I was lucky enough to participate in the Months of Love and Fear challenges with Steen.
With each piece she contributed I grew more and more impressed.
I do not know Steen, but hope to one day rub elbows – maybe some of her astonishing sense of character and design will rub off!
Theatre poster of the week, Blithe Spirit b
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
Guard 1 – Surly. Disgusted by Evan. No time for small talk.
Guard 2 – Rough. Hates Evan’s guts. No time for small talk.
Evan Mould – Funeral Director with a difference, mid-thirties, southern accent.
Dan Bailey – State prosecutor, mid-thirties, grave, an old friend of the Mould family. Has a manila folder with papers that he shuffles through nervously. Avoids eye contact.
(A windowless conference room in a Southern prison. One table front & center with two chairs. Lights up on the table and Dan sitting, thinking, his briefcase sits near his side. The door opens and the two guards escort Evan in.)
Guard 1: (to Dan) Here’s the defendant you ordered, sir….
Guard 2: (to Evan) Enjoy your visit, you little goat-fucker.
(Guards exit and shut door hard behind them. Dan rises, briefly considers shaking Evan’s hand. Doesn’t. Dan sits back down.)
Evan: Nice to see you too, Dan. You wouldn’t want those guards thinking we grew up together or anything would you?
(Evan sits down)
Dan: Look, I’m not here as your friend, Evan. I’m here off the record- To see if we can’t diffuse this… this situation. If not, I’ll be prosecuting you tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that any more than you are.
Evan: But, Dan, I am looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since they picked me up. I’ve got nothing to hide, man. You ought to know that. It’s not like I plan to wear a bulletproof vest for the rest of my life. The sooner this kangaroo court is done a-hopping, the better for everyone.
Dan: I’m sorry about the guards just now. That’s just unprofessional.
Evan: He’s just pissed about what he thinks I did with his sister… No big deal. He’s the least of my problems now, believe me. I’ve had death threats coming every day in the mail. Did you hear about the bomb they planted in my car? There are some crazy ass redneck fools in this town, Dan …and they all want me dead. Assholes.
(a momentary awkward silence)
Dan: (resigned) OK. You want to tell me about it?
Evan: About what?
Dan: About what you’ve done…
Evan: What I’ve done!?! I haven’t done a damned thing, Dan. It ain’t exactly a sin of commission we’re talking about here. You and the DA gonna throw the book at me for a little littering?
Dan: (disbelieving) Littering? A little littering!?! Come on, Evan, I think we both know better than that. Don’t we?
Evan: Yeah, you’re right. It’s not even littering, ’cause it’s my damn property to begin with. And it’s all biodegradable- All of it. That’s nature’s plan, Dan. Funny what you forget when you go off to Tulane. Too much law, too little sense.
Dan: Surely even you understand all the fraud charges. There are four hundred and nineteen of them so far.
Evan: Don’t talk to me about fraud, Dan. This blessed state of ours wants every corpse in a coffin, even those bound for cremation. That’s the real death tax. Death and Taxes, together again…
You ever hear those coffin salesman tell the truth? You ever hear them talk about the need to air out a corpse? How the methane builds up? How those fancy airtight coffins explode? You ever hear them talking about dressing the dead? About the all that waste? No?
You ever see the other morticians at work, Dan? All that wax, all those needles, the toupees, the make up? It’s like being backstage in Vegas with Wayne Newton. Those morticians are God damn magicians at making the money of the bereaved disappear. Into thin and rotting air.
You gonna sit there and tell me you never knew that our business was different? All those meals together? All the times you borrowed my old man’s suits? All the times you took some of mama’s prize-winning roses to your girl? All those times you “respectfully suggested” that we raise our prices, told us we were “noncompetitive and should be more like the other mortuaries”?
You just weren’t paying attention, Dan. The truth is, the Mould family practices what we preach- “From the earth we are made. From the Earth we shall return.” Always have, always will. You tell me what’s wrong in that.
