Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Bully for You, Patriots
Of course, there are the obvious arch-rivals; Raiders-Chiefs, Packers-Bears, Steelers-Browns. I myself have a shirt that reads “MY TWO FAVORITE TEAMS ARE THE REDSKINS AND WHOEVER’S PLAYING THE COWBOYS.” And of course we root against division rivals, but I have to admit that I don’t feel the same level of white-hot hatred for the Giants and Eagles as I do for Dallas.
But occasionally personal experience brings a personal hatred. About twelve years ago, a quirk of scheduling had my Redskins playing two games in one season against Tampa Bay, home and away. It was like they were honorary NFC East for a season. This was, I believe, the last year they wore orange-and-orange; 1994 or 1995. The ‘Skins lost both games in ugly fashion; not by blowouts but by simple inability to execute. The Bucs were a bad team, but the ‘Skins made them look good, and that’s the worst kind of loss. I have despised the Buccaneers ever since. I’m commissioner of my fandom, and the commish holds a grudge.
It is with that experience in mind that I congratulate Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for their 52-7 victory over Washington on Sunday. Well done, Coach. You have earned my enmity, taken a team I rooted for in every postseason of the 2000s and placed them just one layer of Hell higher than the Cowboys for me.
It’s not that they beat my team badly; that I can take. Hell, since 1992 I’m pretty used to an annual savage beat-down. With the Redskins' offensive line on crutches and stretchers and quarterback Jason Campbell suddenly reverting to doe-eyed-rookie play quality the last two weeks, a bad loss was inevitable. It’s the completely classless manner in which New England scored the last, oh about 30 points, that has earned my hatred, as well as the scorn of NFL commentators across the nation. Before this week, the Patriots looked like a team of destiny. Now they just look like bullies.
I have to acknowledge that I didn’t watch the whole game. I had a performance of Richard II at 2:30, and the game started at 4:15. I got to my car after the show and turned on the radio with the Redskins down 17-0 and driving down the field. Campbell turned the ball over and the Pats had just over two minutes remaining before the half. They threw a couple of passes, which the ‘Skins secondary just clearly couldn’t defend. Suddenly I noticed that they weren’t calling any running plays. The clock and game management was excellent; it was precise and well-executed, and they scored another touchdown with just a few seconds left to lead 24-0 at the half.
I muttered out loud in my car, “Running up the score a little, don’t you think?”
I hadn’t seen anything yet.
My viewing of the second half was marred by the fact that I had to figure out how to turn on the heat in my house before the sun set. In between reading the wrong manual and trips in and out of the back yard, I saw the Patriots execute pass after pass, a fake spike, a linebacker catching passes, passing on fourth down, and not a sniff of Redskins offense.
I’m sure some random Patriots fan (
But mostly, new school wants to punish the NFL for finding out they cheated.
Here’s what you do in the NFL if you have any class or respect whatsoever. Once you get a four-touchdown or so lead, you hand the ball to the running back. You call plays that don’t cause injuries to your team or the other team, you kill the clock, you take your double-digit victory and you go home happy. If the opposing defense is so inept that they can’t stop your run-after-run and you score, the fault is theirs. You can beat them without intentionally humiliating them. A bad team humiliates itself.
Joe Gibbs would never have called those ridiculous pass and gadget plays with an opponent down 24-0, 31-0, 38-0. Vince Lombardi wouldn’t have. Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, and even Bill Parcells, whom I loathe with all my soul, wouldn’t have. But Bill Belichick would.
Thanks again, Coach, for showing us who you are so clearly. I could look past the cheating and the snubbing of opposing coaches enough to still root for Tom Brady. But humiliating Joe Jackson Gibbs like you did on Sunday is so far across the line that I can’t anticipate ever coming back.
And it’s not just Washington fans who are going to see this. Don’t think NFL players and coaches are just going to take being disrespected. This is coming back to bite the Patriots, and soon. Some linebacker, his team down 35-7, is going to take Brady down with a late hit; some free safety is going to spear Moss across the middle, someone is going to take Vrabel down low. His team will take the 15-yard penalty, the offender will be kicked out of the game, he’ll be fined six figures, and he’ll get thank you cards from players on 31 teams. I’m not recommending this, nor am I approving it; I’m just the messenger. Starting week 10 (because the Colts’ Tony Dungy is too classy to allow it in week 9) we’re going to see increasingly dirty play against these Patriots.
Congratulations, Coach Bullychick, on your 52-7 victory over the Redskins. Your Patriots are my new Cowboys. I guess you finally understand the full power of the dark side of the Force.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Hell Is Having No Internet Access
Here's the last couple weeks in blog material, condensed for time.
Go Red Sox! I knew they would pull it out, and in fact would have predicted it here had I access.
