Political Weasel

My friend Ivan found this one for me.
Nancy Pelosi used my track “scheming weasel” in a production of “Capitol Cat Cam”, which is actually a leader to a rickroll.
I realize that piece is now a parody of itself, but seriously, Pelosi – how about a credit?

On the plus side, the video with my music in it is the most viewed video that Pelosi posted by a long shot. So, points to me for that one!

Email Issues?

For some reason, I’ve not been getting all of my emails for the last month or so – the bad part is I just learned about it today.
If you’ve sent me email and have not gotten a response on something, feel free to call me at 920.680.1125.
If the email was from the last 2 days, I probably have it, and will reply sometime later today.

The International

That’s the International Bank of Business and Credit, or the IBBC, an entirely fictional financial institution, I’m sure. It could also be called the International Big Bad Corporation, because they really are Bad with a capital B. But don’t worry! Clive Owen is on the case… though really, he doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
Clive is Louis Salinger, ex-Scotland Yard detective, who’s an ex-detective because of his obsession with bringing down this bank. The rest of the world seems to think the IBBC is no better or worse than any other huge bank, which might be bad enough, but still nothing out of the ordinary. But Lou Knows Better, and even though he works for Interpol instead now, he’s still on the same old quest, with his boss’ reluctant cooperation.
Helping him is Naomi Watts as New York ADA Eleanor Whitman. I’m not sure how she got involved in all this, exactly, but she is, and she has the important responsibility of keeping Lou from entirely wrecking the case before they even have one. This is more than a full-time job, and she doesn’t entirely succeed at it, but she does her level best. She does at least look presentable and respectable, unlike Lou, who usually looks as though he’s slept in the same clothes for two night straight and has forgotten what a razor is.
The bad guys, by contrast, always look perfect. Tailored suits, immaculate hair, nice cars, offices and homes that look like architectural and/or historical landmarks — that’s the best way to tell who’s who for a lot of the movie. If someone’s office looks like it could be featured in a magazine spread, with perfect natural lighting and large, shiny desks that look like not a speck of work has ever been done on them, that someone is a bad guy. If someone’s office is a largely windowless box, piled with so many papers and file folders that you could lose a large dog in there, that someone is a good guy. I wonder if that works in real life, too? That may be worth testing.
Where was I? Oh, yes, the movie does have a certain realism about it that isn’t quite usual in these sorts of flicks. Lou never turns into a Bourne-style super-spy, and there aren’t really any unlikely stunts or wild maneuvers that seem like they should never work even with a couple of weeks of planning, never mind on the spur of the moment while being shot at. There’s some good police investigating, a lot of legwork, and a little luck involved in tracking these white-collar evildoers; and the evil is actually very quiet and controlled as well, which is the best (or maybe the worst) kind of evil to have. It’s certainly harder to stop than the flashy let’s blow things up kind of evil.
Lou seems to subsist on black coffee and ice baths in lieu of sleep, in a perpetual state of jet lag as he travels Europe and New York, tracking the clues. The IBBC has a pet assassin (sorry, consultant), it turns out, a guy who looks sort of like the Hollywood version of an accountant, and Lou is convinced this is the link he needs, the one person he can turn who can really tell all about the bank’s plans. It’s a good plan, but of course the first thing that needs to be done is to catch him, and he’s very good at avoiding that sort of thing, unsurprisingly. He only looks faintly helpless.

international.jpg
Whatever they call the place, how could you not want to run around on those roofs?

The chase is gorgeous, though. The action races through Milan, Lyon, Luxembourg, and best of all Istanbul (not Constantinople), which is now on my list of places I really want to visit. You may have seen the preview where Lou confronts Bad Guy Jonas Skarssen (Ulrich Thomsen) up on what looks like a sidewalk running across the tops of lots of red-tiled roofs, and apparently that’s real, a sort of skywalk that must be wonderful to use. Anyway, you may recognize Thomsen as another bad guy, Davidov, from the Bond flick The World is Not Enough, but if you get the chance, watch him as the title character in Adam’s Apples, a Danish indy film that will make you laugh in spite of yourself.
There’s more realism in the fact that the movie just sort of… stops. You’re waiting for a further sting, something to tie everything up, and you sort of get it as the credits start to roll, but it’s hardly the big-bang ending you might expect. Still, I didn’t feel cheated or anything, which could easily have happened, and that’s much more how things would happen out in the world. Realism is kind of the new black, these days.
Three and three-quarter idols for this one. One-half is just for Clive Owen, who could make reading a menu aloud sound fascinating; and one-quarter is because someone managed to keep things from getting too predictably Hollywood, which would have annoyed me no end. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent, especially Armin Mueller-Stahl as Wilhelm Wexler, father figure to the IBBC; and Felix Solis and Jack McGee as two NYPD detectives also on the trail. And a special shout out goes to the Guggenheim Museum, otherwise known as the white spirally building which is very cool to look at but wastes an incredible amount of space, for being shot up in such spectacular ways.

Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre from Saint Saens. Opus 40.
Here’s some awful facts about this recording…
Originally written in 1874.
52 page score.
478 measures long.
13 sections. (spooky)
13,950 notes were entered for this piece*.
48 virtual instruments were used.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 hours to assemble this over the course of 9 days.
I think this is the last crazy project like this I’ll be doing for a while.
Let me know if you like it… I could seriously use some encouragement after that beast.
(and yes, I know exactly all of the places that don’t sound quite right, thanks. :-)
* There are fewer than 13,000 notes in the printed score, but you end up with more because of tremolos, trills, and part doubling.

Tears of Joyent!

Holy man. Incompetech has a new server – and it is good. Like, very very good.
I actually have a hard time believing it is so good.
The thing is lightning fast, has well enough bandwidth, and runs the awesome Solaris.
I’m almost crying it is so nice. Thank you Joyent!
For having the first web hosting service that just Worked, and doesn’t seem to have any capacity issues, I’m going to recommend these guys 98%* for all of your highish-end web hosting needs.
Joyent.com
* check back in a month for the other 2%.

Taken

This should more properly be called Kidnapped, and not be confused with the funky Stephen King miniseries of the same name. It’s a simple title for a simple story: a girl is grabbed and Dad doesn’t like it, basically; but it’s also a good example of what can be done with a good but unremarkable script if you give it a bunch of really good actors.
Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, who used to do something mysterious for the government. They mention Langley, so I’m guessing he was CIA, but he calls himself a Preventer. No, I’m not sure what that means either, but the details of it aren’t important. He used to travel all over the world Preventing Bad Things, which of course meant that he had little time left over to spend with his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, who barely has enough scenes to get warmed up) and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace — she was on Lost, but don’t ask me if she was on the plane that crashed or not). Now, though, he’s retired and living near his ex-wife and child, trying to work his way back into Kim’s life.
Kim gets the chance to visit Paris, and like pretty much any 17-year-old, leaps at the opportunity. But of course her father, who has seen nothing but the dregs of society most of his life, objects strenuously. The audience knows he’s right to object, but we also know that he’s going to give in, because he can’t say no to his little girl. Classic divorced parent syndrome.
Anyway, this is where the movie lives up to its title — Kim and her friend are grabbed and hauled out of the apartment they’re staying in (which is huge and way too cool for any teenagers to be allowed to stay in alone). But Kim was on the phone with her father at the time, and that’s when you get the bit you’ve probably seen in the previews, where Liam Neeson explains to his daughter’s kidnappers exactly how he’s going to hunt them down if they don’t let her go. That’s a good part. That’s where you see Liam flex his acting muscles.

Taken.jpg
Hint: No one who gets in Liam’s way should feel lucky.

Apparently being a preventer requires knowing a fair amount about an awful lot of things. He does basic forensic analysis, tracking, wild driving, and of course lots of fighting and shooting. LOTS of those. I heard a reviewer compare him to Jason Bourne, but that’s wrong, even aside from my own personal conviction that no one will ever play a better super spy/assassin than Matt Damon. It’s wrong because he’s a lot meaner than Jason Bourne. I understand the whole vengeful, desperate father thing, of course, but when he shoots an innocent bystander for no real reason (though to be fair, he does only shoot to wound), I kind of didn’t like him for a little while.
It turns into a pretty typical action movie after the big threat scene — not great, but again, when you’ve got a cast and crew who know what they’re doing, that’s okay. Liam has an unfortunate knack for getting his next lead killed before they can give up any information, so he’s often more like Bond than Bourne, stumbling into the bad guys’ strongholds and trusting to some combination of skill, luck, and the righteousness of his cause to get him through. And there’s a car chase through a construction site, which is either the largest construction site in the world, or involved an awful lot of going round and round in circles.
But aside from these nitpicks, it’s a good, solid, three-idol movie. Poor Famke really is wasted as the worried mother, because this is a one-man show. You don’t need to know anything except that Liam’s mad, and you shouldn’t get in his way. Just sit back with the popcorn, let the stunts wash all over you, and enjoy.