Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

Recently I have been COMPLETELY ENGROSSED with the Outlander show, which I admit has definitely something of a Soap Opera vibe. Now that I am an old lady I finally understand the appeal of such shows: seeing the people we have come to love dealing with the slings and arrows of Outrageous Fortune.
Not to mention Wild Sex, magical stones sending out Waves of Time Displacement–oh yes, and murderous beatings by wicked deviants, partying with Louis the 14th at Versailles, being captured by wild Indians–AND SO MUCH MORE! Never a dull moment!
There are also instances of gross stupidity in the plot, the ladies acting like kindergartners and the gents enthusiastically following through with even more idiocy. Heavens, such silliness–though I must admit that men and women do in fact act in ways that are not wise. Even I myself….well, no need to dwell on trifles.
And the actors and actresses are easy on the eyes, and entertaining.

When not watching this engaging show, I pursue other aims, other endeavours, and on my commute I am listening to Dune–set in a completely different world, but just as fascinating. It really is an entrancing story, and I note that–just like Outlander– there are MANY MANY sequels. Though in this case not all written by the original author–his son took over when Frank died.

How well I remember dragging my husband AND 2 friends out– in a vicious snowstorm!–to see the ghastly 1984 Dune movie. MY that was a bad movie, but I watched every moment with keen attention. And then the excellent TV series, in 2000, now available on Youtube by the way. Oh those ferocious Freman, those devious Bene Gesserit priestesses! The SPICE!

And coming next year, another Dune movie, with all sorts of interesting people playing the various roles. Khal Drogo as Duncan Idaho! Drax as The Beast Rabban! And an astonishingly pretty French lad as Paul Atreides.

Possibly TOO pretty… But no matter. I eagerly anticipate the show!

Every evening I sternly tell myself, go do some sewing, go learn that newly downloaded computer program –but after a carefully timed interval at the sewing machine or computer, I spring to my feet, galvanized; pour myself a snifter of brandy–and enter Xanadu.

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American Gods Again

After my disappointment with Rook, I stormed over to Starz and ended my subscription. “WHY OH WHY are you leaving us?” whimpered Starz. “We love you so! Particularly that delightful plump WALLET of yours!” I gave them the sad word about Rook, curses on her AND the 8 legged Supernatural Alien she rode in on. So Starz gave me to understand that I could watch all the shows for a MONTH (which is what you paid for, and anyway that money is gone and spent already so don’t imagine you’re getting it back).
I ambled on over to Starz, and remembered–AMERICAN GODS! That one had serious flash, not to mention a very handsome hero. However, it too is staggering under the weight of arrogant script writers who imagine they can outshine world famous authors. Let us make this story MOAR MEANINGFUL! Let us CHANGE this sorry scheme of things, and mold it nearer to the heart’s desire (=Social Justice Stuff). So, the elegant Mr. Nancy spouts some modern claptrap to please the stern ideals of the young. But he does it with such style!

Fun, rather. And the charming Shadow Moon looms about, and the show is filled with noise and excitement!
After that I went back to Netflix.

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Back in my youth, I listened to operas, over and over, Puccini, Verdi, Britten. I LOVED them, magnificent works of art. The ones I favored, they are now etched in my brain.
These days, I mostly listen to music that is pleasant and that keeps the dark away. But every once in a while, I listen to those wonderful demanding masterpieces that I used to keep by me.
And today, I listened to Billy Budd, such a completely brilliant piece of music. Britten wrote the opera to the story by Melville, a short shipboard plot with no women and a terrible inevitable path ending in death. But how powerful the melody and singing that takes us there!
There was an excellent movie of the story, with Peter Ustinov as Captain Vere, and Terence Stamp as a fabulously lovely Billy.

The story is not simple, and the anguish of the good man who must condemn Billy to death is splendidly conveyed in both film and opera– though I can’t help but find it more moving in the opera. Captain Vere, Billy, John Claggart are men thrust together in terrible times, the 1790’s war between the British and the French.
“Don’t like the French,” sings the British sailing master, “don’t like their Frenchified ways.” “Their notions don’t suit us, nor their ideas–Don’t like their hoppity-skippety ways,” agrees the First Lieutenant– “Those damned mounseers!” A simply charming interchange.
E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier wrote the libretto, and it is masterly.
I listen to these beautiful voices, these deeply moving harmonies–and I forgive the world its stupidity, its violence, its terrible tragedies.

