Friday, November 30, 2007

News from the Front

Adam, My-Recognized-By-The-State-Of-California-Domestic-Partner, had a run-in with Carson Daly.

He had this to say:

I was picketing at NBC today and the WGA organizers instructed us to be on the lookout for a black Cadillac Escalade with a bike rack. It's Carson Daly's car, and he was returning to work today for the first time since the strike started. They were determined to try and stop him. At about 2:30 they got word that his car had driven past one of the gates but had not turned in. Then they realized that there was no one picketing at Gate 3, which is a card entry only gate. They sent three of us from Gate 1 up there at a sprint, and within 5 minutes of getting there we saw his car. He was being driven by a driver, and he cruised by us, saw us picketing, and kept going. We were psyched, but then a few minutes later he was back. We stood in his path, but his window was cracked and we all distinctly heard him tell his driver, "Keep driving." And he did! He slowed down a little, but he kept coming at us. I finally had to move out of the way, but we all were yelling and pleading with him to reconsider going back to work, and to please honor our picket line, and he was really hurting our cause, etc. But he didn't respond. In the mean time, a security guard had appeared at the gate, the guard opened the gate and Carson's car drove on. A big bummer and highly dramatic.

Which ended up in the news:

By GARY GENTILE, AP Business Writer

Meanwhile, protesting writers converged on NBC's studios in suburban Burbank to rally against restarted production of the late-night show "Last Call With Carson Daly."
Several people said Daly circled the Burbank lot before entering a gate with no pickets.
Adam Waring, who has written for the sitcom "Two and a Half Men," said he and two other writers dashed around a corner to intercept Daly.
"We stood in front of his car, and he told his driver to keep going," Waring said, adding that protesters had to move out of the way.

This strike is working. An agreement will be reached. Carson Daly, whatever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Power Ballads and Cheesy Ditties at CAFE MUSE



Friday, December 7 at 9PM at CAFÉ MUSE you’ll have the chance to sing your favorite big songs. The cheesier the better. All power ballads welcome!

You are the immediate entertainment at Café Muse, owned and run by our very own Jennifer Ritchkoff and Crystal Jackson.

There’s a stage area, a great sound system, and lots of food, right on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood next door to The Hudson Theatre.

Music starts at 9PM. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to come a little early, around 8 or so, to let me take a look at what I’ll be banging out on the piano. It would be even better if you pdf’d me your music or dropped me a copy. ALL MUSIC MUST HAVE GUITAR CHORDS written over the music. Since this is a guerilla entertainment-fare, open mikey night, there is no time to practice and the chords over the music make this possible. If you have any questions as to what music with guitar chords look like, IT LOOKS LIKE THIS . Chords without the little guitar fingering boxes are totally fine, and your sheet music would LOOK LIKE THIS. If your music does not have chords, I can’t play it. If you have a special song you want to play and sing, by all means, step up!

In any event. Pick something, with chords, and maybe practice a little. It’s going to be a big fun Open Mike Night. All levels of talent and confidence are welcome. You can even bring extra music for those who forgot. Give someone a chance to shine. If you don’t sing at all, come and listen.

For song ideas, why not check out The Entertainment Weekly Ultimate Cheesy Ballad Playlist

So bring me a copy of your tunes sooner or later in the next week, or show up early to Café Muse on Friday, December 7....and support this fabulous, new, happening watering hole. It’s cool.

Location: Café Muse

Margot at the Wedding

You might not be inclined to like it, but there are not many literate movies made in The United States, so get open to it. Fork over your cash and your time and go see Margot at the Wedding. The acting is a huge leap above most of the gun and tit stuff out there. It is completely natural while being exceptionally articulate. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are brilliant as sisters, one in the throes of getting married, the other divorced. The jagged line of simultaneous love and hatred in their relationships to each other and to the men in their lives has never appeared more real to me. Soft edges. Harsh realities. Nice house on The Sound.

