Tuesday, December 17, 2013

a home rehearsed & scheduled like a Broadway show shelters best seller's narrator

 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt,  is one   of this past year's  most popular new novels  While  it's not something  that could move  from page to  stage,  it  does suffer from  a flaw I've  seen  recur  in many new plays,: It  seems to  end, but then goes on  for another ending. . .and then another one.   That said,  Tartt  did provide me with some  apt  tropes  to  proof that  no  dictionary like Similes Dictionary or  Metaphors  Dictionary  is  ever finished.

The  very  readable  novel   turned up  several apt  additions  to   the  new Simile Dictionary's   existing  head words:

For PALLOR,  ,  Tartt described someone as  pale as a cod,  and  a young man who was thin as well as pale as   thin and pale as a starved poet.

For STUPIDITY,  there was  a young woman  as   dumb as a set of  sofa cushions.

Fitting  ORDER/DISORDER,  an orderly  household  that  provided  temporarily  shelter to the  displaced  main character was described as one  where everything was rehearsed and scheduled like a Broadway production.

Suitable  for  DISAPPEARANCE,  Tartt   introduced someone who   vanished as quickly as a bird flying from a  windowsill.

In  one of  the  narrator's  many moments   to fit the heading  DISCOMFORT,  he felt    as uneasy and conspicuous as a dreamer wandering naked in a nightmare.

For the Metaphors Dictionary,  I was struck  by   a scene  about an awkward attempt at conversation described as follows:     Efforts to make conversation all stumbled and sank into  quicksand.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Virginity preserved as "time like months in an unworn sweater wore holes " in a relationship

 In his  terrific book  Gossip,  Joseph Epstein differentiates between the  various ways  gossip  has emerged and  the various ways  it's  retailed  and  can be interpreted.   In  a chapter  on the way gossip has gone public  and  how,  in an  age  of  celebrity  and  "with-it-ness"  (a term to which he devotes a whole  chapter in his equally terrific   Snobbery in America) at any cost,  he  details  how gossip has  gone public.  He  touches on  people  who,  rather than  avoiding being gossiped about,   invite  gossip about themselves --     and even  tell things about themselves most people wouldn't  think of  publicizing.  

A  feature in the  November 17th  New York Times,  "Does My Virginity Have a Shelf Life?"   by  a free lance writer named Amanda MC Cracken is a case in point.    McCrackin  details  why and  how she's held onto her  virginity.  The  35-year-old virgin,  has   nevertheless  had  all manner of   intimate encounters with men (short of  penetration).    Her  self-gossip  piece, which I suppose you could call  a case of  self-gossip   includes  memories of  one  of two men  for whom she came close to taking her  virginity "off the shelf."  The man in the case was a soldier with whom she had an epistolary romance.  She met him once and   they  ""continued to meet and fell in love, but a series of long deployments over a couple of years kept us from having sex."  She further explains it with this simile.

 Distance and time, like moths in an unworn sweater, wore holes in the relationship, until it unraveled.

Mr.  Epstein would also  cite  the paper of  record's   giving space to a more gossipy than newsworthy  item   as  another example  of   how  much   even the most highly reputed newpapers  have  tripped into the  footsteps  of  the  gutter press.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A nifty simile from Beckett's star-cast radio play All That Fall

One  of  the hottest  shows currently in New York  is   All T hat Fall, a 1957 radio play by Samuel Beckett.  Director  Trevor Nunn has managed to persuade the notoriously strict  Beckett estate keepers  to allow him to stage it more visually than  usually.  The  buzz  is  less a case of  the play's the thing  than  the starry leads, Sir  Michael Gambon and Dame Eileen Atkins.   The  bucolic flavor and bawdy  humor  include  this   simile with which Atkins's  Mrs.  Rooney  describes herself.

Oh, let me just flop down flat on the road like a big fat jelly out of a bowl and never move again.

My review of the playwww.curtainup.com/allthatfallny.html

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bruce Norris's unDomesticated: adulterer knows female compassion: is "like a Nazi asking sympathy from a roomful of Jews."

