Friday, April 30, 2010


ince I talked about VOTE! yesterday, I thought it was funny to see the first real time I talked about it in my old blog. So I've excerpted it, I really used to be on fire. A part of me misses that. Another part of me is happy to be mellowed out (a little. I mean, I'm pretty sure most people would still put me more on the manic end of the spectrum than the mellow end).

Orginally dated December 4, 2007

What can I say, except that the line between feeling dried out and utterly saturated is very very thin.

More and more, I am channeling my energy, recycling exhaustion back into energy, but all in a chase of the three things I have chased my whole life... to inspire people with Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, to see my work on a Broadway stage and to encounter the kind of love that the mere idea of it makes us both want to be the best people we can be.

ll of these things have been happening in various degrees all my life, but is really the crucial phase.

Each day, I feel it move the earth more, rumbling below the surface. I feel it shake the way things have been, the way the subway shakes the foundation of my building.
 A guess a little explanation: I feel like I work with every waking and sleeping moment of my life. It is absolutely paying off...and when I think about where I was one year ago, it seems like a cut to another movie.

For anyone who could somehow not know, I work on Broadway all day and I write musicals too.
 A producer I used to work with asked me for my project, which is called VOTE!

From there, the big word seemed to be inertia, or I guess momentum, because inertia suggests a certain powerlessness, but the word is certainly true in the sense that a lot of the great things with this project have seemed to catapult themselves simply by their own weight. Sometimes I felt like I was pushing (indeed, I work until 2 AM, I work all day in my mind on it. I always always working), but mostly, I feel like I made some extremely correct decisions, aided by the wisdom, support, and fearlessness of my father and the weight of the material-- without a DOUBT the weight of my life condition; the weight of my daimoku and prayer-- propelled them in the direction I wanted to go.

I know things are really moving when I feel everything. When everything makes me want to cry-- Legally Blonde even!-- when my skin feels as tender as a peach. And every letting go and pushing forward, every song, every strike an
d strike's end has made me long for the first moment I could get myself to my room, all seafoam and white and fresh, to cry.
With things in my life so poised for triumph, it makes the missing of people sharper. Everyone really. Everyone I've lost and not lost, the ones I can't lose and the ones who just can't be here. I feel them there too and...every once in while, if someone tells the right joke, I can hear them laugh, and it breaks my heart that they aren't there for the perfect moment I'm having.

My mind has always spun, and I have often been prone to spinning out of control with it. But more and more, no matter how little sleep I've gotten, when I can wake myself up, as early as I can, to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, the more I feel the words of Nichiren are true: "summon deep faith that Nam Myoho Renge Kyo IS YOUR LIFE ITSELF."

And I experience boundless joy in the law. And even when I feel self-conscious, as though I am reaching past my capabilities, I try to remember that the wise will (Always!) rejoice, while the foolish will retreat.

By challenging my life, these past few months, I have met some of the greatest people in my life so far...some people who redefined my standards, some people who made me understand why the standard I made was worthy of being the standard in the first place, some people who reminded me that I might NOT be an alien after all, people who SELL it, all the time, in great and sincere ways, people who've helped me sell it. Lots of new people. People with joyous, travelling spirits, people who reminded me of random Nevada pride, and Georgia pride, and taught me about Alaska, and planes-- both real and invented. A new person named Charlie Woffinden was born, and even though new, he was one reminder in a daily stream of reminders how much I love the ones who are still around: my heroes- Erin and Emily and Lauren and Texy and my friends from when I first moved here.

In my chase to understand what people say and what they do-- to understand the hearts of others-- my pursuit of dreams, of family, of changing the world, I am in the Second Act. I am both mentor and disciple all the time. A sponge, sometimes dry as bone with nothing to give that day. But mostly, saturated with all that I feel. So full you could wring me out.

And ready. Ready for what's next. For what I deserve. Ready to work. Ready to meet the next great love . Ready to welcome back the old. Always.

