Dream of the Dolphin
a.k.a.
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
 

Blossoms and Butterflies

I went out the other day to buy shoes for a friend's wedding. After buying a pair, spotted another that I liked even more and bought them, but the first store had closed before I could return the first pair. Now I'm starting to second guess. They both feel pretty much the same on my feet, my dress has pink flowers on it, and I'm wearing a sparkly pink butterfly in my hair. So you tell me: Blossoms or butterflies?



Also, I used to think the ukelele was funny. Then I saw Jake. Holy frelling crap.

( 12:06 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, June 21, 2005
 

Not Dead...

Though I can't say the same about certain people.

I've been busy... had to put together a 2-week curriculum for my Summer Club class, which has consumed most of my free time and all of my sanity of late.

But I did watch the final episode of Doctor Who tonight.

Absolutely. Brilliant.

My face is still damp from crying. It was perfect. I love the Doctor. I love Rose. And God, do I love Captain Jack (how brilliant was his parting from the duo???).

I'm exhausted all over again just thinking about it...

( 11:40 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, June 10, 2005
 

I'm It!

I haven't answered a couple of tags by Sheila, and Jaquandor, so here goes:

The Book Meme

Total Number of Books I Own: I have no frigging clue. Not counting the garage full of books at my parents' house, I have more than enough to overflow my seven bookshelves.

Last Books I Bought:
Non-fiction:
Stepping Through the Stargate edited by P.N. Elrod and Roxanne Conrad (Rachel Caine) -- the "10 reasons I now love Stargate" post is coming sometime soonish.

Finding Serenity edited by Jane Espenson

Fiction:
Fantastic Companions edited by Julie E. Czerneda (yes, it's my book, but contributors only get one copy).

Crocodile on the Sandbank and The Mummy's Curse by Elizabeth Peters

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (it's like The Secret Garden or A Little Princess, but with sixteen year old girls who've figured out magic. Dark and absolutely gorgeous)

East by Edith Pattou -- just about the best fairy tale retelling I've read since Beauty. It's absolutely brilliant.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale -- it was like reading McKinley's Beauty for the first time, all over again.

Last Books I Read:
Non-fiction:
Feathered Dinosaurs by Christopher Sloan
The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark L. Winston

Fiction:
Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb
Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold
Undead and Unappreciated by MaryJanice Davidson

5 Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

This is one of my favourite books ever. Something about it just resonates so much with me. It's on my comfort shelf, and whenever I need to just open up a book and read, it's inevitably the first one I reach for.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

I discovered this book in grade 10, and it has been the first book on my comfort shelf ever since. There's something about it that fills me with warmth every single time I read it. Also a very difficult one to find, before it was finally rereleased.

The Stardoc series by S.L. Viehl

Sheila and her books helped me through one of the roughest periods in my life, and though to say "I wouldn't have made it without her" is perhaps too much of an exaggeration, she certainly made it much, much easier.

Similarly, book 3.5 that means a lot to me is The Steel Caress. Having a book dedicated to me is one of the greatest honours I can think of.

Strandia by Susan Lynn Reynolds

I discovered this book in Grade Seven, as it hung on the cusp of going out of print. I was at the point where I was giving serious consideration to "accidentally" losing the library's copy when I managed to get my hands on one. It remained in the top position on my comfort shelf until it was bumped to second by Beauty. But I still love it. I recently tracked Ms. Reynolds down and sent her an e-mail to let her know how much I'd enjoyed it and how much it had meant to me, and received a very gracious note in response.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of the first books I can remember my father reading to me when I was little. Though I also have memories of The Princess and the Goblin and the Oz books, Narnia is what really stuck with me. I can still hear Dad doing Reepicheep's voice, and I think it's a big part of why I'm able to do readings today. I learned from the best. :o)

The Movie Meme

Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

Upwards of 50 on DVD, and I can't even count the number of now-useless videotapes I had, both official releases and taped-off-TV.

The last film I bought:

Gargoyles Season One Was the last DVD I bought -- and how can you not? It remains one of the best animated series of the last… well, I'd like to say decade, but I suspect it's older now, and that's just depressing. But seriously -- arcing plots, characters developments, and a willingness to approach serious issues and consequences to one's actions -- it was wonderful.

