The Best of the New Yorker Festival

October 19, 2010 at 7:18 am (Uncategorized)

Here’s a way-delayed cross-posting of my recap of The New Yorker Festival, which took place in early October.

–   –   –   –   –

This past weekend, I went to the annual New Yorker Festival, where the magazine rounds up its formidable roster of contributors, subjects and friends for a weekend of talks and performances. The five events I attended had sex, violence, music, humor and mutant radioactive albino crocodiles. Here are the best parts of the weekend:

1. The Jason Schwartzman promo for the magazine’s new iPad app. The short film, which was screened before every event, finds the handlebar-mustachioed actor demonstrating the app in a series of odd situations (in the shower; at a piano singing about the cartoon gallery). It was progressively funnier for the first three viewings; the fourth and fifth were not quite as amusing.

2. Alec Baldwin’s charm. “Alec Baldwin is here because I love him,” said interviewer Ariel Levy. “I’m glad you could all be here for our date.” The 30 Rockboss has an undeniable smarmy appeal, brandished in discussions of his early ambitions (to be President), impressions of Tracy Morgan and Marlon Brando, and mockery of early roles like the tough-guy boyfriend in Working Girl. In 2008, The New Yorker published a fantastic profile of Baldwin, who, far from resting on his laurels (or Emmys), seems perennially dissatisfied with his life and career. At the talk, he pointed out (and repeatedly demonstrated) an acting tick that’s been bugging him, where he adds emphasis to Jack Donaghy’s lines by doing a “vibrating, metronomic” movement with his head. It sounds weird to call a large, 52-year-old man with a history of anger problems endearing, but he was.

3. Childhood memories at the “Sex and Violence” panel. Fiction writers Wells Tower (Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned), Joyce Carol Oates (her latest isSourland) and Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) were asked about when they first experienced the thrill of violence. Tower revealed some fierce horseplay with his brother: “I hit him in the face with a bat and threw a knife at his throat.” Later, when talking about the hypersexualization of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic-born Díaz recalled childhood advice: “Always have two girlfriends—play them off each other,” said mom. And from his uncle: “Only women with big asses. Remember that.”

4. The mutant radioactive albino crocodiles in Werner Herzog’s new movie,Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The 3-D documentary is about the Chauvet Cave in France where, in 1994, archaeologists discovered astonishing paintings, depicting rhinos, cave bears, horses and more, that date back 32,000 years. A postscript to the film features greenhouses, some 20 miles from the cave and heated with excess water from a nuclear power plant, that house hundreds of crocodiles, whose offspring include albino creatures. Herzog imagines what those crocodiles might think if they saw the cave paintings. The animals are actually alligators, and their mutation has nothing to do with radioactivity. “So what?” said Herzog. “There should be imagination, the ecstasy of truth.” And indeed Herzog has gone beyond simple documentation, musing, in his offbeat way, on spirituality, history and the very nature of human-ness.

5. The transformative power of performance at “From Russia with Spunk,” with Regina Spektor. In conversation with writer Michael Specter, the 30-year-old musician was adorable: tiny, giggly, with a high voice and a habit of saying “you know” every five seconds. Then when she took to the piano, she unselfconsciously unleashed bold, passionate songs and sounds, from a barking dolphin imitation in “Folding Chair” to the ominously beautiful, pounding “Après Moi.” Spektor’s songs have the drama and quirk of musical theater, so it’s welcome news that she’s almost done composing the music for an upcoming Broadway show based on the story of Sleeping Beauty.

6. The range of writer Ian Frazier. The reporter and humorist spoke with editor David Remnick about his ambitious, 500+ page new book Travels in Siberia, which he’s been working on since 1993. He took five trips to the region, which has a tragic and mythic history, a vast geography spanning eight time zones, and a climate that alternates between frozen tundras and mosquito-blanketed swamps. But apparently it’s fun and funny there, too. Frazier, who wrote the well-known humor piece “Coyote v. Acme” (it’s styled as a lawsuit by Wile E. Coyote against the maker of defective, explosive products), described Siberia as a land of “extreme humor”: “Russia is like slapstick, only you actually die.” Little-known fact: before coming toThe New Yorker, Frazier worked for the Hugh Hefner-owned magazine Oui, for which he “wrote captions for pictures of naked people.”

