Saturday, January 26, 2008
Ever read those close captions that appear at the bottom of your new-fangled plasma TV?
Well, for some inexplicable reason, my focus turned away from the images the other night (some silly bozo must have sauntered onto the screen and distracted me for a second or two) and I noticed something was amiss...
Now and then, the translation was inclined to get twisted and mangled; subsequently, the end results were oftentimes hilarious - if not downright - disastrous.
For instance, when Dave Letterman announced that John Edwards would be appearing on the show the following evening, the Democrat's "John Hancock" was translated as "Swron Edwards". Maybe, the minions at NBC, were referring to his feminine side?
Guess not, because the glitches persisted.
On Jay Leno - the word "Okay" - was transformed into "Oh, Goldy". Jay's deep passionate feelings about a guest, slipped out, perhaps?
The Patriots were hailed as the "Theatriots" (in reference to the Superbowl's wild and wholly beer busts?), while the ever-present term on voters minds these days - the word "politics" - was transformed into a shorter form (for simplicity sake, I guess) to "polics". Maybe the producers were shooting for colonics?
But the one to beat the band (the "boys in the band", no doubt) was the one that made the hysterical reference to a "rim shot".
If you don't know what "rimming" is - just ask any gay man - and he'll enlighten you in graphic detail, no doubt.
I wonder, is some gremlin playing tricks on the late-night talk show hosts, or is the slip-up attributed to faulty translator oversight?
On the plus side, if you get bored with the show, you can always pretend you're Scientologist - Tom Cruise - and craft some clever phrases to go along with the mis-caps.
Now that's, risky business!
Heading into the home stretch on the campaign trail, there has been a big flap over the contentious mean-spirited behavior of Democratic hopefuls, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In fact, gentle slaps we witnessed earlier on in the bid for the Presidency, have turned into near lethal punches. No knock outs, yet, though.
On the Dave Letterman show - on a three-way split screen - Hillary accusingly pointed a finger at Obama and criticized him for his former "slum landlord ties", while Barack - not to be outdone - lamented that while he was trying to prevent jobs from going overseas, wily Hillary was on the payroll at Wal-Mart - reaping in questionable spoils.
Dave Letterman was squeezed into the middle panel, tossing this way 'n that, trying to act as referee and get a word in edge-wise. Hilarious skit!
Meanwhile, Slick Willy has been making the rounds on the campaign trail, much to the disgust of the pundits, the press, and many Americans.
In fact, some have labelled his actions "demeaning" and "disingenuous".
Yeah, he was grabbing the headlines alright, and casting a long shadow over Hillary's strident speeches to voters elsewhere in the country. Some argue that he is a clever conniver who is using the occasion to tout his own accomplishments in the White House!
In one ambush, as he strolled through a swarm of reporters, he stopped and accused the press of fanning the frenzied flames, exacerbating the race issue, and focusing on the dispute between himself and Hillary.
He then retorted, "Shame on you. Shame on you!"
Yeah Bill, you chastised 'em, after you put your own two cents worth in. If you felt that strongly about the issue, you would have walked on and simply uttered to all within earshot - "No Comment".
When Obama raised the issue of "Wild Bill" recklessly loose on the Nation, his hubby just shrugged and sighed, "That's him. Not me".
If she can't curb her pit bull now, what will it be like when they're back in the White House?
An operator on a Cable Car the other day joked to me, "Well, the Democrats may as well enjoy the party while it lasts. They're not going to win. All that squabbling between 'em. And, they're not even talking about the issues. Each wants to be a first. Hillary, the first woman president. Obama, the only Black man to make it into the Whitehouse."
Then, as he shifted the gears on the trolley, he cackled, "They wouldn't vote in the Jew. What makes 'em think they will vote in Obama?"
I wonder what a cross section of America thinks?
Obama gives Hillary a gesture!
Zen Master Tetsuo once said,
"Be upright and honest, conscious of the principles of nature, compassionate and generous towards others, free from greed, contented. Carry out your everyday affairs correctly, without error. Take care of things without being attached to them."
Friday, January 25, 2008
Cable Cars...torrential rains cause brake malfunction, near fatality with pedestrian. San Francisco!
This morning - amid wild storms slamming the Bay area - I was waiting for a Cable Car in the Financial District, when I spied a utility truck towing one of the little darlings down the street to the repair yard, I guess.
