Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Let Them Eat Coppola

I don’t know. I was just kind of bored. I have no idea how much the director stuck by the book since I did not read it. However, being true to a book does not necessarily make the best movie.

The 1980’s music. One does wonder why. It did not hurt it. But at times, I did feel like I was watching an Annie Lennox video. Waiting for someone to go walking on broken glass.

Kirsten, lovely enough.
Schwartzman, kind of hilarious.

All those court ladies, tart and witty.

The vanity, terrifying.

The little doggies were very cute.

The costumes, clearly, were made for this movie. They were not rentals. I can only imagine what percentage of the budget went into their realization.

I have been to Versailles a few times. It really was a bad idea to leave Paris for such a locale. This really helped put the royalty out of touch, being at such a remove. Location, location, location, again, shows its supremacy.

The most intriguing thing to me about the movie? What form of energy did they use to make the fountains work in the Versailles gardens?

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Fat of the Land

The Play has closed.

Long live the play.

Friday, October 27, 2006

They Keep Trying

That idiot, George Bush, and his hateful friends are trying at last effort to rally up voters using the New Jersey Gay Equality ruling as a cattle prod to the polls.

Can you imagine?

What history books will say about this man: A war monger who used gay marriage as the domestic terror of a country clearly heading in the direction of equality.

My hate for him is so complete. I think it is not too strong for me to say: I only wish him dead.

On a lighter note, my play is closing Sunday night. Tonight, we had almost a full house. It was lovely to hear the response. If you are reading this and you have not yet seen the play, please do come. If you have seen it (and you probably have), thanks for coming!

The Fat of the Land

The Highest compliment one might pay to Don Cummings’ alternately hilarious and heartrending new play, The Fat of the Land, is that it has its Chekhovian moments....His modern day play is driven by witty, ultra-contemporary banter...His fragile mix of tones in this bittersweet portrait of characters in transition works effectively to illuminate a rich tapestry of mini-dramas that are woven into a satisfying whole. With some judicious tinkering, Cummings’ gripping serio-comedy could have an illustrious future. – Les Spindle, IN MAGAZINE

Using the same tart wit he displayed in his one-man play, American Air, Cummings subtly sets the artists’ self-absorbed creativity against their neighbors’ artless bluster and destructiveness — all with a sorrowful Chekhovian languor. – Steven Leigh Morris, LA WEEKLY

Put all this together, shake it out, and you have the world premiere of The Fat of the Land, writer Don Cummings' dark comedy, with interesting characters, good dialogue, and some zinger lines. Director Kelly Ann Ford manages to keep all the drama and high jinks moving at a crisp pace. The amiable cast gives 100 percent. Gantzos and Miller, as the odd couple, add sturdiness, even as they question their own future; McBride portrays Beverly with a neediness that is, oddly, both tolerable and annoying; Wilson's endearing innocence as Robbie makes us hope a casting person will love him as much as he loves himself; Bader's Tom vies with a snake in the grass for stature; and Alemshah's Claudia is very fitting as the lady in waiting. - Dave DePino, BACKSTAGE WEST

Cummings’ flair with dialogue is fluid and he has some wonderful laugh-out-loud lines. – Dave DePino, BEVERLY PRESS

The Fat of the Land

Thursday, October 26, 2006

To Carry the Weight of All that Greed

How long did anyone think I could blog without eventually linking to JoniMitchell.com?

What got me today was, I was thinking about Republicans and what popped into my head was the lyric...To carry the weight of all that Greed. It's from Joni Mitchell's song Shades of Scarlet Conquering on the album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns.

I think the lyrics sum up the Repbulican party perfectly.

