Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Miami My Venice, lovely photo essay is a journey to a timeless city of canals and waterways

MIAMI MY VENICE, a Photo Essay by Rafael Manresa

Manresa's lovely photo essay is a journey to a timeless city of canals and waterways, evocative of and yet contradictory to Venice. In MIAMI, which is accompanied by a wise and sensitive text, Manresa says that if Venice is the serenity, Miami is the agitation. Yet his images of Miami have much of the same ageless, meditative quality as Venice. His distressed images of Miami in feeling resemble the palazzos of Venice. The titles, in Italian further the link. Below are some images from the ebook, which can be purchased and the images viewed at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/miami-my-venice/id624066113?mt=11.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Orphanmaster's Son just won the Pulitzer for fiction, a book I wanted to like... here's my original review

The Orphanmaster's Son by Adam Johnson is a book I wanted to like, lots of people I respect do, and I am always willing to champion a book that's against totalitarian repression and meglomaniacal dictators. So what's the problem? It's unrelenting in its narrative of atrocities so viscerally frightening in this "no exit" world that they would have been the envy of Kafka's Castle or Dostoyevsky's The Lower Depths or Solzenetsyn's Gulag or any concentration camp history....and that's my problem. I don't know if Mr.Johnson's N.Korea is meant to be mythic or real or a combination of both.

Why does this matter? If it's historical truth or fiction based on it, then I accept the necessity to shock so we can be outraged and perhaps contribute to some change or resolve it won't happen again. If he's created this world in order to indict N.Korea, that would be an endeavor made more believable by a novel with more than one note--despair/hopelessness--only relieved at the end by the possibility of escape but not for the hero. I found myself almost feeling sorry for a country I know little about, so wholly condemned as vicious, tyrannical, and completely soul destroying for all its citizens high or low.

A pity because it is so well written and yet you find yourself almost afraid to care for the protagonists, because people are so casually tortured and killed--completely eviscerated as individuals with identity in The Orphanmaster's Son. The book tells two stories that overlap. one of General Ga, who is not really the General, and his biographer, who actually is a police torturer. It begins with an orphan, who's not really an orphan since his father is the orphanmaster, the man who captures them from the streets and has them sent to various work farms, uranium mines, toil that leads to no life expectancy for these ill fed, ill treated, flotsam of the bottom rung of N.Korean society. They are exploited even for their blood if they sicken, far worse than Dickens' England. Yet the Orphan master's son manages to survive and keep some identity since he had had a father and a mother who was a "singer."

One day he is attacked by the strongest most evil man in N.Korea, General Ga, and lives to not just escape the uranium mines but to become the man he killed, assuming his high place in society and his wife, the beautiful actress Sun Moon, who is the soul of the "Dear Leader's" Korea. His learning about love with Sun Moon and her two children, inspires a denouement worthy of Casablanca--the movie that inspires the Imposter Ga to a great act of liberation. The police interrogator cannot bear the one noble man he's encountered, who experienced love, to be destroyed and so he tells his story so that his identity will be preserved and, at the end, you protest his stultifying solution, though it was inevitable. In this N.Korea, the "Dear Leader" is a combination of Hitler and Big Brother. In this unimaginable world everyone and everything is part of him and owes whatever existence they have to complete subjugation. It is a nightmare there is no waking from, until the Americans land to rescue their female rower. A path is briefly open. I don't know I would recommend this novel, which I think is a poetic allegory to the reality that is North Korea. I would rather read something by a North Korean? I may be having an authenticity problem.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Wapshot Whatever: The Secret Lives of Computer Programs.

From Dixon Place Production May 1st.