As the torrential rains persisted, I stood under a stoop to shield myself from the wintry blast that descended upon San Francisco in the wee hours of dawn this morning.
In about five minutes, a second trolley approached, and I jumped on.
The car was packed with tourists and there was a lot of excited chit-chat about the inclement weather. And, of course, bearing witness to the broken-down cable car was cause for a few to tense up a little about the possibility of a second mishap.
As we approached Powell Street - the operator suddenly pulled on the brake - but it malfunctioned, causing the car to jerk unexpectedly and lurch forward.
To our great shock, the vehicle came to an abrupt, shaky halt, within inches of striking an elderly woman crossing the street!
The exasperated driver proceeded to struggle with the gears, to get us going, but to no avail.
As one passenger noted, "Rain and wood brakes on steel track, that's the problem."
At this juncture, it was obvious the trolley was disabled, so the driver was forced to radio in for assistance.
Meanwhile, the upset passengers exited the car in a state of disarray, and sought other avenues of travel.
Ironically, it was an accident many years ago which brought about the conception of the cable system, as we've come to know it.
The driving force behind the San Francisco cable car system was attributed to a man who witnessed a horrible accident on a damp summer day in 1869.
Andrew Smith Hallidie saw the toll slippery grades caused when the then, horse-drawn streetcars, slid backwards under their heavy load. On at least one occasion, the steep slope with wet cobblestones and a heavily weighted vehicle combined to drag five horses to their deaths. The incident triggered an idea.
Hallidie and his partners not only had the know-how to do something about the problem, but the wherewithal to meet the challenge.
You see, Hallidie's father held the first patent in Great Britain for the manufacture of wire-rope.
So, as a young man, Hallidie experimented and found uses for the technology in California's Gold Country. He used the wire-rope in a design for a suspension bridge across Sacramento's American River, for instance. He also facilitated the wire-rope to pull heavy ore cars out of the underground mines on tracks.
Clearly, the technology was in place for cable car use.
So, Hallidie acted on his vision, and developed it into a full-blown cable car railway system to deal with San Francisco's fearsome hills and unpredictable weather.
Now, if only some clever person could fathom a way to overcome the difficulties with the brakes in stormy weather, before some innocent bystander gets killed.
For me, the big event each year is the Oscar Celebration.
Allegedly, when a friend of studio employee first gazed upon the little golden statuette, she declared:
"That looks just like my Uncle Oscar."
The name stuck.
I always wanted to attend in person and experience all the glitz and glamour in the flesh.
But, I made myself a promise.
I'd never stroll the red carpet (or even slip in a side door) until I was a nominee.
Well, I can dream, can't I?
One year - I was booked on a modeling shoot for a fashion lay-out for Vancouver Magazine - when it came to my attention that the assignment was slated to shoot on the eve of the Oscar show.
What was a boy to do?
Should I cancel the job, or forgo on the Oscar celebration for one year?
Well, the big bucks beckoned, so I trundled off to the location to fulfill my career obligation.
As luck would have it - the Fashion Editor was an avid fan of the Oscars - too.
Consequently, I was able to sneak quick peaks of the gala festivities on the old boob tube in the green room, in-between "takes".
But what about this year's star extravaganza?
Word from Tinseltown is that the show goes forward in spite of the WGA strike.
However, a number of actors are reticent about crossing a picket line.
Tony Gilroy - a nominee for Best Director for "Michael Clayton" - noted for the record:
"I would never cross a picket line ever. I couldn't. I'm a 20-year member of the Writers Guild. I think whatever they work out is going to be one way or the other. But no, I could never cross a picket line. I think there are a lot of people who feel that way."
So, it begs the question.
In the true Hollywood tradition, will the show go on?
Fortunately, animated talks between the producers and the writers started up this week.
Now, actors are inclined to cross their fingers and pray to the "Gods" of Award Shows, that the evening's festivities will go off without a hitch.
In the event there is a go, here are some of the contenders to place your bets on.
Best picture nominees include "Atonement" (a love story gone awry), "Juno" (the tale of an unplanned pregnancy), "Michael Clayton" (a legal suspense thriller), "No Country for Old Men" (a favorite with an ending that "fizzled" out into oblivion), and "There will be Blood" (a period piece with a top-notch performance by Daniel Day Lewis).
"No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" lead the Oscar race with eight Academy Awards nominations each.
In the male lead acting category, talented thespians include George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Daniel-Day Lewis (There will Be Blood), Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah), and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises).
The bar for Best Actress was set pretty high due to stellar performances by the likes of Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages), and Ellen Page (Juno).
Best director should go to Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), but other auteurs breathing down his neck for the coveted prize include Jason Reitman (Juno), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men), and Paul Thomas Anderson (There will be blood).
The choices for animated film are Ratatouille, Persepolis, and Surf's Up.
The little rat chef will win, in my estimation.
Although Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James) was a first choice for best supporting actor earlier in the year, along came the release of "No Country for old Men" and the remarkable performance by Javier Bardem as a crazed bad guy.
Sorry, Casey, looks like the award is going that-a-way!
It is a toss up for Cate Blanchett for "I'm not there" and Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" for the supporting actress category, in my estimation.
Surprisingly, there were no nods this year for crowd-pleasers like Angelina Jolie, or Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild).
Sean Penn was also snubbed, despite a fine directorial stint (Into the Wild).
The whole scenario makes one scratch their head a little in wonderment.
After all, "Hairspray" - deserving at least one or two nominations in my opinion - was completely shut out.
At times, it appears that the Academy's taste, is up their wazoo.
Orson Welles once said:
“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.”
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Daddy's little girl has been helping out at the campaign office.
Yes, John McCain's daughter - Megan - has been pitching in!
Unlike Chelsea, the pretty young blond has been inclined to spill the beans to the press. After all, a photo op is a photo op.
When asked about the competition's daughter, McCain gushed that she admired Ms. Chelsea because, "...she is so graceful and she never makes a misstep."
In fact, she is no enamored of the Clinton's No. 1 daughter that she said she would welcome any advice she was inclined to offer up.
In the event your ships pass don't pass in the night, take note...the clumsy, oversized earrings you wore at the campaign office the other day, have got to hit the dust. Think Ballroom, not sleazy local dive.
It may be wise to ditch the fur cap, too; if Animal Rights Activists get a peak at the label and determine it is bona fide fur, watch out! You'll be first on their endangered list.
By the way, the fluff on your blog - tips on make-up and notes about your favs on the pop charts - is sure to land the votes of a few airheads. But, why not use your moment in the sun - and momentary influence - to educate and enlighten your fellow youth?
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
A frenzied pack of paparazzi camped outside of the apartment of top model - Gisele - the other night...and waited for Tom Brady (her hottie overnight guest) to exit the love nest.
Reporters noted it was a tough assignment; but, the coveted prize - titillating footage of Brady descending her stoop in the wee hours of dawn - was worth it.
There wasn't any taxi in sight, fortunately; with Brady's luck, it may have turned out to be the "Cash Cab". So, Brady was forced to walk a gauntlet down the street, as crazed photogs jockeyed for position, in a boisterous effort to land their best shot.
In view of the sheepish grin on his face, it was evident - as the old saying goes - he was "in" like Flynn! Must have been the posies that cinched it!
When the street newsie said - "back to you in the studio" - the anchorman chortled, "There is a fine line between reporting and stalking. I guess we just crossed it."
Not satisfied with that scoop, their news team proceeded to corner Brady's childhood dentist, to get the skinny on the origins of the pro star's dazzling million-dollar smile. Oh-my-God, the staff hauled out old photographs of Brady (chronicles of his bygone youth) - which not only exposed teeth that were crooked - but were toothy enough to require braces.
Imagine that smooch, in a moment of passion, ladies!
"So, I guess the smile is what landed the football star romantic flings with the likes of top models like Gisele," the reporter opined.
With a little grin, the doc responded that Brady, "...has a lot going for him".
I get your drift, doc. After all, everyone knows what a strong overbite means!
In recent days, sports fans - and the public alike - have been overwhelmed by the young stud.
Wonder how the late-night carousing will affect his - um - performance on the field?
Yeah, football is my favorite action sport. I mean, there's somethin' about all those lace up pouches, tight butts, and all that rough-housing and tackling...that resonates in a deep, homo-erotic way.
As to the the V-shaped torsos and the wide shoulders - well - from the looks of those poetic silhouettes in motion on the field, they're virile macho guys, alright.
But what's with all the hugging, and the butt slapping, and tom-foolery in the locker room?
