Sunday, August 28, 2016

Six degrees of Tony Kushner


Actually, only two degrees. Danielle Skraasgad, whom I saw in Kushner's THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL'S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES (which I blogged about at the time) and whom I first discovered in an impressive adaptation of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (also blogged about) has agreed to participate in a reading of my play NORMA JEANE AT THE PAYNE WHITNEY PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC the title of which, while long, especially for me (my titles tend to be minimalist (JANE EYRE, HUCK FINN, JULIA & BUDDY, TAM LIN, THE SLASH) has only half the number of words as the Kushner play's title.

I don't know if Danielle met Kushner (although I will ask her at the reading) but certainly she met Oscar Eustis the director. (Although I already have a connection to Eustis, because his babysitter directed the world premiere of my play THE SLASH because I have such a friggin noteworthy career.) So I hope she met Kushner personally.

The New Yorker's John Lahr (zero degrees of separation from the Cowardly Lion since he came right out of his weiner) gave Danielle a nice shout-out:
Kushner maintains that an audience’s collective I.Q. goes up about twenty-five points while watching a play, and this is certainly true of his plays. You lean into them as if into a good conversation, knowing that there will be meaty anecdote, irresistible humor, unexpected poetry, occasional longueurs, and some things that you just can’t—and you’re not even meant to—get. Take, for instance, Maeve (the droll Danielle Skraastad), the pregnant and manic lesbian lover of Gus’s daughter, Maria Teresa (the compelling Linda Emond), a.k.a. M.T., or “Empty,” who has been inseminated by Empty’s heterosexual younger brother, Vito, a.k.a. V. (Steven Pasquale), the most reactionary and therefore the most disappointing to Gus of his offspring. Maeve is a recent theology Ph.D., and her thesis adviser turns out to be Paul (the edgy K. Todd Freeman), the astringent black longtime partner of Gus’s older son, Pier Luigi (Stephen Spinella), a.k.a. “Pill.” When Maeve is first heard from, she’s talking shop to Gus’s sister, Clio (the subtle Brenda Wehle), a former nun and Maoist, who has been watching over Gus since his first attempt to slit his wrists, the previous year. “Maeve Ludens, Doctor of Theology, unemployed, not exactly a bull market out there for us apophatic theologians, with a, with, you know, pronounced kataphatic inclinations,” Maeve says, adding, “But I’m kataphatic by nature, I’m just a cockeyed kataphatist! So sue me!” Nobody, not even Clio, knows what the hell Maeve is talking about; her speech, however, plays as a hilarious piece of pretension.

Of course droll is not exactly what I'm going for with NORMA JEANE although there are a few moments that I think might get a laugh, and I know Danielle can get em if they're there. Besides the Kushner connection, I'm thrilled to get to work with such a talented and accomplished actor.

And some fun coincidences - Danielle has been in several Arthur Miller's plays - Miller makes a guest appearance in mine. Kushner's title makes a reference to Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - Norma Jeane's beloved late guardian Ana Lower was a Christian Scientist, although I don't mention it explicitly, I just have Norma Jeane mention that illness was against Aunt Ana's religion. And there is a snippet from the Cherry Orchard in my play, while The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to yada yada yada explicitly mentions The Cherry Orchard. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The offensive ad on the NYCPlaywrights web site

When I saw this ad offering a chance to win dinner with Trump I just assumed it was a joke - maybe a parody by the Clinton team. It took me a double take to realize that it was for real.

I can't imagine many visitors to the NYCPlaywrights web site are interested. Maybe there's something in my Google ads preferences section to block all pro-Trump advertisements.

I have to say though, in general I love political campaigns, especially the big ones - they always result in a higher rate of return on Google ads.

But ugh.


Friday, August 26, 2016

More on my peasant ancestry

It's Ballymena Castle where it's sure nary a McClernan
set foot, except possibly to deliver milk.


Back in January I traced my maternal ancestry to an Irish proprietor of an oyster bar and more glamorously, a sea captain.

Well a distant relative, a member of the Sawn family put up an impressively leafy family tree, which has a bunch of McClernans in the mix. So some fun facts:

My paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather, John Francis Dalton, was from a family of mostly illiterates from Ireland. According to census records he was a coal miner, then a tea salesman.

On her mother's side, her grandfather Daniel Dreyer was a laborer from France. I was impressed they traced the Dreyers all the way back to Andre Dreyer, whose birthdate is unknown but it was no later than the early 1700s. Her grandmother Gertrude Pfeiffer was from Germany.

My grandfather's ancestry can be traced back to John McClernan a milk dealer of Ballymena, County Antrim in Northern Ireland, born in 1845, moved to Philadelphia in 1876, and on his mother's side to John Hall of Yorkshire England.

John Hall is also the name of Shakespeare's son-in-law, but I'm sure the name Hall is about as common as Smith in England (and my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Smith) so there's likely no connection there. Plus, that John Hall was a physician, which sure doesn't sound like my family.

