Archive for July, 2004

Love Letter to a Love Letter

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

Anil Dash has been sorta flying around the internet for a long time, and so posting a direct link to his blog is gonna seem silly to a lot of you who already know who he is, but the idea of moving west has been hanging over me for the last year or so, and he’s written a gorgeous blog about leaving New York and going to San Francisco.

I love his blog because I first found it a year or so ago when the title was “New York Invented Christmas”. This guy is just gorgeous.

Blog to Mortify Mac

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

The modern theater world is in turmoil for several reasons, and, seemingly for my personal enormous amusement, everyone seems to be writing blogs about it. Go here to start, (that’s Mac, my indentured servant playwright) and see also my brother Ian for the weenie rant on his butt hurting during plays.

I’m gonna talk about the butt hurting bullshit as soon as I calm down, which I haven’t and may never. The “theater is boring” whine is actually charming when Ian writes it, but it won’t stop me from gently applying my size 12s to his ballsac next time I see him.

No, I want to point out that I have been jumping from blog to blog, giggling about the fight between the playwright and the director, knowing the whole time that The Actor has about 87% of the show in his disgusting, vain, egomaniacal, functionally retarded hands. You can talk all you want about shaping a show, but when the audience holds their breath and the lights come up, aint a DAMN THING you can do about it. He’s got your taint hairs in his hand, he’s gonna tug hard, and you’re just wondering when.

Full disclosure, I just finished a show that was an all time low for me in terms of knowing my lines. I think I really got under the skin of the girl playing opposite me because not only was I completely inconsistent with the written dialogue, I also stole the show. If I were her, I’d be furious. I fucking hate being in shows with people who aren’t trying very hard and who somehow manage to still get raves not just from the audience, but from the *WRITERS*. The guys who wrote this show loved what I did, and I didn’t say half of what they wrote.

(Mac just leaned his forehead into his hand and tried not to barf. He still owes me a play, written for *ME*. And he knows I’m gonna screw up the lines in that play too. AHAHAHAHAHAHA.)

The presence of the actor is what makes live theater so thrilling. Every play you’ve written could also be a movie, and if it was it could certainly be shaped and made more interesting by a good director. The reason you go see live theater is because you are in the same room with the guy who’s making the play *as you watch*. A director spends weeks of rehearsal trying to get the actor to be the guy that the play calls for, only after the playwright has spent years trying to create, out of whole cloth, the guy that the play calls for.

And that guy who exists in the play? He’s there in the mind of the actor, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron, but sometimes he slips out. It’s not just lines. He’ll play a scene for laughs. He’ll decide that he wants to cross downstage for something. The audience is horrified and he just can’t commit to the scene anymore, he starts hedging his bets. Seriously, it isn’t just that someone forgets to say “clear as a bell” and instead says “crystal clear”, I mean, that shit’s gonna happen. I’m saying, this dude will just *do* stuff for reasons you, as the playwright or director, will never understand.

(Mac will joke in rehearsal when I mess up, he’ll say “My WORDS! My precious WORDS!” and it’s become a joke. But one time, (and to be fair the only time I can remember, and it was years ago) Mac said a piece of dialogue he had written and the audible shock from the audience made his face change. He kept in character, but I looked in his face and it wasn’t the character looking at me, it was the guy saying “Oh shit, what did I just say?” We ran for a month afterwards, and he played it to the hilt always afterwards, but I doubt he’s forgotten that gasp. It was awesome.)

I don’t know how to break it to you, but unless you’re working with actors who know how to deliver lines and take direction, you’re building statues out of meringue.

And you know what? You get what you deserve. If you hold auditions and you’re casting people based on how calm and collected they are during a two minute monologue, then you get what you’re asking for. Auditions are ridiculous. They reveal who is the coolest, best looking cat in the room, that’s it. Some of these guys who audition well are probably good too, but you can’t count on it.

It’s hilarious, my profession. How many schools of playwriting are there? How many methods of directing? I mean, sure, you can say “He writes like Mamet” of a playwright or “he likes to work outside-in” of a director, but for acting, we have about 16 different bullshit schools. “I’m very Uta” or “we should do Method for this” or “this is all so Meisner” and you need a snorkle just to breathe. Why does an art that is 90% intuitive have to have these fucking *master’s degrees*? My dad’s a conductor, my mom writes symphonies, that shit requires learnin’. My peers are liars, right to their socks.

