Review: Wicked [the musical]

The day finally came on Friday to get in the horseless carriage and head to the theatre. I was pretty excited in the days leading up to the show, since it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a musical. Plus, my folks and Ape & me were enthralled with Wicked the book, which made this particular show a novel (larf) experience. We even had great seats- 13th row from the stage, the closest I’m ever likely to get without having to join the orchestra. First impressions: the first act didn’t live up to my expectations. It veered wildly from the book, rather than the more common approach of omitting non-essential details. The music was not very memorable either- the words were rather difficult to understand sometimes, and this beast bore the mark of soulless contemporary music.

The second act was much better, in nearly every aspect. The action was swifter, the emotion more tangible, and there were a few songs that left me humming after the show. It’s possible that I enjoyed the second more because it became more evident that the musical was conceived for an audience that had never read Gregory Maguire’s story, or even the original Frank L. Baum’s story. The musical is aimed squarely at a family audience who knew the movie inside and out. I have to include ‘family audience’ because nearly every violent aspect of the story was removed or quickly reversed* (read footnote for a spoiler)

Final Assessment: At the end of the night, I decided that I enjoyed the musical quite a bit, in spite of the many inconsistencies with the book I so thoroughly enjoyed.

*The musical depicts Elphaba’s death by water as a trick, which deceives her contemporaries. She is then secretly reunited with Fiyero and they live happily ever after. Contrast this with Maguire’s novel, in which nearly everyone dies.

Review: Bookhunter, by Shiga

Bookhunter was an excellent read, if it can be said that one merely ‘reads’ comic books. It engages you on a number of levels, and changed my mind about modern comics. It’s the story of Bay, library Marshall, who uses his keen intellect to solve the mystery of a stolen tome. Not just any old tome mind you; an incunabulum. The thief is caught in the end, using a combination of 1970’s library technology and clever punditry. The story seen as a whole is nothing unique; the appeal is couched in the unraveling of the mystery (as is so often the case with mysteries). The brown-hued illustration is sparse, and the humor is drier than a Southern California forest.

Aside from these qualities, it’s a fulfillment of a long-time librarian fantasy: dispensing justice to malfeasant patrons using crime labs and attack teams, instead fines and shushing. It’s also a rather interesting look into the public library past: the story is set in 1973, when records were slowly migrating from dusty stacks of cards into digital abodes.

Final assessment: you should read it online, right now:

Book Hunter – Full online text

able i was ere i saw elba

We all knew it was coming, so there’s no point in avoiding it; the raconteur in me demands a replay the story of Christmas 2007.

If you’re fed up with the idea of Christmas, you should replace every instance of the word ‘christmaswith Saturnalia.

Christmas 2007 was undoubtedly good to me. In spite of the repeat trips between E-ville and Springfield, it was fairly relaxing too. Families were rejoined, elaborate gifts exchanged (I definitely did not deserve as much), and the weather was tolerable. I’ve found a home for my new tool chests, accumulated a small fortune in Lowe’s gift cards, and lord over a much strengthened beer & wine collection.

It was nice to be home in Williamsville for a few days. It doesn’t seem as dismal as it did in my high-school years. Ape and I even enjoyed a brief stint at Becker Computer Service, which was pretty agreeable. Best of all, I got a passively cooled video-card for my computer (an agp card is rather hard to come by these days), so my system no longer sounds like a leaf blower.Ape thinks we should move there during gradschool, but what would become of our feline dependents?

Now I’m mostly tired, and disdainful of having to go back to work at the Liberry. I was definitely not prepared for the assault on my olfactory, the work of a corpulent patron whose aroma would put the dirtiest European to shame. The good news: tomorrow we’re off to see Wicked. Check back soon for a review and a telling of my attempts to tie a bow-tie.

8 maids-a-milking

Just a few more days til Christmas. I’ve been busy rediscovering leisure reading, and I just finished Stephen Colbert’s book I Am America, and So Can You!. Let us commence with the mini-review:

The book starts off strong (about 80% of the laughs I got out of the book were contained in the first 30 pages). Possible correlation to: the amount of time it usually takes to get through an episode of the Colbert Report. It is a bit of a slow read, primarily because there is a plethora of margin notes and footers. After those first 30 pages, the pseudo-conservative schtick loses it’s lustre, and drags on for awhile longer. The day after I returned the hardback copy, the audiobook version came. It feels a little hollow, even in comparison to the book. Final verdict: read it anyway. Even if you only make it through the first 3/8 of the book, it’s good for a few larfs.

Elsewhile, I’m wrapping up with christmas shopping (har!) Today’s shopping was intended for the gauntlet of secret santa gift-exchanges that await me during the coming days. I’m pretty pleased with this year’s contributions:

Ape’s Family

This gift suite is titled “Get Lucky“. It includes a bottle of sparkling wine, a box of chocolates from Halle, Germany, a condom, and a bunch of lottery tickets. The way I see it, you’re sure to get something good out of that. The tickets Ape and I bought weren’t winners, so the neighboring tickets must be winners.

My Family

The suite of gifts for my family started out the same as the former, but inspiration struck me at Dierbergs, and it transformed into the “Locavore Lunch” package. Everything is from the St. Louis area, and included are the following items:

  • Fitz’s Rootbeer
  • Schlafly Beer (No. 15)
  • Missouri Honey
  • Peanut Butter from Chesterfield
  • Hautly Cheese
  • Salad Dressing from Zia’s
  • Pasta Sauce from Bartollini’s
  • Horseradish from Collinsville (Horseradish capitol of the world!)