There is not much info about our John Hall but his granddaughter Sarah Jane Hall's husband,  William McClernan, my great-grandfather, owned bars in Philadelphia and Clementon New Jersey. Now that sounds like my family. My mother's grandfather Thomas Arthur Maguire managed a wholesale liquor business in Philadelphia. What are the chances that he sold merchandise to my father's grandfather the bar owner?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roundtable of geniuses

I'm a huge fan of Amy Schumer, Kate McKinnon and Ellie Kemper so I loved this - I wasn't as familiar with the others but they're all smart and funny and well worth watching.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My neighbor Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney can see my house from here! Well, the at least the roof
of the building where I rent a one-bedroom apartment.
I already knew Paul McCartney lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Well turns out he lives directly across the park from me (well, one of his residences) - it's a sixteen minute walk through Central Park. And I've walked past his place several times.

And here's another fun fact - I know somebody who has been in his penthouse - although it was before he owned it - the photographer for this article is Linda Jacquez, a friend of my daughter, who I hired to take production photos of my play two years ago.

Yoko Ono of course lives just thirteen blocks south of me at the Dakota. Really it seems like everybody lives around here, Katha Pollitt, Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Jerry Seinfeld, god knows who else. At least they live here part time. I figure one of these days I'll bump into one of them in the Park.

Did I forget to mention how cool my neighbor Paul McCartney is?


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The era of 70s hookers

Currently available at Designer Shoe Warehouse

What the hell is it with all these platform shoes? 



They're everywhere. I guess this is just my age showing but every time I see platform high heel I think of prostitutes from the 1970s. So every shoe store I go into lately looks like they are catering at least 50% to that clientele. And never mind that association - why would somebody want to wear those things? They are ugly, uncomfortable and make walking difficult.

What idiot would pay for those things?


Bringing back those awesome 1970s fashions

Monday, August 22, 2016

Wittenberg! Wittenberg! Eins, Zwei Drei!

Alas, poor everybody
I would have thought HAMLET was just as bullet-proof as A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, so tight is its plot. Shows how much I know.

I went to see a production of HAMLET in an UWS park recently and I disliked so many things about it. I managed to force myself to stay until just before Ophelia's mad scene, which was two hours in, but really I should have left when Hamlet meets up with Rosencranz and Guildenstern for the first time in the play and they all shout "Wittenberg, Wittenberg, Eins Zwei Drei!"

I wish I was kidding.

You can do a lot of editing to Shakespeare's plays and take liberties with direction, setting, costumes etc. and it's all forgivable. I may not agree with your choices, but it's forgivable. But adding your own text - and that wasn't the only time in this production - is absolutely wrong.

Prior to the Wittenberg cheer I thought the director's biggest sin was casting himself as Hamlet, when he looked to be about the same age as Gertrude, and there were many worthy men in the cast who were not only younger but had more charisma and projected better. And the ghost of Hamlet's father was ridiculously animated - more so than Hamlet in their first scene together. 

And then there was the unusual choice of having Ophelia wear a painter's smock and a oil-painting brush in her ponytail in an early scene. I couldn't understand why until they got to the nunnery scene and Hamlet said...
I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God
has given you one face, and you make yourselves another...
Either the director and/or the dramaturg decided to de-couple "paintings" from "you make yourselves another (face)" out of ignorance; or they don't agree that when Shakespeare says paintings he's referring to make-up; or the worst possibility, they wanted to jazz things up with an alternate take on the concept of painting to give Ophelia a back story. Ugh.

No I absolutely did not hallucinated that paint brush
in Ophelia's hair.

And then there was the directorial decision to enact the Hecuba speech. Which pretty much misses the point, which is that the actor could make himself cry while reciting a speech - which Hamlet remarks upon. And the director seems to consider the audience on the same level as Polonius - they aren't able to handle sitting there listening to a speech - they have to have a sword fight and a woman playing Hecuba walk out and do a mime/dance while waving the Greek tragedy equivalent of pom-poms.

I could go on but it was a free show and you get what you pay for. I feel sorry for the actors. And the director too, actually, he seems to have no clue, but boy does he love to put on plays.

One thing that did occur to me that isn't the fault of this production - but when Polonius is droning on until Gertrude pleads: "more matter and less art" - I'm fairly confident many in the audience had no idea that Polonius is supposed to be tiresome because of his speech - because from a modern television and movie-watching audience perspective, virtually all Shakespeare characters use excess verbiage and take forever to get to the point.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Die, Tumblr, Die

Although it was very unpleasant to read Aaron M. Renn scapegoating Paul Krugman as a government-bailed out corporation there was something in his piece on City Journal (a media outlet of the Koch brothers-funded Manhattan Institute) that was very cheering indeed:
Most Americans know about corporate executives like Marissa Mayer. She completely failed to turn around the struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo, though that’s what she was hired to do. Her “accomplishments” include buying the now-worthless blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Despite her failure, if she’s not retained in the wake of the reported sale of Yahoo’s businesses to Verizon, Mayer is set to collect a pre-negotiated $55 million golden parachute. Most Americans know that they wouldn’t be treated so kindly if they lost their jobs.
Oh man do I want Tumblr to die. It's thanks to Tumblr accounts that a bunch of identitarian extremists have been able to smear me via Google results on my name - Tumblr allows people to drive up the Google search rankings of their Tumblr postings if they have enough followers, and identitarians tend to have a whole bunch of college-student aged followers with nothing better to do than encourage nut-bars like Mikki Kendall and K. Tempest Bradford to smear random strangers on the Internet.

When I contracted Tumblr to complain about the smear-job their response was basically "tough shit." So I am so happy if they are teetering on the edge of extinction.

I guess vicious Tumblr bullies like Mikki Kendall
will have to save their meanness for Twitter now.
Once Tumblr fails, conscience-deficient mobbers and smear-mongers like Kendall and Bradford will no longer have the power to casually smear people so easily. Hallelujah!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Koch brothers employee Aaron M. Renn hates Paul Krugman

I recently mentioned I was excited that I might bump into Krugman while running in Riverside Park thanks to reading his blog post about the park. Well somebody else took note of that post, but not in a good way:
Most Americans believe in capitalism, but know that a lot of its top beneficiaries are not fully exposed to marketplace discipline. Most Americans are painfully aware that life is good for people like Paul Krugman, and they know that he doesn’t much care what’s happening to them. Charles Murray created his “bubble quiz” to illustrate the degree to which much of the upper-middle class has grown detached from the experience of workaday Americans. When PBS invited its readers to take the quiz, the zip code where this detachment was most pronounced was my own: 10023, the Upper West Side. It’s a far cry from where I grew up, in Southern Indiana.
Aaron M. Renn mentions the unequal distribution of wealth in a capitalist system, not something that generally bothers right-wingers. Then he says that the beneficiaries are "not fully exposed to marketplace discipline" and elsewhere in his article he gripes about government bailouts. Libertarians believe that laissez-faire capitalism is the answer to all the world's problems and are generally against government influence on the market, so he must be a Libertarian. Plus I found him whinging about progressives stealing libertarian ideas.

And then he references Charles Murray, a prominent Libertarian who is most famous for co-authoring "The Bell Curve" in 1994, which argues that black people as a group are less intelligent than all other ethnic groups, so we shouldn't spend money on government programs designed to help the poor because they're too stupid to benefit from it. The book was widely criticized. Including by then civil rights lawyer and writer Barack Obama.

NPR
October 28, 1994
SHOW: All Things Considered (NPR 4:30 pm ET)
Charles Murray's Political Expediency Denounced 
BARACK OBAMA, Commentator: Charles Murray is inviting American down a dangerous path. 
NOAH ADAMS, Host: Civil rights lawyer, Barack Obama.

Mr. OBAMA: The idea that inferior genes account for the problems of the poor in general, and blacks in particular, isn't new, of course. Racial supremacists have been using IQ tests to support their theories since the turn of the century. The arguments against such dubious science aren't new either. Scientists have repeatedly told us that genes don't vary much from one race to another, and psychologists have pointed out the role that language and other cultural barriers can play in depressing minority test scores, and no one disputes that children whose mothers smoke crack when they're pregnant are going to have developmental problems. 
Now, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that with early intervention such problems can be prevented. But Mr. Murray isn't interested in prevention. He's interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it's artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell. It's easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray's calculations. After watching their income stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, realor perceived, that minorities may enjoy. 
I happen to think Mr. Murray's wrong, not just in his estimation of black people, but in his estimation of the broader American public. But I do think Mr. Murray's right about the growing distance between the races. The violence and despair of the inner city are real. So's the problem of street crime. The longer we allow these problems to fester, the easier it becomes for white America to see all blacks as menacing and for black America to see all whites as racist. To close that gap, we're going to have to do more than denounce Mr. Murray's book. We're going to have to take concrete and deliberate action. For blacks, that means taking greater responsibility for the state of our own communities. Too many of us use white racism as an excuse for self-defeating behavior. Too many of our young people think education is a white thing and that the values of hard work and discipline andself-respect are somehow outdated. 
That being said, it's time for all of us, and now I'm talking about the larger American community, to acknowledge that we've never even come close to providing equal opportunity to the majority of black children. Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children. Real opportunity would mean a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work, jobs that can return some structure and dignity to people's lives and give inner-city children something more than a basketball rim to shoot for. In the short run, such ladders of opportunity are going to cost more, not less, than either welfare or affirmative action. But, in the long run, our investment should payoff handsomely. That we fail to make this investment is just plain stupid. It's not the result of an intellectual deficit. It's theresult of a moral deficit. 
ADAMS: Barack Obama is a civil rights lawyer and writer. He lives in Chicago.
So what's Aaron M. Renn's deal? Well it turns out that he works for the Manhattan Institute...
...a right-wing 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank founded in 1978 by William J. Casey, who later became President Ronald Reagan's CIA director.[1] It is an associate member of the State Policy Network.

According to the Manhattan Institute, it is "focused on promoting free-market principles" and has a mission to "develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility."[2]
The Manhattan Institute is funded in part by the Koch brothers.
The Manhattan Institute has received funding from the Koch brothers. The Claude R. Lambe Foundation, one of the Koch Family Foundations, reported giving $2,075,000 to the Manhattan Institute between 2001 and 2012, the last year for which data is available. The Charles G. Koch Foundation gave $100,000 to the Institute in 2012.

