28 October 2006

But Thee


In case you missed it on Diamond Geezer, the quite wonderful anagrammatical map of the London Underground (when you get there click to enlarge). So this morning I travelled from Maroon Hues to Ransacks Script Songs. Where've you been lately? And if you're not a London sort, what's your favourite anagram? So many to choose from but my current pick is Swearword & Ethanol (Harrow & Wealdstone).

26 October 2006

Whatever Could It Mean?


I dreamed I was in a cafe in a gallery and I was making the acquaintance of David Hockney. He was asking me what I did so I launched into a spiel about The May Queen. But I couldn't tell from his mildly amused expression whether he thought it was intriguing or merely pants.

25 October 2006

Because I'm Quite Proud Of Them

birthday4etc 006

birthday4etc 002

And because I have a deadline looming it seemed like a good time to learn how to use the snazzy Flickr Uploadr tool. And actually there's nothing to it. Quick, find another displacement activity. Like reading transcripts of space missions (see below).

The rewriting is going okay I think but it'll be a squeeze finishing before Tuesday, my end-of-the-month target. It's still very absorbing work, even after - how long have I been working on this story? - eighteen months, on and off. Incredibly, not to say recklessly, I've written two new characters recently. So I'm well into double figures.
Can't wait to write the next miniature...

24 October 2006

Not long ago I went along to Soho to see a one character play called Radio, by Al Smith. I enjoyed it very much, the writing was very fine and the performance by Tom Ferguson full of heart, very engaging. The story charts the boyhood of Charlie Fairbanks, born in the exact dead centre of the USA on the day they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. He grows up in an America rapt by those twin obsessions - spaceflight and nuclear annihilation. When Vietnam kicks off, his father makes a mint selling American flags to patriots and anti-war protesters alike - the kids on campus burn the things and come back for more.
Al Smith blogs in brief about the show here, where he also writes about going to the Roundhouse to see the living legend, Al Bean. My friend Mackay had alerted me to his appearance but I was poorly at the time and couldn't go. Bean was the fourth man to walk on the Moon, as he was second out of the hatch of Apollo 12, after Pete Conrad. (I posted this about 12 last year.)
Browsing through the transcripts of Apollo 12, I found this quietly extraordinary conversation between a man on Earth and some men halfway to the Moon.
(By the way, I just remembered the spacecraft was hit by lightning as they were leaving the launch pad. But that's a whole other story. Maybe I'll write about it on the anniversary next month.)

055:39:13 Bean: Houston, Apollo 12.

055:39:16 Lind: Houston. Go.

055:39:20 Bean: Roger. Just looking through the monocular again at the Earth, and looks like it's dark everywhere except the lower left-hand corner of California. Right in there - L.A. and San Diego, and I can't see Baja California. It may be just twilight there. It's kind of hazy - not hazy, but insofar as the dark light relationship, it's kind of difficult to tell. The lower left corner of California is the only part we can see in the sunshine right now.

055:40:01 Lind: Roger. What does the weather look like out there?

055:40:10 Bean: Looks beautiful. See it real well. It doesn't appear to be any clouds - any large cloud formations near it. There's a nice crescent-shaped large weather system that appears to be several hundred miles out to sea, but I don't know if that will affect it or not. But the whole area around that southern tip of California there is nice and clear.

055:40:41 Lind: Very good.

[Very long comm break.]

Public Affairs Office - "This is Apollo control, Houston, at 55 hours, 43 minutes now into the flight of Apollo 12. We currently show an altitude for the spacecraft of 165,802 nautical miles. Velocity now reads 2,725 feet per second..."

Public Affairs Office - "At 55 hours, 46 minutes now into the flight, this is Apollo Control, Houston."

056:04:43 Bean: Houston, Apollo 12.

056:04:47 Lind: Go ahead.

056:04:53 Bean: Been looking at the Earth some more through the monocular, and I think maybe the part of the U.S. that I thought was the lower left-hand corner, the Los Angeles area, it was just about to have sunset, was really not. I don't think I could see that because of the - it's color-related to the blue of the rest of the Earth. I think maybe it was the desert area around Phoenix and around in there, just thinking about the time it is now. And I'm not able to discern at all the lower left-hand corner of the U.S., I think, because of the colors.

056:05:38 Lind: Roger. A little smog out there in L.A.? Can't see through it?

056:05:47 Bean: No. I don't think its smog. I can't see any of that area. I think it's probably just that the Earth out there has more trees, shrubs, and the like, and that makes it sort of a gray-green which is sort of like the ocean whenever you look at it from this view. And they just blend in together, and you're not able to tell exactly where one starts and one ends. We noticed that a little bit as we were closer to earth and then now as we get out this far, about all we can see is something contrasting very greatly with those blue-grays or blue-greens. In this case, it was sort of a reddish-brown [garbled]...

056:07:52 Lind: Apollo 12, Houston. [Long pause.]

056:08:24 Lind: Apollo 12, Houston. [Long pause.]

056:09:04 Bean: Hey, Houston; Apollo 12.

056:09:06 Lind: Roger. Go. We lost the very end of that transmission because we were switching antennas, but it sounds like you got a great view up there. [Pause.]

056:09:24 Lind: Apollo 12, Houston.[Long pause.]

056:09:50 Lind: Apollo 12, Houston.

