October 31, 2004

an experiment for an ordinary Sunday night

(FYI: This is an entry that's going to get posted much later than I'm writing it, so for the record, it's was started at around 7:45PM. This is also going to be a very random entry, so I apoligize in advance. I'm experimenting with the writing of this entry: beginning early, drinking throughout, and ending whenever I damn well please...)


I'm sitting here trying to write this before too long tonight. I'm sipping on a vodka tonic (my second) and am waiting to see if any more kids come to the door. Additionally, I may or may not be trying to get some work done for Script Analysis for Tuesday (depending on how the vodka tonic and my game of solitare wanes...)

(edit: I got the image around 11:00PM. I'm on drink 4 or 5. The tonic water has run out and I've tried vodka and coke, which is surprisingly tasty.)
This weekend was entirely unremarkable, minus Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Friday night, I went incognito to La Salle:

picture by jess...yes i'm matthem ofmuto for the evening.

Yeah, La Salle's much touted guest system at work. To be fair, the SDR asked if it was okay that he screwed up my name. I didn't know it was that bad, so I said okay. I need to use that name as an alias or something somewhere along the line.

Saturday was spent with Brian Veitz. Veitz, who I haven't seen in over a month. Every period of extended time that I spend with him tends to feel surreal for some reason, like a chapter from a book, or an episode from a quirky television show. I'm not complaining - far from it; I look forward to the next chapter every time we make plans. This week brought us delivering balloons to a baby shower, a really cool little used CD store called Positively Records, and a trip up to Bristol and Croydon.

They're both just small towns (townships? counties? boroughs?) just outside of Northeast Philadelphia. Ever since meeting Veitz, he's always made sarcastic comments about them, going so far as to film bits for an episode of "Studio 56" there at one time. (Studio 56, let me digress, was Veitz's pet project on La Salle 56 back 2 or 3 years ago. "Studio 56" begat "The Show" begat "This is It.")

It was an experience that I won't soon forget. Both are small towns of a real plain variety, mundane to the tee. There is one street that closely resembles what one remembers as "the Wild West" because it runs alongside railroad tracks and the buildings are pretty beat up.

The CD store was a amazing..thousands of CD's in the most random filing systems imaginable. I just wish I had gone in wanting to pick up something(s) specific. Instead, like I tend to do in music/book stores, my eyes glaze over (ooh! thousands of Shiny objects!) and I wander aimlessly attempting to regain my focus. I wound up picking up a promo copy of Brian Wilson's "Smile" for $10, which isn't a bad deal at all.

(Edit: this paragraph written at 11:55, with a vodka and orange juice, as the tonic and coke have both run out.)

I got lost in the CD store looking at the boxes upon boxes of singles that they're not selling of bands that had their five minutes milked and milked and milked. It's strange - these bands still immortalized in plastic metal and magnetic images readable by today's technology. Hundreds of bands, really, some of which I've heard of or seen on MTV or the radio, but the bulk of which vanished into oblivion without anyone noticing. Sad, really.

Sunday morning was spent enjoying "A Moon For the Misbegotten" by Eugene O'Neill. Then the Eagles played, and it was good. Then a quick trip to Acme to stock up on groceries (read: we forgot to buy Halloween candy, and there isn't anything more pathetic than being the one house on the block not giving away candy...or worse, giving away fruit or pennies...) Made dinner then.

And here we are. Vodka tonic to my right, textbook on my left.

(edit - 9:18PM: The textbook has gone unopened. I'm on my 3rd drink. I think)

Sunday opened with such promise too...the whole Daylight Savings Time always imparts in me an energy that is lost on other days. Unfortunately, any head starts to the day were interrupted when my roommates came in last night while I was trying to sleep. I heard, for the course of an hour or so, different pieces of furniture on the first floor being banged into. I just lay in bed, staring at the season, thankful that I wouldn't have to file an IR while trying to drift into some sort of sleep.

I found out in the morning that my roommate Jenny and her friend were wrestling. See? there was a perfectly logical explanation. In retrospect,

I wanted so badly to be as far ahead as I was last week, but it hasn't happened. Of course, I'm not terribly far behind, but I'll need to do work during tomorrow and Tuesday morning to be ready for class...something I didn't need to do last week

So to sum everything up, this Halloween can be summed up with wrestling, O'Neill, candy, and vodka.

