An Impressive Raoul

I just happened to watch this video of Phantom‘s original Christine and Raoul, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton, and I was so impressed that I had to share it here. You see, I was never too familiar with Steve Barton, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve heard him sing for more than five seconds. Now that I have heard him, I am officially impressed. He has got to be the best Raoul I have ever heard. He just encapsulates the character so well, bringing out both his gentle nature and his firm determination. I mean, I loved Hadley Fraser’s performance in the 25th anniversary, but after watching Steve Barton, I was ready to stand up and applaud–and it was just a video!

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Mauve Alert! New Doctor Who Trailer!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Doctor Who will be exploding back on to our screens on August 23, but now we have definitive proof…now we have a trailer.

All I can say is I am about ten times more excited now seeing Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Such gravitas! Such presence! Such flat-out awesomeness!

…when is August 23 again?

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Slowly but Surely, We’re Getting More Sherlock!

The BBC announced earlier today that filming for the fourth season of Sherlock will begin in January 2015, with the show itself returning at a later date. This time we’re getting four episodes, a special episode followed by the three regular installments.

We still have a ways to go before the great detective returns to our screens, but at least Holmes and Co. are starting to plod in our general direction. Ah, well, at least Doctor Who is coming back next month.

http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/07/surprise-sherlock/

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Violin Review: Mendini MV300

This is a slightly different post today. I’ve decided to talk about the student violin that I own, the Mendini MV300 by Cecilio. I’ve had it since December (I started playing in October but had a different violin then), so I suppose you could say I’ve really had a chance to break it in and get the hangs of its pros and cons. The MV300 tends to get a bad rap, but I think that’s rather unfair. For a beginner violin, something to just get you started with playing, you’d be hard pressed to find something better.

In every aspect this is a real violin–it won’t get you into Carnegie Hall, but it will help you learn the groundwork for getting there. (If I’m wrong and someone out there did play this for their Carnegie Hall audition, please post a video because I would love to see that.) It’s made of wood, which is important. Mine did have a few dings/scratches around the peg box, but it isn’t anything that negatively impacts the playing; it’s really just cosmetic. And speaking of pegs, the ones on mine were a little hard to tune at first; however, after a few weeks my violin became the easiest thing ever to tune (way easier than my old one–some frustrating memories there).

According to a violin repair man who checked over my MV300, some Mendinis have had problems with wood quality; I’m putting that out there to try to provide a balanced review. And you might want to put some new strings on it (and possibly invest in better rosin). But honestly, I am really happy with this violin and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning.

If you need some extra persuasion, check out this review from Alison Sparrow the Online Piano and Violin Tutor. She’s a professional violinist with twenty years of experience who reviewed the Mendini MV300 and was really impressed.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Horns of Nimon”

Today’s classic Who serial stars Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as his Time Lady companion Romana, with David Brierley replacing John Leeson as the voice of K-9 (although Leeson reprises his role in future episodes). This was a peculiar little outing; it was a combination of an intriguing plot and some over-the-top acting.

First, though, let me get my biggest complaint out of my system–the Nimons’ design. They looked like hairless bipedal guinea pigs with horns attached. The Nimons themselves were a great concept; they were just let down by poor costuming. This is why people laugh at us! If the Nimons ever grace our screens again, I really hope the powers-that-be make some modifications. With as much potential as the Nimons had, they deserve a second chance to knock our socks off and send us cowering behind the sofas, and they can’t do that while resembling hairless, bipedal, horned guinea pigs.

Soldeed, Chief Scientist of Skonnos, was their unwitting ally. He was your typical power-hungry mad scientist, but it was a role I believe could have been more interesting if the acting hadn’t been so over-the-top. It wasn’t always played that way; Soldeed had moments of seriousness that really made him stand out as a character. I only wish the character had been played that way throughout; it would have made him far more fascinating and sinister. He did have a great evil laugh, though, and I must admit I really liked his facial expressions always made him look unhinged.

These flawed aspects don’t counteract the story itself, which I found to be even more interesting as the episodes unfolded. Tom Baker was in fine form as the Doctor, and Lalla Ward really had a chance to shine. Separated from the Doctor for part of the story, she takes charge fluidly and effortlessly, and it’s easy to tell just how much she’s learned from the Doctor during her time on the TARDIS. So I would say that if you don’t want to watch The Horns of Nimon for anything else, watch it for one of Lalla Ward’s most memorable Romana performances ever.

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Liebster Blog Award…Again

So I’ve been nominate for another Liebster Blog Award–I don’t care how long I’ve been blogging; I will always be surprised when this comes up. This nomination came from my friend Pearl of Tyburn, who runs the movie review blog Behind the Silver Screen. Thank you to Pearl for the nomination, and let’s get started!

  1. What do you consider the greatest movie of all time and why?
    I would have to say The Return of the King. Everything about that movie was on a grand and epic scale, and it brought one of my favorite books to life in a stirring way.
  2. What do you consider the worst movie of all time and why?
    Plan 9 from Outer Space. I couldn’t even sit through the entire thing; it was that bad.
  3. Who is your favorite actor/actress?
    Since you didn’t specify that it has to be a screen actor or actress, I’m going to go ahead and say John Owen-Jones. He’s an extremely talented Welsh singer and stage actor who is renowned for his portrayals of the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. I like him because, well, he’s good–and because when I first heard him as the Phantom, I was extremely happy because he had the voice I always imagined for Erik when I first read the book.
  4. Who is your least favorite actor/actress?
    I don’t know if I have a least favorite or not, but I think Kristen Stewart needs to start including things like, y’know, facial expressions.
  5. What scene from a movie do you find the most inspirational?
    The charge of the Rohirrim from The Return of the King. I always want to charge headlong into a pile of orcs after watching that.
  6. What movies have mad you laugh the most?
    Definitely The Princess Bride–also the Shrek movies (especially Shrek 2), The Rocky and Bullwinkle Movie, and anything shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
  7. What movies have made you cry the most?
    I’m not actually a crier when it comes to movies. I’ll start to tear up during Les Mis when we get to Valjean’s death, but that’s about it.
  8. What movie do you find the most hokey?
    Pretty much any Godzilla movie out there, but they’re hokey in endearing ways.
  9. If you could only watch one more movie forever, what would it be?
    Hmm…that’s kind of tricky, but I think I’ll go with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. No, it’s not as good as the book, but it’s a worthy movie in its own right, and it has one of the best closing numbers of all time. It helps that they have an incredibly good singer to close out the movie.

  10. What are some movies you’ve wanted to watch but never gotten the chance?
    I definitely want to see the 1984 edition of Dune. So far I keep managing to miss that one. Also, the French did a live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast earlier this year that looks pretty interesting judging by the trailer, so I’m waiting for that to make its way over to the US.
  11. What are your top 5 movies you would like me to watch and review?
    Frankenstein (1931), Phantom of the Opera (1943–warning: multiple scenes of Nelson Eddy hogging the stage),  La Belle et la Bete (1946), The Princess Bride (1987), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

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Apparently I Missed Towel Day, Too

Not only did I forget to post anything for Star Wars Day, but apparently this past Sunday, May 25, was Towel Day, the official appreciation day for Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And I missed that, too. I can never remember when it falls, but now that I know for certain it’s May 25, it’ll be easier to remember because that’s also the birthday of one of my friends.

In an attempt to make up for missing Towel Day, here’s “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” from the 2005 movie.

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