Sunday 31 Jan 10
Last night I had my birthday party and I decided to embrace my entry into serious middle-age by having a Tupperware party. It was fantastic! Here I am getting my complimentary Tupperware products for being the host from the lovely Anita, our Tupperware lady. The bowl is designed by Brooke Shields, people!! Anita was really amazing. She held the attention and entertained a room of about fifty drunk people with aplomb and panache. I hope she sold a lot of stuff. Also, instead of getting presents I asked people to bring checks for Haiti and we raised over $1400 for Concern and Doctors Without Borders. Hooray for my friends and hooray for Tupperware!
Rose asks: I am currently in my freshman year of college majoring in theater. Is there any advice you could give me about this experience ?
Well, Rose, work really hard and experiment and muck about and make mistakes and just dare to fail. You'll probably never have as much chance to do so ever again. But always make sure that you're having fun. If it becomes too torturous and intense then it might not be the thing for you. I think acting should be like kids playing. Also the more experiences you have in life, the more you have to draw on in your work. Be careful though, and if you can't be good, be good at it.
I assume you've heard about J.D. Salinger's death. Were you a fan of his work? Have you ever read his work?
The first time I read Catcher In The Rye I was going through a pretty intense phase of my own life and I felt like Salinger was describing what was going on in my head! I remember thinking that it probably wasn't the best book to be reading at that time! But that was what made him so amazing an artist - his ability to utterly inhabit the mind of a character. I want to go and read all his work again.
A bootlegger from Canada writes: I had a not-quite-legal copy of your film Prague on VHS years ago. It's a brilliant film and I wish it was available on DVD. Think that will ever happen?
Also, do you still have a house in Canada? Fancy popping over for a BBQ the next time you're here?
Well, Mr or Ms bootlegger, I wish Prague would come out on DVD, but considering it has been 18 years since it came out in cinemas I am sensing it's not going to happen!! I really like the film too, I have such fond memories of making it. It was the first full-length feture film I'd ever been in. Recently, when I was in London getting my OBE, I had a party and Ian Sellar, the director of Prague, came along. It was so great to see him.
Secondly, I don't have a house in Canada and never have. I have rented places in Vancouver when I have been filming, but never had anywhere permanent. But next time I'm there, I'd love a grilled courgette.
Nadine says: My friend Taryn just love you and we were wondering if you knew how to get tickets for London premier's because we really want to go to the Alice In Wounderland one!!
Nadine, I think you should stay at home and practice your syntax and spelling instead of gallivanting off to premieres.
Saturday 30 Jan 10
My dear friend Eddie makes films about the fashion world and this is the latest one. I think it's great. I met Eddie on a film called Company Man eleven years ago. He was assisting the costume designer, Ruth Myers, and I was playing General Batista of Cuba (as you do). I took a photo of him on the very first day we met. We have been through thick and thin together, and he is the funniest, kindest person. He is my dog Honey's favourite person, and she is not easy to please. She even spent the holidays with him and his family. This pic was taken by Eddie's brother-in-law.
Anyway, Eddie is now a fashionista and I think we should all subscribe to his youtube account and support him
Friday 29 Jan 10
I am very greateful today to Nancy for finding me the link to the picture of me and Martha Stewart that I couldn't lay my hands on last week. Here it is...
Aren't we pretty? Thanks Nancy too, for leading me to this quote I gave about our beloved Martha:
Martha Stewart is my role model. I want to be the queer Martha. I want to have aprons and garden tools and measuring spoons with my name on them. I want to go to prison and wear ponchos my cellmates have made me. I want to rule the world.
Nothing much changed there.
I have been very interested in all the commentary about the State of the Union address. Beforehand I was really dismayed about the way everyone was so down on Obama, and seemed to have forgotten that a) he has only been in office for a year b) he inherited America in the worst state it has ever been in on so many levels c) he is not Superman, and no matter how much he wants to get something passed he cannot succeed if the Senate does not go with him.
It seemed to me as if Americans didn't really understand their political system. Obama is not an oligarch, he is not an autocrat. He is a leader, yes, but he has to answer to a great many other elected officals. I don't like this idea that all the blame and all the frustration can be directed at one person, especially when this person is quite obviously not the cause of the grief we are all suffering. Of course, yes, he could have done more, and better. Yes, he had made mistakes. But the gloomy projections before Wednesday that no matter what he said, he, the Democrats and society in general was on a downward slide towards doom was really alarming to me.
But Obama did what he is supposed to do: he led. He provoked, inspired and lead us. He even did so to some of the people who refuse to even acknowledge that anything he says could be good or positive for America, the people who want him to fail not because they disagree with parts of his policies or have better ideas, but because they just want to win. For them the glory of victory is far more important than the welfare of the country.
Of course Obama cannot do all the things he wants to do. But the fact that he wants to do them, that he inspires people by saying what he feels and what he knows is wrong and unjust, that, for me, is the first step of the way. For me, just to know, just to be reminded that Obama has such ideals and hopes for massive change makes me put aside my gripes and anger about his failure to do things he has promised in the time frame he set out.
I understand that the message he gives by reminding us that he still wants these things is hope. Hope! Ok, the health reform bill will not be as radical and far-reaching as we thought, but let's hope a bill is passed that will change some people's lives for the better! What is with this all or nothing sentiment? To come out after 8 years of division and corruption and not imagine that those forces of corruption and division and big business and hatred are still around doing all they can to stop change is very foolish. We must be vigilant, we must be strong and patient. We still have much to fight for, much to lose but so much to gain.
Do you really write your own blogs and do you have pics of your dogs wearing their rain coats?
Uh, who the heck do you think this is? My avatar? Of course, it's me! And I didn't take any photos the other day in the rain, but I will be posting some Honey and Leon pictures soon. They have a large portfolio and the world needs to see it.
Cat also asks if there is a CD of The Threepenny Opera that i did on Broadway in 2006, and the answer is a big fat no, alas. Actually, if anyone out there has a bootleg, I'd love to hear it!
