Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Judging a book by its fans

Books That Make You Dumb: A catchy title for a study someone did to correlate the favorite books of American college students (as listed on students' Facebook profiles) with their school's average SAT score. The top 100 favorite books are listed on the chart.

I am now somewhat embarrassed that I have the two so-called "smartest" books, 100 Years of Solitude and Lolita, both listed on my Facebook profile. What a cliché I am! Though I also have listed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is the 15th "dumbest" book, only barely above "I Dont Read." It surprises me that that book is so low on the list--even though usually classed as children's literature, it's well-written, detailed, a thick and leisurely read--not a dumbed-down "kiddie book." And it's so nostalgic for 1910s-era Brooklyn that I didn't know it would appeal to so many modern college students.

Because these are the 100 favorite books of American students, the list also serves as a way of seeing how mainstream you are, since so many of the books listed (the classics, etc.) are the ones most frequently taught in high schools and colleges. But I discovered I'm not as culturally literate as I like to think, since I didn't even recognize some of the titles on this list...

I have read about 1/3 of the books listed. Of the rest, there are maybe 15 other books that I actively want to read (I need to brush up on my dystopian fiction like Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, as well as those classics-everyone-but-me-read-in-high-school like To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men); the other 50 or so books, I'm not interested.

Honestly, I could spend too much time pondering the mysteries of this book list. Why is Wuthering Heights (#31) so much "dumber" than Jane Eyre (#88)? What does it mean that The Holy Bible is at #9, The Bible is at #48, and The Book of Mormon is all the way up at #71?

Now I want someone to do the same analysis with Favorite Movies and Favorite Music as listed on Facebook, so I can distract myself with even more trivia.

Link found at bookslut.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bawd, Beard, Bard

Ooh, I've fallen behind on my blogging. I saw The Beard of Avon at Portland Center Stage on Tuesday the 15th--now it's the 24th and I'm up to my ears in stuff at Vassar, though it's only the beginning of the semester.

Thoughts on the play before it vanishes from my memory:

I was so excited when I heard that Darius Pierce was going to play Will Shakspere (yes, that's how it spelled). I had a great time working with him last summer on Marie Antoinette and seeing him play King Louis XVI as a put-upon, insecure "little guy." And that's just the way that Shakspere is in Amy Freed's play--not a lofty historical figure, but a provincial farmer who comes to London, his eyes as shiny as his bald pate (but don't mention that to him, he's very self-conscious about it). Darius is very funny but also very sympathetic in these underdog roles. Maybe it's because I'm a writer myself, but I really feel for Shakspere in The Beard of Avon--the little guy with big dreams. The moral of the play, if you will, is "Everything from nothing comes to those who love"--and Shakspere loves. He is, literally, an amateur.

And this isn't the kind of love found in Shakespeare in Love, either--where he only needs a good woman to make his pen start flowing again (how's that for a double entendre?). Writing is never that easy, and The Beard of Avon recognizes that--the struggle to put one's thoughts down on paper, and then, the struggle to see them produced.

Speaking of Shakespeare in Love, Brian Thompson, playing Henry Condel, looks so much like Geoffrey Rush as Philip Henslowe that it had to have been intentional. (Henslowe and Condel were both theater managers of the time.)

The play has lots of fun with language, written in mock-Elizabethan style, and sometimes it goes by too fast--you want to savor the way the words sound and the jokes are constructed. Most of the Shakespeare allusions got laughs, but I was disappointed to be the only person in the entire theater who laughed at "Wilt thou assault me with dramaturgy?" (Maybe it would help if more people knew what a dramaturg does.)

Really, The Beard of Avon is a strong comedy script--using language in interesting ways, amusing you but making you think about things like the creative process, and inspiring at least some members of the audience (i.e. my dad) to want to learn more about Shakespeare. Still, I am bothered by some flaws and inconsistencies: Shakspere is the smartest guy in Stratford but the dumbest guy in London. When Lord Edward De Vere first presents his "beard" scheme to the theater managers (noblemen can't be professional playwrights, so De Vere will find another name to put on his scripts), Shakspere at first seems to catch on quickly. He calls himself "Honest Will Shakspere... trustworthy-to-death Will Shakspere!" as if positioning himself to be chosen as the beard. But two minutes later, he is so dense that De Vere must explain the scheme to him in great detail. It seems like Amy Freed wants to cram in as many jokes as possible, riffing on both the "Shakspere is a frustrated genius!" idea and the "Shakspere is a silly country bumpkin!" idea, but you can't have it both ways.

