Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Off day

Nothing much to report but trying to stick to my resolve to post something everyday.

Daniel Radcliffe makes strong stage debut in Equs. Yay! Daniel.

We're moving offices on Friday--somewhat stressful as I work for 5 people.

I feel baka. I cannot seem to change my MySpace layout no matter what I do. It just doesn't take--like it's being overwritten. Modifying this page was a piece of cake by comaparison.

Computer glitch nearly starts a panic on Wall Street. Yay! Wall Street (just kidding).

Starting Moby-Dick tonight.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Random musical observations

I got an MP3 player for Christmas, and no, it wasn't an iPod. It is a Creative Zen M (30 G). I love it and have thought about blogging about it repeatedly. It is perfect for me because I am often indecisive, or rather so decisive that I am dissatisfied with what I wanted in the morning. That is I could pick some CD's to take with me in the morning, and want to listen to something completely different at noon. So now I don't have to choose! I can also go from Camelot to L'Arc to Eurythmics and back again. It also has a lovely random Album of the Day option which I use rather like a Magic 8 Ball, "What do I want to listen to next?"

This isn't going to be that blog. This is just random observations from music I was listening to today.

1)Listening to Kate Bush's Aeriel driving home, an ambulance was driving in the opposite direction. It didn't have it's sirens on but it was flashing it's lights and they were pulsing in time to the music--it was very surreal, where it seemed like there were no other sounds but Kate in the world (and I don't play my music very loudly).

2)I have to do random play by genre or I really would get Frank Sinatra singing a song followed by say, The Cure and that just might cause my head to implode, or at the very least cause me to swerve off the road. I haven't made any playlists yet. I never really used to make mixes--I could spend the rest of my life playing the start of every song to see how it merges with the one before, but I let the player go and I especially like random play of an artist. Things I've learned about L'Arc~en~Ciel for instance:
I like All Year Round Falling in Love much better when it isn't at the end of the album.
Perfect Blue sounds better almost anywhere else but where it is on its album.
Pieces should NEVER follow Larva.

This isn't from today but I've always thought it a neat moment. Somewhere at the end of last summer I was getting the car filled with gas and listening to L'Arc on CD. The station attendant was whistling and he actually cleaned my front and back windows. Somehow whatever he was whistling was in the same key as the L'Arc song and acted as a counterpoint. It was so lovely--I wish I'd recorded it in some way.

3)I love absurd connections. Like how I read that Hyde's favorite album was Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian while I was listening to Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian. (I'm not crazy by the by--I don't think this means I should stalk either Hyde or Sylvian).

This is a tenuous one--more a six degrees of separation. Today Album of the Day had just brought up Gone to Earth by David Sylvian. I made a phone call at work and they put me on hold with musak (I put the player on pause, obviously) which was "I Second That Emotion"--Smokey Robinson which happens to be a song that David Sylvian covered with his band Japan.

List under trivia Novel knows and the way my mind works.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Game! (of sorts)

This came out of two small things: one) Getting an email word game where you get a list of words and you have to change one letter in the last word (added by the friend who sent it to you) to form a new word, and then pass it on) two) a funny moment with friends this weekend where one friend was returning borrowed DVD's to another friend and they were: Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Kubrick's The Shining. To which I said (with irony), "Double feature?" and someone else yelled out, "No. DATE MOVIE" because I can't think of two films that I would less like to watch on a first date (or back to back as they are both like 3 hours)--BUT which are excellent films separately and in the right situation.
So, here's the game. What are some other movies that would guarantee no second dates BUT which must be great films otherwise. I actually had a date where we saw The Name of the Rose (not a good date film) and my first date with my high school boyfriend was to see Fatal Attraction (definitely not a good date film--but not a great film either).
And if that doesn't work we can play the game we played at my wedding rehearsal dinner when Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame had just come out: books that Disney will trash with happy endings--coming soon to a theater near you.

Anna Karenina, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Catch-22, The Bible, Lolita...well, you get the idea.

EDIT: This occurred to me today, because Mirror just posted about finishing reading Moby Dick for the second time. (Another friend just slogged through Ulysses--I need to get reading!) What would Disney do with MD? Would Ahab learn the error of his ways and do a lovely song and dance at the end with the whale over the side of the ship--written by Randy Newman, no doubt?

Are we insular?

Miss Conduct (a columnist in the Boston Globe magazine) was addressing the question of socializing at parties such as alumni brunches. She said that people "...shuffle the music on our iPods rather than tuning in to a radio station to hear something different. We shop online to avoid contact with sales staff and other customers. We learn about current events from radio...blogs, and magazines that reinforce our existing political beliefs. We customize our existence, choosing the comfort of the known over the shock of the new."

Hmmm...

Quite by chance in that limbo after "24" when I was deciding if I wanted to go to bed, read, blog, write, or just continue watching TV, I caught part of a Fraiser I'd never seen (I was never a regular viewer of Fraiser so I wasn't surprised) with Elvis Costello, Felicity Huffman and John (Ah'm too saixy for H'America as my husband and I call him in Scottish burr) Hannah. Well I had to find out what that was about. ^_- Turns out that Elvis has been singing in Fraiser's favorite coffee shop driving Fraiser and Niles out in search of another. It led to quite funny exchanges about the absurdities of coffee buying (semi-colossal, colossal--how does that compare to a Grande?) and about how insular Fraiser and Niles are.

So I was thinking. Am I insular? One tries not to be, but we do flock to others who share our opinions and tastes. Having been more social this past weekend than usual I had great enjoyment on Saturday of meeting new people through old friends and discussing theater and then introducing a friend to another group of friends on Sunday and doing the same. But we are, for the most part a fairly homogeneous group. And what we do not share, we politely do not discuss. One of our group IS a Libertarian and that's led to some strange discussions. Most of the group on Saturday are Christians but not heavily into proselytizing. Even beyond that--is the Internet really just serving to help us form tighter and tighter circles of things we already know and like? As I keep going back to--most people I find in boards just want to shout their own opinions. And just think--just like a tune on an Mp3 player, if you don't like someone on My Space you can just block them! E.M. Forster (of all people!) wrote a "sci-fi" story about a future where we all exist in small mechanized rooms where every need is brought to us by machines and our protagonist visits his mother and tells her that he has visited the surface!
The Machine Stops. Looking at this entry I am startled by his prediction of TV, videoconferencing and the discussion of Secondhand ideas in 1909.

Well, this went in a direction I didn't predict when I sat down. When I read this story at 16 or so, I was afraid then of being someone who only discussed "secondhand ideas." I don't know if I'm doing much better now.

Random epigram


Driving into work today and observing the weather,
Thought, Ethan Frome's is the worst suicide attempt ever.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Almost, Maine

I went to see a play this afternoon written by an alum of my college, and I went with an alum of my college, not to have a sort of school spirit thing. I didn't know it was by an alum until last week and I really wasn't interested in going until my friend and I were making plans for the weekend. The playwright and I were actually there at the same time--he was a few years ahead of me. I didn't recognize his name but I recognized him when I saw him. His name is John Cariani and his "day" job is playing Beck, the forensics technician on Law and Order. I kept seeing him in L&O and thinking I knew him, but couldn't think why.

God forgive me, I really wanted to not like his play. I wanted it to be pretentious and overblown the way many student plays were when I was at college even though that was nearly 15 years ago. I have nothing against him personally, I just was too human and bitter. Almost, Maine is a sweet and tender set of 9 short plays set in northern Maine where the sky is big. All of the plays are about love and all have an element of magic realism in them. For example, one woman brings six laundry sized bags to her lover saying, "This is all the love you've given me. I'm giving it back and I want the love I've given you."

Another character carries her broken heart in a paper bag. Two men discover they love each other and "fall" repeatedly. Despite the fantastical elements, the characters were always real--well played by a friend of mine and the rest of the cast. In one of the two darker pieces a man and wife realize that they no longer love each other, not because of something big and disasterous, but because of a small turning away that each has been doing for ages. I would hazard a guess that every person in a long-term relationship in that audience related to that piece. The set was simple with simple snow drop boxes covering the scene changes. There was a discussion after and the director said he wanted it to look like a snow globe being shaken up each time. The backdrop was a star field--the most basic kind with tiny LED's in black cloth and yet they were fantastic when lit. Truly lovely.

He actually remembered me, well, sort of and we exchanged a few words on mutual aquaintances. What's funny is that he, himself is an odd person. Strangely awkward, still seeming like the guy I knew at 22. I've found this most pronouncedly in playwrights for some reason--this ability to write the most exquisite interaction on stage, but unable to actually live it.

Oh, also...I've been talking for awhile with various theater friends about how so many new plays are just unproduceable--they jump from scene to scene, they want effects that only Lincoln Center could afford, etc., the effects of television. While these were 9 short plays, each play was well thought out and shaped and contained one location, one time. It's not that I think we need to return to the classical unities or that the break from them was a bad thing for it's time, it's just that there doesn't seem to be a building of relationships in plays anymore, and it was nice to see this return.

The more I need to do something else...

