Sunday, December 30, 2012

After thoughts on Les Miserables

There was one element of Les Miserables that someone pointed out that I didn't address and that was the fact that all the singing was done live to film as opposed to being prerecorded and lip synced on set.

My thoughts...It's admirable but I don't think it added any value to the movie.  I'm not being negative about it. I appreciate the effort it was cool to see, but at the same time, if you're going to record one of Broadway's best films and preserve it for history, why not have a perfect recording and soundtrack.

This is exactly why I won't be purchasing the soundtrack to the film and will opt for the original London cast recorded. It's perfect and includes all the music from the play.

Also note that the although the singing was done live, the orchestra was added after the fact, so you're not really getting a perfectly live performance.

I wonder if Russell Crowe's performance would be been improve had he been allowed to prerecord in a studio.

All this said, I still stand behind my previous remarks - Anne Hathaway gave a top notch performance of I Dreamed a Dream, Hugh Jackman although not a true tenor brought emotion and passion to his voice, Samantha Barks is an amazing talent and incredibly hot.

When I think about the great movie musicals, I could really care less if they had be sung live or prerecorded. West Side Story, Chicago, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, the list goes on and on and I don't think a live performance would have made these movies any better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Miserables - A Honest Review

I'm back from watching Les Miserables with the wife. My background with the Les Mis phenomenon is I saw the stage production many years ago and loved it. I also liked the movie with Liam Neeson. Suffice it to say, I'm a fan of Les Mis and of musical theater in general. So what did I think of the movie.

I loved the movie and being a fan certainly helped. At the same time, this movie will do nothing to convince your other jaded friends who hate watching musicals on film.

Let me address the bad before I address the good. Here are the common complaints of movie musicals.

1. People just break out into song. Yes, that's the whole movie. People singing everything they feel and every last piece of dialogue. There's a seen when Hugh Jackman is trying to escape and he quietly approaches an ally in an open courtyard. He then proceeds to sing his distress in his loud tenor voice.

2. Producers would rather have A-List Hollywood stars that can kind of sing, instead of actual actors who can actually sing. Case in point, Russell Crowe can't sing. He's the weak link in the movie.

3. Schmaltz galore. "Schmaltz" literally means "rendered chicken fat." Basically a series of overdone and over produced love songs and emotional vomiting.

If you have friends who had movie musicals, it would be pointless to tell them, "But then, you've never seen Les Miz!" You'll lose the argument and become a laughing stock to your friends.

To me this movie, represents every complaint man has ever laid against movie musicals all rolled up into one movie. The saving grace for this movie is:

  • An amazing story of forgiveness and redemption.
  • Incredible music and lyrics, which made the broadway play the best ever.
  • Fantastic performances, especially an Oscar-Winning performance from Anne Hathaway and yes, Hugh Jackman.
  • Faithful adaptation of the original musical.
Despite the fact that this is a Hollywood Movie Musical, the story, music and performances make it one of the best movies of 2012.

On top of that, I love the fact that this British movie featured an entirely American and Australian cast. Take that England!

Yes, Anne Hathaway delivered an emotional performance as Fantine. She packed a lot of punch in her 20 minutes of screen time in this 2 1/2 hour movie. I cried during her song.

Hugh Jackman was made for the role of Jean Valjean. His voice is good even when he could not quite reach the higher register.

I don't know who Samantha Barks is but she is super hot as Eponine. Pretty face, muscular arms and a four inch waist.

Look, I walked away from the movie glad that I could revisit the performances from the stage play, but it just does not translate from stage to film. You really have to see it live. The main reason this didn't work was there's a suspension of disbelief that works on the stage, but in a movie when the transition of events move too quickly, it makes you question what happened. For example...


At the end of the movie, Jean Valjean gets in a carriage to leave Cosette and Marius. The carriage leaves and cuts to the wedding, which immediately cuts to the church where, Jean Valjean is sitting alone in a chair about to die. This all takes place in duration of 15 minutes. How the hell does this happen?

