Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Big Bang Theory

“The Big Bang Theory” is currently my favorite television show. It ranks on my list of top shows all-time. I watch it so often and am starting to consider addiction as being involved here.

I know there are countless message boards for the show, and lists showing mistakes like an empty glass suddenly being filled or other filming faux pas. Those are fun, but fairly common to any show. However, I am limiting this post to one basic subject – the architectural impossibilities of the building at 2311 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California, and the various inconsistences within the building.

1. Why the building is architecturally impossible: Where is Penny’s apartment? We know the front door in the lobby is just to the right of the stairs, coming down. The stairway wraps around the elevator. Based on this, Penny’s apartment has to be in the exact location the front door in the lobby is located. We also know that just outside the front door is a sidewalk and then the street. Therefore, Penny’s apartment has to be hanging directly over the sidewalk and the street. And, the small window in her kitchen, which is generally blocked off by something, but I believe reveals a brick wall at times (Hence, Penny putting various designs there to replace the visual of the wall), can’t exist where it is shown. That window would have to be in the middle of the street, and what on earth is a brick wall doing in the middle of a street in Pasadena?!

2. What kind of amoeba-shaped building do they live in? Look at this thing!!

3. To take #2 one step further, as is often pointed out, there are 16 mailboxes in the lobby. There cannot be any apartments on the first floor (See #5).Therefore, my assumption is there are 4 apartments on the second, third, fourth, and fifth floors. We are never led to believe there are more than five floors, though it is possible. But that would make the mailbox layout even more bizarre. In Season 1, Episode 2, I have noticed, just to the right of Sheldon and Leonard’s door (facing into the apartment), there is a cornering of the wall and the glimpse of a hallway. It would make sense that two more apartments are down this hallway. However, I believe this viewpoint becomes altered in later seasons, and may no longer exist, dismissing these other apartments into oblivion. If they do exist, though, the building becomes even weirder looking.

4. Going back to the mailboxes in the lobby, it is a 4 x 4 layout. Sheldon and Leonard always take their mail from the upper left box. However, in at least one episode, I have noticed Penny taking mail from the upper right box. Shouldn’t she be the box right next to Sheldon’s and Leonard’s? Again, not violating the laws of physics, but clearly odd. Also, if I am correct that people live on floors 2 – 5, why does Leonard once mention getting the couch from the guys on the first floor? And shouldn’t Sheldon’s and Leonard’s and Penny’s mailboxes be on the second row from the top?

5. Why aren’t there apartments on the first floor? For starters, the front door to the lobby is where Penny’s apartment would be. No apartment is just outside the front door. The mailboxes are exactly where Sheldon’s and Leonard’s apartment, and all those below and the fifth floor above, are located. No apartment behind the mailboxes then. To the right of the elevator (facing it), is a small corridor. All indications are the door that can be seen there either goes directly into the laundry room or leads to stairs going down to it. If we walk into the lobby from the front door and turn right, small plants can sometimes be seen. Why would they be in front of any apartments or blocking the approach to a hallway? Also, we see in Season 3, Episode 20, that there is a light store directly adjacent to the apartment at street level. Sheldon and Howard walk past it before Howard departs and Sheldon is then chased by a big dog for his hot dogs. Clearly, no apartments over there. So, no people are living on the first floor.

6. Another building oddity I have noticed is the window in Leonard’s and Sheldon’s kitchen. We see it repeatedly in earlier seasons. It faces a brick wall, which is a bit strange, given the layout of where the bedrooms would have to be, since it does not appear to be angled at all. This window is important to Sheldon, as he has chosen his seat on the couch, in part, based upon the cross breeze between this window and the larger window in the main room. However, in later seasons, there is a large erase board fully blocking where this window would be. Did the window disappear? Why would Sheldon allow such a large obstruction to be altering his much-needed cross breeze?

Now back to re-runs!!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hamilton (Broadway)


The Broadway original play, "Hamilton," has been the event of the year. Celebrities and politicians vie for seats, and even us regular folk have to pay $500 or more for a ticket. For a number of reasons, "Hamilton" merits this attention and the accolades it has received. To some degree, the praise is somewhat over the top.

