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

Free Story!

Friday, December 30, 2005
 

OMGWTFBEARSUIT!

After watching the new Narnia movie, and feeling the desperate need to see it a fourth time, I decided to tide myself over with the DVDs of the BBC production. Now, the production has its faults (incredible scenery chewing, wtfanimated! monsters, and the like), but it's pretty darned good for a TV production on a BBC budget. The Aslan puppet isn't quite as bad as I remember (except when he's walking, and all I can think of is "man, I feel sorry for the guy in there who can't bend his knees"), and all of the lead animal characters have fairly good theatre-quality animal costumes and makeup.

The background animals on the other hand... I just have this vision of the harried BBC wardrobe mistress going to her assistant and saying "go raid the pantomime costumes or something, just get me more animal costumes!"

Every single time I see it, I nearly pee myself laughing at this bear suit:







I love that damn bear suit. It's even better when it's moving, because you can see the bear nodding as the centaur talks to him, and each nod reminds me of the four-year-olds at the museum when they try on the helmets in the armour section and nearly fall over. I wonder how many times the centaur ruined the take as he tried to keep from laughing.

( 12:35 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

I Have Seen the Cowbell...

I'd heard a lot about it, but as I stopped watching Saturday Night Live a long time ago, I'd never seen it. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I can safely say that while I don't like it as much as I love the Chronicles of Narnia Rap, the cowbell sketch is pretty damn funny.

( 12:25 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, December 29, 2005
 

Ha!

You know, it's funny how eerily appropriate Futurama quotes are for Doctor Who icons.

( 12:56 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, December 28, 2005
 

Squee!!!

As if the episode itself wasn't good enough, The Christmas Invasion has a commentary track.

::overflows with geekish glee::

( 1:33 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, December 27, 2005
 

And All Is Well Again

Nothing better to restore your Christmas cheer than an alien invasion, I always say…

I'm feeling much better today. Boxing Day was absolutely lovely. After a nice breakfast with my immediate family, we all shipped out to see Chronicles of Narnia. It was my third time seeing it, but I think my favourite, because it was my father's first time.

Dad and I have a history with the Narnia books. They were one of the first things he ever read to me, and the ones that may have been repeated most often before he stopped reading to me. We once buried a quarter in my grandmother's yard because he told me the soil was as magical as Narnian soil, and for years I checked the spot for a silver tree. So we both had a lot riding on this movie.

Seeing him watch it must have been the way he felt watching my reaction when he read it to me the first time. It was almost as magical as the movie itself (I noticed new things this time around too, like the witch broke Tumnus's horns off, I'm pretty sure she had Aslan's blood in her hair during the battle as well as his mane, and Lucy needed a stepstool to get up on her throne), and when it finished, Dad proclaimed "it looked like the inside of my head!"

He was in such a good mood that he consented to stop across the street from the theatre so that I could spend my Christmas money on clothes. I know it seems superficial that was one of the highlights of my holiday was clothes shopping, but when you lose this much weight all your clothes become really unflattering (before the shop, I had a grand total of two nice outfits that actually fit me), and having a wardrobe of mediums when you used to be XL to XXL that fit you in the right ways can be invaluable for the self-esteem.

My parents took me home where I spent a few hours just revelling in the fact that I was home again, and then it was time for the Christmas Invasion.

I LOVE TEN!!! I loved the whole thing (except Harriet Jones at the end, I hated that, and with all the Torchwood references I kept hoping Davies would sneakily have Captain Jack show up), but there were so many moments of pure unadulterated "squee!" that I was left at the end practically glowing. I loved "yes, I know who you are." I loved "help me." I loved "why is there an apple in my dressing gown?" I LOVED the "wait, he's speaking English." I loved the button you should never, ever press. I loved the glasses! I loved the Satsuma. I loved the Arthur Dent remark. I love the fact that he's different, but he's still the doctor. And the previews for next season at the end -- Sarah Jane! Cybermen! Evil!Giles! Oh, I just can't wait!

Thank you, Doctor. My Christmas spirit has been restored. :o)

( 9:47 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, December 25, 2005
 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone. Some of you didn't get cards this year due to my extreme lack of organization and 38-day-work week, so let me take this time to wish all of you the most joyous of holidays. Have a wonderful time, eat lots of turkey, and take the time to celebrate.

