Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mrs. Rosenfield Speaks



Another monologue from the NYCPlaywrights Worldwide Monologue Project complete. I said I'd get this one done in June and I did - with 30 minutes to spare!

This was the first time I tried a montage - it was fun. The Betty Boop clip is public domain - and there's plenty more available at online archives.

Only one more monologue left.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ireland demonstrates the paradox of thrift

Krugman often talks about the paradox of thrift. Ireland is living it:
Nearly two years ago, an economic collapse forced Ireland to cut public spending and raise taxes, the type of austerity measures that financial markets are now pressing on most advanced industrial nations.

“When our public finance situation blew wide open, the dominant consideration was ensuring that there was international investor confidence in Ireland so we could continue to borrow,” said Alan Barrett, chief economist at the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland. “A lot of the argument was, ‘Let’s get this over with quickly.’ ”

Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish economy shrank 7.1 percent last year and remains in recession.

Joblessness in this country of 4.5 million is above 13 percent, and the ranks of the long-term unemployed — those out of work for a year or more — have more than doubled, to 5.3 percent.

more at the NYTimes

Sunday, June 27, 2010

H/C trope

It occurs to me that JULIA & BUDDY is basically a Hurt/Comfort story.

Hurt/Comfort has been around since the dawn of fiction, as the too-restrictively named Television Tropes endless matrix demonstrates, but it really takes the world of fan fiction to come up with snappy terms like Hurt/Comfort.

H/C is also big in the fan-fiction subcategory of "slash" fiction, which I've blogged about several times - and I wrote a one-act play called THE SLASH inspired by slash fiction. I even used the cargo cult trope before I realized there was one.

The reason H/C is so popular in slash is because it's a good excuse to get two same-sex (usually male) characters together in a state of vulnerability.

The J&B plot is a H/C switch-off. At first Julia is hurting thanks to her panic attack and Buddy keeps her company, then Julia becomes interested in Buddy's resentful-maintenance man schtick and by the end of the play discovers his hurt and then comforts him.

Rehearals begin today.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Up Against It

I had no idea that Joe Orton's screenplay "Up Against It" which he wrote with the Beatles in mind, had been produced for the stage until today - there's a review in the NYTimes from 1989. Says the review:
Following the screenplay, the story chronicles the misadventures of three prodigal friends (Orton had eliminated the George Harrison role after the Beatles turned down the script) who are victimized in a flagrant battle between the sexes. They become involved in a plot to assassinate the first female Prime Minister of Britain. Wherever McTurk turns, on land or at sea, he encounters the entire cast.

The book is spotted with rude Orton remarks about Church, State and sex. In response to a statement that a priest has been wrestling with his conscience all afternoon, McTurk asks, ''Who won?'' Such moments are far outweighed by the alterations in the script and by the interruption of Mr. Rundgren's score. The show, which is set in the 1960's, also reaches far afield for anachronistic jokes. (In her acceptance speech, the Prime Minister gushes, ''You like me, you really like me.'') Mistakes are exacerbated in Mr. Elliott's comic strip-style production. Best known for his direction of plays by Charles Busch, he approaches Orton in a similar vein, turning absurdist farce into camp caricature and overplaying the war of genders to the point of misogyny.

One of the pivotal decisions was whether to attempt to imitate the Beatles. The show's response is self-contradictory. The three characters speak in insecure Liverpool accents. Two have Beatle hairdos and mannerisms, while the third, Mr. Casnoff, acts less like a Beatle than like a Rolling Stone. Roger Bart, in the guise of Ringo Starr, is the closest to having a Beatle-mien, but, in common with his colleagues, he is undercut by the circumstances.

As Joe Orton wrote in his diary:
"I hadn't the heart to tell (Beatles film producer Walter Shenson) that the Beatles in my script have been caught in-flagrante, become involved in dubious political activity, dressed as women, committed murder, been put in prison and committed adultery. And the script isn't finished yet." 11th February 1967

Joe Orton was played by Gary Oldman in "Prick Up Your Ears." He talks about the Beatles script in this clip.



