Thursday, December 09, 2004

Last Hired

On Monday returned the man I fired
wanting the phone number of the laborer he loaned money to,
and stood while I wrote it out on a scrap of shingle
and the crew on the floor kept hammering

with the silence of three hammers tapping out different beats.
I scratched down the name and seven digits with a flat pencil,
scrawling across the ridged grain and then with it.
He thanked me with an uncomfortable smile and left.

He was incompetent, but incompetence is not a crime
-- I never liked him.
Out of almost pure intuition, right from the beginning
and I noticed how quickly the other men closed in beside me

against him. He must have felt it, too,
those days as he knocked the nails out of his screwed-up formwork,
and spit saliva in the hammermarks of his windowsills
to raise the grain. Must have every day

felt more alone. He had a habit of mumbling explanations
that trailed into incoherence. But he was not a stupid man.
when I asked him to repeat himself, he shrugged me off
with a sigh and asked me what I wanted him to do.

The morning I fired him I walked down to the street
before he could leave his truck, and was on the way surprised
and annoyed by a hypocritical watering in my eyes that went away.
Then catching him, saw-in-hand, I told him to go back to the truck.

I said it deliberately hard, so he would guess
before I said the words. Then we stood together. And he took it
as if he expected, and failure were something he had grown around.
Then he got in his truck, drove the street, and was gone.

Mark Turpin

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Tonight I'll be hosting The Moth's StorySLAM at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe., where audience members sign up to tell five-minute stories in a delightful environment, with drinks and tomfoolery. Full details on how it all happens are here:

The Nuyorican is at 236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B & C. Signup is at 7, the show starts at 7:30 and tickets are $6.

Tomorrow (Wednesday the 17th) I'll be performing at the outstanding series HOW TO KICK PEOPLE in an evening of reading, laughing, hurting and forgiving where I'll be joined by the incomparable Jonathan Ames and a cast of thousands. The provocative theme? "I AM NOT A MISTAKE!" HTKP happens at Under St. Marks at 94 St. Marks Street between 1st and A, the show begins at 8 and the tickets are only $7.

Finally, on Monday the 22nd I'll be in the Fez Reading Series, where this month is A Tribute to Philip Roth. Expect a great deal of sex, anxiety, death, anxiety and masturbation in the face of tremendous evil. My favorite highbrow burlesque artist and friend Julie Atlas Muz will end the evening with something unexpected and surprising. Fez is at 380 Lafayette Street at Great Jones, the show starts at 7:30 and tickets are $10 at the door.

Friday, October 15, 2004

It just gets more ludicrous with each passing day, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Thanks to my incessant questioning of journalist friends, I am now on WIRED. Let this be a lesson to those who ask too many questions!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Monday, October 04, 2004

Here's what I need: a lifetime American Airlines pass. On the other hand, I'd probably be just as happy with the $3 million dollars that it costs.

Hello again. if you are a regular reader of this blog, you've probably been wondering what the heck has been going on. No postings for a week, then two weeks? Is it dying?

Well, yes and no. Throughout the life of this blog it's had ups and downs, and I tryu not to let it hold me back--this blog exists as an outlet for pictures, links and thoughts I'm not using in other mediums, not an end unto itself. As such it often gets neglected--this has been one of those periods.

Further, its been a year since the last site overhaul, so its time to clear out the deadwood in that regard as well. So there will probably be more interruptions and silences, followed by the emergence of a new site...though I'd encourage you not to hold your breath for that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

As if that isn't enough, I'm also performing this evening at WYSIWYG, where the theme is BULLIES AND MEAN GIRLS. Check out all the details here!

From an email I just sent out:

With the advent of autumn the air conditioners are finally coming out
of windows, beloved houseguests who've stayed just a little too long.
To celebrate this brief temperate period you might want to get out of
your apartment and stop by one of the three events I'm performing at
before fall abruptly departs and the ice storms descend.

THIS SUNDAY THE 26TH I'll be telling a story at The Moth--it's a real
honor to be asked to perform where so many talented, eccentric and
gifted storytellers have come before. Mark Katz, author of CLINTON AND
ME, is curating an evening titled OFF WITH THEIR HEADS: Stories About
Politics, and I will be doing my part to prove that the very best in
all politics is the personal. If that doesn't work, I'll be talking
trash about anyone in the crowd who got a Purple Heart--whichever works

Doors open at 6pm, the show starts at 7pm. Crash Mansion is located at
BLVD, 199 Bowery at Spring--all seats are $20. You can make
reservations at 212-868-4444 or by following this URL:

ON TUESDAY THE 28TH I'll be performing at Fez with Judy Blume, an
obscure author of a few mostly-forgotten books on teenage and childhood
antics. Ms. Blume will answer audience questions and read from her
book, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" in hopes that some
publisher will finally recognize its brilliance and get it back in
print. A number of luminaries will be presenting true stories of teen
angst and childhood gone awry, and donations will be accepted to help
the benighted Ms. Blume get a taxi home to Flushing.

Doors open at 7pm, and the show begins at 7:30pm at Fez Under Time
Cafe, 380 Lafayette Street @ Great Jones. Cover is $10, and you can
call 212-533-7000 to reserve tickets in advance.

ON THURSDAY THE 30TH I'll be reading at the Barbes Reading Series. Yes,
reading, not performing: in my copious free time I have been scratching
and clawing out a manuscript, and on the last day of September I will
release a small part of it into the world. A terrible mistake? A
delightful strategem? I invite you to Barbes so you can make the call

The reading starts at 7pm, and you can find Barbes at 376 9th Street in
lovely Brooklyn, just a few steps from the 7th Avenue F subway
stop...and this event is free, free, free.

