The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for March 2009

‘Grendel’: An Operatic Monster’s Tale

leave a comment »

Link: ‘Grendel’: An Operatic Monster’s Tale

An old article, but interesting.

Written by Dave Dueck

March 30, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Posted in film music, link

Great Expectorations: Chapter XII

leave a comment »

Link: Great Expectorations: Chapter XII

Exulting briefly in rich sunshine after a period of gloom and destitution. Also, excerpts of homemade fiction.

Download the mp3 of this chapter

Text version can be read here

This is a…

Written by Dave Dueck

March 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Posted in link, podcast

Great Expectorations: Chapter XII

leave a comment »

Currently
Supergirl (1984 Film)
Arrival on Earth/The Flying Ballet

Welcome to Chapter XII of Great Expectorations. This is Dave Dueck once again, and I’m sorry I’m late.

Last time I wrote one of these things, there was snow outside my window. Now the brown earth is laid bare before the blinding sun, which has only come out this weekend after a week of cloudy gloom; one which had everybody around here somewhat depressed to one extent or another. It’s still fairly cool outside, the temperature has been hovering only slightly above the freezing point, and there is chance of heavy snow this week, but for now the sun is out and people are chipper.

And fitting this sunshine is indeed! For I have finally been hired, after months of frustrating, agonizing job-hunting, and although it’ll be another few weeks before I’ve settled into the routine of the new job, it’s safe to say that a great cloud has been lifted and the golden rays are starting to break through. God be praised!

I’m pretty excited, but I’m also pretty busy preparing myself for my new duties and getting things cleared out of the way, and I’m pretty tired as well, so instead of filling this update with some pretty boring twaddle (my last two weeks have been practically identical to the ones already chronicled), I will wish you well and give you a preview of a comic fantasy I began writing in mid-2006. The following is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress,

The Day Right After the Night Before that One Christmas, Chapter 6

Kap Keestor, surely one of the world‘s more massive chieftains, was fuming. He poked his head out of the wigwam’s door-flap and looked around the camp. Where was that boy? The gorgeous sunrise was wasted on the scruffy chieftain. It was bad enough that Klem was always meddling in that stupid waste of time he called ‘technology,’ now he was nowhere to be found, just when Kap needed his morning coffee. He growled and went back inside.
His wife Crystal looked up from her drawings in the dirt floor in concern. “Is he gone again?”
Kap snarled. “Yup. That boy’s gonna have to learn a lesson soon. I’m sick of him always not being around here, and always never making my coffee on time. He’ll pay!”
Crystal returned her attention to her drawings, which consisted of an attractive bunny eating a pomegranate and a wolf trying to kill a Forest Ogre with a sand wedge. She spoke timidly as she resumed her artistic scratching.
“You’re not going to revoke his technology privileges again, are you? They mean so much to him. He’ll only get angry.”
Kap chuckled. “Then he’ll know how I feel. Not making coffee for me! The idea! His silly technology privileges can go hang. How am I supposed to gear up to battle the Castle of Administration when I have no coffee to drink?”
It was Crystal’s turn to chuckle. “You know, it’s not really proper coffee at all. He just mixes dirt, soap and hot water. You could do it yourself.”
“I thought that’s what real coffee was made up of.”
“Nope.”
“Oh.”
There was an awkward pause.
“But it tastes like dirt and soap.”
“Yes.”
“What is it really made from?”
Crystal shrugged. “Something that looks like wet dirt and tastes like soap?”
Kap’s eyes narrowed suddenly. “How do you know all this?”
“Klem told me. He said that his way of making coffee is just a stand-in until he can figure out how to use technology to make real coffee.”
Kap slowly allowed his eyelids to resume their normal positions and he sat down heavily on his stool. It was cleverly fashioned out of a donkey’s butt, and was very comfortable. Kap pursed his giant lips in a sort of perplexed frustration. At length he spoke again. “Where’s Kyle?”
“He said he was going fishing.”
“But how? We haven’t invented the fishing pole yet.”
“He was taking along a piece of bread and one of his tube socks. He said he was going to try luring the fish into the sock with the piece of bread.”
“Well, at least Kyle has sense. None of this technology nonsense with him. He’s got a head on his shoulders and he’s got practical ideas. Now if only he could think of a practical way for our tribe to storm the Castle of Administration…”
Suddenly there was a shout from outside, and Kap recognized Klem’s voice. He jumped up off his stool and ran outside, taking off his belt as he did so. Crystal sighed and went outside too. Perhaps she could stave off another unpleasant scene, but there were never any guarantees with Kap.
What Kap and Crystal saw as they emerged from the wigwam was totally unexpected and made them forget all thoughts of spanking and familial conflict: Klem was leading a donkey which was pulling a suit of armour on a flat wooden thing. Kap was particularly befuddled by the harness which connected the animal and the apparatus. What sort of dark sorcery WAS this? Klem appeared concerned, an unusual appearance for the typically jaunty young rogue. He reached the middle of the camp and gestured at the donkey.
“Well, Pops? Eh?”
Kap approached the animal and ran his fingers gingerly along the mysterious harness, his eyes ablaze with wonder and curiosity. “What sort of sorcery, technology or weird thing IS this?”
Klem shrugged. “No idea. Pretty clever, though, eh? The wonders of technology know no limits!”
Kap walked around the donkey a couple of times, his giant lips pursed once again. “It appears to be some sort of device for allowing the animal to pull the burden!”
“That’s what I figured. See how simply it’s made, using a combination of seemingly unrelated parts to create a uniform and useful whole? Ingenious! All I want to know is, why is it pulling this–”
CLANG!! Kap kicked the suit of armour with his gnarled, woode-clad foot. A scream, hoarse and high-pitched, escaped the helmet.
“HEY! Knock it off!”
Kap looked at Klem in angry surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me there was a real person inside of here?”
“I was about to…”
The voice from the armour spoke out again. “Somebody get me out of here! Stupid armour!”
Klem and Kap looked at each other for a moment, and then Kap went back to the wigwam. When he returned, he was carrying a crudely-fashioned but humongous sword, five inches wide at the blade’s base. Instead of swinging it like a glorified, sword-shaped axe, however, he used it like a crowbar, inserting the blade’s tip into one of the links of chain holding the armour to the wooden base. He twisted the sword suddenly and SNAPPO! The sword blade shattered under the incredible pressure of the massive chieftain’s strength, matched beyond hope against the indestructible forged steel of the chain. The armour still didn’t move. The voice came out of the helmet again. “Even if you HAD broken the chain, I still can’t move! This suit is way too rusty!”
Klem stooped down and began to examine the suit. He noticed several dozen round metal studs with little crosses engraved deeply in them, but aside from a passing sense of amazement at the advanced knowledge one would need to create such detail, he felt nothing but frustration. He couldn’t think of any way to release the suit’s prisoner. He turned to Kap with his arms spread wide in helplessness. “What should we do?”
Kap’s eyebrows had lowered. “No doubt the man’s a former prisoner of the Administration. Clever devils! After torturing this man for years, they’ve gotten the information they needed from him and released him like they promised… but in an iron, man-shaped prison, pulled by clever harness to wherever this witless animal may choose to go! The sheer inhumanity of it all reeks of Tweed and his Administration! I say we do the only thing a decent clan CAN do: attack!”
Klem couldn’t help smirking. “Attacking won’t help us rescue this poor soul, and we’d most likely end up sharing his cruel but ingenious fate. I say we find a way to rescue him, and he can share his knowledge of the Castle with us. THEN maybe we can attack.”
Kap snarled. “Nobody tells Kap Keestor how to run his clan! I’ll do the thinking here. But you’re right. This man could be of some help, and rescuing him gets us karma points, too.”

