Category Archives: Odes

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! May you spend it with those nearest and dearest to you. I’ve had a long, hard day, working first at my full-time job and then introducing the premiere of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette at the Opera, and right now all I have energy for is lying on the sofa watching The Wire. So I’m afraid I won’t be able to write you a new Valentine’s-themed post. Instead, here are some romantic posts from the archives of At the Lighthouse for your reading pleasure:

A recap of Beverly Hills 90210 episode “Isn’t it Romantic?”
“…Brandon shows up in the doorway and stares at them in a really creepy way, but everyone completely ignores his stalking and glaring. Shannen Doherty does nervous-and-excited really well, and the three girls rush out while we zoom in on a sad Brandon who bids his sister’s hymen a silent goodbye.”

An ode to the love story of Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester – and to Timothy Dalton
“…I don’t read a lot of romance stories. Now, maybe this is simply because I’m a cold cynic who scorns the concept of love. Or maybe – and I think this is more likely to be the answer – maybe I’ve already got all the romance I need covered by just one book, namely Jane Eyre.”

Top 5 Most Lovable Unloved Men in Operas (For all you bitter singles out there)
“…Count Luna’s problem is no complicated matter. He loves a woman who loves someone else, nothing more, nothing less. But Verdi still finds a way to express both Luna’s sincerity in his feelings for his Leonora – and his frustration.”

An enthusiastic review of 1980s romantic sci-fi/roadmovie Starman
Well, you see, the Starman makes love to Jenny towards the end of the movie, and afterwards he delivers what may just be the creepiest post-coital line that I can think of: ‘There is something I must tell you. I gave you a baby tonight.'”

I don’t read a lot of romance stories. Now, maybe this is simply because I’m a cold cynic who scorns the concept of love. Or maybe – and I think this is more likely to be the answer – maybe I’ve already got all the romance I need covered by just one book, namely Jane Eyre.

“So, so Jane!” ~ or ~ Ode to Timothy Dalton

I was going to post this for Valentine’s Day, but then I spent that day editing my master thesis and also cleaning out the drain of my shower which was clogged engaging in a number of fabulous, glamorous and very, very romantic activities, so I never got around to it.

But my idea was that I would share with you some of my favourite romantic pieces of literature. That would make a good top 5 or top 10, I figured. Except once I tried to come up with 5 or 10 examples I realized that I’m not in the habit of reading romantic novels. When I sit down to read it’s usually a novel about a decadent literature critic who goes on a self-destructive drunken rampage. Or the story of an ornamental woman who is slowly killed by the society that created her. Or even a short story about a neurotic Fillyjonk. I don’t read a lot of romance stories. Now, maybe this is simply because I’m a cold cynic who scorns the concept of love. Or maybe – and I think this is more likely to be the answer – maybe I’ve already got all the romance I need covered by just one book, namely Jane Eyre.

Because Jane Eyre remains the most satisfyingly romantic novel I’ve ever read, and I doubt it that anything more romantic will ever be written. And the reason why it’s so romantic is that the description of the relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester is such an incredible, ahead-of-its-time piece of feminist art. Charlotte Brontë very carefully resists ever getting Jane and Rochester together before they can face each other as equals, never stooping to let the woman come out as the victim or the damsel in distress. While never compromising a literary style that transcends any sense of something predictable or schematic, she carefully weighs Jane and Rochester against one another until she finds that their power over one another is perfectly balanced. Tricking Jane into believing that you’re marrying a rich, conceited bitch, are you, Rochester? Well, Brontë will make sure that Jane has a chance to trick you into believing that she’s marrying a frigid, classically handsome minister. And so forth.

And let’s face it, Charlotte Brontë hadn’t even needed to go through all that trouble. I mean, come on. She totally had us at the proposal scene. Anyone who’s ever read that proposal scene will be ready for Jane and Rochester to just go ahead and get married right away. Yeah, sure, it’s obvious that Edward is hiding something from Jane and that Jane would always be the Servant who was Swept Away by the Master if the marriage were to take place at this point. But it’s romantic enough that we’re willing to overlook that. But Charlotte Brontë isn’t, and that’s why Charlotte Brontë wrote this novel and we didn’t. And also why unlike most romantic novels, Jane Eyre never leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, and you can read it over and over again and still find new details to gush over and love.

