Monthly Archives: November 2007

We interrupt our regular programming….

Due to circumstances beyond our control, today splattworks presents the following musical interlude from the late Warren Zevon in lieu of our regular post.

DON’T LET US GET SICK

Don’t let us get sick
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The sky was on fire
When I walked to the mill
To take up the slack in the line
I thought of my friends
And the troubles they’ve had
To keep me from thinking of mine

Don’t let us get sick
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I’m lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine

Don’t let us get sick
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight


The Debut of Iraqi "Special Forces"

I think the following article and clip sum up pretty much everything one can say about our Glorious Crusade in Mesopotamia:

Where’s Bill Murray when you need him?

Seriously, you owe yourself an opportunity to watch the clip. Obviously, our troops will be able to stand down as soon as the Iraqi’s are able to stand up.


Found In Drawers

A flat, round eraser on a wheel, with at one end a brush. I found this when cleaning out my mother’s house before selling it. In the desk drawer where it had been all my life.

I knew what it was: a typewriter eraser, thin so it could remove a single character, the brush to sweep away eraser dust. Worked best on erasable bond or onionskin paper. I use the past tense because no one uses these things anymore, much less typewriters. But my parents did. My parents, more or less, were professional typists, and paid for house, heat, and food with circular erasers. They corrected memos, news stories, letters to relatives and friends long gone, in half-sized, folded envelopes that may still be locked away in trunks somewhere. Letters I’ll never see.

But I kept the typewriter eraser. Tossed it into a box with other things of absolutely no use that I couldn’t let go of. And now, thinking of that eraser, I can see my father’s hands carefully erasing, and that sort of bemused concentration he had while working. He’d catch you watching and flash a smile–not a full smile with teeth, and definitely not a smirk. Just a twitch of the mouth to acknowledge you.

My father was a handsome man, with a passing resemblance to Sean Connery, and he’d take me to James Bond films. I have a romantic notion of him looking like Connery and drinking in North Beach tiki bars when he worked as rewrite for Associated Press in San Francisco during the 1950s. He had no idea the kid looking at him would ever become a writer and would ever be writing this, but years later, when I’d become a newscaster, I learned that he tuned in every afternoon to hear my broadcasts. I wonder what his face looked like then.

How many times did I see that smile? When he was working hard, he’d set his mouth, and his lips would nearly disappear. When he was sawing or drilling wood. I don’t remember seeing him do that when typing. Maybe because you couldn’t take off a finger with a typewriter. You could certainly wound yourself. Wound yourself and others. In the right hands, a typewriter could be a weapon of mass destruction. But my father didn’t have those kinds of hands.

Sometimes I wonder about my own.


Irregular Dick, Part II

First, let me note that posting a picture of Scarlett Johansson to your blog drives up traffic. No idea why that is.

Second, this whole issue of Cheney’s irregular (alleged) heartbeat is actually kind of interesting. The first time Cheney dropped over clutching his chest, he was only 36 years old. He’s 66 now, had quadruple bypass, pacemaker, probably has an implanted alien heart saved on ice from Roswell. Anyway, there are a number of heart experts weighing in that, for a patient with a cardiac problems like Cheney, an irregular heartbeat can be a sign of a worsening heart condition. Further raising eyebrows is that he went in for a cough said to be related to a cold, but a persistent cough can also be a sign of congestive heart failure. Plus the post-procedure blood thinners they’re giving him can result in blood clots breaking loose, traveling to the brain, and causing strokes.

Now he may just chew through this the way he usually does, with a martini, snarl, and shotgun blast, but it could actually mean that Cheney could conceivably step down for health reasons, probably sometime next year.

Which brings up some pretty interesting political ju-jitsu in that Bush would probably appoint a VP (as Nixon did when Agnew stepped down). Else, following the line of succession, I believe it would go to the Speaker of the House (if I’m remembering my history right), and there’s no way they’d let Nancy Pelosi be VP. The natural instinct would be appoint one of the Republican candidates, most likely Rudy “Let me tell you about 911” Guiliani. But would a candidate want to be associated with a president who, yes, actually has lower approval numbers than Nixon when that Dick resigned?

Magic bullet: Condi Rice. Screw you, Hillary and Barack.

I never thought I’d say this, but: Live, Dick! Live!


Irregular Dick


This just in…Vice President Dick Cheney has been hospitalized with something they’re calling an irregular heart condition. Which makes about as much sense as Scarlett Johansson being hospitalized for testicular torsion. Obviously, the Darth blew a capacitor or something. I’m sure they’ll have him up and shooting friends in the face in no time.


