On HAMILFILM, and a quick book review

I have already discussed my deep affection for Hamilton at least once on this site; my wife and I went to see the show in Chicago for our 10th anniversary a couple of years ago, and while that wasn’t with the original cast, I also have the soundtrack, which I have more or less memorized. We waited for the boy to go to bed last night before watching the filmed version in order to avoid fifteen thousand questions while we watched it, so I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and didn’t manage to get to sleep for a good hour and a half after that.

Worth it.

No surprises here, really; there are bits where cadence and inflection differs a bit from the soundtrack but it’s all the same people performing that I was used to, and this time I got the benefit of close-up camera shots so you can see facial expressions and the like much better. I feel like this really benefited Leslie Odom Jr.’s performance as Aaron Burr the most; I felt like I could really feel his emotions throughout the play and connected to him in a way that I didn’t quite manage in Chicago. I also still find myself preferring Tamar Greene’s George Washington to Christopher Jackson; he just seemed to physically fit the role better for me.

Either way, I’d just consider a month’s worth of Disney+ the cost to pay to rent this and watch it over and over for a while; it’s well worth it, especially if you’ve never seen the show in person before.


I’ve read one Tananarive Due book before, and really wasn’t hugely fond of it; it wasn’t necessarily bad so much as it didn’t really make an impact. I picked up her debut novel, The Between, as part of my 52 Books by Women of Color project, and I was happy to discover that I liked it a hell of a lot more than I did My Soul to Keep. I don’t necessarily want to do a full review of it, especially since I think it’s probably a good book to go into pretty blind, but this one is an unapologetic horror novel, and while it did take me a few days to get through it it also lost me some sleep on a couple of nights, so that’s a good thing. This is book 33 of the 52, and it’s the second book 33, because after reading an interview with Akwaeke Emezi after finishing Pet I discovered that she doesn’t identify as a woman and so that book (which is still really good, and well worth a read) shouldn’t count any longer.

(EDIT: Interesting, I apparently liked My Soul to Keep much more when I read it than my memory serves; it made my honorable mention list for 2016.)

I think I’m probably going to finish 52 books fast enough to be able to turn this into 52 authors, by the way; we’ll see where I’m at once I’ve finished 52 books and how many authors I’ve read more than one book from. I’ll probably be at four or five books just by N.K. Jemisin by the end of the year, so it might be several people, but something makes me think I can manage it.

At any rate, The Between is an effective, scary horror novel. It’s a good read.

On HAMILTON

IMG_6920Ask me to name my heroes and two names will come to mind very quickly: Malcolm X and Abraham Lincoln.  I’m always interested to see how fast people catch the fundamental similarity between the two men: they’re both damn near entirely self-educated.  I’ve had more than my share of formal education but in a lot of the things I find important I’m an autodidact, and it’s a quality I deeply respect in people.

Which explains my attraction to Alexander Hamilton, or at least the version of him that Lin-Manuel Miranda has created in HAMILTON.  I mean, the fundamentals of the story are basically correct, and Hamilton is undoubtedly a supreme autodidact, but he’s not quite up there with my heroes mostly because, while I’ve read tons of speeches and writings by Malcolm X and Abraham Lincoln, I’ve mostly read stuff about Hamilton, and that represents an important difference to me.  At least at the moment.  I need to reread the Federalist papers sometime.

But, yeah.  This guy?  I wanna be this guy:

How do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write every second you’re alive?

wish, y’all.  I don’t write enough, and the feeling “I don’t write enough” has been a goddamn constant in my life basically since I left college despite the fact that I’ve had, at the very least, an active blog for for nearly that entire time.  I don’t write enough, but I think about writing constantly.  I am never happier than I am just after completing a written piece– distinctly happier than when I’m actually writing it, a sentiment I suspect most writers will recognize.

Writing is torture.  Having written is the purest bliss.  🙂

Anyway.  We went to see HAMILTON for our 10th anniversary a week ago and somehow I haven’t talked about it here yet.  Walking in, I had large portions of the soundtrack memorized and my wife was at least reasonably familiar with the whole thing, and I think both of us were concerned that the cast being “wrong” might impair our enjoyment somewhat.  I’m glad to report that that concern was basically nonsense; my wife actually walked out preferring the Chicago cast, or at least their voices.   I wasn’t quite there, but I spent some time raving about the performance of Jonathan Kirkland, who plays George Washington.  The guy’s physical presence is outstanding; he towers over the other actors in the show, and he does a tremendous job embodying someone who was so personally forbidding that Hamilton himself once actually made a bet with a fellow Constitutional Convention-goer about whether he was brave enough to slap him on the back.  The “son” scene in Meet Me Inside was so much better than I’d thought it was going to be from the soundtrack.  Washington just stares at Hamilton, and Hamilton folds like a cheap suit.

