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Sat, Jan. 4th, 2014 02:36 pm

Oliver is a play I have seen a number of times in my life. My parents loved it, my aunt played Nancy in a production when I was little, and we listened to the soundtrack so much I knew every song by heart.  So when I saw it again this week at the 5th Avenue Theater, I was thrown slightly by a change to the lyrics in the song "It's a Fine Life."

Originally, the verse in question went:

Though you sometimes do come by
the occasional black eye,
You can always cover one
while he blacks the other one,
but you don't dare cry!

The verse was sung by Nancy, who is in an abusive relationship with the villain, Bill Sykes.  It's a disturbing verse, to be sure, in part because it's a very upbeat song, and she's seemingly singing about how being beaten up is just a normal part of your daily life, nothing to get worked up about.  Maybe she's putting on a brave face; maybe she's in denial that there's anything wrong with her situation.  But now, that verse is missing, replaced by a bit about how you might be in danger of running into cops while you're out picking pockets.

I imagine this verse was cut because it made someone uncomfortable.  They thought maybe it was ugly, unsettling, inappropriate.  Not fitting in a family show.

But here's the problem with that line of logic: Nancy is still a woman in an abusive relationship.  She gets hit on stage by the man she sings love songs about.  She ultimately gets beaten to death by him, right there on stage.  It's pretty brutal.  Not having her sing outright about the abuse she suffers is a meaningless tip of the hat that even weakens the character.

Here's the way they could have solved it:

Take the verse away from Nancy, and give it to Bet.  You leave it to the director and performers how they're going to play it, but there are a couple of valid options.  Maybe Bet is honestly under the impression this is a normal relationship, and this is a lesson she's learned by observing Nancy, her role model.  That horror of Nancy's realizing how the things she decides to quietly suffer can affect the other people she cares for strengthens her decision later on that protecting an innocent child from living this life and learning these hard lessons is worth standing up to Bill.

Or, maybe Bet is a little spunkier than she is ever played (and believe me, this is a character who could use a personality!), and she's singing this verse in a somewhat confrontational manner, trying to force Nancy to see that her relationship is godawful.  After all, Nancy sings twice about how "people say {she} must" betray Bill...but who are these people?  Who is it who supposedly cares about Nancy and has the nerve to speak against Bill Sykes?  Why not have it be her only known friend, Bet?

It's a missed opportunity, I would say.  An empty, misguided gesture to appease the sensibilities of someone who thought it was creepy and upsetting to deal openly with domestic abuse.  It could have been turned into a positive moment that deepened the characters.  At the very least, it was always a more honest bit she had about her terrifying love life, as opposed to the pitiable, self-deluding love song, "As Long as He Needs Me."

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Mon, Jun. 25th, 2012 11:18 am

After the movie, I was pretty sure it didn't have much really going on.

A couple of hours later, I decided on the following theory that actually makes the movie work for me:

(Spoiler prevention spaces)

The engineers can be seen as "gods," but we're not seeing any of those guys in the film...these are the "angels."  They were the first creations, and what's gone on has been the "war in heaven," essentially, where the angels split into two factions, one side all pissy over the humans' status as v 2.0, feeling like daddy doesn't love them enough anymore, etc., the other side being all noble and obedient.  Only in this case, the "bad" angels win...the dude in the opening scene is the last of the good angels...he has a sample of the bioweapon that is intended to be unleashed on humans, and he infects himself as a sacrifice that then poisons the entire environment to take down his enemies and try to stop their evil plan.  (The engineers are...dead? disengaged? living in a new system doing their seeding life bit there, like scarily powerful psychopaths?)

As for the "invitation?"  Pfft, only human optimism/arrogance would assume that...the clue is David's fingerprint that's really just a trademark symbol for Weyland and the line "because we could" as the reason for making him...the engineers didn't care to have us follow them anywhere, and they'd hardly notice if they were being worshipped...they were just leaving their TM all over the place like a bunch of proprietary dicks. 
Meanwhile, the angels are suffering David syndrome and acting out, building the plague.  The final bad dude is in the cryochamber all this time because it's the one place he could try to avoid being killed by his team's own weapons like everyone else already has been.

I like this theory, because it really resonates with David's journey as a character, and because it makes that opening scene make sense.  Who knows if it's what the filmmakers intended, but it works for me.

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Mon, Apr. 11th, 2011 02:24 pm

I watched the movie Source Code this weekend, and I thought it was just okay really, but its ending is really a matter of curiosity for me.  SpoilersCollapse )


Thu, Mar. 24th, 2011 10:59 pm

I am a horrible person.

