Friday, 30 November 2007

Torpedoing the Ark

I've never seen an Ibsen play until tonight - never read one (all the way through. I started Ghosts but didn't get past the first page). My first taste was appropriately one of his first works: Peer Gynt.

I didn't know what to make of it. On the one hand, I was seeing at a Theatre in Exeter that is, from my understanding, not the top-notch one. On the other hand, they were doing Peer Gynt, so props for effort. And it was in traverse, so the director probably knew what they were doing. Choreography and songs stood out as places that needed work - because we were so deathly close to the actors, it was obvious to tell when they were offbeat. And often the dances were simplistic, sometimes that was the point though. When the peasants were dancing, they did folk dances, like the ones I did the first night or two at Exeter. But on the whole, the dancing was pretty good, but not amazing.

And I didn't know what to make of Mr. Ibsen's fairy tale. Ibsen, the man who hated humanity and wanted to blow it out of the water for the sake of the world. On the other hand, the last half hour or so (which, relative to the show as a whole, wasn't that long) was really great, from a writing standpoint, a fairy tale standpoint, and a "love and understanding" standpoint. Or at least it seemed to be. Maybe I'm missing the thematic point and I've been duped into thinking it's about love and understanding, because when it comes to feeling good about yourself, I don't think of Ibsen plays.

I want to talk about Peer Gynt with Royal Rhodes, that's what I think ultimately will come of this will come to. It's been compared to Everyman, and so I guess that's where I'm putting it too.

The best part was that they did it in West Country accents. And at some point someone had an American accent, or tried. I was like, "oh you poor thing."

But, beyond that, I also got to do my horseback riding lesson today, which was just me, and I actually got the trotting-sitting thing down thing that you're supposed to do. That was fun. And I did my laundry. And had a BLT here that actually was just B, L, and T. In all other BLTs I've found chicken salad or something else besides the original B, L, and T. It's almost as though the British are afraid to acknowledge that three seeming side-dishes could meld together to form one sandwich.

I was on the radio, I don't know if I mentioned. Some radio people came around Thanksgiving to interview how I and some other K'Nexers were taking being American in England during Thanksgiving. One of the people from the stables recognized my voice. It was fun.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Call to Adventure

England, The Realm, the Isles of the Mighty, is calling to me. I'm really beginning to jones for going out into the countryside and just sort of getting lost in the Southwest. I'd do that tomorrow if I didn't have so many things to do. I guess that's what always happens, though. People always have things to do, no one just outright GOES on an adventure. In United Kingdom, adventures go on you!

"It's not that I like the Empire - I hate it - but there's nothing I can do about it right now!" says Luke in A New Hope. That's what I feel like right now. Which sadly means that the Uncle Owens and Aunt Berus of my life are going to be massacred by Imperial Stormtroopers and burned alive while I'm out hunting for R2.

Hmm... what are the Uncle Owens and Aunt Berus of my life right now...

Uncle Owen: facebook/my room. I spend way too much time in my room either working on stuff, being introverted (necessarily so), or trying to sleep or catch up on more work. I need to go party or something. Or if not party, at least go have tea.

Aunt Beru: Lysistrata, plain and simple. I LOVE IT and my actors are great, but at the same I've got to do a lot of work to make sure it happens. That's fine, and it's not that Directing was an uneducational course to take, but I'll be happier taking Music and Theatre, a mon avis, when I don't have to coordinate schedules.

Okay, so applying mythic structure, in particular Star Wars, to your life isn't an entirely feasible life-coaching exercise, but you know what, it's helpful.

In other news, I had a pantomine, or a panto, described to me this week, since I plan to see one around Christmas to soak up the English tradition. What with all the cross dressing, call-and-response, and terrible jokes, it should be right up my alley, right? I somehow suspect it won't be.

Also, I just encountered the amazing Disney Game, if that's even the term, by none other than reputed scholar, Ryan Merrill. You pick a hero, a villain, and a sidekick (any secondary character) for yourself. Remember how I had that post a while back about the need to be classified? Well, as you can imagine that's come rushing back to me.

So here's my shot at it. By all means, disagree.

Hero: Jack (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
Villain: Edgar (The Aristocats)
Sidekick: Marahute (The Golden Eagle from Rescuers Down Under.)

For a while I was thinking for James from James and the Giant Peach, or Beast, for the Hero. Jack won out in the end, though. But who knows.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


Hokay, so:

I have a dilemma.

I just finished the second draft of a short play, Asphodel, that erupted out of an impulse exercise I did and has taken kind of a nice form. I want feedback on it, and I'd be happy to send it to anyone that wanted it!


It's still heavily autobiographical. In fact, it specifically centers on my memories of Kenyon. So this is your warning if you want to critique it but think it's going to get to you.

Drop a line if you want to read it. It's still only in its second draft, and I'm still an egg of a playwright, so don't count on it to be an amazing reading experience. But I would like the feedback.



Christmas is coming, and from what I can tell I'll be spending it in Exeter. I'm going to at least go see a Panto though, just for the sake of saying that I was part of a British Christmas, but apart from that I don't think Christmas is going to be very big this year. The fam's sending me presents, which will be fun.

They say Christmas has the highest suicide rate because people who don't get to be together with other people on Christmas find it excessively lonely. I don't think that's the case for me, but it is sort of haunting.

I'm looking into alternative places to stay. Like Adam Latek's famed relatives who live nearby who I've never met.

Happy Advent, ye with families!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax

London was as it was several weeks ago: big and quiet and crowded.

I learned several new things: the phrase "butt burglar." What many consecutive hours awake will do to you. How to use the Central Line and the National Railway without someone telling me how to do it.

I guess I'll do this "classic narrative" after all. I'm getting tired of trying to portray London thematically. Brecht was totally two weeks ago.

After spending a whole night sitting next to my dear friend Earl (Grey) and drinking him far too much, I completed my Directing assignment: an objective assessment of my production of Oleanna. I think I actually learned something in doing it too, which is always one of those warm fuzzy feelings.

I wandered around trying to complete Exeter University's insane amount of paper-turning-in requirements (which include hunting a tiger and bringing back its claws) with all of my London equipment on my back - I had stuffed it all in my book bag. This posed a problem, because I had to walk up and down the hill from Thornlea to the Library and the Key Store in order to print, staple, buy an envelope, fill out forms, etc. etc. etc. I don't understand why they can't just ask for it to be handed in during a class, which would seem to be the SANE thing to do, but again, I have long since learned not to question British logic.

Finally I turned it in (booyah) and made my way to Exeter St. David's, where I waited for the other K'Nexers. I saw some golden labs in the distance who were just playing around with each other, but I guess their owner came and got them.

It was cold. Like, COLD. The phrase "bitter wind" is now vividly defined in my mind. And I didn't have my hat anymore (see "Extra Care With Strangers"), but what I did bring out, probably for the first time in a while, was my scarf. So I had my scarf and my Orvis hat, my big blue jacket with pockets loaded up with McVites (?) Milk Chocolate Digestives, a water bottle, my London AtoZ; then my pants had my notepad and my assorted train cards in the back pockets, and the usual in front. All in all I felt armored up for the trip.

The train ride there consisted of me drifting in and out of sleep (Earl was waring off by now), as well as reading a few essays on Greek theatre from The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre. Notice, I just said "a few" and "essays" and "read" in the same sentence. It's really the first time I've enjoyed reading essays for no graded purpose. Well, maybe not the first time, but certainly it's the time that I read the most essays without it being for a grade. w00t!

There were also these kids sitting behind me who were absolutely amazing. They probably weren't the best kids to be on a train, but they were so cool. Props to them. The guy next to me had a serious problem with them, but I thought they rocked. They'd make up songs about their stuffed animals, or talk about things they saw outside, and one even leaned over to the other one to freak him out and said "I just farted!" It was actually a whole family, too. There was a big sister who was probably about 20 with her iPod, and when one of her brothers, probably about 10, came over, she let him listen to her music, and he hopped in her lap. There was a grandpa sitting next to her who grumbled "that's not music." It was like the definition of family comedy. It hearted it.

