Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Today's Fortune Cookie Fortune:

"The cure for grief is motion."

A palliative perhaps, but not a cure.

Cover illustration

Monday, May 28, 2007

It's all about the candy

Two years ago Toni and I took the kids (Orson was about ten days old) to the first Cleveland Heights Memorial Day parade they - or we - had ever been to. At that time I had let eleven of them pass by without attending one, which is a pity, as I live a five minute walk from Mayfield, where it goes.

My memories of Memorial Day in my hometown involve crowded sidewalks, and lots of processional cars, and, of course, the marching band. I marched in it as a Cub Scout, and later in the band, if I wasn't sitting on the sidewalk watching it go by.

I always knew what it was about, because it ended at Cahoon Memorial Cemetery and there were prayers and guns went off, and that part was solemn, and militant. I mean, it was very militant, with the scouts, and the color guards, the band, all the veterans.

Here in CH, it's not like that at all. There is a color guard to lead everything off, and the high school band plays, but they don't have dress uniforms,they wear slacks and T-shirts. And the Mayor is there and the city council. And then there's all the churches and social oragnizations who dress up or ride bikes or walk on stilts. An awful lot of them hold anti-war placards and banners. This is Cleveland Heights, after all.

But what surprised me the most, first in 2005, and then each year since, is the candy. Everyone pitches candy to the people watching the parade. We were just stunned, and so was Zelda. There was another girl on the sidewalk with us who had brought a bucket ... well, you can imagine we were prepared last year. This year, two kids, two buckets. And by the time this brief parade was over, each kid's bucket was half full. That's how much candy.

Like Halloween, and Easter, and to a large extent Christmas, to Zelda, Memorial Day is about candy. I don't have the stomach yet to explain to her what it is really about, because then I will feel compelled to tell her about war, and then this war, and I have been avoiding that until I think she can cope with it, at least, as much as the rest of us.

Just as well. I think the President thinks Memorial Day is about candy, too.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"P" as in "Pneumonia" ...

Looking back over this blog you can locate the various points where I realize I had unwittingly (as opposed to intentionally) either emulated or stolen a gag or turn of phrase for use in I HATE THIS. Here's another one.

The entire Mailing List phone thing is straight out of Nichols and May. Now Henrik will tell me he always knew that and assumed I did it on purpose. The truth is, the phone gag doesn't belong to them, it belongs to an entire generation of comedians who made hay out of the emasculating power of the phone, whether speaking to your mother, Ma Bell, or trying to figure out from your best friend exactly what you did last night ("for God's sake - don't fizz.")

In most of these bits, made famous by Bob Newhart or Shelly Berman, you only heard the man, descending further into Hell during every pause which indicated the other person speaking. Nichols and May got to share both parts, Elaine May playing either the officious operator from Hell, or the angelic corproate savior, while Mike Nichols volunteered every shred of his dignity for a dime.

Listening to that routine last night, I didn't think anything of it until I heard something like my own voice say, "Is there someone else there I can speak to?"

The hold music gag, of course, is pure Simpsons. But I always knew that.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Just another Friday morning at UH

So I'm sitting in a waiting room as a nurse goes off to find out where I am supposed to be. My appointment was scheduled for that moment, but the office I had arrived at was dark with a sign clearly reading Open - 8:30 AM.

I had called yesterday to double-check the site - it had changed twice in the last two weeks. I check "outgoing calls" on my cellphone, and hit speed-dial for the number I had used yesterday afternoon.

VOICE: Yeah?

DAVID: Yeah, I have a 7:30 appointment with Dr. Seftel for a vasectomy, can you tell me where I am supposed to be?

VOICE: (pause) This is a restaurant.

I had phoned Tommy's.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Hate This Book

That joke never gets tired.

Here's the news: SANDS has been working with me to publish a script of IHT in the UK. Hopefully, it will be available at all the tour stops next month. It's not really meant to be used as a play script. Instead, I hope it may be of some comfort to those who are coping with new grief, or trying to come to terms with the world around them, when it insists on moving on and they don't want to. That kind of thing.

These are pencil sketches of some of the illustrations that will be included - these are unfinished, by Cat let me post them, anyway. The top is the cover (which will be color) and this one is the last image.

I like how the feet are slightly exaggerated in the first, and the hands in the last.

Of course, Cat created the poster and head-toppers for the famous "Pin the Hair on Hansen" game at Dave's 35th Birthday Party.

Monday, May 21, 2007

about that site ...

So I got this domain name, see?

