We Get Our First Bad Review

It’s probably bad form to read and mock your reviews in public, but since I’m not an official theater person, I don’t think I’m bound by convention.  Therefore, I must take issue with our terrible review today in the Scene.

(Though, just as a side note, I must say that I am shaking with delight that something I helped with has been reviewed in the Scene.  How cool is that?!  I mean, really, what the fuck?  I write here every day and the only person from the Scene who ever says anything good or bad about it is Gandalph Mantooth, and never in the pages of the Scene.)

I have two big criticisms of the piece.  The first is that Martin Brady’s whole critique rests on the notion that he’s just a little too jaded and worldly, too tuned into what "art" should be to sink to the level of actually enjoying the piece.

The second seems to be that Brady articulates the point of the piece, but doesn’t seem to understand what that actually means.

Let’s start with the second.  Brady says, "Actual recorded faith testimonials serve as a springboard for the 14 scenes and four songs that make up this dramatic review."  But then he complains about "strangely bloodless writing" and that "When it’s not naive, faith/doubt comes across as preachy, an odd outcome for a show that purports to show the blessedness of all faiths and creeds.  Neither its obvious sincerity nor its focus on our most dearly held beliefs guarantees success.  The show is long on uninspired storytelling and short on universal meaning."

Well, dear Brady, it seems to me that you didn’t really get what we were up to, then.  The faith testimonials were not a "springboard."  They were the whole piece.  We took what people actually said and used their actual words.  We didn’t rewrite anyone’s stories in order to come up with something "better" or more properly theater.  We took those words that came out of y’all’s mouths and said them back to you.

A different kind of piece would have sorted through all the words folks in Nashville said and soaked them in and then come up with something different from but inspired by what we heard.  That was not our mandate.  Our mandate was to take this material and make people’s everyday faith stories new to them.

If you think the goal of the piece sucked, then say that the goal of the piece sucked.  But don’t deliberately misunderstand the piece in order to criticize it for not being something it never set out to be.

If it’s sincere or naive or "bloodless," well, those are the stories people told us.

If Brady thinks that it fails because it "never really probes what it means to live in a frightening modern world or how faith sustains hope or fortitude to a person at a spiritual crossroads," I almost don’t know what to do for him but laugh.  Most of the folks we talked to don’t think we live in a frightening modern world.  Most folks either didn’t have those spiritual crossroads moments or, I would posit, didn’t find those moments to be the most meaningful moments of their spiritual lives to talk about.

Which brings us nicely to my first critique, that Brady thinks the piece isn’t sophisticated enough, that it doesn’t deal with big enough themes, like fear or doubt or ambiguity.  But, when faced with the set, he complains "the actors settle into what presumably are church pews, but look suspiciously like jury boxes, leaving viewers to wonder whether what they’re about to witness concerns celebration or judgment."  I mean, my god, yes, exactly.

That’s exactly what you’re supposed to wonder when you look at the set.  Why is that a problem?  If the play is too sincere and unambiguous for his tastes, why does he turn around and bitch about the things that don’t quickly reveal their meaning to him?

Anyway, I could go on.  I won’t.  I’ll just mention that it’s interesting to me that the same man who a week ago recommend it as a critic’s pick, this week hates it.

Should We Count the Funny Or Not?

Kleinheider links to the story of Ann Coulter’s pronouncement of Bill Clinton’s supposed latent homosexuality.

Yes, in an unfortunate turn of events for the Straight American Male, it turns out that fucking women is an indication that you are gay.

Poor Kleinheider.  It’s bad enough that “a man cannot appreciate ballet or express anything approaching true respect or tenderness for a fellow male without being seen as ‘a bit sweet’ or a closet case.” According to Coulter wanting to put your penis in a vagina nestled in between the legs of a human with soft round curves and beautiful boobs also makes you gay.

It’s pretty funny.  And, it’s probably wrong to admit this, but I think I’d pay good money to watch Kleinheider and Clinton make out.  Considering that both of them are self-admitted pussy lovers, which, thanks to Coulter, we now know is code for “Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay,” I think my chances are pretty good.




