Saturday, December 23, 2006

not much else to blog about

At least not for now. I'm fully aware I haven't yet blogged in more detail about Tamulionis or Koshkin in a while. I'm sort of distracted of late and having no computer of my own makes it tricky.

Well ... that's about it. Happy holidays and the like. :)

the limited generational appeal of middling shows

In other words, how did Starsky & Hutch ever become a feature-length film? We really ARE getting a "live action" Transformers movie? Don't get me wrong, I DID love the show Transformers when I was a kid but, seriously, there's a tiny generational appeal for the original series and it seems that the generation that grew up seeing that has since gone on to have enough money to make a movie on this franchise.

I'll go see it. It's probably the one movie Michael Bay was BORN to make. Isn't his film-making style perfectly suited to big anthropomorphic talking robots blowing things up? I just hope he sticks to big robots and doesn't give us some lame human-interest story about character's we're supposedly supposed to care about. That kid in the show, never liked him. For that matter I always wondered why the Decepticons, who had no less than three F-15s, were always beaten by the Autobots. An F-15 has a thrust to weight ratio to take off with its own empty weight in payload. You'd think one of the jets could just do a fly-by and carpet bomb the Autobots into atoms. The absurdity of the continuity of this level of destruction being possible or not possible was evinced painfully in that movie back in the late 80s where Megaton kills dozens of people with that gun of his that was never allowed to make so much as a scratch on characters hit with the SAME GUN in the TV show. Why is it that Ironhide can survive a shot to the shoulder with no sign ofinjury and then gets his head blown clean away in the first five minutes of the movie? I don't get it and I wanted to play along and be nice.

Well, hey, what can you do? I suppose that at least Peter Cullen is back as the voice of Optimus Prime. I wa sannoyed by how utterly perfect the character was but he was a whole lot better than the replacement. When I was a kid my friends saw the Transformers movie and warned me that Rodimus Prime was lame. My friends did not lie, at least not that time. I can't vouch for their honesty on other topics. Besides, that was possibly two decades ago.

But as I was saying, it seems that in each generation there exists the money to transform a TV show into a movie against all evidence that it need be done. Dukes of Hazzard? Yeah, riight. Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke is a bad joke even on the dubious supposition that the character of Daisy Duke herself isn't a bad joke. Yeah, I watched the show when I was a kid (and the Incredible Hulk, and those shows were your best options as a six-year old in the early 1980s) but it just seems like some forms of nostalgia are best kept as they are. You don't actually want to watch old episodes of Transformers that often, or at least I don't. I'm not sure I could really handle doing a marathon of the A-Team. Mr. T was cool and all but I have my limits. I still remember the theme music from his cartoon anyway and can probab ly still sing some of the brass parts. No, really. Not kidding about that one.

As the man himself would have put it at the end of every episode, "Take it from me, Mr. T."

cowardly composers

In the ream of sacred choral music most 20th century composers are total wimps. Why? Because they all chicken out in setting the Credo, most of them. Vaughan Williams gets a pass for composing a Credo, and a pretty good one at that. Penderecki set JUST the Credo in a musical juggernaut that's well worth checking out. Fear not, this is not the Penderecki of the notorious Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. I've been listening to his 7th symphony and it's fun, though something you admittedly have to be in the mood for.

More recently I have been looking at Frank Martin's Mass for double choir, a very nice piece. His contribution to the tradition begs the question of whether Calvinists can do ANYTHING to make a decent setting of the Mass. I mean, Martin's Mass is cool but his Calvinist credentials are not fully settled that I know of, in my ignorance. More to the point, even if we're sure of his Reformed lineage this is ONE GUY in centuries of Western musical heritage. :) Most of the time Calvinists suck mightily at writing classical music, which is usually more ably handled by Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Orthodox. I mean, Catholics have Palestrina, Byrd, and basically almost any Renaissance composer by default. Anglicans get Byrd, too (hah, lucky them indeed!) and a couple others (I guess) but the English Renaissance composers are about all England has, which is good enough for them, fortunately. Lutherans have Bach and Schutz, too, I think, and probably win just for that. The Orthodox get Stravinsky, Arvo Part, conscripted numbers from Rachmaninov, and a couple other pieces. The Anglicans fare badly, actually, after the 18th century.

But the Calvinists? Dude, what do they have? I mean, black American music is cool but in the world of classical music Calvinists are more than just a little pathetic. I suppose their historical stance is they've got better things to do than break the 2nd commandment by actually writing any music. Okay, half kidding now.

My own beliefs lean quite a bit more Reformed with snippets of Lutheran, Anglican, and Pentecostal in my background so I make fun of the Reformed traditions pitiful and mostly useless contributiions to actual art music from the perspective of wanting to contribute in some tiny way to being an exception. I mean, even simple artistic mediocrity would be a step up. I hope one day I can at least accomplish that much.

But the real losers in my mind are the composers who write sacred choral compositions as a musical challenge and then just dump the Credo for some silly reason like:

In the 20th century the evils and bloodshed of fascism and fundamentalism cast doubt on whether or not there is anything one can firmly believe. Or the Credo gets short shrift for some huge Agnus Dei that is upposed to be a big "plea for peace". Settings of the Mass are settings of the Mass, not dumb songs by the Byrds' that mangle Ecclesiastes for the sake of making a hippy anthem (which is not saying I think Vietnam was in the least bit a good idea for foreign policy). Settings of the Mass are, you know, functional at some level.

I admit I give slack to Poulenc for not writing a Credo but he only barely gets a pass because he did so much better than average writing all the other parts of the Mass.

For now my favorite Mass in a smaller scale form (i.e. it doesn't require 2 CDs) is Frank Martin's Mass. I even like it better in some ways than Kodaly's Missa Brevis, though not quite as much as Part's Berliner Mass. Ah, but if you don't know any of these pieces there's no point in my rambling on about them.

meditation on gender stereotypes in gifts

Supposedly a diamond is a girl's best friend and men like power tools. That would mean the perfect wedding gift for a newly married couple ought to be a diamond-tipped drill.