Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Words of Wisdom

Orson Welles lists Citizen Kane as his best film, Alfred Hitchcock opts for Shadow of a Doubt, and Sir Carol Reed chose The Third Man - and I'm in all of them. --Joseph Cotten
Trust your wings. --Saul Kissing 
Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy. --Mary Berry

Of course, she must be sleeping, sleeping deeply, wrapped in the darkness of that strange little world of hers. --Haruki Murakami

Write the best story you can and write it as straight as you can. --Ernest Hemingway
I let negativity roll off me like water off a duck's back. If it's not positive, I didn't hear it. --George Foreman
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for. --Oscar Wilde
When you're clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it's clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar. --Victoria Moran 

Being pure in heart may mean breaking some habits and peeling off our masks. --Chuck Swindoll
Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself. --Thomas Edison

Sometimes it is the quiet observer who sees the most. -Kathryn L. Nelson
Football, beer, and above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. --George Orwell ("1984") 

We are our choices. --Jean Paul Sartre

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't. --Mark Twain
The very purpose of journalism is to expose the world for what it is, not to create false political narratives in order to make money. --James O'Keefe 

He who dares not offend cannot be honest. --Thomas Paine
The supreme trick of mass insanity is that it persuades you that the only abnormal person is the one who refuses to join in the madness of others, the one who tries vainly to resist. We will never understand totalitarianism if we do not understand that people rarely have the strength to be uncommon. --Eugene Ionesco 

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. --Voltaire

One idiot is one idiot. Two idiots are two idiots. Ten thousand idiots are a political party. --Franz Kafka
Karma comes after everyone eventually. You can't get away with screwing people over your whole life, I don't care who you are. What goes around comes around. That's how it works. Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve. --Jessica Brody

Monday, February 27, 2023

Recent reading: "Hamlet"

I have three classes this semester and they're going to involve a lot of reading, writing, and viewing. First up, Hamlet for my Shakespeare class.

Hamlet is the story of a Danish prince charged by the ghost of his father to avenge the late king's murder. The ghost reveals that he was poisoned by his brother, who then married the widowed queen and assumed the throne. Unfortunately, Hamlet isn't quite up to the task. Despite the fact that the ghost is crystal clear about his untimely death and desire for revenge, Hamlet finds ways to delay the unpleasant act, feigning madness to the distress of all around him, staging a play for the court that features the late king's murder, and even overhearing his uncle, King Claudius, confessing his sin. And yet he finds reason after reason to delay avenging his father. In the process, he drags pretty much everyone around him down the drain with him. 
This being a Shakespearean tragedy, no one will come out unscathed. Hamlet's mad prince act drives his beloved Ophelia into her own genuine madness, resulting in her death. Claudius will eventually pay the price, but so will almost everyone else in the story

For the class, we are covering one of Shakespeare's plays every two weeks and part of the work is not only reading the plays, but viewing a film version. We were given the choice of various Hamlets and of course, I chose Laurence Olivier's version. This 1948 film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Actor for Olivier, although he lost Best Director to John Huston for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It was interesting reading along while I watched because Olivier made some pretty bold choices. He rearranged some scenes, edited the dialogue, and completely eliminated the characters of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Fortinbras, and the thing still ran 2-1/2 hours. It was really good, though. Olivier's performance was spectacular. He did a lot of Shakespeare on stage and it must have been unbelievable to see him live.
This week, a research paper on Hamlet. Next up: Richard III!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The utter brilliance of "The Worldwide Privacy Tour" - It's funny because it's true.

So South Park decided to take on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and it was glorious!

It's been almost a week since what is, in my opinion, the best South Park episode since the pitch-perfect gentrification season. I've been wanting to blog about it, but the story keeps expanding, so every time I thought it was safe to hit "publish", more news would come out. But it's time. Let's go!

