Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Friday, October 29, 2004
I think that Halloween takes my spot for the holiday I enjoy the most. I always used to say Independence Day because of the fireworks/watermelon/"Rocky" on TBS combination. But fireworks are taboo in our apartment complex, and I don't have cable, so now that day only holds significance to me for its historical value (which as we all know, means absolutely dick when it comes to how we celebrate holidays).
However, Halloween is a blast. I try to avoid being home, so as not to have to pass out candy (I'm sorry, but I bought the candy, it should belong to me. I'll admit I'm no Mother Theresa when it comes to candy sharing). My main joy in Halloween is wearing the costume. Today, we are celebrating Halloween at my work, and people are dressed up. Because our department theme is pirates, I am currently dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean", complete with effeminate swagger and drunken voice. Last year, parading as Charlie Chaplin, I had black-and-white makeup on and took of vow of silence the entire day.
This is why I love Halloween. Everyone gets to be an actor for a day. And those of us who are already actors get to keep the act up for a day-long performance. Because let's face it. Everyone wants to be an actor. I see it in the eyes of the coworkers who go to see shows I'm in. Afterward, they usually say things like, "That's amazing you memorized all those lines," and "How do you get up there every night and do that?" They would like to have that escape of becoming someone else for two hours, but lack the courage to do so in an environment where people are watching them.
So Halloween is perfect for those people. Everyone is dressing in something ridiculous, so they are not alone. And unlike a theatrical performance, they are not being scrutinized by a paying audience.
And then people like me get to swagger drunkenly around for eight hours (which, only four hours in, is getting tiring on the ol' legs).
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!! UNLESS YOU DON'T CELEBRATE HOLIDAYS, IN WHICH CASE YOU NEED MORE JOY IN YOUR LIFE!!!
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Last night consisted of hot chocolate, broken shower rods, dinosaurs, a man electrocuted several times over, log flumes, clowns carrying chainsaws, a kazoo-playing member of Kiss, and buckets of rain.
I went to Knott's Scary Farm's Halloween Haunt last night, and had a good time, despite my perfect imitation of a drowned rat. I made a lot of really bad decisions last night, and ended up completely soaked.
Still, Halloween Haunt is a pretty cool experience. If you like people jumping out at you in a big, dimly lit place, then this is the place for you. Everywhere you went, even on the rides, monsters were pounding walls, shaking or snapping things in front of your face, and brandishing an assortment of fake weapons (the most inventive and enthusiastic were the aforementioned kazoo player and chainsaw clown). Here are some of the highlights:
SCARIEST MOMENT: A tie between a humongous figure clad entirely in black that seemingly comes out of nowhere, and a plant that comes alive and reaches out to you. Honorable mention to the threat of pneumonia that hung over me that entire night.
COOLEST EFFECT: Two people dressed head to toe in a costume painted with stars standing up against a wall with the same pattern and thus becoming invisible before jumping out at you.
MOST LIKELY TO GIVE KIDS NIGHTMARES: A human-size Cookie Monster that reaches out for you in a macabre Sesame Street-style alley titled "Sesa-meat Street"
JOB I WOULD WANT TO HAVE: Slider. These guys have metal on their knees and hands, allowing them to slide on the pavement toward unsuspecting people. It looks great.
BEST JOKE I REMEMBER TELLING: Talking about a possible marketing campaign for our "Madame Guignol's Hellhouse" show - "Do you hate Jesus? Sure, we all do." Honorable mention to my joke after coming out of the pirate maze, said in a pirate voice - "I only know two letters of the alphabet! Aye, and arrr!!!"
BEST JOKE TOLD BY SOMEONE ELSE: Mark Coyan, while exiting the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs ride, "History smells like rubber." Honorable mention to Darren Wishman's "You really want to see something scary? I'm 36 and underemployed!"
FUNNIEST RECURRING EVENT: Shannon Flynn saying, "That's great!" to every monster that jumped out at her, and proceeding to talk to them about their costume or scare technique. Honorable mention to various people I know hugging me or making "Team America" references while dressed in their monster outfits.
