Archive for the ‘‘Culture’’ Category

Weekend Linkorama

Sunday, December 4th, 2011
  • A magical photo.
  • Turns out there are only four or five degrees of separation.
  • Cracked again, this time on gadgets lying. I always wondered about my laptop battery.
  • This is very true; says the man who just bought an iPad.
  • I should blog more on Israeli efforts to discourage Israelis from marrying American Jews. This is not the first time I’ve encountered that attitude. And it won’t be the last.
  • Thanksgiving Linkorama

    Thursday, November 24th, 2011
  • Icicles … of death.
  • Gamers … fight aids.
  • Cyclist … of hope.
  • Lakes … of Europa.
  • Idiots … of fear.
  • Light … from nothing.
  • Monday Linkorama

    Monday, November 14th, 2011
  • 11 sounds children have never heard. Not included: that Mike Siegel is so attractive. Sadly.
  • Sexy dances moves for men. Really?
  • The physics of angry birds: Seriously.
  • The steroid era was not all that. Totally.
  • The Shakespeare Project: Love’s Labours Lost

    Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

    I tried, but I just couldn’t get into this one. Maybe it’s because my reading was spread over many weeks; maybe it’s because I was reading it while tired. Or maybe it’s because it’s a very “in” play with contemporaneous references that aren’t as relevant today. I was frequently thanking the heavens for the Kindle’s ability to look up words with a click. Shakespeare’s other plays have aged well, but this one just hasn’t.

    There was some stuff I enjoyed. Some wordplay was clever and the character of Berowne was good. But it was just missing something. Situations that should have been clever — Costard mixing up the letters, the overlapping overheard conversations, the attempts by the men to conceal their feelings — just washed over me. The games the women played at the end — games played so well in, say, Merry Wives of Windsor just seemed cruel and arbitrary. And then it end up in the air.

    Humph. Maybe Love’s Labours Won would have redeemed it. In fact, the whole thing plays like a prelude to the possibly apocryphal second play. Unfortunately, we don’t have that play. So we’re stuck with one of the weaker comedies.

    Up Next: A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy Dream. One of his best.

    Monday Linkorama

    Monday, October 24th, 2011

    I’m at a conference. It stimulates my curiosity. Expects lots of links:

  • A truly horrible story out of Spain. Hundreds of thousands of children were taken from their parents and given to approved couples.
  • Obama ramps up the crackdown on pot. Meanwhile, in the reality-based world, doctors and average Americans want this madness stopped.
  • I think this building would make me a believer.
  • As someone struggling to have another kid, the idea of girls literally named ‘unwanted’ breaks my heart.
  • The Dalek Game.
  • This story would make my dad faint.
  • This article about women not marrying, is interesting but sounds like the author is trying to persuade herself of something she doesn’t really believe. Also, I resent being the 80%.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
  • This video comparing Apollo footage to google maps, is soooo cool.
  • Lost books. I wish we could find them, as we recently found a lost Hitch movie.
  • A truly great expose of the corruption of college sports. I disagree with some of his conclusions, however.
  • Back in SC Linkorama

    Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
  • Wow.
  • Godspeed, Ms. Wake.
  • A really interesting argument that infrastructure spending is over-rated. I’m sympathetic to the argument but not 100% convinced.
  • New studies indicate the sex offender registries are not helping.
  • As a sometimes writer, I’ve always feared getting a letter like this.
  • I find the analysis of the Bible’s language utterly fascinating. When people say they believe in the inalterable word of God, we can now ask, “which version?”
  • A really good talk from Sheryl Sandberg about the glass ceiling. This could be ported to any profession.
  • The Shakespeare Project: Much Ado About Nothing

    Sunday, July 31st, 2011

    For it so falls out That what we have we prize not to the worth whiles we enjoy it, but being lack’d and lost, why, then we rack the value, then we find the virtue that possession would not show us whiles it was ours.

    Much Ado is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and would fight it out with Midsummer Night’s Dream for the title of favorite comedy (Puck has a good right hook). Everything works. The drama is strong, the characters vivid. The dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice sizzles on the page and explodes in performance. They even made a good movie out of it, Keanu Reeves not withstanding.

    One element that jumped out at me on a second reading was the critical scene after the failed wedding. Leonato immediately denounces his own daughter, then turns 180 degrees and promises to kill those who slandered her. He is so mortally obsessed with his honor, he almost single-handedly changes this comedy into a tragedy. One could easily see it careening off to having all the leads dead by their own or others’ hands. All because Leonato’s outrage sways with every wind that blows.

    What saves the action is the Friar, a part not commented on very much. It is he who suggests delaying rash action until the truth is known. It is he who comes up with the plan to provoke Claudio’s remorse by faking Hero’s death. He literally saves everyone. It’s been pointed out that the only men who survive Hamlet are a student and a soldier. Interesting that the only man in Much Ado who retains hold of his senses is a man of God.

