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Tuesday, 31 August
Slowly I Turn

As you might expect, everyone was pretty excited this last weekend, as it was closing weekend for the show.

Friday: Rain.

The wife and I mourned the terrible turn of events by going to the IMAX theater to see the most recent Harry Potter movie, which featured Gary Oldman eating his own face, as he does so well. The movie also contains some hilarious scenes where the young fellow playing Harry attempts to conceal his prominent, embarrassing erections, which is somewhat difficult when they are apparently six feet tall. I can't wait for the next movie, which I assume will have a scene showing Hermione shaving her upper lip. On the IMAX screen, it will almost certainly look like wheat being harvested.

We did indeed have shows on Saturday and Sunday, however, bringing up our final tally of performances to 7 out of 12 scheduled. This is no way to win a pennant. On Saturday, having gone nearly a full week without doing the show, the actors were not quite on their game. One actress, having gone up on her lines, completed a dramatic paragraph by stuttering, "When gold and silver rust . . . we will . . . we . . . after all that happens . . . ah . . . then it will be funny." Well, good. At least "funny" is somewhere in the future. At another point, a different actor lost his shit completely, and simply didn't say his line. We hissed at him to give him a kind of half-assed prompt, to which he hissed back, "Keep going!" This is right at the bottom of things you want to hear onstage, coming a close second behind, well, complete silence.

These things happen, especially when events conspire to deny a cast regular shows. On Sunday, we were confident that we'd be more on our game; perhaps to help facilitate this, one cast member suggested we get together for a "unity circle" backstage before we went on. My tens of regular readers might easily predict my reaction to this suggestion.

"I'd rather die," I said. But these things take on a life of their own--Christ, actors are weird--and after some cajoling from people who really felt strongly about it, I reluctantly trudged over to join the circle. Unfortunately, since the cast was so huge, the circle began to spread out into the actors' seating area, where many deck chairs had been laid out for us, and we found our circle blocked by these various items. Everyone stood around, not knowing what to do (like, I don't know, move the circle), and we stared at each other dumbly for a little bit, an uncompleted circuit needing unforthcoming help from . . . anyone. I found myself clutching a chair back in lieu of someone's unifying hand. Finally, I turned and said to portable furniture, "Chair, I think I'll miss you most of all."

The final show progressed well after that unlovely benediction. People were picking up their cues, and overall, it was a pretty good show. There were, however, developments of a sort. At one point in the show, one character flings dry oatmeal at another; this did not go unnoticed by the pigeons who live in the park and they immediately flocked over to devour the discarded grain, unasked-for guest stars. They were actually hilarious, and lent a certain "Where's Tippi Hendren?" aspect to the proceedings, particularly when they had finished up with the oatmeal and began stalking other scenes with a definitely gluttonous sparkle in their creepy side-faced eyes. There is a "Last Supper" scene which coincided with their tentative assault, and they seemed to be eyeing our plates of plastic fruit with an unnerving potential of voracity.

I actually fucked up a line because the sky-rats were so brash; I kept imagining their hive-mind communiques:

"NO-WINGS HAVE SUSTENANCE! SEE HOW THEY EAT GRAPES!"

"SKY-RATS ATTACK! FIRST, OATMEAL! NOW GRAPES!"

"BE OF CAUTION! THEY ARE NOT FUNNY."

I'm hard on the show I just did, and I've been hard on the shows I've done lately, and I think it speaks to something: I'm going to lay off acting for a while. Possibly a good while. I'm probably tempting fate by even writing this, but I just haven't been enjoying myself doing acting for a long time, and that's no good at all. I have a job already, and it pays a helluva lot more than acting--which, you know, pays nothing--so when acting turns into another job, well . . . you can do the math. It makes me sad and kind of guilty to admit it, but hey: in the final analysis, if I'm not enjoying it, what the fuck am I doing?

I've already turned down one role, and I don't expect I'll be accepting another soon. And with my crummy attitude, who would want me in their cast?

I know. Unity Circles everywhere are wondering who in the hell is going to notice those poor chairs.

Thursday, 26 August
Improper Comments

"Welcome back to your Olympic coverage. I'm Screamin' Al."

