Saturday, February 11, 2017

some links for the weekend

Jen Graves resigns as art critic of The Stranger

Half the time I only read The Stranger when I read it for Chris DeLaurenti's columns so, man, it's hardly ever that I read The Stranger these days.  On the other hand, if they can surmount the era of Dan Savage being the prototype for Driscoll maybe there's hope for them.  Mudede's film reviews can still be fun to read so he's sort of the reason I even still bother to read The Stranger even intermittently these days.  For the record, it wasn't until Justin Dean indicated the publication fabricated content that WtH made any contact with anyone at The Stranger.  Back during the MH days one of the popular assumptions was that the sorts of people who hated Mars Hill went and blabbed to the newspaper.  Never did it.  Not on the same page as them on any number of issues but, in any event, Graves is parting ways. 

courtesy of ArtsJournal "radical empathy is the theatre artist's new job"

eh ... not personally hugely into theater.  It's a bit odd since I can get into opera and even more into ballet and I like film and television. I love music and enjoy scholarly literature.  Haven't read poetry in a while but I was on a Levertov kick years ago.  I still admire Donne.  But theater ... I don't know, it's just a medium in which I've found it virtually impossible to suspend disbelief.  So radical empathy on the part of the theater ... I don't know. 

In times of yore people with dramatically different political views could meet together in a common space that wasn't a theater but a church.  At the risk of repeating this point yet one more time, one of the things that was enjoyable and encouraging about Mars Hill in the 1999 through roughly 2005 period was I could converse on politics and art with people across the political spectrum.  There were people who were anarchists or traditional leftists, there were center-left liberal types (there were, in fact, people who voted for Clinton and Obama all over Mars Hill even if they increasingly felt unable to say they did so from the 2007-2014 period); there were also, of course, right and paleo-con types and plenty of people willing to say they backed Gulf War 2, which I regarded as a disastrous policy move but knew I wouldn't dissuade people from within that context.  I think we need the Department of Defense to be one of defense rather than offense but never mind that.

The idea is that in a self-selecting self-sorting society such as we have the difficult theater will have is it is so niche and so resolutely highbrow the ability of theater to reach out to the community could be comparable to the difficulty of fans of Xenakis doing the same.  Xenakis wrote some fun stuff.

but it's absolutely an acquired taste!

It's the kind of music that might end up in, say, a Resident Evil soundtrack. ;)  Actually, not really, but that's a segue-way to another link about whether or not there have been or will be good video-game film adaptations.

Milla's done half a dozen of these RE films and I only watched half of them.  Yeah, I watched half of them.  I gave up after the third. When a friend of mine said there hasn't been a successful mainstream action franchise on film with a female lead I kept wondering when he was going to remember that Milla Jovovich and Kate Beckinsale have been ostentatiously proving otherwise for the last fifteen odd years.  That they're both glamorous model types is probably counted against them, and that the action franchises they've starred in are summarily panned by film critics all over.  I get why.  That Milla and Kate are likely never going to be regarded as A-listers in Hollywood hardly seems to mean they aren't some of the most robust B-list actresses around.  Lest that seem to be too harsh a verdict let me invoke Bruce Campbell's observation that the A-listers are trapped in the typecasting their personas require of them.  B-listers don't have the same monetary leverage but what they may lack in that they can make up for in niche market reliability or versatility.  Jovovich may be more the former and Beckinsale the latter (she was one of the better Emma Woodhouses I've seen, wrong hair color withstanding, and she was immensely entertaining as the nasty piece of work Susan Vernon last year).

There is, reportedly, that Lego Batman movie out there.  Might see it, but maybe not right away.  Still wondering if The Red Turtle's going to hit Seattle. 

For folks who may not have kept up with Gospel for Asia stuff ...

Oh, and since it's been a while since we've mentioned Ferdinand Rebay or his music, here's a performance of the first movement from his Sonata for violin and guitar in E minor.

I keep meaning to get back around to blogging about Rebay's music again but I'm kinda plodding through some Frankfurt school stuff lately.  Also reading up a bit on John Cage, a favorite whipping boy of any number of conservative types.  Per some comments quoted form a blog post earlier this weekend, there were these culture wars in academia in the last twenty years and they were less about the aesthetics of the arts as such than about the canons preferred by the people who came to be the ruling castes of the last half century.  So in a way cultural reactionaries are fighting an already lost battle if they hammer away at Schoenberg or Cage. I haven't gotten around to writing on the stuff I've read at Future Symphony Institute but one of my reservations about it is the "symphony" part.  If arts funding gets sliced up even more in the Trump years then the mainstays of high culture are going to hurt even more.  As a guitarist I'm not going to pretend for a second that I don't think we should put more into the guitar literature.  When war ravaged Europe Heinrich Schutz did not take the approach of "just" insisting on more money and resources for the arts.  He took the approach of scaling back his practical approach to composition and his conception of the resources that were available to him.

Kyle Gann floated an idea years ago, "Make Way for the Guitar Era" and floated an explanation as to how it came about that so many music students at Bard College might have become guitarists.  I happen to love the instrument and I've spent much of my adult life working toward some specific goals for the instrument, namely composing sonatas and fugues.  The two 18th century forms or processes guitarists routinely and tediously assert are inimical to the inherent limitations of the guitar are sonata forms and fugues.  This is so obviously not the case I could probably write a book about the subject but I'm honestly not sure if I will.  Part of the reason is simply that even if you DO compose a guitar sonata in F minor inspired by the late Beethoven piano sonatas and the late string quartets of Shostakovich that doesn't mean other guitarists will want to play it. 

But, again, if there's a likelihood that arts funding as we've known it is even further gutted then what guitarists have an opportunity to do is keep the traditions of Western art music alive by tackling the kinds of things we've heretofore had too many guitarists claiming hasn't been done (that has been done, in the case of sonata forms) and that can be done.  When Western academics insinuate that sonata forms are obsolete this could only be true if you focus entirely on keyboard literature at the expense of neo-Romantic works within that milieu or if, further, you pretend that no composers who wrote for the guitar ever wrote sonata forms.  This, too, is so easily disproven I'm surprised there aren't monographs on this.  Gann's got a theory as to why, which has something to do with the musicology ladder and modern academia being more of a prestige racket than a setting in which genuinely path-breaking scholarship is likely to happen.  It does happen, and the work I've read by Hekoski & Darcy on sonata forms has encouraged me because if scholarship is rethinking what sonata forms even are this will give guitarists and guitarists into musicology an opportunity to demonstrate that our instrument has plenty of sonata forms to study once you bust out of the straitjacket of assuming all sonatas "must" be what Hepokoski & Darcy regard as "Type 3". 

But there's only so many thousands of words even I feel like writing on a weekend. 

Since this blog does touch on the topic of animation now and then ... you maybe knew this was coming.

Samurai Jack Season 5.  Yep. 

1 comment:

Cal P said...

I love the Resident Evil movies! But it's because I know how to love a good B-rate action movie. It is pure comic genius only because it has the naivety of thinking itself a serious action movie. I liked the video games, the first and second resembled the games, and the first one almost had a coherent plot, but once the franchise went off the rails it became brilliant. What makes this stuff better than Bruce Campbell's work is that he knew he was being silly. There's something truly amazing about someone/something that is hilarious, but completely immune from it.

RE 6 has so many good plot set-ups (meaning absurdities), bad one-liners, and useless character development that it has succeeded beyond even 5 (which I didn't think could be done!). The use of clones as plot device is pure comic genius!

Round up some friends, get some chips and a beer and give them another shot! :)