Friday, December 29, 2017

Song of the Day: "Evermore"

Please wake me when this boring ass song from the live action Beauty and the Beast is over.

Song: "Evermore"
Artist: I don't know, Josh Grobin?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Notes On: The Last Jedi

Spoiler alert: Rey is Ben's half sister and her mom is Captain Phasma, and Leia is the last Jedi, and Chewbacca is Han's true widow.

Now stop reading (like you needed encouragement).

So I went to see The Last Jedi, which I lovingly call "Hey There's No More Jedi" or "The Last of the Jedi" or "There's a Jedi in my House" on Twitter because someone tweeted that she calls the show Throne Games just to provoke a response and I loved the idea because, among my many roles, I am also a bratty brother.

Question: Why? Why the fuck do we have a shiny silver (girl) Storm Trooper-er at all? Not the girl part, although kinda the girl part in as much as we have not experienced a (known) girl storm trooper ever before General Fantanas Captain Phasma (really, just a captain and she gets a cape?).

Reading about the character in her Wikipedia entry (not by watching her as portrayed on screen) there's clearly potential (potential that wasn't realized, or if realized didn't appear on screen)--hell, I'm curious about Phasma's #MeToo story... stories. I'm sure you don't get the shiny silver suit without a few stories, and it's even suggested that her personal history dealing with that shit manifests itself in her particular cruelty to others, but you don't really get that from what's on screen.

Everything that happened with the casino planet and with Captain Phasma felt bloated. In Member Berry terms she's our new Boba Fett. Hash tag girl boss I guess. Why wasn't Scott Evil among the troop of Troopers? Side note: Seth Green totally needs a cameo in the next movie.



Question: If an "imaginary" Yoda can lightning up a tree, why can't he lightning up the bridge of a star destroyer? Or a death star (Death Star? probably trademarked)?

Remember when Obi Wan said he'd be more powerful than you could possibly imagine? He really was useless.

Question: Am I the only one who expects Benicio Del Toro to be our new Billy D. Williams and return to redeem himself in 2 years?

Question: How does the wookie manage to fly the smuggler's ship that is large enough to carry the occupants of at least a few transports (or was that literally the last one) through caverns that TIE fighters can't navigate?

Question: Am I the only one who didn't realize, until this movie, that Ben Solo is named after Ben Kenobi?

Question: Is it weird to name your kid after someone that 1) is useless, and B) that only one of you actually met and even then had only known him for like a day? What if that person caused more problems than he solved?

Question: Could a protocol droid drift through the vacuum of space and the infiltrate the airlock of a star destroyer and then make its way to a tracking beam room (which, functionally, seems like it should be more like a secure server room and less like a display at a Coach store, but I guess the unattended tractor beam control set the standard for Empire/First Order technology infrastructure, so it makes sense retroactively) and then deactivate the tracker even if doing so meant sacrificing itself, a 40+ year old piece of hardware (seriously, go get an iPhone 3GS and try using that for a while), so that actual living beings could continue to live?

Question: Could a protocol droid do anything at all?

Question: Did they not realize the Laura Dern option was an option earlier? Because that moment, possibly one of the best in the history of the franchise, seemed like a pretty efficient way to do some damage. Like to a star destroyer or a death star (or a Death Star, probably trademarked) even.

Question: Do you think they wish they'd have switched endings for Dern and Carrie? In making Leia an emotional centerpiece they had her doing and saying things--things fixated on individuals lost or saved--that undermine her as a General. Generals have to focus on the big picture, because you can't have a D Day if you care about the troops as individuals... can you? That sacrifice would have been wonderfully heroic and would have preserved Dern for Episode 9: The Final $ Billion. Seems like 4 transport ships low on fuel could have saved everyone but 4 volunteers.

Question: How are they tracking the Resistance via Finn? I'm sure it's Finn just as I'm frustrated that Rose "saved" him from what would have been a truly redeeming act on his part. Maybe one Laura Dern moment was all they thought people could handle, but the death toll is just too fucking high these days, and I don't think people tally that. Even taking Alderaan out of the tally (which we shouldn't) we must be into tens of thousands of deaths explicitly shown (an exploding star destroyer here and there, those are thousands of deaths). It's exhausting. It's fatiguing. It's war. War is fucking insane and exhausting.

Good god, what is it good for?

Aside from the wealth of the galaxy's 1% on the casino planet.

Question: Could Kylo Ren have been lying about Rey's parents?

Question: Am I out of nits to pick or merely tired? (Hint: it's 12:43 a.m.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "The Sweetest Sounds"

Musical Theater Therapy got a little confused by today's song. We were looking for a video of "The Sweetest Sounds" from No Strings and saw a video of Brandy singing the song in the 1997 television movie version of (black) Cinderella. Confusing, right? Right.

The song's origin is No Strings. Why the producers of that production of Cinderella thought to add it to their movie is likely because it's from the same composer and because the singing couple are miscegenational. Not that you would expect that from the text of No Strings.

