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Love & Taxes

The Running of the Lines

I’m about to start running lines for tonight’s performance of Love & Taxes, benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  (A few tix remain! Click here for details.)  Every time I do a show that I haven’t done in a while, I run the lines — usually, just to myself, in my motel room, or wherever.  (Today I’m home!)  And it always feels as though I am entering another world: the world of that particular piece, with its rhythms and connections (and dumb jokes). And crossing that border — from civilian to story-warrior — at first comes as something of a shock: Who am I in this place?  Then, at some point, I’m finally back inside the story — and I’m no longer the daily person reeling from past to future, but a character, who lives in a story, and who gets to share that story — which has a shape (of sorts) — in the sacred space of a theater.

So … here goes!

(See you when I’m back.)


Venn DiagramEven my lovely and powerful computer is getting fed up with all the multitasking. When I ask it to let me use Firefox, it rope-a-dopes me — asking, in effect, “Do you really need to use Firefox?  Wouldn’t you be just as happy sticking with your email application?”  I need to click on the little Firefox icon a few more times before the machine grudgingly brings up the browser.

I feel my laptop’s pain (something I’m sure we’ve all experienced, though possibly not on our wedding night): There are so many things I’m trying to do right now that I feel myself approaching a sort of fugue state.

On one of my “tabs” on Firefox is an uploading video that my brother Jake and I made yesterday, alerting our supporters at that we plan to shoot the next installment of our new film, Love & Taxes, next weekend — and gently asking for even more donations.

On another tab is the enewsletter-generating program I use: I plan to send out an eblast to my peeps today about a couple of improvs I’ll be doing (towards an expanded version of my monologue Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?) in San Francisco over the next two weeks.  (The improvs — each open to a maximum of 15 audience members, so that few will be able to speak of the chaos and disaster — will be on Dec. 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. at The Jewish Theatre San Francsico; call 415.292.1233 to reserve a spot.)

Another tab holds yesterday’s article from the San Francisco Chronicle detailing brother Jake’s ongoing collaboration with Robert Reich on terrific little videos that give simple explanations of complicated policy issues.  At the same time, I keep checking my email for updates regarding an event that Jake and I are trying to put together: me interviewing Reich on stage at the Berkeley Rep in January, and filming it for use as a pilot for our new interview show, Josh Kornbluth Talks to Strangers.

There are also:

  • Word documents with in-progress contracts, a proposed budget for a possible concert film of my show The Mathematics of Change, my running diary of research and thoughts toward the Warhol piece, thoughts toward a future monologue about playing the oboe and spirituality (working title: Practice), notes from my fellow members of the Berkeley Energy Commission toward a report we’re preparing on local control of our energy production (so we can more aggressively fight global warming), and the text of President Obama’s very interesting Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
  • My RSS reader, which offers continually updating summaries of all the items on all the blogs I like to follow — DANGER! WILL SUCK UP ALL ATTENTION IF ALLOWED TO!
  • PDF documents with scenes, notes, and schedules for the Love & Taxes shoot.
  • JPEGs of possible locations for the L&T shoot.
  • A complete script, in “Final Draft” software, of L&T.
  • An audiobook, in iTunes, containing an unabridged recording of a complete history of the Jews (I just started it, but I suspect there may be some suffering).
  • A printer utility warning that I am about to run out of cyan-colored ink — which is actually okay, since (a) I will soon vaporize and thus won’t need to print anything and (b) I have no real idea what color “cyan” is, and suspect that few if any of my documents will need to be tinted cyan.

Which is just for starters, and does not take into account the books by and about Kafka, Brandeis, and other “Warhol Jews” that are staring accusingly at me from the bookcase, asking why I have not finished them yet; nor the pile of unsorted papers I brought back from my recent trips to India and Portland (guess which place was drizzlier); nor the fact that my new booking agent has been waiting a week for me to send him the technical requirements for my “smaller” shows (i.e., the cheaper ones); nor many other things that are now rolling around vaguely but impatiently in my head and working their way down to my esophagus, from whence they will eventually try to reflux their way back out into the world …

But really, the idea is to just start with something, right?  Baby steps.  Okay.  Right.

I’ll pee.  Yes, that is what I’ll do first.  I will pee.  Peeing is good.  It also involves stepping away from the computer, which will be a relief for my laptop and myself.  We both need some space.  Too much multitasking.  Too many tasks to be multi-ed.  Go back to a simpler time, when people left their front doors unlocked and movies cost under $10 and one person doing one task on one computer was the subject of worldwide awe and admiration.  That is what I will do.  And it will be nice.