But the novel wasn’t really what I wanted to write about. There are whole (excellent!) blogs dedicated to Brontë novels already. No, what I wanted to write about was Timothy Dalton and the fact that he is the definitive Edward Rochester. Timothy Dalton played Mr Edward Fairfax Rochester in the BBC television series adaptation from 1983. Now, that series may have had its faults: It’s from that BBC era in which all the outdoors scenes still looked as if they were filmed with somebody’s home video camera, and while Zelah Clarke looked right for the part of Jane, she just wasn’t much of an actress in my opinion and wasn’t convincing in the dramatic scenes to me. But it’s a pretty great adaptation apart from these little peeves, and even if it hadn’t been, it would have had its raison d’être in Timothy Dalton’s Rochester, because he simply nails that part. There have been other great Rochesters, most notably Toby Stephens and William Hurt, but Dalton is in a league of his own. Dalton is so great in the dramatic scenes that you hardly even notice Clarke. Just look at this scene (major spoilers ahoy!):

But the thing with Rochester is that he isn’t just dramatic and angsty all the time, a walking, brooding enigma the mysteries of whom poor little Jane can only hope one day to fully understand. He’s also a really funny guy, and one of the things that make Jane and Rochester seem like convincing equals is the fact that Brontë has managed to describe them as a couple that actually have fun together. Rochester has a sense of humour, and Jane shares it, and this is partly what makes them respect each other. And Timothy Dalton carries off this part of the relationship wonderfully:

I *heart* his amused expression after “You little niggard!”! Dalton has that humourous twinkle in his eyes that William Hurt’s melancholy portrayal just doesn’t deliver, while his haunted declaration that Jane’s farewell is “blank! and cool!” has a gravity to it that Toby Stephens lacks. I also love how elegantly Dalton plays off the problematic governess/master relation that I always felt was an important factor in this scene. While Jane is acutely aware that she, as a governess, lingers somewhere ambiguously and dangerously between being a member of the household and a mere servant, Dalton’s Rochester is more than willing to gloss over the issue, and thus he first smirks when Jane tries to be all business about her salary, and then gets frustrated when Jane coolly and professionally executes her job as a governess, “teach[ing him]” how to say a goodbye.

Luckily, it’s not goodbye forever, though, and man does Dalton give good romance in the proposal scene. Best Rochester kiss ever:

“As we are. So… so, Jane!”

So, yeah. I like Timothy Dalton. I think he’s a sophisticated actor with a wide range. I also think that this made him the most underrated James Bond ever. I guess Sean Connery will always be the definitive Bond, but Timothy Dalton is my personal favourite Bond. If I were to be a Bond girl and I could choose between all the Bonds, this is the Bond I would go for. He even gets the subtle humour of Mozart operas – look at him laughing heartily during Le Nozze di Figaro!

“LMAO! I can’t wait till Marcellina realises that Figaro is really her long-lost son in the third act. Da Ponte’s writing cracks me the hell up.” That’s clearly what Bond whispers to Kara at 2:53 in the scene. While the other Bonds may be good at maneuvering in the boudoir, Dalton’s 007 also challenges his women intellectually and can hold his own in an opera house, and his interaction with Kara the Cellist in The Living Daylights is the best Bond/Bond girl interaction in the history of Bond, if you ask me. License to Kill was a pretty bad movie (sharks? What the hell?), but Dalton is great even in that one. I particularly like the subtle agony he displays as Bond finds out that his friend’s wife has been raped and murdered on her wedding night: James’s own bride Tracy was killed on her wedding night as well, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Dalton is the only 007 who’s been dark and sophisticated enough to pay any convincing hommage to this part of the Bond backstory.

