Recent Signs of the Apocalypse

1. After Ever After has been cited as a source for Wikipedia (scroll down to “Laura Adams”)

When I taught Freshman Comp, I encouraged my students to use Wikipedia in their research.  They were not allowed to cite Wikipedia, as I find citing any Encyclopedia a sign of a lack of proper researching ability, but I have always believed that it’s an excellent starting place.  I know in Con Law some students were aware of other students tendency to read the Wikipedia page on a case rather than actually read the case, so they would alter the Wikipedia page during class: reverse the holding, change the facts, etc. So to me Wikipedia is kindof like a drunk Uncle: sometimes right, sometimes wrong, always entertaining but you shouldn’t entrust your tax return to him.  Or something.

2. I’ve completely slacked off on Speculative Poetry Fridays, and Regular Posting in general

Any day without poetry is a sign of its own apocalypse. Any day a canon post should go up and doesn’t, is mostly a sign of my own incompetence.

Addendum: I started this post on Monday.  But I was writing it on my iPad within the web browser (as opposed to the app) and it kept flipping out on me) so I can’t even win when I’m not winning.  #CharlieSheen

Addendum 2: I kindof have a technology crush on hashtags.  I never understood them until I started twittering, and now my heart goes all a flutter whenever I get to use them.  #InappropriateRecyclingOfSemiUsefulInternetInnovations #IDon’tKnowWhyI’mUsingTheseSinceTheyWon’tBeSearchable #FuckPostTags

3.  In case you were curious, if you’re 35 and want your corporation to establish a retirement plan for you, go for Defined Contribution.

That’s not really indicative of the apocalypse, so pretend that you’re contributing bicycle parts.  Bicycles are going to be huge in the apocalypse.

4.  The Nominating for Nebulas and Hugos and Lots of Other Stuff is upon us.  Since I’m semi-anonymous, you are saved from me pimping my own work.  Also, since I’m not a member of SFWA, I can’t actually nominate anything.  But I was thinking of maybe linking/reviewing things which I think are worthy of consideration.

#It’sNotPimpageWhenIt’sNotYou #OhWait,YesItIs #InFactThat’sKindofWhatBeingAPimpIs

5. Continued: Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh

I was supposed to review this ages ago but life intervened.  I even have part of an interview done with the author.  It’s a really, really good book.  Maybe after I take my first exam and realize I want to give up Tax to go be a circus performer, I’ll sneak in the full review before my last rent check runs out.

6. The Forever Lazy

#RealAmericanHorrorStory

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An Open Letter to Theresa Rebeck, Alan Rickman, and Others

Dear Ms. Rebeck, Alan Rickman, Lisa Rabe et seq., the Cast of A Winter’s Tale performed in Stratford in March of 1999, the audience for Rent in Richmond in the late 90s, and others…

Over the years I have seen more than my fair share of plays and musicals. As You Like It, Othello, A Winter’s Tale, Troilus and Cressida, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, a ballet of Taming of the Shrew, American Buffalo, A Steady Rain, Time Stands Still, Arcadia, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Betrayal, War Horse, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Jekyll and Hyde, Man of La Mancha, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Sound of Music, The King and I, Martin Guerre, Wicked, Rent, Promises Promises, South Pacific, On a Clear Day, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Fame, Porgy and Bess, Turandot, Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, Buddy, Million Dollar Quartet, Ragtime, Stomp…

And I know I’m forgetting at least five or ten more. With the exception of Julius Caesar, which I saw at VCU, all of those were professional productions. If you want to count High School, add Once on this Island, The Tempest, The Seagull, A Little Night Music, Pirates of Penzance, and The Dollhouse. If you want to include college productions featuring my brother: Fifth of July and… oh what was it. A show about the Civil War. He died quickly, but brilliantly.

At any rate, I have seen some plays. I love theatre. I particularly love to enjoy theatre. I’m not going to sing along unless asked by Hugh Jackman, but I will cry. I will laugh. I will make my enjoyment known, within reason.

Perhaps I can, at times, over-enthuse. And perhaps this is the reason a woman sitting near me during a production of Seminar, which I saw this past Saturday, gave me a dirty look. Well, perhaps that’s harsh, but she definitely signaled to me to, in the words of SNL, ‘simma down now.’ I would by lying if I said I did not feel immediately ashamed, confused, and hurt.

I continued to enjoy the play, but I stopped laughing out loud. Which is quite a shame because it really was an extraordinarily funny play. The last time I remember laughing (or rather, desiring to laugh) that much was a production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Ford’s Theatre in D.C. Furthermore, since I saw Picasso twice, I know that it is not merely a matter of having a witty play. The cast must be on. Chemistry and timing and the ability to feed off each other is not something which can be forced. Either the play will be exceedingly sharp and entertaining, or it will merely flit by as you notice ‘Hmm. That was a bit amusing.’

