Ten O'Clock

Movie Review! Atomic Train

Okay, guys, I just have to tell you about this one! It's a made-for-TV disaster movie from 1999, dressed up as an action movie that stars Rob Lowe, and the title is actually Atomic Train. This sentence contains 100% truefax, and yet it does not even come close to describing how wonderfully, gloriously, entertainingly, awe-inspiringly terrible this movie is.

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Turin Drama Llama

Sherlock Episode 3.2.1

Saddle up, Sherlock viewers! The Sign Of Three is at hand! Awkward and badly paced as it is, this episode is actually the highlight of Series Three. While it doesn't hit the quality of The Great Game or the sheer entertaining lunacy of the first part of A Scandal in Belgravia, it is, in its own way, not that bad an episode. It's stuck with a rotten job, but it soldiers bravely through, and even gives us a little taste of something we've been missing for quite some time now. Onward!

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Ten O'Clock

Cabin Pressure On Stage!

Today, I had the great joy of seeing a stage version of Cabin Pressure at the Corpus Playroom, this tiny little hole-in-the-wall theater that I think stages mostly student productions. In a word, this one was: Brilliant!

In more words: It was lots of fun. Part of what made it so enjoyable was that the production knew exactly what its strengths and weaknesses were, and it worked all of them expertly. Cabin Pressure really isn't intended to be much longer than half an hour at a time, so the stage version consisted of just the two episodes "Gdansk" and "Xinzhou," scripts as in the original radio play, just . . . live and on stage. Nothing fancy, just Finnemore's writing. Just two episodes, too. The whole thing took an hour, and that was just long enough to be funny without wearing out its welcome.

I loved the acting. Of course, everyone in the audience was a fan of the radio show -- you kind of had to be in order to even know about this play -- and the actors wisely chose what bits of the original performances to reference while putting their own spins on each character. The actress playing Carolyn did an especially good job. There was no way this undergraduate actress was ever going to be stately and elderly, and she didn't try. She was shooting for early middle age, I think, and she pulled it off very well. I think her interpretation of her character was the one that was most different from the original, mostly due to the age issue, but she made it work for her.

They did, of course, have the great advantage of visuals. Finnemore has said that one thing that he likes about radio is that you can do scenes and setups that would be enormously expensive to show on film, and that is an advantage. But both "Gdansk" and "Xinzhou" are pretty much bottle episodes, so all you need is the GERTI set. Which, befitting a student production, can be a bit cheap and rickety-looking, and it fits well with the theme.

I thought that the guy playing Douglas did a nice interpretation of Roger Allam's mannerisms, although I don't think his heart was in it nearly as much as Allam's was. The guy playing Martin actually looked much more like Martin as the show describes him than Benedict Cumberbatch does -- he actually was short and weedy -- and I liked the way he added his own body language to what was in many ways a careful study of Cumberbatch's vocal performance.

The theater is tiny, so the audience are right there with the performers (occasionally being served strudel by them), and it just adds to the intimacy of the setup.

In short, completely enjoyable, both for the fun of seeing Cabin Pressure as well as hearing it, and for seeing an eminently sensible, well-considered production. An excellent use of £6!
Ten O'Clock

Temptation, Temptation

Cambridge isn't London, but it is most definitely a city of theatah* A couple of nights ago, I treated myself to Henry V at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, put on by one of the many University drama societies. This one was the Marlowe Society, which sometimes produces really top-notch actors. You could totally see why, too. Henry V took itself just a wee bit too seriously, as student productions tend to, and the set designer seemed to be a little too much in love with the fog machine, but the performance was fantastic. The funny bits were actually funny, the action was good, the actors clearly knew the play, and I thought it was brilliant to cast the shortest man in the group as Henry -- it really plays up his youth, especially in a cast full of people who are all pretty much the same age.

And now I see that the Corpus Playroom is going to be producing . . . a stage version of Cabin Pressure, of all things! It's in March, and it doesn't look too expensive. I just might have to go and check it out.

In other news, I've been taking part in a set of choral workshops in London, and it's been an amazing time. There is nothing like showing up and getting to sing all day, especially when you get a second crack at something showy like Louis Lewandowski's "Hallelujah," which is his setting of Psalm 150. We did it in my local Jewish choir this fall, and now we're doing it in the London workshops. Fabulous chance to sing this piece again, with the original Ashkenazi lisp, too. (In Cambridge, we sang with Sephardi pronunciation, which I have to admit that I kind of prefer for singing. But Lewandowski did write the piece for Ashkenazi pronunciation, and there's something to be said for trying it out his way.)

*As opposed to "the-ay-ter," which is much less Klassy.
Turin Drama Llama

Sherlock Episode 3.1.2

Dragging myself back for the next half-hour of filler that passes for actual content in The Empty Hearse. The content of the filler is clever-er than last time, but . . . it's still filler. It's only an hour into a ninety-minute episode that the show actually has something to be about, which is why it's taken me so long to do this recap. But here it is, in all its fillerriffic glory.

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Queer As Folk Recap, Episode 1.21

Took me a while to get around to doing this one. Partially it's that it's a bit harder to find the episodes to watch from England. But the larger part is that this episode is just so goshdarn dull that I kept putting it off. There are a couple of plot threads going on here, but none of them are very interesting. Either they're minor incidents blown way out of proportion (Vic), too wacky to stand a chance (Blake), or false dilemmas that experienced viewers of television series know can only be resolved in one way, so they're not as interesting as the writers think they are (Brian and Mike). No humor, no interest, but a hell of a lot of whining. Whoopee.

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Turin Drama Llama

Franchise Review! The Hunger Games

I was going to make this a Movie Review! post, but that seemed a bit disingenuous, because so much of my response to the movies involves the books as well. For the record: I've read all three of the books and seen the first two movies; the third movie is out, but I haven't seen it yet, so it won't be part of this review. On the other hand, don't worry about spoiling me for Mockingjay. One of the things that I like about the movies is that they're pretty faithful representations of the books, so it's not like I don't know what happens in Mockingjay.

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Ten O'Clock


From Cracked: 6 Weird Ways the World Looks Different When You're Asexual.

. . . yup. Pretty much. Some of this has happened in my own life, including an unfortunate encounter with a gynecologist who resembled my hated sixth-grade teacher in more ways than just the physical. (The sixth-grade teacher was a woman who I think became a teacher not because she liked children -- she really really didn't -- but because she was of an age where having any career at all in her twenties would have meant either teaching or secretarial work. She went on to make the lives of many many years' worth of twelve-year-olds miserable before retraining as, of all things, a social worker.)

The thing that puzzles me, though, is this. On the second page of the article, it quotes a study of Canadian undergraduates and random internet guys that seems to indicate that these two groups would be less likely to rent an apartment to asexuals. All well and bad, but . . . how would they know? Seriously, when does that particular topic come up during apartment rental conversations?

I get how potential landlords could find out about a prospective tenant's homosexuality, particularly if this involves a same-sex couple trying to rent a one-bedroom apartment, but you'd really have to go digging to find out that your prospective tenant is asexual. I've rented several apartments in my life, and the major question that the landlords are interested in is not "who will you be sleeping with in this apartment?" but "will you have the rent money available on the first of the month?" Seriously, who asks these questions, and what kind of shitholes are they offering for rent?