A friend of Orton's discusses his murder.

Actor Bruce Barton performs in a current production of Orton's "Loot".

Friday, June 25, 2010

another very good article by Katha Pollitt

As Kansas City teacher and social worker Mustafaa El Scari tells the down-and-out deadbeat dads in his fathering class, "All you are is a paycheck, and now you ain't even that. And if you try to exercise your authority, she'll call 911." Excuse me, exercise your authority? Are men really so brittle that they can't imagine a more fluid, flexible, loving, egalitarian way of relating to women and children than "because I said so"? Can they really not take advantage of the expansion of female-dominated working-class jobs like nursing and food preparation? (Actually, aren't most restaurant cooks already men? And if nursing sounds too girly, how about physician's assistant, EMS tech, phlebotomist?) Why should it be that women can change but men cannot?

Perhaps boys just haven't had enough incentive. The old ways worked so well for so long, so much of life was rigged in men's favor: all they had to do was show up. It can take a few generations for the new reality to sink in. Unfortunately, society at large isn't doing much to help. American males are bathed from birth in pop culture that reveres the most childish, most retrograde, most narcissistic male fantasies, from misogynistic rap to moronic action movies. Where would they get the idea that they should put away the video game and do their homework? That social work or schoolteaching is a good life for a man? Girls get a ton of sexist messages, too. But even if they grow up hating their bodies and dressing like prostitutes, they know that if they don't want to end up waitressing, they've got to hit the books and make a plan.

Hit the books. Make a plan. Boys can do that.

at The Nation

Thursday, June 24, 2010

who is the scientist?



Maybe I was too ready to assign the fault of gender idiocy to males based on age. I blogged here on June 2: "...And the few roles they write for women are extremely crappy - just wife or daughter or hot chick roles. Because in their minds, males are the default gender, so why would you write a play with, for example, a female doctor? Males can be doctors so there's no point in having a female doctor unless there's a reason for the doctor to be female, like she's also a hot chick..."

But it turns out that male is the default gender to 21st century kids too, when it comes to imagining what a scientist looks like... although girls, at least, are influenced by reality, while boys are not. As it says at Restructure:
* Among girls (14 in total), 36% portrayed a female scientist in the “before” drawing, and 57% portrayed a female scientist in the “after” drawing.

* Among boys (17 in total), 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “before” drawing, and 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “after” drawing.

It looks like a visit to Fermilab has no impact on boys’ gender stereotypes about scientists, but it has a strong impact on challenging girls’ gender stereotypes about scientists. For girls, there was a 58% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings; for boys, there was a 0% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings.
Of course people like Steven Pinker would have you believe that everything is a nice level playing field now, and discrimination against women in the sciences does not exist - and virtually every problem women have in science careers is due to innate mental inferiority. Or as Pinker's evolutionary psychology disciple Lawrence Summers put it, in his infamous speech to a group of women scientists:
in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic (lesser female) aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Julia and Buddy theme song

This was fun - I haven't created a song that had a higher percentage of original work since the JANE EYRE waltz two and a half years ago. The only thing in this clip that isn't me playing is the percussion.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice 2010 - henge fest

Apparently you are allowed inside the fenced in area of Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice...



National Geographic piece about Stonehenge



Carhenge

Sunday, June 20, 2010

JB casting

JB is ready to go - we found our Julia - Kat Chua.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toy Story 3 - Awesome



I knew Toy Story 3 was going to be good - it is great! The bits with Ken and Barbie are awesome - and they aren't even the best part. The audience I saw it with applauded twice during the end credits.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Who are the crazies in your neighborhood?

So far my apartment building has been fairly satisfactory. There's an in-house laundry room, which is convenient, and for the most part things are quiet and efficient. Every now and then my neighbors across the hall do some serious blazing and my apartment smells like skunkweed during those times, but at least it's not cheap incense.

