Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21

Arnold Schoenberg (composer)

Tracks: 1—Mondestrunken; 2—Columbine; 3—Der Dandy; 4—Eine Blasse Wäscherin; 5—Valse de Chopin; 6—Madonna; 7—Der Tranke Mond; 8—Nacht; 9—Gebtet an Pierrot; 10—Raub; 11—Rote Messe; 12—Galgenleid; 13—Enthauptung; 14—Die Kruze; 15—Heimweh; 16—Gemeinehiet; 17—Parodie; 18—Der Mondfleck; 19—Serenade; 20—Heimfahrt; 21—O Alter Duft.

Tags: Atonal, Unlistenable

Composed: October 16, 1912

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Arnold Schoenberg selected and set to music 21 of the 50 poems in the lyric cycle of the same name, written and published in 1884 by Belgian poet Albert Giraud. The work comes from Schoenberg’s “atonal” period and features a vocal part accompanied by a five-person ensemble — flute (doubling on piccolo), clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The work is generally hailed as a masterwork of musical expressionism; Schoenberg stated that the greatest goal of the artist is “to express himself.” In the cycles, Pierrot — the archetypical white-faced clown known as “Punchinello” in Italian and “Punch” in English — is represented (in some fashion) by a seven-note motive most easily heard at the very beginning of the first selection, “Moondrunk.” The work is effectively subdivided into three seven-poem segments. In the first, Pierrot sings of love, sex, and religion; in the second, of violence, crime, and blasphemy; and in the third, of his return home, haunted by his past.

None of this explanation saves this work from sounding like crap. Continue reading “Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21”

Prometheus

(2012, R) Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw), Michael Fassbender (David), Charlize Theron (Meredith Vickers), Idris Elba (Janek), Guy Pearce (Peter Weyland), Logan Marshall-Green (Charlie Holloway), Sean Harris (Fifield), Rafe Spall (Milburn), Emun Elliott (Chance). Music: Mark Streuitenfeld. Screenplay: Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Director: Ridley Scott. 123 minutes.

Tags: Sci-Fi, Prequel, Big-Budget Waste

Notable: Someone spent a small country’s GNP to make this horrifyingly bad pile of poo

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Adapted from the Wikipedia description: In the late 21st century, the crew of the spaceship Prometheus follows a star map discovered among the artifacts of several ancient Earth cultures. Seeking the origins of humanity, the crew arrives on a distant world and discovers a threat that could cause the extinction of the human species. Continue reading “Prometheus”

The Lighthouse

By P. D. James
ISBN 0-7393-2558-2
(Large Print edition)

Publication Year: 2005

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Procedural

Rating: ★★★★☆

This thirteenth in the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series find the poet-detective on Combe Island, an isolated and exclusive place of rest and respite limited to certain governmental VIPs and those whose island trust have deemed to have rights of residence (occasional or permanent) due to their ancestral relationship to the island. When the somewhat infamous writer Nathan Oliver tries to throw about his self-perceived weight with islanders and guests alike, he becomes quite soundly disliked by one and all. Then, when he is found hanging by the neck from the gallery railing of the island’s famous lighthouse, the age-old question rears its head: Suicide or murder? Continue reading “The Lighthouse”

The Horror at 37,000 Feet

(1973, not rated) Chuck Connors (Cpt. Ernie Slade), Buddy Ebsen (Glen Farley), Tammy Grimes (Mrs. Pinder), Lyn Loring (Manya), Jane Merrow (Sheila O’Neill), France Nuyen (Annalique), William Shatner (Paul Kovalik), Roy Thinnes (Alan O’Neill), Paul Winfield (Dr. Enkala), Russell Johnson (Jim Hawley, flight engineer), Will Hutchins (Steve Holcomb), Darleen Carr (Margot), Brende Benet (Sally), H. M. Wynant (Frank Driscoll, co-pilot). Music: Morton Stevens. Screenplay: Ron Austin & James Bucchanan (story by V. X. Appleton). Director: David Lowell Rich. 76 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Made-For-TV, Druids

Notable: Music by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and  Hawaii Five-O’s Morton Stevens

Rating: ★★★★☆

A chartered 747 jet departs Heathrow airport bearing ten passengers, a crew of five, and 11,000 pounds of “architectural features” — part of an English abbey being transported back to the U.S. Small mysteries grow larger as the plane appears to be facing a 600mph headwind, stuck in mid-air as if held there, and the passengers and crew are struck by invisible tormentors. It is the night of the summer solstice, the altar stone of the abbey was once part of a site where Drudic ritual sacrifices were held… and the ancient spirits are demanding their due. Continue reading “The Horror at 37,000 Feet”

Leave Myself Behind

By Bart Yates
ISBN 0-758-203497

Publication Year: 2004

Tags: Gay, Coming-of-Age

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

From the Goodreads synopsis: Noah York is a closeted gay teenager with a foul mouth, a critical disposition, and plenty of material for his tirades. After his father dies, Noah’s mother, a temperamental poet, takes a teaching job in a small New Hampshire town, far from Chicago and the only world Noah has known. While Noah gets along reasonably with his mother, the crumbling house they try to renovate quickly reveals dark secrets, via dusty Mason jars they discover interred between walls. The jars contain scraps of letters, poems, and journal entries, and eventually reconstructs a history of pain and violence that drives a sudden wedge between Noah and his mother. Fortunately, Noah finds an unexpected ally in J.D., a teenager down the street who has family troubles of his own. Continue reading “Leave Myself Behind”

