I like to say I grew up in Chicago’s fairest suburb, Evanston, but it’s just as true that I grew up in nearby Edgewater, the 2nd most northeasterly neighborhood of the city. It’s a mostly quiet, residential chunk of Chicago, but apparently there’ve been lots of killings there lately. I remember walking down a street in the hood and seeing cops examining the corpse of a guy who’d been thrown from a moving car a couple of years ago. I mean it is a big city. But apparently they’ve discovered three murder victims in the last two months. Three. Two in the same apartment building. It happens to be my friend and co-worker Shawn’s building. I’ve been in his apartment. It’s nice. The first victim was a janitor. The second a 21 year old girl from Evanston. The crimes are said to be unrelated, although I’d call them, you know, thematically linked. The theme being this great big story of brutality that’s been unfolding since that unpleasantness in the Garden of Eden. Shawn knew both of them slightly. Like he’d say hi to them in the elevator and such. What happens when the background characters in your life get ripped away? I mean they usually fade away and you tend not to notice. But you notice death.
Sorry, your time’s up and you don’t get to be here anymore. You think you get to loiter around here forever?
Hamlet’s second weekend was just as memorable as its first, though not all of it in a good way, exactly. Friday afternoon I started feeling sick, had a bad cough/throat thing going on. I should have asked my boss if I could go home for a couple of hours but I don’t think he was terribly pleased with me right then, (I don’t know why, most people just adore me) so I soldiered on at work and went off to the show. Though I thought the sickness was evident in my voice, apparently no one else thought so and I even got compliments on the singing parts. Good ol’ Twinters was in the crowd that night with a couple of friends, so naturally, rather than go home and rest the vocal cords, I went back to the Twinters apartment (with Shakespearean superstar Bobby Zaman in tow) and stayed up ‘til five am doing many things, among them very loud talking. When I woke up a few hours later, my voice barely registered as human speech. I spent the rest of Saturday in bed but did not recover by the time I had to be onstage, despite lots of recommendations from the cast and everyone else on what to do with my plight. Sunday night was a bit better, I had friends in the crowd that night too, and it’s improved with each passing day but I’m still not quite up to par. 48 hours before I gotta do it all over again. Alas, my beautiful, sonorous voice…it’s my favorite sound in the world!
Monday morning I had to take the Latin 104 final exam. As my readership mostly knows, I left college in 2001 a couple of foreign language credits short of a BA, which I intended to bang out quickly. Various absurd circumstances have conspired to drag this process out by over three years now and I have now technically been a college undergraduate for nearly as long as I was in grade school. But it’s over. I think. God, I hope so. I’ve got friends who are younger than me who are getting like, doctorates now. It’s pretty humiliating but I’m cheerful about it. I’m always cheerful about humiliation.
After the test I had lunch with my friends Tom ‘n’ Molly, whom I haven’t seen in a long time. They haven’t seen the prodigious beard growth I’ve gone through for Hamlet over the last couple of months. I was also wearing my glasses. Molly said I looked like I had just *given* a final exam, rather than taken one…If this world were just.
I LOVE PANDAS!!!
They're the best animals.
So Christian Right tyrant James Dobson recently attacked children's TV character "Spongebob Squarepants" for encouraging homosexuality or something. I'm not sure why, but CNN.Com has the brilliant headline "Christians issue gay warning on SpongeBob video". As I said I'm not sure why they think SpongeBob is gay. My theory was because he displays very little interest in professional sports. Anyway, this is notable only because of what my friend and co-worker Shawn Spear did with it:
Well, there’s a segment in the cartoon where Spongebob sings, “be a true leader / don’t be a breeder / experiment with your friends in the school gym locker / the earlier you start the better / Three cheers for all queers / Families suck.”
And then “abortions rule / don’t pray in school / use your sexuality as a tool.” Huh?
I know some brilliant people.