Two days ago, my dad called and told me that my uncle Charles, whom I always loved, had been very ill. Then he used that as a springboard to foisting the question on me: "So, if I pay for the ticket, will you come spend Easter in Florida

I hate the phone. My dad is literally the only person in my life who only uses the phone (or occasionally snail mail). Everyone else in the world uses text messages or email, and you have the chance to formulate your response calmly, without pressure.

So of course, I had to say, "Um, sure, I...guess." Because what can you say? You're backed against a wall over the phone. This is how people went on more dates in the old days, I figure; some guy you didn't dig at all would call you out of the blue, and unless you were really skilled at being kind of a bitch, you had to at least go out with him that one time. At least I sort of imagine more dating went on in the "old days" based mostly on TV, movies, and my mom's stories of how many men courted her.

But anyway, I spent the next two days dodging my dad's calls and trying to think of a way I could possibly get out of this without just being the most wretched horrible irredeemable jerk. And when he called for the third time today, I went and had a drink before calling him back. I acquiesced, and he asked for the details he needs to book a plane ticket in my name, and then I heard myself saying, "Just so you know..."

And then I ended the sentence, "I'm not remotely going to church, I don't care that it's Easter weekend." And he chuckled and said that was fine, nothing to worry about.

And what might I have been about to say? I'm not entirely sure. But I think it might have been:

Just so you know, this is something I do not want to do. I'll do it, for you, but I was seriously looking forward to going the rest of my life without ever setting foot in that house again. The place where everything terrible about my childhood ever happened, and all the fucked up psychological baggage I spent the next 20 years dealing with got piled on. I don't know how I'm going to be able to relax, much less sleep, there, and btw, if anyone asks me why I missed my grandfather's funeral, I doubt I've got a lot of equivocation left in me.

But I'm going. For pretty much the same reasons I can make this post without fear of offending anyone involved:

I love my father...and he has no access to the Internet.


Mon, Mar. 14th, 2011 09:18 am

I flew out to Boston to represent PopCap at PAX this weekend. We had 4 XBoxes set up with Bejeweled Blitz, Peggle, & Plants vs Zombies. I was a touch nervous in that I had pretty much never used an XBox in my life. I found the controllers intimidating and was sure I would be inept with them. Also, while I love Bejeweled in general, I've never really gotten Blitz. It's always felt like it was more about luck than anything I was doing, and as a person who hates gambling, that didn't appeal to me.

By about the second hour of the show on Saturday, I actually found myself saying, "Wow, I think I may want to buy an XBox."

That's right, Bejeweled Blitz made me love the XBox. And vice versa. That game rocks on that platform. I felt so in control of the game, and I could actually tell I was affecting what was happening. I developed skill and strategy, and I improved steadily at the game as I played. By the end of the weekend, I felt like I actually knew what I was doing and might want to check out some other games too.

So many people I met and talked to during the show, so many players I dueled with in Peggle or Blitz, and I felt like I was basically one of them for probably the first time. Like, I already completely loved our games on PC, but I think it's impossible to feel like a "gamer" when you're afraid of the XBox controller. It was a really great time working the convention, and I was so proud to be there as part of such a cool company showing off such great games.

One of my favorite parts:

Sunday afternoon, this guy comes over and picks up the Peggle sticker on the table, frowns, tosses it back down.

"Have you ever played Peggle?" I asked.

He hadn't, so I asked if he wanted to check out Duel mode with me. We put up a random level, I helped him pick a Master, and we started playing. When I got Extreme Fever, he started laughing with surprise and delight. The second round, we failed to finish the board, and he said, "Aw man, I wanted my Ode to Joy!"

The third round, he got the Extreme Fever, smiled so wide, and said, "That needs to be my wakeup music everyday!"

I know I just made a fan of Peggle. That was awesome.


Sun, Mar. 6th, 2011 07:25 pm

When I arrived at the show this morning, I wasn't planning on going to any panels until noon, but a sudden announcement came over the loudspeakers that Nicholas Brendon was doing a panel right that moment! That wasn't in the program, I thought, and I rushed off to panel room 4A in excitement.

As I walked into the room, the guy behind the podium announced that "some stars are just divas, and it's not fair to the fans" that he chose not to go on because there were so few people in the audience.

Um, I call bullshit. The panel was a last minute addition, and the con organizers failed to promote it at all. It obviously hadn't been in the printed program, and there weren't signs posted at the entrances calling it out. If it was added to the schedule any sooner than this morning, which I have to assume it was, there should have been signs for it at his autograph area the day or days before. There was no way for fans to know about it and plan for it. Now, I am obviously too smart to think Oh what a dick Nicholas Brendon turned out to be, but not everyone in that room will be quite so savvy and properly assign the blame. It's way too easy and obvious to insult a star and act like they're the jerk, but it's your job to promote your guests and make sure the fans can find them. What you did instead was fail at your own job and then make sure a guest felt insulted and probably diminished some fans' opinions of him.