Ready to listen to music and to write it. Ready to sing it and to sing it with you.
Ready to talk about anything with you. Who will win the election, my musical, your boyfriend, the best hair products, love, the Saha World, Buddhahood, and the Human Revolution.

And finally, I want to say this: "When we find something important enough that we are not willing to lose it; when we can say that pursuing or keeping this makes us want to be a better person-- that is the moment when Human Revolution begins."

I know the exact day that happened in my life. July 31, 1999. 

But the inertia and momentum of that moment has served as a model for my human revolution in every instance.
While so often I may be like a sponge, my determination? Never. Never dries out. Never saturates.

Earthly desires are enlightenment.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Opinions Are Like...

"If a woman writes about herself, she’s a narcissist. If a man does the same, he’s describing the human condition. But people seem to evaluate your work based on how much they relate to it, so it’s like, well, who’s the narcissist?" 
-- Emily Gould, via Curtis Sittenfield, New York Magazine

One of the things I find odd about being a writer is that people think just because you’re putting it out there, that you’re asking for people’s opinions. I can tell you right now, I read/see/watch a lot of artistic work where a writer is involved and NEVER EVER did I feel I had the authority to personally critic the writer to his or her face. Or even really express them in a public forum. I tend to get very upset when anything is dismissed as “terrible” or “amazing” as a whole, particularly without specifying why, which parts, what about it. Because typically, what  “amazing” or  “terrible” really means is “I liked it,” or “I did not like it.”

Which is to say, we’ve built a certain amount of (to me, nauseating) arrogance into our own opinions (of which, certainly, I have many.) As though we are the standard bearers of taste. So I try to be at least constructive in my opinions about what didn’t work for me.

The ability to comment on things on the internet has made everyone a critic.

No such time was this MORE evident than this past summer, when Steven & I premiered our musical, VOTE!, at the Minetta Lane theatre downtown as part of FringeNYC. They put us in this massive theatre, we had an uber-professional cast, a great website and marketing campaign (it is, after all what I do for a living.) But behind the front we put up, it was still just me and Steven and all the lovely folks we could get to help us for next to nothing.

So while the public seemed to think we were some ready-to-go big guy musical, we were, like everyone else, just a musical in development. My company is not called littlewow productions for nothing. It’s just me, running my little empire from my computer (command center alpha).

I read a great article in New York Magazine this week about a pair of “controversial” female blogger/authors Emily Gould & Meghan Daum. Think what you want about them, or whether the points they make actually apply to them personally, but I think the points they address are valid. Particularly when it comes to the public commentary that arises from people’s writing—especially if it’s in any way personal. Gould said,Or if you write about personal experiences, it’s like people think you want advice about how to live, like you’re holding a public referendum. Recently I read reactions to Sandra Tsing Loh’s Atlantic essay, “On Being a Bad Mother,” and some of the comments were cowardly, bullying, and also weirdly normative and conservative. What on Earth gives people commenting on a blog under aliases the right to judge Sandra Tsing Loh’s parenting skills?”

Here’s the deal—at least with me—and writing: While I am not ruling out a conversation, (Indeed, some of the best things blogs and other pieces of writing have ever done is build a sense of community and dialogue around issues) I don’t write for that reason. I write because I literally cannot stop myself. I don’t do it for your consideration, approval, pity or empathy. Particularly from “people commenting on a blog under aliases.”

Now, I mean this more when it comes to non-internet based endeavors. (On this blog, I most certainly welcome commentary—though it is odd how when I talk about relationships, people seem to want to console me, write to me and tell me that one day, I’ll find the right person—which is certainly not the intent of my discussing relationships at all.)

What I mean when I say non-internet based endeavors is my theatrical works. Sure, we use the internet as a conduit to spread our work to people who wouldn’t normally be able to see it. But it’s not based in the internet, (like a blog) it’s based on the stage. Yet, people use the internet to completely trash things while they’re being developed.