The second Bush administration begins today. Man, I need to accumulate some wealth…
A note of outrage on the leftie blogs I sometimes peruse is that Barack voted to confirm Condi Rice as Secretary of State yesterday. Therefore, the silly leftist logic goes, Barack is an evil sellout and has been all along. This is why we win elections you see. Rice is indeed an odious person, I’ve never seen any public figure lie, evade and distort with such an unflinching aura of moral rectitude before. But come on, do you really think a less odious person would get the job if she didn’t? Fight the battles you can win, fools. My man knows what he’s doing.
The cast of Hamlet also knows what it’s doing. It was a wonderful adrenaline pumping opening, and work I’m really proud of such as I’ve not felt since…well L3K, the last full length show I did. As usual, the critics are damned fools. This is distressing to me only in that I fear they are an obstacle to getting people to come to the shows I’m involved in. My old pal Nick Green from the mostly worthless but I read it every week anyway Chicago Reader talked about how “unthinkable” it was that the director Frank cut the player sequence from the show. While that sequence was nice and everything, its omission obviously wasn’t unthinkable, because you know, he thought it. He also said that period costumes were an “odd choice” for an otherwise no frills production. That’s just weird, and goes to show the alienation between the way critics and normal people think. What should we wear for no frills productions, jeans and t-shirts? I don’t know, he said some other stuff, but I’m not as motivated to eviscerate him as I did with his L3K review.
The guy I do want to eviscerate is Tom Williams, who runs what’s basically a gushing fansite called chicagocritic.com. He’s kind of like that Inside the Actors Studio guy in that he pretty much gushes over everything stupidly. I was inclined to like him once upon a time because he once singled my friend Tom Schorsch out for praise and I was living on the guy’s futon at the time, so I felt he was worthy of praise just for that. Just recently though he got into this epic scandal (there really aren’t that many scandals in Chicago theatre that I’m aware of) where he got caught plagiarizing stuff. He announced his retirement, but was apparently lying about that. Anyway, he was overheard to remark “Why in the world would they cast a Middle Easterner as Hamlet”? I don’t know, probably the same reason that medieval Scandanavians are speaking Elizabethan English. He went on to condemn the actors in our show (I escaped unscathed as far as I could tell) for speaking too fast, and concluded this was because we were too young and inexperienced to handle the majesty of Shakespeare’s language. He concluded that people “new to Shakespeare” would be okay with this but he having seen “major equity” productions knew the far superior variety. This is kind of counterintuitive to me because I would think if you’re familiar with the material you’re *more* likely to appreciate it when it’s spoken at a conversational pace (which is how we were directed) than when every syllable is e-nunce-i-a-ted like British grammar school. In the printed review he still commented on Bobby’s ethnicity, in a more underhanded way. He said he liked Bobby except that he slipped into “his Middle Eastern” accent sometimes. In point of fact, Bobby is Indian-American and speaks in a Midwestern American dialect.
What happened to the days when critics themselves were brilliant and entertaining writers, like Dorothy Parker and SJ Perelman? Maybe I need to be a critic and save the profession.
You know what? There is no “majesty” in Shakespeare’s language anymore than my language or yours. It’s English. And it’s about 75% the same now as it was then. Putting “the Bard” on a pedestal detracts from his true genius, which was an ability to speak to us across time, in words we recognize as our own. I like English, it’s cool. I wish the critics used it better.
Hamlet has opened heroically. It's been just wonderful. Can't really say much more about it. Actually I plan to, but this here is a placeholder post to attempt to hold some reader interest.
I was happy to be mentioned on Dave Wilhelm's Livejournal the other day. Dave is an actor who I knew slightly back in Champaign, who was coming up in the Penny Dreadful Players student company around the time I was leaving. I mostly know that he is a genius at saying things onstage, and I desperately want him to say the things that I make up when he hits Chicago. Wilhelm old man, I've got brilliant things to make up and you have brilliant ways of saying them, let's make each other famous.
