Category Archives: Theater

The truth is that the translators have gotten ridiculously better than they used to be. I used to actually rely on them being kind of bad, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We’re going to find out at the end of this post.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everybody got two and eventually three wrestlers, though I would eventually take over for other people and then I’d have more until I had eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My premier wrestler was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying so his manager made stuff up. One was a Best Buy security guy who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last was a middle-eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce the broken English? Through translations of course. What I would do is I would take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then back to English. The result was English words that sort of made sense but something had obviously gotten lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter got re-translated to “Hunter of the Cousin.” Words with dual meaning plus syntax and it really worked out pretty well. I want to say that I used Russian because Spanish didn’t shake things up enough and other languages weren’t available.

So today we’re going to find out if that would even work by running this post through three languages. Spanish, because obviously, Russian because that’s what I think it used, and Arabic because that’s what I would use today:

Russian

The truth is that the translators got ridiculously better than before. Previously, I relied on them as a bad thing, and I’m not sure if I can anymore. We will find out about this at the end of this message.

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Spanish

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a simulated wrestling league, with the WWF wrestling game on the N64. Everyone had two and eventually three fighters, although they would eventually take control of other people and then have more until they had eight or more. Three of them were not Americans. My first fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying, so his manager did things. One was a Best Buy security guy who emigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-speak. The last one was a Middle Eastern guy who spoke in broken English.

How did I produce broken English? Through course translations. What I would do is take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then go back to English. The result was English words that made sense but something was obviously lost in the translation. Bounty Hunter returned to translate to “Hunter of the Cousin”. Dual meaning words plus syntax and really worked pretty well.

Russian

When I was in college, my roommate Dennis started a pretended wrestling league, where the WWF wrestling game on N64. All got two and, ultimately, three wrestlers, although I will eventually take on other people, and then I will have more until I have eight or so. Three of them were non-Americans. My main fighter was a guy from an undisclosed country. Nobody understood what he was saying, so his manager earned. One of them was a guy from Best Buy, who immigrated from Germany, who spoke in Ahnold-talk. The last was a middle-aged guy who spoke broken English.

How did I make broken English? Of course, translations. What would I do, I would take what I had to say, run it through Russian (I think), and then return to English. As a result, there were English words that made sense, but something clearly lost in translation. The Bounty Hunter was transferred to the “Cousin Hunter”. Words with a double value plus syntax, and it really turned out pretty well.

Arabic:

When I was in college, my friend Denis started to simulate the league wrestling, with the Wrestling Wrestling game on the N64. Everyone got two eventually three wrestlers, although I would eventually take over to other people, and then I would have even more had me eight or so. Three of them non-Americans. The premier wrestler was a man from an undisclosed country. No one understood what he was saying so that his manager made things. One of the best security man was to buy Hagar from Germany, who spoke in Arnold’s speech. He was the last man in the Middle East who spoke in broken English.

How did English produced a break? Through the translation of course. What I will do is that I will take what he had to say, run it through Russian (I think) and then return to English. The result was English words that were sensitive but something had obviously lost in the translation. Hunter’s reward got re-translated into “hunter cousin”. Words with double meaning plus syntax and they really worked very well.

Verdict:

Well, Spanish works too well to work, but that was the case back then, too. Russian worked well enough at the time, but now wouldn’t work. But Arabic would work! There is work to do there, apparently. The sign in question above was in Hebrew, which would probably (?) have some of the same liabilities.


Category: Theater

So far good. In fact, a pretty good looking guy for his age.

So far, still good. In fact, that’s a nice head of hair.

Something went horribly wrong here.


Category: Theater

You may be aware of the Disney movie Frozen. Lain hasn’t seen it yet, though she has an Ilsa doll that she got as a gift. But there was another movie by the name that came out a few years before.

It’s a very, very different movie.

The acting was okay. I only recognized one of the actors as the kid partner from The Following.

