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

29 October 2006

Lauren Bacall Double Feature

Now, I liked Dogville a lot. That ending really satisfied in a cool way. But Lars von Trier's follow-up to Dogville, which is entitled Manderlay is a whole other ball of wax. The film centers around a plantation in the early 1920's that is still under slavery. Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard) takes over the plantation, freeing the slaves and introducing her own (obviously colonialist) régime on the slaves. It's a move that obviously echoes the United States' nation-building agenda in Iraq. The film asks all sorts of questions about race, racialization, sexual desire, democracy and hard work. The trouble is, the film is boring beyond belief. It's so dreary, in fact, I was actively wishing that it would end by the 1-hour mark. Mona Hammond gives a lovely, moving performance as the oldest of the slaves at Manderlay, but Danny Glover is boring and Lauren Bacall is in the film so little, I barely remembered her by the end of the film. Chloë Sevigny & Jeremy Davies, who (along with Bacall) were in Dogville, have a kind of cameo, but are given nothing to do. Not recommended.

This morning I woke up at 4:00a and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to watch an old movie. Luckily I had The Big Sleep on hand from Netflix (apropos, no?). I'd never seen The Big Sleep and it had been recommended by one of my TD friends here in Tally. It did not disappoint. It's a classic, obviously, but it deserves its classic status. It's directed by Howard Hawks and based on a Raymond Chandler story. Hawks makes every woman in the film a gorgeous beauty and it's filled with sparkling dialogue and excellent delivery by Bogart, Bacall and Dorothy Malone. Totally excellent. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do.

Update from Below the Surface

Things are going well here. I am succeeding (as far as I know) with my school work. There is much to do, of course. Too much, really. I have some huge projects coming up and as usual I don't know when I'll be able to get them done. I will, though. We all pull through with this work. It pushes me like crazy but I find that it isn't too much. It is possible.

My current research is on Heiner Müller's Hamletmachine, Culture Clash, solo/performance/art and Wallace Shawn. I'm tabling my interests in other topics for now and working on these topics because, quite frankly, I have no free time to be working on other things.

I have decided, though, to return to my two-movies-per-weekend habit that I had in Pasadena. It was a rejuvenating practice that I need to reclaim. I'm still occasionally writing poetry (it's so weird to be doing that—I don't know what has possessed me.)

I miss everyone. Drop me a line, send me an email, give me love. I miss you guys.

27 October 2006

Casa de Areia

The House of Sand (Casa de Areia) is good. Well... it's well made, anyway. It stars Brazil's foremost performer Fernanda Montenegro (love her), so when it got released here it was must see viewing. Montenegro is given lots to do (she plays three characters in the film), and the film is gorgeously shot. But the film is slow and feels mired in the sandy landscapes it paints. It's also plot-heavy and over-burdened by its own clever convention of having Montenegro star as her own daughter and granddaughter. The ending is excellent (you know how I love endings) but it doesn't quite redeem the rest of the picture. 3 stars. I liked it. But if you don't like your movies slow, you won't like this one...

25 October 2006

School Update

I finished my handout for my Queer Theory presentation tomorrow finally and because I have no reading due for Thursday, I can spend my evening tomorrow grading the new batch of papers that are coming in tomorrow afternoon for Intro to Theatre. It's a never-ending nightmare! (At least the papers are on Angels in America. That should be fun. I should bite my tongue: 50% of them will probably be homophobic.)

I took a break this evening, though and went to see Deepa Mehta's Water down at the Student Life Building for free. The film is fantastic. I've moved it to #2 for the year so far. I'll have to rent Fire, now. It's so good. Seriously, you should all watch it. Look for it to get an Oscar nomination for Foreign Language picture, too. Canada is submitting it and I think it's strong enough to be one of the five finalists. My favorite performance in the film is from actress Seema Biswas who is damn near brilliant in the movie. It's a powerful, subtle performance and her character is the soul of Mehta's film. Highly recommended.

22 October 2006

Oh My

I do not need another distraction siphoning precious time away from work I should be doing, but I sure did join Facebook.


A watched pot, as they say...

