***my photos of the march***

09 January
the strangest thing
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I was at a friend's birthday party doing what can only be described as shucking lobsters a couple of days ago. [And I don't know about you, but something about ripping the tail off of something just makes me not want to eat it - which is strange, since I really liked ripping the tails off.] I was at this friend's party, and I got into this discussion about the theatre we do with this guy. It was the strangest thing, this conversation.

The guy keeps asking us questions, one of which is "Which is more important, the script or the picture of the character that the artist drew?" or something like that. I'm wondering who is the artist? What the fuck? And I think he must be thinking that we have a picture of what actors should look like in our heads. Or maybe we make art from, you know, other art. Plays from Magritte or something.

But it comes to light that he's heard something about extras casting (I think) at some point, because he's talking about someone having a list of things they want, like height and mustaches and haircolor and other things I think they use to cast extras. So I try to explain to him that what we do is plays, and my partner even gets really simplistic and tries to tell him that it's like a movie, but the people are right there.

And then he asks where our building is (we don't have one) and is dumbfounded that we don't have a building. It's like he's switched from not having the vaguest idea of what theatre is to being convinced that we must be some sort of huge regional theatre. He just won't get that we don't have a building.

But this. This is the absolute strangest. He's asking how we get people to do stuff and do we have something written up and then he wants to know, if we don't have the list of physical traits or the script doesn't has one, then how do we cast people and we say we ask them to move around and speak and see how creative they are and whether they seem like they could learn and work well with us and he. Completely. Freaks. Out. About how it's like we're judging, we're being like God or something, and that isn't right. Because, apparently, casting extras is okay, but holding an experimental theatre audition is an affront to nature.

I have never in my life had such a hard time explaining to someone what theatre was. I mean, I'm still not sure he got the thing about movies but real people right there with the audience. I'm not at all sure. He looked either blank or really angry the whole time. I don't know if he's drug-addled, or a bit nuts, or just functions in a really, really different way.

Strangest thing.

It made me think. How many preconceptions people have about what things are and aren't, and how much these things get in way of seeing anything. Most of us don't actually take it to his extreme of seriously-are-you-all-there-or-what, but we all do it.

 

08 December
angels apparently don't translate to television
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While the Angels in America television movie last night pretty much sucked, I still found myself watching it.

I think this is all about the thousand other things besides the story which the story represents to me. I kept wishing to see those things. I missed them. But the play had been reduced to only its story, which is tender and compelling, but ultimately more or less on a level with Degrassi Junior High, a fact made all the more clear by the straight-to-television production values.

Emotionally, I still feel so fondly towards the material, the characters, and the past-tense self they represent. Even in a small-screen movie, I like them.

Artistically, I think, it has two problems.

One. The very theatricality of Tony Kushner as opposed to, say, nearly any other playwright. It was an honorable choice to produce the play virtually editless, but it was the wrong choice for television. Squeezed into that tiny screen, the language starts to feel bizarre, the surreality of, say, most of Prior's experiences, becomes just so many banal special effects when the crazy shit is there on screen to see. It just felt - shrunken. Shrunken from the size of the world and your imagination to the size of an itty bitty box.

Two. Mike Nichols. He's directed an array of excellent, intimate films. But that's just the problem - intimacy. If it weren't bad enough that the play had been shrunken for television, it's now an emotional, heartfelt drama. It's Degrassi, I tell you, Degrassi! [Which, by the way, I was very fond of - it's just not transcendent in any way; it's emotional entertainment, little more.] It is not the same thing to translate Angels to the stage as it was to translate Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Not to understand that is to fail to understand theatre. While Mike is a smart guy who makes a good living on his understanding of acting (which I don't), I don't think he understands theatre in the larger sense.

Despite my broad, sweeping criticisms, I did like the movie and do think the movie has some value - certainly as a tender little story and perhaps as a continuance of the message of cross-species political and social tolerance (something HBO is really becoming expert at) - and I will be recording it to pass on to friends. Just, keep in mind, if you have any familiarity with Kushner, or with Angels that was, you may well be sorely disappointed.

