oh, and the adventure continues (re posts 06.28.03, 09.12.04):
From: Howard Junker (editor[at]zyzzyva.org)
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2005 05:40:16 -0800
Subject: you bet
To: cuttlefish[at]gmail.com

truth to tell i don't follow your career as carefully as i should.
but i do, on occasion, google myself.
and find myself in your blog.
perhaps if you actually bought a zyzzyva you wouldn't feel that i
felt you'd been Bad.

best, howard
if you're out there, howard, my apologies for the treacly response i sent this afternoon. it was perfectly accurate, but my nose gets a bit brown when i write from work.

in unrelated news, i will never see the phantom of the opera. i am, however, its reviews' biggest fan.

a.o. scott in the new york times:
...Joel Schumacher, the director, does his best to find a visual style to match the vulgarity and pretentiousness of the soundtrack. He succeeds admirably, drawing on his long-ago experience designing department-store window displays to produce nearly two and a half hours' worth of overstuffed tableaux, the cumulative effect of which is likely to be a state of headachy nervous exhaustion.


Lord Lloyd Webber's thorough acquaintance with the canon of 18th- and 19th-century classical music is not in doubt, but his attempt to force a marriage between that tradition and modern musical theater represents a victory of pseudo-populist grandiosity over taste -- an act of cultural butchery akin to turning an aviary of graceful swans and brilliant peacocks into an order of Chicken McNuggets.


For that [sense of mystery or strangenss], I suppose, you will have to go back to Rupert Julian's 1925 version, which starred Lon Chaney as the phantom. That film, long regarded as a classic, has a great many virtues, two of which seem especially relevant at the moment: it is 93 minutes long, and it is silent.
anthony lane in the new yorker:
Christine, who in other respects seems perfectly sane, believes that she has been taught to sing by the ghost of her father. In fact, her tutor is a nice lad in half a hockey mask who lives under the floorboards. He is the Phantom (Gerard Butler), his career ambitions include theatre management, and to get to his lair you have to go through the looking glass, along the creepy corridor, down the spiral staircase, take the first horse on your right (what the hell is a horse doing down there?), hop into the punt, drift under the dripping portcullis, past the multiple mirrors, and bang, you're there, right in the middle of a bed shaped like a giant eagle.


...Schumacher's principal debt is to the higher reaches of the textile industry, and if you ever longed to know what it feels like to be asphyxiated by brocade, here is your chance. The irony is that, as visual habits go, there is none more threadbare than this brand of subterranean gothic, at once fussy and lumpen, with its frankly unhygienic mixture of lingerie and dungeons. It reminds us that "The Phantom of the Opera" is a period piece, and that the period in question is not 1870 but 1986, when Lloyd Webber first presented his producton to the world.


None of the effects will be hailed as special by the average moviegoer, and there is something hoary and semaphoric in the actors' gestures, as if they were meant to be viewed from a distance; the Phantom, for example, keeps swishing his cloak to the side at random intervals, like Batman getting rid of a bad smell.

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