The Incredibles was the last actual theatrical release I bought. For many of the same reasons cited above, actually.

The last film I watched:

Revenge of the Sith in theatre, which I quite enjoyed, although there's a possibility that very shortly this answer will change to Howl's Moving Castle, hurray!

A Series of Unfortunate Events on DVD, which was, despite my fairly mediocre expectations, a really good movie. I still giggle every time I hear the line "stay where you're at, and I'll come where you're to."

Doctor Who -- the Movie on CD. I was admittedly curious, so I checked it out. It was pretty good, but I Russell T. Davis made a very good point -- by forcing him through a regeneration, the movie doesn't really get going until about halfway in, so the pacing is really uneven, and though there are moments of levity, it lacks the sense of humour that makes the new series so very wonderful. And my feelings concerning Grace as a surgeon are much the same as my feelings concerning April Curtis as a mechanic.

5 Films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy counts as one movie, and what a movie it is. I kept getting stern glances (or lectures) of disapproval when I admitted I hadn't read the books, but the movies fix all the things that kept me from engaging with the books, and goes so much further. When we went to see Cavalia, my dad commented that "it looks like the inside of Sarah's head". Which was entirely true. And so does much of Lord of the Rings.

Pride and Prejudice Colin Firth. Jane Austen. Six hours. Do I really have to spell this one out for you?

Peter Pan The theatrical release of this movie was sadly overlooked or panned (no pun intended), but it's still one of my favourite movies of the last five years. It got the darkness that's inherent in the story, without losing any of the magic, and there's just enough of an edge to make it something really special.

The Last Unicorn It's a truly beautiful movie, and one I watched so much as a child that it, along with Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, shaped the way my imagination works, and is largely responsible for my becoming a writer of fantasy. I wish I could say I owned it on DVD, but I can't play the German widescreen release on my computer, and the North American release is crappy transfer of the 20-year-old fullscreen VHS master that's not worth the CD it's printed on. I will freely admit to owning a download of the German widescreen release, which I will happily delete and replace with a DVD when the North American studio gets their act together and releases a proper DVD.

The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth I group these together because they came out fairly close together and did the same thing to my brain that Last Unicorn did. I watched the Dark Crystal endlessly on a videodisk player rented from the library (and let it stand as testament that letting young -- i.e. 3-4 year old -- children watch "scary" un-Disneyfied material like the Dark Crystal will not mentally scar them, though it may lead them to get involved in fandom later in life), and my sibling and I wore out my aunt's tape of Labyrinth. They're wonderful movies brimming with the magic and innocence that the muppet endeavours of late have lost, and I truly grieve for Jim Henson's untimely passing. I would love to know what he was planning next.

And I'm tagging anyone who a) hasn't done either meme, and b) feels like answering.

( 11:56 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, June 08, 2005
 

Self-love

I'm in day five of the offensive against my weight (let's just say I got very sick of my podorthist telling me that the problem with my feet is that I'm fat, and seeing badly-taken pictures of myself that immediately call up the word "moo"), so believe you me, I'm very, very aware of my body right now. And not always in a good way.

So one of Marissa's recent posts really hammered home something important:

...You can do that here: you can see that someone else likes their hands for their skill at music and remember that you, too, have played or sang some pretty cool stuff. You can see that someone else has pretty eyes or great boobs and think, "Hey, mine, too!" It is okay. Nobody will come by and decide that you're a horrible braggart if you look in the mirror and think, "I totally rock these jeans"; nobody will smite you for vanity if you really appreciate having strong shoulders for your loved ones to lean their heads on. I'm really serious about this. It's important to me. Three things. Do it in your head, do it in my comments section or my inbox, do it with your best friend or partner or sibling or whoever. But do it. This is the body you got, and there are at least three things to like about it. I promise.
So I'm answering the challenge. Three physical things that I like about myself:
  1. I like my hair. A lot.

  2. I like that I have enough padding and muscle to give really good hugs.

  3. I like that I'm strong enough to do a side plank now (I couldn't two weeks ago).
There. Challenge answered. It's not that hard. And it's your turn.

