Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
I've taken to listening to audiobooks while crocheting (and doing other things), and I've found myself checking out books that I might not have otherwise, simply because the audiobook selection at most libraries is so much smaller than the print collection.  That's how I ended up listening to  Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time.  The author, Rob Sheffield, shares various mix tapes he's made over the years and the time in his life they represent, with the bittersweet edge of losing his wife along the way.  Listening, my mind kept wandering to the mixtapes I myself had made, though they weren't really the kind of tape he was talking about.
From 1998 to 2006-ish, I filled 10 and half tapes with my favorite songs from musicals (and the occasional movie or TV song).  I didn't really have the intention of making that many when I started, mind you.  In the summer of 1998 I fell in love with the OCR of Sunset Boulevard, which I had taken out from the library, and listened to it nonstop.  When its due date arrived, I couldn't bear to return it, and I didn't have the funds to buy my own, since a. it was a two-disc set and b. Amazon.com wasn't on the radar yet.  But then I remembered that my father had once told me that you could copy CDs from the library because they pay a special fee, or something, and I just happened to have a boombox with a line-in connection (a surprise fulfillment of a Christmas request for a tape player a couple of years earlier), so I hooked up my CD player and recorded my favorite tracks from that, and a few other CDs I had out at the time.  I actually lost that first tape fairly early on, but I still remember most of the shows that I pull songs from (including Pippin, The Muppet Movie, and Shenandoah).
Even with the arrival of mp3s and cd-ripping into my life, I continued to make my Broadway mixtapes.  I didn't even think of switching to CDs, which means that I occasionally run into songs that I no longer like as much as I used to (if at all) when listening to the cassettes, and have to suffer through them.  Which is probably why the nail in my mixtape-making coffin was when I got an mp3 player.  To be fair, I was losing interest by then, partially due to the difficulty of finding CDs of musicals that I hadn't heard yet that also had songs that I wanted to keep listening to, and the fact that I no longer had my own CD/cassette player (the line-in boombox died earlier).  But the mp3 player basically did what my mixtapes had: let me pick and choose from the best of my collection, with the added bonus of being able to remove songs I was tired of and skip ones I wasn't in the mood for.  I still have my tapes and I still like to listen to them and go back to the time when they were made, though I haven't actually listened to them that much since I got my new car that doesn't have a tape deck.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tropetastic VBS skits

Sorry for the lack of posts this month.  Besides the usual things that keep me busy, most of my evenings these past few weeks have been devoted to practicing for, and then performing in, the skits for my church's Vacation Bible School, The Egypt File.  Of course, being me, I spent a good chunk of time that I wasn't on stage taking note of the various tropes that appeared in each day's skit.
The overall plot takes place in a museum being opened in Egypt by Claire and Percy Sedgwick, a brother and sister from England fulfilling their late grandfather's dream.  Along for the ride are their butler, Albert, and the summer intern, Mackenzie Ross.  When the money box is stolen, the Sedgwicks call on Detective Carson Hughes to investigate, and all signs seem to point to Joe the janitor.