You buy it on stage, but not in a movie.

FINAL WORD. If you're a fan of Les Miserables, like me, or musicals in general you'll love the movie and think it's great and amazing. If you dislike movie musicals for all the right reasons, you will hate Les Miserables.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Kid's Second Exposure to Gays and Lebians

As a Christian, being for or against Homosexuality is usually a theological discussion than a real life experience, because honestly, most Christians that I know, don't have gay friends. For me that's not true, I have a few gay friends, relatives, closeted and open.

As a father, how exactly do I handle the "gay" topic with my five-year old. That issue was thrust upon me recently and I get the feeling that gay and straights may not like how I handled it.

Last Sunday, I took my daughter to Disneyland and we happen to do almost every Sunday. The traffic into the park was usually heavy and it took move over an hour to park. We entered Disney's California Adventure and whammo, I discover that it's Gay Days at Disneyland. How do I know? 80% of the men in the park are wearing red shirts. 

How would I know this? The Anaheim Angels won their first World Series several years ago. I wore my team's red and white proudly at Walt Disney World during their gay days and I sadly no one hit on me.

Back to today, so my daughter and I walked through the park to go on rides. Every moment, gays and lesbians holding hands, being affectionate and sitting in front of and behind on all the rides.

So how did my daughter respond to the "debauchery" that surrounded her. Simply, she could care less. She just wanted to go on rides and find toys for me to buy her. My moral duty was to just let her go on rights and refuse to buy the toys that she wanted. In fact, that was the only drama I had on this trip. She never asked me why those two women are holding hands, why that guy has his arms around another guy or why did those two dudes kiss. Honestly, I don't even this she noticed...she just wanted to go on rides and eat candy. 

To my Christian friends, I guess you would want me to point out that being gay or lesbian is a sin and God hates that. To be honest, that's not the kind of Christian I want my daughter to be. It would kill me to have her walk up to anyone and start pointing out the sins in their lives. With all my heart, I want her to love others and let God do the judging.

You may also ask, aren't you afraid that gay relationship and marriage will warp her definition of a family. You can talk to her personally, her idea of a family is far from warped. Here's here understanding of family. She has two parents who love her very much. She has aunt, uncles, cousins, grandparents and until recently great grandparents who love her and whom she loves in return. She has aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, who are not even related to her, but she knows they love her very much. That's family. It doesn't make a difference if these people are men or women, she just knows that they are special people in her life and she loves them.

My cousin and his partner are looking to adopt a child. I hope a miracle happens and they do get a chance to adopt. They would make great parents. At five years old, all my daughter will understand that her second cousin will have two parents who love him/her very much.

To my gay friends, I guess you would want me to point out that gay relationships are as normal as straight relationships. C'mon, she's five. She just wants to go on the Ariel ride and buy toys with her dad. To be honest, she's not ready to enter the political world of sexual equality, she just wants to ride rides.

My job, as a father, is to her to love you, gays and lesbians, as God loves you, unconditionally. To treat you as God would have her treat you, as one of God's creations.

So gays and straights, I admit it, I wussed out and didn't discuss with my daughter whether homosexuality is right or wrong. I just wanted to ride rides at Disneyland with my daughter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rethinking my stance on gay marriage (maybe)

I'm looking back at my blog and its been a long time since I've written on the subject of Gay Marriage. A few weeks ago President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage.  Maybe I'll write about the politics of gay marriage, but I wanted to respond to an aspect of gay marriage that my Christian friends have brought up on a few occasions.

Simply put, why would I, Alan, an evangelical Christian, be in favor of gay marriage, with the knowledge that gay marriage "displeases" God and legalize "sin."

So Why Homosexuality?

I find it interesting, there are hundreds of thousands of sins in the Bible. Why in the last 4 years have we singled out Homosexuality as the sin Christians will battle publicly and to the point that we will legislate and make a presidential campaign issue.

