Monthly Archives: December 2014

Book Opinion: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

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What to say, what to say…

When I was a teenager, I found Interview With a Vampire. I liked it and proceeded to read the rest of the books, along with the ones about the Mayfair Witches and all the rest. I was excited to see she was writing another vampire story. Then I read it.

The thing people who have not read these books don’t realize, is that Lestat is kind of the chorus girl who breaks out and eclipses the star. Interview With a Vampire is Louis’ story, not Lestat’s. He figures strongly in it of course, but the book is about Louis. After that one, Lestat became the focus. Such a mythology has built up around him and he has such a strong voice in her writing, that it’s almost like he’s real. In fact, go to New Orleans on a regular Tuesday, and I guarantee you that within an hour of wandering the French Quarter, you will find some guy dressed up like him, purply glasses, long blonde hair, velvet frock coat and all. Just walking down a dusky street. This new book does none of that justice.

The gist of the story is that one of the original vamps has inhabited the body of another ancient vamp, but in spirit form and he is physically telling older vamps to burn fledglings. They are all scared and are looking for a gathering of the older vamps and begging for a leader, guess who? The story is pretty good, and definitely do-able, the problem with this book is the mechanics of it. Without going too deeply into details about glossaries and appendices etc, because it may take you two weeks to read this post like it took me two weeks to read this book, I’ll sum it up. Because it’s been so long, and because the author wants to add to her audience, we are treated to a dictionary of sorts of vampire terminology as it’s used in the Vampire Chronicles. Then, we get a big fat commercial for about a third of the book for the EARLIER books. The Vampire Chronicles and/or names of individual books are mentioned four thousand, three hundred and fifty seven times in the space of the first section of the book. I exaggerate of course, but you get my drift. We then get a different vampiric author for each chapter, giving back stories, world history, etc, etc. I am yawning just remembering it. Then suddenly, we get a Lestat chapter. It flows well, you can hear his voice, especially if you are a long-time fan, you get in a reading groove because it’s well written, then it switches back to someone else, and it takes you a day and a half to read one chapter. Then at the end of the book, we have an appendix of Anne Rice supernatural characters with a little blurb about each one, and then another appendix of Anne Rice supernatural themed books with a short paragraph describing each one. Again, it’s a commercial for the entire cannon of vampire stuff.

There are a couple of interesting surprises involving a young man named Victor, and a young woman named Rose, which set us up for more vampire stories, which if they are done properly could be enjoyable. Now that the commercial that is this book is finished, I can only hope that whatever creepy spirit possesses her when she is writing in Lestat’s voice, will show up and spare us glossaries, dictionaries, appendices, further mention by name of the earlier books, long flowery descriptions of clothing and overuse of the word “bespoke,” as well as an absence of long drawn out, boring world and vampire histories. You made me a little sad Anne, but I’ll chalk it up to the fact that it’s been something like ten or eleven years since you wrote a book and clearly your publisher/editor person didn’t really care what you wrote because they knew it would sell a lot and make a butt-ton of money regardless of the content. It probably won’t work out so great along those lines next time, so tighten it up girl; and if you are surrounded by yes men, get somebody who will tell you the truth and actually WORK with you. I still love you though, and I look forward to being able to give you another chance.

Have a great day everybody, stay warm and be nice πŸ™‚

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NBC’s Live Performance of Peter Pan

I am a huge Peter Pan fan. About a year ago, I saw Cathy Rigby in her signature roleΒ of Peter, on her farewell tour. I loved it. It was beautiful, well-acted and clearly Rigby has turned into Peter Pan over the years. I am also a huge fan of things I can watch with my whole family on television and not be bombarded with constant sex talk, violence, and political references, so imagine my excitement when I found out that NBC was doing another live musical for the holiday season. We watched last year’s Sound of Music, and once Carrie Underwood got past her first few nervous minutes, it was pretty good. Peter turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag for me.

It followed the story very well. Mrs. Darling, played by Kelli O’Hara, was perfect. Her voice was beautiful and she was in possession of the presence that only Broadway performers have. Minnie Driver did a good job as the narrator and grown-up Wendy. I feel like I’m expected to know who Allison Williams, aka Peter is, but I have no clue. She did a good job, and from certain angles, she pulled off being a boy. Her beautiful voice was all girl, even though she seemed to be cutting off soaring high notes to keep from sounding too much like a girl. It didn’t work and next time I suggest she just go ahead and go for it. She was very good with the Pan postures, but that tunic could have been a little longer. Even though she has about zero body fat, the girl thighs and rear were visible. That’s not her fault, the costumer should have noticed.

