collisionwork: (boring)
Ian & I Really Connected

Why THANK you, Mary Worth's Tobey, for the kind words!

Cutting Apart the August 2009 Set

Yesterday we loaded the last of all of our stuff from this year's shows out of The Brick, and the August 2009 shows are now a memory.
A Few Problems With the Strike
And, as always, when we close a show (or 4, as now) I immediately come down with something, so I've been sniffing and coughing for much of today -- it's like my immune system holds out until I get a day to relax, and then the whole furshlugginer thing collapses.
Slicing Up PVC Pipe
Anyway, we have a couple of days before going off to Robert Honeywell & Moira Stone's wedding upstate, so we can rest and I can get well, somewhat.
PVC to Cut and Throw Away

And then onward to directing Trav S.D.'s show in November and planning next year's shows, including our Wedding-Show in June (we seem to have gotten the reception restaurant taken care of now, so that's a big part out of the way) and Spacemen from Space and . . . one other show in August -- I'm researching the rights situation on the show I WANT to do currently -- it looks to be a mess, as it's a British play from 1960 that has been out of print in the States for years, with no immediate indication of who actually controls the US rights. We'll see. (Oh, whoops, just checked the Samuel French site and THEY have it - $75 a performance; about standard)

I'm also currently obsessed with the films of Powell & Pressburger, Jean-Luc Godard, and Universal Pictures' monster series from 1931-1946 in ways that suggest there's something I need to be doing with/about them on stage (not together, I would think, but you never know), but it hasn't come clear yet. More watching is needed . . .

And here's today's Random Ten out of 25,537 in the iPod, with associated links, where I could find them (not all of them this week - some pretty obscure songs this week):

1. "I Was Wrong" - Gene "Bowlegs" Miller - Legacy Of Gene "Bowlegs" Miller
2. "Just" - Radiohead - The Bends
3. "Hey, Sweet Baby" - The Loose Ends - Sixties Rebellion Vol 3-The Auditorium
4. "Egg or the Hen" - Koko Taylor - What It Takes (The Chess Years)
5. "I Have Been to Heaven and Back" - The Mekons - The Mekons Rock'N'Roll
6. "I Was Born A Brownskin And You Can't Make Me Blue" - Priscilla Stewart - Complete Recorded Works
7. "Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On" - Ringo Starr - I Wanna Be Santa Claus
8. "Holiday On Ice" - The Nits - New Flat
9. "Hummingbirds (demo version)" - Love - Forever Changes
10. "Father and Son" - Johnny Cash with Fiona Apple - Unearthed

No new cat photos today, but I've been trying to decide on a picture of me and one or both of the little monsters to send to the Men and Cats site, and narrowed it down to 5, all but one consisting of Hooker enjoying his habit of standing or lying on me whenever he can (the other a nice naptime shot that also contains Moni)

These cover, chronologically, the last 4 years, starting with Hooker interrupting my reading of the newspaper in 2005 (back when I still read hard copy papers):
More Important Than Paper

And the following year, he thinks he deserves more attention than my book:
More Important Than Book

And a few days later, as I have a nice nap with the boy, the jealous girl climbs on my back:
Nap Time

In 2007, another nap has someone joining in:
Hooker Rules Papa's Nap

And last year, Hooker decides that I'm of more use as a standing place than writing the script I'm trying to get through:
Ian Is Hooker's Perch

And, as I was trying to write this post, he just jumped on me and demanded attention, and I was able to get a shot of us with the computer's camera, so I now have a 2009 shot . . .
9:4:09 Photo Booth - IWH & Hooker

And (courtesy of LP Cover Lover) sometimes I think a man of the cloth has the RIGHT IDEA:
The Whole Church Should Get Drunk

collisionwork: (Selector)
And now it's down to the last 7 performances: 3 for Sacrificial Offerings, 2 for George Bataille's Bathrobe and 1 each for Blood on the Cat's Neck and A Little Piece of the Sun. Looking forward to many things at this point -- the final, excellent performances (I hope), the bigger houses (I hope), and having the month done with (I know). If you're planning on coming, get your tickets now, they're going fast (especially for Blood and Piece).

Then, a rest for a few weeks, and then onward to directing Trav S.D.'s comedy Kitsch at Theatre for the New City for November, and planning next year's shows, including the June production of The Wedding of Ian W. Hill & Berit Johnson. Because of that June show, I was only going to do ONE August show next year (the still-germinating Spacemen from Space), but I've been more and more inclined to a matched set of that wild comedy plus a big, nasty, depressing historical drama, maybe with the exact same cast in rep. I won't mention what the drama I'm thinking of is just yet, but it would be a clearer, in-your-face view of the themes of anti-intellectualism and religious repression that underlie Spacemen.

But that's next year . . .

This August has been a really positive experience, probably the happiest for Berit and I of all our work, and we're slightly at a loss now as to how to continue it and build on it from here. Berit says we learn two or three things every year in our work as to how to improve things for next year, and we surely have, but none of them this year is "how to keep the new audience you've gotten and get more." Whenever I think I've learned that lesson, I've been wrong. It's not blind chance that some things hit and others don't, but it's vision-impaired chance, to be sure.

Just to keep up with noting all the press appearances, there's an interview with Bill Weeden about Bathrobe at Broadway, and Aaron Riccio of That Sounds Cool, who previously didn't very much like Piece and Blood (mainly because of the scripts), now somewhat likes Bathrobe and really dislikes Offerings. [UPDATE: I almost forgot Adam McGovern's kind words on Blood over at] Interesting reactions all around, from the Press and the Audiences. There are people who like, REALLY like, each of the shows, but I'm not sure if there's very many who like (or would like) all four except me and Berit. Ah, well. It's a month of shows that does what I wanted it to do, about as well as I'd like. I can stand by them.

And if you're an audience member who's seen any of the shows, and hasn't voted for us in the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, PLEASE DO. All four shows are registered. It means a lot to me.

And meanwhile, back in the iPod, here's the weekly Random Ten from the 25,563 tracks in there today (with associated links, where available):

1. "Boredom" - Mitch Ryder - The Detroit-Memphis Experiment
2. "That's My Girl" - Monks - Black Monk Time
3. "Her Mind Is Gone" - Professor Longhair - Big Chief
4. "Sous Le Soleil Exactement" - Eyvind Kang - Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg
5. "Sober Driver" - Dengue Fever - Venus On Earth
6. "Rock on the Moon" - The Cramps - Songs the Lord Taught Us
7. "Getting Into The Jam" - Electric Six - Fire
8. "Rap-o Clap-o" - Joe Bataan - Hot Retro Summer - Lazar's Lounge
9. "Garbage Can Ballet" - Harry Nilsson - Skidoo
10. "Bristol And Miami" - The Selecter - Celebrate The Bullet

I have no new cat pictures today, and the little bastards are hiding and sleeping where I can't find them right now, so I can't shoot any.

So, instead, some videos I've enjoyed this past week (if you're reading this on Facebook, you have to click on "See Original Post" to see these) -- a whole load from Brian Auger & The Trinity with Julie Driscoll, all from '68 (it looks like they were all shot in the same soundstage the same day), starting with a long Donovan cover:

And this next one was the "hit," I think -- years later, Driscoll re-recorded it with Adrian Edmondson as the theme for Absolutely Fabulous -- here, Driscoll sings Dylan as she wanders through a field of Readymades:

From faux-Duchamp to faux-Pop (can there be such a thing?) with "Break It Up":

They seem to have blown their budget on set pieces by this point, and have to move on to different lighting and fast editing for "Shadows of You":

They're down to lines on the floor and turntables by the time of "Road to Cairo":

Ah, but they call in the backup dancers for Brian Auger's big moment in the sun, "Black Cat":

And just because I watched this and now can't get the song out of my head, here's a neat animation someone did as a school project for Le Tigre's "Deceptacon":

Well, back to puttering about and errand-running before this evening's shows . . .

collisionwork: (Default)
Ah, a quiet day at home in between show days . . . and then an easy week from Tuesday to Friday of one show a night, all shows now running smoothly and beautifully (and needing bigger houses . . .).

I continue to be SO proud of this group of shows I can't tell you. And they just get better and better, for the most part (notes are still, of course, occasionally needed). Maybe we'll get the houses we deserve this week, maybe finally the next and last week. Whatever, we are at least getting enough people to always make them worth doing, and I'm pleased with the audience reaction, so I'm, for once, happy with the work and glad to have it going.

But now, what to do with this day? Music? I'm almost done with my chronological listen to Steely Dan 1972-1980, which has been terrific morning relaxation music this last week. Berit and I generally listen to more "caffeinated" or "speedy" kinds of music - we generally like music that makes you edgy and jumpy and you grind your teeth and want to MOVE - so some "downer surrealism," as Zappa referred to Dan, has been a more pleasant, quaalude-y way to ease into the day; smooth, but with still enough of an edge and levels of irony to be listenable. Maybe some movies, or all the episodes of some TV show? Dunno. Not going out, that's for sure.

In any case, B's still sleeping, and I'm relaxed.

Oh, and here's a nice find of the morning, some videos of David Bowie's 1979 appearance on Saturday Night Live that I've wanted to see for YEARS and YEARS - where he's backed up vocally by Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias, thanks to Ian Zamboni over at Zamboni Soundtracks (and remember, if you're reading this in the Facebook repost, you won't see the videos and will have to check the original post for them). Here's the first number, "The Man Who Sold the World":

And here's the later two songs from the same show -- and DAMMIT, I've had to put them behind a cut (sorry), as I can't turn off the autoplay on the video. I've been wanting to see this disturbing blue-screen version of "Boys Keep Swinging" for over 20 years, since I first heard about it, and whoa, here it is . . .

Bowie, Nomi, Arias do 'TVC15' & 'Boys Keep Swinging' )

And for fun, here's the original video of "Boys Keep Swinging" that caused the song, which had been rising up the charts as a single in the UK, to suddenly drop down those same charts the day after it aired on British TV, as the bitter irony of the song was made a little more clear to the audience, which had been taking the lyrics of the song at face value . . .

(for Bowie fanatics -- the clearer, non-embeddable, official EMI YouTube of the video is HERE and a cool alternate version of Bowie doing the song live on the same Kenny Everett Video Show set, without the drag sections, is HERE)

Okay, time for the leftover bread from yesterday's Little Piece with some cloudberry and gooseberry jam. A nice day.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
This week, thus far, has been one of the most pleasantly boring much of the time of any I can remember.

After all the agita of getting the shows together to open last week, we are now pretty much settled on all of them, and can spend our days sitting back and relaxing until it's time to go to the theatre and run a show, remembering whatever disposable props we have to buy anew or get ready for the evening show (different shows need certain props that have to be prepared each time as they are used up or destroyed in them -- fresh bread, olives, chocolate-covered cherries, a vintage photo, a 1985 Ukrainian Communist Party Card, sliced cucumber, fake liquor, incense, 78 rpm records to be smashed, and, for one show, a big pile of blood squibs).

This will change a bit starting tonight for the next few days as we run more than one show a day -- two tonight and Sunday, three tomorrow -- but we're pretty together on what we need to do and get done. And next week we have ONE show a night from Tuesday through Friday. That's NOTHING!

So now I'm getting antsy enough at home waiting for the show each day (and worrying that there's something I need to do for it, which there isn't) that I'm actually getting some massively necessary housecleaning done.

And I mean that literally. Every year, as we do the shows, our apartment becomes a horrifyingly squalid mess as we use the place just for sleeping and working between theatre time -- and this past year, we were busy enough that we never really did the top-to-bottom Fall and Spring cleanings we had in previous years, so the place is pretty awful right now, but I'm now full of enough nervous energy that I should have it cleaned up by September. Maybe. Well, I got part of the kitchen done . . .

This morning, prior to the Random Ten, I've been chilling with the first three Steely Dan albums and going over the various press and notices the shows have received as yet . . .

I've already mentioned the fine fine superfine notice of George Bataille's Bathrobe by Michael Mraz at Nice. He liked it. Even better, he GOT it.

We now have -- and it has made some of the cast quite happy, of course -- a mostly-good, and reads-better-at-first-than-it-really-is-if-you-read-it-again-closely notice from Rachel Saltz in the New York Times (!!!) for George Bataille's Bathrobe and Blood on the Cat's Neck. She seems to have generally liked them both, but preferred the Fassbinder. Some stuff I don't agree with, of course, and almost no usable pull quotes (maybe "a wry dinginess"?), but she actually helped me understand a bit more consciously WHY these four plays this year, and how they go together (that is, under one of my three main repeated obsessional themes that I'm just beginning to understand exist, "The Treachery of Language" - the other two, as I think of them now, are "The Heroism of 'NO'," and "Figure on Ground: Man In and Against The City").