Words Require Labels

When you look up a word in a dictionary, you may see a qualification for that word, such as “slang”, “vulgar”, “archaic”, “colloquial”, and so forth. These labels are meant as a guide to proper usage; if what you wish to express requires a certain crudity (or even downright obscenity), then perhaps you’ll use that word, choosing it precisely because it is considered to be crude, obscene, vulgar. Webster’s Third International Dictionary, Unabridged made an attempt to eliminate these labels, because they felt that the labels were considered judgmental rather than descriptive. In so doing, Webster’s attempted to make all words free from judgment, in which case “The F Word” would no longer have any purpose in the English-speaking world. In order to save the sacred F-bomb, let’s talk about it for a bit. Continue reading “Words Require Labels”

True North

Various Artists

Tracks: 1 — True North (Paul Speer); 2 — Flightpath (Jonn Serrie); 3 — Third Stone from the Sun (Speer); 4 — Stolen Fire (Serrie); 5 — Touchwood (Tangerine Dream); 6 — Whispers of Light (James Reynolds); 7 — Adagio Dolente (Speer); 8 — Tingri (Serrie); 9 — One More River Passing (Reynolds); 10 — True North/Reprise (Speer)

Tags: Compilation, New Age, Light Rock

Release Date: Listed as January 24, 1995 (see text for more)

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Compilation, theme, and concept albums have a hit-or-miss feel to them, generally. Theme discs like those of Chip Davis’ Day Parts series (e.g., Sunday Morning Coffee) are usually quite good. This particular album is rather like a tire that’s been badly retreaded — not necessarily dangerous, but perhaps not really worth risking taking a ride on. Continue reading “True North”

Naked Lunch

(1991, R) Peter Weller (Bill Lee), Judy Davis (Joan Frost/Joan Lee), Ian Holm (Tom Frost), Julian Sands (Yves Cloquet), Monique Mercure (Fedela), Nicholas Campbell (Hank), Michael Zelnicker (Martin), Robert A. Silverman (Hans), Joseph Scorsiani (Kiki), Roy Scheider (Dr. Benway). Music: Howard Shore. Screenplay: David Cronenberg (based on the book by William S. Burroughs). Director: David Cronenberg. 115 minutes.

Tags: Surreal, BeatGen

Notable: Post-Robocop Weller proves an acting ability that pop-critics didn’t think he had; Cronenberg accomplishing writing/filming the most “unfilmable” novel of all time.

Rating: ★★★★★

Part-time bug exterminator and full-time drug addict Bill Lee finds himself seduced into the nightmarish world of Interzone, a place that may not be a place at all, populated by sinister cabals, people who may not be people, and giant talking bugs who seek reports of whatever happenings Bill can find his way into… if, of course, he can find his way back out of them again. Continue reading “Naked Lunch”

Out of Position

By Kyell Gold
(Cover and interior art by Blotch)
ISBN not available

Publication Year: 2009

Tags: Furry, Gay, Love Story

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

From the Amazon page for this eBook: Dev is a football player at Forester University, a small liberal arts college where he and his teammates get to strut around and have their pick of the girls on Friday nights. That’s as good as it gets — until he meets Lee, a fox with a quick wit and an attractive body. Problem is, Lee’s not a girl. He’s a gay fox, an activist who never dreamed he’d fall for a football player. As their attraction deepens into romance, it’s hard enough for them to handle each other, let alone their inquisitive friends, family, and co-workers. And if school is bad, the hyper-masculine world of professional sports that awaits Dev after graduation will be a hundred times worse. Going it alone would make everything easier. If only they could stop fighting long enough to break up. Continue reading “Out of Position”

Who?

(1974, Rated PG) Elliott Gould (Sean Rogers), Trevor Howard (Col. Azarin), Joseph Bova (Dr. Lucas Martino), Edward Grover (Finchley), John Lehne (Haller), James Noble (Gen. Deptford), Lyndon Brook (Dr. Barrister), Michael Lombard (Dr. Besser), Kay Tornborg (Edith), Joy Garrett (Barbara), John Steward (Frank Heywood). Screenplay: John Gould (based on the novel by Algys Budrys). Director: Jack Gold. 93 minutes.

Tags: Psychological Thriller, Cold War, Existential

Notable: Also released as Roboman and The Man in the Steel Mask. Various sources list the film’s release date as 1973, 1974, and 1975; the film’s opening credits show MXMLXXIV — 1974.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

An important American scientist is burned nearly to death in an automobile accident inside the borders of the Soviet Union. He is returned after six months, only his right arm and his brain still intact; the rest of him is a silvery, robotic imitation of a human being. The FBI agent assigned to bring him back to his work on the top-secret Neptune project is not satisfied with the artificial man’s identity. The arm is real; the fingerprints and DNA identity are real. What about the brain — is it the scientist, and even if so, has he been brainwashed into being a Soviet agent? Who is he… really? Continue reading “Who?”