Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jon Stewart's Lincoln Tunnel speech

One of the greatest speeches ever. This week marks the virtual apotheosis of Jon Stewart - he did one of the best interviews ever with Obama, and then this event and this speech.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

You are not alone

I loved the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. One of the many highlights was the performance by Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy of Tweedy's great song "You Are Not Alone." Here is a great home-video version of the song with Mavis and Jeff:

I'm happy to see that C-Span is offering a recording the entire rally online here. Especially because I missed the fear montage and R2D2 while traveling to the midtown phone bank.

Jon Stewart sure loves that Lincoln Tunnel entrance analogy - this is like at least the third time he's used it. Great line too: "we live in hard times, not end times."

Also great part of Jon Stewart's "sincerity" speech:
Unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country's 24-hour politico pundit panic conflict-onator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult -- not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.
The entire speech can be read at Rolling Stone

I loved stuff leading up to the Rally too - like this bit when Stephen asks Jon if he has an "anaerobic announcement." This is why Stephen Colbert is so unique - nobody else would ever say such a wacky but awesome thing:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily/Colbert - Anaerobic Announcement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
I ended up not drunk-dialing Republicans after all, but rather calling Democrats in upstate New York to tell them to vote for Bill Owens for Congress. And I had but the teensiest cabernet sauvignon buzz on.

Next up this weekend: VIP box at the Village Halloween parade - I will post the video online this week.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

my favorite pictcher ever

I found this while reorganizing. I guess my daughter was about 5 when she drew and titled this.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Drunk-dialing Republicans this weekend

So I am finally going to get off my lazy ass and contribute to saving America from the teabagging freaks. I already missed the voter registration cut-off date, so the least I could do is make some calls. Move On is doing a Drink & Call event this Saturday in midtown Manhattan (among other places) and I'm going to go and make some calls and drink.

The first Republican on my drunk-dialing list will be Virginia Thomas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I love the song Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. And I'm fascinated by its becoming a marching band standard - especially for the USC Trojan marching band, which makes sense since they participated in the original recording of the song. Although it's freaky to think that the kids performing the song now were not even born when the original Tusk was recorded.

There are a bunch of Tusk videos online, and this one I think is particularly compelling, because it's right in the middle of everything. I don't think the herky-jerky look was intentional, just bad recording and/or editing, but I think it actually gives it a kind of neat style, almost like a strobe light in broad daylight - it makes the cheerleaders' movements a little surreal.

Turns out the real lyrics to the song are "UCLA sucks."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One ring to rule them all

The web site TV Tropes is a complete time sink because it's so full of interesting stuff. The entire section on Sturgeon Tropes gives anybody involved in the creation of fiction plenty to think about.

The term Fridge Logic is especially useful. It is defined like so:
Fridge Logic has been the writer's-room term for these little Internal Consistency issues for a good while, as in "Don't sweat the fridge logic, we've got bigger fish to fry. We've only got 20 minutes left to work in three costume changes, a foreign language, and a weird wig."

The phrase was technically coined by Alfred Hitchcock himself. When asked about the scene in Vertigo when Madeleine mysteriously, and impossibly, disappears from the hotel that Scottie saw her in, he responded by calling it an "icebox" scene, that is, a scene that "hits you after you've gone home and start pulling cold chicken out of the icebox."

This got me to thinking about my ex-boyfriend Jonathan's alternative strategy for dealing with the One Ring - from the Lord of the Rings - which could be described as a kind of Fridge Logic. To my knowledge nobody has ever come up with this idea - so of course I had to spend an hour reviewing the main entry for Lord of the Rings at TVTropes to analyze its plausibility.

The way the One Ring works is by controlling a bunch of other rings. Or as the poem says:
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
So Jonathan's idea was that if you destroyed all the other rings, the One Ring would be pretty useless.

You could argue though that destroying all the other rings would be every bit as much of a pain in the ass, if not more, than throwing the One Ring into Mt. Doom. The Three Rings would be easy enough to eliminate, since they belonged to Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel. I'm not sure where the seven dwarf rings were - so it might be easy to get them. But the nine human rings belonged to the Ringwraiths, and it's not clear where they kept them. I think they wore them, but when you set a Ringwraith on fire, they don't seem to leave any rings behind.

Also this Rings of Power wiki says:
The Rings of Power were highly resistant to damage or destruction. Speaking with Frodo, Gandalf says that common fire, even in the Dwarves' furnaces, cannot harm it; though dragon-fire could melt a Ring of Power, dragons were no longer as hot as in the Second Age, and not even the mighty Ancalagon could have damaged the One Ring.
So you'd have to throw the Rings of Power into a dragon, which doesn't seem much easier than throwing the One Ring into Mount Doom.

But still - it's always good to look at all the options.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Three Things to Do When Clarence Thomas’s Wife Calls You by Andy Borowitz

#3 Get in the habit of answering your phone, “Long Dong Silver residence.”

read # 1 and #2 at the New Yorker

sweet lion video

This video makes me tear up every time, it's so sweet.

Animals may not reason like we do - but they feel emotions like we do.

Monday, October 25, 2010

He is the very model of a modern US president

Guy's Guide to Online Dating

Yo bro. You want to get a date with a girl through this online service? Here's what the long-term users of our site do to attract the chicks!

Post an ugly picture.

You want her to see the real you, not some flattering image of a pretty boy - you don't want a shallow woman. Take the photo in the bathroom mirror if at all possible.

Your profile: share your sexual skills

If you mention you're a "cunning linguist" (heh heh heh) she's sure to want you.

