Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One of My Favorite Lines

[to Schumacher]
I have no choice but to dismiss you. It breaks my heart, but I can't expose my guests to your firearms. It may be wrong of them, but they value their lives.

The Horns of Dilemma Are Solid

My son informed me today of the following:

Horn is hard skin with no hollow inside.
Antler is solid bone that has a hollow inside.

"So there's no being confused of a horn and an antler."

[this guy was in our backyard]

Go On. President Bush on 9/11

5-Minute Video of George W. Bush on the Morning of 9/11[Link from The Memory Hole]

Q: What was the first thing that went through your head when you heard that a plane crashed into the first building?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, I was sitting in a schoolhouse in Florida. I had gone down to tell my little brother what to do, and -- just kidding, Jeb. (Laughter.) And -- it's the mother in me. (Laughter.) Anyway, I was in the midst of learning about a reading program that works. I'm a big believer in basic education, and it starts with making sure every child learns to read. And therefore, we need to focus on the science of reading, not what may feel good or sound good when it comes to teaching children to read. (Applause.) I'm just getting a plug in for my reading initiative.

Anyway, I was sitting there, and my Chief of Staff -- well, first of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake. And something was wrong with the plane, or -- anyway, I'm sitting there, listening to the briefing, and Andy Card came and said, "America is under attack."

And in the meantime, this teacher was going on about the curriculum, and I was thinking about what it meant for America to be under attack. It was an amazing thought. But I made up my mind that if America was under attack, we'd get them. (Applause.) I wasn't interested in lawyers, I wasn't interested in a bunch of debate. I was interested in finding out who did it and bringing them to justice. I also knew that they would try to hide, and anybody who provided haven, help, food, would be held accountable by the United States of America. (Applause.)

Anyway, it was an interesting day.

An Interesting Day: George Bush's Actions on 9/11 by Allan Wood and Paul Thompson [Link]

Check out Colonel Dax's Liberty Site.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

All Hail the Decider

Chances are you got spamed with this little number at one time or another. I'm posting it anyway 'cz I like it.

George W. Bush
The White House, USA



I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol.
I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt
shortly after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our right-wing friends in the oil industry (including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America. I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money. I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history. With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.

I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.
In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month. I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her (later changed due to the bad publicity it might raise). I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron. My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts. I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government. I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history. I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I set the record for fewest number of press conferences of any President since the advent of television. I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history. I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind. I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community. I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families -- in war time. In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq, then blamed the lies on our British friends. I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD. I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden tojustice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.


Thanks to GS!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Anne Braden

Anne Braden died on March 6 of this year. When I was in my twenties still living in Louisville, I was introduced to Anne when I worked briefly for an organization called the Kentucky Alliance. In 1954, Anne and her husband, Carl, were arrested for sedition after a home they purchased for an African American family in an all white suburb of Louisville was firebombed. They were charged with inciting civil unrest. Carl served 7 months of his 15 year prison term before the case was overturned. Anne was never brought to trial. The couple had been reporters for the Louisville Times, after their arrest they were unemployable and shunned by the community. They chose to stick it out and committed their lives to fighting for civil rights.

Read more here and here. Listen to a radio interview here or watch a video interview here.
Read Finding the Other America by Anne Braden.

The Wade House After It Was Firebombed

Friday, May 26, 2006

File Under Life Changing Event

You're in your home. A fairly secluded place. It's about 11pm. You hear rocks hitting your front window. You go outside to check it out. A guy puts a gun to your head and asks where you keep your expensive cars. You don't have any. He takes you inside and tapes you to a chair. Ties up your wife. Cue movie images now. Wife manages to get herself untied and calls the police. Relieves you from the chair. Police arrive. Helicopter and dog search begin shortly.

Modicum of Control

Piefurcation can admit when it has a problem. Absolutely. Gone a bit overboard on the YouTube this week ('kay make that the past two weeks). But how can it be helped? How! Just to prove I have a modicum of control, I'm going to confine my YouTube postings to Fridays. But if I find anything that Most Certainly Can't Wait, you betcha I'm hitting the publish post button. Right. Modicum of control. Modicum of control.

