selenite0: (can't take2)
When I saw the announcement of "Firefly: The Musical" I immediately wanted to go see it. Once I got there I had qualms--was this going to be good entertainment or just an attempt to take advantage of Browncoats' willingness to throw money at anything with the word Firefly on it? When the cast finished singing the theme song those qualms were gone.

The Highball is more bar than theater, but a corner of it was curtained off for the show. The audience all had a good view of the stage. I didn't notice any problems with the acoustics but can't speak for the back corners. There was minimal scenery--the actors were as likely to use mime as to pull out a table for a scene.

The pre-show was a series of videos including songs from other Whedon works (Dr Horrible and "Once More With Feeling") and fan vids. The projector also had some use during the play. A starfield was projected for all the bridge scenes and a clip of the river ambush opened the show.

The Firefly actors are a tough example to live up to but our local heroes did well. Stephen Robinson (Wash) and Jason Vines (Jayne) stole most of their scenes. Robinson's comic timing gave us a classic showstopper--the audience was laughing so hard at an offhand wink that another actor was frozen, waiting for us to quiet down so she could say her line. Michael Thomas (Mal) had the toughest role--stepping into the shoes of an actor talented enough to anchor a multi-year prime time series isn't easy--but he held the stage and kept us engaged with the story. Linsey Reeves (Inara) did a nice job of showing a professional liar telling clumsy lies. Adam Mengesha (Book) solidly lays down the law for our captain. Sabrina Jones (Saffron) got to display her range from naive country girl to seductress to cold professional.

The crew introduced themselves singing the theme song together. The settlers' celebration was the setting for Mal and Inara's "I Won't Let You In" duet (a lovely song reprised at the end). That was the saddest of the songs as the couple explained their reasons for rejecting love. Jayne's "Guns and Women" was hilarious as our favorite thug dithered over which he was more attracted to. Saffron steamed up the stage with “Let Me Have My Wedding Night”. Then we switched to vaudville as Wash sang "When Did This Stop Being Funny" and got great laughs with some really bad jokes. Inara had another duet with Saffron, flirting in the ways "Only a Woman Can See". The action climax was Jayne saving the day with "One Shot"--a duet with Kaylee who felt she only had one shot with Simon. The soundtrack will be coming out on CD, including an additional song: "Special Hell".

On top of the songs the script added some grace notes to the original, usually going for laughs. Kaylee vamped on Simon in the background when the script allowed (and then in the foreground during the climactic "One Shot" song). The deleted scene from the original was included, giving Simon and River their best moments in the show.

This is not a good way to introduce your musical-loving friend to Firefly. The play assumes you've seen the episode. This let them save time and effort by not explaining setting changes or having scenery to show which room they're in. As much as I'd like better visuals this is a small scale production. A $5 ticket doesn't get me a Serenity marionette sailing across the stage. For someone who hasn't seen the show they're going to be very confused when the carrion house crew walks onto the stage and makes some cryptic remarks. Rewriting the scenes to provide the necessary context to that and other bits wouldn't be that hard--but there's probably not enough newbies in the audience to justify spending the time.

"Firefly: The Musical" was a wonderful show, well worth driving for hours. We were apparently the fans who'd come the farthest to see it so far (Fort Worth to Austin). Given that they've had to double the run of the show to deal with demand someone will probably beat that. With luck the Institution Theater will be inspired to tackle another episode--"The Message" and "Objects In Space" would work well in their format ("Out of Gas" would be great but harder to translate).

Strongly recommended to all Browncoats.

Upcoming shows

Photos from the show
selenite0: (desire consequence)
We need to make November 1st a Federal Holiday. It can't be All Saints' Day, that's religious. But we could have White House Day to honor John Adams moving into the first White House or Taxation Without Representation Day to make us remember the British enacting the Stamp Tax. But whatever we pick I want this day off so I can stay up late at the Halloween parties and have a day to recover.
selenite0: (This is Terrible)
I just got a catalog from University of Southern California Bookstore. I flipped through out of idle curiosity. Turns out there were no books offered at all.
selenite0: (software sucks)
ESR on why women are such a small minority of programmers and other high-tech professionals:
Women, in general, are not willing to eat the kind of shit that men will swallow to work in this field.

Now let’s talk about death marches, mandatory uncompensated overtime, the beeper on the belt, and having no life. Men accept these conditions because they’re easily hooked into a monomaniacal, warrior-ethic way of thinking in which achievement of the mission is everything. Women, not so much. Much sooner than a man would, a woman will ask: “Why, exactly, am I putting up with this?”
If we really want to fix the problem of too few women in computing, we need to ask some much harder questions about how the field treats everyone in it.

