Thursday, December 27, 2012

Practice after being drunk on carbs; why do more Americans not like musicals?

Practice this morning was... interesting, because of the combination of physical heaviness and emotional heaviness in me. There was emotional heaviness, because of the lingering effects of watching Les Miserables yesterday; as I was breathing and moving through the asanas, bits and pieces of songs from Les Miz would come into my mind, and I would actually get goosebumps. There was also physical heaviness, because after watching Les Miz yesterday, I went to a Mexican restaurant and indulged in my secret Mexican vice: Huevos Rancheros! I probably have enough cholesterol in my system right now to last me the entire week, maybe even the rest of the month. Why do I do this to myself? I don't know; there's just something about packing a lot of carbs and protein and corn into myself every now and again that is mind-numbingly satiating; getting drunk on carbs, if you will.

Despite the physical and emotional heaviness, I still did a pretty satisfactory full primary. Took longer breaths in the standing postures, ala Grimmly. And in the finishing backbends, I did six UDs instead of the standard three, because I felt that I needed to do more to open my body for dropbacks and standups. The whole practice took an hour and a half. Not exactly Sharath's pace, but respectable enough, I think, especially given the extra things I did.


This morning, I had some more time to think about Les Miserables, and to ponder the question of why more Americans do not like musicals. As I understand it, the Golden Age of musicals in America was during the forties and fifties, when Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote all their wonderful pieces (Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc), and when the likes of Judy Garland entertained millions with their on-screen singing. In the ensuing decades since, despite a few attempts to revive the genre here and there (Chicago, Hairspray, etc.), the musical has never quite caught back on. I get the sense that most Americans think musicals are weird or dorky.

Why do they think this? I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps many Americans think that musicals are weird because they require the audience to suspend too many common-sense beliefs about reality. For example, a student in one of my classes a few semesters ago said, "In real life, people don't break out into song after they have been shot and are dying! They just... die." Interesting point.

Another related reason for the lack of general interest in musicals may be this: The very nature of singing requires the singer to maintain a sort of artistic distance between what she is expressing through her singing and the emotion that is supposedly conveyed through the singing. I know this is a very awkward way of saying what I'm trying to say, but think about it this way: If you are really, really sad and devastated about something, you probably wouldn't be singing about your sadness. You would be crying, sobbing, bawling or doing whatever else it is that you do when you give vent to your emotions. Being able to sing about something requires you to put a certain poetic distance between you and the raw emotions that you are supposedly feeling. I suspect that it is the presence of this poetic distance that alienates many people from musicals: After all, "real people" do not sing when they are sad. They just cry or sob or bawl or whatever. So musicals are "not real", from this point of view.

I don't really know if the above represent the reasons why many Americans do not like musicals (although I think I am on to something). I also don't really want to change anybody's minds about musicals. After all, as one reviewer puts it, "Either you are in or you are out when it comes to musicals." There is no middle ground.

This may be so. But I wouldn't be doing my duty if I don't make at least a feeble attempt at possibly changing somebody's mind. So here goes. To its credit, the latest interpretation of Les Miz actually makes a very credible attempt at bridging the artistic distance between artistic expression and emotion. It does this by having its performers sing their parts while they are filming, instead of pre-recording everything in the studio and then having the actors lip-synch on screen. This, combined with lots of extreme close-ups of the actors while they are singing and emoting, gives a certain immediacy to the delivery. For instance, take a look at Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream", which was sung and filmed in a single take... well, actually, it looks like they don't have the actual scene on Youtube yet. But I found a clip below that at least has her voice in it. Take a listen. And then maybe go see the movie. And then maybe you'll change your mind about musicals. Or not :-)


  1. I LOVE musicals - perhaps because I am one of those rare people who does actually (although not in the 'heat' of the moment, of course), express myself through song. I still remember bawling my way through Les Mis when I saw it on stage at a tender young pre-teenager. I'm looking forward to the movie!

