Category Archives: Art

Another realer-than-real photo, this one in black and white

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Remember the photos of protests in the Ukraine that I noted seemed more intensely real than a photograph could be? (Burl said they probably looked like that because of the HDR process, and I think he’s probably right.)

This photo of LIndsey Graham meeting and greeting had a similar quality, I thought.

Graham aide Kevin Bishop — that’s him in the center of the photo — tweeted it out earlier this week with the comment, “Proud member of #TeamGraham! pic.twitter.com/x1RnKRb8MR.”

I wrote to him to say, “Nice picture. I like the lighting. Is it staged, or candid?”

“Candid,” he replied.

And I suppose it would be. I don’t think they would have struck those particular poses and expressions in a staged shot.

But there’s something about the light that makes it look staged, and professionally so, as though a movie director were involved. And the black-and-white adds to the effect.

It seems like a Dewar’s profile kind of print ad, or something like that.

See what I mean? Or is it just me?

A site to make your eyes sore: Oregon state capitol

A site to make eyes sore.

A site to make eyes sore.

I clicked on a headline offered by Slate, “Anti-Gay Segregation May Soon Be Coming to Oregon,” because I was curious what in the world that could be.

But I didn’t find out because I got totally sidetracked by the photograph of something like a cross between a mausoleum — one erected by someone who detested the deceased — and the ventilation tower of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (which we saw in the movie as the entrance to the secret headquarters of the “Men in Black”).

But the cutline said, “A 2007 rally for gay rights at the Oregon State Capital in Salem, Ore.” And I thought, That’s the actual state capitol of a state in the United States? Wow. They sure do go for some ugly out in Oregon.

Wikipedia describes it this way:

Chosen from 123 entries in a countrywide competition, the design of the new building deviated from the normal design of state capitol buildings. The design was labeled a combination of Egyptian simplicity and Greek refinement.[18] Overall it is Art Deco in style, and is one of only three state capitols in the United States constructed in that architectural style.[20]

Yeah, I’m glad there are no more than three in that style. I can barely take this one.

And I thought I kinda liked Art Deco, until now.

It’s like the architect thought, “I’ll start with something that vaguely suggests a dome, but make it cylindrical — only not smoothly cylindrical; I’ll add this ridge thingies. It’ll look kinda like the chamber of a revolver, or the edgy interior of an oil filter. And I’ll make the whole thing out of something that looks like cheap concrete.”

Man, I’m glad I don’t have to drive by that every day. I can think of a lot of bad things to say about that generation of SC lawmakers who built our present State House, but at least they had some taste. Or maybe, as a native South Carolinian, I’m just genetically predisposed toward neo-classical.

Ahhhh... It's just so soothing to look at this after contemplating that monstrosity out West.

Ahhhh… It’s just so soothing to look at this after contemplating that monstrosity out West.

A foggy outlook for the State House

fog

At the Capital City Club this morning, I happened to glance toward a window on the South Side, and saw nothing but gray.

I didn’t know whether it was high fog or low clouds, but I find it interesting to watch the outlines of the State House sort of come and go with the drift of the mist.

It seemed to me this could be a metaphor for the legislative session that was starting today, but I was stumped as to how that worked. It’s not like the future is murky. This session will be like all the others — a lot of huffing and puffing, but little attention paid to the state’s real needs.

Or not. Maybe it was an omen. Maybe this year, they’ll get some good stuff done. One can hope.

Oh, and in case you think I can’t ever take a decent picture from atop SC’s tallest building, I share with you this sunset from one evening last week. So there…

sunset

Lou Reed as a young man, as seen by Warhol


 

Reacting to this news

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today on Long Island. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May
.
With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. “One chord is fine,” he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. “Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”…

… I happened to remember the above video. It’s one of Andy Warhol’s “screen tests” that he did of various people who hung around The Factory back in the mid-’60s.

Basically, Warhol would turn a camera loaded with a short bit of film (about four minutes worth) onto one of his subjects, and just let that person be for that length of time.