"And I'm Analytical Elsie, a soulless dronebot from the Boredom Fields of Alpha Dreary IX; my Cold Disapproval chips were forged in the hellish datapits of X'raggl . . . "

"Thanks, Elsie! We're here at Treacly Sentiment Pavilion for the women's 500 meter Ape Tag event, where a lot is expected of the young American competitor Amanda Dentition. She's just fourteen years old."

"That's right, Al. Amanda is here all the way from her home in Crushing Ennui, Idaho. She's got to be nervous."

"Elsie, I notice she has no tits at all. Do you expect that to weigh on her as she goes into tonight's competition?"

"Al, uh, well . . . "

"None of these broads have any tits. But with regards to Amanda, Elsie, how is the youngster handling the pressure? Do you think she knows that the collective weight of a nation's expectations sits on her shoulders like some unbearable hod of ultradense concrete? Will that be a factor?"

"I'm sure it will, Al. She's got to be feeling the pressure at this point. If she doesn't medal in this event, I know she's going to feel that she missed out on a huge opportunity. And let's not forget how disappointed several hundred millions of Americans will be in her for a couple hours until they forget who she is."

"It looks like we're about to start, Elsie. The women are lining up--that's Holga Schminkey on Amanda's left, from the Ukraine. She's expected to be a threat in this event."

"They're opening the ape cages, Al. This is about to get exciting! Oh, here we go! The apes are free and all over the track!"

"Amanda Dentition is off to a great start, Elsie! She's latched onto a big silverback and--oh. Oh! That doesn't look good."

"No, I really have to take issue with Amanda's form, Al. She was lazy in her rotation when she attempted the spin tag, and the gorilla really made her pay for it."

"That monkey is still making her pay, Elsie! Oh, she's getting batted around like a broken kite. I think we've got a real fuck-circus on our hands here today."

"It's true, Al. The judges are really going to take off points for the vicious mauling that Dentition is receiving. See how she's not tucking her knees in to protect her abdomen? That's going to cost her."

"Judges? Isn't this a distance event?"

"Nobody even knows any more, Al. Oh, now look at Holga Schminkey! She is showing some really great form right now. Her arms are a little soft, but I really love the lines she's showing as that terrifying primate tries to savagely rip her arms off."

"She's really holding her own! Jesus Christ!"

"SHE SURE IS, AL! This could be one for the ages! Look at her humiliate that animal!"

"YEAH! YEAH! Elsie, I can't believe what I'm seeing! FUCK YOU, APE! E-VO-LU-TION! E-VO-LU-TION!"

"Al, the gorillas can't hear you."

"Oh, they can hear me."

"Even if they could, they wouldn't understand you, Al."

"You're so naive, Elsie."

"We're just about to the end here, Al!"

"OHHHhhhh! And that does it. Amanda Dentition, the American, finishes out of the medals. Ouch. She really appears to be crushed."

"I'm sure she's disappointed, Al."

"No, seriously, that big fucking monkey really did a number on her. I think she's dead."

"Dead like the dreams of American gold."

"Elsie, would you say she let our entire nation down tonight? How does she feel right now--I mean, if her heart were still functioning--knowing that she had a shot and she blew it? I mean, she really fucked it hard, right on TV in front of the whole world. She must feel like a turd."

"She should, Al. Let's take a look at the standings and see who won."

"Hey, it looks like we have an upset here--Holga also finished out of the medals. You can see her disappointment as she receives chest compressions."

"So our gold medalist tonight is--"

"It's Ayama Madala-- . . . Madala-- . . . Ayama Madala-- . . . Jesus, these wog names . . . Ayama Madalamabamaslammajamma, or whatever. Congratulations to her on her victory tonight, Elsie!"

"A triumphant victory for . . . er . . . where's she from, Al?"

"Pluto? I don't know. Who gives a fuck, Elsie? Congratulations to Ms. Whatserface on her uninteresting win. And now, it's time to turn it back over to Bob Costas."

"Thanks, Al. We're going to take a break. When we come back to Athens, five exciting minutes of men's canoeing, and then twenty interminable minutes of indoor volleyball. We'll be right back."

Tuesday, 24 August
When The Weirdness Died

Another weekend, another triumphant set of shows!

Friday night: Bumpy, but okay. People were tired and out of rhythm with the piece. But overall, not bad. Notable also for two small girls, maybe ten years old or so, who left off playing in the park to come perch on the fringe of our "stage," occasionally coaching us. (One of the characters in the show has a crippling stutter, for example. Said character was in mid-stutter: "O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o . . . " One of the girls piped up: "Say something!" Thanks, kids!)

