Friday, October 30, 2009

Costumes for the Holiday

Every year, I am surprised by how our nation, while normally not so publicly religious, really gets into tomorrow’s holiday – with costumes, decorations and rituals.

I of course am referring to Reformation Day, the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the cathedral door.

So many cute Reformation Day traditions.

Like kids knocking on doors (reminiscent of the knocking made by Luther’s hammer), requesting mock indulgences (candy) for good behavior (not “tricking”).

Or pumpkin carving – an expression of the need to “clean out” the old ways while maintaining the structure of the religion.

Even our Starbucks, which doesn’t seem to do much for Easter, is all dressed up for the church this time of year.

I have to admit, I don’t always understand what some of the costumes I see have to do with Luther.

Some are obvious. Like vampires, mimicking the nature of eternal life through the Blood.

Or ghosts, clearly meant to reflect the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

Or the pro-Catholic costumes, such as a Frankenstein I saw (I assume to show the monstrous consequence if all of the reforms were incorporated into the body willy-nilly); and a Jekyll/Hyde costume (commenting on the fractious nature of the church with all the splitting going on).


But I still don’t get what the sexy pirate costume has to do with reformation.

A little help here?

(Hold on, I’m being informed that there is another holiday on the same day… Oh, Halloween. Right. That makes a lot more sense.)

Never mind.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Documentary Style Acting Class

Every once in a while, an acting instruction technique rises up that revolutionizes the theatrical world.





And now Betty and D.D.'s School of Acting Arts.

I think what caught my eye is their first tbd class to hit on-line: documentary style acting. I can't recall ever seeing any other teacher try to tackle that art form.

Here's the class -- I found it captivating. Well, maybe it's 'cuz I think the woman sitting center front in the class is hot. (Don't tell my wife.)

For more, check out the website for School of the Acting Arts.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm Gonna Let It Shine

I'm in a good mood right now.

I just had lunch with a guy I went to college with. I've seen him once in the past twenty five years before today.

He was a senior when I was a freshman -- and he was my idol. Unbeknownst to him, his influence on me played a large part in the choices I made then that have led to the life I have now.

And we got to hang out, to catch up, to rejoice in each others lives. And I got to confess to him how much our brief interaction oh so many years ago has resonated through to today.

Add to that -- I just archived an Errol Flynn script from 1936; and now have an early draft of PRINCESS BRIDE at my side. And I get paid to look at stuff like this!

So I'm in a good mood.

The dust of old scripts has flared my allergies -- I don't care. I'm in a good mood.

Just skimmed the headlines of the day -- don't care. I'm in a good mood.

Found out a passel of my friends are sick (tis the season) -- and I do care. Really, I do.

But I'm still in a good mood.

So I share with you a little happy video. Ignore that it is a commercial. Just enjoy the light.

Just my thoughts,


PS Oh, yeah, what started the good mood was this post by friend Jeff. Yeah, that will start a good mood going.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fire Next Door

I used to be the Managing Director of Taproot Theatre in Seattle. Cath and I lived on the same block as the theater (our bedroom was literally closer to the theater than the staff parking was).

Part of my job included being the first person the alarm company called when an alarm went off -- which made sense, as I could respond in my pjs and lose less sleep than other staff members.

Once we got called because a spider crawled in front of the motion detector.

A couple of times for no discernible reason (theory is that someone may have tried to get in the front doors, gave up but shook them enough to trigger an alarm).

Most exciting time was for a false fire alarm, but the fire department responded, and I raced through the building unlocking doors before the fire fighters would get to them so they wouldn't have to break them down.

Never got a call as exciting as the one Mark Lund got for Taproot this morning around 3:30 am.

That was for this:

(photo, as those below, taken from, who have great on-going coverage on this story)

Taproot owns the building next to its theater, which comprises (oops, comprised) of three restaurants and a coffee shop. The flames are coming from one of the restaurants.

That building is completely gutted now.

Taproot was not touched by the fire (the firewall between the theater and the restaurants worked). However, the efforts to save the theater have left it in shambles. Ceiling tiles were seen cascading down their main stairs; holes were punched through the ceiling and walls to insure the fire did not spread; the basement is being pumped as I write this. Who knows how much the smoke damaged the building.

The quick and thorough response of the fire department saved the theater as well as the building on the other side (the one that I use to call home). Residents were all safely evacuated, and even the kitties in the adoption center on the block were brought to safety.

Taproot has secured space at the Seattle's Children's theater to finish their sold out run of ENCHANTED APRIL. They will lose just tonight's performance -- a miracle in itself that another venue could be secured so quickly.

Wish I was up there now; feeling helpless this far south. Just yesterday, Cath booked a December trip that would include a Seattle stay-over; the first one in years.

Feel like I should say something else right here; but it hasn't come yet. Know what I mean?

Prayers to the Noltes & Lunds & other Taproot staff. For the restaurant owners who no longer have a means for their trade. For the coffee shop -- an outreach to the community and social ministry, serving the homeless among other things.

Friend and fellow artist Jeff Berryman gives his account of the events.

Just my thoughts,


From the back: The tall barn like structure to the right is Taproot; to the left of the flames is the part of the neighboring building that housed the pet adoption center; the stairs to the left are the ones that would have led to Cath & my apartment.

Again, picture from

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild too Wild?

A nice article by Richard Clark that asks the question: is Disney too nice?

Well, really it is about stories told to children, and the nature of truth.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Goods for One Smile

I am a tad stretched for time these days. I'm in post on two shorts I directed (one for BADD, one a doc for Cloud & Fire), I'm two scripts behind in script consulting, I'm overdue on writing two shorts I've promised people, and my own full-length screenplay rewrites are off -- on two scripts, a comedy and a sci-fi actioner.

What is it about the number two these days?