The show debuted on Broadway in 1962, as the civil rights movement was picking up momentum--it was the year the Supreme Court ordered the University of Mississippi to admit its first black student and John Kennedy sent US marshals to protect him; the year after the Freedom Riders and the Albany Movement, and a year before MLK's Letter From a Birmingham Jail. Amid that climate, Broadway saw the premiere of the first musical with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers (no collaborator), featuring a love story between a model and a writer.

And oh yeah, the actress playing the model was black and the actor playing the writer was white, but that thing is never ever mentioned in the text or songs. The closest thing to noting the racial difference is when she mentions growing up "north of Central Park" which is code for being black (it actually means Harlem, and Harlem means being black, duh).

Rodgers felt that casting Diahann Carroll in the role spoke for itself. I'm not sure I agree, but who can say. Carroll was well received in the role, winning a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical (she tied with Anna Maria Alberghetti who won for Carnival). No Strings won 3 of its 9 Tony nominations in Total.

It also earned Richard Rodgers (the first EGOT winner) one of his 4 competitive Tony awards and is probably the least of his award-winning efforts... oh, the show also won him his second Grammy. See how easily it's done Liza!

Regardless, here's "The Sweetest Sounds" from the musical No Strings, the story of a model and a writer that couldn't make it work because, reasons. But not race-related reasons.

Today's lesson: north of Central Park is gang code for being black.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Song of the Day: "The Star"

I saw The Last Jedi last night. Why aren't there original songs in the Star Wars movies? Aside from the one.

This song earned a Golden Globe nomination for Mariah Carey and Marc Shaiman. It's from The Star, the Biblically accurate story of a donkey named Bo, a dove named Dave and a pregnant virgin named Mary. 

Just because the song is boring as fuck doesn't mean it won't win. But I don't expect it to win (my guess is either the song from Coco or the one from The Greatest Showman).

Song: "The Star"
Artist: Mariah Carey

Musical Theater Therapy: "A Christmas Song"

Musical Theater Therapy presents a song from Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas based on the 2010 Broadway musical Elf: The Musical, based on the 2003 movie Elf which was, in turn, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. No, that joke is still not old to us.

We saw Elf in a movie theater back in 2003, but due to a fire alarm we were made to leave the theater and given a pass to come back later but no way were we driving back down to SE 82nd to see the last 15 minutes. We assume everyone was killed in the fire that forced us to evacuate the theater and thus we assume making a musical of that is an affront to the lives of those lost in the fire.

And yet today's song is "A Christmas Song" which is probably because today is Christmas and because we are lazy.

Today's lesson: we are lazy. Just lower your expectations, not all of these sessions are about you.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Pine Cones and Holly Berries"/"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"

We here at Musical Theater Therapy don't get out much. Literally we walk dogs around the block, and from time to time venture to 7-11 or fast food or the ATM that doesn't charge a fee because our guy still doesn't take bitcoin. So imagine our surprise when we saw houses decorated for the hollyest of holy days.

It calls to mind the the act of Edgaring. Edgaring is driving around at night admiring Christmas lights, as though one was the wife of a man name Edgar and you were constantly pointing out the various houses that he was certainly too blind to see on his own. If you've shared a bathroom with a man you understand that this blindness is not to be treated lightly. We were first exposed to the term back in December 1992 by Ms. Janet DeLee, author and raconteur; and we use the term still.

Today's song is "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" along with "Pine Cones and Holly Berries" both written by Meredith Wilson of The Music Man fame. Wilson, who is not a female, wrote the musical Here's Love--sometimes called Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical and other times called It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and either of those is a far better title for a musical that is based on Miracle on 34th Street and that also includes the by-then classic "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" because Here's Love is so generic that it's one word different from Here Lies Love which is about Imelda Marcos--and while this recording isn't from a production either Wilson's musical or the one about Imelda Marcos, the in-the-round style presented by the Osmonds is straight from the musical.

Some quick pieces of Musical Theater Therapy trivia:

  1. Broadway Genius John, our occasional guru with respect to such things as musicals, is currently in NYC enjoying a trove of musicals and was giddy to get tickets to see Donnie & Marie who are members of the Osmonds (maybe, possibly not, you know how they are with girls)
  2. The musical was originally directed by Norman Jewison whose Wikipedia entry we took no delight in editing to remove some hype around his receiving Oscar nominations as Best Director in 3 different decades (it said it was a unique distinction, but John Ford, Woody Allen, Billy Wilder and Martin Scorcese also received nominations spread that wide... the unique aspect is that Jewison was the only one who didn't win, which seemed tacky to point out--also you can actually look this up, under editor jonesrich, it's truth)... Jewison was replaced as director, not sure why
  3. I can't remember if there was a number 3, possibly a dis at Natalie Wood who as a child was in the movie of Miracle on 34th Street and as an adult was the least of 2 major movie musical and both times had her voice dubbed by Marni Nixon but there's no reason to bring up her mediocrity here, so close to Christmas

The show ran for about 9 months from fall 1963 to early summer 1964 and garnered no Tony nominations and no sentiment sufficient for a revival.

Today's lesson: Meredith Wilson is a dude.