Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Applause, applause.

Recorded my interview with Dee Perry for WVIZ's arts and entertainment program Applause this afternoon.

I have been making appearances on WCPN's Around Noon since 1998. Radio was already something I'd gotten very comfortable with, I fiddled with it in college, Guerrilla Theater Co. did a radio show on WRUW ten years ago. I used to get nervous coming in for an interview with Dee but with practice, my familiarity with her, it's just no freaky thing now.

But TV is just weird. I gave myself a tension headache earlier today just thinking about it. Frtunately, so much of producing television is this tedious standing around and waiting, any potential nerves just evaporated.

It helps when the situation is new to everyone around you, too. Both WVIZ and WCPN have only just recently moved into the Idea Center on Euclid Avenue. I believe they have taped some segments for Applause in the new studio - which is located right on Euclid, you can see the studio from the street - but the part of the show where I perform scenes from I Hate This was the first time they tried to shoot something using the window as a backdrop.

They were messing with filters, which glare screen to use ... I didn't get to see the final take, but apparently everyone was pleased with it.

Usually I do a scene with Lydia in it if I need to pick something out of context. But they aren't very active scenes, and this is television, so I did the Nurse Angel scene, where I get to run all over the bed. We did a few takes, I managed to fark up a word or two in each take, but I think they got something good. I hope so.

The interview was unnerving as well. I knew I'd have to be concise, that it would be a shorter interview than I was used to. I mentioned how the mission of the show was to get people to open up, and to discuss this dark part of life. I think I said there were more people who'd experienced neonatal death than you might think.

After the taping, the producer and one other member of the production team came up to share their stories with me. One was a survivor of another kind, a cancer survivor, but also told me how their mother had lost a girl, and she wasn't allowed to see her. The other was the parent to a boy he lost nineteen years ago.

And you know, sometimes I get stuck as to exactly what to say. "Nineteen ... wow," was probably how I started. But we kept talking for some time.

Of course, when I was asked about the sgnificance of March 20th as the broadcast date (they knew - it was a set-up) I am not sure what I said, but I might as well have said, "Five. Wow." That would have been enough.

Applause broadcast dates: Thu. March 16 @ 7:30p, Sat. March 18 @ 6:30p & Sun. Mar. 19 @ 1:00p

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sweeping Up at Grebe's

Summer 1983 Playlist
01. Our House - Madness Madness
02. Why Me? - Planet P Project Planet P Project
03. Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) - A Flock Of Seagulls Listen
04. Europa And The Pirate Twins - Thomas Dolby The Golden Age of Wireless
05. The Electric Co. - U2 Under a Blood Red Sky
06. Legal Tender - The B-52's Whammy!
07. I'm Still Standing - Elton John Too Low For Zero
08. (Keep Feeling) Fascination - Human League The Very Best of the Human League
09. Safety Dance - Men Without Hats Greatest Hats
10. Da Da Da (Ich Lieb Dich Nicht) - Trio Da Da Da
11. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) - Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
12. The Fanatic - Felony The Fanatic
13. Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) - Haircut 100 Pelican West
14. Oblivious - Aztec Camera High Land, Hard Rain
15. Whenever You're on My Mind - Marshall Crenshaw Field Day
16. Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson Night and Day
17. Overkill - Men At Work Cargo
18. Time (Clock of the Heart) - Culture Club Kissing to Be Clever
19. Mad World - Tears For Fears The Hurting
20. King of Pain - The Police Synchronicity
21. Is There Something I Should Know? - Duran Duran Greatest

When We Got Our MTV in Bay Village (May, 1983) I was completing my freshman year in high school. It was as if someone opened the sluice valve and 100% Euro-Trash started gushing into my blonde shag living room. The early 80s were fun. You could put gel in your hair, wear bright pink and make-up and still say proudly, "I'm not a fag."

Except I didn't do any of those things. At least not right away. But my imagination was fueled by all of the haircuts, the accents, the fashion, the whole not here-ness of the whole thing. It was not rock, and by that time, in that place, I had had it with rock music. Synthesizers, androgyny, dancing, it all meant the future.

It also meant sex.

I was trapped in suburbia that summer. Henrik was already living in London (at least, he was right at that time) and Denny had recently returned from spending time in Germany with an exchange program.

When Toni thinks of the best time she could ever have gone to London, it is, of course, 1977. Irony of ironies, I was actually there then, briefly, but as an eight year-old I wasn't exactly taking the time to indulge in the Summer of Punk. In fact, most of the time was spent driving around the countryside, seeing castles and very large rocks.

When I think of Britain, I can't help thinking of the London of the early 80s. Horns! Congas! Faux-Ska! The Beat! Haircut 100! White guys and black guys, in the same band! It's disco - but it's not! Bands with exotic, non-ironic names like Aztec Camera and Flock of Seagulls! I see you crying and I want to kill your friends ... So innocent. So adult.

And in the summer of 1983, what did I do with all that pent-up frustration? Unleash it on my girlfriend of course, which is amusing, seeing as I didn't have the slightest idea what I was doing. ("At one stage - she even took her bra off." - Rik, "The Young Ones")

Out of the blue she decided to contact me last week and we've been playing nostalgia-tag via email. Hence the 1983 playlist.

