Tag Archives: writing

Loneliest Number: The Four of Us

Dan Crane and Karl Miller

We’re supposed to forgive our enemies, drink less, play fair, love but one person at a time, measure ourselves not against others. When our friends succeed, we’re expected to be happy.

That is what is supposed to happen.

Of easy choices and pain-free obedience are boring stories made. Itamar Moses 2008 two-man-play The Four of Us is never dull, and given the picayune-ity of its stakes, that’s much more than the faint compliment it sounds like.

Moses’s deliberately paced narrative dissects a friendship among two boys-to-men over a ten-year period. We meet David and Benjamin in their mid-twenties. One’s a playwright, the other a novelist who, as comes to light during an increasingly fraught after-dinner chat, has just had the nullifying prefix “aspiring” blasted off of his title in spectacular, quit-your-day-job fashion.

David is still struggling, and Benjamin’s sudden promotion to a more rarefied realm of the cultural stratosphere — and his insufferable aloofness about it, believably conjured by actor Dan Crane — is tough for him to take. He worries aloud if his pal has considered that his $2 million payday mightn’t be, “in some way, totally spiritually corrupting.” It really isn’t about the Benjamins for Benjamin, but try telling that to a guy who doesn’t have any. Continue reading

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Before I Lose the Minutiae

NEA Fellows in Los Angeles, April 24, 2009

Aw, Hell, it’s already gone.

It’s been six days since my NEA Fellowship wrapped up in Los Angeles with ace program director Sasha Anawalt dancing to U2’s “Beautiful Day” (twice) while making her closing remarks to me and my 22 new best friends from media outlets around the country. The program was a 11-day motion blur spent talking about the nature and purpose of Art, and criticism, with journalists and theatre artists; of sobering reports of arts journalists (including many of the ones in the room) losing their jobs; of experiencing theatre; of being schooled in writing, but also in dancing and acting; of critiquing each other’s written work; of being isolated in a fancy hotel together; eating together; being bussed everywhere together; and of drinking together every night, accumulated sleep-dep and looming deadlines be damned.

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A Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl: My Interview with Patton Oswalt

patton-oswalt-blog

Hey, I interviewed Patton Oswalt, the greatest comic champion of our end-times!

Not my finest hour as an interloctuor, but a valuable lesson for me. I was glad to talk to him for DCist. Can’t wait to see him play Lisner this weekend.

THE VERY NEXT DAY: It seems I’m not the only person ever to have a less-than-satsifactory Oswalterview Experience. A consoling friend referred me today to audio of Patton’s appearance on the Seattle radio show Too Beautiful to Live last fall, as well as of host Luke Burbank’s after-action report the next day about why the segment was (in his perhaps too-harsh view) a bust.

Burbank is the radio reporter and essayist who contributed the great piece about the guy who mourned his wife by wearing a Superman costume in public to the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” episode of This American Life back in 2001. I had no idea he hosted his own show, but I’ll be listening now.

That a cat as smart as Burbank wasn’t able to get much out of Oswalt makes me feel better about my own performance, which I’ve been kind of bummed out about this week. But if you check out the audio from his Sept. 6 show, you’ll hear Burbank second-guessing his own interviewing chops over the air the same way I’ve been fretting about mine for half a week now.