Had this been a one-off, I certainly wouldn’t have decided to write a blog entry about it… but I had a similar experience in Stratford many, many years ago. My friends and I went on a Literary England tour with our school. We saw a brilliant production of A Winter’s Tale and the next day saw the actors–or at least we *assume* they were the actors. We went up to them, gushed about how much we enjoyed the performance, and were met with stony silence and stares. To this day I don’t know if we actually made some terrible, inexcusable faux pas, or had inadvertently complimented a group of non-English speaking tourists who simply looked like some of the actors.

So at this juncture… I’ll confess to be a little confused. I can see both sides: theatre is serious and you should comport yourself seriously. Clap but a little, laugh lightly… and never approach the actors.

But I’m also a writer. If I write something which makes someone laugh I want to know. Not for vanity, but so I can do it again. Orson Scott Card once said he could always tell when an audience was actually enjoying his plays because they wouldn’t move. They would ignore uncomfortable seats; they wouldn’t shift their legs; they would sit, raptured until the end. And he would watch. So he could know whether he had won them over or not.

Perhaps people who mostly write fiction and poetry and other more removed things crave reaction because we so rarely get to observe it? Maybe real playwrights and real actors prefer the glass wall and dampened reaction? Is it gauche when an audience gushes?

I honestly don’t know. And I guess it doesn’t really matter, in the end. I loved the play. The terms interiority and exteriority will make me giggle for the rest of my life. I have a story right now at Tin House, I have a friend at the Macdowell Colony. The play registered with me in a way that very, very few plays have. Alan Rickman embodied all my favorite writing teachers–the lines were withering, yes. They were destructive, yes. They were cruel and terrible but that’s what writing instructors can do for your own good. If you’ve been writing the same story for 6 years, it is BEYOND time to move on. And sometimes you need to get angry, you need to want to prove someone wrong, before you can move forward.

Anyway, I’m rambling a lot. Basically I just wanted to use my tiny, tiny corner of the internet to say the following:

Ms. Rebeck, your play made me laugh so hard that I pissed someone off.

Mr. Rickman, Ms. Rabe, and the other actors whose names were too long for me to remember how to spell: your performances were so brilliant and well timed that I apparently was overly enthusiastic in my joy. I didn’t laugh after Mr. Rickman came on stage–but this was out of embarrassment, not lack of enjoyment.

To the possibly non-English speaking individuals in Stratford back in March of ’99: If you were actors and we simply had disturbed your peace. I apologize.

To the people who left during intermission at Rent in Richmond back in the late 90s: You did know the play was about homosexuals and Bohemians and AIDS when you bought the tickets didn’t you? Or maybe not. Hmm. The music was a bit loud, overpowering the voices of the actors. I still loved it, but I also knew all the lyrics.

To Hugh Jackman: It’s good to know that there are other, serious actors who are as jubilant when it comes to theatre as I am.

To Elaine Stritch: I love you. I’ve seen ‘Live at Liberty’ so many times I practically have it memorized.

To everyone else: Go see a play. It’s good for you.

A Post is Better than a Non Post

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

So here are some thoughts/updates/internet junk for you to enjoy.

TV Series

The Walking Dead: Somewhere on my harddrive I have the beginnings of a full out review / blow-by-blow of the entire series.  I’ve avoided working on it / posting since if you’re not watching the show yet, you should and my posts aren’t really going to interest you.  And if you are watching the show, I doubt my brilliant insights of “OMG DARYL IS MY FAVORITE!” are going to interest you.  For now I’ll just say “OMG I THOUGHT THEY KILLED DARREL OR DARYL OR HOWEVER YOU SPELL HIS NAME AND THEN I WOULD HAVE CRIED TEARS OF LEMON ZEST!*”

*I’ve been watching a lot of Chopped and Iron Chef lately

Hell on Wheels: There’s nothing explicitly *wrong* with this show, it’s just… there’s not a whole lot of good in it.  I’ll still watch, if only because of the cheap ploy of hiding a sneak peak of next week’s Walking Dead before the third or fourth commercial break.

Once Upon a Time: Total blonde softie from House stars as blonde crusted softie in poor man’s Fairy Tale Theatre.  I love Emma.  I love that she’s a bail bondswoman and she has a superpower (she can tell when people are lying) and she had a kid when she was 18 and gave it up.  She’s strong and a little damaged and edgy without tattoos.  Unfortunately the rest of the show is rather piss-poor.  Instead of “Monster of the Week” they have “Poorly Rehashed Fairy Tale Retelling of the Week.”  They started strong tonight by blowing up Cinderella’s fairy godmother, but it was all downhill from there.  Quite the pity.  The general premise would’ve made an *excellent* miniseries (evil queen transports all of fairy tale world into upstate New York or Massachusetts or some small town in a state up North without any memory of who they are and Emma–Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter–is the destined hero).

Terra Nova: Still dead to me.  Maybe one day someone will splice all of Taylor’s scenes together so I can watch those and weep silently to myself.

Movies

Twilight: I would be lying if I said I wasn’t planning to see this with my roommate.  I would be doubly lying if I said I was going to watch it sober.

Snow White and the Huntsman: The trailer is up, and it looks promising.  I love the forbidden forest filled with evil take.  Gorgeous.

