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Tonight was our first dress rehearsal for "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," and it was a total, incomprehensible disaster. There are two reasons for this: as an ensemble, we had only four rehearsals up until now, and precious few rehearsals in between; and the musical director/pianist – a lovely woman who is trying very, very hard – is simply not up to the challenge. The piano often sounds like a cat walking across the keys. The situation would be laughable if we weren't performing in front of an audience paying good money to see something worthwhile. Someone say a Novena.
The entire cast of "I Love You… Now Change" attended tonight's final rehearsal with a good deal of trepidation, but I am pleased to announce the show has been upgraded from "debacle" to "mediocre." If I do say so myself, we are a strong, versatile cast who is graciously, magnificently, rising above the situation as best we can. Kathleen, one of the cast members who is exceedingly gifted and startling beautiful, advised me this evening to "be confident in your enormous talent and just go for it." She just melted this gay guy's heart, and turned everything around for me.
Our first performance of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is officially under our belts. Whew. Actually, it went surprisingly well (even though the pianist massacred the opening of Act II), and the audience – laughing and applauding like fiends – had a swell time, which is the most important thing. For the first time I actually had a bit of fun with the show, especially in "The Highway of Love" number, which is performed by four of us and is staged in rolling chairs… it literally stopped the show. It was an adrenaline-loaded, heart-stopping evening.
Three more performances to go.
The quiet at the end of a performance. It's decidedly odd. After nearly two hours of vocalizing, of sharp, adrenaline-pumped focus and movement, bows and kudos held in relatively scant moments, and then laughing in the dressing rooms with your fellow performers about what went wrong or someone's surprising moment, erasing makeup and readying to go home, or out, or to a cast party. And then entering backstage, or onstage, to retrieve a forgotten item, into the same space, only moments earlier raw, alive, yet empty now, sans the electricity… its peace is disorienting, fractured, vacuous, its silence jarringly profound.
My taste in men is varied and eclectic. I think Harry Smith (formerly of A&E's
and now one of the several hosts on CBS's
The Early Show
) is one of the sexiest men on television. Ten years ago I never believed I would be attracted to bald or balding men, but now they drive me to distraction. Intentionally shaved or by nature's hand, it makes no nevermind to me. If I had to choose between David Duchovny or Mitch Pileggi on
, it would be Mitch hands down. And Bruce Willis looks SOOO much better without a hairpiece!
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" received a great review in the local paper, and my performance was singled out!
"Amid a strong ensemble cast lies a stand-out performance given by [Twillhead]. Whether portraying a testosterone-challenged date frantically attempting to avoid sobbing during a sad movie (he fails, spectacularly), or a beleaguered husband/father at battling odds with his family on a road trip, [Twillhead] shines. [His] graveled-voice depiction of a sweet elderly Jewish letch who hits on a widow at a funeral parlor is at once hilarious and heartbreaking, and by itself worth the price of admission."
Another review of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" made mention of Kathy's inability to play the piano. Unfortunately it's an accurate observation. The critic said that because she was so distracted by the pianist's lack of skills, she was unable to enjoy most of the performance. She added that the actors deserved Purple Hearts for weathering such accompaniment, and stated we were the strongest ensemble she has seen in many years. I was relieved not to be singled out in this review, because that is indeed what we are – an ensemble. There are no "stars" in this show.
I just arrived home from our pick-up rehearsal for the show. Two more performances and we're done (although I'm hearing rumors the director wants to enter this show into EMACT competition next May). It's a brilliant moonlit night, serene and still. When I left the apartment, nearly two dozen stinkbugs had attached themselves to the outside screen of my living room window, lumbering lazily back and forth. Several have managed to gain entrance. These brown, twig-like insects are supposed to be pests, but I enjoy them – they seem downright friendly. Just like their cousin, the hummingbird hawkmoth. A fabulous insect!
