Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"I love hangin' with you, man."

    After a slow opening, 2011 rolled merrily along; the year was over before I knew it. A lot has happened. After years of yearning for one, finally gotten a cat, who has been a delightful addition to my life. I've finished The Early Mixes and it's a very strange feeling not to have to have it somewhere in my mind at all times. A friend has re-introduced me to the wonders of cosmology, and I've been fascinated, immersing myself in books, magazines and television programs on the topic.


  • Arsenic and Old Lace had been on my Netflix queue, and a few days ago I was in the mood for something breezy but very funny, and I figured I'd finally gotten around to it. I don't know how I managed to reach the age I have without having seen this classic macabre screwball comedy. The movie combines wit, slapstick and a pitch-black sense of humor. The film establishes it's location as Brooklyn by opening on a riot starting at a Dodgers game and only gets better; I don't really want to talk too much about the film because I think people should just watch it. Its on DVD and streaming from Netflix.


  • Michael Kamen's score for Die Hard had been released before as a Varèse Sarabande Club title, but I was unable to pick that album up at the time that it was released, and it quickly became too expensive on the secondary market. I did have the Pony Tail bootleg promo from way back, which ironically had better sound than the Varèse disc but not as good a selection. All of those quibbles have been put to bed by La-La Land, who released a 2 CD complete set of the score with (mostly) pristine sound.

    This score has always been a favorite of mine because of its tongue-in-cheek quality.The playful nature of the score allows it to be much more engaging than one might think, given the amount of functional suspense music that is heard throughout (sleigh bells have never sounded so threatening). Kamen integrates Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "Ode To Joy" and "Singing In the Rain" to represent the "terrorists" ("Ode To Joy" is associated with Hans Gruber, while "Singing In the Rain" is linked to Theo), with forbidding renditions of "Winter Wonderland" sprinkled throughout. In an interesting twist on expectation, the score seems to be in the villain's perspective, which is most apparent in the sequence in which the safe is opened. John McClane is never given a heroic theme, just a few sneaking licks.

    Because of this score, I have spent much of this week walking around whistling its various incarnations of "Winter Wonderland," although my favorite use in the score isn't whistle-able. It's the cue "Santa," and it is for the iconic "Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho" scene.

    An interesting article on the film and how it uses its score can be found here.


  • As a Barnes & Noble member, I often get coupons in my e-mail for discounts. B&N policy applies these discounts on top of any sale price and the standard 10% off every B&N member gets on any purchase. The coupons can be used online or in a store; you don't even have to print out the coupon, just present the code on your smartphone.

    Farscape was recently released on Blu-ray, with a list price of $199.99 for all four seasons (The Peacekeeper Wars is not included as it belongs to Hallmark). B&N had it on sale for 40% off and I had a coupon for 25% off. With the additional 10% off, the total price was $88 after tax. That works out to a dollar per episode. While I have the "Starburst Editions" of the series, which looked and sounded quite good for their era, I felt it worthwhile to upgrade for two reasons: while my DVDs had only two or sometimes three episodes per disc, the Blu-rays have five, and because the series has always had very good sound, so the DTS-Master Audio lossless track was very appealing to me.

    The thing is, while the live-action footage was shot on film, like most television series of its vintage, its post-production (including editing and special effects), was in standard definition. Several people have complained about the picture quality online, but I have no complaints. A & E have mastered their Blu-rays from the Australian 570i PAL video masters, which means that while the series looks a bit better than the DVDs, it isn't full 1080p video quality, but the simple fact is that's what the show looks like.

    There have been a few different solutions to presenting older television series in high def. In a case like Star Trek or The Twilight Zone, it's a little more straightforward as they were initially shot on film (save for that one season of The Twilight Zone), so the transfers reflect more the (excellent) condition of the masters and restoration than any technical limitations they have (Star Trek also offers the option of watching newly-rendered special effects sequences; the upcoming HD masters of Star Trek: The Next Generation are being created from film elements as well). Firefly used film sources for the live-action footage while upconverting the special effects for high def, which, while not perfect, works decently enough.

    The worst solution, to my sensibilities, is the DVD editions of Babylon 5, which reformat the entire series into anamorphic widescreen, which meant that while the live-action footage looked okay, although tightly framed (I don't believe the official story that the show was shot with the intention of showing it in widescreen "eventually," there are just too many moments when things happen above and below the frameline), but the special effects, which were rendered in 4:3 standard definition, were zoomboxed to fill up the 16:9 frame, with massive pixellation resulting, rendering the already rickety early computer graphics even worse. I'd prefer to watch the whole series in its original 4:3 dimensions, it would be a much smoother view (and be less of a hard sell to newbies turned off by the primitive CGI).

    Farscape gets it right; take the best quality master of the program material and present it to the best advantage. The picture is more solid than the DVDs (slightly more so than the Starburst Editions, a good deal more so than the A&E DVDs, which were more heavily compressed) and the sound is killer. The DVDs' Dolby Digital track always had good separations and power, but it is dwarfed by the thunderous results that the DTS-MA tracks offer. I was very pleased with how this set was done.


  • I was in a Barnes & Noble the other day to get the Blu-ray edition of Band of Brothers for my stepdad's birthday because I think he would like the picture-in-picture commentary track with the actual members of Easy Company (an extremely cool feature). While there, I saw a big book on Hubble telescope pictures in the clearance section, $25 at 50% off, plus I'm a member so I get an extra 10% off of that, so I picked it up for myself. When I got to my parents' house, my mother asked if I had gotten that for Steve as well. I hadn't, but it was cheap enough that when he saw it and proceeded to pore over it endlessly that I figured it made a better gift than the expensive box set.

