Category Archives: Entertainment

Fleeting: Do Disney Villains Kill?

Don’t ask me where this question came from, I suppose it was one of those lingering thoughts that stemmed from a photo:
Comic-Con Disney Villains

Which then inspired a Facebook conversation where someone mentioned that the the hunter in front was the most evil because he was the one that killed Bambi’s mother…

Then a few years later a separate conversation between friends as to which villains have actually killed… which then inspired this post.

So that begs the question…

Which of Disney Villains Kill?
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Fleeting: Preferred Reads

The Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this series, perhaps it was my research with the history of early-19th century England that led me to this world… a kind of extension of the world established by the play “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. Historical romance (of the non-bodice ripping type) at the core, this series aligns fairly closely to historical events that indeed did happen although adjusted here and there for dramatic effect.

The summary of the first book of the series is as such:

Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she’s the one thrown into some stranger’s lap. And she’s had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?

When reading this series there was a distinct sensation that this particular series (of twelve books total) could be separated into three groups:

  • Group 1: Books One thru Four – Wherein the characters and the environment is established creating a foundation for the remainder of the series while providing strong storylines for the characters.
  • Group 2: Books Five thru Nine – The action moves away from England / Ireland and shifts towards other locales, predominantly in France and India.
  • Group 3: Books Ten thru Twelve – Storylines move back to England and loose ends are tied up.

What really drives this series to me is that despite the natural romantic notion of the stories there is still so much more going on beyond the romance that I can’t help but be drawn in. Plus the author makes a point of adding reference notes so that one could read up on the historical texts that she uses when writing her stories, providing insight on why she moved historical events around for dramatic effect or how certain historical events worked in the storyline as a whole.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J R Ward
When I needed a new book series to sink my teeth into, trust a friend of mine to come forward with a couple of series to try out. Best described as a paranormal romance series, this deals with a hidden vampire society set to the backdrop of Caldwell, New York. The first six books of the series focus on The Brothers, a group of six male vampires whose purpose is to protect their vampire society from their enemies and humans.

From the glossary of the Black Dagger Brotherhood website:

Highly-trained vampire warriors who protect their species against the Lessening Society. As a result of selective breeding within the race, Brothers possess immense physical and mental strength as well as rapid healing capabilities. They are not siblings for the most part and are inducted into the Brotherhood upon nomination by the Brothers. Aggressive, self-reliant and secretive by nature, they exist apart from civilians, having little contact with members of the other classes except when they need to feed. They are the subject of legend and the object of reverence within the vampire world.

For more information about the Black Dagger Brotherhood visit the fansite: Beyond the Mhis or read up on the BDB Cheat Sheet via Book Thingo. Both of the fansites are extremely comprehensive and would provide more than enough information in understanding not only the characters in the series but the background and mythology that the series revolves around. Keep in mind that spoilers will be found.

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
Another paranormal romance series it’s set in the 1880s with a steampunk twist. This finite five book series revolve around a strong female heroine in the form of Alexia Tarabotti whose best friend is flaming vampire Lord Akeldama who (somehow) knows everything about everyone and every rumor in London. She is also friends with a very Scottish and gruff Lord Conall Maccon, a werewolf… and yes there is an uneasy peace between the vampire society and the werewolf society in London who has found a way to integrate the paranormal into the “normal”.

What I really love about reading Gail Carriger’s blog is that she goes into more detail about the characters she has created and the world that her characters were immersed in.

My personal opinions and thoughts of the books:
Book 1: Soulless
Book 2: Changeless
Book 3: Blameless
Book 4: Heartless
Book 5: Timeless

The Final Dance aka The Dancers Series by Christie Golden
A currently incomplete fantasy book series that I actually love and enjoy. It is a pity that Luna did not wish to continue this very well written series. It has been a while since I have read the series, only the first two books of the series are in print while the third book of the series is available in e-book format. The final two books in the series have not been released because Luna Publishing chose to discontinue the series.

The Dancers Series revolve around five persons, each one the personification of the five elements: fire, stone, sea, wind and soul. The story goes that The Dancers are given five chances to save the five varying universes from a growing evil. If they fail to save at least three of the five universes then the evil will take over all five universes, else if they were successful in saving at least three of the five universes then the evil will only take over those they fail to save and would leave the others. When the series began they have lost two universes and successfully saved two universes now with the final universe hanging on the balance. After the determination of the finality of each universe The Dancers are reincarnated into the new universe and process begins again…

Fables, Jack of Fables, The Literals and Fairest created by Bill Willingham (via Vertigo)
For anyone that really enjoys fairytales and nursery rhymes and are open minded to the seeing them in a new light would really pick up this series. Taking many of the beloved fairytale characters and re-imaging them while staying true to their roots (roots as in the original Grimm stories and those from Hans Christian Anderson, etc… none of the Disnified versions).