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips put 13 of those clips to music, and I saw their show at Spoleto in Charleston a couple of years back.

Somehow, their lyrics seem appropriate to express just how old we’ve gotten since Reed sat there drinking that Coke.

For some of Reed’s own music, I include the clip below…

Uninformed observations about unrelated pieces of music

Of all the things I like to write about in spite of knowing nothing about them, music is one of my favorites.

Lately, I’ve been boring members of my family by making them listen to the opening of Leon Russell’s “I Put a Spell on You” from his eponymous album (the one before the Shelter People one). No, not a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover. Totally different song.

It has one of those “you are in the studio” false starts at the beginning. Actually, two or three of them. I’ve always thought those things were a little obnoxious, because they seem to play on fans thinking it’s cool to hear their rock ‘n’ roll heroes being informal, making mistakes, and it seems self-conscious, as in “We know y’all will enjoying feeling like you’re rubbing shoulders with wonderful us in the studio, so we’ll throw you a bone.”

Or maybe I read too much into it.

Anyway, I like this one because of what Leon does with it. There’s one false start. Then another. Then he, and a guitarist, play a sort of winding, downward pattern. And then suddenly, Leon does that thing where you run your finger down the keys in one long flow, from right to left (what’s that called?), and then the rollicking song actually begins.

It feels, to me, like the musical version of jump-starting a car with manual transmission by letting it roll down the hill and letting out the clutch with the gearshift in first. If you’ve ever done that (I’ve had to do it a couple of times with my Ford Ranger), see if listening to this kind of feels that way to you.

Or maybe I’m just crazy.

Here’s the other musical thing I wanted to bring up. This is probably a question for Phillip Bush, like when I asked why awesome songs such as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” are so awesome. What musical tricks make the endorphins flow?

I’m thinking that about the theme song to “Orange is the New Black,” which we’ve touched on here previously.

The magic seems to occur in two places. One is when Regina Spektor gets to the line, “And you’ve… got… ti-i-IME!” What is she doing there? It’s unusual, and very appealing. The other cool part is the bridge (I think), where she shifts gears and goes:

Think of all the roads.
Think of all their crossings…

Anyway, it’s very appealing, whatever she’s doing. I wish I could put it into words. But if I could, I guess we wouldn’t need music, which would be a shame…

‘This is why art is important!!!’

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Consider this picture a gentle protest against our governor again putting the state Arts Commission in the crosshairs.

Here, of course, is the problem with her repeated efforts to do this agency in: It’s not, near as I can tell (and maybe I’ve just missed the stories explaining this), because she thinks there is a better, more efficient way to accomplish the agency’s mission.

It’s because — and please, I’d love to be shown how I’m off-base on this — she wants to be seen by her base as attacking government-funded arts, period. Which I know some of my readers will applaud. Others will not. (Doug will likely argue that we shouldn’t fund the arts when roads, prisons, etc., go unfunded. I will reply that we can adequately fund all those things and give the arts a boost as well. Just because we haven’t doesn’t mean that we can’t.)

My headline, by the way, was the text that accompanied the above photo, which I saw when my wife shared it on Facebook. For a split-second, I thought it might be one of my granddaughters, because that’s just the sort of thing they would do. But the hair was wrong.

The picture, and the message, seem to have originated with Marymount Manhattan College’s Department of Theatre Arts.

Which is Rothko, and which is ADCO?

Three years ago, the staff of ADCO had our annual Christmas party at Hobby Lobby. After refreshments, each us was given a canvas and paints, and challenged to create something for the walls of our offices.

We were encouraged to paint in the style of Mark Rothko, and most of us cooperated. We were generally pleased with the results, which you can still see today adorning the walls of 1220 Pickens St.

Fast-forward to this year…

Last Thursday, our office Christmas party consisted of lunch at Hampton Street Vineyard, followed by a tour of the Rothko exhibit at Columbia Museum of Art.

Now, here’s a test of your artistic perspicacity: Above and below are images of two paintings. Can you tell which is by ADCO, and which is by Rothko himself?

No cheating! To check yourself, you may look it up on Google Images after you share your answer. You’re all on the honor system, and sure, you are all honorable men. And women.

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‘Lincoln’ is one of those rare films you really must see

The nitty-gritty of greatness.

Over the weekend, I experienced the polar opposites of cinematic achievement: First, AT&T was having a free weekend for premium channels, and while I recorded a number of films I expect to enjoy, one of those channels also showed David Lynch’s execrable “Dune.” I had not watched it since that bitterly disappointing night in 1984 in a Jackson, TN, theater when it first came out. Those few minutes I watched over the weekend convinced me that it wasn’t just that my expectations had been so high at the time. This actually was the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life. Every line of dialogue, every visual touch, every gratuitous plot change from the book (“weirding modules”? Are you kidding me?), was so bad it had to be as intentional as those revolting pustules the make-up people put all over the Baron Harkonnen’s face (something else that wasn’t in the book). Every aspect of it was horrible.

So it was very nice, Sunday evening, to wipe that away by seeing one of the finest new motion pictures I’ve seen in years: “Lincoln.”

Everyone should see this. Every American should, anyway, because it tells so much about who we are and what led to our being what we are. And it tells us something I think we’ve forgotten, which is that great things can be accomplished through our system of representative democracy, even when the barriers and stakes are far greater than anything we face in Washington today.

I could go on and on about the way Daniel Day Lewis inhabits Abraham Lincoln and eerily embodies everything I’ve read about him, or how Spielberg has honed his craft to the very limits of film’s ability to tell a coherent story, while simultaneously making you feel like you’re looking through a time portal at the actual events.

But I’ll just zero in on one thing that contributed to making it so good: The political realism. Most specifically, the way the film not only avoids the temptation to make everything appear to be morally black or white, but rubs your nose in the messiness of real decisions made in a real world.

The main narrative has to do with Lincoln, after his second inauguration, pulling out all the stops to get the House to pass the 13th Amendment, which made slavery unconstitutional. To get the two-thirds, he needs at least 20 more votes even if every Republican supports the measure. This means not only peeling off some Democrats, each defection like pulling teeth out of a dragon, but somehow keeping the peace among the radicals (such as Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones) and conservatives (such as Preston Blair, played by Hal Holbrook) in his own party.

Every stratagem is used, starting with the hiring of some sleazy political operatives (I was amazed to realize after I saw the film that that was James Spader playing lobbyist W.N. Bilbo) to employ every trick they can come up with, starting with raw political patronage and moving on from there. (A key part of the strategy involved offering jobs in the second Lincoln administration to lame-duck members of the other party who had just lost their bids for re-election, but not left office yet.) The Lincoln team even stoops to a half-truth — told by Honest Abe himself — at a critical moment to keep the coalition from blowing up.

It’s very, very messy. No plaster saints here, and feet of clay all over the place. Yet through it all, the ultimate nobility of what is being done, in spite of all the odds, shines through irresistibly. We see how politics, with all its warts, can accomplish magnificent things. At a moment when Democrats and Republicans can’t even seem to do a simple thing like keep from going over a “fiscal cliff” with their hands around each others’ throats, we see how politicians (and they evince all of the worst things we think of when we use that term) can accomplish something great, even when (or perhaps, because?) the stakes are so much greater.

This film not only doesn’t flinch at moral complexity; it wallows in it, to wonderful effect. An excellent example is the scene in which Lincoln muses aloud before his team about all the convoluted, mutually contradictory, logical and constitutional boxes he put himself and the nation in when he decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. And the tension builds as we come to fully understand why the Amendment — which would fulfill the dream of freedom that the Proclamation could not — must be passed NOW, before the war ended. And we share Lincoln’s intense, focused urgency.

No significant aspect of Lincoln’s public character is missing from this portrait, including the delight that both he and his audiences took in his jokes. (But not all the people all of the time — Secretary of War Edwin Stanton storms out rather than listen to a funny story at a tense moment.) And at the end, after all the deal-making and maneuvering and fiddling and pushing and pulling and playing to venality and petty egos — one is left believing that Abraham Lincoln was a greater man than any marble statue could ever convey. I don’t know how to explain to you how the film achieves that; it just does.

