I haven't posted in FOREVER

Because I am a failure and a terrible person. But I'm back on the wagon, folks. I have thoughts, and soon you'll get to hear them more regularly.

I don't usually post any pictures on this blog, particularly of anything personal or identifiable. But I'm going to bite the bullet and post this one, because it commemorated a truly amazing experience.


Because, awesome.

More about the workshop, the experience, life in Britain, and, of course, Shakespeare and other literature, coming soon.


Ketchup and Mustard

Not really any mustard. Mostly ketchup, because like a failure I haven't written all summer.

So, in no particular order:

My mum visited! It was lovely. We saw shows, bought clothes and books, and got tattoos. You know, all the usual stuff.

I wrote my portfolio. Not, I'm sorry to say, my best work. Between various vacations and so forth, I left it quite late, and had a lot of trouble approaching the assignment. Still, it's in, it's done, and I am basking in my weeks of nothing-to-do until it's time to move to my fall dorm.

I visited Char, Ella, and their gorgeous new baby, whom I will call Topsy. So cute, my friends! It seems bizarre that people my age are parents, but they are, and Char and Ella are quite good ones. We saw Hadrian's Wall and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

And Sharkytart came to visit! Sharkytart and I went to high school together ages and ages ago, and have been living in different countries (or at least different states) pretty much ever since. But we stay in really good touch now, and she came out for nearly a month. We did London, and Amsterdam (there is a hilarious story there about our inability to get stoned therein), and came back so I could do my Troilus Redux. And then we stayed with Poppasmart for a few days and went to a castle and wandered around all day wearing Robin Hood hats. You see why these people are my friends.

All in all, a wonderfully relaxing and supportive summer. I got to spend a lot of time with friends, something I haven't done enough since I moved to this side of the pond. I went to fun places and saw many good shows (the Globe's Troilus and As You Like It were both marvelous this year). And through it all I of course read a great many books and watched a fair bit of TV. For TV, I must recommend Castle to all those who haven't seen it; it cracks me up on a regular basis. As for books, I've been on quite the mystery kick (thanks, MOM) and made it through the Sebastian St. Cyr books, the Lady Julia Grey books, the first two Roderick Alleyn books, and today I finished the first Dame Frevisse book. Also the Earthsea quartet, and The Time Traveler's Wife, and a couple more Peter Wimseys. And some other stuff that I don't remember. Quick reviews: Sebastian St. Cyr (by C.S. Harris) gets an A for plot and a C for writing, averaging to a B; Lady Julia Gray (Deanna Raybourn), also a B; Roderick Alleyn (Ngaio Marsh) C+; Dame Frevisse (Margaret Frazer) A-; Earthsea (Ursula Le Guin) B+; Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffeneger) the same; Peter Wimsey (Dorothy Sayers) A-. The movie of Time Traveler's Wife gets a C-, though; that was not nearly as good as the book.

And that is what I did this summer. On the whole, delightfully refreshing, even if England couldn't work up a good day of sun since the end of May.


It's Re-lightful, It's Re-licious, It's Re-lovely

I have re-cast some of my Troilus.

Since we are taking it on the road and up to Student Area of Prestigious Theatre, and two of our actors couldn't make it, some shuffling had to take place. I have actually managed to round up three actors for two slots, which is fairly exciting, as less cast overlapping means a less confused audience. Slightly, anyway. That's the hope.

I haven't really done this before, that is, had a bonus performance. Or rather, I have, but not with a changed cast, completely changed locale, and a two month break. In one way, it's rather wonderful, as it's a second chance to fix some of the elements that I felt didn't really gel. I don't consider this project the be my best work, and I'm anxious to work on it until I can be more proud of the result.

On the other hand, I don't think its gelling problems necessarily came from casting, and I'm not sure they are solvable under the circumstances. Especially given that I have three days to introduce my new actors to the play, including the cast that is already set, and then three days to polish it up till it's fit for public consumption, and those two three-day sets are seven weeks apart.

I am not necessarily learning what I expected to learn in grad school, but I'm definitely learning things.


Thoughts After Watching The Wire

I started watching The Wire again this week, after thinking about watching it for the last six months and rejecting it as too intellectual when I'm trying to do school as well. Now I'm not doing school for the moment (except for that one paper) and I nabbed it from the library while the nabbing was good. I watched season 1 about a year ago, and had planned on watching it again before going to season 2, but it was checked out, and season 2 wasn't, so there you go. And now, I have thoughts.

1. Ziggy, you are too stupid to live. I'm sorry! But you are! You are a moron, and you are too much of a moron to realize that messing around with illegal shit is a stupid thing for a moron to do! You are going to get murdered, and it will not be my fault. I have tried to warn you repeatedly, and so has your friend who is probably also going to die but who I will miss because he is not a moron.

2. If I keep living in Britain and watching American TV, I am never, ever going to figure out where the driver's seat in the car goes. Ever.

3. I finally know what a stevedore is. (I had only heard it in... um... the wrong context, before.)

4. YAY! Freamon! And Daniels! Yay! Love them so, so much. Also Omar. Yay, Omar!

5. One of the best lines on TV, ever:
Stringer Bell: I need you to be subtle with this shit. You know what subtle means?
Random Dealer Guy: When you all laid-back and shit.
It was the delivery. The delivery was awesome.

6. I remembered how intellectual the show is, and how it doesn't hand-hold and expects you to keep up. But I forgot that it's also often funny and always interesting, and that if you do pay attention it rewards you a lot. In short, I remembered that it was "good," but forgot why I thought so. Nothing will ever take the place of Doctor Who in my affections, but damn, The Wire is some good shit.