056:09:54 Bean: Houston, 12.

056:09:56 Lind: Roger. We were switching antennas there. Lost the last part of that transmission, but it sounds like you got a good view out there tonight.

056:10:06 Conrad: Yes, not too bad. Hey, Don, how'd the Saints and the Oilers make out today?

056:10:13 Lind: The Oilers tied on the last play of the game. 20-20 was the final score.

056:10:19 Conrad: What was the score?

056:10:20 Lind: 20-20.

056:10:22 Conrad: 20-20, huh? How'd the Saints do? They were playing the Giants.

056:10:35 Lind: 25 to 24 for New Orleans.

056:10:40 Conrad: Roger. Thank you.

056:10:41 Lind: Very good. Hey...

056:10:42 Conrad: Got some good news?

056:10:44 Lind: Yes. Say, listen, can you see any of Antarctica from your position in the daylight?

056:10:59 Conrad: That's affirmative, Don. We can see a large portion of it, as a matter of fact. It's continually in sunlight.

056:11:08 Lind: Roger.

056:11:21 Lind: Listen, I've got some other scores for you, if you are interested.

056:11:28 Conrad: Go ahead.

056:11:29 Lind: Okay. AFL: Houston and Denver 20-20; Kansas City over New York 34-16; Boston over Cincinnati 25-14; Buffalo over Miami 28 to 3; Oakland took San Diego 21-16; in the National, as I said, New Orleans over New York 25-24; Chicago 31, Atlanta 48; Philadelphia 17, L.A. 23; Detroit took St. Louis 20 to nothing; Dallas hl, Washington 28; and L.A. over Philadelphia, 23 to 17.

056:12:20 Conrad: Roger. Thank you very much.

056:12:26 Bean: And could you give us the exact longitude the terminator is on the Moon at this time?

056:12:37 Lind: Wait 1. We'll get it for you.

[Very long comm break.]

19 October 2006

This Just In

Congratulations to Ben Yeoh, who's just been declared winner of the Gate Translation Award. Yay!

18 October 2006

After seeing the play at last, I'm not sure the assertion on the cover is altogether true.

It was really very disappointing. A lot of self-regarding navel-gazing. Like Woody Allen without the jokes.

A Cottesloe punter delivered his own verdict about half an hour in, by emitting a 6.7 on the Richter scale series of snores. A ripple of excitement went round the auditorium, before we all settled back down to the serious business of trying to work out how on earth the most inventive prose artist in the history of the language could write such dead-as-a-dodo drama. The production is fine, but in taking the play as seriously as the wretched characters take themselves, it offers us little respite from the dullness of the dialogue.

Last word to Philip Hensher: "Exiles, like most plays written by novelists, is a notoriously plonking effort. In this homage to Ibsen, little of the master's command of the stage is evident. If Joyce hadn't gone on to write Ulysses, it is most unlikely that Exiles would ever be performed at all."

17 October 2006

Go, Rascal, go!

Lovely to report that David Eldridge has joined the ranks of blogging playwrights. There ain't many of us (in Britain, anyways) so to have his amiable, estimable presence is properly good.
DE has hit the ground running, too. Though there's a slight worry that he's distracting himself from his Ibsen deadline. I'm not one to talk, however - I'm in the middle of writing a new scene six, a full draft (thirteen scenes) is expected a fortnight today at the latest, and I'm off to see Exiles this afternoon. Actually if I think about past behaviour in the face of onrushing deadlines, this is typical. Perhaps as time shortens, there's the need to fragment the concentration, dissipate any creeping tension.

12 October 2006

Luckily for me, the first show I saw after my lay-off was Robin Hooper's beautiful play, Not The Love I Cry For. Appetite whetted by director Paul Miller's blogging about the play and production, I went along on Tuesday, a few hours after having a tooth pulled. But I was able to forget my aching jaw and immerse myself in a quietly wonderful tale of East London life. The acting was uniformly handsome, as much in their silences as their speeches, revealing themselves in gestures, looks, turns of the head. Nick Tennant's performance was a fine example of this, at one and the same time understated and brilliant. Paul is a champion of 'tenderness and benevolence' in contemporary playwriting - here he puts his money where his blog is, and gives Hooper's play the rendering its tenderness deserves.

A digression on reviews. I know this is quasi-reviewing, not the real thing. But it's fine work and I thought I'd say so. I used to write up most of my playgoing, particularly the good ones. But no one's paying me!, sometimes I just don't feel like writing about something I've seen. My blog, my rules.

05 October 2006

May I just say how very grateful I am to the good souls among the readers at the British Library who are kind and good enough to share their iTunes music on the wifi network? They're largely anonymous. The person who today labels their file My Brit Library Ear Candy has just enabled me to walk around the public areas on the first floor while listening to the incredible Requiem by Ligeti, best known as the soundtrack music for the part of Kubrick's 2001 that begins with the words JUPITER AND BEYOND THE INFINITE projected on screen. A freaky experience, thoroughly enjoyable.
Thanks to these beneficent folk I've also been listening to things I never knew I liked, like Led Zeppelin and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Meanwhile the rewrite goes on.

01 October 2006

It's probably not technically admissible as a googlewhack. But if you type "WW2 insults" into the engine you get one (admittedly rather useless) hit. Eat that, Dave Gorman.