Saturday, August 30, 2008

folding chair drunk-fight

I love when the fight choreographer shows up to rehearsal. "Ten Cent Night" has some physical comedy that requires expert coaching so the actors can perform the rough-housing consistently and safely. One thing that needed some fight choreography is a drunk-fight between an actor and the folding chair to which she is handcuffed. Our fight director had never encountered this sort of fight before (human vs. folding furniture), so he had to do some test runs on himself to see how to do it safely. What has to happen is the actor has to fall off the chair from sitting position, and drag the chair down on top of her as she slips out of it. The concrete rehearsal room floor was a challenge: premature chair leg slippage that makes the fall harder to control. I tried the stunt a couple times myself (I like to empathize with actors when I make them do strange shit). It's scary the first couple times you do it until you figure out how to control your fall. It'll be different on the wood stage floor. Then, when it gets to the chair-fight, actor Anna has to keep a hold on the chair with her cuffed hand so she doesn't jar her wrist on the cuffs. Handcuffs hurt, man. They're not designed for comfort.

When I wrote this scene, I bought a pair of toy handcuffs at Walgreen's and handcuffed myself to a folding chair to figure out how to write it. I bashed the cheap metal of the toy handcuffs so badly that I couldn't get out of them. I hauled a folding chair around my apartment looking for a flat-head screwdriver to pry up the bent metal, wondering how I was going to explain myself if I had to call somebody for help. Don't expect quality cuffs for $3.99 at Walgreens.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

rob paravonian's pachelbel rant

Friday, August 22, 2008

this week kicked my ass

All nighter. Another one. For reals. I rewrote the final scene of Ten Cent Night last night because its original incarnation was a clusterfuck. This is my largest cast play (7 actors, no doubling of characters) and I'm juggling a few different story lines that intersect throughout the play, but must converge in the final scene. If you don't stick it right, Olympic-style, it's just, like, points off from the German judge. The audience will kick you in the face if you screw up the ending. Endings have to be good. No pressure or anything.

At 4 a.m. last night/this morning, my apartment mouse made an appearance. I had been numbed into silent non-movement as my laptop sat on my stomach, irradiating my internal woman parts. The mouse scooted along the baseboards in my living room and I was so tired I thought I was hallucinating -- but no -- mouse. Mouse! I know you're still there, mouse. I have another mousetrap for you, mouse. FYI.

I e-mailed my rewrites at 5:09 a.m. this morning. Slept an hour. Typical. If I've had a productive night writing (it was productive) my brain continues spinning after I've submitted to the bed. Went to an 11:00 a.m. rehearsal at Chicago Dramatists, delayed slightly by a GIANT HOLE in Ashalnd Ave near Fullerton, and scene 10, completed 6 hours previous, was given preliminary blocking/rehearsal and -- you know what? -- I HAVE TO REWRITE HALF THE FUCKING REWRITE. WHAT THE FUCK. FUCK. (Wegrzyn throws chair at baseboard where she saw apartment mouse earlier in the day). I love actors, but they're so "detail oriented." They bring up "good points" like "how does my character know that information if she was never onstage to hear it." Godammit, you actors. Always making sense. Stop it. You're making my job difficult.

Common occurrence at today's rehearsal:

(director explains a certain complication in the story plotting)
Director: But that should be simple to fix.
Me: THEN YOU WRITE IT!
Director: I understand, you're tired.

I'm going to celebrate one success this week. I wrote my very first funny line about foot-blister pus. Throw confetti now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

drunk history - vol 3

Annie alerted me to the new Drunk History up on the YouTubernets!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1st rehearsal

First read/rehearsal of Ten Cent Night at Chicago Dramatists tonight. I've been pulling semi-all-nighters the past couple nights to get rewrites done (semi-all-nighter = work until 4 a.m. and then sleep til 11 a.m.; a full all-nighter = no sleep and then carrying on with the day). I used to think I worked well in the last minute panic, but now I think I just freak out like a screaming, arms-flailing Muppet, and then I end up microwaving Bagel Bites at 3 a.m. and watching an Olympics vaulting competition because I feel burned out; I'd rather feel bad for tiny women who do flips over things and then land on their knees out of bounds than think about my writing.

