Thoughts on The Wall
Published on July 9, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I give my impressions of The Wall - Roger Waters' concert tour of the Pink Floyd album of the same name.

Here's an excerpt:

"One of the last things I did before I left on vacation was catch Roger Waters’ Wall tour when it stopped at the Times Union Center in Albany in late June. Pink Floyd’s 1979 album 'The Wall' is one of my favorite albums of all time, and I was eager to see how Waters and his band perform the songs on the album from start to finish. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, other than a spectacle. And that I got.

The concert was dazzling, both visually and musically, integrating footage from the landmark 1982 film based on the album, 'Pink Floyd: The Wall,' deploying grotesque marionettes (including an angry-looking flying pig) above the stage and erecting an actual wall on stage. But while the album and film are largely personal works, exploring the unhealthy intersection of repression, depression, alienation, fame and war, the current tour has more of a geopolitical focus, attacking government, war and corporate greed in pretty much equal doses. If the album and movie are among the most chilling depictions of madness ever created, the Wall tour is more of a rant, directed at the powers-that-be. There’s nothing wrong with this, and on the whole the concert was quite powerful, with imagery of war victims and pleas for justice in cases of police brutality providing a grim, real-world undercurrent to the show. But the shift in emphasis made the concert feel a little less personal, at least to me. I was awed by the Wall, but not as moved by it as I expected to be."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Also, click here to read Rule of Thumb contributor Brian McElhiney's less-than-positive take on the concert.

A Debate on Stephen King
Published on July 8, 2012 by Sara Foss

As a fan of Stephen King, I found a recent exchange on Salon over the bestselling author's merit (or lack thereof) interesting.

On one hand, there's Dwight Allen, who doesn't believe King is a major literary figure, as some have proclaimed. Allen doesn't think much of King's writing, and concludes his piece with the following paragraph:

"My son, George, who is now twenty-four, read a little King in high school, but he hasn’t gone back to him since then. After you’ve read Roberto Bolaño and Denis Johnson and David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon, as my son has, why would you return to Stephen King? King may be an adequate enough escape from life, if that’s all you require from a book of fiction, but his work (or what I’ve read of it) is a far cry from literature, which, at its best, is, sentence by sentence, a revelation about life."

I can see Allen's point, a little. I read a lot of King when I was in middle school and high school, and now I read very little. However, I think he's someone I'll return to every once in a while. His books are fun to read, for one thing, and you can read them quickly. That doesn't make them literature, but I will say this: King's horror classic "It" has lingered in my memory ever since I first read it, in the sixth grade, while I've forgotten most of the details of Pynchon's "V," even though I read it just a few years ago. "Infinite Jest" is a near-great book, but if allowed one book on a desert island, I'd choose "It," which touched me as few books have.

Anyway, Erik Nelson has penned a fine defense of King, questioning why Allen bases his assessment on three of King's lesser works: "Christine," "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" and "Pet Sematary." He writes:

"These three books are far from 'A'-level King, and, if I were a cynic, I’d think that was why Allen chose those particular three to write about.

Throughout his screed, Allen seems resentful that King continually attempts to reach above his station, and stretch beyond the cage of his genre. But King has consistently fought against the boundaries of 'horror' fiction and his publisher’s expectations. The reason he still writes 'Stephen King Books' is, well, he is Stephen King. It’s what he wants to write. And if 'Stephen King' can’t write the books he wants, well, let me introduce you to a guy named 'Richard Bachman.'"

Obviously, I'm on Nelson's side here. My guess is that people will be reading King for a long time, and that perhaps one day he'll be discussed as one of the great writers of our time.




Goodbye, Ray Allen
Published on July 8, 2012 by Sara Foss

So Ray Allen has spurned the Celtics to sign with the NBA champions, the Miami Heat.

I'm actually fine with this.

I like Ray, and I'll miss him, but I'm not sure he had a clear role with next year's Celtics team, especially with the signing of Jason Terry, another gutsy shooter. Terry isn't as good as Ray, but he is younger, and unlikely, as a former NBA sixth man of the year, to complain about coming off the bench. Ray, on the other hand, was unhappy about being replaced in the starting line-up by Avery Bradley. For those of us excited about a Rajon Rondo-Avery Bradley backcourt, Ray's departure is unfortunate, but nothing to dwell on. Of course, I don't exactly want to watch Ray drain three pointers against the Celtics in next year's playoffs. But I'll worry about that later. 

Weirdly, I don't feel particularly angry about Ray's decision to go to a hated rival. It's a decision that makes sense for him, as he'll likely win a second, maybe even a third, ring, and he won't have to deal with Rondo, whom he reportedly disliked. Also, Ray is a hard guy to dislike. He's got one of the prettiest shots in the history of the NBA, he works hard, he doesn't cause trouble, he seems like a decent, intelligent guy. I wish him well. 

Graduation Reflections
Published on July 8, 2012 by Sara Foss

In my pre-vacation column at the DG, I reflect upon graduations, which I generally enjoy.

Here's an excerpt:

"I once considered my high school graduation the happiest day of my life.

'You’re beaming,' my friend Amy observed, as we waited for the procession out to the football field to start.

It’s true: I was beaming.

I just couldn’t believe that the day I’d been looking forward to for four years was finally here.

The ceremony itself was hugely enjoyable, as was the build-up.

There was the obligatory quoting from 'Oh, the Places You’ll Go!' by Dr. Seuss, the controversy over whether there should be a prayer (there was), the celebratory letting off of balloons, which some of us refused to do because of concerns over pollution and the potential harm to wildlife, the signing of yearbooks and the vote for class song."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Message From the Publisher
Published on July 2, 2012 by Sara Foss

We are off until July 9.

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