Your profile: Be mysterious or eccentric

There's two ways to go here - either give nothing away in your profile, or the opposite - share every opinion, preference and interest you have. Whatever you do, don't establish that you are a pleasant, safe and sane person. Girls like guys who come off as scary or odd.

Don't read her profile

Who cares about her interests, or if you have anything in common? If you like her pictures go ahead and email her.

Only contact the youngest and hottest women

Because no matter how old or out of shape you are, you expect and deserve a 20-year-old Victoria's Secret underwear super model.

Tell her what you think of her appearance

When you first email a girl, start by telling her what you think of her looks. It's just like when you see a pretty lady on the street and you cat-call her as she walks by - girls LOVE it when strangers pass judgment on their appearance!

Don't actually have a conversation

Once she responds in a non-hostile way to your email, make sure to avoid having a real conversation. If she asks you something about yourself, respond if you must, but never reciprocate. Nothing kills a conversation like give-and-take, and you both know why you are really here - to get laid. You certainly don't want to waste time blabbing about who-cares-what. The goal is to get into her panties - never forget that, and never let HER forget that.

It's not you, it's her

OK, so in spite of following these wonderful tips, she still doesn't want to go out with you. You know why - because you're a NICE GUY and women only want assholes who will beat them and cheat on them. If she doesn't want you, it's not your fault. You don't need to change, all the women of the world need to change!

So start emailing the girls - do you know how much hookers charge for "girlfriend service" these days?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

brainiac amour

I realized that what I want from JULIA & BUDDY is for the audience to have a brainiac amour.

I've mentioned here before that I think the goal of a theatre piece is to give the audience an emotional orgasm - as opposed to keeping everything at a cold intellectual level, or distancing through pure irony. I've never bought into Bertolt Brecht's alienation effect and I don't think he actually practiced it much himself in his dramatic work.

Anywho, just because I put an emphasis on an emotional affect it doesn't mean intellect is not a good thing too - emotion vs. intellect is a false dichotomy.

I'm inspired to a certain extent by the marathon telephone conversations I used to have with my boyfriend John - one lasted 10 hours. We would talk about anything and everything and sometimes get into arguments too, but debates really, not just bickering. That's what I missed most about that relationship - I've never come close to duplicating, with anybody else, the endless absorbing conversations we used to have.

Since JULIA & BUDDY is only about 90 minutes long, obviously they can't just be standing around gabbing the whole time. But I hope I've captured at least a little of the brainiac amour - a term I got from Patti Smith. There's no reason why the intellectual can't also have an emotional component.

I finally got a workable rough beginning of my variation on Clara Schumann's Romance in Eb minor Opus 11- 1. I transposed it to D minor for starters, since I'm too lazy to spend the effort to play something in almost all black keys, which is what Eb minor is - D minor is all white keys except for B-flat. I will probably throw a few E-flat accidentals in there too though. So this piece - or a more refined, worked out version if this piece - is what will be playing when Julia is listening to her iPod at one point in the play.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Found it

I mentioned yesterday that a Manhattan Theater Source regular had a rather negative opinion of Edward Einhorn - I found the thread - he says:
But to try to kidnap the play away from future productions, seems more of an ego driven self delusional rampage than solid base for a case.

I'm sure he is very creative, i mean, just the way he twisted words, in what amounted to a case of extortion and almost managed to get away with it, shows sign of creativity.

But Jesus H. Christ, the man should never be allowed near a play again.

However, having grown up in Newark, New Jersey... this would have been a case that would I have been dealt with on the street... with a spiked baseball bat.

So it wasn't a bat - it was a spiked baseball bat.

This thread is four years old but it still pisses me off to see Edward Einhorn grandly declare that the case is no longer of interest. The case in which he sued me for producing my own play - and the lawsuit was based on him getting an unauthorized - and therefore legally invalid - copyright registration on his derivative "blocking and choreography" (sic) script.

Unlike Einhorn, I don't come from a wealthy background - I was a single mother on welfare at one point - and working as a technical writer is not the way to riches, so I can't afford to sue him to force him - and the US Copyright Office - to eradicate his illegal copyright registration from the Copyright Office's databases entirely.

Now technically that copyright registration does Einhorn no good whatsoever - he can't do anything with it. The best thing about the case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions is that we got a federal court judge to say that a "directors copyright" could only be valid if the registered work indicated precisely how the actors are moving - as in the case of choreography. What Einhorn tried to copyright was "entered stage right" and stuff to that effect. And no directors block so tightly that their blocking could meet the standards that Judge Kaplan set. So thanks to our case, there will probably never be a director's copyright.

Of course the crux of the issue is the fact that the US Copyright Office does not ask for proof of authorization for derivative works. So really, any asshole like Edward Einhorn, with plenty of money and a lawyer brother, could pull a stunt like he did and register a derivative copyright on ANYBODY's original work. The only reason we were able to fight Einhorn was that my ex-partner Jonathan goes absolutely ballistic if he feels that anybody is disrespecting him, and just during the time Einhorn sued us Jonathan was beginning to climb the corporate ladder due to his genius at database design - so we were in a very rare position of having the will and the means to fight Einhorn.

But Jonathan and I split up very shortly after the trial - and unfortunately I am not a genius of database design and so can't afford to continue to fight Einhorn through the legal system. But even so - this is not over. It will never be over until Einhorn's ill-gotten copyright registration is gone.

I offered advice to playwrights on that thread which I think still stands:


Because Edward Einhorn registered his unauthorized derivative copyright on TAM LIN before I registered my copyright, I have fewer options for statutory damages and attorney’s fees, which makes it less appealing to sue Einhorn on the basis that his unauthorized derivative copyright infringes my copyright.