The quote for this entry comes from O'Neill, who I've now had to read back to back for class. Though it says nothing, I'm incredibly impressed. I've become enamored with his writings. I see thematic threads in his writing that I attempt to touch in mine. His prose is like poetry; his drama incredibly beautiful despite the lack of a happy ending.

Edmund: Sardonically. The makings of a poet. No, I'm afraid I'm like the guy who is always panhandling for a smoke. He hasn't even got the makings. He's got only the habit. I couldn't touch what I tried to tell you just now. I just stammered. That's the best I'll ever do, I mean, if I live. Well, it will be faithful realism, at least. Stammering is the native eloquence of us fog people.
--Eugene O'Neill, "Long Day's Journey Into Night"
[Listening to: "Heroes And Villains", by Brian Wilson from the album "Smile"]
(END: around 12:00 midnight AM on monday morning... the experiment was interesting. lots of random im conversations alongside this entry. followup to be posted eventually.)
Posted by Matthew at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

Fantastic Weekend

Last week was probably the worst week I'd had being in grad school.

It started innocently enough. Strike went smoothly on Sunday, and it was even fun (try and get someone involved with theatre to say that.) The cast and crew had one last real dinner together, which was fun. Monday went really well - the read thru for class on Monday went well. The project for Thursday was winding up incredibly well - it was one of the first projects that I've felt completely prepared and ready to give before the due date.

Tuesday rolled around. I was dreading Tuesday from the start, knowing we would probably get our papers back. This was a paper on Albee's "Zoo Story," an incredibly strange play. It was a 7 page paper; I wound up writing 9 1/2 pages. We did get it back, and it turns out that I completely lost sense of the play around my page 8. I wound up getting a pretty low grade (for me) on the paper, and it really set me into a tailspin.

It was the first major paper we'd had to write for class; for me, it was the first major grad school paper.

Thursday added to the tailspin. We had a major presentation due for Dramaturgy, in which we had to present to the class (and professor) a cohesive idea to unite Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" around. My group, well, just John and myself, chose to put it in brother/sister colleges during 1968. The idea was sound, and we had it all worked out.

Thursday rolls around, and the computer crashes loading my presentation. I start sweating bullets because the presentation is how I had really planned to deliver this presentation. I filled the presentation with every cheesy PowerPoint trick I knew. But the damn computer crashes. The professor lets me work on it while another group goes.

Fifteen minutes later, after the group finished, I get the presentation up and running. We deliver a pretty decent spiel for the concept. The professor, however, as he has done to the groups before us (and after us, it would turn out) asks us the one question about which we can't answer. We stammer on for a few minutes, myself feeling like a blathering idiot, while the professor stares at us and nods in a way that was completely devoid of any knowledge of whether or not we were getting through to him to shore up our idea.

So by Thursday night, I was feeling pretty dumb. I'd been stewing with the grade since Tuesday, and it just made me feel dumber. I'm not used to feeling dumb. It's the one state at which I don't feel like I've ever been in for any length of time. I mean, I don't mean to toot my horn, or inflate my ego, but if there's one thing that I'm not used to feeling, it's dumb.

(relevant sidenote: In 8th grade, I moved to Maryland two months into the school year. Despite this hinderance, I still managed to get a "superlative" in the eighth grade yearbook, in the "That'll be the day" section. My honor? "That'll be the day when Matt DeMizio isn't smart.")

So yeah, dumb. I needed to get the hell out of the city and get home. I had been planning to for a couple of weeks.

I came home Friday afternoon, and worked through the weekend for the upcoming week. I feel so incredibly refreshed and ready to go. I'm ahead on almost everything that I can be ahead on. I feel like I have new insight. I'm rested, and pretty well read for the coming week.

If I have any one fault, it's that I tend to get bogged down with the stupid stuff that piles up in my life. When that happens, I tend to spiral deeper into it, without being able to get out easily. It usually takes something dramatic to pull me out of that state. This weekend wound up doing it for me, thank goodness.

I'm driving back tomorrow, and feel prepared for a brand new, incredible week.

And to shore up my usual tradition of ending with a quote (that, this week has little relevance, and probably defeats my entire purpose entirely...) This one's from Charles-Pierre Baudelaire, and is relevant to my weekend just because it was quoted in O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" which is for class on Tuesday...