It was nice to see Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors Catherine Lynn Davis, Ken Albers, and Brent Harris in this Shakespeare-inspired comedy...and after all Portland Center Stage started as an outgrowth of OSF. Davis is funny as Shakspere's put-upon wife, Anne Hathaway, who, in a scene right out of a Shakespeare mistaken-identity comedy, pretends to be a prostitute so that her husband will finally pay attention to her. Albers takes on some smaller roles like another theater manager, Heminge. And Harris plays Edward De Vere, the archetypal world-weary, debauched nobleman. Great fun!

I thought Carol Halstead's British accent was a little too much as Queen Elizabeth, but she has some great scenes where she writes The Taming of the Shrew and then watches it performed (and what a delicious idea on Amy Freed's part! Of course Elizabeth would identify with Kate!). And although it would have been nice to be able to see Twelfth Night, which is playing in repertory with Beard at PCS, I've already seen some great productions of Twelfth Night in my life. So I'm glad I got introduced to a new comedy by this great set of actors, instead.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Juno" and the Gay Talk

One of the nice things about getting older (by which I mean "out of my teens") is that people my age are starting to make a mark in the media, and my generation is developing a voice of its own. I've been thinking about this a lot after seeing the ultra-Zeitgeisty Juno. Director Jason Reitman is 30 years old and screenwriter Diablo Cody is 29. And sure, like many reviewers, I found her quirky dialogue a little too much to take, especially at the beginning of the film. But how great is it that people are actually talking about a movie's dialogue for once? And that this dialogue was written by a female screenwriter?

Even better are the young stars, Michael Cera (19) and Ellen Page (20). Ever since Arrested Development I have loved how Cera does "awkward"--while most "awkward teenage boy" performances just annoy me (cf. Rabbit Hole, 100 Saints..., Doris to Darlene). I think it's because many actors make the mistake of playing these roles as one-dimensional, jittery bundles of nervousness, too shy and sensitive to ever survive in the real world. Michael Cera is different--more understated, less heart-on-sleeve. The actors I dislike simply telegraph "I'm a dork! I'm socially inept!" Cera goes for "I'm trying to be cool, I think it'll work this time...but oh no, did I just do something dorky?" He tries and strives, where other actors just act like losers from the get-go.

Thus, these lines are just so apt--Cera's appeal in a nutshell:
JUNO: You're like the coolest person I've ever met, and you don't even have to try, y'know...
PAULIE: I try really hard, actually.
And Ellen Page is the first actress of my generation that I feel I can relate to. Someone talented and funny (she was hilarious on Letterman) who seems to care about the craft, not the fame or swag bags or clubbing. Someone who got famous because of a small, good movie, not for bad behavior or being a celebrity's daughter or being on a Disney show. I mean, who was I supposed to relate to before this--Hilary Duff? Maybe Evan Rachel Wood was a promising, offbeat role model, until she started dating Marilyn Manson, which is too offbeat even for me. (Ellen, Hilary, Evan, and I were all born in the same year, 1987.)

But I'm also annoyed that the Ellen Pages of this world still have trouble gaining acceptance amongst all the Hilary Duffs. I especially noticed this when I saw on Ellen's IMDB message board about half a dozen threads speculating that she's a lesbian. And OK, "not that there's anything wrong with that," with being a lesbian, I mean.

But I do think there is something wrong with the "reasoning" behind many of these "she must be gay" posts. There is something wrong with saying "judging by her behavior i dont think she digs guys. Lohan/Paris/Britney behavior, shows me they obviously dig guys. i know that sounds twisted, but its the truth" (found here). There is something wrong with thinking that a cute 20-year-old actress must be a lesbian if she isn't in a high-profile, paparazzi-attracting, PDA-filled relationship. There is something wrong with people who comb through every interview Ellen Page has ever given to see if she mentions a boyfriend, and when she does say something like "my ex-boyfriend," dismiss it with a "Well, she probably dumped him when she figured out she was gay!" And there is something wrong with a Hollywood system that presents young gay and lesbian actors with an impossible dilemma: stay in the closet, work 24-7 to quell rumors about your sexuality, and become a big star; or come out of the closet, have everyone praise your courage, but find yourself limited to smaller roles.