Shades Of Scarlet Conquering
by Joni Mitchell

Out of the fire like Catholic saints
Comes Scarlett and her deep complaint
Mimicking tenderness she sees
In sentimental movies
A celluloid rider comes to town
Cinematic lovers sway
Plantations and sweeping ballroom gowns
Take her breath away

Out in the wind in crinolines
Chasing the ghosts of Gable and Flynn
Through stand-in boys and extra players
Magnolias hopeful in her auburn hair
She comes from a school of southern charm
She likes to have things her way
Any man in the world holding out his arm
Would soon be made to pay

Friends have told her not so proud
Neighbors trying to sleep and yelling not so loud
Lovers in anger Block of Ice
Harder and harder just to be nice
Given in the night to dark dreams
From the dark things she feels
She covers her eyes in the x-rated scenes
Running from the reels

Beauty and madness to be praised
'Cause it is not easy to be brave
To walk around in so much need
To carry the weight of all that greed
Dressed in stolen clothes she stands
Cast iron and frail
With her impossibly gentle hands
And her blood-red fingernails

Out of the fire and still smoldering
She says "A woman must have everything"
Shades of Scarlett Conquering
She says "A woman must have everything"


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


My life is so tedious. I have this tendency to make sure I am not getting ripped off. Mind you, I can handle it when I go to a mom and pop grocery store to pick up some eggs and they look at me in my fine pajama wear that says, "I don't work that hard so you just have to assume I have some cash," and they ratchet up the price.
Shit, I mean, when you get in a cab in Spain, a civilized nation, it's the only way they conduct business.

But corporations? Especially lately when it seems like they can do anything they want while they exploit the masses, I just have to say, "I'm onto you, you dirty pigs. And I will fight you like the street peasant that I am."

First of all, there was the Verizon Cell Phone service that did not work in our house. We switched to Cingular, which does work. Verizon insisted on charging us an early termination fee of $175 per phone. I insisted upon not paying this since we've already paid for months of service for phones that only work when you stand
on the toilet in the back bathroom while wearing an aluminum foil hat. The customer service took off one phone fee because, "You weren't in contract with the one phone, so we will only charge you one early termination fee."

And when I asked, "How did I get charged for two early termination fees, then?"

The answer, "It was a mistake."

And I said, “So if I didn’t call you, I would have had to pay for this mistake?”

I then asked to talk to someone higher up because I was in no way going to pay the early termination fee for the other phone since we didn't get service. After being on hold forever, a rep came on, his name was Brad, and one of the first things he said was, "Mr. Cummings, you should know that we've already given you credit for the one early termination fee."

And I said, "I was out of contract."

And he said, "No you weren't."

And I said, "The lady just told me I was."

And Brad said, "She made a mistake. But I'm not going to fix her mistake, I'm going to let you have the credit."

"How kind of you," I flatlined.

Next, I said, "Well you should all get your stories straight. You sure she wasn’t just lying to get me off her back...figuring you could get at least $175 bucks out of me instead of $350? What’s the game here?”

“It’s no game. She just made a mistake.”

I said, “Okay. I'm still not going to pay for the early termination fee on the other phone. I'm just not."

And after a while, Brad told me the only way I could get out of paying the fine was if he turned on my phone again, with a different cell number so as not to disturb my Cingular Service which now has taken over my original cell number, and to then go through a series of tests with the phone and if it is determined that the series of tests show there is a problem, then they will issue a trouble ticket and a technician would come out and check the area to see if the cell service is spotty.

I told Brad, "But Brad, if Verizon is the decider of what is satisfactory cell phone service, won't they choose in their own favor?

And Brad chuckled, "Of course not."

So, he reinstated my old phone with another number and said he'd call back the next morning to do the testing. He called back the next morning to tell me it wasn't up and running yet and that he would call me the next day. He was churning me like butter. I dug my heels in.

When the phone was finally up and running, he did get a technician on the line to do reprogramming crap. It didn't help. (I also made sure I was standing in the worst location in my house.) So, a trouble ticket was put in place and some Verizon guy is going to come to my house, in the front yard, and test the signal. And from that, they will determine if the signal in the area is okay and if it is okay, then I am still responsible for the $175 early termination fee.

The guy has not come yet. And apparently, I won't even know when it is that he'll have visited. Brad will call me with the results. And I will tell Brad, "No matter what, I won't pay. Send it to collection."

