Culture postsSunday March 29, 2009
“Mr. Wright's Masterly, Affectionate Vision...”
So if you're near the Two River Theater Company in Jersey in the next week, check out Craig Wright's play “Melissa Arctic,” a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's “Winter's Tale.” And if you're not, at least read Anita Gates' glowing review in The New York Times:
Mr. Wright’s lyrics are a little like Stephen Sondheim’s might be if Mr. Sondheim were stabbed by a ray of sunshine midthought.
And if you're a theater director in Seattle, how about putting on some of Craig's plays already?
We Are Not a Serious Nation
I checked out YouTube for the first time in a long time this morning, saw the shit that passed for shit there, and thought of Gore Vidal: We are not a serious nation. I read a friend’s account of how even at a pizza gathering half the kids were texting other kids rather than talking with the kids present, and thought: We are not a serious nation. I read Paul Krugman’s column in this morning’s New York Times, about how serious our economic crisis is, and how lame the response in Congress has been, particularly from the Republicans in Congress, and thought: We are not a serious nation.
I look at this site and think the same. You do what you do. I try to write about movies seriously but to what end? We’ll see where this goes. Both versions of “this.”
In November I wrote a spirited defense of how “The Daily Show” would fare in an Obama administration but I’m having my doubts now. It’s the economic crisis more than Pres. Obama. Every joke about it, from a guy making millions, and I think: “That shit ain’t funny.” Comedy is, what, tragedy plus time? They’re ignoring time. We’re just wasting it.
I apologize for this post but a blog is about what’s on your mind and this is what’s on my mind. Probably yours, too.
The economy shed 598,000 jobs in January. I knew of three of them.
Edward Hopper's Quiet
Patricia and I finally got down to the Seattle Art Museum to see “Edward Hopper’s Women,” a small exhibit, limited to two rooms, that has been on view since mid-November. I’m of the “I don’t know much about art but I know what I like” school, and I love Hopper. He may be my favorite artist. His paintings feel quiet. There’s a stillness to them, often a sad stillness, but I’d still like to be in them. My favorite in this exhibit, which included maybe a dozen paintings, was “Automat.”
A few years ago, reading Milan Kundera’s“Ignorance,” I realized that the saddest thing in the world to me is loneliness — particularly female loneliness. If men are lonely I often view it as their own damn fault. But the loneliness of women kills me. Here’s the paragraph that did it. Re-reading it now, it doesn’t seem like much, but back then it brought tears to my eyes:
Standing at a bar, she slowly sips a beer and eats a cheese sandwich. She does not hurry; there is nothing she must do. All her Sundays are like that: in the afternoon she’ll read, and at night she’ll have a lonely meal at home.This graph could be describing an Edward Hopper painting. It could be describing “Automat.”
Patricia, meanwhile, loves “New York Movie”: the light on the woman and how lost in thought she is.
The exhibit does a good job of describing how weighed-down she seems, reminding us that, though most of us go to the movies to escape, it’s reality, sometimes grim reality, for those who work there. Me, I love the sliver of black-and-white — the 1939 film — on the left side of the painting. (It’s much more noticeable in person.) It didn’t strike until now but it’s fascinating that the black-and-white world is the escapist fantasy, while the world full of color is the one where we’re heavy with burden. That feels so right (in the painting) and so wrong (in the world).
Afterwards, Patricia and I walked home via Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. It was a beautiful day for the last day of January — low 40s, the sun out, less gray than usual. We passed panhandlers, street performers, black kids selling candy bars. More than usual? It felt like it. It felt like the beginning.
Good-Bye To All That
All of which puts a cap on a year most of us are happy to see leave. Hell, I almost feel like giving it a swift kick as it exits. Take that, you little f--ker.
Some bright spots (Pres. Obama) but otherwise a lot of noise and short-sightedness, entropy and quick, unprecedented collapse. Nobody I know is hurting yet, but some are pinched, and everyone’s wary. We’ve been feeding on stuff we know is bad for us and now comes the price and the wrong people will probably pay it, as wrong people often do.
It’s an arbitrary point we’re crossing, but it doesn’t mean we can’t feel new. So wave good-bye (or swift-kick) 2008. And hello gorgeous.
All Customer-Service Roads Lead to India
Just got off the phone with India. Okay, with amazon.com's customer service department. Should I put "service" in quotes? Yeah, like that.
We all know the game. Tried downloading a song off amazon.com, something millions have done without a problem, but when choosing the application with which to open the .mp3 file, I picked, apparently, incorrectly. At least a pop-up window told me I'd picked it incorrectly. But instead of sticking around to help, the window disappeared. Meanwhile a big thank-you from amazon on my purchase. And the purchase? Nowhere. Just another day in the disconnected neighborhood.
Amazon's "Help" section not only didn't help me locate the file anywhere on my computer, but somehow,while clicking this and that not too carefully, I inadvertently bought another song. One I'd never heard of.
So. Searched for and called their customer service number. Explained the situation in a very hoarse, bronchitis-ridden voice and was informed that they weren't trained for MP3 problems, but they gave me a number to call. That person, too, wasn't trained on MP3 issues but she transferred me to someone who was. Apparently the transfer went all the way to India (more likely: stayed in India) because the dude on the other end had a thick Indian accent. If he's in the U.S. I feel sorry for him because no one will think he's in the U.S.
After I explained the situation (sans the second, inadvertent purchase: too complicated), he said he was sending me an e-mail with instructions and I was to go to the amazon page and refresh it, but his instructions merely led to more questions, which I tried to ask, but which he batted down, initially, with a demand that I not interrupt him. Since his final instructions didn't answer my questions, I asked them. Do I refresh the amazon homepage or the "thanks for purchasing..." page? Do I click on this link in the e-mail? Is refreshing the homepage supposed to do something? Because it did nothing for me.
He: "Sir, this is the last time I'm going to tell you this..."
Really? The last time?
This is how you lose customers. You create a needlessly complex model that contains bugs on common paths and a customer-service department half a world away.
Finally bought the song on iTunes. Time wasted: an hour.