Tropes found in these skits include:
  • An Aesop - Each day's skit has a bit of dialogue (usually delivered by Mackenzie to Claire) that ties in with the lesson presented by the rest of the program.
  • MacGuffin - The stolen money box
  • Screwy Squirrel - Percy is always playing pranks, especially on Albert
  • Sour Supporter - Albert constantly complains about how much he hates Egypt and wants to go back to England, but continues to serve the Sedgwicks faithfully.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen - Claire starts off rather no-nonsense, but thanks to Mackenzie's aesop-spouting and her rediscovered Bible, by the end, she's much nicer.
  • Amateur Sleuth - Mackenzie states that she always seems to end up in places where there are mysteries to be solved, and spends the skits investigating the missing money box.
  • The Stoic - Joe the janitor is a man of few words, and comes off as a little creepy.
  • Parental Abandonment - Claire and Percy's parents died when they were young, in an unexplained accident.
  • Eek, A Mouse! - Percy catches a sand rat that gets loose.  Whenever Claire hears that it's near, she climbs onto a table.
  • Bond, James Bond - Detective Hughes introduces himself in this way.  Percy immediately makes fun of this. ("Nice to meet you, 'Hughes, Carson Hughes.'  My name is Sedgwick, Percy Sedgwick.")
  • Donut Mess With A Cop - Albert offers to get Detective Hughes a donut or pastry since "I know you people like that sort of thing."
  • Mystery Magnet - Mackenzie is implied to be one.  In her own words, "It just seems that wherever I go, there's a crime to be solved, and I just can't resist getting involved!"
  • How Much Did You Hear? - After giving herself a Rousing Speech, Mackenzie turns to find Joe standing nearby.  She asks, "How long have you been there?"  "Long enough," he replies.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous? - Mackenzie (rather amused) assures Albert that having his box of fudge-striped cookies eaten by a "wild animal" (presumably Percy's pet rat) is truly horrible.
  • So What Are You Saying? - Albert uses this twice in the same skit, once while speaking on the intercom to Mackenzie, and then again when calling Detective Hughes.
  • Insistent Terminology - Joe prefers "custodian" to "janitor."
  • Mummy - Percy dresses as one, complete with Zombie Gait, to scare Albert.
  • Crouching Moron Hidden Badass - Scared by the mummy, Albert beats him up (offstage), making Percy later compare him to Chuck Norris.
  • You Never Asked - Albert on his kickboxing skills.
The next few tropes are a little spoilery:
  • The Reveal - the following three tropes:
  • Red Herring - Joe
  • Detective Mole - Carson Hughes turns out to be an artifact smuggler pretending to be a cop in order to search the building for a hidden treasure.
  • Reverse Mole - Along the same lines, Joe reveals himself to actually be an undercover cop named Nick Raines.
  • Spotting The Thread - Mackenzie gives out the clues that lead her to realize Carson Hughes wasn't really a detective: she found his hotel key card, he didn't know where the post office was (instead telling her to have the hotel mail it for her), and a threatening letter she received had the hotel's stamp on the back.
  • Noodle Incident - When asked how she knew Nick wasn't really a janitor, Mackenzie replies that when she saw him using the floor buffer, she figured something was up.  Nick concurs, adding that it was quite amusing.
  • Saving The Orphanage - The Sedgwicks bought the orphanage next door in order to tear it down for parking.  The director, Miss Brown, comes over in a few skits to ask for more time to relocate the orphans, but the demolition crew is on a tight schedule, and the museum really needs the parking.  By the end of the week, Claire has a change of heart, mostly due to Mackenzie paraphrasing James 1:27 ("helping widows and orphans in their distress"), and tears up the demolition contract, making the orphanage The Sedgwick Children's Home instead.  Which kind of brings up the question, what are they going to do about parking, then?

There are more, of course, but those are all I could find and/or think of.  Also, despite the characters' name, no one has a Sedgwick Speech.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What I Watch - Youth in Revolt

So I watched Youth in Revolt today, mostly because I've all of a sudden become interested in movies that have Michael Cera in them (most likely due to the combined forces of the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie and watching Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist the other week), but it turned out to be a pretty good film.  Of course, my opinion of it was helped by a surprised cameo by Fred Willard (all movies with a surprise Fred Willard are pretty good, just on general principle).  But on the whole I enjoyed the movie, and the strange twists and turns it took tell its story, which is basically about a teenage boy who goes through a lot, most of it illegal, to get with the girl he loves.  It made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, which is more than I can say for some movies that I absolutely love.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

