Monday, January 30, 2006

Hey! Pajama Men: Stop Not Going & Get OUTTA Here! And make us proud...

Mikaela says:
So m-pyre heard the news late Saturday night during the hilarious Reptilian Lounge:

ABQ Native Sons Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen are moving away yet again.

Via the Fix, they're stopping to tour their Pajama Men show, Stop Not Going, in Toronto for a month, then taking up residence in the real Second City, Chicago.

Sniff, sniff.

And just when we almost got used to seeing SO MUCH of Shenoah! No one does I-cock theatre like Shenoah does I-cock theatre, and no one appreciates that more than me!

(Yes, Shenoah got naked Saturday, prompting Mark to do an imitation of his little, shy, non-performing member. Ah...comedy!)

Read 'Prep,' meet the author!

Maggie says:
One of the books I most enjoyed reading over the holidays was Prep, the story of a middle-class, Midwestern girl catapulted into East Coast high society at boarding school.

I felt so close to the protagonist, a girl handicapped by her own insecurities in a world where you don't talk about money, you just have it. Back in December, I saw Prep on the NY Times Best Books of 2005 list, and wrote this:
Is it lame or downright brilliant that a single sentence in an excerpt makes me want to buy this one for myself? In a classic, "outsider goes east/prep to make her way in a supposedly smarter world" story, how's this: "I'd pretended it was about academics, but it never had been. . . . I imagined that if I left South Bend, I would meet a melancholy, athletic boy who liked to read as much as I did and on overcast Sundays we would take walks together wearing wool sweaters.'' Isn't it funny, our perceptions of how things will be (like, you know, going to college in Boston instead of your home state of North Carolina...) versus how they actually are?
My instincts were right-on, because the whole time I was reading this, I kept seeing myself in Lee. Or maybe, what I saw most was who I might have become had my parents not moved us out of a culture that made me so nervous and unsure of myself I undoubtedly would have turned out differently.

Lee was a scholarship kid at "the Ault School," an ultra-rich boarding school in New England. I wasn't a scholarship kid at St. Andrews, a fairly expensive private school in Newport News, Va, but I was only there because my parents were spending every dime they made to pay the tuition instead of sending my siblings and I to the notoriously bad public schools in town. By the time I "graduated" from fifth grade, the next step was Hampton Roads Academy, where the privileged went without thinking twice. The tuition for one year of sixth grade at HRA was more than the tuition of my brother, sister, and I at St. Andrews combined. It wasn't going to happen. So we moved back to NC, where my parents are from, and started again in an area with great public schools and lots to offer. That move changed my life.

It's a peculiar situation to be surrounded by money but not have it yourself, and if you haven't been in it you'll never really know what I mean. Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't have changed my family or our lifestyle for anything - but living in Virginia, I was always keenly aware of how different my friends' homes and lives were than mine. Their homes were large, their vacations took them across the country instead of the state, and they did foreign things like skiing that seemed absolutely terrifying to me. A close friend actually got mad at me when I suggested that she was "rich." "We're not rich," she said. "We're just well-off." This friend had grapefruit spoons in her kitchen, which I was convinced were the epitomy of class and elegance. One day, I told myself, I'd have grapefruit spoons in my house. The thing is, I still can't bring myself to buy them, although they're not expensive and are readily available. To me, grapefruit spoons will always represent privilege. And so I don't think I'll ever own them; the symbolism would be too much to bear.

Lee knows this, too. She tells us that in college she was standing in a drugstore aisle smelling the shampoo that all the rich Ault girls would use. "This is the best shampoo in the world," she tells her friend. "So buy it," her friend answers back. But she can't. I know why.

Also funny are the differences between homes and houses. My family, in my small little house not overlooking the James River, was the one everyone loved. Sleepovers were at my house; class trips went to my grandparents' farm to pick pumpkins for Halloween instead of other classmates' family estates in Charleston or Richmond. My house equaled warmth, the only thing missing in some other girls' families.

After we moved and I had the luxury of blending into public school life (which is every adolescent girl's desire... "just don't let me be different..."), I felt strange visiting my old friends at Hampton Roads Academy and their country club. They were steadily growing into lifestyles that I was beginning to consciously dislike. My friends were my friends, as wonderful as always, but it was their new friends who I hated, their country club that set my nerves to a frazzle... Only visiting them did I feel less than I did in NC, and over time I realized how lucky I'd been, how when my parents had broken my heart by announcing that we were moving, they were truly allowing me to be me in a way I never could have been in Virginia. Had I been forced to grow up in that culture, with that difference (all the girls were 5'2 and blond, and everyone had an eating disorder), I would have never found my voice. I would have worried endlessly about what clothes I had (at least at St. Andrews we wore uniforms); what car I drove; that my parents weren't members of the country club, much less have an account where I could charge overpriced lunches after lounging by the pool all day; what countries I'd been to (none); and how I would never under any circumstances be 5'2 and 110 pounds.

Prep gets this. The book nails what it is to be different and to be mortified by the differences in a time when you just want to blend in. It shows a girl crushed by her insecurities to the point where she's only barely functioning. (I can remember sitting at the pool with my friends and overhearing a guy friend of theirs snidely say, "Your friend is fat." And folks, I wasn't fat at all, I just wasn't anorexic!) It shows a girl believing she's a vibrant, smart girl in her head but acting like anything but whenever anyone else is around.

It might sound crazy (and Marjorie has told me she doesn't believe this), but I could have been Lee. I could have been her. I could have been too shy to talk all through high school instead of doing some of the pretty amazing things I ended up doing at my great public school in NC. High school in NC became all about finding my voice, realizing what made me different, and really treasuring that early on. I got through the annoying "trying to fit in" phase really early in middle school, because I was able to see relatively quickly that none of that mattered. But had I been a scholarship kid at HRA, I would have been crushed under the weight of trying to fit in, even though I never, ever would have been able to.

So for being me, I thank my parents and their decision to get me out of a money-soaked world that would never be mine. I'm not a private-school girl at heart. I never was. It just took me getting out of there to realize that.

Meet Prep author Curtis Sittenfeld (she's only 29!)
Sunday, February 5
3:00 p.m.
More info here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Movie madness

Maggie says:
Life events have given me a bounty of free time the past few weeks. And you know the saying: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." So what has my lemonade been? One word: movies! Here's what I've seen so far this month:
  • Brokeback Mountain (heartbreakingly beautiful)
  • Walk the Line (solid music and acting, much respect to Joaquin)
  • Broken Flowers (love Bill Murray, adore Jeffrey Wright)
  • The Girl in the Cafe (three movies in one, weirdly)
  • The World (themes resonate stronger over time, so glad I saw this)
  • Match Point (Scarlett is sexy, high society is not)*
  • The Constant Gardener (riveting, colorful, poignant, right-on)
  • Hustle and Flow (mesmerizing, drenched in Memphis, but never using easy stereotypes)
  • Junebug (absolutely charming, the first time I've heard a real Eastern NC accent on film)
  • Tarnation (takes you to the breaking point, but so worth it)
  • UPDATE: January isn't over yet! Transamerica (Road trip with a twist, major props to Felicity, a really brave film, even though it's suprisingly lighthearted)
Don't even get me started on my nerdy PBS diet. Let's just say, if anyone needs a refresher course on the French and Indian War, shoot me an e-mail... :-)

What have you all seen?

*More to say on Match Point later. A friend called it "the triumphant return of Woody Allen." I enjoyed it, but think Woody narrowly avoided some really ugly gender politics.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Last Weekend of Revolutions!

Mikaela says:
If you haven't gotten Revolutionary yet, you still have two days to redeem yourself.

No idea what I'm talking about? Shame on you.

Your own Tricklock Theatre Company spends a year gathering the best of the best theatre from all over the world and tricking them into coming here to perform for you during a three-week festival. And you've almost missed the whole thing! Again!

This is the Revolutions Festival's 6th (?) year, and so far, it's been FANTASTIC. The Marvellous and Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid was my personal favorite (it's vaudeville, no, it's satire, no it's pathos, no it's Brechtian, no ... it's fucking BRILLIANT is what it is -- totally Tricklock!). A hip-hop poet from NY, Idris Goodwin, was also fantastic at the Vortex Wednesday night (Stay tuned for more from him. He's sticking around to direct Tricklock in one of his own plays in February!).

This weekend, I will be sure not to miss the always-hilarious Reptilian Lounge at Tricklock's own performance space. 10:30 pm Saturday night. $7. Bring a bag of change (trust me, you'll need it!). Come on! Get sociable!

