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Good storytelling is timeless and transformative. For me, nothing beats just sitting down and hearing a damn good story. True, sometimes it’s cool to see random stuff blown up while mutants battle it out on a big movie screen. And sometimes it’s cool to play with fancy electronic gadgets that simulate reality while I avoid my own reality. And sometimes it’s cool to use those fancy electronic gadgets to blow up virtual mutants of my very own. But if you tell me an engaging story with fascinating characters, if you pull me into lives that help me forget (and better understand) my own, and if you get me emotionally invested in the outcome…I am putty in your hands. But is the art of old-fashioned, sitting-around-a-campfire storytelling dead? Can individuals with interesting stories sit on a stage and engage an entire bitter, jaded, New York City audience? Oh hells yeah. I witnessed such a feat when I attended Visible Theatre’s True Story Project: Faith last weekend. So afterwards I did a little digging to try to find out how they managed to keep me entertained without blowing up a single mutant. Read more »
A tinge of The Crazy may aid creativity, according to Roger Dobson’s recent article in The Independent. Well…um, no shit. I coulda told you that, Roger. Some of the most brilliant and creative people I have encountered in my life have had at least one screw loose, sometimes more. Hell, most days I feel like I am merely hovering over the Crazy/Sane divide myself, precariously vacillating between the two. I try to coincide my Crazy with moments of artistic creation and my Sane with moments of bill-paying-related activities and interactions with other human beings…but wouldn’t you know it that those damn bitches don’t listen to a word I say and just show up whenever they feel like it? But I actually cherish this internal instability, even though it sometimes causes me pain and isolation and depression. And it appears as if I’m not the only one (The Icarus Project seeks to navigate “the space between brilliance and madness”). And apparently, “there is no clear dividing line between the healthy and the mentally ill.” Read more »
If drinking is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Yet I do want to write. And I don’t want to end up like so many famous writers throughout history who drank…clutching to their vice like a crutch, bitter and depressed and disillusioned with the world, firmly believing that they needed that glass full of liquid beside them in order to access their talent.
But what if they did? What if alcohol and creativity were linked? O frabjous day! Philip Hunter gives me new hope in his recent Prospect Magazine article, “I drink, therefore I can.” Apparently the benevolent gods of modern science are entertaining the possibility that there is such a thing as a “creative cocktail gene”….a gene variant (known as the G-variant) found in approximately 15% of Caucasians. And if they’re right, I may have a brand new impetus to write. Read more »
I still remember sitting on my little brother’s bed when we were kids and playing the old Nintendo version of “Rampage.” The game gave two players the chance to work together to destroy a city….or the temptation to destroy each other. Each time we sat down to play, we would vow to each other that THIS time would be the time when we would work together to destroy the city. And each time we would descend into a pit of base human rage, ultimately culminating in a physical altercation that could only be ended by adult intervention.
Commercial video games have only been around for about 30 years, but their impact on our society is indisputable. And they don’t just tell a story…they put you IN the story. And like novels and films and theatre and television shows, video games offer the opportunity to escape from the tedium and occasional agony of daily life. But does that make them art? In a recent article in the New Statesman, Tom Chatfield argues that video games are indeed a form of artistic expression, and a unique one at that. But there is one major, inherent limitation that prevents video games from joining the ranks of other storytelling mediums: their lack of inevitability.
Glancing through the NY Times film reviews last week, “Goodbye Solo” caught my eye. Set in Winston-Salem, a Senegalese cab driver and a washed-up old man develop an unlikely friendship as they traverse the roads of North Carolina. I was born in Winston-Salem and went back there for college, so the novelty of seeing W-S on the big screen at the Angelika Film Center in Soho was an opportunity I could not let pass me by. As it turns out, I was rewarded for my curiosity. Read more »