Friday, September 22, 2006

Fun with Diversity

So this weekend marks the beginning of Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah and the Autumnal Equinox. What do you think would happen if you threw a big Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan party?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wicked – Musical vs. Novel

So off the bat – even though I’m talking about a musical here – you boys (you know how you are) shouldn’t just skim this post (like I do Bill’s heavy metal reviews – sorry Bill) You’ll see why soon enough.

So I went and saw the musical version on Sunday with my sister-in-law, my niece and Kelly – I had borrowed the book from Nancy a couple months ago when we first bought the tickets – so I had already read that (and actually have the sequel at home, but haven’t had a chance to start it yet.) The show was fantastic – and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes musicals – it was well-written, great songs, fun attitude, good pace – all that you need to keep a musical theater crowd happy. Totally glad I got I to see it!

However – as we were leaving the theater and everyone is discussing the show on their way down the stairs (it’s always funny to listen to those conversations – as everyone around is saying nearly the same thing) Most of the consensus seemed to be that they liked the show better than the book – Nancy thought so as well (we were the only two in our group to have read it all - Kelly hadn’t finished the book and my niece wasn’t allowed to read it – there was a paragraph of puppet sex in the first chapter) and not that there is anything wrong with liking the musical version better – but as I thought about it, I decided that I definitely liked the book better so I wanted to write a little review – and that is where you boys come in. I think you would love the book – but you would never read it because the musical is where it became famous and therefore is too girly or nerdy or whatever – but the book – is NOT any of things – not by a long shot.

The musical adaptation did what all adaptation has to do – condense a huge story with lots of delicate character development and intricate subplots into a concise single story that draws the characters with a big wide obvious brush. It also stuck by the musical theater golden rule of a happy ending. Deviating from the book a LOT.

But the biggest thing that the musical lacked in comparison to the book was a sense of meaning – substantial meat that you could dig your teeth into. Gregory Maguire’s novel was something that you could easily have read in an advanced high school or college lit class (and if you were an English nerd like me) just devoured. I can imagine the fantastic discussions that novel would have generated in one of Ming Lu’s classes at Drake or even Mrs. Bakalar’s AP English class at Topeka West.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West – the full title of the novel – is a fantastic social and political commentary. A look at what is really good and what is really bad, and who decides. It examines how if one has money, power or beauty – or simply follows the status-quo - that they are often assumed “good” regardless of their actual behavior. Those who challenge authority, don’t conform to the social pressures of their peers, and think for themselves – are often labeled as “wicked.”

It’s an analogy that can be placed in any society, in any high school, in any government, in any community. And it’s one that we’ve all seen and heard before – but nonetheless presented in the midst of a fantastic story. And of course, in our current political climate – one that is extremely apropos. Take the portion of the story about the Animals Right to Speech – that could be almost directly correlated to Gays Right to Marriage.

The people in charge feel that if Animals are allowed to speak and hold jobs like humans, then society will fall into decay and disrepair as we lose all sense of what it really means to be human. Those who disagree with the government are obviously subversive; have no morals; are a threat to society; don’t care about the good of the country - even if they are ones fighting for the rights of others.
Doesn’t sound familiar at all does it?

And that is simply one of the much more obvious points. I am not implying that when Maguire wrote this – that he had that exact example in mind – but I don’t think any author has a direct one-to-one analogy in mind. But I think to deny that those concepts are there – is to give the book a very shallow reading.

Now again – that commentary was there in small doses in the musical version – it just didn’t (and can’t) delve into it the way the book does.
The book is dark, thoughtful, introspective and makes your mind race.
The musical is light and fun and reassures that in the end everything is a-ok.

Both are very very good.
I love musicals – and this one was everything I could hope for.
I just think that as in most book to movie adaptations – the book is much better.

And I hope that non-musical fans won’t ignore this book because of the musical – because it is so much more than just a catchy song and dance.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

One step forward, one step back

Well - less than a month ago, I was pleased.

Now we have to stand up - again - and tell them - again - to stop trying to restrict our rights.

"The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office certified that a mandated parental notification measure will be on the November ballot. This is a near replica of the notification measure that Oregonians rejected in 1990. Like that measure, this initiative would change Oregon law to prohibit an older teen who is 15, 16, or 17 year old from seeking abortion care from a medical professional unless a parent receives a mandatory written notification letter at least 48 hours in advance. There are no exceptions for rape and incest and doctors could be sued if the parent doesn’t get the notification letter. Current Oregon law already requires minors 14 years old or younger to obtain parental consent before any treatment."

Measure 43 isn’t written for the real world
Not every child is raised in a stable, healthy household – news reports about abuse and sexual assault from family members confirm this almost every day. Requiring notice to the very people who may be responsible for the assault makes a bad situation worse. Troubled teens at risk need a counselor, or a doctor, not a judge, and not a notice in the mail to the abusive parent.

Measure 43 could drive a troubled teen to put their health in jeopardy
Desperate teens that live in homes filled with abuse or violence could put their lives and health in jeopardy by seeking illegal abortions from unlicensed providers.

Measure 43 is unworkable
If a teen wants to bypass the notification provision, she is required to go through a bureaucratic process run by the Department of Human Services that requires her to plead her case before an administrative law judge, who can take two weeks to reach a decision. Administrative law judges usually deal with permits and license disputes, and aren’t even required to be lawyers.

Measure 43 is not necessary
Oregon’s teen pregnancy rate has declined by 39% over the past ten years as a result of strong prevention and education programs. And surveys have shown that 75% of teens voluntarily consult a parent when faced with an unwanted pregnancy.

So be sure to remember to vote on November 7 - and along with your elected officials - VOTE NO ON MEASURE 43

Otherwise known as amateur night

Anyone reading this has most likely attended a New Years Eve fest at our house, the Craft's home, the Jane's, etc. You have also probably celebrated St. Patrick's Day at such fine Guinness serving establishments at the Yamhill or the Vern. In other words - you know that holidays such as those are also known as amateur night for the drinking crowd - and that if you have the kind of experience that we do, you really should by all means, stay away from any place that tries to celebrate it.

After Friday night's "Little Steven's Garage Rock Show" I'd have to say that Musicfest NW is the same thing. Amateur night for going to a show. Now - the show was good - the opening band was trying way to hard, but The Woggles were, as always, fun and energetic, Mooney Suzuki was as good as I remember, Phantom Planet was really good - although their style didn't really fit the bill (but being the OC theme song band, I think that alone made Kelly's night!) and the Zombie's were classic. But the crowd.....the crowd was weird.

I am all for getting more people to go to rock shows - I am by no means saying that they should stay away, and if this type of event is what gets some of them to start looking at other shows that come through town - more power to it, but unless it's a band I REALLY want to see and don't think I'll get to see again. I'll pass on Musicfest shows from now on.

It seemed like many people in attendance (with exceptions of course like the surprising number of old people there for the Zombies) were not there to see any of these bands. They were there because it was Musicfest and therefore the cool thing to do for the weekend regardless of who's playing. Many of the chics walking around looked like they would be much more at home at The Dixie, the Tube or whatever meat market is trendy right now, then at a show.

Now there were of course tons of people there because they do like those bands or that garage rock sound, and again, this isn't a criticism of those who came out just because it was Musicfest...if that experience encourages them to become show goers - that's great - that's needed to keep the scene going. But for those who simply come to see and be seen...please go back to Bettie Fords and leave our places alone.

Add the irritating crowd to the fact that the organizers try to crowd so many bands on one bill so that the whole festival band count is higher - that the bands don't get to play a decent length set. I've seen the Woggles play twice that long and the leader singer is still jumping around on the tables.

It was still a good time - I'm glad I got to see the bands, and we as always had fun hangin' with the Douglases (that still seems kinda weird to say!) mocking some of these people - but next time - I'll pass on a Musicfest NW show.