Saturday: Rain.

Sunday: Rain.

Another weekend, another triumphant set of . . . actors going out for afternoon drinks!

So Saturday we packed in our crap and headed off for drinkier pastures. Our first choice of venue--a newish place called Maguire's on 15th, which features ludicrously cheap whiskey drinks during happy hour--was closed, causing us to scream ghoulishly and claw ineffectually at the windows. So we ended up heading north to . . . the Canterbury Inn.

The Canterbury Inn has been around forever, and squats like a furry toadstool on 15th; its less-than-enthusiastic stabs at living up to its name include a shabby suit of armor that greets you as you enter, its authenticity distinctly Bill & Ted-ish in flavor. Apart from that, you've got nothing really Chauceresque going on with the place, except for possibly the incredibly calcified barflies, who certainly seem old enough to have fucked the Wife of Bath, and are conceivably still getting palimony.

I really try to avoid the Canterbury as a rule; I have a checkered past with it. My friend N. and I used to call it "The Place Where Disturbing Things Happen," which, while an acknowledged mouthful, did convey the truth. All previous visits to the Canterbury had resulted in . . . well, disturbing things.

MY BIRTHDAY, some years ago

N. and I, for reasons unknown to humans, decided to celebrate my birthday at the dingy place. We showed up and found a table (one nice thing about the Canterbury is that you can always find a table; this is also one of the disquieting things about the Canterbury). We sat down with a couple friends, and were approached by a flinty-eyed waitress (nothing new here; as an afficianado of dives, I am accustomed to unhappy waitresses). She appraised us quickly, and then said, "Hello, pissants." We stared at her uncomfortably; we hadn't even had a drink yet! We had not yet earned pissant status! She then broke into a humorless grin, eagerly showing us her molars. "I'm just kidding. What do you pissants want?" Another grin, this one frankly predatory. Totally unnerved, we stammered at her. "Ah . . . ah . . . can we have a-a-a . . . how about a pitcher, of, ah, beer?" She beamed horrifically, a corrupt Madonna on the Rocks. "One pitcher of ah, ah, ah, beer coming up!" She left to fulfill our order while we sat gloomily, all the potential fun of the evening having been horribly murdered in front of our eyes by the malefic waitress.

To pass the time, N. and I swiveled our heads to the TV set mounted on the wall, seeking any kind of assuagement from the bizarre, Artaudian treatment we had just experienced. At that very moment, the TV was showing some hideous oceanographic footage of a thrashing shark being hauled aboard a ship with cruel hooks. N. and I stared as the crew lashed at the beast savagely; it was like watching Children of the Corn as directed by Jacques Cousteau. It was then that N. said to me, "This is a very disturbing place."

I vowed never to go there again.

ONE YEAR LATER

My friend T.'s birthday this time. "We're going to the Canterbury!" he howled over the phone into my voice mail. I immediately thought of that horrible shark footage, and wondered what fresh horror could possibly be waiting.

This was a much smaller group of guys for this celebration; just a few of us playing some pool. We really stunk, but gamely kept playing, and occasionally not fucking up. Presently, a mulleted fellow arrived with a female companion, and put down some quarters on the felt; they would of course play the winners of the game we were working on. My friend T. and I won, and therefore got the dubious honor of taking on Mullet and his gal, Slightly Faded Peroxide Gal.

We started playing, and the writing on the wall was early and clear. Mullet was beating us stupid (he had his own cue). What was weirder, however, was that Slightly Faded Peroxide Gal seemed to be hitting on me, relentlessly. Obviously. In no uncertain terms. Now, let's get this straight: I'm kind of funny-looking. (And not that SFPG was a supermodel, but she WAS right there with her ostensible boyfriend.) So I am not used to such behavior. I wondered if I was suffering from some organic malady. What the fuck is going on? I wondered. She was being very vocally lascivious, in the most embarrassing way, replete with lines like, "You really handle that stick well." I responded by launching the cue ball into the overhead halogens. "THANKS!" I screamed. I was waiting for the boyfriend to casually beat my skull in with his custom cue, but he continued to shoot nonchalantly.

