Flip Through

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jossaholics Anonymous

A weensy disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Honestly, if they managed to reproduce his essence of cool in, say, whiskey form, I'd have to start attending AA. Thus, if my drool starts oozing out of your computer screen, really--it's not my fault.

Okay then! Let's talk about Joss and his many excellent creations. Rather, let's talk about what the Big Three of Cult TV have in common (besides a mutual creator and general awesomeness). I would like to postulate that it is music. Not that the soundtracks of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, and Firefly are that similar; they're not. However, Joss's opinion of the importance of music is evident in all three series. Serieses?

First, we have the Buffy theme. AH, the Buffy theme. That creepy organ chord--that wolf howl--and then, Nerf Herder! Doing their darndest to shred your eardrums! I love it; I never get sick of it. Furthermore, the Buffy theme illustrates, within the 40 seconds of its existence, the delightful pastiche of teen culture and classic horror which came to signify the series itself. Which brings me to the rest of Buffy's music; from Dingoes Ate My Baby to Cibo Matto to Aimee Mann to Michelle Branch, the Scooby gang had a frippin' awesome soundtrack to their lives. Slayage to the beats of "Chinese Burn" never looked or sounded so fun.

For my money, the Angel theme is equally rad, if in a totally different way. It's darker, slower, and more classical--cello-rock, if you will--and fitting for a show on the whole more gritty than its parent series. As Buffy's theme illustrated the Buffy credo, so does Angel's theme show Angel's journey of redemption. Angel also gets its share of pop: the karaoke bar to end all karaoke bars, Caritas, is the scene of many a grand rendition, including Barry Manilow's "Mandy", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and "Crazy" by Patsy Cline.

(Worth noting...an actual Buffyverse discography exists, including the movie soundtrack, the original songs written for "Once More, With Feeling", a compilation entitled "Radio Sunnydale", The Velvet Chain's The Buffy EP, and Live Fast, Die Never, an Angel soundtrack compilation. Groovy!)

And, at last, the boot-tappin' tunes of Firefly. Ah, was there ever a zanier television series? Space cowboys! What's more fun than zipping around outer space in duds straight out of Bonanza? The sadly shortlived show's theme, "The Ballad of Serenity", was composed by Joss himself, and performed by Sonny Rhodes. The soundtrack itself is a sometimes-bizarro blend of campfire fiddling and Asian white noise, reflecting the retro-futuristic nature of the show.

And there you have it: the secret to Joss Whedon's success. Good music, duh.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A lump in the throat

I'm not so huge on most of Robert Frost's poetry (though I acknowledge that his poems are not the easy, simple ye-olde-Americana-scratch-the-surface-and-get-more-surface rhymes that some people seem to think), but I am getting to like his literary criticism. "The Figure A Poem Makes", his most-oft anthologized essay, is lovely and lyric enough so that you can tell a poet wrote it, yet it remains clear, succint, and definite.

I kinda love it.

Admittedly I enjoy reading literary criticism, period. I love Orwell's essays in particular (possibly even more than his novels), and Martin Kellman's T.H. White and the Matter of Britain is brill, but Frost's essay on the nature of poetry left me a little dizzy. I actually read it three times in a row, and I never read anything for American Lit classes more than once. (Not even "The Waste Land". Ick.) Frost manages to articulate ideas and give structure to thoughts of mine that have only ever been ethereal; while reading his essay I felt that essential recognition, the likes of which I have only previously experienced while reading White.

Anyway I'm about to quote, and with relish.

"If it is a wild tune, it is a poem...to be wild with nothing to be wild about."(The joy found in the everyday--the telling of the mundane in a way which is anything but.)

"For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew."

"Scholars get their [knowledge] with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields."

"Read [a poem] a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went." (The pleasant shock of discovering something in pages read over and over.)

Longwinded, yet deserving, I think. Frost's words can be applied not only to poems in their technical sense, but any writing with the smoothly lyrical, off-kilter and frightening, or purely lovely qualities of poetry. Even prose, at its highest, is a form of poetry and contains the joys of remembering things we didn't know we knew, of recognition, of sparkling newness.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Amalgam universe

At long last, Tampa has deemed Pan's Labyrinth worthy of its screenspace. Only about a month late, but as they say, better late than never. A towering fantasy of a film, Guillermo del Toro's newest is great. Those expecting a pure fantasy will probably be a bit disappointed, but for my part, I was enthralled. The balance of fairy stories and history seemed just right, and for someone a little obsessed with the Spanish Civil War, the historical backdrop to fantasy was welcome. The two plotlines feed off one another and come across as natural, while there is evidence aplenty to support either the idea that everything is in Ofelia's head OR that the fantastic elements actually occur. Del Toro has done an astounding job keeping the ending (and indeed, entire movie) beautifully ambiguous.

At the risk of sounding overwrought, I don't recall the last time I was so absorbed into a movie. Go see it, right now.

In other news, two adaptations I'm excited about, and one I'm excited about on behalf of most of my friends:

a) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. ZOMG one of my favorite fantasy series OF ALL TIME. Committed to...okay, television. HBO is turning Martin's as-yet unfinished masterpiece into a seven-season miniseries. Why oh why do I not have cable?

b) Atonement by Ian McEwan. Considered by many to be his greatest achievement, the upcoming film stars Keira Knightley as Cecilia. I would have chosen her for Briony, but that's just me. In any case, it's an Ian McEwan novel, on film. YAY!

c) Metal Gear Solid. No link because there's nothing to see, yet, but...dang, another videogame film. At least Uwe Boll isn't directing this one. I vote Eric Bana for Snake please!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...