Thursday, November 19, 2009

I am Robbie: the coolest, most powerful human ruler in the entire universe.
The earth shall sink and I shall rise above, ruler of all. As the new King of Middle Earth, I command all to bow down to me!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Analysis of a movie

I saw "Snow Falling on Cedars." Loved it. My friends commented on the fact that they'd like to see the screenplay for the movie as we were watching it, because it's so different. I would agree, but mostly because I am interested in how much was written in and how much was just an interesting editing choice.

So many things make this movie interesting. For example, the protagonist has only one arm through the entire movie, and thought this is clearly visible upon a rewatching, they somehow draw the viewer's attention away from it until a particular point in the movie when it is "revealed." The character's dialog reveals subtle racism, which becomes more apparent over time and is eventually torn apart by a very moving monologue from Max Von Sydow's octogenarian character:

"I feel like a traveler descended from Mars, astonished at what passes here. What I see is the same human frailty passed from generation to generation. We hate one another. We are the victims of irrational fears. You may think this is a small trial. In a small place. Well, it isn't. Every once in a while, somewhere in the world, humanity goes on trial. And integrity. And decency. Every once in awhile, common folks get called on to give the report card for the human race."

Von Sydow's character doesn't only speak in long diatribes, but also frequently offers up succinct aphorisms: "Accident rules every corner of the Universe. Except, perhaps, for the chambers of the human heart." Brilliant.

The film messes with time, being set against the backdrop of a murder trial, but continually flashing back and forward to moments that a relevant to the facts of the case and the relationships of the people involved. Even as we're hearing testimony, we are seeing flashes of scenes from time periods all over the plot. It's challenging, at first, to try to figure out when and where we are at different points in the movie.

The movie is breathtaking in its scope of theme. It touches upon so many major important themes to humanity. Love and betrayal, grief, pain, loss, life and death, war and peace, hatred and racism and prejudice, justice and mercy, forgiveness, murder, deceit, marriage, sex, money, fear, happiness, regret, parenthood, etc. It is set on land and sea, in snow and rain and sunshine and dark of night. I can't imagine even attempting to write a story or script that included all of those elements.

There are many explicit and implicit messages laced beautifully throughout the movie. The characters' speech never begins to feel expository or forced. The other interesting thing about the dialog in this movie is that it often takes a back seat to the music or other sounds. Often a characters lines will fade in and out, or the beginnings of what they say will echo over the rest of the sentence for impact. This is another place where I wonder how much was written, and how much was merely edited that way. Some of the echos come half an hour before we are shown the actual context for them, as are may visuals in the movie.

In the end, Ishmael's forgiveness of the betrayal inflicted upon him by Hatzue is a metaphor for the healing of America's relations with Japan, and Hatzue's eventual acceptance of Ishmael becomes a symbol for Japanese patriots who were forced to live in internment camps and their forgiveness of a nation would place them there.

Analysis of a play

I saw Wicked. I know that the cool thing to do in the theater department is to rag on it for its pageantry, but I loved it.

The show is precariously balanced around the plot of the Wizard of Oz. It cleverly balances the differences between the book and the movie, so that it could be a sequel to either one. For example, the slippers that are described as "silver" in the Wizard of Oz the book and "ruby" in the movie version are described as silver and jeweled here, and mention is made of the fact that they change colors in the light.

The lyrics to the song are fun and clever, e.g. "And with an assist from me to be who you'll be, instead of dreary who you were... are... There's nothing that'll stop you from becoming pop-u-ler.... lar!" That cracks me up.

Aside from the music, the script is cheeky and filled with wordplay. We get such accidental neologisms as "scandalacious" (a combination of "scandalous" and "salacious"), and "hideodious" ("hideous" and "odious")peppered throughout the show. It's also amazing to see how the play takes a very familiar story and turns it on its head; the Wizard, Tin Man, and Lion are conspiring in a plot to kill the witch, the Wicked Witch of the East's death is a political assassination, et cetera. Especially during the second act, all of the pieces start to come together to set up the story we all already know.

