Friday, February 29, 2008

Physics Corner: Eyes on Newton

Newton's Three Laws of Motion

Let us begin our explanation of how Newton changed our understanding of the
Universe by enumerating his Three Laws of Motion.

Newton's First Law of Motion:

I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state
of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

This we recognize as essentially Galileo's concept of inertia, and this is often
termed simply the "Law of Inertia".

Newton's Second Law of Motion:

II. The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and
the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as
indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this
law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the
acceleration vector.

This is the most powerful of Newton's three Laws, because it allows quantitative
calculations of dynamics: how do velocities change when forces are applied.
Notice the fundamental difference between Newton's 2nd Law and the dynamics of
Aristotle: according to Newton, a force causes only a change in velocity (an
acceleration); it does not maintain the velocity as Aristotle held.
This is sometimes summarized by saying that under Newton, F = ma, but under
Aristotle F = mv, where v is the velocity. Thus, according to Aristotle there is
only a velocity if there is a force, but according to Newton an object with a
certain velocity maintains that velocity unless a force acts on it to cause an
acceleration (that is, a change in the velocity). As we have noted earlier in
conjunction with the discussion of Galileo, Aristotle's view seems to be more in
accord with common sense, but that is because of a failure to appreciate the
role played by frictional forces. Once account is taken of all forces acting in
a given situation it is the dynamics of Galileo and Newton, not of Aristotle,
that are found to be in accord with the observations.

Newton's Third Law of Motion:

III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This law is exemplified by what happens if we step off a boat onto the bank of a
lake: as we move in the direction of the shore, the boat tends to move in the
opposite direction (leaving us facedown in the water, if we aren't careful!).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New World, Old World

In Los Angeles, in California, on the West Coast, there is a sense of the new, always the new. Because people are generally creative here, coming up with movies, software, turbine designs, what have you, it tends toward an opening of the spirit, a relaxed attitude toward differences.

On the west coast, one feels that anything is possible. This permeates the personalities of its citizens. It brings out cheeriness. At rest, the expression of so many people is, “What a curious new event.”

A thrill, really.

But when we get together with our friends, our closest friends, all of that goes away. Or at least, it is not primary to the interaction. Especially with the friends who live here who are from Europe or the East, or even the Midwest. When we are together, we look for what is classically good in life. We look for the care of the old world. We love what is new, but we need a strong sense that relationships are the sustaining factor of life. We hold to what is decent and loving and what we know is mellowing, what can be poured from a bottle. We turn away from invention.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What Could Have Been and A Cleaning

Imagine if a consumer level internet existed during the 1980’s. There would have been websites dedicated to The Porky’s Trilogy. Or even worse, Zapped.

How about a Facebook Group called The Go-Go’s? Or a Boy George Chat Room?

But wait, I bet all this crap exists.


I mean, I’m being all judgmental. I should take a break here. We all know there is a Joni Mitchell Web Site and it’s doing very well. Right?

And The Monkees certainly have an online presence. How long before everything is finally posted? The Book of Kells? All of Rumi? Recipes in Cuneiform?

I already have a hard time sifting through all the web pages that are obsolete. Who is going to clean up these pages? The tax rules for 2003? The outdated Bobby Sherman schedules? The unverified images of Nancy Regan’s shoes?

Rumors, lies, data, raw data, refined data, porn and the weather all mixed together. It is disorganized and becoming harder to use.

A Greatest Hits of the Web with serious personal filters is what we need now. With a unique editor deciding what is just right for you. It has to be cleaned up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Cycle of Mourning

We will pull out of Iraq. And then there’s the atonement. It’s time. We will contract. We will be less aggressive. We will learn how to take care of ourselves, within our own borders.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Good Smoke Saturday

Opening night is sold out. Saturday evening has seats available. Do Come.

A Good Smoke, Now Playing

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Powder Kegs and You

I am no fan of Albania, Serbia, or Kosovo. Though I would love to see the Adriatic.

As a citizens of North America, it is hard to imagine this ridiculous tribalism of the old world. But people are strange. I could not root for “Buffalo” or “St. Louis” in a sporting event. Those, too, have their own scary tribal auras.

I cannot imagine World War III. But I can imagine another silly war. Even without the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

All this angst about who gets the land. Or more tragically, who gets to rule the land and then enslave the others who are not in the ruling class.

I have no solutions. If I were to visit Kosovo, I would surely become even more perplexed.

