The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for October 2008

Great Expectorations: Chapter I

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Currently Listening
Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall [2 CD]
By Rufus Wainwright
Over the Rainbow

Welcome to Great Expectorations, Chapter I. I suggest you sit down, I have a feeling this could be a long one.

So today I decided to wear my black seersucker pinstripe trousers to church. For those of the really uninitiated, seersucker is a thin fabric, often used in the construction of garish plaid shorts for summer wear. This particular pair of pants is similarly breathable, and saw me through many otherwise unbearable Sundays in the oppressive summer heat. This weekend I pulled the pants out of the closet for the first time since August, and whaddya know? Today it dawns cloudy, super-windy, COLD, and it eventually started snowing. Next time remind me to grab my long johns.

That reminds me of a little-discussed subject I began musing on over the summer: urban voodoo. This is my name for a phenomenon which seems to occur often enough to rule out being a coincidence. Things like getting a car wash, and it raining buckets the next day. Or driving slowly down a road rumoured to be littered with speed traps, and not seeing a single cop. Or surviving a 10-day trip to Canada and not getting hurt once, only to cut your forehead wide open on your sunglasses the moment you get home. These kinds of things don’t just HAPPEN. There’s a definite cause and effect scenario going on here somewhere, and part of the key to living a happy suburban life is to figure out what causes what. Having an overly dry summer? Tomatoes not doing so well in the stifling summer sun? Just wash your car and watch nature do the rest. The alternative is to water the tomatoes yourself every day until they die anyways.

There’s a kind of irony here though: no matter how good you get at the process of second-guessing the urban voodoo gods, there seems to be a maddening connection between urban voodoo and Murphy’s Law, which seems to be a presiding, guiding influence on the operation of the voodoo itself. Basically, every time you THINK you know how to work the system, it backfires and leaves you choking in the dust. For example, I drove home very carefully from work *every day* this summer because that road had ALWAYS had a cop staked out to watch for speeders. Always, that is, until I started driving on it. Then the cops promptly disappeared. But I stayed under the speed limit, because I NEVER KNEW if one day I might come over that bridge and see Barney Fife waiting to claim my soul. On my last day of work, I decided to head home a little faster than usual. You guessed it, a cop was sitting right there. I thank my lucky God that his attention was apparently on someone other than me. A close one, indeed.

But that’s a discussion for another day, perhaps, when I’ve gotten the particulars a bit more sorted. For now, though, let’s talk about me.

I’m a little torn at the moment. Should I talk about what I *want* to talk about, or should I talk about what I *should* talk about? Here are the choices:

1)      A lengthy discussion regarding pretentiousness and hypocrisy, my loathing for both, my happy abstinence from both, and whether they are synonymous or not (always interesting to me and worth a few pages of monologue), or

2)      A review of my recent trip to Niagara Falls and everything that happened there.

I would like to talk about choice number one. It’s stimulating to my intellect and it might prove edifying to others. I do not want to talk about Niagara Falls because I had such an overwhelmingly lovely time there that to try to talk about it would prove saddening, indulgent, and possibly futile.

Oh, what the heck. Let’s talk about Niagara Falls. 😀

I flew in to Buffalo Airport in New York on October 9, ostensibly to attend Luke and Karen Kallberg’s wedding in Rochester. But for the vast majority of my 10-day stay, I was holed up in Niagara Falls, Canada, enjoying the cozy comforts of the Friesen household. I slept on a mattress on the living room floor, sometimes sharing the blankets with an opinionated, excitable young creature named Barbie, who often deserted me in the middle of the night for more familiar, sympathetic faces. She would try to cover up her absence by returning just before I awoke, but she couldn’t pull the carpet over MY eyes. I had to be very strict with her sometimes, but in the end we left on very good terms.

Every day in Canada was filled with enough excitement and fun to warrant its own chapter, so I shall simply sum things up by glancing into my little journal and expounding briefly on what I find therein:

The car ride to the wedding itself was not boring. We stalled while crossing over into the US via Rainbow Bridge, and we pushed the car to America with gridlock traffic (and later the border guard) watching us the whole way. We then walked to the nearest gas stations for transmission fluid, poured it into the car, and proceeded on our merry musical way to Rochester, where we arrived just in time for the reception.

It was, I admit, a bit disappointing to be absent for the marriage ceremony itself, but I nonetheless had a wonderful time hobnobbing with all my old friends during the reception. At my friend Peter’s behest, I even danced a haphazard waltz with Nomes Kallberg. Neither of us are habitual dancers, and found considerable solace in the fact that modern ballroom dancing consists of holding hands and shifting one’s weight slowly from one side to the other.

