Posts Tagged ‘Local Theater’

Book Report

August 11, 2016

Noodle as Editor

I’ve finished five books of late, and I’m patting myself on the back.  So many periodicals arrive daily that I found I wasn’t finishing the books I’d purchased.  So I have made the effort and here is my report.

A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman:  This is an English translation of a current Swedish bestseller.  It’s a marvel of sweet and sour.  Ove is the sour.  His works are the sweet.  Very dark humor is pitched perfectly for some hilarious moments.  A woman friend recommended this and it got snatched away by my wife midway through my own reading.  I finally pulled hard enough to get it back, and it was worth the effort.

The book is pumped with warmth, infused like steam heat, perhaps because we are in cold Sweden.  It is not sentimental.  Every feeling is earned honestly.  But the book seems of a type with some other current bestsellers which are cooked with a lot of cream.  Rather than thin soup, we are fed a rich bisque.  Not something you would want to have every day, but which can mark off a fine experience.

I wonder at the irony of a story coming from such a PC culture, of a hero who is so anti-PC, swimming in a bisque of such creamy texture.  The feeling function is highly prized in this one.

https://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Ove-Novel/dp/1476738025/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470935877&sr=1-1&keywords=a+man+called+ove+by+fredrik+backman

“Ralph Marlowe” by James Ball Naylor:  I was driving through the rural town of Malta, Ohio to the town of McConnelsville, Ohio just across the Muskingham River, to attend a concert by Marty Haggard (Merle’s son).  I noticed a small historical marker.  It marked the town of Malta as the home of the writer James Ball Naylor, who wrote this bestseller circa 1900.  The story takes place downriver in the town of Stockton and concerns a young man on the lam from a bad experience who takes up with the irascible town physician, first as the pharmacist and then as his partner physician.  There’s a lot of stock characters, (though they are ‘taken from life’), whose rustic tales leave one wanting.  But the narrative has drive and the lead character, as the whole menagerie admits, is a natural leader.  He’s a pretty stiff fellow though, a hair-splitting moralist – but by the books end, I closed it on good terms.

https://www.amazon.com/Ralph-Marlowe-Tribute-James-Naylor/dp/0983234272/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470935997&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Ralph+Marlowe+by+James+Ball+Naylor

“Excellent Women” by  Barbara Pym:  Her name keeps popping up here and there in my reading, so I decided I had to sample something.  This is a very low key but well written ‘comic’ treatment of the life of an unmarried clergyman’s daughter in immediate post WWII Britain.  The comedy is language prompted and reserved, and the intelligence behind it quite pronounced.  And the through line of the put-upon selfless personality is classic.  No good deed or good person goes unpunished.  If you enjoy hearing the ironic thoughts of a person ignored, even as her companions speak to her, this is your book.

https://www.amazon.com/Excellent-Women-Publisher-Penguin-Classics/dp/B004OYD1QI/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936071&sr=1-2&keywords=excellent+women+by+barbara+pym

“The Mullah’s Storm” by Thomas W. Young:  Okay.  I kept sneaking back to this one when some of the non-fiction I’m plowing away on got too dry.  A plane goes down in Afghanistan with a high value prisoner aboard.  The second in command is left alive along with a female translator to get this Mullah to a safe place.  The Taliban though have other plans.  So has their prisoner.  It’s a hard marching narrative whose author knows those hills and defiles apparently.  The quiet relationship between the narrator and the female translator is the defining interest apart from survival.

https://www.amazon.com/Mullahs-Storm-Parson-Gold-Novel-ebook/dp/0399156925/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936114&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Mullah%27s+Storm+by+Thomas+Young

“Hillbilly Elegy” by J. D. Vance:  After having moved to Appalachia from Seattle, I’ve been doing my due diligence.  This book is right up there, but it doesn’t need my good review.  It’s already made a lot of noise.  The culture he describes pretty much is as I’ve witnessed, save his background being a little further up the scale, over the top and down the other side.

