Thursday, May 23, 2013

Almost there. Almost. Almost. Almost. Almost?

I'm in week two of a three week office move. We're almost there. Almost.

All phone companies involved seem confident that they'll be back on schedule and have the new office's phones and internet running by Tuesday. Which will make them only 9 days late!

And that's only the beginning of the story.

I've been trying to go in an hour early and/or stay an hour late most days for the past two weeks. Then this morning I fell asleep in the shower multiple times and decided I should cash in some of that extra time I've built up so that I didn't cause a car accident.

But that might be more because of how, at 10 pm last night, I suddenly decided that the roommate absolutely had to see The Prestige due to how often she references Tesla. Because I'm a responsible adult!

Almost there. I have the weekend. And then I can sneak in some more work on Monday while technically on a vacation day. And then we're in the final week of the move, where we actually are in the new office. We're almost there.

And then I'll have to figure out how to best get to the new office and miss my sweet 20 minute commute.

Meanwhile: Black currant juice is not all that great, but I managed to make it worse. Hurray for me!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

This Is What a "I Can't Sleep And It's Almost 3 AM on a Saturday" Post Is Like

I've been lost in a vortex of suck this week due to my office moving to a new location, our fiscal year almost being over, and we're also merging with three other organizations into a Megazord of non-profits that no one knows about.

Oh, and shit just being crazy otherwise as well. I put in almost a whole extra day of spare hours this week just to make it so I could pack up the office's server with a half-hour left in the workweek and not stay late.

And I succeeded in doing so! To celebrate, I dragged my sweaty ass to my cousin's high school production of Peter Pan. She was adorable as Wendy. But drama kids running around the lobby in character before the show creeps me out too much.

But anyway, that was hours ago I'm still awake despite how this would be my one night to get extra sleep. Similarly, on Thursday I had a chance to just walk home from the train and actually go to bed early but for some reason I first went a block up from where I normally walk home, the roommate was walking for exercise on the other side of this new route, and somehow I decided that I would walk 3 miles with her in my terrible Dr. Scholls' shoes that aren't meant for my terrible feet and turned my baby toes into blister monsters (but don't tell the roommate because she will feel guilty about it because she doesn't understand that blisters are the least of my feet concerns). Then I got home late and somehow still was able to shower and get to work in the morning.

In a lazier similar story, I made the roommate watch Cabin in the Woods with me on Amazon Prime a few nights ago and she, a lover of the Halloween franchise, wasn't so fond of it. But also knew absolutely nothing about it other than 1) It was called Cabin in the Woods 2) Joss Whedon co-wrote it 3) Her mother hated it. Considering I saw one single trailer and felt like I knew every twist before it came, I think she got a lot more enjoyment out of it than I did, even though she was very anxious due to feeling like she had no idea where the story was going. Then we had to palate cleanse with a lazy episode of Charmed before feeling like we could go to sleep.

Also: Buzzfeed lists. I'm at the point where I feel like I need to make a list of Buzzfeed lists and include gifs that express my feelings about how uneven and/or not-entirely-thought-out they are. 'Cause... seriously, people. They can be fun, but some of those lists have some MAJOR padding.

The cat is really annoyed that I'm not asleep. As am I, but I don't think that will calm her down.

I'm hungry. I should just go to sleep. Did I mention that I found out what foods my blood has a bad reaction to? Blueberries, people. Blueberries were on the list. That shit is bananas.

Similarly: bananas were also on the list. But I dislike bananas, so I don't care so much about that.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Iron Man 3: Altered in Translation

So, I talked yesterday with a friend that had just seen Iron Man 3 while visiting China. We had a confusing conversation.