Finally Fred from MX (does that mean Mexico?) asks what was it like working with Joel Grey on the Kander and Ebb tribute at the Kennedy Center Awards, and is Jane Horrocks as nice as she seems?
Well, Fred 1) Terrifying 2) Jane Horrocks is one of the funniest, nicest people I've ever known. She always speaks her mind, and would be one of those people you know would always be there for you if you were in a jam. I love her.
See below for the terror...
Thursday 28 Jan 10
Thanks so much for your great response to thew new Ask Alan feature on the site. I got so many questions and also birthday wishes, it was a little overwhleming! I loved the youtube videos too, always nice to see your life flash before your eyes! So thanks everybody. I really appreciate it. Here are a few of the questions people asked that I thought you'd like to see...
Miguel from Berlin asks about the movie I am about to do, Burlesque: Well, I go to LA next week to start shooting my role and I am very excited. I have already recorded one of the songs I sing, and had costume fittings back in December. I play Alexis, the door man of the burlesque club run by Cher, and where Christina Aguilera becomes the star turn. It's been reported that he is sort of similar to the Emcee in Cabaret, and I have to say that isn't really the case, but he's still fun! I will be blogging more once I start shooting.
Eleanor asks when The Tempest will be in cinemas: I finished The Tempest about a year ago and although I am not certain of the exact date of its release, I have heard some rumours about it being in the Cannes film festival in May, and it definitely will be released later this year. Again, as soon as I know, I'll tell you. I am excited to see it too. The film is directed by Julie Taymor and is an adaptation of Shakespeare's play. Helen Mirren plays Prospera, and the cast also includes the brilliant Chris Cooper, Russell Brand, Djimon Hounsou and soon-to-be Spiderman on Broadway, Reeve Carney
Renée from The Netherlands asks what was the funniest character I played in a movie: Well, that's hard. In terms of what I think of as funny, as in funny peculiar and most bizarre to me, I would have to say Frandsen in Sweet Land. He was a kind of nutty farmer from Minnesota with 9 kids and I loved playing him. In terms of funny hilarious, I really liked the character Jeff Constant in the movie Ripley Under Ground. He was a sort of crazed, coke-head art dealer, and I had a lot of fun with him.
Mary Morgenson asks what time of day I was born : I spoke to my Mum and she said it was 8.20 am
Chelsea from the UK asks if I am planning on writing another book (my novel, Tommy's Tale, was published in 2003) or doing an autobiography: Actually Chelsea, just a second ago I had a guilt pang about writing this blog entry when I should really be working on my book. I have two things I am working on right now. One is a children's book about my dogs called The Adventures of Honey and Leon. The other is in some ways autobiographical, a sort of book of stories about things that have happened to me, almost a literary version of the stories I told in my show I Bought A Blue Car Today
Ann from Russia asks if I want to go to Russia: Are you kidding me? I am longing to. I was supposed to go to St Petersburg when I was shooting Goldeneye, but there was a problem with insurance and none of the actors were allowed to go. But I want to take the train from Moscow to St Petersburg. I also really want to go on the Trans-Siberian Express
Lindsey from Wisconsin asks when will I come to Wisconsin: When Wisconsin is ready and asks me!
Agos from Argentina asks if I am going to be in any more X Men movies, and where he can see me getting my Nightcrawler make-up applied, and is there is an extended version of the Floop song from Spy Kids, and what are my plans for the rest of the year: That's a long question. 1) Well, I haven't heard about any more X Men movies. I was supposed to be in the third one but that didn't pan out for various reasons which I don't fully understand, I just know that the studio didn't pick up my option. I have heard rumours about an X Men: Origins movie for Nightcrawler, but nothing official. 2) If you want to see my make-up being applied, there is a DVD extra from X2 which shows the whole thing, even me falling asleep during it! 3) The only version of the Floop song is the one that is in the movie and on the soundtrack CD. 4) My plans for the rest of the year are slightly in flux because I am still waiting for the official start date for Spiderman on Broadway. But I will be shooting the movie Burlesque, and after that I have some more episodes to do of The Good Wife. I'll also be doing some more performances of my show with my band around America. Basically watch this space!!
Random youtube video of the day....
Thursday 28 Jan 10
Recently, after a long, ardous process, my office and my publicist succeeded in having a Facebook account removed becaue someone was pretending to be me. Not a fan site, but someone actively impersonating me and tricking many accquaintances of mine into thinking they were communicating with me. Why do people do that? I really don't get it. I am someone who prides himself in being honest in my communication and interaction with people so this really gets to me.
Today I am told that another Alan Cumming Facebook account has sprung up. Again let me reiterate: I have no problem with fan pages or any sort of site in which my name is used, I just cannot tolerate anyone tricking the public into thinking that they are me. So until we can have this new account deleted, please boycott this Facebook fraudster, and tell anyone you know who is interested that the only genuine Alan Cumming internet page is right here!
Wednesday 27 Jan 10
Today is a very exciting day. Not only is it the day I was born but if you look above you, you will see a new section of alancumming.com entitled Ask Alan. If you click on it you will see that you will be able to email me a question or a comment and I will try to answer or include them on this blog. So we can literally (and literally) communicate, dear readers! So go on, askalan away!! I am standing by for your queries!
I have just spent a freezing few hours being mean to a girl on a street in Brooklyn. My toes went numb. It was all in the name of art though, and no minors were harmed. I'd forgotten how hard it is to act in the cold.
Ok , it's my birthday, and it's also nearly your last chance to vote for me in the Whatsonstage.com awards. I am nominated for Best Solo Performance for my show I Bought A Blue Car Today at the Vaudeville Theatre in London last September. What a lovely birthday present it would be, wouldn't it?
Earlier today I had a lovely massage but kept waking myself up with snorting, bloodhound-style noises. There was also more than a little drool. Very 45 year old behaviour.
On Sunday my friend Josh Wood and I are celebrating our birthdays at his 747 night in NYC, baby! It should be a great night as Junior Vasquez is spinning AND 10% of the proceeds are going towards helping Haiti.