Prince Harry or whatshisname being dressed up in a Nazi costume (at a costume party of all places) has to be one of the most hilarious controversies ever, particularly the bit about rabbis solemnly telling him that he should go visit Auschwitz. What serious people will never ever understand about funny people (not putting his princeness in that category necessarily but it’s quite possible) is that we *know* everything that they think we don’t know. Yes, yes, millions of completely innocent people were rounded up, incarcerated, shot in the head, subjected to torturous medical experiments, burned alive etc. That’s what makes it *funny*. We know everything you know and just a little bit more. We crossed the threshold and gave up on the absurdity of dealing with things like genocide rationally a long time ago and think it’s cute that you’re still trying. But the idea that a 20 year old wearing a Nazi costume as a joke is going to bring down the British Isles is fairly uproarious.
Speaking of grownups not getting it, and why they should really be much more oppressive than they actually are I read about a new “sex publication” being put out by students of that academic powerhouse the University of Chicago, it’s a lighthearted look at campus sexual relations (lightheartedly looking at sexual relations, as opposed to engaging in them, was mostly what I did in college) anyway it has dirty pictures and such and therefore it should really be causing a community uproar and calls for repression from authority figures. Naturally the story I read turned to such an authority figure:
In a statement, U. of C. vice president and dean of students Steve Klass said the university "does not endorse or condemn the content of student publications,'' but added: "Freedom of expression is an integral part of the University of Chicago experience.''
Oh yeah, well FUCK YOU, YOU FASCIST HATEMONGER! WHO GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO…Oh…you’re okay with it. Oh, well, that’s…okay. Cool. We’ll just be over here then.
See, the real problem with the rampant liberalism of academia is a severe shortage of crusty old deans to properly oppress young people and cultivate a healthy distrust for authority…Maybe that’s the point. My God, what have I stumbled into? Seriously, this has to be the reason there are so many young Republican twits on college campuses, it's the only way to rebel properly. And people wonder why 20 year olds are wearing Nazi costumes.
So rock star death age has arrived in earnest. People have been calling, saying nice things and giving me things. These are all welcome phenomena and warm my heart, slightly staving off the sensation of the Grim Reaper’s icy grip, which is what birthdays have signified to me since roughly third grade. Mostly it’s the feeling that my accomplishments do not remotely match my ambitions. When your ambitions involve being master of all you survey, I guess disappointment comes with the territory. For now. But in three years my twenties will be gone like the wind and in all likelihood I will not yet be a theatrical/literary superstar. What am I talking about? In three years my birthday will be riotously celebrated on the streets of every city on Earth. Take my advice and be the first kid on your block to celebrate RoryDay, or indeed the Rory season.
Also be the first kid on your block to see Hamlet, Prince of Denmark:
1501 N. Oakley
January 14-February 20
Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7
773 805-5055 for reservations
Barack Obama has officially been a United States Senator for like a week now.
No need to thank me.
We have now arrived in 2005, which I have chosen to subtitle "The Year My Enemies Fall Before Me".
My life is insane stressful, we're in the "peak period" at my job, in which the belligerent monkeys who apparently constitute most of the tuition assistance seeking workforce of JP Morgan Chase begin to ravenously attack. And we're basically in Tech Week, or Tech Fortnight, for Hamlet, and I've got to lug the fracking two ton grave set piece around, heavy physical labor for which I was neither bred nor educated, and I lost my wallet. But that’s pretty standard me. My holiday breaks from the job and the show were not a sufficient balm to my beaten body and soul…My whiny side is more than balanced by my incredible charm, isn’t it?
But thanks to Twinters for her rocking New Year’s Eve.
This is also, at long last, the year that Transformers: The Movie takes place. It is with a heavy heart that I contemplate the imminent, albeit temporary, death of Optimus Prime. Let us steel our hearts, my friends, for the coming battle with the planet devouring monster, Unicron. The animated film prophecy has foretold our success…