UPDATE: The New Hit Meme

So you may remember a few weeks ago I had a post showing off the new Star Wars/droid related meme I had created featuring the phrase I Think I Just Voided The Warranty.  If you don’t recall that entry of Mindless Philosophy you can check it out here!

In that blog I encouraged you the reader(s) to take this meme and put it to good use beyond my initial Star Wars referencing.  It has some solid meme potential  and if we can just get a few outlets for it the Voided Warranty meme just might spread across the entirety of the interwebs as any good meme does.

As it turned out one dedicated reader (a student of this particular brand of Mindless Philosophy who is now earning top marks) by the name of Tim McFarland submitted the first few additions to the Voided Warranty library of memes!

Below are Tim’s creations, and if you’d like to hear more from this Tim McFarland character you can expect to learn more about him in an upcoming addition of our ongoing People I Know segment!

memeupdate4.png

A late entry from the meme manufacturer himself.

 

That is all!

People I Know: Carl Randles

It was a dark and stormy night.  I’d just finished off a homemade meal with a few unexpected dinner guests.  After the plates were cleaned up and the chit chat dispensed the guests headed out and my wife headed to bed, that’s when I sent the message to Carl Randles.  His long travel to my house from his distant domicile was hindered by the inky blackness of night combined with the torrential downpour that drenched the landscape and had become a chronic ailment of the changing season.  Braving these elements however Carl arrived on my doorstep at around 10 o’clock.  I showed him in and we sat down at my dining room table over matching cups of hot tea.  The rain beating down on the glass of the adjacent window was a constant reminder of the cold unruly harshness of nature which has become man’s self appointed sisyphean task to struggle against.  There was an intensity in our speech that night, and a depth to our meaning.

Just kidding.  It wasn’t nearly that serious.  Ha!  Although I was pleasantly surprised at how candid our conversation was and how serious my friend took the questions I put before him.  It was a very long and pleasant conversation and after it was all said and done I felt like I had just been through some type of therapy session, although I’m not sure whether my role was as the analyst or the patient.

How can I describe Carl Randles?  He’s a unique fellow with a hugely diverse area of interests who never fails to conjure strange bits of information at the most opportune moments.  I’m sure everyone knows someone amongst their group of friends similar to Carl.  The type of friend who meshes well with the rest of the group, and who has a confident unintentional charm about him.  Someone who is generally well liked by everyone, and who no one can seem to pinpoint any fault with.  Basically the type of person who winds up being a serial killer.  “Oh he always seemed so nice.  He was so polite and quiet, we never suspected he had a closet full of hobo feet.

Again only joking!  I’m 98% sure Carl has never killed anyone!

Before I even got into my prepared questions Carl and I got into a hearty conversation that included what my goal was with this interview, life getting in the way of art and having to work less-than-fulfilling jobs in order to pay the bills.  We talked about whether morning or evening was the best time for creative expression, and how to find time in general to foster said creativity.  We touched on the upcoming Mid-Ohio Comic Con and the outrageous commercialization and monopolization of comic book conventions in general.  Over all Carl and I talked for about an hour and a half and unfortunately there had to be a considerable amount of editing in order to shave it all down to an acceptable length.  So without further ado let’s get into it already!

Carl Randles laborer, student, artist, good friend, man, woman, child, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, Carl Randles.

Carl as he peruses the dollar bins at Baltimore Comic Con.


Joshua: So Carl, first of all thanks for coming here on such short notice!

Carl: No problem.  I’m not gonna lie I thought you wanted me to help you with your Stormtrooper outfit.

Joshua: Ha!  Oh well if you want to help too, we can do that after we’re done here.  Maybe I’ll let you wear it.

Carl:  Naw, you should be the first one to wear it fully done.

Joshua: Yeah I suppose, but I might still need your help.  I’ll let you know.  But anyway, when you and I first met a lot of our conversations centered around Star Wars and comic books.  Those were some unifying subjects for us.  What geek, or pop culture subjects these days do you feel don’t get enough attention, or that you’d like to see get more of the spotlight?

Carl: Myself, I would love to know more European comic book artists, because there are things that are huge over there and I’ve only read a few things.  I’m reading Tin Tin and I’ve read Blacksad which the art in is terrific.

Joshua Blacksad?  I don’t know what that is.

Carl: It’s about an anthropomorphic detective, and the crime noir style caught my eye, and the art is just phenomenal.  I have one edition of it.  That would be cool obviously to check that out.  I don’t know too much though, my interests in Hell Boy and B.P.R.D have gotten big and Mignola is huge now which blew my mind.  I think I started reading those in high school which I think was a few years after he got started and it surprised me, I wouldn’t say I jump on the bandwagon a lot, but when its popularity falls off that’s when I get into stuff.

