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

26 December 2005

I'm in Colorado

So after work on Friday, I high-tailed it to Los Angeles International Airport and my parents and I flew (direct) to Colorado Springs Airport where we were greeted by my smiling little brother, who drove us to his house in Monument, CO. I've been here the last three days and I have to say that the weather is, unexpectedly, fabulous. Yesterday I spent most of the day cooking: I made goose and stuffing and butternut squash. (My goose giblet gravy turned out especially nice, I thought.) Today we went down to this Park called Garden of the Gods where they have these fantastic red rock formations. We saw a bit of it on horseback and then walked around some more after that.

I'm taking a break from cooking today because on Christmas Eve at about 10:00p, I sliced the end of my left middle finger off. It bled like nothing I've seen in a while. So stupid, too. I've never cut myself cooking and I didn't even do it with a knife. I wounded myself with a goddamned vegetable peeler. And I was supposed to cook the rest of the trip, but I don't know. I just don't feel much like it anymore. I mean, I did Christmas dinner yesterday, but today I needed a break. I think we're having frozen lasagne.

No movies in Colorado Springs, either. It's a little weird. The only things playing here that I haven't seen are Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Munich. I guess I'll probably be seeing the Spielberg after all. You couldn't pay me to sit through CbtD2.

Merry Christmas all! I'll be back in California on Thursday night.

23 December 2005

2002 In Review

LOVED
~ ~
1. The Hours
2. Gangs of New York
3. Ararat
4. City of God
5. Y Tu Mamá También
6. The Last Kiss
7. Talk to Her
8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
9. Bloody Sunday
10. Far from Heaven
11. Spirited Away
12. Punch-drunk Love
13. Adaptation.
14. About a Boy


REALLY LIKED
~ ~
15. Russian Ark
16. Chicago
17. 8 Women
18. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
19. The Quiet American
20. The Pianist
21. The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers
22. Behind the Sun
23. Merci pour le Chocolat
24. Tadpole
25. Panic Room
Minority Report
Read My Lips
Zus & Zo
His Secret Life
Lan Yu
Rabbit-proof Fence

LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
Children of the Century
The Crime of Father Amaro
About Schmidt
Lilo & Stitch
Treasure Planet
Frida
Road to Perdition
Antwone Fisher
Unfaithful
Catch Me If You Can
Intacto
Solaris
The Bourne Identity
The Cherry Orchard
Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood
Austin Powers in Goldmember

BARELY LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
The Time Machine

DIDN'T LIKE
~ ~
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Secretary
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Man from Elysian Fields
Sunshine State
Possession
Reign of Fire
The Piano Teacher
The Importance of Being Earnest
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The Wild Thornberrys Movie
Lovely & Amazing
The Man Without a Past
8 Mile
Full Frontal
Signs
The Good Girl

HATED
~ ~
The Rules of Attraction
Ice Age
The Count of Monte Cristo

COMPLETE AND TOTAL WASTE OF TIME
~ ~
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Queen of the Damned

22 December 2005

2003 In Review

LOVED
~ ~
1. In America
2. Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World
3. The Son
4. The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King
5. Dirty Pretty Things
6. Cold Mountain
7. House of Sand and Fog
8. All the Real Girls
9. American Splendor
10. Whale Rider
11. Finding Nemo
12. The Barbarian Invasions
13. The Station Agent
14. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
15. Raising Victor Vargas
16. Elephant
17. 21 Grams
18. Gerry

REALLY LIKED
~ ~
19. 28 Days Later...
20. Big Fish
21. The Last Samurai
22. I Capture the Castle
23. The Missing
24. Mystic River
25. The Matrix: Reloaded
Seabiscuit
Peter Pan
The School of Rock
Something's Gotta Give
Die Mommie Die!
A Mighty Wind
Identity
The Italian Job
Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl
Le Divorce
Once upon a Time in Mexico
X2
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Sylvia

LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
Yossi & Jagger
Swimming Pool
Lost in Translation
The Company
In the Cut
Camp
Japanese Story


BARELY LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
The Cooler
Brother Bear
Laurel Canyon
The Triplets of Belleville

DISLIKED
~ ~
Down with Love
Intolerable Cruelty
Shattered Glass
Monster
Love Actually
Bad Boys II
Casa de los Babys
Pieces of April
Thirteen

HATED
~ ~
Mambo Italiano
Cold Creek Manor
Matchstick Men
The Matrix: Revolutions

COMPLETE AND TOTAL WASTE OF TIME
~ ~
The Haunted Mansion

21 December 2005

2004 In Review

LOVED
~ ~
1. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ...and Spring
2. Garden State
3. The Sea Inside
4. The Return
5. The Door in the Floor
6. Million Dollar Baby
7. Dogville
8. The Motorcycle Diaries
9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
10. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
11. A Very Long Engagement
12. I'm Not Scared
13. The Twilight Samurai
14. We Don't Live Here Anymore
15. Collateral
16. The Incredibles
17. Before Sunset
18. I ♥ Huckabees

REALLY LIKED
~ ~
19. Primer
20. Želary
21. The Bourne Supremacy
22. Tarnation
23. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
24. Bad Education
25. Being Julia
Vanity Fair
Bon Voyage
Good Bye Lenin!
Vera Drake
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ray
Les Choristes
Kinsey
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Son Frère
Mean Girls
Mean Creek


LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
Maria Full of Grace
Finding Neverland
Closer
Sideways
The Aviator
Hotel Rwanda
Facing Windows
Shrek 2
Latter Days
The Village
The Merchant of Venice
Hellboy

BARELY LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
House of Flying Daggers
The Machinist
The Phantom of the Opera
The Manchurian Candidate
The Ladykillers
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!
Good Bye Dragon Inn

DISLIKED
~ ~
Undertow
The Terminal
Troy
I, Robot
Carandiru
Saved!
Home on the Range
Coffee and Cigarettes
Birth
The Butterfly Effect
Secret Window

HATED
~ ~
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
Spider-man 2
The Mother
Alexander
The Passion of the Christ

COMPLETE AND TOTAL WASTE OF TIME
~ ~
Shark Tale
Nicotina
A Home at the End of the World
The Dreamers
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

20 December 2005

2005 In Review

3. Good Night, and Good Luck.
6. A History of Violence
7. Caché
8. Junebug
9. Capote
13. Match Point

REALLY LIKED
~ ~
16. Mrs Henderson Presents
17. Jarhead
18. Downfall
19. The Beautiful Country
21. Yesterday
22. Kontroll
23. Syriana
24. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
25. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Batman Begins
Millions
Cinderella Man
Happy Endings

LIKED
~ ~
Brothers
Walk the Line
In Her Shoes
3-iron
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Hustle & Flow
Bee Season
My Summer of Love
Wedding Crashers
Kings & Queen
Yes
The Squid and the Whale
Walk on Water 

LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
Saraband

BARELY LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
The Dying Gaul
Mysterious Skin
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Heights

DISLIKED
~ ~
Broken Flowers
Proof
Prime
North Country
Monster-in-law

HATED
~ ~
Ladies in Lavender.

