Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beyond Infinity: Toy Story 3

When a film is advertised as being "fun for the whole family" very rarely does the whole family find it fun to watch. The child is amused, maybe, and will probably watch it several thousand times more if only for background noise, but that's about it. The adults, for the most part, are bored. As are the teenagers, and as are the kids that fall into that difficult to define "older children" demographic. We've all seen these "family friendly" films before, maybe with slightly different characters or situations, but with the same overall plot, jokes and stereotypes. The term "family film" has come to mean "film in which my two-year-old will force me to go to and will invariably involve the line 'say hello to my little friend' spoken horribly out of context" It seemed, for quite a while, that a film in which the entire family - mom, dad, older sibling, younger sibling, baby - could be entertained and take something from just didn't exist. A film was either a "children's movie" a "teen movie" or an "adult movie" There was no crossover.

Then came Pixar.

Suddenly you saw adults of all ages, twenties, thirties, all the way up to their seventies or eighties lining up to see Finding Nemo, a movie that, at it's core, is a children's cartoon about fish. Legitimate film critics were raving about the last fifteen minutes of Ratatouille, while college students all over the world were writing papers on the political connotations of Wall-E. Grown men, people who have never shed a single tear in their life, were bawling during the opening of Up! a movie which, along with Disney's Beauty and the Beast, is one of only two animated movies to have ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. The rise of Pixar is a phenomenon of unparalleled proportions, somehow managing to raise family fare to an art form and never let it fall.

So how does Pixar do it? How does this tiny company, which began in 1979 as a software company, create such beautiful films that the Academy itself is forced to acknowledge them?

Much as how John Hughes achieved success by making "films about teenagers" rather than just "teen movies" Pixar succeeds by telling stories rather than just making "kids movies". The studio does not go out to make the next G-Force or Marmaduke, it doesn't set it's sights on creating the next big "kids movie" it simply starts with a story. Is the story necessarily a kid's story? Not really. A robot left alone on a post-apocalyptic Earth doesn't exactly scream "kid's fare" and yet, the story was told. It's not that Pixar doesn't create films with children in mind, every story they tell is very carefully crafted to be one that a child could understand, they simply don't feel the need to rely on previously conceived "kids movie" cliches to make it into a successful movie for kids. Their stories are some of the most honest tales currently in Hollywood, stories that rely on legitimate emotion rather than the same repeated joke. They are films before they are "kids movies" and can thus be held on the same pedestal as traditional "adult" fare.

Never was this ability put into more effect than in Pixar's most recent film, the highly anticipated Toy Story 3. In this, Pixar proves once again that not only can they make a compelling, gorgeously put together sequel that almost rivals the original in quality, but they can create a film that is watchable, and re-watchable literally by all ages. The story is a heartbreaking look at childhood, being at once celebratory and tear-inducing. It honors childhood while examining and acknowledging it's eventual end, allowing the need to move on and grow up to not be a tragedy, but simply the next step.

The plot is, actually, pretty simple. Andy, the toy's owner, is going to college, and the toys are worried that this is the end of them. Through a few amusing mishaps, the gang ends up getting donated to a local daycare, a place that at first seems perfect - they will always be played with and will never be outgrown- but in fact turns out to be a rather frightening den of pain and despair, as the children of the daycare treat them like normal toddlers treat their toys as opposed to Andy's lovingly imaginative playtime.

Despite how nightmare inducing the entire daycare sequence is, I think it's one of the first lines you hear there that really gave me chills. Upon arrival, they are greeted by a large pink "Lots-o-Hugs" bear who tells them that, in daycare, there are no owners, and with no owners there is no pain and "no one to hurt them." I think it's the lack of feeling behind it that gets to me, especially once you get further into Lotso's character.

As a person who just recently left home and went to college, this movie personally hit me hard. It's difficult to say what moment made me cry first. Was it the moment young Andy's sister knocked down his play set and he just incorporated it into his toy fantasy? Was it when he rolled his eyes at his mother telling him to do something about his old toys and his conflicted look back at them as her request actually sinks in? Or was it the moment when the toys are faced basically with their own deaths and Jessie turns to Buzz and asks "What do we do?" and his only response is to take her hand and simply look at her in a way that says ten times more than any possible words could say?

It's hard to say. If I had to pick, it was probably the ending, which I would describe but I don't want to spoil. It was one of the most beautiful sequences I think I've ever seen in any movie, let alone an animated movie, and proves once again just how much of a command Pixar has over stories and emotions. Whatever age you are, you will be touched by this moment. Whether you are the adult saying goodbye to your child, the teenager getting ready to leave home, or the child still happily allowed to just sit and play with your toys, you will get caught up in the sheer poignancy of it and, yes, will most likely catch yourself shedding a tear.

