Lexington 12-year-old guides film to Louisville fest


It took 12-year-old executive producer and storyteller Nicholas Skidmore and a drone to get the short film Sargento’s Saddle into competition at Louisville’s 48 Hour Film Project.

The 5-minute noir drama was shot in Louisville, Georgetown and Lexington and included footage of Lexington’s Calvary Baptist Church shot with a drone-mounted camera. It’s the story, according to a trailer, of a wealthy horse farm owner “whose life goes on a journey of twists and turns.”

Skidmore conceived the story, co-wrote the script and assembled the team of 26 adults, including director Samantha Hack, to write, shoot, edit and submit the entire film in 48s from 7:30 p.m. July 25 to 7:30 p.m. July 27 on the last weekend in July. According to the rules of the 48 Hour Film Project, filmmakers were required to use a character (a professional athlete named Lefty Ellsworth), a prop (a slice of pizza), a line of dialogue (“How was I to know?”) and a genre (film noir) in their film to ensure that it was made within the time period.

Sargento’s Saddle will be screened in a group of films at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6 and 7 at the Village 8 Theaters in Louisville. There are 30 films in competition. The winning entry will go on to Filmapalooza, the nationwide 48 Hour Film Project finale, with the winning film receiving $6,000 and the top 15 films eligible to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

Drone operator J.D. Wright, actress Sally Evans and writer-producer Nicholas Skidmore outside Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, during the "Sargento's Saddle" shoot for the Louisville 48 Hour Film Project. Photo by Jason Matlack.

Drone operator J.D. Wright, actress Sally Evans and writer-producer Nicholas
Skidmore outside Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, during the “Sargento’s Saddle” shoot for the Louisville 48 Hour Film Project. Photo by Jason Matlack.

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Summer classic: ‘Tootsie’

Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman, right) surprises his agent George (Sydney Pollack, left) with the female alter ego, Dorothy Michaels, that finally got him cast in a daytime drama. © Columbia Pictures photo.

Michael (Dustin Hoffman, right) surprises his agent George (Sydney Pollack, left) with his female alter ego, Dorothy Michaels, that finally got him cast in a daytime drama. © Columbia Pictures photo.

Comedy has always had a tough time being taken seriously. Just look at the Golden Globe awards, where there is a comedy-musical category that is most often won by whatever musical is out there (Evita, 1996), a drama that’s kind of funny (American Hustle, 2013) or a drama that has some music (Walk the Line, 2005).

Very rarely does a straight-up comedy not made by a guy named Woody get serious consideration from critics and trophy givers, no matter how often you say, “dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

Tootsie (1982), Wednesday’s offering on the Kentucky Theatre’s Summer Classics series,  was one of those movies (and yes, it did win the best comedy-musical Globe).

Yes, it does have its serious side, looking at issues of gender and relationships. But it is mostly hilarious, following Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey, an actor so difficult to work with he couldn’t even get hired for vegetable commercials. (“I did an evening of vegetables off-Broadway. I did the best tomato, the best cucumber… I did an endive salad that knocked the critics on their ass.”)

But he does end up getting hired and takes the soap op … I mean, daytime drama world by storm when he dresses up as a woman and becomes a feminist champion. (The scene where her character Emily Kimberly proposes giving all the nurses in a hospital cattle prods to fend off amorous doctors is a scream.) Complicating matters is that he falls in love with his co-star, Julie, played by Jessica Lange in an Oscar-winning performance.

And while Hoffman and his amazing transformation was clearly the star of Tootsie, he had an amazing supporting cast led by director Sydney Pollack as Michael’s exasperated agent, George. Terri Garr is bittersweet as Michael’s friend and sometimes lover whose own audition for the daytime drama role prompts Michael’s transformation, Dabney Coleman is the sexist producer (poor Coleman was pretty much typecast as a male chauvinist pig through the 1970s and ’80s in movies like 9 to 5 and his TV series Buffalo Bill), and Bill Murray is really the movie’s secret weapon as Michael’s  dry, observant roommate. (“I think we’re getting into a weird area here.”)

There’s a lot to love about Tootsie, but what makes it a classic and one of the comedies that was taken seriously is that from script to screen, everything about it is great.

Tootsie shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday (July 30) at the Kentucky.