Next month I perform in Los Angeles and Seattle--more details as they

Be seeing you,


Monday, September 13, 2004

My Brother Brian's Epic Saga Of Spending One Lost Day At A Motivational Seminar--The Kind You See On TV But Never Seriously Thought Anyone You Knew Would Actually Go, But When His Company Paid, Suddenly My Brother Is There!

(As Told In His Own Words.)

Part One: Let’s Get Motivated!

So this seminar that my boss got us tickets to began at 8:00 a.m., and started with scary indoor fireworks, which have always frightened me. Something about indoor explosions repulses me….I don’t know why. It was what I thought it would be, a lot of circular talk. Small paragraphs and monologues about self esteem, and fear of failure, punctuated with a remark on how America is the best country in the world, at which point the audience would clap. Or how much they really respected what all those troops are doing over there and at home. (More clapping) And how we won’t let those pesky terrorists change our way of life. (Lots of clapping) How you won’t get anywhere, let alone fail, if you never try, and if you try as hard as you can, it is the best you can do, and you should be happy with that. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win…” was the watchword of the day. These words are true, but it was like some sort of repeating Full House episode where Stephanie got a bad grade on her report card, and DJ told her she should change her ‘D’ to a ‘B’, and Michelle told Uncle Jessie, and he told Danny, and Danny had a long talk to Stephanie about doing her best, and effort, and responsibility. Danny said that no matter what could ever happen he would always love Stephanie with all his heart and then they hug. (Awwwwww………) Only it lasted for over two hours.

Part Two: Sermon On The Mount

Then everything got weird. It started with some talk about God. Just a mentioning, nothing more, so I dismissed it. Before you know it, it was a full blown christian conversion party, There was all sorts of God talk going around and how if you want to be successful, you need to have faith, and without faith, you would be misguided and frazzled, and basically worthless in a business sense. So all the atheists are basically unemployable crap-faces as far as this seminar is concerned. People are eating this stuff up, and the ruckus is getting louder now and I can’t believe that I am being paid to come to what has become for all practical purposes, a sermon/revival. There was a guy who talked about faith, and told us about some bible passages. He then offered us a prayer cd-rom, and a prayer email. Every two weeks you too can become closer to Jesus via the internet. So just to remind you, these tickets cost money. Like $50.00 U.S Dollars. Not like $50.00, it actually was $50.00. We could have gone to see Cher on her farewell tour, or the Rolling Stones on their 3rd farewell tour. We could have had any number of big headline bands, or maybe a couple of good plays. Or we could have gotten piss drunk. Lastly, we could have just gone to some church for free.

Part Three: The Speakers Speak

So like I said these tickets cost money, and there are several speaker of note. The primary players are:

*George from NBC’s ‘The Apprentice’. George told us to make sure we make lists, losts of note taking is essential to good business. Be prepared, and write everything doen in a spiral notebook. He says this specifically: “Yes, spiral notebooks, no post-its, you will just lose them and they never stick anyway. Only use SPIRAL NOTEBOOKS…” I am not sure if he has some sort of deal with the paper companies to hawk their wares. I can see him accepting a suitcase full of cash while the trench coated paper goon is telling him to talk trash about computers, palms, and ‘other note taking devices which may cause people to lose focus on paper.’ He then proceeded to make fun of Omarosa from season one. (Which is fine with me, I couldn’t stand the woman.) Then he just told us to make sure we watch season 2 of ‘The Apprentice’. He said it over ten times in less than a half hour. Then he collected another suitcase of money and left.

*Matt Hasselbeck, NFL quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks was not even there. He was interviewed from the training field so that doesn’t really count as speaking, it is more like watching T.V. with 6-9,000 other people. He just talked about how the Seahawks are going to: ‘Take it to the top this year…Oh we definitely have a great chance of going all the way…..Oh yeah.’ Oh yes, he said three sentences on how important teamwork is. Then he just talked about how important he is to this team this year, and how they are working on defense, and ball handling. A man then came and gave him a suitcase full of money, and the screen faded.

Lunch was then had by all.

After lunch, we heard Dick Vitalle. He was one of the first sports commentators for ESPN. He was actually really good. He was very passionate. He joked, yelled, paced and was generally very motivating. He spoke about how making the choice to start your own business or follow your dream is easy, it’s the work and sacrifice that is hard. He told a touching story about his daughter while she was in college, and he actually had people’s undivided attention for 30 minutes. He waited until he was off stage to get his suitcase of money.

Then it happened:

All the work, all the time, sweat, money, and indoor fireworks displays that had been poured into captivating and motivating us, the audience, was all laid to waste in 15 minutes by Goldie Hawn. Yes, Goldie Hawn. It sounds strange, yet it is factual. She actually did the most damage with one sentence. Remember we had been there for 5+ hours thus far, listening to people tell us over and over that you must be decisive and hard working to get what you want. Goldie Hawn comes in to great applause and as it dies down she takes a big breath and starts her little spcheal, and then she starts talking about how her career started. That is when she says: ‘I didn’t want to be an actress. I wanted to, and studied dance. I wanted to be a dancer, and I was dancing in a go-go bar and I went to N.Y. and I met this producer guy who told me to go to L.A. and I went to this audition and the guy said he liked my voice and that is how I got Laugh In…..I really just fell into my Career. At first I really really didn’t want to act, but I thought I was making good money…….’ Boom! She dropped a giant fucking nuclear bomb full of anti-motivation radiation. It was a lethal dose for everyone in the building, even in the bathrooms. She then spent the last five minutes talking about how laughter is very important to living a healthy life. No one was really laughing at that point. Enter suitcase, exit Goldie.