This is Blacksad, the anthropomorphic cat detective

Joshua: Yeah, being there at the beginning of something like that is rare.

Carl:  You’ve got to feel stuff out I guess.  I tried that once, being the frontrunner.  I don’t feel right being that guy that’s like “Oh yeah I heard about that before . . . .”  I had that happen once, with a band, and it was stupid.

Joshua:  What band was it?

Carl: (Laughing)  Limp Bizkit!

Joshua:  (Laughing) Ha! Fantastic!

Carl: I remember I was in high school when they came out, and I think I was in Quonset Hut and I was like “Three dollar bill y’all.”  I don’t think I even picked the album up, but I’d heard them on the radio.  My music changed I really liked Korn at the time, and now I haven’t even listened to them in years.

Joshua:  Why do you think some of those European books and things are overlooked?

Carl:  I guess because they’re not established, they’re not Marvel or DC.  I don’t know it’s really adult, I would love to go back and read 2000 AD and the early Heavy Metal books which are phenomenal, but I don’t really know why some of that stuff doesn’t make it.

Joshua:  Comic book fans always seem to know of them, but they don’t always seem to know the details.  Comic book fans talk a big game, I think a lot of the time, but then when it actually comes to reading things . . . .

Carl: Oh yeah, I’ve gotten to that point.  In my mind there’s all these books, like stupid Wizard puts out those lists “Top 100 Trades” that I think, ok I’ll check that out.  But then again that’s their opinion, I would probably love to read that stuff but don’t know why.

Joshua: So are you reading any comics currently?

Carl: I have back orders of some of the Punisher, and Hell Boy/B.P.R.D stuff, but other than that I’m just hearing of individual one or two trades that I want to look into.  Tin Tin is one I’m trying to read.

Joshua:  I want to see the movie.

Carl: Yeah that’s why at this point I have this trade, the one story in it is what the movie is based on.  It’s pretty cool and clean illustrations, the line qualities are really nice.  I would definetly suggest it.  Other than that, I was reading Loveless and Jonah Hex.  The current stuff is all one-shots like 99% of the time, just boom, boom, boom.

Joshua: Ah, that’s like old school comic books there, going back to individual issues.

Carl:  Yeah, yeah.  It’s pretty cool.  There’s also Criminal and Incognito, I might be about one story arc behind on those, but I like that kind of stuff.  Oh! AND the Goon, whenever the hell that stuff comes out.

Joshua:  Ha! Yeah, whatever year and a half time frame it takes to put out a new Goon book.  While we’re still on the subject of comics, here’s the most typical comic book question ever asked:  What is your favorite comic book company?

Carl:  Company?  God damn . . . .

Joshua:  That’s not really an easy question to answer anymore.

Carl:  DC I loved for awhile, but then the story arcs they were focusing on were . . . .  I kind of lost interest in.  But I do kind of like that they started over with their reboot, it’s ballsy!  Which is cool, you have to go back, and all these young people can get into it which is smart, business-wise.  It also pisses off a lot of people, and I can sometimes understand that but most of the time I’m just like, let it go.

Joshua:  (Laughing)  Yeah, but most of the DC Mega Fans are on death’s doorstep anyway.

Carl:  Marvel is cool.  But my favorite?  I want to say Dark Horse or Image because they’re underground, and with Image it’s creator owned.  I haven’t read a whole lot of stuff, maybe because it’s not out there and what I know, but I can’t really take the chances and spend the money on the books.  But it’s the same with Dark Horse, they’re both along the same lines.

Joshua:  Dark Horse too has really taken up the abandoned business of the licensed books that Marvel and DC don’t really do any more.

Carl:  Yeah, they’ve put out reprints, and have the rights for all the old Conan and stuff like that.

Joshua:  So Carl, speaking of comics and art and all that, would you consider yourself to be an artist?

Carl:  If you’re including my output, hell no.

Joshua:  Well I mean, I suppose it really comes down to who is an artist?

Carl: I would love to be able to realize and understand all of the high art concepts.  But I can’t fathom it all, I wouldn’t be able to create it myself I think, which sucks.

Joshua:  You mean like you’d want to come up with your own artistic concept, like being a founder of surrealism or something?

Carl: Yeah, like all the modern stuff where it’s just an image, like a Mark Rothko where it’s just a canvas and there’s two shitty blocks.  And there’s something behind that, which when I look at something I may not see it.  I usually see textural and have a very two dimensional approach to it, there might be some nice aesthetics and textures.  So you have to look behind what the artist meant to do, which is not convoluted, but it is advancing the art form but like you said, what is art?  It’s man’s creation, painting or writing, anything can be art.  But then you have people who are high up who talk down comic books and say it’s childish, but then again that’s because we were forced to think that.  But you look at the stuff of Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, that European stuff that we haven’t really read, they love that, that’s high art to them!