Actors are, for the most part, handsome people who are desperate to prove they are smart, directors are, for the most part, handsome people who know they are smart but want to prove they are busy and playwrights are, for the most part, less handsome people who want to prove that you don’t have to be handsome to be awesome. So here’s what happens

Playwright writes a play about real people doing real things with an unfortunate amount of verbal dexterity and situations that are either painful to watch or full of hairpin turns that are designed to alarm what the playwright assumes will be a complacent, dull and simple minded audience.

Director takes the play, overanalyzes it, overdevelops it, asks for re-writes on a microscopic level, auditions a billion actors and actresses to find that *perfect* one, creates lighting plots, sounds plots, set designs, rehearsal schedules, costume suggestions (with shoes, hair, make-up, etc.), backstories for the actors, call sheets for the SM, and spends 21 hours a day for weeks and weeks sweating details just so he can have sweat those details when all is said and done.

The actor gets the play, highlights all of his lines, rips out the pages he isn’t in, spends two weeks getting off-book by reciting the lines into the mirror while he plays with different hair designs and hits the treadmill for a five pound weight loss that he doesn’t need and then the lights go up and he says most of his lines. While he isn’t delivering his lines, he’s making a lot of those “I’m listening to every word you say” faces while other people are talking and during scenes where he’s off stage, he’s backstage talking about the fact that Bush is Hitler reincarnate and that there should be a flat tax.

I don’t know, maybe that’s why you hate theater. It is chock full of assholes.

By the way, the above in no way describes any of my friends. Seriously, you guys are awesome.


Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

So I have a response to,11710,1263641,00.html”>this goddam article. Yeah, surprise, I have something to say.

Last night was dress rehearsal for my show “The Lady and the Ladle” a children’s musical about a town that becomes hopelessly obsessed with commercialism. I’ve been on edge lately for several reasons, but one of them has been our inability to fit in enough rehearsal for this show. The cast are about as lovely as people get, but it isn’t the strongest group I’ve ever worked with.

As an aside, these are perhaps the loveliest group of people I’ve ever done a show with, taken as a whole. Everyone is just so damn nice. Even the musical theater people are more or less kind people, and musical theater people are the dregs of humanity usually.

Anyway, we had our final dress last night, and it was really ragged. Some people in the cast are not going to get any better on their lines or their parts, but three or four more rehearsals would have been great for all of us. It’s not even character development kind of stuff, it just would have been great.

It’s hard to sleep any night between dress and opening, but particularly hard if dress ends at ten and call time is the following morning at 8. In fact, if this blog is a mess, I hope you’ll understand that I am operating under Jimmy Stewart in Spirit of St. Louis levels of sleep. I woke up every twenty minutes or so, afraid that I had overslept, and I finally just got up at about 6:15 and left for the show.

Make-up, hair, costumes, pre-show conversation, some girl talking about peacock feathers being bad luck, some guy talking about how touring isn’t for him. I don’t romanticize these things, but I think I might look back on them fondly if I were ever unable to move from my bed or something. It’s lovely, people doing what they can to show off for one another. I dressed by myself but eventually found my way over to the rest of the cast.

The director came in and gave us our five minute call and we got ourselves together and went to the wings.

I called Jordana after the show and I tried to tell her what happened, but I couldn’t really, and hours later now, I still can’t really describe it. I just know that I don’t usually feel okay, I don’t usually feel like I’m making the grade or matching up to the people around me. Everyone’s got more money than me, everyone’s smarter than me, everyone’s thinner and more successful and whatever, and I walk around like a coked up clown at a children’s party, making balloons and funny faces, desperate to make sure that the people I see either think I’m awesome or, failing that, at least make them understand that I know I’m as much an ass as they think I am.

But waiting in the wings, I feel okay, in the right place. I don’t feel like that, I feel like this other thing, that I can’t explain. For many people in the audience, this is the first time they have ever seen a live show, people singing and dancing and making them laugh. I remember my first show, I bet you do too. And these kids will remember what I did today for the rest of their lives. They won’t remember Paris Hilton.

You know what? I’ve got something to say about that piece I linked to, but it’s gonna have to wait. I just can’t do it today.

I’ll say this much today. You are a snotty little fuck. I know it’s a sin to covet, it’s bad to kick dogs, and we should all get more exercise, but, for the record, every time someone celebrates anti-intellectualism, every time someone celebrates the easy answer, every time someone opts for celebrity and kitsch over innovation and work, the steady march of human progress trips a step and, to me, that is the greatest sin of all. You’re definitely cool, I’ll give you that, but mocking live theater is like laughing at Sally Struthers. It’s easy, it’s ignorant, it’s destructive and it’s cruel.

Political Aspirations

Monday, July 19th, 2004

It may seem fairly obvious to all of you that I am using this blog as a springboard to a life in politics, but I *swear* that’s not what I’m trying to do *at all*. Seriously.