#1 - The episode itself.
The overall reaction is that this is one of the best episodes of South Park in years. Agreed. This episode was an embarrassment of riches. The dirty looks when they entered the cathedral for the Queen's funeral, culminating in the "Earl of Halifax" farting on the stupid wife (Is it even really South Park without fart jokes?) The world's greatest candle. The title of the "memoir" - it's called "WAAAGH", and how absolutely perfect was the delivery of that line? 
We see them flying all over the world in a private jet, which eventually gets parked in front of their new house in...not Montecito. In South Park, right across the street from Kyle, who is not happy to see them. The amazing attention to detail in the magazine covers which are only onscreen a few seconds (The Royal Rogue did a great cover-by-cover review on YouTube - it starts around the 5:50 mark). 
The cartoon frozen "todger" (apparently British slang for johnson). Seriously, dudes, for future reference, when writing your autobiographies there is no need to wax poetic about your bad boy and the trouble it brings. The madness of branding and how phony it is ("The problem with you is you want the results without doing the work.") Nice touch: each brand's list of attributes included "victim". The empty-headed echo chamber. And the fact that they were never identified by name, and yet no one, and I mean NO. ONE. has expressed any doubt as to who inspired this episode.

I also loved the Beatlesque Worldwide Privacy Tour logo, which is now the background on my social media accounts.

Missing: Elizabeth Arden. Harry's bald spot. The single, left-eyed tear. But not to fear, there may be future episodes featuring the Prince and Princess of Canada. God knows there's plenty more ridiculousness to be mined. It's only a half-hour show, they could only fit so much into one episode.

Lone whiff: The Queen in her coffin without a lid on it. Not cool. Not sure what the point of that was.

The episode was ultimately sympathetic to Harry, which I used to be. Initially I saw him as a besotted clod who was thinking with the wrong head. But after hearing multiple excerpts from his autobiography "Waaagh!", I mean "Spare", he revealed himself as a bitter, petty, boring, self-absorbed jerk with no appreciation for the unimaginable wealth and privilege he's spent his entire life in thanks to a mere accident of birth, and someone who is absolutely devoid of even the smallest shred of self-awareness. In his own way, he's as unpleasant as his grasping, entitled, gold-digger, and at this point equally culpable in the abuse they have heaped on his family, her family, the British people, and pretty much anyone who doesn't think they're the greatest things in the world.

Contrast the depiction of Meghan - I mean the Princess of Canada - in this episode with the description of the Princess of Canada in "Royal Pudding", which was inspired by the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton as the bride walked down the aisle: "Isn't she ravishing, so pure of heart, so strong in body, so hot in the face. She is indeed the living symbol of our great country. My God, she's beautiful." That's a long way from the hollow vessel that is the younger Prince of Canada's "Instagram-loving bitch wife".

#2: Public reaction
Like I mentioned earlier, this episode has received pretty much unanimous acclaim. I've yet to see anyone comment about it without raving and laughing about it. However, it seems there are a couple of people who weren't so impressed. Guess who!

#3: Pre-emptive strike attempt 
Prince Harry apparently tried to get the episode blocked! And was ignored! I was actually surprised to hear this. I hadn't heard a thing about it until they released the trailer just days before the episode aired. Apparently The Spare is a fan of censorship, as long as it doesn't extend to him blabbing about family members he knows can't respond publicly.
#4: Victimhood!!!
It's like the Underpants Gnomes: Step 1: Fuck up. Step 2: Get skewered by South Park. Step 3: Play the Victim! Just like it said on the show! Some people just never learn. They are actually having their lawyers looking into suing over the episode. I love how they blab unpleasant and personal stuff about other people, but fire up the legal system the minute there's a peep about them. Hypocrites. I'm no law student, but I'm pretty sure they can't sue for satire. 

Nope, not just me.

Yeah, Meghan never struck me as someone who has a sense of humor about herself. I do wonder, how can one be "upset and overwhelmed" by something they claim not to have seen? Riiiiight. Let me guess, it's only okay when she and Harry publicly trash people.