Gay folks, as always, I am in awe of your nefariousness.  First, you take over Hollywood.  Then you ruin marriage by linking it with love, and now, now you hold before America the prospect of some Bill on Adam loving.  I bow at your genius.  But whisper what you want from me and I will march across state lines to provide it for you.  My only criticism is that you’re not aiming high enough.  If you have the power to turn straight men gay merely by exposing them to a number of cooters, why aren’t you holding all of the homophobes in this country hostage?

Get on Fox News and tell Bill O’Reilly that, if he doesn’t support gay marriage, you’ll turn him gay.  Demand George Bush come up with a peace plan for the Middle East, pronto, or you’ll turn him and Cheney gay.

Think big, people!

How Do You Even Know to Do These Things?

I think about class a lot.  More so now than I did before I moved to Nashville.  Even when I first moved to Nashville, I thought about class but only in terms of how normal I was compared to the Vandy kids who had so much.

Later, I learned that it wasn’t that other folks had so much, it was that I had so little.  But fine.  We don’t want for much, I don’t think.  My own house with a fenced in yard so the dog and I can play without the leash in the way.  A car for the Butcher.  To be out of debt.  I can’t get the Butcher’s shit together, but I’m slowly getting my own.

But I have an acquaintance who’s just gotten a new job.  And I’ve been thinking about how he got that job.  I don’t know the details, but at some level, it comes down to him realizing that they would need someone to fill that position.

I had access to all the same information he did.  I saw all the same people talking about the same things.  And I said, “Oh, great, look.  Folks are talking and having a good time.  Okay, let’s see who else needs a good talking to.”  I didn’t say, “Hey, wait a minute!  How can I use all this information to my advantage?”

It never occurred to me to say that.  I go around being open to possibilities.  I do. Even when something scares the shit out of me, if I’m asked to do it, I do it.

But I’m no good at creating my own possibilities.  I know how to meet large numbers of people and talk to them and be delighted with them.  I don’t know how to turn that into some kind of opportunity for me.

I don’t know if that’s a class thing or just a me thing.  But here I am feeling like I desperately need to bring more cool stuff into my life and I don’t think I know how to do that.  I want to just be open and have you recognize my worth and bring me in.  Because I just don’t know how to do this other thing.

In fact, until very recently, I had no idea other people were working it any other way.

I’m kind of a naive idiot.  I think that contributes a great deal to my frustration with myself.  I sense the world works differently than I think it does, but I’m not quite smart enough to figure out where my assumptions are wrong.

Thanks, Mrs. Wigglebottom

It’s nearly impossible to have a bad day with a dog like Mrs. Wigglebottom.  You come home and there she is waiting in the doorway with her head cocked to the side like she’s wondering if it’s really you.  And when she sees that it is, she turns and runs into the house, leaving  big open, welcome space for you.  Her little bottom is just wiggling away while she searches for her bone.

I was thinking of my uncle B.’s dog, Freckles, who, bless her heart, was just as dumb as a post.  Bassetts are notoriously dim as it is, but Freckles took it to a whole new level.  I swear, every time my uncle would come in the house, she would bark at him for a good ten minutes because she didn’t know who he was. 

She’d just stare at him like she was seeing him for the first time in her life and bark and slowly back away from him.

My Uncle B. has two “bassetts” now.  I use the term loosely because I don’t believe that they’re purebred.  Supposedly they’re from the same litter, but the male looks like a full blooded basset and the female looks like a cross between a bassett and a beagle.

They are smarter than Freckles, though I’m pretty sure my shoe is smarter than Freckles, so that’s not saying much.

My Uncle B. and my dad had a dachshund growing up–FiFi, who would pee on the other Reverend whenever he came over.  My dad has long contended that there is some mystery patch of old fashioned large dachshunds that are roughly the size of bassetts but shaped more like dachshunds.

I’ve checked Wikipedia and that confirms that there was indeed an ancestor to our breed that looks bigger.  But this one has long legs, so I’m not sure that’s what he was talking about.

Anyway, obviously, in a perfect world, I would talk more about what’s got me bummed and stressed, but in this one, discretion is the better part of valour and so we’ll talk about dogs or pick fights with whoever we can or whatever distracts me.

Aw, don’t mind me.  I’m just in a mood.