Love,
Sarah

( 11:42 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Saturday, December 24, 2005
 

Feliz Navidad

On my birthday, I introduced Chris, Alice, and Karina to the joy that is "A Muppet Family Christmas". Since I was 11, that is the one holiday special I need to watch in order to really start feeling it's Christmas. Thus, despite the rain, I'm feeling decidedly festive today.

I'm frantically packing my things because after work at the ROM today, my parents are actually making the dreaded trip into the city to pick me up and drive me home (and if that doesn't fill me with holiday cheer, nothing will). I've taken care of almost everything I need to on this end -- Erin and I exchanged gifts last night (I gave her a Predator plush, for whom she promptly knitted a Christmas sweater), the cats are taken care of until I'm home on Boxing Day, I finally got the new Kesh story up on the website and my bills are paid, so all I really have to do now is relax and enjoy.

Last night, on my way home from the ROM, I was walking down one of the side streets in our neighbourhood. On my CD player, Judy Garland was singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", just for me, and every house I passed on that empty street was bright with cascades and rainbows of light. It was one of those precious, quiet moments that I truly cherish, and it finally, after the holiday insanity, filled me with peace.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.




( 8:24 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, December 23, 2005
 

Beauty

This ad is one of the most beautiful pieces of film I've ever seen. No special fx, all in-camera, and absoutely stunning. I don't care that it's an ad. I have neither the need, nor the desire, nor the money for the TV they're selling. But the ad itself fills me with an astounding childlike joy.

I've mentioned the need to stop every once in a while to take joy in the little things.

This is one of them.

( 11:35 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, December 19, 2005
 

Tee hee

For anyone going to see Chronicles of Narnia, this made me laugh.

( 1:51 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, December 18, 2005
 

AAAAUGH!!! MY EYES!!!

I have just discovered the most disturbing trend in fanfiction pairings since Neil Gaiman mentioned Knight Rider slash. It's making the rounds of Narnia fandom, which I inadvertently stumbled upon in my search for icons.

No, it's not Lucy/Tumnus ship, though that's pretty bad in and of itself.

It's Peter/Susan.

I don't know what horrified me more -- the cheerful "I'm a Peter/Susan shipper!" or the giddy chorus of "Me too!" that followed it.

If you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my brain out with soap.

( 5:57 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, December 16, 2005
 

HAGGIS!!!

Okay, it's slightly better than back-of-the-theatre-camcorder quality video, the sound is a bit wonky, and it's tiny, but I DON'T CARE!

Streaming video of an hour-long Enter the Haggis show!

SQUEE!

( 10:29 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Drops in the Ocean

I'd call it "weighing in", but I don't really have much to contribute to what has already been said.

For those in SF/F fandom who've been living under a rock, here's what happened:

Greg Benford said something silly, and Darrell Schweitzer said something considerably less silly. Scott Lynch responded with something intelligent and funny 'cause it's true. So did Elizabeth Bear and John Scalzi, as well as Marissa and Bryn, and others.

I agree with most of what Scott, John, Elizabeth, Marissa, and Bryn have said. I admit I didn't do much more than skim the Benford thing because I get to something like "I walked out in disgust when Harry Potter won the Hugo" and immediately my brain activates its emergency pretentious blowhard filter (for those who are curious, it's very similar to the filter that gets invoked when a fundamental Creationist walks into the biodiversity gallery looking for a fight). You may be a perfectly lovely person when you're not pontificating on artificially created SF/F divides implemented by the marketing departments of publishing houses and bookstores, but as soon as you play your "walking out of the Hugo card", you may still be talking, but it's no longer out of your mouth (thank you, Marissa).

I haven't seen anyone come at it from the bookseller's perspective yet, though, which is where I would like to add my cent (no, I don't have enough new material for 2 cents). I work at the oldest SF/F bookstore in North America, and here's how we divide SF and Fantasy:

We don't.

We have a YA section (and even there, you'll find duplicate copies of many titles on the adult shelf), a magazine section, a media/shared world section, a Doctor Who section, a used section, a reference/art books section, and a "we don't know what the hell this is but it's nifty" section. Everything else is shelved alphabetically by author. As far as we're concerned, it's all speculative fiction. If someone comes in asking for a good book, we'll hand out whatever we think they'll enjoy.

Granted, the majority of positive recommendations (though by no means all) we write out on cue cards and stick on the shelves are, at the moment, on Fantasy books. Which isn't to say we prefer Fantasy to SF, or vice versa. We all have different tastes and preferences, but we all read across genres.