The Thousand-Yard Stare

This weekend, I saw “I’m Not There,” Todd Haynes’ film about Bob Dylan. Portland has a couple notable filmmakers. Haynes is one of them. He’s made a beautiful film, the kind you walk out of thinking: I wish I’d made that. If you’re out there, Mr. Haynes, thank you.

Growing up, I never paid much attention to Dylan. Knew who he was. Knew “Like a Rolling Stone,” of course. Everybody knew that, along with a handful of the protest songs, maybe “Mr. Tambourine Man.” He just never quite clicked. The Stones fit so much better with all the testosterone I was dealing with.

It was when I got to college and ran into “Subterranean Homesick Blues” for an intro to poetry class that I went: hmm. This is interesting. A friend’s girlfriend (who I was secretly in love with) loaned me “Bringing It All Back Home,” and, wham! I had to hear everything he’d done. Right now.

And I pretty much have. Dylan’s work is hard to like. You have to be flexible. Work on faith. I don’t think he even delights in confounding us–he just keeps moving, following his instincts, and we come along or not. I think he’s had to, so many people trying to fit him in a frame, hang him on a wall. “Poet” is a pretty hard brand to market. Almost as tough as selling poetry.

Other musicians, I like their sound or lyrics or the mood or time they take me to. I like some songs from almost every genre. A few bands–the Stones, the Airplane, the Doors, the Clash, REM, Nirvana, U2–are inextricably woven into places and events of my life. But I think only Dylan’s work has gone as deep, reached down and become one with my personal history.

“Blind Willie McTell” says pretty much everything I feel about America: bountiful, damned, mysterious. Haunted.

A lone tree in an empty field erupts in flame. Burns. Silently falls to the group. Smoke rises through dusk. Then all is dark, save a red moon rising.


The Glory that is Denial

We’re having a pre-production meeting for “Dead of Winter” today, which is great–it’ll be wonderful to get the ship up and running, and all the pieces are coming together nicely. It also means that’ll no longer be able to pretend that I’m not going to be a producer again.

Don’t get me wrong: I love producing. It’s like hammering together a ship out of balsa wood and seeing if you can get it through the rapids. When it works, it’s immensely satisfying. When it doesn’t…well, it doesn’t. This is more a feeling of inevitability, like knowing you’re really going to see the surgeon or walking into the final exam room. Because the switch flips, and, suddenly, it’s not your life anymore. You belong to the play. When I think of holding down a job, all the plays I have in progress and to market, and just the obligations of paying bills and going to the grocery store, I hear this tremendous sucking sound at the back of my brain, and my eyes pull back in their sockets, and all my energy ebbs from a hole at the bottom of my spine.

Or something like that.

On the other hand, I can look forward to the stuff that makes it worthwhile. One would think those are opening nights, getting good reviews, and counting the final box office, but, really, the small moments remain with you. The ones hanging around outside with the smoking brigade and telling theatre war stories. They’re finding these unexpected moments during rehearsal when everyone rocks back at once and goes “yes!” And they’re even that nth hour during tech week when you’re so goddamned tired that you’re beyond tired (and there’s no fatigue like theatre fatigue, baby, unless maybe it’s having a loved one in the hospital), and, man, you just can’t hack it, and suddenly something funny–or maybe just borderline funny–hits you, and you completely go to pieces with hysterical laughter. The kind where you can’t breathe and you’re begging it to stop and your cast and crew are looking at you like, uh, he’s the guy in charge…we are so screwed.

And then there’s the bar. The post-show bar is a strange and beautiful thing, where people tell each other the damndest, personal, stuff. When I think back on a dozen of my favorite productions, I see my comrades in that vaguely sallow bar light, with cigarettes burning and empty beer glasses flecked with foam. Their arms are around each other. They’re laughing or bitching or some combination of the two. And that’s when I think, Patterson, you’re a very lucky guy.


Landmarks

Warren Zevon, rocker beloved of writers (Hunter Thompson, Paul Muldoon, many others), had that writer’s eye and ear for telling details. So you listen to a Zevon song, and you’re in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel,* drinking up all the salty margaritas in Los Angeles and listening to the air conditioner hum while you think about the girl you met at the Rainbow Bar; she took you back to the Hyatt House and…well, you don’t really want to talk about it.