Boston's three days off equal rest. Colorado's nine days off equal rust. Sox over Rox in six. There's a prediction for you.
Skins-Pats is going to be tighter than anyone is predicting.
Jennifer Massey's acting class is amazing.
Dave T's blog has become very interesting over the last week. All internet communication should have your real name attached.
That's all for today.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Times-Dispatch Review of "Richard II"
'Richard II' a true thrill to behold
Shakespeare troupe serves history play on a silver platter
Sunday, Oct 14, 2007 - 12:08 AM Updated: 06:37 AM
By SUSAN HAUBENSTOCK
I've left plays at intermission only twice in my life. Twenty-five years ago I walked out of an off-Broadway performance of "Richard II" starring no less a figure than William Hurt as Richard. It was crashingly, stultifyingly dull.
Richmond Shakespeare has redeemed "Richard" for me.
In a thrilling production of Shakespeare's history play -- prequel to the company's "Henry IV, Part 1" from their summer season at Agecroft Hall -- director James Ricks shows how successful the company's signature approach can be.
Focusing on language, with pared-down cast, simple lighting effects and virtually no set, Ricks conducts an exciting cast of actors who illuminate the captivating drama. Aided mightily by Rebecca Cairns' rich costumes, and with a minimal but effective sound design of his own making, Ricks manages the beautiful verse of the playwright and the unparalleled energy of the actors with aplomb.
I can see William Hurt being a bore as King Richard II. It's a very talky role, and it takes a special actor to make him anything other than pitiable and annoying.
Fortunately, our Mike Newman is a very, very special actor, who doesn't speak the words so much as attack them. I'm amazed every night at Richard's strength and dignity, the real nobility of his spirit growing as his worldly nobility is stripped away.
As anyone who has talked with me recently knows, Richard II is my favorite play in the entire Shakespearean canon. I love the themes, the language is arguably Shakespeare's best, and it interests me far more as a psychological study than even Hamlet. Richard is a great role, but it's Henry Bolingbroke who really intrigues me. Jeff Schmidt has wrapped himself around the future King Henry IV in a performance that matches or exceeds his superb Antony last year.
But the actor I'm really excited about is Stephen Ryan, and I'm so pleased that Ms. Haubenstock picked him out as well. Stephen is an unusual actor type (I know the feeling) and it's got to be somewhat rare for him to find a role that fits his natural strengths as well as the Duke of York does. York is strong and passionate in some instances, but weak and indecisive in others, and his decision to remain neutral in the civil conflict renders all King Richard's military might completely impotent. Stephen's performance is one of my favorites in the show because you can always see the strength of York in his weakness, and his weakness in his strength. It's just great.
The whole cast is excellent, if I do say so myself, on a very similar level to those of Henry IV, Part I or The Taming of the Shrew. I love the whole cast. Elise Boyd's dignified Bishop of Carlisle, Jude Fageas' unforgettable rehearsal humor and Lord Jamal, Jennie Meharg's wounded yet towering Queen Isabel, Julie Phillips' seven disparate characters, Stephen Seals playing both Jeff's father and mine with total commitment, and John Witkiewicz's marvelously smarmy Aumerle combine for a marvelous ensemble. James Ricks was one of my favorite directors ever; we never seemed to be working very hard yet so much got done so quickly. Stage Manager Heather Johnson, tiny little thing that she is, brilliantly manages to keep all ten of us pointed in the right direction. And Rebecca and Annie knock the costumes out of the park once again.
I hope you'll all come out to see it.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Moving In Blues
So we're all in the new house, and all out of the old one. Saturday's Big Move took over six hours when all was said and done, and really killed my knee and my hips. As a sort of post-move "screw you," I now have a red, itchy rash on my left leg where my knee brace was. But all our stuff is in our new home, albeit largely in boxes or the wrong room.
While cleaning all the ancient junk out of the detached shed, I was sweeping leaves to uncover some white shapes. "Please let them not be ribs," I said out loud. They were. A complete opossum skeleton was lying in the very back of the shed. After scooping it carefully into a garbage bag, I turned around to find another opossum skeleton a few feet away from it, curled up and untouched. That was too much for me in the half-light of the shed. We're donating the skeleton to the education room at Maymont. With any luck, it will have a little plaque reading "Gift of Andrew and Karen Hamm."
DSL is the last utility to be attached. Phone came a half-hour later than the 8:00-12:00 window they scheduled, so when Cable called Monday morning, there was no answer, so they didn't come when they were scheduled. They came back Tuesday morning, and we bought 10o0 gallons of propane Wednesday morning. Now I just need to figure out how to turn the furnace on. DSL takes at least 72 hours after the phone line has started up to work. I'm checking emails at Crossroads about once every two days. It's like swimming through spam.