Once the train was done, off to The Vicarage in Kensington, again, because they were awesome. This time I got a single on the top floor, so no balcony for me. Sad day. But it did mean that I had some peace and quiet in my room, which was cool, and hot chocolate all to myself.

From the Vicarage we went to Nando's, and on the way encountered none other than Japhet Balaban! We were just walking on the streets and suddenly bam, there he was. Clay, Johanna, Ken and I all stopped to chat about Kenyon and life and all - we heard news about Molly Rice's playwriting class. Molly Rice is Wendy's replacement for the year while she's gone, and Molly is producing a play called "Blood Bonds: Of Brothers and Sisters" or something at Kenyon instead of Kramer doing a piece. She's teaching a class that goes with this production, the idea being - at least I thought - that the class would right Blood Bonds, and then serve as actors in it. Apparently, according to Japhet, I was very wrong. Molly instead is taking research from the Ensemble Writing students and using it to write Blood Bonds herself. Then she'll have them be actors. This seems kind of silly to me, but oh well. I'll lump that on top of Scabies, Swipe Cards, and Neo-Naziism as proof that things go crazy without the K'Nexers there to defend Kenyon.

From Nando's we went to the Imperial Museum, which at times seemed more like a haunted house than a museum. It was centered around the 20th century wars and conflicts that not only the British Empire, but the world, had faced. So they had a reproduction of the trenches of WWI that you could walk through, and submarines and tanks on display, and this great little installation about the Cold War with the major political figures on either side making their speeches (starting with Churchill's talk about an Iron Curtain, going through Kennedy and the Cuban Missle Crisis, resting for a long time on Reagan's "evil empire," and ending with Bush in Milan. The communist side had a bunch of people I don't know, apart from Gorbachev and Stalin, but they were making similar speeches). And while these speeches were facing off, there was a little gas-meter beneath them with "War" and "Peace" on either end, and the needle kept waving between the two. I found it a rather over-simplified version of a half-century-long struggle.

Also, the British take on war and politics is much different than you would see in any American museum. Although there was a statue to veterans in the center of the main lobby, I would go so far to say either a) The British idea of War is in no way romanticized, and the grim truth of it is part of the culture, or b) the Curator of this museum is a pacifist. Not that I have a problem with either.

From there we went to dinner at a crepe place on the Thames (mmmm...beef and pepper crepe...) and Chatroom/Citizenship at the National Theater. I have to review these, so I won't really go into detail about them, but something majorly important did happen there.


He was in line to get a ticket, I think, and I was standing a few feet away with Lucia and Clay. I leaned in to Lucia and whispered:

"Is that Alan Rickman?"

Lucia looked around, "Alan who?"

Clay popped in, and I asked him, "Clay, is that Alan Rickman?"

He looked over, then back, "I'll check."

Clay nonchalantly waltzed around just barely into Alan's peripheral vision, and then did one of those fake-yawning-turns to see Alan's profile. In synch with Clay's turn, Alan turned himself and walked briskly into the bookstore, where he and his wife (who was following him) purused a book for a few seconds and then walked away. We didn't see them again.

Chatroom/Citizenship ended and we went back to The Vicarage and went to bed.

The next morning, we had breakfast and then headed off to a farmer's market in Notting Hill, featured in the movie Notting Hill, where I got a cup of warm apple juice. Tasty. From there we went to try to get into the Aquarium by the London Eye, but it was way expensive, and then Ken and I broke off to meet our friend Kristin Dolan and her dad for lunch nearby Trafalgar Square. At least I think that's how it happened. Well, Ken and I ended up in Trafalgar Square, where we waited for Kristen. We watched a guy walking around with a falcon on his arm scaring pigeons, and were amused.

Kristen showed up, and we headed off to "The Texan Embassy," a Tex-Mex restaurant in Westminster that was every American stereotype you could ever imagine. It was kind of funny. We talked with Kristen of her amazing adventures in Oxford, where she's studying History through IES.

Once we had finished, we said goodbye and headed over to the Tate Modern (THE modern art museum in London, for those who don't know), where Read Baldwin lead the K'Nexers on a Modern Art tour, complete with free pads and sketchbooks! I actually learned something about appreciating visual art, and its world and all that fun stuff. This will help in my attempts to write The Work of our Hands, a play that I keep tossing around about painting.

From there we went to find a little place to eat, which was a long and arduous adventure but ended up in a little cafe/hostel that made tasty food and had tables with comic book pictures all over them! From there, we went to see King Lear.

This I am not writing a review about, but almost wish I was. For one, we had really good seats. The theater had a square thrust out into the center and voms, a little like the Bolton, and a larger proscenium in the back. We were on the ground level, so we were right there with the action, even if we were many many rows back.

The set was this Roman-Aqueduct/Opera house pillary thing swooping along the back, covered by red drapes, with other constructions all around it and doors and things. As the play went on it broke more and more. The stage itself had lime and dust at appropriate places, like you were visiting some old site. And then Lear enters in his abdication ceremony to an organ, dressed as a Russian Czar/divine-right-of-kings style king. The play begins.

King Lear, I must confess, is one of those plays that I have been assigned to read often, and never really READ. I know snippets of it, e.g. "speak what we feel, not what we ought to say," I'm familiar with the dramaturgy, like Peter Brook's production and how that worked, and I can even comment on it as a piece of Shakespeare's writing. But I'd never really READ it. So, haha, I thought, this will be a chance for me to see a genuinely amazing piece of Shakespeare that I'm unfamiliar with - I can see it like the first audiences must have seen it.

I don't know if it was that Wendy was sitting next to me, so I felt like I was being assessed, or if I was having an off night, or if I was really in a bad seat, or if Ian McKellan's presence onstage reminded me instantly that I was watching a play, but the RSC's production of King Lear directed by Trevor Nunn with Ian McKellan as Lear didn't wow me. At least, it didn't wow me in the moment. As I think about it more and more I find myself being retroactively interested, but in the moment, there, as an audience member...I wasn't bored, but I wasn't that interested. I missed out on occasionally why things happened in the plot, and it's not that the Shakespearean sounded like jibberish to me, but there were times when it didn't make sense. And this is me. This is me who owns more than one shirt alluding to Shakespeare.

So either, I supposed, the problem was in the production, my perception of the production, or myself as a person. Being me, I first concluded that the problem was in myself as a person, and proceeded to go on a diagnostic check of my character searching for any potential threats to my ability to be swept off my feet by what I'm supposed to love best. I think that was intermission. I have to say the second half was much better, since it's where things really picked up. But again, even during the second half, things were still a little tinged with "eh..." Everyone gave the show a standing ovation at the end - they've said at Kenyon and Pennsylvania Governor's School of the Arts that you should only give a standing ovation for what you honestly like. I often break that rule, and I did that night because I figured the production must've really been good and I just couldn't get it.

It was fun sitting next to Wendy though, who loved it. I had told her about Alan Rickman, and she insisted that she saw Steven Sondheim somewhere in the first few rows, and I went down to check during intermission even though I didn't have much of an idea what Steven Sondheim looked like.

We had a little trouble getting home, Meghan Gibson was trying to get on the Tube when the doors slammed shut and separated her from the group. But we met up with her later and all was well.

The next day I went to St. Paul's Cathedral for service, and it was amazing. I kept thinking I heard organ chords echoing in ordinary sounds, like a hand-dryer in a bathroom.

Eventually I made my way home, catching the same train as Wendy and her family. Foss was reading a series called "The Vampirates" and I busted his chops about it (Me: What are these vampires weak to? Foss: Uh...sunlight...stakes through the heart... Me: Okay, it's important. Cause sometimes vampires are weak to water, so that would be silly cause they're pirates. And sometimes only holly stakes work on them, the brambles still have to be on and all. So you see, this guy who writes this could very easily mix up his lore and have things fall apart...)

Then I collapsed and went to bed. For a little while.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Naked Stage

Nudity is surfacing as a theme of my present time in England. I don't know if it's going to stick with me for the duration, making it a motif, but it's at least come up a few times here and there.

First, Rhinoceros: had a person take off their clothes as they turned into a rhino. He wandered around tackle-out for a while doing Movement until BAM, a rhinoceros charged through the wall after he exited. Very effective. It was, however, one of those moments when you look at a naked man onstage and say, "Oh, well I guess it is a little chilly in here. I'm not the only one who thinks that."

That said, uber cudos to that guy from Rhinoceros. He rocked.

Second, working naked. Now a habit of mine that I have refined to an art form, except no one else gets to see it.

Thirdly, this coming weekend I will be traveling to London, AGAIN, to see King Lear with Ian McKellan, among other plays. For those of you who have not gotten all up in King Lear's grill, at one point the text suggests that Lear should be naked. As this is the Royal Shakespeare Company, my professor doubts that they will censure this implied stage direction. So, in other words, not only do I get to see Sir Ian McKellan as Lear, but I get to see Sir Ian McKellan's balls. And theoretically his penis too.

Fourthly, Thanksgiving. What? I hear you ask across the psychic distance between us, How can Thanksgiving involve nudity? What kind of Thanksgiving is he celebrating over there?

I will posit two answers:

The first is an old response that Emma Kirby gave once when trying to justify why Thanksgiving Day was "unscrupulous" in a game of Apples to Apples. She claimed that "Thanksgiving was all about lust. Think about it, the turkey comes out of the oven, all sweaty and greased up, with a little popped up thing sticking out of him and wearing nothing but his socks!"

And if this doesn't satisfy you, allow me to flex my English-Major-Muscles (the Bull-Shitteous Maximus, among others) to attempt to fit Thanksgiving into this theme of nudity.

Thanksgiving, as a holiday, is a time when your life is laid bare. Another year down, another year lived, and why? Your preconceived notions of your own accomplishments fall away as you "count your blessings," the blessings being the things beyond you that have kept you going, whether by chance or the intervention of some human - and/or perhaps, depending on your views, divine - agency (the grocery market brings you food, your best friend stopped you from being depressed, England makes tea. And so on and so on.). The list, as you think about it, seems endless, and a sense of self almost vanishes in a sea of blessings. Until you realize that's the point. What can you call self-dependence when so much is granted to you by that which is outside yourself? You are, in a sense, laid bare before the things that have shaped you, for some reason for the better.

Actually I don't know how much bullshit that was after all.

But it lets me tangent into this: Thanksgiving In England.

As per the tradition, Kenyon-Exeter held their Thanksgiving party in a pub called "The Bridge" in Topsham, which is the only pub that the Queen has ever visited. It's old, in that wonderfully English way. It, like The Turf, chronicled in the entry "Bedlam" in October, is right on the river Exe, and you can see where the moisture in the wood has had its effect. There was a little fireplace, real local beer (which I didn't have. I made the mistake of coming there with an empty stomach and downing a pint of local cider. Five minutes later I lost feeling in my lips. This said, to me: hold off on the boozahol.). They had comfy armchairs that, honestly, I could have seen at Mancuso Antiques selling for a good deal of money, I'm pretty sure. And the fabric was faded, ugh, it was great.

A funny story, actually, is that once properly numbed by the cider, I encountered not only Avery Macleod, age 12, but his friends from school that he brought with him. So there I was, mildly tipsy, being a terrible role model. As I find a lot of joy trying to be a good role model for kids, this was a little disheartening.

Then they brought out the food. MMM. Turkey, stuffing, brussel sprouts and bacon (which I thought was just something my family did, but it turns out to be an actual thing!), mashed potatoes, gravy...mmm. The mashed potatoes were the only thing I had a little trouble with - there was something in them that made them taste sweet, and as my friends Patrick Smyth and Anne Petdke concluded with me, it could only last for a few bites before you had to stop. But it was still good. Then came dessert, which was interesting - the British attempts to make pumpkin and apple pie. They served the pumpkin pie with clotted cream, not vanilla cream, which was kind of interesting. Clotted cream you eat with scones, it's very bland and buttery. Vanilla cream plays off of the spices in the pumpkin pie, and this subtlety was lost. Also, the attempt to make an apple pie was really just apple sauce in a pie crust, but given that it was actually pretty darn good!

Then, after three plates of food and a good deal of bread, also after about an hour since the first cider, I started into my second cider - Dragon Tears, a locally brewed mastery of yum. Also it's really sour, so you can't drink it too fast: a good detail.

I also met one of Wendy's current playwriting students at the bar, which was fun. We chatted about the Menace assignment, and Three Tall Women, and lots of good stuff. There were a few other of Wendy's British students there that I didn't really get to meet, which wasn't too fun, but oh well.

And again, Reader, you may ask why is he talking about Thanksgiving, even after so stunningly justifying it thematically? I mean, hasn't this gone on a little long? Where's all the nudity?

And I would respond: I mentioned I liked to work naked, and I'm taking a break from an essay. Who's to say I'm not naked RIGHT NOW?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Almost

This is the second most wonderful time, maybe? Or the Pre-most wonderful etc. Probably pre. Thanksgiving approaches and I'll be celebrating it in a strange land. I'm trying to get ahold of a Scottish host family to spend Christmas with because I can't really stand the idea of spending Christmas not with SOME kind of familial unit or at least some really good friends or something. My internship, as it turns out, is only for six days BUT, this is the best part - and seriously I'm not being sarcastic - I'll be helping out kids on a young writer's program at the Theatre Royal. This is exactly the kind of program that got me going! This might very well what I do with the rest of my life! I'm excited.

And it's in Bath, which is pretty.

In my head while I was going to sleep last night, I was rehearsing what I was going to say to the Kenyon students who were thinking about going to Exeter in two years, the ones that I would meet as an Exeter Alum and jovially give advice to, alluding and hinting at grand adventures that these kids would be clueless about unless they went. And it occurred to me that I might end up making a comment like this:

"I know this sounds weird - it's maybe not talked about a lot at Kenyon. But going to Exeter, being in England, living with all the English and other international students - you learn what being an American means. You learn it for yourself, as opposed to here in America, where you learn it by what other people tell you being an American means."

It obviously sounds much less eloquent than when it's in my mind and there are thirty some faceless, wide-eyed, pre-Exeter sophomores starring at me.

But seriously, though, you do kind of learn to distinguish qualities you've inherently had because of your culture. And it's not like it makes you better than anyone else, and it's not even that they're always good. But you get a little more insight into what makes an American by taking him/her out of America.

Not that I've always been one for National Identity. I guess I'm still not, when it comes down to it. I think it's important to recognize your heritage as a strong factor of your upbringing. But when it comes down to identity, like That Which You Choose That Guides Who You Are On The Innermost Levels, I don't think America or the American Government is the place to go. I mean I'd say the same thing about England or the English Government, France or the French Government, China or the Chinese Government, etc.

It has begun to get wet, cold, and windy around here. I guess this is what we get instead of snow. Happy Cooking-Turkey day! Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Happy life!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Lay Off the Earl Grey


Not only have my dreams been unusually vivid, as it's Thanksgiving Break in my mind and my body clock is needing more sleep, but I've actually been very bad to my internal mechanisms.

Over the past view days I have been ingesting Earl Grey by the pitcher. Specifically, last night, because I had so little time last week due to the production of Oleanna, I went to the library and printed out three character sheets for Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Mage: The Ascension. I set about drawing up a character and a half last night, a process which took a few hours of creative revelry.

