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Patti Lupone Show Missing Only One Thing…

January 13th, 2012 No comments

…Patti Lupone.

So you think they’d have canceled the show when the star couldn’t/wouldn’t take the stage. No. Instead, Mandy Patinkin, taking the maxim “the show must go on” too much to heart, decided to mount a one-man show, moving from behind the piano to center stage. The result couldn’t have been worse had the blue haired dowagers in the audience (that is, most of the audience excluding the gay men) joined in.

But let’s talk about who did join in: Patinkin’s no-name son (well, his name is Gideon, but you get the point), whose slapdash appearance called out “Old Navy, 2007.” Gideon was the “surprise” that Patinkin promised at some point early in the show, doubtless hoping to keep some of us in our seats in the hope that someone more noteworthy (say, Joanne Worley) would bound onto the stage and launch into a show-stopper from “Gypsy!” Gideon was game, but…well, I don’t want to dump on him for trying to help his dad. (But bait me a bit and I will.)

And if there’s one thing this show needed (OK, there were many things), it was stopping. Patinkin routinely forgot lyrics, stopped songs in midstream, and dismissed the audience with statements like “I don’t give a shit.” At least he tried to make up for it with his appearance — an all-black ensemble that called to mind a central-casting cat burglar who’d just straggled in after an unsuccessful night.

After about an hour of this crap (which included a reading of the Gettysburg Address, punctured and deflated by musical interludes at several points), we’d had enough and demanded a refund. The theater manager, besieged by three fur-clad women on one side and my withering diatribe on the other, only offered token resistance. Less the Ticketron and other ridiculous charges, we got our money back.

But the show should just have been canceled. By the time we found out what was going on, it was curtain time and too late to seek a substitute. The theater obviously decided that they’d try to hold on to at least some of the audience with this Patinkin stunt, which amounted to little more than a sloppy rehearsal for a show you’d pay not to see. For this, we gave up a chance to see “The Book of Mormon.”

Something to be Avoided?

October 9th, 2011 No comments

An interesting argument made by this writer against the passive voice. His conclusion: there’s no good reason it shouldn’t be used (by us). The whole piece is worth reading (it’s not long). But the kicker: those who inveigh against the passive voice use it themselves. Yep, it’s used by them:

[T]his is where modern American writing instruction has brought us. Totally unmotivated warnings against sentences that have nothing wrong with them are handed out by people who (unwittingly) often use such sentences more than the people they criticize. And the warnings are consumed by people who don’t know enough grammar to evaluate them (which is why the percentage of passives in published prose continues basically unchanged over time). The blind warning the blind about a danger that isn’t there.

Don’t just sit there, er, passively. Would that something be done by you!

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Categories: grammar, humor Tags: ,

In Excess

August 10th, 2011 No comments

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re at a fabulous outdoor party, taking a break from a harrowing game of croquet (the hedgehogs keep running away; PETA is harassing you) and go in search of something delicious to eat. Alas, the other guests are so déclassé that they’ve eaten everything scrumptious, leaving only the deviled eggs.

But there’s a reason they’re left. They’ve been sitting in the sun for hours, and you can think only of the public health peril, not of the benefits of the incredible, edible egg.

It didn’t need to happen, though. Because had the hosts an ounce of sophistication (to say nothing of basic human decency), they would have invested in a deviled egg server. This top-shelf item, sold by the fine folks at Frontgate, cradles the eggs lovingly in a cold-insulated, round serving tray; viz:

Super Chill Deviled Egg ServerYep, it lives up to its “super chill” description all right — and yours for only $99.50!

I’d love to know how many of these have been sold. It might be more interesting yet — though impossible — to find out how many would buy the thing if they had unlimited funds. As INXS memorably sang, every single one of us has the deviled egg server inside.

Think about it: a hundred clams for something that can’t even hold clams — deviled eggs only, please. Is this really right for today’s multi-taskers?

Every now and then — not often, or I couldn’t function — I look at something like this and think about the ever-widening gulf between the very rich and the rest of us.

Oh…excuse me. I have to go and synch my iPhone, iPad, and PowerBook.

Ice Age

February 15th, 2011 No comments

File:Raonic2011AO.png

The frozen land to our north is busily laying the groundwork for world domination. On Sunday, Arcade Fire became the first Canadian band to win an ATP tour title in over fifteen years. Or something like that. Here is their victory cry, after match point:

The Dam’s Been Breached

February 8th, 2011 No comments

I wonder if Julie Taymor’s spidey-sense was tingling just before these unsporting reviews came out. Once the Times flouted the don’t-review-in-previews convention, the pressure on other outlets became too great. Here’s a Slate reviewer’s very different take on “Turn Off the Dark” that focuses on Taymor’s ego as the driving force behind this unwieldy contraption. (See post below for NY Times review.)

While reviewer Jacob Zinoman might be captivated by (yet ambivalent about)  Taymor’s effort to reconcile art to commerce, the reader of the review will likely say: “No, thanks.”

Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Establish the Compensation Fund

February 8th, 2011 No comments

Regular readers of this site (and my other venues) know that I’ve written and thought a lot (too much?) about compensation funds. Well, I’m about to propose two more: One for the poor actors and stunt people injured in the lavish, doomed production of Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, and — based on this review in the New York Times — one for the audience-goers. They should surely be entitled to some kind of mental distress recovery.