People say that Ellen Page sets off their "gaydar" because of her tomboy style, avowed feminism, and "low butch voice." This last accusation especially annoys me, because I like her for her deadpan delivery--a refreshing change from all the starlets who have high-pitched voices cooing Valley Girl uptalk. So do girls now have to sound like airheads in order for people to believe that they are heterosexual? When I and my articulate, feminist, non-trendy Vassar friends are launched into the real world in June, will everyone assume that we are gay?

If Ellen Page is indeed a lesbian, and comes out of the closet while her career is still nascent, I will admire her even more--for being courageous as well as talented and funny. But I also (and maybe this shows that I'm still not as accepting as I'd like) will be slightly disappointed. If Ellen Page is the first actress of my generation that I relate to--and she's also "ponging more gaydar than anyone since Jodie Foster"--then where, as a straight woman, does that leave me?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Itinerary

Mission: To show Chanelle, my housemate from Los Angeles, a good time in the Rose City (she'd never been before). And hope that the weather cooperated!

FRIDAY
6:30 PM. Pick Chanelle up at our pleasant, stress-free airport. Portland makes a good first impression!
8 PM. A relaxing night at home. Big plates of penne with pesto sauce. We watch the first half of the DVD of Vassar's production of Into the Woods from November 2006, which Chanelle hadn't gotten to see (I played one of Cinderella's stepsisters).

SATURDAY
12:30 PM. Willamette Week once said something like "Downtown Portland is just like any other city's downtown; the neighborhoods in Southeast give Portland its character." So we head over to the extremely characterful Hawthorne, and lunch at crêperie Chez Machin. Edith Piaf and indie rock on the sound system.
2 PM. Strolling up and down Hawthorne on a rather pleasant day with a few "sunshowers," stopping in vintage stores. I score a Jackie Kennedy-style sheath dress and matching coat, in light blue shantung. Chanelle picks up some sweaters and scarves. (The Portland girl sees the promise of spring; the LA girl needs to bundle up!)
3:30 PM. Juno at Cinemagic. We loved the movie! Yes, it's self-consciously quirky, but so is much of Portland. Juno's cozy bungalow looks just like the cozy houses in Southeast (though the movie takes place in Minnesota). And her monologue about how "the jocks really want the girls who wear horn-rimmed glasses and read McSweeney's and want to be children's librarians" is my new favorite movie quote.
5:30 PM. There is an hour-long wait at Ken's Artisan Pizza so Chanelle and I browse another vintage store on Burnside.
6:30 PM. Thin-crust pizza and wonderful roasted vegetables.
9 PM. Back at home, we finish Into the Woods, then yak till very late at night.

SUNDAY
11 AM. The weather looks promising, so we make this our outdoor, Columbia Gorge day. In the car, we play the "Portland Trifecta" of bands: The Shins, The Decemberists, Pink Martini. My dad and Chanelle bond by talking about music--like Mark and Juno did in the movie. I am lost throughout much of their conversation.
12 PM. We stop at a few viewpoints along the Old Columbia River Highway; then, Multnomah Falls! Once the most popular tourist attraction in Oregon, it has since been usurped by the tribal casino. Still, I consider it essential visiting. We go up to the bridge and feel the misty spray. Exhibit A that Oregonians love coffee too much: the espresso stand at the base of the falls is doing a brisk trade.
1:45 PM. We go a little further on the old highway, then turn around and zip back to Portland on I-84. A late lunch at Grand Central Bakery--the first really good bakery in Portland, and still consistently high-quality.
2:30 PM. We drive up "Trendy-Third" Avenue and briefly stop in Washington Park, to try to see the Portland skyline from the rose garden. However, the clouds are starting to roll in.
3 PM. At Blockbuster, we rent movies that our film-buff housemate has insisted we watch: Once and The Painted Veil.
3:45 PM. At home, we bake a simple one-layer cake. Chanelle and I love desserts but can't often make them in our apartment at school, since our oven is unreliable and we don't have a mixer.
6:45 PM. Delicious Oregon salmon, barbecued by Dad. And then, The Painted Veil.