Joshua:  Yeah, yeah absolutely.  Well and they put big concepts into their work.

Carl:  Yes, very satirical.  Usually whenever I do something my train of thought isn’t very logical for most people, so it’s like phrase after phrase, it’s more emotional rather than logical.

Joshua:  Well that’s pretty much art right there!

Carl:  I guess I’m saying I’m just not that precise, so if I’m looking at a piece of art I may not even be able to explain, or dissect it to a point.

Joshua:  That’s where the arrogance of art comes in, people trying to tell you, what an artist is thinking.  Who would you say are some of your artistic inspirations?

Carl:  Comic book-wise would be like Mike Mignola.  Writers I’d say Ed Brubaker, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison.  More artists, David Mack and even someone like Stan Sakai, there is something in that fucking line, he can really nail that stuff out.  A lot of comic book artists are really talented, there are some of course who are just not my taste obviously, but I’ve found myself getting less interested in the superhero genre.  That type of realism just doesn’t do it for me any more.  With Hell Boy it is realistic but it’s two dimensional, and there’s really graphic elements to it.  Same with Usagi, even though Stan Sakai is not realistic, it’s two dimensional, but Fucking-A . . . .

Joshua:  Ok Carl let’s really get into the important questions now.  Answer me this, what is your favorite ethnic food?

Carl: I guess maybe Asian food?  I mean unfortunately I haven’t really had all that much, well, I guess there’s pasta which is Italian, there’s Mexican.  I’d really like to try more of the others, like Russian and everything else that’s out there.

Joshua:  You should go with me and Lauren to the Russian Festival out in Mogadore sometime!

Carl: Is that yearly?

Joshua:  Yeah it’s at St. Nicholas church, the big Russian Orthodox church out there.  It’s pretty cool.  The church is interesting, you go into the sanctuary there and it’s like stepping back into the Renaissance.  All the stylized iconography and all that, I guess it’s the Byzantine style or whatever.

Carl:  Yeah that very two dimensional, geometric, style where it was all story based to get the illiterates to understand the church.

Joshua:  But they have some good food out there.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Mogadore Ohio

Carl: I’ve always been intrigued by the Russians, with their borscht.

Joshua: That’s just fun to say.  But overall you’d say that, of the foods you know of, Asian cuisine is your favorite?

Carl:  I think so, there’s a little more variety.  Then you’ve got sushi and everything in there.

Joshua:  Now, moving on, as everyone may or may not know you have partaken in several multimedia productions along with myself and directed by the incomparable David Tavolier where you play a character named Dennis, talk about Dennis.

Carl: As a character I kind of know him.  That he is this stumbling, lower level, naive character but I also know that that’s quite a bit of me because I don’t know how to act and it’s just like I’m awkward behind it and so it’s just a lot of me coming through in that part.

Joshua:  Well that’s my next question, which is what’s your motivation for Dennis?

Carl: Well I know that I don’t have so much self respect that I wouldn’t lick out of a puddle, there’s a point that you’ll do anything for the laugh.  There’s humility at some point I think though.

Joshua: Right, sure.  Like you’re not going to whip your dick out for a laugh.

Carl: (Laughing) Well, I don’t know . . . .

Joshua: (Laughing) If it’s really funny, it’s worth it!?

Carl:  There’s a point where you think of your self respect.  Like, am I degrading myself?  I would suppose that after time if that’s all that I’m known for, that would be the borderline if that happens.

Joshua:  So you’ve gone too far when you’ve become a porn star?  That’s crossing a line?

Carl:  Yeah cause then it’s like, oh no, not this racket again.  But no, in conjunction with Reginald Sterling that is a good pairing because you have that comedic duo.

Joshua:  Both idiots though.

Reginald Sterling and Dennis off on another whirlwind adventure!

Carl:  But yeah, Dennis is just me trying to act.

Joshua:  So would you say that it’s just a caricature of yourself?

Carl:  I think so.  Because you know, you’re reacting, so you can just emphasize what you may be thinking already, what you would do normally.  I feel awkward because I’ll be thinking about the acting aspect of it, I don’t want to screw anything up, I’m always worried about whatever lines I have, which will be very minimal.  But all that is the character, and we always have fun.

Joshua:  Yeah, we do.  Ok Carl, very last question.  Encapsulate Carl Randles for the readers in just five words.

Carl:  Five words?!

