Jewish date: 30 ’Av 5770 (Parashath Shofeṭim).
Today’s holidays: Ro’sh Ḥodhesh/New Month (Judaism), Feast Day of Lawrence (Roman Catholicism), Feast Day of St. Irwin Corey (Church of the SubGenius).
Worthy causes of the day: “Tell the Obama administration we need more protection from for-profit education rip-offs!”, “Tell the FCC: It's up to you, not Google and Verizon, to regulate the Internet”, and “MoveOn.org Political Action: Stop Social Security Cuts”.
NOTE: One week from today, I am traveling to Israel for a two-week pilot trip to determine whether I want to live there and can find work there. I am making no guarantees as to posting from Israel (as if I ever made guarantees about posting), though that may happen if I can find Wi-Fi access (e.g., at Café Hillel or a kasher McDonald’s). At the very least, I should have pictures to post afterwards.
Topic 1: The 2000 edition of Jesus Christ Superstar. I managed to get my hands on a copy lately, and my memories of it are largely correct. It is, indeed, done better for the most part than the 1973 version. It is performed on sets rather than in ruins, so the setting is tailored to the story. Much of the sets are appropriately dark and ominous. Herod’s set is appropriately ostentatious, including having his name literally up in lights, though unfortunately without a swimming pool for Jesus to walk across. The costumes are a bit better—including having the Romans in Nazi-like uniforms—except for the angels in Jesus’s vision near the end, which are tasteless almost to the point of being unrecognizable as allegedly angels. (Doing angels right is a chronic problem in popular culture. See Ezekiel 1 for an example of how angels may be manifested, depiction of which would probably be unprecedented and well-worth the CGI.) The singing is noticeably better, even for the weak-voiced Herod. While the vocals are the same, the acting is different. Jesus’s disciples actively fight the Romans, and we get to see the machine guns they plan on using for a revolt. The role of Judas Iscariot is played with him visibly as a rival with Mary Magdalene for Jesus’s attention. One might even interpret this Judas as having non-Platonic feelings for Jesus, though it is not clear whether this is intentional. Still, the rivalry makes it easier to believe that Judas betrays Jesus, at least subconsciously striking back for being snubbed. The context-destroying number is even worse in this version; rather than occurring while Jesus is on the Cross, it happens while Jesus is bearing the Cross—in front of cameras, without anyone acting in such a way to indicate they do not see Judas and the purported angels. Unlike the 1973 version, the 2000 version has no frame story. With the modern technology and clothing, it is not clear what this version is meant to represent; possibly it is intended to be set in an alternate universe. All in all, a better-executed version of the 1973 version.
Related: Zemanta for some reason led me to the YouTube channel of Anthony von Eckstein, who was the musical director for some zero-effects productions of Jesus Christ Superstar. In his version, he corrects Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mistake of having Pontius Pilate have a premonition dream by transferring the relevant song, with some minor changes, to his wife, Procula. Kudos to Von Eckstein for noticing Matthew 27:19. Now I am wondering whether anyone has done a production which addresses other problems with the musical or the Gospels themselves. I can easily see much of the material played sarcastically or with Jesus having delusions.
Topic 2: For today’s religious humor: “Ceiling Cat guides the”: