femininity, movie, Music, review

My Fair Lady

Yesterday night I went to see a local production of the musical “My Fair Lady”. I thought it was quite well done, though I don’t have much to compare it to. This review will not further discuss the particulars of that production; rather, I will speak about the aspects of the musical itself, apart from any one presentation of it. (Let it be known, however, that last night’s viewing and the Audrey Hepburn movie are the sum of my acquaintance with the play.)

It’s good entertainment. The songs are catchy and pleasant to hear, the story is romantic, and it is quite funny in parts (particularly the scene at the races). However, there are serious deficiencies in the play as well. WARNING: spoilers from now on.
Firstly, the character of Eliza Doolittle is not sufficiently developed pre-transformation. She’s not much more than a yowling, greedy, dirty child, and her sudden change into a lovely, clear-voiced, romantic young woman after learning how to correctly pronounce her A’s injures the suspension of disbelief which is already under strain. I love the song “I Could Have Danced All Night”, and I think her emotions under the circumstances are completely believable. However, it is almost as if it is the first time we meet Eliza. There was not the slightest hint that she was capable of such affections earlier in the play, save perhaps the short scene with her father in the street. I recognize that the entire point of the play is Eliza’s rebirth, and I can swallow the huge implausibility of the plot, but the change needed to be at least a bit more gradual, and there needed to be some sign earlier in the play that Eliza had more personality than a feral cat.
Then there is the character of Henry Higgins. He’s certainly amusing, but as the play goes on he almost seems to become worse as Eliza becomes better. By the end of the play he swears at her almost continually and even lays hands on her. Her words to him after he does this are cutting, and I could feel his horror at his own behavior; but it never comes to anything. After her magnificent song “Without You”, she returns to him, apparently leaving poor Freddy completely in the lurch, and he returns to asking her rudely where his slippers are. This might have made sense if she had heard Higgins singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”, but as far as we know, she had no idea. By the end of the play, Eliza still unreasonably loves him, despite the fact that as far as she knows he’ll still treat her like dirt, Higgins continues to curse at her, and not a word is said in apology for his outrageous treatment of her.
What the play needed was a scene where Higgins clearly repents his behavior, tells Eliza that he is unworthy of her with tears in his eyes, and she consents to marry him after he desperately apologizes to her. Or, at least a scene where he confesses his contrition to Colonel Pickering, who goes on to tell Eliza of his sorrow.
My dissatisfaction with the play consists in this: Higgins predicts repulsively that she’ll come back to him. And she does. She has no idea that he’s sorry; she simply cannot live without him, even at the expense of her self-respect. I find this deeply unsatisfying. Certainly, there are many men and women like this, but to portray Eliza as one of them undermines Eliza’s character arc and makes the song “Without You” meaningless. Evidently, the world won’t go on without him. (And what’s with Higgins’ mother? She is clearly a strong-minded woman, but she puts up with his yelling and cursing at her, and even comes when she’s called. If he were my son I hope I wouldn’t put up with it. So much for honoring your mother and father.) He never apologizes.
Yes, Higgins shows jealousy and suffering when Eliza leaves, but that’s not enough (and she isn’t even aware of that when she opens the door!). He needs to show that he’s truly sorry that he manhandled her, swore at her, and ignored her. He doesn’t. I’m no feminist, but you don’t have to be a feminist to see that this is unacceptable on his part. I still like My Fair Lady, but it will never be a favorite of mine.
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Music, rant

Musical thought of the day

If “everybody knows, everybody knows where we’re going”, then why do you feel like you have to tell us that “we’re going down”?

And what does that even mean? Do you even know? Dude. Say what you mean.

(I am doing Camp NaNoWriMo, by the way. Please don’t hit me. Save that for the day that I say that I’m looking forward to school starting.)
(I’m kind of looking forward to school starting. Quick, slap me back into my senses!)

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Music, thirty days

Days XII and XIII

Skipping over the photo ones… too much trouble…

Well, a song I want played at my wedding… if I do ever marry, obviously this song will have to be played at the reception or whatever because I’m definitely going to be married at a Nuptial Mass… I don’t really know. Almost all my favorite songs are too sad for a wedding. I really like “The Scientist” by Coldplay but it’s a little downbeat. All the same, I think it would be perfect. And I love, love, love the set “Morning Nightcap” by Lunasa. It is such a lovely, happy set of tunes. It makes me feel like dancing even though I can’t really dance. Perhaps one could dance the Virginia Reel to it, but might be a bit fast… anyways…

A guilty pleasure? Well, er, this blog is kind of a guilty pleasure since I have school to do right now, but I really like taking walks alone when it’s almost night and if it were any darker my mom would get her feathers ruffled because I’d be out too late… 😛

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Music

rambling…

By the way, I forgot to mention in my last post that I was incorrect and that was not the first time I’ve been to Austin. I was there once before when I was very young.