That Sunday I went with Bex, Hide and their mother (and Barbie, of course) to Port Dahlousie on Lake Ontario, where we saw boats, ships, seagulls, lighthouses, and absolutely the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. We also got ice cream at a local tourist hole, where I spent my first four Canadian dollars, which are considerably cooler-looking than American ones.

I was also present for two important Canadian events, Thanksgiving and Election Day. The former we spent at Nana Friesen’s house, where we ate a meal which I could have sworn was identical to American Thanksgiving food. We then had some stimulatingly pleasant talk, and a few games of ‘Boggle,’ at which I stink abominably. The whole event was quite enjoyable.

Election Day was much less notable. I know nothing of Canadian politics, but was pleasantly surprised to see the conservative party re-elected. And that’s pretty much all I have to say about that.

During the remainder of my stay we went to many exciting places: St. Catherines, a lovely little city where Mrs. Friesen sells homemade jewelry at the market, and where we went book-shopping at the coolest little used bookstore I’ve ever seen (and where I bought copies of ‘The Guns of Navarone,’ ‘Force 10 from Navarone,’ ‘Bridge on the River Kwai,’ and ‘King Solomon’s Mines’). We went to Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, where I enjoyed a few of the most thrilling rides I’ve ever been on, including the absolutely gargantuan ‘Behemoth’ roller coaster. We went to the Apple store in a Toronto mall, where Jess, Bex and I took turns shaking the walls with our iPods on the sound systems while we waited for Heidi to buy her new Macbook. We went to Church, we went to Starbuck’s, we hit the library, we ate at Harvey’s, we worked on their car (‘worked’ probably being a the best way to describe it),we argued about my corduroy trousers and their apparent colour (which public consensus tends to call brown), we created new in-jokes regarding obscene font titles, and of course we went to the Falls themselves.

I loved them. The awesome power displayed by this natural wonder took one’s breath away. But even more amazing was the fact that Superman himself had been there in person only 27 or 28 eight years previously, during the fiasco with General Zod. It was a humbling, hushed moment moment for me to stand where Superman stood.

But more than anything, it was just being able to be a welcomed, even necessary part of these sisters’ everyday lives for a little while that gave me the most enjoyment during the trip. At 5 AM every day (or mostly every day, more precisely) I helped Bex with her paper route. We all went jogging together, cooked meals together, pushed cars across borders together, played games, walked the dog, babysat neighbor kids, collected paper route fees door-to-door, and enjoyed the FABULOUS autumn colours together for 10 amazing days (particularly gorgeous at the Niagara River gorge, a mere bike ride away from their house).

My final full day there, we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a fantastic little village full of amazing shops, horse-drawn buggies and delectable candy apples (many thanks to Mr. Friesen for that!). I purchased an Irish whistle at a Celtic merchandise shop and am strenuously trying to learn it.

Some invisible fiend from the real world tore me away from that utopia on Monday morning this week. I spent most of the flight home in a sort of daze, and when I got home I promptly cut my forehead wide open on the hinge of my sunglasses, which were hanging from my hoodie as I pulled it off.

And so this week was largely spent regrouping and readjusting to an arguably alien lifestyle. After a couple days of unpacking, loafing around, visiting chiropractors and writing letters, I managed to slip back into a productive mode of living, having resumed my article-writing for Suite101.com and helping Joel construct his house across the street. Adopted sister Jamee Franklin of Florida is also visiting, and we’ve had a wonderful time catching up and kicking around some of the local haunts, including, but not limited to, the movie theater, Timber Lodge, and an amateur stage company. Tonight we will go bowling, tomorrow we will go ice-skating, and Tuesday we will go to the Mall of America, which will mark a record 4th time in one year I have gone there.

So that, in a few too many paragraphs, is what I’ve been doing. I am aware that I am not being terribly descriptive for all the describing I’m trying to do, but it’s Sunday and I’m tired. Besides, as I said before, describing the full wonder of the trip is a futile exercise, and one which disheartens me more than anything. What’s more, I’m yearning to go outside and walk around in an overcoat. As I mentioned earlier, it snowed today. It still is, a little bit, and that’s not something to just pass up. So I’m going to have to wrap this up pretty soon.

Incidentally, regarding what I was saying earlier about pretentiousness and hypocrisy: I have been fluctuating wildly in my opinion regarding a certain musician of whom I’m sure you’ve heard before…

Josh Groban.

There, I said it.

Yes, I really like him. At least, sometimes I really like him. Other times I hate his guts. Why?

I wondered for a while if it was because of who I associated with. I might enjoy his music if I was in the company of people who enjoy it… and then revile the man when I found myself among people who despised him. Could it be, perhaps, that my musical preferences are so fragile? That they shift and transform so completely merely because of my current company? Can I be accused of pretentiousness or hypocrisy in this regard? I am happy to say no.

