More unclassifiables

A neat piece featuring Logic’s UltraBeat, the EVP88 electric piano, the EVB3 organ, a few new synths, and a voice from Apple’s Voices add-on.
Uses? No idea.
Holy-super-chilled-out piece featuring a Fender fretted bass. Is this jazz? It doesn’t feel like it.

I’m Back

After an extended trip out to NYC, I picked up a few ideas (to say the least) – so here’s one of the first, a very warm trance-inducing piece.
I was considering doing an entire collection of pieces like this – as it was quite fun to make.
Also, I have no idea what that bowed stringed instrument is called – so, if you do – please let me know.

The Mist

More properly Stephen King’s The Mist, of course, but I’m in denial about having seen yet another horror flick. I don’t know where I find the courage. But I survived this one a lot better than The Others, at least. It’s scary the way zombie movies are scary, and I can usually deal with those a lot better than ghost movies for some reason. I don’t know why, they’re both about dead people.
Anyway, this movie uses tentacles, but it’s still about impossible things grabbing unsuspecting victims and trying to eat them. Now, I don’t freak out at just tentacles, and I don’t mind spiders — anything up to eight legs is okay. But several of these tentacled thingies also have about a zillion legs, and that’s just too much like millipedes for me. Gah.
I don’t know how much like the story the film is, but I imagine the basics are the same: After a terrible storm hits a small New England town, leaving a thick, mysterious mist in its wake, the residents go to the local Food Shop to stock up. Of course, the time to stock up is before the storm, but better late than never. Our hero, David Drayton (Thomas Jane, who played the Punisher in the 2004 movie of the same name, but don’t hold that against him) is in the store with his son Billy when a bit player runs in screaming that there’s something terrible in the mist and no one should leave.
The obligatory extra disbelieves everything and runs out to his car, and the last we hear of him is his dying scream. Then things just get worse. As one character points out, as soon as you get more than two people in a room, they start choosing sides. When you have several dozen people stuck in one store, add in a freakish mist and a couple of strange deaths, you know you’re going to have serious problems, even aside from the Bible-thumping maniac Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) running around winding everyone up.
Now she does a good job with the part, because she’s a good actress, but in the end, many of the characters end up being stereotypes. Aside from Mother Carmody and her “Sinner Repent” routine, there’s the dryly sarcastic but good-hearted motorcycle guy; David’s neighbor and champion of Logical Thinking (Andre Braugher, General Hager from Rise of the Silver Surfer); and of course the redneck mechanic who hates anyone he didn’t grow up with.

The cast gaping at a giant praying mantis thing.

But on the other hand, some stereotypes get shaken up in neat ways. The little old lady schoolteacher Irene, played by Frances Sternhagen, gets to save the day (or at least one scene) with a lighter and a can of bug spray. The meek, bespectacled assistant manager at the Food Shop (Toby Jones, in a far cry from his role as the dissolute Duke of Clarence in Amazing Grace) turns out to be a crack shot. So it isn’t all bad news there.
Still, it wasn’t actually a good movie, either. The tension is good — the scariest moments aren’t the times when you jump, it’s the quieter times, when the mist is all you see and you can only hear the strange, distant sounds of the monsters. But overall, you have to ignore way too many plot holes. We don’t know, for instance, why the tentacled beasts are apparently too polite at first to do anything but knock at the door, basically, but of course that’s only because it’s more dramatic that way. The actors do a good job of pulling you in to the story, but everyone is either Good or Evil, basically, and people just aren’t like that.
So two and a half idols, because it wasn’t terrible, either. The ending, though… again, I don’t know how true it is to the book, but it’s bad, in a couple of senses of the word. Imagine the most horrible, gut-wrenching ending you can think of, short of the entire human race being killed. Now make it just a touch worse, and there you have it. It’s bad in another way, though, in that you see it coming a mile away and it ends up losing its impact because of that. But fans can look for a lot of cutsey little references to King’s other work — personally, I thought it was all a bit much, even though I probably missed a lot of them, but it’s good material for an impromptu trivia game with friends, I guess. Sadly, you might want the distraction.

Redoing Other People’s Music

Last night, I went to see Saltimbanco from Cirque du Soleil. While the acts were fine, the music was very dated, and often not appropriate to the performances. For me – it detracted from the show quite a bit (though I will say most people enjoyed it, as it got a standing ovation).
This music replaces the music in the hand balancing act. Power, precision, and grace, yeah? Not exactly Sunday jazz in the park. [original after the jump]
What can one person do about this? Answer? iPod. I rescored one act last night for a couple of friends of mine who were going to see it today.
So take your iPod along, and hit ‘play’ when the people in white tophats rush downstage.
Hand Balance Redux. The timing might get off near the end… as I obviously can’t play this live for you.
If this goes over well, I might rescore the whole show, so let me know what you think!

