Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jordan Leigh Wakefield

(photo by Giau Truong)

I didn't know Jordan Leigh before this play. She just showed up to audition, and blew us all away.

Her role, Maggie, is the hub around which the complicated plot revolves. There is rarely a moment during which Maggie is not on stage. It's a demanding role that way. But Jordan Leigh was up for it, and worked very hard to make sure her lines rang emotionally true - which gave her the engaging believability for which many audience members praised her.

I fear the entire play would have fallen apart on stage if her character had not been so convincing.

She made the audience feel
that what they were seeing was real.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

South Shore Tri 2011

I meant to do a tri
earlier in July
but I didn't do it
because I slept through it.

That was by choice. I had signed up, but when the morning came to do it, I was actually exhausted from not getting my normal amounts of sleep during the run of Wild Flowers. So today, at last, I did the South Shore Tri, the earlier and smaller of the 2 Chicago triathlons that involve swimming in Lake Michigan.

We had great weather. Tranquil water. Lovely sunrise over the lake. A warm, cloudless day, but not extremely hot.

The race was well organized except for one thing. A group of us had the wrong name on our race bibs. My bib read "Francesca".

But no one yelled to me: "Go, Francesca!"

I felt energetic after the race, but a wave of tiredness just hit me like a slap.
I need a nap.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Planning Ahead

For Halloween
I plan to be seen
as a giant balloon of debt -
the most monstrous costume yet!

And I'll ask each and every friend
for interest payments without end.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teasdale, Hunt, Shakespeare

I spent a fun 2 hours in a seminar reading poems by Sara Teasdale, Leigh Hunt, and William Shakespeare.

Herds of words
gallop and thunder
leaving behind
a wallop of wonder.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Registry of Shame

There's a story about a guy permanently labelled a sex offender, because when he was 19 he had sex with his 15 year old girlfriend. He's married to her now. But he's still "a sex offender".
Having been on the sex offender list for nearly half his life, Frank is unable to secure a job with a major corporation or leave the state without notifying local law enforcement. He cannot coach soccer for any of his daughters, who range in age from 4 to 11 years old.
She wasn't yet his wife,
so punish him for life!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Phone Message Fiasco

Thus does a career
The Oregonian reported Friday that a young woman left a distraught message with Wu's Portland office accusing him of what the newspaper described as "aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior."
Congressman Wu,
We bid you adieu.

Pulling Up The Tent Pegs

The Wild Flowers run,
for now, is done.

At times it was stressful,
but it proved successful.

We had a great closing night, with the theater nearly full, and a very enthusiastic question-and-answer session afterward.

I'm still basking in the glow but I know that in a day I will be missing the people I worked with. Theater projects nurture intense, family-like feelings of exposed emotions.

What a great cast.
We had a first-rate blast.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wrong Conduct

Occasionally some Buddhist monks take sexual advantage of those who revere them.

And punishment can sometimes be minimal,
even in cases that sound rather criminal.
A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.

Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple — much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.
Being non-hierarchical has its uses -
it's hard to get sued for your "holy" folk's abuses.

Shaking Up A Dietary Decree

It started out as a reasonable scientific hypothesis, but then the public health people got hold of it - and kept beating us with it, even after the evidence had shifted.
This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.
Understandably, the scientists want more funding for studies to keep looking into the subject, because their results are still confusing.
But unless we have clear data, evangelical antisalt campaigns are not just based on shaky science; they are ultimately unfair.
The assault on foods that are salty
appears scientifically faulty.

Why was so much odium
heaped on cholride of sodium?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mat Chapman

That's a moment with Maggie and Trent, played by Jordan Leigh Wakefield and Mat Chapman. Mat has a marvelous gliding physical presence. Trent is probably the least sympathetic character in the script, but Mat does an astounding job of bringing out Trent's vulnerable side. From talking to the audience, I know that a lot of them LOVE the character, even though his character is a bit less than sterling.

As I always say, by the time a play is on stage, a good actor knows more about his character than the playwright who invented the character.

That's just a plain fact
about artists who act.

Atmosphere of Fear

We had quite the thunderstorm and downpour last night. I was up at 3 a.m. to make sure that the pump was running - and to try to calm Juliet, my elderly lab mix. She has never liked explosive noises. The 4th of July is no celebration for her.

But lately it seems that house-shaking thunder has become even MORE terrifying to her.

I wonder if it's the new arthritis med she's on. I see "restlessness" is a possible side effect. But this isn't restlessness. It's cowering in fear!
Do vets prescribe puppy Prozac for canine panic attacks?

How, I wonder,
did I commit the blunder
of owning a dog that's scared of thunder?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Small World

Tonight a man from Oregon attended the play. He was in Chicago for a night, as he periodically is, and likes to pick a show to see on such occasions.

Much to his surprise, when he read the program, he saw that our lead actress was a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University.

As it turned out, our lead actress was good friends with the daughter of one of his good friends.

