Friday, March 29, 2013

The Best of the Worst Blog Spam

Nearly every day, this humble blog receives at least one comment from someone who wishes to remain Anonymous. Usually, the comments have nothing to do with a post I've written. They are what's known as blog spam, intended to direct traffic to dubious websites. 

The vast majority are written in cracked English. And while I find spam comments individually annoying, collectively they could form a slim volume of hallucinogenic haiku poetry. Here are some of the best of the worst blog spam comments I've removed from my blog in recent months. The first two are ridiculous; the last one, outrageous. 

In response to my post on A Piggly Wiggly piggy bank, a pie bird, and other Southern essentials: "One is designed to prevent herpes infection, and the other to treat herpes, so those are promising projects. capitalists would, and he wrote that "the two value model presented here most resembles Eysenck's hypothesis. Job interviews serve the purpose of the employer and the potential employee meeting for a face-to-face interaction, with the employer getting a chance to assess first hand the suitability of the candidate for the position."

A comment left for my post Why I love Tennessee Williams' stage directions -- and Elizabeth Taylor, too: "This is a powerful, biological urge. Put on a happy face. Applying a penis vitamin cream (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can help to ensure that the area has an ongoing supply of skin-rejuvenating, disease-fighting and sensation-enhancing nutrients to keep it looking and feeling healthy and sexy."

And finally, this one is my favorite. It's a comment left for my post Is Southern Hospitality a Myth? "Ground cover can be added to pedophile the landscape. And your shoes will not be tracking soil into the house. This same person spread several yards of the mulch around their house before they realized the problem, and it ruined many of their plants."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It All Began With a Marijuana Lollipop

The lollipop in my fridge
On April 12, my play Lollipops, which has a bit of fun with medical marijuana, debuts as part of an evening of short comedic plays, I'm Not OK, Cupid. The production, by Left Coast Theatre Company in San Francisco, showcases plays that depict the hilarious travails of modern romance and online hookups. Left Coast is posting interviews with the production's featured playwrights on its Facebook page. Here are the questions they asked me, followed by my answers.

LCTC: The story of Lollipops centers around a middle-aged-recent-divorcee-neo-lesbian who is trying to get back into show business. What and/or who inspired such a dynamic and conflicted character? Did the character appear out of thin air or build upon itself as you were writing?

Martin: I've known more than one middle-aged woman who, after years of what seemed like a happy marriage, suddenly found herself alone, wondering what the hell happened, why did my long-time spouse or partner leave, and where did the time go? This often creates a sense of urgency, a need to make up for lost time--now. When you have a character in this situation who also had deferred her big dream--as so many people do--the stakes are suddenly very high. Sandy, the main character in Lollipops, hears the clock ticking loudly. She wants to leave something of meaning behind, she wants a legacy. Faced with this situation, a character like Sandy makes uncharacteristic choices, which is what I find so compelling.

LCTC: Where did the idea of ‘magical lollipops’ come from? Have you ever eaten ‘magical lollipops’? How does one make ‘magical lollipops’? Do you know if Paula Dean has a ‘sugar free’ magical lollipop recipe?

Martin: I have had one magical lollipop in my life. A friend gave it to me. He has a prescription for medical marijuana, and he prefers to take in lollipop form. I'm totally in support of medical marijuana, but I just find the concept of prescription lollipops hilarious. But the idea for Lollipops came to me in Dolores Park on a sunny afternoon. I was enjoying the weather with my partner, Nick, and this young woman walked by selling "ganja lollies." I was intrigued enough to beckon her over and ask her a bunch of questions about them. Since I'd cross-examined her, I felt obliged to buy one of her lollipops. It is still in my refrigerator. For whatever reason, I don't trust it, and yet I don't want to throw it out, either. How ridiculous is that?

BTW, Paula Deen doesn't eat anything without sugar, with the possible exception of steak.

LCTC: Your last play, The Buck Naked Church of Truth, really played into the world of San Francisco politics. Do you want Lollipops to have a similar message or voice? What was your motivation and drive behind this piece?

Martin: Whenever I write a play, I want to leave the audience with something more than just a pleasant experience. I want them to discuss their reactions to the play with whomever they see it. With The Buck Naked Church of Truth, I wanted the audience to figure out where they stood on the issue of public nudity in SF. Were they for or against it, and why? Lollipops is less political and timely and much more personal, for me. Yes, it touches on medical marijuana, but in a farcical way. What I would like the audience to think about after this play is: What dreams have they deferred? Have they given up too much for their long-term spouse or partner? And what would they do if they were suddenly free to start all over again in mid life?


I'm Not OK, Cupid runs April 12 through May 4 at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $20 online at Brown Paper Tickets. Nick and I will be there opening night, April 12.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Runaway Resident of the Memory Care Facility

Nearly every time I walk into the Alzheimer's facility in Greensboro, I see her sitting in the community area. Her reddish hair is hard to miss. But what truly sets Hazel apart is her warm smile and her playfully pointing finger.

That's her way of saying hello, pointing at me repeatedly. The pointing eventually becomes a beckoning, her hands clutching the air, aimed toward me. Even though I'm on my way to my mother's room, I can't resist Hazel. I go to her, lean down, and hug her. I know nothing about this woman, nor does she know me, but her embrace is as tight as mine.

Her eyes are wide, joyful. I wonder if she's always been such a happy person? I'm no expert on the subject, but I've come to believe dementia can make the elderly both more of who they were and less of who they are.

I ask Hazel if she's been behaving herself. "Oh no," she says, shaking her head. This is something else I've learned about Alzheimer's sufferers: They often love being asked this question. Maybe it makes them feel like they're still capable of mischief, which means they're still a force to be reckoned with.

And they can be. Just a few days before I arrived, I received an email blast sent to those with family at the facility. The message said that "a resident has again found out the door code" needed to exit the building.

"We believe the resident had figured out to look in the back of the visitor's log and was able to peek at it while assisting some other residents out of the front door for an outing." From now on, the memo continued, the exit code will no longer be written in the back of the visitor's logbook. The message gave the new code, with the implication that you'll have to keep it handy or remember it. I must admit, I love the irony of needing to remember a code to exit a memory care facility.

Back to Hazel. As we talk, her hands grab mine and hold on, firmly. I think she's even flirting with me, so I flirt back. We are adoring each other, laughing and talking. And then, her tone grows quieter, her smile fades, a desperation comes into in her eyes.

"Can you take me home?" she asks. "Please?"

Entrance to the memory-care facility
I've been asked this before where my mother lives--sometimes, my mother is the one asking. It always destabilizes me, like a mild earthquake. For a second, I don't have a response. My mind flashes back to the runaway resident I read about in the email. Was it Hazel? It could have been. It could have been just about any of the residents, except perhaps for those I always see slumped in chairs or staring blankly ahead.

The truth is, Hazel is home. I won't tell her that, however. I know that at this stage of her life, the truth is as meaningless as a lie. But the truth continues to sting; the lie offers fleeting hope.

I hug Hazel once more and tell her I'll be happy to take her home, but I must first visit my mother. Her smile returns, though not as brightly as before. Perhaps she knows, intuitively, that although where she is may not be home, it's where she must be.