Saturday, December 27, 2003

I've been gone far too recompense here's a Lorrie Moore story I just read in the New Yorker yesterday while returning Christmas gifts.

Since I've blown right past the holidays, here are some pictures from our Christmas to keep the voyeurs occupied:

Our first turkey: cooked, stuffed and designed by JM. It tasted fantastic.

Our first tree--small, but what a great nook, eh? And let me tell you, it always looks like a lot of presents when you have a tree this size!

Since we now have a fireplace that has the right kind of hooks, the tradition about stockings suddenly makes a lot of sense.

Here's hoping your holidays have been as fun and festive as they can be, without leading to death or dismemberment to you or your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Q: What kind of an idiot posts about being a bad cop?

A: The kind of person who is a bad cop.

A Michigan law student takes some time out to break out the legal ramifications of Sauron's offer to the Dwarves from LotR.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Times has an article today on the overabundance of standing ovations. I tend to sit during ovations if I'm not into giving one, so I get to look at people's asses after the show--but I will add that this is more of an issue for Broadway houses than any other size, and the article should have considered that element--in smaller houses in New York there isn't any sort of guarantee that a standing ovation will occur, and generally I'd say that was a good thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I've received a flood of responses confirming that Portland is the mecca of stripping--apparently a combination of loose laws and laissez faire attitudes in the Northwest combine to give Portland an amazing quantity of strip clubs, making it the per capita leader in that area. Go Oregon!

From one of the responses:

I heard a similar description of Portland, my hometown, a couple months
ago, and I was puzzled too. I didn't think we had more strippers than
anywhere else, but maybe things have changed in the 16 years since I
moved to New York. I can tell you that I avoided strip clubs while I lived
there because I had at least three high-school classmates and two friends
of friends who were strippers, and I didn't really want to walk in and see
somebody I knew, um, performing. That's more strippers in Portland than I
know stockbrokers in New York, if that means anything.

I do have a happy holiday story to tell you. I worked at the Portland
newspaper for three years, including nights, weekends and holidays, and
one Christmas I was working the night shift and getting hungry. I called all
over downtown Portland and couldn't find a single restaurant open -- until
someone suggested calling the Carriage Room. In addition to offering
exotic entertainment, they could provide cheeseburgers for all. I walked
the two blocks from the office, and the only other people in the place,
besides me, the girls and the cook, were the cops. They have to eat too.
One of my loveliest Christmas memories.

Cops, strippers and stockbrokers. God bless us, every one.
Just got back from seeing A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant at the Housman. Very interesting and at times weird, it was a light entertainment with some great production values...I'm meeting with the folks who put the show together next week. If you can score a reduced price ticket it's totally worth gawking at--I think they are available at the 1/2 Price Booth in Times Square.

Friday, December 19, 2003

I was just reading an article which mentioned off-handedly that Portland, Oregon is the strip club capital of the United States.

What? Over Reno? Over Vegas? Over...a lot of other places? It just seems ludicrous. Does anybody know anything about this, or is this article just smoking crack?

Sign you live in New York City: on a whim you decide to get your Christmas tree at 2AM, and not only is that possible, there's a choice of vendors within walking distance so you can haggle a bit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A week of silence. What happened? Updates later.

Meanwhile...from Mr. Tynes:

Online computer games often feature player-organized clans who play together on
multiple games, generally with colorful names ("The Blood Wargs"), a hierarchy,
rules, and the like. Then there's this guy on the Pirates of the Burning Sea
forums who uses the name "Ira Glass":

Some User: "Is this THE Ira Glass from TAL?"

Ira Glass: "I only wish I could be that cool. No, this is Ira Glass from the
(slightly misnamed) "NPR Clan" that was formed to play Return to Castle
Wolfenstein and has lately been capturing points in Battlefield 1942. You might
also see my friend Noah Adams, or my girlfriend Nina Totenberg.

NPR Clan : Excellence in broadcasting, asskicking."

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

This is a heads up for tonight: I will be reading at THE HAPPY ENDING READING SERIES, with Neal Pollack and Whitney Pastorek. I'll be discussing my own small experiences with literary feuds, and then drinking. The Happy Ending Bar is located at 302 Broome Street @ Forsyth; the reading starts at 8pm. Please drop by if you've got the time.

My good friend Colleen sends the best internet trash...what follows is a Christmas poem submitted to a human-computer interaction listserv with a focus on Children's Technologies (?) by one of its members.


Christmas time is mine,
It is all for me,
My sexual is it see,
Cubism did not fine.

I can line when I am hine,
I've got the sign,
It's dine, he died for me,
Not his mother for a fee.

Goodness is there, in stood,
Mankind shall stare and see care,
Gladness gives to me in there,
I can play and get my hood.

I hung it up, regality,
When I made the Mac, I made thee,
I could not slurl, for viscous joy,
In that I had my toy.

Oi, for I so loved the world,
That I sent my Son to furled,
So that anyone who fees

Do they say?  No, I am the way,
I hay, bay bay bay,
Hay, hay, I May live,
Well, I say thrive.

They got it right, his sex and hers,
And assessed the earth for fare's,
I my intensions are with my,
My ram did not die, die, die.

The little dittie was a visual,
Mall did work, son, for all,
I got up and I did bay,
God loves us, me, I love you for the ball.

No, not iball.
Don't lay pray,
For I got god as well
As you.


Dr. Gilbert Cockton

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Neat collision of graphics, porn, sociology and art: you can find portraits created by taking the mean average of every Playboy Playmate from the respective decades here. Particularly striking is the ongoing blondification.

Saw two pieces of pop culture tonight, one illuminating and the other deadening.

BAD SANTA: a fantastic romp, with more life and liveliness than the last ten holiday works I've seen come out of Hollywood. It's pricelessly campy and gross, and by blowing past all decency it actually finds a heart late in the film...I was really surprised at how good this film was.

THE SIMPLE LIFE: Paris Hilton's vehicle that sucked so much ass it resembles Paris Hilton in full slut-princess form. Hey, I like PAGE SIX--I am a longtime follower of Paris. Nevertheless, this is an insipid and limp excuse for a show, and the fact that FOX just paid $3 million more for another show with Her Nibs means brain death for everyone. We thought it would be funny to laugh at--we were wrong. We were so wrong.

My thanks on so many wishes for health and recovery! JM and I are feeling much better--we are condemning some sort of freefloating bug, or perhaps an errantly-cooked piece of calamari. The upshot is that we're back in action.

My friend John Moe did a piece on All Things Considered about the true ending to how the Grinch stole Christmas.

Chez Daisey is a house of illness today. If you're wondering where I am, I'm in the bed, convalescing.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Blogger was down for most of the weekend intermittently, so not so many updates...that's okay, as mainly you would have heard the sound of wind blowing and snow falling. It's quiet in the city.

I did go to a delightful show last night--Innocent While You Dream. I can only find this online for the show, from their audition calls, but it captures a bit of what we went to--short playlets set with a 4-course dinner in a SoHo dance space/loft. It ain't perfect, but it was a lot sharper than I thought it was going to be--NYC never ceases to amaze me with its small discoveries. The chef for the piece works at Chantrelle, and his work cemented my desire to eat there this winter.

Well, back to work--Monday comes up quick tomorrow, and I want to be ready for a new week.

Friday, December 05, 2003

My appearance on TechTV last night was a big success--I can tell because I've gotten a flood of mail from people who liked the segment, and I thought it went well, too. Ironically it is because i was late that it went so well--I was caught in a "terrorist check", or something like it, when they stopped my F train uptown at East 4th and held us there. Police then made everyone get off the train and dogs were sent up and down the train--presumably searching for something other than piss-stained winos and lechee nuts left by friendly Chinese men.

Then they let us all back on the train--fully half the people looked askance and didn't want to get on, but I was late and didn't think twice. After all, this train has been actually *checked*...I don't usually get that level of comfort.

Long story short, all these bomb-sniffing dogs made me almost miss my segment, which I think lent a harried, frenetic quality to the show which actually worked quite well. I don't want to do it quite that way again, but I can't knock what works.

The big storm has sprung early on us here in New York. Here are some photos:

This is the view out my front door, about an hour or so ago. Now drifts are actually forming and blowing up to the door--longtime readers may recall that last year we were actually snowed in, literally, after the biggest storm of the year.

This is our corner tree lot, where Christmas carols play continuously every last minute through the season. It's tremendously cute, a little too expensive and a lot of fun, principally because I don't live next to it, and so do not have to hear the music all the time. They're actually open 24 hours through Christmas, because if they leave the lot unattended people will steal trees.

