Sunday, October 29, 2017

Something on Sunday, 10/29

I keep thinking I'll be back to blogging on the regular and I truly will.

But for today's Something on Sunday, I want to talk about two amazing plays that I've seen in the past two weeks.

I saw the Broadway in Boston touring cast of the musical Fun Home, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. It was gorgeous, and such a pleasure!  I didn't actually love the comic when I read it years ago; the collection of scenes from the author's uncomfortable childhood didn't try to come together as a story, or even as portraits exactly. The book almost deliberately refused to draw conclusions, only presented things as they occurred.

The play, though, focused on the throughline of comparing her experience with her father's, and examining her father's character.  It added charm and humanity that the book often lacked--even in the happiest moments of the book, no one smiles--probably because in real life, they did not.

The score breaks down the emotional complexities and gives her father's character an inner life that is invaluable in this story.  I tried listening to it before I went and I couldn't click with it--there are large chunks of dialogue on the cast album, and out of context they didn't catch me.  But now that I've seen it, I listen over and over again.  It's sweet and sad and funny (go listen to Changing My Major!) and I loved it a lot.

The other show I saw was a premiere of a new play called A Guide for the Homesick, by Ken Urban.  It wouldn't have crossed my radar, but the playwright was Lily's professor in college, so we decided to go.  All I knew was that it was about two men who meet at a hotel in Amsterdam; one is on vacation, the other on his way home from working in Africa. A tense encounter, etc. 

Two guys talking in a room is always the kind of description that makes me nervous--are we just going to learn about their souls and nothing will happen?  But no, a lot happened, and in the best way. It was tragic and horrible and I loved--LOVED--every character.  The acting was incredible; the character switching that was required was intense and done flawlessly.  There was a lot of darkness, but there was also a lot of connecting, and healing. 

I don't know, there are a lot of reveals and I hope this becomes a famous play that you'll all see someday, so I don't want to spoil anything.  And if you're in Boston, you have another week to see it--you should, go, do that ASAP (the Huntington, at the BCA).  But I think what made it amazing is that the playwright is so deft--there are moments that feel kind of like, ugh, theatrical device--in real life the guy who says "maybe I should go now" would just actually leave the room, but it's a play that won't happen unless he stays, so he does.  But as the story unfolds, you realize, no, this is EXACTLY what this character would do--this is him.  There is nothing forced about this.

It was so damned good, and such a wonderful surprise.  God, I love good theater. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Something on Sunday, 10/22

Did anyone besides me and my sister grow up on live action Disney movies like Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Escape to Witch Mountain? Do any of you remember the sublime spookiness that was Bette Davis's last role in Watcher in the Woods?  Wait, don't answer that.  I'm horribly afraid you're going to say no.

Watcher in the Woods was a creepfest for 12-year-old me about a family that moves to a remote village and the two sisters start having odd things happen in their old house.  It turns out the the daughter of the house's owner (creepy old Bette Davis who lives in the cottage out back) disappeared years ago and no one knows what happened to her.  Younger sister Ellie keeps spacing out and saying things she doesn't mean; older sister Jan keeps seeing and hearing things.

The end is a little messy, and there's an extended release version with an ending that is explained a bit more thoroughly and is thus a true HOT mess.  Like, alien crystals on a maybe-spaceship?  I literally have no idea.  The original ends great; watch that.

OR! You could watch the Lifetime Original Movie remake! With a girl who looks like Jennifer Lawrence and Amanda Bynes had a love child, who hooks up with a guy who appears to be made of plastic, so smooth and pale is he. And a Welsh village where no one has a Welsh accent.  And with ANGELICA HOUSTON in the Bette Davis role!

You read that right; Angelica Houston is chewing the scenery, tipping her hat to Morticia Addams, info-dumping with her hand literally pressed to her forehead for the drama of it all, and giving us the best Welsh accent in this movie.

The plot is similar; the explanation is completely unrelated, the story is both boring and nonsense, and I have come to think that someone (possibly my sister) should do a podcast reviewing Lifetime Original Movies.

That's what I did with my Sunday.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Something on Sunday, 10/15

Sunday again, huh?  Well, it's been a surprisingly good reading week, given that I worked two jobs, attended a committee meeting, a kid's birthday party, and a small, casual get together.  I took the weekend to just sit and read, and now I'm going to dig into another week with a HUGE to-do list in front of me.

Quick review of one awful book I read this week will be my Something on Sunday: The Cresswell Plot, by Eliza Wass. I picked it up because it's about a reclusive family that functions like a cult and the main character is a girl who doubts they are the Chosen Ones.  Castella Cresswell wears homemade clothes and has been promised in marriage to her brother (as  all her brothers and sisters have been paired up).  Everyone in town knows they're weird.  But maybe she wants things to be different.

I love a good wacky cult.  I love an escape from the cult story, and I love a good not-sure-I-want-to-escape-from-the-cult story.  This was neither, and both.  Every single character changed everything they thought and felt from scene to scene.  You can't grow as a character if you don't have a character to begin with. 

And it wasn't just that they were full of contradictions.  Like "I want to escape, but what if Father is right and the rest of the world is going to hell, and also I love my family and don't want to leave, but god the abuse sucks."  Yeah, that's all okay.  But she will literally run away one minute and then start screaming in the woods, and then tremble with fear, and then wish she had blue jeans to wear and a boy to kiss her, and then threaten to hit her sibling with a club, and then, I don't know, join drama club? 

It made no sense, is what I'm saying.  Hard pass.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Something on Sunday, 10/8

It's been so long since I posted ANYTHING, but I wanted to get in on Jenny's plan and take advantage while coming back.

Since last I posted, I started a new job, realized it was not the track I wanted to be on, and quit said new job. I will have worked there exactly four weeks on my last day (which is this Friday). 

I am applying for more jobs in the world of librarianing, which I am nervously dipping my toe in.  I'm looking forward to a little time off while I job hunt, though.  If it lasts long enough, I want to do NaNoWriMo.

So I've made a mess of trying to do the career thing, but that's not me. What is me, and what's great, is that everyone in the whole process has been SO KIND. Everyone at my old job (where I'm still part-timing) was so supportive, and the person who replaced me is the literal best, and we now have a TV night with old coworkers and her.  There were hugs and tears when I downscaled my hours.  And the new job was patient when I freaked out a little, and nice to me while I calmed down and worked there, and unendingly supportive when I gave my notice.  They have also found a fabulous person to replace me, so really, everyone in this story literally comes out on top. 

I'm still figuring myself out, but I really feel valued by everyone around me right now, and even while the wider world falls apart, I continue to be so grateful for my good fortune.

In other news, I've read 100 books exactly so far this year; 42 of them have been in the "short works" category that I count as graphic novels, novellas, and children's chapter books (not YA or longer kids books, but the short ones, often with lots of illustrations). The other 58 have been book-length works--novels or nonfiction.  A good shot at making my 120 (which I consider a solid showing) by the end of the year.

If I end up with a month off work, I promise to read for at least an hour every day.  Cross my heart!