7. Also, I swear a lot more when I'm watching it. Clearly. Sorry, Grammy.


I HAD to share this...

I couldn't help it. This link is my own personal brand of heroin.


Les Anglaises

Once again, I must apologize for real life getting in the way of the much more important realm of blogging. I had a major deadline for a project last week, and as such spent most of my waking minutes trying to make my project not suck. (It didn't, but I still felt I could have done better - making my thesis for my portfolio on said project basically write itself.)

Another of the side effects of said project was to immerse me in British culture in a way that 6 months living here couldn't match. Since 88% of my course is made up of either American or Canadian students, and our professors, though British, make allowances for that, and since my life outside the university is primarily restricted to business transactions, several sides of British life have become clear to me only in the last couple weeks.

Such as... what the hell is up with British schools and youth and whatnot? I'm not complaining about the curricula, of which I know very little; nor do I want the damn kids to get off my lawn. I'm just completely flabbergasted by the pastimes of British youth. For background, please remember that although I was a fairly straight-edged kid, I did go to school in Berkeley, where clouds of pot smoke would hang over the park where we gathered for lunch -- the park that was across the street not only from the high school but also the police station and City Hall. So it's not like I think teenagers are angels.

But when I was young, we did not set people on fire in order to wake them up. Nor was it cool to trick someone into drinking your urine. There may have been one knife fight at my school that I remember, but racial slurs shouted in the halls really weren't tolerated, and the authorities were not shy about expelling students who threatened death and dire bodily harm on other students. Or who wrecked school buildings. In the UK, however, these things were apparently a matter of course. But they're less violent than the states, because they carry knives instead of guns. I guess. I... I don't know. Don't look at me, I just live here.

I read The Anglo Files before I got out here, and it's tremendous, and I recommend it to everyone. But I really am waiting for the author to write a sequel covering violence in schools, pantos, the appeal of getting drunk at ten in the morning, why the British complain about having to pay for their prescriptions, and why they can't share the effing sidewalk.



"See, I know my own come-dine-with-me-theory a lot better than you do!"

A syllogism about this post:

Summer leads to open windows.
Open windows allow me to hear drunk people coming home.
Drunk people coming home are hilarious.


Mawwidge is wat bwings uss togeffur today...

Normally I try to refrain from boldly stating my opinion about things I know nothing about. I state my opinion less boldly instead. But a bunch of things together are leading me to say something about marriage.

Namely, shut up, people who want to control other people's marriage in any way, shape, or form.

I'm not just talking about the whole Prop 8 debacle in California. I mean marriage is the decision and prerogative of the participants, but you'd never know it, the way other people won't shut up about it. Unmarried teen mothers! Reality shows! Gay people! Commitmentphobes! Your kids!

Shut up, reality shows! (My favorite of which is discussed here.) If the damn people want to get married, let 'em. If they don't, say it with me here, it is none of your business. None! At all! Doesn't affect you in the slightest! There may have been stigma about it back in the fifties, but it's 2009 now and nobody fucking cares! Except you! Who needs to shut up and mind your own damn beeswax already!

Shut up, science fiction! How many times must you re-use the plotline that it's just hilarious and, you know, terrifying, when they land on a planet of some sort, the locals throw them a party, one of our Heroes (never our Heroines) gets drunk, wakes up the next morning, and found he has been tricked into getting married! Hyuk hyuk hyuk! It's every heterosexual man's worst nightmare! He will HAVE to leave his wife and become a deadbeat, because she left him NO CHOICE. Shut up while I barf. I'm looking at you, Stargate, Enterprise, Firefly (and honestly, Joss, I expect better from you). Listen up, straight men of the world: you get married by going to a church and saying vows. If you don't want to get married, don't fucking do that. If your girlfriend is riding on you so hard that you are miserable and/or worried that she's going to roofie your drink and drag you to the altar, follow these simple instructions: 1) get the hell over yourself, 2) man up and either a) dump her ass or b) get over it and marry her ass. But this supposed fear that all women are altar-happy harpies is so tired that it passed out ten years ago and has been on assisted respiration ever since.

And yes, finally, shut up, people who don't want gay people to get married. Whose choice is it? Theirs. How does it affect you? It doesn't.

Grow up, people. Marriage is no longer a business transaction, an ownership deal, a death sentence (or even a life sentence), a hard-and-fast rule of living, a necessity, a job description, or any of your business! It's two people who want to hang out together and get a phone call and visiting rights if one of them gets cancer. Move on and grow up, and let's talk about something else.



It's my final day of a three-day weekend -- I know, technically Monday is a holiday, but I'm making my goslings work on Monday since none of them could work over the weekend, and so I took Friday off instead, and cleaned.

And yesterday, I read a romance novel about mermaids, instead of actually doing anything. And today, I'm going to go outside, into the brilliant 65-degree weather, and just relax as God intended. Even God rests on Sundays, people. (Okay, so actually God rests on Saturdays, but I rested yesterday, I just rested indoors. Today, God has given us sunlight, so He clearly expects me to rest some more. Maybe with ice cream, or a cold coffee.)

In other news, my play is getting more and more feminist, and I've gotta curb that impulse a little before it becomes a PSA about assault instead of a piece of theater. Because PSAs are boring and transparent, and theater is engaging and subtle. It would help if I had an assistant. But bah! I need no assistant. The whole point of this project is that I am to be marked on my brilliance, not my assistant's brilliance. So sooner or later I'll have to come up with something brilliant.


A Treat for All of You

Because I can't read this without sharing. It wouldn't be right.