Some local traits, which have particularly ground on me, look to be a culturally wide phenomena from what Vance relates.  Kinship ties trump everything, especially common sense.  And the child rearing is ‘free range’.  Vance relates the tale of one of his uncles when a child was asked to leave a store because he was unchaperoned and playing with the toys inside.  The grandfather and grandmother walked into the store, destroyed toys, trashed the shelves, and threatened the store employee with grievous harm – all because the man had disciplined their son to protect his wares.

This is further up the scale, but spot on in style from what I’ve witnessed.  And if you consider that a person’s closest family member is themselves – you might understand how stubborn and refractory to correction people around here can be.  It’s an ethos which travels across class lines.  You’re fur’ em or agin’ em first.  Later on, if pressed, they might consider an outside perspective – if only to argue against it and to suggest some previously unvocalized injury.  You couple this with gossip and intermingled family trees which span a multitude of generations – and you’ve got fertile grounds for simmering feuds and bad feeling all around.  It certainly doesn’t help fix things!

I’ve been working pretty hard at never meeting any of my son’s friends’ parents.  My son is pretty savvy at social navigating.  I’m not.  But I’m pretty big, 6’8”, and do best when I just keep my mouth shut.  One day my son said while leaving Home Depot, “Dad.  I think that they are afraid of you.”

I nodded.  We were off on the right foot.

https://www.amazon.com/Hillbilly-Elegy-Memoir-Family-Culture/dp/0062300547/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936165&sr=1-1&keywords=hillbilly+elegy+by+j+d+vance

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins:  Okay.  I’m only in five pages.  But my wife swears by it, says it‘s a great read.  And I’m hooked so far…

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Train-Novel-Paula-Hawkins/dp/1594634025/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470936199&sr=1-1&keywords=the+girl+on+the+train+by+paula+hawkins

Meet you at the back cover.

For more ideas, visit:  http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html

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From the Editor’s Perch

January 9, 2013
Between purges, show trials, gulags, and mass starvation, these guys are just...

Between purges, show trials, gulags, and mass starvation, these guys are just…

Bad for Attendance

If you’re part of the disagreement about why staged theater attendance is dropping nationwide, you’re probably not interested in my opinion, but I’ll give it anyway.  It’s the Left Wing.

Live theater has been rocked by technology since the advent of the movies, many, many years ago, and more recently by the home movie market.  But I think there are real parallels between the problems of the American Stage and those of current leading newspapers’ in maintaining their readership in light of the overwhelming growth of online media.  In a recent piece by Keith Windschuttle in The New Criterion, he notes that since a Leftist Cabal has striven to impose its values on a couple large East Coast dailies, (the New York Times and The Boston Globe), their loss of readership as reflected in stock values has gone from $54. in 2002 for the NY Times to $7.80 in July of this year.  And The Boston Globe has undergone a 90 percent fall in value over the past twenty years.  Meanwhile The Wall Street Journal’s circulation has increased 5 percent between 2007 and 2012.  He believes the Lefties have accomplished this loss of readership at the Times and at the Globe in two ways.  By insulting the intelligence of their Conservative readers these newspapers have driven away half of their readership, and by boring their core readership with the ensuing substandard fare, they have also been losing their Left Wing base.  His favorite example is a story in 2005 about a seal hunt in Nova Scotia written by the former NY Times journalist Barbara Stewart.  Here is a portion of what she wrote:  “Hunters on about 300 boats converged on ice floes, shooting harp seal cubs by the hundreds, as the water and ice turned red.”

“The truth is,” Winschuttle reports, “she wasn’t’ even there and did not know that the hunt had been put off for a day due to bad weather.  She knew so well what was required in a story of this kind that she could write it before the hunt had even begun.”

That last paragraph rings so true to the state of our contemporary stage today.  Most attendees of the larger theaters around this town know pretty well what is going to happen before they even go.  Some current shibboleth of the Left will be polished to a bright sheen either by the play, or by the theater’s take on the play.  The Right will have stayed home because they DO have some intelligence.  And the Left will applaud both the play and themselves, that they donated their time and spent their money to support the thing.

Here’s an example of what tickles the enthusiasm of a local theater brahmin.  The Theater Director of Cornish recently spoke to the Northwest Chapter of the Dramatists Guild this past Sunday, where he waxed approvingly regarding a past production of the Intiman Theater which was about the practice of womens’ genital mutilation in Africa.   He exulted that they had full attendance and that there were even women in the lobby with petitions to help support prevention of this practice.  He’s talking about some glory days at the theater before having to be re-organized after declaring bankruptcy.