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Notebook: Moontower Music Festival

Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson of Sundy Best on stage at the Moontower Music Festival. The inaugural Moontower Music Festival, presented by LexEffect, was July 26, 2014, at Equus Run Vineyard in Midway, Ky., with a lineup featuring Moon Taxi and Sundy Best. Photos by Rich Copley | staff.

Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson of Sundy Best on stage at the Moontower Music Festival. Photos by Rich Copley | staff.

More to read and see:

The folks at LexEffect certainly have a good idea: get Lexington, or the immediate Lexington area, in on the summer music festival scene that is marked to the west by Louisville’s Forecastle Festival and to the north by Cincinnati’s Bunbury Festival.

And we do have our share of genre specific events in town including the Festival of the Bluegrass and the Red, White & Boom country fest in Lexington, as well as events in the region such as the the Master Musician’s Festival in Somerset.

Saturday’s inaugural Moontower Music Festival at Equus Run vineyard in Midway brought the Lexington area into the pop and rock festival sphere with headliner Moon Taxi and other acts such as Brave Baby and Buffalo Rodeo, augmented with some country and bluegrass from Sundy Best and Tyler Childers. It’s a far cry from any of those majors fests, but it’s a start.

It was a nice afternoon that ended with a raucous evening as Moon Taxi took the stage. Just eyeballing it, the crowd appeared to fall short of the hoped-for 1,200, but the audience did grow and enter and exit during the day.

So, as with any new event, there are successes and lessons learned. Here’s a quick look at what worked and what needs work at the first Moontower fest.

The Music

Moon Taxi frontman Trevor Terndrup plays to the fans at the Moontower music festival.

Moon Taxi frontman Trevor Terndrup plays to the fans at the Moontower music festival.

Worked: Organizers went for a diverse, non-genre-specific lineup that was cool to see and felt somewhat curated with local and regional talent. Moon Taxi was a prime choice to end the evening with a big party of a set. Brave Baby and Machines are People Too sounded great and complimented the headliner. Bowling Green’s Buffalo Rodeo and Louisville’s A Lion Named Roar were great examples of bringing in examples of burgeoning home-state music scenes.

And if you were going to inject the day with some country, Sundy Best and Childers are great choices, Sundy Best almost guaranteed to bring in an audience of its own. So you have to give LexEffect props for picking an interesting lineup, even if it had to go without a major headliner.

Needs work: Certainly LexEffect didn’t have the corporate or major underwriting that helps float some other events’ ticket prices. But $45 felt a bit steep for this lineup, particularly without a major headliner and with events such as Red, White & Boom selling a two-day lineup of 18 acts for $20. I am loathe to say anything against the diverse genre lineup, but I do have to wonder fans of certain styles maybe felt $45 was a bit much for only a few acts they wanted to hear.

That said, right before Moon Taxi, I talked to some people who seemed perfectly happy to have paid that much and just come out for the headliner and Sundy Best.

Brave Baby frontman Keon Masters gets a drink as the temperatures reached the upper 80s during the band's set at the Moontower Music Festival.

Brave Baby frontman Keon Masters gets a drink as the temperatures reached the upper 80s during the band’s set at the Moontower Music Festival.

With a six-band, one-DJ lineup, it was striking how much time was given to each act, which was cool as some festivals confine early day acts to dissatisfying five- and -six-song sets. But there seemed to be too much breathing room in this schedule. Something almost happened at Moontower that never happens at festivals: Brave Baby was almost started 20-minutes early. The time between bands wasn’t entirely necessary — Moon Taxi looked like it could have started 10 minutes early — and the gaps gave the day something of a start-stop-start-stop feel. While DJ Gary Klass did a great job spinning between bands, considering most of the fest took place in sunlight and temperatures in the high-80s, festival goers appeared to use the gaps to go look for shade.

Certainly if the festival expands, it will have to schedule more tightly. Red, White & Boom uses a great format of putting solo or small combo acts between bands so the music keeps playing while the more work-intensive band setups take place behind them.

The venue

Hailey Roby, a Midway College student, and Leigh Hardin, a University of Kentucky student, play cornhole by the vineyard at the Moontower Festival.

Hailey Roby, a Midway College student, and Leigh Hardin, a University of Kentucky student, play cornhole by the vineyard at the Moontower Festival.

Worked: If there was a broken record Saturday, it was people complimenting the beauty and intimacy of Equus Run Vineyard. Even bands were mentioning it from the stage, and the event-oriented Equus Run staff seemed to be geared toward keeping things going. And people also seemed to enjoy the wine — really, really enjoyed the wine.