The plot is wee, which gives the movie plenty of breathing room. There are sinister happenings all around the perimeter. Bad neighbors. A dead rat at the bottom of a pool. A funky nighttime parade, for what? It all adds to the texture.

I liked this movie better than The Squid and The Whale, Noah Baumbach’s other literary film. The adults receive the bulk of the attacks in this current offering. You want to get up and fight, too, with abandon.

You could wait and watch Margot at the Wedding at home, like I did, (Thank you WGA for the screener), and have a perfectly good time, rewinding back to the funniest lines to hear them again, but why not support the business that supports this kind of film making and get ye to a theatre and pay full retail? It’s shot so lovely, all brownish and wan. And they don’t make many movies about complicated people who read. Do not mistake the privilege with preciousness. Advantaged people suffer, too. So richly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pyramid Servers

Like the slaves building the pyramids, we’re the culture that is building the Servers.

They’ll be amazed that we got down to the task just as we are amazed that people built Teti.

And when all information is transmitted by hair or earlobes, the Servers will be beautiful to us, as an artifact, the spread out monolith of the past. They will also make us sad because no matter how permanent they are, the people who built them will have long ago perished.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Extremists? Okay, fine. I will not be hyperbolic here in a sophomoric comparison that pits religious nuts who like to kill people to standard American lunatics.


Aren’t we, too, quite extreme? The incredible greed of CEO’s?
Those who aspire to severe thinness by dismissing all carbohydrates?
Those who knock down their 4000 square foot house to build a 6000 square foot house?
Those who cannot stop eating and look so uncomfortable in airplane seats?
Those who believe in hell and believe that anyone who does not believe what they believe will go straight to it?

These are very extreme conditions. So easily witnessed in our country.

It is very interesting to me that the primate mind can be imprinted for almost anything. So though it is surprising to me, the forms of extremism that people engage in, it needn’t be. It’s a world of great variety.

I am particularly uneasy with people in other countries, no matter how far they are from my backyard, who want to kill me simply because I am an American, non-religious, what-have-you. But the lack of moderation in our country, by our own citizens, right in my face, terrifies me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


As we gather up our things for a flight to the great frozen Northwest, I must stop--simply stop and think for what I am grateful. I could make an endless list. I will not.

Everything is everything. No need to divide it up. There is something larger I am up to.

I am thankful that I am here. I haven’t had any life scare or any religious conversion. I am simply thankful that I am here at all, that anyone is here at all. I live very close to a neighborhood in Los Angeles called Miracle Mile.

I know I often carry on like a weary misanthrope. It’s often in jest. Often, it is justified. Cranky complainers are just failed romantics. But for one week, this week, I am going to accept that being here awakens my gratitude. Fill up with that. And pie.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. The blog will return on Monday.

Personal Recommendation: Mary and John, enjoy every minute of Paris.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Scooter, Libby rate me.

I need a lightweight scooter. Something quiet that runs on geothermal energy or bird songs.

Lately, I’ve been taking the metro around. I’ve actually had four different reasons to go to downtown Los Angeles this week. I’ve taken the metro three times. The metro is the easy part. What is difficult is getting there.

I live 1.8 miles from the Hollywood/Highland station. Red Line. It takes twenty-five minutes to walk there, no matter how many times I tell people it takes twenty minutes.

On the other end, I have been luckier. The locations have been closer to my final stop. Tonight, we had an uproariously tasty book club for a book about sociopaths who live right next door (Mary made short ribs. Thanks, Mary) and I took the Red Line to Union Station and the Gold Line to Highland Park. Upon arrival, I walked for thirty minutes to Mary’s house in Monterey Hills. The walk takes you over the 110 Freeway on an old, narrow bridge, through Hermon, whatever that means, and down Collis Avenue to Mary’s and John’s lovely home on the edge of a coyote infested hill. Also known as Elephant Hill. Do a search in the upper left corner of this blog for Elephant Hill and you can see the picture of it.