In fact, most of my issues with the show had nothing to do with the actors, rather, little details like the tunic length and some of the casting drove me to distraction. So let’s address the casting. Smee is supposed to be an old guy. He was not, but he was my favorite. Christian Borle was one of the highlights for me. He was funny, and played the part of Smee very well, he was just about twenty-five years too young. Christopher Walken. What to say about Christopher Walken. At first, I thought he was looking down and slightly to his left with a glassy eyed stare to make Hook appear disconnected and scary. As the show went on however, I realized that he was looking at a teleprompter, because he never stopped doing it. Ok, he stopped once in a while, but overall, he never stopped doing it. It was really in the wrong place. The whole time. He’s having trouble with voice strength. It happens, and again, wrong age. He was a bit to old for the part of Hook, ten years ago he would have been perfect. Hook is a full grown adult, but he’s not a grandpa, that should be Smee. See where I’m going here? Casting people, have you READ Peter Pan? Seen the movie? Seen the Broadway show? I really think they did CW a disservice. In their quest for a big name, they made the wrong choice.

The Lost Boys. This casting criticism gets an entire paragraph of it’s own, and it goes back to, “Hey casting people, have you ANY familiarity with Peter Pan?” The Lost Boys are supposed to be boys. Little boys, saaaay ten and under. These guys were the Lost Men. I have not seen more hugely muscular calves, leg hair, ropey, muscled arms, and five o’clock shadow in one place maybe ever. They were huge. When they were singing about getting a mother, my daughter said, “Mother, they have wives.” It took two pirates to kidnap each Lost Boy. Did I say they were huge? The only appropriately aged and sized “Lost Boys” were John and Michael Darling. I’m completely serious here. It was just really bad casting. Really bad.

All of this being said, I enjoyed a nice night of entertainment with my family. We had snacks together, laughed in a good way at the pirates. Pirates are always my favorite and if dancing pirates are wrong, I don’t wanna be right. The scene with Peter and Wendy in the boat reminded me of The Little Mermaid, go on and kiss theee girl, but I liked it. It was really pretty. The little miniature, fog laced London reminded me of the Peter Pan ride at Disney World, which worked for me, and the Lost Boys hide out was every little kid’s dream fantasy fort. The sets were beautiful, most of the costuming was good, and it was enjoyable overall.

Suggestions to NBC for next year. Mainly, three words. New. Casting. Director. For a tv event like this, you don’t need to drag in people everybody knows, or are supposed to know to get an audience. You need to hire Broadway caliber actors to populate a Broadway caliber show. And for pete’s sake, read the original material before you make even those choices. There are a lot of people out here in America who are familiar with what these stories are supposed to be, and we WILL notice when you get it wrong, and it WILL color our perception of what you are trying to do.

My other suggestion is to make another one. PLEASE. We are starving for stuff like this out here. We get enough exposure to inappropriate sex, graphic violence and cruelty on the news. It’s not entertainment. This actually WAS entertainment and we want more of it.

Have a great day everybody and be kind. πŸ™‚

Cades Cove, TN

We live about five hours from Gatlinburg, TN. If you’ve never been there, it’s a town just outside the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg has gone over the years, from being a sleepy little mountain town to a tourist mecca. It has a decidedly German flavor to many of the buildings and in the summer, there are beautiful flowers everywhere. I know lots of people don’t like tourist towns, and I often don’t like them either, but I like this one. It is a great gateway to the beautiful park, and inside that beautiful park is Cades Cove.

Cades Cove was a community way back in the mountains. Today, it is basically a museum of past Appalachian living. There are a few houses, some churches, a nice visitor center and a campground. We decided to take a bike ride on the loop road, and quickly discovered that it’s a lot hillier than we ever thought it was from the car. We had to bale, but in the meantime, I got some awesome photos.

A morning view from the Loop Road.
A morning view from the Loop Road.

We got there early, it was shady and cool. Suddenly, the sun rose all the way and the humidity began to creep up.

