Posts Tagged ‘London’

Song of the Week: “Moaning Lisa Smile” by Wolf Alice

This week’s song is “Moaning Lisa Smile” by the London band Wolf Alice from their debut album My Love Is Cool.  The sound is reminiscent of early 90s indie pop, but the video is straight out of the 80s.  Neither of which is a bad thing.

 

Song of the Week: “Circles” by Kate Tempest

London hip-hop and spoken word artists Kate Tempest provides this week’s track “Circles.”

 

The 44th Annual Christmas Revels

The Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge are annual family tradition.  My first Revels experience was in Washington in 1996.  After moving to the Boston area, the Cambridge Revels were an annual event from 2001-2006.  We missed the show in 2007 due to a newborn, and in 2008 due to a blizzard, but have been regular attendees since 2009 (that same year I actually sang in the chorus!).  So, I calculate that I’ve seen 13 different Christmas Revels performances.  Each year is delightful and surprising in its own way.*

This year’s Revels is set in Victorian England, with music halls and the Crystal Palace playing center stage.  The first act shows two teams of buskers competing on the streets of a Northern England town as the Crystal Palace manager Harry Colcord and composer Arthur Sullivan seek an alternate performer after a cancellation.  In the usual Revels’ way, everything comes together as the buskers join forces to create a performance of music, tricks, and a “panto” of Cinderella.  The second act is treated as a command performance at the Crystal Palace (complete with life-size wooden cutouts of the royal family in the mezzanine).

Highlights of the show:

  • comic busking performances by Marge Dunn, Billy Meleady, Mark Jaster, and Sabrina Selma Mandell
  • singing a round of “Row the Boat, Whittington”
  • David Coffin’s solos on “It Was My Father’s Custom” and on the melodic “Christmas Bells at Sea”
  • the sing-a-long and acting out of “When Father Papered the Parlour”
  • the “Panto” of Cinderella, which while not a true Panto (oh no it isn’t!), we did get to shout “Don’t touch Billy’s eggs” several times
  • And of course, the Revels traditions of “Lord of the Dance” (and dancing out into the lobby), “Dona Nobis Pacem,” “The Shortest Day,” and “Sussex Mummers’ Carol.”  Unfortunately, the “Abbots Bromley Horn Dance” was conspicuously absence in this year’s performance.

There are five more performances from December 26-28, so if you’re in or near Cambridge, get a ticket and go!

* I also recently discovered that the Revels website has a list detailing the theme of every performance from 1971 to present.  Now I need to discover time travel technology so I can go back in time and see each and every one.

Related posts:

Movie Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Title: Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Release Date:
1971
Director:
Robert Stevenson
Production Co:
Walt Disney Productions
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Genre:
Adventure | Fantasy | Family | Musicals | Animation
Rating:
   ***1/2

Set in Second World War England, three children have been evacuated to the countryside (oddly to a town overlooking the Channel) to stay with Miss Price (Angela Lansbury), a witch-in-training.  Along the way on their magical adventures they pick up the con-man Professor Browne played by David Tomlinson.   The movie is more of a series of loosely-connected set pieces than a story.  Some of them go on too long, like the dance number on Portobello Road, although it is interesting to see the many faces of the British Commonwealth represented in a cheerful wartime London.  Better are the mixed live action and animation sequences with fish dancing in an undersea ballroom and a raucous soccer game among wild animals.  The conclusion features some whimsical special effects that stand up well after forty years as military uniforms and armor are magically brought to life to defend Britain against a German incursion.  It’s a fun, entertaining bagatelle of a movie. My kids enjoyed it for sure.

 

Song of the Week: “Turn It Up” by Factory Floor

The London-based “post-industrial” duo makes electronic noise you can dance to on the track “Turn It Up” from their eponymous debut album.  These instructions are easy to follow.

 

 

How are you getting your groove on this week?

 

 

Book Review: Saturday by Ian MacEwan

Author: Ian MacEwan
Title:
Saturday
Publication Info: 
Recorded Books (2005)
ISBN:
 1419332872
Books Read By Same Author:
Atonement
Summary/Review:

MacEwan’s novel follows a seemingly ordinary day in the life of a London neurosurgeon as he goes about his tasks and ruminates analytically on his life and work.  It’s interesting how seemingly major things (like a car crash) are detailed with less intensity than the  seemingly mundane (a game of squash).  Towards the end of the novel things come together too neatly with a dramatic twist that I think undercuts the more interesting stream-of-conciousness aspects of the early part of the novel.  Still an interesting read with a good focus on developing character and internal monologue.

Favorite Passages:

“What a stroke of luck, that the woman he loves is also his wife.”

Recommended books: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
Rating:
 ***

Book Review: All Clear by Connie Willis

Author: Connie Willis
Title:
 All Clear
Publication Info: 
New York : Spectra, 2010.
ISBN: 
9780553807677
Previous Works By Same Author:
Summary/Review:
As noted in my review of Blackout this book is less of a sequel and more of a direct continuation of one lengthy work about three time travelers studying life in England in the early years of World War II.  Both books are part of a larger series of  loosely connected works by Connie Willis about a future Oxford University where graduate students in history are able to study the past by traveling through time via a mechanism known as the net.  I enjoy Willis’ approach to time travel fiction and particularly am impressed with her well-researched and detailed descriptions of contemporary life.
 The three main characters Polly, Eileen, and Michael finally met up toward the conclusion of Blackout and now begin working together to find a way to an open drop in the net that will return them to Oxford.  The mysterious characters of the previous book turn out to not be so mysterious after all and are woven fairly well into the narrative, although through unlikely coincidences that approach the edge of plausibility.   And yes, they do get out of the past (well, sort of) but the conclusion is satisfyingly unexpected.
I did find the greatest flaw of both of these novels is that a character will come up with an idea, will then discuss the same idea, and then carry out the idea which created a lot of unnecessary repetition  (especially since every attempt to return to the future is a flop).  If Willis could have tightened up the novel and created more tension if she did more showing and less telling, perhaps even condensing the story to one volume.  Still I found these lengthy tomes to be mesmerizing and read straight through to find out what would happen next, so it’s still an engaging work with a great attention to detail.
Rating: ***1/2
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