New blog to check out - Vinyl Edition.

How Lovely

Posted on YouTube by this person.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

James Randi Exposes Uri Geller, Peter Popoff, and the Myth of Psychic Surgery

Warning: the psychic surgery demo is a bit bloody.

About Last Night

So there was a robbery in our neighborhood last night. Hence the helicopter. There were also dogs out searching until around 1:00. My husband was finally able to get home going the back way (odd the police didn't think about that). A little after midnight, we started getting these automated messages telling us to stay inside and lock all our doors. Really makes you feel secure, huh? Then, at 1:30 we got another message saying that "apparently" the suspect had left the area (read, okay we didn't catch him, we've searched a long time folks, we're going home to bed). I mean, the search light was powerful, but there are a lot of places to hide, even from the dogs. But everyone here is all right, except for the neighbor who was robbed, of course.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One Hour In

The helicopter is still flying over the house and the canyon. The main road to my house is closed and the police are standing by. My husband can't get home and the officer he talked with won't comment. Guess we'll find out in the morning, eh?

Fly By

So get this. A helicopter has been flying over my house for about ten minutes now. For five minutes it was shining a high-powered search light, combing over the trees and the canyon between my house and the next. I came out of the house and watched for awhile and they eventually turned off the search light, but they are still circling my house. Should I be worried?

Thank You Jesus!

Excerpts from the documentary Marjoe. Marjoe Gortner was an evangelical preacher who decided to reveal his profession's tricks of the trade.

"You start with a guy who obviously has a problem," he explained. "You've got to begin on that premise. Things haven't worked out for him, or he's looking for something, or whatever. So he goes to one of these revivals. He hears very regimented things. He sees a lot of people glowing around him -- people who seem very, very happy -- and they're all inviting him to come in and join the clique and it looks great. They say, 'Hey, my life was changed!' or 'Hey, I found a new job!' That's when he's ready to get saved, or Born Again; and once he's saved, they all pat him on the back. It's like he's been admitted to this very special elite little club."
Check out the postive atheism site for more on Gortner.

Frontline Documentary: The Jesus Factor

Check out this Frontline report on how George Bush became a Christian.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Okay. Just One More.

Must be seen to be believed: our cretinous, illiterate, imbecilic, obtuse, phlegmatic, vacuous president incapable of answering a question. (found via Parabasis.)

GB: I'ma gonna call up the secretary and say you've brought up a valid question. That's how I work...I'm a..I'm a...I'm a...

Puppet is the word I think you're groping for Mr. President. Guess no one had their hand up your ass that day.

Crazy Japanese game shows check here and here. (found via Mike Doughty.)

Koko Taylor Interview

William Gibson & the Post Geograhpical Feeling

A clip from one of my favorite documentaries "No Maps To These Territories."

Mitch Hedberg on Letterman

Mike Doughty Live: Fort Collins, April 30, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Crumbs From the Bottom My Backpack

My lunch today and damn grateful. The crushed, stale madeline I saved up as a surprise treat for my son I found wedged between my notebook and ipod and the various papers of no particular import (ATM transactions, Visa receipts, play program, spent theater tickets, to do lists, grocery lists christ it's all weighing me down!). Flat, in word, the madeline was! Flat. In all respects except for its modest nutritional value. It's a world in that backpack which by the way also boasts a 1997! edition New York subway map it appears I rediscovered on January 17, 2003 (consulting above mentioned notebook) when sitting at the Baylands in Palo Alto where I took my son after gymastics to watch (feel!) the airplanes fly over us as they landed at the Palo Alto airport.

Forgotten Notebook exchange dated 1/17/03
Q: What is my obstacle?
A: You are.

