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

28 August 2005

Howards End Pt. 2

I was more tired than I can remember feeling in a long time. So I finished Howards End tonight. I had forgotten how much I love it.
I always think of Allan when I see a European film like this with beautiful costumes and managed emotions laying just under sleek surfaces. I seem to recall him saying, "If I want to look at a painting, I will." I was probably praising Fanny and Alexander at the time. It makes me smile to think of it, but honestly, if I were to direct films, I think the films of James Ivory (and to a slightly lesser degree Ingmar Bergman) would be the kinds of films I would direct.
That is, Allan, films you would never watch. Good thing it is you who will be the film director.

Two Gentlemen Redux

I don't think I have ever felt affection for a cast like I feel for this one. I am so happy with all of my actors. Not that they all work hard, because they don't all work hard, really (I think they will work if I give them time off, but they don't.) But I love them all so and they are all very talented.

From poetpainter77

1. Go into your LJ archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog.

I am such a sucka.

27 August 2005

James Ivory Is My Hero

Popped Howards End in the DVD player for a bit and it made me happier than I've been in a while. Or maybe I'm just in a generally good mood. That movie is so beautiful.

Lazy Saturday

Yesterday. I went to Danny & Ashley's new place in the city of Whittier, which, I was surprised to find out, is not at all far from my own humble abode, about as far as, say, my parents' house or most of my other friends' houses. I arrived at the new pad around 7:30p and was delighted I was on time because it was only me and Danny and Ashley and Romeo & Juliet for a good twenty or thirty minutes before the deluge. People began arriving unceasingly after that and the party started really hopping. The apartment is absolutely enormous and thank goodness it is or all of the people that came (30-40) wouldn't have fit. I had a great time and it hadn't felt like I'd been there for any time at all by the time I left around 1:00a.

This Morning. I woke up, wrote my morning pages, text-messaged a few theatrical suggestions to my friend Justin and sat myself down to watch Psycho, which I never had seen before. I know, I know, but you could pave a street with important films I've never seen. Sometimes I think of all the books I haven't read and all the films I've never seen and all the plays I've never witnessed and I just get overwhelmed. But I digress. Psycho is fucking great and I loved everyone in the cast. Janet Leigh is pure star-power, giving a subtle, riveting performance and Anthony Perkins is so adorable it hurts. I just wanted to comfort him throughout the whole film. I have seen Is Paris Burning? and Murder on the Orient Express but I, frankly, don't remember Perkins in either film and I can't believe I've never seen any of his other work. I'm renting William Wyler's Friendly Persuasion next just to catch a glimpse of him.

This Afternoon. I read Allen Ginsberg's Howl out loud: a moving, wrenching exercise... not sure why I decided to do it, but I just started and before I could think about it I was done. And I've been researching graduate schools for at least an hour and a half now. It's painstaking and (quite frankly) boring as Hell, but there is an ultimate goal in sight and I have found a few true gems and added them to my list. I keep meaning to get back into Hard Times, but... well, I don't know. I'm tired. I feel tired.

I want to leave you with a little Allen Ginsberg. This is from his poem America, written in January 1956. It makes me think of a discussion I had with a woman at work about what she considers the probability and evil of Chinese hegemony:
America you don't really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red
Readers' Digest. Her wants our auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him make Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers. Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

23 August 2005

Twenty Forty-six

'Cause I I I I I never never never never never never never never never never never loved somebody the way that I loved you.

Tonight I saw Wong Kar-Wai's film 2046, which is a follow up to my favorite of his films: In the Mood for Love. Both star the beguiling Tony Leung Chui Wai, with whom I might be in love were it not for my devotion to Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro. At any rate, 2046 is, to my mind a bit of a failure for Wong. I don't want to be super critical, but I know that as I watched it, having highly anticipated the film for months, I found myself a little bored. The performances are all top-notch, my favorite being a manipulative and then painful turn by the fabulous Chinese actress Li Gong, and the most showy being a strong, moving portrayal by Zhang Ziyi, an actress to whom I haven't totally warmed, but who gives a really stand-out performance in this film.
The movie itself, though, gets bogged down in a (quite lengthy) fantasy sequence about an android/girl (Faye Wong, who I also love) who doesn't feel completely important to the story, and so strays from the important relationships in the story: those with Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. The android sequences are so long, that the ending only half-works and instead feels rushed and poetically incomplete. Another problem is that the film doesn't have a uniform look like Wong's films usually have. The film feels disjointed and even episodic at times... even more so than, say, Chung King Express, a film with two completely unrelated stories.