To be continued…

Thanks for listening! I hope to be back next week with something more substantial and more entertaining, if that is even possible. God bless and Love All,

Dave Dueck

PS: Mikal wins the last episode’s music clip contest with an astonishing 24 points! Beka comes in second with 10 points. The answers are:
Clip 1: “Potter Waltz” from The Goblet of Fire by Patrick Doyle
Clip 2: “Theology & Civilization” from Conan The Barbarian (piano solo version) by Basil Poledouris
Clip 3: “Coda” (hidden track) from Johnny English by Ed Shearmur
Clip 4: “The People’s Princess I” from The Queen by Alexandre Desplat
Clip 5: “Mr. Smith and Joan” from Doctor Who: Series 3 by Murray Gold
Clip 6: “The Ballroom” from Arsene Lupin by Debbie Wiseman
Clip 7: “Hogwart’s March” from The Goblet of Fire by Patrick Doyle
Clip 8: “Valjean’s Journey” from Les Miserables by Basil Poledouris
Clip 9: “March of the RHPS” from Valiant by George Fenton
Clip 10: “Qui Es Tu” from Arsene Lupin by Debbie Wiseman
Clip 11: “Le Festin” from Ratatouille by Michael Giacchino
Clip 12: “Ratatouille Main Theme” from Ratatouille by Michael Giacchino
Clip 13: “Vassili’s Fame Spreads” from Enemy at the Gates by James Horner
Clip 14: “Off to Ireland” from Marley & Me by Teddy Shapiro
Clip 15: “Russian Tank Victory” from Call of Duty 2 (VG) by Graeme Revell

Written by Dave Dueck

March 29, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Posted in fiction, journal

Stargate (David Arnold)

leave a comment »


Late again! Sorry. Things… came up.

Anyways, now we’re on to David Arnold. By rights, if I was strictly following my updated library spreadsheet, I’d be reviewing Craig Armstrong’s World Trade Center today instead, but 1) it’s actually owned by my younger sister and I just ripped it from CD to iTunes without her knowledge, and 2) I’m dying to review something a bit more stylishly romantic and rip-roaringly FUN than Armstrong’s work tends to be. Let’s be honest, as powerful and dramatic and moving as The Incredible Hulk and Elizabeth: The Golden Age are (and they are!), they’re not exactly FUN. Driving? Inspirational? Invigorating? Pulse-pounding? Oh my yes.

But… “fun?”

