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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open Letter

Dear Sony Pictures customer support: I purchased today a DVD of William Castle's 13 Ghosts (1960), which on the back of the box advertises:

Widescreen Version Presented in Illusion-O! Use the special 'Ghost Viewers' to see the spirits in 'ectoplasmic color'
But when I opened the box, I discovered that while the label on Side A of the DVD does in fact claim to offer the "Illusion-O" feature, I was greatly disappointed to find that there were no "Ghost Viewers" included with the DVD. Is this a manufacturing error? Is there any way for me to obtain the "Ghost Viewers" as advertised? Thank you, Dan Johnson IMPORTANT UPDATE:
Dear Dan, Thank you for your email. We will be sending 4 pairs of the ghost viewers to you. Please allow 7-10 days for these to be delivered. Thank you, [Name Redacted] SPHE Consumer Affairs

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Round Christmas

Have you ever seen Santa and Moondog in the same place at the same time? I'm just throwin' this out there. I am actually sitting in the choir room at the my parents' church, in Victorville, California, having skipped out on the Christmas Eve sermon, and why on earth is there WiFi in here? Whatever, I'm not exactly complaining, because I just got this in my email from Managarm Musikverlag: This is the best Christmas card ever! I'm going to sing this, tonight, with my family. Happy Holidays, y'all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blind-Item Bombshell

Oh wow, that's the first time I've ever gotten the answer to one of these! La Cieca buzzes:

Industry insiders are whispering that a certain impresario who recently upgraded his career from uptown new music maven to regional opera honcho may be about to prove that he is the Superman who will turn NYCO around.
"Superman"? You mean the Man of Steel? If true, this is GREAT news. George Steel is one of the best things to happen to the NYC classical scene in a long, long time, and as you may recall, has already given the New York premieres of a few operas—What Next by Elliott Carter; Lost Highway by Olga Neuwirth—too bold for the city's more mainstream institutions. Will he be leaving his new position in Dallas for the City Opera? If so, then so much the worse for Dallas, but if not, well, it's certainly not impossible to oversee more than one company at once—that Plácido character wears about twenty hats, but they all seem to fit. What's more, Steel has a great feel for what the city wants. At Miller Theatre, he found a niche: he looked around, saw what Manhattan was missing, and presented it very, very well. The City Opera leadership, working in the shadow of that big, big house across the plaza, requires just that same skill-set. I see this ship un-sinking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Schoenberg Ink

Did you see! At WNYC's Evening Music blog, a picture of violist Nadia Sirota's Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme tattoos: Surprising fact about Nadia, she actually got those tattoos in prison, as part of her initiation into the feared and deadly Second Viennese Krew. Click here to learn the horrible truth.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And While I'm on the Subject

I just now, like yesterday, linked to this silly thing I wrote for the local paper, but failed to mention: 1) that you should be sure and read all the way through, to the thing Chris Arnott wrote about Jack Vees' new piece, because Jack Vees is completely lovable, and his new David Koresh opera sounds freakin' insane. 2) that Wei-Yi's first rehearsal with de Leeuw took place the day after I interviewed him, and so I didn't get to find out till after my deadline "what's Reinbert de Leeuw REALLY like???", the answer to which is, "Awesome." The reports I heard from last night's concert were pretty glowing, so I'm looking forward to catching the show at Carnegie Hall tomorrow. 3) that writing such a short piece about Olivier Messiaen was a little frustrating, because I didn't get to go very far below the surface. I've been thinking a lot about his music lately; the essay that keeps coming to mind is this one, "On the Marionette Theatre" by Heinrich von Kleist. I know some of you have read it already, but those who haven't, please click and read the whole thing right now, because it will make you feel funny inside, it is that beautiful. Conclusion:

"Now, my excellent friend," said my companion, "you are in possession of all you need to follow my argument. We see that in the organic world, as thought grows dimmer and weaker, grace emerges more brilliantly and decisively. But just as a section drawn through two lines suddenly reappears on the other side after passing through infinity, or as the image in a concave mirror turns up again right in front of us after dwindling into the distance, so grace itself returns when knowledge has as it were gone through an infinity. Grace appears most purely in that human form which either has no consciousness or an infinite consciousness. That is, in the puppet or in the god." "Does that mean", I said in some bewilderment, "that we must eat again of the tree of knowledge in order to return to the state of innocence?" "Of course", he said, "but that's the final chapter in the history of the world."
You'll probably remember this exchange from the Japanese sci-fi anime Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, in which it is quoted almost verbatim. Right guys? Guys? Hey, where'd everybody go? Anyways, Messiaen's music takes this proposition seriously. His stated project is a struggle towards the Divine; it is dramatized as a dialogue between the human—the sentimental (an expressive vocabulary drawn from our common archive of tonal signs)—on one side, and the the mechanistic—the mathematical—the animal (not-so-tonal melodic and harmonic structures; overdetermined rhythmic processes; all that damned birdsong) on the other. Messiaen is writing out his desire to eat that second apple; he's trying to roll over that odometer of experience and return to the infinite/zero consciousness of the animal, the puppet, the god. (Or in this case, the God.) Don'tcha think? This is how I hear Messiaen, though I'm pretty sure it's not how the man himself would have articulated it. (Though when I was telling this hypothesis to somebody, he told me this Kleist is a very important essay to Martin Bresnick, which is exciting, and which I shall have to investigate.) But, so, yeah, I heard great things about last night's performance at Woolsey Hall, and I'm looking forward to hearing the program tomorrow at Carnegie, if any of you New York people are gonna be there. Holler at me! Just not during the quiet parts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

UNLESS OF COURSE You're Near New Haven

In which case you must come hear the Yale Phil play Turangalîla-Symphonie at Woolsey Hall. Reinbert de Leeuw, cond., Wei-Yi Yang, piano, Geneviève Grenier, ondes Martenot, free, 8 pm Dec 12. More info here.

Redhooker, Twi the Humble Feather, Victrola Tomorrow

So it was no surprise to hear that Missy Mazzoli's delightful Victrola project just signed with New Amsterdam Records, as she is a fixture of the New Amsterdam "community," or should I say "commune," since those hippies all squat together in a giant condemned industrial space on the waterfront, dumpster-diving and making free love, but in other news, Missy emailed to tell me about this gig Victrola's doing tomorrow, at the new and I'm told gorgeous home of the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO (which is a place in New York), and she said and have you heard of this band we're playing with, Twi the Humble Feather? But no I hadn't, because I live in a cave, in Connecticut. So I went to their MySpace, and would you listen to that, it's super fun! You indie kids will love it, with your Grizzly Bear and your Panda Bear and your El Güincho Bear! Srsly it's hard to listen to their music without suspecting that they're sitting poised on the verge of a big fat blog-fueled breakout. But you know who else is super fun? The other band on the bill, Redhooker, which takes its name from the Brooklyn neighborhood its members call home, namely DUMBO. Cool, bittersweet, with a tangy twist of old-school minimalism. SO: Redhooker, Twi the Humble Feather, Victrola, Galapagos Artspace, 16 Main St, Brooklyn, $10, 11 pm tomorrow night, dress sexy. Go go go!