Other than blogs (which are still relatively complete by the time you post them—it’s not like each word you type appears in real time on your blog as you’re typing it) I can think of no other artistic medium that is subjected to criticism so intensely by the public WHILE it’s being developed. Think about if you had post on the internet for everyone to see each chapter of your new novel for every bored/entitled/perhaps well-intentioned, but (probably) ultimately unqualified person to evaluate.

That’s insane. And damaging to the artistic process if you ask me.

Artists create because they HAVE TO…not because they want to know what you think about it. Unless they ask you, in which case, by all means. I do write for fellowship in some way (ah, fellowship, one of my favorite words!) But here's the thing-- if I DON'T LIKE a piece of work, I walk away and leave it alone. I don't call it "AWFUL," I don't go online and smear it, say it's terrible, talk about the writer personally or call them untalented. Who has that kind of energy to spend so much time getting pissed off about what they don't like. I'd rather spend hours and hours articulating what I found AMAZING or what I did like about a piece and why I liked it. If there's something that didn't work for me and I can't walk away, I think of fellowship and try to come up with a great solution using the resources the piece already has available. 

I don't root for anything to fail. Only that the really good stuff be duly rewarded, and that everybody works hard together on the way up and learns a lot. And that's why I like everybody. At least a little bit. 

the real world

"The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you." 

-- from Re-Work, a book I'm not sure I like yet, by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

and I don't even get a free subscription...

Meet Mrs. William McManus, a Vogue fashion editor. She sits on a train, alternating her reading material between a book and a newspaper, in this portrait by Leombruno-Bodi, which appeared the April 15, 1955, Vogue. She wears a long overcoat with piped trim, a small cloche hat, and slightly oversize sunglasses. Punctuating her elegance is an intent expression, making this work not only a historic photograph but also a true study in style.

It's kind of amazing how things can perpetuate themselves on the internet. One inaccurate citation or reference from an official source, then unofficial sources start citing that, another source will link back and link back and link back. All to something incorrect.

Where I'm going with this is a bit of investigative journalism I did when a google search for my great aunt, the staunch & all business Editor of Vogue Magazine from 1952-1963, Jessica Daves, yielded numerous photos of her as a kind of Grace Kelly look-alike model. There are very few pictures of Jessica Daves (or Aunt E/Ainee, as she was known in our family, although no one can seem to remember why). She was no frills.  She was an editor and business woman, not a style icon.

Which is why I was truly shocked that the above woman was shown over and over again as my aunt (because, in truth, Jessica Daves looked more like Coco Chanel than she did Grace Kelly.) Don't get me wrong, I would be honored for this gorgeous, glamorous, well-dressed woman to be my's just that she isn't.

Nevertheless, for many months now, I have been trying to get to the bottom of this. For a moment, I thought perhaps I was wrong. All the pictures I had ever seen of Ainee were from when she was older. Perhaps, she really had been a dish in her youth. But they kept saying she had married a Mr. McManus. Uncle Robert's last name was Parker. But... maybe she had been married twice and we just didn't know it.

Mrs. William H. McManus (née Jessica Daves) dances with a gentleman companion in this delightfully romantic photograph. The Vogue editor wears a full-length organdy ball gown, with a pleated skirt and fascia top. She finishes the look with a rhinestone necklace and earrings, and dramatically long gloves. Roger Prigent's photograph appeared in the April 15, 1952, Vogue.

So I kept digging and finally found even more photos identifying this woman as Mrs. McManus (nee' Jessica Daves) Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine in the Conde Nast Photo Archives!

Who was William H. McManus? Certainly not my uncle, Robert. McManus, as it turns out, was one of the co-founders of JC Penney. And this may be his wife, & she may have even actually been named Jessica Daves (surprisingly little biographical info on McManus, actually) and this woman may have even been some kind of fashion editor at Vogue. But she isn't Jessica Hopkins Daves, granddaughter of the founder/first president of Georgia Tech, from Cartersville, GA--that's for sure. 