From a link on another blog, I found a blog that copies out one-star reviews of classics of Western culture - music, films, and novels. Not old, boring classics -- we can't all love Aristotle -- but modern, interesting, thought-provoking classics. But here you can learn that:

The Godfather "was so violent I couldn't believe it! On a scale of 1 to 10 of the violence in this movie I would give it a 9!"

The Diary of Anne Frank "was really really boring. Its about some girl and her life- who cares!?! It is a total girly-girl book. Too dull to even care. I couldnt even pay attention to what happened to her, why it was so awful. Oh Well, NEXT…"

Abbey Road "is a really horrible album with a few of the most horrible tracks in here comes the sun. Don’t buy this awful album. go buy any joe walsh, dire straits, foreigner, guns n’ roses, green day, or nirvana insted."

The Princess Bride "is about two guys who are in a book and they’re fighting over a princess named Buttercup. But the problem is that one of them is a pirate and the other one is a giant! I know it’s supposed to be fictional…but come on! Even my suspension of disbelief is not that good, and I work with children!"

.... right. I ... don't think there's really anything I can add to that.

And with these I have not scratched the surface. After reading Huck Finn, one reader hopes that Mark Twain "doesn't plan on writing anything else." Another says Citizen Kane is "just like The Blair Witch Project." And did you know that Ingrid Bergman is "no Maryland Monroe"?

People have a perfect right to like or dislike whatever suits them, and I get that. About half the classics featured I've either never read or hated with a passion. But not with an ungrammatical or misspelled passion.

I know it's wrong to laugh at stupid people. But sometimes it's wicked easy.


Troilus and Cressida and Zombies

Troilus and Cressida being the lesser known Shakespeare I'm working on at the moment, and the zombie being me.

Honestly, I haven't been writing first because I went home, and had many more social engagements, many fewer minutes of free time, and very limited computer exposure. And since I've been back? It's mostly been stress.

(And the difficulty of beginning to write again after one hasn't for awhile.)

Part of me thought everything would be okay once I started directing again, but this is my first time working with "real" drama students, several of whom are more educated in drama than I am. And since I'm the only one getting graded on this project, I find it sort of thematically difficult to figure out how gung-ho I am allowed to be. All of which is a roundabout way of saying I'm really insecure about this whole thing, and wish I had as much confidence as I have ideas.

I do however have the benefit of a really interesting script (since it's edited by me) and a so far stellar cast. I mean, it's not performance time yet, but so far they've been lovely, both as actors and as people. Still I am insecure. Which makes me insecure about feeling insecure in the first place, and determined not to show my insecurity, which makes me more insecure.


So when not rehearsing, (and we're really not rehearsing very often yet) I've been mostly in my room, reading and watching old episodes of Stargate. (Allette described it thusly: "It has a cast of four: one woman, and three hot men" and so I decided to check it out. The writing is pretty bad, but I have kept watching anyway.) My reading has been mostly well-written, however. I've been rereading Austen lately, and heard that for those who wish she'd written more than six novels, a good second option is Emily Eden, and so I've started her Semi-Detached Couple. At chapter ten, I can't make any sweeping generalizations about plot, but so far her dialogue is pretty excellent.

Also, I must recommend to all and sundry that you scamper off and get your hands on Peter Beagle's latest, We Never Talk About My Brother. Go on, scamper. It's worth it, I promise. His writing is rich as custard, but since it's a book of short stories, when you get overwhelmed by it you can always put it down. And it's really just shimmeringly beautiful stuff.

So that has been my life recently: books, television, abject fear.

All is not lost, however. Who just made it to round 4x on Bubble Spinner? Who just got a score of 2177? That's right, bitches. Boo-yah.

Take heart, my challengers. (I didn't realize I had challengers till I got home, and people were all asking what my top score was.) In losing this challenge you have actually won. Are you depressed and finding it difficult to do anything productive in your life for more than twenty minutes at a time? No? Because that's what makes ME play Bubble Spinner for like three hours at a stretch.


Dear Wales,

My goodness, Wales, you certainly are pretty.

I think, just between you and me, you are even prettier than Ireland. You have flowers, after all!

But don't tell them; they'll only be insulted.

I also like your beaches rather a lot better:

But your ocean water is sort of obscenely cold. Well, sorry. But it is. You froze my feet!

However, I forgave you, when I saw one of your excellent castles.

I am so pleased I took a tour of your southern bits! (Not in the dirty way.)

I have enjoyed my time here so much, Wales. Your language is kind of impossible to pronounce, but it's also kind of crazy-cool to see written out, and part of me wants to learn it so I can swear in it and have people look at me funny.

Alas, I did not see your stars and I did not get any autographs, but that is how it sometimes goes, and I did have a pretty excellent time at your best pub last night. You do know how to party, which pleases me.

I wish you well, Wales, and I am sorry to be leaving. You're good people, you are. You should keep on being Welsh; you have my approval. I promise to see you again someday!


My Sister's Gonna Hate Me

I wandered around Cardiff all day - well, hang on. I wandered around Cardiff for half a day and then got tired and found the library, and then it closed so I found a bookstore, and then it closed so I found a restaurant and had dinner. But there was wandering. In the morning, there was.

In the morning, I went HERE:

And then I found THIS:

I KNOW! So of course I had to do THAT. And I saw this:


And almost got exterminated by THEM:

It was VERY exciting. For me. Who is a dork.



Spring break is not for everyone. It's not designed for sorority girls, or fraternity boys. It's not so that what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico. It's not for undergrads at state schools at all, in fact. I know it's been heavily commercialized, but so has Christmas, and every year we get somebody telling us the "true meaning" of the holiday.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you the "true meaning" of spring break.

