Thursday, October 27, 2005

I like me! Right now I really like me!

As part of the new HR/benefits program designed by a bunch of consultants who've probably never worked at a real job in their entire lives, we are now required to write a self-evaluation of our work for the current year.

I was thinking of going the humble route, but fuck that. It occurs to me that my job gets steadily more complex and my pay remains maddeningly the same. So I'm about to write the most pro-me thing I've ever written.

But just to be on the safe side, I think I won't mention my ability to put up with bullshit, navel-gazing, burdensome administrative requirements that have nothing to do with my actual day-to-day job.

Wise move?

What kind of bullshit do you have to put up with in your job?

UPDATE: So do you think I'll get extra points for the sarcasm and pointed digs about how some employees who make more money are held to much lower standards than the rest of us? Or maybe the part where I said that no one has ever bothered to define what the expectations of my job are? This is probably not going to be a fun review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rainy Days and Weekdays Always Get Me Down

I've been feeling low recently. Not my mood, which thanks to my lodger, Patrick, has been remarkably buoyant (I'd forgotten how nice it is just to have someone to talk to at the end of the day).

But for whatever reason, the weather, work, etc., I've been feeling so damn tired. Just worn out. All I want to do after work is sit on the sofa and watch TV or go to bed. And it takes everything I can muster to get out of bed in the morning. My arms and legs feel like lead and there are times I wonder if I can make it up the stairs at the end of the day.

This might make sense if I were a laborer of some sort, but I'm a desk jockey.

Anyway, hopefully the weather will change and I'll start feeling better.

My dare/goal/pledge/whatever has been shot to shit. I haven't done anything since last week. But I had a pretty good run, so I'm still coming out of this ahead. Now I just need to get back in the groove.

Last night I watched Another Country (which was based on a play, so maybe that should count for the dare . . . ). Cary Elwes, while certainly still a looker, was so beautiful in that movie (he was 21 or 22 when it was filmed). After that, I watched the first couple of episodes of Six Feet Under.

I'm loving Netflix. Tonight will probably be more SFU and Yossi and Jagger. Then, I start my Buffy/Six Feet Under/Desperate Housewives marathon. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Haikuesday again
Funny, no word from these guys
Up to me, I guess

But I am tired
Inspiration escapes me
I need a long nap

Friday, October 21, 2005

Day 20: Beeeoooowuuuuulf!!!!!

In one of Mike's posts a couple of months back, he mentions seeing 'Thrill Me', a musical based on Leopold and Loeb. He says that during a song about how to handle an interrogation, he had the urge to sing 'When Velma takes the stand'. Well, I had a moment like that last night at 'Beowulf' at the Irish Repertory Theater.

Billed as a 'rock opera', the show was entirely sung. During one of the scenes, the Danes are singing praises to Beowulf and keep singing his name Beeeoooo-wuuuuulf which is then followed by a pause and the singing starts up again.

During the pause I said to myself 'Superstar' and had a giggle fit. Because it worked perfectly. Beowulf Superstar, do you think you're who they say you are.

At that point, the show was effectively over for me.

So rather than write a review, because the reviews I've read pretty much nail the shows problems, I submit this in the spirit of Gerard Alessandrini and Forbidden Broadway.

To the tune of 'Superstar' from 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Ever since the lights went down I don't understand
How you let this threadbare show get so out of hand.
You'd have managed better if you'd had a plan.
Why'd you choose an epic poem set in such a strange land?
The audience today just wants a mental vacation.
Trying to be deep will only lead to mass frustration.

Boy, you got it wrong.
I've got to tell you so.

Beowulf, Superstar,
What kind of show do you think you are?
Beowulf, Superstar
Medieval rock opera's too bizarre.

Stole some Andrew Lloyd when you were writing this show
Julie Taymor, Bunraku and Japanese No
Martial arts and Riverdance to all our chagrin.
All the periods and cultures, even Brantley's head would spin.
Did you mean this show to tank? Was that a mistake, or
Did you think this bad pastiche could be a record breaker?

Boy, you got it wrong
I've got to tell you so.

Beowulf, Superstar
What kind of show do you think you are?
Beowulf, Superstar
Stole from your peers but it's still subpar.

Okay, I'm not exactly ready to be submitting my stuff to Forbidden Broadway, but it was fun to write.

