collisionwork: (welcome)
Matt Gray has passed on news I'd missed regarding a proposed amendment to the economic stimulus bill that affects (or potentially affects) many of us in the arts and crafts (and some other potentially positively stimulated areas).

It uses some lovely weasel language to equate the Arts (and aquariums and zoos, for that matter), which, yes are not NECESSARY but which have been shown to actually provide economic stimulus (and eventual increased tax revenue) by equating these pursuits with a number of outright luxury fripperies ("zero-gravity chairs?").

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has introduced an amendment to prohibit funds in the economic stimulus bill from going to theaters and arts centers.

The language of the amendment, (Amendment No. 175, as filed) is, "None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, arts center, or highway beautification project, including renovation, remodeling, construction, salaries, furniture, zero-gravity chairs, big screen televisions, beautification, rotating pastel lights, and dry heat saunas."

This amendment may be offered as early as today, Wednesday, February 4th. Call your Senators today and urge a NO vote on the Coburn "Limitation of Funds Amendment No. 175." To reach your Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators' offices.





Or if, like me, you have a phone phobia (though phoning is ALWAYS better than emailing), you can find your senators through the home page HERE and leave the message. Unfortunately, it appears that new New York Senator Gillebrand does not as yet have an online presence or comment form, so you have to call her office (202-224-4451).

Thanks for your attention.

Civics

Nov. 4th, 2008 09:51 am
collisionwork: (escape)
The purpose of this place here where I write is to deal with the day-to-day things that feed me as an Artist-type-person. Which means that besides writing about my shows, other peoples' shows I'm working on, promotions for and processes of these things, I do post things that feed me as a person, hence, as an artist - usually this means music, cats, other arts, and sometimes humor (ie; those things that make life bearable). Some things, like, say, the Halloween party photos from last entry, make me feel a bit uncomfortable, like I've gotten off the track - but since a large percent of the people who read this are close friends anyway, sometimes I do a little something that's pretty much for just them. Whatever. It's my place.

Politics has always been a fuzzy subject for me to deal with here - it's not the purpose of the space, but it's been more and more informing the work that IS the purpose of the writing here. So as I've moved towards making political theatre work - World Gone Wrong, That's What We're Here For, my version of Foreman's Symphony of Rats, my version of Hamlet, Spell, Everything Must Go - a lot of which probably doesn't seem political to anyone but me and Berit, since we were the ones planning, discussing, and debating them during their creation, and who know what we were trying to say with those shows, and good for us for keeping it subtle - politics has come into this space more and more.

For most of my adult life (say ages 18-30), I've been a fairly (and admitted) wishy-washy bleeding-heart liberal who accepted the Democratic party as the closest thing to my beliefs in the public arena, so I might as well come out and vote for them every four years and not think about it the rest of the time. Whatever. Art was more important - I'd focus on that, first and foremost.

That began changing, for reasons, unknown to me, even before the election of our current President. My shows mainly concerned various states of psychic/emotional/spiritual/sociological confusion and splitting - being torn in multiple directions by the things that make us human. Politics, if apparent, was a symptom of a much greater disease evident in the state of merely being a member of our species.

Then I did a production of Foreman's Miss Universal Happiness in 1999 that posed a question that had begun eating at me - if Art cannot, in fact, change Humanity for the better, as it appears it can't, and you begin to think that the only way to accomplish any real, and potentially, ultimately, positive change is through violent revolution, then isn't it incumbent upon you to give up the Art and start making bombs?

That show ended in violent chaos, the question unanswered, the bomb delivered back to destroy the American Patriot Terrorist by a couple of Beauty Pageant Angels (Mr. and Miss Universal Happiness) and a Christian-Marxist Prostitute. I wound up answering the question for myself this year - NO - in Spell.

Where this came from then, I dunno. I had been very political from ages 15-18, and I have no idea why that happened either. I think it came from joining student groups opposed to nuclear war and realizing the daftness of that whole scene - I mean, who supported nuclear war, right? It seemed, the more I looked into it then, that the whole USA/Soviet nuclear race was a fine bit of misdirection to keep people from finding about about the truly scummy, dirty, illegal and unConstitutional things out government was doing in other places - primarily at that point, Central and South America (this is '83-86, a fine time for traitorous scumbaggery in our Nation's capital). So I joined other groups and worked for several years in protest of those actions - helping bring speakers from Nicaragua and El Salvador up to Massachusetts to speak to schools and colleges and so on (somewhere in Washington, there's a little file with my name on it, I'm sure . . .)

Then, I became disillusioned by looking even further into the matters and discovering that the issues were even more complex and dark, and while my government's actions were heinous, I couldn't in good conscience always give my full support to the alternative. And often, the people I was working with turned out to be morally bankrupt themselves, not really caring about the issues as much as being knee-jerk contrarians simply against the status quo - if it hadn't been the Reagan years and actually some kind of vaguely-leftist time, they would have been reactionary conservatives. It was clear that the enemy of my enemy was not at ALL necessarily my friend.

So, with a fine feeling of "to hell with ALL of youse," I went off to film school at NYU and did pretty much nothing but Art-stuff for many years. Yeah, I got beaten by cops in Tompkins Square in '88, as I wrote about, but I was primarily there as a documentarian for a friend and got in the middle of a bad scene I didn't expect.

In my work, I became purely interested in the way human beings work, or don't, internally - the mind/body problem, the struggle between heart and head, the location or existence of "the spirit," how trustworthy in any way are our perceptions, that sort of thing. And I moved from Film to Theatre, but that's another story, and even less clear to me.

