Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy New Year!

Greetings from the Big Apple. I'm about to embark for San Francisco, where my boyfriend left his heart about seven years ago. I spent Christmas with my family in Washington DC. It was the first time in many years that I had more than four days down there, and felt downright leisurely. I owe that to my new career as a real estate agent. After six years, I'm finally going to spend time with my boyfriend in California. Three weeks off in a row. Unheard of in a salaried job!

Let me thank those who commented on my last post. I'm still not 100% back yet, but I think I'll be ready to work after nearly four weeks off (my birthday is a week before Christmas... so it's like a month of high holidays for me!). Not that I wasn't doing anything real-estate related. I was working on my email list, speaking with landlords and working with current customers. December didn't yield much in the way of clients for me, yet somehow I feel a turnaround coming.

I am still having lots of trouble focusing on what's important. Today, for instance, I could have done a lot more than I did. I know that I'll always have more on my list than I can accomplish in one day, but I'm lacking focus that is sorely hurting my chances at making it in this profession. So focusing on time management is one New Year's Resolution.

Completing my personal internet presence is another New Year's Resolution. For one thing, I resolve to blog two to three times per week, instead of once every four to six weeks. That means shorter posts, but more information - I intend to write here about some of the buildings that I see, and perhaps (if I can figure out how) post some photos of them. Also I will be having a section called "what I learned today". This is a game that we play at Pennsic over dinner. There's so much to do at Pennsic, that when we all get together to eat dinner, the ranking member of the table asks each person what he or she learned that day. Usually it's something deep, something practical, and usually something medieval. It won't always be on this blog, but sometimes it will sneak in!

What I learned today: Wrapped Godiva chocolate somehow doesn't taste as good as individual chocolate pieces bought from behind the counter. But the bars taste pretty good. Maybe I just got a really stale batch!

On a final note, I finally watched the recent movie "Phantom of the Opera" made from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Now, I'm not the biggest fan that you will ever see. But I have seen the stage musical twice (once in DC, once in Toronto, NEVER in New York; maybe I should scrape $20 for a rush ticket before it closes next year), I have been to the Opera Garnier in Paris to probe box 5 (thanks to the very nice lady there), I have pretty much memorized the original cast recording (I like to sing along - it's hell to drive anywhere long distance with me), and of course, I have read the book several times. So, that makes me enough of a fan to make some comments:

The first thing that has always bothered me about the stage musical of the Phantom is that they never make the Phantom UGLY enough. Sure, they kind of scar up the right side of his face, but quite frankly, that doesn't really scare me. I mean, Gerard Butler is still handsome enough with half a normal face that I wouldn't really recognize it. To paraphrase the kid from "The Man Without a Face", I can see the face beyond the scarring. In Gaston Leroux's book, the Phantom doesn't really have a face. His has a "death's head" - eyes receded back into his skull so far you can't see them, no nose to speak of, and his skin is soft and pulpy and tears easily (he actually takes Christine's hands and tears it with her nails when she grabs his mask off in the book). And he wears a satin mask over his ENTIRE face, none of this sexy half-mask stuff. I understand the idea of license and the difficulty of working with prosthetics in theatre & film, but if they want me to buy the idea of the phantom being hideous and scary, they need to do a lot worse than what they did with Gerard Butler's face in the movie. I mean, that could have just been a freak accident from a fire - entirely plausible!

Secondly, when the phantom is wearing his mask in the movie, it's very obvious that he doesn't have his makeup on. The most glaring example is that the right side of his head has no hair on it in the final scenes. But he has a full head of hair WITH SIDEBURNS early on in the movie. Even when he's singing on stage in Don Juan Triumphant, you can see the hair. Then when Christine unmasks him, there's a terribly obvious edit right at the pivotal moment that totally distracts me. So amateur! Many actors in many other movies have suffered through the prosthetics necessary. You'd think they could make him up for the ENTIRE scene.

Finally, they made the phantom way too young. I see from Mr. Butler's bio on IMDB that he's about 36, though he doesn't look it to me. Emmy Rossum was about 17 when they shot it. That gives them a good age difference, but the phantom should actually be older than that even, in his mid-forties. They create a different history in the movie, saying that he had lived pretty much all his life from his teens at the Opera. In the book the phantom did start out with gypsies in a cage, but he escaped and spent a lot of time in the Near and Far East where he designed a labrynth for a sultan and perfected his mastery of the deadly Punjab lasso (which is not mentioned by name except as the "magical lasso" in the movie). And, since the phantom is so much older than either Christine or Raoul, he dies first, not Christine, the youngest of all the involved characters.

Oh, well. It is a good version considering that it's a movie adapted from a musical adapted from a book.

Good night all. It's 1:30 AM and I haven't started packing yet :(

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