Not Disney’s Frozen is about three friends who get stuck on a sky lift. Nobody is going to be back for five days and if they don’t do something about it, they’re going to freeze to death. It’s an independent filmmaker’s dream of a plot, because for filming all you need to do is rent out a ski area when it’s not being used and that’s all you have to do for location expenses! All of the drama takes place right there.

The downside to that plot is that it’s hard to fill 90 minutes with it. They aren’t stuck until they’re about 30 minutes in. Some of the stretches of the movie are pretty slow. It’s one of those movies to watch while you’re doing something else.

Don’t watch it right before bed, though, because it is really really dark. I will share with you only one spoiler to give you an idea of how dark. One of the characters, after breaking his legs jumping off the ski lift, is eaten alive by wolves while the others look away. And the kicker? His fate isn’t the worst of the three.

The jumping character made the mistake of holding his legs out straight. Anyone who has ever watched movies knows that’s not what you do. It turns out that I was wrong about what you do do, though. I thought you’d be best just jumping in a ball, but you’re supposed to have bent legs that take some of the pressure as you fall. Lesson learned!

Anyway, I neither recommend the movie nor tell you to stay away from it. You can watch it for free (with ads) on TubiTV. It’s a good background movie, but only if you’re in the mood for something dark.


Category: Theater

When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

{Note: None of the videos themselves are especially interesting. They are chosen for the music.}


Category: Theater

While visiting home, I’ve been listening to some good ole country music. One of the artists has been James McMurtry. One of the songs that came up is this one:

This song was written in 2005, as a protest with an eye on the re-election of George W Bush. There were many of its kind, though this one was particularly good. It focused a bit on blood overseas but mostly depression at home. The title, “We Can’t Make It Here” relates to manufacturing and a nation basically feeling underwater. As far as economics go, the song isn’t great as it decries both the low minimum wage and the fact that those jobs are being sent overseas. To Singapore, of all places, which to my knowledge is not exactly known for low wages (though, importantly, does rhyme in the appropriate place).

mcmurtryWhat’s noteworthy about the song is that if you listen to it in 2016, it’s orbits around being something of a Trump anthem. Not just a matter of manufacturing and the like, but the haunting apocalyptic feel of it. The jobs are being shipped overseas and the factories are closing, oh and drug abuse and crime while people try to cope, “high on Jesus or hooked up dope.” He was talking about much of the same America that Trump was. McMurtry mightbe horrified by the comparison, and perhaps rightly as their prescriptions for what ails us do not perfectly overlap. But that gets into the specifics, and neither Trump nor McMurtry are models of internal consistency and deliberate policy.

McMurtry himself was at least somewhat aware of the potential for his lyrics to come across the wrong way, as he throws in what Clancy and I call a “Not Racist!” verse, in reference to Singapore:

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in
Should I hate ?em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away

The view from Asia may be entirely different. Which is to say, you don’t hate them for taking the jobs, but hating that they have the jobs might still not go over super well. That’s not something Donald Trump has expressed particular concern about. And McMurtry sings about “Will I work for food, will I die for oil, Will kill for power and to us the spoils“… Trump has talked about the spoils of war, but without the air of disapproval. Though the slogan “America First” has a loaded history and a lot of baggage, I don’t consider the sentiment behind it – to an extent – beyond the pale. But it does run contrary to the one-worldism of the contemporary left, and explains the distance between McMurtrian discontent and the Democratic Party.


Category: Theater

Because I know you wanted to know! Given my track record, consider this advice on who not to bet on. I made some sort of mistake putting three on Louisville over LSU. But what’s done is done.

