Mar. 12th, 2017

You know, I thought I'd maybe start writing a journal again but it turns out that I'm just bad at it. Also that my life is boring and unlike when I was in my 20's, I'm never sure it makes sense to take notes about my day. I do keep a spreadsheet about some basic everyday things though recently it's just, where did I eat lunch and dinner and with who, and how did I get to/from work, and which meals had meat in them?

Oh yeah, so back in November I decided to go semi-vegetarian-like, in making a rule for myself that I only eat meat in one meal a day tops (with exceptions when travelling, so our Australia honeymoon was one large exception). I had wanted to cut down on meat for a while, but the only way I figured I could do so was to set an actual damn rule and follow it. What has mostly happened is that I eat a lot of vegetarian lunches. It's silly, but basically, even while food at Google is pretty good, if I eat meat at lunch that means my dinner options are more constrained, and then I have to work things out with Chris, and so if I eat a vegetarian lunch we can do whatever we want (either from a Google cafe or otherwise) for dinner.

It is kind of ridiculous, but we really don't cook food ourselves at all for the most part (we did make a point a weekend or two ago to buy stuff at a supermarket and cook, but). The problem is that since we eat free food at work so often, if we have food in the house, it just goes bad inbetween times that we'd want to prepare it. I guess we could be better about it but the other thing is that neither of us really enjoys cooking all that much anyway.

What was I here to talk about? I'm not sure. Since last time I wrote I spent a week in Arizona in February for Fighters spring training, and I wrote that up on Marinerds. I have a ticket to the WBC in LA next week, but I still don't know if I'll go (though I said I'd go if Japan makes it to the finals, and that looks pretty likely, so maybe I should go reserve a hotel and stuff, I'd just drive down).

We've seen a bunch of musicals in the past few weeks:

Finding Neverland was at the Orpheum in January. It's a pretty mediocre musical, in that the lyrics are very predictable. I thought it was funny how obvious the main role had been rewritten for Matthew Morrison, and without him it seemed kind of silly.

If La La Land counts as seeing a musical, it was... well, I'm glad it didn't win Best Picture. The director clearly went off and watched a ton of Astaire and Kelly and such movies and then tried to remake them all, but somewhere in the middle he got lost and forgot he wasn't just making an Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling rom-com. I think had he gone one way or the other (total remake of 1930's-50's Hollywood musicals, or rom-com with songs whee!) it would have been good, but instead it felt schizophrenic and dragged because it couldn't stay in one mode or the other. I did appreciate the shoutouts to those older musicals, but it just fell really flat for me.

Fun Home came to the newly remodelled Curran Theater and we went to see it. I'd seen Fun Home on broadway with the original cast that won all the Tonys, in the Circle in the Square theater, and I wondered how it would transition to a normal stage. Fortunately, it worked just fine. I'm really critical of musicals these days I think, and I had absolutely no qualms whatsoever with the SHN production -- it was a solid production of a solid show. If anything, the only thing I noticed on a second watch was some slight anachronisms with Alison Bechdel's actual life (ie, a scene that takes place in the bicentennial, or 1976, when she should have been 16, uses the "young Alison", who is supposed to be like 10 years old).

Same week we saw Fun Home we saw Rent, which is touring for its 20th anniversary (technically last year, but still, holy crap). Rent is still a solid show that holds up fairly well over time, although I wonder what it is like watching it if you're only 20 now and didn't live through the time when AIDS was really scary shit. Anyway, my only complaint about this performance was that the actor who played Roger was pretty bad. Other than that everyone was great. Even if you listen to the soundtrack a bazillion times there's still something about actually seeing the show performed live that makes a big difference. I did feel like the Benny plothole makes less and less sense over time though, but that might just be me though. (ie, Benny starts out as the bad guy and somehow ends up being the good guy but you have absolutely no idea where the hell the motivation comes from on his part OR on anyone else's part to re-accept him).

This past week we went to see Into the Woods. Rather than a typical broadway tour, this is put on by Fiasco Theater and they went for a hipster barebones version of the show where there are only 11 members in the cast and they almost all play instruments. There's no Narrator, and everyone doubles up in some way or another for the most part. Doubling up in ITW isn't rare, especially having the Wolf be played by Cinderella's Prince -- that's a standard casting decision and it's pretty much even written into the vocal range of the characters and into what that actor stands for in the show. However, this production went a ton further. Cinderella's Prince also plays the Wolf, and ALSO plays one of the Stepsisters. And Rapunzel's Prince is the other stepsister AND is also Milky White. Red and Rapunzel are played by the same actress (who also can't sing high notes nor play the trumpet). Jack's mother and the stepmother are the same actress too, and Jack even doubles up as the prince's steward. The only non-doubling roles are the Witch, Baker, and Baker's Wife (well, and technically the Mysterious Man, but that's because he's the cello player and has to be playing music in most scenes)

Before the show, the Pianist said how "Don't forget there are two acts to this show! So after your 20 minute intermission please come back and watch the second half."