Then we had the last memorable speaker: Rudy Gulianni. Except that the M.C. announced him as the Mayor of NYC. He used to be the mayor, but he isn’t now. It’s not like he is or was the president of the United States. So the fireworks start up and ballons are falling and there is confetti shimmering in the lights and everyone is screaming. Suddenly, a man jumps out with a gun and points it at Gulianni. Then, Clint Eastwood moves the mayor out of the way, taking the bullet for his country, and his president. Rudy picks up Clint’s .44 magnum and shoots the would-be assassin in the knee. Unfortunately the guys knee explodes from the impact, and he dies from shock holding the bloody stump, crying for forgiveness. Rudy helps Clint to the ambulance when it is revealed that Clint had a bullet proof vest on. Rudy smiles and then punched Clint in the face for scaring him like that. Then they hugged. (Awwwwww…..)

O.K. so that didn’t really all happen like that. Yes, Rudy Gulianni was really there. No, Clint Eastwood was not. Yes, Rudy Gulianni spoke about leadership, and such. Yes his is quite well spoken. No there was no assassin. Yes, he did get a suitcase full of money.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Popcorn is a good analogy for show business. Every time you make popcorn, there are always those fluffy, white, happy popped pieces that are fun to eat and look at and everybody likes them. But there are also always those burnt, hard kernels at the bottom that don't pop. You know why they don't pop? They don't pop because they have integrity.

Marc Maron

Saturday, September 11, 2004

To a Terrorist

For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem

without hope, knowing there's nothing,
not even revenge, which alleviates
a life like yours. I offer it as one

might offer his father's ashes
to the wind, a gesture
when there's nothing else to do.

Still, I must say to you:
I hate your good reasons.
I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall

in love with death, your own included.
Perhaps you're hating me now,
I who own my own house

and live in a country so muscular,
so smug, it thinks its terror is meant
only to mean well, and to protect.

Christ turned his singular cheek,
one man's holiness another's absurdity.
Like you, the rest of us obey the sting,

the surge. I'm just speaking out loud
to cancel my silence. Consider it an old impulse,
doomed to become mere words.

The first poet probably spoke to thunder
and, for a while, believed
thunder had an ear and a choice.

Stephen Dunn

Friday, September 10, 2004

A Confession

My Lord, I loved strawberry jam
And the dark sweetness of a woman's body.
Also well-chilled vodka, herring in olive oil,
Scents, of cinnamon, of cloves.
So what kind of prophet am I? Why should the spirit
Have visited such a man? Many others
Were justly called, and trustworthy.
Who would have trusted me? For they saw
How I empty glasses, throw myself on food,
And glance greedily at the waitress's neck.
Flawed and aware of it. Desiring greatness,
Able to recognize greatness wherever it is,
And yet not quite, only in part, clairvoyant,
I knew what was left for smaller men like me:
A feast of brief hopes, a rally of the proud,
A tournament of hunchbacks, literature.

Czeslaw Milosz

Riding the Elevator Into the Sky

As the fireman said:
Don't book a room over the fifth floor
in any hotel in New York.
They have ladders that will reach further
but no one will climb them.
As the New York Times said:
The elevator always seeks out
the floor of the fire
and automatically opens
and won't shut.
These are the warnings
that you must forget
if you're climbing out of yourself.
If you're going to smash into the sky.

Many times I've gone past
the fifth floor,
cranking toward,
but only once
have I gone all the way up.
Sixtieth floor: small plants and swans bending
into their grave.
Floor two hundred:
mountains with the patience of a cat,
silence wearing its sneakers.
Floor five hundred:
messages and letters centuries old,
birds to drink,
a kitchen of clouds.
Floor six thousand:
the stars,
skeletons on fire,
their arms singing.
And a key,
a very large key,
that opens something
some useful door
up there.

Anne Sexton

Thursday, September 09, 2004

My friend Amy is in an ad campaign.

I need to wear someone else's leather jacket and get a gig like that.

Also, last night I met they albino python that Brittney Spears danced with.

It was a very pleasant snake.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Sunday, September 05, 2004

So last night we went to Joe's Pub, where we got to see Lil G'n'R--the world's first all-child GUNS N' ROSES tribute band.

They were delightful, and the audience loved them--especially Lil Slash, who could not coordinate her hat, guitar and glasses at the same time, but was determined to ROCK OUT!!!!!!!! on every song, even the slow ones.

Then it was time for the main event: The Fabulous Entourage.

I'm not a big fan of live music, but TFE have a special theatricality, intelligence and, above all, heart. Tons and tons of sincere commitment to doing performances that turn glam rock aesthetics on their ear. It was a great show--I hope that Joe's Pub has them back soon, because it was a great fit for them.

Since this posting actually contains some information about my life, perhaps that means that more regular posting will begin. I can make no promises, but that does seem possible.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Slate analysis of last night's RNC shenanigans: "'What do a bullhorn and a baseball have in common?' Thompson asked, and soon, we were told: The defining moment of the Bush presidency came not only on Sept. 14, as previously thought, when Bush stood at Ground Zero and proclaimed that the terrorists who struck New York and Washington would 'hear from us.' It also came a month later, when Bush marched to the mound of Yankee Stadium and boldly, decisively, resolutely tossed out the first pitch of the World Series. 'What he did that night, that man in the arena, he helped us come back. That's the story of this presidency,' Thompson said, as I wondered how many takes it took Thompson to do this without giggling. You keep pitching, no matter what, Thompson said. You go to the game, no matter what. 'You throw, and you become who you are.' The delegates went nuts. Remember that time Osama chased Bush's slider in the dirt?"
Now the Bush tool Swift Boat Veterans For Truth have another charge to answer: they've committed identity theft:

"'It's kind of like stealing my identity,' said Anderson, who spent a year on a swift boat as an engine man and gunner.