Now, in terms of full disclosure, I have never supported women’s genital mutilation, nor have I participated in any.  And it doesn’t sound like a sound, prudent ‘best-practice’ to me.  And I understand that this issue probably really pisses off some women, and probably fairly so.  But… is there a real problem with this in the Northwest?  Would I want to attend this play with my wife, or family?  How about with my mom and dad?  Would I like to watch this play by myself?  How many people enjoy discussing genital mutilation, or watching descriptions of it?  Would a cruel, sadistic serial killer enjoy this play?  (Maybe!)  Was this play really such a success, or was it just a success to the ‘True Believers’?   Or was it a glorious chance for the Left Wing supporters of this theater to ‘out’ themselves – and cement their takeover?  And did many in that audience really care about genital mutilation, or is the play mostly an excuse to march out the ‘usual suspects’, to tar and feather them – as my experience would suggest?

The Cornish don went on to say that he probably shouldn’t talk about politics, but since all of us in that room probably agreed…  (I voiced the lone “No.”  And the conversation continued, just like a car does after running over a possum, or one of those Lone Star pickups does after running over an armadillo… when passing through those vast stretches in the Red States.)  The powers of this country, he said, seem to be wanting to separate us into the ignorant and the educated…. blah, blah, blah.

He went on to say that Theater attendance isn’t ALL down.  At the 5th Avenue and Issaquah’s Village Theatre (musical houses) attendance has actually grown.  He thought this might be because of their having the ‘beat’, the ineffable draw of music.

I think it’s because at these ‘musical’ houses the public can still bring their families.  And when with their families, nearly everyone becomes a conservative.  And the 5th Avenue and the Village Theatre know enough to respect this.  They don’t alienate their audience.

But, as far as I can tell, our Cornish don still remains among the ignorant.

Photos taken unattributed from the Internet

Seattle Celebrity News!

September 12, 2012

Ollie’s Day Out has found it’s legs in actor Arthur Goodman

OLLIE Keeps Going!

Actor Arthur Goodman, who played the role of OLLIE BROWNSTONE in The Dangerous Theater’s production of Ollie’s Day Out recently, likes the play so much he’s touring it to the “over 55” communities in his Denver area.  So – to the delight of his contemporaries – our OLLIE, spindly 84 year old legs, pee stains and all, continues to teach that younger man PAUL a thing or two about talking to a blonde in a bar!   And Actor Arthur Goodman seems to relish the job.  Arthur reports that the play has been “greeted with enthusiasm”.   And he plans to keep performing it.

With 3 actors and one minimal set, Ollie’s Day Out, is a breeze to travel – with a role any elderly thespian with an urge to perform can chew their way through.  Plus, you get to woo a lovely young woman every evening and drink!  If you’re an elderly actor who’s still able to hobble up onto the stage – and hasn’t kicked the urge – this could be the play vehicle for you.  Just contact our office here at Seattle Celebrity News! for script rental and arrangements.  Our secretary is standing (well, sitting, kind of…) by.

Eager to take your calls!

Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

February 23, 2011

Rik Deskin 

Artistic Director of the Eclectic Theater / Manager of the Odd Duck

It’s the small, inexpensive rental venues around town which are the cracks from which much of the newly created local theater sprouts.  The Odd Duck, on Capital Hill, has a long history of being such a place.  It’s a cheap enough spot where you can afford to try virtually anything.  Currently, Rik Deskin, manages the Odd Duck… besides Acting, Directing and Being a Family Man.  This keeps him very busy and at the intersection of much of what is currently happening on the Seattle Fringe Theater scene.  So, he’s an interesting interview.  In this first section we talked a little bit about his comedy roots, and current theatrical aspirations.

What’s a sketch?  (one minute) 

“Sketch comedy is probably the weakest thing on the Seattle Theater scene,” Rik says.  “Ideally, what I would like to see…” (one minute)   

“The Comedy Workshop is where my roots are.”  (2 min. 30 sec) 

Photo by Carl Nelson


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