The Three Most Important Problems in “Beauty and the Beast”

(Image from Animation Magazine.)

I had very little inclination to see the live-action Beauty and the Beast after seeing multiple clips and hearing half the soundtrack, but as it so happens I am in love with a certain someone who wanted very badly to see this movie, and we all make concessions in the name of love, as clearly demonstrated in the aforementioned movie. I have many strong opinions about so many things in this movie (then again, I have strong opinions about basically everything), but these are the three things I have deemed The Most Important Problems.*

*Those of you who know me may be surprised that the aggressively mediocre singing is not one of my three Big Problems with this movie, to which I say this**: yes, the bland auto-tuned, digitally constructed lifeless android singing voice of the otherwise lovely Emma Watson is cringe-worthy, and Gaston’s lack of deep baritone goodness is a crime, but Disney was kind enough to warn us all going in by pre-releasing recordings. Hats off, actually, to the sound engineers, who are the real heroes for creating something out of almost nothing and preventing this from becoming a Les Miz/Mamma Mia/Phantom of the Opera-level, aurally offensive mess.

**I told you I have very strong opinions about basically everything.

Problem the First
Before the “Be Our Guest” scene, the harpsichord comes out to play and the other enchanted objects urge him to play more quietly. “Sotto voce,” the harpsichord responds in confirmation.

Ahem.

HARPSICHORDS HAVE A FIXED VOLUME AND CANNOT PLAY MORE QUIETLY AND THE HARPSICHORD HIMSELF SHOULD KNOW THAT. SHAME ON YOU, HARPSICHORD.***

***”But it’s a double-manual harpsichord, so he could simply play the quieter manual and that would count as playing quietly!” you protest. That was my thought too, reader, but I’m pretty sure I saw both manuals going so either Mr. Harpsichord is full of it or he’s just too fed up to correct his friends.

Problem the Second
Yeah, it’s the harpsichord again. In another moment in the movie, he plays the theme from the “Funeral March” movement of Chopin’s second sonata as a gag.

Excuse me, but the movie is pretty clearly set in the baroque era, SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE CHOPIN, AND THEREFORE THIS THEME, EVEN EXISTED. #SORRYNOTSORRY FOR THE CAPS LOCK, THIS PARTICULAR ANACHRONISM REALLY IRKS ME.

Problem the Third
Finally, not a harpsichord problem! In the closing ballroom scene, it appears that the violinists are playing with modern and not period bows. For a movie that took such great pains to make a period-appropriate harpsichord come to life, it’s a real shame they couldn’t rustle up some period bows for the violinists. ARE THE VIOLINISTS TIME-TRAVELERS? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, DISNEY!

That is all. I bring this post to you because the internet is already saturated with a deluge of thinkpieces about whether this remake is too derivative of the animated original, whether LeFou’s outrageously rampant gayness is awesome, terrible, or will cause the world to implode upon itself, how the movie is too feminist, how the movie is not feminist enough, etc. etc. etc. I can promise you that hardly any of these essays will talk about accuracy in harpsichord portrayal, or musical anachronism in a movie where none of the musical numbers are remotely close to being in the baroque style. So here I am, a random person with strong opinions who picked a weird hill to die on, to offer my thoughts. You’re welcome, internet.

But Disney, I have to give you credit for featuring a harpsichord as a character. A+ for effort in raising harpsichord awareness.

Continue Reading

The Sunday Reading Roundup

For the past couple of months I’ve wrestled* with a not-very-important conundrum: I read or see about two zillion interesting things on the Internet every week and I’m not totally sure how to share them all with people. My email inbox is a needy problem child I avoid looking at as much as possible, I don’t like spamming Facebook, I’ve fallen off the Tumblr wagon (and forgotten my password), and the 140-character limit on Twitter is, well, a little limiting.

*by “wrestled,” I mean “I thought about this once or twice, since most of my time is spent figuring out this practice/work/life balance nonsense.” Y’know, just in case you people think I’m incapable of prioritizing like a real adult.

Then I was all “Duh, Sharon, you have a blog where you can post anything you want!”

So here’s the Sunday Reading Roundup, a thing I am starting because it is now past midnight on a Saturday, so it’s too late to call this the Saturday Reading Roundup. There is no real rhyme or reason to things making it on to here; this is just a list of recent-ish things I’ve found interesting.

Articles

Vanity Fair: “The Celebrity Surgeon Who Used Love, Money, and the Pope to Scam an NBC News Producer
A fascinating serving of a real-life fantasy and an elaborate con, with a generous side of wtf-ery.

The Toast: “What Goes Through Your Mind: On Nice Parties and Casual Racism
A well-articulated piece that unfortunately resonates too familiarly. The comments are thoughtful and worth a read as well.

Mother Jones: “Here’s What I Saw in a California Town Without Running Water
This drought, you guys.

The New York Times: “The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience’
A thought-provoking piece that explores the dark side of society celebrating the idea of resilience.

The New Yorker: “Unfollow
A long-ish read, but a very compelling story about the role that social media played in drawing Megan Phelps-Roper away from the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Washington Post: “A Survivor’s Life
A heartbreaking account of one survivor’s life after the Umpqua Community College mass shooting.

Social Media

Reddit: “What is something someone said that changed your way of thinking forever?
I was startled by how much I learned from this thread.

Dear Coquette: “On the eye of the beholder”
Whoa. This was freaking beautiful.

Twitter: @mozart____ and @Beethoven_____ 
Not affiliated with whoever is behind these accounts, but I just discovered them, and they’re hilarious. I love how Mozart is constantly ragging on Clementi and Beethoven on Hummel, and sometimes they get into Twitter-fights with Haydn. #ihavenolife

Actual Books

John Pollack: The Pun Also Rises
As seen on Instagram. This was a delightful and surprisingly educational quick read, and definitely worth it if you love wordplay half as much as I do.

Aziz Ansari: Modern Romance
I re-read this after gifting it to two people in December, and it’s one of those books I’d recommend to pretty much anyone. It’s entertaining, thought-provoking, and super duper fascinating.

Disclaimer: I’ve used Amazon affiliate links, which mean I get a tiny commission (at no cost to you) if you buy anything through clicking the book links. If you prefer not to use the links, Google is your friend.

Miscellaneous (Not really reading)

I love this cartoon way too much.

I finally listened to Hamilton. (Don’t laugh! I have a tendency to avoid things that are super-hyped because they’re usually horribly disappointing, or just horrible—I’m looking at you, Frozen. Enough people with good taste recommended this so I gave in.) I know you’re probably sick of hearing people gush about how good Hamilton is, but OMG IT’S SO GOOD. I’ve been listening to this on repeat for days now. I’ve gone to bed late several nights in a row because I couldn’t stand to stop listening. Lin-Manuel Miranda, what have you done to me??

Continue Reading

Autocomplete Me


I forget exactly how I found Autocomplete Me, but it showcases, via Google’s autocomplete search suggestions, some strange keywords and terms that apparently are actually Googled quite often. Already some of the entries have made me laugh uncontrollably out loud, and I have, on occasion, entered the search query myself to see if these are real. (Some are, some aren’t.)

Plus, the accompanying captions are hilarious.


Continue Reading