Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting smashed.

So, my first impulse today (1) was to jump on the bandwagon of folks who are not impressed by the new Green Lantern trailer. This is something of a bummer because I've been really looking forward to it.

But then I realized that my discontent wasn't Green Lantern specific.

The problem that I'm having is the exact same issue that I had with the big screen Incredible Hulk movie and which I fear will be my issue with much of the new crop of superhero flicks that are in the pipeline.

Too much computer animation.

For Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds suit is sewn entirely out of pixels and special effects. The result, at least as it seemed to me in the trailer, is something that looks not unlike body paint...painted on a body that doesn't look particularly anatomically accurate (2).

A similar rumble of discontent worked its way through the comics blogosphere when the costume that Superman was to wear in the Tim Burton Superman movie was leaked. An opinion that fell closely after objections to the "hipster Superman" who will be starring in a graphic novel about the Man of Steel.

Sure, I admit it. I'm the guy sitting on his porch yelling at kids to keep their e-books off my front lawn, but there's something being lost here. We don't have, almost literally, the texture of these super threads that used to tie all the mutants and aliens and gamma ray-enhanced beings to the real world. It's the magic that lets one believe that maybe, just maybe, Hal Jordan's ring could have ended up on their own finger.

But as frustrated as I get with all the technology, at least I've not crossed the line.

I haven't done this.

1. Okay, so it didn't actually start percolating until I was on the Comics Alliance website during lunch but, as the kids say, whatever.
2. No. I don't mean that. Sheesh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Everyone's a winner! Or else.

So, what happens when a group of judges get together to award a significant amount of prize money to a promising, young, female playwright only to decide that - amongst the pool of candidates nominated - no one meets the standards put forward by the competition?

They borrow from the handbook of playground kickball games the world over and declare a do-over.

And why? Because a whole lot of people stomped their feet and said this could not possibly be the case.

This is supposed to be one of those times when I look at an issue from various vantage points presented and say that I can understand where all involved are coming from. This is a difficult and thorny issue and good points are being made by people on all sides.

Except, well, it's not. And the points being made by some - especially those who are claiming the award rules are ageist (you have to be under 32) and that the failure to award the prize is another example of the rampant sexism of the theater community.

That's not to say that people don't have any right to be bummed out by the idea that a deserving 33 or 34 year-old can't be considered for the $25,000 Wasserstein Playwriting Prize, nor am I suggesting that a degree of exasperation over that money remaining on the shelf for next year's awards isn't entirely understandable. Particularly if you were one of the 19 finalists who were told that there work did not measure up to the standards of the prize at this time.

But this is not about sexism or ageism or any other "ism". It's about a group of judges trying to meeting the standards they felt they were charged with upholding. The fact that out of the pool of nominated individuals - which in and of itself meant meeting an arm's length worth of criteria - is not a comment on the entire world of theater. It's a comment on the work that they reviewed as they saw it.

That's what makes it a contest.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The final blow.

It's sometimes hard to know what it is that will ultimately set you off.

For me, it was the new biography of Isabella Blow.

Between NaNoWriMo (1), teaching and the writing that I'm struggling to keep up with at my day jobs, the stack of books that I want to read keeps growing like the tower of shame which it is. There are even some books that aren't even in circulation yet that I'm already dreaming about...like Sarah Vowell's new edition.

And then, there it was, Blow by Blow, The Story of Isabella Blow.

Sigh.

Blow was one of the most influential voices in fashion, she's perhaps best known for the role she played with bringing attention to the work of hat designer Philip Treacy and discovering fashion bad boy Alexander McQueen.

Her death by suicide reads like something out of a great Victorian novel. During a weekend house party in the Hilles, Blow went into the bathroom and drank weed killer. She was later discovered by her sister Lavinia and, for some time, her death was reported to be due to illness.

Even if her sister wasn't named Lavinia it would still sound to me like something out of Agatha Christie. Like her Aunt Jane Marple would have stumbled into the bathroom moments later and recognize a peculiar discoloration on her fingertips or something.

Walking into the bookstore and seeing Blow by Blow on the shelf I had that moment of realization.

I can't afford to buy all these books that I want.

The truth of the matter is that, if we're being very, very honest here, I probably should have refrained from buying most of the hardcover lovelies that are currently laying about our house like post-retirement dot-com millionaires.

And so, it is time to make that leap that so many book lovers have done before me.

I will go to that great literary pimp, that trader in hardcover trollops.

I will go to the library.

The library.

Maybe it's because I've typed the name Lavinia twice today, but I'm feeling a bit like a Jane Austen character right about now.

1. Which I apparently respect a bit more than NaBloooBlamBlow, as I actually bothered to learn the very silly acronym.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just a bit of butter.

The Farmer's Wife sent me a message on the Facebook.

Farmer's Wife: Are you and Leopold coming to Thanksgiving still?

Artboy: Yes.

Farmer's Wife: Can you bring those string beans again?

Artboy: (staring blankly at the screen, not entirely sure what string beans are being discussed)...uh...sure (1).

Farmer's Wife: Great.

Artboy: I mean, sure I will if you remind me what string beans we're talking about.

Farmer's Wife: The Paula Deen stick-of-butter-will-probably-kill-us-all beans that nearly caused a fistfight between your cousins.

Artboy: Oh. Those beans. Happy to.

Ahhhhhh...the holidays.

1. Which, in the language of the Facebook comes out like: "Yes."