Tuesday 26 Jan 10
When I was four years old, on my first day of primary school, I left my spanking new, shiny leather shoes in the classroom and came home wearing my gym shoes. We called them plimsolls in those days. (They were rubber-soled, black slip-on canvas shoes with a little black elastic band on the instep to keep them strapped to our frolicky feet.)
Just as I had forgotten my shoes, my Mum had forgotten to take my photograph as I left home for my first day of school, and so I am wearing those plimsolls in my first day at school photo, which was actually my second day.
I suppose I am thinking about that photo and those plimsolls because they remind me that when things don't go according to plan, they not only give us a better story to tell in the future, they also remind us of what is really important: Neither my forgetting my shoes or my Mum forgetting to take my picture is important. What's important is that 40 or so years later I am still thinking of how fortuitous those incidents were, and what harbingers of my future.
Things have never really gone according to plan for me, partly because there has been no plan. And pretty early on I stopped desiring one. I often say that I have tumbled through life. Tumbled is maybe too strong a word, it suggests a sense of being out of control, and not always pleasant. So let me say I have floated through life. I have actively tried to wear my plimsolls, metaphorically and literally, and I always like a photo that isn't posed. I have continued to forget things but never the important things I hope, and when things don't work out I am spurred by the knowledge that they will again soon, just maybe in a different way to how I imagined.Today I am very happy, and no-one in my life cares if I am wearing my plimsolls or when a photo is taken, least of all me or my Mum. And that makes me very happy that we have both come so far.
Happy birthday for yesterday, Mary Darling, and happy birthday for tomorrow Alan Cumming.
Incidentally, I have always thought that plimsolls could make a fashion comeback. And I hate smiling for a photo when I don't feel like it.
Monday 25 Jan 10
Here I am outside Radio City Music Hall just before the Gaga show last night. It was really amazing. It was also a very visceral experience as we were very near a bank of speakers and the bass was so intense I felt like I had had a work out by the end of the show. It felt like I was on one of those shaky machines that Madonna uses. Abs of steel here. The Lady put on a great great show. Visually stunning and intriguing and innovative, but also good old fashioned entertainment at the same time.
I like how she has given a name to her group of fan freaks (little monsters) and made those who don't feel they belong, belong. She is also manages to promote a really positive message of unity and love whilst at the same time waving the flag of subversion and sluttiness. She's my kind of gal.
I have to say my left-over make-up from the Vogue shoot was not the cunning disguise I had hoped for. On Saturday night when we were standing outside Radio City, I was so impressed by how many people had dressed up and made up, so I thought I would blend in a bit more than I did last night. What was funny was going out for dinner after the show and watching the waiters and the bus boy deal with me looking like a (by then) scuzzy ghoul ordering a baked potato.
I have just had a really great chat with my co-conspirators at www.itsasickness.com, the obsession-based website that I have been developing with my friend Barnaby Harris. The site is still under construction, but you can actually go to it and join obsession groups and even make your own groups right now. It is fun and, naturally, utterly obsessive. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This morning it was pouring rain and blowing a gale in the East Village and so I was able to try out my dogs' raincoats that they had been given for christmas. Honey has not been known to enjoy a garment, but this one went a long way to eradicating the lemon face she normally uses for any hint of moisture in the air. Leon, the chihuahua, wears a little coat to keep warm most days but his yellow plastic hoodie did little to make him want to walk, let alone pee. The sun has come out so I am off to chance my luck and take them out again.
Sunday 24 Jan 10
Last night the universe did not smile on me. Well, that is not true. I had a great evening, I just didn't get tickets for Lady Gaga. But tonight we have them and soon are off to Radio City to worship at the altar of Gaga. Last night I met up with some friends and we ate and drank our way round Hell's Kitchen. Everyone was very amused when a girl came up to me in a bar and told me she'd been a fan since she was yay high, and indicated the height of a child of about 3, which made me feel very old despite the kindness she intended. I guess with a birthday looming I am a little more sensitive than usual. And also I guess the girl really had been a fan of mine since she was an infant.
Today I did the L'Uomo Vogue shoot which was such fun, and I made a little film about it, below. I am going to keep the make-up on for the Gaga show. It will be a good disguise/homage to the Lady.
Saturday 23 Jan 10
Today I am feeling a bit icky. Right now I am lying on the sofa with my dogs watching a Buster Keaton movie. I just watched a movie called 'Who The F@#k is Jackson Pollock' about a lady truck driver trying to convince the art world that a painting she found in a thrift store is a bona fide Pollock. The art world people come off as total assholes. I suppose money taints everything.
Anyway I am going to rouse myself because I am hopefully seeing the Lady Gaga at Radio City tonight. We are on 'standby' for tickets, whatever that means. So I am chanting that we don't just go up there and stand whilst the chance passes us by.
I cancelled the L'uomo Vogue shoot today because of my vomitous state so am doing it tomorrow instead. Will report back about it all manana. In the meantime, watch this...
Friday 22 Jan 10
So as if it wasn't a bad enough week with the Republicans winning Ted Kennedy's old seat, but now the Supreme Court in all its wisdom has decreed that there should be no limit to the amount of money that a corporation can donate to a political cause. This effectively endorses the buying of elections and the victory of special interests in Amercia's political system. If you are as horrified as I am about this, please go here and add your name to a petition to express your opinions.
I finally saw Avatar last night. It was extraordinary, a really amazing visual sensation. I went the whole hog and did the Imax 3D thing. I was also a bit bored though. I think Shakespeare is right, and you can have too much of a good thing. And I know everyone says that the story is pretty irrelevant and it's really about the breakthrough in movie effects and experience, but I thought the story was really confusing. I sort of felt it was like a rollercoaster ride that went on a bit too long.
I didn't end up performing at the Haiti benefit last night because they couldn't get us an amp for our keyboard (!?) I have to say that not being able to locate an amp is a bad omen for an evening that is trying to help a ravaged country, don't you think? Anyway, instead I went along to the Stonewall bar in the West Village for the Stonewall Democrats of New York 4th Annual Women's Awards. Stonewall is, of course, the location of the birth of the gay rights' movement in the US, and so it was great to be there honoring women who have done so much for the causes of equality and democracy.
