The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence Review!

For those of you in the Colorado Springs area (or those of you who might just be passing by…) here’s a review of  the play I’m currently involved with as co-producer.

Special thanks to Bill Wheeler, who hosts a great theater blog that you should check out in general!

Here’s snapshot of What It’s All About: 
A finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the 2014 John Gassner award, Madeleine George’s The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence brings Watson, our favorite sidekick, to the forefront as he struggles to become the protagonist of his own story. Moving through time, The Watson Intelligence explores Watson through several different incarnations. We meet the classical Dr. John Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame, the tireless engineering assistant Thomas A. Watson of Alexander Graham Bell, the contemporary Joshua Watson of the ‘Dweeb Team’, and WATSON, IBM’s super computer that became Jeopardy! champ. These four Watson iterations merge, rising to face the mystery, romance, intimacy, and technology of a new world – revealing that real heroes are often unsung.

If you’re interested in coming and checking it out, we’ve already finished our first weekend, but here’s the stuff you need for everything coming up! (Also, here’s the Springs Ensemble Theatre’s website.)

THE [CURIOUS CASE OF THE] WATSON INTELLIGENCE will be performed at Springs Ensemble Theatre, located at 1903 E. Cache La Poudre Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80909. The play runs Jan 21 – Feb 7, (Jan 21-23, Jan 28-31, & Feb 4-7). Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., Sunday performances are at 4:00 p.m. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended. Tickets are $15, with group rates available. $10 student rush tickets are available for every performance (valid ID is required, rush tickets are only available at the box office 5 minutes before the performance).

King Henry VI, Part 2King Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Henry plays — and a great deal of Shakespeare’s history plays — were written prior to 1594. These are Shakespeare’s early attempts and a lot of critics have pointed out: it shows.

Henry VI, Pt 2, is definitely rough. There are a crap-ton of characters, some of whom only show up once for a couple lines and then disappear. In a production of these plays, a lot of these roles would be doubled-up. The result is a somewhat chaotic read, though I bet it’s much easier to follow on stage.

All I really have to say about this play is: Early Shakespeare is Still Shakespeare!

And I think Shakespeare might’ve missed his true calling: darkKill-Bill-style comedy.

Yes, I think Shakespeare and Quentin Tarantino should get together. Wait, scratch that. They’d never shut up so they’d never get anything done. Both are kind of long winded.

However! Jack Cade, the badass-but-not-too-bright leader of the rebels, who appears near the end of the play, is the epitome of a Tarantino talky-crazed bad guy. He makes decapitated heads kiss each other. He kills people for calling him the wrong name. He proclaims random laws. His scenes are straight out of Pulp Fiction. It’s a good thing Shakespeare didn’t have access to needles. (Or, maybe, a bad thing.)

Some of that shit was so disturbing I laughed out loud.

Do the nobles plot for an unreasonable amount of time? Yes.
Is it sometimes difficult to follow characters and their motivations? Sometimes. Yes.

But I liked it way more than I thought I would.

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Review: Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, by Ben Loory

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the DayStories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this book is definitely short and you can read it in one day without any serious effort…I don’t recommend trying to finish in one day. When it says “Stories for Nighttime” it means it. These are like small, modern little fairy tales and you need a second to digest each one or they all start to blur together in one heap of endless: person obsesses about object to the detriment/benefit of person’s life.

The stories themselves are sometimes sweet, sometimes creepy, and sometimes both at the same time. There are some unique, impactful images throughout.

My only real issue with this collection is a strange one and might not make sense at first.

It’s the way the story looks on the page.

Loory uses a lot of white space. White space tends to pick up the pace of a story — after all, the amount of words on a page can be used to determine how long you’re gonna spend reading it. More words = more time. Less words = less time. At least, that’s the general formula I use.

However, the white space used in these stories is more akin to how white space is used in poetry. White space in poetry = you’re pausing a lot and slowing way down.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Book” which is the opening story from Stories as spaced by Loory (and as can closely be approximated by Blogger formatting):

The woman becomes famous for opposing the book. She even writes a book of her own. Her book cries out for the destruction of the first book.
        In answer, the first book’s sales jump.
        The woman is frantic. She doesn’t know what to do. She feels like she’s going insane.
        And then one day on the street, a man comes up and spits in the woman’s face.