The definition of a "family film" is one that can be enjoyed by every member of a family. Despite the derailment this definition has been suffering from lately, Pixar, and in particular Toy Story 3, has managed to single handedly resurrect the genre. Toy Story 3 is a movie that anyone can watch, and not feel like they're the wrong age to be watching it. It is a film with both comedy and heart, and a depth to it that surpasses much of today's adult fare while still being conceivable to kids. It is the type of movie I have been waiting to see, and one that I hope desperately to see more of.

Pixar has indeed done it again. Long may they rein.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just A Note

This is just to point out that I'm aware of the five million spelling and grammatical in my previous post, as well as the stunningly bad writing. Be aware that though I claimed it was one in the morning, it was really more like two thirty or three, and I had been working all day (at Ace Hardware, no less) and had basically lost my sanity anyway. Why I decided it would be a good idea to discuss my recent stunning achievement in nerdiness, I really have no idea. But, there it is. A full blown, honest to God, legitimate rant.

I should really learn to not Blog at three in the morning.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Terrors of Yu-Gi-Oh (Or, How To Survive Being Eaten By A Dragon)

So, as has probably been made abundantly clear throughout the nine entries of this blog, I am insane. Like, completely and utterly crazy. I may seem like a smart, quirky college student with a bit too much free time on my hands, but the reality is that these seemingly lucid moments are just a mask for the sheer madness that is me.

Luckily though, there are moments when I'm not alone in my lunacy. It's in moments where I've particularly lost it that I tend to be joined by my resident long suffering best friend Casey.

Casey and I have known each other for a grand total of about fourteen years, which considering the fact that we're both currently nineteen is a really, really long time. Somehow, despite the fact that I tend to randomly appear at her house at completely ridiculous hours to rant at her or kidnap her or do any number of other insane things, for some reason she still hangs around with me. That's the power of friendship for you, I guess.

And, speaking of the power of friendship, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of it? Why Yu-Gi-Oh, of course!

Ah yes, Yu-Gi-Oh. Everyone's favorite card game related anime. For those of you not in the know, Yu-Gi-Oh is a show that aired on Kid's WB back in the early 2000's, best known for making absolutely no sense, having a terrible English dub, and for popularizing a Magic: The Gathering ripoff game that kids would occasionally play in participating Toys R Us stores. It was big back when I was in middle school, and though I didn't quite understand what was going on (I wasn't terribly interested in card games and missed most of the first half of season two) I watched it when I caught it and made a legitimate effort to figure out why this kid with a split personality disorder kept getting screamed at while playing with trading cards. By the time I got to high school, the craze had basically worn off and people had either forgotten about it, or had written it off as a Pokemon ripoff.

Then came LittleKuriboh. LK is the creator, writer, editor, and sole voice actor of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, an absolutely brilliant attempt to summarize the entire series by chopping up episodes, re-dubbing them, and making them even more ridiculous than they already are. The episodes are up on YouTube, and despite their numbers now being up in the forties, they remain consistently well written, put together, and performed. The popularity of the series is both incredible and well deserved, being one of the few complete internet series I will watch over and over again and still laugh at. It took the internet by storm and created an entire genre of "Abridging" random anime shows.

I first saw the series when I was a sophomore in high school and started really getting into it when I was a junior. Despite how ridiculous I knew the show was, watching it made me want to revisit some of the actual episodes. Being a Sailor Moon fan, I wisely knew to stay away from the dub, and this time explored some of the show in Japanese.

The verdict? It's about the same. Some things are slightly more epic, like villains being actually able to kill people, and Yami/Yugi's voice actor not being so hammy, but for the most part you're still watching a show that revolves basically around a bunch of unsupervised kids running around the world playing card games that apparently decide the fate of the universe. Or something. There's a season that was animated by a different company called "Season 0" that actually is kind of epic if you're willing to put up with the terrible animation quality, but for the most part, the show is basically what you see in the Abridged Series, except the characters take themselves seriously.

So what does this have to do with Casey and my own insanity? That's a very interesting question with a very bizarre and slightly nerdy answer. At some point in early 2009, back when I was having some sort of end-of-high-school-existential-crisis, I decided to watch the fourth season of Yu-Gi-Oh. Why? I don't know, I was losing my mind at the time. The fourth season is generally regarded to be the worst of the show's five, the plot being completely derailed for an entire season to make way for a completely ridiculous unrelated story about Atlantis and a bunch of dragons. Yeah. The animation is terrible, the voice acting goes way over the top, even in Japanese, and the plot is so convoluted and hard to follow it could almost rival Neon Genesis Evangelion for it's sheer level of incomprehensibility.

