Archive for May, 2013

Return of the “Tainted Tenner”

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By Bob Litton

As I’ve mentioned to a few friends, one of the many causes of my “grouchiness” is the condition of the coins and bills I’ve been receiving of late. At least I believe it has been “of late”; I don’t recall ever noticing such a constant, numerous influx of filthy, torn bills and caked, corroded coins before the last year or so.

Decades ago, I had in mind to write a short story about a bill of whatever denomination having a discussion with other bills in a wallet — a discussion about all the transactions, legal and illegal, for which they had been used. It was to be a satirical piece. I never settled in to write it; and luckily, too, for I recently bought a used paperback of several of O. Henry’s stories; and in that volume was a story titled “The Tale of a Tainted Tenner”. The plot of the story was very similar to my own plan…just not as funny or as biting.

Shortly after reading O. Henry’s story and abandoning the notion of writing my own, I saw a fast-food chain’s TV commercial: a dollar bill, floating in the air, landing, being run over and stamped by a truck’s tire, and then being used in a commercial transaction. The voice-over, I believe, said something like “Your money’s always good with us.”

I nearly always pick up coins — even pennies — in the street; depends on their condition.  For I’ve read that it costs the mint two cents to create one cent.  There’s no doubt about it: the greater number of us Americans hold the penny in contempt. I once discussed this matter with a couple of oilmen in Monahans, Texas, where I used to be editor of the local paper.  One of my friends said, “I usually take a quarter out of my pocket and drop it near the penny or nickel, and then I bend down and pick them both up.” Now that, I thought, shows ingenuity!

Over the past year, I’ve several times demanded that a cashier in a restaurant or convenience store not give me as change a torn or marked-up bill or a corroded penny. A few times, having not paid attention to the change I was receiving, I found myself possessing such trash anyway. Not willing to dump on someone else what had been dumped on me, I would drive up to a local bank’s window and, handing the money over to the teller, say, “Take that filthy thing out of circulation. People shouldn’t be putting this stuff off on others.”

Last November, the Internet edition of NBC’s Today show ran a brief article (URL provided at the end of this post) citing a study in the Journal of Consumer Research about how the condition of money affects our spending habits.  The study reports that we “…tend to infer that worn bills are used and contaminated, whereas crisp bills give (us) a sense of pride in owning bills that can be spent around others.” (That same point was illustrated in O. Henry’s story written more than a century ago.) The study also claims that we spend a lot more when we are encumbered with worn or dirty bills because we want to get rid of them.

Again, just two weeks ago, I was standing behind a family of four in one of our local coffee shops as they ordered their breakfasts at the counter.  The wife and two daughters went off to a table, while the father — a fellow half again as big as I — waited for the waitress to tally his bill. He paid with a credit card — almost $40. There’s one good reason I didn’t get married! I mused to myself. After clearing that, and while I stood anxiously by, switching my weight from one leg to the other, he ordered an additional pastry, holding a rolled up bill in his hand. When he gave the bill to the waitress, I could see it was a ten. After I had told the waitress what I wanted, I paid her with a twenty. She returned me some coins, two ones and the ten she had just received from the big fellow. That was when I noticed that the bill was sliced two-thirds down its middle. I was annoyed, but I didn’t say anything to the waitress because its marring wasn’t her fault. Nor did I say anything to the man, now sitting at a table across the room with his family; as I said, he was bigger than I and to start a row in my favorite café would not augment my welcome there.

Instead, the following Monday I took the bill to my bank’s drive-thru and exchanged it for a better one. “Get rid of that damn thing!” I told the teller.

A couple of days later, I was back in the coffee shop discussing the torn tenner with the waitress who had given it to me.

“I didn’t mean to,” she said.

“I know you didn’t,” I lied. “I’m just relating to you the trouble I went to to get that bill out of circulation.”

A lady standing behind me asked, “What are you two talking about?”

“Torn and dirty money,” the waitress said.

“They won’t accept such bills at El Paso banks,” the stranger said.

Skeptical, I said, “But they have to at Federal Reserve banks.”

“The Federal Reserve won’t accept them either.”

Curious, the next day I called an El Paso bank.

“Depends on the condition of the bill,” said the lady who answered the phone. “A supervisor will have to examine and okay it first.”

