June 22, 2003 (link)
And now, for a moment of complete self-indulgence -- my Wimbledon picks:
Men's semifinalists: Andy Roddick, Sjeng Schalken, Wayne Arthurs, Andre Agassi
Quixotic? Sure, but why not?
Current music: Surface of Eceyon - "Victory of Ice and Magyk"
June 20, 2003 (link)
Given the glut of music blogs out there, there are naturally periods when this site can feel a bit irrelevant, and I find myself starting to wonder whether it's a good use of my time. When I feel that way -- and I haven't been, lately -- I like to remind myself of some of the things I do that are relatively unique (!): Plenty of blogs may talk about Shooby Taylor, but how many of them have transcribed him, hmmmm? (Yes, haha, there is this, but you know I mean one of his scat solos. By the way, that's my card to Shooby next to the December 16, 2002 entry!)
So, in that spirit: it took me six or seven hours, and it's no doubt far from perfect, but I'd like to present my transcription of Rainer Brüninghaus's piano solo on "Colours of Chloë", by Eberhard Weber. It's in four pages, and there are hi-res and lo-res versions available, as well as a MIDI rendition. It was hard work at times to complete this one, but it was also a lot of fun -- and it felt great to finish it off after wanting to do this transcription for such a long time. In case you're wondering, I did use half-speed to get some of the faster passages, but what proved even more helpful is Audion's "karaoke" feature, without which I couldn't have heard much of Rainer's left hand (I've talked about why before). The middle part of the solo, where the chords get strange and Brüninghaus starts playing very sparsely, is really just his comping behind a countermelody from Weber. In effect, the solo is chopped up into two parts, but I thought I'd transcribe the in-between too.
So I hope this is useful to someone out there! Enjoy, let me know what you think, and if anyone actually uses this -- whether in practice, analysis, performance, or whatever else -- I'd love to know about it, and would be grateful if you'd drop me a line.
Current music: Movietone - "Three Fires"
June 18, 2003 (link)
As promised, here's Part 2 of Mike V.'s notes to Mad Change. Enjoy!
"Mad Change" (Part 2):
Well, there you have it. I hope you all enjoy the CD as much as I enjoyed creating it for you, outdated PC and picky CD burner be damned. I'll catch y'all on the flip side of this flapjack, ya heard me?
Current music: Eberhard Weber - "Colours of Chloë"
June 17, 2003 (link)
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Mike V., the first-ever guest contributor to Eyes That Can See in the Dark. Mike -- also known as "Our Man in E3" and "The Choogler" -- will be contributing, in two installments, notes to accompany his new entry for the Waldo the Poodle CD Club, entitled Mad Change. For the sake of clarity, Mike's comments will be in this lovely shade of purple.
Without further ado:
"Mad Change" (Part 1):
Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon!
Current music: Anthony Braxton - News From the '70s
June 16, 2003 (link)
The song SomaFM is currently playing, "Saru / Greg Long Remix - Something Stronger Remix", nicks its guitar line from Talk Talk's "Taphead". Intentional homage, unconscious plagiarism, or deliberate theft? Does Mark Hollis know, I wonder? It could even be sampling, but it didn't sound like it, though the pitch content was the same (it wasn't transposed).
I had thought that if I checked enough of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I would find one for Secretary that would sum up my opinion of the movie well enough so that I could just link to it, rather than bother writing a review of my own. Alas, none of them were quite what I was looking for -- they were all off the mark in one detail or another. So:
Secretary is very, very bad -- terrible, even. For starters, the pacing is absolutely glacial. If you've seen Eyes Wide Shut, you'll remember how it seemed as though the movie's 3-hour length was attained by having Tom Cruise repeat every line anyone said to him at half-speed ("Would you like fries with that, sir?" "Would...I...like...fries with...that?"). In Secretary, they pad what should have been a 30-minute short -- at most! -- into a 2-hour ordeal by, among other things, putting long, pregnant pauses before almost every line. I've read the short story on which Secretary was based, and from my recollection it was brief, to-the-point, and was reasonably tightly written. The film is anything but. It takes meager material and stretches it to the point where you find yourself -- I found myself -- wanting to bang your head against the nearest surface, moaning, "Make it stop!" (Lest you accuse me of having a short attention span, this is coming from someone who counts Heaven's Gate, Breaking the Waves and A Town Like Alice among his favorite movies -- hardly quick flicks!)