FUNNIEST SIGN: "Dr. Cleaver's Psycho Circus at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre"
BEST LESSON LEARNED FROM WATCHING JUNIOR HIGH GIRLS: If a monster is scaring you, don't scream and run away. That's basically saying, "Please chase me."
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Spending 45 minutes in the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs line with a dozen people whom I adore.
MOST MISERABLE MOMENT: Walking through the parking lot, cold, wet, tired and barely able to see through my glasses as I look for my car. Followed by driving home and messing with trying to get my car into my garage, which has now turned into a kiddie pool. Followed by going home and trying to fix a broken shower rod with a lot of duct tape.
DUMBEST MOVE I MADE: Going on the log flume ride, which was really fun, but with the weather being what it was, not the greatest idea in the world.
THE DUMBEST MOVE I COULD HAVE MADE BUT DIDN'T: Get on the Screamin' Swing, which basically swings you back and forth to great heights, all while pouring rain and hard winds beat your face. Yes, people were doing it.
MOST USELESS JOB: Employees were walking the streets, sweeping up the water, which would have been useful...if it weren't still raining.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Waking up this morning to find that I'm still in good health.
So despite the extreme weather, a good time was had by me. I'll definitely go back next year.
Oh, yeah, and one last thing...
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Last night, I voted, using the absentee ballot. Let me tell you, that's the way to go. I don't like to put my trust in computers when it comes to something like voting, and when I found out that Orange County would have electronic voting, I decided to call myself an absentee.
I filled out an application last week and received a ballot yesterday. I got to sit down at home, do my research, carefully consider each issue and vote in a pressure-free environment. Then I mailed it off this morning. Now I don't have to rush to a voting place on November 2nd. I don't have to worry about a computer crashing and losing my vote, or my vote possibly getting manipulated.
So I encourage everyone to vote absentee. It's less stressful. Applications for absentee voting need to be received by October 26th.
Also last night, I realized that I need more sleep. After work, I decided that I wanted to go to Del Taco. So I stop off at the drive-thru on the way home, order my food, give them my money, get my change back...and then drive away without taking my food. I didn't even notice until I was already home.
Maybe that's why I can't get anything done.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Movie love is dangerous. I realized this last night while watching "Garden State" for the second time yesterday. In the movie, two attractive, quirky, well-written characters (played by Natalie Portman and Zach Braff) fall in love with each other over the course of four days. Portman is a pathologically lying ex-figure skater, and Braff is a heavily drugged unemployed actor. Her boundless energy and his stoic nature are perfectly matched, and so they hit it off right away, and four days later, he changes his life's plans for her, and they kiss in an airport terminal while Frou Frou blares.
Now, don't get me wrong, I like this movie a lot. But this is dangerous. This goes on a list with "Punch-Drunk Love", "Moulin Rouge" and "Amelie" of recent movies that lead hopeless romantics like myself - along with pretty much anyone else who goes under the category of "film geek" - to believe that love is simply a walk in the park. You're just going along with your merry life and WHAM! You're in love.
It's what I call the Gershwin Syndrome. George Gershwin was, of course, the writer of such songs like "I Got Rhythm", "Our Love Is Here To Stay", "Embraceable You" and "S'Wonderful". While he wrote great songs about heartbreak and loss, he is best known for his love songs, which are some of the most joyous, beautiful melodies to come out of the 20th century.
People who suffer from Gershwin Syndrome are pretty starry-eyed, though they claim to be grounded and logical. They understand that romance is filled with difficult and complicated feelings, and that, like Shakespeare said, "The road to love never did run smooth." Yet they have been tainted by so many movies in which beautiful, funny people fall easily in love with other beautiful, funny people that they start mistaking what SHOULD happen with what DOES happen. So they believe too easily in love, and - being fully aware of this - are quick to hide it by being resistant to romance. But they listen to their Gershwin songs, and watch their Woody Allen films, and afterward sit alone and wonder why they have no Nora to their Nick.
How do I know this? I'm not only the president, I'm also a member.
There's a variation of this that I've seen in someone whom I've been around a lot in the past month. He has openly admitted to me that he is obsessed with war. He likes to greet me with fake punches and - since we are in a theater environment with several fake knives and guns - continues to hound me with fake stabbings and shots to the head. He wrote a one-act about soldiers of fortune, which he acts in.
