Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Yet Another Meaningless Year-End Survey

I used to vote in "best of the year" polls, mostly for comics back when I was reviewing them. But with my increasing inability to remember what I had for dinner two nights ago, let alone what I read nine or ten months ago, I find I can't really do that too much any more unless I make lists beforehand or have can participate in a two-stage process that lets me nominate (if I happen to remember stuff I liked) as well as vote (on the stuff I recall liking the specifics of which other people remember better than I could). In general I'm better at lists than polls, but I haven't made a list of year-end blog polls yet (although silly person that I am I actually think that would be a fun thing to do).

What I have made a list of is Cool Quiz and Personality Test Sites I've visited or heard about this past year. Okay, this past few months since I've started blogging. Don't be so picky, geez. And since it's the end of the year, and I want to erase the damn document from my computer here at work already, I present them herewith. (I should say at least one other person has already done this, with the Barbarian’s Online Test Page, but these things pop up and get outdated so quickly it's never a bad idea to do another.)

First off, the thing about these online quizzes is that anyone can make 'em up. For instance, if you want to get all girly you can go to Quizilla and rifle through their lists of tests like “What Personality Disorder Do You Have?” and “How Silly Are You?” and “What Box Do You Get Put In?” (Found courtesy of Sarah Dessen.) SelectSmart has dozens to choose from, including "which comic creator are you?" and "which Supreme Court Justice are you?" but beware, lots of pop-ups! Other sites worth visiting might include “Fun” Personality and Love Quizzes and E Online, although many of these seem geared towards the type of folks who like to read tabloids at supermarket check-out counters. (Okay, fine, but I only look at the Weekly World News and the Sun where I can find it, and I don't actually buy 'em.)

When I started compiling the list, I soon decided - probably because of the ease of quiz creation - to eliminate the "which mass market entertainment character are you?" ones, because there are hundreds. Search on real popular stuff like Lord of the Rings or Simpsons or Harry Potter and you'll probably find at least a half dozen (I stopped at two each). I thought the ones that dealt with either historical characters or ideas were more clever. But there's just something strangely appealing about the Enneagram Test which seemed to cry out for mention. What the heck is an Enneagram, you might inquire? According to the site, Don Riso has defined the Enneagram as "a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships." While the Enneagram suggests that there are nine basic personality types of human nature, there are, of course, many subtypes and variations within the nine fundamental categories. Nevertheless, the assertion of Enneagram theory is that these nine adequately map out the territory of "personality types." The Enneagram is also a symbol that maps out the ways in which the nine types are related to each other. Aren’t you sorry you asked?

I confess I never got past the explanation on that one to actually take the quiz, but here's my Top 7 (in no particular order, I just came up with seven), together with the blogs where I first saw 'em:
1. What Kind of Christian Theologian Are You? (courtesy of George Partington, link at sidebar)
2. The F Scale and
3. the Gender Test (both courtesy of Jeanne d'Arc at Body and Soul, l.a.s.)
4. What Kind of Commie Are You? and
5. Which Founding Father Are You? (both courtesy of Franklin Harris, l.a.s.)
6. Which Science Fiction Writer Are You? (courtesy of Teresa Nielson Hayden at Making Light, l.a.s.)
7. "Which Mythological Character Are You?" (found this on my own as I recall)

In case anyone's curious, I took these seven quizzes, answering as truthfully as I could, and I'm:
1. John Wesley
2. A liberal airhead
3. Female
4. The Young Democrat
5. Alexander Hamilton
6. Isaac Asimov
7. A naiad

Next up, maybe someday, a list of cool interactive Flash bits, but Ampersand (l.a.s.) seems to have 'em all covered. Here's one called Fly Guy which he mentioned today. I'm loving it!

Only a few more hours till I get the hell out of midtown NY, as New York's Finest prepare to close the streets and pen in the pedestrians, not to mention taking other steps in the name of a police sta-- um, security. Buying cheap-ass champagne (Rob's sticking to his beer) and trying to imagine how Brak will go with Christopher Reeve... Have a happy and healthy end-of-2002-beginning-of-2003, y'all!

