Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This girl...

I just can't get enough of Flo.

As in Flo & the Machine.

She's so earnest and whimsical, just look at her website.

My new favorite song:
[Currently on my 47th listen.]

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paon Rouge.

Translation from French: Red Peacock in Red Peacock Designs, with which I have simply fallen in love.

Designer Kristen Gosselin (based right here in Rockford!) uses quirky and ethereal odds and ends to create truly unique jewelry: vintage dominoes, typewriter keys, skeleton keys, pocket watches without innards, and Clue game pieces from the early 90s.

It just so happened that she was working a tent at an art fair right outside the restaurant I work at, and when she came in to buy a key lime bar, I couldn't help exclaiming over the peacock necklace she was wearing. "Thanks! It's a domino," she replied casually. "I made it myself. You want to buy it?"

[I love when the shopping comes to me.]

So naturally I went out to look at the rest of her wares during my break and came across all sorts of wonderful, dreamy treasures, the best of which are pictured below.

Kristen (the sweetheart) even hand-delivered this Ferris wheel vintage domino necklace to my work today after making it special for me. Now that is what I call service!

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Wooden domino inspiration

It instantly reminded me of Carnivale, so naturally I had to have it.

Typewriter key inspiration, the first of which I snatched right up. I'm an English major, I love punctuation!


Skeleton key inspiration


"Miss Peacock in the Billiard Room with the rope."

"Mrs. White in the Hall with the candlestick."

"Mrs. Peacock in the Dining Room with the knife."

"Mr. Green in the Kitchen with the wrench."

Pocket watch inspiration

Mrs. Peacock did it...again.

Melamine domino inspiration

I'll end with a little nostalgia...

Go check out Kristen's stuff! You won't be disappointed.

Below My Feet

Alex posted this new M&S song on my Facebook last week, and since then I've listened to it, but I hadn't really listened to it...if you know what I mean.

The lyrics are sincere and spiritual. I need to be asking God of the same things more often I think.

[I'm emotional tonight.]

Excellent news though; my sister Erika and brother in law Philip are in town for a few days, and we're going to New Glarus, WI tomorrow to go to the brewery! They also get to see the show on Sunday night along with my other sister Alyssa, all of my extended family, and a couple friends from work.

Life is so good, and I'm so blessed.

"You were cold as the blood through your bones
And the light which led us from our chosen homes
Well I was lost

And now I sleep
Sleep the hours and that I don't weep
When all I knew was steeped in blackened holes
I was lost

Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve and hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve and hands to learn

So I was still
I was under your spell
When I was told by Jesus all was well
So all must be well

Just give me time
You know your desires and mine
Wrap my flesh in ivory and in twine
For I must be well

Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
So keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Well keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fincher's Tribute to Larsson

After much perseverance, I have finally finished reading Dostoevsky's The Double and am now very excited to move on to Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I understand that I may be jumping on the bandwagon a tad late, but no matter! I'll very happily move from one psycho thriller to the next.

Here are some promo photos from W Magazine for David Fincher's American film version (Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander). Kinda racey...

Can't wait to start my new read and certainly can't wait to see it on screen. Expected theatrical release December 21, 2011.


I have had the pleasure of performing as Meg Giry in a production of Phantom of the Opera at Rock Valley College's Starlight Theater this summer, and in honor of our second and last run (starting Wednesday, July 6th!), I wanted to blog about some of the intellectual morsels I've discovered in my research concerning the story and its general history.

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"Who is this angel, this angel of music..."

To begin, I'll say that the musical is only a semblance of the book by French author Gaston Leroux. I read the latter during rehearsals, and despite its differences, the novel's sinister ambiance - the rat-strewn cellars of the Paris Opera, mid-19th century - stirred a fearful curiosity I've learned to use in the show.

The novel concentrates much less on the musical's "pre-opera diva" protagonist Christine and much more on the attempts of her wealthy suitor Raul to apprehend the opera's "Phantom," a deformed man named Erik who kidnaps Christine after her first performance as lead. Raul is approached by an ambiguous character called "the Persian" who lives in the bowels of the opera house and associates himself with Erik through their shared time in India, the personal knowledge of whom he knows will help Raul in his efforts to save Christine.

Totally absent from the stage production (and regretfully so, I must say), the Persian offers narrative insight into Erik's troubled past and the malevolent motivation behind his gruesome actions. Entire chapters are devoted to the Persian's accounts, the most important being his explanation of their acquaintance. Erik, commissioned by a czar in India to build an architecturally elaborate palace impenetrable by the czar's enemies, is suspected of potential treason as he is the only person who could navigate an enemy through the palace's many labyrinths. Paranoia causes the czar to want his architect executed, so he employs the Persian to complete the task. However the Persian, similar to the huntsman in Snow White's tale, takes pity on his victim and fakes the execution, exiling him to Paris and thus saving his life.

And here is where the plot of the musical begins. At the beginning of the show, all we know of the deformed Phantom is that he is gifted as both musician and architect and that he has become perversely obsessed with a young opera singer, so much so that he pretends to be the spirit of her deceased father and commits violent crimes to obtain her love. We only see how his physical insecurities and deranged desire for ultimate power over Christine drive him to insanity; nothing is ever said of what he's endured in the past.

To be honest, the book was somewhat dry at times, and the musical is absolutely beautiful and redemptive in its depiction of Christine's forgiving relationship with the Phantom. But I'm grateful to have learned some historical (be it fictional) background into the Phantom's troubled psyche.

I also learned from the novel that the underground labyrinths and lakes of the Paris Opera actually exist! They were built as an anti-irrigation system so that the opera wouldn't flood and were also used as a sort of "underground railroad" during the Revolution.

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"Andre, please don't shout. It's publicity, and the take is vast. Free publicity!"
"But we have no cast..."

My fellow castmates Erin and Megan also contributed to my interest in Phantom trivia. Erin brought a book called The Complete Phantom of the Opera to a rehearsal one night, and I must have spent at least an hour flipping through the history of the tale in all of its forms: literature, film, television, and stage theater. The best part was the book's inclusion of artwork: the early illustrations of Joseph Hope Williams, vintage movie advertisements/photo-clips from different film versions including Rupert Julian's 1925 silent adaptation with Lon Chaney, and Degas-inspired paintings done by Robert Heindel that capture different scenes from the original musical in London.

Joseph Hope Williams

Rupert Julian's 1925 version

Arthur Lubin's 1943 version

"I'm Here, I'm Here, I'm Here"--Robert Heindel

"The End of Innocence"

"Phantom Dancers" [My personal favorite, as my character Meg is one of the ballerinas ;]

"Sarah and Michael, Music of the Night"

"The Phantom, Michael Crawford"

"The Phantom of the Opera"

"The Phantom, Michael Crawford"

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"Why so silent, good messieurs? Did you think that I had left you for good..."

Megan introduced me to the idea that the short story "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allen Poe may very well have inspired the costuming and overall feeling of peril adopted by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the first scene of the musical's second act, "Masquerade."

Here's an excerpt I found especially befitting:

"It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes,

(which embraces three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,)

there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before."

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"God give me courage to show you, you are not alone."

Last but not least, I came across a verse the other day that reminded me of what I believe to be one of the most profound themes belonging to the famed story, regardless of the medium in which it takes form...

Psalm 39:5

"You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath.

Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:

He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

But now, Lord, what do I look for?

My hope is in you."