Temperamental "T" Battles, Theater

“Deathwatch”-ing “Short Eyes”

Alright my dear darlings, I believe my port is kicking in, because I feel like I need to finish this entry somehow. Of course nobody is going to die if I don’t finish this write up, but if I don’t finish it, the world will miss on Plastikoff’s smarts. I need to move my fingers faster on those clicking buttons that make words. Let’s talk about my value at another time when I am less important to myself, alright? I can’t handle myself at the moment that’s why I decided to give you another “Temperamental “T” Battle.” Umhum thaz right Plastikoff is going to talk theater again after blabbering so much about politics and things of that nature in the previous blog entry.

Politics is theater and theater is politics or whatever, as my good friend Joe Truman would say. Eat rhubarbs if your life is too sweet, if not, there is always Donkey Donuts around the corner somewhere, and no, I haven’t misspelled that. If I eat one more donut, I will definitely turn donkey on you for sure, but about them… oh that’s right I began writing about something else… and now I am craving donuts. Ugh, this damn blog.

Okay darlings, if you were able to follow me to this point, congratulations, because now I am going to demonstrate you how I make myself to like a play which, if not for this blog, one could dismiss as not interesting enough.

Today’s battle is between two writers who spent some time behind the bars. They both loved stealing and toyed with drugs. Well who haven’t, I would ask you? If you read this entry of mine, you know what I am talking about. But this writty-shmitry is not about how to steal or how to “become” a homosexual. What it is about, I don’t know yet myself.

Most of you probably don’t even know how this whole “homo” thing works, unless you have been in jail, as my dear Jean and Miguel were. When you are trapped behind some steel, or whatever they’re called, bars, your real you comes out in all colors of the rainbow and that’s, my dears, is the time when you “become” gay. Ha, do you really believe that (smiley face)?

Okay I should cut this whole gay-shmay talk right now and go to the point. Why is that suddenly I decided to talk about these two authors and these two particular plays?

Well, first of all, they both were/are great writers and, what is even more exciting, they were/are both street smart, which could only mean they didn’t go to any fancy-shmancy university. They got their education from those flees which they collected in those unmarked, full of junkies houses. I truly am impressed by how both of them kept on writing. Even though they both were “criminals,” … f*ck I forgot what I was going to say here, but that doesn’t matter anymore. Let me dissect “Short Eyes” and “Deathwatch” for you instead.

If you have forgotten how the “Temperamental “T” Battles” go, read this entry. I find that entry pretty good, especially when I am drunk.

“Short Eyes” and “Deathwatch” are not produced very often because they deal with very particular situations in very particular places. My work here is to convince you and show you how you, my dear readers, could enjoy a work that doesn’t necessary move you at all.

God, the stuck “t” on my keyboard is driving me crazy.

Now, why would you choose to see a play about convicts? On top of it, why would you want to see a play about murderers, homosexuals, blacks, Latinos, drug addicts and pedophiles, why?

To tell you the truth, I don’t know why, but this is exactly why I decided to write this entry. I want to convince you that beauty is all around you, in all kinds of shapes and forms. Yes, you can read this last sentence sarcastically, if you wish.

No, I am not a fan of pedophilia, no. Oh god, I just imagine all these parents go crazy imagining somebody taking advantage of their children. Even I got sobered up from that thought alone, and no, there is no smiley face at the end of this sentence, no.

But, I should mention to you, that I knew somebody who was wrongfully accused of being sexually involved with a minor. He was an unbelievably talented and free spirited artist. Think Basquiat and Rimbaud in one person. Yes, on top of his free spirit and talent, he also, it happened so, was a homosexual. His story ended in a suicide. He was not able handle the accusations. He was twenty one years old, the boy was sixteen at that time. Yes, that’s true, he was a homosexual, which automatically mean in some countries that you are sick. What also is true, that that person confided in me a night before he ended his life, telling me about the people who made these accusations. He could not understand how anyone could think that he was taking advantage of a young man he was teaching at the time. He really adored his pupil as an artist. They had a very special bond.

Piñero in his play “Short Eyes” is dealing with a somewhat similar situation. There is a man who is jailed and, as later we find out, falsely accused of molesting some young girls. The play painfully reminded me of my friend. The only difference with my friend and Piñero’s character Short Eyes was that my friend was not jailed but living in a society which understood anything homosexual a crime. In my friend’s case society was the jail where being a homosexual meant being a pedophile.

Piñero is raw, Genet is poetic. To compare their writings is like comparing apples to chili peppers, so I am not going to do the comparison. Instead I want to tell you why I decided to spend my time talking about “Short Eyes” and “Deathwatch.

Let’s go to “Deathwatch” now. First of all I should mention that I love Genet, period. “Deathwatch” is not as popular as his “The Maids” is. But “Deathwatch” is worth looking into.

“Deathwatch” takes place in a single jail cell where there are three criminals “residing.” One of them Green Eyes (interesting how the word “eyes” has a huge meaning in jail slang) is waiting for a death sentence. The death happens in the play, but not to the person who is convicted.

I don’t want to go into plot details here. In “Deathwatch” there is almost no plot. What attracted me in the play were inspirations and ideas I got from it.

While I was reading and later watching a film, an adaptation of the play, I found myself thinking about Genet’s genius construction of human psyche using three different characters. I got myself involved with questions like, what and who do these characters represent? To me the jail cell represented a human psyche where there were three conflicting thoughts (three characters). Knowing that Genet was quite often in jail and dealt with situations where he was sexually attracted to other men, it made sense to me that he would write whatever was happening in his mind on paper.

In “Deathwatch” Genet, in a way, is all these three characters: gorgeous looking Green Eyes, secretly in love Lefranc and openly in love with Green Eyes Maurice. They all have their own secrets and they all could represent a jailed human psyche. So, in short, by entering the jail cell we are entering Genet’s mind.

Summing up both plays:

“Deathwatch” gave me perspective of how a play or a performance could be built using characters as representations of different parts of human psyche.

“Short Eyes” hit close to home because somebody I knew ended their life because of a similar accusation.

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Connecting the Dots, Psycho-Logic-Ally [in] Correct Speaking

Legally Allowed to Kill a Kitty

Liza Minelli’s Nipples, Anatoly Kashpirovsky and what you most likely not seeing while watching a cat video.

Oh yeah, my darlings, today Plastikoff is going to be quite political, quite politically [in]correct, I should correct.

I started writing about Liza’s nipples at the Oscars and… while dissecting the size of the above mentioned nipa-pips a video fell into my view. I realized that there is something I want to tell you about the video I watched. I decided to cut the bitch and go for it.

Now how do you go from Liza Minnelli’s nipples at the Oscars, to Anatoly Kashpirovsky’s hypnotic seances in Soviet Union, to Afghan/Iraq war, how?

Of course Plastikoff could show you how clever he is by using something clever in his writings, you know like, telling you how you could drink orange juice and eat an orange at the same time? And nipples. Nipples are always good to talk about. They heal the masses. But Plastikoff is saying no to Liza’s nipples. He is better than that. He is just going to tell you stories, true stories, I should add.

Where and when Plastikoff was growing up there was this “Diadia (Uncle) Hypnotizer” coming on TV, I believe every Tuesday around eight o’clock in the evening. Plastikoff was still a teenager then and couldn’t quite understand why his family was watching this man talk on TV. It was not a funny talk show, no, and it was not a president talking either, but that “Diadia” was somebody who could make you happy. Yes, literally, happy just by talking to you from your TV screen. People around the Soviet Union watched religiously the guy on their TV sets while going into some kind of faints or trances similar to these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwXma6uaQvA

Well, you should be aware that at that time churches and preachers were a no-no anywhere in Soviet Union. These were the Soviet Times. Something still needed to be invented for the people to believe in. “Diadia Kashpirovsky” gave the crowds the needed opium – the happiness which was running out as fast as that water from that sea that disappeared in Kazakhstan. To become happy, you, of course, had to watch “Diadia Kashpirovsky” on TV religiously.

This whole thing was ridiculous and ended, I believe, very scandalously, because, people were falling out of their chairs, sofas and whatever things they were sitting on. There were some traumas, but not the ones you get by falling from a chair, no. As you probably guessed, money had to do something with these falls. A crook will always be a crook. How could we recognize somebody like that “Diadia?” That is another question? Well you are in good hands, my darlings. You have Plastikoff himself. He saw this video, so he knows what he is talking about (smiley face).

