Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

30 June 2004

The Daily Shrew Update

I got an e-mail from Vanessa today saying that she thinks we ought to have a Friday rehearsal.  We are not.  I don't know why she even thought of it.  I don't even think we need it.  What we need to do is get the motherfucking piano off of the stage and round up some goddamned rehearsal props.

We had a run-thru last night for the first time.  I guess people kinda panic on the first run-thru, but that's because they're not sure what to expect from a a first run-thru.  There is generally way more confusion and frustration on a first run-thru than we had at ours last night.  A lot of the people are still on book, which is, quite frankly, pretty unforgiveable.  I mean, I forgive Michael because this was still only his seventh day of rehearsal, but for Greg and Brittney, there truly is no excuse.  So Acts Four and Five really do suck... but this is not something I can fix by adding a rehearsal.  This is something that needs to be fixed tonight and tomorrow night during our normal scheduled rehearsal.  In actual fact, I was very encouraged by last night's rehearsal.  I took four and a half pages of notes... which is an excellent sign of good things.  It's the actor-y things that still frustrate me... like people fucking up blocking and not having lines memorized.  Grr to those people.

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 7:05a by the tree-trimming that was happening directly underneath my window.

This morning it was the people in the unit above me, who decided to repair their shower beginning at 7:55a.

Sleep, where dost thou reside?  I miss thee.

29 June 2004


I am currently reading Sylvia Plath's book of poems Ariel. It is so fucking great. It's chilling and terrifying and yet draws this beautiful picture of a yearning for love. These poems are like gorgeous, alabaster bowls; white and empty.

This is from a poem of hers that I read today at lunch called Totem:

White towers of Smithfield ahead,
Fat haunches and blood on their minds.

There is no mercy in the glitter of cleavers,
The butcher's guillotine that whispers, "How's this, how's this?"

In the bowl the hare is aborted,
Its baby head out of the way, embalmed in spice,

Flayed of fur and humanity.
Let us eat it like Plato's afterbirth,

Let us eat it like Christ.
These are the people that were important—

I Love Actors

Just finished watching the AFI Tribute to Meryl Streep.  They gave her their lifetime achievement award and showed clips from so many of her films.  Her body of work is just so fucking astounding.  What a brilliant fricking actress.  Mike Nichols presented the award.  You know, it's not even that so many of her performances are great, and almost all of them are... it's the films that she chose: I remember so many of them with so much affection: Deer Hunter and Kramer vs. Kramer and Manhattan and that was just in the 1970's.  Then there was Sophie's Choice and Out of Africa and Silkwood and A Cry in the (the dingo took my baby) Dark and The Bridges of Madison County and The Hours.  Wow.  So many great, great movies.

James Ferguson called me tonight.  We had fun.  He, like Allan, always reminds me that I am a living, working artist and that I ought to think of myself as one.  James is always thinking of forms and styles and we can actually talk about plays.  He is so awesome, and, in a lot of ways, my hero.

To bed.

28 June 2004

U. S. Supreme Court Wrap-up

I canceled rehearsal.

I went to the grocery and then went home and made a cake.

Cheers, I say. 

I called Madison and Brantley to see if maybe I could drop by, but no one answered, so I will stay here and maybe go out later to the cinema.

It was good I was here, I was able to help Eddie with his Accounting homework.  Who knew?

It is nearing the end of the U.S. Supreme Court's term before summer break, so they are releasing all kinds of opinions.  Today the hugely important rulings in the Hamdi and Padilla cases came down.  The court continually seems to be splitting in different ways.  These splits (who is in the plurality, who concurs, who dissents) seem to be much less political and much more personal to each of the justices.  Normally I am firmly on the side of my favorite justice: J. Sandra Day O'Connor.  Today, however, I find myself disagreeing with my favorite justice and firmly on the side of (gasp!) J. Antonin Scalia.

No one should be surprised at this court's continual insistence and expansion of its own power.  And yet I find NPR's commentators talking about that very thing and acting as though it were a surprise that the court insists on broading the scope of its own authority.  J. Kennedy's tendency to do this was even pointed out to me over a month ago by my father.  The court ruled in favor of Mr. Hamdi and in direct opposition to the Bush administration in the Hamdi case and it was right to do so.  The docket will say that there are 6 'for' and 3 'against,' but if you read carefully, you find that JJ. Scalia and Stevens agree with the majority about the administration's right to hold American citizens without access to the courts.  Only J. Thomas holds out: crazy, weird-o that he is.

The problem here is J. O'Connor's ruling, which is pragmatic, just, and on all points morally correct.  The ruling's problem is that it has nothing to do with the rule of law and everything to do with the rule of the Judiciary.  This is, in my opinion, not the role of the Judiciary.  I wouldn't go around calling this an "activist court" as so many idiots in this country do, my father included.  That is, simply put, moronic.  They are not activists.  Rather, the Rehnquist Court believes in its own ability to mete out justice more than it believes in Congress's ability to mete out justice, and seemingly a great deal more than it believes in the Bush administration to mete out justice.  The Court accordingly chooses to increase its own ability to mete out justice and curb the authorities of Congress and the Executive Branch to do so.

It is a risky thing that they do.  I have complete faith in the judiciary, but I will say this: I do not think that this is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they created the Judiciary.  Not that it matters.  The U.S. Supreme Court is simply that: supreme.  Efforts to get around the juggernaut of its power will fail.

Group Affirmation Like "Yes, Y'all"

I love this new cd!  I am listing to Center: Level: Roar by the Youngblood Brass Band.  Seriously this is the coolest fucking sound.  Visit the website and listen to some of the free music they have there.  It's next-level shit.

Here are some of their lyrics:
dream something and we’ll play it
next melody drifting downriver
sun-dressed and -kissed and -shone for new b-boys
no one ever dies
not in my sky
we are soaring so simply it’s missed by reason and exists as silent song
artists wake up human
to put attitude and violence on
put off tomorrow
what say we say what we mean to feel
more often
i’m real sure
i’m less shot
i steal words from hiphop like ‘what’
but i love it like you
don’t you love it when it’s like you
and we say ‘that’s my jam’ because it is
because it’s like that
when it’s like you
giving group affirmation like ‘yes y’all’
and it goes on
because you don’t stop
because if you did
the world would fall apart and these beats would return to the womb of the universe where they’d wait another six billion years for life to sound like ‘boom-bap’ again
so move...

Rehearsal will be canceled tonight if we don't have a Vincentio.  But no one can get ahold of the producer who never has his phone on...

Vanessa is stressing out.  I'm not.  I had a nice, relaxing weekend, and life is good.

26 June 2004

So... Much... Wine...

Today, Jen, Jeremy, Justin, Elizabeth, Aaron, Kim and I went to Temecula to go wine-tasting for Elizabeth's birthday.  Do make a note that it was three couples and then little ol' me.  The couple thing was actually okay... not difficult at all.  It's a whole different story, I guess, when I get along well with everyone.  I can be quite sociable if I like the entire party.  Wine tasting was a blast.  What a fun way to spend a day!  We went to the Falkner winery first, where I bought a lovely bottle of Syrah.  Then we went to the Wilson Creek winery next which was also really nice.  They are famous for their almond champagne, but they also had a lovely Cabernet, a very nice Port, and the most fabulous Sherry in the world.  I cannot exaggerate the deliciousness of this Sherry.  Their Muscat was also nice.  Now the first winery afforded us the tasting of seven wines plus Aaron gave me one of his, so I had eight.  The second winery afforded us five tastes.  I had these five and then purchased a glass of the port in a chocolate shot-glass.  I also "forgot" once to give them my ticket, so I had an extra (oops).  So I had seven at the second winery.  By the third winery I was definitely talkative.  The third winery was not that good.  I forget what it was called, even.  They had a so-so Muscat and that was it.  Their Zin was not good at all.  But I really didn't care by this point, and I don't think anyone else did either.  We went to still another winery (Callaway), though, and drank another four glasses there.  Lotsa wine.  Wine-a-plenty, even.

It was a lovely day and a great way to celebrate a birthday.  I would recommend an outing like this for any group of friends.

Yesterday, as I left for work, Jill called me and suggested Disneyland.  It was okay.  I rode the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  I think I'm still unsure why there's a Twilight Zone tie-in.  I've never seen the show, but I think the ride would have been just as scarier if there were no Twilight Zone tie-in.  I think the whole Hollywood Hotel/Barton Fink thing is scary enough as it is.  Maybe it would have been scarier if I had seen the show once or twice... I dunno?  Comments?

I'm exhausted, though.  I didn't get enough sleep last night 'cause I got home late from the Land called Disney and I had to get up and meet my friends for the wine-tasting outing, so I's tired.

I got home today to a new Netflix movie, and the new CD by the Youngblood Brass Band.  I'm going to watch a movie now... I might even go to bed kinda early.

