Monthly Archives: August 2012

You Know You’ve Listened to “The Phantom of the Opera” a Few Too Many Times When…

…you start to dream you’re in the cast. The only problem was that I didn’t want to be in the cast but had no say in the matter. It happened something like this.

Last night I dreamed I was watching the silent version of The Phantom of the Opera (why I was dreaming about a movie I’ve already seen is beyond me), when, all of a sudden, I was actually in the movie along with a whole bunch of other people who weren’t supposed to be there, either. And we had problems. The movie plot was changing because Erik had somehow become aware of himself as a character in a story, and he decided to use this awareness to stage his own version of the musical. Somehow he had drawn us into the movie because he wanted to use us as the cast. The next thing I know, Erik’s got me on stage–in front of an audience, no less–singing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”. I remember being terrified for most of the performance. I am not a soprano by any stretch of the imagination, but if I lower the key, I can get through “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”. But in the dream, Erik didn’t give us any time to rehearse–he just shoved us out there–so I spent most of the performance petrified that I wouldn’t be able to transpose correctly on the first try and, consequently, wouldn’t be able to hit the high notes properly.

Somehow I got it right on the first try. Granted, my voice was a little shaky at first, but I took comfort in the thought that the audience would just think I was so in character that I was being especially emotional. That thought got me calmer, and on the whole, the song sounded pretty good. In fact, I was starting to enjoy myself…and then my dream shifted, making me go “drat!” because “Wandering Child” is one of my favorites. But at least I managed to not make a fool of myself on stage…even if it was just in my head.

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Black Plot Holes

Black Plot Holes are like the black holes that exist in space but are the graveyards of plots. It’s where plots go when novels, movies, TV shows, etc.,  lose all sense of direction and limp along painfully. It is painful for both story and viewer–for the story because it may have started with so much potential, for the viewer because seeing the disconnectedness of the story ruins the experience. I speak from experience here–I used to be a *huge* Star Wars fan, but my enthusiasm for it lessened after watching Revenge of the Sith. Why, you ask? Well, it was for the huge, gaping plot hole of Padme’s death.

You see, according to dialogue from Return of the Jedi, Padme lived for a brief time after delivering the twins and raised Leia for a short period. I have proof:

Hear that? HEAR THAT!? And yet George Lucas completely contradicted himself when he wrote Padme’s death so early! I remember sitting in the theater thinking, “Of course Padme won’t die; we know from Return of the Jedi that she raised Leia for a few years and then died.” And then Padme died without raising Leia.

I realize I have probably angered legions of Star Wars fans, but this was something I felt had to be out in the open. Feel free to lob your tomatoes *tightens armor straps*.

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Catholicism and “One Day More”

This is probably going to be a strange post; it features a link between the Catholic Faith and “One Day More” from Les Miserables that I don’t think anyone else has noticed. To make things easier, here is a video of said song:

Isn’t that a great song, folks? Okay, the part I want you to focus on is around the 1:50 mark. Here is where Enjolras (Ramin Karimloo) asks Marius (Michael Ball), “When our ranks begin to form, will you take your place with me?” This is also a question all Catholics are asked every day of their lives.

“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking now. “Not once in my life has Enjolras appeared out of thin air singing about barricades or freedom or battles. What on Earth is this crazy lady talking about?” (If I’m wrong and this has happened to you, let me know where you live so I can come watch).

This is the question Christ asks all who are baptized into the Catholic Faith. He has asked it since He founded His Church; he asks if we will take up our crosses and follow Him. He asks if we will remain faithful to the Church even when it comes under the severest attacks. We, however, are often uncertain of the pain and tribulation we know come with the territory, so, like Marius, we ask ourselves, “Do I stay, and do I dare?”

This is something we each have to answer for ourselves. Let us pray that, like Marius, we have the courage to say, “My place is here! I fight with you!”

And may we all sound as awesome as Michael Ball does when he hits that “you” note (although I don’t think God is particularly concerned about that).

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What’s in Store for the Third Season of “Sherlock”?

Steven Moffat is dropping hints again. Like last season when he hinted “Adler. Hound. Reichenbach.” to announce that the episodes would be based on “A Scandal in Bohemia”, the novel-length The Hound of the Baskervilles, and “The Final Problem”, he has given fans three words. And those words are:

“Rat. Wedding. Bow.”

My predictions for the episodes of season 3 are as follows:

Rat = “The Rat of Sumatra”, a case mentioned in the original Sherlock Holmes stories but which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never imparted to us.

Wedding = The Sign of Four, the second Sherlock Holmes novel where Dr. Watson meets his wife, Mary. I’m especially excited for this one because I was always interested to see how it would be adapted to the 21st century.

Bow = “His Last Bow”, a story that outlines how Holmes came out of retirement to thwart Nazi plans in World War II. I’m really hoping this isn’t a sign that season 3 is the last season.

The BBC America blog has a blurb on it, too: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2012/08/steven-moffat-teases-sherlock-season-three-with-three-words/

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in the BBC drama "Sherlock"

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in the BBC drama “Sherlock”. From the BBC America blog.

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The Shiny New-Newness of Dreamweaver 6

Forgive me if this post sounds a little nerdy–well, a lot nerdy–but I couldn’t help myself. After recently upgrading my Adobe Creative Suite from 5.5 to 6, I was amazed with the new Dreamweaver features. So far it seems much easier to use than 5.5…or maybe I’ve finally gotten used to using Dreamweaver instead of Notepad++ to write web pages. Regardless, the feature that has me most excited is (drum roll please) fluid grid layouts. They’re this neat little feature that makes it possible to control how your page looks on a regular computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Before this, you usually had to do some very unpleasant hand-coding to get your pages to render properly in all three devices (something at which I was never very good), or sometimes you had to build different sites for each device! Now, however, you just have to build one site, and the fluid grid layout will automatically adjust the page to fit the device! No more hair pulling! Yay!