Me: It was pretty good, right?
Him: Yeah, it was pretty good. A little disjointed, though. What's the deal with the doctor? They didn't subtitle that at the theater I was at.
Me: Which doctor? Maya?
Him: No, the doctor Tony's talking to.
Me: ... Do you not remember The Avengers?
Him: What? I don't remember any old Asian doctor in The Avengers!
Me: What the hell are you talking about?
Him: The old asian doctor that showed up a few times and had, like, a five minute scene with some pretty girl doctor towards the end.
Me: Are you sure you saw Iron Man 3? Did China show some Asylum knock-off instead?
Him: Well, Robert Downey Jr was in it and it was directed by Shane Black. I'm pretty damn sure I saw the same movie as you.
Me: I'm pretty damn sure you didn't! There's no old asian doctor character!
Him: There totally was! Tony meets him at the New Years Eve party.
Me: ... Ho Yishen?
Him: No, Ho Yishen introduces him to this doctor.
Me: Are you sure?
Him: YES.

So, fifteen minutes later, we were still going back and forth on if he really saw the real movie and I finally Wikipedia'd to find out that China did indeed get four extra minutes of film.

Or, rather, China got four minutes of some other film inserted into Iron Man 3 starring an actor that showed up for about two seconds for the rest of the world's version. As what there is doesn't look like it was even pretending to be the same film as what the rest looked like.

I'm guessing these were, at best, shot by the second unit?

And, apparently, they took out the post-credits scene with Banner and instead made it so Tony's narration is him on the phone with this doctor?

My friend sent me pictures (I don't know how he got them. They don't even look like they could be in the same movie.

Oh, and apparently, I have more thoughts on Iron Man 3 than I thought I did. So... watch out for some future posts.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Car Whoas

I love my car.

I got it due to shitty circumstances and totally didn't feel like I deserved it, which helped me love it even more. It's tiny and efficient and easy to find and has heated seats and can still hold the boxes for a whole IKEA dresser. What the hell is there to NOT love about that?

And I named my car Pedro: Son of Reptar.

The best part was that not only did I love my car, but small children loved my car. My niece loved my car. All elementary school age girls love my car, in fact. I never before have witnessed so many little girls stopping in mid-chase in parks to point at a car that I was drivingMattel might think that a pink convertible is a dream car, but I'm pretty sure a metallic lime green hatchback that looks vaguely like it was modeled on the head of a cartoon dinosaur is the actual dream car of little girls.

Note: Reptar from Rugrats and the lime green Ford Fiesta. Hence part of why I named my car "Pedro: Son of Reptar". The Pedro part came from the name I gave the lizard that died fused to the top of my previous car. It's a long story.
But poor Pedro decided, half way between Chicago and ISU, that sticking to one gear at a time was for losers. And that while being in all those gears at once, acceleration was for losers as well.

So, Pedro went into the shop. Then out of the shop. And then into the shop again this week. Computer error, transmission error, or shift lever- all are being corrected (thank goodness for long warrenties). And, only two days after taking him in, I was given a rental car. A super tricked out limited edition Edge which feels like driving a luxury hovercraft with touchscreen abilities. I'm tempted to try out the park assist but also terrified to try it out. Same goes for the system that alerts and prevents collisions. I did, however, test out the sunroof and the realtime fuel efficiency meter. And connect my phone to it via bluetooth for podcasts.

And now I'm just exhausted by the whole car thing. After getting Pedro fixed then him not being fixed and being too late to rent a car twice, I had to figure out how to be able to park the rental car near my apartment without getting a parking ticket and the more help I got the less helpful it was. My father was emailing with the village about sending faxes of the rental agreement and leaving passes at the police department, but we didn't get the rental until after the village office closed anyway. My roommate was told another story when she walked to the village hall in person. And then, in the end, I just had to park my car around the corner and call a service to make it so it wouldn't get ticketed or towed (and we'll see in the morning if that has actually worked).

While the Edge does have a few things improved from Pedro, I still miss him. Especially his fuel economy. 32-47 mpg beats 16 any day of the week.

I guess it's pretty good that he made it almost two years with no problems other than with the Sync updates (a Microsoft program having major bugs? What are the odds!). Hopefully, though, this will be the last of the issues for a while. He needs to get me to a lot of places in the next few years before he's paid off!

So, What Exactly Does "Amazonian Clay" Mean?