And to Nicholas Brendon:

When I heard the announcement and rushed to the room, I was far from the only one to do so. As the guy was telling us the panel was cancelled, there were people still filing in behind me, and as I walked out in annoyance at the con organizers but not at you, there were still people pouring into the room hoping to see you. So, I am very sad if some crappy lack of preparation and promotion, then some douchey comments from a guy to a slowly but surely growing crowd, made you in any way question that you had lots of fans eager to see and hear you this morning. And I am doubly sad if anyone in there held it against you. You're a terrific actor (and a DAMN fine-looking man!), and I am glad I had the chance to say so to your face this weekend. Thank you for coming to Emerald City Comicon.


Sat, Mar. 5th, 2011 10:18 pm

...maybe I am lonely. Or not so much lied...just overstated. I am not lonely enough to date or sleep with anyone just for the sake of it, and in fact, I remain certain that will be the case for a long time to come if not the rest of my life...I've grown past that phase, and I'm smarter than that now.

But last night I met a cute guy and spent hours talking with him. Just talking, and that's all it will ever be, and that's fine, because the guy himself isn't the point. The point is that it was the only time that's happened in months. I meet a lot of people, and it's not like there's anything wrong with them, I like them to varying degrees, but it's so damn rare to really click and just want to keep talking till your voice goes hoarse. And the last two times I've had that happen to me, it's been at comic conventions with people who live in different time zones.

And having that experience, just briefly, of wanting the night to go on and wondering what might have happened if things were different...it sledgehammers me with loneliness while preserving the clarity of my solitude, because that kind of connection is what I am waiting for.


Fri, Jan. 14th, 2011 06:49 pm

So...only a couple of weeks late on doing this, but it still feels worth doing. What happened in 2010? Why, a whole hell of a lot, and a lot of it awesome. I had a truly spectacular year. Some highlights:

The Battle in Seattle, in which I placed 3rd among the 20-some women competing:

My first round song, Alone:


And my second round song, You Belong to Me:


The 5th Drunken Green Screen:


The 2nd Drunken Green Screen:


Our Don't Stop Believing music video:


There was much more awesomeness about last year than was captured on video, of course. There was San Diego Comic Con, where I met Brian, who continues to be a very special person in my life. One of the smartest moves I ever made was making a move on him. He believes in me and inspires me, and no matter what the future holds, my world is so enriched for having him in it.

There was the Ellis Paul concert where I got to sing with him, an entire verse of All Things Being the Same when he forgot the lyrics. He dug my voice, the crowd cheered, and it was all-around awesome.

My Veil costume was groovy enough to get me published in the letters page of Avengers Academy! My letter was apparently also sufficiently awesome, so it was a geeky day of wonder for me when that issue came out.

And of course, of course, there was Miles. Again/still/always. I know not everyone agrees/understands my feelings on this, but you don't have to stop loving someone. You can choose to, but you don't have to. Miles is one of the most important people in my life, and that doesn't have to change just because we're apart from each other or wind up with other people. I can love him just the same regardless of the circumstances of our lives. So I do. And that's ok.

And on that emotional note, I'll leave it here for now. 2010 to be continued.


Sun, Jan. 2nd, 2011 05:25 pm

Rewatching a number of SG-1 episodes (and loving every single minute of it), I can't help thinking that the things most lauded about Stargate Universe were the reasons it failed. It was proclaimed as a character-driven show rather than plot-driven, yet not only did that make for a show in which almost no episodes stood out particularly, it felt largely false, because a year and a half in, I barely have any relationship to the characters. It was considered more realistic because the alien species they encountered were mostly incapable of communication and markedly different from humans, but rewatching Unnatural Selection just now and feeling the profound empathy I do for poor Fifth, thinking of the tragedy he ultimately plays out, I have to think SGU failed by never allowing us to bond with or even try to comprehend the aliens we saw. Mostly, I think the failure is in the "gritty realism" they attempted by making the characters so flawed as to be uninspiring. That's a valid choice, sure, but it's not going to bring people to the show as completely as both previous series had. I believed in those characters completely, and they were flawed; not one player in SG-1 or Atlantis could be said to be perfect or infallible. But I would follow O'Neill, Teal'c, Sheppard, or Ronon into battle and trust them to keep me safe. With any member of SGU's team, I'd be just as terrified as the rest of them obviously always were. And that may be realistic in many ways, but it's not what I want. I loved SGU, for what it was. But if that had been my first exposure to Stargate as a franchise, I'm not even sure I'd have bothered to continue watching it. And I know there are a lot of people who feel differently, who say they never cared for the first two series but love SGU, but if SGU had been the whole of Stargate, I wouldn't have this tattoo on my arm.

