IN SEARCH OF JOBS YOU COULD DO.....
IN SEARCH OF HEROES TO INSPIRE YOU,
ADA LOUISE HUXTABLE CRITIC, AMERICAN TREASURE
Her bio and her books:
pithy, acerb quotes
and it has a second pg
ON THE WTC 2005
ON JAP ARCHITECTS IN USA
The Man who REBUILT NYC http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110009783
Ya gettin the picture? She's a national treasure! Why couldn't she have been a radical progressive activist? But no, she's a journalist and a critic. You can be too. Here's how:
HOW TO BE A CRITIC (Theatre, but same idea, fashion, film, books, music, architecture, food.)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
By John Middleton
You’ve seen plays, right? You’ve thought stuff about them. Now you want to share your stuff with the world. On behalf of the world – thank you.
However, your timing is not great. I hope you don’t want to be a professional critic. If so, you might want to look at a back-up career, like tape deck repair or sextant manufacturing.
Or perhaps you want to be a freelancer – one of the millions of online blogtastic amateurs who are driving the professionals out of business. Good for you! But you face the same dilemma plaguing the pros.
What is this dilemma? Let’s take a quick look at the history of theater in the Western World:
From the moment Thespis cast off his dithyrambic shackles, the progression of the theatrical arts has been shaped by revolution. An iconoclastic explosion sends a generation of artists in hitherto unimagined directions. Then, for a while, they drift, until the next creative Kaboom.
Theater, being a collaborative art, has traditionally lagged twenty to eighty years behind our brethren in the visual arts, poetry, and music. The Renaissance begins with Giotto, Da Vinci, and Michelangelo and eventually finds expression through Shakespeare. Neoclassicism starts with David and works its way to Racine. Romanticism catches fire with Goya and Delacroix, Beethoven, Coleridge and Byron, then finds Wagner a few decades later. The same pattern holds true for Realism, Expressionism, Surrealism, etc.
When we theater folk finally catch on, most often the flame has been carried by playwrights; sometimes, directors; occasionally, actors; and once or twice by critics. Critics with a disgust for what the theater had become and a clear view of what it could be. They armed themselves with ink and newsprint and savaged the old/stale/deadly and lionized the new/fresh/living.
Today, as we search for the next theatrical renaissance, we look to contemporary painters, sculptors, poets, and serious musicians and ask them "'’Sup?" The answer seems to be a big fat – "Not much." Some look at this dearth of energy and ideas and conclude that art is dead. . . At which point, their editors at MinnesotaPlaylist.com intervene and remind them that this is meant to be a humorous article and tell them to lighten up and get on with it. So they do.
The point, getting back to the dilemma mentioned above, is how do you craft a compelling review when you don't have a compelling point of view?
I’ve spent countless minutes studying the work of our Twin Cities professional critics, and I’ve come up with a few guidelines:
1. Clarity is not your friend. “This play is boring,” may be true, but it doesn’t get you very far. Your goal is not to make a point, but to get the reader to think – specifically, “This critic seems to be saying something, but I’m not sure what it is.” This creates tension in your writing. Try something like “The playwright picks her way delicately through the play’s milieu, teasing out a cantata of poetic banality.” Much better, right? Perfectly unclear, yes? Find yourself a good online thesaurus and remember: there’s no noun that isn’t improved with an adjective, no verb that isn’t improved with an adverb.
2. Foreign or foreign-sounding words are awesome.Stock up on ones like mélange, fin de siècle and spatula. Used properly, these will add to your review’s opacity and reassure your readers that you are very intelligent.
3. Indeed, the more you can work yourself into the review, the better. The more the readers will like and trust you. Add personal anecdotes. Sprinkle in casual references to Thespis and Goya, or, if you prefer, TV shows, pop songs, movies, blogs, etc., so the reader knows that you do things besides go to plays. You’re just like they are! Except smarter.
4. Summarize the story. Since there’s no better way to bump your word count without having to say anything, a summary can take up the bulk of your review. Be sure to include any important plot twists and the play’s ending. This may spoil the play for a few people, but it never hurts to remind your readers that you watched the whole thing.