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You Tube?

Ok… I knew I was on YouTube in a few things. But randomly today, I found out just how many. I picked out three things… completely unrelated, and found my music in all three. (unattributed. seriously people, how much am I asking for here?)
So I went to look at the Recently Featured. I am in number 4, 5, and 7 of the top ten.
This is crazy. I should be getting more jobs.
Dear everyone;
Hire me for your independent film score.
Thank you.
- Kevin MacLeod

Someone need to sing-along?

I’m just finishing up a pile of sing-along Christmas pieces for a stage production. Being seasonal, I decided to get them out as soon as possible.
Super-peppy sing-alongs! Right now, they are the first four pieces on this page. “Up on a Housetop”, “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Halls”, and “Oh, Christmas Tree”.
Cheers, everyone!

American Gangster

Denzel does it again. Seriously. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one — I’m not really a Russell Crowe fan, for one thing, gangster movies aren’t really all that interesting to me in general, and it’s two hours and 37 minutes long besides. But it didn’t feel nearly that long (well, except for my backside getting sore), it isn’t quite a traditional gangster movie, and while I still don’t think Russell Crowe’s anyone I’d want to meet, he turns in a good acting job.
He’d have to be good to compare with Denzel, of course, though on the other hand, they don’t have many scenes together. For most of the film, you’re watching two movies. Denzel is Frank Lucas, a North Carolina boy who ended up in New York as driver and bodyguard to a Harlem crime boss. When the boss dies, every hood around tries to step into his shoes — but it’s Frank who succeeds. He learns a lesson from the big discount chain stores (which I think were probably pretty new in 1968, when the movie starts), and cuts out the middleman.
He travels to Bangkok, finds the guy who runs the poppy fields where the heroin comes from, and cuts a deal with him directly. Now Frank can afford to sell nearly pure heroin, and undercut all the other dealers. The other dealers don’t like this, of course, but after Frank shoots one of them in the head in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk, they don’t complain very much. That’s the really weird thing about this movie — Denzel’s kind of… evil. I mean, the first scene shows him setting a man on fire. He smacks his own brother’s head into a car window repeatedly. He’s a hateful, bad-tempered man. But somehow you don’t mind as much as you should.

One of the few times Denzel and Russell actually share the screen, so look closely.

In the other movie, Russell Crowe is cop-turning-lawyer Richie Roberts. It seems he’s one of about eight non-crooked cops in New Jersey. While following a bookie, he and his partner discover a huge pile of cash — $987,000, to be exact. But his partner doesn’t want to turn it in, because then all the other cops, who apparently routinely keep whatever money they find on the job, won’t trust them anymore. Richie turns it in anyway, and sure enough, the next time he calls in for backup in the Projects, there are mysteriously no units in the vicinity. I mean, really — if there aren’t cops there, what in the world are they all doing? I hope police forces have changed a lot since the sixties. Even the state district attorney uses some nasty racial slurs.
Anyway, because there are only eight honest cops, they all get put into the same unit — a new federally organized anti-drug task force. They don’t bother with street pushers or small amounts of drugs; they only want the suppliers and big bosses. So from that point, you know Russell and Denzel are fated to collide, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch it happening.
The rest of the cast is great. There’s Ruby Dee (“The Stand”) as Mamma Lucas; Josh Brolin doing a frighteningly good job as the King of the Crooked Cops; and my old friend Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later, The Reaping) in an unfortunately small part. I suspect some of his lines hit the cutting room floor, and probably the same is true of poor Cuba Gooding, Jr., who gets one substantial scene where he whines and complains, and spends the rest of the film appearing in the background now and then. It’s a fun scene, though — Frank compares his brand of heroin, Blue Magic, to Pepsi and General Mills in terms of brand recognition. I wonder if companies actually pay for that kind of product placement…?
The point is, it’s a good film. Four and a quarter idols of good, in fact. I’m still thinking about the last scene, which manages to make a huge impact without even any dialogue. It does that in a few places, actually, and I think those are the scenes that are going to stick the most, for better or worse. Most of those scenes aren’t for the squeamish, unsurprisingly, but they’re really powerful. And in spite of his almost offhand cruelty, you never quite give up on Frank, which might easily have happened with any other actor. At least he’s nice to his mother… though personally, I’d be afraid not to be nice to Ruby Dee.