Spring break is a just and merciful God's gift to graduate/postgraduate students everywhere, who have had a very difficult term and need some actual relaxation time, rather than short periods of catching one's breath.

That we may not forget ourselves, we have been given much work to do over this breathing period, but that we may not despair, the sun has shined upon us in this, the first week of it.


Oh, and by the way....

Dear Dick Cheney,

Please shut up.

The Rest of the World

It Feels Like Years Since It's Been Here...

Here comes the sun...

I know, I missed a week again. But this time, my excuse is that I was on a train up to Stratford to do a research project. I couldn't update from a train. No, honestly, I couldn't. It was sad.

Stratford, though, was not sad. We caught a showing of The Tempest while we were there, and it was just gorgeously, gorgeously done. Antony Sher as Prospero was fairly magnificent, and John Kani as Caliban was very affecting, although I have mixed feelings about the face he presents in interviews. (I haven't read any interviews with Sir Antony, but he was perfectly charming when I met him.) And Ariel and Ferdinand were very attractive and took their shirts off a lot, so that was nice too.

The interpretation was post-colonial and almost purely African, and it was bright and beautiful and interesting. Everyone we talked with beforehand said things like "It's certainly a very interesting production," so I was prepared for rather the worst, but actually, I thought the whole thing worked beautifully. In practical terms, it was very creative: there was a monstrous puppet Sycorax, and the disappearing banquet was the best I'd ever seen it; plus the way Prospero summoned Ariel was clearly authentic. And on an interpretive level, both Prospero and Caliban became so much more interesting. Prospero, especially, I think, since we got to see his much darker side, and so many character flaws that most productions just ignore.

So that was moo-velous, and my research went just fine, and it has been so spring-like since I got back! I swear, when the sun shines on England, any part of England, you just feel in your heart that God is smiling on you. It is even supposed to get up to 60°F this week, which is crazy-excellent. I only need like, a t-shirt and one jacket when I go out. I know, know for a fact, that in a matter of days the sky will dump ice on my head, because that is the way spring is in this part of the world. But dammit, I will enjoy this while I can.

A final bit of news - last night I watched the movie Penelope, with Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, and I have decided that it is the cutest movie in the world, and life-affirming to boot. Sometime soon I am going to buy it for myself, and meantime I must encourage all of you to watch it. So sweet, so nice, like a combination of Shrek 2 and Pushing Daisies. Next time you're in a bad mood, scamper off and rent it; you won't regret it.


And So the Whirligig of Time...

I know, I know, I missed last Sunday. *Hangs head* I'm sorry. I'd just returned from London, I'd just had an interview for a job I didn't get, I was living in squalor, and no update happened. I was a little burnt out and tempted not to update today, but then, you know, it becomes a habit, and before you know it, I'm all back to never update at all.

So I finally am NOT living in squalor anymore, and I'm kind of shocked at the state I allowed my room to come to. For serious, you guys, it was icky. I only cleaned it today, and I was like, I can't even believe this is where I live. I'm not significantly happier that I live here now - it's still pretty depressing - but I am no longer embarrassed that I live here, and sometimes that's the best you can get.

At some future date I will be sharing all the gory details of our annual Shake In A Day, but I'm saving the details of the idea up, so I can tell them to my ducks when I get home and help them organize their own. Suffice to say, that was some messed up, but hilarious, crap.

In other news ... well, I don't have a ton of other news, since most of last week was me lounging around in my squalor, recovering from the craziness that was London and relishing being the only person in my room. Sharing with nice people is still sharing, and not getting enough sleep still makes you tired, even when you're doing exciting stuff during the day.

What I can tell you is that Merlin continues its cute-but-stupid hijinks (much like Robin Hood, which I eventually gave up on, because I had to watch it online, and pretty people are less pretty in lo-def) and I really love watching it, as long as I focus on looking at the pretty people and completely ignore whatever they're saying. But they are very, very pretty. Life on Mars, in contrast, has very few pretty people (or if they are pretty, you can't tell through the bad seventies hair) but very interesting storylines and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. And I'm back on the moderately dopey Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, but I am tired and they clip along nicely (though I do wish she'd quit dating vampires and start dating werewolves, who are nearly always sexier).

And yeah, that's been my week. Not so exciting, but there it is.


Good Old Wooden O

Obviously, I missed my update day yesterday. My excuse is that I'm staying in London and getting on the net in 15 minute increments at 50p each.

Plus, my Globe stuff is very exciting to me, but may be less so to others. I'm having a total blast -- they take us up on the stage to say lines and move around; we're doing text work on Hamlet and Julius Caesar; we have movement, and voice, and stage combat with big swords - it's fun.

It's also stressful, of course, and not a lot of private time in a hostel and very expensive food and stressful things like that. Exhausting. That's the word.

In other news, not unreleated, I caught the musical stage version of Sunset Boulevard last Saturday. I regret to inform the general public that whatever Andrew Lloyd Webber may or may not once have had (that is up for debate), he has now lost it. Which is sad, because I enjoy several, though not all of his musicals. But whatever it was, it's gone now; the music (and lyrics) were by far the worst element of this particular musical. Story - good; concept - interesting; acting - fantastic; songs - toilet. Sad but true.

I've been buying loads of books, but instead of writing about them, I have to sign off.


Fantasies Come True

Guess what I did today....


That is all.


I Knew him, Horatio

Whee, much to tell, and only eleven more minutes of internet time.