I suppose there will be some people who just don’t get it — black-and-white, concrete thinkers who will be disturbed at the honest portayal of the messiness of politics as it was practiced in 1865. The neo-Confederates who think the Lincoln would originally have kept slavery if he could preserve the Union is some sort of great “gotcha” won’t get it. Nor will those like the local political activist who, a few days ago, said on Facebook that “Lincoln was not a good man” because his attitudes about racial equality weren’t a perfect match for those of a 21st-century “progressive.”

But seeing “Lincoln” may be among the best chances they’ll ever have to see that reality is broader, and often more inspiring, than their narrow perspectives on it.

No-holds-barred 19th-century lobbying in all its grubby glory.

Pride and Prejudice and Scandal

The imprudent Lydia Bennet (actress Sirena Dib) hanging with some of the young officers from the regiment...

Having appeared so recently in the SC Shakespeare Company’s production of “Pride and Prejudice,” I particularly enjoyed the ending of Maureen Dowd’s column about the Petraeus scandal:

The military might want to have its future stars read Jane Austen as well as Grant and Rommel. “Pride and Prejudice” is full of warnings about the dangers of young ladies with exuberant, flirtatious, “unguarded and imprudent” manners visiting military regiments and preening in “all the glories of the camp.”

Such folly and vanity, the ever wise Elizabeth Bennet cautioned, can lead to censure and disgrace.

The sound of authenticity

I was really impressed to read about these details in Steven  Spielberg’s “Lincoln:”

That pure, unadulterated tick is the sound of an original watch that Lincoln carried.

“I heard the actual pocket watch existed,” Spielberg said in an interview with The Post, “and I wanted to know whether they’d let us wind it and record it. I didn’t know if they would, and they did. I thought that was very important. So, every time you hear that little ticking in the story, that’s Abraham Lincoln’s actual pocket watch.”

Spielberg dispatched a team to find other sounds that surrounded Lincoln in his final days. They collected the ring of the bell at the church Lincoln attended, the squeak of latches at the White House, the snatch of Lincoln’s carriage door, the weight of boots as a weary Lincoln walked through the White House, the creak of a seat from which he rose…

Wow. Very cool.

Reminds me of a story I heard about “Mad Men.” The cousin or nephew or something of one of my wife’s best friends had a bit part in the opening episode of last season. Remember when some young white jerks from a rival agency were dropping bags full of water on civil rights demonstrators down on the street? He was one of the young white jerks. Anyway, the interesting thing was the way they impressed upon him that he must not, under any circumstances, spill the water on any of the props in the office set. Because everything, down to the paper clips, was authentic, real like-new items from the mid-60s.

But these sound details seem to go beyond that. Too bad I’m losing my hearing.

Looking forward to seeing “Lincoln,” but I want to finish reading Team of Rivals first. I’m only a couple of hundred pages into it so far…

Three more nights, counting tonight

Schoolteacher and former state superintendent candidate Kelly Payne shot the picture above last night, from the moment in scene 2 when I announce, “May I present our new neighbors at Netherfield: Mr. Charles Bingley (top), Miss Caroline Bingley, and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy…”

Though I’ve shot a lot of pictures of the production myself, is actually the first picture I’ve seen with me in it other than the dance one in which I am tiny and blurred. Seeing this, I’m thinking I might need to make the smile bigger. Sir William is an ebullient and convivial fellow.

If you’d like a better view of the whole thing, come on out. We’re performing in the amphitheater at Finlay Park at 7:30 tonight, Friday night and Saturday night, and then that’s it.

And it’s free.

What those poshos were on about




In case you haven’t had enough of “Gangnam Style,” here the special version for adolescent members of the British ruling class.