COMPLETE AND TOTAL WASTE OF TIME
~ ~
Chicken Little

19 December 2005

Summing Up 2005

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before? Interviewed for a Master's program, bought tires, went on an on-line date.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn't make any. I think I will for 2006, though. On Chinese New Year at the very latest.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My dear co-worker Leslie gave birth to little Ty just last week! So exciting!
4. Did anyone close to you die? No.
5. What countries did you visit? Las Vegas.
6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? A college that I'm attending.
7. What dates from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? On 9/11 this year my car got broken into and vandalized.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Directing Hard Times (I still don't know how I did that); applying to ten grad programs.
9. What was your biggest failure? I haven't achieved the kind of patience and generosity with others I would like to have.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope: safe and sound.
11. What was the best thing you bought? So many things: all furniture. I bought this fabulous wine cabinet and I finally decorated over the fireplace.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jaime Rohrer, a personal hero, and all of my friends who are trying to work in Hollywood. Props to you guys!
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? President Bush as usual. Vice-president Cheney more than usual. Governor Schwarzeneggar. Judith Miller.
14. Where did most of your money go? Driving back and forth from CSUP. Okay not really. Really it all went to my mortgage, but it sure felt like it all went to gas.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Trips to Vegas with my friends. The Academy Award Nominations.
16. What song will always remind you of 2004? The Killers - "All These Things That I Have Done"
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Richer.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Kissing boys I like. Yoga. Gossiping. Singing.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Working at the airport. Feeling sorry for myself.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? In Colorado with my brother, sister, mother, father and my father's family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2005? Nope.
22. How many one-night stands? Zip.
23. What was your favorite TV program? The only TV I watched last year was the annual Academy Awards telecast.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Probably not.
25. What was the best book you read? The Line of Beauty by Allan Hollinghurst. it is so very good!
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Frou Frou. Rilo Kiley. Ben Folds (I never knew!). The Killers. Regina Spektor. Antony & the Johnsons
27. What did you want and get? All of the new furniture in my house.
28. What did you want and not get? A baby. My biological clock is ticking, folks.
29. What was your favorite film of this year? Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck., Pride & Prejudice. There are still more to see, but these are my faves right now.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? For my 24th birthday, my friends came over to Pasadena, we got slightly drunk and then rode the Gold Line down to Olvera street for more liquor and some Mexican food. I got more plastered than I can remember getting in a long time and we had a blast!
31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I hate this question. My life would be more satisfying if I were more contented, if I had a permanent teaching job, if I would stop falling in love with straight guys. The list could go on forever.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? White, Gray and Black no longer matter.
33. What kept you sane? Eating sushi with Elizabeth. The Thai restaurant down the street.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Takeshi Kaneshiro. Jake Gyllenhaal.
35. What political issue stirred you the most? The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
36. Who did you miss? Jill. Jaime.
37. Who was the best new person you met? Linda & Matt's friends Michael & Jim
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004: Things are not nearly as scary as I build them up to be in my head. If I go out on a limb and do what I dread so much, generally, I find that my fear of the thing is bigger than the thing itself.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "I search for a piece of kindness and I find Hitler in my heart."

18 December 2005

Triple Feature

I jammed in three movies this weekend.
On Friday, Wahima and I saw Brokeback Mountain, which, as I have stated previously, was fucking great.

On Saturday, before heading over to my friends' fourth annual holiday soirée, I caught a matinee of Memoirs of a Geisha at my local multiplex. Snore. This movie is pretty bad, to be quite honest. It's all about prostitutes one-upping one another and is very difficult to take seriously. The costumes are beautiful, stunning even, but the movie is just a snore. There's no one to root for and for all its Asian mystique, the film unfortunately feels very American. Too bad. This is a definite failure for Rob Marshall. I guess he didn't realize that the States' obsession with Japan peaked in 2003 and that feels like eons ago.

On Sunday, Tito and I saw The Family Stone, which is definitely worth the price of admission, hardly ever sentimental, and boasts an excellent ensemble with Diane Keaton as its standout. If I had to compare it to a film, I would say it's similar to Love Actually, sort of, but good. Way better than Love Actually and truly touching and affecting without being cloying. Props to Claire Danes (I love her lately and she is simply gorgeous in this film), Sarah Jessica Parker, Ty Giordano, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel MacAdams, Luke Wilson and Craig T. Nelson as well. This movie is an excellent and loving portrait of a support system and all of its quirks and idiosyncracies. I ate it up.

17 December 2005

Ang Lee's Newest

So Brokeback Mountain is killer, of course. If you haven't seen it, it's the absolute must-see of the year and could sincerely eke out winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

Heath Ledger is completely new and different; he's totally believable and gives the performance of his life. (I kind of can't wait to see Casanova because of him: that might be the first positive thing I've said about a Lasse Hallström film since My Life as a Dog.) But Heath Ledger... reviewers are throwing the word "revelation" around and I think that's a bit much of a mantle to place on his shoulders, but I kind of believe it.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great too. You all know I love that boy and I can't really get enough of him but he's just so damned good looking. He's excellent in the film as well, and expect both Mr. Ledger and Mr. Gyllenhaal to get Oscar nominations come January. Expect additional nominations for Picture, Screenplay, Director (he might even win), Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Original Score (this one's a little shaky: the music branch is so insular), and Best Supporting Actress.

15 December 2005

Adventures on a Sick Day

I'm so much more afraid of things than I ought to be. Like, I've been putting of beurocratic-type things that I need to do. Some of them for months!

My father and I pulled a switcheroo on our cars. My dad sold my Camaro and then he gave me his 1997 Honda Accord. This was back in July of 2004. Do you think I've gone to the DMV to transfer ownership? No. And mostly because I just didn't feel like it. The AAA office is uncharted territory for me and I don't like to be in new situations that I don't fully grasp. So I've put it off and put it off... for eighteen months.

Ditto replacing my front two tires. They've been pretty near bald for about four months and why haven't I replaced them? Sheer laziness. Honestly I can think of no other reason except that perhaps when I get to the tire place they'll ask me question to which I won't know the answers or I'll need an appointment or there'll be a long wait. All problems that really aren't that big of a deal and function more as excuses than anything else. And so I keep putting it off. I almost put it off again today and then thought: "no, go fucking do it."

So I went to AAA and paid my $30 ownership transfer fee (including penalties for not doing it sooner--oops) and then I went to this tire shop within walking distance of my house and got my new tires put on in all of fifteen minutes. And it was cheap. And if I injure one of the tires on the road they replace it for free. And I knew the answers to all of their little questions. It was good.

God Helps Those Who Get Paid Sick Leave

That lack of sleep did me in. I called in sick to work today. Yuck. I don't feel very good right now. Perhaps later, though, I will have a resurgence of energy and be ready for a night an early night on the town.

14 December 2005

KONG

I missed Brokeback Mountain last night. Justin, Elizabeth and I went to see it at The Grove (the only place it was playing last night) but it was sold out at 8:00, sold out at 9:00 and sold out at 10:00. It was playing at 11:10, but we opted to leave and go play tranny tourists down on Hollywood Boulevard.

Tonight, I got ditched by my friend. I was really tired--I've been exhausted lately... not sure what that's about: probably from staying out late Monday night. That shit can snowball through your whole week. But I went to see King Kong anyway. It's awesome, I guess. And I don't mean that it's really great or anything I just mean that it's sort of wondrous. It's definitely wondrous. The imagination of Peter Jackson is incredible and so much in this film is superb, excellent, innovative and fascinating. And yet so much about the movie is so... well, boring. Naomi Watts is unbelievably good and gives a strong, earnest movie star performance. Adrien Brody is good, but mostly he's just gorgeous. To wit:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com


I can't say I particularly liked the film. I guess I feel about King Kong the same way I feel about The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King. I feel like shrugging my shoulders. I mean, it's enormous and it demands respect because of its sheer monstrosity, and it's engaging and fun (for the most part) but I never really care and the end feels inevitable. Eh. Shrug of the shoulders. Peter Jackson just doesn't do it for me, I guess.

11 December 2005

So If I Have a Chance Would You Let Me Know?

I know posts with lyrics in them suck, but I'm going to do it anyway. I never really listened to the lyrics in this song before tonight and it's so funny because this song says exactly what I'm feeling right now about someone.

And if the answer is no
Can I change your mind

We're all the same
And love is blind
The sun is gone
Before it shines

And I said if the answer is no
Can I change your mind
If the answer is no
Can I change your mind?


I am so sentimental and maudlin lately. It's pathetic, really. I need help.

Oh yeah,
Kirsten, have you listened to the new Fiona Apple album?
Everyone's hopping about Brokeback Mountain. The Los Angeles Film Critic's Association named it Best Picture on Saturday and the Boston Society of Film Critics followed suit today. Brokeback came out this weekend in Los Angeles (Is there a pun in that sentence? I'm turning into my father) and yet I did not see it.
I caught three movies, though: Narnia, Mrs Henderson Presents, and tonight, finally: The Squid and the Whale. I wasn't too crazy about it, but I have to say that I liked Laura Linney in a movie for the first time in a very long time. And my GOD were her outfits horrible in the film! HORRIBLE, I tell you.

In application-to-grad-school news I completed eight of my applications on Saturday. You read that correctly. I only have two applications left to do. It was a good, productive weekend, and though I'm surprised I got as many movies in as I did, I'm glad I did.

