Friday, November 09, 2007

I am in South Orange, New Jersey. Tonight I am doing my show, “Letting Go of God.” I am really excited to be here, and the space is fantastic. We have a big audience for tonight and I am thrilled. I had two shows scheduled for Connecticut, but they were cancelled. I guess they hadn’t sold very many tickets. Like almost none. Which I have been mulling over whether to talk about in my blog. People have been emailing me and asking if anything was wrong, like a personal emergency or something. I could make up a big story about some catastrophe, but I am the worst liar. I can keep it up for like ten minutes and then I am too lazy to keep the lie going and I spill the beans sometime when I least expect it. That is my pledge of honesty, I am honest because I am too lazy to lie! Ha. I never thought about it that way before. In any case, one of the two shows, the one in Ridgefield, Connecticut has been rescheduled for June 1, 2008. I’m not sure why I sold so many tickets in New Jersey and not very many in Connecticut. I noticed that they were billing me as “The Comedy Of Julia Sweeney” on one of the sites, which I should have corrected. On the other hand, maybe they were too weirded out saying, “Letting Go of God.” Wow, if someone came to hear the comedy of some vaguely familiar commedienne and ended up, instead, watching me perform my two hour days-journey-into-night about science and religion, I think they would be very surprised. I should be more on top of that. Anyhoo – I am trying to be. I am so sorry for anyone who bought tickets to those shows. There are so few of you I could have probably called you individually, but I am not going to. In any case, I will be in Connecticut, and in June, a wonderful time to be there. I am already planning on bringing Mulan with me, which will be less stressful in one way and more stressful in another. I am going to be part of this big Science Convention (it’s so big, it gets capital letters!) in New York City in late May, and I’m doing my show, “Letting Go of God” there as part of it, so it seemed like a good time to do the Connecticut show. Also, that leaves enough time for us to really promote it well. I am also doing “Letting Go of God” in Portland, Oregon on May 28th, part of a one-person-show festival or something, but I have to get the information specifics for that one, so stay posted.

I have a new performing philosophy for this coming year, so I don’t get caught up in lots of random shows here and there which make my life constantly chaotic. And my new philosophy is this: outside of a few performances I already have scheduled, I will only make dates to perform “Letting Go of God” around the time I am doing the show in Iowa City on Oct. 25, 2008 up to two weeks of shows. This will get posted on my website, but if you or someone you know wants to book “Letting Go of God” into a mid-sized theater, call or have them call my booker for this type of thing: Brian Swanson at Monterey International, 821-625-6300. I’ll have all this up on the website too.

So that means, I have two “Letting Go of God” performing times in 2008, a week at the end of May to June 1, and then probably or maybe a week or so surrounding the Oct. 25th date in Iowa. And then I can plan the rest of my year accordingly. Whew. I feel so organized!!!!!! Before I felt like I was a bit of lint flitting up and back on the winds of sometimes doing the show and sometimes not, and now I know what I’m willing and want to do. This is fantastic. If I could just apply this attitude towards my house and the book I am trying to write, and then extend it towards my house and my daughter and my fiancé, everything will be perfect.

The show with Jill Sobule on Tuesday night at Largo went really well. I mean, some of my stories thudded but overall, I had a good time and I think the audience did too. God, it is so fantastic to be onstage with a band. I mean, it is just… peak life experience time – people! Jill and I are thinking we will develop the show further and maybe open in a more regular way in February. Possibly. On Wednesday this week, (the day after our second Largo show) Jill and I are getting some headshots together for a CD we are working on and also I’ll get new headshots for my website. Right now I have the brunette me on there, when in real life I am the gray me. I had let my hair go “natural” before and then I thought maybe I was aging myself so I dyed my hair brown and not only did nothing different happen for me, casting wise, I really began to realize how expensive it was to have that hair color and I didn’t even really think it looked all that good on me. Then Michael (fiancé – boyfriend, life partner) said he liked my hair gray better. And it was like I got a get-out-of-jail-free card! What a dream-man he is!!!! So, I am back. And I am changing the way I spell gray too – gray with an “a” seems sad to me, when grey with an “e” seems lively and upbeat and REALISTIC about life. So, I am grey. Grey, grey, grey. And soon my picture will be more accurate.

On the plane ride here I read Katha Pollitt’s book, “Learning To Drive and Other Life Stories.” It is fantastic. I mean, it’s really good. I made a fool of myself laughing on the plane. People turned around to look at me, I was laughing so hard. And it’s so poignant too, oh you’ve just got to read it. In her story, “I Let Myself Go” she wrote something that is apropos to my hair color wishy-washy-ness.
She writes, “When I was married I didn’t pay much attention to my looks and when I got divorced I paid even less. I wore my favorite gray T-shirt until you could see through it, like a spider web. You might say I trusted in my powers of conversation to charm and beguile, like a man, or you might say I abandoned the field completely rather than engage in a degrading beauty contest that I felt sure to lose. I would picture T.S. Eliot living like a monk in that rectory, forty-five going on sixty, and it seemed like a sensible choice, to give up intentionally what you are going to be forced to relinquish anyway and to move on to the next stage, some Zennish way of being, but with meat. And yet, I would rage at the way women were sidelined sexually as they got older. T.S. Eliot got a second wind and married his secretary. Why couldn’t America be like France, where older women are seen as attractive, like Charlotte Rampling in Under the Sand? Maybe the difference isn’t the men but the women, my boyfriend said, dryly. Maybe Frenchwomen make more of an effort. Yes, I thought bitterly, they probably do. The slaves.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. There is so much to love in that one paragraph! “…but with meat.” That made me laugh out loud, real loud. And then “…the slaves.” God she is so brilliant! This is going to be my Christmas gift this year, this book and also “The World Without Us.”

Katha Pollitt gave a speech at the Freedom From Religion Foundation conference that I attended in Madison in October. She gave a wonderful speech. And she mentioned something about how religion gives people this worldview, this permission maybe, or this reasonable opinion to believe that each and every one of their small decisions in life has great moral implications. It makes the most mundane things seem significant, it infuses this God who is watching each and every moment and into each and every decision we make. And the truth is that our individual decisions are probably not that important. But if you are a believer, you can believe that they are. Or something like that. Anyway, I was so blown away by that comment. Of course, that is true! Yes, it is so true. The narcissism that you can indulge in as a believer, but it’s so seductive too and it’s so sad to me, of course we all want to think that our choices and challenges are all significant, but really – the hard truth is – they probably aren’t on any bigger scale, not even on an individual life’s scale.

What else is new? Oh yes, a new website for me is being discussed. No more flash. That’s what we’re talking about. Simple. Not-flash. Grey haired Julia. Clear performing schedules. Okay…

Now I am going to go eat lunch and then take a small nap and then run the entire show before the show tonight.

Friday, October 26, 2007

All I can say this morning is this: I should not watch “30 Rock” alone anymore. It’s too funny, too disturbing, too nightmarish, too smart for me to watch and not have someone there to make sure that I don’t slide down a rabbit hole afterwards. Tina Fey is so brilliant, Alec Baldwin is so damn hilarious, and it’s way WAY too real for me. It reminds me of my years at SNL and it reminds me that I’m older and not there or anywhere near the center of anything like that and probably never will be and it fills me with regret and dread and delight and relief! It’s a marathon of emotion for me just to watch the show and this week’s episode features Carrie Fisher as an older comedy writer and her character is so pathetic and familiar and I can’t believe she did that part and of course she did that part because it’s so real and true and funny and awful. Oh god. I was up half the night thinking about that show. And I drank two glasses of wine. I wrote a rambling email to my girlfriends from Spokane. Oh god.