Take a look at their list of experts - out of 48, only 6 are women and one is a black man. And Renn has the hypocrisy to claim Paul Krugman lives in a bubble.


But going back to Krugman. Is Renn really so stupid that he can't tell the difference between government-bailout beneficiaries and Paul Krugman? Or is deliberate malice behind Renn's using Krugman as an example of someone that the average person should resent? Because Krugman didn't get a government bailout. Krugman should be the kind of person that Libertarians adore - he's risen to prominence through hard work and intelligence like an Ayn Randian ubermensch.

But then Krugman advocates for liberal policies, including higher taxes and government programs. That's why Renn (and Charles Murray and the Koch brothers) want to use Krugman and other urban liberals as the targets for class resentment. It's all about the politics.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rating your own play, publicly and without shame

I saw a play at the Fringe Festival last week and I thought the production was OK, but the play itself was really bad - the plot was barely coherent, poorly organized and the tone was all over the place from wacky to dead-serious earnest. And at one point the bad guy of the play is killed and this is completely forgotten by the next scene.

I was amused to find the playwright himself contributing his evaluation of his play on the web site Show Score.
Clever, Epic, Intelligent, Relevant, Romantic
See it if Disclosure: I am the playwright. I think you will like it if you like ideas theatricalized so you can envision the world in different way.
Don't see it if You don't like theatre that is trying to explore new ideas in a witty, romantic way, which asks you to think outside the box of ordinary.
This is a playwright who has a problem with metaphor, since he doesn't seem to be aware that "think outside of the box of ordinary" is redundant. "Outside the box" doesn't need "of ordinary." The box is the ordinary.
It's true that there was mention of love and various clinches in this play, so I guess that's why he thinks his play is romantic. Sorry to tell him that people suddenly randomly declaring their love for each other with almost no preamble is not romantic, it's just goofy. 
Although you do have to give him some credit for self-awareness. He thinks you shouldn't see his play if you don't like theater that "is trying" to explore new ideas, etc. Unfortunately for him, it tried and failed.
Now it's one thing for this playwright to brag about his play online - and at least he admits he is the playwright. (His name is displayed in his rating.) But part of the deal with Show Score is that you give your show a rating number. So basically he's helping to keep his average rating up high by giving his show a 90 (out of 100 - and I'm surprised he didn't give it that score - but maybe he wasn't pleased with a non-script aspect of the show.) And you don't see the reviews of a scored show unless you click on the details page. So what he did is still unethical, even if he admits he's the playwright in the details page.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Shakespeare in the park 2016

Well it looks like I completely missed the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park in spite of living a 10 minute walk from the Delacort Theater.

I did see another production of As You Like It by the Hip to Hip Theater Company - I've blogged about their work in 2014 and 2015. I generally like what they do with Shakespeare's plays. And in this production, their scene with Audrey and Touchstone was especially fun - it was broadly played which I assume H2H does because they present their work outdoors to people who may not necessarily have much acquaintance with Shakespeare. I think this works better with his lesser plays though - I thought their take on The Two Gentlemen of Verona was especially good - and this play in particular seems to show up on many people's list as the worst play by Shakespeare.

So I was a bit apprehensive about how their approach would work with one of his better plays - overall I'd say it worked pretty well.

So that's five Shakespeare plays in the park so far, not counting two more I play to see, Hamlet and another Midsummer Night's Dream.


Jacques and Rosalind

Audrey and Touchestone

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New NORMA JEANE logo


Because I can. Also I've begun the web site. I have my stage manager but I'm still not sure about my actors yet - including whether or not I'm using two or three actors.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Courtney no - Vince yes

Guess I was fooled back in 2011 - I thought Courtney Love was on the back cover of the Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa. Apparently not.

Just as surprising though is somebody who does show up in that photo, Vince Guaraldi, who brought us the immortal music of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" most notably the incredibly catchy "Linus and Lucy."

I was amazed to read that Guaraldi allegedly sat in with the Grateful Dead in the early 1970s. Although if that's so, it's odd that there's apparently no certain recording of him playing with them, considering how thoroughly Grateful Dead shows were documented through their career. This guy seems to think he sat in on New Year's Eve 1968.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I love the new Ghostbusters

I've long been a fan of Kate McKinnon because of her work on Saturday Night Live, especially her Hillary Clinton impersonation. Here is the most recent one I am aware of.





And so I was intrigued when I happened to read some discussion of Ghostbusters that mentioned how awesome she is in that movie.

So I checked out some excerpts from the movie on Youtube.




I decided I had to see this movie ASAP.

So I had some free time recently and went to the movie theater to see it - and I rarely go to movie theaters, preferring to wait for them to be posted online instead. And I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

It's not quite perfect and the second half is not as good as the first - I was laughing my ass off during the first half. And in spite of the many good things about this movie, McKinnon is the best part, as many critics have already noted.

But you can see why hard-core misogynists hate this movie - it presents a reality - independent women who have distinctive personalities, doing STEM activities - that they would like to crush. If this movie had somehow fallen through a time warp and was seen by feminists in the 1970s they would have been ecstatic. This is everything they dreamed of. Not that the movie is blatantly feminist, although they get in a few good snarks at the assholes who had a meltdown because the new Ghostbusters movie starred women.