While an all-nighter can be a gratifying accomplishment, it is ungratifying to pull an all-nighter and not finish what I needed to finish. It's actually, like, incredibly depressing. Because not only am I not finished, I am fuck-all tired for the rest of the day. And while the two cans of Red Bull seemed like a good idea at 9pm the night before, I suffer from energy drink hangover. My eyeballs feel weird and my nerves feel like they were stretched tight and snapped like elastic.

Other than that, it's going well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

election day for ten bucks

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Theatre Seven is giving our friends a super special cheap bastard ticket deal for our production Election Day. Ten dollar tickets. Ten. $10. I know!!! Call the box office at 773-853-3158 to make a reservation. Here's some voter testimonial for why you should Vote Clark this Election Day. I make a cameo. Yes, that's my scooter.

more netflix

Some additional comments from the Facebook phone lines regarding the power that Netflix has to make us feel like failures in life.

Chris:
I always feel bad if I watch the first half of something, and then it just isn't catching my attention, so I "watch" the rest of it while doing something else. Oh well.

Tif:
You know what makes me feel like a netflix failure? sealing and sending off one of my own personal "the office" dvds and never getting it back.

And Emily tried to make me feel better about myself:
La Vie En Rose is in the 'watch now' section of netflix online...or at least it was right before the oscars... Feel bad no more i say. For you can watch at any time!
I love the Netflix. Sure, it has its occasional problems, like cracked/scratched discs or long waits on brand new releases. My main complaint with Netflix is actually a manifestation of my own psychological problems. I'm not good at predicting what I think will make me happy in the future or, at the very least, satisfied I spent 2 hours watching a stupid movie. I project right now into my queue, and when I have a fit of nostalgia for a movie (Bugsy Malone), I throw it in my queue. And then months later, that movie arrives and I'm over it. I have to be more vigilant about adding impulse adds to the top of the queue.

And then, there was Mark's observation that movies come as an obligation. This happens to me with classic movies I need to watch so I get pop culture references. I just got There Will Be Blood so I can finally understand what that "I drink your milkshake" is all about.

There's also the flip side to the problem. Getting a movie I wasn't too jazzed about having to watch, and then loving it so hard it hurts (Twin Falls Idaho). But, mostly, I use Netflix to binge watch critically acclaimed TV series on DVD.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

You know what makes me feel like a failure? Returning a Netflix DVD without having watched it. "La Vie En Rose," you've been sitting on my TV for two weeks and season 5 of The Wire was released today. Je suis désolé.

Monday, August 11, 2008

photo 30: backpacks

It looks like I'm doing my impression of the homeless dude I saw pee on the wall at a Starbucks in Edgewater, but no, we are just showing off our matching backpacks after opening night of Election Day. Tracey K rocks it catalogue-style with initials stitched on her bag; my bag is anonymous. Nothing screams "sexy" louder than an L.L. Bean backpack. The opening night party rolled out to the back patio at Happy Village, but I had to split early to get some work done. By 4 a.m., I couldn't sleep and watched the end of The Haunting on WGN. Cool special effects, lame-brain everything else. I should read the book.

Hey. 30 photos in 30 (almost) days. Photoblogging mission accomplished.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

photo 29: rewriting process

Normally I wouldn't agree to a playwriting collaboration with a large body of water, but here's how this is gonna work: I will throw my script into Lake Michigan, and whatever pages wash up on Foster Avenue Beach will remain in the play. Don't let me down, nature.

Friday, August 08, 2008

photo 28: ghost bennigan's

Bennigan's at 225 N Michigan Ave. The place settings remain on the tables: ketchup, mustard, rolled utensils, salt & pepper, drink menu. The neon beer signs are illuminated. Do I smell mozzarella sticks? No, no, shake it off, Marisa. Just my imagination. Bennigan's wheezed and coughed its last Monte Cristo on July 28, 2008 and then flatlined to that great franchise in the sky. Somebody forgot to tell this puppy dog Bennigan's that the bank took the house, and the owners drove away to cook cans of beans over a garbage can fire in hobo shantytown; yet, here it sits, tail wagging, on posh Michigan Ave waiting for the lunch crowd.

The Wegrzyn family frequented the Bennigan's in downtown Evanston on Sherman Ave (it was replaced by a fancier, more expensive Pete Miller's a long time ago). My sisters and I delighted in the variety of cheeses that Bennigan's offered (grilled or fried), the Ms Pac Man game by the bar, and the CLAW MACHINE (see photo). Every Bennigan's had an allowance-raping claw machine. And the claw didn't even work. It had claw machine Parkinson's. There was no way I was going to win that Casio calculator watch. No. Fucking. Way. But every time we went to Bennigan's, I plunked quarters into the claw machine. That's the thing about being five years old. You're really stupid, and you can't help yourself. No -- wait -- it's not stupidity. It's that bastarding irk, hope. You hope, yes, next time, the quivering claw will clamp the coveted prize. You wanna teach your kid the value of a quarter, you took 'em to the Bennigan's school of hard knocks.