 In   Domesticated,  his take  on  the all too familiar story  of   adulterous  politicians,   Pulitzer Prize winning playwright    Bruce Norris  has   the   libidinous  politician  he  invented  justify  his  years  of  cheating on  his  wife   by declaring  the  male species  to  be  naturally inclined to  resist  domestication--  in short,  monogamy.   While   initially  silently repentant,   Jeff Goldblum as  the  disgraced Pol   rips  into his   defense .  However,  he realizes  that  neither his wife or  the female characters  all around him are likely to  sympathize  with his  viewpoint.  He sums this up with, you guessed it,  a  simile. . .
 "For a man to want compassion from women is like a Nazi asking sympathy from a roomful of Jews."

 Here's  a link to   my review of  the play  www.curtainup.com/domesticated13.html

Monday, November 4, 2013

Spider-Man Tell-All dishes up similistic put-downs

     In  his tell-all memoir, Song Of Spider-man
 In The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History ,  Glen Berger dishes up  some pithy  similistic takes on the show and the main players.   His most caustic  comparison likens  New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel  to "a parasite-carrying blood-sucking mosquito depositing the larvae of an elephantiasis-causing filarial worm under the skin of our show"

As for his own decision to cut himself loose from Ms. Taymor's  influence and move in a different direct,  Ms. Taymor  likens it to "a masectomy."

 Mark Harris,  who reviewed Berger's  book for  the New York Times  apty  sums it up with a trope, likening it to "a coroner’s report signed, sealed and delivered by one of the parties responsible for the victim’s demise."

Incidentally,   though the show still hasn't  earned back its  huge investment,  it's  still running!

Here's a link  to my review when it finally had its  official opening

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Betrayal's astronomical tkt prices defined by tropes from Snobbery in America

Joseph Epstein,  a prolific  Chicago  essayist and short story writer,  is  one  of  my  recently  discovered  favorite  writers.   While   his books  have nothing  to  do  with   my  main beat, the theater,   a chapter called  "The art of  With-it-ry" from   his  terrific  Snobbery in America   helped me to  explain  the  buzz  that  has  made  the  revival  of Harold Pinter's  Betrayal  the hottest ticket in town.   To see how,   see  www.curtainup.com/betrayal13.html  In  talking about   another aspect of snobbery -- name  dropping --  Epstein   used  this   pity  simile to   recollect  a   prime  example  among  his acquaintances:
Names came burbling out of  his mouth  like  froth from  champagne

Friday, November 1, 2013

Broadway as a metaphor for a graveyard. . .

 The  latest   big bucks,  celebrity affiliated  musical  headed to Broadway  is  The Last Ship by rock super star Sting who's  well aware that  Broadway  is  not  always  kind even to  shows  with a big name  attached to them.  His  metaphoric  sum-up likend  Broadway to  " a landscape littered with bleached corpses."

Friday, October 4, 2013

A "Bad Jews" character with the sense of humor of an overdue library book

Up and coming  playwright Joshua Harmon's  Bad Jews was a hit in its premiere performance at a small black box theater.   His delicisously  nasty little family comedy, Bad Jews,  has now been given a commercial production .    Harmon's  gift  for  funny  dialogue and  situations   is evident even in his  playscript  notes.  For example,    this    description of  one  of  the    angry,  young adults   who make up the cast:

Liam, an  Asian studies PH.d  student  who's  less  of an observant Jew than the  super Jewish  cousin he detests is  describes as having   as much of a sense of humor as an overdue library book.
 For a nifty similistic putdown from  Daphna Feygenbaum, the  chief  claimant to being the family's 
claimant  as   the family's  truly good Jew about  Liam's  latest  "Shiksa" girl friend Melody  who she  says  looks  as  if  she was  live water-birthed in a Talbot’s.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guess who went through ladies like a hot knife through fudge

Similes  about   men with voracious  sexual  appetites. . .

In  his new book  Ava Gardner - The Secret Conversations Peter Evans quotes  Gardner  on  one of  the men in her life, the 5-foot-2  Mickey Rooney as " going  through ladies like a hot knife through fudge."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Oscar Hammerstein's similes still sing delightfully. . .

