Cultural Villainy

This afternoon/evening, I found myself discussing various voice and talking style stereotypes in American English and in Japanese (from Japan, of course*).

It all started with seeing the film “Aladdin” in the cinema this afternoon, and then, over ice cream afterward, we veered onto Disney music and its composers a lyricists (and how amazing some of the greats are[!!!]).

Then we branched into the Japanese versions of this music, as the friend with me is Japanese, and she grew up only hearing the Japanese language versions of the songs.

We discussed differences I had found in the music, and why I thought each one was so… now that she has been living in the US for about a year, she saw exactly what I meant and genuinely understood.

“Colors of the Wind” sounds somewhat stressed and so compounded and busy in Japanese, yet the English sounds so open and contemplative, filled with deep breaths and space through the notes and the words… there are just too many syllables in the Japanese, and too many consonants in between all the vowels…

An American likely would be appalled at hearing the Japanese version of Scar’s voice, because the voice doesn’t match the type of villain that he is… it is not entitled and brooding and, almost like serial killer style, the voice of someone who is biding his time until his plot can unfurl perfectly to his advantage – until, at last, he is granted his dues, as Scar says.

To American ears, the Japanese Scar in pathetic and angry and holds no weight behind his short-man angry yelling of a voice, desperately hoping someone will listen to him and do what he wants others to do.

And yet, to Japanese ears, the Japanese Scar is exactly right: He is the stereotypical ‘bad guy’ voice and has that same ‘bad guy’ and ‘villain’ manner of speaking… the English version would sound just ‘American’, and have nothing special tied to it for Japanese ears.

And my friend was able to see and hear just these things, and mainly because she has become accustomed to hearing so many different ways of speaking that people have here in English (unlike Japanese English in Japan, which is pretty much always the same).

And, somehow, I found the whole situation to be fascinating and utterly fulfilling… I had never really thought quite so much and quite so pointedly about the translations and the voices of actors until today, though it certainly was not my first or, even, tenth time considering it all.

It had me feel an almost silly passion for Disney and, in particular, “The Lion King”, and yet I couldn’t find a reason not to care so much about it all – I love languages and music and seeing things in new ways, and these Disney movies had huge impacts on my childhood and, therefore, my life as a whole… they are a part of me… and I care about and love myself.

So, I guess I get to love those Disney films, too, silly little perfect details and all. 🙂

By the way, I went into “Aladdin” with an attitude of its being a different film and perspective of the same story as the animated version…, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film – it was wonderful(!).

And it was filmed in Jordan(!)… how cool is that?!

I don’t often go to cinemas these days (in the US, anyway), but I am glad I went today – it was a lovely experience. 🙂

*Does Japanese have a culture of native speakers anywhere else in the world?

Post-a-day 2019

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For Tonight

I love theatre, especially the musical kind.

Tonight, after much work on the part of many people, we finally got to sit down and watch an official, real, full performance of the world premier of the musical “For Tonight“.

Throughout its preparation and rehearsal time, I had learned all about the story of the show, and didn’t think anything super special about it…

Upon my actually sitting in one of the final run-throughs to do notes, I heard, for the first time, the music, the songs…

And I spent a good portion of the show, to varying degrees, in tears – it was that wonderful and beautiful.

Tonight, after seeing the whole show, with everything mostly polished and actually in order, I fell even more in love with this show and its music.

Let’s be real here: I want a CD right now, so I can listen to those voices singing those songs over and over (and over) again, until the words ride within me on their own… at the moment, I can feel the music inside me, swirling around, whooshing to the various rhythms and beats…, I just don’t have all the words in there, nor any sort of organization going from one song to another…

After tonight, I have my mental fingers crossed like crazy to have an album recorded, which would be totally awesome, using this cast of voices – I love these voices, both individually and as a whole cast.

Yumm… that’s how wonderful the Romani and all the others sound – you just want to eat them up, but savor them, too, like your favorite food/dessert.

Post-a-day 2019

Friends in action

There is a bit of a tizzy going on amongst those sitting in the director’s circle, just after my friend begins her solo song. I hear something like an ‘I don’t Know,’ from the circle as Blue Sweater turns ’round, shaking his head intensely with an air of sighing disbelief.

“Are you talking about the rag that was left behind?” I ask, since she had just had to step over a dropped white rag from the previous scene.

“What?”

I repeat.

“No. HER,” he says, somewhat dramatically, tipping his head toward the girl on stage, toward my friend. “She’s …perfection. She’s… she’s just perfection,” he says, hands flying with something like exasperation.

‘Oh.’ I agree… a few moments of silent awe follow, as everyone watches her on stage.

Shaking his head, “I mean, she has to know how perfect she is… she Has to know – I Have to give her the note,” and he flips open and begins writing in a notebook.

Everyone watching the stage is smiling, and they are smiles from deep within.

🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Bedtime routine…

I wanted to go read, because I didn’t want to think about what to write…,

But then I thought about how I would be thinking all along in the back of my mind about things I could use for writing, as well as maintaining that semi-constant reminder that also resides back there to make sure I write before I go to bed…

And so I came and sat down on my magical handmade chair… thing – I think it’s possibly a stool, technically, and “magical” just felt right, because it is special to me, not because it is a regular Hermione Granger or anything of the sort – and picked up the little phone – “little” being totally relative, because it is definitely not Zoolander sized, but it also is loads smaller than the first many versions of phones, as well as the most recent iPad-type mobile phones – here to write something…

Apparently this is what I ended up writing for tonight – and “For Tonight” is the name of a musical that is about to have its world premier here in Houston(!)… 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Barbie therapy

Sometimes, a Barbie musical is just the way to go.

When I lived and studied in Wien (Vienna, Austria), I hit a point of lonesome depression as the Fall weather of constant overcast skies and regular rain took its place over the city.

When talking one night with my best friend, she and her then-boyfriend, now-husband, declares that my tasks for the rest of the evening were to go for a walk outside (bundled up, of course), and then to watch a Barbie musical movie.

That way, I got outside air and some physical movement in, plus I got a really good, feel-good story and music.

Turns out, their prescription was perfect, and it still is useful to this day – whenever I’m feeling lonesome and/or down, a walk and a Barbie musical movie fill me with fresh air and cozy comfort.

And even tonight, when I wasn’t particularly down, but just wanted some love, watching Barbie’s “Princess and the Pauper” gave me those loving snuggles I was craving.

Plus, it always feels good to have the bad guy in a story end up on bottom and the good guys to end up on top – Barbie movies are always sure of having that happen!

Also, the bloopers at the end are tops – an even better ending than the wonderful happy ending the film already has. 😛

Post-a-day 2018

Musicals

“Prince Siddhartha: The Musical”

Go see it – it’s wonderful.

It kind of felt like someone did what the makers of “Urinetown” did, how they took famous bits of other shows and included them in “Urinetown” (e.g. the “Evita” portrait in the mob, or the waving of the flag from “Les Misérables”), but just taking songs from famous musicals…. not that they stole anything – just that they were inspired strongly by those famous songs, especially in terms of the orchestra’s role and notes.

Nonetheless, it was a nice musical, and I kind of want the soundtrack now, so I can sing all the songs. 🙂

Post-a-day 2018