Should I include a few links at the end of this entry for you to send me money now? Or should I learn how to speak as the above mentioned hypno-teaser?

Okay, my darlings, since you have checked if I had inserted those above mentioned links at the end of my entry and found that there are none of them there, shall we start watching some other videos now and talk about them? I think we should.

How my mind was able to get away from Liza Minnelli’s boobs I was writing about, I have no idea, but it did. Here is a video which inspired today’s entry. I am pretty sure you are going to need some tissues, because I needed them. No, I truly did.

Ohio 8-year old turns $20 into priceless gift

Alright my darlings, I don’t need to tell you what you saw in the video, or do I?

Well okay, for those who didn’t watch the video yet, you saw a soldier who got $20 dollars from a kid who lost his father in Iraq war when he was still a baby. The kid’s action and note inspired the soldier. The note truly touched the soldier and, as he said, this experience will stay with him for the rest of his life.

Stories like that are gold mines for media moguls who want to manipulate you and get your money. Yes, that’s right, even that little kitty you see on TV or your computer screen has something to do with the money. And this is how.

Ugh, I can feel some interesting energy coming my way, but before I dissect this particular video, let me tell you another, also a true, story.

I dated somebody who went to war in Afghanistan in the late 80’s. Yes, that’s right, I still cannot understand how, after the Soviet Union’s fiasco in Afghanistan, Americans, a decade later, went there too. I am pretty sure there are American soldiers who could tell similar stories to the one I am just about to tell you.

Well it is not a secret that to survive an Afghan war you need to drug yourself somehow. No wonder Afghanistan has the biggest poppy fields in the world. They need to provide all that opium to all those poor soldiers who come to fight them on their land.

Alright so, the army base, where my dear friend was fighting, was close to a little Afghani town. That was the town where our dear soldiers went to get their drugs and things of that nature. The town people knew all the soldiers as well as Soviet soldiers knew the town people. They all were living happily just with one little detail attached to their relationship, some of them were occupying somebody else’s land and were trying to put their rules on existing ones. Well, who pays attention to these little details anyway? Whoever holds the gun is the boss with the rules, isn’t that true?

It happened so that the soldiers ran out of whatever they were smoking, so it was time for somebody to go to the town and get the needed sugar for their dreams. My love interest volunteered to go to the town and get the dope, even though it was not his turn to do so. Nobody wanted to schlep the distance, so volunteering was happily accepted…

Well let me cut the story to the chase. My lover came back and found all of his friends decapitated? He was the only one who survived this massacre. Who did the decapitations, anybody’s guess. Thankfully he had all that dope on him.

Now you would say, oh those bad bad Arabs or whatever you call the people who kill your soldiers, sons and daughters, nowadays in Middle East. Well, yeah if you are a soldier you kill people and you are ready to be killed, isn’t it so?

But let me go back to the video which really made me cry my eyes out, it truly did. The innocence and the story of the child were heartbreaking. The only thing this kid knew was that his father was a soldier who fought in a war and was killed, so now when he sees a soldier he is reminded about his father who is no longer with him.

Would you like to play a little game now?

Let’s say that Afghanistan is the United States of America and America is now Afghanistan. Would you react the same way watching the same video if, instead of an American child, there would be an Afghani kid giving the money to Afghani soldier? You probably need some time to get this picture into your head. Should I put some kitty video for you while you do that?

I don’t believe you would react the same way you did while watching the described video. Right now you only know what media wants you to know. Can you see a human being killing another human being while you watch the video?

Oh, it is hard to write this and be “funny” at the same time, but I shall continue.

Every human being is a human being and every killing is a killing. When somebody talks about a war I hear somebody talk about a legalized killing. This video above becomes even harder for me to watch because that soldier is legally allowed to kill and I just hope he hasn’t had that “chance” to do so.

So now, what are you trying to say here, you’d ask me? Are you trying to deface American soldiers? Ha, did you really ask this question?

This is what I see in most army recruit and similar videos.

There is somebody rich who needs to become richer. The rich sees the opportunity to become richer in some foreign country. The country is not stable enough, so they need us to believe that the people there need our help. The rich need to recruit soldiers who would unknowingly fight for what they want. Knowing how people react at sad stories they just need to release a video like this and most of the job is done. Everybody sees a kid who lost his father. We need other soldiers to fight for that kid. So somebody gets killed and no questions are asked. The war is “the protection” from the foreign… somebody is still getting richer.

Plastikoff is too upset to continue with this right now… Discuss…

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Re-Views, Unsolicited Solicitations

How “A Streetcar Named Desire” Took “Blue Jasmine” to the Oscars

I know, I know my darlings, you might get quite bored with me constantly talking about Tennessee Williams and Cate Blanchett, I know, but you know what they say, keep repeating that one thing and you will become a master at it. And darlings, who wouldn’t want to write plays like Tennessee and act like Cate, who? So here comes my next rant which involves another colleague of mine, my dear Woody Allen.

I have had quite a few woodies in my life and there might be some Allens involved with them, but this entry is not about them, even though I wish it would be, because that might have given me a happy ending, but I digress, no really, I do digress not having a happy ending for this entry.

During my breakfast break suddenly I… Well this has happened not so “suddenly” but the use of word “suddenly” reminded me about some writer I read recently who suggested that good writers should remove “suddenly” from all of their writings. His suggestion sounded quite strange because, first of all, who said that I want to be a good writer (this one I believe is a lie) and second of all, just imagine Tennessee Williams, yes, Tennessee Williams himself, removing “suddenly” from the name of his play “Suddenly Last Summer.” It would leave us only with “Last Summer” which would be just sad, because “suddenly” gives that needed kick in the balls and defines the pain which happened that last summer. This entry is not about “Suddenly” and not about “Last Summer” but it has something to do with removing some things and loosing the others because of that change.

While eating my breakfast I was arranging another “Temperamental “T” Battle.” Somewhere in between devouring a leaky egg yolk and a large piece of salt crystal I realized that I have way too much to say about Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” alone. Before I ate that egg I thought that I would compare two films, a great classic “A Streetcar Named Desire” and a new Oscar nominee “Blue Jasmine,” but, after finishing that poor egg I realized that that battle was won way before it even started. Who can compete with Tennessee Williams’ written characters, who? He is one of the best when it comes to it. When somebody wants to rewrite a gorgeous play written by him, it better be good, because whoever attempts to do so unsuccessfully might get a taste of Plastikoff’s testicles on their face. Your big movie name won’t help to avoid this from happening. You should be already aware that Plastikoff knows more than you do, so you must listen to him, otherwise you might get that uneaten egg yolk thrown at you and later smeared on your face by his, above mentioned, testicles. This time Woody Allen is under my radar or, should I say, under my hanging bangers. It is going to be hard (pun intended) to be Woody.

I love you Woody, I truly do. And how could I not love a director and writer who gave me one of my favorite comedy films “Bullets Over Broadway,” how? This will be tough for me to write, because you, my dear Woody, showed me with your “Bullets…” that you know and love theater very much.

The Oscars are literally a few hours away. This year’s nominations are quite forgettable. I don’t think any of the films which are nominated this year will be remembered after thirty years, but since I, ze Plastikoff himself, am living today, I thought I would give another piece of my mind (god, I am so generous, giving my brains and stuff away to ze people) and write another review of a film that has something to do with the Awards. If you haven’t read my take on “her,” you can read it here. This time I am going to go for “Blue Jasmine.”

It’s not a secret anymore that the film industry is going down the drain. There is almost nothing exciting coming out in the past few years and it’s getting worse. When movie theaters are concentrating more on the sale of popcorn and soda, you know you are popped.

This blentry (no, this is not a misspelled word, no, if you know a little Russian you know what “blet” means) is a character and play study where I discuss good versus bad adaptations of very known plays. I am going to concentrate my brain cells that are still left in my head on “A Streetcar Named Desire” and what happened to it when Woody Allen rewrote it into “Blue Jasmine.”

First of all one must be blind not to see that “Blue Jasmine” is “A Streetcar Named Desire.” It is and it is all the things it should not be.

I was quite shocked and taken aback by the fact that there was no mentioning of Tennessee Williams in any way in the credits of “Blue Jasmine.” What I saw was that this script was “originally” written by Woody Allen.