2010 Tony Awards

  • Gotta admit, I'm not really looking forward to the Tonys this year.
  • Who's the other guy?
  • Who are all these guys? And who is Sean Hayes, anyway?
  • I'm so clueless about this season ('cause it's not that interesting). Ah, they were from Memphis (the musical)
  • Oh, he was on Will and Grace. Sadly the only thing I know him from is Igor (he was Brain) 
  • Awesome as Kristin Chenoweth is, I'm still annoyed with adding "Say a Little Prayer" (among other songs) to Promises, Promises
  •  What's with the dresses those girls flanking Sherie Renee Scott are wearing?
  • (Cool song, though)
  • I mean, seriously, I have no interest in most of what I've seen in this overview of the season 
  • Why, hi there, Green Day. Whatcha gonna play?
  •  Kinda sorry I'm not watching this with my mom. I wonder what she would think of this? 
  • Not really a Green Day fan. Wasn't one song enough? Must be in their contract, or the Tonys are hurting for stuff this year. 
  • Matthew Morrison's headshot is terrible. He looks hungover. 
  • Man, now I really wish Mom were here. Was that kiss really necessary? 
  • World Cup of Showtunes, huh? 
  • Hey, Christopher Walken! 
  • I don't really care about the plays. Just saying. 
  • Never even heard of this Million Dollar Quartet show 
  • Not really my thing, I guess. Not that crazy about jukebox musicals in general. 
  • As far as I can tell, Ricky Martin was in Les Mis around 1996 
  • My husband is a bit distressed by what he considers non-Broadway actors showing up as presenters. 
  • But he is not really a Broadwayphile, so I don't put too much stock in his distress. 
  • Had to explain what La Cage Au Folles was to my husband, who didn't realize it involved crossdressing. 
  • I have heard that this revival of La Cage Aux Folles is better than the last one, so Best Director makes sense. 
  • My husband has taken to shouting out the names of the people that he actually knows, for some reason. 
  •  "...the younger, hotter, one..." XD (from Next Fall's description) 
  • Is Eddy Redmain supposed to look hat blank? Is that his character? 
  • What is with that beard, David Hyde Pierce? 
  • A blog I read said Katie Finneran was the only good thing in Promises, Promises, so there you go then 
  • Her chin is super-shiny, though. 
  • Well, the Memphis number looks fun, but it doesn't really make me want to go see the show. 
  • Man, Kristin's legs are so skinny.... they look terrible. 
  • Man that guy (Levi Kreis)'s hair is so weird. (One quick trip to IBDB), ah, he plays Jerry Lee Lewis, that explains it. 
  • What is up with your inflections, Catherine Zeta Jones? Why couldn't they have done an ensemble piece? Now/Soon/Later would have been cool 
  • But then again, it has not CZJ, so that puts it out, I guess. Why not The Glamorous Life? That would be way more awesome 
  • Is it because the shows are already closed, is that why only one person comes and sings? That must be it. 
  • Not that Christine Noll isn't cool, but I remember when Ragtime was on Broadway the first time.... 
  • A Stupid Statment Dance Mix of the plays? I'm not sure if that's weird or really cool. 
  • I'll link to it when someone uploads it on youtube 
  • I just don't like Sean Hayes as host. He isn't very funny. But yay, Bernadette Peters shoutout. 
  • Fela's number, while active to be sure, just isn't doing it for me. 
  • My sister would probably like Come Fly Away. She's a fan of Sinatra. 
  • Yay, Promises, Promises time 
  • Be a montage of songs, please 
  • Does this happen in the actual show? All this chair circling over instrumentals? 
  • Ah, no wonder the Fela part was so energetic, if that guy (Bill T. Jones?) also did the Spring Awakening choreography. 
  • Is Kate Blanchett wearing a plastic suit? Whatever it is, it's weird. 
  • Yay, the Glee part! 
  • Hey, Lea Michelle already sang this on Glee. I want to hear something new! Matthew Morrison didn't rehash, so what's up with this? 
  • Maybe it was a Jule Styne tribute? 
  • Okay, the Spiderman-singing-Don't-Rain-On-My-Parade thing was kind of funny 
  • I would have liked to see a performance from Finian's Rainbow, since it was nominated and all. Not surprised that La Cage Aux Folles won. 
  • So...much...strobelight.... Oh, American Idiot. 
  • (And I just keep hearing Weird Al's parody of it, Canadian Idiot) 
  • I hate to admit it, but this does look kind of fun. 
  • Yay, Bernadette Peters presents. 
  • Huh, didn't see Memphis winning. 'Course, I didn't particularly care about any of the shows nominated, so there you go.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nick and Norah's Infinite Puppet Show

This past weekend I got around to watching Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I put in my queue not because I'd read the book, but rather because I saw the guy who co-wrote it, David Levithan (which I wrote about during the writing meme).  The movie was pretty good, though I only knew one song in it ("After Hours" by We Are Scientists), plus it had a stealth cameo by Andy Samberg.  I ended up watching it three times over, since there were two commentary tracks, one with the director and some of the actors, and the other with the director, the original authors, and the screenwriter.  I enjoyed both commentaries, though I liked the writer one a little bit better, not just because it had more tidbits about the actual story (always my favorite thing in commentaries), but because it had a lot less "it was so cold in this scene" comments.
The real point of this post, though, is to link to a video of one of the special features, a 4-minute puppet version of the movie with 20% more bear attacks:

Seriously, I love this thing.  Still makes me laugh each time I watch it.