We only recommend books we think you'll like.

Scott does an admirable job of countering most of Benford's arguments (seriously, go read those links, these people are far more eloquent than I am capable of being in my orangeified* state of mind). I particularly like this bit:

a retreat that horrified people like Isaac Asimov. He saw this as just an old intellectual cowardice. But of course, people do it for emotional reasons. They like to pretend that they’re really the princes from another land. But they’re really corporate serfs.

"They like to pretend they're the princes from another land." Again with the ignorant condescension, which is bemusing, to say the least, considering that it's deployed in defense of a sub-genre crawling in turn with the stereotype of rock-ribbed, ultra-competent uber-nerds who break all common rules (and shun all ordinary channels of bureaucracy and compromise that scientists in the real world have to deal with to get things done) to unilaterally inflict sociological or technological change on their societies.

Seriously, what about readers who like to pretend that they're high-tech blaster-wielding space warriors and star pilots rather than corporate serfs? The virtues of science fiction and fantasy are shared virtues; the sins of the sub-genres are similarly identical. Pretending that fantasy is the sole domain of wish-fulfillment and reader-identification is nuts.
And here's the thing that he's nailing -- people have blind spots, which tend to be located squarely in the genre in which they do not write. Bryn mentioned Rob Sawyer's blind spot in Marissa's comments and she hit it pretty squarely on the head -- he's a very nice and intelligent man, who I've heard refer to an entire genre before as "that fantasy crap". This kind of blind spot is pretty typical in the "SF is good and Fantasy is just sword-wielding escapist excrement" argument. You do get the converse "Fantasy is an examination of the human condition and SF is just technical jargon thinly veiled with purple prose" argument, but I haven't seen it quite as often or as vocally.

And it's all theme and variations on the "why is there no good YA genre fiction"/"happy endings vs. depressing endings"/"to be literary or not to be literary" arguments anyway.

I'm also really sick of the whole "Fantasy escapism! Escapism bad! Greg smash!" argument. Is life really happy and carefree enough that you don't need to get away from it once in a while? I'm not advocating living in a perpetual pink-tinged state of euphoria, but when I come home at 10:30 p.m. after working two of my three jobs that day, exhausted and demoralized because some lunatic screamed at me for half an hour about the lack of exit signs at the museum, I don't want to read heavy prose about the futility of life laid on so thick you need hip waders and a shovel to get through it. I want a book that will, for a couple of hours, take me away from all the crap and just make me happy. No, I don't always want this, and I obviously don't think all books should be like this, but escapism has its place and I'm sick of hearing all escapist reading described as offal fit only to be burned. You need a fun, happy romance once in a while. I also don't eat chocolate with every meal, but the world would be a much bleaker place without it.

Seriously though, if you argue that the entirety of the Fantasy genre is "sword-swinging romanticized wish fulfillment", you're not just talking out of your ass, you're placing a big neon sign around your neck that says "hi folks, I'm an under-read idiot". These days I read maybe 5% of the books that come into the store in a month (and that's an extremely generous figure), but I know that there's a massive range of style and plot beneath the Fantasy umbrella, just as I know that SF doesn't consist entirely of babes in leather bustiers attacking giant space robots with their gravity-defying Mammaries of Destruction (yes, I'm looking at you, Baen covers ::ahemNakedLadyWithSeagulls::).

On the other side of things, I can tell you why I, personally, tend to recommend a lot more Fantasy than SF:

Character.

I'm a person who will only really enjoy a book if I can connect with at least one character (I detested YEAR OF OUR WAR, for example, because I hated each and every single person in its pages). If you have a character that hooks me, I'm sold. I'm not stupid, either. I'm no Marissa, but I did get a 4.0 in university Physics and I currently teach science concepts to children (and open-minded adults) at one of Canada's most prestigious museums (say what you will about the museum-devouring silicate amoeba from space). I get the science concepts in the SF books I've read recently. But getting the science isn't enough unless I also care about the characters that are at its mercy. Which is not to say that there are no engaging SF heroes. I just don't find many in the SF books I've picked up recently.

I go to a lot of the character-building panels at cons, and I've noticed a trend. There are often two schools of writers. The "I have no control over this character, he just runs away with the story and I struggle to keep up" writers, and the "I never lose sight of the fact that the characters are merely vehicles through which I tell the story and thus are always under my control" writers. Most (but by no means all) of the former are Fantasy writers. Most (but not all) of the latter are "hard" SF writers.

