M i l M a n i a
The Official Newsletter of WWW.ARTISTINSANE.COM
Thanks for reading this issue of Mil Mania! And, remember, this is a work in progress, subject to many and varied changes — all adding up to a new and improved publication...so I hope! Please drop me a line to let me know what you think, including any and all suggestions. Thank you!!!
All Content © Mil Scott www.artistinsane.com
Welcome To The March Issue of Mil Mania!
Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2006
As noted in the December edition of Mil Mania, I will continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com. In addition, for each issue I will also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here. And, of course, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.
This month’s featured
Cyndi Lauper —
Re-discover her for yourself and see if you don’t agree.
For more info visit www.cyndilauper.com.
Third Eye Blind continues to move toward their latest album’s completion. According to an entry (and photos ) posted at The Village Churchyard, the first songs (“Second Born” and “Red Star”) were recorded earlier this month, with the remaining tracks soon to follow.
On a somewhat sadder note, it must be reported that Jen G. has closed her website, StephanJenkins.com after more than 7 years. Here’s what she had to say recently about the passing of this era…”As sj.com nears the 2 million visitor mark, I'd just like to have my site be remembered as the fun loving, save-the-world fundraiser, ever-purple place to find the latest and greatest about 3eb. “
Brian Fitzpatrick makes a triumphant return to the stage this month, as part of the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at The Underpass. So, if you’re in the Northeastern NJ area on that night, this is indeed the place to be! Lest you need any additional incentive, however, here’s what Brian himself had to say about the event in a recent myspace blog, “So, Self-Promotion has never been my strong point, but if you come down to The Underpass on Saint Patrick’s Day I think you are sure to have a good time. I will be playing an acoustic set joined by Matty Z... It's on a Friday this year so no need to worry about work the next day. Come on down and celebrate with your favorite Irish-American songwriter (I'm trying okay!!!). Hope to see you all!”
On a side note to that post, I’d just like to mention that I’ve long been a huge fan of the proverb, “Let another praise you and not your own lips” — words I confess I fear violating every time I include a bit of “self-promotion” in Mil Mania...a publication I realize could be argued as entirely self-promotion by its very existence — though I sincerely hope it serves as much, much more. My point, in any case, is that it’s long been my opinion there are far too many people out there “tooting their own horns” — all the more reason to spend an evening with a highly talented singer-songwriter who sticks to playing his guitar...which is in it“self” undeniably strong promotion.
Michael McDermott has completed work on his re-recorded 7th album, and announced the new release date as “early summer 2006”. In the meantime, he’s playing his own St. Patrick Day shows in the Chicago area — and, it’s hoped more dates in other areas of the U.S. are soon to follow!
In other news, Michael made a Feb. appearance on Chicago’s Improv Olympic’s Late Night Light Show (2/11), which you can listen to via the online podcast archive by clicking here. Just scroll down to Feb. 11 link and click on “Play Now” to hear two brand new McDermott compositions. (His performance begins at approx. the 47 minute mark of the show so you may want to fast forward to that point).
Ravings of a
This column corresponds with the Mad Ravings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.
And, again, this being the St. Pat’s issue, I thought it might be appropriate to offer a few short paragraphs on several Irish–related films rather than a longer review about any one work in particular. Here goes...
Waking Ned Devine — a delightful comedy dealing with the complications of claiming a deceased lottery winner’s fortune — by preventing the lottery commission from discerning this one small “past-tense” detail about his life. A gem chock-full of Irish charm, wit...even a bit of romance — and one which offers a few lessons in friendship, generosity and cooperation. Most importantly, it gently illustrates the value of love and belonging, and how little even the greatest fortune can compare with such treasures.
Rory O’Shea Was Here — a deeply touching drama offering insights into the lives of two young quadriplegic men and their struggle for “normalcy” and independence. Intelligently written and superbly acted, this is a film that unflinchingly documents these individuals’ ever-present challenges, including the confused emotions that surround attaining what they’ve longed for. It’s also a timeless and classic tale of how one’s life can be forever changed by a true friend, and how the strength of such a bond can continue to warm and inspire us through good times, bad times, and well beyond “the end”.
