Chicago: A Review Saturday, Sep 27 2008 

Yesterday, PJ and I went to see Chicago, which came to Athens as part of the university’s performing arts series. Here’s a Youtube clip from when the Broadway production visited The Early Show. The touring company we saw was, of course, based on this production.

Until yesterday, almost my entire knowledge of this musical was from the 2002 movie version starring Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-JonesJohn C. Reilly, and Queen Latifah. The only other thing I knew about the show was that Bebe Neuwirth had starred in it (and won a Tony) in the mid-90s. Here’s a clip of her as Velma Kelly performing during the Tony Award show:

I really only have two responses to the touring company version of the musical. On the one hand, this production suffers from the slightness of the musical’s book and the limits of being a touring company. But on the other hand, I finally learned why God created tight, low-rise pants for men!

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Hottie of the Month: Thomas Holcroft Monday, Sep 22 2008 

A couple of my friends have urged me to bring back the hottie of the month feature, which was my rather tongue-in-cheek discussion of eighteenth-century writers. The feature tended to focus on someone I was teaching or writing about. Past hotties included Henry Fielding, Richard Cumberland, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Phillis Wheatley, and William Beckford.

In order to appease the overwhelming clamor for eighteenth-century hotties, I have decided to re-institute this monthly column starting with this month’s hottie … Thomas Holcroft.

The son of a cobbler, Holcroft was born in London on December 10, 1745. He worked at a number of jobs before becoming a travelling actor. After settling in London, Holcroft began writing novels, poetry, and plays. His initial works were not well received, but the years between 1782 and 1794 were generally successful and culminated in the production of three of his most significant works: two novels, Anna St. Ives (1792) and The Adventures of Hugh Trevor (1794), and his most successful play, The Road to Ruin (1792).

1794, however, changed his career forever. Holcroft had become a champion of radical thinking and was widely associated with political reform movements. He and three others were arrested and charged with treason for his membership in the Society for Constitutional Information. When two of his associates were tried and acquitted, Holcroft was released without a trial and thus without a public forum to defend himself. We was thus known as an “acquitted felon,” in the words of William Windham, the War Secretary. This reputation hurt his standing with London audiences and his subsequent works did not receive their support.

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What I’m Listening to: Laura Marling Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

One of the features of iTunes that I like the most is the ability to surf through and see recommendations for artists that are similar to ones I purchase and/or already like. Last week while doing just that, I discovered Laura Marling‘s music. The following two songs are now stuck in my head — I can’t stop them from playing over and over and over again ….

Marling is an 18-year-old English folk-pop singer. This means that she’s another of the British musicians that I’ve recently come to love — I’m starting to wonder if I listen to anything besides British singers! (When I first asked myself that, the first thing that came to mind is that I’ve recently started listening to Annie Lennox’s last CD again, but she obviously doesn’t count since she’s Scottish. Oh well. I guess that just leaves Bishop Allen.)

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Fögi Is a Bastard: A Review Saturday, Sep 13 2008 

Last night, PJ and I watched Fögi Is a Bastard, a 1999 French movie about a 15-year-old boy named Beni who meets and falls in love with Fögi, the lead singer of a rock band. Here’s the trailer:

The movie stars Vincent Branchet as Beni, who starts the movie as a shy, innocent kid who simply has a crush on his idol. Once Fögi, played by Frédéric Andrau, seduces him, however, the two begin a downward spiral of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll that may ultimately cost them their lives. (Does that sound like it comes from the back-of-the-dvd?)

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Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous Wednesday, Sep 10 2008 

Today I went to see my doctor for my annual physical. I think this best sums up how I feel about it:

Not that I look anything like Rusty Joiner or Rupaul, but my doctor was so pleased with my progress this past year that I can’t help but feel great!

First and foremost, my cholesterol has improved. While the overall number is still a little high, my “good” cholesterol has improved significantly–11 points over the past year–so much so that it kind of shocked my doctor. I had to remind him that I’ve been working out pretty hard with my trainer for most of the year, which he said is the reason for the improved number. My “bad” cholesterol has also improved, though not as dramatically. It went down 8 points.

I’ve also been eating much better this year, especially since becoming a vegetarian, but I definitely need to keep an eye on it still. I’m a little too fond of carbs. I’m also a little too prone to fried foods. Even so, I’ve lost 13 pounds since I saw him (and about 15 all together since I started working out, which is the equivalent of 2 pant sizes).

My doctor wants me to keep up the exercise, especially weight training to build more muscle. He said that the muscle will help keep my blood sugar levels under control. (I have “impaired fasting glucose.”) He also suggested that I go from working out about twice a week to at least three times, but we’ll have to see about that. I”m not sure I’m going to have time for that.

So, while I’m not a male supermodel with six-pack abs or a fierce drag queen in stilettos, I’m doing better than I was a year ago. And I feel gorgeous!

True Blood Sunday, Sep 7 2008 

Tonight I watched the first episode of HBO’s True Blood, a vampire series starring Anna Paquin as a waitress in a small Louisiana town who meets and becomes enamored with a vampire, Bill, played by Stephen Moyer. Here’s the trailer:

Based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, True Blood imagines that vampires have “come out of the coffin” and live among us. This has been made possible by the invention of a blood substitute, Tru Blood, which has rendered vampires’ need for human blood obsolete. I’ve never heard of, much less read, the novels upon which this series is based, but I like vampire series in general, so I thought I’d give it a look.

Overall, I like this first episode. It’s not great or anything close to great. It’s derivative. And many of the characters seem like caricatures rather than developed entities. But even so, I enjoyed this first episode. It seems to have promise as an enjoyable bit of fluff.

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