Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 09 update on Soderbergh Doc.

At (interview with Soderbergh), it says:
Q: You’re rumored to have at least five other movies coming out. What’s next?
A: I’ve got a movie about Spalding Gray that I hope we’ll finish editing by the fall. “Moneyball,” based on the book about baseball executives, we’ll be shooting this summer. The Cleopatra project (a ’20s musical featuring Catherine Zeta-Jones and a soundtrack by Guided By Voices) will shoot next year, and so will the movie about Liberace (starring Michael Douglas).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Embracing the Mundane

Embracing the Mundane
aka Swimming to Mundane
aka Thinking like David Sedaris

The reason for the multiple titles is that I understand that David Sedaris edits his stories many, many times. Therefore, I would imagine that he has many possible titles. I do not like editing. And yet it does seem mundane so perhaps it is something to explore.
I only recently decided to embrace the mundane, mostly because I seem to do so many mundane things. I also started to finish reading Mr. Sedaris’s When Engulfed in Flames, which was significant in that I have not been reading since I had a stroke, as my one good eye now tires easily. However, this book I had to finish. While reading it, I realized that if I was to begin to think like him (note that all further him/hes will be in reference to David Sedaris), that would assist greatly in embracing the mundane.
To start with, I have an advantage. I tend to be obsessive/compulsive just as he appears to be. Up until now, I have channeled much of this in to specific activities, such as being the Webmaster for the Spalding Gray website (interestingly enough, Mr. Gray seemed quite obsessive compulsive himself). I remember as a child, when I was in the rec room (aka basement with rug and TV), my eyes would seek out shapes, usually squares, in the bookcase. Then my eyes would follow the shape around and around for long periods of time. I resisted doing this quite strongly at the time, but it continued. Why it ended is beyond me. Now, I wish that I could do it again as it is a common method of hypnosis. I’m not sure what self hypnosis would gain me, but am willing to find out.
Now what other characteristics would help me to think like him. He describes himself as both a snob (now due to staying in luxury hotels), but also admits to being kind hearted. I think I can eliminate the snob stuff. Remember that when he arrives at a book signing with hordes lining the block, he goes to the end of the line and begins to sign books. Does that sound like a snob to you?
And this laundry thing. He does all his own laundry while on tour in the hotel room sink. This surely is mundane. It is reported to be the most common reason for him being late. It would seem to help the line build up as well, assisting in his trick to begin at the end.
“Excuse me for being late. I was finishing my laundry. Now that it’s drying on the towel rack, I was wondering if you have a book you wish me to sign? My name is David Sedaris. Am I in the right line?” (not a real quote).
Now there are limits. I don’t intend to type everything on a manual typewriter. I don’t type that well, making word processing akin to a miracle. But typing as he does, only indicates more mundaneness.
So I’ve decided to practice this thinking like him for awhile and report back. So far, I’ve noticed a slight irritable edge which I want to monitor. So far, I think that’s because I’m reading about him quitting smoking. Mark Twain said it was easy as Mark Twain had quit a thousand times. Me I quit years ago and still had a stroke. Excuse me now while I find mundane things to do.
Report: Besides the afore mentioned edge which is perhaps not new and does not seem mundane – in fact, it interferes with mundaneness as I tend to stay that way and hence be less likely to be mundane. And a second besides was can a person with such a publicity program really be irritable? On the positive side, my oc tendency (existing yet mostly latent) of counting and doing things in 3s has come back. I am also less anxious upon waking up. I believe that saying ‘Om Mane Padma Hum’ 3 times upon arising helps.
Why ‘Om Mane Padma Hum’? (the six syllabled mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara. The Dalai Lama is said to be an incarnation of Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara – see for the Dalai Lama’s translation) I have no idea why as there are certainly other mantra that come to mind.
When I was living in a houseboat in Varanasi (Benares),India, I arrived at the beginning of a 108 day nonstop chant of ‘Shri Ram,Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’. I think we got a better deal on the boat (~$3 a month) because it was next to one of the large speakers set up along the river ghats for blaring broadcast. So I listened to that chant for 108daysx24hoursx60 minutesx60 seconds = 9,331,200 seconds. And yet I ever repeat it as a mantra.
Then a close confidant told me that this whole mundane thing was just mindfulness…
And then I heard that David Sedaris is coming to a book signing right here in Victoria BC (rumour being the lineup will start the night before). So I’ll continue to think like him and report back after meeting him. Om Mane Padma Hum, Om Mane Padma Hum, Om Mane Padma Hum…

Saturday, May 2, 2009

REVIEW - from CHOICE, the review arm of the American Library Association

REVIEW - from CHOICE, the review arm of the American Library Association

Humanities \ Performing Arts \ Theater & Dance
Demastes, William W. Spalding Gray's America. Limelight Editions, 2008. 270p bibl index; ISBN 9780879103606 pbk, $19.95. Reviewed in 2009may CHOICE. This first book-length study of the life and work of celebrated monologist Spalding Gray (1941-2004) is wonderful. Covering Gray's life from his early beginnings to his untimely death, Demastes (Louisiana State Univ.) delves into the major works of this most self-reflexive of performers with a deft hand. Although this is not a biography per se, it offers significant information about Gray's life and its intersection with his art: close readings of Gray's performances allow one to see how in exposing his personal triumphs and tragedies Gray exposed and analyzed America and Americans. In sum, in dissecting Gray as observer of events, as artist, and as performer--a fascinating approach to the performer--Demastes makes sense of how Gray's monologues worked and what made him original. Including a wonderful personal reflection on Gray by Richard Schechner, this volume provides theater scholars and practitioners with an invaluable introduction to Gray and his work. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. -- S. W. Cole, Bridgewater College

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