New Mexico over UTSA (3)
Houston over San Diego State (1)
Appalachian State over Toledo (1)
Central Florida over Arkansas State (2)
Southern Miss over Louisiana (2)
Tulsa over Central Michigan (3)
Memphis over Western Kentucky (2)
BYU over Wyoming (1)
Colorado State over Idaho (2)
Old Dominion over Eastern Michigan (1)
Navy over Louisiana Tech (2)
Troy over Ohio (2)
Hawaii over Middle Tennessee (1)
Mississippi State over Miami U (2)
Maryland over NC State (2)
Army over North Texas (3)
Temple over Wake Forest (2)
Washington State over Minnesota or Northern Illinois (3)
Boise State over Baylor (3)
Pittsburgh over Northwestern (2)
West Virginia over Miami (2)
Utah over Indiana (3)
Kansas State over Texas A&M (1)
South Florida over South Carolina (2)
Virginia Tech over Arkansas (2)
Colorado over Okahoma State (2)
TCU over Georgia (1)
Stanford over North Carolina (2)
Nebraska over Tennessee (1)
Air Force over South Alabama (3)
Michigan over Florida State (2)
Louisville over LSU (3)
Georgia Tech over Kentucky (1)
Alabama over Washington (3)
Ohio State over Clemson (3)
Wisconsin over Western Michigan (2)
Florida over Iowa (1)
USC over Penn State (2)
Oklahoma over Auburn (3)
Alabama over Ohio State (3)Photo by Parker Knight


Category: Theater

Saturday Night Live hit a home run with this one:

The initial response was along the lines of The Hill, wherein it say that Hanks was “mocking” Trump supporters. But the portrayal is clearly affectionate to at least some degree and it really took some blinders not to see that. Or, it takes the assumption of a blue collar cadence as inherent mockery.

Then there was a round of people saying that it was about unity. Which goes off a bit too far in the other direction, because it ends on a bit of a dour note. After forming passerby-relationships with the host and other contestants, the subject of Black Lives Matter (implicitly) came up. Before we can see what happens, the skit ends. Jamelle Bouie describes the importance of the ending well:

Because the bulk of the sketch is this humanizing back-and-forth between Doug, the black host, the black contestants, and the black audience, it’s easy to read the message as a plea for tolerance and understanding. There’s more that unites us than there is that divides us. You can even add a class analysis: Black Americans share more than just common culture with some Trump supporters; they share common interests. There are important limits to this, beyond the universe of SNL: Because of its roots in the South, black culture shares an affinity with the rural white life that Doug represents. It’s not clear this would exist between, say, a black audience and a Trump-supporting professional from outside Milwaukee. But at this point, the sketch’s argument seems barely implicit: We need to work together instead of pitting ourselves against each other.

Then comes the final punchline, “Lives That Matter.” Obviously, the answer to the question is “black.” But Doug has “a lot to say about this.” Which suggests that he doesn’t think the answer is that simple. Perhaps he thinks “all lives matter,” or that “blue lives matter,” the phrasing used by those who defend the status quo of policing and criminal justice.

The only real disagreement I have (except with some slightly different priors) is that I don’t know that they really went into it wanting to make much of a point at all. It was funny because it was intended to be, as opposed to en route to an explanation of the human condition. We assign meaning to it because (for some of us, at least) it rang true. The humor required elements of truth, and it delivered. But beyond that, I think it was mostly a humorous portrayal of the commonality as well as, as Bouie says, the divisions.


Category: Theater

m2_147_ah2_1sht_V4.indd

-{This post assumes that you have not watched the Amazon series Alpha House and either have no intention to or don’t mind spoilers.}-

There will, evidently, be no Season 3 of Alpha House. This is not a huge surprise. Real life rendered the show redundant.

A brief explanation of what the show is about. It follows four Republican senators through their personal and professional lives. Keeping the character descriptions as short as I can, they go:

Senator Gil John Biggs, played by John Goodman. He’s a former UNC basketball coach who went into politics mostly on account of his wife’s (Julie White) ambitions. Over the course of the series he gradually drifts towards the center on climate change, military sexual assault issues, among others I can’t recall. He’s probably the most sympathetic of the lot. Senator Robert Bettencourt, played by Clark Johnson, an African-American from Pennsylvania and stylistically doesn’t deviate much from other characters played by Clark Johnson. Senator Louis Laffer, played by Matt Malloy, an effeminate Mormon from Nevada. Most of his story is his mentally dancing around his apparent sexual attraction to men, and some jokes about Mormonism. Senator Andy Guzman, played by Mark Consuelos. He’s intended to be a parody of Marco Rubio and is really the only character who takes the place of a real senator.

