July 21, 2017

NYC DIARY

Last week I returned from 9 days in NYC and in a few days I’ll be going back for over a month. I’ve sublet an apartment on the Upper West Side and I’ll be filling in for Alex Bennett on Sirius Left, channel 127. More on that as it approaches. I hope I get to see a lot of you over the holidays but if I don’t be certain that you have my best wishes for a Merry Christmas…Kyle is an enthusiastic Harry Potter fan (he re-watched EVERY movie episode in chronological order when he was with me last summer!) so he was excited when I got tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway. After the curtain call Radcliffe and John Laraquette came back onstage to raise money for ‘Broadway Cares’, the yearly fundraiser for AIDS. The cast had autographed posters and playbills for sale but Radcliffe anxiously announced they were going to try something new that night. He had worn an electric blue bow tie throughout the performance, untied it from his neck and autographed it along with Laraquette. “Would anyone start bidding for it at $50?” Kyle looked at me pleading: “Come on! Its only $50!” Before I could even think about it the auction raced forward to $400. Kyle, I am NOT going to pay 400 bucks for a bow tie! Forget it…” Shortly, the bidding jumped to $1000…and there was a pause. Kyle stared back and forth between me and the stage. “Will anyone in audience go to 1100?” Radcliffe asked. There was another silence. “ONE MILLION DOLLARS!” shouted Kyle as my hand flew out to cover his mouth. A smattering of applause for this outrageous bid was overtaken by a wave of laughter as all heads turned to see us sitting on the aisle in the orchestra, my hand stifling Kyle from saying another word. When it faded a bit Daniel Radcliffe looked down at Kyle and said: “I think we’ll pass on the million dollar bid for the moment…” The bidding resumed and finished with a $5000 offer for the bow tie! I’m just grateful Kyle didn’t choose a more reasonable amount or I’d now own the most expensive neckwear on my tie rack!…I also saw ‘Seminar’ with Alan Rickman which was in previews. It was impressively acted (especially Lilly Rabe), wittily and cleverly written for the most part. The dramatic contrivance of evaluating an entire book from a minute’s perusal is too much to ask of an audience even with the suspension of disbelief and the play fell apart in the last scene; characters inexplicably reversed behavior, loose ends were tied in neat bows and arch dialogue melted into sentiment. But it was a fun evening and more fun to tell Kyle that after seeing Harry Potter a block away I saw Professor Severus Snape…I counted 8 different languages on my walk home from 45th Street to 55th Street. And two more I couldn’t identify! Is there any other city in the world where that would happen?…One night I was invited to a fundraiser for Primary Stages saluting past Pulitzer Prize winners in Drama. Marsha Norman (Night Mother), Frank Gilroy (The Subject Was Roses), Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park) and others were sitting at tables right next to ours. I met Wendy Wasserstein’s sister as we both signed in for the event. Her manner and speech patterns were so reminiscent of Wendy’s I choked up with emotion while I described how classmates loved and missed her sister. Edward Albee, who is in his eighties I’m sure, made a memorable speech from the stage. He’d received the Pulitzer three times (A Delicate Balance, Seascape, Three Tall Women) but informed the audience he thought he was missing a prize. In 1963 “Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolff’ was selected by the Prize Committee but the Trustees had found it ‘obscene or offensive…or something…If you look in your programs you will see there was no prize awarded for that year. So let me ask all of you here tonight: ‘Do you think I won three Pultizer Prizes?” After pausing for effect he sighed: “Or do you think I won four?” Supported by his cane, he shuffled back to his seat through the affirmation of resounding applause. As impressive as that was it wasn’t the highlight of the night for me! In 1977, when I was an actor at the Yale Rep, I used to eat alone, studying me script and memorizing lines over dinner. One night at the Howard Johnson’s over by the Long Wharf I spotted a guy at the next table poring over his script in a similar manner. “Sorry to bother you but are you working at the Long Wharf Theater?” I asked. He said he was and mentioned that he was a writer. I asked his name and he replied, “Harnick”. The way he pronounced it sounded funny to me so I quipped, “Harnick from the planet Ork? Like Mork?” (Yeah, this WAS the seventies…) No. He was Sheldon Harnick who had written “Fiddler on the Roof” and one of my favorite musicals “Fiorello”. As a kid I must have listened to the cast album of “Fiorello” a thousand times. I knew the lyrics to every song by heart and still do. Mr. Harnick was incredibly gracious (especially after my lame joke) and we talked throughout dinner getting very little script work done. Well, Sheldon Harnick, now eighty-seven was here this night. He’d won a Pulitzer for writing the lyrics to “Fiorello” and though he did have a complaint it wasn’t about NOT winning the Pulitzer for ‘Fiddler’. There was a short chorus sung in the show called ‘Home Again” celebrating the return of Laguardia and other doughboys to the US after WW I. Originally a much longer song and most of it was cut from the show before opening. The melody for his lyrics can still be heard in the overture. Well ‘Harnick’, for the first time performed the entire song. He was terrific. Robust, on key, inspiring. I sang along with the chorus. Thank you Mr. Harnick for once again making my night! And thanks to my good friend and former classmate Jeremy Smith for inviting me to this unforgettable evening…Things I learned picking up Kyle from school: 1. 75% of (white) boys these days have Justin Beiber haircuts. 2. ‘Mad’ is the new fad adjective, as in “OMG, I had me some mad detention today!” 3. Kids EXPLODE out of school with the energy of a bomb. Why do workers slink from the office enervated, completely drained? 4. Young girls hug each other constantly. I don’t remember girls doing this when I was a kid. They hug with the intensity family members show to newly released kidnap victims…I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and caught the latest exhibit on caricature and political cartoons: Infinite Jest
Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine

The 19th century cartoons of Cruikshank, Rowlandson and Daumier are amusing and historically interesting but there was little 19th century American work and almost no Nast. British Napoleonic cartoons are colorful and spitefully funny but I could have done with a little more Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and less Bonaparte. There were, however, a few 20th century cartoons from Oliphant, Herblock, Levine and others that were more powerfully artistic in original sketch form than they seem in newsprint. Inexplicably, most of these are some distance down the hallway leading to the main exhibition rooms so make sure not to miss them if you go: a frightening Nixon with V-shaped fingers rising from forboding black void, a frail Clinton rebuilding his image on a flimsy scaffold after Monica, an Eisenhower who is all elephantine ears. And there is an entire wall of Hirschfeld’s that are fun to decipher. The last cartoon in the exhibit is called ‘The Headache’ modeled after a 19th century George Cruickshank cartoon, this version has Obama bedeviled by little devils with pitchforks. Despite it’s deficiencies it is certainly worth seeing and I may return for the guided tour the museum is offering on December 15th…I saw ‘Tower Heist’ with Kyle, which despite my apprehension going in, was enjoyable and well done. I am not a Ben Stiller fan and Eddie Murphy seems so perfectly buff and pampered these days that I can’t even accept him playing any facsimile of an actual human being anymore, let alone one who is struggling and downtrodden, but Murphy is funny here. Yes, there is something disconcerting about multi-millionaire movie stars playing proletariat class warriors from Queens and yes director Brett Rattner seems to be a pig…but go, if you haven’t already. You’ll have a good time. Finally, I saw ‘Anonymous’ with an old friend and former Shakespearian castmate. Ugh. ‘Anonymous’ is awful and offensive in the worst way something can be awful and offensive: it was boring. The movie makers obviously see themselves as clever and daring but the film is puerile, like watching a High School kid sniggering at obscenities he’s scrawled across the cover of his Signet Macbeth. And about as entertaining. With Derek Jacobi(a complete waste. Olivier‘s Polaroid commercials were compelling in comparison.)and Vanessa Redgrave (who despite everything creates a vivid acting doodle of Elizabeth in her dotage), I was anxious to see it and had anxiety before seeing ‘Tower Heist’. Just goes to show ya; ‘Ya can’t tell a movie by its trailer.’ (Well, some of the time you can’t!)…See ya back in NYC.

THE TONY’S: “You’ll have a gay old time!”

Last night the Tony’s produced a fast-paced, commercialized 3 hours that sadly left some vital theatrical contributions (set design, costumes, lighting) on the cutting room floor like so much grizzle in a butcher shop. The meat of our ‘new theater’ consists of actors (i.e.recognizable movie and TV stars) and spectacle. Like so much in modern American society cuts like these promise a lean, mean economical machine and unlike so much in American society these days the Tony’s broadcast delivered. To their credit several of the actor’s didn’t forget ‘the little people’, profusely and emotionally praising their personal dressers and hairstylists by name. Despite the audience illusion that its all about vamping in the footlights, actors usually remember that theater is a collaborative art.