However, the villain of the movie is a nerd who wants to blow up the world because his brilliance hasn't been acknowledged and he's been bullied. Which describes homocidal monsters like Elliot Rodger and the Men's Rights Activists who relate to him.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Crabbie's Ginger Beer

This is the stuff!

My daughter first introduced me to a Crabbie's Ginger Beer back in September 2014 - yes I remember the exact month because it made such a big impression on me. But since they didn't carry Crabbie's in my local supermarket in Astoria, I kind of forgot about it. But I rediscovered it since I've been on the UWS and since this heatwave has hit I have been craving it. I guess when it's this hot the sweetness of cider just doesn't work. But Crabbies is sort of like a very dry ginger-ale with citrus. Crabbies won't give away the actual recipe. It looks like it's made with thistle, based on the bottle, but I guess that's just a signifier that it comes from Scotland originally.

What we do know is...
...production of Crabbie's ginger beer takes place in Liverpool, England. Crabbie's alcoholic ginger beer is 4.8% alcohol by volume and is based on fermented ginger which is steeped for up to eight weeks.
But although Crabbie's is available on the UWS, it's only available in three supermarkets here, most commonly in four-packs. But apparently I'm not the only one with a warm-weather jones for Crabbie's because there was none to be had today in two of the supermarkets and only in individual 16-oz. bottles like the one here, in the third. And I think this was only there because a display was blocking the view of these bottles, and you had to know to look for them. So I scored two. The luck of the Scotch-Irish.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Documenting the descent of TALLEY'S FOLLY

The true message of TALLEY'S FOLLY
My jihad against the sexist TALLEY'S FOLLY continues.

As I noted last October about TALLEY'S FOLLY, the tide is slowly turning against it thanks to the dawning awareness that bullying and cajoling a woman into marrying you is not actually romantic.

More evidence on that score from this review in February of a production in Las Vegas:
On the page Matt has an undeniable charm but is also extremely aggressive and a downright stalker, with behavior that would be intolerable to most modern women. During the “Buzzz” director Ann Marie Pereth talked about softening Matt’s aggression in order to make the play more immediate, more relatable for the audience of today. 
This is the first time I've seen where a critic actually allows that the play is no longer relatable to contemporary audiences, as-is. Because it's a play about a stalker who refuses to believe that no means no. It's only a matter of time before theater companies get hip to the fact that an aggressive asshole does not make for a charming suitor. 

Unfortunately it's still getting a whole bunch of productions and critics are still coming up with excuses for why Matt is not a raging asshole. Like this review by Lisa Jensen of a Santa Cruz production:
But when she comes home from her job as a nurse’s aide in a hospital, tending the war-wounded, Sally (Monica West) is more angry than eager to see him. She can’t believe he presented himself to her conservative, xenophobic family, and tries to give him the brush-off, but he won’t take “no” for an answer. Or rather, as he tells her, if she did tell him “no,” he would take it. But for all her hand-wringing and high dudgeon, she never quite tells him outright there is no hope for them. And through this loophole, Matt slips in to reasonably and respectfully plead his case.
I don't know if Jensen fell asleep during the play or what but "respectful" is not how Matt treats Sally - or her family or her community. And she literally tells him to leave the boathouse, which he not only refuses but physically prevents her from calling out to her brothers and from leaving the boathouse herself. Apparently unless you actually use the word "no" then your protestations don't count. Rape defense lawyers would love to have a whole jury box of Lisa Jensens.

And then for the same production, a critic named Joanna Engelhart finds Sally's demeanor problematic:
And while West does a credible job of vacillating between what her mind and her heart are telling her, at times she’s a tad too strident and unfeeling. Clearly Matt had to have some reason for thinking Sally would be receptive to his proposal.
No, if you go by the script. he has no reason to think she'd be receptive except if you buy into the idea that bitches is crazy, and when they say no they mean yes, and you have to give them a bitch-slap - almost literally, in this play.

But gradually, more and more critics are becoming aware of the hideousness of the TALLEY'S FOLLY gender dynamic, obscured by all the sentimentality and bullshit. As Jay Gabler says of a recent production in Bloomington:
Matthew is a real talker, joking and telling stories to break the tension surrounding his reunion with Sally. You'll best enjoy Talley's Folly if you're willing to settle in and let the elliptical dialogue take its course. The two actors have an easy chemistry; we readily see how sparks flew between them, and root for it to happen again. (It's an uncomfortable fact, though, that multiple times in the course of the play, Matthew resorts to physical manhandling.)
Uncomfortable. Yah think?

The excerpt of the play below is the outrageous bullshit that critics who love the play either ignore, excuse or don't mind. And the part where he asks her if she's rational, after he's been restraining her and muffling her, is the most perfect expression of the utter contempt that Lanford Wilson and the people who love this play have for women.

                       SALLY

-Get gone now. Leave before I hit you with something. You can walk to the Barnettes', they'll give you some gas for a couple of coupons.

                      MATT

Now who is making the disturbance?

                     SALLY

               (Angry, quite loud.)