I'm a tad dark today. Maybe because I don't have an overwhelming amount of work to do. But I don't even feel like doing fun things. I feel like being maudlin and sitting on my back porch with a gin and tonic. I talked to my brother and sister: that was nice, but I want someone to hold me. Maybe it was re-watching Millennium Approaches yesterday or maybe it's that I've started reading Foucault's The History of Sexuality or maybe it's—I don't know. But I'm not doing so hot. Of course it will all be gone by tomorrow; that's the Piscean nature. I will be back to coping without complaint, but for today I am a child. For today I am a boy.

21 October 2006

Six Degrees

I'm not sure if I should talk about FSU's production of Six Degrees of Separation. The director was the Director of the School of Theatre here, so the whole enterprise is very politically charged. He also cast faculty members as the adults in the piece (weird) and built seating banks on the deck of our mainstage theatre instead of seating patrons in the house (we're in the midst of a parking shortage this semester, so it was partly a seating concern, I hear.) The gentleman friend was unable to attend, so Ryan went with me.

We were both fairly horrified by the show. He much more than I, but I as well. I think this horror is partly a textual thing and partly (moreso, in my opinion) a thing with our particular production. The thing that Ryan kept asking me was "But why do this show?" and I think his question is right on the money. The show is dated and weird. It has a 1990s Realism thing going on and it... well the show has a lot of problems. The race and the sexuality of the anti-hero of the show are huge sticking points and are used only to illustrate "otherness." What I mean by this is the reason the character is black and the reason the character is gay is because both of those things are "other" than the main characters of the show, Ouisa and Flan. The point is that he isn't black and gay: what he is is not-white and not-straight. It's a weird show. For me, the show's problems can be solved to a very large extent with good direction. (Ryan disagrees with me on this one, for the record. He points to the disastrous Children's Hour moment in the play when the young man from Utah who Paul fucks throws himself out of the window of the roller disco or whatever it is. This moment, says Ryan, is inherently homophobic à la The Children's Hour. He's right about this and I can't argue.)

The point really is "Why do the show at all?" What does Six Degrees of Separation have to say to us still? Has someone else come along and said what is good in Six Degrees better than John Guare has since he wrote the play in 1990? I think someone probably has.

One more thing about this show. Before Six Degrees I hadn't seen the work of my colleague and friend Herman Montero, who designed the lighting for the show. The man is brilliant. Keep your eyes peeled for his name. He knows what he is doing.

20 October 2006

Poem from 8/17/06

Another Tallahassee-inspired poem:

The mornings sweat here
Atmosphere pushing me out of its way
I don't fit here
There isn't room
For me and the air
To live together in peace
This war will last for years
Infidel in the holy land
Trying to worship a false god
The humidity and the churches
They push push but I
Am a lone pilgrim in a strange land
Finding my path through the sticky air

The Departed

I saw Martin Scorsese's new movie The Departed last night very late. Yes, I finally made time to go to a movie. The Departed is a remake of the Honk Kong thriller Infernal Affais, which starred Andy Lau and Tony Leung. Let me first say that I loved the original film. It's a taut, wonderfully acted action movie with some lovely poetic moments as well.

The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, and a whole host of other people. (Kind of like The Aviator and Gangs of New York before it.) Let me say that while I liked The Departed, it's not quite Infernal Affairs. It doesn't have the tension and the poetry that Andrew Lau's movie had. It makes up for that by raising the level of the violence in the film. But the thing that was so brilliant about Infernal Affairs was its questions about being a criminal/cop and what the difference between the two men is. Affairs also had this amazing father/son throughline where both men treated both the chief of police and the head gangster as father-figures. The emotional connections between the men was so much more powerful in Affairs than in Departed.

Departed's focus is much more on the lone woman in the cast. I don't want to sound too negative about the film. As I said, I liked it. The script is absolutely superb. It zings along with audacious remarks and its portrait of macho behavior, violence and homophobia inside both criminal circles and law enforcement do a lot to erase the lines between the two. Almost as though they are two gangs, roaming the streets for territory. The Departed also has some of the best acting I've seen this year. All of the performances are fantastic. Leonardo DiCaprio is especially great as the cop turned gangster, but Matt Damon's performance is also excellent. Jack Nicholson is his usual Jack self, though less ironic than usual. He's, obviously fun to watch, but I found myself occasionally shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Alec Baldwin is great as usual (It's not a surprise anymore when he's good. The man is a great character actor. I think we can all just say that now.) My favorite performance, of course, is from Mark Wahlberg who lights up the creen every time he's there. His is an assured, unpredictable performance with an enigma at its center. His character is the most flamboyant in the film (of the normal characters: I'm not counting Jack of course) but the performance is an absolute joy to watch. It rivals my affection for his wonderful performance in I ♥ Huckabees.

