Bill and Ted Face the Music
In preparation for my first viewing, I decided to have a trilogy party. Watching the first two films brought back lots of good memories, and I surprised myself with how much of the dialogue I actually remembered. I found myself laughing at all the great aspects from the first two films: phrases like most non-triumphant, the circular logic Bill and Ted used to decide what to do next, the conversations they had with future/past versions of themselves, the games they played as they fell down the seemingly endlessly deep hole to Hell, how Missy went from dad to dad, and of course the Grim Reaper. Death has to be one of the best comic characters ever.
So I was happy to see Death make a come back in the third film. And he’s still one of the best characters ever! Of course that means Bill and Ted go back to Hell. How else can Death come back into the story? That scene with Bill and Ted asking directions from the two goblins is just priceless. “Yeah, that’s a robot in Hell.” And speaking of robots, the robot in this film is awesome. I love how his name is Dennis, named after the ex of Rufus’s daughter! Brilliant!
While we’re on the subject of robots, what happened to the Good Robot Usses? I mean, they didn’t have to have every character from the previous films in this last one, and I’m not missing Station and his totally huge Martian butt, but what happened to Station’s creation? Did they not survive the 25 years between the second and third films? And what does that say about Station’s place the universe’s greatest scientist?
And what happened to showing the prolonged drop into Hell? That was one of the funnier parts from the second film. I was disappointed to see it cut out of the third, especially given how the film shows the daughters mimicking their fathers with how they speak to each other. Speaking of which, I just couldn’t get into how the daughters kept calling each other “Dude.” I just couldn’t get into that.
Is Amazon desperate?
I was surprised to get a letter from Amazon today. Yes, that’s right. Amazon sent me snail mail. Naturally I was curious, although I suspected it to be some sort of marketing ploy. But I wasn’t entirely sure about that. Why wouldn’t they just send something like that with email? Wouldn’t that be more environmentally friendly not to mention more cost friendly? Then again, I thought that maybe they were going the snail mail route because the message would stand out more. How many emails does the average person get? Many of them are marketing emails from businesses looking ot generate sales, and people get so many of them (I know I do) that they all just become noise. Sending the message by another way increases the likelihood it will be seen as signal rather than noise.
What I didn’t expect to see was what now looks like an act of desperation. Apparently Amazon monitors the accounts of their customers to see what they are and are not using, and if there is something that bodes poorly in their estimation, they take action to nudge the customer back “in line” with their desire. Of course, all of this is automated. I’m sure they have some AI algorithm identifying the “out of line” customers and then sending out a form letter like the one I received. What I find really interesting is the role their streaming service appears to be playing in their revenue model. They wouldn’t be nudging me in this direction if it didn’t matter to the bottom line.
Of course, as the letter I received shows, I haven’t been using their streaming service, and I don’t plan on it. As I posted earlier, I’ve been reading more from my library. I’ve also ordered some new DVDs from a different site to have an occasional movie night. I wasn’t expecting them for another couple of days (learning the package would take about a week to get here didn’t bother me in the least), but the package actually arrived yesterday. So this letter I received from Amazon doesn’t change what I was going to do in the least. But I do find it interesting. And I wonder what would happen if millions or even just hundreds of thousands of other people would take the same action I took. What would Amazon’s response be? Would we see them in desperation?
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Last night I took my nephew and my sister to see the Idaho Musical Production of Schoolhouse Rock Live!
I have to start by reminding myself that I'm no longer living in Seattle. I saw Wicked there at the Paramount, and it was an awesome show. What I saw last night was staged in a charter school in Caldwell, Idaho. So I have to keep telling myself that I shouldn't have the same expectations. Actually, I believe that people should be excellent wherever they are, but I'll save that discussion for later.
That being said, I found the overall experience enjoyable. There were some noisy teenagers sitting right behind us that insisted on holding conversation during the performance. I'm not sure how best to approach the decline in etiquette I am witnessing in society, but it is a question that will not leave me alone.
The play didn’t have much of a storyline. It was constructed simply as an excuse to perform Schoolhouse Rock songs on stage. Normally I would find that unforgivable. In this case I have so many fond memories of eagerly anticipating and then enjoying my childhood Saturday morning ritual that I find myself overlooking a very glaring defect.
Apparently most of the audience had similar memories. I estimated about 100 people in the makeshift auditorium, possibly 120 but certainly not much more than that. And no more than 10, including my nephew, were children. Such a low percentage of children in the audience surprised me, especially considering that the musical revolved around songs for children. But it was also a Thursday showing, which means getting up early the next morning for the regular school/work routine. That may have had something to do with it.
And yes, the auditorium was very makeshift. The stage entrance was simply a rectangular opening at the end of a gymnasium with a slanted roof of corrugated sheet metal. Two portable loudspeakers sat at each side of the stage.
The acoustics were therefore awful, which may explain why some of the sound was not quite right. A live band provided the music, and that helped a bit. But some of the voices on stage just didn't sound right. Wendy Inman's voice appeared better suited to the opera than the musical stage. And Tristan Fishman, I'm sorry but your tenor just doesn't suit the likes of "Conjunction Junction". Maybe I've just heard the original too much, but it just doesn't sound right without a deep baritone voice delivering the lines. And that's sad considering Tristan's acting was among the better of the group.
Other voices were incredible, which is really saying something in light of the bad acoustics. Of particular note are Mary-Michael LeClaire and Tamara Hess. Mary-Michael seemed a little stiff in her performances, but I simply ascribed that to nervousness. Her voice during “A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing” was incredible. If she could bring her composure on stage up to par with her voice she would be amazing. Tamara on the other hand seemed more comfortable on stage. And her rendition of “Unpack Your Adjectives” was better than the original.
Christopher Purdy, who played the lead role of Tom, was also excellent. I loved his rendition of "The Tale of Mr. Morton" at the end. The song was crafted when Schoolhouse Rock experienced a rebirth, and it has always been one of my favorites. He did a really good job with that.
There wasn't much to the stage, but given that the whole affair was little more than an excuse to sing favorite childhood songs, there didn't need to be. I did enjoy the costumes, especially the animal masks that the children wore while the group sang "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla". They were awesome. And the child playing Interplanet Janet, whoever she was, did a really good job.
Again, it's not the Paramount in Seattle, and there is no real storyline that demands a suspension of disbelief. But if you love the songs or have fond memories of watching Schoolhouse Rock as a child, then this show will provide you with a satisfactory evening. It did for me and my company.
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