September 11th, 2005

tell me a story [lizzieb]

Beauty and the Beast - the play/musical

So, “Beauty and the Beast” is possibly my favorite fairy tale, and I actually love the Disney movie (a serious rarity for me) so of course I had to see the high school production of it.

The sets and costumes were intense like whoa. The mic-ing frequently copped out, which was frustrating.

The play is much more a straight-up musical than the film -- i.e., very little talking, with everything being done via song. I last saw the film less than 2 years ago, so partly I had that in my head and felt like the added songs were padding and more to the point very bleh songs. The songs in the film are primarily very fun. Here there was a lot of “Have a character explain his/her emotions/situation through song” which did not impress me.

[songs from the film, in alphabetical order; songs from the musical in order of appearance here and here]

“The Prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart.”

I forget exactly how it’s phrased in the film, but this bugged me because hi, you can reject one person for completely illegitimate reasons and still be very capable of loving other people.

“There must be more than this provincial life.”

I had recently read oyceter’s post on Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen, in which she mentions court stories, so the idea of court life was in my head. [Incidentally: I need to stop reading the comment thread on that entry, because I remember loving the book, and while I can’t actually counter oyceter’s criticisms -- in large part because I don’t remember the book well enough -- it hurts. I was also surprised to see so many commenters recommending the sequel The Summer Queen because I remember Emma -- who recommended The Snow Queen to me -- telling me The Summer Queen was a bad book.]

Anyway, I was noticing this time ‘round the repetition of “this provincial life” and of course “provincial” can mean literally of a particular geographic area, also having a limited/narrow perspective, and finally unsophisticated. Belle’s complaint is that the villagers are so limited in their ways of seeing things, but I was thinking how it could be interpreted as a slam on village life in general, especially since she talks about wanting to escape to the lands described in the books she reads and the happy ending to a fairytale usually involves absorption into a high court. [My decision at the end was that Belle doesn’t buy into that dichotomy, but since the story does end with her escaping the village to live in a castle full of servants with a prince, I do find it somewhat problematic.]

“No Matter What” was an interesting addition because the Belle of the film never shows that kind of insecurity. (And its line about her being her mother’s daughter reminds us that she is mother-less. And I for one didn’t know the woman playing Belle and had wondered if that opening scene was Belle’s mother and Belle.)

I liked that the wolves’ attack of Belle’s father was stylized into a pseudo-ballet.

An interesting addition to Gaston’s awfulness was his pre-proposal encounter with the Three Swooning Girls where he basically says he’s been sleeping with them and will continue to do so even after he’s married. [I can’t find it on any pages, but basically they’re all weepy and he says surely the fact that I’m married won’t change your feelings for me, and they say no no no, and he says they’ll continue having their rendez-vows and they say yes yes yes.]

I disliked the heavy-handedness of Gaston’s proposal -- “You've been dreaming, just one dream, nearly all your life; hoping, scheming, just one theme: Will you be a wife? Will you be some he-man's property?” I was also confused that the next time we see him he’s all “She rejected me!” because the song ends with him so deluded with his own sense of self-greatness that he doesn’t seem to recognize it as a rejection at all. (I remember it being a flat rejection -- and a shorter scene, period -- in the film.)

They gayed up Lefou just a touch. ♥

They sexed up Babette (the feather duster) some (her flouncing into Maurice’s lap), which was interesting.

The “No no no” “Yes yes yes” “I have been burnt by you before” exchange bothered me more than it usually does (even though I last watched the movie after watching Mickey Mouse Monopoly).

I heart Lumiere far more in this version than I do in the film, though.

The creepy Msr. D’Arque was an interesting addition (in the film we see the man who runs the insane asylum little if any) though he felt like a Dr. Orin Scrivello DDS redux (in large part because his straightjacket covered chair was clearly a dentist’s chair with the high back).

After Belle swaps places with her father, she sings a song added to the musical that includes the lines “ Never dreamed that a home could be dark and cold,” and I thought that nicely undermined the fairy tale fantasy that castles are always glamorous wonderful places.

The idea that the servants are turning more and more into objects (as the spell nears unbreakableness) was an interesting and sinister addition. And it made the always disconcerting “We live to serve” opening bit of “Be Our Guest” even more disturbing.

And later the Beast sings [again, can’t find this song] how “there’s so little left inside me” and after the bit about the servants turning more and more into objects that was troubling to me because one could easily extrapolate that the Beast is becoming more and more beastlike due to the spell and thus his actions wouldn’t be his fault. In the film we never get any sense that he was cursed with anything more than an outward appearance -- all the “beastliness”of manner is internal to him -- but this song added in for the play could lead one to think differently. Though admittedly it could just be a reflection of his lack of contact with others (while Cogsworth and Lumiere are talking about the servants turning into objects, one complains about why they are victims of this spell, and the other counters that they have let the Master become how he is)

Belle runs away and the Beast follows her and fights off the wolves and then falls, wounded. This is in both versions. In the musical, she leaves him and is almost at the edge of the stage before she turns and goes back to tend to him. I was impressed by this, that she doesn’t immediately fall to tend to the wounded protector/savior. I think she does immediately tend to him in the film, and I don’t mind it, but I was impressed that this Belle was so determined to leave.

So they go back to the castle and she tends his wounds and Mrs. Potts makes soup and he tries to be good and then WHAM, cue “Something There.” In the film, we here this song while watching a montage, so we get the sense of time passing, whereas here it seems far more forced because it is so immediate.

“But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined.”

The “unrefined” really threw me this time ‘round -- probably because of the aforementioned attunation to court-type stuff. She accused him earlier of being rude, and holding him to basic standards of politeness is valid, but “unrefined”? To me that reeks of high class life, which is not a life Belle comes from. Granted, she has read lots of books; but the way the song is it doesn’t feel like she’s holding him to what she thinks is a standard appropriate to his life but rather that she is holding him to the standard she has for people in general.

I do love the King Arthur scene, though. The one addition I wholeheartedly support. Lumiere knows from their tour of the castle that Belle loves books (and also that she has yet to see the library) and the interaction between Belle and Beast feels so true to their characters.

After the song the Beast holds himself more like a gentleman and just generally behaves like he is a human being rather than being so conscious of being a Beast (which follows nicely on how the book took him away from who/what he was -- which also added a nice note of kindred-spirit-ness between Beast and Belle) and I totally buy their relationship after the song, but the song itself felt so immediate and forced and if the play wasn’t gonna make attempts at showing a passage of time while it sang, I would have preferred that they just cut the song.

“Human Again” is another addition, and it emphasizes how important it is for the servants that the spell be broken, which adds a poignancy that isn’t the film -- particularly since it is sung in front of Beauty and the Beast (who are on the stairs reading King Arthur).

The singing of “Tale as old as time...” sounded so much like the film; I was impressed.

The Beast lets Belle go to find her father, and he gives her the mirror, and I’m not sure it had ever occurred to me before that this meant he could never see her again. He was giving her a huge gift.

Gaston says he can keep her father from being committed and I thought, “For the second time she is being asked to give up her freedom to save her father.” I had actually forgotten about the mirror as the device that moves the plot to its next point.

“If I didn't know better, I'd think you had feelings for this monster.” This time ‘round immediately conjured up images of the Beast as a black man. Not entirely sure why. I mean, they are basically a lynch mob, but I don’t usually think of the Beauty and the Beast story as a racialized one (though it could certainly be played that way) and I don’t think I’d particularly read anything about race recently.

“Screw your courage to the sticking place!”

For the first time I noticed that that’s from Macbeth. (Probably because I’ve read Macbeth twice in the last year.)

The fight scenes -- both mob vs. castle and Gaston vs. Beast -- were so much shorter than in the film as they’re hard to execute on stage whereas they’re so much fun to do in animation. I was saddened.

In the film, the prince gets whirled around in a magic swirly thing, and they actually translated that to live-action, with women in black (who had earlier played the wolves) lifting up the beast and removing his mask, gloves, and overshirt. I knew I was watching the film action translated into live action, but even with knowing that it felt strange (because you watch Belle slip away from the fallen Beast and then stand and watch as darkclad figures hold him up and turn him around). I would have preferred to have him fade in her arms (probably her surreptitiously removing his mask and him surreptitiously removing his gloves) but I suppose it would have been harder to dramatize her shock that way. I wish I had been watching Belle more than the Beast because my father said her expression wasn’t very much one of shock. The lines indicate that it should be, though.

Prince: Belle, look into my eyes! Belle, don't you recognize the beast within the man who's here before you?
Belle [looks directly into his eyes for a few beats, then]: It is you!

