Friday, August 31, 2007

R. Kelly/David Lynch

DJ Wolf has a good post with an interesting perspective on R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet". For me, R. Kelly's magnum opus is the work of a mildly creative and quirky, though fully psychopathic, mind. It is more disturbing than anything else. I remember watching him try to perform it tout seul at an MTV award show; it was like watching a small animal drown.
Taking into account the thing's absurdity, it still suffers from a mercilessly repetitive beat that isn't even mediocre R. Kelly. The plot also shares the same defect that plagued David Lynch's "Twin Peaks". That is, when you are forced to keep a story going that already is sort of silly, you eventually have to start piling on the most absurd shit. This happens when young kids are asked to write a "round robin" in an English Class. The pirate lost his patch (pass to the next child), who searched a mini-golf course for it (pass), where he met a purple alien (pass) who shot him with a gun made of chocolate...This can literally go on forever. The art of knowing when to stop is important. I would say that for both R. Kelly and David Lynch, one way to discern when the absurdities and non-sequiturs are getting tiresome, is when you bring in midgets. Lynch's talk backwards which is kind of interesting and cool, but when the Pied Piper of R&B brings in his dwarf in Chapter Nine of "Trapped in the Closet", it is somehow a let down. The midget card is so played out!

EDIT: Upon re-watching Chapters 1-12 of TINC I notice that R. Kelly connects his tableaux with long timpani rolls, just as Stravinsky does in "Petrushka". I also notice that the most hilarious thing ever is the scene with the midget. I especially love Kelly's hyper-dramatic emphasis on introducing the midget (who dresses like Steve Harvey) at 29:50; it's as if he is well aware that he is bringing us into a no-man's land, and wants to make sure we are ready. All those with weak constitutions turn back now.
Knowing that most opera librettos are written in verse, it is especially hilarious to render the following lines from Chapter 10:

Now the midget jumps outta the cabinet

and stomps the policemen on his toe
The policemen hoppin around on 1 leg
screamin "son of bitch" while he runs under the table
He yells ''Freeze!'' dives over the table and lands on the midget.
..while the midget is kickin real fast screamin out "Bridget! Bridget!"
She yells "Darlin don't hurt him!"
He says "Bridget, get yo' ass back!",
...then he continue to ruff up the midget
as if the midget was under attack...
Then Bridget runs up to her room,
goes in her purse and pulls a number out...

The police puts him on the table
and yells, "Man, what the hell you doin' in my house?!"
He wipes cherry-pie crust off his mouth
and says "Man, i was paid not to tell you"
Then the police pulls his gun out
and yells "Trespassin man, I got the right to shoot you!"
The midget says "Mr.,
the man that payed me to do do this would kill me if i tell..."
He [the "police" -ed.] points the gun in his face,
the midget says ''God i think i just shitted on myself''.

Ahhh....the arts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


"Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; and yet: as long as the melody has not reached its end, it also hasn't reached its goal. A parable."

-Friedrich Nietzsche (From The Wanderer and His Shadow, trans. Walter Kaufman)

Monday, August 27, 2007

American Brilliance

Believe it or not, she is currently writing her thesis on Kurt Gödel.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Quiz Time (Blogz R Fun!)

Via Soho the Dog:

1. What's the best quotation of a piece of music within another piece of music?
-Cliché, but I have to go with Berg's Bach quotation in the Violin Concerto.
2. Name the best classical crossover album ever made.
-I am fond of Isao Tomita's album of synthesized Debussy.
3. Great piece with a terrible title.
-Speaking of Debussy, maybe Le petit nègre? Or Prokofiev's Hail to Stalin?
4. If you had to choose: Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett?
-Britten by a long shot, but I heard Tippett's Triple Concerto the other day and quite liked parts of it.
5. Who's your favorite spouse of a composer/performer? (Besides your own.)
-Vera Stravinsky.
6. Terrible piece with a great title.
-Ambrose Thomas' Hamlet.
7. What's the best use of a classical warhorse in a Hollywood movie?
-Though it isn't a movie, I like whenever Delibes' "Flower Duet" is used, especially in the "Raging Bull"-montage in the Simpsons where Homer becomes a boxer.
8. Name the worst classical crossover album ever made.
-All of them.
9. If you had to choose: Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye?
10. Name a creative type in a non-musical medium who would have been a great composer.
Georg Trakl

Monday, August 20, 2007

Very kind of you to leave a note...

From an inscription from Assyria's King Sennacherib following his destruction of Babylon:

"The city and [its] houses, from its foundation to its top, I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire. The wall and the outer wall, temples and gods, temple towers of brick and earth, as many as they were, I razed and dumped them into the Arakhtu Canal. Through the midst of that city I dug canals, I flooded its site with water, and the very foundations thereof I destroyed. I made its destruction more complete than that by a flood."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Interests, Abbrev.

Animals, Music, Literature, Poetry, Film, Art, Philosophy, Books, Cities, Architecture (especially Middle Ages),Tahitian Treat, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Air Conditioning, Basketball, History (especially Prehistory, Classical and Medieval), Renaissance Humanism, Rainforests, Prehistoric Extinct Animals, Evolutionary Biology, Oceans (especially the Abyssopelagic and Hadopelagic zones), Lakes, Seas, Rivers, Tunnels, Underground Water Systems, Geology, Pangaea, Agartha (the Hollow Earth theory, AND the Miles Davis album), Judaism (History, Culture, and Hasidim mostly), Mazes and Used Bookstores.

