Monday, January 14, 2013

Les Miserables

Les Miserables: I suspect I might step on some toes here, but let me officially go on record as saying, 'meh'.

Having heard about this musical for years, I was expecting more.  Granted I have never seen the Broadway version [1] but I was moderately intrigued.  I had heard snippets of songs and such from various outlets. [2]  So, I had a small amount of preset expectations.

They weren't really met.

I'm led to believe that the movie version tried to make the singing more like acting and less like singing, [3] but whatever it it they were shooting for, it didn't thrill me.

For instance, I always imagined the "I'm Jean Valjean" song as being very emphatic at the end.  Sort of an "I'M JEAN VALJEAN!!!!!!!!!!!! and if the rest of the world doesn't like it, they can bite me!" vibe.  But when I saw it in the movie it was more like, "Say, does anyone know my name?  Oh yeah, that's right.  I'm [mumbles]."

Also sorry Russell, but stick to Roman warriors and crazy scientist.

In truth, at one point I thought to myself, "You know, I could fall asleep right now if they would just stop singing."   Okay it wasn't that bad, but I did find myself a bit bored at times.

I think part of the problem was that the scope of time covered caused them to go a pretty quick pace through the plot.  Thus everything felt way too full of emotions that were not yet warranted.  I'll see if I can capture the idea in a quick scene:

Bob and Carl walk down the street. [4]  They see someone on the other side of the road.

Bob: Who is that over there?  I don't think I have ever seen that person before in my entire life.
Carl: Me neither.  But I love her forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bob: I think it's a dude.
Carl: I hate him forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, that kind of captures it.

With out really giving away anything that might happen in a musical entitled, "The Miserable", one of the characters commits suicide.  When that was happening, I was a bit perplexed.  From what I could tell the character seemed to have a pretty good life, except that every few years he would bump into one of the other characters.  Suicide seemed a trifle bit of an over-reaction.

I understand that I've completely misinterpreted the relationship between the two, but that's sort of my point.  It wasn't really developed.  Everything in the musical happened so fast, with no real build up.

You have a job.
You're fired.
You're a prostitute with no teeth or hair.

Say what?

Also, now that I'm thinking about it, in that scene I made up, I should have actually called Carl by the name Marius.  I don't think there has ever been a more mercurial character in a movie.

I'm ready to die for the revolution.
Ooh! A pretty girl.  Forget that, I'm in love.
Wait, give me a gun, let's fight!
My love is true forever!
To the barricade!

He was like an otter spying a succession of shiny objects.  I don't envy Cosette trying to keep him faithful. [5]

I could write more about this and that, but I'll let it go.  Let me just finish by saying that I hope Russel and Hugh hit puberty soon.

Les Miserables: C-

[1] - Neither live or otherwise.
[2] - The radio, the Internet, the Pook.
[3] - Or some sort of nonsense like that.
[4] - I swear I picked those names at random.  Any relevance to janitors, sci-fi or otherwise, is purely coincidental.
[5] - Or alive.

New Years

I was a bit late on the Christmas post, so here's a nearly equally late post about New Years.

New Years: On the whole this holiday is kind of lame from pretty much all fronts.  Let's start with . . .

The Time Perspective: As somebody once said, "time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future. [1]  Also it's been noted that time doesn't have a start or an end, it just keeps right on going.  Nevertheless, we [2] arbitrarily picked a day to mark as the end/beginning of the period of time it takes the Earth to orbit the sun.  Then we made it into a party.  We could have just as easily picked March 13 or September 25. [3]

I realize that it probably had something to do with the symbolism of winter representing dying and the end.  Combined with the birth of the new year with spring, but if that was really what we aiming for then January should have started on the first day of Spring. [4]

The Holiday Perspective: We just had Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus. It's only been one week!  We realistically can only celebrate so many holidays in a year and the winter has so many of them.  Look at August.  There's nothing.  I'm just saying.

The Celebration Perspective:  And how do we "celebrate" the new year anyway?  Did you do anything, anything at all that actually had any relevance to a 'new year'?

