Happy Birthday, My Turn to Talk!

Three years of My Turn to Talk! Three years! And I thought I would run out of things to write about after three weeks!

Just as always, a lot has happened over here in the last year. We said hello to the Twelfth Doctor and bade a fond farewell to Middle-Earth; we discovered that the TV show¬†Resurrection was based on a book; we learned that the Incarnation was totally going to happen in Middle-Earth; we talked about different musical versions of The Phantom of the Opera apart from the well-known Andrew Lloyd-Webber version; we’ve started geeking out about The Force Awakens and the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast–heck, we even found a song that celebrates books!

As always, you, my fine readers, are the best part of this endeavor. There are 1,647 of you according to my site stats, and that is way, way more than I ever thought I would get. Okay, I’ll be honest; I was pretty sure that number would be 0. Just knowing that you’re out there and (hopefully) enjoying what you’re reading brings an extra bit of enjoyment to something I already enjoy doing–writing.

Happy Birthday, My Turn to Talk! Here’s to the next year!

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Book Review: “Dune” by Frank Herbert

This is one of my all-time favorite books, and I decided to write a review for it to honor the 50th anniversary of its publication. Dune has been called the greatest science fiction novel ever written; legendary science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke admitted, “I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings.” It spawned seven sequels (two of which were penned by his son Brian Herbert and Brian’s friend Keven J. Anderson) and a multitude of prequels, but none of them (in my opinion, anyway) can ever quite match the one that started it all.

Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, the fifteen-year-old son of Duke Leto Atreides, as his family moves from their ancestral home on Caladan to the desert planet Arrakis, home of the much-coveted spice. Spice is used for a multitude of reasons–for regular people it prolongs their lives; for the Guild Navigators it enhances their prescience so that they are able to safely navigate space, and for the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood it enhances their Truthsayer abilities. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the richest planet in the known universe…and there are some who will stop at nothing to exactly that. But the politics are just the backdrop of the story; something much bigger looms on the horizon, and Paul is at the center of the storm. Exposure to the spice triggers a change in him…will he become the Kwisatz Haderach, a male with the powers of the most adept of the Bene Gesserit Sisters? Or is he becoming something else entirely?

This is only a small portion of the plot–much like LotR, Dune has a vast, epic landscape that captures your imagination and sweeps you off on a journey you never dreamed possible. It has its fair share of dreams and nightmares, contained within a world that feels just as real as our own, populated with people you might encounter in our own lives–the loyal, trustworthy Gurney Halleck, wise, cautious Stilgar, honorable Duke Leto, devoted Jessica, steadfast Chani, and, of course, Paul himself, haunted by the future he sees for himself and desperate for a way to break free.

Why is Dune considered the greatest science fiction novel of all time? For many of the same reasons that The Lord of the Rings is considered the greatest fantasy epic of all time–the setting and the people are all drawn vividly, and the story is told by someone who clearly cares about the story he wants to tell…a story that will stick in your head for the rest of your life.

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“Doctor Who” Trailer and “Sherlock” Teaser Released on the Same Day!

Yes, you read that right–we have footage from the upcoming ninth season of Doctor Who as well as the extremely-long-awaited Sherlock Christmas special. At least, we think it’s the Christmas special. All they’re saying is “soon…ish.”

Anyway, first let’s take a gander at the trailer for season 9 of Doctor Who.

Is that you, Jenny?

And now we come to the teaser clip for Sherlock. Do you have your hyperventilation bags ready? Okay, let’s do this.

Oh…oh, my. WHY DOES THIS LOOK SO BRILLIANT!?

Doctor Who returns on September 19, starring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. Sherlock returns (presumably) at Christmas, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson.

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The Hidden Myth behind “The Phantom of the Opera”

Yes, the random, pointless Phantom of the Opera posts are back! Did you think I’d given up on them? Bwahahahahahahahaha! Really, with this being My Turn to Talk’s birthday month, it made sense to bring back some PotO posts since Phantom has been a big part of this blog from its very beginning.

The other week I was watching My Fair Lady for the first time, and that, of course, got me thinking about the Greek myth of Pygmalion. Pygmalion, according to Greek mythology, was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he was making, a statue of a woman of unsurpassed beauty (before you start saying “Weirdo,” remember that this was the same culture that gave us Oedipus Rex). During a festival in honor of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Pygmalion asked the goddess to bring him a woman who was like his statue. He didn’t dare say that he wanted the statue to be alive because that would just be crazy, but Aphrodite knew his unspoken request. She brought the statue to life for him, and sculptor and sculptee lived happily ever after.