5. List some people. There are a number of persons attached to each production that your readers don’t care much about, but listing them adds to your aura of theatrical insider. Feel free to name the director (picks out the play), the sound designer (records the announcement at the beginning of the play telling people to turn off their cell phones), and the dramaturg (helps the actors with accents and things like that).
A final warning:
Pay no attention to the audience. Sure, a play is a communal experience, but audiences are notoriously biased. They come wanting the play to be good. You can’t let this influence your judgment. However, being open to the performance but cutting yourself off from the audience is not easy. It takes practice. Do you like food? Eat some of your favorite meals with your nose plugged. This will train the mind.
Avoid clarity. Use foreign words. Remind the reader that you’re there. Summarize the story. List people. Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be writing crackerjack reviews in no time. (And if you find yourself reviewing a play that I'm in, remember that I respect you. And like you. Heck, I love you!)
See you in the lobby.? John Middleton is a belovèd Twin Cities actor and amateur reviewer. Plus, he played Ken Tynan, a famous theater critic, in a play once.
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A FOOD CRITIC?
Although most people seem to think that being a restaurant critic is an easy job that just about anyone can do (just read a "how-to" book and you're half-way there!), there actually are a few job requirements. Being interested in and knowledgeable about food isn't enough.
First, you have to be able to write well, otherwise no one will even read your first article query. Some people go to school to learn to write well; others just practice. One thing that a writing program does for writers is that it teaches them to be good critics and editors for themselves, which is very important.
Second, you have to have reporting skills. Some people acquire these in journalism school; others just start reporting and writing stories. Most people don't realize that anything you report, from the background of a chef to the date a restaurant opened to the ingredients of a dish, must be accurately reported, with backup. Most non-professionals don't think about the fact that if a chef says "I worked at Alain Ducasse," you can't report that until you have some confirmation of that fact. (And even professionals often overlook the finer points, such as the chef's position at Ducasse. Did he do a one-week stage there or was he sous-chef?) It is the domain of the reporter to do this kind of digging. If you become a critic for a magazine with a reasonable budget, fact-checkers will come after you and attempt to verify every single fact in your piece. Newspaper writers are responsible for their own facts, since there isn't time for fact-checkers to follow up.
Third, you must have a passion for and knowledge about food. This site is populated by people who fit this bill. But I believe that to be a good critic, you also have to know how to cook. The reason for this is that you need to be able to work backwards, and figure out how a dish must have been constructed. And beyond loving food, you also need to be discerning, and possess a good palate. You should also know something about the food of other cultures, as well as food history. All these areas of knowledge must be brought to the table when you eat as a professional, and then brought to bear when you sit down to write. You need to be passionate because only if you're very, very lucky and beat some incredible odds will you be able to make a living at this.
Fourth, you need to figure out how to navigate the world of editors and deadlines and other bothersome practicalities of journalism. How do you get that first job? By having clips to show an editor and a great idea, well-pitched, to get you in the door. How do you get clips? By writing, gratis perhaps, for a small publication until you amass a body of work that can get you in the door somewhere. And it may not be about food because everybody and their brother wants to write about food these days, so the competition's a little stiff. Oh, did I mention discipline? Deadlines are mean taskmasters.
And finally, you need to know how to write a review, which is an art in itself. Food writing can be some of the most boring writing around, since descriptions of dishes all start to sound the same very quickly. Lot of people can write food descriptions that will interest, say chowhounds. But to write restaurant reviews for general interest publications, you have to be able to interest the general public, and that means a review has to have a shape and some color and perhaps even some drama. And most importantly, perhaps, and hardest to learn, your writing has to have a voice that will distinguish your writing from that of grillions of others who want one of the very few positions! I'd suggest reading Jonathan Gold's book Counter Intelligence for an example of a critic with a singular voice that makes reading his reviews a delight.
That said, if you have the passion, the knowledge, the patience, and the desire, best of luck to you, and I hope you make it!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there!
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