I'm too tired to write tonight. Here's my checklist for the show (fascinatin', ain't it?):
- White shirt
- 2 casual shirts (for "Single Gal" and "Highway of Love")
- Suit coat and pants
- Red cummerbund
- Blue jeans
- Old fogy pants
- "Pizza Guys" Red T-shirt and cap
- Dress shoes, white sneakers, green sneakers, deck shoes
- Trench coat
- Old fogy vest, bowtie, and glasses
- Palm pilot
- Car keys
- White shoe polish for hair
- Baseball cap
Another performance of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" under our belts, with one more to go – then life goes back to normal. It's sad to say, but I'm looking forward to putting this baby out to pasture and not having to think about it anymore. I never used to be that way. I guess I enjoyed performing more when David was still alive. My passion for bedecking the boards isn't what it used to be. I loved coming home after a performance with David, tired and happy, proud of our accomplishments and looking forward to the next show.
It's amazing how the sense of smell can ignite powerful memories. For instance, today is Saturday, but it feels like Sunday to me. Why? Because my Mom is downstairs preparing her incredible spaghetti sauce and its fragrance fills the entire house. When we were kids, my Mom would start her sauce on Sunday morning and let it simmer on the stove all day long. Then she would refrigerate it and we would have it over pasta on Wednesday. Sadly, my Mom rarely makes her sauce anymore, but today, she's apparently in the mood. And thus it feels, perfectly, like Sunday.
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" is now but a memory. Last night's performance was undoubtedly our best, running smooth as glass in front of a large, wildly appreciative audience. During the bows we received our only standing O during the run. And despite all of my kvetching bullshit regarding the show, today I'm feeling the inevitable let down that generally follows. I am going to miss seeing everyone. Doing a show is like going to another planet for several weeks, the experience shared with an intense, pulsating "family." Restoration of the routine is comfortable and safe and depressing.
I received a startling phone call last night. The gentleman on the telephone had caught my performance in "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," and wondered if I would be willing to audition for the role of George in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," a production he will be directing in the spring. I was – grossly understated – astonished. How this man could see me in a fluff piece like "I Love You…" and then envision me transplanted into such a complex, complicated role is bewildering, unnerving. Flustered, I stammered a "we'll see." Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
I saw the film "Dreamcatcher" today. I admit to being a pussy, so bear with me when I say that it was at once nightmare-inducing and – the non-pussy part of me – incredibly silly. Still, it expertly demonstrates what Stephen King does best… creating characters we care about. Cinematically King can claim a small share. It is the actors who do most of the work. Damian Lewis' performance was sometimes awesome, sometimes cheesy, but I fell in love with the character "Jonesy," due in part to Lewis' acting, but, a fetish for me, his red-headed hunkiness and matching beard certainly helped!
High winds in New York have been cited as a possible cause for today's tragic Staten Island Ferry accident. It's been windy in Massachusetts as well, scarifyingly so. This is what I call "Auntie Em!! Uncle Henry!! It's A Twister!! It's A Twister!! Toto!! Toto!!" weather. I usually enjoy the play of a brisk breeze around my face, but I went outside to put out the garbage and got pelted by a hail of acorns and leaves and small branches for my trouble. At one point a gust caught me full in the face and actually took my breath away.
I am finding more stinkbugs casually roaming around my apartment than I can count. God knows how they get in, but they manage it somehow, and I spend a good chunk of time each day gently gathering them up into my hand and replacing them back into their natural habitat. I admit to feeling guilty about one I put out last night. It seemed more sluggish than usual, and I feared it might have been inside for days, but when I opened the window and placed it out, it spun crazily from my hand, caught within the ferocious, rapacious winds…
Things I Haven't Done Yet.
Visit the Great Wall of China. Make love with a Scotsman in full possession of a throaty, Highland brogue. Eat haggis (those two may be intertwined). Go on a cruise. Perform the role of Lady Bracknell. Be interviewed on NPR by Scott Simon (probably one for the next list).
Things I'll Probably Never Do (Sigh).
Scuba dive (my eardrums would explode). Be an astronaut (ibid). Sing to a full house at Carnegie Hall. Make People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list. Get spanked by Christopher Meloni. Win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Give birth. Lactate.
Saw the film
today. It is if nothing else visually stunning, with a jaw-dropping 3.5 minute opening sequence that made me sorry I didn't see it in the theatre. I liked the premise of mixing science with faith (read: NOT religion) and coming up with an interesting juxtaposition of the two. But I thought Jodie Foster's performance wasn't as centered as usual, and Matthew McConaughey was too hunky to be believable (although you won't find me holding that against him). John Hurt as the obscenely rich benefactor who communicates with Foster's character from Mir space station was hilariously silly.
A no doubt meant-to-be-kindly 100Words reader felt it necessary to e-mail me saying she thought my words were often wonderful, but that "the David motif is overdone."
Quotes. Her words.
The "David Motif" hasn't been fully realized in my writing, not as far as I am concerned. I have yet to fully articulate, to accurately enunciate, the way some unfortunate people like my beloved David die.
Slowly. Exhaustively. Expensively. Unattractively. Basely.
Deaths that become stories, sermons. Changing adult diapers and dealing with bedsores. Kissing a flaking, parched mouth. Loving "The Motif" within. Caring for the ravaged "Motif" without.
There is a wonderful, poignant moment not quite half way through
The Wind in the Willows
where Mole becomes suddenly aware that he and his companion Rat are in the vicinity of Mole's old and forgotten home, and Mole is overcome with rushing nostalgia and remorse at having abandoned his sweet little dwelling place; that is what I am feeling this evening, that same persistent tug of something vestigial and yet still quietly alive inside me, a place I loved and often dreamt of in the form of a cozy cottage in a flowered meadow – I want to go back.
We are now deep into a hard-won autumn: crisp clean air and bright blue skies; smoking chimneys; trees that still bear foliage ablaze; leaves o' plenty on the ground; rushing headlong at breakneck speed towards winter. Although winter's official start date is December 21, we experience the symptoms long before then. Talk is we might see our first bit of snow on Thursday. Oddly enough, our first snowfall last year also occurred on October 23rd – I know, having documented the event in my 100Words for October 2002. And I repeat my sentiment: "Autumn in New England, thy name is ‘short.'"
I have been watching the new series
on HBO. The opening credits are wonderful; the show itself is earnestly acted but only mildly entertaining, weird like
but not nearly as addictive. I'm drawn back to it by its young star, actor Nick Stahl, all stubble and dust and wide-eyed cynicism. He is mesmerizing. God, they just keep getting younger and younger, the guys I'm attracted to. Stahl is only 23 or 24 years old. Robbin' the cradle, I am. Dirty old man. Next thing you know I'll be cruising Family Planning clinics, checking out the aborted fetuses.
How did I arrive here? Should I follow this path, or wait with abject hope for it to adjust? There must be something along this road that moves, that breathes, that signals a light. I don't require it to sing or to be pretty or to be even friendly. It can be worn at the edges, sensorially debased, a ragged, molested truth, as long as it EXISTS. In this cold, this sinking, searing cold, this numbing darkness, shaved clean of light, there must be SOMETHING. Alive. Coherent. Contained within a sensibility I can translate, even if incompletely. All accents welcome.
My boyfriend Charlie Sheen and I arrived at Jesse Helms' Annual Halloween Costume Ball dressed as Batman and Robin, respectively, Charlie filling out his tights a little too exquisitely for my comfort. Jesse himself answered the door, in a Glinda the Good ensemble, complete with the voluminous hoopskirt, fairy crown, and star-topped wand. "Don't you two look
!" Jesse gushed extravagantly, kissing me sloppily on the mouth, his breath reeking of Booker's. Then, turning towards Charlie, he dropped suddenly, heavily, upon his ancient knees and actually tongued Charlie's crotch. Arising swiftly, he chirped happily, "How
to see you both!"