 

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The Tricky World of Translation

September 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm (Uncategorized)

I have a friend who is translating The Iliad from Latin, for fun, and I have to admit that on hearing of his undertaking my first reaction was, why? Hasn’t that been done already, a lot? Yesterday The Paris Review’s blog provided a great reminder of the importance of new and multiple translations. Short story writer and French translatorLydia Davis, whose version of Madame Bovary comes out September 23, discusses a few cultural issues, then offers this gem:

How many ways, for instance, has even a single phrase (bouffées d’affadissement) from Madame Bovary been translated:

gusts of revulsion

a kind of rancid staleness

stale gusts of dreariness

waves of nausea

fumes of nausea

flavorless, sickening gusts

stagnant dreariness

whiffs of sickliness

waves of nauseous disgust

Multiply that by the thousands and thousands of words in a story or novel, and wow. Of course I knew that translation was far from a literal, straightforward process but this simple example made its nuanced and seemingly fraught nature much more concrete. Davis will be writing at The Paris Review about translation for the next two weeks; it definitely seems worth following.

Discussions about translation popped up this spring and summer in the wake of acclaimed Spanish translator Edith Grossman’s book Why Translation Matters. While addressing an art that is “often ignored, misunderstood, or misrepresented,”Grossman explains her task and challenge (as Tim Parks cites in this article in The New York Review of Books) as:

‘To hear the first version of the work as profoundly and completely as possible, struggling to discover the linguistic charge, the structural rhythms, the subtle implications, the complexities of meaning and suggestion in vocabulary and phrasing, and the ambient, cultural inferences and conclusions these tonalities allow us to extrapolate.’

After which, the translator seeks to

‘re-create…within the alien system of a second language, all the characteristics, vagaries, quirks, and stylistic peculiarities of the work.’

Whew. In an interview on the New York Times blog Papercuts a couple years back, Natasha Wimmer, who translated Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives and 2666, described the special knowledge, beyond language, required of a translator—2666, for example, required her to research Black Panther history, WWII German army terminology and obscure divination and forensic science vocabulary.

Yet much of the time, a reader (or at least this reader) pays very little attention to a translation. A few months ago I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, which has a peculiar, quirky yet matter of fact voice. I actually forgot that I was not reading the original (Murakami does speak English), until it hit me partway through—“Oh right, this was translated! I wonder what is different.” Turns out, quite a lot: The English-language publication, translated by Jay Rubin, is actually an abridged version of the Japanese (under orders from Knopf, the American publisher). You can read an interesting discussion about translating Murakami on the Random House website.

That conversation also includes another vivid example of the elusive nature of translation (in this case, three-point translation), from Philip Gabriel, who translated the Murakami novel Sputnik Sweetheart:

In chapter five there was a short quote from Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin. In cases like this–quotes in Japanese from other languages–of course you need to find the original language, and with languages other than English, I try to locate a reputable, existing translation… I located four different versions of the poem, from which I copied out these translations of the lines:

(1) He had no itch to dig for glories/ Deep in the dust that time has laid.

(2) He lacked the slightest predilection/for raking up historic dust.

(3) He lacked the yen to go out poking/Into the dusty lives of yore–

(4) He had no urge to rummage/in the chronological dust.

…Seeing all four versions side by side was a mini-revelation to me. When I got home I pinned these all to my bulletin board–where they still remain–as a reminder of a simple truth, namely that there are so many possible translations of even one line.

These examples are only on a linguistic level, and there is of course much to sayabout the cultural importance of translation; about how translated texts open up the world of writing and help us connect with people and countries we otherwise never would. With that in mind, I’m going to head over to Words Without Borders—a magazine and website devoted to translating and publishing international literature—and get reading.

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The Girl Who Felt Déjà vu Reading the NY Times

May 20, 2010 at 7:38 pm (Uncategorized)

Reading Michiko Kakutani’s review of the third book of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, I was hit with a moment of déjà vu. There has been a lot of coverage of the now full-blown phenomenon of these books…where had I seen these lines before?

The opening sentence of today’s review:

“Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s fierce pixie of a heroine, is one of the most original characters in a thriller to come along in a while — a gamin, Audrey Hepburn look-alike but with tattoos and piercings, the take-no-prisoners attitude of Lara Croft and the cool, unsentimental intellect of Mr. Spock.”