This is probably called the Patton Syndrome, which is the bully brother of the Gershwin Syndrome. This guy, along with several other guys that I knew up in Idaho, does not actually like the idea of war (which is proven by the fact that he is not in the midst of our current war). But the "idea" of the soldier - the chisel-faced man packing an enormous gun, slinking through exotic locales while gunning down faceless foreigners and shouting curse-filled one-liners to his compatriates - has remarkable appeal.
Chekhov (the playwright, not the "Star Trek" character) once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that we should not write life as it is, but as they way it should be; the way it is in dreams. While I do not disagree with that, it is also a dangerous thing for those of us who suffer from Gershwin/Patton Syndrome, as we start confusing the dream world for cruel reality.
Monday, October 18, 2004
A friend of mine (the lovely Brey) turns seventeen today, and yesterday, one of her friends decided to treat her to a live taping of the WB show "In Search of The Partridge Family". In case you're one of the many, many people who haven't been watching this show (like me), it's apparently an "American Idol"-style show in which contestants compete to see who most resembles the members of the Partridge Family. The winners get to...I don't know, ride on a checkered bus? Go on tour as a fake Partridge Family? Re-enact Partridge Family episodes and concerts, much like the Civil War recreators seen at parks around the country? I'm a little fuzzy on the prize.
Anyway, I drive Brey and three of her closest friends (who were chosen in a Bingo-style game of elimination...okay, not really) to the KTLA studios in beautiful Los Angeles. We stand in a line outside the studio for about an hour, only to turned away by security because of our street attire (I was wearing my trademark cargo pants and "chicks dig scrawny pale guys" t-shirt combo. Everyone in Milan wears them now, and they've been proclaimed "the new black").
Now granted, I wasn't too thrilled about attending the show, but it was a birthday gift for Brey, and dammit, I got up before noon on a Sunday morning (which takes a lot of effort for me) and drove from Orange County to be there. So I try to figure out what the reasoning is behind this new rule, since the ticket didn't say anything about formal attire. And security tells me, "Well, it's the last show, and they want it to be sort of a prestigious event."
Now again, I didn't really want to see the show in the first place, but I'm sorry...What? A prestigious event? Do they realize that the show is called "In Search of the Partridge Family", and that it consists of auditioning people to recreate a fake band that traveled around in a checkered bus? Do they realize that the only member of said "family" that you see anymore is Danny Bonaduce, one of the most notorious publicity whores in Hollywood? Will my filthy, offensive street attire really offend that remarkable legacy that Shirley Jones, David Cassidy and Susan Dey left us, which will be lovingly commemorated with a fake Shirley Jones, David Cassidy and Susan Dey?
This is the problem with Hollywood. From its Golden Age, it's been this symbol of glitz and glamour, in which these wonderful people bless us with their wonderful services, and we reward them with insane amounts of money and several meaningless awards. It's almost laughable watching people like Marcia Gay Harden and Ed Harris strut down a red carpet in outfits that cost more than my yearly salary with a look on their face that says, "Oh yes, we are GRACING you with our presence, petty peasantry." The only thing that I can think of to top that is, oh I don't know, someone being turned away from "In Search of the Partridge Family" for not being formally dressed.
It also makes me appreciate people like David Cross, who couldn't take an awards show seriously if his life depended on it. Because he, like a handful of people in this town, realize that they are doing one thing and one thing only: providing entertainment. And while I am, of course, passionate about the arts and recognize their importance as both an element of escape from the horrors of society and a way to mirror those horrors in a way that is accessible to the masses, you have to stand back once in a while and say, "I'm not curing cancer. I'm not saving lives. I'm putting on a show."
But my heart goes out to the few and the brave who go out onto a stage, microphone in hand, in front of a formally dressed audience (and one uber publicity whore) and sing "Ohhhh, I think I love you, but what am I so afraid of..." Hats off, Partridge Family recreators!