Jesse's Ball Two.
Jesse, strategically placing himself in between Charlie and me, escorted us into the ballroom. Pat Robertson, unimaginatively costumed as his drag alter ego, Muff O'Plenty, swiftly came forward and offered Charlie a cocktail, adding lecherously, "That's quite a ‘cock-tail' you have going for you tonight!" Then with great deliberateness of purpose he checked out Charlie's front and voluptuous, flaring rear. Next to come a'droolin' was Jerry Falwell dressed as Madonna, all fishnet and cones. Charlie was soon surrounded by a group of gaggling girlfriends (including Bill O'Reilly and Mel Gibson), while I was shunted to the sidelines.
Jesse's Ball Three
While Charlie contended with being groped by a bunch of libidinous old queens, I wandered over to the buffet table, just in time to catch Matt Damon taking Ben Affleck up the rear ("Huh!" I mused, "I always imagined it was the other way around!"). As I noshed on salmon canapés – and observed Jodie Foster noshing on Beyoncé's boobs – I became aware of a heavily masked man in Cyrano garb watching me intently. Puzzled, I stared back, when the figure suddenly placed his hand over his heart. Instantly I realized Cyrano's actual identity – my ex-husband, Tom Cruise.
Jesse's Ball Four
My ex-husband Tom Cruise, realizing I had identified him, removed his mask and walked resolutely towards me, stepping over the prostrate forms of Charlton Heston and Donald Rumsfeld, who were making passionate love in the middle of the dance floor. "So you're here with Sheen," he remarked softly, barely audible over Charlie, who was now squealing like a pig. "Yes," I responded coolly, "we're very much in love," raising my voice slightly to be heard over Charlie's desperate cries for help. Tom looked stricken; I zoomed in for the kill. "Charlie's ten times the lover you were!"
Jesse's Ball Finale
Telling off Tom Cruise made me feel like Farrah Fawcett in
. Liberated, I began searching for Charlie, poor dear, who was at the bottom of a sort of wriggling pig pile. I plied the horny, decrepit faggots off him, smacking some for good measure, and helped my ravaged boyfriend to his feet. He was a sorry sight. His tights lay shredded around his ankles, exposing his lovely buttocks and heavily-slung manhood to the world. I calmed Charlie down, kissed him passionately in front of Tom, and we triumphantly left the ball, Charlie nekkid as a pin.
The Department of Labor, in a fit of bureaucratic febricity, programs a computer to select twenty names at random, out of thousands, who must then jump through hoops to ensure the continuance of their benefit checks be paid. Of course, my name is vomited out. I can't win the lottery, but I can get selected for this and jury duty eighteen times. So for six weeks I must attend reemployment seminars, keep written records of where I apply for employment, frequent the local career center, etc., or I will be summarily cut-off completely. Fine! So find me a job already!
It is Thursday mid-morning, bright and breezy and fair, but the usual sounds of birdsong have been silenced by the screeching of several fisher cats, sounding like a gang of agitated monkeys. Fisher cats are nocturnal animals, so to hear their banshee-like cries at this time of day is positively eerie and worrisome, and apparently not to me alone – the Animal Control van is parked next to our driveway. Three men with all manner of paraphernalia, including one equipped with what appeared to be an enormous Have-a-Heart trap, swept through the backyard and crept stealthily into the now quiet woods.
Happy Halloween. "Boo," I say, and "boo" again. Time to break out the Ouija Board and scare up David, Dad, Bob, Gramma Dodge, and everyone else with whom I have walked that has passed over to the Great Beyond. Ten years ago David, Dennis, Ted, David and I attended a Halloween séance at a historic building in Salem. About half of us heard voices and footsteps in some of the upstairs rooms, but we thought people were still working in the converted offices. It turns out we were the only ones in the building.
"Boo," I say, and "boo" again.
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