September 15th, 2008

American Players Theater "The Belle's Stratagem"

On Saturday the 6th, we made the trek to Spring Green for APT’s production of “The Belle’s Stratagem.” We were very interested in this piece because it is a rarity, a play written by Hannah Cowley, who was a very successful British playwright in the late 1700’s. “The Belle’s Stratagem” was her most famous work, and we (and the rest of the audience) liked it quite a bit better than the lukewarm local paper reviewers.

The plot revolves (sometimes rapidly) around the love lives of two couples who are part of London society: Doricourt, a handsome young gentleman (Marcus Truschinski) and Letitia, a young lady (Colleen Madden) who are scheduled to enter into a marriage arranged by their elders even though they have not met since they were children; and Sir George Touchwood (Jonathan Smoots) and his new, country-bred wife (Carey Cannon), whose innocence of city ways he is intent on preserving. Letitia is disappointed by the indifferent impression she made at the reunion with Doricort, and embarks on an ambitious plan to kindle his regard. Both this plan and Sir George’s domestic bliss are complicated by the intervention of characters from the local ton, including the busybody Mrs. Racket (Sarah Day) and Darragh Kennan as Mr. Flutter, a character that will remain the dictionary image of a “macaroni” in my mind. While some of the major plot elements are a bit dated, many more are still quite current, including the ways in which the envious and the foolish prey upon persons of prominence. The villain of the piece, Courtall, maintains a Don Juan-like list of the ladies he has despoiled; the journalist Crowquill is quite willing to publish scandalous lies as long as he has someone else to blame them on; and Flutter is a compulsive gossip who can’t keep his stories straight and doesn’t care.

Very nice and energetic performances by the whole cast, and they make the plot devices fun and enjoyable if not entirely believable. The audience rewarded the cast with a standing ovation.

The costumes by Robert Morgan are exceptionally well done, with the period clothing for both men and women very lovely. The masquerade scene was most impressive, although I thought some of the neon colors were a bit over the top. The set was merely a collection of empty picture frames, which the cast made good use of to invoke the scenes.

Solid Gold MacDonald's Car Show

Sunday the 7th found us doing some shopping down on South 76th street, and we happened upon the annual car show sponsored by the “Solid Gold MacDonald’s” located near 76th and Layton. The restaurant has a “rock and roll” theme, and they’ve hosted a car show for several years, but this was the first time we’d been down there for it. As might be expected from the “rock & roll” theme, it is primarily a “hot rod” theme, and the vast majority of entrants were American customs and “muscle cars” dating from the 1930’s through the 1980’s, with a smattering of later model sports cars and classics. Sice we hadn’t planned on visiting the show, we only walked through about half of it, but it was a very impressive collection and fun to have seen. Worth planning ahead for in future years.


The good thing about the movie doldrum time in fall is that it gives you a chance to catch up on summer movies you didn’t get to. “Hancock” was still playing at the local budget cinema, and seemed like a good gamble for $2.00 on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised.

“Hancock”, played by Will Smith, is the only known superhero. He is super-strong, invulnerable, and can fly at super-speed. He is also sloppy, disaffected, frequently drunk, and has a bad attitude that has alienated the Los Angeles community he tries to help. Jason Batemen plays Ray Embrey, a public relations man with ambitions to change the world, who makes rehabilitating Hancock his project after the hero messily saves his life. Charlize Theron is Embrey’s wife, Mary, dismayed by the disruption Hancock brings into her family life. The unexpectedly dramatic plot revolves around the interaction of these three characters, with, of course, some intervention from the criminal element. Eddie Marsan plays Kenneth “Red” Parker Jr., Hancock’s would-be nemesis, who is a thoroughly nasty character. You have to listen closely to the sound track to find the delightful details that he is an evil Psychology professor who turned to crime leading a gang of graduate students he had led to the bad.

We had expected the film to be a pure comedy, but it is far from that. Although there are a lot of comic elements, some of them quite outrageous, particularly in the early portions of the film, it takes a major and quite effective twist into the dramatic.

The script was quite inventive in a number of ways, particularly involving Hancock’s use of his powers, such as using the pressure of his super-strong fingers to make a sharp edge on a piece of metal when needed--. I also liked some of the effects treatments, like his shattering pavement when he carelessly leaps into the sky, and the fine turbulence vapor that trails from his heels when flying at speed.

Being a super-hero movie, there is considerable, often gross violence, but comparatively little blood; quite a lot of moderately bad language; and no sex.

Why Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice-President.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the New York Times is not an entirely unbiased source. However, their recent story digging into Sarah Palin’s actions and record show quite clearly that she is temperamentally unfit to be Vice-President. Why? Because she is small. Her behavior in office has been markedly small, mean, and petty. I believe the Times story because my experience in local government has brought me into contact with just exactly the same kind of small-time/small-minded characters. Her cronyism, tendency to demonize anyone who disagrees with her, and paranoid secrecy are exactly indicative of the breed of small-town tyrants that afflict local politics everywhere. Among her stunts has been to use personal e-mail accounts for government business, on the grounds it may be immune to subpoena. (Where have we seen that before, eh? And if what you are doing is open and above board, why worry about being subpoenaed?) It may well be argued that the Republicans think that she is well-qualified because that’s precisely the type of people they have had in the present administration, and McCain doesn’t have enough spite and spleen to suit them. They well may be right in that, but we have seen how dysfunctionally that works over the last 7.5 years, and we don’t need more.

The full article, “Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes can be read at:
and I recommend you refer anyone you know who might be thinking of voting Republican to read it.

Georgie Schnobrich to be Fan GoH at OddCon!

I'm very pleased to say that Georgie has been invited to be Fan Guest of Honor for OddCon 2009, and has accepted the invitation. Of course, she's endeared herself to OddCon with her series of Cow mascot designs which have graced T-shirts and publications since the first OddCon, but she has done more than that. She has had many pieces of writing and art published in zines ranging from Janus and Khatru to Chunga and Wabe, the latter of which garnered her a FAAN award nomination. She has illustrated fiction for chapbooks published by Charles DeLint and in Tales of the Unanticpated. For several years, her cakes and artwork were regular parts of the Tiptree prize, for which she holds the coveted "Space Babe" pin, and Georgie was a member of the Tiptree Award jury for 2005. Since arriving in Madison she has been a member of con committees for WisCon, X-Con, Mad Media, First Contact, Costume Con, and several WorldCons. She is a past co-chair of WisCon, and was Programming co-chair for First Contact during its existence.  She is a past member of MilwAPA, and still contributes her thoughtful and witty writings to The Turbo-Charged Party Animal APA.  She is a regular con panelist on a wide-ranging variety of subjects, likes to costume, and throws a darn good room party.  She is truly a Renaissance Fan, and I'm not just saying that because I am married to her.  (If I was, I'd be sure to add that she is beautiful, too--).