The letter, which was posted on the Swift Boat Veter-ans for Truth Web site, claims the Demo-cratic presidential candidate has 'grossly and knowingly distorted the conduct of the American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen of that (Vietnam) war.'

The letter also criticizes Kerry for trying to change his image from a critic of the war to a war hero.

'After reading the letter,' Anderson said, 'it kind of got under my skin. I had never come across a situation where someone used my name without my support or approval. It's not a very comforting feeling.'

What's worse, he said, he disagrees with the letter.

'Had they asked me to use my name, I wouldn't have allowed them to,' he said."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Get ready: you may be able to use your cell phone on flights as early as 2006. I'd like the freedom, but I'd like WiFi on flights even more.

From the New York Times: "As the Republican National Convention approached its final evening tonight, nearly 1,800 protesters had been arrested on the streets, two-thirds of them on Tuesday night alone. But for all the anger of the demonstrations, they have barely interrupted the convention narrative, and have drawn relatively little national news coverage." Apparently violence works for getting people's attention, and anything else is a wash.
Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight. I'm not always a fan of Mr. Keilor, but I respect his work, which is often a better path. I've returned to New York City, and even in the bright sunlight today there's an astouding pall over teh city, a wan and lifeless ticking. It isn't good.

That was the long silence of a week in central Maine. Transmissions should now resume on a more regular schedule.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


We'll be in our garden on a summer evening,
Eating pasta, drinking white wine.

We won't talk all the time. I'll sit back,
Contemplating shadows on the red-brick path,

And marvel at the way it all turned out.
That yellow begonia. Our gabled house.

Later we'll stroll through Kingsgate Park.
My leg won't hurt, and we'll go home the long way.

Asked to imagine heaven, I see us there,
The way we have been, the way we sometimes are.

Wendy Cope

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I Got Beat Up A Lot in High School

He says. He smiles. He's sweet,
has become a lovely, gentle person.
I probably provoked them a lot,
he says. He's still small and sensitive.
There were lots of pregnancies, he says,
and suicides. They would drive off
a cliff in their cars, he says, just outside
of Blissing, Montana. And one girl,
he says, didn't know that her car
had airbags and she survived the impact
against the boulders on the bottom.
When she finally came back to school,
they said she could never do anything right,
Or they'd shoot themselves.
They all had gun racks on their pickups,
he says. Everyone drank quite a bit.
There was one gay bar, he says, where once
he saw his statistics teacher, soused,
and trolling for sex. But that's the past,
he says, sighing, sanguine and philosophic.
Now, I live in New York City, he says,
surrounded by friends and I can't conceive
of what I must have felt back then.
I'm sorry, I say, for all this pain in your past
and wrap my arms around his beautiful body.
It's not your fault, he says, and smiles,
looking out from inside himself.

Christopher Murray

From someone working on the ground at Chernobyl: "From where I stood I could see a huge beam of projected light flooding up into infinity from the reactor. It was like a laser light, caused by the ionisation of the air. It was light-bluish, and it was very beautiful. I watched it for several seconds. If I'd stood there for just a few minutes I would probably have died on the spot because of gamma rays and neutrons and everything else that was spewing out."

Monday, August 23, 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

So, Real opened this bizarro propaganda site for their weird, DRM-laden iTunesesque store that may or may not play on the iPod in the future. Whether you applaud this or not (most think the site is a great way to piss away support) the weirdest element is that the spokesgroup for their "musical choice" campaign is Devo. Yes, Devo. No, they aren't kidding, and Devo is apparently not dead--they've been waiting patiently for this, the perfect opportunity for their resurgence to begin. Good choice, Rob Glaser.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Oh. My. God.

"This is the reason he wear fucking cloth. Yes, His job is fucking."
Fucking RNC: "With the prospect of large political protests, extra security and skittish residents planning to leave town, many businesses, far from banking on a boom, are simply hoping that the four-day convention, which starts Aug. 30, will not make what is always a tough week worse.

Boston, which played host to the Democratic National Convention last month, set a grim example - its streets were deserted and its delegates spent little. A research institute there said the convention provided a tenth of the economic boost city officials had promised."

Jan. 23 White House press briefing:

REPORTER: But for the sake of clarity, could you please get us a fuller explanation of why Sean O'Keefe plans to end the Hubble program?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: The President wants to make sure that we're focusing our resources on clear missions and on programs that produce meaningful results.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Check out Bruce Sterling's SIGGRAPH 2004 speech "When Blobjects Rule the Earth". Some great fun embedded in here.

I'm performing tonight at Fez at 8pm, in a tribute/celebration of Bukowski.

Milosz died at his home in Krakow surrounded by his family, the assistant, Agnieszka Kosinska, told The Associated Press by telephone. The exact cause of death was not immediately known.

"It's death, simply death. It was his time -- he was 93," Kosinska said.

Living and writing in NYC is a knife that cuts both ways. On one hand it's New York: constant stimulation, cultural collage, bodies on top of bodies, sound and vision all the time. Every night there is some memorable, if not historic, performance (or ten of them) happening within spitting distance of home. This can be very inspiring.

However, the very same factors can create a spoiled, numbing effect. There are too many options; there is too much noise. Overstimulation can lead to paralysis. It's hard to hear the sound of your own voice (both literally and figuratively) above the din.

Craig Wedren

Sunday, August 15, 2004

India's government began distributing free condoms in the 1960s to slow population growth. A recent report says that only 25% of the 1.5 billion condoms manufactured each year in India are "properly utilized". What's interesting are all the cool things the condoms are being used for:

According to two university reports, rural villagers have used them as disposable water containers to wash, after relieving themselves in the fields. India's military have covered gun and tank barrels with condoms as protection against dust.

Of the 891 million condoms meant to be handed out free, a considerable proportion were acquired by road-building contractors who mixed them with concrete and tar and used the mixture to construct roads, rendering road surfaces smooth and resistant to cracks. Builders spread a bed of condoms beneath cement plastering on roofs, ingeniously preventing water seepage during the monsoon rains.

Weavers in Varanasi used around 200,000 condoms a day to lubricate their looms and to polish the gold and silver thread used to embroider the saris they produced. Sari maker Yusuf Bhai said they purchased the condoms from agents, who reportedly acquired them from agencies involved in family planning and AIDS prevention schemes.

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman
she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill

Marin County newspaper's TV listing for "The Wizard of Oz"

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Absolutely ridiculous. We are owned completely, if we're at the Olympics.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sorry for the infrequent posting--many weddings, bridal showers and assorted summer foolishness of the first order. We're coming out of it now, so I'll catch everyone up soon.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

My thanks to everybody who showed up for the SketchFest benefit last night--there was fantastic attendance, and I think we made a lot of money for the Seattle SketchFest. A good time was had--what a great pleasure to see so many familiar faces, and not a few new ones.

From an talk between Norman Mailer and his son, John Buffalo Mailer.

JBM: I don’t know that we can make it through another four years of Bush.

NM: Oh, we’ll make it through, although I’m not saying what we’ll be like at the end. By then, Karl Rove may have his twenty years. Just think of the kind of brainwashing we’ve had for the last four. On TV, Bush rinses hundreds of thousands of American brains with every sentence. He speaks only in clichés. You know, I happened to run into Ralph Nader recently in Chicago, and I, like a great many others, was looking to dissuade him from his present course. He’s a very nice man, maybe the nicest man I’ve met in politics---there’s something very decent about Nader, truly convincing in terms of his own probity. So I didn’t feel, "Oh, he’s doing it for ugly motives." Didn’t have that feeling at all in the course of our conversation. Still, I was trying, as I say, to dissuade him, while recognizing that the odds were poor that I’d be successful. At one point, he said, "You know, they’re both for the corporation, Kerry and Bush." And it’s true; both candidates are for the corporation, and I do agree with Nader that ultimately the corporation is the major evil.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm performing this evening at the Comedy Underground in Seattle, in a benefit for SketchFest. The show is another of the ALL STORIES ARE FICTION series, entitled:

A Rough Guide To Libel, Slander and Horseshit.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


I'm looking to buy a new digital camera in the next few days--it's a long-coming upgrade, and I have a wedding and a buyer for the old camera, so if I can cut through the crap I want to pick up a decent camera.

My needs:

2.2 or more megapixels (preferably over 3)
3x zoom
Uses xD or some other memory card that isn't going extinct.
Uses regular AA or AAA batteries.
Has a USB cable to connect to computer--not a cradle.
Can take short films, preferably in the .mov format.
Intuitive (or at least, non-bizarro) controls
SMALL and LIGHTWEIGHT...our current camera is a tank.
Mac compatible--almost all are, but a few aren't.

Finally, I would (of course) like it to take great pictures. We've been using an Olympus D-510, and aside from the tanklikeness and age it's been a trouper. I'd love one that was 1/2 the weight and 1/2 the size but gave the same great performance--since this one is 4 years old, it seems plausible that I can do that.

Anyone with advice, please email...and if you have no advice, just know that having the excuse of making this list helped me work up what I might be looking for.

My brother on the administration:

"I would take a sock puppet worn by Courtney Love over another GWB term any day."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Testing experts predict that machines eventually will help grade the SAT and the ACT, which will add writing sections in their 2005 college admissions tests, because computers cost less money and work faster than humans. Before technology entered the picture, teams of people graded each GMAT essay. Now one person's judgment is compared with the machine's conclusion.

"It is sort of inevitable," said Jeff Rubenstein, vice president for technology at the test-preparation company Princeton Review, "but it is also sort of regrettable." He said he knows test takers "who are brilliant writers, but they write very subtly," and when a machine is grading them, "they score terribly."

Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's a hokey title, but a wonderful posting: How To Be Creative.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

We're packing up--our time in the Bay Area is at an end. It's been grand, and I'm most grateful to the good folks at Berkeley Rep, who have been marvelous hosts, wonderful artists and talented administrators. We're off for Seattle--more words once we land.

Friday, July 30, 2004

"Bush Derides Kerry as Man of Few Achievements"

In what universe can Bush claim that? This guy did absolutely nothing with his life until he slipped into a governership with family help, and then the fucking presidency. Of all the angles to take--that's some chutzpah, or some ignorance, and I'm not sure which. The whole Bush campaign needs to work on their compassion.
When it costs money to "go legit" as a bulk mailer, the biggest losers won't be people like Scott Richter. They will be nonprofit organizations, activists, and individuals who rely on email lists to talk to their communities.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Neil Labute does his level best to make up for so often being a twit by writing a pretty solid list of reasons why theatre can trump film as a artistic process. On the other hand, that's not the hard part--the hard part is making theatre that can be as culturally relevant and alive as it nees to be to drag us into the modern era. I have no doubt that theatre is fun to make, Neil--but what seperates theatre from being a curio and makes it vital?
BERKELEY: This Thursday, July 29th I'll be performing WASTING YOUR BREATH at the Berkeley Rep at 7:30pm. Tickets are just five little dollars, and we promise the best show to cost ratio in town--this will be my last performance in the Bay Area this year, so come on down and check it out.