For some reason, after making my way through a few of the episodes, getting confused, looking up the synopsis on Wikipedia, trying again, getting more confused, consulting an episode guide, and finally just getting angry, I decided to tell Casey about it. In excruciating detail. For two straight hours.

I really do wonder sometimes why Casey still hangs out with me...

But luckily, rather than decide I had truly lost it, or perhaps realizing I had and just deciding to go with it, Casey came up with a brilliant challenge. At that moment, at some point in February 2009, the two of us decided to do the impossible. We were going to watch the entire fourth season of Yu-Gi-Oh, in Japanese, all the way through, from first episode to the last, and try our hardest to live through it.

Well, dear readers, I can now officially say that a year and a half later, the two of us have, indeed, finished the entire season and lived to tell about it. It was a grueling task, one made all the more difficult by the fact that we were in completely different states for most of it, but we pulled it off. On my birthday, no less.

So what did we think of it? Well...the general consensus is that it's a mind screw. It makes no sense in either English or Japanese and probably never will. Casey's reaction, being the sane one in our dynamic duo, was pretty temperate. She thought it was confusing and random and had to follow, all the basic things we had known it was going to be going into it. My reaction, being me, was a bit more...extreme.

Warning: The following synopsis was written entirely from memory at one in the morning. Expect things to be confusing, and expect there to be profanity.

The season opens in Japan. Maybe. Yami, the Pharaoh in Yugi's head who isn't actually named Yami, is all "We've found the three Egyptian God Cards, now we can unlock my memory" and Yugi's all "But I'll miss you!" and there's some sad stuff going on. Luckily, at that exact moment, a group of evil motorcycle riding cosplayers sweep in and steal the God Cards, ruining Not-Yami's chance at regaining his memories and leaving Yugi's head. Damn. The cosplayers are revealed to be working for this unbelievably effeminate-looking guy called "Dartz" who seems to be running some sort of evil cult thing. He's all "MWAHAHAHAHAHA!! At last, we can begin our evil plan to do something that will DESTROY THE WORLD!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!" to which his henchmen respond with something along the lines of "Yes, Master!" It's around this point that Casey and I were suddenly bombarded with advertisements for the chruch of Scientology, so of course we automatically assumed that the evil religion Dartz is serving is, in fact, Scientology.

Back with Yugi/Yami, Yugi is trying to sleep but gets pulled into Yami's mind. The two of them take all of one second to try and puzzle this out before hearing a scream and deciding it would be a better idea to running after that. They end up falling into some sort of alternative universe thing where Duel Monsters, the monsters on the cards used to play their epic card game, are apparently real despite the fact that they've been previously established as being fictional. Whatever. Supposedly they're still in Yami's mind despite being in an alternate dimension, but again, I don't really care enough to try and figure out how the hell that works. One of Yugi's favorite cards, the Dark Magician Girl tells them that the world of the duel monsters is collapsing and they need three legendary warriors who can control the three legendary dragons to save their world and restore balance to the multiverse. Yami and Yugi, who apparently only count as one warrior despite clearly being two separate identities, are naturally one of the chosen warriors and are told to pull a random sword that is never seen again out of a giant, dragon-shaped ice crystal. They do so, and the dragon they instantly know is named "Timeaus" is unleashed, somehow transporting them not only out of this weird alternate dimension, but throwing Yugi back into his own body. Or something. Maybe.

So then duel monsters start coming to life in the real world. Oh no. There's this big epic eye thing in the sky and all of Japan is like "ZOMG! THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT!" and start panicking in the streets like usual. Yugi's three friends, Jonouchi, Honda, and alternatively Anzu/Kyoko depending on what the subtitles feel like calling her, all show up in exactly the same spot Yugi runs to and start panicking like the rest of the world. Yugi stands around looking confused for a second before pulling out a card he just suddenly happened to find in his deck (why was he looking through his deck in the middle of a national emergency?) which instantly turns into the powerful dragon Timeaus. Apparently, this not only stops the eye thingy, but pisses off the evil Dartz, who is somehow able to see this from his super secret lair in the middle of nowhere.

So yeah. Everyone decides to blame Seto Kaiba for all this, due to him being the creator of the hologram technology that makes duel monsters appear during duels. Despite the fact the monsters are clearly NOT holograms, and are destroying buildings and stuff, the world turns against him so he goes to America to recover. The rest of the gang are sitting at home wondering if they should be doing something when suddenly the creepy pedophile guy who calls everyone "boy" shows up and tells them to go the US to save him. So they do.