But no, the summer of 1983 wasn't when I became cool. It was when I decided to become cool. Actually getting there took another fifteen years.

And ended the day I started keeping a blog, of course.

We are all getting pretty excited about the London trip. I should say Zelda and I are getting excited, Orson has no clue and Toni can't get past the thought of hanging onto a ten month-old in and out of three airports and ten hours on a plane. Everyone gives us the same advice; Benadryl. I love it - we mock our ancestors for being ignorant of what was in all those patent medicines, namely cocaine or alcohol, and yet here was are intentionally drugging our children in order to get them to calm the hell down.

It's our first Post-9/11 transatlantic trip, which I try not to think about. I also try not think about the Underground. This is me, not thinking about it.

Our first trip to London together was in 1997. Mmmm-Bop was the number one single in Britain at the time (can't remember the name of the band) and there were double-decker buses and Princess Diana was still alive. But they didn't have the Eye, and whatever anyone else says about its presence in the London skyline, Zelda can't wait to ride on it.

Our 2001 trip to London was not, actually, a horrible time. There were just horrible times in it. Father's Day at the Otter & Owl Conservatory was very nice. Having Denny there was also really great. And I did get to see Blue/Orange with the original cast.

It will be highly bizarre to move back into that big, sunny room on the third floor. Lying awake in shock and doubt after completing The Sparrow, napping whenever, crying often. And now it will be filled with kids. Five years.

Henrik & Brenda sent us the DVD for the first season of the new Dr. Who to bring us up to speed - on London, not just the Doctor. The first five minutes is all the 21st Century City.

Except for the the busses.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Up the Junction

New performance date:
I HATE THIS
Presented by the Wandsworth Bereavement Service

Friday 24 March at 7.30pm

St Vincent de Paul
36 Altenburg Gardens, London UK

It's about a mile from my brother's place in Battersea. Special thanks to Claire B. at the WBS for taking a chance on this show, and to Henrik who promised to do whatever he could to make a performance happen while we're all in Britain.

It's a great date - I get two days to recover from jetlag, and then the rest of the vacation to think about other things.

Details as they develop.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Free Shakespeare ...

... with every $25 purchase.

Coming this spring, the Great Lakes Theater Festival 2006 Surround Program: Three-Fold Love which includes 20 free performances of G.B. Shaw's The Dark Lady of the Sonnets featuring yours truly as (wait for it) William Shakespeare.

Also, Great Lakes just posted the 2006-2007 Season. It's a little funny.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Conference website

Thanks to Todd H. for all his work putting up the I Hate This page at the Nat'l Perinatal Bereavement Conference website.

Also, take a look at the presenters. There's an impressive variety of presentation topics, any one of them in particular anyone wants to urge us to attend?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Winners!

As a tribute to all those who have been enjoying the Winter Olympics (has anyone made any biathalon jokes about Cheney yet?) here are a few cheesy Flash animations.

The Ultimate Showdown (of Ultimate Destiny)

Winners!

And yes, that's me, as a South Park character. Cute.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jack

Okay, that last comment was not rhetorical. Not at all. I didn't think it was odd when there was a large amount of old furniture and other household items on the curb next door two Fridays ago. When there was an even larger amount of stuff heaped up on the curb last Friday, I started wondering what was going on.

As people kept coming and going, it was beconing more and more apparent that something was wrong, and then our postman asked if Ben (who everyone called Jack) was dead. That's what you conclude when mail begins to be delivered "To the estate of" people, and not to the people themselves.

My first real interaction with Jack was shortly after I moved in, back in 1993. It was on Halloween, and all the kids who went over the my neighbor's house would let out a terrified shriek shortly after stepping up to the door. After a while, I had to find out myself what was going on.

The light was on over the door, with candy set out in a dish next to a large, ghoulish mannequin. There were other decorations in and around the bushes next to the door, and I kept my eye on the door as I stepped closer to see what was the big scare.

Then, of course, the mannequin moved. That was Jack.

He was a big guy, and I don't know exactly how old he was. In recent years he'd been retired, and I did noticed he'd lost a lot of weight. Only recently did he tell me about his bout with cancer, a struggle he finally lost, about a week ago. I feel bad that I hadn't noticed his absence earlier.

There was a limousine out front this morning - Zelda wanted to know why it concerned us so. I went out and spoke to the driver, who confirmed Jack was dead. Toni went out a little later to hug his grown daughters, to offer condolensces and our regrets while I sat in with Zelda and Orson.

Once I had received the news from the driver then, finally, I told Zelda. Toni and I had been speaking in code for the past two days, wondering whether to go over, or what to do. She took the infomration in stride, because I don't think she understands the larger ramifications of the news.

The past two summers there has been a lot of play between our house and Jack's. His youngest daughter, Alexandrea, who just turned eleven, spent a great deal of time with Zelda the past two summers. She lives with her mom in another part of town. I don't know what the fate of Jack's house is, or whether we will be seeing Alexandrea much anymore, if at all.