Thursday 21 Jan 10
Being photographed is something that happens to me a lot. There is the formal photo shoot, like the one I am doing for L'Uomo Vogue on Saturday; there is the red carpet style of photo, with hordes of grown men and women screaming your name like your are their child and you're about to fall backwards off a cliff; there is the public snapshot variety where someone wants to take your picture at inopportune moments, like when you're having a bad hair day, or when you are picking up your dog's poop, or when you are wasted in a bar.
Now, with my advancing years, a new way of being photographed has entered my life. Today I had a camera up my bum.
The funniest thing that happened during this procedure (well, to be honest, nothing funny happened actually during it as I was out cold, but in the chit chat beforehand) was that my bum doctor had been amongst the crowds during last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and incredibly I spotted him as I floated by on the M&M's float and blew him a kiss. When the people around him saw that I had done so, they all started asking him how he knew me, which, of course, is quite a difficult question to navigate for a PG crowd!!
So I write this in a slightly sedated state, and therefore I am going to show you my impression of the old man in the movie Up. Here he is... Isn't it uncanny?
Also, Last night I got home late from filming The Good Wife and I was surfing the web and found an interview I'd done for Scottish Television a couple of years ago. At the end it sort of becomes a gretaest hits of my appearances on STV, which is rather embarassing as I have very big hair in the exceprt from Taggart, but there is another clip that I have not seen for about 20 years and I want to share with you. You see, there is a huge crane in the centre of Glasgow called the Finnieston Crane. It was used when the shipyards were the big industry there, and when the yards closed the crane was kept as a sort of industrial monument. In 1988 Victor and Barry (aka Forbes Masson and me) shot a video for our song Glasgow, and it finished with a helicopter shot of the two of us on top of the Finnieston Crane!! Check it out here . The crane bit is at 7:50.
Wednesday 20 Jan 10
Last night I went to my gym and did a yoga class (nobody mistook for any 80s British pop stars!), then did half an hour on the eliptical machine (listening to, amongst other things, the Rich Morel Pink Noise Remix of Next To Me!!), and then did some weights and sit-ups. Nothing weird there.
But then I went downstairs and had a vodka on the rocks!!
Yes, I love my gym, folks. Only in the David Barton gym would there be a special cocktail evening. I haven't been drinking since the New Year and so, on an empty stomach and after a lot of exercise, I was a bit plastered as I scooted home. And that really was not how I imagined my trip to the gym would end up. But that's the great thing about living in New York City: every day is an adventure!
Poor Ted Kennedy must be turning in his grave today. I am sure there will be loads of analysis and discussion about how the Democrats managed to lose this seat, and I am sure the doom merchants will have a lot to say about how the American people have voiced their disappointment at Obama and yadda yadda. But from where I stand, it just seems like a not very well run campaign with a not very good candidate. Aside from the further hurdles this will mean to the passing of the Health reform bill, I think it should be a wake-up call to all of us that although Obama is in power and his acsension truly changed the sensibility of this country and how it is perceived in the world, he has to deal with a senate that is only very slightly tilted in his favour. Change is an ongoing state that we must keep nurturing. Last night's result in Massachusetts show us the dangers of complacency.
This video of Martha Stewart doing a pole dancing class made me feel funny in my tummy. Watch it here!
The Trevor Project is a great organisation that operates the only accredited, nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. It quite literally saves lives. And now you can help too, by voting here in the Chase Community Giving Challenge on Facebook and helping The Trevor Project win $1 million! Do it now! Just a couple of clicks and you can save lives and make the world a better place
Tomorrow, (Thursday, January 21st) I will be performing a couple of songs at a Rebuild Haiti relief fundraiser to benefit Concern Worldwide and The Edeyo Foundation. Here are the details: 9PM-11PM at 1 Oak, 453 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011. $40 donation at the door. If you can;t come, please go to www.concernusa.org or www.edeyo.org and make a donation. Every little really does help.
Tuesday 19 Jan 10
You've no idea how much I have always wanted to say that!! But it's true! Today, Rich Morel's Pink Noise remix of Next To Me is available on Itunes.
Next to Me was written by me and Lance Horne and is on my album I Bought A Blue Car Today. I met Rich through Cyndi Lauper (he worked with her on her album Take Ya To The Brink) and I think he is just an amazing producer and DJ. So when he said he wanted to do a dance remix of Next To me, I was blown away. I first heard it in Australia when I was on tour with the show, and we played it as the audiences were leaving the theatres at shows since then. And as of today the whole world can hear it! I defy you not to want to get up and dance.
Tuesday 19 Jan 10
I just found this online. It brings back great memories of working with the lovely Lisa Kudrow on Web Therapy.
Monday 18 Jan 10
I talked to my Mum in the bath yesterday.
OK, I should point out this was via skype. I was in my bath in upstate New York, she was in her living-room in the east coast of Scotland, fully clothed. I also skyped with my friends Sue and Dom in London from the bath. It's so great to be able to see people as you chat to them, and of course what's great about skype is that it's free to videochat from computer to computer. How wonderful that our technology has enabled us to stay more connected to our friends and family and for less cost.
I always think the mark of a classy hotel is whether or not it charges you for internet use. Hotels don't need to charge you. They already have the internet connected, so to let you use their signal is no skin off their nose. It's just whether or not they feel that it's ok to take something that is free to everyone and charge you up the wazoo for it. No matter how swanky an establishment, no matter how many bowls of fruit or little bottles of bubbly stuff they leave in the bathroom, if they charge me for internet they have crossed a line and are against everything I believe the internet stands for.
I think the internet is all about accessing knowledge and connecting people. Oh yes, and porn, which I suppose is a sort of combination of the two!!
The idea that I can actually see my Mum on the other side of the world, and chat to her for half an hour for free, is a really great thing on so many levels. Being able to see someone's face is so much better than a phone call.
