Thursday, August 28, 2008


I saw Hair tonight! It was wonderful!

I had LOVED the movie when I was a kid; saw it many, many times. So, I couldn't help comparing.

Anyway, I had to wait in line for HOURS, to get tickets because it was part of Shakespeare in the Park. The musical numbers were all enthralling and I didn't want any of them to end. Unfortunately I was extremely tired after spending basically an entire day waiting and waiting and waiting.

But it was worth it (sort of). I was so tired that I didn't feel an emotional investment in the story and themes, so that was kind of disappointing. But I would definitely go again -- if the tickets just magically appeared, that is.

Master & Man

I read the second Tolstoy story, Master & Man, in the collection that included The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I didn't like it as much. I found the quotidian descriptions of the beginnings of the journey kind of boring and flat, and the terrifying parts left me cold (ha, ha!). It just didn't do it for me. Plus, the romanticizing of peasant life was a little much, as was the rather two-dimensional portrayal/critique of the materialistic master.

Ironically I read the story in the blazing sun, while waiting for tickets to Hair.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eddie Izzard

I watched Eddie Izzard: Dressed to Kill this evening when I should have been working.

He is very, very funny; and very charismatic. I guess that's what makes most comedians work. It's not just their jokes, it's the enjoyment you feel in their performance, like you like their presence. You wish you could hang out with them.

He made a lot of funny jokes about Europe. Very cute and clever.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

I just read The Death of Ivan Ilyich in one shocking, depressing, scary sitting.

It was simple and intense. I had read it in high school, and loved it at the time, but it's different now. Now that I have a quaking, useless, deep and utter fear of death which has haunted me since I was 25.

There's nothing to say about it really. But its inevitability thoroughly galls me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Toshi Reagon

Last night I saw Toshi Reagon perform with her mom, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and the band the Big Lovely at Lincoln Center out of doors. It was a great concert, but we as an audience were a little sedate and ungenerous and... well... kind of white. It was gospel/blues music and the performers really wanted the audience to get the fuck into it; to sing along, to clap, to call and response. But we just sat there nodding our heads with the occasional WooHoo! Their voices were wonderful.

Bernice Johnson Reagon is one of the founders of Sweet Honey and the Rock, and I think I'm going to put on a CD right now. I might buy a Toshi CD at some point too.

After the concert there was a dance performance, David Dorfman, but it looked pretentious and Tits! and I left after the first few seconds, where the stage was quiet and a voice over went: "Does anyone know why we are here?" or something like that...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cousin Bette

I watched most of Cousin Bette last night and just finished it. I thought it was awful. It's supposed to be a satire but it fell completely flat. I read the book, which I didn't particularly care for but which provided a lot of cultural context and was just richer. Elizabeth Shue was atrocious, completely miscast. You just could not see her appeal; she was cold and indifferent and also kind of seemed clunky and graceless. It didn't make sense that all Paris would be at her feet. And the bedroom comedy aspect of it didn't play off either. Jessica Lange gave a good performance. But not that good. Basically there were no likable characters and the plot moved on meaninglessly.

Like I said, I didn't particularly care for the book. It was that satirical style where there is no character development or emotional pull. Vanity Fair is like that, the book I mean. The author keeps interjecting wisecracks and his prose is dripping with sarcasm. There characters are two dimensional and there's no description of inner life. Watching Cousin Bette convinced me that I don't need to finish Vanity Fair.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth

I watched this last night after I got home from dinner and have to say I didn't like it. I fell asleep about two thirds of the way through.

It seemed like a lecture. I mean, yeah, it explained global warming, but I already understood the basics. It was basically Al Gore promoting himself. I fell asleep before they got to the part about what we can do to stop it. I mean, I assume he includes that. But what I saw wasn't particularly inspirational. Of course I will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle, but I was doing that anyway.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Guys

Yesterday I read Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz. I just stayed in and read the thing, from cover to cover. It's about a gang rape incident in an affluent suburb that involved a group of popular jocks and a retarded girl.

The boys had exhibited a range of really egregious behavior since middle school and no one did anything about it. It was like the whole town was in their thrall. They sounded like a group of major assholes. I can't imagine going to a school like that.

The book was pretty well written. Although it was kind of cheesy, it sucked me in. It provided all this background information about the town and the characters, and then more and more information came out. He didn't get to the trial till more than half way through.

Anyway, I think this will be a good book to use in class at some point.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rose of No Man's Land

I read Michelle Tea's Rose of No Man's Land last week, finishing it on the bus to Boston. I really love her writing. She created this wonderful, alienated, intelligent character and described a kind of lower middle class lifestyle with great wit and insight. All of the relationships resonated with me: the one between the two teenage girls, the one between the sisters, the one between the daughters and the mother and boyfriend. I enjoyed it very much.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

I watched this movie a week ago, the night before I went to the conference, and I really didn't care much for it. It is just too dated. The main couple who were into being super open about sex and affairs seemed very unrealistic and idealistic and also stupid. The other couple who were having marital difficulties was more interesting. But none of the relationships made sense to me.

The women were incredibly beautiful. I think one of the main draws of the film must be watching them prance around in bikinis and lingerie.