Question of the Week: 3/13/16

<–Question of the Week: 3/6/16          Question of the Week: 3/20/16–>

The Question of the Week is posted every Sunday and will consist of a question followed by my answer and explanation to the same.  Some questions will only require a simple answer that could potentially be followed by an explanation.  Many questions will be writer oriented, but not all.  Everyone is encouraged to answer in the comments and discussions/follow up questions are more than welcome!

What is your favorite musical?

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog, dear followers, but I’m really, really pushing to finish The Broken Rose by the end of this month.  Plus my life has gotten weirder and busier as always.  So there may just be quick questions of the week until this arduous task is done.  I’ll be throwing myself back into reviews, essays, and editing blog posts again very soon.

This is another easy question for me.

I fell in love with this musical in high school, and even though I’ve never seen it live, the gothic/romantic motif shaped many portions of my life and still bleed into the flavoring of the stories I love.

While I have not read the ponderous tome penned by Gaston Leroux, I have read the adaptation by Susan Kay.

It has been years so I plan a reread, but if memory serves me correctly, I highly recommend.  The story gives background the musical leaves out to lay a greater foundation for why the elusive Phantom is a sympathetic character.

My favorite song is without a doubt “The Music of the Night,” which could be considered the Villain Song, but it comes off as far less nefarious and more of a longing for connection/validation.

While the aesthetic of the 2004 movie was gorgeous, I was not a fan of the actor who played the eponymous phantom.  His voice was not right for the part in the same way Russel Crowe’s was not apt for the 2012 Les Miserable.

Obviously no one will sound like Michael Crawford, but they could’ve at least found someone who was operatically trained.

I would love to one day see the musical on Broadway, but until then, I have selections from it on numerous playlists, and it helps fuel quite a lot of my writer’s energy.  The lush vocals and sweeping strings never fail to send chills down my spine.

What is your favorite musical and favorite song in said musical?  If you’re a fan of Phantom, what’s your favorite song in that?

I look forward to your answers in the comments!

<–Question of the Week: 3/6/16          Question of the Week: 3/20/16–>

Final Symphony

This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for.  I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog.  While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.


Note: This review was graciously featured on Spielemusikkonzerte’s Facebook page on February 28, 2015 to my supreme and humble delight.

The day will come when I do not spend the entirety of it listening to Final Symphony, but that is not this day. The day will also come when the music does not bring me to tears, but that is not this day either. I made the “mistake” of listening to samples of all the songs on iTunes, and it could not be endured…my lack of this music. It had to be bought; it had to be experienced, and subsequently I had to speak.

Final Symphony consists of arranged music from Final Fantasies VI, VII, and X: an opening overture, one from VI, three from VII, three from X, then three encores from VII, X, and a medley from the series. It is performed by London Symphony Orchestra, and every single song is good. Now there are some that are better than others and some I do not particularly care for, but it is a credit to the composer Nobuo Uematsu and the arranger that even the songs that hit my ear less stellar are still worlds ahead of most of the music I hear. You do not need to be a fan of Final Fantasy, nor do you need to be a connoisseur of video game music in general to enjoy this bliss. In fact one of the reviews on iTunes stated the very same. This album is for people who love good music and enjoy the classical arts. Thus far every single review there has given it five stars.

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Fast and Furious 7

I’m not ashamed to step out of my ivory tower, dismount from my high horse and review a car chase and explosions action movie.  I have seen a few of the films in the Fast and Furious series, but not all in their entirety.  I believe the only one I actually sat through was Fast Five, the one where The Rock is chasing them down.  I’m a fan of The Rock; he’s a fellow Taurus.

He’s welcoming us all to the gun show.

He manged to make the not that easy transition from the world of pro wrestling to film acting, so much respect, and Fast 5 was a really good film.  Some people scoff and poo poo the action genre as being vapid, meaningless violence, but I have a few arguments against that.  One, you know what you’re getting into when you see a movie like this.  I wasn’t expecting Pacific Rim to present some high transcendent ideas about existence, and whatever, it had Idris Elba in it!  He was Heimdall in Thor and was considered for the Doctor and possibly James Bond (not without some controversy *rolls eyes*).  Crap…thought train derailed.  My second point is that the F&F franchise has always been about a lot more than just the car chases and explosions, which I’ll get into once I start the review proper.

Furious 7

I’d been interested in seeing this movie from the first trailers as I’d enjoyed the prior ones I’d seen.  I’d also been told by many people that I HAD to see it because “FF7 Adrienne!”

My face

Yeah…I made many a Facebook scroll stop when I saw THAT abbreviation and was very glad they started using the ampersand in between the two F’s to help alleviate the confusion.

The plot is nothing complicated, no GRRM intricacies here, although I had to ask my husband to clear up a few things I didn’t know.  Quick note if you haven’t seen all of the movies, you will still be able to enjoy this installment.  There are a couple of things that might have you raising your brows, but they are fairly easy to figure out just by paying attention and using some common sense.