I was planning on going to my LAIR in Dumbo today to work, but the snow caught me early. Now I am working away in the back while JM does the same in the front room--it's a small house of much typing in the snow this Friday.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

I'll be on TechTV this evening, discussing Macintosh news and gossip, at about 7:10pm EST. I still haven't exactly established what I'm specifically talking about, so if anyone has a proposal, feel free to email me.

Not to belabor the obvious, but I am now back in NYC, readapting to the city, remembering where I left my socks and trying to get into the swing of things here.

Last night was the Little Gray Book holiday lecture and auction, an annual component of my holiday festivities. The bidding was fierce--I very nearly won a case of Wild Turkey whiskey for an absurdly low price before the rest of the room woke up to its value, robbing me. Oh well--it was worth it for the moment when Jean-Michele stuck her nails through my arm and hissed, "Why are you buying this?" Small pleasures.

I had an interesting experience at the lecture--an idol of mine was there and I didn't even know it. Because I have gone to so many LGB lectures, I don't prescreen them--I just go and see what happens. Consequently when a Welshman was introduced by Hodgman as a wildman and a player in many bands, no bells went off. Hodgman then listed a bunch of fake bands this performer had been in, ending with, "The Mekons"...and all I thought was, "Huh. That's funny. The Mekons are a real band."

Then the man got up--a largish fellow with a recalcitrant amp and an excellent guitar. And as he unfolded his story of being a wayward art student I realized slowly, ever so slowly, what many readers of this site already know because they are not as slow on the uptake as me--the guy was from THE MEKONS! It was Jon Langford! Holy shit on a cracker!

And man, he can play. And man, those songs were great...because I listened to them all summer in '92, and because it was so blessedly unexpected, and because, because, because. Between that and the live foie gras cooking demonstration on stage it was an absolutely kickass evening.
It's sad when your old employer's turn pathetic and senile--Tim Noah does an excellent shaming of Amazon's customer service. Namely, they work hard to ensure that you won't be able to call them, because that's convienent for them, especially as they fired all their experienced CS people a number of years ago and have been shipping as much of the work overseas to India as they can.

1-800-201-7575. That's the number. 1-800-201-7575.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

A map of the memes of the year:

The NYT Magazine does what it does best--a long, involved dissection of a topic. This week it's the iPod, on the occasion of its second birthday. Near the end of the article Rob Walker is frank with his tension and issues with Steve Jobs, who can be singularly difficult to deal with--you sense that his vision is so strong that he locks out all other points of view. This is one of the things I like about him: when he is right, he's golden, and when he's wrong...well, he's really, really wrong.

That's my style, or a style I aspire to, though I'm nowhere near as abrasive, nor am I creating personal electronics...but in this short piece you really get a sense of both the strengths and weaknesses of Jobs, particularly in those closing paragraphs. It's very interesting.

Oh and this article on cats, picked up from John's site is so fucking disturbing--apparently cats transmit a parasite that infects humans and may alter their personallity. Basically the idea is that cat people have actually been reprogrammed, which would explain a great deal about the character of both cats and the people who love them inordinately.

Today is my last full day in Seattle--I have a lot of packing to do, and friends to see, so there isn't time for much more--the next update will be from the East Coast.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Exciting development: a gigabyte of data in a cheap, mass-producable storage medium the size of a sugar cube. Details are here. It may be closer than you'd think.

Less exciting development: a woman is trampled in the biggest shopping day of the year. In a fucking Wal•Mart. Bah.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Tonight my old sketch comedy group UP IN YOUR GRILL rides again with our twisted adaptation/mutilation of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. In an inspired bit of lunacy the show will be performed on the set of Theater Babylon's current production of Streetcar, which means we get to use the set--a to-scale reproduction of the original Broadway set! It is enormously, ridiculously too large for our purposes, and that should give us Theater Magic right from the top.

Catch the show tonight and tomorrow night (Friday and Saturday) at 11pm at the Union Garage, 1418 10th Ave. Pay what you can at the door, and drinks will be served.

Now I need to go see if I can learn my lines in time for the opening.
A really fine Q&A on how microwave ovens work.

Note taped to the back of a chair of an employee in an underground military installation outside St. Louis.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Here's a good Umberto Eco essay on the nature of memory as created by technology, and how technology tends to layer itself over time, rather than "killing" methodologies that came before it. Good stuff, and it's such a pleasure to see a master semiotician grab the Net era by its horns and recognize how revolutions are never total and have many historical precedents.

It's Thanksgiving! I'm so delighted to be in Seattle for Thanksgiving--since 1996 I have usually celebrated this holiday in Seattle in the company of my adopted family, the Dovers. I've known them since Maine, and they are the loveliest, hardest-drinking holiday family this side of God's creation--Thanksgiving often disintegrates spectacularly under the weight of the drinking into shapes I never would have predicted. It's a total blast, and now that I live in New York I haven't made it for a few years--I'm so looking forward to this.

Strange half-week...mainly I've been having meetings, lunches and coffee with movers and shakers in Seattle theater scene, from folks who run and work at small spaces to the artistic directors of the big houses. Lots of meetings--I had 6 of them yesterday from 10am to 5:30pm, often doing them at the same coffeehouse back to back to back. It's so instructive to have intense meetings this way, because you get a snapshot of a whole community--Rashomon-like you get the same story of some public event retold so different details keep emerging. It also has reminded me why I like Seattle theater--it's smaller than New York, but the scale is such that every person makes a difference, which in a sense charges the individual members to really excel. If community is what you are looking for, Seattle has that in spades, and good or bad each member of that community could potentially make a big splash at any time and get everyone's attention. It's a really interesting dynamic.

Post-show reactions to The Ugly American have been very good, and I've been digesting this week. I've rarely been so happy with the first telling of one of my shows, and though there are already a few scenes on the chopping block I think the bulk of the piece is standing up to scrutiny. It'll lose a little length in the processing, but will probably retain its two-act structure. Now I need to apply myself to the search for producing partners and artistic homes.

Blah blah blah. I just resisted the urge to erase this entry, but I have to say--what's with blogging? Why am I writing out the process of my day and my observations? I have been thinking for some time that come December, as I shift over to other projects I will have to either curtail this blog in order to focus my energy. We shall see--I want to find a way to work with the form so that it actually supports me, and doesn't simply act as a writing release valve that then removes the impetus needed to get longer works finished. Hmmmm.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone--have a safe and eventful holiday unless you are not American, in which case it is simply Thursday, which I assume you will celebrate in your own fashion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Suzanne sent me this NYT interview with Ned Beatty, who is playing Big Daddy in the current Broadway run of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Mr. Beatty has always been an amazing stage actor, and the reviews appear to bear that out--his costars, Ashley Judd and Jason Patric, are not receiving anywhere near as good notices. SImply put, they don't have the chops to be on live stage. Most TV and film stars don't--why would they? Learning how to make things work in a film is entirely different than the moment-to-moment high-wire of theater. There are always exceptions--Beatty mentions Brendan Fraser, who actually trained as a stage actor years ago at Cornish with friends of mine, and apparently can make things work on stage. Beatty is candid, but condemns the necessity of casting these stars who simply can't do their jobs.

Speaking of the NYT, there's a great Talk of The Town piece in The New Yorker about a man who reads every day's issue of the New York Times. He's seventy-nine, and because it takes upward of two and a half hours a day to get through it he's actually behind--so every day he's reading news that happened over a year ago. It's a nicely observed portrait of a non-destructive obsession.

We sold out the theater on Saturday, for the closing of 21DY, and then again on Sunday for The Ugly American...from what the ticket office can tell they think they turned away as many folks as came to see the Sunday show, which means about 1,000 people wanted to see my work that night--I am still wrapping my head around that, but I have to say that I couldn't have received a more splendid gift for the end of this run at Intiman.

We did the show with the theater half-converted over to Black Nativity, and it actually gave us a "set" that was incredibly beautiful--a lot of the wood was still a warm, unpainted color, and the blacks (curtains) were tied aloft so you could see the forest of ropes in many colors that support the fly system. Down center they put a great looking oak table from the conference room, and I set there, on a stool, with my outline, a cup of water and a handkerchief. It was so wonderfully composed...I have the funniest feeling I am going to be returning to this image again and again when it comes time to look for sets for this show.

It was a birth, like it always is when I do the show the first time, and it seems that when you are having your fourth child you have either learned lamaze, have gotten drugs...or maybe having 500 eager midwives makes the whole thing easier, because it was a joy. The words leapt out of me, and most importantly so did the silences--I took the time that was needed, which is usually a pacing problem in the first telling, because I'm scared and don't know what comes at each turn and so have a tendency to overdrive and punch through things. Instead the pace was varied, had nice flow and form, and many of the moments I knew were risks acquitted themselves honorably and didn't explode.