    1. I actually have a theory that people who saw Les Miz for the first time in their teens are much more likely to like it, as opposed to people who saw it for the first time later in life. There's something about the over-the-top expressions of emotion and idealism, especially in the second part of the musical, that would probably appeal more to hot-blooded teens than to relatively jaded adults... at any rate, this is my personal theory.

      Good luck on your move back to Canada from East Timor! I think 8 years is a very good amount of time to live in a place and let it change you as a person. I lived in Florida for 8 years too, as a grad student, and learned so much from my time there; actually, I don't think I would have ever discovered yoga if I never lived in Florida.

    2. Thanks Nobel! 8 years is a very nice amount of time, and they do say that 8 is a "magic" number - for me, it's definitely the right time for me to move on. Good luck with your own upcoming move and happy new year!

  2. Not a fan of musicals here either although I tolerate Oliver, West Side Story obviously and do put Fiddler on the Roof in my top ten movies of all time. Looking at that cast for this I can't help but wish they had made a non musical adaptation of hugo's book, been too long ....although of course we had the fugitive.

    1. Actually, somebody did make a non-musical adaptation of Les Miz a few years ago, starring Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. I haven't seen it, but I hear it was well-received.

      Yes, I also love West Side Story ("There's a place for us, somewhere a place for us...")


    Why American men should not marry American women

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don't know how to cook or clean, don't want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    I encourage ALL American men to NEVER MARRY American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    Tens of millions of American men have had their lives completely destroyed by American women through the following crimes:

    1. False rape accusations (it has been proven that up to 80 percent of rape accusations are FALSE)

    2. False domestic violence (DV) charges (same as above, and up to 40 percent of domestic violence victims are MALE, with their female partners INITIATING the violence)

    3. False sexual harassment charges

    4. Financial destruction of men in divorce courts through alimony and support payments (women get up to 95 percent of their ex-husband's income and savings, as well as the house, car, etc)

    5. Emotional destruction of men by ex-wives who have stolen their children from them and forbidden the fathers from having custody or contact with their own children

    6. Divorced dads who commit suicide as a result

    A few more reasons to stay away from American women?

    -25 percent of American women take psychiatric drugs for mental illnesses.
    -25 percent of women under the age of 30 have at least one STD.
    -85 percent of divorces in America are INITIATED by women, thus women are responsible for the vast majority of divorces.
    -70 percent of criminals in America were raised by single mothers, thus feminism is responsible for most crime in America.
    -The majority of child molestation, child abuse, and child murder in America is done by WOMEN.
    -American women are NINE TIMES more likely to murder their own children than the biological father

    Another thing I noticed, is that whenever you bring up the topic of American men marrying asian women in front of an American woman, she will make some racist and hateful comment about asian women, calling them "slaves" or "mail order brides". My question is this: If American women are so "independent", "confident", "strong", and "empowered" like they claim to be, why do they feel threatened by Asian women? Why are American women so jealous towards Asian women? The real reason is this- Asian women are 1000 times superior to American women, and any American man who has dated/married an Asian woman will tell you this.

    If you want to get married, find a nice foreign girl from Asia, or South America, or Russia/Eastern Europe. DO NOT MARRY AN AMERICAN WOMAN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

    Over 50 percent of American women are single, without a boyfriend or husband; so the fact is most American men no longer want to marry American women. Let these worthless American women grow old living alone with their 10 cats.

    American women are living in their own pathetic little fantasy world, where they think they are a perfect little princess. Sorry, but you are NOT a perfect little princess.

    Give American women the husband they deserve- NONE!


  4. Dear Anonymous,
    it seems to me that if all of your reasons for boycotting American women were good reasons (and I personally do not think they are), you would have to boycott not just American women, but ALL women. Actually, you would probably have to boycott all human beings, because there are many human beings everywhere who don't know how to cook, clean, who are liable to get fat, and who would probably divorce you and/or rob you of your money at the drop of a hat (or at the drop of your pants, whichever happens earlier).

    So if your argument is correct, you would have to boycott all human beings (go marry a robot, maybe?).

    Good luck with that...