Sunday, January 31, 2010

Janis Joplin WTF?

What IS it with Janis Joplin? She's been dead for almost 40 years, longer than she was alive - she died in 1970 at age 27. I posted a few things about Joplin on this blog and now I get SO many hits for her. According to my blog statistics, 3% of all visits to my blog come from the search words "janis joplin" and 2% for "janis joplin photo" - that's more than search on my name OR "heavens to mergatroyd". I might as well just devote my blog to Janis Joplin.

I AM tempted to write a play about her. Her sister has already collaborated on the well-received "Love, Janis" so the time probably isn't right, but when the time is right, and if it's written well, it would be very popular. Hmmmm....

The Mermaid & Tam Lin

Here's a performance of "The Mermaid" a folk song I used in the last installment of "The Darlington Curse." The song is #289 of the Child Ballads

I adapted Child Ballad #39 - "Tam Lin" into a play several years ago, and now wonder if it cursed me.

The lyrics in this video clip of "The Mermaid" are slightly different from the version I used in Darlington.

And speaking of Darlington, and yet again.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

second thoughts in the kinkiness of David Ives

I invited David Ives to sit in on a meeting of NYCPlaywrights a few years ago, and that was fun. Afterwards I gave him a ride home to his place on the upper west side of Manhattan. As we drove I explained that the reason I had a bunch of bullwhips in the back of my Prius was because I accidentally ordered a dozen through eBay when I thought I was only ordering one. I only wanted one, as a prop for the slave trader in my adaptation of Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (recently David Ives adapted Twain's play IS HE DEAD?) I offered one to each of the cast members of my HUCK FINN, but there were still a few left. I offered one to David Ives.

"No thanks" he said as he got out of the car "I already have one."

"Hah hah hah" I said to the others in the car after he left "isn't that David Ives droll?"

But after reading the review of his VENUS IN FURS I'm wondering for the first time if he was kidding...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

S&G - underway

Well the SODOM & GOMORRAH production's underway - got the cast and got a web site! Although why it's so hard to get actors to cough up bios promptly I'll never know... oy...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Well so far Astoria seems to lack a nearby place to buy the furry mousie toys that my cat Mr. Fuzz is addicted to, so I was forced to buy in bulk - a dozen bags of a dozen mousies each. Mr. Fuzz is ecstatic!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Sometimes the low-tech video techniques are best.

you can completely exploit actors - but SOMETIMES you have to pay writers

The Exploitation King on paying the talent:
Now remembering that I'm a producer and that my standard response to people wanting more money is that "You'll work for two dollars a day and a kick in the pants"
He's only talking about writers here - for him to discuss paying actors MORE money he'd have to be paying them any money in the first place.

And based on what I've seen of his movies, the awful irony is that the actors he's worked with are much better than the writers.

I found this extremely amusing as well:
I just spent the whole day making a 12-minute reel of nudity in Pandora Machine films. The Queen of Mars wanted it so she would have something to show to actors who are auditioning for roles which have nudity.

It's pretty tame stuff really. Contractually we're obligated to be able to get an R-rating or lower. But I'm happy with the love scenes in Angry Planet.

The funny thing I discovered is that because we tend to have creepy love scenes we tend to reach for the same piece of music I wrote for the love scene in the movie Pandora Machine. It's a tad comical when you string all the love scenes together and we're using the same lovecreepy music in them.
Why am I not surprised that their "love" scenes are uniformly creepy? But apparently they are "pretty tame." Well, I realize things have changed alot thanks to the Internet - but is it actually possible to get actors to do PORN for NO PAY now? If it wasn't for the damn R restriction my guess is he'd have already investigated that potential avenue of exploitation, very thoroughly.

I've already expressed my thoughts on love and "Angry Planet" (scroll to Feb 18)

When he isn't doing his best to alienate actors and writers, he likes to alienate people at Manhattan Theater Source. Now that's just silly.

Monday, January 25, 2010

pangs of love

Echo from mythology

It's time for the old pangs of despised love in Darlington

Darlington Literotica excerpt report:

Readers: 877
Votes: 8
Rating: 3.50

I should mention that my story "Victorian Boots" which has been online for almost two years now has had 4278 readers, 8 votes and a rating of 3.25 - so I guess I'm becoming a better prose writer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sodom & Gomorrah on stage

Once again Jonathan Wallace has asked me to contribute a play for the Where Eagles Dare Playlab that he is curating. This next one is scheduled for the end of February. These plays are all about life in the theater. That's what prompted me to write SODOM... I had actually been kicking around the story idea for a couple of years, but for a full-length play. Nothing says I can't expand on this short play into a full-length though.

I came up with this logo - I was inspired by the artwork for Monty Python's "Life of Brian." I'm working on a web site too. I really don't NEED to put so much graphic work into these Playlab shows - nobody else does - but I enjoy it and I want to keep in practice for when Mergatroyd Productions can afford to do another major production.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Well I had it out yesterday - and I do not even want to think about how many hours I spent on this - with a mob on the science blog Pharyngula. It was silly of me to think that the level of discourse would be superior on this blog, just because it's a science blog. Blog comment tribes are the same everywhere.

I stopped commenting on the blog "I Blame the Patriarchy" in spite of that blog owner's brilliance because there is an established group of insiders who enforce conformity. If you tried to argue something that you might believe was uncontroversial - say you suggested that not all men are violent jerks - you would kick up a shit-storm of abusive comments by the in-crowd.

Pharyngula has a well-established blog comment tribe and as I discovered, demonstrating you have any "accommodationist" sympathies - that is you believe that it is an acceptable fact of life that some scientists might also hold religious beliefs - you will be trashed as savagely as anybody with pro-male sympathies on "I Blame the Patriarchy."

It's truly fascinating and there is almost nothing online, at least, that addresses the nature of blog comment tribes groupthink. Somebody should do a study. It would certainly be cheaper and easier than most studies - simply review comment threads and analyze the behavior: who insults whom and why, who agrees with whom, what are the unspoken rules that guide the behavior of group insiders, that kind of thing.

There's a wiki on Groupthink but it's not extensive. It's worth considering though:
Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group.[1] During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.
One issue I would really like to see a study for: do the dynamics of Groupthink change based on whether the blog is dedicated to science, or politics, or art, etc. My hunch is there is no difference - the group dynamics displayed by commenters on Pharyngula will be shown to be exactly the same as the group dynamics of, for example, Free Republic, a right-wing political blog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Portrait of shamelessness

right here

All the details at Nudity Required, No Pay

Hot Man in Regency Period Clothing of the Week - January 22, 2010

Is it Friday already?

Here we see Colin Firth looking good as Mr. Darcy - with some handy call-outs explaining what the various parts of his costume are called. I just saw Colin Firth on the Daily Show the other night. As Jon Stewart said: "set your TV for 'handsome'"

Well still no feedback on my Darlington excerpt on Literotica, but the statistics have changed: now it's been viewed by 807 readers, been rated by 8 and its score has raised slightly to 3.50. I guess that last person quite liked it.

I just realized I've been writing this story for 5 months now. Here's the latest installment.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Krugman, Underpants Gnomes, and me

more more reason to love Paul Krugman:

The Underpants Gnomes Theory Of Reform

Watching some liberal members of the House explain why they won’t do what's necessary, and pass the Senate bill, I was wondering what they imagine will happen. Then the answer came to me: it's the Underpants Gnomes business plan. In its original form this was:

1. Collect underpants.
2. ?????
3. Profit!

The current version is:

1. Reject the only bill that can be enacted any time soon.
2. ?????
3. Universal coverage!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nudity required, no pay - the joys of actor exploitation

I guess people who come from families with money and/or have lucrative financial-services industry jobs just don't believe in nasty words like "exploitation" - I learned that first from Edward Einhorn. Although as far as I know he never expected actors to get naked for no pay.

