It Happened on Broadway

I grew up in a family that loves musical theatre. From the time I was young, we watched Disney movies and acted them out in our living room. The carpet was light blue, so it was often the ocean. Or, in the reenactment I remember most vividly, it was the Nile River, since The Prince of Egypt was one of my absolute favorites. The music in that one, am I right? I’m pretty sure we have video of it somewhere, too. Gawd.

Oh, and of course there were church plays. My most notable performance being some weird joke about taxes during “We Like Sheep.” The adults all though it was hilarious, but my partner and I had no idea what was so funny. I sure wish I could remember the punchline now. Something about keeping receipts in a shoebox. *shrug*

My sisters and father were also pretty heavy in our local community theater, show choir, the works. I was much happier putting on plays at home than in front of people, so I stayed in the audience.

Then I met my husband, who was equally enthralled with the theatre–I’ve told you about that before.

All this to say, when I saw It Happened on Broadway on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I thought it was going to be a grand history of the stage, an in depth look at some of the most favorite actors, producers, etc.

Unfortunately…I did not get what I wanted. For people who grew up in the golden age of Broadway (that is to say, people much older than myself, living in New York City), this may be the perfect book. They are going to be intimately acquainted with the people speaking in this oral memoir.

But for me, this was a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I knew exactly one person–Carol Channing.

And instead of that grand history? It was as if I was at a party, trying to grasp on to pieces of conversation from everyone around me. I was so confused. This is the type of introvert nightmare that I avoid! There’s no structure, no chapters or themes. Just a bunch of people thrown together talking.

Now, maybe if this were done documentary style on camera where we could see the vibrant personalities, this would have worked terrifically. But with words on a page, it was lacking something.

As much as I love theatre and history, I am just not the target market for this book. It’s too bounce-around, and I’m just not familiar with the contributors. I mostly skimmed through and read a few, grabbing memories from people I recognized, but I just couldn’t finish the whole thing. It didn’t hold my attention long enough. I am not going to completely discredit it, though, because I am sure there are a lot of people who are going to find this oral history extremely amusing. It was just wasn’t for me.

 

Disclaimer:  I was given an ecopy of this book by Netgalley for review.

Cinder

You all have been TORTURING me with this one. So many gorgeous pictures of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I was raised in the golden years of Disney’s princesses, and so I love fairy tales. And now everyone is coming out with their own version of our favorite girls.

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Cinder is another book I had put on hold awhile back, and finally got this weekend–I couldn’t wait to read it. Everyone has been posting the hardcovers online and I’m not gonna lie–I almost just went out and bought the series. They are just too pretty.

I had heard that many bloggers didn’t care much for the first book, but that the second and third books were way better, so I expected to take Cinder in with a grain of salt. No salt needed! I loved this! A scifi Cinderella? This was awesome. Cinder was totally badass, and no fairy godmother needed. There was no bippity boppity boop needed, she took care of things her own self. She did have a little help from slighty ditzy doctor, but not much.

This book kind of reminded me of Wicked, in that it was a more politicized version of the original tale. The prince was no background handsome here. He took care of business. And, there was actually a wicked witch trying to start a war, in addition to the evil stepmother.

I could go on and on, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Hurry up, library. I need Scarlet pronto!!

Classics

When asked what their dream library looks like, any female book nerd from my generation has only one answer.

 

I don’t even need to tell you what this is. Everyone recognizes it immediately. And oh how we want it. This is the moment where we all fell in love with the Beast. Any man with that big of a library OBVIOUSLY has something going for him, right?

I have always wanted a big library. I knooooooow I’ll never have a huge manor with a library as big as Beast’s. And besides…I would do mine in wood, not whitewashed walls with gold trimming. It’s way too bright in there. But, I need walls covered in books. I find extreme joy in spending time with my books, organizing, reading, touching, smelling. Yes, smelling! Mmmm old musty book smell.

