look closely. think twice. cut once.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inspector Zelda All Knotted Up

Previously in the Adventures of Inspector Zelda...

Inspector Zelda shook her head in frustration. She would probably have shaken other things in frustration - her hands, her cup of pens, the walls ... but she was too mad at them to pay them any heed.

The knocking, which had seemed so promising of adventure, had turned out to be a maintenance man, stuck on the other side of the freight elevator. With the push of a button he was freed.

Now she sat alert in her desk chair, barely moving, barely breathing, waiting for the whiff, the twitch, the quiet shuffling step of a scandal.

But then ye olde clock chime app tolled on her smartphone, signalling that it was now time for her lunch break. With a grim smile, she shoved on her sneakers and made for the elevator bank when - WHAM! Inspector Zelda found herself facedown on the hard shiny black floor. Carefully, she twisted her spine until she could spy the culprit - an untied shoelace!

Inspector Zelda pulled the laces taut and tied them with ferocity. Double knots. Double power.

On with her day ...

to be continued ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Inspector Zelda's Loose Ends Become Looser

Previously in the Adventures of Inspector Zelda...

Inspector Zelda scowled at the horizon. That fog, that ghastly grotesque fog that had looked so promising in its sinister nature only the day before, now it was ... humdrum. Dull. Ordinary. She almost laughed to think that she had contrasted it not twenty-four hours earlier in her mind with the benign transparent blue-grey fog that now confounded her vision of Upper Manhattan in its banality. The clouds hung low over the upper limits of the fog, but even they were a cheerful puffy white - no threatening stormclouds.

Well, clearly the weather could look after itself.

Inspector Zelda once more prowled the hallways of her pristine district, sniffing out for any nefarious goings on. All seemed utterly lost, when ...

... was that a knocking?

Inspector Zelda quickened her pace, all senses alert.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inspector Zelda at Loose Ends

Inspector Zelda prowled the halls covertly. She was restless, at loose ends, uninspired. She had thought The Case of the Pen Bandit would be her big break, and that her door would be battered down with intriguing cases and clients vying for her services. She had thought the case would bring her the proper attention. Oh, it had brought her attention, all right. But not the sort she anticipated.

Inspector Zelda had been transferred from the dark-shadowed 28th floor full of questionable characters and lurking danger. She was now on one of the bright and shiny upper executive floors. Everything was bright. Everything was shiny. Too bright. Too shiny. It was like a street sweeper had been transferred to the pristine halls of a private hospital - there was nothing here for her to clean up.

Her covert prowlings brought her to one of the large picture windows gazing north onto the island of Manhattan. Even the view up here was cleaner than she was used to. But - wait - what was that looming haze? Inspector Zelda's unfocused glare sharpened as her mind cleared. A wide heavy haze was creeping down from the north of the island. Everything about it looked suspicious. It was an odd consistency, opaque and sickly yellow-green-grey; nothing like the clean translucent blue-grey fog that flavored the horizon preceeding or following a spring rain. No, this ... this fog was insidious. And it was approaching.

Inspector Zelda flung herself to the nearest detective station and logged on to the internets. There, she learned from the Book of Faces, as well as Bird Emissions, that this creepy sickly floating presence was making itself known not just in upper Manhattan, but as far off as Queens, Long Island, Westchester.

Inspector Zelda raised her eyes in horror. If it had spread to Westchester, who knew where else it might go?

To be continued ...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quoth the Puppets

So, dear bloggy blog, you've probably noticed I've been posting much less. One of the reasons is I'm now also ghost blogging (in the guise of WebSpider for Puppet Treehouse). Don't worry, you're still important to me! I'm just learning to balance the various directions of my writing.

Other distractions include having the book finally assembled and getting reader comments. Soon, gentle readers, soon!

But for now, here's a poem I wrote for Puppet Treehouse that I'm just obscenely inordinately proud of, which means you get to read it too. With full apologies to Mr. Poe, and in honor of the holiday (ALSO! If you want to hear our recorded podcast of the poem, follow the link at the top of the post to Puppet Treehouse):

Monday, October 3, 2011

Canadians make the best Acrobats - review of Traces

In the mood to see an innovative circus troupe with specialty acts, songs, stunts, ensemble dancing, and humor?

Don't bother with Cirque - see 7 Fingers's Traces, playing at the Union Square Theatre.

First off, what they have in common - they're both French-Canadian creations, and the founders of 7 Fingers are in fact Cirque alum. Both Cirque and 7 Fingers have acts with hoops, with ropes, with chairs, with poles. But 7 Fingers wanted to create circus work that they wanted to work on, and they wanted a more ensemble feel to the show - rather than having performers come on for ten minutes, do their thing, and then disappear until the curtain call, 7 Fingers performers are onstage nearly the whole time - if they're not participating in the current act, they are watching from chairs lining the back wall.