I am going to put this up on my website, but I thought I would toss it out here first: Jill Sobule and I are doing two shows at Largo in November, on Nov. 6th and 13th. And we are going to make them have a quasi-Christmas theme and record them and put them out on CD and on audible by Christmas time. Jill has a few wonderful Christmas songs and I am going to try to think of some Christmas stories too. I’ll probably talk about Mulan and Santa Claus and Christmas Mass and the baby Jesus. I don’t know yet, but we usually have a lot of fun doing those shows at Largo.

Also, I am about to revamp my website. Probably in the next two months. It’s going to be more like a house, or rather, have a house type of theme. I have ideas, people!

I am also watching Mad Men and loving it. There is a lot of good TV on these days. My other new favorite show is a BBC show called, “How Clean Is Your House.” Oh god, it is really funny and interesting.

I just did my show, “Letting Go of God” in Seattle – or to be more specific, in Bothell last weekend. It was really fun. I sort of remembered how much I love doing this show. I have three shows scheduled for early November in Connecticut and New Jersey and then I just booked another show in Park City, Utah on Dec. 1st. I am thinking that I will let my booker book me to do about 15 shows a year of Letting Go. As far as the movie goes, I’m not sure what is happening yet. I am waiting to find out about if it gets into Sundance before I make any decisions. But I am sort of attracted to releasing the movie myself, more expansive, but somewhat like I released the CD, which has done well and it’s really fun that the internet makes this all possible, unlike when I had to release “God Said Ha!” through a distributor ten years ago.

Okay, I have to go get Mulan up for school. It’s Friday and I am not getting on a plane today and that is good news. Last Friday was so frantic and hysterical – we were flying to Seattle after Mulan got out of school and I had so much to get done before we left, I was running around and behind with everything all day. We rushed to the airport with all my stuff – the computers I need to do the show, Cds, even Christmas presents for my nieces who we were staying with in Seattle. And I handed our tickets to the person at the airline desk and he said, “These tickets are from Burbank.” I had driven to the wrong airport! Oh my god, I am losing my mind. Fortunately they rebooked us from LAX, but I have been marveling at my lack of togetherness ever since. I want to write a book called, “Slow Down” and last Friday’s craziness will be the first chapter.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Sept. 15, 2007

It’s Saturday morning and Mulan is still asleep. Yeah! My theory is that the reason kids sleep more hours than adults is that the ones who didn’t were…well, basically killed off my annoyed parents before they could reproduce themselves – and over the eons children who slept longer… lived. And then reproduced, making more kids who slept longer than their parents. My favorite part of this cock-eyed theory is teaching Mulan about evolution using this example. Ha. Okay, before you write in, I don’t really do that. At any rate, this is truly the sacred time of day – actually of the week -- because I don’t have to harangue Mulan to get up for school.

I am also happy because yesterday I turned in my outline for the TV pilot I’m writing. This is only step one, I turned it in to the producer I’m working with and not even the studio, so it’s just a small first step on this project, but still, I feel good. In any case, I cannot go forward until I get notes from my producer so that makes me free, free, free!… – to confront all the other things I have to do in the meantime. The schedule really worked – me turning off the phone and the Internet, not playing music, having three or four full hours to concentrate. Next week I will attack the book. Oh people, you have no idea how this book – GAWD, ARGH, MNNNPH! ERRRRRGH. I am giving myself two months to see if I can pull this book together – just see if I have the potential to pull this book together, just to feel positive that this book is potentially able to be born. I have hundreds of pages sitting around, most of it junk, old notes from a previous editor, my notes in various notebooks, a zillion disorganized entries on my computer. If I were killed today and someone went through my stuff they would think I was insane. I am leaving the door open to junk it altogether, to just move on. But my schedule is so-far purposefully clear in order to do this. I mean, aside from everything else. Like, finishing the pilot, doing ten shows, parenting, organizing my pen drawer (which screams to me to be organized like a hopeful child drowning whenever I write – my closet needs desperately to be organized too when I write, especially my shoes – each shoe sobs at the placement it’s been forced to take and they all cry out, mouths open, like little fishes at the top of a fish tank who are starving: “Organize me! Organize me!” This is the soundtrack that plays in the background when I am trying to write something… something… big.)

Okay, what is more tedious than reading out someone else’s struggle to write? Nothing, my friends. And so for now, I will stop.

I don’t know what I have to say this week. The highlight of my week was Thursday night when I took Mulan to the Hollywood Bowl to see the L.A. Philharmonic. I was going to be going with Jill Sobule, I had a babysitter and everything, and then Jill found out from her manager that she was flying out for a gig, to Wisconsin, a day earlier than she thought she was and she had to cancel. It was sort of last minute, so I called off the babysitter and took Mulan. We packed a haphazard picnic: leftover Pad Thai in a thermos, two apples and a hunk of parmesan, two diet Dr. Pepper’s, carrots and hummus. I thought she would start complaining as soon as the music started, but she did not, she was mesmerized and she remembered meeting the harpist last year when I did my thing at the Hollywood Bowl, and the instruments seemed much more individual to her than they had in the past. We watched this amazing cellist Lynn Harrell play a cello concerto by Dvorak. He is older, white hair and beard, and he played with such mastery, his fingers were so deft, we were both so caught up in the sound and his hand movements over the cello, like a ballerina at her peak dancing on a familiar wood floor. I said to Mulan, “That takes a lifetime of concentration to play like that, that is a lifetime of practice, that is what mastery is.” Of course she just liked the sound, and being outside, and sitting next to me, and eating while she listened - but for me, after spending a week really struggling to write and then spitting out some very small outline, to watch someone show the culmination of their life’s work like Lynn Harrell did for us, what must be a zillion hours of applied direction and refinement of skill, it was inspiring. Exhilarating, actually.

Then, I made us leave at the intermission. Mulan protested but it was a school night and we had to go.

What else happened this week? I saw, “No End In Site” – a documentary about the war in Iraq and the bungling of the reconstruction. I recommend it. Everyone should see it. It was so deeply upsetting, for obvious reasons. I am so hopeful that this country can withstand what it’s done to itself, what we have done to ourselves, what we have done to this world. Lately I’ve been thinking of us, the U.S., like an organism, a unified living being, and we have a virus – or maybe this is better: a cancer growing inside of us, and it’s partly back luck, but mostly it’s because we were doing unhealthy things with our body, we weren’t taking care, we weren’t restraining ourselves when we should have, we partied too long, we smoked and drank, we participated in dangerous sports, we didn’t exercise and eat our vegetables, we got no roughage at all and then we were terribly unlucky to boot. And now here we are with this cancer. Will it kill us? Do we have the stamina and strength to survive the chemo that we need to douse ourselves with to get rid of it? Or can we live with the cancer? I mean lots of organisms live a long time with cancer. Not forever. Not as long as they might have.

