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No Stars for the Eclipse
One weathercaster called it a must-see light and shadow show by the Old Master
Himself, but I canít say this last solar eclipse was worthy of there
commendation. Not even total, and staged (in my location anyway) behind a thick
cloud cover that served only to diffuse the vivid contrasts essential to any
dramatic effect, the Old Master might have been faxing it in from deep space
somewhere for all the incandescence it could claim. Quite frankly, as light
shows go, I thought more interesting work was being done at the Electric Circus
back in the '60s.
Now letís please not have any misunderstandings. Iím aware that Iím criticizing
the performance of a venerable figure who, over the eons and in every
conceivable form and category, has compiled an impressive oeuvre. If I have to
confess that a lot of His stuff is not to my taste, that I find much of it
heavy-handed or impenetrable (when, indeed, it is not distracted and slack),
this doesnít mean Iíve failed to recognize the enormous contribution Heís made.
Iím thinking, of course, of the models some of His stunning manipulations of the
more volatile natural elements provided for the Irwin Allen disaster films. And,
to be sure, thereís His introduction of death itself which, brilliantly
counterbalancing His earlier invention of genders and sex, forestalled the
unwieldy prospect of twenty-thousand expansion teams in just the American League
East (and, say, the 2006 playoffs extending well into the 2018 season). But
thatís hardly been the limit of this remarkable innovationís reach and impact.
In its absence, "Scream 2," which everyone agrees was even better than "Scream,"
would doubtless have languished in perpetual turnaround since filmgoers would
have found the emotions of fear and panic depicted in the original much too
weird and elusive for a sequel to ever be green lighted.
Whatís more, we can be reasonably certain that the popular denouement of the
happy ending the product of an inevitable backlash would never have been
So while itís often, for me, like feeling obliged to respect whatever that was
that Marcel Marceau used to do, even as you knew that one more minute of it and
your lungs were going to erupt with blood, Iím more than prepared to honor the
Old Masterís achievements. Itís just that Iím not what youíd call a huge fan.
What puts me off most is...well...itís His LORDLY attitude. I could forgive Him
a lot yes, even those tedious revivals of His wind-and-water specials that take
out half a state were He less disdainful of His audience, less willfully opaque
and ambiguous. I know this mysterious ways thing is a cornerstone of His persona
and I can understand His reluctance to give it up. But, bordering on the
pathological, His aversion to making His meanings known is wearing a little
thin, donít you think?
Iíll allow that, however disappointing it may be, itís ultimately of small
consequence when He mounts a shoddy eclipse. But itís something else again when,
for one especially egregious example, He leaves you to blow out all your
circuits trying to figure just where Hannity and Colmes fit into the notion that
if youíre on the planet itís for a reason.
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