My main activity since compiling the first edition of  Similes Dictionary  has been as editor and publisher of  the online theater-zine  Curtainup.com. Naturally, this has led me to many apt examples in dramatic dialogue and songs with which to enrich the new edition.

The new edition  features   many nifty additions  from song lyrics,   but
few song writers can match Oscar Hammerstein’s gift for poetic figures of speech that sing gloriously.   With the Berkshire Theater Group  doing a  revival  of  Oklahoma!  I   welcomed  a chance to  actually  hear some  of  the  Dictionary's  entries   sung  on  the stage of  the beautifully restored  Colonial Theater in Pittsfield -- for example:

The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye and it
looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky

(And I) Sit by myself like a cobweb on a shelf

(I am) free as a breeze, free like a bird in the
woodland wild, free like a gypsy, free like a

And, of course there's this from Ado Annie's famous "I cain't Say No"

Watchagonna do when a feller gets flirty
An'wants to talk purty
Watcha gonna do?
So s'posing that he says
That your lips are like cherries, Or Roses or berries

Monday, July 1, 2013

Similes are part of James Goldman's verbal arsenal. in The Lion in Winter

James Goldman's  The Lion In Winter  about  a   squabbling  Medieval Royal family wasn't  a big hit on Broadway but it's been  a  crowd pleaser at regional  theaters  for many years.  It's   continued success  with audiences  can be attributed to  the playwright's   way  with  witty  dialogue--  so  it should come as  no surprise  that  it  includes its share of   clever tropes.   Here are two   that popped  out at me  when I attended  the production now at the Berkshire Theater Group in Stockbridge, Mass.

To  illustrate   the Royal  couples  acerbic  interchanges,  in  Henry,   himself a flagrant adulterer,  accuses  his  aging  wife  of  doing her share of  extra-marital  fornication:
I marvel at you:  after all  these years, still  like a democratic drawbridge, going down for everybody.  Picking up on the  drawbridge metaphor,  the Queen  wryly replies  At my age, there's not much traffic any more.

The queen also  comments  philosophically   about  their life:  Life, if it's like anything at all, is like an avalanche.  To blame the little ball of snow that starts it all, to say it is the cause, is just as true as it is meaningless.

Here's a link to   my review of  the Berkshire  Theater Group's  production  at its  Stockbridge:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our Sunday Simile: Age is like art — it’s a matter of interpretation

 Age  is  a chockablock  full  category  in  Similes Dictionary.   And new age-related similes crop up constantly.  To  wit,   Representative Nancy Pelosi  on  a  discussion  of  Hilary Clinton's  age as an issue  in the 2016 presidential election. As Pelosi  said  "A Republican approach that calls attention to Mrs. Clinton’s age is not without peril,'  She topped her prediction   that the Repulbicans would go to that place at their own ris  with this  simile:    “Age is like art — it’s a matter of interpretation.”
 (From NYTimes   June 29, 2013  article, Republicans Paint Clinton as Old News By Jonathan Martin)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guess who said acting is like a parachute

 Similes about  the risky  business of acting abound.  Here's  one we missed  adding to the second edition of  Simile Dictionary.  It's attributed to  the late, great Bette Davis:

Acting is like a parachute. You jump and pull the cord and pray that it opens." Bette Davis

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Similes make good ads

 A catchy  simile  seen in a subway ad  by  a storage company:

Raising a baby in a NYC apartment is like growiing an oak tree in a thimble

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Simile-Metaphor maven on Somewhere Fun by Jenny Schawrtz

While  I obviously  tend  to  like  playwrights who are passionate about  words,  Jenny Schwartz   tends to  use her  gift  for  imbuing  her plays  with  interesting wordsmithing   to  take audiences
on an absurdist  ride  that   is more confusing than compelling in the long run.  Like the rainstorm that sets the scene for  happenstance meeting of  two old  friends, Rosemary and Evelyn in     her new  play   Somewhere Fun    (www.curtainup.com/somewherefun.html),  words just  pour  out  of  her characters

Rosemary in  particular    has  us  drowning  in words. . .words. . .words.   Before   Schwartz  finally  does her in   by  melting her into a puddle  (I'm not making this up!),  she  tells us  about  her estrangement from her son  with  a quartet of similes,
and hangs  a  simile onto  an old  cliche   pertaining to her  her relationship with Evelyn

About her"relationship with  her son she says  " I’m toxic, “Like a cancer.  Like a curse.  Like a dump.  Like a swamp.” 