What would happen if you were to write about now? Describe the ducks in the marsh. The smooth dripping clear sound of the water off their backs (at the time wishing I could shake my pain so easily). The brown marsh grass. The sun brilliant on the water. The bubbles as bugs rise to the surface and nip at algae. The wind gentle on the water. Private planes overhead. My son, three years old, lying on the bench beside me studying the subway map driving his cars over it and talking to himself: "standed on top he has standed on top catch a bubble catch a bubble you do that you do that is it circular? is it round? is it circular?" (the kid has demanded these distinctions all his life) "Duck!" (on his sippy cup) he raises it up so the duck can see the airplane rushing over our heads.

Pressing questions from 1/17/03
Is there always a hole in your heart where the soul of your child came through? Does one ever recover? Or will I feel the pull of that new body like a satellite as long as either of us is alive? Or beyond that? Have we always known each other? Been moving towards each other? From all other matter? Throughout time? And what of the dead? What of my dead child? Surely we are pierced as much by the dead, the unborn, the never was, as much as we are by all that is. What thread is strong enough to sew up the wound?

yes. these are the thoughts that return and return even today when I'm starving and nervous waiting to present my thesis proposal.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Paved With Good Intentions

Two videos from GodHatesFags explaining why God is killing U.S. Troops. These are the well-intentioned folks who picket at the funerals of soldiers killed in action in Iraq. Gotta love religious tolerance, right?

Even Stevphen - Islam vs. Christianity

Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert debate on The Daily Show. (from YouTube, Yep!)

Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight, White American Male: The Video

Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight, White American Male: Todd Snider Live from Bergen, Norway on April 30th, 2006.

From YouTube (Piefurcation loves YouTube)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bean Day and Torture

Check out McSweeny's. Find out what Bean Day is and read the rest of this little nugget.


BY David Aldridge

- - - -


Thank you very much. First off, it's common knowledge that no actor or actress has had more on- or offscreen experience dealing with torture than me, Chuck Norris. Both ends, mind you. Certainly, I've been the victim of torture in many of my movies, but most people don't realize that I've also dealt it out as well. Just ask the host of The Price Is Right, Bob Barker.

Bob was a karate student of mine in the mid-1980s, and one day, after he showed up late with an attitude to a lesson at my dojo in Brentwood, I swept his leg from behind and took him down hard. Then I crushed his testicles with my elbow until I heard him yell "PLINKO!" with sincerity. Let's just say that, from then on, Bob was always 15 minutes early. But I'm not here to name-drop. I'll move on.

Things Have Changed

Yep. There's been some spring cleaning going on here at Piefurcation. Looking at the past few month's blogs, it's clear that the Piefurcation "cake" has been made (pardon the mixed metaphor). So. I'm moving all my theater/performance/art writing over to Ghost Light. I think the ultimate intention behind that work will be better served on a separate site.

Bear with us at Word Blast, we're experiencing some technical difficulties. Hopefully, we'll have them ironed out by the end of the week.

Oh, and look for more additions to Slices O' Pie in the coming months. Tee hee.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Better Living Through Chemistry

David Byrne talks chemistry. Prairie voles, oxytocin, phenylethylamine, Kenneth Lay, oh my!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Women on the Edge Festival

Fellow Travelers Performance Group presents "WOMEN ON THE EDGE," an evening of works by some of the Bay Area's finest women choreographers including Cynthia Adams, Chris Black, Joan Bruemmer, Michelle Spencer Ellsworth, Monique Jenkinson, and Sara Kraft.