I find the more I desperately need to do something that might get me further ahead in life instead of stuck in what Red Queen Day borrows from Alice--running just to stay in place--the more I procrastinate with things which seem important and taxing but really get me nowhere. So I am up until 2:00 am, delighted with myself for editing the HTML (something I've had in the back of my mind for AGES) when if I were truly being useful I'd be building the actual web page I've promised myself for almost two years, and from there building the portfolio to get into grad school OR making a script for a voice-over demo tape since people who use voice over talent have said that I should. OR writing the play or the novel that exist in huge chunks in my head. OR at the very least cleaning, ironing and sewing. Possibly exercising (though prob. not at 2 am).

What's funny is that it's a variable list. Sometimes I clean to procrastinate something even more frightening, but see, cleaning just gets you to the same spot, only cleaner. A portfolio MIGHT get me further ahead--but it's the lack of guarantee that daunts me.

Love,
Novel
And yes, that's me in the corner with good lighting, a few pounds ago (just a few--truth in advertising--which makes me a BAD salesperson).

Oh, and added the Technorati thingamy. We shall see. Low expectations shall always be rewarded.

Discipline and other stuff

Discipline. I don't have it.

So many things occur to me to write about--but they are never short, and then I get bogged down in the "what's the point" mode.

Today was interesting. Went to a reading of a friend's play (Mirror up to Nature). Excellent, excellent start. Really close to being done. We discussed his new method of working which included the use of an outline. Like me he has sooo many interests he could ramble for the rest of his life and some of his plays have suffered for that. This one rambled, but always came back. One of the characters is a former MI non-com, military intelligence (what's the definition of an oxymoron, Ma?). Kidding aside, Mirror once was, and stationed in Korea. One of the things which stuck with me was the fact that tributes to MI operatives say "a dangerous and sensitive mission," no details, as opposed to regular forces where mission details are generally given (died defending Hill 403 from enemy attack). That not even in death can the secrets be revealed to family.

Watched the last part of "The State Within," BBC miniseries (well prob. reg. series in Britain) about the manipulation of a war by big business. Hmmm... Too plausible (to cynics like me).

Another thread of Mirror's play was what are we doing with our lives. He's about my age, most of the readers and commentors were about my age. Most of us over-educated (as one character describes himself). What have we done since college? Anything? Anything of importance? What is important? Writing that novel, that play? Writing a successful novel, successful play? Just getting by? Volunteering in Africa? One of the guys (Playomatic at YouTube and My Space) has volunteered in Africa, and makes movies. But they (the movies, not the volunteering) aren't really succesful. Neither are Mirror's plays, but they're still doing better than I am when I can't even get the novel or play out of my head and onto the page. Blech.

Also thinking about criticism. How to do it, how to take it. The web is full of criticism. Most of it useless. Mirror wanted quality feedback with detail, which I think we gave him. I've always admired Mirror's ability to take criticism (and praise, interestingly enough). It's a difficult art. I've been exchanging poetry critique on the board I mentioned below. I've really enjoyed it, and would love to find more places to do it, but I don't want to be stuck in poetry 101. I was able to skip that in college and I've no desire to visit it now. Call me immodest, but I think I'm at least in Poetry 202. The guy on the board who's posting and critiquing and I have exchanged PM's about whether anyone want's to read what we're saying to each other, and whether other posters are interested in joining in. So far no one really has been, so we've drifted off. I also know enough about myself to know that I'm not so good at soft-pedling. If it's bad I'm better off saying nothing or I'll start saying it, and on a board that can be suicide. I don't want to be antagonistic and cruel. "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams (Yeats)" The web is just full of people possibly laying out their dreams and other people just live to jump up and down on them. Or maybe I'm projecting. I do that.

You Tube is full of people saying "This is crap." Sometimes they're saying it about things which are generally accepted as very good (Billy Collins poetry, David Bowie, Kate Bush). Do they think they are cool for bucking the trend? Of course, some things which are critically accepted are crap and may things which are "popular" are crap. I, for instance, cannot stand Rothko. I think he's laughing all the way to the bank. My mother thought everything after the Impressionists was crap and I certainly don't think that. There is much in Modern art that moves me. And there are things I like that I know are bubble gum and don't bother to defend (Dr. Who novels.) And things which may be bubble gum but which I will defend as not (Duran Duran). I don't quite get the point of looking for things to say, "That's crap." (Forgive this use of Thugs on Film terminology). The point is, now the web has made us all arbiters of taste. But who's opinion do you read (or dig through the rest for). I'd much rather have a decent conversation with one person, than random sparring with a bunch of unknowns.

My husband is a tremendous snob in art, lit and music. He says, "That's crap" a lot of the time. Only he says it to me and our circle of friends. He doesn't go out and find strangers to say it to. There's a book in there that could make me millions, if only I were disciplined.