“But what about the Federal Reserve? Don’t they have to accept them?”

“Same thing. If they are too badly marked up or damaged, they won’t be accepted. A bank officer will have to inspect them first.”

Finally, I was in that same coffee shop one morning last week, when one of the other coffee-sipping regulars pulled a neatly folded bill (I didn’t note the denomination) from his wallet. He’s a retired chemistry professor, and he was showing one of the other coffee-sippers how he had explained to students the way cocaine residue adheres to a piece of legal tender when the bill is used to snort the stuff. The bill was slightly scorched on one edge, apparently due to the small flame employed when an addict satisfies his habit. I remembered seeing a similar bill months before, one offered to me by a convenience store clerk and which I had refused.

If only Alexander Hamilton could see how he is being used now!

Here is that URL I promised you earlier:

http://lifeinc.today.com/_news/2012/11/14/15167761-we-spend-grubby-bills-and-keep-the-crisp-ones?lite=

Finis

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The Thorns of Business

By Bob Litton

“There is one person in charge of every office in America and that person is Charles Darwin.”
— Charlie Grandy, The Office, “Get the Girl”, March 2012

Let me clarify one thing from the start: I admire people who venture their time and their money into starting up an honest business. The rest of us less prosperous people — commonly known as the “proletariat” — depend on the risks such people take for our own livelihoods. Also, many honest business owners are active in civic affairs and in other ways invest their time and energies in community service. Please note that I emphasized the word “honest”; I did so because there are many business people who are not honest, and even among the ones who are honest in the legal sense of the term there are some who are yet not honest in the ethical or moral senses. It is these latter two types that I intend to discuss here.

One of my brothers was a partner in a carpet store in Dallas beginning in the early 1960s and continuing until the late 1980s, when a severe recession, a few foolish business decisions, and his gambling addiction caused him to lose the carpet store. However, what happened to cause him to fail is not my message here. I want, rather, to go back to the early years. A primary reason for my brother’s and his partner’s early success was that they had found a fairly sound niche: second quality and dropped patterns carpets. There are several ways of making second quality carpet in effect first quality, which again is not my topic.  The point here is that for a couple of decades my brother and his partner had a prosperous business which naturally enough brought forth the attention of competitors.

The carpet store was on lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Texas. In the early 1960s, lower Greenville was a relatively cohesive and varied community: Besides the carpet store, there was a movie theater, a shoe repair shop, a snug mom-and-pop grocery, a Greek diner, a barbecue café, an auto supply outlet, and a couple of working-class bars. That neighborhood was almost like a small town. There was also a small furniture store — a latecomer — right next door. The owner of the furniture store, apparently noting how much traffic my brother’s store was drawing through a well-placed ad in the local newspaper’s weekly TV program guide, began stocking a few rolls of carpet. Then he painted red, curved arrows on the sidewalk outside his door. He added lettering that said “Carpet In Here”. Note that there was nothing illegal in his tactic, just unethical. And silly.

A couple more related anecdotes I’ll share with my readers.

In the late 1990s, I tried my hand as a “cold-calls” salesman of printing. I had my own territory in East Dallas, part of which included the medical district around Baylor Hospital. The sales spiel I had from Minuteman Press, a respectable chain, was a good one: brief, to the point and yet inclusive of convincing product detail. I adlibbed a small amount to make the material better adapted to my approach, but not much; didn’t need to. Still, I wasn’t very successful. Part of the reason was the fact that I am not a forceful salesman, but another telling reason was that another printing firm had pulled a “dirty-trick”. The competitor had somehow managed to “seed” their own special-sized stationery in doctors’ offices so that bills on standard-size paper would not fit into the envelopes; the doctors’ offices would have had to toss out all their remaining stationery in order to use my company’s product. There again, you see, no illegality; just unethical practice.

I was recently discussing such business practices with some acquaintances at one of our local coffee shops here in Alpine, when one of my companions added an anecdote about his brother, a real estate agent in Abilene, Texas. He said his brother had had a nice home advertised for sale for several weeks, but no one was coming by to look at it, even though a sign in the yard was clearly visible to passersby. Eventually the brother discovered that one of his competitors had managed to have a “closed” stamp printed across the advertised listing. Need I point out again that no chargeable offense had taken place here, only an unethical tactic.