First off, I need to get this off my chest: How hard is it to flush a toilet? When I walk into the bathroom at my work, and I see a toilet bowl filled with T.P. and fecal matter, it fills me with several levels of disgust. In my 22 years of life experience, I've found that flushing a toilet is one of the easiest things to do. Ever. It's a small easy-to-use lever, which requires a small push to send your waste to a better place. Can I please have someone who doesn't flush toilets tell me why this is? Because right now it seems to be the ultimate sign of laziness.
Secondly, I love the Hunger Artists Theatre Company! I love them. I have deep, deep love for them. Their "Madame Guignol" Halloween show (in which I play Harry Potter AND Jesus) has its preview tonight. It's the most offensive show I've ever been a part of, and I'm having a blast. I know I've talked about the shows that the company have produced (What? I was in a one-man show?), but I've never talked about the company itself.
They have a small 50-seat theater in a business park in Fullerton. The first time I walked into the theater - at the auditions for "Assassins" - I knew that this is a place where great things happen. It is a smaller and uglier theatre than those at other venues like Stages, Rude Guerrilla or Vanguard. There's no wing space or backstage, the back door is clearly visible at all times, the lobby and theater are divided by only a curtain, and the light/sound booth is clearly visible at all times.
And yet, the sets of the three shows that I have been a part of have always been beautiful and elaborate without being ostentatious or distracting. The directors know how to get to the emotional core of a piece while presenting something accessible and entertaining. Their choices in shows are always interesting, as seen by this past season:
- "The Attorney General": An updating of Gogol's "The Inspector General"
- "How I Learned to Drive": Paula Vogel's Pulitzer-winner about a girl who has an affair with her uncle.
- "Catholic School Girls": Need I say more?
- "The Medea Project": An updating of Medea, set in a business environment.
- "Assassins": One of the most controversial American musicals ever written.
- "The Gog/Magog Project": One of my new favorite plays.
- "Madame Guignol: Hellhouse": A funny, creepy attack on fundamentalism.
- "In Search of Americana": An upcoming collaborative project about a cross-country trip that sounds very interesting.
- "Last Chance Fest": A festival to redeem or condemn overproduced shows like "Our Town" and "The Odd Couple".
What separates Hunger Artists from other theatre companies I've worked with is not their professionalism, nor their desire for stimulating theatre. It's their enthusiasm. I have never seen people so enthused about putting on a show. Despite the unusual subject matter of their shows, there's always this Mickey Rooney feeling of "Let's put on a SHOW!" I've been in three of their shows, and I never once felt the pressure I usually get when it is getting close to opening. I've had nothing but confidence in these people, and the shows have all turned out great.
I was talking to one of the "Guignol" cast members, and she pointed out that while most small theaters in the area are run primarily by men, Hunger Artists has a very significant female leadership. Out of the managers of the theatre, only the artistic director is male. Six of the eight shows done so far this season had a female director. There are more female company members than there are male. I don't know if that has a direct connection to the quality of the shows, but it's really nice to walk around the theater and see several women in their 20's and 30's helping run the company.
That, and Shannon and Kelly Flynn are my directors. I've worked with many other directors before, some of them great, some of them not so much. But the Flynn's are my directors.
My love of Hunger Artists and of this "Guignol" show is so large right now that it almost completely overshadows the less than positive review that "American Way" got in L.A. Weekly today. Who cares? The Times liked it, BackStage West liked it, and I get to play Harry Potter and Jesus in a really fucked-up show. I've got rhythm, music and my girl. Who could ask for anything more?
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Apparently, hypnotherapy is the solution to everything. I've been listening to Air America Radio, the liberal syndicated talk radio station (because "President" Bush and his Administration are a corporation of lying, thieving demons...Ahem, excuse me), and there are a series of commercials from Wendi Friesen, who is a proclaimed hypnotherapist.
Ms. Friesen claims that hypnotherapy can cure...well, whatcha got? As of this writing, I have heard no less than five different commercials from Ms. Friesen, each addressing an issue that can be cured by hypnotherapy. They are, in order of my hearing them:
1). It will help you to stop procrastinating. Hypnotherapy will make you WANT to get things done and put an end to your laziness (if you need to buy this, when will you get around to it?).
2). It will, like everything does nowadays, help you lose weight and keep it off. Hypnotherapy gives you the drive to take those pounds off (if you've tried everything else, and you feel you have to rely on hypnotherapy to lose weight, just give up).
