Episode 235: Eponine Can’t Ask Out Her Gay Boyfriend

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather wrap up the holiday’s Amazon Affiliate promotion, make a major announcement about the OTI 5th Anniversary Party in NYC on January 26, talk 48fps, consider the film adaptation of the Les Miserables musical, and read your pop culture New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a full episode.

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15 Comments on “Episode 235: Eponine Can’t Ask Out Her Gay Boyfriend”

  1. Chris #

    I meant to tweet at you guys vis a vis my resolution, but I got too preoccupied with football and what not, so I didn’t get around to it. My plan is to finish catching up on the notable movies of 2011 so I can move onto the notable movies of 2012.

    Also, Tim’s mention of listening to new music reminded me of when Stokes had that plan to listen to a bunch of new music and then write about it. And then, of course, he succeeded wildly in fulfilling this plan and nobody was left wanting.

     
  2. cat #

    Glad you’re having your 5th Anniversary celebration in NY. Will try my very best to make it.

     
  3. cat #

    I haven’t seen the movie yet because I think I’m going to feel the same way Mark does. And part of that is due to something you discussed towards the end of the episode, which is the way I first encountered the musical. I didn’t see the stage production. I heard “On My Own” performed in a musical review and then I learned a lot of the songs to perform with my choir. So the music has become my primary focus. And I have always had a problem with Hugh Jackman’s vowels. What’s interesting about a song like “On My Own” is for the most part it doesn’t have a lot of lyrical content specific to the character or the situation. It’s not “Marian the Librarian”. You can divorce it from the musical and find your own meaning in it.

    My sense of the filming techniques is that it assumes there’s something lacking in the story. There’s a certain lack of respect for the music and the book when you feel like it’s necessary or useful to employ unusual camera angles.

     
  4. Nick #

    Meth and Geysers and Bears, Oh My!

     
  5. IEGeth #

    I’m going to admit something that, as a theatre major, may or may not surprise you.

    I do not care for “Les Mis.”

    Part of it, and it hits on some things that I have heard from other people. The show has been over-saturated. Aside from the musical reviews, the producers released a “student version” of the show long before they released the general performance rights, leading the show to become a mainstay of high school drama departments long before others could see it performed elsewhere. In particular, my school performed the show twice in a four year period (the fact that they released the general rights the next year was the reason for the second performance.)

    I find a lot of popular Broadway shows have the music become popular, while the story fades in obscurity. Rent, Avenue Q (at least at my college, and four years late at that,) Wicked, and some other shows are all popular- at least, the music is. I have no ready explanation for this. Aside from the reviews, did anyone hear the music for the show elsewhere? I noticed that, of the people who were really excited about the movie, only a few majored in theatre. Most of the really excited people were only passingly acquainted with the theatre. I wonder if this has something to do with it, or if I am just quite isolated in my peer group.

     
    • fenzel #

      I wasn’t a theatre major, but I took a lot of theatre classes in college, and I’d say the enthusiasm for Les Mis was much more on the high school level than the college level. Maybe that was a timing thing (the show’s really huge time was back in the 80s, after all, and I lived in New Jersey), but maybe it has to do with the show not having parts that serious theatre students want to play.

      The other place other than musical reviews or vocal recitals where I encountered Les Mis was in piano sheet music. My sisters and all I played piano at one point or another (I played it for seven years starting when I was very small and never not sucked at it), so gifts of sheet music were not uncommon — and I remember the big honking engraving of Cosette and the French Flag staring up at me from the front of the sheet music book on top of the sheet music basket.

      That image was really pervasive in itself. Back then they advertised Broadway shows pretty aggressively on television — probably because Broadway shows were more local, but also because this was a very specific sort of “golden” age for Broadway — Cats, Phantom, Les Mis, Miss Saigon — these huge, epic, pretty serious spectacles really pulled in the tourists and the New Jerseyites in a different way than Avenue Q, Book of Mormon or even Wicked.

      I’m not saying they pulled in more — I really have no idea and I know they’ve all been popular — I mean it just felt different — maybe it was because the ticket prices were a bit more manageable, so more people could conceivably go, but mostly I think it was because the default color palette for everything was really dark and heavy at a time when culture in general (the late 80s into the very beginning of the 90s) was very bright and colorful and fluffy.