They end up at some building in a desert that now inexplicably exists just outside of San Francisco where they discover a whole bunch of people who give them various bits of exposition, like the fact that the evil cosplayers are members of the Church of Scientology and are taking people's souls with an evil card called the "Seal of Something I Can't Pronounce or Spell" that feeds on the darkness in human souls or something, and the fact that Jonouchi and Kaiba are the other two legendary warriors, and the fact that Jonouchi's occasional love interest Mai became a Scientologist because she kept losing at things, and the fact that Yami's not sure whether or not he was a good or evil king back in Ancient Egypt, and the fact that the card game apparently originated in Atlantis rather than Egypt which was never mentioned before and is never brought up again, and that these two bug kids followed them all the way from Japan and to look for rare cards and end up selling their soul to Scientology in order to get them.

Also they meet up with Otogi, better known as Duke Devlin, who randomly shows up in the US in the exact location they're currently at because the US is just that small. Whatever. They needed a car.

So they go to some little girl they once met's trailer and decide to angst for a while because cosplayers are after them and Mai's a scientologist and the pedophile guy is dead. At some point they get a message from the really big blonde cosplayer that Yami should show up in the middle of the desert to duel him, so Yami jumps on a horse and rides through the desert in the middle of the night to go play a card game.

This part would have been one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen, if not for the rest of the series. Just wait.

So Yami battles the blonde cosplayer, who is all "NAMELESS PHARAOH, YOU WERE TOTALLY EVIL IN YOUR PAST LIFE, GIVE INTO THE DARKNESS IN YOUR HEART" to which the Pharaoh's all "No! I won't! I'm not evil! And I'm going to prove it by using this cursed evil card thing that will make me completely evil and immerse me in darkness!"

So then Yami kills Yugi. Oops. He angsts about that for a bit and becomes convinced that he's actually evil and stuff. This inner conflict is actually kind of cool if you don't try to get too deep into analyzing it. They go on a train for some reason and get split up when the train randomly derails because of magic or something. Yami kills one of the bug kids in a particularly brutal fashion which gets Anzu/Kyoko kind of mad, but it's ok because they fall of the train and wake up with this native American guy and his daughter. Jonouchi kills the other bug kid on the other side of the non-plot, while somewhere else Kaiba battles one of the cosplayers who just happens to have a suspiciously similar life to him. My God. The symbolism. It's breathtaking.

So Native American guy and his daughter/granddaughter take Yami to this sacred spirit place where he can talk to Yugi. He does this and Yugi's all "YOU KILLED ME!" and Yami's all "I'M SORRY!" and Yugi's all "I THINK YOU'RE EVIL AND STUFF!!" and Yami's all "YEAH, I PROBABLY AM" and they have a battle. At some point it's revealed that Yami is the Chosen One, the savior of all of humanity, which is a surprise to no one since he's Yami and he's ALWAYS the Chosen One. Anyways, Yami defeats Yugi and Yugi's all "JUST KIDDING! I DON'T REALLY THINK YOU'RE EVIL AND I ACTUALLY JUST REPRESENT YOUR INNER DARK SIDE WHICH YOU'VE JUST DEFEATED!! OR SOMETHING!!" and then he dies, and Yami's all "AIBOU!!!" which means "partner" in Japanese, which adds all sorts of interesting connotations to this, AND THEN THE ROBOTS OF EXPOSITION SHOW UP!

Seriously, I'm not kidding. In the middle of this epic spirit place, someone decides it would be a good idea to throw in some exposition about Atlantis and the fact that Dartz used to be the king of it but messed everything up by taking in the Seal of Something I Can't Pronounce which made him all evil and turned him into a Scientologist bent on destroying the world, but instead of just having someone tell us this, they send in these ANCIENT ATLANTEAN ROBOTS to do it instead, and there's this big battle with these Atlantean exposition robots during which the Native American guy and his daughter/grand daughter both die while trying to get Yami the all important plot device card so he can make the robots stop expositing at him, and then there's something with Anzu/Kyoko...I don't care. But it all ends and Yami's happy and they decide to go off and find everyone else.

So they find everyone else. They're all hanging out in this random city battling people. Kaiba defeats his sympathetic cosplayer guy and runs off to join the others despite not really liking them very much (btw, doesn't he own a multi-million dollar company or something? Who's keep track of that?) and they all meet up just in time to watch Jonouchi get killed by his now psycho ex-girlfriend who immediately blames it on the Church of Scientology and runs inside to confront Dartz. This is, of course, not a wise move, as she is instantly killed and that's basically the last we hear of her. There's some other battle where Yami goes up against the guy who defeated him before when he killed Yami, but honestly, I just don't care.

