a review:
“You’re an idiot,” he tells her. “You think you know me . . . because I stuck my finger up your ass while I fucked you like the whore you are?” “We made love,” Christina says, insisting on his goodness. The ensuing violent, sexual scene—“ It might be the best and the worst thing they’ve ever felt,” the stage directions read — escalates into a powerful dance of death.

What he means by "dance of death" is - they have a quickie. Nobody dies from this dance of death. Unless by dance of death he means that the prostitute (who has a heart of gold in case you couldn't guess) jumps off the fire escape after the psychopath exits. Either way, it's a ridiculous turn of phrase.

But you can see how much Lahr got off on the whole ludicrous scenario.

The best Lahr prose in the review is saved for the very end, to send it off with a big flourish no doubt - it is gloriously, hysterically portentous:
”(Rapp) brings memorable news about the heart, telling us both how it fools itself and how it kills itself."

The heart kills itself. The powerful dance of death strikes again.

Did I mention how annoying I find John Lahr?

Unlike ballsy, cocksman is not in the dictionary, but you sure can't blame John Lahr for not doing his best to keep classic hard-core patriarchy concepts alive.

But the next word I hate is not only in the dictionary, it's still, incredibly, in common usage.

Coed - originally used to refer to women who were the first wave to integrate formerly male-only Ivy League schools. This happened so long ago that those co-eds are now all qualified for membership in AARP. But so many people still will NOT let it go - and they refer to ALL college women, even contemporary ones, even if they attend colleges that were never single-sex, as "coeds." And most people under 40 have no idea that they mean "female student" unless it's clear in the context.

Just call them "students." Otherwise come up with a special name for black high school students that reflects the fact that high schools were segregated by race fifty years ago. Just kidding - don't do that - just stop using the term "co-ed" to mean women college students. It's ridiculously archaic.

I bet John Lahr uses the term all the time. I can just hear him: "I heard Elia, the cocksman of note, had a powerful dance of death with three co-eds at once in the library stacks last night."

These words are sexist and archaic and just generally annoying.

And you know who would agree with me, if he hadn't been killed 30 years ago? John Lennon:

"Woman is the Nigger of the World" is not the most melodic song of the world, I have to admit but John and Yoko get a million points for sincerity and gutsiness (yes, there is an anatomically-based term that also means courage, but is not sexist) in putting this out in front of the world - it would still be controversial to say this now - just imagine what it was like in 1972. It must have driven the sexist asshole douchebags nuts.

Speaking of douchebags, the exploitation-film director has started up again sending me little nasty messages via search strings.

Here are the stats - he did the search string from Monroe Township this time. It's one of the several IP addresses that he uses.

Domain Name ? (Network)
IP Address ? (Comcast Cable)
ISP Comcast Cable
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : New Jersey
City : Monroe Township
Lat/Long : 40.3305, -74.4179 (Map)
Distance : 45 miles (local visitor)
Language English (U.S.)
Operating System Macintosh WinNT
Browser Safari 1.3
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/534.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/8.0.552.215 Safari/534.10
Javascript version 1.5
Resolution : 1366 x 768
Color Depth : 32 bits
Time of Visit Dec 8 2010 10:06:17 pm
Last Page View Dec 8 2010 10:06:17 pm
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL
Search Engine
Search Words nancy mcclernan heavens murgatroyd stalker
Visit Entry Page
Visit Exit Page

The best part is that he uses the word "stalker" when in fact he's harassing me - he knows I can read these messages and he's sent me dozens. And it's amazing that he hasn't learned to spell "Mergatroyd" correctly since he's typed it so very many times.

Now mind you - I have never had the distinct displeasure of meeting this person. This is all because he didn't like me making a negative comment about Manhattan Theatre Source back in February 2009, although the gigantic hypocrite has said the most incredibly, grant-threateningly nasty things about the people currently running the organization - on his blog - and he even named some of them by name - they must utterly despise him by now.

And then he didn't like the fact that I blogged about his casting call showing up in "Nudity Required, No Pay."

Although I think what really drove him around the bend was that I wrote a parody of his idiotic movie with the multi-tasking ladybot (I referenced it in a recent blog post.) I wonder if he harasses everybody who doesn't like his movies - that would keep him very busy indeed. Here's from the Shitty Sci-Fi Round-up post from
And our last stop on the “crap train” is 2008’s Alien Uprising, directed by Andrew Bellware (who previously gave us … aahhh who cares). This is a horrible, horrible movie. I should've turned this one off after the first 5mins but it was like watching a puppy swallowing lit firecrackers: I knew what the result was gonna be, but I needed to see it happen anyway. I figured in the worst case scenario this would be a "so bad its good" flick. Nope. Wrong. A scratchy soundtrack; ZERO production values; TERRIBLE acting; eye-rolling dialogue; and some of the worst f/x I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something). I’m guessing the “f/x” were done by two 10 year olds. For example; the ship’s AI is a black & white projection on a wall from a 16mm film projector. I’m not kidding people, it’s really that pathetic. And you know you’re dealing with no budget when the “alien” has taken human form. What a cheese ball way to avoid having to make a creature. I guess they ran through their f/x budget on buying that 16mm projector!! This is total garbage and I hated every second of it. Don’t waste your time on this. Definitely skip it.

This is so sad - the only thing his production company has going for it, as far as I can tell, is he knows some very good actors who will work for him for free. A free, valuable resource, and he lets it go to waste. Truly amazing.


Andrew Bellware insists on defaming me by making this claim about me:
Ooh look, I'm being blogged about again. The best part is that originally she blamed one of our actors for stalking her, and now she thinks it's me. The irony is that those who claim to be stalking are frequently those who stalk. But bonus points for link to review. (H/T to Anon. for the heads up!)

He originally mentioned me by name, but thinks that just because he no longer does, but merely links to my blog, it no longer counts as defamation.

Also he has left up the label "crazy people" which refers to a blog that names me by my full name.

According to the Wikipedia entry on United States defamation law:
Defamation per se

All states except Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee recognize that some categories of false statements are so innately harmful that they are considered to be defamatory per se. In the common law tradition, damages for such false statements are presumed and do not have to be proven. "Statements are defamatory per se where they falsely impute to the plaintiff one or more of the following things":[6]

Allegations or imputations "injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession"

Allegations or imputations "of loathsome disease" (historically leprosy and sexually transmitted disease, now also including mental illness)

Allegations or imputations of "unchastity" (usually only in unmarried people and sometimes only in women)

Allegations or imputations of criminal activity (sometimes only crimes of moral turpitude) [7][8]

Now since stalking is a criminal offense, his falsely accusing me of accusing others of stalking and accusing me of stalking, falls under the fourth condition " Allegations or imputations of criminal activity (sometimes only crimes of moral turpitude)"

And since he calls me crazy in the other example, it falls under the second condition "Allegations or imputations "of loathsome disease" (historically leprosy and sexually transmitted disease, now also including mental illness)"

But when my lawyer returns from Labor Day holiday I'm sure I'll learn more.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


I think my blog posts demonstrate that I'm a bit of a lexophile. I recently blogged about my interest in taboo words, especially the F-word - and I own a book by the same name. I also own a book called "Merde" which is all about saying naughty things in French.

So I was very interested to see all the words that were being suggested to Merriam-Webster for dictionary inclusion.

I was amazed to see that somebody proposed "gaslight" because I thought that the meaning being proposed was already in the dictionary. I hope it will make it - I used the word in JULIA & BUDDY:
gaslight (verb) : to drive someone insane by making them doubt their perceptions or memories

Psychologists use the term gaslighting to describe this type of systematic lying — an allusion to an old movie in which a man drives his wife to question her sanity by telling her odd lies and manipulating the level of gaslight in the house so that she keeps seeing lights dim for no reason. —Martha Beck, O Magazine, 2/2/2010

I observed in that recent blog post ("J&B Proceeds") that: "Fuck has become slightly less naughty during my lifetime, but only slightly." But after tonight's NYCPlaywrights meeting I have to wonder if it has become less naughty at all.

At tonight's NYCPlaywrights meeting we had a reading of a pathologically bad play - so bad that I found myself thinking that the playwright should really spend more time on our planet before he attempts to write about human behavior. It was so bad that for once I wasn't the only person in the room pointing out that it was bad during the post-reading feedback session - several other people said exactly what I would have said. So I was able to lay back and chill.

But one of the NYCPlaywrights members, a woman not much older than me, stood up and went on a tirade about the playwright's use of the F-word. Now he did have a character, a suburban woman who was doing some gardening, use the word to unrealistic excess in the given situation, but that was certainly the very very least that was wrong with the play. There were so many more reasons to complain about it. But that's what she focused on.

Now normally I welcome tirades at NYCPlaywrights, since I hate to be the only one tirading (is that a word? better contact Merriam-Webster!) in an evening. But I was truly amazed by how offensive she found the F-word.

You would think that people in the theatre world would be completely unphased by the F-word. I mean, David Mamet is admired for using it frequently, and few actors can avoid playing at least one role in which they must say "fuck."

I've been a little concerned about the fact that I portray Buddy in J&B as having an f-word phobia - I've been afraid that it's unbelievable. Tonight's anti-F-word tirade has put that fear to rest. If a middle-aged life-long New Yorker - and an actor too - can get so offended at the word, then surely it must be a far more common phobia than I realized.

Speaking of interesting words - the Willie the Whaler ads always use sea-faring slang, which is one reason they are so much fun. In this ad from the May 25, 1940 issue of the New Yorker, we see Willie displaying his skills as a whaler:

To translate his nautical lingo:

I've already defined shellback in the prior Willie post.

Up to the hitches - to insert a harpoon into a whale up to the knot on the rope that the harpoon is tied to. I could see that becoming a euphemism for sex too - if it isn't already.

Second mate's nip: A full measure of liquor.
(from the inestimable Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang.)

I'm not at all sorry to see that Willie's a bad whaler - I'd rather he be an old drunk guy than a guy who hurts whales.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Obama to base: "drop dead"

I am nauseated:
President Obama closed in on a deal with Congressional Republicans on Monday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for two years as part of a package that would extend jobless aid for long-term unemployed, cut payroll taxes for all workers for a year and take other steps to bolster the economy, an administration official said.

More at the NYTimes

I would like to point out to my blog readers now - I wanted Hillary to get the nomination.

Monday, December 06, 2010

First Willie

This ad is from the November 25 1939 issue of The New Yorker and this is clearly Willie, although he is not identified as such. But this is technically the first appearance of Willie the Whaler.

Willie glossary:

shellback - someone who has crossed the equator (in a ship presumably)

 aft - towards the rear of the ship

Gloucester Grog - apple cider mulled with spices and beach plums and spiked with bourbon

At least I think so. Literally every reference to "Gloucester Grog" on the Internet is from Willie the Whaler ads in the New Yorker except this one site.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

J&B proceeds

I went to an MITF seminar about producing for that festival. JULIA & BUDDY was performed as a one-act at the MITF last summer and is now a full-length play and I plan to do a production this summer at MITF.

It's about 98% done but I keep tweaking it, sharpening things - the f-word is now much more significant in the play than just the fact that Buddy doesn't like to hear the word. Now it is the symbol for "The Will" itself. Which is actually perfectly valid in Schopenhauerian philosophy - which is a big part of the play, but I only quote ole Arthur very sparingly. Schopenhauer basically does say in his work that people find sex to be naughty because it leads to procreation, which leads to existence, which leads to pain. I have to find that quote.

Julia says it this way:

It’s the Will at work –We are slaves to the Will.


You make The Will sound like some evil cosmic overlord.


Yes, it is exactly like that. That’s the way Schopenhauer describes it – it’s very metaphysical.


And we are controlled literally by some evil cosmic overlord?


Not literally a guy who is an overlord… but it might as well be. Without sentient beings there would be no pain. So the Will makes us want sex so that we will procreate, so that the pain can continue. That’s why talking about sex is so dirty – because deep down, on an unconscious level, people understand the dirty secret - sex causes existence, existence causes pain. That’s why the worst possible word you can say is “fuck."
The rest of that conversation here

I've always been fascinated by the fact that some words are taboo and it's a huge deal to utter them aloud. "Fuck" has become slightly less naughty during my lifetime, but only slightly. I remember when I used to do clinic defense and the anti-abortion protesters would be there screaming and praying, and if you got into a conversation with them, and you said "fuck" the entire conversation would come grinding to a halt because they were so freaked out by hearing it. They were like the Knights Who Say "Ni" except of course substituting the word "fuck" for "it."

My daughter gave me a book called "The F Word" one year for Christmas. It's pretty interesting. Although I notice the word "fucktard" is not in this 1995 edition I have. I wonder if they've added it to the second edition.

After the seminar I popped by the Dramatists Bookshop to finally read RED LIGHT WINTER a play by Adam Rapp that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I wrote about the critical response to the play here.

The plot of this play is so typical of the naughty-man genre (yes, I just coined that term) that is so beloved of critics and practiced most prominently by David Mamet, Neil LaBute and Adam Rapp. One unifying feature of naughty-man plays is misogyny. But nobody ever went broke due to misogyny, especially in the theatre. The women in these plays are either hapless victims - and often prostitutes too - or evil schemers. Mamet is especially big on the evil schemers, especially in OLEANNA and RACE.

The prostitute in RED LIGHT WINTER has a heart of gold (argh!) and becomes involved with a psychopath who doesn't return her feelings. Really there should be a moratorium on straight men writing plays featuring prostitutes because they are always bizarro-world fantasy prostitutes and not real people who have sex for money. I've heard plenty of plays with prostitutes at NYCPlaywrights and the prostitutes almost always have a heart of gold.

One of the most annoying ones was about an elderly woman who buys her husband a prostitute for his birthday. It was called HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASSHOLE except "Asshole" was actually some guy's name but I forgot the name. I could look it up in the NYCPlaywrights archives, but fuck it. In this play (mercifully only a ten-minute play) the prostitute has a heart of gold for the wife - we don't see the husband.