Last year I did a ton of traveling. My carbon footprint was crazy. I made 57 flights in 2009, and not many of them were the short, commuter kind. For many months I never unpacked, there was always a bag half-ready in my room, my excitement to be home always tempered by the knowledge of the next departure date, and so why bother to put everything away?
But wherever I went I was able to see my man, my dogs, even see my home because of skype, and it made the travel and the absence so much easier. It was also fun to be able to show where I was, who I was meeting, even what I was eating sometimes! I know this is starting to sound like a skype commercial but I just had a moment of clarity in the bath yesterday about how greatly the internet has changed our lives, (not always for the better of course - we are all a little codependent on our computers, I think). But being able to see and hear another human being you love, in real time, for free, from wherever you are in the world, is pretty mind-blowing.
I should add that I have done something about my carbon footprint. Aside from actively trying to stay at home more (to wit, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark) I have had a wind turbine installed in the woods at my house in the Catskills, so I am making power and sending it back to the grid even as I write this. Getting this turbine up and running was no easy matter. It took forever, and when it was finally all ready to be hooked up to the grid, NYSEG was incredibly unhelpful and obstructive. It was almost as if they didn't want me to make power and sell it back to them!!
What I'm chanting for today:
That President Obama will not attend the same Washington prayer meeting as one of the Ugandan ministers who wants to kill all gays.
That the Republicans don't win Ted Kennedy's old seat.
That the Tory Party in the Uk continue to show their true colours.
Sunday 17 Jan 10
It's my birthday soon. I will be 45. That's old. It's definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, middle-aged. A friend the other day said 'Well, it depends on how long you live'. That's what I call clutching at straws: hoping you'll live to past 100 in order to stave off having the phrase 'middle-aged' applied to you at 45!
It's funny how the goalposts change about age as you get older. I remember the time I thought that after 21 my life would be over, that 30 was a death sentence. Then you find yourself buying into the '30 is the beginning of life', '40 is the new 30' sort of thing, and other desperate cries to not face the fact that however we look, or feel, we are all on the slow march towards Death. Duh! So what's wrong with enjoying the years, looking at them as they multiply as a way of marking what you are supposed to be doing: living and, to paraphrase Shakespeare, gaining your experience.
Of course it's always nice when people think you're younger than you are. Especially when you agree with them. But the other day, I looked in the mirror and thought yes, you could pass for 45. I was wearing a conservative suit and tie, my hair was styled in an equally conservative manner and flecks of grey had been added to the sides and on top. It was my first day filming a guest role on the TV show The Good Wife. When I arrived for rehearsal I was wearing jeans, boots, a t-shirt which read 'Fuck Frank Gehry' and a black beanie on my head. Talk aout mutton dressed as lamb! But actually mutton dressed in how he felt that day. My hair is dyed. It would be very grey were it not manintained pretty regularly. I exercise a lot, I eat carefully, I smear potions and creams all over myself at various times of the day. Above all, I am affluent. I can afford to look younger than I am, or at least good for my age.
In a way I remind myself of Martha Stewart, (someone who I admire greatly and think is an absolue hoot, incidentally.) Last night - and if this isn't middle-aged, I don't know what is - I found myself listening to the Martha Stewart channel on XM radio! It was compulsive. And Martha was answering callers' queries about all manner of things, and I found her advice (about giving bottled water to animals or using Frederic Fakkai hairpsray because it wasn't sticky like the other brands) so hilarious, because really what Martha was saying was to buy more expensive stuff, it's better. A sweeping generalisation, of course, but there is a lot of truth to it. She even commiserated with someone calling about space issues in their home by saying she felt their pain: she had built a farmhouse with loads of rooms but had forgotten to put in a movie theater!!
Sometimes I think we can lose sight of things. So... I have a great life. I have huge, bountiful love. I do work I really enjoy. I am well off and I am lucky and I am happy. And I am middle-aged.
PS I looked for the photograph of me and Martha from the time I learned how to make quesadillas on her show but couldn't locate it. However, some lovely person had a done this drawing of it, which I found on the interweb.
Saturday 16 Jan 10
So let me get this straight. Some news shows' ratings had dropped dramatically because people were changing channels away from Jay Leno (and thus the news shows) and so in order to allieve these complaints, NBC fires Conan, and then venerates the very person whose failings were the origin of this whole debacle!! I have never heard of such a thing! I think Conan has been treated so shabbily and I think there should be an immediate Leno Show (Late or otherwise) embargo.
In the name of justice and decency and truth, and against bullying, toadying and the supremacy of the mediocre!
Also, I am very pissed off with Penguin books today. Last year they asked me to write an introduction to Love In A Cold Climate, as part of a series of new editions of Nancy Mitford novels. I did, they liked it, la la la. Then on Friday, they told me that they had only just received the commments of the Mitford estate, and they had demanded quite a few cuts from my piece. And I was informed I had one hour to approve the cuts before the deadline for publication.
Now, this is obviously not what you want to hear when you are about to walk out of the door to go to work for the first day of a new filming job. I remonstrated with Penguin and they told me the Mitford estate had had the introduction since early December but had only submitted their comments today. I asked why nobody from Penguin had followed up with the estate to ensure that any changes could be discussed and implemented with more than one hour's notice, but they didn't seem to know the answer.
Then I looked at the piece to see what they had asked to be cut, and I was horrified to discover that it was essentially anything remotely negative about the story, any of the characters and the author. I felt so compromised!! This was not the piece I had written, but I would have no time to reshape it or make other suggestions or even argue against the cuts in sixty minutes.
So what were my choices? Ask for it to be pulled and then begin a stressful few days of back and forth between Penguin, the estate, my agents and me, with that stomach-churning process of pleading, manipulating and compromise so that something, anything, would be printed? Or just tell Penguin how utterly appalled I am to be treated so shabbily and to be compromised in this way, then say 'print the fucking thing' and walk away and never have to deal with them again?
I chose the latter. I wish I had the time to argue but I just don't, nor do I have the desire or the energy.
