Tag Archives: Gilbert & Sullivan

repost: review of “Doctor Who and the Pirates” from Big Finish

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Title: Doctor Who and the Pirates

Produced by: Big Finish

Series: Sixth Doctor and Dr. Evelyn Smythe

Summary: Evelyn arrives unexpectedly at the quarters of one of her former students, Sally, and proceeds, with the Doctor’s help, to tell a story of piratical adventure to the protesting Sally.  With each episode, this story takes another unexpected turn.

Unexpected Thing: Since it includes Gilbert and Sullivan music, I was under the impression that the story would be silly and lightweight.  I should have known better, given Big Finish’s other productions.  I can’t blow this for you, but just have some tissues nearby, ok?

Now, this my first Big Finish download, and I’m glad that I started here.  (Don’t worry if the sixth doc wasn’t your cup of tea on tv; he wasn’t mine, either.  He’s good here, and they make fun of his silly coat.)  I’ve been in love with Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas for many years, and the pastiches of their songs are what attacted me to this story in the first place; so, let’s begin with the music…

The compositions here are very, very strong.  Gilbert was a brilliant lyricist, and many writers since have been baffled by trying to update his lyrics.  The production team here did a lovely job within the second and third episodes, with the highlight being Colin Baker’s solo “I am the very model of a Gallafrayian Buccaneer.”  [That one’s getting separated and going with my Chameleon Circuit playlist. 🙂 ]Very clever work, chaps.  The overture (which is actually played at the end) combines the Who theme baseline with several themes and harmonies from a variety of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, including Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.  It’s beautiful and worth the price of the download alone.

Another particular bit of loveliness, given my love for words, is the nature of the meta-narrative (these elements are strongest in the first episode, but resonate throughout).  Evelyn is telling the story, but she keeps getting confused and having to go back and change bits.  In addition, we soon learn that she also is hiding something.

If you don’t wish to know any more, go to the Big Finish site and download it now.  http://www.bigfinish.com/43-Doctor-Who-and-The-Pirates

**** Here there be spoilers****

Soon, the story spirls out of control, as Evelyn gets in too far before realising that she can’t escape the story without finishing it, including the parts she doesn’t want to remember.  Only after listening to the entire story does the subtitle (common in G & S works) carry its meaning and impact : The Lass That Lost a Sailor.

Speaking of Young Jem, Doctor Who as a program is rather known for its high body counts, especially of nameless soldiers, guards, and townsfolk.  Just look at Resurrection of the Daleks, for heaven’s sake!  After a while, as viewers, we come to regard these deaths of nameless guys as blasé.  In this story, though, the author writes a very powerful argument against our callous attitude towards the death of extras and minor characters.  The name games that Evelyn plays with the sailors first establish them as fairly interchangable, but this comes to an unexpected fruition in the deaths as the story continues.  Each murder builds in power, until Jem’s death becomes unbearable.  We don’t even hear/ see it, but Jem’s murder forms the crux of the story and lends it heart-breaking strength.  In fact, the tone change as we approach it provides such glaring contrast to earlier episodes that it reveals them to be Evelyn’s attempts to whistle in the dark.  It also gives us a glimpse, perhaps, why the Doctor gallavants with such jocularity around the universe, even though he carries with him the weight of constant death and evil.

Following up on the lessons we and Sally learn as we hear the story, the Doctor’s final scene alone with Sally provides a capstone to the adventure.  It could very easily have descended to preachiness, but it rather neatly side-steps this.  Instead, it just reinforces what we are all thinking, as we muse with Sally.

Overall– a strong story that unexpectedly stayed with me.  I’d definately recommend it for anyone who likes radio drama, G & S, or the Doctor.

new books

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Ah, once again, ’tis Saturday, and so I have scads of new books from the library. 

 

Big scores today: new Mary Janice Davidson & “The Angel’s Game” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon!

For the rest, come and check out my library bag sidebar links.

(Ah, and for those of you who remember Nickelodeon’s show “Today’s Special,” there is a bonus treat.)

I am the very model of a Gallafrayian Buccaneer…

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Title: Doctor Who and the Pirates

Produced by: Big Finish

Series: Sixth Doctor and Dr. Evelyn Smythe

Summary: Evelyn arrives unexpectedly at the quarters of one of her former students, Sally, and proceeds, with the Doctor’s help, to tell a story of piratical adventure to the protesting Sally.  With each episode, this story takes another unexpected turn.