Something started changing in me while working at, and living in the basement of, Nada on Ludlow Street from 1996-2000 (for you young 'uns and non NYC theatre folk, this was a theatre, it was cool and beautiful for a time, we did good work there, I can say no more without bringing up VERY bad feelings and old conflicts). No idea why, but it did. I think maybe it was because I had begun to read more on American History, which fascinates me, and the more and broader I read about the past, the more I could see clearly exactly what was happening in the present, and worse.

A week before we were evicted from that space, Berit and I, still a new couple, watched the 2000 election on the old early-'70s Sony Trinitron I had there, with the rabbit ears. Stayed up most of the night in amazement at the drama of the election, but not entirely concerned about how it went, one way or the other. I had voted for Nader - and I admit it happily. New York was definitely going Gore, and I agreed more with Nader than Gore anyway. One thing had become clear to me by that point in my life, and remains true today, that I wouldn't vote for anyone on the actual Democratic or Republican ticket unless I absolutely HAD to - which DOES happen, as I generally won't sit out from a vote in any category, and some people run unopposed, or on several tickets I don't like. I didn't think the 2000 election would change things all too much.

Well, it has and it hasn't. Frankly, a lot of the evil that's been done the last eight years has ALWAYS been going on, and maybe we can be at least grateful to the current Administration for being so shamelessly horrible that more people at least got distracted from the bread & circuses and realized, "hey, these aren't such good things happening here." Again, I've been reading a lot about the Country these last ten years -- most of the evil here has ALWAYS been here, and these times are not unusual.

At the same time, the stakes have gotten higher. And the last eight years have been . . . well, the last eight years. We are now dealing with actions that have consequences that CAN'T just be "fixed" when they blow up on us. The planet itself is in trouble, and Our Fearless Leaders seem to care more about how to plunder it during the brief time they're here and get away with it, and merely LOOK like they're doing something positive, than actually doing anything.

I am continually amazed at the depths to which These Leaders will sink in pursuit of power and money -- Berit never is, and I don't think any politician could possibly sink low enough to surprise her - I think, if it were discovered tomorrow that the President and Vice-President were sacrificing 15-year-old virgins to appease Yog-Suggoth while sodomizing goats and eating live kittens, she'd shrug and ask, "Well, what do you expect from those people?." But then, her earliest memories of politics - and not positive ones - are of the Reagan era, and mine is of watching Nixon resign and thinking that I was learning that the "Bad Guys" always get caught, even if they're the President.

The stakes got high enough that my own work changed and my precepts about keeping politics out of them went by the wayside. I think I've handled the shift well, myself, continuing to put the cart behind the horse by putting the Art before the coarse.

So, I will vote today, and as you might expect. Hell, no point in being coy about it, of course I'm voting for Obama, much the way I did in '04, for Kerry, and again not on the Democratic ticket but in Row E, under the Working Families Party. At the time of the last election, I debated going for Nader again - I mean the state was going Kerry anyway, definitely, but I decided (and still am conflicted about this) that as unified a front had to be made against the man in the White House as possible, as many single voices. Fat lot of good that did, huh?

There's some less nose-holding this time, and more hope. But as I think I've made clear, I don't really trust ANYONE who's part of the political machines of either the Democrats or Republicans, and Obama has pissed me off on more than a few occasions. I can't just suck it back and put on a smiley face and cheer the man unreservedly, but while I can't completely trust him, I can still have enough hope for and in him to join in, and really feel that I am voting not for a "lesser evil," but for your standard politician who may help some things, good or bad, hinder others, also good or bad, against a MONSTROUS FUCKING EVIL THAT WILL DESTROY THIS COUNTRY. REALLY.

Towards the end of his life, that deep cynic Frank Zappa began a push to register voters at his concerts, and encouraged participation in the Democracy of this land. He felt that Americans had lost touch with what their job was in the process - he partially blamed this on the elimination from most school curriculums of that subject once known as "Civics," which was supposed to teach our kids how the country is supposed to work (he was proud of the fact that, while he had been miserable in school and a mostly-bad student, he had gotten A's in that subject). He began putting statements on his album covers such as, "DON'T FORGET TO REGISTER TO VOTE - THE SYSTEM SOMETIMES WORKS WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IN IT OR NOT," or simply "VOTE!" In that spirit, I join in that message. If I have any hope that's grown over these last eight years, it's that many in this country have begun to pay attention and learn "Civics" on their own, and are no longer being apathetic and claiming they are simply "withdrawing in disgust" (as often as not, a cop-out). I believe in the basics of this experiment that is this country, and I'm pulling for it not to fail.

Four years ago, B & I watched the returns at home, again putting a makeshift antenna on a TV so we'd get reception (we don't normally bother) - which we do, as B says, in times of disaster, like 9/11 or that '04 election.

Berit's up and in the shower, and when's she's out, we're off to vote. Tonight, we'll be with friends in our home theatre, The Brick, where, hopefully, it's all been worked out so we'll have streaming video on the big screen. If not, I'm bringing that 1973 Sony Trinitron, with the old rabbit ears, with me so I can set it up and switch channels around, just like the old days.

And finally, having gone through all that, here's two funny videos to make light of this serious occasion, from Funny or Die:

Vote Calrissian for President!/Another Word from Portman & Jones )



Calling out with hope at the other end of a tin can on a string here in this world gone wrong, I remain your friend.

collisionwork: (comic)
Not much theatre news, except I got dates and times mixed up for when I was planning on seeing the new Trav S.D. show that closes this weekend that a lot of friends are in - I was supposed to go tonight, and I can't see it any other day. Nice work. Sorry friends. Everyone else, you have three more days to see it, and it's supposed to be great. See HERE.

I got distracted, and the day's schedule done gone all wonky, by going in for the first time for jury duty today which was interesting and okay, however I got picked to be on a jury in a civil case (as an alternate yet, so I have to sit through it all and then NOT get any say in the matter). The trial starts next week, so at least I'm not back in tomorrow.