The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice...
The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice…
The Loop Road.
The Loop Road.

We realized that we were going to all die and dry up like empty corn husks if we kept going, so the sight of this cross-over road was a welcome sight.

Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.
Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.

The boy was in the worst shape because he had on a black shirt. My husband is the kind of person who trades us for crappy meals in restaurants, and will give you the shirt off his back. His shirt was NOT black and large enough to allow for air circulation when it was put on my son, so they traded shirts. I’m not sure if it shows well enough for you to tell, but that black shirt was TIGHT on the hubs. It was really funny, and a little embarrassing…

The hubs goofing off because the boy's shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.
The hubs goofing off because the boy’s shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.

Lesson learned from this? Just because you can handle an eight mile loop road bike ride on a perfectly flat island in Michigan when the temp is in the low 60’s, does NOT mean you can handle a loop road bike ride on a hilly, 80 degree, humid Tennessee morning. Just say no. The Cades Cove Loop Road is for cars. Use one.

Have a great day full of level walking/riding paths, cool temps and low humidity. Be nice πŸ™‚

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving was kind of weird for me this year. My Mom died in June of 2013 after eight years of illness, leaving me a fully grown orphan, and this year is the first string of holidays that will be carried out normally without either of my parents. Halloween didn’t bother me even though we always did a lot at Halloween, Thanksgiving on the other hand…

Macy's Parade
Macy’s Parade

Last year, my daughter’s marching band participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. Having never been to NYC, my husband, son and I went along as followers. It was a band trip, and she was mostly with the band, and we didn’t get to see her hardly at all, so it simultaneously sucked and was wonderful. We loved NYC and plan to go back next summer for a few days WITH my daughter so we can take her to the Public Library (which she will love) and so she can take US to the top of the Empire State Building after dark. Anyway, last Thanksgiving didn’t tickle my grieving because we were not home. We were gone the entire week and when we got home we were so tired we mostly slept. I don’t even remember putting up the Christmas tree last year, but we clearly did it, because I DO remember it being up on Christmas Day.

NYC Public Library.  That's my idea of heaven right there...
NYC Public Library. That’s my idea of heaven right there…

THIS year, we didn’t go to NYC. We didn’t go anywhere. The only one of my kid’s grandparents that is left is my mother-in-law. She came over for dinner and we played games after dinner. We had a good time. But it was a quiet holiday. It was a little sad, and a little lonely. All of our friends have families of their own to go to, and despite my best efforts, I can never find any strays to invite over.

I usually have a very “Thanksgiving-y” looking table. I love to decorate things. If I had as much money as they do, I could give Martha Stewart or Sandra Lee a run for their money with my “table scapes.” As it is, I do pretty well, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bring out the fall colors. This year, I used my mom’s ivy adorned china, and my grandmother’s silver. Then I went around the house and gathered up a bunch of stuff that reminded me of fall and Thanksgiving and the journey that was taken across the pond in a search for freedom and did my table with all new stuff. Ok, the china pilgrims are always out, but none of the other stuff is. I decided to change things up. Shake up at least the appearance of our celebration. The after dinner game was new too. Usually, we have a wii bowling tournament. I really didn’t want to do it this year because all it does is remind me of people who are no longer here, both friends and family. Plus, my mother-in-law has been going to wii bowling at the Senior Center for the last year and a half or so and would’ve kicked all of our behinds πŸ˜‰

Part of this year's tablescape.
Part of this year’s tablescape.

I know that these light on people holidays are just a phase of our lives. Someday our kids will get married and have kids of their own, and we’ll have next gen family and in-law family to get together with. I know that as time passes, friends will need a place to go, and I’ll keep looking for strays. I KNOW this is just a temporary condition, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I know that after you lose someone, it takes about three years to begin to recover, so we have another year and a half and the loss of my Mom will get easier, but for now, knowing all that doesn’t really help.

Another view of the table.
Another view of the table.

I am thankful though that we had fun. My food was amazing if I say so myself. We laughed a lot playing the game after dinner and we got a nice drive in when we took my MIL home. It was a beautiful holiday and I’m grateful for everyone that was there. I’m also grateful for the ones who weren’t because they left me with enough good memories to make me miss them. That’s cool, right?

Have a great night, and be the light for someone whenever you get the chance. πŸ™‚