Wednesday, September 21, 2005

There's a reason why "scungilli" makes you think of your bathtub

My neighborhood has been host to the Feast of San Gennaro, being that my neighborhood is Little Italy, the hub of all things Italian in Manhattan. Seeing as it is a feast in that bastion of good old traditional Italian cooking, I became aware of a craving for fried calamari. It didn't help that all blocks leading to and from my apartment were lined with varied and sundry fried goodies, including, but not limited to: sausage and peppers, cheese steak, funnel cakes, and yes, even Snickers bars.

So one day earlier this week, when hunger had stricken and the pantry was bare, I knew it was the time. I had fared well Sunday night after the show (about which I will blog as soon as I have pix) with a choice of sausage & peppers from the corner of Mulberry & Houston that was ginormous (and also so yummy that I declined to share any with Gabe...that's right folks, I was like a mother bear with a cub...that I was eating...hmmm). Anyway, I felt that my chances were good at having a satisfactory rendezvous with that most culinarily capricious frutti di mare, the squid.

I. was. wrong.

What I purchased from the vendors at the San Gennaro was possibly the, it WAS the worst calamari I have ever had in my life. And I'm from Pittsburgh!!!

What I paid $8 for ($7 + $1 tip for the girl to scoop it into a paper bowl) was redolent of aged rubber bands, battered in the skin from the underside of Grandmama Giannini's arms and not so much fried as somehow dessicated, perhaps through some judicious use of silica gel (you know, the stuff they use to keep the insides of purses dry). I was so appalled, that were it not for my innate inability to deal with confrontation, I would've walked right back up to the stand, looked the girl straight in the eye and proclaimed,

"You should be ASHAMED to sell this."

As it was, I threw most of it away. And then I purchased a Chinese steamed chicken bun for 75 cents.

And, boy was it fucking good.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

There's A Signpost Up Ahead

That was one of the lines from the cabaret show that John wrote, Detour.

That was one of the signs from the same show. It had been my idea to add it in on the Provincetown tour. I would hold it up during a few sections that had no observable transitions and hopefully get a laugh.

No one laughed. But granted, it's hard to get 7 people to laugh. For an audience to feel comfortable enough to emit an audible response requires a certain number of participants, what I like to call the Quorum Quotient.

The Quorum Quotient can be described by the following equation:
Q = ((N ÷ S) x ((A + 1) x T)) ÷ L

Where Q is Quorum Quotient, N is Number of Audience Members, T is Length of Show (or Time), A is Alcohol Consumed, L is Light (as in how well the Audience Members can see each other and is reflected in a number between 0 and 1, 0 being pitch black and 1 blinding sunlight) and S is Number of Empty Seats.

Okay, for instance, let's analyze our Ptown Saturday night audience. N = 7, S = 50, A = 2, T = 1, and L = .6. So:
Q = ((7 ÷ 50) x ((2 + 1) x 1) ÷ .6 = .7

Any number below 1 is NOT GOOD. For instance, let's say that it had been darker in the performance space and set L = .2:
Q = ((7 ÷ 50) x ((2 + 1) x 1) ÷ .2 = 2.1

Already you see the effect that darkening the room has. Now let's double our audience number, setting N = 14:
Q = ((14 ÷ 50) x ((2 + 1) x 1) ÷ .2 = 4.2

And we've doubled our Quorum Quotient!!! But, let's say that we've got a completely sober audience:
Q = ((14 ÷ 50) x ((0 + 1) x 1) ÷ .2 = 1.4

Look how the Quorum Quotient drops without alcohol!!! Nobody's laughing in that room!!!

Now let's examine an ideal scenario: Full house, relatively dark room and a two-drink minimum.
Q = ((50 ÷ 50) x ((2 + 1) x 1) ÷ .3 = 10

A WHOPPING 10!!! A 10, I say!!!!!

