Thursday, November 29

Desperate housewives.

Wow, there are some horrible people in the world. In the TV movie in my head, Lori Drew looks like Ann Coulter. Hmm...

Wednesday, November 28

It's in the mail.

Finally, an e-card site for those occasions when Hallmark just isn't quite right:

Tuesday, November 27

Pop!

I so don't write pop music.

I love pop music. I just don't think I could write it even if I tried.

Sometimes I really wish that I could. So many writers in my generation are writing really great pop music, and sometimes I wish I could play on their team, too.

I once relayed this grass-is-always-greener sentiment to Ira Weitzman, who runs the musical theater program up at Lincoln Center Theater. He sagely said, "Well, then, who's gonna write the theater music?"

Suddenly I picture the classroom out of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," with Ben Stein standing at the front:

"Who's gonna write the theater music?"

A pause.

"Theater music?"

"Theater music?"

And then I sheepishly raise my hand.

This has all entered my head, because, when I was writing my show Ordinary Days last year, I think I had convinced myself I was writing a little pop musical. And I was listening to some stuff from it today, and it is so not pop music that it's laughable I even thought it was!

Don't get me wrong, I love it and am really proud of it. It's just not pop music.

Silly Adam! Thinking he could be something he's not!

Sunday, November 25

Blackout.

Conversations overheard and/or remembered:

L Train, 9am.

1st Girl: I'm trying not to be so Buy-Buy-Buy.
2nd Girl: I know what you mean.
1st Girl: I'm trying to have savings. I mean, I have some savings. By accident.
2nd Girl: [laughs]
1st Girl: No, literally. I was in an accident.

***

Amtrak, noon-ish.

Sean: What did I do wrong today?
Sean's Future Ex: You got so frustrated this morning when all I wanted to do was sleep a little more.
Sean: You wanted a toasted bran muffin.
Sean's Future Ex: You could have been making it and LETTING ME SLEEP.

***

Fort Greene, evening.

Liz: ...Prague.
Adam: Prague. Maybe that's where I should go on vacation. I've heard it's cheap and arty.
Liz: That was, like, ten years ago.
Adam: True.
Liz: Didn't we see a play about that?
Adam: About Prague?
Liz: Not about Prague. Something about AIDS, a guy from Rent...
Adam: Wha?
Liz: And a girl.
Adam: I have no memory of this. It took place in Prague?
Liz: Maybe it was Amsterdam. But they talked about Prague.
Adam: Are you sure this wasn't a novel?
Liz: Yes.
Adam: ...
Liz: ...
Adam: ...
Adam: ...
Liz: We were in the West Village.
Adam: Ohhhhhh...Red Light Winter...
Liz: Red Light Winter.
Adam: That was Amsterdam.
Liz: But there was a line about Prague being passe.
Adam: I don't remember.
Liz: You remember the play though? I'm not crazy?
Adam: Yeah yeah yeah, they all give each other AIDS at the end, blackout.

Saturday, November 17

Talkin' turkey.

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because it involves two of my favorite things: eating and wearing sweaters. It's just when the weather turns colder -- and the merino wool comes out of the drawer -- that my mind turns to thoughts of pumpkin pie, turkey gravy, and stuffing.

But in recent years, there's been a more telling sign that Thanksgiving is on its way: I'm contacted by random, old friends from across the country telling me they've just seen me on The Food Network.

It's true; a couple years ago I appeared in an episode of "Good Deal with Dave Lieberman," a show whose premise is that every week, Dave, the chef-on-a-budget, invites some of his pals over to his apartment to share a meal he's prepared on a twentysomething-in-New-York's budget. I was one of the Very Special Friends on the Very Special Thanksgiving Episode, which, if I'm remembering the release form I signed before filming the episode, is set to air pretty much in perpetuity every Thanksgiving.

And so, like clockwork, random people from my past come out of the woodwork every November and tell me they've just seen me on national TV.

This year, apparently, I've come up in the world, and I'm featured in the opening credits of every single episode. I don't watch the show, so this is all hearsay, but I've heard a detailed description of myself raising a glass of red wine, which, in fact, I did during the shoot. (They get you really drunk.)

There were several takes of me adeptly serving green beans (harder than it sounds), which I was sad to say did not make it to the final cut.