What my introduction touched on that they objected to so much was the way in which Nancy Mitford managed to write like an outside observer, whilst at the same time never actually straying from the very center of that exclusive little group that, above all else, looks after its own: the English aristocracy. I also mentioned how the Upper classes closed rank when anyone or thing threatened them. Sound familiar?
The Mitford estate and Penguin' Books' behaviour has just demonstarted to me that all I suspected is true, and some things never change.
Friday 15 Jan 10
I lost a ton of cash when the crash happened. My savings were at Goldman Sachs, and since then I have been disgusted at the utter disdain they and the other big financial organisations have shown to the people. The huge bonuses, the lack of lending, the disrespect. Not to mention the fact that their mismanagement and greed got us all into the state of near ruin in the first place.
I have been frustrated and wondering how to change my situation, as well as to make a stand against these organisations. And now I have found the solution. I'm moving my money. Arianna Huffington from the Huffington Post began a campaign to encourage people like you and me to move our money from the big banks to smaller, local community ones. It makes so much sense (see the video below), and now I have done it. As of tomorrow I will no longer be a customer of Goldman Sachs.
I feel a cleaner, better person already.
Thursday 14 Jan 10
I am having a rollicking day. First of all I had the weirdest dreams, including one in which my friend Joey was in a play and I had to take over from him midway through the performance. At some point in the piece Joey's character was to get punched in the stomach and he was wearing a padded protector around his waist, and as I was getting ready to take over nobody could work out if the punching part of the play had already happened. Oh, and Obama and Michelle were in the audience, natch.
Then I went to a lunch for the movie Precious. Why does a piece of celluloid needs sustenance of this kind, I hear you cry? Well, it's more to do with the fact that the Academy Award ballots are due in soon and this lunch was a chance for Academy voters to be reminded to nominate. I had a lovely chat with Gabby, the actress who plays Precious, mostly about Mariah Carey's hilarious speech at the Palm Springs Film festival last week. Youtube it, it's so worth it.
I also ran into my friend Jennifer Elster, in whose film, Into The Woods, I am to appear. She is finishing up a trilogy of films, Into the Woods, Into the Studio and Into the Cave, and has been keeping a really fascinating blog about the process. I can't wait to see the finished results.
Noew I am off to Brooklyin for a costume fitting for The Good Wife. I am starting filming on this show tomorrow. I am doing what is called in the business 'an arc'. I would therefore like to be referred to henceforth as Joan. I never knew that doing a few episodes in a TV show was called 'an arc ' before. Isn't life wonderful? Anyway the man is downstairs in the car waiting to take me...
Please, if you haven't already, click below and give some money to the relief efforts in Haiti.
Wednesday 13 Jan 10
Please donate to the Oxfam Haiti earthquake appeal. It is such a tragic situation, but as the film below tells us, there is a system already in operation to help, it just needs cash. So please help as much as you can. Thanks.
Wednesday 13 Jan 10
Here are a couple of visual records of what I was up to on Monday in New Yawk Citay...
Tuesday 12 Jan 10
Last night was a big one. First of all there was a reception for me and a lovely man named Dominic, who works for Concern, at the British Consulate. Both Dominic and I were awarded OBEs by the Queen last year and this was a cocktail party in our honour to celebrate. It was rather like a wedding, with guests being asked if they were friends of mine or his as they arrived, and also because it was the first time I'd seen a lot of my friends in a while because of the holidays. And also everyone got a bit drunk and emotional.
I knew I would have to say a few words, but what I didn't know was that the Consul General would be reading out letters to me from Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, and my MUM!! I have to say my mum ensured there was not a dry eye in the house. Then I did my speech (and managed to test run a few gags for my show later that night at Joe's Pub), before using an expletive that I am told has never been used at the Bristish Consulate before. So there you go, still breaking down barriers.
I rushed home, wolfed down some food and panicked, then headed over to Joe's. The show was really great, packed with an amazing friendly audience, even being very encouraging when I forgot the words of the new song I'd written I Want To See You. My favourite bit was when I couldn't remember the location of one of the places in a story I tell about meeting Mika, and someone from the audience shouted out 'Somerset House'! I love an audience who will prompt you!
Anyway thanks to everyone who from Joe's Pub, and especially to the band: Mike, Jordan, Yair and Lance who continue to astound me with their talent and ease, and to my faithful (and very busy and multi-tasking) assistant Brian for ensuring I had as much of a carefree time as possible under such stressful circumstances.
I slept the sleep of a king and now must walk my dogs and be a real person once more, my crooning hat is back on a hook for now.
Monday 11 Jan 10
Here's a piece I wrote for The Lady magazine, about a particularly crazy week in my life.
Sunday 10 Jan 10
Last night I did a New York TimesTalk at the new swanky Times building in midtown, NYC, and I had a really good time(s). Patrick Healy was the journalist who interviewed me and as we were waiting to go onstage and were listening to our introductions (always a slightly wince-inducing experience no matter how true they are), I was very amsued to hear Patrick's duties at the Times be described as covering 'Broadway and beyond'. I thought that made him sound like a journalistic Buzz Lightyear.
In these pictures: a lovely lady called Karen (who has run two marathons) doing my make-up...
Then me having a laugh with Bianca, my publicist and Brian my assistant...
And taking a bow after I had performed a few songs with my musical cohort Lance Horne at the piano...
And finally facing the paps with the lovely Natalie Portman, who was doing the talk after me...
Afterwards, as I was getting into the SUV they were sending me home in, I jumped back onto the seat and bashed my coccyx right into the hard plastic seat belt receiver , which is the most painful injury I have suffered in some time. I am trying hard not to see this as some sort of message that I trusted the universe and the universe bit me (literally) in the ass. But I will not be flinging myself backwards onto car seats in a hurry.
This afternoon I went to see Carrie Fisher's one-woman show Wishful Drinking and despite my bruised coccyx and therefore constant discomfort throughtout the performance I had a really good time. So screw you, universe.