And ... dude. 7 Fingers is so much better.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jukebox Musicals: The Return to Old-School Broadway?

In ye olden Broadway days, the days of Gershwin, Berlin, Cohan, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter - in the glory days of Tin Pan Alley - Broadway musicals dictated the popular songs of the day. Especially prior to the collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein on Oklahoma!, which started the trend of integrating songs more thoroughly in character and plot, most showtunes of the early 20th century were generic enough in their relation to plot that they were easily extracted for a larger audience (and even almost frighteningly interchangeable within the show itself - as evidenced in film adaptations like Anything Goes or Babes in Arms, which rewrote plots entirely while maintaining the original score).

I hasten to add, before Jerome Kern takes a hit out on me, that these songs were well-written. Many of them are still considered classics, long after the shows originally containing them are forgotten and unrevived. [Did you know "The Lady is a Tramp" is from Babes in Arms, though it was inserted into the film Pal Joey? Did you know it was written for a woman? You did? Good for you, now go sit in the corner; I'm still talking] Other fun examples include "My Funny Valentine," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Night and Day," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," etc. These were good songs, these were popular successful songs, and they were written for the theater (these scribes also found success composing songs for film musicals as well, including hits like "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "The Way You Look Tonight."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Self-Editor's Lament

So I'm making progress on the planned book first germinated in this post: a collection of short stories, shorts, and other collected pieces. I went through the hard drive and email folders, dragging the lake for pieces new and old that might be workable. I assembled them all into one epic document, and then went through the patchwork-quilted monster, making the format uniform.

THEN I got to go through and proofread and fix some of the grosser Bad Writing that inevitably crops up. My next step was to print up the entire thing in quarter-size and shuffle and shuffle and shuffle, which took me back to mix tape days.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Gee, A girl named Zelda, this doesn't sound that bad. Why would you title this post with the word Lament? 'Whine whine whine I have to mix and match a bunch of stuff I've already written!' The hard part's over!" Or perhaps "Is it lunch time yet?"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gentle Musings on the Demonic Presence in my Apartment

I really don't like to jump to conclusions ("I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were." - Buffy), but I've been harboring suspicions for quite some time, slowing amassing evidence, and I think I can safely make some ridiculous claims with complete conviction.

I share a two-bedroom, tiny but not tiny-as-could-be, Manhattan apartment with flatmateMichael. It has a general common room that we have sectioned off into living room and kitchen, and a corridor decorated with tasteful black and white and grayscale photographs in black frames. And then there's the bathroom, which I am convinced in my heart of hearts is the reason we chose this apartment, as it is tiled - floor and walls - in black marblelite.

How could we know, sixteen months ago, that that very marbelite bathroom and its contents would now be the subject of my concern and scrutiny?

But finally, after much surveillance and experimentation, I have reached this conclusion: I suspect that a demon may be living in our pipes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sometimes You Just Gotta Rhyme

So ... my brain had an interesting day. And that manifested in my writing over twenty three-line poems for my friends. And then later getting into a disagreement with coworkerDaniel about Haikus versus Rhyming Poetry. The results are below.

Lisette has awesome hair and dresses.
Lisette will help you clean your messes.
Lisette also steals coffee presses.

Nicole works in disaster zones.
Nicole answers all the phones.
She bakes her bread from ground-up bones.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Forever Young

I just finished reading Pastoral by Nevil Shute, a quiet little romance set during World War II on a Royal Air Force base. It's an incidental story of several young pilots, a number of their bomber missions, fishing, and interactions with the WAAFs (the female branch of the RAF). It's not monumental - rather, it's about the small moments of pleasure and beauty several young people can find in the midst of a World War. It's a story that recognizes its own ordinariness (as the story concludes, we are told that nothing special has happened, a pilot is marrying a WAAF, that's all), but in its quiet detail, its stoic characters, and the importance placed on competence, honor, and dignity, it achieves a simple purity.

The majority of the characters are in their twenties - correction: early twenties. I sat there reading conversations among young men who considered the protagonist, Marshall, a old veteran pilot at the age of twenty-two, and marveled at the maturity of these fellows. Even ignoring the horror that I felt at realizing characters who seemed in my head to be emotionally in their thirties were in actuality younger than me - even ignoring that, the contrast between these characters and the college boys I knew is stark.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Speech My High School Will Never Ask Me To Give

(inspired by cousinTerra's attempts, at the ripe old age of 21, to give high school students tips about college life)

Well, here you are. You're done. You are done being slaves to the public school system and you're ready to go out and start running the world.

Some people say that high school is the best time of your life. If your teenage years have been anything like mine were, I bet you're twisting in hope that not only is that not true, but that it's a big flaming lie. Look, teenage years are rough. You're scared, you're changing, everyone has it in for you, and you're only just starting to become a person after having been a kid for so much of your life. And the problem with becoming a person is that makes you suddenly different from all the other newly-becoming-persons around you. And everyone else is just as scared as you are that everyone else will notice. High school ... does not make it easy for you to be you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Home: Hat-hanging and Picture-hanging

Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.
-A.E. Housman, "Home is the Sailor"

friendBrian, who has been studying in London for some time, is gearing up to head back to the States, and saddening at all the things he will miss, or never got round to, in his time there. But, in trying not to wallow, he reminded himself that "Life is a whole tapestry of things that are home." cue: A girl named Zelda's brain starts whirring.

When I was a wily young college student, I had a routine whenever I moved into a new dorm. It was called "attacking the walls." Okay, it was actually just me hauling out pictures that made me happy, either candid photographs, postcards of paintings, posters, or particularly pretty ads for plays that I like. I would then proceed to cover up nearly every inch of white with said pictures (speaking of tapestries). I always restricted said decorating to my half of the dorm room, and would leave space open, knowing I would continue to contribute to the collage as the year went on. It was my way of branding the room, making it mine, and declaring it home - at least for nine months. When May came back around, I would carefully remove all pictures and store them until I returned to campus in September.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I stepped where Herod stepped

My trip last week to Israel was about evenly divided between spending time with family and exploring various areas of the country. We were there only a week, which is not nearly enough time to see everything, but we had a good long day walking around the Old City of Jerusalem, we spent several hours at the antiquities in Ceasarea, and we wandered around the beach and city of Tel Aviv.

Caesarea's antiquities are based around a harbor that was built in Herod the Great's time - and include relics of construction from then and onward, including leftovers from the Romans - a circus for chariot races and an amphitheater that is still in use today. There are remnants of public baths and many different styles of mosaic floor, as well as columns and bits of walls fallen. The harbor itself was the largest artificial harbor of its time, and helped make the city a valuable asset.

bits of columns

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Israeli Pride

In the States, if you see a car with an American flag decal, or a house with a flag flying out front, and it's not a holiday, regardless of the owner's actual intent, you will frequently infer that the owner is either a late-to-the-game sentimentalist or a semi-crazed racist xenophobe. Or a politician running for office. It's not really fair. But patriotism in a post-9/11 United States has gotten a pretty dirty rep. Perhaps it's because the crazies are the most vocal, the most strident, and the most wanting-to-show-you-how-much-more-they-love-their-country-than-you-do. Or perhaps to imply that if you don't have a flag, you are probably a terrorist or at any rate a conspirator and should be deported. Or something equally nuts. And because it's ostentatious, because you doubt their honesty, (because you secretly hope they're not quite as insane as they appear), everything rings false, and even the flag starts to look like a lie in and of itself.

And the ones who actually do love their country - or at least the potential their country has - are unfortunately grouped with the nutbars. I have a lot of issues with America, or at least with American government, but I love the idea of America. I love what it was founded on - freedom, enterprise, achievement, progress, the ability to remake yourself in a new world into the person you want to be - America is, or should be, about everyone realizing his full potential. It often isn't - often it's about holding back everyone so we're all "equal" - down to the lowest common denominator (but that's another debate about the problems with the school system). We still have that potential. And I would like to think that at least some percentage of the flag wavers are of a like mind (I know some of them are). But the totem of the flag has been tarnished by people who would use it as a tool, a weapon even, for political maneuvering, rather than a symbol of freedom and honor.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Next week in Jerusalem

When I was a wee young thing (by which I mean, I can't quite remember what year it was), my Mom took my siblings and me to Israel for three weeks to visit ... basically her entire family: her parents, her grandmother Nana, her brother Jonny and his children and his wife's parents, her aunt Millie and uncle Elliot and all his descendants, etc. 

On the flight over, I remember being astonished at how waaaaaaay ritzier this flight was than my usual fare (yes, even at that age I considered myself a world-weary traveler and connoisseur of the flying experience). On El Al, we had rows four seats across so the whole family could sit together. We had individual movie screens (this was back in the day when not every airline in the world had this) with so many movie choices (I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and Beethoven's 2nd over and over. What? I was like eight)! Perhaps most importantly, they gave out freaking TOYS to the kids!!!! I got a supercool travel magnetic version of this marble puzzle. Also, I remember the flight was superduper crazyface long.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Spoiler-Free User-Friendly Guide to Enjoying Sleep No More

friendJudy, who attended Sleep No More last night with me, suggested I try my hand at a post on this show that's not dripping with spoilers, and that could actually be a useful tool for any first-timers attending, so ...