25 June 2004

Sex on the Beach

Last night, as every night, rehearsal was supposed to start at 6:30p.  The same actors are on time every day, and the same actors are late every fucking day.  It's really just Greg who pisses me off.  Maybe this is because he's not doing as well as the other actors (though he is doing better).  But why is it that the same actors are late every day and the same actors are on time every day.  If you're late every day, doncha think you might want to leave a tad bit earlier!  Grr.  I was livid.

I almost turned blue.  Really.  Okay, no, not really.

Rehearsal really did go quite well, though.  The actors are so surprised at how fast each of the scenes are without me interrupting (!).  Dan said, "Each scene seems so long."  Because of how frequently I have been stopping them, they have this idea that each scene simply lasts forever.  But in reality, the show isn't long to begin with, and my cuts are going to make the whole thing come in at c. 90-100 minutes.  After the normal rehearsal, Brittney and Mike and I stayed and worked on that lovely Act 2 meeting scene again.  Mike has such good instincts.  As soon as he gets the book out of his hand, he's gonna be great.

So whenever I try to get Michael to do something sexual onstage, he kind of quiets down and kills the energy of the scene by lowering his voice and his intonation and everything.  I don't mean that he's shy about sex or anything, he just gets all low-voiced and flat.  Yesterday I figured out why.  So I had Brittney on stage, and I said to Michael, "I think we're having a bit of a miscommunication.  And this is what I think it is: sex to you is gentle and sweet and full of love and sincerity and kindness.  You touch her hair, lower your voice, talk to her nicely.  Sex to me is this:" I said, and then grabbed Brittney, pushed her agaist the wall, etc.  "I want you to be rough and loud.  I want you to make noise and treat her like an object," I said.  Brittney nodded.  I think he got the idea.  The whole situation got a lot better after that.  But how funny!  It's amazing what a director can notice if he's paying attention.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that "sex" means something so different to two similarly-aged males.  That word carries so much stuff with it.

After rehearsal, I went and got food with and  down in Playa de las Focas.  We had a nice time and I bought Danny a shot for his birthday.

Benjamin Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu Benjamin Netanyahu.  Say that three times fast, I dare you.

24 June 2004

Lazy Eyes and Marathon Men

I had a rather long conversation with my mother last night on the way to rehearsal. My mother doesn't talk on the phone ever, so it was an achievement just on that front, really. But I communicated to her how I feel about Michael and Deborah and everything that happened on Sunday that made me leave their house so early. I was having second thoughts about telling her all of that stuff, but she seemed genuinely glad that I was at sharing it with her. Her suggestions were helpful and kind and she is in pretty much the same boat as I, although she responds in a different way (i.e. getting angry as opposed to getting sad.)

I was invited to Jeremy's party last night, but at the last minute I decided not to go. It's just so far, and after driving miles and miles to Long Beach, driving miles and miles out of my way before driving miles and miles home just seemed so tiring. Directing exhausts me anyway, and last night seemed to be more exhausting than usual. (When I'm saying, "You should move right of him instead of left when you do that cross," and then the stage manager says, "That's actually the blocking," I know we have a problem. Don't actors write these things down?)

I did something out of the ordinary when I got home. I opened my mail and Marathon Man had just come from Netflix. Eddie was in his room when I opened my front door, so the main room was empty and beckoning. I reheated some pizza, put my phone in my room, switched on the movie, and sat there for a little over two hours, engrossed in the film. Normally I would go straight to my room, kick off my shoes and surf the web, but because the room was free...

Marathon Man was great. I guess its only Oscar nomination was Laurence Olivier's performance, but I'm not sure why. What a great movie! The screenplay was tight and clever, the direction sure-footed, and Dustin Hoffman's performance was excellent. For that matter, I much preferred Roy Scheider's performance to Olivier's (though, of course, I tend to hate on Olivier more than I ought to.) Thanks for the recommendation, Justin. Sometimes you know how to pick 'em.

I was glad I came home and watched a film. I haven't done that in a while and I needed it. It felt good: like I was taking back something that was mine.

Shrew Update

I realized at some point yesterday during rehearsal that my directing theory for this show is some kind of crazed, MTV-style madness.  I seem possessed by some kind of ADD-affected tween that gets bored anytime no one's speaking onstage.  I'm probably right to treat the play this way.  Shakespeare's plays are all too long by today's theatrical standards and it's not just that they have too much going on and can't sum it all up quickly, the plays are actually padded, or at least feel padded.  Things are repeated and superfluous sequences abound. 
Yesterday I think I started to go a little nuts with the cast, and I am quite sure that they felt it.  The problems, I think, began with Greg being a half-hour late again (he was in a car accident this time, so there was an excuse, but still... I can't work if you ain't there, buddy.)  Dan was visibly frustrated and I feel so guilty about it.  The guilt just fills me up: I am wasting this actor's time.  I take responsibility for it and I ought to, I know.  But getting twenty people to be on time to a rehearsal is damn near impossible, I find, if one is not paying the actors.  They just have no reason to allow extra time or leave early to make sure they're there.  So Dan is frustrated and I feel guilty and helpless and frustrated too, but there really is nothing to be done. 

So I work on Dan's scenes (the ones without Greg), but even that is silly.  Dan and Ashley are the actors who are doing the best work in the show.  They are not the ones who need extra rehearsal.  I mean, we can keep rehearsing that stuff, but we've gone over that stuff the most of anything, and the two of them are near pitch-perfect as it is.  Zuriel was out sick again, too. 

Then we get to Act Two and the actors start fucking up the blocking.  The reason it's blocked is because these actors can't seem to block themselves.  So of course, I am looking at an absolute mess onstage.  Because if they're not doing my blocking, that means that they are not doing any blocking.  They don't know how.  So I have seven actors just standing on stage talking to one another, some of them still with books in hand.  It can be a little frustrating.  It got even worse when it was only Brittney and Mike on stage.  They completely fucked up their first meeting scene: a scene we blocked carefully and specifically.  I know that I need to be a little patient with Michael, seeing as how he's only been doing this two weeks and everybody else has been here four, but last night patience wasn't easy to come by.  After rehearsal, Mike and I stayed and talked about character for a long time.  Then we worked on a few of his monologues.  He is well aware that I want him to memorize his lines, like, yesterday.  And he will, I hope, soon.

We still, naturally, do not have a Vincentio.  We still have a piano onstage.  But John didn't give me any notes yesterday, and for that I was grateful.

22 June 2004

That Looks Gay

Our production meeting actually went very well today.  Inez has great costume ideas, and we all know I think Nick is a really cool producer.  He is such fun.  We joke and laugh and just generally talk nonsense.

John suggests that Grumio wear roller skates in Act 1 Scene 2.


If John ever gives me a suggestion I actually like I think I might pass out.

But we did schedule paper tech, the hang, focus, and the building of cues.

Inez and John have some sort of weird notion that actors are going to want to come help us do tech shit on their weekends.  Yeah.  Right. 

Boy was I in a mood today at rehearsal.  Brittney said, "that looks gay" at some point in the evening and I went off like a fire alarm.  "Oh, it's gay?" I asked.  "And by 'gay' you mean 'bad,' right?  So you think it's gay that you're coming in the same way you're exiting?  You don't like the idea of going out and coming in the same way?  OH!  You were making an allusion to anal sex.

It wasn't my finest hour.

I still don't have a Vincentio.  I could murder someone.  (We all know who.)  Tonight Kevin said, "When do you think you will have someone?"  I just laughed.

I think Act II is about 45 minutes long at this point.  That's a very good sign of things to come.  Tomorrow and Thursday we're doing Act I.

C is for Cookie

I always know to tune right out of a conversation when someone begins a sentence with, "I was watching FOX News the other day..."

The Phone

Talked to Andrew last night... mostly about my show and how it's going, and then we discussed Shakespeare in general for a while. He's doing a lot of film work, I guess. It was a good conversation. He's still mostly interested in acting and Shakespearean acting, and we have always had good conversations about theatre, so I suppose it went really well. Strangely, this is a topic that we can discuss without being emotional. It's as though we don't make this topic personal. The reason it's so strange is that it used to be the topic around which we would have our biggest fights. He and I would get so mad at one another. We would criticize the other's abilities so harshly. Sometimes we would stop speaking to one another for quite lengthy periods of time. I smile when I think of it now.
Now acting is the topic of choice. It is the positive stuff that is left between us.

After I hung up with Andy I talked to Debs for a little while. She and Jeff are back together. Woo Hoo! I love Deborah's boyfriend, and I'm glad he's back. She broke up with him like 5 months ago, but he is a persistent young man and I am glad he is. I think he's good for her.

Then Andrew called back and left me this long, insightful message about Shakespeare and why we always choose to set it somewhere else. Andy says that Shakespeare didn't deal with local specifics; he dealt with human interaction. Politics and localities didn't seem to interest him. And Andrew's right about this too... Shakespeare never left England. It's not like he knew about Verona or Padua or Messina or Venice. He didn't know shit about those places.

