March 11th, 2006

Whale fluke


My neighborhood in S.E. Portland has a light dusting of fog. Not thick enough for any definition: it’s a barely-there filter, there to subtly capture and reflect sunlight so that the air around you is more obviously there, and the houses across the street (last I looked) seem ever so slightly farther away and less distinct.

I see no leaves from my bedroom window. I see more branches than normal, instead: a guy trimmed the trees behind the building a couple of weeks ago, and the trimmings are piled and tangled together, waiting to be taken elsewhere.

It’s been – let’s say engaging weather, the past few days, a little more dramatic and varied than March weather usually is around here. Snow happened Thursday, dusting the non-road surfaces in my neighborhood and accumulating on Pill Hill…while adding something like 20 inches of snow in one night to Mt. Hood. The ski areas are treating this as a gift. The mountains have been looking lovely, of course. I still remember, after how dry the summer of 2001 was, driving towards Mt. Hood and seeing so much gray on the slopes. I’m used to seeing Mt. St. Helens like that; I wasn’t used to seeing Mt. Hood that close to denuded.

We had big flakes falling at OHSU during the first half of Thursday; I predicted “Next we’ll see flakes the size of Yugos!” Sanela kept wondering when we’d be sent home early. No dice (on both predictions). Friday morning my friend/FSO Alicia e-mailed to inform me that she had about an inch of snow outside her apartment in Eugene, 100 miles south of here in the same river valley I’m in now. Friday night the storm clouds piled up in the Cascades to the east of Portland, at just the right time to look big and dramatic in the sunset light. Nice view.

Ah. More sun now. So, soon, less fog…
Whale fluke

And now a geek moment

This is actually a cool deal for me. I was about to say “big deal,” but that’s overselling it:

I follow the film music industry. Over half of my CD collection is music used in film and TV, ranging from famous John Williams stuff to obscure but classic work like Bernard Herrmann’s score to Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. I even wrote for Film Score Monthly a few times (really: go to the Search option and type in either “Christopher Walsh” or “Chris Walsh,” and see some of what was crossing my mind and flowing from my fingers in the late 1990s). My college thesis talks about the use of music to help along the story of The Fisher King. Interviewing Michael Kamen by phone was a highlight of my life as a reporter. I really enjoy this stuff.

This morning I made an online order through Varese Sarabande – the largest label to concentrate on film and TV music, and a place I covered in a 1995 article for the former print version of FSM – and its Soundtrack Club release of a major work that was never released until now: Elmer Bernstein’s score to Ghostbusters. The old soundtrack was 90% songs and the orchestral theme. This will have everything Bernstein wrote for the film, including at least one major unused cue (for when the ghosts start spreading across Manhattan; this was replaced by that kind-of-spoken-word song with the guy deadpanning “I believe it’s magic, magic…”). It’s limited to 3,000 copies, and I didn’t even know about it until yesterday, but I’m making sure I’ll get one.

Other orchestral thunder coming my way via this order will be Alex North’s music for The Agony and the Ecstasy in 1965 (North + Epics = some of the best film music ever) and, veering back to the ’80s, the utterly thundering score to RoboCop that Basil Poledouris wrote. The RoboCop march is one of my pieces of motivating music: “Duh Da duh duh DUH! Duh DA duh duh!” sometimes plays in my head as I head off somewhere…
Whale fluke

I prescribe laughter and music

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party will make you feel better.

Simple as that.

Today, after I walked to breakfast at Genie’s (a nice mushroom and scallion scramble) and looked at available models of combo TV/DVD players, I went to that film. Head bobbing commenced (for my fellow white people, just picture SNL’s “Lazy Sunday” video and you will know of both this head bobbing and this “rap” of which I speak…I kid, I kid). There’s music, joking, verbal dexterity (a big vocabulary helps you when rapping), good humor and a guy like Dave Chappelle who…I just want to hug the guy. I imagine lots of people want to, too.

And…oh my God, Chappelle actually made me laugh about the f’ing D.C. sniper. Yes, it is possible, not that I ever expected that.