Tickets are available at 510.647.2949, and full details are posted at

SEATTLE: On August 4th I'll be performing for one night in Seattle, doing a benefit for SketchFest Seattle. I'm doing a new monologue from the ALL STORIES ARE FICTION series, tentatively entitled:

YOU CAN'T SAY THAT: A Rough Guide To Libel, Slander and Horseshit.

Tickets are just $10, there will be a silent auction, raffles, great prizes and more. It all happens at 8pm at The Comedy Underground, 22 South Main Street in Pioneer Square, and tickets can be bought at the door.

NEW YORK CITY: On August 16th I'll be performing in A TRIBUTE TO CHARLES BUKOWSKI at Fez on the occasion of Mr. Bukowski's birthday. Joining me will be Jonathan Ames, One Ring Zero, Amy Sohn, Miss Bunny Love, Vincent Gallo and a cast of thousands. Expect stories of sodomy, pederasty, deviant behavior and unexpected moments of human contact, all done while the participants drink a liter of vodka apiece. Hooray! Bukowski!

The show is at 8pm at Fez, Lafayette and 3rd Street, at 8pm. Cover is $10, and reservations can be made at 212.533.7000.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

NYC--where you can ride the subway to surfing at the Rockaways.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Take me to your sleeping porch!
Cross-breeze. Swiss dot. View.
We'll try for some rude
healthful pure,
do what young people do.

Or, I'll point out scenery,
the more expensive property.
A slurry beach.
An empty breach.
Thick, eggish water breaking
on the boring, boring shore.

Is everything defective here?
There are men downstairs who think
that gin's a breakfast drink.

I mean to say: It's May.
Let's find an outdoor shower.

Dana Goodyear
This guide to making your iPod replace all the remotes in your house is not only hella cool, but it seems actually useful and constructive...this is one I may actually have to try myself.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." -- Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Friday, July 23, 2004

Geov Parrish writes about the hows and whys of insurance, and how even if you do your homework, the house always wins. I know Geov--he's a good guy, and I hope his benefit raises a lot of money to help lift him out of total penury.
I need an Airport Express for when I'm in Seattle after the 31st--anyone know where they're available in the Bay Area or in Seattle? I'm trying to lock something definitive down so that I don't need wires on the next leg of our odyssey.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


A robot must risk his neck for his brother man, and may not cop out when there’s danger all about.

A robot must be a sex machine to all the chicks, except where such actions conflict with the will of his main woman.

A robot must at all times strive to be one bad motha-shutchyomouth.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Weird piece about Ian Spiegelman and his firing from the NYP. Very reflective, and a tad unnerving--just how much does this guy drink in an afternoon?

The iTunes Music Store has the entire 9/11 commission reports available for free download.

(Yeah, it's long--but I can already forsee some kickass Garage Band remixes.)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Soda Crackers

You soda crackers! I remember
when I arrived here in the rain,
whipped out and alone.
How we shared the aloneness
and quiet of this house.
And the doubt that held me
from fingers to toes
as I took you out
of your cellophane wrapping
and ate you, meditatively,
at the kitchen table
that first night with cheese,
and mushroom soup. Now,
a month later to the day,
an important part of us
is still here. I'm fine.
And you--I'm proud of you, too.
You're even getting remarked
on in print! Every soda cracker
should be so lucky.
We've done all right for
ourselves. Listen to me.
I never thought
I could go on like this
about soda crackers.
But I tell you
the clear sunshiny
days are here, at last.

Raymond Carver
Details on the new iPod posted early by Newsweek. My 3G 20 gig is handling my needs really well, though I do lust for the new controls and the 12 hour battery life. I think I may have to wait.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I was on West Coast Live this morning with Carl Hiaasen and Jack Germond, which was a delightful experience--it's a very fun show, done with a live audience for NPR, and feels like a garage band version of Garrison Keilor with better rapport and less dead weight sketches. "Think Bill Moyers meets David Letterman" claims a reviewer, and I think that's not too far from the mark.

I still haven't said much about Cape Cod--I hate it when I get behind about something important, the moment passes and it's hard to make up for it later. The upshot is that it was incredibly challenging and intense--Cape Cod is a beautiful, gorgeous place, especially where we were in Falmouth right next to Martha's Vinyard. But we didn't really see much of the beauty of the place, or we did on our way frantically to and from rehearsals, because the CCTP is designed for readings, and my shows can't be done that way as there's nothing to read. As a consequence we had to make a whole show ready in 4 days, and then refine it through 3 performances--a week later I am still catching my breath from the experience. I will say that I don't think JM and I have ever learned quite so much in a single week--it was a tremendously illuminating trip, and the audiences there are absolutely lovely, intelligent and refreshingly clear-headed.

Just ran across this lovely piece on Transom by my friend, Mr. Hodgman. It escaped my notice whenever it was posted in the past, and I thought that since I had finally rediscovered it, I would see if others missed it as well.

Also, if you do an image search in Google for "taco hilton", you get this picture:

Caption: "I wanted to go to Del Taco."
Monologist's Lament

How did he go over? No one laughed

when he was wittiest, or loved him when

he was a saint. No reason not, on that account, to look

for funninesses and

forgivabilities in things. The mini-series

miseries, the comedies of men

the loves harpooned, the songs unsung,

the anima in animus, the child

that, in his wisdom, Rover bit.

A world's a work. The winding

winded kind of wit

a hill wept into shape, with ha-has

stitching down the sides, tricked out in ribs

and sob-stabs. How does anyone

get over it?