In the midst of rubbing in a sample's worth of an Amazonian Clay detox mask onto my face, I paused as I put a little bit more on my nose and realized...

... this face mask smells like pee. I don't think that was the intention.

Amazons are some rugged broads, putting pee-scented clay on their faces. Oh, you mean it's from that other Amazon? The one in South America? Huh. Why do we have mythological Amazons and then the Amazon River/Rain Forest in a completely different location from where the Amazons were supposed to be? Is this a West Indies/East Indies type of thing?

Anyway: Apparently this is beauty week for this blog? Okay, then: face masks. I like doing them, especially when I feel like I've gotten behind on my skin regime and need a crash-course for my skin. Especially when they're free samples from Sephora. I don't think I'd ever feel okay paying $38 for five applications of a face mask (seriously, talk about a price that's mostly for the packaging!). I probably wouldn't feel okay even stretching it to ten applications. The stuff was good, but not miracle-level good. Right now I'm on a Murad kick with their 30 Day System and it comes with an awesomely sized sulfur mask that is gentle enough to put on, let dry, and then just sleep in it without getting super-irritated skin. And it's just as effective as the one ProActiv makes, if not more so.

But back to the Tarte Amazonian Clay mask. The nice thing about it is that it has the jojoba beads, so you are reminded to really try to rub the mask in rather than just painting it on. I never feel like jojoba beads actually do any exfoliating (I can already hear my AVEDA Institute graduate friend grumbling about me just saying that.) but having them there does give an impression of exfoliation happening.

However, the best part was that I applied the mask while sitting on my bed watching Mad Men and right after plucking my eyebrows (sidenote: what's with the fashion world suddenly embracing brushy eyebrows right as I finally figure out how to shape and fill-in mine? Argh). To pluck my eyebrows, I use a little lamp that uses a 15 watt bulb so that I can get bright light right where I need it, and usually turn off all other lights.

So, the sun was setting, my room was getting darker, and I just had this little un-shaded 15 watt light casting shadows while I covered my face in a face mask.

Then, I heard the front door unlock. You know where this is going, right?

The roommate walks down the hall, visibly flinches when she sees me with the mask on and weird "I'm telling a ghost story" shadows happening, and just sighs and goes, "Did you do that just to freak me out?"

"Yes," I answered, "I did it just for you."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The BB Cream Strikes Again!

So, I thought I was getting a handle on the BB cream situation. I thought I was past the Mr. Skullhead Boneyhands phase of looking ridiculous.

I swear, for a good couple of months, it wasn't the wrong shade for my skin. I was to the point where I was applying it with a sponge and then layering powder over it and it looked pretty good.

I don't know if it's that I got used to applying it with the sponge when I do have time and now the applying with my fingers when I don't have time is looking worse in comparison without actually changing or what.

I just don't don't understand how I managed to get paler over the spring than I apparently was in the colder months.

Am I a vampire and just don't know it? Is that why I have so many digestive problems?

That would suck (insert rimshot here).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Ol' Factory System...

I worry about smelling bad. A lot.

I worry about antiperspirants being unhealthy. Not as much as I worry about smelling bad, but enough to get in the way of more productive thoughts.

My mother feels it is her duty to tell me when I smell. It could be 105 degrees out, I could've been moving furniture all day, and could've just stepped in dog crap right in front of her, but she will feel the need to inform me that I smell. Because she worries that I don't know that already, I guess. Like I said, she feels it's a duty of hers.

I'm so glad I never shared space with her during my air condition-free summer in Arizona. I also did not have temperature control on my shower at that time (and it wasn't that great of a shower, it was a whole big thing) and couldn't take cold showers to help the situation. And I worked at home most of the time. I think I would've spent the summer crying if she had been around. I already knew I smelled not-good a lot of the time, even if I made sure to shower right before leaving the house and used as many good smelling body products as possible. But it was southern Arizona in the summer and I had no air conditioning, what could I do? Thankfully, I was never the only person smelling a tad ripe.