So. Doctor Who must have whupped some serious alien ass over England this week, because the southwest got a freak snowstorm. AS we were driving back from our performance at the naval academy, so we very nearly got caught in it. Well, we DID get caught in it, but luckily we had inside sources and took an alternative route, or we would have gotten SO caught in it that we would have had to be rescued. We weren't that caught in it, but the drive that should have taken forty minutes took over three hours. So that was quite dramatic, but I assume we are relatviely safe from that alien menace now.

Until, like, Tuesday, when another storm is expected. Perhaps the aliens are planning to come back.

Playing the naval college was a story in itself - we got a tour and everything! - but since I only have time for a limited number of exciting stories, I had to prioritize.

Today, we arrived in London, booked into our hostel (triple decker bunks! I am on the very top) and went out to dinnner. And as we came out from dinner, we saw the red carpet where all the celebrities were leaving the BAFTAs. Which was also quite exciting.

We saw Emma Watson (Hermione), Patrick Stewart (again, for me!), Kate Winslet, Noel Clarke (Mickey from Doctor Who) and someone who might have been Helen Mirren, and someone else who might have been Meryl Streep. (Shut up. It was very crowded and hard to see.) So that was a good end to the day.

And now, there is no more internet time, so Globe updates will wait until tomorrow, when I actually know something.


On a Lighter Note

Because I know all my readers are absolutely dying to know how I waste time here in England. Pubs? No. Seeing shows? I wish. Saying "cheers"? Never. Studying? Ha! You're funny.

What are all those to a person who can play Bubble Spinner?

It's a little like Tetris, and a little like Color Junction, and you play it with computer generated balls, which is all the selling points I needed. Actually, I didn't know half those selling points and I got addicted anyway.

In about half an hour or an hour of playing, I managed a high score of 126. Now scamper along and beat that so that you can all point and laugh.

Flat, Stale, and Unprofitable

You know, I've been thinking, on and off, what to write about all day long, and I can't come up with basically anything. Not that I haven't done stuff this week, because I have. Oh, brother, have I ever.

Monday was last minute rehearsals, Tuesday tech, Wednesday dress, and Thursday our opening. Thursday too, my dad's younger brother (hereafter denoted as Uncle O) arrived here at my uni. Friday, a day off, and Saturday, a tour show. Today, Uncle O headed out.

I feel bad, because what with all the rehearsals and things, I wasn't really prepped to handle a visitor. So there was a lot more wandering, and a lot fewer tours, than was anticipated. He did see my show twice, bless him, and said he enjoyed it both times, but I was not at the peak of my hospitality, and so feel bad.

Today is a day off, and since I dropped Uncle O back at the train station, it's been a lot of sitting around in front of the computer, eating chocolate. I wish I were kidding, but alas. It's been flipping freezing here (I'm not exaggerating. Literally, the temperature has been down by zero) and exhaustion from the show has made me feel that on some days, the best you can hope for is to make it till bedtime.

Which is not to say that the show is going badly, at all, or that I didn't have a fun weekend. I think the flatness comes rather from overextension. Look for a more cheerful update next week, when I'll be finished touring and on my way to London!


La Vie Boheme

I had so much stuff to do today, and I did precisely none of it. I did not review my lines. I did not clean my room. I did not go to the grocery store. I didn't catch up on my emails. I didn't even knit the sleeves of the baby sweater I'm working on. I mean, I didn't watch the latest Battlestar. You know it's bad when I consider watching an episode of TV that I like to be a chore.

But I did manage to spend the entire day in my pajamas, and if you are feeling overworked, overstressed, sick of the stuff you do and the people you see every day, and are looking for some way to tell the world to go fuck itself, I have a whole list of suggestions of things you can do with your time! Consider it a public service announcement. After all, then I can say I did accomplish something today.

1. Play Sirtet. Yes, it is Tetris spelled backwards. Just like Tetris, it will take control of your life if you let it. It will make you think in tetrads, and it's great for when you're sick of Tetris but want to play a game instead of dealing with your life. Plus the sound effects are hilarious.

2. Do some meaningless research on Wikipedia. Did you know that there was a cartoon in the 80s starring Strawberry Shortcake, a cute little redhead in a white pinafore who lived in Strawberryland? Maybe you did. But did you know she had a sidekick called Raspberry Tart? Isn't that awesome? Her nemesis was the Purple Pie Man, which also sounds vaguely dirty. And apparently her friend Plum Puddin' started out as a boy, disappeared for a few episodes, and reappeared as a girl. Strawberry did not appear to notice.

3. Watch an old movie. Speaking of the 80s, I take pleasure in informing you that the entirety of the 1983 epic movie WarGames is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. I don't know how you can not love Matthew Broderick (looking about 15) and Ally Sheedy (looking about 25) as high school seniors who break into the government missile defense system because they want to play Global Thermonuclear War. There are so many awesome things in that movie, but as a teaser I'll just note that Matthew Broderick hotwires his way out of his defense department lockup using scissors and an 8-track.

4. Take a nap. This sounds boring even to me, but I have to say, I took a nap last night (3 hours), got a good night's sleep (9 hours) and had another nap this afternoon (4 hours) and I finally feel like I'm approaching some kind of clear-headedness. This is the most alert and cognizant I've felt in days.

