Blogroll Me!If you are searching for any of the following names -- Elizabeth Reba, Elizabeth Riba, Elisabeth Reba, Liz Reba, Lis Reba, Liz Riba, Elizabeth Ann Reba, Elizabeth Ann Riba, Elizabeth Anne Reba, Elizabeth Anne Riba, Elisabeth Ann Reba, Elisabeth Ann Riba, or Elisabeth Anne Reba -- welcome to my blog. Here's my homepage.
I think one reason I did so well was that the lighting in the theater enabled me to take notes all the way through the production, rather than relying solely upon my post-performance memory.
However, in other shows I've attended, the audience seating area can be pitch black. I've sometimes tried taking notes under such circumstances. At best, they're illegible; at worst, I overwrite the same spot on the page multiple times...
What I need is some kind of notebook flashlight that focuses all its light on the writing surface, in a way that won't distract the people around me.
Anybody know of such a product?
If I were to design one, it would be a clipboard with curled edges.
a cross-section would look like so: (_______________)
My notepad would fit inside the tray, with some kind of rope-light inside the curved sides so minimal light pollution escapes.
The on/off switch would have to be easy and quick, so I could take a quick note and then shut it off again.
But, as far as I can tell, no such product exists.
I'm curious what professional film or theater reviewers use when taking notes.
And, I'm open to suggestions for products which are on the market.
A coyote hopped into a Quiznos sandwich shop in downtown Chicago. The animal looked around quietly among stunned customers, then lay down in a cooler full of juice and soda. The coyote was captured a short time later by animal control rescuers.
[I wish I had the art skills to give him a Warner Bros.-esque sign. Notice he went directly to the energy drink section?]
[T]he company quickly issued a press release quoting Steve Provost, Quiznos' Executive Vice President/Corporate Marketing Officer, as saying: "We've certainly been looking to expand our customer base and appeal to different demographics, and it appears that we have hit a chord with the animal kingdom. This has never happened before; we can only think that [the coyote] must have been attracted to our new Prime Rib on Garlic Bread and its above-average portions of meat. One thing is for sure, this coyote clearly has excellent taste."
According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the coyote has been declared healthy and released into the wild, though:
It was not a completely clean get-away. The coyote slammed into a plastic mesh fence before bouncing away and dashing into the brush.
Oh, in my previous entry, I meant to include the example Kertzer provides of Pope Pius IX's alleged sense of humor:
[Historian J. Derek] Holmes cites the Pope's encounter with a group of Anglican clergymen at which he blessed them -- in a variation on the blessing over incense at the Holy Mass -- with the words: “May you be blessed by Him in whose honour you shall be burnt.”
The Mortaras were a Jewish family living in the Papal States during the mid-19th Century. When their infant son Edgardo fell ill, a Catholic servant-girl secretly baptised him. The Church found out, and took the child away to be raised Catholic. As Kerter explains:
What was striking about the case was not the forced baptism and the taking of the Jewish child from his family, but the fact that, after centuries in which such events happened regularly, the larger world finally took an interest, finally rose in protest.
It can be argued (and Kertzer does, persuasively) that the public outrage over this incident helped catalyze the unification of Italy.
Chapter 8 profiles Pope Pius IX and his close advisor, Cardinal Antonelli. Something about the way Kertzer characterizes the men reminded me of Bush and Cheney. [The book was published well before they took office, so it can't be intentional on the author's part.]
A few excerpts:
About the pope:
Even his sympathetic biographer Roger Aubert writes that the future pope's education was limited, and that "in history, canon law, and even in theology his notions would always be superficial."
[H]e was not by temperament or ability particularly suited for a diplomatic career
The task he saw before him was that of reestablishing the prestige and power of the papacy.
The battle involved not only police, soldiers, and courts; it was waged on ideological terrain as well.
August Haler, a heterodox Swiss priest and scholar ... paints an unflattering picture of a credulous, superstitious, and mean-spirited bigot. Nor does Hasler have kind words about the Pontiff's intelligence.
[H]e concluded that papal rule could survive only if absolutist methods were reimposed
Fending off a legion of critics, Antonelli succeeded in centralizing in his own hands all power over the Papal States' domestic administration and its diplomatic relations, preventing other government ministers from making decisions without his approval.
The hatred inspired by Antonelli is nicely captured by a secret report of Britain's representative at the Vatican, Odo Russell, written in January 1860. ... Russell concluded with the observation that the Cardinal "has complete control over the amiable but weak mind of Pius IX."
[According to an] Italian historian from earlier in the twentieth century ... "He was cold, egotistical, a schemer."
Policy-wise, the pair spent much of their tenure trying to expand papal power, and that combination of overreach and inflexibility led to their eventual loss of temporal power.
A TNR review of the book described his tenure thus:
For all his innovative ideas at the start of his papacy, Pius IX is known today as one of the most retrograde pontiffs of the century, a petty man cloaking deceit behind piety and self-pity. That the papacy declared itself infallible at around this time is a measure of how obstinate and beleaguered was the priest at the helm.
What do you think? Sound familiar, or am I just reading too much into it?
*blink* Cats are strange. And maybe smarter than I know.
So, Boopsie was standing by her food bowls (plural -- since she's been sick, there are a half-dozen bowls with a half-dozen different kinds of human food in them to try to tempt her to eat), looking up at me expectantly. I kept refilling different food bowls with different things, and she'd wander over to them, take a tentative lick, then look back up at me.
Finally, I walked over to her meds, got her Pepsid tablet (the vet put her on heartburn medication), popped her jaw open and dropped the pill down her throat. And Boopsie walked directly over to her food bowls and started eating.
So, it sure looks like she knows "THIS pill makes my stomach hurt less so I can eat." Weird, hunh?
William Shakespeare wrote "Titus Andronicus," the critic Harold Bloom has argued, as an over-the-top parody of Christopher Marlowe. We're not meant to take its rivers of red blood and oceans of purple metaphor seriously, Bloom asserts; it's all a big, gory joke -- so silly, he concludes, that he wouldn't see it again unless Mel Brooks were directing.
Harold Bloom calls it "this poetic atrocity" ... In Bloom's view, Titus Andronicus, which was first published in 1594, is "exploitative parody, with the inner purpose of destroying the ghost of Christopher Marlowe" in the young Bard.
To this, Ian replied:
I feel that a great deal of modern dramaturgy in Shakespeare is specifically dedicated to making Harold Bloom look like an idiot. A goal which I support, except that it's so easy since he does it himself.
A Shakespearean dramaturg of our acquaintance agreed...
Though there is a nasty power evident throughout the text, I can concede no intrinsic value to Titus Andronicus. It matters only because Shakespeare, alas, undoubtedly wrote it, and by doing so largely purged Marlowe and Kyd from his imagination. A remnant of Marlowe lingered, just long enough to help spoil King John
If Bloom truly sees no value in the play, then that's his failing, because I've enjoyed every version I've seen to date (as well as the production of King John).
Even the emo teens writing fanfic can learn to differentiate between subjective "I don't like it" and objective evaluations of quality.
Titus and King John may not be Shakespeare's best plays, but they're hardly devoid of merit.
Why does Harold Bloom have such a great reputation? Is it just publicity, or is he just coasting based on some early success?
I don't entirely know what's wrong with Boopsie, but lately she's preferring liquid to solid food.
Among her favorites are:
the liquid canned tuna is packed in, and
the liquid in gefilte fish jars (not so much the gel).
These are things that people normally drain away to get to the real food.
So, if anybody in the Boston area is opening a can of tuna or jar of gefilte fish, could you set aside the liquid for our kitty?
And let us know so we can try to make arrangements to pick it up?
I realize I should've asked for the gefilte fish broth before the seders, but hopefully better late than never.
[I'm tempted to call local delis (or my company cafeteria) to see if they'd be willing to provide a larger-scale supply until (hopefully) this new med kicks in and she regains her appetite.]
Update/Clarification: I'm not asking anyone to specifically open a can or jar for our cat, but if you're already planning on opening something for your own meal and don't have other plans for the liquid, set it aside.
An important directorial decision on Gammons' part is the consistent use of anachronisms. The choice is evident in the costumes, which are designed by Anna-Alisa Belous; for a story that is originally set during the fall of the Roman Empire, the actors wear modern suits and dresses. They also use flashlights, a chef's costume, and paper airplanes to various effects, bringing a much-needed comical element to the second act.
You may not have known this, but Shakespeare's theatre company spent more on costumes than it did on scripts.
Costumes were an extremely important part of the theater experience. Properly-chosen clothing conveys important insight into the character.
Ideally, that's true of all plays and movies, but I find it especially important in Shakespeare, where the archaic language can be distancing.
That's one of the reason I'm not so enthralled with slavish attempts at aping period costume, such as Pacino's Merchant of Venice. As Hollywood costumer Louise Frogleyexplained:
“If you think of the clothes as being a language, you couldn't be more fluent in your own time. In period film, you're learning the language as you go along.”
[View the entire slideshow for some useful examples of this in recent films.]
So, while attempts at "authenticity" make for an interesting exercise, it can actually detract from audience understanding.
To illustrate the importance of well-chosen costumes, I've created and clothed some avatars in Meez to represent the four lovers in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
The costuming is an approximation of something I saw several years ago by Commonwealth Shakespeare's Youth Company -- one of the best examples I've seen in terms of differentiating among these characters.