It costs $45 for each registration filing. And what if you make substantial changes to the work? I learn something new about my play every time it is performed, and I make changes to my work based on those lessons. So at what point do I file a new copyright on the revised work? I was unable to find any general guidelines for copyright revisions on the Copyright Office’s web site, but I did find a discussion of web site content: “Generally, copyrightable revisions to online works that are published on separate days must each be registered individually, with a separate application and filing fee”

So if the Copyright Office expects a separate filing for every day on which something new is published online, it’s a safe bet they’ll want a separate filing for an updated play. This can get expensive. But it’s worth it, especially if the play is going to be produced and anybody but you is involved in creative decisions concerning the play.

Here is the US Copyright Office’s web site.


This probably seems silly, because you will rarely meet somebody who has the chutzpah to register an unauthorized derivative copyright on your work, and then use it as the basis of a lawsuit against you. But I’m living proof that it can happen. People who don’t have to pay huge court costs are less likely to think carefully before suing somebody on a frivolous or improper basis - in the words of Judge Kaplan “making a mountain out of a molehill.”


Of course I did not authorize Edward Einhorn to create or register a derivative script based on TAM LIN – I had no idea he had done so until he sued me a year after he registered the copyright. And Judge Kaplan ruled that nobody requested that such a script be prepared, and that the script was not prepared until after Einhorn and I parted ways. And in spite of all that, Edward Einhorn is still claiming, both in court (through his attorney brother David) and on this very discussion board, that he does not believe that his copyright registration was unauthorized, which is why he can’t de-register his copyright properly.

So just imagine how it would be if, at any point during my association with Edward Einhorn, I had indicated that I believed in the cause of a director’s copyright, or thought that it would be fine if Einhorn held rights on future performances of my play. That probably still wouldn’t hold up in court. I don’t think anything less than me sending an email to Einhorn saying “go ahead, register a derivative copyright on TAM LIN” would be proof that I authorized anything, but it would have stretched the case out even longer.


The important thing to remember is that the cause of a director’s copyright is dead so long as a director’s “blocking script” is a derivative work. Which of course by definition it is – without the play, the blocking would be meaningless. My opponent Einhorn still does not get that, which is why he proposes specialized blocking notation, in his online essay promoting the cause of a director’s copyright. As if an unauthorized copyright would become authorized simply because of special notation.

And this is an important reason why we have refused the Einhorns’ offers concerning this copyright. Their first offer was to simply promise that they wouldn’t use the copyright as the basis of a lawsuit against us in the future. That was the reason they gave the Copyright Office for why they wanted to cancel their copyright. It wasn’t good enough for the Copyright Office either. Their second offer was to sign over Einhorn’s copyright to me. This would also not do, because that would be tantamount to saying that Einhorn’s copyright was valid property which could be handed over. My partner Jonathan and I consider Einhorn’s copyright a fantasy, incapable of being owned by anybody.

So while you are not protected from a shameless person registering a derivative copyright on your work without your authorization, at least you can turn around and sue them for it - especially if you registered your copyright. And unless you want to share ownership rights of future performances of your work, you will not be foolish enough to ever authorize a director to register a derivative copyright on your work.


The Guild couldn’t afford to pay our court costs, but they supported us in many other ways. The Guild is the only organization that is truly fighting the SSDC - Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (I never heard of them either, until this case) in its campaign for a director’s copyright. If you are an American playwright but not a member of the Dramatists Guild, you should join. We playwrights need to stick together. One of the benefits of being a playwright is total artistic control – nobody can change a word of your script in performance without your say-so. The trade-off is that there’s much less money to be made writing plays than writing screenplays. But what the screenwriters gain in money, they lose in artistic control. If the SSDC had its way, directors would reign supreme in the theatre the way they do in movies. And that would be a very bad situation for playwrights – the worst of both worlds – little money and little power. The Guild is fighting to prevent that. The Guild's web site is here.


I’m serious. Thanks to my experience with the director of TAM LIN 2004, I directed the play myself for the 2005 production. It was so much simpler. Instead of fighting with the director over completely wrong-headed interpretations of the script and bad casting decisions, I was able to get my vision of the play much closer to what I wanted, with much less stress. Directing is not brain surgery, in spite of the academic/theatre system that tries to mystify the process and promotes directors as gods. Good directors cast good actors, and then mostly stay out of their way and let them act. Good directors serve the play, not twist it and turn it and then claim authorship rights. Good directors know there is only so many ways to direct a play, and that you can’t copyright “stage left” and “stage right.” Good directors make sure the audience understands what is happening on stage, not play pretentious mind games in the mistaken belief that it’s cool and avant-garde. You could be a good director. Even a very good director. Especially for your own plays. You should consider doing it at least once. If only to get a sense of what directing a play entails. If you decide later you don't like to direct, at least you'll have an idea of what directors need from a playwright - and that will make you a better playwright.

Friday, October 22, 2010

NYTimes archives - review of THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT

I was interested in finding out more about the reception of Bill Manhoff's THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT since my JULIA & BUDDY is inspired by that play.

I found the Howard Taubman's November 19 1964 review in the NYTimes pretty interesting. For one thing, I didn't realize that a "pseudo-intellectual who pretends he is above animal instincts (the owl) and the disarmingly earthy tart with a heart of gold (the pussycat)" is a familiar story. But maybe because things are very different in the 21st century, where it's a common belief that all men are flat-out slobs and horndawgs ala the work of Judd Apatow.