5. Read a book. I'm in the middle of John Barrowman's autobiography, Anything Goes, right now, and it's so delightfully showbiz-y. (John Barrowman is a big West End musical star, but I know him from Doctor Who and Torchwood, where he plays Captain Jack, and the bit musical parts he had in De-Lovely and The Producers.) His book is a lot of fun, and one of the few things I can bear to read at the moment (stress has killed the book-loving part of my brain). But this book is the opposite of stress - Barrowman is a crackup. He's flamingly gay, he's apparently a total prankster on set, and he's got tons and tons of great stories. Oh, he sounds a little arrogant, and I'm not sure if I'd be friends with him forever or anything, but I love his acting, I love his singing, and I can now say I love his writing (apparently his sister helped him out with the book, and I must say I approve of her as well). And every once in awhile, maybe once every three or four chapters, he writes about something so true, for better or for worse, in the world of arts and theater, that it makes me put down the book and just smile for a few minutes. Right, I think, this is the world that I belong to.

6. Update your blog. Whee!



Dude, you guys. I can't walk.

Oh, don't freak. I'm not in a wheel chair. But I am bruised, sore, and blistered, and taking weight onto my right leg, or lying down on my right side, hurts like a bitch.

It is this way. We have re-choreographed a bit of blocking for the show. Specifically, the part where I keel over and faint. Before, I had someone catching me. Now I fall down on my own.

This means, of course, that I had to learn to stage fall. The definition of stage fall is supposed to be how to fall and not hurt yourself. I beg to differ.

Ever done a knee bend? Do one now. I'll wait. You just plant your feet solid on the floor, and bend your knees, dropping into a crouch, and then come back up again, without using your hands. No big deal, right? You might hear some strange popping noises from your knees, but eh, it's not bad.

Great. Now do a one-legged knee bend. That's right, the same thing, except you have to do it with all your weight on one leg. Got it? Fantastic. Now do two dozen of those, and every time you make it to your knees, slap the side of your ribcage and the side of your ass as hard as you possibly can. Sounds like fun, no?

This was yesterday, that I learned to do this. So the right half of me feels like it's been skiing all day, and I mean the aches and pains I got when I was first learning how, plus the big bruise on my ass and the smaller bruise on my ribcage. My left side is all "... huh?" And my cute new shoes that I just got that are adorable have not been broken in yet, and I found out today when I wore them for the first time that they pinch my littlest toes. On both feet, but especially on my right.

Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. (My director's reaction: "Good, okay. Practice, but don't practice too much.")


Stress Test

... is what this rehearsal process is turning out to be. And my reaction? Avoidance. As usual. I just want to stay home and drink cocoa and knit and maybe read. And watch TV. And not deal with rehearsals.

I know it's good for me to be this uncomfortable, and I'm learning and growing and blee blee blee, but being uncomfortable is still just... uncomfortable. Which is the kind of thing you always forget, isn't it? I'm always like, oh, Of COURSE I Would Suffer For My ART, yadda yadda, but I only ever say that when I forget about the actual "suffering" part. I Would Be Mildly Inconvenienced For My Art, more like, or I Would Do Things That Other People Might Consider Boring Or Annoying, But Which In Fact I Enjoy For My Art. Doesn't have quite the same ring though.

In other news: annoying things about Britain, part 26: Tesco's just changed its hours, and now is only open until 5pm on Sundays. DUDE, Tesco. That is sucktastic. First of all, Sunday is my only day off, so it's not like I can just stop in tomorrow. Secondly, I celebrate my days off by sleeping until mid-afternoon. It took me until five to find my damn jeans in the first place. When am I supposed to do my shopping if you're not open until 9? Thirdly, SAINSBURY'S manages to be open until 9, and so does the local co-op, and so yes, I can take my business elsewhere, sure, but Sainsburys stuff generally costs double what the same stuff at Tesco would cost, and I don't have very much money. Also, the Sainsbury's that is open late on Sundays has a much less impressive selection, AND I don't know where stuff is so it takes longer, AND they do not have individual green bell peppers, which is annoying. They have peppers, but they sell them in packs of three, one green, one yellow, one red, as if the green peppers might be planning a hostile takeover and they don't want the red peppers to end up picking cotton and riding on the back of the bus. Dude, Sainsbury's. They are PEPPERS. I only need one color. Also, your prices are atrocious. I do, however, support the fact that you sell elderflower cordial, now that the campus store has quit stocking it, in a shocking act of failure.

Also, I totally can't believe Obama is actually getting inaugurated! Yahoo! Especially since this last round of press conferences for W has made me hate him more than I thought possible. For serious. I thought I was used to the whole thing, but seeing his smirk now infuriates me and I have to go lie down and knit for like an hour.

Not that that isn't all I do anyway.



My professors toss that word around all the time. I'm pretty sure it means something, but your guess is about as good as mine about what that something might be. Maybe it's the section of the library above where they put the Theatricality books. (Ignore that joke if you don't know Aristotle trivia. What am I talking about? No one knows Aristotle trivia. I am so sleepy, you guys.)

I am actually still sleepy because I'm still trying to get back on normal time after being on Winter Break Time (go to sleep whenever you want and wake up whenever you want). And 'cause I stayed up till... um... well ... very late, to get my papers done and turned in. But! They are done, and turned in! See, I can prove it. That's one of them right there. The next time you have trouble sleeping, there it is, ready for your perusal. Guaranteed to cure any insomnia you might have. You're welcome. You know I've got your back.

Anyway. I chose that title (the metatheatricality title, not the title of the paper; the paper doesn't have a title) because it has been an intensely theatrical day. Theatrical days are difficult when you're on about four hours' sleep. (Not my fault, not entirely. Couldn't get to sleep to save my life, and the stupid smoke alarm went off at half past midnight. I hate my building sometimes.) What I was saying was, first I had rehearsal all day and then I saw a show.

