Monday, April 12, 2010

At the dark end of the street

Move over, Oprah, there's a new book club in town!!!! And by "book club" I of course mean "I-don't-actually-read-books-and-just-watch-a-lot-of-movies-and-television-,-some-of-which-might-happen-to-be-based-on-books." Whew... looks like I've used my hyphen allotment for the day week.  It's okay though, because I have a fellow non-reader whommm's intelligence I admire and can justify my not reading because she's smart.  That makes sense, right? 

For the inaugural selection it may not surprise a lot of you that I have chosen Clue, my absolute favorite movie!  It is the one constant gauge I use to judge whether or not I should be friends with someone, and only one person has gotten away with not liking it; I excuse him only because he grew up on a farm and doesn't know any better.  It is also the only movie ever to be based upon a classic board game.  Well, until those bastard step-triplets Monopoly, Battleship, and (I'll admit it, this one sounds fabulous) Candy Land come out.  Unfortunately, those are in fact legitimate films now in production... but needless to say: Clue was the first, and from the looks of it, will still be the best.  That is, unless they hire Meryll Streep to play the old leather boot.  The Oscars just LOVE a rags to riches story. 

Side note- Did you know that Clue, originally called Cluedo in it's native United Kingdom, changed the character of Reverund Green to Mr. Green when translating for American audiences because there was an objection to even the chance that a man of the cloth would have something to do with a (hypothetical) murder?  Yeah, didn't think so.

Yet I digress.  The plot is basically what you would expect: people go to a ominously dark mansion, there's a bunch of murders, blah blah blah secret passage ways, candle sticks, etc.  What makes it such a great movie is the stellar ensemble cast: Madeline Kahn (Mrs. White), Christopher Lloyd (Professor Plumb), Tim Curry (the butler), Lesley Ann Warren (Miss Scarlet), Eileen Brennan (Mrs. Peacock), Michael McKean (Mr. Green), Martin Mull (Colonel Mustard), and Colleen Camp (the maid).

I have seen this movie more times than I can count, but I first watched it (and then rewatched and rewatched) with my brother when we were younger.  The part that always got me then was when the singing telegram girl gets shot:

(Hopefully this isn't where my career is headed)

Since then I have owned the movie in all its various incarnations... VHS, DVD, digital download from iTunes, and finally on my iPod.  At one point, my friends Will and Clinton and I would watch it over and over, just focusing on one character the whole movie through.  And yes, somehow I have managed to get three degrees in the process!  I have watched it so many times that it is among the few movies I can quote large sections of.  Sections like these:

(MMMMM... omlets)

(Just listen to those suspenders pop!)

Mr. Green: Who would wanna kill the cook?
Miss Scarlet: Dinner wasn't that bad.
Colonel Mustard: How can you make jokes at a time like this?
Miss Scarlet: It's my defense mechanism.
Colonel Mustard: Some defense, if I was the killer, I would kill you next.
Miss Scarlet: Oh?
[Everyone looks at Colonel Mustard]
Colonel Mustard: I said, "if," "IF!"

Wadsworth: The game's up, Scarlet. There are no more bullets left in that gun.
Miss Scarlet: Oh, come on, you don't think I'm gonna fall for that old trick?
Wadsworth: It's not a trick. There was one shot at Mr. Boddy in the Study; two for the chandelier; two at the Lounge door and one for the singing telegram.
Miss Scarlet: That's not six.
Wadsworth: One plus two plus two plus one.
Miss Scarlet: Uh-uh, there was only one shot that got the chandelier. That's one plus two plus *one* plus one.
Wadsworth: Even if you were right, that would be one plus one plus two plus one, not one plus *two* plus one plus one.
Miss Scarlet: Okay, fine. One plus two plus one... Shut up! The point is, there is one bullet left in this gun and guess who's gonna get it!

Mr. Green: [to Miss Scarlet] So, how did you know Colonel Mustard works in Washington? Is he one of your clients?
Colonel Mustard: Certainly not!
Mr. Green: I was asking Miss Scarlet.
Colonel Mustard: [to Miss Scarlet] Well, you tell him it's not true.
Miss Scarlet: It's not true.
Professor Plum: [to Miss Scarlet] Is that true?
Miss Scarlet: No, it's not true.
Mr. Green: Ah ha! So it is true!
Wadsworth: A double negative!
Colonel Mustard: A double negative?
Colonel Mustard: You mean you have photographs?
Wadsworth: That sounds like a confession to me. In fact the double negative has led to proof positive. I'm afraid you gave yourself away.
Colonel Mustard: [angry, to Wadsworth] Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests?
Wadsworth: You don't need any help from me, sir.
Colonel Mustard: That's right!

I could probably go on like this for a while but it might be easier-- and probably more entertaining-- for you to just rent the damn movie.  Plus, it has three different endings!!!  When the movie was first released theatrically, depending on which theater you went to, you would get a different ending, just as if you were playing the game. C'aint nobody say that about Fargo.  Like, what if it were Jerry Lundegaard, in the dealer lot, with a tire iron instead of Gaear Grimsrud, by the lake, with a woodchipper?  Doesn't exactly have the same ring as Miss Scarlet, in the study, with the revolver.  Apparently a fourth ending was scripted and filmed but never made it into the movie because it clashed with the comedic nature of the movie.  Must have been horrifying!

Oh... and I also recently read that Universal Studios is set to film a re-make of the movie, which will most likely be horrible and cast Jessica Simpson as the maid. Gore Verbinski, of Pirates of the Caribbean directorial fame, is said to helm.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Country Road

Our newest header photograph comes from Jason LaFerra's first solo show, to happen in New York this July.

As the artist explains:

The textures and contours of old maps are fascinating, even the tattered and stained parts. In this series, I digitally manipulate cartographic materials to create fauna, mostly birds, in poses reminiscent of field guides from a similarly early era of publication. The patterns of forests and shores often become an animal's feathers or fur, while the rings of topography often trace out wings or antlers.

These remind me of an Audubon Society series of books we used to get when I was younger, each volume focusing on some different aspect of the natural world: birds of north america, reptiles, insects, etc.  I always loved thumbing through them and thinking: "Oh... next time I see a scorpion I'll remember this bizarrely random fact," but I never did. The weather one was always my favorite, though, because there was an amazing section of pictures devoted to natural snow and ice sculptures that always seemed so fascinatingly alien to me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The man who mistook his wife for a hat

So now that the opera and master class are officially over, the time has begun for me to re-focus practicing towards my specialist degree recital.  I kinda had to put it on the backburner because, in addition to the two afoermentioned performances, I also had the pleasure of singing Johann Sebastian Bach's St. John's Passion with the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers this weekend in celebration of Easter!  Needless to say, I haven't really been able to put my most considerate energies towards the recital.

Luckily, a couple of weeks ago my pianist gracefully recorded the accompaniment to all of my songs so that I could practice them whenever I wanted to... something that has come in very handy now that I have more hours to spare doing processing in the stock room at Pottery Barn.  And let me tell you, opening box after box of napkin rings, outdoor cushions and picture frames can get as repetative as Glenn Beck's crocodile tears without an iPod to displace the monotony.

I have all of the tracks organized under a folder entitled, appropriately enough, Joseph Roberts- Specialist Recital Accompaniment.  However, I noticed today that iTunes' mystical album art locator actually found an image for my com-pletely fabricated album.

... ... ... ... so, that was a little surprising.   Don't get me wrong, while green isn't exactly my color I'm still completely flattered nonetheless. Though, it did get me searching to see if there were any other misnomered musical machinations in my collection.  <------alliteration, fools!

For the soundtrack of the movie Camp.  If you've seen it... then you KNOW this is absolutely not an appropriate correlating image

The original cast album of Mack and Mabel.  It was at this point that I started to wonder if my computer had an identity crisis.  Or if it was going to pop a cap in me while I slept.