Somehow, Conde Nast, followed by a whole heap of blogs, has rewritten history a bit, albeit for the more glamorous. I wish there were more available information about a super great lady who called Coco Chanel & Yves St. Laurent as her two best friends. There are a few articles that I know I have somewhere in my archives of family history (I've always been the family historian-- it started with my first novel, and I subsequently made my grandmother trek me across the entirety of Georgia). If I can find them & dig them out, I'll scan them. My favorite picture is of her at some awards dinner with Yves on one side and Coco on the other. Amazing. But in the mean time, this will have to do. 
Yes, in real life, she was married to novelist Robert Allerton Parker & owned an amazing Park Avenue home that we somehow sold at the worst possible time (the 70's!) much to the chagrin of my cousin Lindsey and me. She wrote & was editor to several books including the massive The World In Vogue & Ready-Made Miracle. She had no children and she died in 1974. She's buried next to Uncle Robert in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Bartow County, Georgia. 

And though she built an empire, shored up Vogue's finances & did what had to be done without much concern for being  fabulous, mostly people just talk about Diana Vreeland. 

But I am proud to be her relative, even if she wasn't a Grace Kelly. It's an interesting phenomenon, our need to romanticize our past, our role models-- especially our female role models. And I sure hope all this perpetuating of her as a model model isn't some way to re-write history to help her fit into the mold of other editors who hid behind huge sunglasses. In fact, I feel certain Ainee never hid behind anything in her life. She was the one who always said, "Don't worry about what the dress code for an event is. If you wear a hat, a hat is the dress code. If you are casual, the dress code is casual. What you're wearing is what everyone else should be wearing."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength." 
— August Wilson

Monday, April 26, 2010

emily violet the most beautiful wonderful best friend anyone could ever ask for. I have remarkable, inspirational friends. They're all going to make really great mothers too (some of them already are).

Emily and I have had so many adventures over the years-- we were both so klutzy as kids. We'd do somersaults into furniture, fall down stairs, dance like spazzes. We'd sit in her driveway with the back hatch of her parents suburban open, just hanging out, doing nothing or listening to the car stereo, pretending we were old enough to drive.

It was with Emily, not even my dad, when I first listened to the Beatles "White Album." It was at her house, on the golf course in her back yard where I had my first kiss. And where I learned to play pool. And to make a perfect salad. And to appreciate good coffee. And good bed linens. And to laugh with total freedom and lack of concern for what anyone thought about it. And to write long letters-- my first one was to her when we were in a fight, but I never gave it to her.

 For a long stretch in junior high and high school, we were indistinguishable on the phone. We sounded alike, our mannerisms were the same, our humor the same.

At her wedding, I quoted my favorite passage from A Separate Peace (which, along with A Prayer For Owen Meany, are the best novels about friendship ever written) where Gene realizes that Phineas had never seen any separation between the two of them. That he saw Gene as an extension of himself. Which has always been true for me of Em. Her happiness is my happiness and her struggles I share with her too.

The lovely Corinne took these amazing photos of Emily and TL. They made my day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

rainy sunday

it's a rainy sunday here in NYC and I'm off to a bridal shower. It's going to be a big season of weddings this year. I think I'm prepared. But it's days like this that remind me of what I have to look forward to... dreamy drizzly days in warm socks with tea and books and writing and friends. Five months from right now, I'll be Scotland. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

astoria park the winter vs. in the spring. Even though I lost my keys there on my run today, (that's what I get for putting them in my bra) no matter the season, I love Astoria Park!