 

03 November
a feminine mode of creating
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How do you create?

By virtue of the fact that you blog, you are a writer of sorts. So, how do you experience creativity? Does it come in fits and starts? Is it sometimes overwhelmed by lifely concerns? Do you make time for it? Is it a steady flow or a trickle?

Dawn is talking about housekeeping and writing as a renaissance woman, and proposes the idea that a woman must look to other women as a model for creative work. She has a point. Historically, we assume a man has the capability to drop it all to some extent, while a woman has a thousand responsibilities to the people she supports. Given this model, it makes sense that there might be a "masculine" mode of creation (driving to completion) versus a "feminine" version (circling back around to work, through a series of other attention-drawers). Not that these modes are limited to women or men - just, one is more indicative of the feminine principle, and one of the masculine; people of both genders may express either mode.

Which is what I find to be true for myself. There are times when I am intensely prolific (c.f. the day I designed a flyer and updated my theatre company's website with a new design, then started collaging and made a painting, then went to rehearsal) and times when I squeeze in my creative work a moment at a time (c.f. my latest effort to redesign this site, which has been going on intermittently for two months). Both have value - one is more immediately productive, and one gives you time to consider options.

I think that we as a culture tend to presume all artists create in this "masculine" mode, maybe because most of our ideas of artists are based on men who very much worked the drop-it-all-and-create vibe, and we also seem to think that seriousness means intense, constant dedication to work. Well, seriousness is intense, but that doesn't necessitate constant, direct work (which is another assumption of legitimate artistry). One can, in short, be an artist in one's spare time.

 

29 October
possible redesign
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I have not touched - not even tweaked - the design of this site in at least six months. Do I get a present? [For resisting the urge to wholly rethink my site for half a year, that is.]

Several new design ideas have sprung up in the meantime, they just haven't been implemented.

But this one's okay, at least I think it is: very very brown possible new splash page. Thoughts? I mean, aside from the fact that the images are much too large and slow-loading. Some of you may recognize the pomegranate image as one I used in an old design for my former diary.

I have another version I'm working on, completely different. I might let you see that, too.

 

10 September
by george, i think he's got it
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I've been saying for a very, very long time that I don't have much truck with reality in art. But my partner sees a slightly different story. His schtick has always been that one might do something abstract and expressive in the context of art (specifically theatre, of course), but that one must truly do the thing in question on the stage or page.

Really do it, he says, even if it's something as absurd as ripping a hole in the space-time continuum with your magic box (no, seriously, he actually says something like that).

I struggle with this idea a lot. Particularly since I don't enjoy the directing thing and he doesn't enjoy the acting thing and so mostly I have to attempt to do things his way to an extent.

It had never occurred to me that his problem might just be too much indoctrination in art that happens inside. Which is absurd. I mean, whatever sort of artist you may be, you are inherently presentational. To make art is to have an audience. Whatever "internal reality" or "motivation" (words we don't talk about a lot, but are influenced by - they're so present in the theatre world) you may be feeling, it's the outside of your work that the audience sees. What you Mean or Do (in the sense that I am "doing" opening a space-time portal on stage, for instance) matters to you, but not to them.

Not that we're thinking like the average theatre doer here in the first place, bu.

But. Over the past few months, he's come to see things differently. To recognize that the reality of theatre is in the fact that I, the actor, am there with you, the audience. You can't escape that reality. Not without mind-alteration of some form. And so creating reality internally as we do, or externally reproducing images of fake reality as most theatre and film does, is unnecessary. At least, secondary to the real reality of the actor, the floor, and the sky.

I am looking very much forward to a theatre in which my expressionistic tendencies can run free. I like to dance sometimes without doing anything.

 

in the "paper"
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I envy entertainment writers and marketing folk their ability to make anything sound mildly clever and amusing.

Even me!

That's right, we're in the [online equivalent of a] local paper this week. Which is, by the way, a big part of why I haven't been posting much. Not being in the paper, but the why behind it.

The company (all two of us) has been busy. And I've been busy at work. Thankless hours of toil and all that.

But look at that. We're in the paper.

And. Um, that poster looked a lot less juvenile and goth on the printed page. I swear.