So they finally find the lair of the Church of Scientology and they finally decide to go up against Dartz. Kaiba and Yami decide to tag team it since they've already lost one of their "legendary duelists" and this Dartz guy/girl/thing looks pretty crazy. They have this big battle during which there's some more exposition about Atlantis and humanity sucking and Dartz deciding the only way to cure human suffering is to kill everyone off. Human Instrumentality, much?

I'd like to point out here that this one battle goes on for SIX EPISODES. Six episodes of people shouting things at each other while playing the most dramatic fucking card game I've ever seen against a villain that just WON'T FUCKING DIE. GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

Anyway. Moving right along. At some point Kaiba gets killed in a scene I actually like better in English. In Japanese he says something like "I believe in you, Yugi" or "You have to save us now" or something, in the English dub he just looks at Yami and says "Don't screw up." It's funny and so very Kaiba, and considering how confusing and bad this ending is I could have used a funny moment to help keep my sanity because honestly, I think I'm losing my mind just trying to type all this out.

So now Kaiba's dead. Oh no. Dartz ups his power level/life points/sailor crystal magic up to infinity making it EVEN MORE IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL HIM, and then kills everyone except Yami. Dartz is all "You have no one left, Nameless Pharaoh, you were probably evil your past life, but you have no memory, you have nothing, why don't you kill yourself?" to which Yami in his infinite wisdom says "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea" when suddenly all these lights pop up out of nowhere and his friends' ghosts show up and we cut to a scene of Yami naked underwater with a cup in his hand talking about filling it with his new memories and feelings and stuff, and whatever attack he was going to use to kill himself just sort of vanishes.

Now, here's where it gets really trippy. So, Dartz is all "Ok, so you're not going to die, I can live with that, I have infinite life points so you're pretty much screwed anyway." To which Yami replies "Ah, no I'm not, bitch" and proceeds to summon the three dragons' true forms, the three legendary warriors, which for some reason he now happens to have all the cards for, who descend from the heavens and stand around looking impressive. You think this will be the end for Dartz, it's usually around this point that Yami wins and the damn game is over, BUT NO, Dartz turns out to be harder to kill than Rasputin and manages to hold his ground for ANOTHER TWO EPISODES.

Eventually, Yami does manage to defeat him, and Dartz is left standing alone saying "I've been defeated" When suddenly out of nowhere a dragon appears through a random portal and eats him.

......this is where my brain died.

Seriously?! A dragon?! What dragon?! Where the hell did that come from?! Did he summon it?! NO! What it one of the three legendary dragons that have been central to this attempt at a plotline?! NO! Have we even seen it before?! NO!!!! This thing comes out of fucking nowhere. Dartz is just standing there saying "I've been defeated" and then suddenly get eaten by this giant dragon from another dimension. WHAT THE HELL?!! Why did the dragon NOM him?! Where did the dragon come from?! WHAT DOES THIS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT?!!

So yeah, it's around here you finally start thinking this damn thing might soon be over when suddenly Kaiba (who's alive again, by the way, along with everyone else) is all "We should follow the dragon to see where's it's taken him" and he, Yami, and Jonouchi walk through the portal to go after him.

WHY?! Why is this thing not over yet?! Why do they need to go after him?! Where are they going?! How did the portal open?! Why won't this show explain anything?!

So they end up in this world that looks kind of like the Southern Air Temple from Avatar The Last Airbender and find that Dartz has been turned into stone. Great. Ok. Plot over? NO! They touch him and he disintegrates! Woot! Now is it over?! NO!! The dust particles that once formed him apparently fuse with something that is either the Scientologist Serpent God or the Mysterious Random Dragon thing which makes him mightier than God himself (or something to that effect) Kaiba, Yami, and Jonouchi have an extremely hard to follow battle with him in which I think the animation budget ran out because I honestly can't remember any specific thing happening apart from the three of them taking out their duel disks.

Eventually it seems they have FINALLY defeated him. So they go back to their dimension but before Yugi can go back with Kaiba and Jonouchi Yami stops him and says he feels something in the air.


So Dartz shows up AGAIN, this time as a cloud of black smoke after having fuzed with, again, something that is either the Scientologist Serpent God or the Mysterious Random Dragon and tells Yami that in order to defeat him he must have a bunch of random flashbacks to overcome his inner darkness.



So FINALLY Yami defeats his fucking inner darkness, he goes through the portal and washes up on a random beach despite the fact that they were just in the middle of a desert and suddenly Yugi is in control again. He looks up at an approaching helicopter which happens to have all their friends in it, then looks down in his pocket and find the three God Cards they lost at the beginning and remarks that now they can go back to what they were doing before.

