Beware…The Values and Beliefs Committee!

I was in a game of cruel tag where you were stabbed with a pen. That made you it. Bryce was far too aggressive and broke the tip of the pen off in my arm. I looked at the ink spreading through my veins and told him that he was way too violent. He just smirked at me before racing off up the stairs. “Beware the Values and Beliefs Committee!”

Bryce’s friends said that he went to get his gun and that I had better leave. It was an odd space, wide open in the center and then winding corridors with doors and passageways off to the side. I needed to go to the bathroom, but they were all closed or occupied. I finally found what looked like a bathroom in the corner, which had a view down the valley, but it was full of people, some my former students, all of them chanting, “Beware the Value and Beliefs committee! Beware the Value and Beliefs committee!”

I pleaded with everyone to leave, but it was a big joke, especially for Tom Hanks. He was photographing everything and mocked me for wanting privacy. The sound of gunfire was everywhere, and everyone ducked and scattered, except for Tom Hanks who continued to mock me. He made it impossible for me to go to the bathroom and so I offered him my camera, complete with zoom lens. Before leaving, he delivered the line perfectly, “The Values and Beliefs Committee, you know, it might sound like a good thing, but it’s just another cloaking device to maintain status quo. Think about that.”

“Saving Mr. Banks”: Paving the Road to Hell

We know what to expect from a Walt Disney film, everything from the adorable creatures to the clear delineation between good and evil. DisneyAnimals1The latest Magic Kingdom offering, Saving Mr. Banks  is no exception, giving a Disneyfied version of the media giant’s acquisition of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. saving-mr-banksWalt is a simple man – so the story goes – who has promised his daughters to get Mary Poppins on the screen, while Travers is cast as a lonely, psychologically damaged spinster who only gets in the way.screen_shot_2013-08-02_at_12.31.50_amTravers’ intense dislike of musicals and cartoons is the challenge to be overcome, and while they failed to convince her in real life – Travers so furious with the butchering of her work that she refused to work with Disney ever again – a different story is told in the film, Travers tearful in her epiphany of the Wonderful World of Disney in the end. PL Travers cryingAs banal as some might see this change, we need to remember that the pixie dust from this manicured perception is in fact ashes of the dead.


The Assembled Parties

We went on a brief theater rampage recently, seeing Nora Ephron’s Lucky Guy, Lyle Kesler’s Orphans and Richard Greenberg’s The Assembled Parties. The Assembled PartiesSamuel J. Friedman TheatreWhile there is something to be said for witnessing the likes of Alec Baldwin (Orphans) and Tom Hanks (Lucky Guy) on stage, hanksthose plays paled in comparison to the staging of Greenberg’s work, a drama that delivers interesting characters, sharp dialogue and a sprawling, rotating New York apartment. The piece centers on those who play the stock market, reupholster chairs at exorbitant cost and attend law school to delay life decisions, people who judge and glibly self-reflect, and yet are endearing in some aspect. Screenshot (54)The play asks much, answers little and lacks a coherent beginning and end…indeed is much like modern-day life. Interestingly enough, the play had to be recently edited after the Boston Marathon bombing, due to a reference made to a Harvard student making a bomb for extra-credit, an image that certainly matches the tenor of the work and our times.