I am and will always be (for the franchised, non-closed Bennigan's) a fan of the buffalo chicken sandwich*. The week before this Bennigan's shuttered, I almost ate there. Almost is never enough. Gonna write that on a slip of paper and toss it into my shoebox of regret. Sure, Bennigan's was a corporate whore, but it was a corporate whore that meant so much to me.

* I have considered writing a spin-off culinary blog dedicated to restaurants serving buffalo chicken sandwiches, similar to the blog dedicated to pancake houses in Illinois.


Bonus:

Security cam video of a kid climbing into a claw machine.


http://view.break.com/536276 - Watch more free videos

Thursday, August 07, 2008

photo 27: classy finger 'stache


ingredients for instant fun at the office:
  • One black ballpoint pen
  • One index finger (preferably your own)
Instructions:
step 1: draw mustache on finger
step 2: place finger under nose
step 3: there is no step 3

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

photo 26: mini me

I was freaking adorable.

All downhill from here, folks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

if today had been a person...

I would have roundhouse kicked him in the face at 3pm and called it a day.

photo 25: gimme shelter

Hey, anybody need a broken air conditioner? Stormin' weather, tornado sirens, the whole lot on Monday evening. I met a couple of my neighbors for the first time, all of us hanging out in the basement so we wouldn't die. We talked about the guy who owns the liquor store across the street and how he seems so unhappy and can't manage to keep the snack food well-stocked; how he told one of them he doesn't make any money, even though we all claimed to spending half our paychecks there. The power went out. The basement isn't nearly as creepy when you can't see how creepy it is. The worst of the weather passed and we returned to our apartments, never to see each other ever again. The only candles I had were scented Yankee candles. I tried to do some work by candlelight, you know, the way it was in olde-timey times, but I got a headache from the scented candles. Olde timey people probably didn't work by spring scented Yankee candles.

I might have some thoughts about the Steppenwolf panel. I did the First Look Rep marathon and saw all three plays on Sunday. Good work to be seen. Between casting for "Ten Cent Night" at Chicago Dramatists, the First Look Rep, and running from the weather, I am wiped the hell out. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

photo 24: "hey marisa, how are rewrites going?"

In other news, I cleaned my kitchen table.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

photo 23: sears mannequins

The Andrew McCarthy romantic comedy Mannequin would have been a lot scarier if the mannequin who came to life had no head.

When I was wee little, I would say hello and wave to the mannequins in the JCPenney department store. I'm not sure if this behavior ever concerned my parents, but it was probably the first sign that I would continue talking to imaginary people as a playwright.

Friday, August 01, 2008

dear dan. thanks for your letter.

Dan owed $10.

photo 22: shower curtain

I bought my poker chip shower curtain on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $5.99, marked down from $19.99. It was the day I moved into my apartment, and I had no curtain to contain the cleansing spray. A shower curtain is an intimate thing, you know? It sees you naked. In the bitter cold winter months, it wraps you in steamy sauna warmth. If you need to dispose of a body and don't want to mess your car's trunk: your shower curtain is there for you. But it's important to discuss the power of your shower curtain for reasons other than to keep shower water in check. I am a convert to the clear shower curtain revolution. There are only two reasons to own a solid-colored, non-see-through curtain.

1. You have a roommate who, for some reason, needs to traipse in and out of the bathroom while you are showering. Maybe you found this roommate off Craigslist and maybe he/she is a pervert.

2. You prefer to feel enclosed, trapped, and suffocated in your showering environment. You are weird.
A clear shower curtain -- or curtain with clear as its base non-color -- will make your bathroom feel more open, less partitioned. If you don't have a light directly over your bathtub, it's all the more reason to go clear; don't you want to see the turquoise body wash you're squirting on that pink loofah sponge? Clawfoot bathtubbers take note: a clear curtain will not hide your antique treasure.

Do I have regrets about buying a a clear curtain printed with poker chips from fake casinos? I'm going to be totally honest: I would have bought it full price.