And for the producers to sell this show as an improvement on the previous series was unfortunately a de facto insult not only to SG-1 and Atlantis but to their fans, who largely held that against them and therefore the show. And again, it was false. To say that the previous shows were populated by unrealistic or unbelievable characters is not only insulting but sad; only the most cynical people would consider that heroism is by default unrealistic.

It's still a blow to me that it was cancelled, but not the same way Tru Calling was, or Angel, or Jericho. I am saddened by what this may do to the franchise, but the show itself is only a minor loss to me. I will miss having a regular dose of something from the Stargate universe, and I am worried this may spell doom to it for at least a number of years. But maybe this show did that much on its own by failing to be what probably most of the fanbase wants from it.

Watching these episodes of SG-1, I am stricken again with the desperate ongoing desire for Rage of Angels to be made. Give me more Chris Judge as both a writer and an actor, and give me more Michael Shanks. That's what I want most of all.

ETA: And yes, even saying this does make me feel like a Shol'vah.

But I think even the producers realized they'd made an error in some ways: Eli was always the most relatable character, but he seriously never turned out to be as deeply flawed as the rest of the crew. And Telford? All his major flaws turned out to be the result of Lucian Alliance brainwashing. He was ultimately so solid a guy that he ceded any wish for command to instead follow Young loyally, and he was mysteriously so vastly qualified for the mission that he was able to effect repairs on the seed ship. That's Carter- or McKay-level "perfection" that SGU was supposedly not going to rely on.


Fri, Dec. 24th, 2010 11:06 am

I always enjoy Larfleeze, so I've been excited about this issue ever since Geoff Johns teased it at SDCC (now please please please let him not have been kidding about the companion piece, the Dex-Starr Valentine's Day Special!!!). This week, knowing this story was coming my way had me perhaps unreasonably excited; on Wednesday, I leapt out of bed and spent the whole day counting down hours until I could get to my store and get my stack.

When I did, I quickly flipped through, and I felt a moment of panic. Then I thought, well, their title associations have been a bit haphazard of late, so maybe I just need to grab my own copy from the shelf. I looked at the shelf: nothing. I looked at the special "check these out!" shelf: nothing. I felt my face fall as I turned to my store owner and said, "Where is the Larfleeze Christmas Special?" I could hear the Sheldon Cooper-esque panic in my voice and was helpless in a moment of utter geeking desperation. "Oh, we got shorted by Diamond," he said casually.

Now, of course, this happens, and I know it, and I normally just say, "Well damn, guess I'll get it when I get it. Thanks!" But on this occasion, I went Rain Man.

"But, but, I...I need the Larfleeze Christmas Special. All I want for Christmas is the Larfleeze Christmas Special. When I got up this morning, it was my reason for getting out of bed. I, I, I need it." Not angry of course, just kind of...pathetic. Like the sort of person you like to think you will never ever be. I looked up at him like the last puppy to be adopted from a much cuter litter.

"Uh, I'll call over to the other store and see if they've got one I could have here for you tomorrow."

Thursday evening I went back and picked up the comic I'd embarrassingly obsessed over having. And the logical conclusion to such a tale would be that it was kind of a let-down, because nothing can live up to such a build-up in one's head, and then I would feel even lamer over my whole Big Bang Theory moment.

But instead, I got a Christmas Miracle. This book is everything I dreamed it could be and so much more. My smile grew with every page I turned, and I laughed in delight again and again. When I closed the issue, I felt a glow of happiness I knew I would carry with me for hours, if not days. I spent the evening handing it around among my friends, some of whom barely read comics, none of whom follow Green Lantern, and they all reacted as I had, laughing and grinning and passing it along with a "You *have* to read this!"

This weekend, I will be making the Orange Lantern Cookies. And I don't have a tree, but I do want to make a good cardstock photocopy of the page with the ornament so I can construct a sturdy version to hang over my desk. And I did sit there and trace my way through the maze to help Larfleeze reach the North Pole.

Best of all, I will continue to smile and giggle every time I think of the wonderful moments in the story, the gloriously funny Larfleeze-speak and his superpowered childlike perception of our world. Thank you Geoff Johns for writing this book, and Brett Booth for drawing it, and DC for publishing it, and Arcane Comics for getting me a copy when I clearly needed it!

Current Mood: geekily elated