There's more room than we thought in the house. Seriously, once the kitchen is all set up, the dining room is going to look like a rehearsal room with one small table and two chairs in the middle. And I think we're going to be able to get my mother's chair fixed and set up in the living room.
The movers made one big gouge in the downstairs hallway--where we had just painted. I'm calling the fact that there's only one gouge a huge success.
The cable guy very kindly removed the yards and yards of excess cable that seemed to be in every room, even though it wasn't his job.
The house doesn't appear to be haunted, which is seriously one of my big fears.
It's been cold enough to have to use a space heater and electric blanket, what with no heat propane.
I feel like quite the handyman after installing lock latches and connecting the washer and drier.
The master closet is the size of a small room.
More later. Once some more boxes are emptied, I'll take pictures and post them. Phil and Joehammy are coming for a few hours to play this weekend, so I need to focus on studio readiness by Saturday morning.
Friday, October 12, 2007
VCU's Eric Maynor in the Washington Post
Jesse Pellot-Rosa did not make the Jets roster. He's back in Richmond, working for a law firm for which he's worked since he was a teen. He has played some roundball out of the country and plans to continue to do so. And my former student B.A. Walker signed recently with a professional basketball team in Iceland. I guess that's the sports equivalent to regional theatre...
Monday, October 08, 2007
Deep Thoughts About Actor Training
So here's what I wrote:
Artists in general, and actors in particular, need to rely less on their talent and more on their commitment. Talent can only take you so far; you will reach a plateau at a certain point and then be unable to advance any further. Artists need training that shows them what they don't know how to do and then shows them how to do it. They need training that takes their native talent and stretches and builds it like muscle.
Actors need to train as more than actors. Too many actor training programs become little communities focused only on theatre, where everyone inside eats, breathes, and sleeps nothing but theatre. That's useless. The bottom line is, theatre artists hold the mirror up to human experience (to paraphrase Shakespeare), and so theatre artists must become students of life at least as much as they are students of theatre. Actors need to train in acting, history, literature, music, and dance. They need to train as lighting technicians, stage hands, scene designers, playwrights, directors, and musicians.
Modern actors should train in some variation of the Stanislavski System because Stanislavski is like ballet; if you can learn the foundations, you can learn the rest more easily. But they also need to learn that "Method Acting" is far from the be-all and end-all of technique; they need to learn Elizabethan, Restoration, clowning, and absurdist styles as well. They should learn what other styles and theories there are. Biomechanics, Poor Theatre, Dada, etc.
Most importantly, actors need to learn how to learn. They need to know that the same old stuff that they've done as an actor for their entire lives is just the beginning of their capabilities. The craft of acting is closely tied in with who you are as a person; developing and growing as an artist must also develop and grow you as a person, and the reverse is even more true. Get out of the rehearsal hall, get off the stage and get out in the world. Go to a baseball game and keep score. Read a science fiction novel in a coffee shop. Write bad poetry. Have a conversation with someone who wants to talk about something other than Ibsen. And be passionate about more than just acting. Be passionate about living.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Who's Cursed Now?
Monday, October 01, 2007
First Decorating at the New House!
Also, Grant and I ripped up the red carpet. The hardwood is in good shape, aside from having paint drips and drabs on it. I'm not sure I can justify refinishing the floor at this point; maybe next year. Painting the walls is a much bigger bang for the buck improvement at this point.
EDIT: All lies! I'm halfway through cleaning the floor with a scraper and Goof-Off and it looks fabulous! I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow morning. It will need a new coat of wax or something, but it's going to look okay.
Jayson Stark on the Phillies
By Jayson Stark
PHILADELPHIA -- Every once in a while in sports, stuff happens that just can't happen. Can't. Shouldn't. Doesn't feel like it happened even after it happened.
Well, when stuff like this does happen -- this stuff that defies all sense of what's probable, or even possible -- there is always more to it than the names on the scorecard, or the numbers on the stat sheet.
"I was trying to figure out, how was I going to get it started," Rollins would say later. "I was thinking about it all last night, and I really couldn't come up with any answers. You know, yesterday, we just kind of came out dry. You know, there was no pressure: If we lose, we still have tomorrow. If we win, we've still got to play tomorrow. But we didn't have that option today. And I was just trying to get things done."
He knew he was only 2-for-14 lifetime against Washington starter Jason Bergmann. So it wasn't as if there was some "Get It Started" button he could push. But he decided to search for one anyhow.
But Moyer's presence on that mound was fitting for reasons beyond his familiarity with parade floats. He was also the only Phillies starter to make it from start to finish this season without a visit to the disabled list, despite the slight technicality that he was the oldest starting pitcher in the league.