Don’t look for the Pioneer Chicken Stand down on Alvarado Street, it’s apparently gone, and the man with the goods has certainly moved on to another locale, but, if you happen to be walking through SoHo (London version) in the rain, apparently you can drop by Le Ho Fooks, get a big dish of beef chow mein, then wash it down with a pina colada at Trader Vic’s. An intrepid blogger has logged the evidence:

And they were doin’ the Werewolves of London….

Now if I could just figure out where the Double-E runs…poor poor pitiful me.

Steve

*Sad to say, the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel has apparently been converted into the Princess Grace Apartments. No, I’m not making that up.


Status Report

Here we are, coming down to the end of the year, and where the hell am I?

Well…busy. Upcoming production of “Dead of Winter” in Portland, come February. “Waiting on Sean Flynn” goes up in Detroit in March, and a short piece is scheduled to be part of a “Seven Deadly Sins” show in L.A. in May (my sin is greed, which I know practically nothing about). Reading 10-minute plays based on/insprired by Pere Ubu, an amazing stack of stuff with more coming in every day, for a reading and possible production next year. Plus a TBA production for June. Working on some other super secret for your eyes only projects that, ahem, of course I can’t reveal at the moment.

After a long bout of writer’s block–very uncharacteristic for me, been writing like a bastard. Since summer, first drafts of a surreal one hour, one-act called “Farmhouse”; a shorter one-act about politics tentatively called “Night Flight from Houston”; a serious two-act called “Next of Kin”; and a rather unhinged two-act called (wait for it)…”Rimbaud’s Daughter in Louisiana (or the Drunken Pirogue.” Christ. What the hell’s wrong with me?

A bunch of stuff out with theatres that I’m waiting to hear on (a feeling akin to being stuck on the tarmac sans AC in August), but it’s time to get back on the marketing bandwagon, so I figure I’ll take some of the Christmas holidays to get some queries stuffed in envelopes. When I look at the backlog, I must have at least four or five full-lengths that have been done and that I’m comfortable shopping around, and it’s time to hunt premieres for “Lost Wavelengths” and “Turquoise and Obsidian.” Of course, still searching for that elusive New York production. And, when I take a deep breath, I sometimes think about the joys of pursuing an agent, but then this kind of gray and purple, Jackson Pollock mist slithers into my brain and my eyes glaze over and my head lists slightly to the side and drool begins to drip from my open mouth….

Jesus, Patterson, we don’t have the slightest idea what the hell you’re talking about! You writers are so goddamned self-involved! Get back to…dissing politicians or something.

Okay. Scott McClellan, Bush’s former press secretary, is coming out with a new book in which he says, yeah, yeah, we all knew who outed Valerie Plame and it was the president and vice-president, and I stood in front of everybody and lied my ass off, but it was my job, all right, and, by the way, the president is a filthy liar. Liar, liar, liar.

But then, you already knew that.


My Brain Hurts

Okay. So here’s one that separates the true political junkies from the dabblers. Robert Novak (aka “The Prince of Darkness”) drops a teasing little line in his column that the Clinton campaign has sordid dirt on Obama but won’t use it. Obama comes out swinging, saying he won’t be “swift boated” and the Clinton campaign says it’s a load of bullshit, they have no such info, and what a sap Obama is for falling for a Republican dirty trick. Who wins? You have 30 seconds.

Evil Bastard

Bob Novak, of course, who will say and do anything and has no professional scruples whatsoever and outed Valerie Plame but never went to goddamn jail for it. He kind of waves the trinket, ooh, bright and shiny, and the next thing you know, the kittens are fighting over it. How does this help Republicans (which is really Novak’s game)? It makes voters so disgusted with politics that they stay home.

As Louis Armstrong sang, “It’s a wonderful world.”

The flip side of this is former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean has endorsed John McCain, which is pretty damn funny because Kean sat on the 911 commission, was the governor of the state adjacent to New York, yet doesn’t endorse Rudy “911” Guiliani. Which is just about as big a kick in the nads as you can get in Republican politics, especially since Rudy stepped off the 911 commission so he could make a buncha bucks giving speeches about how brave and selfless he was during 911. (Inside dope: Rudy was peeing his pants.)

Why anybody in the right mind pays any attention to Novak is beyond me, much less why anyone would continue to hire/publish this steaming turd molded into semi-human shape, but I think it’s fair to say that he’ll be thrashing around like a cornered animal for the next twelve months, trying to set as many fires are he can, because, come December 2008, the game’ll be up and it’ll be time for Mr. Novak to move into assisted living. I don’t think he’ll retire to “spend more time with his family” because, seriously, who’d want to hang with Mr. Lizard?