Monday, February 14, 2005

What have you been reading, watching, listening to?

Lewberry recommends Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (definitely on my list to see), and bows down to the King in love song supremacy.

Final Million Dollar Baby Thought: New Characters, Please.
This film has stuck with me for 3 weeks while I tried to sort it all out. And I have some level of respect for any movie that can generate such passion, thought and conversation as this one has. It drew me in early on with a smart, understated though predictable script, at least the first hour. But it also dragged me through a handful of needlessly offensive turns along the way. Maybe knowing Clint is such a Republican makes me more sensitive to it, I don't know. It irks me to not be able to defend a film under attack by Rush and the Christian Right. Obviously, I dislike it for mostly different reasons than they do. Namely, the cynical caricatures of poor Southern women like Maggie's mother, cartoonish depictions of cheating evil foreign women like her strongest opponent (didn't Rocky cover that basic ground in, what, sequel #4?), and a general confirmation of the tired misogynist narrative that demands the suffering of any emerging heroine to allow the promotion of a strong male introspective lead.

I hate to be on the opposite side from Ebert on this one, and other people I like and respect. And I understand his position that here the characters are true to themselves (even if I disagree that they necessarily are). But, and I hate to dust off the feminist language, why do we need more stories and characters - snappy script and good acting or not - true to such a patriarchal archetype? Even if he had avoided the offensive side characters, this film would still suffer from its basic determination to make Clint the main character. There are already enough stories told from a decidedly male perspective. But do even the ones that are ostensibly about the determination of a tough woman of little means have to be told that way? And do they really still have to be so egocentric on that count that the suffering and demise and ridicule of most every other character must follow? Save of course the black man, dependent on Clint's kindness, who needs nothing more than a cot and his friendship.

There I said it. I hope I'm overreacting. Probably am.

Want a job in music?
Pick up the oboe.
As John Mack, the dean of American oboists, put it, "People are running around like headless chickens saying, 'Where are we going to find people?' "

The lack of a permanent, full-time principal may not be readily obvious to the concertgoer, accustomed to hearing the orchestra tune to the oboist's pitch, a plaintive A. But the instrument has some of the most prominent solo material in symphonic music.

Observers of the oboe world - which would mean just about no one but oboists - say the sudden raft of openings appears on the surface to be a confluence of health problems and retirements.
The oboe is one of the most delicate, difficult-to-play instruments in the world, certainly in the symphony. The harsh sound is exposed, and it's given important things to play regularly. The little-known fact I like the most about the oboe is that one of its close relatives is the accordion: the oboe is a double-reed instrument, like the bagpipes; the accordion is a free reed, which isn't alot different. Hoity-toity meets the polka.

Peaches en Regalia
A site devoted to the legendary Zappa instrumental. Includes a MIDI version that is shockingly accurate, and plays when you visit, so turn your speakers up. Also plenty of info on the tune, both nerdy and otherwise. While I'm at it, here's the best web resource for Zappa I know (watch out, there's some naughty words in there..). It has complete lyrics, "every word spoken on every album," and more. There's even a lyric search function. If there is not enough Zappa in your life (how could there be?), then this site is for you. Just looking at the album covers makes me want to put Lumpy Gravy, Uncle Meat, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh into the CD changer as soon as I get home. Probably not much of a 2/14 selection I admit...

When will the madness end?
How many more old TV shows can be made into movies? Fat Albert, SWAT, Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels, The Brady Bunch....ugh. And there's Bewitched, Dukes of Hazzard and now Miami Vice to look forward to. Can reality movies be far behind?

I hate the Grammy Awards...
Though I happened to flip by Melissa Etheridge performing a fabulously intense tribute to Janis Joplin. But I'm glad I missed the rest. And how is it even over? What with all the awards they give out...full list of winners here, if you care.

For discussion: in the spirit of the day, what are your favorite love stories, love songs? Songs/stories about love? Not talking about grand, spiritual love. I'm talking romance here people. And remember, when reaching for that bitter sarcastic response, your spouse and/or lover may be never know.

[UPDATE] - My Picks:
1. You can't go wrong with Casablanca. Hate to be cliche about it, but it's got the right mix of romance and spunk, even though the romance ends bittersweetly.
2. Manhattan is also a favorite, also with something of a bittersweet ending. But the romance was cuter before Woody Allen ran off with this daughter in real life. Have to replace it with Annie Hall, a much better Valentine's Day movie.
3. I know this will peg me a sentimental fool (or is that already obvious), but I am one of the few that thought Shakespeare in Love was a proper best-picture recipient, a beautiful and funny love story and statement on love.
4. Like Water for Chocolate, also a winner.

Not sure about songs, that's tougher.

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