I recognize that all the above involved “dirty tricks” among small businesses. However, anybody who has kept up with the larger enterprises will recall that the corporate realm is an even more dangerous territory. I will refer to one here that hits close in two senses: it occurred in my home town and it involved two newspapers — temples of my profession. I even worked briefly for both while a university student, once at the Dallas Times Herald as a “copy boy’ in the classified ads department and once at the Dallas Morning News as receiver of reports from “stringers” at high school football games.

Being essentially a liberal myself, my sentiments were partial toward the Herald, which had a highly regarded editorial page, although it seemed to me that the hard news stories at the News were more fully developed. I was ignorant of the economics of the media wars in Dallas until I learned, sometime in the 1980s, that the Herald had lost its anti-trust suit against the News. The Herald claimed that the News had inflated its subscription numbers in order to increase its advertising revenue. Then the final blow to the Herald came after the News’ parent company, A.H. Belo Corp., bought the rights to 26 United Press Syndicated features (mostly comics), all of which the Herald had regularly run. The Herald was subsequently sold to two other companies before Belo bought it for $55 million on December 8, 1991, and closed the paper the next day.

Belo’s victory was decidedly Pyrrhic, however, because in 2004 the News admitted that it had in fact under-reported its subscription decreases, over-stated its Sunday circulation by 11.9 percent and its daily circulation by 5.1 percent. The News paid advertisers $21 million in restitution. That penalty hurt Belo so much that they had to lay off 250 workers, 150 of them at the Dallas Morning News. More layoffs occurred in 2008 and 2009. Not all this damage, however, can be attributed to the News’s inflated subscription reporting; the general recession that began in 2008 must be taken into account as well. Also, the Herald’s demise was probably already in the cards, since television was dominating evening news reporting and the Herald’s owner at the time, the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Company, neglected to concentrate on reportage of the suburban areas, where most of the newspaper-reading public had moved. There it is: another instance of not criminal play, perhaps, but of unethical play.

As I wrote in the beginning of this essay, I am not against honest business. I am only cynical about unethical business practices, of which there seem to be way too many examples. And it really nauseates this observer when he hears, and reads in editorials, all the prate about “free enterprise” and “the invisible hand” of the “open, competitive market place”. There is no “competition” when one enterprise employs heavy-handed and non-quality-related ploys to drive another out of business. The one who wants to be the  “maker of a better mouse trap” does so by inventing a more efficient mouse trap, not by sabotaging his predecessor’s factory.  We don’t have capitalism or free enterprise here: We have legerdemain, piracy, and monopolism.

As usual, I have a radical palliative — or at least a partial palliative — for this disease: Eliminate all prizes and awards related to business except one: The Proven Record of Honest Business Dealings for the Past Year Award.

Finis

How the Philosopher Argued His Rising

By Bob Litton

“This is patently absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.”
— Bertrand Russell

What time is it? The hands on that clock must be awry. In this dim light, they seem to say ten after five, but it feels like two-thirty. Where are my promised eight hours? With age is supposed to come more sleep, not less. Is this the penalty I pay for my prodigal, promiscuous youth?

Perhaps if I turn over on my side I can catch another three dreams, if this pillow will only agree to remain puffed up just right, which it never does. The damn anarchist! An old man, a bed and a pillow — those are supposed to be the appropriate triad for healthy slumber. But my brain agitates like a washing machine after six hours — not demonstrating its fitness, only pointing out the reductio ad absurdum of mind over body. Was it five or ten minutes I thought through that? No matter: The biological clock and my daily habits have won. Oh, to be a lackadaisical lad again!

But why not rebel? I’m not too old to assert my right to reverse the Natural Order, am I? One’s blood does have to be running rapidly to be hot, does it not? Should I take a needle and a thermometer to test the heat of my blood? O, don’t be such a dunce, you dunderhead! You can’t get enough blood that way to measure its warmth, and you couldn’t do it anyway with a thermometer. What instrument would it require? I’ll have to pursue that line of inquiry someday…soon.

What would be soon? In a few hours? A few days? Next month? Just before death? Well now, that depends on how much time Lachesis has left me, which I don’t know. Could it be as soon as I get out of this bed? Why don’t I experiment and see?