Aside from the cleverness, however, there is still a great deal of relatability. I loved the contrast of the choices made by the two witches, Glinda and Elphaba. One chooses to stay within the system she knows is corrupt, in order to have greater influence in changing it. The other is too bound by principle to be able to remain inside, and must fight from the outside, eventually becoming a martyr. Anyone who has any political leanings at all or who has fought against something bigger than himself whould be able to see parallels to his own life here. Those who feel like outcasts (and in today's society, who doesn't?) will see themselves in poor green Elphaba's shoes. And the main theme of the story makes us reconsider what we think of as wicked, ugly, and wrong. I found the musical to be an ingenious vehicle for important moral questions. The fact that it comes wrapped in shiny over-the-top musical numbers and visual effects should not detract from the incredible writing of the show.


My buddy Glade and I just finished making the movie version of the BFG for Jonny, the boy Glade tutors in math. Jonny is fourteen and has Down Syndrome. Glade and Jonny went over the script, which ended up being pretty prosaic, and then it was up to me and Glade to film it. The obvious challenge was making Glade look like a giant while making Jonny look like a little girl. Fortunately for everyone, I've seen ALL of the extra features on the Lord of the Rings DVDs, so I knew a thing or two about miniatures and forced perspective. I'm really pleased with the way it came out, and I've even had friends request to re-watch it, so I'm starting to think that maybe I have a knack for this film thing. :)

Suicide Show

I don't want to give away any details on here, because I think he might actually literally kill me, but Josh French and I have been working on his script for a TV show that's a black comedy. I think his idea is inspired, and I've been having my own flashes of inspiration for it a well. I thought I'd just share the concept of one part that I wrote, and I'll delete it after a few days so no one can steal it.

Picture a widow, in her 50s or 60s. Hoity toity. Has a bunch of upper crusty friends. She's a devotee of a certain psychic, who we believe to be actually a conman who's been using her thirty years. Twenty years ago, he predicted her death would be on a certain day that's coming up. She has recently reached the end of her funds, having supported the parasite for all this time, and on top of that, she's begun to doubt his abilities at all. But she's far too vain to let anyone know that the man on whom she's doted and lavished all this time is actually a leech, and, not having anything to live for, she's decided to hire our protagonists to make it look like a suicide on the ordained day, so as not to look like her life has been in vain.

On the appointed day, our heroes make several attempts to kill the lady and make it look like an accident, but something goes awry at each attempt. Just when it looks completely hopeless (and after they've spent the last of her money), she dies right before the stroke of midnight in a freak accident anyway! Our heroes are mystified!

And THEN we learn (though our protagonists don't) that the psychic himself had killed the old woman, and left with all her cash.

Pretty good?

I have a couple more of these, but to share them publicly would probably give away too much of what Josh has come up with, and I think it's great. Anyway, I really believe in this project, and am excited to see it go somewhere.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Monkey Pit.

That title has nothing to do with the post.

So, two weeks ago, I decided to sleep in the laundry room of an apartment building where I used to live. I had a really good reason; It was four in the morning, I had to be up at 8, and I had to have all my laundry done. I don't have a car, so I decided to just chill in the laundry room while the clothes were getting cleaned, and have my ride pick me up down there. The laundry room in question doubles as a storage room for any extra furniture, so I figured I'd have a couch to sleep on at the very least.

I carried my laundry basket the three blocks, along with a pillow and a blanket. I scoped out my sleeping arrangements as I was separating the laundry into the various machines. There was no longer a couch, but there were two mattresses leaning against the wall. Perfect. I flipped the larger, outer one over, and lay down on it and promptly fell asleep.

I awoke a little while later with a distinct feeling that someone else was in the room with me. That freaked me out a bit. I opened my eyes. It was nearly pitch black, and I was facing the wall in the space just above the other mattress that was still leaning against it. Without moving, I said, "hello?"

There's this moment in "Signs" that scares me to pieces. Mel Gibson's character is looking out his window at the barn. It's pretty dark out there, and the viewer can't be entirely sure of what he's seeing, and then suddenly something in the blackness moves, and you realize there was an alien standing there in plain sight all along. When I saw that movie, I screamed hysterically.

Almost as hysterically as I screamed in that laundry room when a dark patch mere inches from my face raised up to eye level and responded in a meek voice: "hi."

When I was done screaming, and after I shouted "What the HELL!" I gathered myself to ask, "who are you?"

"I'm Darwin."

"Darwin? Do you live in here?"

"I don't live in here. I just survive in here, I guess."

