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A little bit of Sherman Alexie for your day
Aug 22nd, 2010 by Dr Karma

From “The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless” in the collection War Dances:

Despite all the talk of diversity and division–of red and blue states, of black and white and brown people, of rich and poor, gay and straight–Paul believed that Americans were shockingly similar. How can we be so different, thought Paul, if we all know the lyrics to the same one thousand songs? Paul knew the same lyrics as any random guy from Mobile, Alabama, or woman from Orono, Maine. Hell, Paul had memorized, without any effort or ever purchasing or downloading one of their CDs–or even one of their songs–the complete works of Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, and AC/DC. And if words and music can wind their way into and around our DNA strands–and Paul believed they could–wouldn’t American pop music be passed from generation to generation as easily as blue eyes or baldness? Hadn’t pop music created a new and invisible organ, a pituitary gland of the soul, in the American body? Or were these lies and exaggerations? Could one honestly say that Elvis is a more important figure in American history than Einstein? Could one posit that Aretha Franklin’s version of “Respect” was more kinetic and relevant to American life than Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 speech that warned us about the dangers of a military-industrial complex? Could a reasonable person think Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” was as integral and universal to everyday life as the fork or wheel? Paul believed all these heresies about pop music but would never say them aloud for fear of being viewed as a less-than-serious person.

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Finishing up August
Aug 21st, 2010 by Dr Karma

First, if you haven’t read the boy’s first movie column, you can find it here: http://www.matchflick.com/column/2223

I’ve just returned from a short vacation–went to the redwoods (where I was tricked into hiking), San Francisco, and Ashland, where I was lucky enough to see Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and Henry IV, Part 1. One of the actors in the company is deaf, so certains characters in each play (including Hamlet’s father), were deaf as well, and some dialogue was signed in each show. I like the way this normalized difference, although one scene in Hamlet ended up having extra dialogue (just because I couldn’t understand it doesn’t mean that there weren’t extra lines). I’m not sure how I feel about adding lines, and I was distracted every time they had characters signing even when they couldn’t possibly see each other’s hands.

I’m surprised that it took me so long to get up to Ashland–I’ve wanted to go ever since I moved here ten years ago. The town was quaint, though not as quaint as Niagara on the Lake, where the Shaw festival is held. The production quality was high. A few of the local businesses try to Shakespeare it up–the vitamin store is “All’s Well,” for example. I’m looking forward to going back next year, if only to see Henry IV, Part 2 (I can’t wait to see how this turns out!).

While I was away, Denise discovered that an article I wrote had been stolen by this guy: http://www.bobholtonline.com/article/298.htm You’ll note that even though every word is mine, my name is not mentioned, nor is Mental Floss, the fine magazine I wrote the piece for. I have sent the gentleman an email requesting that he revise the post to credit the author. This is the second time I’ve seen someone post my work as their own on the internet. I feel violated.

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MacHomer!
Aug 7th, 2010 by Dr Karma

Last night I saw MacHomer for the third time. It was at the California Shakespeare Theatre in Orinda. We headed up for a picnic before the show, which was interrupted briefly as I went to talk to a documentary crew about the show–they’re apparently producing a DVD version of the show to be used in schools and I was called upon to talk about the educational potential of the show, as the Simpsonologist I am.

I had gotten front row seats, only to find that two of those seats had been accorded to the DVD crew; the solution ended up being to move all of the seats down by two.

Rick Miller’s performance was, as usual, amazing. The show is fascinating and funny. Most people have heard that it’s a Simpsonizing of Macbeth, but not everyone knows that it’s full of other popular culture references, self-referentiality, and even political jokes (the newspapers have Quebec separatist jokes). The show routinely incorporates that week’s news and local names as well.

It demonstrates Rick’s mastery of voice work, body work (each character he portrays in the one man show has a distinctive body posture), art work (he does all the music and art for his shows), understanding of the Bard and The Simpsons and theatre conventions, and rapid wit.

Was going to add a picture of Rick and I, but I can’t get the uploader to work . . .

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Birthday Week Thoughts
Aug 5th, 2010 by Dr Karma

Let’s get the morbid ones out of the way–Alexander is now the age I was when I had him. I am now the age my father was when he died. Neither of us will be replicating those behaviors, but it’s on my mind.

Had a wonderful birthday–got to see many friends, the btp made me dinner, and even the boy said happy birthday (from a different room than the one I was in . . .). It was especially nice because I’d finished grading the day before and that means that I have a few weeks off now. I get to finish the very last of the unpacking, get that to-do list pared down, and get organized (my desk still has that “end of the quarter” look). Am also going to watch a lot of movies because I simply can.

I’m also going to try to get out and see some shows–I’ve already seen Paula Poundstone (who was very funny–I’ve always admired her ability to work a room and to do the audience engagement stuff that most comics can’t do); I’ve done my own stand-up set at Luna’s; I will see MACHOMER at CalShakes tomorrow; I saw Al on Sunday.

Al was amazing, by the way. He performed for two and a half hours. There were props and costume changes, and he did six songs that I’ve never seen him do live before. I got a starter pack of Al trading cards and now I want more (that’s the whole point, right?). I wish it hadn’t been at the fair, though, because I don’t like fairs (unless they’re Renaissance, cause I’m white & nerdy), and I wish the lady beside me hadn’t taken up half my seat in addition to hers–it meant I left with a neck crick.

In other news, Proposition 8 has been declared unconstitutional because it, um, is. The whole reason we have a bill of rights is so that a biased/prejudiced majority can’t deny rights to a minority. Jefferson wouldn’t sign without that bill because he knew what we were like–he knew what we would do. For example, I would like to deny bigots the right to procreate. They tend to raise children who are accepting of a “bigoted lifestyle.”

The hysterical right keeps bringing up the same old points. That these are special, not equal rights. That this is a threat to marriage. Well, I have to say that I managed to have two failed marriages before I was thirty. That’s because I made bad choices; it’s not because my homosexual friends were having more successful relationships than I’ve ever managed to. And my current desire to not marry nor to cohabitate has nothing to do with gay people, except for the knowledge that if I could turn gay (like the hysterical right thinks I can), I maybe could cohabitate successful with a woman, as Courtney’s presence seems to indicate that it’s the heterosexual roommate pairing that doesn’t work for me (unless the other person is my son, who theoretically has to do what I say).

It’s also nice that California is now once again keeping up with places like Iowa and Argentina–because it was embarrassing when we weren’t.

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