Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hope you didn't miss this.

Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner-- President Not Amused?

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.” (more)

Now the real news ... we are not, for the time being, leaving Cleveland.

Toni has accepted the offer from Goddard College, and will begin their low-residency MFA program in creative writing this June. Both then, and next January, the family will be spending ten days in residency in the middle of I-have-no-idea, Vermont. The rest of our lives will be spent in Cleveland Heights. I mean, the rest of our time. Did I say the rest of our lives?

We have yet to figure out if we are moving - a lateral, if you will - to another home in CH. It's a dintinct possibility. Then there's the BA garage sale, shortly before we leave for VT. Details forthcoming.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Insert punchline here.

Just got a call from the doctor's office, they say they've seen the report on my brain and not to worry, "There's nothing going on in there."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

For your information, I did have my head examined.

Haven't been to my desk in weeks, I have been on "hiatus" from GLTF since just before Calvin's birthday and the trip to London. Gave me the chance to do, in addition to all the traveling, Sarah's show.

So I was in yesterday, we were performing DARK LADY on the Ohio stage for a teachers' workshop. I had exactly one message, from the office that's looking into my migraines. They'd set up an appointment for me to have an MRI, but I needed to schedule it by (get this) tomorrow. The message was left a long time, ago, you see.

Surprise, they were able to see me right away. Last night. I had an MRI. Visions of Peter Krause after the accident in season one of SIX FEET UNDER running through my head (would they show up on the monitor?) as I tried to relax, God knows what kind of radiation streaming through my skull and gray matter. And eyeballs. And tongue. I'll stop.

They were ridiculously calm and kind, the technicians and nurses, or whatever they were. I had earphones - what kind of music would I like? I asked for nature sounds, they had a rainstorm still in the CD player, perfect. Only it didn't stand a chance against the gigantic, rumbling machine sitting a few inches above my nose. Lucky I had a cage bolted over my face for protection. I tried not to open my eyes too much, actually.

And then, on the way out, they handed me the slides. All of them, a big package. Lots of lovely pictures of my brain - so shut up all of you, I have proof, do you? And Christ Almighty, is my nose really that big?

I've looked over a few of them. Haven't spotted any big, dark, asymmetrical blotches or anything that doesn't look ... brain ... ish. I am counting on the experts saying the same thing.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Birthday from a Shakespearean Agnostic

In spite of the fact that the vast majority of people who care about Shakespeare don't even know there is a controversy surrounding the authorship of the Bard's plays, I am becoming highly irritated and bored with the line of increasingly defensive, shrill and insulting series of essays in the popular media championing the Stradfordian cause.

Stratfordian: One who believes the actor from Stratford named William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and poems attributed to him.

Case in point: Yesterday's paean to Shakespeare in the NY Times - The Modern Elizabethan. None of it is necessarily untrue, though little of it is based in fact, only speculation. I no longer care if I believe Shakespeare's plays were written by De Vere, Bacon, Marlowe or by committee. None of those makes sense. But neither does the idea that WS of Stratford wrote them, not really, and wildly wishing that he did doesn't make it true.

Comparisons between Shakespeare and George Washington do not prove WS wrote Hamlet. The fact that Dickens was also an actor turned writer have no connection to Shakespeare's having been both. And it's sweet that critics are "fond of imagining" that WS may have been writing Midsummer and R&J at the same time, but then they are free to imagine that I may have done the same thing. There's no logic, no fact, and yet there is plenty of vitriol and abuse, as though anyone who speculates upon the authorship of Shakespeare's work is some kind of conspiracy fantasist - and worse yet, some kind of elitist.

But I do like a good birthday. Nine years ago Toni and I happened to be in Washington D.C. on the weekend the Folger Library holds their annual Shakespeare Birthday Party (the Folger, by the way, holds documents that strongly suggest De Vere was the author) and rather than focusing on the man, they put on a great family festival celebrating his work, the plays, making costumes and putting on impromptu shows - improv comedians work the crowd, riffing on famous passages, and anyone who wants to get up on the stage of their recreation of the Globe Theatre to perform a scene is welcome to.

It is a festival to honor and commemmorate the work and passion of the Bard, the end product, the message, not the man.

I wish Christmas were more like that.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Keyword: Zelda

Josh is so busted.

