Ever get annoyed? Ever feel like someone needs to be told where the dog died? Or handed a crowbar and a tub of Elbow Grease to help them pry their head out of their arse? Congratulations--you've come to the right place.

And when I'm not commenting on the latest thing to piss me off, I'm trying to figure out my own twisted life. Because, hey, I'm like that.

On a gentler note: for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, and other assorted bullshit: You are NOT alone.

And if you're looking for a laugh, search on the key word "fuckery." It's just my little thing (as the bishop said to the actress).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Share... an exerpt from the new book

OK, I'm sharing this bit I wrote at O-dark-stupid a.m. today because I am loving it. It's rough draft, first pass so be gentle with critiques. If you ever want to know why theatre people deal with all the bs we do for theatre, this is why...

The theatre was on the opposite side of our building, behind the other leg of the U-shaped building. Like every other building besides the library and adjoining building, this was another brick Victorian confection. “Close your eyes,” Michael said, pulling out his keys.
“Michael, I’ve been in this theatre before.”
“When no one else has been here?”
OK, he had a point. And I knew what he was getting at, so I closed my eyes.

The door creaked open, an old, comfortable creak of hinges over a hundred years old that were oiled regularly. Michael put an arm behind my back and led me into the cold dark of the empty foyer. The scent of oiled wood, dust, velvet, paint, sweat, tears, memories… that gorgeous perfume that old theatres have, a combination of human imprint and ghosts, the passion of phantasies that have embedded themselves in the very fabric of the building’s reality, a place where dreams came to life for two-hours’ traffic, the place where the public came to feel the extremes of human experience and imagination, safely contained and on a time limit, a place to laugh and weep and cringe in the sacred dark of the audience while under the lights, actors gave voice to all the things the soul hides and fears to talk about in the harsh light of reality.

Who needed religion when there was the theatre? The most ancient of temples, the place of sacred communal experience, the arena where philosophy, performance, literature, art, and all the best and worst elements of the human soul were laid before an audience, a banquet for the spirit and the mind, the only place I ever truly felt alive and connected to the world.
I walked forward, eyes still closed, hands outstretched not like a blind woman feeling her way, but fingers spread to pull in the energy of the room, questing forward, finding the door to the auditorium, and all the whispers on the edge of hearing became a silent roar, filling my senses, wrapping me up, welcoming me, the spirit of the place taking me in and claiming me as its own.
There were tears on my cheeks.
Oh, dear sweet merciful Gods, I had finally come Home.

Michael was there, his protective arm behind my back, a gentle touch on my cheek brushing away the tears. His arms went around me, pulling me to him, a wall of solid humanity and maleness, a yin to the yang, and there was a kiss, a fleeting sweetness on my lips that shocked and thrilled me. I let it happen; it had to, if that makes any sense. And when it ended, I rested my head against his shoulder, over his heart, beating strong and sure under my cheek, breathing together.
I broke the embrace gently and met his eyes.
Neither of us spoke, just smiled sadly: we knew it was the magic of the place, the force of narrative causality, the fact that the theatre expected drama and there were conventions.
I touched his cheek and left without a word.

Monday, November 29, 2010

At Least I've Been Forgiven

Piddy is purring on the floor, nomming turkey & purring.

I am FUCKING exhausted & would rather be exhausted from fucking. 7k words managed for NaNoWriMo with 27 hours left. Yay, let's hear it for being totally manic!  And, after convos with 4 members of my cabal who all have told me that I have been EXCEEDINGLY manic over the past 6 months, I have to man up & go back to the doctor because either my thyroid is utterly fucked, or the removal of the bipolar diagnosis was premature.

*sigh* Merde.

Of course, it could be stress. And lack of sleep. And stress. And lack of sex.

Or i could actually be bipolar.

Waiter, this is NOT the life I ordered.

We will not discuss the parental sitch. Or that Potential Paramour has suddenly decided that we MUST meet. Amazing... I get bored, he gets interested. *slams head on the desk* Will someone explain this to me? Because it makes no sense.

I need a joint, a drink, a hot & hung babe with a perpetual erection, & a vacation.

In lieu of that, I am getting some shut eye.

G'night, Gracie.

You Hold My Heart Between Your Fluffy Paws

...So Mind Your Damn Claws!

Today I underwent the annual ordeal that is Piddy Pat's trip to the vet.

I started doing this last year; before that, her visits were infrequent because she's an indoor cat and healthy as the proverbial horse.

However, she is getting up there in years--she turns 17 on March 13th; in cat years that equal 71 (for dogs and cats, the age equation is 7 for the first year 4 for every additional year). If she was a human, she would be one of those incredible little old ladies described as "spry," followed with "SHE'S HOW OLD?!?!?!?" She's really amazing--still playful and active, although she has gotten a bit set in her ways.

It's cool; I have no problem indulging her.

I don't know for whom the vet trip is more taxing, her or me. I have to do the grab-and-shove: the quick seize and head-first stuffing into the carrier bag, a ridiculous thing my mother bought for K.C. in her final years to transport her upstairs at night. I mean, it's a dog bag--one of those stupid bags designed for brainless tits who keep a yappy rat for a fashion accessory. Sorry, people, I really don't like most small dogs--anything that is smaller than my cat qualifies as a rodent, and the sounds the little buggers make just pierce my eardrums. Real dogs go, "WOOF," (or possibly "ARF!") not "YIPPPPP!" incessantly. Anything smaller than a Jack Russell there is no need for. Man up and get a cat if you want something that small. It will improve your character because the first time you try to use the cat as a fashion accessory, you will discover what claws are for and that expensive piece of designer shit will be in shreds.

And the world will be a better place. (Yeah, I'd like to park my Buick over people like the scions of certain hotel chains.)

And forget declawing--you want to declaw your cat, I'll be happy to cut off your fingertips for you because that's what you're doing: mutilating a living creature to save a piece of furniture. Anyone who declaws a cat should be sterilized and have a limb forcibly amputated. Scum.

Yeah, the Empress is very short on sleep--going on about three hours of it. I got it into my head yesterday that I COULD go for a win on NaNoWriMo, despite not having written a friggin' word until 3:00 p.m. yesterday. Have written 5K+ and the sequel to Broom Closet is starting to shape up.

And there was much rejoicing.

But I digress. As always.

Back to Piddy Pat. Schnookalupagus. Fuzzy Butt. Pain in MY ASS! Mummy's Iddy-biddy-Piddy-pie. Stupid Cat. Schnookypuss. BITCH! Bubbie-kitty. Yeah, she's my four-legged child, and I'm good with that. And she is MY cat, just as I am HER human. She has been since she first came into the house. See, we had K.C., the Three-legged Menace, the calico with a fan club, and K.C. was Mum's cat and made sure the tiny little interloper knew it. And because Pid was not much more that a puff of orange fluff with ginormous blue eyes and the runt of the litter to boot (we always get the runt--it's the unwritten rule of the house. You want a cat with serious personality--and serious emotional issues--get the runt. The entertainment will be non-stop). I had to set up a second litterbox, retrain her, go through the hunting training--what people call "playing" with a cat--cats don't play. They fucking hunt, especially the females, and Pid is the smartest cat I've ever dealt with that way. Only cat I've ever had (and I've had some smart, evil felines) who figured out that attacking the hand got you nowhere--go for the arm: less moving parts to deal with and the human gets the message VERY quickly.

I love that cat.

We got her in 1994; she was born on my Auntie Irene's b-day, which is one of the reasons Mum got her--she was the granddaughter of Missy, a cat of ours that was stolen; she looked a lot like Missiles (but prettier--I have never seen a prettier felis domesticus than Pid, all personal prejudice aside); and she was born on Auntie's b-day, five years after we lost her to cancer.

Pid adopted me as MomCat pretty quickly--slept with me, followed me, greeted me, got pissed at me when I wasn't around--and pretty soon, it was clear that I was the only one allowed to pick her up, carry her around, snuggle her up, etc. She will jump into Mum's lap occasionally (if I'm not around) for petting and will greet Idiot once in a while for a head rub; she'll meet strangers in the house and inspect, but I'm the only human on the planet that she loves.

That kind of loyalty... when I'm feeling my lowest, that loyalty means the world. I know I can't be as bad as I think if that perfect little creature loves me. And I know it's not because I'm the regular feeder (that's actually Mum, or was up until a few months ago); it's because... it's because she loves me. I know I wouldn't have survived my miscarriage in '94 without her; a week before Xmas, I lost the baby I was carrying, just two months along, unmarried, but wanting the child, even if the father was a piece of shit. When my baby died, a part of me died, but that little cat wouldn't let me check out.

So, the bond there is pretty intense. Whenever I go away for a bit, I am told when I get home. Actually, I'm told while I'm packing--it's one of the reasons I wait until last minute because I know a certain little Fluffy Person is going to start racing around, grumbling and grousing, bitching me out because I am leaving, and she won't have someone to sleep with. Because, yes, she sleeps with me. In the warm months, it's near me on the bed; at this time of the year, we fall asleep with her cuddled up against my chest like a living stuffie, purring and kneading on my arm (which is why someone I work with thought for a while I was a cutter--don't always remember to cover the arm so the claws don't catch). She's gotten more affectionate as she's gotten older, too, so she's now added some insufferably cute bits to her bedtime routine.

Well, I should say her "Mom, would you get off that FUCKING COMPUTER and cuddle up with me?" routine. My insomnia doesn't make her happy; neither does the laptop, a sudoku puzzle, my 'droid, or even your garden variety novel. As far as Pid's concerned, if I'm sitting on the bed, I am at her disposal, so now, the routine is leap on to the bed from wherever she's been hanging, pick her way over the books, papers, electronics, etc. testing her footing with tentative but determined paws and a chirruping to me that clearly says, "Maaaaammmaaa!"; eventually making it next to the pillow, at which point she turns around a few times, dancing on the edge of the mattress, and then starts headbutting my side, which is the cutest, most endearing and undoing gesture on the planet for me because cats don't just headbutt anybody--it's the ultimate gesture of affection on the part of a feline, and my cat doesn't do it for anyone but me.

And then the manipulative little bitch starts to purr. Eeeeeeeeeevilllll. This is why I have a cat, BTW--I love sharing my life with a little creature who is utterly dependent upon me for her sustenance and survival yet doesn't kowtow or kiss ass in any way, shape or form. That's self respect and self esteem, dammit. :-D

And you wouldn't think a six-pound cat could take up a lot of room, but let me tell ya, she may be tiny, but she knows how to take up space. If the bed is empty, she takes the middle of it. And stares at me when I tell her to move like I have grown a spare head and am speaking a foreign language, a look that clearly says, "Excuse me? Why should I have to move?" And while, yes, she is six pounds and tiny and therefore can be easily airlifted and shifted, she is also fast as a greased pig and before I can sit down, has resumed her position.