So, I would like to take a moment to put my considerable weight behind an idea that might make even those near and dear to me uncomfortable, and surely will guarantee that I won’t be electable. Yes, my sister and I were once so high we tried to smoke breakfast cereal through a bong, yes I don’t technically have a high school diploma and yes, I have had, in the past, a rather pronounced problem with Athlete’s Foot, but in this day and age I think all of these thing would be forgiven. Even the sexual escapades would be, perhaps, giggled over, but I don’t think they would change my status as a viable candidate.

No, what I want to put my support behind is actually and idea that is as ancient as the bible. I think we should legalize plural marriage, or polygamy.

I’m pretty sure one of two ideas just jumped into your head. Either “I thought you said you weren’t Mormon” or “Kinky! This guy wants two wives!”, so let me state for the record, I am not Mormon and God help the man who has more than one wife.

Complete disclosure here, and mom, if you’re still reading, plug your ears for a second, but I’ve been in several multiple partner situations. There have been five times in my life that two fly honeys wanted to trip the light fandango with me. When I think of being in Hawaii at a bar with two 21 year old dancers who both wanted to sleep with me and were willing to do it together so I wouldn’t have to chose, it brings a tear to my eye.

And it brings a tear to my eye because I said “No! What? NOOO!” And here’s my problem. I’m not old fashioned, that’s not it. It’s just that being with one woman is damn near impossible. It’s like flying a 747, but with all the controls blacked out and no windshield. You’ve got about twenty things you are supposed to be doing at any one time, but you have only the tiniest physical shudders or aural clues to let you know when you’ve screwed up. How the hell can you be with more than one woman?

It takes me about two years to figure out what someone wants, how the hell am I supposed to figure out several women at the same time? You try the same shit on more than one woman, you will eventually get slapped. Or worse, laughed at. There is nothing worse than showing up with salad makings and cowboy boots only to get Prufrocked. “That is not what I meant at all. That is not it at all.”

And I’m not Mormon. Those crazy bastards. But seriously, what the hell is any better about being one of those crazy bastards than being any other crazy religious bastard. I know Jews who won’t say “Yahweh” because you aren’t supposed to say the true name of God. That’s fucking crazy. I know Catholics who believe in transubstantiation. That’s just nuts.

Also, the Mormons excommunicate anyone who practices plural marriage, and they have done that for the last century. But, there are people living in Utah and Colorado who practice plural marriage and they’re having a ball doing it. Or not, maybe they’re as miserable as I would be.

But gays should have the right to marry, to have the same rights as non-gays, and if that extends to nutjob religious freaks in the desert, than let ’em. Expose it, honor the marriages, and quit giving these jackholes tax money. There is a legitimate argument that if marriage is extended beyond a relationship between a man and a woman, that people will start arguing that it should extend to plural marriage. Of course, it isn’t the plural marriage people who are arguing that, because they sorta like it being illegal.

Y’see, if you have six wives, only the first one is legal. The rest are technically single mothers living with no income, and most of these women have five or six kids each. So the other five are collecting vast sums of money from the government while paying almost no tax themselves. Over 50% of people living in these plural marraige societies collect welfare, and 30% of all babies born in these same towns are paid for by medicaid. That’s your tax dollars at work.

Look, I’m married, and I don’t need my marriage defended against either homsexuals or crazy Christians. Our marriage is wholly our own. And what if three women who really like each other marry the same man and they live ridiculous fat American lives in a border town in Colorado, why do we think we have to stop that? How is making that illegal American? Let the stupid fat bastards live their lives any way they want to, and quit making me pay for it.

Or, what if these women are abused, disrespected, whatever? If something illegal happens, arrest the fuckers for the illegal thing. If they are selling their 14 year old daughters, then make that illegal. If they are beating their wives, send ’em to jail. Make all the bad stuff illegal, but legalize the marriages. They are, like gay couples, living out their lives and if there is even one family that is doing this happily, it is wrong for it to be illegal. Don’t defend my marriage, I don’t need it.

Not a Call To Arms

Friday, July 16th, 2004

I get hassled if I don’t write a blog, but my guess is that some of my blogs of late have been tough to read all of. I probably know the names of the three people who read all the way through my Fringe blogs, and I don’t think my parents or my wife really count.

So, I’m gonna say something here, and I want to keep it short.

I’m in my mid thirties now, which I’m sure seems old to some of you, but it feels really young to me. When I was 20, I made a list of parts that I wanted to play, a top ten list, and by the time I was 26 I had played almost all of them and none of it lived up to expectation. For the last eight years, my acting “career”, for lack of a better word, has taken a turn I never thought it would.