The opening sentence of Kakutani’s 2009 review of volume two in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire:

“Lisbeth Salander, the angry punk hacker in Stieg Larsson’s 2008 best seller, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” was one of the most original and memorable heroines to surface in a recent thriller: picture Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft endowed with Mr. Spock’s intense braininess and Scarlett O’Hara’s spunky instinct for survival.”

Oh, right.

From today’s review:

“The second installment, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” attested to the author’s improved plotting abilities, moving backward into the past even as it accelerated toward a vicious and violent conclusion.”

From last year’s review:

“Though this novel lacks the sexual and romantic tension that helped spark “Dragon Tattoo” — Salander and Blomkvist share few scenes here — it boasts an intricate, puzzlelike story line that attests to Mr. Larsson’s improved plotting abilities, a story line that simultaneously moves backward into Salander’s traumatic past, even as it accelerates toward its startling and violent conclusion.”

Kakutani wrote the sentences in the first place; she’s certainly allowed to re-use her descriptions and phrases if she wishes, and writing about a series necessitates some amount of re-hashing. The echoes just struck me as a bit odd. At least it wasn’t someone else ripping her off, or vice versa. And overall Kakutani has highly praised the series, so I guess it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and read the books.

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Talking politics and unicorns with author J. Robert Lennon

April 25, 2010 at 4:47 pm (read, Uncategorized)

Some books just grab me, and I become one of those well-meaning, perhaps sometimes annoying, literary evangelists who tells everyone I meet, “You have to read this!” Such was the case when I discovered J. Robert Lennon‘s brilliant story collection Pieces for the Left Hand several years ago. Set in upstate New York and made of up 100 “anecdotes,” each about two pages long, the book is funny, unsettling and simply mesmerizing. I’ve been a huge fan since.

Lennon’s most recent novel, Castle, which comes out in paperback on Tuesday, similarly blends matter-of-fact style and morbid spirit, but is much more ambitious in its themes. It is about Eric Loesch, a middle-aged man who returns to his hometown in rural New York to buy 612 acres of land. When he discovers that a small portion of the land does not belong to him, and finds a castle built on that plot, details of his traumatic childhood and military service begin to resurface. (Both Castle and Pieces for the Left Hand received an enthusiastic review from the New York Times.)

Early in the novel, Loesch says: “People, in my long experience, want to talk. They may believe they wish to keep secrets, and they may believe that they are capable of doing so. But the truth is that secrets exist to be revealed; and it is usually very easy to find the combination of words that will cause them to emerge.” By the end of the book, the ominous undertones of this statement come to the forefront, and readers may be left with a bit of PTSD.

Though Lennon keeps busy teaching at Cornell, blogging, rocking out as Inverse Room and, of course, writing, he kindly answered a few questions via e-mail about the book–and unicorns!

Q: Of your works that I’ve read, this book is the most political. Did Castle come specifically out of the Bush Administration and its torture policy, or had you previously been interested in the military and the psychological wounds that it can inflict?

A: No, I used to be pretty apolitical.  I’m a Democrat, but I never got particularly angry at Reagan and Bush 1, though I didn’t like their policies.  Then, like a lot of people, I got kind of radicalized by the Bush years, and was quite worked up about the war.  I tried several approaches to writing about it, most of which failed miserably.  It’s hard to write about political things in a literary way. Even now, when people don’t like Castle, it tends to be because of the political content.  But I had to do it.

You get into the head of protagonist Eric Loesch, writing a minutely detailed first-person account. But as the story progresses, the reader realizes that Loesch has concealed or repressed some vital information. What were the challenges of writing in the voice of an unreliable narrator? Did you struggle over how much to reveal, or when and how to do so?

It was tricky–he started out as an amnesiac, then evolved, over many drafts, into a liar, and then simply a guy who was telling himself a story that he needed to hear.  The narrative is self-serving; it leaves out a lot and accidentally reveals a lot more.  Loesch has a pedantic, almost infantile way of speaking–it was a challenge to strike the right balance.

I think it’s funny that the cover of Castle features the silhouette of a mysterious white deer (an animal that figures prominently into the novel), and in the author photo on the back flap you’re wearing a shirt with the silhouette of a white unicorn. Do you have a special fondness for mystical white creatures? Is there any story behind the shirt?