Oy Woody, Woody, yes, of course you gave your own twist to my bellowed play, but to be so blunt and not even say that your script was at least somehow inspired by “…Desire” was a sneaky way to go. You are definitely not winning any points from me on that. Thinking that putting Blanche (Jasmine in your film) in today’s environment would distract me from recognizing the play is a huge miscalculation.

First of all putting a play or adapting a play for today’s environment is nothing new, you know that, Woody. Almost every play has gotten that treatment in theater. Directors take old plays and adapt them constantly. Theater directors (usually) acknowledge original writers leaving their names in credits even though there might be nothing “original” left in their productions.

I recognized that Stella’s home from “A Streetcar Named Desire” is Jasmine sister’s home in San Francisco in your film, my dear Woody. Jasmine from “Blue Jasmine” is broke as it is the original Blanche from “A Streetcar…” when she comes to live with her sister. My dear Woody, you haven’t even escaped saying that Jasmine has a French background, and oh yeah, you think I would not catch where Jasmine’s name originated from? Blanche in “…Desire” mentions her perfume “Jasmine” which is hated by Stanley Kowalski. Is this where the name Jasmine came from in your film? There are many recognizable details as this in your film, Woody, but let me dissect first how “A Streetcar Named Desire’s” characters became “Blue Jasmine’s” characters.

As you know, my dear darlings, I love the fact that I find certain things hidden in films. If you read this review, you know what I am talking about. So here it goes, characters from “Blue Jasmine” and which characters from “A Streetcar Named Desire” I think “inspired” them:

Jasmine is Blanche DuBois
Ginger is Stella
Chili, Augie and Dr. Flicker are Stanley Kowalski
Dwight is Mitch
Hal, Jasmine’s husband, is the boy who killed himself in “…Desire”

I am going to start from Stanley Kowalski. Stanley was broken into three characters in “Blue Jasmine.” This was a very poor decision from you my dear Woody. And this is why.

You lost all the drama that surrounded Blanche by breaking the events and characteristics of Kowalski. All of these men in “Blue Jasmine” became very plain and didn’t contribute to Jasmine’s mind f*ck as Kowalski did in “…Desire.” What was this mess that represented Stanley in your film, Mr. Allen? You flattened Stanley from ”…Desire” so much that I was just plain sorry for the guys who were playing representations of what was once the greatest character in the history of theater.

Augie, played by Andrew Dice Clay, became Stanley whom Blanche met for the first time after arrival to her sister’s home in “A Streetcar…”
The sexy, full of passion and temperament Stanley from “…Desire” became Chili, played by Bobby Cannavale.
The “raping scene Stanley” became Dr. Flicker played by Michael Stuhlbarg.

The three characters created from one became disjointed and without depth. It was very disappointing to watch that happen.

In “A Streetcar…” Blanche’s character remembers a boy she fell in love with, who later on she realized was gay. In your version, Woody, this boy became Jasmine’s husband, Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, who cheated on her and killed himself in jail because of… well I didn’t quite get why did Jasmine’s husband killed himself in jail.

The boy from “…Desire” killed himself because he was a homosexual. Blanche revealed that secret. Jasmine’s husband, on the other hand, killed himself because Jasmine called the FBI and told them about the shady business her husband had been doing. Jasmine was emotionally distressed after finding out about Hal’s cheating. Hal got jailed because of Jasmine. I am not going to tell you in every detail how that happened but if you know “A Streetcar…,” Jasmine as well as Blanche had something to do with the suicides of their husbands.

While I totally understood Blanche’s boy’s suicide, I was not buying Jasmine’s husband’s suicide at all. The story leading to the event was flat and just too weak to be convincing. The way you wrote Hal’s character, my dear Woody, gave me an opposite impression. I couldn’t believe that a man like Hal was able to kill himself this easily.

I understand that you, my dear, wanted to portray these rich, lying people in your “Blue Jasmine,” but you failed it. You rewrote the sensitive boy’s character from “A Streetcar…” who represented Blanche’s feelings into this manipulative, cheating husband of Jasmine’s. Of course I could find some kind of connection there and say that Jasmine’s husband Hal represented Jasmine’s wish to live richly without doing any work to earn any money. That is true, that could be your idea of why Jasmine had her nervous breakdown. But with the decision of writing Hal the way you did you completely removed Jasmine’s fragility. Later on you went to explore that quality of Jasmine’s in other scenes of your film where she’s meeting Dwight, but it was too late.  You already made a cold Jasmine. You removed from her the greatest value, her fragility which was so beautifully developed by Tennessee Williams in Blanche.

My writing of this review is as messy as your film my darling Woody. See what you have done to me?

Yes, you tried to return to the original Blanche with your Jasmine being dependent on rich men. I was waiting for “I depend on the kindness of strangers” come out of Jasmine’s lips the whole film but it never happened. This beautiful quote turned into some mumbling jumble coming out of Jasmine’s lips at the end of the film which was just plainly very disappointing to me. I wanted to kick you in the balls my dear Woody. You had Cate Blanchett saying those meaningless words at the end of your film which actually hurt Cate’s as an actress’ image. She was put in a situation where she was asked to do a very cliché thing, talk into nothing with her lips slightly shivering and leaking through her eye sockets, what appeared to be some kind of liquid called tears. I found myself concentrating on Cate Blanchett’s face without make up rather than “feeling” what she was going through in that particular scene.

Funny, how you, my dear, were not able to escape shower scenes in your film. The shower scenes in “…Desire” were essential. After every one of them something happened to Blanche. Not so much happened to Jasmine in your film, my dear Woody. In “A Streetcar…” Blanche wanted to wash off something that could not be washed off. What you washed off in “Blue Jasmine,” my dear, was Cate Blanchett’s make up and that was it. Yes, with that you revealed how old Jasmine is, but it added almost nothing to the character. Cate Blanchett went quite disheveled and with the runny make up throughout the whole film. You decided to “add” to Blanche’s from “…Desire” character, an oily skin shine and sweaty armpits. This was strange to see happening knowing that the action takes place in San Francisco where the weather is cool. New Orleans’ weather is thick with sweaty armpits and oily skin. That is more appropriate for Tennessee Williams’ play, but I guess you can sweat in any weather if you drink this much alcohol as Jasmine did in your film.

The difference with Stella, Ginger in “Blue Jasmine,” is less obvious. In “Blue Jasmine” Ginger has two children while in “A Streetcar…” Stella is pregnant with her first one. Ginger’s character in “Blue Jasmine” got Blanche’s sexual freedom. Jasmine’s character became even flatter because having Ginger this sexually active removed another great layer beautifully written by Tennessee Williams for Blanche.

Jasmine’s sister, Ginger, goes around sleeping with men. She divorced her first husband for no apparent reason. There was not even a hint why she did it. Then she almost ditched a better looking and more passionate boyfriend/fiancé after she met a balding man, Al, played by Louis C.K., at a party. Ginger’s new interest was apparently cheating with her on his wife. After a phone call to Al’s house and talking with his wife, Ginger, almost instantly, dropped the passionate love for Al and returned to her hot fiancé Chili as if nothing has happened. Ginger switched back to the hotty in literally a second after she learned about Al’s wife. Ugh.

And what was that mess of a scene with Jasmine and Dr. Flicker when he was sexually abusing her in the office? I went, what the duck just happened? This came from nowhere and was so painful to watch that I lost it. This scene was so fake that I think I believed more in drag queen’s fake boobs than Dr. Flicker’s arousal towards Jasmine in that scene.

I am going to end my rant with another quite strange detail about “Blue Jasmine.” The young salesman who came by Stella’s house in “A Streetcar…” and met Blanche there became Jasmine’s son. Weird decision I’d say. With that you, my dear Woody, stripped away from Jasmine her sexual gravitation to younger men which was so crucial in Tennessee Williams’ play. With that you not only said that Jasmine is not sexually attractive, because she has a son, but you also didn’t even suggest that Jasmine could like any of her sister’s lovers.

And here comes the ending punch. The way the character of Mitch from “A Streetcar…” was written in “Blue Jasmine” was so outlandish that you, my dear Woody, didn’t know yourself what to do with him. Dwight, played by Peter Sarsgaard, appears from nowhere like a rich prince on a white horse. He almost instantly proposed to Jasmine, then he dropped her as a plastic bottle in the middle of nowhere after learning that Jasmine was divorced and had a child. It was quite convenient, I should say, to be dropped next to a place where Jasmine’s estranged son was working. Okay, I think I got it, this scene was needed because it was vital for Cate to get a little of California’s sun on her pale skin while walking those few frames, I got it.

