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May 8, 2008:

AND QUIET FLOWS THE DON

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, how can it already be Thursday? This week is flying by, like a gazelle eating herring. I’m enjoying this week so much that I’d like it not to go by so damnably fast, but you cannot impede the flow of time, for the flow of time is inexorable, like a flowing river or a bean burrito. What the HELL am I talking about? In any case, it’s Thursday and there is nothing to be done about it because you cannot impede the flow of time although you can occasionally time the flow. Do you know what animal really appreciates a good flow? A wolf. But that’s because wolf is flow spelled backwards. Who knew? And Quiet Flows the Don. Where did that come from? Isn’t it funny – that was a Russian film that came out when I was but a wee sprig of a twig of a tad of a lad of a youth, and I saw a trailer for it, probably at the Lido or the Fine Arts. And I’ve never forgotten the title, and now it just popped out like a gazelle giving birth to a herring. That was surreal. Speaking of surreal, yesterday was a fine day. But before I tell you about it, the Don is a river. And apparently, it flows quietly, which is nice because if you’ve ever heard a loud Don you know how annoying it can be. Where was I? Oh, yes, yesterday. I got up rather late because I slept so damnably well. Then I had to leave and deliver the book manuscript to proofer number two. Then I did a couple of errands, then came home. I finished conforming the rest of the Brain script, and then I shipped about ten packages, did a couple more errands, and by that time the day was at an end. I made some Wacky Noodles™, which were excellently excellent. I then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. As you know, I’d seen it back in December and enjoyed it all right. Seeing it again was interesting, especially because at that time, when the film had just come out, people all over the Internet were castigating anyone who didn’t care for it. Well, seeing it a second time convinces me that it is not a great film. It has very good things in it, and some not so good things. The good: Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and the Johanna. The great: The boy who plays Toby, the most inspired casting in the film. The not-so-hot: Helena Bonham Carter – she just has been directed to be so lifeless that there’s no there there in her performance. The whispering drives me to distraction, from both her and Mr. Depp. Toby, of course, doesn’t whisper and also manages to be real and give a great performance. Note to today’s actors – learn from the kids. Speak up. Plus, the way Mrs. Lovett’s music is written almost demands energy and when there is none the songs just sort of sit there like so much fish. Continuing with the good: The sound of the score, the style of the film (for the most part), and the film’s brevity. The not-so-good: The CGI, which I found distracting and annoying, Sacha Baron Cohen, whom I just don’t “get” and who was simply not funny at all (to me) in a pretty foolproof role. When the menus on the DVD come up you can see that Warners is STILL trying to make believe it’s not a musical – I don’t even think the music that plays over the menus is from Sweeney Todd at all. The extras on a second disc are just what you’d expect – all puff pieces done before the film was finished, except for a November 2007 press conference that I found completely unwatchable. There are no outtakes, no Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (which was recorded, or so I’ve heard), and not much of interest at all. And then there’s the gore – I had no problem with the over-the-top throat slashings, but having the chair tilt backwards so that the bodies could land on their heads was completely disgusting and unnecessary. The transfer is fine, but could be better, only they save better for Blu-Ray nowadays. Note to idiots at studios – there wouldn’t BE Blu-Ray without the loyal millions who invested in standard DVD. Don’t spit in the faces of your customers, as it is most unseemly.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because it’s already midnight and quiet flows the Don. I’ll tell you one Don who did not flow quietly – Rickles.

Today, I have a one-hour work session with Mr. Michael B. Druxman for the musical of his that I’m mentoring. After that, I have several errands to attend to, and a few more packages to ship. Other than that, the day and evening are mine all mine.

Tomorrow, I don’t have much planned for the day, but if Jose wants to see the Brain, we’ll head out to the Heim of Ana around three-thirty and have a nice leisurely meal somewhere – perhaps we’ll introduce Jose to the pleasures of either Claim Jumper or The Cheesecake Factory.

I’ll see both shows on Saturday, but I’ll forego the matinee on Sunday. I hope to get proofer number two’s fixes back within the next few days, then I’ll enter those, and then hopefully next week Mr. Grant Geissman can start designing the book. I’m also going to send it out for blurbs in the next few weeks.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a work session, do errands, ship packages, do a second go-through of the Brain script, and then find something amusing to eat. Today’s topic of discussion: If you could take any musical in history and turn it into a new film, what would it be, who would direct it, and who would star? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and do remember, and quiet flows the Don.

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