Needs work: I do have to wonder if the distance from Lexington proper and unfamiliarity deterred some people from going. As we always say, it is hard to ask people who are not there why they didn’t come, but it is probably a valid question.

It was not made abundantly clear how many activities were on the site. Some vendors in the “Artist Alley” told me they were not seeing much traffic, and the activity area with cornhole and monster Jenga seemed to be spottily used. The layout sort of gave you the impression things stopped at the food-truck area, so you had to go looking for the other stuff. Some more signage might have helped get people into more of the event.

The event

Fans cheer as Moon Taxi takes the stage at the Moontower Music Festival.

Fans cheer as Moon Taxi takes the stage at the Moontower Music Festival.

Worked: LexEffect founder and president Kaelyn Query said the aim was to be local, local, local. And between Equus Run’s wine, the Kentucky Ale beer and food truck eats, as well as the aformentioned artists’ alley, Moontower felt very homegrown. These days, that’s a big plus. Having proceeds benefit The Nest only added to that.

LexEffect is an event-planning firm, and they seemed to have the details down. It is not uncommon to go to new events and see glaring holes in planning, like accommodating parking or concessions, by people who are more arts oriented than planning geared. There were none of those problems here, that I saw, save for the water-bottle-filling station running out of water.

Needs work: I cannot think of anything logistically that distracted from enjoyment of the festival. It might be worth asking if late July is the best time for this event. Could it have benefited from taking place when area colleges are back in session, or would it have been overshadowed by early school year events such as football?

That’s one perspective. It will be interesting to see how the Moontower festival proceeds from Saturday, but you have to say it was a bold initiative to add a new dot to the summer festival map.

Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson of Sundy Best on stage at the Moontower Music Festival.

Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson of Sundy Best on stage at the Moontower Music Festival.

 

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It’s ‘Weird Al’ with the song save

I want to sing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines every time that incessant earworm crawls into my head. But I have a few problems with the lyrics.

… tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature

Uh, no, Rob. It is not in my nature to call women animals and try to “domesticate” them. Nor have I ever presumed anyone “wants it” from me and I will tell my daughter and anyone else that it’s not a compliment to tell a woman, “You’re the hottest b—- in this place.”

So as a sing-along song, Thicke’s misogynistic anthem really doesn’t work for me, nor does his whole twerking thing with women half his age. It feels like a mid-life crisis playing out in music videos and on award shows.

But that tune …

Thank God for “Weird Al” Yankovic!

For those of you whose wordy friends have not already overwhelmed your news feed with Al’s latest video (I have provided it above), it’s a treatment of Thicke’s controversial hit called Word Crimes, and like Eat It, The Rye or the Kaiser, Like a Surgeon, Amish Paradise and numerous other Al classics, it’s a scream.

You finished second grade
I hope you can tell
If you’re doing good or doing well

Al, 54, has been in the music business for well over three decades, but the topic of the parody is so timely because more people communicate publicly in writing now than ever before, and we have all seen people who have tenuous grasps of the English language.

I read your e-mail
It’s quite apparent
Your grammar’s errant
You’re incoherent

Now we’re not talking about the person who accidentally, on occasion, sticks an it’s where and its should be. Believe me, I can testify that when you work with thousands of words a day, mistakes will happen. It’s called human error. But you don’t have to sit on social media long to see writing that just screams, “I don’t know any better!”

The other great thing is, like Al’s best parodies, Word Crimes is a great replication of the original song. Yes, he’s had fun diversions, like the accordion-based satire of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust called Another One Rides the Bus.

Hey! He’s gonna sit by you! Another one rides the bus.

But there’s a reason many of us think of Al’s parodies, even when listening to the original songs.

Eat it
Eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it

The impressive thing is how consistent Al has remained over the years. He satirized the songs of my youth, and now he’s having fun with my kids’ favorites and being successful. His new album, Mandatory Fun, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, powered by fans of Word Crimes and other videos he released in a precision promotional campaign. 

It’s a great grammar primer. But even better, it lets me enjoy a song that, in its original form, doesn’t even work as a guilty pleasure.

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Summer classic: ‘Double Indemnity’

 Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in the 1944 noir film <em><p class=Double Indemnity. Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in the 1944 noir film Double Indemnity.