Tips and Tools to Having the Best Time Ever at Sleep No More!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spinning Forward

The world only spins forward. - Tony Kushner, Angels in America

So the world changed a little bit this weekend. And that's, to put it mildly, awesome. My facebook and twitter feeds were flooded with my friends cheering in celebration, either in New York or elsewhere. After all the nonsense in California, it's nice that some states at least are seeing sense.

friendJason in Virginia posted that while he was delighted that the bill had passed in New York, he was still living in Virginia, "THE LAST place in the USA that legalizes it." And it is true that the south in general is far more conservative on issues of sexuality. But I remember when this friend of mine came out to his very southern, very conservative father. And I remember this friend calling me, almost in tears, because his father had accepted him, still loved him, was not holding to the cliche of redneck.

And I reminded my friend that this had just happened: in our own hometown, at our own high school, a boy ran for, and was elected, prom queen - and not in the cruel manner that was recently presented on Glee. In a town small enough that eight years ago didn't even have a Starbucks, we've come this far.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who needs a manual?


Harkening back to my post about being a Salesman, I've been thinking part of my problem with trying to sell myself as a product is not just that I don't particularly enjoy the game of trying to convince someone to do something they might not otherwise; it's also that I'm not terrifically good at asking for help. (This help can range from "hey random stranger in the grocery, can you help me reach this very high object? I must needs get my Kix on," to "I'm producing this play and my co-producer is not volunteering anything and I feel like I'm drowning and it's too much.") A corollary to this is of course that I'm not great at asking for favors, or in general submitting myself to anyone's attention.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Role-Playing: Audience Member

I think in any craft or art, often the best research, the best education, is simply immersing yourself among other practitioners of that craft as much as possible. If you're a writer, read. A lot. As much as you can. And as many different types of writing as you can (blogs [editor's note: subtle plug!], novels, short stories, poetry, editorials, essays, histories, memoirs, plays, anything but the comments section on a youtube posting). If you're a filmmaker, watch a lot of movies. If you're an artist or a photographer, go to museums, go to libraries, buy those Taschen books at The Strand. If you're an actor or some other shaped theater practitioner (hallo, designers! etc), go see plays. As many as you can. As many different types as you can.

The other best forms of school (besides actually school itself, which is not always a good fit for some) is by interning or assisting people who are actually doing what you want to be doing, and then of course doing it yourself. Learning by trying and failing and trying again.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Case of the Pen Bandit, part four: Conclusive Conclusions

Previously, on The Case of the Pen Bandit ...

Charlie "Cutpurse" Kline, the scourge of office supplies, stood before Inspector Zelda, a slight smirk of contempt and astonishment on his face. "You ask me here," he drawled, running his fingers lightly over Inspector Zelda's vulnerable reception desk, "to parlay ... and you bring no back up?"

Inspector Zelda did not respond, except to twirl a pen over and under the fingers of her left hand. She kept her eyes locked on Cutpurse's face.

"I must confess my respect for the ... nature ... of the invitation," Cutpurse continued. "Cut up letters from magazines, glued together like a ransom note. As if you were the one holding something of value I want. As if it were not I who already possess all your pens." He chuckled. "But perhaps that is why you had to resort to magazines ... no pens with which to write."

Cutpurse paused his leisurely pacing to see if that jab had roused Inspector Zelda's ire. But Inspector Zelda continued her pen-twirling, almost unconsciously so, as her eyes looked unflinchingly into Cutpurse's.  It was the thief who looked away first.

Cutpurse chewed his lips meditatively. "I could, very easily, relieve you of that pen as well," he offered ingenuously. "Oh so very easily, you would not even notice its absense. It would already be by the 10th floor freight elevator before you'd had time to--" The thief broke off as he heard a slight crackle, and a slipping echo of his last word.  He turned slowly at the sound of a lightly tapping foot.

Constable Supervisor stood at the door, a grim smile on her face. "Good work, Inspector Zelda. Hitting the PAGE-ALL button on your reception phone to broadcast Cutpurse's confession to the whole company. Now he'll never escape the swift hand of justice."
Inspector Zelda shrugged modestly. "I never expected him to give up the location of his hideout so easily. It didn't even take any prompting."

Cutpurse hung his head in defeat, astonished at how quickly his serial crime spree had come to an stumbling end.

"In this case, at least, the word is mightier than the pen."

And on that awful and forced attempted pun, Inspector Zelda closed The Case of the Pen Bandit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This is how I cope with bad

Gordy built a house of cards -
He named it Metaphor -
It had many open windows
And a space to lean the door.

Gordy used five different decks
Of different colors, faces, counts;
He mixed them all together
In careful planned amounts:

"The bottom floor is family,"
He said, and built it strong.
"The lining porch is all my friends,
Which is why it's sometimes wrong.

"The second floor is messy blue -
My teenage years were rough."
The third floor, all black numbered cards,
Was made of college stuff.

Gordy held the fifth deck close,
Afraid to lay a card -
The red deck was his future,
"And predicting it is hard.

"I could fuck up the whole damn thing,
By just one misjudged move,
Or someone else could level it
Who's got something to prove."

