Thursday, May 31, 2007

Second Post of Day: Sound and Air

Today two things have been bugging me at work: environmental sound, and heat. The first, first: my co-workers' chitchat always makes it sound like a henhouse around here, but today it all seemed louder, punchier. It was almost as if they'd gone from chatting to hollering. Then I noticed I was sweating, but figured it was just because I was drinking hot tea. Then we got the official word that the air conditioning in our big fancy modern office complex is busted.

This got me thinking about an essay I read once (who knows where) about how we use air conditioning not only to cool ourselves, but to define our territory. Air-conditioned space isn't just space; it's property. Air conditioning dampens sound. It carves out a place which is distinct from open air.

My apartment's air conditioner has been busted for years. I use a fan and usually feel fine. Perhaps having a less comprehensive method of cooling my air has made me feel more in touch with life outside my solipsistic self.

Flick update

Just a quick post to mention two films I started last night:

The Holy Mountain, written and directed by Alexandro Jodorowski. In two words: Peyote Fellini.

I watched the first half-hour of it last night. I saw it about a decade ago, and somehow my callower self didn't grasp just how Mexican it is; the first twenty minutes, excluding an odd haircut, is a spoof of modern Mexico; as a young'un I just thought it was ungrounded surrealism. I missed the social commentary completely.

The first 15 minutes of The Sacrifice by Tarkovsky. A gentle philosophical discussion, in one long shot (once you get past the credits). Much as I dig Holy Mountain's non-stop groovy eye candy, I think I'm gonna like this one a little better. Long, slow, boring talkathons seem to zing my string lately. Fools give you reasons; wise men never try.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Life and alternatives

Anybody notice the new link? Quiet Bubble looks like the kind of thoughtful commentary on life-avoiding stuff like books, comics and movies that I love a little too much. I've scanned the blog enough to know I don't always agree with him, but he's got a lucid point of view which I appreciate.

Hey, I would go out and get some fresh air, but there isn't any. Those wildfires in Florida and Georgia have smogged us up something fierce. I remember when my friend Scott was playing some computer game where you wander around a fantasy world. Midway through the game he installed a new graphics card, and I was intrigued by all the eye-candy background details that suddenly popped up. Right now Birmingham looks like we've switched to an older, cheaper graphics card. All the background details have vanished.

Say, speaking of computer fantasy games, here's how I broke that nasty habit: I started playing a game called Longest Journey or something. It's one of those games where you have a character onscreen, and when you point and click on some feature of the landscape your character describes it. So at the start of the game she was in her fantasy dreamworld where most of the story takes place, the premise being that she has vivid dreams which turn out to be true. I clicked on a mountain range, and she said "Real life never looked so beautiful." I peered at this three-inch Thomas Kincaide-looking mountain range, peeked out the window onto a beautiful sunny day, decided that real life looked way more beautiful, and went outside. Goodbye, computer games.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Birmingham Doin's

I stopped by Reed Books at its new location across from Safari Cup Coffee over the weekend. You'd better RUN down there, because they had a bargain shelf out front; all hardbacks $2. On the shelf was a copy of A Day in the Life of America, in better condition than my copy. $2. I paid a zillion dollars for my copy, and I don't regret a penny. This book is a beautiful record of early Eighties America. It always cheers me up (although the book doesn't shy away from the dark side of America). Even if you get there too late for this glorious book, though, it's still worth a trip.

Thanks to Jonathan Goldstein for inviting me to his party! Sadly he held it in Mountain Brook, a neighbourhood which was designed to keep the riffraff out by confusing them into terminal lostness. By the time I found the joint everybody was leaving. I grew up in a neighbourhood like that, so I remember the heady feeling of security one gets from knowing that no one can ever find you through all the twisty labyrinthine streets and the scary trees with faces on them, but now I live in a grid layout city and I appreciate the clarity.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Spread the word

Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo and Holy Mountain are available on non-bootleg Region 1! The USA has waited and waited for this. I saw a boot of Holy Mountain years ago and was astonished at the funky eye candy. Was it good? I dunno, but I'll find out, because I've just made it #1 in my Netflix queue.

Second Post of the Day

I lost my Fuddy Meers script last week. I ordered a new one at a bookstore and am picking it up (the book, not the store) today. The script I was given was in the kind of format theatres tend to use; softback, conveniently small, lightweight and flexible so actors can meander around the stage with a script clutched in one hand, bent back to keep lines in view. I'm hoping the new copy I'm getting won't be in that hardbound bookshelf edition publishers often use when they think they're selling to readers rather than users.