I also love how Matt & Trey haven't said a word in response to all this. It's like they're taking a page out of the Royal Family's playbook - don't give the immature brats the satisfaction of a reaction. Let your actions speak.

South Park is a natural friggin' treasure. Also, fun factoid: South Park Studios is located just a few miles from where I live. Kinda makes you proud.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Theatre: "The Little Foxes" at South Coast Repertory

The Little Foxes was presented by South Coast Repertory on the Segerstrom Stage in Costa Mesa.
The Little Foxes
Written by Lillian Hellman
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Starring Shannon Cochran, Matthew Arkin, Marco Barricelli, Jamison Jones, Tessa Auberjonois, Jess Andrews, Hunter Spangler, Kaci Hamilton,
Zalen D. King, Lea Coco

Alabama, 1900. Ben and Oscar Hubbard stand to earn millions by funding an industrialized cotton mill. But first they'll need their calculating sister, Regina, to secure the seed money from her dying husband. When he refuses, the siblings stop at nothing to satisfy their own ambitions and keep the wealth in the family. It is Regina, however, with razor-sharp intellect and diabolical gentility, who is the most ruthless. Ferocious and funny, this classic takes an absorbing look at all sides of the American Dream. (From SCR website)

The film version of The Little Foxes starring Bette Davis is one of my all-time favorites, plus I have an audio copy of a performance from L.A. Theater Works that is fantastic, so I was really looking forward to seeing this live.

The first thing that happened was that the original date I had selected was canceled due to COVID-19 issues. When I got the cancellation email I thought I was out of luck as far as seeing this show. However, SCR quickly got me into another performance. I was impressed by how well they handled the situation.

This is the set. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but I loved it and had to get a shot of it. Notice the arch framing the stage is off-kilter? I loved that touch, showing that what goes on in this home is crooked and dysfunctional. There was also a lot of furniture, which was utilized heavily by the cast. This was my first time at Segerstrom and I was surprised that the theatre was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but while I had a great view from almost dead center, I don't think there's a bad seat in the place other than the extreme edges. Nice little theatre.

I was also intrigued by how the actress playing Regina Giddens would fare. In addition to Davis' legendary performance in the film, Tallulah Bankhead played the role during its original Broadway run. That's a lot of star-powered shoes to fill. Turns out Shannon Cochran's effortless performance was more than up the the standards of the role. She made a terrific Regina. Barricelli and Jones were spot-on as Ben and Oscar, and I enjoyed Spangler's portrayal of the slimy Leo. Another thing I noticed in retrospect is how well the cast handled the southern accents, so props to Dialect Coach Nathan Crocker.

The one glaring issue with the performance was that Arkin, who was a replacement in the role of Horace, apparently didn't have enough time to prepare and carried script pages on stage throughout the performance. Horace doesn't show up until part-way through the action, and is deathly ill and therefore not active, so it wasn't as noticeable as it could have been - in fact, at first I thought the character was carrying a newspaper - but as he began turning pages there was no hiding it, and really no attempt to. He was listed as a replacement (along with Hamilton filling in as Addie), which isn't unusual; I've seen that at shows in the past. But I'd never seen or even heard of an actor carrying script pages with him the entire time he's onstage. Apparently COVID has really affected the cast as discussed in this review, so I'm not unsympathetic. But it was hugely distracting. 
On top of that, for some reason there were two brief intermissions rather than a single, longer one, which I would have preferred. Each break took me out of the story. I would preferred not to have an intermission at all during this show. I know it's a little over two hours, but the time during the performance flew by. I'm not sure why they felt the need to interrupt it twice.

Overall it was a well-done show, and without the aforementioned issues, would have been great.