Gordy clutched his deck and stood
By his house, and waited.
The cat slipped by, the card house quaked,
And Gordy hesitated.

Gordy slipped his right foot back,
And balanced on his left.
With one swift kick the house went down,
And Metaphor was cleft.

Gordy left the rubble flattened,
But kept the last red card.
"So I haven't built the future yet.
It shouldn't be that hard."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Case of the Pen Bandit, part three: Ambushed

Previously, on The Case of the Pen Bandit ...

Inspector Zelda shifted her weight forward onto her hands, trying to relieve the cramped muscles in her crouching knees. She felt her hip pop unhappily and froze - she knew from experience even the slightest noise could tip off all manner of ne'er-do-wells and cat burglars. As the pins and needles went skittering down her calves to her toes, Inspector Zelda groaned inwardly and puzzled once again how she had gotten herself into this pickle.

Of course it had seemed like a brilliant idea at the time - why try and bait the lowly cups of pens on various desks, when she could stake out the very source of the pens (besides, all the spare peanut butter had been used up capturing Feivel's cohorts Sneivel and Trifle)? After all, any good robber knows he can bundle more lettuce at a bank than by nipping wallets and handbags. So here was Inspector Zelda, gone rogue from her desk, squatting behind stacks of paper reams, waiting and waiting for a Pen Bandit who apparently hadn't gotten the memo.

After giving the devious Pen Bandit one more hour to show himself in the supply vault, Inspector Zelda was forced to acknowledge that perhaps her hunch had not paid off.  She straightened, and limped on numb legs back to her desk.

That's when she saw - the lowest blow of all - not only was her cup of pens entirely depleted, but ... the Pen Bandit had left a note!

Inspector Zelda sank back into her swank swivel chair in defeat. Sure, she finally had the name of the Pen Bandit, but she was no closer to actually catching the devil.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Case of the Pen Bandit, part two: Narrowing Down The Suspects

Previously, on the Case of of the Pen Bandit ...

Inspector Zelda briefly ran her fingers through her hair, sprucing the curls, before flattening them beneath her signature deerstalker.  She'd recently had a big break in her most maddening unsolved crime, but now she had to determine just what this break meant.

The fact that the Pen Bandit had looted both her modest lower floor desk, as well as the desks of the executive floors, meant several things:

1. This dastardly fiend (or fiendish dastard) was highly skilled in transfering from one elevator bank to another;
2. It followed, then, that he must be both ambulatory and tall enough to reach the elevator buttons;
3. The biggest break by far! Inspector Zelda could now rule out several hiterto highly suspect suspects:
  • The Mechanical Pencil, seldom used and wildly jealous;
  • The Used Coffee Cup, a perfectly innocuous depository for secreting away numerous pens, unnoticed and unsuspected;
  • The Trash Can, that simmering cesspit of sin and sedition, always waiting to lure innocent pens to doom and depravity;
  • Lastly, Constable Supervisor. Surely she would not fake an attack against her own station, purely to deflect suspicion? Hmmm...

No! Inspector Zelda would not allow herself to impugn the integrity of anyone on her team, much less their noble leader Constable Supervisor.  Besides, she had a far more interesting lead just dropped on her plate - the rumor that Stickyfingers McCoy was out on bail. Could HE be the one responsible for all this mayhem?

The Inspector knew her only hope of cracking this case before the next pay period was by laying out an elaborate trap. Her mind flitted briefly to the leftover mousetraps from the caper of Mouse in the House, a tale curtailed by the timely death of young Feivel. But no - she did not seek the Pen Bandit's demise, merely his capture and capitulation. But perhaps - yes! There was still peanut butter remaining from that same venture.  A little of it left strategically on or near the baited pens could no doubt leave a trail leading directly to the Pen Bandit's secret lair where he was keeping all the nipped pens hostage.

Inspector Zelda rubbed her hands together in delight.  Soon she would have the scoundrel in her grasp!


The day Feivel was brought to justice


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Legacy and Posterity

Why does a boy carve his name on a tree
Or the firstborn inherit the throne?
What is a sculptor aspiring to be
When he spends half his life carving stone?

In The People in the Picture, an aging Jewish grandmother, leaning ever further into dementia, tries to tell the story of her youth and life as a member of a traveling Yiddish theater troupe to her young grandchild. That the story be told is exceptionally important to Raisel - she is a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and the people who perished in that time were only able to leave precious few relics as evidence they even existed - not knowing at that time whether any would survive to tell their story. She has a truly heartbreaking moment, as she sings to the young ghost of her lover that, while she cannot remember what happened that morning or where her coat is, she remembers quite clearly how much she loved him.  Raisel's memory is failing, and she must pass on the story to her young granddaughter before it is too late.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Ring Cycle: An Opera in Four Parts

Part the First: Exposition and Opening

I am A (young, angsty, teen) girl named Zelda. I have decided that I would like to commemorate my young angsty teenage years by ordering a high school class ring. I promise my cautious mom that I will be very careful with said ring, as it ain't cheap. The ring is silver with a clear red stone. My legal name is engraved on the inside. Zelda is written on one side of it, with a dragon below (shut up, dragons are cool). The entire company sings a celebration song of youth and its foibles and baubles, complete with a maypole.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Case of the Pen Bandit, part one: The First Strike

It was a day like any other day. A girl named Zelda was quietly opening up her reception desk. The phone rang - Security from downstairs - she reached for a pen to jot down the name of the guest.