 

30 July
designing for friends
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When I design for friends, so much of what I put into the design is really them, I feel silly taking any sort of credit.

That said, The artist formerly known as Revo and maybe now known as Subv has a new design. Which I made. And she.

Well, she didn't exactly dictate (I'm a pissy bastard who won't work like that, and she's not a blognazi). But it's really all about her. In a way, she sat for it.

I feel like a baby Dar Williams singing about her babysitter.
The play's called The Unicorn
and my babysitter is the unicorn
so that means the star is ... my babysitter.
Thank You.

Yes. Designing for people you really like is both immensely easy (thousands of ideas flood your head, or the one truly right one springs fully formed) and immensely hard (they won't tell you it's not perfect, and you want only for it to be perfect, no matter how many times you have to try).

Almost all my design work lately has been like that. I'm supposed to be on hiatus, but I can't resist the brainy kid impulse to help a friend out fixing their email, or setting up a site.

 

28 July
shakespeare is ass
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We've started rehearsals for another play. I think I may have mentioned some time back that we were writing - or really cobbling - this thing vaguely based on Hamlet.

I hate Hamlet. And the process of reading through the entire play aloud didn't unconvince me.

It comes back to something I've said before and will probably say several times in the future. Recognizing Shakespeare as the single truly brilliant writer of theatre ever is a mistake. It's a matter of publicity. Someone, some time ago, decided that Shakespeare was important. It caught on, and once caught on became embedded in our educational system. At least in English-speaking countries.

This isn't an indication of Shakespeare's brilliance, but of the work's normalcy.

I will say that a complete, thorough reading of any Shakespeare play does reveal several clever ways of working with theatrical conventions of the day. Meaning - not knowing otherwise, you'd have no idea that things like soliloquys were devices for scenic shifts. Clever, indeed.

Because Shakespeare is so widely known worldwide, the work has great potential for universality in performance. Everyone knows Shakespeare (or so we think - turns out our cast doesn't), so using it as a vehicle for something different still resonates as familiar.

But, like too much else, modern mainstream theatre embraces this cultural yearning for normalcy. Even with artists who aren't boring, it happens. It trends towards the middle, and so trends towards repetition. In the case of Shakespeare, this becomes hundreds of misguided attempts to recreate The Globe around the world. [Heh. Globe. Around the world. Heh. Oh, nevermind.]

Normal and repetitious is not what art is made of.

This is why Shakespeare, despite protestations to the contrary, is ass.

[I've been waiting to make this argument before the world since I was twelve. Thus the juvenile "ass".]

 

18 April
child artists
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Some people who teach art(s) to children don't seem to care much for either, despite their attitude of caring for both.

It's entirely too common for teachers of theatre, for instance, to assume that young people's theatre has to educate them or address Their Issues. If you've ever been a student in a "average" kid's theatre class, you know that anyone who wants you to talk about Your Issues has already defined them for you. And while any truly good theatre is educational in a certain sense (even bad theatre is education by experience), kids get enough didacticism in the classroom.

Part of this problem, of course, is the need to legitimize arts education. In Virginia, that means art courses that follow our SOL's (Standards of Learning, which most teachers rightly dislike) and occasionally, arts "enrichment" activities like musical comedies featuring the SOL's. No, I am not kidding.

But I'm more concerned with pure arts education that with the version of art taught in most public school settings - at the moment, at least. The root problem is this notion of art as culture, the idea that culture is beyond people and children can't handle the culture.

This idea leads arts teachers to teach down to their kids. I've seen some very talented, challenging artists completely fail to challenge kids in a learning environment, not because they lacked teaching skills, but because their curricula were based on the false assumption that kids need a children's version of art. Arts teachers who come from a background of teaching and dabble in an art tend to apply a similar philosophy, adding to this dumbed-down art a sense of curriculum; the art classes they teach are the same regardless of their changing audience from year to year.

Children can handle real art. Five year olds won't produce Monet or Broadway, but they can be challenged at an appropriate level to create work that is, on some level, better. And seventeen year olds do not need to be producing work that only speaks to Their Issues [the ones we tell them they have] about high school, cars and graduation; they're people, not simply high school students.

