Narnia Review: being in the closet can be fun!

December 13, 2005 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (3) 280

Went and saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe last night with my friend Alex. Not bad; very faithful to the original book, with a few cheesy chase scenes and things thrown in to add excitement. I read the book recently (for the third time–I have a terrible memory for all but summary and major details in literature) and it was pretty interesting to see the whole thing played out on the big screen.

I read recently where C. S. Lewis was strongly opposed to having his books adapted to film. His greatest objection was that talking animals never looked right in the movies. Mind you, Lewis died before CGI special effects, so his reference for talking animals was from “Mr. Ed” and “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.” Nowadays it seems like they can make almost anything talk, emote, and look convincing–and in this movie, they do. Beavers, a fox, wolves, a horse, a gryphon–even floating leaves talk. All in all, it looked pretty good. I would say ‘cheesiness’ was among the least of the film’s problems.

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The Lamb Lies Down…in Ardmore!

December 11, 2005 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 165

Took in The Musical Box performing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tonight. Absolutely spectacular. They get better every time I see them. We are about eight rows back from the stage for this show (last time I saw them we were much further back) and it really made the show that much better.

A few photos from the show (camera phone, couldn’t do better):

This is performing “Back in New York City,” one of my favorite songs from The Lamb. Without getting into too much detail about the story, this is the song where the main character’s rage and anger are really spilled out for all to see. Very dramatic, and the performance tonight carried it across 100%.

You can’t see it that well (sorry) but this is the famous “slipperman” costume sequence, perhaps the visual highlight of The Lamb live show. The guy in the middle is the main character, who is transformed into a misshapen man whose features are not fixed to his body, but ‘slip’ from place to place. He has absurdly large genitalia, portrayed by an inflated balloon, which must be removed to cure the affliction. Again, a key point of the Genesis legend, and the boys from The Musical Box get it spot-on.

This is actually AFTER “The Lamb” was over, they did another Genesis classic–Watcher of the Skies–as an encore. I’ve seen them do this song now three times, and this was the best so far. The bat wings are kind of hard to explain–Genesis became famous in the early 70s for the wacky costumes Peter Gabriel would wear. The costumes themselves were a way of compensating for an early lack of lights or effects, and they became such a trademark that they stuck around when those things were added. Bat wings are perhaps the best known. Which leads me to my next photo.

I don’t really dig on kids, but this one’s all right by me.

My brother brought a couple of his friends to the show as well. I got a call just before the first encore to let me know that they’d left before The Lamb was even over–just after “The Light Dies Down on Broadway!” Not only did they miss the conclusion of the story, but they missed three of the best songs of the whole night–“Riding the Scree,” “The Musical Box,” and “Watcher.” Why did they leave early? Well, not knowing the album makes it a bit harder to appreciate the performance, for one. Two, audience members were singing–nay, my brother says, “screaming”–along with the music and ruining the experience, and three, there were people smoking marijuana, and my brother and at least one of his friends are totally uncomfortable with that.

So overall, GREAT show, but I think you have to be a Genesis fan, or at least a fan of progressive rock in general, to truly appreciate The Musical Box.

Afterward, we grabbed a slice at Lorenzo’s on South Street and then headed over to 12th Air Command for a little while. OK night, but I just don’t enjoy their all-ages night as much as I enjoy all-ages at Woody’s. The music’s not as good, and the dance floor is actually TOO crowded, as impossible as that sounds. Anyway it was fun, and a good way to end the night. Very attractive crowd.

So that’s it. Tomorrow I have to go to the gym, and I have a hockey game in the evening. In between I think I might try to go see Narnia or something. For now, though, sleep is the way to go. Jeez, it’s nearly 4 AM! Yeah, sleep. Sleep is good.

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American Museum of Natural History, New York City

December 6, 2005 New York City, Travels Comments (0) 149

My brother and I had some time to kill on the Upper West Side on Saturday (and I felt like throwing away $40 to park my car for a couple of hours) so we took in the American Museum of Natural History. Perhaps my fifth or sixth visit in my lifetime, and I think the first time I didn’t see the dinosaur bones. I do love that museum, though; it’s a classic example of the Victorian-era museum, with few changes toward a more modern philosophy. This leads in some places to exhibits that might be perceived as socially or racially insensitive (I have to assume there were others that were more offensive, that have since been removed or updated) and to captions that, while not denotatively sexist, are fairly amusing in their language.

Of particular interest was the exhibit on ritual and magic among African tribes. They had a display of ceremonial costumes that was particularly fascinating in its unusual mythology. I would love to see a fantasy world developed around African tradition, the way much of fantasy has been developed around European and Christian mythology. I get the impression Octavia Butler writes things in this vein, but I’m not familiar enough with her work to assume so. I know I greatly enjoy Orson Scott Card’s “Tales of Alvin Maker” series, which plays with North American mythology and beliefs, like knacks, voodoo, and hexes.

I also have to say, a museum like that is great fun when you have a ridiculous sense of humor and an appreciation for the ironic and subtly off-balance the way my brother and I do.

A few photos from our museum experience:

Apparently these are the “first New Yorkers,” according to the caption. The guy on the right is asking someone for a quarter. The guy on the left secretly thinks that Jeter is a fag. I mostly took the picture because of the peg leg.

This is from the “Hall of Awesome” (our name, not theirs), an exhibit that was just lots and lots of preserved animals hung in no particular order on the walls… Just about thrown in a heap on the floor, actually. I think the point was to show “biodiversity” and motivate people to save endangered species, but that might be a stretch. Take, for instance:

Some kind of crab monster that was attacking us. I like to call this part the “Wall of Molluscs”

A squid fighting a flamingo? That’s just confusing.

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