Dan: It’s illegal, for starters. The whole town wants you dead.
Evan: This whole town don’t know its ass from its elbow, Dan. Hell, half of them still think we won the war.
Dan: (reluctant) And there is the desecration of all those bodies to consider.
Evan: That’s all they are, Dan. Bodies. There’s nobody home. The lights are out for good. There’s nobody left inside to worry about where the bodies lie. I could stack them up like so much cord wood or pose them like dogs playing poker. Hell, I could dress ‘em in capes and spandex and put them on my roof. The plain truth is, they just don’t care. They are empty envelopes whose contents have all been skillfully removed by a hand mightier than yours or mine… You think tearing down a forest and spending a fortune on an industrial furnace is more “sacred”? We human beings are scum, Dan- Scum – Lawyers like you most of all. The least—hell, the most—we can do is leave our bodies to the soil.
Dan: They are talking about the death penalty, Evan. Some people are talking about… about leaving your body out to rot afterward, just like you did with all those others.
Evan: And teach them the lesson first hand? (thinks for a moment) Sure, Dan. I’m up for that. Just make sure you come and pick a rose off me every now and then, ya hear?
Theatre poster of the week, Lettice and Lovage
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
(lights up full)
A picture is not worth a thousand words – it’s really worth a good two thousand – minimum. It doesn’t have to be some Impressionist treasure, or a Pre-Raphaelite allegory either. It could be an old black and white photograph – hinting at a film noir menace in its inky shadows. However sunny the world was when the picture was snapped, the shadows lengthen over time as the photo cracks and flakes. Pictures capture something vital, not necessarily your soul – though in the case of some of you here, it would explain a great deal – but truth.
Picture This: A small child, barely a toddler, is taking his first steps. He’s beginning to fall backwards, arms held out for support that may not come. A baby deer caught in headlights. His fluffy, fleecy, too-large, footie pajamas are also caught in the blinding flash and glow as white as phosphorus. He looks like a baby David Byrne in that big white suit from Stop Making Sense. You may say to yourself “this is not my beautiful house”.
You may say to yourself “these are not my beautiful jammies”. You’ll have guessed by now that the child in the photograph is me.
And it’s a funny picture, but not as funny as it should be. Something’s wrong with it – something as subtle as it is important. If you didn’t know my family, you’d never guess. You’d never notice; and if you did, you’d explain it away as a trick of the light.
In the background, behind the falling child I was, my mother is seen sitting in a chair. You can’t see her face, or her arms or much else really, but it’s definitely her. All you can really see is her leg. That’s enough to tell you that it’s my mom. She had fine legs – really lovely legs. She was gorgeous. But in the picture, the white-hot flash seems to somehow – reflect – off her leg.
That’s the problem. Below her knee, revealed by the camera’s flash, is a shiny smooth fitted prosthesis. A new leg to designed to match the beautiful leg she’d so recently lost. And in shape, there is no discernible difference. In reflection though, the difference is laid bare.
I grew up with a mom who was smart and funny and sarcastic and wouldn’t dance.
I don’t remember how old I was the first time I heard the story of her missing leg or how many times I’ve heard it since. I ask her about it time and again- On my last visit with her and all the visits I can remember. It’s not that I like to hear about it, I don’t even like to think about it.
It’s the truth of it that I wonder about. I still doubt the story that I’ve heard so often. The truth seems so out of reach and the story… Well. Here’s the story:
My dad was a pioneer boy. Born and raised in Rifle, Colorado. Learned to swim when his brothers threw him off a bridge into the roaring, ice-cold Colorado River. Trapped beaver and muskrat and put the furs on the train to Chicago. Hunted deer & elk on the high winter mountains, for meat- not sport. Never excelled in school because there too much farm work to do.