After the opening number (which if you know the show is the 11-minute intro that tells you what all the story lines are), Chris and I were both staring at the stage with our mouths open like "WTF IS THIS CRAP". I thought how "I guess they are telling people to stay to the second act because so many people are walking out after the first because it's so terrible?"

Fortunately it got a lot better. Red/Rapunzel was awful, but at least everyone else could mostly act or sing or play their instruments. Into the Woods is a really funny show as written, so it doesn't take a lot of acting to pull off the funnier parts (unless you are this particular Red). I think the best thing they did was to have Milky White played by a human, which I know intuitively makes no sense whatsoever, but there was a lot of funny things they did with Jack's bromance with his cow, and since the cow is an actual human, in the scenes where the cow is just supposed to be sitting off to the side (like during "It Takes Two") the guy playing the cow was often doing funny things as if the cow was emoting, or dancing along, or whatever.

But the barebones aspect of the show hit hard in a lot of ways. Because there were too many people doubled up, they simply couldn't DO One Midnight Gone, Two Midnights Gone, or any of the songs that involve all the characters parading across the stage and saying their little catchphrases (like "The slotted spoon can catch the potato!" and all). They took out various parts of the other songs, which I realize 99% of the people in the audience wouldn't notice, but this is ME, and this is like the 10th? or so production of Into the Woods that I've seen, and I know the show backwards and forwards, so every time something got cut or botched or whatever I was wincing like "ow, you can't DO that". While the lack of a Narrator kinda sorta worked in the first act (other cast members just would step up and say the lines the Narrator would), I think it fundamentally cut out a huge turning point of the second act -- the fact is, when they throw the Narrator to the giantess, there is this big thing of "holy shit, who's telling the story now?" and when they realize there IS nobody telling the story and they have to tell it themselves and take their fate into their own hands, that's a big deal. I felt like the scene where they interact with the giantess was really awkward, and it was partially because they had to redo it so hard, plus they had three actors switching roles during it.

I tried to think how I would change the show if I was trying to make the minimal change to keep their hipster barebones vision intact but take out of some of the most painful parts, and I think I'd basically at a minimum hire two people to play the stepsisters and to play some of the instruments adequately that the cast members couldn't (probly get one to be trumpet/french horn and one to be clarinet/bassoon). I'd also ideally split Red/Rapunzel into two actresses, but maybe I just really hated this particular actress so much that I wanted to change it so badly.

Anyway, I guess this got my desire to rant out of my system. We're seeing Hamilton later this month, I'm sure I won't have any complaints there. (I mean, I saw it on Broadway a year and a half ago, having gotten a ticket when it was still in previews, so I already know it's a good show.) It is amusing how full the theaters are for most of the SHN shows this year because so many people subscribed just to get Hamilton tickets. (Chris has been a subscriber for years, though.)

Oh, another thing that happened recently. My old Nexus 5X phone -- the one I got as a holiday gift from Google at the end of 2015 -- bricked itself on Feb 14th (easy to remember because Chris and I went to Chez TJ for Valentine's Day and I had to take photos of the food with my old iPhone 5). I got a loaner Nexus 6 and was supposed to return it by March 10th. In the meantime, I went and tried out the new iPhone 7 and 7+ at Apple stores, and I tried out the new Pixel by asking friends at work if I could play with theirs (including having a lunch with a friend where I literally put a meeting on his calendar that said "show me your pokemans"). I had decided to get a Pixel, but the problem is that Pixels didn't seem to exist anywhere if I wanted one with 128GB of storage. The thing about the iPhones was that like, the 7+ has this amazing camera and all, BUT the damn thing will not fit in my pocket, and after carrying around the Nexus 6 for a month I figured out that fitting in my pocket was really important to me. And the iPhone 7 just wasn't worth it without the cool camera stuff. However, it really was looking like I might have to get an iPhone because I wasn't seeing Pixels in stock in the Google store...

...until this past Tuesday! So I ordered one and it got here on Friday, and I even ordered a case for it that I can attach all my little Japanese baseball strap things to and all. And so I've had the Pixel all weekend. So far I am mostly happy with it, and it fits in my pocket, but we'll see.

July 2017

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