First, health. I'm still tiring easily, still coughing a lot (usually in bouts, and usually in the evening). I'm planning to go to CWC tomorrow, and possibly to go get my hair cut (because it's driving me crazy), but everything will depend on my energy level. Lisa says that I need to learn to "convalesce," and that this requires resting for a few days even after symptoms have disappeared. I think I make a very poor convalescent, because my energy level is now good early in the day, and so I don't want to just sit around when I'm feeling like my old self ... but then I still feel pretty crappy sometimes in the evenings, and so I'm aware that my evenings might be better if my mornings were less active. Moderation in all things, Petronius supposedly said, but I guess I'm not a very good Petronian, either. Moderation has never been my forte. Something to work on, certainly, but not an easy thing to conquer in the short term. I've been turning to others frequently lately, unsure of my own judgment, asking, "Do you think doing such-and-such is okay? Or is it too much?" but obviously no one can supply me with definitive answers, and ultimately the responsibility is mine, though I really appreciate a more objective opinion now and then. I think I'm not doing a great job at this moderation thing and its improvement in my expectations and my impressions of myself, but I'm aware of the problem and I'm doing my best. Moderation in all things, including efforts at self-improvement, even if that means too much damned coughing!
Second, tonight I watched this week's "Vampire Diaries" episode, and I'm really annoyed by a couple things. First, it seems out of character to me that Damon would purposely manipulate Elena into being with him, given how willing he has been in the past to sacrifice her attentions when it seemed in her best interest, even when it meant pushing her toward Stefan, which happened most recently only 2 episodes ago! Is he, like Stefan, so ironically prejudiced against vampires that he thinks it's okay to use and manipulate her now that she isn't human? That doesn't seem like the Damon we've seen since he accepted his love for Elena and became surprisingly selfless. So I'm hoping that we will find in the next episode that Damon actually did not realize that Elena was sired to him, because -- to me, anyway -- it seems much more in character that he would be very quick to believe in her feelings for him, and that he would be deeply hurt when he realized that they hadn't been real. That I would easily believe, and it would seem consistent with everything we've seen of him for some time now.
The other thing that bothers me is that Stefan was a total asshole in this episode. Yes, yes, when Elena told him to save Matt instead of her, back at the end of last season, he did as she wished and let her die to save someone else, because he respected her wants and her decisions. Now, suddenly, he's destroying Jeremy in order to "save" Elena, even while he hasn't shown her the courtesy of even telling her what's going on, let alone respecting her wishes on the subject. Did he really believe that Elena hated being a vampire so much that she would sacrifice Jeremy's sanity in order to rescue herself? Does Stefan know her so little? Does he care so little about the things that matter most to her? Yes, I could see Damon sacrificing Jeremy in order to "save" Elena (and, again, she hasn't even been given the chance to weigh in on whether she wants that "saving" -- it's all been Stefan insisting that she isn't "supposed" to be this way, like he's the one who gets to decide everything), but that's exactly the sort of thing that makes everyone (including, and perhaps most of all, Stefan) insist that Damon isn't worthy of Elena. So Stefan knows it's wrong, but does it anyway? And that makes him better than Damon how? And he thinks Elena would want that why?
I actually believe Stefan's "about face" far more easily than Damon's, because Stefan has a history of selfishness (i.e., "the Ripper") long suppressed, and he also has this weird obsession with how "wrong" it is for Elena to be a vampire (and probably that it's partially his fault, even though that was due to his respecting her wishes, which he isn't doing now), and so I could see him losing all perspective and coming up with a ridiculous, wrong-minded plan. But Damon purposely making himself a mindless Elena robot is just ... that's not love. And everything we've seen up until this point has indicated that it is love. Damon isn't "Buffy"'s Spike in early Season 5; he hasn't shown the same sort of twisted, selfish obsession, the refusal to accept rejection, the stalkery creepiness. Early on in his love for Elena, Damon showed some of that, but since then he's been protective without stalking, respectful without pandering, pining without pushing, and honest even when it wasn't in his own best interest. After all that repeated willingness to put Elena's welfare before his own, a conscious exploitation of the unintended sire bond seems extremely unexpected.
So ... we'll see what happens next week. Will they go with the "Damon, the amoral and selfish rejected lover, callously used Elena without her consent (which is really rape, and I honestly can't imagine a universe in which Damon would rape Elena)" or will they go with the "Damon didn't realize that he was influencing Elena's feelings and behavior, he thought it was all real, and he is broken by the realization that it was all his own unconscious, pathetically deluded doing and he basically mind-fucked Elena into bed"? I know which outcome I'd find more believable, and I would actually find it a really compelling plot/character development. We'll see.
Third, Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment sucks. Since I started using it about a month ago, my hair has been looking atrocious, pretty much as frizzy as when I wasn't using anything at all, which is pretty frickin' frizzy. Seriously. I wince every time I glimpse myself in a mirror.
Previously, I'd been using Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum, which was like a miracle for my hair, controlling the frizz to an amazing extent and making me feel good about my appearance for the first time in ... well ... probably years. But then the Walgreens where I buy my hair products seemed to stop carrying that product, and the "Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment" was the closest I could find. I figured: same brand, same quality. I'm going to look around and see if I can find something better locally, but I'm willing to buy my tried and true "Anti-Frizz Serum" online if necessary. This "Moroccan" crap is worthless.
