Saturday, August 31, 2013


I took this photo of the back of a van tonight on 18th Street:


I was hoping to rhyme that word with basil or razzle-dazzle, but that appears to be wrong.

It's a van that bears the name
of a certain famous tree
from Norse mythology.

Why? I don't know.
Unlike a tree, a van is designed... to go.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Not So Itsy Bitsy

Outside my door tonight.

She was just hanging out, carousing,
doing a little web-browsing.

Separation of Powers

For Americans brought up on the Constitution...

"For Americans brought up to believe only Congress can declare—and pay for—war, it’s worth noting that such legal niceties have loopholes big enough to fly cruise missiles through."

Big enough to fly cruise missiles through?
That's just the sort of stuff he means to do.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How The FBI Blew Fort Hood

Mother Jones has a very informative piece on the failure to stop the Fort Hood shooter, which, in retrospect, looks like it should have been easy.

A lot of the problem is that nobody every put all the pieces together.

'"Every year the amount of data is doubling," he said. "The sheer amount of information that might result from legitimate surveillance—or, in a criminal context, a legitimate wiretap—is mind boggling compared to what it was 10 years ago." He added that the FBI in particular has struggled to manage the surge in intelligence data, as its focus has shifted to counterterrorism, which wasn't central to its mission before 9/11.'

Another problem is that security analysts took his glowing job performance reviews seriously, when in fact they were the nadir of bureaucratic irresponsible game-playing.

And yet another problem was that analysts saw "comm officer" and thought it meant "communications officer" rather than "commissioned officer" which was the right answer.

Every year the data is doubling
but our failure to connect the dots remains
more than a little troubling,
verging toward insane.

Monday, August 26, 2013


A video about the aloneness
of the only one living phoneless.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I learn something new every day: "vexillology is the study of flags"

That's from an article which purports to be about the Chicago city flag, but which really is more about picturing other notable city flags, strangely enough.

Another thing I learned: there's a North American Vexillological Association, which seems to have it's own flag:


Wikipedia claims that it "is among the largest vexillological organizations." But no source is cited, and no numbers for membership are given.

Has membership possibly sagged?
Has interest in the subject flagged?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lyrical Confession

You have the right to remain silent. But if you choose to rap, you may fall into a trap.

"Rap lyrics written by a man convicted of killing a Reno drug dealer were allowable evidence at trial because they described details of the crime, a divided Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday."

Thing twice before you write a song
about things you did that were wrong.


How quickly sometimes I go from wired
to tired.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Other Photos

I think I've posted a couple of versions of the publicity shot featuring the 3 actors who establish the central triangle of the story.

But O'Brien plays like an ensemble piece, so here are some other pics.


That's Greg Callozzo and Nicole Roberts, playing a strangely divorced couple, Sam and Maeve.


And here's a shot that features Kate Donoghue playing Caitlin Fitzpatrick, talking with Julie Soroko playing Brenda Jablonski.

I'm not sure what it is that makes it play like an ensemble piece. Standard advice is not to write a script that way - but rather to clearly focus on a central character who goes on a journey.

It's not one character's journey? What a bummer!
My excuse is the old one - different drummer.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

After a Dry Spell

The unaccustomed sound
of rain at last comes round.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Chicago Reader Recommends O'Brien & O'Brian

The Chicago Reader does the city's most thorough reviewing of live theater, so I'm very pleased to get a "Recommended".

Suzanne Scanlon writes:

"Even if the ending of this rom-com feels inevitable, the maneuvering to get us there is good fun: it's easy to find charm in a script that can move lightly from odd lovers to sapphic liaisons to EPA lawsuits involving beavers."

She also praises the actors, praise which I think is well deserved. I suspect my script wouldn't seem to move lightly if it were played clumsily.

A script, when poorly acted,
might as well be redacted.

Kissing That Big Red Maple Leaf Goodbye

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, reputed to be thinking of making a run for prez, was born in Canada. But his mother was a U.S. citizen, so he's a citizen by virtue of that. Does that qualify for the "natural born citizen" clause of the Constitution? I'm guessing it's close enough.

But apparently under Canadian rules he has dual citizenship. Which might look bad when you're running for commander in chief.

