Finally the weather here in San Jose is respectable. There’s nothing like a late evening out back with a crisp Chardonnay. It’s a pleasant enough way to cap an evening of theater. Last night it was Opus by TheatreWorks in Mountain View. A smashing good time. Now, with summer upon us, most of the stages go quiet during the next few months. Some will put on stripped down variety shows or touring pieces. Then, in September, just like so many kids heading back to the classroom, our calendars will once again light up and we’ll head out to see what’s what.
Quick update on the espresso front. I’ve gone back to my first love, the Pasquini for morning shots. For a while I was taking the easy way with Nespresso, a most agreeable device. So convenient. But I do occasionally still enjoy the grind.
I just knew it. Sooner or later I would be forced into this new Glee-absorbed universe. Loni pulls me in, first just to watch a bit here and there. It wasn’t long before she needed her weekly fix. She asked me, “would you watch this alone?” To which I gave her the typical male are–you-out-of-your-bleeping-shower-curtain-warped-ga-ga-mind?
Being the empathetic Canadian, by default I must understand all sides. So (a large) part of me (the one standing next to Neil Patrick Harris) says this is a massive dose of cheese piled way high, with an extra helping of horrid lip-syncing, bad arrangements of 80’s tunes, and matinee story-lines jackhammered awkwardly to fit the lyrics of an imminent song. Plus, at times it’s a like an hour-long Gap ad, trying to appease every single racial demographic and sexual orientation known to man (and woman!): the nerdy smart kid in the wheelchair with glasses, the Asian princess, the black guys, the Latino, the Indian principal, the fashion-forward gay son… on and on.
However, full disclosure: This all coming from a guy who faithfully watched Melrose Place (that Billy!) back in the day. It made the next day at work that much more interesting.
So the other side of me says this is positive, witty and fun. Where’s the harm? Maybe the world needs more of this type of light celebration with clever musical numbers. There is nary a malicious bone here; and for once, we don’t need to watch another series of excruciatingly contrived reality show contestants gnaw on each other’s bones.
Therefore, I pronounce: To criticize such a nationally-adored treasure simply reveals the crustacean that I am.
I admit too that I’m a fan of their slick editing. I’m amazed at how quickly and effectively the voice-over recaps the previous episode. And I will say it’s a kick seeing these songs lip-synced in what is essentially a series of prime-time music videos.
Darn it Loni, why did you do this to me… why, oh why? I might even suggest the pent-up expectation of the next episode is almost equivalent to anticipating the next game of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Might. Remember: might.
I’m still convinced the best laptop keyboards on the planet are found on ThinkPads. Not only that, I’ve come to realize the trackpoint—that infamous red nub that Lenovo even uses in the ThinkPad logo—is an ingenious device. It allows me to type away without having to move my hand to the mouse or trackpad. I remember about ten years ago they were common. These days, it seems like Lenovo is just about the only manufacturer that offers the handy pointer. I fear I’m in a dying minority.
All of this because I’m trying to decide on a new laptop. The Apple MacBook no doubt is an exceptional piece of engineering, running the slick OS X, and with the #2 keyboard in my books; but it doesn’t have the trackpoint! Boo-hoo. I know that it would be a monstrous eyesore too. Designers would rue the day their elegant flat black chicklet keys had some sort of knob sticking out.
Another observation from a guy who has been checking out the latest laptops at the local Best Buy and Costco: Why and how did we come to these 16:9 widescreen displays? Yes, they’re great for watching movies. How often do I do that on my laptop? Never. I do watch videos from time-to-time, but I’ve actually never sat and watched an entire movie on my laptop. I suppose it could be a possibility, while traveling to Loreto, for example (then again we’re too busy running around the desert). For working, and doing everyday stuff, isn’t the longer, more vertically oriented display more practical? You can see more of the page. Less scrolling is required. Yet, somehow the specs of the entertainment laptop segment were applied across all the models, without regard for the needs that the device was created to address.
At last night’s show, Opus, at TheatreWorks, we were taken into the world of string quartets, where perfection and passion mean there is no room for error and anything less than 100% commitment. It got me wondering about the creative process, notable the “thrashing” element. I’ve probably written about this before, and long forgotten. I strongly believe the best results don’t come from a yes-man approach. There must be disagreement, counter views, questioning. Otherwise the result will be lame, group-think; an all too-common symptom of allowing every single participant an equal say without establishing ground rules or objectives. Why is it that every great tech company, for example, is run by a supposed “tyrant”: Steve Jobs at Apple, Larry Ellison at Oracle, Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, Eric Schmidt at Google?
After the show, Loni leaned over and said, “Hey, that’s like us!” I think she was referring to the part where the at-the-limit, frazzled, bearded guy smashes the hell out of an object that explodes into all sorts of parts. Ah, yes, the temper. The character in question later says, referring to tension and disagreement, “But…it always makes our music better.”