Twice this weekend, I was brought out of a movie's story line to confront some less-than-stellar music choices. One was simply unfortunate, and one was egregious. They're both lessons to music supervisors to choose carefully.
The simply unfortunate was the use of the Beastie Boys track "Sabotage" in "Star Trek." The scene had a too-young-to-drive (even in the future) James Kirk cruising along in car screaming along to the track - a track that would have been hundreds of years old by the time of the shooting. Would a young child appreciate (or even have access to) music that old? It was a misstep in an otherwise decent movie. At least they managed to avoid the trap of putting in generic-sounding nu-metal to signal the dark, dystopian future.
The egregious example came from Rosie O'Donnell's documentary "All Aboard." In one scene, following the touching marriage of two gentleman aboard the cruise ship, we're treated to Harry Nilsson singing . . . "Sail Away." Yes, that Randy-Newman-penned song that extols their new country to groups of African slaves, sung from the perspective of the slave merchant. They conveniently left out the part about watermelon and buckwheat cakes, and they never put into context the arrival of the ship in Charleston Bay - home of the slave auctions. The whole point of the song is glossed over for this one moment. Using the song in this way totally undercuts the message of tolerance and acceptance the documentary is trying to communicate. Everything I'd seen up to that point was ruined by one song.
Please, music supervisors - be careful. The wrong choice can be just distracting, or it can take down the entire project.
I spent a little time working with iZotope's iDrum (the hip-hop edition - I am not a club kid) this weekend, and it gets decent marks from me. It's still not up to "live" performance level (which makes me rethink my initial objections to BeatMaker), but it is a handy drum machine application. My only complaints are that the kits don't come with a blank slate (you have to go in and edit pre-created beats or save the kits under another name and edit those) and there's no real export function. The samples are passable, though, and the interface is easy enough to deal with once you get used to it.
It also makes a handy metronome, if nothing else. I'm not sure why metronomes and "guitar toolboxes" with tuning notes, chord charts, etc. are the first thing to pop up in portable devices (a grand tradition started with the Palm series), but they're always the first thing listed when I look up music apps. A couple of bucks more, and you've got something with a little more variety and usefulness. Just a changeable sample alone is worth the price; metronomes are valuable tools, but the makers still use an annoying click or beep instead of something more aurally satisfactory. And it beats the cheap standalone I had to buy for the bass book photo shoot last year.
Sidenote: This weekend's Zombiefest at Key Cinemas was a joy to attend. My colleagues and I weren't able to stay through the bitter end, but we took in the majority of the films with zeal and gusto.
Aside from a hard fall whilst carrying equipment yesterday (my knees have been in a constant state of revolt since the afternoon - don't try to skip stairs with two basses and a laptop in tow), "The Wiz" and Playboy Psychonauts rehearsals concluded without incident. The 'nauts will be taking part in the Indyfringe Festival this Friday, at a stage located near the intersection of College and Massachusetts Avenues. The time right now is somewhere near 7:30, but I can't promise for sure. I CAN promise a full set with dancers. To further enhance the show, I will not dance. It'll be better all around, I promise.
The next day will be full of zombies. At least the cinematic kind. Some friends made me aware of this local film festival, and I am both thrilled at the occurrence and disappointed in my lack of awareness of said festival to begin with. Were it an actual zombie, the consequences would be too horrible to consider.
I don't actually own a Wii, so I can't comment on the pan-gender, age-neutral fun to be had from playing this system. Still, the announcement of Wii Music (which incorporates the ability to control up to 60 instruments or conduct an orchestra) seems like a bonus for the musically inclined gamer. And it fits the system rep well - Guitar Hero and Rock Band allow the unleashing of your vulgar, profane inner rocker, while Wii Music encourages exploration and safe fun in a group setting. No word on whether it approaches the thrill-a-minute spectacle that was 3rd-grade recorder lessons.
The Onion does a great job summarizing the masterful piece of cinematic craftsmanship that is Road House in this recent article. Still no mention of the late Jeff Healey as Greek Oracle, though, which disappoints me. Perhaps that is my own dissertation to write.
To link the two subjects together, I propose a Double Deuce level for Guitar Hero. Imagine the chicken-wire-encased, bloozy fun to be had!
Is it bad that, during a recent viewing of George Romero's "Diary of the Dead," the plot point that most tested my suspension of disbelief was the fact that a MySpace page took 72,000 hits in 8 minutes without crashing?