The problem is that it pushed into the morning, and I had lots of Earl Grey in me, making me trying to get to sleep a mess. My unconscious wriggled madly to try to express itself as I lay awake in bed, half asleep but unable to get there fully because of the caffeine. In a sense I kind of started semi-dreaming while awake, I responded to dream stimuli in a conscious manner. For instance, I remember at one point I felt like there were this collection of rectangular metal cubes (polygons? 3-D rectangles) that were banging into each other around the vicinity of my heart like they were part of some crazy steampunk machine, and I was standing in the middle of them (in my heart) watching it all happen around me. Constantly I felt like I was in the middle of some wind-up device gone horribly, horribly wrong.

And still I sat down to type this, finishing off last night's pitcher.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Even More Dreams

As I had nothing to do today, I decided that I was going to sleep in an extra long time. This is another dream that I had while I was sleeping in.

I was with Bob Egan again heading off to another theater related program that I was interning for, along with Kate Ross, Japhet Balaban, and Stephanie Reiches. Except that Bob Egan had butchered a bunch of people and put them in a car, had in fact painted their blood on the sides of his car and expected me to sit on top of the bodies, but thought it was a secret that he had all these bodies in the back of his car. We stopped at a rest stop and I tried to tell Stephanie about the bodies, but Bob came up and asked what was wrong, and so I faked something about being really stressed out and stuff like that. Then I had to try to arrange with Japhet, who was handling the rooms, for someone to take my room since I wasn't going to be there because I was afraid Bob Egan was going to kill me to keep me quiet.

And then there were aliens in there moved on to another dream that I can't remember.

More Dreams

So in one of my dreams last night:

I went to Ascension Hall because it was my Senior Year and I suddenly had the urge to check out what the Alumni Committee was doing. I ran into Michael, the Cornerstone who took Greek formerly with really long hair, and we said hi.

At the Alumni Committee room in Ascension they were holding some kind of contest that consisted of a blood drive. Someone remarked that their blood they gave was really old, as a joke, and I thought to myself, "I haven't given blood in a while" and missed it. A lot.

Then I think Julia Davis, the international student liaison at Exeter, was there, and the deal was that she was staging an environmentalist protest at this meeting, and she dropped an egg in vinegar for me, and it floated around and parts of it fell away. This was the process of removing the "deer feces" from it, which it had come in contact with because of its packaging by a larger corporation.

Then she told me a story, and she turned into someone else - a guy who was probably about 22. In this story, he directed Romeo and Juliet, but his lead for Romeo dropped out at the last second, and got a new guy, but...

I interrupted, "but he couldn't talk over the yoke in front of him." I pictured an actor with a giant gelatenous frozen egg in front of him.

"No, he..."

I forget what the exact problem was but the director gave the actors some notes, and then they all rebelled against him and made fun of him. Show don't tell, I know, but all I can remember of what they did was that some piece of wax fell from the ceiling and they compared it to the director in song and it was supposed to be horribly mocking.

Commiserating, I picked up a bat with spikes in it and said, "I know. Actors can be a real pain sometimes" or something.

Then my dad showed up and we tried to drive home out of the school parking lot except something held us up - I feel like there was the fear that one of us needed to go to the bathroom badly or something...

And that was the dream. I think.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


I saw The Simpsons Movie tonight. I don't know if anyone really understood it like myself, Clay and Ken. I mean, take a bastion of American culture and put it in Europe... I found myself
laughing out loud at jokes that fell completely flat, like when the book club gets enraged and one lady says to another "you're the five people I'm going to meet in Hell!" Maybe that book didn't hit it big in Europe...or when Homer is battered between a bar called "A Hard Place" and a very large rock. Maybe that expression doesn't exist. They certainly didn't laugh when Marge insisted that she didn't need women's razors to prevent a clerk from noticing a wanted sign with her family on it, insisting that "we're European." THAT one sucked dead air, except for me, and I was laughing in part because I was sitting next to two French girls that came with us.

Maybe I'm just ethnocentric. Maybe I'm just an asshole. Europe might want to get more of its own movies, though. So far the CineSoc has played things like "Transformers" and as Ken pointed out, even if you're a member it costs a pound fifty. KFS is free.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


I hung out with some French girls and Clay von Carlowitz today and made Christmas decorations. I introduced the concept of a "Christmas Chain" to the French, but we didn't have any construction paper. So I went with Clay and bought some printer paper and we started decorating slips of it to make into the chain. I went online and found the chorus of the angels during the Enunciation, in Ancient Greek, and wrote it on one of the chains. The classics enthusiast in me was delighted.

Although I LOVE Thanksgiving, don't get me wrong, I kind of like preparing for Christmas this early. I whipped out the "Mabye This Christmas" sound track and the Manhattan Transfer's Christmas album while we were making decorations. It was kind of awesome.

The French were doing this thing where they blew the yoke out of eggs and then turned the whole shells into heads which they stuck on construction paper (they didn't have enough to share with us, though). They also decorated the shells to look like heads, and the ultimate result is these little figures that are, they say, "Christmas Pixies" or something like that. They are, in other words, Santa's Elves. There is a definite difference between a pixie and an elf.

Also, they were talking about whether or not we knew of the story of "Red Cap," which is Little Red Riding Hood. I was amused, because in Scotland and England "Red Caps" are goblins that hang out in castles and kill wanderers, then they soak their hats in their victim's blood. Red Caps are a cautionary tale not to go in old abandoned buildings (and a playable splat in which rpg?).

I miss rpgs. Sigh.

Anyway, I wish I could prep for Christmas with all y'all. I miss Kenyon and America just a wee bit.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Life and Love

No, this isn't getting romantic, this is rather a plea for action to myself.

The Independent featured a cover story a WHILE ago about the fact that tigers were dying out. If I could find the link I would post it, but essentially conservationists are saying that it's going to take a miracle to keep the species going given the current populations. The expect that by 2025 they'll be extinct.

This on top of my just having played Risk for the first time in a while have lead me to conclude that people need a lot more love in their lives (Risk is such a cold game, and all the tigers are dying). I tell myself that in response to this, I'm going to try to spend time doing things like saying hi to everyone I can, helping people wherever I can, and generally being reckless in my expenditure of positive energy.

By the way, for general uses and holiday presents, check out:

And all the affiliated sites, one of which preserves the rainforest. I'm feeling a little environmentalist, I guess, since I remembered that my favorite big cat is biting the dust.

Also, check out:

The World Land Trust


A Little Synchronicity

The main song from Stardust has been showing up in my life a lot in the past 24 hours - once last night at a party in the kitchen when the TV was left on the music video channel, and today in the cab on its way to the stables so I could ride. I think I'm being told to see Stardust, but I think it's out of theaters here by now.

Today I rode Ginger, that very same horse from my first lesson who gave me some trouble. This time, though, he was great! He listened to me more, though he would occasionally do his own thing, which was silly. I'm still learning exactly how assertive to be with a horse, how tightly to hold the reins and all, but I'm getting there. I was trotting today, and I managed to keep the horse trotting, do the little bouncey-up-and-down-on-the-saddle thing, keep my posture right (I think) and my feet in the stirrups correctly, AND, on top of all this, STEER. It was pretty cool.

Plus, at the end, I went up to pet him, and he took his whole head and with one stroke rubbed it against the entirety of my body, ankles to head. I think that means he likes me.

Also, I checked out the space I have to do Lysistrata in, and I'm proceeding to research and read up on that, Aristotle's Poetics (reviewing, rather), Greek theater, clowning, vaudeville, and comedy.


Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Extra Care With Strangers

So I went out to a pub called the King William (King Billy for short) tonight with Ken and some British people. We sat down, they with their drinks, I with my sober attention to my budget. And we proceeded to talk.

At some point Jurassic Park came up, which lead to arguing about chaos theory. Ken asserted that Malcolm's idea that something was bound to go wrong with the park, and so no one should have tried to build it, was a false representation of chaos theory. "If people thought that, then why would they ever try anything?" he exclaimed.

Movie convo quickly brought up a relic from my childhood - Flight of the Navigator. "OH MY GOSH!" I exclaimed.

This attracted the attention of the people in the booth next to us, a group of men in their twenty somethings. They started asking if we wanted a "burger and fries" and made sure to make their a's really nasal, their r's very pronounced. We ignored them.

I went to the bathroom later in the night. One of them came in while I was drying my hands. He asked me if I knew The Hairdressers. I said no - I thought they were a band or something. Then he told me to get my fucking hair cut.

In a few minutes when we were both back at our tables he came over and started telling me about the hairdressers down the street. Luckily Ken intervened and made jovial conversation with him and the people in the next booth. They pretty much left us alone, though they kept referring to Ken as a "Josie." Then they left.

When we finally got up to go I couldn't find my hat - the brown and white knit one that was my older brother's when he was a kid, the one that I found during Thanksgiving Break sophomore year of Kenyon and started wearing because I needed the confidence. I'm going to go back to the King Billy and I'll ask if they've found anything, but it's most likely somewhere on the streets. I can't help thinking, though, that it was somehow those people that took it. I can't remember when I took it off - I can't see any other reason to take it off than in the bar.

And I know it's just a thing, and that I shouldn't attach any value to it, and this was bound to happen as I have a tendency to lose hats. But I do miss it, I did come back to my room and hope that I had just forgotten to wear it that night, I did hope it was sitting on top of a pile of junk somewhere or in my jacket pocket. Such is the way of things. But this is the first major thing I've really lost in England.

"Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood.
They will not protect you
The way that they should..."

Shot to the Heart

No, this isn't going to be about my present romantic escapades in Exeter, don't worry. I mean, wait, I actually can have part of my blog devoted to it. Ready?


That was my entry about my present romantic escapades.

Anyway, what this entry IS about is a The Empty Space by Peter Brook. I started reading it, with its opening chapter on "Dead Theater" and subsequently realized that I think I've been doing a lot of dead theater here in Exeter. I think that's the idea in the book, and why he put it as the first chapter, and I think that's the realization you're supposed to have in silent and then quickly read through the rest of the book to figure out how to fix it, but I have a scene for my directing class that went up tomorrow. So, like a Bystander (name that reference!) I am left with the knowledge I'm involved in something wrong, but no way to right it.

More on this later, as I learn how Peter Brook wants me to fix it.

Today I was in the book store to pick up some books (who'd've thought...), some of which were plays for next semester, and I came across a Camdbridge Companion that looked interesting. I own one already on Tom Stoppard. This one was on Greek and Roman theatre. Given the choice between plays I was required to read for next semester, and this, I chose this. So now I have two. When I need to put this one on a bookshelf, they're going to be right next to each other. I'll look so scholarly.

So, a la Erin Ellingwood, I'll end with a little cadre of things accomplished:

The Empty Space, Peter Brook
The Everlasting Man, G.K. Chesterton
If on a winter's night a traveler, Italo Calvino
The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theater, edited by Marianne McDonald and J. Michael Walton

Writing (or toying with):
"The Work of our Hands"
"The Synchronometer"


Twelfth Night as Christmas Play
A Winter's Tale as steampunk comic book
Lysistrata (e.g. dildos)
Post Secret

Monday, 12 November 2007

Tasty Tea and Pasties

A) I had found a tiny place called the Three Cooks Bakery, and they make pasties. No, not the little plastic things you put on your nipular region if your boob is hanging out, but they're actually flakey bread - like a croissant - wrapped over to form a pocket, and in the pocket you can put lots of stuff. These people put essentially beef stew in it. MMM. And, only a pound and 70 p for two. That was lunch.

B) I spent a good half hour in Sainsbury's. I decided that I could spend a lot of time just wandering around Sainsbury's and Woolworth's (which I've visited. See below). I spent a good deal of time in the alcohol isles (one for liquor, one for wine) and ultimately decided that I didn't have the money to be extravagant and buy my own bottle. That and I didn't know what to buy. Scotch? Gin? Sainsbury's Brand Gin? I didn't want to spend an exorbitant amount of pounds only to find out that I don't like something.

b1) This alcoholic curiosity was brought on, however, by a lovely lovely dinner at Wendy's house last night, which was AMAZING. Everything I ate was tasty, even the beet and carrot stuff that Read made. I'm not the biggest fan of beets but hey, they were okay for a vegetable I don't like. There was chicken, and salad, and snow peas, and risotto - and then there was a little measuring cup of chicken broth that you could pour on the risotto and the chicken. SCRUMTRILESCENT! And then there were these cupcakes and chocolate ice cream and I almost literally wanted to just roll around in because it was so moist and yummy. Plus I had three glasses of white wine too, so it was pretty kicking. In fact, Avery Macleod, the tricky soundrel, made sure to wait until I had a few glasses of wine in me before he challenged me to Wii Sports. Then, with dessert, I got a big mug of Earl Grey (YES). As things wound down, Wendy started cleaning dishes and Clay and I offered to help. She declined, but invited us to come into the kitchen and "hang out." So, I've officially hung out with Wendy. It was kind of great. And the train station nearby their house looks like something out of Spirited Away too.

C) Without money for alcohol, and inspired by the big mug of tea from the night before, I decided that my little extravagance for the week would be Earl Grey. I bought a box of Twinings Aromatic Earl Grey with 100 tea bags in it! So I'm set. And it was great, because Alison had brought me a box of Petit Beurre tea biscuits from France, and so at around 4 o'clock I sat down with my Earl Grey, my tea biscuits, and I had tea time while writing my blog. Which is this.

Sunday, 11 November 2007


I was just thinking about everyone who goes abroad today, because of Alison and also Michael Shaeffer and others, and then even my own experience and other K'Nexers' experience too. I went abroad because my life experience wasn't going to be complete just living in America, and it seems like other people here have the same feeling. It's not that we're going to settle in Europe, to immigrate back to the Old Country, it's just that our lives aren't complete without being somewhere else.

And why is that?

So I've decided everyone has another country in them, mine I think is England/UK, making me an anglophile. Other people are probably francophiles or allemandophiles or who knows what else. It's like a hobby, this second country, filling in for something in America that is somehow lacking. Maybe it's just the fact that we don't really have any neighbors (except for two), and so we're kind of the shy awkward kid in the farmhouse that wants to have more friends.

Today, also, was Remembrance Day in England, which is a very big thing. And of course it was another of the days I picked to roll out of bed and show up late for Church. The building was packed, and I had to walk down the chapel - arranged like a Traverse theater, by the way - with everyone staring me down. I felt stuck in a gauntlet, but luckily I wasn't alone. Everyone did keep looking at me though.

So we sat through the service, which was great, and included poetry from wartime. The pastor also added things like, "for those of you that know the Lord's Blessing" (I didn't, that may not even be the right name for it, it's just a benediction blessing at the end of the service which we were all to say together and it wasn't in the leaflets we got.), and quick little truths - he wasn't embellishing or accusing - that made it seem like he was very conscious of the fact that the church was full of people that didn't usually come to the service and just came for Remembrance Day. The hymns were great, and it was good to see so many people there. There weren't enough hymnals so a lady next to me ended up sharing hers, I felt bad for the people down the row from me because they were left without one, so I tried to sing up for them.

By the end I had really gone through an experience, I kept thinking of my grandfather, Big Bob, who I never met but who fought in the Battle of the Bulge (he made it through the whole war, though, so it wasn't quite Remembrance but nonetheless, that's something I thought about). It was sobering. Once the service was done, everyone got up slowly and started to make their way out, and I felt something on my scalp. I picked a big yellow leaf out of my hair, meaning that as I was walking in late, as I was walking down the gauntlet, as I was singing profound hims, and as I was contemplating my grandfather, there was a big yellow leaf sticking out of my hair. My only conclusions to draw from this are either that it was a message not to take things too seriously, divine punishment for showing up late, or both.