Saturday 9 Jan 10
I am in my apartment. Earlier this afternoon I was trying out some new material for my show on Monday night at Joe's Pub and I was mid-story and when I mentioned the word 'foreskin' a picture fell off the wall and smashed into another one that was resting on the floor below it. What does this mean? Is there a God?
I think on Monday I am going to try out a new song I've written called I Want To See You. It's about body image and our obsession with hacking up our faces and so on. It's quite scary trying out something for the first time, but I guess if I don't then I never will. It's also rather high so we're going to do it early in the show so that I might still have the voice to do it. Of course you'd think that as I have written this song, I could alter the key, wouldn't you?
I just came back from yoga, where, as I'd just muttered 'namaste' and was rolling up my mat, the man next to me, crawled over and said 'I loved you in Josie and the Pussycats'.
'Thanks very much', I replied.
'I love that film. My friends all think I'm crazy', he continued. This happens to me all the time. Actually that last bit of yoga when everyone is just getting themsleves together and making their way out of the studio is prime time for people to nab you and give you a back-handed compliment. In LA recently, I'd just finished a really intense, sweaty yoga class and the lady next to me whispered 'I love your work'.
'Thanks", I said, wiping myself down with my towel.
'Put me out of my misery. Is it Frankie Goes to Hollywood or one of the Pet Shop Boys?'
Thank you. Welcome to my world.
Friday 8 Jan 10
Today I had a meeting with Intact America, an organisation that is determined to stop the unnecesary genital mutialtion of baby boys through circumcision. I have a foreskin. I am meant to have one. It's not there for no reason. Why are so many babies (more than half the population of US makes alone) made to have a piece of their genitals lopped off at only a few days old? It's insane and cruel and pandemic, and I believe we all need to question why we do it, examine the (sometimes tragic) effects of doing it, and be educated about foreskin health.
I'm on the board of trustees of Intact America and also a patron of its British counterpart Norm-Uk, and with my friend, photographer Francis Hills, I'm starting a campaign for both organisations asking well-known people to be photographed wearting a sweater like the one I'm wearing in this picture, to raise both awareness and cash. Eventually the plan is to have gallery show of the pictures and to produce a calender. So, all you well-known peeps out there who, like me, feel that we need to stand up and question why we allow such a traumatic and violent act to be repeated unthinkingly generation after generation, get in touch with me!
Thursday 7 Jan 10
So last night I went along with my friend and (ex bf) Rob to see the premiere of the romcom Leap Year, which my friends Deb and Harry (who wrote Josie and the Pussycats which I was in) had written.
After there was a party at this place called Tomato, and as they often do at these things, they fed you food that was sort in keeping with the movie. As this movie took place in rural Ireland we had cabbage, which, as a rabid veggie, I had loads of. Actually, thinking about it now, maybe the cabbage was just cabbage that they always serve, as the rest of the menu (salmon, steak, potatoes and macaroni and salad) bears little relevance to the Emerald isle. Well, I'm going to pretend that cabbage was all part of a grand plan by the studio to keep us in the spirit of things. But that's not the point of this story.
Rob and I sat down in a booth with my manager, Dannielle, and chatted to some lovely people, one of whom was a man who had written a book about jet packs. How random is that?! I have always wanted a jet pack, but after his extensive research in this field, he advised me against it. He said I didn't want burnt legs. You know what? I don't.
Anyway, as Rob and I were knocking back our fizzy waters (I have been off the booze since New Year and he has started a little cleanse) and staring longingly at everyone quaffing martinis and wine around us, a lady came up up to our table and said she was the lovely Amy Adams' acting coach and had last seen me in Winnipeg on the set of the George Lopez Christmas Movie! Now I should point out, I was not in the George Lopez Christmas Movie. But here's what happened...
After I finished shooting Reefer Madness in Vancouver in 2005, I decided to drive across Canada and back to NYC in my newly accquired 1978 VW camper van named Herb. Rob came along for the ride. Now, adults among you might thing it not the best plan to take a road trip in an ancient van across a continent with someone with whom you have recently split but are still embroiled in, and you'd be absolutely right.
The trip was a disaster. Herb broke down EVERY SINGLE day. I became very familiar with CAA (not my agents, but the Canadian Automobile Association) and things between Rob and I reached such a fever pitch of badness that I finally dropped him off at Winnipeg airport where we had a teary farewell and packed him on a flight back to Seattle. Honey, my dog, and I set off on our own, but after about a quarter of a mile Herb started his, by now, familiar spluttering and finally came to a grinding halt and would not budge. This time is it was really bad. He was towed to the VW dealership car park and I was told I'd have to wait till Monday for it to open. This was Saturday evening. This was not good. Honey and I realised we would have to bunk down in Herb in said car park in the middle of an industrial estate in Winnipeg. And to think only a few days earlier I'd been a movie star.
Talking of movies, I decided to try and ease my state of disbelieving torpor and go and see a movie at a nearby multiplex. The movie I chose was The Day After Tomorrow. I came out thinking 'And they think they've got problems'.
Honey and I had a restless night of sleep, caused no doubt by the fact we could hear the local drunken Winnipeg youths screaming and pushing themselves around in a supermarket trolley only mere feet away from where we tried to slumber.
The next morning I was resolute. I had to do something. So we started to walk into town (in the rain) in search of an internet cafe so we could find a hotel that would take dogs. After realising we were going in the wrong direction we turned round and made our way towards the throbbing metropolis that is Winnipeg city center. As we wandered pathetically through the streets, hungry and exhausted, I suddenly saw something that made my heart soar: fake snow!! And trucks! And large men sitting on the tailgates of the trucks with walkie talkies in their holsters, eating burritos out of polystyrene boxes! This was a film set! These were my people! They would help me!
I sussed out the geography and found where base camp was, and as I passed the little trailers where I knew from experience the ADs and PAs hung out, I slowed Honey down to a funerial pace to maximise the potential of one of the said employees bounding out of their trailer and recognising me. And it worked!! This lovely girl with a headest on carrying a pile of call sheets (whose name I have forgotten now but let's just call her Angel), scampered down the steps, saw me, stopped in her tracks and said 'You're Alan Cumming!', to which I replied 'Yes, and I need your help!'.