Joshua:  I gave Lauren seven last week, but I’m only going to give you five because you have quite a talent for what I like to call “minimalist vocalizations.”

Carl:  Ugh, God.  Honestly I usually stray from those kinds of questions.

Joshua:  I know, yeah.  Well I’m gonna force you to do it Carl.  Five words.

Carl:  Well if I try to say humble I feel like I’m an asshole.

Joshua: (Laughing) Ha!  That’s pretty much the definition of humble Carl!

Carl:  It just feels wrong to say it, I aspire to be modest and stuff like that, but . . . Do you want a sentence or . . . . like “Carl Randles is . . . ?”

Joshua:  Carl Randles is an asshole!  There you go!  No, it doesn’t have to be a sentence it can be abstract, free verse, structureless.  Just five words.

Carl:  Um, start with Blathering, I guess.  This is just weird

Joshua:  Think of it this way, think of it as a five word time capsule of you right now, up to this point in your life.

CarlBlathering.  Uh Lazy?  Maybe also Uninformed?

Joshua:  But you knew about Limp Bizkit!

My guess is he was drawn in by the cover art.

Carl:  Also Reactive.

Joshua:  These don’t have to be terrible things about you Carl!

Carl:  It’s hard to think positive things, I think maybe I don’t really like looking back on myself.

Joshua:  (Laughing) Christ!  What do you mean?  I guess it can be whatever you want, are you determined to end this on a downer Carl?

Carl:  (Laughing)  Well it’s honestly how I feel about myself sometimes, but it’s not like devastating to me, or a depression.  I don’t feel highly about myself sometimes, or whatever.

Joshua:  Yeah I know what you mean, and maybe it’s because we’re older now, we’re both thirty.  I recently have looked back on my own life and thought what have I done?  Could I have done more with this?  But like you said it’s not depressing necessarily you just get retrospective.

Carl:  But I also have the viewpoint on life that if you have a family and a good solid base, that’s what’s important.  If you enjoy your life and the people in it you don’t have to be something huge.  But there’s also that dilemma of “Did I do anything?  What’s this life for?”  You do look back on it.

Joshua:  Well if you start thinking about your family, and your great great grandparents and distant relatives, who were any of those people?  Do you really have any real recollection of those relatives, what they did, and who they were, those people who got you to this time and place.  It just gets you thinking about your own legacy and all that.

Carl:  George Carlin brought up interesting aspects of that though, like who the fuck cares where your last name is?  You, as an individual, are what’s intriguing.  There’s also other people who have that thought that the world shouldn’t have flags, it should be one world nation.  It’s interesting.  I can’t always get behind one way or another, and that would actually be another of those words.

Joshua:  What would?

Carl: Uh, meandering?  You know like, in between childlike.

Joshua:  Ok . . . .

Carl:  Because again we’re in our 30’s and we’re not serious businesspeople and stressed out, which I think I enjoy more then being that.  I mean yeah, you can still have a steady job and be important and enjoy that, but we fucking screw around and make noises that are childish.  Just looking to enjoy ourselves and have fun with the friends around us is important as well.

Joshua:  Yeah I can totally get behind that.  There’s something about having too much responsibility and dealing with huge amounts of stress and hassle with your job, doing those things that you don’t enjoy in order to just make it, which just seems wrong.

Carl:  So what do I have so far?  Blathering, lazy, reactive, uninformed, and meandering.

Joshua:  That’s five, and that’s all I have for you Carl.  Do you have any final words before we end this interview?

Carl:  Nah.  Thanks for the tea!  It was good, what was it again?

Joshua:  This was Yorkshire Gold.  It’s a pretty strong tea, I didn’t brew this particular pot that long so it wasn’t too bad.

Carl:  The only one I’ve had that was strong, or weird, was that African root tea . . .

Joshua:  The rooibos.

Carl:  Yeah!  That’s it.

Joshua:  Alright.

And there you have it, an epic interview featuring the one and only Carl Randles.  Hopefully this has given you some new nuggets of information or perhaps even a glimpse into the very nature of humankind itself . . . .

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Mighty Marvel Meatloaf Marching Band

 

I don’t know about you, but I love old ads from classic comics.  Me and several of my friends consider ourselves connoisseurs of fine advertisement cheesiness!  For my money the best ads can be found among the pages of comic books heralding from the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  A plethora of goodies can be found in those decades, from dynamic video game adverts to epic promotional toy campaigns!  All of them more outlandish than the last.  If you think about it comic book ads have to be crazy and eye-catching or how else do you expect to distract a reader away from super powered heroes doing battle with brightly colored villains long enough to even glimpse at your product.  Perhaps the most effective are the advertisements that incorporate the heroes of the comic company into the ads, momentarily tricking the readers into thinking the ad is just the continuation of the issue they are reading.

