About Me

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was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Abuse of Friendship & A Poll

Watch and vote please!

The Most Photogenic
Maria D.

PS - Emma, please don't hit me for anything! I'm on cold medicine! I'm not thinking straight!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jekyll and Hyde

Last weekend, I went to see the Pasadena Theatre Company's production of Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical.

As a whole, the production was largely what viewers might expect from all community theater. Confusing staging, uneven amplification, a mostly computer and synthesizer generated orchestra that overpowered the handful of acoustic instruments, and a vocally uneven cast.

However, the production definitely had some bright moments. John Scheeler and Michele Guyton, Jekyll/Hyde and Lucy respectively, were the two strongest voices in the cast; at the perormance I attended, Ms. Guyton has the distinguished honor of being the only female lead consistently on pitch. The Board of Governors, while a mixed bag vocally, produced a number of laughs.

John Scheeler was fantastic as Jekyll/Hyde, standing out with great distinction when compared to the rest of the cast. Even if the whole production had been a failure, his performance was worth the price of admission. Strong acting, a good voice, and he sure knew how to work his hair for "Confrontation."

Michele Guyton as Lucy was another shining light in an otherwise drab show. Her voice was lovely and a good match of Scheeler's. Her acting wasn't the best, but she portrayed Lucy as a sympathetic character, hard to do when one plays a whore, and there was obvious enthusiasm for her role. She even managed to make the somewhat humdrum song, "New Life" interesting to watch.

Playing Dr. Jekyll's friend, John Utterson, was E. Lee Nicol. It's hard to remember what his singing was like, but he was one of the better actors of the ensemble.

Barbara Hartzell was a disappointing Emma Carew. Her acting was stiff, making the character unlikable, and her operatic singing style was out of place and off pitch, marred by an overly wide vibrato.

The rest of the cast is a mix of vocal and acting quality. My biggest complaint about the show is the staging - particularly the umbrellas in "Murder, Murder." It was awkward and confusing, and came across as a poorly executed rip-off of old Broadway musicals.  Character singing too far upstage, and a silly scene where Hyde pops out of a frightened crowd left me wondering if I should laugh or not. To their credit, the cast did their best with it and seemed to be having fun. In short, for a community theater production, it was pretty good rendition of a show a little beyond their resources..

My rating: 3 out of 5 mushrooms

Jekyll and Hyde is still running this weekend through November 21. Go to the Pasadena Theater Company's website if you're interested in tickets.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Black Bird

This cover should've been my first warning.

I've been seeing this manga, Black Bird by Kanoko Sakurakoji, advertised on the sidebars of a lot of webcomics I read. It was paired with Vampire Knight which I wholly acknowledge is junk, but is fairly well written and plot intensive junk filled with adorabe, emotionally scarred boys whose continued misery fills me with sadistic glee. But I digress.

This was not Vampire Knight by a long shot. It fills me with such annoyance and slight revulsion that I must share before I can forget it. Let's get this review over with.

There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. All that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts--with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves--by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive...and decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.
The Good: ...

The Bad: It's a Japanese version of Twilight, only with different clans of demons instead of vampires and werewolves/shape-shifters/whatever. Y'all know how I feel about Twilight, right?
Nooooo! It burns!
The Gory Details:

1. The main character, Misao, takes a page out of Bella Swan's book with the lack of personality, the waffling about what she wants, and oh yes - the klutziness. Misao is perpetually a victim, the prototypical damsel in distress in need of a strong man to save her. The only thing that makes her remarkable is the deus ex machina of her being the "Bride of Prophecy" which makes her the speshulist snowflake in all the land. Her tasty blood - peaches this time instead of freesia - inspires all the nearby monsters to want to rape and/or kill her. But lo! she's saved time and again by her childhood friend - who's also a demon - who would also like to sex her up and marry her for the good of his demon clan.

2. The love interest, Kyo, is domineering, controlling, bad tempered and manipulative. But he's loved Misao since they were children and he's just looking out for her best interests, so it's okay. Remind you of anyone? I will say that the author has departed from dear Edward's oh so neurotic character by making Kyo a complete pervert who tries to force himself on his true love at every opportunity, whether she's willing or not. Thus, Kyo is like pretty much every male character in popular shojo manga I've ever encountered: a perverted chauvinist asshat determined to sully the virginal heroine (but is really a nice guy underneath, though the closest we ever come to seeing it is his handsome brooding).

3. All this would bother me less if the story were actually good - or at least well presented. The characters are not compelling, utterly unsympathetic, and the story line is as original as bubbly pink haired cat girls. The scenes shift back and forth jarringly, and reading it, I was almost convinced at times that they were mixing up pages from entirely different chapters.

Conclusion: Look, I enjoy the occasional trashy romances as much as the next girl - my admitted love of Vampire Knight should attest to that, as those relationships are dysfunctional to a degree that would make Freud blush. But is it too much to ask that authors of all cultures present their unhealthy romances with some craft and charisma? Maybe a sprinkle of original ideas? Or at least stop ripping off Twilight so obviously? That's all I want from my book-fluff.

Rating: No mushrooms. None. The art might be good enough for 1/2 a mushroom, but I'm feeling unforgiving tonight.

The Enemy of All Romance,
Maria D.

ETA: On the bright side, should this manga is ever be turned into an anime, it'll make a most excellent AMV of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."