I was also pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get from L.A. to Costa Mesa for a weeknight performance (a straight shot down the 405 for me). I was anticipating a dreadful rush hour drive, but apparently I was going against traffic and the drive was not bad in L.A. and full-speed once I got behind the Orange Curtain. The drive home, without any traffic, went by in a flash. So even though it's way out in the OC, it's definitely worth doing again in the future.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Fast food: False hopes, musings, and memories

Yo Quiero Whut??? OK, it turns out this headline is slightly misleading, but it did give me hope for a few brief, glorious moments: Taco Bell is Officially One of the Healthiest Fast Food Chains
Before we all get too excited (as I did), the article doesn't really cover the more popular items (*cough Mexican Pizza cough*), burritos, or even the regular tacos. It pretty much says if you eat just a few select items you're probably choosing decently, especially compared with other chains. It also doesn't spend much time addressing things to avoid like the plague, like the hideous looking nacho cheese-like sludge and anything that involves the words "Mountain" and "Dew". Also, how is this article about Taco Bell and not El Pollo Loco, which has to be healthier? And that's coming from someone who, unfortunately, loves Taco Bell. But I do think that if you make a run for the border and have a couple regular tacos (or the periodic Mexican Pizza) with something other than poison sugar-water to wash it all down, you're probably okay if you don't eat fast food often.
Almost two decades after Super Size Me, I would hope we understand that fast-food has become one of the unhealthiest things we can consume. Back in the dark ages when I was a kid, fast food was not something we ate on a regular basis, but was presented to us as an occasional treat, and we only went if our parents took us. We rarely were allowed to go on our own until we were well into our teens and were driving. But it seems like that's definitely changed - when I lived in Arcadia a couple years ago, if I was in either one of the shopping centers on the north side of Foothill at 2nd Avenue, I could watch the students from Foothill Middle School just up the block head for the McDonald's on Foothill en masse. I wonder how often they eat there. My guess would be several times a week and that's not good.
Not to mention fast food served when I was younger was probably healthier than it is today. And often it doesn't taste as good as I remember. I've had many experiences (especially with McDonald's, which I used to eat tons of but rarely do these days) where I have certain expectations of the food as I remember it being unmet by the food served today. Whatever changes they've made in the name of economy and efficiency, they are unfortunately noticeable and not an improvement. 

And don't even get me started on McDonald's replacing their awesome deep-fried apple/lava pies with the current sawdust crust versions. Boooooriiiing. Also, way back in the day when I worked at McDonald's in my teens, they had the best brownies I've ever had. EVER. Chewy and fudgy with thick chocolate icing...just the best ever. We used to eat them right out of the walk-in, because something about them being cold made them even better. I don't know if they still do this for employees today, but back when I was one of Ronald's flunkies we got half-priced food and free soft drinks and I would wash those fabulous brownies down with Diet Coke. I can't remember when they discontinued the brownies, but it was ages ago. 
My point is if you're going to eat junk food, eat good junk food and enjoy it. Just don't make it a regular thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Matt & Trey vs. Harry & Meghan

I know who my money's on.
"Worldwide Privacy Tour". Heh.
Here's the too-brief trailer. We're going to have to wait until Wednesday night to see the whole royal smackdown.


"Some dumb prince and his stupid wife." South Park speaks for us all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Dexter-mania. Sort of. Not really.

It was recently announced that Showtime Networks, which has had some damn fine original programming over the years (Dexter, The Tudors, Ray Donovan, Yellowjackets, and Billions, just to name a few) is being swallowed up by Paramount+ and being rebranded Paramount+ with Showtime. Beside the utterly lame new name, I'm surprised that parent company Paramount Global would let anyone mess with Showtime. It has to be one of the conglomerate's better performers. Conversely, I had Paramount+ for a couple months (to watch the South Park movies and the new episodes of Beavis & Butthead) and was less than wowed as a customer. Hence the cancellation after B&B's season concluded.

It hasn't taken long for the new Showtime to announce it's fresh new direction. As in, fresh off announcing the stupid new name comes word that they are apparently going the tiresome but predictable Hollywood route of rehashing previous titles for spinoffs and origins stories. There's other SHO properties getting the same treatment, but I'm going to address the news about Dexter because that was one of my all-time favorites and I'm less than impressed by what I'm hearing: Showtime Eyeing "Dexter" Prequel Series About Trinity Killer.