Back then, I would use over-the-counter (or, rather, on-the-shelf) clinical strength antiperspirants when interacting with people, and keep a bottle of a matching fragrance cheap spray for last-minute scent touch-ups. I'd try to not get hugged. And I was constantly searching the food co-op for hopes of a "healthy" alternative product. And be it a crystal rock or Tom's of Maine, nothing worked.

And the one thing I have noticed with the clinical strength stuff is that while it helps with your underarms, it makes the rest of you sweat more. My back and thighs end up soaked in sweat (or with those weird under-knee sweat beads running down my legs) so much more when I'm wearing clinical strength deodorant compared to normal stuff.

These days, I live in Illinois with no air conditioning (we're working on window units for the bedrooms). I do, however, have temperature control on my shower now and work full-time in a place so air conditioned that my face sometimes freezes in my cubicle. 

I still worry about smelling, though. I worry about smelling like a litter box (I love my cat, but her box stinks when I get home from work and I frequently worry that my clothes and self might smell like that as well but I don't notice it), I worry about smelling like my downstairs neighbor's bong, I worry about smelling like the girl that hasn't done her laundry in four weeks.

 I kind of suck at being a lady, but I do have a few (get ready to roll your eyes!) "signature" items- including scents: I try to stick to just plain ol' vanilla mostly. I've tried flowery stuff (I had a couple years of using only Stella McCartney's Stella), I've had samples from every major perfume carried by Sephora, and have sampled everything Fresh makes. While I like the Fresh stuff enough and like smelling of sugar and fruit as well, I still prefer a straight-up rich vanilla scent.

For a few years, I'd buy the various vanilla type body sprays from Bath & Body Works (again, for on-the-go "I worry I smell like a cat box" touches) but those go away pretty quickly and have a chemical-y undertone to them.

Now, I've fallen in love with Lavanilla's roll-on forever oil fragrance. They have several different options, but I stick to straight-up vanilla for the forever oil. Because it's just Madagascar vanilla and almond oil. Nuthin' else. There's something so nice about it just being a single scent. And a vanilla scent rich enough that it can't be twisted by something else (something I've recently had problems with when using my Neilsen Massey Madagascar vanilla extract in a body scrub and having it end up smelling like vanilla yogurt. That was not ideal). I now have a theory that you should keep scents simple so that you don't end up with a pile-up of fragrance from all your beauty products.

I keep the tube of forever oil it in my purse or coat pocket and use it once in the morning and again in the evening if I'm going out- and it lasts many hours and smells amazing. Only rarely does it result in people around me asking if anyone else smells cookies, and when it does I'm just amused by it- it's nice to smell like something nice!

Of course, as soon as I wrote this entry, I then was asked if I was wearing Karl Lagerfeld's Sun Moon Stars, which does have vanilla notes to it, although I don't have any memory of ever trying it. However, that does prove my point. I applied it at about 10 am and was complimented on it after 6 pm. That's impressive!

In the past few weeks, I've also become accustomed to also rubbing myself down with virgin coconut oil after and between showers to help with skin issues. This has also given me a very slight coconut-y smell at times and I think it also helps with keeping over-all body odor between showers at bay long (I swear!). It's not a strong coconut smell, though. Or, at least, not the strong coconut smell I associate with my grandfather, a man that was very fond of sunbathing in the stuff.

As for when I am freshly showered, I'll still smell a little coconut-y from my homemade body scrub, but the Lavanilla body wash I use doesn't leave a scent on the skin. Same from my tea tree oil shampoo- no real scent left from it.

And, the biggie now, I've started to use the Soapwalla deodorant cream for most days. I've read so many people raving about it on the internet, I had to try it to see if it'd finally get me off of the stuff on the shelves. While it hasn't been warm enough to really test the Soapwalla stuff's strength yet, it seems to be holding up okay so far. I did, however, switch back to a clinical strength antiperspirant for C2E2. As I wanted to do my best to not be yet another smelly nerd.

And the deodorant cream has a distinctly non-deodorant-y smell to it (although, you can barely smell it at that). The official description says lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil but I mostly only smell the tea tree oil- and it's a soft scent of it at that. So much better to catch a whiff of than anything by Dove, Secret, or Degree.

