Friday, June 10, 2005


I just made my first funeral song choice. It's "Lux aeterna" from the John Rutter Requiem. Its music speaks so beautifully of the mystery and peace of death.

Either I am getting old or I'm finding new and bizarre ways of dealing with audition stress (more on that next week).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Five questions

The beloved Mz. Ouiser threw down the bloggauntlet to me, so to speak, by posing five questions for me to answer in this space. (This is emerging as the blogosphere equivalent of a chain letter. You can see her interview here.) When I agreed to this, I suspected her questions would be hard — but not this hard.

What are the 5 most important things you feel you should do before you die?

Well, I’m going to cheat right off the bat and divide my answers into things I should do and things I want to do.

a) I should help conservatism change its popular perception as a judgmental, narrow-minded, bullying sect.
b) I want to play George to Becky’s Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
c) I should stop smoking.
d) I want to see the Great Wall of China.
e) I should get off my *** and write a novel, already.

If we had to roll in your shoes for a while, what are the five most vital things you'd like us bipeds to learn?

a) Paraplegics can get their groove on. One of the perceptions I had to fight when I was younger and still fight to a certain extent is that a lot of people are incapable of thinking of the disabled as sensual beings. I may be wrong, and it may be some latent self-esteem issues buried in my nooks and crannies. But I don’t think so.
b) There’s a time for independence, and there’s a time to let someone to open the freaking door. The older I get, the less prideful I am when it comes to accepting help.
c) If you can learn to pop a wheelie, you can rule the world.
d) Snow sucks. “You have tire chains for that thing?” jokes suck worse.
e) It’s amazing how good sitting in a “normal” chair feels every once in a while.

You and Becky are such a fun, fabulous couple; you get my vote for Springfield's sweethearts. What do you feel is the secret to your successful marriage?

I could spend a whole blog entry on that. Careful selection is a must. I’d even go so far as to propose this maxim: never marry someone you haven’t broken up with at least once.

This may sound radical, but here’s my theory. We’ve all heard that if a thing seems too good to be true, it probably is. On the other hand, if a thing is good enough to return to after you’ve walked away from it, it bears close consideration.

Also, at the risk of re-stating an old cliché: never go to bed angry at your partner. First, it makes for a rotten night of sleep. Second, it belies the idea that your relationship with your spouse is the most important thing in your life. Third, it gives resentment a chance to burrow its way into your soul.

Do you advocate the Hal Prince style of directing or the Stanislavski? Why?

I lean much closer to Stanislavski than to Prince. Prince one said “The worse thing that can happen is to get back from artists exactly what you asked of them.” He may have been saying that he prefers actors have ownership of their work, but what he means is that he really doesn’t care what the actors do, as long as they look pretty. That’s just wrong. A director must provide his vision for the show to the actors and collaborate with them to find the best path toward realizing that vision.

By the same token, I think one can go too far with The Method. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for an actor to be able to completely empathize with a character. In fact, a total surrender to the role can be dangerous.

One of the greatest challenges a director can have is knowing his actors well enough to make a suggestion that will resonate with them. My high school drama mentor told me to play Max Detweiler in “The Sound of Music” as if he were secretly a Jew. It worked. In my first directing gig, I was having trouble with my young lead getting the gist of Winnie the Pooh. I told him to try playing Pooh as if he were … well … slow. His eyes lit up, and from that point on, the young man grasped the essence of Pooh.

What 20th century musicians/composers do you feel made the greatest contribution to American culture, and why? (Other than the Beatles. Yes I am evil.)

a) Irving Berlin — the Father of the Pop Song, as far as I’m concerned.
b) Elvis Presley — A fantastic entertainer, he essentially created the crossover hit.
c) John Williams — He has provided the music for almost half of the top 10 grossing movies of all time. Penning the “Star Wars” theme alone makes him a fixture in pop culture.
d) Frank Sinatra — One of the first artists to fully realize the potential of turning talent into power. He also set the precedent for musicians who decided popularity in one field was not enough.
e) The Rolling Stones — Sure their music is good, but their influence has been establishing a blueprint for long-term success.

Whew! Would you like to assume the hotseat, dear reader? Let me know by posting a comment. I'll come up with five questions for you, but you must answer them honestly and completely, and you must post them on your blog. If you don't have a blog, you can post them here.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I wore a black derby today


Just before I left, I saw a black derby on top of the couch.
And I thought, "I'm going to wear that this Friday morning."
"I'm going to make people look at me."
It worked.
At every turn, passersby were riveted to me and my hat.
And I flashed each of them a smile
As if to say, "Made you look."
And my smile stayed with me.
Because, in some small way,
I was living life on my terms.

Find your black derby today.
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