Get off this property or get out of my way so I can go back to the house, or I'll disturb you for real.

                     MATT

We are going to settle this before anyone goes anywhere.

                     SALLY

I won't be made a fool just because I fell in love again, Matt, and I won't be pushed around again.

                     MATT

You're not getting away from me.

                     SALLY

Get out of here!

                     MATT

Do you realize what you said? Did you hear yourself?

                    SALLY

             (Yelling toward the door.)

Buddy! Cliffy! Here he is. Matt Friedman is down here!
(Her last words are muffled by Matt's hand as he grabs her and holds her fast. She tries to speak over his lines.)
                     MATT

              (Grabbing her.)

Vilde chaya! you are a crazy woman! We could both be shot with that gun. People do not scream and yell and kick.

              (She stops struggling.)

People are blessed with the beautiful gift of reason and communication.

              (He starts to release her.)

                    SALLY
Cliffy!

                    MATT

               (Grabbing her again.)

How can such a thing happen? When they passed out logic everybody in the Ozarks went on a marshmallow roast. You are rational now?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Venus and Adonis - meh

I finally got around to reading Shakespeare's epic poem VENUS & ADONIS, and I have to say, I'm not especially impressed. I mean, sure, he keeps the poetry going at a roiling boil, but the story itself is quite tiresome.

SPOILER ALERT!

Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love (known as Aphrodite to the Greeks) spies the beautiful young Adonis and jumps on him. She smooches him all up and talks dirty to him and he makes ew yuck faces at her. Then he tries to get away but his horse, seeing a hot mare, takes off without him. Venus jumps on him again, and tells him he should learn from his horse's example. Adonis finally says love is icky and he's too young and he wants to go boar hunting with his friends. Venus flips out, afraid that he's going to get killed. Which his does. His blood lands on a flower. Venus vows to kiss that kind of flower every day.

This is, according to Wikipedia, "It is a complex, kaleidoscopic work, using constantly shifting tone and perspective to present contrasting views of the nature of love."

I didn't see that. At all. For the first 184 lines it's either Venus telling Adonis how hot he is, or the omniscient narrator telling us how hot Venus or Adonis is. Then finally at line 185 Adonis speaks:

  And now Adonis with a lazy spright,
     And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
     His louring brows o'erwhelming his fair sight,
     Like misty vapours when they blot the sky,           184
       Souring his cheeks, cries, 'Fie! no more of love:
       The sun doth burn my face; I must remove.'



And apparently Venus can do nothing about it. That's a pretty poor excuse for a goddess that she can't just magically make him desire her. And her father Jove certainly never bothered with getting permission from anybody.

Also this verse reminds us that English is not pronounced the same as in Shakespeare's day, with the rhyme of "love" and "remove."

For two verses Shakespeare belabors the wonder of Adonis' dimples.

  At this Adonis smiles as in disdain,
     That in each cheek appears a pretty dimple:
     Love made those hollows, if himself were slain,
     He might be buried in a tomb so simple;              244
       Foreknowing well, if there he came to lie,
       Why, there Love liv'd, and there he could not die.

     These lovely caves, these round enchanting pits,
     Open'd their mouths to swallow Venus' liking.        248
     Being mad before, how doth she now for wits?
     Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking?
       Poor queen of love, in thine own law forlorn,
       To love a cheek that smiles at thee in scorn!      252




Then starting with the next verse we get, I kid you not, twelve verses of equine love. Adonis' horse has run away and left him, so Venus resumes pestering him. So after all this pestering, Adonis gives in and gives Venus a single kiss, and that's all she gets. Some goddess of love she is. 

There are of course some nice turns of phrase but over all the content doesn't deserve all that effort.

I've been giving it some thought lately and the reason that HAMLET is widely considered the best play by Shakespeare is because the plot just hums along. Sure, there are some great soliloquies too, but it's the almost perfect plot (I have issues with Act V) that makes it so great.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

OTHELLO and the politics of photography

Hudson Warehouse's OTHELLO at the Soldiers' & Sailors' Memorial in Riverside Park is the fourth Shakespeare play in the park I've seen this summer (also seen: AS YOU LIKE IT, THE TEMPEST and parts of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.) And so far only  New York Classical Theatre harassed me for taking photos. I thought maybe it was an Equity requirement, but Hudson Warehouse used Equity actors for their production and they had no problem with my taking discreet, non-flash photos with my iPhone. So NYCT harassed me because they wanted to, not because they had to.

My actor pal Bruce hanging with Othello

O&D

Wow this really is a sailor's memorial.



Monday, August 08, 2016

Genius of Love - new information

The song Genius of Love, by the Tom Tom Club (side project of Talking Heads members Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz)  was released in 1981 but back then you couldn't just Google up information about a song and not only discover that you were singing the wrong lyrics all along (turns out it's not "don't hang up, banjo brain") but also foreign languages were no such thing. In the original recording of "Genius of Love" there is snippet of a woman speaking in what sounds like a Scandinavian language. You can hear it beginning at minute 3:00 in the video below.

Well, it's not Scandinavian according to Chris Franz on the metafilter site:


Today I recieved this response from Chris Frantz:
Thanks for your message. The guess of Icelandic is close because Tina and her sisters lived in Iceland for several years in the mid-sixties when their father was stationed there with NATO.