First, let me begin by stating my being a bit of an aficionado of the Revolutionary Era. At the bottom of this post, I will discuss briefly the historical aspects of the play I had problems with. Chalk it up to my OCD-like need for things to be as accurate as possible when presenting historical events.

Sadly, or not, I saw "Hamilton" about a month after much of the original cast had moved on. I have seen Lin-Manuel Miranda in "In the Heights," and on television, so I have some sense of him as a performer. The new lead, playing Alexander Hamilton, is Javier Munoz, who I believe contributed to the creation of the role. Munoz is so good as to be worthy of the highest praise. He might be equal to Miranda, though I cannot say for sure, having not seen the latter as Hamilton. I can say that Munoz vocally is less nasal than Miranda, and I like him more as a singer and even rapper. Miranda's genius is as a creator.

I also was quite taken with the performances of Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler (original cast), Andrew Chapelle as Lafayatte and Thomas Jefferson (especially as Jefferson) and Lexi Lawson as Eliza Hamilton. Sydney James Harcourt, though the understudy in the Aaron Burr role, was also quite good. Christopher Jackson, as George Washington (original cast), provides the best vocal performance, with a stellar rendition of "One Last Time." Lawson's "The World Was Wide Enough" is also a show highlight vocally.

Conceptually, Lin-Manual Miranda has created something uniquely scintillating and impressive. "Hamilton" is smart, funny, eye-catching, original, and overflowing with cultural relevance. In this time of Donald Trump, and the racism, misogyny and anti-immigrant fervor he spews, and many of his followers share, the diversity of the cast, where white men and women are black, Hispanic and Asian, and women can even be men, is a stark message that the Trump vitriol is not what America is supposed to represent. I realize that the original America; in fact the one that even now continues to struggle with inequality, is far from perfect. The founding ideals are more represented in this cast, and many of the lines of the script, than can be located in any Trump rally. To quote the play, "Immigrants - we get the job done."

Some of the choreography of "Hamilton" is fascinating. The two rap battles between Jefferson and Hamilton are wonderful. And the Burr-Hamilton dual is gorgeously laid out. The staging is seamless and alluring.

The funniest moments come from the King George character, though Thomas Jefferson's entrance provides satirical pleasures worth mentioning, too.

While I do not see the soundtrack as being a timeless "show tunes" display, it is no less impressive for its bringing to the stage agile and clever lyrics, witty repartee and a few traditional numbers (see above for two examples) that shine brightly.

"Hamilton" is not an all-time great musical of the year winner, in my opinion. But it is a dazzling Broadway display, and it is hard to argue with the success it has garnered. I maintain that Danny Burstein's portrayal of Tevye in the "Fiddler on the Roof" revival deserved Best Actor. For its timeliness of message, given the politics in our country this election season, it warrants its place in the spotlight. Anyone who can get a ticket, should.

Historical notes:
Mr. Miranda's script is based on the Ron Chernow biography, "Alexander Hamilton," You can read what I have to say about that book here. I appreciate that this musical is about entertainment and is not meant to be a school classroom. That said, people will walk out of the theater believing they have learned more history than they actually have.

If you want a much more honest understanding of Aaron Burr, I recommend following this link and read the biography it discusses. Burr is misrepresented throughout "Hamilton." Then again, he is treated somewhat unjustly in most textbooks, too.

The caricatures of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are also highly distorted. I could probably offer up 20 books on Jefferson and 3 or 4 on Madison that could serve as more objective portrayals.

Burr's, Jefferson's and Madison's role in confronting Hamilton about the Reynolds Affair are pure fiction. James Monroe and two others were actually involved. The election of 1800 is a factual mess, too.

The arc of Alexander Hamilton's life is close enough, though imperfect. His prolific writing is beyond reproach, and his fighting spirit and creation of our monetary system unquestioned. The story Eliza Hamilton tells about the orphanage she created in his honor after his death is true.

My point for this section is, enjoy "Hamilton," Then read a lot more!!