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Being a huge fan of Battle Royale created in Japan, I was skeptical of this series until I came to the conclusion that there is enough basic concepts and ideas that really two totally unrelated series could have similar premises. In some ways a classic rags-to-riches and rebels against the government mentality I did find myself drawn to the series in some capacity.

Written in the voice of 16 years old Katniss Everdeen, the series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the countries of North America was combined to be known as Panem all run by a singular government called: The Capitol. In remembrance of The Capitol’s defeat over the rebellious districts in the last great war, The Capitol holds The Hunger Games, an annual event in which each of the twelve districts were forced to select via a lottery one boy and one girl ages 12 to 18 to compete in a televised battle to the death until one person is alive.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J R R Tolkien
Yes, I know that this is dry read. Yes, I know that this tends to come off more as a reference reading as opposed to a story, but I love it. I have this attraction to series that have such well thought out and deep mythologies where you know there are millions upon millions of stories that are just begging to be written. Tolkien is very much like that, where you know that there are millions of stories just waiting to be revealed. Unfortunately much of those writings are in half works and references and notes as compiled by his son. In fact my favorite book of the collection is from the beginning: The Silmarillion.

Because this is an older series there is naturally a lot of information out there including:
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Lord of the Rings Wikia
The One Ring fansite

Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
The fantasy series that took over the world and got a new generation of kids to read again. The series revolved around a young boy who finds out that he is a wizard and he (as well as the reader) are drawn to the invisible world of magic. There really isn’t much more to say about that, because the world is so vast J K Rowling partnered with Sony to create Pottermore to give lovers of the series a new way to appreciate the series and learn more about the mythology and background. When you are getting sorted by the Sorting Hat if you’re not sorted into Gryffindor you learn more about the history of whichever house you happen to find yourself in. Unfortunately I didn’t get such luck as I was sorted into Gryffindor which I found rather odd all things considered, but what can you do?

Jane Austen related fiction
With all the fantasy and science fiction series that I seem to follow this author and her stories could actually be an outlier of sorts. However, I remember when I read Sense & Sensibility for the first time and fell in love, somehow the heroes were too good to be true and they still are. With fansites with constant discussions and articles about anything and everything to deal with the life of Jane Austen and her works called Pemberley (yes, based off of the family home of Mr Darcy from Pride & Prejudice) and quite aptly Jane Austen’s World.

Over the years there have been many books that attempt to build off of the original works or re-imagine them into the modern age, many of these writers of the former are known as the Crown Hill Writers. There are others still that rewrote the books into the point-of-view of the heroes of the series, one of the most popular being the Heroes of Jane Austen’s Diaries by Amanda Grange

One book series that I rather enjoy is the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery Series by Carrie Bebris. This should come as no surprise since I enjoy a fantasy series… so a mystery series wouldn’t be that far off the mark.

Of course, like any other well known author, there is a website dedicated to anything and everything dealing with Jane Austen known as the AustenBlog: There’s No Crying in Janeball. But if you are a Janeite you best head on over to the Jane Austen Society of North America and peruse around and consider joining up the group to understand more of the life and stories of Jane Austen.

Fleeting: Harry Potter Fanfiction

Recently I found myself going down a Harry Potter rabbit hole… don’t ask me why, it just happened.

The problem with fanfiction and me is that I prefer fanfiction that sticks with what is canon (aka nothing from the original material has changed) and yet it expands from the already established world from the original author.

As thus I have found that I cannot seem to enjoy most Harry Potter related fanfiction because so much that is out there changes the canon plot points that I find are crucial to the over all story and when those changes occur I become quite twitchy. Ah well. There is nothing wrong with the majority of fanfiction out there, that is why it is called “fanfiction”… the above is just a personal preference.

So when I came across the following stories, I found myself drawn to them because they introduce plot elements that makes sense when placed in-line with the original material, and yet diverges so that the author could really find their own footing and create a seamless story of their own.

Songs of Regret” by RavieSnake
The Teddy Lupin Series” by FernWithy
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The Floating Around “Theatre Survey”

So because I prefer this type of thing on a blog post or as a Facebook note as opposed to via a status message… Here ya go!

