Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Crystal Ball Network

It's funny how when I plan to waste time, I get so much more done than when I plan to work and end up goofing off. Yesterday afternoon, the local PBS station re-ran the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert that I caught part of on Sunday night, so to justify spending the time to watch it, I planned my multitasking carefully. While watching/llistening I wrote blog posts for the rest of the week, wrote my medical school stuff, did a little work on the Ongoing Plan for World Domination and planned out the next part of the work in progress, which I got to work on soon after the concert ended. If I'd planned to work, I would have spent that entire time goofing off while thinking that I should be working and probably would have ended up sitting down to work at about the same time.

As for the concert, I still don't have my "dream" cast recording. I need to put together bits and pieces from multiple versions. I have a new musical crush in Alfie Boe, who played Valjean. I've never found a Valjean I liked better than Colm Wilkinson (though the last time I saw the show, the understudy I saw blew me away), but Boe is on the same level, though with a different type of voice. I immediately got online after hearing him Sunday night to find out who this guy is. He has some albums that I will have to get because, wow. I'm more of a baritone/bass kind of girl, but this is the kind of tenor I like. I have the 10th anniversary recording with Lea Salonga as Eponine, which is probably my favorite version of the role, but I also liked her here as Fantine, since she remembered that "I Dreamed a Dream" is not a wistful, hopeful or ambitious song (Susan Boyle did sing it beautifully but missed the point entirely). It's an angry, bitter song about lost hope and betrayal. This may have been one of the better Cosettes I've ever seen because she could sing high without sounding harsh and had a very sweet voice. The Javert was good, though my dream casting would be Terrence Mann, who was in the original US cast (the recording I don't have because it mostly duplicated the original London cast except for a Marius who was whiny). This concert would be wonderful except for a truly weak link, and I have to question the wisdom of throwing a Jonas brother into a bunch of opera singers because that was just mean. I was so embarrassed for the poor boy, especially when they brought out the original cast at the end and we got to hear Michael Ball on one of the same songs, and the comparison was shocking. The Jonas brother (I don't know or care which is which) has a decent voice but no technique and no force or power behind it. There would be these people belting it out and then his thin little voice with no support would come trickling in. The thing from this concert that might make the recording worth getting, though, was the encore with the four Valjeans -- Wilkinson, Boe and two of the actors currently playing the role on stage -- doing a tenor quartet version of "Bring Him Home" that was absolutely gorgeous. However, it doesn't exist on CD. It seems that there's a DVD, but the CD that looks like it's of the same event is not. It's just the current cast recording, with different people than in this concert, and it doesn't include that encore. There is a CD single of that encore, but it's a British import that costs as much as an entire album and is currently out of stock on Amazon.

I would love to get to be in one of those mass choirs for a production like this. I know I'd probably never get to play one of the principal roles or even be in a real production, but singing in the chorus for a staged concert would be awesome. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen this show -- countless touring productions and once on Broadway -- and I never get tired of it.

It's time for another Enchanted, Inc. series question! I was asked about the crystal network, how it works and what it shows.

The short answer is that I don't really know.

I have to confess that this is one of my less developed bits of world building. It's a relic from when I was initially doing the "it's just like a regular office, but it's magic!" thing and having way too much fun with it. I was trying to map magical things onto common office things. So, if there's a phone on every desk, what would a magical office have? Well, naturally a crystal ball!

I didn't need to develop it much beyond that because my viewpoint character can't use these things, so she can't report how they work or what she sees. That means they're essentially a bit of set dressing to provide a bit of "Ooh! Magic!" And they don't even seem that practical, since everyone ends up with a phone and a computer, anyway. But I put them there in the first place, which means they have to stay there even though there's not any major use for them other than "Ooh! Magic!"

However, I think they work kind of like a cross between the Internet and a fortuneteller's crystal ball. They show images, but in order to really use them, you have to have the magic talent not only to see the image, but also to grasp what the image means. It's kind of a psychic thing, where the real information isn't actually in the ball. The image in the ball transmits the actual information directly into the mind. So it's not as much like a computer terminal as it is a psychic link. It works two-way, like a psychic Internet, so you can send and receive and post your own information.

So far, the magical world doesn't have a dedicated mass media, so this is the closest they've got, with everyone sharing information.

Sorry, probably not a very interesting answer, but there you have it. Not everything in the books has some great meaning or reason. Some of it is just to be cool.

Any other questions? I don't currently have anything in queue.

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