For several years now there’s been a glut of movies being turned into musicals, some getting big unexplainable runs on Broadway while others languished in obscurity.
Dangerous Beauty is one of my favorite movies, featuring the Venice of centuries ago and, more importantly, a beautiful redhead who happens to have the same last name as me. . . the character, not the actress. So imagine my surprise a few years ago when I was reading an online article and saw the ad for it coming to the Pasadena Playhouse, which I lived close to at the time.
At the time, it was the only play I went to twice.
Two things made it particularly special: the score, done by the amazing Amanda McBroom of The Rose fame (as well as her turn as Picard’s lawyer ex on Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Jenny Powers as Veronica Franco.
Among some of the fantastic songs were “I Am Venice,” “Until Tomorrow Comes,” “I Will Love You Now,” “Lions of the Sea,” “Stripping Venice,” and “City of Lies.” But easily the greatest is the closing number, alternatively called “Confession” and “I Will Not Repent.”
Whereas earlier in the show I was taken in by the delicacy Jenny brings to her vocals, a certain sweetness, here it’s the very definition of a power ballad.
Here’s the thing, though. Because it’s a stage production, there’s no video of an actual performance. Instead I found a live recital at a restaurant. Doesn’t matter, it still works. The lyrics, that last note. . . amazing.
A Thief in Venice
This is a BDSM erotica novel by Tara Crescent, set in Venice, as the title implies. The main character is a female curator at the Doge‘s Palace, whose parents were in the Thieves Guild; in tribute to their memories she steals a painting each year, though she rationalizes that she’s returning previously stolen art to their rightful owners. Caught stealing from the head of the Guild, he makes her choose between the pain of being beaten up by a couple of thugs and the pain of erotic punishment, or as the writers of the Sherlock series termed it, “recreational scolding.”
I originally picked up this book because it took place in one of my favorite cities in the world, where I’ve spent months exploring every nook and cranny, and the writings of human sexuality definitely do not offend me. But there wasn’t very much on the city, and other than a few intriguing psychological tidbits I found myself becoming bored after a while. Guess recreational scolding isn’t really my thing. . . 3/5
China A to Z
As you might expect from the title, this book by May-lee Chai and Winberg Chai is intended to explain to the foreigner some of the facets of the most populous country in the world. It is by no means encyclopedic, as there are some topics that I thought should be touched on but were not. Still, there were plenty of useful explanations about things I’d wondered about, as well as topics that had never crossed my mind. In the end I felt as though I had definitely gotten to know the culture better, even if I wasn’t utterly convinced I’d want to go back there after several not-very-enjoyable trips. 3.5/5
X-Files: Year Zero
Another 5-episode 100-page comic. This story is basically a frame to show the very first X-File in the 1940s, and even explains how it came to be called that. Mulder of course gets some funny snark; there’s one superb line about his friend in the Pacific Northwest who loves a damned fine cup of coffee.
Of the three comics I’ve read and reviewed, this is probably my least favorite. The witty repartee between the leads is always welcome, but the plot wasn’t all that great; It read like an ok episode of the series. 3/5
Rome Is Burning
A thriller by Roy A. Teel Jr.—a sequel, missed the first one—that uses the Santa Ana winds in a terrorist attack to set fire to all of Los Angeles. This is incredibly scary, because it just might be possible. Other than that, the conspiracy theories and the sheer sadism of most involved–both good and bad guys–is just too much for me, even for fiction. 2.5/5