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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Just went to see Disney's latest "Beauty and the Beast", which was recommended by everyone from the conductor at our last orchestra rehearsal to the greengrocer), and was very disappointed :-(
Most of the film ranged from mediocre to downright annoying -- I don't know how I would have reacted if I hadn't been mentally comparing it to the animated version, which charmed me so much that I remember buying my mother a ticket to make sure she went to see it, but in comparison with that version I felt it came off very badly. Collapse )

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The Daaé Case - bonus material

Various 'extra bits' that I created in response to readers who wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes; it would be nice to say that these characters are created with a depth and attention to detail that runs deeper than what actually makes it onto the page, but I'm afraid that, like the backstory in the actual text, these are mostly details that 'emerge' as and when it occurs to me to look at them, in other words that I make up as I go along...
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Cracked cake

My Swiss roll came out as more of a Swiss fold, really...

It might possibly have worked if the tin had been less warped and if I'd spread the mixture out more carefully (though it was pretty runny, and I thought it had found its own level); as it was, the sponge ended up much too thick in the middle and very thin at one end, so it was obvious that it wasn't going to roll up. It didn't.

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The Daaé Case (ch5)

The issue with this story that I had not anticipated (I was worrying about coming across as whitewashing Raoul, or antagonising Americans by writing a grotesquely caricatured protagonist) is that the readers have spent most of the story wanting to know what 'Erik' is up to, what cunning plans he is going to unleash upon his opponents and how he is reacting to finding himself temporarily foiled. Everyone is waiting for the big showdown... and there simply isn't one. Collapse )


Chapter 6: Jos Confronts Christine

“He thinks the world of you,” Christine said softly, with a glance at the door. “I am so very grateful.”

And the smart thing to do would have been to leave it there. Take his thanks and go, and leave the lady to sing opera in peace for Hammerstein and the rest, with warm feelings all round. Only... he liked the pair of them, and maybe they were owed something more than that. Than just the easy way out.

“Nice guy — when he’s sober,” Jos said with a sigh. “What d’you reckon his chances at of staying that way? And... was there something you were planning on telling him sometime about the kid?”

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Breath control

Tried an experiment based on something I read in an article about teaching choirboys, and to my surprise it worked. If I hold a strip of paper up right in front of my mouth when I'm practising, it doesn't flutter or lift even when I'm singing quite loudly, and in fact I can feel with my hand that there's very little 'breeze' being created.

This isn't something I'm doing consciously, so it's either a result of previous training or just a natural consequence of the energy of the exhaled breath being absorbed by the vocal cords on its way out; breathing out silently produces a much greater airflow!

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The Daaé Case (ch5)

I'm increasingly concerned that Raoul comes across as getting rather an 'easy ride' in this story — a magical snap of the author's fingers, and then he's the Perfect Father and Husband overnight. The trouble is, I think, that I'm basing these chapters on the corresponding scene in canon where he really does miraculously scrub up and vow to do better... but without the corresponding tension of the unspoken bet on his marriage, and without the Phantom lurking around in the background waiting to make his own claims on Christine. Having been prevented by a fluke from being taunted into his reprehensible bet in the first place, all that is left of the character here is his genuine attempts at reformation. Which makes it come across as if I arbitrarily decided that Raoul is really a Nice Guy because I want him to be :-(

I considered replacing "mon vieux" with "fiston" as Raoul's form of affectionate address to the child, having come across this in Violonaire's Fantômes -- but I'm just not confident enough with it, and a check on Google Ngrams suggests that while the term 'fiston' did exist in the literature of this period, it's a term that has only really taken off in the last generation or so. So I'd better stick with what I'm fairly sure of so far as the French goes!


Chapter 5: Before the Performance

There were police at the Manhattan Opera in the end, that night. Not in the auditorium or outside the gallery entrance — the Daaé had scribbled a note for McWhirter to enclose with the ticket, promising there would be no trap, and she was dead-set on keeping her word — but outside the star dressing room, where a couple of big cops tapped nightsticks lightly on their holsters like they were just spoiling for someone to start making trouble.