If you're up for something a little more intense and more challenging, meet me earlier that night at 7 pm, Kimo Theatre for:

In a hall in the palace of Pyrrhus, a non-stop tear-through of Racine’s Andromaque through the lens of contemporary International politics and culture. In the aftermath of the Trojan War, Orestes is in love with his ex-girlfriend Hermione who is in love with and engaged to be married to Pyrrhus who is in love with his captive Andromache who is still in love with her husband Hector who died when his head got smashed in and his body was dragged around a burning city last year. With fake blood and some oblique references to Montgomery Clift.

For more information and the full schedule, see the Tricklock webpage.

See you there!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Chief Clouds 2

At the Albuquerque Museum
Albuquerque, New Mexico 2003

Bill Hocker

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Horotime -- January

Mikaela says:
Halfway through the month already! How did we make it through our days without deep, intuitive horoscope knowledge from Brian Francis?

Professional ambitions need to play second fiddle to community concerns, but the two don't contradict one another. You need to be thinking about the specific role you need to play, rather than all that is possible. The idea of need is based, in part, on what your environment is calling for, but to a greater extent, on what you're specifically prepared for and ready to offer. This is likely to be something that you have thought of many times but perhaps deemed yourself unworthy of or unqualified for. You still may not feel ready for what you know you really must do, but this is not the time to hedge or hesitate. In truth, few people are ready for their greatest achievements when the time comes. But I can assure you that you are in fact ready, if you will do the other part, which is make sure you are truly willing.

Climate change is now a high priority on the global agenda. As one born under the sign of the Crab, you are among the most sensitive people to your environment, including the psychic environment. Is that inner, or outer? Well, it is really both. But please keep your focus on what is really inside you. Maintain the awareness that serves you so well, particularly with the increasing intensity of your relationships and commitments, both personal and professional. In every area of your life, the pace is quickening. This is less a time to be a hero and more a time to be the calm, steady captain of your ship. As such, you need to make conscious, basic decisions as regards your happiness and wellbeing. Particularly where a health concern is involved, the more gentle, less invasive and energy-oriented approaches will get the results you want.

You have just as many reasons to feel good about yourself as not. You have just as many reasons to trust life as you have to be scared. What will make the difference for you? There are a number of factors, the first being where you choose to find your pleasure. Humans are strange critters. We need pleasure so desperately that we will even begin to discover it in aspects of life that don't feel good, or in withholding pleasure and comfort from ourselves. I suggest you continue your long migration away from this quality of human nature, and cultivate something new. I suggest you move away from seeking gratification from any extreme, and rather find comfort in what is earthy, sensory, nourishing, natural and understandable to you. In doing so, you will cultivate these same qualities in yourself.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Movie endings

Maggie says:
Last night I watched Before Sunset. Now, I used to be obsessed with Before Sunrise. For me, it was the quintessential high school romantic moment on film. Obsessed. And when Before Sunset was released, I was too scared to see it. I felt like the magic of the first might be ruined with knowing how Jesse and Celine end up, seeing them get that second chance, putting edges to what was previously their boundless future. But I sucked it up, finally saw it last night. And I loved it.

This brings me to the topic at hand: great lines that end a film. Before Sunset is one of them.

Celine: You're going to miss your flight.
Jesse: I know.

He says it smiling; it's a moment. He's been denying he'll miss this flight the whole movie, but suddenly it's all too much to walk away from, and leaving her is a bigger risk than not going back to New York. "I know." It's perfect.

Brokeback Mountain is another one that got me. One line that ends a film in the best way possible. Ennis is looking at Jack's shirt hanging on his closet door with a postcard of Brokeback beside it. You know that shirt and postcard will be hanging there until he's 80, just like we see it that day. He's so broken. And his line sums it all up, without saying anything, really.

"Jack, I swear..."

He doesn't need to say more. And to those of us who know the understated ways of cowboys or farmers or similar types, it's clear he never really will say more. That line is all he needs, and all we need.

Picking the Globes

Maggie says:
It's a happy day in movie nerd land: Golden Globe Day. Let the countdown to the Oscars begin!

There's still a bunch of movies I haven't seen that I need to see, but here's how I'm feeling about tonight's awards (and I'm only picking for the picture and acting awards; I'll do the rest come Oscar time):


Best Actress:
- Maria Bello, A History of Violence
- Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
- Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
- Charlize Theron, North Country
- Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha
* Okay, this is what I'm talking about: I haven't seen any of these movies. But I'm feeling Bello or Huffman from what I've heard. I like Maria Bello a lot and this movie is supposed to be incredible, and Felicity Huffman has lots of buzz, too (and let's face it, awards shows love it when actresses don't look their best in a role).

