Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Never Let Me Go

Sunday night I watched Never Let Me Go, a movie that looked intriguing when it was in theaters in 2010 but I never had a chance to see until now. It affected me deeply, possibly more than any other movie I've seen this year. Maybe it's because of the introspective space I've been in lately.

First of all, it's a visually gorgeous film. It's one of those films that communicates so much in the quiet spaces, giving each significant moment its full attention. It reminded me of my original impressions of Lars and the Real Girl and of Shopgirl several years ago.

I love how the young actors so closely resemble their adult counterparts, not just physically, but in their mannerisms - especially Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby) and Isobel Meilkle-Small (Snow White and the Huntsman) who play the role of Kathy. Mulligan's performance is just outstanding and she's in practically every scene of the movie.

So the movie is about the preciousness of life and the truth of our mortality. It's also about real love and deep regret. It's basically the same message as Tammy's play we honored on Tuesday, "The Three of Us." Both reinforce one of my core beliefs, that love is love no matter how long we have together. No one has any control over how long we have on this earth. We have to be open to love because we may only have a few chances to find it, and any amount of time we have will be too short when we do.

I saw a lot of myself in the character of Kathy - highly sensitive, introverted, being very careful not to spoil the happiness of others. And maybe that means I miss opportunities to find love, although nothing specific comes to mind. But what I do know is that if we only wait for others to approach us, we may never find the person or persons we really want to be with. That's not to say I'm going to sign up for an OKCupid account - I still believe that love finds us, not the other way around. All I require of myself is to live an open and honest life. Whatever love manages to find me, I will welcome it with open arms.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A weekend to recharge

I've been pushing really hard this past week, so this weekend has been a welcome breather for me. Of course I've been working on the Unchained Love event, which went off as well as I could have hoped (see the playwright blog at www.olnyplay.blogspot.com for details). The only thing that got crossed up were the defective birthday candles that Piper valiantly tried to light but couldn't get them to ignite. Just goes to show that you never know how things can go wrong....but surprising Kacey with the cake was a memorable highlight for me.

The other significant thing about Tuesday was that my friend Jennifer from work showed up, the first time anyone from work has entered the queer/poly bubble I inhabit in the city. Of course Jennifer has met Puck a couple times, but she's never been to a poly event with me. But since Jennifer is my emergency contact - bridging the gap between my work and personal lives - it's probably a good thing that she sees a little of what I'm about. The look she gave me when she saw my new haircut was priceless! Since I'd had it for three days, I'd forgotten it was new, so I was wondering what the look was about at first.

So after my dinner with Ria, I had to work a few more hours until about 11:30 pm Wednesday night, and then I had extra work tossed on me Thursday afternoon that put me behind and meant I had to work until my last train on Thursday and then continue working at home until 1:30 am. I got permission to stay home Friday so I got up at 7:30 am and worked until 9:30 am before I turned that particular assignment in. Then I worked my usual workday from home Friday, and went out to see Liz's play, "Dutch Heart of Man" with Katie M and Andrea in the evening.

Katie and I had dinner at a Mexican cantina before the play, which was interesting and entertaining, but I didn't much care for the ending when it took a really dark turn. Afterward we went to Dublin, a bar and restaurant, for an opening night cast party. As a sponsor of Animus Theater company, I got two free drinks, so I got a Kopparberg Pear Cider and got Katie a Stella. I'm only making note because the pear cider was so good! We didn't stay too late since I was pretty tired from my week.

Saturday Kristina and I met up to try the ticket lottery for "Hedwig and the Angry Itch" but no luck. On our way to get a bite at Schnipper's Kitchen, we bumped into Kacey on 44th Street. She was with actress Diana Oh and another guy - they had been shooting photos. After Schnipper's we tried the lottery at Matilda but struck out again, so we returned to TSMC and watched the Miyazaki film From Up on Poppy Hill and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I'm rather sad that Kristina is going to be moving to Chicago in March, but I guess that's a long way away yet.

Today I've been doing a lot of walking around looking for a new pair of earphones or replacement tips for my old ones. I also went down to Chinatown for groceries and stopped at a Vietnamese bakery for a bahn mi and some shrimp chips. Then at my local grocery store, I bumped into Liz's friend Margueritte (one of the Fishkill apple picking gang), making it two days in a row that I've randomly encountered a friend on the street. Every time this happens, as rarely as it does, it always makes me feel a little more like this city is truly my home.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Songs of Annie Lennox

Feeling a bit exhausted today after suffering through allergies, working late on my CEO Report for the upcoming Board of Directors meeting, and then a lot of work on the Unchained Love Playwright Competition. I did a run of show for the event, and a press release announcing the directors and actors that I'll put out tomorrow. It's like having two jobs, but without the extra pay. But I'm excited about the event, and I think I might have a surprise or two up my sleeve as well. Either way, I'm definitely going to be relieved when it's all over.

So tonight I was thinking about how much Annie Lennox I've been listening to lately. A friend of mine posted the question on Facebook, "What the sexiest song you know?" Among all the more sexually explicit songs was this gem off the 1992 Diva album, "Money Can't Buy It." It is not only a sexy song, it's also a very sexy video, with a two-and-a-half minute opening without a single cut. It's such an incredibly intimate and challenging take.

Of course, my own addition to the list (along with the entire "Avalon" album from Roxy Music) was one of my favorites, an obscure single that I play for anyone I can get to sit still and listen, "Lovesong for a Vampire" from the soundtrack to Bram Stoker's Dracula. I actually found this song by buying her CD single of "Little Bird" (also from Diva) where it was included as a bonus. If you're listening to it on typical computer speakers, it might not sound like much, but if you have a monstrous, apartment-rattling subwoofer like mine, the "heartbeat" is breathtakingly intense. Plus, it's just a beautiful love song. The video is pretty awful though (unlike the last one) so I can't recommend watching it. Just listen.