So, what this basically means is that at the end of this season every character is in EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION AS THEY WERE BEFORE!! This season achieved NOTHING!! NOTHING AT ALL!! AHHHHHHHH!!!

So then Yugi looks over at the Pharaoh's spirit which has suddenly transformed into a tanned, ancient Egyptian version of himself and we can now thank whatever deity happens to be around that this atrocity is finally over.

When Casey and I finished this, were ecstatic, and confused, but mostly glad this damn thing was over. It's no wonder this thing took us a year and a half to get through, because it's just so ungodly ridiculous. The story was a mess, the character arcs were disjointed, and worst of all, the entire story was rendered completely pointless by having no development whatsoever by the end of it. I know I shouldn't really be looking for coherent plots in a show about kids saving the world with card games, but seriously, couldn't they have put a bit more effort in? Just a tiny bit?

Casey, if you're reading this, I salute you. You may feel free to murder me at anytime for forcing you to watch this with me.

I'd say more, but it's three AM and I was up early. I'm finally employed so I may actually have to start aiming for normal sleeping hours. Or I may not. I don't know. I don't care. I just want to go read or watch something that has nothing to do with dragons randomly eating evil cult leaders, or emo Pharaohs forced to defeat their inner darkness more times than any sane person should be forced to count.

Good Night Everyone,


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Phantom: Love Never Dies - The Radioplay (Part One)

Narrator: A prologue. Somewhere that may or may not resemble Coney Island at roughly the turn of the century, stands a mysterious and currently unidentified woman with a french accent. Three guesses who she turns out to be.

French Woman: I am here to provide mysterious exposition in an attempt to mirror the opening scene of the first musical. It's not really working.

Fleck: Yes, yes, there's nothing left...

French Woman: Actually there's Coney Island. There's stuff everywhere.

Fleck: Nothing but ghosts...

French Woman: No, really. There's a roller coaster right behind you.

Fleck: But I knew you'd come back...MADAME GIRY!!

[Dramatic Music]

Madame Giry: No kidding. [Sighs] Fleck! The freak from Phantasma, the city of're still here!

Fleck: Of course we're still here. The freaks, the monstrous, the bizarre. Where else could we exist but here?

Madame Giry: New Jersey's pretty freaky.

Fleck: That's true.

Madame Giry: Have you ever tried not dressing like a character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Who knows? Maybe you won't be outcasted from society.

Fleck: No! This was his dream! The master's dream! And now it's gone! He's gone! And now, since he disappeared with the child, and a fire randomly consumed everything...

Madame Giry: What?

Fleck: Yeah, the whole fire thing doesn't really get explained. But I'm going to blame it...ON YOU!

Madame Giry: What?

Fleck: Coney Island...Glistening and glittering...rising bright...drenched with light. Every fantasy set free...sun rising by the sea...

Madame Giry: And now I'm going to randomly try to make this into a rock opera!

[Electric Guitars]


Fleck: That's the place that you ruined, you fool!

Madame Giry: What, how?

Fleck: I don't know, but for some reason, it's YOUR FAULT!! Let's have a flashback!!

Narrator: Meanwhile, in 1907, which is now inexplicably ten years after 1881...even though it's not...a bunch of random American stereotypes are standing around talking excitedly about Coney Island, and the mysterious attraction "Phantasma" which is totally NOT runned by the Phantom.

Meg Giry: Despite having once had a promising career as the lead dancer in the Corps de Ballet of the Paris Opera House, I'm now a slutty vaudville singer in a cheap freak show put together by a guy who once dropped a corpse in the middle of one of my dances. I'm also randomly in love with him! I'm so in character!

Random Fake New Yorker Girl: Hey girlfriend, our mysterious masked boss is, like, totally into you.

Meg: You think?

Random Fake New Yorker Girl: Like, for sure.

Meg: Then I better sing my hear out for him while acting as slutty and outgoing as possible, despite having been meek and quiet in the first musical! I'm so in character!

Madame Giry: Meg, honey. As your stage mother I'd like to you tell you that you did wonderfully and that some rich guy totally digs you. Also, for some reason I'm still French.

Narrator: Meanwhile, in a secret underground lair, the Phantom is being emo and listening to Evanescence while chatting with a creepy Christine robot.


Phantom: Shut up! I'm brooding! [Dramatic Sigh] Oh woe is me! Despite the fact that I have not seen her in ten years and I have my own robot version of her at my beck and call, I’m still pining for some random opera singer with no legitimate personality! ONLY THE SUBTLE SOUNDS OF MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE CAN POSSIBLY EXPRESS MY LONGING!! CHRISTINE!!! [Cries in a corner]

Meg: Oh Phantom! Phantom, honey! What did you think about my latest strip tease?