And I'm behind in my blog posts -- including the essay I intended on how the reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize signals the end of patriotism in America. Alas, it looks like I won't be getting to that for a while. And I really wanted to tell y'all how great I thought "Zombieland" was.

Another two I'm missing.

Add to that the depression over the church book burnings and the reminder of what's wrong with pundit driven news, and I really needed something good to focus on.

Maybe two somethings.

And I got 'em:

The Amazing Race combined with a Potteresque missed-the-train-got-to-get-to-Hogwarts adventure from Janet -- made my day.

And a little bit of art, as artists take their hand at re-imagining movie posters. My favorites: Spiderman and Ratatouille.

Take a load off, read, let a visual wash over you, and smile.

In fact, I recommend trying it twice.

Just my thoughts,


Friday, October 09, 2009

Dorian's Picture

Book club met last night to discuss THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

Can anyone tell me the significance in titling it "The Picture..." instead of "The Portrait..."?

Anyhoo, a few of my favorite witticisms from the book:

A conversational exchange regarding an American woman engaged to an English acquaintance:

“Is she pretty?”

“She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm.”

“Why can’t these American women stay in their own country? They are always telling us that it is the Paradise for women.”

“It is. That is the reason why, like Eve, they are so excessively anxious to get out of it.”

In complaining when reasonableness is brought up in a disagreement (a bit representative of the "discussions" of today, eh?):

“How dreadful! I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.”

After bargaining for a purchase:

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Outraged when accused of being a sceptic:

“Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith.”

Next month, Raymond Chandler. An English Gothic thriller followed by an American noir thriller. Should be fun.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Laughing With

Thanks to Tamara for putting me on to this intriguing video by Regina Spektor.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, October 05, 2009

The Ode to Joy

Cath and I spent a goodly portion of our Saturday night listening to a radio broadcast of a classical concert.

Just down the street, the Hollywood Bowl overflowed with 18,000 guests -- holders of free tickets from all ages and sectors of our society. Many had never been to the Bowl, or to an LA Phil concert.

This was the launch of Gustavo Dudamel's tenure as the music director of the L.A. Philharmonic -- he insisted that his debut not be the gala opening that takes place this Thursday, but rather a free event that would include anyone who wished to show up.

The crowd was not typical for the Phil -- this crowd thought they were at a rock concert.

Patrons rushed the stage to be closer to the music; each movement was received with raucous applause and shouts -- the audience unaware and uncaring of the breach of protocol.

Mark Swed sums it up better in his article, but for me it was all pure joy -- the intent of choosing Beethoven's ninth, it seems.

Mark quotes "Leonard Bernstein once said that we can never express too much joy when it comes to Beethoven, and Dudamel took him at his word."

It seems LA is in for a new era of classical music -- seasons grounded thoroughly in the music (not just gimmicked out) -- but with the added element Dudamel brings: community.

This is music for the people, Dudamel seems to say with every action.

He started out the night by leading a youth orchestra -- a bunch of kids who have instruments to play only through the generosity of a non-profit organization. They are the future, and the future starts today, Dudamel reminded us.

He is mentoring a rash of young conductors throughout the season; he has committed to performing an inordinate amount of new works.

He conducts without a score -- the music is imprinted on the heart and mind.

And when he takes his bows, he does not do so from the elevation of the conductor's podium, nor standing in front of the orchestra. Rather he breaks protocol by stepping into the orchestra, bowing from the midst of the players, reminding us that he is but one element of a communal effort.

Such actions take two admirable traits to be treasured if ever found in an artist: humility and security.

Is he the greatest conductor of all time?

How the heck should I know? I'm no classical expert.

But I'll tell you right now: after only one concert, I'm proud to say he's my conductor.

The moment he was back stage, rather than rushing to the privacy of his dressing room, he took up a glass of beer (yes, beer!) with the rest of his players to celebrate a great night of music.

Here's to you, Gustavo, and welcome to Los Angeles.

Just my thoughts,


Favorite lines from Swed's review, in discussing the last movement: "In the opening, crazy made a sudden turn to grace..." and "Here, Dudamel tested limits. He took the final measures faster than reasonable but just short of impossible. A full moon rose over the Bowl’s hedges, as if elevated by the energy on stage."

Friday, October 02, 2009

We Have a Name

My video directing debut for BADD (I've directed live pieces before, but as y'all know, film is a whole other kettle of fish to bob for apples in. Ugh, not only a mixed metaphor, but a rather unpleasant image...)

Just my art,


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Wildely Artistic

I need a break from politics.

Today’s big story is that one side of Washington believes that they are the only ones who should be allowed to claim the other side wants people to die as part of their health care system and liken it to Nazi Germany.

Meanwhile the other side is all hot and bothered because they claim they called dibs on those tactics, and are threatening to sue for copyright infringement unless they get an apology.

So I leave them behind, and think instead on Wilde.

This month is October, which means Halloween, which means book club is reading something creepy.

In this case, Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

A man trades his soul for youth – a nice companion to prior years DOCTOR FAUSTUS (soul for knowledge) and DRACULA (soul for eternal life).

I’m just getting into the book, but wanted to share a bit of Oscar’s preface (written as a target to critics who might over think his message).

The preface is a series of short statements about art. Here are just a few that caught my attention:

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.”

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.”

“No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.”

“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.”

“It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

So – if anyone wants to clue me in to what he means by “Even things that are true can be proved” I would appreciate it. I have my own theories, but will bow to wiser minds.

I’ll be stealing the “To reveal art…” line in my teaching. I’ve always been a big believer that the best story telling is when the writer gets out of the way.

I also admire Wilde’s wit (who doesn’t, really?) – with the notion that the real sin isn’t corruption, but being corrupt without even bothering to be charming. Hee hee hee…

Just my thoughts,