It feels so good to have another show up and alive. I have so much work to do, and I'm so ready to do it.

Monday, November 24, 2003

It is Monday, a day of rest. More soon.

(The show went really, really well. Thanks to all who came.)

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Closing day. This has been the fastest full run of 21 DOG YEARS so far--even at the Speakeasy we played for over 4 months, and I have to say that while I am emotionally ready to put the show to bed, part of me is grieving. It's so wonderful to know a piece right down to its core, to have built it and beaten it and suffered with it until it can live itself fully...there's even a pleasure in knowing its flaws and shortcomings, in feeling the areas that have never come quite right, that could have been something more or something else.

It's routine, above all else--performance is routine. I get to the theater the same amount of time before the show every day, I repeat the same series of actions before the play begins, I warm-up the same way, I have the same conversations--I make a conscious effort to ritualize the event, because that is somehow part of it. And it's always hard when it ends--I always get depressed, always, and the more fully realized the run has been, the deeper the depression becomes. I miss the audiences--not in a facile, needy way, but because every night I get to communicate with them, and we get to know each other, and in that communion I've seen things I could have never seen anywhere else. Life without that compression and ritual doesn't seem much like life at all, for a while.

At the same time this is all thankfully complicated by THE UGLY AMERICAN. A new show, my first full-length new show in three years...I am edgy, and anxious, and very, very excited. We've sold a lot of tickets, which has been a greatest gift in a trip filled with generosity from the people of Seattle--over 300 and still rising. It's a workshop, which means we have no sound, no staging and I will simply tell the story...but ironically it is lights and sound and trappings that often help cover and disguise weakness, when you don't quite know the right words. I'll be naked out there tomorrow, profoundly naked, as I create the show the first time for a public audience, and it feels like the day before a battle all over the house--it's quiet, JM is leaving me alone and I am thinking and thinking and thinking about how this is going to go down.

One step at a time. First we close DOG YEARS, then we open the next show. I need to have some breakfast, get my game face on. There isn't time to think about the new show today. I will do my job, close this book and then open the next one, and God willing it will come out clear.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Because it is always useful to see Scientology in action improving the lives of ordinary people, here is a picture of John Travolta's house:

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I am delighted to announce that the book Waiting For Snow In Havana by Carlos Eire, edited by my editor, Rachel Klayman, has won the National Book Award. Read about this great book at the NBA site, or buy a copy at any fine bookseller. It's a great book, and Ms. Klayman is perhaps the finest, keenest editor working in America today--it's really a tremendous honor, and she deserves every last piece of it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

No, really--New Line Cinema decorated a NYC subway train (the S shuttle) as an extremely stupid looking "Shire" train, complete with fake stone flooring, burlap (?) sacks on the ceilings and green lighting. Further photos of this abortion of a media campaign can be found here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Jardine Libaire, a friend of mine I recently had the pleasure of working with has a keenly observed essay up at Nerve which deals with call girls--a central element of my new show. Funny synchronicity, that.

For the record, Ms. Libaire does not dress nearly as trashily as you might imagine from her own self-description, and her first book, Here, Kitty, Kitty will be published in the spring by Little Brown.

Ah, the silky hand of our corporate masters--here is the complete list of McDonald's trademarks, courtesy of Chris:

The following trademarks used herein are owned by the McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: 1-800-MC1-STCK, Always Quality. Always Fun., America's Favorite Fries, Arch Deluxe, Aroma Café, Automac, Big Mac, Big N' Tasty, Big Xtra!, Birdie, the Early Bird and Design, Black History Makers of tomorrow, Bolshoi Mac, Boston Market, Cajita Feliz, Changing The Face of The World, Chicken McGrill, Chicken McNuggets, Chipolte Mexican Grill, Cuarto De Libra, Did Somebody Say , Donatos Pizza, emac digital, Egg McMuffin, Extra Value Meal, Filet-O-Fish, French Fry Box Design, Gep Op Mac, Golden Arches, Golden Arches Logo, Good Jobs For Good People, Good Times. Great Taste., Gospelfest, Great Breaks, Grimace and Design, Groenteburger, HACER, Hamburglar and Design, Hamburger University, Happy Meal, Happy Meal Box Design, Have You Had Your Break Today?, Healthy Growing Up, Helping Hands Logo, Hey, i'm lovin' it, It Could Happen!, Iam Hungry and Design, Immunize for Healthy Lives, Kiwiburger, Lifting Kids To A Better Tomorrow, Mac Attack, Mac Jr., Mac Tonight and Design, McDonald's Racing Team Design, Made For You, McBaby, McBacon, McBurger, McBus, McCafe, McChicken, McDia Feliz, MCDirect Shares, McDonaldland, McDonald's , McDonald's All American High School Basketball Game, McDonald's All American High School Jazz Bank, McDonald's All Star Racing Team, McDonald's Building Design, McDonald's Earth Effort, McDonald's Earth Effort Logo, McDonald's Express, McDonald's Express Logo, McDonald's Is Your Kind of Place, McDonald's Means Opportunity, McDouble, McDrive, McExpress, McFamily, McFlurry, McFranchise, McGriddles, McGrilled Chicken, McHappy Day, McHero, McJobs, McKids, McKids Logo, McKroket, McMaco, McMemories, McMenu, McMusic, McNifica, McNuggets, McNuggets Kip, McOz, McPlane, McPollo, McPrep, McRecycle USA, McRib, McRoyal, McScholar, McScholar of the Year, McSwing, McWorld, Mighty Wings, Millennium Dreamers, Morning Mac, Quarter Pounder, RMHC, Ronald McDonald and Design, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo, Ronald McDonald House Logo, Ronald Scholars, Sausage McGriddles, Sausage McMuffin, Single Arch Logo, Speedee Logo, Super Size, Teriyaki McBurger, The House That Love Built, The House That Love Built Design, twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesoniononasesameseedbun, Vegi Mac, We Love to See You Smile, What's On Your Place, When the U.S. Wins You Win, World Children's Day, World Children's Day Logo, World Famous Fries, You Deserve a Break Today.

Monday, November 17, 2003

NPR is doing a retrospective on the National Lampoon Radio Hour on the occasion of its 30th birthday. As I've mentioned here before, I'm a staff writer for the show, hosted by Richard Belzer, and this Morning Edition piece covers the impact the show has had, and there's a selection of sketches on the page for listening. Sadly my immortal Dick Cheney piece is not among them, but I can only hope that after I am dead from overdosing and my material is three decades older NPR will see fit to celebrate my ass as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

One week from today, THE UGLY AMERICAN goes up at the Intiman. For details on the show, check out this article I wrote for The Stranger, a weekly paper in Seattle. In the same paper can be found this interview with me on a variety of topics, including my feelings on the descriptor "owl-shaped."

To order tickets to THE UGLY AMERICAN you simply need to go here at Intiman's web site.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Via Patrick:

>Found this wonderful story hidden away on the BBC News website:
>>When Sir Ian McKellen was lobbying then Home Secretary Michael Howard about
>the controversial Section 28, which forbids the promotion of homosexuality
>in schools, Mr Howard asked for the actor's autograph for his children.
>With a smile on his face, but with his lobbying having failed, McKellen
>says he wrote :"F*** off, I'm gay."

Last night was the Hale's Ales night in the theater. God bless them, that was a lot of drinky audience members--it almost felt like I was back at the Speakeasy again, though there were many fewer winos screaming from the alleys behind the theater, interrupting the show.

I have four shows over the weekend, and I have to say I'm excited for it--this is the last full weekend of the show, which is hard to believe after doing the show Off-Broadway, because I keep expecting the show to go on for 6 months or so. It's a little sad, but since we have the new show to occupy our time and there are whisperings of a new city for 21DY to visit in 2004 it isn't final.

Jean-Michele sent me a transcript of a wonderful talk by Ira Glass. I'm not a part of the Cult Of Ira--if you work in storytelling, or hang out with people who've written for This American Life, or know freelance journalists you are probably familiar with this cult, which can be annoying but is otherwise pretty benign. But Ira himself is a very laid back, very intelligent guy, and this talk in particular is quite savvy. I liked even more this interview with Ira at the Onion A.V. Club.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Yes, giant coyote hats are the latest rage in postmodern Williamsburg. Beautiful.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Good show tonight--hard crowd at first, and not as large as some we've been having, but over time they I reeled them in and they decided to get on the ride with me. Some wonderful moments--the ending went particularly well this evening.

