Persepolis: Satrapi Seeks Purpose in Life

persepolis.jpgYes, it is petty to find fault with a movie because it did not live up to the book, and yet I am going to do it. Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis has recently become an animated film under the same title and I grieve this development.
The 95 minute film is a conglomeration of powerful scenes from the graphic novel, which lose their strength and significance without context. I warn you now, spoilers are a comin’.

The film opens with Satrapi as a young adult in a Paris airport, reminiscing. The next 30 minutes or so are spent with Marjane as a young girl whose life changes instantly when a revolution shatters the Iranian regime under the Shah. From a child who believes she will be a prophet, and who thought that the Shah was chosen by god, Marjane eventually grows into an unsatisfied young adult who is disillusioned with a variety of ideologies and hopelessly searches for a niche in the world. Marjane is an intelligent child in an upper-class family of politically conscious intellectuals. She is given the best schooling, and access to whatever interests her: history, punk rock, Western movies, philosophy, religion, sociology, etc. As she grows up, she travels abroad, has love affairs, rebels, falls prey to depression, travels again. And then the movie ends.

After I finished reading the graphic novel, I was left with a nagging feeling that the main character didn’t actually do anything with her life. The film brought this feeling to the forefront. Having have lived her life is supposed to be enough of an achievement. Writing a graphic novel which documents her adventures, and then having it developed into a motion picture is the pinnacle. Continue reading

The Fight for Farnsworth’s Invention


The story of the invention of television is apparently a murky one, with two men fighting for the patent. It is also a story of how an industry grew around patents, of the stock market crash, and the last lone inventor. A story loosely based on true events, “Farnsworth Invention” is playwright Aaron Sorkin’s what-if version of events and is currently playing at the Music Box Theater.

Philo T. Farnsworth (played by Jimmi Simpson) was a boy genius from a potato farm in Utah. David Sarnoff (played by Hank Azaria) was a Jewish kid whose family home was burned by the Russians before he and his family immigrated to the United States. The audience watched how they grew from their humble beginnings into two men who have so influenced our lives. Farnsworth threw himself into the invention he first masterminded at the age of 15, while Sarnoff worked to increase his influence and then his capital until he became the president of Radio Corporation of America, and more. They are the two narrators who enter and leave the action of the play, and join in a mighty battle, through a hail of words, which rages in front of the audience in a quick succession of scenes. They tell the story of their lives, and of television. They tell it as they know it, or as they have convinced themselves it has happened.

But how did TV come about? Who came up with that name? How does it work, exactly? All these questions have fascinating answers, which are to be found within the play. Comedic at times, tragic at others, (but never a court room drama) the dialogue and the action never let up. Continue reading

Is He Dead? : A Theatrical Comedy


“Is He Dead?” is a theatrical production currently playing at the Lyceum Theater on 45th, between 6th and 7th avenue. The brilliant Norbert Leo Butz headlines the show as Jean-François Millet, a struggling painter, in this comical play written by Mark Twain in 1898.

As the curtain draws, the audience is introduced to the jubilant singing and skipping of Millet’s two closest friends, Chicago and Dutchy, as they enter Millet’s humble abode/studio. Next enters papa Leroux, with his two daughters, and you quickly learn that Leroux owes a heavy debt to the nefarious and greedy Bastien André, a wealthy loan shark of sorts. Shortly thereafter, Millet makes his defeated entrance, as he could not sell a single painting. Having an outstanding debt with Bastien himself, Millet and Papa Leroux both wonder how to work out their debt, when Bastien confronts them and demands his pay by 6 P.M the next day. Continue reading

Rob Zombie Returns to The Chance

Rob ZombieThe Rock and Roll lifestyle inflames the imagination and depletes the body, little by little. It isn’t easy, and many rockers are husks of what they once were, forced back on stage by poor financial decisions after years of playing the same song over and over. Rob Zombie is not one of these men.

This most recent tour, due to no new album, but I suppose to celebrate a new film venture, has paired Zombie with Ozzy Ozbourne and he has been selling out arenas. Just recently, d42 and I decided to pass on his Madison Square Garden engagement. Every time we have seen him, after expanding a certain amount of force, we were able to get close enough to check out his latest shiny pants. At MSG we would have to shell out hundreds on E-bay to get close, and then we’d be sitting down. In seats. Unspeakable! Unthinkable! He has gotten too big, and was no longer the man we loved for his freedom of action and creativity. And then we found out Zombie was going to break away from Ozzy for a day and play The Chance, in Poughkeepsie, NY.

I saw my very first show at The Chance over a decade ago. I remembered being kept on the mezzanine by the guy who brought me, looking down at the mass of bodies before the stage which wiggled and undulated as one. I’ve never seen the floor looking like that since, but this past Saturday–the 5th of January–d42, Dazvsemir and I found out just how such a phenomenon comes into existence. Continue reading

Chocolate Extravaganza: 10th Annual Chocolate Show

Chocolatiers and chocolate lovers of all ages packed the streets and avenues created within the Metropolitan Pavillion on November 9th through 11th for the 10th annual Chocolate Show — a frenzy fueled and inspired by, you guessed it, chocolate. Beelzy and I threw ourselves into the turmoil and later, D42 worked her charms on doormen and made an appearance as well.

Join us! Walk down Chefs Avenue, or Coco-Bean Street to find what your caffeine-addled body desires. 65% coca? 85%? –This is no Hershey bar. You can’t just love sugar, you must appreciate the fine concoctions of cocoa. Some of the greats are here to provide you with a taste explosion, to challenge your palate and your sense of sophistication: Dagoba, Knipschildt, Amano Artisan. Continue reading

I Am Legend The Motion Picture: A Happy “What-If” Ending


Francis Lawrence directs this third adaptation of the 1954 classic written by Richard Matheson. The first attempt was “The Last Man on Earth” (1964), starring Vincent Price, and the second was “The Omega Man” (1971), which saw Charlton Heston as the lone survivor. I have never seen those two films, but I can certainly say this latest rendition is worth watching.

Will Smith stars as Robert Neville, a military scientist who urgently attempts to find a cure for a virus that has rapidly overtaken the citizens of New York, as well as those outside her borders. The virus, which was initially created to cure cancer, spread far too quickly for conventional quarantine methods to be of any use, thus resulting in decimation of humanity. Robert Neville’s curious immunity led him to be the last man standing in a world no longer human.

Three years later, he still broadcasts an SOS in a vain search for survivors and maintains a vigorous routine. During the day, he hunts and scavenges for food and supplies with Sam, his dog and only companion. At night, Neville hides in the safety of his fortified home while the infected claim the streets in search of fresh meat. Neville’s only aim in this post-apocalyptic “ground zero” is to find a cure along with any survivors before the infected eventually find his sanctuary. Continue reading

Crashing Corporate Christmas Parties: A Bloggie

‘Tis the season for corporate Christmas parties! Christmas parties filled with free booze and thrown by huge corporations, just waiting to be crashed. It helps if you have an in, of course, and last night my “in” was d42. Neither one of us worked for the company that rented out a bar in Midtown and even worked out a little buffet, but we definitely took full advantage. Though we paid for it in a variety of ways.

The second we arrived a man grabbed at the front of my chest. It was the sternum piercing; he decided he had to touch it. When I explained what it was he stared in fascinated horror and then stepped on me. As the hours went on, he got closer and closer to falling on me. We soon escaped him, although he would resurface, and often.

The bar was packed with aging men and women in suits. Primarily white men, duh, as the only people “of color” were those who worked as their secretaries. Ah, corporate hell, you haven’t changed since my sad days of temping (just this past summer). Continue reading