I do think that the Soapwalla stuff still needs to be re-applied if I'm going out after work and haven't applied any since 7 AM, though. Which I would be doing with the clinical strength stuff anyway. Like I said, my mother loves to tell me when I stink and I don't want to encourage anyone else to feel like they can be that frank with me (I have, however, decided that my payback method is to frequently tell her she has a booger hanging out of her nose when she doesn't).

Now that it has finally started to get warmer out, this stuff is really on my mind. I'm hopeful that this year, I will really win at smelling good 90% of the time. I'm still trying to find a fabric "freshener" (I know, they're horrible, but sometimes I need to space out my laundry loads more and more as I don't have a working washer and dryer in my building) that has a good vanilla scent. I've done Lavender (which is sort of my go-to back up scent, despite how even I find it a little grandmother-y smelling. Despite how neither of my grandmothers ever smelled of lavender. One always smells like clean linen and the other always wore White Shoulders. I digress...) fabric fresheners but it's just not the same.

Maybe the next step should be making vanilla potpourri that my cat won't eat (or, at least, won't get sick from eating).

But that's sort of where I've landed recently: vanilla, lavender, coconut, and a bit of tea tree oil. Am I simplifying it too much? Should I be embracing my natural stink more? 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fe Homo Sapien Sapien Thrice: Movie Review

Hat tip to The Mary Sue for the remix video. 
All Iron Man 3 footage in the remix is from trailers and ads.

Hey, how about a movie review? Sure! Vague Spoilers Ahoy!

Backstory: This week, the roommate revealed that she had never seen either Iron Man movie or The Avengers (outside of the hour we watched together when I bought the movie in September). But she really wanted to see Iron Man 3. BUT WE HAD NO TIME!

So, Friday evening, we watched Iron Man and then debated about watching Iron Man 2- which I insist is mostly skippable other than for the Black Widow introduction and knowing that Rhodey now has the War Machine suit. Instead, we skipped right to watching The Avengers, trying to get the best movies in before seeing Iron Man 3 at our local theater.

But then we realized that our local theater's last showing was at 10:00 pm. So we only got to exactly where we left off the last time. But she was cool with it, so I was cool with it.

We saw the movie. It was in 3-D but didn't really use the 3-D at all, as is usually the case. I think the 3-D was actually limited to only the trailers. Which... whatever. I'd much rather not have any actual 3-D after paying for it than have the terrible Hobbit situation happen again.

The movie was really good! It was very Shane Black-y. Very Lethal Weapon with science fiction thrown in. Very buddy cop movie, but as the best buddy cop movie I've seen in decades. While also really bothering to follow-up on all the shit that happened in The Avengers.

And Robert Downey Jr just acts his ass off. 

And Ben Kingsley is AMAZING. 

And Adam Pally from Happy Endings showed up! 

Also, there's a cute post-credits scene (as is expected with Marvel movies). And Rhodey is actually given shit to do! And Pepper has... some moments. I guess Pepper's plotline is better than Iron Man 2 but they still don't really know what to do with Pepper. Hell, even Happy has a big story arc now that's he's not also the director of the film.

There are things that annoy me about it- Pepper's plot and the villain backstory (I'm so sick of villains that have pre-existing ties to Tony Stark), but it was a lovely way to possibly finish the Iron Man story. Which is a lot more than what I can say for fucking The Dark Knight Rises.

Although, yes, my displeasure with The Dark Knight Rises has a lot to do with how I'm much more emotionally connected to Batman stories than Iron Man stories- but I still think The Dark Knight Rises had a lame conclusion (and beginning, and plot, and... this is not the time for this).

Anyway... I love a good early May superhero movie. Iron Man Three (as the credits at the end say) got me jazzed up and that's what counts!

In fact, the roommate and I were so jazzed up, we went home and finished The Avengers (as she kept going, "What wormhole?! What ALIENS?! What are people talking about?!) and didn't go to bed until, oh, 2 or 3 AM. Weekends are fun!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nerdery of A Different Order: Musicals!