Aaron Riccio at That Sounds Cool didn't really like either Blood on the Cat's Neck nor A Little Piece of the Sun. S'cool. His problems mostly seem to be with the texts, with some additional quibbles (some of which are probably justified). Don't agree with him in general, of course, still. So it goes. Some nice amplifications from Aaron and George Hunka in the comments there, too (maybe I should have noted that while Fassbinder's Phoebe is obviously slightly inspired by the O'Donoghue/Frank Springer comic character - and I slightly based the image of mine on theirs - she's still a VERY different character, even down to the name -- the original character has a hyphenated last name: "Phoebe Zeit-Geist.")

Apart from reviews, Matthew Freeman simply had a nice little blurb about the Times piece (and thanks again), and Martin Denton at the nytheatre i lists us among the OTHER theatre things to do in NYC right now apart from the Fringe (thank you, thank you, thank you, Martin). And PennywiseNYC (cheap things to do, or recommendations from an Evil Clown?) had an entry on us as a good cheap cultural thing to do in NYC.

And hey, wow, I just checked the ticket site and we're actually selling some tickets today! And, of course, mainly for the two shows reviewed by the Times. Eeep. Hope someone will actually come to the shows of Sacrificial Offerings. That's going to be the poor little orphan this year.

You can get tickets online for the shows HERE.

Discount packages for multiple shows can be found HERE.

If you're around in NYC, please come on by to whatever sounds interesting. It is.

Meanwhile, let's have a Random Ten again, as we missed last week's. So what comes out of the 25,608 tracks in there today?

1. "Lucky Day" - Tom Waits - The Black Rider
2. "Just Another Fool" - The Abused - Loud and clear 7" EP
3. "Smelly Tongues" - Snakefinger - Eyesore: A Stab At The Residents
4. "Battle of the Planets—Main Title" - Hoyt Curtain - Battle of the Planets
5. "Flash, Crash And Thunder" - The Farmer Boys - Hillbilly Music...Thank God! Volume 1
6. "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" - Elvis Presley - The Complete 50's Masters
7. "Gotta Great Big Shovel" - Sammy Davis Jr. (as Shorty Muggins) - Laughin' At The Blues - A Hilarious And Scurrilous Collision Of R&B And Comedy Like You've Never Heard!
8. "Pêches à la Crème" - Dorine - Ultra Chicks Vol 6: Vous Dansez Mademoiselle
9. "Her Majesty" - The Beatles - Abbey Road
10. "Yellow Girl (Stand By For Life)" - Yoko Ono - Onobox 3: Run, Run, Run

And the kitties haven't been all that happy with us for being away in recent weeks (often leaving them at home at 9.00 am and returning home at 2.30 am for days on end), so they've been all over us this week as we've been home. They've also been crazy. Here they are, playing with, and breaking, a blind in the living room:
Hooker & Moni Discuss Blinds

Not so crazy? Look at these eyes . . .
Hooker Through the Blinds

Okay, time to start getting ready for a two-show evening. Audience?

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Okay, so, I was finally going to catch up today on a bunch of show- and personal-related stuff now that the four shows are open (and opened quite well they did I may say).

However, I've had to spend much of the morning dealing with canceling tomorrow night's performance of A Little Piece of the Sun due to a death in a performer's family. If the actor had had to miss more than one show I would have asked another actor to step in and do the part with script in hand for as long as needed, but only one show will be missed, and it's silly to go through teaching an actor to walk though the part for the one show, so we're canceling, which means emails and posts galore to try and reach everyone who might show up (though I will still have to be at the space tomorrow to turn away anyone who still comes to see the show).

This is the second time I've had performances of a show cancelled when an actor's parent has died, and it's been a weird, conflicted thing for me both times. The previous time, I was particularly close with the actor, so my pain for him was great, while still feeling upset about the loss of some shows (not helped on that occasion by some audience members yelling at me for some time about not having understudies, and not at all getting that you just DON'T HAVE understudies at this level of theatre, sorry). Now, I'm not as close to the actor, but my own emotions about loss of family members are a bit more bare and ragged, while still caring for the future of my show, so I'm equally conflicted. In any case, we're losing one show, and moving on.

I was also touched that the actor whose father died in that previous show's run also emailed me to ask me to express his condolences to the actor in the current show, which I will.

I now have to redo some sound effects for tonight's show of George Bataille's Bathrobe, so I don't have much more time to go over how great things went this past weekend.

Except to note that Bathrobe got quite the nice review from Michael Mraz at, and a reviewer from the New York Times attended good performances of Bathrobe and Blood on the Cat's Neck, so I have my fingers crossed there.

I will also note how pleased I was that the two blogs that did nice "preview" promo posts for our season and shows were George Hunka's Superfluities Redux, HERE and Trav S.D.'s Travalanche, HERE. Berit and I were both pleased by this as both of these men are erudite and fine scholars of theatre, but George is -- to some peoples' annoyance, perhaps, but rarely mine -- the most intellectual and heavy thinker in the theatrical blogosphere, and Trav S.D. is the populist, baggy-pants vaudevillian. And while I can sometimes, yes, be a bit . . . well, I wouldn't say annoyed, exactly, but both George's intellectualism and Trav's populism can be taken to extremes that at least make me sigh deeply and shake my head, even when I agree with them (more often than not) . . . I'm pleased as punch to have both of them have such kind advance words for GCW's work, as it is the blend of these two theatrical modes of thought that is at the heart of what GCW is trying to do -- the chocolate and peanut butter making up our fine fine superfine peanut butter cups of theatrical invention.

Trav also mentions the idea of volume in what we do, which is indeed an important part of these festivals -- we don't just do multiple plays for the sake of doing them; there are reasons a group of shows goes together, even if we don't realize it ourselves until they're all together and running . . .

So, in lieu of anything more, below is the email I sent to the GCW list this morning to remind them where they can get more info on the shows, as I remind you now as well . . .


The FOUR Gemini CollisionWorks shows at The Brick have opened!

You can read an overview of our August, 2009 season at the theatre's page for The Collisionworks, with easy links to buying tickets online. Including special package deals for multiple shows!

Or you can visit our own company's Facebook page (and feel free to join our group for more info on upcoming events).

Or you can visit our company's individual webpages for each of the four shows, for even more detailed information on each one:

A Little Piece of the Sun by Daniel McKleinfeld

Blood on the Cat's Neck by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

George Bataille's Bathrobe by Richard Foreman

Sacrificial Offerings by David Finkelstein & Ian W. Hill

And hey, there's already a review of George Bataille's Bathrobe, by Michael Mraz at, and he really liked it . . .

The ensemble is superb, showing consistent, energetic commitment to characters that are not always rooted in traditional reality or logic. Coupled with director Ian W. Hill's taut and dynamic staging, each of their absurd characters fits as an equally important piece of the puzzle in Foreman's play and each actor carries that weight with dedication and talent . . . George Bataille's Bathrobe is a unique cacophony of sound, color, and visuals that somehow finds a way to touch its audience in ways that are never quite clear. The entire cast and design team are a credit to this . . . Hill's schizophrenic lighting and offbeat combinations of sound and musical pieces work together with Karen Flood's colorful costumes to create a virtual mindscape . . . At times, Gemini CollisionWorks' staging of George Bataille's Bathrobe seems like only a sea of unrelated words. But it makes you laugh and you can't quite put your finger on why; it tugs your heartstrings and you aren't sure how; and it builds heart-pounding suspense to climaxes that aren't really there . . . Gemini CollisionWorks' vision convey a spectrum of human fears and emotions and take the audience on a journey they will spend hours trying to decipher after leaving the Brick Theatre.

Each show now has only 7 or 8 performances left between now and August 30 -- please don't wait until the last minute! See the links above for all the details you'll need.

We hope to see you at The Brick very soon

Ian W. Hill, arts
Berit Johnson, crafts
Gemini CollisionWorks

GCW Online:
BLOG: CollisonWorks on LiveJournal

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
And I'm (sorta) back and it's (sorta) begun . . .

We opened A Little Piece of the Sun to a nice-sized and appreciative house last night. It's hard to tell what people make of this show -- it kinda hits you in the face with a big load of nastiness and doesn't let up -- but they actually laughed at the (very dark) humor when it was there, and a couple of people, strangers (always nice), were quite effusive in their praise outside afterward.

It was a good performance, but still a hair shaky here and there in spots, often with people so determined to get their lines right that they were jumping in and stepping on other peoples' the moment there was a (deliberate) pause. But it was a start, and a good one. Nothing to be ashamed of, at all. The first performance of thirty-six we're doing this month (nine performances each of the four shows).

More info on Little Piece and the remaining performances at the Facebook page HERE, along with many of the great promo shots taken earlier this week by Mark Veltman. Wow. Here are a few favorites:

At the Funeral of Lenin (Roger Nasser and other company members):
LPOTS - At the Funeral of Lenin
Andrei Chikatilo sees the Light (Tom Reid):
LPOTS - Chikatilo Faces The Light
The interrogation of Chikatilo and Kravchenko (Tom Reid, Fred Backus, Adam Belvo):
LPOTS - Interrogation of Chikatilo & Kravchenko
Portrait of Issa Kostoyev (Gavin Starr Kendall):
LPOTS - Issa Kostoyev
Portrait of Alla Rakova (Alyssa Simon):
LPOTS - Rakova as Agent
Two stories heading for two trials:
LPOTS - Two Trials

Today we open all three of the other shows in our season of works at The Brick, The Collisionworks. I think we're ready, though I'm still not sure if I may be going on today with script in hand for a VERY sick actor.

I still have to finish one of the programs, and Berit and I still need to get to the space early to finish some props and set stuff, but here are the Facebook pages for the other three shows, and some images from each:

Blood on the Cat's Neck by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Info HERE. Some pictures (mine, not as good as Mark's):

Phoebe Zeitgeist (Gyda Arber) enters a new world:
BLOOD - Phoebe In Her New World
The Policeman (Danny Bowes), The Girl (Shelley Ray), and Phoebe:
BLOOD - Policeman, Girl, & Phoebe
The Teacher (Eric C. Bailey) and The Wife (Samantha Mason) argue, with The Butcher (Roger Nasser) nearby:
BLOOD - The Teacher & The Wife
Most of The Company:
BLOOD - Phoebe, Lover, Girl and All

From George Bataille's Bathrobe by Richard Foreman. The costumes for this one are by Karen Flood (Berit and I handled the design of all else on all shows). Info HERE. Pictures:

Frank Norris (Bill Weeden) in his cell:
BATHROBE - Frank In His Cell
The Man From Another Planet (Timothy McCown Reynolds) dances:
BATHROBE - The Man From Another Planet Dances
A confrontation (Timothy McCown Reynolds, Sarah Malinda Engelke, Liza Wade Green, Bill Weeden):
BATHROBE - Man, Myra, Clara & Frank
Frank (Bill Weeden) annoyed by The Dandy Fop (Bob Laine):
BATHROBE - Frank & The Dandy Fop

And finally, you can get info on Sacrificial Offerings, by myself and David Finkelstein, HERE, and here's some images from David's video, Marvelous Discourse, featuring David, myself, and Agnes DeGarron, which makes up half the performance:




Okay, time to finish up the last of the programs and get moving. Three more shows to open in one day. Phew.

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
A reminder and promo . . .


An Annual Presentation of Theatre
from Gemini CollisionWorks

August 7 to 30, 2009

at The Brick
575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC

4 Shows designed and directed by Ian W. Hill
assisted by Berit Johnson


A LITTLE PIECE OF THE SUN by Daniel McKleinfeld

The Soviet Union, 1978-1990

Chernobyl Reactor Unit #4, nuclear power plant. Official Body Count: 31.
Actual Body Count: Will never be known.

LPOTS reactor:victims composite
LPOTS Chikatilo light photo
Andrei Chikatilo, serial killer. Official Body Count: 53.
Actual Body Count: Will never be known.

Two true stories of murder.
One true story of lies and corruption.