You see, like any artist, Mr. Groban fits the bill nicely IF GIVEN THE RIGHT MATERIAL. IF THE SITUATION CALLS FOR HIS PARICULAR SENSIBILITIES. His voice is smooth and almost operatic, easily many times more attractive than at least 75% of the other male vocalists. But it’s not a voice which functions to its fullest attractiveness in every medium. Give him a plaintive carol, an Italian love song, even have him do a cover of ‘You Raise Me Up,’ and all is well. Give him anything more popular and prone to modern ‘sensibilities,’ though, and you have a recipe for disaster (‘Believe’ from “The Polar Express”). It is when he performs the right material that I love him. It is when he performs kitschy, crappy modern soup that I hate him. And these different sides to my view of him alternate in their apparentness depending on whom I am associating with at the moment. The same applies to Enya, to Rufus Wainwright, to Philip Glass… to any musician, and to any artist for that matter. Just something I wanted to clarify/throw out there for your consideration.

Anyways. It’s time I finished. I hope this chapter finds you clear-headed, in good health, and proves encouraging in some small way. I shall be back next week, and until that time I wish you the best of luck and the blessings of Heaven. Yours, and Love All,

Dave Dueck

PS: Here is the score tally and answers from last episode’s music contest for the Podcast listeners:

Grace Dueck gets 3 pts! She Guessed Clip #1 as a Rachel Portman piece, and Clip 4 as being ‘A Postcard to Henry Purcell’ from the soundtrack to ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ Because she is one of two people who wrote back with guesses, and because she’s the only one who got any right, she is the winner of the first music clip contest and eligible to enter a drawing for an inexpensive prize which shall be announced via this blog/podcast this coming May. Congrats, Grace!

ANSWERS (in Artist/Album/Track format):

Clip 1: Rachel Portman – The Legend of Bagger Vance – The Legend of Bagger

Clip 2: Elliot Goldenthal – Micahel Collins – Train Station Farewell

Clip 3: Murray Gold – Doctor Who, Series One – Cassandra’s Waltz

Clip 4: Dario Marianelli/Henry Purcell – Pride & Prejudice – A Postcard t Henry Purcell

Clip 5: Danny Elfman – Dolores Claiborne – The Sad Room

Clip 6: Danny Elfman – Standard Operating Procedure – End Credits

Written by Dave Dueck

October 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Posted in journal

The Incredible Hulk II – Conclusion

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Well, this certainly didn’t last as long as I hoped it would, but the truth is that the sheer mass of the music for ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (coupled with my decadent familiarity with the film) has kinda stunted my ability to write about it. A much more in-depth review can be found here, it deals with the score on a somewhat more technical level. Perhaps I’ll come back and revisit the score when I’ve seen the film.

I must say I really enjoy the score, though. It’s just a bit hard to take in large doses, as I said in my other post. My conlcusions? Heavy, kick-elbow, fiercely dramatic, occasionally soft, sparingly lovely, but very short on light moments. This is HULK the way he was meant to be scored, but with so much music on the album, you’ll want to take it in doses.

I also gotta mention the respectful use of the original ‘Lonely Man’ theme from the TV show in the track ‘Bruce Goes Home.’ It’s the kind of self-aware throwback gesture which would be the equivalent of Neal Hefti’s “Batman” theme in the new Chris Nolan movies, although I have an idea that “Hulk” is a little more accepting of that kind of musical nostalgia than the new Batman films are. At least the way Nolan is making them. Maybe one day, if Frank Miller ever gets a chance to direct his own Bat-film…

Anyways, I do recommend this album, although you should be aware, it’s bold and brutal. You have to be in a special kind of mood to listen to this stuff. You can hear it on my imeem profile here.

Written by Dave Dueck

October 6, 2008 at 2:27 am

Posted in film music

Great Expectorations: Introductions

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Currently Listening
Darkman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
By Danny Elfman

Welcome to Great Expectorations, formerly known as Live from the Abyss. This is Dave Dueck, returned from summer hiatus. It’s good to be back.

This being a mere introductory chapter, a pilot episode if you will, I will refrain from discussing much except the new update format and a few things you should know before I write any of the updates proper.

It’s been a long summer, too long and full of wondrous events and dizzying complexity to recap briefly. I shall therefore simply describe my summer as long, hot, uncomfortably busy, insanely profitable, undeniably lucrative, sporadically mechanistic in its regularity, and occasionally thrilling. Time would fail me to describe in depth my job with Alison’s Expert Residential Cleaning, or my wonderful weekend at the cabin in early August, or the blissful but all-too-short visit from the wonderful Friesen trio (and our trip to ValleyFair!), or my first trip to the Minnesota State Fair in many years, or another cool trip to the cabin with Rob to see the fall colours, or any number of any other carzy misadventures. Let’s just say I was really busy this summer, kept out of trouble, had some adventures, took several long trips, made some new friends and maybe got a bite to eat.