Tomorrow night is the season-opening party at The Brick. That looks to be a good time. Then I'm light-designing the new Nosedive show and doing additional tech help on Robert Honeywell & Moira Stone's new show at The Brick. Penny Dreadful coming up again, too.

I am missing tonight's not-so good time - the Palin/Biden debate - through the pleasant fact that Berit and I don't have television. We have a television of course, a big one, and lots o' videos, but very deliberately no antenna or cable, so I'll just read the reports and transcript later, and maybe subject myself to some online video of bits of it if I feel masochistic. Right now, I'd rather look at videos I'm saving up.

So instead of the horrors of the current rotten political debate, how about a commercial pitch from Johnny Rotten?

Never Mind the Bollocks, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! )



I was a little put off by that ad at first, but my friend Sean noted that, as always, it was just another example of how any form of true rebellion is stolen, de-edged, incorporated into the Status Quo, and used to sell stuff to us, and there's actually something heartening in seeing Johnny Rotten now transformed from "antichrist" to "symbol of England."

Sean also, years ago, made the statement that Johnny Rotten and Brian Wilson were the two living people he believed were to be forgiven any and all screwups they will, have, or may have committed in their lives, as the greatness of their finest work wiped away all their sins. He added that dead people who got this same forgiveness were Buddy Holly and Frank Zappa. I tend to agree.

Sean and I went to a book-signing for Rotten's autobiography when it came out, and got to have a brief conversation with him. There were some young punks (in two senses of the word) across the street from the bookstore, with signs protesting Rotten's having written (and now SELLING!) this book as a "sellout." Very silly. So when Sean and I approached him together, we brought it up:

SEAN: So, uh, did you see those people across the street, protesting you?
ROTTEN: (honestly taken aback and confused) Aw, YEAH, what's that all about, then? What are they angry at me for?
IAN: Making money.
ROTTEN: (with great realization) OHhhhhhhhh! COMM-u-nists!

I just read an article where someone was complaining that "viral videos" have gone downhill in the last few years, pointing to this one below as an example of the kind of charming, funny, bizarre and inexplicable videos that people used to send around that you don't see so much anymore. I don't know if that's true, but I'd never seen this before and it was indeed funny and inexplicable:

Valentine for Perfect Strangers )



Strange things are indeed happening everyday, as Sister Rosetta Tharpe once noted, and here are four other examples of the amazing singing and guitar playing of that great performer:

Sister Rosetta Tharp rocks the gospel, early 1960s )



Also from the 60s - in fact, like me, 40 years old - here's a piece of video newly out on DVD, a performance by Harry Belafonte that was cut by CBS from the Third Season premiere of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour as it includes footage from one of that nasty Summer's nastier moments:

The Whole World Is Watching )



Ah yes, the world is full of fine fine superfine people, and here's a real sign one of them has on their front yard:

Half-Breed Muslin

Personally, I regard him more as a 50/50 cotton/poly blend . . .

If you have a problem with the "Muslins," maybe you can make a request of your own Savior . . .

Jesus Use Me

And, in the midst of all this, for cheeriness' sake, here's 13 adorable seconds of catness:

The Sliding Cat )



Keep your heads up.

collisionwork: (mystery man)
Kept thinking of posting more political quotes and links over the last couple of days, and then the sheer amount of insanity and stupidity just became overwhelming and I wasn't sure I could process it all in one place.

But. It's what I've been looking at and concerned with, and my theatre work has been supervising clowns and some slight working on the scripts of (and thinking about) George Bataille's Bathrobe and A Little Piece of the Sun - just blue-skying about casts, sets, effects, music, and so forth. And trying to find that original show that's just out of mind - like the mental equivalent of being on the tip of your tongue - abstract images dancing there, forming for a moment, then vanishing like a dream when you wake. Frustrating. What the hell IS it that's trying to get out?

Every now and then, between thinking of a show I want to do and looking at what's happening outside my head, I think the show I want to do is called Country of Assholes. Nah, too on the nose.

We rewatched the film of Peter Barnes' play The Ruling Class the other night, and I kept thinking we needed something like that for this time and this country, but I'm not sure that's my bag. Something to think about, in any case . . .

Anyway, here's some of my "favorite" quotes, links, and videos from the past couple of days, in case you missed some of these. I found them from all over the place, but a bunch came from [livejournal.com profile] toddalcott and [livejournal.com profile] flyswatter.

Bill in Portland, ME at Daily Kos points to a Fox News interview from March in which Chris Matthews suggests repeatedly to Henry Paulson that the events that have now played out may well come to pass, and repeatedly gets back the answer that "we're just going to have to wait and see how that plays out." Fine fine planning there. Apparently, as long as we have "confidence" in the markets and firms, everything should be alright. Yeah, this has worked out well.

Perhaps my favorite on-the-record quote in a long time was given to Forbes.com, in what many people, when first seeing, felt just had to be a parody from The Onion:

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."

Wow.



Yeah, that "Wow" is from Forbes, not me. Though I agree.

Nice to see that some of our Nation's reps have some backbone and righteous anger, namely (though I think they're not alone at this point) Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, and Jim McDermott of Washington:

We should not be rolled by a Wall Street exec who is masquerading as Secretary of the Treasury. )



I'm still a bit stunned by the New York Times' account of the meltdown the other evening at the White House meeting to work out the bailout plan. Henry Paulson getting down on his knee before Nancy Pelosi? Barney Frank refereeing an "internal G.O.P. ideological war?" The hell--?

Doesn't it make you feel good to know that we're going along exactly the way Osama Bin Laden said he wanted and expected us to, way back in 2004?