Male bonding? Ah, a tribal ritual - I guess.
Athletes like Beckham and Brady are pretty much a unique sports breed. And, they've got the big bucks, to prove it.
Bottom line, they're highly-skilled warriors (action thrillers), with a dynamite dose of sex appeal thrown into the mix.
Looks like you snared one, Giselle.
When Conan called out the name - Bret Michaels - there were a number of wild hoots and hollers from the studio audience.
The front man for "Poison", swaggered out from behind the curtain, sexily clad in a black "T" - etched with ominous skulls - a pretty, multi-colored bandana, and tight ratty jeans showing off package.
The affable talk show host was revved up and ready to get down to the nitty-gritty.
"So, what kind of woman are you into," Conan probed, or something to that effect.
In the brief moment that Bret hesitated, Conan was all over him like a dirty shirt, "I mean, like, are you a breast man, or what?"
The audience roared at his indiscretion. Bret was quick on the uptake, though.
"A breast man, definitely."
My jaw dropped when Conan went where no talk show host has boldly gone before.
"You like 'em big, or what?"
Bret laughed and noted that it didn't matter.
"That can be fixed," he noted with a sort-of cheshire grin on his face.
Then, he went on to note that he has not squeezed a real breast in a very long time. The audience went into hysterics.
Yeah, men are pretty much "visual" when it comes to sex.
I'm into blue jeans, especially the faded, snugly-fit kind. Where they've been worn in at the butt, the crotch, the legs...can conjure up so many erotic fantasies, such a turn on!
Woody Allen once said,
"Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's a pretty good one."
If you look sky high, you'll notice a curious trend...rooftops are turning green!
And, for good reason.
In addition to adding a welcome touch of Mother Nature to the concrete cityscape, installing a garden on the top of city buildings has a number of practical purposes, too.
Green Roofs serve as sponges, to absorb run-off water, and lessen the impact of severe storms that otherwise may cause damage to the local environs, hasten sewers to overflow - and hence - pollute the environment.
When properly designed, green additions are capable of cooling structures and the surrounding neighborhoods, by the process of evapotranspiration; the key way plants absorb water through their root system and evaporate it through their leaves.
Not only do green roofs lower temperatures in the summer, but they also insulate in the winter. On average, extensive green roofs provide twenty-five percent more insulation than a regular roof, while heat loss due to wind can be reduced by fifty percent.
In addition, the gardens filter pollutants from the air, and offer up opportunities for food production, as well.
Credit is given to the Germans who began the "roof greening movement" in the late 70's and 80's, according to an organization - "Green Roofs for Healthy Cities" - which is headed up by Steven Peck (President of the Toronto-based nonprofit trade organization). The innovative idea soon spread throughout Europe, and naturally, on to the United States.
On these shores, Leslie Hoffman, President of New York based environment group - "Earth Pledge" - made it her mission to spread the green news after she planted one garden in Manhattan and saw the benefits of the exciting futuristic concept.
"There's all this wasted space on city rooftops that can be like small oases. They can help with storm water management and the urban heat island effect, or serve as places to garden. Such a big idea, complex in its variety of benefits."
Bio-diversity in living roof designs is all the rage, today.
In fact, allegedly, Switzerland has just passed a bylaw which states that new buildings must green twenty percent of their rooftops and be designed utmost and foremost to relocate the green space covered by the building's footprint (including existing buildings and those historical in nature).
On the heels of the research, there has been an increased demand for material/product design, which will soon be available to North American markets.
As green roofs spread, the overall effect may help mitigate global warming. By reducing the urban heat island effect, the carbon footprint of energy used for air conditioning, for instance, will be lessened.
Architectural specialist, Jane Jacobs, put it all into perspective in a recent interview on the subject,
"In its need for variety and acceptance of randomness, a flourishing natural ecosystem is more like a city than a plantation. Perhaps it will be the city that reawakens our understanding and appreciation of nature, in all its teeming, unpredictable complexity."
Aldo Leopold, quote:
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It suddenly dawned on me last night that the pundits have apparently overlooked one vital issue in respect to Mitt Romney and his run for president.
If the Mormon Presidential hopeful wins the 2008 election, how many 1st ladies will there be in the White House?