Actually, I could see a series about the early days of Trinity working well with the right casting and writing. However, this series is only under consideration at this time. Not sure why they put it in the title of the article, but whatever Deadline.

What the article is really about is that SHO has ordered two other Dexter series: Dexter: Origins, which takes up when Dexter Morgan has just graduated from college and joined the PD, and will feature younger versions of characters from the original series. Not sure I want to see other actors playing these iconic characters, as the original casting was so spot on. And Dexter's actual backstory - his mother's murder, his adoption by Harry, and Harry's attempt to funnel the kid's murderous tendencies into a more acceptable form while keeping him safe from detection - was already laid out in the original series. Which means this show isn't actually an origin story because Dexter was already formed by Harry by the time he joined the PD. He had to be - otherwise he couldn't risk joining the department while still in his training stages as it would have increased his chances of being caught. I'm just not able to get excited about this, as it sounds like they are just milking the concept at this point, rather than coming up with a new, interesting take on it. Can you just imagine that meeting?

Executive #1: "A Dexter origin series? BRILLIANT!!!"

Executive #2: "Think of the money we'll save on development! None of that pesky work creating something new, original, and exciting. God, I love this job."

Executive Buzzkill: "Uh, guys...we got a problem here..."

Executive #1: "I don't see a problem."

Executive Buzzkill: "Yeah, because you probably also haven't seen the original series. All of Dexter's background - from when he was a baby found by Harry at the scene of his mother's murder, Harry's discovery of his psychopathy, how he tried to direct that compulsion into only killing people who deserved it, to Dexter's first kill (and boy, how awkward was that) and all the while fine-tuning the skills he needed to pass as somewhat normal..."

Executive #1: "Exactly! I LOVE IT!!!"


Executive #2: "Whut?"

Executive Buzzkill: "They already showed all his backstory in the original series."

Stunned silence.

Executive #1: "Buzzkill, you're fired."

Executive #2: "Wait, how about this? We show him when he's just starting out at Miami Metro PD! That part hasn't been done yet!"

Executive Buzzkill (rises from chair, heads for door): "But we've already seen him at PD."

Executive #2: "Not the early part of it!"

Executive Buzzkill (opens door): "So it's Dexter, Crime Scene Investigator, The Early Years?"

Executive #1: "BRILLIANT!!! Buzzkill, you're hired!"

Executive Buzzkill (closes door, sits back down): "But what will we call it then?"

Executive #2: "CSI: Miami?"

Executive #1: "Don't be stupid, that's been done. We'll still call it Origins. The public is too stupid to know the difference."

Executive #2: "Brilliant. Love it."

Even worse IMO is that Showtime has also ordered what is being described as the "next chapter" of Dexter: New Blood, described as "the kinds of themes and scenarios seen in the original series but through a new lens". So basically, it's Dexter without Dexter. Also from the article, "Although not confirmed, based on the Season 1 finale, the new lens provided would be from Dexter's grown-up son Harrison...". And by grown-up son they mean the whiny, angsty teen who, outraged by a murder his father committed, murdered his father. Yes, the Harrison sequel that absolutely NO ONE was clamoring for. Welcome to the new Showtime!

Actually, based on this franchise's track record, they'll do a bang up job on these shows until the finale, where they'll totally eff up everything that came before and piss off pretty much the entire fan base.

Monday, February 6, 2023

He is the boss. You are the peons. Pay up. Or don't, he doesn't care.

Backstreets, the long-time Bruce Springsteen fanzine, has shuttered in protest over astronomic ticket prices for Springsteen's current tour. Aw, that's cute. You guys thought someone insanely rich and famous cared about you, the little people. Adorbs.