I think it’s a cool idea. Being a locavore is rough, especially around this time of year. I’ve always had an urge to try it, and this is pretty encouraging. I could probably live forever off peanut butter & honey sandwiches…

Sorry for the few days without posts; I was busy graduating.  First, a short summary of the last few days:


Friday was German presentation day.  In light of the result of my french presentation, I nixed notecards and loaded up the powerpoint with all my data and infos.  I arrived (very) early, made sure everything worked, and Ape and I reflected for a few minutes on our time at SIUE.  Then Anna who works in the foreign language lab made us help her clean the illustrious plasma-lounge.  I guess they wanted it to be sparkling for my presentation…

The presentation itself went off without a hitch.  The only hitch was the 15 month old Anna, who was evidently bored by the topic of Franz Kafka’s theological musings.  It really wasn’t bad having her in the audience; since cute kids are attention magnets, the pressure was off me.  A mixture of confidence and sweat (it was about 85 degrees in the lab) radiated from my body, and I kicked ass.  After the questioning, BCW was literally dumbfounded, and offered the compliment “Vielen Gut“.  I took it in the intended sense, and played with Anna & Ape during the next student’s presentation.

I definitely prefer the way BCW did business; that is, one student presents their research to the professors.  The professors  question them, they prove themselves (or fail) vigorously, and open the floor for the next student.  No fuss, no muss (What is muss anyway?) .  Compare that to the french presentations, where students endured each other’s presentations for 20-30 minutes each, and then held a panel of questions at the end.  Can’t win em’ all, I guess.

Fast Forward to Saturday

siuseal.gifSaturday was graduation day.  Graduation was about like I expected: rubes in robes, speeches about the future, etc.  It was all fine really, it just bears keeping in mind that all the talk about the future and what we’ve accomplished means nothing if people (myself included) don’t use their degrees to better themselves or those around them.  The highlight of Saturday was without a doubt Graduation-party-orama, catered by my loving parents.  The food was superb (I’ve never heard so many people praise christmas cookies), the mood was cozy, and the company congenial.  It excels any of the parties I’d had in college (for a number of reasons), and I have my parents & Ape to thank for it.

Yes, it was a night to remember.  I got alot of gifts (particularly since expressed that I didn’t want gifts in the invite), and not just regular gifts- awesome gifts!  I can only hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did.  The only drag was the weather, the winter-wonder-if-we’ll-get-home-alive-land.    Somebody up there disklikes me…

And on to Sunday

Sunday was a slow day; a day for rest and recovery.  The folks & Ape & myself got some morning nourishment at Panera and discussed plans for graduation-trip-orama.   The possibilities include Las Vegas, Mackinaw Island, Quebec City, Nova Scotia, Germany, Costa Rica, Tallulah, and Baghdad.  Post up if you have any you’d like to add.

The rest of Sunday was regrettably rest-free.  We went to Emma’s birthday no. 2 party, and got swamped by kids.  I’m pretty sure at least one of those kids had cholera, coz’ now Ape and I are both sick.

 What happened then? 

I went back to work.  And have had to get up early every single day.  Blegh.

I wanna go back to school!

Have I lost it? Did I ever have it?

Today I presented my research about Michel de Montaigne. I had a schweet powerpoint, big yellow notecards to guide me through the whole thing, and an abundance of confidence (since I knew my stuff in and out). Turns out the secret ingredient to a successful presentation was the notecards, which I (foolishly) left sitting at home. I would have gone back to retrieve them, but I parked in BFE , and would have been fairly late getting back. Being unable to read said cards from a distance of 3 miles, I attempted to carry on my presentation without them, to a disastrous end.

I knew my stuff in and out. But that doesn’t mean I could express my thoughts in a logical and comprehensible pattern. As a result, I was hemoraging disconnected facts and explanations about Michel and his Essais, to the befuddlement of all. Normally, this sort of thing would be troublesome. Today it was double-troublesome, since jackass Ian (who said I was pretentious for using a larger font for the first letter of each paragraph) is now convinced that he is the almighty of the french department. A pox on him!

Tomorrow I present my german paper, and if it doesn’t go well, I’m gonna quit school and invade Poland.

Le Brunch


I was playing with my supa-kickass new lego train last night when I got a call from Aunt Liz. Calls from family are always good news, and this was no exception. Since she couldn’t make it to graduation-party-orama, she wanted to know if Ape and I would join her and Kim for brunch. Of course we said yes, and set off to the Chase this morning.

We got a bit lost (inside the hotel is rather maze-like, but the receptionist told us the brunch was just past the third minotaur on the right). The food was superb, though Ape felt the counters were too tall to be accessible to people of her stature. The desserts looked too nice to eat, so we decided just to taste them.

We finished up and said our goodbyes, and shortly thereafter the enjoyment ended. Interstate 64 was completely closed, something I thought would only happen when judgement day was nigh. But nigh or not-nigh, some higher being was punishing everyone who was caught up in the ensuing mess. So Ape was a bit late to work, and I had to pee in the woods outside town, since the 12 glasses of water I’d had at brunch were getting out of hand.

Then I had to make a diaper delivery to my sister, followed by my appointment with breaking a large glass x-mas ornament in my kitchen. At least brunch was good…