I am finally getting to the point where I can say I am PROUD of my book collection. It’s taken me awhile to get here. I sold off a huge percentage of my collection a few years ago, and I’m finally building it back up. After a book sale this weekend, my shelves are FULL. Well kind of. I actually have two more shelves that are broken right now, hopefully when we move we’ll be able to get that fixed.

A great number of the books I have collected lately are classics, but I didn’t realize just how many I had until last night when I was taking the picture for today.

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They nearly filled my whole desk! I have a LOT of reading to do. Some of these aren’t even on my To Read list, and they should be! And HOW PRETTY are the leatherbounds in the middle? I am addicted to the new BN collection that they’ve come out with in the last year or so.

I am desperate to get a good copy of The Great Gatsby. I was really hoping to find one at the sale this weekend, to no avail. Hopefully soon. What else is my classics collection missing? Sooo many, I’m sure.

Goodbye Chick-lit, Hello Dragons

In the hallway of my childhood home, we had these towering bookshelves that were full to the brim. At least that’s how I remember them…maybe because I spent quite a lot of time, sitting on the floor in front of them, with books scattered on the floor around me, pulled off the shelves. While seated, there was a whole row of Babysitter’s Club, neatly pink and organized. But if I stood up, I could reach all of my mom’s books. And those, my friends, are what I loved most. Those were forbidden fruit. The books I REEEEEEEEEEEAAAAALLY wasn’t old enough for, but read anyway. I don’t really remember any of them, except for Thorn Birds, which I have already told you about, and still love to this day. I do know, that a great many of them were romance novels, because if there’s one thing my mother loves–it’s a love story. I share that trait with her, as do my sisters.

For most of my reading career, smut was my one true love. Especially historical romances. I loved the lords and ladies the most. And it wasn’t even that I needed the sex scenes…that held no interest for me, I mostly skipped over that…mostly. It was the romance that I wanted. I had this dream of being swept off my feet–the Disney Ideal. You know what I’m talking about.

I also loved more modern Chick-Lit. That stuff I could relate to more as I got older, because the women were like me–the same time period, the same worries–to a point anyway.

But then, suddenly, I completely lost interest in them. Maybe it is because I started reading more difficult books, I think that has a lot to do with it. Or maybe it is because I became a lot more cynical and realistic about love and relationships. That’s probably more likely. I’m not going to sail on a pirate ship and meet a dark and dusky sailor…and if I did, he’d be more likely to kill me than love me. HR and Chick-Lit became comical and unrealistic.

That said…I lost faith in that genre about the same time that dragons and magic became believable in my mind. How twisted is that? I think my desire for whimsy makes sense though. When everything in my life was dark and dismal and depressed, I craved the light. When reality was kicking my ass, I wanted a fantasy world full of wizards and adventure. And now that I am out of that darkness, and my life is happy…I no longer need the fake love stories, because I’ve written my own. So why not continue with whimsy and magic?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I will always be a romantic, and I will always ship certain characters. I can’t help it. And when those characters get together in a story…fireworks go off in my head! I just don’t necessarily need that to be the sole premise of the book, or need it to be full of sex and smut. Give me a little substance with the love story. Even Pride & Prejudice has a LITTLE drama. A bit. It’s a classic. Right?

Favorite Antagonist

This topic has been staring at me from my yellow legal pad list all week. FAVORITE ANTAGONIST. UGH. I’ve probably gone through 20 different characters trying to figure out who to write about. Not even kidding.

You see, I am a villain sympathizer. I always have been. Maybe it’s the black sheep in me, but growing up, the villain songs were always my favorite in every Disney movie. I mean, come on. They are the most interesting people. You’ve got Ursula, Maleficent (I can’t WAIT for that movie, btw), Gaston, Governor Ratcliffe (weirdly, a personal favorite of mine, not sure why I love his fat ass so much), and, of course, the most villainous of all villains–SCAR.

