Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Monday, April 24, 2023
My offer went appreciated but ultimately rejected.
The bloke explained his position: "I'm in no rush, either. There's no Leafs game to watch tonight."
I told him that I'm old enough to have remembered the last Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup victory had I seen it, but I was living overseas in 1967. My memory was in full swing by that point.
As I explained to the gent, "I could tell people that I saw the Leafs win the Stanley Cup". (What a claim that would be. With beer and pretzels.)
Then depression set in. That was a long time ago!
Sorry, Leafs fans. Fallen to the cracks of history.
Sunday, April 23, 2023
A picture from 1967 featuring Liberal Party of Canada politicians: Pierre Trudeau; John Turner; then prime minister Lester B. Pearson; and Jean Chrétien.
Messrs Trudeau, Turner, and Chrétien would become prime ministers of this great country.
Monday, April 17, 2023
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Monday, April 10, 2023
Sunday, April 9, 2023
Friday, April 7, 2023
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Dave had a four-track audio recorder; it used cassette tape, the kind of tape used as the 'outgoing' message on my Panasonic answering machine. Inspiration hit the two of us fast and hard. We wrote the script quickly and prepared to record the message. In my music collection I have a CD titled "Hollywood's Greatest Hits Volume Two". On one track Dave and I laid down Elmer Bernstein's theme from the 1956 opus The Ten Commandments, specifically, the pastoral passage right after the bombast proper ― the background music we hear playing under the voice of God.
Next: Dave's recording of the voice of God. His voice was better than my nasally own for this important document. After we had the two tracks down it was a matter of giving the commanding orator some reverb. (A dry voice track would inspire no one, no matter how persuasive the text.)
We were very happy with our effort.
As the British would say, "the show went out".
The reaction was much greater than what we were expecting. Callers who got the outgoing message thought it was very funny, hilarious. What happened was the word quickly got around about our answering machine commandments. People would call just to hear the message, and since Dave and I were busy guys, chances were that they would get the machine.
A mutual friend went into hysterics when we gave him a live playback, but after he regained his composure, he told us his concern that some folk might not find our commandments humorous.
After some time Dave and I pulled the work. Unfortunately it's gone; we know not where.
Here is a transcription, not scripture:
"Luuuke. I mean....Mosesss. Thou shalt leave a message at the tone. Leave thy name and numberrr... (at this point Dave's voice speeds into a 'Maxwell Smart') ... And when I get a chance, I'll call you back!"
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Monday, April 3, 2023
Titled, simply enough, "Soundtrack Albums", the piece involved Kermode's memories of discovering film scores and soundtracks. He talks of his first acquisitions, then goes on to interview several filmmakers and composers.
I remember my first soundtrack album. It was from a film I had seen just months before, in 1975, at the Terra Theatre at CFB Borden: Rollerball.
Later, as I perused the LP record bin at Borden's PX (Post Exchange), I happened across the Rollerball soundtrack and learned then that there was a tie-in record. I bought it on the spot. This LP was not an original soundtrack in the traditional sense, but a compilation of music: A mix of Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Bach, and two more-contemporary pieces by Andre Previn composed specifically for the film. One of the catches for me was Tomaso Albinoni's "Adagio"; I remembered that it was used quite effectively in the Space: 1999 television series episode "Dragon's Domain", which I had also seen just a few months earlier. Now that I think about it, I played the Rollerball record a lot. It was not my introduction to recorded classical music ― my parents had a good selection from that domain ― but the choices, no doubt by the film's director, Norman Jewison, seemed to be a perfect blend for this then young listener.
My next album was the music to Space: 1999, which I was a little disappointed in, and a couple of years after that was Battlestar Galactica. (What's with all the sci-fi TV crap? Oh yeah, I was young.) A side note to the latter score: When I listened to it again, many years later, I couldn't help but notice the William Walton influence. This really comes through on one piece in particular.