One day he met a beautiful blonde- a worldly city girl from L.A. A teacher. He courted her and won her hand in marriage. They left the homestead and went to Laramie, Wyoming. They lived in the basement of house owned by the most wonderful people… and they were so, so happy there…
One day, their landlords went out of town, on vacation. My parents were left to look after the place…Of course they could watch the house, anyone could do that… But how could they show the same kind of care and consideration that their landlords had shown to them? What unique skills did they have that might go that extra step? Well, my Dad could clean their guns… Sound FX: (Loud Gunshot!)
My father would never keep a loaded gun in the house, and assumed no one else would either. That’s the story… and try as I may, I just I can’t believe it’s true. My father is the most competent and logical craftsman you’ll ever hope to meet. He’s been a miner, a lumberjack, a carpenter, a builder, a fire fighter, a teacher, an administrator and a hunter. Despite his upbringing – or maybe because of it – he’s a very smart man. That’s why the story about the landlord’s loaded gun seems so wrong, so out of place in a life like his. But right or wrong, it’s their story and they’re sticking to it. And if not that, then what? Are there better answers? None that I have ever thought of…
I’ve wondered about the truth of it for years. I knew that the doctors had taken the skin from her heal and stitched it to shattered leg that was left, but to picture the detached leg… The sudden firing. The smell of gunpowder. The shock of the blast. My mother’s leg. Blown… off. The spattered blood, the shattered bone. The pain, the cries, and the frantic emergency calls. The guilt. Can you imagine the guilt?
I think that was the defining moment of their relationship. Whatever else had come before, this was the moment of truth. I can never know what really happened that day, what’s really reflected in the picture of a flailing toddler and his mother’s false leg… I can never know the truth because I was not there. But I do know that my parents love each other still, and are growing old together with love. That’s the only truth I know.
Terese Neilsen is inspired by the best and you can see their influences in subtle ways throughout her long and wonderful career – a little Bernie Fuchs here, a little Dave McKean and Bill Sienkewicz there. Throughout her career, she has excelled – whether working on Star Wars, Magic the Gathering or her recent paintings of Angels. I hope you like her work as much as I do.
Theatre poster of the week, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
Ali – A smart and thoughtful young woman – principled and straightforward.
Johnson – A slightly sputtery authority figure.
Eric – A cool young man.
(lights up full)
Ali: You wanted to see me?
Johnson: Yes, Alison, I did. Have you reconsidered my offer?
Ali: (stern) Yes, Sir, I have.
Ali: And I’m afraid I still can’t accept.
Johnson: (surprised) …because?
(slightly longer pause)
Ali: Because it’s Fascism, Sir, plain and simple. I refuse to be involved with anything so morally bankrupt.
Johnson: (in total disbelief) …Morally bankrupt? …Fascism? I’m not sure I—
Ali: (interrupting) Don’t patronize me, Sir. You know perfectly well what I’m talking about. (begins to rant). Fascism is extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates conformity to a mythical standard of “normalcy”. It cuts through all other notions of what is right or natural. It attempts to lull us into a false sense that there is no death or decay, just your perfect – and perfectly artificial – status quo. Any natural tendencies toward variety or individualism threaten your perfect organic community and must be crushed beneath your jack-booted feet.
Johnson: (getting a word in) Now look here, I don’t even wear boots and you know—
Ali: (cuts him off, continues ranting) Your sort of Fascism promotes the idea of (counting them off on her fingers) class superiority, hybrid inferiority, persecution, territorialism, expansion, and – of course – (her sixth finger raised is a forefinger that she points accusatorily at Johnson) genocide. Oh, it wears the face of a socially acceptable, politically correct movement. Of course it claims a noble pedigree, but please! It’s a Procrustean hotbed of senseless conformity that flies in the face of science and nature. It’s a violent and elitist tradition that has traditionally be the province of pampered young men. You feel that I’m lucky to even be offered this job, because I’m a girl – a woman, but the truth is no one is lucky to have this job. This job – this working for the man, for the Fascist pig dog – this job sucks! I pity you, Sir. I really do. Good day.