Monday, December 30, 2002

Ploughshares Into Swords, Part Umpteen

August Pollack (link at sidebar) reports today on how the scrap metal from the remains of the World Trade Center is going into building a special battleship called the USS New York. Now, I tend to disagree with August that "To look at a fallen girder and regard it as special or sacred is to create a ridiculous symbol, and that’s where I take issue." To me, the wreckage is symbolic and yeah, you could even say sacred. Not because of the buildings themselves, I always thought The Twin Towers were relatively ugly - sure, it's odd not to see them in the skyline any more, but no, it's not like they ever blended in appropriately and I'm not suddenly going to change my mind and pretend I liked them now that they're gone. What makes the wreckage more than ordinary scrap metal is the fact that it's mixed in with the remains of actual people, much of it powderized by the intense heat to the point where it's probably inseparable. Now, it's one thing for Mark Gruenwald's ashes to be mixed into a special edition of Squadron Supreme, that was a request made in his will. But I can pretty much surmise that few if any of these 3000 people would consent to having their ashes be used as part of an instrument of war. That's what I find, in August's words, utterly obscene.

Sorry if I'm in a bit of a morbid mood, but my boss' nephew was killed in a car accident a few days ago; he was a really good guy and will be much missed.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

State of the Comics

As I mention to The Guy With No Vowels somewhere in the Pen-Elayne comments below, I haven't written overmuch about comics lately. With Robin still "between assignments" despite having what little old biased me thinks is one of the best portfolios in the business, it's hard to look at comics or even publications or websites about comics and not be reminded of the sudden pinch in our household income. This, combined with the noise upstairs, has caused me to fall further and further behind in my reading; unread current titles fill 2+ boxes and I'm only just catching up on CBG. But others have been writing some fine stuff about comics, including Tim O'Shea, whose exploration of current humor comics can be found here on Pulse. This coming Thursday or Friday, whenever the shops get their haul after the holidays, look for Thor #58 to hit the shelves, featuring inks Robin did over pencils by our friend Alan Davis.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Peace on Earth

As 25 December is upon us, I take some small comfort in the belief that millions if not billions of ordinary citizens are wishing for peace on Earth, even if (or as) their leaders prepare for war, and I'd like to direct folks to the wonderful post on Escalating Nonviolence written today by Natasha (link now at left bar). Meanwhile, Peter Bergman takes on Clement Moore here and, with the rest of the Firesign Theatre, here.

We celebrated "National Jews Go to the Movies Day" (thanks, Daily Show) one day early, using our buy-one-get-one-free ticket from the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring DVD to take in The Two Towers after I got out of work yesterday. We just made it, too, having been told to go to the wrong theatre in the Loews 34th Street complex (the one printed on the ticket I bought the previous day) and not following our instincts to search for a theatre with the LCD of the correct movie's name, which was two flights down - so we had to hurry down two escalators at the end of the oddly-chick-flick-oriented previews only to find a hell of a lot more people in that theatre than were in the audience for Two Weeks' Notice. :) As it was near-packed by that point, we had to take the neck-straining seats right up front, a bit too close for the screen for both of us, but other than that things were fine.

If you allow for the fact that it's a chapter rather than a story - i.e., that it really has no beginning or ending, only a middle (something that seems to bother fewer and fewer people nowadays, and doesn't actually bother me in this particular case as I couldn't see any other way to adapt the books, but I will probably maintain to the end of my days that Empire Strikes Back was the weakest of the Star Wars movies because they had no such excuse) - this movie was easily as well done as the first chapter, probably more so. I loved how, from the opening scene onward, the tone was set to portray an old man as immensely powerful (something I also quite enjoyed about the David Eddings books I've been reading from Robin's collection, the idea of age as an acquisition of potency rather than a sign of weakening). I adored how John Rhys-Davies pretty much stole every scene he was in, even more so considering how difficult it must have been to act under all those prosthetics (and he also did the voice of Treebeard, which I thought was cool). I got a real kick out of Brad Dourif doing the sleaziest character I remember him playing since he nailed the essence of Piter de Vries in David Lynch's Dune ("the good Dune," as I call it, but then I like shots of a young Sting's near-naked body so sue me), although I must confess that every time he came on screen I couldn't stop thinking, "It is by will alone I set my mind in motion..." Like Robin, I admired the way Peter Jackson was able to weave all the different story threads together. I thought the Ent scenes were fantastic, and Gollum beyond amazing. I shook my head at Sean Astin's occasional loss of fake accent, but was glad he got to do some great stirring speeches. I wept in all the chick-flick places I was supposed to weep, squinted and sometimes closed my eyes at the copious battle scenes (I don't care for fight scenes in anything, even if they are necessary to the story), scoffed at that silly Vin Diesel-like stunt that Orlando Bloom did (those who have seen the movie know what I'm talking about), and marveled at the lovely Rohan theme music. And of course I drowned a few times in Elijah Wood's eyes. :) All in all, very worthwhile, and we even got our Christmas cards mailed out from The World's Biggest Post Office afterwards.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