She’s The One — not an Irish film, per se, but like all of Ed Burns forays into writing and directing it’s nonetheless one wherein his rich Irish heritage is fully present and plays a wonderfully central role. And, as Burns remains a perennial favorite of mine as a writer, director and actor, I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to include a sample of his work herein. A tale of two brothers, their tumultuous love-lives and their crusty dad’s no-nonsense observations and advice, this was the first Ed Burns creation I encountered, and still ranks very high among my favorites. As noted on my website, if it boasted no other attributes whatsoever (and it boasts many) I would love it nonetheless for that one great line… “Let me get this straight. You don't want to cheat on your girlfriend with your wife.”
State of Grace — I’ve referenced this film so many times in Mil Mania since its inception that you surely knew this all-time fave whose action culminates on St. Patrick’s Day had to be coming in this column. What I haven’t mentioned previously, however, is the most concise description of (for me) its ultimate appeal...because, of course, to do so means to spoil the ending — which is hardly the way to recommend it to new viewers. That said, I’m warning you to stop reading now if you’re one of those. For the rest of you, the inescapable truth of the film is that Terry Noonan needn’t have put himself in harm’s way to achieve the goal we learn midway through he’d been pursuing all along — a fact that didn’t even occur to me until days after seeing it for the first time. He had everything he needed to arrest Frank and walk away. But, his friendship with Jackie was too important to him… Jackie's life, and death, were too important. And, the verse "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friend" subsequently went through my mind as the best characterization of the film's ultimate meaning —and speaks volumes for the conflicted feelings one experiences while watching the movie, and developing such a caring for Jackie -- as so amazingly played by Gary Oldman. For, it makes one feel one isn't completely crazy to see him as someone somehow lovable when one realizes Terry, too, loved him/valued his friendship that completely. Simply put, it’s beautiful, ultimately, to me -- heartbreaking, tragic and just plain difficult as well, but beautiful — “terribly” beautiful, indeed, nevertheless.
First, I have to say thanks to everyone who’s sent me kind words and wishes in recent weeks, and to those who’ve encouraged me to start this column. And, of course, thanks to Marna for creating the lovely dress for my “author’s portrait”. Truly appreciated.
Also, I have to point out that I’m just an ordinary rodent single mom, so this whole publishing thing is very new to me, and I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous about it all. But, I’ll admit as well that it’s a whole lot better kind of nervous than when I found myself pregnant and alone with cars whizzing by on every side before my adoptive mom and dad at last discovered me and brought me home last March — just 8 3/4 days short of a year ago as I write this...and if you’d been the one in that predicament, shivering off snow flurries, you’d understand why I can recall the exact date and time so easily.
This is a little harder, too, in that while many of you have encouraged me to take on this new challenge, I have yet to receive my first question from a reader. With that in mind, I guess I’ll just dispense with a few random thoughts and observations from my own experiences along life’s way. And, having learned by being adopted that some folks we may think strangers are really just family we don’t know yet, I’ll just hope maybe some of you reading this are also in many ways very much like me, my parents and my kids.
So, to start by simply throwing something out there, I believe it might be appropriate to share a word on gratitude since this clearly plays pretty heavily into my existence — or, I should say the fact that I still exist after the experiences touched on above serves as a constant reminder of all I have to be grateful for — and indeed I am. My boys Flannery and Noonan don’t know anything about hardship to speak of, and for that I’m grateful, too. But, that means while they very happily enjoy their evening meal (and morning ice cream...and afternoon Craisins...and in-between whipped cream…) they don’t necessarily understand that these (like a warm, precipitation-free aquarium and a magically re-filling water bowl) aren’t given circumstances for everyone. And, I have to confess that sometimes when a particularly tasty repast is delivered to our doorstep before bedtime and an eager pushing match breaks out, I don’t always keep my own hands to myself in clamoring to grab my share of the most desirable delicacies.