Updated List for 2005: Recent Viewings in Boldface

1. Good Night, and Good Luck.
2. Pride & Prejudice
3. Me and You and Everyone We Know
4. A History of Violence
5. Junebug
6. The Constant Gardener
7. Capote
8. Kingdom of Heaven
9. Thumbsucker
10. Mrs Henderson Presents
11. Jarhead
12. Downfall
13. The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
14. Syriana
15. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
16. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
17. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
18. Batman Begins
19. Millions
20. The Upside of Anger
21. Cinderella Man
22. Walk the Line
23. In Her Shoes
24. 3-iron
25. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
26. Bee Season
27. Shopgirl
28. Kung Fu Hustle
29. Wedding Crashers
30. Melinda and Melinda
31. The Squid and the Whale
32. 2046
33. Walk on Water
34. The Dying Gaul
35. Mysterious Skin
36. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
37. Broken Flowers
38. Heights
39. Last Days
40. Proof
41. Prime
42. North Country
43. Monster-in-law
44. Sin City
45. Ma Mère
46. Ladies in Lavender.
47. Steamboy
48. Chicken Little
49. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

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07 December 2005

Movie Frustration

Applied to two more schools: Arizona State & U of Oregon. I should go to sleep But. I. Just. Don't. Feel. Like. It.

I'm having movie withdrawl y'all. It's been, like, since Sunday. And Sunday's movie was a crap one: Ma Mère, anyone? Plus Friday's movie (Syriana) left me a little numb, too. Mostly my frustration comes from the fact that Brothers, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, The World of Apu, Aparajito and Morgan! are sitting on top of my DVD player and currently in theatres awaiting me are Breakfast on Pluto, The Squid and the Whale, Rent, and TransAmerica. That isn't even mentioning that Friday's releases are The Chronicles of Narnia, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Memoirs of a Geisha and the long-awaited (at least by me) Brokeback Mountain. I need to finish this grad school shit and get to the cinema!!!

Right now I'm listening to the soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated song "Love That Will Never Grow Old" or something like that from Emmylou Harris. It's alright, but it's nowhere near as good as Teddy Thompson & Rufus Wainwright's cover of "King of the Road" on the same album. That song rocks.

06 December 2005

Application Update

Cal Poly sucks ass at getting transcripts out. The 5-day turnaround I don't mind so much but it's absolutely impossible to get the information to these people. I have to fill out the addresses of my schools manually and they only give me 4 lines per school. Then I'm supposed to fax or mail these address labels in, but there's nowhere for me to write how many transcripts go with each address. It's so stupid. It should all be online, anyway, but of course it couldn't be that easy. I know it's a public school but Jesus Christ!

I finished applications for Cornell & Florida State today. Paid the fees, hit send. Everything.

Eight schools to go. And I still have to figure out how to do a fancy-looking curriculum vitae. Fun. Have I mentioned I hate this. I need someone to give me a hug and tell me this is all going to work out whether I get in or not.

I made macaroni & cheese again tonight. Actually, I had just finished the roux and I was on the phone with my girlfriend Jill when I realized I had no milk in the house. Oops. Off to the grocery. The roux kept just fine and the macaroni turned out lovely.

Much love,
Aaron

05 December 2005

Progress, a Play, and Baked Goods

Today I read a play and baked some brownies and sent out my requests for official GRE scores for my ten schools. After this is all over I will have to blog about how much this is all costing me. The GRE scores are $15 per school (!). Tomorrow: requests for official transcripts and maybe even an application or two.

The play I read is called Our Lady of 21st Street by Stephen Adley Giurgis. It was okay. Good with language, but very light on character and plot. Hopefully the next is better. It's called Jesus Hopped the A Train. Good title, anyway.

I also watched a little of My Beautiful Laundrette. I must've seen it when I was too young to get a lot of different stuff. I had forgotten that Saeed Jaffrey was even in it. I don't know who I thought that was if not Saeed Jaffrey, but anyway... It's a good movie. I will have to sit down and watch the whole thing again someday soon.

04 December 2005

Weekend Round-up

Where did this weekend go and why can't all weekends be like last weekend (i.e. four days long)?

Every weekend from now until January I will have a holiday party to attend. Ah! The curse of popularity! This weekend I got a last-minute invite to a party in Aliso Viejo. I attended the soirée with my dear friends Matt & Linda (they drove; God bless them). This party was great: awesome food, good wine, excellent company, and four Christmas trees (one twelve-foot and three nine-foot) decorated like you would not believe. There was a nautical tree, a wine tree, a mardi gras tree, and--my favorite--a Ketel One tree. It was unbelievably fabulous. I want to be those people when I grow up... except for the Orange County part.

I spent most of yesterday (the sober part) finalizing all of my recommendation requests for grad school. I'm applying to ten schools.

(in no particular order)
Cornell University
Arizona State University
Ohio State University
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Texas at Austin
Florida State University
Brown University
Northwestern University
University of California at Irvine
University of Oregon

So I put together a packet for the four people who will send in recommendations for me: you know--stamped envelopes, little questionnaires that each school wants filled out, etc. Everything having to do with grad school takes forever! Then I wrote them thank-you cards and hand-delivered two of the packets. (Connie is delivering the other two tomorrow. Thanks, Connie!)

This morning I watched Christophe Honoré's Ma Mère with Isabelle Huppert and Louis Garrel. Snore... I mean, I like the performers a lot. I love Isabelle Huppert and I think Louis Garrel is very hot in a greasy, unkempt kind of way, but damn, this movie was about nothing. Well, no, it was about incestuous feelings between a mother and son and some other abberant sexual behavior. I don't know. It was really boring and not the least bit profound, unfortunately.

Today I bought paint. I'm going to paint my bathroom. The color is called Spanish Moss and I bought it at my friend Matthew's place of employ: Restoration Hardware. Shit is expensive there. I mean, I got 20% off and that was great, but shit is expensive. There's also no where to park in Pasadena this time of year. Just try.

I feel like I'm going on and on. There must be more that I need to talk about... I can never go to sleep on Sunday nights.

Oh. If you scroll down a bit, you'll see my list of movies for 2005. Are there any suggestions you'd like to make: not in ratings, but films missing from the list that you've seen that you think I ought to see for the year? Leave me a comment if there's something I just need to catch. I have Brothers in my Netflix queue, but what else?

03 December 2005

SYRIANA (Whatever THAT Means)

Well, Syriana won't be my favorite film of the year, but it may be the year's best-made film. It's really fucking powerful. It reminded me of The Constant Gardener, but with less hope. The plot is a tad murky, but that didn't really worry me. There are excellent performances from all: the cast is headlined by George Clooney, Matt Damon & Jeffrey Wright, but also includes Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Alexander Siddig, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet, Max Minghella and Tim Blake Nelson.
It's just so horrific and appalling, this big bad world we live in. Syriana raises so many questions and gives us so many answers: but then it shows us how each of those answers is--simply put--impossible. ...Until by the end of the film I had given up on the future. This film makes me feel as though my country has failed me and will continue to do so and that there is no hope whatsoever for lasting peace in the Middle East region. This film is the angriest most depressing feature I've seen in a long time and I'm not really even sure what to think of it. I mean, it's obviously the work of an immensely talented, unspeakably angry director and I totally applaud Stephen Gaghan, but I'm just a little bit terrified.

Sorry this post is a downer, but I've just seen a doozy of a film and I'm reeling a bit still. Syriana is really, really good and I enjoyed it, but it left me cold and angry and I feel defeated.