21 June 2004

4 Things I Hate About You.

Reasons I'm frustrated with John Zamora:

1. I still don't have a Vincentio.  It's week FOUR.

2. I still don't have rehearsal furniture.  It's week FOUR.  He tells me today that he'll get it as soon as I tell him what I need.  I respond that it was in the last rehearsal report that I sent out and the one before that and the one before that and the one before that.

3. The poster.  He asks me if I like it and then tells me I can't change it.  I tell him I love it.  Why even ask?  But one of the reasons this show is set on the beach is to sell the show.  Are there bathing suits on the poster?  Even a hint of skin?  Breasts?  Ass? Anything?  No.  Sand.  There's plenty of sand.  There's a wedding cake.  Lots of wedding cake.  It's actually a sand wedding cake.  There is no way I could not hate this poster.

4. He takes an attitude with me!  As if I am not doing my job or as if I am bugging him too much. 


I hope that the Shrew reference in the subject is not lost on you readers.

Cyn is such a trouper.  I am happy with her.  Actually, tonight the entire cast was helpful and mostly quiet.  They were patient with me, and I was in a fairly cantankerous mood when we began so it was very good of them.  And who knew it was possible... Kevin was funny.  He came up with some business that I laughed out loud at.  He told an old joke, but it's still funny.  Greg was on time (will wonders never cease).  I've decided that Dan is really really cute.  I'm not going to bother developing a crush on him or anything drastic like that, but he's really cute.

At some point today I said "Lies, Christina," and Shawn says, "I just watched that."  Homos!  I bet no one else even knew.  Yay for Pride Week.  Then I went on this whole kick about All About Eve, which I shan't go into here since I did the same thing in this forum just last week.

20 June 2004


Why should I apologize for disliking jokes about feces that Michael repeats from Dodgeball?  Why is it I that am villified because I didn't think The Terminal was funny?  (I don't think it was supposed to be funny, by the way.)  I hate this: my brother and my sister make fun of me for not enjoying toilet humor. 

Grr.  This is why I am wary of spending time with Michael.  It's not that he's a mean person, but making fun of me is a way of passing the time for my sister and him.  I had an entry earlier this week about lightening up about this sort of thing, but it comes across as so malicious.  I just don't know how to enjoy laughing at myself.  I don't think I'm ridiculous and I actually don't like it that some other people think I am ridiculous.  Everyone reading this probably thinks I really am quite ridiculous and 'How can I not notice?'  But I think I see myself as essentially a really sincere person.  I tell the truth almost all of the time, and the idea that how I feel or what I'm thinking is funny rubs me the wrong way and actually makes me a little sad.

Hmm.  Maybe I should lighten up.

Red Right (Wing) Hand

Yesterday, after sleeping in and then watching Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, I headed out to Diamond Bar to meet Jaime for sushi. 

I don't understand Buñuel's films.  If anyone would care to explain them to me I would be immensely grateful.

Jaime and I had our sushi and then we went to Borders to purchase some reading material.  Jaime and I have such fun.  She bought the newest issue of Bust and Augusten Burroughs's Running with Scissors.  I had decided I wanted to buy Sylvia Plath's Ariel, and after reading the jacket, I also decided to get Augusten Burroughs's Dry.  We promised that after reading the Burroughs books we would trade.  (I don't give a hoot about Bust and she's read Ariel.)

Today I went out to my parents' house for Father's Day.  I brought coffee with me.  Today my parents exhausted me.  I think it's really my brother and sister who make me the most tired.  My brother is more politically ignorant than I think is humanly possible.  How can anyone be that ignorant?!  I have a family full of far-right conservatives.  Now, I am not a far-left liberal (no matter what the quiz says), but when my family and I talk politics I am bound to get a little incensed/depressed/exasperated.  They are just so... retarded. 

I'll explain why I've decided to vote for John Kerry a little later in the week.

Sometimes I can handle Michael.  Sometimes he's funny.  Sometimes he amuses me.  Sometimes he's clever.  Today he just rubbed me the wrong way.  We have these conversations that center around whether I would be a liberal if I were straight or whether I would still be an atheist if I were straight.

Would I still be an ateist if I weren't a gay man?  Would I still be an artist if I weren't a gay man?  Would I still be a liberal if I weren't a gay man?  These questions are actually unacceptable to me.  They have no basis in reality.  Because the answer is: "I would be a gay man.  I would be a liberal and an artist and an atheist and a gay man.  No matter what."  And then I start to actually consider the question... I would fit in with this family so much better if I weren't a gay man and if I weren't a liberal and if I weren't an atheist and—dare I say it—if I weren't an artist.  It would all be so much easier for them.  But I would still be all of those things, gay or straight.  I know I would.  It is a silly question, but I know the answer.  Sex is sex.  I'm not having any sex right now.  I can identify myself however I please: I can tell everyone I'm a straight male if I want, right?  As a matter of fact, I can have sex with Brittney whenever I please, and probably half-a-dozen other women too.  I could go do that, and then I can call myself a straight man. 

I am still an atheist and a liberal and an artist.  And the question is a stupid, silly question without a purpose.  Because I am a gay man and I don't plan on having any sex with any women.  (Though Allan and Brittney reminded me on Saturday that I did make out with Drea a little less than 2 years ago.  Hee hee.  Such stupidity.)

I'm tired.

I just finished listening to an interview with Lynne Truss of Eats, Shoots & Leaves fame.  My dad recorded it on cable for me.  Isn't that sweet?  He's a weird-o Bill O'Reilly fan, but he still knows how to be nice.

Gillespie Dream

I don't remember too much about this dream.  I think it starts with me taking a final.  I was writing an in-class paper (the best kind) and my desk reference was an edition of Vanity Fair magazine.  I am sharing a desk with a gorgeous boy, who I am assuming is older than me.  We are in a Theatre MfA program somewhere (maybe even CSUP), and I ask him if this is his second or third year.  He says it's his first and I'm excited because that means he and I will be together next year.  The paper is supposed to be about Dizzy Gillespie... something about his improvisational style or something.  I finish the paper and then hand it in to either Matt or Jensen (?) and then I decide to complain.  This test has been far too easy.  This is supposed to be an MfA program and we are writing papers based upon articles in Vanity Fair (it is a good magazine, but not that good).  I revolt.  The teacher isn't there... there is no teacher to revolt against.  I just start riffing on the paper and the class and the educational system and it becomes this performance piece I am doing as I hand in my paper that I realize (as I'm speaking) takes the form of a Gillespie improv.  And I have this bizarre moment of superb genius where I am riffing on my own education in the style of Gillespie in front of thirty people.

I guess I am thinking about the PhD again.

I think I will call Josh and see what he thinks about the PhD/MfA question.  He probably has an opinion.

Steven Spielberg Channels the Ghost of Frank Capra


I saw The Terminal.  I smiled.  Tom Hanks is wonderful—absolutely wonderful.  The movie doesn't have the normal Spielberg convention of ending five separate times.  In fact, he could have added endings to this one and seems to have stopped after the first one.  For that I am grateful.  The problem with The Terminal is not the ending at all.  The ending, in fact, is clear from the beginning of the film.  The problem with The Terminal is its relentless belief in the goodness of people—it's unflagging, unwavering, ludicrous faith that when the chips are down; when people are put to the test they will do the right thing.  Mr. Spielberg would have us believe that unlike the employees of international airports in other parts of the country, the folks who work at JFK's international terminal allow love to make their decisions for them.  The employees of JFK don't hate their jobs; they don't dislike the people around them; they don't resent people who have more money than they do.  No, the employees of JFK have a smile for everyone; they are ready to befriend you if you are in need; and if you are in trouble or need a job or would like a bite to eat, they will be happy to go to any lengths to help you out. 

What kind of world does Mr. Spielberg live in?  This is easily the most manufactured, synthetic film I have seen this year.  There are no surprises in it.  It looks beautiful.  Spielberg veteran DP Janusz Kaminski's lighting seems to be completely overtaken by a sort of washed-out yellow look.  The art direction is lovely, and it is the cleanest airport terminal I've ever seen.  There are some very nice things about the film, in fact.  Catherine Zeta-Jones looks fabulous and gorgeous as usual.  Diego Luna is totally fricking hot and looks better the older he gets.  Tom Hanks is great: just great.  I believed every minute of his performance.  This is an actor who I've seen in dozens of films.  I believed him as a former Soviet who didn't speak a word of English.  This is no small feat, I assure you.  Tom Hanks is amazing.

It's just that the whole thing seems so fake, as though not a bit of it has any basis in reality.  And I am reminded by everyone around me that this is a true story.  Well, this may be based on actual events, but this movie comes out not as the true story of a man trapped in an airport, but as a candy-coated fable about a Jimmy Stewart everyman trapped in a two-story universe, criss-crossed with escalators, full of hopeful do-gooders who are conspiring together for his success.  Call me a cynic, but as I left the theatre and walked away from this movie (which I will not deny made me smile at least three times and even applaud once) I thought to myself that The Terminal is, quite honestly, total fucking bullshit.

