Brought to you this week by our theme: working writer’s block, which I contend is different from writer’s block because it’s not lack of ideas here, but literal lack of time between reading projects, work projects, and a week-long vacation “project” (read: vacation) that will see me reading comic books and Station Eleven and eating enough lobster rolls to make the ocean rise against me and take its revenge. I plan on befriending five sharks. If I happen to write, then well done, fantastic, but I’m off to see the ocean and nothing else.
So on this vacation eve, I’ll link to these two essays about the total unworkingness and unworkability of ~the writing life~ because 1) could be worse and 2) certainly feels as bad as all that on some days.
(If you scroll past the quotes, I talk about musicals.)
What does a middle-aged, post mid-career, multi-genre writer do when she moves to a new community where she knows no one? Firstly, she hits the woods to walk out the demons. Then, she integrates: joins jam sessions, plays guitar or reads from her work at open stages, befriends neighbours, plays cribbage at the Legion, talks to strangers. She brashly calls the local newspaper editor and lands a full-page spread: accomplished new author in town. She hands out business cards: name, address, and TWUC (Writers Union of Canada) web-link on one side, titles on the other. She sells books at yard sales and craft fairs.Then, she loses her radio job: the company sells, there are cutbacks. Then, she panics.
This may well be where my nervous breakdown will come: here, in this IKEA. Today I am a fake writer writing in a fake office at a real desk, model name KLIMPEN/LALLE. Its main characteristics are whiteness and modesty. Its chair is rather uncomfortable, but IKEA isn’t paying me to be here, so I don’t have to be anything but honest. The Amtrak residency, this ain’t.
If there’s one show I absolutely never need to see again because I saw it like four or five times on Broadway when I was in high school, and because I still have the CDs of the original Broadway cast and the complete symphonic recording despite having no way of playing said CDs anymore, it’s Les Mis. (Don’t worry, they’re in iTunes. Oh, don’t you worry.)(I read the brick when I was 14. Where did I find that kind of fortitude?) I’m definitely inoculated from ever seeing a production of Les Mis ever again. Maybe forbidden. Is forbidden the word I’m looking for?
AND YET!!!!!!!!!!!! When did Les Mis embrace its own true heart and become charged with a transcendent homoerotic SUBTEXT-MADE-TEXT. Let’s look at the tape!!!
- 0:19– Javert steps out of the shadows, reveals the LITERAL CHAINS he’s holding, waiting for Valjean.
- 0:52– Javert SLAPS DOWN THE CHAINS. YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE, VALJEAN.
- 1:10– Second most important action of this movement: Javert climbs on Valjean, gets one cuff on, spends critical moments not restraining the other hand but really getting a hold on him, while singing, because musicals. Because isn’t it wonderful to hold your own true convict against you, both of you sing-fighting for your lives.
- 1:30– VALJEAN GETS LOOSE and (first most important action) immediately wraps the chain around Javert, brings Javert to his knees, chokes him a little. While singing. Is there anything better than a musical.
- 1:45– Valjean remembers there’s a dead lady in the room and Javert pants on the floor, half agony, half hope.
I suppose this is what happens when Ramin Karimloo and Will Swenson, Young Fit People who are able to throw each other around, are cast as Valjean and Javert? (God knows Ramin and his long-time MUSICAL GUY PAL Hadley Fraser have had their moments. Moments. Hadley Fraser has moments. WHAT.)
Anyway, which came first: this Broadway throw down or Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe’s ridiculous swordfight from the terrible 2012 movie? Someone pay me to write a performance history on the evolution of homoerotic physicality in Les Mis’s “Confrontation” across the ages. THERE’S SOMETHING THERE.