She  says  she and  Evelyn  were once  "peas in a pod.  Like two front teeth, we're attached at the hip.

Friday, May 31, 2013

the simile-metaphor maven discovers Elizabeth Strout

Here's one  for   the    I wish I'd  read this book   while  working  on  the  new edition of  Simile Dictionary:    Olive Kitteridge , Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

Strout's   linked  stories  shape  up  as   a  terrific  novel,    something   of  modern  day  Winesburg  Ohio  in  which  the title  character  just plays   a minor   role in
the story being told. Though  Olive Kitteridge does  ultimately emerge  as  a powerful   and memorable figure.

The author   is  a  fine observer of   life in small town America,   with a take no prisoners approcah to the human condition.    This is   not  a   fluffy  beach read,   especially for anyone of a
certain age. 

Here are  some  of   Strout's  similes   I would  have included in Simile Dictionary if  I'd  read the book before now.

A cliche freshened with a new simile:    A  girl neat as a pin, if plain as a plate . 

The awkward,  nervous appearnace of  a   young couple getting married has them looking stiff as driftwood.   Also  in the  APPEARANCe  category,   Strout  describes somene's legs as  skinny as spider legs.   

The fresh air  and beauty of nature plays   a big role  in the Maine setting.   And so the effect  of  fresh air  on  one  character is like a cold washcloth on his face

 The  effects of a bad experience with another  family leaves its  mark:  The visit to the Larkin home sat inside her like a dark, messy injection of sludge spreading throughout her body.  Only telling someone about it would get it hosed out.

There's also a  striking  metaphor to  depict  the changes people  go through over the years:   The natural rubber ban around people's lives that curiosity stretched for a while had long ago returned to encompass their own particularities
The  author's new book, The Burgess Boys is  on my list  of  this summer's  reading list.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The simile-Metaphor Maven on CSC's Caucasian Chalk Circle

The reason Bertolt Brecht's  plays continue  to  be mounted is   that  his themes are, sad to say, timely as ever;  also  because  Brechtian  playwriting  elements  of music and audience interaction
are naturals for  fresh new  stagings. Case in point: the Classic Stage Company's  current  production of   The Caucasian Chalk Circle  which marries  new songs by the very much alive composer Duncan Sheik  with lyrics  by  the  late  poet  W. H. Auden.

My review    is posted at  Curtainup after the ocicial  May 30th  opening. www.curtainup.com/causasianchalkcirclecsc.html

Here's  one  of  those lyrics  which  includes  two metaphors  (in red) and concludes with a simile (in green).

Beware of willing Judges
For truth is a black cat
In a windowless room at midnight

And justice a blind bat.
To feed the starving people
He broke the laws like bread

Friday, May 24, 2013

A catchy S mile spotted in the subway:. . .

The  simile may be a literary device  but  it  also as its  commercial  uses.  To wit,  this  poster  I just  saw in the subway  on my way to the theate advertising  a   New York Storage company:

Raising a baby in a NYC apartment is like growiing an oak tree in a thimble

Friday, May 17, 2013

Age inspires many a simile. . .

The blog Daily Writing Tips just published  a feature  called "45 Synonyms about   Old  and  Old-Fashioned" in which  the editors backed up   their reflection  about the    abundance of  synonyms    our cultural  attitudes  about  age  have seeded  with  45 words that refer to people, places, and things that are, or are considered, old or old-fashioned.