    However, the connection between video and astronomy pictures started irrigating some well-worn territory in my mind. I went online and started searching for pictures from the Hubble, the Spitzer, the Chandra, and then eventually more and more ground-based observatories as well. I labeled them and put them in a folder on a flash drive so I can use them as a slideshow on my television set. The images can be viewed whilst listening to other audio sources on my system.

    This, of course, ended up making me think about what music might go well with such a presentation, and I came up with a 25 track program of music that captures the wonder of the universe. As this was designed to be more of a multimedia presentation, a CD was not the target format.

    THE MICE: Interacting Galaxies NGC 4676A and B
    NASA, H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M.Clampin and G. Hartig (STScI), ACS Science Team, and ESA

    C O S M O L O G Y
    25 Tracks (75:38)

    1. Movement III from Heaven and Hell (4:13)
      Performed by Vangelis
      BMG 37678 — Used by Carl Sagan as the title music for the television series Cosmos

    2. RON JONES
    3. Double Star from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Evolution" (1:30)
      Orchestra Conducted by Ron Jones
      Film Score Monthly FSM BOX 05

    4. TOTO
    5. The Trip To Arrakis from Dune (2:37)
      Performed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Volksoper Choir Conducted by Marty Paich and Allyn Ferguson
      PEG Recordings PEG 015

    7. Night and Sun from Lawrence of Arabia (1:11)
      Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nic Raine
      Tadlow Music TADLOW012

    9. The Trip To Earth from Superman (2:32)
      Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by John Williams
      Film Score Monthly FSM BOX 02

    11. Main Title from Apollo 13 (3:02)
      Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nic Raine
      "Space and Beyond" Silva Screen SSD 1065

    13. Star Bright from Species (5:14)
      Orchestra and Choir Conducted by Pete Anthony
      Intrada Special Collection Volume 77

    15. Revealing the Universe from Galaxy Quest (1:03)
      Orchestra and Choir Conducted by David Newman
      Super Tracks DNCD 02

    17. Alex Dreams from The Last Starfighter (1:46)
      Orchestra Conducted by Craig Safan
      Intrada Records MAF 7066D

    19. Main Theme from Battle Beyond the Stars (4:06)
      Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nic Raine
      "Alien Invasion: Space and Beyond" Silva Screen SSD 1083

    20. JOHN BARRY
    21. Pretty Busy from The Black Hole (0:48)
      Orchestra Conducted by John Barry
      Walt Disney Records/Intrada D001383402

    23. Roslin and Adama from the Battlestar Galactica episodes "Resurrection Ship" (Parts I & II) (2:52)
      Ensemble Conducted by Bear McCreary
      "Battlestar Galactica: Season 2" La-La Land Records LLLCD 1049

    24. ALEX NORTH
    25. Space Station alternate take from the unused score of 2001: A Space Odyssey (2:13)
      Orchestra Conducted by Henry Brandt
      Intrada Special Collection Volume 38

    27. Floating Office from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1:07)
      Orchestra Conducted by Lionel Newman
      Columbia/Legacy C2K 66134

    29. The Time Bubbles from Lost In Space (2:21)
      Performed by the Sinfonia of London Conducted by Bruce Broughton
      Intrada Records MAF 7086

    30. BILL CONTI
    31. Daybreak In Space from The Right Stuff (2:47)
      Orchestra Conducted by Bill Conti
      Varèse Sarabande CD Club VCL 0609 1095.2

    33. Hyper-Sleep from Alien (2:45)
      Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London Conducted by Lionel Newman
      Intrada Records MAF 7102

    34. JOHN BARRY
    35. Launch Adrift from Star Crash: The Adventures of Stella Starr (1:44)
      Orchestra Conducted by John Barry
      BuySoundtrax Records BSXCD 8846

    37. Parting Comrades from the Farscape episode "Family Ties" (3:31)
      Performed by SubVision (Chris Neal, Braedy Neal and Toby Neal)
      GNP Crescendo GNPD 8068

    39. Let's Go from Explorers (1:48)
      Orchestra Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
      Intrada Special Collection Volume 180

    40. JOHN BARRY
    41. Flight Into Space from Moonraker (6:31)
      Orchestra and Choir Conducted by John Barry
      Capitol/EMI Records 72435-41425-2-9

    43. The Kiss from Flash Gordon (2:55)
      Performed by Freddie Mercury with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of London Conducted by Howard Blake
      Remixed and Edited by Joshua Gizelt from EMI 89499 and Supertracks HBCD 01

    44. ALEX NORTH
    45. The Sistine Chapel from The Agony and the Ecstasy (3:02)
      Orchestra Conducted by Alex North
      Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL 1104 1032

    46. RON JONES
    47. The Blast from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Evolution" (1:14)
      Orchestra Conducted by Ron Jones
      Film Score Monthly FSM BOX 05

    49. The Visitors • "Bye" • End Titles (Special Edition) from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (12:32)
      Incorporates "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington
      Orchestra and Choir Conducted by John Williams
      Arista Records 07822-19004-2 3
    The above picture is of two galaxies in the midst of a collision, called "The Mice" because of the long tails that their former spirals have made. For some reason, every time this image appears on my television screen, something has happened or is happening that is somewhat Varinia-related. I don't know why, but it's an interesting coincidence.
Tags: alex north, battlestar galactica, bill conti, bruce broughton, christopher young, cinema, craig safan, david newman, farscape, film music, firefly, high def, james horner, jerry goldsmith, john williams, maurice jarre, michael kamen, mix workshop, my mixes, new york, ron jones, science, science fiction, stanley kubrick, star trek, superman, the early mixes, vangelis, varinia

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