Friday, July 31, 2009

More about the Citizen Patriot another day. I'm constantly bemused by their editorials. Yesterday's, for example: Congress wanted to pass a bill lining up successors to House members in case of a full-on attack on the Capitol. The editorial calls this "arcane" and says, "to date, last we checked, this hasn't happened." Sure. Like, on Sept. 10, the Pentagon hadn't been hit by a plane. Archaic. That's a hoot. I must shut up now, or I'll never run out of steam.

Dry Shakespeare

JACKSON, MI--Going to a play by the Bard cold. It's been a while.

Normally, before partaking of the culture that is the Michigan Shakespeare festival, I read the plays beforehand. That is, if I'm not familiar with them/teach them/seen movie versions of them/ bored others to death with my renditions of them. Once, I saw Pericles dry, and had no earthly clue what was going on. Ditto Cymbeline, to a point.

Last night, it was As You Like It. I think I did okay. (It's about two guys in love, right? ...Just kidding.)

The true treat of these plays is in their performance, sure enough. Unless it's something like Hamlet, which, I'm sorry, is impossible to enjoy for a casual theatergoer without an intimate familiarity. Otherwise, why would you care about a single word he says? You'd be shouting from the seats, "Kill the jerk already! My babysitter has to get home at nine!" A fair criticism, to be sure--the comedies, however, in my opinion, are tedious to read. You need a performance to liven things up, to interject feeling and timing into the humor, nuance, facial expressions, physical violence, pratfalls, the scatological, etc. And last night's crew did this to decided success.

The true test of the performance: Do I want to go back and read the play? I do. The Citizen Patriot had a point about the staging and early scenes and music, much though I hate to admit it. But I can forgive such techniques in the face of, off the top of my head, Rosalind's (Jennifer Drew) sheer strength of performance. Watching her snap, "Woo me!" in male guise to the bemused Orlando was worth the price of admission alone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lines of poetry written while stuck on the subway en route to Brooklyn at 4 a.m. because I met Wiggo in Williamsburg and am getting back to Bay Ridge where I will sleep on a hardwood floor on shards of broken glass

The city sleeps well
But I, on this coffin car of death
Hate all equally

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fuck you, Mr. Chips.

Fuck you, Mr. Chips. And fuck your fucking life story.

You had it rough, I grant you. New, apple-cheeked, fresh-faced go-getter arriving at a new school, nervous about discipline. You gave a troublemaker 100 lines to copy after misbehaving, and then had no troubles after that. You bemoan the loss of the boys' friendship; it's the only part of the triumvirate of "respect, obedience and love" that you're missing? Fuck you.

You teach Latin grammar? Dead languages? With no standardized tests to worry about? Fuck you.

You get a hot new wife and she teaches you to be loved? And you're an overnight sensation? Fuck you.

You continue teaching, without worrying about administrators breathing down your neck concerning relevance, learning standards and the like? Fuck you.

You retire and live on school premises, with a woman to cook for you and look after you? Fuck you.

You come back as headmaster in reduced capacity? Fuck you.

You die happy? Fuck you.

You wouldn't last ten minutes in today's schools, Mr. Chips. Conjugate those verbs, asshole.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why I will not go to a bar with half-nude waitresses (more than one or two dozen more times)

Head out to Woodale, and there's not much there. A theater, some overpriced restaurants, a ridiculously small amount of parking, and The Tilted Kilt, a bar trying to pass itself off as Irish the way Hooter's tries to pass itself off as Where-you-can-get-a-good-burger-while-incidentally-ogling-women.

Don't get me wrong--I've got nothing against ogling women. The waitresses at the Kilt wear, for the record, white stockings, short kilts and stomach-less white tops, and I am this close to mandating such a dress code for every outdoor summer festival in town. But even I have my limits. The Kilt, while sporting plentiful eye candy and a variety of Guinness-themed beers, just isn't doing it for me any more. I've only been there a handful of times (like ten or fifty), but like a good soldier, I keep making the half-hour drive out there to see if I can get comfortable with the ambience, the blaring jukebox, the half-tanked fratboys high-fiving each other. And I just can't do it. For reasons I can explain quite succinctly:

The waitresses act like strippers, but they're not strippers. When a scantily-clad woman sits down next to you in a place where alcohol and loud music are prevalent, starts making conversation about your pathetic life, and keeps her eye on the clock, she's either finagling for a tip, trying to elicit a request for a lap dance, or already married to you and enacting some weird role-playing fantasy you cooked up in a weekend marriage seminar. And I'm not good at pretending with stuff like this. When a waitress sat down next to me last weekend and asked how work was going, she visibly flinched when I produced a dollar bill and waved it in her face seductively. That kind of reality I can do without.

The waitresses could be trouble. I'm sure they're legal and everything, but still, young is young, and I don't want to be that Old Guy in the Bar. I'm not that old, but compared to a roomful of undergraduates, I might as well be collecting Social Security. When you can make lewd comments and get away with it, you know it's time to pack it up--only guys who could conceivably carry out such lascivious threats are taken seriously. Besides, you never know these days. The girls could be under eighteen, and I'm a man of values. I wouldn't touch them if they were a day below...twenty-one. Nor would I sit next to them, stroke their legs lightly, yank their hair or drink salted tequila off their flat, toned, tanned stomachs. Not me, sir. No chance.

They don't sell the waitress' outfits. Not that I'd buy one. Or buy one and leave it hanging in the closet. Or feign surprise when the little lady found it. Or feign surprise, get her drunk and dress her up in it. It's just a matter of principle.

There's a reputation that goes with frequenting a place like this. Guilt by association, I'd call it. To paraphrase Ed McBain, if you frequent a whorehouse with a really good magazine rack, you're not going to be known as someone with highbrow literary tastes. You're going to be known as a guy who likes a cheap piece of tail. And if you come out of the Kilt, staggering at two in the morning, they're not going to know about all the historical inaccuracies you pointed out in their menu to anyone who would listen all night ("Braveheart was Scottish, but Michael Collins was Irish and Falstaff was English. What kind of dump is this, anyway?"). They're going to call you a slightly creepy perv. And if they're right, so much the better to give them less to work with.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today: born one niece of yours truly. Avery Jane (name censored), seven pounds, eleven ounces and 22 inches long. All are healthy. She already rocks. This kid will be the Emily Donelson to my Andrew Jackson. Look up the reference yourselves, dimwits.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Missed my opportunity to do something momentous and trivial today:
When the clock hits 34 minutes and 56 seconds past noon today (7/8/09), the time and date together will be 123456789.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Things Sarah Palin can do now that she's resigned from the office of Alaska governor

Kill something with her big gun

Practice Tina Fey impersonation

Find a mirror to start rehearsing speeches in front of

Learn how to use "Find" function in e-mail (as in, Find: "Hire my husband, damn you"), so she can fork over records for those pesky news agencies

Begin rigorous, impassioned reading of Middle East, Russian and American history.

Find alternative phrases for "you betcha"

Look up Wikiarticles on Adam Smith to find out why she supports free markets

Find Levi and beat him to a pulp

Get her book ghostwritten. Crowd aspiring writers out of the literary marketplace