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Cue Sheet – January 2009

NO SHOW

Once again, it's Thursday and I'm not linking to my stuff in the Tucson Weekly. But this time it's because I've got no "stuff" there. I was sick last weekend, and deputized my friend Gene Armstrong to cover two plays for me. Gene was one of the first two people (the other was Ed Severson) to come over and say "hello" and "welcome" when I was introduced as a new contributor to the Arizona Daily Star back in late 1988. Since then, Gene and I have both moved on to better things, including the Weekly. There, he most often writes for the Music section, but you can see his work as a theater critic here.

tucson-arts,

THE LUMPENPROLETARIAT BEGS THE QUESTION

Misused terms seem to come in little epidemics. This week, in the course of filling in again as editor of the Tucson Weekly, I’ve seen three writers get “begs the question” wrong, and online I’ve seen two highly questionable uses of “lumpen.” (At least I was recently pleasantly surprised to hear someone say “immensity” instead of misappropriating, as is common, “enormity.”)

“Beg the question,” according to a site devoted exclusively to setting the matter straight,

is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself. When one begs the question, the initial assumption of a statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place. A simple example would be "I think he is unattractive because he is ugly." The adjective "ugly" does not explain why the subject is "unattractive"—they virtually amount to the same subjective meaning, and the proof is merely a restatement of the premise. The sentence has begged the question.

What people who misuse “begs the question” really mean is “raises the question.”

“Lumpen” tends to be misused by fairly erudite writers who ought to know better than to employ odd terms without looking them up. They seem to associate the word, perhaps, with “lumpy,” at least in a metaphorical way, but it’s a short form of “lumpenproletariat,” which one dictionary defines first as “Of or relating to dispossessed, often displaced people who have been cut off from the socioeconomic class with which they would ordinarily be identified.” By extension, and especially as critic Robert Hughes loves to use it, “lumpen” means “vulgar,” “common,” “plebeian.”

Class dismissed.

quodlibet,

CELLO IMPRESSIONIST

A video spoof by cellist Stjepan Hauser of the performance styles of many a cellist more famous than he is making the rounds of the Internet, and deservedly so—it’s hilarious. Embedding is forbidden, so you’ll have to go to YouTube and see it there.

Classical Music,

FINGER-SYNCHING CONFIRMED

This is old news now, but my “live” supposition that the Inaugural music was canned was independently confirmed.

Classical Music,

I HAVE RETURNED

Staying home sick in bed gets boring fast, so I’m actually glad to be back at work. There’s some catch-up blogging to be done, though, starting with links to my contributions to last week’s Tucson Weekly. First, a review of Arizona Theatre Company’s latest production:

Part of Lorraine Hansberry's _A Raisin in the Sun_ hinges on whether a black family in 1950s Chicago will be able to move up into a white neighborhood. Can such a play matter to us in 2009? Consider: My westside Tucson neighborhood neatly reflects the ethnic demographics of the city overall, mostly Anglo and Hispanic, but with proportionate representations of black and Asian families, too; it's happily and naturally integrated. Another point: This week, an African-American family took residence at America's most exclusive address, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. So times have changed, redlining _A Raisin in the Sun_ out of the repertory, right? Not so fast. Setting aside the question of integration and race relations, the play is also about something more fundamental: How does a family set priorities for its own advancement? And can people's dreams and passions blind them to certain realities?

The complete review is here, from which you can move along to my less enthusiastic evaluation of a restaurant:

Once it opened way out on 22nd Street in 1998, Amereno's Little Italy developed a following as loyal as Giuseppe Garibaldi's—and now the restaurant is facing trials not unlike those of the Italian revolutionary leader. Garibaldi's career was a sequence of hard-won victories and strategic retreats, and periods of exile and political disappointment. Today, Garibaldi's name is synonymous with nationalism and unity, and his successes (he was eventually elected to the parliament of a unified Italy) overshadow his tribulations. So it goes with Amereno's. The restaurant temporarily closed a couple of years ago, and founder Victor Amereno moved away. But last autumn, fighting unfavorable economic odds, the restaurant opened in a new, more central location under the management of Jaqueline Piikkila, retaining executive chef Peter Wilkins and an emphasis on traditional Italian fare. Amereno's is making a noble culinary effort--yet the results are uneven. Let me make it clear that nothing my friends and I sampled there is really poor, and several items are quite good. What the menu lacks from dish to dish is a consistent high standard.

The full review, which isn’t really terribly negative, is here.

tucson-arts,

CATCHING UP AGAIN

I’ve been fighting an insidious cold for about a week, and haven’t spent much time in the studio, which means I’ve neglected the blog. Let me try to catch up a little with links to my material in last week’s Tucson Weekly, just before it’s time to replace it all with new stuff. Here’s how the first review starts:

Donald Margulies won a Pulitzer for his play _Dinner With Friends_, but that doesn't mean it's either an epic or a spectacle in the tradition of such winning plays as _August: Osage County, Rent, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches_ or _The Kentucky Cycle_. It's a smaller, tighter work more in the manner of _Doubt, Proof_ and _Wit_. Indeed, at first glance, the subject of _Dinner With Friends_ seems mundane: how four people are affected by divorce. What makes Margulies' comedy/drama Pulitzer-worthy is its slightly unusual angle: This is not so much an account of how relationships fall apart as a consideration of how they might hold together. Beowulf Alley Theatre Company has just opened a strong production of _Dinner With Friends_, deftly directed by Susan Arnold.

And if that boring lede doesn’t dissuade you from pursuing the evaluation, you can do so here. Then, on to a second review:

Gaslight Theatre thrives on musical spoofs of various brands of genre fiction, but right now, it's returning to its late-1970s roots in Western melodrama. The latest bit of horseplay is called The Ballad of Two-Gun McGraw, and it's everything this sort of show should be, if you can figure out what that is.

Find out what my idea of that is here.

tucson-arts,

About Cue Sheet

James Reel's cranky consideration of the fine arts and public radio in Tucson and beyond.