Another comment that seemed odd:
. Mr. Manhoff relies too much on obvious lines like "I'm a prostitute, but I'm not promiscuous," but he can occasionally be crisp and bright.

Obvious? There must have been more prostitutes portrayed on the stage in those days. Manhoff does describe the Doris character as a prostitute with a heart of gold, which, while probably more common in those days, is still with us as I noted in my commentary about Adam Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER.

However, I was encouraged by this:
Mr. Manhoff, of course, is well aware that to sustain a play on two characters is something of a virtuoso stunt. Even if his story and characters had more substances, it would be difficult to carry off. But "The Owl and the Pussycat" for all the vivacity of Arthur Stortch's staging, repeats itself and indulges in stretches of padding.

Because I think that my play does not have padding - but I will have to look at it more closely to make sure it doesn't.

I don't actually mind if O&P didn't get great reviews - if it did, there'd be no point in doing a sort of re-do in the 21st century. And according to an article in the New Yorker (behind their pay wall) O&P was a big hit, in spite of the reviews.

One thing that makes you really aware that the article is from almost 50 years ago is this bit from the end: should be noted for the record that Miss Sands, a Negro, plays a role that has no intimation of color. The only question to answer is, How does she fill the role and aid the play's values, such as they are? Admirably.

secrets of the performing arts moguls: don't pay the performers

I see that the independent film director I've blogged about here before feels that Edward Einhorn's latest venture might make money - it's just so right that he would say that - but then they have the same exact business model: neither of them believes in paying actors.

Members of the Dramatists Guild are aware of Edward Einhorn's attitude about paying actors - here is an excerpt from an email he actually entered in to the court record:
Well, I think the theory behind it all is that the actors get the glory of having being on stage, which is why they are usually happy to work for free...
It's funny though - while I think that Einhorn would make a perfect fit with Manhattan Theatre Source, one of the regulars there on a theatre discussion board back in 2006 opined that Einhorn needed to be beaten with a baseball bat, or something to that effect. I can't find the archive now but I'll post it here when I do.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm not a witch I'm not a witch

Three non-witches..

Saturday Night Live spoof of Christine O'Donnell's infamous witch commercial...

I lack a sufficient number of newts...

watch it on Youtube

Elvira is not a witch...

Classic Monty Python...

She turned me into a newt!

It got better.

From The Holy Grail

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

best best-of blurb in the Village Voice's 2010 Best of NYC edition

from the Best New Theatre District (p 67 in the print edition):
New York's theater districts have always been fluid. Broadway, in the 1870s, was actually located around Union Square. The "downtown" alternative theater that was based in the Village and Soho from the 1960s to the 1990s is now scattered all around New York, chased out by real estate pressures. The passing of a theater district is always cause for mourning, but theater is damn wily and has a pleasing habit of cropping up in some new area—sort of like Whac-a-Mole, but with Ibsen heads instead...
I see that Oliver Butler who directed my BLESSINGS OF THE SUN GOD back in 2003 also got a shout-out along with his group The Debate Society - I knew he was a good director when his take on THE POO-POO PLAY, which was part of the line-up with SUN GOD, made me laugh hysterically.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friday Night Footlights

I just found out that JULIA & BUDDY will be performed as part of the Dramatists Guild's weekly Friday Night Footlights on January 14 at 7:30 PM. Yay!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Edwyn Collins

From Wikipedia:
...on 18 February 2005, Collins had said he felt unwell, but ascribed the nausea and vertigo to food poisoning. Two days later, he was admitted to intensive care in London's Royal Free Hospital after apparently suffering a major cerebral hemorrhage. After suffering a second haemorrhage he had an operation on 25 February 2005, which was followed by a lengthy programme of neurological rehabilitation owing to right-sided weakness and difficulty with speech.[5] The aphasia he suffered allowed him to repeat only four phrases, over and over again: "yes", "no", "Grace Maxwell" and "the possibilities are endless".

Grace Maxwell is his wife's name.

I never noticed this protest singer : protest song ratio imbalance he mentions, I have to say.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another naked guy

They seem to be on a naked guy streak at the Spring Street life drawing workshop on Saturdays. Every time I've gone in the past couple of months they've had a male life model.

This guy is interesting-looking, although from some angles he reminded me of the original Darren on Bewitched.

I knew immediately that he was straight, unlike the last two, based on his lack of interest in manscaping. And I heard him talking to somebody later and he mentioned his wife and kids so I was right.

His regular gig is a one-man puppet show - he's sort of Craig Schwartz from Being John Malkovich - and he had one of his puppets there with him in the life pose setup. He mentioned to another artist that he wanted people to draw the puppet too, but I wasn't about to spend my time drawing a puppet - I was there to draw a naked guy.

In this pose he reminded me of a Roman senator or even a Shakespeare character - and according to my buddy Nick Fondulis, naked is the only way to do Shakespeare.

Also I liked his hands - he had sensitive looking fingers. But I hope for his wife's sake he's a grower.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Model Mayhem

If somebody doesn't make a movie called "Model Mayhem" I just might do it myself.

I joined Model Mayhem in order to find guys to model for me for a series of watercolors I am planning. Even though you are not a model, you still have to sign up like a model and even get a model number.

I was amazed to see that Juliet Landau who played Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is listed in MM.