It's not a terribly exciting website, just a big online resume - though it does include a lot of info about the show. And I haven't updated it since last summer. The reason for this is Toni got me a beautiful new Mac to replace the G3 tower I acquired back in 98. The oldest computer I'd ever had, so much of it was obsolete I was aching for a new model.

However, once I had retired the screen and keyboard to the attic (I kept the tower networked to get all necessary files and docs from it) I realized how fricking expensive it was going to be to get new copies of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc. for the Puma (or whatever cat this OS is called.) I finally decided, as inelegant as it looks, to have two computers next to each other, the pretty one and the hideous one.

Some things are worth saving two thousand dollars in software. Besides, I've tried the new Dreamweaver. It's the same.

davidhansen.org updates - including the UK tour - can be found here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


"AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."
- Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell. Dead, but not gay.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Calvin doesn't want me to do this show anymore.

I always, always, keep the clothes with me. I never check the sweater or the green Chuck's - the original jeans, alas, went the way of all things a long time ago. They are my costume, they are what I was wearing the day my son was born.

Today, of course, I checked them - there was so much stuff to carry home, among four individuals, I just didn't think. And for the first time in my life, I have lost a bag. Sure, it may turn up, someone may have taken it by mistake - there were so many red bags on that flight that looked similar.

But this incident, coupled with the five hour delay on Thursday, and the number of other things going on in my head lately ... I mean, it makes me not a little nervous about Great Britian.

UPDATE: Found it. Someone accidentally took it to Willoughby. Nice town.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Lovely performance last night for the Consoling Parents Support Group in Louisville, KY. Our hosts have been really wonderful, among other things they brought in dinner from this great local seafood grill place before the performance, and there was childcare for the kids who were there. Z&O had the chance to play with other children for the first time in a few days.

Due to a last minute conflict, Nick couldn't join us to run slides and sound - but he did spend a lot of time in the past couple of weeks updating the entire PowerPoint program so (ta-da) Toni was able to run it herself. Her connection to the show (which she must have seen a dozen times already) made her a little nervous about it, but she exectued everything perfectly.

The performance was held in the Beargrass Christian Church - one of the best spaces I have ever worked in! They recently expanded their facilities, adding a new, state-of-the-art sanctuary. The "stage" was solid hardwood, they have two large projection screens, and automatic shades to cover the stained glass windows. The sound system was okay.

I have found I have three kinds of audiences. Theater or "Fringe" audiences (which I have not performed for in almost three years), medical professionals (nurses, midwives, doctors, etc.) and bereaved parents and the people how love them. I usually know what to expect from any of these audiences. People there for theater find it "interesting." Medical practioners, even those who are affcted by it (and most are) treat it like a learning experience - and don't laugh. And the bereaved see themselves in large parts of the story and gasp, laugh or groan in expected (or not) places.

Last night was different. I knew it was a bereavement organization. Turnout was modest, which can effect reaction. Also, I was not wearing my glasses. This messed up the second line of the show, I said it but muffed it a little, which freaked me out - until I realized I was using part of my brain to focus, to make out faces. So I relaxed, stopped trying to do that, and actually felt a strange peace and relaxation I don't normally feel performing this show, because I had nothing to go on - I could look straight at them without wondering if they were sad, terrified, or just hated me.

But they were very quiet. I think Amy did the most laughing, and - I think, I can't be sure, I couldn't see - her 13 year-old daughter. I was surprised. Maybe concerned. A little worried.

We held a talkback after, and Toni got to join me onstage, which is alwasy good - betterm really - than me doing it on my own. People always have questions for her. And there were a few. Very few. The talkback lasted maybe five minutes, there was mostly a lot of soft talking and pauses.

I had an explanation afterwards, at the reception. What I was stunned to learn was how many of the audience members were fresh in their grief. I met so many women who had lost children in the last six to eighteen months. No wonder their response was muted, they were still in this, deep in the middle of the feelings, the pain, the confusion I go over in my show. In fact, by the end of the play, Toni and I were further along than a number of those in attendance.

I am glad I get the chance, after each performance, to meet so many of the people who come to see it, I would find it very dizzying and uncomfortable to just go backstage, change and leave. I think this is why New York was so difficult. I'd do the show, change, and hit the sidwalk, and everyone would be gone, onto the next thing. Even in Minnesota there were usually a few hanging back to say something.

This has been a very good experience, the folks here have been too kind. Even the hotel's really good (big ups, Courtyard Marriott.) There's even talk of returning, and I think we'd all like that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I think I'm dumb

Sometimes my performance is part of a larger conference. Here in Louisville, it's actually a separate event which was orchestrated by Amy M. to coincide with a conference. Today there is a day-long event, Postpartum Depression and Infant Development, at Baptist Hospital. The keynote speaker was Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, and it was our desire to get to see him speak.

