Jean BonbonYesterday the Les Misérables Broadway page on Facebook linked to a YouTube video of “Les Mousserables,” a Sesame Street sketch in which Cookie Monster, as Jean Bonbon, must learn to recognize other people’s feelings and share his cookies. It was…okay I suppose. It had its moments (like “One Day S’more”), and it was fun to see them take on the movie’s visuals (Snuffleupagus as the Elephant of the Bastille, for instance). Maybe my expectations were too high, or I was in the wrong mood for it. I’ve seen a number of “Elmo the Musical” bits that were quite entertaining, and I loved the “Finishing the Splat” sketch with Oscar the Grouch.

Yes, I have a toddler in the house, in case you’re wondering.

YouTube recommended “Les Miseranimals,” which has long been one of my favorites. It’s the sketch that got me to look at Animaniacs at an age when I was old enough not to be interested in afternoon cartoons (with the exception of Batman: The Animated Series), and it was quickly clear that even if the show was aimed at younger viewers, there was plenty of fun for a teenager to enjoy as well. So we all watched a grainy copy on the tablet even though the crisp DVD was sitting on a shelf across the room. It still holds up, though some of the songs work better than others. I’m not sure how I never noticed before that M. Tristesse (the restaurant owner) is basically one of John Cleese’s French caricatures from Monty Python.

I also found it sad that Rita’s song “There is a Flat in Gay Paree” is no longer shorter than “Castle on a Cloud” in the current version of the show.

From there YouTube recommended a clip from Forbidden Broadway‘s take on the show, which turned out to be someone’s recording from the audience in some production. That sort of thing bugs me, but I watched the whole thing, having discovered a few months ago that my aging audio cassette is no longer playable (and not having gotten around to replacing it). This was hit and miss, partly because a lot of the parody depends on the show being new at the time.

I suppose technically I watched four parodies, because even though we were ready to stop after 30-40 minutes of tiny videos parodying the same show, there was a link to a three-minute clip called “On My Phone.” It’s apparently from a more recent Forbidden Broadway show, and it’s brilliant.

(Cross-posted at Re-Reading Les Misérables.)

As my series on re-reading Les Misérables grew, I realized it needed its own space. The pages that once held my long-defunct fan site,, seemed appropriate. I’ve moved the whole series there, along with the reviews of the show and movie, and some of my meta-commentary. With any luck it should be easier to find and navigate now.

It’s been slow going, but I’m determined to finish the book — I got through the end of Part Four (of five) last night, almost 1000 pages — and the commentary by the end of the year.

Read on for the commentary as Gavroche rescues his brothers* and his father in the same night…but no one recognizes him, and even he doesn’t even know the younger boys are his brothers.

*Yes, brothers. I thought I’d remembered all the Thenardier children, but it turns out there are five in all.

Les Miserables Book Movie Tie-In CoverI learned three nice things about the Kindle movie tie-in edition of Les Misérables today:

  • It’s only $3.
  • It’s the same translation (Norman Denny, 1976) that I’ve been reading from a big stack of paper.
  • Page numbers match the print edition I’ve been reading, at least where I’ve spot-checked.

This will be great for times that I don’t want to lug around the brick, or that I’m out and about and want to work on my next article, or that I planned on reading something else and changed my mind.

Continue reading…

It’s bothered me for a long time that movie studios seem to think the only story worth telling about a superhero is the origin. You get a trilogy if you’re lucky, then back to another origin take. It would be like only ever running the pilot of every TV show even though they’re designed to set things up for an extended run. Or, I don’t know, remaking the prologue of Les Misérables over and over again without ever going further with Jean Valjean.

I found this funny review of Les Miserables (the book) [ack! link deleted!] on GoodReads via Kobo. It’s been 20 years since I read it myself, but it rings true.

…you will not read the abridged version. Don’t you dare. Don’t even think the word “abridged.” Yeah, I know, Victor Hugo frequently turns away from the main narrative to focus on side characters, historical events, religion, philosophy, and other subjects. That’s why this isn’t called “Jean Valjean’s Excellent Adventure.”

The review even mentions the Paris sewers. Because, really, it would have to.

The crazy thing is that, after seeing the movie, digging out my own review of the new stage version, and stumbling on this review of the book…I’m starting to consider re-reading the novel. Because obviously I have gobs of spare time and no new books to read. And at 1200 pages, it’s only 1 1/3 times as long as A Memory of Light! By page count, anyway. It’s not as if the Les Mis edition I have has tiny type, making those page counts not comparable. And it’s not as if Victor Hugo’s prose is that much denser than Robert Jordan, right?


If I do this, it’s going to take me months.

On the other hand, Katie suggested I could live-tweet the re-read. It would be slow, but hey, it could be interesting.


Update: I’m moving forward with the re-read and online commentary!