The Smell of The Wild

That's a big two-thumbs-down from Lady Z. on Disney's latest animated slugfest, The Wild. Excuse me, when exactly did all Disney films become so f***ing violent? Loud and scary. Even the "funny" bits, too loud, fast and aggressive. I didn't like it, Zelda really didn't like it, the movie has been target marketed for a some specific seven year-old white boy in Kansas with major ADD.

Speaking of scary, one of my fellow performers in NB, Theresa, has been doing her homework where I have not. We share a scene together as husband and wife with a missing child. Usually I do my own research, but I'd been avoiding that topic, hoping, without thinking too hard about it I suppose, that it would play itself.

She found these two very helpful and upsetting sites: Nevada Child Seekers and Team H.O.P.E. I think I got a few paragraphs into the Team H.O.P.E. materials, began projecting, and handed them back saying quietly, "Thank you, I can't take any more of these." I have just fueled my nightmares for the next seventeen years.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Single Parent

Toni, her mom and Orson are in Vermont this weekend so she can check out another school. We thought Z. might not be able to take yet another trip out of town, so she is alone with dad. Minor tantrum this afternoon, entirely understandable, and I could have dealt with it better, only I had been suffering a headache all day.

Hmn. Some big, different, important, special thing happens, I get a headache. Should make a note of that.

It is our first weekend solo together. I plan on spoiling the hell out of her tomorrow - dinner and a movie (only not in that order.) What movies are available? Nothing but computer animated rubbish, The Wild seems the least offensvie, except for Eddie Izzard as the koala getting beaten up all the time.

If you haven't already, check out the latest banned commerical from the United Church of Christ. Makes me want to start visiting Pilgrim. That and Connie Schultz.

Latest note on rehearsals: Gotta love a show where you need to learn the foxtrot.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Inappropriate Email of the Day

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Waste of Life

Thanks so much to Catherine for finding this: A Waste of Life: Fathers' Experience of Losing a Child Before Birth. It is a pretty stunning read - and a little disorienting to find it was published in 2001. It's like, you were putting this out there just as I was discovering it all. Feels strange.

Dream Diary: Saturday, September 15, 2001
I walked down a street and noticed that the further I got down the road, the more cars there were, parked first orderly to the side and then at crazy angles to the pavement. They were all blue cars, the same uniform, bright blue. It was then I realized a paint factory had blown up and coated the street.

Tonight I realized most of the characters I have played in Sarah's work are not the protagonists, but those who effect the protagonists. Those Who Cause Damage. Three of the four characters I will perform in NIGHT BLOOMERS could (possibly) fall into that category. But one ... he's an invitation to the dark places.

I get Calvin and 9/11 caught up together, the way a lot of people do with tragic events; this, therefore, that. Post hoc, propter hoc. The first time that kind of survivor's trauma was expressed to me eloquently (or so I could understand it) was in the film Last Night. "My girlfriend died ... and then they said the world was going to end." You have to see it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Subtle Changes

Rehearsals began this evening for Sarah Morton's latest work, Night Bloomers, opening May 12 - a Dobama Theater production presented at the Cleveland Play House.

It is a very exciting company. The only cast member I have worked with before is Nick, and some I met for the first time tonight. They will be teaching me ballroom dancing for the show, better late than never. I am playing four, sharply drawn characters. It is going to be a challenge and I am looking forward to it. Been doing a lot of acting these past two years, so much more than in previous years. It feels good.

Sarah gave us some revisions tonight. There are subtle alterations in the dialogue provided to one of my characters, I won't say what they are, but they leapt out at me. I appreciated them. Does that make sense? They meant a lot to me. Sorry I can't be specific, I really shouldn't - and won't be - writing about rehearsal. You'll just have to come see it. It's going to be a stunning production.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Home (?)

Easter Sunday was spent in Roger's Park, visiting friends, having brunch, discussing miscarriage, freezing our butts off on the shores of Lake Michigan (several days of pitch-perfect weather had come abruptly to an end.) We had been home from London for about nine days before leaving for Chicago, Toni heads off on Friday for Vermont. Whether or not Zelda goes with her is up in the air at the moment.

Will we move to Chicago? That's the unanswered question right now, but it sure is asked alot. I hesitated making it so obvious here, but apparently it's already an open secret. One artistic director in town, who shouldn't know anything about it, asked if it was true, and so I guess I am a person who is talked about. It's been fun pretending I am not. I guess everyone is talked about.