Okay, I’m running that analogy into the ground now, but that is how I am thinking of this administration and what we have done and what it will take to make ourselves healthy again.

Maybe I’m thinking this way because I just finished, “The World Without Us” – this wonderful book by Alan Weisman. Go to www. and just watch the opening animation – it is awesome! Anyway, the book is a thought experiment – about what would happen to our world if people were suddenly gone from it, just exactly how “nature” would recover or forget about us – I say “nature” in quotes because of course we are nature. I am always saying to people, “You don’t go out into nature, you are nature!”

But anyway, it’s very disturbing, this book. I downloaded it on audible, and I’ve listened to it twice – then I bought the actual book – that’s how much I loved it. I find it frightening, as frightening as anything I’ve read, and at the same time I find it – well, spiritual. That’s the only word I can come up with right now. And it’s causing me to look at my house in this new way. The book starts with the author getting you to think about how much effort you currently take to just keep “nature” out of your own dwelling place. How much it wants in: water leaks, etc. It quotes someone saying, “Do you know how to tear down a barn? Cut an 18 inch square hole in the roof and then just stand back.” Anyway, there is a small little green something – a vine – or really a green shoot of something growing and it’s coming out near my dishwasher, on the floor, from under my house! And normally I would just pull something like that immediately – and I will, today probably. But for this week, I just left it there – this little reminder to myself when I empty the dishwasher that nature is all around, creeping in, wanting into my house, getting into my house, and eventually it will win – or maybe I will lose or whatever way you want to look at it – in the long run, those green shoots will have the upper hand.

Get this book! It is so awesome.

Wow. Mulan is still asleep. What’s up with that? It’s after eight. Tonight I think I am going to take her to the L.A. County Art Museum to see “South Pacific.” She loves “The Sound of Music” so much, so I started telling her all about Rodgers and Hammerstein. Last night, which we did not attend, they showed “Carousel” – it’s a Rodgers and Hammerstein extravaganza there at the museum apparently. Did you know that Nora Ephron’s mother wrote the script for it? For “Carousel,” the movie version? I did not know that until yesterday.

Mulan told me she wants to have seven children and name them all the same names as the children in “The Sound Of Music” (Brigitta, Louisa, Kurt, Gretle, Frederich, Marta, etc.) but then she won’t let them see the “Sound of Music” because then they would know they were named after some people in a movie. I think that’s so funny because everywhere we go, people say to Mulan, “Oh Mulan, like after the movie?” And Mulan is always so annoyed by that. Maybe she thinks you have to have this burden of being named after a character in a movie and then hate it your whole life and this is her way of protecting her own imagined kids from it. Anyway, that made me laugh.

“South Pacific” was the very first play I was in. I was in the chorus of my high school production. I sang, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” and my little brother, Jim, who is ten years younger than me, played a “native” boy and we slathered him with dark make up all over his body and he walked around the stage – god that was so funny.

Okay, this is a very chattery blog entry. Time to start the day. Laundry. Cooking. Food shopping. Exercise. Not in that order.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Morning September 8, 2007

Well, last night Mulan had her best friend sleep over and they are still asleep. I am up, I actually got up at 5:30 and couldn’t sleep another wink. I have coffee made, and NPR on, and the dishwasher is filled and the kitchen counters wiped down. This is my favorite time of the day. I often think that after about noon, it’s all just downhill for me. This has been difficult as I often work in a late night world: SNL, comedy clubs, nightclubs, theatre. It’s all against my natural inclinations. Even when I was on SNL I still got up early in the morning, even when I’d gone to bed early in the morning. Then I would take a nap later. Oh… a nap. I might be able to take a nap today. Sweet.

The highlight of this week was on Wednesday night when I attended a small dinner party in honor of Phyllis Diller and her recent 90th birthday milestone. It was at an opulent house is Beverly Hills and I would say there were about 25 to 30 people there for dinner. She was delightful: funny and articulate. Of course I love that she seems to love me so much, because I am a big fan of hers. She has been an outspoken atheist for…EVER. She was an outspoken atheist when you could have your name put on lists for it and you could be watched by the CIA for it. When I got to the party, she immediately sat me beside her and held my hand and told me how much bunk religion is and how could anyone for even one second take it seriously? Of course I agree and disagree. It’s true, that once I looked into the myths that religion is based on, and looked objectively at the architecture of religion, it was obvious that it was bunk. But I also understand that if you are raised to rely on religion, and it’s worked for you to reduce stress or make sense of the world, and the rituals have some positive associations, and don’t look into it deeply, it’s easy to see why people believe. In any case, I was flattered and thrilled to be with Phyllis and her friends. She was bawdy and funny and loved being the center of all the attention and love.

Bernie Brillstein was there and we had a nice conversation about SNL and Lorne Michaels. He was so sweet and gracious to me and I really appreciated it. Tommy Smothers was there as well as Betty White. It was wild to be with them. I have met the Smothers brothers many times, and last summer did a show at the Hollywood Bowl with them. I think a lot of people think of the Smothers Bros. and maybe even Phyllis Diller as kind of hokey, but to me they are heroes. When I was a kid, the Smothers Brothers were doing really edgy counter-culture stuff and it eventually led to their show’s cancellation. The Smothers Brothers Show was the first time I was aware of artists in conflict with a network, and particularly over political material. Tommy got up and toasted Phyllis and told stories about being backstage at the Purple Onion, a club they performed at in San Francisco. He had a funny bit about Phyllis being inadvertently naked backstage and it reminded me of Kathy Griffin being naked backstage at the Groundlings.

Other than that highlight, this week has been relatively calm. I am on a new writing schedule where, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I turn off the phone, refuse to answer the call of the Internet connection, and I write. I am writing a pilot for Sony and I have to deliver an outline by next Friday. So far this method has proved successful. It might not seem like much time, three hours, but it is a Herculean effort to stay focused for that amount of time for me. If I can keep this up and keep those hours sacred, I think I can accomplish a lot. My aim is to write this pilot and then finish my “Beautiful Loss Of Faith Story” book which has been dogging me for years.

Wow, now it’s almost seven and the girls are still asleep. Do I organize my bathroom or my closet? It may seem silly, but I am giddy at the thought that I have that autonomy at this moment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Okay, here’s my stab at getting back to blogging. It’s early morning and it’s Mulan’s first day of second grade today. She is nervous and excited about it. I am not nervous, but REALLY EXCITED. Oh, this was a long summer. Oh, I really know now what parents feel like when school starts. Oh, oh, oh, do I need school to start. Yes, yes, I do. It will be hard not to go buy a bottle of champagne on the way home.

We went away on vacation for over a month – nearly five weeks. It was fun, it was interesting, it was somewhat educational and enlightening for Mulan, and it wiped me out like never before. What was I thinking? How did I think this trip was going to be restful? But, in any case, it had great moments and now I am remembering those more than I am remembering all the waiting in airports and the whining and all of that. We went to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, Seattle, Spokane, N. Idaho to a lake cabin with my family, then to England – to Manchester and then London – and then to Morocco, to Marrakesh, Essaouira (the best part of the trip was there, in my opinion) and in the Atlas mountains for a few nights at a little hotel made for adults to rest and chill and I had a child who wanted to do cartwheels and jump in the pool and do it all with me every minute non-stop.