It was a great walk. I wanted to walk. I needed to walk. I have been sitting at my computer for days on end.

However, the whole one way trip to Monterey Hills took me one hour and forty-five minutes.

Of course, I was waylaid by an event that was happening at the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Was it for an awards show? A trade show? Victoria Secret? It was hard to tell. Everything has the same Gestapo ring about it at the Kodak. I had to enter the maze mall that horseshoe engulfs the Kodak because I could not cross the fifteen feet of sidewalk that was being saved for the event. Upon entering the mall in order to get to the train entrance, it was almost impossible to get through all sorts of security guards. A wretched woman would not let me cross a fifteen feet section of hall at the top of the stairs. I asked her how I could get to the subway. She responded, “We don’t have a subway.”

I wanted to kill her. “Okay, the Metro.”

She went on about how she didn’t know and how she had to check with someone and there is another bridge I could cross over to get there. She went to check with another guard. Then, a citizen told me what to do (take the bridge) and I did it. It was like one of those dreams where you can’t get where you are going.

Next time, I’ll take a different route.

But really, it would not have been so frustrating if I had zipped up there more quickly and had more time to deal with these keepers-of-the-exclusive event. I need a scooter. A quiet, lightweight, solar scooter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Praying for Rain

The governor of Georgia has incited a prayer vigil for rain.

The common denominator of most contempt is a hatred of stupidity. But most people disagree upon what actually is stupid.

Prayer vigils for rain, much like rain dancing, rattling rain rattles and the sacrificing of virgins in volcanoes for precipitation, is pretty much a moronic activity.

The smartest thing someone said about this praying for rain is, "It unifies us." I can see that. Maybe if everyone bows their heads together in utmost shame for their disregard for the earth, they might send brain waves toward each other that penetrate the moronia and then stimulates the practical spheres of gray matter...into logical problem solving. For this, I am optimistic.

And maybe people are so anxious and operate so completely from fear and greed that they need prayer to slow their minds down, to find the section that is rational, connected to the planet. Okay, fine, fine.

But baby dolls, ain't this all like closing the door long after the horse has already escaped from the barn?

I love Georgia. I've spent a lot of face time there with motherly waitresses and friendly linemen in Waffle Houses from Valdosta to Atlanta. I love the slowness and the open hospitality. Savannah is beautiful.

But, man, what kind of people, long after Voltaire's enlightenment, what kind of people swam to these shores?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Standing Ovation: The Fat of the Land

Dan Alemshah was nominated for an LA Ovation Award, the biggest awards West of The Hudson River for Theatre, for best featured actor, Claudia Vestibule, in my play THE FAT OF THE LAND. We went. I had a feeling he would win in a tie. And he did. It was such a big fun deal!

The awards took place at The Orpheum in downtown LA on Broadway. An enormous theatre, filled with enormous energy---all the theatre people of Los Angeles. From The Mark Taper Forum to The Geffen to the Rubicon to our little production at The New Theatre. It was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris with great lightness and jaunty jibes about the Writers’ Guild strike. Annette Benning gave a speech, accepting the Special Career Achievment Award. Great voice and beautiful, as always. Funky dancers from The Hysterica Dance Company performed throughout as deliverers of the statues and removers of the banners, one banner for each category. It was easy to tell how much longer the show was going to be by how many banners were left.

When Dan’s category came up and he was announced as the winner, we all just kind of spontaneously cried and whooped. Dan gave a beautiful speech, starting immediately with, “Everything starts with the words and if it wasn’t for Don Cummings’ great play...” Then Dan continued to thank Mary McBride for producing and acting. And of course the other actors, his parents, his partner. He was poised and lovely.

It’s fun when you get nominated. It’s really fun when your actor wins. Completely enjoyable evening. I highly recommend these kind of experiences.

I would also like to thank Adam Waring, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, for doing all the administrative work and for the wrangling of the Ovation crowd during the run of the show. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you West Coast Ensemble for the original workshop and for the great cast with Ross Kramer directing and thank you Billy Hopkins for the reading at E.S.T. in New York with that amazing cast and thank you Kelly Ford for directing the world premiere and the great, great, amazing cast at The New Theatre. And the unbelievable Crystal Jackson for holding it all together.

Click here and scroll down to see Dan’s gorgeous tranny face! The Fat of the Land on MySpace


Monday, November 12, 2007

Devils in the Family

Most of my childhood after school was spent reading, arranging the decorations in my aquarium and playing the guitar. My teacher was Mrs. Wermus, a fabulous woman who smoked Moore cigarettes, during lessons too. Her husband, Harry Wermus, was an amazing man, extremely generous and kind. My brother and I used to do some yard work for him when we were teenagers and he overpaid us, more than double what would be considered the correct fee. When I had an interview for Cornell University, senior year of high school, Harry drove me up and back (eight hours total) in one day. He was full of great stories. He was worldly. He was warm. He died over ten years ago. I often think about him.

Harry had a first cousin who was like a brother to him. His name is Sydney Lumet. Harry told me how their relationship dissolved once Sydney became successful. This was sad for Harry and I could understand. I once had a very close friend, let’s call her Alanna Duggins, whose star ascended while mine stalled out and I felt abandoned and sad. But that was nothing compared to what Harry went through when his first cousin and closest relative gave Harry and everyone else in the Wermus family the heave-ho.

Of course, there are two sides to every story and one day, I’d love to find out what Sydney Lumet has to say about all of this. But it would be hard to listen objectively, since Sydney looks so much like Harry that all I would do is think about Harry.

Tonight, we went to see his film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

It is so grim. It is so good. A crime gone completely wrong. A family of such enormous trouble. It’s Greek tragedy, the basic premise being, “Crime doesn’t pay,” with the family part hard driving the whole thing. The genius is in the telling. The long slow shots. The acting, which is meted out sublimely by EVERYONE. The big cars that make the whole thing seem a bit 1973. The fabulous class conscious design. The smart-as-hell script. One hates to reveal anything about this movie at all. Just go check it out. But when you’re done, go home and watch something light and fluffy. You’ll need it.

One of the greatest movies ever made, of course, is Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon. It’s one of the few movies that I’ll watch once a year. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead has a similar thrust. It's not quite as good, but it’s better than most stuff that is being made these days.

Sydney Lumet...I wish you were still hanging out with Harry when I was a kid so I could have met you. But maybe you were just too busy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hollywood Never Changes

It was the screenwriter William Goldman who described the single most important fact about the movie industry as "nobody knows anything," with the corollary that its executives "must get results -- now -- or they're gone." ---Joseph Schuman, The Wall Street Journal Online

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tonight: One Night Only


Reading From his Memoir, OPEN TRENCH--the inspiration for the Blog--one night only! Selections include “Whatever Happened to Cousin Mickey?” and “Mexicrap
Wednesday, NOVEMBER 7 @ 7:30 @ A Different Light Bookstore
8853 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA

A Different Light Bookstore

Event Location

The Third Promising Reading Will Take Place
at A Different Light Bookstore

The Promising Series is the only reading series in Los Angeles that exclusively features Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender writers. A goal for the series is to celebrate established writers and introduce the next generation of writers that will explore the GLBT experience. The next reading will be held on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 7:30pm.

“The Promising Series has attracted a standing room only crowd,” said series coordinator Noël Alumit. “And the people coming aren’t necessarily gay or lesbian. They come because the work presented is awesome.”

