Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
My best friend from high school, one James Gentry, has been going crazy with leaving comments on my blogs, which makes me happy since he stopped pissing and moaning about me not leaving messages without acknowledging that MySpace goes both ways (oh, yeah, I said it!).
In responding to my blogs about theatre, he calls me an "acter". I have to say that I really like his new spelling of the word. The word "actor" has left a rotten taste in my mouth as of late. It is a word that wants to have the weight of importance. It is a word that wants to imply an occupation. It is a word that wants to be said in a loud English tone with a long dramatic pause before its utterance (usually in a fit of rage from a formerly-knighted Shakespeare fanatic who has been reduced to reciting pizza slogans).
However, this new spelling is much more compatible with my idea of a performer. When you say the word, it almost warrants a Southern drawl. It sounds like something you do rather than study. It makes a lot of sense in terms of its definition: One that acts (why do they bother putting definitions like that in the dictionary? Has anyone in the history of mankind looked up "actor" in the dictionary and said, "One that acts? Oh, NOW I get it!").
From this moment on, I am no longer an actOR. I am an actER. It makes sense, since am I writER, an associate literary managER and a total losER. Maybe it will make the world of theatre a little bit less pretentious from now on. At least to me.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
On the way to Washington D.C. this past weekend, Darcy Hogan and I created a new style of poetry. After writing a limerick while waiting for the plane to take-off, she and I decided that there needed to be a new form of poetry, one that combined a haiku-like line structure with a limerick-like rhythm.
We called it the hoable (since the gabgan just didn't sound right), and we came up with the guidelines for writing one:
* Each hoable follows a five-line nineteen-syllable structure that is as follows:
One two three
One two three
One two three four
One two three four
One two three four five
* Each hoable has a specific rhythm to it that is as follows:
Ba ba ba
Ba ba ba
Ba ba ba-da ba
* The end of the second and fifth lines of a hoable must rhyme. All other rhyming is at the poet's discretion.
* The third and/or fourth lines of a hoable must contain a verb.
* The fifth line of a hoable must contain an adjective.
* The following is an example, the first hoable ever written:
Here's our poem
It's brand new
If you like it,
please repeat it
Take our clever cue
We want the hoable to become the next haiku. A MySpace page and website are in the works. I've been writing hoables all weekend and I find it just enough of a challenge without being too difficult. It's easy to learn, and it's addictive. So spread the word. Write a hoable and leave it as a comment on my blog. Send hoables to your friends.
And for now, I give you my favorites of the hoables I was writing this weekend:
Calmed and free
Staring at the
She is pure beauty
what we do,
if you go up
high enough, the
sky is always blue
On the march
Lift the sign
Join the thousands
Protest's loud align
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Lately, I have been obsessed with non-traditional forms of performance. I wish to incorporate them into my own writing, though I'm unsure how to do that.
It started with a Honda commercial that was sent to me through e-mail. It is an ingenious two-minute film - done in one take without computer enhancement - in which the various parts of a Honda Accord assemble to make a huge Rube Goldberg device. A remarkable amount of precision is used as each separate part barely touches the next. It is truly remarkable.
I suddenly want a Rube Goldberg device in something I write. I spent one morning thinking up a smaller, less ingenious device in which the tipping of a wine bottle leads to the launching of a Twinkie into the wine bottle tipper's hand. I felt incredibly proud of myself. I don't know quite how if it would work, and how I would use it in a piece, but I felt incredibly proud to have come up with it.
Then, as if to answer my pride, I am sent another e-mail, this one involving an act that was performed on what looks like a Japanese variety show. It is a ping pong match done in "bullet time" (the process used in "The Matrix" in which film is slowed down or stopped while being rotated). Using several puppeteers, many of whom are entirely clad in black, the two ping pong players do impossible moves (such as leaping twenty feet or "swimming" in the air to chase after the ball) and in the climax of the piece, the players, the ball and the table turn to provide the audience with a bird's eye view of the game. Again, the precision and coordination of all involved was flawless and the piece was not only technically impressive but also extremely funny.
And now...that's right...I want to work something like that into a piece of mine.
Why am I so restless? Why do I want to step away from the naturalism that I've been exploring for the past few years (which, in turn, was a step away from the comic absurdity that I milked all through high school and the couple of years after)?
And the main question that I have on my mind...Are these devices that I'm drooling over theatrical inventions, or simply gimmicks? Do I want to make a multi-sensory experience that will combine deep human pathos and humor with a theatrical flair, or am I subconsciously using these ideas to cover up something that is lacking in my writing? When does innovation stop and manipulation start?
I think back to Jason Lindner's one-man show "The Gog/Magog Project", and a specific part of the show that I'll be recreating in a variety show in a couple of weeks. Gog, stuck in a cage, decides to engage the audience in a camp sing-along called "The Music Doctor". Every night this required the audience to stand up and pretend they were playing instruments. The director and I discussed how even though this was audience participation, which we both normally hate ("Who thinks the killer is Dame Kensington, the famed opera singer?"), in this show it was a desperate need to connect with the audience, a very popular theme throughout the script. A device, not a gimmick.
Maybe I'm just trying too hard to be Jason Lindner. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I don't have a lot to say, mostly out of pure exhaustion (blogs tend to become more scarce when I'm busy) and a surge in playwriting (blogs tend to become even more scarce when I actually have a piece of fiction that I can work on), but one thing I can and will say is this:
When I'm driving to work, having just woken up a half-hour prior, still half-asleep, there are few things more disturbing than pulling up behind a bus and seeing Kenny Chesney, wearing nothing but jeans and a cowboy hat, laying on his side, looking straight out at me as the words "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem" hover above him.
It's part of an ad for a country music radio station, showcasing their station along with Mr. Chesney's latest album (which is dubbed "N.S.N.S.N.P." for short, I'd imagine). And maybe it's that he ripped off the title from Jeff Foxworthy. Maybe it's that the ad makes very little sense (how is the quality of a radio station connected to a lack of clothing?). Or maybe it's, I don't know, the rather scary sight of a life-size shirtless Kenny Chesney staring at me from the back of a bus. But I felt rather disturbed.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Have you heard of this? It's a game for Nintendo DS (a hand-held video game console with two screens, touch screen capability and a microphone) where you basically buy a puppy and raise it. You use the touch screen to pet it, and you can train it to respond to your voice commands ("Sit! Roll over! Recite Kierkegaard!").
I played a version of this game, and I was surprised to find how realistic the digital puppies were. This is a far cry from the early days of the Gigapet (the annoying, chirping electronic pets that ended up being a great argument for animal cruelty). The puppies walk, bark and react like a real dog. When you pet them, they roll on their backs, tilt their heads to your scratching, and eventually get bored and walk away. They seem to have real weight and dimension, and of course, they're cute as hell (which is pretty damn cute, so I'm told).
And as I played the game, scratching the belly of a miniature dachshund (who seemed very appreciative), I suddenly came to a horrific realization: We're replacing dogs. We have digital dogs now. They look every bit the same, but they're cheaper and more obedient! Dogs 2.0!
This reminded me of a year ago, when I was testing out one of the Segway machines (the combination of a razor scooter, a pogo stick and a stepping stool), and the guy in the line behind me told his family, "We don't have to walk no more." We've already made convenient those things that were a hassle (doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking food, transportation, paying bills) and so now we're devoting technology to getting rid of the things that are a privilege in everyday life, such as the ability to walk or the companionship of a pet. Maybe someday we'll have digital blinking!
And with a hop, skip and a jump, I leap to another subject...
Yesterday, I was in Oceanside (Brey + a train ride + the Pacific Ocean + ironic t-shirts + chocolate coke + the Guess Who board game = paradise) and I suddenly realized that I knew nothing whatsoever about the theater scene in that neck of the woods. Literally ten seconds after that thought materialized, I spotted a theater: The Sunshine Brooks! Upon closer inspection, I found that it was the home of the New Vision Theatre Company. I'd already had a thought that any place with the name New Vision(s) does not actually have an original idea or "new vision". This place turned my thought into a theory. Their 2005-2006 season is as follows:
* "The Odd Couple" - The oft-performed, rarely-funny comedy by Neil Simon.
* "The Foreigner" - The oft-performed, rarely-funny comedy by Larry Shue.
* "She Loves Me" - The musical with songs that Music Theatre International describes as "Easy to learn, easy to sing".
* "Noises Off" - The oft-performed backstage comedy by Michael Frayn, who I think would much rather be remembered for his far superior plays "Copenhagen" and "Democracy".
* "On Golden Pond" - The Ernest Thompson comedy that invites every shaky Hepburn-esque septuagenarian to talk about the loooooons.
In my neverending quest to find the most mainstream season of American theatre, I believe that this beats Long Beach Playhouse's 2004/2005 lineup. All five shows are relatively similar in tone, and three of the five require a single set (which would only require a few modifications to change from show to show). There's nothing heavy, nothing exciting, nothing to challenge or provoke. For Christ's sake, there's not even a thriller to scare the blue-haired subscribers. The "new vision" that this company has is simply to use familiarity as an ally in its quest to delight, which is a vision shared by far too many community theaters around the country. Maybe someday we'll have digital playwrights!
And finally, I would like to applaud our governor, the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, for choosing the always-endearing roads of hate and oppression in his latest political move.
The star of "Raw Deal" and "Batman & Robin" announced that he plans to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in California. With this one thoughtless gesture, he has fully displayed his homophobia, his disrespect for our Declaration of Independence and his complete abandonment of the bipartisanship promises that he made early in his campaign.
And the best part is that the governor's press secretary said that he still believes "gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship." Basically, he's saying "do as I say, not as I do, and don't go poking fun at those inferior beings."
It's good to know things like this. It's good to know that our declaration that "all men are created equal" does not apply if those men like other men. It's good to know that our leaders, the people chosen to represent us, reach D.W. Griffith levels of intolerance. It's good to know that we're still living in a society where it's considered okay to be feel threatened by someone simply because they are different.
It amazes me how little we grow past the days of elementary school recess, when compassion and tolerance are dwarfed by fear and humiliation. Maybe someday we'll have digital conservatives!