The one question remains: What happened to Timothy? Why has the world been so poor at administering this talent that Dalton had to stoop to playing Rhett Butler in that ridiculous Gone With the Wind sequel Scarlett in 1994? And, even worse, to playing the male lead in a 1997 comedy called The Beautician and The Beast opposite Fran f-ing Drescher??!

That’s just plain wrong, if you ask me.  But at least now there’s a fan page for Dalton on facebook. I’ve joined it, and so can you – link is here.

Ode to Adam West

How do I love Adam West? Let me count the ways…

The first time I ever saw Adam West, he was the title character in late 1980s re-runs of the 1960s Batman parody television series that rose him to fame, and I never understood back then that the series was supposed to be funny. I was only about five years old and probably hadn’t quite grasped the concept of irony yet, which may have had something to do with my taking the show seriously, but I like to think that it also had to do with the fact that Adam West is one of the best actors ever at keeping a straight face. Despite the series’ silliness, he always delivered a no-nonsense, deeply professional performance and I imagine that  this was probably what ultimately made the parody so great and so successful. In any case, re-watching clips from it now as an adult, I’m cracking up and loving it.

See for instance this gripping scene in which Adam West’s guiltridden Batman explains the tragic fate of Mr Freeze:

Or the impressive physical acting of the famous “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” scene:

Or, lest I forget, the scenes in which Adam West’s Batman had to face and resist the tantalizing sexiness of Catwoman:

The Batman series alone would surely be enough to endear me to Adam West. However, for the past ten years, West has gone and outdone himself by proving to be an incredibly good sport by way of his role on Family Guy as crackpot Mayor Adam West, which may just be my favourite Family Guy character. Displaying once more his flair for straight-faced melodrama, West delivers perfect, dramatic readings of his outrageous lines and lends a genuine sweetness to this character based on himself.

I’d say more, but this video illustrates my points better than I ever could:

Having had my love for Adam West thus rekindled by Family Guy, I went and signed up as a fan of Adam West on Adam West’s facebook page. Which brings me to the final reason why I love Adam West: He has an awesome facebook page. Most facebook fan pages are rather bland, featuring no other news feed than the odd standard press release, but Adam West’s page is a notable exception. If you sign up as a fan there, you will be treated to photos from the 81-year-old actor’s childhood, discussions about Adam West’s career in which Adam West himself participates, and delightful little videos of West riding the bike that his wife bought him for Valentine’s Day or playing Wii on New Year’s Eve.

And for that, I feel that Adam West has earned an ode here on the blog.

Rock on, Adam West.

Happy 60th, Bruce! or My Favourite Bruce Springsteen Songs at the Moment

Barack Obama once said: “The reason I’m running for president is I can’t be Bruce Springsteen.” I think that this is a completely rational line of thinking. Bruce Springsteen is The Boss, and today is his 60th birthday.


As some readers will already know, I love Bruce Springsteen, but my love for him is a relatively new thing: I only just discovered his music last year when The Boyfriend introduced me to “The River”. I fell in love immediately and just as hard as I did three years ago when I first discovered Johnny Cash, (it turns out there really is non-opera music out there worth listening to!), and Bruce has had a special place in my heart since then. I love the raw sound of his music, I love his relaxed, yet manly on-stage attitude, and I love the way his music bears witness for the little man in society, frustatedly struggling to obtain things out of his reach, and to defeat his own demons and do the right thing.  

And so, in celebration of Bruce’s 60th Birthday, I thought I’d present you with my favourite Bruce Springsteen songs at the moment. Keep in mind that I’m still a bit of a Springsteen newbie, so there are still plenty of Bruce songs that I’ve yet to discover.

“The Wrestler”
I keep a list in my head of certain songs; songs that I feel I would be able to listen to, and which would make me feel better, even if the worst thing in the world had happened to me. Songs that are so convincing in their confrontation with the greatest sadness that I believe that they would make me able to enjoy them even in the face of my own self-pity. Johnny Cash has written a number of such songs, Verdi has written several such arias (most notably this and this), – and Bruce Springsteen has contributed with some gut-wrenching songs of his own. “The Wrestler” is one of these, the song Bruce wrote for the (incredibly moving) movie of the same title, starring Mickey Rourke.

“Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making its way down the street?/If you’ve ever seen a one-legged dog, then you’ve seen me.” Absolutely beautiful.

“Candy’s Room”
This song from the excellent album Darkness on the Edge of Town is my absolute favourite Bruce song at the moment. I love the rush of desire that embues the song, right down to the hectic drum beat, and throughout the lyrics: “We kiss/and my hearth rushes into my brain/and the blood rushes in my veins/fire rushes towards the sky” . But I also love how desire never turns into something vulgar and purely sexual in Bruce’s song. Candy is pretty and luscious, accepting expensive gifts from “strangers in the city”, but we get the impression that what really draws the persona of the song towards Candy is the “sadness in her pretty face/a sadness all her own/from which/no man can keep Candy’s safe”:

“In the darkness/there’ll be hidden worlds that shine/when I hold Candy close/she makes these hidden worlds mine”.

“Adam Raised a Cain”
Like “Candy’s Room”, this song is from the album Darkness on the Edge of Town, and is one of Bruce’s more heavy songs, sung with almost growling vocals, and with a dark Biblical theme in the lyrics of the chorus. When you look closer at the song, however, the theme is really as straightforward as the theme of a son struggling to free himself from the shadow of his father. Bruce is excellent at combining the esoteric symbolic with immediately recognizable images in his lyrics, and I especially love the lyrics in the bridge after the first stanza: “We were prisoners of love/a love in chains/he was standing in the door/ I was standing i the rain/with the same hot blood burning in our veins/Adam raised a Cain.”

“Brilliant Disguise”
This song is from the album Tunnel of Love, an album of love songs, mostly. The great thing about Bruce’s love songs, however, is that unlike most other songs of that genre, Bruce takes you beyond the first infatuation where everything in a relationship is great and you would climb mountains/swim oceans/fly to the moon/you name it for each other. Bruce’s love songs tend to explore the time that comes after this first stage, the phase where things inevitably become difficult, no matter how hard you work for it. “Brilliant Disguise” is one of these love songs: “Now look at me, baby,/struggling to do everything right/and then it all falls apart/when out go the lights/I’m just a lonely pilgrim/I walk this world in wealth/I wanna know is it you I don’t trust/’cause I sure damn don’t trust myself”:

“Streets of Philadelphia”
This one is another contibution to that list of mine that I mentioned when I talked about “The Wrestler” . Like “The Wrestler” it was written for a movie, namely Philadelphia (1993) starring Tom Hanks, and like “The Wrestler” it’s got a song of great sadness. Philadelphia is a movie about a homosexual man who had aids. Homosexuals with aids and HIV were still a gruesomely stigmatised and irrationally feared section of the population, often abandoned by friends and family and left to die alone. It’s this sense of desperate loneliness that I think the song captures so well. I love how the drum starts up with a relatively neutral beat, like it could be the beginning of any old rock song, but then the synthesizer blends in (indeed, Bruce is one of the only musicians who are able to use the synthesizer without making the song sound like the soundtrack of an early 90s educational film!) with their minor key chords, giving the song its melancholy feel.

And I love the lyrics: “Ain’t no angel gonna greet me/it’s just you and I my friend/and my clothes don’t fit me no more/I walked a thousand miles just to slip this skin”:

“Waiting on a Sunny Day”
Finally, to end things on a happier note, here’s “Waiting on a Sunny Day”, a song that is pretty good in the original recording, but just awesome in this live version from Barcelona, 2002. The video does great justice to the optimistic message of the song, and then it also shows Bruce as the wonderful person he seems to be: Completely relaxed and at ease with himself in the middle of the crowd of roaring, adoring fans, and devoted to the music:

Happy Birthday, Bruce.

Indiana Jones and the Awesomeness of Marion Ravenwood

Last week I finally saw the first Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark). I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss that one all these years, but I’d actually never seen it before. I’ve watched my older brother play the Indiana Jones computer game on his Amiga 500 in the early 90s, I’ve seen Temple of Doom numerous times during my childhood (somehow it was always on TV when I was a kid), I’ve seen The Last Crusade once (and it scared me half to death), and I even saw the fourth one in the theatres last year (and holy Christ, what was the deal with that one? Aliens? What the hell??), but I’ve never seen the one that started it all.

And what a shame that is, because it’s such an awesome movie! There is hardly one dull moment, and the movie had such a great energy that I couldn’t help being sucked completely into it, despite not generally being into the whole action-adventure genre. Harrison Ford does a great job at establishing himself in the part of Indy, particularly because he’s got a knack for the self-irony that’s needed if the character wasn’t going to turn into a total Mary Sue. The opening sequence, with Indy retrieving the golden idol from the cave, is a classic moment of cinema, as is Indy’s nonchelant shooting of the scimitar guy in the bazaar, and the opening of the Ark. People are always saying that the special effects of the latter scene are laughable by today’s standards, but I don’t agree at all. Or, well, yes, I suppose I do, to a certain extent, but like I mentioned in my Scaries Movie Scenes entry I don’t think it matters. Special effects aren’t everything and the scene is so perfectly directed and composed that it hardly matters that you can tell that the melting Nazis are merely wax figures. It’s still completely bone-chilling.

But I think my favourite part of the movie is Marion. She’s just so completely awesome. Karen Allen plays the part with as much self-irony as Ford, so she never turns into a Mary Sue either. She also has a great sexual chemistry with Ford that’s established right from their first scene together, and you easily believe that the two have a history together even if it is never made clear exactly what happened between them – we only know that Marion was the daughter of Indy’s mentor Abner Ravenwood, that she loved Indy, and that he let her down somehow. And she’s gorgeous to boot: Not too skinny, slightly buxom actually, but still fit, and a bit of a hammerhead, which is always cute. Just look at her!:

Marion Ravenwood

And then she’s got that perfect combo of being tough, resourceful, and brave and squeamish and scared. See, this is what went awry in The Temple of Doom.

Okay, to be fair, a lot of things went awry in Temple of Doom: it is my personal conviction that Spielberg failed as a director with this sequel because he was determined to suck up to his audience of pre-teen boys (by creating the character of Short Round as an object of identification for them, and by stuffing the movie with gory scenes like the Monkey Brain/Eye Soup one that they could talk about in the schoolyard).

But the female lead in Temple of Doom was a major problem, too. The character of Willie is just way to squeamish. She does nothing but scream and fret throughout the movie, and it does nothing for the dynamics of the movie, and, I might add, nothing for the female Indiana Jones audience. Indy is still cool in Temple of Doom, but it seems rather too easy to be cool when you’re constantly contrasted by a screaming woman. Indy is much more interesting with a competent woman by his side who’s woman enough to challenge him, and to make him look stupid every once in a while, without him liking her any the less for it.

Sure, Marion does get kidnapped, she does scream a little every now and then, and needs to be saved by Indy in shining armour a couple of times, and I don’t really understand why we need to see Marion squeeze into not one, but two different uncomfortable and inconveniently tight dresses during the movie (first the one she’s forced into by Belloq, then the silky one she’s miraculously given as a present aboard the ship). But she also stands erect by Indy’s side, hits a villain over the head with a frying pan when needed, or uses her feminine charm (and impressive ability to hold her liquor!) to pull evil Belloq’s leg. “I’m your goddamn partner!” as she tells Indy early on, and she truly is. It makes Indy seem all the more manly, which, in turn makes him sexier to a female audience and more appealing to the male audience, while Marion makes a likeable character for the female audience to relate to. Everyone’s a winner!