So now he's looking to surrender his Canadian citizenship, which he says he didn't know he had. Wait. Really? No idea? Never occurred to him that being born in Canada might give him some options?

Anyway, the Canadians have a process, of course, and they may make him wait.

At least it's not a big crowd ahead of him looking to be approved for departure: "Government figures show only 192 people gave up Canadian citizenship last year."

For now he's stuck
as a legal Canuck.

Monday, August 19, 2013

In the Land of Partial Truth

A reporter poses the question: "Everyone knows politicians lie. Why don’t reporters say so?"

He then proposes an answer: "For fear of alienating officials who might provide the, uhhh, raw material for their next story."

In between he explains that "lying" means knowingly telling an untruth. Of course, it can be particularly tricky to prove the "knowingly" part. What did the politician know, and when did he know it?

To say what is untrue,
is an easy thing to do,
but it's hard to decide
exactly when someone lied.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chicago Air Show

We happened to drive by. Saw planes in tight formation groups, breaking into loop-de-loops.

First Review of O'Brien & O'Brian

Our first review is in, from James at the FrugalChariot blog, and all I can say is he really liked it a lot:

What sets this play apart is the wit and realism of the writing combined with great direction and acting.  Their are moments when the wordplay sparkles with enough wit to set your humor neurons on fire.  Each of the actors performed well, however Madelaine Schmitt as Darlene O'Brien and Bryan Hart as Alan O'Brian stood out as the leads with moments reminiscent of Tracy and Hepburn.  Nicole Roberts and Kate Donoghue were delightful with their Irish accents battling against the supposed "Irishphobia" of the EPA administrator played by Julie Soroko.  All the while the direction of Anna W. Menekseoglu kept the chaos of emotion and reaction of the ensemble on the stage under control.  The result is an evening of delightful humor with a message or two about the vagaries of love and life.

Needless to say, a comparison of our Bryan and Madelaine to Tracy and Hepburn is accepted as a blessing.



After all, Spencer and Kate
were simply great.

Lavabit Had Enough Of It

We're only hearing one side of this, but that condition has permeated this whole secretive topic:

"Feds Threaten To Arrest Lavabit Founder For Shutting Down His Service
from the either-you-help-us-spy-on-people-or-you're-a-criminal dept"

Do I believe his story? At this point, I'm not sure why I shouldn't.

Help us with our bugging,
and don't dare think of shrugging,
or our bullies will come slugging.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Improperly Held

Saw this wacky story: "Canadian authorities have rescued 40 distressed pythons from a motel room where they were being improperly held in plastic storage bins, police said on Friday."

How can you tell when a python's distressed?
Do they come to the lobby while sloppily dressed?
Do they sign comment cards as: "Unhappy Guest"?

Friday, August 16, 2013


Opening night had lots of laughs
and no visible gaffes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Last Rehearsal


That's our set, from tonight's rehearsal, the last rehearsal.

As lights come up, we see the half empty set design,
before the first line.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Photo Reshot

Last week's version:


This week's:


From left to right, Julie Soroko as Brenda, Madelaine Schmitt as Darlene, and Bryan Hart as Alan.

The strongest point of comparison between the 2 pictures, for me, is Julie's neck, which is mostly hidden in the first photo, but long and graceful in the second.

It's funny how an angled shot
can make things look as they are not.

Rhyming Synonyms

I suppose that in place of birthday, there's first-arrival-on-earth day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chills in the Heat

I did a long run today, with the outdoor temperature in the low 80s Fahrenheit, and in the last half mile I felt a "chill" or two. I'm tuned in to notice these "paradoxical chills" when working out on warm days. I always figure it's a warning sign, and I always back off. But what is it a warning sign of? Well here's a guy who wrote into a medical advice website:

"Today while I was about halfway through my run, I noticed that I was starting to get some chills and had goosebumps. I was probably pushing myself a little bit harder than usual, but it's not like I've never pushed myself to the limit before. Could this have been a sign of impending heat exhaustion?"

Curiously, the responding doctor says it could be a number of things, but if the person is able to write this question then it wasn't anything too serious! But the doc says heat exhaustion can include the goosebump symptom - and heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is where your temperature climbs up to 104 or higher.

"Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage to your brain and vital organs that can result in death."

At 104,
you may be at death's door.