I think the best part of the trip, for me, was the last five days since we’ve been back in the country. We headed to Chicago first, where my fiancé lives (wow, it’s still so weird to say that) and since we were on European time we were up and wandering around his house at four in the morning. So we all drove to the beach on Lake Michigan and watched the sun come up. Then, Mulan and I headed back here to L.A. and we have been getting up every morning around five fifteen and going to Runyon Canyon while it’s still dark and there are stars out, and then watching the city light up as we ascend the hill. Our dog, Arden, is in heaven with this turn of events. In fact, right now, since it is the very time we have been doing these sojourns, he is sitting at my feet, whimpering and gazing out the door, because he must think it’s time to go, go, go to Runyon Canyon.

But I let Mulan sleep this morning since it’s the first day of school. Oh! The first day of school! Oh Dear Lord In Heaven Who Isn’t There: Thank you! Thank You! I bow down before you in praise and thanks for Sept. 5th to arrive! I sing glad tidings and offer gifts of thanks that the time this time of the year has come!!!

So. I drop Mulan off at school today and immediately go the post-production house to watch the final-final cut of the movie. Before I left we basically finished everything but the end credits. And now we are watching the whole movie. And then, it is DONE.

I don’t know what the future of the movie will be. We are submitting it to Sundance, and in the meantime we will be conferring with representatives and so forth about what is possible to do. I will keep you posted.

Also, at some point today or tomorrow, I will post the performances I have scheduled for the fall. I’m in Chicago in October, Bothell, Washington in October, and New Jersey and Connecticut in November. Also, Jill Sobule and I are doing shows here in L.A. at Largo in November, and we are going to put our song on our websites soon, very soon.

So, even though this isn’t much of a post, I thought I would start the SCHOOL YEAR OFF, with a blog/forum entry. Oh! It’s so lovely to write that: The School Year Begins! Oh! Oh! Oh!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I haven’t blogged for a while and I am too tired to really write something tonight. But I wanted to say just this: I think my thirties were all about feeling so powerful and so capable and so invincible. My thirties were about seeing other people’s faults and weaknesses mostly and feeling slightly victimized by my own lack of power, because of course I deserved so much power!

And my forties. Well, I am forty seven, so it’s not totally over – the forties. But my forties are all about feeling so small and so barely capable and very, very not-invincible. And my forties are about seeing – well, I don’t want to say “weaknesses” because that will appear to be begging a compliment, and I am not saying that. I mean, my forties are about seeing my own limitations and my astonishment at the amount of power I do have ( for example, someone handed me a child and I appear to be in charge of her…) and my slow but building realization that I am partly faking it so that no will realize that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.


We had our first screening of “Letting Go of God” today. I have no idea how it is. I will not even venture to guess. But we got notes, good notes, from people who know about such things, and we are editing away.

Also, I am getting married. Next year. February. Not in a church, of course. Fortunately my fiancé does not require a clean house or even a swept floor. Just sparkling conversation. And jeez! I can do that!

See, I can do some things!

Only not just now. Now, I must sleep so we can continue with our endeavor tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Well, today I spent most of the day editing with Tony. This is very enjoyable. I mean, I have to say I really, really love it. The film is coming together and even though there will be a few possibly jarring cuts from this to that – necessitated by my own flubbing a line, or a camera operator’s camera becoming momentarily out of focus (mostly my fault since I often jump up and move without notice) I think the film is going to be professional and representative and maybe, even possibly GOOD. I am relieved. I will be proud… I think. I mean, I still haven’t finished the editing and I still haven’t mixed the sound and music and there’s so far to go before it’s really what it needs to be. But I am optimistic. My jaw line may not be as sharp as it once was, but this film will be as sharp as – well as is possible under the circumstances, and that is good enough for me.

I don’t have much to say tonight except I wanted to respond to a post by a Mule Skinner on my blogspot. (I copy my blog onto the blogspot and the forum and I read every single response.) Anyway, Mule Skinner is not a fan of mine, and that is TOTALLY FINE. I am happy this person wrote. She/he or whoever wrote rather nastily. Later, another poster noted that this person did not really identify himself or herself and chastised them for it. Personally I think it’s good that someone can write to me without identifying themselves. That makes it more honest, I think. Anyway, I just wanted to respond. But first let me repost what Mule says and answer as I see fit.

Anyway, he mule skinner said...
I saw "God said Ha!" live, in Los Angeles, in 1996. In that, Julia makes several loving references to a nun for whom she reserves no small amount of admiration, and says lots of nasty things about Pope John Paul II as well as the Catholic Church._

My response: I do, in that monologue, make a few references to Sister Antonella, a nun who taught me at Mary Cliff High School and who taught English Literature. I liked her a lot and she became a sort of friend. I mention her in “Letting Go of God” as well. I don’t say a lot of nasty things about Pope John Paul II as I recall. I do say I didn’t like him and that when I bought his book I was embarrassed and felt I had to get a book to put on top of it and underneath it when I was buying it, as if it were pornography. I say (in that monologue) that I need to keep up on what the Pope is saying so I can refute him. My thoughts about this now are: who would have thought that John Paul II was going to be the liberal Pope compared with who followed him!!!?!!! Ha. That makes me laugh. Cardinal Ratzinger is SO much worse, in my opinion than John Paul II. I don’t remember saying lots of nasty things about the Catholic Church in that monologue. I have a lot more nasty things to say now. But I do remember telling the story of going to see “Nunsense” and being offended at how nuns were portrayed like cartoons in that show. And that this is not my experience of nuns. I don’t know, I think that’s defending Catholicism. But maybe for you, Mule, defending nuns does not equal defending Catholicism. In any case, it’s all moot because I have so many more beefs with the Catholic church now than I had then. Anyhoo – let’s read Mule’s post further:

Mule writes:

The essential problem with this schtick is the fact that God looms large in the life of every atheist. God means more to Julia than to the average believer, and is constantly on her mind._

My response:

Yes, this may be true. And that – as I believe another poster pointed out, is because I was hoodwinked for so many years. When you take on a worldview the way religion has you believe it, and then discard it, it’s hard NOT to have it dominate your thoughts for some time. And that is true for me. Also, even if this wasn’t the case, because our current President is so religious and so much has been legislated and done in the name of religion in the last six or seven years, it makes me livid as a citizen. I wouldn’t say that God looms large, but me seeing the negative effects of belief in God looms large for me. It’s impossible for it not to. On the other hand, I feel I am over God. If I weren’t doing this show and I weren’t living in a country where religion dominates and contributes to so much catastrophe and stupidity, I don’t think I would be thinking about God at all.

Mule writes:

_Another problem is the fact that it is just not funny. God Said Ha! wasn't funny. Pat wasn't funny. It was excrutiating.__

My response: Well, humor is definitely in the mind of the beholder. I don’t know how to respond to that except to say that enough people were laughing to keep the show open and ticket sales were steady enough that it encouraged me to keep doing it. On the other hand – it’s true, in a city as big as Los Angeles, if there were a monologue about cat mutilation, there might be enough people around who wanted to see that, and it may have a long run. So, a long run is probably not a good indicator of funny. In any case, I accept that you didn’t think my shows were funny. In the case of the Pat movie, you have a large group of people on your side. I thought Pat was funny, but the movie was a big bomb. So, touché.