The level to which this art for you and your gerbil concept exists varies, of course, from teacher to teacher and program to program. It seems least common in voice teaching, most common in theatre for youth.

Last weekend I watched a presentation of work by kids ranging in age from 5 to 18. They danced. They sang. They made julienned fries. Actually, they did short scenes, but in most cases, the fries would have been more compelling. The singing was universally quite good, with a clear progression in quality from youngest to oldest students. The dance and theatre were problematic.

The dance progressed in complexity slightly from group to group. The littlest kids danced mostly by forming shapes and standing up/sitting down. It was the right level of work for them. Then we had the 7-8 year olds, who started to get more fluid and expressive and had, you know, actual dance moves [my partner taught them, so I may be biased]. And then you get to the kids at various levels, aged 9-18. They progressed through the program by age, so you'd expect the older, more trained, kids to be more expressive, more precise, more - something. Well, they smiled more. Their dance moves were a tad more complicated. But it remained kids' dance, even for the oldest.

The theatre was appalling. Not only because it's the art I know best. But because the nature of the scene work didn't change with increased age and training. Actually, in a way it downgraded. My partner's kids used a combination of poetry and experimental theatre text (remember, they're at most eight). The older kids did folktales. And something really embarassing about cars and younger siblings (remember, some of these kids are seventeen, as are some of you, readers). They did the exact same type [hokey] of work, with the exact same level of expression [also hokey], after years of training as they did at age nine.

This wasn't the kids' fault. They don't have much involvement in choosing the scenes they'll perform, or even how these will work. So I blame the program, and the teachers (who have a lot of say in what they teach). I presume they approach teaching all ages and types of kids with the same method. As far as theatre is concerned, this method appears to be reminding kids to "smile" and "project" and relying on their natural ebullience and personalities to do the rest. I presume the argument in favor of this is something like "we're training them to be better public speakers through acting" or "it's more fun for them; we know what's fun for kids". Maybe the kids are okay with that, but I submit that they accept this idea of theatre only because they haven't been exposed to something better.

I have another bias, of course, which is that I went to a high school populated by some highly talented people. So I feel like I know what seventeen year olds can do. And I'll tell you - it's amazing. I wasn't expecting amazing from these kids last weekend. They train a couple hours a week, not a couple hours a day. This is likely one of many things they do. What I did expect was for their teachers to gradually increase the challenge level over time and, given their teachers' collective experience, to expose these kids to real dance, real theatre. At least a little.

And I didn't see that.

Kids, like adults, benefit from arts training that gives them an opportunity to explore & then gives them more and more to explore as they progress. This doesn't seem that difficult to offer. I wonder why it's not obvious to more people who teach arts?

 

10 April
postmarked
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Eris has started up a letter-writing project that I'm a little too chicken to join: postmarked (lovely design, by the way).

See, I'd like to send eris a letter, but I respect her design skills enough that I feel the letter would have to be artistic, Griffin & Sabine-type stuff. And I'm not sure I'm cool enough for that.

I should know better, of course. A small handful of you, gentle fabulous readers, already know that I'm capable of sending multipage illuminated notes whose very envelopes are little ironic works of art. [I actually have a drawer filled with bits of letters and cards people sent me over years, including a favorite, labeled to "Medea" with the return address of "her children". You know who you are. Worse, you know I have things you wrote in high school. Or middle school. I'm not really pathetic, just after awhile things become five or ten years old, and then their value grows. Like wine.]

So, basically, I should shut up and write a letter already.

 

07 April
how to be an artist
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Mal posted this great introduction to the idea of "how to be an artist". Mal talks a lot about art and art school and is generally fabulously clever, so it should come as no surprise that her comments about making art are spot-on.

I did, however, find it a little surprising that her advice for visual artists is not dissimilar to what I'd give actors. Give yourself permission to suck.

But I'd add to that. I'd say, give yourself permission to suck and then refuse to suck.

Actors, more than any other artists, seem to keep their technique in a black box. It's difficult for most actors to demystify their craft for others, because it's actually mystical to them. Some very excellent actors seem to have no idea how they do it. As a result of this black box quality, a lot of new actors tend to fall into two groups; they either don't work at all and await brilliance (which, hey, works on television) or they struggle and cripple themselves with their notions of sucking and phrases like "she's really in her head".