On top of that, the movie is unbelievably heavy-handed, with almost every plot point and pivotal moment delivered with the subtlety of the proverbial sledgehammer. Again, I'm reminded of Eyes Wide Shut: is there some rule that says that movies about kinky sex have to be mind-numbingly tedious and maddeningly obvious at every opportunity? (Perhaps the respective directors have some unconscious Puritan desire to punish us, and themselves, as spectators to deviance.) It's not "hot" or "edgy" or "sexy" or "provocative", it's just dull, painfully so. Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance is certainly the best in the movie, but isn't enough to come close to redeeming it. James Spader looks like he's having a ball in his role as the sadistic attorney, but hams it up far too much for us to take him, or the character, seriously. The film telegraphs its intention to be a black comedy fairly early on -- unlike Eyes Wide Shut, whose classification is still unclear to me -- but it's far too self-aware and smirky to be at all engaging. (The score is particularly unimpressive -- as I recall, most of the time it amounted to an aural elbow-in-the-ribs, "nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know-what-I-mean?" sort of thing.)
And while the film's subject matter doesn't bother me at all -- different strokes for different folks, as it were -- there are a few scenes that are genuinely unpleasant to watch, not so much because of what is taking place as because of the callous way in which it's handled (which is one problem, at least, which Eyes Wide Shut didn't have, inasmuch as it was too ridiculous to ever be particularly disturbing). And like Todd Solondz's films, Secretary fails to justify its own unpleasantnesses in any kind of viable dramatic context, so that moments such as these end up being little more than nuggets of poison drifting in a vast sea of "So what?" (One example: the offhand, almost casual cruelty of the final scene between Lee and Peter.)
Some critics panned the movie because, I suspect, they were offended by its mainstreaming of S & M. Others seem to have made the mistake of generalizing the movie's premise, accusing it of having an anti-feminist agenda (an accusation I think is basically unfounded). You can skip this movie for either or both of those reasons if you like, but I think my reason is much better: it's tedious, way overlong, and a waste of two hours of your time. Avoid it.
Current music: SomaFM's Groove Salad
June 13, 2003 (link)
One of the nicer iTunes random play moments I've heard in a while:
From the ending of Monteverdi's "Ave Maris Stella"1 -- leaving me thinking "What in the world could follow that up?" -- into Low's "Sea", perhaps the only thing that could follow it up successfully.
1(a different version from the one I put on the Ciphered Mix 6.3 CD)
Current music: Pink Floyd - "Echoes", live at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI, Oct. 28, 1971
June 12, 2003 (link)
Ten musical instruments I would like to own, in no particular order:
Of course, they're not the only instruments I'd like to own, but it'd make for a very good start. Anyone want to buy me one of these?
Reading this guy's comment makes me want to break things:
No, it is not legal to make and distribute (not for personal profit), to [your] friends and non-commercially, "mix CDs" that contain compilations of music from my personal collection. Individuals are not permitted to make copies of their copyrighted recordings and distribute them to others without permission from the copyright owner. Whether or not you do it for free or for profit is irrelevant; the impact on the copyright owner is the same, they do not have the ability to sell their artistic work to others because they have received an unauthorized free copy.
I worry that I'm getting a bit paranoid whenever I contend that the RIAA and MPAA would gladly turn the world into a police state in order to safeguard their profits -- but when I read something like this, well...! Even if you set aside the fact that this guy's point of view (which can be more fully apprehended if you read some of his other comments in the article) would be totally toxic and horrible if it were ever enacted and enforced on a large scale, there still remains the mindboggling failure to acknowledge what ought to be acknowledged by a "Having said that..." at the beginning of the next paragraph: mix CDs generally don't keep people from buying music, they encourage people to do so, and are beneficial to artists! I can't tell you how many bands I've looked into, and whose albums I've purchased, as a result of hearing a track by them on a tape or CD made for me by a friend. Off the top of my head: A Tribe Called Quest, the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, Slowdive, the Velvet Underground, G. Love and Special Sauce, Jaco Pastorius, Pizzicato Five. And that doesn't count the friends who've taped full albums for me, or the albums I've borrowed and taped or MP3'd -- not to mention all the music I've turned others on to, with mixtapes I've made for them! (It's true that there are albums I'm not going to buy because I know I've got the only track from it I want. But you know what? If an artist puts out an album with only one good track, they don't deserve $9.99, let alone $17.99: they "do not have the ability to sell their artistic work to others" because their album sucks.)
