Two in the morning and the party’s still jumping ’cause my momma ain’t home

Word up: There will be a staged read of my new play, The Bishop’s Eighteen Wives, at the Hillbarn in Foster City on March 29, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. The director is Ann Kuchins and she’s damned good — she was nominated for a Bay Area Critics Circle award in 2001 for her work on Three Tall Women.

Playing the queen ice bitch princess, Irmgard II von Diepholz, will be the glorious and immaculate Alex Alexander. Alex played Lizzie against my Starbuck in The Rainmaker last year. Ann directed us both, and Alex and I ended up winning Favorite Actor and Actress for 2004 at the ‘Barn.

I’m telling you flat out. You need to cancel your other nonexistent plans and get your ass to the Hillbarn on March 29.

Tickets are $10 cheap at the door, phone number (650) 349-6411. You need hear this play before it breaks into the big leagues.

Update! Several other rockstars have signed up for the show, including the inspired Marin Carpenter as Marlena, the gorgeous Valerie Allen as Sophie, and the talented Sean Williford as The Evil Bishop Franz von Waldeck. Noel Wood will be rocking the part of Jan van Leyden. w00t!

I can be handy mending a fuse when your lights have gone


               Martha, in a houserobe and carrying a cell phone, answers the
               door.  Plumber stands in the doorway, carrying a chest of

                         You got a problem with the toilet,

                         Ah yes, you're the plumber.

                         Actually, I'm a plumbing engineer,

               They walk through the house; we dolly behind them.

                         So what's the problem?

                         With the toilet?


                         Well, there is a leak at the base
                         of the valve cap.  It's a model
                         four hundred A.  You'll need to
                         lift the arm, remove the calcium
                         deposits, and rotate it one-eighth
                         of a turn counterclockwise.  Also,
                         there's a bit of a noisy refill
                         cycle.  The angle adapter is
                         pointing straight down the overflow
                         pipe.  You need to tilt the angle
                         adapter so the refill water is
                         hitting the inside wall of the
                         overflow pipe.  Lift the rod arm
                         and remove the top cap assembly by
                         turning one-eighth of a turn
                         counterclockwise.  Using a
                         straightened coat hanger, carefully
                         clean out the inlet passage of the
                         If the problem still persists, you
                         may need to replace the water
                         supply line with Fluidmaster's
                         flexible no-burst Braided Stainless
                         Steel connector.



                         Sorry, this is a lot of

                         What part didn't you understand?

                         Well, um, I'm not sure.

                         Repeat it back to me.

                         Well, there's a leak on the valve
                         cap, and it's a model, what?  Four

                         Four hundred A.

                         Yeah, that -- and there are calcium
                         deposits on it, so I can probably
                         get those out with a toothbrush --

                         I beg your pardon.


                         You'll need to lift the arm, remove
                         the calcium deposits, and rotate it
                         one-eighth of a turn
                         counterclockwise.  No toothbrush.

                         Oh, okay.  No problem.  And there
                         was, what did you call it, a noisy
                         refill cycle?  Yeah.  The angle
                         adapter is tilted and it needs to
                         be straightened out --

                         No.  That's not what I said.  The
                         angle adapter is pointing straight
                         down the overflow pipe.  You need
                         to tilt the angle adapter so the
                         refill water is hitting the inside
                         wall of the overflow pipe.

               The plumber pulls out a clipboard.

                         Maybe I should be writing this

                         Maybe you should be.

                         Okay, now, you have a top cap
                         assembly?  And what did you want me
                         to do with that?

                         Lift the rod arm and remove the top
                         cap assembly by turning one-eighth
                         of a turn counterclockwise.

                         Okay, one-eighth of a turn


                         Didn't I just say counterclockwise?

                         No, you said clockwise!

                         Damn.  Okay, one-eighth of a turn.

                         Use the seal with a Fluidmaster
                         Model 242.

                         The Fluidmaster model 242?

                        Yes.  It's available in most stores
                        that carry Fluidmaster valves.

                         Oh, yeah, okay.

                         I want you to repeat all that back
                         to me.

                         Um.  Leak on valve cap.  Model four
                         hundred.  No, wait, four hundred A. 
                         Yeah.  And you want the Fluidmaster
                         stainless steel connector.


                             (gritting her teeth)
                         Fluidmaster's flexible... no
                         burst... Braided Stainless Steel

                         Yes, that connector.  Um...


                         You know, you may not need to
                         replace that valve.  If you just
                         clean off the deposits with a
                         toothbrush --

                         Why do you continue to resist me?


               Martha dials the cell phone.

                         I give you clear instructions, and
                         you refuse to follow them!  You
                         hate me!  You do, you hate me!

