Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Leg Fracture Accomplished!

Fuddy Meers opened quite well, I thought. A few flubs, but we dealt with it and the audience seemed to dig the show.

Then some of the college students in the cast and crew got me to go out to kareoke with them. I was pleased to discover that watching hot college girls shimmy and shake and act all sexy doesn't address my desires the way substantial conversation with women my age does. Makes me feel all grown up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mocked

While driving to work the other day I saw Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) crossing the street. There's a gaggle of them in town to protest outside the local abortion clinics. Apparently they had to march in the hot sun for a while first, waving signs with pictures of aborted fetuses and slogans like "God Will Not Be Mocked." Does burning the Koran count as God-mocking? Because Operation Save America has a track record for that. I dunno what the alleged connection between Islam and abortion is. Anyway, the march: there was a guy out front loudly blowing a big long phallic horn like you'd see in an old gladiator movie, presumably to give crossing the street a more epic feel.

A lot of the protesters were young women. I wonder how their sense of their own fertility and their erotic and maternal future shapes their motivations for this. Do they feel that by fighting against abortion and its attendant issues they are in some way protecting themselves from less than savory reproductive concerns in their own lives? By working against the abortion narrative do they feel they are denying things like unwed pregnancy or rape for themselves and clearing the way for happy married-with-healthy-baby futures? I suspect a lot of these folks don't want to join in on Koran-burning antics; when the leadership decides it's Koran-burning time, will the others walk away, argue, or just stand there in nervous silence?


When I was in college I was involved with an very anti-abortion worship group on my college campus. I never made it out to any of the protests; I was against abortion, but I just wanted to attend Bible studies and sing hymns. The group pretty much fell apart. We were a diverse group of Christians who all loved getting together and singing hymns, but soon the groups' two leaders started pushing a hardcore version of predestination which denied freewill and gleefully asserted that God creates many people with the intention of predestining them for Hell. Most of us were unenamoured of this notion of God, and we drifted away. I bet a lot of people who specifically want to combat abortion have left the OSA fold because of the other items on their agenda.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Second Post of the Day: Barbara Ras

Here is a poem by Barbara Ras. I picked up her book "One Hidden Stuff" over the weekend. Check it out.

This poem is a bit oddly formatted on my screen, but the poems in the book look fine and read better. I have no commentary at the moment, but Ras speaks to me.

Just Say Faux

Our production of Fuddy Meers is taking shape! I think it has real potential to be a sleeper hit on the local theatre scene. And fake marijuana deserves some of the credit.

One of the characters in the show is a stoner, and the actor behind the part has been learning to roll fake doobs and smoke these herbal cigs that smell like real pot. Well, supposedly it's fake pot he's smoking. All I know is that while some of us are diligently rehearsing, about half the cast is running around backstage, passing around fake pot and giggling like effeminate hyenas. You never know what the community theatre experience is going to be.

Anyway, the psychosomatic contact buzz from the faux-weed has infected everyone with placebo-giggles and synthetic mellowness. It's helped us relax into the show instead of straining. We're really loosening up and making some splendid discoveries. We keep forgetting our lines and cues, though. Does fake pot kill brain cells?

For that matter, does fake pot act as a gateway to other fake drugs? Will we be drawn to snort pixy stiks? Will we wind up at the pretend-Methadone clinic?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Now Look

I'm wearing contacts on a part-time basis. I've never before looked at my face in the mirror without glasses yet with unblurred vision. It turns out that the planes of my face are utterly different from the way they seem to me when they're obscured by glasses or poor vision. I think of my face as much more narrow and tapered than it is; it's rather broad and blocky. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

The theatre I'm working (okay, volunteering) at, Birmingham Festival Theatre, has a lobby full of old posters for old productions. I enjoy standing in that lobby, soaking up the 35 year history of the theatre, particularly when the posters list the cast. Some performer's and director's names recur again and again; others clearly dominated for a few years, then disappeared. Some folks acted in a slew of shows, went away, and are now back decades later as board members. I take pleasure in this sense of history, but I wish I could rewind time and enjoy productions that I didn't see. Theatres are always full of ghosts; the ghosts of finished productions, each with an individual flavour.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quick Update

I seem to be able to put my contacts in and take them out now. A really cool lady named Joyce taught me to break it down into a step-by-step process, and to take my time instead of rushing through it and trying to get it over with. Getting much-needed advice from people I didn't know has been a motif in my life lately.

Rehearsal for Fuddy Meers has entered the stage where we can see that things will start to take shape as soon as we really know our lines. When we can clip through the scenes without hollering for the stage manager to feed us our lines, we'll be able to really put in all the little touches that make a show special.

Check out Zagreb Studio's animated shorts. Netflix has a few of them. I'm working my way through Laugh At Your Own Risk/For Children Only, and it's Fab-o. The opening short ties right into my dreams: a man falls past a building, falling and falling, very fast, but with no anxiety. Things happen as he falls; he's on an effortless journey. At the end we discover that all is well. Put this film on a loop and you could keep be contented as a cow for hours.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't Quote Me

Due to some recent unpleasantness regarding inappropriate quotation marks, I have a new link: the Quotation Marks blog, dedicated to heaping scorn upon all those who put quote marks on signs, posters, etc. for no good reason.

