Support Your Local Arts

This past weekend I went and saw a community theater production for the first time in years. The play was Picnic, by William Inge, and the venue was the Huntington Beach Playhouse. This play has a special place in my heart because one of the first scene studies I ever did was from this play (I was Alan, and my best friend was Hal).

I had quite a nice time. The production did suffer from many of the problems that community productions often do, but it was still fun to see. It reminded me of the days when I was more involved with the theater. I made a lot of friends in my high school theater department. I met my future wife in one of those high school productions. And in college some of my fondest memories involve acting in or directing plays.

It was nice to see that one of the actors was a high school student. Participation in the arts can be just as important in building a child's identity as sports or other extracurriculars. Theater helped me become more outgoing and shaped many of my experiences later in life. It remains a strong part of who I am, even though I don't have much time these days to be involved in shows.

And community arts aren't just for the artists. There is always plenty of room, and need, for volunteers to help bring off any community arts program, whether it be theater, music, or visual arts. So you're not a musician? Maybe your local choir needs help working their sound system. Not good with electronics? Maybe you could help paint sets for your community theater. No technical skills? Help raise funds for an art show or work the box office at a performance. Trust me, there's a way you can help.

But maybe you just don't have the time to commit your weekends to volunteer work. I bet you still have time to go see a show. And you're probably bored with television anyway! Not a big fan of the arts? You might be surprised. So you don't get Picasso. Go check out the photography expo at your local junior college. Or maybe you don't like classical music. Why not try the Latin music festival? Trust me, there's something for everyone. And not only can you alleviate your boredom and take in a little culture, but by buying that ticket you are helping support a vital part of your community.

Whether you're an artist, a volunteer, or even a patron, there's a place in your local arts for you. Well, what are you waiting for?

Secondhand Lions

What a wonderful story. Of course, I'm a sucker for coming-of-age tales, but this one was really something. Haley Joel Osment seems like he may just be able to pull off the transition from child star to respectable adult actor; he was certainly good in this movie. Michael Caine and especially Robert Duvall gave excellent, touching performances. The interaction between reality and fable was interesting, and the story overall was heartwarming. I loved it.

Viewed: 9/19/2003 | Released: 9/4/2003 | Score: A

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Anything Else

I have to stop being fooled by marketing. A Woody Allen film is going to be a Woody Allen film. To be honest, the acting was good, the script was tight, the dialogue was engaging, and the characters were intriguing. So why only one star? Because, at root, I'm just not into Woody Allen. Sure, he's done a couple of movies I liked, but by and large I find the man pathetic and often despicable. Your mileage may vary, though, so if you like Woody Allen movies, see this one.

Viewed: 9/18/2003 | Released: 9/18/2003 | Score: D

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Matchstick Men

I think that I'm really coming around to Nicolas Cage. I didn't think much of him in his earlier films (not to say I particularly disliked him; I didn't think much of him at all) but movies like Family Man, Adaptation, and this one are making me think he is a seriously talented actor. Alison Lohman also gave a very honest performance; I'm curious to see where her career takes her. The ending left me feeling a little sad, but it was the right ending. The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether Cage's performance was a particularly accurate portrayal of such extreme neurosis.

Viewed: 9/17/2003 | Released: 9/11/2003 | Score: B

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Hart's Hope

By Orson Scott Card

This was my fourth attempt at reading this book, and I finally succeeded. What the heck was wrong with me those other three times? I tell you, it takes a really good writer to tell you everything that will happen before it happens and still keep you emotionally involved in the story. I read almost the entire book in a single day.

Started: 9/1/2003 | Finished: 9/6/2003

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Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star

It was a Friday night, I had nothing to do, and I had already seen every movie that I wanted to see. So I found myself watching Dickie Roberts. And you know what? It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I thought many of the cameos were hilarious, and David Spade actually managed to pull off a couple of genuinely touching moments. Stick around during the credits for the music video. It's totally worth it.

Viewed: 9/4/2003 | Released: 9/2/2003 | Score: C

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Copyright's Highway

By Paul Goldstein

It took me a while to finish this book, but only because there was so much to think about. Goldstein provides a good look at the history of copyright, both in America and abroad. In today's world of the Internet, file-sharing, digital satellite and cable systems, and video-on-demand, it is a highly apropos subject. Some of Goldstein's biases come out in the book (and, writing in 1994, he was a bit optimistic about how worldwide networks would develop), but it is still highly informative. But what I found even more interesting was the way in which it examined the workings and interworkings of Congress and the Supreme Court. It's not a difficult read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

Started: 8/2/2003 | Finished: 8/31/2003

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Swimming Pool

I can't decide if this movie was brilliant or awful. You see, there are two ways that a director can play with an audience. Some directors (David Lynch, for example) like to beat into you how much smarter and more creative they are than you, the audience. When you leave their films with no idea what you just saw, they are laughing at you because you're too stupid or bourgeois to understand their art. On the other hand, some movies are an invitation to figure them out, a challenge to raise your level of consciousness. I can't decide which this is. The performances were good. A lot of people wouldn't like this movie for it's extremely slow pace, though. The more or less constant nudity was certainly titillating, but it made me kind of uncomfortable, and I didn't understand the need for it. I think this is the type of movie I'll need to see again before I can completely make up my mind about it.

Viewed: 8/31/2003 | Released: 7/1/2003 | Score: C

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