    One much-commented upon aspect of the play is the War between the Sexes, as best embodied by Balthazar’s song about the nature of men (which Branagh notably selected as the first words of his marvelous film adaptation). I’ve been recently following the debate between Dan Savage and others about the feasibility of monogamy. Savage has been advocating that people unsuited to it would be better off if they tolerated relationships that are, in his words, “monogamish”: where the occasional infidelity is tolerated so long as the primary relationship is respected and maintained (this being common for much of history). Shakespeare, being an Elizabethan, embraces the idea that men should abandon the “masculine” temperament for sleeping around for the “feminine” temperate of settling down (I’ve described Hollywood versions of this as the Male Maturity Movie). He also embraces the madonna/whore duality and tight control of female sexuality that was so prevalent in his day and has been so damaging to Western thought.

    I’m not game to impose modern attitudes on him and pretend that he’s mocking these attitudes: he clearly isn’t. The thread runs through all of his plays. But Much Ado is a great play built on this essential conflict in the natures of men and women and the incompatibility of those natures with societal strictures.

    Somewhere, my old English teacher just had an orgasm.

    Next Up: Love’s Labours Lost

    The Shakespeare Project: The Comedy of Errors

    Saturday, July 30th, 2011

    Marry, sir, she’s he kitchen wench, and all grease; and I know not what use to put her to, but to make a lamp of her and run from her by her own light. I warrant, her rages, and the tallow in them, wil burn a Poland winter: if she lives till Doomsday, she’ll burn week longer than the whole world. – Dromio

    The Comedy of Errors is simple pure fun. Oh, I’m sure plenty of people can find deep meaning it. But you don’t have to go that deep to enjoy the pure foolishness of the plot, the characters and the dialogue. I literally laughed out loud a few times, notably in Dromio of Syracuse’s description of Dromio of Ephesus’ wife, from which the above is drawn.

    Even in this comedy, however, you see once again how Shakepeare balances his comedies right on the edge of tragedy. A single mis-step and poorly timed meeting and you end up with one brother killing another for sleeping with his wife, the father executed, the servants in prison and the mother flinging herself from the nearest tall building. But the genius of the comedies is that they never have to play out that way. They don’t have a shocking ending for its own sake. We know, from the first scene, that all will end in laughter rather than tears. In fact, I had the whole plot in mind by Act 2. But, as I’ve said, it’s the journey from Point A to Point B that makes these so enjoyable.

    Next Up: Much Ado About Nothing. One of my favorites.

    Shakespeare 25

    Friday, July 22nd, 2011

    Shakespeare and impressions? How can I lose?

    Saturday Linkorama

    Saturday, July 9th, 2011
  • Cracked is so awesome.
  • A thought-provoking cartoon about women’s prisons. Despite my support for ending the War on Drugs, I despise meth with all of my heart.
  • A simply dynamite interview with Bill James. I agree with him on Sherlock Holmes, even though I love the stories.
  • In general, I don’t care about the personal defects, craziness or silliness of artists: I separate the art from them. Hard to do with Alice Walker sometimes.
  • The Shakespeare Project: Measure for Measure

    Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

    but man, proud man! Dress’d in a little brief authority,– most ignorant of what he’s most assured, His glassy essence, — like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven As make he angels weep; who with our spleens; Would all themselves laugh mortal.

    One of the reasons I started this was to find plays I was unfamiliar with but would enjoy. Measure for Measure is definitely one. It doesn’t reach the heights that Shakespeare is capable of and the humor isn’t very strong. But one of the advantages of being a “problem play” is that it has a large share of drama that works well. The confrontation between Angelo and Isabella, from the above quote is drawn, is one of the better parts as is the subsequent scene in which Claudio eventually asks his sister to sleep with Antonio for his life. The plot ties together a little too neatly in the end, sharing a narrative trick with All’s Well so that everyone ends up married. And the Duke ex Machina ending drags out a bit.

    But, as always with Shakespeare, it’s how you get there that’s the fun part. Antonio, in particular, is a good villain — the archetypal small man who should never be given even a modicum of power. (It’s nice to know that hypocrisy from hyper-moralistic politicians is nothing new.) It’s a pity that he has to be spared to fit in with the comedy.

    Next Up: The Comedy of Errors

    Friday Linkorama

    Friday, July 1st, 2011
  • All of these are insane (and possibly fictional).
  • All of these are awesome.
  • This is incredible.
  • This is a scary story. Man beats snot out of prostitute, claims he was sleep-walking, court buys it. It’s scary either way. Either he got away with a violent assault or he was capable of carrying one out when he was asleep (which experts say can happen extremely rarely). Automatism freaks me out something major.
  • Author Insults

    Saturday, June 25th, 2011

    I agree somewhat on Salinger, Faulkner and Joyce. And even when I disagree with Twain, he’s hilarious.

    Thought I’m stunned they didn’t include Mark Twain’s criticisms of James Fenimore Cooper which are both hilarious and deadly accurate.