All I have to do first is move my legs over a little so that they are stretched out beyond the bed’s side. But which side? On that side is the window and the rising sun with its bright light, which will blind my eyes. On this other side is my chiffonier, which I am always bumping into. On the other hand, it is the chiffonier that holds my underwear and socks. There must be at least fifteen steps from the window side to the chiffonier side, so logically I will be saving energy and time by getting out bed on the chiffonier side. Ah, if only cosmological questions were as easily and quickly resolved as that one!

Okay, now my legs are stretched over the correct side of the bed. The question that remains is which foot should I lower first into its house slipper. This is a matter of momentous importance because I am left-handed, therefore one would think I should be left-footed, too. But, that is not the case; I most often do things with my right foot — like kick a soccer ball — that I would never think of doing with my left foot. There must be some congenital discordance within my bodily frame that causes such a disparity. For the moment, though, to help me decide, I’ll concentrate on that old wives’ tale and the Latin for “left” — sinister — “ominous”, “malevolent”, to help me avoid using my left limbs…at least first. There you go, right foot, you’re in there; now to insert the left foot. Aha, experiment accomplished!

Now for my robe there hanging on the door. At a 45-degree angle, it shouldn’t require much thrust to arrive at that point. But I must do it gracefully, for G=SDBTP… (Grace equals the Shortest Distance Between Two Points), as my old theology professor taught me. Hells’ bells, but I miss that old codger! Grand little old man who could swing a bat as artfully as he could swig a beer! Too bad he had to go the way he did, trying to dash between those two on-coming cars that last carousal night of ours. Guess he forgot his own Grace formula at the crucial moment. Aha, standing now and into my robe I go….

Going where? Ablutions, daily ritual of ablutions. Too bad being dirty and unkempt failed to remain a tradition! There was that Spanish mystic…what was his name?…Ah, yes! Saint Ignatius Loyola, who, in turning away from his fastidious past, discontinued combing his hair and trimming his nails. And what of Liza Doolittle, horrified by the sight of bath water? People didn’t always bathe every day; they used to do it only once a week at the most. Our brains are radicalized by our noses, I say, declaring foul smells where there are no foul smells…no smells at all! It’s all a trick of the brain, the same instrument that wouldn’t let me sleep much last night, always roiling!

I rebel! I will go out as I am. No, wait a minute here, professor; you’re still in your bathrobe. You have to put on some clothes. Society won’t accept anything less. But are others to dictate what I wear or if I wear anything? Now we’re into the dichotomies of courage versus cowardice, the group versus the individual. “To be or not to be.” “Do I dare…hmmm…with a bald spot in the middle of my hair?” Something like that. I know: I’ll go out not naked, just in my bathrobe. My students will understand. It’ll be a good show-and-tell lesson in civil disobedience…. But no law will be broken; it’ll be only an infraction of social convention. How is that a lesson in civil disobedience? We’re not on civil disobedience now anyway; we’re smack dab in the middle of constitutional governing!

Oh, to hell with it! Got to give this tap water time to heat up.

Finis

A Chaos of Taste in the Arts

By Bob Litton

“To judge rightly of an author, we must transport ourselves to his time, and examine what were the wants of his contemporaries, and what were his means of supplying them. That which is easy at one time was difficult at another.”
Samuel Johnson, Lives of the Poets, “John Dryden

It is virtually impossible for me to imagine anything that so completely informs ourselves and our environs as taste, both physical and mental.  The subject is so vast, in fact, that it cannot be covered adequately in an essay, only possibly in a very large book.  It is necessary, then, for me to circumscribe my topic to a fairly small part of the idea of taste.  Perhaps as I proceed, though, we might find that that small slice will be fertile for extrapolation to other areas.

I was agitated to write about dramatic irony by a friend who forwarded to me an essay by Stanley Fish, a professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University.  Fish’s essay was a rebuttal of reviews he had read of the film Les Miserables. After having read the reviews, Fish went to see the film — twice; he said he “loved it”.  Two common criticisms of the film to which he took exception were (1) that the music was unrelievedly repetitive and emotionally manipulative, and (2) that the close-ups were too much “in your face”,  so much so that the audience could see the actors/singers’ larynxes.  (A third criticism — that the “prosaic lyrics” were sung directly rather than lip-synced — I will ignore because it is a purely technical matter and, to me, of minor importance.)