At first, when I spied the scaffolding strategically-placed around the Castro Theatre, I thought the "old lady" - the architectural beauty from the Art Deco era - was getting a face lift.
Workers on the job informed me that renovations were underway to accommodate a film production company who booked the premises for a location shoot.
According to sources, Director Gus Van Sant was in town to commence shooting on the screen biography of the tragic life of Harvey Milk, who was murdered by co-worker, Dan White.
Sean Penn will play Milk.
Other cast members include Josh Brolin who was spotted in the streets of San Francisco sporting a period three-piece suit and a signature page-boy haircut reminiscent of White's.
As the crew attempted to turn back the clock in various locales about the city, producers were putting out a call for locals to sign up to play "extras" for a key scene that will reenact a real-life protest rally which broke out in the turbulent streets of San Francisco in the wake of Milk's untimely death.
Harvey Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was the first openly-gay elected official of any large city in the United States.
On a National level, Milk was one of three officials in public office, who chose to be "out" to their constituents.
Kathy Kozachenko and Elaine Noble were the other two.
Milk represented District 5 of San Francisco (which included Castro's predominantly gay neighborhood) until his term was cut short at the murderous hands of Dan White on November 27 (1978) at City Hall.
Prior to that fateful day, Dan White resigned from the Board of Supervisors over a gay rights bill he opposed.
Because Moscone was vested with the power to choose Dan White's successor, it became evident to his opponents, that Moscone would be able to tip the Board's balance of power in his favor on political and social issues if he was so inclined.
In view of this, a handful of politicians supporting the city's conservative agenda (Senator Dianne Feinstein included) talked White into changing his mind.
Subsequently, White did an about-face and asked Moscone to re-appoint him to his former seat.
Allegedly, Moscone indicated a willingness to do so; but later - along with a handful of liberal city leaders - ended up lobbying against the idea.
Ultimately, Harvey Milk decided not to re-appoint White.
Angered by the decision, the former City Supervisor crawled through a basement window of the building to avoid metal detectors on that fateful day in November, and proceeded to carry out his pre-meditated plans to murder Milk.
White intended to meet with Moscone to make a final desperate plea for a re-appointment. But, when Moscone refused to carry out his wishes, irate White shot Moscone to death in cold blood, instead.
Then, he marched into Milk's office and killed him point-blank, as well.
Milk appeared to have a premonition about his death.
In fact, it has been reported that the thought of an assassination attempt continually haunted the politician during his years in public life.
In a political will (marked "read in the event of my assassination") he wrote:
"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."
White was convicted of two counts of voluntary manslaughter and sent to prison for seven years and eight months.
On the heels of the sentencing, word about the travesty of justice ran through the gay community, prompting many groups to start walking to the Civic Center.
By 8:00 p.m. that evening, a sizable crowd had gathered.
According to the documentary - "The Times of Harvey Milk" - the enraged crowd screamed at police officers and called for revenge - and ultimately - Milk's death.
Then, angry mobs proceeded to torch police vehicles, disrupt traffic, and vandalize public property.
The overhead wires of busses were also ripped down.
When physical violence broke out against the out-numbered police officers, many of the distraught rioters were arrested.
The Chief of Police, Charles Gain, was blamed for being too weak in his response, and holding back his officers at a time when many felt they should have been defending lives and property.
In defense, Gain pointed out that at least no one was dead, and that only a few suffered minor injuries.
In fact, one-hundred-and-sixty people were hospitalized.
White's remarkably light sentence was granted in response to what is now referred to as the "twinkie defense".
At the trial, White's attorney argued that the defendant could not be held accountable for his actions due to the fact he had eaten excessive amounts of junk food on the day of the crimes which had adversely affected his mental and emotional stability and reasoning faculties.
White was paroled after six years in prison and committed suicide shortly thereafter.
Understandably, Milk's untimely death impacted a multitude of individuals, right from the get-go.
In the year following his death, 100,000 people marched on the Nation's capitol in support of Gay civil rights, wildly chanting "Harvey Milk Lives".
In essence, they were carrying the torch for a man they had come to deeply respect and love.
After all, his accomplishments were many.
For instance, in his eleven months as a Supervisor, he sponsored a gay rights bill for the City of San Francisco.
Milk also instituted the infamous pooper-scooper ordinance which required animal owners to "pick up" after their pets.
