Sunday, October 30, 2005

White Woman Fantasizes Eating American Gothic

See here for more amusing AG-inspired images from the art students of Ark. Tech. U.

As usual, I just start getting my Halloween on when it's almost past. I feel downright spectral during November. Many of these links are sizable, but if you're having a leisurely enough day to browse what catches your fancy, maybe some of these will be nice accompaniments to a cup of something cozy.

1) I saw Woman in White last night, which is an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical just arrived in preview on Broadway from London. I'm a fan of Wilkie Collins' original novel and the macabre in general, so I went. I did enjoy the fine voices and melodramatic, Gothic humor of it. Hurrah for Count Fosco who relentlessly charms as he chews the scenery. There were a few lovely, catchy numbers if ALW has slightly ripped himself off with certain portions keenly reminding me of other music he's already written.

One interesting aspect is the stage design, no more embellished than a tall, white semicicular wall. It's concave when placed upstage and rotates around front to make a convex half circle bowing toward the audience near the stage's apron. Within this big white crescent is often set a smaller, shorter one that similarly rotates to display its inner or outer face. The shorter fingernail is set onto a circular turntable of stage that- you guessed- rotates. This set-up allows huge, multi-layered computer-generated images of various drawing rooms and libraries, front entries, and graveyards to be projected upon the contours as the scenes demand. In the first few minutes, the projections struck me as clumsy and I was having problems immersing myself. Then background images began swapping and out at great speed, swiveling the wall screens while flying us across computer countryside and through elaborate passages. Even the actors' movements are in arcs, and soon the panoramic action is granted the visual comfort of a cinematic panning shot. And we're there. Obviously, the computer images allow an almost limitless number of set changes and this production spares few opportunities. Why not spend the three seconds swooshing a wall around to project an iron gate behind a thirty-second scene? It's an unusual, but ultimately positive device. If it saps some of the dusty stillness and emotional gravity that pervades Victoriana, it unquestionably adds dynamism to the tale, and the rolling revelations of scenery create the delight in discovery one might enjoy in a great curiosity shop.

2) Speaking of Gothic, now it's hip. You know 'cause the NYT says so. I'm bored with the crowds of transients.

3) I've written, okay ranted, about these trends in culture and education, but Christine Rosen covers it all in The Overpraised American which examines the accuracy of Christopher Lasch's foresight in 1979's The Culture of Narcissism. It's a longey, but a goodie. Savor it.

4) Here are MSNBC's ideas of 7 truly terrifying entrees. I think they took a shortcut here to make sure all the frights weren't from abroad, but no kind of luncheon loaf (even headcheese) can compare to shark meat leached of urine by leaving it to rot. Even the maker says the taste of the putrefied meat is bad, decent only in aftertaste and with tons of booze to drown it, and that it's the kind of thing you'd never eat regularly.

5) As NaNoWriMo looms in only 2 days, if you're preparing to participate with a fantastic offering, here's a list of questions that will help you determine whether your fantasy concept is deriative tripe.

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