Friday, August 27, 2010

"Based on a Cro-magnon skinning chant..."

This brands me a music nerd now and forevermore. If you couldn't guess before.

These pieces are mostly for those of you who can read music. But really, even if you can't, these are still pretty amusing. I mean, a piece that instructs the player to pick up small pepperoni? Insert peanuts? Add a bicycle? Release the penguins?

I would LOVE to hear some really, really brave and accomplished pianist crack their knuckles and give any of these a try. Or actually...a full-fledged band or orchestra. Someone's gotta cool the tympani with a fan, and it sure ain't gonna be the pianist, who will suffer certain carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, and spontaneous psoriatic arthritis upon attempting these pieces.

All compositions by John Stump, who gives P.D.Q. Bach a real run in the masters of absurd music dept.

Prelude and the Last Hope in C and C# Minor from the opera Marche de L'oie (March of the Ducks)

Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz (from "A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich")

String Quartet No. 556(b) for Strings in A Minor ("Motoring Accident")

Atushi Ojisama and Ijigen Waltz (from "A Tribute to Yamasaki Atushi")

Lament of the Introspective Turnbuckle (actually by Andrew Fielding, aka Bicuspo N. Behemouth.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Glee songs, for your consideration...

I know there's people out there who hate on Glee. And I can kinda understand it. I started off feeling kinda weird about the whole Glee thing, myself. It was just too geeky to succeed. But thanks to the mystical powers of the World Wide Webiverse, my friends ended up piquing my curiosity. And damn it all, if by the fifth episode I warn't hooked.

But why in the world ever? I mean, aside from the utter BRILLIANCE spewing forth from one Emmy-bound Ms. Jane Lynch, who makes Sue Sylvester one of the most hilarious curmudgeons ever seen on TV. Oh, and then there's Brittany, who somehow brings new vistas to the overplayed dumb-blonde stereotype. From a comedic standpoint, the show could rest on the shoulders of these two. But that's not Glee's big raison d'etre, nor is it how it established a name for itself. It's the music.

And so, at the risk of boring my readers with yet another list o' songs that simply must be heard (hey, at least I don't do the "Top 10 Songs To Bludgeon Your Hamster By" stereotypical titles, right? Oh, yeah...guess I do), here we go again. Why's Glee worthy? Here ya go.

To Sir With Love - Originally done by Britpop starlet Lulu, she of the doey eyes and the vibrato that sits just short of Judy Garland's earthquake-rendering tremolo. Lulu did make a charming run of it, and consequently the song hit #1 way back in the early 1970s. Glee does Lulu two better. First, it's great to hear the song sung with very little vibrato, but full of emotion. But second (and this is why you really need to watch the show), the glee club basically sings its gratitude to Mr. Schuester, the director, through this song. It's poignant in the most amazing way...just ask Sue Sylvester, who was actually brought to tears when she accidentally stepped in the auditorium during the glee club's tribute. Sue Sylvester. Tears. No, I'm not kidding. (And if my description falls kinda flat, that's because I'm sidestepping a spoiler. In other words, you really, REALLY need to watch the show. Last episode of the first season, specifically.)

Don't Stop Believin' - Who'da thunk that Journey, of all groups, would have lent one of their songs to a show with as daring a conceit as Glee? Let alone make it the linchpin for the pilot episode? But there it is, a song about lost souls in the guise of barflies and prostitutes, being sung by a high school glee club. Over the course of three minutes, this song made believers of anyone who watched that pilot. Then it formed the basis for New Directions' entry in regionals. (For fun, stand up and say "New Directions" as loudly and as quickly as you can when you find yourself in your next cubicle jungle.)

Don't Rain On My Parade - Look here. I am NOT a fan of Barbra's. I just don't get her. And I saw the original version of this song on Funny Girl. (Would it have killed her to break a smile while she was singing?) But OH MY GOD. Strap me in a chair and force me to listen to Rachel's version during their sectional performance, and man, I'll be a happy kid. Hell, I'll be busting out of the straps so I can vamp and lip sync along with her. Another one where you really need to watch Rachel's performance.

Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Well, this one could cut either way. You may love it, you may hate it, but you won't forget it - at least in this context. I'd never heard the song before Glee, and my first exposure to it was Kurt Hummel, in a unitard, performing Beyonce's breathless tartlet on video before his dad unexpectedly showed up and caught him. (A very straight-acting, blue collar, seemingly homophobic dad, too.) Somehow, Kurt managed to, uh...let's let Kurt explain it. "My name is Kurt Hummel, and I'm auditioning for the role of kicker." On the football team. And with his Beyonce routine, he not only landed the "role," but managed to get the whole football team to dance to this song during the last play of The Big Game. Cheesy beyond belief. (Oh, and about that homophobic dad? Not so. Kurt comes out to his dad during this episode, and he is waaaay beyond cool about it.)