MONDAY
11 AM. Now it's time for Downtown Portland. We start at Pioneer Square, as it begins to drizzle. We open our umbrellas in front of "Allow Me," aka "Umbrella Man." Then we pay a visit to Portland's other must-see statue, "Portlandia." (Oh, and on Saturday night we drove past the "Joan of Arc" statue in NE Portland!)
12:15 PM. We eat at the Bijou Café, another Portland institution. Bright and cozy and delicious breakfast food.
1:15 PM. We head through Chinatown for a little ethnic flavor. (Chanelle, being from LA, had definitely noticed the lack of minorities in Portland--not that Chinatown is exactly teeming with Chinese people, either.) Then, into the Pearl District. The first place we go is Portland Center Stage at the Armory--where I worked last summer. Chanelle is fascinated by the historical displays in the lobby.
1:45 PM. My favorite two-block stretch of Portland is Eleventh Avenue between Burnside and Davis. There's PCS, Anthropologie, Mio Gelato, and, of course, Powell's Books. I show Chanelle all around this labyrinthine store and end up buying two things for myself.
2:45 PM. It's raining, dammit--and hard, too, not the usual Portland drizzle. We race across the street to Mio Gelato, get big scoops (Oregon girl that I am, I go for marionberry), and sit chatting and gossiping for a long time, probably annoying everyone else in the café, members of Portland's Creative Class who work silently at their laptops.
4 PM. Still raining. We hurry to the bus stop and take #35 back home, which gives us some misty views of the Willamette River.
9 PM. After relaxing, cooking, and eating dinner, we watch Once (my thoughts).

TUESDAY
11 AM. After Chanelle's things are all packed, we briefly visit downtown Lake Oswego. I exhaust my stock of L.O. jokes and sarcasm.
12:15 PM. Lunch at Saint Honoré Boulangerie, my new favorite, for its très French style and flavor.
1 PM. Time to go back to the airport. Chanelle seems quite captivated by Portland--but how to reconcile her cravings for LA's abundant sunshine with her desire for Portland's more free-spirited, alternative attitude?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A second chance for Conor McPherson

Photo from thirdrailrep.org

Thursday night I went to see the play Shining City, by Conor McPherson, at Third Rail Rep. This company won my approval with their fabulous production of Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West in June 2006 and they are shrewdly advertising Shining City as "Third Rail returns to Ireland!"

The two plays, though, couldn't be more different...and that did give me pause. McDonagh is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights, while McPherson's The Weir sits at the top of my Most Boring Plays Ever Seen list. And though McPherson has won awards and critical acclaim, others criticize him for relying too much on monologues and narrated stories, not on drama. Still, I felt like I should give him another shot before writing him off completely (I was only about 12 when I saw The Weir).

Shining City is about Ian, an ex-priest turned therapist, and John, one of his first clients, who is distraught after seeing his dead wife's ghost in their old house. Throughout the evening, the parallels between the two men become clear--in their confusion and isolation and inability to connect with others. Already, this is a more dramatic premise than the "swapping ghost stories" premise of The Weir.

I'm not sure if Shining City is the most appropriate title for this story, but I liked seeing something that took place in contemporary middle-class Dublin, since most Irish plays I know are set in rural villages. The story's elements of superstition, faith, and religion seem very typically "Irish" to me, but its concerns about the loneliness of urban life can apply to any industrialized country--it's more universal.

McPherson still loves monologues, but at least they are justified here because John is talking to his therapist. And John's monologue is really well-written: it's a funny account of his abortive attempts to cheat on his wife, until, suddenly, it's not funny anymore. Even better, McPherson has written two scenes with actual dramatic conflict in them: one where Ian tries to break up with his girlfriend, Neasa; and another where Ian brings a male hustler back to his office. An actual dialogue where two characters are interacting, their needs and motives shifting, for an extended period of time? Wow!