( 1:01 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, June 06, 2005
 

There are no words...

If you ever get the chance to see the Lord of the Rings symphony, do it.

200 voices. Featured boy soprano and female vocal soloists. 100 instrumentalists. The images of John Howe and Alan Lee.

I wept when the first chorus swelled. And was weeping at the end of the piece as well. And it's probably a good thing I couldn't find anyone to buy my extra ticket, because I'm really glad I went with Karina. It's the kind of thing you want to share with a really good friend.

The Programme is as follows:

The Fellowship of the Ring

Movement One
The Prophecy -- Concerning Hobbits -- The Shadow of the Past -- A Shortcut to Mushrooms -- The Old Forest -- A Knife in the Dark

Movement Two
Many Meetings -- The Ring Goes South -- A Journey in the Dark -- The Bridge of Khazad-dum -- Lothlorien -- Gandalf's Lament -- Farewell to Lorien -- The Great River -- The Breaking of the Fellowship

INTERMISSION

The Two Towers

Movement Three
Foundations of Stone -- The Taming of Smeagol -- The Riders of Rohan -- The Black Gate is Closed -- Evenstar -- The White Rider -- Treebeard -- The Forbidden Pool

Movement Four
The Hornburg -- Forth Eorlingas -- Isengard Unleashed -- Gollum's Song

The Return of the King

Movement Five
Hope and Memory -- THe White Tree -- The Steward of Gondor -- Cirith Ungol -- Anduril

Movement Six
The End of All Things -- The Return of the King -- The Grey Havens -- Into the West


Okay. To business.

I've blogged before on the coolness of the leitmotifs in Lord of the Rings, but it's truly astounding when you actually hear the symphony how much the music tells the story. And it's not just because you've seen the movie before. You don't even really need the visuals that are projected as the orchestra plays. You can follow what's going on through the music alone. And that is really telling of just how good Howard Shore's music is.

The Symphony begins with a swelling chorus (the Prophecy) that had me in tears, partly because I REALLY wish I could have been in that choir, and partly because there's something about 200 voices swelling together that just really gets me. It moves through the Shire (click the music notes next to the headers), featuring lovely solos on a tin whistle, and really gets moving when the Nazgul show up. And again, you don't need the visuals (though they're there). You can hear it in the music.

In "Many Meetings" for example, you begin with the swells and falls of the Rivendell Elves, and then return to the shire theme. Ah, I thought, Here's Bilbo again. And sure enough, projected on the screen are the illustrations from "There and Back again."

The swelling of the Fellowship theme in "The Ring Goes South" had me grinning like an idiot as the tears fell again.

And my God, is the Moria theme ever breathtaking when heard live.

Gandalf's Lament was the first real kick in the gut, though (and I believe the first time Karina teared up). That soaring voice isn't a woman -- it's a young boy. And Timonthy Lanigan, the 11-or-so-year-old soprano, was otherworldy. It seemed impossible to believe that such a huge, angelic voice could come out of a boy that adorable. He was truly astounding.

There's a moment that's discussed quite a bit, concerning the One Ring theme, and its rather grandiose appearance as the fellowship passes the Argonaths on the river. I think that Jaquandor and others might find it of interest that, of the two-and-a-bit hours of music pulled from the twelve hours of scoring that were used to make up the symphony, this bit of music is retained (though other important points, like Arwen and Aragon, and Gandalf at Isengard, do not appear in the Fellowship movements). As they set out on the journey, the screens show Howe's (or Lee's, I'm never sure) drawings of the map, following the river down. And as the Ring Theme swells, the visual changes to the outturned palm of the Argonath, zooming out to encompass the whole thing. Then, the moment the theme ends, the visual shifts to the ruins and the orchestration switches to the battle with the Uruks (and the first appearance of the Isengard theme), which featured a very cool percussionist banging on something that sounded not unlike a railroad tie. We were most disappointed we couldn't see what it was he was hitting, but the program cites "taiko drums, metal bell plates, and chains beaten upon piano wires".

And Timothy's solo at the end of "The Breaking of the Fellowship" was beautiful.

As good as the first act was, the second was even more delightful.

