It was the best of tines, it was the wurst of tines: sausage sometimes stayed on the fork, and somtimes slipped off.
This concludes "regretting the 'I should read more Dickens' dummy copy week."
That’s Bruno Walte up there, for Columbia records. I think it’s an ad that announced a new series of Beethoven’s symphonies on 356 disks. Reminds me of the early days of CDs, when they’d chop up a movement into four or five segments based on tempi markings, never thinking of the day when the disk would be ripped and give you, say, Mahler’s 6th in 35 files. Anyway, he’s up there because I’m doing Orchestra Hall on Sunday, and will feel all civilized and long-haired, in the old sense.
The oldest of the four orchestras did Firebird a while back, and I thought of that when finishing up Fantasia 2000 the other night. I’d stopped watching in the middle of Firebird because I was tired, and because the video resolution had dropped to “mud, as seen through pebbled glass smeared with Vaseline.” So I sat down the next night and the resolution was just as bad. Sigh. Go upstairs, unplug modem and router, see if that helps.
OH NO I HAVE BEEN SEVERED FROM THE INFORMATIONAL UMBILICAL
Really, for a second I did think I can’t get instant access to whatever I might want right now. Of course, it was 1:21 AM, but still. Then I realized my phone would default to the cellular network. Then I realized this was nuts. This used to be called “ordinary life.” You were always disconnected from everything else that wasn’t in your immediate vicinity. It all seems so boring in retrospect, to be honest; you were stuck with what you had. At best you could order a movie, but that cost money and seemed like a tremendous commitment.
So we went to the bar and didn’t talk to strangers. As opposed to staying home now with your magical glowing rectangle and talking to strangers.
Anyway: Fantasia 2000. If you haven’t seen it, and you liked the original, you should, if only to compare cultural messages. The original began with impressionistic abstract representations of Bach; 2000 begins with abstract CGI butterflies. Both choices serve to jolt the viewer out of their expectations. The original had Mickey; 2000 has Donald, as Noah’s assistant; both involve water. Both use the “Sorceror’s Apprentice” sequence, because Disney has a lot invested in Mickey and that hat. The “Rhapsody in Blue” sequence, done entirely in the style of Al Hirschfeld, is grand.
But. The interstitial bits in 2000 are awful. Steve Martin comes out and does Steve Martin. Bette Midler cements that long-standing association between Bette Midler and classical music. The orchestra set for 2000 is magnificent, but the tone is eager to assure us that this isn’t going to hurt - sure, it’s Serious music, but it’ll be fun. Look, kids, Steve Martin!
The original had a bit of that as well. The fellow who did the introductions was Deems Taylor, a composer and critic and advocate for classical music, and he had a certain laconic style that was unmistakably American. His interchange with the “soundtrack” animated sequence was a bit slangy, just to reassure the audience that a regular joe could like this stuff and still dig the hep, or however they put it.
The original ends with “Night on Bald Mountain” giving way to an exquisite performance of “Ave Maria,” with the rows of supplicants and their glowing lights moving through a stylized forest, the limbs and branches forming a cathedral both ruined and ever renewing. The massed choruses at the end disappearing in echoes and reverb is like a Disney rebuke to the dissolution of Holst’s “Planets,” which unravels in a way that suggests the evaporation of the individual into bliss and infinite peace; the “Ave Maria” arrangement suggests a solid Beyond where the individual not only survives, but can audition for the alto section. It is explicitly religious without a single piece of religious iconography.
The ending of 2000 is pagan, in a way - a cute and winsome chlorophyll goddess is bringing the world back to life as her old friend a Noble Stag looks on. If there’s anything to be worshipped, it’s Nature. But I don’t think there’s any message here, such as Pray to Gaia! Recycle! The bad guy is a fire demon in a mountain, and volcanos are as much a part of the earth as anything else. Why, the invigoration of the soil by volcanic eruption is a good thing, in the long run.
Pompeii, after all, was known for its wine.
Odds and ends, aka things I never got around to posting this week: only one orphan unposted in the course of this cold blue-grey month. From a LOOK mag I bought last week:
Mutilating a mag could land you in stir.
Your weekly updates, because you are dying to know how the buildings across the street are going. They are going. Specfically up:
Bit more than halfway up. Remember, there's another one of those across the street. (Shot with the new iPhone wide-angle lens gizmo, BTW.)
Pupdate: just tall enough to peer over and interrogate the world.
As you can tell, we're not exactly snowbound.
Well, that's it for today!
Just kidding. Music, double-entendres, an old radio ad, and a 60s vinyl below. Such riches!
As usual for Friday, the Music Cues. This year we'll be showcasing more peculiarities from old-time radio - dialogue, themes, and so on. But of course we begin with the Couple Next Door.
CND Cue #514 The Insane Hoedown cue. It's like a cazy horse is rearing in the living room, kicking his hooves.
CND Cue #515 Music for running to the store to Read the Shocking Story. Which, BTW, was a magazine article about a woman held hostage in her house by a criminal. Much was . . . implied by the ad.
Speaking of implying things: this was possibly the most ribald thing ever said on the radio in the latter 50s. Gunsmoke:
Moving along with the innumerable Gunsmoke cues; almost done.
Gunsmoke #55 Well, will he be in his office? The suspense is killing me, and also making the horns pass gas.
Gunsmoke #56 Another of the latter cues that could be used on a Sci-Fi show as well.
Gunsmoke #57 Ditto this. Very western? No.
Gunsmoke #58 Matt liked to go to his office.
And to round out the radio offerings, here's 1960 Ad for Long Distance.
It's not too expensive.
This week: A TV Theme. Sorry, a GREAT TV theme. In Phase 4 Stereo!
Frank Chacksfield. Not a household name today, but he sold 20 million records in his day. This was the last one.
The "Jackie Gleason Show" theme is the 40s tune "Shangri-La," not the usual Melancholy Serenade. Seems unwise to release an easy-listening orchestral version of something Gleason had already done.
By the way, here's the back.
There you have it; thanks for the visits this week, and I hope to earn your patronage next week.