It’s centrifugal motion, it’s perpetual bliss

Before the show, Jen McDearman enters the dressing room and says, “Did you get the note from George?

I look up from my Adult Happy Meal. McDonald’s is now selling Adult Happy Meals. They come in shiny cardboard boxes that sport exuberant marketing text. They include a large salad, a bottled water, and an adult toy.

In my case, my adult toy was a stepometer.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m thinking the same thing, but it was just a stepometer.

“What note from George?” I spew, my mouth full of croutons.

Jen is a bare slip of a woman, a gregarious funny girl. Her round brown eyes blink. “He says that I should sneak on stage and watch you sing Mirror,” said Jen. “After you finish the song, George wants me to run up and give you a big kiss.”

“Um… What kind of kiss?” I asked, wiping Caesar dressing from my face.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” she asked. “A big one!”

“Do you want this stepometer?” I asked.

GO ACTIVE! STEP WITH IT!” shouted the Adult Happy Meal.

I wonder if I taste like croutons.

I know it’s wrong so what should I do?

Adam’s Cardinal is winging us into a dazzling sunrise. Over his shoulder I read airspeed 110 knots, heading 40. He trims the pitch a fraction of a degree by flicking his thumb. You can practically hear the organic chemistry in his brain: pitch level vertical horizon freq pitch NAV1 pitch set VOR squawk 1200 level throttle pitch correct.

I look at the dashboard of N30304. The blue vinyl has cracked and withered from years of wind and sun. The gas gauge has a bit of masking tape on it. Adam has manually recalibrated the gauge so when the gauge says half full, it?s really got a full tank. The plane is almost exactly as old as me. The engine farts and growls and picks us up.

“We’re going to be plenty early getting to the RZ camp,” he says. Adam is thin and sharp featured, and his voice is soft and staccato. He speaks in the clipped, precise grammar of the Silicon Valley alpha geek. “We have the time and fuel. Would you like to try some maneuvers?”

“Maneuvers? As in loops and rolls?” I ask.

“Sure,” says Adam. “I’m instrument rated. I’m legal to fly in all sorts of meteorological conditions. That?s where the VFR pilots get themselves into trouble. They get into a cloudbank, and then their inner ears tell them they’re flying straight and level. And they get out of the bank and the earth and the sky have switched places, and they’re doing a slow spiral towards earth. Bad news, most definitely.”

“Sounds like bad news,” I say. “Hey, is that the Great Mall of America down there?”

Adam tips the airplane thirty degrees to the right and looks over my shoulder. My nose hits the windshield and I let out a syllable.

“No, that’s not the Great Mall,” he says, righting the plane.

“You’re not really going to do any rolls, are you?” I ask.

“Darn, I forgot to secure my bag in back. Can?t roll right now. But you know, the Cardinal is quite a stable plane for other sorts of maneuvers.” Adam pushed in the throttle and the engine reduced speed to a low rumble. “Now, consider this low-speed flying situation. You see that our air speed is reduced to ninety. Now eighty. And there it goes, that’s the stall alarm, you hear that warning horn? And so you don?t have enough lift on the wings, and so the plane quite literally falls out of the sky–”

My heart hits my chin. The vertical speed indicator shows we are dropping at fifteen feet per second. In ten seconds, we drop twenty-five stories.

Adam gingerly pushes the throttle. The Cardinal coughs and clutches at the air. The airspeed picks up to one hundred.

“Adam, I’m actually a bit afraid of flying?”

“Oh, me too,” said Adam. “I don’t like to do the dangerous stuff. I’m a total wuss.”

Oh, life, it’s bigger, it’s bigger than you

Valerie,

I wanted to respond with due care to your advice about tongue kissing on stage.

As you recall I played Dracula against Tiffany Cherevko playing Mina Harker. You remember Tiffany; a natural blonde with deep brown eyes and a fine figure. Tiffany was only my second stage kiss. I distinctly remember the first time Tiffany and I kissed in rehearsal. It was about four weeks into the rehearsal process, and we hadn’t staged or rehearsed the kiss even yet. In my mind, the kiss had become the Kiss… and now, at this particular rehearsal, now that it was time to actually Get It Together, it had become the ten-foot-tall flashing green neon THE KISS.

We’re sitting side by side, waiting for the director to ask us to run the scene. So I lean over to her and whisper, “Y’know… um… this time, I’d kinda like to try th’ kiss… y’know?”

She thinks and says, “M’kay.”

So we run the scene. I drag her to the bed, pull her down on top of it, and we! KISS!

And she gives this little airy soprano sigh.

I could write a couple book reports about that sigh.

So rehearsal’s on.  I have this cute blonde chick, who I apparently do not annoy with my kisses, we have this superhot bedroom scene, and we have eight weeks of shows ahead of us.

Back to your original comment.  So why didn’t I absolutely tongue this chick mercilessly on stage?

Answer’s simple.

The thought never once entered my mind.

Or, more precisely (and we’ll write this one in red ink)…

The thought never once entered Dracula’s mind.