A friend of mine told me that my support of gay marriage "displeases" God. Also, that if you've read my blog on Gay Marriage, you know that I believe that Christian have done wrong by alienating ourselves from the LGBT community and rather than reaching out to this community we've done far worse by condemning this community at every turn.

Essentially I was "accused" of sacrificing God's definition of marriage in exchange from building a bridge to the gay community (which is not necessarily wrong).

Does my support of gay marriage "displease" God? I know you want to give me a straight answer. Well…I'm not going to give it to you. Instead, I want to point the fingers back at you.

As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of marriage. So much so, that we are spending millions of dollars defending marriage between a man and a woman and defining it as such legally. If marriage is so sacred that we can not legally allow two individuals of the same sex, who love each other to get married. Then we, as Christians, must fight as vigorously to enact laws that violates God's intention for marriage. I've got three to start with:
  • Pre-marital sex
  • Adultery
  • Divorce
Look, fellow believers, I will rejoin the cause of defending marriage, if we work just as hard to enact laws banning pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce. I'm in fact one who can speak to this for I have committed none of these sins in my life. I had sex with only one person, my wife.  I've never cheated on her and I don't plan on divorcing her ever.

So if you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make it illegal for two single people to have sex before marriage, because this "displeases" God. Since the man is more likely to be the initiator in pre-marital sex, first time offenders will need to attend abstinence courses and for repeat offenders will need to attend sex rehab clinics.

If you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make it illegal for married people to commit adultery. Since this is one of the ten commandments, the punishment must be especially harsh. Jail time for men. For women, we'll create an adultery registry and we'll just add them to this national database. Better yet, why not slap a giant red "A" on their clothing. Lest we forget, adultery "displeases" God.

If you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make divorce illegal. By law, we will nullify all divorces across this national. Biblically though, if you divorced due to adultery then you're free and clear, but then you're under arrest for committing adultery. If you are divorced, your marriage with your first spouse is now restored. If you are remarried, your current marriage is null and void and you must immediately move back in with your first spouse. Any children born in these now nullified marriages will be branded as "B@st@rds."

Excuse me now as I remove my tongue from my cheek. To my Christian friends, I have a question for you. Why is it so easy for us to condemn gays and lesbians for being gays and lesbians to the point that we create laws banning them from getting married, when at the same time refuse to legislate the sins that we Christians are more likely to commit?

Think about it. Christians are more likely to displease God by having pre-marital sex, commit adultery or divorce our spouses than we are of committing a homosexual act. Don't you think that by creating laws banning pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce, we would not do it?

When we stand there supporting proposition 8, how exactly are we not hypocrites?

I'd like to thank everyone for sending me the Bible verses condemning homosexuality. Believe me, I've known them all decades ago. At the same time, you know the verses regarding pre-marital sex, adultery, and divorce.

I'm going to end this blog the same way, I ended all the other ones. Christians end this war against homosexuals now! Stop this legalistic battle, we're fighting and be the salt and light to the world that God has called us to be.


Epilogue. I've been asked many times, do I believe that homosexuality is a sin? I'm going to answer the question this way. I believe the Bible is God's inspired word and that it is both infallible and inerrant. I believe that the way Christians treat the LGBT community is abhorrent and makes God weep. More to come.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Freedom of Speech and the Abortion Debate

So, I'll just say this and you can let it settle in. My name is Alan and I'm pro-life. I believe life begins at conception. OK? So what are you feeling? Do you hate me? Has this one statement changed your entire opinion of me? Can we still be friends?

I'm more or less picking up from my last blog on Freedom of Speech. The world today has taken an Us vs. Them mentality. And I forgot to mention that I'm a born-again Christian. Have I lost you?

Since getting involved in Improvisational Comedy and surrounding myself with democrats, atheists and pseudo-communists, I've always been considered an outsider. He's a great guy, except for the fact that he's a Republican. I was not liked for a long time when Bush beat Kerry.

So let's talk Abortion. Here's the problem with where the debate has taken us. The two sides of the debate are apples and oranges.

For the apples, life begins at conception, therefore abortion is murder.

