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Being a review of Robin McKinley's Pegasus, plus about half a review of C.J. Cherryh's Rider at the Gate and Naomi Novik's everything.

“Preface: )"OK, if you had a Mercedes Lackey-style animal companion thing going on, how would that Really work in practice?”

I am speaking, of course, about C.J. Cherryh’s Rider at the Gate books and Robin McKinley’s Pegasus. Read more... )

*** Except for the endings. I think Hero and the Crown is the only thing I've read of hers where she actually sticks the ending.

NOTE: I started this review right after Readercon, and then it mouldered on my desktop for several weeks. Tonight I was feeling restless and angry and useless, and so decided I might as well get THIS done, anyway; except I'd forgotten about half the more cleverly vitriolic things I was gonna say about Pegasus. Oh well, have a review.
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OK. So, while it's somewhat fresh in my mind, I should write up a quick review of the play I saw on riday night, namely

"I'd tell you to tell more people to come," the stage manager told the audience at the end of the show, "but our last performance is tomorrow, and we're sold out already." So I will tell you: go see this show when they do it again, in Summer Stock or at Portland Stage or wherever. Badger people to bring it to Boston, to Chicago, to the up-and-coming theater in the suburbs or the new performance space that just opened or the outdoor theater festival. Go see it, when- and wherever it goes up again.
This was an incredible experience.

Footnotes. )
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So at the last moment, the schedule for my trip to Maine wound up being changed around once again, this time because my brother had come down with some sort of Death Cold. But we DID still make it to this year's Maine Playwright's Festival, for which Dan was serving as artistic director (for the whole shebang) and dramaturge (for all the individual plays.)

So we had six short plays, and they were all awesome.

OK, OK: I'd say all of them were fairly solid, and a couple were incredible. The staging was minimal but effective; the acting was, to use the phrase of one of the characters, top shelf. Here are some quick reviews, so that you can be ready when they (hopefully to inevitably) get reprized everywhere else; and then some more general comments. Quotes taken from the program unless otherwise noted.

Individual Reviews )

Common Themes: )
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Went to the Symphony tonight. (Dad's partner has season tickets, but she's in Nicaragua, and I guess Dad didn't feel like going.) The programme was Beethoven-based (the Eroica, specifically); he's not one of my favorite composers, although I can appreciate his genius abstractly. The *interesting* bit was that they'd held a competition for best new composition by a composer under thirty:* the winner was some dude from Hawaii, who'd written a piece called "Becoming Beethoven": very much in the style of the composer, and loosely themed around the story of Beethoven going deaf. This was perhaps most evident at the beginning, where the orchestra was doing a (very melodious, but still very striking) imitation of the effect of tinnitus. The rest of the performance of it was...odd: it was hard to say, in a number of places, whether the composer was DELIBERATELY doing really weird quasi-counterpoint, or whether the orchestra's timing was off.** If it's the latter, well, that sucks, because it was a really great piece that someone was mucking up.
In between Beethoven-inspired and actual Beethoven, we had Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue': another revolutionary piece, but played and heard so often (including in old Delta commercials) that it feels hackneyed. Kinda like the humor in Holy Grail, I suppose, except that I have a permanent passion for Holy Grail, and don't have strong feelings about Gershwin. So I spent that chunk of the concert reflecting that Gershwin really had no successors, that I'm aware of at least: no one who took American popular music and turned it into symphony. And what would a 21st-century equivalent sound like? If I was to imagine it, I'd go for a full-on symphony, whose movements would refer to the different styles of our musically-fragmented age. Start with a movement of hiphop (what with rappers' tendency to sample everything and anything, an original orchestral composition with a strong percussion beat and someone rapping over it could actually work quite well. For full justice, you'd then somehow have to do movements of Country and Dubstep, but somehow make them not suck; or you could say screw it and just do a movement of literally symphonic metal instead. Throw in something folk-rock infused, for all of the bluegrass, actual folk-rock, singer-songwriter stuff, and other related genres; then maybe finish with more rap (or put the metal HERE). Oh, and you'd have to tie the whole business together thematically and musically. It would be difficult but not, I think, impossible. Pity I'm not a composer.
...So I was not, and am not, doing justice to the Portland Symphony: with the possible exception of "Becoming Beethoven" they played everything very well, and the pianist for Rhapsody was just brilliant, and thoroughly deserved his two callbacks' worth of Dixieland.

Afterwards, I went to Bar of Chocolate, for one last hurrah before Lent. This may have been a mistake. (Also, I need to remember that I have now *had* Tokaji, and do not absolutely need to have that particular odd experience again.)
Also for Lent, I'm giving up non-essential internet use. Blogging does not count, though; so hopefully I'll actually be posting MORE for the next few weeks. Here's hoping.

* and buy, do I feel old and useless now.
** Numerous viola jokes came to mind.


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