Fourth, Shannon and I went to the Berkeley Playhouse today to see their stage production of the Sound of Music. It was strange to see the extremely familiar movie (I first saw it when I was 3 years old, and have seen it probably 20 times since then.) in a very different form. The first half of the play was pretty terrible, actually. There was this random scene in which Maria sang "My Favorite Things" with the Abbess for no apparent reason, which felt really awkward (whereas the song makes perfect logical sense -- and, in fact, advances the plot and character development -- where it occurs in the movie). Then, when Maria first goes to the von Trapp house, there's much mention of how awful the kids are, how much they terrorize all their governesses, blah blah blah, all of which is also in the movie ... but when the children meet Maria, they're all welcoming smiles and happy singing within 2 minutes of laying eyes on her. What the heck? That makes sense in what dramatic universe? We never see any actual evidence of the children's misbehavior or bad attitudes; they're perfect angels who love Maria immediately. Huh. Then, on her first night in the house, the storm hits, and the kids end up in Maria's bedroom (which isn't particularly meaningful, since they've already welcomed her and therefore have no need for some outside force to bond them all together) ... and they all sing "The Lonely Goatherd," which has no bearing on the scene whatsoever, and they accompany it with a complex routine in which they act out the plot and such, as if they've been planning it for weeks (which, I imagine, they had done in the movie when they put on their puppet show to the same song). Weird! Song that makes no logical sense with the Abbess ... then song that makes no sense during the storm. The people who made the movie made some excellent decisions when they rearranged that stuff!
But there was some stuff I liked, too. For example, during the "Do-Re-Mi" song, Maria and the kids use their hands to indicate the higher and lower notes, presenting the scale in a very clear visual way. While they were doing this, I suddenly realized that the kids are probably doing the same thing on the steps in the movie, but because it was just a bunch of kids hopping around, and because much of their hopping around on those steps is random (which I see now when I watch it again), it hadn't really registered with me. So I liked the way they did that in the play.
The main thing I liked in the play, though, was how they presented the politics. Throughout the entire play, whenever the stage went dark so that the stage hands could change the set, Nazis gathered silently in the foreground, usually subtly at one of the sides of the stage, under a spotlight, doing their Nazi thing, occasionally marching, occasionally doing the "heil" arm raise, occasionally checking papers or some such. It means that the entire play had this sinister undercurrent, this sense that bad things were gathering in the background, danger was lurking, and that something was going to happen soon. I felt like the movie was 3/4 romance, and then suddenly 1/4 politics at the end, and so I always found the politics uninteresting, because they weren't a part of the movie I'd been watching for the previous 2+ hours. But in this play, the politics were always there, and so the little family story was happening inside that, and you knew it was there, even if they didn't seem to.
As part of this, somewhere about half-way through there was an unfamiliar song (present in the original musical, but left out of the movie) in which Max and the Baroness basically advise Captain von Trapp that sometimes big things happen in the world and you just can't escape them or do anything about them, and so it's best to just lie low and accept your fate and wait for it to pass. Again, it was a reminder that this was all happening in a sinister context, and it made it more clear how different the Baroness was from the Captain in her world view, and how poor a match they were.
That leads me to one of the other things I liked in the play. The Captain broke up with the Baroness not because of Maria, but because of political differences, because of her willingness to just accept the Nazis without even a whimper of protest, because of what he deemed a basic character defect, a moral difference which he couldn't tolerate. Yes, he ended up with Maria immediately afterward, but breaking his engagement with the Baroness was more meaningful, more political, less romantic. It wasn't about Maria; it was about something much stronger in the Captain's heart.
Another thing I liked: the Captain did not sing "Eidelweiss" with Leisl early in the play, as he does in the movie. He didn't sing "Eidelweiss" until the singing competition, when he is poised to flee his beloved homeland even though it breaks his heart to do so. Because the song isn't previously colored by a "first real connection with my daughter" emotional impact, its despairing performance at the singing competition is devoted to the Captain, to his political convictions and to what they are costing him. It isn't just a song, and it isn't a song he shared in a touching moment with his kids; it's a mournful love song to a beautiful, beloved Austria riddled with a horrible cancer. When you combine it with the other song they perform at the singing competition, "So Long, Farewell," the whole thing is just horribly sad, and it's particularly sad for the Captain, who clearly loves his country so dearly and has served it with honor, and now must abandon it in helpless frustration. In the movie, the Captain was mainly just a romantic lead, but in the play his true love was Austria, and bidding her goodbye was far more moving than any sweet glance or word or line he spoke to Maria.
So, over all, despite a few weirdnesses, I think I liked the play better than the movie. Weird, but true. I mean, you'd think I'd be more loyal to something I grew up with, but I thought that in some ways this play told the story in a more moving way. It was telling a different story, really. Not a romance, but a morality play.
Oh, one other thing, not necessarily good or bad: Rolf redeemed himself at the end of the play. When his flashlight landed on the von Trapps in the Abbey, he did not cry out for the Nazis. I was shocked.