Star Lord Vs. God

Today I got nothing, so I'll cross-post something I wrote on a nerdy message board.

When I was in junior high I bought some old Marvel black and white SF magazine. I think it was titled Star Lord or something equally dopey; it included a Harlan Ellison rant about the evils of calling science fiction "sci-fi." Anyway, it had a few panels of a topless woman. I'd never owned such hot stuff! Then I went to a church camp; I don't remember what they actually told us that inspired this action, but I came back from camp, picked up the magazine, put it in my wastebasket, and intoned, "In the name of Jesus, I command you to BURN."

I honestly thought it would work. I'd planned this midway through the weeklong camp; I was so upset about my sin (owning and enjoying a mildly smutty comic) and so pumped up about God's power to work in our lives that I honestly believed God would make this comic burst into flames, proving His power over evil.

But whaddayaknow, folks; Star Lord wouldn't burn, so I just threw it out. I learned that God's miracles aren't available on demand.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Japanese Art Collection

I've taken down my old anime wallscrolls; they're part of who I was, not who I am. Decontextualized from their narrative, they're indistinguishable from Keane kids. In fact, my Mom once saw me in a T shirt with a picture of Lain from the arty anime Serial Experiments Lain, and she said "That looks like one of your Aunt Carol's paintings." And she was right; as sophisticated as the show Lain was (or seemed to be at the time) the imagery is pretty Keane. God bless Aunt Carol. She loves those paintings. Nowadays they'd call her a Superflat patron.

As for my anime wallscrolls, some of them have sexual undertones that I thought were zingy once, but which now strike me as sad. Yes, it's all very Freudian, suggestively kinky, weirdly fetishistic. None of that's necessarily bad in my book, but I don't want that kind of lewd imagery on my walls. I want it hidden in my sock drawer, the way it's meant to be.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Magic of the Stage

A few years back I played Billy in a production of Edward Albee's The Goat at Birmingham Festival Theatre. Billy is a 17 year old boy. I was a thirty year old boy. Director Jamie has always been fond of casting risks, but this one left me befuddled. Why would anyone cast me as a teenage boy? But they put me in a crazy dyed-red wig, and I felt better about it. Liv, the stage manager (college student) and Jamie's wife battled over my costume, and Liv mostly lost. I wound up dressed more dirty hippie than contemporary club kid, but what the heck. I imitated the vocal mannerisms of some teenage girls I knew, since I didn't know any gay teenage boys.

And one night after a show, a couple of high school girls were waiting in the lobby for me. Thus I was informed, so I walked out there, sans wig, sans costume, sans makeup, sans everything. They looked right past me; didn't even see me. "Did Billy leave? He better not have!" Finally Laura K, the House Manager at the time, pointed right at me and told them "see that guy? That's him."

These girls did not have poker faces. They shared a look of shock with one another. It was a delightful validation of my performance; for the course of the show they had believed I was a lot younger and cuter than the balding, pudgy thirtysomething with whom they were being confronted.

They came back to the show and gave me a rainbow bracelet which they thought would help authenticate my character. I met one of the kids last weekend, and she's going to UAB soon. Maybe I'll get to see her do a show.

BTW I went to the next show at BFT; Jar The Floor. One character is a middle-aged woman who wears a wig and tried to act younger than she is, to her daughter's annoyance. I thought the woman playing the part was much too young for it; she was obviously a college-age kid. Later I saw the actress with the wig off, and she was indeed middle-aged. Wigs are powerful juju.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Huffing Greasepaint Fumes

Over the weekend, I got a bunch of hugs and kind words from folks I know. This is what happens at (and especially after) plays when one's social life revolves around community theatre. Then the work week started, and I find I'm all antsy because the validation felt so good, and now it's over until next time. Next time may be this weekend, though, since I've got more plays to see. In fact there'll be something to see, theatre-wise, for at least the next few weeks. And when Fuddy Meers opens in July I'll be onstage for the first time this year, excepting the cabaret. Some people do theatre for the applause; I do it for the hugs.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through L'Avventura, and it's safe to say Antonioni couldn't have made films more perfectly attuned to my mindset if he'd had a biopsy of my brain for reference. I'll have more to say when I'm finished, of course. I'm watching it in parts because by the time I settle in to watch a movie, it's bedtime. I realized that I could watch a movie in doses when I finally tackled Gone With The Wind. It works just fine as a miniseries, and I watched it over a week. I'd be sick if I watched it all in one day. Ever since, I tend to watch movies in chunks over a few days. Gives me room to manuveur, instead of having to set aside big chunks of time for movies. Besides, most movies wake you up every five minutes, but with L'Avventura you're on your own for staying awake. Not that it's boring, but it won't jar you awake.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Second of Day

BTW my buddy Tom was in Henry V; he has undergone the whole cleaning-a-slovenly-home thing that I'm working on (and I'm making progress; fresh furniture, new mattress coming next week, etc.) but now he may be moving out of B'ham to chase work. Here's hoping he finds some; I'd love to keep him here in town, but he's been doing the bohemian thing for so long that he might need to wander a bit to find bread. Him and my brother both.

