Monthly Archives: July 2012

sumer is icumen in

7/12/12

Y’know, you can take us out of the summer, remove us from the fields and plop us in air conditioned pens, but you can’t take the summer out of us. If you look at internet stats from this time of year, the languidness sets in and takes hold for weeks. In fact, I made a graph for you!

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Of course, that’s my fault as well, since I still have the “school’s out, and I’ll jolly well fuck off” mentality, fully 20 years after I stopped attending class. It is during these drippingly humid weeks I like to fire off just terrible ideas for blogs, leading to profane musical dares and treatises on the comic “Cathy”.

So I’ll leave you this weekend with a few images from the Jartacular, an event that was plagued by more technical fuck-ups on behalf of yours truly than ever, but everyone else seems to have had a good time. I was so busy trying to unearth microphones and writing quiz show entries for the “$10,000 Pyramid” section that I couldn’t take any pics until the brouhaha died down.

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the kids had a giant string bubble maker, and Lars had his camera 2 floors above me

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Barnaby and Lucy’s average afternoon

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Tammy tries our redneck pool

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the top floor of the barn after a talent show, a quiz show, four talks, roller skating, dancing and scotch tasting

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the flash didn’t go off, but I like this one of me and Tessa anyway

And of course, I sing the Beatles with my pregonaut sister (thanks, Betsy!):

tuesday afternoon is never ending

7/10/12

This one goes out to someone who may – or may not – recognize him or herself as the subject of this blog.

Hey! How are you really doing? Not like I have to be specific, because you’ve always dug to China with me on pretty much anything, but for the first time in several decades, I have seen you go a little glassy, a little like you’re not sure which world you’re in, and what exactly to do while you’re there.

There is no law stating you have to remain friends with everybody, or that none of us are allowed to change, or that the things you used to effortlessly enjoy now seem like a little effort. Those things are all okay. And they will change back, most likely.

Even if they don’t, that’s fine too. As long as that tether is still functional, still taut with me, I fully celebrate everything you’ve become, and just wish plenty of good stories when we’re together.

Not many people get a second chance, or find their calling when you’re as old as we are. The ideas had been with you all along, but the circumstances fit together in wild synchronicity. You may even feel like you’ve outgrown many of your usual haunts, and can’t frequent them like you once did.

When you do what you do… and you know What You Do… it is so perfect it bleeds into something else. It’s like a muscle memory from a previous life’s muscles.

You seem torn between what you were, and what you’ve become. You are no longer the little brother, the kid sister, the gadfly, the thirtysomething spinster. Coming back might feel like the camper who came into their own over summer, and is now forced back to school in clothes too small.

But I want you to know, I want all of you to know that’s totally fine. You can be as constant as the Sun, or as periodic as a comet. You can change, utterly, and not find the shenanigans as funny. All I ask is that you teach me all your new shenanigans. Because I plan on listening to you, one way or another, for the rest of my life.

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been a drill

7/9/12

I think yesterday’s blog comments might be among my favorite ever. And I was all set to repay the favor, too, when…

… I took two diphenhydramine tablets. Tylenol PM.

Seriously, how does anyone function? I feel…

I feel…

I

(fe

el)

like an

E

e

cummings

p(oe

m)

the head of winged victory

7/2/12

I saw Mac Rogers’ and Gideon Productions’ Sovereign last night, and not to crow about their achievements, but Mac, Sean and Jordana have pulled off absolutely transcendent theater. Don’t take my word for it: during its run, “Sovereign” was the best-reviewed show in New York City. Think about that. I feel honored to have seen it, even though I had to take the red-eye from LA to catch the final performance.

“Sovereign” was the last of a three-part series called The Honeycomb Trilogy, and while I was present for the reading of Part 1 (“Advance Man”), I didn’t see Part 2 (“Blast Radius”) and only know certain facts through bits of conversation and context.

By all measures and gossip, “Blast Radius” was the play everyone went bonkers over, maybe even sailing Gideon Productions into a sea change of different oceans, and yet I can say for a fact: you can see Part 1 and Part 3 together in one evening, be utterly moved, and never know anything was missing.