The Guardian, that great leveler, has kindly offered a translation:

Tardy book, beaks, chambers: like all the best rap songs, the Etonian version of Gangnam Style is almost entirely unintelligible. Fortunately,Eton College publishes a glossary to its arcane lingo on its website, and so with reference to this great resource, and with a bit of help from those in the know, we can at last reveal what on earth those poshos were on about…

Follow the link for the glossary.

I find myself envious of these lads. Not for their priceless prep school education, but because they effortlessly speak that way, while I have to consciously work at it every night.

Which is my setup for saying, come see “Pride and Prejudice” tonight at Finlay Park at 7:30. It will show at the same time tomorrow night, and also next Wednesday through Saturday. But allow me to point out that it appears the weather will be perfect tonight.

Below is a picture someone took (I grabbed it from Facebook) of me and the gang doing a dance called “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot.” Really. That’s what it’s called. Here you can see them doing it in the BBC series, the time that Darcy (the Colin Firth Darcy) and Elizabeth first dance. They do it a lot more slowly than we do. Amazingly, they have a conversation during it. Bet they couldn’t do that if they were dancing as fast as we do.

That’s me on the far end of the second row of dancers. Admittedly, the picture’s sort of blurry. If you want to see it better, come see the show.

Opening tomorrow night at Finlay Park

This morning, ten days after I trimmed my beard, one of the regulars I see at breakfast pretty much every week day suddenly noticed and asked, across the room, what in the world that was I had on my face.

Once again, The Chops provided me with an excuse to invite someone else to come see SC Shakespeare Company’s production of “Pride and Prejudice.”

It opens tomorrow night — that’s Wednesday night — at Finlay Park, at 7:30.

Last night (see picture above, at dusk, shortly before we ran the show), was our first time testing the lights and using the full set that we didn’t have at Saluda Shoals last week — winding staircases to descend, etc. (Which is a bit of an adventure when you’re turned delivering a line to another character, and bright lights are in your eyes, and you’re having inner-ear problems.) Tonight we’ll test sound for the first time in this venue.

And tomorrow we open. Hope to see you there.

What does a ‘like’ mean, as we slouch toward post-verbalism (if that’s what we’re doing)?

The top of my main Pinterest page.

Some years ago — it could have been 20 — I read an article by Umberto Eco that seems appropriate to this topic. I don’t remember all the particulars of the piece, or even in which magazine it appeared. But I seem to recall that the semiotician and novelist set forth the notion that we might be moving, beyond a post-literate society, to becoming post-verbal, returning to means of communication common in medieval days when, say, a pub called the Rose and Crown would be identified by a hanging sign showing pictures of those things, rather than words.

The premise would seem excessively alarmist, or at least premature, since the decades since I read that have seen an explosion of the written word on the Web. More people are writing, and reading, a greater profusion of words than at any time in the history of this planet.

But sometimes, we are faced with images alone, and words fail us. On friends’ Facebook pages, I’m occasionally confronted with images that just beg for accompanying text to explain them, but nary a word is offered.

And recently, I found myself in a world that brought the Eco piece back powerfully.

I was going to (and eventually did) write a light item for the ADCO blog about the addictiveness of Pinterest, which has hooked a couple of my co-workers. The spark was a study indicating that 20 percent of women who are online were into the site.

At first, I supposed that only women could possibly get into it, for as I perused the boards created by my female co-workers, I was overwhelmed by all the images of food and housewares and decorating ideas. As I said in that ADCO blog post, those screens looked like “the result of Edward Scissorhands going to town on a 10-foot-high stack of old copies of Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living.”

But as I went through the little signup ritual for creating my own account, I saw how quickly the screen would morph into something that more interested me.

Here’s what happens: You sign in to the site. You are offered a screen full of slightly-bigger-than-thumbnail images. You are asked to “like” the ones that appeal to you. What you “like” affects what you see as you continue to scroll down. It’s rather fascinating to watch as the algorithm does its work. For a time, for a long time, the wave of images coming at you seems never-ending. The scroll bar on the right will seem to be approaching the bottom, then suddenly it will glide back up toward the middle as a new load of images arrives.