Also my friend (and former wife and mother, onstage, that is) Melissa and her husband were there; she's gotten boisterously pregnant since I saw her last. Lots of pregnancy going around to balance the job stuggles.

Two Plays: One Contemporary, One Shakespeare

Over the weekend I saw The Pillow Man at Virginia Samford and Henry the 8th at Sloss Furnace.

Pillow Man is a slyly morbid tale about a writer whose work may have inspired horrible crimes, so draconian cops torture him for info. It's a crafty tale that questions artistic culpability and the efficacy of torture. Pretty timely, eh? The production was in a tiny cabaret space, which gave it an intense intimacy. The cast did some really nice things with it; I'm nervous about talking in specifics since I have chums in the cast, but the two leads were really, really on. J. J. who played the writer, and the guy who played his sweet but dangerous child-man brother, were a joy to watch. A few particularly unsettling sequences were done on film rather than live, and I'm kinda iffy about that. I suspect it would have been more effective to do it live as written, but a lot of the audience found it too intense anyway, so doing some of the most horrific sequences live might have had folks fleeing.

As for Henry V, I've never seen or read it (although I'm familiar with the St. Crispin's Day scene, one of the most famous money scenes in Shakespeare) so following the densely packed logic of the political arguments was a bit like reading sophisticated political commentary; I couldn't follow the arguments, but the broad outlines of who's using those arguments to justify what against whom were pretty clear. Sloss is a great outdoor amphitheatre for big loud bands (BTW local band Sunny So Bright was playing, and I really grooved on what I heard (just the last song)) but the acoustics make it rough for actors, even when they project and enunciate really well. There was some inventive staging and sharp characterization (My buddy the Solar Monarch was a standout in the coveted Shakespearean role of guy Who's Force-Fed Onions Near The End, and I'm not saying that because he's my buddy), but the production is working against the basic fact that Sloss Furnace itself doesn't seem to want people to make out the dialogue. It was an exercise in determined listening and watching. I'm glad I went, but I dunno how many people will want to go back for more red-hot Not Being Able To Understand What People Are Saying action. I'll audition for the next production if I get the chance, though. I'd like to grapple with the Bard.

I met a lot of people I know and love at both shows, and it's intriguing that my social life circles around theatre to such an extent. I even got to catch up with folks I haven't seen in years, but who orbited around for Henry V. There's one guy I hadn't seen in years, who always amuses me by getting as much huggy-kissy action with women as he can under the guise of friendly hugging. Someone should write a play about him and let him star in it. (No, it's not me.) I also ran into a recent high-school grad who saw me in The Goat, and around whom hangs a tale which I may tell sometime soon. Anyway, I suspect I pulled in a few more audience members for Fuddy Meers; I hope our show's a hit!

Friday, May 18, 2007

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

Today I got nothin'. Must work. I'll see a play or three this weekend. Maybe I'll tell you about them Monday. Take care!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Second Post of the day: Oh Yeah And

More in the spirit of daydreaming than anything else, a couple of What Ifs about that prank school shooting:

What if one of the kids had a concealed handgun? One of the teachers pretended to be a gunman trying to get into the building; if an armed kid had seen that mysterious malice thru the window and put a cap in the alleged gunman... wouldn't that have been educational?

And what if some shooter-to-be read about the story and decided the kids had been promised a shooter and been cheated? Then showed up at their school, fully armed, to fulfill that promise? Picture the kids' response to the teachers-who-cried-wolf in that scenario.

"This is not a drill!"

"Heard it, teach."

Cold Heat, Mean Teachers

Cold Heat issue 1, the comic book that Diamond (the monopoly distributor for comics shops) almost refused to carry for excessivly unprofitable artiness, finally arrived at my shop, and it's better than other comic books. It's not even opressively artsy; it's more funky than highfalutin'. Go to a comic shop, stare at the comics, toss them to the floor and howl at the shopkeeper "You mock me with these pathetic comics! I demand COLD HEAT! Hey... hey, where are you taking me? Wait, I'm not finished! Let me go, Officer, I'm just requesting a comic!"