3). It will help you become a better speaker, which will lead to promotions at work, more friends and a better sex drive (as an actor and writer, I can tell you that speaking well does not guarantee getting sex).
4). It will rejuvenate you, by somehow giving you the feeling of a full night's sleep in a five-minute nap (this one has piqued my curiosity. Not enough to actually buy it, though).
5). It will help you with your depression. Hypnotherapy will make your suicidal tendencies disappear (until you get your bank statement showing the money you lost buying hypnotherapy CD's).
All of these can be cured by buying Ms. Friesen's hypnotherapy CD's. Unfortunately, it's five different sets of CD's that you have to buy. If she could cure all of this in one set, I'd be much more impressed. I told my sister about these sets, and she proposed what Ms. Friesen says to make you change your ways:
1). "Get off your ass...Get off your ass...Get off your ass..."
2). "Stop eating...Stop eating...Stop eating..."
3). "Don't be nervous...Don't be nervous...Don't be nervous..."
4). "Go to sleep...Go to sleep...Go to sleep..."
5). "Cheer up...Cheer up...Cheer up..."
This is the perfect example of our solve-problems-now-through-unconventional-methods society. We can't simply be more motivated, eat less, take a speech class, get more sleep and take into account the worse lives that people have in other parts of the world. We need someone to hypnotize us to do these things. That is, assuming that those CD's actually work.
In other news, I'm wearing dirty laundry and I'm having gastrointestinal problems. I wish there was a hypnotherapist CD to make me stop smelling.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
This past weekend, I was in L.A. for "American Way" (playing at the Blank Theatre Company on the corner of Santa Monica & Wilcox through October 23rd...shameless plug), and I was talking to an actress before the show, which is something that I like to do, since most of them are attractive and are seldom boring. We were talking about traffic, which in Los Angeles is such a frustrating problem that it's no longer a joke anymore, just a frustrating fact. The following dialogue ensues...
SHE: I was doing a show in Laguna Beach...
ME: Oh, really?
SHE: ...and they gave us housing there, which was great...
ME: Yeah, I bet.
SHE: ...because South Coast Rep doesn't do housing, and I'm sorry, I'm not going to drive to Orange County every day.
ME: Yeah, I come from Orange County and, well, like today, it took me two hours to get here.
SHE: Oh, my God.
ME: And it's like, you go slowly insane while sitting there, because you know there's not an accident up there. There's no reason to be stopped. It's just a bunch of people sitting on a freeway, for no reason.
SHE: Yeah. If I'm going to be stuck on the freeway, I want to see an accident. I want to see five cars, blood, destruction, fire, death.
ME: (Nervous laugh)
SHE: By the way, you're not copying this conversation verbatim, are you?
ME: No, you're right, this is part paraphrasing and part trying to remember what was exactly said for the readers of my online journal.
SHE: Well, you got close enough, in my opinion. Good work, you dashing, handsome, charming, funny, talented, well-hung guy you.
So, out of that conversation, the part that stuck with me was the "blood, destruction, fire, death" section. This is not the first time I've heard this, and I'm sure it won't be the last. If you're one of the people that say this, I want you to step back and take a look at that sentence. If you want, you can even write it down.
Now realize that you are asking for the death of people just so that your frustration at having to sit in traffic (which would only be worse if there really was an accident) will be temporarily satisfied.
Think about it. If you actually saw five cars, blood, destruction, fire and death, would you really be satisfied? Not a little horrified? Disgusted? Traumatized? Would you actually look at the carnage and say, "Well, thank God that people died for all of this horrible backup that I had to sit through. Now I can show up an hour late to my appointment knowing that my discontent is justified by the lives these people sacrificed"?
I had the unfortunate experience of working with a woman who said that very statement to me. A couple of months later, her son died in a car accident. And I can't help but wonder if the thought occurred to her that people would be stuck in traffic because of her son's accident and saying, "I hope there's death and blood up there."
So before you say that sentence, remember that, first off, it's not an original idea. Second, you're actually asking for death of innocent people. And third...well, shit, that should be enough, you're asking for the death of innocent people.
