Monday, January 26, 2009

The Ghost Torturer

I allowed myself a delightfully lazy weekend when either the mountain cedar pollen levels or yet another drastic weather change (or maybe both) gave me a bad case of sniffles. I retreated under a blanket with a pot of tea, some books, a bottle of Benadryl and the TV remote. It must have worked because I feel a lot more awake and alert today than I have in ages. I even got up reasonably early, early enough to have a phone chat with Mom and to go drop off my recycling and do my grocery shopping.

I managed to finally finish my Harry Potter re-read. It took me almost a month, though I'd been waiting for appropriate reading conditions to finish the final book. I'll be posting my thoughts on that later this week. Meanwhile, I started reading the books I'm judging for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award.

Note to people trying to write anything that's supposedly romantic: It really, really helps if I can figure out why these people like each other, beyond just the fact that they're hot and they stir each other in a way they've never felt before. All the hot sex in the world doesn't come across as romantic if there's not also some affection and if I don't get the sense that these people actually enjoy being around each other when they're not in bed.

Or maybe I'm out of touch with the genre, since I don't think I've read a genre romance that was published in the last twenty years in at least two years. I'm spoiled by fantasy or mystery with a romantic subplot and by Georgette Heyer.

Stan the 80s Bachelor Airline Pilot Ghost had a busy weekend. First on Saturday afternoon he managed to cause a big ruckus. I was upstairs in the office on the phone with Mom when there was such a loud clatter from downstairs that Mom heard it and suggested I go check to see what it was. I walked through the whole house several times before I realized that one of the things stuck in my kitchen tools jar on the counter had apparently shifted, which knocked the top off the hot-air popcorn popper, which knocked something else over. I'm not sure how/why the initial thing moved to set off the chain reaction, and the noise seemed louder than you'd expect from those few things. So, I blamed Stan.

And then that night, I finally found my Songs for a New World CD. It's been missing for more than a year, which hadn't been a problem when I had my old car because I mostly listened to it in the car, and I'd taped it to play on the car's tape player. But the new car only has a CD player, so I'd really been missing it. Last night, I had this odd burst of insight, reached behind some books on the bookcase behind my desk, and there it was. The odd thing is, I had searched that bookcase when I was looking for it. I guess Stan got tired of it and brought it back, or else he decided it was the lesser of many evils with all the bad show tunes he's been subjected to lately.

You see, I discovered quite accidentally that I now get the digital music channels on my cable service. I know I didn't have them before, but now they're suddenly there. My cable company is really bad about letting their customers know when they're getting cool new stuff. I only found the music channels because I thought the "music" button on the menu worked like the "sports" button, where it gives you a list of upcoming programs in that category, and I was looking to see if there would be a Live at Lincoln Center anytime soon. But instead, it took me to the music channels, and they have a Show Tunes channel. It's very eclectic, with some classics, some stuff I own on CD and some stuff that's obscure even to me. And not all of it is that good. Whoever does the programming there is really into the Broadway version of Young Frankenstein, as something from that show has played every time I put that channel on, and while I'm sure that's an entertaining show to watch, the music doesn't really work out of context as something to just listen to. Ditto with Spamalot. Hilarious show, but not all that great musically (at least there I'd seen the show and could insert appropriate mental images). Avenue Q has good music, but it doesn't work that well out of context when you can't see that it's puppets. One of the singers sounds disconcertingly Henson-esque, and it's rather upsetting to hear someone who sounds way too much like Kermit singing about sex. And then there's Xanadu. Oh my. I can't believe they made a musical out of that, and I can't believe the way they seem to have done it. I will confess that I own the movie soundtrack album. It was a major part of my seventh grade year. That album replaced the soundtrack from Grease as the record you went to your friends' homes after school to sing and dance to. But we were living in Germany at the time, so we didn't get the movie until much, much later, and we had no idea what the movie was about. We'd made up our own idea of the story, based on the songs and the pictures from the movie on the album cover. And then we saw the movie, finally, and were all, "What the heck was that?" But the Broadway show apparently incorporates other Olivia Newton-John songs, like "Have You Never Been Mellow," so they're pulling more of a Mamma Mia than a Disney musical where they write new songs to incorporate into the existing soundtrack. From the sounds of things, for whatever reason, it seems like some of the singers are using funny "character" voices instead of straight singing, and out of context that doesn't really work.

As a result, I seem to have driven my ghost so insane that he returned my decent show tunes CD so I'd have something else to listen to. Now I wonder what else I could get him to cough up for me. There are at least two more CDs I haven't found in a while ...

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