Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last laugh

Today I received what may well be my last paycheck from The Grand Rapids Press. Everyone knows about the changes afoot at The Press. This week home delivery is being cut back to three days a week and the office is moving to Founders' Bank building. It's exciting in some ways, with all sorts of new delivery capabilities such as an "app for the ipad." That's something they never taught us in J-School. But the changes are scary too. Many great writers, editors and photographers have lost their jobs. Personally, I'm floating somewhere in limbo land. Officially, I retired almost 3 years ago but I've been covering local theater on a freelance basis, except during the winter months when I'm in Florida. I've been asked to continue covering theater when I return in April, but I'll have to decide if I can afford to take assignments at the rate the new company is willing to pay. Am I really willing to work just for the fun of it?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Joke's on me!

The latest laugh is at my expense. The Kindle version of my second book, Great News Town, is available free, today only, at the Kindle Store, as part of the Kindle Select program. Of course, that means I don't make any royalty on the books sold today, but I want to share the book with as many people as I can, especially since I expect to have the sequel ready by next summer. So Kindle readers, here's your chance. Don't blow it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh I wish I were in Dixie...and I am!

Had a great time yesterday at the Marathon Community Theatre production of Dixie Swim Club. This is community theater at its best, and proud of it, where enthusiasm makes up for less than ideal costuming or body shapes. The audience is never completely convinced that these are five women meeting at the North Carolina Outer Banks for an annual getaway. We're always a little aware that these are local actresses, changing wigs and costumes to feign the passage of 30 years and reciting a script of one liners, but they are having such a good time that we gladly join in the masquerade. Okay, so the sound effects of an approaching hurricane were spotty and unconvincing, but Vernadette's tirade on the benefits of biscuits is so heartfelt and hilarious that theatricks really don't matter. This show is mostly about friendship and fun with a small amount of serious stuff and character development to keep your interest. Kudos to the cast and crew. BTW...what a nice little procenium theater, with about 150 seats, nicely designed and good crowd. I'll be back.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Monroe County

For play, not pay, I went to see August Osage County last night at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West and have to admit I was a bit disappointed. This is a professional theater in the third week of a run and yet a couple of scenes were as sluggish as the first day off book. The actors stumbled over forgotten lines and sat around looking at each other. "Life is Long," a quote from T.S. Elliott, is the first line in the play, the implication being that life continues past the point of enjoyment, and unfortunately this production seemed to take that as stage direction. The play dawdles through three hours and 15 minutes, including two intermissions. I appreciated the artistic impact of the three-act format, and would not suggest altering that, but I think the Pulitzer Prize-winning play needs a little trimming. Don't get me wrong, it has powerful moments as well as funny ones.This is the story of an Oklahoma family full of secrets. It includes some spectacular portrayals, especially Joy Hawkins as the pill popping matriarch Violet. But there's a lot of slop around the edges that doesn't add to the characters or the impact, it just muddies everything. I will be interested to see how Actors Theatre in Grand Rapids deals with these challenges when it produces the show in May.