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

28 April 2005

Something I wanted to share / Politics

First off, this article from All Things Considered. Nina Totenberg, my favorite reporter--because she reports on my favorite topic--gives a quick play-by-play of the Supreme Court's hearing of the Arthur Andersen case. Such good times.

Also, I was reading an article in The Gay and Lesbian Review the other day and something caught my eye. It was a review of a book called What's the Matter with Kansas?. The book was penned by a man named Thomas Frank and the review by Don Gorton. The title of the book is great, obviously, and I was drawn to the review. It doesn't seem like it's something I eventually want to read, really, but I found this fascinating paragraph, to wit:
Frank sees the culture wars as a diversionary exercise in political theatre, highly charged but largely unsuited to political resolution. Right-wingers are left to shake their firsts impotently at the increasing visibility of gays and lesbians, the prevalence of sex and violence in the media, teaching of evolution in schools, and liberal abortion rights. A force more powerful than the grassroots conservative movement is the corporate interest in maximizing profits, which puts sex and violence on TV because that's what sells. Working-class right-wingers expend their energies on symbolic cultural causes while corporate interests rule national economic life largely unfettered.

Gorton disagrees with Frank's assessment of the culture wars as--shall we say--inconsequential. He, like most left-minded thinkers, believes that a woman's right to choose is constantly in jeopardy and that gays and lesbians will be trampled upon with impunity by the religious right. And yes, the conservatives have been loud and obnoxious lately--actually, they were always obnoxious, they just seem to be screaming louder. But, honestly, I think that Frank is not really interested in arguing about the culture wars at all. Frank offers that the culture wars are not the point. American economics (and therefore American politics) are run by corporate profit margins and not by the grassroots religious-conservative movement(s), as loud and obnoxious as they are.

26 April 2005

VA, Lesbians and Measure for Measure

Sorry, LJ. Sometimes I get too busy to tell you things.

The people from Virginia called me two Fridays ago or something like that and asked me to fly out for an interview. From the sound of the admissions lady my acceptance is pretty much a done deal (that's just inference on my part, though, so I might be way off.) Anyway, they wanted to do all of the interviews in April, so I scheduled mine for April the 29th. I'm flying out on Thursday night around 11:00p, getting off the plane in North Carolina, getting on a minuscule commuter plane (seriously, with, like, twenty seats on it and shit) and flying in to Charlottesville Airport in Virginia at about 9:00a. From there I drive an hour to Staunton, take a campus tour and then have an interview with a whole bunch of faculty-type people (well, three anyway). That night I'm going to watch one of their shows. It just so happens that their doing Measure for Measure while I'm there, so that's good.

I don't know. I'm not really nervous. (Actually, I'm not nervous at all and maybe I should be.) Mostly I'm hoping I like the school and the school likes me.
If all goes well, I'll be living in Virginia by mid-August (!) That notion is slightly unnerving, less for the fact that I'll be alone and friendless and more for the fact that there won't be any movie theatres and the only eateries are the Red Lobster and Applebee's.

I'm coming back on Saturday night at 7:00 or so. I have tech the next day for Voices from the Y Generation, so I have to come back toute suite.

Final Days

I suppose that working with actors much older than university students would present its own set of problems, issues and grievances. The toughest thing for me is moving into tech. I change from being a (mostly) patient teacher to a man who needs to put a show up. My patience goes (mostly) out the window and my fuse gets shortened almost out of existence. I apologized to the actors in advance, knowing myself during tech, but I was impatient and irritated for most of the night last night.

Plus I leave for Virginia in fewer than 72 hours.

25 April 2005

Editing Issues

This comes from our [me and Rick's] super-quick editing session tonight, as well as my new fascination with the playwright Adam Rapp and his (in my estimation) genius-level plays Stone Cold Dead Serious and Faster, so bear with me.
One of the things I've been thinking about lately with respect to dialogue in theatre is what's important and what isn't. Obviously, I think poetry is always a huge part of what the theatre does. No matter what, poetic dialogue is not superfluous dialogue. It deserves a place in a play by simple virtue of its poetry. I feel much the same way about jokes, although with comedy there is always the question of timing. So much in the theatre is a spell that is easily broken and nothing is better at spoiling the magic than poorly timed comedy (okay, maybe bad acting). But jokes in theatre--I call anything that gets a laugh a joke, be it a sound cue or a hand movement or a punch line--earn their place simply by getting a laugh. They exist by virtue of their comedy.
The larger question has to do with dialogue that isn't comedic or poetic. My question is "what is the purpose of this dialogue?" Often the purpose of the dialogue is exposition. It's a little harsh to call exposition a necessary evil, but writers think about it this way a lot, and getting exposition to work well is very tricky. The other purpose of dialogue is character, and, by extension, relationship. Dialogue between two characters can create a relationship faster than any other device I can think of. It's faster than silence, faster than action, and way faster than a light cue or a sound cue. What I've been thinking about lately is that a lot of what creates a relationship onstage is not what's said but what doesn't need to be said. By that I don't mean things that are left unsaid, but things that are assumed between a couple, or even a group of people: shared history and ideals that creates the basis of a longstanding relationship but never needs to be mentioned onstage. The audience infers the facts they don't absolutely know, and the result can often be more interesting than if they were to tell their entire life-stories.
For me it works like the "magic secret" in acting. It creates a reality that exists for the actor, and even though the audience knows nothing about it, the secret fascinates them endlessly, because they know that they're missing something.