So I'm no longer so stridently anti-Conor McPherson, having come to appreciate his ability to write both monologues and dialogues. But I still think Shining City is an imperfect play that left me with too many unanswered questions about the characters and the playwright's ultimate point. SPOILERS ahead:
  • Are we supposed to think that Ian is a good therapist, or not? By the end of the play, John certainly seems to have made a full recovery. But during the therapy sessions, Ian never really does much of anything--just listens as John talks. Is this a commentary on the role of the therapist--saying that all we really need is someone to listen to us, and we'll be healed? The dramaturg's note includes an Oscar Wilde quote, "It is the confession, not the priest, that gives absolution."
  • Why does Ian end up doing what he does? The scenes we get of his personal life involve him breaking up with his girlfriend and questioning his sexual identity by hiring a male prostitute. This latter encounter is awkward but, we are led to believe, ultimately successful. Yet in the next scene, Ian announces that he is going back to Neasa, planning to marry her and move to Limerick. How did he come to this conclusion?
  • Furthermore, what drew Ian and Neasa together in the first place? He's a quiet, tweedy ex-priest; she's a barmaid who wears miniskirts and studded belts. They don't seem to have a lot in common.
  • And just why does every priest in a contemporary play have to be confused about his sexual orientation? My friend Lexi and I are getting really sick of this, after seeing Shining City, Doubt, 100 Saints You Should Know...
  • The ghost: real, or metaphoric? And are either of these choices meaningful? (see Michael Feingold's review for more on this). And if Shining City really is just a ghost story, then shouldn't the ghost in the Third Rail production be a lot scarier--the lighting more shadowy and atmospheric when she appears? I heard that on Broadway the audience jumped out of their skin. No one did on Thursday night.
Otherwise, Third Rail's production was good, though I could have done without the extra-long transitions between scenes that broke up the play too much. Why, instead of having perhaps seven minutes (combined) of silent scenes of Ian moving boxes, drinking tea, and reading books, McPherson could have written a seven-minute scene that gave us more insight into Ian's character and the decisions he makes.

Ian must be a very difficult acting assignment because he has 2 scenes where he just sits and listens to John, 2 scenes of intense dramatic conflict, and one scene that sums it all up. Hard to make a cohesive character out of that, and I think I needed to see more subtext from actor Michael O'Connell--which would have answered some of my questions about what attracts him to Neasa, etc. Interestingly, this is the second time O'Connell is playing an Irish priest for Third Rail--he was a memorable Father Welsh-Walsh-Welsh in The Lonesome West (maybe the only priest in a contemporary play who doesn't question his sexual orientation!).

John is also a hard role because he has to be keyed-up and distraught as soon as he steps onstage, as well as hold the audience's attention for a 20-minute monologue. Bruce Burkhartsmeier very much succeeded, though. Val Landrum (Neasa) and Chris Harder (Laurence, the hustler) also created memorable characters in their one scene apiece.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Decoding the 1930s

As I continue revising my play set in 1934, I have to research and consider all kinds of odd subjects. I can spend inordinate amounts of time pondering questions like "What would a 21-year-old theater-loving girl name her new pet cat?"--even though it might seem like a throwaway line of dialogue. (I chose the name "Pandora," if you're curious.)

One of the first things I learned about 1934 was that it was the year the Production Code went into full effect, imposing a new level of censorship on American movies. In my revised draft, I have a scene for 2 characters discussing the Code after they go see a Mae West movie. Oddly enough, as I surfed the Internet while taking a break from writing this scene, I came across an essay by the Self-Styled Siren about the Code and why nostalgia for it is misguided. Go check it out--it, the other stuff she links to, and the long comment thread, is fascinating and thought-provoking. And gave me even more stuff to TRY to cram into my play.

The Mae West movie in my play, by the way, is I'm No Angel (which actually came out in 1933 but I am taking poetic license). I chose it because, in the course of some more research ("research" meaning "random Wikipedia-surfing") I learned that it has a musical number in it called "No One Loves Me Like that Dallas Man." Some of the characters in my play are from Dallas--perfect! And thanks to YouTube, you can see Mae in action:



I learned that even though I'm No Angel is "pre-code," it still came in for some censorship. The original title of Mae's song was supposed to be "No One Does It Like that Dallas Man." I also had trouble understanding some of the lyrics in this film clip, so another source revealed that they are "He's a wild horse trainer / With a special whip." I'm guessing that the censors made Mae hum and "da-da-da" over those lyrics in the final version.

But, to make this song choice even more appropriate, my play already had a whip in it...though I'll leave you guessing as to how!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Epiphanies of all sorts


Sweeney Todd's "Epiphany." Photo from vh1.com

Happy Feast of the Epiphany! This has always been one of my favorite religious holidays, for its name and the promise it brings of revelation and renewal. The Three Wise Men, the star, and the gold, frankincense and myrrh provide it with interesting imagery. And if you're in France, getting to eat delicious almond King Cake (and possibly getting crowned if you receive the lucky piece) is lots of fun, too.