As in acting, the quantity and aesthetic appeal of the women models is far higher than the men. Many male models have good bodies, but very few have beautiful faces - and the ones that do want lots of money. And as in acting, women tend to drop out, the older they get, but men hang in there. Some 60-year-old model guy emailed me with this helpful suggestion:
I work with an artist here in Chicago who draws me as entertainment at women only parties. You should consider same concept.
Frankly I find it hard to believe that women in Chicago would consider watching an artist draw a (presumably nude) bald 60-year-old man as "entertainment." I mean, his body is in great shape, but it's still attached to an old bald head. I could easily imagine a 60-something paying women to watch him pose nude.

Men always overestimate the importance of a muscular physique in attracting women. I'd much rather have a guy with a pretty face and a nice head of hair who was a bit skinny or out of shape than some buffed-up guy with an ugly face and a bald head. Those guys should spend less time working out and more time at the cosmetic surgeon's office, or Hair Club for Men.

And not always wearing slobby sports team clothes and sneakers would be a big improvement too. A couple of years ago I briefly dated a 50-year-old guy with a nice head of hair. But he was 50 for crying out loud and he got all pissy with me when I didn't want to make out with him by the 3rd date.

Dude - you're 50 years old, I need time to find out if you are trust-worthy, and I like your personality, and we're compatible - nobody wants to make out with you based on your appearance alone.

But also, on every single date he wore those big white balloon-y sneakers that tourists with shorts and fannypacks love to wear so much (he DID come from the Jersey suburbs which explains alot.) It was such a turn-off. I certainly don't care about designer fashions or bespoke tailoring or wearing business suits - but I like a guy who has some sense of style. My last two long-term boyfriends - I dated one for 12 years and the other for 8 - both preferred to wear black clothing. It wasn't a huge style choice, but it was a choice. And neither of them ever wore sneakers either, preferring boots.

Too many men seem to buy into the idea that women are not "visually oriented" - an evolutionary psychology based lie that is floating around out there. Certainly the world is arranged in such a way that most women don't have the luxury of selecting a mate purely on the basis of aesthetic appeal, but we sure as hell want to have sex with the best-looking guy within the range of possible candidates. And best-looking isn't only about a pretty face or head hair - it's about making a goddam effort once in awhile in a world where most women can see.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Almost perfect, post-salon hair

My hair has always been aggravation. It's so thick that I can never do one of those upswept, top of the head hair-dos without some major scaffolding to hold up the weight - then I have the hair equivalent of flying buttresses all over my head.

And it's insanely heterogenius - some hairs are thick, some are thin, some are blond, some are auburn some are wavy and some are straight - it can't decide what it wants to be. And it is a virtual barometer - you can pretty reliably tell the present relative air humidity just by observing how much my hair has poofed out. And the East Coast is well known for its high humidity.

I do what I can with it every day, blow drying it into some semblance of normalcy after my morning shower, but unless there is 0% humidity it will turn wavy. Even after I use a flat-iron on it. I can get it straight maybe three or four times a year.

But it's probably the unwieldy nature of my hair that makes it the perfect raw material of the hair dresser's art. Especially for the technique known as the blow-out.

The object of the blow-out is smooth straight hair. The hair dresser takes a head of wet hair and through a combination of hair clips, muted blow dryer and brushing with a round brush, transforms the matted mess into smooth straight hair.

Now I wish my hair had the blown-out look all the time. But unless I could afford my own personal hairdresser to do it for me every day, that's not going to happen. And the way my hair reacts to humidity, chances are the blown-out look will be gone in mere hours. So it hardly seems worth it, especially since it takes a good 30 minutes to do a proper blow out. So when the hairdresser asks me if I want my freshly-colored and/or cut hair to get a blow-out, I usually say "oh no, don't bother, it will only frizz out anyway." And they never listen to me. And I let them blow-out my hair out anyway because it makes them so happy.

They invariably have to spend 5 - 10 minutes just de-tangling my wet hair before the process begins. By then their arms are tired and they're getting cranky. But once the blowing-out begins they suddenly brighten up - you can see a glint in their eye and an intensity on their face as they amaze even themselves with the way the tangled mess becomes straighter and softer and finer until they have transformed my hair into the dead-cell equivalent of the finest, smoothest, silkiest spun gold, perfectly straight but with lots of body. My hair becomes Barbie hair.

They always stand back and admire the result, giving me a mirror so i can see how cool the back looks, and even calling other hair dressers over to admire their handiwork. And if the others saw me when I walked into the salon and are aware of the transformation, they are very impressed indeed. As well they should be.

And at best it will look that way until the next morning when I get my shower.

And today not even that long - I went to the salon tonight and had to walk home in the pouring rain - so as you can see in the photo above, although most of my hair is still fairly straight, the hair around my face is already starting to wave-up.

Well I guess there's always wigs...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

profiles in modern creepiness

The independent film director I've blogged about here before is at it again.

He knows I can read search strings via Google Analytics (which is a handy way to track my Google ads), so he types nasty misogynist stuff, or obscene stuff, or just weird stuff at me. He slacked off for awhile so I thought he had gotten it out of his system - I mean seriously, how long can you keep getting a thrill from it?

Apparently much much longer than I ever could have guessed.

This has been going on, off and on, since March of this year.

He was back at it again last night:

It's the Internet equivalent of the obscene hangup call.

Do the women he works with, some of whom consider themselves feminists, have any idea he has such unsavory habits? I will have to ask them.

All 33 Miners Pulled to Safety in Chile

Thank you NYTimes for reporting that all 33 miners are safe.

They kept having reports all day Wednesday about miners coming up out of the shaft, and the happiness that ensues - which was very nice - but I kept thinking "yeah but they are not all out yet!"