Heather McHugh

Friday, July 16, 2004

My boys TMBG give a great interview, and John Flansburgh really kicks ass in this Newsweek piece. On digital music:

John: I wouldn�t be surprised if paying for recorded music becomes an obsolete idea in general.

Newsweek: How would you eat, then?

John: That�s my problem. Being a musician is an unreasonable idea anyway.

Great stuff.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Dog Sitters

(for Stanley and Jane)

Old friends, we tried so hard
to take care of your dogs.
We petted them, talked to them, even slept with them,
and followed all your instructions
about feeding and care--
but they were inconsolable.
The longer you were gone
the more they pined for you.
We were poor substitutes,
almost worse than nothing.

Until you returned, days of worry
as each fell ill with fever, diarrhoea and despair,
moving about all night restlessly on the bed we shared.
We wakened at dawn to walk them,
but there was a mess already on the rug.
We called the vet, coaxed them to eat,
tried to distract them
from the terrible sadness in their eyes
every time they lay down with their chins in their paws
in utter hopelessness, and the puppy
got manic, biting our hands.

Ten days in the house by the bay
trying to keep them alive, it was a nightmare,
for they were afraid to go anywhere with us, for fear
you would never come back,
that they must be there waiting when you did,
until you did ... if you did... .

Then, the minute you got home
they turned away from us to you
and barely looked at us again, even when we left--
for you had filled the terrible empty
space that only you could fill,
and our desperate attempts
were dismissed without a thought.

We tried to tell each other it was a victory
keeping them alive, but the truth is
that when someone belongs so utterly to someone else,
stay out of it--that kind of love is a steamroller
and if you get in the way, even to help,
you can only get flattened.

Edward Field

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Great list from Patton Oswalt.

My friend Lindsay:

My weekend was fun. The funnest part was last night, when I set out to have a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg with my friend Stephanie, and somehow we found ourselves, at 11 o'clock, sitting on a rock in the East River, soaked from head to toe, swilling red wine from the bottle, taking turns cuddling an orphaned baby duck and singing along as a 21 year old long-haired Equadoran named Eddie played "Livin' On a Prayer" on his guitar. I had been worrying that my days of turning ordinary nights into crazy memorable ones were over. Obviously not.

I miss New York.
I'm afraid this guy strikes me as kind of sad. He's visiting all the Starbucks in the world, but from what I can tell from the article and his site, where he expounds in minute detail on topics like what his name is that's the beginning and end of it.

I'm fascinated by the monoculture, and I am very interested in corporations and corporate rule, but from what I can tell Winter is just simply fixated on Starbucks, which makes his quest pointless, or at least opaque.

(You may be wondering: When will news about Cape Cod be posted? What's the holdup? Patience.)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I. Am. So. Exhausted.

Being both the playwright and the performer is harder than I thought when it is only a weeklong experience--the intensity is upped, and I keep having to switch back and forth, and the time constraints are so tight that I'm often having to make huge decisions instantly, do a ton of outlining/creating and then jump into the rehearsal so I can hash it all out.

At the same time, it's very exciting--by the time the weekend is over, this monologue will have more than doubled its total performances, and I am hoping that it will be in serious shape for a full theatrical run. So the stakes are high, but so are the rewards.

I would regale you with the story of the MEGA LOBSTER FEED from yesterday, where I ate so much lobster that I spent the night dreaming I scuttled across sea floors, but there isn't actually time--I need to dive back into it for the home stretch.

Digerati pl., n.
People who are knowledgeable about digital technologies such as computer programming and design: "the chasm between the high claims of the digerati and the misadventures of the novice Net user” (Publisher’s Weekly)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

More crack reporting from my favorite paper, The New York Post:

I love these guys, I really do. I often think when I'm feeling low, like when the pressure of assembling a monologue in short order gets to me, that if it all becomes too much I can become a fact checker for the POST. The thought keeps me warm at night.

Tonight is 2 for 1 lobster at Schuckers. I've never needed 2 lobsters, but hey--think of the savings!

Monday, July 05, 2004

We're in Cape Cod, at the Cape Cod Theatre Project, and I have to say that all the hype about the Cape has been profoundly correct--such incredible beauty from the rugged coastline, the delightful shops, the preternaturally perfect horticulture--we're a stone's throw from Martha's Vinyard here in Woods Hole, and it's easy to see how this has become a nation's dream of its idyllic self. At the same, it's all about the money--this area could only have become as exalted as it is because of the massive wealth that has accreted here, which distorts my ability to see how nice it is. Is this really be the best place to "summer" because it had the best weather, or did the first rich people coming here make it that way by way of reputation and real estate?

I can not tell. But I do know it is not an illusion--this is a glorious place, and the whole idea of the CCTP is a noble one. They give shows that haven't had full productions rehearsed readings, and run it as a workshop--all week JM and I are working intimately with the staff, revising and reworking the outlines for THE UGLY AMERICAN, and on Thursday we put the show up, with full sound, music and lights, for over 150 folks. That night we do a feedback session with the audience, and then the next day there's a rewrite/rehearsal call where JM and I will discuss how things went, implement changes in the outline and rework things for each performance. In the end it will be seen by over 600 people, and many productions coming out of here end up at regional theaters around the country.

And so far the CCTP is as good as the press it's received--professional folks who know how to have fun, and the beautiful house we're staying in here is just minutes from a private beach, which I haven't yet tried but I'm really looking forward to. I'm thrilled with the work that has been done even so far--the dramaturgy, led by Johanna Gruenhut, has been marvelous. Dramaturgy is funny--many times, I have no use for it, but when people come to the table with sharp ideas and clear minds it can create wonderful things. Or at least, I hope it will in this case.

