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41. Making up aphorisms, part 1
July 3, 2012, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Everyday, Exercises, Literature | Tags: , ,

Choose Fiction over Fact if you want to study how people imagine themselves to be true.

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38. james joyce exercise
May 23, 2012, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Exercises, Literature | Tags: , ,

[task: no punctuation and repetition of “maybe”]

maybe you will roll me up and time will pass and it will be so warm I’ll never unroll or maybe if I unroll I will find nothing maybe and maybe I’ll be old then or I will know more maybe but maybe when I unroll there’s  some love some curled up love maybe maybe it’s a lump maybe it’s more    a baby maybe it’s wrinkled and waiting maybe I have forgotten in my big space cloud that     soon               maybe there is no unrolling maybe i’m holding and softening offering my hands out maybe  I would like  to stretch and in my stretch shudder    shudder maybe as my muscles flex and fold and flex and fold  maybe I’ve gotten bigger soaking up sun  my cells have grown old and died and come back to life maybe      i hope    i hope they have come back again those cells those cycles maybe I’ve shed too much hair in sinks maybe the grime I feel is only natural the sickness the sadness the unidentified mess maybe   maybe my blood is overclotting and that is nothing maybe        maybe i will shave my legs or maybe I will hide my legs  wear pants maybe maybe  they’re not really there    my legs   I don’t know maybe   or no    they’re there    silly me      maybe I’ll be fresher maybe cleaner in the water maybe this fog this shroud this ghost coating my day with grim and grime maybe it’s waiting for a cleaning      maybe I will poke a finger through it or maybe I’ll stick my tongue  out to taste some light and it’s caramel and maybe the burnt pieces the brittle pieces fall into my eyes and maybe flecks of gold will rise      so I have to look up      so I see oh yes     there’s blue sky     maybe the clouds have gone away to visit their grandmother       maybe she will have a bowl of caramels the ones I tasted before and maybe she has a bundle of blankets rolled up in the closet    maybe her grandmother  made them and maybe she’d never unrolled them and maybe they smelled like lavender those lavender sachets   maybe they’ve unraveled   I could hold them in my hand maybe      maybe this is just the thing for me to hold



34. Evidence (why I’ve begun to practice meditation)
March 25, 2011, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Everyday, Lists, Literature

You  must catch up on some fiction.
Atkinson, Bowen, Krauss
Rearrange the living room.
Acquire a hanging light for over the table.
Remember the radio talk show
(where the host brought up assimilation).
International human worries
International human worries
The cat knocks the tv remote off the mantle.

Exercise your memory (the names are starting to slip).
Add to your story-plot diary
(where you record plots to test that you remember them).
Beginnings, middles, ends

To the grocery store
Smoked gouda, bananas, kitty food
A text about “crazy human archetypes” arrives and it is delightful.
Handless Maiden” and “Bluebeard” now come to mind.

Don’t kill yourself over details please.
[pause]
That book – what’s it called?
Something with Einstein
(It talks about memory palaces.)

Build a memory palace!
String it across your arms and clavicles.
(a perfect place for a palace)
A studio would be fine, though. Or a house.

Think a thought for Dad. An Irish proverb.
“Patience and forbearance make a bishop of his reverence.”
But could you do without the thoughts?
No.
But wouldn’t you like to sleep?
Yes.
To fall like a stone.
Yes.
Wake like a stone.
Yes.



32. Okay February, okay.
February 16, 2011, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Literature, Music | Tags: , , ,

Poetry is something good for February since the second month of the year is usually a hard one.  And poems are good during months that require more patience and kindness.  (See Dar Williams’ song “February” – “February was so long that it lasted into March” Yes, you can say that again.)

I remember sitting in a lecture room listening to Naomi Shihab Nye read one of her poems.  (a lucky girl!) The way she spoke and the way her poetry carved out a piece of understanding was a Thing.  You know, that Thing to behold.  But delicate too. A sleight of hand.  A disappearing bunny.  An untouchable.  A flicker of truth that vanishes as quickly as it disappears.

This is why memorizing poems is rather satisfying, I think.  It turns a flicker of understanding into a practice of being. The poem gains embodied meaning.  Sacred texts have come down to us this way after all.

So I’ve been putting Nye’s “Kindness” to memory, if only to let the words sink down and just be with them. (and with February)

 

 

 

 

 



31. Why I returned to this beautiful Italian aria
February 14, 2011, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Dance, Film, Literature, Music

Back in 2005, I was listening to the Diva soundtrack just one of those CDs I was thumbing through at the library. One of the tracks, “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,” from the Italian opera hit me immediately.  I found it morbidly spectacular but had absolutely no context for it. So I watched the movie (my reaction to Diva is a whole other story) and read about the opera and the Austrian story on which it was based, the 19th century serial novel Vulture-Wally by Wilhelmine von Hillern.

So with all it’s loaded context, I decided to use the aria for a dance parody I was making.  This was all a part of my MFA thesis project about the hysterical female body (more loaded subject matter). There were handkerchiefs coming out of bras set against a huge bronzy wall, behind which loose-haired ladies would come and go.

In short, it was a study in melodrama that ultimately failed, but not in that openly embarrassing way. It was just so difficult to make, and when I watched it from the auditorium, it felt simultaneously bloodless and overwrought.  I couldn’t talk about the piece in my thesis defense without crying.  My professors were flummoxed by my stifled tears. Don’t you like what you make?, they were asking with their eyes. I fumbled for words. I was suppose to be defending my work and here I was, slightly unraveling. I did not realize at the time that trying to articulate my own sense of failure would be the healthy way to move on.

