Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars This Year

I watched the whole show last night, every 90-second boring minute of it; and I have the butt sores to prove it. However, during my spell in that black hole in my life, I learned a few things.

James Franco should focus on finally finishing his education, getting a degree, a good corporate job somewhere in Des Moines, and stop splashing his face all over the place. I'll grant you, he was a cute puppy five years ago, but that was five years ago. In dog years, no less.

Anne Hathaway is beautiful and funny and would probably be a big hit in the kind of bars I frequent (Franco would probably be a hit, too - until he started talking, as I'm sure he would feel compelled to do), but she learned the hard way, and in real time, that holding the attention of an audience is not the same as holding the focus of a camera. A quick question: Do real women really shake their beads? I mean, it's okay for a burlesque- or a drag-queen. With them, it serves a positive purpose. But when she did it, it was manic and desperate, like, "Oh, my God, they're not laughing at those jokes they wrote for me to say. Oh, my God, what do I do? What do I do? Oh, yeah, I can shake my beads."

I'm hearing today that a lot of people were put off by Kirk Douglas's appearance. He was old and kind of decrepit. Yes, he was. Get over it. Getting old and kind of decrepit is what happens to you when you don't die young. You don't accomplish much either. I enjoyed him. He was a trouper. He'd rehearsed his shtick, he knew it, and he pulled it off. Plus, there was something delightfully evil about making five Oscar-nominated women sit and wait and sweat. And sweat. And sweat some more.

I enjoyed the clips of Bob Hope hosting the old Oscar telecasts, proving he was funnier than anybody since then except for maybe Billy Crystal in his heyday. And I liked the kids singing Over the Rainbow at the end of the show. They should have let them sing that Gwyneth Paltrow song.

Other than that, it was a nothing-much show. Everybody won who was supposed to win. Nobody ran across the stage naked. The only goof was Melissa Leo, and I can't help wondering if that particular goof was the big, mouth-wide-open F-word she dropped or the fact that she didn't seem to have too much else to say besides that. Come on, she was going to win. She knew it. She couldn't find a little time alone to jot down some notes? She couldn't recycle?

However - and this is a big "however" - the Oscars are really all about the dresses the women are wearing. So, even though I know absolutely nothing about fashion or even what makes a dress a dress or a skirt a skirt, I intend to paw my way down the red carpet now. You're welcome to join me.

Penelope Cruz proves that the fruits of motherhood (and having a lock on Javier Bardem) overshadow every labor pain imaginable. I mean, looka dem things - I mean, her! Look at her.

When Helen Mirren showed up to give an award, a friend texted me, saying, "If you're watching the Oscars, calm down." I texted him back, "No way! Bitch is HAWT!" All I can say is, "Helen, come home. We miss you."

Okay, I give up. Just how tall is that woman?

I used to hate the color orange - okay, "tangerine." But I can change. As for that kiss she's blowing (or whatever that cupped hand is meant to indicate), it's meant for me. Back off.

Ooooh, Sandy from Uptown, looking all Evil Queen in Snow White. How does she stand like that without falling over? Ah, yes, she's walked the sidewalks of New Orleans.

I've got a secret for Annette Bening. "No woman in Hollywood is ever going to let you have an Oscar. You're the one who took Beatty off the circuit." Well, no, maybe in a year or two - when he gets up and does a "Kirk Douglas."

Who the hell is that?

Woman, get over yourself. You're too perfect. You're too beautiful. You're too talented. You're probably too rich. Why do you have everything while the rest of us have nothing? Go away. No. Wait. Please, stay.

Enough now. I'm spent.

Meanwhile, I can't help wondering how they will ever top this year's ceremony next year.

Oh, yeah, that's right.


Ah, but then again ...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

On Enduring a Sugar Rush

Life is getting sweet. It's getting so sweet, my eyes are going glassy, my face is turning red, and I'm about to pass out.

The only issue of Gambit that I read hit the newsstands today, and after the inevitable phone call telling me I had to get a copy, I bundled myself up and ventured out to shoulder my way through the reveling crowds on Decatur Street and into the corner coffee shop where I was able to get my hands on one.

This is the special issue, the one in which the haughty hipsters from up on Bienville Street announce their nominees for the Big Easy Theatre Awards.