I came across this headline: Harry Reid says Obamacare will lead to single-payer system

Single-payer is a strange misnomer for a system funded by millions and millions of tax-payers.

'From each according to his ability,
to each according to his need."

Just implement this model of futility,
and watch the system bleed.

Saturday, August 10, 2013



It's a six person cast, that breaks logically into 2 sets of 3. The above, in the publicity shot, are what  you might think of as the main 3 characters. They have the most lines, and they have all met before the play begins.

Then there's the second set of 3, another bunch of characters who have already met before the play starts. These are goofing-around shots:


As usual, I have learned things about my script from this cast, and of course from my director, Anna Weiler Menekseoglu. One of the interesting things about having a play produced is having a number of people go through my words so intensely - as they commit to memory words that I have not, as they seek to embody words that I have never tried to act out. It feels a bit like having them dancing around inside my brain.

Of course, on their side, they are having to live with my words, and characters I created, dancing around inside their brains. Maybe that's why Nicole Roberts appears to pulling her hair out and going mad.

The theatrical occasion
is a mutual invasion.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Dating Violence Quote Unquote

It's a stunning headline: "Girls commit dating violence as often as boys, studies show"

Stunning, and hard to believe, so I went on reading, and found this: "While most of us may not rank name-calling, or bad-mouthing another to their friends as “violence,” the researchers say they included the psychological and relationship tactics because they can have a profound impact."

I had to re-read that a few times. "Most of us" may not rank "name-calling" as violence? Yeah, no kidding. Because name-calling is not violence. It's "using your words"!

And it's not just a matter of "rank". "Rank" makes it sound like there's some smooth continuum between insult and injury. Which there isn't.

Being verbally attacked
is not the same as getting whacked.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

NY Times on Chicago Pension Crisis

I'm just going to quote the headline: "Chicago Sees Pension Crisis Drawing Near"

Of course the ominous warning of the Motor City's bankruptcy is mentioned.

I hope our civic leaders
are sufficiently adroit
to stop the financial bleeding
that drained the life of Detroit.

Monday, August 05, 2013

To Be Sure

My current play, opening soon, has 2 characters with Irish accents. Both actresses already had an Irish accent handy, so we didn't really talk much about the accent.

But now I'm directing a different play, a short one, where one character is from Dublin, and the actress does not yet have an Irish accent handy. But she can do a British accent. So I'm hoping to build on that, particularly because the posh Dublin accent owes a lot to the posh British "received pronunciation accent".

The key to getting an Irish accent built
is capturing the lilt.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Mixed Up

Just realized I've been mixing up 2 actresses:


I must confess that I'm a mixed up fellow,
as regards Ms. Lane and Ms. Bello.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

La Porte Tri


I took this while in line this morning at a tri in La Porte, Indiana. Part of the ritual of triathlon is having a stranger write your race number on your body.

Here is the lake we swam in, Stone Lake, after the swimming was done.


I came in 7 out of 11 in my age group. I was 2 seconds behind the guy who was 6 out of 11. Actually, toward the end of the run, I passed him, and then he re-passed me.

If I'd poured on an extra burst today,
maybe I could have come in first... against him, anyway.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Personal Info

Hersey Mallory, a man from Chicago, recently bought some old file cabinets from Sears, in a liquidation sale.

Oddly enough, they hadn't been emptied before they were sold. They still had personnel files for Sears employees.
The files ranged from photos to records with marital status information, as well as birth certificates, termination papers and forms detailing accusations of theft.
He wanted to return this stuff to Sears, but says he got the old run-around. He even ended up talking to a Sears rep in India.

Sears Corporate finally took notice, and responsibility, after a TV News team picked up the story.
Mallory said he was offered a $100 gift certificate as a thank you for his integrity. He said he doesn't want anything at all and said the entire matter was just one of character and doing the right thing.
Go ahead, corporations, misplace my files.
As long as this guy finds them, I'll be all smiles.

Law Office on Stage

I drove through super slow traffic to get
this cute little sofa for our set:

That's the talented and lovely Julie Soroko standing by with script in hand. She plays Brenda, the attorney for the EPA.

Descriptions of slow traffic are boring,
so perhaps it will suffice -
to say that it had me thinking:
Wouldn't a copter be nice!?