Whoops!

Remember how I was participating in NaNoWriMo but also started writing a play? (If you don’t, I mentioned it in the previous post)

Presently, the play is much more interesting to work on than the novel. Partly because I gave the characters in my play more emotions and more depth. (Which is my fault.) Also, unlike my previous plays, not everyone in this play is a complete jerk that spends the entire play yelling at the other characters.

But I have no title for this play because I tend to worry about titles last. (I’m terrible with titles, if you haven’t noticed.) In fact, I don’t even come up with the character’s names immediately. When I start writing a play, the characters are A, B, C, D, etc. They will even refer to each other by their designated letters, which always makes me feel like I’ve been watching far too much Gossip Girl. Especially with this play because the character that was B is named Brenda and the character that was D is named David. But the dialogue and plot comes first, names come second.

Well, hopefully this effort on a play is successful. So far, I think it’s better than my previous plays.

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NaNoWriMo Update #1: Hey, I Decided to Write A Play While I’m At It!

I’m presently at 6,000 words with my novel simply because I’ve been a bit busy recently. So, I’m a bit behind, but I’ve been trying to write whenever I have the time. Which sometimes means that I end up writing at, oh, 3 a.m..

But Saturday night, I was sitting in an Argo Tea with my MacBook, working on my novel while simultaneously reading Bilal Dardai’s live-tweeting from a performance of “The Man Who Was Thursday” when an idea hit me.

What if I decided to switch the narration from third-person omniscient to first-person point of view for the very final chapter?

This would be to simply show how destructive the relationship that the two characters were in for most of the novel was to them personally. (I’m presently a bit fascinated by what love, infatuation, lust and obsession does to people and to their relationships by others. Those themes are not only explored in my novel, but also in the play that I managed to start working on. Only, the stories told in both of them are very, very different and the ending for one is a bit downbeat while the other one is a bloody tragedy at the end.)

So far, I think that it is effective and manages to tie up the plot lines very well. I’m not sure if I will change the narration for the entire novel to first-person point of view for this secondary character. I’ll figure that out later and was in the process of debating that when I was kicked out of Argo Tea. (The staff decided to close early.)

In other news, I started writing a play too. At this moment, the play is coming along better than the novel. But I had a realization today that an actor can’t be hogtied on his back and have his facial expressions visible to the audience in most possible stagings. So, I’ll fix that in my stage directions. (Long story short: Obsessive ex-girlfriend of the protagonist kidnaps the protagonist’s best friend.)

The Great Cupcake Project

cupcake_timerI am not ashamed to admit that I love food.

I love both the preparation of food and the consumption of it; to me, spending two hours in the kitchen preparing mushroom and parmesan risotto is one of the most rewarding things in the world because it tastes so wonderful.

And among the various different dishes and items I enjoy are pastries. But since coming to Chicago, the only places I had consumed wonderful pastries at were Ann Sather’s (cinnamon rolls) and Medici’s on 57th (spinach and feta crossaint).

A couple of weeks ago, someone on Twitter had commented about cupcakes in Chicago. I knew of places with cupcakes, but I hadn’t been to any. Wednesday, while walking to the Greenhouse Theatre Center to see “The Pillowman,” I noticed that there was a cupcake place called Swirlz located at Lincoln and Belmont. Saturday, I was on the bus to get to the brunch and noticed that there was another cupcake place called Molly’s Cupcakes that was on Clark. I suddenly felt fairly stupid because I didn’t know that those places existed in my neighborhood.

Sunday, I was walking around my neighborhood because it was absolutely beautiful outside and I was a bit annoyed and needed to talk a walk. I decided to go to Molly’s Cupcakes, where I ordered a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting and gummy bears. (Don’t worry; I had milk with my whole wheat couscous that evening.) It was delicious and an idea hit me.

What if I went to various cupcake shops in the city, tried their cupcakes, and then decided on which place had the best cupcakes? I would write about the cupcakes here and basically review them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this; a couple of years ago I went to all of the sub shops in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area to figure out who had the best meatball sub. (The answer: Sub City on College Hill in Cedar Falls. They keep their meatballs in a crockpot all day.) But this is a bit more practical because cupcakes are much less expensive than meatball subs.