And here's the thing: it shows. The former writers are the ones whose books I recommend highly, populated by characters I care about. The latter? When I read their books, there is rarely a connection, because even before discovering that the author puts himself (or herself) in the latter camp, their characters read like the little wooden puppets they are to the author.

I would like to point out something else John said, though:
What we need are people who are unapologetically writing science fiction -- and are unapologetically writing science fiction for people who have never read science fiction before. You want new people to read science fiction? You want SF books to matter to the masses? Then do some goddamned outreach, people. Write an intelligent, fascinating, moving piece of science fiction for the reader who has always thought science fiction was something that happened to other people.
Two words: Julie Czerneda.

She's by no means the only SF writer capable of writing engaging hard SF based on valid science concepts (and my friendslist is well enough read that I'm sure between Marissa, Leah, and Karina, they could come up with -- hell, and write, for that matter -- enough good accessible SF to fill a library). But she's the one I'm going to pick to illustrate my point because her characters (one little blue blob in particular) captured me from the outset.

She has her detractors. She's not everyone's cup of tea. And there is a large and vocal contingent who will argue until they're blue in the face that she's not a "hard" SF writer because the science at the core of her books is Biology, and not Physics (say what you will, I dare you to engage in conversation for an hour with a militant Creationist and then say Biology is not a hard science. Yeah, right. And fecal matter is produced by tiny intestinal faeries). But she writes books that I can give my friends who have never read science fiction before, and I know they'll enjoy them. They are accessible. And this happens for two reasons. First, because though she uses really good biology as the basis for her worldbuilding, she doesn't let the science overpower the story. And two, because the characters subsequently affected by this science are not wooden puppets, they're living, breathing characters whose primary function is to make the reader fall in love with them, not to blather on about string theory and FTL drives.

That's what I recommend to people walking into the store off the street. If I know a book will captivate a reader regardless of their level of scientific prowess or familiarity with the tropes, and engage them enough that they'll come back to the store looking for more, I'll pimp the book until the cows come home.

It's a matter of accessibility to the uninitiated reader. I won't restate the very intelligent comments on vocabulary and accessibility in the links I've already cited, but to bring it back to touch on the "not enough YA" argument, how the hell do you expect to attract new SF readers if readers who haven't been reading extensively within the genre for the last thirty years will have no idea what you're talking about? And if you refuse to make things more accessible on the grounds that it's "dumbing it down", then for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, stop whining about the lack of YA SF readers. I won't even argue against the whole "society as a whole is getting dumber" argument because I agree with parts of it (look at most of what airs on Fox), but if you don't like the intellectual level of society, you don't whine about how stupid everyone else is, you do whatever you can to help make them smarter.

And speaking as a teacher, you don't educate by using big words and then lambasting the kids for being ignorant and stupid.

You educate by explaining a concept and then showing them how much fun it can be.

*Orangeified: I had been working straight through since November 8 without a day off, which does funny things to your head by December 3. On the last day of Saturday Morning Club, I realized just how broken my head was when I tried to tell one of my assistants that the garbage was next to the orange chair.

"It's next to the yelllow... the red... the blue, greenthepurpl...GAAAAH!!!"

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the word "orange" to come out of my mouth.

So this is the new shorthand for "my brain has melted down into a gelatinous puddle of goo and is currently seeping out my ears."

OOORANGE!!!

( 10:17 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, December 11, 2005
 

OMGNARNIASQUEE!!!

Did I love the Narnia movie? Oh hell, yeah. Love in a "big goofy grin plastered across my face for 9/10 of the movie" kind of way.

Was it everything I'd hoped for? Not quite. I've been waiting for this movie since I was 4, though, and the nitpicks that bothered me are minor enough that I'm having trouble remembering what they were. All in all, it was a wonderful movie that I'm seeing again (and again, and possibly again if interest and finances permit). I was a little worried when I saw that Disney had gotten their hands on it, but there was no blatant Disneyfication to be found, and the filmmakers did an incredible job.

If you haven't seen it yet, don't read the spoilers. I don't care if you've read the book, these are movie!spoilers, and there were some pretty cool surprises.