Phantom: Shut up! [Cries]

Meg: But…I inexplicably love you!

Phantom: Too bad!

Meg: Nooooooooo!! [Cries]

Phantom: Christine!! [Cries]

Madame Giry: Oh dear God, someone stop the emo.

Phantom: Wait! Maybe if I bring Christine here, and force her to sing for me again, she’ll suddenly decide she loves me!

Madame Giry: I have a feeling, that probably won’t…

Phantom; It’s brilliant!

Madame Giry: Ok.
Meg: WAAAAAAH!!! [Cries some more]

Madame Giry: I’m supposed to give you some exposition about how Meg and I smuggled you out of France and helped you get on your feet in America, but I really just don’t care.

Phantom: NO ONE CARES!!! [Cries]

Meg: [Cries]

Madame Giry: Whatever.

Narrator: A few months later, Christine and her family disembark with a bunch of other American stereotypes in New York City.

Raoul: I am filled with RAGE!!!

Christine: Why are you so angry, dear? Is it the drinking and the gambling, or the fact that your character got derailed?

Raoul: ALL THREE!!

Christine: There, there, dear. I understand.

Gustave: Mummy, why doesn’t Daddy love me?

Christine: Because he’s not actually you’re fath- I MEAN, he does, dear, you’re just not listening with your heart…or something.

Gustave: Ok.

Narrator: A few hours later…

Phantom: Christine! I have appeared before you to tell you that I am the one who brought you here!

Christine: Gasp! I had no idea!

Phantom: Also, I’m here to remind you about that time we had passionate sex the night before your wedding despite the fact that I rather explicitly said that I couldn’t do that in the first musical.

Christine: Oh, yeah, and I inexplicably fell in love with you despite the fact that you tried to destroy my life and kill my boyfriend.

Phantom: It was kind of a weird night.

Christine: No kidding, you ditched me!

Phantom: What?

Christine: I fell suddenly, madly in love with you and when I woke up the next morning to tell you I wanted to ditch my fiancée and run away with you, you just up and left! What the hell?

Phantom: Oh…well, I was worried you’d reject me.

Christine: What?

Phantom: You know, I’m emo, I thought you’d hate me and reject me like everyone else on Earth because no one understands me and stuff.

Christine: I’d just had sex with you! That’s pretty accepting, if you ask me.

Phantom: I suppose so.

Gustave: Mummy, mummy! I’ve had a convenient nightmare that allows me to be randomly appear in this scene!

Christine: Don’t fret, dear, those happen all the time. This is your father…I MEAN, a friend of mine, Mr. Y.

Phantom: Hello, little boy.

Gustave: He’s creepy…and yet strangely I want to spend the day with him…

Christine: That’s fathers for you.

Gustave: What?

Christine: Nothing! Mr. Y will spend the day with you tomorrow. Now go to sleep. Like, right now.

Gustave: Ok!

Phantom: I’m going to mysteriously disappear now. Have a good night.

Christine: But wait! What about…my song?!

[Dramatic Music]

Narrator: Will Christine ever ever get to sing her song? Will Gustave ever figure out his entire existence is to soften the Phantom’s image so he’s easier to portray as a protagonist? Will Raoul accept his role as undeserving villain? Will Andrew Lloyd Webber ever actually make any money on this? Join us next time to find the answers to almost none of these questions on the next episode of “Phantom: Love Never Dies – The Radioplay!”


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Music I Can't Stop Listening To

Being unemployed sucks.

Seriously. I'm stuck at home with nothing to do, no one to talk to, no money to do anything with, and nothing to watch on TV. No one is hiring, and everyone who is doesn't want someone who's just going to leave in three months. I've filled out more applications in the past two weeks than I did when I was applying to college, and have gotten exactly one interview out of it all. The result? The store was unexpectedly shut down.

I'm really starting to wonder if it's me.

The upshot to all this is that it's given me plenty of time to sit around and listen to music. The downside? The sheer amount of time I've had to do nothing but sit around listening to music has given me lots of time to get unbelievably addicted to music that I would, under normal circumstances, have absolutely no desire to listen to.

Now, my usual musical tastes are kind of...eclectic. I listen to all sorts of things, from Broadway, to classic rock, 80's pop (yes, I realize I wasn't born in the 80's, get over it) the occasional bit of metal, whatever Rufus Wainwright is, and some other stuff that iTunes is always classifying as "Alternative" When it really comes down to it, the only music I really don't like is country. There are even some rap songs I'll listen to before I'll listen to country.