So I decided to put that piece and that song out of mind. In retrospect, I should have realized that impossibility. Denial is never a good option and also, once you study a thing, you tend to run into it everywhere. I cringed slightly when I heard the aria in A Single Man and noticed it was also prominent in Philadelphia, which I very belatedly watched several years back.  (In film, this song has become strongly attached to gay men contemplating their deaths… but moving on.)

So I’ve come back to the song, the opera and the Vulture-Wally story about a tragically heroic tomboy fighting the ice gods and the townspeople in the Tyrol region of Austria.  I’ve wondered why I’ve needed  to return to this material – to accept (un-deny) a little piece of my own history perhaps? And to have new eyes and ears to see and hear it? Yes and yes. Since it began with a song, I’ve now turned to singing. Working with composer Carl Riehl, we’re taking bits and scenes from Vulture-Wally and casting them into an assortment of song motifs from the late 19th century on into the present. So far, we’ve made a Polka (which turns into a Waltz), a smokey little Motown piece, and now we’re working on a Minimalist piece for a dance. Next is  Go-Go.

I look forward to sharing them soon, live and recorded.



20. Since 19, been consumed
October 26, 2009, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Dance, Everyday, Film, Lists, Literature, Music

That’s 24 days. I’ll admit, I’ve been consuming.  Roughly, 4 episodes of Mad Men (and about a dozen references to JFK),  8 performance, 5 movies, 1.5 books, 16 podcasts,  2 new albums, and so many conversations with folks whose company is most enjoyable.  Life is good.

In honor of all the consuming, here’s a list,in no particular order.

  • Cocktails with Callie , plus meeting her cat IJ (Izzie Jane)
  • The opening moment in Neal Medlyn’s show.  (“Have you thought of a number? Is it 3?” No, actually, it was 5.)
  • The ending moment of Laurie Berg’s piece at DraftWorks – ala The Will Rogers Follies
  • Inglorious Basterds – Hans Landa is supreme and the bar scene and the french countryside and the conversation btwn Landa and the frenchman when they decide to switch from French to English in their conversation.
  • Making shortbread with Tami … various brainy rants!
  • Chatting with Jeffrey over coffee and bagels at home – makin’ our top 10 movie list of 2009.  Yep, we like lists. Don’t judge.
  • Eevin Hartsough singing “I want a dog” in Laika Space Dog.  Carl Riehl & The Cake Monkeys!! Made a mental note to ask Carl to talk more about song lyric writing.  So I’m writing it down here.
  • Matty Robinson’s interview (25:59-43:34) with Michael Stuhlbarg on Filmspotting + their nostalgia movie countdown.  Ah, childhood movies.  I gotta go with The Dark Crystal, The Secret of Nimh, and yes, Anne of Green Gables.
  • Rachel Tiemann at Sorry for Laughing – you are a very funny lady.  Especially when you violently eat cucumber slices while someone tries to read a love sonnet.
  • Book 3 of Millenium Series – this is from Stieg Larsson, the Swede I’ve mentioned many a time.  I’m almost finished with the trilogy, and it will be bittersweet to finish it. If you ever read these, my rule of thumb: give it 120 pages before you leave it.  They start slowly and then the roller coaster ride kicks begins.  Really.  Trust me.


19. Summary of Concerns
October 2, 2009, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Dance, Literature, Marketing, Scripts, Video | Tags: , ,

This post’s title is stolen from my mom’s editor, who I got to meet earlier this week.  She had just passed on her notes to mom’s first draft of the newest book.  I found it interesting that she had a numbered list of edits in the form of character and research angles to re-evaluate, re-write, and clarify.  Most of them had to do with re-adjusting how my mom views the back story of her main character.  In other words, all the stuff NOT explicitly in the book, but what makes up its tone and voice and speaks (between the lines) to the readership.

And much of that work has to do with the market for which my mom writes (cozy mystery).  Mostly women, specifically southern, and hobbyist readers.   If she wanted to write dark thrillers, she’d publish with a different Penguin insignia, perhaps.

I guess we all make work directed at the audience from which we come.  I squirm a bit in writing that because it all seems insular. ( I’ll get over it. i’m not afraid to call myself a bit green at times. i also know so many out there must wonder at why they do what they do. for what and for whom. the universe is never specific in answering back. ) The more and more I get to make work, the more I believe it to be a running conversation with the audience.  Here’s a very short summary of concerns and comments we got from the audience. Some to which we’ll take heed, some… not so much.  I know I’ll be hearing more…

1. The voiceover with the “say it.” I wanted it to stop.

2. That conversation in the middle is long.

3. We were just talking about how fly you look.

4. That part with the “do you trust me as a performer?” Putting yourself out there, huh.

5. The first fifteen minutes were especially strong.

6. I liked seeing how much more comfortable you’ve grown as a performer.

7. The rope section stuck out for me. I wasn’t sure why it was there.

8. Two cried. One a good friend.  Another, a stranger.

9. That strobe light thing you do makes your hands look huge. It was fascinating. Others referred to it as that stop motion thing. That stutter. That silent film moment.

10. It’s creepy when that man comes into the film.  I’ve got a new ending for you.  You ready? (It has to do with a saw)

11.  There was an unusual guffaw from an audience member during the Saturday night performance .

re: 11. It still sticks with me. Cranor and I talked about wishes to have built in moments that could lead to interaction between me and the audience during the performance.  I thinks that’s a future challenge.