[livejournal.com profile] mcbrennan - Cait - is not a mental health professional, but is a keenly-observant wordsmith who has some experience with the developmentally disabled, and has a "Modest Theory" (which she qualifies as "troubling, but half-baked") regarding Sarah Palin's "word salad" responses to some of the questions she's been asked recently. Troubling, certainly. "Half-baked?" Maybe not. Maybe a little more baked than that.

Didn't anyone around McCain know what happens when you snub Letterman, and then he finds out your excuse is bogus and you're off doing something else? Cher did this to him around 1988, and he did half a show about it that tore her to pieces. Can't make it, fine, but don't lie to the man, or you get something like this:

9:11 of a pissed-off Dave )



I really like Don Hall's summary of how conservatives focus on social issues so much as a smokescreen to avoid their incompetence with fiscal policy:

"Dad. It looks like you've really screwed up the check book and the power has been turned off. Maybe Mom should be in charge of the money."

"Wha? You're a gay abortionist!!"



And never mind about paying attention to tonight's debate, John McCain has already won it - haven't you seen the ads that say so? And it is so, if you say it's so.

Oh, and in the midst of all this, we've now escalated to our forces and Pakistan's actually shooting at each other. This is going to go well. (h/t VetVoice)

Oh, don't worry - The Department of Homeland Security is working on a little something called Project Hostile Intent, a "pre-crime" detector to determine who best to pull out of line and ask a few questions. Neat, huh?

As Glenn Greenwald notes, though, there's no reason to be at all paranoid about the fact that a U.S Army Brigade has been newly assigned to "the Homeland," in probable defiance of The Posse Comitatus Act. One brigade couldn't do any major "martial law" action, and if it could, it wouldn't have been made public. It's just probably illegal and a damned bad precedent.

At times like this, music may soothe the savage breast. The iPod is now almost jammed up, after adding a bunch of newly-acquired Bowie live tracks and a good deal of Dylan/The Band's basement tapes. Less than 100 MB free in there now - have to do a cleaning, get rid of some of the 26,181 tracks. Here's what comes up random this morning - the iPod appears to have decided We're All Devo . . .

1. "Time Out for Fun (muzak version)" - Devo - E-Z Listening Disc
2. "Imitation Situation" - The Sixpentz - Mindrocker 60's USA Punk Anthology Vol 13
3. "Climbing the Walls" - They Might Be Giants - The Else
4. "It's Making It" - The Lollipop Shop - Just Colour
5. "Night By Night" - Steely Dan - Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story
6. "I Saw Her Again" - The Mamas and the Papas - Rato's Nostalgia Collection 8
7. "Jet" - Paul McCartney & Wings - Band on the Run
8. "Words Get Stuck in My Throat" - Devo - Pioneers Who Got Scalped: The Anthology
9. "Winos on Parade" - Marga Benitez & The Mello-Tones - Winos on Parade
10. "Alias Pink Puzz - LP Radio Promo Spot # 2" - Paul Revere & The Raiders - Psychedelic Promos & Radio Spots, vol. 4

Maybe a nice relaxing game would help. Here's a commercial from 1975 that I actually remember (h/t Boing Boing Gadgets), and now wonder how the hell this was ever actually released to market . . .

BALL BUSTER! Fun for the whole family! )



Or maybe, for relaxation, I'd like to look at some great hairstyles of the past that I miss:

Hair Guide

Which takes me mentally - through flashing on the 'fro of Don Cornelius - to a video Adam Swiderski linked to today on Facebook, noting its coolness. It makes me happy, too, and I hope this fine fine superfine track from The Commodores can make you move and smile this dreary Friday:

Machine Gun )



. . . and you can bet your money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey. Love. Peace. Soul.

collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
Ladies and gentlemen of the theatro-blogosphere, please give it up for Mr. Bill Foster!

He is the co-founder of ETC and co-creator of the Source Four and a number of other revolutionary lights and light boards.

And he has just been elected as Democrat (from a longtime Republican district) to the House of Representatives from the state of Illinois, in a special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert for the rest of his term - this coming January. He will go up against Hastert again in November for the following term.

He is a scientist - and we could use more of them in office - who has been working for years at Fermilab on particle physics.

Congrats, Mr. Foster!

collisionwork: (prisoner)
Two commenters dropped by recently with a pleasant word or two and I wanted to mention them here rather than just responding in the original comments, where it might get lost - especially as I have quite a bit to say about where these comments led me.

"Richard S.," who posts as "RockRichard" at VetVoice.com thanked me for the plug for his "Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly." I was surprised to get even the very brief thanks from him, as he's serving in Afghanistan now, and I think that between that and creating his excellent posts for VetVoice, he's busy enough without typing a few words to a NYC theatre-related (supposedly) blogger. But I'm honored.

I read several military-related blogs created and written by soldiers and veterans - I feel some kind of duty to do so at this point in time. These are voices not heard from nearly enough right now. My brother returned from Iraq a few months ago - injured, not badly - and I haven't talked with him about his service much, and I'm not sure he wants to. Luckily, he seems to be in fine shape all around and is building a good life for himself here at home now.

Since he was first over there, I've kept AntiWar.com in my blog reader - it's not at all the best site, frankly - most of the info there can be found in better form elsewhere - but it's the only place I found that gives a day-by-day running tally of casualties - injuries and deaths - broken down, soldiers and civilians, U.S.A. and Iraq. A headline with the count comes up in my blogreader every morning, and I make sure to look at it and consider my place in the world, and what I am doing, in the light of those numbers (Yesterday - one U.S. soldier dead and another injured in a vehicular accident/32 Iraqis killed/42 Iraqis wounded). Then, yes, I move on. Because you have to. Right?

VetVoice is a good central place for lots of links to other military blogs and sites. I found it through reading one of my favorites, Army of Dude by Alex Horton, an account of his life in Iraq, and since.