A documentary for the stage, examining the stories of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo and the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor through a collage of found texts that reveal these two stories of mass death to be one story of institutional corruption in a theatrical autopsy where Art is the only scalpel sharp enough to cut through the mangled flesh of the lies to reveal the glowing fragment of truth underneath it all.

performed by David Arthur Bachrach*, Fred Backus, Aaron Baker, Olivia Baseman*, Adam Belvo, Eric Feldman, Ian W. Hill, Colleen Jasinski, Gavin Starr Kendall, Roger Nasser, Tom Reid, Melissa Roth, Patrick Shearer, Alyssa Simon*

August 7, 12, 15, 21, 23 and 27 at 8.00 pm
August 9, 16, and 30 at 3.00 pm

approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes long (including one intermission)


BLOOD ON THE CAT'S NECK by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
BLOOD Early Promo Mockup
(which is sometimes subtitled Marilyn Monroe vs. The Vampires) is a 1971 play by the iconoclastic playwright/filmmaker in which a beautiful, blonde, vampiric Amazon of a space alien is dropped into a bourgeois cocktail party with an unlikely group of guests in an attempt to learn about human beings, without much success, until her plundering of the guests’ minds becomes a more direct and physical acquisition of their life essences.

performed by Gyda Arber, Eric C. Bailey*, Danny Bowes, V. Orion Delwaterman, Rasheed Hinds, Toya Lillard, Samantha Mason, Amy Overman, Roger Nasser, Shelley Ray*

August 9, 14, 19, 22, 25 and 26 at 8.00 pm
August 8, 15, and 29 at 4.00 pm

approximately 80 minutes long



by Richard Foreman
BATHROBE Early Promo Mockup

An abstract play by that receives its first fully-staged American/English-Language production, interpreted here as the story of an elderly, controversial writer in a prison (perhaps real, perhaps metaphoric) on his dying day, as he is confronted with his memories and regrets made flesh, both tormenting him and attempting to help him pass out of this life with peace and acceptance.

performed by Sarah Malinda Engelke*, Liza Wade Green, Justin R.G. Holcomb*, Bob Laine, Kathryn Lawson, Patrice Miller, Timothy McCown Reynolds*, Bill Weeden*

August 8, 11, 13, 18, 20, 28 and 29 at 8.00 pm
August 22 and 23 at 4.00 pm

approximately 75 minutes long



by David Finkelstein & Ian W. Hill
OFFERINGS seance temp promo image
-- a dramaticule -- began as an improvisational performance duet created by the two authors as the basis for a multilayered video artwork by Mr. Finkelstein for his Lake Ivan Performance Group.
Mr. Hill has taken the improvised text and transformed it into the story of a drawing room séance among the upper class, with a version of Mr. Finkelstein’s video (Marvelous Discourse) presented mid-performance as the appearance of the “spirits” into the room.

performed by Eric C. Bailey*, Larry Gutman, Stephen Heskett, Justin R.G. Holcomb*, Kirill Khvenkin, Victoria Miller, Ben Robertson, Eve Udesky*

August 8, 14, 22, and 28 at 10.30 pm
August 16 and 30 at 8.00 pm
August 15, 23, and 29 at 2.00 pm

approximately 40 minutes long


Tickets: $15.00 (except SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS: $10.00)

Or 2 shows for $25.00, 3 for $35.00, or all four for $40.00!

All tickets available at (212-352-3101)

*appears courtesy Actors' Equity Association



1. If you wish to donate by check, they MUST be made out to "Fractured Atlas," with "Gemini CollisionWorks" in the memo line (and nowhere else), and should be given to us personally or sent to us for processing at:

Gemini CollisionWorks
c/o Hill-Johnson
367 Avenue S #1B
Brooklyn, NY 11223

2. You can also donate directly online securely by credit card at
(please double-check to be sure you're at the "Gemini CollisionWorks" donation page)

All donors (if donations are received by August 1) will be listed in all our programs for the 2009 season under the following categories with our current donors (donations after August 1 will appear in our 2010 programs):

$0-25 - BONDO

Edward Einhorn

David Finkelstein
$26-50 - RAT RODS

Lynn Berg

$51-75 - CHROME

Sarah Engelke

Richard Foreman
$76-100 - LOW RIDERS
$101-250 - CANDY FLAKE

Centre Group Holdings

Wendy Coyle

Thomas Reid and Eileen White
$251-500 - FLAME JOBS
$501-1000 - T-BUCKETS

Luana Josvold & Gary Johnson
$1001-2500 - SUPERCHARGERS
$2501-5000 - KUSTOMIZERS
over $5000 - BIG DADDIES

hope to see you at the shows, and thanks for your continued support,

Ian W. Hill, arts
Berit Johnson, crafts
Gemini CollisionWorks

Gemini CollisionWorks is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Gemini CollisionWorks may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Ian W. Hill/Gemini CollisionWorks online:

blog: CollisionWorks on LiveJournal
images: Gemini CollisionWorks on Flickr
info: Facebook page
store: CafePress Store

collisionwork: (crazy)
Well, here I am, a day late on my weekly posting, and here we are, Berit and I, with two more days of rehearsals to go, today and tomorrow, one rehearsal each for each of the four August shows. Today, Sacrificial Offerings and then Blood on the Cat's Neck, tomorrow, George Bataille's Bathrobe and then A Little Piece of the Sun. We open the first show two weeks from yesterday.

Everything with the shows themselves is going well. All of them will now get one more rehearsal (which means anywhere from one to four run-throughs at that rehearsal), two tech rehearsals, and a preview before opening. That's more time, and runs, with shows this ready, and opening this far away, than I have ever had. I'm still occasionally freaking out. Of course.

Looking back, this is almost the same entry as last week. Well, actually, I'm less freaked now. A lot. Still . . .

The first techs won't be 100% complete. I'm still rushing to have most of the sound cues ready. Tonight's my one and only real time to get a lot of that work done, and it's slow going most of the time (sometimes just as I wait for multi-track files to be mixed down in GarageBand). I have all the music set for Bathrobe and Blood, but now I have to pretty much compose Little Piece's sound score. Things will get a lot simpler a lot faster now.

Berit has built a little scale model of the set from pipe cleaners and foam core, and actually looking at that makes me feel like the dreaded construction process on Monday won't be so bad. I'll have some photos of the funny little model and some other prop stuff soon (I'd have 'em now, but I left my camera in the car).

Oh, better get the Random Ten done. Here's what comes out of the 25,578 in the thing today . . .

1. "Your Heart Out" - The Fall - Dragnet
2. "The Cross" - Laibach - Jesus Christ Superstars
3. "Budweiser's a Friend of Mine" - Billy Murray - Victor-16049 78 rpm
4. "That's Pep" - Devo - Freedom of Choice
5. "Rhumba Chillen" - Albert Williams - Sun Records: The Blues Years 1950-1958 vol. 4
6. "Push Push" - Sunset Love - The History Of Texas Garage Bands In The '60s Volume 6: Psychedelic Flower Power with Sunset Love
7. "Your Love Is Burning Me" - Thane Russal & Three - Voyage Through The Sugarcube 1
8. "Kiss, Kiss, Kiss" - Yoko Ono - Onobox 4: Kiss, Kiss, Kiss
9. "El Mundo (Is A Weirdo)" - The Wayward Youth - El Mundo 7"
10. "Time Rarely Stands Still" - Guv'ner - Spectral Worship

Hooker gives not a damn for our work and stress; he just wants to know why Berit and I are never home anymore . . .
Hooker Wants Attention

And time to rush out the door and over to The Brick now. I think if I get all the stuff done between now and Friday that I'm supposed to, I'll be okay. Okay?

collisionwork: (lost highway)
We officially open the first show of our four August productions three weeks from tonight.

As we're incredibly ahead of schedule on several things and a bit behind on others (no more than usual, but still, behind), I'm variously either strangely euphoric or hideously depressed moment-by-moment all the time right now.

The casts are in pretty good shape, and one is in much more than that. Now I'm just all panicked about the tech stuff. Here's a picture of my breakdown of the sound cues for George Bataille's Bathrobe, which I've only scratched the surface of finding and creating:
GBB - laying out the sound cues

There you can see cues A through OO -- the breakdown goes up to cue NNNNN, that is, 118 sound cues in a 75-minute-long show. Whee. And I still have to record, process, and mix lots of those cues. Blood on the Cat's Neck is a bit better -- just 101 cues in 80 minutes, and most of them are just straight music needle-drops, with no additional elements.

Next, the incredibly complex Little Piece of the Sun soundtrack/score, which will be like composing an almost wall-to-wall underscore for the two-hour show, transforming samples and sound fragments into musical themes or at least tonal drones (and possibly also adapting some of the themes/drones for electric guitar as well, if I have the time).

So, as I may have mentioned before, I'm incredibly happy with where the actorial/performance elements of the shows are (though all need work, in different ways/at different levels), HOWEVER, the tech elements are making me unbelievably nervous to the point of paralysis - exactly NOT the reaction needed. I may just relax about it through the weekend if I can (not much time between now and Monday to do anything anyway, with rehearsals tonight, and both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening) and then just dig in first thing Monday morning.

Oh, right, I also need to get my lines down for Little Piece At least, having done the show 8 years ago, they seem to be coming back quick, and I've already been off-book for sections of rehearsal.

Here's three shots from this week's rehearsals. First, a large-cast shot from Little Piece, as a vision of Issa Kostoyev appears to young Andrei Chikatilo at Stalin's funeral:
LPOTS rehearsal - Kostoyev Appears

Most of the cast of George Bataille's Bathrobe is visible here (two of them obscured) as Frank Norris prepares to smash his glasses:
GBB rehearsal - About to Smash the Glasses

And a shot from Blood on the Cat's Neck that features the whole cast:
BLOOD rehearsal - Lover and Girl

A whole big album of rehearsal shots can be seen HERE. I'm pretty well done taking rehearsal shots now, I think, except for some more Little Piece ones, as I'd like to get a few with the entire cast in them.

And here's today's Random Ten from the 25,594 on the iPod (most of the additions since last week being the Nino Rota cues I'm using to score Bathrobe and the Ennio Morricone cues scoring Blood):

1. "Psychedelic Pill" - The Tyde - Gravel volume 5
2. "Pesadelo" - Patife Band - Corredor Polones
3. "Cry For Fame" - Dieter Meier - Cry For Fame 7"
4. "Bad News Blues" - Grahame Bond - Love Is The Law
5. "Gimme Some Lovin'" - The Spencer Davis Group - The Finer Things
6. "Toybox" - The Geraldine Fibbers - Butch
7. "Here To Here" - Peer Pressure - S/T 7" EP
8. "Civil Defense Spot: Excellent Chances" - Groucho Marx - Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From the Golden Age
9. "See Emily Play" - David Bowie - Pin Ups
10. "Past Is Past" - The Dishrags - Past Is Past 7" EP

I've taken too much time here today as it is when I need to get back to work on the shows, but here's some pictures of our sweet little kitties from this morning.

Hooker appears to be deep in thought (hah!):
Deep In Thought?

And Moni enjoys her cave amongst a pile of old props, fabrics, and supplies:
Moni Haz a Cave

And here's a couple of videos that have kept me sane this week.

First, a very SERIOUS PSA that is a bit FAIL because some celebrity spokespeople just don't work doing these kinds of things . . .

And sometimes, you just need a Scopitone of 1960s French interpretive dance to pep yer spirits up (and yes, the song, "Psyché Rock", by Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier, is the one Matt Groening gave to Danny Elfman as an example of what the Futurama theme should sound like, and someone on WFMU has used it as a sound bed for years). Here's Les Ballets Jackson with "Fiesta Hippie" (NSFW):

Back in a week . . . if not before . . .

collisionwork: (vile foamy liquids)
Waitaminit, it's Friday!

Boy did THAT week pass quick. But, luckily, productively.

We are now into less than a month before the shows all open, and, fortunately, they're all in pretty good shape. All need work, and in different ways, but it's happening. From now on until opening, Berit and I have at least one rehearsal a day for a show -- on Sundays (and Saturdays after tomorrow) we have two rehearsals for different shows.

It's tiring, but actually worth it -- at least I feel more like it is this year than I have the last two, where I've spent a good deal of the month asking myself if the ultimate reward of the shows was worth the work and exhaustion of this month before they go up. Yes, it always is, but at least this year I can feel that way in the hours outside of the rehearsal room (I'm always happy when I'm in rehearsal, but more and more often I've been spending the hours before rehearsal dreading the work to come and just wanting to quit this whole process; this has, for some reason, not been the case this year).

Me last night, directing:
BLOOD rehearsal - IWH Directs

So every day Berit asks me "which one is it today?" And I check to be sure myself and we grab the correct script or scripts from the pile and go off to either The Brick or Brooklyn Arts Exchange for rehearsal (in the past, we've also been at Champions Studios or The Battle Ranch, but except for one more time at the latter, we're down to just the two locations now).

Here's what I was directing last night in the photo above -- half of the cast of Blood on the Cat's Neck, at BAX (two others were there, but not in this shot):
BLOOD rehearsal - Half of the Cast

That's Rasheed Hinds, Gyda Arber, Shelley Ray, Roger Nasser, and V. Orion Delwaterman, in the middle of the opening "monologue" section" of the Fassbinder play.

Here's a shot from two nights ago at The Brick, rehearsing the "racetrack" scene of George Bataille's Bathrobe -- our first night together with the full cast (which we're fortunate to have for the rest of the rehearsal process, amazingly), and here's 6/8ths of them -- Bob Laine, Sarah Engelke, Liza Wade Green, Bill Weeden, Justin R.G. Holcomb, and Timothy Reynolds (with Berit's hands and stage manager script lower right):
GBB Rehearsal - 6:8ths of Cast

More recent rehearsal shots can be found HERE.