So the scale works something like this...when the Quorum Quotient is between 5 and 10, chances are that, unless your show totally sucks, your audience feels comfortable enough to laugh, cry, and/or applaud - in other words they can be audible while feeling anonymous. A QQ between 3 and 5 requires that your show is really tight and well-constructed, as the audience won't necessarily feel their response is of unknown origin. And pretty much any QQ between 0 and 3 means you'll feel like your doing the show at an echo point on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Interestingly enough, this post is not about the Quorum Quotient. It's about finding a piece of one's memories lying in the gutter on a street in New York. It's not so much sad or angering as just somehow unfortunate. We're all just passing through this world and we know that our existence here is transient, yet to have it stuck right in front of your face just seems like fate giving you the big bitchslap.

Friday, September 09, 2005

September 9, YDAU

Item from Cynthia Turner's CYNopsis, a guide to happenings in TV, Commercial and Movie Production that I subscribe to:

Here is product placement taken to a whole new level. London-based ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi has launched a new division called GUM, created to target the elusive teen and young 20s demo. The idea is simple, according to The Wall Street Journal: Saatchi & Saatchi is offering advertisers a sort of human billboard - that is, owning and naming their own all-female hip-hop band, having their products seen/used/worn on stage and in music videos, and if they want, paying a little extra, have their product names used within the lyrics of the band's songs. The band made its first appearance last evening at Saatchi & Saatchi offices, and unless you knew any better, you'd never know it was a marketing device. The agency calls this Branded Entertainment, and finds masking advertising within entertainment is a better way to reach this tough young demo. Also coming from GUM, commissioned entertainment for other media including TV, film, cellphones and video games.

As if it weren't bad enough to try to compete as an artist who strives to NOT sound pop, now there's this? For any of you who've read Infinite Jest, I see the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment coming real fucking soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why do you do what you do when you did what you did to me?

Ah, yes, a little Jermaine Jackson to get us going today. You see, today I have a topic. Yes, indeedy.

Anonymity in a Transparent Society

I got to thinking about this subject while perusing Gabe's blog and checking out the comments. There was one person who left a seemingly snarky comment while declining to take credit for it. To me, there is something just plain cowardly about that. I mean, if you're going to bother to make a statement, why not own it? Unless you don't really believe it? Or perhaps you're just trying to hurt someone intentionally, but obviously owning up to it would make you the bad guy, and more obviously that cannot be allowed to be true? But secretly you know that your target will suspect it was you, and this garners the ATTENTION you so crave? Without the BLAME? Like that little last barb, that little last word in the argument, the anonymous snark lives to feel superior to their prey. Just like your old shriveled up spinster aunt, they just can't wait to try to take the wind out of your sails. Why? Because they are self-absorbed, insecure and feel entitled to some recompense by life.

Yet, in this society we blog in, where everyone uses site-trackers and monitors their comments and who's "watching" them, is it really possible that an anonymous snark can remain anonymous for very long? I mean, to truly remain anonymous, the snark would have to go to further lengths than merely not signing into blogger to achieve this goal. Hence the transparency of the system usually renders anonymity impotent, for it would be shocking if old snark-i-poo is so dedicated to remaining unknown that he/she/it stops by the NYPL or perhaps a local Internet Cafe to perform his/her/its snarking activities.

So why not own up to it? Why not own it? Because, my friends, obsession is a powerful motivator, causing us to do and say things that we know can't stand up to the light of day. Obsession causes us to stalk each other's blogs, Google variations of each other's names, check when's the last time we were on Friendster. Look up at the light in the window and remember what it was like looking down from it. Obsession is a funny thing. It makes us think we'll never forget things that are best forgotten. And, until present times, obsession was private.

But now, with all of our moves tracked by bots and cameras and satellites, can we ever claim true anonymity? Someone, somewhere out there, is watching. Remember that, when you're deciding whom to call, when to forward and whether to post.

And, by the way, though I used the word "impotent" in the above post, this post is by no means about my, or anyone else's, sex life. Just to clarify.