You have to pay hardball. And I’ve had a tiny bill go to collection before. I never paid it. It doesn’t do anything to your credit rating.

But man, why should Verizon get $175 of my money (Originally $350) when they have all this money, already? And why do they get to decide these charges based on their own testing? These pigs need to be put down.

But here's a worse one. I looked at my landline phone bill and I got charged two months of a service charge from OAN...some sort of phone service agency. Turns out, OAN is a scam and they are able to charge your phone bill and collect from your phone company and you have to pay it. Unless you catch it...which I did...and then the phone company calls OAN and reverses the charge. Simply enough, my landline phone company (ATT) immediately did agree to reverse it but said, "By law, we have to accept a phone charge that comes to us."

And I said, "You know this OAN thing is a scam. It's all over the internet. How could you let it be charged on my bill?"

And the rep said, "We have to follow the law or we'll be closed down."

“So the law lets OAN charge anyone? It's ludicrous.”

And ATT said, “This is how it is. We are your local phone company and we have to accept charges that come on your bill.”

And I said, “Well, reverse them.”

And she said, “I already did.”

I called OAN over the weekend. All I got was a message machine. I left a detailed message that ended with, "And get your fucking paws off my phone bill."

Then, I called them again today and I got a person. And I said to the guy, "This is such a scam. Why are you charging my phone bill?"

And the guy said, "We are just a billing company for a music club."

I said, "I didn't join any music club. What are you talking about?"

And he said, "Sometimes people don't know it when they join. But if you got a Wal-Mart gift card, you are automatically enrolled in this music program."

And I said, "I never go to Wal-Mart. This is bullshit. Reverse it."

And he said, "Do you want to opt out of the program?"

And I said, "You mean you would keep charging me $16.40 per month forever on my phone bill if I hadn't called?"

And he said, "Yes."

And I said to him, "Cancel right now. And get your fucking hands off my phone bill."

People who run oil companies, utilities, telephones...they get so much money and all they want is more. And companies are so powerful these days, we are all getting bullied. And you have to fight to hold onto your cash. It’s disgusting.

Keep your eyes peeled. Watch those bills. Because even though it's a nightmare to get on the phone to have to talk with a customer service person, unless you stay on top of these greasy pigs, you are training them to continue their swinish behavior.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bush and Nature

So it is true. Bush has tanked. For good.

I look at sunflowers and the small pumpkins on my mantle. The outcome of nature is beauty.

And you can always trust that what is true and good will prevail---
What is true happens because it is the truth—nature likes maximum efficiency.
What is good happens according to our perception of what is good: which is what is good for us. Which is again, maximum efficiency.

There is nothing moral here. Invading Iraq, letting people die in New Orleans, these were not necessarily wrong actions. They were just against truth and goodness. Against efficient use of energy and resources.

So, calmly, I see the beauty on my mantle. Which required almost know planning, just acceptance of what is beautiful. And I know this is the future. There is nothing to worry about.

The natural oddity remains curious. Barbara Bush’s energy is clearly that of a mammal who eats its young. One wonders why she didn’t snack on this particular child.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The New World Order

In the new world, Democrats will be running congress. George Bush will concede the failure that is the Iraq offensive. Donald Rumsfeld will be fired. And my dog will continue to be the sweetest thing on four feet.

The price of housing will decrease. People will rise up and insist on health coverage. Bigotry against gay marriage will go into the closet. Many, many more countries will have nuclear weapons (not necessarily a bad thing).

France will continue its Gallic pragmatism. Tony Blair will happily pipe down. Italy will change governments. Germany will become even more xenophobic.

Ms. Rice will simmer down into obscurity. Hillary Clinton will make a bid for the presidency. Civil war will break up Iraq---or---a new dictator will rise up to unify the warring factions.

Afghanistan will continue to supply most of the world’s heroin. South America will rise up, for good. Africa will only get worse.

And people like me won’t ever shut up.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Pink Scourge

In the newspaper today there was mention of a pink purge....apparently the religious conservatives in the Republican Party want the homos OUT. Not out of the closet. But out of the party.