21 August 2005

It's Times Like These I Wish I Had a Camera Phone

I'm in love. With a piece of furniture. Well it's not really so much furniture as it is a decorative item for my dining room. After purchasing a Veronese-style sconce at Z Gallerie, I went music shopping (picked up More Adventurous, Rilo Kiley's new album, which you should own if you don't) and then I got way-laid by Pier One. Well, it was more like, "I never go into this store because it feels like a big enormous chain that doesn't really carry any style with it, but maybe I'll try it out... I might like it after all, and this is a weekend for changing my mind about things I thought were for preppy white people."
And then... I saw this enormous clay pot and I fell in love with it. And I actually purchased it. It has absolutely no functional purpose whatsoever. It's merely an objet d'art, but it's currently taking up a large amount of previously unused space in my dining room and I love it.

And tonight after rehearsal, Wahima and I went with Ashley to see a production of Merrily We Roll Along (the Sondheim musical) in Brea. It was, not too surprisingly, quite a good show, and three of us had a very nice time.

Oh yeah, and I don't know if I told you LJ, but I'm doing the Artist's Way morning pages again and I think it's really helping me. It means I have to get up a half hour early but I just do it and the commitment seems easy, like that first week on the South Beach Diet. It's just something I'm doing now: waking up a half hour early and writing three pages in my journal. And it's great.

Old Friends

This is from my friend Christina:
A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

20 August 2005

Rockin' the Suburbs

Downloading music for free is a habit that has become hard to break. It makes me sad, but I'm going to try to reform.

Saw Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds last night. They both so totally rocked. It was awesome. I was trying to be all snobbish about Ben Folds (you know, white preppy, middle-class music and all) but he won me over completely. He's actually a real rock artist and he has a groovy anti-religious, anti-Republican vibe that I was digging. Rufus was his fabulous cabaret self as usual, although I would've preferred seeing him with an audience who was there to see him, you know? Most of the folks at the Wiltern last night were there for Mr. Folds. Rufus's set was awesome, though. He did a pumped up, rocked-out version of "Art Teacher" and he actually sang "Poses," a song I've never heard live. Plus he sang "Memphis Skyline" and "One You Love" and "Gay Messiah" and then during Ben Folds' set, he came back and they covered "Careless Whisper" together. The audience went apeshit.

After the concert I headed up to Big Wang's on Cahuenga and Sunset for a birthday party appearance. Big Wang's is cool too! Good, rather cheap beer in the middle of Hollywood. Who knew? Valet parking is $10, but I found rock star parking less than a block away. And the birthday girl was very glad I went.

Oh yeah, some Australian guy named Ben Lee played at the Wiltern, too, and for the life of me I can't figure out why anyone likes this guy. He has a sort of "we're all in this together / love one another" vibe that is, I suppose, sweet, but he can't write lyrics (two of the half-dozen songs he sang last night began with "I've been thinking about...") and his melodies are uninteresting and conservative. He's happy and excited, so it would seem rude to be negative about him, but he just hasn't got the goods from what I've seen.

19 August 2005

Radio Golf

Last evening I saw the final installment of what everyone is calling August Wilson's "ten-play cycle." I'm not sure I know quite what that means, but I suppose it's as good an expression as any to describe what Wilson tried to do (and, I think, succeeded in doing.) Mr. Wilson decided many years ago to write ten plays: one play for each decade of the Twentieth century. Each play is about the experience of Black Americans in the United States, and all but the first of the plays is set in Pittsburgh. I'm not sure I remember all of the plays' titles, but I know I've seen Jitney, King Hedley II and Gem of the Ocean. The other plays are Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone and I can't really remember the other ones. The thing is, the plays aren't all good... or at least not all as good as one another. Some of the plays were written in the 1970s, when Wilson was a very young playwright, unsure of his voice, and obsessed too much with personal melodramas and not enough with epic Black-American struggles.

Radio Golf (now at the Mark Taper Forum) is the last play in the cycle in more ways than one. It is the last play he has written and it is the play that covers the final decade in the cycle: the 1990s. Having seen three of the shows already, and unabashedly loved two of them (finding Gem of the Ocean powerful and rather unparalleled, King Hedley II beautiful, sweeping and Greek in its sense of tragedy), I was disappointed in this final chapter of Wilson's saga. In some ways I wish it would have tied more things together, and yet, I wish he would have done less summing-up and more re-invention. The play's purpose seems to be saying that Black Americans need to pay attention to their history--that all Americans need to pay attention to their history. But it's an old message... one better accomplished in Wilson's plays about those times and the other side of the show: the political side is old and stale. The politics of 1997 are no longer interesting and consumerism and elitism is not an interesting or an epic topic, to my mind. The show lacks a purpose, really. It feels like an earlier, less important work for Wilson, as though its only reason for being were to close off the ten-play cycle and allow Wilson to move on. I can't imagine the show being much of a success. It's essentially a situation comedy, really, more than it is anything else, and could have been written by any number of playwrights, Black or White.

