May 28th, 2007

Bishop & Hudson (Aliens) (by mimisoliel)

The Jenganator!

I went to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria today with a whole bunch of the friends, many of whom were in Florida with us. Yes, the place is a "Beer Garden," but while they do have beer there, they also had a complete bar (with some rather nice dark rums) and a lot of heavy Czech and Slovak food, including perogies, kielbasa, goulash and schnitzel. There was also this rather delectable chocolate gingerbread cake, and an excellent apple cobbler. We were there for a ludicrously long amount of time; time operates at a different rate in a Beer Garden than it does anywhere else.

A few weeks ago, I replaced my ailing Jenga set for a new one. I was surprised to find that (and almost missed it in the store as a result of) the fact that they have repackaged the game. The new case is cylindrical... while any hopes that they may have restored the original plastic stacking sleeve instead of the cheesy cardboard one was dashed immediately, the diameter of the new set allows it to fit a CD perfectly. Furthermore, I recently got a piece of junk mail that included a short DVD; the method by which the disc was affixed to the letter was the perfect solution to protecting the disc in the Jenga cylinder.

Ever since I began work on the Risk mp3 CD, I have been meaning to revisit its sister project, the Jenga mp3 CD with an eye towards finding an effective play order (as with the Risk disc, the intention is for the music to be played at random, but not all mp3 CD players support shuffle functions) and going through the tracks and weeding out the ones that are less effective. I have begun this process; I have abandoned all of the sound effects tracks; the gunshots, screams, laughs and cannons, while effective, never really felt right... the only exception I made is that I retained "They're All Going To Laugh at You" from the Rykodisc edition of the Carrie soundtrack; while it is technically a sound montage rather than music proper, it fits the tone of the rest of the disc better. The only new track I've added at the moment is an excerpt of "Mountain Hunt" from First Blood, but I expect to change that soon enough. I also plan to go through the existing tracks; many of these were ripped from the initial Jenga audio CDs I had made years ago with much more primitive editing technology, and I'd like to clean up some of the intros and extros that sounds sloppy in comparison to my current work, also, some of these scores - particularly those for the Bond films - have been remastered in the interim.

However, the first step in doing any of this is to properly catalogue everything that is already there, which I have now done. For the first time ever, the Jenga mp3 CD's post and the corresponding entry on my mix list have been updated and now accurately reflect the current state of the project. I previously had posted a copy of an existing track listing that I had not updated since 2003. Several tracks had been added over the years to the relevant folder, and others I had either discarded earlier or discarded while doing this current preliminary overview. I haven't had a chance yet to put these into any play order; I want to examine more carefully what's here, although there were a few choices where I didn't know what the hell I was thinking.

USELESS TRIVIA: James Horner's score for Battle Beyond the Stars is the work that got him the job composing the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and his career has been meteoric ever since. The orchestra for Battle Beyond the Stars was conducted by none other than David Newman, who for some reason was never credited on the LP sleeve and subsequent CD release.
McCroskey (Airplane!)

Assorted Weekend Notes

I'm taking the Bronze Mist into the shop for her inspection tomorrow.

Maestro Talgorn

A few days ago, lehah recommended Frederic Talgorn's score for Heavy Metal 2000. I was excited by the samples and wasted no time ordering the CD (it is available on iTunes at a bit rate that is frankly insulting). This album kicks ass!!! Talgorn doesn't even bother mimicking Elmer Bernstein's style and just runs with whatever the hell is going on in the movie, forging a great, epic operatic score with some ballsy, percussive action music, thick textures, and the Munich Symphony Orchestra's brass section doing crazy shit that I think might even still be illegal in some states. I doubt that the film is any good - I can't imagine it being any better than the first one, which pretty much sucks (the Captain Sternn sequence is still funny), but I can honestly say that Talgorn's score is a worthy successor to Bernstein's... and Heavy Metal was one of my favorite Bernstein scores.

I am tentatively checking out more of Talgorn's work... I also ordered Fortress, a film I saw in its theatrical run in '93 and that I remembered liking the music from. I haven't had a chance to listen to that one yet, but it's now on Artoo.

I have discovered, to my extreme annoyance, that in addition to the Memorex Black CDRs becoming more and more rare, so are the colored variety. I tended to prefer the old Memorex Black CDRs because of the scratch resistant surface (which Memorex now seem to be reserving for their CDR-Pro and Lightscribe lines), but aesthetically, the black CDRs just tended to look nicer. If I couldn't find the black ones I would use colored CDs from time to time to match the cover art (which always meant that I ended up with a thousand purple CDs). The Memorex "Cool Colors" CDRs are no longer "cool colors" on the bottom, only the top.

I'm actually considering just splurging on an external Lightscribe drive or something similar. It may be a bit of an outlay, but the discs sure would look nice. I think that would also solve the problems people have playing discs with labels in some machines as well. However, that would mean that I would lose more surface area, as my current labels are for stickers that extend all the way to the spindle, and the Lightscribe discs' printable surface is only on the data portion of the disc.

I am not really generally well-disposed towards the rah-rah patriotism that tends to show up on television right around Memorial Day. I understand why it happens, but I find that it really tends to at best whitewash history and current events or at worst trivialize them. The History Channel, however, did something that to my sensibilities was much more appropriate than all of the soulless flag waving, forced nationalism and false sentimentality. They broadcast the masterful HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, which I had first seen in its entirety several years ago, and which I think is perhaps as perfect an accompaniment to the holiday as I can possibly imagine.

The show is both dramatically satisfying and relatively historically accurate, and I can think of very few works of this genre that truly immerse the viewer into the world and lives of its characters as that one does. An aspect of the show that I appreciated when I first saw it and did again was the fact that the program opens with actual members of Easy Company discussing the situation that would be in the episode that followed (the episodes themselves were often told primarily from a specific characters' points of view)... but you don't actually find out who is who until the end of the very final installment. Suddenly, the history of the character that the viewer had just watched for several hours fuses with the actual visage of the person being depicted in the drama , aided by the fact that, in addition to being uniformly excellent in their roles, each cast member actually looks like the individuals they're portraying. Without getting terribly syrupy about it, the show certainly cut to the heart of what the day is supposed to be about.

Unfortunately, the History Channel was also broadcasting an eye-rolling pair of what looked like completely interminable Star Wars tributes that I made sure that I missed. I know that I've done my fair share over here, but these were clearly part of the LucasArts Hype machine... I mean, the science behind Star Wars? Puh-leeze. It's not meant to be reasonable, it's meant to be visceral (AT-ATs are a completely retarded idea from a military perspective... but they sure as hell look great on the movie screen, don't they?).

That said, I still hold that the most useful item in either trilogy is not a lightsaber, or even a starship (though that wouldn't be a bad item to have)... but rather an Artoo unit. Not only are they capable of maintaining various types of technology, but they can connect to almost any manner of computer network, serve drinks, put out fires, have a storage compartment for phallic objects, have 3-D holographic projectors and can most likely do the dishes and laundry as well. They're Swiss Army Droids.

You just have to remember not to take the restraining bolt off of them.

Now, there are more updated version with "better" graphics, but this is my favored version of the Star Wars Gangsta Rap. First of all, I think that the lightsaber duel from The Empire Strikes Back actually looks awesome done this way, and second, I think the stormtroopers "raising the roof" are hysterical.

Remember when I said I wasn't going to post any more about Star Wars?

I lied.

I even told you I was lying when I posted it.