The visionary politician was also instrumental in defeating Proposition 6 - known as "The Briggs Initiative" - which would have allowed openly gay men and lesbian teachers to be fired based on their sexuality.
With Gus Van Sant's deft directing hands at the wheel, I expect no stone will be left unturned in this much-anticipated screen bio.
The award-winning auteur will undoubtedly turn out a gripping account of the shocking events in a manner that is sure to touche the hearts and minds of filmgoers.
Can't wait to screen it, can you?
Occasionally - when out shopping for produce and other food stuffs - it's wholly possible you may need to relieve yourself in the restroom.
If you're pushing a cart at Safeway - at Church and Market in San Francisco - pass!
At a time when people are concerned about staph infections and overall "cleanliness", it shocks the sensibilities to take a jaunt into their restroom and encounter the disgusting filth there!
For starters, the walls are scrawled with graffiti, and appear to have been neglected for years. How much is a coat of paint for a company like Safeway that racks in the big bucks daily?
Meanwhile, the walls and floors are downright creepy-crawly; I shudder to think with what!
The mirrors are marred with grime, and the fixtures are so hair-ridden, it's no wonder customers are afraid to put precious hand to metal to "flush".
Safeway, you get the "Nasty Toilet Award", of the year!
And, you've lost a few loyal customers, in the wake of it.
Monday, January 21, 2008
During a speech about Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Clinton slumped to one side in his chair and dozed off for a couple of minutes.
I guess, he was either bored with the speech or trying to "realize the dream".
On a talk show this past week, when Ronald Reagan's name popped up in the conversation, Tom Brokaw noted that the former president made a distinct contribution with regard to party lines.
"He created a new class of voters...the Republican-Democrat," the newsman laughed.
Occasionally, I stumble across a book I read voraciously in the past - and when that happens - it's like running into an old friend.
Such was the case with "RESPECT FOR ACTING", written by seasoned actress, Uta Hagen.
When it comes to acting tips hers are bang-on - and ultimately - amount to a "Bible" for actors.
According to Ms. Hagen, there are two kinds of actors: the representational and the presentational.
The representational actor deliberately chooses to imitate the character's behavior.
In contrast, the presentational actor reveals human behavior through a use of himself, through an understanding of himself - and consequently - through an understanding of the character he or she is portraying.
The representational performer finds a form - based on an objective result for a character - then carefully proceeds to execute it.
The presentational actor, on the other hand, trusts that a form will result from an identification with the character and works on stage for a moment-to-moment subjective experience to realize it.
In her opinion, formalized external acting (representational) has a tendency to follow fashion.
But, an internal performance rejects fashion - and consequently - can become as timeless as human experience itself.
Gee, wish I'd said that.
A lot is said about emoting and the fourth wall (about whether to speak directly to the audience or not).
In addition, Ms. Hagen provides tips on how to deal with "emotion" when developing aspects of the character.
As an example, Ms. Hagan notes that actors often contend that they "lost themselves" in a role - to effect realism - let's say.
Ms. Hagan assures the insightful actor that it is much better - and more rewarding - to avoid grandstanding and techniques that amount to "showing off".
She asserts that competent actors without concern for outer form - or as she refers to it - "without pyrotechnics or personal sale" - are then able to deliver up a more believable performance that resonates with truth.
But, there is more work to do.
"Once we are on the track of self-discovery in terms of an enlargement of our sense of identity, and we now try to apply this knowledge to an identification with the character in the play, we must make this transference, this finding of the character within ourselves, through a continuing and over-lapping series of substitutions from our own experiences and remembrances through the use of imaginative extension of realities, and put them in the place of the fiction in the play.
There is some focus on emotional memory or recall, as well, in the self-help book.
The process of "emotional recall" is used as a sort-of trigger.
In fact, Hagan contends that a substitution is the smart way to go to dredge up emotion, start a rush of tears, whatever.
To many, "Emotional memory" means "sense memory", notes Hagan.
But, according to the celebrated acting coach, the two as different.
Emotional memory is the psychological link or emotional response to an event which produces the desired effect - sobbing, laughter, - whatever.
On the other hand, sense memory - or the physiological - refers to sensations of hunger, cold, pain, etc.
All techniques are utilized in the service of the play or to bring about a true revelation about the character on stage without gimmicks or self-indulgence at play.