"Nice shot; right into the hole," she cooed later, "You must be good at that." I thought I must be losing my mind, and at one point retreated to my friend T., standing on the sidelines. He, thank God, confirmed that I wasn't going insane. "What the fuck is going on?" he rasped. "She's totally hitting on you!" I assured T. that I hadn't the vaguest goddamn idea what was going on, and I assumed that I was about to be shivved at any moment. But the Mullet calmly continued destroying us on the table, which wasn't very hard, of course, continuing to display no awareness at all of his girlfriend's freakish behavior.

After the rout was complete--Mullet reamed us thoroughly, which as I say wasn't very difficult, since (1.) he was really just much better than us, and (2.) we (I) was, at this point, convinced that I was going to be beaten into Dinty Moore ingredients . . . they left. Quite amiably. Mullet shook our hands and thanked us for the game, while SFPG magically turned off her horny-rays and said, "See you boys later!"

T. and I stood there for some time. Finally, T. said, "What the fuck was that?" I had no answer. I looked up at the TV, wondering if I'd see some horrible shark abuse to round out the evening. Instead, I saw only soccer, which was somehow worse.

POSTSCRIPT

I wish I had something cool and awful to relate about my latest visit to the Canterbury, but I do not. I was waiting for . . . something. But it never came.

I did go right to the bar to order a beer, and there of course was some white-haired virus of a man to my right; he might have grown there, like coral. He said something to me; I have no idea what it was. His mouth had seemingly evolved into some vague pink hole genetically enhanced to accomodate beer bottles. "Taffy horse race!" he shouted at me. I smiled wanly and gave him my stock "whatever" response: "Yeah, I hear that."

"Wad of chickens!" he might have screamed. Something like that. I really couldn't be bothered, and was anxiously patrolling for things like numbing shark footage on the TV, or perhaps Mullet and SFPG scouring for fresh victims. In the end, though, nothing of the sort materialized.

And oddly, I felt a little sad.

Thursday, 19 August
Laughless-A-Lympics

With midweek rest from doing the show, the wife and I have been, as many of you have been, suffering through the Olympics. While I have many non-NBC programming options, their coverage remains so consistently wretched and appalling that really, it's hard to turn away for me.

The other night, the tiny little whores (if you're just joining us, that would be the female gymnasts) continued their grating antics, various limbs jouncing about on uneven bars, here and there ponytails bobbing woefully under the vigorous shouts of the coaches, the occasional mons veneris taking a vicious beating on a block of wood. You have to give it up to these little fucking dynamoes; they shot around the arena like a bunch of superballs launched from a cannon into a bank vault; even the supernaturally haughty Svetlana Khorkina--who looks like one day she will make some man out there very miserable indeed--was seen to exhibit a smilelike rictus at one point.

But then after a little while I stopped caring, because for all the flash and dazzle--and, as athleticism, some of it was really fucking impressive--they still in the end just seemed tawdry and misplaced and creepy. Maybe if they put plush toys and pink taffeta all over the place; some tasteful Leo DiCaprio posters for the girls to enjoy. It might start to look normalesque.

As the week has drawn on, we've gotten some perfunctory glimpses of other, less popular sports, like the physics-defying weightlifters, whose chores simply cause my groin muscles to twang and whistle in sympathetic misery. Or the guys riding bikes here and there--unfortunately for the bikers, the Tour de France kind of sucked all the limited appreciation we (Americans) have for tiredly watching footage of guys, well, riding bikes on the road. I confess that I regard watching biking with the same enthusiasm I have for NASCAR, which is to say: none. When bikers fall down, which is by far the most exciting possible outcome, the best they can do is wipe out competitors. When bike tires start hurtling into the audience and causing civilian deaths, then I might grudgingly watch the ESPN highlights.

Today's coverage that I saw started out with the shot put, which is pretty enjoyable. (Though the coverage was again basically an afterthought.) Mostly for the peculiarly male trait of post-performance bellowing. Time and time again, the Living Thyroids would pick up the slug of metal, spin weirdly, and then launch the fucker into space, and then, at the precise moment of release (that is to say, after nothing else could possibly help the shot's trajectory), they would emit horrifying screams, as if bull snakes had suddenly crawled into their anuses. AAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGGGHH!

Dude, you already threw the thing. You're not helping in any physical way. Then again, if my whole purpose in life was to throw a heavy lump of crap as far away from me as possible, day after day, I might be tempted to cut loose with frequent existential howls of my own too. Maybe these guys are just weirdly regular about scheduling them.