It’s hard to argue about the cuts when the result produced such an entertaining show, mostly focused on big musical numbers that appeal to the tourists of NY who made 2010-11 the most profitable year in Broadway history. Broadway theaters sold a record $1.1 billion of tickets in the past 12 months with a 5.9% rise in grosses and 5.4% increase in attendance.

The show began with a tongue-in-cheek musical number insisting that Broadway is not just for gays anymore (did it used to be just for gays? All these years and NOBODY told me!). It was well done and very funny, demonstrating a confidence within the gay theatrical community borne throughout the show with winners thanking their ‘partners’, solemn reverences to Larry Kramer’s revival of The Normal Heart (a solid piece of theatrical realism, an important political statement in its day but hardly revolutionary theater even in the 80’s when I saw it at The Public) and the over-the-top Priscilla, Queen of the Desert which looked like a segment of THE RICHARD BEY SHOW run amok. (Is that a redundancy? THE RICHARD BEY SHOW always ran amok!) it was no longer a requisite for the broadcast to foist that shocking (?) television cliché on middle America, the gay liplock but this new openness did inspire new ponderings and double entendres (at least for me): When Hugh Jackman sang to Neal Patrick Harris ‘You’re the top…’ did he have to purposefully avoid inferring the double meaning? Was Trey Parker wearing mascara and is he gay too? Could the muscularly heterosexual MOTHERFUCKER IN THE HAT (it begins with a sweaty, hot-blooded, sex scene) ever hope to compete in any category against THE NORMAL HEART, the most important gay play of the 80’s?

The opening number which insisted that Broadway is not just for gays ironically led to the most virile, openly gay Tony show in history. It also implied something entirely different: when it comes to theater sensibilities we are ALL gay now. Ben Brantley, the NYT critic was on MORNING JOE today with his analysis endorsing my original impression. Brantley said he was a gay man with a gay sensibility and that Americans had embraced that sensibility. I personally hate Brantley’s reviews and part of it is BECAUSE of his gay sensibility. It seems to me that this sensibility biases his criticism (and I read most of Times reviews), creating unreliable accounts of what took place in the theater. Adversely but similarly, John Simon’s homophobia likewise produced many unreliable reviews. Some of Brantley‘s quotes on Morning Joe were that the Tony’s presentation was ‘a very gay show’-(making Willie Geist squirm in his seat a bit), ‘ the message of the Tony’s was ‘you don’t have to be gay to be gay’, ‘there’s gay ‘homosexual’ and ‘gay sensibility’, I’m both’, and ‘suddenly its cool to be singing like Barbara Streisand on the streets’. Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve joked for years that I am a gay man trapped in a straight man’s libido (I’m single, love show tunes, have an interest in fashion, love theater and theatricality), it’s a joke based upon a stereotype. Aren’t there many gay men who DON’T have this so called ‘gay sensibility’, who wouldn’t think of bursting into ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ in the middle of Lexington Avenue?

It is undeniable that gay men have had a core role in creating modern American theater and not just as actors: Williams, Sondheim, Bernstein, Wilson, Robbins, Kushner, I could go on and on. If last night’s telecast was a celebration that unlike so many past gay geniuses there is no longer a need to find protection in the closet, that’s a good thing. If it was an exuberance of pride over the contributions of gay men to the theater, that is understandable. If it was a declaration that theater is now the domain of ‘gay sensibility’ and that either you have it or you won’t like theater, I don’t suppose that is a good thing. Gay men have made essential and lasting contributions to American (and World) Theater. Their contributions have lasted because of their universality not because of their ‘gay sensibility’, which births expressions as faddish and short-lived as ‘camp’ and the latest fashion trend. What is ‘gay sensibility’ anyway? Is it something humanely or aesthetically independent of heterosexual or human sensitivity?

And just a few more questions: ‘What drug was Christie Brinkley on last night? Did her speech coach actually teach her to enunciate that way?!?!’ ‘What was bugging Frances McDormand? She seemed like an overwhelmed West Side shopper at Fairway irritated by all those damn shopping carts!’ ‘Come on, don’t tell me Chris Rock never saw a musical before. That was a joke, right?” “I love Mark Rylance on stage as an actor. One of my favorites. But what was that walking through walls about?”

Anyone have answers?