On the whole, the show was surprisingly sympathetic to its Republican characters given the givens. The only bad character was Guzman, and he was coming around. Even Laffer, the anti-gay gay guy, had endearing aspects. It even undercut one of its themes (Republicans are the party of Old White Men) by insisting on a diverse cast (giving us black Bettencourt, Hispanic Guzman, and a black and couple gay aides) It is what it is, of course, and I always have to grade such shows on a curve. But given the constraints of Hollywood, a failed Turing Test here and a lefty sermon there are somethings I can live with. I’ll take what I can get, and I lament that there won’t be more. I recommend the show to anyone who follows politics who is not either (a) a liberal who believes conservatives must be portrayed with horns on their heads, or (b) a conservative really sensitive about being made fun of.

The show ends with Laffer slowly realizing his homosexuality, Bettencourt waiting on the returns of a really close re-election race against real life Ed Rendell, Guzman gearing up for a presidential bid, and Biggs being urged by some to run. I was not surprise when the announcement of a third season was indefinitely delayed. The show weaved between reality (Obama is president, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul exist, Rendell and Schumer appear) and fiction (none of the principals are real, and Rubio doesn’t exist). And the entire point of the show is to ridicule Republicans. What could this show possibly do to the GOP that the GOP hasn’t been actively doing to itself?

The more I thought about it, though, I was thinking about it all wrong. There was actually a more fascinating story to tell that would have made Season 3 amazing. And very in keeping with the character, if not the original intent, of the show. One of the things I’ve constantly wondered was what it would be like to be a Republican congresscritter while all of this was going on.

There were a couple of ways that the show could have handled this. They could have inserted two of the characters into the race with Biggs as Kasich and Guzman as (of course) Rubio. They also could have inserted a new character in place of Ted Cruz and just kind of had at it. It would have been a great deal of fun if they could have pulled it off. I go back and forth on whether it would work better with the Kasich/Biggs thing or without it (if it would have made it too busy), but John Kasich’s campaign was so weird that there’s some comedy material in there somewhere. If they go this route, I would probably swap Trump out with a similarly atrocious reality TV candidate pattered off Duck Dynasty (Rip Torn may be available).

An alternative to that is simply to have any and all presidential runs fail and have them hanging out in DC while all of this is going on. This might be easier, and ultimately more fulfilling. Start the show right about the time Rubio (Guzman) drops out. Keep the three-person race as Trump/Cruz/Kasich or swap them out for Torn/somebody/somebody if you want them to appear on the show as characters or you want to avoid the characters endorsing real live politicians.

In any case, just as I believe House Slythrin would be the most interesting House to be a fly on the wall in Harry Potter, the Republican caucus would be a more fascinating (and more hilarious) venue than it was from 2012-14, the first two seasons. I can envision plots of people trying to get them on board the Trump Train (or Torn Train or whatever) and I’ll even take an eye-rolling scene where they refuse to endorse their party’s nominee (except I’ll be cheering instead of rolling my eyes).


Category: Theater

goodwife

I know that I often talk about (and complain about) the liberal skew of Hollywood productions. Which I think is fair, but I should also point out when they do something I would like to see more of. I had an email exchange recently about politics and entertainment which reminded me of a post I’d long wanted to write about The Good Wife. This post assumes that you have not watched the show, and don’t care to, and will have some relatively inconsequential (or predictable) spoilers.

