Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Monday, May 30, 2016

As I have every year, I came up with a list of resolutions in hopes of improving my life...and as I have every year, I end up sticking with maybe one or two of them.

One of the resolutions I've managed to uphold is no longer listening to a composer's music on their birthday. I even used to do this in the days when I had full time jobs. Inevitably, I would have more of a composer's works than could be packed into a single day, so I arranged my listening over several days. Would this cause problems? Certainly. (John Williams' birthday is February 8th. Jerry Goldsmith's is February 10th. You do the math.)

The fascinating irony is that I've given up this habit and I now have the free time to save on listening days. Perhaps, this is just as well, given that my current CD player goes through batteries like I go through popcorn during an action movie. (Even more, I'm paring my collection down for quick cash, which would definitely have made the listening easier.)

I mention this because I'd momentarily forgotten that Danny Elfman's birthday was yesterday. By this time, I'd likely have been finishing up his work and moving on to the one Michael Small album in my collection.

Now I have more time to do nothing. Kind of freeing, to be honest.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

About a month ago, I made a batch of brownies, substituting Miracle Whip for oil and heeding the box's suggestion of three eggs (instead of the traditional two) for more cake-like brownies. They were good, but I was ultimately eager for 'brownie-like' brownies.

Having gotten another box of brownie mix, I want to try again, even though I'm running low on Miracle Whip. However, this site tells me that a good substitute for oil is applesauce...and there just so happens to be some available.

Here's hoping.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

There's something weird and it don't look good.

In yet another of example of 'Goddamnit, moviegoers!', The Angry Birds Movie, an idea that should've been mailed to four years ago when people might've cared, not only topped the box office, but substantially out-grossed the far more acclaimed The Nice Guys, Shane Black's latest joint which is on my short list of 'wild dogs' movies coming this summer (as in 'Wild dogs couldn't keep me away from this'; Civil War and Suicide Squad are the others).

Sometimes, when you're forced to sit through a trailer for a movie again and again, you soon formulate the opinion that this movie is trash and you want nothing to do with it. The Angry Birds Movie was just such a trailer. Amazingly, Ghostbusters (you know, the one that's crawling with cooties) is another, and on an almost unprecedentedly toxic level. Personal opinion: the humor in the trailers is rather 'meh', but nothing I'd declare a jihad on, the way most people seem to be reacting. Maybe, it's the idea of an all-female reboot that's got people up in arms (likely started by people who've never even talked to a girl*), but there are far more objectionable movies coming to theaters, such as...

Independence Day: Regurgitation...Resurgence (as if there's a difference) - Let's see what we're working with here: a same-but-different follow-up to a smash hit from back in the day, peppered with people who helped make the original a hit. Yet Ghostbusters is getting flayed and this is getting a pass? Fuck outta here! And five more demerits to the production for not hiring David Arnold to do the music.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates - A pair of rowdy brothers need dates for their sister's wedding, so they put out an ad...and attract two girls way rowdier than them. Now that's comedy? Minor pet peeve: is this really the only way a comedy with girls in it can be accepted, if they're just as down and dirty as - if not more than - the guys?

Sausage Party - Food comes alive when humans aren't around or something. So, either The Secret Life of Pets with cursing or Foodfight with a patina of professionalism. Either way, hugely unappetizing.

Farting Corpse Movie - I suppose I could call it by its actual title, but fuck that noise. It's a movie about a farting corpse and, as such, does not deserve the dignity of a title.

Seriously, if you can watch the trailers for these movies and still say, 'Ghostbusters looks way worse', I weep for you and for the people that would inflict you on a God-fearing world.

* - Don't bullshit a bullshitter; we can smell our own.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 21, 2016

It's weird to think about now, but back in the 1990s, scores composed by such masters as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Maurice Jarre would be routinely thrown out, like junking a Cadillac because it had a broken spring. One piece of music I've grown greatly attracted to in the last few weeks is "Felina's Story", part of Bernstein's score for Walter Hill's Yojimbo-updated-to-the-1920s-yarn Last Man Standing.

One listen and I'm sure you can hear what I do: a greatly flavorful piece of music. Though the primary focus is on the cimbalom and the inevitable Ondes martenot, there's also a bit of saloon piano, likely a pertinent part of the story.