(Ali turns and walks to the door. Eric enters as Ali exits. She gives him a dirty look as she passes.)
Johnson: (turns to Eric and sighs) Well… your sister still won’t mow the lawn. I guess I’ll need to raise the price after all.
Eric: A cool 20, minimum.(pause) Ya big Fascist.
(quick fade to black.)
I’m looking forward to the convention and to seeing New Mexico, especially Meow Wolf.
Theatre poster of the week, Wonderful World of Dissocia b
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
Angela – A beautiful and ambitious chat show hostess.
Nigel – Famous rock star, aging but still vital. Very comfortable with his fame.
Cue Card Holder – A man doing a job.
(lights up full)
Angela: To those of you just tuning in, welcome. You’ll recognize our guest – He’s headlining a solo tour while the rest of the boys in the band are in rehab!
I am delighted to welcome the one, the only – Nigel!
(A few bars of Classic Rock are played as Nigel enters. Cue Card Holder stands and shows the “Applause” card briefly and sits back down. Nigel enters to audience applause. Angela gets up to greet him. They both sit down.)
Angela: Welcome. Welcome. Make yourself at home.
Nigel: Hey Angela. Always nice to see you too, love.
Angela: That was an amazing show you put on last night at the Omni. All the old hits… well, not all the old hits of course –There wouldn’t be time for all of them in a 3 hour show. But listening to you sing all those classics got me thinking… You’re sixty years old, is that right?
Nigel: Yeah love, sixty. What’s it to you?
Angela: (a little taken aback) Well… um. I wondered how you had the energy to be whooping it up on stage night after—
Nigel: (interrupting) You should see me after I leave the stage, love.
Angela: …night – energy when most of your contemporaries are resting comfortably in their Florida retirement homes. What keep you going, Nigel?
Nigel: Legacy, Angela. Legacy.
Angela: And what do you feel your legacy is, Nigel? I mean, you’ve been a Rock & Roll God for four decades now, so when you say “legacy” Nigel, just what do you mean?
Nigel: I mean – the reason I got into this game in the first place.
Angela: And why was that, Nigel?
Nigel: (quickly) Crumpet.
Angela: (cluelessly) Crumpet?
Nigel: You know… Cun– (Stops mid-word. Smiles slyly, looks around.)
What we wanted then – it’s the same thing we want now. It’s just that with age, we look at it a bit, y’know – differently. With more perspective. You know when we was young, we looked at the great Blues guys, cause they got all the chicks. And they were just poor Negroes. I mean we didn’t look too bad by way of contrast. So we thought – well! Yeah!
Angela: Sex?!? That’s it? That’s your legacy?
Nigel: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it, love. (Chuckles and pauses for audience laughter) But seriously, legacy is what you leave the world, am I right? So I asked myself – “Nigel” I says, “what will people remember in a thousand years time? What’s gonna last? What’s gonna go the distance?” (looks pensive) And the answer isn’t my money, not my fame. My music… (looks to the audience and archly raises a brow) … well, I suppose there might be an outside chance at that. But the real answer is genes, Angela — Children.
Angela: (back on track) And you’ve just had your 9th child named… (finds it in notes) Ruby – with the voluptuous young South African… um, (tries to think of nice way to say porn star) “model” Alexandra van Houten. Is that right?
Nigel: Ruby – Yeah. Cute little thing she is too. Mark my words, she’ll be a heartbreaker like her mom. (smiles) But that’s not really my point, Angela.
Nigel: You ever hear of a chap called Screamin’ Jay Hawkins?
Angela: (stumped, she looks into the audience hopefully) um…
Cue Card Holder: (audible whisper) “I Put a Spell on You!”
Angela: (relieved) Ah – “I Put A Spell On You”. (expectant smile) That guy?
Nigel: (bemused) Yeah, that guy – I caught his act once in California – what a showman! And amazingly successful, genetically speaking.
Angela: What do you mean – ‘genetically successful’?