Oh my gay friends, why were you ever members? Like Jews joining the Nazi party, your actions had to be propelled by some self loathing, self destructive vector.

I don’t blame the Republicans for wanting you out. Who would want nuts like you around? Let the pure schism take place. Let the Republican Party stand for bigotry and backward thinking. Save yourself and run! The Democratic Party is ready for you. Come on over. We’ll take care of you. But please, leave your delusions at the curb. The Republican Party will never change. And they will use you as cannon fodder for votes. And even if you are smart enough to know it’s all an act, why would you want to be used in that way?

So sorry if they tricked you. They are a snaky bunch.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I'm so GLAAD

In Los Angeles and in other cities, GLAAD pokes around and sees plays and hands out awards. It’s based on a voting system by esteemed GLAAD members.

I was informed today by the head of GLAAD that my play, The Fat of the Land, is getting high marks. And I was instructed to send him as many pictures of the show as possible for an official presentation.

So I could get nominated. It would be nice.

When I was a kid, I remember thinking about my gayness, “I will never tell anyone. I will get married to a girl and die with the secret.”

And now, by no grand design, I’ve written a play that turns out to be good for the gay community. Lovely really.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bush the Idiot: No Nukes?

As with cannonballs and ice cream, anything you create will be repeated by others.


Be careful what you make.

The cow is out of the barn.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Terror of the Age

Frankly, it’s the loss of the middle class that has really wacked this country out.

Everyone wants to be a star. Or, they’re addicted to crack. Or both.

Okay, perhaps living in Los Angeles, I have a terrible view of the social order.

But where will we be if we aren’t all moving toward the middle? Oddly, and I hate middlebrow stuff, but oddly, moving toward the middle is very stabilizing for any culture. And the more people are moving toward the middle, the more stable things get.

I would like to see us, as a nation, move in this direction.

I need to visit Missouri or somewhere else like that. Maybe it happens there. It isn’t happening here.


On another note---There were only ten people in the audience tonight for
The Fat of the Land. It went over so well. The actors were relaxed and had such a good time. The ten people were laughing out loud. And so, one must be grateful. "Isn't it amazing how everything works out?"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Not Always Nice, But One Must Take It

There has been a struggle with my play. Getting audience. Getting press. However, when there is audience and the actors are feeling calm and confident, the magic is there. Sometimes, it all gets a little less magical, what with there being no audience. I wish I didn’t give a flying load. But I do.

For World Premiere reviews, most of the attention is on the writing. Which is sort of an awful position to be in if you are the writer. The reviews, in general, are often forgiving to the actors and the director. Hell, it’s a new piece and if they come off at all okay, then all goes well for them. The thing under scrutiny, truly, is the play. And sometimes it slides in a positive way toward the writer, sometimes not. This is how it should be. And if you put your big wordy ass out there, you have to take your lumps.

Today, I saw a preview of the LA Weekly review and at its best it states this:

Using the same tart wit he displayed in his one-man play, American Air, Cummings subtly sets the artists’ self-absorbed creativity against their neighbors’ artless bluster and destructiveness — all with a sorrowful Chekhovian languor.

The very next sentence:

Unfortunately, the play is at least half an hour too long with three endings.

The rest of the review flatly retells the general story points of the play. Which is never a good thing. And the underlying tone of disapproval is palpable throughout. True, Steven Leigh Morris saw the play on a night with just a handful of people in the audience. (My publicist had a one hour warning that a reviewer was coming) And the play was quite pokey that night. But the actors did do their best under the sepulchral circumstances. And the audience just kind of didn’t care. There it is. 99 Seat theatre at its least affirming. Getting a snarky review is always disappointing.

I did get quite a glowing review in IN LA. Which was affirming, though less distributed:

The Highest compliment one might pay to Don Cummings’ alternately hilarious and heartrending new play, The Fat of the Land, is that it has its Chekovian moments....His modern day play is driven by witty, ultra-contemporary banter...With some judicious tinkering, Cummings’ gripping seriocomedy could have an illustrious future.