He had been asleep in the space between the mattresses and the wall when I had first come in, I now realized. The mattresses had been his little lean-to shelter.

I was still breathing heavily, my heart rate at LEAST 180. "Oh, man, you scared me to death!"

"Sorry," came his feeble reply. Try as I might, I couldn't make out any feature of his face besides its silhouette. "I thought you knew I was in here when you laid down."

"No, I did NOT know you were there," I assured him.

"Well, don't tell anyone I was here, okay? They already caught me once, and they said if they catch me again I'm going to jail.

"Ok," I lied, already thinking about how I would blog about this, and maybe eventually turn it into a short film.

I got up, switched my clothes over to the dryers, and went back to sleep next to Darwin, who, despite having frightened me so badly, did not actually seem all that scary.

In the morning, I tried to get a picture of him, but it was still too dark in there. I called my friend Heather, who works at the Food and Care Coalition, and she told me that Darwin was not at all scary, and that he was one of the cleaner homelesses they got, so there was probably little concern of my having gotten fleas or lice from sleeping with him.

Larp I

For your reference, here is the movie we made before. It's written by me and my buddy Evan Mabry. It's basically no-budget, which is why I latched onto the idea in the first place, because it can be made for so cheap, and the cheaper the funnier, in this case. Enjoy!

Depending on your internet connection, you might need to wait for it to load a bit. You can also try them at their youtube locations here, here, and here.


I can't do it. I don't know what my problem is, but I cannot write a dramatic piece. I think it has to do with the fact that I find humor in everything I do in real life. I'm starting to wonder whether there's some human emotion that experiences the very serious side of life that is missing or broken in my brain. Even in the most boring sacrament meeting, the most frighteningly dangerous situation, or the saddest circumstances, my brain is constantly writing my life as a humorous memoir to be shared with others later and make them laugh.

By the time I sit down at the computer to record the event, it;s just a matter of getting the thing out of my brain and onto paper, fully formed. I don't write in drafts, generally. The earlier drafts are revised long before I ever let any of it out of my head.

Anyway, this deficiency of drama has me wondering what it is that makes something a drama. I'm a smart guy, and feel that I should be able to figure this out.

Drama does NOT mean the absence of humor, because there are some hilarious moments in even the grisliest of Shakespeare's tragedies. Drama isn't ensured just by killing everyone off, because you have movies like "Mars Attacks."

What's interesting is that dramas are my favorites. I don't even watch comedies, generally. While everyone raves about The Office, I'm watching 24 and LOST.

Maybe 24 can help me. It seems that the stakes are always very high. Drama seems to be about betrayal and death and war. Comedies are about misunderstanding and love and injury. Maybe I can write a drama if I just crank everything up a couple of notches. I'll work on this.

Health Class

Sometimes life itself is the fodder for a good script. My Health class the other day played out like a scene from Mean Girls. I grabbed a pencil and started writing things down as son as I realized the comedic goldmine that that class is during our group presentations the other day. The assignment was to do a two-minute presentation on any health subject we wanted. Here are the highlights:

Slutty-looking girl with smoker voice and nose ring:

I decided to do my paper on binge drinking. Ok, I like to party on weekends, but when you do, you have to be sure it's not like your first time. You gotta build up kind of a tolerance to alcohol. I partied with this girl a couple of weeks ago, and it was her first time, but she was drinkin that shit just like everybody else, and now she's in a coma. I also have this other friend, and I was partying with HIM, and he didn't realize he was mixing everything with like, painkillers, and he was in a coma for two weeks and when he woke up he had no memory from the last three months and so he failed all his classes.

Chipper blond girl with stereotypical sunny personality:

The health benefits of dark chocolate: I am doing my report on the health benefits of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has many unknown health benefits. Some of the health benefits of dark chocolate are listed below....

ULTRA skinny girl:

Eating disorders can ruin or even end your life. I read online about a girl who was eating baking soda to help herself vomit, and then she went and had a salad with a vinaigrette dressing on it, and she exploded and died.

Boy with backward baseball cap:

I'm doing my report on crystal meth. I brought some treats I'm going to pass around for everyone. If you do crystal meth, take a dum-dum pop, and if you don't do crystal meth, take a smarties.

