Bat Boy: The Musical

I’m not sure what’s more surprising. That there is a Bat Boy play or that it’s been around since 2001 and this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Yes, it’s Bat Boy: The Musical, the cult hit based on tabloid stories in the Weekly World News about a child with needle teeth and Spock ears who supposedly was discovered in an Appalachian cave in 1992. In the stage version, the demonic-looking half-breed is taken in by a friendly family that tries to teach him to live in civilized society, only to discover that West Virginia isn’t quite as civilized as they hoped.

The story is filled with salacious shocks that might make even Jerry Springer blush, but it also has a serious, even mythic side. It uses the trashy tropes of the tabloids to make a universal statement about prejudice and acceptance.

“It’s My Fair Lady meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” said Damon Dering of Nearly Naked Theatre, who has been frothing at the mouth to direct Bat Boy for years. This week Dering gets his wish, closing his company’s season with an Arizona-premiere production.

Bat Boy, after winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for best Off Broadway musical in 2001, has become a popular choice at theaters around the country. There’s even a movie in the works, with John Landis in the director’s chair, so it’s a good bet the play will be a hit in Phoenix as well.

Allison Stokke and Internet Fame

The Washington Post has a story on Allison Stokke, a high school pole vaulter, who became an internet celebrity when blogs started posting her picture online en masse.

NORWALK, Calif. — Early this month, 18-year-old Allison Stokke walked into her high school track coach’s office and asked if he knew any reliable media consultants. Stokke had tired of constant phone calls, of relentless Internet attention, of interview requests from Boston to Brazil.

In her high school track and field career, Stokke had won a 2004 California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.

“I just want to find some way to get this all under control,” Stokke told her coach.

Three weeks later, Stokke has decided that control is essentially beyond her grasp. Instead, she said, she has learned a distressing lesson in the unruly momentum of the Internet. A fan on a Cal football message board posted a picture of the attractive, athletic pole vaulter. A popular sports blogger in New York found the picture and posted it on his site. Dozens of other bloggers picked up the same image and spread it. Within days, hundreds of thousands of Internet users had searched for Stokke’s picture and leered.

Dawkins’ TED Speech from 2005

Wonderful talk. You can view it larger here.

Richard Dawkins is Oxford University’s “Professor for the Public Understanding of Science.” Author of the landmark 1976 book, The Selfish … all » Gene, he’s a brilliant (and trenchant) evangelist for Darwin’s ideas. In this talk, titled, “Queerer Than We Suppose: The strangeness of science,” he suggests that the true nature of the universe eludes us, because the human mind evolved only to understand the “middle-sized” world we can observe. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 22:42)