16 August 2005


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12 August 2005

The Airport Is Kicking My Ass

So much OT... so tired. I hate that on Friday nights I'm too tired to really do anything productive like visit with people. The gin and tonic I just polished off probably isn't helping.

Actually, the is coming over soon and we're gonna hit the cinema.

Oh yeah, and I made cherry cobbler yesterday... and I didn't have a recipe. There are things I would do differently next time, but I think I did quite nicely for just making shit up. And then Brittney came over (she's back from SRT) and we split a bottle of Zinfandel and three cigarettes. SRT changed her a lot. It was good for her.

Fuck. I accidentally paid my mortgage one day late last month and I got my new statement today: the late fee is THIRTY-EIGHT FUCKING DOLLARS! That's bullshit, man.

07 August 2005

Weekend Redux

I don't think I've posted about Junebug, a new film by a guy named Phil Morrison that I saw on Friday night. It's great. I have been seeing really good movies lately and I've been loving it. If you do get a chance to see this very interesting drama about red-state/blue-state value systems I would love to talk about it with you, so drop me a line. It's very challenging and I know I love the film, but I'm not sure how I feel about what it has to say. Anyway...

This weekend after watching In Old Arizona on DVD, I drove out to Cathedral City (near Palm Desert) to stay with my friends Linda & Matt for the evening. We spent the day in the pool (it's so fucking hot out there it's unbelievable) and then we walked down the street to have dinner with their friends Michael & Jim. I had such a nice time, and not just because of the free food. I love visiting my friends and spending quality time with them. Spending a good six or seven hours with people I love is one of the great joys in life. (I had a similarly enjoyable time with Justin, Elizabeth and Mike a couple weeks ago.)

So I drove back from the desert this morning and ran a rehearsal. Two Gentlemen, by all accounts, is going splendidly. I am not sure how I feel about the show itself, and sometimes I think I'm not getting quite as much work done as I want, but I am having a damn good time directing this show. It's a low-stress thing (except for that one hiccough last Sunday) and everyone in the show is my friend. That's as much fun as the work itself: watching people I love perform onstage. I mean, I always want my actors to succeed and to do good work, but I think it is an entirely different thing to direct a cast I care about as much as this one. It's like it was all those years ago when I did Gross Indecency except that I know this group better than I knew those actors, and I have been directing a lot longer.

After rehearsal, I came home and did laundry and watched a charming little film by Mike Binder called The Upside of Anger. I have been meaning to see it for a while because Nathaniel has consistently predicted since February that Joan Allen is going to get an Oscar nomination for the role. I still disagree with him on this, but I think the film is worth seeing. It's a nice rental. The reason I am recommending it, though, is because of Kevin Costner, who I think gives a stellar performance (inexplicably and unpredictably reminding me of my father in a lot of ways). When you see it, I think you'll see why I think Joan Allen is gonna be assed-out come January when the nominations are announced. The character is really really difficult to sympathize with. The writing is great, though, and Mike Binder could end up with a nomination... actually I don't think the film will be looking at any Oscar noms, but the film is a charming piece that plays very well... and I'm telling you, Costner rocks.

05 August 2005

I Know

I know, I know. I know Rent is crap. I know there really are only one or two good melodies in the whole thing. I know the show is passé. I know young, angry radicals who grew up with money but really, really, really want to be impoverished are silly. I know Chris Columbus is directing the movie version. I know it can't possibly be good (the man directed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and fucking Stepmom for chrissakes.)

But DAMN it. Watching this music video made a small tear form in my left eye and my right eye quickly followed suit. Rent is something I will never forget. As a young gay man it made a big impact on me, and I have such a soft spot in my heart for its angry, leftist musings.

*Original post edited for stupidity.

Two Things

1. I have been putting in some serious OT (well, more than usual). I worked a 10-hour day on Wednesday and today I worked a 9 1/2-hour shift.