Mule writes: All of the 'jokes' are crafted to appeal to a microscopic segment of America, that being the Hyperion Avenue, 90026, 90027 zip codes. And no one else. __

My response: Wow! Why didn’t I open my show in that zip code? I had no idea! I don’t even know those zip codes, but I feel should be advertising my film there.

Mule writes:

Without politicking this demographic, Julia would likely still be stealing money from the bar she was working at, rather than from network television.__Like "It's Pat!" this latest effort wil fall as flat as a tarantula on a baby's face.

My response: Well, I seriously doubt I would still be bartending like I was twenty five years ago, but… I don’t know. Wait, so what you are saying is that I have been politicking this demographic for success? Does that include SNL? What about the other TV work? Voice overs? If you are talking about a larger city indie-type demographic, I have earned diddly from that. Most of the money I’ve earned has come from much more mainstream endeavors that you, Mule, would probably approve of. And as far as stealing money from the bar goes, Mule is speaking of a story I told on This American Life where I talked about skimming money from the bar when I was 22 and 23. I regret doing that. It was completely wrong. I told the story because I was interested in how I, as a person who considered myself to be very upstanding and moral, could have let myself justify such behavior. It’s embarrassing and still embarrasses me. But that’s why I wanted to talk about it. Not only that, in that time of my life, the Catholic church played a small part in it. I do not blame my Catholicism for this behavior, I assure you. But I had a twisted view of what opportunity meant – as I discuss in more detail in the This American Life episode. So you could say that Catholicism, in a way, was a character in that story. This is a longer discussion, but I do not think I would still be skimming dollars off at a bar 25 years later. I really don’t.

And now for Mule’s analogy that my film’s reception will be like that of a tarantula falling flat on a baby’s face. Where did you get that? I have not heard this before. Did you make that up? It’s kind of good. Is my film the tarantula? Is the movie-consuming public the baby’s face? I don’t see that this means: bomb.

But aside from that. Yes, maybe this film will fall flat. I have no idea. I feel just so glad that it’s finally a film at all, after all this time. And now I can begin to stop performing it, because I am getting so tired.

And on that note, I retire for the night….

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I am immersed in editing my movie of “Letting Go of God.” I am working at home, with a guy named Tony, and we are spending many hours a day going through footage and assembling a rough cut of the film. And so, most of my thoughts have to do with this.

And frankly, this process is not all that interesting unless you are the person editing it. For me, it is very interesting because I feel like five years of work is finally assembling itself in an interesting way. And this is my very favorite part of the process. I like this part more than pre-production and much more than shooting. This is like you are a knitter and you finally have the yarn and the pattern and the knitting needles and now you are just joyfully knitting away.

Since I am the actress in the film, I don’t know what a lot of the footage looks like and I’m seeing it for the very first time. And there are, ahem… surprises.

For example, I have learned that at some point in the last four years I turned into my aunt Barbara. And I had absolutely no idea until I started editing my film.

Oh my god.

I am my aunt Barbara.

Fortunately I loved my aunt Barbara. She did die when she was 56, she pointedly drank herself to death, and that was very sad for all of us that were trying to stop her. And she did it in a very Leaving Las Vegas-y kind of way – canceling her health insurance, going to the store and buying a shopping cart full of booze, coming home and turning on the TV, and waiting. And soon it was all over.

So, okay, it didn’t end well for her. But aunt Barbara was just… great. She was funny and laughed a lot and she was smart and so caring about us kids.

I normally think I look more like my aunt Bonnie – who I think is very pretty and also, she is still very much in my life.

But no, I don’t look so much like aunt Bonnie. It’s aunt Barbara – I’m definitely aunt Barbara. And then there are all the Chicago aunts – aunt Barbara’s aunts. And all of them, their faces did this thing – when they hit their mid-to-late-forties, their faces did this thing – where they went from mostly oval to mostly square. All of them. How did I think I was going to escape this inevitability?

I guess if I was going to nail it down, I had this vague idea that I were going to age like Audrey Hepburn did. I think this must be related to the idea I had at age eleven that I would get older and look like Cher.

And then there’s my mouth. I don’t have my mother’s mouth. I have my mother’s mother’s mouth. My grandmother, Marie – it’s right there for me to remember and identify it. Every time I make an “r” sound – Grandma Ivers is living on.

You know, you don’t look at yourself all that much. I mean, unless you are a crazed narcissist who spends the day gazing into the mirror, you don’t really spend all that much time looking at yourself. A few minutes in the morning, a few more minutes mid-day maybe. You spend a lot more time looking at other people, especially those that you live with and those you hang out with. It struck me just recently and with some profundity that the average person doesn’t really know what they look like day in and day out like their loved ones do.

So here I am, spending some weeks in a dark room looking at a screen of MYSELF. Oh gawd. When I edited “God Said Ha!” which was at a post-production house and not at home (like you can do now with Final Studio 2 which seems to be working seamlessly,)I drove home every night for the first two weeks in tears. I remember it well, because the tears would start about a mile from where I was working, just as I turned onto the 101 Freeway and headed the next few miles home. I usually had recovered myself by the time I arrived to my house. You see, I liked the performance in “God Said Ha!” but I just hated the way I looked.

Now, when I see God Said Ha! (which I had to do as I prepared for this current shoot) I think I look fine – good even. Possibly great. I am WISTFUL over how I looked then. I guess some part of me knows that eventually I will feel that way about this movie too – but oh! People! Imagine if you had to spend hours at a time just looking at yourself! It’s a Zen exercise in self-acceptance. And also, sort of a nightmare. But I have to admit… interesting. Like I suddenly realize, “Oh, when I move my arm like this, it looks like that. And then I turn my head just this way, why it looks like that. And oh -- so this is what other people look at when they look at me, oh, oh, oh!” And then all the insecurity, resignation, rallying self esteem kicks in and finally I become just an object, a dissociated-from-me-object that is the focus of a film and I editing it together, stitch stitch, stitch.

My friend Kathy Griffin says you can get yourself stretched. Yes, on screen. The digital age – you know. Maybe I’ll try it. Just a wee little teensy 5% stretch. No, maybe 7.5%. I may look like a giraffe by the time I’m done.

The set for the film is filled with furniture from my living room and also books and objects from around my house. And I felt so… well – I’ll say it, at “home” on stage. But now that I look at it, it all looks so fussy. And old-ladyish. My shock at having become aunt Barbara is exacerbated by the fact that I inherited many of Aunt Barbara’s (and my Grandmother Henrietta’s) things and those are the very things are on the set. Like I have an old religious triptych of the Madonna and child that has been in our family for over 100 years, a large Mexican rosary that hung above my grandmother’s bed, a painting of a young woman in a bonnet that was in their living room. When I inherited those objects, I put them up and around my house in “honor” of my beloved, now dead relatives. What I thought was in respect of them, turned out to be something much darker. Because, you see, I DIDN’T REALIZE I WAS TURNING INTO THEM! Oh jeez.

It makes me want to sell my house and all my belongings and buy a very contemporary house that is stark and clean and… modern! And not at all like aunt Barbara.

Even though, I loved aunt Barbara. I just didn’t know, I just had no idea; I just am so astonished that I turned into her!



Which I suppose is my fate. And fortunately, and I’ll say it again, I loved aunt Barbara. Yes, it’s true; she was deeply depressed and lonely. (The comedy writer in me wants to write here: … and who isn’t? But the truth is, I am not depressed and I am not lonely. Even though I feel like I am much like my aunt Barbara in so many ways.)

Please don’t write to me: no! You look good. DO NOT. I know, I look all right. Really, I feel good. But let me ask you, how would you feel if you had to spend hours and hours and hours looking at yourself? It is… a rather deep moment of truth to experience, let me tell you.

All righty…

p.s. I loved all the comments on the last post. It’s nice to know that so many others jab at the radio station channel to turn off Bush the way I do. And I loved, LOVED, “Will someone please give Bush a blow job so we can impeach him?” bumper sticker. I would put that one on my car if I had it. Although I would have to come up with some explanation for Mulan. Hmmm… It means that Clinton got such a bad hair cut and blow dry that he was impeached? It means that…

Okay, the comedy writer in me has completely failed me in this moment.

Anyway, back to editing…

Saturday, May 26, 2007

You know, I can’t even hear him anymore. When President Bush is on TV, or on the radio, I almost always instinctively change the channel or the station. I can tolerate listening to Bush in post script – I mean, I can hear people making comments about his speeches or “quips” or whatever he does that constitutes talking. I can hold by breath and just barely take it when there is commentary about his speeches, but I can’t actually listen or watch them as they occur. I just hate him too much.

And it doesn’t feel like a cerebral, intellectual choice. It feels like it’s instinctive, and I am repulsed. Like he is not just a president who I really don’t like, but instead spoiled milk in my fridge, milk that I innocuously lift to my nose and then recoil from and nearly gag. I can’t help it. When I am in the car and his voice invades my otherwise thoughtful sanctuary, I watch my hand change the station even before I am aware that he is speaking! Yes. It’s that bad. It’s below the level of awareness, and I cannot control it and I don’t want to control it. Usually, if it’s an important speech, I will read it in the paper the next day. Then, I can digest it -- nearly. But I cannot hear his voice, I cannot watch his cocky arrogant teenagish demeanor, I cannot peer into his chicken eyes and I cannot stomach his permanent smirk. I hate how he rests his body weight on one foot and leans in with one shoulder, like the smart aleck in junior high (see how I’m making him less mature with each analogy?) and I hate his superior snicker. I hate him. It’s beyond anything rational, I just HATE HIM SO MUCH.

Unfortunately, yesterday, at the gym, I was on the stair master and Bush was in the middle of his latest speech (which I think was actually given the night before) and the spectacle of him was on both the TV channels right in front of me and I have no idea how to change them and other people were watching, so I really couldn’t. The sound was off, but you could read the text of his speech below him.

All I can say about this is, every time I write off this last eight years or bemoan how we have injured the world by electing this pig, or worry, worry, worry that we will never regain any sort of respect in the world, and every time I think of other president’s blunders and think how bad Bush is compared with even the worst other presidents we’ve had and then I just think I’ve settled that in my mind: Bush is the worst, he’s taken us closer to the brink, blah blah blah end-of-story: every time I’ve done this, when I am confronted with the man afresh – when I can’t avoid him – when he is there before me as I step up and on the stair master for example…I am again shocked and flabbergasted that the specter of him is so ghastly. So much worse than I had thought before; before when I thought he was the WORST POSSIBLE. How does he do that? It’s like he had broken some physical law or something.

And I have to admit, I have a hard time listening to the news about all the violence in Iraq. I can’t really do anything about it in the short term. It upsets me so deeply and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to get jaded, or thick-skinned about it. I think doing that is somehow to lose my humanity, to lose my real compassion, it’s almost an insult to those who are dying. I am tired of having Mulan watch me well up in tears as we drive to gymnastics as I listen to another report about another death squad. Another group of bodies found in the morgue, of another bomb in a marketplace or another group of soldiers turned up burned beyond recognition.

I think, back when I believed in God, I thought that - my being upset about something meant something to the Universe. Like God was listening. It must have been some extension of being coached to pray about my troubles. This idea that collective anger or fear meant something, changed something somehow. But now I see little reason to get upset repeatedly about something that I can do nothing about.

I am doing probably the minimum that each person who is reading this blog might be doing too – I am contributing money to different candidates and to the Democrats, I am teaching my daughter, bit by bit, about how to be an informed citizen. I send in the occasional letter that someone sends me to then send to my representatives. And when I think of doing more, I think I am barely able to get the stuff done in my life that I have to get done right now! I know, I’m just a complainer. Oh! I hate that too! I’m just a complainer!

So in the meantime, I jerk my arm at the radio when Bush is speaking and recoil from my stair master as he blathers on and sometimes I have a news blackout just so I can drive around town without getting distressed. And now it’s been going on so long! It’s become a way of life. Mulan, for example, knows of no other President than this one. She does not know what it is like to be living in a country not at war.

And you can’t believe what it’s like (or maybe you can, maybe you are in the same boat) to be explaining how and why we are in this war to a seven year old. I’m watching Mulan become aware of the world while I explain to her what she just heard on the radio, or how we see people in military fatigues at the airport, or how – when we were at my brother’s house recently and his wife’s brother, who is a pilot, had recently returned from a tour in Iraq and why he and his wife were hoping so much that he didn’t have to go back. And it isn’t glamorous and it isn’t even manly or exciting, it’s just tragic, the whole damn thing. And I have to explain it again and again and it’s a tricky dance because I don’t want her to become cynical or resigned to government being so awful. But so far, that’s all she knows.

Ug. I don’t know, I just needed to rant about this this morning I suppose.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I am in a fog. That’s because, for the second time this year, I have given up coffee. I like really strong coffee. And I have been able to, pretty easily, give it up when I felt like it. My boyfriend says that he already knows what he’d have to do to give up coffee. He would have to have nothing he needed to accomplish for five days and he would have constant headaches. And he would have to be lying down for most of the day. But not me, I told him. I can do it relatively painlessly and when I want to.

But then this morning, two days in, I woke up in this fog. I am walking around like I’m in water, no - under water and the water is thicker than water. It’s a soup. I can’t think very quickly and I want to sleep every minute. I just took Mulan to her violin class and I actually did fall asleep while she was playing, and I woke up with a jerk as she and her teacher shouted “Hurray!” because she had completed some string of notes without a mistake. I had drool on my cheek.

Oh god, is it coffee that has prevented me from early old-agehood???

This is probably not exactly the best state-of-mind to be in to begin writing my blog again. But here I am.

Well, the show was filmed and now I am getting it ready to submit to film festivals. My dream would be to go with it to Telluride and to Toronto, but – at least as far as Telluride goes, it’s a long shot. But I am feeling optimistic, in general, about the play as a film. I am also in a huge state of relief. I have two more shows I’ve committed to, in Chicago, in June. But after that, I’m not sure if I want to keep performing the show. I mean, maybe I’ll miss it and want to do a show or two in the fall, but we will see.

In the meantime, I am organizing my house and recovering from everything. At this moment, Mulan is seated next to me and she is doing her two-digit-subtraction homework.