And my favorite:

Dumpy, fat girl, in tears:

The thing I'm going to talk about today is very private and personal to me. In the summer of 2007, I was diagnosed with genital herpes. When you first contract genital herpes, you just look down there, and you see all these little red bumps. But after a few weeks, they turn into big, red, painful blisters. And they hurt. A lot. It feels like, if you accidentally zip your vagina in your zipper. Only like a hundred times worse. I was a prime candidate for getting genital herpes, because it's a lot easier for a woman to get it from a man, and also because my boyfriend is black.

Anyway, friends. Apparently, I'm the only one in that class not mature enough to not laugh at this stuff. Oh well. Someday it'll be a scene on some TV show and all of America will be laughing, thinking I made this up. Which I did not.


So, My roommates and I made a movie about two years ago, about LARPing (Live Action Role Playing). It's a real thing, and we decided to make a Christopher Guestian Mockumentary about it. And we've had plenty of calls for more LARP, so for my final project, I decided to write the sequel. I wanted it to be a lot like the Back to the Future sequels, where certain lines and situations are repeated, but with a slight twist. As with before, the theme is about these people losing the distinction between the real world and the fantasy one. I think the final production will end up being a little longer than the twenty pages allotted in class, but it'll do for now. Here, then, are the first two pages of the new script. I have written the whole thing, but I don't want spoilers leaking....

Int. stairs - Day

BENNY ANDERSON is sitting on the stairs, looking at the camera. He’s in his 20s or 30s, and wearing a plaid bathrobe over a T-shirt. On his head he has a mop like a wig, and a beanie over that. He’s holding a lantern and a wooden wand.
During shots where characters speak directly to the camera, we should be zoomed in to different lengths between each sentence, and then strung together during editing.
Okay. So, we set out to make a movie to show people how awesome LARPING is—again, that’s Live Action Role Playing. Trying to make ourselves more relatable. But, unfortunately, our camera man, Robert, did a really piss poor job of editing, and we all ended up looking like morons.

So now we’re making a second film. I think you’ll see by the end of this film that we’re not just nerds running around in the woods. We’re normal people, just like you and me, who love to, well, yes, we love to run around in the woods. But we do it with swords! And spells, and it’s awesome! But not awesome in an unapproachable way. More in a way like, these guys are awesome just like ME, Or how I WANT me to be. Maybe I should join them. So come with me, and behold for yourself—

RUTHERFORD MIGNON calls out from off screen left, and Benny turns at the sound of his voice.
Rutherford (OS)
Benny! Are you busy?
I’m kinda making our movie.
Rutherford (OS)
Oh. Well when you’re done, can you take me to Long’s to buy some diapers? I got blood all over this one in our last battle. Oh, like you’re filming right NOW?

(aware of the camera)
Diapers, yes. For the baby that we’re… babysitting. Yeah, man, I can….
(to Robert)
Ok, just don’t put this part in the movie, please?
Robert (OC)
Okay. So let’s do this again. Go back to where—
Robert (OC)
Go back to where you’re talking about how awesome you are.
Yeah, perfect. Just tell me when to go.
Title: Lords a-Larping II: The Battle of Discord

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Okay, first. Here are my plans for the puppet story: We'll see where it goes after this, but this is a basic outline:

Three Marionettes, named Anette, Will, and a third one who needs a name that has to do with puppets or free will or something. Maybe "Charlie," which will be a reference to Charlie McCarthy (sp?) and also Charlie Kaufman. Hmmm. They are in the middle of enacting a human marionette show when one of them decides he no longer wants to BE a marionette, his strings always pulled by someone else. He goes off stage and comes back with giant scissors, and cuts himself free. At first he dies, but then he is able to will himself to stand up, and is free. He is in the process of convincing the other two to cut their own strings when

Cue houselights. A man in the audience yells an apology, and turns them off again, as though he had accidentally leaned against them and turned them on.

The two boy characters continue as planned, but the Anette is distracted. In the middle of Will's speech:

"Sorry to cut you off--Well, I guess you sorta cut yourself off--but did you see that?"

He didn't. She describes what she saw: a theater and an audience. Did Charlie see it? Charlie is anxious, and we believe he probably did see it, but he refuses to say, and seems very anxious about breaking character.