So, I read, and I move on and try to make Art-Things. For while the job of these soldiers is unfortunately sometimes necessary, I like to believe that my job is, too - that even the smallest drop in the bucket of creation is a Good Thing for the species, that the accumulation of these unnecessary things called Artworks actually does Make Us Better. Yes, unnecessary, but ultimately for the good, as sometimes for the good, the soldiers are sometimes necessary.

Sometimes necessary.

And if used (and wasted) when not necessary, it is, of course, a fucking crime.

Which reminds me. I've seen plenty written yesterday and today about the 935 "false statements" (where I'm from, we call those "lies") told by members of the current Administration to get us into war. And it should be noted that this only counts the lies told from 2001-2003 - from 9/11 to Iraq invasion - and none of the others that have come up since then.

Again, a fighting man's opinion of this is worth checking out, and HERE is RockRichard's.

Meanwhile, on the Art-Thing front, Alyssa Simon commented with a pointer to a review of Martin Denton's from nytheatre.com, of the current Broadway production of The 39 Steps, that contains this ego-boosting final paragraph:

For me, there's nothing particularly funny about throwing stones at a work of art, even an admittedly pulpy, pop one such as this film by Hitchcock. There's certainly nothing worth $96.25 (the top ticket price) happening on stage at the American Airlines Theatre. If you'd like to watch too few actors create the illusion of a lot going on, ironically or in all seriousness, check out any number of indie theater offerings available around NYC (works by Ian W. Hill and Frank Cwiklik come immediately to mind). And if you'd like to see The 39 Steps, rent it from Netflix.

And Martin's description of the show does indeed sound like everything wrong with a certain kind of theatre, which matters to me because - as the review alludes - I somewhat specialize at times in that kind of theatre.

What is the point of imitating film on stage? Or if not precisely imitating, in recreating, deconstructing, collaging, ironicizing, etc. films in a theatrical context?

I've done this myself, what, four or five times? Something like that. Maybe more. Which is maybe odd for someone who works in various media and who usually expresses the belief that the best work in most art forms is that work that can be only expressed in that form - theatre should do things that only theatre can do, painting should do things that only painting can do, prose should do things that only prose can do, film should do things that only film can do, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

And as someone working on translating Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons to the stage right now, this could cause some concern. If I hadn't worked most of it out already by this point.

First off, The 39 Steps is a terrible choice for a movie to stage, most immediately for one good reason: It's a good movie (I'll return to my concerns on Ambersons in a bit). What's the point? Nothing is added to it by staging it. Much is reduced. If a film is really good. it's almost certainly cinematic enough that the medium itself is unremovably entwined with its greatness.

On the other hand, just staging bad movies, ironically, deconstructed, musicalized or whatever, is not necessarily a better thing. From all accounts, Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical had nothing going for it besides the concept of the title.

When I was doing my original production of the temperance play Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, I was interested in certain qualities of "bad" acting. The company of my play was supposed to be playing an acting company in a post-civilization future, attempting to recreate What Had Been through the few dramatic texts they had. Unfortunately, they don't have good texts, and they're not good actors. But they're committed. So I showed my cast Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda? as an example of the kind of "bad" acting I was looking for. Tim Cusack put it best when he noted that the actors were giving their all to their roles, as much as any talented actor would, but that they didn't have the actual craft to express themselves properly - "Commitment without talent" is what he called it, and he also noted thoughtfully that Glen or Glenda? was a "rich text."

Yes. And that's the point. Glen or Glenda? is probably a bad movie by most standards (I'm too in love with it to tell anymore), but it is a Rich Text. Debbie Does Dallas is not only a bad movie, it's an uninteresting one, not even a very good porno, with a catchy title that sold it, and it is very definitely Not A Rich Text. I staged Glen or Glenda? eventually as part of the EdFest that Frank Cwiklik, Michele Schlossberg and I put together in 2000, and dammit if the film wasn't somehow illuminated in a new light by being put into three dimensions in a tiny theatre. As did all of the Ed Wood scripts we adapted for that festival.

I always wanted to stage the Patrick Swayze film Road House for fun - another Rich Text - but got beaten to it by Tim Haskell. From many accounts, it worked. Other cheesy films, Not Rich Texts, have fared less well. You see them come and go in the OOB listings.

Most of the time, my filmic explorations in theatre have taken the form of a kind of collage, or as I prefer, collision (hence the name of my company) of two or more seemingly unrelated works.

David LM Mcintyre says he wants a nickel every time I use the word "collision" since he first defined us, jokingly, as the leaders of the movement "New Collisionism" back in '91 or so - after a dinner at the Cedar Tavern and a lot of Guinness, it wasn't a joke anymore. It started when David and I collided Disney's The Jungle Book with Coppola's Apocalypse Now and made Even the Jungle. Since then, I've gone back to the form many times, with variations (collide dialogue from 165 films noir with quotes from the Bush Administration, you get World Gone Wrong). Leaving film out of it, collide H.P. Lovecraft with Winsor McCay you get At the Mountains of Slumberland.

Done right, the collision, like a car accident, twists and turns the original and opens up new surfaces, new textures, that were there all the time but that you couldn't see until they were violently wrenched into new forms.

So, what to do with staging Ambersons which is 1) not only a good movie, even in studio-mangled form, but a great one; 2) a rich text; 3) intensely cinematic in a way that seems inseparable from its greatness? Why do this, and what do I hope to do?

Well . . . okay. It's a problem. The main reason for doing it, really, is because I want to see the story in the way that Welles intended to tell it, with the dialogue, scenes, and music that were supposed to be there (and I want others to see it, too). That I can do. What I can't do is recreate his shots, compositions, and editing - all crucial to Welles. So, I'm just reconstructing the story the way Welles wanted it, not the film itself. So I'm immediately pulling back from the cinematic aspects and finding the elements that will not only work, but may be illuminated through staging. Next, I can't recreate anything like the opulence of Welles' settings, and even token gestures that way would be, at most, a halfway measure. So do what theatre does well - abstract it all. Instead of matte paintings, we have shadow puppets. Instead of period automobiles, we have a pile of boxes. Pull it further back from film, and into what not only works but is best in a small black box theatre.

And gradually, it all comes clear. I'm seeing it more and more, and I think this will be a damned fine piece of theatre. It still might be "doing well what ought not to be done at all," as a lot of film and theatre seems to me, but, well, we'll never have the Welles film the way he wanted, and I want to see this. I wrote out a list of 14 actors I'd like in the cast last night (with two others - I'm going to have to look for a Major Amberson and pick another from the pool of the actors I love). I think I'll be finishing my playscript of it by this evening, and then I'll send it out to the people I'd like in it and see what they think.

Enough. Sorry to prattle on, but that's how it goes on here. Either I have too much to say or nothing. or both at the same time, perhaps.

Finally, for pure WTF? enjoyment stimulus, a couple videos. The first showed up on the WFMU blog this morning, headlined "Lou Reed vs. Pavarotti." It's an excerpt from one of the Pavarotti and Friends charity concerts that I missed posting when the big man died. Want an odd mix of voices? Try this (I'm disappointed that Luciano doesn't join in on the second song here, "Walk on the Wild Side" - that may have made my head explode - in a good way):


And since when did "Perfect Day" become, like, the top Lou Reed song? I mean, it's nice and all, but why this one? (was it used in Trainspotting and some other movie or something?)

It's like going to a Bowie concert in the last few years and realizing that his most popular song is going to wind up being "Changes." I mean, yeah, sure, fine song, but the one DB's going to be remembered for? (the other top Bowie songs, judging from crowd response, are "Ziggy Stardust" and "Fame") In any case, the BBC did an all-star version of this Reed song that winds up being charming through some of the unlikely faces/voices that show up in it:


Enjoy.

collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
And a joyous MLK Day to you all.

It's being pretty well covered in the blogosphere in any case, but rather than quote or embed any part of the "I Have a Dream" speech (time, familiarity, and the beauty of MLK's voice and cadences have worn off its prickly edges more than they should), I instead recommend reading the transcript of his "Beyond Vietnam" speech, from April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, NYC -- reprinted in full by Jason Grote at his blog - thanks, Jason, I've never read this in full before, only excerpts.

I also dug this photo from If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger . . ., in their continuing "When Legends Gather" series.

I've been saving a few links of interest; time to unload them, I think:

World's Greatest Guitar Amp Name - if I had $5,000 to drop on a guitar amp . . . I probably still wouldn't get this because I just couldn't fathom spending that kind of money on a guitar amp, but I'd be glad to know it exists out there . . . and it's probably pretty damned good, actually, given the company's rep and so forth.

Over at VetVoice, RockRichard, an NCO currently serving in Afghanistan, writes "An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly" regarding Mr. O'Reilly's statement that there are no homeless vets (and his corollary that if there are, they're all addicts and it's their own damned fault).

A nice bit of irony, courtesy of Neatorama. Also, from the same site, a steampunk laptop!

And finally . . . since it turns out I missed this yesterday . . .

Blue Velvet finale

Happy 62nd birthday, David Lynch!

Eraserhead finale

collisionwork: (escape)
Ah, time to catch up on videos and links collected as of recent . . .

First, as I've now seen mentioned on Boing Boing and Gothamist, a surprising animation from the vaults of Sesame Street: Geometry of Circles - no indication of who the animator is, but the music is an original piece by Philip Glass! And from my favorite, classic period, the mid-to-late 70s, with the Ensemble (and vocal group)! It was shown on SS in four parts, but here some nice YouTuber has weaved them all together into the longer piece they must have originally been (are there more?):



A new song by DEVO created for a Dell commercial, and released as an internet single, which I found as part of an excellent overview article on Mark Mothersbaugh, DEVO, and his soundtrack company Mutato Muzika in the L.A. Weekly:



Meanwhile, in last night's Special Comment (and thank you MSNBC), Keith Olbermann reminds us - if we needed reminding, and apparently we do - that The President is a liar:



And Jack Cafferty (thanks for this, at least, CNN) reminds us as well - any everyone should be constantly reminded - that the Administration is a pack of actual, literal criminals:



Enjoy. If that's the right word . . .

Torture

Nov. 3rd, 2007 10:09 am
collisionwork: (prisoner)
If you haven't seen this, you probably should -- Malcolm Nance (who is a counterterrorism consultant for the government's special operations, homeland security and intelligence agencies) has written an essay discussing why waterboarding is definitely torture, and how he knows:

As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required to undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil, totalitarian enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as a torture technique.

The full, long version of the essay is on the Small Wars Journal site HERE, and a cleaner, shorter version was published as an op-ed in the New York Daily News HERE. The op-ed hits most of the main points, but the MUCH longer essay contains a lot more pertinant information, examples from experience, and a bit more about why (besides any moral considerations - a BIG "besides") torture just don't work.

