A Welcome and a Definition

Culture Vulture: "A person with a strong, sometimes obsessive, interest in the arts." Culture Vultures spend a lot of time observing the world. This is where those observations come out.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Life has been a little out of control lately. However, I did have a moment this weekend to take in the new Edward Gorey exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art. Before I went, I knew very little about Gorey, other than his popular works such as The Doubtful Guest and The Gashlycrumb Tinies. I went with a friend of mine and several of his artist friends, which always fun for me. I love getting the opinions of people with a more technical eye for art, music, or whatever, as they usually pick up on things I overlook. One person in our group knew a lot about Gorey, so I got some extra insight on the man himself.

Many people tend to think of Gorey's work as dark and Gothic, but I could not help but notice a certain whimsy in what he did. I like that his work never takes itself too seriously. It's not heavy, but there is a certain gravity to it. The exhibits often included the books, so the illustrations had context. Another thing everyone marveled at was Gorey's ability to do the detail in his drawings. His drawings are so small, and all the work looks so fine and delicate. The other interesting thing about the outing was learning more about Gorey himself. To say he was eccentric was to put it mildly. Some interesting facts about Gorey:

*He was a voracious reader. When he died, his house in Cape Cod was filled with volume upon volume of books he had read over the years.

*He was a major recluse, as well as single his entire adult life. Once when asked who/what was the great love of his life, he replied "cats." He always owned cats, and even did illustrations for a volume of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

*He did the costumes and scenery for the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula.

*He was obsessed with the ballet, and attended every production of the New York City ballet while he lived there.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sedaris vs. Burroughs

I was having a conversation with friends about going to see David Sedaris when he comes to town to speak next year. I casually mentioned that I wasn't sure I wanted to go, and added I much prefer Augusten Burroughs. My friends basically replied to me that Augusten Burroughs wrote one fabulous book and several terrible ones. Au contraire, I said! This got me thinking about the merits and demerits of both authors.

Sedaris: Now I will give Sedaris credit for basically being the first commercial writer in contemporary times to write these confessional essays/ novels. I think, as a society, we've become more confessional, and his books came out just as we made that leap. Sedaris' work is consistently good. While many people hold up Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day as his best works, pretty much all his work is on par. However, I think his work can be too staid sometimes. He is very mainstream because he is confessional but it doesn't really offend. I don't think Sedaris really pushes the boundaries often.

Burroughs: Okay, everyone knows Running with Scissors was wonderful (However, don't watch the movie!). I will agree with my friends the point that nothing Burroughs wrote so far has stood up to Running. However, I have to disagree that nothing else he wrote was notable. My second favorite by him is Magical Thinking, which is more a collection of essays than a memoir. I also enjoyed Dry but that may have been because I read it first, before Running. I think that is the biggest problem with Burroughs: he released his best book first, so everything pales in comparison.

One thing I do appreciate about Burroughs is his ability to take some horrific events and writes about them in a such a way that shows the humor in them. He can be macabre, but I think for the most part, it works well. Sometimes his quality does fluctuate (I just barely got through Wolf at the Table), but I think overall his genius separates him from Sedaris.

I know I am in the minority on this, so feel free to leave a comment and respond.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drama on the Potomac

I have been waiting for the arrival of The Real Housewives of DC every since the crashing of the White House state dinner. I mean, seriously, the other Housewives have had drama, but so far this is first show to cause an incident where the Secret Service got involved. I thought I would watch last night's episode and get reeled in enough to keep watching. However, I didn't know I would get hooked from the first episode! So here's my opinions so far:

Mary: I can't say I have a favorite yet, but I think odds are my favorite DC housewife will be Mary. She's equal parts socialite and super mom, and manages to look fabulous doing it all. She had some funny moments last night, including getting drunk at her own birthday and going on to Stacie about integrating salons! She should be fun to watch.

Stacie seems cool, but I didn't get a good read on her role in the show. I like Stacie so far, but I don't know if that will last.

Cat: Cat, the newcomer to DC, did not come across very well her first episode. He acted snooty at the polo tournament, and bashed Obama (also her husband's boss) to a room of black people. Also, some of her stories didn't quite add up: her husband is supposed to be close to her husband, yet he didn't RSVP to her wedding? Also, why was she so insistent about her opinion about Tyra Banks to a man who had worked for her? So far, I don't like Cat.

Lynda: Like Stacie, I am on the fence about Lynda. On the one hand, I can appreciate her love for large black men (like Lisa Lampanelli!) and she did have the funniest line of the show: "I wouldn't show my face at that goat rodeo!" On the other hand, she acted a little snooty in places and seemed overly insistent about another housewife's eating disorder. Which brings me to:

Michaele: I think many people who watched the show last night where curious just to see the antics of Michaele Salahi AKA the woman who crashed a White House state dinner. The rumor is she did it simply to ensure her spot on the show. Just when I thought Bravo had served up crazy in all forms, Michaele seems to be a whole new form of it! Not only was she hugging everyone who came in contact with her, she told more than one person "I love you," including her stylist. In a preview clip, she laments at the White House dinner that she can't hug the president. She's very adamant about not having an eating disorder, despite never really saying what she does eat. The weird thing is I usually cringe while watching the crazies, but I actually like Michaele.

We'll see how the season goes! Should be juicy!