29.8.13

Why Bill Watterson is Da-da's Hero


28.8.13

The Taking of Da-da ONE TWO THREE




He's not really that old, but Da-da has lived several lives, whether he liked it or not. Prior to math and science and humanities -- and a long cool dip into all things anomaly and parental brain damage -- Da-da was a professional jazz and classical musician for over a decade. (Da-da considers himself a recovering musician.) Da-da merges, or perhaps CONFUSES, this conflicting knowledge base with his love for movies, and has maintained for years that cinema's real third dimension is SOUND. In capital letters. Especially in terms of music. (The gimmicky 3-D process itself is nothing but a crutch for a bad movie.)

Someone should do this as a short subject: take a simple scene of two people in a room. Simple dialogue. Run it with no music. There's a certain gritty feeling to it. Now add circus music over the shot, in the background. Totally different feeling. Sorta, "Carnival of Souls." Now drop that and use a moody faux-string wash a la early X-Files. Again, a totally different feeling. Same scene, same actors, same action, but a totally different clutch of emotions each time. Such is the power of music over human emotion.

Musically speaking, it goes without saying that composers invariably listen to one another and are influenced back and forth all over the place, which is great. There are countless historic examples, but there are also easy-to-access cinematic examples.

Example #1: David Shire and Chris Boardman

David Shire's neurotic jazz-funk soundtrack for, "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)," SOUNDS like 1974; you can feel the naugahide, the big bushy sideburns, the gritty NY of the '70s. Shire's score is brash and disharmonic and full of chaotic energy. Speaking as one who's played a lot of '70s funk (it's almost better than sex), it was fun to hear the PELHAM score for the first time, just recently in fact; Da-da had seen the film, but not from the beginning. (There is simply NO ONE as good as Robert Shaw acting these days.)  Listen to the main title before you move on:


Now, have a listen to Chris Boardman's sociopathic jazz-funk soundtrack from, "PAYBACK (1999)" with Mel Gibson (a remake of Lee Marvin in, "Point Blank (1967"). Boardman was 20 when PELHAM came out, and it obviously stuck with him -- or with one of the key folks in the production: PELHAM sounds like a drug coursing through PAYBACK's blood stream:


The latter is undeniably an homage to the former, and... well, Da-da likes PAYBACK a bit better; Da-da's a sucker for minor counterpoint, which we already knew. Boardman cranks up the drama more than Shire, but the influence is unmistakable. (Note: Da-da also liked the original theatrical release better than the director's cut... 'cause the music was different! Not half as good.)

Example #2:  Thomas Newman vs. Thomas Newman vs. Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman's style is easily recognizeable (by Da-da, anyway), and has been copied a lot, it seems, even by Newman himself. (Da-da has repeatedly wished he were part of the musical Newman family). So. Try a few chunks of Newman's score from, "Scent of a Woman (1992)" which buoyed Al Pacino's Academy Award-winning performance (pay special attention to the 4:00 minute mark):


Now sample Newman's score two years later for, "The Shawshank Redemption (1994)" (esp. at 2:45"):


Now try his main score from, "American Beauty (1999)".


You can almost hear the music sliding around inside Newman's head. These three soundtracks are actually one big original musical thought. Da-da's not casting aspersions here. Far from it. The three soundtracks sound like one complete master suite.

Example #3: Dave Grusin vs. Dave Grusin

Da-da loves Dave Grusin. Unfortunately for Dave, Da-da's got everything he's ever done memorized. This was thrown into sharp relief when Da-da recently saw, "Random Hearts (1999)," with Harrison Ford, for the first time... and heard Dave's score for, "Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)" all over it -- one of Da-da's al-time favorite movies, because he lived it -- the same score that brought Dave an Academy Award. (Da-da has earned the right to call him by his first name, btw.)

Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
(Click on "Jack's Theme")


Example 4: Carter Burwell vs. Carter Burwell ad nauseum

It seems Da-da has more Carter Burwell-scored films in his collection than any other. Burwell started his career scoring the first, "Blood Simple (1984)" -- and all the rest -- of the Coen Brother's films, as well as a zillion others, each with its unique style, but each can be traced back to Burwell's core ideas of simplicity and building tonal tension/release. In order of appearance:






Coda

Da-da has lots of this type of musical bloodline ancestry in his head. There are countless examples. Da-da was made acutely aware of this one day when he stopped and looked at the entirety of his movie collection, wondering why he chose to own those certain movies, what they all had in common. As it turned out, the common denominator was music.