They all just seem so broken and misunderstood. And I know people hate that. There are huge discussions on Tumblr from the Villain Haters of why we shouldn’t make up backstories for villains and make them loveable. But, for those who are equally broken and scarred, or the outcasts, or just the shy and misunderstood, we relate to those villains. They are–in their plotting and planning–strong where we can’t be. They are going to stand over the blonde and beautiful and be the king of everything. And then, when their plans don’t happen exactly how they expected…we understand that too.

So when it came time to pick a favorite antagonist…I couldn’t. I went through so many people and I just couldn’t make them bad enough. Snape…no…he’s good in the end, right? Draco…ugh…he’s not good enough to be called a villain, just a whiny little bitch (here comes the Slytherin hate). I even had this really deep monologue with myself about Dorian’s picture soul…but no, that’s just way too complicated and reaching.

I thought about Joffery. God do I hate Joffery. But I don’t think he really halts a pure mission. Which is the good and bad thing about Game of ThronesIt is so far from normal story archetypes. Oh George RR Martin…you are a cruel and marvelous master.

No no no, this is just not working. I could not find anyone who truly fit the profile of Antagonist. Surely I’m missing someone here. Someone who fully opposes the hero, and is a true obstacle to the end goal of the story.

And then it hit me. There is only one person who I know to be hated more than Joffery in recent literature. Only one person more cruel, creepier, and chill inducing.

Madam Undersecretary Profressor Dolores Jane Umbridge.

*Shudder* God that woman terrified me. She seemed to be everywhere at once, and blocked every mission Harry and his friends attempted. And the pink. And the CATS. I can’t even write about her without shivering.

JK Rowling used Umbridge as a vehicle to deliver a sociopath into Hogwarts. With a eerie smile planted on her pink facade, she sucked the life out of the school, while bringing on harsher and harsher punishments. And then, to make everything worse, she rose to power in the Ministry of Magic, doing the same thing there…on adults.

Even I, a diehard villain sympathizer, could never love Umbridge. Good lord, this woman terrifies the hell out of me. I may have nightmares tonight just from thinking about her so much today.

What villain truly scares you?

 

 

Huntsman, What Quarry?

I was raised on Disney princesses in the 90s. The ballgowns, princes, and you better believe I have every single song memorized. (Of course the villains were always my favorite…but I was a rebel. I mean, come on, can you get a better song than Be Prepared?)

There’s been a movement in the more recent years not to raise girls on princesses. And I get it–we don’t want our little girls to be reliant on a man, to believe in being whisked off our feet and that’s all it takes to be Happy Ever After. Because that’s not real life. That’s why Frozen is so popular, because the men aren’t the reason for strength. Sure there is a handsome prince, but he’s the villain in the end (spoiler alert…but come on…who HASN’T seen Frozen BY NOW), and even Kristoff doesn’t get true love’s kiss. Ugh. My love for Disney hurt after that one.

I got a kick out of this poem because Millay just GOT IT. She spat all over Happily Ever After. Men are just way too distracted creatures for all that.

Huntsman, What Quarry?

“Huntsman, what quarry
On the dry hill
Do your hounds harry?
When the red oak is bare
And the white oak still
Rattles its leaves
In the cold air:
What fox runs there?”
“Girl, gathering acorns
In the cold autumn,
I hunt the hot pads
That ever run before,
I hunt the pointed mask
That makes no reply,
I hunt the red brush
Of remembered joy.”
“To tame or to destroy?”
“To destroy.”
“Huntsman, hard by
In a wood of grey beeches
Whose leave are on the ground,
Is a house with a fire;
You can see the smoke from here.
There’s supper and a soft bed
And not a soul around.
Come with me there;
Bide there with me;
And let the fox run free.”
The horse that he rode on
Reached down its neck,
Blew upon the acorns,
Nuzzled them aside;
The sun was near setting;
He thought, “Shall I heed her?”
He thought, “Shall I take her
For a one-night’s bride?”
He smelled the sweet smoke,
He looked the lady over;
Her hand was on his knee;
But like a flame from cover
The red fox broke–
And “Hoick! Hoick!”cried he.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay