Sunday, May 30, 2010

my only blog post about SEX AND THE CITY

Based on this review, SATC seems to really polarize people. Most of the commenters agreed with the hostile review, but a percentage of the commenters were hostile to the reviewer.

I watched about 15 minutes of the show once and that was enough for me - the incessant voice-over was just too annoying. And from everything I'd heard, the show spent an insane amount of time on shoes. I certainly never considered it a feminist show since it was about a bunch of rich shallow fashion-obsessed dummies.

And yet... it is rather suspicious how much hostility is displayed towards the show and the movies. As several of the review commenters pointed out, the silly male fantasies of the James Bond franchise never seemed to inspire this much vitriol from anybody. Some even claim James Bond is cool.

Here's the thing - the feminist pioneers were a smart, fearless group of women, not afraid to speak out, risking hell and hostility to break down barriers.

But not all women are like that. There are plenty of timid, not-too-bright women (and there probably an equal number of men who are the same way) who don't think very hard about anything at all. They like pretty clothes and they like sex - because everybody likes sex.

But here's the thing - traditionally women were not supposed to like sex. Or if they did, they better keep quiet about it. Their job was to be the object of desire, either for a husband or a john. They didn't get to have their own desires - female desires were inconvenient in a world where women were traded between men.

I don't think some of these know-it-all critics of the SATC franchise realize what a big deal it is for lots of women to admit that they like sex and seek it out for pure pleasure. Yeah, feminists broke those barriers down 50 years ago, pushing for jobs and birth control. That got a LOT of press. But it takes decades for the rest of the world to catch up with pioneers.

So this is the first step for the slow women - admitting they like sex. For the dim women, buying a lavish wardrobe is all they require for a sense of empowerment.

So SATC is an easy target. But the most hostile critics of the show almost always tip over into expressions of misogyny, often while claiming to be feminists. Lindy West does it several times, especially in her hostility to the oldest of the four women, Samantha:
What is the lubrication level of Samantha Jones's 52-year-old vagina? Has the change of life dulled its sparkle? Do its aged and withered depths finally chafe from the endless pounding, pounding, pounding—cruel phallic penance demanded by the emotionally barren sexual compulsive from which it hangs? If I do not receive an update on the deep, gray caverns of Jones, I shall surely die!
Now menopause is a serious subject and impacts virtually all women. West whines about how shallow the movie is, yet references to menopause make her spit bile. And what makes her angriest, apparently, is that the movie takes a note of reassurance - Samantha is still having lots of great sex. No doubt this is a comfort to the movie's target audience. And it's certainly no more of a fantasy than so many Hollywood movies in which saggy middle-aged men are paired up with beautiful 20-something women.

West really tips her internalized-misogyny hand here:
This will not stand. Samantha, being the prostitute sexual revolutionary that she is...
If the Samantha character is having lots of great, unapologetic sex at 52, that does in fact make her a sexual revolutionary to many women from more backwards areas of the US or the world. But West suggests she's a "prostitute" (and the strike-out indicates that this is what she really thinks but is just going along with the movie's conceit that Samantha is a sexual revolutionary.) Calling the character a prostitute makes no sense - she does not charge for sex. What West really meant was a slut. Slut-shaming is a favorite hobby of sexists everywhere - usually the same ones who adore James Bond for his tom-catting ways.

That West calls Samantha a prostitute indicates either that West doesn't bother differentiating between a woman who has sex for money and a woman who has sex for pleasure because all women having non-marital sex are the same, or more likely, she wanted to call Samantha a slut, but she dimly realizes that "slut" is out-of-bounds these days - although more for prudery than double-standards sexism.

The review concludes:
At sexism's funeral (which takes place in a mysterious, incense-shrouded chamber of international sisterhood), the women of Abu Dhabi remove their black robes and veils to reveal—this is not a joke—the same hideous, disposable, criminally expensive shreds of cloth and feathers that hang from Carrie et al.'s emaciated goblin shoulders. Muslim women: Under those craaaaaaay-zy robes, they're just as vapid and obsessed with physical beauty and meaningless material concerns as us! Feminism! Fuck yeah!

But as several commenters pointed out, in fact many Muslim women do wear couture under their burkas. Because within the horrible hard-core patriarchal societies in which they are trapped, it's the best they can do.

And there is definitely a connection here - while the Muslim women are literally constrained by their burkas, the fans of SATC are mentally constrained by their own lack of imagination and ambition - to them, any woman who admits to liking sex and who spends lots of money on her wardrobe is a raging hard-core feminist.

So I would have to say that SATC is feminist - it's feminism for stupid people. And that doesn't excuse the subtle or not-so-subtle misogyny from the SATC critics.

UPDATE: just today the NYTimes ran an article about the virtual female slavery of forced marriages in Afghanistan. And this kind of thing happens in plenty of other places all over the world. And for that reason SATC is revolutionary to so many people - women exercising agency over their own sexual desires - neither being forced to sell themselves to a "good provider" in exchange for sexual services, as in traditional Western marriage - or being sold to someone for a life of sexual slavery by your parents when you are a teenager - or younger.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Steampunkpalooza!

The first USB flash drive that is piston-powered with a smoke stack.

the Steampunks Great Exhibiton!

Looks like I just missed the Steampunk World's Fair in Piscataway.

Here's the Steampunk Empire

The movie Time After Time has to be one of the best Steampunk movies ever.

Hardcore Steampunk guy

haiku

Some people inspire sonnets, others inspire haiku.
Your big announcement:
ANOTHER PLAY ON THE WAY!!!
Thrilled I mentioned you.
Pantsless on the Net
The biggest douchebag ever.
Even DIL looks skeeved.
No visits Newmark?
Hard times for part-time actors.
You do love tacos.


Notes: the plural of haiku is haiku

how the Japanese pronounce haiku

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wow, I am now fashionable



Well eventually everything is in style, or back in style. And now, according to the NYTimes, I am:
“There is definitely a movement to a very lengthy look, especially among the young,” said Nevena Borissova, a partner in Curve, a progressive retailer with stores in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Ms. Borissova favors radically stretched-out skirts and dresses that “drag on the floor, with raw edges, and worn with combat boots,” she said.
Bonus - the article begins with a reference to the Jane Eyre prequel "Wide Sargasso Sea."

I've been wearing this look for the past five years or so, and the first time I saw it was back in art school, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where big boots and long skirts were all the rage.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How do you write a good 10-minute play?

Ten-minute plays are popular these days for basic economic reasons: they are relatively cheap to produce and if you do an evening of 10-minute plays you can count on a decent attendance because most writers will invite friends and family.

But that doesn't mean a ten-minute play can't be a great work of art. I will admit I've sat through 10-minute plays that felt like an hour. But why were they bad? What went wrong? Or more importantly, for the plays that do work - what went right?

Here is a guideline I first created for a show of 10-minute plays I produced in 2008 called 10 Min Playfest

* Does the play pull me in right away?
There are only 10 minutes - the play has to pull you in right from the start.

* Does the play surprise me?
If the play is about something I've heard a hundred times already, I'll be bored. Or if it unfolds in predictable ways, I will be bored.

* Does the play make me laugh or well up? Or both?
Art must have an emotional impact.

* Does the play have a dramatic struggle?
People sitting around bickering is not a dramatic struggle. So many people don't seem to understand that.

* Does the play have vivid characters in compelling situations?
People sitting around bickering is not a compelling situation. Especially if the characters are called "man" and "woman." If the playwright can't be bothered to come up with a name for a character, it's usually a sign that the character is as generic as the label. This is especially true of a 10-minute play where you really don't have time for generic supporting characters.

* Does the play show more than tell? "Show, don't tell" has been said a million times and yet maybe about 20% of all the people who write plays - including lionized, famous playwrights - seem to get this.

* Does the play blow my mind through sheer funky originality?
This is the Holy Grail of ten-minute plays. I've seen only a handful of ten-minute plays that have blown my mind.