He looks like Westley in The Princess Bride movie, but with a very vacant look. Though the prince at the end of the Disney film I think looks the most vacant of all the Disney princes if I recall correctly. (I was discussing with my father, and the only Disney princes who actually do anything are also the only ones who get names -- Phillip in Sleeping Beauty and Eric in The Little Mermaid. My dad mentioned how the princes are what the stories are leading up to but the story really isn’t about them at all -- they’re no more than a device -- though this lack of story does let you project your own desires onto them. Writing this about princes who do things I remembered Aladdin. That’s an interesting reversal because he is the commoner marrying into royalty, he is the one whose story it is; though Jasmine gets a name and action of her own.)

I liked the framing of them telling the story to their child. (Fits nicely with the refrain of Angela Lansbury’s song.)
you think you know...

meme

wisdomeagle got this from violet_quill and inlovewithnight and so of course I had to try to track it down to its source. I followed it 7 back from violet_quill to nentari but ze must have it flocked, ‘cause I can’t find it so yeah, dunno who started this one.

The object of the game is to stump the person writing the journal. I've been writing in my live journal for [over three years], and can't possibly remember all the topics I've talked about in that time.

Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to go into the archives of my journal and pull out a random quote from some time, some year, and then my job will be to see if I can remember what I was talking about. You tell me if I'm remotely right or wrong.

Nope, I can't peek, and you'll have to trust I won't. :)

Please don't pick a quote that's so random that it could apply to anything, like "feh" or "Damn it!" or something equally generally. Pick something that might actually be about something, but not so blatantly about something that I'll have to guess what I'm talking about.


My instinct is to think I have a great memory for details when it comes to LJ, but I know every time I go hunting through my archives I find things I had forgotten about.
hug

and a poll

Poll #568306 on how to comfort

When you're upset about something, which do you usually prefer to hear?

some variant on "cheer up"
2(11.1%)
"I'm here with you in your pain."
16(88.9%)
small girl in big world [_extraflamey_]

four years . . .

Last night was a rip-roaring game of Monopoly with Michael's friend Tony. It was fun until I went bankrupt, but I've been led to believe that's really how the game is supposed to work. Michael kept throwing the dice a little too hard, knocking houses and hotels willy-nilly. Apparently natural disasters follow us wherever we go.

No word on Ophelia yet. If she does come this way, I'm going to have to scatter some rosemary to the wind. You know...for remembrance.
-Joe



My mom mentioned there was some same-sex marriage type bill up in the legislature so she thought this Sunday would be a good Sunday to not go to UCN. Of course I kinda like making trouble, so that made me want to go. Plus, I had thank you notes to drop off.

I had been reminded a couple times that today was September 11th (passing it on the calendar at work a few days ago when I went to schedule something for next week, and glancing at my phone after midnight last night before I charged it).

So there was no way I was going to the liberal Congregational Church this Sunday.

Quickly checking my flist before church I saw Alice Sebold’s (author of The Lovely Bones) NYT piece.
Do the dead wish you to suffer? Do they want you to watch CNN and Fox News for days on end? Do they want your guilt or pity? All of these things are like jewels to them. In other words - valueless where they have gone.

[...]

Whatever it is that comes to you in three months, six months, a year or more, don't turn the page of your book and forget, don't stab the elevator button trying to hurry up the trip. Stop.

These tragedies, it's worth remembering, grant us an opportunity to understand what is perhaps our finest raw material: our humanity. The way we at our best treat one another. The way we listen to one another. The way we grieve.

[...]

So grieve for the particular lives that come to you. [...] Let them guide you to understand that it is our absolute vulnerability that provides our greatest chance to be human.
I had forgotten that today is the Sunday after Labor Day and thus “Homecoming Sunday” at UCN (which also means Communion, which I continue to not take there). Assorted people I had hoped to see were not in attendance, sadly. (Though John P.’s father just died, so it was understandable that that family was absent.)

I don’t know what it was specifically that my mom had been thinking of, but there was no mention of anything in church. I was disappointed.

UCN always opens now with “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That no mention was made of what happened on this gorgeous day four years ago made me uncomfortable.

PB did talk a bit about Katrina and the special offering they were taking -- to be funneled through the Salvation Army. I’d seen the letter that got sent to our house and it said something about “to minister to the people . . .” and I was discomfited ‘cause I was like, “Are you just gonna go preach to them or are you gonna minister to their physical needs?”