NYC DIARY

Just got back from 10 days in NYC where one day had weather like Florida…I filled in three nights for Mark Thompson on Sirius Left. As always the Sirius callers were the best informed, most articulate of any callers I’ve ever worked with in any medium—talk about military procurement and an ex-Navy man calls with expert info on the F-35 or the Ford super carriers, talk about the Wisconsin debacle and a Wisconsin teacher calls in, talk about Teabaggers and they dial in to complain about taxes stolen at the barrel of a gun. Its always a joy to work there…I took Kyle to the Pompeii exhibit at the Discovery Museum on 44th street, a spectacular show, movingly, dramatically presented. Kyle was excited by the remarkably preserved gladiator’s helmet and shin guards and (eye roll) the recreation of a Roman brothel room. When he read the plaque that rooms like this were a hotbed of sexual diseases he was too scared to go inside. “Am I going to get AIDS if I go in there?” he asked. Midway through the exhibit there is a breathtaking moment when a SURROUNDSOUND CGI film of the city rattles the walls while recreating the hourly progression of destruction over the course of the day. As you stand shaken, with billowing black smoke roaring to engulf you, smothering all in its way, doors slide open and you enter the room with the plaster casts of actual Romans contorted and frozen in time, clutching their loved ones, their heads, their mouths in the final moments of life. The complete frescoes, the gold jewelry work, the pottery and sculpture—it’s all well worth the $25 entrance fee…I really enjoyed two Broadway plays: WAR HORSE at Lincoln Center and THE BOOK OF MORMON created by the team from South Park. Both plays received standing ovations. The ovation for WAR HORSE was perfunctory and dutiful. The one for BOOK OF MORMON was enthusiastic and irrisistable…. WARHORSE, about the cavalry horses of World War I has life size horse puppets that are so intricate they make THE LION KING figurines look like sock puppets. It’s a production that is awe inspiring in its theatricality and imagination. Unfortunately, the production is a bit precious and displays an awareness of its own magnificence. This self-conscious grandiosity saps intimacy from the central story and as impressed as I was by the stagecraft, it was the simple straightforward performance of one little girl, an orphan of war, that was most moving. That, and the PLAYBILL notes informing that out of 1 million horses shipped from Britain to the battlefields of France only 68,000 returned…. THE BOOK OF MORMON, on the other hand is as raunchy, as offensive and as hilarious as you would expect considering its source. It’s the story of two Mormon missionaries assigned to Uganda where life is so hopeless and miserable the natives curse G-d for their existence. One number is so outrageously sacrilegious (and funny!) that I expected a New Testament thunderbolt might strike the theater. I’m a guy who, out of habit, still hyphenates the word G-d, the way I was taught in Hebrew School (don’t use His name in vain), but when the woman next to me sneezed during intermission it felt inappropriate to say ‘G-d bless you” amidst such blasphemy! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play where the audience so enthusiastically and uproariously supported the show from beginning to end, engaging with every comic twist and nuance (yeah, there are a few!). This is powerful, relentlessly funny stuff. The theater was sold out FOR THE PREVIEW and Joan Rivers, Penn and Teller and Mike Meyers were sitting all around me. Try to get a ticket now before it opens, if you can. (I waited for cancellations at the theater a half hour before curtain and got a fifth row orchestra seat on the aisle.)…Just as sacrilegious, just as outrageous, but far less entertaining and more than slightly pathetic was the ugly mess known as St. Patrick’s day; drunken rowdy teenagers, burly tattooed girls bulging from skin tight t-shirts and shorts, red-faced gray-haired men in uniforms stumbling across the sidewalks. Worst of all there was no cross town transportation. Getting from the East Side to the West involved a hike uptown to 86th street. They wouldn’t even allow MTA busses cross the park on 68th, 72nd or 79th Is that necessary?!?!…Had lunch with Dr. Judy (Kuriansky) from the Richard Bey Show at the Friar’s Club. It was great to see her again and she hasn’t aged a day!…Frank Morano and Curtis Sliwa invited me to join them on air at 970THE APPLE for two hours on Saturday . We called my brother Jeff in Japan for an update and he stole the show!…One night Kyle and I walked by Milos Estiatorio on 55th and he began pointing and shouting: ‘Hey, that’s the girl from ‘Full House!’ I looked over to see a mass of hair puffing nervously on a cigarette attached to two skinny ostrich legs extending from a big ball of fur. Thinking he meant it was one of the older girls from the show I said ‘No, Kyle that’s not her’ and apologized to the girl for the scene. She turned fully towards us and said ‘Oh, that’s okay. It’s not a problem’ and, of course it WAS Mary Kate (or Ashley Olson)!… In other places you do one or two things a day and feel content that you’ve accomplished something. In NYC you do fifteen things a day and kick yourself because you didn’t get more done…Had fondue, great Indian food and for the first time tried a (not so) GOODBURGER. Nothing beats Shake Shack… Saw the movie LIMITLESS with Kyle. I always repeat to him: “Cursing is a limited mind trying to express itself.” So when he asked why Bradley Cooper continued cursing even when his brain capacity was ‘limitless’, what could I say?…Also took him to MARS NEEDS MOMS in IMAX 3D, although it contained satires of ‘60’s and 80’s mindsets and a Martian topography, that needed a lot less explaining. Despite its hydrogen bomb at the B.O. and the steep IMAX 3D ($16.50 for a child!) ticket prices, I enjoyed it!… One evening I ate with an old actor friend at an outdoor restaurant (on that 75 degree day) and as often happens in NYC we began talking with the couple at the next table. He was a law professor, an expert on the post war prosecution of Nazis and an assistant Watergate prosecutor. She was a legal specialist on consumer protection. Serendipity leads to the most interesting people and the most engaging conservations when you eat out in NYC. If you can afford to eat out!…And, yes, all of that and more in just 10 days. The days are actually longer in NYC!

