Monthly Archives: February 2006

February 26, 2006

So apparently Joan Allen came to my show on Friday. Before curtain, she told the artistic director of the theater that she had to leave at intermission, because she had an early flight the next morning. Then intermission came . . . and she stayed. She said she couldn’t bring herself to leave. She told him after it was over that she’d loved it.

I’m floating a little bit right now.

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February 24, 2006

When last night’s presentation clocked in at just under three hours, we decided to cut the number.

So I guess my enemies are safe for the time being.

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February 23, 2006

There is a song in the Holocaust musical I’m writing in which a member of the Jewish Council of Elders is forced to draw up lists of names of people to be sent east on trains to Auschwitz. At one point in the song, his wife sings name after name, and after every one, he sings, “The train.”

When we wrote this song a few months ago, the lyricist gave me a historically accurate list of names of people who had been sent east. The problem was that the music I had written was longer than the list, so when I had reached the end of the names there were still several measures of wordless music.

It was very late at night, so I couldn’t call him and ask for more names. I considered doing some online research and coming up with more names on my own, but the fact that such a step would have required actual work on my part made me dismiss it almost instantly as a viable possibility.

So I ended up just using the names of people I don’t like. Men who turned me down for dates when I was single, writers who have won awards for which I applied even though they are less talented than I am, my fifth-grade teacher who was so mean to me–in the presentations of my show tonight through Saturday, they’re all headed out to be gassed.

I had to fuck with the pronunciations of certain names to make them fit the music. Ordinarily I would be so appalled at the thought of a misset word as to shrink in horror from anyone who suggested such a thing, but in this case the feeling is outweighed by the enormous satisfaction I feel every time I hear that one of my enemies is on his or her way to the showers.

Perhaps I’ve been working on this show too long.

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February 15, 2006

Let me get this straight: the government has been illegally spying on us for years, and our president, after promising to do whatever it takes to rebuild Louisiana, opposes the only adequate Katrina relief plan anybody has come up with–a plan that enjoys wide bipartisan support–because it might cost as much as three months of the war in Iraq and is therefore too expensive, and the company formerly run by our vice president has been awarded a $400 million contract to build concentration camps even though they send rotten meat to our troops overseas, and all we can talk about is how the vice president shot somebody?

Though I guess even the greatest of tragedies need comic relief every few quires or so.

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February 12, 2006

In many previous entries I have made mention of the musical I’m working on about the concentration camp Terezin. Coincidentally, the man who has never been seen in the same room as me is also composing the score for a musical about Terezin (go here to listen to a few of the songs), and it’s having a concert presentation in a couple weeks. If you live in or around New York City, I’m sure he’d be thrilled if you bought a ticket.

That is, if the rewrites haven’t killed him by then.

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February 10, 2006

Last week, as the woman behind the cash register at Duane Reade was ringing up my battery purchase, I said what I always say at the drugstore, which is, “Don’t worry, I don’t need a receipt.” What I generally mean by this is, “If you hand me a piece of paper I will crumple it up and put it in my pocket and forget about it utterly until three months from now, at which point I will notice it and wonder whether I need it for my taxes but I won’t be able to tell because the ink will have faded to illegibility by then and I’ll spend days worrying that I’ll be thrown in jail for tax evasion and so really I’d prefer that you just recycle the receipt or throw it away yourself.” The instance in the Duane Reade was no exception.

The woman behind the counter appeared not to have heard me, however, because when she handed me my batteries the receipt was right there in her hand.

“Oh, that’s okay,” I said, with slightly more volume. “I don’t need the receipt.”

She looked at me blankly for a moment. “Well, I don’t really need it either,” she said.

I grabbed the batteries and receipt and stalked out of the store.

At the time her insolence enraged me but thinking about it now I find it pretty funny.

Now I just need to figure out what this crumpled-up piece of paper in my pocket is.

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February 7, 2006

Oh, all right, all right. The crux of the conversation was this:

FAUSTUS (pouting manipulatively): That’s okay. If you don’t love me anymore, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing and come cuddle with me.
E.S.: What if I still love you, but slightly less than I used to?
FAUSTUS: That’s it. I’m never having sex with you ever again.

Then we had sex.

There. I hope that wasn’t too revolting.

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February 6, 2006

I just wrote a whole post about a conversation E.S. and I had yesterday morning but then I read it over and was appalled to see that it contained an episode of cuddling, so I deleted it immediately.

This whole having-a-boyfriend thing is all well and good, but there are some barbarities I simply cannot permit myself to inflict upon you.

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February 3, 2006

I’m reading a biography of Shirley Jackson, author of (among many other things) “The Lottery,” the terrifying story about a small town that annually stones one of its residents to death. In discussing Jackson’s taste in literature, her biographer quotes her as saying that she loved eighteenth-century novels for “the preservation of and insistence on a pattern superimposed precariously on the chaos of human development.”

“I think it is the combination of these two,” Jackson continued, “that forms the background of everything I write–the sense which I feel of a human and not very rational order struggling inadequately to keep in check forces of great destruction, which may be the devil and may be intellectual enlightenment.”

I knew there was a reason I liked her.

Unfortunately, the biography also informs me that Jackson was one year younger than I am now when she published “The Lottery,” so I will never be able to think of her again without a certain amount of bitterness and envy and gall.

On the other hand, she was exactly as old as I am now when she got hooked on amphetamines, so if I can make it to January 12, 2007 without doing the same then I will be able to feel superior to her in at least one arena.

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February 1, 2006

For teaching in anything but a very small room, aerobics instructors generally use a head-worn microphone:


Depending on the microphone, there is often a battery pack attached to it with a cord:


Since it’s not really feasible to hold the battery pack in your hand while dancing around a plastic platform, most instructors also use belts:


So of course, when I showed up at the gym to sub a step class the other day and realized I had lost my battery-pack belt, I panicked. The room was big enough that attempting to teach the class unamplified would have wreaked havoc on my vocal cords; furthermore, the class was pretty full, which meant the music volume had to be pretty high. The gym had no extra belts around, and class was supposed to start in a minute and a half, so I did the only thing I could think of, which was to shove the battery pack down the front of my shorts. For ten or fifteen minutes, everything was fine; the class was enthusiastic, the microphone worked well, and the battery pack stayed put.

Then it started to inch its way towards the leg opening in my shorts.

For another twenty minutes or so I taught essentially one-handed, indicating directions with my right hand and yanking on the cord with my left hand every fifteen seconds to keep the battery pack from moving any further.

Then even this stopped working. For a brief period I just held the thing in place by clutching my left shorts leg, but eventually I had to let go for some reason or another and the battery pack immediately fell out of my shorts. I actually reached into my shorts and adjusted it, but to no avail; some cruel god out for vengeance had decided that this class should think my penis was a black plastic parallelepipedon.

This happened a few times until I could stand it no longer; I told everybody to get a drink of water, went into the corner and, while pretending to change the CD (that “pause” button can be really handy), readjusted myself so that I could hold the battery pack in place with my ab muscles, and continued teaching. It was at this point that the connection between the battery pack and the microphone started to fail.

I ripped the thing off and shrieked at the top of my lungs for the rest of the class.

Afterwards, as I collected my equipment and headed for the shower, I saw that the battery pack actually had a clip on it, so I could have just stuck the thing on the back of my shorts and been done with it.

But that wouldn’t have satisfied the cruel god out for vengeance, so I suppose it’s just as well I didn’t force him to take more extreme measures.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 8 Comments