No one is in their own head.

I think I've finally succeeded managed to become an alright, and I did it by constantly insisting that I wasn't going to suck. By which I mean - I'm going to have to fuck up occasionally, but I will endow those fuck ups with so much energy that they will be, in a way, brilliant. Suck brilliantly! This is my advice (which is really not much different from Mal's).

So how does one suck brilliantly? Since an actor's product is ultimately the body in time, pushing the boundaries of either gives you a product that's at least interesting, if nothing else. You could say something similar for any art - what we find so compelling about art is the way it expands human experience, so stretching your media is a way to at least reach towards that. To ensure that even a failure shines a little.

 

17 January
pursuit
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I felt a need to answer, from an artistic perspective, a post I happened to run across about the needlessness of perfection. I disagree with the notion of perfection as focused on the "little things"; I think that's a small definiton of perfection.

That small definition of perfect relates to what I find so bad about so much theatre. Realistic theatre is often, in fact, so much about the small details of things (relationships, particularly) that failing in any detail means complete failure. If your play is an old man and his daughter on a park bench having a normal conversation while the actors move like normal people, the minutiae of their relationship had better be not only perfect but compellingly so if your goal is for me not to be snoring.

Ah, that was a complete sidebar. I hate the sort of theatre that is actually about realistic detail.

What I mean to say is that the effort of perfection is a key element of artistic endeavor. Art is shallow without it. But the artist's definition of perfect is not as simple as "the little things". It's the totality of the thing, the art product. The great finality of your effort.

It's pursuit. It's struggle and effort. When an artist strives for perfection (which is, most likely, unattainable), her work (the idea) keeps moving after the final product. Great art gives you the feeling, as the audience, that it's still moving forward as you watch it. Getting that impression from a static medium is astounding; getting it from theatre or dance is what gives those arts transformative power.

In seeing the pursuit, you see the work of the thing. You see the art behind art.

I tend to generalize this to life. Dedication to the effort is what makes it worthwhile. Like the idea of flow - changing yourself by pushing at the limits. It's hokey, but it's still valid. And that's the larger definition of perfect.

[Link from Provenance Unknown via Nonsense Verse via Blogsisters. All highly recommended.]

 

13 January
education and elitism
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Last night on Inside the Actor's Studio, Kathy Bates rather randomly got all angry about congressfolk calling PBS elitist.

I really like Kathy Bates. I mean, her movies are mostly those "real emotion" chick flicks that I mostly hate, but I just plain like her. She's neat.

Still. I think PBS is elitist. Public broadcasting and public radio depend so greatly on their audiences that they have to cater to the Maslovian idea of art as a privilege of the privileged (or at least, the comfortable).

It's like regional theatre, which is primarily supported by donors and season ticket holders - not by the ticket-buying public. So, regional theaters treat the art they produce as part of an event, the discriminating palate's dinner and a movie. This is why regional theatres do so well in restaurant districts (or, better yet, by having a stylish and expensive restaurant on the premises). Regional theaters sell what they can.

It sounds like treason against art, but it's just how things are. They do what they can to stay afloat another day. They play A Tuna Christmas in hopes that it'll make enough money to fund something more real. And sometimes, they lose sight of real in endless loops of Tuna Christmases, because real is so far away and it costs so much just to make it through a season.

I didn't understand this when I worked at a regional theater. Now I do, and it breaks my heart.

Public broadcasting networks are in the same situation. They must sell their product as part of a rarefied experience in order to make it seem worthwhile, to make donating seem worthwhile. I find this even sadder than the current regional theatre situation in this country - because PBS isn't selling entertainment masked as High Art; PBS sells education. And in selling it thus, subtly sends the message that eduction is only for the comfortable, the wealthy.

Then again, I'm not sure anyone actually benefits from the education public broadcasting can offer. Not in its current state, at least. Its earlier, more heavily state-sponsored (in the era of Reagan and Bush The First, no less) incarnation was quite another animal.