19 June 2004

This is. in my head this morning

put me back in the cold
I'm going to Antarctica ---
it feels like these days,
our old meeting place,
in an LA cafe
or on the Serengeti,
the hunt has not Begun.
cause I am tired of you taking from me
and I have let you eat from the fruits of my tree
I am not the one to turn into a Laurel wreath
for the last time you have crossed my line

you could never see
you could never see
Apollo's frock
was always as beautiful
always as beautiful
as the saddest rainstorm
Apollo your frock
was always as beautiful
always as beautiful
as your sister's
that your light shined on

how can you think you've won
when there can be no winners
the soul has been lost
of the bow and quiver
do you remember
well I remember
amid the clashing of swords
I'm losing you in my rear view
and I have called the Shekhina in
and the ninefold and a few other friends
you and your predators were warned
if the cubs were drawn in
for the last time you would officially
cross my line

you could never see
never see
Apollo's frock


This evening I went to a fabulously produced graduation party for Elizabeth and Justin.  Allan picked me up from home around 7:45p or so and we headed out to Robbie's nightclub in Pomona to be fashionably late.  In attendance: Wahima, Aaron, Ashley, Kim, Danny (who turned 21 today!), Debbye Eggeman, Brittney Kalmbach, Kevin Gonzales, Cyn Pérez, Jeremy Sherry and his lovely girlfriend Jen, Mike Steger, Lauren Donahoo and her roommate whose name is, I think, Elise or something like that, plus Samantha Dykstra, Jensen Kong, Caroline Collins, Dave Ryan, plus about 3 billion people I didn't know at all.  Justin's boss Sky (I think that's his name) was the only other gay guy there.  He's taken.  Boo.  The party was 21 and over only (very cool) and there was a bouncer and a guest list and everything... very high class. 

It was a great party.  I had a very fun time.  I haven't gone dancing in a really long time.  I wore this slate blue dress shirt with a bright white collar and enormous bright white cuffs that I bought almost a year ago at Mexx in Vancouver but had never worn.  I wore Mexx pants too: stretchy denim looking pants that feel light and are perfect for the dance floor.  I chose a risky pair of shoes: the white Maddens with the slate blue trim.  They matched the shirt, and I'm not usually all about that, but it seemed to work tonight.  Most of my friends looked fabulous as well... not as fabulous as me, but what can you do?

Dave and Lauren both kept on talking about their absent significant others... snore.  If they're so significant where are they?  In Dave's case, she was probably under 21.  Kevin had Elise (is that her name?) and Samantha and Debbye and Lauren all on him at one time or other.  I swear that guy gets more play than any nerd I've ever met.  He must be charismatic or something.  I don't know what it is.  (There was a time...)

I swear Debbye's favorite topic of conversation is her own breasts.

Allan is my friend.  I love that guy.  We have fun, and we have good conversations.

Congratulations to my lovely friends Justin and Elizabeth.  I am very happy for you both on your graduations.  Much love!

18 June 2004

Plath and the Unlit Oven

I watched Christine Jeffs' Sylvia this afternoon between work and the Justin/Elizabeth party.

The movie isn't very good.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be more melodrama than drama.  There just isn't much in the film that feels universal or interesting apart from the personal drama between Sylvia Plath and her poet husband Ted Hughes.  The emotion is all stuck between them, and I didn't feel any of it.    The film did, however, make me want to read some of Plath's work.  I bet it's really interesting.  If it's anything like the way they reviewed it in the film, it must be really just stunning.  In the film, they refer to her work as cold and calculated but describing horrors.  They talk about her detached quality of writing as she describes her own descent into madness.  It sounds fascinating.  Sylvia, however, is anything but cold and calculated.  It lingers on Paltrow's face and tries to reduce this woman's obvious mental suffering and her continuous breakdowns into an emotional rollercoaster between husband and wife.  The score doesn't help.  It's heavy and syrupy and just weighs on the film, telling us when we should feel bad for her and when we should smile.  It just doesn't work.

Margo Channing

Everybody has a heart.

Except some people.

Rehearsal was good again today.  It, in fact, continues to be good.  I worked Act Five like crazy today.

Yesterday I raised my voice at the cast.  Today I yelled.  It was quick and hopefully painless, but I positively yelled "SHUT UP" today to Shawn and Jensen and I meant it.  Having 15 actors onstage is no easy thing.  Bob must have been crazy to think he could do it with Hamlet.  It's a mess.  I mean, I knew how to clean it up and all, but it was tough.  Plus they're all talking all of the time.  Sometimes it makes me want to scream.  Blocking doesn't seem to get any easier, though with 15 people onstage, blocking is a cinch. 

Thank the stars for Michael.  He is seriously a godsend.  He is doing wonderfully.  He is having fun and grinning and generally keeping the mood as light as air.  It's quite the blessing, honestly.  And he blocks himself for the most part.  After rehearsal was over, Brittney and Michael and I blocked their first meeting.  It went like butter.  They have ideas.  We talk through them.  We try things.  This scene is going to be totally hot.

I am seriously so fucking exhausted.

I did my own rehearsal report...

SHREW - Daily Report

DATE: 17 June 2004 

Cast called: Dan, Greg, Zuriel, Josh, Brittney, Ashley, Matthew, Jensen, Michael, Shawn, Katie, Kevin, Sachi, Cyn

Late: Michael (10 min); Greg (again... that’s 3 days in a row).  I talked to Greg after rehearsal about his continued tardiness.  I was firm. 

I blocked Act Five in its entirety today and then we ran it at least 3 times.  I told the actors that the next time I call Act Five I don’t want them to have books in-hand.  At 10:00p, Michael, Brittney and I blocked Petruchio and Kate’s first meeting.

Stage Management:  Shannon and Vanessa were both out today.  Vanessa, I would like the cast to have a contact sheet by Monday, now that we have a full cast.

Sets:  The piano is still on stage.  Right now we have it pushed into the up-left corner and it is serving as the bar.  I would like 2 barstools and a table and chairs as soon as can be.  They don’t need to work for the show: they just need to be rehearsal-level items.

Electric: Nothing at this time.

Makeup: Nothing at this time.

Costumes: Inez would like to have a meeting with all of us.

Properties: Nothing at this time.

Sound:  Sade is not such a good idea for pre-show, in my opinion.  I would prefer more upbeat sounds.  I love Sade, but she’s not the happiest of singers.

Publicity: Is there an update on publicity?  John, you had said you wanted to talk to the actors about ticket sales.  Would you like Vanessa to schedule a time after or before a rehearsal when you can do this?


17 June 2004

Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow

This case covered the "under god" part of the Pledge of Allegiance, which contrary to popular belief was not in the original pledge.  This phrase "under god" was added in the 1950s by Congress and signed by President Eisenhower. The challenge to this "under god" phrase came from a California atheist named Michael Newdow, who objected to his daughter's "coerced" recitation of this phrase on a daily basis. 

The Supreme Court held on Monday not that "under god" is or is not Constitutional, but that Mr. Newdow, not having custody of his daughter, has no legal standing to bring this matter to trial.  The Court held, rather, that the mother as sole custodian of Newdow's daughter, was the only person with legal authority to object to the phrase on behalf of their daughter.  The mother does not object to the pledge. 

The Court was absolutely right to do so.  To decide anything else would probably have thrown all of the family courts into upheaval.  The lower family courts would then have to hold that non-custodial parents do indeed have the right to decide questions of religion, further complicating family law.

As for the decision on the "under god" question, my own opinion is that anything that came out of the Eisenhower administration is suspect.  I would also say that I find religious invocations of this kind exclusionary, but only mildly—if at all—offensive.  I wouldn't mind if the Court voted to remove the phrase, honestly, but I will, as usual, choose to agree with Justice O'Connor, to wit—beginning on page 36 of the Court's opinion:

The Court has permitted government, in some instances, to refer to or commemorate religion in public life.  See, e.g., Pinette, supra; Allegheny ,supra; Lynch, supra; Marsh v.Chambers, 463 U.S.783 (1983). While the Court’s explicit rationales have varied, my own has been consistent; I believe that although these references speak in the language of religious belief, they are more properly understood as employing the idiom for essentially secular purposes. One such purpose is to commemorate the role of religion in our history. In my view, some references to religion in public life and government are the inevitable consequence of our Nation’s origins. Just as the Court has refused to ignore changes in the religious composition of our Nation in explaining the modern scope of the Religion Clauses, see, e.g., Wallace, supra, at 52–54 (even if the Religion Clauses were originally meant only to forestall intolerance between Christian sects, they now encompass all forms of religious conscience), it should not deny that our history has left its mark on our national traditions. It is unsurprising that a Nation founded by religious refugees and dedicated to religious freedom should find references to divinity in its symbols, songs, mottoes, and oaths. Eradicating such references would sever ties to a history that sustains this Nation even today. See Allegheny, supra, at 623(declining to draw lines that would “sweep away all government recognition and acknowledgment of the role of religion in the lives of our citizens”).
Facially religious references can serve other valuable purposes in public life as well. Twenty years ago, I wrote that such references “serve, in the only ways reasonably possible in our culture, the legitimate secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future, and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society.” Lynch, supra, at 692–693(O ’CONNOR, J., concurring).
For centuries, we have marked important occasions or pronouncements with references to God and invocations of divine assistance.
Such references can serve to solemnize an occasion instead of to invoke divine provenance. The reasonable observer discussed above, fully aware of our national history and the origins of such practices, would not perceive these acknowledgments as signifying a government endorsement of any specific religion, or even of religion over non-religion.
There are no de minimis violations of the Constitution—no constitutional harms so slight that the courts are obliged to ignore them. Given the values that the Establishment Clause was meant to serve, however, I believe that government can, in a discrete category of cases, acknowledge or refer to the divine without offending the Constitution. This category of “ceremonial deism” most clearly encompasses such things as the national motto (“In God We Trust”), religious references in traditional patriotic songs such as the Star-Spangled Banner, and the words with which the Marshal of this Court opens each of its sessions (“God save the United States and this honorable Court”). See Allegheny, 492 U.S., at 630 (opinion of O ’CONNOR, J.). These references are not minor trespasses upon the Establishment Clause to which I turn a blind eye. Instead, their history, character, and context prevent them from being constitutional violations at all.
This case requires us to determine whether the appearance of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes an instance of such ceremonial deism. Although it is a close question, I conclude that it does.

O'Connor cites four specific methods of deciding when something like this is what she calls "ceremonial deism," and that's good enough for me.

Have I mentioned lately that I love Justice O'Connor?


I guess I'm a little more uptight than I normally think of myself as being.  I carpooled to rehearsal today with Brittney and Matt, and at some point, they totally made fun of this train of thought that I had shared with them earlier.  It was all in fun, of course, but I got really sad about it.  I mean, I had shared this thing with them (nothing at all really, it's just a story that will sound really weird in a blog entry) and then they chose to laugh about it and high-five one another.  I was hurt.  They couldn't believe I was hurt, and Matt said, "You don't make fun of your friends, do you?"  Mick and Debs joke like this: this is their humor, and it's not something I normally do.  I don't like it.  Brittney and Matt doing it today took me totally off guard.  I need to lighten up, of course, and learn that this is an okay thing and that I can handle it, but it was really weird.


Rehearsal was difficult today.  So many people means that a lot of people feel the need to talk, and when I am talking to one person, everyone else on stage to whom I am not speaking feels the need to speak to someone else.  It's so loud.  And Greg refuses to focus.  He's late to rehearsal every day and then when he's there he doesn't stay with the work.  He's all over the place.  It's annoying.  Dan is great... he gets better every day and Zuriel is going to be hysterical.  Today was a big Shawn day too, and Shawn is really fucking funny.  Mike fits right in with these people, and I like working with him.  It's fun, you know? 

Blocking rehearsals are hard on everyone, and they're always harder when the actors can't block themselves.  So I look at them act out 3 minutes of a scene without moving at all and then I go: "OK. Let's stop. And I will tell you exactly where to move."  It sucks because I hate doing that, and I have to tell them everything.  I don't want to be a puppeteer, but it turns out that I need to be or nothing will get done.  Matt and Josh and Dan can move themselves around a stage.  None of the other boys can and so there's a lot of "go here, go here, go here."  Meh.  Once I get this thing blocked, though, I can begin some real work.  I can't wait until then.  I wish they could get rid of their scripts and we could start working.

Matt and Brittney and I went to dinner in our town after rehearsal.  It was nice.  I loosened up a little, I guess.

I read a fascinating play last night by Dael Orlandersmith called Yellowman about racism among African-Americans surrounding more light-skinned black people.  It's quite a fascinating little read.  It's shorter: about 90 minutes, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer last year, I guess.  It's a minimalist, more poetic than anything else, piece.  Good shit.

I am exhausted.  This work is draining.  I forget that when I'm not working. :-)

15 June 2004

Gallantry and Alcoholism

I am so happy with my cast.  I finally have a full cast.  I have yet to meet the guy playing Vincentio, but he comes from Nick (the good producer), from whom I got Josh, so I trust him completely.  Mike Steger joined the cast as Petruchio this evening, and (to my mind) fit right it.  I am sure he will take some getting used to from the rest of the cast, but he's supposed to be a little bit of a strange phenomenon in this beach town I have created. I think Mike is going to be very very funny.  He, at least, will listen to what I have to say and follow my direction.  I am happy.

We had fun again tonight, and I am crazy-busy doing shit on the stage.  I am directing like a madman.  There is so much business!  Matt and Josh came up with a great joke involving Matt's cane, which he brought of his own volition (!).

I had a conversation with Greg in the parking lot on the way out of rehearsal, then I called Ashley on the way home and we talked character.

Things are going to be okay with this show.  I have a cast that I like and that is a thing that is hard to come by.

Jackie Cooper or Jackie Coogan?

Ah, the fifteenth of the month.  Lots of payroll tax payments due today for all you monthly-tax-basis employers!  At least there is work to do here at the tax office and I'm not just sitting on my arse pretending to work.

I really want pancakes.  Or maybe I just want strawberry jam.  I could, I suppose, always go to Dennys on my lunch break... no I couldn't.  I can't imagine the shame.  "I'm sitting alone in a Dennys on Huntington Blvd in Duarte."  It has a desperate, no-one-will-ever-love-you ring to it.

I guess we will have rehearsal today... I have to figure out what we're gonna do.  I spend so much time making the schedule, and then all of my plans get thwarted because I have no Petruchio.  Grr.  John and Nick are cursing the actor who quit, and I'm thinking "Why should he care about us?  Were we paying him or something?  Is he Equity?  Do we have contracts?"  No.

Last night (since rehearsal was canceled), I headed down to Beverly Hills to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.  As a part of their "Great to Be Nominated" series, they were showing Skippy, starring the completely loveable Jackie Cooper, age 8.  He is also the star of next week's film: The Champ, which is easily one of the ten best films of the early 1930s.  I recommend that everyone go catch this if they can.  Tickets are $3 for students and parking is free.  It's a very good deal.  Much to my surprise, Jackie Cooper was actually in the audience!  Good times.  So he stayed afterward and talked to the audience, took questions.  It was pretty fun.  Of course, I do hate old people, so he did start to get on my nerves after a bit, but it was a really cool time in Hollywood.  I love shit like this.

12 June 2004

Funny Girl: Part II

Just got off the phone with Allan. He makes me want to be a better, different person when I talk to him. It was a very good conversation. I was glad.

I have returned from a morning screening of the 1975 film Funny Lady, the sequel to the hit movie Funny Girl about commedienne Fanny Brice and starring the Barbra Streisand.
Can anyone guess what the ratio of males to females in this theatre was? I'll tell you: it was 8:1. No joke. I counted. Gay men and Barbra Streisand... I'm sure there are books to explain the obsession.
Funny Lady sucked. Funny Girl had it's problems, but the sequel has swallowed all of the original's problems and created another monster. This is a bloated mess of a film with not a bit of direction. It was easily 40 minutes too long, and just didn't know how to end. Babs is good, but she's been much better, and the plot is just an utter mess. There is one knock-down, drag-out great number called "How Lucky Can You Get?" and James Caan is hot (I've always had a thing for the James Caan of the 1970s), but that's it.

Dog Slobber Is Not My Thing

Don't go see Saved!  It's image of Baptists is way too shallow to be either funny or horrifying.  It was cute, I guess, but totally predictable, shallow and patronizing to Christians.

That Patrick Fugit, though: what a cutie!  And Mary-Louise Parker looks fabulous.  She looks better than she's ever looked.

Watched My Cousin Vinny this afternoon, too.  Judy Davis should have won the fucking Oscar.  Oscar-winning performance by Marisa Tomei aside, the movie sucked.  Since when are Oscars handed out just because you're the only thing that doesn't suck in a movie?  Ralph Maccio looked like he was having some sort of skin problem.  This movie was just not funny.

11 June 2004

California Adventures

Jill is home from Ohio for the week-end.  and I couldn't figure out the ticket situation for Stones in His Pockets, and so I am actually (!) going to have to let the tickets go to waste.  I forgot to exchange them yadda yadda and now they're for tonight and I just can't make it.

I know I swore I didn't want to drive, but now I'm gonna head over to Claremont to spend the evening with Jill.  I still swear that Saturday and Sunday I am going to drive as little as possible... plus I should call Brittney and/or and see if we can 'pool this coming week.  On Sunday, I think I'm gonna see Funny Lady in Downtown Pasadena in the morning.

I want to relax for the weekend.  I hope I can achieve this.

Rest.  Breathe.  Rest.  Breathe.