GADZOOKS!  No pen to be had! She rooted through her bag for a pen of her own and took the call. She sent an email to Office Services requesting more pens. She smartly straighted a stack of papers, because that's what receptionists do. But inside, A girl named Zelda had already donned her deerstalker, taken a pull on her pipe, and begun pacing back and forth across the lobby. Inspector Zelda was hard on the case!

The Inspector's keen penetrating gaze bore into every unsuspecting passerby in the lobby. Could it be the fellow with the yellow tie? He looks suspiciously .... penless. Or what about she with the pencil skirt and green chunky heels? Look how easily a pen could be slipped into that loose bun at the nape of her neck! Alas, the day drew to a close with too many suspects and no clear leads. Everyone had a motive. After all ... everyone had need of a pen.

By the following week, Inspector Zelda had hung up her deerstalker in disgrace and given up the pipe completely ("Disgusting habit," she claimed). She had, after compiling a list of nearly 2,000 suspects, finally resigned herself to the fact that she might never solve The Case of the Pen Bandit.

Then out of the blue ... a new lead! Constable Supervisor sent out a bulletin to the whole investigative reception team - the Pen Bandit had struck again! And on one of the executive floors!

Inspector Zelda was simultaneously puzzled and put out - had she even told the rest of her team about the first strike of the Pen Bandit? Were there perhaps even more attacks yet undiscovered or unreported? How long indeed had the Pen Bandit been ransacking her fair corporate city? And if he was indeed making hits on the executive floors, was there a chance that people in power were involved? Just how deep did this conspiracy run?

Without even noticing it, Inspector Zelda was already puffing furiously at her pipe, back on the case again!


The only known likeness of the dreaded Pen Bandit

To Be Continued ...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Get thee to the McKittrick Hotel!

Warning! Here there be spoilers for Sleep No More. Read no further if you want to stay in ignorance. Seriously. I'm not censoring what I reveal here. Okay fine. Keep reading. I warned you.

How do I even attempt to describe Sleep No More?

I could start with the nearly pitch-black maze right after coat check that almost gave me a panic attack (thank goodness the man in front of me had a white shirt to reflect what little light there was).

I could mention the white masks every audience member is asked to wear  - masks that put us all in anonymity and isolation, shadowing our eyes and distinguishing us from the unmasked performers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Territorial, or There's a Mouse in My House!

Yesterday a friend was telling me about the trials and tribulations of introducing a new cat into her already-cat-populated apartment. This involves keeping New Cat in isolation, petting various cats in succession to get them used to the new smell, etc. Because right now? Cat already in residence is none too fond of the interloper.

Which we all know. Cats are scary territorial. They hiss and claw and take a stand by hiding on top of the refrigerator. They will fight to keep the apartment their property (anyone who owns a cat and thinks they also own their apartment is wrong and we all know it). As, I have learned, will bunnies. (Oh lord. Do NOT get me started on territorial rabbits in close proximity. They're vicious little buggers. Short version: if you can possibly avoid it, don't try to keep five rabbits in one New York apartment. Just no.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Role-Playing: Playwright for Hire


Playwriting was never really a goal of mine as a fledgling writer-type-person. I was going to be a novelist. Or a poet. Or a ... Person Who Writes Short Stories (we need a nickname here). I wrote a collection of A-B dialogues in high school that all seemed to have something to do with elephants (don't ask), but that was it. Or it was supposed to be.

And then, one drab summer I wrote myself a role in a play. And then I wrote another play that, though based on me and two others, I later retweaked (several times) massively to fit the actual actors cast in the production.  This clearly gave me the very dangerous notion that I had the power to write roles for specific people.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Here I am in Arcadia

Thursday night I saw one of my favorite plays in the history of ever, Arcadia [editor's note: A girl named Zelda is seeing a crapload of plays during the month of May. Consider yourself forewarned]. This was my third time seeing this production, my fourth time seeing the play, and my bazillionth time experiencing it, as I've read it more times than I can count.

I love this play. I love this play. I would see it every night for a month if I could.

(Please bear with me, o those of you unfamiliar with the play, as I promise I will get to you in a moment.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love and Alcohol (sort of)

The title of this post is salacious and misleading! Twist!