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I enjoyed the playful prose of Daniel O’Malley, whose entertaining books have now been made into a TV series. But OH DEAR, how leaden and sad the result! I even incurred a monthly fee to watch this show, having had to subscribe to Starz. The books were wild and woolly (I wrote about them here) and filled with hilarity and silliness. A certain amount of VIOLENCE and bad language also, I must admit.
The Starz series is handsome of course–well made, filled with good detail–but ominous and brooding to a point that might bring even the jolliest amongst us to drear despair.
And as for the ebullient fantastical whimsies, they have been carefully drained out and replaced with soulless bureaucratic processes. Instead of a free wheeling jokey hipster story, we find ourselves knee deep in dark espionage.
Maybe it will get better in the next couple episodes!

(Myfanwy and Colleague Demonstrate ‘Despair on the Escalator’)

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AND little boys! And Hell Hounds! AND the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!
I’m talking about Good Omens of course–that wonderful book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman which has been made into a wonderful series with David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale. They are the supreme odd couple, and completely light up the screen.

This is a show that is amazing fun from the instant it begins–which, by the way, is in the Garden of Eden.
It’s on Amazon, do go watch it!

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Jodhaa Akbar

My soul has been stolen away by a gigantic Indian historical romance, set in the 16th century and GLITTERING with precious gems, fabulous palaces, and gorgeous costumes. As the show is FOUR HOURS LONG, I have been watching it for a week or more now. I even persuaded my son to watch with me for a bit!
The Emperor (a direct descendant of Genghis Khan by the way) and his Empress are SPECTACULARLY beautiful, bejeweled and bedecked and very fine to look upon.

OH, and when there is a battle, there are ELEPHANTS charging about, all kitted out in fabulous war gear. The Emperor is something of an Elephant Whisperer, and likes to play about with the creatures.
He is SUCH a dreamboat, and his beloved wife is even more so.

We start with a series of charming Mughal paintings and then the actors take over, hundreds of people all constrained to walk the path decided by the director–is it not a wonder, to consider how so many hundreds of people are costumed, taught where to stand and walk, fed and watered for the duration of the filming?
Like managing a hotel, a hospital, an airport.
This is the story of Akbar, a great Moghul emperor, and how he married a Hindu Princess, and didn’t force her to convert to Islam, and how he became beloved of his Hindu subjects as a result of lowering taxes. ALWAYS a winner, lowering taxes. The wedding is stunning, SO MUCH costume and panoply! AND of course–dancing: whirling Dervishes! The emperor is so moved by their performance that he joins them, his golden skirts whirling out among their whirling white ones. He then strides to his marriage bed, but is refused by his wife, and the rest of the movie shows us how she eventually accepts him.
And they live happily ever after!
It is POSSIBLE that the movie does not strictly adhere to historical facts. But—costumes! Beautiful people! Elephants!
Trailer here.


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Flower Drum Song

After watching Carousel I thought, HOKAY, musicals are the way to go! So next I chose Flower Drum Song.

Dearie me, the stupid is very strong in this one. And my oh my, how vulgar it is, how loud the color, how offensive the story.
And yet, I managed to watch it all the way through.
I am becoming less fastidious in my old age: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills, as Jeremiah so famously commented.
Flower Drum Song is a movie that was made of a show that was made of a book. Somewhere along the way all human verity slipped out, but there are some good songs–A Hundred Thousand Miracles is charming, and perhaps one can smile at the Generation Clash song.

A very discouraging problem is
The Other Generation.
And soon there’ll be another one as well!
And when our out of hand sons
Are bringing up our grandsons,
I hope our grandsons give their fathers hell!–Can’t wait to see it!–
I hope our grandsons give their fathers hell!

Madame Liang, the handsome hero’s Auntie, is played by Juanita Hall, a famous black performer of the time (who also played Bloody Mary in South Pacific).

I wondered why she was chosen for the part–she is the only non Asian player in the show. Well, aside from the guy playing the RUFFIAN who stole money from the handsome hero’s honorable Father, that is.

Maybe there just weren’t any old lady Chinese singers about at the time.

The dances featured tired routines and dreadful costumes–so please check out this fab routine from Carousel instead.
But San Francisco looked great, and the Chinese New Year’s Parade was fabulous, so there’s that.
I think I’m back to Bollywood next time…

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