21 April 2005

Somethings Stay the Same: Like Time. There's Always Time.

I wonder. I feel as though the people with whom I most like spending my time are often the people with whom I spend the least amount of time. I guess I don't see anyone anymore now that I am working so much, so that sentence doesn't mean a damn thing. Jai came to visit me this evening, but we had an awfully short visit, both of us feeling rather sickly, and she left me at my front door at around 8:15p. I decided to do some reading for the evening.
I really want to finish the undeniably lovely book I'm reading. It's called The Line of Beauty and I'm nearly dying to find out how it turns out. The main character in the book is more like me than anyone I've ever met in my life: more like me than Jonathan in A Home at the End of the World, more than Harry Potter, more, perhaps, than the conglomerate of characters in Flesh & Blood. It's uncanny, incredible even, the way Alan Hollinghurst understands me.

There is a peace hanging over this evening. I feel no real stress, even though I most probably should, and I am without duties for the evening. When I work two jobs like this, I am always stunned when I have a night (or any amount of time, for that matter) to myself. I almost have no idea how to fill it. It's wonderful... and then I really, honestly miss the work: the rush of creativity and criticism wrapped up as one thing. I love the judgment that I am allowed as I prod and push and command and then undercut it all with acquiescence and--more infrequently--humility. I love the joy of mastering something, or perhaps it is the joy of watching something grow, like parenting: watching a knobby-kneed, gangly, awkward child grow into a thing of beauty, a source of pride, before my eyes. And all the time I fight with them and hope for them and beg them to do things and look at them disapprovingly. Sometimes I know my power and sometimes I don't, and though I try to act with wisdom and generosity, perhaps I am often rash and unfeeling, unwary of their watchful eyes upon me as I criticize or praise one of them or secretively take notes on my legal pad.

* * * * *

The other day when I was on the phone with Andrew he asked me a question that surprised me. He asked me if I'd given up acting. My response came quickly. It's something I've been thinking about recently: "I don't think I was ever really that good of an actor, Andrew." He seemed shocked that I'd said it, and then he disagreed with me about it. He spread the praise around so as not to commit too much to his compliment of me and said that the best actors he's ever worked with are still the actors from CSUP. I let the conversation go somewhere else after that (Andrew is always much better at conversation when discussing himself, anyway), but praise from someone so critical means a lot to me, I guess. I had always wanted him to praise my acting ability and he absolutely never did... hardly ever praised anything I did, really. I still think I'm right about my own talents as an actor, and I wasn't at all looking for his praise, but I wonder... if the right play came along, I would probably like to try it again one day. The right play never did come along while I was at university. Well, it did, but I was directing it, and I couldn't very well act in the thing to boot, could I?

20 April 2005

I Want You to Hit Me as Hard as You Can

I had another really good rehearsal tonight.
I decided that I wanted a much bigger fight scene in Matt's play. He actually hadn't written one in at all, but we talked about it and we both agreed that it was a cool idea. I mentioned it to Bill (producer) on Monday when he came to rehearsal and he got me a fight choreographer already. Carlos Baldeon (who I actually went to school with) came in, asked me a couple of questions about how much I wanted to humiliate the guy getting beat up, and then constructed a nice looking fight on the spot. It was very cool to watch. Carlos has a patience with the students that I rarely think about him having. He is a natural teacher, though, and he helped and goaded and teased the students in a way that reminded me of my own methods (perhaps it's Bob Gilbert coming through in both of us.) And after working with my two actors for an hour, Carlos got a fight that he liked and we called it a night. Matt's show is looking much better and I think I may end up having a really nice evening of shows on my hands with Y Generation.

I called in sick to work today. I just felt like shit and couldn't go in. I won't be any better tomorrow, but I'm crawling my ass in to work anyway. Cheers.

19 April 2005

I Work Two Jobs and I'm Feeling Sick.

I am so fucking tired...

