Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Speaking of naughty primates, there's a weird saga unfolding in Plano, Texas. An illegal rhesus macaque was confiscated from one of the locals, who then allegedly sent the monkey a pornographic audio tape hinting at interspecies sexual shenanigans. Now the animal control specialist who made the allegation is back-pedaling, claiming he may have misinterpreted the tape and begging not to be sued or lose his job. (Thanks, Obscure Store!)
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
I discovered The WVSR via The Gargoyle Letters, one of the funniest bits of correspondence I've ever encountered, in which the wonderfully named ArdnaTyne frets about her neighbor's possibly Satanic yard decorations. I go back to that page every six months or so, hoping that it will be updated. So far, no luck.
For some reason, though, it took me a while explore the rest of The WVSR, but I eventually fell under the spell of its proprietor -- middle-aged, middle-managing ex-'zinester and former record marketing weasel Jeff Kay. He's a funny, funny guy. Occasionally crude, true, and sometimes not "politically correct" (whatever than means anymore), but sharply observant and possessing a brutally self-deprecating wit. I look forward to every daily installment and am sorely disappointed when one doesn't appear. When I was in China last summer, worn to a frazzle by the rigors of my first round of foreign travel, I enjoyed visiting his site from the hotel computers, just for a dose of down-to-earth American humor.
I've never figured out what Jeff actually does for a living, but last month, out of the blue, he was downsized. Yikes. He's handling it pretty well, but he's looking to monetize The WVSR while looking for his next full-time gig. He could use extra visitors, so please drop on by.
For a quick taste of Jeff's singular genius, check out his page of favorite quotes: "Sweet Sainted Mother of Blanket Jackson." If you laugh more than once, explore the rest of the site. You're not likely to regret it.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Sometimes I'm just the wrong audience for a book. Although I'm all up for werewolves, vampires and serial killers, singly and together, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about them in a "deliciously sexy adventure." (And do they have any werewallabies Down Under? Just curious.)
These "paranormal romances" obviously have their fans, and such writers as Laurel K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison have succeeded in finding large, eager audiences for their urban fantasies featuring highly sexed supernatural protagonists and antagonists. But these kinds of books don't interest me, and I suspect I'm not equipped to critique them in any meaningful way.
A while back, I was asked to review "Happy Hour at Casa Dracula" by Marta Acosta. I don't think I did a particularly good job of it, mainly because the conventions of the vampire-romance subgenre grate on me so. I found the characters annoying and their behavior baffling and the plot more than faintly ridiculous. But I could see that the things that turned me off would work for the book's intended audience and that Acosta was writing well and wittily within the set of rules she had chosen for herself. So I gave her a favorable review, concluding, "One suspects that the ultimate merit of 'Happy Hour at Casa Dracula' can be determined only by those readers squarely within its target demographic, but those with a taste for unlikely romance will probably find it a refreshing warm-weather treat."
Something of a cop-out -- and a reason why I won't be reading "Dangerous Games" by Keri Arthur or any other paperback originals that promise "a world of peril and pleasure that will leave readers panting for the next installment."
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Leonard Lopate interviews Billy Crupup, Jennifer Ehle and Brian F. O'Byrne about "The Coast of Utopia."
The Ukiah Daily Journal reviews the OSF production of "On the Razzle."
"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" is headed for Baltimore's Center Stage.
Len Cariou, George Segal and Richard Benjamin will star in the American premiere of Stoppard's translation of "Heroes."
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The publisher of "Things Will Never Be the Same: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005" by Howard Waldrop wanted to know whether he could send a galley. I replied that, as much as I admire Waldrop's stories, I wasn't likely to review this compendium of previously collected work, and he might end up wasting postage. He sent the galley anyway.
I'm glad he did. Even though I’m not going to read "Things Will Never Be the Same," right now.
See, I’ve already read most of these stories. Written about many of them, too. Most of them are wonderful. I particularly recommend "The Ugly Chickens," "Heart of Whitenesse” and “Night of the Cooters.” As he’ll tell you himself, Waldrop is a National Treasure.
Sure, this volume features new afterwords by the author, and those are always illuminating. (In fact, there has been more than one occasion when I didn't know what the hell a Waldrop story was about until I read his explanatory endnotes.) But I can't see my way to devoting even 250 words in my column to this collection, not when there are so many other new books clamoring for attention.
I'll certainly recommend it here, though, for whatever good that does.
Just so we're clear: If this were a new Howard Waldrop novel, I'd be all over it.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Gavin Allen at icWales provides a not terribly illuminating review of "Arcadia": "Stoppard's play is a tough nut, and Theatr Clwyd didn't quite have the cracker."
Richard Moeschl of the Mail Tribune finds a few "groaners" in the OSF production of "On the Razzle" but has a good time anyhow.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
"Premiere" ceases publication as a printed magazine.
In the Miami Herald, Carl Hiaasen writes about the excessive media coverage of the continuing Anna Nicole Smith story and other forms of "necro-tainment":
Don't make the mistake of dismissing the Smith story as an anomaly; it's a media watershed. If the death of a hapless, doped-up ex-model can knock two wars out of the headlines, there's no end to the squalid possibilities.
We have seen the future, and it's in the gutter.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I spent a good chunk of the weekend at WonderCon in San Francisco, covering the event for the Comic Book Resources site. I wrote about the DC Nation panel, Vaughan's spotlight session and the preview panels for the films "300" and "Spider-Man 3."
Thursday, March 01, 2007
At the Village Voice, Michael Feingold feels that "the sense of human struggle and suffering seems almost wholly absent" from the play.
As for the Oregon Shakespeare production of "On the Razzle," which opened Presidents Day Weekend, the Eugene Register-Guard has one of the first reviews.