Oh Powder Keg, take a cold bath.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

For What It's Worth

I keep listening to Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth.

The cycle keeps going and the need for this kind of song returns, like swallows. The uprising in The United States is not completely from young people like in For What It’s Worth. The uprising is coming from people of all ages who need things to be extremely different. Sure, some are behind one Democratic candidate or the other—but it isn’t that much different.

Things will change in 2009. Sadly, another war can boomerang back at any moment.

Not to be cynical.

In my short life there have already been so many wars. I do hope, if nothing else, that we have some time off.

I love those years between wars. The times when people can go about their own journeys and they don’t have to spend any psychological energy being for or against “The War.”

The war can be any war. On drugs. For Oil. Against Gay Marriage. All that war.

If we turn away from the wars, the combatants can lay down their weapons. The protestors can lay down their keyboards. Citizens can individuate. Then, without the pressure of un-winnable, useless conflict, humans all around can become so much more interesting.

Monday, February 18, 2008

February 18, 1974

I went to Kenneth’s house. We went skating. We played some games. He gave me 5 guppies. Well Goodnight.

Friday, February 15, 2008

We All Learn to Crawl: Dan

It's interesting this crawling. I've observed a couple things. You can tell from the video that his arm movements are already programmed into the part of the brain where he does it automatically, where his legs aren't there yet. He needs to do it a few dozen more times before he can do it without thinking about it. The other thing is his desire to crawl comes from his instinct to explore the world around him. He sees something and wants to know all about it by touching it and tasting it. Without that desire he would basically be a house plant. Says something about human nature I think. It's like the space program, which came out of a desire to go to the moon for no other reason than touch it really.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Slap

Sitting at dinner yesterday, Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, and I were eating some ground turkey with peppers, feta and olives when I spotted the mail. I went to it, saw a thin envelope from The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the most important theater development institution in the country, and I thought, “Oh great, another rejection letter.”

But it was not. It was a letter stating that they were “thrilled’ to include me in the semifinalists for my latest play, A GOOD SMOKE. Wild. I cried, naturally. Now I know what it’s like to be Miss America.

Back at rehearsals: There are so many moments to take care of, so many actors to support and cajole. And it is very fulfilling. What is fun about theater is, at the end of the day, I have to get one actor to slap another actor hard enough so that it doesn’t hurt while still making a lot of cheek noise. I love that, in the end, it’s all about the slap.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008


By Don Cummings

Posted by Picasa

Semifinalist for the 2008 Playwrights Conference at The Euguene O'Neill Theater Center.


LA WEEKLY GO by Sandra Ross

LASTAGESCENE.COM by Steven Stanley




Grigware Talks Theatre Interview

February 22 - March 29
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 PM
Sundays @ 3 PM (No Shows on 2/24 & 3/23)
The Chandler Studio Theatre
12443 Chandler Boulevard, North Hollywood CA 91607
Five Blocks West of Laurel Canyon, just East of Whitsett. Free Plentiful Parking



The Production Company at The Chandler Studio Theatre

A Good Smoke: My Space

GO Writer-director Don Cummings adeptly captures the chaos enveloping a collapsing family, in his dark one-act comedy. Cummings has a gift for the pointed barb, and some of the dialogue is hilarious, despite the situation's gravity. His direction is as fast-paced as the dialogue, and Gruen delivers a tremendous performance as a deceptive, manipulative drug addict. --Sandra Ross, LA Weekly

We're all addicts, admits Don Cummings' cheerfully rude comedy, "A Good Smoke," whether it's momma, nicotine or self righteousness, there's no limping through life without a crutch. It's tough to mine much that's new in the dysfunctional family genre, but Cummings has a feel for desperation, and he gives each of the play's women her own awful, nakedly human monologue. As the mother from hell, Gruen admirably holds her ground, refusing to give into sitcom cuteness or ask for our sympathy.-- Charlotte Stoudt, Los Angeles Times

Don Cummings’ darkly funny A Good Smoke could just as easily be titled Life
With The Mother From Hell, but that might just be the teensiest bit off-putting.
After all, how many of us would choose to spend an hour and a half with one
of the most unrelentingly angry women ever put on a stage? But rest assured,
on opening night the Chandler Theatre was filled with uproarious laughter,
and I was among those who laughed the loudest. Black as the comedy in as
A Good Smoke is, this is a very funny comedy indeed.