Gabby at "Nudity Required, No Pay" shares this charming tidbit on her blog:

Feature Film

Producer: Laura XXXXX
Director: Andrew XXXXX
Casting Director:Laura XXXXX
Interview: late January
Shoot/Start Date: February 15
Location: New York



Lead - Female, 20s - plagued by voices in her head, one of very few survivors of the apocalypse. She is hunted by the giant robots and must find a way to stop the invasion. Nudity, one back-lit love scene.

Female, 40s-60s - Laura's psychiatrist, secretly trying to protect Laura from the robots.

[ NEIL ]
Male, 30s-40s - a crazy drunk, former Special Forces op. Knows way more about the invasion than he should.

Thanks to Anonymous for tipping us off to this masterpiece where our heroine, poor, haunted, schitzo Laura, will probably be forced to make back-lit naked "love" to Neil the crazy drunk. It is very fortunate, however, that her psychiatrist is one of the "very few survivors" of the apocalypse. I mean - what are the odds?

What Gabby DOESN'T know is that the director of this movie is so unashamed of exploiting actors that he brags about how many he can get to exploit on his web site:
We put a notice on Actor's Access for a couple roles in Day 2. We're starting to get the pile o' submissions one gets for that. Remember, we're non-SAG, no pay. Some nudity.

It's thanks to people like this that unions are so necessary. Too bad some of the suckers actors he's managed to get for his shitty Star Wars/Bladerunner/Transformers ripoff movies worked for him in defiance of their unions. Way to show solidarity, assholes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

S&G - one man show

Well, I still haven't gotten feedback on my Darlington excerpt, although it has been rated by 7 of its 676 readers so far - it got a 3.43 out of a possible 5. That's disappointing - all my sonnets have been rated 5 except for one which just got a 4. And I got another nice comment - this time for my "Emily Dickinson" sonnet ("Are you thinking of me on this spring morn,
In Emily's neck of the woods?") that said:
Different and quirky. I love it.
Either I'm a better poet than fiction writer, or the fiction readers are just more discerning.

Well back to plays - my latest 10-minute play SODOM AND GOMORRAH: THE ONE MAN SHOW

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sonnet feedback

Well so far I haven't gotten any feedback on my Darlington excerpt, but somebody did have something to say about my sonnets that is very nice:

"I read all of the sonnets you've posted on Literotica and wanted to let you know how much they touched me. I so envy someone like you who can artfully express the powerful emotions they are feeling. Each one made me feel something strong and new, which is the best compliment I can offer."

It makes it all worth it.

Sunshine Dores, everywhere

Sunshine Dore was the third of Harold's three dating-service dates arranged for him by his mother, in the movie "Harold and Maude". Sunshine, an actress in the Sunshine Playhouse, was much more unconventional than his other two dates, although her clothing was pure mod 1960s. At the time I first saw the movie, her ensemble was out of style - the big puffy visor-brimmed hat and the knee-high boots.

She's played, wonderfully, by Ellen Geer, the daughter of Will Geer (Granpa Walton.)*

But her look seems to have come back. Seems like I can't walk down the street in the city without seeing a woman who reminds me of Sunshine Dore because of the hat and the boots. Although the funky collar Sunshine wore hasn't come back. But no doubt someday it will - that's fashion for you. Well, women's fashion. Men's fashion is determined to make men look as drab and un-glamorous, un-sexy as possible. Otherwise we'd see lots more Regency-period ensembles around.

I will admit though, that I aspire, as a director for an actor to say about me what Sunshine says about Louis Sunshine: "(she) was such an influence on the development of my instrument."

Watch Sunshine in action - including the awesome "what's hari-kari" scene:

Harold and Maude - Sunshine Dore

Mystery Hole | MySpace Video

*wow - while googling around for Ellen Geer, I checked out her father's wiki - Granpa Walton was a very interesting guy! While he was being blacklisted for being a Communist - an actual card-carrying Communist - during the 1950s he built the Theatricum Botanicum - I'd never heard of it before, but boy, would I love to go there, it sounds absolutely awesome. Next time I'm anywhere near California, I'm gonna check it out.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

Via Feminist Law Professors

1. Don’t put drugs in people's drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON'T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone "on accident" you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On "constructive" feedback

There are some play reading groups that maintain that post-reading feedback must adhere to a strict "constructive" line.