But I guess any large multi-apartment complex is going to have at least some crazies.

There's a wizened 60-something woman who told me, not long after I moved in, that she lived in this apartment building her entire life. That's difficult for someone like me - who has averaged one move every two years since I was 18 - to imagine. She seemed a little odd then, but I didn't officially classify her as crazy in my mind.

Until today. I'm coming home from work and I'm waiting for the elevator. Wizened lady gets out. I enter elevator. I turn around to press the button for my floor and I notice wizened lady is holding the elevator door open. I stared at her for a moment wondering what the hell she was doing - she glared at me.

Me: What?

WL: What do you mean "what?" How about a thank you?

Me: For what?

WL: For holding the elevator open for you!

She finally let go of the elevator door after I told her to.

But the best crazy is the crazy teabagger on the first floor. I only know about this one because I sometimes take the stairs instead of the elevator in the morning and the teabagger's door is facing the stairway exit. There is an ever-changing exhibition of crazy on the teabagger's door. It's easier to show a picture than describe it:



Click here to see a larger image for all the teabaggy goodness.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

J&B performance dates

Finally got the JULIA & BUDDY performance dates.

Performance #1 - Tuesday, July 13th, 6:00p
Performance #2 - Saturday, July 17th, 7:00p
Performance #3 - Sunday, July 18th, 2:30p

The lovely and talented Daniel Genalo has agreed to reprise the role of Buddy, which he performed at NYCPlaywrights last month, but Claire Warden, the fabulous Brit can't do it - she has to go off and get married and honeymoon in Paris this summer. At least she expressed how very bummed out she is about not doing it - she really loved playing Julia - that's so gratifying for a playwright.

Time to schedule auditions.

Isn't that nice?



Renee Cole, one of the actor members of NYCPlaywrights, baked this cake for our last meeting of the year before summer hiatus. How about that? It was delicious too.

Nobody gets down on NYCPlaywrights harder than me, with my rants about old men, etc. But I really have created something - I'm not always sure exactly WHAT - but these meetings do have an impact on people's lives. And I read somewhere that even belonging to a group that meets once a month increases a person's quality of life. And we usually meet once a week. This past year people have begun bringing snacks to meetings, including wine. We've sometimes had three bottles of wine contributed to a single meeting - I usually bring cheese and crackers to go with the wine. And while snacks aren't necessary to a group that meets to read plays, it's a very nice thing - especially for hungry actors.

And not EVERY meeting features me freaking out at some clueless sexist old man. Why some meetings come and go without me making a single scene!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cultural materialism & me

I have done a terrible job of maintaining my Cultural Materialism web site, especially since that site probably gets more hits than all my other sites combined. Every now and then I'll get an email from somebody concerning the site. And somebody did me the dubious honor of helping himself to all the Marvin Harris videos from my site and posting them on his youtube channel without giving me any credit. I had to go through alot to convert those videos from VHS to digital format too. I have to do something about this.

UPDATE: dayam - my cultural materialism web site is on the curriculum at the University of Manitoba.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dumbarton Oaks first movement - video

Since I first mentioned Dumbarton Oaks on this blog Youtube has come a long way and you can get virtually anything from it - including this performance of the first movement of Dumbarton Oaks.

My post was Love and Art and Dumbarton Oaks which was the inspiration, along with Shakespeare's sonnet #151 for my sonnets.

Looking back at the archives from March - April 2008 I am really amazed at how chipper and postive I sound, since I was in the most incredible anguish during that period. I don't know how I managed to get myself out of bed every day back then.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

McAllistrum's March

Ah the elusive McAllistrum's March. The Chieftains do the definitive version along with the Belfast Harp Orchestra - a short, lo-fi clip of the into can be heard here. This video is only one guy, not a whole harp orchestra, but the audio is much better.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ja!

That does it - I'm moving to Sweden:
In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work — and men equal rights at home.
more at the NYTimes


I better learn the national anthem:

Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga Nord,
du tysta, du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
din sol, din himmel, dina ängder gröna,
din sol, din himmel, dina ängder gröna.