Anonymous: 46% on Rotten Tomatoes.  67% of views have enjoyed though!  In sum: people on the internet are stupid, but there’s hope?

Speaking of the Internet

Magic Pen: Very clever internet game where you draw materials in order to move a red ball into a red flag.

You Have to Burn the Rope.  THE FATE OF CIVILIZATION RESTS IN YOUR HANDS!

 

An Open Letter to the Gom Jabbar in my Lower Back from an Anonymous Web Blog Editor

Dear Searing Box of Pain and Torture,

Hi, my name is [redacted]. Since you have ensconced yourself in my flesh between my 32 and 33 vertebrate (an approximation I made purely on my fondness for numbers that start with 3, I don’t actually know if I even have that many vertebrate or if I do, where those are) I thought we should take the time to get to know each other. I’m a Scorpio and based on your tiny pincers of agony I think you might be too. See! There’s more that unites us than divides us.

I have a cat, his name is Demos which is short for Demosthenes (as in the Greek orator… because I’m intellectualated) when he’s good, or Demon Seed when he’s not so good. What’s not so good? Well, jumping on me when I am curled into a small quivering mass of pain and misery. Personally I think you’re bribing him. Are you bribing him?

I’m currently in a Tax LLM program which may not mean much to you, but rest assured if I find your Tax ID number I will call the local IRS service center post haste and report you for… something.

Part of me wonders if you are merely the manifestation of the ghost of William Shakespeare. Crazy I know, but see I saw this movie the other day where the premise that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare and then I was pointed to the Shakespeare authorship research center and they think there’s more truth to that theory than I originally thought and it was only THEN that you attacked me, speciously and arbitrarily and capriciously and without provocation, warning, or notice by certified mail and so I’ve got conspiracies on the brain, or in shooting spasms through my nerve endings… whatever the case may be.

Anyway, I hurt. You have wounded me deeply, gom jabbar, and I would like for you to go away.

I am not the Kwazia Hadderach. The Kaki Hasersach. The Kiwi of Habanero… err… Paul Atreides. So go away.

Please.

😦

Anonymous: People on the Internet are Wrong

Specifically, the people who gave negative reviews to the film ‘Anonymous’ on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s rare that I consider a movie perfect, but Anonymous nearly is*.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, the basic premise is that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays.  And the negative reviews seem to think this is high treason.  One said that the film wasn’t dumb enough–it should have skipped blithely along in their pretty period costumes and not tried to convince the audience of the plausibility of their impossible theory.

Umm.  What?  Why does a movie need to be dumb to be better?  Would you prefer a Shakespeare in Love?  An equally ridiculous premise but so fluffy and innocuous that you can eat your popcorn and not dare think a dangerous thought?

Wikipedia describes the film as advocating the ‘Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship’ but I beg to differ.  I think the film takes the theory and uses it as a premise, not a conclusion.  If the theory were true, what circumstances would also have to be true?  The film uses names and positions and general historical points as props–much like Shakespeare himself (yes, I am still very much of the opinion that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare) used the general details of Julius Caesar.  You really want to bitch at me about that play because you don’t think it likely that Brutus and Marc Anthony would tag team speeches over a frenzied mob?

For the first time I saw a period film which wasn’t simply about dramatizing some scenes from a history book.  I saw a fictional film about a real period with real people.  I described it earlier tonight to a friend as an alternate history, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate.  Alternate history, to me, means a film which explores major what if questions: what if the Nazis won World War II, what if we never landed on the moon, what if …? This film wasn’t about ‘what would happen if’ it was more… ‘if this were true, how could we make a compelling story around it?’ That may seem like a distinction without meaning, but to me it’s a question of focus. Anonymous isn’t about proving that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays but about the power of words. It was about how plays can be important, how ideas can matter.  But more than that it was a teeming mass of Shakespearan themes: secret births and identities, love and betrayal, hope, treachery, honor… It was every play you’d ever seen jumbled together and then somehow woven into an immaculately linear plot.

It was an excellent film.  A smart film.  A film with all the lushness of period dramas (the snippets we get of Shakespeare’s plays are extraordinary) and with full knowledge of the inevitability of the history book.  We know James I will be king.  But for brief moments we want to forget that we know this.  We want the characters to succeed even though we know they can’t.

I cannot begin to express to you how much I love this film.  Films like this don’t get made often enough… films with audacity and cleverness which still manage to be ABOUT something.  Go see it.  If you’re not in a city where it’s playing, drive to another city and see it there.

*I say nearly because I was less than pleased with the overall portrayal of Queen Elizabeth. The part was very well acted, but tilted too far towards foolish and hysterical

Slush Update

Hello my few and far between readers!  We will return to a more… regular schedule this week and as evidence of my good intentions, I’ve cleared out the slush.  Sorry for the wait, there were some pieces that I loved but just didn’t fit the tone of the blog, and pieces which fit the tone of the blog, that I couldn’t quite bring myself to love.  Anyway, if you haven’t received a response but you did submit please query.