And in the spirit of saying something nice about the show, I point out two good things. First, there is a scene where a puppet dragon walks through the audience to fight the heroes on the stage. It was a wonderful effect. Second, the guy playing Beowulf was cute and had a really nice voice.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day 19

Best laid plans, et cetera.

Anyway, tonight I'm getting back on track by seeing Beowulf at the Irish Repertory Theater. Today's New York Times review referred to it as "abysmal".

So who wants my extra ticket?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Great Night (Day 18)

Day 18 - did nothing, but I will be back on track today, come hell or high water.

Although I did no writing, etc., last night, it was a 'good for my soul and sanity' night. I started with a cocktail party (sponsored by Drambuie) at a club in the Village. I met up with Mike and his roommate and had a really nice time. Good conversationalists, those two.

Afterwards, I went to Barrage to meet up with some of the other blogger boys (and girls) to enjoy the company of Bob, who was in town for a couple of days. It was just the tonic I needed for my recent bad mood. It was a funny, chatty, boozy, grabby, silly evening and I had a terrific time.

Then back home with my houseguest and I called it a night.

Today I awoke feeling happy and refreshed (and a little hungover, but it was totally worth it). But I'm sure after a few hours of work, I'll be back to my usual grumpy self.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Australia says no to chicken choking for children.

Day 17

Didn't do a goddamn thing. I was too busy putting in an 11-hour day at work and then doing some cleaning around the house in order to convince my houseguest that I'm not really a huge slob.

I've got stuff going on tonight as well, so I may not be back on track with the theater stuff until Wednesday.


Okay fine.


Christ on a cracker!
How can it possibly be?
The year will end soon.

How? Where has it gone?
Time flies when you're having fun.
Wait. Did I have fun?

Just the same old thing,
Day after day of work and
Night after night, too.

My mind in the past,
Future, or what might have been
Anywhere but now

No wonder time flew
Leaving me alone

So now a challenge:
Live in the moment, aware
That time is fleeting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Days 14-16

Didn't do as much as I'd hoped. I did a little writing on Friday, just working on a scene that was stuck in my head rather than working on one of my ongoing plays. Saturday was a busy day (dim sum, a tech expo, dinner and a movie with some of the bloggers and pals) but I did manage to read A Lesson Before Dying by Romulus Linney. Good play, but I wish I'd seen it staged.

Sunday . . . well, technically I didn't do anything that counted under the dare, but I was trying desperately to get the apartment somewhat habitable for my guest who will be arriving tomorrow. Those of you who know me know that I'm basically the lost Collyer brother. So I'm trying to get things put away so I have room to break out the air mattress. Not a fun job.

Anyway, I can sort of claim that I did something on Sunday, because at long last, I have managed to get all of my theater and writing books unpacked and easy to get to. And frankly that goes a long way as far as helping me write. So, yeah, I guess it counts.

This week will be tough to stay on track, but I'll see what happens. Maybe I'll start writing on my lunch breaks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Day 13

So I'm guessing from the lack of comments that you guys have gotten a little bored with this. Ah, well. Maybe I'll post a sexy picture or something to stir things up a bit. Then again, I'll be getting a temporary roomie soon, so maybe that will liven things up.

Yesterday was just right as far as this dare/goal goes. I managed to do some writing (only about 30 minutes or so), but I did sketch out a scene I've been toying with and write out some "action items" (as they say in consultant-speak) for some of my other work.

Speaking of the scene I'm working on, did any of you go to a Catholic High School, preferably all male? If so, can I pick your brain a little?

Other than the writing, I went to see Deviant by A. Rey Pamatmat at the Sanford Meisner Theater. Great, great, great, great, great! This was the kind of theater I moved to New York to see (and, of course, to write). Simple open set, a couple of multi-functional furniture pieces, not much in the way of costumes, props, etc. The director, Kara-Lynn Vaeni, placed all the focus on the actors. And they were fantastic.

This was a four person show. The story follows a couple, Sara (Jennifer Lim) and Valerie (Courtnie Sauls), who find out their new roommate, James (Daniel Zaitchik), supports his Ph.D. studies by hustling. The fourth character, Wayne (Jacob Blumer), is one of James' pick-ups who starts to turn into something more. It explores any number of things: language and communication, families, prejudice, love, hiding, fear, need, desire, art, academics. The play had lots of non-realistic touches: dream/fantasy sequences, monologues, a dream play, flash-backs. It worked to make this a beautiful, complex play. And if I were an actor, this is the sort of thing I'd want to do. And as a writer, the show really touched me. I loved the theatricality of it, the language, the textures.