I, too, saw Les Miserables, although only once and on a 9-inch by 12-inch computer monitor.  Early on, I recognized what the critics meant by “repetition” and (intended) emotional manipulation.  The continual drumming of refrains, which I will paraphrase as “O look down and see what you are doing to us!” and “Oh woe are we!”, I began to feel would never end; but I was not manipulated into feeling sorrow for those folks, only pity for me  because I was going to have to sit through nearly two hours of this wailing.  As for the “in your face” close-ups, however, I did not perceive any of that; the film seemed fairly regular in distancing, in line with other modern films I have seen.  (However, I will note here as an aside that I have been annoyed of late by TV commercials where “customers” were so excessively up close that I could see the pores in their skin: there is such a thing as a “comfort zone”, people!  Also, in a video tape I treasure of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Concert in Central Park”, the segment where Art Garfunkel sings “Bridge Over Trouble Waters” —a great song! — is marred, at the point where he holds a high note several seconds, by a close-up that practically peers into his throat.)  What I did notice in Les Miserables, negatively, was the general darkness throughout the film; I also had noted even worse lighting in the new film Lincoln the day before.  Available lighting is reportedly part of the new cinematic philosophy: a part that disgusts me as much as the other new principle: indistinct dialogue — virtual whispering at times.  Thank God for closed captioning!

Fish argued that the critics were holding onto an out-dated theory of “dramatic irony”, which he defined as “…a brief against affirmation, against the unsophisticated embrace of positive (unqualified) values”.  He broadens that definition, relative to the theater and plastic arts, to mean a distance between the performers and the audience that allows knowledgeable viewers (i.e., the critics) room to evaluate their performances.  In reaction to irony, some modern painters have adopted a philosophy called “Color Field painting”, which, according to Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb, involves “‘flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth…figure and ground are one, and the space of the picture, conceived as a field, seems to spread out beyond the edges of the canvas.’”  Fish adds: “As a result you are not encouraged to engage in higher-order thought about what you are viewing; it’s all very elemental; it hits you straight on.”   In other words, “Vamoose, you middle men, you low-down higher-order critics!”

Now, I wish to dispose of Prof. Fish’s arguments as quickly as possible and get on to more substantive aspects of the audience vis-à-vis the stage and the characters upon it.  Firstly, a dictionary’s definition of “dramatic irony”:

The dramatic effect achieved by leading an audience to understand an incongruity between a situation and the accompanying speeches, while the characters in the play remain unaware of the incongruity.
From The American Heritage Dictionary (2009)

The most telling example of this literary element is Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, in which Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.  I won’t take up space here relating the plot of this classical play, only note that it is full of surprises for the characters and accumulating tensions for the knowing audience.  How could anyone, now or in Hellenic Greece, argue against the dramaturgical need of such a device?  It’s almost as basic as the stage itself.  Of course, fashions and languages change over the centuries as do subject matter and acting technique.  Aristotle’s dogma of the “unities” (a play’s action should be restricted to a single place and a single day) was ignored by Shakespeare and has been even more radically but naturally abandoned by today’s space-age script-writers.  However, I cannot recall hearing about, or reading any convincing argument for, abandoning dramatic irony, although I will acknowledge that I am not broadly read in the subject.  As Samuel Johnson remarked in his “Preface to Shakespeare”:

The truth is that the spectators are always in their senses, and know, from the first act to the last, that the stage is only a stage, and that the players are only players.  They came to hear a certain number of lines recited with just gesture and elegant modulation.

This whole direction in avant garde arts is, to me, a sign of the exhaustion of artistic creativity.  It shows up everywhere: obscenities in the scripts, second-time remakes of movies, TV series copying other TV series’ themes (e.g., vampire loves and crime scene procedurals), reality TV shows running over fictional shows, movies with loud and now trite special effects, and minimal dialogue.  The plastic arts are no better: painters trying to convince us that their single horizontal line across a canvas is a work of genius because there’s little to nothing there except its pattern, two colors, or texture.  (One painter especially seems to have taken the old demurrer of “I can’t draw a straight line!” as a personal challenge to do just that…and only that.)  As in the continual radicalizing of clothing and haircuts, so the younger generation seems so bereft of a generative self-concept that they grasp at the outrageous to make themselves noticed.  I can imagine one young sculptor now who, after defecating, invites his patrons into his bathroom to admire his latest creation in the toilet.