We've now had a chance to stumble through each of the shows a few times, and what needs to be worked in each one is more and more apparent. Bathrobe just needs to be gone over start to finish as much as possible with the full cast, now that we have them, so that everyone can remember the dream logic of the play that links the bits together -- people keep forgetting what's happening and why, as we haven't been able to connect the bits of this fairly abstract play together too well as yet. I think repetition will help (French for "rehearsal," I'm told: répéticion). The pattern needs to be felt in everyone's bones.

Blood is in the strongest shape of the three now, and is at the stage where it's all about lots and lots of niggling little notes to the actors about pace and word emphasis. And this will keep up all the way through tech and after into performances, I get the feeling.

A Little Piece of the Sun needs aspects of both the above to be worked on, but not to the extent of the other two shows -- the pattern needs to be felt more in everyone's bones, and I need to fix the tone of many little bits. Just not as much of each as in the above shows.

Actually, pace will be the continuing problem, I think, as it ALWAYS is for me (I get physically ill when the pace is off in my shows; it upsets me more when it's "wrong" than almost anything else). I know it's been drilled into actors more and more that "faster is always better," but it's not true, and especially in my shows. Cue pickup is usually meant to be quick (and if it isn't, I'll tell you), but too often I'm asking the actors to PLEASE slow the damned lines down for chrissakes! When you do shows that are fairly meditative, many beats need to have time to land and be thought about for a moment before the next one rushes in, but more and more I'm really having to demand that actors slow the hell down. I don't want milking of lines and moments, but I want the impression sometimes that what is being said is being thought about before, during and after it hits the air.

We have another 6 or 7 rehearsals for each show, followed by two tech days each and a private invited preview before proper opening, and I think all will be set fine by then.

And the 4th show, Sacrificial Offerings is going at its own, slower, pace as it's a short, easier show (we start our tiny rehearsal process in a couple of weeks). I just cast the fifth actor of eight in the cast -- Ben Robertson, like me a graduate of the Northfield Mt. Hermon School, Class of 1986! I think we last acted together at the age of 15 in Lanford Wilson's The Rimers of Eldritch at NMH. With him in that show and Aaron Baker (NMH '86) in Little Piece, I'm now directing 2 people I've known over 25 years in two different shows. Weird.

David Finkelstein last night gave me the draft of his video version of the same text - now called Marvelous Discourse - to be used in the middle of my play version. It's unfinished, but quite wonderful, and will work well for what I need it to do in my stage piece.

Tonight, Little Piece at BAX. More little things to fix. Whee.

And so, this week's Random Ten from an iPod now full of 25,570 tracks (with links to the songs or something similar):

1. "Monks" - King Missile - Failure
2. "All Messed Up" - Jess Hooper - Tennessee Rock 'n Billy 1955
3. "Heroes And Villains" - Brian Wilson - Smile
4. "Surfari" - The Boardwalkers - NPR's International Beach Ball
5. "Dreamer" - Joyce Harris - Domino Records Story
6. "Everybody's Got A Little Devil In Them" -Tommie Young - Soulin' Vol 1
7. "Didn't I Do It Right?" - Gary Glitter - 22 Of The Best
8. "Don'cha Know" - Bill Cosby - TV Characters Sing Just For You, Vol. 1
9. "Wurlitzer Jukebox" - Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
10. "Roadrunner" - The Heinz Kiessling Orchestra - Like A Breeze

And, yes, some newer kitty pictures of the little monsters.

Here's a drowsy Hooker kitty napping on the sleeping Berit:

Drowsy Boy on Momma

And here's BOTH kitties napping on the sleeping Berit (these are the easiest times to get pictures of the brats, when they're curled up and sleepy, which usually means they're sleeping on top of one of us humans):

H&M Wait for Mommy to Wake

Now, time to get laundry and nap before rehearsal. More shots from the rehearsals soon . . .

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Well, here we are, on our way with the four August shows.

Today, the press releases all went out en masse to every bit of NYC and Tri-State media outlets that might want them. Which I do every year, so here's hopin' it works out this year. Sometime it does, sometimes it doesn't.

Five - count 'em FIVE - separate releases went out. Took me forever, with trying to format them to look good int he body of an email, and send them out without any of my email ISPs deciding I was a spammer.

Here's the first one of the five -- I'll be posting them all over the next couple of days -- for the overall month in general. I apologize if the formatting comes out wonky -- I've been trying to get these to resemble the originals, but it keeps changing without me doing anything . . .


For Immediate Release, please list under Off-Off Broadway
Critics are invited to all performances
Contact: Ian W. Hill/Berit Johnson: Gemini CollisionWorks / 718-339-3116 (phone/fax)

The Brick Theater, Inc. presents

The Collisionworks

an annual presentation of theatre from
Gemini CollisionWorks

August 7 to 30, 2009

designed and directed by Ian W. Hill / assisted by Berit Johnson

For 11 months of the year, Ian W. Hill and Berit Johnson are the technical directors of The Brick
, one of Brooklyn’s (and New York City’s) most vibrant incubators of innovative theatrical arts. But every August, when other theatre festivals run amok with whatever crazy-sounding stage enterprise they think will bring audiences into small, inefficiently-air-conditioned rooms, The Brick hands the keys to their moderately-sized, moderately well-air-conditioned room over to Hill and Johnson and they become the creative entity known as Gemini CollisionWorks, producing multiple works in rep that have run the gamut from Hill’s NECROPOLIS series of dramatic collages (including the acclaimed World Gone Wrong) and his original plays Spell andEverything Must Go to the rare Richard Foreman boulevard farce Harry in Love and the bizarre Marc Spitz comedy of addiction The Hobo Got Too High.

This year, Hill, Johnson, and GCW are pleased to present four new productions, running the gamut from a violent, bloody comedy of manners to a dark documentary of institutional lies and murder in Soviet Russia to an improvisation-based combination of séance and video art to a surreal look inside the head of an elderly, dying writer on the slide toward death. These are:

A Little Piece of the Sun
, by Daniel McKleinfeld, a documentary for the stage, examining the stories of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo and the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor through a collage of found texts that reveal these two stories of mass death to be one story of institutional corruption in a theatrical autopsy where Art is the only scalpel sharp enough to cut through the mangled flesh of the lies to reveal the glowing fragment of truth underneath it all.

Blood on the Cat’s Neck
, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, (sometimes subtitled Marilyn Monroe vs. The Vampires) a 1971 play by the iconoclastic playwright/filmmaker in which a beautiful, blonde, vampiric Amazon of a space alien is dropped into a bourgeois cocktail party of an unlikely group of guests to attempt to learn about human beings, without much success, until her plundering of the guests’ minds becomes a more direct and physical acquisition of their life essences.

George Bataille’s Bathrobe
, an abstract play by Richard Foreman that here receives its first fully-staged English-Language production, is interpreted by Hill as the story of an elderly, controversial writer in a prison (perhaps real, perhaps metaphoric) on his dying day, as he is confronted with his memories and regrets made flesh, both tormenting him and attempting to help him pass out of this life with peace and acceptance.

Sacrificial Offerings
, by David Finkelstein and Ian W. Hill, began as an improvisational performance duet created by the two authors as the basis for a multilayered video artwork (known as Skewered Remarks) by Mr. Finkelstein for his Lake Ivan Performance Group. Mr. Hill has taken the improvised text and transformed it into the story of a drawing room séance among the upper class of many decades past, with a version of Mr. Finkelstein’s video presented mid-performance as the appearance of the “spirits” into the room.

For more information on these four productions, and exact dates and times for all performances, please see the individual press releases you should also have received or contact Gemini CollisionWorks at the number or email above.

Director/designer Ian W. Hill
has created 59 stage productions since 1997 as Gemini CollisionWorks, including works by Vaclav Havel, Richard Foreman, T.S. Eliot, Clive Barker, Mac Wellman, Ronald Tavel, Jeff Goode, Mark Spitz, and Edward D. Wood, Jr., as well as several original plays. As a designer (light, sound, projections, sets) and technical/artistic consultant he has worked with many other stage artists and theatres for the past 20 years. Berit Johnson has been the co-director of Gemini CollisionWorks since 2001, and has stage managed, created props and puppets, and designed many other elements for many NYC theatre companies since 1997.

The Brick

575 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211

½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L Train / Metropolitan-Grand stop of the G Train --

All tickets: $15.00 (except Sacrificial Offerings: tickets $10.00) -- any two shows for $25.00, three shows for $35.00, or all four shows for 40.00!

Tickets available at the door or through (212-352-3101 or toll-free: 1-866-811-4111)

collisionwork: (GCW Seal)
Well, this just went off to the Gemini CollisionWorks mailing list, and I'm posting it everywhere else I can -- Facebook, MySpace, etc. -- so I might as well include it here for anyone who would miss it elsewhere.

Ah, yes, it's the annual Season announcement, and more-than-annual request for donations. Not the most enjoyable part of putting the shows together, but now that we can actually receive tax-deductible donations, we need to do this to keep the shows going at a reasonable level.

So here's what the several hundred people I've acquired on the GCW email list over the last 12 years are getting today:

You're receiving this because you're on the Gemini CollisionWorks/Ian W. Hill/Berit Johnson email list - if you don't want to be on this list, please reply with REMOVE in the subject header, and we'll take you off it.  We apologize to those hit by this on both our mailing list and our Facebook list, but thank you for your interest and support.


Hi friends!

Once again, it's nearly that time of year where we stop being mainly the tech directors for The Brick and once again take over that space -- Brooklyn's "most vibrant incubator of innovative theatrical arts" -- to present our yearly collection of theatrical work, our "factory showroom" of the ideas, techniques, and styles we've been thinking about and looking at this past year.

Our now-Annual collection, henceforth called The Collisionworks, is comprised this year of three shows that have been on our wish list to do for many years now, and a fourth, original work that has happily appeared from our recent collaborations with another theatrical company.  This August's shows are:

A Little Piece of the Sun by Daniel McKleinfeld
Blood on the Cat's Neck by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
George Bataille's Bathrobe by Richard Foreman
Sacrificial Offerings by David Finkelstein and Ian W. Hill

Rather than take up space here, you can find out about these shows, including brief descriptions, the cast members and (soon-to-come) performance dates and times at either our Facebook page or The Brick's page for our shows.

We're glad that our association with The Brick for the past 4 years has led us to become a more secure and business-oriented company (as much as one run solely by two people who really only know how to do theatre at this point can be), and has led us to create work of a grander scale than we were first able to do when GCW first started producing work in 1997 on Ludlow Street at NADA (about 60 productions ago!).

However . . . larger budgets and scale, presented in a small space at a reasonable ticket price, can pose some financial problems.  Rehearsal space, costumes, set construction -- and a lot of it is needed this year -- can - and has - cost a pretty penny.

So, remember -- and yes, we're aware of both the recession and that the majority of people receiving this are also struggling artists, sorry -- you can always . . .


a.  If you wish to donate by check, they MUST be made out to "Fractured Atlas," with "Gemini CollisionWorks" in the memo line (and nowhere else), and should be given to us personally or sent to us for processing at: 

Gemini CollisionWorks 
c/o Hill-Johnson 
367 Avenue S  #1B 
Brooklyn, NY  11223 

b.  You can also donate directly online securely by credit card at  

(please double-check to be sure you're at the "Gemini CollisionWorks" donation page) 
All donors will be listed in all our programs for the August 2009 season under the following categories:   

$0-25 - BONDO 
$26-50 - RAT RODS 
$51-75 - CHROME 
$76-100 - LOW RIDERS 
$101-250 - CANDY FLAKE 
$251-500 - FLAME JOBS 
$501-1000 - T-BUCKETS 
$1001-2500 - SUPERCHARGERS 
$2501-5000 - KUSTOMIZERS 
over $5000 - BIG DADDIES 

(NOTE:  If you give $1,000 or above - and someone actually always does - you will need to fill out a special gift form to accompany your donation, so please let us know so we can supply it to you)

We both hope to see you at our shows this August, and thank you for your continued support, 

Ian W. Hill, arts 
Berit Johnson, crafts 

Gemini CollisionWorks 


Gemini CollisionWorks is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.  Contributions in behalf of Gemini CollisionWorks may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 


collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
Busy and satisfying week, for the most part.

Between Sunday and yesterday, Berit and I auditioned 17 actresses for the 7 female roles we had to refill in the four August shows (and we saw one man for one of the 5 male roles in one of them, Sacrificial Offerings, and he was good for one of the parts, so, great).

We saw a lot of good people, and have wound up with a list of people to ask, though I'm waiting a bit on informing them as Berit is still asleep, and I want to have one last discussion with her before I send out the "we want you for the part, do you want it?" emails.

For two of the parts, in two different plays, there were four different women who were all REALLY good for the part, in wildly different ways. I think B & I decided on who we most wanted for Lyuba Kovalevskaya in Little Piece of the Sun, but there was a time yesterday when we were weighing three different actresses and Berit was saying, "I wish we could have a combo of bits of the qualities of all three." But (I think) we went for a way that was VERY different from the way we originally cast the role, as well as the way it was originally cast and played back in 2001.

And I also have to wait until B is up to hash out who we want for "The Mistress" in Blood on the Cat's Neck. Again, a wealth of choices for that part, of vastly different types.

I may just email the two women we want for The Brundi Twins in George Bataille's Bathrobe right now -- we know who they are . . . okay (he typed a half-hour later), they've been emailed.

Now I'm in a holding pattern on emailing people, as the next steps are dependent on the first answers I get -- as in, if the first people I ask to play one of the Brundis from George Bataille's Bathrobe and Lyuba in Little Piece say no, then I have to move around the people playing The Model and The Mistress in Blood on the Cat's Neck to other shows/parts to get the mix right. Let's hope for all the first choices being on board . . .

Wow, everything seems to be going fine and full-bore ahead on the shows . . . B & I are just waiting for the other shoe . . . ANY other shoe . . . to drop.

Yesterday was a nice big 14-hour day at The Brick for B & I, but work was done and shows were seen, and the two sellout/near sellout house we had were good and easy to get in and deal with. Berit's on duty again tonight, and I'm hoping she'll be okay with me staying home.

And as for this week's Random Ten from the 25,596 tracks in the iPod (nothing has changed there for a while, no time to keep clearing the thing out and refilling it, though I have an iTunes playlist of 322 to put on there once I clear out some dross), here it is . . .

1. "Tacoma Trailer" - Leonard Cohen - The Future
2. "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" - Esquivel - Four Corners Of The World
3. "I Need You" - Eurythmics - Savage
4. "I've Been Crying" - Tommy Louis - Lost Deep Soul Treasures 3
5. "Mucha Muchacha" - Esquivel - Space Age Bachelor Pad Music
6. "Met a Girl on the Corner" - The Orchids - A Taste of Doo Wop Vol.1
7. "53 Miles West Of Venus" - The B-52's - Wild Planet
8. "Yeh-Yeh!" - Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames - Mod & Beyond
9. "Ain't Gonna Worry About You" - George Tinley & The Modern Redcaps - Club Au-Go-Go 6
10. "Reject" - Green Day - Nimrod

Well, that was an odd collection of pop songs that for some reason could all sound kinda mournful and elegiac on a cloudy Friday morn, following a long week and a whole bunch of surprising deaths that probably shouldn't have been (surprising, that is), which now lead to me dumping a TON of video on y'all.

Well, Michael Jackson is gone.

I can't pretend immense fandom of his work, but I can damn well support the more-than-a-handful of brilliant, timeless pop singles he created and co-created, which (I hope) will long outlast what anyone knows or claims to know about his life.

I was only going to post two videos of him that are the way I'd prefer to remember him, but some Facebook comments came up on the man that I wanted to mention.

Scott Williams noted, summing up my feelings quite well, that he was "getting sick, both of the bathetic sentiment slobbering wetly across the media and facebook over the recent death of certain talented (but increasingly irrelevant) people, and over the mean-spirited (but mostly humorless) haters who think that acting like they don't care shows their "rebellious" side. If you're gonna be a hater, you gotta learn to be witty, too, or you just look like an asshole." (Scott notes later he was also referring to Farrah and Ed McMahon with this).

And an old friend of mine, who I won't name, comes close to being in the latter category, but JUST not quite, when she notes that she "understands the 'MJ as life soundtrack' thing for some folks but she was listening to P- Funk, The Who and the Clash. And the pedophile thing was a turn off. Sorry, but there it is."

So I wrote a response to her and then didn't have the balls to post it directly to her on Facebook (I'm too Scandinavian at heart to deal with conflict I don't have to), though I surprised myself with being so red with anger:

You seem to be on the edge of a false dichotomy here, XXXXX. Some of us were listing to MJ, and all of the above you named, and a lot more, and whatever else, and a lot more whatever else. One does not preclude the other. And I sure as hell don't see his hideousness (which goes beyond "issues") being ignored anywhere, we're all well aware of it (though, hey, anyone remember the anti-semitic lyrics he wrote and got in trouble for at one point? "so-called chosen, frozen?" yeah, that seems to have vanished down the memory hole . . .)
UPDATE: D'OH! Speaking of memory holes . . . Daniel McKleinfeld points out on Facebook that I am misremembering my anti-semitic remark controversies -- it was PUBLIC ENEMY that had the "so-called chosen, frozen" lyric . . . MJ had the "jew me, sue me" lyric . . . ick . . . that's what I get for not listening to the little voice in my head that was saying I was making a mistake here . . .

And lots of personal things (about even some of the artists you name) were as big turn-offs -- look into the life of Keith Moon, which sure as hell isn't all good-natured fun as often presented, for a long list of unforgivable, immoral and criminal behavior. Or how about Mr. Peter Townshend's collection of child pornography?

Or the actually-convicted-of-crime geniuses that are Ike Turner, James Brown, Arthur Lee, and Chuck Berry, to name a few (where are the white folks? do they get off with a slap on the wrist and "boys will be boys" when they do hideous things? like Keith Moon did?).

But I will listen to "I'll Be There" and "Billie Jean" with as much pleasure as I do "Rocket 88" or "I Can See for Miles" or "White Man in Hammersmith Palais" or "You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks" or "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing" (or for that matter "Song for Michael Jackson to $ell"). Sorry, but there it is.

His main criminal act for me personally was becoming artistically irrelevant the older he got, but then so do a LOT of artists.

Two other comments sum up much of my feelings on this, a balanced view from Matt Zoller Seitz and a fairly negative one from music critic Chris Morris which discusses the basic coldness and hollowness of even Jackson's better work (h/t Jim Emerson). In this, I agree with Morris' observations, but not necessarily his conclusions (I believe that "warmth" and "fullness" are nice things to have in art, but by no means automatic virtues, nor the absence of them automatic debits). And Crooks and Liars posts two amazing comparison videos of The Jackson 5 doing "I Want You Back" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1970 and (unfortunately, a brief fragment) at Madison Square Garden in 2001.

And of course, The Onion has its own last word.

And - spending more time on the man than I would have ever thought myself caring to, and probably more than I've ever spent before all put together - here's three videos of MJ in ways I'd like to remember him, from Free To Be... You and Me (with Roberta Flack), the famous (and yes, COLD) performance from the Motown 25th Anniversary show, and a fan-made video that puts together the vocal tracks on "I'll Be There" with a TV lipsync of the song . . .

As for Farrah . . . I actually missed a lot of her cultural impact. For some reason, though I watched endless hours of bad 70s TV, Charlie's Angels never actually made it in there (at least while FF was on the show; I think I watched it in later seasons). I remember her instead, and happily so, from The Burning Bed, Extremities and Myra Breckinridge, the latter of which is one of those "bad" films I will defend tooth & nail, in which FF plays an apparently dumb blonde, who winds up with more layers than the title character figures on, and whose humanity and kindness winds up shaming Myra into realizing how cruel she has been . . .

Also gone, a man whose music is quite a bit closer to me than MJ's was, and who had his own odd and famous (to his cult audience) problems, Mr. Sky Saxon, lead singer of the great band The Seeds:

And as for Ed McMahon, let's end on a laugh . . . a piece of video that makes me crack up every single time I see it . . .

collisionwork: (boring)
Well, here it is, later June, and the August shows are under way, and I'm back to casting bits of them, as always.

Besides the two dancers for George Bataille's Bathrobe that I've been trying to cast for a while (or rather, HAVE cast twice and then had to recast), I now have three other parts in two plays where actors have had to leave for more lucrative jobs that have come up. So here I am, trying to write this entry in between sending out emails setting up audition times to around 30 actresses that have been recommended to me by trusted friends and collaborators (and a few that came from a public posting of my email to friends that got out by accident, but it's okay).

I understand, of course, people having to leave my shows for better-paying gigs . . . I can't pay more than transportation for rehearsals and performances, plus promise a split of profits, if any (there are NEVER any - only three of my sixty shows have shown even around $100 profit at most - I ALWAYS lose money on them). And sometimes I'm slow on paying back the transportation (I still owe over half the performers from 2008's shows their money -- the unexpected huge costume expenditure on Ambersons ate up over half the year's planned budget).

Still, it's frustrating to feel like a "safety school," that my work is the work you do until something bigger comes along. It is, after all, my work, and it IS what I do first and foremost. I can't begrudge people who leave for a job with a salary, or an Equity Card, or more exposure, but I can feel hurt anyway.

And, of course, it's hard to cast this year's shows in any case -- the Foreman is fairly abstract and hard to make out on the page what the hell it is, the Fassbinder is all wonky and doesn't read well either, no one's seen David's & my script (now called Sacrificial Offerings), but I'm sure that will simply confuse people as well, and Little Piece has such graphic descriptions of serial killings and deaths by radiation that some people are just too disgusted by it to want to do it. Great.

Well, 30 women and a man have got notices from me about the 4 shows, I have two auditions set up already, and time put aside all next week. Hope I get what I'm looking for. Well, I always do, or close to it . . .

Anyway, back in the iPod, here's today's Friday Random Ten tracks from out of the 25,596 on there (with more actual links to YouTube versions of the songs than usual!):

1. "Saturday Night, Stay At Home" - Suburban Reptiles - Saturday Night, Stay At Home 7"
2. "Glad I've Got Nobody" - David Bowie - Early On (1964-1966)
3. "Sole Spento" - Caterina Casselli - Rato's Nostalgia Collection 9
4. "You Better Get a Better" - The Beatstalkers - Decca Originals: The Freakbeat Scene (1964-1968)
5. "Do You Love Me?" - The Sonics - !!!Here Are The Sonics!!!
6. "Bible School" - Delinquents - The Master Tape
7. "What If?" - Bongwater - The Power Of Pussy
8. "Single Girl, Married Girl" - The Carter Family - Anthology Of American Folk Music, Vol. 3A: Songs
9. "Stranded In Time" - The United States Of America - The American Metaphysical Circus
10. "Ocean" - Sebadoh - Single (remix)

And now it's 35 people who've gotten the notices, and 5 auditions are arranged for Sunday/Monday. Back to more emails out . . .

I'm Tired

May. 29th, 2009 10:03 am
collisionwork: (Default)
The work goes on.

Last two nights we rehearsed the Richard Foreman play, George Bataille's Bathrobe at The Brick, and it was nice to stage the thing in the actual space. We had only a trio of actors (out of eight total) for most of Wednesday - one showed up later - and five yesterday, with, again, one showing up towards the end, so we did some scene work that we could do with the people we had and got some solid work accomplished.

Everyone says the play becomes clearer and makes more sense as we work it. I know it makes sense of a kind, but it's a kind of dream sense, and I don't always know what it is until we're on our feet and doing it (if then). One longish scene - Scene Nine - received a lot of work on both nights, and by the end of last night had come together enough to make it clear the whole thing was going to work just fine.

But we need to keep hacking away at it bit by bit. What makes Foreman work is getting all the little details and multiple possibilities of all the lines all going at once. We don't touch this show again until June 7, when I should have the entire cast together for a rehearsal, finally.

I rehearse the other two shows already in progress (as opposed to the still-being-scripted BBQ) the next two afternoons, then also don't touch them for a week. In between, I'll be too busy getting The Brick set up for The Antidepressant Festival and doing the light design for four of the shows in that Festival: Nosedive's Infectious Opportunity, Ten Directions' ...and the fear cracked open, Sneaky Snake Productions' Adventure Quest, and Theatre Askew's The Tale of the Good Whistleblower of Chaillot's Caucasian Mother and Her Other Children of a Lesser Marriage Chalk Circle (phew!).

And FIRST, tonight, I go and help babysit a benefit going on at the space, with a break in the middle to join my old friend Sean Rockoff in seeing X at the Bowery Ballroom. I'm really happy to be seeing one of my favorite bands for the first time, but kind of tired and weary and wondering how I can bounce around and enjoy the fine fine superfine rock of Exene, John Doe, Billy, & D.J. in this state.

I'm sure it'll all be fine when the music starts . . .

Meanwhile, back in the iTunes (Berit has the iPod today - she's working the UTC#61 festival from 9 am to midnight or so), here's a Random Ten out of 71,285 tracks (so I've added 228 tracks since last week, huh?) . . .

1. "Juliano the Bull" - Jason Crest - Circus Days Vol. 4 & 5
2. "Read It & Weep (live 1975)" - Rocket From The Tombs - The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs
3. "I'll Never Let You Go" - Steff - U-Spaces: Way Out Wonders vol. 1
4. "Love Me Like I Love You" - Me & Dem Guys - Quagmire 3
5. "Longarm" - Wall Of Voodoo - The Index Masters
6. "Yo-Yo" - Pylon - Chomp
7. "Modern Things" - Voice Farm - Sleep / Modern Things 7"
8. "The Bride Stripped Bare By 'Bachelors'" - The Bonzo Dog Band - Keynsham
9. "Country Kisses" - Sheb Wooley - Country Boogies, Wild & Wooley!
10. "Segue 5" - The New Power Generation - GoldNigga

Again, no new cat pictures this week.