THE 12 CENT VS THE $65 MILLION SPIDERMAN

I bought the very first SPIDERMAN comic book. In fact, I bought BOTH of them.

SPIDERMAN first appeared in AMAZING FANTASY comics and then got his own gig in March of 1963 with the premiere edition of THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN. I remember buying it, just as I remember buying the first FANTASTIC FOUR a year earlier. I was 1l years old and thought: “Wow! I’m buying the first edition just like some kid bought the first Superman in 1938! I’ll keep this until I’m an old man and then it’ll be worth lots of money!” Alas and alack, it disappeared over the years, although I did treasure Spiderman #7 until I sold it after my fund was wiped out.

The great thing about Spiderman was that he was SO REAL! He was just like me. He did well in school but was not one of the cool kids. He was bullied by the jocks. He suffered from self doubts and pined hopelessly for the prettiest girl in his class. It seemed like he lived somewhere in the outer boroughs of NY. He was raised by two lower middle-class parents who were loving and devoted (although his were an aunt and uncle, not a mom and dad).

Over the years it became my favorite comic, more identifiable than any DC character or anyone else in the MARVEL stable (THOR, IRON MAN, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, DAREDEVIL). One day my brother and I discovered that Stan Lee, SPIDERMAN’s creator, had a listed phone number. And HE LIVED IN QUEENS LIKE WE DID! We called the number and when he answered the conversation went something like this:

“Is this Stan Lee?”

“Yes…”

“Is this the Stan Lee who makes SPIDERMAN comics?”

“Yes, it is…

“Oh, my G-d! OH MY G-D! I can’t believe it!”

Then stricken with fear that we would get in trouble for making a phoney phone call we hung up.

I read and collected SPIDERMAN comics until my junior year in high school when girls, Heinlein and theater edged comic obsessions to the sidelines.

I’m writing all this as a prologue to my experience at SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK, the new Spiderman musical on Broadway. With a $65 million it’s the most expensive Broadway show ever mounted (SHREK, #2 was ONLY $25 million!). It’s not a universal axiom that vast budgets are fatal to artistic success. For example, AVATAR, the most expensive movie ever made created a magical, believable world and revolutionized the possibilities of cinema. But when the producer of the show proclaimed on 60 MINUTES: “We could have done the $25 million Spiderman but nobody wants to see the $25 million dollar Spiderman. They want to see the $65 million dollar one,” it was distasteful and disturbing. Money alone is not the arbiter of transformative experience.

Still, I was hoping it all would all work for a variety of reasons. I was a Spiderman fan. I was taking Kyle who was a BIG Spiderman fan. He said: ‘I’ve seen 15 Broadway shows but this is the one I’m looking forward to the most!” I spent almost $300 on the tickets. And Julie Taymor and Bono are two creative, socially responsible artists as well as critic’s darlings.