10 June 2004

Dads & Grads

Fuck I'm tired.  What a long day.

I took off work at 1:30 to go down to Derek's brother Ryan's graduation in Orange.  Why was I going to my friend's brother's graduation?  Good question.  It has to do with support, I guess.  No family was there.  We were all to meet at 2:45 at this place called King's Crab House or King's Fish House or something like that on Katella.  Jaime and I rode down together and we were right on time.  No one else was, of course, so we (naturally) went straight for the bar and ordered beers.  Drinking at 3:00 in the afternoon is not normally my thing, but I was attending a high school graduation.  The family showed up after the first beer.  Okay, starting with Ryan at the head of the table: to his left was Derek, then me, then Derek's sister Ashley (very cute; just finished grade 9), Anna, Lisa, Derek's dad Brian, Derek's mom Sue, Jaime, Jaime's nephew Robert (age 6), Jaime's cousin Holly (age 38; overweight and jolly).

Little Robert and I became fast friends of course and I spent most of the evening entertaining the six-year-old.  Derek's dad is very conservative, which, naturally makes me the most talkative person on the planet.  I was in high spirits having already had one beer and another with dinner.  I had an excellent cajun shrimp dish, though it was served with some awful garlic bread.

The graduation started at 6:00p at the Arrowhead Pond.  There were 980 graduates.  Nine Hundred Eighty.  We left around 9:30p.  There were kind of a lot of names to read.  Ryan acted bored most of the time from what I could see in my nosebleed seats, but I was bonding with the six-year-old, so it was okay.

I love kids.  I love them.  I need to have kids one day.  I think I'll wait 'til I have a husband, but I really need to have kids.

I got like 12 phone calls from 1:30 to 9:30.  After the graduation, Jai and I said bye to everyone and headed to Starbucks for the discounted corporate coffee.  Scott and Chris were there.  We stayed there until like 10:45p until I begged for Jaime to take me back to my car so I could come home and crash.

I have tickets to the Mark Taper tomorrow for Stones in His Pockets... not sure what that's about, but I really don't want to drive anywhere anymore.  I am so sick of driving.  I don't want to drive anywhere ever again.  This Long Beach drive is really a burden.  I am having a great time doing the show, but the drive is death.  It's like the opposite of Schindler's list.  Ben Kingsley's voice: "The drive is death."

As one life leaves the world, another one is conceived... Ronald Reagan dies just as the spawn of Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez grows in her womb.

Something Very Rare

Today the Supreme Court released a 6-3 decision about paintings by Gustav Klimt and a fraud committed by the Austrian government. The amazing thing is not this, though. The amazing thing is the 6-3 vote. Now normally the 3 would be Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, but today, the dissenters were The Chief, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy! Heretofore, I had always assumed that Justice Thomas sided with Justice Scalia EVERY time. In the past I have even referred to Justice Thomas as a lapdog to Justice Scalia. I have been proved wrong. I don't expect it to happen again, but this is definitely some kind of milestone.

09 June 2004

Another great day

Rehearsal--for the third time this week--went like absolute clockwork. I am having a GREAT time doing this. (Quite the about-face from last week, eh?)

I think the reason I'm happy now is the absence of table work. I think I did maybe 1 day too much table work this time. I keep trying to find this balance of table work and on-your-feet work. How much to do? Now that we're blocking there is so much to FIX all the time.

Blocking 15 people on stage at once: cake. Blocking 2 people on stage by themselves for extended periods of time: damned difficult. Actors should study 2-person scenes with no set pieces at all in University. You should see these actors try to be interesting when there are only 2 of them. They have no IDEA what to do. They just stand there and hope the scene works. It's quite something. Actors are such funny creatures. I love them.

08 June 2004

Bad Grammar on Traffic Signs

The sign said "Caution Slow Moving Vehicles Ahead."

I have no idea what this means.
I get that "Caution" is its own thing, but shouldn't it be "slowly moving vehicles"? At the very least, and I think this is still grammatically wonky, it should be "slow-moving vehicles"
Because what the sign means to me is that U-hauls and other moving vehicles are ahead going far more slowly than they ought to be going and I should exercise caution.

Fucking Great News I Forgot to Mention

Not only was my show approved, but I have been given DUSTIN as my set designer.


Rumor also has it that someone named will be my stage manager.

No word on my other staff yet.  I'm sure it will trickle in in the coming weeks.

Hurrah for Pterodactyls!

I think I referenced Ronald Reagan about 15 times tonight at rehearsal.  No one seemed to mind.  One highlight of the night: Ashley asks me, "You didn't like Ronald Reagan did you?" with nothing but sincerity in her voice.  Do I love Tony Kushner?  I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I had love for both.

I Wanna Run to You

Rehearsal went swimmingly again today.  Sometimes, I am just on top of shit.  I actually started blocking for real today, and I solved a problem I was having with the homophobia of having a sexless homosexual on my stage.  Problems all solved.

The pizza thing was so dumb.  I mean, there was free pizza so that was cool, but mainly it was silly.  I guess I don't think that actors really need a lot of help getting acquainted with one another.  Most of them are already fast friends.  I got a costume designer tonight too, which makes me feel so much better!

At some point, three of the girls called me over and told me they didn't know anyone there, and I'm thinking, "So go meet them."  I mean, what do you want me to do: play ice-breakers?  With actors this problem is so unusual.  I haven't ever really met any shy actors.  Normally they just sort of jump right in and talk to one another.  They all work in the same field, so it's not like they have no common interests.  It seemed like an odd request from these girls.  I am used to being a mixer now... I know I used to be shy, but now I'm a mixer, and I don't understand what keeps people with their backs to the wall. 

I am listening to "Flashdance... What a Feeling."  That's right Irene.  What a feeling.

I love the sign that some people have that says "I came on Eileen."  How fun is that?!

Please welcome Academy Award winner Robin Williams:  Oh my god, they killed Kenny!

People Who Say "Touching on Sound."

I did a vocal warm-up yesterday by myself in the theatre.  It felt amazing.  Normally I stretch and stuff before a rehearsal, but I haven't done hip-sockets in a long time.  I am going to try to do this every day before rehearsal... if others join me, that's fine, but I think I need something like this to ground me and prepare me for the work ahead in the subsequent three hours.

As I was laying on the floor yesterday I said aloud, "This is the work," and then I thought "this is also power."  I feel touched and affected by my teachers—all of them: Linda, Leslie, Christine, Bob, Josh, Judith, David, Gary, Ian, Dale, Gerry, Antonio, Gale, I could go on and on.  But it is the voice teachers and the movement teachers to whom I feel most devoted: for whom I would willingly have become disciples.  I was, I suppose, a disciple of Christine, David and Judith, though less so of David and Judith.  These three also actively sought devotees.  There is also an incredible ego with those people about their own power and abilities: their ability to create great performers, their amazing wisdom, their ability to command respect and attention, and their ability to read people so wholly.  I feel my ego wanting this power, and I know I could have it with more study. 

Aside from ego, I think Iris Warren/Kristin Linklater work is the most powerful acting tool out there, and if I want to help actors to be better, that is what I need to study.  In this vein, I think I need to go to grad school somewhere where this can be a large portion of my study.  It occurs to me that the best possible places for this are York in Toronto and Columbia in New York.  Directing is obviously something I want to study more, but this vocal work: this is a powerful, amazing tool. 


I am not getting enough sleep, now. Shrew haunts my dreams. Not that I am worrying about anything, but I am thinking of problems I need to fix before we open in 5 weeks. I mean, there are 5 weeks, so there's no stress, but the ideas still come to me even when I want to sleep. Today is supposed to be this pizza party thing. A word to the wise: the actors can't all meet one another if we are still missing two of them. Grr.
I am awake this morning, though. Hello out there. Good luck to you cats who have finals.
I was thinking about having a really queeny Grumio. It is a very funny thing. It's the normal comedic relief we expect from a fem guy who spends his time making fun of others. The problem with this is that I think it's just a little homophobic. I mean, he's obviously this way in real life, and so it's not a stereotype. It's not like I've made him into this character who is a queen. But he is a queen and I've asked him to play this character, and so, in a way, I have made the character into a queen nonetheless. I wonder about the laughter I know this will cause. It is going to be funny: there is no question about that.
I think my main problem with the usual thing of having the queen as comic relief is that the queen is never a sexual being, or is rarely a sexual being. I'm going to fix this in my show. I have to. Grumio has to have a lover at the end of the show. He must. I will figure this out. That might be the actual end of the show after all the lines are over. Everyone leaves. Grumio sits. Someone (!) comes in. They go off in the sunset together.

07 June 2004

I'm Ready to Move Out in Front

Rehearsal went well tonight.  I have such extremes of emotion.  Being a Pisces is tough, everyone.