Last night, I went on a boat concert/cruise with for my old pal, Dion Roy. (Aly & Erin were there too) I wanted to post a picture of us from the old days. Which leads to my plans for tonight-- I'm reliving my early days in NYC with a WMDs concert at Rockwood. Ah those good old days. Although, in this pic of me, Dion & Aly, you can still see the last traces of my black eye. Because I'm facing un-injured side to the camera, you can't really see the big gash in my head. Which is a story for another time. A little story we like to call "Drugged, Mugged & Slugged." Anyhow, off to enjoy the rest of this beautiful Saturday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Like Getting Hit By an Ice Cream Truck

It seems like everyone I know has been getting kicked in the teeth lately. All my emotions seem to be pouring out to my friends who need all the support they can get. So much so, that I don’t seem to have any feelings about my own life. Only on behalf of others (which, to be honest, is a real nice change of pace!) Learning about people’s struggles is a truly truly humbling thing. I mean, suffering is suffering is suffering and it’s pretty much futile to sit around comparing people’s suffering. But from amazing parenting of preemies, to divorces, to volunteering in Haiti,  to beautiful new babies being born, it’s hard to take my own suffering too seriously. Because really, it’s a mixed bag. The compelling part about life (this is such a writer thing to think) is how nothing ever seems to fall on one side of the fence or the other. The gray areas, the catch 22s, the lowest lows paired with highest highs. (It’s negative capability, man!)

It’s like getting hit by an ice cream truck.

Which reminds me of this that I wrote & experienced pretty much 3 years ago to the day at Erin’s wedding weekend. I'm sending it out now as a dedication to my friends who are struggling. 
A tough critic of mine at the time read this blog and said, “You know, Ryann, I disagree with almost everything you think. But the way that you think… you might be my hero.” I was always unsure if that was meant as a compliment or not, but I chose to look at it as a compliment. Just like I choose to focus on the ice cream and not the broken bones.


Originally dated may 3rd, 2007
Like Getting Hit By an Ice Cream Truck
Last weekend, I was so full, and my heart was so pressed upon, I could scarcely breathe. Even now, recalling it, I have a hard time coping with the amount of love that flows through me, and have often not known the way to give it.
Sometimes, I feel like the world asks a lot of me. And I was angry at the world for denying me the one thing I felt for sure I was meant to have. To be sure, the one thing I desired most. This weekend, I felt like the world was really rubbing my nose in it. In all that love I have for Erin and Joel… and Emily… and Tex. Exploiting my love of Erin, and using it as another way to break my heart about Tex and wave it in my face that my love was unrequited. I had a few moments there where I somehow managed to forget how magical and miraculous the moment I was experiencing was...
What I failed to really realize, what I could not believe because it had never been told to me in a way I could believe, is that my love was never unrequited. It was always returned, but in his way, not mine. 
My dad brought up something that next morning when I talked to him. When my grandmother Mary married her new husband, after my grandfather died, she said, "It's not in spite of my love for your Grandfather that I can love Tom, it's because of it."
What I realized is that for the last 8 years, I have been operating under the mistaken conclusion that because my heart hurt so bad, that meant that it must be broken. That I must be damaged goods in some way.
And while the ache was real, rather than being broken, it was actually just the growing pains of a heart stretching larger. The more I loved him, the more it pushed at the seams, the more it hurt. The more I think on it, the more I can't help but grow, as well, in my gratitude for that love. 
And now, I think that a great love is not someone to overcome or get over at all, but wellspring that allowed me to realize how capable of loving I really am.
That I will love someone more than I can even imagine not because I overcame my love for Tex, but because I never did. Because I refused to stop. And why should I want to? And if I did, could you even still call it love?
No, instead, I would just grow with the years, and transform its shape for the present. For years and years, I thought I had to get rid of my love for him in order to really love someone else. That I had to clean out my heart in order to make enough room.
But this weekend, I learned how much room there is in my life. My underlying fear in stopping loving him, ending my book, ending ANYTHING…was that I would lose this amazing presence in my life. I realize now that instead of expunging in order to find the love of the rest of my life, I need to build on it. Use the love I learned to give as the foundation for love in the rest of my life. A spring board. Because I have loved and still love him, I love. 
I love my life, and my place in the world and the place I know I will get to. Because I loved one person, it is PROOF I will love more., to pick myself up, scrape off the gravel, and start eating all the ice cream that is all over the street. Yum.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

monarch of the glen

I've been obsessed lately with an amazing Scottish television show, "Monarch of the Glen." It's campy, it's sooooo 2000, and yet it's filled with astute social commentary on the clash of modern Scotland with it's traditional past. Originally, it aired on BBC Scotland, and now thanks to the wonders of Netflix, I can watch it in my robe on my laptop each evening.