Alone - Raise your hand if you actually loved Heart back in the mid '80s. That's it. Don't be shy. You're not alone. I was there too. Now give this one a listen. Will Schuester, the director, joins forces with April Rhodes (the astounding Kristin Chenoweth) in an impromptu karaoke performance at the local bowling alley. Actually sent chills up my spine the first time I heard it.

Proud Mary - Now, I can't go through this list without paying my props to Mercedes, the requisite black diva with all the high notes and all the sass. She does a respectful slow duet with Artie on the first part, a la CCR. Then she blasts away everyone around her with a blistering version that would do Ike and Tina proud. Mercedes is given WAY too little screen and stage time, suffering the role of bridesmaid to Rachel. So moments like these are particularly welcome.

And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going - Yeah. What I said just now. Only ten times more. More Mercedes, please.

My Life Would Suck Without You - Me, actually liking a Kelly Clarkson song? Good God, the end is truly nigh! But New Directions sold it to me and I swallowed it whole and asked for more. I can't resist a song that goes "I know that I've got issues/But you're pretty messed up too." Hurray for dysfunctional people in warped relationships that stick together just because of love!

Vogue - The video. But only if you're a Madonna fan. A fine homage to one of the most iconic music videos of all time, with some amusing, subtle twists.

Sure, there are plenty of songs that are merely okay, and if I were to blog about the worst songs on Glee, that post might be three times as long. And ten times as boring. So there ya go. Enjoy. (And I swear my next post will not be a bunch of bullet points about music.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Because being positive takes just too much energy.

People, events and facts of 2010 (thus far) about which I could really give a shit. And then some, for good measure.

Tim Tebow - So the, I mean, the Broncos...recruited this poster child for Good Moral Christian Fambly Values. And he writes Bible verses under his eyes when he throws the pigskin, y'all. Because he's so hard-core. People, I cannot ABIDE. Is it bad enough that this state of ours is saddled with Focus on the Family and one of the most conservative Christian cities in the whole damned country? I am NOT joking. (Aside: I drove through Colorado Springs with the radio on scan about ten years ago. For a city that at the time was about 360,000, there were four - FOUR - Christian radio stations. Again, I cannot abide.) Incidentally, a guy I know who is the most muscle-bound and chiseled man I have ever met is apeshit for Tebow, the quarterback. Not just Tebow the kinda-hot guy. I will admit that Tebow is a bit easy on the eyes (not in the pic here, though), but those muscle supplements must be working better than beer goggles on my friend here. (Who, incidentally, cannot write a correct English sentence to save his life...and he's a doctorate-level health care professional.)

Daniel Schorr - Who? Sorry, folks. I do have a literary streak in me, and I once contemplated a career in journalism, but, uh...the sorrow for this guy's passing just eluded me. Not the biggest fan of the etherized news broadcasting that is NPR, I. (Then again, take that with a grain of salt. Sometimes, even Dan Savage's podcasts bore me.)

Lady Gaga - Please. If you're going to push buttons, do it the old-fashioned way...with sex, not outrageous costumes. (With props to Madonna. But only through Erotica. She's been dead to me ever since, with a few spurts here and there.) Gay bois (and can I tell you how much I HATE that spelling?) LUURV her. And consequently, I have never been more thrilled about my advancing age. Oh, and I love this argument: "Oh, but she's really a good musician/songwriter." Someone...a barf bag? NOW.

Bears - Let's dive into this subbacultcha of gay life. I once loved me some bears. And to be honest, certain parts of my male anatomy still twitch if a particularly perfect specimen happens my way. (That's if, not when.) But damn my luck to be as hairy as a recently-shorn chihuahua. Hence, my utter invisibility in the eyes of bears. If ever there were a more perfect example of high-school cliquishness, you could hardly do better than the bear scene. I've lost friends to bears, seldom to be heard from again. And when they do acknowledge me, it's with a held nose. So...very little respect.

Tiger Wo... - Fuck it. Not even worth my time.

Arcade Fire - I tried these guys. I really did. Branding your first album Funeral is not a way to win over the populace, despite the frightening adulation of your adoring...uh...tens of critics. But hearing Funeral once - maybe twice - put me on permanent notice: these guys are not of use to me.

Anything vampire-related (almost) - Perhaps - perhaps - with the exception of the fount itself. And I admit I did wrong by it. I slogged through Bram Stoker's Dracula in high school over the course of one year. Shoulda taken me 1/12th the time. Oh, and there's Bloodletting, which cements Concrete Blonde into eternal greatness. But those are all pre-2010. So maybe I should really title this "anything Twilight-related."

Lindsay Loh... - What did I say above? Yeah. Goes double for this moron.

The 2010 World Cup - And thank you very much, South Africa, for 1) introducing the world to the fucktacular phenomenon that is the vuvuzela (despite being one of the coolest words ever), and 2) as a result, dampening my sincere desire to see the summer Olympics in Cape Town, whenever that may happen.

Rue McClanahan - I'm not a huge fan. She never did anything wrong in my eyes. But her death this year sent some of my friends into a tailspin the likes of which I couldn't grasp. Whatever.