What else? Oh, I saw some "whitewater canoeing." This is fine, but having actually worked on a river before, their definition of "whitewater" is depressingly lax. The jacuzzi-like nonturbulence of the water hardly made me think, "Oh, lord, watch out for the rocks!" No, more like, "Get that canoeist a spritzer!"

And then there was swimming. So much fucking swimming. And it's not just the varying strokes--though that's part of it. It's also the varying distances. And the varying relays. Of varying strokes and distances. You know, after seeing the weirdly cool dolphin-kick several dozen times (and the accompanying wish that Patrick Duffy, the MAN FROM ATLANTIS would show up), really who gives a rotten fuck? Some swimstrokes are plainly ridiculous, such as the breaststroke and the butterfly. Can we just not say: "Look. There's a rock over there a ways off. Get swimming. First one there wins." Do you think anyone would even think about doing a breaststroke? Of course not. Jesus Christ, people, let's just do the crawl. The breaststroke is to swimming as what speedwalking is to track and field: really, just sort of dumb.

But no. We have to endure the backstroke, the baconstroke, and the Choco-stroke, at all distances and configurations, and worse (thanks, NBC, you dumb choads), we have to endure the qualifying heats. This is just the worst. Hey hey, this means nothing, really, since 90% of the time the heats have no surprises at all! This also, in addition to carrying no dramatic freight at all, leads to commentators doing what they do worst, which is talking. I actually heard this exchange:

"How about that young Hungarian team?"

(Barely masking utter boredom) "Yeah! They're . . . really coming on."

(Extended silence.)

Oh, for Christ's sake. Bring back the tiny little whores. I guess given a choice between miserable little girls and laughably inefficient swimmers, I'm more interested in watching little girls cry.

It's just the kind of nice guy I am.

Tuesday, 17 August
An Asshole's Overview

Now that my show has opened, we've had a bit of time to take in the Olympics, which has been nice, not only since the wife and I are both suckers for the Olympics, but also to not think about the fucking show, about which I will spare my tens of readers any more detail.

(Unless, of course, you want it. The reviews are in, and they range from the tepid to the venemously harsh, so hey, it might be a bad show. However, given my exceedingly dim opinion of what passes for theatrical criticism in this blighted town, I'm not terribly surprised. [And I've received some very good reviews in my time, some of which were really laughable, just so you know.] One reviewer trenchantly observed that our show was "not funny." Seriously, that was the meat of the review; her only other identifiable complaint was that the thrust of the show struck her as redolent of a "Patch Adams" kind of attitude, which is almost profoundly idiotic to anyone even remotely acquainted with the work of Peter Barnes, whose hatred of authority of nearly any kind informs most of his work. [She also took time out to indicate that it was really hot that day. Slow down, woman, I need to take notes!] Seattle critics are kind of like barn gnats: they're mildly irritating, but pleasingly easy to ignore.)

Anyway, so we've been digging on the Olympics, in all their burnished, soft-focus glory. NBC as usual makes them exceedingly hard to watch, with typically color-saturated and mournfully scored mini-biopics about how Jed Barnswallow blossomed from forgettable country hick into OUR NATION'S BEST HOPE FOR JAI ALAI GOLD, all the while calling his Momma back home in Goat Fuck, Indiana every night, makin' sure that the outhouse didn't up an' collapse! Then we cut to a series of ads by upstanding corporate sponsors like McDonald's or Heineken (the diet of hardcore athletes everywhere), and then back to Bob Costas's watery, joyless eyes. I like Bob Costas, but he has that Dick Clark Ageless disease, so I expect that at any moment, Egyptians might show up with cruel hooks to pull his brains out of his nose.

"My God! I'm not dead yet! I still have vibrant hair!"

"You died in 1986. Try not to struggle. It'll be easier."

"AAAAAAAAHHHH!"

"Imhotep is going to love this hair."

