I'm not sure when it happened, but I have become one of those whiny Californians. The other day, I was complaining I was cold. It was 55 degrees. I had on long pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a sweatshirt. When did I lose my New England toughness? And how does that happen? When I lived in Massachusetts, 55 degrees was a balmy spring day. Heck. When I first moved here, I wore shorts all year round.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sadly, I am not writing about the PBS show, of which I have heard many good things. There is also a play of similar name. The author added an exclamation point to help us differentiate. I had assumed that it was inspired by Oliver James'studies on consumption and materialism and I was looking to update the dramatic offerings at our community theater. So, I ordered a copy to read...
Affluenza! is by James sherman. Apparently he has written other acclaimed works. At least, that is what the blurb led me to believe.
A hilarious new play from James Sherman, AFFLUENZA! borrows classic characters from Restoration Comedy like the cuckolded husband, the coquette, the wiley servant, and the fop to create a contemporary comedy of manners. When multi-millionaire, William Moore brings home his new girlfriend, his son and ex-wife are threatened by the potential new heir to the family fortune. Who gets what and who ends up with whom is revealed in this dazzling display of wit and word play.
"James Sherman has created a Moliere play for our times. A clever and delightful piece of theatre." Chicago Reader
"James Sherman's AFFLUENZA! is an impressive piece of work -- a witty balancing act that gets laughs from age-old human foibles as well as our present age of untrammeled corporate greed." The Kansas City Star
"Sherman's vital Americanese displays all of the lightness, gaiety and poetic skill of the French satirist's classic French." The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
I'll admit, I probably ought to have done a bit more homework before ordering a perusal copy. But I was just surfing for recent plays that sounded interesting. Ah, well. Lesson learned.
To be blunt, this play is transparent, insipid, and banal. To be more blunt, I read it while dealing with a stomach bug and IT stank worse. The first thing that made me cringe was when I discovered that the entire play is written in rhymed couplets. Think bad Dr. Seuss impersonation. It is also peppered with references to pop culture and current events. References of this sort are not a bad thing in and of themselves. If they are used as a part of the story, they can be effective; even moving. Most of them here are offhand throwaways. Various politicos, right and left, are name dropped. But the reference is meant for a laugh and nothing more. And given that the laugh is supposed to come after 80 pages of bad poetry, I found it hard to muster. Don't take my word, though. Here is a sampling:
If Affluenza's a new word for you
Please listen 'cause I can give you a clue.
The days, the rich people are quite numerous.
Our poet thinks they're rather humorous.
They look for all the ways they can explore
How to get more. And more. And more. And more.
Except of course, for my Great Uncle Bill.
This is his house. Man, it is such a thrill.
Come in, dear ladies and kind gentlemen
Please notice - You can see Lake Michigan.
Gah! Enough. No more. That is the opening to the show. That's not even half of the Prologue. Then there is the fact that each act is broken up into 'scenes'. Of course, one scene picks up where the previous one ended. And there is no change in location. So, I fail to see the need for scenes aside from making the play feel longer. And it already feels plenty long to me! Then there are occasions where he rhymes a word with itself. And the ones he does this to are not for effect. Nor are the difficult words to rhyme. Here's an example:
How dare you think she's mercenary. Her?
Well, I'll show you. I'm gonna marry her!
Riveting. No, wait. Revolting. To make matters worse, the message is so heavy handed. Everyone in the play except the main character is a greedy materialist. There is no nuance. No subtlety. I hesitate to even call them caricatures, because caricatures usually bear some resemblance to reality.
Perhaps nobody has ever communicated with Mr. Sherman in a language he can understand. I'll revise my review for him.
You probably think that you're clever
Writing a rhyming play? Whatever.
The characters were two-dimensional.
What little humor seemed unintentional.
I get that problems stem from greed
But I knew that ere I saw your screed.
But the part of this lesson that really sucks
Is that learning it cost me eight bucks!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Well. It's started. A calculated e-mail campaign to make us afraid of Obama. It originated with the Washington Times and has spread to the usual suspects. Fox News defended its irresponsible handling of the story by saying that its 'reporters' were merely expressing personal opinions. Here is the lovely email I received this morning:
It was reported that snopes.com confirms the below.
Who is Barack Obama?
Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.
When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya . His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia . Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta . He also spent two years in a Catholic school.
Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is not a radical.
Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.
Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.
Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches.
Note the clever reference to Snopes. This is meant to give the accusations credibility. The link takes you to the home page and leaves you to find the article yourself. If you do find the article, it's here by the way, you'll see it refuted on a point by point basis. I like how they constantly repeat his middle name 'Hussein'. Quick, tell me what Romney, McCain, or Huckabee's middle names are. Anyone? I also like the fact that the word RADICAL is in all caps.
The other worrying thing to me is that they are conditioning their followers to be afraid of certain people based solely on religion. What would be the big deal if a candidate were a Muslim? I'm not talking about an America hating, suicide bomber supporting radical. I'm just talking about a regular Muslim in the same way many people are regular Jews or Christians. They go to Church. They try to treat others well. They do the best they can for themselves and their family. So, why is that a bad thing?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
No, this is not an excuse post about why I haven't posted. That is because I got burnt out. Now I'm burnt in, so I'm back. Last week we had a death in the family. My Great Aunt Ruth passed very suddenly after a short battle with Legionnaire's Disease. It was less than 48 hours from the time sister Sara-Anne told me Aunt Ruth was being checked into the hospital with a high fever until she was gone. She was a very sweet woman who will be missed by us all.
It was especially hard for me because I am so far away. I felt a bit lost. But it also got me thinking about how differently people grieve. I am sad that she is gone, but she lived a good long life and did not suffer or linger. But, for me, the grieving isn't just about losing her. It's also about mortality and the fact that the preceding generations' time is growing shorter. That's a lot to deal with when most of the people you care about are over 3000 miles away. (Don't get your hopes up. It doesn't mean I'm moving back. ;-) ) It's made even harder when the people you live with don't grieve the same way.
She-who-does-things-differently saw my grieving as just moping and wallowing. From her perspective, I was not doing anything about it and she was concerned I was going into a protracted depression. I had something resembling a plan. I didn't share it, but I had one. To her, the way you grieve is by going out and being productive. You feel better by proving to yourself that you can go on and can accomplish things.
My approach is different. I get some extra rest and then I do some mindless activity. I try to process the emotions until it gets too much. Then I go back to the mindless activity. I also found some time to exercise and gave blood. Those were the things that helped me. I'm doing much better this week. But it was a bit tense as I tried to do my thing while getting her to understand.
How do you guys do it?