Monday, August 29, 2005

Take two of these and nudge me in the morning.

So anyway, as someone who enjoys the redundancy of watching every episode (for the 12th or so time I might add) of Star Trek: The Next Penetration every day on Spike, I’ve developed a…familiarity…with the daily advertisements on the station. Now is it just me…or is Penis Pill Bob really starting to scare the holy be-Jesus out of anyone else. For those who are unfamiliar, Penis Pill Bob is this guy on the commercials for Enzyte – “The once daily pill for natural male enhancement”. Translation: herbal dick pill. Sub-translation: NO MEDICINAL PROPERTIES WHATSOEVER – can’t actually do anything to your willy. The ads feature said PPB in a series of situations, wandering around aimlessly, doing day to day suburbanite sort of things, with this perpetual glowing beam on his face (most likely due to the fact that he’s got so much blood in his cock that he can no longer control the muscles around his mouth). He golfs with a boner – and sinks a hole-in-one, he goes swimming at the neighborhood pool party – only to emerge from the pool sans shorts and at full salute (much to the awe of the other guests), he can’t keep the cheerleaders off of him at the local football game – much to the dismay of the opposing team’s fan base (the opposing team is the IMPS - four of the super fans all have a letter from the team name on their chests, a fifth guy comes by with an L on his - you figure the rest out), hell his very presence causes the neighbor’s garden hose to go…ahem…limp. And I’m not so sure it’s PPB that scares me so much as Mrs. Penis Pill Bob…a.k.a. – The Happy Tee-Partner Back at the Clubhouse (as she was referred to in the Golf scenario). First of all, this lady’s just on the ‘had five shots of tequila too many’ good side of repulsive. I can’t fathom why PPB would want to waste a perfectly good, chemically enhanced hard-on to fuck this woman. Every time she sees him, she gets a ‘glow’ on her face that could break a mirror. You get all of this insanity set to a soundtrack eerily reminiscent of music from Leave it to Beaver (if that’s not pun-ny, I don’t know what is).

Goddammit these people really irk me. And I know it’s not their fault, they’re just actors. The ad folks at Enzyte are to blame. They’re the ones who came up with the bright idea to torture my existence with these freaky fuckers. One commercial had the PPBs’s neighbor, Steve or something (and Mrs. Steve btw), over for dinner. Mrs. Steve was looking quite depressed as she stared at Steve’s cocktail weenie (seriously, it was a cocktail weenie on a toothpick). PPB has Steve call Enzyte, next day, they’re all back in the PPBs’s, samba dancing in the living room, just a pitcher of margueritas away from the orgy from hell. I shudder to think what these fuckers are going to come up with for this asshole to do next. If I had my way, PPB’s giant, six-million dollar, bionic wünder-phallus would break off in Mrs. PPB’s ass, killing them both (him from extreme blood loss, her from a terminal combination of shock and incurable constipation). Gee Wally, that’d be swell!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

To synth or not to synth.

So anyway, as some may have notice, Mr. Robert Moog (by the way it's pronounced Mohg, for those that didn't know) passed away a couple of days ago. I don't know, somehow I feel like I should be a little more bummed than I am about that. I absolutely love synthesizers, in particular, I love emulating acoustic sounds on synthesizers. I don't know the first thing and could generally care less about waves, saws and pads (aside from the occasional nostalgic re-creation of certain 80's tunes). And aside from the basic history, I don't really know much about Mr. Moog or his invention. But I do love what came of it - sitting in your studio/lab/bedroom/basement/etc creating entire ensembles with a single machine...ooooh bebe, gets me all excited. I absolutely hate the way certain parts of the film music community have basically raped and bastardized the use of synth in modern music (you don't have to be a rocket surgeon - that was intentional btw - to guess who I'm referring to).

Anyway, don't really have much to say on the subject; just noticed it; felt sad for a few minutes; thought I'd share with the rest of the world. It's inevitably disheartening to know that just about everyone whom I've either idolized, or who has created something that I idolize will die in my lifetime. I guess I just hope that when I'm gone, I'll be remembered for creating something as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

AFI's 100 Years, 100 Insults to my INTELLIGENCE!!!

So anyway, of the many varied websites I frequent on a daily basis (and no, none of them involve porn – you freaks hehe!) one of the more interesting ones (at least from a film music enthusiasts point of view) is www.soundtrackcollector.com. It’s a very extensive site operated by a gentleman in Norway (I think) that, among other things, has a film music news section, a discussion forum, and probably the single largest soundtrack album database in the world. If the soundtrack or score from a movie has an album, be it official or promotional, foreign or domestic, it’s likely in this database (which has at current count 307,000 soundtrack albums by 6400 composers). Another interesting feature about the database is that it allows visitors to register (for free) as members (of which there are currently over 38,000) and catalogue both their current collection, and wish list. As it stands, I have only a handful of CD’s in my collection that aren’t catalogued on the site simply because they are bootlegs (factory pressed, wide-release bootlegs, but still bootlegs – and the site frowns on such things…sigh).

