Thursday, November 15, 2007

The _______ I love

"Buy my CD!"

"Fuck you, crossover bastard!"

Suffering from Bush Bashing Burnout Syndrome, and without the Divine Miss M(+E) regaling us internets sexaholics with any Naughty Nunnery Stories - put the Excommunicate-O-Matic® away, Ratzinger, I'm kidding! - I was at a loss. Distraught. Directionless. What to pointlessly prattle on about? Come on, Randal, think. What's the one thing that you're actually quite skilled at?


Having listened to rock and metal for nearly a quarter of a century, being an acquaintance with enough guitar players and personally knowing enough chords - you know, two or three - I think I'm well within my musical bounds to offer informed and expert criticisms of said musical genres, although I try my damnedest to refrain from discussing such critiques in the style of a linguistic Varangian Guardsman. I want others to dig this stuff. Just go listen to it far away from me. Farther. No, keep walking.

Thus, would it not also be bad form to be a classical music snob - or a snob of any variety even if you do indeed know your shit, because then you're just an asshole - when you don't know thing one about theory and structure? On the flip side, George W. Bush is president while having no interest in reality and no apparent knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, so my decades-long amateur classical music affliction certainly passes muster, no? Which brings me to my ethical dilemma. But first, fuck you Bush for finding a way into a post that's not even remotely about you. Words in any language cannot express the pure, distilled hatred I have for you and your neocon handlers. Je vous déteste tellement !

Okay, I'm better now. A swig sip of wine always does the trick.

Sweet Jesus Sandra Lou, I loathe crossover shit. Find some reasonably talented individual or individuals, preferably those of the comely lass variety - I'm looking at you, Bond - have them record Danny Boy or some Viennese waltzes or Für Elise - which is very pretty, so fuck off, said snobs - in an appropriately schmaltzy way et voilà, instant Xmas gift for your friendly neighborhood soccer mom. And then there is the sickening commercial skirmishing by record label compilations: The Most Beautiful Classical Piano Pieces In The World For An Exquisitely Lovely Brunch! The Most Romantic Adagios For A Very Special Evening! The Greatest Baroque Album Ever, Volume 9! Quoi ? And don't forget - wait, here's the booming voice of the announcer now - Massive Classics! with the Schwarzeneggerian arm wrestling cover. Shudder. Look, true believers, there are brilliant and complete works out there written by geniuses and those who reside in the compositional neighborhood, recreated by hardworking orchestras, ensembles, individuals, engineers and producers that are dying to be heard.

Now, don't completely misjudge me, for I too have my favorite pieces and movements within particular works. But come on. Instead of buying Grandma or Cousin Johnny a disc with the largo from a Vivaldi violin concerto coupled with the 'Coffee' Cantata, or Creation O. Marketing - or an apparently all-rocked-out Rod Stewart - crooning some American standards, why not buy them the complete Brandenburgs? Or the Mass in B Minor? Or a disc of Mahler? Or some Alkan wizardry on the ivories? And to wax idiotic even further, why must these companies always utilize the same works? The first movement of Beethoven's fifth is required by law to be on any compilation - you've honestly never heard even a whisper of the shadowy, iron-clad manifesto written by Thomas Edison himself at his Menlo Park desk back in 1878? While it has certainly earned its place on the short list of the finest that music has to offer - despite it's imprisonment in cellphone ringtones and Muzak, it remains the Mount Everest of all motifs - what about the symphony's fourth movement, for example?

Nearly five minutes in - 30 seconds, if Toscanini is conducting - is arguably the most sublime musical moment that I have yet to hear created by anyone born on this planet. The strings shift up what seems like uncounted octaves, an aural expression of the purest joy; the triumph of having overcome pain, loss, the shackles of remorse; the stubborn defiance present within each of us shielding our unlocked potential from the battering winds of fate. For the briefest of moments, someone as dour and as cynical as myself feels that humanity can surpass its natural flaws and live in boundless peace and art and creativity and happiness. What a soulless hack you must be if, upon hearing those notes, you aren't moved!

Anyway, go on and buy that crap if you feel it'll help the economy. And I do admit to a tinge of remorse as I rag on the classical labels because they're simply trying to make a buck just like the rest and since more people listen to cheapass pop songs about lip gloss and bling and angsty angst, I suppose they have to resort to such prestidigitation in order to pay the bills. Sigh. Just give the Große Fuge a try for your old pal Randal, okay? And spin the Für Elise again, too. Inconsequential in the grand scheme of things I suppose, but since we're all going to die in a fiery, nuclear conflagration caused by the diabolical machinations of Chimpy McBushitler or President Rudy! soon enough, I wanted to get this irrational pet peeve off my chest. Anyway, here's some stuff that I love, none of which is actually about love. How ironic.

For, as we all know, love sucks.

I love that it's now dark going to work and near twilight coming from, the evening edging ever closer. There's something magical, primordial about the movement from light to darkness. Certainly a natural yet perhaps unreasonable holdover from the earliest days of man when superstition and a fascination with the unknown was de rigueur, but there is a poetry in watching the sunlight fade into a thick mist, almost sublimated, the emerging shadows playing with the colors, everything a soft cool, a companion to the November wind soaring off the lake and onto your skin.

I love that my cable company - finally! - seems to have come to their senses and added the NHL Network, and that I'll be able to see teams besides Columbus. Sure, I'll continue to root for them - hey, Pascal Leclaire might be legit after all! - but it's the same feeling as rooting for the Buckeyes. They're not Cleveland's teams, which means I have none. Sniff. Plus, variety is the spice of the ice.