Within minutes Honey and I were sitting in Angels's little trailer, having a cup of tea whilst she was on the phone booking us a room in a dog friendly hotel and writing out directions to the nearest internet cafe. A passer-by, intrigued by the movie goings-on stuck their head in the door and asked what the movie was that was being filmed. In my blur of insomnia and steely determination I had forgotten to enquire. 'The Goerge Lopez Christmas Movie', said Angel. And how perfect, for to me it was a Christmas miracle.
Last year, I ran into the real George Lopez at a party and he said 'I believe you owe me a great debt!' for he'd heard the story too. And how funny that last night that as the acting coach lady came to say hello I should be sitting next to Rob, who had also been part of this sorry tale, albeit with a redemptive, you might say, romcom ending!
You see, movies aren't always far-fetched.
Wednesday 6 Jan 10
I went to a premiere tonight and a woman came up to me and told me she was Amy Adams' acting coach and the last time she had seen me was in Winnipeg on the set of the George Lopez Christmas movie... You know what? This not drinking thing propelled me into eating about ten chocloate truffles tonight and I feel like I have done crack, so I am going to finish this story tomorrow. Wheeeeeee
Tuesday 5 Jan 10
Please do not be alarmed. Nothing unseamly happens in the video below. I had just come out of the shower, that's why I am topless. You don't see any dangly bits.
And, as if things couldn't get any worse in terms of Prop 8, the heinous and confusing repeal of gay rights that passed in California on the same day as Obama was elected (Yes, as the country was electing the first black president, Californians were actually taking away civil rights), now the trial about it may not be televised, further fuelling the subterfuge and sheltering the various organisations who funded the anti-gay rhetoric and lies. So please go here and sign the petition to the judge to ensure that the cameras show the full thing and we can all see justice (hopefully) being done.
I just saw a thing on the internet about the new Google phone. It's a sort of combo of the Iphone and the blackberry. I have been very vocal in my disdain for the Iphone. My usual schtick is something like 'Yeah, it's really useful to be able to drink a pint of lager or play pan pipes with someone from New Zeaand on your Iphone, cos it sure can't be relied on to find you a phone number and place a call'. Actually mobileme recently lost my entire, newly re-edited address book forever. Yay! I will always be a Mac boy, but I went back to black when it comes to my PDA. So anyway, it's nearly my birthday and I think I'd really like the new Google phone. Just saying.
Monday 4 Jan 10
How funny we are in a new decade. It's funny how this one pales into insignificance alongside the magnitude of the last one. I remember my new year of 1999. i was making a road trip across America with my then bf, and we thought it would be great and romantic not to plan or book anything and just see where the universe took us. As he was a rabid Dolly parton it strangely took us to Dollywood, her theme park in Tennessee. Now I like Dolly as much as the next man. Crikey, I sing a Dolly song on my record. But I think it is a bit beyond the pale to have spent my millenium New Year's eve sitting in a rental car, freeezing, waiting for Dolly to finish reading her own autbiography on the car's CD. I was so greatful when she reached her conclusion (something rather beautiful about how she imagines each day that she is standing in a pool of light. But y'are Dolly, y'are!) before the bells actually tolled midnight. Instead I was inside the nasty roadside motel opening a bottle of posh champagne that seemed too ostentatious and less tasty because of it. Then I'm sure sex was involved, the healing salve that it is was particularly useful in that coupling. And oh yes, we buried a time capsule up some holler. I imagine it being found by a serial killer digging a grave for one of his victims.
Sunday 3 Jan 10
I am going to be being probed by Patrick Healy of the New York Times as part of the TimesTalks season on Saturday January 9th at 6pm at Times centerstge in NYC.
I will also be singing a couple of songs with and by the lovely Lance Horne at the piano. You can buy tickets here.
Saturday 2 Jan 10
Only day two of the new year and I have already reneged on my resolution to write something on this blog every day. However I only missed it by minutes, and were I on the west coast, it would still be the 2nd, so shut up little voice in my head.
This is a picture taken by Grant Shaffer on New Year's eve. It is through the glass of a beautiful plinthy lens thing that my friends Ned and Drew gave us. It's a little how I felt for a lot of New Year's Eve.
Oh yes. The reason I am a little late with writing something for this blog is because I was writing something else, one of the other resolutions (See below). I am working on a film idea called '5 Weekends'. Can you guess what it's about? Yes, that's right, five weekends. It's got legs, baby.
Oh, gosh, I forgot to say, I will be playing with my band at Joe's Pub on January 11th at 11.30pm. It's a sort of slightly shorter, slightly different version of the show I have been doing a lot this past year, but now I am officially done with explaining why it and my album are called I Bought A Blue Car Today and so I am calling this show Alan Cumming: Uncut. Geddit?
So ther we are. Please book a ticket if you want to come, and if you leave it too late and it's sold out, here it is in writing that I warned you.
I am going to watch A Single Man now. I remember driving in LA around the time this movie came out wondering what would have happened to gayness by the time I saw it. Would the NY senate have voted for gay marriage and would the State of Maine gone to the polls to take away the right for gay people there? No and yes were the answers. The movie seemed to me a crowning celebration to a great year then. Now as I go to watch it, it feels like a reminder that things haven't changed. Still, I hear it's great. Will report back.
Friday 1 Jan 10
Hello! All the best for this new decade.
I have made some resolutions:
1. I will write something on this blog every single day (unless I can't get online or there are other extenuating circumstances)
2. I will wear more suits. (I just want to. I have so many and never wear them and i feel a year of more fitted garments coming on).
3. I will stop drinking. (Again, just feel like it. Going to give my body a little rest.)
4. I am going to write something that is not on this blog every day. I just need to get in the groove.
5. I am going to read more. Thank you kindle, for reigniting my lust for literature.
That's all folks. I wish you all you wish yourselves