No, I did not get the soundtrack to Star Wars in 1977. What turned me off of buying it, I think, was my honest and raw reaction after a friend of mine lent me the two-LP set a few weeks before we saw the movie. (The album was actually available before the movie release itself in some markets.) As I had discovered Miklos Rosza's Ben Hur music the summer before ― courtesy of my dad's original 1959 "Stereophonic" pressing of that album ― the Star Wars music on its own sounded rather lame to me. When I returned the album to my friend I mentioned that I found the music to be "watery" and didn't even bother moving on to "side 2". (He too was not impressed. After all, this was the guy who got me into the German band, Kraftwerk.) Of course, as I discovered when I saw the film, the music plays wonderfully well with picture and is a classic film score. Film scores, as composer Gerald Fried noted in an interview years ago, generally don't stand on their own as music. This is not a failing, of course, since they are designed, quite designed in fact, to play with picture and other audio elements. Those audio tracks can get quite crowded. Some scores do work on their own; it doesn't mean they are better scores, just that they can be listened to away from the movie. I've since acquired the Star Wars CD and I like the background music much better now as a standalone... the few times I've given it a spin. Oh, I bought the LP version in 1982.
The first 'original music' film score soundtrack LP that I remember getting was for Alien. I was very impressed, even though I had not yet seen the film. Speaking of film composer Jerry Goldsmith, for that's who I was speaking of in that case, later in 1979 he would produce his brilliant music accompaniment for Star Trek - The Motion Picture. (It's the best part of that slightly underrated film, I think. The theme tune, in particular, is one of the greatest of movie anthems.)
What's with all the sci-fi movie scores? Well, for starters, there's the LP to Patton.
I'm a fan of the late composer Jerry Goldsmith. His effect was best summed up recently by producer/writer Seth MacFarlane on a BBC radio show: "(Goldsmith) was an insanely talented guy."
There are others whose work I admire: (the great) Bernard Herrmann, Franz Waxman, Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, John Williams, David Shire, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Ron Goodwin....
Decades ago I stopped collecting film scores. The odd one would trickle down onto my shelf. I enjoy film scores best when they are with the actual film. Also, scoring today, 'the state of', is pretty pathetic. I'm speaking more of the Hollywood product. While smaller films are getting some fine work in that area, most "tent pole" pictures are tracked with overwrought orchestral parts of nothing (but noise). It's been this way for years. It's hardly a requirement that a film theme should consist of a memorable 'song', it really depends on the show, but, as film director Edgar Wright asks in the Mark Kermode program I listened to last night: "What's the most recent film score that you can really hum?"
Ahh... ahh... ahh.....
Okay, I'll cheat and play The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. That just might be the soundtrack of most of our lives.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump was admitted to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Friday, not after already being tested and confirmed as COVID-19 positive, but after feeling unwell throughout the night. He was advised to seek serious medical treatment, immediately. The president has long downplayed the severity of the virus, and has ignored the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans. Deaths but a little inconvenient: for him, and for the people who've died. Yesterday he exited Walter Reed and took a joy ride in his armoured vehicle to show his faithful, who stood outside with their banners of support and reaffirmation, that the king had beaten the unseen and not-real plague.
Later in the day Trump went home triumphantly to the White House and waved with laboured breath to the crowd. All is good again in the Great Kingdom.
If this were a Brothers Grimm story, how might it end? Most of us would not wish something like this on Mr Trump, but, given his mean nature toward his fellow man and woman, one can have fun with a fanciful tale....
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Years ago I worked at an "optical house" where I was the afternoon shift camera guy. This entailed frequently working into the wee hours of the morning; using the technical side of your brain when it would rather be in sleep mode.
My coworker ― the day cameraman ― would leave the radio on for me after we discussed what it was I had to shoot and how I could shoot it. Unfortunately the radio was tuned to one of the annoying pop stations, which only served to annoy me as I tried to shoot opticals. After a few days of annoyance I decided it would be best for my sanity if I were to change the station to a classical one. Great: I could shoot film while dancing to Schumann's Symphony No 3. (Known to fantasy movie fans as the theme to the 1988 crappic, Willow.)
One night the classical station's host played a little Richard Wagner but before he started rolling the music track he talked a bit about conductor Leonard Bernstein. The maestro was quoted giving his feelings on the uber composer. Wagner was a racist, an anti-Semite, and so on: "I despise him, but I despise him on my knees!"
After I heard that, I was on my knees!