Wednesday, November 16, 2011


1) Wow--an authentic Random Thoughts post.  Formerly one of my regular go-to pieces (along with clips of Lynda Carter singing) when I didn't feel like doing any actual writing and just started knocking out whatever crap popped into my head at the moment.

In the present case, however, there's slightly more thought put into this effort--mostly these are scattered premises, things I wanted to write about in a little more depth, but just never had the time.  Or energy.  Or will power...

2) I'm pretty sure I claimed somewhere along the line that I wasn't going to say anything more about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, and well, I tried, but our old friend Julie Taymor has been at it again, and I just can't resist.

Taymor has been exceptionally busy, what with filing a lawsuit against the show's producers and giving a monumentally self-pitying interview to Esquire in which she claimed to be shocked, shocked I tell you, at her dismissal from the show, which she thought was just swell.

Of course, the terrible reviews for Taymor's version of the show, and the fact that she refused to even consider dropping elements that clearly weren't working, and her increasingly incoherent public statements about the show, which suggested she considered the whole thing to be some sort of workshop for her private vision, even though the thing was bleeding investors dry to the tune of almost a million bucks a week--none of these things had any bearing on the decision of the producers to fire her.  They were just philistines who didn't care about Art.

As for the lawsuit, Taymor is demanding a share of profits (which, despite the fact that the show sells out nightly, it still hasn't earned a dime, mostly because Taymor burned through SIXTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS while in the process of finding her "vision") and, more amusingly, claiming copyright infringement for using elements she created in the show.

Obviously, I don't know the details of her contract, but that's pretty much how big Broadway musicals work--nobody is irreplaceable.  Creative personnel are constantly brought in and let go, but they're doing for-hire jobs--producers have every right to use elements of their work, because that's why they were hired in the first place.  More talented people than Taymor have been fired off shows, only to see work they did used on stage, often without credit.

In the case of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark--have I mentioned that's the worst title for anything in history?--Taymor is actually listed in the credits.  If anything, the producers indulged her for way too long.  Is she actually trying to get people to feel sorry for her?  Because I'm pretty sure it's not working.

3) Alexander Payne's new film The Descendants opens this week, a mere seven years since his last feature, Sideways, which opened two years after About Schmidt.  He's not terribly prolific, is what I'm saying.

I'm a big fan--Sideways hit me where I lived--but it's not like he's Stanley Kubrick.  He makes humanist comedies somewhat in the manner of Paul Mazursky, only Mazursky could really crank 'em out.  (Have I mentioned Harry And Tonto is one of my favorite movies ever?)  But Payne, like Paul Thomas Anderson and David O. Russell, is a major filmmaker with a disappointingly thin filmography.  All three cite the great directors of the seventies as inspiration, but they seem to not realize that those guys worked constantly.

Sure, studios aren't keen to produce odd personal efforts these days, but the financing is obviously out there--Joel and Ethan Coen are able to make whatever pops into their head, and they were managing the Woody Allen trick of knocking out a movie a year for awhile there.  Payne, Anderson and Russell seem to only want to work when the muse strikes, but even Robert Altman made Quintet.  It's okay to fail--just keep working.

What I'm basically saying is, I love these guys' stuff, and I selfishly want more than they've given me.

4) Hey, are there any long-time readers of this thing still around?  Remember when I used to go off on long-winded political screeds?  No, I don't miss those things either, but still...Occupy Wall Street, Rick Perry's memory lapse, the whole Penn State'd think I'd have something to say.  Sometimes this space seems a little hermetically sealed, cut off from the real world, like late period Woody Allen.  (Zing!)  I kind of regret that, and kind of not.  Maybe I'll reengage with the real world soon.

5) Ordinarily, I'd say something about all the critters here, about Cookie's continued reluctance to play nice with the beagle, or about Staley's odd habit of head-butting me in the middle of the night.  Certainly I don't need to say anything about Delmar, because I'm always going on about him here.

Except yesterday morning, Del was sitting in my lap as I read the funnies when he suddenly, for no reason, reached up and slashed my nose.  Blood poured everywhere, including into my eyes, leading me to temporarily think he'd blinded me.  And, needless to say, it hurt like hell.

And yet, he's back on my lap as I write this.  I'll never learn.