The shirt is an in-joke for some internet friends–I spend a lot of time on a private messageboard for off-duty musicians, fooling around and telling jokes.  And that’s our t-shirt.  But, believe it or not, I never noticed the connection between the unicorn and the deer!

This may be an impossible question, but what is your favorite sentence that you have written? It can be fiction, essay, love letter, whatever.

I think maybe that is impossible.  The most important sentence I’ve written must be the text I sent last week to the Joint Chiefs of Staff; I believe the exact wording was “The leaves are turning. Omar is at large.  Execute Project Sigma Tangent.”  If this sounds like nonsense, just wait a few weeks.  Events will make everything clear.

What is your favorite sentence that someone else has written?

A line from my wife’s [Rhian Ellis] novel After Life: ” ‘I love cake,’ I lied. ”

What are you currently working on?

I finished a novel about a documentary filmmaker, then shelved it.  It didn’t work.  Now I’m writing a book that involves a parallel universe. What with Lost wrapping up, somebody has to fill the gap.  I have some new short stories coming out, too, in The Paris Review and Salamander.

You can read his new story, “The Impossible Man,” from The Paris Review‘s Spring 2010 issue, here. Enjoy!

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In good Company: Stephen Sondheim and his fans

April 23, 2010 at 12:37 am (Uncategorized)

Stephen Sondheim is having a heck of a birthday party. The titan of musical theater turned 80 last month, and tributes to his work—which includes West Side Story, Company, Follies and Sweeny Todd—have filled New York with a little night music. The Philharmonic celebrated with performances by Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Elaine Stritch; it was announced that Broadway’s Henry Mill’s Theater will be renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theater; and yesterday marked the opening of a new Broadway review, Sondheim on Sondheim.

For all the respect they command, and the revolutionary impact they had on the genre of musical theater, Sondheim’s shows are not easy, friendly blockbusters. As a composer and lyrisist, he took risks in both style and content, favoring striking arrangements and dissonant chords over catchiness (this is a man fascinated with murderers and assassins, after all). He aimed beyond comfort and familiarity, striving for something new, dark, clever, funny, moving, bitter, longing. As he says in a Fresh Air interview from earlier this week,

“The problem with so much music… was that you went into the theater humming it. You know, if you hum something on first hearing it, it might be because it is so immediately memorable, but more likely, it’s because it reminds you of something else.”

Sondheim developed a sound that was recognizably his own. His success, and resulting stature, didn’t make him world’s cuddliest composer; as this New York magazine article reveals, some theater stars have been terrified to work with him. But the best quote comes from Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote In the Heights and did the translation of West Side Story for its recent bilingual revival:

“You know, he could seriously just, like, smack people around all day and just be like, ‘I’m Sondheim; cook me a steak.’ But he’s actually still really nice and really generous and really generous to younger artists.”

In honor of the huge influence Sondheim’s work has had on younger artists and musical theater fans, here are a few of my favorite Sondheim homages and pop culture moments.

Camp (2003)

Set at a musical theater summer camp for teenagers, this movie is predictably packed with show tunes and theater trivia. Sondheim gets a nod early on, when the hot new guy sees a photo of an older man on the nightstand by his roommate’s bed.

“Is that your father?” he asks. The roommate is aghast—how could you not recognize Stephen Sondheim?

But the showstopper comes when mousey Fritzi, who has spent the summer slaving for her bitchy, spotlight-hogging roommate Jill, poisons Jill before the performance of Company. As Jill pauses during “Ladies Who Lunch” to vomit, Fritzi (played by Anna Kendrick, now an Oscar nominee for Up in the Air) swoops in for a biting, fiery performance. I’ll drink to that.

Tick, Tick…BOOM!

In Tick, Tick…BOOM!, an early musical by Jonathon Larson of Rent, the main character is, like Larson, an aspiring musical theater composer who idolizes Sondheim. The song “Sunday” is a clear parody of the song of the same name in Sunday in the Park with George, inspired by pointillist Georges Seurat.

But while Sondheim’s song evokes a painting, Larson’s is about brunch, at the diner where he works to pay the bills.