So what’s my point today? Well a couple of days ago a member posted a comment on the forum in regards to the AFI – 100 Years, 100 Scores vote that is, at present, still in progress. The list of the 250 nominees has been public knowledge for a while now, and it’s…well…interesting to say the least. It’s what you might expect a group of people who have no real insight into the genre to compile…basically most of the Oscar nominees and winners with a few surprises thrown in for color. The forum poster was basically stating his/her feelings on it and what he/she felt were some omissions. They then left the posting open for debate as to everyone else’s feelings on the subject. A respondent, who was very obviously European (as evidenced by the nearly complete lack of understanding of English grammar - then again that's half of this country also...oh well, look at it and you'll get what I mean), was first to respond with their thoughts on the list, saying that they would first remove anything ‘Star Wars’ related from the list…

ARE YOU COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE?!?!?!?!?!

For my original response, go to the website. I decided I’d try to expound upon it further here. First of all, I’m actually a little insulted that ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ wasn’t acknowledged on the list. The poster's statement was ignorant firstly and most simply in the fact that ‘A New Hope’ was the only Star Wars film represented (a near travesty really) and yet they seemed to be under the impression that they were all there. Many of the members of SoundtrackCollector seem to be European, in fact most of the forum posters are so (they’re persistently looking for expanded and complete scores to movies that have no such official release – mainly because most of them, the poster's that is, seem to be indifferent to the concepts of copyrighting and intellectual property, and despite the fact the site openly looks down on bootlegging and pirating). If one were to take a sample of their various questions and comments over the years, one might notice an unmistakable slant against American film composers in general. I first noticed it in a posting several months ago when someone posed a question about everyone’s least favorite scores and the general consensus amongst the Euro’s was that Danny Elfman’s ‘Mission: Impossible’ score was the biggest insult to the music world in about 100 years (I have…issues, with this too, but that’s for another posting). Every so often the subject comes up again, and it’s all I can do not to smash my head through the computer monitor. The common argument seems to be that American composers are rip-off artists; hacks who plagerize and self-plagerize everything they put to paper. This can be rendered essentially invalid simply by stating that every, or at least nearly every composer (film or otherwise) is guilty of emulating and drawing ideas from their predecessors. I just don't get it, our politicians in the U.S. have done just about any and everything humanly possible to alienate the rest of the world, but at least we composers have embraced the 'European Sound'. Anyway, back to Star Wars, making a statement like that is not only insulting to just about everything that is good modern film music, but it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and appreciation for the musical, cultural, and historical significance of those original three films and the impact their scores had on the genre, if not the whole world. The orchestral score was in the process of dying a slow, dismal, festering death by the 1970’s. The 60’s and early 70’s saw a period of ‘new’ directors who had little appreciation for the art of it. They seemed to have a “If I can’t see the orchestra, where’s the music coming from?” mindset, and in so doing, dropped all music from their films (with the exception of source cues). The scores from ‘Jaws’ and a few other films garnered their fair share of attention, but nothing would have the impact of George Lucas’ “little project” in ’77. The music for 'A New Hope' was a defibrillating jolt to the heart of orchestral music in cinema and as such a renaissance(for lack of a better word) in the genre began.

In recent years things have gone down hill. Blaming Media Ventures for the current problems in film music has become something of a trendy fad, though admittedly, it's mostly justified. Vogler and I agree that a second coming of the grand (read: coherent thematic structure) orchestral score is nigh. Until then there still seem to be more than enough drum loops left to fill a 200 gig hard drive. We just have to ride it out. There are a few stand out guys from MV that seem to be doing an excellent job of branching out. First and foremost is Harry Gregson-Williams. Scores like 'Sinbad' and 'Kingdom of Heaven' show a remarkable amount of potential. Then you have guys like John Powell and Klaus Badelt, who are trying, but still haven't seemed to find a solid voice yet. Most recently, Steve Jablonsky has come to my attention. His autopilot attempt with 'The Island' isn't a prime example, but he's slipped in a gem or two right under our noses. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' remake was derivative at best, but it at least tries to tackle a film genre these guys haven't really touched before. Then there's my latest discovery...'Steamboy'. Wow, this was way the hell out of left field. Sure parts of it are typical MV, but there's so incredibly much more to like than dislike. I highly recommend anyone that reads this get out and rent the film ASAP. I don't necessarily think that the folks at MV are entirely at fault for our current woes...they are catering to a demand after all. That demand comes from producers. If Brad likes to refer to the MV guys as the Zimmerites, then why not call their patrons Bruckies. I personally think the good Mr. Bruckheimer should carry some of the burden of guilt. What if all the Bruckheimer's in Hollywood had a meeting, and while they were all gathered in one place someone blew up the building in a slam-bang pyrotechnics spectacular that would make even them proud...that might actually get things rolling in the right direction again.

But I digress...

No one, not even the Maestro Williams himself writes 'Empire's' anymore. Those kinds of scores are work after all. Textures and thematic interweaving and grandieur of that magnitude haven't really been common since the days of Wagner and Mahler. 'A New Hope' was a landmark achievement in film music, though 'Empire' was/is arguably the better score. Composers used to spend years fine tuning music of that scale. To pull off something that rich and dense in a matter of weeks is awe inspiring. The music from the original triology (excluding the tweaking done in 1997) stands alone, solely as music, better (arguably) than any other piece of film music out there ('The Lord of the Rings' being perhaps the only recent exception - and even then, I still think it's the poorer cousin, so to speak). Everyone in the free world has the right to express their opinions on any given subject. There are obviously much stronger 'hot-button' topics than this to pick at. But regardless of what your talking about, when you make a statement about a topic, make damn sure you can support your position. In fact, you shouldn't even wait for someone like myself to pounce, you should just get straight to the meat of it and say as much as possible as to why you would make such a ridiculous assertion. Other wise you're a fool, and an ignorant fool at that.

Admittedly, should I ever have the opportunity, I'd whore myself out to Media Ventures if for no other reason then just to get my name out there. I wouldn't have to stay long; a year, maybe two. Hell, having access to that much technology alone would make it worth it (and perhaps gag the guy on my shoulder a bit too). The MV guys, when they're in MV mode, are completely interchangable, just call me Michael Jans Gregennie-Manjadeltbinimmersky if you want. Then, later, I would imagine I could get back to writing 'real' music for films...something with a real tune, and woodwinds, and dense harmonies and textures, something not in d-minor. Yeah, that'd be cool.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lightnin', jus...struck my brain (That must hurt!)!

So anyway, as I was driving home yesterday, a couple of thoughts entered my mind. First, I remembered what George Carlin used to say about drivers, “Did you ever notice that anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac”. This is profoundly true, which leads me to my second thought…when did I become such an old fart...a coot, a codger, a fuddy-duddy, a Bass Pro hat-wearing card-carrying member of AARP?!?! Just five (as in 5, cinco, fünf, cinq, cinque, I’m not even going to try to figure out how to type in Russian – there’s a useful skill for you, I’m so glad that 20 years of education have enabled me to count to ten in six languages!) years ago my average speed was ten to fifteen miles above the posted limit, whereas today, I’m averaging the limit to five below (except on I-70 where I average about 60 mph)! I guess I had an apostrophe (I think you mean an epiphany) a few years back. I decided there was absolutely no point in being in a hurry everywhere I went and in everything that I did. So…I slowed down, literally! So as I drive home every morning after the nightly grind (that just doesn’t sound right) I watch as the denizens make their scramble to work and chuckle at the chaos of it all. Inevitably some psychotic on a bad PCP rage will come flying by at a high enough rate of speed to send them back to 1955 and I’ll roll the eyes as I give them a “Where’s the fucking fire you maniac?!”! Eventually I’ll come upon an old lady or an 18-wheeler doing 40 in the left lane during rush hour and as I pass on the right I take a moment to give them a glare that could melt lead. As a bit of a side note, I think it would be funny to carry a microwave into a retirement home and watch the scuttle that ensues to get away from it……pacemakers are funny……anyway…

I like driving in the left lane, and I'll gladly get over for a speedier driver if a: They stay off my ass, and b: They give me enough time to get past any ridiculously slow assholes in the next lane. I have to admit though that I just love making some rude and impatient asswipe go around me just so I can go ahead and get over right after he/she passes me. I guess my current philosophy is that if you’re running so late that you feel you need to drive balls to the wall to get to where you need to be, next time, leave earlier. And concurrently, if you can’t at least drive at a rate of five miles within the posted speed limit…stay the fuck home! Finally, if you feel you just can not adhere to either of these ideals, watch out, because some psycho (like me) may inevitably follow you home and make you watch as they torture your loved ones (mmm…I love the smell of …oh never mind, I’ll just keep that one to myself).

Friday, August 05, 2005

WHO [censored] GIVES A [censored]!!! THIS IS BULL[censored] MAN!!!!!!