30 November 2005

Two Reviews: A Letter to Three Wives & The Violet Hour

Last night I read Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour which was, much to my surprise, a very good play. I don't know why I have been doubting Greenberg. I lie: of course I know, and I'm going to tell you in the next paragraph. I wonder why I say things like that.
Anyway, the thing that kind of irks me about Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain, The Dazzle, Everett Beekin, The America Plan, etc.) is that he writes these hilarious characters with witty banter and obvious gay overtones and then all of the characters in the play turn out to be straight. Perhaps I'm exaggerating. Obviously, the gay characters are front and center in The America Plan, and they ostensibly are in Take Me Out, too, though they are sold somewhat short, to my mind. I first noticed this pattern with a reading of his I went to see at South Coast Rep two or so years ago. It was a new Greenberg play: the title was something about House--I can't remember--there was a lot of fun dialogue but no plot to speak of, strangely enough. I seem to remember that one of the two young male students in the play dies during intermission or something tragic like that. Here's the rub: at intermission it's totally obvious that the two students are in a tentative love-relationship, though it has yet to be fully acknowledged by everyone. Then in Act Two after the boy dies someone asks the other one (years later, I think) if he's gay and he says "no, I wish I were" or some such nonsense. Greenberg was communicating to the audience that the characters were gay and then he turned the tables--and for what? This play wasn't really of consequence, but I feel like Greenberg is rather constantly doing this. Three Days of Rain is similar in this regard, and The Violet Hour follows the same pattern. We think that homosexuality is the "big secret" onstage and it just turns out that it isn't.
I'm not sure what the point of it is: perhaps that homosexuality is just a thing people do and not necessarily a lifestyle. I am contrasting Greenberg in my head to a guy like Jon Robin Baitz who writes witty dialogue worthy of Joseph L. Mankiewicz and boldly writes gay characters, flamboyant and subdued, tortured and put-together. So why does Greenberg feel the need to make his lovely gay characters lovers of women? Whatever it is, it irks me. It would irk me more if Greenberg didn't write so well. The Violet Hour is a fascinating meditation on the future and the past and the choices we make in our lives. It's peppered with witty dialogue and at least three really good roles. There are parts in it for Elizabeth, Kevin, Wahima and me. It's not really my kind of play, but it is interesting and the end is excellent.
*
Tonight after the laundry, I saw Joseph L. Mankiewicz' A Letter to Three Wives. It's a first-rate bitch-fest with Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, Jeanne Crain, Kirk Douglas and Thelma Ritter. It's no All About Eve, but then few films are. It does have Mankiewicz' trademark witty dialogue and an excellent performance by Linda Darnell. My main problem with the film is the insistence of the writer-director that what a woman needs most in life is the love of a good man. It's not so clear if this need works both ways, but the women bitch at each other and trade snarky comments, and then go home and make up with the husbands with whom they've fought hours earlier. 'Cause that's what's important ladies: having someone to wake up next to. (This theme resounds in All About Eve, too, if I recall correctly.) It was still fun: I dig all of that bitchy dialogue and that Linda Darnell is a knockout.
I may start to really like Kirk Douglas, too. I don't know why I disliked him for so long. He's growing on me.

29 November 2005

Hit Me, Baby

I think somebody called me today from The Guardian. It was the most random thing ever.

A while back I wrote a quick (negative) review of Steven Zaillian's new adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men. You can read the original piece here if you are so inclined. About a month later or so, after All the King's Men was pulled from Sony's fall lineup, I got an email from the moderator of a Jude Law newsgroup. She wanted to link my review from her page. I very rarely, or so I think, have people with whom I am unacquainted reading my blog, so it's more than I'm used to, but fine.

Today, I got a call at work asking me about my weblog and my opinion on All the King's Men. This guy interviewed me as to my why I disliked the movie: what worked, what didn't, what my favorite film of the year was so far (he and his wife loved Brokeback Mountain). It was one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had. I wasn't really probing into who this guy actually was--for all I know he could've been from any paper anywhere or he could have been the top film writer for The Guardian. I really can't remember. I was just so, well, stunned. So much hullabaloo: such a bad film. My interviewer said the Jude Law had been raising a bit of a ruckus over something negative they said about the film and they needed to substantiate things a bit more. So weird.

For the record, Jude, I thought you were great in the film. I just hated everything else about it.
*

I still have so many films to see for 2005. (I know it's still November, but I feel behind. All the journalists have seen everything already.) I'm figuring that my favorite film of the year will be among the following four: Brokeback Mountain (gay story, probably depressing, very hot guys, getting good word of mouth), Match Point (Woody Allen returns! and I love me some Woody), or The New World (I think Terrence Malick is a genius; The Thin Red Line is one of my all time favorite movies, or The White Countess (you all know I'm crazy over Merchant-Ivory). Or it may just stay the same with Good Night, and Good Luck. remaining my favorite of the year's movies. OR... and this would make me happier still: there is still a film out there that I haven't seen just waiting to surprise me with its fabulousness.
*

Um, so I deleted all references on this weblog as to where I work. The call at my place of employment was a tad unnerving. I forget just how public this is.

27 November 2005

Films of 2005

1. Good Night, and Good Luck.
2. Pride & Prejudice
3. Me and You and Everyone We Know
4. A History of Violence
5. Junebug
6. The Constant Gardener
7. Capote
8. Kingdom of Heaven
9. Thumbsucker
10. Jarhead
11. Downfall
12. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
13. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
14. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
15. Batman Begins
16. Millions
17. The Upside of Anger
18. Cinderella Man
19. Walk the Line
20. In Her Shoes
21. 3-iron
22. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
23. Bee Season
24. Shopgirl
25. Kung Fu Hustle
26. Wedding Crashers
27. Melinda and Melinda
28. 2046
29. Walk on Water
30. The Dying Gaul
31. Mysterious Skin
32. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
33. Broken Flowers
34. Last Days
35. Heights
36. Proof
37. Prime
38. Monster-in-law
39. Sin City
----------------------------------------
40. Ladies in Lavender.
41. Steamboy
42. Chicken Little
43. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

*

I saw Pride & Prejudice just this evening and I have to say that though I have never been a fan of Ms. Knightley and do not consider myself sold on her charms just yet, I am pleased to report that the film is indeed--as was reported in The Los Angeles Times--a joy from start to finish. I say this with complete sincerity. I loved the film. It is one of the most romantic things I've seen in ages and I found myself positively bursting with joy by the end.

Sunday Sucks

I've been applying to grad schools and organizing application materials all day.
BOOORRRIIIINNNNGGG.

I will post my current movie list for '05 later tonight after I get home from whatever I go see.

21 November 2005

Jarhead

Umm... did I see a completely different movie than everyone else did? I loved Jarhead. I mean, not only did I completely dig the photography (one visual stunner after another, to my mind) but I thought the acting was really great, too. Peter Sarsgaard is always amazing but I think he found even further depths of desperation and sadness with this film, and I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was great. Why is everyone saying that nothing happens in this movie? Why am I hearing noises about it being an empty tale? Why has everyone wiped this off of their year-end best lists?

Jarhead is excellent. Excellent, I tell you. It's poetic and beautiful and utterly fascinating. It's frequently funny and occasionally frustrating, but for me it was always riveting and I really connected with the soldiers out there.
And the story is so important. I loved it. Really. I moved it to #9 for the year. Highly recommended.

Current Lyric That's Cutting Me to Ribbons

I got soul but I'm not a soldier.

20 November 2005

Employee of the Month

Human Resources sent the following memo to the entire company:
We are pleased to announce the ***** Corporation Employee of the Month for October 2005 is Aaron Thomas!!

Aaron works in the Accounting Department and has been with ***** since October 2004. He is a talented, conscientious, and dedicated worker and has proven to be a wonderful addition to the ***** team. His sense of humor lightens the day for all of us and helps make ***** a better place to work. All this, in addition to being cute and brilliant!

Please join us in congratulating Aaron on this well deserved award and a job well done!
My favorite part is the part about how cute I am.

Weekend on Drugs

Oh to be young and strung out on drugs.

On Thursday, I came home from work and tried to take a little nap. It didn't really work out. I slept for about an hour and a half: probably just enough to get me energized and ready for the 12:30a screening of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at Universal Citywalk. I know I'm crazy, but my friends were all doing it and I'm just all about that Harry Potter. Anyway, the movie (which is great, by the way) got out around 3:00a or so and I got to sleep around 4:30a (I don't know why I felt compelled to check emails and such when I got home.)

So on Friday when I got up at 7:00a I wasn't really doing so well. (2 1/2 hours of sleep isn't exactly an ideal situation). Work was fine, though, and much to my surprise I was named Employee of the Month. There's, like, a whole nomination process and shit, too, so I don't know how it happened. Anyway, it was really cool.

After work I drove out to Brea to meet my friends and then we drove down to La Jolla to stay with another friend and hear the Limbeck Band play. FOR FREE. And they were so fucking awesome.

We tooled around San Diego on Saturday. I bought shoes. I bought shirts. I bought underwear. We went to Dick's Last Resort for dinner. The waiter was hot. I drank waaaay to much. And then I did the not-as-embarassing-but-equally-as-silly equivalent of drunk-dialing: drunk-text-messaging.