May 11 - May 20

Thur/Fri/Sat 8pm
Tickets $12- 20 and are available at the door.
Reservations: 510-848-8605

Exit Theatre
156 Eddy Street
San Francisco

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Source

What do I want? What do I really want you to do? I will tell you. I want you not to believe anything you have grown up to believe. That the theater is a petty, clever, slick, cheap place. I want you to put an end to this sterile idea. I want you to realize that the life of the theater can be larger and more vital than anything you have ever known. I want you to realize that you have been misled by watching the starved, warped output of the Broadway theater, until you have taken it for granted that the theater is something less than the terrible, wonderful, flaming thing it is. I want you to know that your life in the theater can be full, can be rich, can be drunken with beauty and power; and that elation can be your daily life, your daily bread. I want you to get a sense of responsibility towards the theater. I want you to move out of the shallows into the deep current. I want you to acknowledge the fundamental mystery of the theater. I want you to learn that observation is not a substitute for insight; that ingenuity is not a substitute for imagination; that cleverness is not a substitute for culture. I want you to realize that we are beginning to see that America and Americans are not in the least like what we thought they were. And I want you to create in the theater out of this new awareness of ourselves and our country. I want you to realize how deficient we are in a sense of reality, and how we try to compensate for this deficiency in all sorts of dazzling and futile ways. I want you to learn how the reactions of an audience differ from the reactions of every audience member. I want to repeat that. I want you to learn how the reactions of an audience differ from the reactions of every individual in the audience. I want you to know that audiences have capacities for feeling that no dramatist has ever touched. I want you to learn the height of perception - the contagious excitement - out of which all great work for the theater is created. I want you to learn to see life dynamically - to see it in motion, to see it in action. I want you to learn to respond to the livingness that is on each floating instant of time. To become aware, and always more aware, of that livingness until at last you can know what Plato calls, "the madness of those possessed by the Muses." More than anything else, I want you to be true to your dreams of theater. Now at your time of life, is when you acquire them. Never go back on them. Never! Be true to your dreams. Be true to your love. Be true to your love. - Robert Edmond Jones

I copied this down several years ago and have been trying to find the source. It's not in The Dramatic Imagination. I'm wondering of it comes from his recorded lectures. Anyone have an idea?

Words, words, words

Stephen Colbert again. Hey, where else are you going to get heavy hitting reporting? Did you see his interview with Madeline Albright last night?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Husband Wants To Know

Where do all those girls from the "Girls Gone Wild" video go to school? Not that it matters now of course. But back in the day...


Check out the open letters to people who are unlikely to respond section of McSweeny's. Here's a sample:


- - - -

Dear Occupants of 55-D,

I would just like to let you know that a few nights ago, while walking my dog, I ate one of your azaleas. I had just had a few glasses of wine, a lovely 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet, and I noticed how much more beautiful your azaleas were compared to the others in the neighborhood.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Postsecret Author in Mountain View

You locals out there will have the opportunity to meet Frank Warren, founder of the Postsecret project. Postsecret asks people to write a secret on a postcard and mail it to him. It makes for some startling and poignant revelations. Mr. Warren will be at Books, Inc. in Mountain View on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 7:30 pm. Books, Inc. is located at 301 Castro Street.

Procrastination Meme

I am wrapped up in a blue and white afghan.
I want brownies. I want them now!
I wish
I had discovered Terry Teachout's procrastination meme sooner. My whole weekend was an absymal drift of avoidance with nothing to look busy doing.
I hate
to be spoken to in third person. Actually, the absurdity of it gives me a giddy thrill, but the "California-ness "of it is pretty creepy.
I love to hear my kids laugh.
I miss Arrested Development and Hunter S. Thompson.
I fear I sound like my mother, literally.
I hear birds singing outside my window.
I wonder what goes through George Bush's mind. Is it just white noise?
I regret I am not good at pool.
I am not available to take your calls.
I dance with my daughter to Corazón de Melon.
I sing with Nina Simone when I'm driving in my car.
I cry when I watch Secretariat win the Triple Crown, cheesy music aside.
I am not always patient or even present.
I make with my hands nasty gestures at people who cut me off in traffic.
I write notes on bits of paper I either lose or can't make sense of.
I confuse helpfulness with a desire to impose an agenda.
I need a massage.
I should pay my library fines.
I start each day far earlier than I'd like.
I finish later rather than sooner.
I tag the Reverend and the next person who reads this.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Under the Gun

Deadline looming. Stop. Must finish thesis proposal. Stop. Must turn in tomorrow. Stop.