This weekend I am going to see these guys perform twice:

Altan is playing at a nearby festival and I am looking forward to seeing them perform. They’re probably one of the, I don’t know, top five traditional Irish bands right now… anyways, I’m thrilled to be able to see them perform.

On that note, I’ve been listening to a beautiful song recently called “Cruel” by Kate Rusby, an English folk singer. I’ve not listened to much of her stuff, so I don’t know that all of it is suitable, but this is an extraordinary song, and her voice is, in my opinion, lovely. You can judge for yourself, though.

I’ve noticed that a disproportionate number of folk songs from the British Isles, whether Scottish, Irish, or English seem to concern young women separated from their beloveds when they go to sea, which must have been a very common occurrence for it to be so often immortalized in song. Nowadays you hear nothing of that kind of separation, at least not by sea, and we are offered, as a replacement, songs about young women whining about how it just didn’t work out between her and her boyfriend. The only song I can think about that concerns loss of that kind is Carrie Underwood’s “Just a Dream”, which is fairly moving.

The more I think about it, the more this shift intrigues me. The vast majority of the Irish songs I’ve heard are dark. I have difficulty coming up with any love songs from that country that aren’t tragic in one way or another. Even the one or two with relatively happy endings are dark. There are a couple of songs about dancing or drinking that are cheerful, but none about love. And not just romantic love; “Pill, Pill a Ruin” comes to my mind. As far as I can discover, it’s sung by a mother whose son, a priest, has left the Church and become a Protestant minister. “But the heaviest curse that you’ll ever bear is the mother’s curse I put on you” she sings in Gaelic, according to these lyrics and translation. The rendition by Maighread Ni Domhnaill is deeply moving, especially if you know what she’s singing. It’s an unusual song, and not entirely motivated by Christian charity, as the quote above proves, but it is very human.

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Books, movies, Music, Regina Doman

It’s time for…

Mirfain’s END OF YEAR LISTS!!!!

First of all, I shall list the movies I saw for the first time last year, as far as I can remember. They are in no special order, unless you count the order I remember them in. I will rank them according to quality at the end. Not all of them were released last year; it so happened that I saw them last year. Note that mention of a book, movie, or CD on my blog does not indicate my wholehearted endorsement of it; certainly not for all ages. Always ask first…

1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
2. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
3. Tangled
4. Inception
5. Alice in Wonderland.
6. Toy Story 3
7. Despicable Me
8. My Neighbor Totoro
9. Ponyo
10. The Passion of Joan of Arc
11. Holiday
12. Star Wars
13. Up
14. My Fair Lady
15. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
16. The Passion of the Christ

Books:
1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. Emma – ditto
3. Persuasion – ditto
4. Northanger Abbey – ditto
5. Mansfield Park – ditto
6. The Aeneid – Virgil
7. The Shadow of the Bear – Regina Doman
8. Black as Night – ditto
9. The Midnight Dancers – ditto
10. Waking Rose – ditto
11. Alex O’Donnell and the Forty Cyberthieves – ditto
12. Eclipse of the Sun – Michael O’Brien
13. Plague Journal – ditto
14. Looking for the King – David C. Downing
15. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
16. Poetic Diction – Owen Barfield
17. Odyssey – Homer
18. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Musical recordings (purchased and/or listened for to the first time):

1. La Nua – Lunasa
2. Fit? – Old Blind Dogs
3. Se – Lunasa
4. The Kinnitty Sessions – Lunasa
5. Clannad – Clannad
6. “D” Flute Album – Kevin Crawford
7. Sweeney’s Dream – Kevin Burke
8. Korong – Kornog
9. Harvest Storm – Altan
10. The Red Crow – Altan
11. Cuilidh – Julie Fowlis
12. On Common Ground – Cillian Vallely and Kevin Crawford
13. Tripswitch – John McSherry and Donal O’Connor
14. Light on a Distant Shore – Ossian
15. Live in Japan – Vasen (this is the only non-Celtic recording on the list–it’s Swedish.)

And now for *drumroll* my top five of each!

Movies:

1. The Passion of the Christ (2004). Heartbreaking, bloody, and worth watching every Good Friday. Highly recommended, but the violence makes it highly unsuitable for children.

2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). This is an astonishing film. The actress playing St. Joan (who happens to be my confirmation saint) is sometimes considered to have given the greatest performance, silent or not, in any film of all time.

3. Inception (2010). This is easily the best film released in 2010 that I have seen, and I saw an unusual number of films released this year (six, I believe — normally I see one or two in theaters and the rest on DVD). Plot-driven, brilliant, well-made… my caveat is that the whole premise of the film revolves around implanting an idea inside someone’s mind, an act not merely illegal but immoral. Sadly, this comes pretty close to spoiling the movie. As a work of art it is mindblowing. There’s little other objectional material. No adult content, some taking of the Lord’s name in vain, and a good bit of violence, though it’s neither graphic nor gratuitous. Indeed, there is very little blood at all.

4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988). A sweet, beautiful movie.. Here is my review of it.

5. Up (2009). I love Pixar, and this is one of their best films. It’s touching and adventurous at the same time.

Books:

1. Pride and Prejudice. I read five of Jane Austen’s six novels, and she being so overrepresented I decided to just pick one. I think the things I like best about Austen are her excellent sense of humor and brilliant character sketches. Or maybe it’s the elegant, civilized world she writes about. Maybe it’s the long, mouthfilling sentences, or maybe it’s the romance. Whatever. It’s good. As C. S. Lewis said (roughly), her books have only two faults; they’re too short and too few.

2. The Aeneid. I wonder at myself placing it over the Odyssey, but there it is. I long for the day when I can read it in Latin…

3. The Odyssey. Who could resist it? “Rosy-fingered dawn”, “goddess grey-eyed Athene”, “sacred dwelling of Circe” on the one hand, and on the other the Cyclops, the charming princess Nausicaa washing her clothes and playing ball, and the weeping Penelope.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird. I liked this book. I do not know whether it’s a great book or not, but it is certainly a good one. I recommend this book to older teenagers only. The subject matter for much of the book is somewhat mature and there is one scene in a courtroom in particular where unsuitable matters are discussed.

5. The Midnight Dancers. I really think this the best of Regina Doman’s books. It’s also the most mature in theme. I wonder if she will rise to these heights again. It’s excellent light reading imbued with some interesting philosophical themes on the way. I’m not sure if I wholeheartedly agree with the apparent conclusions drawn, however. My main objection when reading it is that “But not all girls who wear long skirts are forced to do so, neither are they devoid of any spiritual, aesthetic, or intellectual life.” Additionally, I think her rather too bold in her identification of the beautiful with the good. “His way to salvation was through beauty”, etc. Regina Doman being a practicing and orthodox Catholic, I assume she means merely that all beauty points to God as he is all Beauty as well as all Goodness and Truth, but surely it’s a bit risky to talk about beauty in such a way, even if the rest of your book makes it clear what you mean most of the time. Anyways, the truest beauty is Sanctity, a truth that is pointed out in the book, I believe.

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Humour, Music, Parody, Poetry

A Parody Offered for Your Perusal

I bet you can guess which song it is! I did my best to make it singable to the original tune, but you’ll need to ‘tweak’ both the tune and the words (contract “I am” to “I’m” and the like).

I apologize in advance for being linguistically incorrect… I’m quite sure I’ve mixed up all kinds of English, seventeenth century and eighteenth and nineteenth and probably twentieth as well. Also, I don’t know if a lyre was something anyone was likely to have within the past few hundred years, but it rhymed 🙂

My love look’d at me
My face mask’d with smiles
so he doth not see
That which I desire, my plea
Oh that a wedded we should be
I know her passing fair
The lady he speaketh of
Aye hers is everything
That I am doom’d to live without

My love speaks jests to me
I durst laugh, his speech is lovely
My sight is blinded, I cannot see
Anyone, as he is with me
He’s taken o’er with love
He tells me his heart is light
I wonder if he doth know
My thoughts dwell on him each night

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
Thou knows why I do

My love pass’d me by
And I, depriv’d of breathing, sigh
Look, there he doth go, in perfection strides
Would that I matched him in his matchless pride
Would that she lov’d him dear
Her soul be shining clear
Behold his glorious eyes
While I am drench’d in sighs!

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
Thou knows why I do

And I lonely walk home
Silently snuff out the light
Sit and watch, as the fire doth die
My eyes shall not shut tonight

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre 
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
 Thou knows why I do

Oh, the time devoured, but there is too little!
Thou art all my longing, my very soul
My love look’d at me
My face mask’d with smiles so he doth not see

Finis

Highlight the following with your mouse to see, if you can’t figure it out 🙂

Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift
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