"Respect for Acting" is packed with solid advice on how to prepare for a role, in addition to, wide-ranging rehearsal techniques.
The exercise are geared towards piecing together a believable, in-depth characterization, that will ring true to the audience.
Ms. Hagan, was a respected actress who was known for classical roles she played in Chekhov's - "The Seagull" - and for her stellar performances on stage with the legendary "Lunts" which received widespread acclaim.
Brooks Atkinson noted that Uta Hagen's book - "Respect for Acting" - is not only pitched on a high artistic level - but,
"It is full of homely practical information by a superb craftswoman."
In sum, Respect for Acting is an illuminating discussion on the standards and techniques of enlightened stage acting.
Pick it up and thumb through the pages, you'll be glad you did.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
As I wandered into Huntington Park at dawn at the top of Nob Hill, the sun strained against the horizon, casting long strands of gold and purple across the early morning sky.
Then, a still breeze rustled leaves in the trees, as a flock of excited birds flew directly overhead, and alighted nearby.
Before me, the "Fountain of Tortoises", hinted at a bygone era of romance and elegance.
The decorative sculpture is a copy of "La Fontana Delle Tartarughe", originally set as a centerpiece in the Piazza Mattei, Rome. The original was designed in 1581 by Giacomo della Porta, with sculpted bronze figures crafted by Taddeo Landini.
Pope Alexander VII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to restore the fountain in 1658-1659. As a result, the featured dolphins fell into oblivion, and were summarily replaced with struggling tortoises, instead.
William and Ethel Crocker donated a replica of the original which was installed at Huntington Park after gracing their garden for a number of years.
The Angels appear ready to herald a new dawn.
To my right, a few seniors (mostly Asian) arched their backs gracefully for a moment. Then, each torso half turned - as if to defy gravity - as arms and legs seemingly "pulled" and "pushed" the still air, in a surreal fashion.
I was captivated by their serene faces and the inner glow which appeared to emanate from within the very core of their mortal coils.
Ah, the ancient practice of Tai Chi. And, the inner smile revealing itself, in a Divine moment.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the lush finely-manicured park, a rag-tag band of exercise enthusiasts plied their limbs, and focused on the task at hand.
I silently turned on my heel and headed in the direction of Grace Cathedral (across the street) to attend morning service.
The Cathedral is a descendant of the original Church built in the Gold rush year of 1849 - destroyed in the 1908 earthquake - which was rebuilt on property donated by the Crocker Family.
At Grace, there is not only a keen awareness of the spiritual, but also a forward-thinking philosophy about the "oneness" (unity) of all things.
Inside, near the font, a statue of St. Francis stands with arms out-stretched... seemingly capturing the lofty ideal that Grace Cathedral is, "A House of Prayer for all people".
For starters, the Church is an inner space that resonates with spirit - a perfect respite from it all in the pursuit of prayer - provides an opportunity for insightful contemplation about the wondrous mysteries of life.
In addition, there are a number of exquisite religious artifacts to view.
The "Doors of Paradise", for instance, which were created by Florentine sculptor Lorenze Ghiberti; fashioned for the Baptistery of a Florence Cathedral. Their shimmering gold surfaces beckon the pilgrim up the great stairway to look in awe at the intricately sculpted and nearly three-dimensional panels.
Ghiberti was one of the first artists to apply relief and linear perspective on such a grand scale. Indeed, Grace Cathedral's "Doors of Paradise" tower at 16 feet, while each door weighs one and a third tons.
Ghiberti chose ten familiar narratives as subjects for the main panels, taken from the first books of the Bible, ranging from Genesis to Kings. Each panel contains several scenes from each story, shaped not only by the text and by Christian interpretation, but also by commentaries of the early church fathers and even by contemporary events.
The border panels display Old Testament figures related to, or commenting on, the adjacent main panels, accompanied by busts done in a similar vein. Around the busts are lifelike sprigs of vegetation and bouquets of flowers, inhabited here and there by frogs, crickets and lizards.
In the first panel, the tale of Adam and Eve is featured...their creation, temptation, fall and expulsion. The panel is notable for the "cosmic egg" design of the sublime creation of Eve scene at center and for the poignant backward glance of Eve, outside the gate of Eden.
On the other hand, some allege the adjacent "Cain and Abel" panel is even more powerful, contrasting quiet pastoral scenes with Cain's murder of the favored Abel, and the guilty Cain questioning God, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The Gothic-style rocky crags seem to echo Cain's violence.
