Archive for December, 2012

Quote of the day: SHAKESPEARE SCHOLARSHIP

December 22, 2012

SHAKESPEARE SCHOLARSHIP

Sorting through the pile of scripts in the archive, I found a copy of Ümmiye Koçak’s Hamlet, and opened it at random.

“Alas, poor Yorick!” I read aloud.

“I knew him,” Ümmiye said promptly. “He had a way of joking, of conversation.” Her expression turned serious. “You know,” she said, “there’s something I’d like to ask you about that scene. When Hamlet says, ‘How many times I kissed this one, this Yorick, on the lips.’ Well, Yorick is a man. And Hamlet is also a man.” She asked if I had any explanation, and I confessed that I did not, observing only that Hamlet was a little boy at the time. “Well, of course he was,” Ümmiye said. “But it still seems odd. With us in Turkey, little boys don’t kiss grown men on the lips.”

Everyone agreed that it was odd. “Hamlet was a homosexual,” Seher said quietly, not looking up from the tomato she was dicing, and this theory was debated for some minutes. Ümmiye couldn’t accept it, because wasn’t the whole point that he was in love with his mother?

— Elif Batuman, “Stage Mothers,” in the New Yorker

Ümmiye Koçak (in crown) playing Hamlet with her company, the Arslankoy Women's Theatre (photo by Carolyn Drake)

Ümmiye Koçak (in crown) playing Hamlet with her company, the Arslankoy Women’s Theatre (photo by Carolyn Drake)

In this week’s New Yorker

December 22, 2012

I found myself surprisingly lukewarm about the series of articles on the issue’s theme of World Changers, though I appreciated “Out in Africa,” Alexis Okeowo’s illuminating article about Frank Mugisha and other courageous gay activists in Uganda, as well as Elif Batuman’s long article about an amazing all-female theater troupe in rural Turkey. I got drawn into Bill Wyman’s review of Randall Sullivan’s Michael Jackson biography Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, which includes this remarkable assertion: “It’s an open question whether Jackson ever had sex with anyone — man, woman, or child. Sullivan believes the singer died a virgin.” Speaking of weird and self-destructive R&B singers, Sasha Frere-Jones writes an unusually unsparing essay about Rihanna and her relationship with Chris Brown, whom he describes as “an agile dancer, a better-than-average rapper, and a passable singer…also, by all appearances, a vile human being. ” A bunch of kinda great cartoons, though:

low level person abominable snowmom had work done

From the deep archives: THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, reviewed in 1979

December 22, 2012

On the occasion of Larry L. King’s demise, I dug out the story I wrote on him and the review I wrote for the Boston Phoenix when The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas opened its first national tour there. I guess I got a little obsessed with the show for a while. I did a cover story on Tommy Tune for the Soho News, and I took my mother to see the show on one of the two times she visited me in New York. My review is definitely the work of a young critic (count the cliches — ouch!), but apparently I was a staunch pleasure activist even back then. You can read the review online here.

whorehouse poster

RIP Larry L. King

December 22, 2012

Larry L. King, who just died at the age of 83, will forever be best-known as the author (co-author, technically) of the Broadway musical-turned-Hollywood-movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I got to interview him in 1979, when Whorehouse launched its post-Broadway tour in Boston. I liked him tremendously and, as a young freelance writer, ate up everything he had to say about his own career as a magazine journalist and book author:

“Writing a book takes about a year and a half, plus to make money to live on you have to meet 14 to 16 magazine deadlines a year. Out of all those, maybe three or four are stories you care about, and the rest you don’t want your friends to read. The timetable is killing, and I’m glad to be out of it. I’m 50 years old, and I figure I’ve hustled enough…

“[In the theater] you work long hours when you’re shaping the work, and there’s the frustration of collaborators. But look at it this way. You write books at home by yourself. You get a bunch of reviews and modest sales. Maybe a handful of letters trickle in, most of them telling you that you misspelled a word on page 39. And then that book is over. It makes you crazy. I actually used to hang around bookstores trying to catch people buying my books. But it’s really a kick to stand in the back of a theater and watch people laugh at something you rote. It’s instant gratification! I can see why people thrive on it.”

You can read the whole interview online here.

LARRY KING

Photo diary: lunch at Hangawi, or what is todok?

December 19, 2012
Glenn and Michael and I had our traditional holiday season celebration lunch at Hangawi, a fancy Korean vegetarian place on E. 32nd Street, where you remove your shoes at the door and sit at low tables with a pit for your feet.

Glenn and Michael and I had our traditional holiday season celebration lunch at Hangawi, a fancy Korean vegetarian place on E. 32nd Street, where you remove your shoes at the door and sit at low tables with a pit for your feet.

We started with kale pancakes. Kale pancakes! Delicious!

We started with kale pancakes. Kale pancakes! Delicious!

Another appetizer: stuffed mushrooms. Also delicious!

Another appetizer: stuffed mushrooms. Also delicious!

The menu heavily promoted a seasonal special -- todok, a root I've never heard of.

The menu heavily promoted a seasonal special — todok, a root I’ve never heard of.

So of course I ordered the grilled todok strips in ginger soy sauce. It looked a little like plantain, moved a little like bacon, and tasted...super-delicious! Hangawi: a find. A little pricey ($41 apiece for lunch) but terrific for a special treat.

So of course I ordered the grilled todok strips in ginger soy sauce. It looked a little like plantain, moved a little like bacon, and tasted…super-delicious! Hangawi: a find. A little pricey ($41 apiece for lunch) but terrific for a special treat.

 

 

 

 

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