Afterwards I adjourned to McMenamins with Cory and Troy from the sketch scene, and Imogen Love and Sarah Rudinoff representing the acting scene. Beer was drunk and tater tots were eaten, and we discussed the paradox that in order to be discovered and embraced by Seattle, you have to leave Seattle and live in other cities. I argued that while unfair, it is not a strange system--people want a sense of mythology in their artists, an arc to their travels, and evidence that they can hold their own nationally before they return. As you might imagine, people don't always like the system because for some people, leaving Seattle is not an option--but for those people there is always the choice to break the rules, if they can find a way to force the city to recognize them.

Sarah Rudinoff is a fantastic actress, artist and human being whom I worked with years ago doing weird, edgy improv and strange theater. Just a stellar lady--so sharp, and so adept with her performance skills that she takes your breath away. We hadn't actually hung out in years, and it was such a pleasure--she's been finding success of her own, with amazing reviews for her solo work and a booking for her new show at On The Boards in their upcoming season. It's so nice to talk to other solo performers and find common ground--it can get awfully lonely up there.

Work on The Ugly American has been going very well, and tomorrow is a real crunch day--I'm revising and streamlining, and a shape is starting to form out of the mist. I'm going to hit the bed so I can get back into it early tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Check this out--the FCC cut the cord on phone numbers. Now if you drop your home number, you can take that number with you to be a cellular number, or whatever you like...a very nice ruling, which should help increase the churn in the wireless market & keep pressure on the landline companies to compete.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Dude, it's the brightest laptop in the world!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has an interesting proposal: artistic freedom vouchers as an alternative to copyright. The corporate masters who run the system would never agree to it, but it's an good read for its vision and scope.

An amazing audience last night--they were actually more energetic than the opening, which is quite remarkable. I actually had to stop the show during the prologue, as a lady was laughing so hard and erratically that it was scaring people around her--they (and I) feared she might be having a seizure. Happily, she survived.

We had some folks from in the house as well--their company takes a beating in the show, but they seemed to weather it with grace.

Back-to-back shows, on a sunny autumn day in Seattle. Not too shabby...and now I will get breakfast at the Continental, my favorite Greek place.

Friday, November 07, 2003

William Saletan whines a bit here about government in action, but it's worth the time. I've never spent time in traffic court--this isn't very encouraging.

Ladies and gentlemen, the CIA has a kid's site where Ginger the Bear goes on adventures for the Friendly Federal Government. We all owe Ray a round of thanks for this one.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Big writing day. Can't talk now, very very busy, can't talk now, moving my hands, all day long, very very busy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Our friends at Eat The State with some tips for how to skip paying taxes, just like Bill Gates.
A gallery of eggshells carved with a high speed tool. Intricate, delicate work.

It's a tie for best moment of last night's panel:

1) Scott making an excited point about how gold rush fanatics would coat themselves in a special paste before rolling down mountains...then, at the bottom, they were supposed to be covered in gold dust which will have stuck to them.

2)The audience member who liked the show, but wanted to know why his friend, a very old lady, hated the show more than any other show she's ever seen in her life. I was asked to explain why she hated it, and not knowing the woman personally was forced to simply admit that you can't please everybody.

My great thanks to Glenn, Scott and Eric for their assistance, and to Stephanie for moderating.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Here's a picture of my sister at mile 18 of the NYC marathon, looking sharp.

Tonight after the show is Speaker's Corner, where some folks are going to speak with me on a panel after the show. It's an eclectic mix of people: Eric Berry, former Customer Service warrior, Glenn Fleischmann, tech pundit, writer and former early-era Amazonian and Scott Cole, an old friend of mine who is teaching at UW and specializes in oral performance forms and the mythology of the West. We'll talk with moderator Stephanie Coen, then take audience questions and so forth--should be fun. Stick around if you are coming to the show this evening.

Monday, November 03, 2003

If you're reading this from the UW Drama program--thanks for being such a great audience today. I had a great time, and from the questions afterward you seem to be a really savvy bunch, so there's cause to hope. My email link is in the nav bar.

Thanks to Ray for this.

More shots from my adopted home: this is next to my studio/lair where I write next to the Manhattan Bridge.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

What a fantastic night--the audience was so responsive, and it was made all the more special by it being a Sunday evening show...for those that don't know theater, that is not traditionally a time when audiences leap into life. What luck, and how wonderful to get to do the show for them this evening--it really was a treat, and a great way to end a long week before my day off.

It's actually not much of a day off--I have a lot of writing to do, and I'm giving a lecture at the UW Drama program in the afternoon. Tomorrow night is going to be a big family dinner, which I am looking forward to a lot, and hopefully I'll have caught up by then.

Congratulations to my lovely sister, who finished the NYC marathon today with an excellent time--she kicked P. Diddy's ass, which was her main objective. I couldn't be more proud.
Something I haven't posted in a while: some real Amazon customer service exchanges, this time with an author having issues with the new search features at Amazon with regards to her book. The correspondence is a horrific chain of one terrible form letter after another from Amazon--as if evidence was needed that things had changed at the company, this certainly corroborates the feelings of many that no one is awake over there anymore.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Yesterday I was honored to serve as the Judge and High Executor of the annual Intiman Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest--a pitched, timed battle of skill and daring at which each department battles to the death to determine their supremacy in the upcoming year.

The design elements are crucial to good execution. Mistakes are unacceptable.

Hold the pumpkin as you would a baby you were sacrificing.

Zombies have low dexterity, and should observe rather than carve.

A masterpiece--disturbing, relevant and likely to scare theatregoers.

This year's victor--our friends in production understand brutalism, and know how to use nails with aplomb.

Again, my thanks to all the teams that participated, and it is my earnest hope that I'll be able to reprise my role as Judge in the future as I didn't receive nearly enough bribes this time around.

Friday, October 31, 2003

All Hallow's Eve. They say this is the night when the walls between worlds are their thinnest, and i can believe it--I feel thin and drawn out myself, almost transparent this morning. I know that I need more sleep, but I can't seem to get it--things have been happening with such intensity that I feel like I'm worn away in places. It's not an entirely unpleasant feeling--it's familiar to me, from other runs. It means the show is up.

Sorry to leave any of you hanging after the opening--that was bad form, but I was a wreck yesterday the next day. I was taken by surprise by the generosity of spirit of the friends, family, colleagues, artists and perfect strangers who came to the show Wednesday--what an avalanche! I was happy that I'd experienced the Off-Broadway opening so that I would have the skills needed to ride that enthusiasm properly, and keep the audience with often felt as if they wished to simply fly off the rails entirely and fling themselves up at the rafters. Crazy.

But lovely--as they say, these are the kind of problems to have. I had lunch with my sister yesterday at Wild Ginger, one of our favorite restaurants...JM used to work there, long ago, and I returning always reminds me of who we'd eat all our meals there on the sly, since we couldn't afford food that summer. Mary is going to run the New York Marathon--she flew to NYC last night, and her most earnest desire is to beat P. Diddy's time. I have no doubts that she will handly kick that mutherfucker's ass. Fo shizzle, mcnizzle.

Today I am judging a pumpkin carving contest over at Intiman, which I am excited about, as it means I will be assured of doing at least one Halloween-y thing today...we often screw up Halloween, because somehow it all turns into costume parties that I don't feel like dressing for because I wear costumes for work, and frat-boy dance parties I am now a little too old for. I am hoping to visit Annex Theater's event being held in an abandoned house, after...


You see, after the show tonight there's this lobby event where the audience can stay and Artistic Director Bartlett Sher talks with them about the show. I'm taking part as well, and I'm excited because the title


is, for some reason, the most evocative name to me. In fact, for weeks every time JM and I need to speak with Bart, we'd tell the other,

"I need to talk to Bart today."
"Oh? Do you need to have a CONVERSATION WITH BART?"
"Oh yes. I need a CONVERSATION WITH BART rather badly."
Then we giggle.

I keep imagining that the CONVERSATION will be like a live theatrical rendition of My Dinner With Andre, complete with a superlong table, across which Bart and I will trade quips and bon mots over a crisp, dry Merlot.

This is, however, unlikely. Instead there will probably be a lot of audience questions, we will sit in normal chairs and I'm quite looking forward to it--when you do a one-person show, you like talking to the audience after the show because if you don't you end up hanging out alone, reading a book, wondering how you could go from talking to 400 people to nobody in a twinkling. It's kind of creepy.

