Friday, January 28, 2011
Rocket Boys & Tiger Moms
Rocket Boys is part of a trilogy of memoirs, along with The Coalwood Way and Sky of Stone, about growing up in a coal-mining town (Coalwood) in West Virginia. Rocket Boys was made into the film October Sky, and Wikipedia tells me that is 1) an anagram of "rocket boys" and 2) also a phrase from the Sputnik days, when the Russian rocket was announced on radio as being seen in the "October sky." Neato!
Two random coincidii:
1) President Obama just mentioned Sputnik in the State of the Union address. "This is our Sputnik moment." Our wake-up call to re-invent ourselves and improve our education, once again, especially in the areas of science and math. And I think Tiger Mom would be happy to set our alarm clocks!
2) Rocket Boys is also now a musical comedy (who knew?!--Wikipedia, of course, and probably Julie of A Follow Spot), headed from regional theatre to Broadway. Julie, have you run across Rocket Boys in your theatre-going/reporting?!
Anyhoo, so last night I saw Stephen Colbert talk to Amy Chua about it on The Colbert Report, and that was fun. She called the book a "self parody," had a sense of humor, and also said she was "humbled" by her experience as a mom, especially when her second daughter didn't take so well to the strict Chinese parenting style she was using and basically rebelled. Both daughters were in the audience, and Colbert asked, "Are you OK?" He is so funny. (You can see more about Time's coverage and the Colbert episode here, and the whole show at Comedy Central.)
Of course, all this somehow connects to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the musical comedy I saw half of last night. Howard Keel, as Adam, is a redheaded, red-bearded man, with six brothers of similar hairage, until Jane Powell, as Milly, Adam's new bride, makes them all shave. Yes, she's sort of a tiger mom.
movie before (it was definitely made before I was born), but I had seen clips of some of the famous dancing. And I used to watch Here Come the Brides on tv, which seems clearly based on this movie as well as its civilization-of-Seattle-after-the-Civil-War historical components. Bobby Sherman was in Here Come the Brides! As Jeremy, a character with a charming stammer! Briefly cured by a traveling con artist! (Suddenly both The King's Speech and The Music Man come to mind!)
And here's another interesting connection. Seven Brides was based on a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, called "The Sobbin' Women," itself based on The Rape of the Sabine Women of Roman legend. Wikipedia assures us that "rape" here means "abduction," as it does in the musical comedy The Fantasticks, but 1) they changed the song called "Rape" when they made the film version of The Fantasticks and 2) whether in Seattle, the generalized American frontier, or ancient Rome, it appears that men feel fine about taking women by force. At least here, as in Paint Your Wagon, there is 1) singing and dancing involved and 2) amazing respect for the woman's wishes after the fact.