Mind you, she makes sure to say something because she's been sat on once, and it was enough.

OK, I have to do something productive and earn my wages. Send Piddy a little good energy--despite the fact that she seems incredibly healthy for her age, her vet found a little heart murmur that hadn't been there before, and is a little concerned for her thyroid as she's lost half a pound in the past year (not a big deal for you or me, but when you only weigh 6.5 pounds, it's a bit much). And if I lost her, well... I'd lose a part of my heart.

BTW, I don't hate dogs. I just wish so many didn't remind me of several ex-boyfriends--hairy, needy, whiny, and stinky at the worst moments. ;-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shooting the Black Dog, Part 4: A respite

Nahant Beach, 6 p.m.-ish, 25 November 2010

There are times in this life when you build, and times when you tear down.
A time for everything, as the passage says.
And, like it or not, I’m in the time of tearing down—ripping down the walls and structures I’ve built to survive the past twenty years and finding a new way of living, and maybe even thriving.
I’m calmer now. I’m typing in the car, in the parking lot that parallels the causeway to Nahant. I’ve had a walk in the cold, over the hard-packed sand. The tide is out right now, and the first stars in the blue black of the November sky. November is the anvil of the year, I’ve come to believe, the hard cold forge of the soul leading into the long dark before the Winter Solstice. December is full of brightness… like something in the human soul realizes how bleak November has been and if we want to survive those last 21 days before the days start to lengthen, we’d better add some brightness.
The voice of The All Mother is in the background… the sweet sussuruss of the Atlantic… the incessant lullaby of the waves. No sound on earth eases my soul like that, no guitar, piano, drum or voice reaches me in the Soul Dark like Her whisper, the Great Mother, the Womb of Creation, the Ocean… There is no sound on earth that can silence and soothe the Death Need like the voice of the All Mother.
If you’ve never walked on a beach in the Anvil of the Year, never let the November wind sear through your body like a frozen flame… it scours my soul, rips away the pain inside, strips it out as the voice of the Mother whispers comfort… let it go. Let go of the Soul Dark here in the quiet dark of night on a windswept beach where there is nothing between myself and the water but a long walk on cold sand and at the end… the soft kiss of the water on my feet, plashing over my outstretched fingers, trailing in the swirl of the sand at the edge of the world while the frosted stars wink into light overhead, the only diamonds I ever needed.
This is the closest I get to mysticism, to serenity. I know when I reach the end of the beach, when I pull the car back onto the tarmac of the highway, when I have to face the reality of other people, I will lose this overwhelming sense of calm, the untwisting of the pain in my lower back, the gentle relaxed rhythm of breath that is the only sound beside the tapping of the keys. But I will try to hold on to it because no one can live in this space, no one like me, at least, and function. I wish I could. I wish I could be zen, but I’m not. I am of the Water, born with a spirit of Fire, and forever they contend within me.
In the time of tearing down, I have to accept this. I have to embrace the conflict and harness it. No matter what I call myself—writer, actor, standup philosopher—I am really just a storyteller, and the only story I have is me. I can fictionalize, spin, twist, weave… but in the end, the only thing I have to offer is myself. I feel that part of me—the Storyteller, the Witness—standing outside, watching everything that happens, trying to hold on to the thread of the story, trying to make sure my thread is not lost or cut untimely.
I am trying to define how I’ve survived. I’m trying to figure out how I keep surviving. How to endure the pain that keeps rocking my soul. I know that there is nothing and no one who can save me from this. No one but me.
I will correct one thing I said earlier—there is one thing I am profoundly thankful for: my friends. As I typed the earlier post, I was sitting in my Sbux, and the tears came. My beloved Andrew, bless him, just put his arms around me as he was sweeping, reminding me that there are such things as angels—he’s one of mine. And no matter how awful I feel, I have no right to be so self-centered and not acknowledge the blessings I do have.
To whoever’s reading this, I wish you angels—the real, tangible ones that are friends, living, breathing fellow humans who have the grace and strength to reach out when you are falling into the abyss.
Will post this later; getting cold in here, and the battery is getting low.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shooting the Black Dog, Part 3 - Piss on this Hallmark Holiday

There, I've said it.

I am in a black mood. I mean, pitch black, fuck you, die black mood.

Because really, I'm not happy.

And I get that part of it is my hormones--I'm in the Xanax Days of the month, the run-up to the Bleeding that means I am alternatively climbing-the-walls, fuck-me-bloody horny, utterly enraged and suicidally depressed, and wouldn't ya know? It falls on the holiday, this STUPID MANUFACTURED BULLSHIT holiday.

There, I said it.
And I don't give a flying fuck.
Because right now, peeps, I AM NOT thankful for my life. Because while I am brilliant, fabulous, talented, committed, passionate, honest, brutally fucking honest with everything and everyone, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, DEAL WITH IT because hey, I have to, I am also a complete, utter fuck up. A loser. A dead end.
Why? Hey, I'm 43 and I've thrown my life away taking care of other people, fostering the dreams and failed hopes of others, and fighting this STUPID FUCKING "disorder"--multiple disorders, who the fuck am I kidding? Shit I inherited, shit that got thrust on me, shit that I never wanted, never deserved, but hey, kid, that's LIFE.
That's life. It's the only fucking explanation, end of story--it's not about God's Will or God's Plan, it's about that's how it fucking works, that's how it goes, suck it up, buttercup, and drain that cup to the dregs because that's it.
Three years ago on this stupid holiday that I try to ignore, I flew to England, engaged, expecting to get the beautiful ring that had been designed for me, expecting to be held and loved, and on the first steps to the relationship I had thought I'd never have.
Should've known that I don't have that kind of luck. He was already getting it on with one of my friends, a pathetic fat girl who traded one loser for another, someone without the backbone to stand up to her life and needed me to save her from her abusive piece of shit of a husband, the person on the other side of the fucking ocean, not all her precious girlfriends in England.

Why? Because I'm not afraid to be an asshole. I'm not afraid to be myself. And right now I'm paying the price for it. I'm alone.

No kids, no partner, nothing but an elderly cat, an elderly mother getting dafter by the day, and a lifeful of regrets and bitterness.

Oh, and talent. Gobs and gobs of talent and good friends. When I got home from that trip, my mother developed a severe infection in her leg. They had to amputate a toe, remove her new knee joint, clean it out, and put it back in. During that time, she developed an MRSI. She spent Xmas in the hospital. I had to cook a turkey for the first time--the one food I never cooked because it was the one thing she makes that I love, I adore and for me to cook it would mean that she'd finally gotten too old.
That she was dying.
She said to me on that sad, horrible Xmas, as we sat on her hospital bed, and she knew how much I was hurting, that I had expected to be planning my wedding, planning for a child, that everything happened for a reason--that things went wrong with FuckWad because Mum needed me.
I wanted to open my veins right there, in her hospital room and just end it.
I still do.

And while none of us are ever alone, we all are. Really. We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone, locked in our own skulls, lost in our own pain, needs, thoughts... the rest of the world is really an illusion, a collective one, true, but an illusion, because it's all filtered through our individual perception.
Right now, I am alone. And I feel it. And instead of ending the pain I'm feeling in a way that would mean this consciousness known variably as The Empress, Riz, Lisa, whatever the fuck you know me as, I'm going to be a good kid and take my half tab of Xanax and pray that it works because I know the day is coming when it won't because I'm needing it more often, and I know what that means.

This is how I know that God is not what I was taught in Catholic school. He's not all-knowing, all-seeing, all-anything. He's just another poor fool, stumbling around, a very big kid with a chemistry set and we're his big experiment.

A failed one.

More later.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing... a new term!

I'm going to be "shogging" (SHort blOGging) this weekend... random thoughts and fuckery as I think of it. Expect short bursts of insanity.

I'm Thinking of a New Direction...

Random thought...

Y'know, considering some of the IM convos I've had over the years with certain gents, I'm wondering if I missed my calling as either a phone sex operator or a porn film director.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dearest Blurkers

Just a note of thanks for all who are blurking around the blog. The stats are climbing, and it's just nice to know someone's reading as I hunch over my lappie, tippy-tapping away like a friggin' loon...

MWA! An early "Happy Thanksgiving" to my fellow A'merkins, and a damn good rest of the week to everyone else (because there are people reading in Canada, the UK, China, Russia, South Africa, and all across Europe). I will be blogging over the weekend (which starts tomorrow at noon for me), but no clue about internet access, and honestly, most of my focus is going to be on finishing the rewrite of One Flew Out of the Broom Closet and the first draft of the sequel, Becca Get Your Broom so the agent querying can begin when they start accepting queries again in January. And then... focus goes to the one-woman show, formerly titled Get In, Sit Down, Shut Up, Hang On; new working title: Cigarettes and Xanax. Because, honestly, it's the vanilla clove cigarettes (two a week, I promise) and the half-tabs of Xanax that are getting me through.

That and your kind attention.

Much love,
Your Empress

Batteries not Included (and I'm Good with It)

I grew up in the 1970's and came of age in the 80's, which means all the toys I had are being brought back as Retro and making me feel sod-all old. However, I still HAVE a lot of those toys, so if I ever have kids, they can whine about the museum pieces I won't allow them to touch.

(Hey, I'm an only child--I never had to share, dammit, why start now?)

I even have the sock monkey my mother made me and stuffed with old nylons. OK, maybe Mum isn't the only one with a slight hoarding problem, but mine is improving. I promise. Besides, my shit is actually collectible. (Why am I hearing George Carlin's "Place for My Stuff" routine in my head... "Ever notice that your stuff is stuff and everyone else's stuff is SHIT?" Started reading his sortabiography last night, Last Words. *sigh* I miss ya, Georgie. You were the cat's ass and the mutt's nuts.)

Anyhoo, back then most toys didn't have batteries. If it had batteries, it was special. This was especially true about dolls. Now, I had one of the very first Baby Alive dolls. This doll came out when I was about sevenish... we were living on Memorial Drive, so that would be about right... Yeah, the adult ADD is kicking in big time today. After being woken out of a sound sleep to pick Mum up from a fall at 2:30 a.m. and not getting back to sleep until 4... awake at half eight and having to wait for the bathroom for over 20 minutes while Idiot played with the water... argh. I needs a nap, Precioussss, I does.

