Freaking Out Squares

Monday, April 10, 2006

No Business Like It

Dad blast it, I really need to bite the bullet and get DSL. (I also need to get a Real Job, but let's not go there right now, shall we?) I was happily click-clacking away at the keyboard this morning when, sure enough, my trusty 56K connection froze, leaving me with no choice but to do the turn-the-computer-on-and-off thing Bill Gates commands you not to do, lest the computer explodes. (I'm not kidding--I actually believed, at one point, that if you turned the computer off without shutting it down properly, you'd lose everything on your hard drive and the computer would start spewing hot molten lava. Hyperbolic, but you get the idea. My first Real Job, after grad school, was in internet marketing, and one of the most valuable lessons I learned there that I apply in my present daily life was it's okay to turn the computer on and off. The computer will not explode. Stay calm. The humans shall prevail.)

As usual, I digress. We'll see how long my Stone Age connection holds up. But I really do need to get DSL. And a Real Job. And I should probably Spic 'n Span my kitchen floor, while I'm at it, since I haven't mopped the damn thing in two years. Oh, and I should read the Sunday New York Times more thoroughly, instead of just going straight for the magazine and the Arts section and doing the crossword puzzle. Oh, geez, she's embarking on yet another Quest for Self-Improvement. How original! (Yeah, well, tough shit, inner Frank Rich. There's a reason this show is playing off-off-off-Broadway, and there's no need for you to be a snot rag about it. So there!)

Ahem. Speaking of plays, and self-improvement, I'm working on two new pieces for my acting class. One is a monologue from a play called Miss Margarida's Way, by a Brazilian playwright named Roberto Athayde. The other is a scene from the play Fool for Love by Sam Shepard. The former, which Athayde has subtitled, "Tragicomic Monologue for an Impetuous Woman," is the kind of role I was famous (notorious?) for playing in high school, the libidinous, boobs-a-bouncin', brassy older woman with an evil streak. Luckily, I got off on that kind of performance, because every time we did a play that required a wacky old broad, it was, "Where's Karla? Get her ass out of marching band practice and into makeup!" It was fun, but it got real old after a while. There are limits to my tolerance, and while I was more than okay playing the wizened, brassy Bloody Mary in South Pacific (literally brassy! I'm not kidding--they painted me orange, because I was supposed to be Polynesian! Isn't that a bit racist? I mean, if we'd done Show Boat, which we would not have done, since there were only two guys in the drama department who could sing, would they have painted me black and given me red, fleshy lips to play Queenie the cook?), I was pretty fucking pissed off to be cast as Jan, as opposed to Rizzo, in Grease. (Jan is the one who, in the movie, does that whole "Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a" schtick at the slumber party.) We all adored our drama director, not least because of his propensity to work "fuck" and "shit" into every other sentence, but he was pretty damn rigid when it came to casting. Above all else, the show had to look right. If it said in the character descriptions at the beginning of the play that Rizzo was supposed to be thin, then Rizzo was gonna be thin, goddammit. Well, you're the boss, but...Adrienne Barbeau? Stockard Channing? Rosie O'Donnell? I seem to recall some extra flesh hanging off various parts of those ladies, and I don't think anyone was complaining. Oh, they complained that Rosie O'Donnell couldn't sing, but that's justified. Anyway, it was a shitty trip to lay on a sixteen-year-old girl, particularly an operatically self-loathing sixteen-year-old girl like me. I still haven't gotten over it. Part of my renewed mission to lose weight is because if I decide to go into acting, I don't want some casting director to pick my headshot out of a lineup and say, "Hey, she'd be great for the fat best friend! You know, the one who belts out that goofy number in the middle of Act One, and then she falls on her fat ass and shows her polka-dot bloomers, and then at the end of the show, she ends up with that funny-looking ranch hand with a heart of gold!" My acting chops are nowhere near Kathy Bates's or Tovah Feldshuh's, and even if they were, I don't think I'd be cast as Golda Meir at the ripe old age of twenty-nine. If someone out there wants to write a play about Golda Meir when she was twenty-nine, I promise I'll whip my acting chops into shape tout de suite.

