Best of City Paper: 2

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 12:01 am

Photograph of Steelers fan, Shadyside, during Super Bowl XLIII.

“Consider the Polaroid. Its apparatus is big and simple and plastic. It doesn’t look like a camera so much as a toy camera. The flash is automatic, no matter what a light-meter might read. The near-instant pictures — flapped in the air by impatient photographers — are glossy to the touch, nicely pre-framed in thick, white photo paper. But Polaroids are almost always alarming: They reveal a split-second that occurred only minutes earlier. They are a time-capsule designed for the near-future, a disarmingly accurate portrait of what just happened. The people and objects in the picture aren’t just familiar; they’re still here. Children wave their Polaroids in the air, pointing at the image, as if to exclaim: “See this? This is what we look like when we’re not paying attention!”

“My Dad calls them ‘shouting plays.’ In each, we meet a dysfunctional family, usually at home, and slowly they unveil their darkest secrets. These scandals could be about anything — affairs, stolen money, made-up children or missing dogs named Sheba. As tensions mount, voices rise, until everybody is screaming at each other. Of all possible settings for human drama to unfold, it’s amazing how many plays take place in ordinary living rooms. Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee — most of them never left the den.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream isn’t really about anything: It’s just a cute romantic comedy about Greek lovers lost in the forest, and the goofy gods who meddle with them. Yes, there are love potions and faerie dances, polite sex jokes and hilarious insults. The horrid actor Nick Bottom transforms into a mule and scores a date with Titania, Queen of the Faeries, but the chaste bestiality of Midsummer amounts to only harmless fun. Even for a Shakespearean comedy, Midsummer is practically plot-free.”

“Ah, the celebrity biography: As literature goes, they’re almost as prestigious as cookbooks and crossword puzzles.”


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