I saw a lot of images that interested me a great deal, but I couldn’t decide whether to “like” them or not. I mean, what does it say if you click “like” on a picture of a B-26 going down in flames? I don’t like that it’s going down, with American airmen dying in it. But I do want the program to know that I find images of WWII warplanes interesting.

Or what about a picture of Michael Caine as spy Harry Palmer? Will it think I like the raincoat, or “The Ipcress File?” This is a place where words would help.

And what does it mean when I “like” a picture of Marilyn Monroe? I mean, have you ever seen a picture of her you didn’t like, on some level or other? I haven’t. And yet, after I liked one or two of them, they kept coming in a profusion that suggested that Pinterest thought I had some kind of Elton-John-like celebrity fetish centered on her. I continued to “like” them, because that was my honest and uncomplicated answer. But I didn’t want it to offer me nothing but movie-star pictures going forward.

Just because I like Sean Connery doesn’t mean I want to see pictures of Rock Hudson (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And my liking a picture of Natalie Wood doesn’t mean I want to see Robert Wagner. And what’s with these Jody Foster pictures you keep throwing at me? I haven’t liked a single one, and they keep coming. Who do you think I am, John Hinckley? And just because I click on an interesting diagram of old military headgear doesn’t mean I want to look at one Confederate kepi after another!

So here’s where you end up, or where I ended up anyway: Pinterest now “knows” me well enough that one out of 10 or 12 things it throws at me will be mildly interesting. Which I guess is an achievement for a computer program.

But the language of social media — “like” and “friend” and other terms that so often don’t exactly describe the relationship in a given case — still needs work. Let’s not give up on words just yet.

Below are some of the pictures I “liked” as they were thrown at me. But really: What does it mean to “like” a picture of Bonnie and Clyde?

Pride and Prejudice and Skeeters

Monday was our first night with lights. In this scene (still sans costume), the Bennets get to know Mr. Collins better than they'd like to.

Just to remind y’all that one reason I’m not blogging as much as usual these days is because of rehearsals for “Pride and Prejudice,” seven days a week.

Over the weekend, we further prepared our state of mind with Karen Eterovich’s (mostly) one-woman Jane Austen show at Drayton Hall. Just days before those performances, I was asked to play a small supporting role in that. Master Thespian that I am, I quickly mastered my three lines, which were as follows:

  1. “No.”
  2. “Yes.”
  3. “YES!”

Moving on from that triumph… Sunday night, we moved to Saluda Shoals park, where we open Friday night, which I believe is starting to freak everybody out just a bit.

Sunday night, we experienced rain. We moved inside to a very small room, and did a hurried run-through, which directors Linda Khoury and Paula Peterson said were our best performance yet. It was certainly… intimate. In a dance scene, one of the actresses and I ran into each other via our posteriors. It occurred to me that this was unexplored cultural ground: I had just done “the Bump” with Miss Jane Bennet. Lydia I could see, but Jane?

Then last night, there was a challenge of outdoor theater I had never anticipated, as we stood at the edge of woods damp from the rain, waiting to go on: Mosquitoes. As I waved and slapped at them, I took solace from Marty Feldman’s immortal words: “Could be worse. Could be raining…”

Three more nights…

At the edge of the woods, waiting to go on: Mr. Darcy (Gene Aimone) and my daughter, who plays Lady Lucas.

Randy Newman swings, misses with latest song

When I saw that Randy Newman had written a song titled “I’m Dreaming (of a White President),” I thought, this is going to be good.

When I read on Twitter that it was “Not a radio hit,” I expected the kind of dead-on, slashing, too-sharp-for-prime-time brilliance that he displayed in “Rednecks,” which we’ll never hear on the radio if we live a thousand years (OK, it’s theoretically possible that we’d hear it — after an hour’s worth of explanation, apology and disclaimer). Oh, and a warning, in case you don’t know that song and innocently follow the link — it uses “N” word eight times. Among other things.