But meanwhile, in the Cool News of the World -- as someone who's not the world's biggest Obama fan (he's okay, but I'm still fairly to the left of the man and his policies - and believe that those calling him and those policies "Socialist" are insulting Socialists - but I recognize he may be as good as we're gonna get in that office in my lifetime - may be), I am at least quite pleased by the Obamas' choices for new art to display around the White House, as discussed in a Wall Street Journal article HERE.

The only work of art I was aware of being on display there was Frederic Remington's The Bronco Buster (1903), and I got the impression that the style of art otherwise on display there had not advanced very much from that time and style. I didn't know that Hilary Clinton had been personally passionate about acquiring an O'Keeffe and a Henry Ossawa Tanner (whose work I'm not familiar with) for the permanent collection while there -- every administration displays works on loan from various sources, museums, whatever; some works are acquired, under stricter policies -- usually works older than 25 years, from dead artists, so as to not unduly effect the market rates, though the Bushes accepted a donation from Andrew Wyeth. Also, Jackie Kennedy pulled out some Cezannes from the permanent collection there, and Laura Bush had a Helen Frankenthaler on loan for the private residence. But these have been exceptions to the mainly middle-of-the-road work on display at the White House.

I had heard the Obamas had put out a call for more works by minority and female artists, fine, okay, the Dead White Male club could always use some shaking up (and I speak as a fan, primarily, of Dead White Males), but they've gotten a good share of work for display in the White House, some of which surprised and pleased me. There's a Johns, a Diebenkorn, an Albers, a Ruscha, a Rauschenberg, a Nevelson, a de Staël, two bronzes by Degas, and two pieces by Alma Woodsey Thomas, which fulfill both the "female" and "minority" calls while also being abstracts. Currently being looked at for possible inclusion is a set from the Art Institute of Chicago (where the first couple went on an early date) that includes works by Franz Kline and Beauford Delaney.

It's not a big thing, I guess, but it makes me happy to know that the home of the First Family has in this way finally entered the 20th Century.

As for videos . . .

Just because I dig it, here's a video recently linked to on Facebook by Kim Morgan which she described (accurately) as an "Ike and Tina meet David Lynch meet Guy Maddin clip of brilliance." It's a lip-synced performance of beauty that almost doesn't make me think this song is overrated in Phil Spector's oeuvre (it's muddy and overdriven - a Wall of Sludge rather than a Wall of Sound - and sounds better over computer speakers than on record).

Among the Ikettes on this occasion is Ms. P.P. Arnold, who I'm a fan of (and I didn't know she was an Ikette). Two clips of her being wonderful on England's Beat Club can be found HERE and HERE.

What, not more redubbings of the Hitler/Downfall scene? Yup. Here he has some strong feelings about J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot (h/t [ profile] flyswatter):

And here, a meta-commentary version created by Brad Templeton of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who describes in detail the efforts he went to in being sure his version of this meme was 100% legal in an interesting post HERE), in which Hitler finds out the limits of copyright protection:

And, hey, courtesy of Tom X. Chao, here's a recent photo of myself and Berit, from Gyda Arber's Memorial Day backyard BBQ (Berit is wearing a spare hat of Gyda's to keep herself from sunburn, a problem that seems to have almost vanished for me entirely - though I have a permanent "trucker's tan" on my left arm).

We actually look pretty relaxed, huh? A combo of mead, champagne, cider, Mike's Hard Lime, and (in my case) a some big hunks o' meat will do that to you . . .
at Gyda's - Memorial Day BBQ, 2009

Now to take a nap in prep for a LONG weekend of action . . .

collisionwork: (Great Director)
Well, things move forward on the four August shows.

A Little Piece of the Sun is about three-quarters blocked. I should finish that this coming Saturday. Going fairly smoothly. Once the blocking is done, onward to working the details. Luckily, the show gets tighter and simpler as it goes, so the rest should be a snap. Ha. Ha.

Still a depressing show, but beautiful.

Meanwhile, George Bataille's Bathrobe is still casting a part, and not the part I was last casting. One actress has dropped out, getting a gig somewhere else that actually pays more than travel, but Justin R.G. Holcomb, so much fun to work with on The Magnificent Ambersons, has come in to play the Doctor, as we'd all hoped he be able to. So, I'm auditioning people in the next few days for the last dancer/actress role, Annabelle (one of "The Famous Brundi Twins!").

The show is completely blocked now, at least. In the big moves, anyway - there are dances and other physical work to be choreographed. Tonight I only have three of the company available to me, so I'll do some scene work with them.

Blood on the Cat's Neck moves a little slower in some ways, as the blocking is more difficult and specific to get down right away. The play is in one room in three parts: One actress (Gyda Arber, as Phoebe Zeitgeist) starts the play onstage (from preshow), then one by one, the other nine actors enter, each one having a monologue (some have two in this first section), but all remaining onstage after their first appearance. In the second section, it is as though a party is going on in the room, but we have individual scenes as all the characters except Phoebe have 2-person scenes with each other, but everyone keeps moving around the whole time (and setting themselves up for their own scenes), and it has to be carefully worked out.

Next time, we'll get to the third section, where everyone is interacting at the party the whole time. I may have to work that out with a chessboard or something in advance. Fun show, but the onstage logistics make my head hurt sometimes -- I strive for combining efficiency, clarity, beauty, and a sense of inevitability in my blocking, and I often have trouble getting more than two of those at a time with this.

I've transcribed the improvised performance David Finkelstein and I created and videotaped, and have been working out the script for that as the remaining theatre piece I'm doing in August. The working title is still BBQ, but that really doesn't fit the show now, so I need to find some other title (preferably from the text) to call the thing.

It's become clear as well that I need to show the video piece that David is making of out the same original footage in the middle (or rather, three-quarters of the way through) my theatre version, as my piece is now about a group of people at a fancy-dress party who attend a seance of a kind, but there's a space in the text where the "appearance of the spirits" needs to happen. So I'll make David's video act as the "spirits" in my stage piece. Now that I have the characters set, I need to see who wants to act in this -- it's a short piece, really (the script is six pages long!), but it will involve some work, and being able to do all nine performances, including sitting onstage and watching David's video with fascination each time.

Now it's also on to the next press releases, postcards, and other publicity as I try to sell these mostly downbeat shows. Nobody liked - rightly, I guess - the idea of calling it The Bummer Festival (you can't sell a "bummer"), but I have no better name just yet. I'm back to using lots of bare light bulbs in my designs these days . . . maybe something like Bare Bulbs? Nah.

Oh, and as far as design goes, an anonymous donor has gifted The Brick with computer-controlled irises for our moving I-Cue units! We can now not only move those lights, we can open and close the size of the beam! This has been on my wish list for the space for years, but we could never afford it. Now, we have them. I'll be setting them up next Monday/Tuesday, so I'll have them for the four shows I'm designing in The Antidepressant Festival (and everyone else will have them as well, of course).

Some lovely gatherings this past Memorial Day weekend -- seeing my father and stepmother on Sunday (I made people jealous later mentioning the mojitos and homemade cardamom ice cream, yum) and then a barbeque at Gyda's prior to Blood rehearsal on Monday. With the heat (sometimes) and the humidity (ditto), it all became a dreamy slide of sensation that achieved that equal balance of very enjoyable and very very tiring. Still recovering a bit from that.

Gyda's finished the trailer for this year's installment of the smash hit interactive theatre experience from last year's Brick Summer Festival, Suspicious Package: Rx. I'm pleased to be prominently featured in it (though not pleased by the feature of my prominent gut - yes, I'm dieting and exercising as I undergo PT for the nerve problem in my leg), and Berit's hands actually make a cameo appearance at the end of the trailer.

Here's Gyda's trailer, which is a good leadin to the whole piece -- I've seen just about all the footage, I think, and this should be a doozy . . .

And for sheer cuteness' sake, here's a pygmy jerboa . . .

collisionwork: (welcome)
Well, here we are, Friday again, and I'm back with what has become a "necessary" once-a-week update.

There's been some rethinking going on, it would appear, in some of the other theatre blogs, with the writers doing some self- and soul-searching about "why am I doing this?" or "what am I trying to say?" or "have I run out of things to say?" or some such. That's not going on here. I know what I'm doing and what this blog is about, even if I'm not doing much of it right now. I'm just being . . . I dunno . . . lazy, perhaps? At least about taking on certain subjects to blog about.

I have many ideas each week as to things to write about here, but the more I think about any of these ideas, the more they grow out of control and I realize I'd be looking at having to write an actual united essay rather than a loose confederation of interesting thoughts and concepts, and I don't feel I'll get out of the writing enough useful data versus the energy I'd put into it.

The purpose of this place is to be a running account of someone who is making Art-stuff and thinking about it and how the more airy nothings of abstract thought about the work become practicalities in the real world of actually nailing these delicate pieces of creation into being, often with clumsy, rudimentary tools. Including running accounts of what things feed the process of learning about and making these things - other art, music, words, thoughts that come in and change or expand the mindset (with the additional thought that writing about these things may clarify for me what they mean to me and how I can use them in my own work).

Now, as it's been months since direct work has been happening on most of my own work, these thoughts have been somewhat in hibernation. I've been focusing a lot on input, but haven't had much to let go with about what I've been taking in.

But as my "season" of shows -- that is, the four August shows I'll be producing/designing/directing plus the show for Trav S.D. I'm directing in November -- swings into actual production, I think the energy to write about the process (and related issues) will return somewhat.

First thing of note with the August shows is that I've postponed Spacemen from Space until next year and replaced it with a new, smaller show (currently and very-definitely-working-titled BBQ). Spacemen was just becoming too damned big to do in rep with the three other shows -- it needed a cast of 22, lots of costumes, props, projections, and set pieces, plus I'd only barely begun writing it and wasn't sure if I was on the right track, tonally (it's a hard line to walk, being both pastiche-parody and social satire at the same time). When I do a month of four shows, I think only one of them can be an immense, two-act work, and this year that slot is taken by A Little Piece of the Sun. Also, I was writing the show with a lot of specific actors in mind that I wanted to be in it, and many of them couldn't do it this year, and replacing them would involve a large auditioning process I don't have time for.

BBQ is a smaller piece that comes out of the work I'm doing with (and at the suggestion of) David Finkelstein. David and I have been doing our improv work on an almost weekly basis recently, which he has been videotaping for transformation into video-art pieces -- something he has been doing for years with several different performing partners. I'll be going into more detail about our work soon -- I wasn't sure if David wanted me to write about it publicly until last week, but he has suggested I do so. His own posts about his work can be found HERE at the Improvisation Forum on his Lake Ivan website, which includes, as the last few posts, some of David's notes to me on the work we're doing.

From the work we've done so far -- five videotaping sessions after several weeks of learning the process and rehearsing -- several good "pieces" have emerged (as David has noted, and I agree, all of the work we've done would probably be interesting in a theatrical context, even when we're not at our best, but only certain improvs, when videotaped, become interesting fodder for David to make a video piece from).

David thought one piece we created together thus far was worth working on for his purposes, and suggested that it might be interesting if I transcribed the improvised text we spoke and used it as the text of a theatre piece I would create, which could run on a double bill with the video that he would be creating. I very very much took to this idea, and when it became apparent that SFS couldn't go on this year, I turned to this as a workable alternative, as I have been determined that in my month of shows I present each August, one of them at least had to be an original play (in this case, co-original, but that counts).

So in the piece of video David is working on, he and I keep using a lot of imagery related to barbeques and sacrifices, so we've just been calling it Barbeque and Sacrifice as a placeholder name (I assume), but it's become BBQ on all my scheduling documents, so that's what it is for me right now. Right now I have the show down for 7 performances in August, but I'm hoping to maybe get another 2 in. David notes that it usually takes a few months longer than he would have to make up a final version of one of his videos (they involve many, many layers of complex, computer-created imagery, plus an original score), but it's probably possible to have a "first draft" video ready to be used, which is fine.

Ah, yes, I just mentioned scheduling . . . I sent out a first draft of the proposed rehearsal schedules for the other three shows -- A Little Piece of the Sun by Daniel McKleinfeld, George Bataille's Bathrobe by Richard Foreman, and Blood on the Cat's Neck by Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- to the actors cast right now (Piece is fully cast; Blood is missing one person and I'm waiting for someone I want to decide yea or nay; Bathrobe is missing three people, two of whom I'll have to do an audition call for, still). More conflicts coming in, and a second draft will have to be made and sent out by Monday. Not too bad, though, not like last year, which was a nightmare of scheduling. So we're moving forward on those fronts. I have to remind myself, so I'll do it here, to email Mr. Foreman and mention I'm planning on doing a play of his this year and just check to be sure he's okay with it and can send me the letter I'll need for the Equity Showcase forms (Richard's never seemed to care too much about me just deciding to go ahead and do a play of his, but well, I should check).