"Get Drunk!"

One should always be drunk. That's all that matters;
that's our one imperative need. So as not to feel Time's
horrible burden one which breaks your shoulders and bows

you down, you must get drunk without cease.

But with what?
With wine, poetry, or virtue
as you choose.
But get drunk.

And if, at some time, on steps of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the bleak solitude of your room,
you are waking and the drunkenness has already abated,
ask the wind, the wave, the stars, the clock,
all that which flees,
all that which groans,
all that which rolls,
all that which sings,
all that which speaks,
ask them, what time it is;
and the wind, the wave, the stars, the birds, and the clock,
they will all reply:

"It is time to get drunk!

So that you may not be the martyred slaves of Time,
get drunk, get drunk,
and never pause for rest!
With wine, poetry, or virtue,
as you choose!"

(needless to say, I probably wouldn't choose the wine of which he speaks...

Posted by Matthew at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2004

On the closing of another show and a new week beginning

Another show down. Two practicums left to do (or one, theoretically, if I can stage manage something either this or next year.)

It was a fantastic closing week, full of good times with cast and crew. Our audiences were for the most part great - spanning the spectrum from cell phones ringing at all points, to the one guy who, during the final light cues, said quite loudly to himself but loudly enough that the actors could hear, "Nice. NICE. NICE!"

The set was struck in record time, it seemed. 2 hours after it began, the apartment was gone, reduced to a pile of two-by-fours, hundreds of screws and some plywood.

It occurred to me (as it seems to after every show) that theatre is really weird. You go into a production knowing that it's going to close. But for the 2, 4, 8, 16 weeks, whatever, you're working on it, you're making it as permanant as possible. I knew that 15 minutes after the last performance of "Art" was over that the set was going to be struck, and in the case of "Art," not even the stage would be left where the production had taken place.

In my senior year of high school, I took a drama course as an elective. One of the first things we learned - perhaps it was even on the first page of the text - was that the art of theatre was "ephemeral." I don't think I'd ever heard that word before. Part of working in theatre these last years has meant coming to terms with that idea. It's kind of good practice too, in terms of my life imitating art, in that one quickly realizes that life does go on beyond the individual productions we find ourselves in through the years.

I get to be bored for the next couple of weeks. "The Visit" opens (I think...) 3 weeks from tomorrow. I have no association with it. I'm a bit nervous - it was really fantastic being engaged so completely at school again. "Art" was something to look forward to after classes were over. 90% of the core of the first-year class seems to be involved in Visit too, so it's going to test the bonds I feel that I formed over "Art." I'm gonna miss the almost-nightly drinks after shows and rehearsal, and the constant stream of in-jokes that seemed to permeate every rehearsal.

But yeah, life goes on. The next production is right around the corner.

Right now I just need to get through the Shakespeare project that's due Thursday (which is completely on track and ahead of schedule.) I want to go home this weekend, but I don't think it's gonna happen because of a scene I have due next Monday. I want to see about a job this week, although I'm not entirely optimistic about it.

To finish, I leave with another quote, that has piqued my interest in the past couple of days, from a play we're looking at in class:

"Writing is acting is directing is living your life...I see no difference between writing a play and living my life. The same thing that make a moment in my life succeed, combust, move, these same things make a moment in my playwriting have life. And when I move in my writing, I have moved in my life. There is no illusion. It is all the same thing. Acting is the same as playwriting." - John Patrick Shanley, Author's note to "the dreamer examines his pillow"

[Listening to: "Jesus, Etc.", by Wilco from the album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"]

Posted by Matthew at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2004

Strangely Depressed Squirrels

cast/crew of "art". (l-r: T.J., Leigh Ann, Josh, Bob, Nick, Me, Baird)
click for large version
Art's run continues. It goes incredibly well. Our beginning problem was cell phones in the audience. We had a string of like 3 nights where a phone went off, interupting everything. It's a small theatre, with a thrust stage, so any distraction is immedately heard and felt all over. The new problem, of the last 2 days or so, is audience members who find the stage doors before they find the doors to the lobby. We had a woman wander through the backstage wings onto the set last night who was looking for the bathroom. The night before was a woman and son who were banging on the back stage left door fifteen minutes into the performance thinking that it was the entrance. Signs haven't seemed to help...