What are yours?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Busoni Speaks Truth

Ferruccio Busoni is a composer I am just now beginning to explore. Edgard Varése recalled his fascinating teacher:

"He deplored that his own keyboard instrument had conditioned our ears to accept only an infinitesimal part of the infinite graduations of sounds of nature. However, when I said that I was through with tonality, his quick response was : You are denying yourself a very beautiful thing."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mr. Show

In place of something substantive, some brilliant comedy. HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David: The Civil-War Reenactments. If you've never seen this show, buy all the DVDs. The most hilarious, intelligent and consistant sketch comedy show since Monty Python. While you are at it, buy the second-most hilarious, intelligent and consistent.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Passion of the Christ

I started Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" last night, and hope to finish it soon. "Passion of the Christ", or as I call it, "Ouch!", interests me mostly for its use of Aramaic, Latin (and smatterings of Hebrew), and a somewhat historically based, non-Cecile B. Demille treatment than anything else. Though I am haunted by much in the Bible, especially much in the many Gospels in and taken out of the New Testament, the movie leaves me totally unmoved. The actors seem stiff and awkward in speaking dead languages. Jesus' flashbacks are so damn maudlin and cheesy they seem more Lifetime network than Gospel of Mark. In one flashback (which he has as he stands before the Sanhedrin) he wistfully recalls Mary's care and fussing over him as he makes a table. Once again, I refuse to accept that this Son of Man we've heard so much about bantered and made tired jokes. I also refuse accept that he had six-pack abs. If I lived in 1st century Palestine, and walked with the Lord as a humble helper of the poor and healer of the sick, I would sort of resent this totally hot dude with awesome delts and blasted quads telling me what to do. He would make me jealous with that long hair. "Who does this guy think he is?," I would ask. "Jesus freaking Christ?"

P.S. A remnant of being raised Catholic and spending 12 years in Catholic private schools: I am still irritated by "blasphemy" even as a non-believer. Any joke about Jesus bores me, the latest silkscreen at a friend's Art School of Mary naked and defecating on the American Flag disgusts me (primarily aesthetically, of course), and I cringe when "Jesus Christ" is used as a swear word. It is in the blood, and the blood may always course through my veins, until I can find a way to supplant it with Tahitian Treat.

*NOTE (RE: The Above Picture). I use this photo of Jesus, a more pleasant Yeshua ben Yosef than any of the photos I could find from Gibson's film. Most of these pictures are of Jesus getting the shit kicked out of him and screamed at by venomous Jews and lusty, sadistic Romans, which is basically the whole movie, interspersed with some bare plotting, flashbacks, and sub-Wes Craven horror antics (the demon children seizing Judas).
In the end, my favorite Jesus is the one plays soccer with children or helps a little girl find her dolly.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tra la la

In his Roméo et Juliette, Berlioz has his Capulets leave the ball and say their goodbyes by quietly humming and singing little snatches of melody from the previous festivities. As always, how amazingly well he depicts the scene:

Ohé, Capulets! bonsoir, bonsoir!
Ohé, bonsoir, cavaliers, au revoir!
Ah, quelle nuit! Quel festin!
Bal divin! Quel festin!
Que de folles paroles!
Belles Véronaises,
Sous les grands mélèzes
Allez rêver de bal et d’amour,
Allez, rêver d’amour
Jusqu’au jour.

Tra la la la la la

There is a quiet bliss, a peacefully flitting euphoria. Sweating faces beaming in the cool air. All their most profound ecstasies have easily been met, checked and fulfilled, and they exchange tired pleasantries and persiflage. This too, "oh how wonderful!", "oh what songs!" "oh what fun!", like the transition from a blazing ballroom to the chilled night, transitions into a numb, unconscious "tra la la la" gibberish. Sweat dripping on frosted leaves lying over carriage-flattened cobblestones. And not without a sort of ironic sympathy, before lovesick Romeo (Berlioz) enters.

There is something to this Romanticism thing. And I'm not even gay!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Help! (UPDATE)

On some computers, this godforsaken blogger makes the sidebar begin at the bottom of the page. How can I change this godforsaken thing? I can't tell-as on my computer it looks fine. I don't know how to fix the template. Does it have something to do with the "what I'm reading" bar? LAAAAME.

It was all screwed up because I'm a fluffernutter and put gigantic pictures in the sidebar, messing up the template. LMAO LOL G2G!

Also in news, Terry Teachout has been removed from the blogroll for breaking one of the cardnial laws of life: he likes Peggy Noonan.
I am sure he will recover from my breaking internet ties. In his place, I have added a picture of an adorable sea otter.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Listen, Listen

I heartily endorse the Classical Music Library. It's an online reference database service that I get for free by being a student and a library user! So suck it!
About 2000 composers, 50,000 recordings. The sound or collection isn't half as good as Naxos' site, which costs 20$ for two years (well worth it), but there are some classic recordings here. Historic Wagner, Henry Cowell playing his works and tons of other obscurities.

Gabriel Fauré: Fantaisie, op. 111 for piano and orchestra
Guillaume de Machaut: Rondeau, Ma fin est ma commencement
Lou Harrison: Six Sonatas, for guitar and harp
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Schauspiel Ouvertüre
Nicholas Medtner: Sonatina in G-major, for piano

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Greatest Songs of All-Time (Youtube Funstaganza)

Beck-"Lost Cause".
The first concert I saw was Beck on the "Odelay" tour. It's cliché, I know, but he is, along with Radiohead, the best thing out there. This is also one of my favorite videos of all-time. Scientology must do something right if you get Issac Hayes and this guy to join up.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


As you may of heard, a bridge collapsed here. I cross the bridge often, and it gets me to and from my school.
I just got back from the downtown area on this balmy night, and it was swarming with hundreds and hundreds of morbidly obese mouth-breathers and other gawkers, all with cell-phone cameras in hand to get a look at the destruction.

Really though, our city isn't that bad. I hope nothing collapses anymore.