The funny thing -- and I hope some Food Network heavies don't hunt me down and lay claim to my first born for saying so -- is that I'm not really friends with Dave Lieberman. I just met him that day, and haven't ever seen him since.

Really, I just did the show so I could eat two Thanksgiving meals in one year. (The show was filmed in the summer -- we were told to dress and act as if it were the fall. For our pre-dinner conversation, we went around the table and shared what we were for Halloween. It was July.)

Anyhoo, this is a funny little thing about Adam in autumn. I always forget about it until someone says, "I saw you on the Food Network!" and then I know that my favorite holiday is right around the corner.

Wednesday, November 14

My favorite part of a musical...

(Please sing the title of this post to the tune of "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...")

You know what my favorite part of writing a musical is? It's that point you reach when you're 3 or 4 songs away from your first draft. I like it because there's an adreneline rush, and the musical seems to almost finish itself. The character's voices are second nature by now, the musical world of the show is running in your veins, notes and rests like plasma and platelets in your bloodstream. The story's in place and you've just got to fill in the gaps. If all has gone well, you've got a few killer tunes already, and there's a push in writing these last few to make them really great -- a last gasp to top everything you've written so far. Also, there's a total grasp of the vocabulary of the show, and at this point, you're able to twist the existing vocabulary into all sorts of neat storytelling tricks. I find that the last 3 or 4 songs I write for a show are often the glue that holds a show together, craft-wise. Writing the last few songs feels to me the most liberated part of the whole process, for the very reason that all the rules of the show are already in place.

But the real joy of this moment in the process is knowing that, soon, other people are gonna get involved! And that, for the lonely, lonely writer, is the best part of all.

If you couldn't guess, I've reached this favorite of moments with my latest musical, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, and I'm tapping my toes in anticipation.

Saturday, November 10

Strike two.

So, you can't watch new TV shows, or see a Broadway play.

Good thing you can read a book, rent a movie, go to the cinema, ride a bike, catch up with an old friend, call your mom, hit the gym, write a letter, surf the internet, learn to knit, get some work done, re-enact historical events, get your hair cut, dress up real nice, go out for sushi, take a stroll, sit in the park, go shopping, visit the zoo, see a ballet, check out some downtown theater, clean your apartment, write a song, plant a tree, ride the subway aimlessly, take a roadtrip, go to a museum, go shopping, buy a used book, listen to some music, attend a symphony, sit in a coffeeshop, drive somewhere new, look up your exes online, sew up the holes in your old pants, mail some postcards, invent a new recipe, throw a party, do your dishes, start a website, read the paper, do a crossword puzzle, refine your sudoku skills, look up a new word, start studying a new language, sell some stuff on eBay, ask someone out on a date, buy a present for someone, donate your old clothes, go to the top of the Empire State Building, balance your checkbook, draw a picture, go out for a beer, polish your dance moves, make a new friend, spellcheck your email, recycle, drink hot chocolate, talk politics, do jumping jacks, plan a vacation, put on the radio, do the robot, think of something profound, organize your receipts, have people over for wine and Oreos, examine your life choices, pet a dog, fall in love, dump someone, make sure all your clocks were set back an hour, dust off your tap shoes, make your bed, sleep late, wake up early, update your resume, sketch out your family tree, play Twister, start a poker night, volunteer somewhere, do karaoke, dust, carve a pumpkin, blog.

Tuesday, November 6

Words, words, words.

I've been obsessed recently with this beautiful, beautiful lyric by singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. How he's sewn together this patchwork quilt of someone's life, on the effect of that life on his life, just by listing the simplest of things.