      It’s easy to forget, since it seems so historical and is based on classical sources, that Les Mis debuted on Broadway the same year that Dirty Dancing came out.

      So, yeah, I remember those heavy, grinding, slowing chords and cadences playing in TV advertisements a lot. So I knew it was this serious sad thing that sort of smelled like wine, and I didn’t understand the picture of the girl (who I thought was a boy because his shirt was coming off).

      But this was all a solid 8 years before I heard any of the songs.

       
      • cat #

        I understand “Seasons of Love” from Rent but I question whether the songs from “Wicked” really function apart from the musical. Even when they’re featured on Glee, it’s pretty clear the songs are from the show. I mean, they made a point of going to the actual theater.

        But do you think a song is better or worse if it functions apart from its original context. I’m thinking of all the love songs from musicals (both popular and more forgotten) that are now standards though a lot of people don’t connect them with the original source.

         
        • fenzel #

          As for Wicked I find that Stephen Schwartz songs are sort of like that, although I’m not really familiar with Godspell.

          Pippin certainly has a bunch of fun songs that just don’t work outside the context of the musical at all, and “Corner of the Sky” is just so incredibly different in context and out of context that after you see the show it’s kind of disturbing to hear the song sung unironically. Even more so with “Morning Glow” or anything like that.

          And “Enchanted” dominated the Oscars for best song, but who sings those songs or has them on their iPod or iPhone or whatever anymore? “Happy Working Song” can’t really stand alone the way “Whistle While You Work” can.

          And if you, like me, have attempted “Colors of the Wind” at karaoke, you know that, while it’s a charming joy to sing, it’s silly enough in the context of _Pocahontas_ and patently ridiculous outside of it.

          I don’t think this detracts from the songs that much, though — all these examples and many more totally, completely nail it in their shows — and even in the popular consciousness, so long as the show is also in the forefront of the popular consciousness to provide context.

          This is all part of the Oklahoma! revolution, of course — of American musical theater using song to communicate important action and character development in the show rather than as modular entertainments that can be easily pulled out and played on the radio.

          Not that it happened all at once, of course, but it is pretty amazing to watch something like _Babes in Arms_, when they bust out “The Lady is a Tramp” virtually out of nowhere, and consider how different it is from stuff that comes out less than a decade later.

          Perhaps quotable movie one-liners are similar — the more they are entertainments that everyone goes to see, the easier it is for them to have parts you can pull out and use elsewhere. But as their audience becomes more specialized, they focus on that audience more, refine what they are going after more, and cut off loose threads that are easy to pull at to make the product more focused. Thus, perhaps, niche films are less quotable, like niche musicals are less singable out of context.

           
  6. The Eye Collector #

    I don’t know yet whether I agree with Mark’s criticism of Hugh Jackman’s performance, as the film doesn’t come out in the UK for another couple of weeks. However, I would highly suggest watching Alfie Boe’s performance of Bring Him Home from the 25th anniversary concert at the O2 in London. It’s fascinating to see that although the O2 is a huge arena venue, he manages to pitch his performance it at a level that also works when you watch the DVD. He may have been helped by the fact that because the venue is so large, they used big screens so the audience could see the actors’ faces in close-up. I think the cast must have been directed to play a little ‘smaller’ so it wasn’t overwhelming on-screen.

    There’s also an interesting debate going on in the comments thread on the YouTube video of Boe’s perfomance comparing him with Jackman and Colm Wilkinson (who actually appears in the film as the innkeeper).

     
  7. George #

    I feel I speak for many who would prefer to read what people have to say rather than listen to them speak. On that note, is there any plans to provide transcripts of the podcast, or some other typed record of the things stated?

     
    • fenzel #

      This could potentially be a cool thing to do if the podcast built up enough listeners to draw in some sponsorship so we could pay for a transcription service or technology solution.

      As it is, we turn around the podcast as fast as we can right after we record it. There aren’t resources or manpower right now to add a transcription ourselves and have it be timely.

      So, the best thing to do if you’d like us to be able to provide a transcript is to toss us a 5-star review on iTunes, tell your friends to give us a try, and hope we grow enough that it’s more feasible.

      Hopefully you enjoy our articles, and thanks for the feedback.

       
    • Matthew Wrather #

      Yeah, it’s a neat idea—and very useful for a load of reasons having to do with search engines—and we’ve looked into it. It’s prohibitively expensive to have audio transcribed last time I checked. Even for $1/min, which would be on the low end, we’d be paying on average $70 per episode, or $3640/year just for OTIP. Nonstarter.

      I’m also not aware of a lot of audio podcasts that transcribe regularly. If you know of some, please let me know. I’d love to know how they get it done.

      One thing a lot of podcasts I know do have is a wiki—which we could definitely do if there was interest.

       
  8. Matthew Wrather #

    Lazyweb: What is Soundcloud and should the podcast be on it?

     
  9. Emil #

    Finally, a podcast about Django Framework! Something I’m very familiar with!

     
  10. Gab #

    Oh yeah, the Sailor Moon box set you mentioned last time you talked about the kickback thingydo was a gift to myself. Nostalgia is fun, but kind of bad for the bank account. ;p

    (Sidenote: Sailor Moon is being completely rebooted in anime form this year… I’m so friggin’ excited, holycrap!)

    Also, Fenzel, Gamestop claims the Wii U had a “successful” release. So there’s hope!

    Alas, I wish I was in NY. :( But happy, happy anniversary, guys! I’d mail you an anniversary card, but asking for addresses would be kind of creepy…

    I was rather let down by Jackman’s performance- he’s been on Broadway and proven his singing chops in the past, so his underwhelming singing was kind of surprising. I wonder if this is because of how they filmed it- they recorded the singing on-set, not in a studio, and the actors were really excited because it meant they could, well, act more in-the-moment when they were singing. So maybe the “aaaacting” took precedent over the singing? Like the vibrato you mentioned, Lee, maybe he was so caught up in the scene’s meaning, he was letting that take over his musicality?

    And maybe that happened with some of the other people…?

    Sigh… I probably am missing the point, but I can’t help but get really, really annoyed with the love stories where they know they have to be together for the rest of their lives… without even exchanging more than a few words. Romeo and Juliet? Idiots. Marius and Cosette? Morons. “Contrived” is a lot more gracious than I’d be. Ugh. I was soooo sad for Eponine, both when I saw the show live and in the movie theater. I don’t really think I’d say, “Who cares about love,” though, but rather, “Who cares about that love?” Eponine dies in said war for a love I find much more compelling- and the war was part of why Marius never saw her the way she saw him, he was too busy planning for it to notice what was right in front of him.

    If Cosette was moved to the barricade, she and Eponine should bond over their love for Marius or something, sort of like Mary and Lavinia in Downton Abbey. And it’d be kind of awesome if Eponine gets shot to protect Cosette instead of Marius, and if she died giving Cosette an order to take care of him for the rest of their lives together or something, “I am dying so you can live and make him happy,” ish. But yes, Cosette is flatter than the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

    lol, that Joss Whedon thing is something Mike gets in trouble for with our group. He’s refused to watch/ is poised to be hypercrytical of other stuff by Whedon because of Alien: Resurrection.

    Amanda and I were in Vegas together during our winter breaks. We got sushi. It was delicious. ;p And we did a lot of overthinking of things, too.

    Well, ACTUALLY, I believe it’s “Gabriel,” not “Gabrielle” Macht. He’s a dude, so you pronounce it the way you pronounce the angel’s name (as it’s spelled exactly the same). “Gabrielle” emphasizes the extra “le” at the end, as it’s feminine. Sorry, I just find it highly amusing that normally my version, the female one, is what gets mispronounced as the male version, not the other way around.

    Warm Bodies looks… Well, I imagine like a lot of films, it could be good, but will probably be rather terrible. I do think you could consider it as wedging its way into the paranormal teen fiction genre, though, by taking what is classically horror and kidding/cheesing it up and contriving a bad love story out of it. I feel like this could be a forum topic, though, so I’ll shut up here.