But, when the main course is finished, mom’s given each of us fruit pieces for dessert, and we’re finally settling in, all warm and stuffed, I remember that life wasn’t always so easy, and climb up on the top edge of the aquarium to try and catch mom’s eye. When I do and she comes over, I invariably climb onto her shoulder and try my best to say thank you. I think she understands as she always gives me a hug and calls me her “Molly Polly Dolly” before taking me to bed for a little extra playtime. Which reminds me of my first real piece of “madvice”: never refuse a hug.
Until then, don’t forget — keep those messages coming...and whatever’s on your mind, just ask away. Of course, I should probably mention as well that I’ve been reading advice columns in newspapers to learn how all this works. So, rest assured your identity will be kept in strictest confidence…other than to let folks know you’re “Frustrated in Fresno”, “Confused in Cleveland” or “Abandoned by a Mailbox” — uh, well, that last one’s probably never gonna be you. But as I’ve said, I’m just writing here from my own experience…and thanks to more recent experience, never again will that be ME!!!
P.S. Click here to check out a new St. Patrick’s Day photo collection mom put together of me, my boys and the rest of our rodent clan!
NEW — As Promised!!! Molly Madvises
(by... Molly, of course!)
Click on the
Comments from Mil Mania readers on Jan.’s
I must say that the lament regarding my name published in the January issue of Mil Mania proved a surprisingly hot topic in the number of responses it garnered — nearly all taking me to task in the most humbling and touching way. Would that correction could always be so complimentary!!! That said, I should probably at last clarify that although I will admit the social ineptitude of which I spoke in the piece is an indeed true fact of my existence, the attempts to pin this on my “given” name were (well, okay, almost) entirely humorous in their intent. However, I can in no way adequately express my appreciation for the kind and unexpected words that formed your many “censures” Here’s a sampling…
“...we had a cousin named Kermit (who never corrected the first person to wrongfully call him Hermit...and guess what? Hermit stuck! For life! Another distant relative had the first name of Owens, and my poor aunt is Beverly Merle! So you see, every family has their share of the different names. I like Mildred! I know it's a bit old fashioned, but there is never any question of whether we are talking about a man or woman who has the name Mildred! Too many names today are just too trendy, and quite frankly, not pretty! Mildred is a pretty name and you should be happy to have such a pretty name!”
“Your essay on the matter was quite enjoyable. What a family you have! I used to really be into Shawn Colvin (interviewed her about 10 years ago--really nice person), and one of her songs, “I Want It Back”, has a great lyric in it. It is: ‘Every morning you've got a name/In a world where people all look the same.’ So true for you!!”
“It’s all in a name? First, I’d like to apologize for a comment I made about your name many moons ago. We were shooting hoops at the elementary school and I stated, “Isn’t Mildred the feminine form of Mordred?” I still think it was quite witty but I had no idea concerning the depths of your name issue...
If you were named Susan, Amy or some other “typical” moniker, it wouldn’t fit your personality.
I happen to like your name and love the person attached to it.”
(NOTE: The last of those is from one of my lifelong dearest friends — more a brother, really….which just goes to prove one of my longtime philosophies — family is a group we create and maintain as much as one we’re born into. In either case, however, it’s arguably a group we’re “given” — or rather, I should say it’s undoubtedly a “gift”.)
In A Nutshell
In keeping with the St. Patrick’s Day theme central to this issue, it seems only fitting that this particular “nutshell” should contain a short verse written in traditional Irish “limerick” form...
There once was a man named Kilkenny,
Whose pockets held nary a penny.
Still, he whistled a tune
And danced jigs ‘neath the moon,
Giving thanks to have blessings so many.
Writings From The Asylum
Josh walked into the apartment, closed the door behind him and dropped his keys plus a pile of mail on the bookshelf by the door. Kneeling down to the level of the dark brown tabby rubbing back and forth against his legs, he gave the cat’s head and neck a vigorous scratching.