For the oranges, women have the right to choose and no one has the right to control what a woman does with her body.

Do you see it? Two different sides of the same coin. One side focuses on the definition of "life" and the other focuses on the definition of "choice." Pro-lifers completely ignore choice because "life" is sacred. Pro-choicers completely ignore the beginning of life, because choice is a right.

So because we are so entrenched in our positions, our only form of debate is mockery and ridicule. From the right, you're nothing but baby-killers. On the left, you want to enslave women.

Here's the problem for the left and the right. Somehow we feel that even if we entertain the other side's point of view, we are betraying our own beliefs. But in honest debate, you have to have to consider the idea that maybe the other side has a point. Maybe there is merit in their beliefs.

To the Pro-Choices, I challenge you with this question, "if life does not begin at conception, when does it begin?" Embryos, fetus, baby. Even you know that an infant passing through the birth canal does not constitute life. So when? Honestly, I can't see why partial-birth abortion is acceptable to anyone.

To the Pro-Lifer, you have to consider do you want to live in a world where the government can dictate what you can or can't do with your own body. Do you really believe in Forced Birth? What about rape and incest? Read the story of David and Bathsheba. There's a Biblical equivalent to abortion in that story.

Before I end, let me tell you my personal take on legalized abortion.  I'm Pro-Life and proudly so. I would like to do away with abortion, but I don't believe I can do it through legislation. They only way to win the abortion debate is to lower the demand for abortion. How? Responsible discussions of sex to teens. Awareness of the growing number of parents want to adopt children.

That said, Can we bring back the art of debate where we look for common ground and not to win.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Are We Losing Our Freedom of Speech?

Slowly. Little by little. We are giving up small pieces of our freedom of speech. Not only, our freedom of speech but our freedom to believe in whatever we want, right or wrong.

It's not like we're going to jail for our beliefs but we are losing our jobs, we are publicly shunned and ridiculed because we refuse to believe in what is considered main stream thought.

If you're honest about debate, just want the news and televisions shows. For example, I've come out against the way Christians are treating homosexuals in their words and deeds, but at the same time, Christian should have the right to believe in their own convictions.

Recently in Riverside, pressure was placed on a teacher for stating she thought homosexuality was a sin. Is that worthy to lose your job and livelihood. Now the debate has turned to birth control. Catholic organizations are being pressured to provide birth control to employees against Catholic convictions. Again, I have no problem with birth control, but why should catholics be penalized for following their beliefs.

Here's an example of such politically correct bullying: Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood. In short, Susan G. Komen withdrew financial support to Planned Parenthood. Read the story and tell me how SGK was not bullied back into financially supporting Planned Parenthood. How exactly is this not legal extortion?

I'm always concerned about public debate. Why, because it is no longer a debate. The left and right have become so polarized that rather than hearing the opposing side, we've become comfortable with mockery and ridicule. Our society is lost once we accept the us vs. them style of debate.

I always believed in healthy debate, understanding the opposing viewpoint and then finding common ground. The problem today is that if we truly believe that I'm right and your wrong. Then the only way to win an argument is to kill your opponent. The last time this happened was the civil war. Is our only future, a cultural civil war?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Making Fast Work of Jury Duty

I got called into jury duty today. They were kind enough to let me travel cross town to Newport Beach and make me be there by 8:15.

Thanks guys, not only do I have to travel far but now I have to drag the kid out of bed an hour early. Needless to say, I got there late. I arrived at 8:30 and was done at 9:30.

If you ever get called to jury duty service, here's a few hints. If they need to Pre-screen you for a potential juror, they will ask you to line up so that they an scan your badge. Make sure that you're the last in line. They will always fill up the needed spaces long before your turn in line.

Another thing I learned is that if you make it on a jury and the prosecutor asks a question, "do you think driving above the speed limit is legal because it's the speed of the flow of traffic?" Answer "yes." they kick you off.

An hours worth of work is not bad for jury duty. I've done my time as a juror once and I no longer thinks its interesting to participate in a trial.