Frozen did good. That's the play with which our little newborn company, Crescent Theatre Collective, chose to introduce ourselves to the city. You remember Frozen. That's the one with the mother whose small child was slaughtered by the pedophile serial killer and the psychiatrist who tries to figure out why he would do such a thing. It sounds unappealing, but it actually does what Aristotle once said a play should do.

Apparently, some other people agreed because that little show wracked up five nominations: Best Drama, Best Actress (Diana Shortes), Best Actor (Keith Launey), and Best Supporting Actress (Liz Mills).

As for me, well, they may not have liked my set design (which, I'll admit, consisted of three chairs - yeah, three chairs - I belong to the School of Essential Minimalism), or my costuming (which consisted of ... clothes); but somebody in that tiny, dark, hot room where the theatre committee meets to vote for these things must have decided, hey, he's been banging on the windows for so long, throw him a bone, and maybe he'll leave us in peace; because I got a nomination, too. For directing. Imagine that.

Thank you, thank you.

Now, there's nothing more to see here,  let's move on ...

(Oh, PS, the little graphic I'm using here is based on the original poster design I did for the show. It gave my co-producers bad dreams, and they pleaded with me to come up with something different, so I did.

But, what the hell, this is my blog, isn't it?)

(And wait a minuter, PPS, another thing! My girl, Karen Shields, also got a nomination for Best Actress in a Drama for her one-woman show, The Last Reading of Charlotte Cushman by Carolyn Gage. I did a little work on that one, too.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When People Say Nice Things

I may have had to make my way home from Le Petit Theatre Monday night, alone through a damp and chilly fog, clutching somebody else's Ambie award in my arms (a note to Briana and Patricia: next time, can the glitter - it gets in everything), a perennial loser; but, dammit, people sure are saying some nice things about me.

Over in Japan (!), my Canadian (!) Internet buddy, Rick, is in the middle of a behind-my-back conversation with Sussah, my Internet sweetheart from the Tulane Research Library, about all the wonderful things I am.

Meanwhile, this morning on, I get a sweet write-up for running this blog - and the other one - and this one, too.

All of which goes to show the truth of my personal philosophy: never let 'em get to know ya.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

My life, it sometimes seems to me, is the mirror image of the reality that everyone else inhabits. My world is the opposite of yours. Where this man dreams of accomplishments on a grand scale, I want to be able to write on a grain of rice. Where that one longs to trade the confines of a world too small for a wider one of mad adventures, I prefer my adventures to happen in my tiny room at home.

All of which leads to the exasperation I'm feeling now that I've returned home from a morning of driving into the nether reaches of Saint Bernard Parish to find a butcher shop where Bob could go to buy a half a cow to stuff into the Frigidaire. A journey fat and ripe for adventure, no?


While we're off getting lost on two-lane highways, events of great magnitude are occurring that I could be contemplating from the minimalist comfort of my library chair.

No sooner do we get home than I sit here at the computer, open my news feeds, and discover that the Obama Administration is no longer interested in defending DOMA! (Did I get that right?)

I mean, Jeez, Bob and I might yet live long enough for him to make an honest man of me and for me to finally get my hands on his bank account.

And not only that news, but something else happened that I've already forgotten about now; but it was a really big news story to a guy like me. (It'll come. Give me time.)

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is you can have your wide, wild world. You're welcome to it. Me, I'd rather have my bare surroundings. They're familiar to me. They're comfortable.

Whenever I have to go out into your world, well, it makes me a little bit crazy.

Life is funny that way.

Update, February 24th:

I remember the second big news story I'd forgotten about yesterday. It was lame. Never mind.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Couzan Lloyd

I come from a long line of extroverts, but an extrovert I am not.

That may be what makes me the black sheep of my family. Yet out of that long generational line of outgoing men and women, I have known only one of them to be a truly wild and crazy guy, and that was my cousin Lloyd Sensat.

My earliest memory of Lloyd was hearing one our aunts say, disapprovingly, that he was an "artist."

That intrigued me.

I tried to be an artist, too. I managed to find some examples of his work, but I could never get my pencil to do what his pencil did. So I gave up on that.

Kids change, and so did I. So did Lloyd. We both grew up, went our different ways. He wound up in New Orleans long before I found it to be conducive to my own state of mind.

He became a teacher in the public school system. As such, he became a pebble tossed into a pond whose ripples are still swimming outward to reach God-knows-how-many generations of kids who will one day pick up a pencil to try and make some sense and order of the world around them.

After ending his formal teaching career, he became a preservationist, a tour guide, and a laughing cavalier holding court for all the eccentricities that congeal to choreograph the spiritual struts and sashays of New Orleans.

I cannot honestly say that I'll miss him. How can I miss him? He's standing right there everywhere I look. His voice is in the music on the streets and in the clubs. His merry eyes and loony grin are sketched onto the surface of my heart by his own Number 2 Dixon Ticonderoga. His whooping laugh is in my head as constant as a jingle heard once early in the morning and never lost throughout the day.

Hey, couzan! Mais, I love you, cher.

So I Went to the Ambie Awards Last Night ...

... And all I got was this lousy ticket stub.

Which I paid for!

Nevertheless, our Frozen's "Nancy," Diana Shortes, and its "Ralph," Keith Launey, went home with awards as Best Actress and Best Actor.

That's a standing O.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And Speaking of High Art and Poetry

A friend from my adolescent years just dropped me a line with this Limerick in it:
"There once was a sweet boy from Crowley
Who was drawn to a path of plain folly.
So he ventured forth
To a school in the north
Where he learned both to serve and to volley."
I don't know what he's talking about, of course.

Those seminarians and their wayward ways.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A History of the Theatre in Verse

My face
is blank
my voice
is small
where is my magnifying mask

My face
is common as
a prince
an elf
Egyptian queen
a moor

My face
is colorless
awaiting daubs of red and pink
to greet the lord


My face
is hesitant
the clang of
th'incessant bells
of murther
and of Portia's
gentle ministrations
'cross my brow

My face
the confrontation
of sung verses
of some tongue
as mighty as a saber-sword
yet sweet as honey
from your fingertips

This mask
my face
to my zinging thoughts
my secret fears
my buried mysteries

My face
your face
your glance
your focused gaze upon our common cipher here

It's gone

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Show Has to Go On Now

I always get a funny feeling when I see news about a show I'm either rehearsing or presenting, and I got that feeling yesterday when the first press release broke about our upcoming comedy (yes, comedy), Parallel Lives. Actually, what's there in the article isn't the press release that we sent out. The writer took the information and riffed on it. Sort of like what I've been known to do on occasion here.

I do want to state that our production will not be a drag show. Well, not what you would think of as a drag show, anyway.

I don't think.

Parallel Lives is a sketch-comedy show in which two performers play both male and female characters.

I just wanted to clarify that.

"But," I can hear you asking, "why a 'funny feeling'?"

Well, now that it's been announced, there's no turning back. I no longer have the privilege of coming to my senses and saying there is no way this going to work, let's call it off.

I'm stuck.

I'm doomed.

Naw, it'll play. Visit our little website for more information.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Today's To-Do's

1)  Doctor's appointment
     Mine, not his.

2)  Told him what Bobby told me to tell him:
     Too fat,
     Bad cough.

3) Told him what Bobby said I wanted:
    A pill I could take today to make me wake up skinny tomorrow,
    Another pill that would me stop from clearing my throat.

4)  Doctor laughed.

5)  Stopped at Rouse's Supermarket on the way home:
     Bought brown rice.

6)  Came home and cooked brown rice all afternoon until done.
     Ate it.

7)  Went out to re-park car for tomorrow's street cleaning.

8)  Stopped at Lantern to visit with Jimmy on his "Friday".

9)  Rum and Coke.
     Rum and Coke.
     Rum and Coke.
     Rum and Coke.
     Rum and Coke.

10) Came home.

11) Rum and Coke.

12) Went on PC.

13) Played Pandora:
      Listened to Rodgers and Hammerstein station,
      Sang along with:
        The King and I,
        The Sound of Music.

14) Loud knock on front door:

16) Neighbor had called for assistance, said:
      Somebody may be having a stroke,
      Maybe Bobby killing Glenn.