Reasons for not proceeding:

  1. Sick (Head is stuffy and cloudy).
  2. Interrupted by kids so many times I've stopped counting.
  3. Too much information.
  4. Too much new information.
  5. Need chocolate.
  6. Need sugar to make brownies. STAT!!!!


My dog, Astro, when he was a puppy.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Best Buy Pranked

Improv Everywhere, a New York-based performance group, invaded a Manhattan Best Buy dressed in royal blue polo shirts and khaki pants. Chaos ensues as customers, employees, and policemen try to figure out what the group is up to.

From Agent Ciletti:
Several people asked me for help. One man wanted to know about some software and started laughing when I said I didn’t work there. After about 15 minutes I went upstairs and stood by the front door. At this point the managers and security knew something was going on. A girl walked in and approached me.

“Do you know where I can find a USB port?” she said.

“What is that?” I said.

“It’s a computer thing,” she said.

“What does USB stand for?” I asked. She gave me a strange look.

“I don’t know,” she said. “You just plug it in…”

At that point a Best Buy employee wearing a black shirt came running over shouting “She doesn’t work here!” but the girl was already heading down the escalator.

He turned to me and said, “You can’t help her!”

“Oh, believe me,” I said. “I wasn’t helping her.”
Working for the Weekend clip here. Filming the event clip here. Full account of the Mission here. History of Missions here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

1st Saturday in May

Tomorrow is derby day. In the spirit of the day, I offer the following:
Mint Julep
Simple Syrup
2 cup granulated sugar
2 cup water
  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Simmer syrup, 5 minutes. Cool at room temperature.

The Julep. The following technique was perfected over the course of several weeks. It began with a party at my house in honor of HST, which at the request of friends and my kids went on for a month or so. Note: Kids did not drink juleps, they just enjoyed the air rockets. My son wants to celebrate "Hunter S. Thompson Day" every year.

Right. The Juleps.

  • Make the simple syrup ahead of time.
  • Take a few mint leaves and muddle them in the bottom of a julep cup (or a rocks glass) with a bit of simple syrup.
  • Fill cup with shaved or crushed ice.
  • Add bourbon to taste (two and half to three ounces, depending on your taste).
  • Garnish with a mint sprig.
  • Serve and enjoy.
Also, for your derby day enjoyment give this a read: The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved by Hunter S. Thompson
"There's going to be trouble," I said. "My assignment is to take pictures of the riot."

"What riot?"

I hesitated, twirling the ice in my drink. "At the track. On Derby Day. The Black Panthers." I stared at him again. "Don't you read the newspapers?"

The grin on his face had collapsed. "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"Well...maybe I shouldn't be telling you..." I shrugged. "But hell, everybody else seems to know. The cops and the National Guard have been getting ready for six weeks. They have 20,000 troops on alert at Fort Knox. They've warned us--all the press and photographers--to wear helmets and special vests like flak jackets. We were told to expect shooting..."

"No!" he shouted; his hands flew up and hovered momentarily between us, as if to ward off the words he was hearing. Then he whacked his fist on the bar. "Those sons of bitches! God Almighty! The Kentucky Derby!" He kept shaking his head. "No! Jesus! That's almost too bad to believe!" Now he seemed to be sagging on the stool, and when he looked up his eyes were misty. "Why? Why here? Don't they respect anything?"

(Full Text)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Skim Milk or Cream?