In brief, we succeeded, in spite of a dear lack of sleep and several wrong turns on our drive to the hospital. Wow, what an incredible man. In short, his was a plea that we basically need to change our medical establishment, our education establishment, our government and our society for the sake of children and their parents - and of course, he's right - but his talk made you believe, as if for the first time, that this is necessary, important, and possible.

Attending such events, as part of my travels presenting IHT, makes me feel how little I have actually picked up, or how few advantages I have taken, presented with the possibility of hearing such lectures, or meeting such people. Sorry, I don't mean to make it all about me, but you know, it is all about me.

I don't just mean to imply I am merely thick or feckless, it is all irritating how many times I have attempted to accomplish something, take advantage of an opportunity, and I end up getting smacked with a migraine or just miss the bus. Today I was terribly grateful, after last night's ordeal, to actually make it to the church on time.

Or the hospital. Tonight I need to make in to the church on time. And I need to decide if I do the show in street clothes with glasses, The Sweater without contacts, or The Sweater with glasses. I really do not want to do the show in The Sweater and glasses, I don't think that looks right. I have done the show in a T-shirt before, but that was because it was sweltering and not because I am a bonehead.

Schmuck, me.

Welcome to Louisville. And thank you, Continental Airlines, for making me and my family sit around Concourse D for five hours, waiting for a delayed flight from LaGuardia. What a lovely evening.

The big shock upon our descent into Kentucky was the discovery that although I have plenty of contact lenses, they are all for my right eye. It will be a very blurry show for me tomorrow.

I mean, today. This is a Heineken. Cheers!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Free Performance in Louisville, KY

Consoling Parents Support Group
In partnership with the Kentuckiana Postpartum Coalition

Parents, Family & Friends Conference
Thursday, May 10 - 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Keynote Session: Men and Women Grieve Differently

Dr. Jim England, Chaplain, Hospice and Palliative Care of Louisville
Breakout Sessions: Parents’ Panel - moving through the experience of infant/young child loss and/or postpartum depression
Family & Friends Group A - supporting people experiencing the loss of an infant or young child
Family & Friends Group B - supporting people experiencing postpartum depression

Theatrical Presentation
Friday, May 11 - 7 to 8:45 p.m.
Performance: I Hate This – A Play Without the Baby

An award-winning play written and performed internationally by David Hansen of The Cleveland Theater. Reception to follow.

Events will be held at Beargrass Christian Church
4100 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, Ky.

These events are free and open to the public. Donations welcome.

To register, call (502)629-1234. Childcare available if you register by May 7th. Call 502-896-1161 or email Jenell@beargrass.org.

Cleveland! We're Number 2.

Alas, yesterday Spencer Tunick photographed over 18,000 naked people in Mexico City, destroying the previous North American record of 2,754 set in Cleveland on June 26, 2004.

Photos of the Cleveland shoot, and my and Toni's radio diary are still available on my website. (Warning: Naked people.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Breakfast conversation

Zelda is eating Berry Burst Cheerios. Dad is drinking coffee and reading the NY Times.

ZELDA: What are you reading?
DAD: The Queen is having dinner with the President today.
ZELDA: President George Washington?
DAD: No ... George Washington was the first president, we have a different preseident today.
ZELDA: What is his name?
DAD: Today the president is George Bush.
(Long pause)
ZELDA: Most people think George Bush is stupid.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Seven dates in Great Britain

We received our itinerary the other day for the SANDS UK tour of I HATE THIS.

If you know anyone in the British Isles who would like to attend a performance, the SANDS website includes phone numbers for booking.

9 Jun: Carlisle, England @ 7 pm
12 Jun: London, England @ 2 pm
14 Jun: Lincoln, England @ 8 pm
16 Jun: Birmingham, England @ 2 pm
18 Jun: Belfast, Northern Ireland @ 7 pm
20 Jun: Exminster, England @ 7 pm
22 Jun: Plymouth, England @ 7 pm

As you might imagine, this will be one for the books. I only wish the kids were a bit older so they could remember it, I imagine Zelda will, a little. It will be quite a caravan; Kelly will be the stage manager, and will be joined by not only Toni and the kids, but Toni's mother and sister. There will be a lot of child care to go around.

With the exception of London, I have never been to any of these cities, let alone Northern Ireland. There will be lots of pictures.