12 September 2012


Passers by in the Rain, photo by Brassai

09 September 2012

Sara and Randy

If you met Sara, you’d like her right away. She has a round, open face you see a lot in the Midwest, a German-Irish face. She’s not outgoing, but if you say hi to her as she’s ringing up your lunch, she’s happy to chat about her dog walking business or the weather.

Pretty. But not too pretty. The kind of pretty won't intimidate or frighten a man just past his prime. 

So Sara the cashier has a fan club. Guys, mostly in their 40s and 50s, linger around her register if there’s no one in line, and use the chance to bask in the glow of her wide smile and agreeably simple banter.

Randy, on the other hand, doesn’t have a fan club. He rides the same bus I do from the same stop. He's tall, and permanently hunched over, probably from coding for the last 30 years or so with bad posture. He's the sort of semi-autistic programmer who has a hard time socially. 

He seems smart and he reads a lot, but he's incapable of talking about much besides the weather. Day after day we’d wait at the bus stop, talking the weather. At least he chats, I thought; it could be worse -- days waiting for the bus with long pauses as we both pretend to read email on our phones. Instead, we debate the forecast. Not so bad. I tried out a few questions, but only received short answers as he smiled his usual smile.  

Randy worked as a contract programmer for about seven or eight months, then got laid off. I found out a few mornings ago. We got off the bus together at our stop, as usual. He looked more ragged, wearing a frayed t-shirt instead of his usual Ralph Lauren Polo. 

We walked to one of the office entrances, talking about the temperature. When we were nearly there, he said that he'd been laid off. I asked why, but he said his agreement prevented him from talking about it. We paused.  

"I just wanted to let you know," he said. 

"Are you going in?"

"Nope. All done. I'm just going to take the bus downtown." The he asked me if I'd do him a favor. I said sure, sort of dreading something time consuming, but figuring that everyone needs help once in a while. It might be my turn next. So what the hell.

"You know Sara, the cashier, right?" I nod. "Can you tell her?"


"Please say goodbye to her. Tell her Randy says goodbye -- could you do that for me?"

"Yeah, of course." 

We shook hands. 

He loped off without even taking my email.

07 September 2012

Heart of Coppola

Pretty great mashup.

Apocalypse Now - Introduction - HD

Today's the 33rd anniversary of the release of Apocalypse Now. 

Better than the Godfathers Parts I and II. Better than just about any movie ever made, partly because everyone in it went beyond their talent into that strange weird place where craft can't reach.

And that's worth a toast of Willard's Martell Cordon Bleu.

06 September 2012

September Song - Walter Huston...Long Version

Found an even better version.  Man, what a great song, and Huston sings it so well.

These vintage years.

(Can you tell it's my birthday soon? Heh.)

September Song Walter Huston

Bryan Ferry Where Or When live


Wolf hunt

So, I found this translation by Kathryn and Bruce Harrison, but I'm going to work on a better one:

In my flight, sinews bursting, I hurtle,
But as yesterday - so now today,
They've cornered me! Driven me, encircled,
Towards the huntsmen that wait for their prey!
From the fir-trees the rifle-shots quicken -
In the shadows the huntsmen lie low.
As they fire, the wives somersault, stricken,
Living targets brought down on the snow.

They're hunting wolves! The hunt is on, pursuing
The wily predators, the she-wolf and her brood.
The beaters shout, the dogs bay, almost spewing.
The flags on the snow are red, as red as the blood.

In the fight heavy odds have opposed us,
But the merciless huntsmen keep ranks.
With the flags on their ropes they've enclosed us.
They take aim and they fire at point blank.
For a wolf cannot break with tradition.
With milk sucked from the she-wolfs dugs
The blind cubs learn the stern prohibition
Never, never to cross the red flags!

They're hunting wolves! The hunt is on, pursuing
The wily predators, the she-wolf and her brood.
The beaters shout, the dogs bay, almost spewing.
The flags on the snow are red, as red as the blood.

We are swift and our jaws are rapacious.
Why then, chief, like a tribe that's oppressed,
Must we rush towards the weapons that face us
And that precept be never transgressed?
For a wolf cannot change the old story
The end looms and my time's, almost done.
Now the huntsman who's made me his quarry
Gives a smile as he raises his gun.

They're hunting wolves! The hunt is on, pursuing
The wily predators, the she-wolf and her brood.
The beaters shout, the dogs bay, almost spewing.
The flags on the snow are red, as red as the blood.

But revolt and the life-force are stronger
Than the fear that the red flags instil
From behind come dismayed cries of anger
As I cheat them, with joy, of their kill.
In my flight, sinews bursting I hurtle,
But the outcome is different today!
I was cornered! They trapped me encircled!
But the huntsmen were foiled of their prey!

They're hunting wolves! The hunt is on, pursuing
The wily predators, the she-wolf and her brood.
The beaters shout, the dogs bay, almost spewing.
The flags on the snow are red, as red as the blood.

Пока Земля ещё вертится... (Молитва) - Б.Окуджава

The Prayer of Francois Villon

Lyrics and music by B. Okudzhav
trans by M. Tubishlak
As long as the world’s still turning,
As long as the air’s still sweet,
Lord, won’t you give to all of us
Whatever it is we need.
Give a mind to the wise one,
A shield to the enemy,
Give some gold to the happy man,
And don’t forget about me.
As long as the world’s still turning,
Lord, if it be your will,
Give to the hungry for power
A kingdom to rule his fill.
Give some rest to the generous
Under a shady tree,
Wash the stain from the face of Cain,
And don’t forget about me.
I know that your powers are wondrous,
I believe that your ways are wise,
The way that a fallen soldier
Believes he’s in paradise,
The way every breathing being
Believes in your gentle word,
The way, in our utter oblivion,
We keep on believing, oh Lord.
My all-wise, my all-merciful,
My sweet Lord of sea-green eyes,
As long as the world’s still turning
To its eternal surprise,
As long as it still has plenty of
Fire and destiny,
Give a little to everyone,
And don’t forget about me.

05 September 2012

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I recently worked on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf; these are some pictures I took during an open rehearsal. I was lucky to work with two fine actors, and they taught me some things:

1) Using the language of permission works pretty well. That is, instead of saying, "You're too nasal" (or something, you say, "You can use your lower register -- it'll make Martha more powerful." Not the best example, but you get the idea.

2) Focusing first on simple, physical elements solves many problems. A different pair of shoes works wonders. The placement of a chair has a transformative effect. Weird, but true.

3) Reinforcement is necessary, and maybe even welcome. I kept trying to make George less fidgety. I came at it a number of different ways, and keeping at it added to the performance. There's just too much going on for an actor; you have to have consideration and realize that among all the things happening, even a simple and concrete piece of direction can get lost.

4) Repetition is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, just running through a piece a lot can improve it, no direction necessary. This is a dirty little secret that you should keep confidential. On the other hand, bad habits can take root, so just running a scene won't raise the level all by itself. Hey, I got my job back again.

Some -- like Mamet -- argue that actors don't need directors at all. Without getting into a long discussion about the director's concept of a play and the interpretive act that really does have to happen, I'd say that  on the most basic level, actors need a mirror, a sounding board, an audience, and  someone to tell them if they have psychic spinach in their teeth.