Choose your own adventure.

You wake up folded awkwardly on your too-short-for-a-human-body couch around 6 in the morning. You’re dehydrated, and you really have to pee. You stretch, yawn, and rise, trying to remind your legs that they’re meant to go straight.

You go to the kitchen (which, in your tiny apartment, is pretty much the same room as the living room) and feel around in the dark for a glass in the dish rack. You open the fridge, bathing a corner of the kitchen in yellow light and the vague scent of guacamole.

You pour yourself a glass of cold water from the Brita pitcher and guzzle it, perhaps too quickly. You stuff an errant bud of weed back into its box on the counter, hunched uncomfortably between the crusty George Forman Grill and a plate of half-eaten Mexican rice. Having thus dispatched the glass of water and organized your counter, you plod to the bathroom to pee.

Only you’re not alone in the bathroom. There’s a sleeping man spread across the floor, His head propped up on your dog’s bed underneath the sink. You remember that this is your roommate’s friend from work, whose 21st birthday it was last night, who was puking in your toilet while you were entertaining the rest of the guests. He is now curled up, shrimp-like, in the vicinity of that same toilet.

You still really, really have to pee.

Do you:
A) Step as best as you can over the body, do the deed, and pray the sound of peeing doesn’t wake him up to find you standing pantsless over him?

B) Hold it for 3 hours until he wakes up and leaves?

The choice is yours, boys and girls.

Bless me anyway

Listening to: “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads (playing low from the speakers at the Second Cup)

At the ol’ coffee shop again (the one with the actual good coffee), working on a review of a fantastic production of Tony Kushner’s fantastic Angels in America, and I felt compelled to share my favorite quote (in a script full of favorite quotes) from the play with you, O blogosphere. It shows that Kushner’s cut from the same stalk as Frost and Merrill and Blake and yes, Pullman. The passionate declaration that life on Earth is infinitely more precious and holy and kickass than any sort of potential hereafter. This is from Part 2: Perestroika: Prior Walter, dying of AIDS, to a host of angels in heaven:

But still. Still.
Bless me anyway.
I want more life. I can’t help myself. I do.
I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but. . . . You see them living anyway.
When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die. But I recognize the habit. The addiction to being alive. We live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough, so inadequate but. . . . Bless me anyway. I want more life.


It’s snowing again, which for some fucked reason makes winter much more bearable than when it’s really cold and sunny. Mixed weather makes me nauseas for some reason. And January sun is just perverse. Weak and pale and nickel-bright.

My as-yet-unfinished short story (novella? graphic novel? whatever it ends up as…) “World’s End” is getting published in serialized form in my friend’s Upstate NY literary magazine. I like the idea of serializing fiction. It’s not something you see too often nowadays–the exception being Michael Chabon‘s delightfully overblown Gentlemen of the Road. I feel like it makes the reader part of the writing process in some distant way. It also lights a much-needed fire under my ass to get the damn thing done, or at it least to keep it moving along.

“World’s End” seems to be turning more into a collection of stories about London during my very special apocalypse than an organized, well-plotted thing. At this point, the only real McGuffin is Alex’s zombie bite. Who knows what it’ll become?

Ok. Ok. I’m ending this post right now and writing my damned articles. Fucking blaaarrrgggh! That’s what I say to you, Sirs. That’s what I say to you.

Ira Glass on storytelling

You’d probably be able to glean from posts past that I’d be the type who loves This American Life. And I am. There’s something almost primal about the satisfaction you get from hearing a story told aurally, without any visual or textual crutches. (That’s probably be the first and last time anyone will call anything NPR-related “primal.”)

I was just listening to the episode “Poultry Slam” on my iPod while walking Tucker, and I started laughing out loud in the middle of a crowded sidewalk. I’d say people must’ve thought I was a maniac, but everyone’s a maniac in Allston.

I was curious (but also a bit reticent) to see what Ira Glass actually looks like, to put a face with that voice. I found this great video where he talks about storytelling and the power of the anecdote. He’s talking about radio specifically, but I think what he says holds true for any kind of storytelling:

While we’re on the subject of storytelling, I also read this interview with Philip Pullman today (when I was supposed to be working, natch). He’s got some very cool stuff to say about the way writing tells a story versus the way visuals tell a story, and about the different mediums–text, recording, stage play, movie–in which His Dark Materials has been represented.

………………….

In other news, I’m a little morbidly fascinated by the fiasco surrounding Heath Ledger’s death. As I predicted yesterday, the James Dean comparisons are a-flying.

Also, this enigmatic incident: when someone told Jack Nicholson about Ledger’s death, Jack said: “I warned him.”

Warned him of what? That he ought to die before he gets old enough to make a shitshow like The Bucket List?