Check out the Scientific American article about robot designer Hiroshi Ishiguro's android Repliee Q1, fashioned after a local newscaster, Ayako Fujii. The likeness is remarkable and maybe a bit creepy. For just a second my eye can be fooled. Repliee's skin is made from Polyurethane and a five-millimeter-thick silicone.
"Appearance is very important to have better interpersonal relationships with a robot," says the 42-year-old Ishiguro. "Robots are information media, especially humanoid robots. Their main role in our future is to interact naturally with people."
Full article here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Many A Truth Is Said In Jest

Lear: Dost thou call me fool, boy?
Fool: All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
King Lear (I, iv)

Much of the reaction to Stephen Colbert’s speech centers around whether it was funny or not. But audience reaction is subjective and, to a large degree, beside the point. If Dana Milbank wants to think that Colbert wasn’t funny, fine. That’s his prerogative. He can claim that Colbert bombed because he had the "misfortune of following the president whose performance was so much better” – but let’s face it: who isn’t going to laugh at the president? Isn’t that what’s expected? Isn’t that what the whole farce is about? It’s like that moment in the Soprano’s when Tony tells a joke at a dinner party: the camera pulls back and there’s this slow motion pan of Tony looking around the room as everyone laughs. Why are these people laughing? Because he’s the boss and he’ll cut their fucking heads off. Those are the rules. Colbert broke them and rubbed everyone’s face in it.
The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will. And as excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of fox news.

Fox News gives you sides of every story, the president’s side and the vice president’s side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. Wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re super depressing.

And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. Intelligence, the affect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know fiction.
Colbert killed. That’s what happened in that room. We saw the president get shot (figuratively speaking), the press get bitch-slapped, and it was a magnificent thing to behold. Frankly, Colbert’s humor is in better taste than the President’s act from last year where he went looking under tables for WMD’s. That act continues to kill – as of today 2,200 American soldiers dead and over 20,000 wounded, and at least 38,000 Iraqis. To all those who have lost a loved one, just remember this – dying is easy, comedy is hard. Cold comfort, but that’s what flags are for.

Why has the press ignored Colbert? Because he beat them into a corner. Basically, mass media has an amazing ability to absorb subversive material and repackage it as product. Bill Hicks acknowleged this in his routine when he suggested that everyone in the audience who worked in marketing should:

"Suck a tailpipe. Hang yourself. Borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy. Rid the world of your evil fucking presence. OK, back to the show. You know what bugs me though, is that everyone here who's in marketing is thinking the same thing, 'Oh cool, Bill's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a huge market.'"
Colbert was subversive, but at this point, his performance transcends anything the press has to throw at it. All they can do is ignore it or claim it isn't funny.

For a stand-up comedian’s perspective, go check out John Rogers a
t Kung Fu Monkey.

I’m going to leave you with a couple of quotes by Dario Fo from The Tricks of the Trade,
“today’s clown has lost both his ancient capacity to shock and his political moral commitment. In other times the clown used satire as a vehicle of violence, cruelty, hypocrisy and injustice. Centuries ago, he was an obscene, diabolical figure.”
Or, in Colbert's case, maybe a wiry guy with glasses?

“’Comics, always deal with the same problem – hunger, be it hunger for food, sex, or even for dignity, for identity, for power. The problem they invariably propose is – who’s in command, who’s the boss?”
Well, now we know.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Guess You Had To Be There

Dana Milbank's contention that Stephen Colbert's speech "wasn't terribly funny." puts an ironic twist on the old comedy saw. Apparently, you just had to be there to truly appreciate how unfunny Colbert was.

Milbank told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that:

"I don't think he really crossed the line. I just think he wasn't terribly funny. And he had the misfortune of following Bush, who actually did put on one of the better performances of his presidency." (Washington Post)
Hmmm. Which performances are those? The one where he gives the cocksure 2003 State of the Union Address about WMD's? Or the one where he does the top gun "Mission Accomplished" impersonation aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS in May of the same year?
How about the one where he says when he finds out who the "leaker" is, that person will be fired? Or the one where he flies over New Orleans looking concerned? Just trying to understand the method of selection here.

Offending the Audience

A Bill Hicks interview from the U.K.