Granted some of you may have made a resolution, but what does that have to do with a new year?  I mean I get it, new year, new chances, new choices.  Or rather that's what it's supposed to be.  Instead it's more like, new year, new chances, same old behavior. [5]

For most the holiday was an excuse to drink to much and wake up in a fog wondering what happened. [6] Of course, that's probably the real point of the holiday anyway.  New Years is like Christmas' drunk step-father.

And the reality of it is that most people are not looking forward to or actually celebrating on New Years at all.  Everyone gets together on New Years Eve.  They party it up and then once midnight hits, Jenny McCarthy kisses some random stranger and we all go home.  The arrival of the supposed point of the celebration is actually the signal of its end.  Seriously when you were anticipating whatever fun you were anticipating for the holiday, I'm willing to bet that what you were thinking of was stuff that you did on New Years Eve and not on New Years Day.

How most people really "celebrated" actual New Years Day was they watched some football and watched a parade.  Which might have actually been exciting if you hadn't just finished watching parades on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

New Years: D

[1] - No, it was not Seal.
[2] - Meaning Humans.
[3] - Except then of course those days would have been January 1st, but whatever.
[4] - a.k.a. March 20th
[5] - Be truthful now.  As I write this it's January 14th.  How many of you who made them are still following your resolutions?
[6] - And thus no different from any other weekend, except that it could actually be Tuesday.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I've been rather busy and somehow have managed not to write anything here for almost a month.  I know some of you were probably anxiously awaiting my post on Christmas, so even though it's come and gone, here you go:

Christmas: I like Christmas a lot.  A lot a lot.  More than any other four holidays put together.  Nevertheless, I can appreciate that it's a holiday chock full of weirdness.  if you take a step outside of your cultural niche and look at Christmas traditions as an outsider [1] and there are some real head scratchers.  So here are a few of the things about Christmas that when you take a closer look at them are really quite strange.

1) Christmas Trees: We have spent a lot of time, effort and money to keep our houses secure.  In essence to keep what's inside our houses in and to keep the outside world out.  Nevertheless, once a year we go out and chop down a perfectly healthy tree and drag it inside.  There we cover it in pretty glass balls, lights and other decorations until it dies.

Then we throw it away.

Why?  Because it's tradition.

Of course, for various reasons some people don't want a real tree, so we invented an entire industry in which businesses make fake trees out of plastic for us.

2) Santa Claus: Those same houses that we built to keep nature out are also supposed to keep unwanted guests out.  However, once a year we wait in anticipation for a complete stranger to invade our houses while we sleep.  He eats our food and then leaves us gifts.

If this were to happen on any other day of the year, you would call the cops and you would eye with a lot of suspicion and such "presents" that were left.  And if those presents were food in any way shape or form, there is no way we would eat them.

However in this case, we allow our children [2] to gobble down anything left behind by this midnight invader.

But wait you say, he's not a stranger.  He's Santa Claus!

Really, what do you actually know about him?  Let's start with looks.  What does he look like?  Have you ever actually seen him yourself?  His modus operandi is that you don't ever see him.  He could actually be a 10' tall Chinese woman and you wouldn't know.  All that we supposedly know about Santa is 100% stuff other people told us.  The kind of testimony that every court in the country would throw out as hearsay.  [3]

Another darker side to the Jolly Old Elf is that he's the ultimate stalker.  Whatever it is that you are doing, he knows!  He's sees you when you're sleeping!  He knows when you're awake!

I've seen this movie, it was called Sliver and it didn't go so well.

3) Fruitcake: I think I've met two people in my life who actually claim to like this stuff.  However, I don't think that I have actually ever seen a fruitcake in my life.  So for all of its purported ubiquitousness, it's quite possible these are about as real as #2 above.

Christmas: A+++
Christmas Behind the Curtain: C-

[1] - An alien from Alpha Centauri say.
[2] - Who it is our duty to protect.
[3] - In the end, I'm not sure if it speaks volumes about our kids gullibility or faith in us that they believe any of this stuff at all.  Last year when we were explaining it to the Bear, I swear the look he gave us was more akin to, "Do you really expect me to believe that?" than anything else.