Sometime between November 14th and November 29th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Funny stuff from the Onion

Psychiatrists in select cities nationwide have reported a surge in Post-Melodramatic Stress Disorder cases following the Dec. 22 release of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera.

“We’re seeing a barrage of psychological consequences in those who have been exposed to the violently overblown acting and protracted, heightened emotions in The Phantom Of The Opera,” said Bill Lambert, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago. “After such intense abuse of their artistic sensibilities, melodrama victims are finding themselves plagued by extreme sentimentality, flashbacks to especially torturous scenes, and canned-emotional detachment.”

According to Lambert, a good portion of PMSD sufferers are experiencing distress so great that it is interfering with their jobs as overweight receptionists, struggling fashion designers, and community-theater actors.

“PMSD sufferers walk through their days with the specter of an unnecessary musical number hanging over them like a mask,” Lambert said. “The prelude is constantly playing in their unconscious minds, threatening to crescendo into exaggerated, choreographed action at any moment. Anything can set them off: a chandelier, a strain of saccharine music, a gaudy outfit.”

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it — I actually like The Phantom of the Opera. It goes beyond that, too — I like quite a few of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musicals…in fact, I tend to like musicals. I’ve even seen quite a few of them on stage (Phantom, Cats [twice], Jesus Christ Superstar [three times], Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Tommy, Les Miserables).

In my defense, though (if a defense can even be mounted), I couldn’t help it. I’ve been brainwashed!

For a full ten years — some of the most formative years of my childhood, and nearly a third of my life to date — I was a member of the Alaska Children’s Choir (well, first I was a member of the Anchorage Boys Choir, then the Anchorage Girls and Boys Choir, then the Anchorage Children’s Choir, then the Alaska Children’s Choir). As such, I was exposed from an early age to a wide range of choral music, both classical and popular, and of course, the Webber repetoire was well-represented. There’s hardly a song in Webber’s most popular works that I don’t still have memorized, as if I wasn’t singing one piece or another in one of our concerts, I had the soundtrack albums at home.

Some of us just can’t be helped (though on the bright side, I’m probably immune to PMSD).

Of course, while I do like it, Phantom is hardly my favorite of Webber’s works. That honor is reserved for Jesus Christ Superstar, which is not only my favorite of Webber’s musicals, but my favorite musical across the board (though Chess does come in a very close second — pity I’ve never had a chance to see that one on stage). Three versions of the JCS soundtrack show up in my music collection (the original, the 20th Anniversary, and the Resurrection)…one notable version that I don’t own, though, is the actual soundtrack to the motion picture, for as good as the movie is visually, it is by far the worst version I’ve heard from a musical standpoint.

As far as the Phantom movie goes, I’m really not sure if I’m going to see it in the theater or not. As appealing as it sounds (speaking as an admitted fan of the show), two things worry me. The first is simply that Joel Schumacher is directing — but then, he has done things other than Batman and Robin, some of which I actually enjoy (The Lost Boys, Falling Down), so that doesn’t entirely rule things out right off the bat.

The bigger worry is simply that what I’ve heard of the music so far entirely fails to impress me. Admittedly, it’s only snippets in the trailer and 30-second samples on the iTunes Music Store, but the feeling I’ve gotten so far is that it may be falling into the same bin as the theatrical version of JCS, where the movie is fun visually, but disappointing musically.

So far, the reviews aren’t promising, either, as they seem to be boiling down to “if you already like Phantom, you’ll like it, otherwise, find something else to do.”

At the moment, I’m leaning towards renting — so I can’t be that rabid of a Webberphile, can I? ;)

(via Dad)

I’m a cat person. Not a dog person. Definitely not a dog person. Slobbery, stupid, smelly, far-too-eager-to-please, those dog creatures. Cats, however, are great. We are merely guests in their private little universes, there to please them whenever deemed necessary (be it through food, petting, or as a substitute for a scratching post), and they spare no effort in letting us know that that is the case.

I can deal with that.

Only once have I ever met a cat I didn’t like. Unfortunately, that cat was my brother Kevin’s cat — George.

It’s never been clearly determined just why George was so evil. It could have been that, as far as I remember, she (yes, she) was the runt of the litter. It could have been that she was upset at being named ‘George’. It could have been that my brother insisted on using her as a surrogate basketball when he was bored.

Whatever the cause, the effect was an animal more purely and innately demonic than any other that I’ve ever run across, or would care to run across in the future.

George wasn’t a large cat, by any means. As stated above, I think that she might have been the runt of the litter. However, she had more piss and vinegar bottled up inside her for all her brothers and sisters, and then some. My brother had scars on his legs for a while (and may still, as far as I know), from one instance when George suddenly decided in the middle of the night that my brother was food, and had to die.