Today I walked over to Jill Sobule’s house (she lives only a few blocks away) with my dog Arden, and we talked about our show. Now that I have “Letting Go of God” shot, I will concentrate on our show, “The Jill & Julia Show.” We also hope to film our show, possibly as early as December. In any case, we were goofing around and we started to write a song for “Letting Go of God” the movie, and it was so much fun. I could maybe use this song for the final credits or something. Jill came up with a great tune for the chorus and then I’m sort of Rex Harrison-ing it by talking about the whole religion quest. It was funny. She recorded it and we’re going to work on it. It might turn into something.

Yesterday I spent a half an hour talking to Roseanne Barr on her radio show that is recorded out of Las Vegas. She is very much against religion, but calls herself “spiritual.” (I think I do too – I go back and forth on that one, whether I should be using that name or not.) Anyway, I like Roseanne. She did an early Pat sketch with me on Saturday Night Live, so I’ve known her for a while. I like it when she comes on Bill Maher. I like how much she doesn’t care what people think about what she thinks. She always makes me laugh when she is on that show. Anyway, she mentioned in the radio show that she had had a religious type of experience at a very young age and that this made her believe in a supernatural type of god type something. And of course I also had these types of experiences. She said she didn’t need to debate over proof of God or not because this experience made it real for her. Even though she is very down on any type of organized religion, as I said. Anyway, we only touched on this topic for a moment, but I did ask her if she were interested in whether she wanted to know more about the experience she had. And she said, “If you can’t trust your personal experience, what can you trust?” Which I took for, “No.”

And this got me thinking and chewing on this idea for the rest of the day. And that is, one of the biggest upsets on my particular journey, is that I learned not to trust everything I had experienced. I guess it boils down to that old adage, the one I have seen on a bumper sticker. And that is: Don’t believe everything you think.

It’s hard to get people to second-guess their experiences. Or to look at them critically. And when the result is something that has only been perceived as beneficial to them (like in this case, believing in God) then why do I even want to get them to second guess it?

Well of course, I do want them to. Because that leads to one of the most startling discoveries, that our experiences are so… biased! And so… unreliable! And morphing!

And it is hard to get your bearings about yourself and what you even think after you realize this. Or at least this was true for me.

I just read “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert. It’s funny and insightful and oh – all of you should read it right away! Actually it’s even better on audio. You can download it from or iTunes. He reads it himself. He deals a lot with this topic – not about religion, but how we sell ourselves to ourselves and how we construct narratives that make our experiences make sense – even when those narratives are probably wrong. The other book I’ve just finished is Carol Tavris’ “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me.” Also, fantastic.

And then, I’ve seen a couple of movies that I have liked very much. “The Year of the Dog” and “Once.” Molly Shannon is fantastic in “The Year of the Dog.” I think she should get an Academy Award nomination for it. To me, it’s a movie about learning how to find your place in the world. Plus, it’s hysterical. And then, “Once” – an Irish film about two musicians, made me want to move to Dublin immediately. In fact, when the movie ended, I wanted to jump up and object to the screen – I had moved myself into that movie and it was unfair to just dump me out into my seat at the theater just like that. No, no, no. I wanted it to go on and on.

That’s all. I am really going to try to write much more often.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I have posted my updated performing schedule on my website. Tickets cannot yet be purchased for the Los Angeles shows and the Chicago shows. But I believe that by the beginning of next week that will be rectified. I do know that already the Spokane shows are selling well. Oh! And I am going to appear on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – the NPR show, on April 12th in Chicago. That should be fun.

I have been thinking about something someone said to me this weekend. And that is, “Maybe very few people are capable of not believing in God.” And I was so arrested by that comment and I have been chewing on it for the last two days. Hmmm… maybe very few people are capable of not believing in God. I have to say; I think I agree at this point. But I hate that so much. It makes me feel elitist. I cringe at the thought, and I am automatically recoiling at that idea.

Except, I might… sorta… agree.

I said to this person who said this, “But what about Sweden or all those Scandinavian countries where hardly anyone believes in God.” And he said, “Well, yeah. But I guess what I mean is supernatural ideas too, or New Age-y ideas or basically a reluctance to look at the world squarely without divine influence. You have no idea what those people (the non-religious Scandinavians) believe besides not believing in God. Maybe they don’t believe in God but they believe in faeries, like they do in Iceland, or that the ‘universe’ ‘means’ for them to do this or that, or that when they put a gnome under their pillow it always rains. Maybe people are just superstitious, or religious. Maybe that’s what humans just are. ”

Then I said, “But I cannot come to that conclusion. To come to that conclusion means that I am the silent superior one and I have no hope for humanity. It puts me in the most arrogant position. I don’t want to feel this way about those people – about people in general!” And my friend said, “You don’t think the people who are religious or New Agey don’t look down on you? You don’t think they feel arrogantly towards you?”

And he is right.


I think this came up because this weekend - with several friends - I watched “The Secret.” This is the movie that Oprah has been promoting on her show. Everywhere I drove last week, I saw ads on billboards for… The Secret. Basically the film takes the perfectly good ideas of “The Power Of Positive Thinking” but ads a lot of mumbo jumbo to it. Like giving the Universe a personality that wants “abundance” for us and “feels” the energy of our thoughts and puts a whole supernatural schpiritual schpin on the whole thing. It was so awful, it was so insufferable, it was so excruciating, I could barely watch any of it. If I had any energy I would go through the whole movie point by point. But I cannot. All I can say is, I thought Oprah was smarter than that. Not smart, mind you. But smarter.

I don’t know how we would have parodied this movie “The Secret” on Saturday Night Live because it is already a parody. One charlatan after another comes on and uses scientific jargon to “prove” that the universe is listening to your wishes and will fulfill them for you if only you ask. 90% of the examples of what someone might wish for are about material possessions, especially cars. A guy dreams of a big house (the picture of the big house was so cookie-cutter “mansion” ish, it was garish and fake looking) and lo and behold, he buys that house. Another man is tired of his debt and so he imagines himself getting checks in the mail instead of bill - and then he does! He gets checks in the mail! (No explanation of where they came from…) Worst of all, a woman who has ovarian cancer imagines herself healthy and poof! She is over her cancer! It’s just awful. It’s not only stupid and wrong, it’s dangerous. I was so depressed after watching it. And that’s when I had the discussion I recounted above. And I have been turning these ideas over in my mind ever since.

An acquaintance told me that she made her husband watch “The Secret” because she wanted him to be more positive about his career. I swear, if my spouse made me watch that movie and expect me to take it seriously, it would be a reason to break up. And then having that thought, I was flooded with memories of almost that exact same thing. Different boyfriends who would make me consider the most outlandish ideas and expect me to take them seriously – that Carlos Casteneda really was a shaman with supernatural powers and that giving up all personal power to a “higher source” was a good step in personal development. Oh! I would twist my mind up and back trying to find ways to still respect these guys. It was so hard. Now I wouldn’t have the patience for it at all.

So, this is what I’m mulling for tonight: I think it is too hard. I think it’s too hard for people to accept the random nature of life, and how vulnerable we are. All these ideas make people feel like they have some control over their lives, and that the universe cares about them. I mean, maybe life is too scary for most people to accept the reality of our vulnerability.

But what irks me is that people actually do have so much more control over their life than they realize! Movies like “The Secret” do damage two ways. On the one hand it tells you that life is not random and haphazard and that you can control the universe to make what you want to happen, happen. On the other hand, it discounts actual human determination and action to accomplish anything. Because all you have to do is sit back and let the “universe” hand you things.