See the above segment where the aging old laird of the Glenbogle castle & his aristocratic neighbor friend, Kilwillie, (played by fantastic Oscar winning writer/actor Julian Fellowes) try to consume a 30 year old cask of single malt whisky that they'd tucked away in the 70's.

The young Laird, Archie, is trying to modernize the property (not to mention, keep the place from drowning in debt) so he's hidden the cask from his father so he can sell it to Sotheby's after learning it went for about $600 a bottle (20 bottles in the cask.)

The kind of RIDICULOUS caper Kilwillie & Hector go on (or launch the cask on) all while Archie trying to interview new ranger candidates is just such a delight. Oh, the leisure classes. It's literally like the cask has a mind of it's own. I particularly like all the foley treatment gurgling sound effects they've added as the scotch barrel rolls all over the Highlands. Amazing.

If you love some quirky screwball Scottish comedy (juxtaposed with those tough culture-at-a-crossroads kinds of questions) then you might love "Monarch of the Glen" as much as I do :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

addicted to florence + the machine

I have this feeling that Florence is so delightfully weird in real life. She's got all these random covers floating around. Many of them from her myspace page where she's basically just karaoke-ing it up in her dressing room. I recommend her freestyling on En Vogue & Madonna.

babies & james Part Two

Those nights alone with James Taylor seem to last forever. The hours between midnight and eight never used to seem so endless. She remembers nights alone in her bedroom with Karen. Her sister would sleep and Mom would sleep and everyone would sleep. Dad was probably sleeping, too, but he wasn’t down the hall like the rest. But Deb would stay awake as long as she could because she could hum her songs and not work at anything. When everyone who knew her was asleep, she was anybody she wanted. She was a millionaire or married to one and draped in jewels. And she gave to charities. And she never went back to Oregon. She was sixteen and she was timeless. But these nights in California weren’t like back in Oregon. She couldn’t lie still for hours anymore. She had to move. In all her hours with James, she felt she must have aged five years each night.  
*     *     *

Monday, April 19, 2010

ain't no doubt in no one's mind that love's the finest thing around

"I didn't have a home, but that doesn't keep you from being homesick sometimes."

Here's the intermission from "Babies & James" so I feel like it's only appropriate that we get a little bit of this.

Indeed, I feel like I can't talk about my parents or my family without talking about James Taylor & this song in particular. When I talk about the music of my life, I talk a lot about how Duncan Sheik was the first music I ever chose for myself that's stayed with me my whole life. Jimmy T is the other book end to that. James Taylor is the first music passed down to me. It's the first music I can remember.

I end up telling this story a lot too, as part of my personal mythology, although sometimes I wonder if my mom just made it up-- that Rick Marotta, JT's drummer, told my parents when I was six months old that when I was 16, he was going to marry me. I think it worked out better that he didn't, but JT's music is certainly, permanently in my orbit.

He's kind of like a kaleidoscope for me, in that-- move the pieces around just a little-- a different day, a different version-- and he can remind me of each one of my family members for different reasons.

Most importantly, the thing about JT, the thing that I think I look for more than anything else in musicians is a kind of interpretive story telling. Details. Ad libs. The extra things. I believe that the soul lives there. And for me, he's the tops. The number one interpreter of songs.