OK, so I worry alot.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The mighty funny Krug-man!

Awesome blog post from Krugman today - first because he linked to his 1978 joke paper The Theory of Interstellar Trade which I had missed the first time around, but also because he slammed Freakonomics' resident douchebag Steven D. Levitt.

Some of the commenters on Levitt's article claim that Levitt is just kidding when he says Krugman has no sense of humor and hasn't published any academic papers in a long time. Krugman obviously doesn't think he's kidding - and I trust Krugman's instincts more than a bunch of libertarians.

This isn't the first time I've noted that Levitt is a douchebag. Back in December 2008 I asked How big of a douchebag is Steven D. Levitt? for his cold-blooded and tone-deaf comparison of the cost of prostitution services to the cost of rice.

In October of 2009, Amanda Hess of the late great The Sexist asked The Happy Hooker, Or Why Doesn’t Steven Levitt Suck Dick For a Living? for his mind-boggling attitudes about sexuality, women, and the sex trade. The entire column (with Tigerbeatdown's Sady Doyle) is a masterpiece, but this is my favorite part:
AMANDA: yeah. here’s another little pet peeve of mine: pretending that “prostitution” is the same as “sex.” I understand that prostitution is a lot different than it was 100 years ago, and a lot of that has to do with changes in attitudes toward sex. but when these researchers say that prostitutes now see competition from “any woman who is willing to have sex with a man for free,” they’re implying that tons of women are actually performing the work of a prostitute on a daily basis, which is absolutely not the case.

Now the article doesn't come out and say Levitt's a douchebag, but it's clearly implied. One thing we do know - he sure spends alot of time thinking about how to get a good value from prostitutes.

But back to the mighty Krug-man's paper. One of my favorite parts, but you should read the whole thing, it's short:
...the proper modelling of arbitrage in interstellar capital markets where - or when (which comes to the same thing) - simultaneity ceases to have an unambiguous meaning.

These complications make the theory of interstellar trade appear at first quite alien to our usual trade models; presumeably it seems equally human to alien trade theorists..."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

old men have forced my hand

Well tonight was the final straw. Some old old man, a writer member of NYCPlaywrights dragged in a thoroughly obnoxious 10-minute play full of regressive attitudes, yet in a contemporary setting. It wasn't the most egregious example of old-man obnoxiousness to be honest, but this has been a long time coming.

NYCPlaywrights is going to finally break even this Fall. The writer membership fee and the membership period length are finally in balance enough to allow memberships - and the occasional fundraiser - to pay for the cost of renting meeting space in Manhattan.

But the closer to solvency the group has gotten, the higher has the percentage of old retired men in the writer membership become.

Now plenty of people, of all ages and genders, write bad plays. But old retired men have that toxic combination of limitless free time, vast personal self-confidence, lack of interest in editing, and unexamined, antiquated attitudes about race and sexual orientation and gender. And more so than most other people, their plays are about old men, especially old men sitting around reminiscing - which is not only insanely boring in itself, but means that there are no roles for all the women actors we have - our actor corps has a much higher percentage of women, especially young women, than men.

And let's face it, most men over age 50 are just plain unsightly - more due to indifferent personal grooming and indifferent wardrobe selection and couch-potato habits than "nature" - but it might as well be nature, for all the likelihood that these factors will improve in my lifetime.

So I've decided to do the meetings at my apartment in Astoria - which is big enough to hold 15-20 people in a script-in-hand reading format. This means that I won't have to charge a membership fee and I can be selective about who joins as a writer member - or an actor member for that matter. For while we have a much higher percentage of good actor members than good writer members, we do have a few duds.

I should point out that although NYCPlaywrights, in its 10-year history, has seen more than its share of talentless writers and crappy plays, it is no different in that respect from any other theater group in NYC.

Take Manhattan Theatre Source - AKA The Hellmouth - for example. I've been to many shows there since I first attended a play in search of actors to hire for a show of mine, back in 2005, and only two shows there were any good at all - and that was mainly because they were very faithful adaptations of the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens. And really, what half-way competent actor couldn't do an entertaining one-man performance of A Christmas Carol? Everybody knows the story by heart - it practically performs itself.

But I can't take shitty plays by regressive old coots any more. Come 2011, NYCPlaywrights will be about quality not quantity. Membership will be about ability to write - not ability to pay.

I feel like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I've been paying my dues for ten years now - I think I'm paid up by now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

message to Tim Gunn about Meryl Streep

Tim Gunn, I have very mixed feelings about you. I only recently discovered who you are because I have even less interest in TV shows about designer label fashion than I do in designer label fashion.

But I thought your contribution to "It Gets Better" was very well done and you spoke from the heart:

On the other hand, you make your living from the deeply sexist world of high fashion, and instead of making it less sexist, you reflect all the basic sexist attitudes. As with your remarks about Meryl Streep:
"I would love to have a chat with Meryl Streep about the semiotics of clothes. I love Meryl Streep, I am an unbridled fan, but I think she believes she's too smart for fashion. That it's not something she should be addressing intellectually," he said.

I think you and me need to have a chat about the semiotics of clothes.

Because clearly you don't feel the need to police talented male actors' wardrobes. You are annoyed with Meryl Streep for having the temerity to think that any woman is above worrying about fashion. Who does she think she is? Some super-talented, award winning actor, who makes a fabulous living doing what she loves? In your mind even such a woman as that must be a slave to fashion, like Hillary Clinton (too manly, according to you) and every other woman.