I Hear People Singing, It Must Be Christmastime

Robin's just finished the rough of the art on our 2002 holiday card - yeah, we're a bit behind in sending 'em out, but I figure as long as folks get 'em by the New Year it'll be okay. (This is the same logic that says I can send out Jewish New Year cards after Rosh Hashanah, as long as folks get 'em by Yom Kippur. Thanks Mom!) So as inspiration he's been putting on the Christmas songs. As I've mentioned before, I didn't do Christmas as a kid because duh, I grew up Jewish. But as I got older and aspects of the season became more and more secularized, I sort of adopted an "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" sort of attitude. Besides, what's so funny about peace, love and understanding? So during my first marriage, my personal rituals grew to encompass collecting the Rankin/Bass and other holiday cartoons by videotaping them off the TV when they came 'round, as well as our annual reading of Dickens "A Christmas Carol," about which I've also blogged earlier. (If you want to do the same, as I mentioned in that entry and which I'd highly recommend, you can check out this website for the full text.) But while Robin has a certain limited patience for my cooing "Oh cool, the Alistair Sim version is on!", he doesn't want to know from the animated Rudolph and Hermie - his interests lie more in the audio realm.

So it is I've found myself treated to Christmas songs I'd never heard before, or never really paid attention to, when I was younger. I know most of the sacred ones from having been in a college choral group, where you can't really escape them no matter how loud you protest (I'm my mother's daughter; back in the '60s she spearheaded successful efforts to open up my elementary school holiday singalong program to more than the Christian POV), and of course the rock-oriented ones from them being on the radio back when I was a voracious listener (roughly the '70s through the mid-'80s). But there are a lot of obscure, eclectic and/or British ones I didn't know until Robin started playing them, and now they're among my favorites. For instance, he's currently playing something by Tori Amos (or as he says, "Neil Gaiman's friend") that I'm sure he's played before but I forget from year to year. I think I might have known songs like 2000 Miles before but didn't really pay attention to their beauty as much before the Annual Change of Rotation as Robin reshuffles and reprograms the CD players every Christmas, queueing up the 20+ compilations in his collection.

And this year Skippy (link at left bar) is holding an ongoing "favorite Christmas song" contest on his blog, so even though it seems like I fall in love (again) every day with a new song on Robin's CD player, I contributed "Fairytale of New York" as my favorite 'cause it's just, you know, so goofy and scruffy-boy and real. (For the record, Robin's favorite is "I Believe in Father Christmas", which is certainly in my Top 10.) But the link I supplied Skippy to the lyrics wasn't working today, so I did a search and found this link. Which is working, but wrong. You know why? Because in the chorus - you know, the part where they're insulting each other? - it self-censored the vowel in "slut" (in the lyric "you're an old slut on junk") and replaced the line "you cheap lousy faggot" with "you're cheap and you're haggard." Now that, my friend, is the definition of "politically correct," that much-misused phrase that right-wingers and ignorant message board posters all seem to think means something like "people out to destroy tradition by opining that folks should be more inclusive and nicer to each other, the spoilsports." No no, politically correct is actually a lefty term, and means (or used to mean) nothing more than "gee, we like these folks and they're well-meaning and all but this is all just a little anal-retentive, don't you think?" Anyway, I think "cleaning up" the lyrics of a song where the participants deliberately insult each other for comedic and dramatic effect because you don't want to use a purposely-derogatory phrase like "slut" or "faggot" is a bit much. So you can go here or here for the actual lyrics to "Fairytale of New York," cheap lousy faggots and all.

