Wednesday, May 28, 2008
All right, that was the slightest bit melodramatic, but it's nevertheless almost true. Almost. Nearly. Oh, fine. I'm over exaggerating. I'm not going to die. However, my choir teacher isn't so happy with me right now.
At lovely Paradigm High School, I'm in the women's audition choir (Bel Canto: population 8). We had our concert earlier this evening, and our teacher, Mrs. Steinmann, decided it would be fun to sing a little Broadway and jazz. Our songs were "Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair" (longest song title ever), "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and "Big Spender."
One of the Paradigm's pillars (for want of a better word) is "virtue." (Wisdom, relevance, virtue, yo creo?) Anyhow, Mrs. Johnson (our school director) was a little iffy about "Big Spender" because of the...ehm...nature of the song. Mrs. Steinmann vowed to clean it up, and thusly, she had us dress up as cleaning ladies. My friend Kaitlynn, the second soprano, got a plunger; as an alto, I got stuck with a feather duster. *sighs* At least I got to wear an apron that said "DANGER: Man at Work."
At the end of "Big Spender" on the new cast recording of Sweet Charity, this absolutely smoker-sounding woman says, "Howzabout it, palsie?" Having a low voice and all, I gave it a shot after one of our rehearsals, taking a drag out of my duster. Everyone exploded into laughter, even Mrs. Steinmann. After a while, I cooled it, although I begged the teacher to let me do it in the concert. It went something like this:
Me: "Please, Mrs. Steinmann! It's funny!"
Mrs. Steinmann: "No, Jo! Do you want to get me fired?"
Me: "You won't get fired."
Her: "Yes I will! Mrs. Johnson will have my hide."
Me: "Just tell her you knew nothing about it."
Her: "No. I want you to be SQUEAKY CLEAN."
And so I promised that I would be. Sometimes, though, I have a sprinkling of mischievousness in me. Especially when I get together with Kaitlynn. But anyway, I was NOT planning to do it tonight. NOT NOT NOT. But then my sneaky counterpart came along and said, "Darling, you must do 'Howzabout it, palsie?' Simply must." I said no the first time, I really did. And the second time. And the third time. Et cetera, et cetera. Then Kaitlynn came up and said that our choreographer, Amy, told me that I should totally do it.
Well, that collapsed me. I gave in, and at the end of the song, after the "Yeah," I swaggered down to the piano, placed my hand on the pianist's shoulder and said, "Howzabout it, palsie?" in my smokiest voice, while tickling him with my feather duster. Later accounts (via Kayla) told that Mrs. Steinmann rolled her eyes and put her head in her hands.
After the concert, I just about booked it home so I wouldn't have to face a certain choir teacher. So I'm sort of excited and nervous to see her reaction at school tomorrow.
If I die, I bequeath all my worldly possessions to whoever wins the cage fight. Good luck, one and all.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
In this world where sophistication and elegance are underrated, it is most refreshing to come upon a class that teaches those largely ignored qualities. I always enjoyed Jane Austen’s books before; the refinement was captivating; but I’ve now started to translate the refinement into my life.
One of the things that the class encouraged is doing away with all filler words, such as “yeah,” “like,” “um,” “crap,” “freak,” and “so.” Language precision is a virtue above all because if you can’t communicate intelligently with your fellow beings, why communicate at all? (Bless Collins’ and Miss Bates’ hearts.) I generally see myself as a well-educated individual; however, there are a few words that have crept into my vocabulary over the years that make me sound as moronic as any vapid teenage girl. One of my biggest shortcomings is starting every other sentence with “So, basically…” Picking up the metaphorical gauntlet thrown down at the beginning of the semester, I tried my absolute hardest to do away with that linguistic vice. It was far more difficult than I anticipated. One never realizes that the problem is quite so problematic until one tries to be rid of it! Despite the rocky path, I’m getting slowly better. By no means am I completely cured, but I’ve learned to start sentences right off with the thought or use the more refined-sounding “Thusly…” Perhaps someday I will be able to express myself as well as Miss Jane Austen.
If there is one thing I’m heartbroken about the American colonists doing away with, it is the tea service. It is a perfectly elegant way to become better acquainted with your compatriots, while enjoying the health benefits tea has to offer. Everything these days seems painfully fast. Wake up, inhale a quick (and rather unhealthy) breakfast, run to school where knowledge is crammed into your head at a dizzying speed, run to work, run to ballet, run to soccer practice, etc. Tea time is such a marvelous custom because everything about it is calming and slow, down to the very tea itself. The preparation is something that cannot be rushed. One has to let the water boil and the tea steep, cut the lemons with precision, and prepare the minute delicacies. The more time that is spent on a tea party, the more elegant it will become.
At my sister’s tea party last night, I was reminded how uneducated our society is in the art of taking tea in this day and age. I was shocked when I saw ladies crossing their legs and stirring their tea in circles. I was appalled when my younger cousin gulped down five cups of tea (each with three sugar cubes!) to the point of explosion. I nearly fainted when my sister looped her fingers through the handle of the tea cup instead of holding it gracefully on the side (with pinky out) as I had shown her. Her defense was that it was more comfortable the way she was doing it. More comfortable, yes, but she looked like a vulgar Yankee ready to eat a raw steak. True refinement, I found, is sadly lacking even in good families. Perhaps one day I shall have to hold a class on the art and culture that is drinking tea. If they had taken a Jane Austen course in their youth, perhaps I would not have teach such a class.
Miss Jane Austen has the enchanting gift of being able to capture human nature on the page. More than once I have had to remind myself that her characters are not real, despite the overwhelming feeling of kinship with some. Their mistakes become my mistakes, their triumphs my triumphs, and their shortcomings my shortcomings. Emma in particular causes me to reflect on my life in a more profound way. Miss Jane Austen once said that Emma is a character that no one besides herself would much like, but all her weaknesses make her more endearing to me. I, too, have the unfortunate tendency of thinking that I know what is best for all my friends. Seeing Emma’s disastrous results both comforts me and spurs me to change. I am comforted that I’m not the only control freak who has a desire to serve her friends in sometimes odd ways; inversely, I see what scrapes Emma gets into due to her meddling, and I start to hold my tongue in certain circumstances. Emma (and, by association, Miss Jane Austen) causes me to reflect on my actions and words before they are unleashed, thereby helping me circumvent most unnecessary problems.
When I first heard that I would be taking a Jane Austen course, my first thought was, “Dude! That is totally awesome! So, basically, I’m way psyched!” As the semester draws to a close, my thoughts have taken on a more Austen-esque spin. They sound somewhat like this; “This has been a most worthwhile experience. I am thoroughly glad that I took this course and knocked off some rough twenty-first century edges. The lessons in social graces and word precision are invaluable.”
To slightly misquote Miss Elizabeth Bennet, what are texting and TV to tea and refinement?
Friday, May 9, 2008
Then, earlier this week, the equilibrium of the theory of "Written Works Translated into Filmed Projects are Never Thusly Equal" was exploded into a million shards.
I read "Stardust."
I never even knew it was a book until it said something about it at the end of the movie. The movie was absolutely awesome. My thoughts were along this line: "Holy cow! If the movie is this good, think of how astounding the book is!" Not so. The book was boring, too complex and yet too simple, too flat, and not nearly as clever as the movie.
On the other hand, "Stardust" is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. A star falls and Tristan Thorne, the protagonist and resident moron until 3/4 of the movie is done, vows to go get it for Victoria if she'll marry him. She says "sure," and he prepares to go over the wall that divides his world from the forbidden world of Stormhold (or Faerie as it's called in the book.)
Anyhow, he finds the star, which is actually a PMSy chick by the name of Yvaine. He chains her up with this magical chain thing and drags her towards his hometown of Wall. Meanwhile, the 81st Lord of Stormhold has died and now his sons have to duke it out over the crown. Apparently the real Lord of Stormhold is supposed to find this necklace proves that he's to be the next heir or something like that. Meanwhile MEANWHILE, these gross witches (Michelle Pfeiffer) want to find the star so's they can rip out her heart and eat it to have eternal youth.
The main plot in the book and movie is the same, but the little details are what make it. For instance, there's a lot more character development in the movie than in the book, which is rare in and of itself. When Yvaine and Tristan hook up at the end in the book, it makes absolutely no sense. Not so in the movie.
AND THE END BATTLE BETWEEN TRISTAN AND MICHELLE PFEIFFER IS COMPLETELY CUT OUT IN THE BOOK! There's no amazing voodoo battle between one of the contenders for Stormhold and Tristan; there's no rioting from the sacrifice animals; there's no shiny-explodingness from Yvaine!
But the thing that broke my heart more than anything was that there was no Captain Shakespeare. There was no metro-sexual pirate who hides his affinity for dresses and styling hair behind a fierce no-mercy pirate front. I laughed until my abs started crying, it was so funny. He offers Yvaine a dress from his closet and when she declines he says, "Honey, you're wearing a bathrobe." Later, he explains his name. "See, when my men think 'Shakespeare' they think 'SHAKE-SPEAR!' But I think of an Elizabethan writer with a clever command of the English language." And the part where he draws a heart on his cheek and is prancing around with the fan....! *giggles* It's priceless.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is why I must applaud Hollywood for the magic worked. They've messed up a lot of other books, but they actually improved "Stardust." Bravo.
Paradigm, Paradigm, Paradigm! I cannot say enough good things about it. This week has been the absolute bomb. This SEMESTER has been the absolute bomb. No busy work, fantastic friends, vivacious teachers... I think I'm in love. (I'm such a nerd. :B) Today was a random day where the administration threw us a barbecue and then cut us loose to do whatever we dang well pleased. I was rather psyched. I went upstairs into the math room to play "Signs" and the keys game with a bunch of friends and Mr. Rogers. It was some good, good times.
Also, it's Feast and Ball next week! Huzzzzzzah! For all you who don't know, Feast and Ball is the Paradigm equivalent to prom. Only cooler. A) You don't have to take anyone to be cool. My walloping group of friends and I are all going together without the awkwardness of dates. B) We get full run of the Thanksgiving Point gardens for all hours of the night. C) It's only $50 for dinner, activity, and dancing. I think that's a pretty positive point. D) You have to be wearing a modest dress or you aren't allowed in.
And E) I am making (my mum is, actually) a Jane Austen style dress and will not be persecuted for wearing it. My friends think it's super cool, especially since it's going to be made out of WalMart curtains. It's pretty, reasonably priced, and very Austenesque. I will post a picture of it (along with my crazy F & B group) later.
Ah, yes. Sabrina. I don't know how many of you actually watch that show, but it's hilarious. Smarty-pants aunt, laid-back-teenageish aunt, sarcastic talking cat, funny protagonist, evil cheerleader nemesis. It's got everything!