Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why We Banned the Play About Iraq
NY Times Letter to the Editor from the Wilton, CT Superintendent of Schools

"We supported the student play about Iraq, but we have concerns about its drafts. Book, film and Web site source materials are cut and pasted together in a way that does not give them attribution or cite the viewpoint of the authors. Students directly act soldiers’ parts rather than read the sources, an approach that sensationalizes the material." (more)

Why do I keep posting about this story? Because it's about theater. Because I once directed a play about a war that sounds like it was created more or less the way this one is. Because their Superintendent of Schools just put forth one lame-ass excuse for stifling any student's creativity or personal expression.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Overheard in Cleveland

Parking attendant on a cellphone:
" ... see, I'm just beginning to understand how smart-mouthed Jesus was ..."

It's the Boomers' Century, we just live in it.

Apart From Wanting It All, What Makes Boomers So Special?
by Virginia Heffernan, NY Times, 3/28/2007

"To say that you were born in 1946 to a world of hope, only to have innocence dashed in November 1963, and go on to discover sex and free thought in the subsequent years, is just to say that you were born, turned 17 and grew up ..." (more)

(I'm in tech for THE TEMPEST ... I may have my own thoughts to share in a week.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance.
The Tempest V.i

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Play About Iraq War Divides a Connecticut School
By Alison Leigh Cowan, 3/24/2007

"'(Principal Timothy H. Canty) told us the student body is unprepared to hear about the war from students, and we aren’t prepared to answer questions from the audience and it wasn’t our place to tell them what soldiers were thinking,' said Sarah Anderson, a 17-year-old senior who planned to play the role of a military policewoman ..." (more)
Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss Blog Directory

Friday, March 23, 2007

Not alone.

Six short years ago (no, not short) we began creating a ritual. And on Calvin's first birthday it was pretty set: decorating the brick outside CPT, visitng his grave at Riverside Cemetery and then a trip to the zoo to see the otters. The home to create "the feast" which consists of spaghetti and meatballs (my favorite) whole artichokes with butter (her favorite) and some kind of dessert.

We did this alone that first year, just us and an otter named Bat. The next year, the day Bush started his war, we had a small child with us, who slept through most of it.

Now we have two, who shape the day's events as much as working around our schedules does.

The more you stay the same, the more they seem to change. Girl, put your records on.

Reading the Brick

We have three.

Riverside Cementery

It was a cold day this year. There is a new stone, on the other side of the tree, for children from UH who do not have their own plot. This troubled me a little, because I assume Calvins plot will now not get as much attention from the groundskeepers. He and his compatriots were cremated, and laid in a communal plot, which I guess is now full.

As if to confirm this potential for neglect, a backhoe which had worked on a nearby grave had pressed the stone into the muddy earth. It was partially obstructed, tokens of affection had been scattered. I wasn't prepared to do a proper cleaning, but managed as best I could with water from a sippy cup and the 900 number pages from a copy of Scene. We collected some of the toys and cars that had been tossed aside and put them back where they belonged.

Six sunflowers

Otter family

Tertia & Orson

My folks joined us at the zoo. I had an all-day rehearsal for TEMPEST, and the plan was to have the feast after 8.30 when I got home. By then the kids were quite squirrelly, and so we had dessert with them and put them to bed. Toni and I enjoyed Calvin's birthday dinner on our own for the first time in years.

By then it was very late. To do things right, we'd need to go through his things, listen to his song, but life just got in the way this year. Better to make time when we can really take our time with them.

Blowing out his candles.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tracey's Back

Tracey Thorn - It's All True

Monday, March 19, 2007

Any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

Life intrudes.

Last year we celebrated Calvin's fifth just before leaving for London. In fact, our calendar was arranged around it, that's when my hiatus began and we had a flight on Tuesday as opposed to a nicely rounded Sunday or Monday. The year before we had a wedding to attend in NYC, a wedding on the 20th, and so most of our rituals were performed on the 19th - going to the zoo, preparing and enjoying the feast. On the morning of the 20th we decorated the brick and went to his grave before heading to the airport.

This year it's my schedule that has things out of order. Because I am performing in one-half of a rep, the second half, the last week has been spent in a holding pattern (i.e. no rehearsal) while the other show got on its feet. Now that HAY FEVER has opened, TEMPEST rehearsals resume in earnest - starting tomorrow.

This afternoon I will prepare meatballs and whatever else I can do. Tomorrow we will perform our remembrances in the morning before my noontime call, and have a late-night feast whenever I get back, probably after 8.30. We will shake the kids a little bit to keep them awake.

