July rambling #2: eclipse simulator

The Uninhabitable Earth

An Iceberg the Size of Delaware Just Broke Off a Major Antarctic Ice Shelf

Senator Al Franken and David Letterman in Boiling the Frog

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Sends You Letters about Your Medical Condition

The End of the American Experiment

Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’

Enraged by 18th-Century Custard Recipe: Orange Fool

Simply The Worst Human Being We Can Imagine?

Natalia Veselnitskaya was no stranger to Trump business; the timeline so far

Donald Jr. Reviews Famous Works Of Literature (satire)

Ivanka Inc

Crackdown on immigrants shakes upstate New York economy

He Became a Hate Crime Victim. She Became a Widow

So this one time at a journalism conference…

Emmanuel Carrère’s “The Kingdom” explores how a tiny sect became a global religion

Three Misunderstood Things, including Christianity and abortion

How to Talk With Religious Conservatives About LGBT Rights

The Religious Left is getting under right-wing media’s skin

The invention of heterosexuality

When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code

The Origin of ‘Husky,’ the Word That’s Traumatized Generations of Fat Boys

The Librarian Who Took On Al Qaida

Higher education and budget cuts

How One Leader Set a Toxic Tone, Spurning Allies She Needed Most (Shirley Jackson of RPI)

How Andrew Cuomo Keeps the Left in Check

Join in this first-of-its-kind citizen science project, gathering scientifically valuable data from the total solar eclipse that will traverse North America on August 21, 2017; here’s the eclipse simulator; ALB will only get 70%

The Rise and Fall of Toronto’s Classiest Con Man

Why Popularity Matters So Much—Even After High School

Leonard Maltin (Critic): If you’ve never seen silent films, or foreign language films, if your education with film begins with Star Wars then you’re handicapped

Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who starred in ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Mission: Impossible,’ dies at 89 – before that, he was a cartoonist

Kermit voice actor Steve Whitmire devastated to lose job after 27 years and Jim Henson’s daughter and son respond; replacements?

A WICKED interview with Winnie Holzman, librettist

Chuck Miller gets a postcard from the 2017 Iowa State Fair Photo Competition

NOT ME: THE STAR spoke with Roger Green, who has been driving hearses for more than a decade. “He said nobody wants their dead in a ‘dead’ hearse.”

Mary Anderson, inventor of the practical car windscreen wiper

There’s No Crying in Professional Wiffle Ball

Now I Know: The New York Police Officer Whose Job is a Buzz and Who Was the Fifth Dentist — That Didn’t Recommend Trident? and A Profitable Way to Stop Telemarketers and The Internet’s Hidden Teapot and The Best Checkers Player in History


Sgt. Pepper – Big Daddy. The whole thing, live

The Strawberry Alarm Clock Celebrate 50 Years of “Incense and Peppermints”

K-Chuck Radio: Awesome and rare 70’s dance classics and Father’s Day Funk

Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly And Bryce Dessner Play ‘Planetarium’ Track ‘Mercury’

Beating the spread

Amat Te Mehercle: The 1960s Classics Teacher Who Translated Beatles Songs Into Latin

Rapp on This: The Slants’ SCOTUS victory

Wicked, the book versus Wicked, the musical

What I’ve discovered in my circle is that people who read the book first, prefer the book.

Reprinted from my Times Union blog.

My wife and I went to see the musical Wicked at the Thursday afternoon matinee on November 8, right after it opened, at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. We had not seen it before in any iteration, not at Proctors a couple of years before, or on Broadway. I wasn’t particularly familiar with the music, aside from Defying Gravity.

All in all, it was WONDERFUL. The performers were great, and the element that really impressed me was lighting. Michael Eck’s review is about right, though I obviously can’t speak to how much it may become dated.

My wife met me at the theater. She was driving from work with little time to spare, so I took the bus – the 905, for you locals – to Schenectady. I had left the book I had been reading, an autobiography of Walter Cronkite, at work, and I needed a distraction. I grabbed my copy of Wicked, the book written by Gregory Maguire. In fact, it was a copy signed by the author, to me, which I purchased from him at a Friends of the Albany Public Library event in April 2006.

I got about an eighth of the way through the book, and then I saw the musical, then I finished the book. Probably not recommended. These are very different animals. Wicked the book is grimmer, grimier, more sexually explicit, more about political intrigue and musings about religion.

I’m not talking about minor differences of interpretation. The musical’s book by Winnie Holzman resembles the book by Maguire in only minor ways. Elphaba, who Jaquandor describes here, is green; she has a distant father, a deceased mother, a sister Nessarose with cool shoes, and a secret romance. Almost everything else you THINK you know from one source will be negated by the other source. Characters are merged, characters who die in the book are pivotal in the music, relations are changed, and a whole lot of characters in the book never make it to the stage at all. Religion and politics, and what’s going on with the Animals, are central to the book, more peripheral to the musical.

For a spoiler-free analysis, go HERE. If you want analysis with specified spoiler alerts, look HERE. And if you like spoilers galore, go HERE.

What I’ve discovered in my circle is that people who read the book first, prefer the book. People who saw the musical first either really dislike the book, or can’t get through it. In fact, one said, the best thing, or even the only good thing, about the book is that it generated the musical. There’s a level of violence and sex in the Maguire book some found disturbing. For me, the extra characters left me a bit confused, and honestly, a tad bored in the middle – where is this GOING? – though it mostly made sense at the end.

There is a “reader’s group guide” at the back of the book. Question 1 notes that “Wicked derives some of its power from the popularity of the source material. Does meeting up with familiar characters and famous fictional situations require more patience and effort on the part of the reader or less?” I say “yes”, both. In particular, the musical is even more beholden to the classic film than the book.

I’m curious what others who both read the book and saw the musical think about each. In particular, I wonder if the order they experienced the media matters.

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