Saturday, December 25, 2004

Phantasmic Holiday

Okay, I made that word up.
The point is, I recently saw the film version of the "Phantom of the Opera" musical, and though I wasn't going to review it here, an article by a certain ignorant journalist in the local paper angered me into action. Said journalist had never seen the theatrical performance or read the original book, which are not crimes, but turn into such when he blindly critiqued a movie without any sort of background knowledge and graded it a C-.
I can, however, see how the movie might be puzzling to Phantom virgins. The musical is all singing with no dialogue, and the movie follows the musical almost exactly with a couple of spoken lines thrown in here and there. The singing tactic works well in a theatre setting, where the songs draw you down to the stage and into the action, but it seems to distance the audience in a movie theater. More spoken dialogue would have created intimacy, added personality to the characters, and could have been used to provide more background information.
The critic also abused "Phantom" as being a lavish, overblown production. Well, sonny jim, that's how the play is. That's why we like it.
The actress playing Christine (I'm too lazy to look up her name) played an excellent dewy, dreamy innocent. Her soprano was strong and sweet, and though nowhere near as powerful as Sarah B. (the play's original Christine), I liked her voice better (I'm not a big fan of Ms. Brightman, who always sounds like she's trying too hard).
Michael Crawford could have blown this Phantom out of the water singing hogtied with an apple in his mouth, but I think the fellow did a decent job. His voice couldn't compare to the power and sensuality of his predecessor, but ya gotta give him props for a good effort.
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous in every scene, and they used a few really awesome special effects (especially the 'blending' effect in the opening). The outside of the operahouse was all CG, though, and looked rather fake and disproportional. It would have been more at home in "Moulin Rouge."
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I give it a solid B as a film, and based on keeping true to the play, an A-.
So there.

Happy Christmas!

He can molest me any day.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Yarn Connoisseur

When I first started knitting, there was nothing more annoying to me than yarn snobbery. I couldn't stand to hear the 'old folk' bitch and moan about how they could only knit with wool from a bucktoothed Siberian mountain sheep raised in Polynesia and shorn on a moonless night, and hand-dyed by blind eunuch Buddhist scribes in Norway yadda yadda yadda. I swore that I would love all yarns and never discriminate based on fiber content (excluding really, really poorly made crap that breaks when you look at it). At least half of this determination was fueled by my finances, or perhaps I should say the lack thereof. I simply could not afford to buy good yarn for every project, and reckoned that the stuff at the local craft store was fine, as long as it was pretty. If I wanted to be fancy, I went for an acrylic/wool blend (we're talking about 10% wool in most cases). Either way, I would eat my hat before I became such a stuck-up yarn elitist.
But for the past several months I've been working almost exclusively with very nice wool, alpaca, or wool blended with cotton or mohair. And it's spoiled me. The last time I was in a craft store I couldn't help sounding like a baby chick:

I have now, officially, become a yarn snob.
This last month or two, I've been ruthlessly ploughing through my stash and using up or getting rid of old leftover yarn (to make room for more, of course). I made a skinny scarf a couple weeks ago to get rid of some surplus yarn from a Christmas gift I made last year, and the whole time I was knitting, I was cringing, bitching, and moaning. I've only worn it around the house about half a dozen times, and it's already started to get that nasty acrylic fuzz all over it. Definitely not long-lasting material.
Now I can see where those damned yarn snobs were coming from; it's totally worth the extra money you pay for high-quality goods simply for the pleasure of working with, say, lusciously soft baby alpaca. And it's worth that extra twice over when you think about how much the person you're knitting for will (hopefully) love it, and how they'll feel so pampered every time they wear your gift.
Please pass the salt. It might make my hat a bit more palatable.

"Why bother spending time, blood, sweat, tears, and love on a project if you use crappy yarn?"