New York Times theatre critic fails to Spot the Reference?

In his review of the new production of The Bacchae, starring Alan Cumming as Dionysus, Charles Isherwood compares Cumming’s appearance to Shirley Temple and Boy George, missing (or ignoring) the obvious debt to The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s Frank N Furter. So when Isherwood writes that the production’s “insistent playfulness makes the transition to the horror of the final scenes troublesome,” I wonder if he’s watching the same play that I’d be seeing. (The use of pop R&B songs written for the production increases my sense that this production owes more than a little to Rocky Horror.)

In other words, if I magically end up with a couple of extra hours one night in New York, I’d love to see this. (Aw, crap, it ends on the 13th, several days before I make it to New York.  Maybe I come down from Connecticut over the weekend? Anyone in New York want to see this next Friday night?)

Tokyo tourism details

The following is an e-mail I sent to one of my co-workers, heading to Japan. I’m recording it here so that I can find it if I ever need to do so, as the corporate e-mail system has eaten it before. “The Hotel” is the Royal Park Hotel, which is right next to TCAT.

Continue reading

Dog-Free Floors in Apartment Buildings

While I like dogs, my wife doesn’t: she grumbles when neighbors’ dogs disturb her with their barking, and she’s a touch nervous around larger, more ferocious-looking specimens.

I wonder if some apartment buildings limit dogs to certain floors. It’s more forgiving than blanket permission, but also gives people who prefer to be dog-free some choices as well.

One line to rule them all…

Lately, at the QFC near my apartment, I’ve taken to checking out in the self-checkout line, even though I despise it on principle: I prefer the modicum of human interaction in the regular checkout line — I stopped to say hello to a cashier tonight, one I’ve known since I moved to Seattle nearly three years ago — and because I don’t like the idea that automation will be a wage-supressing bargaining chip come contract negotiation time. I further object to the notion that the store is saving money but not giving me an additional discount.

Moreover, people are much slower at checking themselves out than an experienced cashier is. Oodles more slow.

So why do I stand in that line, then, with the inherent inferiority?

Because it’s one line to four registers: even if each person checking out is a third the speed, and the line is the same length as the others (it’s frequently shorter), I still save time.

One line for all of the cashier-managed registers (a la Fry’s and the Post Office) would have me back there in no time. Of course, that’s fine with QFC.

PowerPoint Slams

It’s like poetry slams, but for hip, with-it Silicon Valley manager types. Maybe “Jargon Watch” style slang for long conferences with back-to-back presentations, like Sales conferences or Demo-oriented conferences.

(Tip of the hat to my co-worker Ron Dubois, from whose mouth the term came.)

Absolutism is the New Relativism

In an eye-opening article in Slate, Fred Kaplan writes that Condoleezza Rice “invokes her academic credentials to evade responsibility for decisions that she’s made or for policies that she’s helped devise.” More specifically, Rice argues that as a student of history, she has learned that far-future consequences are unforseeable, that the now-seemingly-negative may turn out to be positive, and vice-versa — and that, because we can’t predict how her decisions will be judged in thirty years, a hundred years, or a thousand years, we must not judge them today, either.

This may strike many people as both eminently true and eminently indefensible; after all, we still have to make decisions, and build on those decisions, even if we can’t know what our great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren will think, even if our goal is to make choices that will enable those distant descendants to exist and to thrive.

To me, the interesting aspect of her comment is that her eschatological objectivity (in The End, we can and will know) brings Rice and her fellow conservative academics to the same place as the radical subjectivity of their left-wing postmodern academic opponents in the culture wars, a position for which the postmodernists were soundly spanked by the good upstanding believers in absolute, objective reality.

Of course, the news isn’t that people engaged in politics (even academic politics) pillory their opponents for things that both sides do for opposite reasons. The news (if such an aphorism can be news) is that the poet was right: extremes meet.

There oughtta be a word…

… it’s not notorious, exactly, nor is it infamous. It is a work of art or cultural phenomenon that is wrongheaded and odious, but either incredibly influential or perfectly evoking the zeitgeist. Examples may be, depending upon your political and/or artistic persuasion, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Moore, Robocop, Magnolia, Lydia Lunch, Paris Hilton, Duran Duran, or KISS.