Random Thoughts on Travel

  • The Eastern seaboard is never dark – a skein of lights runs along it, always visible. Islands of dark rather than islands of light.
  • Airports–as well as railway stations–are always somewhat erotic to me. I think because they are a liminal space, and they contain the potential for a kind of casual intimacy, or, as Sondheim put it “moments in the woods.” Not that I’ve ever had one of those moments.
  • The best thing about having your own TARDIS would be the ability to travel and have your home surrounding you at the same time.
  • Whenever I am flying at night, I always hope to see a UFO.
  • I’m always disappointed that I don’t have major revelations when listening to slightly obscure but hip music while staring out a plane/bus/train window and watching the world go by. I mean, those moments are always so revelatory in the movies!
  • Do not try to fly from Newark to Greenville/Spartanburg SC. Your flight will be cancelled. Twice. And you’ll have to go into/out of Columbia SC anyway, so you might as well book your flight there to start with.

Creative Gifts

My friend Sandro posted a while ago about a “no buy” Christmas, and just recently reposted with an update. I have also tried to limit my purchases and get creative with my gift giving this year. There were the mix cds I made for my parents (actually, I have been making those for my folks for years now and my Mom would never forgive me if I didn’t make one for her!) as well as my cousin’s husband (who I have in this years same-generation gift lottery). I also made a series of “thank you” cards for my grandparents. l didn’t end up buying nothing . . . but almost all of my purchases were used books (and I’m really happy with the books that I found for my mom, dad and grandparents) or subscriptions to services or donations to charity. I was stumped on my brother’s eight year old step-daughter and ended up spending money on Amazon but it will hopefully be fun and educational.

Joya and I are giving tickets to shows or dinners out to each other this year, although we may end up giving a small something or other. Without those tickets or dinner included, I definitely stayed under $100 dollars this year.

In the spirit of sharing, I thought I would actually post the thank you cards I made for my grandparents here for anyone else to either use as thank you cards or give as gifts. They are designed for the “half-fold” card stock and to be printed on both sides, so depending on your printer you may have to do all one side and then all the other, but I hope you enjoy.

Thank You 1

Thank You 2

Thank You 3

Whatever you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate anything at this time of year, I do hope that you find the time to relax with friends for family and are able to enjoy the richness of people who love and care about you. ‘Cause that’s the really important

Sorry, was going all Hallmark there for a minute . . . actually, while the sentiments may be true, you certainly don’t need to hear them from me. So, go read my Zombie Play instead. It’ll be fun for the both of us. 😉

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Jeopardy Sells Out?

Is it just me or is Jeopardy become a haven for product placement these days? They had an entire category based on some film I’d never heard of . . . The Bucket List. Then, the answer to the final clue was “Pringles.” The other day there was some category that raised the same question in my mind. Anyone else notice this trend?

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Review: Canon Pixma MX700

 Cnwk.1D Sc 32590817-2-300-Ovr-1 It’s been a long time since I’ve invested any but the most minimal amount of money in a printer. And, as a result, I have spent the past several years dealing with my printers instead of simply using them. The other night, I got fed up with the HP PSC 1510 All-In-One that I had bought sometime in the past year, through Craigslist, for $40. It goes through ink like a . . . printer hungry for ink, the flatbed scanner is slow and can’t scan-to-pdf directly . . . indeed, the scanner was mucho unhappio with Leopard in general. I had wanted to do a serious cleaning of the file cabinet by scanning old school papers, some old stories, etc. And I couldn’t.

So I spent a bunch of time online trying to figure out what printer to get that would give me the features I needed and at a price I could justify. The Pixma MX700 had it’s detractors, but seemed like it would get the job done and Staples had a rebate of $40 on it, so the total would come to $159. Seemed like a good deal, and I found myself remember my first color inkjet printer, an Epson of some model or other, and I think it was probably at least $200 and was only a printer. So I marched myself down to the Staples store, discovered that the rebate was only through a Website purchase, marched myself up to my apartment, did a bit more searching and found the Buy.com had the same printer, with free shipping, for only $134.

Score!

I ordered in Saturday . . . no, Sunday. It was here by Tuesday.

Setup: Basically, a breeze. Take the orange tape off all the various doors and trays, insert the printer head (a simple sliding in process), insert the print cartridges (one black, three separate colors and all came included with the printer). Plugged the usb cable into my MBP (running OS X 10.5), installed the drivers and software, set the printer up to operate over LAN, unplugged the usb and plugged the printer into one of the ethernet ports on my Airport Extreme. Finding the printer was pretty simply, as was finding the scanner. The first print job was crooked, so I had to manually adjust the print head – which is not so much manual as pressing a few buttons and comparing a sheet of printed squares to see which has the fewest white lines printed.

Use: Printing wireless is a peach. No problems so far and it’s great to be able to print from anywhere in the apartment. Downside is that there will be a tendency to leave the unit on all the time, which is not a good use of electricity. Scanning is a little twitching on my computer, and I had to download an updated scanner program because of Leopard. Sometimes when I push the scan button on the printer, it will think, attempt to scan, and then do nothing. But when it does scan properly, it’s fast and so convenient. The scanning program automatically creates a folder in your “Pictures” folder and saves scans based on date. With the HP the image folder was buried deep in the hierarchy of HP’s folders, so this is a much clearer and cleaner place to put the scans.

While I haven’t put it through any serious tests, I am very happy with it’s performance so far. I created some graphic intensive thank you cards tonight and the prints, while perhaps not the best in the world, are certainly good enough for my purposes. The layout of the printer itself is intuitive and I love the Auto Document Feature for scanning – can’t imagine going back to a regular flatbed scanner ever!

