Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Guinea Pig, the Profanity, and the Phantom

A few months ago, we inherited a guinea pig from neighbors who were moving. Piggy, as we call her (because that's her name), is a good sweet little animal, devoid of malice or higher thought. She has an adorable trilling squeak, which she deploys when it looks like someone is about to put a pile of timothy hay into her cage. We like her and try to keep her as happy as we can, given our ignorance of guinea pig psychology.

However, lately she's gotten talky, and has started gnawing the bars of her cage and fussing. I call it fussing, but that's probably anthropomorphizing the small thing too much. She squeaks louder and faster than normal, is what. Well, I try to take care of the lesser creatures in my charge, so I Googled "Why does my guinea pig cry?" (Yes, I capitalize my Google searches. I also capitalize in texts.) And here's what I found on the first page I consulted:
If shes kept alone shes miserable. Keeping only one guinea pig is cruel and if she is housed alone youve failed as an owner and she has a miserable life. Guinea pigs MUST have a compainion, its obvious you did no research before you got her now. Give her to a responsible guinea pig owner or get another female pig
I... I feel like a single mother asking for pregnancy advice.


So you still haven't listened to Hamilton. I see I'm not working hard enough.  Here, watch the 60 Minutes segments with Lin-Manuel Miranda and catch some glimpses of the show. (Can't do anything about the Viagra ads; must have to do with 60 Minutes' current demographic.) We particularly enjoyed watching the Cast Album video -- people working their magic in a recording studio is like catnip to me.

Videos of Hamilton in performance are rationed out drip by drip, but here's a clip of Aaron Burr, realizing that what he really wants is to have the sort of power that puts him in the room where Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison effect a trade that gives Jefferson and Madison the capitol in D.C. in exchange for Congressional approval for Hamilton's financial systems.

A bit of Daveed Diggs's oily Thomas Jefferson:

Almost every line of the soundtrack is quotable, and we have almost every line memorized, yea, even the kids. Everyone handles lyrics with profanity differently, but here's how it works at our house, with this music: when we can, we hit mute for the most in-your-face instance, and otherwise the understanding is that there are some bad words which I expect never to hear out of the mouths of youngsters, on pain of losing their listening privileges. Darwin and I never use profanity ourselves, both as a stylistic choice and, by now, as second nature, so the kids already know it's not acceptable to drop swear words into a conversation. They handle it like we used to do as kids singing along with the Les Mis soundtrack -- either humming over the word, or skipping it, or changing it ("spit" pretty much always works as a substitute for "shit", contextually). That's how we do it at the Darwin household, for this particular music. Your parenting mileage may vary, and that's fine.


On the night before Darwin came home, the big girls and I had a movie night, and I decided it was time to try another big musical: The Phantom of the Opera. Not the movie version that came out a few years ago, with barely disfigured Gerard Butler singing the Phantom with a serious Scots accent, but the staged 25th anniversary performance in Royal Albert Hall.

Phantom is a show that has its problems -- The Music Of The Night is the world's longest song, for starters -- but the singing and the acting and the production values are top of the line here, and for me that covers a multitude of sins. I cut my musical teeth on the original cast album with Sarah Brightman, but the lovely Sierra Boggess here as Christine is much stronger, and Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom has a blow-you-out-of-the-water voice. And I'm happy to report that Carlotta is most excellently done here, because I always sang Carlotta in our family singalongs. John and Will switched back and forth between the Phantom and Raoul, Elizabeth was the two managers, and Anna, naturally, was Christine. (Nathanael was too young in those days to take a part, and then I went away to college, and sigh.) My dad used to say we were more entertaining than TV.

So: indulge my nostalgia! Go watch some Phantom of the Opera, for old time's sake.


Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife said...

The musical sounds fascinating, but one question: why are the women in underclothes while the men are dressed? Please tell me there is a good theatrical reason and not simply a "sex sells" motive?

MrsDarwin said...

The female leads wear colonial-style dresses (but no colonial-style wigs, thankfully). You can see them in the 60 Minutes segments. The women in the corsets are the dancers, though they also wear red and blue coats if they need to step in as soldiers on either side. The male dancers don't wear corsets, true, but I'm okay with that.

Anonymous said...

Once I heard that Hamilton was available to listen for free with Amazon Prime, I listened. I would never have given listening a second thought, but for your regular promotion of it. My husband has very conservative music tastes, so I have listened when he and the kids are out of the house. Between this being hip-hop, the profanity, and knowing my husband would highly disapprove, I almost feel like I am listening to a musical version of porn. (Not that the content is pornographic, just that I have to be secret and feel naughty because if that, like I imagine some porn users feel.) I am ashamed to say that I like the music a lot, and have now listened more than once. My favorites are the opening song and You'll be Back.

MrsDarwin said...

Anon, I wouldn't want you to violate your conscience on my recommendation! That said, I wouldn't recommend anything I didn't think had objectively good qualities. I don't think hip hop is an inherently degraded form, just as I don't think classical music is objectively better. (There's a lot of schlock pseudo-Mozart and Bach out there.) I also think, as Lin-Manuel Miranda has said in interviews, that this style is well-suited to tell this specific story because of a) the amount of words that hip hop can pack into its musical form vs. just about any other musical style; b) the strongly American feel of hip hop, and c) the parallels it helps draw between the past and the present in the lives and struggles of the characters. I just read Ron Chernow's bio of Hamilton that was the inspiration for Hamilton, and boy, if you think politics is nasty now, we've got nothing on the past!

I did try to watch 1776 once, and fell asleep.

I love the opening song, and My Shot, and You'll Be Back, and Right Hand Man, and History Has Its Eyes On You, and The Battle of Yorktown, and The Room where it Happens, and the Cabinet Duels, and It's Quiet Uptown, and the finale. Among all the others. :)