I'm home now, though, and I'm looking forward to a short week with lots of food and some good movies.

Now if only I could get my university applications underway...

15 November 2005

3 Hommes / Ultimo Tango / Goblet o' Fire

Do I complain a lot in this space? I probably do. OK, movie reviews first and then complaining:

Last night I caught 3 Hommes et un Couffin, that is, Three Men and a Cradle, that is, the original film on which the Leonard Nimoy-directed American farce Three Men and a Baby is based. Coline Serreau's original 1985 film (she wrote the screenplay in addition to directing) is just as funny if not funnier than the 1987 film (quick remake: those folks at Touchstone were on top of things in the late Eighties), and the plot is nearly identical. I understand the reasons for remaking a very charming French farce into a slightly-more-saccharine-but-still-charming American farce with big American stars, but it seems a shame to me. The original film is artistically a superior work and hasn't a false note in it. I didn't recognize the three guys in the movie, but all are fun and funny and the movie doesn't have a big American Romantic Comedy finish the way Nimoy's version does, a flourish I didn't miss one bit. Anyway: 3 Hommes et un Couffin is highly recommended.

I said The Killers was awesome, right? It is. Rent it. I also finally (after many months) watched Bertolucci's much touted Last Tango in Paris. I half liked it and half didn't like it.
It wasn't boring so much as there just isn't anyone to root for. Brando is this asshole for the entire film, never changing. And you want to love him and you understand why Maria Schneider does, but he's just a creep and he proves to us (and Maria) again and again what a creep he is and just how wrong he is for her. It's shot nicely, and I suppose it's interesting in its way, but I felt frustrated. Plus Maria already has this very nice boyfriend who, while a little slow, and perhaps a tad selfish, really loves Maria, is smitten by her (whereas Brando is so clearly using, abusing and dependent on her.) For me this is the main problem with the movie, I guess, because it's not like Maria Schneider is cheating on her creeped out boyfriend who also has a mistress. She's cheating on a sweet, adorable young man: the same young man who plays Antoine Doinel, for chrissakes. It's Jean-Pierre Léaud and she's screwing him over for creepy (old) Brando. Maybe I'm too young to get it. I think that happens sometimes.

*
So I have a (long) list of schools to which I will apply in the next month and a half. I hate doing this, though, and so I am rebelling against it. I just hate all of the applications and I hate the questions and I re-read my Statement of Purpose from last year and I hate that too. I feel like I'm not good enough and I hate having to click "Caucasian" (I'm not even from the Caucasus.) Plus I'm going to have to ask people for letters of recommendation again and it's just such an imposition for them that I just hate to ask.
I don't know. Doing this depresses me and I don't really have anyone to push me but myself and we all know just how well I do with self-motivation because I do yoga so often nowadays.

Thank goodness. Ashley just called and I just bought a ticket to the 12:20a showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Thursday night/Friday morning. Cheers. Now if only I could get this grad school shit together...

13 November 2005

Homework for the Non-student

Last Tango in Paris has been sitting at my house since July the 6th. It's been holding up the Netflix queue, really. The reason it's been at my house is because I ordered it even though I didn't really want to watch it. I was talking about this with a friend just this week. We set ourselves these assignments that we don't really want to complete. I hear myself saying "I don't feel like reading" and the reason I don't want to read is that I'm staring at the complete works of Tennessee Williams. I mean no wonder I don't want to read. It all seems so huge and unachievable. And I've set this task for myself. It's not like it's an assignment for school; it's an assignment for myself. I ought to read the complete works of Tennesse Williams. I ought to watch Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. We forget--I forget--that there isn't anything that I necessarily ought to do. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. I'm an adult for chrissakes and if I don't feel like reading Jerzy Grotowski's Towards a Poor Theatre, I really don't have any obligation to do so.
I have to teach myself to stop setting enormous, impossible goals for myself. The small goals are hard enough, and my life can be full and rich even if I never see Jack Lemmon's performance in Mister Roberts. It won't kill me to do something I actually want to do.

Who knows? I may even want to go back to reading if I start on a fun book instead of my usual choice of a highbrow monstrosity.
This week: Richard Greeberg's The Dazzle.

Things Learned This Weekend

1. There is room for discussion at my parents' house about equality for women. My sister still says things like, "It's my opinion; I don't need anything to back it up." There's just no response to that, but I think I got through to my mom just a little. (Why we were talking about North Country, a film none of us has seen, I do not know.)

2. If he consumes large quantities of carbohydrate, Aaron can drink many glasses of wine (both red and white) and not get drunk.

3. Holiday parties can be a heck of a lot of fun: even for atheists. (Is "atheist" supposed to be capitalized? I'm gonna go with no.)

4. If you want to make Aaron talk vehemently for an hour and a half, just bring up the Intelligent Design theory.

5. I still don't understand Constance Congden's The Tales of the Lost Formicans, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

6. Robert Siodmak's The Killers from 1946 is an awesome piece of film noir. The Criterion Collection DVD, which I recently Netflixed, also contains all kinds of articles and interviews about the film noir movement, which really enhanced my knowledge on the subject. It also contains an early short film by Andrei Tarkovsky of Ernest Hemingway's story. Really cool.
It also firmly proved the point in my head that that history teacher in university all those years ago who said that film noir was a movement of the 1950's was off his rocker. I thought so at the time (and questioned him in class) but I never really got an answer until yesterday. I still don't know what that guy was talking about.

I still haven't been to the movies yet this weekend. Bee Season, anyone?

09 November 2005

The Long Christmas Ride Home

I've never read any of Paula Vogel's work, which is surprising because seemingly everyone has read her Pulitzer-winning How I Learned to Drive. Everyone, that is, except for me. My friend even worked on that play in a scene study class we took together, I think. Anyway, I never read it. But tonight I read her play The Long Christmas Ride Home (that's two plays so far this week: geez).
The reason I decided to read The Long Christmas Ride Home is because I'm feeling like I haven't directed a play in forever (it's really only been a week and a half, if you're counting) and it's nearing Christmas and I was thinking how nice it was when I directed a one-night-only performance of Thornton Wilder's very sad play The Long Christmas Dinner. So in my little head I was thinking maybe I would hit upon another play I could do super-quick in perhaps a reading-only format. I don't know. Crazy, I guess.
The thing is, The Long Christmas Ride Home really is a throwback to Thornton Wilder: a nod in his direction, if you will. It clearly takes a lot of its cues from Wilder's short plays The Long Christmas Dinner, Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Happy Journey from to Trenton and Camden. I mean, it's title is itself a not-so-subtle reference to Wilder. For me, though, Vogel's play, while cutting close to the bone and somewhat autobiographical and certainly heartfelt, seemed to lack scope... or maybe depth. I'm not sure, really, but by tying herself to the three Thornton Wilder plays from the start (she mentions him and the plays explicitly in the notes at the beginning) she set the bar a little high. I like her flair though, and perhaps the play is meant to be seen (it was originally staged with puppets in the bun raku style) and not read.
Anyway, it makes me want to read some of her other work. Anyone have anything to say about Paula Vogel? I know hardly anything, so input is welcome.

Free Wallets

Judith Miller "retires" from The New York Times. Whatever. I mean, this woman has been kowtowing to the Bush administration for so long, who even cares? And then she went to county lock-up like she was some kind of saint or martyr, when in reality she was covering up for a man who has now been indicted on felony perjury charges and perhaps worse.

I went shopping tonight. ExpressMen sent me a coupon for a free wallet (it's not much: a small thing that will only hold my license and two or three credit cards, but cute) and $25 off anything in the store. Heck yeah. I bought a pair of citron-washed distressed jeans that I had been admiring. Oh yeah, and in the free wallet: another $25 off coupon.
Anyway, I've been working so much overtime at ***** now that Hard Times has closed, so I guess I deserve a little time out shopping.

06 November 2005

Applications Shmaplications

Why am I such a slacker?
The thing I want most in life is to be in school again next fall (2006), but do I feel like doing any writing so that I can prove I have the ability to research and write about it?
Nope. Nope. Nope. I'd much rather sit on the computer listening to Regina Spektor, drinking Czech beer and reading Oscar chatter on the web. Grrr. I frustrate even myself. I can't imagine how my friends cope.

Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman / Kinski, Aguirre, Herzog

I think I'm getting soft in my old age. I finished The Pillowman today. A play that is mostly about unforgiveable child murders (but is also about totalitarianism and childhood and moral quandaries where brutal art is concerned). said he loved The Pillowman and it is definitely poetic and lovely at times, as well as incredibly--almost impossibly--sad in places. But...

I guess I just don't deal too well with the brutality involved in the show. I am not having a reaction similar to my reaction to Sarah Kane's Cleansed, but a quieter, more ambivalent one. I think The Pillowman is, in some ways, necessary. It is certainly well-crafted and often moving. I think parts are hasty or strangely-phrased, but I mostly think it's a good play. I'm just not sure I'm glad that I've read. I'm not sure who would benefit from reading it. And my intestines squirm a little when I think about the images The Pillowman provided me.

Like I said: getting soft. I never used to have such difficult reactions to brutality and horror.

*

All that talk about Werner Herzog's 1972 film Aguirre, the Wrath of God being one of the best movies ever made is on the money. I finally watched it this morning. It's fascinating, totally crazy and beautiful to watch. Klaus Kinski looks absolutely insane and the shots of the Amazonian jungle are fabulous.

05 November 2005

Detective Story by Sidney Kingsley

Why aren't there any anthologies of the plays of Sidney Kingsley out there?

Someone needs to get on this A.S.A.P.--like, the Library of America or something. He would be perfect for the Library of America, actually. They could publish his complete works in one of their beautiful anthologies. I don't know why no one is doing this.
Anyway, I am excited about the playwright again, and I assume a lot of other people are as well, what with the revival of Kingsley's Dead End this year at the Ahmanson Theatre. I have a renewed interest because this morning I watched William Wyler's film of Kingsley's play Detective Story. It's a hard-nosed look at a day in the life of a detective who only sees things black and white. It's such an interesting portrait of a "good" man. Kirk Douglas plays the main detective, Jim McLeod and Eleanor Parker plays his wife. The whole thing takes place in the office of the 21st precinct in New York. It's all very familiar territory for Kingsley, it felt like to me. Kingsley's brushstroke is wide: he is concerned with people of all classes and all walks of life and so there are far more characters than there ever ought to be in a play and yet it works. There are also very small cameos by people who are really very influential characters. You know what I mean if you saw or if you've read Dead End. Characters who are all-important in the drama or the story appear on stage only for a single seven- or eight-minute scene. Other characters, often characters not totally essential to the story itself, remain on stage the entire length of the show: in Dead End it's the street boys, who act as makeshift narrators to the drama. Because of this, there are a lot of great roles in the show. Detective Story is the same, with the location remaining the same, but the people and stories moving in and out of the container with seamless fluidity.

The amazing thing about Kingsley, though, is his understanding of character. The Ahmanson revival of Dead End was all about production, so it does me no good to cite it as an example of Kingsley's understanding of human nature, but if you've ever seen the film with Humphrey Bogart and Joel McRea, you know that the play itself is all about character. Kingsley pushes his characters to the brink and then asks them to pick up and go on with their lives. His portrait of Detective McLeod is masterful and tragic and Kirk Douglas's portrayal so intense that I find it simply unbelievable that the Academy didn't nominate him in 1952. He would get nominated in 1953 for The Bad and the Beautiful, but these folks should have been paying better attention to Detective Story. What Kingsley does here with character is simply astounding. He takes a man and builds him up before our eyes: makes us respect him, like him a great deal, and show us all the great noble things about him. Then he turns on his character ever so slightly and turns on us as well: slowly we realize, not that our hero doesn't belong on a pedestal, but that we've put him there because of our own rigidity. It is we, the audience, who is prejudiced, and we never knew it. But Mr. Kingsley isn't done. After our hero falls and we know it, he mercifully lets McLeod realize his own folly and the floodgates open. McLeod has failed and after we've judged him and ourselves, Kingsley asks us to pity him, as we ought to have done all along.
It is a beautiful, clever American play that has a profound understanding of human nature.

*

Oh yeah, and I saw Chicken Little last night. It's fucking horrible. I put it at the bottom of my list for '05: barely above Revenge of the Sith. Spare yourselves and avoid this Disney piece of shit.

03 November 2005

In Dreams

My nightly dreams lately have been all about frustration: Not being able to find what I want at the grocery, using the wrong keys at work, etc. This is a trend and has been for a week or two now. As I go through my day, vague snatches of images or thoughts about these dreams will come back to me, and while I don't remember the dreams in the morning, they come to me vague but vivid in the middle of the day at the airport or at a sushi bar in Hollywood. It's so strange.
And my theory about dreams in general is that the mind wants to remind us about things we're suppressing in our waking lives. Now, I don't know what opinions you all out there have formed of me, but I doubt any of you would say that I'm suppressing my frustration. "Frustrated" is probably the first word that comes to your mind when you think of me (after "gay.")

Who knows.

Okay, off to an HOA meeting. Maybe I'll get voted off the board.


I can only hope I do.

01 November 2005

Résumé

Directing
Crave by Sarah Kane (Gold Lamé Entertainment, 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (Gold Lamé Entertainment, 2008)
The New Musical Project (Little Egg Productions, 2007)
The Birthday Present — music by Eric Day; book and lyrics by Kirsten A. Guenther
The Adventures of Gilda — music by Eric Day; book and lyrics by Dan Collins
Soon Never — music by Julia Meinwald; book and lyrics by Shoshana Greenberg & Kirsten A. Guenther
What Happens Here — music by Julia Meinwald; book and lyrics by Dan Collins
The Voice My Mother Gave Me Set Me Free by Brittney Kalmbach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2006)
In Between Lines by Joseph Ngo (Stages Theater, 2006)
Boys' Life by Howard Korder (Ultimate Improv, 2006)
Charles Dickens' Hard Times by Stephen Jeffreys (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2005)
The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare (Southern California Shakespeare Festival, 2005)
Voices from the Y Generation (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2005)
PaperClip Romance — by Joseph Ngo
Power Trip — by Rick Lacuesta
Pluck the Day — by Matthew Guerra
Call Me Tomorrow — by Wahima Lino
Valparaiso by Don DeLillo (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2004)
Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (Prizm Productions, 2004)
The Sin Project: Four Short Plays by Thornton Wilder (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2004)
The Drunken Sisters
The Wreck on the Five-Twenty-Five
Someone from Assissi
Bernice
The Long Christmas Dinner by Thornton Wilder (CSUP Downtown Center, 2003)
Closer by Patrick Marber (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2003)
Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kaufman (Alpha Psi Omega Presents, 2003)
Terminating or Sonnet LXXV or “Lass meine Schmerzen nicht verloren sein” or Ambivalence by Tony Kushner (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002)
The Odd Couple by Neil Simon (Faith Lutheran High School, 2001)

Assistant Directing
It Came from Beyond (The Colony Theatre, 2003) Director: Jeff Calhoun
The Crucible (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2003) Director: Linda Bisesti
The Myth of Pomona (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002) Directors: Annie Dennis, Robert Gilbert

Coaching, Etc.
She Stoops to Conquer, or The Mistakes of a Night Dramaturg (Florida State University School of Theatre, 2009)
The Tamer Tamed, or The Woman's Prize Dramaturg (Florida State University School of Theatre, 2008)
Just Cause Dramaturg (Florida State University School of Theatre, 2006)
Charles Dickens' Hard Times British Dialect Coach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2005)
The Foreigner British Dialect/Vocal Coach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2004)
Cloud 9 British Dialect Coach (Alpha Psi Omega Presents, 2004)
Love’s Labour’s Lost Dramaturg (Southern California Shakespeare Festival, 2004)
The Crucible Vocal Coach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2003)
Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde British Dialect Coach (Alpha Psi Omega Presents, 2003)
Othello Vocal Coach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002)
The Myth of Pomona Production Stage Manager (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002)
Tartuffe Assistant Vocal Coach (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2001)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile Voice Warm-up Leader (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2001)
Second Street Project Company Member (CSUP Downtown Center, 2000-2002)

Acting
Hamlet, Laertes (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2001)
The Bakkhai, Dionysus (Second Street Project, 2000)
Othello, Roderigo (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002)
Hamlet, Rosencrantz (CSU Long Beach Summer Festival, 2003)
Halcyon’s Days: an Adaptation of Henry VI, Winchester (CSU Pomona Summer Festival, 2002)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Visitor/Elvis Presley (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2001)
Arcadia, Noakes (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2000)
Lynette at 3 AM, Bobby (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2002)
Tartuffe, Loyal (CSU Pomona Theatre, 2001)

Training
M.A. Theatre Studies - 2008, Florida State University
Thesis: Violence and the Queer Subject in the Plays of David Rudkin and Mark Ravenhill
Faculty: Cameron Jackson (Director), T. Lynn Hogan (Dean), Mary Karen Dahl,
Natalya Baldyga, Carrie Sandahl, Elizabeth Osborne

B.A. Theatre Arts - 2003, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Faculty: Linda Bisesti, Jeanine Lambeth Eastham, Dr. Robert L. Gilbert, Josh Machamer,
Christine Menzies, William Morse II, Leslie Rivers, Bernardo Solano, Kathleen Waln

Theatre of the Oppressed Workshop - 2003, University of Southern California
Instructor: Augusto Boal

Canada's National Voice Intensive Participant - 2002, University of British Columbia
Faculty: David Smukler, Judith Koltai, Dale Genge, Ian Raffel, Gail Murphy, Gerry Trentham, Gary Logan


Distinctions
Florida State University School of Theatre College Teaching Fellow: 2006–2007
Cal Poly Pomona Alpha Psi Omega Annual Excellence Award Nominee: 2005-2006 (Hard Times)
Cal Poly Pomona Alpha Psi Omega Annual Excellence Award Nominee: 2004-2005 (Valparaiso)
Cal Poly Pomona Alpha Psi Omega Annual Excellence Award Nominee: 2003-2004 (The Sin Project)
Cal Poly Pomona Alpha Psi Omega Annual Excellence Award Nominee: 2002-2003 (Closer)
Cal Poly Pomona Alpha Psi Omega Annual Excellence Award Nominee: 2002-2003 (Gross Indecency: the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde)

30 October 2005

Shopgirl

Shopgirl would be a sweet little romantic comedy if it weren't so sad. This isn't a bad thing. It is essentially a positive, happily-ending story and I don't want to give it away or anything, but Shopgirl is not your normal romantic movie.
Don't trust the trailer. The film isn't really about Claire Danes choosing between the quirky, messy, always-borrowing-two-dollars Jason Schwartzman and the put-together, wealthy, way-too-old-for-her-but-in-an-intriguing-way-and-not-a-gross-way Steve Martin. Shopgirl, based on Martin's novella of the same name is really about what we need--or, rather--what women need--or, rather--what Steve Martin seems to think they need. Women, you'll find out from Martin's seemingly omniscient narrator, need to be protected and respected and loved completely, which is okay, I guess.
The film is decent, often quite funny, and beautiful. Claire Danes is lovely and gives a wonderful, standout performance of haplessness coupled with grace. Jason Schwartzman is fun and self-deprecating and I find him strangely hot. Steve Martin gives the second Bill Murray performance of the year, pained and a little sickly throughout. The script is overly long and gets distracted rather often, but the jokes are funny and the script's exploration of what a young man has to offer over an older one is very interesting. The narration is the film's largest problem; it bookends the film and also inserts itself peskily into parts of the film that director Anand Tucker evidently thought needed explanation. (After their first date Martin's character narrates Danes's characters thoughts. Don't ask me to explain how this is possible, because I don't really think it makes much sense.) Really, the narration is little more than annoying and rarely helpful. Things Tucker has decided are too difficult to show us, he chooses to tell us through a voice we come to trust less and less as the film continues.
I should also say I liked the score, which is quite beautiful if a little insistent.

How will it fare with Oscar? Danes could get some awards notice come year's end, but I wouldn't expect much else from this picture.
Cheers, mates.

Solitude?

I'm at home and my show has closed and none of my friends is answering their phone. This would normally be an okay thing, but I was trying to save myself from brooding and instead I think I will just give into it. I could spend time trying to remove myself from this pattern of self-pity, but self-pity can make a person feel really rather full and being full of melancholy is better than feeling empty.

I am so predictable. No show to work on... it's over for one day and I get myself into a funk. And I realize that all of this work is very good at killing loneliness and perhaps I ought to pay attention to that. I mean, I fill my life with work because I receive pleasure from it, but I'm also drowning out all of that time that I would be spending alone. I enjoy my solitude--at least I always thought I did--but I realize more and more that I am a lonely human being. I need to work at that.

29 October 2005

Directing Stuff; Hard Times; More Long-term Goals

So the story with Hard Times is that it--well, it has its troubled spots but seems to be appreciated by all who've seen it so far. The show was much better last night than it was on Thursday, the audience was accordingly more receptive and most of them stayed through the whole thing. The lines were down a lot better yesterday, too, and I think the performances are much improved from the terror I was feeling a week ago.
And the important people... that is, those whose opinions I value most in my life really liked the show. Tito truly loved the show; my boss (Bill, the chair of the Department of Theatre) thought the show was wonderful--he went on and on about what a great director I was and picked out his favorite directing moments. My parents and sister also really loved the show. This show really struck a nice chord with them. Aaron and Kim weren't quite so rhapsodic, and Wahima, well, Wahima is the hardest critic I know but they all thought the show was good.

As for me, I'm delighted that people are responding positively to the show. I'm not sure where it puts me. I mean, the show still isn't really my kind of thing. I wish it were shorter, cleaner in places, wish things about some of the performances were different. It's a beautiful show, and I've thought that for some time, but it isn't a show that I would ever choose to do in a million years: not enough cruelty or comedy or straight-talk I suppose, I don't know. Not enough deviance, perhaps, or shocking behavior. I'm not sure what I object to, really, except that maybe the show is just too traditional for me when it comes right down to it. On the other hand, it is nice, finally, to do a show where there is some production value--it was equally satisfying in that respect to do Valparaiso last year, though of course there were things I would change about that show as well. So I guess I continue ambivalent about the show. It seems a small thing to me still, no matter Hard Times' scope and length: it is the space that is small and my work that continues to feel small, even when we sell out, which we have done two nights in a row. And no matter how much Bill says he appreciates me and loves having me at the school and thinks I'm a wonderful director, there is the pesky matter of money and the lack of any permanent standing at the college. I have none and I don't expect to have any in the future. They don't want me there permanently and I what I have to offer is still very limited, I suppose. There is a restlessness in my heart, a longing to do bigger things... I'm not even sure what I mean by that, but I want to be able to innovate, to bring new things to the table, to explore theatrically. I can be counted on as a sturdy director; I can get up a two-and-a-half hour show in five weeks: we all know that now, I guess. I can teach dialects fairly well in that time and engineer and supervise a difficult piece like this one and bring it from an ungovernable mass to a watchable, mostly-interesting show. I'm not sure what more I want but I know I want more. I want to be given more time and more money and a larger pool of actors. Perhaps this is not the place where I will get that, and perhaps it will be a long time before I do, but right now, I think that's my goal with directing.

*
Oh, and why is it that a man of whom I am very fond felt the need to say to me... oh never mind. I'm such a Pisces sometimes. It's so funny.
I build up a thing so much in my mind.
Something so small: a little phrase, a drunken statement in the middle of a night can take me far away so easily.
Suddenly, I am ten years ahead, thinking of what I'll be doing then and how fulfilled I could be.
Dreams don't die so easily.
The emptiness that lurks inside of me sometimes yawns wide and I implode a little: fall back onto myself and my heart expands to find that there's not enough room for its new size.

21 October 2005

Improved Prospects

I feel better. Not about the show: rehearsal was pretty much as hard to sit through as ever tonight. But I feel better in my heart. I'm kind of letting it go... I can only do my work.

20 October 2005

Times Is Hard

Maybe I was a little unkind last night... It's just that the cast doesn't really know it's lines.
Well, in actuality, Joe knows most of his lines. But I feel so helpless about the whole situation. I mean, the show is in good shape, or would be if the lines were there. There are things I want to watch and fix and make better and more interesting. There is the musicality of the show to consider: when the show is quiet and when it should be loud and the different aesthetic things that I as a director am able to influence and shape. These are things to which I cannot pay attention because the lines just aren't there. The bare bones of the show just don't exist and there's nothing I can do about it! It's a difficult time. Oh well. I will hope for a better time tonight...

GRR.