Since 1996, if you don’t count Shakespeare or Musicals, I have done only one play that had been previously produced. Naturally, the film and television stuff I’ve done was brand new, you don’t tend to re-make old episodes of “Charmed” or whatever, but every single play I’ve done has been, for lack of a better word, a premiere. Every character I’ve made (save one) has never been performed before.

There was a foul mothed ad-exec who was given a deadline to come up with a new name for a drug that helps you sleep. He came up with “Souchite”.

There was a lonely office worker who was trying to figure out how to fight for his marriage. He finds out his dog is sick and dying, and he and his wife have to work out either to end their marriage or how far they will go to fight for it.

There was a Southern military doctor in 1942 who had problems with authority and ended up stuck in an all black fighting unit, where he learned that everything he knew about black people was wrong.

There was the lost boy, floating around New York, drunk, frozen, unable to change his life who slowly loses everything, his money, his jobs, even his pride, until finally he loses himself and, in doing so, becomes free to have the life he really wants.

There was a gay computer technician who fought with his lover to make their relationship public knowledge, who lost the love of his life because the other guy was a coward.

There was the foul-mouthed wordsmith film-maker who was backed into a corner by losing his best friend and had to find a way to forgive himself, and to help the people around him forgive themselves, for circumstances that weren’t just unimaginable to him, but unimaginable to anyone who grew up in America in the last quarter of the 20th century.

And there were about a dozen more.

So, what am I supposed to do? You don’t know any of these guys, right? I didn’t say “A Mormon guy who leaves his wife when he discovers he is gay and works for Roy Cohn”, right? But, what am I supposed to do?


In a hundred years, I’ll be dead. As dead as John Barrymore. As dead as Richard Harris. As dead as Richard *KLINE* will be. So, what am I supposed to do? I can’t ask the question anymore, because the question leaves me frigid. The question of relevance, I can’t ask it. What if I’m never famous, what if my work is never seen by more than a handful of people? What if these characters only become familiar to you when they are re-created by someone with cache?

I can’t ask it, because I’m an actor, and this much is all I’ve learned. I’m actually totally liberated, if I were to quit, there would be only a handful of people disappointed. There would be a group of people who would say, “it’s a shame you aren’t acting any more, you were fantastic,” but they wouldn’t actually think it was a *tragedy* or anything. I just can’t really quit, I just can’t, I don’t know how else to measure my life. Y’all had semesters, I had rehearsals, openings and strike. Hot weather means try to get a fall tour, fall weather means get a Christmas show, when the ice starts melting you gotta think about summer stock, and all the rest of the time you’re trying to get a national commercial or a recurring role on a TV show.

Right now, I’m a CEO and inventor whose sole motivation is the planned obsolescence of the material he is creating. He needs the people to whom he is selling to get rid of the old things he invents as quickly as possible in order for his new things to be purchased. The town he lives in is based entirely around the purchasing of his newest products and the quick disposal of his old stuff.

Is this a metaphor for my own life, living as an actor/writer/producer of theater in New York? Why the hell would I even ask that question?

I have only one choice, to make the work it’s own reward. Sure, I’m getting paid for the show I’m in now, and sure, it has some possibility of commercial success in a certain part of the theater world, but if it is, they will probably replace me with a different actor. Or maybe not. But this guy, making this guy the guy, is what I have to do.

Take My Wife

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

It’s difficult for married people my age to talk about our wives. I mean, the word itself doesn’t seem to mean what we want it to mean. Last weekend, my brother and I hung out with our wives on Sunday, and it wasn’t exactly me and Ian drinking scotch and smoking cigars in the living room while our wives retired to the kitchen. They have us out IQ’ed by about 20 points apiece, and the four of us had a ranging day of conversation that included politics, cooking and art, and Ian and I just sort of held on for dear life and made the occasional fart joke.

So, it’s really hard for someone like me to say, “My wife loves it when (x) happens”. My cousins in Utah have wives, or are wives. Jordana is just this pretty girl who lives with me. When I call her my wife, I figure you assume some kind of maternal icon.

But I say it nonetheless. I have to. If you know me for a few weeks, at some point you figure out that I love acting and music, that I love cooking and eating. If you know me for a month or so, you’ll probably learn that my whole family are musicians, that I’m a little morally uptight but not at all religious, that I have deep respect for some things and even deeper disrespect for others. If you only know me for one afternoon, just a coffee conversation, you’ll hear my best friend’s names, you’ll know I have a big family, and you’ll probably think I’m funny.