Meryl Streep has the unmitigated gall to demand the same dignity men get, being judged for accomplishments, not clothing. On talent and intelligence. This is appalling to you - in your mind no woman had better disrespect the almighty fashion police, self-appointed czars of pettiness such as yourself.

Meryl Streep is too smart for fashion. Like any woman who isn't a complete idiot. It's one thing to want to look nice. It's another thing to be obsessed with fashion.

And anybody who hasn't had a relationship since the 1980s because he's still carrying a torch for an ex-boyfriend should NOT be giving advice to anybody about anything. I mean yeah, I hold torches for way too long, but even I'm not that ridiculous.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

taking a stand against the scam

One of the things I established early on for the NYCPlaywrights blog which lists opportunities for writers is that we would NEVER post calls for submissions that require money to be paid just for submitting work.

They usually justify it by claiming the money is needed for "administration."

No, what this is, is a scam.

If it costs them so much to administer a play contest/production they shouldn't have them.

I sometimes tell myself that NYCPlaywrights has begun to influence theatre organizations in the direction of ending requests for money but actually it seems instead organizations are just upping their submission fees. Take this one that was emailed to me, and which I promptly rejected:
Announcing the 18th annual Tennessee Chapbook Prize. 20-24 page manuscripts of short plays (or a single one-act) welcome. Winner published in Poems & Plays #18, March 2011. Author receives 50 copies. All participants receive copy of issue. Send entries (with s.a.s.e., acknowledgements, and $15.00) postmarked by November 30, 2010. To: Poems & Plays, Gaylord Brewer, Editor, English Department, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.

Yes that's right, the State University of Middle Tennessee wants FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Apparently they plan to fund their entire printing run with funds from wanna-be published playwrights. Isn't stuff like this what they jack up tuitions every year for?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

business, art, mousies, etc

What a day Friday was - I took off from work to deal with Internet problems and business issues.

But first I woke up to find I was spooning a dead mouse, resting in peace under the covers. I made exactly the same sound that Jack Woltz made on finding a horse head in his bed:


OK OK Mr Fuzz! I will put Johnny Fontane in my next motion picture! Just don't do it again!

Unlike the horse head, the mouse wasn't bleeding at all. And this was the second dead bloodless mouse I've found. I don't know how they end up dead, but I strongly suspect that Mr. Fuzz (and Miss Willow if she can get a chance) just plays with them until they keel over dead from exhaustion. My cats normally have to be content to play with fake mousies who don't move on their own. The excitement of a real live moving "toy" must be overwhelming for them - no poor mousie stands a chance with my cats.

So after that tsuris I had to go all the way to City Hall in Jamaica (Queens) to deal with some business things. It's so far away - even further than god-forsaken Kew Gardens. It took forever to get there.

You can't say they aren't cordial in Jamaica though - there was only a block and a half between the subway station and City Hall, but even in that short distance I had an offer from a gentleman loafing in front of the deli & legal forms store to do me right if I sat on his face.

Then I had to deal with NYC and NY state bureaucracy, which was much less cordial. I got home hours later and a block from my apartment I cut my leg on one of those little low fences they put around trees - nice rusty iron fences and now I'll have to get a tetanus shot.


Time for the solace of art. I didn't ask for feedback after the reading of JULIA & BUDDY, but three people since then have said to me how much they liked it. A new member of the group emailed me: "By the way I never got to tell you how much I appreciated the INTELLIGENCE in your play!"

This was nice to hear, although I'm worried that it's too intellectual, with all the Schopenhauer. But I've been pretty careful about focusing on the relationship between the two characters, and keeping Schopenhauer as mainly a bone of contention between them. I was surprised that Buddy got a big laugh at this line: "Hey, go to Germany and dig up Schopenhauer and marry him." Which tells me that the audience wanted a little more direct struggle over S. I will have to see about this...


Friday, October 08, 2010


As I said the other day, the J&B reading went well. That doesn't mean I was entirely satisfied with the play as-is. There needs to be a section right before the big finale of the last 3 pages - more of a build-up. And there needs to be more funny stuff. But at least the basic structure is solid and I have an ending that I like. That's some important stuff.

Part of the problem though is that only the second act was read on Tuesday, and so I didn't have a good sense of how the first and second acts fit together, which might be critical for the re-write. I have plans now to have a reading/holiday party in December and do a full-length reading then. Since it's theatre-related, I think I can write the entire thing off as a business expense. Wheee!

Act II part a

Why normal people hate libertarians

A timely reminder from Reason.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I have no use for prose poetry

I finally realized what was going on in the pages of the New Yorker, among other places - the poetry published there is called "prose poetry" and it's not even a new thing:
As a specific form, prose poetry is generally assumed to have originated in 19th-century France as a reaction against dependence upon traditional uses of line in verse.

At the time of the prose poem's emergence, French poetry was dominated by the Alexandrine, an extremely strict and demanding form that poets such as Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire rebelled against. Further proponents of the prose poem included other French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé.

The prose poem continued to be written in France into the 20th century by such writers as Max Jacob and Francis Ponge.

At the end of the 19th century, British Decadent movement poets such as Oscar Wilde picked up the form because of its already subversive association. This may have hindered the dissemination of the form into English because many associated the Decadents with homosexuality; hence any form used by the Decadents was suspect.

Notable Modernist poet T. S. Eliot wrote vehemently against prose poems, though he did try his hand at one or two. He also added to the debate about what defines the genre, saying in his introduction to Djuna Barnes' highly poeticized 1936 novel Nightwood that this work may not be classed as "poetic prose" as it did not have the rhythm or "musical pattern" of verse.