The NYCPlaywrights philosophy is that verbal feedback is unnecessary for a reading - the purpose of a reading is for the playwright to hear their work. But more importantly: the best feedback is to be had by watching the audience respond during the reading. In this we agree with the playwright/teacher Jeff Sweet.

Sweet says, although not quite so bluntly, that the reason it's more important to watch than to listen to the audience is because people lie more with their mouths than with their bodies.

This is not usually out of malice: people tend to soften their criticisms in a public forum like a play reading. And the "constructive" stricture for feedback sessions only magnifies that tendency.

But the truth will out, sooner or later. I've seen promoters of "constructive" feedback in action: they avoid expressing negative feelings about the play, and spout a string of soft-sell euphemisms instead. Then, once the playwright has left the room, they say what they really think.

This is the behavior of politicians, not people who care about art.

Enforcing "constructive" feedback means that dissident voices are often squelched through the effort to reach some kind of consensus and achieve a teaching moment. Sometimes the squelching is done quite deliberately - I attended the reading of a founder of another playwrights group in New York, and in the notes of his reading's program, he very explicitly said, in effect "if you didn't like my play, STFU." He then went on to produce the play, and it was thoroughly trashed by critics.

NYCPlaywrights is not a course in playwriting (it would charge much more for membership if it was) but rather a service for playwrights, to hear their work spoken aloud, by skilled actors. Feedback is strictly optional: the playwright must request it. And when the playwright requests it they are warned: they might hear something they don't want to hear. In this, NYCPlaywrights feedback is no different from a critic's review. Anybody who is serious about writing plays needs to get toughened up - critics don't feel the need to coddle playwrights' egos, or reach a constructive teaching moment.

At NYCPlaywrights, audience members get to express their feelings, in any way that they wish (but only about the play, nothing personal) without any group-think restrictions. This means that sometimes arguments break out, and people disagree passionately about some aspect of a play, or even play theory in general. NYCPlaywrights prefers the expression of visceral honest feelings to namby-pamby carefully-articulated verbiage. The NYCPlaywrights philosophy is that honest emotional feedback is far more valuable to a serious playwright than all the "constructive" feedback in the world.

But some people are by nature conflict-adverse. They find the NYCPlaywrights type of no-holds-barred feedback upsetting. If these people are playwrights they should avoid having their work produced in a public, critic-reviewed forum, and stick to readings of their work for an audience of friends and family members.

And they can join a "constructive" playwrights group and never worry about anybody making strongly-worded, passionate commentary about their plays - at least, not to their face.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hot Man in Regency Period Clothing of the Week - January 15, 2010 edition

Ewan McGregor in Regency costume - yum!

Although he's one of the few men who isn't noticeably aesthetically improved by such attire - he's such a fine-looking man, he looks good in anything, including a kilt:

Alas, I couldn't find a more complete image of McGregor portraying "Frank Churchill" in the movie adaptation of "Emma", but my search did result in another Regency-oriented web site discovery: Risky Regencies

Completely illegal but somebody posted the entire Emma movie online, including this section with Ewan looking extremely fine in equestrian mode.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

practical magic


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kinky boot beasts

Kinky boot beasts from "Yellow Submarine"

I had almost completely forgotten I wrote a kinky boot story and posted it to Literotica - I hadn't been on the site in over a year - when out of the blue somebody emailed me to say he liked the story.

So I decided to post a section of the Darlington Curse to the site and see what kind of feedback I get - it might come in handy for when I start re-writing it.

I will report back here if I get any feedback.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ritual time in Darlington

You never know when you're going to have to call in a psychic exterminator.

Monday, January 11, 2010

an apology

I want to extend an apology to anybody about whom I've said negative things (indirectly, I haven't named names) on this blog in the past - this is only to private citizens, not George W. Bush, Christopher Hitchens or any other dastardly public figures. Or Edward Einhorn, because he sued me and he doesn't think he did anything wrong. See The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions for the details.

Since I'm still not a saint, I will say that I did not randomly write negative things about people - I had serious grievances against them, and none of them has to this day apologized to me for anything.

However, my blogging nasty things about them certainly did not provoke them into any kind of self-examination or feelings of remorse - it did no good, except a very temporary sense of release for me. I should have completely channeled everything into my art, which is a constructive way to deal with anguish, remorse, depression, etc. And the practice of working personal issues out in art has a long and illustrious history, used by everybody from Michelangelo to Charlotte Bronte to the Beatles, and even recommended by Mr. Rogers.

All this is easier for me to say now, since I'm 95% over all the anger and despair I've been working through for almost two years. Well, if not now then when? It's a kind of new year's resolution. I'm not a saint but I can try to do better. And as Mr. Rogers said: "the very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes. It's funny, but it's true." The video quality is bad, but you can watch him sing it here.

So it's all going into the art from now on. Speaking of which, very soon it will be time for Darlapalooza - I will attempt to complete the Darlington Curse saga all in one 48 hour period, with hourly installment updates. I don't know when exactly that's going to happen, and I'll keep posting random individual installments until then, but that's the goal. I'm trying to get this story done so the rewriting can begin - and then: submission time. Because getting paid for your art is the most constructive thing of all, in this material world.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

John Lennon - one of the coolest guys who ever lived

In this video excerpt from John and Yoko's appearance on the Dick Cavette Show, John explains the origins of the song he wrote with Yoko: "Woman is the Nigger of the World" and then they perform the song. During the explanation, John demonstrates just how articulate, sharp and compelling he was as a person and as a devotee of a cause. And how far ahead of his time he was.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

psychic connection to the NYTimes

Wow, I'm totally in synch with the NYTimes. Here I was getting a jones to see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in winter, and they do up an article about it.

Hopefully it won't increase the crowds. And the nice thing about the Brooklyn and the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is that they both have massive greenhouses, so if you get sick of winter, you can go and groove on a tropical microclimate.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Hot Man in Regency Period Clothing of the Week - January 8 edition

Wow it is hard to find a variety of images of Ben Whishaw as Keats in Bright Star. In most of the pix available online he's wearing the same old blue suit. Granted he's poor and no doubt doesn't have many suits, and he does look nice in the blue suit, but come on! It took me forever to find this one picture (above) in which he's wearing something else besides the blue suit. There was one scene in Bright Star in which Keats participates in chamber music singing with a large group of young men, every last one of them wearing Regency period clothing. I love that scene and can't find one single image of it online. I guess I'll have to wait until the film is available online and take screen shots.

At least there's now a different trailer online:

Speaking of the Regency period, it's the first Darlington installment of 2010.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Scamming the scammers

I recently learned of an organization devoted to payback against scammers, also known as "scambaiting." The site is called The 419 part of the name comes from a section of the Nigerian penal code:
"The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud (AFF), known internationally as "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes, are often very creative and innovative.

The people who run this site are devoted, mainly, to wasting the time of the scammers, to give them less time to scam the gullible. The web site is full of fascinating stuff, but one of the most INSANE things I found was this series of exchanges from a Nigerian scammer and a scambaiter posing as, and I kid you not, an insane lesbian dominatrix. Talk about a culture clash. The Nigerian scammer is apparently completely oblivious to the prankish nature of the "dominatrix"'s email, probably due to a combination of English language deficiencies on the part of the scammer, and cultural misunderstanding. The result is an acid trip through insane dominatrix scambaiter wonderland. A sample of the dominatix's correspondence:
From: Fanny Plunge
To: amina abid
Date: 31-Aug-2006
Subject: Re: Attached My Pictures reply here

How's it hangin'??,

You may call me Mistress Fanny my little diamond girl in a sess pool of slime. I fully comprehend all you've said and so excited after reading your mail and I am utterly thrilled to be apart of your soon to be over life, hopes and lofty dreams.

Rest assured of the secrecy of this farcical escapade being kept as such.

I am 30 years old and the Co-Founder of an anonymous group and charity for women with Excessive Vaginal Discharge. We receive hundreds of thousands of USD every year from all over the world. We run anonymous group support units all over the States and parts of Europe. You'd be surprised how many sufferers there are out there and how many wish to aid us in our plight and fight for Normal Vaginal Discharge.