                         No, ma'am, it's not that --

                         Hello, Lisa?  The plumber you
                         referred to me?  He's telling me
                         how I should fix my own toilet! 
                         He's not listening to me!  He's a
                         bad, bad plumber!

                         Actually, I'm a plumbing engineer,
                         ma'am --

                             (screaming, in tears)
                         You bastard!  You insensitive,
                         heartless bastard!

               Dramatic organ music plays.

                                                         FADE TO BLACK.

So go ahead, put us down, one of these days we’ll turn it around

Uh I’m sorry that I can’t you know open the conversation and talk easily with you about it like gracefully and sympathetically because uh I get uh tongue tied you know I like get nervous and I can’t talk because you know it’s all these thoughts like these thoughts inside my head and I want to talk to you but I can’t express myself you know I can’t uh get these ideas out of my head and into yours and achieve clarity and sympathy and uh sorry did you say something?

There’s a silence here between us

Jenna picked at her salad with one hand and flipped her black curls off her forehead with the other. Her high cheekbones, which I have often seen pale and drawn, had a pleasant pink flush. She was happy, and I was happy to see her.

“I want to thank you again for doing Orpheus Descending with me,” I said. “Two years ago, was it?”

“Almost to the day,” said Jenna. Her twenty-seven year old cheeks dimpled dutifully.

“Did you ever see Alan after the show ended?” I asked.

I saw a little shadow pass over her face. “We exchange e-mails from time to time,” she said. “But, no, once the play was over I never saw him again.”

“What happened between you and Alan?” I asked.

“Oh, I fell in love with him. Did you not know? Yes,” she said. “Or perhaps I fell in love with the character he was playing. Or both.”

I decided to change the subject. “How is the married life?”

Jenna smiled. “Oh, Chris is a dear. We’ve been married for three years, and things are much better between us now. He’s okay with you and I having dinner together.”

“I never quite understood why Chris hated me so much,” I said. “Why did he refuse to let you visit me for all those months?”

Jenna dropped the piece of bread on the plate. “During Orpheus Descending, my husband was convinced that I was in love with another man. He was right, of course. He was just wrong about who the other man was.”

Here I go, on the road again

You know when I’m in a play, and I either tell you flat out, “This play’s gonna be good, come see it” or I mumble and change the subject to something else?

Well. This play’s gonna be good. It might even be really good. Come see it.

Dragon Productions presents Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit, directed by Jane Geesman. It runs February 18 through March 6, Thursday thru Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View.

Tickets are $10 – $20. You can purchase them online here or call (650) 492-2006.

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

“But darling most of all…” sang Amanda, spooning against me and holding herself to me. “I love how you love me.”

The plane touched down with a gut-wrenching thud in Seattle. I hustled off the plane, activated the GPS and drove at eighty miles an hour to the conference.

“Time,” I say. My head begins to swim and the world dims. I sink down to the curb.

The lawyer leaned across the boardroom table and looked in my eyes. “If I can speak candidly here? I just don’t think you understand. The value. You?re off by an order of magnitude.”

I turned over and looked at her. “Things in my life are happening too quickly,” I said. “Drama, fear, anger, conflict. Too much. I seem to be losing my understanding of temporality. My sense of order.”

“The news was on KGO radio,” said the e-mail. “I realize that you are all grown-ups, but I’d like you to keep the news as quiet as you can, for as long as you can.”

Danielle wrote, “About five hundred people will be attending tonight. But seeing as how all of us are sick, we’ll cancel the rehearsal. Don?t worry! Everyone participating is a great improv actor. We?ll fake it! You’ll be a great emcee tonight, John.”

“Don?t change a single fuckin? word,” said Devon. “If you do, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

ESTELLE: “You think too much!”

CRADEAU: “And what else is there to do?”

Elevator music. “Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.” I redo the math: redo the license contract, send out quotes, reprint the postcards, four days, reprint the flyers, that’s five days, mailing house is three days, that’s not enough–”

The most expensive bedroom in Seattle, underneath the down sheets, three a.m. The asthmatic sigh of the high-speed elevator: inhale exhale inhale exhale, tick tick tick tick.

“And I can’t turn my brain off,” I said. “All these problems, all these thoughts and ideas. I can’t make sense of any of it. I can?t stop thinking. Please. Can you help me?”

“No, I didn’t read what you wrote… but that doesn?t matter!” she shouted. “You have no permission! You’ll delete it immediately!”

The beer and wine is on the company card. Somehow I’ve just bowled three strikes in a row. Jean-Pierre looks at me with a sardonic grin. “You’re the vendor and we’re the client, you know. You?re supposed to lose in order to make us feel good.”

“Sshh,” said Amanda, holding me. “You need sleep. Let me sing to you.”