And, related, but from the Lighter Side of our Numbing of the Moral Sense Department, here's Mr. Harry Shearer with a musical look at the issue (h/t Mark Evanier):



collisionwork: (philip guston)
From elsewhere in this odd world we calls the internet:


1. Dan Trujilo points out CNN's knowledge of the way Comedy works. Ha. Ha.


2. from I Can Has Cheezburger?, a cat that shares its quotational skills with World Gone Wrong:


noir-cat-doesnt-mind-a-reasonable-amount-of-trouble.jpg


3. Which reminds me, I'll be posting photos from my recent shows here soon, but I won't take up space by posting all of them. So some other favorites can be seen in the Flickr sets for them (like the one for World Gone Wrong 2007 here), or here, when I feel like it. Here's a favorite photo that won't make it into the post of photos from World Gone Wrong, of Iracel Rivero as Theresa Malone, the newspaper reporter who "doesn't mind a reasonable amount of trouble:"


World Gone Wrong 2007 - Scene 11


More soon.

collisionwork: (music listening)
Whoa. For once, I've actually been able to sit back and relax once up here and away from NYC. Not even worrying so much about what COULD possibly be happening that MIGHT be disastrous for me back home.

Good.

So, a morning Random Ten from the iPod now at 20,766 songs, 72.32 gigs:

1. "I'm Allergic to Flowers" - The Jefferson Handkerchief - Pebbles Volume 3 - The Acid Gallery
2. "My Way of Loving You" - Wallace Collection - Laughing Cavalier
3. "I Am" - Molesters - Plastic 7"
4. "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" - Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright
5. "Eloise (Hang On In There)" - William Bell - Soul of a Bell
6. "Get Back" - Laibach - Let It Be
7. "On the Road Again" - Andy Prieboy - ...Upon My Wicked Son
8. "Town Talk" - Ken Woodman & His Picadilly Brass - That's Nice
9. "You Were Born for Me" - The Tunespinners - Oceanic Odyssey Volume 09
10. "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" - The Miracles - Hitsville U.S.A., The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971

Meanwhile, a couple of links from our Rotten Sons of Bitches Department . . .

[livejournal.com profile] toddalcott, as always, writes something smart, in this case about Katrina, two years on, and what he's learned about the government as a result.

And shortly after Alcott's opinion piece, I was led by Jason Grote to a lovely piece of investigative journalism by Matt Taibbi that just seems to confirm all of Alcott's (and my) worst suspicions about the Administration's view of its job not to be the steward of this country, but to enable its cronies to loot as much from the Treasury and taxpayers as possible during their stint, and then get the hell out of Dodge and leave the mess to be cleared up by others. Depressing and enraging.

Some pertinent lines from a film noir (I forget which one) that I quoted in WGW/WGW:

THOMAS ARNOLD, the gangster-businessman: When I spill a drink on the carpet, the maid cleans it up for me.
NED DALEY, the honest private eye: When you spill blood, your lawyer is expected to do the same.
THOMAS ARNOLD: Exactly.


And from the Department of Cheering You Up After That Department, [livejournal.com profile] imomus has let me know that you can find the entire (hysterical) series The Japanese Tradition on YouTube. I have one of them on videotape, "Sushi," with an English-dubbed soundtrack -- which, frankly, I think increases the deadpan humor of the "trying to educate foreigners about our ways" -- but it only seems to be up on YouTube in Japanese with subtitles, and here it is:



There are more in the series, which I haven't watched yet, but I'm glad to know they're all there. Judging from the comments on them I see at YouTube, a LOT of people don't get the joke, and are confused or angered by them. Berit has often commented on how well the British and Japanese do this kind of deadpan humor that so many in the USA don't get (though judging from some of the comments, it's Japanese who are angered by the series - "Don't tell lies about us!"), and Momus, in his piece on these, makes the excellent comparison to the British Look Around You series. Well, I like them. A lot.

Also, from [livejournal.com profile] toddalcott again, a cheering-up link that made my morning, and will serve for this week's Friday Cat Blogging In Absentia, HERE.

Enjoy.

Fodder

Aug. 28th, 2007 08:31 am
collisionwork: (mystery man)
In a comment on yesterday's entry, [livejournal.com profile] justjohn quoted a piece by Nora Ephron that I wanted to share with those who hadn't seen it:

"I hope he's not worried about his legacy, because he will have one, and it will be not unlike what awaits almost all the members of this administration: they will be fodder for art. Yes, art. Dick Cheney said a couple of months ago that history would be his judge, but I beg to differ: history will be nothing compared to the plays. This administration will be the subject of hundreds of plays; the playwrights will be drawn again and again to the astonishing, amazing panoply of evil and complicity the Bush Administration has provided. Gonzales will be a hilarious comic foil in most of these productions -- a jack-in-the-box who will pop out, say he has no recollection whatsoever of anything, and pop back in. Short actors will kill to play him.

By the way, I have a pet theory about Alberto Gonzales: I've always believed that the reason the President called Gonzales Fredo was that when they first met, Bush incorrectly believed that Gonzales' first name was Alfredo, and Gonzales was too much of a toady to correct him."



Oh, what a pity I've done my "Bush Administration" piece now, and created it before the ascension of AG to AG. What a slimy little character he could have been in a noir landscape . . . hanging around the office of the Gangster/Businessman (who can't get his name right) . . . lying in every line.

But he's gone. And so is that show. LOLCat say:

this-meeting-is-over.jpg

collisionwork: (approval)
Attorney General and Constitutional danger Alberto Gonzales has resigned. Effective September 17. Which can't fucking come soon enough for me.


The account from the New York Times is HERE.


A more cheery summary is HERE at Wonkette, in their aptly named "A Farewell to Assholes Dept."


So who was the Al Neri?


Fredo Buys It
"You broke my heart, Fredo."


(OK, fun is fun, but can anyone explain to me how he became "Fredo?" His name's "Alberto," not "Alfredo." Apparently, it was given to him by Our Fearless Leader. Are all "Als" of all ethnicities the same to the man? Or was he aware some time ago that one day Fredo would be sent on a little fishing trip?)


And yes, some things can lighten the heart for a while, but even LOLCats know that the bastards never really go away. No, not really . . .