And you know what Oscar Wilde said.

I was in a kitchen yesterday, lamenting the state of the nation. Americans are inherently selfish. The whole rights of the individual thing, there's little sense of responsibility, it's all about entitlement. The more people spread out, miles from the center of any collective activity, driving, driving, driving, away from others. Away from any social responsibility. No taxes, no public schools, no centers of culture - it's like that theater I saw in Elmhurst, some people are trying like hell to bring good, professional, interesting theater to the suburbs. And it's so hard, and why? Because you moved. The good stuff is downtown, but no one wants to go downtown.

I had a conversation with a woman after a performance of DARK LADY in a suburb of Akron (that always makes me laugh, "suburb of Akron") and she was telling me how much better it would be if GLTF toured their mainstage shows - why don't we take our professional Shakespeare to where she is, we'd get a much bigger audience.

And you wonder why Cleveland is dying. She wants to see what it has to offer, but she won't. She wants Cleveland to go to her. Pffffffftttthhh.

I know how to save Cleveland. Amazing no one has suggested it before. It's so simple.

First: Get one or two major corporations to move their headquarters to downtown Cleveland.

Second: These large corporations will employ people locally, who will be encouraged not only to work, but live and play in downtown Cleveland. Real jobs with good pay, not this cleaning up after a**holes from Medina at the Q garbage.

Third: The taxes paid by these large corporations (because you weren't thinking they'd get to make billions of dollars here without paying their fair share of taxes, did you?) would pay for strong schools, infrastructure, reasonable mass trasnit, etc.

Fourth: The people living working and playing in the city center would expect art and entertainment, and would frequent downtown movie houses, galleries and theaters, as well as shops, restaurants and other businesses. And the schools would be so great people might send their own kids there.

That's it. Easy peasy. And that's capitalism, too, none of that corporate or public welfare crap. That's all we have to do.

What? Can't happen? Crazy dreamer? Well sh**, why don't we all just hang ourselves and get it over with?

So Much

Music from the Big Love 2003-2006
01. House Party Time Dan Zanes And Friends - House Party
02. Riding In My Car (Car Song) Woody Guthrie - Nursery Days
03. Where Do They Make Balloons? They Might Be Giants - NO!
04. All Things (TV Theme) Widelife - Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
05. The Scientist Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
06. Move Your Feet Junior Senior - D-D-Don't Don't Stop the Beat
07. Hey Ya Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
08. Keep Me In Your Heart Warren Zevon - The Wind
09. Angels in America (Main Title) Thomas Newman - Angels In America
10. Grand Central Station Mary Chapin Carpenter - Between Here and Gone
11. All Night Sam Phillips - A Boot and a Shoe
12. Mad World Gary Jules - Donnie Darko
13. Let Go Frou Frou - Garden State
14. There's Always Someone Cooler Than You Ben Folds - Sunny 16
15. Future Sightings I Am the World Trade Center - The Cover Up
16. Brand New Colony The Postal Service - Give Up
17. Magical Trevor + Badgers Weebl
18. Chase Me Hexstatic - Master-View
19. United States Of Whatever Liam Lynch - United States of Whatever
20. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show - O.C.M.S.
21. Six Feet Under Main Theme Thomas Newman - Six Feet Under
22. Baby Beluga Raffi - Baby Beluga
23. This Land Is Your Land Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Naturally
24. Holiday Green Day - American Idiot
25. Chicken Soup With Rice Carole King - Really Rosie
26. Catch the Moon Elizabeth Mitchell & Lisa Loeb - Catch the Moon
27. Do You Want To? Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
28. Golddigger (Edited) Kanye West (Feat. Jamie Foxx) - Late Registration
29. The Sporting Life The Decemberists - Picaresque
30. Breathe On Me (Farewell Theme to Project Runway) Harold Barefoot Sanders III
31. Life on Mars? David Bowie - Hunky Dory
32. A Place For Us Dan Zanes And Friends - House Party
33. "What happened to Andrae?" Santino Rice

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Who Farted?

Yesterday morning was spent sleeping. Well, I wasn't sleeping, but Toni needed to, and the kids crashed early. Zelda and I spent a big, long time at the pool and then there were naps all round. Friday was a long, tiring day for everyone so that was a very good thing.

We met Roger T. in his neighborhood, Andersonville, "the neighborhood that hates kids," as Roger calls it in his inimtiably sardonic style. It's still a very lovely place to live, with lots of rehabbed old homes and fabulous shops and restaurants and I hope it stays that way. All the gays are being driven out by young families, and you know what happens to the property values when they move into a neighborhood.

Maybe you heard of Andersonville, that's where the coffee shop was that had the audacity to kick out a family whose children were literally tearing up the place, and then post a sign requesting that "parents with small children please make them use inside voices and have proper restaurant behavior," or something to that effect. The nerve of those queers.

Anyway, it was a media hoopla for a few days, what with outraged parents trying to put the place out of business. Staging a boycott is such time-consuming business, you'd think it were more cost-effective to teach your children to respect other people when in public.

Later I split off from the family to see Ben in a production of Waiting for Godot in Elmhurst. You know, Beckett had a 100th birthday a few days ago, too. Samuel Beckett was born, and a day or so later San Francisco burned to the ground. Makes you think.

Ben's production was presented by a company that's trying to bring a higher level of drama to the suburbs. And I was largely impressed. They made it funny, that was the best part. It was not subtle - Gogo was Laurel and Didi was Hardy, end of story. Oh, and Lucky was a dead ringer for Buster Keaton. Ben, as Estragon, got to showcase his best talents, his sense of humor, his physical comedy, his sweetness, his goofy smile.

Roger saw me to the METRA train. Once I boarded the 6:40 to Elmhurst, I was alone. I hate being alone. It makes me feel selfish taking time on my own, away from Toni, away from the kids. Not selfish, afraid. Once the train started I could spend time watching the city go by, and that was comforting.

Ben and his wife Pam were in Andersonville once, in the very same coffee shop where all the ruckus occurred - on one of the days the ruckus occurred. As part of some p.r. stunt, a soccer mom came in and started a fight with the owners for the benefit of local media.

The place doesn't really hate kids. There were a couple places we visited that weren't just family-friendly, but generous. Huey's hot dog place had a great play area, and the ice cream parlor was, of course, a big hit. We eat a lot of ice cream on the road.

No, they don't hate kids. They hate stupid, thoughtless, foolish parents.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Insult to Injury

Tuesday will be the 100th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. So, of course, my thoughts turn to the Great Cedar Point EARTHQUAKE ride, which closed in 1984.

Like the discarded-to-the-North-Coast-nostalgia-scrap-heap PIRATE RIDE (closed, 1996) this ride was thrilling only in the way a drive around blind curves in a big, dark building filled with emotionless, hydraulic machinery that may well choose this day, for no particular reason, to kill someone is thrilling, EARTHQUAKE tells the story of one of America's original natural-disasters-compunded-by-govermental-fecklessness (I'm all about hyphens today) with delightful disregard for tact.

Everything is rosy in the early morning dawn of April 18, 1906, as sailors are kicked out of dark-light painted saloons (or wait, was that 1976?) while a refreshingly non-PC person of Asian descent gives some kind of fortune about disaster. Then the buildings start tilting at you, the fire begins, sirens wail, and then it all gets calm and quiet (I think there was even a Chinaman lurking in a garbage can on the final pass) and then you are back on the street, ready for a corn dog and a trip on the Blue Streak.

Or you could try the newest attraction, KATRINA!! where stupid white college students show you their day-glo painted tits, a clairvoyant in blackface holds up a chicken and says "Doom!" and then the storm comes, you drown, and the President says, "Heck of a job."

The EARTHQUAKE ride was built in 1965, so I guess we need to wait some sixty years before that's funny.

Doing my "research" for this today's entry, I came across the Cleveland!!! ride, which is, of course, not funny at all.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Things That Are Spooky Weird About Downtown Chicago

Spent a big long day going from place to place with the kids while Toni checked out the Institute. Zelda, Orson and I were left at Millennium Park, Zelda ran around the big metal Bean, and was roundly ingored by some rude seven year-olds while splashing around the fountain with the big faces.

A few really weird things jumped out at me as we wandered around the city:

- None of the storefronts are empty.
- A large number of people work here.
- A large number of people live here.
- A frightening number of people appear to have come here from out of town for no other reason than to do and see things here (I think there's a word for such people, but I don't know what it is.)