The basic premise behind The Good Wife is Alicia Florek as a protagonists whose husband is caught in a sexy political scandal, forcing her to transition from a Stay-At-Home-Mother back into the workplace, in this case a law firm. For the most part, though, it’s a political and legal drama with Alicia at the center of it, both in court and with her husband on the political stage.

The show takes place in Chicago, which means that almost all of its politics are going to be skewed to the left. Along these lines, it would have been easy and inconspicuous for conservatives to be notably absent and their view either unrepresented or poorly represented and liberal perspectives to be embedded in the show across the board. For the most part, this is how the show ran for the first few seasons. Though even early on, there were exceptions and indications that they weren’t going to stick with that formula.

The show had (basically) three elections over its run, with almost all of the participants being Democrats because Chicago. In all but one race[1], the Floreks found themselves up against somebody running to their left. This served to moderate the Floreks, comparatively speaking, as they pursued white and/or centrist voters[2]. This lead to a decent plot thread wherein a member of the Florek family figured out that they were targeting the white vote specifically against his black opponent. But it introduced a degree of ambiguity that served the show well.

Sometimes shows with politics to go out of their way to make all of the bad guys Republicans[3]. They managed to avoid that by recognizing that when they needed an unexpected racist that it might be better to make him a progressive liberal that everybody in the office looked up to. Little things like that matter, especially given “Family Values Republican actually a sexual deviant” is more a cliche than a twist, at this point.

They also introduced Kurt McVeigh (no relation), a reasonably well-developed rightwing character. He was introduced as a ballistics expert, but became the romantic interest to Diane, the most liberal character on the show. Setting aside political preferences and such, it interwove liberal and conservative characters in a way that I would really like to see more of. It’s not just about having different perspectives represented, but it makes for more entertaining television when everybody in the room doesn’t share the same basic orientation.

Where the show really hit its stride in this regard was in the later seasons, when I think they were running out of ideas to keep the show going. Among other things, they brought in Oliver Platt as a conservative character who hired the firm and used Diane to bounce ideas off of. This lead to a great episode where they talked about RFRA and gay wedding cakes. Platt and company talked about the prospects of a cake baker, and eventually isolated a wedding planner as the best case to find and bring suit. Diane, who fell squarely on the side of gay couples, got the last word. But nonetheless it was well done. And from there, Diane went on to help one of Platt’s intermediaries with a PP Video case that she viewed as a First Amendment issue, much to the chagrin of everybody else at the firm.

Though the above may give a faulty impression, The Good Wife falls squarely to the left, on the whole. But impressive-to-me, they never let that get in the way of telling a good or interesting story. I have multiple motivations for getting on my soapbox on the subject, but the most basic reason I want to see more variety is simply because it can make better stories that way. The legal aspects of The Practice were better than Boston Legal simply by having Helen Gamble (Laura Flynn Boyle) on the show[4]. This doesn’t just apply to legal and political dramas (for those in particular, a skew usually makes narrative sense and there is only one skew they can pull off), but more or less anything where politics is likely to come up.

[1] The exception was the Illinois Governor’s race, wherein Peter was running against Maura Tierney, who was running to his left, and then a general election against Matthew Perry, who played an ideologically nondescript Republican.

[2] Everything in this post is a simplification. They actually spent more time pursuing the black vote, with Peter forming a bond with a black preacher, and so on. But there were two plot threads wherein the Floreks pursued voters that at least some participants were uncomfortable with. Peter’s dogwhistling and later Alicia’s run against a rumored-to-be-gay David Hyde Pierce.

[3] One example, The Event, had a protagonist president and an antagonist vice president, so what were they to do? Why, they decided to make it a unity ticket. That way, the president could be a intimated Democrat and the vice president a Republican. Presto!

[4] Boston Legal did have a couple of conservative characters, but more as foils than anything. Denny Crane was crazy, and Brad Chase was ineffectual. It was – until the end, anyway – better than nothing, but it was what it was.


Category: Theater

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Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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