Unexpected Thing: Since it includes Gilbert and Sullivan music, I was under the impression that the story would be silly and lightweight.  I should have known better, given Big Finish’s other productions.  I can’t blow this for you, but just have some tissues nearby, ok?

  Now, this my first Big Finish download, and I’m glad that I started here.  (Don’t worry if the sixth doc wasn’t your cup of tea on tv; he wasn’t mine, either.  He’s good here, and they make fun of his silly coat.)  I’ve been in love with Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas for many years, and the pastiches of their songs are what attacted me to this story in the first place; so, let’s begin with the music…

The compositions here are very, very strong.  Gilbert was a brilliant lyricist, and many writers since have been baffled by trying to update his lyrics.  The production team here did a lovely job within the second and third episodes, with the highlight being Colin Baker’s solo “I am the very model of a Gallafrayian Buccaneer.”  [That one’s getting separated and going with my Chameleon Circuit playlist. 🙂 ]Very clever work, chaps.  The overture (which is actually played at the end) combines the Who theme baseline with several themes and harmonies from a variety of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, including Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.  It’s beautiful and worth the price of the download alone.

Another particular bit of loveliness, given my love for words, is the nature of the meta-narrative (these elements are strongest in the first episode, but resonate throughout).  Evelyn is telling the story, but she keeps getting confused and having to go back and change bits.  In addition, we soon learn that she also is hiding something.

If you don’t wish to know any more, go to the Big Finish site and download it now.  http://www.bigfinish.com/43-Doctor-Who-and-The-Pirates

**** Here there be spoilers****

Soon, the story spirls out of control, as Evelyn gets in too far before realising that she can’t escape the story without finishing it, including the parts she doesn’t want to remember.  Only after listening to the entire story does the subtitle (common in G & S works) carry its meaning and impact : The Lass That Lost a Sailor.

Speaking of Young Jem, Doctor Who as a program is rather known for its high body counts, especially of nameless soldiers, guards, and townsfolk.  Just look at Resurrection of the Daleks, for heaven’s sake!  After a while, as viewers, we come to regard these deaths of nameless guys as blasé.  In this story, though, the author writes a very powerful argument against our callous attitude towards the death of extras and minor characters.  The name games that Evelyn plays with the sailors first establish them as fairly interchangable, but this comes to an unexpected fruition in the deaths as the story continues.  Each murder builds in power, until Jem’s death becomes unbearable.  We don’t even hear/ see it, but Jem’s murder forms the crux of the story and lends it heart-breaking strength.  In fact, the tone change as we approach it provides such glaring contrast to earlier episodes that it reveals them to be Evelyn’s attempts to whistle in the dark.  It also gives us a glimpse, perhaps, why the Doctor gallavants with such jocularity around the universe, even though he carries with him the weight of constant death and evil.

Following up on the lessons we and Sally learn as we hear the story, the Doctor’s final scene alone with Sally provides a capstone to the adventure.  It could very easily have descended to preachiness, but it rather neatly side-steps this.  Instead, it just reinforces what we are all thinking, as we muse with Sally. 

Overall– a strong story that unexpectedly stayed with me.  I’d definately recommend it for anyone who likes radio drama, G & S, or the Doctor.

are you a literary geek? umm, yes.

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A Literary Geek Meme

Thanks kindly to House of Duck, who let me borrow it.

1) What author do you own the most books by?

Lillian Jackson Braun– well, she did write over 30!  I think I own 8?  A close runner up would be Elizabeth Peters.  I think I have 6 or 7 of hers.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

William Shakespeare’s plays– I’ve got 2 “complete” copies, and several versions of individual plays in paperback

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Yes.  Yes, it does.  I do teach grammar, after all.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Sherlock Holmes– have been since I saw Jeremy Brett playing him; Laurie R. King has just encouraged me

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?

Anne of Green Gables– who wouldn’t want to live on P.E.I and love Gilbert?

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?

Polly from “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew”– go on.  read it and see.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

“The Outlaws of Sherwood” by Robin McKinley– I used to read it every six months when I was in school

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Ohh.. that’s hard.  I started on adult novels pretty early.  I think by ten I was into Agatha Christies’ s “Tuesday Club Murders”

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Wow, hmmm… this is difficult b/c I don’t tend to start books that I’m not already pretty sure I’m going to like.  Maybe “Miracle Myx”? (see my review here)

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

 I think “At Home in Mitford”by Jan Karon– it’s a soft, pastor-in-a-small-town novel.  I laughed, I cried, and I immediately went and read the rest of the series straight through.  Then my dad did as well.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

“Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  It is fabulous, gothic, and about the love of books.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?