Then we had lunch at the Impy. All in all a good day so far. I love England.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Epic Theater

The act of writing, taking pen to paper
or keying letters to a staccato beat
is high drama, an ancient high drama at that.



You are reading the blog of Griffin Horn, who, in his adventures abroad in England, returned to London with none other than Mackenzie Worrall to meet their friend, Alison Byrle, for a jolly old time about town. What? you ask, Alison Byrle? I've seen her comment on facebook about Griffin's blog. She's a regular reader. If I show up in England and hang out with Griffin, does that mean I, a regular reader, will become a character in his writings?

You skip a few paragraphs ahead and double check: yes, yes it would most certainly appear so.

You learn, however, that Alison was not always present in the story, for Griffin goes on, lengthily in fact, about how he brought not one but two books with him on the train: G.K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man and Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler. At length he discusses the postmodern effect of reading a story about a reader reading If on a winter's night a traveler and the joy he felt when he discovered a chapter in "Translatese," the form of English created when one translates on sight from a foreign, ancient, and dead language. Then look at this whole chunk about how he imagined staging it as he read it, as if he could! Everyone who's anyone knows that If on a winter's night a traveler can only ever be read, because it's about reading! Ah, but he has this wacked out theory about how it's the only novel he's read that's taken place in the present tense, lending itself to drama. Well, my word! He goes on praising it for a complete paragraph! Hmph, if you came to visit Griffin, forget about being the protagonist in his blog entry about you: visiting readers seem to pale in comparison to floofy avant-garde writers from the 70's. Is Calvino even from the 70's? you ask yourself. How would anyone ever know?

Ugh, surely there's got to be a prologue in here that's more interesting than literary analysis.


Here we are. Conflict! Adventure! Drama! But damn, he replaced it with some kind of verse.

"I booked a hostel:
Quick and cheap - I wanted it.
Fate said otherwise."

A haiku? Really, Mr. Horn. If I paid to come to this site I'd give you a piece of my mind.


Well that's a catchy title! You're bound to love something so mythic-structure, so Joseph-Campbell, so Are-You-Afraid-of-the-Dark as that!

You read on, and on, and on. This part actually goes on for a while. 'London has gone down a notch on my cosmic order of cities.' Cosmic? 'We got off the train and met Alison - it was great! We all went up to a Subway at the Victoria Station and paid far too much money for mediocre sub sandwiches. So we couldn't pay for drinks. I went to fill up my water bottle in the sink in the bathroom, discovered a horrible truth, and then walked back to Ken and Alison, singing:

'Better hope your pennies add up to the fee,
We can't have you peeing for free.
If you do we'll catch you,
We, we never fail.
And we will not bother with jail.


'What?' Ken asks, a la Erin Ellingwood - another reader, you note. He's heavy on reader reference tonight. What is it they call it when George W. Bush gathers all the rich people who vote for him together and has a dinner to make sure they keep voting for him? Whatever it is, he must be doing that, but with readers. Also, Urinetown, a parody of Brechtian theater. Does this have anything to do with the title, Epic Theater? you wonder. How unbearably self-referential.

'The bathrooms cost 20p! And there's no tap water in the stores!'

'Cockfoster!' Alison moans. You wonder how much of this is true.

'Our hostel had better be darn good,' Griffin remarks, but wait! That haiku! Ah, now you see. Griffin was not simply condensing an entire dramatic scene and representing it with a haiku, but he was setting the sense of mystery, the forshadowing, as it were, of the crisis! Your opinion of him has just gone up for that subtle literary parlor trick.

You skip ahead to the paragraph about the hostel: AUGH, it's a ranting description of absolute squalor! Hooray, the juicy part! He describes it, mildly, as "some rooms around a bar, a bar that played horrible music." How simply he begins, but this is just the first note. Look, he tells about how the manager at the bar was fairly tipsy himself, and how this manager and the bouncer sat around staring at the computer for 10 minutes because they couldn't find Griffin's online reservation. Oops! What fun! Wait a minute, you skipped a paragraph that looks important.

Ah, apparently it took them a while to find this place. Apparently they walked right by it because you couldn't tell it, a hostel, from the sketchy-ass bar it was attached to, that was bouncing with all kinds of the seedy London night life that just makes Griffin knock London down a few more pegs on that cosmic rack. You have to say, though, a cosmic order of cities? This Griffin character is just a little pretentious sometimes, but hey, you've gotta love him! Oh my, it appears they walked so far that they eventually turned around and attracted the attention of a nice man on the street - see, there are good people in the world. But wait, you read that he informed them that they missed the action entirely right outside of the bar. Oh? Apparently, a man was hit by a taxi. The man from the street tells Alison, Ken, and Griffin that if they only had checked in on time they might have "been there for the action."

Okay, stop. Griffin's leaving parts out here. This man helped them! How could he portray him and this bartender and this bouncer and Alison, who's only line has been 'cockfoster' so far and that doesn't sound like her at all! Surely these people must be wholly rounded individuals, have a life story somewhere that requires us to abstain from judgment.

Apparently this matters little to the author, at least it would seem from the text, since away he goes. How brutish.

Now, where were you in that later paragraph....the bar...ah yes. They can't find the reservation. They don't quite know how to make the computer work. One of them, at least, is drunk. There's terrible metal music playing and a bar filled with a bunch of drunk Brits who sound even more British by virtue of being drunk. Well that didn't make much sense, you think. But you read on.

Fate smiles! The manager gives Alison an extra bed and Griffin and Ken room to sleep in the 'Chill Out Room.' Hm. 'Chill Out Room?' But they get free drinks! Oh what fun.


You can't imagine this is actually true. He describes this whole thing as a "basement on steroids, with large couches and a ping pong table, and clashing colors painted everywhere - inhabited by the kind of Europeans you'd see in a James Bond video game, a sort of stock angularity programed into the faces of the nameless characters you shoot." Well that's mildly racist, isn't it? Are Europeans a race? And what's this? Hm, the three Kenyonites are reminiscing about their school that they miss so much in the face of this sketchtastic-Jackson experience. SKIP.

Oo, the bar and caretaking staff all come down to the hangout spot and drink and carry on until 4 a.m. Ken tries to get some sleep but Griffin knows better, and stays up trying to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on the TV, which somebody left on. 'Star Trek, The Everlasting Man, try to sleep, If on a winter's night a traveler, listen to the conversation and the drama unfold between the staff, who're all late teens or twenty somethings, I think, and, being drunk and in some cases stoned, say some crazy stuff. And I still need to pee, and I don't think I can make it to the bathrooms from here. I don't know where they are. Help me Obi-Wan Kanobi. You're my only hope.' The find effective if a little out-of-left-field, but hey, that's what this writer is known for anyway, at least amongst his readers. Perhaps another ploy?

And he touches on a theme here, nay, a motif: a need to pee. Is that all we are? Do we go through life in the following order: born, need to pee, find a toilet, pee, need to pee, find a toilet, etc. etc. etc. die? Is this all there is in a landscape where it seems the author forgoes pleasant assumptions about the goodness of humanity and replaces it with these caricatures? How very Beckett, how very post-world-war-two-minimalist.

And yet, as he references Urinetown earlier in the piece, he seems to point out that this motif is already explored territory. Rather than shooting himself in the foot, this seems to be an even more nuanced motif: there is nothing new under the sun. That these caricatured characters, himself included, have been constantly rearranging themselves and living out these petty dramas for all eternity in a variety of different outcomes for the sake of the entertainment of someone, somewhere in the intercosmic galaxy of the time/space/literary continuum.

Oh dear, lost the spot, where were you?

Part Two

Now the scene is dark - all the drunkies have gone outside to shoot off fireworks. Ugh, anthropology time. He speculates for a number of paragraphs about why the English insist on shooting off fireworks from Halloween through the present day. Get to the good stuff.