Also, Bart is really sharp, and in that respect it probably will be like My Dinner With Andre...and I hear there is wine and cheese and suchlike in the lobby afterward, so if anybody wants to do an impromptu staging, I'm sure we'll be up for it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Opening Day. Man, I love this day--it always feels like a birthday, but better because you've worked for it and slaved for it and then it blooms, full-grown, in front of you. The weather in Seattle is cooperating, which is very polite of it, and it feels like every person we know or are related to in the Greater Northwest is coming to see the show this evening.

Jean-Michele and I have been busy making gifts all day, over which I think we have fought more than we did during the entire artistic process of mounting the show here at Intiman. I take that as a good sign of our continued stability--if we were able to work together AND make crafts together without incident there would probably be something seriously wrong.

Given the fluid nature of the show there has been a surprising number of last-minute changes--I'm locking those down now, and then will retreat to the Meditation Chamber to prepare for the show.

There's a big party after the show this evening, and then a more hard-core party after that...and after that, amazingly, JM and I leap into THE UGLY AMERICAN. Not so much "leap" as "stumble", since we'll be hungover, but that's the plan, Stan.

Love her or hate her, Camille Paglia always manages to express a boatload of radical opinions and viewpoints in an amazingly short space. I've always enjoyed the way she galvanizes me, both positively and negatively.

On the complete opposite side of the bench, the New Yorker has a pretty fantastic interview with one of my favorite people, Tina Fey. I've only met her once, which is one more time than I've met Paglia, but this quote speaks for itself: “If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.”

So very true. She's brutal, and I love her for that.
Simple equation: work for Microsoft, mention how even Microsoft loves Apple's new G5, provide picture...and find yourself unemployed. Who's at fault? Frankly, the blogger--he choose to work for Microsoft and forgot that the company is not only an exceptionally savage corporation, and somehow also forgot that Microsoft has never had a sense of humor. Ever.

He describes the actual moment of firing, and has some honest, straightforward thoughts on the issue. I admire his candor and restraint.

Best of luck finding a new position, Michael.
Check out this story on the Rock, Paper, Scissors World Championships. Great stuff.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

What a fantastic day off--almost nothing happened. I did some writing, watched a little TV with my baby, read a little, cleaned up the computer, laundry...all the desiderata of normal life, enjoyed to its fullest because I was not in a theater.

And sleep! Lordy there was a lot of sleep. I feel like a new man now, and I'm very excited to go across the street tonight for the final preview.

Last night I got to visit two of my favorite places: Ruby's on the Ave, and B&O Espresso on CapHill. We had a lovely dinner at the bohemian-by-way-of-Burroughs lair of Ruby's, and a chocolate pot at B&O. The chocolate pot is what it sounds like: a small pot, heated, with a kind of souffle-y chocolate within it. What a great idea. Mr. Tynes accompanied us and we talked about all manner of things, both great and small, and mercifully forgot about the show for a time.

Be warned that an intense solar flare will hit the earth tonight at midnight, PST. I'll be watching for auroras if there's a break in the Seattle cloud cover.
How I miss the Gowanus Canal, and the assorted beautiful trash of NYC.

Super frustrating Stephen Glass interview in Salon today--he loops back on himself repeatedly, contradicts himself often and, in total, sounds like a skittish crazypants. It did make me want to see the film more than any other news has about it.

Monday, October 27, 2003

It's Monday, the theater day of rest, and I am doing so. As such, there is little to report, and I am going to spend time in the non-virtual world, ensuring that I'm ready for the opening on Wednesday. More later.
Views of California burning, taken from low Earth orbit. Gah.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

It finally happened--I have offended some of my readership with the Siegfried and Roy photo, who question its taste. Yes, it's in bad taste--but that's how S&R dress, darlings. I can't fix that.

Last night's preview was exhilaratingly fun, and JM has really kicked ass today with Greg, the lighting designer, on kicking out the last of the tweaks. It's a world of difference from where the show was just a few days ago, and it's hard to believe how much has happened so quickly. Had some great conversations during tech today with the gang--everyone here is so bright, and I love the way we can talk about all sorts of topics while lights are getting focused. It's a lot more fun now, since things have begun to work cleanly, and that's reflected in the amount of fun people are having.

Another preview tonight, and then mercifully there is a day off, which means I can start catching up. I owe The Stranger a 3000+ word article for an upcoming issue, and I need to really dig into that, as well as domestic issues (laundry, banking) and even more writing in advance of the end of the month. It'll be nice to rest the theater muscles and switch to other forms, though.

Point of clarification: in a recent interview I am quoted as saying:

...the Daisey plan for the cultural enrichment of the United States. "Get rid of all the subsidies for the arts," he says. "Just institute universal health and dental care. It would be a great boon to the arts and artists. When you're young -- sure, I can sleep on the floor, I can write or rehearse at night and temp during the day, I don't need benefits, I'm healthy. But that doesn't last. People want to get married. They want to have kids."

I stand by those words, but that's not really all I said on the subject--I emphatically qualified that it's obvious that this is not an if/then equation--arts funding is a miniscule amount of the federal budget, whereas universal health coverage would be a huge program. This quote out of context has been spiced up so I sound more gonzo-esque, which I can appreciate, but I don't like looking like I support cutting arts programs--they're so damn small already that they aren't going to make a goddamn difference on any budget, anywhere, and the richness they bring out far outweighs the cost.

Blah blah blah. Maybe I'm just being sensitive, and it doesn't read that way, but when I read that I thought I sounded like a moron.

Enough of that. Back to the theater, and then a day off.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Well, we have survived--though there are a lot more challenges ahead, I think we just passed the greatest hurdle by getting through yesterday.

The runs were both very solid, but I spent more energy than I should have on the first one, which made it hard to deliver completely in the evening...and since the evening was when there was 300+ people on hand, it becomes very important to deliver then.

Also, I haven't got my arms around the space yet. Bart has mentioned that the space has a warmth which can beguile, and I believe him--strangely, the performer feels like he is more connected to the audience than the audience does back to the performer, which can create a false sense of security from the stage. It's almost hemispherical, this space, which means you have to carry thoughts and actions out into arcs that address sweeps of the audience, rather than planting and sending moments in specific directions. Last night involved a lot of discoveries like that, but the lovely preview audience was a perfect resonator and partner for figuring out the lay of the land.

After the shows we did PUSH, which was a lot of fun...UP IN YOUR GRILL rode again, and we chose to do a sketche from memory that hadn't been performed in 4 years, and the weird thing is how well it *did* go, or that we were able to do anything at all. I'd say we were definitely there for the fun, since a lot of the other acts were actually very sharp and on their game--there was a big assortment of talent on hand, and it made me really glad that the festival has continued to live under Val's leadership.

Speaking of Val, she picks me up in a few minutes for a SketchFest forum, after which we have an afternoon of lighting and technical changes, followed by tonight's second preview. I have to admit, this is pretty seductive--if every regional theater were as cool as the Intiman, I might have problems returning to my garage theater origins. They are so damn competent, and there is a mastery of craft that makes it a pleasure to create there--everything is aimed toward the clarification of the show, and while JM has a very difficult job I think she's getting some world-class support from these folks. We're in a good place.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Today's the day. Final dress is an hour and a half away, and then it's first preview this evening. It's a lovely opening day--the sky is bullet blue, and if I didn't know better I'd think Seattle imported the autumn crispness from the northeast. Everything is ready.

That's the problem, actually--everything *is* ready. In a way it's easier to be in tech--it's longer and more abusive, but the expectations are off me, which is nice for a change...until they come rushing back, as they have now. I haven't found my pacing in the theater--it's a big space, though it is impressively easy to make connections with the audience, and I'm just going to have to trust that all the things I've done so often and worked on will fall into place. It remains an unsettling feeling, which I guess is the ultimate sign that I am not taking the show for granted.

Amazingly we are actually planning to get over to the Seattle SketchFest tonight for PUSH, the new performance cabaret. We'll be doing something with our old gang, UP IN YOUR GRILL, which should be great--at that point I'll be deliriously tired, which is often a good space for comedy.

Jesus, that was a tech and a half. I took a few pictures--here are the highlights:

Here is the stuff we've been fueling ourselves with through the 12 hour days at tech. Nice thing is, Intiman actually bought the chocolates--they are a classy operation!

Here's an action shot, taken after I've drank too much of that coffee. You can see someone setting actual cues and fixing a light on the set--very sexy!

The crew banded together and brought an amazing number of misfit action figures to be warrior minions after I foolishly promised to incorporate them into the show. I am deliriously happy here, about to order these small soldiers to end this tech once and for all.

