This week has been quietly spent switching back and forth between projects, doing little bits and pieces here and there.
The primary focus has been the continued writing of Spacemen from Space, which keeps coming in fits and starts -- suddenly I'll have 5 pages come out of me in one fast burst, and then nothing for a day. The characters inspire me differently -- there's 21 of them that I'm juggling, trying to keep the various plot threads in play -- it's inspired by and a parody of 1930s movie serials (in six episodes to run one after the other, but it's still a play, not meant to be split up into separate pieces), but because I'm trying to get in elements of several different kinds of serials, I have more plot and characters than you'd actually see in any one serial -- I have a "Commando Cody" - type figure ("Rocket Brannon"), a Gene Autry-type ("Cowboy Adam"), who both have assorted sidekicks, comic relief figures, and love interests, as well as some G-Men, some scientists, and two villainous figures, a masked supervillain ("The Lavender Spectre") and some aliens from the planet Ataraxia. A nice group. One character, though, has become a clear favorite -- "Chickie West," a tough-talking dame newspaper reporter. Whenever she shows up, she tends to take over the script for a little while. She talks in a constant rhythmic patois of 30s slang with melodic, machine-gunned cadences that are so delicious to write I have to force her offstage to control her (which is what the other characters are generally trying to do anyway).
I joking suggested in a status update on Facebook that I should maybe toss out the rest of the play and just write a series, The Chickie West Mysteries. A couple of people suggested this might be a more fruitful path than struggling with Spacemen, and certainly it's a spinoff I'd love to produce at some point, but apart from the character and her mode of speech, there's no there there -- I at least know where Spacemen is supposed to go - though my original outline has been considerably tossed out as I've turned out to be creating a far better structure on the fly - and have not one idea for another Chickie West series. So, that sometime later. Now, I keep plugging at Spacemen so it'll be ready for August to run in rep with Devils.
As for that show, it's still sitting there, waiting to be cut by about a half-hour. I think the two shows will work nicely in rep, as they are designed to -- they are both about anti-intellectualism and the use of fuzzy religious or spiritual thinking in stomping down clear, rational modes of thought and discourse, Devils in a nasty, unpleasant hit-you-in-the-face manner and Spacemen from Space in a completely hidden, comic, spoonful-of-sugar way.
I was also somewhat thinking of the way Ken Russell made two films in 1971 with much of the same cast and crew: his film version of the same play, The Devils, and the sweet and beautiful and meaningless film of Sandy Wilson's retro musical The Boy Friend, as if making one of those pieces meant he HAD to make the other one. I feel much that way, as if in order to allow myself to give in to the viciousness of Devils and the silliness of Spacemen, I have to do both.
And before the August shows, we of course have our June wedding, currently going by the title The Wedding of Berit Johnson & Ian W. Hill: A Theatre Study by Ian W. Hill & Berit Johnson (though actually, it's really solely "by" me, as usual, with input from Berit -- I just wanted the balance in the title, and maybe wanted to encourage B to give some extra input on this piece). I have lots of pieces for this, with no clear structure yet, except for the general structure you'd find at any wedding.
We've more been focused this week on the reception and so forth going on around the wedding-performance -- we will be doing four performances of this wedding-play in The Brick's Too Soon Festival: a "rehearsal dinner"/"critic's preview" performance on June 19; the actual "wedding," invitation-only, for friends and family with proper reception after on the 20th; and two encore/revival performances of the wedding later that week. Today we met with a woman at the restaurant where the reception will be to discuss seating arrangements, menu, and the like. It was a wonderful and calming meeting, which we needed. After that, we felt so good, and it was such a lovely day, we decided to amble down further in our neighborhood to Coney Island for lunch at Nathan's and a trip to the NY Aquarium, which was packed, primarily with Orthodox Jews, interestingly -- certainly a large demographic in this area, but unexpected on a Friday (though sundown is late these days). A full day, and now -- when this post is done -- back to real work.
As for this week's Random Ten, I'm picking it from a smaller section of the iPod. I've noted every week the total number of tracks in the iPod -- this week, it's 25,431 -- that the ten are randomly coming from. However, while trying to see what could be cut from the iPod to make space, I discovered that almost half of the tracks in this little device -- 12,021 -- have been sitting there and never been played. Which would seem to suggest that I wouldn't miss them if I cut them all, but a look over the list indicates a lot of good stuff in there (I don't load anything into the iPod unless I REALLY think I'd like to hear it on a random play while driving sometime), and I made another list of songs in the iPod that haven't got a spin that I know deserve to be in there (currently at 3,333 tracks).
So I've mainly been playing this list recently, while driving or walking -- and today was one of those days where the iPod just seems to KNOW what music should be the underscore, as our pleasant, ambling drive from Williamsburg to Coney Island was scored by the loud, Summery sounds of T-Rex, The Dictators, Black Sabbath, The Dickies, Cheap Trick, The Ventures, Tom Jones, and early Dylan and Stones. Perfect cruising tones.
And here's a Random Ten from that playlist, with links to YouTube videos of the specific song, or something similar from the band or artist:
1. "World Destruction (single version)" - Time Zone featuring Africa Bambaataa & John Lydon - World Destruction 12"
2. "No Head No Backstage Pass" - Funkadelic - Let's Take It To The Stage
3. "Caveman Raveman" - The Revillos - Attack of the Giant Revillos
4. "He Doesn't Go About It Right" - We The People - Mindrocker 60's USA Punk Anthology Vol 6
5. "What Do You Do When Love Dies?" - Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis (Deluxe Edition)
6. "Papa Satan Sang Louie" - The Cramps - Fiends of Dope Island
7. "Miss Gradenko" - The Police - Synchronicity
8. "The Intergalactic Laxative" - Donovan - Cosmic Wheels
9. "Trouser Freak" - The Bonzo Dog Band - Cornology Vol. 3 - Dog Ends
10. "Tryouts For The Human Race" - Sparks - The Best Of Sparks
Hey, why not put together an entire video playlist of all the YouTube links above? Here you go, 11 videos (I've included a spare based on the song that came up next, and those of you on Facebook will have to follow the link to my original post to see this):
Only one (not-so-great) picture of our two monsters this week, here with Berit's foot on the couch . . .
But I have some shots from when I was in Maine of me with the aged cat, Bappers . . .
And the adorable young dog, Sasha . . .
This week, I discovered that some good background input to have on while I write are visually stimulating movies that I know very well and don't have to pay much attention to. So I've gone through much of the Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger (and Powell alone) canon, and have moved on to the films of Mario Bava. And so, with Kill, Baby . . . Kill! playing, back to work . . .