It’s a classic film noir story line: A beautiful dame talks a gullible guy into killing her husband with the promise that they will run off together. Of course, it never quite works out that way.

Wednesday’s Summer Classic at the Kentucky Theatre is essentially a blueprint for this story, the 1944 Billy Wilder classic Double Indemnity. Insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) goes to talk to a man about a policy and is immediately wowed by the man’s wife, Phyllis, (Barbara Stanwyck), standing atop the stairs in a towel.

On his follow-up visit, she asks about buying a life insurance policy for her husband, making it clear she wants to kill him. He initially begs off the deal but eventually ends up selling her the policy and planning the murder, specially designed to cash in on a “double indemnity” clause that pays twice as much if the death occurs under specific circumstances.

The majority of the movie is told as a flashback, Walter dictating a confession to his colleague, an insurance investigator brilliantly played by Edward G. Robinson. And it’s shot in high-contrast black-and-white by John F. Seitz, making even a sunny Southern California day seem ominous, with deep shadows lurking in plain sight.

The roots of the story are in a 1927 New York murder in which a woman and her lover killed her husband and attempted to cash in on a lucrative insurance policy. That case has become the inspiration for a variety of films and stories, although it took nearly a decade for the story to make it to the screen. In the mid-1930s, the Hays Office, which policed the content of movies, objected to Double Indemnity becoming a movie because, “The general low tone and sordid flavor of this story makes it, in our judgment, thoroughly unacceptable for screen presentation before mixed audiences in the theater.”

Indeed, there are moments that feel a bit envelope-pushing for the 1940s. But the film did get made and has grown in reputation into a bona fide classic.

It shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre.

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Erin Christopher has a good outing on ‘Jeopardy Teen Tournament’

Erin Christopher of Lexington posed with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek during filming of the show's teen tournament. © Jeopardy photo by  Carol Kaelson.

Erin Christopher of Lexington posed with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek during filming of the show’s teen tournament. © Jeopardy photo by Carol Kaelson.

Tates Creek High School junior Erin Christopher had a good showing in the Jeopardy Teen Tournament, but she did not advance to the next round.

The Tuesday night broadcast started strong for the Lexington 16-year-old, who got to pick first and got the right answer, Roar, in the Katy Perry category. Through most of the first round, she traded the lead with Jeff Xie of Edison, N.J., including scoring the Daily Double by knowing that English is the official language of Liberia.

For the first round, Erin was loose and jokey, telling host Alex Trebek in the interview segment that she is working on a second draft of the novel she wrote in her freshman year. Trebek was particularly amused that she said her writing style had matured since freshman year.

Erin finished the first round behind Jeff by slightly more than $1,000. But he started to pull away in the second round, and Selena Groh of Arlington Heights, Ill., caught up. Erin’s best moment in the second round was correctly identifying the holiday first celebrated June 19, 1910 as Father’s Day, which had to make her dad, WLEX-TV anchor Kevin Christopher, smile.

Selena won in Final Jeopardy, correctly identifying the Eiffel Tower as the landmark erected for the the 1889 World’s Fair and betting just enough to pass Jeff. She finished with $20,000, and Jeff was second with $19,000 and could get into the next round as a wild card. Erin finished with $9,000 and the pride of knowing she was one of the few to make it into the televised tourney, and she represented herself, her school and her city very well.

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Singletary Center announces 2014-15 lineup

Trombone Shorty performs with Orleans Avenue at Courthouse Plaza in Lexington, Ky., Sept. 26, 2010. © 2010 Herald-Leader photo by Matt Goins.

Trombone Shorty performs with Orleans Avenue at Courthouse Plaza in Lexington, Ky., Sept. 26, 2010. © 2010 Herald-Leader photo by Matt Goins.

The Singletary Center for the Arts has announced a 2014-15 season that includes several artists who previously had big shows in the area, plus another classical music superstar to collaborate with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.

As in recent seasons, the Singletary Center is not selling a season subscription, but tickets to all shows in its “Signature Series” are on sale now at Singletarycenter.com or by calling the center box office at (859) 257-4929.

Here is the season:

Sept. 12: Trombone Shorty, right, the man who electrified audiences in downtown Lexington at the Spotlight festival during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is back with his band Orleans Avenue. (7:30 p.m. $27-$35.)