Here ya go: (It's called "Casimir Pulaski Day")

Golden rod and the 4-H stone
The things I brought you
When I found out you had cancer of the bone

Your father cried on the telephone
And he drove his car to the Navy yard
Just to prove that he was sorry

In the morning through the window shade
When the light pressed up against your shoulder blade
I could see what you were reading

Oh the glory that the lord has made
And the complications you could do without
When I kissed you on the mouth

Tuesday night at the bible study
We lift our hands and pray over your body
But nothing ever happens

I remember at Michael's house
In the living room when you kissed my neck
And I almost touched your blouse

In the morning at the top of the stairs
When your father found out what we did that night
And you told me you were scared

Oh the glory when you ran outside
With your shirt tucked in and your shoes untied
And you told me not to follow you

Sunday night when I cleaned the house
I find the card where you wrote it out
With the pictures of your mother

On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom

In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window

In the morning in the winter shade
On the first of March on the holiday
I thought I saw you breathing

Oh the glory that the lord has made
And the complications when I see his face
In the morning in the window

Oh the glory when he took our place
But he took my shoulders and he shook my face
And he takes and he takes and he takes

Sunday, November 4

Lazy boy.

In geometry class, my favorite thing was the statement:

A square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus is not always a square.

I remember smiling and drawing a box around this sentence when I wrote it in my notebook. I liked the truth and the poetry of it. Graceful and absolute.

Being the nerdy boy I was, I brought up this sentence with my friends later in the day. To my complete surprise, they didn't even understand it.

"A square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus is not always a square? What? I'm confused," they said.

I tried to explain. "Er, well, you can't really say it any more plainly. A square is always a rhombus, because, you know, a rhombus is a quadrilateral with four equal sides. But a rhombus isn't necessarily a square, because it could be, like, a parallelogram. So...a square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus is not always a square."

Blank stares.

It recently hit me that this square/rhombus relationship -- and the fact that a lot of people don't get it -- applies to a lot of different things.

Let's take the gays. (Why not?)

For instance:

If you solicit sex from strangers in a public restroom, you're gay. But not all gay people solicit sex from strangers in public restrooms.

Or:

If you hate gays, you're a Republican. And probably gay. But not all Republicans hate gays.

(I'm pretty sure about that last one. Or, hopeful, at least.)

I've always found the concept of stereotypes interesting. Because, usually, stereotypes have their origins in some sort of truth, but, per the law of Squares and Rhombuses (Rhombi?) a particular truth is not always -- and, perhaps, is never -- a general truth. That's what makes us humans the wonderfully, frustratingly idiosyncratic creatures we are.

Along those lines, I've decided that I'm part of a new stereotype: the Lazy Gay.

This realization came about the other night, while I was at a bar with a few friends. It was a gay night at a not-usually-gay bar in Brooklyn. The bar was rectangular, a long, narrow space with the bar on the left side, a good deal of comfy couches on the right side, and a minimal alleyway of space in between.

The evening progressed with something of a Gay Bell Curve. When we arrived, the crowd was pretty mixed, and the soundtrack was your typical Brooklyn indie-band kind of thing. Suddenly, an hour in, I noticed that there were lots of gays and songs by the Pussycat Dolls. Then, later, the gays left and the indie-bands returned.

Now, my friends and I spent the entire evening with our beers, sitting in the comfy couch area. At the height of the Pussycat Doll portion of the evening, we noticed that, while the bar was fairly crowded, we were literally the only ones sitting on the couches. The couches took up most of the bar space, so this meant that everyone was standing, herded together in the little room there was next to the bar.

Okay, if there's ever a choice between sitting on a couch and not sitting on a couch, I'm sitting on a couch. And so I dubbed myself a Lazy Gay.

This, too, is a handy phrase for many situations:

"Ooh, Adam, I dig the rugged look. You're bringing sexy back. Why the stubble?"

"Meh, didn't feel like shaving. Lazy Gay."

"Hey, Adam, have you had a chance to write that new song for our eagerly anticipated new musical?"

"Sorry...Lazy Gay."

"Dude, your apartment's a mess."

"Lazy Gay."

I decided that I should start a bar night where there's no option but to sit on couches and have beer brought to you. I shall call it La-Z-Boy.

Hell, you can even pay me a $5 cover and come sit on my couch, drink beer and watch TV. Then I won't even have to leave my apartment.

The moral of all this, I suppose, is that people, like quadrilaterals, are particular creatures. There are trapezoids and rectangles; there are Lazy Gays and Gays Who Like To Stand Up. There's no point in letting generalities guide your life, because they probably won't apply. Life deals in specifics.

So, the next time you meet a rhombus, don't immediately assume he or she is a square. The only way to find out is to measure them and see if their angles are, in fact, 90-degrees.