A friend showed me Westworld season 1 and I mean to get to that.
It's wildly belated but I've meant to write about why I have problems with Captain America Civil War having managed to see it a second time. It completely falls apart and the weakness of the film is paradoxically organically tied to what Marvel Studios fans may regard as one of its great strengths, the overall cohesiveness of the Marvel film universe. There's a problem, and the problem is, whether you'll want to believe this or not, Jessica Jones. It just boggles my mind that Bucky seemed to have no real remorse for having killed a bunch of people as the Winter Soldier while Jessica Jones was haunted by killing just one person. Bucky was brainwashed? So what, Jessica Jones was under the thrall of Killgrave, a skeezy monster who can tell people to do things and they have to do it whether they want to or not. The more fully integrated the Marvel entertainment brand gets the more pressing the problem of this double standard in which Bucky Barnes is off the hook for killing countless people while Jessica's superhuman liver lets her not die from the alcohol she drinks in guilt over having killed someone. But we'll get to that later, I hope.
The "Legend of Entitlement" essay about the moral trainwreck that was Legend of Korra has yet to be written. And there's a little piece about the genius of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold retelling of Batman's origin I want to get to.
The selective Christian/pagan syncretism explicit in The Secret of Kells take on the Book of Kells might be another topic for another time. All that is to say I've felt overdue to write about animation for years. There's still a pile of stuff about Justice League/Justice League Unlimited I've wanted to get to. The DC films this far have generally convinced me that if you want to see versions of these characters done convincingly it's best to stick to the Dini/Timm continuity or catch The Brave & the Bold (which got me to love Aquaman and had an actually good story for Crazy Quilt!).
I haven't written much about Archer or The Venture Bros. Could but probably won't. Might instead mull over a general ethos that comes across in the Adult Swim brand in more general terms. But that, too, probably needs to wait.
Things come up and things go down.
This isn't the venue to get into that stuff.
I have, I will say, been working a lot more (again) on some musical projects. There was this gigantic cyclical project, a musical thing that I spent years working on. That's done. For the long time long time readers (and/or the people who know who blogs here) you might have already heard. It's not like there's never been lengthy discussions about contrapuntal music and the guitar here before. I'm hoping to get around to discussing contrapuntal cycles by Igor Rekhin, Castlenuovo-Tedesco, Rodion Shchedrin, Shostakovich (yes, that one), Henry Martin and ... eh ... I might even go back to Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis for old time's sake because I love that cycle.
I wish that when Slate did Wonder Week I'd gone back and recycled my "Counterpoint According to Stevie Wonder" blog post. But I didn't. Instead I wrote thousands of words about why that compound chorus in "Living for the City" is so amazing, which it still is!
But a lot of stuff happens in the off-line world. There's nothing wrong with feeling no huge obligation to meet deadlines that simply don't exist. A friend or two in the real world asked whether or not the blog was retired on account of a certain Richard Nixon of megachurch pastors up and quitting. Nope, still around. If anything the blog can finally belatedly get back to all the stuff it was intended to be about a decade ago. It doesn't mean people will want to read it but if they do I can be grateful.
Still, it was hard not to notice that when that evangelical advisory committee for Trump's campaign was announced there were some guys on that list who got mentioned in coverage of the Driscoll meltdown. Sealy Yates? Was that the person who, as reported by Warren Throckmorton, suggested Result Source could be used? Was that James MacDonald mentioned at The Elephant's Debt who showed up with Mark Driscoll at the Strange Fire conference? Never mind the matter of whether you think Trump should have gotten the RNC nomination or have won the Electoral College vote. The prodigious rate at which I've referenced Ellul in the last year might telegraph a skepticism about populist agitators and their fans whether it's red or blue. No, this is another point, that even "if" Trump were as pristine as undriven snow that some of the evangelical advisors (who may not want to be linked to the guy by now but, again, separate matter) were peole who ended up being documented as having played no compelling accountability role for Mark Driscoll in the last six years and in one case may have positively advised the use of Result Source to rig the New York Times Bestseller list. With an advisory committee tha tincludes people like that (or Paula White) nobody in the Oval Office, whether a Clinton or a Trump, would seem to be in "good hands".
But then these days my fatalism and pessimism abou the United States would be hard-pressed to find a gloomier outlook.
But then you can only do what you can where you can. What I feel like I can do is make some long-form cases for how and why the boundaries between pop music and art music need some conceptual dismantling. It's begun to drive me up the wall how some guys, and it's generally been white guys who ponticiate about jazz as musicians or journalists, traffic in an essentialist narrative of some kind or another about the history of the tradition. I've grown tired of reading white liberal journalists and musicians write about soulful black musicians in ways that don't convey that there is some seriously cerebral stuff going on in the music.
I'm getting tired of "reification" only being deployed in some Marxist sense and not a gestalt sense, because the gestalt sense of reification is in many respects founational to getting how jazz can work as a listener's art and a performer's art. I don't want to demystify the craft of music composition to make people stop loving the music they love. I want to demystify elements of music because I'm tired of the idiotic claims of writers that Stevie Wonder "broke all the rules" of music in a song chorus (you know the one) when he was using chromatic median pivot relationships and octatonic linear movement in ways that can correspond to things done by Stravinsky or Scriabin. There isn't a "white" or "black" way to deploy chromatic median relationships over octatonic linear movement!
It pisses me off that after generations of black musicians trying to articulate things about their music in a way that lets the music be appreciated as music there are still white liberal writers out there (and generally their guys) who sell the holy fool vibe. We don't need that. It seems condescending to say blues "broke the rules". One of my friends in college hated blues because for her the harmonic formula was too simple, too predictable and too impossible to do anything interesting with to make it worth learning. Whereas I can zone out blissfully to the endless variations John Lee Hooker introduces into 12/8 time. I love pre-World War II blues and it's one of the wells of inspiration I keep coming back to. One of my dreams is to find a way to arrive at a fusion of 18th century polyphonic and developmental thought processes with old Delta or Texas blues. If I could write a fugue for guitar inspired by the music of Blind Willie Johnson I would so totally do it!
... and try to get back to writing about some Batman cartoons.
But this hasn't been one of those phases in life where it's easy to just sit down and write 6k to 12k words in a day like I was doing back in 2012.