The Wapshot Whatever

Tonight is dress rehearsal of The Wapshot Whatever, small but decent stage. Fri. & Sat (15 & 16) Thanks to all coming to show. And to the terrific Director, Vincent Santvoord and Cast, Sara MinisqueroChelsea RodriguezNathaniel Taylor-Leach, D.Anisfield Tay.
The secret lives of computer programs @manhattanrep, http://manhattanrep.com/playwrights-showcase-series-12/

This is how the Showcase works. You get reservations for Dec 15th or 16th at 6:30. There are 3 shows that night. Then when you go with your confirm, you pay the 20.00 for the evening.
www.manhattanrep.com. Here's my program. Its Series 12. Direct link here:

It's going well with gifted cast and director. Director is Vincent Santvoord, Sara Minisquero, Nathaniel Taylor-Leach, D. Anisfeld Tay, Chelsea Rodriguez. 1/2 hour, but perhaps an opportunity, to do full script. New interesting work, 

 Manhattan Rep Theare presents The Wapshot Whatever by Susan I. Weinstein Dec. 15th and 16th, part of Playwrights' Showcase, 1/2 hour excerpt.
Random Dialler Worm, circuit boards, the inhuman souls of an Off-shore Server & a Rogue Program bundled together. The secret life of your devices? Ever wonder what happens, after you have shut down? 

Sparks fly, when a Rogue meets an Off-Shore Server. Then there's a Dialing worm, App book, Data miner and more in this unnatural play. 2 performances only. Below is excerpt.
The Wapshot Whatever

Setting:  Stage lit with white light.  A vaguely human appearing form in black coat, covered in computer wires. As it walks and rants, small lights go on amid electronic pops.
Time:  Infinite now

                                                                ROGUE PROGRAM
      The wapshot legend has broken down.  For whatever am I going to the office, barely paid so swolf's at the door blowing me down--chomping mouth saying you can't make it. Try as you might little piglet, you're another sausage for the gin mill, the spirit mill.

ROGUE  daintily sits crosses legs, sits on floor.

       We want authenticity in pre-packaged tinsley lives that have no real people in them. We want escape. Celeb glamour, see pretty people have flaws unlike you whose whole life is a flaw. So says….

ROGUE wonders answer to this and stands to ponder.

       Have not, whap nut. Am I a homeless geek, a sexy disadvantaged youth, a sad-eyed girl from the homelands?  I am also no corporate executive or a hybrid working girl, middle-aged woman, muse. Whatever!  Provocateur. Dark panicky incoherence of a rogue program in the universal computer.  A home in every port.  My sweethearts upload me and never know I look into the hearts of their on-line anxieties, searches, and blogs pursuing content. I'm the nebulous nothing of information technology when everything is present.

ROGUE sighs sadly

       I love a little fool server off the Aussie coast. She serves island hoppers, giving weather warnings, hurr and him-a-caines coming to a shore near them. She's a dear one…
Rogue pushes switches on himself. Out comes a  petite server program, wearing a white suit with black blinking wires.  She talks in proud bursts.

                                                                    SERVER PROGRAM

      Aruba, the Canaries, Singapore, Florida Keys, Sardinia, Manhattan Island.  Day or night I'm the bellweather, the urgent voice with updates on Calvin or Marie, Andrew and Elizabeth. I see the Eye approaching, gangway, flee cars, houses. Find cellars!  Shivery, underground they heed me or, or too late clinging to palms, losing grip, are blown out to sea. .

Copyright C 2009/2016 Susan Weinstein, all rights reserved

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mythic duality of women explored in THE CHAPERONE, THE TESTAMENT OF MARY, FORGED BY FATE

THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarity, THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin, FORGED BY FATE by Amalia Dillon explore mythic duality in women’s lives.

 At first glance, these three novels would seem to have little in common. THE CHAPERONE tells the story of a fictional Wichita matron, who in 1922 chaperones fifteen year old Louise Brooks in New York City. The Testament of Mary tells the story of Christ from the viewpoint of his mother. Forged by Fate combines Norse, Greek, Hindu and Buddhist mythology in a world, where an estranged Adam and Eve must forever be apart.  Yet in each of these novels the heroines struggle to reconcile their internal understanding with the role in which they find themselves. Yet they are aware of being participants in multi-layered dramas, as the fate of the world,and personal happiness, hinges on their strength to fulfill a unique destiny.

 In THE CHAPERONE, modest pleasant-looking Cora has had the luck of marrying Alan, an uncommonly handsome lawyer. They have grown twin sons and live in a perfect house in the best part of town. Cora cherishes her pleasant respectable life, so it’s a surprise that she jumps at the chance of June in New York, chaperoning Louise Brooks, who's been accepted by a prestigious dance school. When Cora meets Louise, she is put off less by the moody teenager than her mother’s lack of maternal feeling and proprietary sense of her daughter as her creation—and precocious monster. Louise is talented, beautiful and wild. She’s also incredibly astute. Cora has never known a girl so free. She chides her about talking to strange men, washes off make-up, and is relieved to have days to pursue her own quest.

From age three, until she was sent out on the orphan train, Cora lived at a poor orphanage in New York. She finds the place and requests her records. But Cora’s quest for identity is not just about the homelessness of her childhood but that of her thirty-six year old self.  Despite having her own family, there’s hunger under the surface. Allan, dutiful husband and father, has his own secrets. And though Cora plays her expected role in the marriage, she mourns a love she’s never known. When the nuns refuse her the file, she conspires with the German handyman, and uncovers more than she expected. Then she makes a radical decision.The staid matron is revealed a free thinker. 

Cora fundamentally changes her household, yet keeps the refuge of her respectable marriage. Somehow Louise’s rash enthusiasm for experience unleashes Cora. And through Cora, Louise learns what it means to respect herself as a woman. This story is a  complete surprise. You think you know Cora. But you discover you knew her as little as she knows herself. Self-discovery turns convention upside down. Louise Brooks, the famous flapper, is the twin of the hidden feminist in her bustle.  

The Testament of Mary reminded me of Barrabas by the Swedish master & Noble Prize winner, Par Lagerkivst, who takes the view of the thief freed instead of Christ. Colm Toibin uses a similar device to tell the Christ story through the eyes of Mary. But Toibin’s Mary reaches a frenzied intensity, a climactic pitch of emotion, almost at odds with her phlegmatic character. I found her less individual than a kind of generic mother. 

Mary's not a follower and is uncomfortable with her son’s friends, who she considers misfits, and the idea of his divinity. She thinks turning water to wine may be a parlor trick.. But he did somehow bring Lazarus from the grave, though she asks to what end?  Mary, like many mothers, doesn’t understand her son, knows he’s grown beyond her, but wants to protect him. That’s the main thrust of this book. It begins as it ends with Mary recounting her story, under a kind of house arrest with the men writing Christ’s legacy. They want her testament but are writing their own version. At the end of her life, she won’t compromise her experience, though she wishes her version was more pleasing to them. 

How much Mary tells them of her truth isn’t exactly clear. You do get that she will let history make of his story what the men want. Alone with her thoughts, she takes solace with Artemis, since her regular faith, the Hebrew Temple, is now denied her, a mother of an outlaw. Christ's capture and crucifixion is very moving, artfully packed into 81 pages. And Mary is honest, she even admits wanting to save herself., though she's ashamed at not embracing her son’s martyrdom. Broken by this decision, in the end she’s somehow reconciled by nature. This is a story well-told. Doesn’t matter you’ve heard it before. I just wish she was less an archtype and more a specific woman.
Forged by Fate, not unlike Percy and The Lightning Thief, has Gods that exist simultaneously with Earth. But Eve’s quest is less adventure than romance. In multiple story lines: she’s the newly made Eve in Eden pursued by a brutal dictatorial Adam; the reincarnated Eve in modern France before her wedding, when Adam insinuates himself into her protected circle; and stone age Eve, living with the disguised god Thor in a fishing village. There are intriguing flashes of her lives as Helen to Adam’s Paris, and a painful time in a modern mental ward.  

But Eve's past is present in the fact that if Adam beds her, it means the end of the world. Fortunately, Eve's fiancee is a reincarnation of previous protectors. She relies on him, though she's attracted to Adam's "heat" and must, ultimately, save herself.. All of this cosmic activity is a tad overly complicated but great fun. You want to find out what happens in the second volume. Will she be able to utilize her full power in this current incarnation or give into the insanity she fears?  Will Eve resist Adam one more lifetime?  And while noble Thor guards her, can he remain anonymous?  This is high genre.