Like I said, I was blown away by the acting, or rather, by the fact that the actors never seemed to be acting. They were so in the moment and so true to their characters, that there was nothing artificial about them. Even during the play's many dream/fantasy sequences, where the characters identities became fluid as the dream dictated, they were real to whatever character they were called upon to be and to the style of acting that the dream imposed on them.

Okay, rereading that, I realize it probably makes no sense. Sorry about that. But sometimes it's hard to put abstract feelings into words. Just take my word for it, the acting was great.

The sets, as I said, were simple, but they worked well. The costumes were just right and there was a terrific use of a mask during Sara's dream sequence. The lighting was well done, too (this was a pleasant change after having a wayward light shining in my face during the reading of Orestes on Monday), especially during the various non-realistic scenes.

All in all, as I said, this is exactly the kind of show I moved here to see. I think it only runs through next week, so you should go see it soon. It was well worth it, even having to schlepp over to 11th Avenue in the pouring rain.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Day 12

So last night I worked on one of my plays (and a few little odds and ends). I would have gotten more accomplished, but I watched Lost and went to bed really early. Good thing, as luck would have it, since a young, ethnic couple decided to have a screaming match at 5 a.m. in front of my building.

On the upside, since I was already awake, I managed to get to work an hour early today. Woo hoo.

Back to the plays, I've got to say that this experiment/dare/whatever to do something related to theater every day has been helpful. I've seen 8 shows so far this month (with another one planned for tonight) and I've read 5. Plus I've worked on two of my own. I feel like I'm moving forward for the first time in a while. Nice to have goals, even nicer to be steadily moving toward them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Day 11

Well, I didn't write last night after all. I got a ticket to Forbidden Broadway: SVU. Very funny, as expected. I've seen five or so of the FB series. The performers were very talented (and one was pretty darn hot) and the parodies were very funny.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Day 10

I went to see a reading of Anne Washburn's adaptation of Orestes produced by Red Bull Theater (a really great group that produces 'heightened language plays' with a special focus on Elizabethan and Jacobean plays).

I have to say, while I appreciated Ms. Washburn's way with language and her sense of whimsy, I didn't much care for the show. It was played for laughs and I just don't think tragedy works when the audience has ironic distance. It was cute and clever (in the original sense of that word), but it was more like a spoof of Orestes than an adaptation.

That being said, two of the actors, Jennifer Dundas as Elektra/Tyndareus and Thomas Jay Ryan as Helen of Troy/Menelaus/Pylades/Trojan Slave, were amazing and had a wonderful way with the language and a dramatic flair. I also thought it was very well directed by Johanna McKeon.

I'm glad I saw it and it gave me some ideas for a play I've been working on, so it certainly wasn't a waste of time.

Since I've been seeing lots of theater and not writing much, I'm going to write tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 9

Didn't write again, as such, but I did jot down a few ideas for shows. It's a step in the right direction.

Otherwise, my theater stuff on Sunday was seeing The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Dodger Stages and Naked Macbeth at the Sonnet Theater.

I went into Trailer Park with no real expectations. Some friends had liked it, others hadn't, so I went into it a blank slate. I thought it was great. Fun and silly with catchy songs, it was a great diversion. I just wish they'd been selling the cast album, because some of the lyrics were hilarious and I wanted to listen to them again. But this show is definitely worth seeing, especially if you're from the South. I was impressed with all the actors, set, costumes . . . really, just about everything.

Naked Macbeth was good, not great, but I will give the director credit for going out on a limb. Personally, I'd rather go see a version like this where the director is trying to make the show fresh, than to see a technically perfect show with no vision.

The cast was all male and as the title indicates, there was some nudity, but the 'naked' really referred to the stripped down version of the show. Minimal sets, lighting, props, sound . . . just the things that were necessary. Also, some of the dialogue was cut leaving a fairly fast-moving, tight play.