ANYWAY... Baby Alive. Baby doll. Two D-cell batteries in a compartment in the back--a compartment, I might add, that had a catch to open it, NOT A FUCKING TINY SCREW! I mean, c'mon, people! What fucking moron of a jackass decided that EVERY FUCKING BATTERY DOOR ON THE PLANET should now be accessed only with a screwdriver? I want to find that $%^&*() and beat them over the head with a heavy child's toy, dammit, because a) WHY are you giving a child under the age of three something that requires batteries? Would you let the little fucker development some imagination, for the love of everything holy? and b) if the little anklebiter is TOO STUPID to know that they're NOT supposed to eat batteries AND YOU, as a PARENT are TOO STUPID to NOT teach them this, isn't it better that they're removed from the gene pool? This is called selective adaptation, and IT'S A GOOD THING.


OK, BABY ALIVE... 2 D-cell batteries, giving the damn doll some heft, blonde hair in that same stupid style every baby doll had at that point in history, the eyes opened and closed (which didn't require batteries), the mouth moved when you shoved the bottle or spoon in it, and you had to mix up the little special food packets with water, and ONLY put water in the bottle.

Mum was very clear about this. NOT juice--the baby didn't want juice, she could only drink water. DEFINITELY NOT Kool-Aid or Zarex, JUST WATER, LISA.

And then the magic happened! Because unlike other baby dolls that just tinkled, Baby Alive also crapped! Yes! And little mothers-in-training got to have the magical experience of changing a diaper at the age of seven, and cleaning up the little thing's bottom without Mum having to worry about the new REAL baby being dropped on its head.

In theory, this doll was a training tool--a gender-specific, gender-stereotype doll, meant to train little girls to grow up to be mommies, and darn good, conscientious mommies, too, who could mix up baby cereal and wipe a baby's ass the right way! What they didn't realize was that the doll was REALLY a catalyst for curiosity--how the hell did the poop get from the mouth to the bum? Baby Alive caused many an impromptu surgery, and I'm sure set many young girls on the path to proctology.

Baby Alive was as far as I went down the path of battery-operated dolls. I was lucky; I had the pre-talking one. I don't like dolls that talk; I mean, they're boring--limited phrases, no real expression on their faces... they're fucking creepy. Vacuous. CREEPY. Like, I just got a shiver up my neck thinking about it...

Now, my mother is just the opposite. She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES things that talk and dance--she thinks they're the bees knees, especially if the stupid thing is motion-activated. She has bought those goddamned things by the dozen. I won't allow 'em in the house. NO FUCKING WAY will I have some stupid triad of snowmen scaring the piss out of me (my bladder is over 40--it's possible) at 2:00 a.m. on my way to the bathroom, jumping up and down, singing horrid songs in tinny voices that pierce my eardrums. I made her take 'em into work--torture her co-workers, not me. She said to me, "What are you going to do when you have kids and I buy this stuff for my grandchildren?"

I gave her The Look. "One, you will NOT purchase that crap for any child that THIS body produces. My children will curse me and develop GOBS of imagination by playing with toys that require them to THINK and PLAY and possibly get dirty and even bloody. Two, if you DO ignore this edict, the SHIT STAYS AT YOUR HOUSE." She thinks I will be an evil parent.

I'm good with that.

Now, there is a legitimate reason I dislike these toys. See, I worked in a shop when the first dancing flowers came out in the late 80's--y'know, those stupid plastic daisies with the sunglasses on in the plastic pot that when you passed them, the music went off and they started bobbing insanely? And then came the gorillas...

Let me tell you, spend five days a week behind a counter in a gift and notions shop in a busy mall with lots of over-producing suburbanites dragging their maggoty houseapes in and leaving them to roam and destroy, and of course, with sub-par intelligence because hey, mum and dad bought a house built on subdivision built over a Superfund site... Yeah. And of course, the stupid things were RIDICULOUSLY overpriced because they were the Latest Thing, so after having to listen to TWENTY FIVE OF THE FUCKING THINGS GOING OFF OUT OF UNISON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! came the chorus of begging, whining, and screaming for one... Christ, even the memory gives me a headache.

To this day, if I walk into a store that has that kind of crap near the register, I freak out. Seriously.

Because the things are like, totally, possessed. There's no expression in the eyes, they just start reacting to motion and noise and movement... muttering inanities, or worse, Xmas songs...

Now, I'm cool (to a point) with the Halloween stuff. Scaring the piss out of someone for a laugh as a part of the holiday makes total sense to me. TOTAL sense. That's what Halloween is about. Any other holiday... Nah. Nope. No freakin' way. And the stuff out today... it's not like it was twenty, thirty years ago when it took big-ass batteries to run 'em. Now, they have tiny little button cells and solar panels and USB cords and microchips, and I have read enough science fiction to know that this is just a Very Bad Idea.

Now, I am a Science Retard. I get the basics--DNA, evolution, the importance of not fucking really close relations (not that I would, believe me), don't let the beams cross, and stay away from the big yellow triangle.

Ever think about that? The yellow radiation triangle? I wonder if the Jewish atomic scientists who escaped the Nazis did that on purpose--"Hey, Hitler, you think the Jews are badass, HAVE A DOSE OF THIS SHIT!"

I'm probably wrong about that, but it's a nice thought. It's like the fact that the Library of Congress classification system for scripture begins with the letters "BS." (THIS IS TRUE!)

Just makes me happy.

Mechanics I understand--insert Tab A into Slot B--it's just a slightly more complicated version of construction. Chemistry I'm good with, at least if it involves food--I understand those kind of chemical reactions. But hard science... Nah. Goes right over my head. Blonder than a Barbie doll when the conversation goes quantum, y'know?

And I am OK with this, believe or not. I know enough to get by and survive, and am confident enough that if the zombie apocalypse comes (or the vampire one, I can go either way), I can survive OK. I have Army manuals on improvised field munitions, know how to scrounge parts, and gimme a Chilton manual, and I can get damn near any vehicle built before 1985 going with a basic tool kit with a little trial and error. There is a reason I don't want to own a car built before 1985, and that's it--I can pop the hood on a 1983 Caprice and find the air filter and all the places to fill up the fluids; no computers, no automated locks or windows. Plus, the exposure to living history folks has shown me that a) I know how to build a fire and keep the fucker going (a very, very important and much underrated skill unless you're in the situation) and b) just as importantly, I can cook a damn good meal over one without burning myself OR the food. I get the basics of how a generator works and can find books in a library without a computer catalog. I can even write longhand, fairly legibly. And while I could never shoot my cat, I could be induced to barbecue a dog if nothing else was available--more meat on them, unless you're talking about the yappy rats too many people use as fashion accessories.

So I'm good. Where I get antsy is the whole robotics industry.

Now, yeah, I'm a Futurama fan, and honestly, knowing how the world functions, I think we're far more likely to develop robots a la Bender Bending Rodriguez, I still have a healthy fear born from seeing I, Robot, a gajillion clips of 2001, and reading a short story called "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster. Yes, I have read Heinlein's Future Histories and love Dora, Pallas Athene, Mycroft Holmes, and the lot; ditto for SolAce from Spider Robinson's Callahan's Chronicles. HOWEVER... robotic development is being sponsored by big corporations. The same big corporations who are poisoning the food supply, manipulating government and doing all kinds of bad things with our consumer acquiescence. (Yeah, I'm guilty, too. It's kinda why I'm cool about an apocalypse happening.) So... I don't trust automated thingies that talk and move on their own because one day, they're gonna make 'em too smart, and we won't be able to escape because they'll have hidden the weapons, locked down the cars, and it'll be the Matrix all over again.

I know this because I'm a Science Retard. And I'm good with that.

The Wikipedia article on "The Machine Stops" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Machine_Stops

The creepiest commercial for Baby Alive--I remember this one:

Monday, November 22, 2010

The One Rule of Writing


Sod the grammar, screw the punctuation, FUCK THE RULES--WRITE THE STORY BURNING IN YOUR SOUL!

Just a little NaNoWriMo inspiration for those of us hideously failing (but blogging furiously!)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shooting the Black Dog, Part 2

In Queen of the Damned, the character of Khayman, one of the first vampires, experiences long years of forgetting who he is, and during that time, he experiences joy—pure joy of existence, a wandering fool, drinking blood when he needs it and enjoying his life. When he is reminded of who he is, it’s purest, utter agony and sends him into madness.

My mother likes to tell a story about when I was seven. There was an afghan on the back of the couch (ugly fucking thing, too—brown and orange, *gak*) and evidently, a thread got snipped causing a hole in the afghan. I was accused, I denied (because hey, I wasn’t the one knitting in that spot on the couch the day before with the really sharp scissors, SHE WAS), and then called a liar. I was furious and stormed out of the apartment—no way was I going to my room or being punished for something I hadn’t done. I sat under the front window, pissed as hell, muttering I was going to run away to my grandmother’s. Well, Ma came out, handed me a dime for the bus, and told me to go ahead, I thought things would be so much better. I took my ball and my doll, walked the block and a half to the bus stop, climbed on the bus, and went to my grandmother’s.
Who wasn’t home. Her best friend came walking by, saw me, and took me down to her house. Now, I was happy and relaxed—I was distracted from thinking about what had upset me. I was safe and having fun, and this lasted until my grandparents got home and brought my mother with them. That was when I burst in to tears.

Now, Ma’s version of this is that I was faking and trying to get sympathy. I explained to her a couple of years ago the facts—how I manage to put my head someplace else to forget when I’m really upset.

So, if you’re wondering why my memory is utter piss these days, there you have it. When I am a little too stressed, my brain puts up a shield and not a lot gets through. It's a good thing and a bad thing: good because it means I can escape the stress and live in the moment--I can enjoy the beauty of a moment, have little bites of joy despite all the shit. That is SUCH a gift! It's a bad thing because I forget too much: appointments, eating, meds, details... *shakes head*

I realize from reactions that yesterday’s post was a little intense, even for me. Allow me to assure folks, I’m OK right now. I’m taking my meds, monitoring my moods, and trying to keep everything balanced. I think I’m dealing with a little bit of S.A.D. with the season changed & DST ending; working on upping some nutrients to combat that. And yes, I’m keeping the Xanax handy for the bad hormone days.

There comes a point, however, when the meds are a burden (and I’m not just talking financial). I have had days when I’ve wanted to flush the sodding things away, just take my chances, because it’s ridiculous that my existence depends on a small handful of pills every day. It’s annoying. Every now and then, I’ll have a day when I forget to take them, and I’m fabulous—productive, focused, great, totally up and happy… and then I get utterly manic and the world crashed, and I’m like OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG… and the manic hamster on the wheel in my brain goes into overdrive, racing until its miserable little rodent heart is going to burst…

Lot of rodent metaphors for depression in these posts, eh? That’s fine with me; with the exception of rabbits, I’m not partial to rodents—vermin, most of ‘em. Nasty things. Mobile cat toys that do not require batteries.