So now a few words about these new updates: I suppose you’re wondering why I chose the name I did. It’s a simple analogy, if a bit vulgar. I have a hazy understanding that writing long letters about my life and trials must be something like shoving my saliva in another person’s face: they’ve got enough of their own, why on earth would they care about dealing with mine?

So it is with my life. If you find yourself somewhat repulsed by my meandering but eloquent letters of woe, distress, and strife, simply let me know and I shall cease this ugly projection. If, however, you are one of those few who find a dose of my spit to work like a wonder drug not unlike colloidal silver, then by all means drink deeply. Heaven knows there will be plenty for everyone.

As before, I will be publishing new chapters of these updates every week, as my schedule allows. There will be Sundays, as before, where I will be unable to write an update due to lack of time, health, etc., but if I miss a day I will still write a complete update as soon as possible.

Also, these letters are being published as recorded audio podcasts, to which you can listen by visiting www.foopaux.com, our still-going-strong personal media site, with which I am sure many of you are familiar by this time.

The audio version of these updates will include several pieces of music per chapter, which, besides being used to enhance the fun of listening to me talk, will be the subject of a little contest.  I will be awarding points for people who can recognize any of the following: the name of the tracks I play, the artists responsible for the tracks, and the album from which the track was taken: one point for each of these things, per cue. If you think you know any of those for any given track I play on the podcast, send in your guesses: you have to potential to win three points per track. During the week, if I receive emails from you containing your guesses, I will tally up the scores, and announce the scores the following week. This is a way for you to participate in the weekly updates, show off your music knowledge, engage in a meaningless competition with people you probably don’t know, and for me to play DJ. It should be pretty fun. Also, if you have a request for a piece of music for me to use in the podcast, send in your request with your guesses. No guesses, no requests. And I warn you: I have a very particular taste in music, so no promises that many of you will recognize what I play. 😀

And now on to today’s deeply philosophical subject:
MY PLANS FOR THE REST OF THIS YEAR

Beginning October 9, I will be traveling to Canada and New York for 10 days or so. I will be gone long enough to make it difficult, if not impossible, to write and record new chapters of this new season of updates for a week or two, so expect this to be the only update you’ll be getting until late October. If there’s any chance of me writing an update while in Canada, rest assured I will do so. I will return Monday, October 20 with many pictures and videos of my experience there.

In late November I will be traveling to New Orleans, Louisiana to direct a feature film for Peter Baehr. I will be gone 3 weeks to a month and hope to have an enlightening, enjoyable time. I’ll get home a little before Christmas, certainly in time for our semi-annual WINTER PARTY, to which everyone is invited, as usual.

In between trips, I will be helping Joel build his new house across the street, writing articles for Suite101.com, and not getting allergic reactions or insomnia, two maladies to which I have been very prone the past few months. In all of this time, I hope to produce regular updates which you will find relevant and digestible. So! Stay tuned, and until next time, this has been the INTRODUCTION to GREAT EXPECTORATIONS, Book I, formerly LIVE from the ABYSS. As always, Love all,

~Dave Dueck

PS: Because I wanted this Introduction to contain something of interest besides a few previews of my autumn activities, here are some interesting quotes from the book I’m currently reading, LORD OF THE FLIES, by William Golding. The character in question, Ralph, is a very young English schoolboy, probably twelve years of age, suddenly burdened with the task of leading a group of stranded boys on a desert island during World War II.

“The Tide was coming in and there was only a narrow strip of firm beach between the water and the white, stumbling stuff near the palm terrace. Ralph chose the firm strip as a path because he needed to think, and only here could he allow his feet to move without having to watch them. Suddenly, pacing by the water, he was overcome with astonishment. He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet. He stopped, facing the strip; and remembering that first enthusiastic exploration as though it were part of a brighter childhood, he smiled jeeringly.”

“ ‘Grown-ups know things,’ said Piggy. ‘They ain’t afraid of the dark. They’d meet and have tea and discuss. Then thing’s ‘ud be all right.—’
‘They wouldn’t set fire to an island.’
‘They’d build a ship…’
The three boys stood in the darkness, striving unsuccessfully to convey the majesty of adult life.
‘They wouldn’t quarrel…’
‘Or break my spectacles…’
‘Or talk about beasts…’ ”

Written by Dave Dueck

October 5, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Posted in journal