Like the legendary Hostess Fruit Pie ads in Marvel comics.  You’re flipping along reading your X-Men comic when suddenly Captain America bursts onto the scene, or Dr. Strange appears out of thin air.  Suddenly things just got interesting!  What are they doing in this X-Men comic?  And wait, is that Dr. Doom?  What’s behind him in that crate?  What’s going on??  Wait, what??  Fruit pies?  Captain America is rescuing a stolen shipment of Fruit Pies in my X-Men story?  Oh wait, Ha ha!  This is an ad!  Got me again Marvel!

Well here’s something else along those lines, except here you turn the page to find Meatloaf rocking out hard, while at the same time voicing his concerns about the funding and support of the 1987 Special Olympics.  A typical Wednesday for him.  But seriously, look at that first panel, ol’ Meatloaf is really giving it his all, and how the hell is he holding that guitar?

And here’s another question:  What era was Meatloaf popular in?  He’s one of those guys who always seemed eternally old to me.  It was like he was popular at some distant time, but had moved on.  I don’t really know anyone who is a hardcore Meatloaf fan, and trust me I know a lot of people with many varying musical interests and stemming from various musical eras.  I guess it’s because he’s been an actor for so long too, and to me it seems like any musician who turns to acting has passed their musical prime and gone on to other things.  I don’t know, Meatloaf is weird.

That is all!

The Greatest Thing I’ve Seen This Week

Have you ever said to yourself “Man I wish there was a band consisting of Will Robinson from Lost in Space, the One Armed Man from the Fugitive, the hot mom from Freaks and Geeks, and Rousseau from LOST!” ?  You have?! Well than today is your lucky day, because I come bearing good news.  There is such a band and they are called The Be Five.  Something they all have in common is that they were also cast members of one of the best sci-fi shows of all time, Babylon 5.

Amazing.

Earlier this week a friend of mine, who is also a Babylon 5 fan, sent me a link directing me to the information about this album and my mind was blown.  Apparently back in 1998 Bill Mumy, Mira Furlan, Claudia Christian, Andreas Katsulas, and Peter Jurasik at the height of Babylon 5’s popularity came together to make an album, calling their group The Be Five.  I’ve known that Bill Mumy was a musician but I had no idea he ever got together with his other B5 comrades to make music.  Apparently Mumy wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album which are mainly blues/rock and the other cast members take the lead vocals on two tracks each.  As if that wasn’t awesome enough Patricia Tallman, everyones favorite Vorlon enhanced telepath, has several cameos on the album as well, as a backup vocalist.

Unfortunately the album was basically only available at various cons where one of the stars were making an appearance.  Later it was more widely distributed but not in great numbers and apparently it is still rather hard to find a physical copy of the CD.  Thankfully however this one and only album of The Be Five “Trying to Forget” is available for digital download on Amazon!  I would suggest checking it out and at least listening to some of the samples from the tracks.  Hearing Peter Jurasik who played Londo Mollari sing blues is simply golden and I was quite surprised by the dark sultry qualities of Mira Furlan’s singing voice.

I had no idea this thing existed, but now that I do I can’t get it out of my head.  This made my week, and you’d better believe it is now at the top of my list of things to buy!

Here are a few links:

About The Be Five

The Be Five on Amazon

That is all!

Michael Giacchino: Musical Chameleon

This week has turned out to be busier than anticipated, plus my wife has an increased need of the computer for work so I have not been able to post many blogs recently.  I did however have the opportunity to see a couple of movies this week though and that’s what I want to talk about today!

Earlier this week the wife and I went to see Super 8 (while there we got a voucher for a free ticket so later that night I went to X-Men: First Class, but that has nothing to do with this).  I’ve been very excited to see this movie and with good reason.  J.J. Abrams has not disappointed me thus far, though he has had some projects that I don’t believe live up to the level of hype that surround them (Cloverfield and Star Trek), but I was extremely interested to see his take on a Spielberg-esque adventure flick.  As far as I’m concerned this self proclaimed love letter to Steven Spielberg from J.J. Abrams really did a great job of highlighting both directors best qualities.  The look, the feel, the sound, and even the way the movie was shot were very reminiscent of several of Spielberg’s early movies.  As an aside I think other filmmakers out there should take note that even though we have CGI and other super advanced special effects techniques it still makes for a better movie to keep monsters/aliens/whatever hidden from the audience as long as possible in order to really ramp up anticipation and suspense.  Too many movies these days love to have their CGI creatures out on parade throughout the entire length of the movie and after awhile you just lose interest as the movies devolve into a series of chase scenes or an unnatural and unrealistic volley of CGI fight scenes.