From the moment I heard the Hardanger fiddle soloing the Rohan theme, the idiot grin was back.

There is also some discussion about the lack of a concrete Arwen theme, but she is represented in Movement Three by "Evenstar", the same chorus of 'Estelio han' that appears on the Two Towers soundtrack, represented visually by sketches of the Evenstar pendant (still my favourite piece of jewelry I own, and I'm still immensely grateful to Sheila Kelly, without whom I'd still probably be fighting with customs for it). The theme was performed by the absolutely astonishing Kaitlyn Lusk, who, at sixteen years of age, is almost like what Judy Garland might have been with operatic training, and most astounding.

I would also really like a copy of her performance of Gollum's Theme, which made me cry again.

And I love "Forth Eorlingas", which featured Timothy soaring above the orchestra with the Rescue theme, which remains one of my favourites.

I still love how "Anduril" mingled the theme of the Rivendell elves with The White Tree.

And as a side note, few things are funnier that watching a woman struggle with the mute for her tuba.

One interesting thing to note in "The Return of the King" is that Aragorn's song (performed by baritone Jordan Stumpf) is echoed (in voice by the inestimable Kaitlyn Lusk again, and in images by drawings of Arwen in her wedding crown), not by the solo that appears on the soundtrack, but by the echoings of 'Tinuviel' that accompanies Arwen's first appearance in Fellowship of the Ring. An interesting change, but as that theme always gives me chills (Kaitlyn raised goosebumps), one I quite enjoyed.

And what to say about "Into the West", but "oh, I really hope it's going to be on Kaitlyn's next CD"?

Back when it was up for the Oscar, I thought that, taken in terms of the songs alone, the Triplets of Belleville theme was actally a better song that "Into the West". But when you take the song in terms of its context and impact within the movie, "Into the West" had "Belleville" beat hands-down.

Tonight really brought that point home.

Oh, I admit that I started crying two hours into Return of the King, and didn't really stop until the movie was over. But I thought it was because of the movie alone. As it turns out, that's not entirely true. A large part of the emotional impact, and the sole reason the closing credits reduce me to heaving sobs, is the music.

And oh, did Kaitlyn ever deliver. When she sang "Into the West", the tears began to pour down my face. And I wasn't alone. Karina was crying beside me, and all around us you could hear the sound of muted sniffling. The music has THAT MUCH power.

It was truly one of the most transcendent musical experiences I've ever had.

( 1:00 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, June 03, 2005
 

Osanna in Excelsis

If you've never actually experienced it, it's difficult to explain quite how sitting in front of a massive wall of pipe organ playing at full volume feels. But when the organist opens up the bass in the foot pedals, you can feel the music begin to swell beneath your feet, and as it grows, it's like you're being carried on this incredibly powerful wave formed entirely of music that's about to fling you out over the audience.

Yeah, the concert went well. :o)

Our band was phenomenal. Our soloist was enchanting. We had everyone grooving at times. True, it was hot enough that we were drenched by the end of the concert (just sitting there in the audience is bad enough, but again, unless you've experienced it, it's hard to explain just how much physical work singing expansive choral music is).

Our Kyrie, which features a chorus of wolves, brought tears to Chris's eyes. And though it sounds really boastful, I listened to the CD of the original Paul Winter Consort performing the mass... and I think ours was better. I prefer it immensely, anyway. For a lot of the really driving pieces, the Consort was kind of laid back and mellow, where we really ran with it. It's that power thing again. Laid-back is all well and good, but when you have a 120-voice choir powering at you, it's an incredibly moving thing.

And on Sunday Karina and I get to go see a 200-voice choir performing the Lord of the Rings symphony. Woot!

Oh, those in the Toronto area, don't forget that Kelley Armstrong is signing at Bakka tomorrow.

( 12:03 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sarah Jane Elliott
The often frustrating progress of my life and writing...

(Once known as "The Mystic's Dream", now known as "Dream of the Dolphin", but inclined to change title depending on what's stuck in my head)

Okay, I liked "Confessions of a Post Graduate Pity Whore" a lot more than I thought I would. That line is still hilarious. But I've started writing again, so it's time to go back to before. :o)





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