 A  quick  jump  to the heading   AGE  in  Similes Dictionary   expands  the  synonym  list with an  even larger sampling  of   similes.   Naturally the  over a hundred  similes  listed includes  the   English  language's   most  famous   simile  coiners,  William Shakespeare. with
Age like winter weather … age like winter bare  from  “Sonnet 73,” The Passionate
Pilgrim an  My age is as a lusty winter, frosty but kind  from A
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It

A  clever  mix of  a  metaphor simile  added to the Second Edition   of  the Similes Dictionary  came  from novelist Louis Begley  in a March 17, 2012  New York Times  piece entitled Age and It's Discontent".

 My body … continues to be a good sport. Provided my marvelous doctor pumps steroids
into my hip or spine when needed, it runs along on the leash like a nondescript mutt
and wags its tail

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The IRS scandal seeds a simile. . .

Collapse and Disintegration are  among the full to the brim headings in  
The Similes Dictionary.   Here's  an addition from today's 
New York Times  Op-d piece, "The Real IRS Scandal by Sheila Krumholtz 
and Robert Weinberger o (May 15, 2013)
The agency folded like wet cardboard


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Misplaced praise a la Nora Ephron: like giving a hooker points for turning a trick


The Simile sDictionary  as a fluid   linguistic tool:  

Nora Ephron  is no longer with us  to enjoy the success of  her play Lucky Guy starring  Tom Hanks.  As part of  its  push  to  promote  the play's  chances  of a Tony Award,  a  beautifully bound copy of  the play as well  as  a Vintage Paperback    of  two  of  Ephron'   column collections -- Crazy Salad (some things about women) & Scribble Scrible (notes on the media)  have been  sent to  critics.

Reading these wonderful essays,   some for the first time,   reinforces  what I already knew:  That Ephron was one  of  our best and wittiest  journalistic voices.  While it's  wonderful  that she left such a rich legacy -- it's  sad   not to  have   a more  current  bunch of  essays on these 1970s  pieces.

While not  someone  who  used similes  excessively,   she did come up with some pungent ones.  Here are a couple, I wish I'd  caught in time to  include  in the   new edition of  Similes Dictionary.

Television was covering the war.  But giving television points for that was a little like giving a hooker points for turning a trick.  -- Ephron   using a simile to make her point about   praise  incorrectly given  ("Bob Haldeman and CBS" from  Scribble Scribble).  In the same piece  she  noted  Mike Wallace's  preparedness  for  doing the Haldeman interview  thorough but  still not  enough  since  she felt  a  print rather than television interviewer was need.  Her simile to sum this up:  "Wallace was stuffed like a Strasburg goose with papers and facts and questions and quotes.
 Here's a link to my review of Ephron's  play


Friday, April 26, 2013

Did Pippin send joy flowing fresh and strong as new wine gushing?


The Simile sDictionary  in Action:  
  Pippin, the   last Broadway musical  of  the season has opened .    The  renvisioned shows   mix  of  circus  feats and Fosse dancing didn't   send  joy flowing  fresh and strong  as new wine gushing from   every audience member and critic.   All   agreed that Patina Miller,,  the  show's  ringmaster,    is a terrific dancer and singer, but some  found  her  smile  too fixed  -- like a mousetrap  and  stretched across her face like a rubber band.

think  this  Pippin  is  imaginative   and enormously  entertaining.  You can read my   Curtainup review   by clicking  on this  link:  www.curtainup.com/pippin13.html

 Watch for more   sample  entries  from  Similes Dictionaries used to  blog abou my    theater going and reading.  


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Here's the cover of the new, 2nd edition of Similes Dictionary, published by Visible Ink Press. (Available at   www.vwww.visibleinkpress.com)

Simile of the Day:  I/m as corny as Kansas in August, I'm as normal as blueberry pie.— One of the many similes from songs in the new edition by the musical theater's one and only Oscar Hammerstein. This one from  "A Wonderful Guy" in   South Pacific

Monday, April 8, 2013

Failure clings to your life history, like a black hole. . .

