Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

I saw a play the other night for the first time in a while, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," by August Wilson.

I'd never seen anything written by the man, but his reputation for demanding excellence preceded the viewing of this work. However...

It wasn't quite what I'd hoped. True, there were some strong individual performances - notably by James T. Alfred and Lerea Carter, who played an emotionally volatile Levee and languidly sensous Dussie Mae, respectively - and there were shining moments by others as well, but over all, the continuity was somewhat threadbare.

Cue pickup and tempo were sluggish, gestures and movement were, at times, disconnected* and the limited stage combat was a tad bit amateurish. But really, these are all just technical points, ways of explaining why I wasn't transported.

It occurs to me the Cast, all of color save one unconvincing irish cop**, may have been less than inspired by a blue hair crowd of somber sixty-somethings, but regardless of why, I never left the building, wasn't taken on a journey.

I remember seeing Hamlet once at the Jeun Lune in Minneapolis. The titular character was played by a man I thought too old for the role*** but 5 minutes in, I forgot all that and in fact, forgot I was a mere audience member.

For the first time ever in my viewing of Hamlet, I became personally involved and experienced each moment emotionally and as if for the first time:

When a wildly bereaved Hamlet stumbled upon a discarded dagger, peered into the glint of it's blade and contemplated his own life's worth - a feeling of impending, gut churning violence hung in the air - and I remember actually thinking, "what's he going to do next?!"

It was frightening and riveting and... delicious.

Ma Rainey? Not so much.

At least not this time.****

*I get that a director may dole out seemingly meaningless blocking, but it's up to the actor to anchor these in character driven action.

**While a subtle dialect is appreciated, one that fades in and out of existence is somewhat less believable

***He was in his forties, and while I still consider this a tad bit old for Hamlet, now that I've reached that same threshold, I find my judgement of his age a little ironic. Young or old, those same powerful emotions, like blood, flow through our veins.

****Not unlike a weekend warrior, I should mention my own failed attempts at professional acting career may've skewed my views unfairly. In the word of the immortal Al Bundy, "I scored 4 touchdowns in one game for Polk High!" Yeah. Maybe I just need to get a life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Lately, I've been hearing a resurgence of the word "douche-bag" thrown around in more casual conversation.

I'm not sure exactly when d-bag made it's debut, but I'm guessing somewhere in the late 90's. At the time it seemed to have a little more teeth to it, and was fairly specific:

Douche-bag - A young man who mis-represents himself in order to solicit the sexual favors of a young lady, most often in conjunction with the bar scene*. A local example would be the "scottsdale millionaire" - or someone who makes $30K a year, but implies a much grander scale of living to bedazzle his intended victim.
I should mention both deception and malice were key ingredients. It wasn't enough to get laid - one had to count coup over, or demean one of the fairer sex. I should also mention this wasn't my personal m.o.,** but it's not as if I weren't - as my father puts it - out "tap dancing for the young ladies" myself.

Later, it seems the word was expanded to include more general forms of deceptive practise; it was still primarily masculine, but could be expanded to include the feminine, so long as malice and deception were used for the purposes of self gain - a sort of low level grifting. Maybe a lie was told to a friend or acquaintance in order to extract money? Something like that.

Today, however, the word seems to have gained a much wider, nearly universal useage, not unlike the f-bomb.

True, you can't "go douche yourself, you mother douchin' douche-bag, cause I don't douchin' care!" -but- when your very own sister says you look like a douche-bag for wearing your Blackberry on your hip... ***

"Dork," I think, would've been more appropriate.
Adam, you look like a dork.

Now there's a word I can identify with.

Just not douche-bag.

*Okay, s0 maybe,maybe I need to chill on the Tom Wolfe for a bit.
**Modus Operandi or Mode of Operation. My own tactic was the undersell - infinitely more honest, but a tactic none-the-less.

***For the record - I wear my phone in a belt-holster, not because it looks cool - quite the opposite - but because the phone seems to get beat up (and lost) far less often!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Change in Seasons

It's that time of the year when the days grow short and the light fades:
Darkness seeps
from each crevice,
oozing and pooling
in the
of smooth surfaces
(stainless steel, formica, polished
coagulates and coats
in sticky soft secretion.

With the darkness comes anxiety.
Another year passed and what have I done with my life?

Thanksgiving used to be a neutral sum game - positive, even. My annual hike with mom before the big meal - a calming, subtly reassuring ritual.

And that's still fine and good, but this year, this Thanksgiving, things have shifted.

M and I met 5 years ago, October.

We spent our first Thanksgiving together at mom's soon after, no expectations, no worries, just letting that day, like any other, unfold.

Relationship-wise, I didn't see it, long term. Just thought we'd have some interesting conversations for a while.


I guess we did, didn't we?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One of the great things about waking up at 4 a.m. - every day without fail - you've got a little time on your hands.

Know that stuff you always want to do but never have enough time?

Now you do.

Recently, on my morning commute, I kept noticing the early morning light reflected off this particular canal and thinking to myself, I should take a photo.

However, I'm typically within a hair's breadth of being late and surrounded by a swarm of angrily buzzing commuters going 70, so this doesn't happen.

Today, having arisen with the dead in the pre-dawn of night, I caffeinated up and headed out. It was still a tad bit tricky, but with the lighter Sunday traffic, not quite as death defying.

And it's not my favorite pic but I done did it.*

Next, a giant chicken wire Buddha.
Or something.

*Makes me wonder if I've really something better at other times (weather, light and maybe smog, depending) -or- if it's like that zen parable, where the guy clings to a vine on the side of cliff, with a tiger above. Sensing his imminent demise, he sees a wild strawberry growing there and pops into his mouth, savoring the sweetness.