So today I find out the series is ending as a regular comic and the rest of the story will be released as a book. Maybe the fact that Diamond shipped it to my store three months or so after I requested it has something to do with this. I'll buy the book, durn tootin'. The first issue is LUMINOUS.

* * *

It's a long way from being the most important news story in these troubled times, but the bogus school shooting story (you know the one: camping trip in middle Tennessee, teachers prank the kids into thinking there's a shooter breaking into the camp, kids cry, teacher and Vice Principal suspended) has been on my mind lately. When did you first realize that teachers were fallible? For me it was probably when a librarian was instructing us on the topic of "opinions." As an example, she said "If I said..." and she thought a moment; "Green is blue, that would be my opinion. An opinion is something someone believes that isn't always true." I was probably in fourth grade, but I knew she was wrong. She may not have been a full-on Teacher, but still, I realized then that Educators can be full of it.

It's probable that being cast into ungrounded fear for their lives by their educators will cause most of these kids to fall somewhere between the two extremes of "Deeply scarred for life" and "completely unaffected". Sure, some of the kids bounced back and laughed it off, but these kinds of events plant seeds in young minds, and sometimes those seeds take years to sprout and bear fruit. Other times the seeds never sprout, of course, but I bet some of these kids will have a sharply different attitude towards authority figures now. After you've been wrongfooted by a teacher it's hard to go back to an earlier innocent trust. After all, a prank always has an element of aggression, of hostility, and of the power grab. A teacher who needs to make a power grab is an insecure teacher. The teachers played mind games with their kids, and a mind game is something you do to someone you want to subvert. What's more, they did it just before the kids graduated from the school.

Teacher: So long!

Teacher extends leg, trips kid.

Kid: Ow!

Teacher: Haw haw haw! Aw, I'm just funnin'.

Nice one, Teach.

Maybe some of these kids will develop a healthy appreciation for the frailty, insecurity and plain dopiness of some authority figures. BTW many of my friends and loved ones are teachers; I don't mean to tar them all with the same brush.

In a way the story reminds me of an incident I read about, where the boss of a small company gathered his underlings after-hours at a business convention and got them to play Truth or Dare. Word was the boss took things in a bawdy direction, people were upset, the company lost some employees and had its rep damaged. All because the boss didn't get it: Truth or Dare is... well, it's a youngsters' game, for one thing, but it's a game to be played between PEERS ONLY. If you sign someone's paycheck, you can't ask her cup size or dare her to dance in her underwear. By the same token, kids pranking other kids is one thing; teachers pranking the kids... well, it better be a gentle prank.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let's Watch Some Movies

Everybody go check Diane's blog, Your-Russia. In the comments under her latest post she's suggesting doing a sort of film discussion group in which people choose a director or type of film, watch some relevant flicks (on our own time if nobody has time to get together for a screening), and discuss them. Sounds like fun to me. Who's in? And feel free to suggest film topics.

Requests for discussion of Jeanna Fine movies will be DENIED.

Clothes fake the man

I'm wearing a Cute Little Boy shirt. It's got horizontal strips, with fat reds, thick blues, slim yellows. It makes grown men look like boys. It's the kind of thing a mother buys for a son whom she wants to keep a boy for a little while longer.

My Mom (Whom I love and adore) didn't buy me this shirt. She bought it for my brother. He grew up a little too quick in some respects (girls) while I grew up too pokey in the same respects. So my parents bought him infantilizing clothes, but buy me leather jackets, sexy briefs, all in the hope that I'll put them to use and snag a wife. But water seeks its own level, and so do shirts. My brother gave me the L'il boy shirt, and I wear it with pride. As RuPaul puts it, you're born naked and everything else is Drag.

* * *

I rewatched Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome last night. It's now on the short list of my favorite movies. I turned it in to Netflix today and it felt like a parting.

I also turned in Eaten Alive, a drive-in potboiler "From the makers of Texas Chainsaw Massacre!" Regular readers know how devoted I am to TCM, but if you follow any creative entertainer who's impressed you, sooner or later you'll see them stumble. Eaten Alive is just drive-in crap, but it's gonzo drive-in crap with scattered moments of cinematic poetry. Too little, though. Lots of gratuitous disrobing scenes near the end. Set-bound; much of TCM's value comes from the documentary feel of it. They didn't film on a soundstage, they went out and found places. Eaten Alive was filmed on a soundstage, and except for the gore and the nudity it looks like a cheap old TV show. The camera setups lack the verite freshness of TCM. Some fun performances. Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund looks like all my North Carolina cousins, so I bought him as a wild 'n' wooly redneck right away. Sometimes bad filmmaking and nightmare logic bleed into one another, so this actually got to be pretty scary. The soundtrack mixes country tunes with jarring musique concrete flourishes, and really builds up a horrific atmosphere, rubber crocodile notwithstanding. Marilyn Burns, the final girl in TCM, delivers some great scream queening in the coveted role of "Only woman in the movie who doesn't take her top off." If you feel like throwing popcorn at a screen and would like for something to be on the screen while you do it, this would make a good choice.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pleasure Domes