Again, these world premiere reviews really go at the writer.

One cannot live and die by the press. It’s too schizophrenic and masocistic. But one does anyway. It’s a professional communication that takes place. And though it is harsh, it is necessary.

The only thing to do in these cases is to have date night.

Adam and I went to the movies. We saw The Queen. Helen Mirren was outrageously good. The story was so delicate and so ambivalent and so well told, you have to wonder if the masses will go see it. Truly, a lovely movie. Helen Mirren is Oscar bound. Surely.

Now, I go back to The second half of the run of The Fat of the Land. Audiences do seem to get a lot out of it. I did get an important agency that loved it. I did set out to write a big, long play with lots of stuff in it. One takes a chance. And I stand beside my choice.

I have decided to keep looking forward. Always forward. To dust oneself off after the bumpy ride is essential. And to get back in the seat. And to proceed. Joyfully. This was made in joy. I am grateful that it is out there. I will continue with joy.
And I am learning. Because that's how it works.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Vanity, Insurance and Lack of Follow Through

Today, after successfully getting a new radiator put into my steaming car and having calmly endured the dentist chair for three hours, I realized the open road to happiness is to find joy in the pain.

Kind of like how one best endures a relationship: To be grateful for the ultimate disappointment.

But though I settled into a very happy place today, with my numb nose and my sore jaw, I still found the time to loathe three things about human beings.

1) The vanity. I mean, it is so amazing that Albert Einstein did what he did. But why do we worship the odd man instead of simply marveling at his unique brain? It seems that we want to celebrate particular human beings for their name and their achievements. To me, it seems enough to celebrate achievement.

2) Insurance. It should be discontinued. This constant bartering, in a tri-group...with the most powerful member of the group not present, but merely laying down what it will or will not pay is complete larceny. Not to mention pure evil. As citizens of the Western World we need to strike. We need to cease paying into insurance companies. We need to make it collapse. Then, I can negotiate with my dentist directly. And if I get hit by a car or bitten by a poisonous raccoon, the government is just going to have to pay for it.

3) Human Error. No matter the transaction, someone always makes a mistake. For instance, while at the Cingular store this weekend, a very lazy twit of a girl kept bothering my sales rep. She wanted him to do her work. Having a speech impediment and a lack of dashing looks, the sales guy indulged her. While indulging, he forget to set the MMS messaging on my phone. So I can’t send pictures. Can you imagine the horror?
I can’t imagine how airplanes remain in the air with the amount of human error out there. I have rarely met a person who actually tries to make sure that what they do is correct. Remember checking your work? Is that a quaint idea that died during the Carter administration?

One tries to remain positive. And frankly, my mood is quite upbeat. But I still cannot help noticing what is dreadfully wrong.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October 10, 1980

Today was an amazing day. I had physics, then I cut calculus and went to lunch. Everyone went home this weekend but me, John and Pam---a friend of Pam’s came up. So—me and John went to BU, we took his sister’s car- on the way there we turned into trolley tracks and the car was stuck, a tow truck pulled us out. We went down a one way street the wrong way- we finally got there and overly partied. We hung out on a grass spot near the river. It was so cool. Dorian was totally out of it. We finally left - It was raining hard, and we got a second flat (we got the first in the trolley tracks) and when we went to turn into the gas station we went over a 3 foot curb. We parked the car – we didn’t have a dime, we got one – lost it in the phone – I had to stop a car to get another dime. We called his sister to call a cab. WE didn’t even know where we were – so eventually what happened was we saw a cab – we hailed it down – and we were on our back to Tufts at 2 A.M. That was the best $7 I ever spent. On a cab. It felt good to be back. Goodnight.