(highlight the blank space for spoilers)

Characters

The casting of the children was brilliant. Lucy was the cutest thing since sliced bread (to quote Cleolinda, "weapons grade cute"), and in casting British relative unknowns untouched by the Hollywood machine, you got children delivering an acting performance as opposed to "child actors", which was a welcome change. Whenever Lucy's face crumpled, your heart just went "ping". And I loved Professor Kirke.

The Witch was interesting. Tilda Swinton was fantastic, and creepily luminous, though I haven't yet decided whether her costumes, while cool, were ultimately distracting or not. I loved how her crown and hair kept "melting" as spring progressed, going from huge honking ice crown and frozen dreds in the beginning to crownless and hair unbound at the end. I think the gown changes were only partly successful, though. Sometimes it got the whole frozen thing across, though sometimes I just thought "man, that looks uncomfortable".

The beavers were perfect. Really great CGI, and I adored how they shifted them to a working-class British married couple. ("You couldn't have given me 10 minutes warning?" "Wouldn't have helped.") And when Mr. Beaver showed up in his armour, I nearly died of teh cuteness!!1!

And Aslan -- CGI is still not quite picture perfect, but oh holy crap, did they ever do a good job. I mean -- the mane! And most of the time, there was a definite sense of weight when he moved. But it's very telling of how good the CGI work was that I wasn't actually thinking of the wolves as CGI at all, even when Maugrim was talking.

Three words: Philip the Horse.

But my favourite, favourite character of all was Mr. Tumnus. I don't know what it is about James MacAvoy, but my God, something about him was absolutely mesmirizing, so I'm not surprised they put him on screen as much as they possibly could. And that scene they added with him, the Witch, and Edmund in the dungeon was almost painfully powerful. And I adored his Fancy!Scarf at the end.

The whole Tumnus/Lucy dynamic always seemed almost an afterthought once they get past the first meeting in every other Narnia production I've seen, but this movie brought it out right from the get go and kept it right to the end. I love this so much I can't even put it into words.

Little Things

How freaking cool was it when the White Witch shows up in her battle armour wearing Aslan's mane??? It was so incredibly dark and creepy, and I loved it.

Two words: Stone butterfly.

I also really liked how the German raid at the beginning of the film is echoed by the gryphon raid during the battle (OMGSQUEEGRYPHONS- EVEN-THOUGH-THEY'RE-NOTHING- LIKE-TARENATH-GRIFFIN- ANDCERTAINLYNOTVARIEL!) One of the things that I've never seen done before is establishing that Peter will be a good enough king to justify being called "The Magnificient" (which is still cheesy as hell, but they handled it pretty well). Every other production I've seen, and in the book, it's sort of been "okay, he's a great king because this prophecy says so, and he did let that wolf jump on his sword that one time". But the air raid was a hell of a "holy crap, Peter is SMART!" moment that was brilliantly done...

...SQUEEGRYPHONS!

::AHEM::

I liked how the movie took its time getting started, and really set the tone. They're not going to stay with the Professor (yes, I'm talking to you, cheesy American cartoon version). All those mothers standing at the station smiling and waving and weeping was heartbreaking. The children are being torn away from their mother and sent to some stranger who doesn't appear to particularly want them. The brief view the Pevensies get through the window of the train of that woman checking the little girl's tag and hauling her off like a piece of baggage was beautiful. They really captured the grief that shadows these children from the beginning, and sets Narnia off as a beautiful contrast.

I'm going to quote from Cleolinda here because she says exactly what I want to say:

I kind of want to hug Edmund. They got such a great kid to play him--he's a surly little bastard but he misses his dad and they spend 85% of the movie making him feel like shit for what he did, and shit's like, "HEY! Don't involve me in this!" I'm not even going to spoil the Witch's line in the dungeon when she tells Tumnus what Edmund did, because it's that awesome.

The part in the Witch's sledge is awesome, because you can see her petting and feeding and flattering Edmund with all this sugary calculation and then she just forgets and goes "NO YOU CAN'T HAVE ANYMORE!" It's not even so much that she's faking being nice as that she's faking being human.

P.S. Watch for the lion that Edmund drew a mustache on at the coronation. I can't figure out if the lion doesn't know he's got a mustache and glasses drawn on, or he can't get them off, or he's just so proud that the king drew on him that he doesn't care.


Cleo also made me snort tea up my nose when she mentioned "Our Lady of Soundtrack Woodling". I kind of liked the Woodling, but I know exactly what she means.