The company has made me and my co founder very rich, which was our intent all along and of course to meet women because in my spare time I'm a Lesbian Dominatrix and proud of it. I only use my Dominatrix skills on women. I noticed you said, "we can go into life partnership, or to have me as one of your family", in your email and as I'm lonely at the moment and without a lover for so long I pray you hope to be my life partner. I will do everything in my power to get here to my Dungeon Of Pleasure and show you the way Lesbian Bondage Heaven. I'm attaching a pic of myself. Hope it turns you on.
Please reply with baited breath.

It only becomes more insane from there. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

If this was against anybody else I might feel qualms, but scammers are truly evil, a case made very well by the site's Ethics of Scambaiting essay.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

TV tropes: Jane Eyre

I recently discovered a very interesting web site, TV Tropes but in spite of its name, it also deals with tropes from movies, theatre and literature. It devotes an entire section to Jane Eyre.

Some Jane tropes identified (the original page has spoilers blanked out - just highlight them to see them):

  • Anguished Declaration Of Love: Jane has one of these moments when Rochester is supposedly about to ship her off to Ireland.

  • As The Good Book Says: The novel positively groans under the weight of its Biblical allusions.

  • Bertha In The Attic: the Trope Namer.

  • I Am What I Am: From Jane, after walking away from her best (and only) friend in the world : "I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself."

  • Kick The Dog: The Hon. Miss Blanche Ingram, in addition to all her snubs against Jane, truly puts herself on the despicable list by the spiteful and mocking way she treats Adèle, Mr. Rochester's ward. (And we're not going to mention Mr. Rochester here.)

  • Kissing Cousins: St. John: "Hi, Jane! I'm your long-lost cousin. We should get married and become missionaries and go off to India." Amazing, she objects on the grounds that she doesn't love him, not on the grounds that they're, y'know, cousins.
    • To be fair, cousin marriage—including first-cousin marriage—was not considered incestuous or otherwise shocking when Bronte was writing, although some Victorians frowned on it. The real Squick, from Jane's point-of-view, is that St. John will feel obliged to have sex with her ("all the forms of love") even though he has made it clear that he neither loves her nor finds her sexually desirable. In fact, he thinks that she's physically repulsive.
  • Lawful Good: St. John Rivers. And Helen Burns, in so many ways.
    • Rochester is probably Chaotic Neutral. Jane is probably Neutral Good - she's not a slave to convention, but she respects it, one obvious example of many being her reaction to the revelation that Mr. Rochester is married. Moreover, she's actually envious of others' capacity for devotion to the law; take for example Helen Burns, whose saintliness includes unwavering respect for the obviously abusive and unjust teachers at Lowood, and who is held in awe for this reason by Jane.
  • Love Redeems: Subverted. Rochester thinks that loving Jane will make up for the minor matter of the inconvenient wife in the attic. As he quickly finds out, it doesn't.
    • Played straight in that it is Rochester's love for Jane that turns him away from the dissipation of his Mysterious Past.
  • Luke I Am Your Father: Jane, We are your cousins! Who knew?
    • Inverted with Rochester and Adèle, since he's stuck with her but doesn't acknowledge paternity (and Jane can't see any resemblance).
  • Values Dissonance. Possibly the most blindingly obvious instance in 19th century English literature. Bertha Mason is shown as being evil beyond redemption because she is insane. Worse, the very first really humane asylums for the mentally ill were being opened at the time and place the book is set (Yorkshire in the 1810-1820 period). Rochester could have afforded to send Bertha to one out of his pocket change with nobody knowing who she was. Yet he instead kept her hidden in his decrepit attic in rags with only a drunken slattern as company - quite possibly a fate worse than death. Jane's acceptance of this explanation shows that she (and her author) were out of touch with the times - during the Enlightenment people started to reject the idea that people who were insane were morally degenerate and evil and that it was an illness that should be treated - however bizarre the treatments occasionally became.
    • It's actually Moral Dissonance, internal to the novel, if you read some of the Bronte sisters' social essays. You have to keep in mind that Rochester is explicitly pretty much evil for most of the novel.
    • Actually, Jane does call Rochester out on his behaviour: "Sir," I interrupted him, "you are inexorable for that unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate—with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel—she cannot help being mad."
    • Rochester insists that he doesn't hate Bertha because she's mad, she was just (apparently, if you believe him) that wicked.
    • Some of that was Bronte trying to make it clear that Bertha wasn't to be reviled because she was crazy. In later years Bronte spoke in several letters about wanting readers to feel pity, not revulsion, but never quite being able to create that in the writing.
    • It is suggested by the description of Bertha in the book, that as a Creole she may not be completely white. This is seen as a valid reason why she might be insane. Look at the words used to describe her — savage, common, vulgar, vampiric — these and the description of her biting Rochester all play into the savage cannibalistic stereotypes of the period.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: When Rochester proposes to Jane, a storm hits. Then lightning blows up one of the trees in the garden, cracking it in two. Huh. Is somebody up there expressing an opinion?