Anyway, enough about that.  Going into the theater I knew a few things about the production of Super 8, but I hadn’t researched everything.  Basically I read some interviews with Abrams and Spielberg about the movie and read a few details here and there on Ain’t It Cool News and Comic Book Movie.com.  Just enough to keep my interest up, but not really studying the production in depth.  I like to have a few surprises waiting for me when I finally sit down to watch a movie.  Well knowing what I did about the movie I half expected to hear some John Williams scoring set behind the action on screen.  I hadn’t read about Williams being involved, but then again I hadn’t really researched it that in-depth.  Either way as the movie started I was excited to hear what the soundtrack would be like.  A few minutes into it I realized it wasn’t John Williams, I’ve listened to enough of his work to be able to identify him a few bars in, but I wasn’t disappointed by the music that was there.  For the most part I was enthralled by the movie and didn’t really notice much of the score that was mingled among it, as it should be.  Then towards the end there were a few moments where I distinctly heard some unmistakable homages to Williams.  As the intensity was ratcheting up near the finale of the film there are a few sections of music that are classic Williams, several distinctive chords that have been used most memorably in Jaws (not the main “Dun, dun” theme that everyone knows but some of the more menacing reactive music that really builds up tensions) and was also used well in his Jurassic Park score, and a few others.  Also, given the nature of the plot of Super 8 it wasn’t unexpected to hear a few sections of music that sounded very similar to the theme from another certain Extra Terrestrial movie.

Giacchino at the premier of Ratatouille

By the end of the movie I was very interested to know where the music came from, as much as I enjoyed Super 8, I was now very curious as to who had written the score.  As the credits rolled it was one of the first names shown, and I could have kicked myself for not realizing who it was sooner, I really should have guessed.  Michael Giacchino.  For the past six years or so any time I come across a film score that intrigues me, but is unfamiliar to me, it turns out to be Michael Giacchino!  His music contains such a mercurial quality and he possesses a style not his own.  John Williams and Danny Elfman I can pick out within seconds of hearing them, but Giacchino is a chameleon when it comes to his arrangements, his music never has the same type of sound and his scores are always so well adapted to the production that it becomes nearly impossible to separate him, from the rest of the movie.

The downside to that is that Giacchino doesn’t really have many memorable moments musically.  John Williams has countless memorable themes and melodies attributed to his work from Star Wars to Schindler’s List.  Danny Elfman has given us an unshakeable Batman theme even after it has long been abandoned by modern film revamping.  The great Howard Shore ramped up the heroic nature of the Lord of the Rings with his epic score and the iconic themes that are now just as familiar to Lord of the Rings fans as Bilbo Baggins is.

From my memory though Giacchino doesn’t really have such dramatic qualities about him, but that’s not to say that he is any less of a composer.  His music can be memorable even without a lasting tune running through your head.  In particular I recall his score for the Pixar flick the Incredibles which harkened back to jazzier film scores of the 1960’s, and I first really noticed his work during the Speed Racer movie.  Though some might bad mouth that movie, I really liked it and Michael Giacchino’s score was fantastic.  I was especially pleased that he didn’t overuse the classic Speed Racer theme, but instead teased it along through the majority of the movie until the very end.  Overall Giacchino does what any good composer should do, he makes his music a part of the movie, he helps the director flesh out the emotions and action that are portrayed on the screen.  Michael Giacchino, perhaps more than any other film composer today, seamlessly melds his music into the movies he works on in the same way the set designers have worked a building into a shot, or the costume designers have chosen the look for the actors.  Giacchino’s scores seem to adapt to every movie he works on, and though occasionally that sound can get lost within the greater scope of things, he certainly does his part to make those movies more than they would have been without him.  The best way I can describe his style would be to simply call it adaptive.

There are three things that tell me Micheal Giacchino is becoming a major property in Hollywood.  1) The dude’s already won an Oscar for his work on Up.  2) He seems to now be the exclusive go-to-guy for new Pixar properties, working on all the new titles since the Incredibles.  3) Like any good film composer he’s found himself a directorial partner.  Lucas and Spielberg work exclusively with John Williams, Tim Burton relies heavily on Danny Elfman, and it appears that J.J. Abrams’ music man is now Michael Giacchino who has provided the score for all of his movies thus far.

Michael Giacchino accepting his Oscar for Up

Here’s a quick list of some of my favorite movies Giacchino has written music for:

The Incredibles

Sky High

Mission Impossible III

Several of the Pixar shorts

Ratatouille

The television shows LOST and Fringe

Speed Racer

Star Trek (the new rebooty one)

Up

Let Me In

Super 8

And also here’s one of my favorite sections from the Speed Racer soundtrack, have a listen.