The film is a little long. It needs trimming at the beginning and Scorsese spends far more time with Jack than he needs to, but it's still good. It's a shocking, original Hollywood thriller... mostly because it isn't original and it isn't a Hollywood film. Go for the script, the brilliant acting, the excellent cinematography and the awesome soundtrack (with nice additions by Howard Shore.) Hell, go for Marty.

P.S. And if you look closely, you'll see that Scorsese quotes John Ford's The Informer at one point. A nice nod to classic rat cinema about rats.

18 October 2006

A Thought from My Brilliant Roommate for This Evening

This is from an essay she wrote on My Beautiful Laundrette:
At some point in each of our lives, we will feel like outsiders. This moment is inescapable, whether in regards to our artistic aesthetic, sexuality, religion, race, or economic or educational background. One moment finds us confident in our sense of fellowship with those around us, while the next could easily replace that feeling of belonging with uncertainty and disconnectedness. A veritable moment of belonging cannot exist because in order to create that moment of kinship, we alter ourselves. The person now belonging is no longer the person who wished to belong.

17 October 2006


Today was ridiculously unproductive. As usual on Monday we had our awful meeting with the professor whose assistant we are. That meeting is the worst thing about grad school for me. I hate it so freaking much I can't even talk about it.

And then I didn't do anything I was supposed to do. I worked on my midterm grades and then I went to class and then I was in rehearsal for pretty much the rest of the night. I spent a little time reading about Heiner Müller, but not enough. And I wrote, like, one additional sentence for my paper proposal that has to get done tomorrow night.

I'm acting for the first time in what seems like centuries. My friend Ryan has to direct a scene for his directing class that consists mainly of exposition. So he's doing Seagull and he decided I'm perfect for Konstantin. So I'm doing it. It's a short scene, but you know Konstantin never shuts up throughout that whole thing. It's weird. I'm not nervous or anything like that. Mainly I don't feel like I remember how to do it: acting. I can't remember how to go about it. I forget how I crafted beats and moved through things. I can't remember any of it, honestly. It's awful. I feel totally inept. Ryan, bless him, says I'm doing well, but I'm out of it and I know it. I need to stick to reading books about theory.

Chekhov is, of course, brilliant, though, and the other actor in the scene found this fantastically beautiful moment late in the scene. It's lovely. I don't know where this paragraph is headed... I need to go to bed.

16 October 2006

Swamped Weekend

Mostly I've been doing work this weekend. I finally read Oh, What a Lovely War! and I read a whole bunch of theory, too. I also finished grading the midterm for my Intro class. Grr. That took for bloody ever.

Roomie did drag me out for a lovely evening of theatre, though. Actually, "lovely" might be overstating it slightly. We went to see Big: the Musical at the Quincy Music Theatre only "15 minutes from Tallahassee!" There's no reason to have made a musical out of Big in the first place, but it didn't matter because the musical is dreadful all around. The music is bad, the lyrics are bad and the book, despite being based on an adorable film, is terrible: rushed in places and needlessly drawn-out in other. Each of the songs feels like it goes on forever. It's a disaster of a show, really. The production was bad, too, though I don't really want to talk to negatively about it. It is community theatre after all and in a Tallahassee suburb.

Today I wrote four pages of a Faust paper I have due on Thursday. And I read. And organized sources for my huge article that has to be publishable if I'm getting an A in Research & Bibliography (no pressure there.)

I played beer pong for the first time this weekend, too. The lighting designers and TDs talked me into it by promising me gossip. (Compare, by the way, the wikipedia entries for Beer Pong and Moisés Kaufman. That's depressing.)

I'm sure I had more to report, but it has left me for the present.