So anyway, everyone in the free world has apparently either heard directly or heard about the fact that this guy Bob Novak dropped the b.s.-bomb on CNN yesterday. I shouldn’t admit to this as it makes me appear a tad ignorant…but…well…I don’t honestly even know who the fuck Bob-fucking-Novak is or for that matter even fucking care that he said bullshit on a national news program. I’ve stopped watching national news in general because it was making the veins in my forehead swell to near bursting. Honestly, I fail to understand the appeal of watching a roundtable of pundits bicker and rant for an hour anyway. I say what the hell, if you’re going to film grown (and supposedly educated) men fighting, why not take it to the next level and provide dangerous objects (of both the sharp, and blunt variety) and let them flog the ever-living-fuck out of each other (to quote Lewis Black, “THAT’S WHAT I’M FUCKIN’ TALKIN’ ABOUT!!!”) And what’s the real problem here? It’s that nobody should care!!! For God’s sake people, grow up!!! There comes a time in even the most civilized of conversation that it becomes problematic to truly express what is on one’s mind without the use of a……colorful metaphor (thank you Mr. Spock).

If there’s one area of this society in particular that we as a whole have yet to emerge from the primordial goop on, it’s the acceptance of commonplace swearing. Quick survey: Raise your hands if you’ve never said a ‘naughty’ word……no one……that’s what I thought. Now, raise your hands if you honestly know someone who has never, in the whole of their lifetime, uttered a ‘naughty’ word……again, no one……interesting (Fuck man, my Grandmother said ‘shit’ once or twice). And now, raise your hands if you’ve never even heard our fearless leader Dubya say “fuck”……ok, so there’s a few, but honestly…you’re not looking hard enough, it’s out there, find it people, come out from under the rock! Hell, half the country saw him give the world “The Finger” on Mind of Mencia on Comedy Central. This country needs an enema (thanks Jack)! In this supposed renaissance of strong moral family values, we’re teaching (read: preaching) the wrong thing. We should be embracing our inner potty-mouth, not shunning it. Any time this topic comes up in the media, I think of South Park: B,L, & U. Remember what Kyle’s mom said, “Remembah what the MPAA says: Senseless, deplorable violence is OK, as long as you don’t use any naughty language!”. That’s our general mentality in the U.S. We’ll shoot each other, fight each other, even blow up half the fucking universe, but for the love of Christ don’t let anyone say ‘shit’ on national TV. NYPD Blue got away with it a couple of times, E.R. did once too. Hell, South Park had the episode with the fucking counter (162 times in 22 minutes folks…that…is truly amazing!).

Ok, so, from a reasonable mindset, I’ll admit there should be some limits. After all, pass a group of 12-year-olds on the street and you’re liable to hear things that should, for all intents and purposes, make the ground shake and crack, and have the hellfires bellowing out from below (especially girls, figure that one out! Dem’ beechez iz crasy mang!). We as a society can’t truly consider ourselves civilized if every other word out of our mouths is shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, mother fucker, or tits (thank you Mr. Carlin, although he’s even noticed that generally…tits and piss are now acceptable). But at the same time, we can’t (or at least shouldn’t) have a giant collective conniption fit every time we hear Tony Soprano tell someone to fuck themselves. I use that as an example because I believe it’s A & E that got the syndication rights to The Sopranos, and that friends…should be interesting. There was a Mad TV skit once…a couple of years before they were even thinking about syndication, about what an episode on basic cable would be like. Hilarity ensued. The skit had the entire 55 minutes boiled down to approximately 90 seconds. The joke was that that was the total length of footage (excluding credits) that was ‘suitable’ for network TV. There were snap cuts left and right, not a single character could even articulate a complete sentence…it was, in a word…beautiful.

When I was in fifth grade, my best friend (at the time) Justin and I once sat outside at recess and sang Take Me out to the Ballgame inserting the word ‘fuckin’ after every word in the song. Then we tried it after every syllable. Then we added double-fucks (Take fuckin fuckin me fuckin fuckin out fuckin fuckin to fuckin fuckin the fuckin fuckin ball- fuckin fuckin game, etc). I’m pretty sure I’m not permanently emotionally or physically scarred from the incident. Point of fact, it’s one of the few good things I remember from that period. So Novak got pissed and said bullshit on the air; who cares?!?! There are far more pressing concerns around the world then what some nobody said to another nobody in an argument over some non-issue during the broadcast of an unimportant ‘news’ program. At the end of the day, 'bad' words are only bad because the stuffy bastards of the world made them that way. If I had been at the 'discussion' table, and Novak had instead chosen to say for instance, censor himself, I would have pounced on him in my best Sam Kennison with, “COME ON, SAY IT YOU FUCKING PUSSY…SAY ITSAY IT...PUUUUUSSSSSSSYYYYYY!!!”.