    Lots of other literature chapters including Wuthering Heights, A Christmas Carol, Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn.

  • AND my favorite cartoon - The Powerpuff Girls!

    Tuesday, January 05, 2010

    Monday, January 04, 2010

    Aspirational lindy hop videos

    As I blogged earlier, the Swedes are nuts for swing dancing - boogie woogie, lindy hop etc. There's a whole series of Swedish dance performances on Youtube like the one above.

    I considered learning a bunch of different dance styles before settling on the lindy. I really like Spanish dance music and considered Latin forms like the tango - but the women always seem to wear high heels in those styles, which not only is uncomfortable for dancing, but not fair - the men don't have to wear uncomfortable shoes.

    That's why I settled on swing - the women tend to wear comfy shoes, even sneakers. And I decided to go for the lindy hop because it looks like a great work out, and lots of fun, with tricks and all - but not too dangerous. And it seems very egalitarian - both women and men do tricks - flips and lifts and jumps. Just watch those Swedes go!

    But as always with a classic American art form, you haven't seen it done right until you've seen Black Americans do it.

    The lindy hop, according to Wikipedia:
    ...was born in black communities in Harlem, New York in the United States from about 1927 into the early 1930s from four possible sources: the breakaway, the Charleston, the Texas Tommy, and the hop.[1]

    According to Ethel Williams, who helped popularize the Texas Tommy in New York in 1913, the Texas Tommy "was like the Lindy", and the basic steps were followed by a breakaway identical to that found in the Lindy. Savoy dancer "Shorty" George Snowden stated that, "We used to call the basic step the Hop long before Lindbergh did his hop across the Atlantic. It had been around a long time and some people began to call it the Lindbergh Hop after 1927, although it didn't last. Then, during the marathon at Manhattan Casino, I got tired of the same old steps and cut loose with a breakaway..." [1] Fox Movietone News covered the marathon and took a close-up of Shorty's feet. When asked "What are you doing with your feet," Shorty replied, "The Lindy". The date was June 17, 1928.

    Sunday, January 03, 2010

    the I-man cometh

    Blogging will be light until the hook-up.

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    2010 @Victoria Hall

    What I plan to do this year:

    ~ A web series set in Astoria - now that I live there
    ~ Celebrity interview videos for the NYCPlaywrights web site
    ~ Finish the three full-length plays I have kicking around and resist the temptation to start any more until they are complete
    ~ Finish "The Darlington Curse," rework it somewhat and submit it to a romance novel publisher
    ~ Compose more music
    ~ Learn to do the lindy hop - I am completely serious - I need something to liven up my workout routine
    ~ And as they say at Actors' Equity: more remunerative opportunities!

    And of course I can't forget Hot Man in Regency Period Clothing of the Week - January 1 2010 edition

    Although this one is more of a Hot Man out of Regency Period Clothing, but that of course is very nice too. This image is from the second part of the Happily Ever After blog's estimable series "Gorgeous Men in Tight Breeches and Ruffled Shirts."