Anette turns back to Will. She points out that there is one wall that is hard to see. He stares into the audience directly, and soon sees what she's talking about. Maybe "There! I heard a cough!" or laughter, etc. Really responding to the audience. She tries to go back about her business of being a character, but he is obsessed with this new idea. Walks backstage, while Anette and Charlie awkwardly cover for his absence. Some sort of setup in their dialog that will payoff later. Will comes back and asks how long he was gone. He say there is nothing at all when he leaves the stage. He just stopped existing for a while.

Anette is obviously trying to get on with her lines, saying "and then you would probably suggest that I cut myself free as well."

Will is talking to the audience, as the other two freeze in backlit tableau. He is putting things together. He soon realizes he's just a character in a play. He remembers his real name, which will be the actor's real name. And you! You're (Anette's actress' real name) and Charlie's too. And what were you doing just now when I was talking to the audience? They can't remember.

Charlie complains that it's getting too confusing. "So this is what? A play within a play?"
Will: No! It's the exact opposite of that! It's a play... withOUT a play!
C: (terrified) But! A play without a play! That's nothing at all!
W: It's not nothing! It's just not a play!

Anette wants to know what is so wrong with being a character?

We're not free! he responds. Don't you see? Everything you're saying right now was fed to you, by a writer! You're just performing some script. He goes backstage again, and comes back with a script, and reads some of her previous lines.

She takes it, and reads HIS previous lines, including some of this nonsense about being free. He, too, is still just playing a part. [this is to leave the idea of determinism vague by the end]

Charlie freaks out, grabs the script, and destroys it or throws it away. We have to just not think about that! We have to just continue on with our lives!

Will is not hearing it. He is standing very close to the edge of the stage. "I know the only way out of this! I'm going to jump! It doesn't help to go backstage. We have to leave this way." Big dramatic scene there. He finally does jump. Greets a few members of the audience, and runs out into the lobby or what have you. The other two are shocked, and just as they are recovering themselves, there is a yell from the lobby. Will is ecstatic about the whole huge world out there. He comes running halfway up an aisle. You have to come with me guys! This proves it's just a play!

Anette: I believe that it's a play. But look around you! Those people are here to SEE this play. We have a duty to them, to put this play on.

Charlie has withdrawn. Will says, your whole life is being run by someone else! Make your own decision!

Anette: Or let YOU make my decision? This IS my decision. To stay. Just because I'm doing what someone else tells me to do doesn't mean I'm not making my own choice.

Will concedes, and leaves, broken hearted. She turns back to Charlie, and they continue the scene, with some line that pays off now from before. Will's presence is greatly missed, as he turns and walks back out the door.


What it still needs: I need something for the puppet show to be ABOUT. I'm thinking a simple love triangle with terribly corny lines.

I'm thinking that somehow we'll reveal that the actor who plays Charlie is a homosexual in real life, which is his primary motivation for refusing to acknowledge what is happening. he doesn't want to face that reality. When Will reveals this, Anette will be shocked, and talk about how that isn't appropriate subject matter for a conservative Utah audience (maybe?). This will heighten the tragedy of her being left alone with him in the end. There is no real happiness as long as he's pretending and she's alone with him.

It needs to be very ambiguous as to who's right in this situation. Except Charlie is clearly wrong.

I know it's two much. It's meta-theater, if there is such a thing. But that's what I like. I want it to reflect the conflict between free will and obedience. In the end, it needs to be clear that Will forfeited his bow and applause in his search to free himself. Yep. That's all I got. For now. I think I did have one more piece if dialog worked out on the bus the other day. I'll have to look for it. K see you next time.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Looking Down

As much as I joke with my friends about the fact that I am in a “movement class,” comically demonstrating such techniques as “swaying,” “moving about the room with just your legs,” or “sitting UNDER the desk,” I find myself inexplicably taking this class very seriously. In those moments when we are to “open” ourselves up, I really do imagine myself in a place with no borders, my ego being extended along the plane of my arms into the furthest reaches of my imagined limitless space. When it’s time to close down, I am not just imagining myself closing off, but being closed off, surrounded by an imaginary impenetrable shell, which at first is made of smooth white porcelain, but upon closer inspection is constructed wholly of my own doubts and fears, and which is not only encasing me, but protecting me from the harshness of life.

This is the part I do NOT reenact for my friends. I’m totally drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. It would be really embarrassing for me, if not for the fact that I get to class and shed my backpack and shoes and blue jeans and am asked to free myself from all of the embarrassment and pressure from the world. I’m buying it. And I like that I am . But I’m not telling anyone. Yet.

More embarrassing still, I seem to expect others to somehow notice my newfound sense of purpose in movement. “How gracefully you move now!” say my friends in my imagination while I’m on my way to see them. “Have you gotten taller?”

“Why no,” I might reply, while leaning casually against the wall, very conscious of the movement and the part of my body from which it emanates, and the effect I’m having on the wall, and the effect that that effect is having on my friends, whom I have by now come to think of as my “audience.” “I’m just moving from my center now,” I'll tell them. How lucky for them to be my friends through this period of discovery of my own kinesthetic awesomeness. This is how I know I am actually becoming one of those drama kids. You’re no longer people to me. You’re just silhouettes, backlit against the spotlight on me. It’s going to my head and I like having it there.

“Look down,” says the woman cutting my hair at the Five Dollar Cuts Hair Academy, back in real life. Oh, I’ve got this one. We looked down for several minutes in class today. I don’t just allow my head to flop forward. I go vertebra by vertebra, slowly allowing my neck to unstack itself, until my cranium is hanging like a plumb weight. In looking down, I have discovered a new, deeper down than there ever was before. This is a down from which there may never be an up again. “Lacie” doesn’t say anything. She just starts in with the clippers. This is because she cannot say anything. The hang of my head reminds her of times when her own head has hung low. She fights back tears, as the too much eye makeup she is wearing will surely blind her and cause her to mess up the neck line. This is the new effect I have on people.

“Do you want it rounded or square?” she asks unculturedly. She has no appreciation for art.

Looking back on these incidents, I realize it’s crazy. It’s over the top. Nobody cares that I picture my movements extending out into the world before I ever make them, then withdrawing back into my body after me. But it’s the theater! And you have to wave a hand in the air grandiosely when you say “theater!” and imagine your hand is cutting a swatch out of the fabric of life that envelops you, just as we learned in class. That’s why you move at all, to carve out a place in this world, before its pressures lock you down into that tiny immobile shell, and it crushes you.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The assignment for my fundamentals of movement class is to record all impulses I stifle for a period.

My immediate thought was that I don't really stifle my impulses. I generally just tell people what I'm thinking, and do what I want, I was pretty sure.

On my way to choir, which I have right after movement, I was walking with a friend behind polio girl. I don't know whether it's really polio, but she walks the same as a Cambodian girl I know who has confirmed that in her own case it is indeed polio. You've seen these people. One leg flexes laterally, like a slinky. It's obviously not meant to support any weight, and the other leg has to hurry and catch up to lift her torso back to the appropriate height. My instant impulse was to start to walk like her. It was so neat. I studied exactly how her legs moved, her upper body flinging her long hair from side to side. It would be hilarious, I thought, to see TWO such people walking down the hall, seemingly unaware of each other. When I got to class and busted out my binder to write down my experience for the purpose of this journal entry, my buddy confided in me that he'd had the exact same impulse. Maybe it's universal. Maybe we'd all be a little better if everyone just walked like that girl when she was around. I was alone in having the impulse to go up to her and point at her legs and say, snootily, "So what's this all about then? Is it polio or what?"

Within minutes, the fat class clown was saying something about how the choir director was going to be so glad when he was gone. He seemed to think he was the star of the choir. Then he launched into telling us how that wasn't really so; he was the only one who could make our teacher laugh. I held my tongue. What I wanted to say was that a) he wasn't the only one in the class who tried to be funny—it's almost a prerequisite in a choir class to make some smart aleck comment every time anyone says anything at all, and b) that NONE of them, and especially this guy, ever made the teacher laugh at ALL, because they were all trying too hard. But I didn't say that because all of these people would have heard me, and because I'm already not super popular in there because I tend to never speak for fear of becoming one of them. You know, trying to prove my worthiness of their esteem with my wit. I'm above that. So I just let him make his asinine comments, even if it seemed to be offending all the other self-christened class clowns in the choir.