Nigel : (nodding) Screamin’ Jay Hawkins has 95 kids confirmed and only married once. No telling how many others there are out there… he probably has 300 grandkids by now…
That’s what it’s all about, love. It’s about unlimited numbers of very fertile and very willing young girls; enough money to buy them trinkets and treat the clap; enough prestige so the mothers of your children around the world think they’re doing the world a favor while remaining at a discreet distance; and above all – Above all it’s about the genes. That’s a legacy, love.
Angela: So you’re implying that you have more than 9 children?
Nigel: (disbelieving her naivety) Implyin’? Please… Here’s Screamin’ Jay with a cool hundred kids, and you never even heard of him. Well, you’ve jolly well heard of me! So just imagine how many little Nigels there are out in the world today, love.
Angela: (incredulous) That’s a lot of single mothers, Nigel. Surely someone would notice.
Nigel: Someone in the press you mean? Someone I haven’t done in the press? Someone who don’t want to be me in the press? People see what they want to see. ‘Specially when it comes to sex…
Do you know what the word Cuckold means, love? It’s like the cuckoo bird leavin’ eggs in someone else’s nest. If I told you how many married women I’d had, you wouldn’t believe me. Sometimes the man gets a whiff that the baby isn’t his, and sometimes he knows for a solid fact. But that don’t stop anything. Never has and it never will. Sometimes I find a gold digger like Alexandra, or she finds me. But truth is, she was worth it. Got out of that marriage, got another lovely little girl, and got another great piece of ass into the bargain. And, believe it or not, I’d never done it in the Voortrekker Monument before…
Angela: But surely, you don’t plan on keeping up this… “lifestyle” forever? Not when you’re …85?
Nigel: That’s what you think, love.
It’s the muscle memory that matters, love, not the skin. I figure with clean living and science on my side, I should be good for a 100 – or maybe more – before my time expires. And these days, it’s only beauties for me, love. You get better kids that way. And they’re more fun to look at from the backside too, even if the young one’s need some schoolin’.
Angela: Ahem…(looks at watch) well that about wraps it up for us here on the Angela Darling show. A big thanks to our guest for a very revealing interview!
(Cue Card Holder stands and shows the “Applause” card briefly and sits back down.)
Nigel: (leans in) So beautiful, you wanna shag?
Angela: (coyly) Sure… (she smiles wide and leans in for a kiss) …Dad.
Like most of the artists whose work I’ll be sharing here over the coming weeks, Tran Nguyen’s lovely and intimate work speaks fluently for itself – predominately on book covers and in galleries around the world. I first encountered her dreamy portraits of young women lying on rooftops much smaller than they were – possibly her take on Alice in Wonderland as imagined by Rene Magritte:
TASTE FOR BITTERSWEET BEDS (“A Place Procured From Our Yesteryears” exhibition)
Then I saw this piece (in Spectrum if memory serves) seemingly inspired by Gustav Klimt by way of Jody Lee. Beautiful in its patterns and tones, and oblique. I looked at it again and again:
OUR FLUTTER-SOME ORDEAL (“Nurturing the Uneased Soul” exhibition)
Theatre poster of the week, Godspell.
No Shame Theatre post of the week.
A Republican Reverie
A piece for two voices Voice 1: Bold Text Voice 2: Italic Text
(lights up full)
All the presidents menus
Caviar without caveat.
The Emperor’s New Clotheshorse
Wayne Newton joins the Dick Armey
How the Newt Gingrich stole Christmas
How Do Ron Ron?
Enron, L. Ron
Don Regan, Ron Reagan.
Nancy boys and Hardy Boys
The religious right, the religious right now.
Diabetics for Dianetics.
Rehnquist and shout.
Currying favor, carrying furor
Vested interests, interesting vests.
Caesar Dressing, undressing at the palace.
Julius and Sid. Milton Burlesque,
A John Milton Omar Bradley Game.
Fun for the whole family values.
Look on my works ye mighty.