I want to go shopping.
I want to finish the book I'm reading.
I want to bake cookies.
I want to watch a Merchant-Ivory movie.

17 April 2005

Smoked Applewood Bacon and Gorgonzola

This weekend, I achieved what I always attempt: a slower perspective. I smoked hooka on Friday with Scott, Aaron and Julie, while they told me how much they will miss me if I go. I did this until very late while drinking cosmopolitans from a highball. Nice.

Saturday I woke up leisurely and watched Howard Hawks and William Wyler's Come and Get It and was very pleasantly surprised by (mostly) the acting. Howard Hawks is not usually my thing, but Come and Get It has interesting themes of mortality and anti-Capitalism and I think Joel McRea is cute. Then I did laundry and finished last week's crossword.
After that, Wahima met me at my house and then we picked up Mike Steger in Hollywood and headed out to see Laundry & Bourbon at Ultimate. We ended up being at the theatre for four hours (which I had planned on, but which I think was unplanned by my companions) and then we just hung out talking for a few hours. It was Danny, Ashley, Elizabeth, Justin, Aaron, Kim, Mike, Wahima and me, and it was a nice, relaxing time.

Today after sleeping very late I awoke, did some scheduling for the show, updated my Netflix queue, watched an old Charles Boyer/Hedy Lamarr flick: Algiers. Then I watched all of the extras on my copy of Maurice (back to my Merchant Ivory obsession.)

I leisurely headed out to rehearsal around 4:30p, stopping for a chopped salad at CPK and getting in a good bit of reading. It was so nice outside today and I soaked up the fresh air like a dry sponge.

All My Exes Live in Stratford-on-Avon

I called Andrew tonight, too. Probably a bad idea. I got bored by our conversation quickly and I realized midway that it was going to have to be a very long one (we haven't spoken in almost a year, I would say.) But my battery died on the freeway and when I got home I just figured, "Why bother?" I'll call him back tomorrow and try to chat in the afternoon.
Hopefully I am less bored by his topic of choice: Shakespeare. (That man is everywhere.)

Pride Comes Unannounced

Older neighbor lady on my floor: Hey Mr. Aaron.
AT: How are you today?
ONL: Oh, I'm doing fine. You?
AT: Very well, thanks. I'm off to work.
ONL: Oh. ...What are you reading?
AT: The Line of Beauty.
ONL: I've never heard of it.
AT: I read about it in The Gay and Lesbian Review.
ONL: Oh, that's why.

For a split second I wondered if I should mention where I read it, but it was the natural response to having never heard of the book and I felt a twinge of pride. The old neighbor lady didn't bat an eye.

12 April 2005

Maryland It's Raining Somewhere in Some Cafe

I'm going to see Laundry & Bourbon on Saturday at Ultimate Improv. Anyone wanna come with? Most of my friends will be in Vegas.

Oh yeah. Quote from this weekend:

LB: So, you're gonna pass Cabazon...
AT: Where we're going to be all day tomorrow...
LB: Where I wanna be buried. I know the Pope's being buried at St. Peter's but just stick me underneath J. Crew.

Rehearsal went well again today. Sometimes I know what I'm doing and things actually work. Cheers.

11 April 2005

Voices from the Y Generation

Much better rehearsal today, thanks for asking. But, then, today I didn't have actors who piss me off. I think I figured out the solution to my problem from yesterday, so that's good. You leave it; you come back to it; you solve it. It's like the crossword puzzle... that's what Bob Gilbert used to say anyway.

Oh, and the producer hated Superhero Parade. He called me and said the word "hate" on my voice mail. So that got cut and when I linked up with the production meeting over the phone on my way in to rehearsal, we decided to go with Voices from the Y Generation. I still get what I want even when I don't get what I want. Amazing.

10 April 2005


Having a bad rehearsal makes me feel as though the world is going to end. I hate it. Hate hate hate. I got so fucking pissed off at the cast of Matt's show today. Seriously I wanted to fucking throttle someone. I was so ANGRY! And I so very rarely get angry... it actually feels a little weird to be this pissed off. But geez they made me mad. It makes me so depressed to have a bad rehearsal... and at the beginning of the week, too. Grrr.

The As You Like It reading went well enough, I suppose. Carlos Baldeon, Lauren Donahoo, Nathan Weaver, Kim Porter and Mary Schneider were all good. And actually most of the supporting players were fine as well. I would've cut it a little differently had I known the cast better, but what can you do? There was a hilarious moment in the show... I had decided to have intermission between Acts II & III, so after we finished Act II, the actors were kind of sitting around wondering how to get off stage (we hadn't rehearsed that: silly me), but then instead of getting offstage for intermission, Chris Gelvin got up and just started in doing Act III. The actors started looking around at one another and me in absolute horror. Quick as ever, Joe Ngo and Jamie Le Jeal got up and played the scene with Chris Gelvin until it was through, at which point Carlos Baldeon got up and walked offstage. The other actors followed.

