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This Day in My History


Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself - it is the occurring which is difficult.

~ Stephen Leacock

Yesterday's Entries

2000: Netstock Day 2
 I Did It May Way
2002:  Taboos
2003:  Worth 1,000 Words


A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson


A Simple Plan

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I'm a herding dog.  Somebody has to round up the dust bunnies that collect behind the furniture.



5 August 2004

As I’ve reported here, I’ve been doing a lot of reviewing lately. And I have several more shows all crunched together into this brief summer theatre season.

The Davis Enterprise does not publish on Saturday, so if I see a show on Friday I usually have until Monday to write my review. Those are lovely, luxurious times when I can come home from a show and just go to bed and worry about the review in the morning.

But at least a third of the time, the review is due first thing the next morning, which means that I come home from the show and write the review before going to bed, often not getting to bed until 1 or 2 in the morning.

Despite having done this now for several years, I still am never quite comfortable with putting together a review. When I read them later, I’m happy with what I wrote, but I struggle a lot with saying it right.

If it’s a musical with which I’m familiar, it’s a bit easier, but if it’s a premiere of something, or if it’s a straight play with heavy undertones, it takes quite a long time.

I’m never sure I’m saying it quite right, never sure if I’ve picked up on the right nuances, never sure if I’ve understood what the playwright was trying to say.

It’s gotten easier over the years, but I still agonize over what I’m going to write.

I believe I’ve explained before, how the writing process involves pacing, eating, hand wringing and more pacing. It usually involves some computer solitaire, checking e-mail and other diversionary tactics to stall having to actually put those first words to screen.

When it’s finished, it’s generally taken me about 1-2 hours to write. I imagine "real" reviewers coming home, sitting down and dashing something off in half an hour, something filled with wise observations and intelligent interpretations.

Still, people have said that they like what I’ve written. I don’t feel like I’m reviewing a show so much as I am writing a journal entry about what it’s been like to see this particular production.

But sometimes it becomes a piece of cake. For example, I can dash off a review of The Music Man in nothing flat, since I’ve seen it so often.

When it’s a production of Gilbert & Sullivan, I’m home free. Now we’re talking my turf.

Last night we attended Music Circus’ production of The Pirates of Penzance, the Joseph Papp version which premiered on Broadway in 1980 and which brought the 1879 chestnut up to date, changed orchestrations to take advantage of the invention of the synthesizer, took a few liberties with the dialog and added a couple of songs from other operettas, but essentially kept the basic Gilbert & Sullivan piece as it was originally written--just with a more modern look.

(See, I’m reviewing it already)

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Pirates in my life--both the original version, and the Papp version--but there was none of the reviewer angst when I sat down at the computer last night.

I knew what I liked. I knew what I didn’t. I knew who had goofed, and why. I knew what hadn’t worked for me.

It was as refreshing as 6 hours at the seaside to sit down, fully confident that I could really review this production without any of the usual tortures of the damned.

I needed to check the Internet for dates about the original Papp production but other than that, the words fairly flowed out of my fingers and into the computer. The review was written in 30 minutes and I was in bed before midnight.

I’d love to reach a point where all reviews came that effortlessly, but until that time, I’ll be happy that occasionally I get lucky and get to write something that I really know about.

Website Recommendations

The two faces of Bush --
one funny
one decidedly not funny.


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Sheila's buddies:  Raven, Kaitan, Bella


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