A good time for everyone. Now it is on to previews, where the scores can really change.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

That was fun--I just did a long piece on KZOK, for the Bob Roberts show. Turned out very well--he's actually really good at going from loud, raucous interplay with his show buddies back down to a surprisingly focused interview, with a voice that has a lot of range and depth to it. Cool guy.

Stephanie accompanied me to the interviews, and specifically mentioned that she has been wondering when folks from Intiman will start being talked about by name in the blog. Well, Stephanie, the answer would be right now.

I also did a book interview right after, which was solid but not quite as remarkable, and now I need to grab breakfast and make my way to tech. I am going to try and bring the camera today and get some pictures of the theater so that folks can see what the wonderful world of theater looks like in tech. Get ready for bleary eyes, short fuses and a lot of coffee. Oh lordy, there will be coffee.

We teched last night until nearly midnight, and now it is 8am--I have two radio interviews this morning, back to back, and then it is back into tech. Today is going to be a long day--we are experimenting with how light passes through the plexiglas elements of the wall, and it can be slow going. Still, spirits are up, and the director is getting some much needed sleep in the other room--she's the one most of these decisions rely on, between the two of us, so I am glad for her.

My ride's here. More later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Here we are in the brave new world--things look pretty nifty, I have to say. Many kudos to Mr. Tynes for his indefatigable efforts in hoisting this design aloft--all the successes are his, and the errors my own.

The site has been drastically simplified and unified, which I hope will make the whole both more pleasing to look at AND mean that it all gets more play. naturally most of the activity will be here at the blog, but the new design should help ensure that other areas get updated a hell of a lot faster than they used to...and even if they don't, that it will look better while laying fallow.

Since this blog once again went underwater a number of important events have happened--I am not in NYC currently but instead Seattle, where I am putting 21DY up at the Intiman Theater. We're heading into tech rehearsals today, so the preceding week has been a flurry of 5 and 6 hour rehearsals where I spoke the show, shifting sections, tuning and retuning the arc of the story. JM has been tireless, and as a consequence I have been very tired--but I feel the end result will be more than worth it, as this version of the show is stronger, leaner and runs with a buoyancy we've never achieved before, while still keeping all the threads intact.

I'm enjoying Seattle a lot, getting back in touch with lost of people I haven't seen in a long time--the Seattle SketchFest is going on, a festival I started 5 years ago, and it's been amazing to see how Val Bush has taken the ramshackle beginnings I laid and really run with them. I'll be performing there on Friday night as part of its experimental comedy evening, PUSH, and then on Saturday I'm part of a forum on sketch comedy.

Maybe we will even see a resumption of more frequent posting on my part, now that the site has been updated, but I think I will follow a mantra we used at a workplace I used to inhabit: underpromise and overdeliver. With that in mind, have no expectations for this virtual'll be pleasantly surprised at the results.
I can feel it! The new site is emerging! It springs from its larval form to face the horrible world!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

When will regular updates resume? When will the site finally be updated? When will this graphical design be retired and a new one instituted? When will I say something about being in Seattle? When? When?

Soon. Soon.
Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things: "At 7-Eleven's new 'hot beverage stations,' customers will have a choice of more than 1,300 combinations. A minimum of five varieties of coffee, four flavored syrups, seven different tea bags, five toppings, creamers, sweeteners and all types of milk will be available at each station. 7-Eleven's customers will make the drinks themselves, guided by store suggestions, thus avoiding waiting in line to order. The drinks will cost about $1 per cup instead of the typical coffeehouse prices hovering between $3 and $4."

Monday, October 20, 2003

Gawker: Lucky founding editor-in-chief Kim France responds to negative feedback -- for instance, when New York mag's Simon Dumenco referred to Lucky as "soul death": "'Does my jaw drop in focus groups where women look at the 'Ask the Editors' column' -- a relatively straightforward question-and-answer feature -- and say, 'I don't want to read that page because there's too much text there'? Yes. That freaks me the hell out.'"

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Gawker: "We were all talking about the minimal yet somehow enduring appeal of far-away Los Angeles. I want to want to live there, I said. Maybe in 10 years, when I no longer care about my quality of life, someone said. Maybe, maybe I'll live there -- when they fucking run me out of New York, someone else said. After all, how could we leave behind the moments that make the greatest city great? On the street, spanking-new New York resident Matt overhears this exchange:

Women with two children (pointing): 'Ooo! Kids, look at the little doggie!'
Women walking dog: 'Why don't you take them to a fucking zoo?'"

Monday, October 13, 2003

My God. I can't believe it is finally coming down.

RIP, Yahoo sign. From the moment I hit down it seemed weirdly anachronistic but charming--and as a guy who commented on dot-culture, I enjoyed this stale reminder of corporate sponsorships past. Then it shifted to weird as it got older, and finally it became almost celebratory...after so long, SOMETHING remained. And now it is gone.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Sir Mix-A-Lot's '(I Like) Big Butts)'. In Latin.

magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
(Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.)
quis enim, consortes mei, non fateatur,
(For who, colleagues, would not admit,)
cum puella incedit minore medio corpore
(Whenever a girl comes by with a rather small middle part of the body)
sub quo manifestus globus, inflammare animos
(Beneath which is an obvious spherical mass, that it inflames the spirits)"

Monday, October 06, 2003

Only in New York does some freak keep a TIGER in his apartment. At least Roy had the good sense to have proper facilities, though ironically after this weekend the expert is in critical condition and the dude who owns the above tiger is in better shape.

He also had an alligator in the same apartment.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Whoops! Appears that Ms. Madonna is lifting images and material from Guy Bourdin. See for yourself. Not certain where the line for any artist lies between artful inspiration and outright thievery, but it would have been classy if she acknowledged it more and called in an homage.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

If I don't drive around the park,

I'm pretty sure to make my mark.

If I'm in bed each night by ten,

I may get back my looks again.

If I abstain from fun and such,

I'll probably amount to much;

But I shall stay the way I am,

Because I do not give a damn.

--Dorothy Parker

Sunday, September 21, 2003

So, the Library Hotel is being sued by the people who own the Dewey Decimal system. First, I was floored that a company owns Dewey, and that they license it fo $500/library/year. ddi something created ANONYMOUSLY in 1873 not enter the public domain? Does that even make sense on any scale? I know we have some lawyers in the readership--if anyone can explain how a system created 130 years ago by a long-dead person who orgiginally published it anonymously doesn't enter the public domain? Or is it just the phrase "Dewey Decimal" which they have trademarked, which doesn't make much more sense? I'm perplexed.

Also, they want triple the profits the hotel has made since it opened as compensation. What? For using a filing system? And of course, they don't actually file books with that system--they just used it to dictate room themes. Triple the profits?

Friday, September 19, 2003

I'm typing this from Paul Robeson High School, just off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where I'm the visiting author for New York Book Week activities. The first class was waylaid by an assembly, so now that I'm off the hook a bit I thought I'd take a second and post, as it's been really light this week.

The high school has been fascinating and gracious so far--a far cry from the stereotyped "scary, scary" urban high school mythology. The librarians and teachers are ridiculously kind, and while it is certain that the physical plant and resources aren't what I've seen at other schools, there's a fierce independent streak that is terribly refreshing.

This week saw the second mounting of YOGA BITCH, the show created by Suzanne Morrison and Jean-Michele Daisey about Suzanne's adventures in pissdrinking and enlightenment. The short workshop was really sharp, and a lot of issues have been ironed out of the show--I am more confident than ever that we are going to be able to find a home for it.

In less than a month I will be back in Seattle, running DOG YEARS at Intiman and creating my new show, THE UGLY AMERICAN. I'm both nervous and giddy at the trip home--I hope that Seattle is gracious, and that I can bring back there work of value. It's been a long time since I created a full-length show, but this one has been basting for 3 years now, and I'm very ready to stick it in the oven.

My friend Colleen is in the new play at Playwright's Horizons, RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS. She's starring with Heather Graham, but all the press photos for the Times preview piece feature Colleen rather than Graham. Woo! Way to sneak in under the radar, Colleen! I'm hoping to catch this next week.

Finally, there is a piece of job-related news. I have accepted a position as a staff writer for the NATIONAL LAMPOON radio show, hosted by Richard Belzer of LAW AND ORDER fame. Work begins immediately, and while it isn't my only gig it'll be a lot of fun--meeting all the folks involved this week was a lot of fun, and now I'll have a home for all my low-brow, stupid-ass pieces too offensive to find a home elsewhere.