A Midsummer Night's Dream features two girls:
Hermia is pursued by two suitors.
Helena has an unrequited crush on a guy who doesn't love her. While she's on friendly terms with Hermia, she also is jealous of the other girl's popularity.
Quiz: Which image represents Hermia, and which is Helena:
Now, that doesn't quite prove my point, since I made some tweaks to their faces as well as costumes. The only facial change between the guys is hairstyle.
Lysander is the guy Hermia loves, though her father disapproves of him.
Demetrius is the guy Hermia's father prefers. He's also the one Helena's fallen for.
Quiz: Identify which is Lysander and which is Demetrius:
When you've had enough, click here to see the couples correctly paired:
Actors' Shakespeare Project has begun a relationship with Harvard's Hyperion Shakespeare Company. ASP's Artistic Director Benjamin Evett will direct Hyperion's production of Romeo and Juliet, to be performed outdoors on April 27 and 28 at Adams House and May 5 and 6 at Kirkland House.
Don't forget, ASP has added a fourth production to this season: Love's Labour's Lost, featuring a six-person cast directed by Ben Evett. May 29 - June 24
ASP has also announced their 2007-2008 season, consisting of four plays:
Macbeth, with an all-female cast,
Henry V, with a five-person cast,
The Tempest, marking the return of King Lear director Patrick Swanson, using "a cast of nine within the framework of a music hall magician and his bag of tricks" and
King John, directed by Benjamin Evett and with the full acting company.
I've got a half-dozen more announcements to post on bard_in_boston, and I've been meaning to read an essay by James C. Bulman that I found in the BPL ("Queering the audience: all-male casts in recent productions of Shakespeare" in Companion to Shakespeare and performance).
Plus, I owe multiple people email replies and I've fallen completely behind in my friends' lives on LiveJournal.
And that's just reading and writing. Doesn't even touch upon other tasks, such as travel planning and some site design I'm working on.
And then there's my paying job.
If I seem less-than-timely, it's not for lack of trying. Ping me if you need something in particular from me. [Except you guys, Mom and Dad. I know what I need to do for you.]
But at least I got my review written before Chag... :)
"I've always had a thought maybe that I might have been Shakespeare in another life.
"I don't really believe that 100 percent, and I don't really care about Shakespeare, I've never been into Shakespeare, but then people are constantly bringing up all of these qualities in my work that mirror Shakespearean tragedies and moments and themes.
"People have written lots of pieces about the parallels of my work and Shakespeare.
"I remember in the case of Reservoir Dogs, writing this scene where the undercover cop is teaching Tim Roth how to be an undercover cop, and when the actors came in to rehearse it, Harvey Keitel read it, and he thought I had just taken Hamlet's speech to the players and broke it down into modern words.
"I'd never read Hamlet's speech to the players."
Titus Andronicus is the Shakespeare play most often compared to Tarantino's works, so naturally this has stuck in my mind.
Professor Jonathan Bate, editor of the Arden editions, explicitly calls it "Shakespeare's Quentin Tarantino play."
Even ASP's described it as "plug[ging] into the same taste for sensation as Kill Bill."
Unfortunately, the only work I've seen of Tarantino's is Pulp Fiction (I'm a bit squeamish about violence) so I can't really judge. Though this 2005 essay finds further analogies. Anybody else care to offer some insight?
In The Shakespeare wars, Ron Rosenbaum argues that one of the things that sets Shakespeare apart from other literature is its "bottomless" nature. One can see the same play over and over again, and continue to find new meaning.
Last November, the Wellesley College Shakespeare Society staged Titus Andronicus in a mythic American West, stripping away the veneer of civilization to show how both sides were capable of equal savagery.
Although shades of grey dominate the set and surroundings, Actors' Shakespeare Project seems to view the play more in terms of the difficulties experienced by veterans trying to reintegrate into society. The aspects of the story that Wellesley emphasized are also there, but more as an undertone than the central focus.
Dost thou not perceive that Rome is but a wilderness of tigers?
ASP's Titus Andronicus is directed by David R. Gammons, who previously worked on the company's highly-acclaimed King Lear. And similarities are evident. Like Lear, the nontraditional venue has been rededicated to the play for the run. In this case, the space is 38 JFK Street -- former home of Revolution Books, between the Garage mall and the 7-11. You must descend a flight of stairs to reach the stage (contact the box office if you need a wheelchair accessible entrance), but once there, you're in ASP's environment.
The walls and ceilings have been painted an industrial gray, with tigers stencilled at various vantage points. The walls appear cracked, some ominous reddish stains (rust? blood?) providing the only color. Seating surrounds the stage -- a platform nearly bare except for a ring of rocks -- and ropes dangle from odd corners.
Ambient noise, and occasional announcements with the tinny resonance most often associated with bus terminals, further set the mood before the lights dim and the cast finally enters. Speaking of which, the lighting effects are superb. The dawning sun rises through a window so effectively, you forget you're underground.
O Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's face
The other major directorial innovation in this production is staging it with an all-male cast.
John Kuntz as Tamora, the Goth queen, surrounded by her sons:
As is well-known, women didn't act in Shakespeare's England. Female roles were played by adolescent boys. Titus makes a good choice for such crosscasting, as there are only two major women's roles (plus a nurse who has ten lines in one scene). But both "women" are captivating whenever they're on stage.
John Kuntz demonstrates presence as Tamora, who rises from war trophy to Empress.
But the true test of crosscasting is Lavinia, who is a victim of violent rape midway through the play. Could a man make those scenes effective, rather than ridiculous? My concerns were heightened because I'd never seen Paul Melendy act before (as far as I'm aware).
If anything, Lavinia's breakdown seemed all the more terrible being portrayed by a man.
At first, I wondered whether the actors might have been overdoing their characters' vulnerability -- making a greater effort to act "feminine" than an actress might.
Aside from the film Stage Beauty:
Ned Kynaston: I have worked half my life to do what I do. Fourteen boys crammed in a cellar... Do you know when I was in training for this profession, I was not permitted to wear a woman's dress for three long years, I was not permitted to wear a wig for four - not until I had proved that I had eliminated every masculine gesture, every masculine intonation from my very being. What teacher did you learn from? What cellar was your home? Maria: I had no teacher, nor such a classroom. But then, I had less need of training.
But then I recalled something Joss Whedon revealed about his technique. To make a threat even more menacing, show the tough guy terrified of it. He was speaking in terms of Jayne Cobb's reaction to Reavers in Firefly/Serenity, but it's something he's used in Buffy and Angel as well.
So, yes, the rape scene is harrowing -- moreso because the victim has corded muscles and hirsute legs. Furthermore, men's chests are less sexualized in our society, giving the production more freedom to rip Lavinia's dress from her shoulders, further exposing her vulnerability.
Robert Walsh plays the title character, and he's so well-suited to the role that I predicted his casting when the company first announced the production. He previously played Brutus in ASP's Julius Caesar, and there were definite resonances between the roles, raising questions of honor and nobility. I also saw echoes of Lear as Titus descends into madness.
Other standouts included Joel Colodner as Marcus Andronicus and Dmetrius Conley-Williams as Aaron. The latter delivered Ian's favorite line in all of Shakespeare (IV,2,1765) with perfect relish.
Why dost thou laugh? it fits not with this hour
Although Titus is known as one of Shakespeare's bloodiest plays, the director has commented that he became "more fascinated ... with a different bodily fluid -- tears."
And that emphasis is definitely noticeable, particularly in the first half. The Andronici suffer more trials than Job, and as the play progresses, their orderly world unravels (reflected in the set design).
The violence in Titus eventually gets so over-the-top that lesser companies can lose control of the audience. In this and other Elizabethan dramas, I sometimes lose my suspension of disbelief and wind up laughing at the most inappropriate scenes.
But ASP managed to rein that in. In one of the scenes which can sometimes become silly, (III,1,1319) Robert Walsh's sheer raw emotion kept the focus on the dramatic.
After the first half of the play ratchets up the tension, intermission is followed by a scene that's intentionally funny, providing safer outlets for all that emotion. Titus Andronicus is both tragedy and farce, and ASP managed to balance those elements without letting it either overpower the other.
And the deaths in the final act (shouldn't be too much of a surprise -- this is a Shakespearean tragedy) reminded me of the powerful assassination scene in their Julius Caesar, which I described as "disturbingly effective." [The program credits Adam McLean as "Violence Design" rather than listing a more traditional fight choreographer, and he did an admirable job.]
I could go on, but I'll spare you my praise for the most effective handling of the "loathsome pit" and our analysis on the use of rocks and ropes, and other directorial details that particularly impressed.
Suffice it to say, this production deserves a rousing hand of applause.
Fallen magnolia blossoms litter the rose garden lawn outside the the Oval Office at the White House in Washington April 1, 2007. The White House dismissed on Sunday a possible U.S. Senate compromise to allow testimony by officials over the firing of federal prosecutors, which has embroiled President George W. Bush's administration in controversy and led to calls for his attorney general to quit.
Isn't that nearly poetic?
Flower blossoms fall
Littering the White House lawn
Bush aides stay silent
Mind you, the article makes no futher mention of the foliage outside this photo caption. The rest of the story is pure politics. Still, can't let a picture like that go to waste...