Last night I saw a play called Drunken City, a quiet(ish) little piece about a group of people learning the truth about themselves through the magic of alcohol. And, surprisingly within that unoriginal premise, at its heart are two sweet simple honest declarations of love (or at least declarations of intentions toward love). And I must admit, I was suckercharmed by it. I smiled open-mouthed at the sweetness of it, in a completely unironic un-cynical-twentysomething-New-Yorker way.

Because I gotta admit, I miss that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reacting to the reaction to the reaction

I'm a little behind schedule on this blog post (I like to get one in Monday afternoons) because ... well ... a lot has happened over the past few days. I had thought at first to write something about performing the solo show this past weekend and how it compared to earlier versions and then ... this happened.  And the world changed just a little bit.

Or maybe it changed a lot bit. It's a hard thing for me to read. My roommate called my mom and me into the living room to watch the president's speech announcing his death. My mom's first reaction was assuming he had died of sickness, but then on finding out that he had been taken down by American troops, she was satisfied we actually accomplished that goal. My roommate's first reaction was "there's going to be retaliation. They won't let this slide." My first reaction was ... I don't know. A quiet surprise. A moment of "oh. That's happened. This is good." But not knowing further implications.

I don't know what this will actually mean.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Role-Playing: Salesman and Product

I have had numerous agents and casting directors instruct me that if I want to be a successful actor, I have to really market myself as a product. This means: clearly decide what - not who, but what - I am, and make sure I really do fit that; that way, everyone else can see Product Zelda and say "ooh, I want that" and know immediately the entirety of what they're getting, and if they use their Visa Check Card, everyone's happy [editor's note: Visa did not pay for this mention, and has no relationship with this blog. However, if they're looking for their next adorable spokeswoman, look no further! ahem].

Even ignoring my inherent RagingObjections issues with this declaration, which I'll get to in a moment, I think it's in all honesty only half of what a successful actor (or a successful anyone) needs to be. He also needs to be a damn good salesman.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fan Shorthand

Full disclosure: I'm a geek. I've been a geek for longer than I knew the word, probably.

My geekness, for a long time, had a very specific grounding: I grew up on musicals. That was pretty much all I listened to (such that, through high school, I still turned my nose up at most pop music, since it didn't have a good story like musical theater songs do), and we can blame/thank both parents for this (mostly thank).

Later other geekdoms were visited and I acquired dual citizenship (or multi-citizenship, whatever). I discovered the works of Joss Whedon, which led to various other related geek and/or cult culture.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Hamlet can beat up your Hamlet

I go to a weekly workshop in downtown Manhattan called The Shakespeare Forum. It's a group that formed about two years ago, as an open arena for actors or Shakespeare-nerds of all shapes and sizes to come and play. Every Tuesday night actors stand up in front of their peers and show work - a scene or a monologue - and receive feedback - mediated by its creators, Tyler Moss and Sybille Bruun, as well as resident artists - from everyone watching. Afterwards everyone goes out to a bar.

It's an incredibly generous, supportive atmosphere, frankly more so than my very expensive undergrad conservatory training (not to rain on that parade, oh parents-who-paid-for-this-education-and-also-read-my-blog - I don't regret that training and I learned a lot, but we all know I spent a lot of time being unhappy). These are genuinely good smart people.

More importantly, they're good smart teachers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Plains Trains and Autobuses

Since I was about seven, I've been flying back and forth across the country at least twice a year. It used to be lots more fun - heck, I remember when they served not only honey roasted peanuts, but also little cups of ice cream with wooden spoons!

In middle and high school, in addition to the still-continuing cross-country commuting, I also did my fair share of Greyhound Bus travel throughout the state of Virginia (ugh. ugh ugh ugh. Filthy and crowded and cramped and surrounded by what feels like the dregs of humanity. Thank goodness MegaBus came along).

Sometime during college I also discovered the magic of Amtrak and its ability to let me visit friends and relations in nearish lands.

I travel. A lot (ish). In a hilarious twist of ironic irony, I have never learned to drive.

That aside.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Temporary Tattoos

My to-do list currently has over twenty items on it. This is not counting my OTHER to-do list on my phone, which has had exciting items like "install printer" and "legally AKA Zelda" for at least fourteen months now. We don't really pay attention to that list anymore, which is why I have the paper handwritten list with "current" items in front of me. Most of them have to get done by Monday - Tuesday at the latest. I've done about seven of them so far, and am optimistic I can get to at least five others today.

But it's okay. I come from a family of List Makers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Role-Playing: Receptionist

I have been a receptionist since May 7, 2007. Prior to that my only real employment experience was work-study Office Assistant in my college dorm - basically just sorting mail and doing my homework (or reading trashy magazines. Don't judge me. There's no judgement here.)