The suicidal episodes… people always say, “Why didn’t you call me?” How do you answer that question? Honestly, what the fuck do you say to someone when they ask you, why, in the middle of a shitstorm of pain, you didn’t think to pick up the phone and call. Um, because I could barely remember my own name at the time? Because I was too busy trying to die? Because in that moment, I really didn’t think anyone gave a shit or wanted me around? Because you don’t get what the fuck I’m going through and are going to use bullshit arguments on me that don’t help?
I have a dozen answers for that question, and none of them nice. The other part of it is that in that moment, I’m not in reality. There’s a three-foot-thick invisible wall between me and the world. I can’t hear properly. I can’t feel things properly. Nothing is real but The Pain. There’s a voice in my head talking to me, trying to get me to wake up, to come out of this state, but I can’t really hear it. I can’t register it. I know it’s making sense, but it’s not reaching me.

It’s check out time.

That’s the only coherent thought—check out time. Time to go, time to fly. Don’t mourn me, don’t miss me, this is for the best, it’s nobody’s fault but mine, I’m not strong enough to bear this pain anymore, I love you, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me because I can’t forgive myself.

I once tried to explain the Death Need to my analyst. He was trying to give me all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t die, and why I should call him if I was feeling like dying, and when I told him that I wouldn’t call him, he tried to put the guilt on me that wouldn’t it be a bad reflection on him as a professional, as my analyst, that I had killed myself while under his care? (He was getting desperate at this point—I’m a stubborn bitch when I’m in that place. Then again, when am I not?)

My response to him was, “It’s not your fault. Why would you ever think that? If I check out, it’s my decision. It’s my responsibility—my life.” That was when I had the epiphany about why I needed to die—why, in those pitch black, horrific moments, I needed to end my existence: it was the ultimate act of control.

Yeah, you read that right: the ultimate act of control. Understand, most of the time when I have been in that place, on the brink of checking out, it’s because I’ve been triggered—my body chemistry is in chaos and my PTSD has been triggered at the same time, which means I’m deep in flashback and the world is spinning out of control and I am in The Bad Place, the Dark Place, the place where I am small and helpless and being hurt or seeing someone else being hurt and I am too small to help or stop them. Dying by my own hand means I have control over the one thing that is mine—my life. It’s telling the people who have hurt me that they may control everything else, but this, this is mine.

This has been especially true during the times when I've been in an abusive situation and during the aftermath of the miscarriage.

OK, it’s not the greatest feat of logic in the world, I’ll admit that. In the clear light of day in a place of calm and control and balance, I know that that logic doesn’t work. It makes sense in the moment, but not when the moment of pain has passed.

And it’s humiliating. HUMILIATING to feel this way. To be the person that I am—and I’ve earned the nickname Empress a hundred times over—and have a suicidal episode, a depressive episode that has me trying to die, is the ultimate humiliation. (Never mind the experience of being watched by my nearest and dearest--to have my friends on Suicide Alert is just horrible, guilt-inducing humiliation.) I have been through therapy, I take my meds, WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! Why the fuck do I have to be on the lookout for this shit? Haven’t I been through enough? Haven’t I put my friends through enough? WHAT THE FUCK!?!? I know my life isn’t perfect, but hell, I have so many gifts, so much talent and ability, so many loving friends, WHY DO I STILL FEEL THIS WAY?!?!?

I think this is the reason I still believe in some kind of deity—I need someone to yell at who doesn’t yell back. It's also one of the reasons I'm convinced God is male. You yell at a woman, that bitch yells back.

Anyway, it’s quarter till seven on Sunday morning as I write this, I haven’t had any sleep. Insomnia has been kicking my ass, and despite a solid ten hours of shut-eye last night and a nap on top of it, my sleep schedule is still fucked up. Argh.

The final note—for anyone reading this, whether you’re one of my friends or a stranger—if you are ever in that place where you are ready to checkout, I am here. Reach out to me. I will not try to talk you out of it; I will not use spurious “you have everything to live for” arguments. I will be there for you, I will walk through the pain with you, and if I can throw you a lifeline, I will. I am NOT a mental health professional, I'm not a messiah--I'm just a stubborn bitch who's still alive thanks to a) my own thickness and b) the love of amazing friends. Twit me at EmpressRiz on Twitter—quickest way to get me. Don’t suffer alone.

We are all in this together. And none of us is alone. NONE OF US.

Much love and in need of sleep,
Your Empress

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shooting the Black Dog, Part 1


I'm not familiar with the Mackenzie Taylor's work, but I will get familiar with it.

This hit a little hard this a.m. when I read it; Jim Jefferies posted it on FB & Twit, and it was a gut punch, especially after listening to Jim's stuff over the past couple of days.

One of the reasons Jim made a fan of me is the honesty in his material--the fact that he's taken the shit of his life and used it to raise roses. It's something I've been trying to do for years with a variable level of success.

There were a lot of posts on Jim's FB page in response; thankfully, all of them kind. My heart is breaking for his family; my heart is especially breaking for Mackenzie Taylor. Been there, tried it.

Thank the merciful Gods, failed all three times.

If you are one of those people who has never had to deal with brain/body chemistry-based depression, consider yourself the luckiest mother fucker on the planet. Science is proving these days that a lot of the diagnosable mental illnesses--bipolar, schizophrenia, disassociative disorder--are actually physical conditions, NOT "mental illnesses," or mental weaknesses as so many try to view them.

(How ironic is it that Queen's "The Show Must Go On" just came on the shuffle on the Zune?)

They have actually mapped the chemical changes in the brain during episodes--the maps, especially with disassociative disorder (multiple personalities)--are amazing. As someone who's dealt with depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal tendencies since the age of 3 (yeah, I remember wanting to not exist at age 3), I keep half an eye on research coming out.

Part of the problem with diagnostics is a) we're dealing with the human brain. Short of taking out a slice and running it under a microscrope and a barrage of tests, there are several diseases that cannot be diagnosed until AFTER death. Alzheimer's is one of them. b) The "single track" approach of Western medicine. While some diseases run in families (bipolar is one; ditto, certain forms of anxiety; schizophrenia does as well, and there are higher incidents of it in children fathered by men over 50), many of them manifest in some family members and not others--like any other hereditary ailment, like diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease--it's a crap shoot.

What too many doctors do not take into account are the environmental factors. The brain is a chemical factory--90% of its capacity isn't tapped (one of these days I have to find a citation for that, but it won't be today)--and as any good chemist will tell you, you have to have the right combination of catalysts to get a certain chemical reaction. When you're dealing with the brain chemistry illnesses (I'm using that term instead of mental illnesses; it's more accurate), there are so often multiple environmental factors--triggers--that some are exposed to and others aren't.

Spider Robinson once commented in a Callahan's story that our society has become so fucked that our greatest artists have to poison themselves to endure; he was specifically referring to the heroin use by musicians like Ray Charles, James Taylor, and a few others I can't remember right now.

A number of family members of bipolars who had suicided commented that they were comedians. I wonder how many of them had been abused, raped or hurt, because all too often, that is a common factor with the brain chemistry illnesses--a traumatic event that triggers protective measures.

I was just relieved there were no ugly words. All too often, the general reaction is, "loser!" And for those left behind, it seems like such a selfish act. The day after I tried to slash my wrists in February, my best friend, Vicki... Gods, may she forgive me for putting her through such awfulness... asking why I could end my life, didn't I know how badly people needed me? How important I was?

The honest answer is "no." When you get to the point you're ready to check out, there is nothing that exists in the world but The Pain. And The Pain is like a rat in your soul--a voracious, hellacious evil bastard who sits there, devouring your soul, ripping into you with his vicious claws and rapacious teeth, exposing every last awful detail of your life and your being, every dark, ugly truth, every horrible moment, and you know that you are NOTHING and will NEVER be anything, and all that's left is The Pain, and the world is empty and there is nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing but darkness and loneliness and there never will be.

The funny part of suicide--and there IS a funny part--is the internal debate about how you're going to check out. Because, hey, you're causing enough pain as it is, let's make the clean up as easy as possible! See, pills are bad--you puke. Hanging--you shit yourself: the body completely evacuates while you're up there, and who the fuck wants to do that to a loved one? Bad enough they've got to foot the expense for the funeral, and insurance doesn't cover suicides. Seriously! I always went for the slash because it can be done in a bathtub or outside, so all you have to clean up is any blood that escapes the porcelain.

OK, Sbux is closing. Part 2 tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Travel Advisory

"Don't fuck with me--I'm an American.

I am a PROFESSIONAL asshole."

A Riz Original

OK, let's lighten it up a bit... those last two posts were sodding intense.

If I want to crack up my friends from other countries, I have only to say those words. They're my words--I came up with that statement, so don't try to cop it without giving me credit. I will hunt you down and kill you because, as it says above, I'm an American.

Hmmmm... that may have to be one of the official Kinsale Chronicles t-shirts when the logo is done and the website goes live... (Yes, I am going to have a website very soon. Much fuckery, mayhem, and marketing of the book and the self to ensue...)

Now, I am seldom taken for an American by people who don't already know I'm an American.

This is NOT a bad thing.

This is actually a VERY, VERY GOOD thing.

I usually get taken for Canadian--I like that. Technically, with three great-grandparents who came here from Ireland and France via Canada, I can claim to be a Canadian-American. I'm very, very good with that. Even the Canadians take me for a Canadian.

Until I get pissed off--then, there's no question about where I'm from, but that's another story.

No, I'm pleased to be taken for a Canadian because honestly, folks, we don't always represent well when we leave our borders (actually, many of us don't represent well within our borders, but that's another story as well). I have friends who work at the Halifax Citadel, and they have a lot of American tourists inflicted upon them.

Those of us from the New England area tend to rep the best--many of us have ties to the Maritimes, and visiting Halifax is a bit of a homecoming.

Those of us from south of the Manson-Nixon line, however... NOT so good. *sigh* And I find that really surprising, considering the legendary Southern hospitality, but it's true, kids. Aside from the stories, I've had to deal with it directly (like the tourist on the ghost tour in Annapolis Royal who kept taking flash pictures left and right until I threatened to shove my walking stick up her arse if she did it again). She had a Southern accent thicker than ice cold molasses.

The stories from the Citadel... wow. When I was there in October of '09, the girls from the Coffee Bar and the Gift Shop would come into the Soldier's Library and sit at my table ("my office"... LOVE those kids and miss 'em) and every day, there was a new story of Southern American Tourist Stupidity.