The November 7th reading will feature:

Terry Wolverton is author of six books: Embers, a novel-in-poems; Insurgent Muse: life and art at the Woman's Building, a memoir, Bailey's Beads, a novel; and three collections of poetry: Black Slip, Mystery Bruise and Shadow and Praise. A new novel, The Labrys Reunion, will be published in 2008. She has also edited fourteen literary anthologies, including Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing center in Los Angeles, where she teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

Don Cummings is a playwright, essayist and blogger. His critically acclaimed plays have been produced in such venues as Soho Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Turnip Theatre Festival, Lake Ontario Playhouse, on the east coast; HBO Workspace, Theater/Theatre, West Coast Ensemble, The New Theatre, The Moving Arts Theatre, The Tamarind Theatre, The Powerhouse Theatre on the west coast. Titles include The Fat of the Land, American Air, What Do Men Live By?, Stark, Raving, Mad, The Winner and A Good Smoke.

Carlos Cabrera was born and raised in Los Angeles. He holds a BA in English from UCLA and will start an MFA program in poetry at Cornell University in 2008. His first book of poems, The Peacock's Song: A Poem in Seventeen Syllables, will be published in early 2008. He lives in West Los Angeles with Dorian, his suspiciously intelligent three-year-old cat.

Collins Carter has two selves—a former and a current. The former self was a stand-up comedienne for ten years, an actress and a morning show host for an alternative radio station. The current self chooses to express herself solely through her pen and pad. She is working on a collection of short stories and preparing her novel, Eating the Apple, for publication. Her body resides in Los Angeles, but her mind lives anywhere it desires.

Noël Alumit wrote the novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon. He wrote and performed the solos shows The Rice Room: Scenes from a Bar and Master of the (Miss) Universe.

The Promising Series will take place on Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30pm. A Different Light Bookstore, 8853 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069, (310) 854-6601.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Strikers, We Love Ye

Like something out of an Odets play, Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, went off this morning just before 9 to march in front of CBS on Beverly Boulevard near The Grove. He wore a fire engine red WGA T-shirt and a floppy hat.

It was so quiet in the house, it felt momentous. I read a Newsweek in bed.

When he returned, he was exhausted and had the look of someone who had been carrying a sign on a pike for four hours. The worst part? The entrance that he was walking across was sloped, so the whole time he walked sideways across a small hill. You know how that can do you in.

I bet this striking business lands a lot of writers at the acupuncture office.

But it must be done. The producers are pig-swine.

How many homes, boats, planes and islands must one own before one can feel good about oneself? It’s beyond ludicrous. You know, I heard something about capitalism: People are motivated by greed.

Here’s a nice big push against that. The fight is worth it.

If I were a member of the WGA, I’d do the afternoon shift.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Catalogue Choice

In the LA Times today was a great article. Join up! Save the world.
This site is not against commerce. They’re just against needless catalogues. In fact, they offer catalogues on their site for you to look at. Do yourself a favor. Let your catalogues collect for the next few months in a pile...then, join this site and click off the catalogues you no longer want. Just do it. Make a note in your calendar for early January. Start piling up your catalogues. Join the site and Mark them goodbye! (You’ll need certain information from your catalogues to do this.) Why lose all these trees?

Catalog Choice

From their Site:

Over eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of paper catalogs.

Nearly half of the planet’s original forest cover is gone today. Forests have effectively disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.

Deforestation contributes between 20% and 25% of all carbon pollution, causing global climate change.

More than one billion people living in extreme poverty around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods.

There are other significant environmental impacts from the catalog cycle. The production and disposal of direct mail alone consumes more energy than three million cars.

The manufacturing, distribution, collection and disposal of catalogs generates global warming gases as well as air and water pollution. Reducing the number of unwanted catalogs that are mailed will help the environment.

Catalog Choice

Friday, November 02, 2007

Piss Play Lives

Sometimes, you get a cast for your play that is so perfect, you just have to be grateful.
My play is a very harsh farce. It is politically incorrect. It has severe scatological elements. It is brutal in every way. I landed three very talented actors who are not afraid of the whole thing. They threw themselves into this and they are brilliant.

I am a very lucky person. Do come see the play. It runs until November 18.

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