The decision for Jasmine and Dwight to get married and break up came so forced and fast in “Blue Jasmine” that one could miss it. Turn your attention for a few moments from the screen and you won’t even know that the proposal even happened.

The dialog between characters were flat and choppy. I was constantly hearing Woody Allen’s voice which was weird because Jasmine is hardly Woody (pun intended). It was painful to listen.

After writing all of this long ass wordy diarrhea I came to a realization that you, my dear Woody, most likely decided to play a game with us. You took “A Streetcar Named Desire” written by Tennessee Williams and decided to rewrite it creating opposite characters to those written by Tennessee Williams. Hmmm, I think you didn’t have enough Port to do that my dear Woody. But I guess it worked out somehow for you, because you got quite a few nominations for the film.

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Temperamental "T" Battles, Theater

“Period of Adjustment” vs. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

Play reading is challenging for some people. It happens so that I enjoy reading them. Of course it has something to do with me being a theater director, actor, playwright and what not. That’s right, Plastikoff is a very important theater artist, so you always should listen to what, he, ze Plasikoff himself, has to say to you about one or another play. Yes, of course, he has something to say about cats and Port drinking too, but today’s entry is not about that, unless you find a connection between Tennessee Williams and his cats.

If you are in theater arts, you most likely heard questions like, “so what play would you recommend?” Or “what’s in theaters right now?” Most of the people who ask these questions want to take a short cut. I don’t know if I should blame them for that and throw some paint into their faces? Maybe I should just break some vases instead? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be Plastikoff if I would not find some fun in those questions and my play reading.

These dialogs, monologues and short descriptions might get you when you read theater plays. You might say: “how the duck should I imagine how big actress’ boobs are when I read a description like this:

“ISABEL appears before the house, small and white-faced with fatigue, eyes dark-circled, manner dazed and uncertain. She wears a cheap navy-blue cloth coat, caries a shiny new patent-leather purse, has on red wool mittens.”

A fun fact about those boobs: apparently Jane Fonda had to wear fake titties while performing in a film version of Tennessee Williams’ play “Period of Adjustment.” I don’t know if that’s true, but her titties looked pretty real to me.

There are many things directors, actors, composers, stage and costume designers have to imagine while reading those, sometimes never ending, dialogs. I am here to enhance their and your imagination, my darlings. Considering all this challenge you might face reading a play, I want to present to you “The Temperamental “T” Battles” between two plays.

I would like to share with you the insights of how I read plays. To make it more interesting for myself and maybe for you, I am going to compare one play with another and see which one is stronger, which themes and characters are developed better and so on and so forth.

To put a play on the stage requires a lot of time and energy, so you want to find that perfect play which includes everything what you are looking for. My “very important notes” might make you read those plays and, who knows, this might become a reason why you have chosen one or another play for your theater. Yes, you can thank me in your play bills later, just don’t forget to send me some Port after you do that (I think that’s a good place to insert a smiley face, no?).

Here are the rules of the battle. I am going to take two in a way similar plays and playwrights and am going to compare them as if they are break dancing on the street or something. Somebody or something has to win. In no way I want to put down one or another play or playwright. They all are one way or another great, but, just it happens so, I might find one play more appealing to me than another. It could be that by points one play might be loosing the battle, but that would not necessary mean that I am less fond of the loosing play and am dismissing the “weaker” one and not considering it for a possible production. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you will find the same attraction to the plays I find exciting. First of all you are not Plastikoff to find dead things exciting and second of all… well there is no second of all, you are just not Plastikoff and that’s that (smiley face).

Here are the categories I am going to rate the plays in the fight:

  1. Which play has a more appealing/intriguing name?
  2. Are these plays race friendly?
  3. Could they be produced in other countries considering where they were originally written and produced?
  4. What are the weakest points and parts of the fighting plays?
  5. What are the strongest points and parts of the fighting plays?
  6. Was there anything that was censored in the plays?
  7. Is there anything that should be censored now?
  8. What type of plays are they?

a) A Director’s play
b) An Actor’s play (character driven play)
c) Are these plays giving more freedom for visual interpretations for stage designers, choreographers and composers?

And, of course, are there enough of “flying” sentences in the fighting plays to satisfy some similar situations you might find yourself in? You never know when you might need to make some lemonade and borrow some money for the lemons. I am here to do some research for you and help you with that, because we all know that most artist “have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Two points for you if you know where this sentence came from.

I am pretty sure more things will come up later, but for now I am inviting two great American playwrights Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for the battle of temperamentals. The fight is going to be between “Period of Adjustment” by T. Williams and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by E. Albee. Let the fight begin.

First, let me tell you in short what these plays are all about.

“Period of Adjustment” is a play about two couples dealing with their marriages. Two men in the play are long time friends. They know each other from the times when they were soldiers during Korean War. One of them, the older one, Ralph, is on the verge of divorcing his wife Dorothea. He married her for her money. Another one, George, just got married. There is something he is hiding from his wife Isabel and the world. There are plenty of hints to suggest that George has some homosexual tendencies. Well, darlings, it wouldn’t be a Tennessee Williams play if you would not have at least something which suggests “the secret.” George has a “performance anxiety.” This might be a code that he doesn’t really like ladies, but is forced to get married to make the town stop talking. His secret is subtly revealed by his placement of his hands on Ralph’s shoulders, his talk about a possibility of buying a ranch together and overly excitement of meeting Ralph again after some years. Considering that he got married to a stunning beauty, the suspicion about his “tendencies” intensifies.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is also about two couples who deal with their relationships. There is an older married couple and a young couple. The young couple gets invited by the older couple to their home for more drinking and debauchery. Constant (drunk) fights between the older couple reveal to us a lot about their relationship.

I don’t want to go deeper into plot details of those two plays, because that would add another four hundred words. You can find the plots on the Internet easily, so I am going to skip on that part and concentrate more on the “fight” and juicy details instead, revealing to you which play gets more points from me and which one is more likely to be produced right now.

First of all, the names of the plays:

Definitely, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is a better title than “Period of Adjustment” which is surprising to me because Tennessee Williams is way better than Edward Albee with names for his plays. Who can compete with names like “A Streetcar Named Desire” or “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?” Nobody. “Period of Adjustment” is not a successful name for this particular play. It could be that because of the name this play is less known than any of Tennessee Williams plays, which is a shame, because I find this play to be a very strong play. I give Albee 5 stars for the name while Williams gets only 2 stars.

Next, are these plays race friendly?

This is going to hit Tennessee Williams into the balls hard, because his play is not race friendly. I understand that the play takes place in the south and that at that time African Americans played servants only, but… I don’t see this play being performed with actors whose skin color is other than white. Also I hardly see this play being successful in other countries like, let’s say, China, Philippines or Nigeria. The play is about white people’s problems in the south of the U.S. of A. and that is quite a shame, because the way characters are written by Mr. Williams is absolutely gorgeous.

On another hand, even though “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” original cast was all white, I can see this play being adapted in other countries and played by actors of different races.

I am giving Tennessee Williams 2 stars and Edward Albee 4 stars for race friendliness.

Now what are the weak points/parts of each of these plays?

“Period of Adjustment” weak points are:

a) The name – Mr. Williams could have found a better name.
b) The overuse of “Period of Adjustment” in dialog between      characters.
c) The use of “colored,” “negro” in the text and African Americans as servants.
d) Too “happy” of an ending considering the undertones explored in the play.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” weak points are:

None.

“POA” strong points are:

a) Strong characters and small cast.
b) Strong and mysterious undertones in the play. There is a very subtle way Williams tells about a possible homosexual attraction between two friends Ralph and George. The subtle arm placement on each other’s shoulders and overly excitement when they see each other for the first time, give me an impression that Ralph and George enjoy each other’s company more than the company of their wives. Mr. Williams uses very strong text to express Ralph’s feelings towards homosexuals. Ralph tells several times how he is not happy about his son being turned into a sissy by his wife. There is a “Brokeback Mountain” moment in the play when Ralph and George are talking about leaving their wives and buying a ranch together somewhere in Texas to grow cattle. Isabel who is married to George feels that there is something wrong with him, because of how he behaved on the first night after the wedding. Latter on Ralph discloses that George didn’t really have sex while in Korea during the Korean War which again suggests that George might be leaning towards homosexual love. A little detail about the car George drives gives us an understanding that his marriage is his coffin.
c) Everything happens during one day, no time lapse.