This is partly due to Mac’s burgeoning storytelling muscle, but it’s also a fascinating thing about art: many times we can experience something out of order, all fucked up, through a dirty lens, missing entire chunks… and still LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

At the Carolina Student Union, a bunch of us went to see “Taxi Driver” one night after a round of girl drinks. This being the pre-internet era, none of us had seen it before. The projectionist, it turns out, hadn’t either – and showed reel 1, then reel 3, then reel 2 (skipping the credits in reel 3 when he’d seen what he’d done). Thus about 75 of us watched “Taxi Driver” ENTIRELY OUT OF ORDER and WE HAD NO IDEA. And we still loved it.

Sure, it was a little confusing, and the middle seemed bizarrely violent, but then the flashback made sense, and it was all so awesome. It was about five years before I realized what had happened.

Another example? Let’s take the “Star Wars” hexaptych, where a brilliant, radical redaction has become de rigeur in a matter of months: The Machete Edit. Software blogger Rod Hilton posited this order of watching the Star Wars movies: Episode IV (the original), Episode V (Empire), Episode II (Clones), Episode III (Sith), then Episode VI (Jedi). YES, “THE PHANTOM MENACE” IS COMPLETELY DELETED.

As Hilton explains:

…this creates a lot of tension after the cliffhanger ending of Episode V. It also uses the original trilogy as a framing device for the prequel trilogy…

…not to mention you get rid of Jar-Jar Binks, you still get the “Luke, I am your father” at the right time, and, well, just read his excellent post.

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both GONE

Here we have the work of the famously-controlling George Lucas made a thousand times better by completely ignoring the beginning of his entire story, and possibly ten years of work. As a writer, the implications are pretty boggling.

Therein lies the lesson: you don’t get to decide how the world views your stuff, and an idea you’ll die defending is quite possibly your worst. I say this as a control freak myself – I will go back and change words ON THIS VERY BLOG ALL DAY LONG if I feel like it could have been better, even if nobody gives a damn one way or t’other.

I missed the “best” part of Mac’s trilogy, an entire third of it, and it doesn’t matter, I was still blown away. People weep in front of the Venus de Milo, and she doesn’t have any arms. I obsess over each word and plot point in our scripts, and one day they will turn into a TV pilot because a high-level exec will say, “I can’t remember what it was about, but it was pretty goddamned good.”

i could set the building on fire

7/1/12

Can I just express that it’s been an especially shitty day-of-week timing for holidays of late? Of the major holidays that are not affixed to a weekend, we had Christmas and New Year’s Day both on Sunday, which absolutely sucks for getting time off. I know a ton of people that were back at fucking work on both December 26 and January 2, and that’s a crock of shit.

This week we’ve got Independence Day stuck right in the middle of the week on Wednesday, which means no 3 or 4-day weekend. You get one day, right in the middle, and then back to work. I could go on a rant about how the American work system is both cruel and inefficient to new moms, new dads, and basically everyone else (and how much better things are in France and Germany) but it looks like I just did.

So why stop now? Rant continues: every psychological work study ever conducted shows employees losing productivity as hours increase, and overall health decreases with less vacation time. One of my brothers told me his boss has an “unspoken rule” that they should all be looking at 60-hour work weeks. WHY?!?!? What are they doing, mapping cancer genomes? NO! They’re doing bullshit, just like everyone else!

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I have lived under the ghastly spectre of this “unspoken rule” crap before – it’s a cowardly way to make underlings feel threatened and under-the-gun every second of their work lives, all to make some middle managers feel like they’re “hitting their numbers”.

It’s so damned inefficient. I would say that indenturing the American worker for millions of hours is like throwing good money after bad, but it’s worse, because HOURS are your LIFE and you never get them back.

It’s one thing if you’re on the cutting edge of research, or if you’re a surgeon, or if you’re doing something you absolutely adore, or you’re involved in a short-term balls-to-the-wall effort with the understanding it’ll calm down later. Hell, I’ll work 90-hour weeks to launch a product or finish a big endeavor.

But just making the American worker moisten a chair with their ass for 60 hours so they can move shit around for the Man? Not letting people telecommute because it seems like they’re “gettin’ away with something”? Making employees feel guilty for leaving a couple hours early on a Friday?

It’s getting hard to justify any of this in the age of the internet – my hope is that the time Lucy has found her calling, the ol’ 9 to 5 (or 7:30am to 9:15pm) will seem antiquated as horseshoe-smithing. Because right now we’re the hardest-working country on earth, and we don’t actually make anything.