Every year a ritual ... that changes.

"... and on Tuesday it is brother Calvin's birthday ..."

"Yay!" said Zelda.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I got love for you.

Okay, this is bent.

An artist named Calvin Harris has a video for his song "Acceptable in the 80s" where he does several unspeakable things to an otter.

But of course I am totally gay and this is my new favorite song ever.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


There are a number of swirling emotions in our home right now, which is normal for the second week of March. "When is it going to stop being wintertime?" Z. asks, again. She had been asking this once a day for a couple of weeks, the past few days representing a freakish respite from snow and whithering cold.

"It will stop being winter next Tuesday," I tell her, "that's the first day of spring." But I also warn her, "it will still be cold."

Seasons hold meaning to all living things, the calendar only belongs to us. And so it is with no amount of real significance to anyone except us (the personal us this time, not the all-inclusive us) that March 20 falls on a Tuesday, for the first time since 2001.

Monday was the routine check-up, Tuesday was his birthday.

Two days ago I spent the afternoon with Number 3. The Boy. The One Who Lived, and continues to do so despite own mutual attempts to smash his head to pieces (not to mention a particularly grisly dream I had the other night which I won't go into here.)

We were in the backyard, he wanted to play with the rakes, so we were scraping up all the leaves from the Magnolia which I missed last fall. We also took up a lot of dead grass.

I have lived in the same house since 1993. I only met the backyard in 2001. We cancelled the lawn service, primarily as a cost-cutting measure, but it put me back there, with a new, manual lawn-mower. Toni worked in the garden, we got a bench, I pulled weeds, it was part of the plan, whatever it took to take control of something, anything.

And though I had this hot little toddler in my hands, helping him put the ball in the basket (over and over and over again) the rich smell of rotten grass, the dust from the garage, the sun on my head, the breeze, it was all 2001, all over again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Songs for an Anxious Pregnancy

Okay, I need your help - and by "your" I am hoping for some lurkers, and not just my brother. For years (really? years?) I have been meddling with a fertility playlist in my head. A list of songs relating to pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, and so on.

Not about parenting. And not "I love my baby" songs.

And after jotting a few of these down, this is all I got:

Hit - The Sugarcubes
Eat For Two - 10,000 Maniacs
Happy Families - XTC
Apron Strings - Everything but the Girl
Sally's Pigeons - Cyndi Lauper
Birth-Day (Love Made Real) - Suzanne Vega
This Woman's Work - Kate Bush

Okay, that's without doing a lot of head-scratching. Would anyone care to contribute? I will not judge nor mock your taste in music, at least not here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Place to Turn When a Newborn Is Fated to Die
by Neela Banerjee, The New York Times 3/13/2007

"Most couples choose to have an abortion when they learn that the fetus has a fatal condition. But experts say about 20 to 40 percent of families given such diagnoses opt to carry the pregnancy to term, and an increasing number of them, like the Kilibardas, have turned to programs called perinatal hospice for help with the practical and spiritual questions that arise ..." (more)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Soon, we are six.

Just another fabulous night at home. The Spring Rep opens Saturday. I am not in the first show of the Spring Rep, HAY FEVER, which means the next week is going to be a little easy. No rehearsal until at least Thursday. Evenings at home. Z. asked last week," When are you going to stop doing shows?" I almost answered, "When I'm dead, honey." But that's a little dark, even for us.

But there were martinis for mom and dad, and a lot of play with the children. I had the ROCK MUSIC mix playing on iTunes, which includes light rock, and when Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy came on, there were two slightly tipsy thirtysomethings (if I may use that term) dancing with their progeny, and with not a little joyful irony in their steps.

Later we were taking in a video of Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day on video with the two little tadgers before putting them to bed. "How old is Peter, do you think?" I asked.

"Six," Toni said.

"Yes," I agreed. "Calvin is almost six."

"Why is Calvin almost six?" Z. asked. Everything is why right now.

"He was born almost six years ago," I said.

Yes. Sitting in what is now "the tee vee room." It's where the t.v. is, overlooking the backyard. It was Calvin's room. With the ceiling painted a metallic blue. Where we came to cry, as a ritual, day after day, one million years ago.

I was in my early-early thirties then. I am in my late thirties now. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with everything that has happened between then and now, it feels as though nothing has happened between then and now.

UK Itinerary

This June we return to the British Isles for the legendary SANDS IHT-UK Tour. Maybe we should make T-shirts.