I'm sure this has come up before, but it'd be a damn shame for a film score to be thrown out because it was too interesting.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When you're a kid, you can't get enough of sweets. Hell, even in adulthood, this never changes.

Back one day in school, I passed a table and saw a container of what appeared to be Bon-Bons. As it turns out, they were sponge candy. Candy that was soft and covered in chocolate? Sign me up.

Years later, I partook of it myself and how did I find it? Hard. 'Sponge' referred to the resemblance to a sponge and not the consistency. Needless to say, I was immensely disappointed.

The reason I bring this up is two-fold: a) outside of Anderson's yesterday, I noticed that they were selling sponge candy ice cream. This is certainly guaranteed to be a softer experience than what I had all that time ago, but (money aside) I can't remember the taste of sponge candy well enough to want to pull the trigger.

And b), I believe this did a subconscious number on me. One of the best desserts I've ever encountered is yellow cake with chocolate frosting; kind of like sponge candy. The problem is that I can't really find it anymore. Sara Lee used to have this as part of their snack cake line, but it seems to have disappeared. Likewise, Little Debbie, which used to sell them all year round, just has their Fall Party Cakes, available for a six-week window. It's like a sort of long con variation on 'they found out I liked it, so they stopped making it', which is weird. Everyone likes yellow cake with chocolate frosting, don't they?

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Favorite Scores: Cherry 2000 (Basil Poledouris)

I can't say it enough, kids: I love film music. The sounds, the melodies, the emotions it arouses. I've had in interest in film music for roughly two decades and, in that time, I've come across a number of scores I have no qualms about calling my favorites.

Given the kid's-game-show-obstacle-course insanity of filmmaking, it's truly astounding that any movies get released, much less made. Every so often, a film is completed, but there's a long time before it sees release. Most often, this points to trouble in paradise, but sometimes, it can obscure a possible diamond in the rough.

In the near-future, relationships are achieved through obtaining robotic companions (...if only, right?) or through lawyer-monitored contracts. Sam's (David Andrews) artificial lover goes on the fritz, so he ventures into dangerous territory for a replacement, accompanied by E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith), a tough-as-nails tracker. One-of-a-kind futuristic Western adventure; what it lacks in narrative urgency, it makes up for with some neat touches and a terrific supporting cast.

Given his higher-profile work on Conan the Barbarian and RoboCop, one would be a little surprised to find Basil Poledouris working on this movie, but the composer rose to the occasion, producing a score just as good as the ones for those genre favorites.

Cherry's theme is a lilting melody that ably suggests the perfect ideal that is a Cherry 2000. Whether played by flute ("Main Title", "Flashback #2") or strings ("Flashback #1", "Cherry Awakens"), it makes for a beautiful theme, even as the backing electronics gently remind the listener of her true origin.

In a weird though fascinating touch, Poledouris used the film's title for the basis of no less than three different singable motifs. The theme for E ('cherrrrrr-ry two thou-SAND') appears (for the first time in the film) halfway into "The Barricades" and bookends "Photograb". The low brass melody bespeaks her hard-bitten, take-no-prisoners vibe.

The second one, a brass over string ostinato motif ('cher-ry two THOU-sand') isn't really tied to any character; it just seems to accompany moments of explosive conflict. Introduced 3:29 into "Magneto", it dominates "Pipeline" and figures heavily into "End of Lester".

The third motif is a love theme for Sam and E ('dun-dun-dun, da-cher-ry two THOU-sand'). It's deftly hidden in the luau-esque source cue "Jake's Jukebox" (there's a typo on the Prometheus album), as if to suggest that Six-Fingered Jake (Ben Johnson) sees the attraction between the two before they do. (Another clever moment comes in "Hooded Love" when the two get hot and heavy, their love theme played electronically, while Cherry's theme overlaps in an acoustic flute reading.)

"Drive to Gloryhole" (!) impresses with rock guitar, while "E Flips Sam" lurks with hints of Morricone on English horn and trumpet, leading to its string sting coda. "Drive" is earmarked by its hypnotic synth backbeat. "The Barricades" is another fine cue, mixing churning strings, swelling brass and tolling bells.

One of the score's show-stoppers is "Magneto", when E's Charger is lifted over a ravine by a giant magnet. The cue starts quietly with tinkling notes, then builds on the churning of "The Barricades", hinting at E's theme without fully stating it. Brass soon swells as our heroes fight off the attackers. Ultimately, electronics rain down much like the water of the drainpipe they are lowered into.

