Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2012, pt.11: Sue Lange

The 2012 Experience
by Sue Lange

I’m about as out of date as a person can be and still be breathing. I watch movies twenty years after their premiere. My music is usually fifty years past its prime. I’m just now getting to the classics that most people read in high school. I graduated in ’76. Because of this, I don’t have new information to report here at Aqueduct’s end of year reverie. However, looking at old culture every once in while is not a bad thing. We get wiser as we get older and can find new ideas in yesterday’s mundane trifles. Hopefully my content here will serve some sort of something along those lines.

I did a lot of consuming in 2012. At the end of 2011 Fenton the Dog went viral on YouTube. I discovered it early in the new year. That statement seems to contradict my opening paragraph but a couple of months later on the Internet is “so last year” everywhere else.

I reread a collection of Eudora Welty’s stories. I’d read them about twenty years ago and didn’t get a thing out of the thing. But I’m older and wiser now, you see. Now I get her. Good writer.

2012 marks the year I finally decided to give playwriting a whirl. Dialogue is my favorite part of fiction and I’ve been thinking of trying it out for a while. Before I started I did a lot of reading on the subject. Mostly one-acts because I wanted to learn the short form first. I consumed Samuel Beckett’s pantomimes, Harold Pinter’s Dumb Waiter. Some Lanford Wilson. Edward Albee’s Zoo Story blew me away. But the little known one-acts that come out in yearly collections are great too. Fun even. They’re fast, modern, and easily digested. I discovered a whole new world of artful yakking there.

If any of the Aqueduct readers or writers are working in this realm, please let me know where to find your stuff. I’d love to take a look. I’ve got my own one-act currently workshopping with local theater friends. It’d be great to get feedback from any of you in this circle. The play is called "The Glass Ceiling" and it’s about, well, you can guess. Send me an email if interested ( My year in music was highlighted by Cirque du Soleil. I caught a performance out in the real world, i.e., not on the boob tube. It was fabulous of course, but extra special because they used live musicians. Thanks for that. I loves me my synthesizer but not all the time. Anybody that comes off of a dime to pay for a drummer and a couple of guitarists is okay in my book. Canada rocks!

Then there were the 101 versions of Peggy Lee’s “Why don’t you do right” that I screened on YouTube during some lost weekend in August. The best one? Ella Fitzgerald with Joe Pass. It’s amazing that a no frills presentation of a no frills song can be so great. If Ella is singing it, of course.

In music, though, the year overall was tragic because this was the year the music truly died. I refer to Etta James’ passing, an indescribably sad moment. She’d been in and out of the music scene her whole life, but seemed to finally be getting the recognition she deserved. She was a trailblazer at Chess records, arguably the best part of her career. She had a singular talent. She was courageous and versatile. She crossed over and taught a lot of others how to do it. She added class to the label and the world of rock and roll in general. And yet she was capable of getting down and dirtier than any rolling stone ever did.

Christine Aguilera does her proud, sure. And Beyoncé, of course. Beyoncé did a good job with Etta’s style in the movie, Cadillac Records, but there’s nothing like Etta singing her own songs. Two measures into “I’d Rather Go Blind” and I’m balling like a baby. Every time. I miss the ‘ol girl. Etta was tasty, strong, and important. She crossed over, from black to white, from R&B to R&R. She was one of the first.

I love her. RIP

Sue Lange's short stories have been published in Adbusters, Apex Digest of SF and Horror, Challenging Destiny and elsewhere. Her novella, We Robots, was published by Aqueduct Press in 2007. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe ( Visit her website at

No comments: