Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Postmodernism

Palm Sunday - Cory and I went to the gym and now she's at a brunch in Brooklyn with some friends, and I'm left to my own devices. Not a bad thing. Made a brunch of my own, worked on the place a little bit, brought out that print from the West New York Book Arts Collaborative I want to get framed, prepped for an audition, and realized a theory that the world may have been created as a result of the Adagio movement of Brahms' Violin Concerto in D. As I was doing the dishes. It's possible that I've been thinking too much about Godel in the wake of Einstein's birthday. Or that I've been thinking too much about Lost.

I also downloaded my most recent batch of photos from rehearsals for Post Modern Living. And here they are, for your viewing pleasure:

Here's Chris, complete with super-bitchin CBGB baseball shirt, embodying the spirit guide of our central character.

Speaking of whom, here is Richard/Mitch being guided by Chris/Louis through the imponderable mysteries of aging.

Here's Heather, guiding us all through the whole thing.

Another view of Richard and Chris' scene.

And another view of Heather - here she is reading in for Frank, who couldn't make it to this rehearsal. Really like this shot.

See, a good stage manager makes all the difference to a show. Moves things along, keeps people on the ball, solves problems you can't even imagine, oftentimes even before they rear their heads. And in some cases, they even volunteer to take on additional tasks that have nothing to do with the job description - like using a pain-in-the-ass actor's camera to shoot the scenes that said actor needs to be, you know, on stage for. And to shoot gems like this one of your truly - looking, I don't know, darkly annoyed or something.

Here are a couple of the other pics she took:

This one really gives a sense of these rehearsals: the detritus on the Director's/SM's table; the ad hoc furniture; the fluorescent fixtures lending their unnatural glow to the natural light flowing in through the windows; the big old room, full of life and history in all the cracks and creaks.

Note Jenny there on the floor. She's not actually acting in the show (though she is instrumental to the production, gathering props and helping with all manner of on- and off-stage elements), but Briana couldn't be at this rehearsal either, and so she dove right in, floor-lying and all. And her acting was really good too! Very cool - thanks Jenny!

Last but not least, I'm not sure what's going on here - no one appears to be speaking and Cathy is writing in her script, which might indicate that we're getting direction or making an adjustment of some sort - but I do like this shot.

So there it is. That's all for now. I'm listening to Jesus Christ Superstar as I write this, in honor of the holiday. Very excited for the Indian Passover Seder I'm going to with Cory and Kim on Tuesday. We're going to a book release party this afternoon, but will have to leave early to catch some important basketball action, which I am not going to discuss until all is said and done.

Happy Palm Sunday, everybody.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What a Week

Basketball, Health Care Reform passage, signage, re-writage and re-passage, Show-going (South Pacific shoutout), Rehearsal, Photo Shoot, Audition Line-up and Prep, SAG paperwork, Doctor, Dayjob dayjob dayjob, Family, Birthdays, Lost, Music, Reading & Writing, Gym, Cooking, Friends, more Basketball and not enough sleep.

Hello weekend.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Happy 100th Birthday Akira Kurosawa.

What the hell else do I really have to say? He was one of the great minds/eyes of his time - but you already knew that. So just go out and watch Rashomon, or Yojimbo, or The Seven Samurai, or Ran, or Throne of Blood, or any of his films. And then, maybe don't see any 'regular' studio movies for a little while - they'll seem kind of silly.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Home Cookin'

Different kind of visual stimulation today.

That would be the gluten-free pizza I made last night, as shot by my less-than-ideal cell phone camera. 'Twas a fine creation, if I may say so: garbanzo and brown rice flour crust, yummy garlic-and-onion-rich sauce, mushrooms, kalamata olives, red peppers, anchovies, and first-rate fresh mozzerella.

But the real reason it is photogenic (other than that I was feeling extra-special visual artistic having seen Red and The Jackie Look this weekend) is that butcher block beneath the pie.

Since I've been spending more time at her place and in her kitchen, Cory and I have taken to making it over in some pretty bitchin ways: the pots and pans, the peg board, the coffee renaissance. And now this: Cory moved the gear that had been on her cube/modules, we took the measurements, did some extensive comparison shopping and finally Cory had a wood shop in Ohio cut us this fine piece of maple to the exact specs we needed for a fab work space in our ever-evolving food lab. The pie you see before you was the first (relatively) major test for the butcher block, and it handled it like a champ. That bottle of rioja went very nicely with the feast, I might add. And while Cory thinks that the power outlet there compromises the photo, I'd like to point out that it came in very handy indeed when I was mixing the dough.