“WAOVW” strong points are:

a) Strong characters and small cast.
b) Relationship undertones reveal to us in a very peculiar way that the older couple is without children even though they talk a lot about their son. The way the madness between characters progresses during the play is genius.
c) Everything happens during one night, no time lapse either.
d) Also the names of the three acts definitely add to the enjoyment of the play. They are: 1st act “Fun and Games,” 2nd act “Walpurgisnacht” and 3rd act “The Exorcism.”

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” definitely wins this battle, but “Period of Adjustment” with a few edits could become one of the strongest Tennessee Williams plays. Because of the themes in “POA” I tend to choose this play for my future production.

Regarding the censorship, both plays had some censorship happen to them when they were first produced. As almost always as it was with Tennessee Williams’ plays which had homosexual undertones, suggested leanings towards love between two men were removed from productions, be it in film or theater.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” had a few cuts too, but it suffered less than “POA.” The replacements were minor. The word “screw” was completely removed from the film. “Hump the hostess” was retained, but had some headaches happen to a few “good” people involved with censorship of profanity and sexual innuendos.

Both plays are character driven, actor plays, which means that they could be directed by actors and playwrights alike. There is not much for a director to do just to make sure that actors are following the script and character development.

On the ending note, even though “Period of Adjustment” lost this round by points, I should say that this play is as great as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and should be produced more often, maybe just with a few edits.

And now the juicy “flying” sentences for you.

“Period of Adjustment”

Ralph Baitz: The human heart could never pass the drunk test. Take a human heart out of a human body, put legs on it and tell it to walk a straight line, and it couldn’t. The heart could never pass a drunk test.

Ralph Baitz: Who remembers the last war? They’re too busy on the next one.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

[George takes a corner far too fast, tossing everyone in the car from side to side. Pause]
Martha: Aren’t you going to apologize?
George: Not my fault, the road should’ve been straight.
Martha: No, aren’t you going to apologize for making Honey throw up?
George: I didn’t make her throw up.
Martha: What, you think it was sexy back there? You think he made his own wife sick?
George: Well, you make me sick.
Martha: That’s different.

Martha: I swear, if you existed, I’d divorce you.

George: Martha, in my mind you’re buried in cement right up to the neck. No, up to the nose, it’s much quieter.

George: Martha is 108… years old. She weighs somewhat more than that.

George: Martha, will you show her where we keep the, uh, euphemism?

Nick: Who did the painting?
George: Some Greek with a mustache Martha attacked one night.
Nick: It’s got a…
George: Quiet intensity?
Nick: Well, no, a…
George: Well then, a certain noisy relaxed quality maybe?
Nick: No, what I meant was…
George: How about a quietly noisy relaxed intensity?

George: You can sit around with the gin running out of your mouth; you can humiliate me; you can tear me to pieces all night, that’s perfectly okay, that’s all right.
Martha: You can stand it!
George: I cannot stand it!
Martha: You can stand it, you married me for it!

Nick: May I use the… uh… bar?
George: Oh, yes… yes… by all means. Drink away… you’ll need it as the years go on.

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Reality Check

A Spoonful of Sugar or My Four Dollar Story

We all need some sugar in our lives, but sometimes we have no money to buy at least a few spoons of it. This entry is about times when we find ourselves in a dark place.

I have no fucking idea how to write about this topic and my temperamental “t” is still stuck on my keyboard as if saying: “I got your “t” so where is your sugar?” Ha ha, it would be funny if it would be funny, but…

I am here to tell you a story. I was debating if I should write about my dark times, but Plastikoff would not be Plastikoff if he would not use the drama in his life for a good cause.

Yes, my darlings, yours truly Plastikoff was quite in a ditch last week. The feeling of uncertainty lasted way too long. I got fed up with all this bitterness. I needed some sugar in my life.

I am not really sure what was the main reason why I was feeling the way I was feeling. It could be that my extensive drinking had something to do with it, or it could be that I made some stupid mistakes while being under the influence and was not thinking about the consequences I would face the next day (who wants to think about consequences when they are having fun anyway, who?). But it happened so that I found myself not only financially but also emotionally broke.

This is not an entry for people who are looking for somebody to tell them how to behave or what to do when depression strikes, no, and believe me, I am the last one who calls depression “depression,” but it happened so that the darling one hit me in my balls, or at least I thought that these were my balls (smiley face). Suddenly everything went dark, or maybe that was the bulb of my table lamp that got busted, I don’t know, I can’t tell it now. It’s eight o’clock in the morning when I write these words. I am drinking coffee. Ha, that’s right, yours truly is not drinking Port at this hour, but is enjoying the bitter taste of black beverage which makes my fingers type as fast as I can and my ass run to the bathroom every five minutes. And where is all this water coming from? But back to the topic.

Darlings, to speak about depression is quite depressing (I can’t find a better word for it) so I am just going to tell you what made my dim table lamp turn into a bright winter’s sun in a flick.

That’s right, my darlings, I might have accepted for myself that being involved with anything arts is a waste of time and that I might never get anywhere close to be rich to afford to buy a house with a garden, I might. Well, that’s what some people might want me to think and I think that got me last week. Yes, I might be a walking cliché, a starvin’ Marvin O’Farts, but there is always a reason why I am here and why some things happen to us.

I want to make sure you understand that I might be joking about things like depression or suicide, but those things are not funny. The way I deal with topics like that is my way of communicating my feelings to myself. I don’t think that there are many of you who want to read about people I knew who ended their lives before their time? I don’t think there are, because… well there is no “because.” It is what it is, but there is always something that each of us need to figure out for ourselves to be able to continue with living.

I realize that this entry is not as funny as I wanted it to sound, well, hello, the subject, what do I expect?

Last week I found myself not to be able to afford living. I am pretty sure you had one of those days too. I would think that being without money should not scare me much since I grew up during the biggest economical depression in post Soviet times. We had to learn how to survive on a few pounds of sugar per month which you could only buy if you had a special piece of whatever paper indicating that you are a human. You’d say, well this is not a big deal, who needs pounds of sugar per month for their tea anyway?

Having enough sugar is a big deal when you have a garden bursting out with all this harvest as we had in my family. Yeah, it was quiet depressing to hear my mom say that we cannot afford to make preserves from our garden full of fruits and berries, because there is not enough sugar for that.

Thankfully that time has passed. We knew what starvation was. We read books about the Leningrad (Saint Petersburg now) blockade during the WWII. A little deficiency of sugar didn’t let us down, but tough us how to deal with situations like that.

Last week my phone got disconnected because I had no money to pay for services. I was behind my rent and with two carrots in my fridge. I found myself completely shut from the external world. I was not even sure if I had enough money on my Metro card to go to a possible work which I could miss because of my phone. I had twenty one dollars in my wallet and four dollars and forty nine cents in my bank account. They were not enough to cover my forty dollars phone bill.

First of all I was not able to get those four dollars and whatever cents from my bank account because it had to be a least twenty dollars available to do the transaction. My fear got my heart going and my balls dropped and got trapped somewhere in between my knees and a hole in my long johns. It seemed that there was no way for me to do anything about the situation. Even though everything looked dark on a bright winter’s day I knew that there should be a way to get out of this situation (maybe I just needed to buy a new bulb for my table lamp, maybe?). 

After a long discussion with myself I decided that I needed to pass by the place where I pay for my phone. I went inside thinking maybe I could somehow ask them for a credit of some sorts, I don’t know, something. I looked at the table inside of the store and saw an offer which made all the difference in the world. The offer said that I could get my phone back for twenty five dollars. Boom, I received a message from whoever is manipulating our lives that everything is going to be okay, but, there was one “but,” I was still missing those four dollars that were frozen in my bank account. I needed to get somehow those four dollars out of my bank before they charge ten dollars for holding those four dollars for me.

This is what happened next: I went to the bank, deposited sixteen dollars and took a twenty out. Boom, I had a nice twenty five dollars in my wallet and forty nine cents in my bank. My mood jumped and I was back.

So my dear darlings I wanted to share this with you, because we all need to figure out for yourselves how to get those four dollars from our accounts, be it for a bus ticket or some sugar to bake some cookies. The challenge is always there and it always has a purpose. Share your four dollar stories here. I want to hear how you got back from your dark place and how you have managed to retrieve those four dollars for your future.