Those two things alone would not really necessarily lead me to say I had a metatheatrical day. But the fevered pitch they maintained would do. It was the most rehearsalish of rehearsals, and the most showy of shows.

We're working on Much Ado About Nothing at the moment, and today was our first blocking/walkthrough of Act IV, scene i. For those unfamiliar, this is the scene where a young woman shows up to her wedding (to the guy she loves) only to get rejected by him, slandered by his best friend, disowned by her father, and talked into playing dead by her priest. So, kinda runs the gamut of emotions there. Who plays this young lady? Me. So I spent a solid chunk of the afternoon going from grinning and excited to curled up on the floor, half conscious and sobbing. Several times. And you know, it was really difficult.

It's interesting to me, because this is the first time I've acted in ages and ages -- two or three years -- and the last couple of parts I played didn't really require a deep emotional commitment. Or anyway, it was amateur enough that I could get away with just walking around charismatically, and not delving into emotional depths. And one of the reasons I stopped acting was that I didn't feel comfortable delving into those depths -- I mean, no one is really comfortable doing that, I don't think, although I've known some actors who were kind of scarily good at it. But I managed to forget just how uncomfortable it was, until today, when I really "let myself go there," (that being the technical term). It really shook me, possibly because I'm tired, and possibly because it's been so long, but also partly because "there," was a really scary place to be. It's off-putting, when you sort of know there's a scary place there, but you haven't been there in ages and aren't really sure you can find your way back there ever, and then suddenly you're right in the middle of it. And you know that you're in a process where the goal is to make it even scarier and more upsetting to be there. And that's your purpose, that's what you're doing.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but maybe the actors will know what I mean.

So that took me forever to deal with, and then after rehearsal (and dinner & pints at the pub; I do live in England) we went to a panto.

I'm pretty sure I'm physically unable to describe a British panto to American citizens. My theory is that with all the rain and tea and scones and whatnot, sometime between the Black Plague and getting sunstroke in India, the entirety of Britain went slowly and quietly insane. They stayed polite and dried-up about it -- they are British -- but nevertheless they are all secretly stark raving bonkers. They act all normal and then suddenly pull some sort of entertainment out of their collective asses that is basically the conceptual love child of a five-year-old and an evil genius. Case in point: Doctor Who.

Not to say these things aren't good and lovable and all that. But they are also completely insane and incomprehensible, and there's no good pretending otherwise. Our latest demonstration of this is the Panto.

A Panto (short for pantomime) is a stage play. Of sorts. I hesitate to say anything even that definite about it. Some of its elements include (in no particular order): a fairytale plotline, audience participation, live musical numbers, dirty jokes, men in drag (as queens and fairies, no less), stand-up comedy, small children, racy costumes, glitter, silly dialogue, elaborate sets, sparkles, zombies, pussycats, absurd make-up, sexy dance moves, drunk actors who forget their lines onstage and are prompted by their costars, and singing rat puppets. All of these elements (I'm not making any of this up, you guys, and all of it is pluralized for a reason) are held together with the largest serving of camp I have ever seen in my life. Think of the campiest thing that you have ever seen or imagined, double it, and add seven. It's campier than The Princess Bride, campier than Buffy, campier than Pushing Daisies. Campier than Bollywood, you guys. Campy like a redwood forest in the Sierra Nevadas.

The production I saw was The Sleeping Beauty, and did incorporate all of the elements I mentioned above. I will describe one scene, and you will just have to use your imaginations to fill in the rest -- bear in mind that the show was an hour and a half. Carabosse, the evil fairy (played by a man) has stolen into the castle by hiding in the orchestra pit (not kidding) along with her evil cat, Spindleshanks (played by a lithe young woman, in a costume that does not belong in the same room as children, even if the room is a theater). They have smuggled in a spinning wheel and plan to make the Princess Aurora prick her finger on it in a matter of moments. Everytime Carabosse enters, the audience boo and hiss. As loudly as possible. Also, every time she speaks. Manly Carabosse and sexy Spindleshanks cavort around the stage a bit, collecting these boos and hisses, and finally ask the audience if they should leave the stage. The audience boos and hisses more. Carabosse and Spindleshanks respond by launching into a live musical cover of "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by the Clash.

Dude, could I make this up?

Other song and dance numbers included "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Any Dream Will Do," "We Go Together," and of course, "Mamma Mia." The audience is encouraged to sing along.

Those of you who were shaking your heads about my declaration of British insanity a couple paragraphs up? I rest my case. Facts, people. Cold, hard, facts. Educational experiences of the day.


Perfected Techniques of Procrastination

That's the title of a demonstrative speech I gave in the sixth grade. I was a natural talent then, and I have turned it into a science now. When are my two essays, research work, lines, and choreography work due? That would be.... just under twelve hours from now. How many of those five things are done? Two. Go me!

Well, everything else is pretty near done... or, you know, not totally far away from being done... Okay, two things are very close to being done, and the other one I'm going to work on right now, as soon as I update my blog, and maybe knit a round, and read some online comics, and maybe talk to a friend...

Eh, yeah, I know. I know. It's disgraceful. I know. But it will be done, and it will be done on time, and then I will start rehearsals with a relatively clear conscience. Yes. This will happen.

