Good morning everyone. Toni Griffin here for another version of Stuff We Like. I know my post probably isn't going to be popular with my American friends, but I'm going to post it anyway. *Chuckles*
I love the weather at this time of year. Here in Darwin, Australia we don't get four seasons like most of the rest of the world. We have to satisfy ourselves with only two. The Wet Season and the Dry Season. The dry runs from April/May through to Oct/Nov and the Wet season the opposite.
The Dry season brings with it very little rain and lovely cooler temperatures. (Well, that's the way it's supposed to work. The weather doesn't always cooperate.)
The Wet season on the other hand brings with it rain, monsoonal showers, occasionally cyclones and sometimes cooler weather. It also brings with it massive spikes in humidity on the days it doesn't actually rain. (But I'm going to ignore that fact for this post.)
I love the rain. The electrical storms we can get here are truly spectacular. Unfortunately I'm not that great of a photographer to catch any of those, so you'll have to make do with the other pics that I have.
Today it's currently 26C and we're expecting thunderstorms later this afternoon. Bring it on!
This is what our radar looks like during a couple of our massive storms.
Hello Everyone! And welcome to another 'Stuff We Like'. Today features the one, the only, Freddy MacKay. How could it not? Today, of all days, is National Squirrel Appreciation Day after all.
Yes. *laughs heartedly* Today is my day. I am fabulous, so I should have a day dedicated to myself.
See? Aren't I a gorgeous squirrel? Catherine got my likeness down pat, dontcha think? *struts*
Squirrels are fantastic creatures to study, emulate, worship as the gods we are.
Thanks to us, trees grow everywhere. Our nuts sprout through the evil concrete and pavement laid down by silly humans, standing proud and tall, giving us food and shelter, clean air to breathe. That's more than the humans do for us. Sometimes we have to dig beneath their unnatural dwellings to get our nuts back because without the trees, the earth's beauty diminishes. Plus then we don't have anywhere to pack our hoard of nuts. Do you realize how cold it gets? Those papers and clothes you leave out do make for excellent nests. Thank you for that.
But despite the handicap humans carry with them, not understanding the earth of the trees, we squirrels do our part to help train you. We run out into the road, readying your reflexes, testing your alertness. We all need to be prepared to outrun those small little pink things that run after you screaming. (Those white clothe thingys attached to them smell, you mind fixing that, yeah?)
We also work on that empathy humans struggle with. You are learning slowly. The offerings you put out for us when the snow falls is appreciated. Why you put our food in those horrid little boxes the birds steal from is beyond us, but it makes for good exercise and skill building-the better to learn roof jumping with. Your eves make fabulous party spots.
A little small for humans, though.
Maybe if you let us when we stop by and knock, we could get to know each other better. Next time. Next time. Oh, and we'd appreciate it if the dog was leashed up, their mouths are particularly big and teethy. They also seem to think they're superior since you pick up their dropping for them (how embarrassing they don't know how to potty correctly, no?)
So yes, today we should be celebrated for all our gloriousness, for you puny humans would be nothing without us. You would not know the glory of nuts and how good they feel when you get them in your mouth, and you wouldn't have those fabulous hand-eye reflexes needed for survival. Someone had to teach you, and we squirrels have taken it upon ourselves to make sure you grow up proper in the world.
You can leave the nuts in the basket.
Angel's back with us this week with...musical theater? Really, Angel?
Hi everyone! *scuffs toe in carpet with a small, sullen glare* Yes. Musical theater. I know a lot of people think of musicals as hokey, "let's put on a show!" stuff, but in my defense, I grew up on musicals. Some of them are hokey. Not going to argue. But some of them are engaging, exciting, heart-rending. There are musicals that give you nightmares and there are those where the music itself is the star, achingly beautiful.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting beside the stereo cabinet, listening to my parents' records of musicals. Yes. Records. They were these circular, lacquered...oh never mind. Now, of course, I recognize how flawed many of these works were. Racist, many of them. Imperialist. But simply listening to the music without context or images was wonderful and imagination firing.
Hearing them that way was probably a good thing in a lot of cases. Kismet was one of my favorite albums. The lyrics were so clever, the music so exhilarating. ("Our princes more aristocratic here/ Our beggars more distinctly aromatic here" - good stuff.) When I finally watched the movie production, I was so disappointed. The plot was vapid. The ending absurd even for a comedy. I've never watched it again, but the music has stayed with me.
Some musicals have more compelling story lines, of course, and hold up better in actual production. I love West Side Story, both on stage and the one film version that was produced (even if Natalie Wood was lip synching - lovely production.) And this was a story about racism and prejudice, that took it on at a time when no one talked about it. The amazing Leonard Bernstein score is more than mere musical, this is art. West Side Story was also my first introduction to Stephen Sondheim (lyrics/ libretto were his - a lot of folks forget that.)
You know it's going to end badly, since you know it's based on Romeo and Juliet. People die in this musical. And still one hopes. And still, after all these years, my eyes tear up when I hear "There's a place for us/ Somewhere a place for us..." The longing, the anguish in those lyrics is universal and timeless. It's also one of the best musicals for balletic choreography - as illustrated in the pic above. The energy and excitement of these songs lend themselves to a number of spectacular dance interludes.
I'm not quite as enamored with the modern musical. Andrew Lloyd Weber is...not my favorite person. Though I did enjoy a recent university production of Phantom. Fun to see what the kids did with it. And certain other musicals, even if they're trying for an important message, often have a feeling of trying too hard. Songs that just aren't that musically interesting. Which was why I brought up Sondheim.
An innovator and, by now, a pillar of musical theater, Stephen Sondheim can be a bit much. Sometimes his music drags. Sometimes he's just dreary. But he is responsible for some of the most daring and different productions in the last thirty years. Which brings me to one of my favorite musicals, Sweeney Todd. Not a dance kind of musical, though there is choreography of a different sort, this is musical horror, not something you often see. Drama-heavy, yes, and fantastical, but the music drives it, dark and haunting and at times soul searing. A musical for black moments, for dark reflection, where every character is shown under a stark bare bulb, their obsessions exposed for us to see. I love this stuff. It gives me shivers and I watch wide-eyed and a little traumatized. Jekyll and Hyde, by Frank Wildhorn, doesn't quite reach that level of dramatic fear, but it has some really good shivery moments, too.
So, yes. Musicals. They're not all the same and there's something for everyone ;) Stop it. I am not a geek. Oh, wait...