Here we go, everyone's asleep and he needs to pee again: motif. The bouncer from before is wandering around looking for his credit card. He asks, they chat, the bouncer directs him, he gets lost. The bouncer finds him again -

he touches his stomach and directs him up the stairs -

did that just happen?

He and the bouncer exchange awkward conversation outside of the bathroom. ......... when Griffin gets back to his couch in the chillout room, the bouncer insists he goes to sleep and shakes his hand, lingering as Griffin lets go -


Is this bouncer guy hitting on him? Is there going to be a triste in the hallway? That's so skeevy!

Griffin says nothing happened after that and writes it off as the guy was drunk but you think otherwise: that Griffin is a giant whore, as you know from experience, if you get what you're thinking.


Thank merciful secularism that allows you to thank whatever merciful entity with or without a personality or perhaps no entity of mercy at all and only ever in the privacy of your own head and never aloud in front of anyone else, a list:

'Top Ten Moments of the Good Day, November 10th, 2007.

5. Finding not one, but TWO comic book stores, and at these comic book stores, copies of the complete collection of Sandman, sourcebooks for Hunter: The Reckoning, the core rules for Changeling: The Lost and even some sourcebooks for the first roleplaying game I ever really got into: In Nomine.

8. Finding Alison a really good hostel to stay at tonight, since her plane is tomorrow and Ken and I go back on a train at 8.

4. The British Museum/taking pictures with Egyptian statues/learning the history of money/coming up with Hunter ideas around a museum.

10. Almost buying roasted chesnuts on the street.

7. Getting on a tube, noticing an unattended bag, deciding it was a bomb, considering ourselves on the brink of life and death, getting off at the next stop and waiting for the next train without telling anybody about the potential bomb, and being thankful when there wasn't an explosion and it turning out that we were just playing pretend. I think this happened today.

3. Lunch at a great cafe with Ken's friend Kyle who's at an international school in London. Not only did I discover a fun new person, but the notion of sparkling lemonade, of which I bought two cans, and the first peanut butter-chocolate square I've had since Gund desserts.

6. Discovering the British equivalent of Cracklin' Oat Bran: Crunchy Wheat Flakes, or something like that.

9. Alison's gift of tea biscuits from France.

2. Hearing Alison's stories from France and news from Kenyon.

1. The last supper at Sugo's italian restaurant in Notting Hill, recommended to all for its availability of tap water and its amazing food. This dinner included an amazing conversation between Ken, Alison and I that was simply amazing, to be redundant."


Quick, he's making a reference to earlier publications in his blog, Encyclopedic Knowledge (A Conspiracy of Cartographers) roll: success! You remember Griffin's Orvis Leather Carry On Bag (bought at a 50% + 20% discount from the Orvis outlet in Lahaska, PA) from his first entry with sadness and despair. For snacks, is seems, Griffin brought along rice cakes and jelly, and the jelly had an accident inside his travel bag. Again, need to pee and what happens when that need is unfulfilled. The AtoZ, The Everlasting Man and If on a winter's night a traveler (which should be noted is a yellowed used edition probably from the seventies that smells of old book) formed the first line of defense against the marauding raspberry preserves, sacrificing themselves so that the clothes might go on. You take a moment of silence to remember their actions.



'We could've taken the midnight train into St. David's, but it literally would've taken all night, so Alison decided she was going to catch a movie and then afterwards sprint back to her hostel. Being a girl alone on the streets in London isn't a very viable option for long, even in Notting Hill. I felt bad that we were leaving her, but what with all of the hostel scheduling problems and all we couldn't really deviate from the schedule we had. He had to have a little order in our lives.

So we left Alison as she went to see ... something, I actually forget what. It might have been Elizabeth or something. Ken and I meandered over to Paddington and hopped on the train home, which was bookless for fear of making the jelly situation worse, and mostly revolved around trying to get some sleep. I had strange dreams that kept making me twitch, like the dreams I had at the hostel of what it would be like to be swallowed whole by a shark and try to claw your way out, but I can't remember what they were. It must've looked funny.

And then home again home again, "to know it for the first time."'

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A Curious Phenomenon

I don't know why, but I'm in the strangest mood to be classified and cast. Not necessarily cast in a show, though that would be fun, but ... like in a quizilla quiz, except they suck. But I just feel the sudden urge to find out "what herb are you?" or "what super hero are you?" or "if you were a character from X, which one would you be?" Albeit they are merely hypotheses and nowhere near to scientifically accurate, but it still is fun, and for some reason I'm craving it.

The only cause I can think of is culture shock. I know I've dealt with it a lot in my writing, and I just wanted to make it clear that I'm not trying to hammer a point home. I'm trying to demonstrate the manifold responses to it, especially since it is a constant in your life - I'm constantly reminded that I'm not from around here, even just by talking to people. And it is ... I guess "disconcerting" is the best word. It puts you on your toes.

Also, like all other high school and middle school dorks, I was a huge fan of quizilla, so not only does it appear to be maybe a kind of apollonian response to tragedy (categorize me, order, make order! sort of a thing), but you could also read it as regression.

Or it's just an urge, if you don't like Nietzsche or Freud. I mean, I don't.

That said, if you would like to offer your own casting or categorization of me within any fictional universes, or as one kind of inanimate object over another, or something, feel free to post and say whether or not you want me to return the favor, because I will.

English Weather

Usually it will just spit around here for a while, and be overcast with cloudbursts for months on end, but today was the first day that I actually saw it all out rain, even if only for a little bit, since we got here.

It was refreshing to know that rain falls on England as well as America like this. I kind of miss thunderstorms though. I kind of miss thunderstorms a lot.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Cadbury Fingers and Dildos

And never the twin shall meet. Hopefully.

1) Cadbury Fingers
I can't remember if I posted this already, but Monday I was food shopping at Sainsbury's and I found these little Cadbury creations that were biscuit fingers covered in Cadbury milk chocolate, and they were only 54 p!!! Even though that's $1.08 in real life it's very cheap for a box of
Oop, just trailed off there.
Cadbury Fingers, right, well I brought them home after paying only 54 p (!!!) for them and offered a few around to other people in the flat. Then I checked facebook and proceeded to eat them. All. The Whole Box. It was the only time that I've ever been angry at food for being so scrumptious but not presenting me with an infinite amount of itself that the only way I could eat it was by ravenously scarfing it down and all but growling at them as I did it.

2) Dildos
I've undertaken to direct a found-space version of Lysistrata that will only have four women and only be a maximum of forty minutes. I'm a little out at sea, because I imagine using the text to explore clowning, vaudeville, and the carnivalesque in theater, and, much like my experience of acting in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged in high school, finding and creating gags and routines as an ensemble and all that fun stuff. But it occurred to me I know very little about clowning, less about the carnivalesque, and virtually nothing about vaudeville. All I know of the production so far is that it will involve dildos. For lack of any other kind of directorial vision.

Also, as a post script, and for the sake of science, I just wanted to publish a bit of data I discovered. You see, at Exeter, you have a single, so if you want - in just the sense that everyone has to be naked at some point - you can just hang out in your room naked. What I have learned, though, is that this has certain limits. For instance: do not eat cookies while naked. Cause of the crumbs, they're obnoxious. Just trust me on that one.

Monday, 5 November 2007

...a beast?

So my tear jerker ended up being me listening to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack again. I can't help but empathize with a self-decpricating emo guy who locks himself up in his room and has to figure out a way to connect with people before his twenty first birthday or else he'll be trapped for ever.

England does this to you.

More Than This Provencial Life

I walked out last night, and also tonight, and the air was sulfurous. It smelled like gunpowder.

Happy Guy Fawkes day.