The real problem with the play was that there was no drama to it at all. It was a straight-up business transaction - the wife hires the prostitute for her husband. They chat a little about the wife's life. I don't think the wife has any sex drive if I recall correctly. Then the prostitute has admiration for the wife, for no apparent reason other than because she is hiring a prostitute for her husband. I guess the playwright thought that since the business transaction was about sex that was all the drama needed.

So if I really wanted JULIA AND BUDDY to be a success I should make Buddy a cold-hearted asshole and it turns out that Julia isn't really a philosophy professor but a prostitute with a heart of gold who is abused by Buddy. It would probably help if I also used a male pen name. I've been toying with a few, so far the front-runner is Richard Wood Johnson.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Found another Willie

Well proof that Willie was shilling for the Whaler Bar at least into 1963 - here is an ad from the May 5, 1963 issue of The New Yorker.

At first glance it appears that Willie's untreated alcoholism has finally caught up with him and he's forced to live in a barrel, but on perusing the text it seems that rather he is in hiding - presumably from "The Wanderer"'s owner - and passing the word to his other ne'er-do-well friends that an unguarded load of hooch will be on-hand. The binnacle list is apparently a ship's "sick list" - in this case I'm guessing sick from drinking themselves sick and thanks to Willie they'll be doing it all over again.

How the Whaler Bar managed to stay in business for eighty-five years is certainly no thanks to Willie.

I'd be making better progress in searching for the last New Yorker in which Willie appears if I hadn't been spending so much time doing the New Yorker jigsaw puzzle available online. The puzzle is of a randomly selected New Yorker cover, and it takes me even longer to do a puzzle because it has to be the right cover. Many New Yorker covers are quite beautiful, but many are not, and I only want to do one of the beautiful ones. Also, it can't be too empty or too busy or it takes forever to do it - my average at Level 2 is about 10 minutes. Level 1 is ridiculously easy and Level 3... well let's just say that there is an hour and forty minutes I'll never get back.

I knew this one would be pretty easy - I did it in 9:36. Under the usual 10 minute mark. I should have been even faster but Mr. Fuzz was bugging me to play mousie time with him.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Georg, Arthur, Marvin, Karl & Willie

Well blog fans, the day you've been waiting for! SCHOPENHAUER VS. HEGEL!

I first heard of both Schopenhauer and Hegel in the work of anthropologist Marvin Harris, specifically Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture. You can see my web site about Marvin Harris and Cultural Materialism here.

And because of that I had this impression that I heard of Schopenhauer's antagonism towards Hegel through that book, but on reviewing it, I found that's not the case. He mentions Schopenhauer only once, and in no relation to Hegel.

There's no doubt who Harris would root for, however in a battle between Schopenhauer and Hegel. He quotes Schopenhauer approvingly:
Even in the most permissive societies and the richest in alternative roles, the planned actions - lunch, a lovers' tryst, an evening at the theatre - are never conjured up out of thin air but are drawn from the inventory of recurrent scenes characteristic of that particular culture. The issue of behavioral versus mental determinism is not a matter of whether the mind guides action, but whether the mind determines the selection of the inventory of culturally actionable thoughts. As Schopenhauer said, "We want what we will, but we don't will what we want."
I should figure out a way to get that phrase into the JULIA & BUDDY script.

On the other hand, Harris blames Hegel for ruining Marxist theory through the Hegelian dialectic:
Although Hegel himself did not make any sustained contribution to the analysis of capitalism, the study of Hegel's ideas about dialectics undoubtedly helped Marx develop his specific theory of capitalism. One cannot dispute that fact, nor minimize its historical significance. It does not follow, however, that to build upon Marx's unique contribution to social science, one must accept Marx's evaluation of the importance of Hegel's dialectic. Hegel is not the giant on whose shoulders Marx thought he had to stand but a monkey clinging to Marx's back. That Marx never finally and decisively shook Hegel off into merited oblivion is a measure of the cultural limitation on Marx's genius.

Wow, Schopenhauer couldn't be any more Hegel-hatin' than that. But I will let Schopenhauer speak for himself:
If I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right.

Further, if I were to say that this summus philosophus [...] scribbled nonsense quite unlike any mortal before him, so that whoever could read his most eulogized work, the so-called Phenomenology of the Mind, without feeling as if he were in a madhouse, would qualify as an inmate for Bedlam, I should be no less right

And speaking of great minds - it's another ad featuring Willie the Whaler:

This ad is from the June 23, 1962 issue. That's the latest appearance of Willie that I have discovered so far, but the search continues for the last Willie ad.

Meanwhile - I got my Whaler Bar book of matches from eBay - whoohoo!