My biggest problem with the show was that some of the actors just weren't up to the task of working with Shakespeare's language. Some of them were great: Jonty Valentine as Lady Macbeth really knew how to work the language and to be dramatic and feminine without overplaying either; Nathan Perry as Banquo who also seemed at ease with the language and carried himself with the swagger of a warrior backed up with a good heart and keen mind . . . if that isn't present, it makes Banquo's murder less terrible. Unfortunately, others were unable to master the language and that brought the show's pacing down.

I really admire the director, Russell Taylor, for some of the choices he made. I don't think all of them worked, but it made the show interesting. When the house opened, three of the actors were arranged in a tableau that was jarring, but effectively set the mood. He used one actor, Jack McGowan, to play all three Weird Sisters. Not something I would have thought of, but in a lot of respects it worked. The way he set up the cauldron scene (he doesn't use a cauldron . . . I won't say how he does it, but it's really a great idea) and the placement of the line 'Lay on, Macduff' were really clever. He also combined a number of the lesser characters into one Attendant role which was interesting in that it created this double agent who was working for Macbeth and against him. Again, not a choice I would have made, but it did add a new twist to the show.

Other problems I had were the costumes, which seemed to lack a central vision or theme (they ran the gamut from 'This is Spinal Tap' to GI Joe to Dungeons & Dragons), a kiss and a familiarity between Macbeth and Banquo that hinted at a relationship that was beyond platonic, but wasn't fully explored, and a Duncan who didn't really come off as sympathetic (he seemed dismissive and there was kind of a creepy vibe between him and his son, Donalbain). Not sure if that was a director or actor choice, but if Duncan isn't sympathetic, it takes some of the horror out of Macbeth's murdering him.

Overall, though, I think the show is worth seeing. Plus people should get out and support shows that take risks, otherwise theater becomes stagnant.

But if you do, bring a cushion to sit on . . . the chairs in the theater are terrible.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day 8

Read John Patrick Shanley's Doubt. Very powerful. Must see it on Broadway.

And yes, Shanley's a great writer. Pulitzer. Academy Award. But please remember, he also wrote the screenplay for Congo. And he'll be in Purgatory for a while for that one.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tee hee

Today's Savage Chickens cartoon made me laugh.

One of my roommates in grad school was one of the most malapropian sons-of-bitches in the world. He would then justify his use of the completely incorrect word by claiming that language was fluid and that his new use of the word simply added to the existing meaning of the word.

This justification used to drive me batshit crazy.

So when he wasn't around, I'd teabag his toothbrush.


Or am I?

Day 7

I wrote a review of The Bubble and submitted it to one of the online theater sites. If they pick it up, I'll get paid and will have to give up my amateur status.

My only other theater experience today will be to attend this cabaret act. I'm so excited I could just pee. Though, God willing, I won't.

Day 6 (continued)

So Absurd Person Singular was cute. Clever concept, like all of Ayckbourn's plays.

The play follows three couples at Christmas. Each of the three acts is set in a different couple's kitchen in a different consecutive year. As I said, typical Ayckbourn. He likes to play with location or with some other aspect of the play to make that the central conceit around which the play runs.

And it was fine. A good cast, Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller, Spin City), Clea Lewis, Miereille Enos (who was in the recent Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf), Sam Robards, Deborah Rush (Strangers with Candy), and Paxton Whitehead.

Lots of funny bits, but ultimately a bit of a trifle. Worth seeing, mind you, but easily forgotten.

And while it has nothing to do with playwriting, I watched Harry and Max last night. Good movie. Interesting concept. A little disturbing, but I really enjoyed it. And Cole Williams is adorable. I had forgotten that he was in L.T.R. in Boys Life 4 (mostly because it wasn't very good). Still, it will be interesting to see where his talent takes him.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Counting tonight's show and the two shows I'll be seeing this weekend, I will have seen five shows in the past two weeks using my Play by Play membership.

That means I will have saved $361 off the regular ticket prices (this takes into account that I bought two tickets for some of the shows . . . yes, occasionally people are willing to tolerate my presence, especially for free theater tickets).

So far this year I've seen 13 shows using them. What a great deal this has turned out to be.