2. I am in love with Kristen Chenoweth. I have been listening to "Popular" from Wicked on a loop for, like, a week.

04 August 2005

Elevator to the Gallows

Last night I went to the late screening of Ascenseur pour l'Échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows). It's Louis Malle's first film (he of Atlantic City, Dearest Heart, Lacombe Lucien, Au Revoir les Enfants and Damage). The movie was first released in the U.S. in 1961 and was re-released last Friday. I'm not sure how reviewers have talked about the film, but it's a really cool movie. It's a tense and taut and totally thrilling, with a really fascinating performance by Jeanne Moreau. Seeing Louis Malle's first film in a movie theater instead of on DVD is already pretty cool as far as I go; for me, though, the coolest thing about this movie is the score which is by... (drumroll) Miles Davis. Miles also plays on the soundtrack of course. It's awesome. I don't think it's the first time jazz was used so heavily in a film score (I've always been told that title goes to The Man with the Golden Arm, though I have yet to see it) but it is damned effective. In fact, it gives the film such a unique sound that I will recommend the film based on the score alone.

03 August 2005

What Do I Take with Me?

I was looking over some stuff today and I think I want to share something I wrote in June of 2002, when I studied in Vancouver at Canada's National Voice Intensive, an experience I recommend to all of my actor friends without exception.
Anyway, they asked us three questions (a number used with alarming frequency in theatre) when we left the Intensive and this is how I answered them:

What do I take away from the Intensive?
The right to experiment as an artist.
What am I going to work on for the next 6 months?
Not Knowing,
Removing Judgment and Increasing Specificity

What is my challenge?
To ask myself "What am I not saying?" in any situation, and note why I am silent.
To be an actor (with a softer sternum)
To be open to the criticisms of others
The need to speak.

I'm not sure why I think this is significant enough to share with you all, but looking at these answers makes me think a great deal.

02 August 2005

Guava Disaster!

As the (reluctant and resentful) birthday pastry chef of my department at work, I was commissioned to make what the recipe calls a "Guava Chiffon Cake" for the Hawaiian girl's birthday tomorrow. She hadn't tried the recipe, nor had anyone she known tried the recipe.
She handed it to me and I knew there was something wrong immediately: this chiffon cake called for sixteen egg whites in addition to five whole eggs. An astounding seven more eggs than an Angel Food Cake, and this for what was supposed to be a two-layer nine-inch round cake. Needless to say I was right: after preparing the enormous amount of batter called for in the instructions, I filled three nine-inch rounds, and I wasn't at all surprised when all of them rose much higher than they were supposed to (what with all those egg whites it's a wonder my oven didn't explode.)
A much worse problem lay in store for me, though. The recipe wanted me to frost the "Guava Chiffon Cake" with what it called an icing made of a full quart of whipping cream (whipped) to which I was expected to add a cup of guava juice. The directions then said to freeze this concoction and frost (and fill) the cake with it while still frozen. I took this frozen shit out of the freezer and tried to work with it but it was frozen and therefore unmanageable. Letting it thaw even a little made the so-called "icing" into soup and you try frosting a cake with soup. I knew this wasn't going to work from the first, too. It is extremely difficult to frost and fill a cake with whipped cream. It can be done: I have seen it, but there is usually something added to the whipped cream to help it keep it's shape. Cakes are already heavy and if you fill a cake with anything with a thinner consistency than regular buttercream, your top layer will squeeze nearly all of your desired filling out and onto the sides. There are clever baker's ways of combating this, but none of them were available to me and even if some of them had been...
The guava-flavored whipped cream (i.e. guava soup) tasted pretty good, but it was worthless as a frosting. I tried it for a while, but it just melted all over the place. Finally, I scraped it off the cake, dumped it out and tried something else.

I whipped up a fairly tasty sugar icing with guava juice used for the liquid, but I used some older-than-I-thought Crisco to make it and it tasted slightly rancid.
So I tried it again: this time with butter. This tasted even better: the butter and the guava juice complemented one another nicely. Using butter instead of Crisco makes for a runnier icing, but it worked out more or less and I was able to frost the cake with few pains from then on.
I am supposed to top this entire confection with a guava glaze (which is a lot like the lemon filling in a lemon meringue pie except that it's made with guava juice). I saved this task until tomorrow. I couldn't bear to do another thing to this cake.

Preparing sugar icing always makes me feel physically ill, by the way, which is one of the reasons I decorate cakes so sparingly nowadays. Something in the powdered sugar makes me all stuffed up and phlegmatic. Oh... and you'll notice if you read the above carefully that I made two batches of sugar icing, meaning that I had in my condominium four (count them: four) boxes of powdered sugar. Don't ask me why I was stocking up on that shit because I don't really know.

Four movies that I want to see come out this weekend: The Chumscrubber, Junebug, Wong Kar-Wai's 2046 and Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers. And there are still seven movies playing in theaters that I want to see (Howl's Moving Castle, Wedding Crashers, War of the Worlds, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Crash, Hustle & Flow and Elevator to the Gallows.) I need to quit making desserts and get to the cinema. Tomorrow I'm hauling my ass down to the One Colorado and watching the Miyazaki film.