"Epiphany" is also the title of one of the key songs in Sweeney Todd (saw the movie about a week ago, and enjoyed it). The former pastor at my church had a nasal tenor voice and occasionally sang something as part of his sermon. Once, oddly enough, he chose "Not While I'm Around," from that same musical. And if you divorce that song from its original context of a traumatized child singing to a cannibalistic pie-maker to warn her of a mad serial-killer barber, while meanwhile the pie-maker is plotting to kill the child... then yes, it does work rather well in a Catholic sermon. (I think the priest's point was something about God's love and care.)

A little while after that sermon, it was Epiphany. In the foyer after Mass had ended, I again told the priest how much I had enjoyed "Not While I'm Around" a few weeks earlier, then added, "But it's a good thing you didn't sing 'Epiphany' today!"

You know, the song that has one of my favorite Sondheim lyrics in it (oh, who am I kidding, I have about a hundred favorite Sondheim lyrics):
No, we all deserve to die
Even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I
Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief
For the rest of us death will be a relief
The way this quatrain sums up a whole philosophy of life (or rather, of death) is breathtaking. It divides the world neatly into two groups of people--"the wicked" and "the rest of us" who are abused by the wicked--and argues, with chilling logic, that death is the right answer for BOTH groups--it's like the thought process of a religious fanatic. "Yes, I can go on a Crusade, or a suicide bombing mission, to kill my wicked enemies...and if any innocents get killed in the process, it doesn't matter since they'll go straight to heaven!" It is incredibly rich. And all in only 32 words.

Actually, presenting the song in this context, it could form part of a sermon on fanaticism or negative utilitarianism... but otherwise, it's not something you want to hear on Sunday mornings from the pulpit.

But whether you are having an Epiphany filled with gold, frankincense, and myrrh, or more of a "they all deserve to die" Epiphany, I wish you the very best.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Living Cliché

I resemble this more than I would like to admit: John Turturro as Barton Fink

I feel like a bit of a cliché right about now: the struggling writer. The new draft of my play stares me in the face whenever I open up my computer, I'm reading Anna Deavere Smith's Letters to a Young Artist in the hopes it will provide some wise advice, and a few days ago I watched Barton Fink, one of the canonical movies about writer's block.

I liked the movie, but it didn't exactly reassure me. It insists that some people, like Barton, are just destined to be one-hit wonders. Not what I need to hear right now! Not on the day when some people I trust finally responded to me after reading the first draft of my new play--and we all agree it needs a lot of work.

I didn't intend for Barton Fink to parallel my situation like this--I first watched it because I am curious about Clifford Odets and knew the character of Barton was loosely based on him. Also, I'm a Coen Brothers fan--loved their dialogue here, especially the dead-on parody of Awake and Sing! But why the constant need to denigrate Barton? Joel and Ethan, you're writers too--can't you have some sympathy for the guy?

Another maybe-inspirational thing I just read was Wendy Wasserstein's Shiksa Goddess essay collection. Many of the pieces are short, satirical, and past their sell-by date; but others are more serious and valuable, dealing with feminism or playwriting or the arts... The last and longest essay is about the birth of Wasserstein's daughter Lucy Jane, who was born premature and required several weeks in an incubator. Because of this--because Wasserstein is a female playwright--my subconscious mind associated the difficult birth of a baby with the difficult birth of a play. The night after I finished Shiksa Goddess and watched Barton Fink and started really obsessing about my play, I dreamed that I had given birth to a premature baby and was nursing it back to health. I don't doubt that it's a metaphor for my feelings toward revising and nurturing this play.

I'm actually pretty impressed with my subconscious mind for devising this metaphor--it's more truthful than anything my conscious mind has devised lately. I wonder what male writers dream about as they struggle with their work--since they obviously can't dream about pregnancy and birth!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Though it's not quite time for it, we can hear in our inner ear the savage and beautiful noise the town makes at midnight of December 31st. This roar is inaudible if you're in a noisy room yourself. To hear it you have to get to a window, or out on a roof, or in the streets somewhere not too near the core of Times Square. In all life there is no sound like it -- the orectic cry of millions of partially lost souls, grown a year older hating death. A great common sound, full of all the wild wants that lie between a drunken kiss and a child's prayer.
E. B. White, The New Yorker, Dec. 29, 1934