Then my friend said, “What if religion is what allowed us to evolve? I mean, what if humans were able to beat out the Neanderthals because they were religious? What about religiosity in other species? It may turn out that ants are the most religious of all!”

Which had me aghast…. Again. Yeah… what if. What if.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Well, I’ve added some performances of Letting Go of God and of the Jill and Julia show and it’s going to be up on my website soon but I thought I would throw it out here on the forum and on the blog because I am so excited about it!

Jill Sobule and I are going to do the Jill & Julia Show in New York at Joe’s Pub on St. Patrick’s Day – Saturday, March 17th. I won’t be doing the St. Pat’s show I was planning to do at Largo – instead I’ll be in New York. Jill and I are also planning on adding two shows at Largo in late Feb. and early March but we don’t have the dates yet.

Then, on March 30 & 31st I will be doing “Letting Go of God” in Spokane at the Bing Crosby theater (formerly The Met). My mother finally gave me dispensation to do the shows. (This means she has given up on saving my immortal soul…) To be honest, she is being really great about the whole thing. I jokingly asked her if she would be willing to help sell Cds in the lobby afterwards and she said, “I would be telling everyone not to be listening to you! I would be the worst sales person!”

Then on April 4, in Seattle, I will be giving a speech at the American Atheist convention. I am really looking forward to attending that. Some of my favorite people will be there including Bob Price (of the book “The Reason Drive Life” among many other wonderful books.)

April 13th and 14th, I will be in Chicago at the Lakeside Theater doing “Letting Go of God.” Stay tuned for more details.

Then back to Los Angeles to do the shows leading up to the filming on May 5th.

I gotta run, tonight Jill and I are performing at The Hotel Café - just two songs and two stories.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I am so sad about Molly Ivins dying. I can hardly stand it. I guess it might have been considered inevitable that she died from breast cancer. But somehow, I always thought I would get to meet her someday. It’s so sad to have Ann Richards and Molly Ivins die in the same year! It’s like the life of the party has disappeared. Oh, oh, oh. This really is making me sad, today. When I read Ivin’s book, “Shrub” (about George W.) I immediately went out and bought ten copies and sent them to people. And that is back when I (now realize) felt optimistic about politics in America. I actually thought everyone would read that book and Bush wouldn’t be elected. The first person I thought of when Bush WAS declared the winner in 2000 was of Molly Ivins. I wanted to be at her home with her, drinking whiskey and just letting the waves of shock and outrage that this man had been elected wash over us until the tide was really out and we really accepted that this is what happened. I wanted to eat chili with her. I wanted to watch movies with her. And now even though that was probably impossible, now it’s absolutely impossible. Sad day. Sad day.

Last night Jill and I did our show together at Largo. It really seems to be coming together. I had such a good time. I am going to learn keyboards now. Jeez. I ‘m in a band now. I can’t stand it, it’s such a surprise. And also, not exactly true – I’m more the court jester of the band, but just that I get to sit onstage with Jill and other musicians is so thrilling, so darn fun, I am pinching myself that I even met her and that this is what has come of it!

Pomegranates are out of season. My friend Julia is driving to the last outposts of farmer’s markets looking for them. I reached a level of acceptance when my produce person at my grocery store said, “It’s over. There are no more pomegranates this year.” And then he walked away and I stood still next to the Brussels sprouts, frozen in shock that winter has passed so quickly.

But! I have a new recipe for Brussels sprouts that Mulan and I are loving, loving, loving. You take a bunch of Brussels sprouts and shave them or cut them finely. They become a big fluff of green. Then you put some olive oil and a slice of chopped bacon in the pan with some garlic, and then stir fry the Brussels sprouts. We’ve been having this with a chicken walnut sausage for dinner. It’s FANTASTIC. Add a glass of good red wine and you’re as close to heaven as is possible on this earth.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I am filming my show on May 5, 2007!

Finally I have things to announce. I haven't written because my entire Spring is up in the air and I wanted to wait until I had some concrete information, and now I have it! So, I will be shooting Letting Go of God, before a live audience on May 5th, here in Los Angeles at the Gay and Lesbian Center's Renberg Theater. I am shooting two shows that day, one at noon and the other at six p.m. I will have information later about how to get tickets if you want to be part of those audiences. (There will be a nominal fee, all the proceeds for those two shows will go to The Gay & Lesbian Center, Los Angeles for their programs and community outreach.) Before that, I will do seven shows at the Center's Renberg Theater, starting on April 20th. Those will be regular stage productions. Tickets will be able to be purchased for those seven shows in a couple of weeks. I will let you know when you can get tickets for that. When I shot God Said Ha! I had a live audience as well and it took about four hours to shoot the show. But the people had fun! Anyway, all this got worked out yesterday and I am thrilled. I am really excited to do the show again on a full set. When I performed Letting Go at the Hudson theater, I basically moved much of my living room furniture onto the set. And this time I will do that again, but it's going to be more elaborate. I have all kinds of ideas. Now I can really get started thinking about the look of the show in detail.

Last night I went downtown and listened to a debate, or maybe it was just a spirited discussion between Sam Harris and Reza Aslan, He wrote "No god but God, The Origins, Evolution & Future of Islam." The discussion was moderated by Jonathan Kirsch, who has written many books - his most recent is "A History of the End of the World" about the book of Revelation, and my most favorite of his books is, "God Against the Gods" which is a history of polytheism and monotheism in Western History.

The talk was very, very interesting. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Reza was saying. His argument was that Sam was taking the most ridiculous and dated passages from the religious texts too literally and not understanding how religion is really understood by modern people and that he
(Sam) was blaming religion for things that would exist independently. For example, Reza argued that 9/11 was an inherently political attack, not so much a religious one. Sam agreed that there were political elements to that event, but that religion is the gasoline that fuels the fire and takes it over into more deeply divided territory where people are willing to die to kill the innocent. Reza says that history shows us that nationalism also makes people willing to kill the innocent. I guess I agreed with both of them -- I think religion is a terrible added fuel to inevitable tribal and cultural squabbles and wars that will arise around the world. I sat with my friend Catherine Ingram during the debate (she is a wonderful person and author and leader of popular retreats, one of her books is, "Passionate Presence" which I recommend heartily -- there are so few people out there willing to talk about profound -- or, for lack of another word, "spiritual" -- but I hate that word now, too -- life experiences and who understand science as well as she does) and she said that she thinks Sam shouldn't use the 9/11 attack as an example of heinous religious action -- she thinks things like female circumcision or women being stoned to death for having been raped are better examples.

I was actually really intrigued supportive of almost everything Reza was saying until the end of the discussion when he started talking about numinous experiences and how there are many paths to "truth" and science is only one of them. I actually don't necessarily disagree with this, but I never really know what people mean by "truth" when they invoke that word and I suspect they don't know either. That's when words like transcendence and phrases like "relationship with the ultimate" are thrown around too easily for my taste.

In any case, I plan to be a better participant in my forum from now on. Because I like the look and feel of the blog, I'm going to post my comments on blogger as well as on the forum. This may make it confusing in terms of comments. I don't know what to do about that yet. But, for now, that's what I'm going to do.