Well, with Lou Reed over it's time for Stina Nordenstam. Can't get much more eclectic than this. Happy merry.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Architectural Wonderment

Thanks to Lynn Sislo for passing along the Lower Manhattan Development Corp's site showing the seven new proposed designs for the World Trade Center memorial and rebuilt monstrosities. Okay, maybe they're not all monstrous. If I actually had to choose one of the seven, I'd pick the Foster and Partners plan (that's the one in the upper left of the "V" shape); Peterson/Littenberg (upper right) is okay but uninspiring, and Studio Daniel Libekind (underneath it) is kinda nice too but seems a bit crowded. If there's one thing downtown Manhattan does not need to be any more, it's crowded. A couple of the others are just plain silly. What do y'all think? Oh, and still slogging through the blogs (we shall come rejoicing, slogging through the blogs) on my "must check out soon" list, but I've added four to the left bar - Julie of Sisyphus Shrugged, Christine QuiƱones (sorry the blogroll doesn't reproduce the tilde correctly, Christine), Elaine of Kalilily and Lesley of the House of Plum.
For Information Leading to the Capture

Dwight Meredith has been chronicling the antics of Eli Lilly and Thimerosal as it relates to his own family's situation and the community at large in his blog PLA. One of his updates mentions a Washington Post report that the highly offending legislation was inserted by Dick Armey at the behest of the White House, but nobody's taking personal responsibility for it. All of Dwight's follow-ups on this subject are highly recommended as well; click here and here and here and here, in chronological order. By the way, that's not all he writes about (PLA stands for "Politics, Law and Autism"). [Dwight is also hosting the first annual Koufax Awards for left-of-center blogs and I'm, alas, not even in the running, which I chalk up entirely to delusions of grandeur coupled with the fact that I've been remiss in adding Dwight to my blogroll until now.] Anyway, all this is by way of intro because Lisa English (link at left bar) has passed along news of a $10,000 reward that TomPaine.com is offering to the first person who can provide proof of the identity of the "Eli Lilly bandit," and has asked that bloggers pass the word. So done.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

We Control The Horizontal

Briefly, this evening whilst organizing and looking at and trying to whittle down my now-almost-unmanageable list of blogs by women prior to deciding which ones to add to my must-check-daily blogroll, on Crinkle Cutz I came across a link to a short piece which she had in turn gotten from Robin at One Girl's Life. It's called "Technical Difficulties" and I think it's brilliant. Hope you agree.

Update: Brooke Biggs (link at left bar) has identified the source of the piece as moveon.org - thanks Brooke!
No Good Deed

Speaking of Doonesbury weighing in on blogs, I finally found a free e-mail service that would enable me to create a fake and anonymous identity for the sole purpose of signing up to read NY Times articles. (Apparently Hotmail no longer does this, now that MSN has taken them over.) This is a rather momentous occasion for me, as it's the first and, I hope last, e-mail persona I've ever constructed - click here to read why I don't care for online pseudonyms - and I've already lost track of the details, but the principle behind it is that I refused to sign up as myself because it's none of the NY Times' business what my income level is or where I live or anything, all I want to do is read an article from time to time, but you can't omit the answers to any of these personal questions during their registration process. So I'm finally registered as this fake person and I go to find that Lisa Guernsey article on the supposed dearth of women bloggers for purposes of linking to it directly as a service to non-subscribers. But I get the feeling anyone who clicks on the link I just set up still won't be able to get it, even though I now can. Let me know if the link works (and one hopes my Haloscan code won't blink out again). If you want to read the first two paragraphs you can search on the Times' website but they'll make you pay for the rest (presumably a percentage of that goes to Guernsey, thanks to the Tasini decision). Ah well, if it doesn't work you can't say I didn't try. (There you are, a triple negative to get you through the day!)
Gary's Elephant