Seeing  Nora Ephron's   last play  Lucky Guy   was  a wonderful  theatrical  experience.   It was  tinged with sadness that    Ephron  no longer is no loger with us.
(my review: www.curtainup.com/luckyguy.html)

 But  we're lucky  in that  Ephron    left  a   rich legacy that includes  her last  collection  of witty  essays,  I Can't Remember Anything.    
While  I read most of  the pieces  before, re-visiting   them  less than  a year  after  her  death,   clearly   reveals  her  awareness   not just  of  old  age  but  the likelihood  that  she would not   live to  be really old  (she  was 71  years  young when she died). 

In  a  piece  called  "Flops"   Ephron   reflects  on   failure  and  how   her films  that flopped    will   stubbornly  remain part  of  her  history   along  with  hits  like  When  Sally Meets Harry  and  Sleepless in Seattle  (in which Tom Hanks the  star of  Lucky Guy also starred).

She capsulizes  this with -- what else--   simile. ..

But that flop sits there, in the history of your life, like a black hole with a wildly powerful magnetic field

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Billy Porter sports Kinky Boots & arms hard as steel. . .

Even  before my own  "├╝nbooting" from 6 weeks in  a surgical boot  I couldn't  have  worn  those amazing  high heeled  boots  sported  by   the  cast  of  the  lively new musical  Kinky Boots,  the li first  two  Broadway shows  I saw  after my   enforced  hiatus.

Billy  Porter   is amazing  as  the show's    drag queen-turned   showy  shoe  designer.  But for all  his sexy   attire  and   bouffant  har--  his Lola   is   strong and muscular enough to   be  a champion boxer with  arms   he  similistically  describes  as   "hard as steel."


Sunday, March 31, 2013

A clever "similist" with good page-to-stage potential

I'd  love to see Jami Attenberg  write a  play.  Having just read  her hilarious  yet sad  and  touching  novel  The Middlesteins,  I can  just picture  her do a  contemporary  tragi-comedy.  I  bought  the  book   as  a Kindle Daily Deal and even  though  that super bargain is no longer available,  this  saga  about  a  Chicago  Jewish family  whose  matriarch  is  gradually  killing herself with  compulsive  eating  definitely falls  into the  "good read" category,  and   you don't  have  to  be  Jewish to  appreciate   Attenberg's  vivid  multi-character  story. 

The Middlesteins     also fed  my  never-ending appetite  for colorful  tropes with  some tasty  tidbits,  a few of  which  follow.   

About  guilt feelings:   (and what's a  novel about Jews without a reference to guilt:  "guilt boiling in her stomach like an egg in hot water.

About  a  wife  criticizing  an  ever  less  nurturing spouse:
"She pecked at Richard constantly, as if she were a sparrow and he was some crumb just out of reach."

Attenberg    pictures the above couple's  increasingly  distant  bed habits as  "sleeping on opposite sides of the bed, clinging to their respective corners as if they were holding on to the edge of a cliff.

A failing   family business begins   "to  slowly crumble, like a sick tree limb infested with a mysterious fungus.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A theater critic goes netflixing

I picked up that new verb netflixing  from Annie Baker's  overlong but  absorbing new play  The Flick  which is  set in  an old  movie theater  built long  before Netflix  became common enough to become a  new verb.  (www.curtainup.com/flick.html)

I had time to go netflixing as a result of  a fractured ankle which kept me  out of the theater most of this month.  The highlight  of  that experience was watching  this enteprises first  venture into original  content--  a 13  part  Americanized version of  the BBC series House of Cards.  It   proved  to  be  a  great  way  to see  the excellence of work being done  by  people  in the theater  for   the screen.  

The main character   theater in the heavy cast of  characters  was Congressman Francis Underwood, a superb performance by Kevin Spacey.  Here's   a metaphoric   gem  by the  scheming Underwood's  dialogue:

On money:    Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

. . .as easily forgotten as an umbrella

The title of  Will Self's new  novel Umbrella 
Umbrella”  the title  of Will Self's  new novel  comes
 from a  simile in Jame    Joyce’s Ulys­ses: “A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella.” 
 As  for  the role  of  those titular umbrellas in Self's novel  they characterize  the  fate  of its  characters in this  epic  dramatic overview of  modernBritish  life.   For Self's  many  fans  the novel  will NOT  be as easily forgotten as  an  umbrella.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Simile of the day: Flow into like batter flowing into the grooves of a waffle iron

In “The Measure of Manhattan” (W.W. Norton, $26.95), Marguerite Holloway offers up a  biography of  John Randel Jr.,  the man y who codified Manhattan’s street grid early in the 19th century,   As  Professor Holloway explains the  response to that  new  street organization as follows:
New York City flowed into that form, like batter flowing into the grooves of a waffle iron.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Limelight is to theater critics as sunlight is to vampires.