Sondheim’s lyrics:

Sunday, by the blue purple yellow red water

On the green purple yellow red grass

Let us pass through our perfect park

Pausing on a Sunday

By the cool blue triangular water

On the soft green elliptical grass

As we pass through arrangements of shadow

Toward the verticals of trees

Forever

—–

Larson’s lyrics:

Brunch

Sunday

In the blue, silver chromium diner

On the green, purple, yellow, red stools

Sit the fools

Who should eat at home

Instead, they pay on

Sunday

For a cool orange juice or a bagel

On the soft, green cylindrical stools

Sit the fools
Drinking cinnamon coffee

Or decaffeinated tea

Forever

In the blue, silver chromium diner

A performance of Sondheim’s “Sunday”:

And a recording of Larson’s:

Desperate Housewives

The show’s creator Marc Cherry (who has been, um, a little busy lately) is a huge Sondheim fan. Nearly every episode of the show, which is now in its sixth season, takes its title from a Sondheim song name or lyric. Some examples:

Episode 1.12, Every Day a Little Death (from A Little Night Music)

Episode 3.11, No Fits, No Fights, No Feuds (a lyric from Gypsy)

Episode 4.9, Something’s Coming (from West Side Story)

Episode 6.5, Everybody Ought to Have a Maid (from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)

This Sunday’s episode is called Epiphany, after the Sweeny Todd Song.

What are your favorite Sondheim songs, references or memories?

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Oscar Watch: The Sci and Tech Awards are a Man’s World

March 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm (Uncategorized)

On a night that Kathryn Bigelow made Oscar history by becoming the first woman to win an award for Best Director, another moment on the telecast made clear how far women still have to go in Hollywood.

Partway through the packed show, actress Elizabeth Banks highlighted the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards, which she had presented in a separate ceremony on February 20. According to the Academy, the awards honor “the men, women and companies whose discoveries and innovations have contributed in significant, outstanding and lasting ways to motion pictures.”

Just one problem: there were no women. As the group photo scrolled across the big screen, it was tux after tux, bow tie after bow tie. Forty five men.

Interestingly, the Sci-Tech awards are always presented by beautiful young actresses—Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson and Kate Hudson are among the recent hosts. Last year, Biel presented to all men. In 2008, Alba honored a lone woman, Julia Pakalns, for her work (along with three men) on the Maya Fluid Effects system, which helps digital artists accurately animate liquids and gases.

Though I can’t tell you what awards like “advancing the technique of ambient occlusion rendering” mean, I can say that all of these technological advancements are changing the way movies are made, and that both men and women should be a part of that filmmaking future.

Clearly, the gender divide in these awards is only a symptom of a systematic failure to engage and encourage women in science and technology—a failure that extends far beyond the film industry. Last week, I attended the California Museum’s celebration of Women’s History Month, which included a discussion with astronaut Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first woman to go to space. During the panel, she mentioned that when she first went to work at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, of the 4,000 scientists and engineers employed there, only 4 were women. And when the crew for her historic space flight was announced, at the press conference a reporter fromTIME magazine asked if she cried when things went wrong in the simulator.

The vital question is how to overcome centuries of social, cultural and institutional biases that make it difficult for women to enter and excel in scientific and technical fields. Though it’s an enormous issue, institutes like Georgia Tech’s Center for the Study of Women, Science and Technology and initiatives at MITUSC and many other colleges are a welcome sign of the need for and commitment to change.

Hopefully not too long from now, the only tears will come during award acceptance speeches.

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Two Words: Swagger Wagon

March 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Toyota has been having a tough time lately, so I thought I’d show the company some love by sharing their hilarious new series of commercials for the Sienna minivan, set up like a sitcom about a dorky-cool family with two little kids. The sense of humor, skewed self-perception and music all give the clips an Arrested Development vibe, and I think the lead actors are perfect. I know they’re ads for a minivan, but I just watched all the videos on their YouTube channel. For some reason I can’t embed the clips, but I recommend this 30-second spot that introduces you to the family, and this clip starring the dad. Dance party!

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There is no future, there is no past: Rent and Tick, Tick…BOOM!

February 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm (Uncategorized)

When I was younger and kept a journal, nearly every entry began: “Wow, it’s been so long since I wrote!” So, um, hi. It’s been so long since I wrote. But now I’m back, and with lots of movies, music, art and books to talk about. Please join me as I try to make my way through the cultural landscape.