Last show added to your resume:
As director or actor? “Into the Woods” (actor)

Last show you auditioned for: “Lucky Stiff”

Did You Get It? Nope

Last Song You Sang at an Audition:
For “Lucky Stiff” it was excerpts from the show. So I sang “Rita’s Confession” and “Nice”. However in terms of song that I chose traditionally “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” or more recently “My Strongest Suit”

Favorite Musical:
That I have been in?
– “City of Angels” for the concept.
– “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” for the group.

Greatest musical?
Those that have already been on Broadway / Off-Broadway… I always seem to go back to “Children of Eden” and “Jane Eyre”.

Those that have yet to make their Broadway Premieres include
– “Sense & Sensibility“: Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton
– “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice“: Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs

Favorite Plays:
That I have been in?
– Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”
– “Piece of My Heart”

For musicals: I do not eat or drink anything outside of water at least five hours prior to curtain up.
For plays: I do not eat or drink anything hot or dairy-related

Your Goal in Show Business: To enjoy every moment of the process either on stage or behind the scenes.

Favorite Director: Uh… none at the moment.

What Was Your First Show? Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. I kid you not, I don’t recommend Shakespeare as anyone’s first audition let alone first show unless you really like the challenge.

Have you ever taken the last bow? Nope.

Ever Had A Dance Solo? Nope.

Ever Had A Singing Solo? Yes.

Ever Been to New York? Yes.

Ever Been To L.A.? Yes.

What’s the Scariest Part of the Audition? Vocal auditions… I get so nervous that I bomb them rather consistently, really is a bane on my self confidence in that arena.

What’s the Best Part of the Audition? If I ever get myself relaxed enough it is singing well for myself to know that I have legitimately put my best foot forward.

Name A Show You Would Never Do Again: “Piece of My Heart”. Though technically never is an absolute and perhaps with the right group of people I would consider it. However the show was so emotionally draining for me the first time that to be lured into doing it again would have to require a lot of coaxing.

Name A Show You Could Do For Years: I plead the fifth.

What ARE you Auditioning for NEXT?
– Most likely: “The Last Five Years”, “The 39 Steps”
– Maybe: “Secret Garden”, “Spam-a-lot”

Do You Keep In TOUCH with past Cast Members? On occasion.

On A Scale of 1-10, How Important is Getting Paid? -5: I enjoy this realm enough to visit every now and then, but to be a part of it as a full time thing? I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Ever Been Naked on Stage? Does topless for rehearsals count since the show itself was first postponed then cancelled?

Have You Ever Been Killed? Yes.

Been Drunk?
In character? Yes.
Performed under the influence? Nope.

Cried? Yes.

Fired A Gun? Been fired at…

Been Drenched? Nope.

Been in a Dream Sequence? Does one of those “imagine this” sequences a la “City of Angels” count?

Been Kissed? Nope. Something about being cast as the bitch more often than not… tends to be a turn off with the leading man.

Reflection: NBC’s The Sing-Off Season 4

So I totally mis-understood the televised schedule for this little gem and decided that since it is already a few weeks after the “finale”, I am probably better off just posting my thoughts about NBC’s The Sing-Off on my personal blog as opposed as on the blog… at least until I get my life back to relative normal instead of burned-out.

In case you don’t know, NBC’s The Sing-Off:

[…] showcases the country’s top a cappella groups performing popular songs in ways that viewers have never heard before. “The Sing-Off” has no lip-syching, backup bands or safety net.

Granted even though the series has been on hiatus for over a year, it was nice to see this back on the airwaves. However, one cannot help but wonder if this was because of the slowly growing success of Season Three’s winner Pentatonix?

And if you have been living under a rock for the past year… here is Pentatonix’s Evolution of Beyonce:

The fourth season of “The Sing-Off” showcased ten a cappella groups over seven weeks of singing, competing for a recording contract and $100,000…

So who won?

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Fleeting: I love Surprises, as Long as I’m not the Receiver

Odd isn’t it? I love giving surprises to other people but I really can’t stand surprises myself.

So what brought this on? Well recently a small group of friends and I put our heads together to plan out a surprise party for another friend who needed a bit of a boost.

Without going into details said friend had gone through a difficult time in their life and is slowly going into an upswing. We wanted to give said friend an additional boost in this upswing in hopes that he didn’t lose the momentum prior to this difficult time.

They were surprised, happy, and humbled (their words all changed around) with what was given to them and it gave all involved a warm, fuzzy feeling inside to know that we have done a good deed…

But naturally I started thinking: “If someone were to throw me a surprise party of some sort how would I react?”

