November 15th, 2007


Walker on Walker Part Ten: Her Final Scores

Composer Shirley Walker died November 26, 2006 of a brain aneurysm. The next month her final movie, the remake of the horror film Black Christmas, came out, from her Space: Above and Beyond/Final Destination collaborators Glen Morgan and James Wong. In the end credits, when Morgan and Wong's producer credit appeared on screen, so did a message: "Goodbye, Shirley."

I'll paraphrase Peter David's note from Imzadi: The time we have on this planet to do what we want to do is always limited, no matter how much we like to pretend otherwise.

Before her death, Walker kept working. In this tenth and final edition of Walker on Walker, she discusses two particular Morgan-and-Wong projects: the TV series The Others and the disturbingly-detuned-accordians score she wrote for their clever remake of Willard:
We wanted to have some kind of nerd element in the music that was reflecting the social ineptitude of Willard. But I've always been fascinated by the accordion as a reed instrument and I've always wanted to have one in the reed section of the orchestra; we seated them right there so that the two sections were really together. It has all those sounds that the clarinet and bassoons and double-reeds, especially, have. You heard the music going along with him, and it's pretty present in the first couple of cues; it's just this weird sound you hear. I don't know that anyone listening would say, "Oh, is that an accordion?" But they're out of tune -- accordions are difficult to tune -- and to have six of them playing together, you get this wonderful spread of intonations. That combined with the woodwinds is just a very rich color.
And she also knew an important part of film scoring is knowing when not to have music:
There's a wonderful scene after Willard's mother dies where [Crispin Glover as Willard and Laura Harring as Katherine] are at the funeral home together and she hugs him, and you see him actually unable to touch her -- you see his hand quivering behind her -- and he wants to touch her but can't bring himself to. I never touched their relationship musically other than her turning away from him.
This is what I wrote just about a year ago when I heard of Walker's death. It has a nice Shirley moment worth sharing.

Always limited. But she worked well, and lived well, during her limited time.


I feel listless. I don't really want to be working...or, more to the point, I don't really want to be listening to other office dwellers who find new and exciting ways to be annoyed and cynical and complainatory. (I know that's not a word. I don't care.) I've said it before, it's sometimes like working with a bunch of Napoleon Dynamites here. And if I was as loud and constant a complainer as they are, I'd get in trouble, in the insincere "We're concerned about how you're fitting in here..." way.

On the positive side, last night was nice. I finished work early to run a bank errand, then I took myself first to Powell's and then to the Virginia Cafe for a steak salad. I let myself spend!

11:37 a.m. edit: And in other news, I have a new company computer. Which is missing the particular program needed to let me log onto my company's network, which is one of the f'ing reasons I needed a new company computer in the first place.
Whale fluke

May I dare to be a gourmet?

I could be a gourmet.

I'm not yet a gourmet, but I'm surely a gourmand.

I like both those words; I like the way both of them sound. "Gourmet" has that refinement French and French-sounding words have to my English-hearing ears; "gourmand" has a stoutness to it...not quite Jabba the Hutt stoutness, but it has a nice solidity.

Here's how my Webster's Unabridged defines 'em:
gourmet: an epicure; a judge of choice foods.
gourmand: 1) a greedy or ravenous eater; a glutton. 2) a gourmet; an epicure.

So there's actually some overlap in the two words' meaning. I didn't know that.

I say I'm not a gourmet yet for a few reasons:

1) I've never really been all that creative in the kitchen. I have a small kitchen, certainly, but I've had larger and better-equipped ones; docbrite and chefcdb would probably find more creative use of them than I have. (Hey, I could practice more involved cooking in the kitchen my dad's niiiiiiice, much better than the Seventies-era kitchen the house had when my folks bought it. Half of the original burners didn't work in that kitchen before Dad gutted it...)

2) One of the skills I've yet to develop as a writer is describing tastes and flavors. (As blubeagle knows, when asked how something tastes, I tend to start joking...) Writing restaurant reviews holds no interest for me. And I'd say that's a sign I haven't yet really thought enough about what food and taste mean to me.

3) Can I truly be a gourmet while still appreciating something like the caramel-pretzel Klondike Bar I had for dessert tonight? ;-)

All that said, I see my potential to be a gourmet. I'm trainable. Considering my happy reaction to Ratatouille, a film that promotes the idea of savoring, and that even visualizes what taste is like (one of the film's neat effects), I have the foundation of a more developed food appreciater.

Plus now I know one can be a gourmet and a gourmand at the same time. Sweet.
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