But if you have two minutes to talk to me, you’ll know about my wife. I can’t help it. If I tell you anything about me, it begins and ends with my married life. If you peel me away like an onion, you’ll get past the race, the midwesterner, the southerner, the New York-er, the Californian, pretty fast, and deep down you’ll find the fat kid trying to do good, the fail-er desperate to avoid failure. And that last peel before there is nothing, you will find the husband to Jordana.

She turns 28 today, the same age I was when I thought my life had ended, the same age when I was redeemed, like a thousand tickets at a skee ball counter. There isn’t much behind that counter that she might want, but I hope I can be a ratty sweatshirt with a Carolina logo stashed in a corner that she can wear when all she wants is to be alone and warm.

Hey, Sean! Why aren’t you sleeping?

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

Thanks for asking! Several reasons, it turns out.

1) The show I’m doing right now is the perfect balancing act for my type of insomnia. The rehearsals are wonderful enough and the rest of the cast is fun enough that I walk out of rehearsal thrilled. However, this isn’t a cast of outrageous talent and we have about three more rehearsals. And we’re not off book. And large stretches of the show haven’t been staged. And we keep cancelling the few rehearsals we have. And it’s a musical. So, y’know, there’s that.

2) My friend Deb is about to make the biggest mistake of her life, but there’s nothing I can do about that. She’s marrying a bad man.

3) The show I’m about to do is running during the week of Steve’s wedding. The only good thing about that is we are starting rehearsals on August 1 and, instead of opening the 13th (which was a possibility), we’re opening the 18th. Again, I’m excited about the play itself, but the producers are first time and are a little shaky. A google search reveals that we are listed on the Fringe site and that’s it, and for a show in the fringe, we are gonna sink without a trace. But I’m excited about all other aspects and since I’m not producing, I’m just gonna focus on acting for once.

4) I have been writing a lot of music lately, my tri-annual musical itch getting scratched, and it’s changing my ears in a painful way. For instance, the song “Crash” by Lisa Germano has a snare sound in it that made me cry on the subway. Seriously, why would I make something like that up, it’s gay as hell, but it happened. “Wicked Little Town” from the soundtrack to Hedwig was making my heart feel like a deployed airbag. And when you are hearing that clearly, when tiny moments are just *fucking* with you, do NOT listen to Revolver.

I mean, how were they that good? For the rest of you, is there someone you turn to that shames you? If you are trying to write a TV drama, do you check in on The West Wing and think you are in the presence of greatness? At the end of “Here, There and Everywhere” there are doubled finger snaps for about 8 measures, which I had heard before, but they start when the vocal line on “love never dies” splinters and they stop when Paul sings the final “here, there, and everywhere” not at the end.

Yep, that’s keeping me up.

5) A new wrinkle, I seem to have hurt my shoulder. It’s actually a fair amount of pain, enough that it wakes me up when I roll over. Of course, I’m an insomniac, so mice next door wake me up, but I’ve still decided to go to a doctor and get my shoulder looked at. I’m hoping I can just get a shot and finish the eighth and ninth, I’m so close to a perfect game…

6) I love the idea of being part of a community of creative people who are developing entertainment for the masses, and sometimes I feel really close to being in that community and other times it feels like I’m just like those guys who smoke pot and sit on a couch and say, “they should make a TV show about skateboarding. Y’know?” Although I don’t smoke pot, and I don’t think they should make a TV show about skateboarding, sometimes I feel like if you’re on the couch, you’re on the couch, the rest are just details.

7) I’d like to have a career as an actor. Right. Now. Anyone with ideas can email me.

8) I’m just kidding about Deb.

Parody? More like Pair O’ Deez

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

Let’s do a little research…

Satire- 1. A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit, or 2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Parody- 1. A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.

We’ve already learned something, right? Satire mentions Irony and Wit in several places, Parody doesn’t. Parody has one aspiration, to imitate in order to ridicule, and it is very effective. One of the most brilliant purveyors of parody alive today is Christopher Guest, who’s work is actually so sublime that ridicule usually makes way for genuine affection. This Is Spinal Tap was straight out mockery, as was Guffman, and yet we love the people, we take them seriously. Best In Show and A Mighty Wing somehow managed parody without hostility, ridicule as affectionate ribbing. He is a master.

But look at what he has chosen to parody. In every circumstance, he shows our folly by chosing for his subject matter something that is being held incredibly precious by an ever shrinking audience. Heavy Metal, Community Theater, Dog Shows and Folk Music Festivals are all disenfranchised groups of people who live for their particular passion, and the arc of his work is to get us to take our own little niches less seriously.

I didn’t laugh the first time I saw Waiting For Guffman, because the play I was in was NOT AS GOOD as the play in the movie. They had a much better cast and way better sets. Jesus, they had a live band. But I got the joke, eventually.

Satire doesn’t necessarily use the characteristic style of any one thing, it’s job is to use wit to attack vice or folly. Satire has largely now become a word used by politicians to denote anyone both comedic and fire-breathing. Al Franken and Dennis Miller come to mind, although I’m sure Dave Chapelle and other party-neutral comics would also fit.

For theater, it’s hard to see the satire for the snot, unfortunately. The Importance Of Being Earnest, Dinner At Eight, A Little Night Music, etc., there is a list of satirical plays but most of them seem to be reserved for another time, set in another age. As Irony has taken over our lives, satire has taken a back seat to parody, and it’s a shame. Outside of stand-up comics (and late-show desk jockeys who are essentially stand-ups) (or sit-downs, I guess), any satire is mismarked a “dark” comedy, and doesn’t usually see much daylight.

There is nothing that says that parody ought to be insightful. Lucky for the some participants in the Fringe festival this year.

In terms of direct parody, there are a fair number of plays that feature George W. Bush. I haven’t seen any of these plays, it’s possible that they are wonderful, but my personal world has no room for seeing our current sitting president who is presiding over one of the most outrageous presidencies ever dramatized. I devour news sites, I buy books, I am terrified of when the next attack will be and who should be preventing it, if that’s even possible. This is just me, and remember, I’m an idiot, but I just can’t possibly go see a play where Bush is being dramatized. I want, in the worst way, to get in a room with a group of insightful people and discuss the political landscape and how it can be altered, but if you’ve written a snotty play about “Dubya” and Jesus, you can kiss my ass.

Now, there are several other direct parodies. One is mocking “Dukes of Hazzard” a wildly popular, lowest common denominator TV show from the 80s that is so well known that short shorts are called “Daisy Dukes”. “Showgirls”, a terrible movie that has a huge cult following, so much so that it is being shown in theaters at midnight like “Rocky Horror”, is being redone. With sock puppets. Yet another play has chosen to satirize “Goonies”, a STEVEN SPEILBURG movie that is in the top ten most quoted movies of our generation.

So, looking at these three, what possible insights do you hope to give me? Am I going to learn something about any of these three shows that I don’t already know, that all my friends don’t already know? That countless thousands and thousands of people my age, younger, and older don’t already know? My *MOM* knows about these three shows, she’s 73. My *NEPHEW* has these shows memorized, he’s 19. Why should I care? Seriously, if you google yourself and get here, tell me why I should care. Here

Save The Goondocks!

Harvey Finklestein’s Sock Puppet Showgirls

Big Trouble In Little Hazzard

There, now you can google your shows and find me and explain to me why I should see your show. If I go, I generally bring about fifteen people with me, so it’s worth your time.

The Fringe isn’t without what appears to be good parody, though. There is a show that is being presented as an 8th Grade Drama Group. That is a great idea. I mean, I was there for that, but it isn’t something that the E! Channel has already done a special about. Snow White is being retold in what appears to be three languages with audience gate crashers. Again, something I haven’t already made jokes about with my own friends. “The Life and Times of a Wonder Woman” is about a cool ass show that hasn’t been beaten to death in pop culture already.

I mean, parody isn’t dead. There is a show going up called “The Precinct” and the tagline is “Five cops. One Killer. No plot.” That’s a joke I haven’t heard before. And The Fringe is still amazing. Which I guess is my point. If I care about politics and the war and my upcoming vote, don’t you think I would be more interested in a show like “Valiant” which describes itself as “a word for word account of women’s experiences in war throughout the 20th century” than something called “Dementia Presidentia” wherein Jesus appears as the new Cheif of Staff?

Maybe I’ve gotten too old. But I still like fart jokes, I still like people getting kicked in the noots. I just don’t think old wit is still wit, and I don’t think this administration is funny.

That thing? Just below the hem? No-one ever talks about that…

Monday, July 12th, 2004

Following my friend Mac, here’s a list of shows I’m either going to or not going to in the NYC Fringe Festival

“9/11- The Book of Job”- Please. If you killed me and tried to drag my corpse into this show, I hope my lifeless body would resist.

“Apocalypse, book one”- I’m only going to say this once. If you’re making a show wherein either the President or Jeus Christ make an appearance, I’m not going.

“Another Cat and Another Moon”- This one has clowns and sounds kinda weird. A show actually on the Fringe and one that is probably long on sweet.

“Beware the Man Eating Chicken”- I like the title. It takes you a second to figure out, so that bodes well for the play.

“Big Trouble in Little Hazzard”- This kind of fucking show need a blog all it’s fucking own. These guys can swing. Satire my ass. Y’know what? Check in later, I’m writing a whole goddam blog about shows like this.

“Browntown”- Three brown skinned actors are invited to audition for a MOW in Hollywood called “The Color Of Terror”. This is right up my alley.

“Becoming Woman”- Any show with either one or two actors, I’m not going. One or two people being an ass pretty much sums up dinner with my friends, and I do that about four times a week. I aint paying to see people I don’t know do it.

“Cane’s Bayou”- Has a warning about nudity and under director it says “ensemble”. Very promising.

“Chekov On The Wing”- I may not agree with Mac about everything but… actually I generally agree with Mac about everything. This dude can swing. By swing, I mean “on deez nuts”.

“A Chicken and Its Breast”- Okay, here’s the thing. The description says “an audacious young lady attempts to charm the audience in a hilarious alienated whirlwind”, and that sound hilarious to me. I love alienating whirlwinds.

“Confessions of a Mormon Boy”- I just don’t think I can. One man show? Music? Gay? Ex-Christian? Check, check, check, check, check please. It’s all very good for you to have been Mormon and now you’re not, but I just can’t indulge you.

“The Dead Sea”- Dark horse possibility. A guy returns home to talk to his brothers and dad, that’s it. That sounds like a *play*, and not some kind of juggling, tap dancing bullshit.

“The Disembodied Soul”- Fucked up Chinese break beats and supernaturalism. Word. I’m there.

“Ellen Craft”- Gotta support the home team. There is no way in the world I am missing this.

“An Evening of Semiautobiographical, Highly Self-Indulgent Theater”- You’re telling me up front, and you’re telling me you’re naked, so I’ll bite. If it’s as bad as the title, I got no-one to blame but myself.

“Gork! The Retard Always Wins”- Okay, I know I said no one-person shows, but I’ll go to this. She talks about her retarded brother as they grew up in Iowa. Again, the home team, I got no choice.

“Granola! The Musical”- Jesus Christ. I would go to this show if a) It was free, b) The seats were comfortable and the theater was air conditioned and c) The show was cancelled.

“Haven: A New Play with Music about Refugees and America”- Give me a goddam break. What stupid ass retard includes “a new play” in the title of their play? A musical about Cameroonian torture survivors escaping to America? There should be a place where people who survive musicals can escape to.

“High Cotton”- This actually looks fun and it feels like the home team again.

“Irish Authors Held Hostage”- I’m trying to leave the shows Mac’s mentioned alone, but this actually looks pretty fun.

“John Walker:The Musical” & “Jonestown: The Musical”- Two shows, and I can tell you why I pick the latter over the former. The “American Taliban” was pop invention, whatever personal drama or whatever he went through, it doesn’t mean that much to me. The Jonestown Massacre has been with me since childhood, it’s one of the most dramatic events of the last half century. The two guys who wrote about Jonestown could have written about anything, and they chose an incredibly compelling, incredibly smart story to dramatize.

(People submitting to the Fringe Festival for next year, take notice: The people chosing the plays seem to like sperm bank plotlines. Just a bug in your ear.)

“The Last Detail”- Two guys transporting another to jail and the various characters they meet in 1970s America. I don’t ask for much, and this seems like just barely enough to get me to go. I just want people revealing themselves, that’s it.

Okay, there are about thirty musicals in this year’s festival so..

“LULU”- It’s set in the silent movie era and the score is lush and jazzy. Better than anything claiming to be a “TeknoPopera”. I’m serious, that’s the quote. “Mankynde” can also swing.

“The Pet Goat Convention”- The name alone, and I’ll come see it. Not a musical? Awesome, I’m there.

“Project”- Okay, this is what I want. Four businessmen fighting for control of something. Perfect.

Look, I’m sure it all has a place, but that circus clown bullshit just doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t want to see improv, I don’t want to see one person shows. I just don’t. I wrote one and decided not to perform it, it just isn’t my thing. I want to see people.

I know, I know, it’s a “Fringe” festival or whatever, but the truth is that a lot of this is leftist shock talk or young person navel gazing. What on earth could someone under the age of 60 have to talk about for two hours? If you aren’t Elaine Stritch, I don’t want to come see your goddam one man show, even if you play twenty characters.

Also, the best writers in the world live to write, the best actors live to act, the best directors live to direct. I’m not saying you can’t do two or three of these things, I’m just saying that if you are doing more than one, don’t be surprized if you are better at one than the other, and that someone else would be better than you at the thing you aren’t as good at. So, if you’re doing two or three of these things, one of them is being done not as well as it could be.