This is indicative of our society. We can never come up with the proper solution for a problem, so we come up with a justification that in fact only makes the situation worse. There's traffic on the freeway, so we do not wish that there was better city development, but instead wish that there is an accident. There was a national tragedy caused by terrorist group Al-Qaeda, and we decide to solve the problem by invading a country that has little to no connection to Al-Qaeda. It's never from point A to point B. I wish I knew why that was.
Oh, and the last part of that conversation was transcribed completely verbatim. I am quite dashing. And honest.
No, I'm not.
Monday, October 04, 2004
I'm sick of superheroes. For the past week, I've been attending rehearsals for "American Way", my one-act that's getting a production at The Blank Theatre Company in Hollywood (pictures and info at www.theblank.com). The cast is great, the director is brilliant, and the audience reception has been decent enough. We'll have reviews printed in Los Angeles Times and BackStage West this week.
However, not having had any sort of training on my playwriting, I have moments of self-doubt that are both frequent and extreme. I alternate between "This is really an incredible work that I've done. It's very funny, and yet says something about our society and while it's surprising, everything leads up to the surprise to keep it from being manipulative," to "This is the shittiest thing I've ever written. Look at this, I've got these poor actors dressed up in these outfits, running around and yelling on stage, trying to make sense of this material, which tries to be funny at the beginning and tries even harder to be serious at the end, and fails at being either. What have I done?"
At this moment, I'm in the latter. This would make me depressed, except for my knowledge that I'll be back into the former state of mind soon enough. Hopefully when the reviews come out. I'll keep you updated. At least for now, I've got some really great pictures. And my name on the theatre's marquee, larger than life (or at least larger than my hand).
So, there was something that I wanted to show all of you that read this journal o' mine. This was something that I wrote while riding the train to San Diego on September 16th. I hope you enjoy:
"If I could spend the rest of my days writing plays and riding on trains, I'd be content. I stare out the window, passing lines of frustrated motorists. Whisking past beautifully ugly industrial areas. Seeing the backsides of homes nicer than I'll probably ever have. The broken down ugliness of Santa Ana, the "shopper's paradise" sadness of Irvine, the Italian village beauty of San Juan Capistrano. I saw construction workers at a recycling mill, and a glass of grade-schoolers having their P.E. class. Things you cannot see from a freeway.
This is my first experience riding a train, and it seems to me like the transportation equivalent of a backstage pass. An all-access ticket to the most and least desirable aspects of this part of the country. As the ocean pops up to my left, I wonder how long the beauty of this transportation will last. My view of the magnificent, sprawling Pacific is frequently obscured by rows of houses. I wonder how long it will be before our entire nation is taken over by housing and industry. When our sweeping landscapes and scenic views will be tainted by overpopulation and corporation. Kurt Vonnegut predicted that the population would double to seven million by the year 2000. He was damn near right. I just overheard a man sitting a couple of rows in front of me mention that in the 1960's there were almost no houses between Irvine and San Diego. Now, we have so many people that we're running out of room for nature.
Now, my view of the Pacific is clear. I may be imagining, but I think that I can actually see the curve of the earth off into the horizon. If it wasn't less expensive to drive everywhere (sounds crazy, but it's true. My car has great mileage), I'd be a train man all my life. I guess I have to take advantage of this one moment. Soak up the purple mountain majesties (I always laughed at that line, but now that I take a good look at the mountains, they do seem to be a certain shade of purple), and try to drown out the cell phone calls going on around me.
I was about to wrap this up, but I was just reminded of the one completely untainted piece of nature I'd ever seen. It was a plan ride from northern Idaho to southern Idaho, the rare case in which neither the starting point nor the destination is desirable. But en route to Pocatello, I found myself over a stretch of mountains in the middle of winter. No structures, no wires, no buildings, no living creatures of any kind. Just a breathtaking, neverending mountain ridge covered in white. If Olympus existed in America, this is where it would undoubtedly be. I felt like I had gone back in time, and that all of us on the plane were the only people left on earth. It felt scary...and also very nice.
Well, if there's one thing I know, it's this: It's going to be REALLY hard to go back to work on Monday."