Here’s some of what I’ve been reading on the Web in recent weeks:
– Lance Mannion finds something new to say about the death of Bob Denver…
Movies always seem part of their times. In fact, they are windows back in their time. But television shows seem always to take place in the present. We’ve been watching a lot of old Dick Van Dyke shows lately, thanks to Netflix, and although the black and white world of Rob and Laura looks as old-fashioned as my parents’ wedding album (not surprisingly), and many of the characters’ attitudes towards life, work, sex, marriage, and the suburbs were 10 years out of date when the show was being made, the Petries’ imaginary world still feels like the world I live in now, while a movie made in the early 60s, even one in color, like–just to pick another comedy about young marrieds that’s just as dated in its attitudes about men, women, sex, and marriage–Barefoot in the Park feels very much like a period piece….
– …and Paul Mitchinson finds something equally new to say about the death of Robert Moog:
Electronic music does not usher in the Communist apocalypse, but it does change the way we create music and listen to music. It has vastly expanded the universe of sound, and given a power to composers previously undreamed-of. But it has, by necessity, severely restricted the power, the imagination, and–dare I say?–the intelligence of the audience, who are no longer asked to assist the composer in perceiving musical nuances. This is the root, I think, of the “coldness” that many people perceive in electronic music. By asserting absolute control over every aspect of his music, the composer has unwittingly disposed of one of the most powerful tools of expression–the audience’s own imagination….
– Mr. Think Denk dines on sushi, rereads The Golden Bowl, practices a Bach partita for the umpteenth time, and has an epiphany:
This is really when the practicing pays off; when music and all its business seems quite worthwhile: when you “get” something, even if it might mostly vanish tomorrow, and might never make it out over the airwaves to your listeners, even if it may end up, finally, being something you only share between yourself and J.S. … I shouldn’t have begun by saying I lived “with” the dead. Rather, for that one sentence: I lived through the dead. Visions of Bach in his candlelight scribbling. That crusty old Lutheran might have stopped having more children in Heaven and taken a moment to give me, secular self-absorbed New Yorker, a little life….
– Ms. twang twang twang, yet another musician who can really, really write, reports from a stop she made in the middle of a European tour:
As a mark of respect, and perhaps because there is nothing normal to say, talking is not allowed in Auschwitz. That didn’t stop some tourists, as they photographed reams of women’s hair on their mobile phones. Did you also, you fat-arsed westerners, snap the commandant’s corpseskin lampshades? The false limbs removed from cripples before they themselves were removed to “take a shower”? Did you munch a hotdog after the baby clothes? Did you see them?
As with chatter, the camps usually permit no music. There is no joy here, and without joy you can’t have music–only sound. The photographs of the camp orchestra, forced to play marches as the prisoners went to work, are grotesque, music “raped and degraded” (survivor August Kowalczyk). It’s horrible, too, that the Nazis loved music. It stirs up emotions, and if people feel what they are told, they will believe it….
Our hometown papers predictably heap fulsome praise on “our” movies–this one qualifies since director Phil Morrison and screenwriter Angus MacLachlan are Winston-Salem natives. The local fare has, then, often disappointed me–but not this time.
In fact even though the glowing review by a famously and preposterously pompous local reviewer whom I have detested for years made me want to dislike the movie, I just couldn’t. It is beautiful to look at, and the screenplay is intelligent and beautiful; funny and sad; woven of natural, unselfconscious moments.
The acting is transparent (highest praise); the characters are believable, charismatic, full of energy. I came away loving them all, even the grouchy, difficult ones….
– Cassandra, call your office: The Wall Street Journal posts a free link to a story about a blogger who got sued because of the comments on his site. I told you so!
Read. Ponder. Read again.
– You need a laugh now, right? Well, here it is: The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog of ACME Products, guaranteed to malfunction when used as instructed. Coyotes, beware!