Saturday, June 22, 2013

Greek mythology isn't brain surgery... or is it?

From Rivka Galchen's article on Elmhurst Hospital, The New Yorker, May 13, 2013:
A young, very dark-skinned patient was jogging lightly up and down the hall. His brain appeared to be herniating out of his skull and, indeed, it was, because he had had a portion of his skull removed, with the goal of safely accommodating brain swelling. [...] The swelling goes down; the piece of skull bone, having been stored in the patient's thigh, is eventually returned to its proper location.
So wait. If you have brain swelling, first they cut your skull open, then they store a piece of it in your thigh? OH MY GOD, THIS IS LIKE ATHENA AND DIONYSUS IN ONE.

It's enough to make me want to get a swelled head.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Questions, Reactions, Explorations of Race in Theater (new Theater Pub column)

Who'd have thought that a madcap, farcical comedy would prove to be one of the more controversial plays in New York? But when a Filipino-American actor wrote a blog post revealing that he had been passed over for the role of a "tribal chief" in favor of a white performer, it caused a stir on Facebook and Twitter.

Despite reading the actor's post and thinking I'd probably boycott this play if I ever got the chance to see it, I unwittingly ended up buying tickets to the show, and saw a preview when I was in New York last week.

Of course, I had to write about the experience -- my thoughts, my questions -- for my new Theater Pub column. What should I have done when I realized that I had bought tickets to a play whose casting reflected values that I do not agree with?

Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments of my Theater Pub post. The comments also contain a more straightforward review of the show in question (The Explorers Club by Nell Benjamin) as well as brief thoughts on the other play I saw while in NYC -- Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Decade of Loving Arcadia (and Septimus) @ SF Theater Pub Blog

I am really, really proud of my latest Theater Pub column. In it, I write about seeing ACT's production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia exactly ten years after I read the play for the first time, and having So Many Feelings.

If you've ever experienced a decade-long love for a work of art, wondered if a staged production of your favorite play would live up to your expectations, or just had a massive crush on Arcadia's Septimus Hodge, this one is for you.

I was also glad to finally take the opportunity to write about one of my favorite plays, and my biggest literary crush of all time, at length. Here are some links to other, briefer posts I've written that have to do with Arcadia:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

East Coast Girl (at least for a week)

Tomorrow, I'm traveling to New York for a week to attend my 5-year Vassar reunion (where did the time go?!), catch up with East Coast friends, see some Off-Broadway theater, avoid getting attacked by cicadas... you know, the usual.

There'll probably be no new posts while I'm away (well, except for a link to my new Theater Pub column when it's up). But I do hope to have some fun adventures, and to share them here once I've returned home!

Song for the moment, a.k.a. New Favorite Song: "East Coast Girl" by Cayucas.

When I first heard this song on the radio, a couple of months ago, I liked it a lot, but I also thought "This band sounds like they are trying to out-Vampire-Weekend Vampire Weekend." Turns out I'm not the only person who thinks that: the good people of Pitchfork have come to the same conclusion regarding Cayucas' musical style. Unlike the snooty Pitchforkers, though, I'm not so bothered by the way that Cayucas sounds like a breezier, less substantial version of one of my favorite bands. Music need not be epic or groundbreaking to have value, and it's hard to hate such summery, charming indie-pop.

I bought Cayucas' album, Bigfoot, the week it came out, and listened to it while I was on my way to a hipster barbecue in the Mission District. The sun was shining. I was wearing cut-off jean shorts. I rode the J-Church train past Dolores Park and saw San Francisco's golden youth spread before me, day-drinking and sunbathing on the grass -- full of beauty and promise and entitlement and absurdity. And with Bigfoot playing in my ears, it was a perfect moment.

This isn't to denigrate "darker" or more ambitious music -- in fact, I love the way that Vampire Weekend's new album, Modern Vampires of the City, deals with twentysomething angst and despair and "the nagging pressure to make the most of their finite youth." Goodness knows, I've been feeling a lot of that lately, as the realization "Marissa, you graduated college five years ago" sinks in, deeper and deeper. But sometimes you need an antidote to such negativity: lilting music that speaks of summer fun, a weekend reconnecting with old friends and celebrating the good things that have happened in the last five years.

That's what I hope Reunion will be like, at least.