Last night I saw the musical Rent, Jonathan Larson’s rock opera, as part of Broadway Sacramento. I’ve long been a fan of the show, which brings a grittiness and chaos to the often cheesy world of musicals.

A quick rundown of the background, in case you’re not familiar with the Larson mythology. He wrote Rent over seven years, and then it was staged in a workshop production at the New York Theatre Workshop. The night before the first public performance in 1996, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at age 35. The show went on to Broadway, injected the staid stage with sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, and became an awards-draped global phenomenon.

On this current tour, which closes here in Sacramento on Feb. 7, original Broadway cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp reprise their roles as musician Roger and filmmaker Mark, respectively. Across town, at the Artisan on Del Paso Blvd., the New Helvetia Theatre Company is re-staging their fall production of Tick, Tick…BOOM!, an earlier Larson musical. The two productions combine to create an exhilarating portrait of late 1980s New York City, and of Larson himself. (I highly recommend the New Helvetia show, starring Tristan Rumery, Nanci Zoppi and Connor Mickiewicz. It runs through Feb. 13. Stay tuned for my interview with Nanci this weekend!)

What’s odd about watching both these shows is that they’ve become a never-never land, a place where Larson and the lost boys that are his leading men never grow up. Larson was obsessed with the passage of time. The semi-autobiographical Tick, Tick…BOOM! anxiously counts down until his 30th birthday, which he sees as the end of his youth. You can’t help but hear lyrics from songs like “30/90” in the context of Larson’s early death:

Stop the clock -Take time out

Time to regroup before you lose the bout

Freeze the frame – Back it up

Time to refocus before they wrap it up

Not just another birthday, it’s 30/90

Why can’t you stay 29

Hell, you still feel like you’re 22

Turn thirty 1990

Bang! You’re dead

Even the re-casting of Pascal and Rapp in Rent seems like an attempt to stop the clock. Fourteen years after the premiere they’re both pushing 40. We know they’re older, and are supposed to pretend that they’re youthful bohemians for nostalgia’s sake, and the chance to see great performers. For the most part it works, if you buy into the refrain, from “Another Day” and “No Day But Today,” that “there is no future, there is no past.” We’re trapped with these characters in the eternal present where nobody gets older or has to get real jobs that can actually pay the bills, and it’s joyful and hopeful—an attempt to seize the moment and connect in a disaffected world–but it’s sad, too.

Rent’s most famous song, “Seasons of Love,” begins:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

Again Larson tries to wrap his head around the passing of time, re-characterizing it with unusual measurements (30/90, 525,600, cups of coffee, love) that perhaps allow him to get a grip on its slippery, unstoppable nature.

The reprise then asks, “How do you figure a last year on earth?”

This is not to say that Larson somehow knew he would need to make the most of his short life—after all, his musicals are set in the age of AIDS, when for many people in the New York arts world days were numbered. Instead, since I’m wowed by the passion and creativity bursting from his work, I see him as someone who acutely felt the crush of the future because he had so much he wanted to accomplish.

Rent and Tick, Tick…BOOM! are firmly rooted in a place and a time and a moment; it will always be New York City at the end of the millennium, and Larson will always be a struggling young artist. I only wish that he’d lived long enough to experience other times and moments, and write musicals about those, too.

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When books cause break-ups

March 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm (Uncategorized)

Liz just sent me this great article from the New York Times: “It’s Not You, It’s Your Books.”

It talks about how a (potential) significant other’s taste in books can be a turn-off or deal-breaker, and, since I’m a sometimes-judgmental bookworm, it totally resonated with me.

Also, one author says: “I do know people who almost broke up” over “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen: “‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’” (I’m firmly on the brilliant side.)

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Fierce! and funny

March 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Uncategorized)

 christian_siriano.jpg

On Saturday, Saturday Night Live had a skit about Project Runway winner Christian and a new make-over show for Bravo. Amy Poehler’s impression is dead-on, although I don’t remember Christian saying “tranny” at all on the show.

I haven’t watched SNL in a few years so I didn’t recognize the other cast members, but the guy who plays Tim Gunn gets his voice dead on.

Watch it here!

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