Saturday, May 03, 2014

“Times Square Chronicles” Reviews My Play

Congrats to fellow playwrights Loren Lieberthal and Shebana Coelho, director Melissa Attebery, and all the actors (special props to Dominique Roberts, Jeff Solomon and Justin Michael Wagner for bringing my play to life)!

Monday, April 28, 2014

“Ophelia’s Landlord” Premiers Tonight in Manhattan

Come see my play on April 28, 29 or 30th at the Players’ Club on Gramercy Park! It’s directed by Melissa Attebery and stars Dominique Roberts, Jeff Solomon and Justin Michael Wagner. It’s part of a triple bill of one-act plays on the theme of secrets and things left (for better or, often, worse) unsaid.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Peter O'Toole, Prince of the Glorious Absurd

Ah, dear Peter O'Toole--what fun he had! What a gorgeous soul: his grandeur, his deep knowledge of the classics (despite only two years of formal schooling), that great radiant shimmering skill at his chosen art--and shining through it all was his humor, the sense he seemed to have that not a thing in life was serious; it was all a happysad, tragicomic lark.

In an interview with David Letterman he laughed at a
review of Lawrence of Arabia that described his
expression of "messianic determination." It was
actually, he said, the expression of a drunk actor
clinging to a terrified camel as it raced downhill.

In college I wanted to be him. We all did, my friends Jonny and Justin and I. On TV we saw him tell hilarious stories that began at a bar and ended with him and a friend sitting in an alleyway at four in the morning on a mattress that was on fire--yet there he was in the aftermath, debonair and grand as ever, with that twinkle in his eye signaling his deep love for life's absurdity.

We read about his ludicrous adventures; he once screeched to a halt in a sports car next to his future wife, shouted "Get your passport, we're off!" and flew down the highway, intent on driving her to Rome--but took a wrong turn and ended up in Yugoslavia. He terrified passengers by ignoring traffic signs on the grounds that they were "silly" and almost driving down flights of stairs. Through stomach cancer, major surgery, wifely adultery, divorce and the deaths of his dearest friends he kept that lightness, that love of life, that divine glow.

So who else, really, could be our model for a life well lived? We didn't want to be Morrissey alone in his bedroom, Sinead hating the Pope, Kurt Cobain enraged at the world. Not that we weren't angry at or disappointed in the world, but we didn't want to spend our time being angry or disappointed.

Instead we lived like our motto was "What Would Peter O'Toole Do?" So when Jonny's girlfriend, across the Channel in Brussels, hung up on him after a fight at two in the morning, he decided to drive from Manchester to Belgium then and there just to tell her, "Never hang up on me again," and then drive back home. This plan made sense to me--the fact she was 500 miles away and we all had classes the next day was just not relevant--so I whipped up some sandwiches and off we went, speeding down the dark motorway in a rattling little car about as well made as a ten-dollar toaster. To keep ourselves awake we spent the night embroiled in a purposely surreal conversation, trying to outdo each other with increasingly off-kilter comments and bizarre metaphors.

At dawn, just outside Dover, the car finally died. We pushed it to the parking lot of a repair shop that wasn't open yet and ran down to the port to catch the ferry. We had barely enough money for tickets to the other side of the Channel, and Brussels was 80 or 100 miles inland, but we figured we'd solve that problem when we got to Belgium. So off we went...

For that and many other adventures, I must thank you, dear Mr. O'Toole.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Death Stove from Mordor

You do not need to see his business card to know that my husband is an engineer. Why? Because engineering is not a mere profession. It is a state of mind. A state of soul. A state in which, whereas my power animal might be--say--a bobcat, their power animal is a steam engine, a band saw, a transistor array. I walk into a garage or workshop and think, "Oh, this place smells like a garage or workshop." He walks in, sniffs the air and says, "I wonder who was just using 90-weight motor oil?"

We bought an old house recently, which contains an old commercial stove--a metal mammoth wider than I am tall, and taller than I am tall, and covered in decades worth of crud. It must weigh upwards of 1000 pounds. It is so large that raccoons could be nesting behind it and I wouldn't even know. It has no safety features whatsoever and each of its many grime-encrusted ovens, grills, burners, etc. has its own ancient, tremulous pilot light. It has a multitude of scum-crusted fire-blackened open burners so deep that if you dropped your match when trying to light them, you could count to two or three before you'd hear it hit the bottom.

Should you ever need to cook an entire cow, come to my house--but don't stand too close to the stove, because its walls are uninsulated and it will set you on fire. Then the kitchen's hard-wired fire suppression system will kick in and coat you and the entire kitchen in five inches of fluffy white chemicals. As an alternate method of dealing with being on fire, you could throw the switch on the enormous vent hood to have it suck you up and spit you out into the yard. (If you're still on fire when you land, try rolling around on the grass.)

