Friday, May 27, 2011

Attention Artists: Stop Trying

Art has already reached its pinnacle.

That is all.

("black shirt boogie" by The Razzah. Via.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now He Only Eats Guitars

So it turns out that rob got raptured after all and was replaced by a robot assassin. WARNING: If you see "rob" you should know that it is really a robot assassin and you should do what it says or it will robot assassin your ass. Also this is rob's last post and it is not the robot assassin saying this, it is your friend rob. He also says that robot assassins drink beer and eat cake so you should have plenty on hand.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In Which My Behavior Is Used as an Object Lesson

...and for once, in a good way.

What's more, pal Beth even draws what could be a very illuminating thought experiment from the incident, whereas the whole of my lesson would be:

a) Go to Cafe du Monde at approximately 4:20 am on a weeknight.
b) Wait as long as you have to.

Which is why she's a professional counselor, and why I'm overweight.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wesley Stace, Considered as a Novelist

A couple days ago, I finished Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer -- an excellent novel set in England largely in the 1920s, in which on the first page we learn that an up-and-coming composer killed his wife, her lover and himself the night before his opera was set to open -- and then we look back as to why it happened. It's written by Wesley Stace, who is better known as the singer John Wesley Harding, and it's very assured and well-written: We keep returning to certain events with new knowledge, learning more and more of what actually happened. 

It's his third novel, and I'll be seeking out his others. Stace gave a reading at our local bookstore a couple months ago, and he performed the folk song, "Little Musgrave," that's at the heart of the novel (and the opera) -- it was really a magic moment. I found the song later on iTunes, on one of his live albums, and have been listening to it a lot.

Both the song and the novel are worth seeking out. In fact, here's Stace singing "Little Musgrave" on Sound Check.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Navy Pier

Monologues are difficult to pull off. In most respects, they’re the most intimate form of theater: The character is directly addressing the audience, positioning each audience member as confidante. And yet so much of acting is reacting, and monologues deny actors access to that essential tool—or at least, they don’t necessarily make the audience privy to what’s being reacted to.

InProximity Theatre Company’s production of John Corwin’s Navy Pier takes a different approach, and the results are incredibly engaging.

There’s Martin and Kurt, two friends at the University of Chicago who as undergrads dream of being writers, and Iris and Liv, the women in their lives. Director Bryn Boice’s staging keeps the four actors in four nondescript chairs, seated right next to each other. Yet James J. Fenton’s set separates them from each other, visually framing them with poles between each chair. Each addresses the audience only, but the characters interrupt each other, providing their own dialogue when called for in each other’s stories. The effect is such that the audience is occasionally pulled out of its role of witness to serve as participant — or rather, both participants at once. It’s the intimacy of monologue without the loss of information.

Best to not spoil too much. The story begins casually, allowing us to get a sense of each character. It’s at once clear that red-eyed Martin is barely keeping it together, while Iris seems to be putting on a brave face: about what, we’re not quite sure. Liv has a melancholy determination about her, and Kurt is….well, curt. This is a story he clearly doesn’t want to be telling.

L to R: Jolie Curtsinger as Iris, Laurie Schafer as Liv, Josh
Clayton as Martin, and Michael Poignand as Kurt.
Photo by Lisa Soverino.
Josh Clayton brings a tender fragility to the role of Martin; he’s so insecure in his talent as a writer that he can only bring himself to defend it by proxy, insisting he’s as good at air-hockey as his more successful friend Kurt. Michael Poignand’s smug Kurt needs no such bank-shots, we think – and even when he momentarily removes his assured façade, he offers no apologies for his actions. (In what might be some sort of record, Poignand deftly establishes Kurt as a jackass in a single word.) Jolie Curtsinger and Laurie Schaefer bring artist Iris and historian Liv admirably to life as they react differently to the emotional abandonment by the men. (Indeed, many of the characters face or create parallel situations throughout the play; the different ways each reacts is revelatory.)

Each of the four creates a well-realized character in the vacuum of their own space, but it’s in context of their interactions that the ensemble truly shines. Lisa Soverino’s lighting and Amy Altadonna’s sound adds to the effect, subtly showing the passage of time and lending further weight to the tale.

There’s none of the stop-start rhythm of a classic series of monologues here. Instead, as betrayal is layered onto betrayal, the 90-minute one-act blazes along, and by the climax is paced like a thriller, with simultaneous action taking place in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Compelling throughout, by the end Navy Pier barrels toward its conclusion, sweeping the audience along in its wake.

Navy Pier continues through May 22, 2011, at Theatre Row’s Studio Theatre in New York, with performances Wed – Sat at 8pm and Sat and Sun at 2pm. Tickets are $18; visit or call the box office at 800-432-7250.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


‎246 pages. Nearly 113,000 words.

My first draft didn't go where I was expecting... but it certainly got somewhere. And for a book about the unusual things one might write when asleep, it's only appropriate that I approached this last chapter in a dreamlike state of near-exhaustion, the warmth of my laptop bringing me in and out of consciousness.

Next step: Now that I know what it is, I have to make what it is better.