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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Hitting the mood with Gershwin,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? 'Hi Alice!

I just wondered whether you'd heard about the amazing work Cathy Maglaras, harpist, is doing as a therapeutic musician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. It seems to me that there might be a match here: unemployed harpists to cancer patients?

Doug Green '

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Alice Hi Doug,

I investigated this upon getting your letter and found it very intriguing. Nothing would surprise me less than to find that music (esp the harp or classical guitar) would elevate oxygen levels and even relieve suffering, and the article I found about Ms Maglaras was very moving.

Oddly enough, however, it failed to match my own experience. When I last volunteered to play at our local hospice on my cello, the staff were most enthusiastic, and I duly prepared some lovely, soothing slow numbers, hoping to elevate o levels etc etc.

Then I showed up, facing a room of chronically ill people, all old (that day, as it happened). Anyway, no sooner had I essayed a spot of Elgar when one old geezer raised his hand. 'Very nice,' he said, clearly underimpressed: 'Have you got any Gershwin?'

Luckily enough (though I hadn't practiced it) I did: Gershwin and Cole Porter, all accompanied by a band on CD. Anything lively went down brilliantly, though the applause was more tepid for anything slow (even Gershwin's Summertime!!). What I learned was that -- though admittedly not at that moment passing away -- the people on the dying list still want to tap their feet and have a good time.

So my advice to people interested in doing this, whether for fun or profit is: bring all your stuff, not just the soothing tunes;
you just never know what might hit the mood.


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? 'Hi Alice,

Have you ever seen the second Narnia film, the mega Disney Prince Caspian? If not, let me suggest you don't, as it is really lousy.

S K, Virginia

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Alice Hi S,

Your warning, I grieve to say, has come too late. I saw it recently, and my opinion of it seems even lower than your own. Aside from overall good acting performances (notably Georgie Henley and Ben Barnes) and two or three very nifty special effects (see the river scene) I found it appallingly written, uselessly violent, covertly racist (all Spaniards should be up in arms) while, as for the liberties Andrew Adamson and Christopher Markus took with the story and the script, a quick death is too good for them. A roasting over a slow Spanish fire should meet the case instead.

Speaking of smoke, poor old C S, by all accounts one of the most charitable of men, must be smoking in his grave. This is a rough draft of the director's notes, as imagined by me:

  1. scene
  2. fight scene
  3. some other scene
  4. scene with dagger fight
  5. scene with no fighting
  6. full battle scene: grunts, squeals, blood, one stupid crack about Reepicheep the mouse, more grunts, sword-clashing and gore (can we spin this out any more? See me.)
  7. scene with only dialogue in it
  8. scene with solo combat (note to special effects: more gore!)
    (repeat1-8 ad nauseum until closing scene.) Note: do we have to have a quiet finish? Can't we at least have another scuffle in the underground? Pleeeeeze?

As for the plot? Well, what plot? Andrew Adamson eviscerated the plot, inserting scenes all over the place that illuminated nothing -- along with an edge of romance that was entirely unbelievable. And don't get me started on the dialogue.

OK, go ahead, get me started. It was a mixture of would-be grandeur (particularly badly pulled-off by the actor playing Peter), jokeyness (every corny line you can imagine about the dwarves being short etc) and real pass-the-sick-bag romance ('If only we could have had more time together ...' murmurs Caspian to Susan.) Frankly, if they'd have had anymore time together the audience would have walked out as one, and the romance between Andrew Adamson and himself ditto. I shudder at the amount of money that went into this disaster.

So let me earnestly pass on this tip from S K in Virginia!!! Do not buy this DVD. Do not buy any DVD with Andrew Adamson's name on it.

Christmas is too good a time to waste with junk when it can be spent with friends.


Copyright © 2 January 2009 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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