Okay, I can't go because I have the ticket to the Ayckbourn play and had the date wrong for this event, but if you are free then you should go to:


Call the theatre's main # at 212-247-4982.
They should answer between 10 - 6, M-F.
Tell them you are making a reservation for the OCTOBERFEST project VANISHING POINT on October 6 at 8:30 pm in the 2nd Floor Mainstage theatre. The address is 549 West 52nd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues (closer to 11th, on the north side of the street. There is a Blue Banner above the entrance that says Ensemble Studio Theatre)

This show by Rob Hartmanm (a wonderful writer and boyfriend of this man) is amazing. I saw it last year at the Symphony Space (read about it here and here).

It is really a brilliant show. To give you an idea, I saw it one time over a year ago, and there is a song that I find myself humming from time to time now. Go see it, you won't be disappointed.

Day 6 (so far)

The nice thing about public transportation and getting stood up for lunch is that there is time to read a play or two. I read Terrence McNally's The Stendhal Syndrome which is made up of two short plays: Full Frontal Nudity and Prelue & Leibestod.

Amazing stuff. I love McNally. He's up there with Tom Stoppard and Christopher Durang as my favorite playwrights.

So even if I don't manage to write tonight . . . and as God is my witness, I shall write tonight . . . I'll still have kept up with my program.

UPDATE: Well, a ticket to Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn just fell in my lap (not literally), so I guess I won't be doing any writing tonight. But I will very likely be doing some laughing.

Day 5

No writing last night; I think my muse has been sick. So instead I read three plays by Jonathan Tolins: The Last Sunday in June, If Memory Serves, and Twilight of the Golds.

More about them later.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Day 4

Last night I didn't feel like writing, so I read Julia Cho's BFE, a very interesting play.

From the show's press release: "An Asian American family attempts to escape its stifling Arizonan home life in BFE, which tells the story of Panny, a spunky fourteen year-old; her socially awkward uncle; her homebound mom who fantasizes about General MacArthur; and the serial killer that stalks their neighborhood in search of bubbly blondes. A cautionary tale about the devastating effects of an image-obsessed society, BFE calls into question the nature of beauty and desirability in contemporary America."

Really odd, really theatrical, but really good. I wish I could have seen it onstage.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I Will Dare Myself

So my goal for the month of October is to do something every day that moves my playwriting forward. This can include going to see a show (as I did on the first and second of the month) or actually working on my plays (which I did last night).

So here are a couple of mini-reviews.

Short Eyes: This was a staged reading at the Public Theater. Pretty interesting play, though it sort of suffers being presented now that prison dramas like Oz have been somewhat mainstreamed (some of the actors in this reading were, in fact, Oz alumni). But I can see how it would have been shocking in its time. The acting was a little uneven; some of the actors were amazing, some appeared to be reading the script for the first time. But still, a well-spent evening.

The Bubble by Frank J. Avella at the New Cockpit Ensemble: I really liked it, but I don't think it will be everyone's cup of tea. The play is in three sections: first, a playwright (Joe Pistone) struggling to create a show and having to deal with his characters who don't really appreciate his efforts and are willing to let him know it; second, the same playwright, now in rehearsals of his show, constantly reworking everything to the actors' distraction and having to deal with his own personal drama; and finally, the play itself, where the playwright (or rather the character he wrote based on himself) deals with his life and his family. I think anyone who has struggled with the creative process will appreciate the play. And the plays within the play.

A clever show, good cast, a hot naked guy . . . all it needed was an audience. It was very poorly attended the day I saw it, and though the actors gave it their all, you can only do so much without feedback. Go see it. Hell, just for the cute naked guy if nothing else.

The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummell: Holy fuck, what a great show! This was another staged reading at the Public Theater of a Viet Nam War era play. It was amazing. The cast was strong (especially Chris Messina in the title role . . . you'll remember him as Ted, the lawyer who eventually married Claire on Six Feet Under), the direction (by Philip Seymour Hoffman) was well-done, the audience was into it, and the play itself was really riveting.

I had two celebrity sightings at the theater: Philip Seymour Hoffman, who brushed up against me as he went down to the stage to congratulate (I would assume) the actors, and Ben Curtis, most recently in Joy and formerly in Dell commercials, who sadly did not brush up against me at all.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Strangers with Gavels

I've never really thought of President Bush as a really off-the-wall, think-outside-the-box sort of guy, but how else to explain his nomination of Jerri Blank to the Supreme Court?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

August Wilson

I didn't always agree with his views, but he was an amazing playwright and a giant of the theater. His vision and voice will be missed. Rest in peace.