So, you guys ask me a lot of questions about how I feel about things in comments and via email. I love it. Thank you. But to get to as many of them as quickly as I can, I’m going to explain a bit of a system. First, if I haven’t heard a song, I’ll get on that real fast and get back to you. If I haven’t read a book or seen a television show or a movie, I’ll generally make a good-faith effort to get to it*, but I can’t make any promises on timing. I do have a day job. And you’ll get something ahead of Spooks in the queue when you pry the deliciousness that is Rupert Penry-Jones from my cold dead fingers. Second, I’ll try to write whole posts when the occasion warrants. And third, on weeks when work is crazy, I’m prepping for visits from parts of the Grape Drink Mafia, and you guys are making me think hard about a wide range of issues, I’ll do something like this:
From Megan Ruyle: Also, in terms of historical romances, how does Julia Quinn compare to Georgette Heyer?
To be honest, it’s been a while since I read Arabella, the only Heyer novel that made a big impression on me. But what I love about Julia Quinn is that her romance novels are pretty self-aware. To be fair, everyone gets married because they’re caught in compromising positions. Every woman’s first sexual experience is basically fantastic. There are big set-piece parties. All of the tropes of the genre are observed. But they’re also very intentionally funny. Take this passage from Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, after one of the main characters loses her bonnet, causing another main character to fall off his horse, and her to fall pretty much instantly in love with him:
Later that night, as she replayed the encounter for about the thousandth time in her mind, it occurred to her that it would have been nice if she could have said that she’d fallen in love with him as he kissed her hand before a dance, his green eyes twinkling devilishly while his fingers held hers just a little more tightly than was proper. Or maybe it could have happened as he rode boldly across a windswept moor, the (aforementioned) wind no deterrent as he (or rather his horse) galloped ever closer, his (Colin’s, not the horse’s) only intention to reach her side.
Awesome. Mistreating women is thoroughly condemned. And the female characters are fantastic. They’re smart, they write and read (including romance novels, which they make a great deal of fun of), they are friends with each other instead of adversaries. Quinn makes liberal use of her limited medical school experience. So all comparisons to Georgette Heyer aside, Quinn is well worth checking out.
From Dara, on Glee: I know that there’s still so much more to unpack from that episode, but can we also talk about the music for a bit?
Sure! I’ll even let you do it, Dara, since you said it so well:
I’d been souring on the musical numbers since the mashup episode — especially the vocal performances, which I felt were sliding irrevocably toward Disney Channel blandness — but I loved all three of them this week. I’m a sucker for mellowed-out covers, so I was tickled pink by “Dancing with Myself,” but it was also a great showpiece for Artie’s rich-but-not-huge baritone/bass voice (the type high-school glee club solos aren’t written for in real life, either). Kurt performed the hell out of “Defying Gravity” (with an actor’s line-by-line specificity I haven’t seen in other numbers) and his tone — the only word I can think of is “woodwind” — complemented Rachel surprisingly well. And while the first half of “Rollin’ on the River” caused me to roll my eyes and ask the cosmos “When are they going to give Mercedes something that doesn’t scream ‘Mammy Soul’?”, the tempo change let her loosen up and sing like a normal high-school kid with great pipes. (And Santana Lopez had the ecstatic show-choir/Broadway “lit up” expression down pat.)
I also really, REALLY dug the “Proud Mary” cover. Currently, my biggest complaint about Glee’s music is that the show isn’t giving Puck nearly enough to do. Seriously, people. Exhibit A in how much better Puck is vocally, and as a human being, than Finn:
It’s not just the Red Sox fan in me, people. Boy’s got a nice set of pipes. I agree that Mercedes should be given more to do in every aspect of the program, and that the show should do it without accompanying references to her “chocolate thunder.” And now might be a good time to mention that the track list is out for the CD that’s going to accompany the second batch of episodes ordered by Fox. Thoughts? My personal wish is that Tina gets to sing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” to Artie, but I’d bet the chances of that are small.
From the invaluable Toolbit: Why do I feel like media wants me to like Eliza Dushku?
Because there’s this thing Joss Whedon does, where he gets it into his head that an actor is good at something. Sometimes he’s right, as with Alyson Hannigan and comedy, or Nathan Fillion and roguishness. Sometimes he’s disastrously wrong, as with David Boreanaz and drama (Dude was born to crack jokes with and stare winsomely at Emily Deschanel. On another note, Bones has been on a roll, but we’ll get to that later.). Sometimes he’s confusingly mistaken, as in his desire to make Dushku a leading actress, whens he does a lot better as a menacing/funny/redemptive sidekick. The media wants to like what Joss Whedon likes, and believe what Joss Whedon believes, because he gave us some really pretty, fascinating toys to play with over the years. When we find that hard, we tend to overcompensate. The media want you to like Eliza Dushku because they don’t really like Eliza Dushku, but want to like Eliza Dushku, and they think if you do, it will be easier.
*At commenter agauntpanda’s request, I set up an Amazon.com wishlist thing that’s now in the sidebar. I may be bribeable with regard to the order in which I read, watch, or listen to things if you send them to me. If you do, I am guaranteed to be embarrassed, and blush a lot, and probably threaten to send you a hand-written thank you note.