Criticism imitating art imitating life: My Washington City Paper review of Annie Baker’s John at Signature Theatre is three times as long as my review of the touring Underground Railroad Game at Woolly Mammoth, just as John is three times as long as Underground Railroad Game. And roughly a third as rewarding.
Your mileage, as ever, may vary.
Nearly four interminable months after Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a movie based on a movie based on a children’s book and appended with a 30-year-old Guns N’ Roses jam, Dwayne Johnson—the once and future Rock and 2032 Instagram Party presidential candidate—is back. In a movie, in the legal sense, based on a video game.
My NPR review of Rampage (from the director of San Andreas!) is here. I’m not sure who it was at Warner Bros. and or New Line who forgot to put the exclamation point in the title, but I trust that heads shall (the) roll.
You may have read in the New York Times that Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon and I gave a “sparsely attended” talk about the origins and legacy of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the National Air and Space Museum on Saturday night. An official talk. Inside the museum. We weren’t just accosting passersby on Independence Ave. and bloviating at them or anything like that. Heaven forfend!
The event was a Yuri’s Night party hosted by the website/nightlife concern Brightest Young Things. There were bars, DJs, silent discos, and lots of people in costume.
Ready Player One was showing in the Lockheed-Martin IMAX theater right after Glen and I finished, so I thought it would be thematically sympatico with that film for me to challenge our audience, sparse or otherwise, with some low-stakes nerd trivia pertinent to 2001. Those who answered one of these questions correctly after raising their hands and being called upon—this is not ‘Nam, there are rules—won a free copy of the September 2016 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian (where I was then and still remain employed as an editor) featuring my cover story on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. The cover should have said Warp Corps, and I apologize again for the fact that it does not. I lost that fight. It’s been two goddamn years and I’m still not over it.
Anyway, here are my trivia questions.
Over at my day job yesterday I got a sneak peak of a unique exhibit opening at the National Air and Space Museum on Sunday: an installation by artist Simon Birch that reconstructs the mysterious Louis XVI-era bedroom from the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey at 1:1 scale. Because yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the film’s release, I wrote a piece about it. I drew heavily from Michael Benson’s new making-of book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, which I’ve already plugged on Pop Culture Happy Hour but which I’m glad to plug again here.
I’ve got a piece on Slate today arguing that the element that makes Springsteen on Broadway—which I saw on February 28, the night after I saw Hello, Dolly!—worth the difficulty and expense of getting tickets is quiet. You can read that here, and it is my fond hope that you shall.
And in the spirit of Bruce Springsteen having written more worthy songs for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River and Born in the U.S.A. than he could possibly use at the time, but contrary to the spirit of him waiting 15-30 years before releasing all those unused songs, which I as a diehard am legally required to claim were better than the ones he put on the albums which by the way is true in many cases… here’s a deleted scene from that piece, wherein I expand upon my 20-show record as a Bruce Springsteen fan:
As someone whose Bruce fandom had bloomed improbably in the mid-90s, when—an Academy Award for Best Original Song notwithstanding—his stock was as low as it’s been in my lifetime, I’d never imagined I would have so many chances to see him. But he called the E Street Band back together in 1999 and kept them together, even once its founding members started dying. (Organist Danny Federici succumbed to cancer in 2008; saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons died from complications following a stroke in 2011. Both men had been in Springsteen’s band since 1972. )