In other weekly news, my sleep cycle has continued disastrous, (well, it would be awesome if I were planning to go to California, say, tomorrow. Since I'm not, but instead planning to reintegrate myself into English society tomorrow, it's a little more worrisome.) For the last four days I've tried to get up at a reasonable hour, but my sleeping brain is a stubborn bastard and knows I set my alarm not because I need to get up but because I think I ought to get up. My sleeping brain has no patience for that kind of nonsense. I hear the alarms, I vaguley remember thoughts along the lines of "make the bad noise STOP", I remember turning off the alarms, and then my memory fades out. Not because I stumbled out of my room to get a cup of tea, no, but because I stumbled back into bed and curled back up under the covers. Then I wake up AT SUNSET, and it's the most depressing thing in the world, and I stay in bed for another hour being miserable that I slept the whole damn day away.

That is something else, however, that will stop tomorrow. Because TOMORROW, I am going to get up, and be awesome, and turn this stuff in, and go to rehearsal all afternoon and evening.

Plus, don't even get me started on the drama of trying to get my laundry done.

I got around to lots of things, though, while I was busy NOT getting around to my paper. No, I did! I watched two movies that I own but had never seen before the other day. One was The French Lieutenant's Woman, with the amazingness that is Meryl Streep and the sexiness that is Jeremy Irons. I have to say, however, that having heard that it's the most romantic movie ever made, I was expecting it to be more... romantic. Meryl Streep IS amazing,but if it had been any other actress in that role, I would have hated her and might have stopped watching altogether. I might have stuck around for Jeremy Irons, who is gorgeous, and was very sexy back before I was born, seventies hair and all. But the love story.... kind of eh. They look at each other longingly a lot, and sometimes kiss passionately in exotic locales. But dude, you can do that with practically anybody. I look at my fridge longingly a lot (though I have yet to kiss it passionately in any locale, exotic or otherwise). Conversation? Mutual interests, besides showing the whites of your eyes? Compatible personalities? Huh, what? Disappointing.

The other movie was a documentary entitled Shakespeare Behind Bars. I love it passionately. In fact, I loved it so much that I'm a little hesitant to recommend it, knowing that if someone had recommended it to me at any point before I watched it myself, I would have put it aside forever. I don't know if it's just a quirk of me or if it's common to everybody, but as soon as someone tells me a movie is "really good" because it will "make [me] think," or it's "really deep" or any nonsense like that, I write it off. I still haven't seen The Hobart Shakespeareans, mostly for that reason, even though I know it's good and I know I'll like it. The same thing almost happened with Slings and Arrows, although I got over that. Some part of me is always like, "movies and TV are for entertainment, not thinking! Screw you!" and I never see it.

I would hate for anyone to write off Shakespeare Behind Bars for that reason, so I won't say that it's deep (it is), that it will make you think (it will) or that you really should see it before you die (you should). I'll just say, I loved it. It's a documentary about a program at a high-security Kentucky prison where the inmates spend nine months of the year working on a Shakespeare play. They cast themselves, they have a volunteer (from outside) as a director, and they just go embrace the text and knock themselves out. And it's absolutely amazing. The doc is about the year they did The Tempest, but you don't have to know the play, they explain the plot and themes and all. Not surprisingly, they really go for the theme of forgiveness (a prominent one in that show), and explore it through all the characters. The actor playing Antonio gets put in solitary confinement, and they have to recast. The actors in general go all the way -- the guy playing Miranda is a thirty-something man, and he absolutely relates to it and draws it right into his life. And they all tell you what their sentences are, and why they're in prison, and then they do Shakespeare, and it's mesmerizing. Even if you don't like Shakespeare. Even if you don't like documentaries. Especially if you don't like prison inmates. It just blew me away.

So that is what I have to say about it, and if it doesn't put you off, may I suggest renting it as soon as possible. Shakespeare Behind Bars. Crazy good.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have lines to learn.


That's Entertainment...

"It might be a fight like you seen on the screen / a swain getting slain for the love of a queen / some great Shakespearean scene / where a ghost and a prince meet, and everyone ends in mincemeat..."

Dude, you guys, I saw Hamlet last week! The RSC Hamlet. With Patrick Stewart. I KNOW!

Seriously, it was incredibly exciting. I was in the very back row, so my view wasn't spectacular or anything, but it didn't matter. Either they had the best mic-ing system I've ever heard, or the acoustics were fantastic, because I could hear everything brilliantly. Both the design and the acting were top-notch, and while I wish I could have seen Tennant's Hamlet, his understudy did just fine and has nothing to be ashamed of. The best actors by far, however, were Stewart as Claudius and Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius. (Both of them were also very nice and gave me autographs, and Davies especially was a total sweetheart about the whole thing. I'm going to buy his book now.)

The design also just blew me away. The stage and back wall were reflective, which was used to great effect, making the lights bounce and managing to look both like a symbol of wealth and like something is terribly wrong. Which, you know, fits the play well. The costumes were gorgeous, and the sets hovered just on the edge of being too high budget to make an impact, but didn't cross over it. In fact the whole production was like that; if things had been just a little more done, it would have been too overdone to be interesting, but everything stayed just the right side of the line. I can honestly say it was the first time I've read or seen Hamlet and actually enjoyed it, except for perhaps season one of Slings & Arrows. The only piece that I didn't like was Ophelia, whose sanity was unimpressive and whose madness even more so. But I've never liked her, and anyway you can't have everything.

In other news, they have just cast the new Doctor Who, and I am pleased to announce that he is both young and gorgeous. Listen, I'm going to have a mad crush on whoever plays the Doctor, because I totally love the Doctor in all his forms except Colin Baker. So it's nice when they throw me a bone by casting someone who is not far from my own age and empirically good looking... it makes my obsession easier to explain to my friends.

Finally, to round this out: everyone should go to the library and get a copy of Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader, because it rocks. It'll take you maybe an hour to read and it will improve your outlook on life dramatically. This PSA brought to you free of charge.