Here are three 10-minute plays that I believe work very well:

* ALMOST WATERSHEDS by Micharne Cloughley
* LOVERBOY by Michael Jalbert
* SINGERS by Thom Weidlich

more...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all

Wow, interesting...
The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.

more...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lascivious yammering

I recently saw the first half of Sheila Callaghan’s play LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING. Luckily it was a comp - I was so bored by intermission I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting through any more of it, so I left. Why was I so bored? Because there was so much yakking about what the characters (or other people) did some other time, somewhere else. Those sounded like interesting times, I would have liked to have seen those times and places enacted. Instead what I saw on stage was a bunch of people mostly sitting around in a kitchen telling tales.

I was told by somebody who sat through the entire thing that I missed the best part – when Boy (actually a girl) plays a young August (the man in the play – an actual man), writing and editing aloud for the audience, his last letter to his mother.

Oh joy, watching somebody write AND edit a letter on stage. And this was a highlight. I guess the author wanted to mix things up a little - instead of yet another long-winded remembrance of things past - "did I ever tell you about the last letter I wrote to my mother?" - she has somebody else play somebody writing a letter - in the past - to a character not actually in the play. Ooh how cleverly distancing. As if the play needed any more distancing.

I’m not saying that an intrinsically undramatic scenario can never be made to work – I am a fan of the film “My Dinner with Andre” - but it’s pretty rare. Maybe if one of your characters is as personally fascinating as Andre Gregory – but none of the characters in LASCIVIOUS SOMETHING was that. They were mostly irritatingly inscrutable.

The NYTimes review says:
Ms. Callaghan spends an inordinate amount of time having Liza and August dance around each other and around August's pregnant young wife, Daphne, a willowy Greek beauty played with cool charisma by Elisabeth Waterston. Throwing in the married couple's psychosexual games with an androgynous teenager (Ronete Levenson) does little to clarify the relationship dynamics.
But if Callaghan didn't have the (utterly enervating) psychosexual games going on, then even the clueless people who like this play might realize how talky-talky and dull it actually is.

I was pretty disappointed in Callaghan - after the reviews I read about Callaghan's THAT PRETTY PRETTY I was very interested in her possibly pushing back against the angry young man play trope that has taken over NY theater. Well... maybe her next play. After all, if critics can give Adam Rapp many many chances (as I wrote about) why shouldn't Callaghan get them too?

Speaking of "My Dinner with Andre" it turns out the entire movie is available on YouTube.

Here is part one:

Monday, May 24, 2010

grown-up Pippi?



Very interesting piece in the NYTimes:
An old colleague of Mr. Larsson’s has said they once talked about how certain characters from children’s books would manage and behave if they were older. Mr. Larsson especially liked the idea of a grown-up Pippi, a dysfunctional girl, probably with attention deficit disorder, who would have had a hard time finding a place in society but would nonetheless take a firm hand in directing her own destiny. That musing led to the creation of Lisbeth Salander, the central character in Mr. Larsson’s trilogy.
I relate to this because one of the three plays I'm currently working on, CELIA, has a character that is my idea of what Tom Sawyer might be like when he grew up - and fell in love with his uncle's slave.

I always loved Pippi Longstocking - she was a fun super hero for girls long before the Power Puff Girls.

You gotta love the PPG theme song:



Fighting crime, trying to save the world, here they come just in time, the Power Puff Girls.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie

Well it turns out that today is Mousiepalooza - an actual mouse got into my apartment and both cats were ecstatic. Neither of them has seen a mouse in at least 5 years.

I'm very happy it's gone since I did not look forward to the prospect of cleaning up mousie guts. Although they seemed to look at it as a toy rather than food. Mr. Fuzz kept catching it and carrying it around like a kitten, and then letting it go so they could chase it some more. Willow might have seen a mouse in her youth since she was semi-feral. Mr. Fuzz has never seen one I bet - the closest he's ever gotten to a mouse are the real-fur mousie toys that he always wants to play with.

This real mouse event might well be the happiest day of Mr. Fuzz's life. The most real prey he's gotten in the past is the occasional fly.

But nothing gold can stay, as I told Mr. Fuzz - I finally had to trap the mousie and let it go outside - I didn't have the heart to watch the cats kill it or even (gasp) kill it myself. I blame Robert Burns:
Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!


And that cranreuch cauld is a bitch!

Burns was quite a babe, and a ladies man - they were all about Burns at the Edinburgh Writers Museum which I visited a few years ago. You can see a plaque on Google maps right near the museum (between the Cashmere Factory Outlet and Heritage of Scotland on Haymarket St.) which reads:

In a House
on the East side of this Close
ROBERT BURNS
lived during his first visit
to Edinburgh 1780

Here is the cutie Robbie Burns



They were also big on Robert Louis Stevenson at the Writers Museum - here he is:



I know an actor who could totally play Stevenson if they made a movie about him. Pretty uncanny.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

the pointlessness of Cringefest

Does anybody besides me find the concept of Cringefest utterly unnecessary? It bills itself as a festival of Bad Plays, Bad Musicals and Bad Films.

It is totally unnecessary because not only do bad plays get rave reviews all the time - they actually win awards! A play I saw a year or so ago, about zombies and women having hot flashes was a mess. So of course it won an IT Award.

Off-off Broadway is the worst for this kind of thing, but even Broadway is not immune - the 2003 Pulitzer went to ANNA IN THE TROPICS, a completely mediocre work.

No, with all the sincere garbage out there, I see no point at all in ironic garbage.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Steampunk and steamboats

One of the best aspects of Steampunk in my opinion, is that it encourages men to dress up in adorable quasi-Victorian clothing. I've been looking for an image to give to the costume designer for the production of my play CELIA - and I'm thinking waaaay in advance since I haven't finished writing the play yet but I don't care cause it's fun - as a model for the clothing style for the handsome young gentleman, Tom, in my play. I couldn't find anything very good until I stumbled on this excellent Steampunk Fashion site and found a whole page of men's fashions. And this is just about the perfect look for Tom:



Mmm. come to mama!

I see that Gentleman's Emporium, a web site I blogged about a couple of years ago, has branched out into Steampunk fashions.

Sam Clemens looks rather dapper in this photo taken around the same time that CELIA is set.


But his brother Henry was the real cutie of the family:



Poor Henry died from a steamboat explosion. Sam Clemens made the news, long before he was famous, in a description of his grief:
We witnessed one of the most affecting scenes at the Exchange yesterday that has ever been seen. The brother of Mr. Henry Clemens, second clerk of the Pennsylvania... arrived in the city yesterday afternoon, on the steamer A. T. Lacy. He hurried to the Exchange to see his brother, and on approaching the bedside of the wounded man, his feelings so much overcame him, at the scalded and emaciated form before him, that he sunk to the floor overpowered. There was scarcely a dry eye in the house; the poor sufferers shed tears at the sight. This brother had been pilot on the Pennsylvania, but fortunately for him, had remained in New Orleans when the boat started up.

Clemens wrote to his sister-in-law:
Long before this reaches you, my poor Henry, - my darling, my pride, my glory, my all, will have finished his blameless career, and the light of my life will have gone out in utter darkness. O, God! this is hard to bear...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MoDo rides again

I used to have much more to say about NYTimes op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd - part of my focus was on the fact that she was the only women op-ed columinst for the NYTimes out of 9 - but they got Gail Collins. And 2 women out of 9 is what passes for gender parity in a world still run by men.

So I slacked off the MoDo beat but could not help but notice her annoying ways today, when I saw her proclaim in her column:
Men, generally more favored by nature as they age, can be single at all ages.
Now you can understand why the old men who run things would favor the "it's nature" argument about the way our society runs, but you'd think MoDo would be less eager to promote such a view. But then again, I've always maintained that she got and keeps her job by sucking up to the old men who run the NYTimes, so it's not surprising that she would support their views.

That men are favored "by nature" as they age is such an obvious lie - unless you consider baldness to be a sign of nature's favor.

Viagra was not invented by "nature."

The fact that there was a double standard that said men could get with much younger women, but women could not get with much younger men is not the result of "nature" - it's the result of men running things to suit themselves. Only in the past 50 years have women even begun to get and keep their own money (and that's only in some parts of the world - in other parts of the world little girls are still sold in marriage to old men.)

Prior to the 1960s most women could not get work that paid well enough to support themselves, much less a husband too. Until the law changed the custom in which jobs were segregated by gender women had extremely limited career options. Limited career options was not the work of "nature."

The fact that women are increasingly LESS dependent on men and as a result of legal changes, and are choosing younger men more and more is not the result of an amazing 50-year evolutionary phenomenon - it's the economy, stupid!

MoDo is obsessed with women having it all - she thinks women can't have it all by "nature" which is why she always found Hillary Clinton to be so galling - Hillary was married to the POTUS - and IMO a pretty damn sexy guy - and yet still had a career as a lawyer - and now she's Secretary of State. This goes completely against MoDo's incredibly blinkered regressive unimaginative concept of how the world should be - or rather how things are in "nature."

But MoDo's new Kagan obsession proves that in MoDo's world, no woman can win. If you are like Hillary, she hates and envies you - if you are single like Kagan she has an op-ed pity party for your spinsterhood.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aphrodisiac

Although Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" is their greatest song (and one of my favorite songs of all time) "Aphrodisiac" is great too. And it's so nice to see those styling punked out guys after spending a day with the financial services blueshirts.

Why do they dress so drab and conformist-like, those financial services men? My theory - they think if they look too stylish or interesting it will scare the money away.



But check it out - all these years I thought "I Want Candy" was a Bow Wow Wow original - but no, it was recorded by The Strangeloves in 1965. Watch them perform it - groovy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

putting aside for a moment the question of why a woman would choose to go to a strip club for her birthday...

Although the experience seems to have been so wrenching I doubt she'll do it again:
I told my boyfriend I wanted him to buy me a lap dance, and he obliged. I “picked” my candidate, although I don’t remember deliberating very much. She was young, young, young, couldn’t have been more than 19 or 20. And she was sweet, or she acted it. The lap dance was bizarre–I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know why I thought I would. It seemed so strange to be just sitting there, doing nothing, while this person rubbed her body all over me. This young woman was gorgeous. She had long straight hair. Her makeup was perfectly applied. She was thin and looked like she worked out a lot. Her skin was incredibly soft. She smelled amazing. She made jokes and was complimentary to me.

When she was done, I asked her how much I owed. She smiled sweetly and said “Oh, it’s 10 dollars.”

I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

Later, as I cried my eyes out on the couch in my apartment and my boyfriend soothed me, I tried to make sense of it. Here was this incredibly beautiful woman, who did everything, everything that a woman was supposed to do to make herself appealing to men. She was thin, she was compliant, she was beautiful, she spent probably hours every day shaving and lotioning and applying makeup and picking out clothes and pouring what was surely substantial cashflow into maintaining her appearance. She was, in a word, perfect. And then, this perfect woman would go to work, and rub her impeccably maintained and beautiful body all over any patron, at his or her request, no matter whether she liked the person or not, for TEN FUCKING DOLLARS? I mean, TEN DOLLARS? Less than I would spend on a pair of shoes. Less than I would spend on a motherfucking hamburger.

I was able to buy access to this woman’s body and (very convincing) pretend affections for less than I would spend picking up a couple of last-minute things at the grocery store. It was worth almost nothing. Less than an oil change. Less than someone cutting my hair. Less than getting a decent tailor to hem a pair of pants. Less than a bouquet of roses.

And that’s the day that I realized we were all the victims of a sick joke. A despicable charade where so much is demanded of women, so much compliance and poking and prodding, so much effort to make ourselves beautiful and radiant and perfect, so much forcing of square pegs into round holes, just so we could meet it all, do it all, get close to the apex of perfection and still be worth nothing.

And she doesn't even know about the women actors out there who get naked for the gratification of creepy misogynist middle-aged douchebag filmmakers for abso-fucking-lutely free. She'd cry a goddam river over that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

oh these classy young men

25-year-old guy on dating site emails me. I check his profile - cute and great shape. So what's the catch? Then I see his email:
u seem like a nice milf lol

Ah. That's the catch. A moron. What else is new?

From Belle to Outlaw

My Hero, the Outlaw of Amherst
Growing up in New England, I’d known about her life, or the romantic version of it — how she was a recluse, how she dressed in white — for years. And I’d read many of her nearly 1,800 poems. I was a bookish, verse-writing odd-fit kid with authority issues, looking for a hero. By a hero I mean someone you admire but, more than that, identify with and somehow want to be. In Dickinson I found what I was after. So it was a big experience for me to go to that house that day, and be where she had been.

As I’ve since learned, she’s a hero, or an object of fascination, to many people, which is why she periodically takes a star turn in culture, as she is doing now. She’s the subject of two books, a novel titled “The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson,” by Jerome Charyn, and a new biography by Lyndall Gordon, called “Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds,” due out next month. And through June 13 the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has an elaborate exhibition devoted to her, with a re-creation of her Homestead garden, a selection of handwritten manuscripts and a marathon reading of her poems.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Google Maps tourism - Haworth

It's fun sometimes to tour around various places in the world via Google Maps, especially if you can't afford to actually travel anywhere. I decided to have a look at Haworth, where the Bronte sisters were from.

Although the Bronte Parsonage Museum is on the map, the Google photo truck did not go down Church Lane past the museum, so the best you can do is peek down Church Lane from the corner of Church and West.



That electric blue shape in the front of the photo is the cab of a truck. Modern cars look so out of place in these tiny quaint English towns. Here is The Black Bull, where Bramwell Bronte used to get his drink on.



There isn't huge amounts of Bronte references in the neighborhood, but there are a few, like Ye Olde Bronte Tea Room:



The Villette Coffee House



And - I'm not sure what they sell here, Eyres 'N' Graces.

Friday, May 14, 2010

MOTHER'S DAY - the finished video



This is good - I'm on track to finish one a month - the last one will be done in July.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

amoureuse



98th sonnet

You were great! beep beep beep!



The fun of making movies at random locations in the city is you never know what's going to happen - I don't mean an actor using naughty language - that's guaranteed to happen - I'm talking about the random praise from strangers.

I'm doing another monologue for the NYCPlaywrights Monologue Project - this time it's Chris Shaw Swanson's MOTHER'S DAY starring Claire Warden, fresh off her triumphant ENGAGING SHAW run.

The New Dramatists doorway sure looks like it's a church.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

J & B - the next level


Photo: GB and Charlotte (not Julia and Buddy)

Wow, I had a great reading of my new play JULIA AND BUDDY tonight - I think it's just about ready to roll out - probably in the Midtown International Theater Fest.

Daniel Genalo, who did great work this weekend in my NEW RULES was Buddy and he had great chemistry with NYCPlaywrights member Claire Warden as Julia. Claire is brilliant, as the NYTimes agrees. And also her British dialect is a huge plus - Received Pronunciation is her native mode and to American ears it makes her sound smart without having to belabor the intelligence issue.

During the feedback I was told that this version of the play - which I began a year ago - is MUCH better than previous versions, and I think I know why - I tried to shove heaping helpings of Schopenhauer down the audience's throat in other versions. But it's so obviously unnecessary with Claire - with her plummy mode of speaking, she sounds smart reading from the phone book.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BRONTESAURUS!!!!



Bronte action figures - oh my god this is SO AWESOME!!!

Boomerang book-throwing action!

I sure do want some of that "barrier-breaking feminist vision" power for myself.

More at Salon.

flowers



Sometimes you just want to look at pretty flowers.

Other times you want to learn flower facts

Then sometimes you want flower power.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Rules cast



Such a photogenic group - and they worked their asses off to get the tricky stunts and pratfalls in NEW RULES right - kudos!

The cast: Daniel Genalo, Amanda Thickpenny, Doug Rossi and Mike Durell (kneeling)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pulitzer Prize for Drama 1918

The first Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded in 1918 to Jesse Lynch Williams for his play WHY MARRY? which can be read online here, although you are better off just reading the synopsis here because the plot description alone makes it clear that this is a total rip-off of the work of G. B. Shaw - at least all his plays about marriage and the "New Woman."

This explains why the play is never performed anymore - why do a Shaw-wannabe when you can do the real thing? I guess since Shaw wasn't eligible for the Pulitzer, not being American, they gave it to Williams in his stead.

I googled to see if critics of the time realized the total debt Williams owed to Shaw - I only found one review snippet so far, but Lawrence Gilman definitely got it:
We wish that Mr. Jesse Lynch Williams had not seen fit to disillusion us about Bernard Shaw when introducing to New York, with a journalistic preamble, his comedy Why Marry? One can understand Mr. Williams' anxiety to make quite clear and unmistakable to us the difference between his own outlook as a dramatist and the outlook of Mr. Shaw...

Yeah, Gilman was wise to the situation. Although it's funny to read him describe Shaw as being in his autumnal years, when Shaw, by dying at age 94 in 1950 outlived by decades Williams, who died in 1929 at age 58, and Gilman who died at 61 in 1939.

Best Shaw impersonation ever from Monty Python's "Oscar Wilde" sketch - also known as the "your majesty is like a stream of bat's piss" sketch. Terry Jones plays the Prince of Wales, John Cleese is James MacNeill Whistler, Graham Chapman is Oscar Wilde and Michael Palin is Shaw. Watching this sketch as a teenager was my first introduction to all four personages. So I always think of Shaw as blowing raspberries.



Shaw was a TOTAL ham. His comments about Mussolini are rather, ah... interesting.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ex-gay Christopher Hitchens

The misogynist semi-rightwinger Christopher Hitchens, in his forthcoming autobiography, explains why same-sex incidents are all but inevitable in an all-boys boarding school - unless you just aren't attractive enough to find a partner.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

a novel - interesting idea but I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I do rather like the cover though...



and now for more of why a nobody from Amherst MA still inspires such interest...
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee


some interesting thoughts about "Wild nights!"

Monday, May 03, 2010

Director Cary Fukunaga on the 'Darker Sides' of His Upcoming Jane Eyre




Is he daunted by remaking one of his favorite films? Not quite, Fukunaga said. "The Orson Welles-Joan Fontaine version was of an era. You wouldn't make a film like that anymore. I'm a stickler for raw authenticity, so I've spent a lot of time rereading the book and trying to feel out what Charlotte Bronte was feeling when she was writing it. That sort of spookiness that plagues the entire story... there's been something like 24 adaptations, and it's very rare that you see those sorts of darker sides. They treat it like it's just a period romance, and I think it's much more than that."


more JANE EYRE news here

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Emily D at the NY Botanical Garden

Emily Dickinson's Garden

I missed the advanced announcement for this show - it looks like the poetry marathon is currently underway. And damn, they are doing THE BELLE OF AMHERST this weekend and me with back to back rehearsals.

At least I'll make the final weekend:
Death, Bees, and Roses

June 12, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Perennial Garden

Participate in a thematic reading of Emily Dickinson’s poems. Select some of your favorite Dickinson poems relating to death, bees, or roses and join in celebrating the life and works of this great American poet.

Well THAT should be a pretty easy task - find a Dickinson poem relating to BEES - as I've observed several times on this blog, the woman was an apimaniac!


more about the show

Co-presented with The Poetry Society of America

Friday, April 30–Sunday, June 13, 2010
Discover the gardener who became the poet.

Experience the life and works of one of America’s most treasured poets as never before.

* Her Garden: Tour her Victorian Homestead re-created in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with tulips, lilacs, lilies, and more.

* Her Poetry: Stroll along garden paths and read some of Dickinson’s most famous works near the flowers that inspired them.

* Her Life: Be immersed in an interactive perspective through photographs, watercolors and books in a Gallery exhibition.

Special Celebrations

Enjoy poetry readings, live theater, gardening demonstrations, and more.

Kickoff weekend: April 30–May 2
Mother's Day weekend: May 8–9
Ballet and Poetry Weekend: May 15–16
My Emily Dickinson Poetry Series: May 11, 22; June 5, 12
Final weekend: June 12–13



THE murmur of a bee
A witchcraft yieldeth me.
If any ask me why,
'Twere easier to die
Than tell.

The red upon the hill
Taketh away my will;
If anybody sneer,
Take care, for God is here,
That's all.

The breaking of the day
Addeth to my degree;
If any ask me how,
Artist, who drew me so,
Must tell!