June 21, 2014

Stuff That I Like- 6/21/14

Alright, so I've been a little inactive on the blog lately, and part of that is because of tour (which I'll talk about, don't worry), but also because I haven't really had much to write about for the blog, and I haven't decided what my next review is going to be. But some things have been happening, so I figured I'd just write up this short thing if only to produce new content for you to read.

First, let's talk AYS tour! Okay, so this... this came so close, so close, to making up for all the BS of the last year. It didn't, but tour was obviously the highlight of my AYS experience, and what a highlight it was! First, I have to say that seeing the New York Philharmonic live was just mind-bogglingly insanely awesome! They performed two Beethoven piano concertos and a premier piece that was very modern and stuff; I didn't like that one, but the Beethoven stuff was superb!

Second, we all got to see different plays on Broadway after eating at a really awesome restaurant, and my play of choice was Phantom of the Opera! Holy hell, was that an experience! This was my first time seeing the play (I'd of course seen the film), and it did not disappoint! The acting, the singing, the effects... nothing was out of place here. And the man playing the Phantom was actually the guy who played Phantom for the Broadway premier all those years ago, and that was really cool. Just wonderful voices, and very good effects; that chandelier was just remarkable!

Finally, and most importantly, we played in Carnegie Hall. I'll just say this (and then go on to elaborate because I'm not a succinct person): I haven't smiled more broadly when playing the violin than I did during that whole thing. This was a magical experience for me, something that I know I'll only have the fortune of doing once in my life, but God damn, was that worth all the shit heaped onto the program for the last year! We rehearsed in the hall before concert, obviously, and when we got all set up and struck that first D Major chord of the Tchaikovsky, it was like the heavens opened up and sang! The acoustics were that good! And our balance was pretty good too (though the hall was so echoey that for the violins, it sounded like the percussion was a full beat off), and the trumpets just nailed the opening of the 2nd movement of the New World Symphony! That made all of us smile even more! And what energy we had! Just this feeling that we were here in an historically significant music hall and that we had made it! We made it, and we were here, and we were all smiles! The natural high you got from being up there was remarkable; everything fell into place during our concert, and we were all just so excited to be up there that that kind of fueled our playing ability to churn out the best rendition of this concert that I think we could have! What a superb experience, and one that I won't soon forget!

While on tour, I had the chance to read the bulk of a new book I got recently called Reading Joss Whedon, a collection of academic essays analyzing and critiquing the works of Whedon from Buffy to The Avengers. It's so great! Two essays stuck out to me in particular, both relating Joss shows to Ovid. The first looks at the Buffy character through the lens of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and this was really fascinating! The second looked at Dollhouse and related the show to the myth of Echo and Narcissus! That was the more interesting of the two because not much has been written about Dollhouse, and this was a unique look at a show that has often come under fire from feminists and scholars for being somewhat antithetical to what Joss Whedon is trying to do with his shows. But this essay addresses that and then supplements that with interpretations of the show that really lend themselves well to the Ovid relation, and the stuff that the writer draws between the two stories is just awesome and very eye-opening. The rest of these essays in here are all good (I think this is the first book to really have an academic essay about The Avengers), and the uniqueness of the subject matter and what the authors do with it is a wonder to read. If you're into this corner of academia, no doubt you'll have already read this (and more that I have not because I'm just beginning to take the dive into this realm), but read this especially if you're a Whedon fan! It's damn good.

So, I've been cleaning out my room of all the Transformers crap I've had lying around for like thirteen years, throwing away about 70% of my "collection", most of that being broken, worn out, exploded pieces of plastic that can't really be sold nor restored, so they've hit the scrapyard. I did manage to reassemble and refurbish a good fifty or so 'Bots and 'Cons, so that was very good! I also now have a whole assortment of weapons that has essentially turned my room into a little armory! Anyway, this whole endeavor has been very good because I now have more space in my room because I don't have these huge bins with plastic crap in them getting in the way! And I have essentially fifty new Transformers in my collection now, so that's a bonus!

I've just started in on watching Falling Skies! I'm on the fourth episode now, and I have to say that it's already pretty good. I can see this becoming much like The Walking Dead, with this being a character piece with an alien invasion backdrop, but right now it's really about the aliens. Still, character development does happen, I like the diversity in the groups of people (race, ethnicity, gender, etc), and I like also that this has a very "real" understanding of what a post-apocalyptic scenario would be like: you have actual civilians, the civilians outnumber the soldiers, the people have some working cars, guns, food, they don't live in caves. In essence, unlike most PA stories, humanity hasn't lost all sense of who we used to be, either in materials or in social functions. I particularly like that at the end of the first episode, this kid gets a skateboard and rides around before letting others take a turn while the rest watch. It's a small victory in the wake of a devastating invasion, and it brings this back around to the human side of things. This show is starting out to be very good, and I'm hoping that this gets more character-focussed and interesting as it goes on (and from what I've read, it does).

So, that's all I wanted to talk about. My cousin is coming over in a week, so we might do some joint thing on here, who knows. For now, that's it. Hoping to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 this weekend and do a Mini-View on it!

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