27 May 2008

The Meme Generation

You know that awkward moment in school, when the coolest girl in the senior class asked you to dance, and you realized that you had nothing to wear, no moves to bust, and only the minimum requisites for the task (namely, two feet)? But you went ahead and tried to dance anyway, because she was so cool?

I’m having that moment. Joyce DiDonato, the mezzo-soprano and authoress of Yankeediva, has tagged me in “Meme,” a kind of game among bloggers: as she explains it, one blogger asks another to answer a few questions about herself on her blog, and then she asks other bloggers to do the same. That last part will be tricky for me, since I know only four people who blog — and Joyce is one of them. I do read other blogs, but the authors don’t know me at all: I can’t very well tag Dan Froomkin, the political blogger of the Washington Post. (Can I?) On the other hand, my brother has multiple blogs, so perhaps he can write multiple responses. Much the way Sally Field might have done, in the movie Sybil.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Ten Years Ago
I was a producer at CBS News, attending the Affiliates Meeting in Los Angeles. (I had to look this up in the journal that, in those days, I kept faithfully — though soon I would become so depressed by my job that the journal fell by the wayside forevermore.) On our way to Los Angeles, my supervisor, who shall go nameless, threw a temper tantrum so colossal that I was still upset and writing about it on June 3, several days later. At the next Affiliates Meeting, one year later, he threw another, even bigger tantrum that resulted in the loss of my job. One wonders why I didn’t see the warning signs.

Also in May 1998, I was at work on my second novel, The Dark Is My Delight, which, in May 2000, I would accidentally erase with a single keystroke. Basically, the historical record shows that this is not a good time of year for me.


Five Things on Today’s “To Do” List
1. Attend a memorial service for Madeline Lee Gilford;
2. Commemorate the births of my household goddesses Beverly Sills (May 25), Teresa Stratas (May 26), my maternal grandmother (May 27), and Madeline Gilford (May 30);
3. Contact friends I encountered at the 25th reunion of my graduating class in Providence this weekend (and more about that subject will be written in this space soon);
4. Contact friends in New York to let them know that I’m in town this week;
5. If there’s time, try to work on an article for Opera News that was assigned two years ago and is due five minutes ago.

Things I’d Do If I Were a Billionaire
1. Buy a château — not too big, just something homey — Azay-le-Rideau, say, and not Chambord;
2. Produce all the movies that my friends want to make;
3. Publish all the books that my friends write (oh, and the books that I write, too);
4. Launch and/or bankroll an opera company;
5. Pay the college tuition of all my godchildren.

Three Bad Habits
Only three? I’ve got hundreds. Unfortunately, none of these are printable. But I’ll share this with you: I seize upon any opportunity to talk about myself.

Five Places I’ve Lived
The list in toto: San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Providence, New York, Boston (for almost two months, while Rags was in tryouts), Paris and Beynes.

John B. Anderson, a boss I never met.

Five Jobs I’ve Had
Most of my jobs are listed in my profile, but I’ll try to make this more interesting.

1. While I was in college, I got the first and only paying acting gigs of my career thus far. As part of a training program for medical students, I pretended to be a patient. My portrayal of “Man with Hypertension” received rave reviews from all the doctors, but when I played “Man with Venereal Infection,” the critics were less than kind.

2. I was North Texas Area Campaign Manager for presidential candidate John B. Anderson, in 1980. I had no idea what I was doing, and I take full responsibility for his defeat at the polls.

3. I worked as an assistant to the production accountant for the TV show Dallas, on location, for three days in the summer of 1981. One of my duties was the shredding of scripts, so that secrets of the plot would not be divulged to the public. I wasn’t a fan of the show, and those scripts were unbelievably badly written: it’s a mark of Larry Hagman’s talent that people even watched the show. Seriously. Could Olivier have made that prose sing? I doubt it.

4. I was a go-go boy for one night, only a few years ago. I know that I’ve mentioned this already, but I just like saying it. I was a go-go boy. I was a go-go boy.

5. I taught freshman comp at Columbia University. I’ve mentioned this, too, but it’s on my mind, since this week I’m sleeping on the couch of Kara Lack, who was one of my students. In a perfect world, this would constitute extra credit, and I’d be obliged to raise her grade by two or three points for the semester.

And did I ever tell you about the time I was a go-go boy?
(Sadly, this is Matt Cavenaugh, co-star of the musical
Grey Gardens, and not yours truly.)

Five People I’m Tagging
1. The Girl from Texas
2. Chronic Pain Woman
3. My brother
4. My brother
5. My brother