I'm not kidding. There was the the man from Georgia for whom his traveling companion apologized for making REALLY stupid statements about health care and not listening when the Canadian piper honestly answered about the great quality of his health care. The family that did not control its three miserable little offspring until they happen to overhear the person in the next room threaten to shove their kids down an oubliette. (Wonder who that was?) There was the tourist from Alabama who told the girl at the register that they were going to Canada the next day, and when she was told that she was in Canada, replied, "Oh, no, we're in Nova Scotia! We're going to Canada TOMORROW."


But the worst example? *sigh* A tourist asked if they could walk to the ferry terminal from the Hill. The girl at the register said, "Sure, just walk straight down the hill and you'll get there."

"How long will it take me?"

"Oh, about ten, fifteen minutes."

"Is that in Canadian minutes or American minutes?"

I shit you not.

So please, folks, when traveling, remember that you're representing all of us. Please don't let down the side.

And could the State Department revoke the passports of anyone who has run on the Tea Party or Grizzly Mama tickets? They make us all look retarded.

Actually, let me share one story of how I showed my nationality... about three, four years ago, I was up in Hfax for a visit in the spring. I was directing a show at the time--Guards! Guards! the only show I've ever done where I wanted to slaughter the techies and adored the actors--GODS, WHAT A FRIGGIN' NIGHTMARE!--anyway, the trip had been planned before the show was slated, so here I am, in the middle of rehearsals, disappearing for a week and a half. I wasn't happy about it, but I needed the vacation.

Soooo... here we are, it's Monday, I'm at the airport, ready to get on my flight that will deliver me to Logan within an hour and a half, where I will grab a cab and head right for rehearsal. RIGHT! I am Director Woman! I am on-the-go and on-the-spot! I am at the airport two hours prior to departure! My FUCKING FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED!

Now, I usually fly Air Canada. I like their service--it's awesome. I've taken them to Canada and England, and I really like traveling with them. This time, however, Air Canada let me down. There was no one at the check in desk, no information, nada. And now I have to walk the length of Hfax Airport to get to the ticket counter.

At that point in my life, I weighed another 100+ pounds and my arthritis was ridiculous. Walking more than a few dozen yards left me fagged and shagged and ready to die. However... I was pissed off. I HAD SHIT TO DO, GODDAMMIT! and there was no one at the checkin counter. So, with Vicki in my enraged wake, I marched the length of the airport, pushing the overloaded luggage trolly, ready to kill.

I get to the ticket desk and there are three active lines: the First Class, the ordinary people line, and the business class line. Well, there is no one at the First Class window, the business class has a few people in it, and the person at the ordinary people line disappears trying to take care of the person at the window at that moment.

I wait.

The line grows behind me. The First Class bitch takes the Canadian Forces person in front of me; I'm down with that. What I am not down with is when she's done with him, she doesn't help anyone in the ordinary person line. And the business class guy is doing the same.

And the line is growing behind me.

The pain in my knees and back is growing. There is no place to sit, and I have been on my feet a little too long for comfort, especially after the enraged traverse through the airport. Vicki is standing off to the side and has ceased to remind me to be calm. There are two security men standing near her, watching me carefully, as I am spouting off to her.

I am beyond furious at this point; my rage has reached the point of incandescent and I am making it clear that I am going to make someone's life a holy fucking hell if I don't get some service. I have been told four times that the agent for the ordinary people line will be back as soon as possible. It has been half an hour. I am NOT HAPPY.

And I should mention my accent--my accent has gone from Standard American to Thick Nahth Shah Bahstin to Ghetto Harlem to Southern Virginia to Alabama. And it's headin' for NOLA.

Vicki explains this to her hubbie on the phone. Now, Craig is the cleanest speaking guys on the planet. When he asked her how far south my accent had gone and she said, "She just hit Alabama," Craig replied, "Oh, SHIT."

The crisis came two minutes later when a Quebecois cunt cut in front of me and went up to the counter and tried to get served at the business line. I lost it.

"Excuse me, bitch, but I DON'T FUCKIN' THINK SO! That's right, I am talking TO YOU, get your Quebecois ass out of that line and wait your turn like the rest of us, or I will personally KICK YOUR ASS ALL THE WAY BACK TO MONTREAL!"

Now, I have not had any alcohol, nor have I taken any other alternative substance. I have just nearly been pushed over as this woman shoved past me, and because I am an American and I am tired and my schedule has been fucked up and I am going to miss a rehearsal for a play opening in two weeks, I AM DONE.

And I don't like certain strains of the Quebecois (like most of Canada--it's a prejudice I've been taught, it's not nice, but it's yet to be proven unfounded outside of dealing with the lovely personnel in the Montreal airport).

She is still trying to ignore me when I announce, "Bitch, don't even think about it--I am an American and a professional asshole. I WILL DO IT."

At this point she looks over her shoulder and sees 5'9", 430 lbs of enraged American glaring at her and taking a heavy step forward. She got her ass out of line, and the little man in the business class line--who looked like he needed to change his trousers--said to me in a shaking voice, "Can I help you, ma'am?"

At which point, my veneer of civility returned, I smiled sweetly, and all was resolved.

Alcoholocaust - the First Reaction

“What’re you feeding that kid?”
“It’s not what he’s eating; it’s what’s eating him!” - from The Stuntman

I’d like to state for the record that I am a fucking mess atm, and I’m writing because a) I have no tequila in the house; b) if I don’t, I’m going to scream and scream loudly; and c) I don’t fucking know.

Well, I watched Alcoholocaust tonight with Tory and the interview on the disc, and honestly, I feel like my heart’s been ripped out of my chest.
This is NOT a bad feeling.

Faithful readers, you’ve been hearing me natter about Jim Jefferies for the past few months like a pixilated school girl. Well, suck it up, buttercup, I am not giving it up.
Alcoholocaust is brilliant.
Utterly, completely, unabashedly brilliant. It was worth the wait. I will be roadtripping to either New Jersey or Foxwoods to see Jim (I’m hoping for Jersey because Tory may roadtrip up from PA—possibly with KJ—to join me). I don’t give a rat’s nadgers if it’s the same material; some of the material was done at the show in NYC, some of it I haven’t heard before.

And the brothel story I’ve been dying to hear? Genius. Brilliant. Heartwrenching. Hysterical.
Alcoholocaust is NOT a standup DVD, and to call it that demeans the work. Sorry, Jim, hate to break it to you, luv, but you’ve passed beyond being a standup comic and into the realm of storyteller. Drop the c-bomb all you like, man, but you’ve moved up the ladder.

I want to state for the record that I am a pretty damn demanding audience member. I’m a trained actor (yeah, yeah, I know, pretentious fucking statement, but true) and director. I know good from bad, I know when someone’s faking it, and when someone is giving their all. I’ve had a lot to say about truth on this blog (and have more to say about it, too), especially as it relates to comedy and performance.

Now, let’s talk about bravery. Courage. As Bert Lahr would say, “The Noive.”

Jim, you broke my heart tonight. I’ve been waiting for this damn DVD since August; maybe not a very long time, but still… It was so worth the wait. You weren’t overstating the quality of it when you were gushing about it at Caroline’s, and yes, it is better than Contraband and I Swear to God. You did exactly as I was hoping—combined the polish of ISWTG with the audience rapport of Contraband, and sacre merde, man… it’s a work of genius. If you were playing Boston on your birthday, I would buy you dinner and have my card out before you could even remember where your wallet was just to say thank you. Hell, I'll still buy you dinner with no strings attached.
Why? Well, kids, let’s run it down:
a) AWESOME material; from having a go at lesbians to women who don’t pay to the advantage of being gay to hypocrisy to the futility of dreams to the reality of dealing with depression. And the brothel story. Jesus wept for joy, the brothel story…
b) No prisoners, no holds barred, no stops, no excuses. Jim excoriates himself as much as the audience; he takes everyone to task for being stupid and being hypocrites.
c) Brilliant, committed storytelling – pacing, language, delivery all SPOT ON!

I said above that this is not a standup DVD; Alcoholocaust teeters on the edge of being a one-man show and brought back to mind Whoopi Goldberg’s debut HBO special back in the 80’s. If you’ve only ever seen Whoopi cutting up on Comic Relief or dishing on The View, you have missed something. In that first special, she created four vignettes of different characters and the material was piss-y’self-funny and heartbreaking.
Jim doesn’t create characters—his stuff is drawn from life, and I use the word “drawn” specifically—in the interview on the extras, he makes a point that many people take his material as verbatim from life—his opinions, his reality, who he is—and that it really isn’t, it’s about getting a laugh. As honest as his material is, it’s still being passed through a filter to turn it into art, and the Jim Jefferies, comedian and storyteller, is the public persona, an aspect, not the whole of the man. I wish some of his oikier fans on FB would remember this, but hey… it’s all in fun.

I had the joy of sharing the DVD with a dear friend ; I had been hoping it would arrive early (and it did—eleven days earlier than amazon.uk promised), so instead of putzing around in Borders over coffee , Tory and I holed up at Hole-in-the-Square where he was staying and laughed ourselves silly. Well…

I’m going to correct that. We laughed. A lot. But there were a lot of, “Oh, Jim,” moments—the “zing” line that hit home and broke my heart more than once. I keep saying that… allow me to elaborate, and I’ll use a bit of his I’ve mentioned before. Jim does a fabulous bit on foreplay—the difference between the needs of a man and the needs of a woman. It’s a hell of a wind-up—when he greets the cunt, I almost fell off the chair (and I’ve seen him do this bit live, so it’s not like it’s new to me)—and it’s classic dirty material, just a great bit on sex.
Until he hits the last three lines.

I’m not going to quote them here; you want to hear them, you can either buy or rent Alcoholocaust (or check YouTube to see if the bit is still up there; someone caught it at a gig; vid and audio quality is piss, but the performance is damn good), or better yet, catch one of his live shows—the UK tour is in full swing and US dates are being added finally. I don’t know who Jim wrote those lines for; I don’t want to know. But I know the next time (if there ever is a next time) I’m in that situation in a relationship, I’m going to remind myself that my way of seeing things is not necessarily the only correct view. Yeah, it’s that deep, and if your heart doesn’t break just a little when you watch that moment, you don’t have a heart.