The woman stands there — shocked paralyzed. She hadn’t realized everyone hated her. She turns and runs sobbing all the way home. She locks the door and collapses on the floor.
        She crawls into the bedroom on her hands and knees and hides under the blankets.
        She huddles in the darkness all night long, her hands over her eyes, crying.

All of the stories are organized and broken this way.

The way the sentences break off into their own paragraphs and the amount of space between paragraph-length sections make me think more of poetry than prose…and, unfortunately, it makes me think of weak poetry because the images don’t oppose each other as much as line breaks are designed to do — the sentences are just a continuation of the same thought without anything surprising in it.

And it occurs to me that I would enjoy the stories more, if the paragraph sections were smashed together prose-poetry like. Then it reads dreamy. Now, I know reviews should not actually rewrite stuff, but I think offering a contrasting structure illustrates my odd, perhaps singular frustration with this collection (no words have been changed, only spacing and indention):

The woman becomes famous for opposing the book. She even writes a book of her own. Her book cries out for the destruction of the first book. In answer, the first book’s sales jump. The woman is frantic. She doesn’t know what to do. She feels like she’s going insane. And then one day on the street a man comes up and spits in the woman’s face.

The woman stands there — shocked, paralyzed. She hadn’t realized everyone hated her. She turns and runs sobbing all the way home. She locks the door and collapses on the floor. She crawls into the bedroom on her hands and knees and hides underneath the blankets. She huddles in the darkness all night long, her hands over her eyes, crying.

What happens there is I, as the reader, get to find what is meaningful, rather than having line/sentences that try to emphasize it for me. As is, it’s sort of like having italics telling you how to read a word. Sometimes it’s okay. Doing it every time makes it lose it’s impact. After a while, the stories felt monotonous to me.

So I highly recommend taking this collection slow, one story at a time, and then you have a good set of bedtime stories.

View all my reviews

Random Post of Awesome: Braggin’ on a Buddy!: Traci Cizek Sackett in High Contrast Review!

Awww. I held Traci’s babies when they were teeny-tiny – now I (and you, dear blog readers!) get to read her story-babies too. And if you wanna know how much fun this gal is, just check out the title of her piece, just published in High Contrast Review:

Maggot Pie

There’s such a terrific energy to this piece. The images are magical. I think they picked just the right photo to go with it.

Congrats, Traci!

Google Your Name Much?

“Reflection: It is presumably a bad thing to look through articles, reviews, etc. to find one’s own name. Yet I often do.”
~Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary

While reading through Woolf’s diary, it’s easy to conclude: It’s good Virginia Woolf did not live in the time of Google or Amazon Reviews.

Because, holy moly! The girl was pretty obsessed with reading her own reviews. There’s a distinct pattern that emerges in her diary that goes something like this:

  1. Write book. (In this stage she gives her progress reports, seems perky, debates difficulties that appear in the piece)
  2. Finishes draft. (In this stage she gives a big sigh of relief, doubts start cropping up, she makes plans for revision.)
  3. Revision. (Much more debate about pros and cons of piece, doubt, doubt, doubt, then she thinks it’s not as bad as she thought, reassures herself that she is writing solely for herself and doesn’t care what other people think, gives lowball number of expected sales.)
  4. Goes to Leonard, her husband. (Much nail biting.)
  5. Leonard sounds off, usually positively (Rejoicing!)
  6. The book comes out. (More nail biting. More assurances that she writes for herself and knows her own mind. She starts tracking sales numbers)
  7. Reviews come out. (Generally much rejoicing because she’s a super-genius, person A was positive, person B was colder, there’s no writing during this time, she freezes and reads and reads and reads all about what people say about her…eventually she falls into a funk, sometimes talks herself out with sales numbers)
  8. After much self-talk she gets it back in gear and works on her next book…back to step 1.

And if she was struggling with a book? Multiply all of those emotional reactions times ten. Yeah, I think it’s best that she wrote when she did. Google and Amazon would not do her any favors. And Goodreads? Where the whole point is that everyone sounds off on what they read? She’d never be off the internet!