Weekly Rundown

Work, work, work. Every day this week was one job or another. But I had some good creative time too.

What I’m reading: Horizon by Barry Lopez. Spoiler: at over five-hundred pages of the main text, I’ll likely not finish this within a week. I hope I do finish it though. My thoughts on this: the cover shows plain-white text of title, author, and one achievement – “National Book Award-winning author of Arctic Dreams.” The cover photo wraps to the spine, and shows blue sea along the lower half, blue sky above. The horizon, a solid white line through the middle – it’s in this line where anything is possible. If, I suppose, you can judge a book by its cover. Lopez is a travel writer, humanitarian, and environmentalist. And everything about the layout of this book makes me want to read it.

What I’m listening to: Hadestown Original Broadway Cast Recording. Hit a deep dive of Andre DeShields for the radio show this week, and revisited this soundtrack. Really a wonderful compilation of music from Anaiis Mitchell.

What I’m watching: The Mandolorian. I was a few weeks late to the game, but I caught up. Good script, solid acting, great effects. A space-Western, reminiscent of Firefly.  The internet went wild for Baby Yoda (who should have a non-Yoda name that, hopefully, will be revealed soon), and I’ll admit it’s a cute critter. Looks like Gizmo from Gremlins though. Behind the mask, Pedro Pascal is doing awesome work. I think I first saw him GoT, but have tried to follow his career since.

Other things I’ve sent to friends this week:

  • Rolling Stone’s profile of Adam Driver. Gearing up for Star Wars Episode IX next week, the interview hints at the character arc for Kylo Ren and gives a revealing look at the actor behind the mask.
  • Another one from Rolling Stone, this one an interview with Rian Johnson regarding Knives Out. Again, loved that movie.
  • From NatGeo, a look at what happens to fresh water when mountain ice doesn’t reform on these water towers.
  • SNOWBALL FIGHT! The John Wick director shot this video with the iPhone 11.

On Aladdin

Saw the new Disney offering on Friday. Aladdin’s live-action film, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith, was received with mixed reviews. Myself? I’ll give it a three-star rating.

The movie musical was strong in cinematic ambience, but musically it felt stunted. I often have problems with movie musicals in contemporary cinema. Classics seemed to fare much better – Singing in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, or Oklahoma, for example.

One musical element of the film I did greatly enjoy was the Bollywood-style choreography in several of the songs. The adaptation gives a more authentic Arabian style, even if it is still lives entirely in the fantasy realm.

Some revisions to the script also gave more body to Aladdin and Jasmine, and both Massoud and Scott performed well. Smith also added flair to the performance, though competing with the voice talents of Robin Williams would be a challenge for just about anyone.

Individual performances varied from meh to good. No character was a breakout, however the cgi-renderings of Abu, Iago, and Raja very nearly stole the show.

Walt Disney Universe?

With Disney’s acquisition of Fox, the Mouse has become the entertainment leader (if it wasn’t already) across multiple channels – theatrics, film, television, broadcast, merchandise, and (of course) theme parks.

Blue Sky, 20th Century Fox, FX, National Geographic, and Fox Searchlight are just some of the assets being brought into the Disney brand. What this will mean for the future of cinema is nothing but conjecture.

However, I’m reminded of the argument that arose with the massive popularity of Disney Theatrics (Disney’s Lion King musical I believe was the first incident) – the Disneyfication of Broadway, where spectacle was more important than theatre.

I’d say that Broadway has always been about spectacle, and it’s not mutually exclusive of theatre. But, we’ll see what happens over the next couple of years.

Halloween, post mortem

As I’ve said before, October tends to be one of my busiest months of the year. I like October. I like Halloween, I like a bit of the season change. And I like keeping busy, finding things to do during that month.

Here around Orlando there’s always plenty to do, and I visited Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, as well as the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Halloween Horror Nights has been an annual tradition of mine for around 20 years – since my mom used to bring me as a child.

I’ve been fascinated by the macabre for as long as I can remember. That equates to reading selections, horror film-watching (everything except torture porn), and delving into mythologies surrounding the frightening mysteries of the world.

That is in part why I like October as much as I do.

Why it’s so busy, though – this year I was wrapping a show, working another, and trying to make my way to HHN (about weekly) to get as much value as I can from my pass. I make myself busy, I’ll admit.

Last year there was a show as well, at least rehearsals for it, and also I was working in Georgia for several weeks. Now, my work is focused mainly on taking meetings and making contacts – so, not as bad on the actual schedule.

This Halloween, I also took a stroll down memory lane, revisiting holiday programs I had watched as a child: Witch’s Night OutThe Halloween That Almost Wasn’tTiny Toons’ Night Ghoullery. Halloween is good for tradition. Making a tradition of decorating, watching scary movies or family frightening entertainment, and giving out candy. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are good holidays for tradition, and the October season starts it.

Thus I keep in the tradition of having a busy October. A slower November. This week I fly down to Costa Rica, so the next update will be from Central America.