When I kissed Marin playing the Wife, I was the Lover.  I was vengeful, I was into the husband’s shit, I was Bad. I was there to get it on in the Husband’s bed and drink his wine afterwards.  Bwah hah hah!  All your wife are belong to us!  Let’s get it ON, bitch!

When I kissed Tiffany playing Mina Harker, as much as I could be, I was Dracula.  Stick my tongue down her throat?  Defile this confection, this subtle willowy angel of spun sugar?  Perish the vile thought!  I will consume this delicacy, body and soul, WHOLE!

When I kissed Alex playing Lizzie Curry, I was the Rainmaker, the open-plain ranger with a dusty wagon and a harmonica tune for a home, and I was (for the first time in my cursed life) feeling the touch of an honest woman, opening like an Easter lily before me, as I contemplated the twisted reds and golds burning the edge of the earth.

And when I kissed Emilie playing Mary Follet, I was Jay, the husband with a white house in Tennessee, happy to be home and sober with my sweet embarrassed wife, this gentle godly thing that rises before dawn to make eggs and toast for ridiculous old drunken me.

Nope, no tongues there neither.1

I finally figured out why I act.  I do it to get into someone else’s skin and live there for a while.  I discovered, somewhere around January 26, 2002 at 8:13 p.m., that it was more important for me to believe that I’m someone else, to truly feel alive in the life of another, than to get applause or money or fame or any of those other things that actors ostensibly want.  It’s the rush of pure, uncut creation, of feeling a new man’s heart beat, of crossing your eyes and seeing the three-dimensional image, of becoming and becoming and finally being that other person, as sure as you are you and I am me.

So for me… it ain’t about a quick-and-dirty makeout session or whatever the hell else us romantic leads are supposed to do!

Getting your ya-ya’s out is one thing.  Constructing a new person is another.

And that

(said John)

Is

That.

1I have one distinct memory from a Sunday matinee of Rainmaker.  As Alex and I ran off into the wings after the notorious tack-room scene, one male audience member wondered aloud: “Did’ee slip ‘er the TONGUE?!”

How did you ever get there from here?

“I’m just upstairs,” I shouted into the cell phone. “I just flew into SFO and I’m having trouble finding a parking space. I’ll be right down, I promise.” Flustered, sweating, running on two hours sleep, I burst into the rehearsal studio. All eyes turned to me. The actors smiled thinly. I silently plugged in all my gear. Rehearsal started.

And it was in this fractured mental state that I played He Is A Song.

I cried.

Mark this song well. You can say you knew it years before it went Top 40.

Our director writes:

“Imagine being able to watch the creation of COMPANY or THE ACT while those pieces were being workshopped and put together and then have the bragging rights to say ‘I was there when…’

If you can get yourself to the New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) at 25 Van Ness in San Francisco between May 21 and June 26, 2004, you just may garner those boasting privileges regarding the next major work by Tony award winning writer George Furth as his new musical revue, THE END, begins its workshop process.

Furth is doing what he does best in THE END: writing about relationships with wit and razor-sharp insight. However, this time he is not penning a new book for a musical or scripting a play: he’s telling the story completely in lyrics.

Furth’s composing collaborator is arranger-composer Doug Katsaros. Helming and shaping the new treatment of this work is San Francisco director-choreographer Mike Ward.

The NCTC workshop of THE END is being billed as a ‘Pre-U.S. Tour’ tune-up for the tuner. Being housed in the intimate NCTC Theatre 3, tickets for this event in the 65-seat venue will most assuredly go fast. Tickets may be purchased online or by phoning the NCTC box office at 415.861.8972. For information, you can e-mail the box office at [email protected]

As an adjunct bonus and special treat for any theatre fan who wants to say ‘I was there when…’ each viewing of THE END will almost assuredly guarantee a different show: in addition to rotating in new material and different orders of songs during the limited engagement, five different actresses will be rotating amongst the three roles in the new book-less revue which loosely follows the stories of the beginning — but mostly the end — of the relationships of these three very different women.

THE END is produced by HLS Productions in association with New Conservatory.”

She’ll go and get her a skirt, stick it under her shirt

The office was a subliminal soft purple. The fluorescent lights flickered and buzzed overhead. Each of the cops was about fifty pounds overweight. Mine was a large white guy with a military buzz cut and thick stubby fingers. The cop punched buttons on a large computer, circa 1985, as he talked on the phone. While he was talking he slid a form across the desk to me.

I filled out the police form, listing the following items: one Fujitsu laptop, three pairs of dress pants, a Kodak digital camera, a GPS unit, four shirts, a fuzzy blue bathrobe, a shaving kit, and four protein cookies.

The cop continued to talk on the phone. “Yeah. Yeah. So they took what? Your computer? Did you lock your car? So how’d they get in? Yeah? Okay, well, you can come on down to the station and fill out a form.” He hung up.

“Wow, I guess this happens a lot here in South Central,” I told him.

“Yeah. Crackheads. They break in at the convention center, steal whatever’s in the car, and sell it.”

“Do you guys ever find the stuff again?” I asked.

“No,” he said. I gave him the form and he stamped it.

All the same. I’d appreciate it if you’d keep an eye out for my shaving kit. It’s black, about four inches by eight, and it has the initials JB on it.