As a quasi-adult, I much prefer working on roles that, while they can hardly described as neat, clean, and well-behaved, are not necessarily circus freaks. Hence my attraction to May in Fool for Love. The play centers around a dysfunctional couple (hey, wait, I think I've seen that one!) and their come-hither-go-to-hell dance in a desert motel room, where May has fled upon suspicion of Eddie's philandering. (MAY: Your fingers smell. EDDIE: Horses. MAY: Pussy.) Sigh. I love Sam Shepard. I get to say "pussy," May is not a circus freak, and in the closing salvo, I get to make out with Eddie while simultaneously kneeing him in the groin. Good times!

Oh, I neglected to mention that May and Eddie are half-brother and sister. If done well, as it was when I saw this play in a little hole-in-the-wall on the Upper West Side, it's somehow not creepy. The actress playing May had this odd little tick that kept my two fellow theatergoers and me in hysterics for months. At one point, perhaps halfway through the show, May's date, Martin, a local nice guy who earns a living watering the high school football field, comes to pick her up. May has the line, "Martin, I want to go to the movies. Let's go to the movies, Martin," which is written as a dig at Eddie. The actress took this line a bit too seriously, investing it with such vitriol that it came out, "Let's go to the MOU-veez." Guess you had to be there. My friends and I were grooving on it, though, and so for the next several months, every time we got together to go to the cinema, which was pretty much all we ever did besides drink, and/or inhale greasy Tex-Mex at Senor Swanky's, we'd say, "Let's go to the MOU-veez! I want to go to the MOU-veez!" We also had this weird little game called "Improvisational Mamet," which was about as lame as you'd expect, involving a lot of sentence fragments and incantations of "fuck" in all its many forms. No wonder actors get such a bad rap, and none of us were even in the biz! At least we didn't go around singing show tunes...oh, wait, we did. Well, one of us did, but I'm not saying who.

Anyone out there up for putting up a production of Streetcar? I wanted to play Stella, but my scene partner has played Stanley one too many times. Hmmm, maybe I'll produce it myself. That's what I'll do instead of getting a Real Job--I'll stage a site-specific production of Streetcar and cast myself as Stella. If anyone knows any rich backers, please direct them to me.
**** **** **** ****
Makin' It: I neglected to mention last week that one of the magazines I picked up was ReadyMade, which is a DIY-crafting mag aimed at urban hipsters. I am not a hipster, but it would seem that I share various hipster aethetic sensibilities, and I'm a sucker for any publication that teaches you how to make a very attractive table lamp out of film strips and that little metal spring you found in the gutter. The project currently on my table is the paper headboard, which is not a headboard at all, but a series of paper tiles tacked to your wall to form a complete image that pretends to be a headboard! Basically, one scans an image into one's computer--a bit tricky for me, since my scanner is part of my printer-slash-copier-slash-fax machine, and doesn't allow for a large book of David Hockney's works to be shoved into it--and, through the use of Adobe Photoshop, blows up the image, prints out the tiles, and tacks them on one's wall. It sounds doable, even for a confirmed Luddite like me. I'm trying to decide if I want to do a full-color blowup of Ganesha, that still from Streetcar with Marlon Brando unveiling his sweaty T-shirt whilst Vivien Leigh eyes him askance, or a picture of Angela Davis from back in the day. I thought about using that shot of Nixon getting on the plane doing the Victory sign, but I'm not exactly deluged with suitors, and I think that very well might send those few brave souls screaming into the night. So no dice. If anyone has any ideas, please send them my way, along with the rich backers.

And, it appears my Victorian era connection has held for the duration of this epic missive. Onwards!


Anonymous Marcia said...

Hehehehehe... love it. You basically made me laugh out loud in the library. Happy now?

2:35 PM

Blogger Karla said...

Happy? I don't know the meaning of the word. You know it's my destiny to be the King of Pain.

Thank you for posting your approval. I wish more people would follow your example. You are a true American!

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