Sunday, April 13, 2008

Things can only get better

The title of this post is also the title of one of my favorite 80s songs -- Howard Jones' 'Things Can Only Get Better."  You probably are more familiar with it as the song where the chorus just goes "whoa-oh oh-oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh-oh" (repeat, repeat, repeat.)  

Today, a friend of ours came over for a "business brunch" -- to catch up on things, but also to discuss possible ways we might be working together in the future (she would be helping one of my projects to move along, and might also be working with David in some way, once she's free of her current work obligations.)

We talked a lot about past work situations and bosses -- mostly about how she and I both have functioned as "emotional sponges" and/or "radiation shields" for bosses in the past -- manifesting someone else's ideas, and apologizing/enabling their bad behavior as they abuse their minions.

I escaped that bad cycle long ago -- although people like that do tend to keep popping up over and over again in my life-- a repeated test from the universe, I suppose.  It's time to point that energy toward manifesting good things.  I feel like things are about to change for the better, quite drastically.  I feel confident about it.

And you'll be the first to know.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Scorn, scorn, scorn

All right, I've been doing badly this week when it comes to content challenge.  I've been at school very long hours this week (like every April) and have come home and usually fallen asleep right after I eat my little container of watermelon from the deli.

I've had some extremely odd dreams this week -- I actually got to sleep in today and had a bizarre series of dreams between 8 and 9:30 am, when I finally got up -- I made the mistake of not immediately writing them down, so they are lost for all time.

One dream I had this week was that I had a pot of boiling water going, with a lid.  Somehow in the dream I knew that one of my relatives (who is more or less a force of chaos) was in the pot -- like a genie -- and if I lifted the lid she'd be released along with the steam.  So I didn't.  Good for me.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ah, well

Tonight, we saw a production of A Little Night Music, one of my favorite musicals.  I've seen it a number of times -- in good productions and bad productions -- and I always love it, one way or another.

When I first heard the album (yes, album, not CD, this was the dark ages), I was most taken with the song "Every Day A Little Death."  I think I'd read the lyrics somewhere before I actually heard the song, and had quite a different idea in my mind what it would sound like -- if you just read them and haven't heard the music, you might think the words chugged along to some dour melody.  But in fact, the melody is quite lilting and light -- the bridge gets a little more intense, but the main sections of the song are fairly restrained.  

I tried to learn how to play it on the piano -- it eluded my rudimentary piano skills.  The piano part is actually quite tricky and dissonant -- but when the song is played by an orchestra, the strings, oboe and flute bring out the lyricism of the song (while the poor clarinets have an endlessly repeating figure that flutters just below the surface -- supposedly the nickname for the song in orchestra pits is "Every Page A Little Breath.")

The song is sung by Charlotte, a countess who is reflecting on the suppressed pain of her life, trapped in a marriage to a man she loves desperately, but who is brazenly unfaithful to her.  She is singing to Anne, an 18 year old girl married to an older man, who has remained a virgin for the 11 months of her marriage.

Every day a little death
In the parlor, in the bed.
In the curtains, in the silver, in the buttons, in the bread.
Every day a little sting
In the heart and in the head.
Every move and every breath,
And you hardly feel a thing,
Brings a perfect little death.

He smiles sweetly, strokes my hair, says he misses me.
I would murder him right there,
But first I die.
He talks softly of his wars and his horses and his whores.
I think love's a dirty business.

Anne: So do I!  So do I...

I'm before him on my knees, and he kisses me.
He assumes I'll lose my reason, and I do.
Men are stupid, men are vain.
Love's disgusting, love's insane.
A humiliating business.

Anne: Oh, how true...

Ah, well.

Charlotte and Anne go on to sing the last verse in canon (like a round), as Anne realizes how her own situation mirrors that of Charlotte.  

At the time I first heard the song, I was also reading Dune, the science fiction epic by Frank Herbert.  The canon in "Every Day A Little Death" reminded me of the "Litany Against Fear" devised by the Bene Gesserit (the powerful sisterhood of nuns with extrasensory abilities.)

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

I think one of the powerful things about the lyric to "Every Day A Little Death" is its obliqueness and emotional restraint.  In the film version of A Little Night Music (which is off-kilter in so many ways), the otherwise marvelous Diana Rigg is given another verse which is heavy-fisted in its obviousness.  Likewise, in a 1996 London revival of the musical starring Judi Dench, the powers-that-be decided to combine "Every Day A Little Death" with a previously discarded song for the countess called "My Husband, the Pig."  That song has its amusing moments, but it was cut from the show for a reason.

I think one of the things I strive for in my own writing is that same oblique quality -- a restraint on the surface which hints at the emotion pulsing underneath, like the clarinets with their repeated notes going breathlessly on and on, underneath a sweet surface of violins and flutes.