Much of the humor is in the performance of lines that, in and of themselves, seem to be unlikely laugh-getters. Cummings’ script is so devilishly clever that it doesn't
need “jokes,” though lines like “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice,” are
indeed funny.

Under Cummings’ skillful direction, Barbara Gruen (Mom) gives one of the most
furious, fearless, and physically fatiguing performances I’ve ever witnessed.
Seething with constant anger, Gruen never once gives in to the temptation
to soften Mom, making her all the funnier, in a perversely satisfying way.
Gruen’s is a must-be-seen performance, never more so than in the 10-minute
phone rant she delivers full force, her words getting steadily louder and faster
and crazier. You sit there listening, mouth agape, and laughing as you cringe,
half of you wanting for her to just shut up, and the other half waiting to see
what will pop out of her mouth next.

Henry Gummer’s likeable persona works to make Dave the most sympathetic character, and once again those “sad but sparkling eyes” speak volumes. Blake Anthony does deliciously deadpan work as Joe, and Dennis Delsing is a hoot as Dad (and plays “funny drunk” just about as well as I’ve ever seen it done). Madelynn Fattibene, is outstanding at showing the unremittingly hangdog Susan’s real pain and suffering. Finally, Mary McBride appears all too briefly as Susan’s mother-in-law Betty, as relentlessly cheerful as Susan is morose.

Cummings, who also penned the very funny The Fat Of The Land, clearly understands the fine line between comedy and tragedy, and A Good Smoke walks that line to often side-splitting results. This is a play worth seeing, and one which will certainly provoke much post-curtain discussion.

August Viverito’s set and lighting design make excellent use of The Chandler
Theatre’s long, narrow space, with lighting and sound (designed by Bob
Blackburn) allowing for quick set changes, from living room, to hospital room, to
bar. Zoe Buck’s costumes are also very good.

A Good Smoke is “smoking-good” fun. Who would have thought that spending an hour and a half with “the mother from hell” would prove so entertaining?

--Steven Stanley, LA

This family’s entrapment is tragic, but not without many comic undertones, as dysfunction and dark humor go hand in hand. Everyone can relate to at least one problem, and the familial plight is so pathetic at times, especially Joyce’s, that laughter seems a better medicine than tears. Cummings does well to cut away from the mother’s agonizing abuse and intersperses scenes that serve as comic relief. The ensemble is solid. Gruen is outstanding in her brutally honest portrayal. Her lonely conversation on a cell phone to a voice machine as she cleans the house at 5am is monumentally engrossing. Her ferocious attack on lines like “Pull it together, Susan!” is drop dead hilarious. Gummer lends the complicated Dave, who is the spokesman for the playwright, a dynamic focus and compassionate sensitivity. Anthony adds the right touch of bewilderment, and Fattibene is gutwrenching in her deep need to mother her newborn. Delsing creates an appropriate wimp of an alcoholic husband, and Mary McBride adds color as the caring, yet “all business” mother-in-law.
Cummings stages the piece on the small Chandler stage with the utmost dexterity. The title A Good Smoke refers to the family’s addiction to cigarettes, and at play’s end, the bleak, silent freeze-frame portrait of the typical American dysfunctional family lighting up makes us simultaneously laugh and cry.

5 out of 5 stars – GRIGWARE TALKS THEATRE by Don Grigware



The Production Company at The Chandler Studio Theatre

A Good Smoke: My Space


Written and Directed by Don Cummings

Featuring: Henry Gummer, Barbara Gruen, Madelynn Fattibene, Blake Anthony, Dennis Delsing & Mary McBride

Assistant Director: Carla Barnett
Set and Lighting Design: August Viverito
Costumes: Zoe Buck
Sound Design: Bob Blackburn
Produced by August Viverito & T L Kolman


I'm So Excited About this Alternative Fuel Idea

I hate to waste. I love the planet, in the same way that I love my old car. Why junk it or try to get a new one when it still works?

I don’t think corn is the answer. I think the corn lobby is excited. (And maybe the corn, itself, is a little smug). All that water, all those pesticides? And breaking down ethanol in an engine creates plenty of Carbon Dioxide. Look, if you’re going to burn something, I’m kind of for oil. It’s already made. You don’t have to grow something and then process it. The dinosaurs are all dead and hanging around underground in liquid form.

Which brings me to my excitement. I want to create an oil silo about a mile high off the ground with a spigot at the bottom. As people die, you just drop them in. As the corpses add up, the pressure will squeeze oil out the bottom.