If Mr. Y took a fancy to try something, of course, it wouldn’t be that crude. Jos could have told them that, and Miss Daaé had to know it better than any. But if fixing up protection for her with the management made her husband feel warm and wanted — well, it was no business of his how the theater was run. For Jos Perlman, the job had ended at ten o’clock this morning, when he produced the missing artiste and her party at the door of McWhirter’s office, signed, sealed and delivered. Another foul-up cleared; another disaster averted. His specialty. He’d gotten a fat commission out of it, too... and if at half six that evening he found himself paying a backstage call at the opera house, then it was purely on his own account. Besides, he told himself, he had to make sure she’d gotten everything she needed after their little undercover exit.

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Magneto

Watched the X-Men Days of Future Past (decent but not particularly great film; I remember being rather more moved by the original instalments) and realised

(a) that Magneto is now my favourite character (I think it was originally Wolverine)
and (b) that this is because you can never be sure if he is actually going to do 'the right thing' or not, which makes it much more rewarding on the occasions when he does.

(A bit like Captain Jack Sparrow in his original film, when one could never be certain which side he was really on and whether he was going to survive until the end of the plot or not. Once the character became established as the box-office star of the films in his own right rather than the dangerously unpredictable sidekick, there was never quite the same joyous relief on the occasions when he failed to let people down ;-p)

And of course there's the whole sympathy for the devil cropping up, presumably. And an obvious dose of brains and (misapplied) idealism doesn't hurt...

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Archiving LND discussion

Just spent the evening compiling the various 'discussions' that I'd had via fanfiction.net about Teach Me to Live as a respose to receiving further reviews on the story, only to discover that I'd already posted just such a compilation on this site two years ago -- the top entry under the tag-link above -- and included more material there! (The confusion is caused by the fact that I had already cut and pasted sections from earlier detailed review replies into later ones, so there is a certain amount of overlap and differing content depending on which replies I'd originally sourced my analysis from...)

I've now uploaded a combined edition to my website along with a copy of the story itself, though I don't plan to alter the version of the page here; the formatting is too different, and altering it would be a nightmare totally disproportionate to the usefulness of the exercise. Ironically, the one time that article would have come in useful -- when I was responding to those fresh reviews -- I'd forgotten I had it!

At least it provided me with the impetus actually to archive another story on my own site instead of relying on fanfiction.net, although to be honest on past history the latter is probably more likely to stay up for longer. However, I'm totally out of sync now: at a quick count I currently have five POTO/LND stories uploaded there versus 22 on FFnet. The latter is a slightly scary total (albeit including two translations plus two as-yet unfinished works) to contemplate; I really don't remember writing that many! I think the spate of 'one-shots' rather than multi-chapter stories over the last year has skewed it a bit, and of course that total also includes one story about Joseph Buquet and one about Piangi: they're not *all* about Raoul de Chagny. Not quite.

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The Daaé Case (ch4)

In which Jos finally meets Christine Daaé, and she isn't — in several unsettling directions — entirely what he had expected.


Chapter 4: Ah, Christine!

Even caught flushed and off-guard in her morning wrapper with a cup of coffee in one hand, Christine Daaé in the flesh was quite some lady. As exquisite as the room that framed her — why, if he hadn’t had more sense, he might have thought the place had been designed express for the purpose. Hard to see how any man could have problems waking up next to that, Jos thought, unguarded... then took stock of the set unhappiness in her eyes that was a constant silent reproach.

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The End in Sight?

I've now rough-typed two more chapters for "Blue Remembered Hills" (Ch18 and 19) and dared for the first time to look ahead in the manuscript and work out how many chapters I have left to go -- it looks as if after all this time there are only three chapters left :-D

I've got chapter length issues, though: Ch19, the pivotal one, is under two thousand words, and the surrounding three are at least twice that size, while the final two scenes constitute another very short chapter. The penultimate chapter has two scenes in it and might be splittable, but the second scene of that would be pretty short as a chapter on its own, and really can't stand together with the epilogue material following; there's a significant time/distance jump.

And Ch19 will just have to stay short, I think. It's probably explosive enough on its own. All those long chapters are going to be a real pain to proofread... (it takes the computer about twenty minutes just to read them out :-p)

Current word-count: 65,000, more or less. I estimate around another 10,000 in the remaining material.

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