And television and radio are government subsidized. Subsidized, but not for educational purposes. They're subsidized in the form of FCC controls, meaning that there can be no such thing as true independent television or radio. You can't buy a camera and decide you'd like to produce guerilla television, except in the narrow confines of the local public access station.

All of this, to me, points to a need for more state-sponsored art and education. Of course, it will never happen in an America so fixated on independence. But it sure seems to work well for all the American experimental theatre artists who took real theatre to France.

 

01 December
seven. ten.
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There's a concept in Noh theatre that can be reduced to "inside seven, outside ten" and "inside ten, outside seven" (to really generally paraphrase Noh-treatise-writer Zeami).


The idea Zeami talks about is that an experienced Noh performer's external expression will be subtle, as if he felt ten (or, if he were in Spinal Tap, eleven) but expressed seven. By contrast, the young performer who hasn't established the internal performance should compensate by expressing externally more than he feels. It's not quite as as simple as that, of course; Zeami takes hundreds more words of conviction and detail to say this.


What is important to me, though, is not merely the message to the actor, but the application of this concept to art in general. I've been thinking about it in relation to graphic design, particularly design for the web, where the design doesn't stand by itself.


Good design follows and helps shape the function and content of a site (form follows function, yes, but function can also follow form). So, for a site about words and content, good graphics will subtly express the content - will underline a theme. But - it doesn't necessarily follow that the elaborate, page-filling images created by some [typically quite young, which is also Zeami-appropriate] designers are bad design. Rather, in those cases, the images are speaking the themes of their sites when the content isn't there.

 

30 July
craft
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I tend to use Craft in that big, pretentious theatrical way. I'm down with Craft. I'm also fine with The Crafts, in a pagan arts sort of way.


But this weekend (amidst sniffles and shivers) I started a new craft in the common sense of the word. As in, arts and. I've started making my own jewelry.


Of course, jewelry making looks fun, but bead stringing is desperately tedious. And all-bead jewelry doesn't really work with my personal retro sensibility [something like "Nothing between 1960 and 1991!"]. In fact, most jewelry you can make ends up looking very silly indeed. I still fancy that mine is quite pretty, as it's heavily inspired by Superhero Designs.


Anyhow, I've been making necklaces upon necklaces. Too many, even. It's one of the few things I've been able to do with this sickness that doesn't hurt my eyes. If you're a hand-craft kind of a girl (or guy, though I'm pretty sure the boys won't be interested in my baubles) and feel like trading something handmade of your own, let me know. I love getting mail.

 

30 April
one of those
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I'm having one of those days that just make your eyes glaze over at the end.


All catastrophes have so far been avoided. At least that is sure. [So far.]


Rehearsal is progressing. Other things are progressing. I'm feeling driven and assertive and tired.

 

26 April
friday five (avocations)
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I've replaced the original Friday Five word of the day (hobby) with another word I find less icky sounding. In case anyone was wondering.


1. What are your avocations?

Theatre. Rabble-rousing. Throwing lavish if poorly attended parties. Web design. Bad photography (not to be confused with bat photography) [I hope someone gets my pathetic Mac Wellman joke. If you get it, you'll win something of some sort.].


2. Do you collect anything? If so, what?

No. When I was a kid, I collected porcelain dolls and glass animals (itty bitty painted animal figurines). But I don't collect anything now.


3. Is there an avocation you're interested in, but just don't have the time/money to do?

Music. Painting. These are things I know how to do but rarely have time for. I play the harp (badly) and would like to get back in practice at least enough that I can remember how to tune the blasted thing. But there are too many other, more important, things to be done. My harp playing has little chance of improving the world.


4. Have you ever turned an avocation into a moneymaking opportunity?

You could call the web design thing moneymaking, I suppose. Though it costs me much more in time than I ever make from it, I've at least used it to generate money for good causes.


5. Besides web-related stuff, what clubs do you belong to?

Do people still belong to clubs? Really? I had no idea. I belong to the Green Party and the Project Management Institute. They're not exactly clubs, though.