So, shows move forward. We have a first reading of Trav S.D.'s Kitsch in another couple of weeks, and it looks like we'll have a good cast for the reading that we might be lucky enough to keep around for the final production.

Also, I'm writing a new play -- David's improvisation technique has actually opened up the creative floodgates for me in a number of ways, and I'm using the process to write something called Fat Guy Fall Down. The basic "feel" of the play came to me while trying to get to sleep last week, and thinking of The Brick's upcoming Fight Festival, and wondering what kind of show I would do if I were to try and make something for that Festival (there's no chance in hell I'll have time to do anything for it this year, so I'll have to save the script for a future FightFest or just some other occasion). Once there's more to it, I'll post some of Fat Guy as it comes together. It's kinda nasty and seems to be an abstract intellectual discussion told through the medium of dirty little fistfights and bloody noses.

Meanwhile, back in the iPod, here's today's Random Ten from the the 25,299 tracks in there:

1. "Snakeface" - Throwing Muses - University
2. "The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man" - The Rolling Stones - Singles Collection: The London Years
3. "Dark as a Dungeon" - Johnny Cash - Unearthed
4. "Taboo" - The Cramps - Fiends of Dope Island
5. "Birthday" - Martin Mull - Normal
6. "Hot Plate Heaven At The Green Hotel" - Frank Zappa - Broadway The Hard Way
7. "Dust And Dogs" - Pere Ubu - Why I Remix Women
8. "I'm Not Here" - Syd Barrett - download
9. "No, No Cherry" - Frank Zappa - You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Volume 4
10. "LSD Blues" - The Golden Cups - Volume One

And three cat shots -- first, Hooker and Moni, once again, staring out the window . . .
At the Window Again

From just a short time ago this morning, Hooker curled up against the sleeping Berit . . .
Hooker and Berit's Butt

. . . while Moni sits on the nice warm radiator . . .
Rainer Werner & Moni

The damned cold that has held me for several weeks now seems to be loosening its grip quite a bit, though Berit is still in the midst of it. There are two shows I want to see that close in the next couple of days (Power at The Metropolitan Playhouse and Times:365:24:7 at The Brick), and I'm still deciding if I'm feeling able to sit through an extended piece of theatre without having an extended coughing fit, or causing great distress to myself by suppressing one.

I'm sure it will be fine when, next week, I get to see my first (yes, FIRST!) Wooster Group piece. I can't explain, to anyone's satisfaction, including my own, the silly and bizarre combinations of inner and external reasons that despite living here for 23 years, with plenty of opportunities, I've never seen any of LeCompte's work, but finally this important gap in my education will receive a tiny bit of filling . . .

collisionwork: (Selector)
Cough cough cough. Cough. Cough, c-cough-cough. Cough. Cough cough. Cough. Cough-cough-cough-cough-cough. Hack. Cough.

And that's what things are like around the homestead this week.

Not much is getting done this week. Some research, in both viewing and reading, for Spacemen from Space, but the cold (or whatever it is) that has gripped Berit and myself (in my case, for 12 days now), though on the upward swing it would seem, is still hanging on and taking its own damn time about leaving. And as it began with several days of a nasty cough before manifesting any other symptoms, it's leaving the same way.

So work is happening somewhat on the four August shows, but not as fast as I'd like, as it's hard to concentrate. I've asked some good actors to fill the open roles in Blood on the Cat's Neck and George Bataille's Bathrobe, and, happily, a couple have agreed and another couple are giving it a few days to look it over and see if it fits their schedule, but seem positive. I have to email some more of them back and check in, and sit down with all the schedules I've received and work out a rehearsal/performance schedule. And work out an audition for the two dancer/actors I need for Bathrobe, which is not something I'm looking forward to (I've never auditioned dancers before - help has been offered by Becky Byers, which is appreciated).

Finally found and got ahold of the rights holders for the Fassbinder play (Blood) and found it'll cost me $75 per performance, so I'd better be sure to sell at least 5 tickets for each performance. Now, how many performances of that one do I feel able to pay for? At least nine. As many as twelve?

A Little Piece of the Sun is pretty much ready to start work as soon as I work out a rehearsal schedule and get it set with the actors, so I need to spend today/tomorrow doing that. Have to concentrate and remember to get that done. The mix of (at various points of the day and night) Dayquil, Nyquil, Tylenol Cold and Mucinex D makes this difficult at times.

I hate this sick.

This past week, the main thing was the final episode of Bryan Enk and Matt Gray's Penny Dreadful, three performances on Saturday and Sunday, and it was a glorious conclusion -- excellent performances and terrific audiences, both in size and reaction (we sold out, or nearly sold out, all the houses, and they laughed and shrieked in all the right places).

Here's most of the cast of 22 that performed the episode (minus Adam Swiderski, who had to run to a class), plus Bryan Enk (center) and myself (lower left corner, holding the severed head), so we have 23 out of the 67 actors that have performed in the serial since it began in November, 2007:
PENNY 12 company

The videos for the first 11 episodes are still up at the title link above, and I'm sure the video/synopsis for #12 will join them fairly soon.

It was an honor to work on this terrific serial, and get to direct one full episode (#5), act in a couple of others as George Westinghouse (#6 and #10), design the lights and some other technical elements for all 12.5 episodes (a fun, challenging, and ultimately very satisfying job, keeping a consistent look to the series using whatever I had in the house plot for the mainstage show), and, finally, direct the finale of Episode #12, Act I, where I got to finish the story of the poor little witch/rich girl, mad, sad, crazy Abigail Pierce, The Deb of Destruction, as she - SPOILER ALERT - and her Anarchist friends blow up every single world leader (and themselves) at the King of England's funeral in 1910.

(which is why I'm holding a severed head in the picture above, as I dropped it to the stage from the grid as the final punctuation to this horrible act - and to the 1900s part of the Penny Dreadful story - and it got a very satisfying gasp from the three audiences that saw it, heh-heh-heh)

What Bryan and Matt accomplished was, in the end, a helluva achievement: a mix of what is sometimes referred to as High and Low Art (and isn't it, 9 years into the 21st Century, about time to retire the false distinctions? are they actually useful anymore?), mixing the melodrama and plot of the turn-of-the-20th Century pulp fictions with the richer characterizations and acting of the present, and staging styles that mixed vaudeville and music hall with Robert Wilson and Wooster Group, opera with rock and roll, classical with modern, all in one unified, crowd-pleasing and crowd-satisfying (which are two different things) work of serial fiction that was able to excite both the brain and the gut. This may have been the most - crazy and frustrating as it was to get the tech right a lot of the time - sheer FUN and EXCITEMENT I've had working in theatre in many many years.

I will miss Penny Dreadful. A lot.

Onward to August and beyond . . .

Currently in the iPod: 25,525 tracks. My cleaning out and replacing of tracks I don't need in there with ones I do has now gotten through letters A through F, and X through Z (and songs with numbers starting their titles). Still working on it. Here's a Random Ten from what's in there:

1. "Busy Bodies" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Armed Forces
2. "Inside Outside" - The Knaves - Leave Me Alone
3. "It Serves Me Right" - John Lee Hooker - The Ultimate Collection: 1948-1990
4. "I'll Be There" - Tony Worsley - Before Birdmen Flew - Australian Beat, R&B & Punk: 1965-1967 Vol. 3
5. "Jack Of Diamonds" - The Daily Flash - Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era, Vol. 3
6. "Come Back To Me" - X - Under The Big Black Sun
7. "Lucky Fellow" - LeRoy Hutson - LeRoy Hutson
8. "Bloodsucker Baby" - D.O.A. - Hardcore '81
9. "Blues In The Night" - The Cleftones - For Sentimental Reasons
10. "The Way You Do The Things You Do" - Manfred Mann - Mann Made

And as for today's cat shots, I don't have much in the way of anything new and interesting, so here's a few alternate shots, similar to ones I already posted:
Moni Is a Bridge

Hooker, Thoughtful?

Fun Size:Family Size in Window

With My Foot As Pillow, Again

And one of the fun things about Times:365:24:7, the show currently up at The Brick, is that they have lights all over the place, as they're using almost every bit of the space for performance, including the tech booth, so Berit had a nice little creepy birdie by the light board she could turn on when we were working Penny Dreadful, if she wanted to make a point as she boomed over the god-mic:
Berit Gets Lit in the Tech Booth

Coming up this weekend, more work on my shows, preparing for the benefit for UTC#61's Festival of Jewish Theatre and Ideas coming up next Tuesday (separate announcement to be posted soon for that), and another afternoon of work on the continuing improvisation/video project of David Finkelstein's. I have to write at more length about this work with David, which has been very valuable to me in many many ways right now, but it will take some time to organize my thoughts, I think.

And hey, in the three hours since I started making this post . . . since I'm always doing several things at once online and never make one of these straight through . . . it appears my cold symptoms have reduced to the near-nonexistent. This bodes well.

collisionwork: (sleep)
My current shows aren't so current. I've got three or four paper projects that won't be three-dimensional for months yet, and that's boring and frustrating. I just closed three hard shows a little over a month ago, with a fourth just before that, and I should be sitting back and just thinking about next year's projects. Be Mr. Ivory Tower for a bit before going back to being Mr. Hammer-And-Nails. But for some reason I'm really antsy and want to be on my feet and directing actors. Right now, that'd be walking before I can crawl.

So, I need to do some rewrites on A Little Piece of the Sun and then have the actual author of the play go over them and rewrite or adapt or approve my rewrites. I have to keep reading the text of Foreman's George Bataille's Bathrobe to find more of why I'm doing it and who the people are that are saying these lines. And I need to watch a whole bunch of 1940s Republic movie serials for more inspiration on Spacemen from Space. And maybe I need to stop the continual thoughts of Fassbinder's Blood on the Cat's Neck that keep coming up - I'm doing the OTHER three plays in August '09, so stop making me think I can do a fourth, oh you sneaky Fassbinder play!

I'm trying to figure out a "theme" or "festival" heading I can place my shows under. I've found that some places - well, Time Out New York specifically - won't list my shows separately when I do a group together in August, and they get listed in a way that I don't think sells them so well. So I want to get the jump on it and find the linkage I can exploit and promote myself, so it's not just the "Gemini CollisionWorks" Festival or worse, as it always gets referred to, the "Ian W. Hill" Festival. Yuck. What's the connecting theme of these plays? Lying? Deception? Anti-intellectualism? Maybe that's a good name, the "Anti-Intellectual Festival." Sounds like a bunch of plays you don't have to think at, but are actually dense plays about anti-intellectualism. "Dope-Fest?" "Stupid-O-Rama?" "The Cretin Hop?" "A Celebration of Bad Judgment?" "The Wrongheaded Festival?" "Idiots Abound?"

In any case, that then there's The Future. As for The Present, I've got two shows I was tangentially involved with going on or opening tonight:

Lord Oxford Explains

photo by Ken Stein/Runs With Scissors Photography.

Above, Robert Honeywell as Lord Oxford (your host), Gyda Arber as Greta (representing the Northern European Peoples), Iracel Rivero as Lucia (representing the Southern European Peoples), Audrey Crabtree as Patty O'Pattycake (Western Europe/the UK) and Alyssa Simon as Nataliya (Eastern Europe/Asia) in

Lord Oxford brings you The Second American Revolution LIVE!.

Being an episode of a variety show taking place in a 2008 where George Washington was killed in the original Battle of Brooklyn, Sally Hemmings slit Thomas Jefferson's throat as he slept, and the British Crown still rules its New World colonies. On this night, the actors in the show revolt against the stereotyped "European" characters they are normally forced to play and join in a Second American Revolution against their British oppressors across the sea and the privileged peoples to the South (the freed Negro slaves, now Lords) and the West (the Native Americans). With musical numbers, clowning, politics, disturbing imagery, and potentially confusing or offensive metaphors!

written and composed by Robert Honeywell

directed by Moira Stone

I saw the final dress/tech of this the other night and it's a grand production. I'm sure I'll be back soon - Berit's off preparing for opening night of this now; she's board-opping and she built a few props and did other things. I shot the video coda and recorded a voice-over for them (the "Lord Oxford Show" announcer, in full Gary-Owens-Radio-School-For-Big-Voiced-Men mode, always fun to pull out).

Interested? Click the link in the title above for more info.

And still playing, in another borough:

Last Waltz #1 - Blood Siblings and Victim

photo by Aaron Epstein

Above, the Brothers and Sister Blood torment another poor soul in

The Blood Brothers present... The Master of Horror

stories by Stephen King, adapted for the stage by

James Comtois, Qui Nguyen, and Mac Rogers

directed by Patrick Shearer and Pete Boisvert

Now running smoothly, I'm told, and getting good notices (though my work - I did the light design - has gotten some mixed criticism, but it's mostly because of the limitations of the space and house plot I had to work with, so, whatever). A fun, creepy evening.