Also, we went all the way out to the suburbs and back and didn't need to use my car. Odd. How did we do that?

We visited a very nice school in Oak Park. Ben D. came out to join us, he gave us a quick tour of the neighborhood, and was a sweet Uncle Ben to the kids. There were also some super teenagers in the park who taught Z. how to use a frisbee.

This place f***ing rocks.

Big Shoulders

I don't believe I have ever driven in Chicago at night before last night - it's pretty stunning. Entering New York City by car is like sneaking in from underneath, coming to Chicago (is it all too sexual? excuse me, I just woke up) is like flying down in your own plane. Suddenly, there it is, and it's pretty big. Great skyline.

The kids were super, Toni dug the mix tape (I'll get that up eventually) and we got here in just enough time to use the pool. We are staying in the Chicago City Center Holiday Inn - Toni got a $99 a night rate, which is incredible, this place is fabulous. The staff is fabulous, the room is fabulous, fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

I gotta go, Toni heads off to an interview soon, and I will be alone with the kids in a strange city for most of the day. Gotta make plans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Music from the Big Love

It's 2006 - do you know how hard it is to find high quality audio cassettes?

In 1997, to celebrate three years together, I made a mix tape (remember those?) for Toni. 100 minutes of music and sound bites - in chronological order based on when we were listening to them. Music that was popular, concerts we went to, other business. It's a sweet kind of mess. Drinking, Smoking & Screwing is the title of a book of short stories she gave me when we started dating.

Three years later, and time for another tape. We were taking a three week road trip (supposedly our last before having our first child, which turned out ... differently) and so it was geared more towards being a driving tape. More pop music, less weird things, upbeat - except for the ending. That's You Must Love Me and no, we don't like Evita. Truth is, neither of us have ever seen Evita.

The last one, From There to Here, was tricky. How to create a simple mix tape based on what you have been listening to for the past three eyars, when those years included stillbirth, September 11th and the birth of your first living child. We were both pretty happy with how it sounds. (FYI, Henrik - two of those songs are from London, 2001. Guess which ones.)

Tomorrow we leave for Chicago. It's been three years. Got a new tape ready to go. Anyone who can guess any of the songs that are on it gets a dollar. I'll put the list up tomorrow.

From There to Here

Music from the Big Love 2000-2003
01. Opening Theme from I Hate This
02. Run On Elvis Presley - How Great Thou Art
03. Devil Doll Roy Orbison - Sun Story
04. Move It On Over Hank Williams - Hank Williams 40 Greatest Hits
05. Mind Your Own Business Taj Mahal - Senor Blues
06. The Jackal Ronny Jordan - The Quiet Revolution
07. Theme from The West Wing - Music By ... W.G. Snuffy Walden
08. Who? Benny Goodman - Ken Burns JAZZ Collection: Benny Goodman
09. I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow The Soggy Bottom Boys - O Brother, Where Art Thou?
10. Eternal Vow Yo-Yo Ma - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
11. Little Sparrow Dolly Parton - Little Sparrow
12. Saginou Zulya - Music from the Tea Lands
13. Summertime Miles Davis - Porgy and Bess
14. All Hail Macbeth Claire van Kampen - Sleep No More
15. And One (On One) Lilys - The 3-Way
16. The Origin of Love John Cameron Mitchell - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
17. Theme from Enterprise by Russell Watson - Enterprise
18. Without Express Intention Edgar Meyer - Work In Progress
19. These Days Nico - The Royal Tenenbaums
20. Time After Time Willie Nelson - The Great Divide
21. Run, Freedom, Run! Hunter Foster & Company - Urinetown (the Musical)
22. Lessons Learned from Rocky I to Rocky III Cornershop - Handcream for a Generation
23. Someday The Strokes - Is This It
24. Drop Cornelius - Point
25. He Needs Me Shelley Duvall - Punch-Drunk Love
26. Breathe Telepopmusik - Genetic World
27. Winnie the Parakeet Sherry Crane - Memphis Belles: Women of Sun Records
28. Mr. Cellophane John C. Reilly - Chicago
29. Theme from The Legend of Zelda
30. Ahoy There! Mr. Scruff - Trouser Jazz
31. Moonlight Sonata - Baby Genius Classical Series: Bedtime Beethoven
32. Closing Theme from I Hate This