This is the (partially) itinerary, there may be at least one more scheduled:

Carlisle - Sat 9th
London - Tues 12th
Lincoln - Thurs 14th
Birmingham - Sat 16th
Belfast - Mon 18th
Exeter - Weds 20th

I have only ever been to one of these cities. Carlisle is almost, but not quite Scotland. Lincoln is, I believe, to the east of the Midlands, Birmingham is West Midlands. Exeter is south of Wales, and Belfast is, well, Belfast.

If you are clocking this from over there, forgive my ignorance, I just got this and have only begun my research.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Anne Francis Stars In "Forbidden Planet"

This spring I am part of the repertory company for Great Lakes Theater Festival's production of THE TEMPEST, directed by Andrew May. In preparation for the performance I went to Netflix and queued up a copy of Forbidden Planet.

I think in this version, my character is the alcoholic cook, but I'm not sure.

A sci-fi classic from 1956, starring a 30 year-old Leslie Nielsen as the captain, it's exactly the kind of movie MST3K used to send up, only with a plot, interesting characters and fabulous (even by today's standards) special effects.

Yeah, it's a little like TEMPEST, if you count a creepy philologist for the sorcerer Prospero and his slutty late-twenties daughter for the 14 year-old Miranda. Robby, the Robot (check the correct punctuation!) is either Ariel or Caliban, I can't tell.

What is most thrilling is that after a long day of supervising and rehearsing, and joining my family for library time, and then Harriett's 40th birthday party, everyone came home and promptly fell asleep, leaving me to make a Manhattan, pop some popcorn, and watch this chestnut with all the lights out, on my lonesome.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chinese Orphan’s Journey to Jewish Rite of Passage
by Andy Newman, New York Times, 3/8/2007

Fu Qian, renamed Cecelia Nealon-Shapiro at 3 months, was one of the first Chinese children — most of them girls — taken in by American families after China opened its doors to international adoption in the early 1990s. Now, at 13, she is one of the first to complete the rite of passage into Jewish womanhood known as bat mitzvah ... (more)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Be the people we want our children to become.

I spend far too much time "surfing" the Internet (i.e. watching porn) and not enough time either reading or writing. I should be doing both, and so - just today - I pledged to read a half-hour every night. Some people already do this. Most don't. But, funny, there's a lot of books here, and for some reason I havn't read as many as I have desired to.

Right now I am reading Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith. It's an inspirational tome Toni picked out because she knows I am going to be leading a theater camp this summer, and thought I might need some ... inspiration.

Rafe Esquith, for those who do not know, is the famous fifth grade teacher from Los Angeles who teaches ESL students (presumably at-risk) to - among other things - perform an entire Shakespearean play by the end of the school year. He teaches a lot of other things, too, but that's the bit that gets him so much attention.

While she was at it, Toni got me the documentary about his work, The Hobart Shakespeareans, from the loal library. I like the book better. While it is exciting to see these children actually performing scenes from Hamlet, the filmmakes chose to forgo an narrator, and so left Rafe to explain everything he does to the camera. I can see why his fellow teachers at Hobart find him insufferable, no teacher should be opened up to such scrutiny. He comes off as very pleased with himself, which I don't believe is accurate nor fair. But there it is.

Also ... were the children really that exciting that Micahel York visited their class? I mean ... were they really? Also, I wanted to be introduced to Ian McKellen's lover, but as movie this produced in part by PBS, they just let him sit there anonymously and smile. Damn you, Buster Baxter, you coward, you.

The book (not his first) is much more enjoyable as not a memoir, but as a how-to manual for teaching kids - any kids. Or for that matter, raising them. I'm enjoying it a great deal.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Secret Club

Hey, weird, I'm in someone else's book.

You'll have to forgive me, I really have tried to keep a comprehensive database on everyone I've spoken with about this show, but I don't remember speaking to Ms. Seftel for her book, Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss Through the Arts. Not that she needed to speak with me, what she has gleaned from the production, she could have learned anywhere online, or through the radio drama. Still, an email would have been appreciated.

This link will take you directly to a preview page (p. 89). Notice the reference to Infertility:The Musical right below it. Both shows were at the 2004 NY Fringe.

I can use the Internet, too, however. And it wasn't long before I realized I have heard of Laura Seftel before, once, on NPR. Coping with her own miscarriage in the early 90s, she has created The Secret Club Project, "an international project featuring more than 40 artists exploring miscarriage and other pregnancy-related losses, including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, and stillbirth."

I think I'm going to get a copy of the book. I encourage you to check out their website. It's amazing the things you can discover on a boring Friday evening when you are Googling your own name.

(Pesky copyright violations ...)