The movie slapped the inevitable zombie apocalypse upon a treatise on social media and who controls the source and flow of information, so it was interesting from that standpoint. Nothing new on the issue per se, but it was an interesting look at the role of user-driven media to bypass the possible pitfalls of mainstream sources (assuming, of course, that computer networks remain up and viable during said inevitable zombie apocalypse). There was a little too much "How does it feel when the camera is on YOU!?" dialogue for me, as this concept has been addressed in countless other movies. It's probably better saved as for rental, but the sight of Samuel, the deaf Amish zombie killer with a chalkboard and a killer pick axe, is definitely worth the investment.
I'm still recovering from both the schadenfreude of watching the Patriots lose yesterday and the chili contest that accompanied said viewing - an excellent cap for the weekend. All is right with the football world (minus a Steelers Super Bowl win), and life can continue on a positive course. Since the Pro Bowl means nothing, that'll be the end of football talk for a bit.
The new hard drive is in my system, and I've got both an OS X and a Vista partition running without incident. The only hassle so far has been reloading data (not major, as I could just copy data over from the old drive) and programs (slightly more, 'cause I have to hunt down old serial numbers from upgrades). The upshot of it is that I now have more space on the Mac side for music projects, and the Vista side is ready for work on my upcoming laptop book.
I saw the U2 3-D movie over the weekend, and it was an interesting experience. The music was overall decent to this casual listener (aside from a seemingly flat section in "Beautiful Day"), and there were no overwhelming "COMING RIGHT AT YOU!" moments (again, aside from an obligatory Bono reaching out towards the camera - what did you expect?). The drum set stood out particularly well, as did some of the crowd shots, and there were some drawn-in and composited special effects that were interesting as well. It did carry a "layered" look to it - the effects at times appeared on very flat panes that seemed stacked on each other. Still, a decent spectacle.
Sounds passable at least, and the price is hard to beat, at least for novelty's sake.
I forgot to mention that we tried watching "Nightwatch" this weekend, and the power went out during the viewing. The movie hadn't been making sense up to that point anyway, though, so we didn't feel bad for the interruption.
If you're otherwise disengaged and in Fountain Square this evening, there's a free show from British singer/songwriter Newton Faulkner at Radio Radio. As it's free and sponsored by a local radio station, I'd expect it to be packed soon, so arrive early if interested.
My wife brought home the movie "Once" this weekend for viewing, based on her listening to a copy of the film's soundtrack. Great songs on that, so I wanted to like the movie.
And I did, until about halfway through the film. And that's when my suspension of disbelief went right out the window. They want me to believe that a pair of musicians who'd only just met could recruit another three musicians they'd never worked with, pair up with an initially disinterested engineer and an expensive recording studio they'd never worked in before, and somehow manage to produce a bunch of great songs?
I should have probably just relaxed and enjoyed the show more (I did like the way they worked in the songs without it becoming overtly a "musical" in the traditional sense), but the tech geek in me just wouldn't let it go. Feh.
I managed to catch a preview of "The Orphanage" last night - it was a beautiful mix of Brothers Grimm-style fairy tale and a parent's worst nightmare. A couple of the plot points were telegraphed way in advance, and I thought
Del Toro Juan Antonio Bayona strung along some of the suspense strictly for a "GOTCHA!" moment near the end, but it was otherwise magnificently filmed and rendered. Highly recommend.
That, of course, leaves the weekend free for music. And there's quite a bit happening in Fountain Square, if I do toot my neighborhood's horn a bit. Big Car Gallery hosts Lovely Houses, Brooks Ritter and Jascha for $5 from 7 to 9pm tonight (BRING THE KIDS!), and Sam's Saloon has Will Stockwell and Deacon Sean and the Bar Brawlers. Tomorrow, Sam's features Mike Milligan and Steam Shovel. Also, I believe tonight is Cognizant Coffee's open mic night, but don't blame me if you show up and they want you to put your darn-fool guitar away 'cause I got the date wrong. Enjoy!
Even after this weekend's football debacle, I knew that the universe would somehow correct itself and make things right. And so it has - and once again we owe it all to the Internet. This Wired report has some of the original MST3K cast coming together for what appears to be riffery of a more refined sort (in that they gave up the jumpsuits, you know) as "Cinematic Titanic," riffing away on terrible movies 'til there ain't no more crappy frames left. Toss in some RiffTrax, and it seems like the entire cast of the old show is active once again in satirizing crappy movies. It's a good thing, too, as my videotapes of the series are still in boxes, and I don't have a functional VCR anymore. I still retain, however, my original fan club materials and stickers. I want those buried with me.
One can only hope, however, that it doesn't return to the Mike vs. Joel wars of the mid-90s. We lost a lot of good soldiers then.