I’m happy to be the first one.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Strike Three and More

More than three months have passed since the writers have gone on strike. It looks like it is coming to an end. It should be resolved by Monday.

Answer me this: Why are producers such dirty, greedy slobs? What did they gain from their stubborn posturing?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sally On: Aunt Rose

From my sister:

Greg and I went to the cemetery today for Aunt Rose's burial. Thanks Earl and Colleen for organizing this from afar. We were glad it could be worked out so that we could be there. Nick from Colonial did a nice job. He read some ritualistic funeral prayers (It has a name but I forget what he called it). It was very lovely. We also said an Our Father! Amazing what the mind retains after all these years! It felt good to be there to say good-bye.
We looked at the headstone with Uncle Gus, Aunt Jean and Aunt Rose's names.
I can't believe Uncle Gus died in 1967! I was 7 and am surprised I have such clear memories of him. Then Greg and I went on the search for Section 46, row G, tier I, grave #2! It took us about 5 minutes to figure out that the unmarked cemetery was actually marked! You just need to look at the side of the stones to see the engraved numbers on them. Alas! After 10 or so minutes more we found Nettie and Sam! I told Greg that Nettie was probably saying "It's about time you bastards came to see me!" Greg rightfully corrected me and said that she would have said "someofabitches!" Now that I know how close Holy Cross is I plan to go back and visit. It's a nice enough cemetery as those things go. They really crowd them in there! It was kind of weird saying goodbye to the last of the DeFranzas and seeing so many of them there.

After that I was grateful that I had my brother with me and we had the opportunity to spend a little while together, reminisce about the past and talk about the present. I am thankful each day for the many blessings that are often taken for granted!

Rock On!


Family Tree:

Michelina Boriello DeFranza and Augustus DeFranza gave birth to:

Nettie Jean Rose Gus Helen & Earl
(originally named Antoinette, Angelica, Rosa, Augustus, Helena and Earlando)

Nettie married Sam Porcello and gave birth to Janet and Joeseph

Janet married Donald Cummings and gave birth to Me, Sally and Greg

Helen married Charles Lynch and gave birth to Earl who married Colleen (now in Santa Barbara)

And now, so many of them are dead. And more will die. I along with them.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

So, It Wasn't So Super

Can Hillary and Obama just keep splitting, splitting, splitting, with no end in sight?


I would be happy with either one. I think many other Democrats feel the same way. Please, oh Lord, please, just make it a Democrat for president.

Interestingly, I have heard and I kind of agree with the idea, that perhaps Obama against McCain assures a Democratic win…since Obama is so young and ready and McCain is such a geezer. Hillary won’t provide this ageist contrast.

On the other hand, Obama, while sparkly and charismatic, could end up alienating the middle. At least that’s what I fear. Obama fever could well take over the country, OR, it could backfire and he could lose miserably against McCain.

No crystal balls here. I do hope we get the exact president we deserve. These days, we deserve a real good one. We’ve endured the absolute worst.

Full disclosure: I voted for Hillary…because I think we need a pragmatic Wart Hog. I think Hillary’s the Wart Hog that can get the job done. Though I do hope it’s with Barak by her side. Together, they can fix this wretched hole of a country. And if it’s Barak as President with Hillary as Cheney, well, I’d be thrilled with that, too.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nostalgic for Better Times

We do own this on DVD...It's The Carpenters from their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1970.

Bet you can't watch it just once.

Happy Super Tuesday.

Moonachie Madness

I must admit, the odd way the Giants won in the Super Bowl is quite interesting—in terms of probability, random dramatic effect, what else…

The clips of New York fans screaming and celebrating have a Nuremburg Parade Ground tone to them that unsettles and saddens. When the cameras capture a young adult male yelling, ‘Boston sucks, Boston sucks,” you just wish you were a different species.

We are beasts, true. Pass the meat.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

It’s peanut butter and chocolate, together at last.

Will Obama and Hillary run together?

Why not??? I’ve always thought so.

I am so happy for ANYONE.

You know, I am so thrilled that Bozo the fucking moron is finally going to leave the White House, I’d even be happy to have McCain. Anyone. One of the termites that’s chewing down my garage would be fine.

These are exciting times. The debate was right up the street. California is excited to have an actual human being sit in the oval office. This is so great. The pall is lifting.