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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Anything goes Friday: Marathoning Mythbusters

… is what I’m doing right now. Because I forgot that I had a blog post to write today, and I didn’t plan a subject. And also because I’ve bought every season that was available on iTunes, and since I’ve already spent that much money, I might as well enjoy the show. And enjoy the show I do. It really is one of my favorites.

That sentence was probably more impressive when I had a television, and when I watched more then Myhtbusters, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But you know what? Those other two shows have only started this season, and Mythbusters has been on air for over ten years, and I’ve been watching for almost that long, so that says something right there.

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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Wednesday: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

I know, I know. What a cliché, right? A fan of Jane Austen who favors Pride and Prejudice over all her other novels. One would almost think that is it a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is a favorite of all Janeites. Not only that, but we all wish to be Miss Elizabeth Bennet and marry Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Well, in my case at least, that’s not quite right. It is true that Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen novel. I have re-read it many times. And unlike my slightly manic and obsessive re-readings of Emma in January, I’m not trying to pick up clues about a story untold: I’m simply enjoying the narrative and the writing. I have also re-watched my favorite adaptations – the 1995 BBC one starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, starring Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh – many times.

But I’m not Elizabeth Bennet, quick-witted and arrogant. I do not wish to marry Mr Darcy, proud and reserved. If anything, I am more like Mr Darcy, and would need an Elizabeth Bennet equivalent. (Or I could be an Elinor Dashwood waiting for my Edward Ferrars, or a Jane Fairfax waiting for my Frank Churchill. The great thing about reading all of Austen is that it’s easier to find an analogy that fits you.)

Speaking of adaptations, I’ve yet to see one that depicts the first meeting of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy in a way that truly reflect the book. To give a bit of context, they are at a dance, Elizabeth is sitting down due to a lack of partner, and Mr. Bingley walks up to his good friend Mr. Darcy, standing nearby, and proposes to introduce them, so that Mr. Darcy can invite her to dance.

“Which do you mean?” and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Emphasis mine. Now, I could be wrong, but this is how I’m interpreting that scene.

Darcy isn’t an idiot, he knows that Elizabeth is close enough to hear what he says. And he stares at her until she stares back, before he tells Bingley she’s not good enough for him. This isn’t Lizzie hiding somewhere and overhearing his private conversation like in the 2005 movie version. (And oh, don’t even get me started on that version!) This is Darcy going out of his way to insult her; no wonder she won’t believe he’s in love with her!

And it’s part of what I really like about Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both begin the story believing that they are better then everybody else, and they both have to change to get their happy ending. That’s pretty rare. Usually, in romantic literature, you have one character who needs to change and evolve and learn, and the other is already perfect, or at least perfect for the character they are matched with. Pride and Prejudice doesn’t follow that pattern, and maybe that is why it has been such a success in the time of Austen, and why it remains such a success to this day.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Theater Monday: L’hiver de force

This play was a source of a particular experience in my life, one that still affects how I think about theater and actors to this day.

I was 17 years old, it was my last year of high school, and I had chosen theater as one of my electives. One of the great advantages of that class was that we were given group passes for the French theater season of the National Arts Center. We were going to see four shows over the course of the school year. L’hiver de force was the last of these plays. Based on a novel by Réjean Ducharme, it starred Marie Tifo, who’s kind of a Big Deal actress in Québec. Every one was excited to go.

And then, on the day of the expedition, the teacher tells the class that the performance is cancelled because Marie Tifo is sick. No exchange. (There may have been a refund, we weren’t told, so I guess I’ll never know.)

Most of the students had very similar reactions: “That’s not fair! We’re getting robbed!” “They can’t just cancel like that, because one person is sick. That’s unprofessional. It’s irresponsible.” “Who does she think she is, not even getting an understudy? What a diva!”

Me from the present realizes that the last one is a rather unfair assessment. If anybody is to blame, it is the director: he (or she, I can’t remember nor look it up) should have made sure that there was an understudy. I don’t blame Ms Tifo for getting sick, of course, but you have to have a contingency plan.

To take the most extreme example I can think of, in the first week of January, this year, 12 people in the Matilda the Musical cast were down with the flu. That’s just under half of the cast. That would have been a decent reason to cancel the show. And yet they didn’t. They called the understudies, they called the swings, actors were playing multiple parts (one actor even played five different parts in the same scene), and the show went on.

And yeah, I’m comparing a musical with a straight play and maybe it’s like comparing apples and oranges and I shouldn’t do it, but you know what? If that is the case, then it’s one more reason for me to prefer musicals to plays. At least I’m going to get what I paid for.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: Criticism vs Satire

A propos of nothing in particular.

Merriam-Webster, my dictionary of choice, defines criticism thusly: the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.

It also defines satire thusly: : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc.

I consider myself to be open-minded and reasonable. I can take criticism, not only of my own work, but also of my tastes, especially if I sense that the intent is good. If you think that something I like is problematic for reason XYZ, well, maybe I didn’t notice XYZ, and maybe it won’t affect my enjoyment of the thing I like, but at least I know that you are trying to make the world a better place. If you disagree with my on a matter of morality or of ethic, again I may disagree, but I’ll respect your position.

If you make fun of me, and try to make me look like an idiot for my tastes and my opinions, or my work, for that matter, the best you can hope for is that I’ll dismiss you as an idiot. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if it’s me personally: any kind of person who stoops to satire, I dismiss as an idiot, almost as a rule. (I make the occasional exception for Mel Brooks.)

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Wednesday: The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I have a confession to make: for an author of a Victorian-era-based mystery novel, I have not read nearly enough of the classic mysteries of that era. I have not read Edgar Allen Poe. I have not read Wilkie Collins, although I have recently started on The Moonstone. And I’ve read only two titles from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Scandal in Bohemia, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The first time I picked up Hound, I didn’t finish it, and looking back, I can’t really figure out why, because the beginning is excellent. Holmes and Watson are in the kitchen, and Watson is studying a walking stick that was left behind by a visitor they missed the previous day, called James Mortimer. Holmes, who has his back turned to Watson, asks: “What do you make of this?” Watson exclaims that Holmes must have eyes in the back of his head, and Holmes answers that he has a highly-polished, silver-plated coffee pot in front of him. (And people wonder where Hollywood got the bad habit of portraying Watson as a bumbling idiot.) Watson makes some guesses, Holmes corrects all of Watson’s guesses, and then Mr. Mortimer arrives and proves Holmes mostly right. (Holmes had guessed that the walking stick had been a graduation present, when it was a wedding present.) And then I stopped reading. I can only guess that I figured ‘this can’t possibly get any better’.

I did eventually finish the book, and enjoy it very much to this day. I probably should tell more about the story, but I won’t. You should just read it anyway. Or at least read the Wikipedia article; it covers everything well enough. I will only add this: as good as the novel is, the beginning of chapter one might still be the best part, all in all.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Theater Monday: Don Juan

Don Juan is a very popular literary character; the rich, cynical, hedonistic young man who makes a point to flaunt his lack of respect for the rules of religion and society. and his myth has been told and retold at least a hundred times since the 14th century.

The most famous version of the character, in the french-speaking world at least, is most likely the play by Molière: Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre. (Don’t ask me why he spells it with an M.) That was the version I knew best until about a decade ago, and I didn’t know it that well, really. Only the great lines: Don Juan was a libertine, he killed the father of a girl he seduced and then he had dinner with the father’s statue for some reason, and the statue dragged him into hell.

So when I heard that singer-songwriter Félix Gray was adapting Don Juan as a musical, and I began to hear the singles playing on the radio (which was about ten years ago), I wasn’t exactly pumped. I liked the songs, they were good, but I didn’t want to see the show. But I went anyway, because my grandmother got two tickets and invited me to go with her, and I couldn’t think of a way to say no. I’m really glad I did, though. By the end of the show I was crying. I don’t cry easily, so when I do, you know that you’ve done something right.

The Don-Juan-repentant theme of the musical would not have gone over well with the writers of the 15th, 16th and 17th century, but that’s all right. The Don-Juan-deserves-to-burn-in-hell-for-defying-authority-and-enjoying-a-good-time theme that they exploited is a lot harder to fly in this era. I believe that the myth stayed strong, the archetype is still so well-known today because it evolved with the time. There’s always room for re-invention.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Anything goes Friday: I love Youtube

I’ve been having this really good week in regards to Youtube. This week-end I was thinking about this old tv show I really liked as a kid, and I got a yen to watch it again. “I wonder if it’s on Youtube,” I said to myself, and then I looked, and it was.

And then after my post about Notre-Dame de Paris on Monday, I pulled out the cd because I put myself in a mood to listen to it, and I found the English version concept album. “That’s right! They made the whole show in London,” I said to myself. “I wonder what that was like. Maybe I can find the lyrics or something.” I turn to Google, and one of the first results is a Youtube video of the whole London show. That video let me to the Spanish version, and the Russian one, and a few other things as well. So really, it’s been a good week for me and Youtube.

So I’ll probably spend a good part of Valentine’s Day on Youtube, as it is currently my greatest love. But first I’d like to put some links here, about the blog tour. We had a few hiccups at first, but it looks like we’re off and running now. I’ve had three spotlights yesterday

One on Bakawa’s Book Fair: http://bawakas-bookfair.blogspot.ca/2014/02/the-admirer-by-aurelia-osborne.html

One on Down Write Nuts: http://jrosealexander.blogspot.ca/2014/02/author-spotlight-aurelia-osborne.html

One on Writer’s Inspiration: http://theinspirationalpen.blogspot.com/2014/02/spotlight-on-admirer-by-aurelia-osbourne.html

And one today, at Celtic Lady’s Reviews: http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.ca/2014/02/the-admirer-by-aurelia-osborne-blog-tour.html?m=1

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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