The Father Christmas bit has always been one of my least favourite parts of LWW, because even though there are fauns and centaurs and dryads running around with decidedly Norse wolves and giants and things, Father Christmas always seemed too much of a mixed mythos added to the insult of a Santa ex Machina. It was kind of like having Gandalf show up. But that said, I loved that he didn't look a thing like Santa Claus. To quote Kel (I think, unless it was Chris), "he looked like a Santa who'd just been though a war". And they changed the "war is ugly when women fight" line just enough that it didn't piss the hell out of me.

And I LOVE the Weta workshop. So much. This is what happens when geeks do production design. Every time I saw things like the fauns' armour, with slits for their horns, I got this little "go Weta!" squee inside.

Nitpicks

My nitpicks are few and far between, and I think have largely to do with Disney's involvement. The whole "FAMILY IS GOOD" ::WHACK WHACK WHACK:: was laid on just a little too thick, and can we please actually see one of the main characters kill somebody else instead of just inferring it?


But, all in all, a fabulous movie that I can't wait to see again.

( 1:05 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, December 08, 2005
 

Happy Festive Winter Seasonal Holiday

Our concert went extremely well last night, and despite the fact that we made more mistakes in that concert than in any other I've been in, it's also the first ever that resulted in two encores. A lot of that can be attributed to Cassava, who just made the concert fun (I mean really, how many Christmas concerts come complete with a Salsa dance break?), and the fact that with the exception of a few unimpressed elderly folks, everyone was having a really good time.

Geoff said it best when he thanked the audience for their warmth, and told them that we sincerely wished everyone a Feliz Navidad.

I find myself watching with bemusement the tug-of-war that occurs each year between the people who want to make it strictly Christmas and the people who do everything in their power to keep the "Christmas" out of their marketing.

Personally, I think that the militant "Christmas Only" camp is just plain arrogant. I think Marissa said it best when she said "axial tilt is the reason for the season" (which is my new favourite quote). Because there are so many other reasons that people are celebrating this end-of-December.

However, donning my bookstore hat, from a retail perspective -- it's all Christmas. Yes, there are many other festivities that occur at this time of year, but there's only one that sends people flocking to the stores in a state of near-panicked desperation. I also agree with the people who said that renaming the Christmas Tree in Nathan Phillips Square a "Holiday Tree" was stupid, not because I believe that Christmas Trees are exclusively sacred to Christian iconography (I do have at least a grounding in pagan traditions), but because I believe that if you're putting up a big tree and covering it with sparkly things and lights and tinsel, changing the name of it is just shmeerping a Christmas Tree.

That said, I'm also not Christian (I have certain beliefs, but spirituality is a very different thing from religion and it's very personal). The rest of my family is devoutly agnostic, and we do celebrate Christmas, but it's not so much the actual nativity we celebrate as the spirit it represents. The birth of the Christian saviour is a concept that's pretty foreign to my family, but we can totally get behind the whole "peace on earth, goodwill toward men (and women, and flying spaghetti monsters)" thing. No matter what you believe, we can probably all agree that sharing peace and love and togetherness is a pretty good thing.

I love both singing and listening to Christmas music, and don't even get me started on how much I love decorations (my father has put a strict moratorium on my decorations ever since they gave me free rein one year, came home, and my Dad exclaimed "Christ, it looks like an elf exploded in here!").

Hence, though I have nothing agaist the more PC "Happy Holidays," I see nothing wrong with telling people (or being told) "Merry Christmas". I'm not saying "Ha! In this time of holiday capitalism I enforce upon you my personal dogma!", it's a shorthand for "may you have a wonderful day this 25th of December, which chances are you'll have off no matter what your religion, and I hope you spend it in love and togetherness". And if you're Jewish or Muslim or whatever else you may be, I'm still not going to take it back. I mean, I'm not going to say "Oh, then I hope your 25th of December sucks and you're alone and miserable." In the same vein, if you wish me a Happy Hanukah, or Joyous Solstice (which translates to me as "Happy Birthday" anyway), or Festive Kwanza, or Bright and Glorious Draining of the Spaghetti Monster in the Giant Colander of Destiny, I'm not going to say "Bah! I reject your unfamiliar heathen beliefs!" I'm going to say "thank you", and wish you the same in return.

It's not so much the greeting with me, as the spirit in which it is given.

So on that note -- Feliz Navidad.

( 11:23 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, December 06, 2005
 

Who Geekery

Okay, first things first, go to this journal entry and look at the Sylvester McCoy icon at the top.

Ready?

You've seen it?

It got me thinking -- we learn in the new series of Doctor Who that the Daleks call him The Oncoming Storm. But really, apply that label to any of the other Doctors, and I just end up giggling. I mean, maybe One or possibly Eight, but Seven? Six? THREE??? Okay, maybe when you've seen them in action (I admit I started with Nine), but based on physical appearance alone...

Whee!

( 7:27 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, December 02, 2005
 

525,600 Minutes

We finally made it to see the Rent movie yesterday (there were a few rather farcical moments as we tried to figure out a day that worked for everyone), and I have to say, I enjoyed it immensely.

It's not without its problems. I'm told the studio was trying to make an all access movie rather than a fan movie, and it really is a fan movie -- there are too many contrivances to make it anything but, without the original take on it that, say, Chicago had. And the Rentheads are so hard core that no doubt a large portion of them hated the movie for what was changed. But people like me who fall somewhere in between will be just fine, because whatever else it was, it was not the adaptational mess that Phantom of the Opera ended up being.

Let the Spoilers Commence: If you've seen (and listened to) the musical as often as I have, there are a few problems you need to overcome (like the little voice in your head that fills in lines like "Maureen, I'm not a theatre person!"). And if you know the soundtrack, you can immediately identify the lines they've changed from recitative to spoken word. Which in itself is problematic -- it's not anywhere nearly as bad as it is in the Phantom movie, because Columbus and whoever adapted the script had the common sense to alter the spoken text just enough that it no longer scans as recitative. But there's still the problem of lines that work in recitative sounding like soap opera dialogue when you speak them.

And the production numbers that Columbus has turned into serious MGM-style production numbers (with flaming posters instead of confetti) are a bit jarring, as are things like Rogers's "THE HILLS ARE ALIVE" moment in "What You Own" (go on, I dare you not to think that). But at least he lets the production numbers be production numbers, and avoids doing weird close-up shots that completely eliminate any sense of the choreography (Phantom of the Opera, I'm looking at you).

He did cut out some of my favourite bits (ahh, I mourn "Christmas Bells"), but as Chris pointed out, a lot of that was cutting out or toning down the "ha ha, we're cooler than you because we're poor, often by choice!" thing that, while appropriate for the time the musical was written, is not actually something that should held up as a virtue (and you can argue against it, but I spent a lot of time waiting in line for tickets and heard more than one Renthead squeeing over how cool it was to be "living like homeless people".... ::swat:: Besides which, we know too many working artists). Other bits ("Maureen, I'm not a theatre person!") were more to help with flow and pacing, and conventions that might work on stage but not on film (for example, it's generally difficult to introduce eight main characters at once). And while I did miss some of my favourite bits very much, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the movie at all.

Casting 90% of the original cast was a very good thing. For one, they can really sing (taps foot and raises eyebrow at Gerard Butler, hot though he may be), and the new additions of Mimi (which is probably a good thing, as Daphne Rubin-Vega could never, ever pass for "you look like you're sixteen" on the big screen... or small screen for that matter) and Joanne hold their own. And you can really, really see the chemistry that they all have after working with each other for so long. Not to mention, they're our cast, we already know them and have a fondness for them (unless you hated the musical, but that's another problem), and they already know the characters inside and out.

Columbus also does smart things with the non-production number and cuts them down or into sequence or flashback rather than letting them stop the momentum of the movie while the characters monologue or duet in song ("I'll Cover You" was especially lovely). And there are moments, montages, and segues that had me sobbing because he just did good things with them. Other than that, he lets the actors do their thing with the characters they've been doing for years (say what you will about Anthony Rapp, Mark is just cute).


The film is, in all, not a particularly good or inspiring movie, but it is a fabulous musical. The result to a fan of musicals, unless you're a die-hard Rent purist or someone who despises anything not written by ALW, is a movie that you'll love despite its sometimes glaring flaws.

I for one can't wait to see if there's a cast commentary on the DVD.

( 1:37 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, December 01, 2005
 

Not Long Now...

Not long now until Narnia opens. And to help ease the wait, they've put the nine minute Narnia supertrailer online. Woot!

( 10:23 AM ) 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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