Friday, December 15, 2006

Preliminary Thoughts on An Unfinished Season by Ward Just

I've been reading a lot of crap and long-drawn-out epics lately, including at least one book that I enjoyed (though I wouldn't add "thoroughly"). I hope to find the time to describe them in more detail. But first I want to recognize a book that is making me happy to be a reader again. An Unfinished Season isn't something I'd normally pick up and read, because its characters are essentially wealthy people and I've never understood them. Set in post-war Chicago (that's World War II, for young readers -- post-war eras of wars we lose don't get such wistful nostalgia created around them), it's a tale about a family that is evolving. The mother is old money from the East, the father is new money, and the 19-year-old son is finding his place somewhere between the two. Enmeshed within Ward Just's well-crafted tale of a challenged marriage and a coming-of-age young man is the whole Cold War battle between capitalism and socialism; free thinking and free love vs. uncontemplative complacency and staid mores.

I'll have more to say about this book, but I'm not even 100 pages in yet. Regardless, I highly recommend it so far.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Evil Dead -- the Musical

I realize it's not a book, but I thought I'd add a quick review of an Off-Broadway play my wife and I recently enjoyed: Evil Dead, the Musical.

Better than the films (which isn't saying much), the play is actually a mixture of all three Evil Dead movies (well, primarily the first two with references to the third that perhaps only the cognoscenti would get).

Vulgar and campy to be sure, and a little sticky. The songs actually stick with you too, but how can anyone forget lyrics like "What the fuck was that!" in the song "What the F@%$"

Not a musical for children (or perhaps the perfect demograhic is an 11 year old boy) because the language and the occasional dry-humping, etc. is clearly R-rated. In the first act, the sister of the hero is the first person to become possessed by the evilness that has been unleashed by reading chants from the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead). She eventually causes all the rest of the characters to be possessed at one time or another.

There's an enjoyable dance of the dead scene called "Do the Necronomicon" with passing references not only to the Time Warp from Rocky Horror but also Fonzie from Happy Days.

Before the second act, the first three rows of seats (where we were sitting) get baggies with clear plastic ponchos. The fake blood really flows in the climatic killing spree toward the end. It's so bad that you can't help but laugh.

I probably wouldn't pay more than the special $26 ticket for the show, but I recommend getting the splatter zone to enjoy the whole experience.