I love the fact that the French can sometimes be as bizarre as the Americans. Although in this case we must certainly blame the nefarious influence of the Japanese. It's obvious that one of the marketing types employed by Orangina is a big hentai/tentacle porn fan:

Le poulpe boit la pulpe ?

If I had Photoshop skills - or Photoshop - there'd be something clever


Since I don't, and there isn't, just go watch that wacky-ass commercial.
Oh, vous Français, vous êtes si fou !

I love when this very attractive woman, always impeccably - but never over - dressed, a regular on my bus trips to and from work, curls a lock of her hair around her finger. I have the distinct impression that it's not from vanity, nor does it appear to be a conscious affectation, but a genuine, subconsciously-directed physical action, perhaps some OCD-fueled gesture. And I want nothing more than to keep the mystery intact. I don't want to know her personally nor engage in conversation. She might be a Republican for all I know. Plus, I've got that whole angry jeans n' sneakers man ensemble working for me, and why mess with a good thing? Oh, there's that gold band on my finger, too. Almost forgot. But the way she curls those dark strands into something wonderful, a stunning bloom birthed from the union of natural physical beauty and the erratic human condition, a lovely mix of the innocent and the alluring in such a simple thing, is a sight to behold. Of course, being a male, I'm a sexist pig by default so perhaps I'm only looking at it from the latter angle. In any case, it's as inevitable as the sun rising and setting each day, and this, I love.


La Belette Rouge said...

What a ride. Okay, we started with the dangers of hooked on classics cd's ( my mother has all the Rod Stewart singing Cole Porter collection and it makes me want to scratch my Early-Rod collection until it is unplayable)...stopped at your innermost feelings for le buisson.... A detour into how great, great music is in context... into love and then onto poetry, hockey, Orangina and then finally into love. I'll buy another ticket for this bus ride, even if it means I have to listen to Mahler on Muzak.

Randal Graves said...

Sometimes the brain is all over the place, mon amie. And rest assured, there will never be Muzak on my bus.

Mary Ellen said...

Oh I had your name on my Christmas list with "Giants of the Big Band" 10 CD set next to it. I was even thinking of throwing in the double disk set of "Mob Hits". It's perfect for sitting at the kitchen table with a mound of spaghetti as big as Mt.Rushmore on your plate and a nice glass of vino that has the unmistakable taste of rotten cork.

I guess I'll cross that off my list and ponder what to buy instead. I guess something will come to me while I twirl my long brown locks around my finger (conscientiously of course).

Besides, I'm really, really mad tonight. No...I'm furious! I would write a post about it, but I don't think I could do it without dropping the F-bomb every other word. I'll have some wine and think about it...while I listen to some Muzak.

Randal Graves said...

Oh no, I remember that cheesy 'Mob Hits' commercial, too. That wasn't some K-Tel thing, was it? And twirling isn't nice.

Go on and drop the F-bomb. There's nothing wrong with fucking doing that every now and then. I'd push for you to do a drunken post, but your anger seems legit, so I'll lay low with the demands for now.

But, please, no Muzak. Think of the children.

Anonymous said...

Whenever Andre Rieu shows up on PBS , I start feeling homicidal.

Hasn't that superstar thing always been there though? With Paganini as the Jimmy Page of the 19th century classical world, or someone like Maria Callas who's probably known just as much for her looks as her abilities?

I guess that pop classical can be a gateway to better things for some people (my younger sister started out with Josh Groban, but now prefers Verdi and Puccini).

Then again, whenever I've played Arvo Part for anyone, i always get "it's too depressing."


DCup said...

OMG, Randal. I finally followed you home.

Do you always write like this and if you do......count me as a new fan.

And isn't that Orangina commercial incredible? I think I watched it four or five times so that I could catch all the action.

Randal Graves said...

Beth, you're right, but remember that I did qualify my rantings as irrational, so I have an excuse. Ha!

I just have a naive hope that someone would want to dive right in with the masterworks, which is, of course, a foolish notion. And there can never be enough depression! And I don't know why I didn't just get up and tell you this. I'm a lazy, lazy man.

dcup, merci, but please, the majority of my posting is of the juvenile, vulgarity-filled anti-Bush tirade variety. Every now and then I get lucky.

And yeah, that commercial is pretty fucked up! Bust out the weed for the next viewing! It made me recall the rash of stories from a few years ago(?) about some of the hyperspeed anime shows in Japan where kids were having seizures.

Freida Bee said...

It is your errant juxtaposition of self-effacement with utter snobbery which gives your 'lil blog here its efficacy. Admirable. Truly. Admirable.

fairlane said...

For someone at a loss for words that was a fuck load of them. I'm sure they said things, and conveyed thoughts, feelings, observations, and such, but I'm not sure because I'm currently engaged in three projects simultaneously, and am too busy not finishing any of them to concentrate.

I will say, I enjoyed it enough to comment, and count me in as a regular "semi-reader," "lurker," "smart ass commenter."

Betty C. said...

This is a brilliant rant. I would have to make an exception for Bryan Ferry's record of standards, though.

Randal Graves said...

Freida Bee, my head hurts.

Fairlane, I think I shot my load, so to speak. I got nothing today. And you're always welcome here. Now get crackin' on those projects, man.

Betty C., merci ! I certainly have nothing against standards, I think it was more of my disappointment in Mr. Stewart not wanting to front a riff-heavy rock machine any longer.