What does this have to do with The Phantom of the Opera? Well, Pygmalion was pouring all of his skill into sculpting the perfect statue of the perfect woman, and the end result was all of his ideals brought to life right in front of him. Quite similarly, Erik used his passion for music to mold Christine–more specifically her voice–into his perfect ideal for what the human voice should sound like. Most people see only the parallels to Beauty and the Beast, but the story of Pygmalion is present in the narrative as well. Christine was Erik’s pupil; his tutelage formed her voice into one of the greatest sounds of all time. Like Pygmalion, he poured all of his skill into creating the perfect singer, and the end result was a woman who encompassed everything he loved about music. In a way, you could almost say that she became the personification of music to him.

Of course, it’s important to remember that Erik’s obsessive, homicidal tendencies ensured that they did not live happily ever after. Impersonating a heavenly being is never a good idea for a relationship, ever. Nor is stalking. Or kidnapping. Or anything that makes you look like a creeper.

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Movie Review: “The Artist”

I had planned to do another post on a different topic, but I saw this movie yesterday and decided to post a review about it instead. Disclaimer: I watched this on TV and missed the first 30 minutes, and usually movies are edited for time and/or content when they’re aired on TV, so maybe I’m not completely qualified to review this movie. However, the parts I did see I genuinely liked, and I wanted to write about that.

The Artist is a silent, black-and-white film from 2011 (yes, you read that right, 2011) that tells the story of George Valentin, a famed silent movie actor who begins to fade into oblivion upon the arrival of talking movies. About the same time that he is losing fame, his young co-star Peppy Miller, whom he helped to land her first role in the movies, is all the rage and becomes a big star of the new talking movies. With his downslide in popularity, his wife’s decision to leave him, and the Great Depression, George sinks into a depression of his own, but Peppy is determined to help him just as he once helped her. But will he let her?

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this. I was definitely interested in watching it because, well, who would have thought to make a silent, black-and-white movie in 2011? This is the era of big-budget blockbuster thrillers with as much CGI as you can conceivably stuff into a two-and-a-half-hour time slot! However, I had heard some critics say it was over-hyped and not as good as everyone else was saying it was. I’m not sure what everyone else was saying about it, but personally I enjoyed it. It told an interesting, thought-provoking story–what were some of the reactions of silent film actors once sound could be included? I remember hearing that Lon Chaney wasn’t too keen on the idea of talking in a movie, and seeing George’s downward spiral made me wonder if there had been other actors like him, unable to accept or adapt to the new way and becoming unintended victims of progress.

One of the things that especially grabbed my attention was the…authenticity, I think, is the word I want. The Artist managed to capture the spirit and feel of the silent film era, which is quite an astounding feat! Several times I found myself forgetting that this was made four years ago; it felt like a film made during the actual 1920’s. Another feature I liked was the genuine friendship between George and Peppy. They loved each other, but it felt like less of a romantic love and more like the love between two friends who have seen each other through good times and bad. With so much emphasis placed on romantic love in most movies, it was nice to see good old fashioned friendship being celebrated for a change.

Would I recommend The Artist? Keeping in mind that I missed the first half-hour, I still would recommend it. Silent films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it told an interesting story and, in my opinion, is worth seeing.

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Now There’s a Link between “Beauty and the Beast” and Star Wars

I found it strangely amusing that the two movies I’m waiting for now have a common link–Ewan McGregor. Star Wars aficionados, of course, know him as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, and he now has been cast as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. He’s not whom I would have picked for that part, but the nerd in me is just happy that Obi-Wan is going to be in the movie.

There was a rumor at one point that McGregor would be reprising the role of Obi-Wan in The Force Awakens, presumably the Force-ghost Obi-Wan, but unfortunately it looks to be just that–a rumor. Still, I find it pretty cool that the two movies I’ve been blogging about recently now have something in common.

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The Drought is Finally Over!

June 6, 2015 will forever go down in history as the day that American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so since Affirmed in 1978. It’s been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.

I was especially excited to watch this Belmont because I didn’t think I’d ever witness a Triple Crown victory. I was born after Affirmed’s victory and so have only heard stories of past Triple Crown winners and how impressive their victories were. So frequently, too, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner would come so close to winning the Belmont only to fade at the crucial moment. But not American Pharoah.

I never thought I’d see a Triple Crown, but I’m so glad I was wrong about that. It was a privilege to witness such a momentous occasion in horse racing history.

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