Bill's Chicago "Freebird" and "You Suck" incidents.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Read George Bush's Tight, Pursey Lips

As he takes the full metal jacket impact of Stephen Collbert's brilliant wit at the Whitehouse Correspondent's dinner. Press corps discomfort you can cut with a knife. Yep! It's a beautfiul thing. You know something's up when Scalia is the only one in the room laughing. Complete speech available here, here, and here.

Witness Tucker Carlson's limp response. Nice to know that what holds the press back from heavy-hitting journalism is a desire not to make anyone uncomfortable with the truth. But did Colbert flop? I don't think so. Colbert made Bush look like the impotent little handpuppet he is.

It takes sand to hang it that far out there. But that's what the best comedians do. Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy at his best, David Cross, and Bill Hicks to name a few. Here's one of my favorite Bill Hicks' quotes from the opening of Rant in E-Minor. Hicks launches into a tirade about Americans' underdeveloped intellectual behavior and a woman apparently disagrees so Hicks confronts her:
"Please don't debate me, it's my one true talent. I have 23 hours to develop this web of conspiracy theory, so please, just relax and enjoy your hair ... Your little cracker spawn are back at the hotel choking down the mini bar contents, probably fucking each other and producing more little crackers to come fuck with my life, you inbred redneck hillbilly fucking tourist, you. Good evening, how are you tonight? Welcome, welcome to 'No Sympathy Night.' Welcome to 'You're Wrong Night.'"
I only wish that theater rose to this level of risk (contempt, rage, truthiness®) - in both performance and subject matter (especially "political theater" which for me has come to represent an empty genuflect in the direction of the choir, but don't get me started!)

Thanks to T for the heads up.

Studio Time

Yesterday, I went back into the studio for the first time in 2 years! This lapse is due to my commitment to get my masters degree and although I've been directing and writing, contraints on my time (kids, life, etc) have not made it feasible for me to arrange studio time. For a while this situtation has been fruitful in that I've been able to focus on my writing without the pressure of running a theater company and producing theater. Don't get me wrong: disengaging from my company, (which has been my avocation since my early twenties) was disorienting; the first summer I wasn't in rehearsal I felt like I had lost a limb.

To a large degree that emptiness was necessary and I had to struggle not to fill it up, to just allow it to take me. It was hard to let the company go - for me there was a sense of loss and and a huge sense of failure. But I had become frustrated and bitter about producing theater in San Francisco. In the end, the company just couldn't create any momentum either within the SF community or within the company itself. I suspect that these two things are interdependent. Navigating through the loss made me aware of the influence the company mission exerted on my work and my growing discomfort with the limitations I feel that mission imposed. More on this later, because it's a topic in itself.

A friend asked me recently, if I ever feel like I'm in the wrong place, echoing a question that one of my teachers and mentors had asked almost ten years ago. The first time I was asked the question, the answer was no. Now, I'm not so sure. I had a common denominator moment recently, when I worked with a local company in the development of their annual summer touring show that left me in a tailspin wondering why I have such difficulty connecting to artists in SF (Get Down! notwithstanding).

It would be one thing if I were met with indifference where ever I worked and with whomever I came into contact. I would be willing to accept defeat if I couldnt get anyone anywhere excited about my work , but that is not the case. It just seems to be rooted in SF. The truth is, I see so little theater in San Francisco that stops me in my tracks and much that thinks it is so much more than it is - either out of naiveté (which is forgivable) or arrogance (which grows tedious overtime). The dance community, on the other hand, is remarkable and for the most part, is the only community to have gotten excited about the work I am doing. So maybe that's my answer right there.

At any rate, I fluctuate between absolute certainty that I'm in the wrong place and then I have a day like yesterday when going back into the studio and working left me feeling inspired and engerized. It's clear to me that I want to continue producing theater, but perhaps not specifically in San Francisco and perhaps with a new vision of production.

All of this is my way of saying that my work in the studio has given me insight about what I want to focus on in this blog and made me realize that what I want to do may require more than one, so expect to see some interesting changes in the next few months.

Ongi Etori! (as I understand it, that is the French Basque version of "live free or die!"