All hail stylish functional New York Kitchens!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Post Modern Living

That being the show I'm now rehearsing on Great Jones, going up at La MaMa in the middle of next month. Written by and starring Richard Sheinmel, it centers on the life of a performance artist named Mitch and various characters in his life.

We've been encouraged to bring cameras to rehearsal and shoot the goings-on. So, here's a very early look:

Richard , the Serious Artist.

Briana, the Raconteur. (Raconteuse? I don't know.) Gotta love the thrift store Celtics jacket.

From left, Stage Manager Heather, Director Jason, Playwright/Actor Richard, with Briana bringing up the background.

Catherine conferring.

This is the shot of the day: the hands of the playwright/revisions as they happen.

One more of Richard - the lighting is blown out, but I like it anyway.

Ok, there are two more actors who haven't been represented yet (three if you count me.) Plus the composer and the music director. More to come...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ave Atque Vale Alex

From the Box Tops to Big Star and beyond, Alex Chilton was one of the all time go-to guys for power pop and catchy hooks. [Do click on that link, if only to watch the video of "The Letter," with the Box Tops treating lip-synching like the ridiculous joke it is.] We lost him yesterday to a heart attack, and that's way too sad. 59 years old, in the midst of a Big Star reunion (which he may or may not have actually bothered to show up for) and a(nother) resurgence, complete with re-packaged/mastered discography. I had the great good luck to catch him sitting in with Yo La Tengo a couple years ago: one of my Great Moments in Music. I don't think I have any images of that event, but I'll scour the laptop at home to see for sure. Meanwhile, here's this one from the internets, showing the man we knew and loved.

Also, check out this tribute by Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone. Beyond the obvious choices like the Replacements and R.E.M., I'd argue that Alex/Big Star had a huge influence on The Feelies, Let's Active, They Might Be Giants and other bands who extend the Chilton influence to an astounding proportion. And I'd wager that if there's an afterlife, Doug Fieger is now toasting with Alex and thanking him for paving the yellow brick road for the Knack. Hopefully, Chris Bell is in on that toast...

Now let me go home and dig up that copy of Like Flies on Sherbert.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Lincoln Center Fountain, the night of New Year's Day

Cory and I had juts bought our Carmen tickets. 'Twas a fine day.

Click on the pic.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Alec, Steve and Oscar

Ok, I'll weigh in just a little.

The opening number would have worked if it had been funnier. But it wasn't.

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were good - very funny pros who did their homework and went to rehearsal. Makes a big difference. Some of the roast-y jokes got kind of old, but I love that Steve had enough presence to do things like save the awful moment in the wake of Geoffrey Fletcher's muddy acceptance for Adapted Screenplay (did he really neglect to mention Sapphire, who wrote the novel he adapted into his now-Oscar-winning script??) with a zinger: "I wrote that speech for him."

The interpretive dance would have had to be unbelievably extraordinary to work. I mean, Martha Graham-resurrected-from-the-grave good. And guess what? Martha Graham didn't rise from the dead.

Speaking of death - how could they leave Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur out of the Death Medley?? At long last, have they no sense of decency?

Meryl Streep is a goddess walking among us. She took all that borderline nasty material and just made it funnier with her reaction. George Clooney did a great job as Active Audience Member too (though I suspect he was at one of the rehearsals.)

All the best actor and actress noms getting stroked by their former co-stars, directors, mentors etc. was painful to watch. Really.

That said, I think that Oprah saying what she said last night may have helped Gabourey Sidibe's career more than an actual Oscar would have.

And that's saying something.

Catherine Bigelow breaking down the gender barrier (and Avatar not getting a titanic sweep): Two big thumbs up.

The orchestra playing "I Am Woman" as she walked offstage: major motherf*cking thumbs down.

I mean - really??

Ok, this all is reading a little bitchier than I like to be. But if you can't make fun of the Oscars, what can you make fun of?

On the whole, it was a good, fun Oscar broadcast, and I had the great good fortune to watch it at two fun parties (and Cory and I even picked the perfect moment to subway between the two of them). I do not trust that the votes were counted accurately at the party we left, but hope that Kim, the "winner," buys Cory's lunch today...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Winter Weekend - the Continuing Adventures of Marguerite

When last we saw our noble heroine she was facing the elements in her new do, pimped out in every sense of the word by Dustin.

Here she is seen from the house above.

The gals made her a name plate while there was a walk further out onto the lake (you knew that all this was taking place on a frozen lake, right?)

Her nickname was made official by twigs in the snow.

Some images from the lake walk:

Snowmobile tracks.

Shadows of our crew.

Finished creating his woman of the night, Dustin worked on inscribing his own name in the snow in a poignant moment melding the permanent and the fleeting.

The sun sinking on our endeavors.

There was more sledding; Aaron whipped Shannon around on a little snow saucer, to universal delight.