Did you hear that?

25.8.13

The Long Bipolar Kiss Goodnight UPDATED



Here's this, again, updated.

It's not officially fall -- which is Da-da's natural state, btw -- but the leaves on Da-da's trees, and those all over his region, have been dropping since June 1st. AGAIN. Da-da doesn't care what the mainstream media is saying, as they're paid by the agenda, but the below data points to either colder temperatures, or perhaps heavier leaves. Ostensibly due to reduced solar output (the sun is now in full SNOOZE mode, as Da-da predicted back in 2010), coupled with more volcanoes going off here and there, increased levels of meteor dust in the atmosphere (can anyone remember when we were hit by so many meteors?)... this all basically points to you buying a heavier jacket. Or investing in LLBean. Yup. We're talkin' colder winters. And cooler summers.

Doubt it? Here's a bunch of recent supporting data:

23.8.13

The Once and Future Da-da


School has begun, but Da-da's brain-clutch is still slipping. Someday, sentience may return. In 2033.

21.8.13

14.8.13

Da-da's Summering Catalog of Transient Pleasures


Transient Pleasure #2: THIS is what John Donne meant when he said,
"No man's an island, but the archipelago's a spastic nerfbag."

Da-da's Summering Catalog of Transient Pleasures


Transient Pleasure #1: Unemployed in Uummannaq, West Greenland. Time to climb Mt. Da-da.


Da-da's on vacation this week, summering in indentured parental servitude, wasting his money on transient pleasures that aren't all that pleasurable. Sure, much of it looks like downtown San Bernardino, but there are gems everywhere... somewhere... here and there? Ok, there don't seem to be any gems, but denial makes good polish.

12.8.13

Fear and Loathing on the Parenthood Express: A Back to School Special


Sums up Life -- and parenting -- nicely.
Da-da's said, on several occasions, that parenting exists somewhere between Christmas and being roasted alive. Nowhere is this brought into sharper relief than when one reads educational material, brochures and ad copy meant for parents. At a recent school open house/orientation, the literature they handed out instantly set Da-da's feet to the fire with rubrics like...

"Preparing Them For Success and Happiness"

...and...

"College Prep Begins in Kindergarten"

...and Da-da's favorite...

"Don't Let Your Child Be Left Behind."

Ah, fear. Parenting and fear. Da-da had no fear until he had children... so, it must've been in there all along? But, "preparing them for success and happiness"? At best, the above words in red are a myopic inaccuracy; at worst, a manipulative lie, designed to sell you a high-priced education via FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Da-da can't send his kids to insanely priced private schools, but he can give them a leg up by being there for them, and teaching them everything he knows... which isn't much, admittedly, but might make them more fun at parties. Or standing in the eye of the hurricane.

Da-da doesn't know about you, but besides preparing his kids for, "SUCCESS," he's also preparing them for those times when they're NOT successful, or happy. Because, like Dr. Suess says, it will happen quite a lot.


A neverending stream of extreme happiness and success is untenable... and maybe even a bit boring. But how would Da-da know, right? It's trite, but Life is an amazing, horrible, thrilling, tedious, boring-as-hell roller coaster that may very well fail while you're riding it. Let's go with that a moment.

Roller coasters aren't all about thrills. You usually have to first drive a ways to get to one, pay a price to get near it, drink $6 sodas and eat $12 hot dogs, then stand in line a looooong time, exercising those boredom and patience and auto-entertaining muscles. When you're finally there, strapping yourself into the seat requires a bit of courage -- and precision, so you don't fall out. Enduring those various flavors and odors of humanity around you works your forgiveness mojo. The ride itself invokes fear -- one of the two human common denominators -- as well as thrills, centripetal and centripedal forces, getting barfed on, etc. Then there's the end of the ride, the inevitable part where the cars slow and prepare to disgorge you back into the unwashed masses, a little queasy and dizzy. Up and down, round and round... and back to square one: welcome to Life! If you can prepare kids for this, you're doing well.

Thus, Da-da encourages both unstructured play vs. structured play, as one teaches reinforces creativity, the other patience and, "the social game." Might as well call it what it is. Da-da's children won't be deliriously happy, or hideously successful. Da-da hates extremes. "Happy" is such a lame, vague, overused word. Da-da hopes his children will be content. Content, patient and resilient... with a bit of non sequitur.


O the places you're gonna hurl.


9.8.13

4.8.13

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