Playwrights in furs

Listening to: “Adventures Close to Home” – The Raincoats

Ah, my dear goitery little blog. My little dancing-ground for getting my writing muscle pumping when it won’t go on its own. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, considering I’ve been writing my guts out all week. Ugh. I don’t know if I can keep up at this pace–4 or 5 plays a week, articles for all of them, plus DVD and CD reviews and a preview piece here and there; plus fielding 6 conference calls with writers in cities all over the fucking country, then amassing all their blurbs and editing them and… christ.

Lately, I think the universe is trying to tell me something. This week, I’ve run into a ridiculous amount of people from my past. I mean, who’d figure on my old GeVa Summer Academy teacher showing up in a touring production of Spamalot? Or my old fight director in the crowd at The Misanthrope after party. Or my college acting professor emailing me out of the blue. Or running into half the ol’ grad acting program at The Little Dog Laughed.

Small world, or small theater world?

I was talking to Meron about how I’d always wanted to get a staged reading of this one-act play I wrote in college, and he told me about this thing called the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. A bunch of playwrights shooting the shit and getting their new works read….. in the Alaskan wilderness! During the summer solstice, when the sun’s out 24/7!

So I figure, what the hell. I’ll submit Thanksgiving and see if they bite. Everyone loves pterodactyls and incest, right? And Alaska…gawd. That would be the hotness. Well, the coldness. The frozen wilderness, and mooses, and playwrights!

*busts out Eskimo gear*

K, ’nuff ranting for now. More coffee, and more writing. Pinter isn’t gonna deconstruct himself, after all.

Well, actually–he probably would. Maybe I’ll just let him do that.

Channeling

Listening to: “The Time of Times” – Badly Drawn Boy

Haven’t written in the past few days, cause I’ve been angry and ranting at people a lot. And frustration doesn’t make for very good blog posts.

buffy401_385.jpg

XANDER: ‘Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to anger.’ No wait, hold on. ‘Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side.’ Hold on, no, umm, ‘First you get the women, then you get the money, then you…’ Okay, can we forget that?

BUFFY: Thanks for the Dadaist pep talk, I feel much more abstract now.

Oh, Joss Whedon. How dearly we need you to swoop in and save television from itself. But I digress, as I so often do. I’m blogging again because, well, I have a deadline. And I’m procrastinating. That’s why I started this damnable thing in the first place.

I’ve seen five plays this week, and interviewed an actor, and I’m seeing five more next week, and interviewing a director. And an artist. And the beat goes on…

Basically I’m busy lately, for super-cereal. And I’m, to be politic about it, very dissatisfied–with the state of Boston journalism at the moment. But like I said, the beat goes on…

Saving graces = light substance abuse, bitching to friends, and Flight of the Conchords. God, that show is funny.

I tried playing basketball yesterday. That was funny, too.

Blech. Okay. *Steels self* Time for another round of article-writing and another cup of coffee. Or a beer, maybe. Maybe both.

On the road again…

Well, not exactly “on the road.” More like, “on the other side of the office again.” My desk has been re-moved back to where I was this summer. No more watching the sun set out the window, or listening to the mysterious other guys in the corner butt heads about obscure things.

I do wish I was on the road, though. Walking Tucker this morning, in the relative heat of an unseasonably warm January, I caught a whiff of something indefinable that made me think of London. It actually made my heart pull a little. I gotta get out of town, dude. And not to New York, or DC, or Rochester, or Vermont, which are the only other places I ever go lately. I mean like the fuck off the East Coast. Smell some different air. Realign my perspective.

Last night after seeing a show, I stopped in for a pizza slice. While I was eating, I overheard one of the most inane conversations I’ve ever been privy to. This guy and a girl, apparently on a date, discussing…condiments. Seriously. It’d be a full minute on ketchup, two minutes on mustard, and just when I think they’re done, the guy’s like, “So what do you think of mayonnaise?”

Then it hit me: this is why I hate going on dates! Because they’re inane and awful! Absurd little mating dances where nobody learns anything real about the other person, and you come across as the lamest possible version of yourself. Still, I can’t think of a better solution.

Can YOU?

Inquiring Cookie Monsters want to know.

Election ’08: Who’s the changiest?

Hey y’all. Welcome to the other side of yesterday. Also known as: today.

So how about those New Hampshire debates? Saturday night found me huddled around my friend’s TV with at least 20 other people and at least 5 times as many beers, jeering at Huckabee and groaning at Hillary. Let me first say that I HATE politics. Violently so. I only pay attention when I absolutely have to, and a presidential election counts as having to. Dammit.

We made a little drinking game out of the Democrats’ debate. One swig for every time anyone said the word “change,” two swigs for “hope.” It was beyond absurd how many times they said “change.” Here’s the debate, in summation:

OBAMA: I would just like to say that I like change. Change change change.

HILLARY: Yeah, but you don’t like change half as much as I do.

EDWARDS: Bitch, please. I am for hardcore the changiest!

HILLARY: Oh yeah? Where does it say changiest on your record? Cause my record says it at least 4 jillion, if not 5 jillion, times.

HILLARY Unfolds a long ream of paper. Cut to CHELSEA in the audience, smiling angelically. Cut to RICHARDSON, on the verge of tears.

RICHARDSON: Can you guys shut up?

OBAMA: Hush, fat man in the corner. I need to further tell you how changey I am. Once, I changed this one thing SO HARD, it cried.

HILLARY: Oh really, Barack? Cause I could have sworn you changed your opinion on change. How can someone who keeps changing his mind be truly committed to change?

EDWARDS: That’s wicked petty, Hil. Petty, and anti-changey.

HILLARY: Oh, so now you’re taking his side?

EDWARDS: Hey, I’m just standing up for middle-class America.

OBAMA: (singing) Screw the middle classes! I will never accept them! My father’s other family were middle class, and we were kept out of sight, hidden from view, at his funeral…

HILLARY: This display of Lloyd-Webberizing is utterly uncalled for, Barack.

OBAMA: Only people who, like me, believe in change, can really understand Evita on a deeper level. Eva Paron? Changey! Barack Obama? Changey! (Bangs fists on podium) I think I’ve made my point.

RICHARDSON: Could we maybe, um, talk about the economy or something?

EDWARDS: Did anyone just hear a whisper on the wind?

HILLARY: Don’t be foolish, John. We’re indoors. Besides, we’re deviating from the subject at hand—that I, Hillary Clinton, am the changiest. For example—

She begins reading from the ream of paper, but is cut off by OBAMA and EDWARDS singing and dancing to David Bowie’s “Changes.” HILLARY joins in, but repeatedly and purposely stomps on OBAMA’s feet. RICHARDSON sighs heavily and buries his head in his hands.

BLACKOUT.

For a much more relevant take on the debates, check out Chris Faraone’s awesome coverage on the Weekly Dig‘s blog.

Oh, and one more thing: is it just me, or does Ron Paul look like Ian McKellen’s soulless evil twin? Check it out. Here’s Sir Ian:

And here’s Ron:

Those eyes. So black. *Shudders*

V-A-R-J-A-K.

Listening to: “I Wish I was the Moon” – Neko Case

IT’S A NEW CENTURY!!!

No wait…that’s completely untrue. Rousing though, innit? Well happy new year anyway, bitchez. New Year’s Eve was punctuated by my ultra-schmexy hacking cough and snot-expelling, not to mention licking up fingerfulls of flaming Aftershock. Sounds a bit poetic, but I assure you I’m speaking literally–actual skeazy cinnamon liqueur on actual fire.

I rewatched Breakfast at Tiffany’s yesterday, for the first time in a few years. It’s always been one of my favorite movies, but this time around it hit me on a completely different level. When I first saw it I was maybe about 14. I was staying at my sister’s high-rise apartment on 6th Avenue, with the Chrysler building grinning at me out the window. Back then, it was to me a confirmation that New York was indeed as fabulous as I had always thought. Life was hadn’t yet begun, and I was on the cusp of everything.

The second time was when I was 16 or 17, at a theater back home that showed old movies. There was a lecturer who came up to speak about it beforehand, and he said some analytical stuff about the movie. I don’t remember what it was, but for some reason it distressed my mushy high school brain. “Audrey Hepburn’s pretty! She hosts cool parties! ‘Nuff said! Fuck off with your academic knowledge!” — said 16-year-old me.

I don’t remember the next time I saw it, but I do remember sometime in college that I went to actual Tiffany’s for the first time. I was with a friend toward whom I had no romantic feelings, but the dude behind the counter probably thought we were scoping out engagement rings or somesuch. I half-hoped to find a sterling silver telephone dialer, but no such luck.

But watching it yesterday was like… something new. I always liked the characters, for their distant quirks and general 1960s wackiness. But Holly Golightly never really made sense to me before. Her motives seemed unfounded and absurd. Why not just say fuck it and settle down with Paul, thought I in times past.

But now, I get it. I totally and completely get Holly’s neuroses. Her fear of commitment, her looming specter of urban poverty, her need to cover the emptiness of her life with a thick layer of glitz and mystique. And most of all, how she always wants to run away from everything.

Not to mention all the people at the party… that scene where the drunk woman’s laughing at her reflection in a mirror, and the next time they show her, she’s crying? She watches the mascara run down her own cheeks, presses her palm to the glass. Hit me so hard.

Holly and Paul are my age now, not distant images of a glamorous future. And the older I get, the less glamorous they seem. Instead, they’re real. Fleshy.

“I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”

S’true, Holly. S’true.