My first reception gig was at a firm that, prior to May 7, 2007, did not have a receptionist for that department. Which meant there was no strict outline of what I should be doing, or much training beyond "here's how the phone works, here's how the mail works, call back if you have a question."

I had. NO IDEA. How to be a receptionist.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Contract Audience

Last week I was walking through the labyrinthine (SAT word!) Times Square subway station with friendLauren and we passed that large open space near 7th that almost always has some musician or break-dancer performing.

This time it was a group of about five musicians, drummer, guitars, etc., called The Beetles, playing (of course) Beatles songs, and they were playing one of my favorites, "Here Comes the Sun", and they sounded gooood.  So we stopped to listen, along with the sizable crowd already gathered.

A little girl of about ten - who, let's face it, was way too happy to be an actual Native New Yorker, so we shall call her Touristette - was ecstatic to be there. "There" being either New York, Times Square, a subway station, or in front of a group of live performers. Or all of the above, because she's ten and capable of that kind of EVERYTHING-ecstasy. This ecstasy manifested in a sort of free-for-all dance explosion. She spun, she hopped, she threw her arms out, she laughed, she bobbed and weaved, and she soaked in the happy. This dance occurred in that dead-man's-land empty space that always bubbles between gypsy performers and the watching crowds, so she was in effect part of the show.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Climb Too High

One of my favorite stories about my brother is one I actually don't remember at all, though I was sort of present at the time.

Dashiell was around two and safely ensconced in his room, probably for the intended purpose of a nap (hah!). He was still a crib-sleeper at the time, and his crib was near a bookcase. We did not yet know this was a Bad Idea.

My mom, who was out in the living room, heard his little voice crying out "Mommy down! Mommy down!" She assumed he wanted out of his crib and went to retrieve him.

I think you can figure out where this story is going.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Did you know it's National Poetry Month?

I didn't. But now I do. And so do you. And do you know what that means?

yep. You get a poem from me today.


"7 AM Love"

You approach the platform slowly,
knowing
you will not make this train.
I stand
at the door, my hand on the bar.
I could have held the door for you –
I didn’t.
  Our eyes meet and we smile,
half forgetting we don’t know each other yet,
then,
          remembering,
          our eyes slide away in apology –
    water on paper.
The smiles linger, forgotten, on our faces.

I will not see you again
– if you ride the train for a year –
this is not my usual hour.

But for three seconds, you had a perfect smile.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When the Melancholy comes

This post will be less funny than, I hope, this blog will typically run. Because I've been thinking about death a lot this past week, and it's a melancholy train of thought.

There are three circles to this thought (I know I'm mixing my metaphors, bear with me).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Inauguration: the most self-important title I could come up with

I made a decision, when I was still young enough to believe I could actually make such a decision, to not go insane.

The joke version of this monologue goes: "I've been failing ever since."

The interesting version goes: "It's been a strugle ever since," then I go on to detail my heroical journey.

The real version is, as far as I can tell, I've kept to my decision. [cue a chorus of my friends howling with laughter. Thanks friends! No, but seriously, folks ...]

You choose, with every action you take, what kind of person you want to be. All the really brilliant writers say so:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
or, more simply:
I am what I do. - Stephen Sondheim
If character, then, is not the shape of you and your private fleecy-blanketed thoughts, but rather the shape of your actions, then you are constantly either making or unmaking yourself.

If character is an articulated thing, in colors and words and labels, then honestly I personally have no idea who I am, and only chalk outlines for who everyone else is. I have character, but like Michael Frayn's interpretation of Heisenberg, you could tell me - years before I could tell you - who I am. I'm too inside myself to see myself.

Okay. Let's look at the scorecard. I've either quoted or paid homage to three famous writers/philosophers as well as that controversial German physicist, pandering to the snobs in the audience. I've gotten pseudo-heavy and deep on who we are and how we become who we are in very short order, without actually bothering to delve beyond skipping a stone across the surface. I've also attempted the oh-so-attractive hybrid voice of conversational intellectual.

And now I've created a metaphorical scorecard.

Do you hate me yet? Or (perhaps) do you like me yet? And the all-important - do you have a sketch of who I am? [editor's note: we are currently accepting submissions]

Naw. 'Course not. Just a sketch of how my brain is working at this particular moment. In isolation. Just me and my brain. And you, gentle reader (ha! Jane Eyre shoutout, what what).

I don't know what this blog will be yet. I hope it entertains and enlightens. I hope it figures out what it is faster than it's taken me to figure out what I am.

Any questions?


*****

Coda:

But wait, Zelda! I hear you cry. Didn't you always say you didn't want to start a blog until you had a mission, a good theme for it?

Oh. Yes. That. I reply. Shut up.

Then a third disembodied voice points out that I'm having an argument with myself, and the "not go insane" resolution goes flying right out the 44th story window.

Sometimes trying to find the mission is the mission.