The brothel story… A lot has been written about this bit. A lot more will be written about this bit. My tuppence… I laughed, I almost cried, and my respect for Jim Jefferies—which was already pretty healthy—went up a notch or four, and you want to hear it, you buy the DVD or go see him.
Tory and I watched the interview. Wow. Wow. Sacre-frickin-merde, wow.
I’ve been taken to task a few times for my fandom of Mr. J. over the past couple of months, and all I have to say is this: it’s really friggin’ easy to judge someone for shallow reasons—appearance, language, habits—stupid reasons, surface reasons. To judge Jim for his frequent use of “cunt” and the frankness of his material is a cop-out; it’s bullshit, cowardice, and you’re not paying attention. As someone who tends to use strong language (and loves it) and who blows people away with her frankness (“Wait? Did I say that out loud?” and half the time, it’s not a joke), and as someone who has been discounted and misjudged because most people are too fucking scared to be honest (particularly when it comes to sex), I definitely identify with Jim’s work. I’ve been writing in that vein for a long time—not the same stuff, definitely not the same material—and I dare anyone to produce another comic on the scene working at this level of honesty.

See this DVD; see Jim live, and keep your mind open.

You won’t regret it.
Postscript: Have just listened to the commentary (background "music" whilst trying to upload this and get some other stuff done on the computer)... Just buy the damn thing.

Let's Talk About Sex...

"The problem is, I've done this job so long and fucked so many sluts, I can't go back to nice girls because nice girls are shit in bed... But it's not your fault, it's not your fault--it's that everything has worked out for you in your life. I'm not blaming you, nothing bad has happened, therefore you wouldn't do disgusting things."

“You know that feeling when you’ve had a wank, and there’s a bit of cum on your hands, and you think to y’self, ‘What did you do that for?’… Needless to say, I wanted to kill m’self.” - Jim Jefferies from I Swear to God

OK, let’s talk about sex.

As I’ve stated in the past, I’m pretty open minded—as long as it’s consensual and the rules are up front for the hardcore stuff, go for it.

However, I also know the price that you pay for hardcore sex in self esteem and all the ensuing emotional crap. Been there, done that, paid for the therapy.

So the other night, I get into email sex with an ex. Hardcore sex. Down and dirty, porn-worthy sex via email—no pictures, no audio, just the written word.

It was not loving. It was not kind. It was purely animal kink fucking. We’d had this once before—via IM—and it was the last sex we had before the relationship ended. And he was cold as ice. The sex was hotter than hellfire, but emotionally… I have never been so vulnerable and felt so abandoned and wrecked. It was like being raped the first time all over again.

And I feel filthy, and not in a good way. My view of sex is this: whatever feels good to you, if you have a consenting adult for a partner, go for it. Not my business what you get up to, not my place to judge as long as children and animals are NOT involved. I have no problem with porn; I have my own stash of it in various forms (including a bunch of digest mags from the late 80’s/early 90’s left by my ex-husband). The problem… He was so cold. And I was nothing more than a piece of ass.I had been in love with him. Oh, well.

Now, let me say this about this man—as a lover, face-to-face, he’s gentle, decent, kind… he’s wonderful. There is a reason I fell in love with him, a reason I miss him desperately. So I am NOT blaming him for how I am feeling—this is on me. This is my shit, not his.

Wednesday night… Wednesday was not what I was used to with him. I didn’t want the cold bastard I’d dealt with over the internet—I wanted the gentle, decent and sweet lover I’d had. Now, after the last round of IM sex with him, I went off the deep end. I hadn’t been at that level of kink with a partner since Edwad, and it tripped a wire that hadn’t been tripped in a while.

It was bad. I was in flashback—deep in flashback. Throw in all the stress at the house…yeah. I tried to check out when the hormones went south. Trying to explain anxiety and depression to someone who has never experienced it at debilitating depths is like trying to explain the glories of sex to a virgin.


Now, I am a worrier. I am—I am a natural-born producer and director, which means I think about the Big Picture and ALL THE FUCKING DETAILS. I am gooooooooood at details. It’s why I am aces at what I do for my salary—I see EVERYTHING that has to get done, I know how to plot it out, chart it out, plan the workflow, write the damn instructions on how to do it... but when I see JUST HOW FUCKING MUCH HAS TO GET DONE...

And immediately become completely, totally, utterly fucking overwhelmed.

Now, when I’m up, I’m invincible. Completely, totally utterly INVINCIBLE. Can’t touch me—I’m THE BEST. And I know it. I know how to Get It Done.

That’s when my body chemistry is in balance. When it’s not… I’m a fucking disorganized mess. And I’m a mess. I hate it. I cannot begin to tell you how much I hate it, how frustrating, aggravating, annoying and disturbing it is to be lost in my own mind.

That’s the only way to describe it—being lost in my own mind. Knowing I’ve somehow got to get to Point B from Point A, and even though it’s technically a straight line, I can’t see it, because somehow it’s been obscured and cluttered.

It’s like wearing glasses or contacts: when you don’t have them on, things are fuzzy. Put them on, the world sharpens. I can tell you when everything is OK and focused because the world is sharp. When it’s not, it’s hard to tell when things are just a little fuzzy, but it gets worse and I’m lost before I realize it most times.

Does that make sense? I hope so. I’m trying to find my way through right now because if I don’t, I’m dead. I’m lost. And I don’t want to be. I want to get the hell out of Hell and back on the road I started down twenty years ago. I want my life back.

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a serious diatribe about addiction in The Bottle and the Damage Done. That diatribe was a bit over the top, but it comes from being stuck in a house with an addict and trying to protect someone who doesn’t want to accept the damage that addict has done to her life.

Please don’t ever think I don’t love my mother; I do, deeply. But I also hate her with a passion that’s almost as intense because she has spent so much of her life as a victim. She’s pushed me beyond the brink so many times, held me to impossible standards, that she herself could never live up to, and I have spent a great deal of time feeling like a complete, utter failure and loser—feeling unloved and unlovable—because I could not meet those standards. And after a while, I didn’t need her to impose them on me—I was doing it to myself because I had internalized it all.

I’m famous for saying to my friends when they’re beating themselves up, “You’re human. Give yourself a break.”

They try to turn that philosophy back on me—“Why do YOU have to be perfect?” And my response is, “Because it’s me, and I know better and should have been aware of what was going on.”

And it drives them to frustration because while I’ll give everyone else a break, I’m not very good at giving me a break. It’s a strength and a handicap. I expect more of me than I do of anyone else, and I’m not good at failure.

And I feel like a fucking failure right now.

I hate when people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it. If I’d had your life, I’d have killed myself by now. You’re so STRONG.”

This, believe it or not, although it’s meant with kindness, respect and admiration, is NOT comforting. It cuts like you wouldn’t believe. See, I’m not looking for sympathy—I can find that in the dictionary between “shit” and “syphilis” and it has as much worth. Empathy I’m good with, but sympathy or pity… No thanks. I’m not proud of dealing with depression. The suicidal shit… I have zero patience for. I hate it. I have no fucking reason to want to end my life. I have INCREDIBLE talent and capabilities. What I’m lacking is motivation.

See, that’s where I fail. I am an attention whore. I admit it. I need constant feedback and encouragement because if I don’t get it, I falter. If I don’t get approval, I shrink.

Now, sex… sex is the greatest source of approval in the world. Regular, reliable sex can, in no way, shape or form, be underrated as the single best source of personal applause. The other thing is actual applause.

I haven’t had either lately, and it’s making me a little crazy. And I’m angry at myself for needing it.

See, that is a problem for me. On the one hand, I expect to be disapproved of. I expect to be considered in the wrong and not liked. On the other… I’m human and need a little approval and to be liked.

It annoys me. It annoys me that I can’t just flip a switch and drop into the headspace I need to be in, that there are so many physical factors limiting how I function, and if everything isn’t in balance, I’m fucked.

Sadly, not literally.

And focus is non-existent ATM. Not sure what nutrient I’m not getting, but there is definitely a chemical deficiency going on in some area. My body’s hatred of all things not coffee, cheese, banana, peppermint, or lime is not a good thing—I am really sick of hurling. And I’m CRAVING a cheeseburger… a Not Your Average Joe’s medium rare with cheddar and bacon… EXTRA cheddar… And I’d probably lose the lot not five minutes after eating less than half of it.

So, last night I finally got to see Alcoholocaust, playing on my lappie, propped on the desk in Tory’s hotel room.

And then we went outside, I lit up a clove cigarette, and had a fucking breakdown.
It is not often that someone gets under my skin. I can think of maybe five artists—actors, writers, whatever—who have, and most of them when I was a hell of a lot younger. It annoys the piss out of me that this man has gotten so far under my skin

My feeling about life is that everything happens for a reason—it’s a giant jigsaw puzzle that needs to be put together piece by piece, and you can’t rush things or you’ll fuck it up and lose the important pieces that tie shit together.

OK, I know, not the greatest analogy, but the best I can do atm.

That’s how I’m feeling right now—I have most of the pieces of the puzzle, but I still can’t figure out how they all fit together.

I’m exhausted—the past couple of weeks have SUCKED. Work is a pit of stress and stupidity, and I have reached the end with it. Hell’s Vestibule is just that—Hell’s Vestibule. My love life… Christ, it’s a bad comedy. And artistically…

Argh. I just so feel like I have dropped the ball because I’m being pulled in a million different directions. Between insomnia, anxiety and stress, I want to scream. The rewrite is happening, but it’s so damn slow, and I’ve failed NaNoWriMo—I mean, I’ve written two sentences about pantsing a priest. Way to go Rizzage. I’m terrified about money, and fuck knows… Yeah, fuck knows. I got my drum kit yesterday. Oh, Gods, it’s so beautiful… and I have nowhere to set it up.

Don’t ask about the open miking. I decided against going back to Sally O’s; nice bar, but the crowd… no audience but the comics, and the clique there was a bit heavy on the geek testosterone. I think I scared them.

This is a problem I’ve dealt with forever—I scare the hell out of men. I hate it. I can’t hide nor help who I am; I’ve been this person for a long time and hiding her didn’t get me anywhere but miserable. I’ve been told how sexy I am, how intense, how incredible, talented, yadda, yadda, yadda, but if I’m so amazing, why the hell am I still alone? Riddle me that.

It’s not just about the weight—the weight is going away. It’s about me.

I hate it. I don’t hate me—I like me, love me most of the time—but men… they just come and go. And I’m nothing, a footnote in their life if that.

I cannot tell you how much that hurts.

Brit Boy #5 is back. And I don’t know if I can handle it emotionally. I’m having to confront the suicide attempt in February/March, and realize that he had a hell of a lot to do with it. I’m not blaming him—I’m the one who tried to slice open a vein, and he certainly didn’t guide my hand or encourage me—but at the same time…

I had a flashback last night—a PTSD panic moment where I was trapped and scared. Thank the merciful Gods Tory was there. I fell apart. I chainsmoked before that—I mean I don’t even smoke, and here I am puffing one clove after another—and paced and talked and got more and more agitated and then, BAM! flashback and panic.