The world is not really small,
but coincidence does come to call.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How About A Nice Game Of Chicken?

Is there some clever way
for me to make a financial play
and put profits in my vault
when the U.S. slides into default?

Do you wonder why this question vexes my brain?
Because the light at the end of the tunnel is sounding like a train!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John P. Enright & Deborah Hickey

I received an email from a gentleman in Ireland. He introduced himself as being an amateur genealogist, and then inquired: "I was wondering if you are a descendant of John Pierce Enright (1841-1902) and Deborah Hickey (1846-1935) of Listowel?"

I sure am. That's my great-great-grandparents.

I guess I got about one sixteenth of my genes from John Pierce Enright, and another sixteenth from Deborah Hickey.

Thanks for the DNA, and I reckon
my kids should both thank you for their one thirty-second.

2006 and the Debtly Hallows

It's so nice when we
can agree.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunk Cost

What a headline:
Two Navy Ships That Cost $300 Million Are Headed To The Scrapyard Without Having Seen A Day Of Service
Actually, the ships were never quite completed in the first place. A contract dispute was involved.

Shouldn't we should all be overjoyed
about the people who were employed
building ships to be destroyed?

I, for one, am elated
about the jobs created.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Origin: Mockba

A woman from Moscow attended the play tonight and was enthusiastic about it. She actually came to the play in part because it involved Russia!

It's always a relief, after writing a foreign character, to have a person from that country embrace your portrayal. This is especially true when you've exploited the humorous side of the cultural clash between the foreign character and the American characters on stage.

One strength of having a foreign character is that she brings an outsider's perspective to a play, and is able to point things out that Americans would avoid pointing out, due to cultural taboos.

It's fun to watch foreign attitudes
cut through conventional platitudes.

This is a Stick Up!

I finally put the new city stickers on our 2 vehicles. The 15th is the deadline. The police are going to start writing tickets. They're calling it "Stick It or Ticket".

Last year I was lazy, and didn't bother taking off the old stickers. So for a year we've been driving around with 2 city stickers on each car. Not real pretty. Not the way you're supposed to do it.

I don't mean to be picky,
but these stickers seem too sticky.

Pulling them off leaves glue
windshield residue.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Straining His Noodle

Some of you may be familiar with the parody-religion called Pastafarianism, whose god is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The idea is to make silly assertions with an air of certainty - and to dare your opponents to disprove your arbitrary assertions.

Now, in Austria, some self-proclaimed Pastafarian has taken it to another level. In Austria your driver's license photo is normally supposed to be bare-headed. But there's an exception for religious headgear. So the Pastafarian fought for the right to wear a spaghetti strainer on his head for the photo.
It is the police who issue driving licences in Austria, and they have duly issued a laminated card showing Mr Alm in his unorthodox item of religious headgear.
First they made him talk to some shrinks, to make sure he was mentally fit to drive.

He's perfectly sane,
he's just being a pain -
wearing a pasta sieve
to express what he doesn't believe.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Someone Give Me A Beat

You know that lock box everyone trusted?
Well I'm here to tell you that safe is busted!

The funds have all been given away,
with nothing saved for this rainy day.

But there's a solution we hope to get -
a cash infusion by going into debt!

Hyperbole I Hope

From the department of overstatement:
Every aspect of life in America today is worse than it was when [President Obama] took over.
That's Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida.

The rest of the quote looks like he's talking about the economy, and not truly "every aspect" of life in America.

I mean, the economy is not impressive
but is absolutely everything regressive?

Surely for someone, something got better
even if the nation is increasingly a debtor!

Monday, July 11, 2011


This morning when I got up it was sunny. There was a forecast for morning rain, but I didn't take my umbrella. I had an umbrella at work! Clearly I had plenty of time to get downtown before the rain came.

Wrong. When I got off the train the water was blowing sideways at high speed through our open-air train terminal.
Around 463,000 ComEd customers were without power Monday night after fast-moving severe thunderstorms tore through Chicago and its suburbs earlier in the day.
I got wet. I'm not going to complain, because my power stayed on, and no trees fell on my house, and I didn't get all THAT wet.

But I did spend time in the men's room using the hand blow-drier to dry my shirt off. You know, I don't like those hand blow-driers much. But I do have to say it did a fine job drying my shirt!

If I were a smarter fella
I woulda brought my umbrella.

Tricky Plot

Today our big local free weekly, The Chicago Reader, posted an online review of my play by Justin Hayford:
The various story lines in John Enright's tricky plot collide and stall at first. But once everything's on the table, his quirky, lighthearted script bounces efficiently forward, spirited along by Giau Truong's appealing cast.
There's more at the link, with spoilers aplenty!

I'm very pleased. The Reader is the dominant reviewing force in the Chicago fringe theater scene. They review more plays than anybody else in Chicagoland. But they don't review every play. So I am glad they reviewed mine and I'm glad the reviewer liked it, and liked my director and my very appealing cast!

