Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Media Monday Tuesday
What have you been reading, listening to or watching?

Doug seems ho-hum on Stage Beauty.
Steven P, who I'm convinced never sleeps, heartily recommends Michael Cunningham's new book, Specimen Days

What makes that American sound?

I love this story. Even though I knew many American composers were gay, I hadn't really put this together, but can't wait to bring this up next semester to my 20th century theory class in front of all those conservative kids. From the Dallas Morning News (free reg. req'd, but you can always use email=kos@dailykos.com; password = dailykos)
Along with the boom of rockets and crackle of firecrackers, the sounds of the Fourth of July include the brassy flourishes and drum-poundings of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is playing it today at City Hall Plaza, along with Copland's Outdoor Overture. The composer's Lincoln Portrait and Billy the Kid Suite are being performed this weekend by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

More than half a century on, and 15 years after Copland's death, these works still define a distinctively American sound. Rodeo even backs James Garner's growl, "Beef. It's what's for dinner." It's hard to imagine a movie about the American West without music inspired by Copland's wide-open sonorities. Copland's scores are part of our national mythology. Their wide-eyed clarity and tunefulness radiate working-class idealism and traditional family values.

Ironically, these celebrations of outdoorsy, big-sky Americana, and of WASP home and hearth, were created by a homosexual Jew from Brooklyn....Copland was one of a group of composers who, starting in the 1930s, cultivated a new nationalist – or at least populist modernist – style. And most of them were gay, including Virgil Thomson, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, David Diamond, Lou Harrison, Paul Bowles, Marc Blitzstein and Ned Rorem....By contrast, most of the pricklier modernists, including Charles Ives, Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions, were straight.
The piece points out that Copland's work was recently featured in a US Army promotion...

Live 8 Concerts
I haven't said much of anything about the Live 8 concerts because, as much as I wish I had attended 1 or 2, as a political statement I just don't really understand the goal or strategy. It may very well be brilliant and effective (at something), but until that's demonstrated, I associate myself with Doug's remarks. He followed up with some thoughts after watching a bit of the coverage:
I guess we now get to relax for another twenty years until we again notice that Africa remains in utter poverty and we all get together to do it again.
That sounds about right to me. But I hope we're both wrong.

Article 19 Book Recommendation: Moral Politics by George Lakoff
*********** (11 out of 19)
Another book I started several months ago and just now got around to finishing. It asks a simple question--what holds the standard conservative, and liberal, positions together? What is the fundamental belief and priority underlying each side that explains and even predicts the position a conservative or a liberal will take over the spectrum of political issues. He offers a brilliant, insightful answer: that our models of family, and the rich metaphors that give them shape are the same perspectives that drive and unite our political positions. Specifically, conservatives bring to their attitude of government a "strict father" philosophy that values maintenance of the moral order through reward and punishment. Liberals counter with a "nurturant parent" moarlity that emphasizes empathy and self-fulfillment.

So, why only 11 stars out of 19? Because after the first 120 pages, in which this theory is adequately and convincingly presented, the remaining 280 say essentially the same thing, over and over. It would have been just as powerful at about half the size. I don't mind the academic style so much because I'm accustomed to it, but I refuse to believe that academic must be tedious. And much of this, presumably in the name of rigor, qualifies as tedious even to my nerdy ears.

Still, if you want to know how that theory works, I strongly recommend the first third.

Article 19 Film Recommendation: Batman Begins
*************** (15 out of 19)
Thought it was awesome. Fun, exciting, dark, inventive. But best of all was an amazing cast. Michael Caine, Rutger Hauer, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman (what can't he do?), Morgan Freeman. It all made Katie Holmes seem pretty juvenile and a bit out of place. Do we really need a young face that bad? Someone Christian Bale's age would still be plenty young. My only beef with the plot was that I never really had much of a handle of the evil plot...at least the "why" of it.

Weekend Box Office
1. War of the Worlds
2. Batman Begins
3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
4. Bewitched (after seeing commercials now I'm confused. Is this a film version of the TV show? Or a movie about the making of the TV show? Or a weird combination of both?)
5. Herbie

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