Oddly enough, one of my favorite versions is with the Dixie Chicks, (they wouldn't let me embed) some other truly fine interpreters of songs. For fun, I also recommend JT's live version from Edinburgh Castle for Hogmanay 1997

The conclusion of "Babies & James" tonight when I get home...

babies & james Part One

"It's been a holy host of others standing around me/still I'm on the dark side of the moon/and it seems like it goes on like this forever, oh/so you must forgive me/ if I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind"

Fumbling through tapes without cases, Deb snatches at that one: yeah, the live album. Her vodka and cranberry will leave a ring mark on the stereo when she rests it there to begin her dance. On side A, she starts with “Carolina in My Mind,” her favorite. When she listens to James Taylor, Deb can remember back to a time when she wasn’t thirty years old and strapped to a sick little kid. She moves her head back and forth, stumbling over her own feet some, partly because she has had a few drinks, but mostly because she is into it. Touching her short, thinning hair, Debi moves all around and turns the volume up all the way up.
      James Taylor makes her think of sex. Maybe it was just that all music, every song seemed to be about her. She thinks about how so many songs have captured her emotions, or inspired her emotions. Sweet Baby James is calling that raw sensation from within her, and with every blast of Russ Kunkel’s drums, she can feel that Carolina summer of 1976 when she had it all. 
*      *      *

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the weariness, the fever & the fret

"Didn't know I could sing, did you?"
Okay, so short story time. I'm going to start posting "Babies & James," the short story I wrote my freshman year of college for Marsha Recknagel (I've since re-written several times.)

It was probably the first thing that made anyone pay attention to me as a writer (and lord knows, I've just been asking everyone to pay attention my whole life!). I basically had to fight my way into that class freshman year, since Marsha normally didn't take freshmen. But of course, audacious and unstoppable as I was at the time, I walked into that teeny tiny classroom in Fondren Library armed with the fat block of 300 pages that was my first novel and a speech about why she should allow me in. 

She spent the whole class talking about how she wouldn't take freshmen (I suppose, really, what do most freshman have to write about) and gesticulating with her very distinctive hands.

Anyhow, after the class was over, I waited and slammed my book down on her podium and gave my speech. Another freshman, this kick-ass kid named Rolf, also stayed. When I was done rambling, Rolf added, "yeah, I want to get in too." And she just let us! All that and the whole thing was just a deterrent for the meek!

That was a great class. This story actually came out of an assignment to write a story from the point of view of someone we hated. At the time, I thought I hated my mom, so this was originally a first person pov story. There was a lot it gained from that, but ultimately, most of what was so sad of the story you missed out on, because you had to be able to see Deb both as she sees herself and how she really is. A lot of this is true, but I've taken a lot of liberties as well.

It's a long one, so I'll be posting it in installments over the next couple of days. I'll leave you with this image for now, before I post the first installment. It's my favorite picture of my mom. Everything I like to remember about her is distilled down to this one image.

Friday, April 16, 2010

inside out

I love music for many of the obvious reasons that almost everyone loves music. Chiefly, that it can manipulate our emotions. But for me, I think it’s even more concrete than that. Certain sounds, certain songs actually simulate exact feelings for me. Or specific people. I have said since the moment I first heard Grizzly’s Bear’s “Two Weeks”  that the song sounds like a how I want all of life to feel.

Some songs sound like how certain people make me feel. 

I like Katie Costello. I suppose she’s not a visionary or anything. She’s not reinventing the wheel. But I think (especially for being about 20 years old) she’s a good song writer with that soothing female-voiced indie pleasantness that I like to be surrounded by. Why? I suppose that’s what my life actually does sound like to me.

But this song, “Inside Out” is my favorite of hers. Largely because it sounds to me the way it feels hanging out with this one friend of mine. Familiar, like your own mind—"was that your thought or mine?"—but surprising to you, in a way you didn’t know you could be surprised. Blushing almost.  Lyrically, yes, but more than that. That lightly bouncing cello, intense but not,  a swell, a recede, a sort of mellow turmoil, that pushing up against the boundaries of your heart just a bit, a teeny bit of kazoo for fun. And what a lovely service, to know that when life makes it that you can’t always hang out with the people you want to, you can almost simulate the feeling. It’s not even that you like the song that much. It’s that you like the feeling.