Ah, well.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Tonight, I went to Baltimore's first annual Green Gala, held at the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor.  David was one of the sponsors: he was allotted the area right in front of the observation window that looked into the dolphin pool.  The absolute prime location, in my opinion.

Here you can see the sign for bluehouse, as a
 dolphin zooms by.
I love being in places like the Aquarium "after hours" -- it reminds me of going to school at night for a carnival or a Halloween party, or the "Night Time on Sesame Street" special which I thought was mysterious and magical.  I don't know what the attraction is -- maybe it's knowing that a place has a secret night-time life.

The dolphins were mesmerizing, of course.  I didn't get many good pictures of them -- they often sailed right by the window, so close you could see the scars that a few of them had.  It was serene.
Goblin also participates in the green trend, as you can see by this subway poster:

Friday, April 04, 2008

So say we all

The end of a long week.  A midnight supper. A new episode of Battlestar Galactica.  Snuggling with David.  That's a pretty good start to a festive weekend.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Remedy for Cold Heart

Tonight, coming home very late from work, a Buddhist monk sat next to me on the train.  At least I believe he was a Buddhist monk.  Red robe.  Shaved head.  Saffron bag.  (Also, a swanky looking watch and cell phone upon which he was reviewing his texts.)

I actually had my eyes closed -- I was at school for 13 hours today -- but this person had a palpable energy field that I was aware of when he sat down.  Once I got a gander at him, it was all I could do not to stare.

He pulled a thin paperbound book out of his bag -- the book was written in some script that I didn't recognize, but the title was translated on the cover as Remedy for Cold Heart.  As he flipped through the book, I could see photographs here and there in the pages -- a picture of two polar bears; a bloody cow skull with horns; some more indistinct photographs that involved blood and animals.

I wanted to ask him what it was about, but all I could do was try to stare as unobstrusively as possible.  

At Grand Central, he uncrossed his Topsider clad legs, and swept out the door of the train.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mortified Shoebox

My new favorite.  The Mortified Shoebox show actually combines two elements from pieces I'm working on ... youthful diary entries, and ... shoeboxes.  

The episode that has made me laugh the hardest so far is the one titled "Everyone's A Critic". I tried to link to it below, but somehow that doesn't seem to be working.  (Actually, you can click the embedded video below, and just hit the "forward" button to get to the next one.  Or you can go here and select "Everyone's A Critic" in the list of videos.  Or try this link.)

 I'm going to walk around quoting it for a while, so if you want to know what I'm quoting, make some time to watch this (it's about 3 or 4 minutes long.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

And The Rest

Usually, I can't think of what I could possibly write about.

(You: no, really?  You're down to descriptions of your grandmother's living room.)

Well, in my defense, I feel like a lot of what goes on in my day can't be blogged about -- with colleagues or students or people in the "[I hate the term] Industry."  (Except in the super-secret blog which I absolutely do not have, because if I did have it, you would certainly know about it, wouldn't you?)  And I also don't blog much about David, because he is perfect in every way.

But today, yes, something bloggable happened.

I know that somewhere on this blog I must have written about the continuing role that Gilligan's Island has played in my life.

(You: yes, this is about the level of depth we expect.  Continue.)

My friends in college had a true devotion to Gilligan's Island -- in our commedia dell'arte class, we had to present a little play, and we did a commedia version of a Gilligan's Island plot involving a coconut cream pie, a love potion, and possibly a head hunter.  I think I played Il Capitan/The Skipper in that, doubling as Il Dottore/The Professor.   It was such a hit (ah, drama school) that we tried to do the same thing in screen acting class the following year -- failing abysmally.  I am absolutely certain I've blogged about this, so suffice it to say, it sucked.  I also have the VHS but you can only see it if you come to our house and bring a bottle of Bailey's with you.  

We went to a New Year's party, the lot of us, as the castaways.  I donned my khakis and white shirt and made a coconut-and-wire prop to carry in my guise as the Professor.  Somewhere there's a snapshot of us -- one of the pictures that I love because I actually look good in it, and I'm not normally that photogenic.

Annnnnyway, this is a long prelude to saying:  the Professor left me a voicemail today.  My life is complete.  Due to David's machinations, he arranged for Russell Johnson to call me with a little congratulatory sort of message.  I'm actually glad I let the call go to voicemail (I was in a student rehearsal) because now I have it forever.  If I actually spoke to Russell Johnson, I might have swallowed my tongue.

It's a companion piece to the glossy 8x10 photo that I have of Mr. Johnson that is autographed to me, "who writes musical theater."  My stepfather used to work with a relative of Mr. Johnson's, and requested it for me.

Now I just need a lock of Russell Johnson's hair and my creepy collection will be complete.  Look for it in the secret room that has walls decoupaged in newspaper clippings, maps and diagrams.  Do a long slow pan across the walls as you try to stifle a look of horror.  What in God's name ... this explains so much ... !

No, seriously, my birthday is coming up.  Time to check on eBay for those Professor-related items.