One of the opening Worship Sequence hymns was “Victory in Jesus.” I was discomfited by the incessant “victory” theme in the song, especially because the song never makes clear what the victory is (over). The “He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood” line implies to me victory over sin, which would have been my guess anyway, but I would have liked some sort of clarity.

I had recently read The Signs that We Missed, which quotes Holland telling Angel, “We have no intention of doing anything so prosaic as 'winning.' [...] See, for us, there is no fight. Which is why winning doesn't enter into it. We - go on - no matter what. Our firm has always been here . . .” Yes he’s talking about Evil, but I rather like the idea of just living one’s life the best one can, of not viewing it as a contest with winners and losers. (See also my interest in being a witness with one’s life.)

[Of course, now I have the blasted song stuck in my head.]

The Unison Reading was the UCN Church Covenant which as per usual I recite maybe ten percent of. For the first time I actually read the line, “Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit to a common life which is characterized by the love of Christ,” though. I had always connected the “love of Christ” phrase with the worship-of capacity that UCN so often places Christ in (and which doesn’t resonate with me and in fact makes me uncomfortable) but reading it today it occurred to me that it could be interpreted as something more like “abiding in Christlikeness,” which I am all over.

Jeff gave the Children’s Message because Tim&Carla were absent. He said Tim was “crying in New York” and I was confused, thinking, “Is John P.’s family in NY?” (‘cause I know the families are good friends) but then he explained that Tim had gone to NY to see the Yankees game (and of course the Red Sox clobbered them last night). He then cracked that God likes us/the Red Sox better. Wow, way to make me wanna weep while bludgeoning you. (Unfortunately, as soon as the service was over, Jeff was talking to people, and then I was talking to people, and then he left, so I have to write him a note calling him on that.)

Then he talked about the name of the church (which immediately made me think of when Joe F. gave the sermon last time I was at UCN and mentioned that unity != unison) and he referenced Ephesians 2 about how we are not strangers (looking it up later, I imagine he meant the whole “One in Christ” section) and asked the kids to look at the people next to them and talked about how they’re not strangers and how we’re all part of the family of God (the title of the offertory selection to follow, I noted), we’re all brothers and sisters with God our Father. And then he closed with a prayer and dismissed them. Shortest Children’s Message evar.

The Scripture reading was Mark 2:12 and the sermon as “Christlikeness: Forgiving.” I was confused as I always read that story as one of the proofs of Jesus’ divinity. I don’t think of “forgiveness” per se as one of Jesus’ biggest messages, but I’m not about to get all opposition-y on the matter. He talked about how Christlife “desires and requires” forgiveness, and I thought about one of the few UCN Covenant lines I will willingly recite -- “Together we will pursue the ways of forgiveness and reconciliation, and as Jesus taught, do it as quickly as possible.” On the whole I was unengaged by the sermon and totally dozed.

And dude, we got out at 5 minutes of 11. Have we ever gotten out early?




Oh, and I got sidetracked by the whole “I am newly unemployed” thing so it didn’t get posted, but I am a huge sap and the NYT Op-Ed I read last Thursday morning on the 1906 SF earthquake made me all teary.
The mayor, a former violinist who had previously been little more than a puppet of the city's political machine, ordered the troops to shoot any looters, demanded military dynamite and sappers to clear firebreaks, and requisitioned boats to the Oakland telegraph office to put the word out over the wires: "San Francisco is in ruins," the cables read. "Our city needs help."

[...]

To the great institutions go the kudos of history, and rightly so. But I delight in the lesser gestures, like that of the largely forgotten San Francisco postal official, Arthur Fisk, who issued an order on his personal recognizance: no letter posted without a stamp, and that clearly comes from the hand of a victim, will go undelivered for want of fee. And thus did hundreds of the homeless of San Francisco let their loved ones know of their condition - a courtesy of a time in which efficiency, resourcefulness and simple human kindness were prized in a manner we'd do well to emulate today.

-from "Before the Flood" by SIMON WINCHESTER (NYT - September 8, 2005)
tell me a story [lizzieb]

And in completely shallow news:

Is Lily (Evans Potter) a redhead in canon? If so, why did I never notice that when reading the books?

Also: mosquitoverse.com
A Firefly tribute/parody heavily based on the “Making Of” DVD featurette. Hysterical and brill. I have one complaint that I am trying to pass off as an extension of the exaggerative nature of parody.

Ari? Do you or anyone else have Fred/Wes recs to give Rana?

And: Child "Pirates, Tea Parties, and other Fae creatures" (65 icons)