Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations: On “Go ahead, make my day.”

Too much sugar in his coffee. From 1983’s “Sudden Impact.”

Clint Eastwood‘s dotty speech at the Republican National Convention was depressing on a number of levels. The least of them being that he croaked out the wrong Dirty Harry catchphrase. I plead my case in the City Paper.

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Faux REALS: On the Longevity of the Longjohn-Wearing Hero

“…but brother, there are days when I wish I was Plastic Man or the Flash or one of those happy-go-lucky bozos.”

I wrote about Gwydion Suilebhan‘s new superhero play REALS this week, taking his provocation that “Superhero films are bad for you” as a jumping off point for talking about, well, superhero films.

Not quite 10 years ago, I spent the better part of a year trying to write one. It was called Hero Complex, and it was about a guy who becomes convinced he’s the illegitimate son of The Gryphon, the mightiest hero around. I was aiming for a bittersweet comedy with touches of doomed romance and magical realism. I pitched it to my professor and fellow students in my screenwriting program as “a Wes Anderson superhero movie.”

I wrote two full drafts and many more first acts. I had a version where my hero was in his early 20s and unattached, and a version where he was 40 and married with kids. Neither was very good, but there was a scene here, a line there, that I thought might be worth saving.

Then The Incredibles came out. That’s not a film that bears much resemblance to my description of the one I was trying to sweat into existence, but at the time it felt close enough to make me throw up my hands. I loved The Incredibles. I felt certain my screenplay would never get to be that good, no matter how many night and weekends I sacrificed to it on the altar of my crumb-covered, coffee-stained keyboard. Continue reading

Looted

It’s nice to be liked, but it’s better by far to get paid.

— Liz Phair, “Shitloads of Money”

‘Tis better to give than to receive, goes the bromide. But gift-giving occasions are often stressful for me because I really, really want to pick something good; something that shows the recipient of the gift how much I understand them and respect their taste (secondary objective) and also, if I’m being honest, that they will forevermore remember came from me (PRIMARY objective).

I never give someone a book to keep without inscribing it, for example. I take something the author of the book spent months or years on, then spend maybe 10 minutes thinking of something to write in the flyleaf and sign my name to it. Admittedly, this sounds kind of obnoxious. I used to find the notion of wedding registries and requested gifts kind of gross, but maybe they take that narcissistic element out of gift-giving. Then again, if I really want to to give someone a present, as opposed to feeling obligated to, is it really so terrible if I want that gift to serve as a symbol for our relationship?

Anyway. I had a birthday earlier this month. While I’m way past the point of feeling delighted about packing on another treetrunk-ring, I was moved by the gifts I received, particularly from people I’ve only met in the last few years. They seem to understand me! And respect my taste!

These presents shall forevermore remind me of them. Continue reading

What the Facts Are

Emmylou Harris and John Prine at Wolf Trap, reviewed

Wow. It appears that the last time Emmylou Harris played at Wolf Trap, in 2008, I tried to corner the market, penning a a review of her then-most-recent album for the Washington Post as well as a Post review of the concert and a profile for The Examiner that I can’t find a link to now. I used to have it on this site as a PDF, but then Apple discontinued its .Mac service. It’s the circle of life, I suppose. Continue reading

I Haven’t Been on Vacation

With two of my trusted Fringe & Purge Action News and Commentary Squad colleagues, Rachel Manteuffel and Derek Hills. I’m on the right.

A laughable suggestion, HA HA HA! I wouldn’t know a vacation if one punched me in the face and then told me my flight was cancelled!

I spent most of July running the City Paper’s coverage of the seventh Capital Fringe Festival, archived here if you’re curious. I started a Fringe podcast this year, which took more time to produce at an acceptable level of quality than I wanted it to, but that’s how it goes. The episodes I think came out the best are here and here and here and here. Continue reading