Sometimes, I'm a theater geek. More specifically, I'm a musical theater geek. But it comes and goes, I'm not a diehard obsessive (usually). After the overload that was C2E2 and the roommate and I joking about how I'd only go in costume if I was completely unrecognizable, then somehow reaching a point where I said I'd paint myself green and do a twist on the Wicked Witch of the West (mostly as a version of Elphaba from Wicked), I was feeling the urge to bite the bullet and get a damn ticket to Big Fish (the musical) before it left Chicago. I had been wanting to see it, but unable to find someone to go with me- even with discounts.

So, after a doctor's appointment on Thursday, I was aleady in the nieghborhood and managed to get a last minute discounted ticket to Big Fish for that night. Even though it meant that I had to bring a massive haul of nutritional supplements from the doctor with me to the show. Thank goodness I thought to bring the huge purse I borrowed from a friend a while back that could hold it all (for the most part). It was a little awkward to have the giant bag between my legs for the show, but thankfully only one person tried to walk past me down my row after I sat down.

I wanted to see it so much, though. It wasn't because I loved the movie (in fact, I found the movie to be kind of disappointing and lopsided- something that happens a lot with Tim Burton) but because Norbert Leo Butz was starring in it. I knew I'd be kicking myself if I didn't take this chance to see him live for once in my life.

A few years ago, I got mildly obsessed with Mr. Butz. I'm going to mostly blame seeing Wicked for that. He wasn't in the production that I saw, but he is, of course, on the soundtrack. And I was pretty ill when I saw Wicked, which gave me time to obsess about the show a little bit. Because it wasn't perfect or great... but there was something about the show that I just couldn't let go of. Then I started finding bootleg footage (this was right before YouTube took off, and before Google bought YouTube and Google Video was the best source for the videos at the time) of the original cast.  And then ended up seeing footage of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And then bought that soundtrack. And then discovered The Last 5 Years and bought THAT soundtrack as well. Which is... seriously impressive. His voice is great- but his physicality when he embraces a role is the really impressive part. He does these roles that he both disappears into but also is able to do incredibly physical choreography as that character in a way that few people seem to be able to do- or have the energy to do. Like, look at his Tony performances (for the two roles he received Tonys for, naturally):

This is him in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, where he moves around the stage and literally dances circles around everyone:

And then in Catch Me If You Can, where he's basically embodying a middle-aged G-man with back and prostate problems while dancing. I love how his arms seem to mostly move below the elbow and his legs mostly move below the knees:

In the end, I got the ticket because I was worried that if I missed this chance, he'd be slowing down or giving up doing big physical roles by the next time I might get a chance to see him. Also, as the above clips show, he already has been getting casted for roles that don't show off his vocals abilities as well as his acting abilities, and I was hopeful that maybe Big Fish would finally do both.

As for Big Fish, it was so worth seeing. It's not a life-changing musical, but it is a good musical. The songs are really sweet (but not overly memorable- two of them can be heard here, but those are not the best songs in the show, if you ask me), the message is so much more focused and impactful than the movie, and the technical aspects with all the projection work and things that skewed the average musical set up were amazing. I really recommend seeing it, if you get a chance.

From the moment it starts, first revealing that there is now an everflowing river where the orchestra pit should be and that the orchestra is now behind the cyclorama- you're gently lulled into the world of Edward Bloom, where everything is just a little bit different but there's always that river to be there and let you know that you haven't wandered too far.

Everything has been crafted just slightly better and sturdier than in the film. The main characters are more rounded (especially Will and Josephine) and the focus of the story has been put back on Will and Edward as a father and son that have trouble understanding each other but know they're running out of time. More purpose has been put in Edward's stories when they come in, and he comes across as a much better- but still flawed- person than in the film version.