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet, att du är och du blir vad du var.
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden!
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden!

Monday, June 07, 2010

The movie Agora - quite good!



The clip above is from Agora - the movie was made in English, with mainly British actors, judging by the accents, even though it was made by a Spanish company. The clip above is in English with Italian subtitles - I couldn't find any other non-trailer type clips.

In this clip we see Rachel Weisz as Hypatia and Oscar Isaac as Orestes, once Hypatia's pupil and now her friend. He's now Roman prefect of Alexandria, and a Christian convert, although probably only because it was politically expedient.

Hypatia is conducting a simple and elegant physics experiment involving gravity and motion. One of the most impressive aspects of this movie was the way it gave a coherent account of Hypatia's discoveries concerning celestial physics, culminating in her work on the elliptical nature of the Earth's orbit around the sun.

The movie isn't exactly a laugh riot, but what humor there is, is usually supplied by Orestes, as in this scene. It's not hysterically funny, but it got a laugh - she explains her reaction to the experiment and he says "What does that mean?"

It was the timing and the way he said it - and like I said, this movie isn't exactly a big comedy, especially since Hypatia is murdered at the end.

It's not a perfect movie - there should have been at least one other female who got a speaking role. The movie definitely does not pass the Bechdel test. I mean, they didn't even give Hypatia any female slaves in this movie to wait on her when she was taking a bath - she had two male slaves attending her. This seems very unlikely. Since they took the trouble to invent the character of Davos, Hypatia's slave who loves her, they certainly could have given her a female friend or relative or servant to speak to.

Really Hypatia hardly has any personal life at all, something which the character actually comments on. But they could have given her a little more time as a person and less as an icon. They didn't need quite so many shots of conflict as they used.

Speaking of conflict though, one of the very surprising and admirable aspects of this movie is the way it faithfully represents the savagery and power politics of the early Christians, and the conflicts between Christianity and paganism, Christianity and Judaism, and even Christian vs. Christian. The prefect Orestes is almost murdered by a mob of Christians for not being Christian enough for their liking. Very realistic!

Hypatia becomes a sort of atheist martyr, one of the only hold-outs against Christianity which is being forced on all the pagans - the Christians didn't try to convert the Jews, they just drove them out of Alexandria.

I was surprised at how affecting her martyrdom scene was - I cried. And although it was partly sadness at seeing a good person killed, it was more than that. In this movie, Hypatia represents the human quest for knowledge - she's sort of the living embodiment of the Library at Alexandria, the fabled repository of the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and Romans. And once the Christians destroyed the Library, getting rid of Hypatia was the next step. So the tears were also about witnessing the triumph of ignorance, misogyny and mob-rule over intellectual curiosity. Something that routinely happens in schools and workplaces, in my experience.

The movie also looked great - great zoom in and out shots from the cosmos to the Earth and back. Alexandria looked great and historically convincing, and the costumes were great. And Rupert Evans is absolutely smokin' as Synesius, Bishop of Cyrene. He's a beautiful man, and with long hair he's like the patron saint of lust. See next post for more details.

Hotty McHotstein

So thanks to the movie Agora I discovered the actor Rupert Evans.

And then I discovered he was in a Victorian-era movie - oh sweet baby Jesus, he could not be any hotter.



This picture comes from something called "Fingersmith" which appears to be mainly about a lesbian relationship. But how could any woman be a lesbian within ten miles of this man? Just look at him!



He's so beautiful it blows my mind.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

WATCH THIS INFORMATIONAL VIDEO

I suspect that quite a few people who visit this blog are secret "pot" blowers. They should WATCH and LEARN.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Menaissance Festival!

