Monday, January 21, 2013

Diamonds are not

this girl's....

Ugh, never mind. From Saturday's L.A. Affairs--
A sorority may be an unlikely place to develop an aversion to engagement rings. In fact, I may have been the only sorority girl on the planet turned off by ritualized diamond envy. Sorority girls would gather in a circle, sing the sweetheart song and pass around a lighted taper adorned with baby's breath and roses. No one knew who was engaged until the bride-to-be revealed herself by blowing out the candle. Squeals, gasps and tears followed.
 Read the rest here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

This is a nice

find. Saw this on Pop & Hiss.

Mark Swed didn't like Angels in America

at the LAPhil as much as I did, it seems. His LATimes review is hung up on this whole Bartok theme he chases after, but he also thinks composer Peter Eotvos focuses too much on alienation--
[W]here Kushner shows that we are all in this together, Eötvös keeps us apart, zeroing in on the loneliness.
In an adaptation of a play where two of the main characters run out on their ill partners and both the angels and the country of the play's title are abandoned by their deity, that doesn't seem all that illegitimate a take.

That said, I wasn't exactly enraptured by the adaptation. The coherence of the narrative takes a back seat to the music, particularly in the 2nd act, where any attempt at getting the story across is more or less abandoned. Hannah shows up in the last scene with Prior but I don't think we ever see them meet; Joe and Harper disappear without any explanation. I was disappointed in this, particularly after finding the 1st act relatively successful at distilling Millennium Approaches.

Still, I admire the intelligence of the interpretation, and the way the composer and librettist (his wife, Mari Mezei) marry the music with the aspects of the text they most want to emphasize. The program notes point out the composer's emphasis on dreams and hallucinations, which comes across well in the stately, eerie, unsettling music. It slows down a drama that's effective at its speediest -- the propulsive speed of the split scenes, for example, takes an uncomfortable pace in the opera. It's jarring, but it also gives the scenes a literally nightmarish quality. The audience watches events occurring in a halting, unstable rhythm, out of time, out of sorts, dreading the inevitable outcome.

The emphasis on visions also highlights so many parallels in the material that just remind me of what a rich, textured piece of literature Kushner's plays are. From the literal dream/hallucination mash-up between Harper and Prior, to the fever dreams of Prior and Roy, the visions are drug-induced, or plague-induced. They're religion, they're escape, they're punishment. But what they provide, both to the characters and the audience, is a confrontation with mortality, and with the comforting (Mr.) Lies our national and/or religious narratives have been peddling us for the whole of history. Again, loneliness in the face of such revelations doesn't seem too far off the mark.

The headline of his LATimes review is "A lonely feeling from Eotvos' opera 'Angels in America," and that resonates nicely for me, as my favorite scene in the presentation is a duet between two runaway spouses, the terrified Louis Ironson and the closeted Joe Pitt, one feeling unworthy of being touched, and the other thinking he's damned for wanting to touch him. Here are the pertinent lines from the scene in the first play; the opera paraphrases more, but gets the gist--
LOUIS: I think, if you touch me, your hand might fall off or something. Worse things have happened to people who have touched me. [...]

JOE: I'm going to hell for doing this. [...]

LOUIS: I've never made it with one of the damned before.
     I would really rather not have to spend tonight alone.

JOE: I'm a pretty terrible person, Louis. [...] I don't think I deserve being loved.

LOUIS: There? See? We already have a lot in common.
In fact, thinking back to the opera, I love the way it pared down this text. You get the essence of the scene -- two isolated men, unworthy of love, sinking into each other, looking for solace, finding a connection in their self-hatred. Even as they connect, the loneliness never really escapes them. They're too damaged by their mistakes, their histories, their religions, their societies. The scene was the most painfully intimate and heartbreaking moment in the whole evening. And it was gorgeous. Maybe this is too European a vision for such a great American play, but it's right there in the brilliant text.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I'm much more charmed

by Victor Garber's coming out. Because how was Victor Garber not out?
He seemed surprised by the question but said: “I don’t really talk about it but everybody knows."
 P.S. I love you Victor Garber.



Jodie Foster.

Oh L.A. Affairs

What do you want to bet--
I pride myself on my instincts. I can tell my roommate is avoiding her chores by her walk. My predictions of early television cancellations are always on the money. My personal mantra is "I know," and when I'm sure, I'm sure.

After my first date with Greg, I know that I've met the right person.
--that he never calls her again?

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 07, 2013

I joked with Rob

on Facebook that I shed the Tarantino-loving virus somewhere in the Kill Bill era, but I seem to have caught it again with Django Unchained. That movie is astounding.

One bug I have yet to catch is this Downton Abbey flu. I can stand 30 minutes max before I'm out like a light. JW is obsessed, and I really do try, believe me. Everything about me (BA in English, dramatist, gay) points to "Downton Abbey fan." I must have some kind of rare immunity.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

L.A. Affairs remembers

that gay people live in Los Angeles. And are targets for "95% straight" felons with nefarious motives, apparently.
Evan tells me he has a felony conviction for stealing a car and that he is living with his 35-year-old, 8 1/2-month-pregnant girlfriend. He tells me he does not like her. He tells me he is 28. He looks 20.
Last call is announced at the bar, and we move out to the sidewalk. Evan kisses me. (That must be the 5%.)
Then he asks me to drive him home to Burbank. Which is a long way from the Sunset Strip, especially when you are transporting a felon.
I've seen too many bad episodes of "Cops" in which someone is driving home their "new friend" and they get pulled over. I know how it works: Suddenly the cop finds out that the new friend is carrying drugs, is a felon and has violated his parole. Then the new friend and I end up in jail.
So instead of a ride, I give Evan $20 to take a cab. It's the best money I've ever spent.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I almost typed this up in the comments on another blog, but I didn't want to give away stuff on other people's blogs that I could give away here instead.

I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago with a talkback from screenwriter Mark Boal after. His line is very journalistic -- "These things happened" is essentially a paraphrase of his response to questions about the morality and politics of the movie. It's both true and feels like an easy dodge, and I've felt torn ever since about whether the movie is actually interested in asking tough moral questions it may not have the answers to, or just trying to tell a strong character story that happens to be about really difficult history. It does both of these things (whether the filmmakers intend it to or not), which is what makes it compelling, but I still found it to be a seriously unpleasant experience. Regardless of its moral or artistic integrity, it made me sick to my stomach.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Chad Griffin

Here's someone Arkansas can be proud of.