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Re-Views

“her” or a Hipster Love Story without Scarlett Johansson’s English Muffins

Okay my dear darlings, Plastikoff is in a rear mood today, thaz right he is rearing his rear into direction which, maybe, is rather to avoid, but… he wouldn’t be Russian if he would avoid naming things the way they really are. Yes, thaz right, Plastikof is going to give you a piece of his mind or, should I say, a piece of his ass (smiley face).

As always as it happens, the best thoughts come to me when I least expect them, so, I was having sex last night in the City and caught myself thinking about “her.” Yeah, I know it’s a little confusing: sex, “her.” Was there somebody else I was envisioning while deep breathing with the person I was with?

I know, I know, you still don’t know a lot about Plastikoff but bear with him, it is going to get more confusing hence of his drinking, but, if not of that drinking, he would not be able to say things he wants to say to you. (Somehow it is so freeing to speak about myself in third person. You should try that too.)

So, alright, I was watching this film by Spike Jonze the other night in a movie theater on 14th street in Manhattan and got completely freaked out, like “The Blair Which Project” freaked out and, if you know me, you know that I don’t freak out easily. This film made me feel like I wanted to crawl under my seat, hug my Teddy bear and call for my daddy while sucking somebody’s toe. Yeah, a big hairy daddy with big toes would have been perfect, but hence I was surrounded by hipsters in love or at least that’s what they made me to believe, I felt like my life was going to end there and then. Brrrrr… That was not a happy thought, my darlings, not a happy thought.

Apparently, while contemplating about my big daddy’s toe, I have hit somebody’s chair, by accident, mind you, a couple of times. Well, I was putting my coat on the floor for my future fetal position, just in case I felt like it’s time for me to crawl and emergency hide under it. What came at me next was a true nightmare. I was “nicely” asked to cut it of, because…

Oh whatever, this self absorbed bitch, yes, thaz right, I said it, “a-self-absorbed-bitch-who-believed-that-with-her-ticked-she-bought-the-whole-freaking-theater” let me know that she doesn’t appreciate my being behind her and since I, by accident, mind you again, hit her chair a few times, she threw at me this “die-right-now-you-who-is-not-from-Williamsburg” look and went back to her “casual” talk with her friend via texting on her phone.

Suddenly I, ze Plastikoff himself, realized that this bitch was pretending to like this film about people falling in love with computers. How can it possibly be that this freshly-backed-in-the-nuclear-waste-of-Williamsburg, a transplant from some land of ze US I don’t know about was not paying attention to the love story of a man with a high waist crotch, how?

Thankfully I was hearing that raspy Scarlett Johansson’s voice which made me loose my gay cool and scream at the screen like some kind of drunken affectionado who just finished counting his “organic” chicken on a rooftop somewhere in Rooklyn. (I think I was going for something in Spanish there, but what came out of me was a mix of undefined street slang that is only known to me: “oh betch, you better work that script, nominated for an Ascar. Ah-hummm thaz right, we know iz you, you sexy beast. Show us your titties. Talk to me as if your humangas want to have that sweet love of mine.” (I have no idea where that came from and why I decided to keep this wordy diarrhea here.) I was not sure if I was surrounded by the right crowd for this type of appreciation of actress’s work, so I screamed inside of me, mind you. I felt that the bitch in front of me was watching every move of mine. I was ready to get to my fetal position under my coat on the floor anytime now.

Because of this pressure from the one in front of me I started looking for a reason, any reason for that mater, why I was there and what the duck was going on on the screen. Not finding any answer to my why the theater was full of hipsters and why there were no Scarlett boobs (pun intended) shown on the screen I realized that it must be raining in Alaska. I had to put myself together and give all my concentration to the film.

What was the point behind all those long talky-shmalky scenes without Scarlett’s boobs, I asked myself? I lost my gay-three-snaps-and-a-twirl, let me tell ya. There wasn’t even a little glimpse of any boob in the film, for that matter, as I remember, or was there? I guess I was too involved with thinking about that daddy’s toe which would have saved me from the movie theater full of hipster love. Oh God, I am getting tense only by thinking about the situation I was in. Let me have a sip of whatever is next to me in my glass right now. I think I got carried away a little with all that talk about boobs.

So, as you see, I was having a “fantastic hipster” time until… No, no, I am not kidding, I did “try” to have a great time, but for some reason my version of a great time had that spill-of-my-drink-on-that-bitch’s-head the whole freaking time I was listening to Johansson’s voice. This is what “romantic” comedies do to me. I want to (said in a soft voice) hurt people. They are just oh too happy and… bam, bam, bam… sorry, I got myself carried away by those “happy” thoughts of… well okay, we are here not to discuss what makes me happy, I am Russian, for God’s sake, tragedy is my comedy and horror is my life.

So alright, the film made me realize that I have become that mushy bearded hipster watching films about people doing nothing but playing computer games. Oh what a lovely notion to think that there is nothing more important than to talk to your computer and wear those pastel colors indicating that the people in the future are definitely not wearing make-up, because that would clash with those hipster Instagram filters used on the film itself.

I got hungry, let me tell ya. I thought about food while watching those oh so pale actors on the screen. Because of this pale sickness coming from the screen I realized that there are no dark skinned people in the future. Was there something in the food that made everyone so pale? Wait, and what exactly were they eating there? Well, I guess they were just popping those happy pills that make them full of… God, I needed a drink, but I had left my water bottle with two weeks long residue of alcohol at home thinking that… apparently I was not thinking, otherwise that bottle would have been with me the whole freaking time. Damn you overpriced movie theaters with soft drinks only! Even the effing drinks are soft there. Ugh!

So, alright, what is the point of this entry, you ask me? I used one thousand two hundred and sixty nine words here… Oh ef it, there is no point in it. “her” is a scary film about bullshit people who talk with computers instead of each other and … it has no boobs!

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Litter-Rat-U’r[in]e

Unusual Books for the Nooks (And Crannies in Your Life)

Now this is a list of books I want to read!
Take it away Little Miss Menopause!

P.S. Don’t forget to read her “Who’s Writing This Quirkiness?” page. You will thank me later ;)!

Once Upon Your Prime

Disclaimer: This topic has no author turning over in his grave. It’s all in fun.

Let’s turn “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” into “If You Give Your Spouse Some Nookie.” I think books should grow with us as we age. I don’t want to keep packing up my beloved classic children’s literature into cardboard boxes to be rummaged through by sticky hands at garage sales for a quarter. Any writer expecting to have their children’s book become a Classic AND sustain a permanent place on our bookshelves needs to offer an intriguing 2nd Half-Of-Life version. We are no longer wearing footie pajamas and reading in our bean-bag chairs. Now we’re donning housecoats (what IS that type of apparel for, anyhow?) and reclining in our Barcalounger chairs.

In that spirit, here are some new “Grown-Up” Title modifications and a few of my recommendation notes to the Author.

SELF-HELP SECTION

View original post 538 more words

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Litter-Rat-U’r[in]e

Did I just Eat a Murakami Cat?

Inspired by Haruki Murakami, his cats and maybe my roommate has something to do with all of this.

Well my dear darlings, I don’t know what happened here and why you were not reading my wonderful passage I wrote about E. Nokrošius just a few days ago, I just don’t know and, I guess, I will never know. Even thought I might pretend that I don’t care about things of that nature, but I do care and it hurts me so much that I want to grab another gallon of my favorite Port (of course it has to be my favorite Port, what else?) and have it down to the very last drop right at this moment. Drown that sadness Mr. Plastikoff, drown it!

That’s right, I am definitely going to do that… as soon as I have these seventeen dollars and forty cents to spare, of course, but for now, I guess, I will just have to write something about cats and be sad.

You are probably surprised (or at least I want to think that you are) and are asking yourself, why cats? Well, my darlings, there are a lot of people who love cats, so since they do love them, I have to write about them, right? Oh bullocks, I am just a little too emotional right now and there is a reason why (no, I am not allergic to cats, no, just probably a little verklempt (you really need to read this drunk, it’s more enjoyable this way. There is a reason why I am releasing all this gas on a Friday afternoon) (smiley face)).

It might be that I have inhaled way too much of that smoke which came out from that tea pot my roommate left unattended for a few hours on the stove and almost burned this whole damn house down. Could it be that? Yes, it could be.

The smell of burned hair is still lingering around me like some kind of esoteric mist that you spray around to make all these daemons disappear.