The preceeding is, of course, not true for my company. But that’s why we’re better than everyone.


“Reconstruction”- A married couple rebuilds their marriage and never leaves their bed. See? Is there a motorcycle? No. Is there assinine snide commentary about the state of our nation? No. I’m going to this.

(Another piece of advice: The Fringe *loves* if you talk shit about Reality TV. And “a one-(person) show about growing up (fill in ethnicity) in a (major urban center)(fill in opposing ethnicity) ghetto” so you could have “a one-goat show about growing up Hassidic in a Chicago Shiite Ghetto” and you’ll be just fine.)

“Save The Goondocks”- You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. See my next blog on parody/satire.

“Sound Of The Estate”- I’m differing from Mac here (I think) because this actually sounds cool. Uncle Vanya set in a recording studio. I know, more home-team, but I gotsta

“Suicide/Joke”- I’ll be at every performance of this play, I promise you. Every single one. And every rehearsal.

(I just called Mac because I got to a play called “This is Murphy’s Law” and I lost my shit for a second. When I see that an Icelandic multimedia play got chosen over “Lucretia”, I’m okay with that, but this play had better win a goddam *obie* one day, or I’m gonna figure the procedure is totally random…)

“Training Wisteria”- It looks like a good divorce tragicomedy, and I loved shit like this. More divorce plays. And Jonestown musicals.

“Vampire Cowboy Trilogy”- See, this is a Fringe show. Weird ass kung-fu fighting film-noir spoof. I can totally get behind this.

“The WingDing Doodle Club”- Howdy Doody meets Dog Day Afternoon. Awesome.

“Young, Sexy and Talented”- Obviously I’ve run out of steam because I just jumped to the last two I would consider seeing and I jumped over all the stuff that made my blood boil. I will always like stories about people in acting class, especially if they are neurotic as hell. For me, that’s comic gold.

Okay, one more post, later, about goddam satire/parody and then no more about this festival.

Political idiot

Saturday, July 10th, 2004

I’m an idiot, so disregard what you’re about to read.

(Knuckle crack, Deep Sigh… Huge Inhalation)

Okay. There is apparently a segment of the population out there that believe that there is a lot of information about terrorism that Bush has and we just gotta trust him, he knows what he’s doing. There were WMDs in Iraq, there is a pretty concrete connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and there are definitely terrorists in the U.S. who are willing to blow themselves up in order to stop our freedom.

So much of the proof of these things is wrapped up in the information community, and if we tell the American people what we know, we will also be tipping our hand to our enemy. If we release the names of the Al Qaeda members living in the States, then they’ll know they’re being watched, if we reveal the full breadth of our WMD knowledge we will be risking the lives of people in sensitive intelligence positions.

Seriously. People believe this, and these people aren’t stupid people. These are good people who have found a way to double-think their way into continuing support for the President. I can’t prove they’re wrong, I personally feel like the burden of proof should be the President’s, but, as I said, I’m an idiot and plenty of smart people know more than I do and believe the things I wrote above.

Here’s my question. though. These are the same people who want to dismantle social programs because, as the argument has been put to me so many times in the past, our government is inept at handling social injustices. We can’t feed our hungry or house our poor because the government is a huge beaurocratic monster that can’t deal with finesse projects. And our government can’t be trusted to use our money to help curb social ills any better than we could if we kept our money and dealt with these problems on a person-to-person basis.

Unless it has anything to do with sex. Then, these people believe that morality should be legislated by the same group of people that are incapable of funding the arts. We should be making sure that public funds are put towards educating children about not doing any natural acts. The same government that is supposed to be too inept to legislate away homelessness, hunger and desparation is being asked to legislate away gayness, sex for any means other than reproduction and the word “fuck”.

I understand that not all of these ideas are mutually exclussive, but you so-called “libertarians” that are voting for Bush are dumber than I am. And Republicans, get your shit straight. Either you are a big government, fiscally irresponsible religious zealot, which means you should vote for Bush, or you’re not and you should vote for someone else. Why is it that none of you pro-smaller government, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage people realize that you can’t be the last two if you’re the first one?

Whatever. Ignore this post as well. I know why you’re voting for Bush, it’s because you’re scared, and I’m scared as well. My fear is stupid, I can’t get on a plane any more. We all saw the planes hit the towers and for some reason, I’m scared of planes and you chose the smarter route and you’re scared of Arabs. I understand. So vote to support the war, kill anyone you want, but protect my rights and we’ll be cool. I’ll think you’re wrong, but we can still get dinner or whatever.