I have a list seven places that I know of where I can get cupcakes in Chicago: More Cupcakes, Twisted Bakery, Sarah’s Pastries and Candies, Phoebe’s Cupcakes, Meatloaf Bakery, Molly’s Cupcakes and Swirlz Cupcakes. If anyone would like to add to this list, feel free to do so.

I might also have some people aid me in this, simply so I don’t have a sugar overdose. I’m debating that though. Although, More Cupcakes apparently has a BLT cupcake and I want to find someone to try it for me. (When reviewing food, it tends to be better to bring someone with you so they can taste other items.)

But, the Great Cupcake Project will begin later this week and I’ll report back either before I leave for winter break, which is next weekend, or after I get to Iowa when I finish this. So, check back here for an update on the project later.

Review: “parades and changes, replays” at Museum of Contemporary Art

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In the 1950’s, choreographer Anna Halprin developed her show “Parades and Changes,” which was subsequently banned from performance in New York in 1965 due to nudity. Halprin had put together “Parades and Changes” by writing dance scores, sets of instructions for the dancers, but allowed the dancers to decide how to perform them. “parades and changes, replays,” which is running at the Museum of Contemporary Art until Sunday, is a reinterpretation of Halprin’s original productions, headed by French choreographer Anne Collod. The physical movements of the six performers as they perform the sequences to Morton Subotnick’s chilling score results in a fascinating 90-minute performance.

While the first moments of the show involve a man onstage conducting the six performers, who are seated among the audience, to speak–five of them speak in French and one in English–the rest is silent, save for the score that is being performed, which at some moments has an industrial and mechanical sound to it. The first 30 minutes of the performance involves the performers undressing and dressing, which is what caused “Parades and Changes” to be banned in 1965. In spite of the different movements that the performers incorporate into the stripping and dressing, the repetition causes it to become a bit dull. The performers, nude, then tear up large sheets of brown paper and crumple the paper, throwing it around, swirling the paper around. The movements of the performers as they throw the paper up in the air and move it around has a quality reminiscent of a storm occurring onstage. The next portion involves the performers, now wearing underwear underneath black jackets, rhythmically stomping on brightly colored cubes. After removing their shoes, the performers run to different blocks and yell before embracing other performers. The different embraces and the alienation of those still standing on blocks, alone, caused this portion to be the most powerful aspect of the performance.

The final sequence involves an odd fashion show of sorts where the performers create outfits out of the various elements scattered on the stage. At the end, four of the performers put as many objects as possible on a male and female performer. This has an odd, monster-like quality to it as the performers walk up the aisle, to the lobby outside of the MCA theater, and then let outside to roam outside of the museum, the images of which are captured on film and shown on a screen inside of the theater. (I am happy to report that the performers got back to the theater okay.)

These sequences and the performances from the ensemble are brave and interesting. It is truly a shame that Halprin’s original production was banned from performance in 1965 because of how human yet alienating Collod’s reinterpretation of the original “Parades and Changes” is.

“parades and changes, replays” has performances at the MCA stage on Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 8 at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 312-397-4010 or visiting mcachicago.org. The performance is recommended for mature audiences.

NaNoWriMo or NaPlaWriMo?

The month of November happens to be the month for the annual National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, and National Playwriting Month, NaPlaWriMo. (It also happens to be NaBloPoMo, but I don’t have something to blog about everyday and I feel like writing every day might be a stretch for me.)

Now, which one of these might I participate in? You might think that I would be participating in NaPlaWriMo because of how much I love the theater. But I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo since the idea that I have for a story to be told would be best told in a novel format rather than in the format of a play.

I have thirty days to write 50,000 words. I already have 1,734 words written, so writing 50,000 words seems like a goal that is possibly achievable.

What will make participating in NaNoWriMo will be that in the month of November, I have finals. I also have entrance essays to work on for two colleges that I’m apply to. (I’m trying to transfer.) So, in addition to those things, I will be trying to write a novel. But, after November 16, I begin my Winter Break, so I should have plenty of time to write.

Well, wish me luck. I won’t abandon this, I promise.
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