I put on my Orvis walking jacket today (my idea of the epitome of Britishness) and my Orvis cap (also British) and I was wearing my Orvis polo (not very British but nonetheless, Orvis), and I was wearing a pair of my Orvis jeans (not particularly British at all), and I walked down to Roborough Studios to re-do some scheduling stuff. There was a pink sunset hanging by the mountains and I could just see, covered with mist, in the distance a second set of hills after the first rolling hills that you could make out for sure. I even thought I could see a third set, but I decided that those were mountains, leading me to conclude that a group of clouds should be called a "range."

I also ended up feeling very old in that jacket, in a good way. Like C.S. Lewis talks about the joy he had in taking walks: when I put on this jacket, I felt like I needed a walking stick. Or a cane. It was a very smug little jacket, it lightly rests on your shoulders just in case you're a frail person. It has these little leather details on the end that for some reason make me feel warm when I look at them. I got the sense that maybe I've been a forty year old man all my life and I'm just coming to understand it now.

Anyway, it put me in a very daydreamy, world-weary mood. So a couple of musings:

First, I'm currently under the opinion that if you want to learn how to direct, coming to England won't help. The theatrical traditions are very different, and while the journey will teach you a lot about directing, the fundamental, grokking point of that revolutionizes your understanding of the art by meditation on it is missing for me. Maybe you have to discover it on your own, maybe it can't be taught, but nonetheless, while my directing class is fun and I wouldn't really trade it for another drama class, I do wonder what would've happened if I had just taken Dramaturgy to begin with.

Second, I've been listening to the musical version of Beauty and the Beast, and - like my Christmas version of Twelfth Night - I've become obsessed with doing a reinterpretation of the musical away from its Disney roots and more towards a fairy-tale, gothic (but not in the White Wolf sense), folklore-y route. Mostly revolving around rose petals. Rose petals and flash lights (excuse me, "torches"). And at the end with the transformation the entire set collapses. That's how I'm envisioning it anyway.

I completed an impulse exercise from The Playwright's Guidebook by Stuart Spencer and turned it into a 16 page short play. And one about which I am fairly pleased. So I'm shelfing it for a few days and I'll come back to it and see what needs editing, which is probably a lot. Also, I want to try writing a scene, or short play, or theatrical script of some kind, dedicated to my son. I don't have a son. I may not ever have a sun. But that's why I want to dedicate it to him.

I need a tear-jerker tonight, I'm really in the mood for some serious catharsis. I think I'll watch Shakespeare in Love for the umpteenth time.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

A Dream Post

So I woke up at 8 today, realized I had a few hours before Church, and went back to sleep. I promptly had the strangest dream. This is just a few pieces I can remember with some kind of logic throwing it together.

I was first involved in some kind of traveling play or something, I think Much Ado About Nothing, because we had to work on a dance at the end and I was saying how I might be able to remember the steps from the first time I'd done the show. Other actors included the guy who plays Warrick, from CSI, Ken Worrall, and a couple of girls that could have been many of the short, quirky, ephemeral girls I know but I couldn't quite put a finger on.

Anyway, after talking for a bit, a girl leads me away to go play a new video game she has, or something. In this game, Yoshi and Mario are on a train that is crossing a continent, and every time it stops there are X number of missions to accomplish before the train leaves again. And for some reason the enemies started going from outlaws to zombies.

The train eventually arrived in a big city, and Yoshi and Mario walked in the gate to see a newly constructed building just down the road in the town square - I can't remember which one it was but it had a title, was significant, and only about 2 stories high. There was a man running on top of it, and it turned out he was running towards the edge. He jumped, fell, and landed on the sidewalk. And not only did I watch the whole thing but I heard the thump. Then he started screaming as he was still alive and a bunch of doctors and paramedics ran over to help him.

Somehow we ended up in an old church in the city, and also this had zombies in it, so you had to be careful of where you went. It also had secret passages that we snuck through, and large chunks of history behind Yoshi. The church, it seemed, had served as a military school where Yoshi's grandmother had trained, disguised as a boy. It got to the point where we'd see reenactments of history like they were flashbacks, and all of them had a meaningful tone to them. For instance, Mario, who had really just reverted to the girl who was playing him at this point, found a letter from this elder yoshi, and in an abstract sculpture of swords the figure appeared, reading the letter, deciding to take a katana broken along the edge from the sculpture for her final exam before she was let out into the field. Then, a group of people rushed in, also part of the flashback, that we had met before. They were part of the do-good, badass, outlaw team on the train, and General (something, I can't remember his name) was leading them. He had burst into another part of the room, and noticed on a large rack of guns that one was missing. He had some sort of frightened exclamation, probably something like "he's got it!" cocked his rifle, and began moving his team around hurriedly. A huge wind blew by and all the curtains flew around, and the girl who played Mario said, "it's a powerful ghost we're dealing with." For some reason the missing gun was understood to belong to the group's enemy, and we were seeing a flashback of how he got it. Or something.

Then the girl playing Mario was panicked because she didn't want to just dodge the zombies anymore, she wanted to get them out of the church. So, despite Yoshi trying to hold her back, she ran into a room and placed a grenade there. It got very first-person-shooter/Medal of Honor/Saving Private Ryan at this point. She placed the grenade and we turned and ran, and it exploded, but we had a fast-moving zombie/undead on our tail. I yelled at her for attracting his attention, and I kicked myself for not having played Suzie Six-Shooters, a character I made from Changeling: The Dreaming that was designed to fight undead, since she can make things (like zombies) catch on fire, and undead tend to be afraid of fire. So, I decided that in order to survive that Yoshi just had this ability from Changeling, Pyretics, and in my head I rolled three ten sided dice. I didn't care what they came up, cause I was running from the zombie, and so I just said they were three tens, which is six successes the way I play, and the zombie caught on fire. "Undead are afraid of fire?" the girl remarked. "YES." I said, bitingly.

Then I realized I should probably wake up, and I did. Quickly I checked my cell phone, and it was 11:48. Church had started at 11, and was probably almost over by now. So, was I trying to frighten myself into getting up in time with this dream?

Any thoughts about the dream feel free to post them.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Mind 3? Time2? Roll Arete

Hey chillybeans-

I'm reminiscing about Mage, in particular Kenyon Mage. I found the file on my computer called "Mage Soundtrack." So I figured while I couldn't really upload the songs (I lack Correspondence), so I figured I'd rework it (some of the songs don't really fit) and write the new version down for y'all:

First Breath After a Coma - Explosions in the Sky
Soul Meets Body - Deathcab for Cutie
Clocks - Coldplay
The Ascent of Stan - Ben Folds [For the Kenyon Magers: Get it? Get it?]
Shades of Grey - Billy Joel
Don't Stop Believing - Journey
We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
Hallelujah - Cover by Jeff Buckley
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
Two Thousand Years - Billy Joel

With the following bonus tracks:
Desperado - The Eagles
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service

And, as a general list, England has made me long for the following games:
In Nomine
Mage: The Ascension
Changeling: The Dreaming

And, since I'm longing for games, now, I want to write essays about rpging. But this will come later.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Of course, of course

I just rode a horse today! And it was so cool!

A) Horses are really big.
B) Horses, except for Black Beauty and Mr. Ed, are either cold and joyless creatures, or they're so reserved that they can be easily mistaken for cold and joyless creatures.

We simply got on a couple of them and the trainers walked them around and we practiced making them go, and stop, and turn, and my horse's name was Ginger but he was a guy. SO, the point was that I kind of think of myself as an animal guy, and Ginger just wasn't up for the whole caring-about-me thing, she pulled at the reins too before I even knew how much I was supposed to give. But the trainer guy, he had sugar cubes, so she LOVED him. I mean he, cause Ginger's a guy. Maybe that's why this horse is cold and joyless, because he's named Ginger. I mean, gee. Did it ever occur to anyone that he might want to be named some more masculine sounding color, like Auburn or Burnt Orange?

Anyway, I got off the horse when we were done and my conversation with the trainer consisted of:
" work here?"

It was awkward.

So awkward horse, awkward trainer, but after 10 pounds and half an hour, I now know as much about riding a horse as I do about driving a car.