Oct. 26: We have seen jazzman Branford Marsalis numerous times in Central Kentucky. But this year, he comes to town in classical mood with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia playing Baroque masterpieces by Tomaso Albinoni, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Antonio Vivaldi and more. (3 p.m. $35-$50.)

Nov. 15: Former Elefant frontman Diego Garcia brings his critically acclaimed solo act, which has made him an NPR favorite, to Lexington with a performance that shows his Argentine roots and singer-songwriter sensibility. (7:30 p.m. $26.)

Dec. 21: Just a few nights before Christmas, Tomaseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas re-creates the night before Christmas in a remote farmhouse in western Ireland with stories, songs and dancing. (7:30 p.m. $20-$30.)

April 3: Violin superstar Joshua Bell teams up with conductor John Nardolillo and the UK Symphony for an orchestra performance that will include music by Max Bruch and Camille Saint-Saëns. (7:30 p.m. $45-$85.)

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Full circle

When I came to Lexington in 1998 to become the arts writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader, I left a job as arts and entertainment editor for the Banner-Herald in Athens, Ga.

In our business, that can be seen as a demotion, though it is a transition many of us make — editing and reporting being distinctly different tasks. I thoroughly enjoyed directing A&E coverage in Athens but missed reporting and writing:  Too much desk jockeying, not enough shoe leather.

If Scott Shive got to use a 6-year-old photo to bow out, I'll use one to bow in. Both were shot for the launch of LexGo.com. © 2008 Herald-Leader file photo by Mark Cornelison.

If Scott Shive got to use a 6-year-old photo to bow out, I’ll use one to bow in. Both were shot for the launch of LexGo.com. © 2008 Herald-Leader file photo by Mark Cornelison.

And when I arrived here, there was a very distinct divide between editing and writing, writing and photography, etc.

The past five to 10 years have been rough on print journalism, with a steady downsizing and consolidation. I have been blessed to find unlikely opportunity in the change. In the earliest days of my career, I debated whether to follow writing or photography, and in recent years found my way back to taking pictures as part of my reporting work. And even more recently, in short bursts, I have returned to editing, standing in for my editor, Scott Shive, when he was away. It has been fun to return to that craft, making choices and calls that shape issues of Weekender, and our other coverage.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch (1863–1944) - WebMuseum at ibiblioPage: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/Image URL: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/munch.scream.jpg. Via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Scream.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_Scream.jpg

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch (1863–1944) – WebMuseum at ibiblioPage:  http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/munch/munch.scream.jpg.

As many of you probably read last Friday, Scott is leaving for a job opportunity outside journalism. I greeted the news with an image of Edvard Much’s Scream and got misty when I got an out-of-office return email late Friday that read “Scott Shive no longer works at the Herald-Leader.” Our nine-and-a-half years is the longest editor-writer relationship I have enjoyed, and it has been a distinguished one for Scott as he launched our LexGo online entertainment page and revamped Weekender to the most logical and enjoyable format of any weekend entertainment tab I have seen. His broad imagination and vision have benefited readers through nearly a decade of big change in Lexington entertainment and journalism.

But now, it is time for a new era.

Scott’s position is not being filled. But it is being redistributed, and I get to have the fun of directing our local arts and entertainment coverage as an assigning editor, while continuing my work as a writer. It almost has me singing that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus signature song, Best of Both Worlds, but not quite. (There’s a reason I write about singers, as opposed to singing.)

I get to work with the best group of freelance writers in Lexington, led by the iconic Walter Tunis, with the help of our great staff at the Herald-Leader, including Cheryl Truman, who now covers local media for us.

In the last week, I have been getting sympathetic looks from friends and colleagues who know life will be a bit crazier and more challenging without the guidance of Scott, whose departure I mourn.

But I am also excited.

Since I got here, all I have seen is Lexington’s arts and entertainment scene grow and diversify. Who in my profession wouldn’t relish having a part in not only covering that, but directing coverage of it?

A newspaper section is a reflection of its editor. I am not sure what my touch in 2014 and beyond will be. I have some ideas that are about to meet reality. One thing I would really encourage you to do is like LexGo on Facebook and follow it on Twitter, because those outlets are getting more active with news, features and live coverage.

While there may be some subtle changes in coming weeks and months, nothing major is in the plans now. For nine-and-a-half years, Scott has called a really good tune, and I am happy to keep playing it.

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Listening to … Morrissey, ‘World Peace is None of Your Business’

British rock singer Morrissey, the former front man of The Smiths, sings during his concert in Manila, Philippines on May 13, 2012. © AP Photo by Aaron Favila.

British rock singer Morrissey, the former front man of The Smiths, sings during his concert in Manila, Philippines on May 13, 2012. © AP Photo by Aaron Favila.

Twenty-seven years ago, Morrissey sang, “If you think peace is a common goal, that goes to show how little you know,” in The Death of a Disco Dancer from The Smiths’ final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come. 

And if you have sort of missed that guy, you need look no further than the title of his 10th solo album, World Peace is None of Your Businessto know he’s back, at least for one more album.

140714Morrissey-AlbumThe album could almost be more aptly described as a follow up to his 2013 bridge-torching memoir Autobiography as any of his solo albums, which maintained his dark viewpoint but lacked some of the edge of his Smiths-era work.

This album brings back the guy that said by rights Sweetness should be bludgeoned in her bed (joking!), declared England was his and would spit in your eye if you asked why and wished you an unhappy birthday, “because you’re evil, and you lie, and if you should die, I may feel slightly sad, but I won’t cry.”

Moz and his band had a point of view. And that is once again on full display in this album that comes out shortly after Morrissey turned 55, the age at which he said he would likely retire from performing.

While we always got the impression that Morrissey was often just trying to be provocative and funny in his Smiths days, sometimes there were points to be made through the darkness, and there are now. Staircase at the University takes on academic expectations, The Bullfighter Dies derides animal cruelty, I’m Not a Man shreds macho culture, and the title track chastises those who think their voice stands a chance against the military industrial complex.

Then there’s the finale, Oboe Concerto, sending up the old-guy rocker whose friends are falling away. Morrissey was never subtle, even with himself.

To his credit, World Peace sounds far from Morrissey just trying to reclaim his youth. The lyrical voice is the same, but the viewpoint is more mature. And the music is quite a bit more lush and diverse, though sometimes sloppily so. And as acidic as The Smiths’ lyrics were, they were more often than not sung in Morrissey’s lovely tenor, which has aged very well.

If you always found the mopey act of The Smiths and their contemporaries such as The Cure and Bauhaus trying, there is no need to bother with this album. But if Meat is Murder and The Queen is Dead are still in regular rotation on your soundtrack, you might like hearing this guy at least one more time.

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SummerFest honors Joe Ferrell with first lifetime achievement award in outdoor theater

Director Joe  Ferrell looks over the script at the sound booth during a dress rehearsal of the Lexington Shakespeare Festival's "Much Ado About Nothing" at the University of Kentucky Arboretum in Lexington on Sunday July 9, 2006. Herald-Leader photo by Brian Tietz.

Director Joe Ferrell looks over the script at the sound booth during a dress rehearsal of the Lexington Shakespeare Festival’s “Much Ado About Nothing” at the University of Kentucky Arboretum in Lexington on Sunday July 9, 2006. Herald-Leader photo by Brian Tietz.

Longtime Lexington director Joe Ferrell was honored with the inaugural SummerFest lifetime achievement award before Friday night’s performance of Twelfth Night.

The newly established award was created to honor, “an individual who has contributed to the production of quality outdoor theatre in Lexington,” according to a SummerFest statement. While SummerFest itself launched in 2007 at the Arboretum on Alumni Drive, and this summer moved to the MoonDance at Midnight Pass amphitheater in the Beaumont Circle area, the award looks back to the days of the Lexington Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare in the Park, which started in 1982 and played several locations, including Woodland Park and Bell Court.

Ferrell has been part of many of those years, being the go-to director for Shakespearian dramas in the the event’s heyday of the late-1990s and early-2000s and showing a knack for classic and contemporary American drama as well. Ferrell has also made some onstage appearances, including a cameo in SummerFest’s 2008 production of Lord of the Flies. In recent years, he has served as an artistic director for SummerFest, though he is currently on hiatus from that role.

In an interview before SummerFest opened this season, executive director Wesley Nelson said that the award was an effort to honor the past of summer outdoor theater in Lexington as the company forges into the future at MoonDance. He said Ferrell was an obvious choice for the inaugural honoree given his influential service throughout most of the three decades of summer outdoor theater in Lexington.

Twelfth Night continues tonight and Sunday. SummerFest’s second production of this season, Little Shop of Horrors, runs July 23 to 27 and July 30 to Aug. 3.

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