I remember this night very well. John was a huge pothead from Cleveland. Dorian was from New Jersey. I worked with her at a 7-Eleven the summer before I went to college. She was a year older than me and had all sorts of friends. I went down to BU to see her a couple of times. Turns out, she was such a huge drug fiend, I couldn’t keep up.
The hilarity of that night, though. I mean, what really happened was the tracks for the trolley weren’t even there...it was really these grooves in cement where the tracks should have been. John made a left into the tracks. He was stoned. The tires of the car fell into the grooves of where the tracks should have been. And the chassis of the car just fell flat onto the cement slab. When you hit the gas, the wheels just spun in the track grooves.
And of course everything just kept getting worse with the passing of joints and time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I Love LA Weekend, October

It was one of those I love LA weekends.

We bought new, groovy phones at Cingular (We finally tossed Verizon. Service in the house was down to one bar)

Cingular 8125

And we had brunch at Vienna Cafe with our closest friends.

Soon after, we ate chocolate at Boule on La Cienega.

My play, The Fat of the Land, ran for four nights to pretty full, appreciative houses.

And I got drunk at Trunks with John for his birthday

Followed by a huge plate of tacos at Taco Bell. I ate five tacos. #8

Life is beautiful.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I will be very succinct about Doubt.

Cherry Jones is something else. To see her do this thing that she does, go.

The play, I don’t know. The conceit seems to eat up the humans. A bit too constructed for me. But then, I’m in transition right now. The dialogue...incredible. JP Shanley has an amazing ear.

The director, Doug Hughes, a perfect touch.

If you live in LA, go see it. Honestly, there is so much power. Kind of hit-you-in-the-stomach stuff.

Again, Cherry Jones...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Isn't it Amazing How Everything Works Out?

This is a quote from my play. And oddly, it fits in the grand scheme.

The Fat of the Land has been a success, even though we’re still waiting on a lot of press. About one-hundred plays opened in Los Angeles this fall. Rough. We are working on this problem and we’re still running four more weeks so much can still be achieved in this area.

The good news: My Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, Adam’s agent from Paradigm (bigass place)- came to see the play, loved it, and is taking me on as a television writer...provisionally (I have to write an original pilot). A little hoop jumping is in my immediate future. Ten years ago this happened to me with ICM with my one man show and I did not take the bait to become a television writer.

Now—I’m older and wiser. A good creative job with a big fat paycheck seems like a great idea. I can still write my plays and stories. Shit, Joan Didion wrote all sorts of crap. And I weigh more than she does. So, I’ll just have to do everything. And working in television, successfully, will give more business weight to my plays, my book, etc. Plus, television is better these days.

This is a great coup for my career. My new pilot is already outlined and it’s going to be textured and character driven and hilarious. I’m feeling very confident.

Now the problem remains. Sixteen more shows with one hundred seats to fill and still Nine-Thousand Dollars in the hole. I need 1,600 asses. Give me your ass. And bring extra ass with you.

Use Promo Code 008 for half-priced tickets.

October 3, 1974, 1980

October 3, 1974

It was so cold today. I froze my rearendoff. Well I'm going to sleep now. School was fun, blah, blah, blah. Goodnight.

October 3, 1980

Today was truly shitty. I had my physics test--I bombed. I had calc. No prob. So this afternoon I read chem, then had dinner. I have bad allergies. I feel shitful. My exploration went to the Ballet---but not me--here it is Friday night and I go to the library. I'm so behind. I'm doing chem right now and then bed--Today sucked.

So, I got to thinking. Was it really that cold on October 3, 1974 that I would have actually frozen my rearendoff? So, I did a little research and I found that October 3, 1974 was a record low temperature for New York in the Twentieth Century.

Record Cold for October 3
Click on Averages and Records.

I got to thinking about Tufts. Perhaps majoring in engineering for a semester and a half was not quite right for me.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Nick Drake at 2 AM

I can't stop listening to Nick Drake's Poor Boy from Bryter Layter.

Something about the jazzy background music and the simple downward chromatic melody.
And the amazing background singers. More than just a great song, it's also wry commentary. The clinging together of these empty, drab lyrics against the virtuosity of understated, yet showy musicianship. The touch is perfect.

Good 2AM, bring it on down and get to bed kind of song.

Nick Drake Bio