I also heard today on my iPod one of her songs from the album "Songs of Mass Destruction" that Tara put on a mix once called "Dark Road." It's a more complex song, full of emotions, and the video mines every bit of it - as coolly intense as she is in "Money Can't Buy It" she's full of emotional fireworks here. It's heartbreaking and breathtaking at the same time.

Tying back to the Great American Songbook that is one of my favorite genres, Annie Lennox also did a cover of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" for to benefit AIDS/HIV awareness. The video was originally scheduled to have been directed by British director Derek Jarman but he became too unwell to direct at the time of shooting and so Ed Lachlan stepped in. The home movies shown on the screen are those of Derek Jarman as a child.

Finally, here's one of the songs that made it on to my Oscar winning songs sampler CD that I made for the Oscar party in March, the poignant and powerful "Into the West" from 2003's Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Has it really been 11 years since we saw the Grey Havens?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Theater, music and art

It's actually been a pretty busy string of days since my last post about pot roast night. I'll be brief because I just want to catch up but I don't have the energy to really go deep into stuff, although there are a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head.

Last Tuesday was the highly anticipated launch party for Emily Dawn's online artist collective, Whimsy. It was held in a beautiful Soho apartment large enough to hold about 60 people who attended. I ran into David on the street - we met at Kacey's bachelorette party - because we were both having trouble looking for the address. I met this guy named Robert, and of course the first question he asked me was "What do you do?" After my hackles went back down, I explained to him that that was not the question he wanted to lead with in a crowd like this, and I gave him some pointers on better questions to ask ("What are you passionate about?" How do you want to change the world?" etc.) We talked a bit about polyamory and I left him to fend for himself. He later found me and said my advice was really helpful in meeting people at the party, so I'm glad I was able to keep him from being labeled a toolbag.

There were several performances of music, drama, comedy and a pair of acro yoga practitioners (a flyer and a base) that reminded me of the contortionists in the movie Henry & June (1990), which always reminds me of Papacookie and the other artist collectives that I've been exposed to. You can see Illona in the yellow shirt and Becker behind her, and Joan seated in a white scarf in this video.

Wednesday Piper came over and we had soup dumplings and fried duck at John's Shanghai on 46th Street. We got to talking about horror movies, so we took a detour from our AFI marathon to watch Obsession (1976), a kind of disturbing Brian De Palma remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.

Friday night I met up with Liz for a late supper in Koreatown before we headed down to the Kraine for the New York Neofuturists performance of "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind," a Shotz-like performance of short plays where they try to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. It was an interesting concept and some of the plays were really well done ("Smoke and Mirrors" was a beautiful slow movement of lights being bounced off mirrors through smoke, and another one used smart phones with synchronized videos of each performer in an intricately choreographed display of small screens used together as a single unit.)

Saturday I saw Noah with Illona and we had lunch at Schnipper's. I discovered she is also one of those people who understands touch communications as I do, so it was nice making that connection. I made my eggplant dip and Puck came over so we could go to Rijard and Miriam's place for their performance party. There were vocal/instrumental performances by Emilie Lesbros (voice, guitar), Sean Ali (voice, bass) and Flin van Hemmen (voice, drums), and the end of the night all three combined for an improvisation. I enjoyed Emilie the most - she does amazing things with her voice, and is able to sing and chirp and click at the same time with absolute precision and control - I've never heard anything quite like it. She's going on a European tour for a few months, so I hope she has lots of success.

Sunday I did my laundry and then headed down to the LES to have an early supper with Puck's family before they drove us to Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a documentary shoot about our relationship, part of a series of couples talking about their relationships for an upcoming web site launch. Puck and I sat in front of cameras for an hour talking about our six years together. We drew questions from a pile of index cards to ask each other, such as "When do you feel closest to me?", "What things about me annoy you?" and "What are you afraid to talk with me about?" and our favorite, "Do you want to have children with me?" We both laughed at that one! Some of the tough questions were in red, and we told them to put those in as well. Eventually they had to stop us before we got through the entire deck because we'd run out of our allotted time. The filmmakers said that of the scores of couples they've interviewed for the project, we were the only ones who took up the whole hour, because many people didn't want to open up in front of the cameras, so they would either skip questions or answer them very succinctly. Apparently, there are lot of couples who don't like to be introspective as much as Puck and I do.

To take a little extra time together to debrief, we took the subway together down to Atlantic Avenue so they could get on the LIRR and I took the N track back up to get home. The whole experience was really quite affirming for both of us, and I think we each learned a little something new about each other's perspectives on past events. I think it will help us to be better frubbles with each other in the future.

Kristina and I ventured out in some nasty weather tonight for Shotz, where the theme was "Girls Just Wanna Have Shotz!" a feminist theme. Each play had to pass the Bechdel Test, something had to be destroyed, and the line was, "You don't get to tell me what to do!" The guest company was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Brooklyn, and the started the show by singing the Shotz theme by LMFAO in three-part harmony, which was hilarious! Then they did a skit where they played polygamous wives, which included going into the audience and slapping nametags that said #HARLOT on people (Kristina and I both got one) and singing a medley of pop songs. I think my favorite play was "Yurtle the Turtle" where a despondent woman calls the phone operator and tells her about a childhood trauma, which causes the operator to call her own childhood classmate and apologize for past hurts.