I have no Petruchio, but it's actually okay.  I mean, we can do the work without him.  I can talk to the other actors and really have a positive effect on them.  Greg had all sorts of questions for me, and after rehearsal, Brittney and I talked about Katharina for a good half hour.  I love for actors to talk to me.  It makes me feel like they want to know what I think, first of all.  And secondly, it makes me feel like they want to be better than they are. 

This guy Shawn who will be playing Grumio... looks so much like this guy Shaun who I dated, and is queeny like Shaun too.  So strange.  Wait till you see him, Wahima.  You'll laugh.  They are so similar and they have homophonic names.  This Shawn is funny, though. 

But sometimes I am just good at rehearsal.  I have good things to say and they are things that the actors need to hear at the time.  It's some weird synergy that happens when I am on.

Jensen has been fairly low energy for the last 2 days or so.  I am not a fan.  I just want to put a lighter under his ass and tell him to wake up.  I might tomorrow if he flops himself down somewhere like he did today.

So I don't have two actors still, but I am starting to block this motherfucker on Wednesday, actor or no actor.  And it's all going to be fine.  I am not even a little worried.

I talked to Linda today.  She is so funny!  I love it when I talk to her.  I suppose that's why I call her.  She's so amusing.

06 June 2004

Good Movie

I just finished watching The Conversation with Gene Hackman from 1974.  (Also with Teri Garr, John Cazale, Harrison Ford and Robert Duvall.)  Very good movie from F.F.Coppola from the same year as The fucking incredible Godfather: Part II.  I thought it would be of particular interest to Sally, since the movie is entirely about sound and sound recording.  Check it out, Sally.  I think you'll find it kind of interesting.  It's the 1970's, of course, so they're recording onto analog reel-to-reels of some kind.  I don't know.  The equipment will make more sense to you, but it's a really good movie aside from the sound interest.

Talked to Marcos today.  He's filming Monster-in-Law on Wed, Thu & Fri.  Hmm.  He said he would do Petruchio if we couldn't find anyone else.  It's a bit of a relief to know I'll not go completely without an actor, and it was kind of nice to talk to him, too.  He got cast in the movie at the specific request of Ms. Fonda herself, who he says he talks to by email and has talked to by phone.  Marcos Tello & Jane Fonda.  Funny.

Jaime started talking about my bachelor party today.  I'm not getting married, but Jaime is talking about the bachelor party.  Bizarre.  She went to Laughlin this weekend for a bachelorette party and came back $8 ahead after paying for the room, gas and drinks.  Now that's good gambling.

Had lunch with Kristen today at Goodfellas on Melrose.  Kitty was there too.  A little weird, I mean, I was supposed to hang out with Kristen, and Kitty's niece, but I don't really know her, and all we had to talk about normal "mixer"-type things instead of good friend talk like Kristen and I would normally have.  I dunno.  It was a little disappointing.  I haven't seen her in ages and when I do the ex-roommate is there too.  Boo to that.

Boo Radley, even.

Laughter on the Third Floor

I got the email Saturday morning that said that Rick Williamson (Petruchio) is dropping out of the show.


I have no actor now, but... Adios.

Yesterday, Derek and I saw The Mother with Anne Reid. She has gotten tons of good reviews and could possibly be a contender for the Best Actress Oscar—we should know in December. She was good, but the character was just such an odious human being. This has been okay with me before (I loved Denzel Washington in Training Day, for instance), but I think because this character is so collossally selfish, I found it really hard to sympathize with her.
I think we were supposed to feel sorry for her, too. I know I have a well-documented dislike for the elderly, and so I should probably stop talking about them. But this character exemplified everything I dislike about the aged. A horrible mother, who, once her husband had died, forced her son and then daughter to give her a spare room. Then she starts fucking her daughter's horndog boyfriend. The daughter has clearly communicated she is desperately in love with this man, too. So, it's not like she was gonna break it off or anything. The mother is just this monster of a woman, who doesn't give a fuck about her kids, but expects all of them to care about her. Ludicrous. My problem with the film is that none of the characters have any redeeming qualities. It was written by Hanif Kureishi, who wrote (the very sweet My Beautiful Laundrette), but it feels like it was written by Neil LaBute, the hatred for these characters is so strong.
Derek rather liked it, I think. I was rather bored. I find that if I don't invest in the characters as people—if I don't get behind at least one of them and root for them to win—I start to be really bored.
The mother looks like she's about to kill herself at one point in Act Three, and I found myself muttering "Do it. Do it, now."

05 June 2004

Self-Abuse and, I suppose, Masochism in General

They really ought to give "cutting" a new name. I mean, it's so vague. You can 'cut a rug' and 'cut a fine figure' and 'cut tension with a knife': surely there ought to be some qualifying term for abusing oneself with a sharp object other than just "cutting."

Nancy brought up the subject of cutting earlier this week. She asked me why people do it. I explained to her the reasons that were explained to me. It all kind of hit me in this odd moment at work. I said, "I loved him" to Nancy and it was so... strange.
I loved Andy so much. It's so weird to think about something like that. I miss him sometimes. I really miss him, too; it's not just the idea of him. I miss his personality. I miss our conversations.
This one time we drove out to the middle of fucking nowhere off of I-10 to watch a meteor shower in late 2001. We just sat and parked and laid on a blanket together on the hood of my car.
One of the questions on "Jeopardy!" today was about the meaning of the Chinese character for his last name. They showed the character for "tree" and then showed the character for "Lin" (it is two "tree" characters stuck very close together.) The question was 'What does "Lin" mean in Mandarin?'
The answer: "Bastard"
Who knew?

Love to all.
(It really means "forest," in case the clues didn't give it away.)


So after work I worked with Brittney for a little over an hour and then headed to my folks' house.  I hung out there for a while by myself until Dad got home.  The folks and I had dinner and then I went to the Evil Monkey show. 

After the show, we all (most of us) headed to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Covina.  I managed to piss off Elizabeth, but also managed to beg forgiveness once I figured out she was pissed.  (Note to self: be a little less of an ungrateful motherfucker.)  Good things about HP3: 1) Buckbeak is beautifully created, 2) hilarious knight bus sequence worthy of any Cuarón movie, 3) Emma Thompson's brilliant impersonation of Linda Bisesti, 4) the whomping willow marking the seasons, 5) Julie Christie, and 6) a spot-on ending.

Slightly bad things about HP3: 1) Cheesy bridge sequence with Harry and Lupin, 2) Fudge's outfits' lack of panache (I expected limes and aubergines and other bright colors), 3) patronus not as cool as I would have liked, and 4) total cheese sequence at the end with Harry and Sirius that just rang hollow and Columbus-y.

Great things about HP3:  Well, obviously Cuarón is the main attraction here.  He knows how to create the mystical world that exists in these books, and so Hogwarts comes across as a place that is full of wonders, a little bit scary, and extremely mysterious.  He knows how to tell us kids are having fun (animal noise sequence early on was fucking brilliant).  His visual style is so interesting and clever, and it serves the movie very well, never detracting from the humanity of the tale.  The Buckbeak/Harry flight at the beginning is stunning and engrossing.  The best thing that Cuarón does, though, is fixing the problems that made HP1 and HP2 such utter snores.  Cuarón's successes on this front are numerous, perhaps countless.  What he does with Grint, Watson, and especially Radcliffe is nothing short of miraculous.  I cared about them, wished them success, and even loved them.  Radcliffe, in the first two films, is, in my opinion, just plain awful.  In this movie, he's fascinating to watch and entirely loveable.  Grint, in the first two films, harps on that single string of mock shock/horror.  In this movie, he's much more the real sidekick he is in the books.  Cuarón also dispenses with this idea that the other people in the world are more important than Harry, Hermione and Ron.  Thankfully, Professors McGonagall, Snape, Hagrid and even Dumbledore are reduced to very minor characters in HP3.  And thank heaven for it!  This gives us more time to focus on Harry's own journey as he grows from a young, beleaguered boy into the fierce wizard we all know him to be.

I cried this time, although I should have known I would.  This is the introduction to Sirius Black, Harry's only living relation, and his last link with his parents.  As he said goodbye to Harry at the end of the film, I couldn't help but think of Order of the Phoenix...

Thank you, Alfonso Cuarón.  Thank you for saving this movie franchise and reminding me how much I loved this book.

04 June 2004


Rescheduled Brittney scene work to today at 2:30p at CSUP. Now I'm sorry I did it, 'cuz what I really wanna do is go home, do laundry, drink Dr Pepper, watch a movie, and have a grilled cheese sandwich. Instead I'll be trekking out to Pomona, working until 4:30p, and then having to hang out in Pomona until 8:00p when the EME show starts. Hmm.

I think I must be feeling like shit today because I've been thinking...
Why am I directing a show like The Taming of the Shrew? What was I thinking? I mean, I had my reasons, and I think it will turn out fine, but what was in my head? It's so... lightweight. I know I say that about all of Shakespeare's early work, but it is lightweight. Working on it yesterday it just kind of occurred to me how actually shallow the show is.
My show that will go up in November is just the opposite: dense, funny, disturbing, and raging in topic from AIDS to the Cretaceous Period.