I'm all for that.
selenite0: (Advanced Weapons Testing)
I took [ profile] celticdragonfly out to the movies to celebrate Mother's Day. We saw Iron Man 2 and loved it. You do need to see the first one to appreciate it, it's a continuation, not a stand-alone story. We really want Natasha to have her own movie. Whee.

There's various stupid stuff in the movie, most of which I just ignored as comic-bookisms. A few forced me to throw brown penalty flags. The pretended impotence of the US government relative to Tony Stark was annoying enough to get a post of its own. Linear accelerators do not get adjusted with monkey wrenches. There are undiscovered elements out there. They're undiscovered because they break down faster than anyone can find them. This keeps them from being an OSHA-friendly replacement for whatever you'd been using.

A more subtle technical complaint: if you're making armored drones there's no point in making them bipedal. Tanks are shaped the way they are for a reason. You want to take advantage of the cube-square law--the less surface area you have the thicker the armor can be.

Tony and Pepper really aren't going to have a decent relationship until they're in the habit of being honest with each other. So, never.

Of all the high tech wonders shown in the movie the one I want the most is the augmented reality social display. Arrive somewhere and it automatically highlights the most important people and displays their identity and key data about them. Oh, yes, please. Heck, I'd settle for one with a "What's your name again?" button that'll pull it up on request.

All the fussing over whether Tony should have a monopoly of the Iron Man suits does involve a real issue: who can be trusted with that kind of power? The movie is a good argument against entrusting it to mentally unbalanced alcoholics. I know a fair number of people who wouldn't be happy with the US government having it. But once the genie is out of the bottle, what do you do with it?

This debate happened before with nuclear weapons. Heinlein tackled it with the stories "Solution Unsatisfactory," "The Long Watch," and Space Cadet. His method relied on recruiting people with the moral fiber to choose suicide over wealth and power to stick with their principles. I think the first title holds true. [ profile] celticdragonfly came up with some ways to make that system more reliable. I pointed out she'd recreated the Guardians from Plato's Republic. She pointed out we were probably the only people who watched a superhero movie and wound up referencing Plato. Best practical possibility we came up with was a carefully recruited order of Catholic monks. Which would, of course, be the Brothers of St. Michael.

I completely agree with Howard Taylor about what Tony should be doing with his reactor.
selenite0: (don't tread)
selenite0: (karl and maggie)
Driving Maggie to a birthday party yesterday we were talking about the games she plays at school. She mentioned some of the older boys would pretend to play football. I explained that they'd get to play for real in high school. She liked that because "I love football, and I really love the Dallas Cowboys!" All I know about that is she didn't pick it up in our house because there's never been any football stuff there.

So I told my California-born daughter "You've been assimilated!"
selenite0: (waiting for catastrophe)
Impact  (im-pakt) noun
1. The striking of one thing against another; forceful contact; collision.
2. The union for Irish air traffic controllers.

Whoever came up with that needs some more quality time with the Blarney stone.
selenite0: (Prayer)
[ profile] hradzka has the best words on the day.
selenite0: (Kermit)
Does there exist a fanvid of Miss Piggy singing "It's Raining Frogs! Hallelujah!" ?
selenite0: (Get it?)
During a boss fight [ profile] drwex warned of an attack with a "vicious frontal cone."

[ profile] celticdragonfly: "That'd be a great band name."

[ profile] fordprfct: "A Madonna cover band."
selenite0: (Kill the unfit)
I understand you're upset when people's words don't match their actions. But "hippocracy" means "government by horses" which is a completely different problem.
selenite0: (tell me a story)
Order of the Stick is not a very serious comic. It's done in stick figure art, it's a parody of D&D, and it goes for low comedy. It's very funny, I love it. But at the same time Rich can introduce a minor character, have most appearances be pure comic relief, and still totally yank my heartstrings with said character.

He's good.
selenite0: (Sisyphus sign)
Some time back [ profile] archangelbeth mentioned the myth of Persephone in a post.

I haven't set foot in the company cafeteria since.
selenite0: (Future Worth Fighting For3)
Joss is asking fans to join the strike.

Oh, boy. The writers' strike is one of the many, many things I've classed as "not important/immediate enough to need to make a decision on." Some of the discussion has been interesting, but I soaked that up in a couch-potatoey way instead of thinking that I might actually get, you know, involved.

But Joss has figured out how to trigger actions from his fans. He's talking about strike activities away from Hollywood, in the cities where we live. Like little cons with signs, bringing out the girls in pretty costumes and boys arguing obscure details of the shows. How can I resist?

Well, first I have to decide if I actually support the strike. And after thinking it over I do. But not for the reasons Joss is asking me to. See, Joss wants to fix the system. He's spent his life in the Hollywood system, he's done great work within it, and he's invested a lot in learning how to work it. All he wants is to tweak it so the writers get a better share.