(side note: We still have a bunch of shows left, Tuesday night through Sunday matinee. It stretches into infitinty)

At dinner tonight, Harriet (the director) mentioned that today was the thirteenth straight day of working on Art sans a break.


I mean, La Salle's shows stretched into infinity towards tech week, but then the maximum time would probably be like 10 days straight (tech week of 7 days + a three day run. Give or take.)

We're dark tomorrow, thank God. I can write my paper on Albee's Zoo Story in peace. Tomorrow begins Fall Break too, so the entire school is off for a week. Incredible, eh? A mirror of spring break actually. The only things I really, really want to do are go into the city for a day and just wander like I used to (which is more difficult without the Broad Street subway...) and see a movie. My life has revolved so completely around Art and theatre for the past 2 months that anything at all will be diversonary and amusing.

The title of this entry refers to the squirrels that inhabit the area along Mongomery Avenue along the Main Line on the route I take to Villanova sometimes. I've seen multiple squirrels play chicken with oncoming traffic - waiting in the path of oncoming traffic only to dart across the road seconds later. I even saw one the other day (I kid you not) who waited on the center lines, darted into oncoming traffic, and then bounced off of a minivan's back left tire. Very, very strange.

(And as Dave Barry would say, "Strangely Depressed Squirrels would also probably be a good name for a rock band.)

[Listening to: "Against The Wind", by Bob Seger]
Posted by Matthew at 01:36 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2004

Someone please just shoot me now...

I made a joke in class today.

It was a terrible joke. I mean, it still got laughs, but it was terrible for multiple reasons.

One was that it just wasn't all that funny - more the best one liner I could come up with under short time constraints (for some reason, this was how my mind was working today...)

The part I'm concerned about is that it was a theatre joke. It was a really nerdy threatre joke . It was a really nitpicky, nerdy, theatre joke.

It was a really nerdy, nitpicky, theatre joke at the expense of Andrew Lloyd Weber.

At least the professor laughed.

(for the record, we were discussing Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" from a dramaturgical standpoint, and talking specificically about what scenes could be cut if it were to be up for a performance. Someone mentioned "the shipwreck" as a possible cut, and I blurted out in the silence that followed, "Not if it's being done by Andrew Lloyd Weber." The class snorted and laughed.)

Yeah, so I acheived new lows of theatre nerd-dom today...all on the way to an M.A....

[Listening to: "Somebody Told Me", by The Killers from the album "Hot Fuss"]
Posted by Matthew at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2004

Couple of things...

Art opened officially last night to a sold-out audience who were absolutely fantastic. They got every joke, every laugh line, every moment of sarcasm (and then some.) It was another exhilirating opening.

Afterwards, the department held a little social gathering upstairs, where a couple of us stood and talked and looked over and the larger crowds of people (students? faculty? alumni?) that we didn't know. There was free wine and beer (both of quality) and the event was a blast. Afterwards, a bunch of us headed over to a local bar and sat around talking (and sometimes dancing) for a few hours.

What other department in a graduate school sanctions a party for every opening? Chemical Engineering? Classical Studies? Children, go into theatre.

My new project, to be completed at some unforseen date, is to try and document through photographs the progression of a play from read-through through closing. There have been so many moments backstage and so many moments in rehearsal that are either incredibly comical or just plain interesting visually.

So, come see Art. We run through the 17th. Information is here.
There's not much more other than that. My life has been consumed by grad school and Art. I'm not sure what's going to happen once Art closes, because then all of this free time just opens up for me.

I realized the other day that I haven't watched any television since August. I don't miss it, really.

A couple of us in the program have realized that we need to get out of the theater every now and then. In undergrad, there was the opportunity to go out and study new subjects outside of one's major. It's no longer that way, and it becomes a little intellectually stifiling to just be reading plays, theater history and criticism. I need to seen an Eagles game, or a movie or watch "Get the Picture" just to get out of my major for a while. It's harder to do now, with less free time.

Next week is fall break. An entire week off from classes which promises to be liberating.

[Listening to: "Homecoming King", by Guster from the album "Keep It Together"]
Posted by Matthew at 02:44 PM | Comments (2)