At another point, I actually got to witness George stalking Kevin through the house. It may sound a little amusing to talk about — a common housecat stalking their owner — but it was far from amusing at the time. Had we not managed to get George into a spare room and close the door on her, we were both ready to find something suitably large and heavy to thump her with. Thankfully we didn’t have to resort to that extreme, and even with all the hassle (and not a few bites and scratches), Kevin kept George until the day she died.

My brother’s got more patience than I would have credited him with when we were growing up, that’s for sure.

However, even given all this, George certainly had her amusing moments (when she wasn’t attempting to assassinate her housemates, at least).

One day, we (I believe my entire family was present for this, though I could be mistaken) were sitting around the living room of our house, enjoying a quiet afternoon. George had appropriated the arm of the couch, and was doing her best impression of a docile housecat (something she would tend to practice just long enough to get someone to attempt to pet her, at which point she would suddenly display more claws and teeth than I believed were biologically possible for an animal her size). To her eventual detriment, however, her chosen perch was at that point covered with a stack of papers, which she was resting on top of.

Suddenly, something spooked her. I don’t recall anything in particular happening to provoke her — perhaps it was the feline equivalent of a bad dream, or just her paranoid psychosis kicking in full force — but out of nowhere, hackles went up, eyes went wide, claws came out, and George went streaking out of the room.

Or, at least, that was the intent.

The papers between George and the arm of the couch presented an added element of difficulty to the situation, and we were shortly treated to a display that I quite honestly did not know was possible outside of cartoons. As George did her best to escape whatever it was that she had to escape, her claws dug not into the solid, immobile couch arm, but instead into the stack of papers, tossing each successive one behind her. Legs flying full speed, she quickly worked her way through the stack, scattering page after page across the floor behind the couch, until suddenly there were no papers — and she suddenly found traction. Unfortunately, as many teens with a brand new drivers license can surely attest to, high speed plus sudden traction rarely equals a high degree of control and maneuverability, and George found herself shooting directly at the living room floor, somewhere roughly in the vicinity of Mach 6, and executing a flawless face plant (if such a spectacle can be called flawless) not even three feet away from her starting point on the couch.

A quick tumble later, she sprawled motionless on the floor, with all of us sitting around looking at her in disbelief. After a moment, she pulled herself to her feet, shook herself off, and started to somewhat shakily work her way down the hallway. Not, however, quite content to leave without the final word, she looked back over her shoulder as she left the room, gazing at us with that wonderfully expressive glare that every cat owner will see, most often after the cat has performed some equally impressive feat of dexterity, grace, and intelligence.

“It’s your fault.”

People never fail to amuse and amaze me. I got an e-mail today that was (yet another) internet-based petition. I’m sure you’ve all gotten them before — they’re rapidly becoming the most popular of the variants of spam (see sense 5) floating around these days.

This particular one was railing about cruelty to animals, cats in particular. Here’s the gist of it:

In New York there is a Japanese [sic] who sells ‘bonsai-kittens.’ Sounds like fun huh? NOT! These animals are squeezed into a bottle. Their urine and feces are removed through probes. They feed them with a kind of tube. They feed them chemicals to keep their bones soft and flexible so the kittens grow into the shape of the bottle. The animals will stay there as long as they live. They can’t walk or move or wash themselves. Bonsai-kittens are becoming a fashion in New York and Asia. See this horror at: www.bonsaikitten.com Please sign this email in protest against these tortures. If you receive an email with over 500 names, please send a copy to: [edited]. From there this protest will be sent to USA and Mexican animal protection organizations.

My first question — did anyone actually look at this site before signing the petition? I’m not sure what gets to me more — that anyone could actually take this site seriously, or that by the time I got the petition, there were 239 names on it, and who knows how long it’s been circulating around the ‘net? Okay, sure, so the site doesn’t have a disclaimer anywhere on it…but does it really need one? I mean, come on…I started going through it, and I almost fell off my chair here because I was laughing so hard. So maybe I’ve got something of a sick sense of humor — that’s fine with me.

Another question — why in the world would the petition be sent to animal-protection agencies in the US and Mexico? That just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, as the information given states that this ‘business’ is run by “a Japanese” (person) in New York.

Ah, well. I think it’s funny. So there. Bleah. :)

Here’s some other sites that may be of interest to cat lovers, cat haters, or cat humor afficianados: Cat-Scan, Pet Mummification, Live Nude Cats!, Stop Kitty Porn, Dancing With Cats, and Cat Dynamics — Cat Technology Specialists.