Tuesday, April 30, 2002

According to a report on my local NBC affiliate tonight, Stephen Sondheim is contemplating the idea of a musical based on the film Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies of all time. Sounds like a perfect marriage of creator and material to me, and I'd love to see this one come off.

It wouldn't be the first instance of Sondheim playing with temporal mechanics. Merrily We Roll Along, one of his less well-received works, follows its three main characters through their lives backwards. I've not seen it before, but I will get the chance this summer when the Kennedy Center puts it on as part of its Sondheim Celebration. So I guess I should withhold judgment on whether or not the Groundhog Day thing is a good idea until I see Merrily.

Or maybe I already have...

A quick update on last night's tornado entry: I have word from reliable sources (my parents) that while other nearby buildings were either severely damaged or totally destroyed, the Port Tobacco Players Theater lost only the glass from two of its lobby doors and a single letter off the marquee.

While their current production probably won't go on this coming weekend, the Players will go on as an organization. Even though it's been over a decade since I trod those particular boards, it still makes me glad to know PTP will continue strong as ever for the foreseeable future.
Posted @ 12:29 AM

Monday, April 29, 2002

A powerful tornado hit La Plata, Maryland around 7 yesterday evening. Local news coverage showed scenes of severe damage to the town. Normally, such images wouldn't interest me much, but this time I've got a personal connection to the place.

The tornado touched down very near the Port Tobacco Players Theater, the place where I started doing community theater nearly fifteen years ago. So far I've heard no mention of damage to the theater, and I'm hoping that no news is good news. Still, if good ol' PTP was hit, I may just have to head on down there and do what I can to help get the place back on its feet.
Posted @ 1:00 AM

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Showtime again! I've been cast as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in Rockville Musical Theatre's production of the Cole Porter classic, Anything Goes. It's another repeat for me, as I did this show twelve years ago playing Billy, the male lead. But Evelyn ends up with the cooler female lead and I won't have to dance nearly as much, so I'd call it a win-win for me this time. More details as I get them.
Posted @ 1:44 PM

Sunday, April 21, 2002

From the Say it Ain't So Department: Dolph Lundgren, the man who brought He-Man, The Punisher and Ivan Drago to life, is retiring from acting. The usual desire to spend more time with his family is cited as a main reason.

One can only imagine that such workaholic megastars as Jeff Speakman, Andrew "Dice" Clay and Burt Ward will take note of Lundgren's life-affirming decision and contemplate similar retreats from the constant glare of the public eye.
Posted @ 2:17 PM

Friday, April 19, 2002

The real David Gallagher brings us word of a minor yet highly eerie connection between Milan's Pirelli Building, the one hit yesterday by a small aircraft, and the World Trade Center. I don't want to steal his thunder, so go check it out for yourself.
Posted @ 11:40 AM

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Thought I should finally put up a couple of pics I've taken with my new digital camera. Didn't make it down to the Mall for the cherry blossoms, but these blooms are quite wonderful in their own right. Two shots of the flowering bushes by my bedroom window, from outside...

...and inside.

More to come as I find subjects I want to share.
Posted @ 6:36 PM

Monday, April 15, 2002

Let me go on the record here: I'm not a fan of SUVs. I'm not revealing any state secrets when I say they're unwieldy gas-guzzlers that take up too much space. When I moved back to the DC area almost three years ago and saw the preponderance of these monstrosities clogging the highways, I feared my loathing of them would drive me mad. I pictured myself standing on the shoulder of the Beltway, clad only in a loincloth, my hair a wild, tangled mane, throwing rocks at every Ford Excursion and Lincoln Navigator that passed me.

Luckily, that never came to pass. I'm still not fond of the things, but I've learned to ignore them, at least as much as one can ignore a two-ton, eight foot tall behemoth blocking one's view of the road ahead or trying to merge into one's passenger side because the driver has trouble seeing one's little Saturn sedan.

Amy Alkon is not as forgiving as I am. She's a writer for the New Times L.A., she hates SUVs, and she's on a mission: insult every SUV driver she can find. Her method is underhanded and efficient. She and some friends she's recruited look for the largest of the large SUVs and put little cards on the windshield. These cards belittle the driver's manhood (she admits to gender bias, but couldn't pass up the visceral power of slighting male genitalia) and provide a phone number. If called, an answering machine continues the assault, then allows the caller a chance to respond. Alkon has collected some of these responses in her column, and they're predictably hilarious.

I hesitate to call Alkon a new hero. I reserve that for other folks, those who inspire me to be better than I am. But I'd be lying if said I don't get a little vicarious thrill from her campaign.

I should point out that I'm not an absolute extremist on this. It's mostly the ludicrously gargantuan land yachts that get my goat, not the smaller ones that take up no more room than a standard pick-up. I realize there can be legitimate reasons to get an SUV, although my definition of legitimacy in this arena is quite narrow. Anyone who drives one and for some reason feels the need for my approval on this can apply for a special dispensation here. Be persuasive: only compelling reasons will sway me.

Well, that or large sums of cash.

(Via Plastic. See, I can swipe from other sources!)
Posted @ 3:28 PM

Maybe it's time I started watching Crossfire. It seems the new hosts on the liberal side, Paul Begala and James Carville, aren't the pushovers previous lefties in their position have been. Rumor has it they've been so effectively pugnacious in their brief tenure on Crossfire that the Republican Congressional leadership is warning its members to steer clear of the show, lest they come away with rhetorical black eyes.

