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Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher Mysteries.

Miss Fisher Mysteries was an Australian murder mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne and featuring Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher, a private detective, and Nathan Page as Inspector Jack Robinson. The series ran for three seasons and has gradually built a fan base, both in its native Australia and abroad. What sets the series apart from other period mystery series is not just its unconventional heroine, but its social conscience. Again and again, Phyrne stands up for the outcast and downtrodden against not only society, but her own family.

When the series ended, there was talk of a potential movie and I happy to say that the film finally looks like it’s going to happen. The producers are running a Kickstarter campaign and of this writing they working towards their stretch goal of $500,000. Click here to make your pledge. Every dollar you contribute makes this movie bigger and better.

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Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show (circa 1973), you may want to watch it before you read further as I will definitely be discussing plots points. Read on at your own risk.

 

I recently ran across two versions of that cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, that I thought I would share with you. The first is a “re-imagining” (you can say “re-make”, I know I do) of the film starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank N. Furter. As a transgender woman, Cox brings a refreshing, feminine energy to the part. If Tim Curry has the moves like Jagger, then Cox has the moves like James Brown and Tina Turner. The made-for-TV 2016 version is also tighter paced and emphasizes the rock ‘n roll roots of the original.

While there is no shortage of name talent in the show, I’d like to single out relative newcomer Staz Nair for his portrayal of Rocky. Although Nair has songs and some speaking lines, it’s his nonverbal body language and facial expressions that make the show. Nair invests Rocky with both great comic timing and a touching sensitivity.

The casting of Cox as a more feminine Frank does change the subtext of the story somewhat. In the original, the big reveal was straight-laced Brad’s latent homosexuality. In this new version, Janet’s dalliance with Cox and then with Rocky (the Creature) confirms her bi-sexuality. Frank’s jealous rage at Janet after her affair with Rocky has definite “lesbians in bondage” undertones.

In the 1973 film, Frank’s death at Riff-Raff’s hands is justified by Dr. Scott as protecting society–although what society is being protected from is never clear. Is it sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll? Kids from Transylvania and their loud music? Fishnet stockings? In the 2016 version, Frank’s execution seems to be a reference to the high levels of violence directed against transgender men and women.

While the 1973 film is probably the version of Rocky Horror that most people are familiar with, the show was originally a stage production. As a theatrical show, it is still performed all around the world with many different actors assaying the role of Frank and the other characters.

The following (bless you, YouTube) is a 2015 London stage production of Rocky Horror done as a fundraiser for Amnesty International. Stephen Frye is one of the guest narrators as is the musical’s author/composer, Richard O’Brien.

If you’re familiar with Rocky Horror, you know that audience interaction is encouraged and that there are set things for the audience to call out at various points during the movie. In a live show that tradition continues and the audiences sometimes levels up by shouting out new things to the actors which occasionally plays havoc with their composure.

David Bedella plays Frank in this production and brings a wicked charm to the part that’s a lot of fun to watch. If you’re wondering (as I did) who Bedella is and why you haven’t heard of this awesome actor before, the short answer is that Bedella is an American making his name across the pond in the London musical scene. In 2004, he won an Olivier award (the British equivalent of the Tonys) for his role in Jerry Springer: The Opera. As he was filming this version of Rocky Horror, Bedella was also in rehearsals for In The Heights for which he won a second Olivier for Best Supporting Actor (2016).

Verdict: Watch both versions and enjoy!

 

Re: Despacito

I really don’t need any proof that I’m tragically un-hip, but if I did, it would be right here: I learned about the hottest Latin song sweeping the nation from the “Guardian” website. The song is “Despacito” (check it out below).

Luis Fonsi, who is Puerto Rican, translates the song’s lyrics from Spanish to English and talks about his inspiration for the song in the below article from “Huffington Post”:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/despacito-lyrics-english-translation_us_59272008e4b062f96a34f844

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My colleague Marie: “Did you see that protesters climbed over the fence at Donald¬† Trump’s club in New Jersey and cut down some trees?”

Me: (disapprovingly) “Ooooo.”

Marie: “They are going to reboot ‘Dynasty'”.

Me: (also disapprovingly) “Ooooo.”

Marie: “I know, they’re pretty much the same, aren’t they?”

The most interesting part of Tom Hiddleston’s recent (February 14, 2017) interview with GQ magazine was the relevation that a photo of him and interviewer Taffy Brodesser-Akner had inspired a false news story. Briefly, Hiddleston and Taffy had been photographed hugging on the street after their interview and the photos had been published in the Daily Mail with some nudge-nudge-wink-wink-know -what-I-mean kind of captions e.g. “Hiddleston is seen embracing mystery brunette.” In a confluence of old and new media, the story then spread via social media with Taffy getting inquiries about her “relationship status” with Hiddleston from colleagues and family. [For the record, Taffy is happily married to fellow journalist Claude Brodesser].

Naturally, I had to compose a song to commemorate the event. Here is my effort set to “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon.

If you’ll be my internet boyfriend,
Can I be your mystery brunette?
The affair that never happened, baby,
That’s the one that’s hardest to forget.

Somebody took our picture and
Those photos got a million views.
Posted them up on the Web
My, how those Twitter rumors did ensue!

Husband saw the pictures
Asked me what was going on.
No worries, babe, I just hugged
Tom Hiddleston in London.

Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.

–Queen Jocasta (Oedipus Rex by Sophocles)

You leave the office for day and the whole place falls apart. I was off yesterday and returned to work to discover that another one of my archival colleagues, ground down and burnt out from trying to keep things running while the Arnorian government visits endless cuts on the university library, has given notice. That means that the Archives unit now only has two staff members to run the show which is completely impossible.¬† The impending shutdown of the Archives Research Room puts my Oral History unit in a quandary because we share space in the same area of the library. If the Research Room is closed, our patrons can’t reach us. We could move our operation, but where in the library would we go, space being at premium? And what will happen to the miles of manuscripts and millions of historical photos housed in the Archives itself which the university is legally obligated to care for? Unit heads meet next week to see if they can cobble together some sort of solution. If not, the day of reckoning will fall in about two weeks.

Of course, if the Arnorian State Legislature continues to shrink the university’s budget, the entire library will collapse in the new fiscal year thus rendering our operational crisis moot. The saga continues …..