In fact, Marion is so awesome that to me her mere presence was an extenuating circumstance in the trainwreck that was The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, too. I simply have to admire Spielberg for having had the sense to make up for the mistake of leaving Marion out of both Indiana Jones # 2 and 3 in his last Indiana Jones movie. I love it that in Crystal Skull Ford wasn’t paired up with, say, Megan Fox, or some other eye-candy starlet decades younger than him, I love it that Karen Allen looked middle-aged and fabulous, I love it that they provided us with a story that explained why Indy and Marion split up between the first and the third movie (Temple of Doom was a prequel to the first movie, so that does to some extend excuse Marion’s absence in that one), and I love it that they got to get married in the end, and that they’d managed to produce Shia LaBeouf together before Indy left Marion in the 1930s.

I found a great video on youtube by The Movie Critic which lists the ten most f’n awesome Indiana Jones Moments:

I agree with the list for the most part and think it’s a great tribute to Indiana Jones altogether, but I still feel that Marion deserves a list of her own. So here it is – below. If you notice any errors in my summeries of the scenes in question, please let me know. I don’t own the DVDs, so I had to do the list from memory. And with a little help from Wikiquote here and there.

The 10 Most Awesome Marion Ravenwood Moments

10. Drinking Match
I agree with The Movie Critic that Indiana Jones’s character is wonderfully established in the opening sequence of Raiders. But so is Marion Ravenwood’s character in her first scene where we see her kicking a big man’s ass in a drinking contest, to the point where the guy is literally unconscious, while Marion just gets up and leaves triumphantly with not as much as a reeling in her walk. We know at that moment that Indy will meet his match in this woman.

9. “Indiana Jones. Always knew someday you’d come walkin’ back through my door.”
And if there had been any doubt left about whether or not Marion would turn out to be Indy’s match, it’s all cleared up during their first scene together in Raiders: Marion seems pretty cool and calm while first greeting Indy as he enters the bar where she’s a bartender, so Indy’s caught completely off-guard when Marion punches him in the face. “I was a child! I was in love!” she goes on to chastise him, destroying any hope Indy might have had that their failed relationship was long forgiven and forgotten, and that Marion would make things easy for him.

8. Still feisty, twenty years later
In Crystal Skull Indy finds Marion in Peru where she’s been captured by Russians, and it’s been 20 years since he’s seen her. When he first sees her, Indy walks up to her incredulous, and he does this wonderfully goofy grin, obviously expecting to have a warm, tearful reunion with Marion. He really ought to have known better. Because the last time Marion saw Indy, he practically left her standing at the altar, and she’s not about to let him forget about that. The goofy grin is quickly wiped off of Indy’s face as Marion brushes past him unimpressed. Shortly after the following conversation ensues:

“Indy (confused, to Mutt): Marion Ravenwood is your mother?!
Marion: Oh, for God’s sake, Indy, it’s not that hard!
Indy: Well, I know, I just thought-
Marion: That I would never have a life after you left!
Indy: Well, that’s fine…
Marion: A damn good, really good life!
Indy: Well, so have I!
Marion: Really? Still leaving a trail of human wreckage behind you, or have you retired?
Indy: Why, you looking for a date?
Marion: With anyone but you!”


7. Drinking Belloq under the table
Belloq, the chief villain in Raiders, is such a smug bastard. Constantly outmatching Indy using  foul play and teaming up with Nazis while wearing a flimsy straw hat that doesn’t hold a candle to Indy’s rugged, brown fedora, he also manages to kidnap Marion and sneaks a very un-gentleman-like peek at her as she slips into a fancy dress that he’s forcing her to wear. Sleazeball. But as has been established early on in Raiders, Marion has a knack for drinking people under the table, and she puts this ability (plus her ability to sex men up) to good use in the scene…

A fellow Marion fan has put up the scene on youtube:

6. Marion and the frying pan
While being chased at the Cairo bazaar in Raiders, Marion manages to outsmart a villain by running into a house, hiding behind the doorframe, and then hitting the guy over the head as he tries to follow her into the house. We don’t actually see her hitting him, we just see her going in, the guy following her, the sound of a frying pan hitting a human head, and then, promptly, the guy falling out of the doorframe, unconscious. It’s a wonderfully slap-stick moment that has even earned the action figure!Marion Ravenwood a frying pan as her attribute:


5. Whac-a-Mole Marion
A little earlier in the bazaar scene, we see Marion and Indy fighting the villains together. While Indy’s doing some heavy fist-fighting, you can see Marion in the background, hitting some of the bad guys over the head with some boxes found in the bazaar. The scene goes on for quite some time, and Marion just keeps at it as if she were a kid at a Whac-A-Mole, going in for the big prize.