I watched Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome by Kenneth Anger last night. If you like artsy proto-MTV cinema, you have to see it. Nutty folks in strange costumes. Then more nutty folks in strange costumes. Then they get overlayed in evocative ways; the multiple exposures never get muddy. I bet Peter Greenaway watched it a few times.

* * *

I was thinking about the scripture passage we discussed in Sunday School last weekend; I don't remember chapter and verse (it's from Revelation, though) but it's about heaven as an eventual reward for suffering believers. The notion of heaven that's presented to suicide bombers is the fast-food version of that; an option that's available now at the low low price of murderous martyrdom, instead of something to come in the distant future after a natural lifetime of service. Like all suicide there's an element of cheating out of life; it compounds the promise of "no more pain" with the promise of "eternal pleasure." Talk about instant gratification! Talk about false promises and inflated claims.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Second Post of the Day: Uh-Oh, there I go, thinkin' about Mars again.

One idea that's very sexy to a lot of science and science-fiction nerds is the idea of terraforming Mars to make it like Earth. It's been the subject of various beloved SF novels over the last decade or so. Has anyone considered terraforming Earth to make it like Mars?
Prayers, good wishes and happy thoughts are requested for the following two:

1. My brother is finding the server life to be extremely challenging, and, uh, let's just say he no longer lives where he'd been living, and is currently crashing with coworkers. His internship dried up with no job offers, and he's not sure what to do next. If anyone in Nashville needs a nice, hardworking and funny guy for a job, he's available.

2. A friend (the one who got me to start cleaning) recently married and is expecting a baby. She's also having to move and deal with her job. So, she's in a wee bit of transition!

* * *

I went home for Mother's Day, and it was good. One interesting event was Sunday School; I sat in on the mostly-elderly class my Dad attends (he's one of the youngest folks in the class). The subject was a passage in Revelation about in which it talks about persevering through trials and torments. Talking about trials and torments turned into a discussion of WWII anecdotes. It was great. Everything I know about the War comes from books and movies; I don't think I'd ever heard anyone who'd lived through it tell anything about it. Plus my Dad told a Vietnam anecdote which I found inspiring: they captured a Viet Cong, took his stuff. Amongst the belongings was a photo of his wife and kids. The young North Vietnamese soldier held out his hand, and they gave him back his photo. It's good to see that young men could reach some kind of reasonable compromise, even across the boundaries. One of the hardest things about war for me is that people who might be friends under better circumstances are sent by The Men Who Love War to kill each other.

* * *

I bought some Twinings Irish Breakfast tea this morning: I'd been buying Taylors of Harrowgate, but I decided to take a chance on another brand. I opened it up when I got to work, and found it's not in tea bags. I'll have to buy some tealover's implements for this. So I'm drinking Lapsang Souchong again. I sip it very gingerly. I'm afraid of this tea.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Allow to Infuse.

I've been meaning to do it anyway, but I've added Diane's blog to my links list since she saw fit to holla in the comments a few posts back.

The secret with the Lapsang Souchong seems to be pretty simple: actually take the tea bag out after a few minutes. With the Irish Breakfast I just let them tea bags sit there; I like it strong. But the wood-smoke Lapsang is lethal at high concentration. Phew.

Good luck finding any underlying theme or structure to this post.

The other night I went to see a play, but it was cancelled due to technical problems. This was at a community center rather than a Theatre per se, and they were really sheepish about it but didn't seem to have any sense that it could be fixed.

When I did The Goat at BFT we didn't have a cast party, but we had something much better; Becky, a Grand Old Lady of local theatre, hadn't been able to see the show due to health problems, so after closing night we went to her home and did a reading for her. It was wonderful. We discovered so many lovely nuances in the text and performance when we didn't have to project to the back of the house.

So I'm all for low-fi staged readings and such. It has such intimacy. Maybe the cast of last night's cancelled show could have just read the play to us. It was Diary of Anne Frank, not Cats, for pete's sake; it doesn't hinge on spectacle, but on people interacting. It could have worked.