"Lights Out" introduces two other melodies, an ascending, dream-like electronic motif for Jake (0:30) and a driving, cyclical action theme (1:05) for Lester, the film's Big Bad, amusingly incarnated by Tim Thomerson. "Thrashing of Sky Ranch" makes for a fascinating collision of motifs, starting with an eerily drawn-out version of Lester's theme, leading into Jake's melody and the potential love theme and a reprise of the pounding rhythms of "Magneto" as a kidnapped Sam gets some payback on Lester's pad, blowing it up.

A minor, almost comic motif for bass clarinet, cello and marimba appears in "Drop 'em", as an attempt to get a plane for the next leg of the journey leads to a conga line-style standoff (it makes sense if you see the film). There's also a neat bit of mickey-mousing in "Randa (on) Mic" (another typo) as the motif is accompanied by swirling strings for the rolling of a tire.

It all comes to a head with "Lights On" and "End of Lester", two unsung examples of the composer's mastery of the action genre. In the former, as Lester's gun-toting minions take aim at our escaping heroes, their boss's theme hails down upon them, but the tide turns and the minions and Lester are taken out with the help of E's theme...but the blaring brass at the start of the latter cue suggests that Lester isn't yet down for the count. Chopping strings and the 'conflict' motif lead to Cherry's theme as she and Sam fly off, leaving E pinned down. Even as Cherry's theme sails majestically with strings and electronics, Sam soon realizes that he may be flying back with the wrong woman. The plane's U-turn signals a triumphant brass reading of Sam and E's love theme. The new couple flies off, even as the conflict theme dies out with Lester's last attack. "The End" reprises the love theme for its fly-into-the-sunrise coda.

All told, this is a engaging score, one of the most eclectic to come from Poledouris' pen and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. (The bottom of the bill score, the electronic No Man's Land, isn't too bad, either.)

Availability: This was one of the first releases in the Varese Sarabande CD Club back in the late 80s and at one point, this was the most expensive soundtrack of all time. Prometheus Records put out a release in 2004, then Intrada released an album in 2011, paired with The House of God. Given the weird sequencing and it being hard-as-hell-to-find, I wouldn't recommend the former. The latter two albums are available from various retailers.

Prometheus PCD 155

Track Listing:
1. Cherry 2000 - Main Title (1:58)
2. Photograb - Alternate Mix (1:11)
3. Cherry Shorts Out (1:32)
4. Lights On - Alternate Mix (1:51)
5. Flashback #1/Drive to Gloryhole (1:25)
6. E Flips Sam (1:17)
7. The Barricades (1:51)
8. Flashback #2 (1:06)
9. Photograb (1:11)
10. Magneto (4:19)
11. Pipeline (0:57)
12. Water Slide (1:04)
13. Juke's (sic) Jukebox (1:37)
14. Lights Out (1:26)
15. Moving (0:37)
16. Thrashing of Sky Ranch (3:24)
17. Drive (1:56)
18. Hooded Love (1:16)
19. Ambush in the Cave/Truck Fight (2:13)
20. Lester Follows (0:19)
21. Drop 'em (0:41)
22. Lester on the Move (0:39)
23. Rauda (sic) (on) Mic (0:43)
24. Jake Killed (0:51)
25. Plane to Vegas (1:01)
26. Cherry Awakens (1:13)
27. Lights On (1:51)
28. End of Lester (5:02)
29. The End (0:37)

music from No Man's Land:
30. No Man's Land - Main Title (2:58)
31. P.C.H. (1:01)
32. First Score (2:25)
33. Lone Score (1:18)
34. Love Theme (1:38)
35. Chase (5:27)
36. Porsche Power/Drive My Car? (2:39)
37. Ann Buttons (1:13)
38. Payoff (3:27)
39. Showtime (4:16)
40. No Man's Land - End Credits (3:01)

41. Cherry 2000 - Bonus Track - Movietone (0:56)


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yeah, I probably could've made a birthday post, but it likely would've devolved into yet another rumination on how nothing seems to change with each passing year. I did manage to get the day off (I can't imagine anyone wanting to work on their birthday)...but when practically all you have are days off (but with far less money than you'd like), what's the point?

I just wish my life would get better.

Labels: ,