So we watched a bunch of stuff. We were already energized by the utter failure of the NBA mooks, and took great happiness in their horrendous defeat by . . . who? I prayed that it was Estonia, but that was too much to hope for; it hardly mattered. Italy? Ghana? Cameroon? Who cares. I don't hate America, really; I just hate its awful sense of entitlement and fait accompli with shit like this, so it was really gratifying to see certain NBA stars staring weirdly, as if they were unexpectedly ambushed by panthers. No, fellows, those were just other basketball players. I wish to hell I could see their cell phone charges. "Agent . . . agent . . . OH MY GOD! WHAT THE FUCK! . . . agent, agent, agent . . . "

We watched some other dumb stuff, like synchronized diving. Or, as I like to think of it, Stepford Diving. Synchronized swimming has a lot to answer for, really. Isn't Cirque de Soleil still around for things like this? I know it sounds snotty, but I just can't care. The whole thing carries this eminently whiffable stink about Vegas shows that I can't get over. I kept waiting for trained tigers to make the jump too.

Also less than helpful was the woman commentator, who retains her job as professional scold. "Oh, no!" she screamed. "Whatserface heeled over at the end!" Well, she did jump off of a thirty-foot scaffolding, while you're seated comfortably in leather. (I assume it's obvious that I loathe most commentators.) Meanwhile, the undercam records the luckless ladies readjusting their swimsuits, while Scold continues to howl. "I just don't see how they'll advance." Hey, hey! Then we're all lucky that nobody gives fuck what you think!

[Note: The couple in question advanced.]

Then we were treated to the men's gymnastic competition, which I must admit I really groove on. No offense to the women's competition--which I know I'll take flak on, since I regard them as tiny little whores--but I just love the men's; they blow me away. [I don't have anything against tiny little whores--which all female gymnasts resemble--but they're just not my cup of tea.]

The reasons I like the men's competition so much--and why I so strongly dislike the women's--is the whole "artistic" bullshit. I dislike the implication that women are more fucking numinous and artsy, while the men--which I do like--get to enjoy the freedom of not having to Perform their Silly Horseshit while accompanied by Karla Bonoff.

Lord, I'm tired. Can we pick this up another time? Maybe after they blow, well, anything else?

Friday, 13 August
Riding Around In Bars With Boys

Tonight the wife and I attended a "bachelorette" party for S., a friend of ours; he is marrying his longtime boyfriend this weekend, so we gathered at the gloriously shabby Rendezvous bar to celebrate his last days of ostensible freedom. (S. undoubtedly counts himself dead lucky, as his fiance, J., is like something that accidentally stepped out of the pages of Startlingly Gorgeous Men magazine.) So we sat about and coolly sipped martinis for a bit, trading theater gossip and making occasional toasts. Usually scathing toasts impugning S.'s moral character.

Then the strippers showed up. Two anonymously lovely lumps wandered in, carrying a boombox, and visibly fretted over the bar's existing sound system, which was just then playing an Eartha Kitt song; S. wondered if they would strip to dear Eartha. They declined politely, and stood uncertainly for a minute before beginning, allowing me enough time to notice that their teeth were exactly the same color as their white cotton shirts. Then they hit the boombox and began their routine, as S. folded himself into a banquette to enjoy the show; the wife was seated nearby as well.

The strippers wasted no time, and stripped off their shirts in fairly short order. They were wonderful fellows, even if their expressions seemed to telegraph unstrippy thoughts, like perhaps, Maybe I'll have some soup later! or I have my doubts about certain Malthusian projections. One wore a thong, and the other some tighty-whities, which gave me fearful thoughts about unintended skidmarks for a minute, but then he peeled that off to reveal: another thong. I guess I should have trusted that he was a pro who would be vigilant about things like skidmarks, but then again, I'm needlessly neurotic. I observed clinically as tighty-whitey guy moved over to my wife and began jabbing his crotch at her face while she laughed hysterically and frantically jammed dollar bills into his waistband. On occasion, she would inadvertangly dislodge other bills when doing so, and would apologize to the man as she scrabbled at the floor--and then his underwear--to replace the lost cash. I also saw our good friend M.--a delightful actress with whom I've worked with on, count 'em, ten shows--be assaulted by the nearly naked boys, holding her arms up as if being attacked by hornets while the lads writhed around her. "NO! NO!" she screamed, which of course practically invited the strippers to do all but drape their cocks over her head.

The gay men in attendance, on the other hand, adopted a much more utilitarian stance, and literally manhandled the strippers to within an inch of dermal abrasion. R. actually patted his lap to encourage one of the boys to visit, and then, when accommodated, seized the young fellow's asscheeks like a Visigoth attacking a joint of beef, kneading them enthusiastically as if assessing their doneness. A., sensing that S. was being neglected, ran over to S. and began his own denim assault on S.'s face; R. continued to explore the murmury legalities of running his fingers down various G-string boundaries. At one point, it looked a bit like Caligula being filmed on a downscale budget financed by a very desperate Disney.

It was a lot of fun. And a lot of laughs. And I also realized that those beautiful boys probably made more than I did today.

So, sorry about the cancer. But we needed boys.

Wednesday, 11 August
So Very Special

Since I took last Friday off to not do the show that evening, I naturally had a lot to do this week at work. With this in mind, I scampered into the office on Monday and promptly did nothing. Come on! Monday. Please. Nobody does anything on Monday. I confirmed this by taking a quick tour of the office. Of the four people who actually showed up, three were betting on ferret legging, and the other one was, horribly, actually doing work. But she's the stereotypical office Type A, and presumably does work while sleeping. You know the type. "I have color documents for everyone . . . thank God I have a laser printer next to my bed. Goodness, I was up until midnight!" The rest of the staff shifts uncomfortably as they stare at the brightly colored eight-page document, remembering that at midnight last, they were drinking Long Island iced teas and placing bets on illicit potbelly pig racing.

Mondays are, then, worthless, and as a result, horribly long, because you try vainly to fill your day with hopeless webclicking and pushing shit around on your desk. You really drink the shit out of your coffee, including tilting your head back 90+ degrees and tapping the bottom of your cup, encouraging the silt to run down your throat. You idly fuck with your stapler, seeing how much pressure your finger can take before you break skin. Mondays are when you create a new email folder called "SO DUMB" that is just for the office moron, who emails A LOT, but hopefully you also set a reminder for the end of the day to prompt you to rename "SO DUMB" to "SPECIAL PROJECTS" before you leave, just in case the guy makes a surprise appearance and sees it later. This awful person can appear at any time to tell you about last night's turkey recipe, after all. You don't want him to see "SO DUMB" and start asking questions. That would be awkward. You instead want him to see "SPECIAL PROJECTS," which is so depressing that even Captain Delicious Turkey will want to edge away nervously.

"Special Projects," you see, is a phrase that carries its own terrible freight. "Special Projects" is simply shorthand for "Mind-eating crap that nobody else wants to do." When I was promoted to Godhood Supervisor, in fact, one of the first things I did was unload a "Special Project" on to some luckless underling. Now, I'm sure that these projects have their worth. Usually. But sometimes, key-entering ancillary data about toilet seat ergonomics as related to end-stage pancreatic tumors, well . . . isn't this why we have graduate students?

Another "Special Project" came my way today, forcing me to figure out which miserable bastard I was going to have to unload it on, since I knew it wouldn't be me. I don't know. I figure it can wait until next Monday.

Tuesday, 10 August
Yellow Face And The Rubberband Man

It was a real apres de deluge weekend: having rained heavily on Friday (show cancelled), but not on Saturday, though the ground remained an unappealing stew of ligament-testing mud (show cancelled), we finally had a show on Sunday. Which was a horrifyingly hot day, leading to such delights as one actress nearly succumbing to heat stroke, and somehow worse, a local theater critic deciding to take his shirt off during the performance.

Poor M.--she who nearly collapsed for good--had a very bad time of it. She is a slight woman anyway, and has milk-colored skin, so it wasn't as if her defenses were strong in the first place, but she wilted like a collard green in the microwave under the punishing heat. We dumped water into her as if she were a ravenous colony of sea monkeys, but not being a giant mass of brine shrimp, she continued to gasp like a trout. Unbelievably, she roused herself for scene after scene like a trouper.

More were afflicted during the afternoon; in one scene, several "lepers" take the stage, clad in what appears to be several yards of discarded trawling nets. (The wife is one of these.) That has to feel lovely. But they howled convincingly while the rest of us--including M.--wobbled unsteadily onstage, unable to get a fucking break to take a drink of water. I myself felt woozy a couple of times, but cheered myself by noticing that the audience seemed attentive, receptive and that nobody was visibly doing anything horrible.

I think it was right about then that Local Theater Critic--who I am almost certain is going to flay us unmercifully--chose to remove his shirt. This was truly unfortunate, and kind of begged the question: What would you rather see? Marlon Brando nude, or Marlon Brando's autopsy photos? You might notice that there is no good answer to this conundrum.

Despite all of this nasty chatter, everyone felt that they had a good show (including me), but what the fuck do we know? We're all too close to it. It's a weird one--it's mostly two+ hours of vaudeville, give or take, but it's kind of like being asked to evaluate your child on a scale of 1 to 10. After so much effort and so much put in to it--and Lord, if you only knew the behind the scenes stuff, which you must understand I cannot go into-- . . . well.

I'm pretty sure I was totally addled for at least part of the show, when I fantasized--onstage!--that the guy from the OfficeMax commercials was going to show up, accompanied by the Spinners tune "Rubberband Man."

I love that guy. And it's not the first time I've envisioned him joining our merry band.

It's good to get some rest. Clearly.

Friday, 06 August
Hold, Please

I'm sorry for the lack of posts; you see, it's been long night after long night in the park, sometimes until 11:00, trying to get this bitch of a show ready. Everyone's been killing themselves with 5-6 hour rehearsals, and frankly, everyone is exhausted. Lots of ghastly tech issues, dance steps to nail (or, in my case, to definitively not nail), last minute costume additions, final props, etc. It's been a real bear.

But it all comes down to this evening--Opening Night! The most exciting night for a new show! Theater in the park, vaudeville in the open air, patrons sitting on the clean grass! IT'S CLOBBERIN' COMEDY TIME!

It is raining heavily today, for the first time in a month.

Tuesday, 03 August
If Arby's Be The Food Of Love

I'm too bloody tired to try and come up with a snappy opening or anything for this. So, let's just go:

Saturday, blissfully, the wife and I got to stay home, no rehearsal while the behind-the-scenes folks endured what's called a "dry tech"--that is, no actors called, and the tech geeks just sat around somewhere with thousands of pieces of paper trying to figure out what all the bizarre fucking glyphs and whatsas and who-dats written on them could possibly mean. "Is this the light plot?" "It's an outdoor show, stupid." "Oh. Right. So what is this? Prop list? Costume plot? Scene breakdown?" "It's a receipt from Arby's." "Jesus Christ. Well, I'm starving anyway. Where's the Arby's food?" "Carla's dog ate it while we were looking at the light plot." "WHAT? It's an outdoor show, goddam it! There is no light plot!" "Maybe it's the phone list." At this point, usually the weeping and screaming begin. This is why I don't typically work tech. It's all snowdrifts of paper, recriminations, skull-clutching misery, and the only one who ends up eating anything is somebody's fucking dog.

But we paid for our indolence on Sunday, when we had us a 10-hour day out in the park, in the sun, with the bugs, and the six-pack-toting rubberneckers, and the frisbee-ers, and horrible old Yellow Face, who burns us, burns us. One thing about performing outdooors: it's quite unlike performing indoors. Particularly when one is accustomed to fringe theater indoor environs, which typically resemble retrofitted butcher shops or abandoned buildings once used only to film Nine Inch Nails videos. No, performing outdoors has its own set of interesting challenges, particularly when one is competing with things like the fucking Seatac flight approach, which is, evidently, directly overhead of our park space. So in addition to ramping up one's volume just to carry your voice out into empty ether, one also occasionally finds oneself trying to outbelt the roar of an overhead 747:

"Yea, Sister Marguerite, leave off thy ministrations to my overtaxed trouser-salmon, and do favor me with a kiss!"

"Oh, Father Flote, I do serve to--"

ROOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR

"-and that is how the Pope was undone in Auxerre! We will not miss his insolent dances, nor his cabbages. But it is important to remember that--"

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM

"--which I hardly need say is why we shall never again be plagued by the hideous Kelp-Men from the sea, now and to forever!"

After spending that hellish Sunday, ten hours of simply BLASTING OUT THOSE FUCKING LINES, I woke up this morning with a curious sensation: my abdomen hurt from using all those lazy-ass, beer-accomodating muscles to project an acceptable volume. When I awoke, I sat up and my gut winced. What the fuck did I do? I wondered muzzily. Then I remembered. Oh, yeah, stupid . . . you did theater. Again.

I'm probably boring my tens of readers by going on about this play, but Jesus, I don't have anything else to write about. I am consumed by this thing, every day! I don't even have a good screed about something terribly obvious, like, say, Arby's.

Don't look at me. Talk to Carla about her goddamned dog.










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