But, no cigar because, in fact, that is not a sample. That is Tina's sister Lani speaking in a "made up" language that she invented to amuse herself when she was younger. She recorded the voice in one or two takes and we loved it because it was so weird.

Hope this answer helps.

Warm regards,

Chris Frantz

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Waiting for Krugman

Here is a photo of Krugman vs. Ayn Rand from
the Atlas Society - they hate Krugman, of course
which is one way you know how great
Krugman is. 

Ever since I read Krugman talking about how he runs in Riverside Park I've been hopeful:
If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.
I've walked in Riverside Park on a few occasions but I will be doing it much more often now that I know there's a chance I'll bump into The Mighty Krugman. And yes, I will insist he take a selfie with me. Whoohoo!

Speaking of Ayn Rand and Krugman - yes, I still plan to do something with my play DARK MARKET which focuses on Ayn Rand's influence on Alan Greenspan and how that contributed to the 2008 meltdown of the economy. It's just that with six actors its more expensive than NORMA JEANE which is a two-hander. And not just to produce - since I pay actors to do readings, six actors can add up.

I give Krugman a shout-out in the intro of the play - I quote him from his blog:
After all, what is "Atlas Shrugged" really about? Leave aside the endless speeches and bad sex scenes. What you’re left with is the tale of how a group of plutocrats overthrow a democratically elected government with a campaign of economic sabotage.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

None dare call it sociopathy

Evan Marc Katz's latest blog post has got me thinking about something I've been musing over for quite some time now - the high level of sociopathy among men.

Of course it's not called sociopathy, but Katz references the issue in his recent blog post:
Sounds a lot like what I’ve been preaching here for a decade. You can see it in the comments section. Men who think American women are selfish and would rather fly to Thailand for a bride. Women who are disgusted by men’s willingness to separate sex and love and have convinced themselves that no men are kind and commitment-oriented. This type of scarcity is not only untrue, but unhealthy as well.
First I'll point out that this paragraph reveals how much Katz's dating site, allegedly devoted to serving women, has a comments section populated by hideously misogynist men.

Now to the main issue - it's true that there are some men who are interested in love and commitment. But the fact is that a very high percentage of men do separate sex and love. Nobody knows how high a percentage because our male-dominated culture has never considered it an issue worth exploring.

And in truth, the issue is even more extreme than Katz presented. A high percentage of men don't just separate sex and love. Based on my experience in online dating, a really high percentage of men want to separate sex from any and all type of human connection

They usually don't state it so explicitly, using euphemisms like "no strings attached" and "no drama" and "not looking for anything serious." But what they actually mean - and I've sloooowly come to understand this from years of meeting men through online dating sites - is that they want to be in a room with you (or outdoors, they really aren't particular), they want to stick their penis into one or more of your orifices, evacuate and then go away. 

When they use the term "friends with benefits" it's complete bullshit - they don't want the friend part, they only want the benefits. They don't want to know anything about you - the only thing that matters to them is that you present enough visual sexual signifiers to arouse them. Period. Unique, individual you means less than nothing to them - your humanity is actually an inconvenient, annoying roadblock to their achieving something of value.

In other words for many men, the best kind of sex is completely dehumanized sex.

What do we call people who prefer to have minimal emotional connections with other people? Sociopaths.

But the reason that we don't call it sociopathy in this case is because sex without emotional connection is identified as a masculine thing. Men have so utterly dominated the world since the beginning of human culture anything male is the standard for humanity.

This dehumanized way that many men look at women is the basis for "flying to Thailand for a bride" and the phenomenon Katz pointed out without criticism, men working to get rich so they can have access to women they wouldn't normally have access to. 

Many men don't want a woman they have something in common with: life experiences, similar level of attractiveness, compatible aspirations, shared hobbies. Those are women they have access to. They want someone younger and beautiful and nothing else matters.

This phenomenon of men treating women like soulless things goes a long way to explaining why men abandon sick wives at such a high rate:
  • A married woman diagnosed with a serious disease is six times more likely to be divorced or separated than a man with a similar diagnosis.
  • Among study participants, the divorce rate was 21 percent for seriously ill women and 3 percent for seriously ill men.
  • A control group divorced at a rate of 12 percent, suggesting that if disease makes husbands more likely to split, it makes wives more likely to stay.
These men married their wives to have access to pussy. And illness makes the pussy less available and/or less desirable. So why would they stick around? To deal with possible sad feelings and diminished sexual access? That's not what they signed up for, no matter what vows about sickness and health they spouted in front of an audience.

What women need to do is stop allowing their own lived experiences to be gas-lighted away by self-interested champions of the patriarchy like Evan Marc Katz and instead ask: why are so many men sociopaths?

Friday, August 05, 2016

RIP Norma Jeane


Marilyn Monroe died today 54 years ago.

Meanwhile, I have redesigned the logo for my upcoming production.

I have to give credit to Arthur Miller's play AFTER THE FALL for inspiring this version of my Norma Jeane play. I was flailing around for a year working on drafts until I read his play, with its undisguised representation of Monroe in the character of Maggie and came to this part (Quentin is the stand-in for Miller.)