See, I did something stupid. I left the line of communication open. And he got in touch. One of the things that triggered me last was a very intense IM sex session and then him pulling away. There was a time in my life when sex was all about dirty things; there was very little vanilla about it. It left me with serious emotional scars because I wasn’t ready for the stuff I was into, no matter how much it turned me on. The relationship between him and me while he was here in Boston was the closest thing I’ve ever had to normal. It didn’t get dirty until after he left.
And after it got dirty, he left me high and dry.

It killed me.

It broke me.

Gents, a word about kinky women—some of us need a little reassurance afterwards that you don’t think the worst of us. That while you appreciate the intensity of the experience, you also still respect & love the person providing it.

I didn’t get this, and it brought back a whole lot of ugly, horrible shit that I thought I had resolved.

And I'm sitting here in the office, in the closed library, trying to figure out my life.


Fuck this. I need to go do some real writing instead of this intellectual, emotional wanking.

Rented Love

OK, I have question: why is it OK for men to go to a prostitute or a whorehouse, but it’s not OK for women to pay for it?

I’m serious here.

Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, we’d like a little action without all the fucking baggage—without having to deal with you complaining or snoring or farting or scratching your balls first thing in the morning. Ever think about that?

Jesus H. Christ, it GRIPES me! All this bullshit about sex toys, etc.—did you ever stop to think it’s because you don’t have to praise a dildo? You don’t have to tell a vibrator that it’s OK when the batteries run out a little too soon, you don’t have to soothe a dildo's ego if it doesn’t fit just right—you can just throw the fucking thing out and buy another. AND they come in multiple sizes so you've got options, depending on your mood.

Sometimes, however, it's nice to have a little human interaction that also doesn't require soothing an ego or putting your own needs aside, and then... then, I see the point of rented love.

So I’m all for legalizing prostitution—just make sure it goes BOTH ways, dammit.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OMG!!!! IT'S HERE!!!!

*insert loud fan girl squee here*

I am sitting at the table in Sbux, tippy-tapping away on the lappie, and Jim Jefferies is staring up at me from the DVD case for Alcoholcaust.

Yes, my copy has arrived.

No, I have not watched it. I am waiting to watch it with Tory tonight because I have converted him to the fandom.

It's a bit like foreplay... stretching out the anticipation so the orgasm is even better.

Yes, everything in my life at this point is a metaphor for sex because I haven't gotten laid since January. I don't consider intense fooling around and IM sex as getting laid--it's just a temporary stopgap to keep me from going insane. Ditto for wanking.

*shakes head* This is the problem with having sworn off Brit boys... I miss the slang. The English just have better curses and slang than we do over here. I mean, I'm resorting to French these days to spice up the cussing. Argh. *slams head on the desk*

Excuse me, I'm in Sbux--*slams head on the table*

OK, kiddies, I am going to go back to editing One Flew Out of the Broom Closet. And a clip from "Hellbound" just came on the Zune. The bit about ordering porn from a Dutch company. How... appropriate, considering a recent discussion about... never mind. Never mind. If you've heard the album, you'll get it, and if you hadn't, you don't need to.

I, however, need to get it. Sex makes me funnier; frustration makes me crankier.

Sorry I've been neglecting the Blogiverse--it's been an intense week or so, with another sinus infection, crap in Hell's Vestibule, and utterly crapping on NaNoWriMo. I owe edits and comments to a few people, and the house... *slams head on the table* I really hate dealing with crazy people. I have like four blog posts in various states of composition. I'm hoping to get shit finished next weekend, and of course, there'll be the review.

Oh, yeah, and there's the job. *slams head on the table* I had a rage dump this afternoon--a dear friend provided a sympathetic ear and it all just poured out. So frustrated with the political situation at work, and all the fallout from it. Tired of people being hurt by the utter ignorance of others, and fucked if I'm going to stand by and let it happen.

I may be a rage bunny, but I know how to put it to work and make something positive come out of it.

'K, nuff bitchin'. Must go back to rewriting... J.C. has been introduced in the Ren Faire scene, Hal has been made English (instead of Southern) with a slight Northern cast to it (haven't decided if it's going to be Yorkshire or Manchester) and IT SO WORKS!!!! I love my novel, and you will too, when it's published. I may serve up the first chapter as a teaser just to see what peeps think--I am in final rewrite before querying and have id'd two agents who would be perfect for it.
Ciao, dahlings...
Your Empress

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Thursday, the Empress Did Laundry

... And Decided She Hates Oprah

OK, life has improved in that I now have two functioning contact lenses. HUZZAH! Nothing makes me feel awkward, fat, ugly, ungainly, unattractive and just horrible than wearing glasses in public. It's a middle school thing I never got over.

The rest of my afternoon was spent doing approximately 14 loads of laundry. I had seven machines (including both of the $10/triple loaders) going; transitioned to ten dryers.

Nothing challenges my Cambridge liberal self more than doing laundry because honestly, the laundrymat brings out the worst in people. I actually turned around and called a woman an ignorant bitch to her face this afternoon. Seriously. She wanted the two machines I had clothes in; she put her bags in front of them, pinning the laundry cart to the machines and blocking my access. I politely asked her to move them; she was surprised that I would ask such at thing. I'm like, "If you want the machine, I need to get my stuff out."

She compounded her annoyance of me by blocking my access to the super loader and then trying to shove her shit in before I'd finished getting mine out. I lost it. "Develop some fuckin' patience, you ignorant bitch!"

It takes a fair bit of pushing to piss me off to that point when I'm not behind the wheel. She was smart enough to step back and back off. If she hadn't, she would have eaten that laundry. Without benefit of mustard.

So right now the car is packed and I am blogging. I had something clever to say, I think, but my brain is atrophying. Of course, I've forgotten to eat today. Silly Empress.

Oh, yes, Oprah. Anyone who follows me via FB or Twit may have seen the status about Oprah being a misery whore and Marie Osmond being a douchebag. Now, I despise daytime TV. DESPISE IT. I hate the freakin' talk shows, and Oprah... oh, Oprah, how I do hate you and your enabling piece of shit of a show.

This is not the first time I've been annoyed by Oprah; whenever I've been subjected to her show, my immediate reaction is a profound need to smack her upside the head. She should have knocked Tom Loser on his ass when he jumped on her couch like a rabid chimp; and that financial advisor idiot... Doctor Phil... I mean, WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?!?!?! Jerry Springer was less offensive--at least people got their asses kicked on his show, not made to feel like they were OK and everything will be OK.

And Marie Osmond... Oh, PLEASE! *rolls eyes* OK, I would not wish a child's suicide on anyone, but this maudlin whinge fest... *SMACKS*

About the only thing that saved the world from a bad news story about me holding an entire laundrymat hostage until Oprah was forced to apologize and smacked in the head (aside from the fact I don't allow myself firearms) were the tweets back and forth with the blog's latest follower. The 80's music share definitely made my day a better thing and saved lives. :-)

I hope everyone took a second to remember the day. Rational Anarchist and anti-war as I am, I am NOT anti-soldier and honor all of those who have served and who are serving. May you return home safe and as whole as possible.


Your Empress

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WHY hasn't Alcoholcaust arrived YET?!?!

OK, yesterday I was royally cranky (I reread the post--wow, did I go on rant! Wow! Haven't lambasted Courtney Love like that in a loooong while!); today I'm an all-out blogging madwoman--wrote two posts this a.m.

And the first... the first is about Mr. Celebricrush, his new DVD, and yet more exposition on the Empress's Theory of Theatre and Comedy. (Today's pic was snatched from Facebook--I DID NOT take it, but I did add the bubble. I'll be forgiven, considered how hard Jim has been pushing people to buy the disc. Gotta give the man credit--international comedy headliner, and he still hustles like an up-and-comer. YEAH!)

Jim Jefferies is posting the early reviews of Alcoholocaust. I am getting antsy for my copy.
The positive reviews are NOT coming as a surprise to me (or anyone who is a fan of the man). I made the comment in my review of his show at Caroline’s about what an amazing storyteller he is (and yes, I am peppering for my copy to arrive, and yes, I am kicking myself for not paying for expedited shipping, BUT I’m a fucking librarian trying to pay off massive student loans and who has lost an expensive fucking contact lens for her royally fucked-up astigmatic eyes, so give me a break!).

Those links:

I made the comment in the post “The Bottle and the Damage Done” about how annoyed I got at the audience response in New York to Jim being sober. One of the reviewers commented how the DVD is his last on the booze and wondered how he’ll play without it.

For any fans of Jim reading this and wondering: he’s better off of it.

I said in the review of him live that he has ginormous balls on stage—that testicular fortitude does NOT come from alcohol (and yeah, I realize it may have taken him a little time to get that, but I’m not his shrink and I know what I have to go through to get my fat arse on stage; I am not giving anyone else any shit about their rituals and crutches; performers are a superstitious and high-strung lot—DON’T FUCK WITH US!!!! :-D I mean, I’m the one who fervently mumbled Henry V’s “God of Battles” prayer in the wings while waiting to go one in every fucking show I ever acted in; ditto, directed). So any fans wondering if they should go and see him sober (considering how legendary he is for performing fucked up AND considering how some of his better-known routines involve both alcohol and drugs), BUY YOUR FUCKING TICKETS NOW! GO, GET OVER TO HIS WEBSITE, BUY YOUR FUCKING TICKETS, AND COME BACK AND READ THE REST OF THIS!

I’ll wait. Jim’s worth it. (And there are damn few men on the planet I’d say that about and the list gets shorter every day.)

What’s got me excited—aside from the thought of getting to see different material than is on Contraband and I Swear to God—is that I’m finally going to get to hear the brothel story (the joy and pain of the interwebs is that a) I find out about cool stuff I wouldn’t otherwise know about, and b) I find out about cool stuff I wouldn’t otherwise know about and can’t get my hands on IMMEDIATELY. I have the patience of a cat). This story—about taking a childhood friend with muscular dystrophy to a brothel to lose his virginity—has been buzzed about for months. He didn’t perform it in New York (“Nah, not in a one-hour show like this,” he said when I mentioned it), but it is on the DVD, AND the DVD is 75 minutes long.

Note to self: check and see if there are any extras on the disc. The biggest disappointment about I Swear to God was that there were no extras (not unusual with HBO comedy releases), but it’s also what makes Contraband a piece of gold—you get both nights plus a bit of fuckery with an interview Jim did on the street after the second show, including a bit of silliness with passersby. (Y’still should’ve taken y’shirt off, Jim! ;-) Mind you, would have love to have heard the exchange with Eddie Izzard in the hallway after Jim came off stage—I’m wondering if this was the tour Eddie was doing whilst filming Believe. Oh, to be a fly on the wall, eh? :-)

That’s another recommendation for watching, BTW—check out Believe. DAMN good documentary about The Process and the fact that succeeding is all about your arse: working it off and putting it on the line, just fucking going for it.