That being said, there are some things that are just definitely not my style, even within the genres I just listed. Certain people will remember my rather vocal dislike of Hanson, for example. Though a lot of their newer music might be miles better than their "Mmbop" days, and some of it could even fit into the type of genres I typically listen to, there's just something about it that I'm just not into. I'm not saying they're bad, I'm just saying it's not something I'm into.

But, as has been proven by my music habits of late, I'm wondering if I still have musical tastes at all. It's not that I'm listening to bad music, some of it's generally seen as being quite good, it's just not stuff I would normally listen to when left on my own.

So what is all this music, then? Well, to be honest, it's not a lot. It's a pretty small playlist at the moment, currently titled "Things I Couldn't Picture Myself Listening To A Year Ago" But, at it stands at the moment, here's the list, and why I'm suddenly so addicted to it.

1.) Lady Gaga - You know! Lady Gaga! The one who's constantly telling you she wants to take a ride on your disco stick usually after having told you on the radio three songs earlier that she's bluffin' with her muffin. Yeah. Unbelievable innuendos aside though, Lady Gaga is actually a really talented person. She writes her own music, puts incredible effort into her work, and if you've ever listened to her live performances you'll know immediately that she can sing. Her crazy, trippy videos are weird and creepy, but are probably some of the most creative stuff in the music industry right now. I'll cite particularly her "Bad Romance" video which is disturbing and fascinating all at the same time. I especially like the shot of her surrounded in floating crystals, while the camera pans around her and everything is frozen in mid-air. It's hard to admit to people that you're a Lady Gaga fan, which is why I was probably hesitating to really sit down and listen to her. There's some sort of general opinion that if you like popular music - be it straight forward pop, pop rock, or anything you hear on Top 40 radio stations - that you have no taste in music. This is strange, because a lot of what is generally considered to be "good music" The Beatles, for example, was pop music. I have musical tastes, I like lots of good music, but I also like Lady Gaga. And you know what, I think she's good as well.

2.) Phantom: Love Never Dies - Now this I just hate. There's no excuse for this. At least Lady Gaga is original and exciting. This is just...well, it's this. It makes me angry in more ways than I can count. My friends and family have had to put up with me ranting about this for weeks now. It's like a bad fanfiction that you can't stop reading. You know it's bad. It's so bad it sends you into a rage that could quite possibly destroy every major city in the world, and yet you can't seem to get rid of it. It's always there. In the CD player of your car, in the music on your phone, the media player on your computer. It's ridiculous plot line and it's gorgeous but unoriginal music haunts your thoughts and your dreams until you're forced to scream to the heavens and listen to Gerard Butler in the movie version of the first musical just convince yourself there's something worse than this. It's that bad. And yet...I can't stop listening to it. I finally had to go away for three days and direct a girl scout camp in the middle of the woods just to stop myself. But, I'll get into this atrocity later. Trust me.

3.) Hollywood Undead - Ok, so I'm not exactly addicted to this. It was more "listened to an entire album on a particularly memorable car ride with resident best friend Casey" We found the Holy Grail! But that's irrelevant. Hollywood Undead is a really, really angry metal group who should really just sit down and watch "Suprise Kitty" on YouTube. I like metal, in part because some of it is actually good, but more because I find it kind of amusing.'s so shouty ALL THE TIME. I realize the world can sometimes be a very dark and distressing place, but does that really mean you have to shout EVERY WORD YOU SAY TO EXPRESS YOUR RAGE? DO THESE BANDS NOT REALIZE THAT PIE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER? MAYBE IF I SHOUTED IT THEY WOULD REALIZE THE GLORY THAT IS PIE! BUT SADLY, I AM PROBABLY MISTAKEN. PERHAPS I SHOULD SHOUT ABOUT IT!!!! So yeah, metal. Not my usual thing, but fun every once in a while. Apologies to all fans of hardcore metal out there. I'm sure it speaks to you deep in your soul. It just doesn't generally speak to mine.

And for the moment, that's really it. Three things I wouldn't normally catch myself listening to that, for some reason, while I'm bored and unemployed and sitting around feeling sorry for myself, seem to be keeping me from going insane. Except for Love Never Dies. I think that slowly is driving me to madness. But we'll get to that another day.

If anyone who reads this is hiring, please let me know. I'm smart, energetic, friendly, good with people, and am in good academic standing at a relatively well respected university. I can catch lobsters in tidepools, and can make snarky, observational remarks during movies and TV shows. I've been to Israel. I used to work at a Hardware Store, and can tell you the difference between a nut and a bolt.

Please hire me. Please.

Hope you're all having a good summer. I'm off to get some sleep, it's quarter to three. Has anyone noticed that I'm twice as more likely to actually post a Blog entry the later it gets in the night? Go figure?

Good Night,