That is all!

Save Us John Williams!

     Ugh!  This is completely off topic but  I just watched the Rebecca Black video on YouTube, you know the one where some random teenage girl is singing like a car alarm about a day of the week, complete with explanations of the subsequent days that follow.  Christ!  If you’re not convinced our nations creative culture has hit rock bottom then just go take a peek at the video for “Friday.”  My wife summed it up best in saying that that production was the outcome of children being coddled and told that everything they do is “awesome” and “special.”  Sorry kids sometimes you just can’t sing, no matter how much you dial up the autotune.  We can’t all be star athletes either.  Hard work and perseverance are a major part of achieving what we want out of life, but sometimes a measure of talent is needed to actually make those dreams a reality.  Play to your strengths. 

     Ah but why waste my breath right?  I mean that music video is awful, but it already has over a million views.  Sure many, like myself, have watched it simply to see how bad it is but that notion is lost on our commercialized culture.  A million views means a lot of eyes have seen this train wreck and when there’s an inevitable follow up there will be an immediate viewership response which means there can be some profit to be made on this shit.  I really don’t hold anything against the young lady herself, at best she has been misguided, at worst she’s a bit delusional.  But I don’t see it as having much to do with her. Someone with some film equipment noticed her genuine desire to be a star (talent aside) and the dollar signs started floating down from the heavens as the plans were set into motion to make her the next Justin Beiber/Disney-esque pop star.  There is so little class left in our culture.  Sigh

     I could go on and on ranting, but that wasn’t actually what I wanted to write about today.  I came here with the intention of talking about my love for composer John Williams.  However after seeing that video this morning it just put me in a foul, pessimistic mood so I had to piss and moan a bit.  Anywho, on to John Williams.  Now there’s a classy dude.  I would not hesitate to place John Williams among the ranks of Mozart and Beethoven.  Traditional classical music scholars might scoff at the idea that a mere movie composer, who writes scores for films, would even be considered equal to the great symphonic masters of history.  But I say, really what’s the difference?  John Williams has written traditional symphonies, not many, but he has a few under his belt.  He is though of course most known for his memorable and moving film scores, which often complete the movies they are a part of.  Imagine Jaws without its soundtrack.  Not only the famous tensely menacing theme of the shark but also the incidental sections which highlight the adventure of the open water really add quite a bit to that movie.  Without that music Jaws would seem rather flat and somewhat dull.  It is impossible to separate the music from the action.  Now think about Mozart, Wagner, and Mendelssohn many of their best known works come from their operas and theatrical pieces.  The movies of their day.  I’ll grant you that in some cases these masters had a much larger role in the stories that were being portrayed on stage, but it was all about the music telling those stories, evoking the emotions and tensions that were being played out on stage.

Fact: I have seen John Williams in concert more times than any other band/musician.

     Let me just say that I do like to think of myself as having a rather eclectic taste in music, I don’t only listen to symphonic and classical music. I can appreciate pretty much all music and have it represented in some form or another on my ipod.  With the exception of modern country music, that shits awful.  Though even that has a few exceptions I suppose.  I realize that the only musical discussions on my blog currently are this, and a post about Handel.  I just think it’s important to understand the history of music, and appreciate the diversity of classical music that is out there.  There are some exciting and cool works to listen to, it’s not all chamber music and lullabies for your developing toddler.

     Now back to John Williams.  I have said for a long time that I believe the great film composers are the true legacy of classical music and the great composers of the past.  John Williams, Henry Mancini, Howard Shore, even Danny Elfman all draw on the past as well as adding something new to the sound of symphonic music.  I would love to hear more works from these and other modern movie composers played along with the Bizet and Verdi pieces that are played on NPR and elsewhere. 

     My fandom of John Williams and my overall appreciation of movie scores, began in 1993 at the tender age of twelve.  At that time I had very little knowledge of such subjects.  One weekend my dad told me he was taking me to a movie, we were going to see Jurassic Park.  As I sat in the theater watching the awesome scenery and effects of that movie one thing struck me which had never occurred to me about a movie before.  The music.  It was an “ah ha!” moment for me that has really effected my movie going experience to this day.  I remember exactly which scene it was that caught my attention, it was towards the beginning of the movie just before they reach the island, as the group is soaring over the ocean in a helicopter on their approach to Jurassic Park.  The music is perfectly timed with a cut, so that the music shoots up suddenly to sweep the viewer up and soar them along to this tropical location.  It is a memorable tune that had me paying attention to the rest of the music in the movie, but not distracting me at all from what was happening as people were getting chased and bitten in half by dinosaurs, in fact it enhanced that experience.  As the credits rolled I made sure to pay attention and see who had written that crazy awesome score.  John Williams, a name that would send me investigating all his other work.