Interested? Click the link in the title above for more info.

In other electrical locales . . .

Ron Howard made a little pro-Obama movie with some old friends of his (one VERY old friend of his) - thanks be to Joshua James at his Daily Dojo for passing it on.

I also wanted to share it, despite feeling kinda odd about it. I wasn't sure how to describe this odd feeling, but David Pescovitz over at Boing Boing captured it: "It's funny, cute, sentimental, and incredibly awkward and horrifying all at once." Enjoy:

The Return of Opie Cunningham )

Also from Funny or Die, a more immediate solution to Our Nation's troubles is suggested by Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones:

The Best Course of Action )

Oh, and, uh, have you heard? Alan Greenspan appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has decided he made a widdle mistakey . . .

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Referring to his free-market ideology, Mr. Greenspan added: “I have found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.”

Mr. Waxman pressed the former Fed chair to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,” Mr. Waxman said.

“Absolutely, precisely,” Mr. Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

Oh. Oops.

The full article in the New York Times is HERE.

If you really want to know just how "exceptionally well" this free-market ideology has been going for the past 40 years, I recommend the incredibly depressing book The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein, which makes the whole subject easy-to-understand for people like me who find the whole world of invisible money difficult in the first place, and is a fine and horrifying look at the mindset that has led us into the current crisis.

The filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and his son Jonas made a kind of short-film/trailer/promo for the book that I appreciated (and maybe posted?) when it appeared over a year ago. Now that I've read the book, I appreciate it much more:

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE by Cuarón, Cuarón, and Klein )

At times like this, sometimes I wish I had a device like this one, which can transform a boring apartment into a loud, sleazy, smoke-filled club with just the push of a BIG RED BUTTON. Really:


For more cheer, I read the fine fine superfine Kim Morgan at her four(!) locales, Sunset Gun, Pretty Poison, Strange Impersonation, and Movies Filter.

I mention her today because she posted a brief appreciation of one of my favorite DAMNED LOUD 60s bands, The Sonics, earlier, which included a great video for the song "Psycho." So go visit her site over there at the link to the post above if you want to see some odd, crazed, 1960s TV go-go dancing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just got the brand-new Electric Six album, and Berit's running the show right now, so I can boogie like an idiot all by myself at home. And only the cats will know how stupid I look . . .

collisionwork: (spaghetti cat)
A week of cleaning house (literally and figuratively), working on scripts, and thinking about what's next.

I thought I had my final director's draft for my August, 2009 production of A Little Piece of the Sun finished - I had made some minor cleaning changes and cuts here and there and had them approved by playwright Daniel McKleinfeld, and I was planning to send it out to the actors I'd like to have in the show, when I started doing some more research on what's gone on at Chernobyl since Daniel wrote it in 2000. ALPOTS is a documentary play, almost all found text, mixing the stories of the serial killer Andrei Chikatilo and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, so at the time it was written, the latter story was still ongoing - as it is today - as the Russian government continues to try and figure out what to do to keep containing the radioactive lava still inside the concrete sarcophagus built around Chernobyl Reactor Unit #4. Which is falling apart. They now have a plan for a new structure to go around it by 2012 that will last a hundred years. Which isn't as long as the radioactive lava will remain harmful, but they figure the Russians of 100 years hence will figure out what to do with it by then. Ha. Ha.

So I have to go into the ending of the show (where the cast sums up the post-Chernobyl situation) and add that fact and one or two others I've found that should be mentioned (Daniel had mentioned back when we first did the show that the evacuated and desolate area around the plant, including the ghost city of Pripyat, is known as "The Zone," partially in tribute to the similar area in the Tarkovsky film Stalker, but I didn't know that the full term for it is often translated as "The Zone of Alienation," which I have to get in there somewhere). And then have it re-approved by Daniel so I can send it out to actors.

Very little work on the Foreman play, George Battaile's Bathrobe. Some thinking about the "space opera" piece. I need a working title for that at least. I need some more input and inspiration for those pieces - they're yelling at me, but from a distance, and I can't quite make out what they're saying but I know it's important and must be dealt with right now.

I think, maybe, I'm just getting the sense, that the space opera piece - to be based around old Republic movie serials and Rocky Jones and other mid-20th-Century sci-fi trash - is about changing views of science and American anti-intellectualism in general, filtered through a world where science is only valued if it is flashy and dramatic to the point of hyperbole and impossibility. As Berit says sardonically, now that I've told her this, "Ah, another cheerful show."

Maybe it should be in chapters - with titles and cliffhangers and "period ads" between the episodes . . .

Those seem to be the three plays for August - ALPOTS, Bataille, and the space opera piece, which for the time being I will now refer to by stealing an old title from my friends Sean Rockoff and Jim Baker, Spacemen from Space - but I'm also now very interested again in doing Fassbinder's play Blood on the Cat's Neck. Though I always actually wanted to do that as part of a "FassbinderFest" of plays, which keeps being mentioned around The Brick apparently. I don't know if anything will come of that. Maybe I'll look into what the rights for the Fassbinder will cost me, and that will put an end to my production dreams.

Berit's working every day on the upcoming Lord Oxford Brings You the Second American Revolution, Live! by Robert Honeywell, directed by Moira Stone, which looks like a good production (I was hanging around during the first runthru). I also wound up shooting the video coda to the piece (a talk show taking place 5 years after the events of the play) for Moira, and, as always, it was nice being behind a camera again. I need to find an idea for something to do in film or video. Nothing comes to mind, except the short comedy-horror piece Berit and I want to make for one of Bryan Enk's Sinister Six yearly horror compilations. Well, that and novel adaptations where I'd never be able to get/afford the rights (Vurt by Jeff Noon is highest on the list). Ah, well. Sometime.

The new episode of Penny Dreadful plays tomorrow and the day after, lights and other tech stuff by me and Berit. We did our usual dry tech the other day, but didn't have time to finish the whole show, so we have to go into The Brick at 7.00 am (AARRRGH!) tomorrow to finish it before the actors come so we can have it all ready for the evening - we have to be out by noon (Lord Oxford is teching) so it's not a lot of time. This episode - the first of Penny's "Season Two" - looks to be up to the standard of all the others. I love doing this show.

I haven't posted since a week ago, the day after opening night of Nosedive's The Blood Brothers present... The Master of Horror. Opening night of that was, as I said, being tactful . . . rough. James Comtois has written about it accurately and a little less tact than I did, as he (as co-writer/producer) felt able to. He points to the reviews as well, one of which was pretty bad (attended opening night) and one was okay (attended later). I've gotten some nice personal comments about my lighting, though I'm sure the cues in "Nona" are still pretty hard to pull off (and even the good review notes the tech problems). James says the show's in much better shape now - and the acting always worked anyway - so if it sounds interesting to you, it will be, go and enjoy.

They did a photo call, and Aaron Epstein took some really great shots. I saved my favorites over on my Flickr site, and all of them can be seen at the Nosedive site, but here are my favorites of the favorites:

from "The Last Waltz #1":
Last Waltz #1
from "Nona":
Nona - Entering the Diner
Nona - The Killing in the Car
Nona - The Cop
from "Quitters, Inc.":
Quitters, Inc. - Remembering the Torture
from "Paranoid: A Chant":
Paranoid- A Chant - Opening
Paranoid- A Chant - Close
from "In the Deathroom":
In the Deathroom - Interrogation
from "The Last Waltz #5":
Last Waltz #5

Nice shots. Glad to have 'em.

So, besides all the theatre, here's the regular music stuff. I'm still wedding out unnecessary songs from the iPod, which has gotten too packed for me to put it any more music that I really want in there. So here's a Random Ten with notes as to whether or not I can remove the songs . . .

1. "Shut Up" - The Monks - Black Monk Time

A favorite from a bunch of Americans playing loud simple garage rock in Germany in 1965, dressed as monks, with heavy use of organ and electrified banjo. Beautiful. Stays, of course.

2. "Dandy in the Underworld" - T.Rex - Dandy in the Underworld

I've eliminated some T.Rex from the iPod - I had SO much and not all of it is top-drawer - but this stays. I bought Electric Warrior and Dandy in the Summer of 1987, and they became my theme music for that fun age 19 Summer in NYC, studying film all day and, um, doing other things at night.

This song brings back those days instantly, as well as always being, in my head, about my dear friend and roommate from that time who introduced me to T.Rex and so much of the music that means so much to me now. "Gypsy explorer of the New Jersey heights . . ."

3. "Blazing Saddles" - Frankie Laine - Blazing Saddles soundtrack

Just too funny and unlikely to drop. Stays. The iPod is throwing up too many good things I have to keep today.

4. "Jailhouse Rock" - Elvis Presley - The Complete 50's Masters

Okay, come ON, iPod! Give me something I can eliminate!

This is one of my "25 Favorite Recordings of All Time." I consciously know Elvis did "better" songs, maybe even some "better" performances, but he never made a better record than this. Nothing on earth sounds like this record does.

Written and (uncredited) produced by Leiber & Stoller. Piano by Mike Stoller.

5. "Looking for the Magic" - Phil Seymour - Phil Seymour

Who? What? Ah, this got on when I didn't think I'd use up 80 gigs on the iPod and I was putting on all kinds of pop music I was finding for "variety" in random shuffles, and to surprise myself with songs I really didn't know.

Nice new wavey-pop trash, but not good enough. This one gets removed.

6. "Willie and the Hand Jive" - Johnny Otis - Back to the 50s 05

The Bo Diddley beat is co-opted by a white Greek cat passing as a Black man into yet another classic (so it stays, of course). Damn, Johnny's still alive and cookin'. Good for him.

7. "Uala Ualal" - Jorge Ben - Samba Esquema Novo

Huh? Okay - my liking of lounge music and "Space-Age Bachelor Pad"-style stuff led to a brief infatuation with sambas, as I recall. Nice now, but not needed. Gets dropped.

8. "Upa Neguino" - Augusto Martelli - Cinematica - Italian Soundtracks from the 60's and 70's

And in a similar vein, a pretty cool, but maybe not enough - no, not enough - Italian movie song. Yeah, pretty good, but I've got DOZENS of similar, but better ones. Drop.

9. "Satisfy" - Jonathan Richman - Surrender to Jonathan

And heresy! - here's a Richman song that I think will actually go. I love JoJo, but damn I have a lot, and I don't need all of it. Lots of better ones. This goes.

10. "Caught You in the Act" - Mel & Tim - Good Guys Only Win in the Movies

Some damn good soul that I don't know as well as a lot of bigger acts/songs, so I'm keeping it.

A site I read also does a Friday Random Ten, but the main blogger there has recently encouraged people to put up their lists as made by the new Apple iTunes 8 "Genius" function, which can make up some interestingly odd lists (as long as you feed it something of just the right level of obscurity - if you feed it anything remotely "classic" - even a Punk "classic" - you'll get a playlist of other "classics"). I've enjoyed feeding Genius some strange songs and seeing what the various algorithms in it decide should go with that song (and I wonder how it knows to pull certain songs that come from bootlegs or mix disks made for me by friends). Here's the first ten from the most recent Genius playlist of 25 I made up (by accident, actually, just slipping and hitting the button while the first song was playing):

1. "About Her" - Malcolm McLaren - Kill Bill, Vol. 2
2. "I'm Not There (1956)" - Bob Dylan & The Band - A Tree With Roots
3. "You Are My Sunshine" - Norman Blake - Rato's Nostalgia Collection 26
4. "Caravan" - Puccio Roelens - Phase Six Superstereo
5. "Il Triello" - Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
6. "Within You" - David Bowie - Magic Dance 12"
7. "Teen Horniness Is Not A Crime" - Sarah Michelle Gellar, Abbey McBride & ClarKent - Southland Tales
8. "Long Time Woman" - Pam Grier - Jackie Brown
9. "Philadelphia" - Neil Young - Philadelphia
10. "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" - Pink Floyd - The Pop Side of The Floyd 1967-1972

That is one odd group of songs (and the full playlist gets weirder - it stops by soundtrack pieces from the original Star Trek, Dark Shadows, and Man from U.N.C.L.E., then Fire Walk With Me and Black Snake Moan, and then ends with The Brady Bunch doing "Time To Change"). I think it's bringing some of these together because they are from soundtrack albums or at least have been featured in films (all but 3 and 4, as far as I know, fit this category). Odder still is the fact that the damn thing actually works and flows. Berit thinks, since iTunes does keep info on how many beats-per-second a song runs at, that it tries to match tempo/speed, which it does seems to do.

Okay - long catchup post, stuff to do now. I have a cat demanding attention, and jumping and drooling all over me (Hooker actually, yes, drools when he is ultra-happy and getting attention, which is both sweet and icky), and I need some breakfast.

And remember, The Crimson Ghost sez . . .
The Crimson Ghost

SCIENCE will defeat you fools and save the WORLD!


collisionwork: (Default)

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