I don’t like this live version as much as I like the studio version (kazoo missing) so I highly recommend just getting her album if you’re into it. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

O, for a beaker full of the warm South, full of the true

Less than 2 months until the amazing Steamboat Springs Band Reunion in Myrtle Beach. My uncle has spent the last few months taking the tape from recordings in the mid '70s during their hey-day and  digitizing them, such as the above recording.

I'm excited about this reunion for many reasons. It's a vacation, it's family reunion, it's Summertime in the South. 

But beyond that, I feel like it's a window into my father's life. A window into my family as a whole, actually, since the success my dad had with this band was kind of a family affair. That's when my parents met. Through my maternal aunt. On my dad's side, it brought out parental fear from my grandparents (which I suppose all parents have when their children are in the arts-- how will they eat???-- hahaha). That conflict seemed to bond them or define their relationships. It got my aunt and uncle involved. And if I understand the stories correctly, it seems as though, somewhere at the height of it all, it brought the whole family together. And I think they all felt proud and part of something. At least, that's how it goes in my head. 

But considering that my dad is my best friend, it's weird to think that I never met my best friend as a young man. I can see him in my mind. But I'd like to have met him.

And now it feels like I can. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm on itunes

We've made it! Steven & I were  honored to be a part of such a fun and meaningful theatre community project, The Battery's Down, created by our hilarious friend, Jake Wilson.

Our fun little number, "Video Chat," was in the Season 2 Premiere last April. For a 45 second song, I think Steven & I got a lot out of it. Most of the appeal was visual, so definitely check out the episode especially to see the adorable faces of Andrew, Nina, Jake and Cortney. Andrew's lines in the scene before the song crack me up EVERY TIME!!

And we were honored again to be included as a bonus track on the brand new soundtrack for Season 2. I hate to implore, but please buy this album. I will actually make money if this album makes money. All the songs are written by wonderful theatre writers, some of whom have Pulitzers! And they're all my wonderful friends.

You can buy a hard copy of the album on the Sh-K-Boom Records site. Or if you can't buy the whole album, please buy at least MY SONG-- it's only 99 cents! Thanks in advance :)

And look at all this ink we're getting:


Well, I didn't get fame or fortune in old New York. But I did get some mighty fine friends. Even if they do tweet inappropriate and embarrassing (false) things about you....sigh.... here are some highlights from highlands.

above photo by Peter Sheik
...and some Bryan Ferry Roxy Music. From one of my most recent favorite film scenes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

american idiot

Tonight, I'm going to see American Idiot at the St. James Theatre. I've heard reviews on both sides of the fence and everywhere in between, but I have a feeling I will like it. That's not to say that I'm going to think it's theatre at  it's best. But I have a feeling it's going to fill a void of a particular kind of show right now that I think Broadway always needs one of-- an angst-y show. A loud show. Something convulsing.

I mean, about half the cast comes straight from my favorite angst-y show, Spring Awakening, (same director too) so I'm sure that says something.

From what I've heard, too, I think Tom Kitt did a phenomenal job on the orchestrations. And who doesn't love great orchestrations, RIGHT?!? And, btw, congrats, Mr. Kitt on your PULITZER effing PRIZE. That little ol' prize has been on my super short list of lifetime goals for about ever, so it's always motivating to see another theatre guy pulling in the big fish. Even though, true to form, the Pulitzer for Drama is less than the others, at $10,000. But hey, I'd take it. You could still say you won a Pulitzer.

Edited: post show-- Tom Kitt is the MVP of this show. And directors aren't writers. That's where I'll stop.

Why Stop Now?

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