 In  a  February  7th  by New York Times theater  piece,  "Theater Talkback: Stepping Into the Spotlight,  the paper's theater critic Ben Brantley started   his experience  as  an  audience member recruited to  join  the actors  on stage in  this metaphoric vein. . .

Limelight is to theater critics as sunlight is to vampires. We reviewers feel safest crouched in the shadows while we feast on the lifeblood and talent (or lack thereof) of the performers on the bright stage before us. Legend has it that if you drag a critic into the glare of the other side of the proscenium, he will hiss, shrivel and disintegrate like Dracula at dawn.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Guess who can be "as exciting as a flounder?"

Actor Richard Burton   was  a life-long   diarist   though    he  probably  never set  out to have his  diaries published as they  have been as ‘The Richard Burton Diaries,’ Edited by Chris Williams.

While Burton loved being famous but loathed acting  he  was a passionate reader  and  himself  an entertaining  writer.   Far from being just  gossipy  references to  famous people  his   diary entries  about them    bubdled   with apt descripons.   Not surpisingly, that includes  similes--  for example:

 Mia Farrow   is said to have“eyes as round as her fist” and   “a laugh as false as a dentist’s assurance.”    Maureen Stapleton  according  to  Burton " photographed  like a sack of potato.

Burton's  metaphoric  description of  himself    includes this  tidbit:  “My eyes are slits that only a locksmith could open”    Famous  actors generally  he  saw as :   “gods in their own mirrors. Distorted mirrors”   

Even Elizabeth  who he loved passionately  didn't keep him during rehearsals of their unsuccessful  rehearsal for a Broadway revival of Private  Lives  as  "Exciting as a flounder."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

l. . .likely as Pluto crash-landing into the parking ot

Even more than usual   theater in New York has been all about  revivals of plays  from another era,  made "new"  again courtesy of star casting.   To see a play  that explores  contemporary  issues,  like the  economic crisis that has  made the American Dream an American nightmare for many,  Off-Broadway is the place to go.
One of  the smartest  such exploration  is  Bethany by Laura Marks starring   America Ferrera  (best known as the decidedly NOT ugly Ugly Betty).   Ferrera   is Crystal  a  cars saleswoman who' has lost her home-- and with it, custody of her little daughter (the unseen title character).  On top  of that the dealership where she works is about to close with  potential  customers walking  in ever less likely  -- or as   her  boss puts it with a nifty simile:

If we get any walk-ins, which at this point is about as
likely as Pluto crash-landing into the parking lot, 

Here's the link to my review of the play:


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Downton Abbey: Revered -- and Regurgitated

 I'm  writing  this  as Downton Abbey launches its  third  season.  Its fans, yours truly included,  will  eat it up. 
But the   phenomenally  successful upstairs-downstairs  TV  soap  opera   also has its  detractors,   most amusingly  so   James Parker  in  the  February  issue of   The Atlantic Monthly.  His article  Brideshead  Regurgitated    sees  the  show  as   a  sad  fall  from   the  more literary  Brideshead  Revisited. of  many seasons past.
Parker  won't prevent me  or   the  legion of  fans  from watching  Season  3.   Besides   quite  a few chuckles he  also   dished up   two  delicious similes,  one about the  dialogue and  the other about the "emonic lady's maid  O'Brien's  hairdo. 
Though Parker admits that the   dialogue   "spins light-operatically along in the service of multiplying plotlets  an  is  not too hard on the ear"   he  does warn that. . .
  Now and again a line lands like a tray of dropped spoons.
 As  for  O’Brien's  hair. . .
 Her hairstyle consisting of two ringlets perched on her forehead like horns