If you are in the market for a decent but inexpensive printer and want to take a few steps up from “cheap,” and if you want decent printing with very easy and convenient networking, I would recommend the MX700.

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New & Updated 10 Minute Plays

A new play and edits to two others. These are part of my “10 10 Minute Plays” project that I am in the midst of (currently just wrote 3 pages of play number four, tentatively titled “The Giant’s Head). One of the points to these plays is to write highly imaginative plays requiring a great deal of resourcefulness and ingenuity on the part of any director who chooses to stage them. I take exception to all of these short play festivals and contests that urge playwrights to remember that Festival _______ will have no money and no budget for sets so the writer needs to write simply, i.e. with a lack of imagination. As a producer and director, I understand the concerns about staging a series of short plays and the usual lack of money that makes intricate sets or costumes a problem. However, those realities should never shackle a writer’s imagination. It is the director’s job to figure out a way to stage even the most impossible of plays. It is the writer’s job to imagine worlds. To that end, I am deliberately attempting a series of plays that present various challenges to their very staging, especially in the context of most 10 minute play festivals. I am writing worlds that take an audience on a trip far, far away from the ordinary. In some instances I will have very concrete ideas on how a particular play might be staged with little or no money. In other instances, I haven’t the foggiest idea. What I do know is that, as a director, I prefer to direct plays that are difficult, plays that, on some level, I don’t understand and that, in order to understand them, I have to get some actors and designers and play out those difficulties in a number of ways until we run out of time and offer up the play to an audience. That offering is never the whole play, each performance is alway and only partial. But that is precisely where the magic and wonder of theatre lies: the liminal space between text and utterance, intention and mystification, performance and audience, desire and actuality.To that end, and in the order they were written:

Dancing Green Other Memories Mellon

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Think Different

Nyc 14Th A cold New York night. December. The line snaked city blocks. Feet cold. Bodies bushing and the smell of naked greed permeates the air: West 14th Street Apple Store Opening, December 7, 2007

The odds (percentages? probabilities? I’m a little fuzzy on the differences between the terms) were good to win something expensive like a Macbook or an iMac. But odds mean nothing in the moment you are handed a winning $10 iTunes gift certificate four hours of waiting, of feeling vaguely nauseous at your own capacity for greed, of promising yourself that, if you win you will go do at least four hours of community service at a soup kitchen or something like that . . . all of that means nothing when the boy smiles and says iTunes gift certificate like it means something.

“Are you excited,” he asks. I mumble something unintelligible, walk away.

I don’t even check out the store because I can’t afford to buy anything.

The people I am in line with are there for free stuff. So am I. Buy why? Why am I there I mean. I have a 6 month old Macbook Pro that is more than enough computer for my needs. I have a 60 gb iPod that, while it doesn’t hold all of my digital music and audio, certainly holds the bulk of it and is definitely all I need for even long trips. I don’t need a damn thing from an Apple Store. I hate crowds. I haven’t eaten much for lunch other than a couple of free donuts that were in the office kitchen. I stand in a crowd, cold and hungry for four hours. Why?

Odds. We all try to beat the odds. This cigarette won’t kill me. I can get through this yellow light before it turns. Nobody will notice if I skim a little of the top, if we use sub-par materials, if I cheat. Odds of a 24″ iMac are better than 1:2000. That’s freakin’ good odds on expensive stuff. And that’s why I am there. Trying to beat the odds. Get something for nothing.

Finally, we enter the store. Feet cold, nose running, head aching. Been needing to piss for about an hour. Pushed, crowded, watching people cut in line, ready and wiling to take advantage, to game the system. We enter the store and a dozen very cheery, very excited boys and girls–none older than 22 is my guess–are shouting, and clapping, and attempting high-fives, and shouting “thanks for coming.” Now, the interesting things is that their excitement is not fake. It is, on some level, genuine. But generic. Honest but not sincere. An excitement and welcome that is bright, shiny, plastic and disposable. All of it in the service of a retail store opening. A retail store for a corporation. A corporation that, despite making a number of products I like and use, operates and perpetuates a culture of materialism, disposable goods, exploitation (of both natural and human resources), and a style of capitalism that demands economic inequality for its very existence.

All that is true. But then again, nothing in language is ever all the truth. And the truth is that I do really like Apple products. I like their computers and their media player. I like much of their software and, let’s be honest, if I had walked out of there with a computer, hell, with an iPod Nano, I would never have written this account. I would have swallowed my dis-ease, my ethical questions would be forgotten and I would just have been psyched to have won something, to have gotten something for nothing. I would have sold, just a small portion of myself, perhaps even a microscopic potion, to the Gods of Cool New Gadgets & Computer Stuff. My purpose in waiting in line at the opening of the West 14th Street Apple store was narrow, selfish, vacuous and frivolous. My reward, a t-shirt, a poster and $10 gift certificate for iTunes actually, upon reflection, seems pretty appropriate, especially because the whole process has raised issues and questions about how I want to live my life and my relationship to stuff.

And just for the record: the t-shirt & poster are being given away to someone who responded to a Craigslist ad. Given away for free. The iTunes gift card will probably be given to someone in my family as a Christmas present this year because, after last night, I am going to be looking at the things that I own, or the talents that I have, or the things that I can make for holiday gifts instead of buying things. Next year, I hope to convince my Grandparents to forgo giving me things and, instead, make donations to charity on my behalf–I may or may not win that particular battle completely, we’ll see. I’m not really talking about going primitive or Luddite here. I’m more interested in readjusting, mentally, my relationship to the marketplace and hopefully to stop wanting so much, so stop seeing joy in a new toy or gadget. To step back from the emotional precipice that is today’s economy of manufactured desire and say, simply, “no.” Apple’s slogan was once “Think Different.” I think I’ll try that for a while.

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