Much can be forgiven in a plot
that neatly unties its own knot.

Tricky Plot

Today our big local free weekly, The Chicago Reader, posted an online review of my play by Justin Hayford:
The various story lines in John Enright's tricky plot collide and stall at first. But once everything's on the table, his quirky, lighthearted script bounces efficiently forward, spirited along by Giau Truong's appealing cast.
There's more at the link, with spoilers aplenty!

I'm very pleased. The Reader is the dominant reviewing force in the Chicago fringe theater scene. They review more plays than anybody else in Chicagoland. But they don't review every play. So I am glad they reviewed mine and I'm glad the reviewer liked it, and liked my director and my very appealing cast!

Much can be forgiven in a plot
that neatly unties its own knot.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

James Weighs In

James at The Frugal Chariot has written an appreciative and insightful review about my play. It does contain some mild plot spoilers, if that matters to you. It's like normal reviews - it reveals a little bit.

I have found that by reading enough reviews of a book or movie I can usually reconstruct the whole story.

Each review
provides a clue
and if you're skilled
you can rebuild.

So I'll just end with a part of the review:
I was very impressed with all aspects of the production. The play was entertaining both due to the presence of interesting ideas and believable characters.
Does that spoil the plot?
No, it does not!

Thumbs Up

I have been remiss in posting the last couple of days. This play has been consuming so much time!

Kathleen Tobin, the reviewer from my neighborhood paper, The Beverly Review, liked it a lot and gave me this pre-review blurb:
A well written, intriguing plot with a contemporary flair and several layers of international and character complexity, suberbly realized by a thoroughly believable cast, 'Wild Flowers' is a little gem of a play that holds one's attention from start to finish.
Well, I can't complain about a description like that!

Some reviews are sweet,
but some leave you feeling like ground-up meat.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wild Flowers Opened

Wild Flowers opened strong. One of the actors mentioned to me that the audience's laughter surprised her. That's normal with comedies. When you rehearse them over and over with no audience, you somehow forget the play is funny. I mean, you may know it consciously, but you just don't feel the expectation of chortles.

The audience had a good time. A critic who attended said she liked it a lot.

As for me, I'm very happy. Giau Truong, who directed, is very happy. And our actors looked pretty happy, as they deserve to be.

That this play would succeed...
was always my belief.
But seeing it come to pass...
was certainly a relief!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

We Open Tomorrow

I'm tired, and I don't even have to DO anything at rehearsals. I can't imagine how exhausted the actors feel.

Well, I bet they get a burst of energy tomorrow, when Audience shows up to watch. I will report, of course.

An actual audience ups the stakes -
it's so important to keep them awake!

That Case

I think I'd be very upset if I'd been following a certain high profile murder case. But I haven't been.

The verdict from that jury
Unleashed even more fury.

Monday, July 04, 2011


The rebellious colonists were both plucky
and lucky.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Almost There

My wife and son came to see a run-through of the play tonight. The 3 of us were the whole audience. My wife has read multiple versions of the play, and she has attended a reading. Heck, she has even read one of the parts out loud with friends. But my son had no idea, going in, of what the play was about. They liked it a lot, laughing a fair amount, and felt that time flew by quickly - all of which is good.

The cast had occasional trouble recalling lines, but are good at recovering from, or covering up, such lapses, and nothing truly essential was lost. They've got that team psychology thing happening. It's a joy to watch.

Here's the latest poster:

It always feels like fair weather
whenever a play comes together.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Exercise of Rights

Our new mayor is proposing an ordinance to allow gun ranges in the city.

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down our handgun ban, the City Council made pistols legal again - on condition of paying some money and taking a shooting course.

But gun ranges remained banned. So if you lived in the city and wanted a legal pistol, you had to travel to the suburbs to take the shooting course.
The city is currently facing a federal lawsuit saying the city’s ban of gun ranges in the city has created a burden for those seeking a Chicago gun permit.
That lawsuit was going to cost the taxpayers' money. And the outcome was predictable.

If there's a right to learn to shoot,
the city was sure to lose that suit.

Friday, July 01, 2011

False Witness

It looks like zealous prosecutors fell for another fake rape story in the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.
She knew how to lie and cry,
and she hung this guy out to dry.

Ironic Collision

Today at work I heard a siren followed by a thud. I looked out my window and saw a motorcycle and a helmeted man lying flat on the asphalt at the intersection of State and Jackson. Also in the intersection: an ambulance. How handy.

Apparently the motorcyclist had crashed into the ambulance, which I'm guessing was crossing the intersection against the light.

The motorcyclist was talking, and moving arms and legs, so I'm hoping he was okay. I think it was a slow-speed crash. They put him in the ambulance, then switched him to another after a while, which sounds like he was probably in pretty good shape.

Somehow people routinely crash
into loud machines with lights that flash.