Then there is Jack's presence. I observed last year how this is Zelda's childhood, and when she grows up, Jack is always going to be in her memory as "that nice old man who lived next door." The guy with the crazy Halloween decorations - it seemed he owned every motion-activated gee-gaw you could find at Walgreen's. And at Easter there was always a GIANT blue bunny made out of duct tape, and a flamingo with bright, fake feathers, and his lawn was littered with plastic Easter eggs. Jack was Halloween and Easter to me. He made the neighborhood fun.

I'm going to miss him. And I wish I didn't have to talk so much about death.

Hello, Long Island

New date confirmed:
North Shore University Hospital
Rust Auditorium
Manhasset, NY
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Sponsored by the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Program.

Thanks to Nancy B. for working so hard to make sure this happens.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Dark Side

The other night I was taking care of both of the kids, and I said what I knew would be a temporary farewell to Zelda - I needed to rock Orson to sleep, and asked Zelda to try and go to sleep herself while I took care of him. She's been fractious lately, and holding Orson (who was already half asleep) and trying to read to Zelda, who was willfully not going to sleep, was quite a chore.

I asked for a hug, she wouldn't give me one, so I headed out saying, "Good night. I love you."

Zelda: No, you don't.

Dad: Yes, I do, more than you possibly realize. You are my little girl.

Zelda: No, I'm not, I'm a big girl.

Dad: You're right, you're my big girl, and you are my only daughter, the only daughter I will ever have, and I will love you forever.

Zelda: Dad?

Dad: Yes, sweetheart?

Zelda: Are you still alive?

I am standing in the middle of her room, holding a prone Orson. She's lying there in bed.

Dad: Yes, Zelda, I'm still alive.

Zelda: Are you going to die?

Dad: Not for a long time. Grampa John and Tertia are almost twice as old as I am.

Zelda: How old are you?

Dad: I was born thirty-seven years ago. You were born three years ago. Your brother was born almost one year ago.

Zelda: Okay.

And I said "good-night" again, and put Orson to bed. Toni tells me there are experts (and there are always experts) who say it's better for a child to wrestle with the idea of mortality now, rather than when they are five or six. I just wonder who will die next, and what we'll do.

Where's the line? Between a reasonable acceptance and awareness of death and morbidity?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Heart-Shaped Box

Zelda asked to see the green & purple box - "the one for Grampa Calvin" - that we keep up on top of the bookshelf in the upstairs hallway. I believe this was the first time she had asked that since we put it up there. It used to be down in the tee vee room, and before that it was in a bag, waiting for all of Calvin's things to be put into it.

We did not fill the box until Zelda was born, and we decided it was time to change the room (which had actually fallen into a kind of storage space, I have to admit) into the aforementioned tee vee room. Then we put it up high when she took too great an interest in all the things in it, but was too young to talk about them.

Oh, and Grampa Calvin is her great-grandfather, after whom Calvin is named. I thought she was getting that they are two different people ... but then I am not sure exactly what she understands. We waited until after Orson was born, so she wouldn't worry, to explain that this Calvin we talk about is her brother, who died in Mommy's belly, before he was born. Before she was born.

We took the box into the tee vee rom, what was once Calvin's room. It was late, and Orson had little patience. It was as I expected, Zelda wanted to look at everything, pull it all out. We didn't want to be too edgy (don't touch that, be careful with that) and I think Toni was more concerned with the order of things in the box than I, but she wanted to keep certain things out, to have them and to use them, and we said no. Pretty abruptly it was bedtime, with Toni ushering the kids out of the room and my carefull folding and putting away things. A bib. A hat. Two handmade blankets. The high-tops. I had forgotten about the blankets.

There will be a time, someday, for future discussion. I don't know how to do this. I hope it's all right. Later, when Z. was getting distempered about going to bed, I changed the subject for a moment, apologizing for being so proprietary with the things in Calvin's box, but explaining that there are things of his she uses every day - the baby blanket M.P. got for Calvin, the quilt that Donna made. This calmed her down a little, and then she changed the subject, too.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Ready for Prime-Time

First prime-time broadcast of IHT on WCPN will take place on Monday, March 20 at 8 PM. An early birthday present.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Looking for Billy Joel

Received confirmation today that I will be performing I Hate This in Long Island on Sunday, April 30. That will be a whirlwind event - I was able to just shoehorn this one in between rehearsals for Sarah Morton's Night Bloomers.

What's great about this show is that it is a direct result of my work at the NY Fringe in 04. Following that production, and the review, I had a number of offers - to perform in upstate New York, Boston, Off-Broadway - that didn't or couldn't go through. Nancy B. hung onto the review all this time and was waiting for the right moment to propose a show - to her organization, and to me. Means a lot that she'd hang on to the idea of bringing me to her hometown for two years.

Details as they emerge.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

It's Official!

Read it and weep:

East Siders Have Sex More Often
Cleveland Magazine, February, 2006

Let's hear it for quantity over quality.