I've been thinking about this anyway because one of my neighbors has a bumper sticker which says something like "My child helps make Blahdeblah Elementary a School of Excellence." But the bumper sticker has quote marks around the whole phrase. If it were really a school of excellence they'd know not to put quotation marks around the entire text of a bumper sticker.

Sorry for Andy Rooneying out. Or should that be "Andy Rooneying" out?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mugwump Fireworks

I'm in the middle of a charming comfort-food film called Tomorrow We Move. It's an understated French comedy that reminds me a bit of Rohmer spliced with good old Hollywood feel-good comedies. Last night, though, I celebrated Independence day with a viewing of an old fave, Naked Lunch. I watched it around the Fourth a couple years back and was shaken by a Burroughs-penned line about America; "America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting." I've decided to make the Naked Lunch movie an Independence-day tradition.

* * *

There's a scene in Fuddy Meers in which I, as my character, suddenly say some really nasty and scary things to another character, then calm down... but the calming down is just as scary as the angry outburst. I was having trouble launching into the spiel; I stood there trying to get this locomotive force charging up out of nowhere. Yesterday (yes, we rehearsed on Independence Day) I tried something new; I found a reason to turn and step away from my scene partner. Then I began my spiel while I spun back and strode up to her. The physical action made the difference; it really spurred the performance. The physical charge helped me work up a hollerin' charge too. It's a very simple trick, but I would have been too dopey to think of it a few years ago. It's only recently I've begun to think about the physical possibilities of acting; I've always thought of acting as a mouth-and-face thing, probably because I was pandering to my strengths.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Past, Present and Future

I've been thinking about manga a lot lately. It became an important part of my life in my last year of college, and remained important to me for years. Rumiko Takahashi's romantic comedy Maison Ikkoku and zany comedy Ranma 1/2 were must-reads for me; I felt like I could see truths about my life projected onto the white spaces between her clean lines. For my nonproductive post-college years manga were my main source of escapism. Quiet enough to not wake my parents, portable enough to sneak into any location. Nowadays I only want such entertainment comfort food on an occasional basis; I don't need it to compensate for a lack of real life. Yet manga and anime imagery plugs into my Nerd Mind the way Klingons or Light Sabers do for other nerds. I'll see an image of Any Old Manga Character and get excited on some primal level, but when I start reading the stuff I get bored fast.

The loss of novelty value is part of it. Manga was once scarce, a niche market, and if you liked the stuff you pretty much bought what was offered. Why else would I have three digests of Fist Of The North Star, which is basically postapocalyptic Wrestlemania?

* * *

This production of Fuddy Meers is coming together; we just got off-book for Act 1, and the Off-Book day is always a troubling one. It feels like suddenly the production is awful. To make matters worse, two of our key tech people saw us work with it for the first time last night, and what they saw was people not knowing their lines, bollixing the rhythms of the scenes. Someone, possibly me, told three fellow actors to bite his behind because they knew their lines better than he did. But getting the script out of my hand is like getting the needle out of a junkie's arm. It's painful, but it's for the best. As soon as we have line mastery we can really start to have fun with the readings. I'm going to try bringing a little Elliott Gould to my performance tonight; my character goes from nice guy to heavy and back again, and I don't think I'm making the nice parts light enough. I'm anticipating the heavy passages, and it's weighing down the nice guy passages. Gould circa The Long Goodbye may be the poultice I need.

Does that make a lick of sense? Pay no attention to anything actors say about their process.

* * *

I dunno what I'll audition for after this. BFT will be doing Moonlight and Magnolias, about the making of Gone With The Wind. I love the premise, but I've never read the script. I've gotten some nonspecific enthusiasm from various impresarios around town. I need to do theatre, but what theatre needs me?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Goony

Sunday I went to see a theatre matinee. I got there just in time, then found I'd left my wallet at home. That's the kind of goofup I used to make all the time when I was younger, but I thought I'd finally tightened up on stuff like that. The ticket-taker and usher offered to let me in for free, but I didn't feel right about that and I slank home to do laundry instead. I didn't want to get something for nothing, especially since I was in a self-punishing mood over forgetting my wallet, but now I wonder if I didn't commit the greater sin against the performers by turning my back on their show, and against the ticket-taker by turning down her offer.
* * *
This blogpost talks about manga titles the author's stopped reading. It's a meme that's making the rounds on manga-happy nerdblogs, but I realized recently that I've more or less stopped buying manga. The last manga I bought was a volume of Osamu Tezuka's Buddha. Tezuka created manga, but not only did he pioneer it, he continued to find new uses for the form. "Buddha" retells the story of Buddha, obviously, and while I'm not familiar with the full story I find Tezuka's retelling to be gripping. Tezuka knows how to spin a yarn, and the moral seriousness of his tale gives it flavor without being overpowering. The story never slides into boring or banal piety; religious storytellers take note! Once I would have been nonplussed by Tezuka's use of goony-looking cartoony characters in excruciatingly serious tales of spiritual trials, but nowadays it seems perfect to me. Aren't we all kind of goony, and aren't we all involved in serious spiritual trials?