For Josh Groban's self-titled CD.  And yes, I do realize this is also an admition that I still have his CD on my computer.  Deal with it.

Finally some more color!  Too bad the actual album is for Big River, a musical based on Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I doubt even Mr. Twain, a man they literally named the American award for humor after, could find the funny in this.

Apparently my iTunes thinks I have much more street cred than I unfortunately do have.  I'll take it as a compliment? If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, though, please call the Apple Genius Bar and make an appointment... ... ...

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Circle Game

I realize that I throw around the word "obsessed" on this site a lot, but I am honestly addicted to Obechi. Simplicity will always win out over extravagence in my book (I know, that may shock some people). Just try not to get to level 15. If you like this game, try it's companion piece, Boomshine, linked on the Obechi website.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Damned Ladies

I admit that I am doing a bit of backtracking here, but I couldn't get away without posting a couple of photos from the University of Michigan production of Christoph von Gluck's Armide that went up last weekend.  For a more detailed summary of the opera check Wikipedia's page here,  but a brief synopsis provided on the site is as follows:

Set during the First Crusade, this is the love story of the sorceress Armide and the Christian knight Renaud. At war with the Christian Crusaders, Armide ensnares her enemy Renaud with her magic spells, but at the moment she raises her dagger to kill him, she finds herself falling in love with him. She casts a spell to make him fall in love with her in return, but two of his fellow soldiers find their way to Renaud, and break her spell. Renaud is thus able to escape from Armide, who is left in enraged despair.

Or at least that's what I hear happens.  I was in the first two of five acts and don't really know what happens after I leave!  I didn't realize until about a month into rehearsals that I was not playing Armide's father but her uncle :-/ 

Kristin Eder, Warrior Princess
(with Mary Martin and Amy Petrongelli)

... and her sassy servant Mary Martin

Armide's father uncle, Hidraot, doing his best Jewish mother impression:
"The war's over, I'm getting old, settle down and get married already!"

She ain't havin' none of it. 
(Jennie Nash as Armide, with Mary Martin and Nicole Greenidge)

Uh oh! Someone has set all of our captives free!
(Nick Ward as some beaten-up soldier)

You free'd my slaves? I'll just call forth all the demons from Hell.  Check and mate?
I LOVE this picutre because everyone around Jennie is moving and she's just summoning her sould out... or, rather, lost souls out

HA! I've got you
(Kristin Eder and Willis Bote as Renaud)

You know, you're kinda hot... I don't know if I can go through with this
(Jennie Nash and Kyle Knapp as Renaud)

So, that didn't work and I fell in love with you.  I'll see my demons and raise you the personification of Hate!
(Jennie Nash and Kyle Knapp)

Wah-wah.  Smoke and glowing red walls are never a good omen

Renaud's Crusader back-up getting seduced by one of Armide's temptresses.  Or is it temptressi?
(Jesse Enderle and Kate Wakefield)

A leading lady, a knife, and being alone on stage at the end of an opera does not a happy opera make.
Armide-with the dagger-in the palace... Wadsworth had it all wrong!

And finally a couple of pictures from backstage in the dressing rooms... where all the glamor happens!

Mary Martin, Joseph Roberts, Jennie Nash, Nicole Greenidge

This is what happened when we were told to do a "silly" picture.
To college students I guess "sexy" equals "silly"? Although Mary adds a dash of confusion to her sexy.

A little May/December romance perhaps?
What... grey hair is distinguished looking, right?

Finally, thanks to Willis Bote, one of the Renaud's, for providing the pictures from the show! Oh, and also, the title of the post is a reference to a great song by Rufus Wainwright in which he pleads with the leading ladies of opera not to kill themselves, in case you were wondering.  In fact, all of the titles are song names that have something to do with their respective posts.  It's ridiculous, I know, but I'm not that ashamed of it in the least.