I'm so angry at my cast that I can't talk about it. I need to go to bed.
I have never been this pissed at a single group of people since I had a discussion about women's rights with my (crazy, right-wing) family.

16 October 2005

Just Keeping You Posted

I've seen a couple of good movies recently, and tonight I saw a truly excellent movie which I have since moved to the very top of my list for 2005. The list is a work in progress, of course. there are many more films to see before year's end, but Good Night, and Good Luck. is something special. Go see it.

Recent films in Boldface.

1. Good Night, and Good Luck.
2. Me and You and Everyone We Know
3. A History of Violence
4. Junebug
5. The Constant Gardener
6. Capote
7. Kingdom of Heaven
8. Thumbsucker
9. Downfall
10. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
11. Batman Begins
12. Millions
13. The Upside of Anger
14. In Her Shoes
15. 3-iron
16. Cinderella Man
17. Kung Fu Hustle
18. Wedding Crashers
19. Melinda and Melinda
20. 2046
21. Walk on Water
22. Mysterious Skin
23. Broken Flowers
24. Last Days
25. Heights
26. Proof
27. Monster-in-law
28. Sin City
---------------------------
29. All the King's Men
30. Ladies in Lavender.
31. Steamboy
32. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

14 October 2005

Cleansed

I guess I should thank Sarah Kane, because I feel like she has given me back something of a dialogue that I can have about theatre. After having such a strong reaction to the completely-in-French production of her 4.48 Psychosis, I've picked up her Complete Plays and been reading them. I've read three now this week and will read the other two in the next couple of days.
Now, I consider 4.48 Psychosis to be a good play. I didn't particularly care for Blasted or Phaedra's Love, as you can read here. But today at lunch I read her third play, Cleansed and boy, did I have a strong reaction to it. I haven't felt this strongly about a piece of theatre in a long long time.

Repulsed is probably the best word for it. I found Cleansed to be utterly revolting, indescribably disgusting and gratuitously violent. I am so completely turned off by this play that, though I obviously find it challenging, I won't recommend that any of you read it. Spare yourselves the images and sentiments delivered in this play. Honestly, you'll be doing yourself a favor by skipping this one. I could begin to describe the depravity that this play contains, but suffice it to say that the show is incredibly and graphically violent--unstageably violent, even--and that's before a field of daffodils sprouts up from the stage floor.

12 October 2005

What I Wanted to Post Yesterday

This is the poster for my new show, which, incidentally, opens two weeks from tomorrow:
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Oh yeah, and here's a fun photo that my friend Christina sent me. That's yours truly all the way to the left, my Vegas friend Christina in the center (it was her birthday) and our old teacher and dear friend Joyce on the right:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Good night, everyone. I should be asleep now.

11 October 2005

Good Morning, Son

Hello again, it's me.

Hard Times is going, surprisingly, for the amount of time we've been rehearsing. I finished blocking the whole thing today and not a minute to spare. We're halfway through the entirety of the rehearsal period.

Oh, and we have a poster! To wit:

[Grr. I can't load it right now 'cause photobucket is down, but, perhaps tomorrow.] For now, you can go here to see it.

I don't know. Not much going on. I'm still writing every morning, though it was frustrating to do so this morning and continues to be so occasionally. It is good to have a commitment in life that doesn't waver. I have so few.
Oh yeah, and after seeing 4.48 Psychosis on Friday, I have read two more of Ms. Sarah Kane's plays: Blasted and Phaedra's Love. Now, I really liked 4.48 Psychosis and perhaps I will like her other two plays, but I didn't particularly care for either Blasted or Phaedra's Love. Ms. Kane seems obsessed with a sort of unstageable, defiant brutalism. In Blasted, for instance, a man eats a baby after being fucked from behind by a soldier and having the barrel of a sniper rifle shoved up his ass onstage. The soldier also urinates all over the bed of a hotel room in the show as well as consuming two full breakfasts in the course of a few minutes. In Phaedra's Love, Hippolytus gets his genitals cut off by a mob of people and the genitals are then roasted on one of those little mini-barbecues. Then, after Theseus rapes and murders his step-daughter onstage, he slits his own throat and dies. Hippolytus is then gutted and his intestines are similarly removed and barbecued.
You get the idea. I know I am reducing what is supposed to be really interesting theatre to its bare unstageably ridiculous violence, but I can't help it. (It rather reminds me of Mark Ravenhill's Shopping and Fucking--a play I also think is mostly crap.) It all just seems so preposterous and I don't even understand what the point of all this brutality is.
Anyway, that's what I'm reading these days.

08 October 2005

Weird Theatre

I had a very strange theatrical experience this evening. I think it would have been strange if the whole thing had been in English, but as it was it was even stranger.

I went to the Freud Playhouse on the campus at UCLA tonight to see a production of late playwright Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychose. It was written in English originally, but it was performed (this was partly the reason I went) for this production in French by the famous film actress Isabelle Huppert, whom you might know from such movies as Entre Nous, Clean Slate, Merci pour le Chocolat, I [Heart] Huckabees, The Piano Teacher, 8 Women, Ma Mère--you get the idea: it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. So I decided to go. 4.48 Psychose has gotten good reviews of its own: last year UCLA live put up the original production of the show and everyone was talking about it then. I even bought the play and had it somewhere around the house to read at some (I thought distant) point in the future. I was informed that the show would have English supertitles. The opera always does and I expected no less from UCLA live.

The thing is, I knew nothing at all about the show except its title, that the author had killed herself very shortly after writing it, and a vague recollection of something I had read about the set. Boy was I unprepared. The supertitles were few and far between and the play is a two hour exploration of madness and psychosis without respite. They even announced it at the beginning: "The show is two hours long. There isn't an intermission. If you leave the theatre, you will not be allowed back in. Turn your fucking phones off." The staging was as follows. Ms. Huppert stood at the center of the stage in front of a silvery static-like scrim that was hung on the proscenium pipe. She faced full front and moved only her hands--not her arms, at all--the entire two hours. There was a second character: a kind of doctor-lover who stood always behind the scrim and always at an angle. We never saw his face until curtain call. The lighting was really cool and the play is about form way more than it is about content, so I think it was okay to see it first in a language I couldn't comprehend. See, I know barely any French at all. My French is limited to words in the titles of movies: huit, trés, trois, fort, femmes, les quatre cents coups.
Anyway, it was weird. Really cool, and very emotionally unsettling--quite haunting, really. I guess I have to read the play, now.

The next show in the UCLA live theatre festival they're having is a Polish company called Song of the Goat performing a play about mourning called Lamentation or something like that. It's based on the Epic of Gilgamesh. It's next week. I think I'm going to go to that too.

05 October 2005

Oh My, an Update

I guess I'm on schedule for Hard Times but it sure as Hell don't feel like it.

I'd love to write a whole long wonderful post, but I just haven't the time, folks. Perhaps I will hit you up with a remembrance of sorts on the weekend: oh that it were here already! It is Wednesday night and I have another night of rehearsal and two more days of work before I can rest. And even then... The weekend will be full. When one has no time during the week, one's friends make it a point to cram one's weekend full of non-negotiable engagements. Last week, my friend Linda had me out to see her in a show (The Tragedy of King John) in which she didn't perform after all, and this Saturday it is a friend's birthday (and I just got the invitation this afternoon!)

Speaking of Southern California Shakespeare's production of King John (this is the show that ran directly after Two Gentlemen), I didn't particularly care for it. I have a lot of gripes, most of which would not be half so important had the show not run over three hours. A three hour Shakespeare play is something I consider nearly unforgivable.

More when I have the time, friends. Drop me an email or leave me a comment in the mean time to let me know you still love me.

"I admit I've seen better days but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail and a salted peanut." - Margo Channing

(I bought peanuts today at the grocery, in case you wondered why Margo's voice popped into my head.)

01 October 2005

Oscar Season, My Friends!

Supposedly, Oscar Season doesn't begin until December the 1st with the announcement of the National Board of Review's awards, but the first For Your Consideration ads are out in Variety according to OscarWatch. This is so exciting! Plus, Justin and I went to see A History of Violence last night, (It Fucking Rocks) and it got me all excited about the Oscars and what's coming up!

At any rate, here is the first ad for the season: Junebug.
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And let me just jump on the bandwagon and push for a Supporting Actress nomination for the endearing Amy Adams in that film.