Well, I'd better get ready for the little period begins soon. Man, a few hours here and I feel like I'm right back in high school, terrifying existential angst and everything.
View of Isabel from the sea:

Thursday, September 18, 2003

From the same site, if you're a fan of GAWKER then this is interesting: A Brief History of Elizabeth Spiers. In the comments section it gets pretty heated, and Ms. Spiers chimes in with her own thoughts on the piece.
Extensive analysis of the latest WTC site plan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A moving story of one woman's afternoon with Johnny Cash.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, olny taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pcleas. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by ilstef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
"Ashcroft was bombarded by cries of 'Shame!' and the sound of the 'Imperial Death March' from the movie 'Star Wars' as he entered a meeting with law enforcement officials in Faneuil Hall."
The short but bizarre story of a 'heavy' ballerina. I think we all want to know just how big this ballerina is that none of those strapping young Bolshoi lads can lift her.

Courtesy of Ginger we now have a picture of this "fat" ballerina:

Hmmmmm. I'm not in ballet, but daaaaaaaamn...if that's heavy, I hate to think where I land on the spectrum!

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Fred Kaplan artfully eviscerates Bush's military budget requests. Required reading.

From SeriousDanger: Thomas Aquinas drove a temptress from his chambers with a hot poker. Then angels appeared to him in a dream and gave him the "girdle of perpetual virginity" (+6 AC bonus against harlots and succubi). If he had shared his bed, though, this capital crime against god, man, and nature would totally have made his list.
Q. What is a millihelen?
A. The amount of beauty it takes to launch a single ship.
My God, I want some of these ray guns so badly.

You can buy these beauties here.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Maybe he wasn't considered the greatest actor, but I've always had a soft spot for John Ritter. It does need to be said that he was only good in movies--every TV show he ever created was simply awful.

I can't believe that in the same week we lost Zevon, Cash and...Ritter? God has a dark, dark sense of humor indeed.
Louise Gluck, who taught me poetry once upon a time in another life, is now poet laureate. Congratulations, Louise--the press won't say this about you, because they don't think it's proper, but you rock.
No Americans Need Apply. Sign of our age...people killing themselves after training their overseas replacements.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Goddamn it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

ABC News shows the government can't detect uranium that's shipped into the country. Government responds not with humility or spin control, but instead begins felony investigation of ABC News for daring to humiliate them.
Well I'll be damned. Pixies To Reunite For Tour, Album. Everyone else does it, but i really didn't expect them to ever reunite.
Could they be bigger hypocrites? After the RIAA has cried that P2P services kill their sales and they are "forced" to sue children, WIRED publishesthis article about BigChampagne, a company the labels are using to track P2P downloads. Not to prosecute--they track the stats because it may be the best way to see where the tastes and trends of the country are.

So the "pirates" they endlessly cry about are the same people who establish what is hot and what is not? And we're supposed to feel *bad* for this corporate behemoth?
Fred's right on in this Slate piece, much as I wish he weren't so damningly accurate with the luxury of hindsight. While I don't feel happy about the treatment the world has given the US, there is little doubt to me now that the PR angle of the attacks could not have been handled more ineptly by the administration...and that failure is an absolutely damning one. There's no reason that the US should not have been able to do everything it has done in the last two years and keep its allies on its side.

Andrew Sullivan disagrees, of course, and while I see his side of things, it's clear that a little sugar here would have gone far. But Bush is a non-sweetner kind of a guy.

I laugh at the French on a regular basis--hey, who doesn't?--but that doesn't preclude wanting them on your side in a fight.

After all, these guys invented the Maginot Line--they're bound to have more great ideas on defense any minute now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

"Saudi Arabia's religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the 'Jewish' toy." Between connections to Al Qaeda and this kind of racist ass-clownery will someone explain why, if we are so damn militant, we can't simply lob a nuke on Riyadh? Or, if that's too mean, a bomb filled with thousands and thousands of Barbies in it?
I read this evening as part of the Tuesday Night Non Fiction Series at KGB Bar, located at 85 E. 4th Street. I will be reading with Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and militant onanist. The readings begin at 7pm...come on down if you're in the hood.
Another bad move for the RIAA. Are these people ever going to run out of feet to shoot themselves in?
The government's plan for air safety with CAPPS II is fucked. My favorite part is the threat assessment...if they really tag 1-2% of air travellers as "red' and prohibit them from boarding, this equals out to around 500,000 per year at JFK, based on the 50 million that move through that airport. That's over 1,300 travellers per day, or about one traveller a minute. Who is going to interrogate all these detainees? No one, that's who...because as the system proves itself unwieldly, it will be bypassed, and the only difference in security will be that the government is collecting and analyzing your credit and purchasing records.
"At Vanity Date we have a vision of creating a database of the world's most good looking, rich and superficial people we could muster."

Monday, September 08, 2003

My Ride's Here
by Warren Zevon and Paul Muldoon

I was staying at the Marriott
With Jesus and John Wayne
I was waiting for a chariot
They were waiting for a train
The sky was full of carrion
"I'll take the mazuma"
Said Jesus to Marion
"That's the 3:10 to Yuma
My ride's here..."

The Houston sky was changeless
We galloped through bluebonnets
I was wrestling with an angel
You were working on a sonnet
You said, "I believe the seraphim
Will gather up my pinto
And carry us away, Jim
Across the San Jacinto
My ride's here..."

Shelley and Keats were out in the street
And even Lord Byron was leaving for Greece
While back at the Hilton, last but not least
Milton was holding his sides
Saying, "You bravos had better be
ready to fight
Or we'll never get out of East Texas tonight
The trail is long and the river is wide
And my ride's here"

I was staying at the Westin
I was playing to a draw
When in walked Charlton Heston
With the Tablets of the Law
He said, "It's still the Greatest Story"
I said, "Man, I'd like to stay
But I'm bound for glory
I'm on my way
My ride's here..."

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Potentially very useful: A step-by-step guide to destroying your computer.
World's Biggest Salad!

Friday, September 05, 2003

Erupting volcanoes rock.
"Benji explains that every square inch of Disneyland has its own obsessives. There are people solely devoted to Ron Miller, the man who plays ragtime piano in Refreshment Corner at the end of Main Street. There is one woman who comes to the park every day and just rides the Indiana Jones Adventure over and over. Its crew gave her a crystal bowl to commemorate her thousandth time. There are Haunted Mansion people, Matterhorn people. Benji and his closest friends don�t focus on one attraction, though; they are generalists, they like everything at the park."

Fantastic news, hot off the presses...I couldn't talk about this before, but now that it is in Playbill, it's fair game. My manager David is bringing SLAVA'S SNOWSHOW to Broadway next year. Slava is a fantastically inventive Russian clown, which is to say he's as much Samuel Beckett as he is funny with strains of both wonder and melancholy woven together.

He creates a haunting landscape in this show, and through his play he illuminates real theatrical spectacle...the show is breathtaking to behold, and I am thrilled to be working with someone bringing it to Broadway.

Tonight we're toasting success to the project at the Russian Vodka Bar, and in advance of all the sloppy drinking and toasts I wish David, Ross and everybody at Foster Entertainment lots of luck with this fantastic undertaking--they're very excited, and they should be.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

It's funny because it's true: An Open Letter To Paris Hilton.
Psssst. Ever wonder why all your computers have virus trouble. Read a simple, clear article: Microsoft Does Not Understand Security.

Or, you could simply get one of these. Whatever floats your boat...but for the record, other than deleting emails from compromised WIndows machines, my system has been bulletproof.
That's our Puffy!
Wonderful article in The Stranger today dissecting and slamming Richard Florida's book, whose central premise is that artists and "creative types" (i.e. computer programmers, scientists, anyone else he wants to glom together) run society now. Ms. Hall does a great job breaking down Florida's arguements, which is important because artists currently, and have always been, treated more or less like shit and I don't think we're running society in any way.
It is just after midnight, and I just got home after performing at the
Little Gray Book Lecture #21: How To Understand Misunderstood Genius.

Nifty graphic. I've already had a few irate people ask why I didn't give them fair warning on this blog of this performance, and that's a good question--after all, isn't that what this website is ostensibly for? There are a number of reasons why it was not publicized here:

a) Accursed avoidance...since returning from Scotland, I have been working on the screenplay and life and avoiding thinking about the LGB lecture, which prevented me from alerting others to its presence.

b) Taking care of business...also since returning from Scotland I have been investigating health insurance plans, learning too much about PPOs vs. HMOs and a whole sordid mess of info. This has made me crabby, busy and also helped prevent me from posting on the event.

c) A small degree of trepidation. I have begun rebuilding the way in which I construct my pieces, taking a radical shift away from total intuition and lingual shamanism and actually using established narrative elements (like notes) to build a framework first. This is something I had never done, and some part of me wanted to perform it without I said nothing.