I think I’m trying to say that there’s a difference between “enjoyable/impressive/admirable” and “fun.” Exactly how they are different is of course a topic for you English majors out there (more power to you, I would have likely been one had I attended college), but for now I think it’s safe to say that Stargate, David Arnold’s bold and brash explosion onto the film score scene, is a heck of a lot more fun in a lighthearted and accessible way than the more heavy-handed Armstrong dirges and elegies we’ve been discussing hitherto. You know, the same way Hans Zimmer is more “fun” than Michael Kamen. Oh, wait… Yeah, never mind. Disregard that simile.

Anyways, Stargate. This is really one which, like a good many Arnold scores, I needn’t even discuss. Any proper, old-fashioned score collector will have learned to love it eons ago, and the only way this obscure blog entry is going to shape anyone’s opinion is if they’re so new to the hobby that they’re just discovering (for whatever insufficient reason) the many merits of John Williams’ original Star Wars, or, worse yet, Jaws.

Not that Stargate is very close to those undisputed masterpieces (in a purely technical sense), but it’s pretty nearly as classic, wonderful and old-fashioned by the standards of this waning age of the early 2000’s. Stargate is an early ’90s score, and if you know anything about the 1990s as far as film music is concerned, you know it was a darn fine time to be interested in that field. From Williams’ own early-decade masterpieces such as Home Alone, Hook, Jurassic Park, Far and Away and Schindler’s List, to James Horner’s astounding maturation (and some would say eventual descent into self-plagiarism) with such fantastic classics as Legends of the Fall, Casper, Balto, Apollo 13, Braveheart, and of course Titanic, there were also the newly emerging, immense talents of Elliot Goldenthal, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and of course, David Arnold.

Granted, it was a ten-year period, but to cast an eye over the many now-classic scores that came out in that decade is to invite amazement and struggle for self-control. And Stargate, for its sheer audacity and scope, is one of the finest large-scale debuts in film score history by any composer (for my money). Up there with Doyle’s Henry V, easily.

So what of the music? It’d be a stretch to call it similar to the Hollywood-filtered classical style of John Williams (boy, his name will pop up in this post, won’t it??), but it’s certainly no stretch to say it’s definitely that brassy, purely orchestral strain of sci-fi adventure music which is firmly rooted in the oldest, grandest Hollywood style. This is Korngold-style heroics at it’s finest! Think of Debney’s CutThroat Island… that stylish throwback vein mixed with a thoroughly modern sonic depth and dramatic flourish. Stargate is to sci-fi and fantasy what CutThroat is to pirate scores. Old-fashioned, swashbuckling and romantic in just the right ways, without sounding a bit out of place. And it’s just modern enough to be permitted an incredibly bombastic construction.

The album I have (the original, not the coveted Deluxe Edition) begins with the grand “Overture,” which is really just a terrific way to introduce the score. The themes are swelling, the chorus is massive, and the tone transforms from awe-inspiring and massively triumphant to dark and uber-ominous so seamlessly that it never, NEVER fails to impress me. It sets the stage perfectly for the rest of the wonderfully strong album.

Loud chants, blaring brass, thundering timpanis, and surging string washes are delightfully complimented by lighter cues with tingling percussion and swirling woodwinds. It’s got a little bit of everything, and it never slows down or grows dull. It’s a remarkably mature album for such an early David Arnold venture, and it has clear prototypes for musical ideas which he would later crystallize and perfect in his (even more famous) scores for Independence Day and Godzilla (and, to some extent, his biggest, baddest James Bond scores).

A track-by-track or even semi-track-specific review of the album (beyond that overture) is a bit of a silly notion: there are 30 tracks, and every one is dynamite. The best way to sum it all up is to say that it’s a dern fine bit of adventure music, and it was the obvious watershed in Arnold’s amazingly successful career. This is where it started, folks! And, if you’re like me, you’ll find this a terrific score to revisit every once in a while. Every *frequent* once in a while. It’s fabulous. And, in this bland-as-oatmeal season where most new film score albums fail to muster anything more than a cursory glance and an unenthusiastic “Oh, ah…” from me, these classics are welcome tools for refreshing the mind and soul with some truly splashy and FUN orchestral mayhem.

If you don’t have it, you can listen to the entire thing in my imeem playlist. Enjoy!

Written by Dave Dueck

March 28, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Posted in film music

leave a comment »

If only we knew more of You and Your precious love, O Lord. The only possession I truly have is Your love, and I ask You for nothing more.

Charles Spurgeon

Written by Dave Dueck

March 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Posted in quote

LA LA LAND RECORDS NEW RELEASE – BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM COMPLETE SCORE

leave a comment »

Link: LA LA LAND RECORDS NEW RELEASE – BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM COMPLETE SCORE

A great follow-up to La La Land’s late 2008 release of music from Batman: The Animated Series by the same composer, Shirley Walker.

Written by Dave Dueck

March 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Posted in film music, link

leave a comment »

Faith links me with Divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages the infinite power of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God is employed for my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march victoriously over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord?

Charles H. Spurgeon

Written by Dave Dueck

March 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Posted in quote