That was mean. I do feel for his fans. They've been devoted and bought into the "everyman" mystique for decades. Backstreets began publishing in 1980 and has been kept going ever since by the fans, for the fans, meaning a lot of people put forty years of time and effort into creating and supporting something in honor of someone they admired and probably in many cases, idolized. And guess what The Boss himself has to say about the pricing? From the Deadline article linked above:

Springsteen himself made no apologies for the rising prices. He told Rolling Stone that he typically told his handlers to align ticket prices with what “everybody else is doing,” then charge a little less.

But that changed. “This time I told them, ‘Hey, we’re 73 years old. The guys are there. I want to do what everybody else is doing, my peers.’ So that’s what happened. That’s what they did…. I know it was unpopular with some fans, but if there’s any complaints, they can have your money back.” 

Unpopular??? How nice. How about betrayed? We all know that that last statement is basically, "If you don't like it, stuff it. Stay home. Keep your filthy peasant money. I don't need it." And if that doesn't sting enough Springsteen faithful, keep in mind it's coming from a man with a net worth of about $650 million. He owns multiple homes. His daughter rides horses that cost more than some of his fans annual income. He hasn't been an "everyman", but a rich, famous celebrity for many, many years. Decades. A lifetime.

I went on TicketMaster to check out tickets and initially it looked like, at least in some venues, you can get in for a decent price if you buy the tickets directly from them, assuming you do it early on. But TicketMaster also has what it refers to as "Verified Resale", which is a boatload of the seats that aren't available for the venue's prices, and that's when the prices start to skyrocket into the high hundreds and even thousands of dollars. There's also something called dynamic pricing which seems to be involved in jacking up prices. Plus, they're selling tickets for seating behind the stage, which to me seems the epitome of greed. Who they hell wants to watch a concert from behind the stage? And some of those seats are a couple hundred dollars. That's crazy.

Oh, and let's also add in the fact that at least in the U.S. the economy is in the toilet, costs of basic needs like groceries, gas, and electricity have skyrocketed, and our dollars are worth way less than they were even a couple years ago. I can tell you from personal experience that many people don't have the expendable income, or faith in our financial situation and future to feel comfortable spending chunks of money that we would have, a couple of years ago. Just a friendly reminder not to vote for someone just because your favorite rock star told you to.

Apparently this kerfuffle started last July, when Backstreets published a piece called "Freeze-Out" about the sky-high ticket prices that included comments like this:

We're feeling old, listening to the outcries of fans feeling similarly betrayed by last week's ticket sales, and remembering that things were different a decade ago.

...when Ticketmaster's first U.S. onsales for the 2023 Tour left many Bruce Springsteen fans in a state of shocked disbelief.

 From our point of view, this so-called premium, algorithm-driven model violates an implicit contract between Bruce Springsteen and his fans, one in which the audience side of the equation appeared to truly matter...We believed it because he told us repeatedly it was true. 

Bruce Springsteen tickets have been historically and notoriously difficult to obtain. That's the nature of the beast, with so many wanting to witness the power and the glory of rock 'n' roll, and relatively few seats to hold them. But the issue has rarely been the money.

But the ideals of Springsteen's music put forward - they're still alive, aren't they? ...If one can't say yes - if only for a few hours every so often - then maybe the magic really is just tricks. 

Springsteen has been paid a king's ransom, and we've never begrudged him that, either. Not the reported $500 million sale of his life's work, which hardly fazed us, not the Broadway prices, not the Jeep commercial. We believe in the value of his music, his work; those other transactions and the arenas in which they take place feel beyond out purview. 

My research apparently didn't even scratch the surface - Backstreets included this image at the end of the post:

Jaysus. I can see why they're feeling crushed.

Just below this image is a post entitled "Dynamic Pricing: A Fucking Shitshow" if you want to learn more about that. I don't, this post is about the fans and the artist, not the business side of things. But apparently this is a tool to potentially jack up the cost to fans and in many cases, price them out.