Tonight we're going out to dinner at one of the restaurants here, and then the rest of the evening will be spent going over the material and getting ready for tomorrow. It's shaping up to be an intense week.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Last night's show was a success, though due to an ushering mistake no one was seated on house left. This made house right and center very full (which was fun) but it screwed up the balance and I had to reblock whole sections of the show as we went (not as much fun). The ushers here are an interesting lot--we have the best house manager we've ever had for a run, a fellow by the name of Shaun. He's very sharp, understands how important "dressing the house" is, a term which refers to the placing of audience members for maximum comedic effect. It's an art form, and Shaun is good at it.

The ushers though--they're very strange. Berkeley Rep has a pool of ushers, volunteers who get to see the show for free in return for doing the simple task of showing people to their seats. This is hardly unusual--every theater I have ever worked at that has a subscription base has volunteer ushers.

The weird part is their numbers and their behavior. Every night we have at least 10 ushers, and sometimes as many as 15. Fifteen! Shaun has to herd them like cats, and its a real strain to get them to listen as he tells them how things work.

I'm told there is a waiting list two years long to become a new usher, so perhaps that is part of the reason for their uppitiness--many (not all, but many) of the ushers have spectacularly bad attitudes. They roll their eyes, they go places they aren't supposed to go, they mouth off to technicians--it's really weird. Last night's imbalance problem happened because a crazy usher misinterpreted his directions and simply forbid anyone to sit on house left...and while it is not always that bad, there is always something happening with the ushers. It's very weird.

Met Heather Gold last night, a solo performer. She's doing her show,

"I Look Like An Egg, But Identify As A Cookie", a meditation on sex, relationships and baking in which she makes cookies which are shared with the audience. I haven't seen her work yet, but she's a charming person and I love the idea of a show not in a traditional theater space that aims to bring people together around cookies--if you're interested, check out all the details at her site,

Today's the last day in Berkeley for a week--we leave at an obnoxiously early hour, so the whole day is engulfed in preparations, cleaning, packing and madness. If we stay ahead of the curve and get it all done in time we are hoping to go to The Marsh this evening, San Francisco's central home for solo performance, and see Not A Genuine Black Man, a solo show that has been receiving some great notices. Right now I think our odds of getting there are about 50/50, but I am hopeful--I'm always excited to see other solo performers at work, so I bet we'll do whatever we can to make it happen.

This is probably my last extended entry before I am on the ground in Cape Cod. I've linked it before, but here is the site, and here are directions to the theater--please come on out if you get the chance, as I suspect it will be an excellent time.

I believe I will have webmail and blogger access while in Cape Cod, but I expect we will be seriously busy straight through, so expect intermittent updates until we return...and I hope your 4th of July is better than mine, as I will be flying United for twelve hours of it.

The effervescent John Tynes emailed me a link to a fantastic dot-com era recollection: a dissection of what went wrong with Money, Microsoft's Quicken-killer:

This blog entry is by a guy who was on the development team of Microsoft
Money for a couple years during the dot-com boom. It's a horrifying tale,
including the revelation that because Money fell under the MSN organization,
its success was judged on *web metrics*, such as length of time the user
spent in the application. They were actually told to make users SPEND MORE
TIME balancing their checkbook, because the Money app included MSN-funneled
banner ads.

The blog entry in question is here.

Tynes also talks about Spider-Man 2 in his blog today, and I agree with his comments--it's a wonderful film that actually starts moving the genre toward something like maturity and real emotional stakes. I also though Doc Ock's origin story was ridiculous, but I challenge anyone--how do you make it NOT crazy? If you want a compassionate guy who is turned murderous (which the story cries out for) then he has to be subverted somehow--and I have to say that I appreciated how damn cool the fusion sun looked.

Okay, okay--why do you need 4 mechanical arms to control a fusion reaction? Search me. But I loved the way the arms turned against him, and spoke to him...that scene where he loses control was so much better than all the scenes of the Green Goblin losing his shit in mirrors from the first film. So for me, I was willing to suspend some disbelief.

Friday, July 02, 2004

A wonderful eulogy from David for Marlon Brando:

Great actors are larger than you and me, and Marlon Brando was larger than other great actors. He was the largest of them all, and I'm not talking about the massive weight gain in the last third of his life or even his restless (to put it euphemistically) intellect and multiple pathologies—oral, sexual, and maybe a few we don't know about. I mean that he registered more vividly than anyone else: His acting was both broad—outsized—and finely detailed. No other actor was so hugely "in the moment," and none had a presence so searching.

Read the rest of it here at Slate.

Isn't that a marvelously clean and simple design that speaks volumes? And not volumes of chattery, overblown rhetoric--it simply states that X does not equal Y. I love that sort of clean symbology.

Today would be the last day of the run if we hadn't extended, and it is the last performance before we head to Cape Cod. We've been a mess--the dog needs folks to care for him in our absence (check) we need to unearth notes, recorders, supplies (check) medicines (check)--you'd think we were preparing for a land war in Asia and not a week on Cape Cod.

It's funny--I feel better doing 21 DOG YEARS now than I ever have. I think I know why--it's because this is the first run when I have other shows alive and kicking, other projects on my plate. It makes me feel vital, and thereby keeps the work vital...that's painfully apparent here, where WASTING YOUR BREATH is undergoing workshops and I'm flying on Sunday to do THE UGLY AMERICAN for a week. Hell, folks in Cape Cod won't even know I'm the "Amazon guy"--and that's a freeing feeling, I have to say, to start using your reputation instead of living underneath its thumb.

By the way, I now have a policy of never being wrong. Heh.