Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Coast of Utopia" Reviews and News Rolling In

Newsday has a problem with the Act One, but is "hooked" by the end of "Voyage."

The New York Observer calls it a "strangely un-Stoppardian play." has the details about the after-party.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Merkin on Stoppard

On the eve of the "Coast of Utopia" opening, a long profile of Stoppard by Daphne Merkin in today's NY Times Magazine. One reader finds Ms. Merkin exasperating. Somebody else has more of a problem with Stoppard himself.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Run-up to "Coast of Utopia"

On Friday, the NY Times ran a handy primer for prospective Trilogy attendees. Check it out before it disappears into the pay-only section.

And the Moscow Times notes that Stoppard will lead a seminar at the non/fiction book fair, but details are spare.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Book Picks for the Holidays

It's time again for The Chronicle's annual Holiday Book issue. I've selected 10 science fiction and fantasy titles worth giving as gifts. The authors include Kage Baker, Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, Kit Reed and Jeff VanderMeer.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Coast of Utopia" Prep

If you haven't already, check out Lincoln Center Theatre's site for its production of "The Coast of Utopia." I've mentioned the Backstage Blog, but there's also an interview with Stoppard and a Notes on the Play section, which will undoubtedly be expanded as the other installments of the theatrical trilogy are rolled out.

And Playbill reports that Richard Easton, who became ill during an Oct. 18 preview, has returned to the production and is ready for the official Nov. 27 premiere.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Loose Seal!" "Lucille? Where?"

Although nobody has had a hand bitten off yet, life is imitating "Arrested Development" here in San Francisco: Rogue sea lion menaces swimmers!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sorry, But You "Lost" Me Right There

It happened two episodes ago with the death of Mr. Eko. My son was asking me all kinds of questions about what the characters on "Lost"were doing and why they were doing it and I kept saying, "I don't know. I don't know." And I suddenly realized that the writers of the show probably don't know either, no matter what they say.

I simply can't imagine any kind of logically consistent framework into which all the puzzle pieces are going to fit. There are just too many of them, to the point of ridiculousness.

The Others in particular don't seem to make any sort of sense. They say they're the "good guys," but no one who acts as they do is so sociopathic as to say that with a straight face. And if I had a tumor in my spine, I wouldn't abuse the only doctor in my neighborhood and torture his good friends in the hopes that he might operate on me successfully. Off the top of my head, I can think of about a dozen more productive strategies.

I'm getting tired of all the torture and the nastiness and the total refusal to ask the most obvious questions. ("Hey, where'd all you Others come from? Does this island have a name I might have heard of? Do you know how that smoke monster thing works?") Watching the "mid-season finale" was a real chore. By the time Sawyer and Kate got around to the Dirty Monkey Love in the polar cage, I'd lost interest.

If you stop and think about it, every single main character on "Lost" is running some sort of con game, either on him/herself or others. I'm convinced the writers are doing the same to the audience, and it's really starting to annoy me.

I'll be back for more in February. But as Adam Sternbergh points out in New York Magazine, "Lost" didn't have to end up like this.

Friday, November 10, 2006

TV Vet Plays Stoppard Vet

Christopher Timothy, typecast after years of playing veterinarian James Herriot on the BBC's "All Creatures Great and Small," is finding great satisfaction in playing a World War One veteran in Stoppard's adaptation of Gerald Sibleyras's "Heroes."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Stoppard Miscellany Continues

The San Jose Mercury News finds ACT's "Travesties" too clever by half

"Travesties" Wins with Timeless Wit, sez The Daily Californian

Inspired by the local production, the San Francisco Chronicle's Steve Winn discusses real-life travesties

Miscellaneous Stoppard Links

Cleaning out the old messages to find items of interest:

Unexcited by the first part of "The Coast of Utopia," Lawrence Toppman in the Charlotte Observer praises its star-studded cast

A profile of Gregory Wallace, who played Tristan Tzara in the ACT production of "Travesties"

A review from the Contra Costa Times about ACT's "Travesties"...

And one from Bloomberg...

And another from the San Francisco Chronicle

Lincoln Center's Backstage Blog from "The Coast of Utopia"

If you have a spare $350 for patron ticket, you can attend the Williamstown Theatre Festival's salute to Stoppard on Nov. 13

Friday, November 03, 2006


Last Sunday's Chronicle was just chockablock with reviews I'd written. In my regular column, I covered the latest from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke. As a bonus, the monthly kids' book page featured my review of new books by Ursula Le Guin, Delia Sherman and Chris Humphreys.

For a Good Cause

Emma Burke writes:

I work for the National Library for the Blind in Stockport (UK) and during Right to Read week (beginning 6th November) we're launching a special celebrity signed book auction on eBay. We wrote to a number of celebrities and asked them to sign a copy of their favourite children's book.

One of the books in our auction is Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome which has been chosen and signed by the lovely Tom Stoppard for us. We were hoping that information could be put up on the website so that fans of Tom's will know about it and have the chance to bid for the book as we feel this is a real collectors item. Our eBay site will go live on Thursday 9th November, but we've created a holding page on our website for fans to visit to check when the bidding can begin.