Shrew is just so not ME.

I don't know. Maybe I'm just having a down day.

On an up note: HP3 got raves this morning from the critics on Airtalk. I have yet to read David Edelstein's review, but I feel so optimistic.

"When I think of all the people I have come upon in my travels... I have to think of all the people who have come upon me." -Hedwig Schmidt

03 June 2004


Down at the English fair
One evening I was there
When I heard a showman shouting underneath the flair
I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts
There they are a standing in a row
Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
Give 'em a twist, a flick of the wrist
That's what the showman said, oh
I've got a loverly bunch of coconuts
Every ball you throw will make me rich
There stands me wife
The idol of my life
Singing roll or bowl a ball a penny a pitch

02 June 2004

Danger, Will Robinson

I should warn all who read this daily Tower of Babel that this journal will probably consist (at least for a month or so) of daily rundowns of rehearsal and my frustrations, however limited.  I promise to try to stay positive about the actors, but we all slip up sometimes...

Yesterday was my anniversary at American Accounting Services.  My ninth anniversary.  Today Nancy had flowers sent to me and Steve took us out to lunch.  I kind of felt like Thai food.  Well, Nancy suggested this joint up the street that we hadn't been to before and so we walked up there.  Place was crap.  I don't remember what this place is called, but the food was bland, and the meal was really cheap.  Normally, Nancy and I have Steve take us to nicer restaurants with cloth napkins, but we had never been here and so how were we to know?  Cheap and crap.  I wasted my free meal, but ah well... it was still, nonetheless, free.

I love it when I am busy at my work.  I like the work that I do at my accounting job, and I hate having to pretend that I'm busy when I'm not.  Today I was busy all day, and it positively flew by.  Hooray.

Made the drive out to Long Beach after that to meet with John and Nick.  They were supposed to meet with one another around 5:00p and then go over their ideas with me when I got there at 6:00p.  When I got there at 5:50p, John was there sitting by himself.  Nick wasn't there yet.  When Nick got there, they sat down and John said, "So what are your ideas for the set?"  "You were supposed to bring me ideas," said I, not shocked, but not happy.  "I know, but I just kind of wanna know what you think and..." stammers John.  Grrr.  We finally went into the space and I got a lot of good stuff out of them.  They had some really nice ideas for the set and a lot of them are gonna work.  I am very happy with the set.  I think it's gonna be really cute.

John started giving me directions again.  La, la, la this.  La, la, la that.  William Hung (I'm not kidding).  Once again, he used the phrase "go further with that."  I started to just disagree with him.  I don't want to start going "Ok, ok, ok," with him.  I want him to get in his head that I'm gonna do what I want.  I don't want the show to be silly.  I want it to keep its intelligence and be funny.  I think I can do this.  I don't even know where he's going with the William Hung reference, but I am not going to have references to television like that in this show.  I think I'm better than that.  Call it snobbery, but I don't even watch television: I'm not gonna spoof it in my Shakespeare show

Brittney called and said she was going to be late.  I was, of course, pissed, but then when she got there barely 3-4 minutes late, Petruchio was still not there.  Brittney and I went over a lot of stuff.  She brought questions for me.  We talked.  It was great.  Petruchio was a good 15 minutes late.  I try not to criticize actors to their faces, so I didn't: with Brittney or with Rick.  He smiled, I hoped all would be well with him. 

It was not to be.  My instincts about him were totally on.  It's so amazing how much you can really tell from an audition.  John's statements about "That's Petruchio. That's Petruchio" haunt me now, sometimes.  I know what I'm doing and most of the time he doesn't, I am really beginning to realize.  Rick is not the right Petruchio for this show.  At least he wasn't today.  I do not doubt my own abilities.  It may be that he can be molded into a Petruchio that will serve my turn, but if today was any indication...

He disagreed with the very first direction I gave.  I phrased it a different way.  "It's not in his character," he said.  (I felt my cheeks burn.  You have no idea what your character would do yet, man!)  The third time I spoke—after his second disagreement—I said, "Well I want you to try this."  It was no longer a suggestion, and it was obviously me telling him what I wanted and he was quiet after that.  There was no more belligerent behavior.  All was well.

Well, we'll see.  He loosened up a lot once Matt started talking.  I gave them another speech about having fun and playing the comedy and he seemed to kind of take that and relax a little.  I looked for reaction on his face when I mentioned we were setting it at the beach, but didn't get one.  Maybe he already knew.

I let most of the actors go early and kept Zuriel and Matt to work on their monologues.  Zuriel needs a good teacher.  I'm not that guy, at least I don't think I am, but I can help him out a little.  Matt is so talented, people.  Does everyone get this?  I hope they do soon. 

Petruchio shook my hand before he left for the night, and I'm going to assume that means he acknowledges my authority.  I may be over-dramatizing the evening.  I should ask Matt what he thinks about it.  He may not have got any of this from our interaction.  But I felt tested by this actor, and I'm sure, tonight, I passed his silly little test.

I have things to give this guy.  I wish people would know I'm not out to get them.  Brittney, for all her faults, always knows I have her best interest at heart.

And I am reminded by this little test of wills with Petruchio that actors are sensitive, highly egocentric human beings who need care and love and attention.  I must not give them bombast or screams or harsh words.  I must always treat them with respect and gentleness.  That is the way to tame a shrewish actor.

01 June 2004

I'm a Pisces; so sue me.

I know that yesterday I was an absolute wreck.  But rehearsal went absolutely swimmingly.  No read-throughs here: I scheduled my first day with the crew I figured I would get along with easiest.  So I did Act I, Scene I and followed that with the 2 Lucentio/Tranio/Hortensio/Bianca scenes.  It wasn't just easy.  It was a highly productive rehearsal and a very fun one at that.  I got immediately back into the groove of directing.  I was randomly shouting out shit constantly.  I even started to block some of it.  I tried to restrict myself to just table-work today, but what can I say?  The spirit moved me.  Nick found me this great guy to play Baptista.  He's totally laid back and cool and is going to be a blast to work with.  One of the things I learned from Jeff Calhoun: don't just cast for talent.  Cast people you would hang out with during breaks.  Cast people who you can have fun with.  The guy playing Baptista is perfect.  He's gonna be a laugh riot.

Zamora Rant.

John Zamora doesn't know the work of William Shakespeare from his own ass.  He's gonna try to direct my show as often as possible, I can kind of see.  He tried to gived me directing notes during the rehearsal today.  What?  I'm talking to the actors, here.  I don't need to be undermined by your nonsense right now.  He keeps trying to feed me crappy actors, too.  I don't need any crap actors.  I don't.  Seriously, he has suggested every bad actor that was in Hamlet so far, excepting Laertes and Ophelia.  "I think he's good," says he of the guy who played Guildenstern.  Um.  No.  "Bianca needs to be more this, and I'm not getting it from her."  Yeah.  It's Day One.  "I think you can take it even further."  Of course I can take it further!  (BTW: "Take it further"—standard note people give when they have no idea what to say.  "Love what you're doing; take it further."  "You're great.  Take it further."  "Do you have any notes for me."  "Um, yes: take it further.")  Whatever.  I need to figure out some way of dealing with his notes better, I guess.

And he has decided he wants to have a little pizza thing with all of the actors so that they can get to know one another.  I am, naturally, completely opposed to this idea.  Call me antisocial, but I am not there to make friends: I am there to work.  I have friends, and I'm sure most of the cast have friends, too.  I am scheduling this mandatory pizza-pow-wow on a day when I'm calling everyone so that no one drives out there simply for pizza.  That would be retarded.  In fact, if we're done working, I would rather go home than socialize.  So, I will stay for this pizza thing, but I won't like it.  People drive from far: they don't want to hang out with random cast-type people, do they?  Am I just a killjoy work-aholic freak?

It's just great, because I was so anxious about the show and rehearsal number one and it just all worked out.  So much so that as one of the actors was leaving he was like "this is going to be so much fun."  I think it is going to be.  I'm using their time wisely, I'm letting them go if they don't need to be there, and I'm working around their schedules.  Today was very fun.  I am so grateful to Jensen and Matt, who are just fall-out-of-your-chair funny.  I think Zuriel is gonna be really funny too, and we haven't even seen Shawn yet, and Shawn might be the funniest one of all.

Good times.  Who is free at like 9:45p for me to call on my way home from rehearsal?  Anyone?  I usually need to talk about the evening, so if anyone wants to volunteer to be a sounding board, let me know. ;)

God Bless Julia Cameron!

It's June First and I'm starting over as usual on the first day of the month. I feel much better this morning after writing my morning pages. It's the only way to keep positive about shitty stuff. I didn't sleep very well last night. I keep worrying about what the fuck I'm gonna do about the cast. I am short a guy now... or a woman who can play male. But this morning I feel as though everything will work out. I'm gonna do my job and that's it. (I know how to do that.)
Love to everyone,