In my third class of the day, the teacher (in this case the flowy English-professor type in a dress and all kinds of beads from some third world country) was talking about the online syllabus, and she said "If you're not able to get it up, come to my office and I'll try to help you out." It took some work, but I successfully stifled a loud sophomoric laugh that wouldn't have been delivered out of actually having found humor in what was said, but rather out of a desire to CREATE humor for the other members of the class, but at the poor woman's expense. Also, I had an add card I still needed her to sign for me right after class.

That's when I realized I do stifle sometimes, but only when there's someone around who would probably be offended by my behavior. I started to congratulate myself on having such an intact superego (I had worked so hard during my teenage years to demolish it).

Until that evening, when we had sneaked into a sold-out movie by buying tickets to "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and then just walking into the one we had wanted to see anyway. There were some open seats, but they were scattered randomly throughout the theater, and it would take some rearranging to be able to get us all situated. One friend suggested that one of us pretend to be handicapped, and before he could even finish the thought, I was hobbling down the aisle with my hip jutting out, upper body swaying left and right, EXACTLY like polio girl. It's as though my body had been waiting all day to mimic that girl, and having been stifled once, was not about to wait for me to think. It just went.

People DID move over for us, but my friends were too embarrassed to sit by me, so we ended up walking (me limping) over to Beverly Hills Chihuahua anyway, which was awful.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Of Puppets and People," or "From the Mouths of Idiots"

The players:

—Stacey. Stacey is a Chicana student in a school for troubled teens. Played with a thick accent and affable curiosity.
—Me. Dorky but outgoing staff member at the school.

In this scene, I have to explain why I have been absent from work for the past month and a half.

Stacey: Why haven't you been at work in so long?

Me: I was in a play!

Stacey: You were playing?

Me: No, I was in a play.

Stacey: [dubiously] Ohhhh.

Me: Do you know what that is? A play?

Stacey: [blank look]

Me: [trying a new approach] Como un drama.

Stacey: [realization dawning] Oh you mean like with puppets! Only with like, people.

I love dumb people. I wish I could just make this stuff up. I'm going to try. Like with puppets, but with like, people. It's hard to figure out exactly what it is about that conversation that resonates with me, that says, "this thing right here, it's very funny."

I want to go up to a grocery store attendant with a bottle of laxatives and say, in my best dumb voice. "Um, excuse me, sir. I have a question about this. It says do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. And I'm wondering, does that mean if you're PRODUCING breastmilk, or if you're the one DRINKING it, 'cause we could have a problem." If you can say that with a world-weary expression of chagrin, I think it could be comedic gold. So this week, for my first entry in my new blog for a couple of theater classes I'm taking this semester, I want to start out with some really dumb lines I'd like to work in. My first example with Stacey was a real conversation, but these ones here are all me:

Angrily: "Okay, there's a word for what you're being! You're being a logical phallus!"


Exasperatedly: "Honestly, it's like people don't even think! I saw a bottle of children's Tylenol the other day with a CHILD PROOF CAP on it! How the hell are the kids supposed to get their medicine out! Am I the last intelligent person on the planet!?"


Southern: "You could buy this one here. This one here's pink because it supports breast cancer. I mean! It supports the fight AGAINST women with breast cancer."

and finally:

A man: "she has a few personality flaws, but as a whole she's very nice."
A woman, angry, stands up and is about to storm out of the room when she turns around and seethes: "Oh, I understand how you are! Is that all a woman is to you, is just a HOLE!?"
[slams door]

So my point here is that I derive pleasure from hearing someone say something when they themselves don't seem to think it's funny or understand why it would be. I like comedy that almost goes over your head. And does go over someone else's head.

What I like best about dumb people is that they often unwittingly cut to some greater truth. When Stacey says that a play is like with puppets, but like with people, I take pause. Because it's so true. As the writer of the play, the people are MY puppets. I can make them as dumb or foolish as I want. I can make them brilliant, but everyone knows they're just puppets, and I'm the one pulling the strings, telling them what to say and do.

Maybe this semester I will write a play about puppets, during which the puppets begin to experience a certain ennui, and decide to cut the strings. And as the puppets are going through this awakening, the actors themselves start to stray from the script, finding their own voices, until everything has devolved into a postmodernist chaotic ball of energy, with the actors gathered around a campfire of their burning wooden costumes, singing Kumbaya, or not, if they don't want to.