But now let’s step up to a more philosophical plane — that level which Fish calls the “higher-order thought” — and thumb through some old questions about taste.  The 18th Century empiricist philosopher David Hume held two seemingly conflicting beliefs at the same time: that beauty is in the mind of the beholder (i.e., subjective) and that nonetheless there is a standard of taste which is universal though only so in its most abstract or extreme forms.  He notes, in his essay “On the Standard of Taste”, that:

Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them, and each mind perceives a different beauty.  One person may even perceive deformity where another is sensible of beauty, and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment without pretending to regulate those of others.

On the other hand, he wrote:

Whoever would assert an equality of genius and elegance between Ogilby and Milton, or Bunyan and Addison, would be thought to defend no less an extravagance than if he had maintained a molehill to be as high as Teneriffe, or a pond as extensive as the ocean.

(John Ogilby [1600-1676] wrote translations of Homer and Virgil that were ridiculed by John Dryden and Alexander Pope.  John Bunyan [1628-1688] was a popular preacher and the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, which, although considered low literature in Hume’s day, is now considered a classic work.)

I would hazard a guess that Bunyan is read by more people now than is Joseph Addison.  Ironically, as Hume said, centuries pass by and taste changes.  But that is not to say that Hume and Addison are not worth reading; Hume’s style, particularly, is precise and his content is informed.  He tried to be as tolerant as anyone could be and very likely was more so than many others of his day.  He acknowledged that he was limited by the conventions and values of his age and country:

[W]e are more pleased in the course of our reading with pictures and characters that resemble objects which are found in our own age or country than with those which describe a different set of customs.  It is not without some effort that we reconcile ourselves to the simplicity of ancient manners, and behold princesses carrying water from the spring, and kings and heroes dressing their own victuals.

But back to the question of the audience and the stage.

In 1947, Margo Jones opened the first professional theater-in-the-round in Dallas, Texas. Amateur stages of the type had existed at colleges since the early 20th Century but hadn’t been used for professional performances for nearly two millennia, according to Wikipedia.  “In 1972, RG Gregory,  (a British dramatist, actor and producer), started the Word and Action theater company in Dorset, England, to work exclusively with theater-in-the-round.  He sought to create a grammar that would enable actors to maximize the form’s potential for connecting with the audience, both as individuals and as a collective.  All Word and Action productions were performed in normal lighting conditions without costume or make up.” (Wikipedia) Aha! So that is where all this dim lighting and whispering I complained about originated!

Gregory preached that the dominant Proscenium stage is “analogous to the seat of power”, that it places the audience in the role of passive receivers.  The theater-in-the-round effectively eliminated the “fourth wall” (i.e., the front of the stage through which the audience viewed the action of the world existing on the stage).  The theater-in-the-round format was a bit hard on actors trained to consider it bad form to turn their backs to the audience.  However, according to Gregory’s theory, the audience was now positioned to have to react to the play, to become part of the action.  I recall a New Yorker magazine cartoon of the 1970s showing an actor in period costume standing in a theater aisle and asking an audience member if he was going to just sit there and let one of the other characters abuse a third one.

It appears to me that we are talking about three degrees of ignorance here: the character ignorant of his fate; the actor ignorant, at times, of the audience; and the audience ignorant, until the denouement, of all the facts in the drama before them.  Oddly enough, this was not usually the case in ancient Greece’s tragedies because the plays were derived from well-known myths and epic poems.  However, it is quite common in modern detective TV shows and movies, where much information to which the audience  had no access is suddenly presented in the last scene during the detective’s wrap-up of the mystery.  That, I agree, is an irritating use of dramatic irony; yet, we all can accept the fact that it is very difficult to compose a plausible mystery that remains a mystery until the end while having presented all the relevant facts piecemeal and camouflaged throughout the story or play.  And mysteries are generally accepted as “low-brow” escapist entertainment, so it hardly behooves us to complain about what is simply an amusing recreation, like an Easter egg hunt.

As for more serious dramatic productions, I haven’t the power or authority to dictate to directors or other artistes how they present their works.  All I can say is that, until they return to making their products visible, audible and less dependent on grossness and special effects, I won’t attend to them.

Finis

 

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