Jurassic Park, both the movie and the book, changed my life.

     Back in modern times, the wife and I watched Jurassic Park again recently and I was reminded just how perfectly John Williams’ score weaves the action together as well as highlights the slower more emotional scenes.  I would argue that his work on Jurassic Park is his finest in terms of punctuating a movie, in doing the most heavy lifting to create suspense, and in establishing an overall sense of wonder.  As a kid I was obsessed with Jurassic Park and the soundtrack was actually the first CD I ever bought.  (Yeah I’m awesome.)  Through some searching I soon realized that John Williams was the man behind the music of my favorite movies of all time, Star Wars.  From there I discovered that John Williams was the sound of Jaws, Indiana Jones, and pretty much every Steven Spielberg movie ever.  I was hooked for life, and the rest is history.

Frequent collaborators, John Williams and Steven Spielberg.

     This blog has kind of gotten off track, I had a whole comparison ready to go between the Magic Flute and the ET soundtrack, but I’ve gone on too long at this point.  I have more or less just lectured about my love for John Williams.  I guess if I had to sum up this blog it would be to encourage any parents out there, or hip aunts and uncles, etc. to go out and purchase some John Williams music for some of the kids in your family.  Chances are they already like some of the movies he’s been a part of, so it is an easy in.  Start your kids off with something like the Star Wars soundtracks.  Their enjoyment of something familiar might encourage an interest in classical works, and the intricacies of large orchestral pieces.  That interest might than be translated into other music, be it classical or rock and roll or hip hop.  If kids have a good understanding of different sounds, and the building blocks of music they might be able to cultivate a genuine interest in music, instead of a desire for fame through music.  Maybe John Williams can even help our future generations avoid being bamboozled into making terrible musical decisions, like taking part in obnoxious music videos about random words.

That is all!

John Williams has been as equally important to these movies as the actors and directors.

George Frideric Handel: Musical Occultist (Sort Of)

George Frideric Handel. Best known for the Messiah, and the Hallelujah chorus, right? Sure I suppose, if you’re a classical music newb! Oh snap! Zing! Pow! Seriously though Handel has a great many works that are on par, if not better than the Big M, I think it’s safe to say that particular operetta simply gets more airtime due to its sacred subject matter. It’s always smart to write pieces of music that will fit nicely with prominent holidays of major religions. Keep that in mind all you young orchestral composers out there!

Anywho three of my favorite works by Handel have a much more occult flavor, and even venture into pagan mythology! Gasp! My favs include Xerxes, Hercules, and Solomon. First off Xerxes, yes that Xerxes, king of the Persians, great leader of men who marched across the mediterranean area and was featured prominently in the movies The 300 Spartans and 300. In this opera the king is not a villain, but is rather a symbol for Handel’s baroque ideals, transformed into a hero leader who fought against great opposition, beyond that the opera is just a Shakespearian type love story with mistaken words confusing the matter “She thinks he loves her, he thinks she should love him” etc.

"Who am I in love with?!?!?"

When it comes to Hercules, the great greek demigod hero of myth, Handel writes an opera that takes place after Hercs 12 feats, his return home, and his subsequent tragedy and death. Other than that I don’t know much about the plot points of this one, the recording I have of this is in german so I don’t know what the hell they’re saying.

The Incredible Hercules in the baroque style

Lastly, and perhaps my favorite, is the oratorio about Solomon, the king. Solomon is a very enigmatic biblical figure and is best known today among modern mystics as the father of occult ceremonial magic. Whether that title is fitting or not is another topic entirely. This piece however deals with the traditionally popular accounts of Solomon; the ruling to cut the baby in half, and his dealings with the Queen of Sheba. The overture from Handel’s Solomon is just a great listen, one of my favorites.

King Solomon

It is important to remember however that Handel himself, along with his audience wouldn’t really have associated any of these works with their subjects occult connections. Granted the connections are there and viable however, for the most part that just wasn’t part of the mindset of the baroque era. The focus of these works are heroics and great leaders, and Handel doesn’t really bother to go any deeper than that. Handel was setting these older tales in a modern setting for his time, drawing parallels between his ruling class and those legendary rulers from history. Though there might not be any hidden truth in these “occult operas” there is some great music and I encourage you to give them a listen if you’ve never heard these works before. Though I should warn you Xerxes and Solomon both were originally written for castrato (sung by women these days) so that might seem a bit odd to our modern sensibilities! Balls away!

That is all!
(I hope the upcoming Xerxes movie looks exactly like the video below!)