MAGGIE
Why you wear those pants?
(He turns back to her, knowing what is coming.)
I told you the seat is too tight.


QUENTIN
Well they made them too tight, but I can walk in them.


MAGGIE
Fags wear pants like that. I told you.
(She drinks again. It is so pathological he looks with amazed eyes.)
They attract each other with their asses.



QUENTIN
You calling me a fag now?


MAGGIE
(She is very drunk.)
Just I've known fags and some of them didn't even know themselves that they were. And I didn't know if you knew about that.


QUENTIN
That's a hell of a way to reassure yourself Maggie.


MAGGIE
(Staggering slightly)
I'm allowed to say what I see...

This inspired me to make the play partly about a battle between Norma Jeane and the hospital psychiatrist who is a closeted homosexual. I thought it was fascinating that Miller portrayed Monroe commenting that she's known gay men who did not know they were gay.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Subway Series

I actually did take the subway to see two of the games in the 2016 Yankees-Mets "subway series."  Normally I wouldn't take the initiative to go to baseball games on my own, but an old friend was in town and loves baseball so he took me. I had a hot dog at the Yankees game, which was a big deal for me - I don't remember the last time I ate a hot dog. Like going to baseball games, it's not something I feel much compulsion to do.

I took the 7 train to get to the Mets game at CitiField. We had seats close to the field there.

Mets won this one - I forget the score - maybe 7 - 1?
I took the B train to get to Yankees Stadium - it's only twenty minutes uptown from my apartment. We had seats way up high, but I actually liked it better than the Mets seats because we could see the game much better this way. 


The Yankees won this game, 9 - 5

I prefer Yankees games over Mets games anyway, because only the Yankees have clean-up crew members dancing to the Village People's "YMCA" - that's my favorite part of the game. I did not video-record it so I will use this one from YouTube.

You can hang out with all the boys.


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Evan Marc Katz: heterosexual women are great big hoes

Evan Marc Katz, patron saint of traditional gender roles:
Men spend countless hours working to get rich – not just for their own self-worth, but because having money gives them an advantage when it comes to courting women. Do these men feel bad that they’re being “used” for their money? Occasionally. But, for the most part, a rich guy understands that his money is part of the package – and if it allows him to get a woman he wouldn’t otherwise get, he can usually make peace with it.
These are the people Evan Marc Katz means when
he uses the terms "men" and "women."


So let's see - men work to get rich so they can have "an advantage" courting women. And when the money gives them an advantage courting women they "wouldn't otherwise get" they can make peace with it.

So a man can make peace (usually!) with a scenario that he spent countless hours trying to achieve.

Evan Marc Katz is a special kind of stupid.

And his claim about straight men of course begs the question, although Katz's none-too-bright followers are unlikely to think of it: if getting rich is about scoring quality pussy, why do any straight women or gay men work to get rich?

The only women who would listen to Evan Marc Katz are those who agree with him that women are whores who marry for money. No doubt because that's who they are, and they assume all women are like them. And Katz will certainly not tell them otherwise.

It makes me wonder who Katz is voting for in the upcoming presidential election. Hillary Clinton certainly didn't marry Bill for his money; she has worked all her life; and been nominated for president. How does such a woman fit into the Evan Marc Katz gender role paradigm? She doesn't. And neither does Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is very much an Evan Marc Katz kind of man. Sure Trump didn't actually work to get rich, he was born rich, but he obviously used his money to buy women he wouldn't otherwise be able to get, twice dumping the aging Mrs. Trump for a younger model.

Donald Trump is the kind of man that Evan Marc Katz is selling to his poor marks, but the joke is on them. Unless they are under 35, they are not considered worth purchasing by the kind of men who buy women.

I'd bet that most of Katz's audience are women over 35, and so he is encouraging them to believe in a system which has already rejected them. No matter how much Evan Marc Katz advises women to be passive, these gold-digger wannabes will never score the rich man of their dreams. 

What a grotesque snake-oil salesman is Evan Marc Katz. But at least he offers his customers some consolation for being such dummies: Why So Many Smart People Aren't Happy.

More on the horrifically regressive, logically dissonant commentary of Evan Marc Katz.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The traditional pre-wedding drag show

Big fun at Aqua Key West...

The bride and the bride


Me at the drag show



Aquanette Maya


Aquanette Inga

Aquanette Faith


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Heading to Key West

This will be the fourth time I've gone to Florida, but the first time I've flown there. I've driven twice and took a train last October. I really hate to fly but it's only a three hour trip.

I will report more from the Sunshine State.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I love you Sarah Silverman

All is forgiven!

Silverman, herself a fan of the Vermont senator, on Monday night brought the crowd at the Democratic National Convention to its feet with a rousing speech calling for party unity.
“To the Bernie-or-bust people, you’re being ridiculous,” Silverman said after heaping praise on both Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the party's presumptive nominee for president. 
“Not only did Bernie wake us up,” Silverman, 45, said, “he made us understand what is possible and what we deserve.
“I support Bernie Sanders and the movement behind him. And Bernie’s already succeeded in so many ways.”