Every time I asked myself this question I always come up with the same answer:

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Fleeting: Miss Saigon Characters (Wish List: Round Two)

Last month, I started a character breakdown of potential major roles in a possible Miss Saigon adaptation of the musical for film and started with the non-Vietnamese characters and even included “The Engineer” into the round up.

Next up we have the Vietnamese characters which includes Kim, Thuy, and the callgirls from Dreamland… so let’s start with the elephant in the room: Kim.

Oh… and as a fair warning… I am going to be on a major soap box when it comes to Kim. So please just bear with me and humor me while reading this…

As mentioned in my original Miss Saigon Wish List, I will (personally) only be content with the casting of Kim iff (if and only if):

[…] The future production team of the Miss Saigon film takes a page from the Memoirs of a Geisha film production […] Although there is a lot of hype surrounding Jessica Sanchez and she has the blessing of Lea Salonga it will not work if the characters that are suppose to be Vietnamese natives are speaking near-perfect English.

How is that not appropriate? Well according to Kim herself:

I’m seventeen, and I’m new here today
The village I come from seems so far away

Not only that but when “The Engineer” introduces Kim to the other callgirls he also mentions:

I found this new girl, get her dressed
From the country untouched

She is fresh from the country where (for anyone that has ever been to Việt Nam) chances are high that her English is not only weak, but her accent is very strong. Granted… if EVERYONE in the film was one nationality (like how everyone in Les Miserables was French) I wouldn’t be jumping off the deep end with everybody have to have an accent or weak English… because everyone is from the same cultural background… in this case, we have two very different cultures colliding. What works for the stage isn’t going to work for film from my vantage point.

So what would I consider to be the most appropriate? Looking back at my original post:

A Vietnamese American, perhaps someone along the lines of Jacqueline Nguyen the believed first Vietnamese-American to ever play the role of Kim in Miss Saigon. If a touring production was able to find Jacqueline Nguyen there must be someone comparable or better if the net was tossed wide enough.

There are major Vietnamese communities in Chicago, Orange County (there is after a several block radius also know as “Little Saigon” there), and Texas. Tap into those areas… you’d be surprised with the results. Granted, considering that Memoirs of a Geisha did not cast the lead with a Japanese actress they did have a point as to why:

A director is only interested in casting someone he believes is appropriate for a role. For instance, my character had to go from age 15 to 35; she had to be able to dance, and she had to be able to act, so he needed someone who could do all that. I also think that regardless of whether someone is Japanese or Chinese or Korean, we all would have had to learn what it is to be a geisha, because almost nobody today knows what that means–not even the Japanese actors on the film.

Anyway… I’m getting off my soapbox.

He eventually becomes part of the Việt Minh, which would mean that his English could be pretty poor. Also he is most likely a Vietnamese national… not only that but according to the lyrics:

[…] We were promised at thirteen
The woman I’ve become is not the same

That promise made by your father I will claim when we win
To break a vow of your parents is worse than a sin

My parents got themselves killed in the week you changed side
If there were promises all of them died when they died

Typically country folk arrange marriages with their neighbors… and taking a similar approach as with Kim above there really isn’t much question as to how Thuy should be cast. Anyway… I am not touching that soap box.

CALLGIRLS: Gigi, Mimi, Yvette, Yvonne
How much do you guys want to bet that the callgirls’ names are no where near what their real names probably are? In any case there is a lot of flexibility that can happen with casting here. Yvette and Yvonne are French in original so they could be closer to “The Engineer” in the sense that they look Eurasian.

They all appear to have been part of Dreamland for quite some time, so their “mastery” of the English language is stronger than that of Kim’s or Thuy’s. However, their accents still need to be rather strong… though one could get away with them having a weaker accent than that of Kim’s and Thuy’s. It might even been their worthwhile to have Yvette and/or Yvonne to have more of a French accent since there were schools throughout Việt Nam where French was the primary language (how do I know this? I have family members whose primary education were in a French primary school… so don’t rail at me. :D).

Then again there isn’t much that we know of the callgirls of Dreamland, except for “The Movie in Their Minds” as it were, this could be rectified in the film with a couple of additional songs, or a reworking of the script / book… but really as long as they stay true to what I mentioned with Kim above and apply it to the callgirls (with a little more flexibility thrown in) it will be ok… for the most part.

So this is round two of the Miss Saigon Character Wish List… which all the main characters / players already mentions what’s left? Well I am sure you guys are curious as to what other parts could be available for the taking? In Miss Saigon Characters (Wish List: Round Three), I will personally take the time to look through the scripts I have on hand and point out cameos that are worth a look-see.

Until then…