Sady at Tiger Beatdown has outdone herself this time:
The chicks today, they get to do so many things! Why, they can vote, and attend colleges, and even drink and smoke in public! These chicks: An alarming number of them have jobs! And, like, financial autonomy, from the jobs, and hence a socially assured position of power from which to negotiate the terms of their relationships and lives, thereby making them not entirely dependent on the funding and/or goodwill of men for their continued survival and status, and so they're all able to make decisions and expect fair treatment and… dude, it's a mess, I tell you. Because it turns out, after like fifty-some years of this business, none of these chicks is impressed enough by your penis!

"Excuse me, madam, I happen to have a penis," you say. (Because you do. A trans variety of gentleman has no place within the Menaissance!) "Would you, perchance, like to hear about all of my thoughts and feelings as they relate to this penis, and also how important it makes me, and furthermore how it qualifies me to boss you around?" And the chicks today, they don't particularly care to listen! They used to listen. They used to have to. It was, like, their job.

Hence, the Menaissance: From "Men," meaning dudes, and "aissance," meaning "making asses out of themselves." What happens, apparently, is that a dude watches a few too many episodes of Mad Men and reads one too many Raymond Carver stories and takes at least one beer commercial just a bit too seriously, and then he decides to engage in some HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENTING, buying books with titles like The Retrosexual Manual: How to Be A Real Man, and playing dress-up in his special Don Draper costume that he got at Banana Republic, and getting his hair did at special man-focused man-salons which ensure their manliness by putting Elvis memorabilia all over the place (because women HATED Elvis, duh), and also probably pretending that he likes how scotch tastes and that cigars don’t make him want to barf his rare steaks back up onto his pseudo-vintage-trouser-encased lap, and in all other ways attempting to embody some wacky vision of pre-feminist manhood that, unless he is actually ninety-seven years old, he has only ever seen on TV.

Friday, June 04, 2010

now I see what I was doing wrong...

Who writes these eHow articles? They have one for How to Write a Sonnet which contains this list in a call-out box:

Things You'll Need:

* Godiva or Whitman Chocolates
* Dictionaries
* Thesauri
* Roses
* Boxes Of Chocolates
* Pencils
* Erasers
* Notebook Papers
* Pencils
* Pens
* Spiral Notebooks
* Word Processors
* Pencils
* Pens

Well now I know what I forgot - the boxes of chocolates and the roses. And I did not have enough pencils.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

a movie about Hypatia? wow



Why didn't I hear about the movie they made - Agora about Hypatia of Alexandria??? Turns out it opened in a limited release in the U.S. on May 28, 2010 but it was made in Spain in 2009.

Of course the Catholic Church is mad about it - because the movie truthfully reports that Hypatia was murdered by a mob of Christians.
The Spanish Catholic Observatorio Antidifamacion Religiosa (Religious Anti-Defamation Observatory) protested against the film for "promoting hatred of Christians and reinforcing false clichés about the Catholic Church."

Two views of Hypatia:

Socrates Scholasticus
THERE WAS a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time.
And John, Bishop of Nikiu
AND IN THOSE DAYS there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through (her) Satanic wiles.

It reminds me of this scene from the 2005 movie Cassanova - Bishop Pucci, played by Jeremy Irons, and his flunky arrive to see a balloon in flight (minute 4:47 in the clip below):

PUCCI

(making sign of the cross)

Witchcraft!

FLUNKY

Actually, Your Reverence, I believe it's because hot air rises, overcoming the gravitational force of -

(catches a look from Pucci)

Witchcraft.



Looks like AGORA is playing this weekend in NYC - whoohoo!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

WTF to do with all these old men???

NYCPlaywrights has been plagued by an infestation of old men. And I have to do something about it.

I don't dislike them simply for being old, but the older men are, the more they remember a time when men had total dominance, even in the West, over women and nobody complained about it. It was simply accepted as the natural state of things.

But it isn't nostalgia - they aren't nostalgic because in their MINDS nothing has changed. They write plays in allegedly contemporary settings that seem straight out of 1950s sit-coms. And the few roles they write for women are extremely crappy - just wife or daughter or hot chick roles. Because in their minds, males are the default gender, so why would you write a play with, for example, a female doctor? Males can be doctors so there's no point in having a female doctor unless there's a reason for the doctor to be female, like she's also a hot chick.