 

15 April
art fights?
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I think I'm going to be ill.


Maybe I'm overreacting, but this "art fights back" site makes me physically ill. I'm not kidding about that. It's not a hyperbole, even. I think it's that I expected something much different than it is.

but wait! there's more


 

11 April
you go, girl!
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This is a bit belated, but I just have to say:


SUZAN-LORI PARKS WON A PULITZER!


Not only is she the first black woman to win the drama prize [hey, where's Adrienne Kennedy's Pulitzer? I bet SLP wants to know as much as I do], but it's a great play. All of her plays are great plays. White folk that we are, my itty theatre company has nevertheless done a couple of SLP's plays.


They're just damn fine plays, they are.

 

01 April
t s eliot
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Happy National Call Someone, Say "T S Eliot" and Hang Up Day!


Amuse your friends and confound your enemies by calling them to say "T S Eliot" today. Trust me, it's as fun as a barrel of monkeys.


Which brings up an important question: Is a barrel of monkeys fun? Justhow fun?

 

21 March
inspiration returns
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F-Word.org is up at last! Zaedryn is my queen.


Another queen: Judy's little girl critter. I know, I fear children, but I love when parents are good and smart. Love it so much that I think you, reader, need to go love it, too.

 

and just to show they're behind the times...
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CNN does a brief feature on Uncle Tupelo. Relax, they're not back together or anything. It's just an article about their 89/93 album.


At least they called the band the "Fathers of Alt Country." That makes the article worth reading.

 

14 March
blog[things that aren't made of skin]
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Eris just reminded everyone (being the participants on inez's design discussion board) that BlogSkins is open.


Ick. What a horrid name for something! As if I'd want to put my blog in a sack made of skin. Ick. But, if you can get past the unfortunate name someone gave templates/designs/etc ages ago (or just edit it out in your head), it's a fabulous site for people using Blogger. It got me off my ass to convert a few of the likely candidates from my diary templates to blog format. Can you spot them in the Blog[edited]s list?


Of course, the rest of us, non-Blogger-users that we are, just have to make our own templates. Unless a certain other Windows-loving remote-posting blog tool started offering a similar service.


Not that this impacts my greymatter-using self, anyhow, but I would at least make templates for that certain other blog tool if someone built a convenient template-posting system.


I'm just saying.


Speaking of which (er, or not), will someone other that people who develop blog-publishing tools please post some news at Blog Control? It's getting awfully boring over there; I can't find anything to make snarky comments about.

 

06 March
marlowe was always more intriguing
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We all know I don't always pay enough attention, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I got to Salon's bit on the new movie "Much Ado About Something" a couple of days late. People react so strongly to ideas that Shakespeare might not be what they think he was.


Honestly, who cares? I suppose you have to care if you insist on thinking of Shakespeare as the greatest writer ever, but was he (or were they)? Most of the case for Shakespeare-as-uber-writer seems built on his use of language, which assumes the language used in those plays/sonnets is somehow superior. What makes that language better than, say, Susan-Lori Parks' organic-sounding text?


I won't deny that the plays are well-crafted, but a nicely crafted plot is hardly considered enough for a modern writer. Look at Stephen King, master of the well-crafted plot, considered little more than a pulp novelist. Is he misclassed? Perhaps.


Point being. Shakespeare is only the best because Shakespeare is assumed to be the best, and that assumption proliferates, passed from teacher to student until Shakespeare becomes the totem of ivory-tower academia. And the rest of us, outside the towers, just assume that what we're told is true. At least in America, where we're very good at that (honestly, who can spare the time for an opinion on everything?).


I'm intrigued by the film, of course, just as I've been intrigued by Marley-the-character (really, who isn't?). Whether Marlowe was Shakespeare or no, he was and interesting and mysterious character, and that makes for entertaining literary history. There's more about the movie in the links, following the review, here.


But. For the record. I'm not terribly fond of Marlowe's plays, either.

 

01 February
harold's oesophagus.
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How sad. Harold Pinter is sick. I love Pinter. He's so cute. And, you know, excellent playwright, etc. One of my favorites.


I have to say, though. As sad as the news is, my American eye was somewhat distracted by the older spelling of "esophagus" (with an o) throughout the article. I hope he gets better and the British start using the short spelling.

 

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