128295283927345000iminurshadow.jpg


(Oh, and a Google search doesn't answer the why of the "Fredo" nickname, only that it started with OFL calling him "Alfredo" for some time. Nickname or numbskull? Youth wants to know!)

collisionwork: (music listening)
Leonard Jacobs, over at The Clyde Fitch Report, has posted a couple of things recently that shouldn't be missed if you don't read his blog (and why not?).

GOOD: First, a clip of Stephen Sondheim's "Someone in a Tree" from the original production of Pacific Overtures. Wow. Not something I thought I'd ever see.

Now, that said, I think watching this clip - of a song Sondheim has pointed to as being his favorite of all his work - has made me, a BIG Sondheim fan, realize what my problem with Pacific Overtures has always been: the music. Love the book (underrated), love the lyrics (some of SS's best), but the music doesn't sit right with me, or, in my opinion, with the lyrics - and I'm one of those people who's defended SS against people with "great words, lousy music" opinions on him in some heavy arguments.

Even the three songs I'd normally say that I "love" from this show - "Please Hello," "Chrysanthemum Tea," and the astonishing "A Bowler Hat" - do not feature SS's best work in the synthesis of music and lyric, and have to rely far too much on some of his finest words to "work." When I first played this clip, Berit looked up after only a few notes and was about to ask who this was doing a parody of Sondheim when I told her what it was. I'm not sure the orchestration helps this score much either . . .

Still, even with that said, this is, as Leonard notes, an education in how to structure a scene (structure being SS's biggest strength). For some context: This song is an account of the first meeting between Japanese and Western officials. As there is no actual Japanese record of what went on at this event, we are given the story from several incomplete points of view: a 10-year-old boy sitting in a tree, peeking into the hut, who can see the meeting, but not hear it (played by a young Gedde Watanabe), and his elderly self, remembering; and a samurai stationed under the hut for security who can hear the meeting but not see it, and who isn't interested in what they're talking about anyway. Nice. Here you go:



BAD: Then, on a darker note, a copy of the Presidential Advance Manual for our current leader's personal appearances - with some sections redacted for security reasons - that has been posted on the ACLU website. As Leonard notes, certainly such things existed under other Administrations, but some of the sections on dealing with protesters are a bit . . . chilling . . . in these times.

UGLY: Okay, and having indulged the "theatre queen" and "unnerved American" aspects of my personality, what better way to end a post than with something appealing to the "sophomoric giggler" part? (and no, I'm this is not from Leonard, who wouldn't want the credit, I'm sure!)

Here, then, is a clip of "manualist" Jerry Phillips performing his unique version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

What is a "manualist," you may be asking? Well . . . watch and learn:



He has also posted videos of himself performing such songs as Guns and Roses' "Sweet Child O'Mine" (featuring some hot wah-wah pedal action!), Hot Butter's "Popcorn," Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," a-ha's "Take on Me," and (my personal favorite) Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia," in the same manner. He also has many more songs posted, as well as a tutorial in how to be a "manualist" yourself.

Enjoy. Hee-hee.

collisionwork: (teeth)
Re: Scooter Libby.


I am as angry, boiling, furiously angry as almost everyone else I have seen writing about it online, so I didn't see the need to add to the screams of outrage. Berit is able to just shrug and grimace and say, "What, did you expect it to be any different?" Yes, dammit, I did this time. I did.


I was, however, bitterly amused by the headline on Tony Hendra's piece at The Huffington Post enough to want to share it with you: "War Criminal Commutes Sentence of Convicted Perjurer at Behest of Traitor." Ha. Ha. Ha fucking ha.


I had been worried that enough had changed since 2005 when I first did World Gone Wrong that this show, which I'm bringing back in August, a film noir nightmare metaphor for the current Administration (for only noir can do justice dramatically to the world of lies, deceit, violence, and betrayal for a buck and for power that we live in), was now dated, with this Administration seeming to slowly ooze off into the sunset, leaving everyone else behind to waste valuable time and effort mopping up their slime.


No. Nothing has changed. Fucking traitors.

collisionwork: (flag)
Yeah, gotta love those Kiwis.


So down in New Zealand, there's apparently a chain called Hell Pizza. They do all kinds of "edgy" ads and promo schemes based around their name.


They got in some trouble for their most recent billboard campaign, but I have to say it makes me laugh, anyway.


Evil Bastards


More on this can be found HERE.


collisionwork: (flag)
Mr. George Takei, TV's beloved Sulu from TV's beloved Star Trek, deals here, in a very special PSA, with the homophobic remarks of the NBA's Tim Hardaway, in exactly the manner they deserve:


[Error: unknown template 'video']

Thanks to [profile] diosa_en_disfraand Boing Boing for the link.
collisionwork: (welcome)
4. Disgust


In case you haven't by some chance come across either these original stories, or commentary about them somewhere else, here's a couple of lovely items from The Washington Post on the way our wounded servicemen are being treated by our "SUPPORT THE TROOPS" government when they come home, in PARTS ONE and TWO. Please read them if you don't already know what they're about. I'd say more, but I start to see red and boil over. The articles are disgusting enough and speak for themselves.

My brother David comes home to Maine from the Army this week (day after tomorrow, I believe). He's very lucky that his injury (broken leg) is not something chronic or permanently disabling, given what they're writing about here. Of course he, and all the other soldiers who have been injured in Iraq in "non-combat" ways (he fell through a flight of stairs while on patrol) have not been included in any budget projections in what the VA will need to take care of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, so the Administration can keep the apparent cost of the War down.

Berit and I will be spending next week up in Maine ourselves, so we'll be able to see him then. Good.



And with some additional commentary, here's Mr. Randy Newman with A Few Words in Defense of Our Country.


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