The performance we saw was glitch free. There were none of the notorious stops and starts that plagued the first preview. With the exception of a black clad stagehand twice crawling into a scene to steady a prop or a set piece the show ran smoothly.

Despite this, it was awful. Beyond redemption. An insult to the audience. An insult to live theater. And an insult to Spiderman.

It brought back those words that I stammered to Stan Lee over the phone so many years ago: “Oh, my G-d! OH MY G-D! I can’t believe it!” though now my shock now came from a very different place.

Apart from a three chord Spiderman theme there was not one memorable piece of music in the entire production. In fact, every song sounded the same– overbearing, overwrought and over not soon enough.

The acting (with the exception of a deliciously hammy Green Goblin, the same actor who played Seuss’ Grinch on Broadway a few seasons back) was slickly forgettable or mundanely unmemorable). Peter Parker is a tough role to play. He is a mopey victim who feels sorry for himself when he is not swinging across town on a web. Tobey Maguire was well cast in the movie. His apprehensive whisper and shell-shocked eyes, veered him away from self-pity to a guy waiting for the other shoe to drop. The hardest part for Maguire was making us believe this elfin Emo could perform Herculean deeds and amazing CGI took up the slack on that. Reeve Carney, the ‘actor’ who plays the part here, simply makes no choices at all. He is athletic, powerfully voiced and exceptionally handsome, characteristics antithetical to the role. Mary Jane, the girl he loves is as confident, slick and impenetrable as an American Idol runner up.

The much touted special effects? There was more ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ on the 3D Spiderman ride at Universal. In fact that is where this piece finds its closest kinship: to one of those shows at Disneyworld or Universal that combine actors, special effects and projections. Except at the theme parks they are well done. And they are short. And admission is cheaper. So Spiderman and the Goblin (acrobats, not the actors playing them) ride clunkily over the audience on thick wires? Kyle asked me during the show, “Why is it so CHEESEY?!?” When Peter Parker discovers his power he bounces up and down off retractable walls. Kyle asked, “Why is he jumping up and down on a bungee chord?!?”

Yes, it is still in previews but no intensity of rehearsal or performance will save Spiderman this time because the show also has a fatal flaw. It is not the story of Spiderman.

Spiderman is a boy’s story. A boy full of insecurities about fitting in, romancing the opposite sex, entering the real world and finding a meaningful place in it. The movie made literal what the comic implied: a boy from the boroughs is about to graduate high school and try to find an identity for himself in formidable Manhattan, its menacing skyscrapers, its dog eat dog ethos, its ability to swallow you in its waves of humanity. Girls may go through similar insecurities but I don’t think their fantasies about it have to do with beating up bad guys and flying across skyscrapers. (Stan Lee gave them Mary Jane story about theatrical dreams, failure and redemption but that is given no shrift here). Superhero comics are a boy’s thing…

Instead of the boy’s story Julie Taymor has transformed it into girl’s story. Except for a brief opening tableau you don’t even see Peter Parker or Spiderman for the first 10 minutes. Instead you are presented with a GEEK CHORUS (the Greek Chorus, get it?), three ineffectual, sloppily dressed, dimwitted boys and a quick witted, fashion smart girl who teaches them that the ORIGINAL Spiderman was actually a woman. A woman from Greek Mythology, Arachne, who was transformed by the gods into a spider with eight legs and set into a net for eternity. And then we have to hear HER story. And hear her sing about it. And Miss Patty Perfect reappears throughout the show to set the boys (and the audience) straight about how Spiderman’s male villains are all a dream created by this most powerful woman, powerful enough to destroy Spiderman himself, if she cares to. And then we have to hear Spiderwoman sing about it.

I’m all for empowering little girls and creating role models that are positive and assertive but let’s not mess with Dora The Explorer OR Spiderman.

“Ms Taymor, I KNEW SPIDERMAN AND THIS IS NO SPIDERMAN!”

When the producer extolled the popularity of the $65 million Spiderman he was wrong. The 12 cent Spiderman magically enthralled millions of fans for decades.

Kyle is 12 years old, just about the age when I first met Spidey. He reads the comics. He’s seen all the movies. He plays the video game.

His review?

His head rested against my shoulder as he slept through the second act. On the stage the earth exploded into flames awaiting Spiderman’s rescue, above us the Spiderwoman trawled along suspended from a cable, her pygidium inches from our heads, Mary Jane belted another banal ballad.

None of it disturbed his dreams…