The Times’ theater critic, Ben Brantley, cheerfully violated one of the firm rules of theater review: Wait until the play formally opens before reviewing it. Previews are intended to massage the work into shape, and it’s understood that the finished product will differ from what’s on display before then. Brantley’s excuse? There’s no reason to think that the play will ever open, given how often its opening has been put off. And anyway, he adds, there’s no point in waiting any longer to review it because: “from what I saw on Saturday night, “Spider-Man” is so grievously broken in every respect that it is beyond repair.”

The review is about as ravenous an evisceration of a work as I’ve seen. Read the whole thing to capture Brantley’s delighted horror at the spectacle he was sitting through. A few highlights:

[S]ignature [Julie] Taymor [the director]  touches like airborne puppets, elaborate masks and perspective-skewing sets…are all on hand. But they never connect into a comprehensible story with any momentum. Often you feel as if you were watching the installation of Christmas windows at a fancy department store.

The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from “How can $65 million look so cheap?” to “How long before I’m out of here?”

[T]here are lots of flat, cardboardish sets, which could easily be recycled for high school productions of “Grease” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying[.]”

The songs by Bono and the Edge are rarely allowed to take full, attention-capturing form. Mostly they blur into a sustained electronic twang of varying volume, increasing and decreasing in intensity, like a persistent headache. A loud ballad of existential angst has been written for Peter, who rasps dejectedly, “I’d be myself if I knew who I’d become.” That might well be the official theme song of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

Will this play even make it out of previews after this review? I don’t know. But I surely won’t be seeing it, comic book devotee though I am. On the rare chances I have to get to New York, I’d rather spend my time and money on this or this — or even this!

$65 million, circling a drain that not even Spidey’s web can gunk up.

Categories: humor, theater Tags:

Fruit Cake

November 19th, 2010 No comments

Fred Schneider of the B-52’s now has three albums to his “credit,” while the rest of the band have produced a total of…none. What a world! Here’s a (half) celebration of a holiday favorite:

I was reminded to do this after reading Joe.My.God’s post on the new XMas album by Schneider and his latest side project, the Superions. He’s got a couple of videos there, but somehow missed this gem. And welcome to the onrushing Holiday Season!

Queering the Baseball Playoffs

October 22nd, 2010 1 comment

It was too fabulous to be true, but there it was:

I’m sitting in a devoutly straight bar watching the Phillies-Giants game last night with a bunch of (gay) swim teammates after practice, only one of whom (with outrageous glasses, strategically dyed hair, and (unseen) toenail polish) visibly defied the establishment’s apparent conventions.

It’s a great game, and, by the seventh inning, a cautious but raucous optimism, born of equal parts fact (a 3-2 Phillies lead) and alcohol consumption, was ambient. Then came this scene, converting the (post 9/11) traditional “God Bless America” 7th-inning stretch song into an incredible, gawk-inducing spectacle:

Tammy Nelson from the San Francisco musical 'Beach Blanket Babylon' sings 'God Bless America' during the seventh inning stretch of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies in San Francisco, October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL ENTERTAINMENT)

That’s one Tammy Nelson, resplendent in a headdress from a reputably ageless musical revue called “Beach Blanket Babylon,” which has been playing in North San Francisco for some thirty-seven years. I’ll confess ignorance here: Neither I nor anyone else at our table had any idea who this (or the show) was, and we all thought that maybe, just maybe, the singer was in drag. Not so, as it turned out, but this is an eleven on the 1-10 Queer Image scale.

So what was the reaction from the crowd? Let’s face it, the image of someone in this kind of get-up singing this (usually dreary) iconic song is startling, no matter one’s sexual orientation. There was some laughter and a few disbelieving statements (“What the hell….?”), made even more understandable given that all we had as reference points were the visuals (the sound was either off, or simply no match for the decibel level generated by the besotted patrons). At least we had something interesting to look at. Oh, here’s a close-up of the hat itself:
Tammy Nelson from the San Francisco musical 'Beach Blanket Babylon' sings 'God Bless America' during the seventh inning stretch of Game 5 of the Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies in San Francisco, October 21, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL ENTERTAINMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

So straight, yes: but maybe not as heteronormative/homophobic as one might have expected from an inebriated sports crowd. An obviously gay man in a strange land, an over-the-top (and I’m not just talking about the hat) queer image — and little discernible negative reaction. (For an opposing view, see this blog, where the writer testily says: “It’s God Bless America.” Take off the goddamned hat.” No, the hat is the point; a kind of celebration of a slice of America…even if not the exact slice that the author favors.)

A sign of progress? Yes, but I’m still glad that ace Roy Halladay won the game. Testing the waters in an angrier crowd might be a more dangerous experiment.

By the way: Go Phillies!

Owner of Segway Company Dies in a Segway Accident

September 28th, 2010 No comments

http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/images/4/2006/09/bush_wipeout_segway.jpg

Let’s play “Onion headline, or serious headline?”

Read the story here.

It could have been worse; there’s a “death ray” that attacks pool-side guests at a swanky Las Vegas hotel. No, I’m not talking about this unspeakable onslaught, but about this one:

Apparently, the ray can burn through plastic. Mitt Romney found cover just in time.

We Do Care

August 16th, 2010 No comments

I wish I were joking. Listen to this.