Anyway, this is an old and boring rant which one can find in a thousand other places on the Internet, so I'll stop. But I will say this -- I'm glad I haven't been buying any major-label CDs lately. (And on that subject: I just bought Pinback's self-titled -- finally! -- and Surface of Eceon's The King Beneath the Mountain. Plus, I was kindly given a copy of Can's Ege Bamyasi, which is the first Can album I've owned and another example of how MP3 downloading -- and CD borrowing! -- leads to album sales, if the music is good.)
So, to the abovelinked gentleman, I say this: if your heart is motivated by malice and greed, and not by simple ignorance, then may Waldo, Grand Prince of Poodles, pee on all your Nintendo controllers literal and metaphorical -- and may his full-throated barks wake you two hours ere you're ready to rise, leaving you red of eye and weary of spirit -- until you repent of your disingenuous ways.
Current music: Erguner Brothers - "Makam Saba" (from The Mystic Flutes of the Sufis: Preludes to Ceremonies for Whirling Dervishes)
June 5, 2003 (link)
(What's that you say? What the world needs right now is a new song-poem review? Why, I couldn't agree more!)
"My Husband, Lover, Friend", lyrics by Mary Bolton, sung by Bobbi Blake.
Hi, I'm four-bars-in-G-major, and I'll be your intro tonight! Our specials are piano, guitar, bass, and drums. We're also offering bad canned string sounds, but they're only available one note at a time, apparently.
My husband, lover, friend
Ah, Bobbi Blake, there's no one quite like you. I'll take you over Kay Weaver any day. I picture B.B. as looking something like Florence Henderson -- or with a similar haircut, anyway -- though I'm not sure why.
He can be so very nice
Rumor has it that women are made of such things, but I wouldn't know, being made of snips and snails, myself. (Who thought up that miserable, sadistic nursery rhyme, anyway?)
But just one glance can turn me to ice
As the background singers come in behind her -- "oooooh, oooooh" -- Bobbi Blake sings this last line with a hint of insouciance, a mischievous half-smile, emphasizing and accenting the consonants in "makes me feel". And you think, OK, he's got a dark side, but with a happy beat like this, with Bobbi Blake's sunny voice, surely we're not going to turn this into another "Total Woman", are we? Oh, just you wait...
I love him so very much
What can you say to that, really? (Other than "Them's some big bruises, ma'am.")
Times when I could yell and shout
One hopes that, if this song is at all autobiographical -- which, to be fair, it might well not be -- Mary Bolton eventually figured out that the second of those is a Very Good Idea.
Then a shadow crosses my face
Yeah, like the shadow of him coming towards you with an axe, lady?
I know no one could ever take his place
Do I detect a note of self-aware irony when Bobbi Blake sings the end of that line? I can't imagine she'd be oblivious to the completely shpxrq-hc lyrical content of this song, after all. I don't know whether she wrote the music, which does a little sappy/hokey thing on "the Lord above" -- the vocal melody slows down to half-notes in a kind of faux-reverential hymn thing -- but I'm tempted to hear a nudge in the ribs in the way she phrases it, a sort of deliberately excessive treacly-ness to indicate that she, at least, realizes that thanking God for an abusive husband is one of the more egregious lyrical travesties ever committed to any vinyl (let alone song-poem vinyl).
For I still have someone to love
Oh, c'mon -- get a puppy, lady!
I have thoughts of my own, that's true
But I try not to act like a shrew
Lots of small-rodent comparisons in this song-poem. ("My husband's heart is black as coal / Which makes me feel just like a vole!")
He has the thoughts of those
I might have this line wrong, or it could just be typical song-poem malapropistry. Who knows.
But when I need comfort from my woes
We're not just listening to a battered woman making justifications for her husband's abusive behavior. We're not even just listening to a battered woman writing an apologia for her abusive husband in the form of song lyrics. That would be over-the-top enough, but no: we're listening to a battered woman who wrote song lyrics about her abuse -- lyrics that excuse her husband's behavior -- and then sent them in and paid a hundred bucks to have them set to music! To quote JDR, "that's just out of hand."
When we reach those pearly gates
(I don't think there is any mating in heaven. Do people in heaven even have genitals?)
There's a sound buried somewhere in the background here -- or maybe it's just an artifact of the MP3 encoding -- that sounds remarkably like a modem dialing in to the Internet, and makes me do a (small) double-take whenever I hear it.
And just to emphasize the complete INSANITY of that last line -- yay, spending eternity with one's abuser! -- they sing it once more, rubato, to end:
I sure hope God chooses us for mates
Good night, Mary Bolton, wherever you are.
Current music: I try not to act like a shrew.
Euripides I, ed. Richmond Lattimore and David Grene
Fires on the Plain, Shohei Ooka