14 October 2006

Picture Share

This is a fun photo I took on the sly (sort of--if you look closely you can see that two of my students caught me) of my students taking their midterm exam on Friday. It made me smile:

13 October 2006

A Poem for Today

I can't seem to write coherent thoughts about what is going on here. I feel by turns prepared and unprepared. Half the time I feel like I am excelling here, on top, excited, ready. The other half is the overwhelmed half. I miss my fucking friends and there is so much to do. I may be drowning in schoolwork. I can't even talk about the next five years. I don't know what will happen. I have a pretty fair idea, I think, but I only have ideas about which I am ambivalent.

This poem is dated 8/16/06. I wrote it when I first got here right after Jai, Derek, Julie and Anna left: before school started.

These experiences are fresh
But my nature feels used to every bit
"If you cannot learn to live,"
He said, and didn't mean me
Though I felt it: the only part
Of the conversation my memory noted

These floors and walls in the
Heat of summer feel liveed-in
As though I've been here on occasions previous
And I have
I was here yesterday
And will be tomorrow
Glazed wood and new paint
Are mine and I must learn to live,
To own, to decide

10 October 2006

Two Tips

These are from my advisor MKD. She said she got both of them from her grandmother.

"Recreation means changing the work that you're doing."


"If you're bored it's your fault."

I love this woman.

08 October 2006

Things I've Written Most Frequently on Papers I've Graded

1. Underline or italicize major works of art like plays.

2. Instead of giving me your opinion in the first person, think about phrases like “The evidence will show that…” and “A closer examination of the text proves…” Critical analysis is not just your opinion, but a critical interpretation of the textual evidence in front of you.

3. What is your evidence for this statement? You must support conjecture like this with specific historical, textual, or critical evidence.

4. Quotes comprised of fewer than four lines do not need to be set off in the block-quote format.

5. Quotes exceeding four text lines should be set off in the block-quote format described in your MLA handbook.

6. Hyphenate compound adjectives such as this one.

7. The second person is generally considered out of place in an analytical essay. Use the first person (sparingly) or the third person for more effective arguments.

8. Songs or smaller pieces of a larger work of art are put in quotation marks.

9. Does the text of the play support this claim?

10. Can you give a specific example in the text of this?

11. Please use MLA format for your paper. Your name goes at the top left corner of the paper. Review your MLA handbook.

12. Cite your source for this quote.

Can you tell I don't feel like doing any of the tasks I've assigned myself?

Oh My

I search for a piece of kindness
And I find Hitler in my heart

Don't punish me
For wanting your love inside of me
Don't punish me
For wanting your love inside of me

And I find Hitler in my heart
From the corpses flowers grow

Gay Movies

Superman Returns is loooong and very silly. Brandon Routh is very cute as Superman and I quite liked Parker Posey as Lex Luthor's moll. Ditto James Marsden as Lois Lane's fiancée and Kal Penn as Lex's henchman. And of course I loved Frank Langella as Perry White. But that small child who plays Lois Lane (I always forget her name and I never like her in anything) is so horribly miscast I can't even talk about it. James Marsden is—what—almost thirty-five? and she looks like she just turned sixteen and is playing dress-up as Lois Lane. It's positively ludicrous that she could have a five-year-old child.
And Kevin Spacey! He is as campy in Superman Returns as I've ever seen him in anything (including K-Pax and Pay It Forward). He dances around and changes clothes in the middle of the day like he's hosting the American Music Awards. There is this one scene where Lex stabs Superman from behind that looks like something out of a Bruce La Bruce movie. So gay.
This film is also hampered by an almost total lack of plot. I swear to you the plot doesn't start until at least an hour into the movie. There is an interesting father-son narrative in Superman Returns but I was so bored by Act Three I didn't care if Superman lived or died. Did anyone think he might actually die? I mean where was the conflict? The effects are cool most of the time, but the dialogue is terrible and just like Bryan Singer's Spider-man 2, characters spend eons gazing at one another from afar bemoaning the fact that they can't be together when there is absolutely no reason they can't be together. As a matter of fact, Superman Returns is nearly a complete retread of Spider-man 2.
A word or two about the poster before I abandon this film: could it be any more of a ripoff of last years Batman Begins? I don't think it could. With a plot taken from a movie nearly thirty years old, a performance (Marlon Brando's) hijacked from the original film (1978), a mood set by Spider-man and a poster stolen from Batman, this Superman doesn't have much that it can call its own at all: except maybe the money it made.

Summer Storm (Sommersturm) is a gay coming-of-age story. It's a retread of nearly every other gay coming-of-age story I've ever seen, but it's cute and palatable and at times very well shot. The music is excellent and the conceit (contact with an all-gay Berlin rowing team called the Queerstrokes causes a closeted rowing captain from somewhere in Bavaria to come out) is sweet. Not much to say about the movie. I quite liked it but it's mostly fluff.

07 October 2006

A Poem I Wrote That Made Me Laugh Today

This poem is dated 8/16/06. I re-read it today and it made me laugh:

I daydream sometimes about being underwater
For a long time, I mean, as though I could live there
Be sustained far beneath the waves and build a home
Perhaps it is the quiet
An underwater existence would afford
That holds appeal for me
I have an aquatic nature, of this I am aware
An Irish gypsy woman told me once and I didn't doubt her
But there is no such submergèd life
I wouldn't be able to breathe
—At least not in the way I am accustomed—
And I probably wouldn't be able to shop on-line either
So above-ground it shall be
If you can call Tallahassee above ground
P.S. I have banned myself from on-line shopping
(My finances being slightly disordered of late)
I may have to re-think life in the sub-aquatic

06 October 2006

Long Day

Today is going to be a long day. This morning I'm having a meeting to plan my facilitation of a discussion of Marxist Theory in relation to theatre (the discussion itself isn't until Wednesday). Then I'm covering for my girl Amy in her morning class of Intro to Theatre. THEN I'm meeting with a student in regard to a plagiarism issue (yikes.) THEN I'm meeting with the teacher of my Intro section to discuss my performance as a TA (not performativity, just how well [or poorly] I'm doing in the class.) THEN I have office hours. THEN I have my own section of Intro to TA. Then I think I'll have a slight meal break and hopefully get part of a paper written or some research done before my date tonight with the gentleman friend. We're going to see Urinetown: the Musical, which they're doing here at the FSU School of Theatre.

Roomie saw the show last night and said she didn't particularly care for it, but I'm hoping it was just an off night. That's why I wanted to go on a Friday instead of a Thursday in the first place. When I was in university, I always thought Thursday's shows were never as good as Friday's.

And I have SO much work to do this weekend I can't even talk about it.

03 October 2006

I Complain Too Much

My complaints about Faust are ill-advised and silly. It's obviously brilliant. It's important that I spent time reading it. It influences everything on the continent that comes after it. I am listening to Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and all I can think of is Goethe's "Walpurgisnacht."

OK. Back to work.

02 October 2006

Gay News: Domestic & National

Fun message from a Myspace stranger (I changed his name to protect him: don't worry)

Subject: hey baby

Body: amwilson 23 m singel bi lookin 4 sum cock to suck wont to go gay lovedick am 6'5 brown hair blue eyes toung ring 5tatoos no pic i meet inperson

I don't know what to say to this sort of thing. What can one say really?

In other news, these are text messages from Representative Tom Foley (R-FL) to some of the sixteen-year-old pages on the House floor.
Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed. also cited this exchange:
Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
A third example from
Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.
Oh my god. What was he thinking?

I am conflicted about this, really. For some reason it's a little satisfying to hear that there's a gay Republican on the floor of the House (well, not anymore: he already resigned), but that a part of the ant-gay contingent is itself gay is satisfying on some level and also horrific and sad on another. But what I really think is: here this perv is. Why does he have to be a gay pervert? Why couldn't he be sending lurid text messages to teenage girls for chrissakes?


I continue in my dark pattern of passive-aggressive behavior toward Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust and the hideous, horrible Faust casebook I have due for Dramaturgy on Thursday morning. I hate it I hate it I hate it and I don't want to do it. I spent four hours at the library today making photocopies of various history books having to do with the history of Germany (well it wasn't the German nation at the time, but for lack of a better word...

So instead of working on Faust I graded papers. Instead of working on Faust I talked to Jai on the phone for 45 minutes. Instead of working on Faust I took out the garbage... and started a load of laundry... and shopped on Amazon... and changed my outgoing voice-mail message... and responded to emails from my students... and read Stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown (even though I was woefully unprepared, having only seen three-fifths of the contenders)... and now I'm on here. Maybe I'll write a review of Superman Returns.

No. I will go back to Faust. I can do this. I can. If only Mephistophélès were here. I'd make a deal with him and get him to do my Goethe casebook for me.