Also, just having the same actor always playing Edward really pulls everything together. I don't think it would've worked nearly as well if there was one actor playing the older Edward and one actor (or two, if you do a child actor as well) playing the younger version. I love both Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor, but this Edward Bloom is so much more of a whole person. He's not Ewan McGregor's constantly smiling "I know I'm no going to die, so what do I care?" naive Edward. This is a more focused version- used more as being a father acting out his past to his son- even when he's confined to a bed. And is definitely helped by Butz's ability to really embody the character from a kid wandering through the forest with his friends to being an old man struggling to hang on to his life just a little bit longer.

In addition to that, the character of Jenny is clarified a bit more. She's still tragic and sad,  but it's not nearly as frustrating as her side of the story was in the film (also, far less distracting now that she's not being played by a heavily pregnant Helena Bonham Carter when the character was very not pregnant). The town of Specter is completely removed from the musical, however, to keep it from getting too complicated. John August (who also wrote the screenplay for the movie) seems to have really taken notes on how to improve from the last version of the story and realized that The Story should be the first focus and the stories Edward tells should come second and only to move The Story forward.

Also, it just flows so well as a musical. I'm the type of person that looks for the seams when it comes to  stage productions- trying to see where the trap doors are, where there looks to be a piece of scenery that's going to be used for something else in an upcoming moment, and so on. But everything was so fluidly changed and evolving that there were a few set changes that really seemed to have happened in the blink of an eye. Not to mention how at least once, there was a moment where there are actors on stage but you don't realize that they're not just props until suddenly they reveal themselves halfway into the scene. At one point, even flowers start to bloom from the boards of the stage as if from no where.

The one thing is that it really is a smaller show. The cast looked to have under 30 people in it and while they're all amazing, it does feel very scaled down from the giant casts of mega-musicals like Les Mis and The Lion King. But those people are all used incredibly well and what the show lacks in actual people on the stage, it makes up in amazing set pieces and visuals- to the point of there being dancing elephants in the background of one of the scenes at the circus.

As I said, I really recommend it.

Although, I'm a little amused by the little coupon items handed out at the end of the show I went to:

How nice of BroadwayInChicago to give us $20 off coupon codes... that expired hours beforehand that same night. A little lame, my friends.

As I went to the show alone after an appointment and I still had to work the next day, after I left the Oriental, I just started walking back to my L stop. For a moment, I thought about trying to find the stage door, but I just always found that to be a weird thing to do. I'm not really an autograph person. I have a few things that I really love that are autographed (Bruce Campbell's If Chins Could Kill and Stephen Fry's Steven Fry's America) but I treasure those more, actually, due to the fact that I wasn't the one that went to the signings- they were gifts from dear friends of mine that knew that I adored those people.

So, I just kept walking to the L, sticking close to a group that also left the theater just to be safe about not looking like I was alone and wandering the streets late at night. But then the group turned down a street in the opposite direction as the L... which I then realized was actually an alley, not a street. And there was the little glowing sign saying "Stage Door".

And I actually gathered my courage to head over to the crowd at the door, figuring that I'd stand there fore a bit and probably not have anyone come out that way- as that is how my luck works most of the time.

But that wasn't the case. In fact, the only person working through the crowd signing things was Norbert Leo Butz himself. And he knew what he was doing. There was a cluster of women that were talking to him as he signed things and I was so far back and didn't want to push- as I said, autographs aren't a big thing for me. I was just so happy to have seen him in action for real during the show still.

But, as I said, he's as good as a two-time Tony winner should be- he saw me and signed my Playbill.
 We have a win!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Backseat Gaming: A Little More Bioshocking

As a follow up to my previous Bioshock Infinite post, I just want to include a few links for people that talk more (or at least more articulately) about their feelings about the game at large.

I also feel I need to weigh in more on the violence issue. As I mentioned, the violence was difficult for me to sit through but I didn't mean that as much of a criticism. For the most part, I feel like the violence was necessary for making a point. Especially as a counterpoint to how beautiful and utopian Columbia can seem on the surface. It's even impressive that when the violence does start up, it's in the beautiful golden soft sunlight daytime- and suddenly there's blood all over the pristine world. It wasn't violent for amusement or entertainment- it was violence that was meant to be difficult. You're supposed to feel like you have blood on your hands, as Booker DeWitt started the game with a muddy history that he wasn't so fond of.