After years of such bullies as Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich running roughshod over political discourse in this country, I'm glad there are finally a couple of Democrats willing to hit back just as hard. And from what I understand, Carville and Begala's biggest weapon in this battle is that most insidious and nasty of the debater's tools: cold, hard fact.

(I swear, if I swipe anything else from MetaFilter in the next 30 days, I'll just rename this place MeFi2 and be done with it.)
Posted @ 12:24 AM

Sunday, April 14, 2002

When I saw the subtitle, my hackles arose in a most pleasing way and I knew what I'd be doing with my Sunday morning.

The link on today's Washington Post Online front page read "Guys and Digital Dolls", and was subtitled "What's not to like about an ingenious computer game that tries to imitate real life? A skeptical parent's guide to The Sims". The opening sentence seemed to confirm my suspicions: "It was the Swimming Pool Love Killing that first got my attention."

This all had an eerily familiar ring to it. As a pre-teen, I'd had many "why Dungeons & Dragons is an evil game" articles brought to my attention by well-meaning relatives and older acquaintances. This story seemed to promise the same kind of uninformed knee-jerk reactionary piece full of half-truths and paranoid assumptions so often written about Gary Gygax's little dice-and-paper game in the 1980's.

With righteous glee, I anticipated spending the next couple of hours writing a deliciously sneerful blog entry that would rip Bob Thompson, the article's author, a new one. All I had to do was read the thing, gathering examples to use as ammunition as I went, like a kid picking dandelions in a vacant lot.

I knew what I was going to find: anguished hand wringing by a "concerned parent" who couldn't be bothered to play the game himself or even talk to his kid about it, instead basing his entire opinion on hearsay; quotes from the media director of the Society to Ensure a Fun-Free World; melancholy questions about what happened to all the good games, like Sorry! and Life; calls for a government investigation. And all of this tempest brought on by what is one of the most benign, engaging and constructive games I've ever played. I sharpened my rhetorical knife and got ready to carve.

I ran into one problem. The article wasn't the hack job I'd expected it to be. Instead it was a thoroughly researched, well-balanced examination of the game. Thompson not only talked to his daughter and played the game himself at length, he spent time interviewing Sims creator Will Wright and co-designer Roxy Wolosenko to find out how the game came into being and what they hoped to accomplish with it. He read up on the history of computer gaming and discovered why The Sims and predecessors like Sim City are such a welcome new direction for the industry. He examined the subculture that has grown up around the game, surveying the thriving community of custom skin makers and online scrapbook keepers.

Most importantly, it's clear from the finished product that Thompson actually thought about all he had learned and wrote his report with that knowledge in mind. In short, he did something not often seen in a story of this kind. He practiced good journalism. In the future, when I'm looking for an enjoyable, intelligent read, I'll know to look for his byline.

As much fun as writing a scathing rebuttal to a sloppy piece of reportage would have been, reading this solid and thoughtful column was ultimately much more satisfying. I guess I'll just have to wait for the next piece of half-baked forwarded glurge to hit my inbox before I can vent my spleen.
Posted @ 1:46 PM

Thursday, April 11, 2002

How cool is this? Futurama, the great Matt Groening cartoon that FOX treats like a redheaded stepchild, is finishing up this season with a special Star Trek-themed episode called "Where No Fan Has Gone Before." Even better, the entire surviving cast of Star Trek lent their voices to the show (with the exception of the ailing James Doohan). The episode bows a week from Sunday. Should be a hoot.

That movement on the job front I mentioned last week stalled out on Monday, but I hope to see it revive itself this coming Tuesday. More on that as it develops.

In the meantime, I've started temping. This was something I wasn't particularly keen to do, but push has come to shove and I'm doing what needs to be done. Like talking in vaguely manly clichés.

I certainly can't complain about my first assignment. I'm currently office-sitting for a company. The entire staff is hosting a client conference out of state, which means I'm completely alone there. My only duties are to answer the phone (most folks just ask to go to voice mail when I explain nobody's around), collect faxes as they come in, and pick up the mail every afternoon.

That's it. Most of my time has been spent on the Net, either playing around or continuing the job search. Essentially, I'm getting paid to do what I'd be doing if I were at home. Well, no Civ III, but you can't have everything.

If I can just swing gigs like this one until I finally snatch my next permanent job, I'll be quite happy.
Posted @ 7:57 PM

Saturday, April 06, 2002

...if my analysis of the position is right
At the end of the tunnel there's a glimmer of light

Folks, there may be a little bit of movement on the job front. It's nothing concrete at this point, but given the absolute absence of activity in the employment arena prior to yesterday, it's something I'm thrilled to see. This development is still somewhat amorphous and therefore very jinxable, so no details until there's some solidity.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. I can use all the positive energy I can get.
Posted @ 4:20 PM

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Anyone who's known me for more than a couple of weeks has likely heard my rant against the fashion industry and what their arbitrary, harmful edicts do to the self-esteem of women, especially American women. If you're ever talking to me and I seem about to launch into that particular tirade, just let me know you've read this piece by the Slate's Emily Nussbaum, and I'll let you off the hook.

(Again, via MetaFilter. What can I say? They're on a roll this week.)
Posted @ 12:17 AM

Monday, April 01, 2002

Newsweek has a fascinating and surprisingly favorable (for them, anyway) profile of Bill Clinton and his current activities in this week's issue. Love him, hate him or just mixed up about him (I usually fall into the last category, with heaping helpings of the first), he always makes for interesting reading.

(via MetaFilter)
Posted @ 3:34 PM


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