“Hey, Sultan. You haven’t had much attention lately, have you pal?” he asked his furry roommate. “Yeah, I know. Humans. There’s just no excuse for us, is there?” Feeling hungry for the first time in days – an irony not lost on him that he’d only just left a diner – he stood up, went to the fridge and rummaged through its freezer, at last pulling out a single-serve frozen dinner, followed closely by Sultan, who expressed his pleasure at Josh’s homecoming by noisily crunching the remnants of his morning feeding in the bowl beside it.
Josh tossed the dinner in the microwave, then returned to the fridge to pour a glass of water from the bottle Julie always kept filled…swearing at himself under his breath when he realized it was empty – and why.
Refusing to surrender the sense of relative peace he’d newly discovered over the last hour or two, he took the bottle to the sink, filled it to the brim, and poured a few ounces in Sultan’s water dish before replacing it on the shelf. Seconds later the microwave emitted the annoying, high-pitched beep that seemed diabolically designed to punish a hangover signaling his meal was ready. He grabbed a fork from a nearby drawer, hit the button to open the door, and pulled the plastic cover from his dinner, drawing back in haste as a cloud of steam wafted out, causing him to shake his hand in pain. Heading back to the fridge once more and finding only a few bottles of Samuel Adams, he plucked one from the pack, eagerly wrapping his still burning fingers around the comforting coolness of its neck. Gingerly balancing his molten-lava-like dinner on the other hand, he at last made his way to the couch and sat down heavily, letting out a tired but not unhappy sigh.
He opened his beer and took a long draught, immediately regretting not having waited for his food to cool and eaten some of it beforehand to prevent his empty stomach from rebelling against this sudden intrusion of icy liquid. Sultan padded in to sprawl on the carpet a few feet away, and Josh sat very still for a moment, one hand clutched to his mouth, waiting for the nausea to ebb. Finally feeling a bit relieved, he decided to delay a few more minutes before introducing food to his already confused system, and walked to the bookshelf to pick up the pile of mail. Bringing it back to the couch, he sat down and began flipping through envelopes – bills, solicitations, etc. – before stopping at one sent via overnight mail from the record label’s New York offices, which he tore open impatiently.
“Dear Mr. Gray,” it began, “congratulations on joining forces with us in bringing your music to the record-buying public. This letter is to remind you of a few requirements of your contract and to request some additional information we’ll need in order to begin moving forward with recording of your album here in NYC.”
Josh scoffed, then scanned the rest of the letter – which went on to discuss arrangements for housing and the need to submit an official band name…an odd thing to be lacking after ten years with the same lineup, all members would admit. But, Josh had been the one who had started out with a full repertoire of material when the others began backing him for fun in high school, and as he had remained both the primary writer and the voice behind the songs over the years, it had been his billing alone that prevailed up to this point. It had also been his suggestion to change that when they got a record deal.
Josh wasn’t thinking about monikers, however, when he tossed the letter aside in disgust; rather, he was recalling that old joke about the devil’s tour of a sunny resort-like hell shown a “lucky” soul given the opportunity to glimpse the afterworld before choosing which side of it he’d one day like to occupy. Finding after death that the reality was vastly darker than he’d been led to expect, the devil exclaims in sneering glee, “Then you were a prospect; now you’re a client.” Faced with the similar reality of “his” label’s sudden ownership of both his product and “placement”, Josh was beginning to feel equally duped – and equally displeased.
Turning away from the mail entirely, he took a few bites of macaroni and cheese, then polished off the rest of his beer. Pulling out his cell phone, he flipped it open and hit “6” on speed dial. After 4 unanswered rings, Chris’s voicemail kicked in, singing an originally composed invitation to leave a message.