In contrast, a couple of other Modernist authors wrote prose poetry consistently, including Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson. In actuality, Anderson considered his work to be short fictions—in the current term, "flash fiction". The distinction between flash fiction and prose poetry is at times very thin, almost indiscernible.
That is certainly the truth.

There seems to be two rules of writing a "prose poem":

1. Random carriage returns.
2. Declaring it a poem.

Here is the first chunk of Billy Collins' "Table Talk" in this week's New Yorker:

Not long after we sat down to dinner
at a long table in a restaurant in Chicago
and were deeply engrossed in the heavy menus,
one of us - a bearded man with a colorful tie -
asked if any one of us had ever considered
applying the paradoxes of Zeno to the martyrdom of St. Sebastian.

When there are no longer any rules about an art form, the rules for successful art becomes all about your personal clout, not about the work itself.

Art without rules perfectly caters to the strengths of the upper classes and the already-famous, who tend to have lots of personal clout. If THEY say it's poetry, then it is. Because they make the rules, not the art form itself. Art without rules creates a power vacuum that the socially powerful will immediately fill.

Prose poetry is about taking back the power of the carriage return from the fascism of a well-formed paragraph. How brave.

I call bullshit on it.

And it's not even an exciting new innovation - it's been around for over a hundred years.

The Mask of Sanity

Scary but interesting article last month in the New Yorker, Mind Game about a killer psychiatrist in New Zealand. (You have to have a New Yorker subscription to get behind the pay wall.)

Most articles on psychopaths hit the same points: psychopaths are not always killers or even hard-core criminals; they are charming and use their charm to fool people; they are master manipulators; they play on the sympathy of non-psychopaths; they are self-confident in the extreme; they lie with great ease and without shame; they feel no remorse for hurting anybody, ever, although they can fake remorse and most other emotions pretty well.

The article quotes from an early work on psychopathy, "The Mask of Sanity":
...Checkley told stories of men and women - successful businessmen and professionals as well as con men, bigamists, and petty thieves - who were friendly, charismatic, and often brilliant at manipulating other people. Yet alongside the glib charm of these psychopaths was a kind of moral blindness, an apparent incapacity to feel moral sentiments such as guilt and empathy. Cleckly marveled at the psychological ease with which psychopaths lied, cheated, and betrayed their friends and families.

While the charming, cunning psychopath has become a stock character in Hollywood films, Cleckley's psychopaths bear little resemblance to Hannibal Lecter. Often, they look more like the bunglers in "Fargo," whose elaborate criminal plans are derailed by spectacularly boneheaded decisions. Cleckley's psychopaths are not simply blind to the interests of others: in some ways, they are also blind to their own. They consistently underestimate the intelligence of other people, lying needlessly, even in circumstances where they are certain to be caught...

...Cleckley keeps returning to words like "mimicry" and "simulation" to emphasize how psychopaths can use moral and emotional language skillfully without really feeling its depth and resonance. And yet, like a pianist with a tin ear, the psychopath can perform for only so long before his deficiencies become apparent.

The music analogy comes up again, in another New Yorker article, this one from 2008 Suffering Souls (this article is available in its entirety for free) which looks at possible physical brain markers of psychopathy:
In another study, at the Bronx V.A. Medical Center, Hare, Joanne Intrator, and others found that psychopaths processed emotional words in a different part of the brain. Instead of showing activity in the limbic region, in the midbrain, which is the emotional-processing center, psychopaths showed activity only in the front of the brain, in the language center. Hare explained to me, “It was as if they could only understand emotions linguistically. They knew the words but not the music, as it were.
The Mask of Sanity is available for free online.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Athens Square Park sonnetry

There's a statue of Athene, and one of Socrates in Athens Square Park, right around the corner from my apartment. I think it's pretty cool.

I wrote a sonnet that mentions parthenogenesis

Sunday, October 03, 2010

from Brooklyn Bagel

Well it turns out there's plenty of Wifi locations in Astoria, so the cable modem fail isn't as awful as I feared it would be. The closest location is Brooklyn Bagel on 30th Ave... although the Starbucks on Steinway and the McDonald's all have Wifi too, apparently. I had no idea there was so much Wifi, but then I never needed to know until now..

In addition to Wifi locations, you can also get a drag show with brunch in Astoria, also on 30th Ave. You can learn more about the Sunday morning brunch here. I went with my daughter and her girlfriend who are both sort of connoisseurs of drag, and they weren't especially impressed. It was my first drag show since the Ladyboys of Bangkok in Edinburgh - and this was nothing like that. The banter could have been wittier, I will say that. But the Eggs Florentine was pretty good.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I will get you for this Time Warner

My cable modem is not working - TW will send someone to fix it - in 6 days!!!

Blogging from a Blackberry is no fun at all.

Friday, October 01, 2010

butch... like Diane Keaton

A couple of years ago my daughter and her lesbian friends informed me that I was "butch." I took this the way any single heterosexual woman in her 40s might take such an assessment - with great alarm.

But then they said I was butch like Diane Keaton, which made me feel a little better - though mainly because I don't consider her butch. I mean, yeah, she wore a tie in Annie Hall - that doesn't seem all that butch to me. And I really like Diane Keaton and love her work, so I guess if I'm going to be butch, I could do worse than being butch like Diane Keaton. I could be butch like Ann Coulter.

Also, I never had to have sex with Woody Allen, so that puts me way ahead of Diane Keaton, in spite of her fabulous career. Of course she also hooked up with Al Pacino in his young and excruciatingly hot days... so maybe I'm not so much ahead...