Well, this Doonesbury certainly made my jaw drop. The anti-war movement not building on campuses? Okay, given his take on blogs maybe it shouldn't surprise me that Trudeau is a bit out of touch with the zeitgeist, as it were, but any 2-second Google search on the words "anti-war" and "campus" does wonders to refute the lie of pervasive student apathy. Heck, according to most accounts the student anti-war movement of today is much more organized and vociferous than in Trudeau's halcyon '60s. But I suppose any propaganda (particularly from a supposed anti-war sympathizer) repeated often or syndicated widely enough has a chance of becoming the received wisdom. Good luck to Trudeau in cleaning the elephant dung out of his living room.

Monday, December 16, 2002

The Island of Misfit Blogs

I was going to blog some more about the holiday season, inspired by Ampersand and Devra. And I was going to blog some more about cultural versus political feminism, inspired by Body & Soul and Blogsisters. And I was going to agree with Peter David and disagree with Mark Evanier re: Al Gore's appearance on SNL. And I was going to blog on Blogsisters about the "Boobi--" I mean, "Cleavage" show all but sponsored by Victoria's Secret that was on A&E last week. But my boss is overworking me and my upstairs neighbors have gotten worse (geez, move out already!) and Robin's been sick and still has no new assignments so I'm kind of in a money funk and so I'm just very, very tired lately. Thank you to all the wonderful writers in the blogosphere in general for continuing to give me all this great stuff to read daily, even though I'm unable at present to return the favor. Somewhere, I'm sure, there's a library filled with computers housing amazing blog entries never written, just like Lucien's library of never-written books in The Sandman. Just pretend I have three or four of those lost ones from this past week.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

The Shizzle Hits The Fan

Well, I may not have secured that WAV of the Japanese version of "When Children Rule the World" yet, but at least one burning Pen-Elayne question has finally been answered. Jenny Gonzalez informs me that "Fa (or Fo) Shizzle" is "hip hop slang, kind of like saying 'no doubt about it.' It's just fun to talk like that is all! :)" Well, in these perilous times one must take one's fun where one can get it, fo shizzle! (Hmm, it just doesn't sound right combining hip-hop slang with words like "perilous," does it?)

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Chatzmich Sameach

So nu, the holidays are upon us, including what Nancy Walls referred to on last night's Daily Show as "National Jews Go To the Movies Day" on December 25. But what, wonders Ken Miller, would Christmas be like if it were a Jewish holiday, complete with the obligatory laws and even a Hagadah? Thus Hilchos Xmas, brought to my attention by Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making Light blog (link at left bar). Maybe the Hilchos could become indispensable for these oxymorons, who knows?
Inhuman Rights

Well, I for one have a warm and fuzzy feeling that the Bush Administration waited until the day after International Human Rights Day to declare their strategy to “respond with overwhelming force,” including “all options,” to the use of biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapons on the nation, its troops or its allies. Of course, concepts like "allies" and "respond" being as mutable to our leaders as the definition of racism is to Trent Lott, this outbreak of machismo does nothing to endear the US to the rest of the world and everything to fuel the fires of anti-American hatred. I'm still puzzled as to why this administration's idiotic pronouncements seem to want to encourage more terrorism instead of preventing it.

Hope to contribute a piece to Blogsisters a bit later about last night's "Cleavage" show on A&E, which wasn't about cleavage at all but about boobies. Two hours of boobies, apparently brought to us by Victoria's Secret. One step forward, two jiggles back. As usual, blogging dependent on my workday, which looks to be a killer.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Live Like Him

Jeanne d'Arc has a lovely remembrance of Father Phil Berrigan on her blog. And if you want to read Berrigan's self-epitaph, Natalie Davis (link at left bar) reproes it here.