The light caught Lora nicely as we got ready to go upstairs.

But Jacquie had a pensive moment as we left Margie to her own devices...

We went up to the house and had an evening of fun and frolic. We played a game called Ex Libris (which, beside being fun, provided the opportunity for that first photo I posted here last week.) We played a couple games of Celebrity, which was a new experience for Lora. Won her over, as it wins over pretty much everyone. We had a delicious meal of grilled tuna steak and tilapia, couscous and salad. We used the phrase "That's what she said!" a ridiculous number of times. We finished the bottle of Jameson and did a good job on the wine and beer too.

Before going to bed, I went out to the porch and saw Margie, alone in the darkness after whatever she'd been through that evening.

Was Jacquie right to have been concerned earlier? Had Dustin thrown our Marguerite to the wolves, while we amused ourselves inside? Had we failed in the responsibility creators should have for that which they create?

These questions were between Margie and the moon. We ended the night keeping those thoughts at bay, rolling out the cot and sinking into the sofa. The next morning we made coffee and Lora made french toast and we played a tie-breaking round of Celebrity. Marguerite made it into the game as a celebrity name. Was that enough? Had she transcended her tawdry beginnings? Had we redeemed ourselves in her eyes and the eyes of the world?

The last shot of tequila was sacrificed to the gods.


For a quick break from the Tales of the Delaware Water Gap, let me pose this Actual Question that I Would Love an Answer To:

We appear to be moving toward an actual vote on a health care bill, presumably based on Obama's merging of the House and Senate bills. There are many final details to be worked out, including some troubling possibilities having to do with mandates and restrictions on abortion rights, but in theory that is what committees are for. There is also a growing sense that it is a given that Congress will use the procedure of reconciliation to tie the bill to a larger budget proposal to avoid the threat of a filibuster.

SO - while I freely admit that reconciliation is a legitimate means of advancing policy, a method that's been used many times in the past, my question is this: why is (or is not) reconciliation better than bringing the final bill (whatever it turns out to be) to a vote, thus making the GOP go through the actual process of a filibuster - which is difficult, time-consuming and politically risky - rather than sitting back and letting a lazy threat do the obstructing for them?


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Winter Weekend - the Legend of Marguerite, part one.

Ok, very late entry, but a while ago I went out to the Delaware Water Gap for a short weekend-o-fun with Aaron and Shannon. Jacquie and I drove out Saturday morning - nice to have such lovely company! - and I came back on Sunday afternoon in time to make dinner with my sister. In between those drives were a lot of great food, plenty of drink, games of various shapes and sizes, and some good old winter frolicking.

So without further ado, here's the visual representation of the occasion.

First, portraits of our hosts:


and Shannon

Dustin and Lora had been there since the night before, with a couple other guests who left before we arrived. So Jacquie and I had a period of acclimation before the serious merry-making began. Aaron regaled us with tales of the strange and wonderful as we had a chili lunch.

Then we went outside for fun in the snow. There is a hill beside the house that we used as a tricky-to-navigate but not too perilous sled run. Don't have any shots of that as I was too busy trying to steer various sleds around trees, bushes, posts and water mains to take photos.

Then the creative forces took over, and it was decided that a snowman must be created.

'Twas a group effort, naturally.

It was soon decided that our creation was to be a snowwoman rather than snowman.

Dustin took it upon himself to fashion the gender characteristics:

He presented himself as a self-styled breast-whisperer, but I suspect he had more insidious plans in mind...

And while Dustin was snowboob obsessed, Lora worked on other body parts.

She started to take on a life of her own early on.

Finishing the hat.

Taking shape.

Shannon's artistry was essential. Note the pasties - Dustin was not alone in the cause of tarting her up.

We recognized that her arms were a little outsized, and Jacquie took on the job of performing the needed surgery.

I leave it to you to interpret the nature of the closeness Aaron was going for.

At this point, there was some general discussion of the direction this gal was going in. Was she on the path to degradation? Could she attain glory? And what about that hat?

Some more snowcrafting took place, and for a while we were in the realm of the fantastic. Jacquie gave up her scarf, extravagent ears blossomed, and there was even the appearance of a horn:

I think it was Lora who exclaimed: "She's a Vulcan Unicorn!" But Shannon put an end to that with a quick "Duh... There's no such thing."

In the end, Dustin had his way and sexualized glamor won out. He and Jacquie conspired to create the perfect coif and celebrate a triumphant debut for our newly sprung snow nymph, whose name turned out to be Marguerite, or Margie for short.

Making magic.

Ready to take on the world.

That's it for now. Tune in tomorrow for more on this fab weekend, and the continued Tales of Margie...