…Wow, I just wrote a blog post about web design software. And I was scarily excited about it. That is kind of sad.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Sensorites”

Recently I had the opportunity to watch a Doctor Who serial from 1964, featuring the original cast (William Hartnell as the Doctor, Carole Ann Ford as his granddaughter Susan, William Russell as Ian, and Jacqueline Hill as Barbara). This classic was entitled “The Sensorites”. I won’t give away the plot for those of you who haven’t seen it yet but are planning to do so, but this was an impressive episode from the early years of the longest-running science fiction show on television.

For one thing, I enjoyed how it detailed more of the relationship between the Doctor and Susan. We’ve known from the very beginning that Susan has been living with her grandfather ever since the two ran away from Gallifrey, but the dynamic of that situation was never really detailed much in some episodes (although handled beautifully in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”). In “The Sensorites”, though, we learn that the Doctor and Susan have never argued once in all their years of travel. We also see more of how deeply the Doctor cares for Susan–he goes all Oncoming Storm on the Sensorites when they want to take Susan to their planet as a hostage, yet he is furious with Susan for agreeing to go with them. This fury stems from his love, however, and he makes her promise to leave all major decisions to him in the future.

Another treat of this episode is seeing Susan demonstrate the Time Lords’ latent telepathic abilities to an astonishing extent. Many episodes of the updated series have featured the Doctor using telepathy ( as in season 4’s “Planet of the Ood” where he links his mind to Donna’s so she can hear the song of the Ood), but there wasn’t as much focus on the Time Lords’ mental abilities in some of the much, much earlier episodes. Curiously enough, the Doctor’s telepathic range is quite limited in this serial. Although he claims he can occasionally read his companion Ian’s mind, he seems unable to transmit directly to a Sensorite’s mind the way Susan can.

And, of course, it was great to hear Susan’s description of Gallifrey and how closely it kept with the Doctor’s description in “The Sound of Drums” (an episode from 2007).

As a final, random thought on “The Sensorites”–is it just me, or do the Sensorites resemble the Silence? It seemed to me that there was a bit of a similarity about the face. Perhaps the Sensorites and the Silence are related in a similar vein as Star Trek‘s Vulcans and Romulans are…

Wait, what was I talking about again?

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Looking for Something to Write About, Decided to Compare Versions of “The Phantom of the Opera”

I think the post title is pretty self-explanatory, don’t you? The Phantom of the Opera has long been one of my favorite novels, and I’ve wound up seeing about four different film versions of it (although there have been plenty more)–the original silent version with Lon Chaney, Sr., the 1940’s version with Claude Rains, the 2004 based-off-the-Broadway-play version with Gerard Butler (oh, gosh, I wish I hadn’t seen this one so very, very badly), and the 2011 commemoration-of-the-25th-anniversary-of-the-Broadway-play version with Ramin Karimloo (technically it was an official performance at the Royal Albert Hall, but I’m counting it anyway because Ramin Karimloo sings loads better than Gerard Butler. Sorry, but it’s true). Each version brought something a little different to the table, so I decided to write about it. Having a blog is so much fun!

1925: Lon Chaney, Sr., Mary Philbin, and Norman Kerry

This is the very first film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, and in many ways it is responsible for putting Universal Studios on the map as a leader in horror movies, so Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, and a host of others owe something to The Phantom of the Opera. This is a remarkable adaptation for several reasons.

  1. It is the closest I have ever seen any adaptation stick to the movie. Yes, it still took an awful lot of liberties, but most of the story remained the same.
  2. It’s got the Persian, a character who somehow got left out of all the other movies. I’ve never been happy about that because of how important he is. Perhaps the importance of his presence would be a good topic for another post.
  3. For not utilizing sound, Lon Chaney does a remarkable version of conveying emotion. One minute he’s got you cowering, and the next you’re pitying him because he is something of a pitiable character. Like in the book, this pitiable state makes it difficult to completely despise Erik (the Phantom). I can see why Chaney is considered a master of the silent film era; he’s good. There are no other words to describe his masterful portrayal of the tortured genius dwelling five levels below ground.

1943: Claude Rains, Susannah Foster, and Nelson Eddy

This is a more…quirky version of the book. It’s waaayyy off from the book; all of the French people sound either American or British, and someone please get Nelson Eddy to stop singing! However, I like this version because Claude Rains was an interesting Phantom to watch. Unlike the book and silent film, Erik was disfigured in an accident. Originally he was a mild-mannered violinist at the Paris Opera, but when he thought his concerto had been plagiarized, he snapped. Like a twig. It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for…

2004: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson

This is different from the previous two films in that it is based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which was based on the original novel. The musical is the longest-running play on Broadway, yet after watching this, I wondered why. Oh, my, my list of complaints against this are too numerous to list here. Another post, perhaps…in the meantime, just watch. I apologize to your eardrums.

2011: Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, and Hadley Fraser

And this is where I learned to love the musical. Better singing and acting than the 2004 movie made this incredible to watch. Another plus for this version: Hadley Fraser’s performance as Raoul. In all the versions I have seen, Raoul has never been a very strong character; consequently, I have not liked him much. However, Hadley Fraser really stepped up to the plate in this version; it was easy to see why Erik felt threatened by Raoul. And Fraser wasn’t the only one to give a stellar performance. Sierra Boggess made those superhuman notes seem absurdly easy to hit, and as for Ramin Karimloo…he *was* the Phantom of the Opera.

That’s all for now–and I even got ideas for other posts later…the importance of the Persian and why I really don’t like the 2004 movie. Will I ever get around to writing them? Time will tell.

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