But that doesn't make it much easier to deal with. And I do say "for the most part" because, as a viewer and not a player, some of those battles went on way too long.

Anyway, just some follow up links:

1) The Indoor Kids podcast. They did a super spoiler-y episode for Bioshock Infinite (also contains a major spoiler for the film Oldboy without warning, so watch out!) that I've now listened to half a dozen times. Also, you should just listen to this podcast every week. It's one of my favorites.

They mentioned the game several times leading up to this episode (not wanting to do a full-on spoiler episode until they had finished playing) and I especially like it when Emily brings up the fact that there are some really horrific things said by characters in the game and she couldn't help but think about how some voice actor had to bring themselves to say that. I always wonder about how actors feel about when they have to portray characters that do or say terrible things.

2) Another podcast, but a bit less expected: Things You Missed in History Class, part of HowStuffWorks, did a two-parter on the Loving v Virginia case (which is worth listening to anyway). At the end of the episode, the hosts answered letters from listeners and Bioshock Infinite and the issue of "portrayal of racism versus endorsement of racism" was touched on.

3) Check out the review of the game (on XBOX 360) at The Buzz Media. It's a nice fully laid out breakdown of the game without spoiling it for anyone that still hasn't played it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On Sociology, Monarchy, and Traits of Merpeople.

The roommate and I talk about The Little Mermaid almost as much as A League of Their Own. We were both the perfect ages for it when it came out and it warped our minds wonderfully. I realized today that I haven't watched the movie in maybe five years (which was when we used a VHS copy that someone else gave to us, not the original VHS copy from my childhood, and were frozen by the awkward Jodi Benson music video), so I popped over to Listen To A Movie as I was suddenly wondering about a few things when it comes to the society presented for Ariel's people.

So, what was bugging me and drove me towards listening to it at work was the whole performance the princesses do at the beginning. What the hell is that? How often do they do that? Is their society one where women of money learn to sing, paint, play an instrument, and sew and not much else? Who are they performing for? The court? The whole kingdom? Is it just singing? Or is there more of a performance? Doesn't it seem a little too caberet/vaudeville/tacky for royal princesses to be doing?

When did Ariel manage to go missing? Was she originally in that shell and left during the performance? It seems like she just missed the whole performance. Did no one bother to check that she was in there?

And what, exactly, is Sebastian's job? He's introduced as a composer at the very beginning (with his full name!) but seems to be an advisor of some sort to Triton as well. And possibly a tutor to Triton's daughters? Man, that's a lot of hats for one crab. According to the prequel, he was Triton's attaché first, then (also?) the royal composer. Maybe if he had fewer roles in the kingdom, he wouldn't have started a performance with the star missing.

If life is that hard for the youngest of seven princesses, how tough are things on Aquata (assuming she's the oldest, as she's named first in their song)? Why was the sequel just a flip-flopped situation for Ariel's daughter and not expanding more on those six other sisters? What are their deals? Would Aquata even be next in line or does the crown only pass to the next male? Where were all those girls when Triton was in danger? Oh, hell, when Ariel went missing? They should've Charlie's Angelfish-upped to help!

Also, as the roommate pointed out recently: where did all this genetic variation in these seven sisters come from and what's the age span here? Are some of these daughters in their twenties still single? Triton seems super happy when Ariel has met a man, so maybe some of them are married but still live in the castle?

Although, while working on the age span possibilities, I then brought in the possibility that merpeople reproduce by laying eggs and that several and/or all sisters could be from the same laying and be the same age but with Ariel being the last to hatch. Apparently bringing in reproduction logics was a step too far. Again.

Also, what the hell is up with Triton's magic? Is it just the triton? Turning a mermaid into a human seems like it would be out of a magical triton's abilities. What is the triton's magic normally used for? Does anyone else (other than seawitches like Ursula) have magic or magical objects? Do the princesses get trained to use it?

Finally, two tangents:


2) Man, that teaser poster for the movie is still amazingly striking.