And none of them can write for shit - I don't just mean the content - I'm talking about the form. They just have people sitting around yammering at each other, about old guy stuff.

My theory is that they consider NYCPlaywrights to be a really cheap hobby. Most of them have plenty of money, but they are also incredibly cheap. And NYCPlaywrights will take anybody who can pay the membership fee, pretty much.

I think what I need to do is have a higher membership rate for all men over 60. It's already bad enough that we have way more young female actors than young male actors (and young male actors, if they are any good, get ALL the good roles) and way more male playwrights than female playwrights. I must fix this.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I blame my dad

My poor father died six years ago today. He was 71, which isn't especially young, but I'm sure he would have had at least another ten years if he didn't get lung cancer. It was no surprise that he did get lung cancer, he smoked constantly throughout his life from the age of 12. He tried to taper off by the time he retired, but the damage was already done. Ever since I was a kid I fully expected him to die of lung cancer.

My dad was a great guy. He never made alot of money - at least not a lot considering he had six kids to raise, and sent all of us to tuition-charging Catholic school. But he sure worked for his money. I cannot remember a single day he ever took off from work - he had a rock solid routine of going to work, working, and coming home.

But even more importantly, he really liked being a dad. In nice weather he would come home from work and play in the backyard with us kids - whiffle ball and volley ball - things like that. And all the kids in the neighborhood would come over and play too - my dad was like the neighborhood recreation captain. And he was completely fair - he never gave his own kids an advantage on scoring or strikes - he was a perfect umpire.

Only years later, after we were all too old to play whiffle ball in the backyard did it occur to me that my brothers and sisters and I never played games with any of the other kids' dads. Not a single one of them.

And not spending quality time was the least of it for some of the other kids' dads. Some dads were actively harmful: the girls in the house behind us were sexually molested by their father. My best friend's father was an alcoholic, and while he was nice enough, in spite of the drinking binges, he really didn't have any interest in speaking to children - not even his own children, let alone neighborhood kids. Plenty of people I know had such bad relationships with their dads - my sister-in-law's father hasn't spoken to her in ten years, my ex-husband's father barely ever spoke to him, an ex-boyfriend's father used to savagely beat him.

The older I get the more I realize how incredibly lucky my siblings and I were to have such a good dad.

But in addition to being kind and fair to kids he respected women. He was fairly conservative, and a devout Catholic, so he wasn't exactly a feminist. But even so, he saw women as human beings, and as individuals. He didn't treat me and my sisters any differently than my brothers - everybody was welcome to play whiffle ball. And he expressed pride and admiration in our accomplishments.

Again, growing up I didn't realize how rare this was. Only as an adult did I discover how much utter contempt so many men have for women. I never saw my dad leering at a woman - not in front of my mother or any other time. He never made lewd comments about women. He would never dream of having a girlie magazine in the house. Some might attribute this to his religiosity, but I don't think so. I've known plenty of men who were religious and yet didn't respect women.

And most men seem to feel that the role of any woman in his life is to express admiration for him and his accomplishments. Her accomplishments aren't worth mentioning - that's not her job, to be admirable, her job is strictly to admire. That is why I'm a complete sucker for any man who freely expresses admiration for any woman's accomplishments.

My dad was also very honest, to a fault. He didn't go out of his way to insult or criticize anybody, but he was not a bullshitter. You knew where you stood with him, and so did everybody else.

So that was my dad - he respected women and admired their accomplishments, liked kids, had dignity, was honest, and except for cigarettes, had self-control. I grew up expecting men to be like that, and so few of them are. So many men, it seems to me, are sniveling, whiny, lecherous misogynist creeps - especially all those middle-aged men who play with their expensive toys and get lap-dances and try to hook up with 20-something women - and then whine that women are gold-diggers.

I expect something different - I blame my dad.