17) Wrong choice (Dawg, I was singing!).
      "Nothing to see here. Move along."
      Cops gone.

18) Rum and Coke!

19) Bob pissed.

20) The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow! on Pandora.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Bomb His Eyes"

"We'll bomb his eyes with steroids."

That's what the newer new eye doctor said after she'd peered into Bobby's peepers Wednesday afternoon. This is the doctor Bobby's older new eye doctor referred him to after months of difficulties following his cataract surgeries.

"The eyes are infected," she said. "No other problems. No detachments ..."

"I could give him an injection right now before he starts on the drops ..." she said.

"No!" said Bob. "No needles in my eyes."

She chuckled.

"Weak," she whispered to me. "You men are weak."

"Don't generalize," I said. "I'm fine with a needle in his eye."

So we continue with the drops we've been using since December, but now we pop them every hour. We also dilate four times a day.

And he's improving.

Light no longer affects him the way it did the old cheesy vampires in those Universal pictures from the '40's. He smiles now and then. He's not as grumpy as he was, not as mean, as downright cruel.

He prayed a rosary last night for the sake of peace in Egypt.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life Is What You Live

There comes a time in every thinking person's life when he realizes that he's pissed that life away; that whatever youthful dreams he might have had were all just that, fantasies; that all that will remain in store for him are empty rooms, abandonment, and, at the last, some damp, weighty soil to offer him its cold embrace.

I don't mean to bring you down. Neither am I flinging flags or flairs, expecting intervention. Maybe all I'm doing is adding a little shade to this portrait that I'm painting on these insubstantial pages here.

I try to seldom write about these darker feelings that come over me. A man is not supposed to talk like this. But I'm in the process of fitting these pieces into the jigsaw of my life, trying to put them in their proper place alongside all the other things. So why not lay them out?

A doctor once encouraged me to read Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled, and I did. I would have argued with the author then that life was not at all that difficult; but I was living on Prozac at the time, and I had no feelings of my own. My brain was otherwise engaged doing a mindless jitterbug.

I've long since weaned myself from happy pills, and, boy, do I have feelings now. Still, I wouldn't say that life is difficult.

Life is tragic.

What do you do? You get up out of bed each morning and follow the rituals you've set up to carry you through the day until night and sleep arrive again. If you take the time to stop and think, you try to find some sense in it. You reach with baby hands to grab and hold onto any faith and hope you can, but your touch only meets with empty air.

And you just keep going.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Get Out Your Feathers"

I'm pouring my second cup of coffee when I realize with a sourness in my stomach that there is a refrain going through my head like the beating of that telltale heart. It's the refrain from the J. G. Wentworth commercial, "Call J. G. Wentworth! 877-CASH-NOW!"

It's on a continuous loop in my brain and won't stop. Over and over. Its cadence controls my steps up the stairs. Its tempo dictates the duration of the sips of my brew.

I realize I need an intervention.

I pull up Pandora. Surely, there is something there that can dispel this curse.

Immediately, it begins. The nasal whine sings, "Out there / There's a world outside of Yonkers ..." Yes, it's the original Broadway cast recording of "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" from Hello, Dolly!

Nothing like Charles Nelson Reilly and Carol Channing leading a boisterous chorus from a big old-fashioned, Jerry Herman musical comedy to banish Mammon on the brain. And on top of that, it's Sunday in New Orleans.

It's a sign, I tell you, a sign.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Are We Jumping the Shark Yet?

From the NYT:
"And in other not-so-impoverished student news, James Franco has taken his metalife to even greater heights, by teaching a course about himself, using footage of himself. Coming this quarter to Columbia College Hollywood is 'Master Class: Editing James Franco … With James Franco,' in which Mr. Franco will supply footage of himself for a dozen students to edit into minidocumentaries – about him, of course. The class will be taught weekly by his longtime associate and editor, Tyler Danna, but Mr. Franco will check in via Skype and in person when his schedule allows. Mr. Danna and Mr. Franco will also tape the class for a final project and another level of self-reflexive commentary."
Gimme a break. Kid even has his own editor?

Furthermore, I just took a count. The name "Franco" appears six times in this one paragraph.

Some publicist is sure earning his percentage.
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