Now me . . . I don't like the Hollywood system. It's Procrustes. Stories get chopped or stretched to fit the arbitrary time slots they've been assigned. More often they're discarded unseen because they might not pull in enough advertiser-manipulatable eyeballs to justify the huge overhead of the studios.

But it doesn't have to be that way. New companies, owned by the creators, can form and send their art directly to the people who want it. Internet torrents, direct to DVD sales, Itunes, and there's probably more ways to deliver it that haven't even been invented yet. All that's stopping them is the trampling feet of the Hollywood dinosaur herd. Which, right now, makes them awfully damn stoppable.

The strike can change that. If the dinosaurs starve long enough they'll die, and the mammals can grow and spread. So hell, yes, I support the writers' strike. I support keeping the strike going until every writer on the line no longer has a job to go back to. I support keeping the strike going until writers leave it by the half-dozen to form their own companies. I support keeping the strike going until it's a tourist attraction, the last stop at Universal Studios, which has become a pure theme park.

And to have something to do while walking the picket line, I offer a song to sing. This is a filk of a Leslie Fish song. To no one's surprise it needed very little change to become a strike song.
Bring the Studios Down by Karl and Laura Gallagher
A filk of Bring It Down by Leslie Fish

We don't like the shows you've made. Bring it down, bring it down.
We'd take D T V in trade. Bring it down, bring it down.
Let the shows go on wi-fi,
And give up the smallest slice of pie
Just so long as the studios die! Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.

We don't like the work we do. Bring it down, bring it down.
Nothing useful, safe, or true. Bring it down, bring it down.
Faceless bureaucrats in the hills
Drive us down at the pace that kills.
They get dividends, we get bills! Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.

We don't like stale TV. Bring it down, bring it down.
Let us work creatively. Bring it down, bring it down.
Writer’s dream has fallen far.
A million rules have dimmed its star.
We don't like the way we are! Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.

Ads and ratings hem us in. Bring it down, bring it down.
Let us write our best again. Bring it down, bring it down.
Slowly growing deepset rage
Breaks the bars of a paper cage,
Put pure passion on the page! Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.

No reform will save the day. Bring it down, bring it down.
Sweep this system all away. Bring it down, bring it down.
Mindless pap and cliches grating
Grow the worse, with longer waiting.
To save our writing, smash the ratings! Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.
Bring it down, bring it down.
selenite0: (This is Terrible)
The French Revolution. Overthrow of the wealthy nobility. Forced egalitarianism. Addressing each other as "citizen." So what is a modern collector offered to remember it by?

Symbol of the Revolution )


Nov. 5th, 2007 11:16 am
selenite0: (Kermit)
A discussion on Transterrestrial Musings wandered on the subject of people who've had successful careers without ever getting degrees. Someone suggested forming an association to explore how common that is. Jay Manifold commented:
the anthropology of such a group would presumably be a hilarious inversion of the usual credentialism, where the college dropouts are ranked above the graduates, the people who never went to college at all are higher up, the ones with GEDs are still higher, and so on until some guy suckled by wolves is running the thing.
The original discussion, on recent graduates surprised to find out that NGOs promoting political activism in the third world don't offer lots of well-paying jobs, is also worth reading.
selenite0: (Future Worth Fighting For3)
The "who is better, Pirate or Ninja?" argument will probably continue for all time.

But Robot vs. Pirate may be settled very soon.
selenite0: (Beware the Engineer)
Kent Sepkowitz is a doctor I like. He's actually willing to admit more people have been saved from disease by ditchdiggers than by doctors.. What he's worried about is deaths from bacterial contamination of food, and I agree that trying to make the food supply utterly safe is impractical. Well, at least impractical for most people. The "pick two" for food seems to be "cheap, safe, tasty" and there's not many people willing to subsist totally on MREs or blow half their income on food. So Sepkowitz advocates dosing people with just enough pathogens to train their immune systems to deal with the inevitable contamination they'll have to deal with.
Rather than frantically throwing money at new ways to eradicate the pathogens that reside in shit, we should fund the boring scientists who focus on untangling the intricacies of the gut's immune system. Labs, answer this: How much shit can we safely eat and, as importantly, how much must we eat to remain healthy?
What I love about this is that a doctor is looking at the vaccination question from the other side, trying to establish minimum and maximum total amounts for the immune system insults. It's a wonderful change from the folks who insist that vaccines are good, therefore more vaccines are better. A good next step would be performing their studies on statistically valid sample sizes. After that they can analyze the distribution of the reactions to see what fraction of the population would handle this badly and how to recognize them, instead of calculating a mean optimum dose and prescribing it for everyone.
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