4. “Mutt… I mean, his name is Henry… He’s your son.”
See, this is what’s so nice about Marion. She’s feisty, but she still has a big heart, and obviously loves Indy more than she’d care to admit. In Crystal Skull when she believes that she and Indy are seconds away from perishing in drysand, she’s not about to let Indy die without letting him know the truth about her son Mutt, who’s served as Indy’s young partner during the first half of the film: Indy is his father – he fathered the kid unwittingly before he left Marion in 1937. A warm and fuzzy, and also funny moment, nicely played by both Allen and Ford.

3. We can never seem to get a break, can we, Indy?”
It’s only natural that in the real love scene between Indy and Marion in Raiders, it’s Marion who initiates things, feisty girl that she is. Indy is in bed, and Marion’s next to him, and you can tell that things are heating up between them. Except Indy’s all bruised and battered from having performed a series of impressive stunts in the previous scene, and he whimpers every time Marion tries to touch him. She loses patience with him, and in a scene slightly reminiscent of the scene between Zerlina and Masetto in Don Giovanni“Ahi, ahi! La testa mia!” ) Marion asks him to just point out to her the places where he’s not hurting. He starts off innocently, by pointing to his forehead and such, which she kisses, but he keeps getting bolder, and eventually Marion leans down to kiss Indy deeply on the lips. It’s Marion, too, who wants things to go further after this kiss – only to find that the exhausted Indy has fallen a sleep while kissing her and is unable to deliver. Too bad! But then she got her chance later on, as Mutt is living proof to.

2. The Well of Souls
See, this is the difference between Marion and Willie: Marion only screams when she has just cause for it. And she certainly does in the Well of Souls scene. Snakes everywhere, and dried-up dead bodies falling down on her all over the place! So she does a fair amount of screaming in this scene, but she still has the energy to clutch her stiletto-heel shoe, yell at Indy, and curse at Belloq (“You bastard! I’ll get you for this!”). Classy! And awesome.

You can see the whole scene here:

1. “They weren’t you, honey”
There’s a nice bit of conversation in Crystal Skull where Indy and Marion discuss the time that’s gone by since they last saw each other:

Marion: “I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to go on with my life. There must have been plenty of women for you over the years.”
Indy:There were a few. But they all had the same problem.”
Marion: “Yeah, what’s that?”
Indy: “They weren’t you, honey.”

I swear, half the audience when “Awww!” at this line when I saw the movie in the theatre. Arguably it’s mostly Indy being awesome in this little bit of dialogue, but I like to see the line as a nod to Indy fans – an apology for having replaced Marion’s character with tedious “Indy” girls in Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade.

“Is a Dream a Lie If It Don’t Come True, Or Is It Something Worse?”: How I Learned to Love The Boss

So, here’s something really weird that’s been happening to me lately. I’ve started to really, really like Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen

I know, right? What? Bruce Springsteen. Me. I was always so sure that Bruce Springsteen’s music was an oeuvre reserved for 40-something cotton-shirts-and-Dockers-wearing married men in the sub-urbs, warming up with potato chips and beer before they went bowling. You know, feel-good rock ‘n roll with no real edge but enough guitar riffs to make said men feel very tough and manly, (but not quite enough to make their wives come down and tell them to stop that noise or they’ll wake up the baby!!!). Surely that was nothing that my opera loving self would enjoy.

What has happened to make me realize that I was wrong then? Well, I’ve gotten acquainted with The Boyfriend, and The Boyfriend absolutely adores The Boss. And after being sceptical for about a year whenever The Boyfriend would rave about Springsteen’s awesomeness, I agreed to sit down and just listen to a Springsteen song of The Boyfriend’s choice, while reading the lyrics.  His choice was the 1980 ballad “The River” from his album of the same title, and I tried to remain sceptical, I really did. But fact remains that as the song faded out I actually had tears in my eyes and a change of heart.