I mean, okay, not surprising that I liked seeing the most successful Broadway musical of my lifetime live, but still: I know the tickets are expensive, but if this show is near you?  Go see it.  It’s worth it.

IMG_6923
My wife is actually prettier than she was the day we met.  I am … still alive, mostly.

In which I need a ruling

Had to have a conversation with my kid’s teacher this morning about why he might possibly break into song at some point during the day about killing everyone’s friends and families.  That is because we were listening to this in the car and he’s… well, fond of it: 

So, the ruling: Parenting win?  Or parenting fail?

On musicals

alexander-hamilton-portrait-john-trumbull.jpgBriefly, I hope: it hit me on the way home from work tonight that I never actually said anything about how we found Wicked.  We sort of got our tickets by accident; I thought the show was in town for a much longer run and randomly remarked to my wife that I wouldn’t mind going, and before I knew it we had tickets to the show’s last night, which was last Friday.  It was here for something like a two-week run.

I was quite pleased with it.  Showing up in a green shirt with a black tie was a happy coincidence, but I didn’t mind that I’d accidentally marked myself as a fan, because by the end of the show I was.  I’d have preferred slightly better seats; the Morris Civic Auditorium doesn’t really have any bad seats, per se, and we were in the front row of our balcony, but leg room was getting to me a bit and I spent the entire intermission standing up and walking around because otherwise I’d have had to have a leg amputated by the end of the show and I suspect the ushers would have frowned on that.  But it was a great performance; every time I see anything on stage by even semi-professionals I’m amazed at what people are able to do with sets and lighting and such and when it’s actual Broadway professionals doing the work it’s simply outstanding.  I’m really glad we went.

And then I got home and over the last couple of days I’ve been giving the Hamilton soundtrack another whirl after being unable to get through it the first couple of times I tried; again, listening in the car has transformed how I approach a piece of music.  I’m not going to say much, because I want to listen a few more times and then write a longer piece, but I suspect I’m becoming a Hamiltonian.  Like, I listened to it in the car, and I get it now, and yeah, y’all were right.  But more on that later.

Meanwhile, I’m finding that I’m really looking forward to the Rocky Horror Picture Show revival… thingamajig.  I’ve seen the film a million times but have (somehow) never seen it on stage, and the idea of Laverne Cox playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter is fascinating.  So there’s a post coming for that probably eventually as well.

 

In which I enjoy my daddy time

13786-3.jpgToday was Parents’ Day at Hogwarts, so I spent the first couple of hours of my morning in the company of many preschoolers.  I’ll admit it; the whole experience actually managed to make me miss teaching a little bit, and the only thing that kept me from randomly wandering the building after my son’s time was over and popping into other classrooms was the absolute certainty that I would eventually be found out and escorted off the property, and I’m not super interested in being banned from my son’s school, at least not before he’s in seventh or eighth grade.

But yeah.  It was fun, and a tiny bit nostalgic; “Yeah, I remember this” sort of stuff.  Even though it’s just preschool, there’s enough commonalities there, y’know?  Tonight, the boy is spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s and the wife and I are Going to See a Show: specifically, Wicked, which has been in town for two weeks, a run that ends tonight.  I’ve read the book but have never seen the musical.  I used to be a bit of a fan of Gregory Maguire’s work until realizing that he was on a downward slope with each book he wrote; if he’s done anything since Lost I don’t know about it.

I have failed twice at adulting in the past two days; I spent the entirety of yesterday in bed (again) leaving the several boxes of vinyl flooring still in my car and despite dedicating an entire post to how I don’t want an iPhone 7 last week, once I discovered today that Verizon was gonna let me have one basically for free I caved and ordered it.  Space black, not the jet.  And, uh, a Plus.  Which may prove to be a mistake, honestly, but I want the camera.  So so much for responsibility.

Speaking of, it’s noon, and I’ve done damn near nothing in the hour and a half since I got home.  I’m gonna go… uh.  Yeah.  Do something.  Not in front of the computer.  I just gotta figure out what.