Best Actor:
- Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
- Terrence Howard, Hustle and Flow
- Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
- David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
* This is clearly a Hoffman-Ledger battle, and I have friends on either side of it. For me, it's Hoffman's, but I can completely see why Ledger could get it. Either one obviously deserves the award, but I think this race is most interesting as a preview to the Oscars, when they're going to have Joaquin Phoenix thrown into the mix, too, and votes always tend to be more political. For example: I can see Ledger getting this one (and again, deservedly so), but the Oscar going to Hoffman more for his body of work, which is beyond fault.

Best Picture:
- A History of Violence
- Brokeback Mountain
- The Constant Gardener
- Good Night, and Good Luck
- Match Point
* Brokeback all the way. No question. I mean, have you seen this movie?


Best Actress
- Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
- Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice
- Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale
- Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone
- Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
* Tough, tough, tough! I adore Laura Linney and adore The Squid and the Whale, but I was so impressed with Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line. It's literally a career-changing performance for her. I just don't know. I'd be happy with either of these two. I think the question will come down to again, awarding Laura Linney for constant excellence or rewarding Reese Witherspoon for an outstanding performance in this role (which is technically what awards are supposed to be about...).

Best Actor
- Pierce Brosnan, The Matador
- Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale
- Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Nathan Lane, The Producers
- Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto
- Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
* Again, Squid v. Line. Jeff Daniels nailed his role in Squid (he was just brilliant, there's no other way to put it), but there's also no way that anyone who saw Walk the Line can deny Joaquin this award. He was just amazing, so I'm pulling for him.

Best Picture
- Mrs. Henderson Presents
- Pride and Prejudice
- The Producers
- The Squid and the Whale
- Walk the Line
* If Walk the Line wasn't in this category, The Squid and the Whale would walk away with this one. The movie is perfect. But Walk the Line is an entirely different kind of movie, one that tends to win more awards than a little "divorce genre" (I just found out that that's a real term!) flick like Squid. It's a tough call, but I'd bet Walk the Line will get it.


Best Supporting Actress
- Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
- Shirley MacLaine, In Her Shoes
- Frances McDormand, North Country
- Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
- Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
* Michelle Williams so embodied this character and her pain. It's gotta be her. She was devastating to watch. And how outrageous is it that Catherine Keener was not nominated? Criminal!

Best Supporting Actor
- George Clooney, Syriana
- Matt Dillon, Crash
- Will Ferrell, The Producers
- Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
- Bob Hoskins, Mrs. Henderson Presents
* I cannot believe that Jake Gyllenhall was not nominated here. To me, his eyes alone could have gotten a Golden Globe. But anyway... I'm not sure on this one because I've only seen Crash, and I wasn't overly impressed with Matt Dillon. I'll say Giamatti, if only 'cause everyone loves him and he's perpetually under-recognized.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Walk the Line II

Maggie says:
Always emotional: Listening to Johnny Cash's song "Hurt," recorded after his wife June Carter Cash's death, from the last album he made before he died.

Over-the-top emotional: Listening to "Hurt" a day after seeing "Walk the Line."

Man, did it get me. I'm not a big movie-cryer (depends more on my mood than the film), but the song just hit me. Give it a listen. If you can take it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Pitt's in the Pendulum

Mikaela crows:
And he comes out swingin'!

Looks like Brad and Angelina have joined DNA. Blockbuster coming this summer to one theatre only.

That's right, folks! Brangelina's preggers.

Una Novena pa la Tierra -- Damien Flores

There was dirt in their blood at birth.
They slid from their mothers’ womb
across the face of the Rio Grande
where there is no deep kiss
of minnows and mud
in a river that once
pulsed the bosque
and held cities
captive like stained water
in her hands.


The Rio Grande
flooded every year,
drowning up to downtown
just high enough to ruin
the politicos’ suits.

They didn’t notice the dirt
was coming back to them.
That the river was a messenger.
A novena of mud.

The land reclaiming its men.

A mother returned for her sons
after years dead.

And they dammed off the river,
blocked and diverted her fury
for its supplication of this holy dirt.

La tierra santisima.

Blocked her like a menstrual flow.

Men need to control their women
how they can,
so they were taught.