* * *

Today I'm livin' on the edge: I'm drinking a different kind of tea. I usually do Irish Breakfast, but V. Richards, the boutique grocery across the street from my domicile, was out. So I'm trying Lapsang Souchong. Reading the cover copy on the box about how they saturate this tea with wood smoke in China gave me visions right out of Ernest Bramah. I haven't tasted the stuff yet, but I got it brewing in my cup, and they weren't kidding about wood smoke. I can whiff it, and it's almost overpowering. I like tea that pushes me around, so that's promising.

* * *

One sip later: I'm teetering between the Ernest Bramah and the Sax Rohmer. Misty mountains, fiery torture. What does it say about me that when I think of China, I think of decadent bogus Victorian honkies? Visions of the heathen chinee and Warhol's technicolor Mao are what leap to mind. I know better, but my brain doesn't. A bit like the Tony Millionare character who says "I'm not gay. But my hiney is!" I'm not racist against Chinese people; I've just got a head full of these corny and sensational ideas about China. I LIKE corny and sensational ideas, so it's hard to brush them aside with any force.

Anyway, I've never smoked, but I suspect this tea might be useful for people who are quitting. I feel like I just inhaled campfire smoke, only without the coughing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Please Sign In

I thought getting a Site Meter would satisfy my curiousity about who actually reads this, but it's really just made it worse. The meter tells me when someone clicks on here, what country they're from, and whether they stumbled in from Google or clicked on a direct link (which suggests they're repeat customers). I get about 3 (apparent) repeat customers a day, and if you're comfortable de-lurking, I'd like to ask regular readers to post a comment saying howdy. Heck, do it anonymously if you like (I think my blog's configured to allow that... I'll check in a sec). If you're not comfortable with that I understand, but I'd appreciate a note. Of course many of you have commented before, but I'd like it if ya'll would let me know you're still checking in. Thanks!

Worry Duty

I just got summoned for Jury Duty. That's cool, except it's smack in the middle of my rehearsals for Fuddy Meers, my next play (I'm the Limping Man, a role I can't wait to tackle). I've never done this jury duty thing, and I dunno if it'll be a conflict or not. All I know about jury duty I learned from the movies. Will I be sequestered? That'd be fun, except for the "missing my play" part.

I'm sure it won't be a problem, but that won't stop me from fretting.

* * *

Last night I was at the laundromat doing the towels, when a friendly and lovely woman whom I knew from another show talked to me. It was a pleasant conversation but I realized afterward that any red-blooded het man would have, y'know, asked her out in my position (single, attracted, interested). We even talked about upcoming plays, and I didn't think to ask her to any of them. How did I get so deflected from The Pursuit of Happiness?

Maybe I just felt awkward because it was laundry day, and I wasn't exactly dressed to impress. I was wearing the same t-shirt I've been exercising in for the past week, so I probably smelled a little too much like a red-blooded het man. On the other hand, she approached me. Maybe the pheromes drew her. If I took my shoes off she might have proposed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'm so bored that I'm posting a second time today

When I start rehearsing my next show I'll probably stop fixating on this durn blog. It's all about leaving my stain on the world, through one medium or another...


Anyway, if I ever start a punk band I'm naming it Car Bomb Footprint. If I ever become a rapper it'll be as MC Everythingz A $. If I ever become a DJ it'll be DJ Chillable Red, after the most Kool-Aidish boxed wine I ever swilled down, back when I drank boxed wine. Eechh! Once I brought a box of wine to a cast party; the host of the party had all this classy bottled wine, and when I waddled in my chum Tom the hillbilly homosexual said "Where's The Box?" He said it like that, with capital letters implied in his enunciation. He knew I was bringing a box, and was so excited. We swilled that trash down, with these bottles staring at us in dismay. Water seeks its own level, and so do drunks with unrefined palates. Tom finally took the bag out of the box and squeezed it dry. At least I think he did. Maybe I just dreamed it.

Ah, those were the great cast parties. Drinking awful wine and snubbing the good stuff. Why is this such a fond memory?

Sadly I can think of other boxed-wine anecdotes, but I shudder to think my 5 readers a day might come to think of me as King of Boxed Wine.

Searching, scrubbing and storing

My site meter doesn't tell me everything (I have no idea who is actually reading this except for when people comment on the blog) but when people stumble across it during a Google search the meter tells me what terms they were searching for. Two searches stand out so far:

"Can my dad touch me"

Without knowing the context, I have no idea exactly how horrified I should be by that.

"Critique of gospel dance"

I don't know why Google pulled my blog up for that, since I've never offered a critique of gospel dance; neither a general survey of the form nor a specific review of a performance. I'm not sure exactly what gospel dance would be like, but I'll try to check it out.