It is worthy of a pilgrimage to Grace to explore the historical piece up close.
In that event, the casual visitor will be able to marvel at some of the other breathtaking works of art such as: the exquisitely executed stained-glass windows throughout the Cathedral (particularly those by the French Loire studios and Charles Counick, depicting such modern figures as Thurgood Marshall, Robert Frost, and Albert Einstein) the stunning murals completed in the 1940's by Polish artist John de Rosen; and the 44-bell carillon.
Along with its mystical ambiance, Grace lifts spirits with regular services throughout the week, along with inspiring musical performances (including organ recitals on most Sundays).
Grace's male choir has gloriously engaged in song since their inception in 1906, but a boys choir was not added until 1913. The centuries-old tradition of men and boys choirs has since blossomed here and there around the country at other Churches.
The Grace choir is composed of 14 choir men and 21 choristers who have long-standing ties with the community; the boys of the choir are students at the Cathedral School for Boys, for instance, while the men are a professional San Francisco ensemble.
The Cathedral Camerata is a mixed voice ensemble that sings a diverse repertoire of chant, Renaissance, and Baroque mottes and anthems and newly composed sacred works.
A unique attraction is the Labyrinth.
What is Labyrinth?
The sacred "curiosity" is an archetype of a divine imprint found in many religious traditions in various forms around the globe. By walking the labyrinth, an individual discovers, "...a long forgotten mystical tradition insisting to be reborn," according to the insightful Rv. Dr. Lauren Artress.
Labyrinths entered "Christian Prayer life" during the Middle Ages after they were incorporated into cathedrals around Europe.
The "Medieval Eleven Circuit Labyrinth" is replicated on the floor of the Chartes Cathedral where it was placed in 1201.
People around the world use the Labyrinth today to quiet the mind, find balance, and encourage meditation, insight, and a celebration of life.
The "Grace After Hours" program provides the opportunity to walk the labyrinth and learn about its history, in addition to facilitating it as a spiritual tool, as well.
Before departing from the Lord's House, slip into the AIDS Interfaith Chapel.
The Chapel opened its doors for the first time on December 1st, 1995, after the bell tolled at Grace Cathedral in Honor of "World AIDS Day".
The Chapel is a memorial for those who died from AIDS.
Now, the sacred altar here is a place of meditation and healing and remembrance for caregivers and those still fighting the disease.
Throughout the ages, stories of each community have been told through their house of worship...by virtue of artifacts, stained Glass, sermons, and a myriad of activities.
San Francisco's chapter in the "AIDS" epidemic is recalled through the auspices of the Interfaith Chapel.
The Chapel envelopes those who come to pay their respects and proudly displays who San Francisco is as a community ... compassionate, embracing, concerned.
The Interfaith addition was made a reality due to the persistent fundraising efforts of community members, local celebrities, and politicians alike.
Inside, there is a stunning altarpiece, a triptych of the Life of Christ.
Pop Artist Keith Haren started fresh, spontaneously carving into clay. The talented visionary used bronze and white gold patina for the original castings.
In a center panel is the Christ child, cradled by a number of arms below a radiant heart; above, a shower of tears with Christ on a cross above.
On the right panel, figures are ascending to heaven; on the left, there is a fallen angel.
The Interfaith Chapel is a sacred place where generosity of spirit prevails.
According to critics, the Harin piece is a masterful work that is accessible and speaks to many people.
The "Book of Remembrance" is a handmade book that is preserved under glass. Within its precious pages, the names of people who have died of AIDS are inscribed individually by a calligrapher, with the dates of their birth and death.
The book serves as a testament to the loss shared by the community.
Finally, on a top note, it should be noted that since 1995, Grace Cathedral has engaged in conversations with renowned authorities from the world of politics, activism, spirituality and the arts through their program - the Forum - which podcasts each Sunday morning 9:30-10:30 a.m. (except for holidays)
A few months ago, I caught vampire writer Anne Rice, discussing her new book on the "Childhood" of Jesus Christ. On the occasion of that intriguing appearance, she noted that she - henceforth - intended to devote her writing gifts to "God".
Well, after a visit to Grace Cathedral, most are inclined to do that, the experience is so spiritually overwhelming and uplifting.