Monthly Archives: February 2013

Smash Season Two — Too boring to hate-watch.

The days of hate-watching are over. First season Smash may have been dumb, but it was, at least occasionally, interesting.

It’s not that I don’t hate the new season. I do, but it’s no longer entertaining, and whereas before I could sort of tune-out the stupid, or groan through it until they went into some Broadway-like musical number, I can no longer even do that.

To begin with they’ve made Grace Julia super annoying. Granted she was no picnic last year either. Good that they jettisoned her husband and son though I didn’t mind Shrek so much. The forty-year old boy who still lived at home with them was awful. If they’d just cast someone who looked sixteen, and acted sixteen, maybe viewers wouldn’t have gotten so pissed off about it. The homelife versus crazy-world-of-theater could have worked. A realistic look at the pressures of being the playwright’s spouse could have been interesting. In fact, All About Eve was told from the spouse’s outsider point-of-view.  Frank as narrator, or even telling the story from multiple characters’ points of view would have, at least, been different.

Continue reading Smash Season Two — Too boring to hate-watch.

Again, Idiots at the Opera – Don Carlo or We Weren’t Expecting the Spanish Inquisition

In January when we showed up at the Met to see La Rondine, we were greeted with the news that our tickets were no good. After some confusion, it was determined the mistake was theirs, but it took more time than it should have, and we barely made it in. Being a certain kind of New Yorker, I sent a long detailed e-mail to customer service. I was rewarded with complimentary tickets to Don Carlo. Yay Met! Way to resolve!

Don Carlo, for my fellow ignoramuses, is a very, very long (five acts) opera by Verdi. Under no circumstances should this be the first opera you ever attend! Per the Wikipedia, there were various cuts made during the composer’s lifetime and many versions exist. There are librettos in both French (the original) and Italian. Both are still performed. The current production is in Italian. The opera is an epic set during the Spanish inquisition in the court of King Philip II. There’s thwarted love, father son mishigosh, true bromance – including a bromantic triangle, a ghost (maybe), and of course — the Spanish Inquisition.
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The Magus — Your Saturday Book Review

The Magus is much more accessible than other classics such as Moby Dick or Ulysses, but it’s still a BIG book with BIG ideas, and though some may find it a page turner, others may just find it … long. It’s also undeniably “literary” filled with philosophy, allusions to other works, foreign phrases, and tricks. I wouldn’t recommend it to those who don’t generally read fiction, or people who normally stick to one or two genres, or the impatient. However, for a certain kind of reader, The Magus is the ultimate beach/vacation book, and an essential read.

About the plot:  A young man, Nicholas Urfe,  goes to a small Greek island to teach. He meets a mysterious older man, who at first – for no reason he can imagine – seems to be playing strange tricks on him. Mind games. These games become more elaborate, even dangerous, and involve an alluring young woman.

But what’s the end-game? Why is the old man manipulating him?  Is it merely for his own amusement? Is there a higher purpose, a meaning to the scenarios in which Nicholas must participate?

Some detractors find the book dated. It’s of its time (the early 60s) certainly. But young men like Nicholas – unformed, self-centered, callow, searching for meaning, dissatisfied with their present and the possible futures before them, still exist. It’s a credit to Fowles’ genius that a reader can leave his or her reality, and see the world through Nicholas’ eyes, sympathizing with our “hero” even while we might want to slap him.

It should be noted that a novelist’s work is never done, and Fowles published a revision in 1977. (The lurid cover here, is from the original.) If you’re buying used, make sure your copy has the foreword by the author to the newer version. (To view The Magus on Amazon, click the book cover in the widget above.)

There’s also a movie starring Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, and the awful Candice Bergen. I haven’t seen it, but having seen The Group and Soldier Blue, I can only guess how wooden and dreadful young Candy must have been. Despite having a screenplay by Fowles, the film is a legendary mess. Woody Allen famously quipped, “If I had to live my life again, I’d do everything the same, except that I wouldn’t see The Magus.”

Earthbound Angels in Need of Decent Wages

(On my my twitter feed this morning, Pankhearst, an uppity collective of independent women writers, twitted about something on the Bitch Magazine blog. How is it that I had never heard of Bitch Magazine before?  In what Nick Cave have I been living? I checked it out and saw a post about home health workers. This being Bitch, it referenced a 30 Rock episode.  As this is a topic, close to my I heart, I wound up posting an overlong comment. You really should check out Bitch, and Pankhearst while you’re at it, but I’m also re-posting a slightly edited version of my comment below:)

In 2005, after electing not to treat his final bout with cancer, my father was able to get “home hospice” services. Like most elderly in the US who have insurance, he had “managed care.” He was encouraged to have an home health aide (HHA)  in the house to help with daily tasks. He and my mother reluctantly agreed. This was all arranged through the hospice services, which are part of a bigger hospital-affiliated health service. Several HHAs were sent. Some my parents had issues with, including theft. One finally stuck.

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I Can Fix Him — New Twists on a Very Old Story

Once upon a time there was a princess. She was beautiful but lonely. Men were intimidated by her, and women envious. She was pure and virginal. Strange circumstances bring her to a remote castle. A mysterious man visits her at night and they become lovers but she must obey his rule and never look at his face. They are happy, but after a conversation with her jealous sisters in which they imply that he may be a monster, she decides to get a look. She puts a lamp up to him and sees that he’s a god, but the oil burns him and he runs away injured. (What she doesn’t know is that his mother was jealous of her beauty and sent him initially to Continue reading I Can Fix Him — New Twists on a Very Old Story