It looks like Bruce feels secure enough in his financial security and legendary rock God status to not even work up the appearance of righteous indignation on behalf of the faithful. His response, via Rolling Stone? The aforementioned "keep your money" comment. Also, it looks like Deadline did a little bit of creative editing on his comments - here's how they actually read in RS (bold mine):

This time I told them, “Hey, we’re 73 years old. The guys are there. I want to do what everybody else is doing, my peers.” So that’s what happened. That’s what they did [laughs].

This is what's known as laughing all the way to the bank. I'm sure his devoted, long-time fans see the humor in that and hilarity will ensue.

But if there’s any complaints on the way out, you can have your money back.

Sure you can. Good luck getting your refund from TicketMaster or any of its "Verified Resellers" after the fact. He's basically telling his fans to pound sand.

All of which has led Backstreets to this. Some excerpts:

If you read the editorial Backstreets published last summer in the aftermath of the U.S. ticket sales, you have a sense of where our heads and hearts have been: dispirited, downhearted, and yes, disillusioned. It's not a feeling we're at all accustomed to while anticipating a new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour.

Judging by the letters we've received over recent months, the friends and longtimers we've been checking in with, and the response to our editorial, disappointment is a common feeling among hardcore fans in the Backstreets community. 

When I revisit that writing now, it reads like a cry for help; most discouraging was that six month went by with no lifeline thrown.

These are concerts that we can hardly afford; that many of our readers cannot afford; and that a good portion of our readership has lost interest in as a result. (Bold mine - keep in mind these are some of Springsteen's most ardent, long-term fans.)

Whatever the eventual asking price at showtime and whether an individual buyer finds it fair, we simply realized that we would not be able to cover this tour with the drive and sense of purpose with which we've operated continuously since 1980. That determination came with a quickening sense that we'd reached the end of an era.  

Yes, you have.

"I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American Dream and American reality." -Bruce Springsteen

Yes, you have.

And it's been pretty damn lucrative for you. But the difference between your American Dream and the reality of your fans - who have made you rich and famous - has become your greatest irony and hypocrisy.

My sympathy to the fans.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Writing words of wisdom from a true master...for the rest of us

I've probably mentioned this a few times in the life of the blog, but Rod Serling taught writing to college students at Antioch College (his alma mater) and Ithaca College both during and after The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. I've always thought that being fortunate enough to be one of his students would be a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that your writing instructor is Rod Serling. The bad news is that your writing instructor is Rod Serling. I'd feel like the world's biggest hack submitting a story to him. Oh, but can you imagine if he liked it? I'm not much for idol worship, but one small word of praise from him - can you imagine how exhilarating that would be? I would save that note forever.

By all accounts Serling loved teaching and was damn good at it. The reason I bring all this up is because this popped up on my Facebook feed this morning:

As much as I'm sure she appreciated the sentiment, I've have to respectfully disagree with the master here. Most writers have to learn how to write. Very few are born with it. In fact, Ernest Hemingway himself said, "It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way."
But i also believe that every now and then there is someone who was born that way, just artistically gifted, and despite his education and how much work he put into his craft - he spent years writing for radio before achieving massive success in television - I really do think that Serling was one of the brilliant few who were born that way. Between his talent and drive I can't imagine a scenario where he isn't successful. So respectfully I think that in this case, as much as I admire humility, that the man doth protest too much.

But what a great experience for that student and great advice for the rest of us.

Friday, February 3, 2023

RIP Melinda Dillon

It was just announced that actress Melinda Dillon passed away last month (January 9) at the age of 83. 

Dillon played everyone's dream mom in A Christmas Story. She was Oscar-nominated for her roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Absence of Malice, and she also notably appeared in The Prince of Tides, Magnolia, Slap Shot, Harry and the Hendersons, and Bound for Glory. One thing I did not know about her until reading her obituary is that she played Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, earning a Tony nomination.

I just loved her to pieces in A Christmas Story, so this is really sad news, but I'm glad we got her for one more Christmas.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Parker.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

You can count on it

This has been making the rounds online:

Which brought to mind this:

Yep, this one never gets old.