Lots of HerBlogs ("herblog" is also untaken at Blogspot, by the way) to sift through - and I've hardly begun what with not yet recovering from a work week that had to consist of around 50 hours for no overtime nor comp time - but from just the first few I've perused so far I suspect there's a lot to blogroll in the next week or so. And I was able to exercise my righteous indignation over at Blogsisters (link at left bar) regarding an issue near and dear to my heart, women who choose to get ahead in a chosen profession by acting and dressing all girly and flirtatious. Not having been soft and cute myself since, oh, age 9 or so, I've always looked at these Reindeer Games People Play from a distance as my nose glows (yes, Robin and I both have miserable colds). I found writing that little diatribe quite freeing, as Blogsisters is a female safe space and it's a lot easier to go off on a feminist rant there, amid other feminists and girlists and the like, than to do it on, for instance, comic book message boards, where even a stray gag about a goodgirl artist brings the defensive response from one male reader, "No offense, Elayne, but I'd rather read one of your long repetitive monologues on feminism than see you using a cheap joke like this." Boy, and they call feminists angry! :) (See, Jeanne, you aren't the only one getting silly comments.) Oh, and I've also officially joined Blogs by Women - see all the way down on the left bar. Thanks to Bonnie and Sara for helping me with the coding.

Friday, December 06, 2002

More on BlogGals

Thanks to Jeanne d'Arc at Body & Soul (link at left bar) both Ampersand (l.a.l.b.) and I have discovered the work of Mikhaela Reid, who will also go on my Women Doing Comics list at the next update, and who's now blogrolled at left along with Diane E., thanks to Skippy (l.a.l.b.), and Brooke Biggs, thanks to Diane. I had to laugh whilst reading Jeanne's great entry about having a file full of blogs that she wants to peruse prior to blogrolling, as I have the same "problem." Particularly now that I'm planning to participate on Blogsisters (l.a.l.b.), and considering I worked an almost 12-hour day again yesterday making computer reading tricky at best during a busy day and the last thing I want to do in the evenings. Between Jeanne's lists of female blogs to read and Skippy's e-mail to Ms. Musings (l.a.l.b.) listing more fembloggers, I feel like I have to play a mean game of catch-up now, maybe this weekend whilst the upstairs neighbors bang about (in preparation, the rumor mill again has it and if there's a God in heaven, for moving out). An embarrassment of riches, to be sure!

[Update: MadKane (l.a.l.b.) just blogged about how so many of us have been discussing the subject of female bloggers lately? Coincidence? Probably not, considering we all read each other's entries. :) I was going to take her "gender differences in the workplace" quiz but then I came to the question which started "When someone's secretary asks for beverage orders..." and decided to boycott on principle because I am "someone's secretary" (I work for the CEO and my answer to question 5 is "b" which I seem to do, oh, pretty much my every waking hour) and we secretaries do seem relegated to taken-for-granted invisibility anyway, apparently even in gender quizzes. :) ]

Artist Robin Riggs, who's inked a whole lot of cool folks in the dozen years he's been a comic industry professional, turns 41 years old today. Happy birthday to my beloved!

(Today is also the 36th birthday of JSA penciller Leonard Kirk, and the 66th birthday of Firesign Theatre member David Ossman. Oh, and Kath David gave birth to Caroline Helen yesterday; read all about it - and offer your congratulations - at Peter's blog, link at left bar.)

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Sushi and Vampires

Yesterday was our 4th wedding anniversary (and by the way, if you're in a romantic mood as I obviously am you owe it to yourself to check out this entry in Wil Wheaton's blog), so to celebrate I informed my boss (with few regrets considering I worked an 11½-hour day on my birthday Monday and a 9½-hour day on Tuesday) that I'd be leaving regular time (after "only" 9 straight hours) so Robin and I could go to dinner and a show. Because, after all, nothing says "anniversary" like raw fish and bloodsuckers.

Rob picked me up at work, resplendent in his long black levva coat ("levva" being, of course, the Scruffy-Boy-from-Souf-o'-London pronunciation of "leather"); I wore my blood-red velvety turtleneck. I'm pleased to report that the 46th Street location of Monster Sushi is every bit as good as the one in Chelsea, if not better because the place was fairly empty at 6 PM and we got really speedy service as a result (and got to sit across from the sushi bar so I could watch the magic). Afterwards we considered strolling up to Rockefeller Center for like a millisecond (it was tree-lighting time) but opted for the brief stroll to the Minskoff instead, to scope out the area a bit before the theatre opened for the 8 PM showing of Dance of the Vampires.

I hadn't been in the Times Square area at night in a few years (I usually catch the subway at 40th Street on days when I go to Midtown Comics) so it came as a bit of a surprise to me how bright it's gotten. Okay, there's always been neon in the area, but not in such intense concentration so as to make it feel almost like daylight. Eerie, but pretty. The Minskoff itself is quite lovely, cozy (less than 1700 seats, just a tad uncomfortable on the hips but not that bad) but well-appointed, and the alleyway between the theatre entrance and the stage door (which straddles 44th and 45th Streets) was covered so it cut down nicely on the cold wind. The theatre is now apparently brought to all by Mercedes-Benz. Did you know that it takes about 2-3 weeks to ship the cars from Germany to Mercedes' Vehicle Processing Center in Baltimore, after which-- oops, sorry, in "work mode" again. [This is the sort of thing that floats around in my head nowadays, leaving no room for memories of fictional plots and the like.]

But that's not what you care about. The play's the thing, eh? Now bear in mind they're still officially in "previews," as the director has had to care for his ailing mum (who passed away last Sunday), so things are always being tweaked here and there. For instance, Peter and Kath David went to an showing in October and it's entirely possible they saw lots of different stuff than we did, and vice versa. We know for a fact that many details in the final scene were added just two weeks ago, for instance. (How we know this will be explained shortly.) Also bear in mind that the main reason we got tickets for this baby was that we're big fans of Jim Steinman, who did the music and lyrics for all the songs in addition to co-writing the book. So we knew what to expect, and we got it, and overall we were pretty darn happy with it. It was quite funny and winning and Wagnerian (and even Gilbert & Sullivanish in one song) and, well, Steinmanesque, and I only winced once, during "When Love Is Inside You" - a song that, for me, never managed to rise above the level of embarrassing gay-themed double entendres. I expect better of Steinman than a clunky line about a banana peeling. But Michael Crawford was the presence you'd expect him to be, and considering that it was his second show of the day (and that Steinman's music is hella demanding on just about anyone) his voice was remarkably strong during Act I, particularly --SLIGHT SPOILER-- when he holds a note for about three minutes at the end of "Come With Me," the last song in that act. And the cast, especially the energetic ensemble, was in fine form; it exhausted me just looking at them bound around! Although I must confess, I really don't like the current trend of everyone being electronically mic'ed. Why, in my day, son, performers were expected to project their voices (uphill both ways!) without aid of microphones, and I think hearing the sounds coming from their mouths rather than from speakers added to the essential theatre experience of direct communication between performer and audience.

But I'm old, and tonight (well, last night) is what it meant to be young. Yes, auto-cannibalization out the wazoo, not a surprise considering Steinman threw the songs together for the original Vienna production in something like a month and a half. I thought most of the reprises worked, but Robin felt the earlier MP3 snippets we've heard worked better than some of Steinman's rewrites, particularly on "Total Eclipse of the Heart." It's tough, that's such a well-known song (confirmed by the nervous jaded-by-Moulin Rouge audience titters signifying, "hey wait, why are they using this pop tune in this musical?" - um, because Steinman wrote that pop tune?) that the "real" lyrics tend to stick in your mind when listening to the redo, but I didn't really have a problem with it. The funniest moment for me was the last scene. --BIG OL' SPOILER-- It took place in present day, and the ensemble all wore--yes--long black levva coats.

Thanks to David Gabriel from the NYC Comic Book Museum, we got to meet cast member David Benoit afterwards, who showed us around backstage. It was pretty amazing, this was the first time either of us had ever been on a Broadway stage and in the wings & such, and we got to walk around where they'd just been singing and dancing moments before, see all the cool techie stuff involving the elaborate sets, etc. David also gave us details on what had just been added, such as the finishing touches in the last scene, and of course we got our requisite Steinman gossip. Seems he's really nice but "eccentric." Reminded me of what Glinda told Dorothy about the Wizard: "Very good, but very mysterious." For instance, he's worn the exact same outfit to every single rehearsal/performance (the bit I remembered most was David detailing the "Converse sneakers held together by gaffer tape"), so David figured he probably had a closet full of identical outfits, kinda like a superhero has dozens of copies of the same costume. Heh, I live for this stuff. :)