My 4th Video Podcast: “Party Animal”

In experimenting with these little video podcasts, I feel I might be able to offer the viewer a sense of my daily life — only with less editing, and in greater definition than how I actually see things.  This installment is made up of footage from June 2, when — in a rare display of social-butterfly-osity — I went to two parties, on both sides of the San Francisco Bay.

First was a gathering honoring my pal Ethan Canin, one of our great writers (start, perhaps, with The Palace Thief, his collection of “long stories”).  Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was there, being mordantly witty as always (and no, I’m not going to look up “mordant” — I’m just going to assume it really means what I think it means!).  Next was what turned out to be a lovely event at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley: a “DVD release party” for the concert film of my Red Diaper Baby monologue.

The Saul’s screening was so much fun that we’re doing another one — tomorrow (Tues., July 28), actually, at 8 p.m.  This time we’ll be watching Haiku Tunnel, the narrative film that I did with my brother Jacob (and many, many other wonderful people).  Amazingly, Haiku got into Sundance and then was distributed by Sony Classics.  Now it will attain its most natural state: accompanying matzoh brie.  (There will be a $10 suggested donation, to help us make our new movie, Love & Taxes.)

Anyhow, here’s the video podcast:

Interview with Robert Reich Is Now Online!

My on-stage interview with former U.S. Labor Secretary, current Berkeley professor, and noted mensch Robert B. Reich (who will be appearing in our upcoming Love & Taxes movie) can now be seen — in all its undedited glory — on my website.

Please let me know what you think of it!

Monday’s Robert Reich Interview Is “Sold Out” …

… assuming, that is, that a free-admission event can be described as sold out.  I mean that all the seats have been accounted for.  Though if you want to take a chance, you can show up at the Ashby Stage on Monday evening: we’re going to release all the seats that haven’t been claimed at 7:15.  (The event starts at 7:30.)  If you’d like to be added to the waiting list (you’d still have to show up), just drop me an email.  Also, if you have a burning question you’d like to suggest for me to ask, you can put it in the “comments” section for this blog item.

One question you might have is, “What event are you talking about, anyhow?”  Well, it’s the first in a planned series of free get-togethers to celebrate the continuing progress of Love & Taxes, the new feature film I’m making with my brother Jake.  On Monday morning and afternoon, we’ll be filming a scene with Robert B. Reich in which he plays former I.R.S. Commissioner Sheldon S. Cohen.  (Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, these two wonderful men are well-acquainted with each other in real life.)  Then, in the evening, at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley, after Jake and I introduce a clip from our previous Love & Taxes shoot, I’ll interview Prof. Reich about pressing issues of our day — as well as love and taxes.

Jake has enlisted a terrific crew to videotape the show, and we’ll be posting that video on my website — and perhaps elsewhere as well.  Keep watching this space for more details.  (And by the way, mad props to our great friends at Shotgun Players, for making the Ashby Stage available and helping us out in their typically generous fashion!)

Me Tube

Just wanted to let you know that you can subscribe to my videos on YouTube by going here and then clicking on the yellow “Subscribe” button.

This action will release endorphins (in both of us) — and will also make it easy for you to follow my video podcasts, new clips from Love & Taxes, etc.


Please Help Us Make Our New Movie!

My brother Jacob and I — who only a few short years ago collaborated on the movie Haiku Tunnel — are now working on another film, titled Love & Taxes.  It’s a sequel, of sorts, to Haiku, since it also stars me and will have many of the wonderful people working on it who were in our first film (along with a bunch of new wonderful people).  And, like Haiku, it is based on a theatrical monologue of mine — this one done in collaboration with my theatrical director, David Dower.

Working with producer Raub Shapiro, Jake and I have already done a “test shoot” of a short sequence from the film — and if my blogging skills are up to it, you can see the resulting clip (still in “rough cut”) right here:

We’re planning to shoot this film (at least to start with) as a sequence of these “test shoots” — with our hope being that they will be of good-enough quality to make up the actual movie.  And we’re trying out a new technique of raising money and awareness for our projects — by making use of a cool new website called IndieGoGo.

It would be hecksa-fantastic if you would take a few moments to click here and go to the Love & Taxes IndieGoGo page.  There (starting in the left column) you can (if you wish) donate to the production (and get a cool “perk”!), and/or sign up as our “Friend” (which, besides helping us greatly, entitles you to see the “private” documents on our page), “endorse” us, rate our project — any way that you’d like to become part of our process.

This is an exciting (and somewhat scary) experiment to see if we can make use of the power of the Internet (and of our friends) to grow a feature film entirely from the grassroots.  If we can raise $15,000 this way, we can go ahead and do another “test shoot” — an action sequence involving tax law!  (Bet you haven’t seen that before, either!)

So if you can, please do check out our IndieGoGo page — and become an integral part of creating a cool new independent film!