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Yes, in one of the odder twists of life, Mrs. Robbo and I have been invited to attend a performance of “Jerry Springer: The Opera” tomorrow night. The story, apparently, is that Jerry is killed on the set of his show and then visits Heaven and hell. Or something. Says reviewer Gary McMillan:

Attention is bound to be paid to this extraordinary production. Like the cast recording of Avenue Q (”The Internet Is for Porn”), your [sic] not likely to play Jerry Springer: The Opera on your computer at work, but I defy you to rid your mind of songs “Talk to the Hand,” “This is My Jerry Springer Moment,” “Mama Give Me Smack on the A**hole,” “Eat, Excrete and Watch TV,” and “Jerry Eleison”.

Now you’ve probably heard two things about the show. First, that it was a major success in London, running over 600 performances and winning major theatre awards. Second, there have been spirited protests concerning the “religious” depictions in the show, including attempts to stop a national television broadcast and to intimidate local theaters into cancelling productions. This situation reminds me of the first time I saw the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on television. An opening screen displayed a warning to the effect that some sensitive individuals might find the content and language offensive or objectionable. Which, of course, is exactly the opposite, psychologically speaking. Insensitive folks might well be up in arms, but only “sensitive” individuals would UNDERSTAND the work.

Jerry Springer: The Opera has something to offend everyone, to be sure, if you are of a mind to take offense. This is an hilarious satire of a slice of real-life Americana. It’s a two and a half hour window into popular culture and mass audience taste (and I use the term loosely). Sally Jesse, Montel, Maury, Dr. Phil and so on. God love ‘em all, I hope each one gets an opera of his own.

Yes, Mr. McMillan, ain’t it cool? Let’s display our sophistication by being as vulgar and irreverent as possible! It’s satire, after all, so anything goes! Let’s bait those bourgeois sticks-in-the-mud and dare them to object! Ha, ha! They’ll never do it because the last thing they want anyone to think is that they are somehow…..insensitive to “Real” Art!

Puh. Leeeeze.

Honestly, doesn’t the avant-garde get, well, bored with constantly dropping its pants in front of us and demanding that we be shocked? Then again, I used to wonder the same thing about three-year-olds.

So why on earth are we going, do you ask? Well, because we were asked by some folks who are trying to make an effort to be friends and who genuinely believe that we will find the thing interesting and funny, and we don’t want to be churlish in the face of their hospitality. (I’m hoping that by maintaining this attitude throughout and basically ignoring the barbs that will be hurled from the stage, I can avoid having to go to Confession again on Saturday – I just went yesterday – but somehow I don’t know if that’s going to work out.)

Life imitates Art. From the Telegraph:

Magpie steals woman’s engagement ring and buries it in nest for three years

The platinum ring was finally recovered when her fiancé found it in a bird’s nest at the bottom of their garden.

Julia Boaler, 36, thought the £5,000 ring had been stolen when it vanished while she was taking a shower at home.

Miss Boaler and her partner Justin Laycock, who live in Gleadless, Sheffield, were baffled at how the pear-shaped diamond could have vanished.

Miss Boaler, project worker for homeless children, said: “I was heartbroken when my ring vanished and Justin was not best pleased either.

“I left it on the bathroom window ledge when I took a shower but it wasn’t there when I returned.

“I thought it must have fallen in the bathroom or even fell out of the window but it was a complete mystery.

“When Justin got home I told him what had happened and the pair of us searched everywhere.

“We ripped up the bathroom lino, pulled up floorboards and even took the panel off the bath thinking it must have somehow slipped through but still it was nowhere to be found.

“I tormented myself for months looking all over the house for it thinking that my mind must have been playing tricks on me.

“I repeatedly rummaged through drawers and lifted carpets and turned the car inside out.

“I even accused the window-cleaner of swiping it as the window was open, but he swore blind that he knew nothing and I no proof.

“We eventually gave up looking.

“A few years later we had to put the wedding off as I gave birth to our son Luis.

“Needing more space we found ourselves putting the house up for sale so I made Justin tidy up the garden and cut the trees back.

“He started to prune our big oak tree and noticed an old nest in the branches so he nipped up a ladder to have a look inside and found my missing ring.

“I was gobsmacked.

“The bird must have swooped down and nabbed it from the open window.

“It’s amazing the ring was still there but I’m so glad to get it back.”

Still engaged, the pair have now insured the ring and are planning to tie the knot in the very near future.”

Of course, I’m pretty sure the line, “A few years later we had to put the wedding off as I gave birth to our son Luis.” does not appear anywhere in Rossini’s opera, but never mind.

Today is the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of my patrons.  I have nothing particularly profound to say about him, except that I have taken to the practice of reading his Confessions straight through during Lent: The autobiographical part documenting his gradual break with the vices of the world and his embracing of Christianity is inspiring (and is of obvious appeal to a convert), while the part in which he speculates about the nature of everything around him is brain-twisting enough that I consider reading it to be an act of penance.


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August 2008