“Yeah…it’s me. Hey, I don’t think I’m gonna come to that gig tonight. Hope it goes well, though…and I…uh…I guess I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
Carrying the largely uneaten contents of his now congealed dinner, Josh headed back to the kitchen, scooped the remains in Sultan’s food bowl and dropped the container in the trash under the sink. Stopping by the refrigerator yet again to grab another beer, he sat down heavily on the couch once more, and took another deep drink, staring past the rhythmic, slow-motion thumping of Sultan’s tail through the doorway to the bedroom, its balcony and the memory that not all pre-death tours of hell are all that cheery in themselves.
So much for the peace he had so recently begun to enjoy…and more recently still, pretty much all but forgotten. But, as long as the Sam Adams supply in the fridge held up its end of the bargain, maybe with a little luck of his own, he could forget that, too – indeed maybe he could forget everything before the night was out.
Morning had to come eventually. And then what?
As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column presents the latest chapter in the prose “prequel” to my screenplay, Taking the Fall. While the script picks up four years after the suicide of the main character (Joshua Gray)’s girlfriend, the novel begins with that act itself, and the portion shared here continues to document events taking place the day/evening after the funeral...
Lady MacBeth Muses
‘Tis a circuitous route hath carved this path;
I have been robbed of that which I deserve
Yet not bereft of faculty or wit,
The both of which shall yet see through my plans
To gain that which should already be mine.
I may be a woman but not a fool,
And I know fully well what law decrees;
Upon my father’s murder, I became heir
To his property – my son, his title.
His wife, no kin to me, won widowhood –
Nothing more…again, so says Scotland’s law.
‘Twas not fit to involve Duncan in th’affair,
And enlist his charity to avenge
My father’s death – and more – win her his land.
My land. Still, I have known a measure, too,
Of all she suffered – when my own husband
Did with his brother usurp their uncle,
And for their ambitious schemes to rule
Were they rewarded with the punishment
Of death – my husband having never
Ruled at all; his brother for a fleet instant
‘Til the next tyrant masquerading in a cloak
Of righteous claims exerted his self-righteous wants;
An act by him and his which fueled a fire
Of ambition wrought in grief, its embers
Of hot steel tempered by their cruelty –
Its flames e’en now with hunger reaching
From ‘neath a covering of smoke ne’er cleared...
The colorless palette of this dank clime.
‘Twas part of my womanly obedience
I be bargained off in marriage once again,
To a cousin with a cousin who’s now king –
One I do know well, but wish well not:
Duncan – the very traitor himself who
Stole my land for my father’s wife, and more,
Took part in taking my son’s father’s life.
I have known the terrible patience of time,
Waited years and hours to let slip each poison drop
From my round intent into MacBeth’s ear,
Feeding ever and anon his own dark thoughts,
Awakening desires drip by drip
Until the day opportunity shall happen
Upon want; and in the hope that when
It does, preparedness will not prove wanting.
Through MacBeth this lady shall have her way
And Duncan, at last, will his debts to me repay.
NEW!!! Literary Lunacy
You may have read on my website or in the bio on my page at myspace.com that I wrote (and acted in several performances of) a stage play based on Hamlet (now published to my website for the first time). Consisting of monologues in which the major characters share insights into their own lives up to the point where each enters the action of Hamlet itself, the piece is something of an experimental drama in that it involves neither dialogue nor conventional character interaction. Still, it works surprisingly well as a live theater experience, and its productions remain among my very proudest artistic moments.
As I haven’t had much time to revisit Shakespeare recently, and in the interest of offering a little something different to Mil Mania readers, I thought I’d embrace the challenge once presented me by a college professor who said she’d love to see me give a similar monologue/character autobiography treatment to Lady MacBeth (though, in the interest of the newsletter format I’ve done so in a rather condensed form). That said, based on a bit of research into the real character on whom she’s based and, of course, a bit of imagination, here’s my stab at capturing this particular “literary lunatic” (and yes, the pun’s intended)...
Yes, it’s that one magic month wherein Ire
The Leap to Limbo (tentative title),