Second note to self: put Dressed to Kill on the buy list for this month’s wages. Screw Xmas.

Another thought on substances… well, I had another thought, but it’s gone now. Wait, it’s back. There’s been a lot of ink wasted on Jim’s vocabulary (and if you check out the clip on You Tube that Brett Vincent posted with all the cusses edited into one roughly two minute string—hysterical, honestly, Jim should turn it into a rap song, fer fuckssake)—one of the reasons I dig Jim’s stuff is his use of language. Again, it’s why Carlin succeeded and Eddie Murphy failed—Carlin used the vulgarity as punctuation; Murphy used it just to use it. Jim walks the line and walks it well. [There's another post coming about language usage, but I'm still working on that one.]

Language is a form of music—think about why you pay attention to when some people speak and tune out others. It’s about rhythm, cadence, tone and word choice—the same as a song. You listen to what flips the switches in your brain. Whenever I direct a show, THAT is what I listen for, and any actor I’ve directed can tell you of that moment when I’ve either stopped a scene fussing at my ear because the words have hit my ears like a sour note, an off-key phrase—I can hear it. That’s how I, as an audience member (and honestly, as a director because I watch damn near everything with a director’s eye, it’s a disease, I swear), experience a show. It’s why I get so vehement when something is bad and so ecstatic when something is good—it’s like great music, when words and performance come together just right, a harmony that is as much for the soul as the brain. This is a part of great comedy—it’s the harmony of word and thought and delivery, REAL storytelling, the kind that hits you not just in the funny bone, but also in the heart and soul.

Going back to Eddie Murphy, another reason why he’s acting and not doing standup right now is about truth. I saw Raw once; I laughed, but I never had a need to see it again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched I Swear to God and Contraband. Ditto for Carlin’s later standup DVDs, and Robin William’s 1986 & 2002 HBO specials. I can quote my way through them, like a sing-along (actually, they’re my background “music” when I’m cleaning or crafting). And I still laugh. STILL laugh, even though I’ve heard some of these bits a hundred times because there’s always something new to find—something in the cadence, the facial expression, the delivery… a word I may have missed or a gesture. Raw… nah. I remember the “You ain’t got no ice cream” bit, and that’s about it. No truth, or at least no truth that meant anything to me.

Great comedy is no different from great literature or a great film--it comes from a place of truth—the heart, mind and soul working together to create a story that, while the details might not be completely factual (sometimes, you have to change a few details to protect the innocent and the guilty alike, and to keep yourself from either being sued or incarcerated), is about simple human truth. Now, truth is subjective, and my truth is not your truth—what reaches my soul and plucks its strings will be a different matter for someone else. I don't know if every bit of "I Am the Egg Man" is true, and honestly, I don't want to know--it's a brilliant fucking story, the right combination of filth and pathos and complete utter bravery--you CAN'T get up and tell a story like that in front of a room full of heavily drinking humans unless you've got great big clanking brass balls because you KNOW some oik in the audience is going to take it literally and give you shit. Ditto for the story in the South African comedy club story, and all the "small dick" cracks (although one of the guy friends made the comment that only a man hung like a small pony would have the balls to get up and say that publically; y'know, I'm not sure if got the phrase HLSP from him or he got it from me... so many people have been picking up my catch phrases of late... weird). Reminds me... gotta post a piccie of the finished Jim Sox.

There’s a review of Jim on the web by Scottish guy who’s living in the States (I want to say Chicago; when I get on-line, I’ll look it up; I know he saw him at Lakeside) who heard him do the brothel story; the reviewer works with the disabled, and his combined reaction was one of weeping and laughing because he KNEW what Jim was talking about, understood it at a gut level, and the story provided a catharsis. (That's what got me so hooked on his comedy--there is a pain there that I recognize, someone who's been cut deep enough to get to the point of not giving a fuck and decided not to let the bastards win. That's where yesterday's rant came from--if I've stayed alive all these years with all the stupidity in my life, where the fuck did THOSE idiots get off dying so stupidly?)

[OK, found the info: Graham Rae in 3:AM Magazine. Here's the link: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/you%e2%80%99ve-got-to-be-obscene-to-be-heard/

And THAT’S the word I’m looking for—catharsis. It goes all the way back to the Greeks (and fuck knows, I find the ancient Greeks bloody boring) and the original concept of theatre—to provide a catharsis for the audience, a moment of emotion cleansing (the word literally means "purge" or "cleanse"). That’s the whole point of live theatre, live performance—to feel something you can’t experience in the workaday process of life. In short, we make it safe for the audience to feel--to experience deep feeling, intense feeling--that many cannot acknowledge in ordinary life.

A long while ago, I had to write a paper for a comparative lit class and I discussed King Lear, Twelfth Night and Black Elk Speaks, and elaborated my concept of the Holy Fool (there was also an African novel in there; don’t ask me the title or the author because, honestly, it bored the piss out of me; I only used it because I had to have two sources from the official reading list; Black Elk met the criteria and so did the other one, and of course, I had to bring in Shakespeare). Black Elk has a chapter on the Heyoka ceremony—a shamanic comedy experience, basically, in which those who have the vision of the thunder beings are destined to be sacred clowns--holy fools--or Heyoka--and act out absurdities to make the rest of the tribe laugh. When the Heyoka happens in Black Elk, it is during a time of great stress and brings a necessary lightening to the tribe.

Sound familiar?

Shakespeare’s fools are a slightly different story. Today, we have an image of the jester—the fool—as a mere clown, a tumbler and faller of prats, someone for the nobles to hurl abuse and food at while he entertains. This is a corrupted image and it negatively impacts a LOT of Shakespearean productions. If you forget the label of “fool” and LISTEN to the dialogue of Lear’s Fool and Feste in Twelfth Night, you will hear the nascence of today’s standup comedian—“bitter fool,” Lear calls his follower, and indeed, more acerbic commentary on the state of the state can’t be found on The Daily Show. Olivia chastises Feste, “You see how your fooling grows old and people dislike it!” when his words hit far too close to the mark for her liking.

Again, sound familiar?

It’s why I have so little time for a lot of shit that’s called “comedy.” At my first open mic, I was talking to an actor I’d directed who’d gotten up and delivered (before I performed—I was too high afterwards on adrenaline). I wasn’t impressed with a lot of the material I’d heard, and he told me to be kind; it was open mic. He was both right and wrong—right, because people were trying out material; wrong, because, well… a lot of it was going to go nowhere, and ditto for the people delivering it. Kudos for having the cojones to get up there—if you’ve never done it, you don’t know what’s on the line, believe me. At the same time… Nah. A couple of sparks, yeah, but no bright lights.

Harsh? Yup. Have to be, though. Performing—whether comedy, acting, music, whatever—is BRUTAL because to be the best, you have to give EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. Your heart and soul are on the fucking line with every word, and I don’t think I’ve met any kind of artist in my life who didn’t deal with some kind of anxiety issue, and finding the balance of life and career… there’s a reason why celebrity gossip is salacious: when you give it all, it’s all there, and people want it. And when you’re “on,” you’re fucking irresistible.

I never went pro as an actor because I knew fifteen years ago that I didn’t have what it takes to live out of a suitcase without any guarantees; my mother’s health was failing, my health was failing, and quite frankly, I had lost my “muchness” (Tim Burton’s Alice was utterly fucking brill and I’m kicking myself for not seeing it in the cinema). I’d lost my audacity, that crazy spirit I’d had at UMass. Emerson, Edward, Darth Thespia and my life had killed it. That, and it scared the FUCK out of me the way people were drawn to me when I was “on.” (Think I’m kidding? Ask Vicki about the guy in Frenchy’s when I was shopping and was “on”—cool, but really disconcerting.) And, at that point in my life, there was no way I could have dealt with it, so instead of going for success, I let myself come pretty damn close to dying.

Now… now, facing losing my family’s home and not having to worry too much longer about my mother’s care and having my own health coming back, now… I can feel that spirit returning. Who the fuck knows what the next year or two will bring? I’m single, I’m talented, and I am audacious—I’ve proved to myself that I haven’t lost that essential spark, my unique “Riz-ness,” that has drawn some of the finest people on the planet into my circle of friends. I’ve written a damn good novel. This blog… this blog is definitely fueling the rewrite of the one-woman show (and yeah, I’ve started looking at available venues and rentals for next year). And I’m noticing that in the coterie (isn’t that a beautiful word? Say that word out loud—THERE’S music in language if ever there was!) of friends I’ve surrounded myself with, all of them are immensely talented in their own art.

Exciting time to be alive, wouldn’t you say? I would, and considering how I’ve been feeling the past few days, it’s good to be able to say that. Ah, the joys of body chemistry--so nice to have it back in balance.

So watch this space for my review of Alcoholocaust—you know that the bastard will be in the DVD drive of this lappie within half an hour of being received (hey, I’ll need to get myself a fresh coffee and get comfy first).

And Jim, if you happen to glance at this (or anyone close to him does), I hope you’re keeping sober and keeping well. You don’t need the booze or the drugs to be brilliant, babe, and you’ve got the talent AND the charisma to do whatever the fuck you want (hey, if Robin Williams can win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting…). Can’t wait to see you next time you play Boston (although there are better venues than the Wilbur; when are the new US dates being announced, dammit?!?! I really don’t want to drive to Jersey in the dead of winter; and IS THERE ANY WORD ON THE US RELEASE?!?!* I’ll subscribe to the fucking cable channel if I have to; oh, wait, I’ll already own the DVD. How can I convert more to your fandom if I have to show your best material on my laptop and half my friends aren’t in Boston?! Yes, I’ll stop being a pain in the arse), and the offer to buy you dinner stands because I love to prove a man wrong (even if it is all just jokes up there).

Fuck, I’ll even COOK you dinner if someone will lend me a decent kitchen. And speaking of which… time to get some breakfast and a shower and get my arse to work. The paying kind, as opposed to the kind I’m hoping will pay. *sigh*

*BTW, for the US fans, STOP WHINING about the fact that Alcoholocaust hasn’t been released over here because 1) there’s a damn good reason (there is a clue above); and 2) I Swear to God isn’t available in the format the rest of the world uses. You want it NOW, order it from the UK and WATCH IT ON YOUR FUCKING COMPUTER like I do. OR drop $50 on ebay or amazon for a multi-region DVD player.