They ripped the moon from
her waters,
shattered it with fallen limbs
when night was not watching
and buried its pieces
within the bosque.

Forced among the roots
of Salt Cedars and Chinese Elms
gorging on the soil
while the cottonwoods
swallowed moonlight
and shined it back from
gnarled branches,
shaky as the grip of a viejita.
Gave the light back to
the Rio Grande and to the dirt.


They could not ignore their blood clotting,
crackling with pebbles

culled from the mountains
that were once their ancestors,

who were once the lands
they now owned,
and governed,

who were the names
they’d grown ashamed of.

That dirt which became
their district lines,
their voter precincts.

Mud twisted into
that bastard tongue
with which they speak to money.
That bastard tongue
with which they whisper prayers
to their god
who was never theirs in the first place.


And they burned the bosque,
cast lightning
from city hall
into the river.

They had never seen
the face of the water burn
so miraculously.

August 2004

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

MJae Going At It

marjorie says...

Just in case any of you were wondering, here is what the life of Mikaela is like these a great degree.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

I may actually watch the Oscars...

Mikaela announces:
2006: Jon Stewart hosts the Academy Awards!

Anybody else really excited by this?

In his press release, Jon says:

"As an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can't help but be a little disappointed with the choice."

Word Play -- New Shit!

Mikaela glows:
Last night was a GREAT night for poetry in Albuquerque. Sorry I didn't post a warning to get your ass up and trek downtown for the best slam I've seen in a long time! (And I just got back from New York, where I even peeked in on the scene at the Nuyorican, which I found sorely disappointing, by the way.)

Albuquerque, I remembered how good you were, but the last few slams I've been to here have seemed, well, perfunctory. Maybe it was the let-down after the high of Nationals, or maybe I had just had my fill. Or maybe you got too sucked in to what everyone else in the country was doing, and felt you had to either be like them or perform shit you knew would score well.

Last night, all that changed, thanks to the New Shit Slam, hosted by Don McIver and Eric B. That's right, new shit! Let me just say, I never saw such nervous, gun-shy slammers. Don had to sign some people up without their consent, so high was their fear of performing non-tried-and-true pieces. But let me say this: the poetry was BETTER!

There's a certain screening of work that happens when performance poets choose the pieces to slam with. Usually they go with the hardest-hitting subjects. Race and rape score high with the judges. Last night, these guys had to read the shit that poets just write as a result of their days, their cultures, their lives. And surprise surprise -- they're poets! With crystalline perception and keen insight! Go fucking figure. I was so proud to see it. Proud of my community. Proud of them.

And it was a damn fine show! Don and Eric chose "Boston-style" slam, which means performers go head to head each round, with only 8 poets. So every two performances, someone gets eliminated. Such drama! And poets get all caught up in the pairing. Oh please, oh please, don't let me have to face Tony Santiago! Let me just get through the first round!

I was especially impressed with Damien Flores, who wrote a gorgeous piece featuring the Rio Grande. Hakim's first piece had the audience spell-bound, although his second piece, running to over 5 minutes (slam poems are limited to 3 minutes 10 seconds before penalty points are subtracted from your score!) lost the crowd's focus. Lee had some of the best stuff I've heard from him. Tony was fabulously funny, as always, with an especially crowd-pleasing poem slamming Bill O'Reilly (highlight: "You're a dick, Bill. That's right, capital D-U-M-B-A-S-S: dick."

The open mic was just as good, with an incredible poem by Angela Williams on the miners that were just killed. She linked her own family's history of coal-mining in New Mexico and the struggle against labor organizing, which could have saved lives of countless miners over the years, because America doesn't need unions, right? "Tell me this is not 2006," she writes. Jazz performed a killing piece on listening to a neighbor playing piano through the wall. Adam read a sensuous poem from his soon-to-be-for-sale book of one-a-day poems. Don read a moving piece that, unless I'm mistaken, was actually illuminating of his life!

The features were a touring team of Paulie and Alexander, who took turns at the mic wowing the crowd.

I could go on and on. The point being this: I had a great night of POETRY AT A SLAM! So many poems that I want to get my hands on because they were that good. It almost made me want to do it myself! And that's saying a LOT.

The next don't miss event is the slam hosted by Tony and Lee, the last Friday of the month at the Blue Dragon coffee house. They're shaking up the slam format with actual entertainment. Come see for yourself what that means.