* * *

If any of my readers out there are rooting for me on this transforming-my-apartment-back-into-a-livable-human-domicile thing, you'd have beamed with pride to see me last night, as I opted to scrub mold out of the toilet instead of lie in bed drinking wine and watching L'Avventura. I feel so noble.

I've also hit on a revolutionary new approach to sorting my comics which I intend to implement ASAP. The revolutionary approach is called "storing my comics the way everyone else who has a bunch of comics does it, with longboxes." Longboxes are designed to store comics, and I can get them at my comic shop. Why have I just let my comics litter the floor for so long? I suspect the answer brings us back to toilets, specifically the training one undergoes in relation to them.

P. S. If my use of the word "toilet" in this post runs up my Google-searchin' readership any, I'm deleting the blog.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Library Books

Okay, my recent attempt at running up my ratings with false promises of smut hasn't panned out as well as I'd hoped. Given the options of upping the smut level (like, say, to real smut) or sticking with the tried-and-true navel gazing, I think I'd rather go with the latter.

Today's post was sparked by Lynda Barry, a remarkable cartoonist whose work was the centerpiece of Drawn & Quarterly Publishing's Free Comic Book Day giveaway. (For the uninitiated, every year comic shops give away free sample comics. Run to your local comic shop and ask if it isn't too late to snag the Lynda Barry title. It's an awesome inspirational item on the topic of writing. Also ask about Fantagraphic's Unseen Peanuts sampler, reprinting old Peanuts strips that haven't been reprinted... until now!)

So, here's a list of books and such I remember from my college library, each of which was important to me at the time in ways that linger.

1. Bound copies of old Life magazines. While other BSC students were doing the things most BSC students do (studying, flirting, playing volley ball, having carnal relations, playing Frisbee, doing the sex thing, drinking to excess, sex sex sex, etc.) I was in the library pouring over old Life magazines. They were a real education in American pop culture. Forgotten celebrities, forgotten trends, weird ads. In-depth articles on movies that sank beneath the waves. Cultural figures, novelists, artists, were covered with the same enthusiasm as stars and pop musicians. There was one article on a crazy new fad dance called "the Rock and Roll!" which showed lots of clean-cut white kids dancing. It had no indication that rock and roll was here to stay, or was a music form rather than a fad dance.

2. Bound copies of old Broadway theatre reviews. The school had review clippings from the major New York papers for every Broadway show, going back for decades. I learned a lot about the cultural context of old shows; how they were received when they first came out. I also learned how many Broadway shows appear and disappear without anyone seeming to notice or care.

3. A weird History Of Human Civilization book from who knows when. I grabbed it off the shelf purely by accident; I think I was reaching for a nearby book and just twitched the wrong way. I wish I remembered the author's name; he made it clear that as far as he was concerned, there were two things that had screwed up the human race: clothing and religion. He disproved the existence of God (at least to his satisfaction) in a short footnote. The Internet gives us access to crank theories by the truckload, but in those just-prior-to-widespread-Internet-access days this book astonished me. I mean,t here are cases to be made for athiesm and nudism, but making them the key themes of a history textbook seems a little Procrustean. It was a big fat book, and the guy had obviously put years of his life into it.

4. A book about Hamlet. Once again I don't remember the title or author, but it had a contrarian theory about Hamlet interpretation (Hamlet isn't suicidal, isn't faking craziness) that Boldly Denounced Establishment Consensus Thinking. I ate up contrarian easy answers in my student days, and proceeded to make a fool of myself in various classes on Shakespeare, defiantly brandishing this book. At least I didn't join the Anti-Stratfordians (yeesh!)

5. A biography of The Sun King, Louis the 16th. Again I don't remember title or author, and this is the one I'd most like to see again. It was a older book, written by a professor who took a fiercely partisan enthusiasm for his subject. His account of the King's life was gossipy and vicious to the King's enemies. I think the author was in love with his subject in a literal way. I imagine him as a lonely queen teaching in a small, dull midwestern town, leaning on the windowsill and dreaming of a flamboyant, fashionable dandy carrying him off to a lavish, taxpayer-supported pleasure palace. It was kind of sweet, in a sad way.

6. Some Women by Robert Mapplethorpe. Boy, do I regret checking this thing out. I was on a big photography kick: I'd become a (totally) amateur shutterbug, and checked out every book of artsy or journalistic photography in the library. One day I checked out this item and, as I had so many times before, sat in the theatre lobby between classes flipping through my latest library book. As often happened, other students looked over my shoulder to see what I was looking at. The answer in this case turned out to be, not least to my surprise: naked children. You can imagine the fallout from that! I certainly didn't check out the book (a book that specifically mentioned Women in the title) with nekkid younguns in mind. One of the other students then present (let's call her Minney) is still involved in local theatre, and she's always been really mean to me, but would never tell me why. Turns out that, according to a mutual friend, Minney is convinced I'm a pedo on the basis of that darn book. Well. The one picture I remember from the book that involved nekkid kids was a portrait of naked Susan Sarandon and her naked children. If Minney thinks I was looking at that because I was interested in the kids, well, maybe someone should introduce her to Occam's Razor. C'mon, you can barely see the kids in this photo; they're cast in the twin shadows of their Mom's bosom! I'm not a breast man, but I am a Susan Sarandon's breast man, so given a choice between focusing my attention on the aforementioned breasts or, well, just about anything, including kids in any state of dress, there's no contest.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Post 2 1/2: Addendum to the Previous

Yow! Immediately after posting the phrase "Lesbian cheerleader catfight" I got two views. They may not be satisfied viewers, but in terms of mere numbers boosting this experiment is bearing fruit.

If anyone has any requests/ratings-boosting posting suggestions (More giant robot show explication! More self-absorbed self-analysis! That kind of thing) feel free to pass them on. Bear in mind I don't want to post anything about giant robot shows, and I'm done with the self-analysis for the foreseeable future.

Post 2 of The Day: Lesbian Cheerleader Catfight!

According to my Site Meter I'm getting more readers than I would have guessed, but while my weekly readership exceeds my expectations, no one looked at it (myself included) Saturday. I'm interested in boosting my readership. One way to do that is to write richer, funnier, more thoughtful posts. Huh. Another possibility is to mention lesbian cheerleader catfights. If that doesn't boost numbers, I'll try the richer, funnier, more thoughtful posts gimmick.

Stinko De Mayo

Went to a Cinco De Mayo/Graduation party, hosted by The Alabama Sister in honor of her boyfriend finally escaping from UAB with a fancy college dee-ploma. Had a good time, saw some folks I love, saw some folks who were unpleasantly surprised to see me there, drank my weight in sangria. I could barely move Sunday. This is what weekends used to be like. Big ups to The Alabama Sis and her eddicated boyfriend!

Alucarda is the movie of the week! If you like gonzo Gothic, put this gruesome tale of devil-possessed orphans running riot through a nunnery in your queue. I want them to remake it and let me play every role in the film. The bad seed title character, the hapless blind girl who gets knocked down the stairs, the gypsy fortune teller who turns out to be SATAN, the rational scientist who discovers how wrong he is for dissing Christianity, the flagellant nuns, the scowling priest who saves girls by exorcising them... TO DEATH, the undead naked schoolgirl rising from a coffin full of blood. I covet all these roles.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Second Post of the Day

This excerpt from a recent book on the subject of hikikomori makes me rethink my appropriation of the term, since it seems to be a culturally specific thing. The non-productive, emotionally stunted hermit thing I had in mind isn't quite the same as hikikomori, which seems to be more a matter of not finding a role for oneself in a highly stratified society. Perhaps in Japan some folks hide because they're given too few possibilities, while in the West some of us retreat because we're bewildered by the possibilities and have too little sense of what to do with those possibilities? Nowadays I know the proper response to possibilities is to consider them, then try a few of them on for size, but once I was bewildered. I still get dizzy considering the swarming cloud of possibilities all around me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Third Freakin' Post of the Day

I just heard an NPR story about a program to keep sex offenders locked up after they've served their sentences, but to keep them on treatment programs. The idea is to fix them before releasing them; the concern is that it's really just, y'know, keeping people locked up forever. I can see arguments on both sides, but the shrink who oversees the problem was quoted as saying (in paraphrase) that sex offenders are subject to greater concern than violent offenders because sex offenders undermine our basic value system.

Well. Um. Of course rape and molestation go against any worthwhile value system, but I'd argue that value systems which give criminal violence a pass are crappy value systems that need to be phased out. Maybe I'm not red-blooded enough for shrinks who work for the government.

Second post of the day

I'm so excited. Why am I excited? Because Tom Spurgeon, my fave comics critic and boss of comicsreporter.com, is sending me a free copy of the Comics Journal from back when he edited it (I was the first to email in and ask). The Journal's a good mag and Spurgeon's editorship was splendid, but it's not so much the mag; it's getting a freebie from someone I've never met but long admired. On this blog I try to emulate Spurgeon's ideosyncratic clarity and wit; it's cool to have such a random connection pop up between us. It's a bit like getting a note from a favorite celebrity; not life-changing, but cheering.

You take your pleasures where you can, I reckon.