But no. This effort also tries to mine America’s race complexes for profundity, but fails utterly. The lyrics are entirely predictable and trite, the music utterly unappealing.

Either Randy Newman’s lost it — which would mean the loss of a national treasure — or he was just trying too hard on this one.

But since I spent the time listening to it, I pass it on.

I, Sir William Lucas, hereby invite every one of you to the ball we’ll be hosting next month

Have you seen any of the series AMC has been rerunning lately, “Into the West”? I watched some of the first episode. It had a lot of mountain men in it. I thought, “What a fine bunch of distinguished-looking gentlemen…”

Lately whenever we have a meeting with an ADCO client, one of my colleagues will at some point in the meeting say something like, “In case you’re wondering why Brad is looking like this…”

To put it one more way: Lately I have not been mistaken for Don Draper.

Here’s the story:  I have a role in the South Carolina Shakespeare Company’s production of “Pride and Prejudice,” which opens at Saluda Shoals Park. And yes, we all know that the Bard did not write that one. But I suppose the company’s repertoire is broader than its name suggests.

Our director, Linda Khoury, has asked us not to get our hair cut from here on — mine was already pretty shaggy by the time she said that. I had also stopped shaving at that point. But English gentlemen did not wear beards during the Regency Period, you will no doubt say. You are right. But I thought it would look a little less crazy and anachronistic if I grew the whole thing out, and then cut it back to muttonchops at the last minute.

I have a fairly small part in the production, which suits my comfort level at this point in my acting career. It’s been more than a quarter century since I have trod the boards for anything more than a cameo, so it’s nice to know I don’t have more than about five lines.

I’m playing Sir William Lucas (who was played by this guy in the definitive 1995 BBC series). If you know the story, you know Sir William and Lady Lucas are sort of the local aristocracy in the environs of Meryton in Hertfordshire (and their daughter, Charlotte, is Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s particular friend). My character was in trade before his elevation to the knighthood, which I’ll thank you not to mention. Sir William’s function in the play is to throw the ball that gets the principal characters together, introduce them, and try with mixed success to get them to dance and have a good time. Sir William is sort of an early 19th-century party animal, and regularly gives two balls a season.

In being the hearty, jovial, back-slapping good-time Charlie, I’m playing against type, which I hope everyone will take into account in assessing my performance. (The character in the play whose personality is most like mine is Mr. Darcy, and I’m just a year or two too old for that.)

I got involved in this because my daughter and granddaughter are in it. They are portraying Lady Lucas and Miss Kitty Bennet, respectively. We’re all having fun so far.

Here’s the info on the performances:

Columbia SC—The role of The Bard will be temporarily played by the world’s most famous femaleBritish literary icon, as The South Carolina Shakespeare Company (SCSC) presents a celebration of all things Jane Austen to kick off its 2012-2013 season.  With a fast-paced and engaging adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the debut of Cheer from Chawton, an internationally-acclaimed one woman Jane Austen tribute show, the Austen performances usher in SCSC’s 20th anniversary season featuring an extended calendar of events that include a winter production of Paul Rudnick’s contemporary comedy I Hate Hamlet and Carlo Goldoni’s classic comedy A Servant of Two Masters.

Entertaining thousands of South Carolina audiences with no-cost cultural enrichment since 1992, SCSC has selected Jon Jory’s staged adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous work, Pride and Prejudice, as its season opener. A tale of love and values in class-conscious England of the late 18th century, Pride and Prejudice is a witty romance featuring the five Bennet sisters – including strong-willed Elizabeth and young Lydia – young women who have been raised by their mother with one purpose in life: finding a husband.

“With the debut of our 20th season, we are presenting a novel experience for our loyal audience but one that is also in keeping with our classical programming,” said Linda Khoury, founding director of the SCSC. “Jane Austen is an author who shares Shakespeare’s cultural relevance and she is universally praised for her keen observations and strong critiques of classicism and economic conditions of the 1700s. The wit, wry commentary and romantic travails of her characters are contagious for both Austen-ites and new fans alike.”

