Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mentor of Attention: The Night Watcher, reviewed.


Charlayne Woodard is an actress and storyteller of no mean talent. I did not care for her show The Night Watcher. 

Reviewed in today’s Washington City Paper.

Photo: Igor Dmitry/Studio Theatre.

Rosebud the Sled: Spoilers, Considered

1968: Humanity learns the location of the "Planet of the Apes."

1968: Humanity learns the location of the “Planet of the Apes.”

Last year, a brilliant new play premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company called Mr. Burns, a Post-Apocalyptic Play. Everyone who reviewed it told their readers far too much about it. Everyone but me… he said modestly.

The cycle repeated itself when Mr. Burns opened last month at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. So I wrote this for the Village Voice.

Where Do I Start with Lou Reed?


Lou Reed was one the greatest American artists in any medium. Slate invited me to compile a playlist of 10 of his post-Velvet Underground songs as way for newcomers to sample his 40-year solo catalog. I was honored. You can read that here.

When Rolling Stone reported Lou’s death at the age of 71 yesterday morning — it’s not like I knew him personally, but something about his songwriting, especially on The Blue Mask album from 1982 and everything afterward, makes me feel first-name intimacy with him — I started tweeting my recollections as a longtime admirer. I was introduced to his work and his wry worldview by New York in 1989. I heard the single, “Dirty Blvd.,” on the radio, and I got the CD from the Columbia House mail-order club.

Years later, I took a beach trip to South Carolina for a week with a bunch of friends right after we all graduated from high school. It was my first overnight trip sans adult supervision. I didn’t do any drugs because I just wasn’t interested, but I did buy Reed’s Between Thought and Expression boxed set at a record shop in Charleston during that trip.

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Youth Aches: In the Forest, She Grew Fangs and Romeo & Juliet, reviewed.

Megan Graves and Jenny Donovan bare their "Fangs." Photo by Chris Maddaloni/The Washington Rogues.

Megan Graves and Jenny Donovan bare their “Fangs.” Photo by Chris Maddaloni/The Washington Rogues.

I review Stephen Spotswood‘s new play In the Forest, She Grew Fangs, along well as Aaron Posner‘s oddly inert new Romeo & Juliet for the Folger Theater, in this week’s Washington City Paper. Available wherever finer alt-weeklies are given away gratis. Continue reading

Pop Culture Happy Hour #161: Captain Phillips and What’s Making Us Cry

One of the posters Juan Ortiz has created for each episode of original-series "Star Trek."

One of the posters Juan Ortiz has created for each episode of original-series “Star Trek.”

Naturally I thought of a theory about why one of the songs I mentioned on episode #161 of Pop Culture Happy Hour — on which I was honored to be a guest — affects me so profoundly as soon as producer Nick Fountain turned off the mics in NPR’s Studio 46. I didn’t have time to dwell on it then; I had to hightail it back to the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, where I was on a semi-authorized extended lunch break from my jury service. Later that day I would recall I had attempted a Jay-Z impression on the show. Brief, aye, but not nearly brief enough. Fortunately for you, gentle listener, the three regulars — Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Trey Graham — were all on top of their games. My pal-for-life Glen Weldon, their usual fourth man,  was on top of a raft or something, vacationing in Grand Cayman.

You can hear the episode in a web browser here or download it from iTunes here.​

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Nostalgia Trip: G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO! #49

It's the Rosetta Stone of my wordview, really. 1986.

It’s the Rosetta Stone of my wordview, really. 1986.

This is the first comic book I ever bought, from one of those HEY KIDS! COMICS! spinner racks in a 7-Eleven somewhere on the south side of Chicago. I think I had stepped out from some kind of an event for a distant relative. I was very young.

Anyway, I found it again in a Midtown Manhattan comics shop this weekend. When I pointed it out to my girlfriend, she said she wanted to buy it for me. A sweet gesture, especially considering the price tag of $6 — 800 percent what I paid for my long-lost copy in what the indicia at the bottom of page one tells me was 1986. Some of the best comics ever published came out that year: Watchmen, MAUS, The Dark Knight Returns, Love & Rockets, etc., etc. I wouldn’t find out about those until later. They didn’t sell those comics in 7-Elevens. Continue reading

Captain Phillips and the Terrible Excitement of Real Action

black hawk down

Ridley Scott’s BLACK HAWK DOWN, from 2001.

Captain Phillips, the seemingly little-embellished new thriller based on a 2009 hijacking at sea, got me thinking about what sort of responsibilities filmmakers have — and we as audiences have — when approaching a dramatized account of things that actually occurred. You can read that piece over at Monkey See today.

What Gravity Should’ve Learned from ALIENS

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Admittedly, ALIENS is a film I’ve loved unconditionally since I was a kid. I need very little prompting to think about it, and only a little more prompting than that to write about it. But a deleted scene from that 27-year-old movie highlights what is, to me, the sole flaw in Alfonso Curaon’s still-fantastic new space movie Gravity, and how audience expectations have changed in the generation since ALIENS. This is the subject of my first piece for Slate, which you can read here.