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.

Larry Kramer on the sudden closing of THE NORMAL HEART:

"I'll tell you one thing: I will never write another play again," Mr. Kramer said yesterday. "I mean, when are we all going to realize that people don't want to go to the theater anymore?"

I don't like this play at all--I find it didactic and dated--but I found his statements right on the money here.

Mr. Kramer said that he did not fault producers for the closing, but did worry about what it meant when a well-reviewed show, with money behind it and Broadway dreams, could not find an audience.

"It speaks very ill of us, meaning all the people today involved in culture and entertainment, that we can produce this stuff and in no way market it to the world," he said.

Kramer is right--it is trouble, and it's getting bigger all the time. The future of American theater is a dark and fractured one, and if we don't get up and face the fact that the world doesn't need theater and find a true way to make ourselves relevant, this is going to be happening more and more often.

Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they've always talked about
still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They're strong as rocks.

Frank O'Hara

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Larry Kramer on the sudden closing of THE NORMAL HEART:

"I'll tell you one thing: I will never write another play again," Mr. Kramer said yesterday. "I mean, when are we all going to realize that people don't want to go to the theater anymore?"

I don't like this play at all--I find it didactic and dated--but I found his statements right on the money here.

Mr. Kramer said that he did not fault producers for the closing, but did worry about what it meant when a well-reviewed show, with money behind it and Broadway dreams, could not find an audience.

"It speaks very ill of us, meaning all the people today involved in culture and entertainment, that we can produce this stuff and in no way market it to the world," he said.

Kramer is right--it is trouble, and it's getting bigger all the time. The future of American theater is a dark and fractured one, and if we don't get up and face the fact that the world doesn't need theater and find a true way to make ourselves relevant, this is going to be happening more and more often.

Our tax dollars at work, training truckers to defend America's highways.

After the session in Little Rock, two newly initiated Highway Watch members sat down for the catered barbecue lunch. The truckers, who haul hazardous material across 48 states, explained how easy it is to spot "Islamics" on the road: just look for their turbans. Quite a few of them are truck drivers, says William Westfall of Van Buren, Ark. "I'll be honest. They know they're not welcome at truck stops. There's still a lot of animosity toward Islamics." Eddie Dean of Fort Smith, Ark., also has little doubt about his ability to identify Muslims: "You can tell where they're from. You can hear their accents. They're not real clean people."

That kind of prejudice is hard to undo, but it's a shame Beatty's slide show did not mention that in the U.S., it's almost always Sikhs who wear turbans, not Muslims. Last year a Sikh truck driver who was wearing a turban was shot twice while standing near his tractor trailer in Phoenix, Ariz. He survived the attack, which police are investigating as a hate crime.

From Time's article on Highway Watch.

My friend Glenn posts about free WiFi in the independent coffeeshops of Seattle, and points to a fantastic article on the subject in the Post Intelligencer. It's totally comprehensive--if you work on a laptop in a cafe, give it a read.

I'm proof of the phenomenon, actually--I was a very early WiFi adopter, using WiFi (before it was called WiFi) at Starbucks, back when that service was hosted by Mobilestar. Mobilestar died and is now T-Mobile, which I keep a monthly account with, because I was grandfathered in at a low monthly rate.

But I actually have only logged in with T-Mobile once in the last three months, even though I'm traveling--I'm using a free WiFi connection at Berkeley Espresso, because it has a cooler vibe, I'm sick of Starbucks and my wife and I can both be online at the same's just better in all ways, even with the fact that since the pay service is subscribed to, I could just use that.

In the article the pay providers point to reliability as a selling point of paid networks, but in my experience it's mainly a hobgoblin--WiFi is so easy to configure and distribute that I have never actually had a problem with a home-grown facility, while on the other hand I've had many problems over the years with T-mobile/Mobilestar. It's simple, really--if Joe Coffeehouse's WiFi goes out, the folks complain that day and Joe fixes the router or calls the internet provider. If a T-mobile location goes wonky, *maybe* someone calls T-mobile, and T-mobile sends someone to look at the node at some point, in the get the idea.

Long story short--I am keeping my T-mobile account for now, but after this latest trip I'm thinking about killing the account when I get home and paying as I go, given how infrequently I actually need it. Good news for me, and good news for WiFi--and bad news for the pay providers.