8.31.2007

Snake in Fridge: Nearly Entertaining Theatre



I want to begin this review by saying that there is nothing more painful than having to admit that someone's work of art, something they poured a lot of time, effort, and artistry into, wasn't enjoyable.

But that's my summary of Nearly Naked Theatre's production of Snake in Fridge. What appeared to be a raucous romp in the vein of, say, Rocky Horror Picture Show was actually more like an afterschool special.

I felt like the majority of fault rested with the playwright. At two and a half hours, the play is just too long, too rambling, unfocused. The dialog is clunky and unrealistic, as evidenced by the actor's tripping over their words on several occasions. The story tried to weave too many subplots, some of which didn't even come to a resolution. For example, the synopsis alludes to the fact that the house in the play "may or may not be demanding a human sacrifice," but that doesn't even come into play until after the first hour of the play elapses!

The play was rated "NC-17" by the theatre, and we were not short on wang (pun intended) in this show. There was a lot of wang running around the stage, and some boobs (in context). I'm not offended by nudity unless it's my own. What was admirable to me, though, was that almost every male actor in the show went buff at some point—admirable because the theatre itself was about 20 degrees.

The performances weren't among the best I've seen in Valley theatre, but many of them were uneven. I keep feeling, though, that the script didn't give the actors much to go on. Characters were charicatures and had few interesting qualities. One character, Randy, wasn't even fully developed in the script, and another, Charles, inexplicably appears in the second act.

This play was an unfortunate mess, but it's true redeeming quality was that this production company tried everything they could to get it to work. The best part by far was the set design, which incorporated no less than 20 individual smaller sets, ranging from a nudie bar to a bathroom to a dance club to--yes--even the driver's seat of a car, complete with headlights. This innovative set-up kept the play working on the few credible legs it had going for it.

8.27.2007

The Compulsion to Repeat Sounds

C. Dale linked to this article, in which a self-professed life-long lover of poetry laments the reduction of poets writing what he calls "rhyming verse."

It always irritates me when I hear this discussion, not because I think rhyming is lame, but because people are obsessed with repetition when it comes to rhyme. And they want the nursery rhyme meter, too, because it's soothing.

Am I being overly critical of patterned rhyme? I will admit that it is difficult to do well, but that done well, it's an interesting (and significant) element of a poem. However, like in free verse, there are hundreds upon thousands of practitioners who do not understand how to incorporate patterned rhyme into their work effectively.

I think it's also just as egregeous to refuse to look beyond rhymed verse. Any of us who limit our experiences of literature are not being responsible readers.

But then again—is it wrong to thank him for reading in the first place?

8.24.2007

Subtle editorial comments on physical overhauls.

"Something is different about you..... Oh! You stopped wearing glasses."

"Yes. In May."

"You....got a haircut."

"Yes..."

"There's more?"

"A few things."

"...new shirt?"

* * * * * * * *

"You dyed your hair!"

"Yes."

[quiet] "Wow....do you like it?"

* * * * * * * *

"Why didn't you talk to me about this first?"

* * * * * * * *

"Without your beard, you look like a 10...year-old."

8.22.2007

Desperate measures.



I went blond.


And, just for kicks, your favorite lady wanted to say hi:



Oh, and she says she's cooler than you.

8.21.2007

One in four did not read a book in 2006

WASHINGTON - There it sits on your night stand, that book you've meant to read for who knows how long but haven't yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing — you are not alone.

One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.

"I just get sleepy when I read," said Richard Bustos of Dallas, a habit with which millions of Americans can doubtless identify. Bustos, a 34-year-old project manager for a telecommunications company, said he had not read any books in the last year and would rather spend time in his backyard pool.

That choice by Bustos and others is reflected in book sales, which have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way indefinitely. Analysts attribute the listlessness to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.

When the Gallup poll asked in 2005 how many books people had at least started — a similar but not directly comparable question — the typical answer was five. That was down from 10 in 1999, but close to the 1990 response of six.

8.18.2007

Gross Neglect.

I've been neglecting this blog lately. A few of you know I have a lot going on in my life right now; by the time I get home from work, I don't have much energy or much to say about anything.

Thanks for continuing to check in, and I hope to be back on a normal—and interesting—blog posting schedule soon.

8.14.2007

I Know What You Did Last Weekend



Last night I paid money to see a Lindsay Lohan movie and I didn't even regret it.

I Know Who Killed Me seems to want to be your typical revived-sniff film along the lines of the recent Captivity: young girl in trouble, is tortured by an unseen man for his enjoyment, etc. But it takes some strange twists and turns along the way—one of which lands squarely in absurdity—and is done with a fairly masterful cinematic hand.

Lohan's performance is actually worth mentioning as she creates two unique personalities in the film: one, a red-drenched stripper in a "gentlemen's club," the other a seemingly Anne of Green Gables-ish student of creative writing (!) heading to Yale (!).

Although the plot isn't what I'd call "gripping" (I'd unraveled the mystery halfway through, and I'm a dumb movie watcher, so if I figure it out--wow.), but what is unique about the film is its use of color. The use of blue and turquoise tones throughout the film becomes almost hypnotic in a strange way as I would say a majority of costumes, sets, and props incorporate the color. It does through mise-en-scene what a film like Traffic did in post production, drenching the actual film stock in a bluish tone to create mood. The effect is otherwordly and wonderful here. The two worlds in the film are constrasted using the blue tone and a harsh, seething red tone.



Along with the color saturation, the director has edited this film well, artfully, in fact, by using fades-to-red and fades-to-blues that are actually fairly haunting. The editing is, at times, effectively jarring as well, giving the overall narrative a choppy, truncated...dare I say amputated?...feel.

Although not what I'd consider a classic of cinema, this film was created by someone who is obviously a student of the classics of cinema, taking notes from both Hitchcock and Almodóvar along the way, and this is probably something I'd watch again, and not just because Lohan's boyfriend is the film is endearingly earnest and cute, although those are both traits I applaud in a man.

You would also enjoy this film if you've ever fantasized about torturing Lindsay Lohan.

8.12.2007

Wait! Is that—



Wait, was that _________ in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie?!

Yes, it was:

Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman)
Hilary Swank
Natalie Wood's daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner
Newsradio's Jimmy James
Ben Affleck (yes, for a second)