I spent the day in Palm Springs and got nice and sunburned. I also bought shoes... and bakeware. And I met two very nice gay men and spent the day with Linda Bisesti and her husband Matt Reidy, who are just lovely. It was good. Then I went to rehearsal.

07 April 2005


Sometimes I wish I didn't know the language so well. If I didn't I wouldn't object to someone saying "less than a fraction" on the radio yesterday, and I wouldn't have been troubled by Oldboy's big quote "Even though I'm no worse than a beast - don't I, too, have the right to live?".

Now in Korean, I am sure this made sense, but whoever translated it, obviously missed something.


Justin and I went to see Park Chan-wook's Oldboy. It's quite a film. Justin, who has had much more exposure to the fucked-up Asian shock/violence/gore genre didn't like it nearly as much as I did. I tend to get excited about things more easily than he does... no, actually, I tend to get excited more easily about movies than he does.

I feel refreshed by this movie. It reminds me how alive I am. Plus it has a cool style and some serious money-scenes.

Also... there seems to be nothing new under the sun. Park Chan-wook is doing what Sophocles did 2500 years ago when he wrote plays. Knowing theatre as I do made me appreciate Oldboy more. This is how Greek tragedy needs to be done nowadays for it to have an impact on audiences. It was very cool, so if you can stomach the gore involved and you like revenge flicks, you really ought to go see Oldboy. It will play in Pasadena for at least another week.

05 April 2005

Quicktime, Baby

Suprisingly enough, the new trailer to Kingdom of Heaven looks fucking great. I'm all about Ridley Scott.

And the trailer for the new Kim Ki-duk movie 3-Iron is so cool and bizarre I don't even know what to say about it.


After a good rehearsal, I usually predict a bad one for my next outing. Not so tonight. I had another spot-on evening. I came up with cool stuff, new ideas, and even squeezed in some time to fix some of the bad acting that is happening in one of the pieces. Mm-mm-mm. I don't know how well this one-act is going to turn out. The cast is troubled.

On the other hand, I think the other one-act I rehearsed tonight is in really good shape and I hope to start showing it to guests soon.

I got stern with the cast this evening, too. I had to raise my voice, even. Hm. I don't like to do that, but they were just being so asinine.

I'm thinking of calling the plays as a collective:
Superhero Parade: Voices from the Y Generation

Thoughts on that title? Anyone?


They always come in threes don't they?

First Terry Schiavo, then Pope John Paul II, and then Johnny Cochran.

No More Hard Times

Rehearsal was really good for me yesterday. I like it when I spontaneously come up with stuff and it actually serves the play. I make myself happy. Not much else for me to report, I guess. I think this show will be very interesting when it's ready for people to see.

I still keep thinking about Shakespeare Wallah. I love those Merchant Ivory guys.

03 April 2005


Details of the date (and any future dates, I suppose) are strictly FRIENDS ONLY. So sign up for LiveJournal and then beg me to add you.


Somethin's Gotta Change, 'Cause Our Love's the Slowest-Moving Train

Today has been slightly productive. Actually, the whole weekend has been rather productive.

On Friday night I went on a date, yes, ladies and gentlemen, a date. I know, it's been forever. It was good to do that again. Hopefully, I will be doing more of that in the future.

Yesterday I got a haircut. I meant to do some reading as well, but that didn't really happen. I did see King Vidor's 1937 melodrama Stella Dallas, which was much better than I thought it would be. I like that Barbara Stanwyck. I never thought I did (mostly because of her hideous bangs in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, and her irritating performance in Executive Suite, but after seeing Stella Dallas, I think I do like her. I will have to check out Sorry, Wrong Number soon. After having dinner with the family, I went to a birthday party for someone I barely know, but who recently came out of the closet at age thirty-seven! Mm-hm. It was a nice party, and he's a nice man. His boyfriend's very nice, too. I met Lisa and Julie (who used to date this guy) there. It was, like, a party of all gay men. Good times.

This morning I watched an early Merchant Ivory film called Shakespeare Wallah which I absolutely loved. I recommend it to everyone. It's about the fading influence of British culture on India in the early 1960s and its absolutely wonderful. It's really a neat movie: subtle, poetic and beautiful like M/I's later work. I am on a M/I kick. I am going to check out more of their earlier work. Today I ironed, cleaned my house, paid my bills, ordered photos from a wedding I attended last November, and finished cutting As You Like It. I haven't started the crossword yet, and I don't think I will today. I'm going to go wash my car and try to finish The Line of Beauty.