Home at midnight, and I'm exhausted and bleary-eyed and berated by boss & wife again this morning, but at least they can't take last night away from me.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Blogchicks, Part Deux

Lots of us blog-gals (apparently "bloggal" isn't taken either at Blogspot; what a great word, I hope someone grabs it!) have taken note of Ms.' new blog - link now (as opposed to NOW) at left bar, along with links to blogs by Lisa English and Natalie Davis. In looking for my last post on this subject (responding to Jeanne d'Arc's entry about Tapped having apparent trouble linking to femblogs - yes, there is a "femblog" at Blogspot but it seems inactive), I noticed an interesting comment from Beavis Christ, who I hope doesn't mind if I pass his/her words along: "What a crock today's NY Times delivers: A story that tries to trot out page 476 from the journalism cliche book and relate it to blogs: Are blogs male-dominated? That kind of quotathink does not work here for two simple reasons: (1) Anyone of any gender who wants to start a blog can. Nobody will stop them. So you can't argue that some bigger power structure -- blog executives, the old blog boys club -- is stopping them. The only thing stopping nonbloggers from not blogging is themselves. That, after all, is the whole point of this new medium: It's anybody's. It's everybody's. (2) There are many, many great women bloggers. I don't need to start listing them. You know them. Even the writer has to admit that there is no frigging point to her story: 'But women are, in fact, blogging in big numbers.' So why write it? Why print it? Just because it fits?" I more or less agree here, blogs are pretty much self-starters. However, even if there are lots of women bloggers their relative (that's the key word when you're comparing one population sector to another) invisibility as compared to male bloggers may be worth exploring insofar as it relates to women's relative comfort level with technology, for instance. As I said before, I think blogging is all still too new to come to any sort of definitive conclusions that don't begin with versions of "I suspect...", but I think it might be a nice idea for LiveJournal or Blogger or somesuch to try to amass a gender survey among their users (and perhaps track this over time) so we can move from talking about this in purely anecdotal and subjective terms towards something approaching actual numbers. It still wouldn't necessarily address root questions like relative gender invisibility, but neither do other surveys concerning women in the newsroom, women in the comics industry, women gamers, etc., and the lack of a concrete catch-all solution shouldn't stop us from amassing the info and asking the questions.

Monday, December 02, 2002

I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus

Well, I know of one bozo, at least. Story here, and here. It's one thing to get "creative" when trying to avoid NYC traffic, a lot of bus drivers do that, but geez, don't get stupidly snippy with the yuppie passengers, y'know?
A Pair of 45s Made Me Open My Eyes

Today is my 45th birthday, and contrary to the Hollies lyric used in the header I'm not planning on either shooting up the place or getting breast surgery, depending on one's interpretation of the song. Although the way the day started out here at the office, I was debating whether I should rethink the former route. I don't think it's me; as I've mentioned before, I like celebrating birthdays. I suspect this place just makes people irritable. Despite a lovely and unexpected present of perfume-I-will-never-use from the coworker in the next cubicle, I tensed up within the first half hour of arrival - terrific way to come back from a 4-day holiday. My boss is in, and has already assured me I will not be receiving my annual review as a birthday present (I've been waiting since my work anniversary back in August, and with Robin between assignments I could really use the presumed retroactive raise, even if it is just 1% or something). But little pretty things are popping up here and there, like the last stubborn birds who haven't yet migrated south. I spent the first work hour interpreting messages from callers (many of whom haven't even basic phone skills) to pass on to our telemarketers, and my second unexpected birthday present came from our receptionist, who took it upon herself to transcribe at least half the messages by hand after she'd passed on the others to me (thus proving that I'm far from the only worker capable of performing this not-to-be-done-when-my-boss-is-in task but never mind, let it go). I got flowers from one of our uber-brokers. And we had pizza for lunch. [I'd asked for sushi but was pretty sure I wouldn't get it, and I was right.] All in all, and as expected, just another day. But I'm still pleased as punch that I've made it this far, considering the alternative. (Posted at about 1:00 PM despite what the log says.)