I have a suspicion though that it could be that my roommate might have cooked that poor cat which was looking through our kitchen window the other day, sitting peacefully on the fire escape. It could be that, yes, it could be. This definitely would explain that burned hair smell around the apartment. I hope that this is not the case, because otherwise how am I going to write about the cat today when I have no immediate inspiration looking at me as if I am some kind of head of a smoked fish I ate a week before on Brighton Beach. Could it be that? Yes, it could be.

Now why the duck a cat I want to write to you about today, why? Well, my dear darlings, I do not know. What I do know though is that somehow I need to get your attention, because, you know, I am an attention whore, why would I work in theater otherwise for, a cute smiley face? I don’ think so.

If you would have read my previous entry, you would already know how I feel about this Lithuanian cat Nekrošius, who is more of a tiger, if you ask me. I am still afraid to meet him though. I am scared that he might bite me (pun intended) and I might lose all the motion in my, let’s say, left hand. Brrrr…

This is quite, what’s the word for it, horrific? No, that is not the word I want to use here, but whatever. Nobody wants to lose their left hand to anybody unless… hmmm, the cat is definitely not around anymore. That is a little too suspicious…

So, alright, cats, cats, cats and the theater. What kind of connection do they have? Oh God, I am going to have a really hard time naming this entry. Good luck with not sounding like some crazy Russian who just ate a cat and have forgotten about it the minute he did it.

Yes, I am crazy and who wouldn’t be considering that I have chosen theater as my carrier. Darlings, I get it, working in theater is equals being homeless, yes, I get it, but I am not that crazy yet that I would forget about the cat I just ate. Too many “that’s” on this page, if you ask me. Hmmm, I have a weird feeling in my stomach all of a sudden.

Well alright, I guess I will need to ask my roommate about that last meal he invited me to taste just before that fire broke down. I sense a Shakespearean plot brewing, but moving on…

As with all of my genius entries which have no particular place or need to be on the almighty Internet it happens so that I give you some valid information at the end of my jumbo-mumbo every time I talk. You might not realize that, but I do.

You, most likely, will never need to use that “valid information,” because, you know, even though I like sharing, I share only things that are more convenient to me. Would I be sharing information about how to get rich? I don’t think so. It’s all a secret, even to me, so ride the subways as I do, when, of course, I have those two dallas and fity cents fo a ride. God gracious, that’s almost the prize of two bagels and a coffee…

Sharing is carrying, you must understand that, unless you are a cat, of course, then a smoked fish head sounds more appealing to you than some guys ranting about things that matter only when you are alone, surrounded by the smoke and think that your roommate wants to smoke you alive because you dropped a few water drops on the kitchen counter (true story)… oh wait, no wonder I feel like eating myself. I smell like that smoked fish. Let’s just hope those cats can’t… oh damn you Murakami.

But anyway, what is that “valid information” I want to share with you, my dears? Oh that’s right, books that you should read before you are smoked out from your apartments by your roommates. These books below all have talking cats and are just… well read it and let’s talk about them.

So here they are:

Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”

Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” and

Definitely something by Edward Gorey

Here is a little clip to spice things up. We all know how we like some youbty clips do go with those words. I present you Gorey and, of course, his cat:

Oh and to those theater fans, Grotowski used cats as examples for actors to watch, but about it at another time. I need to make sure my neighbor’s cat is still alive.

Have a pussy day, or should I say a weekend, my darlings. And what is this here on my plate? An eyeball? Should I faint for a dramatic effect now or should I leave it for tomorrow? Oh whatever (faints)!

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Theater Farts, Unsolicited Solicitations

Running after Nekrošius’s Nose

Okay my dear darlings, I finally got home from my night of smoked fishing on Brighton Beach. Let me tell ya, those stray cats were ready to eat me alive there. I never knew that there were so many of them running around. I guess neighborhood restaurants are doing great in these times of hunger, since there is no need for that specific cat meet on the market.

But let me leave the cat meat for another entry. Maybe it will be more appropriate to talk about its tenderness while discussing the differences between Bulgakov’s cat Begemot in his “Master and Margarita” and Sharik of his “Dog’s Heart,” who knows? This could be quite an interesting subject to discuss considering that people love cats and dogs. And shhhhh… (whispers) sometimes they eat them without knowing that they are actually doing it.

But these are not the things I want to talk with you about on this pre-winter-vertex night of cozy dreams, no. Suddenly (well not so suddenly, but okay, I’ll leave it here for the suspense’s purpose) I got this need to tell you about my biggest influences of my life.

There are a few directors in Lithuania who made this country boy fall in love with all things theater. These directors not only changed how I see theater now but also they were able to influence the future theater audiences and audiences alike.

Going to theater in Soviet countries at that time when I was growing up was equals to being educated and intelligent. If you haven’t seen one or another production everybody was talking about, you were not interesting enough to be invited to parties. So, yeah, people saw a lot of theater in these times of red and sickle and yes, most of it was really good.

Okay, so there is this Lithuanian theater director Eimuntas Nekrošius who changed a lot about Lithuanian theater, right. There are books written about him. Funny, but he is probably more popular in Italy than in Lithuania though. Why is it so, don’t ask me that, because the point is not about being popular. The point is that he was one of those directors who revolutionized theater arts.

The breaking point in Nekrošius carrier happened when he put a production of “Uncle Vanya” in 1986 on one of Lithuanian’s most famous stages. With this production he completely changed how classics were put on the stage.

Well, of course, when I say to you things like that out of the blue they mean nothing to you. You say, who cares about some theater in some Eastern European country nobody knows about, and why suddenly we should care about it?

…and you are right. There is nothing for you to care about, because firstly there is almost no way to see that production today and secondly, why should I care about you carrying? The change is understood only when it is physically lived and emotionally experienced live.

Well, my dear darlings, Nekrošius introduced to the audiences another way of “reading” classics. Classic plays became relevant again. Nekrošius got rid of heaviness of Naturalistic Theater by having the form speak the text. Naturalistic Theater became very boring. Director’s Theater started growing in popularity.

Of course saying that Nekrošius invented another type of theater is the same as saying that Madonna invented Vogueing. The change in theater was happening way before Nekrošius put that famous “Uncle Vanya” on the stage.

My theater revolution happened when I saw Nekrošius’s Nose. Well, it was something else I saw on the stage, not the actual nose of Nekrošius, you understand that, of course? Nekrošius adapted Gogol’s “The Nose” making the nose a character which represented another organ on a male body which is to this day dangling in between legs if not supervised.

It was a show about an organ men keep in their pants most of the time. In Nekrošius’s case it was out and about in the open revealing some facts about the Soviet culture. With this production it was obvious that Nekrošius was exposing way more than the organ itself.

The Nose became that simpleton intelligentsia was embarrassed to talk about. I still remember that famous scene where the character of Nose and Major Kovalyov, the character whose “nose” was cut off, went to the theater. The simpleton Nose watched a performance and absorbed it through his simpleton’s brains. He was reacting through his baser instincts watching ballerinas perform a classical dance. Ballerinas by the end of their performance were wearing heavy soldier boots instead of pointe shoes and dancing Can-Can to Nose’s entertainment. They were being groped by whom else but Nose himself after he got bored sitting in one place. Fun times, I say!

This production of “The Nose” was an absolute genius. No wonder that after it Nekrošius kind of disappeared from theater. Was he afraid that he would not be able to top his nose (pun intended) with anything else? We will, most likely, never know.

The audiences were waiting for Nekrošius’s next production as thirsty cats for that milk. Nekrošius released Pushkin’s “Little Tragedies” after “The Nose”…

…there is still that one production nobody will ever see, because it never reached audiences. It only stayed in rehearsals.

Nekrošius was rehearsing “Carmen” after releasing his “Little Tragedies” which won him a National Prize as the Best Director of the Year. Something happened with him during that period. He was not able to finish “Carmen” even though everyone was constantly talking about it.

Later we learned that Nekrošius went to rest his genius in a house nobody is proud to talk about in Lithuania. I don’t think anybody knew if Nekrošius really went to a crazy house or not, but those were the details that made my mind spin. Who doesn’t want to hear stories like that? These stories about genius artists need to be overly dramatic. We are talking theater here, so of course normal equals boring.

What came out of him after his “retreat” was absolutely mesmerizing and breathtaking. His “Hamlet” and “Three Sisters” completely shut the doors to the old ways of reading and performing any play in Lithuania’s theaters. I believe that there was no actor who didn’t want to work with Nekrošius at that time. Yes, I was one of those actors too, but don’t mention that to Nekrošius. I am still planning on playing that soldier in that play by that author (smiley face).