With such immensely popular material that has enjoyed high-profile film and miniseries treatments, Khoury has assembled a top-notch cast that is challenged with surpassing any existing impressions people may have of this famous story.  Pride and Prejudice will feature Scott Blanks, Gene Aimone, Katie Mixon, Jessica Mitchell, Tracy Steele, Marcus Thomas, Sara Blanks, and Malie Heider.

Pride and Prejudice will be performed October 5—7 at Saluda Shoals Park at 7:30 pm and October 17—20 and October 24—27 at the Finlay Park Amphitheatre beginning nightly at 7:30 pm.

As audiences prepare to encounter Austen’s memorably rich characters, they will also have the chance meet the author herself, as Cheer from Chawton will be presented the weekend prior to the Pride and Prejudice opening. In a creative collaboration with the University of South Carolina’s School of Theatre and Dance, Cheer from Chawton is an internationally acclaimed one woman “Jane Austen experience” conceived, written and performed by professional actor and USC MFA graduate Karen Eterovich. Performed throughout the United States and UK, Cheer from Chawtonoffers an intimate glimpse into Austen’s life, including her pointed observations on family, friends, suitors, and society, as well as her own hilarious early efforts as an author. The play will be performed Friday and Saturday, September 28 & 29, 2012, 8 pm at Drayton Hall on the USC campus.

And then, four years later, drive ‘Forward.’

I dropped by Donehue Direct this morning and saw Wesley and Joel Sawyer and the gang in their expanded digs in the ancient walkup on Main Street.

And the thing that impressed me most was the sticker I saw, which you can see above, on a door. Wesley said he picked it up at a head shop or some such during his travels.

It looks like it’s been around awhile, but this was the first time I had seen, and enjoyed, it. Here’s what I was able to find out about it:

This very clever poster is the work of graphic artist Tim Doyle and obviously parodies the previously omnipresent “Change” poster of now-President Obama. It was printed as a limited edition 18×24 inch poster which Transformer fiends snapped up for $30 without hesitation. There was even glow in the dark version which disappeared just as quickly. If you’re a similarly afflicted Transformers nut, keep your eyes on Nakitomi, where a reprint may happen if demand is heavy enough. Freaks.

Here’s the direct link for a 16X20 poster version if you want to shell out $25. The one I saw on the door was more like 4X5.

Cool picture of the day

The NYT's cutline, verbatim: "Colleen Cruze, outfitted for work at the Cruze Dairy Farm in Tennessee. Her father has long championed real buttermilk."

One of the most frustrating things about blogging from outside the MSM is that I no longer have access to relevant, real-time news photography. There are free services out there, but they don’t have real news photos. And my one effort to inquire about regaining some sort of access to AP photos told me that it was, as I suspected, cost-prohibitive.

But occasionally, I go ahead and use a proprietary photo, and the only excuse I have to offer to the rights holders is that I am using the art to call attention to their content, and to ask my readers to go there. Which has to be to that entity’s advantage, right?

Well, here’s my favorite photo that I saw today and wished I had legitimate access to. It goes with this story over at the NYT site, a feature about some of the few dairies that specialize in producing real, sure-enough buttermilk.

The thing that grabbed me about this picture wasn’t the topic. Buttermilk, like all dairy products, is poison to me. Still, the photo radiates wholesomeness, and I don’t think that’s because of all the milk industry propaganda.

The first thing that grabbed me was that the young woman in the picture reminded me of the actress (Claire van der Boom) who appeared as Robert Leckie’s Greek-Australian love interest in “The Pacific.” And then I realized why that was — the picture was just so timeless. It could have been taken in the 1940s, or 70 years either way, for that matter. And it could have been taken in any of a thousand places on this globe. It seemed utterly divorced from space or time. This is probably a deliberate effect adopted by Colleen Cruze (the woman in the picture) to project the timelessness of the dairy’s product. I don’t know.

I just thought it was a cool picture. Go read the story, if you agree, or even if you don’t. And if The New York Times tells me to take it down, I will. But hey, I’m trying to help, not hurt…