F&F7 is the first film to take place after Tokyo Drift with the older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), of the previous bad guy seeking vengeance on Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang for his younger sibling’s comatose condition.  Back in the states, the crew is trying to adjust to normal lives after securing amnesty from Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).  Unfortunately, nothing wanted is ever easily gained.  Shaw manages to break into the secure office where Hobbs works to extract profiles about his targets.  A fight ensues ending with a bomb severely injuring Hobbs and putting him the hospital and (supposedly) out of commission.

Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker RIP ;_;) is attempting to accustom himself to the mundane life of husband to Mia (Jordana Brewster), Dom’s sister, and father to their son.  Mia is not an un-astute woman though and realizes that Brian is feeling the drain of banality, “missing the bullets” of his formerly faster life. She is reluctant to tell him that she is pregnant again, and Dom tries to convince her that Brian loves her more than he loved his former life and that she obviously needs to impart this information.  Before this can happen though, the package on their front porch explodes, destroying the house, but thankfully leaving Dom, the newly pregnant Mia, Brian, and their son unharmed.  It becomes quickly clear that they’re being hunted, and things get more complicated when the gang becomes involved with a Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) who promises Dom assistance if him and his crew will help him rescue a hacker named Ramsey from terrorists.

There are a couple of interesting surprises with the film such as the identity (or rather appearance) of Ramsey.  There’s a scene where they drop cars out of an airplane, jump a car between three towers, and use the eye of God.  The laws of physics are utterly obliterated, but you enjoy every minute of the break.

What really sets the Fast and Furious franchise apart for me is the message that lies at its heart: family.  Dom Toretto says, “I don’t have friends; I have family,” and that’s what he’s all about.  His crew is his family.  It doesn’t matter the distance (Han in Tokyo), their backgrounds (Brian used to be a cop), or blood ties; family is family.  I loved the message of intercultural and international bonds and made an observation that I’m sure many of you might have already picked up.  Paul Walker’s character Brian is the only white protagonist.  We do have Jason Statham, but he’s an antagonist alongside of Djimon Hounsou, who I’d honestly love to see in a non-bad guy role (Guardians of Galaxy had him as a secondary villain, too).  The F&F films show that you can have a successful film franchise where the majority of the main/hero characters aren’t white.  I think that is insanely important to show that such diversity can exist, and the way the characters interact with each solidifies this concept.  Brian is just as much a part of the group as Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s “Mrs. Alpha.”

This is not to say there weren’t some issues with the film.  Like most action movies, there was some serious female objectification, and sad to say, it’s just something you come to expect from the genre.  It becomes a complicated issue, because F&F7 also has women in good positions (which is a problematic statement in and of itself, but something I don’t want to get into here).  Bit of a spoiler, but…

This is Ramsey.

Roman (Tyrese Gibson) remarks that he would never put that kind of body behind a computer screen in reference to Ramsey’s (Nathalie Emmanuel who also plays Missandei on GoT) status as both female and hacker.  I was glad to see Tej (Chris “Ludicrous” Parker) set him straight by challenging him on what exactly a hacker should look like.  Now granted a few scenes later, we have her in a bikini *sigh* but baby steps.

I can’t finish up this review without mentioning the ending, which arguably bolsters this movie from 4 to 5 stars.  If you don’t want to know about the tribute to Paul Walker, you’ll want to stop reading, otherwise let me just tell you there were invisible ninjas cutting onions in the theater near me.

Just listening to it here brings tears to my eyes.  Now that I’m thinking about it…I’m not going to give away the tribute.  It will have much more resonance if you see it for yourself.  Let me just say that it was one of the best tributes to someone I have ever seen, and while it was obvious that that’s what they were doing, I felt it fit seamlessly into the movie.  Both Brian and Paul deserved to have that kind of happy ending.

Well it appears I didn’t have to leave my ivory tower after all. F&F7 will definitely go down in the annals as one of my favorite action movies if just for that ending alone.  Highly recommend seeing it in the theater just to witness some of the more action-y bits in silver screen format.  It was well worth the money.




Major/Minor Switching

The Caffeine Crew

Most of my favorite songs are written in the minor key. Like most I find it to be the register of sadness and darkness, and that just speaks to my eclectic tastes. I decided to catalog just what percentage of my regular playlist was in the minor key one day, and the results were pretty substantial. Then one day I was puttering around TV Tropes where I spend a good portion of my time, and I ended up in the video games section of the Awesome Music page, because why wouldn’t I be there, and there was a link to a G major version of One Winged Angel. I listened to it and just…no. No, no, no. It’s just wrong, and wrong in a different way than the wrongness the song is trying to symbolize. This did get me thinking though about other instances where major songs are switched…

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