More importantly there were stories going around about how Nekrošius worked with his actors. We saw with our own eyes how actors spent their most famous scenes under dripping ice cube chandeliers, or under coffins, hanged above their heads, full of heavy stones dropping to the ground, or trapped inside of huge rugs from which was no way to escape. These stories were as entertaining as productions itself. They were very physical and oh so good.

This is an image from “Macbeth” where boulders were falling down while Kostas Smoriginas as Macbeth was acting on the stage:

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Nekrošius’s Hamlet played by Andrius Mamontovas had to get his dagger from a huge frozen ice cube:

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He had to stand with a shirt made out of paper under a dripping chandelier made from actual steal saws and ice cubes in his “to be or not to be” scene. Here are some excerpts from “Hamlet” with Mamontovas:

It was magic. No, Nekrošius was not using some tricks or gimmicks to make audiences gasp, no. Nekrošius was removing Shakespearean text and making it speak through the actions of actors and visuals, so you “heard” the text while listening to those drops dripping on Hamlet’s back revealing his “naked” soul.

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Of course there were many audience members who couldn’t understand what was going on in front of their eyes. Many of them complained that Nekrošius was way too symbolic and “too cold” because of that symbolism.

The thing is that you really needed to know those plays before going to see his productions. That’s why it became a must to read those classics before going to see how those classics Nekrošius interpreted.

Thankfully, because of the almighty Internet, you all can see a few clips from his productions. There are a few of my all time favorites there. Get familiar with them and I promise you, you will never read another Shakespearean play the way you used to.

Nekrošius is a director of form. He directs a human body on the stage in such a way that the body becomes that medium between the text and the audience. The form and what an actor does is more important for Nekrošius than what an actor says with the text. Nekrošius is very specific about what and how props and sets work in conjunction with a human body. He is very good at finding where to place objects on the stage and finding that certain movement for actors to express the text to the fullest. He marries the form with the text and an actor is that connection.

Nekrošius uses familiar objects to create new meanings for them. He selects what needs to be used with uncanny precision.

Othello used houseplants and pots to create a grave for Desdemona after killing her. Here is that scene:

But my favorite from his “Othello” is a scene where Desdemona is saying goodbye to Othello. Nekrošius chose a prima ballerina, Eglė Špokaitė, to play Desdemona confirming to me that he chooses movement and form over acting and text. Here is that clip which still gives me shivers and goosebumps:

You can catch Nekrošius’s productions around Europe for sure. Here is a link to his theater’s website:

Meno Fortas

If Nekrošius comes to your town, do yourself a favor, go and see his work, but, of course, read those plays beforehand.

Yes, you might find yourself completely lost during his productions, but believe me, those productions will stick with you for a long time. You might figure them out much later than you thought you would. Be prepared to sit in a chair for three or four hours. It might be long but it will be worth it! Have a drink before hand and you should be fine dissecting all this beauty on the stage.

To say that Nekrošius hasn’t influenced me is the same as saying that I’ve never sang in the shower. Do I sing in the shower? I guess you will never know, unless I get a glass of Port and reveal it to you with gross details sometime later. I am going to leave you with that open, never ending nose. Take your time catching it, but catch it while it is still around!

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Theater Farts

Gone Fishing or Something about Stalin

Well okay my dear darlings, I have to write this entry in a subway car as some kind of alternative-ass-writing artist. It’s late, alright, and I got drunk in the city, so sue me. I haven’t had my Port for quite some time now, so whatever you say, I do not care. I just got abused by a drag queen, kissed by somebody I was and I think still am attracted to, so, of course, I am drunk, what do you expect me to be after spending the night surrounded by all these high heels on the rocks, I mean… oh never mind… This should be a perfect time for me to write all those five reasons why you should wear heels at least once in your lifetime, but I won’t be doing that, because, my dears, I just got some Mexican musicians entertain my loneliness in this subway car, and… And what the heck are they doing here, at this hour, singing in a subway? Oh wait, it’s already New Year and I believe it’s bright outside. So, of course, it must be another day. So my dears, I will just get another sip from my strategically covered water bottle which holds a residue of some kind of alcohol, but I digress saying that. And I digress not because I am drunk at 9AM on a Monday morning, no. I digress because the alcohol I am drinking right now is not alcohol anymore; I am pretty sure about that. It tastes as some kind of weirdly flavored liquid that came out from those ice cubes I got into my drink just before I left that place I had to leave many hours before I got myself this unbelievably drunk. Wait, what is that? A finger nail? Oh whatever, I will just pretend that it’s a cherry in my drink, but enough about it. There are many more important things to discuss here, like, for example, world hunger or what dress one or another celebrity wore at one or another Globe or whatever they’re called now.

Alright, Plastikoff decided to ride this train to the very end, just because he suddenly realized that he needs some smoked fish that goes perfectly well with all this drunken debauchery. And you can get that particular smoked fish on Coney Island only. Why only there? I do not know. Maybe because the ocean is right there if suddenly you feel very adventurous after eating that fish.

Okay, I got the fish and I poured another glass of Port into my water bottle just because I can. Mondays are dark in theaters, so I don’t feel guilty drinking at this hour. Got it? Good.

The alcohol level in my system is high enough to be able to speak about serious art and when I say that, I really mean it. To understand the Russian soul you really need to get drunk to the point that you don’t remember yourself. And when you don’t remember yourself, you remember things that matter the most. There was a reason why Stalin made all of his ministers drunk at his parties. He would listen to them. Some of them, of course, would not show up at the next party or anywhere else for that matter, because, my dears, Stalin would make them disappear as that smoke on an early morning blown by the wind and I am not talking about that kind of smoke you smoke your fish in. In Vino Veritas, that’s right, and for most of them that “veritas” ended up in Siberia. And why the heck I am speaking about Siberia all of a sudden? Is this because its winter and I feel quite cold sitting here all by myself on Brighton Beach? Or is it that there is something else I want to tell you about the Russian soul?

Now why my dear darlings am I bubbling so much about drinking, Stalin and Siberia you’d ask? Well because that was the time when theater in Soviet countries was booming. This was the time when the greatest theater traditions were born.

Since everything was censored greatly and there was literally no book in press that would not use a quote from Marx or Engels, yes, that’s true, a quote had to be included somewhere in the beginning of any book going to press otherwise it would be not released, artists were becoming very creative about how and what they wanted to say to their audiences. People started looking for alternative ways of getting information they were missing because of the censorship. Artists during that time began learning how to speak and create “in codes.” Nothing would get passed through Soviet censorship, you know that already. It’s almost like in today’s United Sates where every camera on your computers is regulated by that invisible man who oh so wants to get into your naked business. Why else would you use your camera for? (Smiley face?)

But returning to the Soviet times, there were, of course, certain authors that would not pass the censorship even with those quotes, but this entry is not about them. We are talking about theater now. There were theater directors who put a classic play (let’s say something Shakespearean) with some hidden messages in it critiquing the Soviet regime. This is where a tradition of a theater-director-who-was-able-to-tell-something-else-“in code”-while-putting-up-a-much-known-play-at-the-time was born. People flocked to theaters to watch those shows and “read” those hidden messages inside performances. People literally had to wait in line over night in freezing cold to get those tickets to see one or another play. Tickets were sold out the very first day of the month when theaters would release those seats for sell. If you missed that first day, you had to wait for another month to see one or another production. If you were lucky, you were able to snatch a ticket for a show which would happen sometime at the end of the month. Those tickets, most likely, were for standing-in-the-isle “seats” only. This was the time when Director’s Theater was born. A director was the story teller, the stage was his/her canvas/book and audiences came to see what a director wanted to say to them about the situation they were living in.

What happened next with theater in Soviet countries and why you most likely will hear a director’s name attached to a production there first, I am going to discuss in my later entries when I am less drunk and not as cold as I am right now. For some reason I am still entertaining an idea of a winter swim in the ocean, but let me get that fish eaten first before my neighborhood cats realize what’s happening here.

The fish is done but for some reason I still feel like I need to add something before I get completely surrounded by those cats. I will just say blatantly, today is a perfect time for the United States to catch up on all that lost time when Director’s Theater was cultivated in those Soviet countries “everybody” here still calls Russia. I am going to elaborate about it a little bit more in other entries but for now I am leaving you with this fishy smell. Tah-dah

Should I still go for a swim?

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