Dispatches from Andyland "Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!" — The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

March 30, 2008

The dark side of musical theater seems to be my own imagination

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 11:30 pm

My oldest daughter is performing in a local production of Annie. (She plays the orphan Tessie who keeps saying Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!) My younger sister is also in the same show. Although I love watching my daughter perform, and I think she does a very good job, there is just something about that story that just gets under my nerves a bit. It seems fabricated just to pull at your certain emotions (feelings of nostalgia, even though the 1930’s aren’t nostalgic for most people now.) and the cuteness factor. Aw, isn’t that a cute little girl. Aw, isn’t that a cute little dog, etc. Musicals tend toward the upbeat, but there is only so much I can bear. (The one major subplot that is supposed to build some dramatic tension, the kidnapping and fraudulently claiming the reward money just seems tacked on)
Compare Annie with other musicals. Kids escaping their country before Germany invades while meanwhile finally reconnecting with their distant father and their new stepmother. That’s a story. A love affair blowing up gang warfare in New York. A man imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition goes insane hallucinates that he is a knight on a quest. Those are stories.

So while watching the show many times over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come up with a story that tells another side of the Annie story. In the same way that Wicked, The Wind Done Gone, Grendyl , or The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I started thinking that the Oliver Warbucks character. I started thinking about how I would feel about a businessman today who was powerful enough to call up the FBI and request they perform illegal searches on private citizens. I started thinking about how I would feel about a businessman today who could schedule an meeting with a US President of Vice President and request changes to economic policy in order to benefit his factories. Especially if built the fortune himself and didn’t inherit it, he really seems like someone I wouldn’t want to cross.

So then I started wondering why a guy like that would do the “take in an orphan for Christmas” thing. What I started imaging was a man who didn’t have to worry about his public perception and could keep himself out of the general news media. Maybe eventually he started to be noticed by the general public because of his power and suddenly needed some positive press? Then I wonder if Annie herself can be just as conniving for her age, but is young enough to put one a happy face and a tap dance and distract people from Warbucks’ ruthlessness.

After a while, the story that I’m imagining is a lot more interesting to me than the one I keep seeing performed. A co-worker of mine asked “Do you mean that seeing Annie this many times has ruined it for you?” and I told him that I think at least for me adding my backstory actually improves it.

Then I start thinking of my story, instead of seeing my story as another play, I can picture it as a Frank Miller-style graphic novel. But then Oliver Warbucks starts looking an awful lot like the Kingpin. If the kingpin every starts getting involved with a girl dressed in red, that would be a bit too weird.

Cheap TV listening headphones

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrew @ 10:03 pm

I’ve occasionally thought that a pair of TV listening headphones would be useful, but could never quite justify the cost of them. (depending on the pair, $40-$150). I came up with something that will function relatively well and cost much less. I purchased a FM transmitter that was intended to hook a portable MP3 player to a car radio (Home Depot, about $12) The audio input is a standard portable headphone 1/8″ stereo plug. (and expecting headphone level audio signal, a little stronger than line level.) I then bought a RCA audio plug to 1/8″ stereo jack and connected the FM transmitter to the audio out of my satellite box. My MP3 player has an FM tuner (its actually the  iPod FM tuner adapter/corded remote that plugs into the dock connector)

It seems to work fine. Can anyone think of any consequences I haven’t at this point? Those FM transmitters are sometimes tricky with cars, depending on the car’s antenna connection, existing FM towers, etc. When connected to the TV, there is clear line of site between the transmitter and the FM receiver and the TV isn’t ever going to drive closer to the FM tower and change its relative signal strength. The fact that the FM transmitter is battery powered will get annoying after time, but most of the small FM transmitters I see in stores use the car cigarette lighter power plug (which I don’t have my house wired with, so I’d probably need to wire up an adapter for.)

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