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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   musical æsthetics
Sunday, April 11 2004
This evening after a long afternoon of Catskill Animal Sanctuary meetings in our dining room, Gretchen and I went out to dinner in Kingston. The initial plan was to go to Valerie's, a vegetarian-friendly Italian place out on Foxhall, but it was closed, as was Paulina's. So we ended up at La Florintina, a gourmet Italian restaurant on Ulster Avenue. Unlike most Italian restaurants, the main focus here seemed to be pizza, not pasta, although the pizza was eclectic and unusual. The pizzas are cooked in a big brick oven and emerge with unusually thin, buttery crust. I ordered the three-mushroom pizza, which was delicious but not unexpected. Gretchen, on the other hand, ordered a strange red cabbage pizza that ended up being a peculiar combination of both sweet and savory. It wasn't really her thing, so I ended up eating most of it.
Our waitress had introduced herself by wishing us "Happy Easter," probably the reason the other restaurants had been closed (it hadn't even crossed our minds). Somehow this got us talking about Passover-related Bible stories. My knowledge of post-Noah Bible stories is sketchy at best, so Gretchen gave me the highlights of most of what happened over the several generations beginning with Abraham and ending with Moses. Her favorite part seemed to be the tale of Joseph, a founder of one of the twelve tribes of Isræl;l. This seemed to be largely a consequence of having seen multiple productions of the Webber & Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
So when we got home, Gretchen played me a videotape of a movie adaptation of this musical, starring Donny Osmand as Joseph. Gretchen loved every minute of it, singing along with all the songs and reacting emotionally to some of the scenes. Meanwhile, I had all I could do just to keep from falling asleep. Traditional musicals are in conflict with my æsthetic sense on many levels: I don't like the lavish orchestration, the style of singing, the campy props, and the continuous overacting. To me, most musicals look and sound kind of embarrassing. So watching Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a big disappointment. I'd been much more intrigued by the oral version Gretchen had told me over dinner. Maybe I would have felt differently about the movie had I grown up with the musical the way Gretchen had.

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