The long and short is that it went very well--there were some great performers, and as an ardent admirer of Billy Joel's work and somebody who did a one-man show on Brecht's life the evening seemed tailor-made for me. Jonathan Coulton, who is usually quite excellent, really outdid himself tonight with songs that were both smart, catchy and totally funny. Hodgman had to move the proceedings to the front rooom at Galapagos but it was better for the change--more freedom, better positioning for performers and made the whole thing more festive.

Then we got some Polski food with Ginger and caught the L to the G and here I am. I'll spare you further ramblings on my performance style, and simply post that I am reading at KGB Bar on the 9th of this month, just myself and Chuck Klosterman. It should be a lot of fun. I don't know the time just now, but i believe it is in the evening...I'll give a *real* update soon, but this is my Cover Your Ass notice.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Article at on solo performers--focuses on SF types, especially the delightful Mr. Kornbluth. Check it out.
John sent me this great article on Star Trek punk cover bands. An excerpt: It's close to midnight when No Kill I finally implodes. �Don�t fucking look at Kirk�s face! If you look at his face, he�ll kill you,� the Mugatu is shouting.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If you are a Salon subscriber, this is a very pleasant interview with Garrison Keillor. I found his comments about fame, and the temptation to "slide by on charm" very apt. My favorite part:

KEILLOR: We want to be rich, to be admired, to eat like a horse and be skinny as a snake, to have small children ask for our autographs, to be on terrific medications that make us calm and witty and sexy, to be able to give George Bush a piece of our minds, to sing Irving Berlin and Gershwin and Porter at the Oak Room and be described in the Times as "luminous," but in the absence of all that, it's enough to be loved.

Hope everybody had a better Labor Day than I did. At the same time, sitting in my home in Brooklyn, drinking coffee and watching my wife take a nap, I don't think I'd trade with anyone at any price.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Wild boars on the streets of Berlin!
Bottled water: the truth behind the hype!
In a burst of common sense, the Taxi and Limousine Comission has cancelled the installing of TVs in taxis. Why have they done this? Because no one ever, ever liked the fucking things, that's why--they suck total and complete ass. Gothamist details some of the weak justifications the TV companies have for keeping the video advertisements.
"In other words, 'Citizen Kane' is an amazingly innovative film and well worth repeated viewing, but it would have been a lot better with a few sequences featuring half-naked women being chased through a forest by C.H.U.D."
Tom Cruise Sings Elvis Duet with Japan's PM. Very small Tom Cruise + very small world leader = big, big sound!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Home again, home again. Airplane movie roundup:

ANGER MANAGEMENT -- Surprisingly good, and better written than I would have ever expected. Light, buoyant.
DOWN WITH LOVE -- Fetid ass droppings...and my audio system malfunctioning didn't help.
PHONE BOOTH -- Shouldn't this be a play? No one goes anywhere, almost nothing happens...and though I love Keifer Sutherland, I thought his "eeeeevvvvvvvviiiil" voice, though appropriate to the role, strained credulity.

Monday, August 25, 2003

It's Monday again--and the end of the festival. Everywhere you can see the machinery coming down, and the long national hangover is beginning. I've been warned by our producer that the last show is always anticlimactic, and I'm expecting it--how could it not be after a solid month like this?

Over the weekend I saw some amazing theater and shows, including Pickle, which wins my personal vote as the best thing I saw here in Edinburgh--it's a purely magical story, very lovely and very with both imagination and heart.

Demetri won the Perrier, which most expected but I was very pleased--of the nominees I thought he was far and away the one that had to win. The Scotsman article I just linked to pointed out that there was "controversy" over his win, but it seems mainly trumped up to me--I never heard anyone complaining, and the paper isn't even able to find anyone on record saying they are displeased. He rocks and it is really nice to see a good, decent, talented person getting the brass ring. That doesn't happen every day.

One show left here, and then the long trek home...I'm ready for the States, and ready for my home. I will miss the festival, but it's lovely knowing that it's here every year--and now that I've tried it, I expect I'll be back to take another crack at it in the future.

I will miss the cheese here. Man, the Scottish do cheese like nobody's business.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Friday, August 22, 2003

This is so absolutely heartbreaking that I would encourage people to be careful before they click through to it.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Demetri got nominated for the Perrier, which is totally cool, and has led to an examination of one of my favorite subjects: what is the line between theater and stand-up? I'm mentioned as another artist who is blurring the line here this year, and I found that this was a great article, which is rare--often these kind of things devlove into excessive finger-pointing and navel-gazing.

I can understand the reductivist need to define theater as theater and stand-up and stand-up so that awards can be given, or other picky and ultimately silly devices like that. I also think the writer's belief that Dave Gorman is to "blame" for the increase in stand-up that blurs the line is kind of asinine--none of the people he mention as doing this blurring have anything to do with Mr. Gorman, and most have created their shows out of situations that make it clear that there's no case of people imitating a trend here. Still, the meat of the discussion is good--what is stand-up, and what is theater? They seem to settle on a definition of stand-up as "that which can not be imagined being performed by another performer", which I guess means Spalding Gray has been doing stand-up for quite some time...except for a muzzy second law, where theater involves more "story", or something like that.

It's a distinction I deal with often--depending on where people come from, they are often eager to pigeonhole me into one form or the other. It can be a real pain in the ass, though it can have unexpected benefits--I think the work I make can be more vital and interesting to others by occupying an area too chaotic and living to be theater and too story-bound and dvelopmental to be stand-up. It can be very, very cool.

That's enough navel-gazing for me. I have to finish up my work here, then it's off to the theater.
Not so much to report, but I wanted to post something from me so that folks won't start fearing that this blog has devolved into only publishing other people's accounts. I just don't have anything all that interesting to say--saw a pretty great Greek tragedy yesterday, getting over the cold and doing a lot of work before leaving Scotland. That is all.
My little brother writes:

Waiting for Arnold's new campaign ads. I hope he just dumps like 10 million into a huge CGI battlefied on the desolate plains of L.A. after judgement day, and he could be all half-Arnold, half-Terminator, and he could walk up to the camera and tell us how important it is to vote for him so we can avoid this future. He could then kill Gray Davis' Mom and eliminate that threat right there.

Family is funny...I had thought this same exact thing a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Don't know if I agree with all of this, but v. interesting:

I think criticism, more often than not, completely misses the point, yes. The critical impulse, demonstrated by the tone of many of your own questions, is to suspect, doubt, tear at, and to take something apart to see how it works. Which of course is completely the wrong thing to do to art. I used to tear books apart, and tear art exhibits apart - I was an art and book critic for a few years in San Francisco - but my urge to do that was born of bitterness and confusion and anger, not out of any real need to help or edify. When we pick at and tear into artistic output of whatever kind, we really have to examine our motives for doing so. What is it about art that can make us so angry? Is it healthy to rip to shreds something created by an artist? I would posit, if I may, that that's not really a healthy impulse. Now, as far as I know, out of maybe 100 or so reviews that I've been made aware of, my own book has received only one negative example. That's pretty lucky, especially when you consider that Wallace, for example, has gotten pretty abused by some people, people who for the most part don't have the patience his work requires. But criticism, for the most part, comes from the opposite place that book-enjoying should come from. To enjoy art one needs time, patience, and a generous heart, and criticism is done, by and large, by impatient people who have axes to grind. The worst sort of critics are (analogy coming) butterfly collectors - they chase something, ostensibly out of their search for beauty, then, once they get close, they catch that beautiful something, they kill it, they stick a pin through its abdomen, dissect it and label it. The whole process, I find, is not a happy or healthy one. Someone with his or her own shit figured out, without any emotional problems or bitterness or envy, instead of killing that which he loves, will simply let the goddamn butterfly fly, and instead of capturing and killing it and sticking it in a box, will simply point to it - "Hey everyone, look at that beautiful thing" - hoping everyone else will see the beautiful thing he has seen. Just as no one wants to grow up to be an IRS agent, no one should want to grow up to maliciously dissect books. Are there fair and helpful book critics? Yes, of course. But by and large, the only book reviews that should be trusted are by those who have themselves written books. And the more successful and honored the writer, the less likely that writer is to demolish another writer. Which is further proof that criticism comes from a dark and dank place. What kind of person seeks to bring down another? Doesn't a normal person, with his own life and goals and work to do, simply let others live? Yes. We all know that to be true.
Look kids! It's a website tool that analyzes text and then tells whether the author is male or female based on fancy-pants algorithms. Got to give it credit--it has worked for everything I've thrown at it so far. Hmmmm.