Just listen to that. Listen to it! And read the lyrics:


I come from down in the valley where mister, when your’e young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school when she was just seventeen
We’d ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride

Then I got Mary pregnant and man, that was all she wrote
And for my nineteen birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle
No flowers, no wedding dress

That night we went down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
On down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister, they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I dont remember, Mary acts like she dont care

But I remember us riding in my brothers car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now those memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse that sends me

Down to the river, though I know the river is dry
Down to the river, my baby and I
Oh, down to the river we ride

…and then tell me that that’s not one of the beautiful rock songs you’ve ever heard. Indeed there is nothing cotton-shirts-and-Dockers-ish about that. To me it’s truly heartbreaking. As The Boyfriend and The Boyfriend’s music-loving friend tell me, Bruce Springsteen is very much of a working class spokesperson, and as much is definitely evident in the lyrics of “The River” (the Johnston company, the notion that there hasn’t been much work lately “on account of the economy”). But the beauty of it is that without betraying his mission as a working class hero, Springsteen manages to work so much more than just social realism into the song. The melody is hauntingly beautiful and creates an atmosphere of something ancient-old with its subtly folky sound, something that’s underlined so perfectly by the song’s frequent folk ballad-style references to the persona’s native soil and its landscape: The once green fields and banks, the flowing river at night. 

And there’s the heart-breaking love story with the memory of a time when the young couple’s love was so precious that the persona would register and treasure every breath that his girlfriend would take, contrasted by the grey blur of days that make their present, troubled every-day existence: “Lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy/Now all them things that seemed so important/Well mister, they vanished right into the air/Now I just act like I dont remember, Mary acts like she dont care”.

And then The Boss totally brings it home with the last stanza. Instead of getting sappy or overly flowerly, which indeed is a very real risc when you write a song about native soil and lost love, Springsteen keeps it simple. The persona has no fancy conclusion to his own woeful story, he only asks a simple, but devastating question: “Now those memories come back to haunt me,/they haunt me like a curse/Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true/Or is it something worse?”

Seriously…! That’s effin’ beautiful. That’s as poignant as, I dunno, King Philip’s aria in Don Carlos (and you all know how I feel about that aria)! I’m hooked. The Boyfriend recommends Springsteen’s folky album Nebraska, so I’m going to check that out next. And I’m actually starting to get really envious at The Boyfriend who’ll be attending Teh Boss’ concert in Copenhagen this weekend.

Oh, well. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him in the streets of Copenhagen, the way by-passers did when he visited the country in Copenhagen 20 years ago*. Here’s hoping :).


*Seriously!! How cool is it that he did that? And how cute does he look, standing there in the street in his humble old jeans, playing and singing all sincerely?

Inga Nielsen 1946-2008

Internationally acclaimed Danish soprano Inga Nielsen died late last night.

 Inga Nielsen

I was very sad to hear the news of her death. Nielsen was an outstanding opera singer and will be greatly missed. I always loved that girlish, yet rich and firm voice of hers, which, in my opinion, made her the perfect portrayer of Strauss material where the massive and the frail always seem to co-exist so beautifully in the music. Her Salome, coincidentally, was the first part I ever saw of both her and Strauss, and she took my breath away then – to this day the best and most unnerving depiction of erotic insanity; Inga clutching the head of Jochanan to her breast, her frightingly beautiful eyes shimmering with passion. 

I regret that there’s no video to be found online of her Salome, but another testiment of her radiance both as a singer and an actress may be seen here where she sings Konstanze in Abduction from the Seraglio:

I can’t say that I fully understand what’s going on with that hammock, but Inga makes the most of it with that incredibly feminine, erotic charm and full, never-faltering sound she always brought to her parts, and would you listen to that colloratura!

Rest in peace, Ms Nielsen. Tak for musikken.