That's my view of the stove. It belongs in Mordor. It was probably made in Mordor, though I can't be sure since all identifying marks were paved over with petrified layers of incinerated food. My ambition for it is to find a restaurant owner (or perhaps an orc, dragon or troll) who will pay me for the privilege of coming over and taking it out of my house, so that I can cook without having to wear a welding visor.

But my husband's view is different. "Oh WOW!" he says. He brings over his engineer friend and they stand in the kitchen, hands on hips, saying, "That is just PHENOMENAL! Oh, you can't get rid of that!" When I point out the grime, he and the other engineer helpfully suggest, "Oh, we'll just take it apart and bathe it in muriatic acid." Wait, what? How? "We'll just build some troughs in the basement and disassemble it--obviously we'll make a schematic to show where all the parts came from--and when we put it back together you'll be good to go!"

Men who never cook on anything but a microwave exclaim, "Oh, but this stove is a major benefit! You would almost buy the house just for that!" What's the benefit, I wonder? Well, in addition to cooking (in a welding visor) for upwards of thirty people at once, they explain, "We could probably put parts in there and use it to bake on coatings!" Parts of what? Just "parts," apparently. Parts of whatever mechanisms and inventions they may make in the future.

I may have to take it apart myself and smuggle it out of the house, piece by piece. But my husband would probably find it. He and his engineer friends would feel its clunk and hiss in their bones. They would smell it on the wind: rancid cooking oil, ancient lubricant, burnt food, a whiff of gas. They would track it down, lovingly bathe it in muriatic acid, and bring it home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marriage is a Civil Right... DAMN Right.

Because everyone has the right to feel like this. Especially dear Johnny. Infinite congratz to him and his hubby, Vitya, and thank you to the great state of New York.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Actress Hanna Cheek to Perform a Chapter of My Novel!

See you in New York! Hanna is reading a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Blue Guitar. Here's the press release:
Join us on Friday, January 20th
at 7:30
for a free prize-winning reading!
Each year, a panel of New River writers awards the Donna Jo Davis Discovery Prize to honor a gifted emerging writer – emerging being defined as a writer whose work has been recorded on the New River Radio Show (on Art International Radio, but who has yet to publish a book in the genre representing their work. The reward for winning is a reading of their work at The Players.
This year’s Fiction Donna is awarded to Daleth Hall. Please join us at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South on East 20th Street) at 7:30 on Friday, January 20th, where Hanna Cheek will read a chapter from Daleth’s new novel-in-progress Blue Guitar. This reading is completely free, and will be held in the Hampden-Booth Library at The Players (16 Gramercy Park, on East 20th Street east of Park Avenue). We hope to see you there.
"Daleth Hall is a wryly funny, wise, wonderful writer.”
–Sharon Pomerantz, author of Rich Boy
Past Winners of the Donna Jo Davis Discovery Prize:
2010 Fiction: Alethea Black, for her story "I Knew You'd Be Lovely"
2010 Poetry: Reena Ribalow, for "Desert Light" and "Jerusalem of Heaven, Jerusalem of Earth," and Matthew Wells for "Manhattan Sonnets"

Sunday, January 08, 2012

"Antmusic for Sexpeople"

I'm rediscovering Adam and the Ants. Blasting songs and watching videos from Kings of the Wild Frontier. Conclusion: with his energy and theater, his camp, his wit without irony, Adam is the Ant-idote to the shoegazers who shuffle onstage in a ratty cardigan and stand there emoting while the audience grooves on how deep they are. But he's also the antidote to the over-choreographed plastic perfection of so much mainstream pop, the performances without soul and with barely even a body, just an airbrushed liposuctioned image of a body. In other words he's got the theater down, but it still feels raw enough--and playful enough--to be interesting.

For instance, "Antmusic":

"Dog Eat Dog":

Just to be clear, I own music by most of the shoegazers and have seen several of them live. How far gone am I on their music? Adore it. Once I even drove two hours (one way) to see Sigur Ros. It's great music, but... stage presence? No. Engaging performance? No. Theater? No, unless dry ice smoke swirling about the ankles counts as theater. Like the rest of the audience, I spent the whole Sigur Ros concert sitting down. Enjoying it, sure--it's great music to sit around listening to while [insert low-energy activity here: writing in your diary, thinking about things, daydreaming, hanging out with a couple of friends...]. But the shoegazers have never made me dance, or for that matter laugh. By way of contrast, I saw Adam Ant live three times and at no point during any concert was I sitting down.

And how is it that Adam and the Ants came up with some of the most original percussion rock music has ever seen--a cross between Burundi tribal music and 18th-century British military drumming, layered and complex enough that the band needed two drummers to perform--but nobody imitated them?* This should have been a MOVEMENT! I want to start a band! Does anyone know two drummers in need of a gig?

* Bow Wow Wow don't count, because their musicians were Adam's original Ants until Malcolm McLaren stole them.