A fortnight in several paragraphs
1. Apologies to anyone who reads this with any kind of regularity because I haven't been writing it that way. I just get gloomy about my failure to get anything much done and then that becomes a reason not to do anything. In fact, of course, this is ridiculous - I write all the time because one way or another that is what I do for a living and sometimes I just get burned out on it, rather more often than I would like. So, this very long entry is by way of getting everything out of the way and clearing the decks a bit.
2. Hedwig. I meant to write about this weeks ago, just after I saw it in fact. Part of the problem is that you don't want to rain on the parade of a movie that gets decent distribution and is trying to say at least something interesting about trans issues and trans people. I did like it, honestly - the songs were good enough that I ended up buying the album and several of the performances were impressive, even in areas that did not make all that much literal sense.
But I have a tiresome nit-picking side and part of the problem for me was that I didn't believe huge chunks of the plot; I really did not believe that, in pre-collapse E. Germany, someone could just turn up and get themselves a re-assignment surgery without some Stalinist version of the Benjamin standards applying - having to do some appointments with a shrink at the very least. And, following on from that, I have known some quite badly botched reassignment surgeries that got put right in the end after some sort of fashion. Hell, I had quite bad post-operative problems myself and all fine now. The idea that, if things go wrong, they can't be fixed is crap - whether, in the US, you can afford to get them fixed is, of course, another issue.
There is also the question of the ending. I know, because of songs like 'The Origin of Love' that at the end, Hedwig was supposed to have got beyond gender and achieved some sort of idealized androgyny. Trouble is though, that when Mitchell takes off the wig and the frock, he ends up being a skinny guy with eye makeup. Rather than being an image of transcendence, it is the 'we're not subverting anything' ending of fifties and sixties drag shows. Some imagery has an extended prehistory and some of us were around for it.
3. More bloody opera. Really, just a note that I had one of the very best theatrical evenings of my life the other week even though I had a terrible cold and should have been in bed. My friend K. rang up and said that, because the reviews hadn't kicked in on ticket sales yet, there was a paperish house at Covent Garden and did I want to share a box for Jenufa?
Jenufa is an intense just-after the turn of the century piece by Janacek which is about a village woman whose stepmother tries to manipulate her life for her own good by marrying her off to the rich brother rather than the poor one, and killing the child that might mess this up. Part of its radicalism is that you feel almost as sorry for the 'villainess' as you do for the 'heroine'. She does wrong things for right reasons - she is not particularly getting any personal benefit out of what she does.
Anna Silja, who is supposed to have retired but keeps coming back one last time, was fabulous as the stepmother and Karita Mattila equally fine as Jenufa - they have a lot of serious dueting and their music is more interesting than anything they sing with the boys. I really must set up my opera slash website some day...
Unfortunately, the production had, in Act One, the upper surface of a symbolic rock bursting through the floor of the barn, a rock which, by Act Two, dominated the set and had to be crawled around and over. In Act Three, it was rubble, which was something of a relief, though why all these peasants didn't just pick them up...And then they did - in order to threaten to stone Jenufa for her child's death; symbolic objects that suddenly become real objects really only work if they have had real status in earlier acts, and no-one had ever talked about squeezing past the big rock.
4. War stuff. I don't plan to rehearse anything very much here - you either think it is wrong, or you think it is right, and some people whose judgement I respect are either supporting the bombing or hedging their bets. My view is that civilian bombing is always wrong and no bombing is ever so precise that civilians do not get killed; this means, as far as I am concerned, that you really have to exhaust alternatives first, and the US and the UK did not.
People are dying to keep Bush's approval rating up.
Let it be clear, though, that even if we had any reason to doubt the evidence we were not being given to see; the Al Quaeda statements since the bombing started have effectively acknowledged they did September 11th. You don't use words like 'more' and 'again' if you are not taking responsibility for the first time. All the more reason to pursue them through the world's courts; certainly not a US court, but not an Islamic one either.
It is awful to think in those terms, but thank heaven for the fact that the anthrax seems to be an American strain. Since the Sept 11th Al Quaeda mob were, some of them, in Boca Raton for some time, it looks likely it was them - two bunches of terrorists in town at the same time is of course possible, but not the way to bet. At least it wasn't Iraqi anthrax, which would have given US hawks a chance to start going mediaeval on Iraq again.
I know this is bad taste when one guy has died and others are sick, but isn't 'Osama declares jihad on National Enquirer', well, a perfect National Enquirer headline?
I am going to the peace rally at Marble Arch -> Trafalgar Square on Saturday and I expect to see some of you there...
5. Everyone has said how wonderful the UCSL meet at Blackpool was and I agree, even though I ate too much greasy Chinese and had to go barf rather than go clubbing. I seem to have ended up committed to writing a Drusilla/Patsy from AbFab pairing, which is scary, because thus far the only joke I can think of is 'Blood is the new Bolly.' But we will see; I must get 'Tacos' out of the way, and possibly later chunks of 'Summer of Gifts' and write Boy1, which is going to be less about DemonRiley and PrigWesley than about DemonRiley looking after his boys as they go through surgery...
I was really crap on the dodgems, but loved it anyway. Lar is a princess and Sam is heaven; David, Pam,Wendy and Kate are always wonderful; Vanessa, Michelle, Gunbunny and Meghan are all way cool. What can I say? It was fun.
6. And I think that is everything. For the moment. Except, oh, for the sheer bliss, in the depressing timetravel episode of Farscape, of evil Scorpius in Crichton's brain playing Home on the Range on harmonica, because if you are Crichton, someone always has to...Well, it made me laugh.