JK Rowling. Screw proper “literature” and the snobs.  Anyone who can get my 7th graders to read multiple 400+ page novels deserves this prize in my book!

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

I want to see “The Hobbit” done by the same crew who did such a great job with LotR.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

“The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R. King– one of my favorite books, so I don’t want it spoilt

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Sometimes when my brothers were little and I had to read “Green Eggs and Ham” to them all of the time, I’d find myself reciting it in my sleep.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

The Ranma 1/2 mangas

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

“The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Crime and Punishment” are tied here– I had to make charts half-way through just to keep all of the name changes straight;

however, I think “Ulysses” is going to take the cake, once I have finished it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

A Winter’s Tale

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The French: “they don’t care what they do, actually– as long as they pronounce it properly” 🙂 [hint- quotation from the same source as my blog’s name]

18) Roth or Updike?

Updike– I like his rewrite of the Hamlet story: “Gertrude and Claudius”

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Dave Eggers– who else would have the guts to call his novel/ memoir: “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”?!

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare, any day.

21) Austen or Eliot?

Austen– but I actually prefer the film adaptations on these.  I had a bad experience with “Middlemarch” and haven’t yet forgiven Eliot.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Eliot, Austen, Bronte– that sort of thing.

23) What is your favorite novel?

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

24) Play?

“The Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan– I like musical theatre.

25) Poem?

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

26) Essay?

Mark Twain on the inadequacies of James Fenimore Cooper

27) Short story?

oh, really, any of the Jeeves stories by P. G. Wodehouse

28) Work of non-fiction?

Harold Bloom on Hamlet

29) Who is your favorite writer?

Laurie R. King.  I’ve read, I think, everything she’s written, and they are all exceptional.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Toni Morrison.  I’m sorry, but all of her books are really the same basic characters and themes.

31) What is your desert island book?

“The Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: a five-book trilogy

32) And … what are you reading right now?

I am reading the following. I jump around based on my mood, where the book is in the house, and how much time I’ve got:

“Ulysses” by James Joyce

“Baby, Would I Lie?” by Donald E. Westlake

“A Beautiful Blue Death” by Charles Finch

How did you do?  Are you a literary geek too?  Drop me a comment below. 

pebbles on the page

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Continuing on with my series of foolish comments in the margins (there are intelligent comments as well, I swear!)  here is part 2 of section 3 of Ulysses.  For part 1, click here.

“I could not save her”– survivor’s guilt?

“Here lies poor dogsbody’s body.”– ho ho ho…no

“I am almosting it.”– I like this phrase!

“If I were suddenly naked here as I sit?  I am not.”– I am relieved to hear it.

“His lips lipped”– let lips do what hands do [Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet]

“welcome as the flowers in May.”– The flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la, / Have nothing to do with the case [Gilbert & Sullivan’s Mikado]

“And no more turn aside and brood. / His gaze brooded on his broadtoed boots”– well that didn’t last very long

“Wilde’s love that dare not speak its name”– who’s the friend of Mike Yeats?

“As I am.  As I am.” — I am what I am [Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles]

“Bag of corpsegas sopping in foul brine”– gross!

“Seadeath, mildest of all deaths known to man”– now, I just don’t buy that

“Tuesday will be the longest day” — and April is the cruelest month [T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland]

“the rum tum tiddledy tum”– said Pooh to Piglet

Section 3 part 1 is now up here.  Come and get it! 

Now, all of my fellow Wandering Rocks, let’s hear some of your book graffiti.  I can’t be the only one.

Favorite Quotations

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someone else's collection of crazy ideas...

someone else's collection of crazy ideas...

Since part of my goal here is to enjoy words everywhere that they appear, I’ve decided to share with you some of the quotations that I’ve been gathering over the years.

We’ll begin, as all good things should, with a bit of Latin:

“Ille praeter omnes orbae terrarum mihi angulus ridet” — Horace

[Translated: that corner of the world that delights me above all others.]

“All we ask is life– with a bit of poetry in it.”  — Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance

“There is no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.”  — Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind

“The discovery of a sign of true intellect outside ourselves procures us something of the emotion Robinson Crusoe felt when he saw the imprint of a human foot on the sandy beach of his island.” — Laurie R. King’s  The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

More soon…