Saturday, October 30, 2004

songs to hate, part 23

As a musician, I have catholic tastes. I enjoy every style of music: Broadway, Baroque chamber music, Indian Ragas, giant orchestral classics, opera, hip-hop, mid-century pop, folk, jazz, barbershop, marches, punk, reggae, whatever ya got. There are very few songs that I actually hate or would never perform.

"Wind Beneath My Wings" is one of them. It should be taken out back and shot.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

a fascinating powerpoint slide

Just looking through my pile of shtuff here, and noticed this thing I took from a church meeting I went to a few months back. These meetings are actually very productive and spiritually there, but sometimes the suits get hold of them, and you wind up with powerpoint slides like the following, copied verbatim:

-'Facility Programming Overview'

-'Minimum Program Requirements for Building Finish-Out'

·Form "Implementation Team"
-Leadership of Program Study Team
-Reps from Bldg/Finance/Personnel/Legal etc

Diagram that: 21 nouns, 1 gerund, 2 articles, and 2 prepositions.

And one etc.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

naming a comic device

OK. We've got to think of a name for this. I'm thinking of a certain type of joke that happens on sitcoms. It began cropping up in the 80s, maybe first in "Family Ties." What happens is this: one character refers to some funny event in the other character's past, or their collective past, that is outside the viewer's direct knowledge. The other character then attempts to defend himself, but in the process actually confirms the funny or embarrassing thing.

Niles: Oh, come on, Frasier, you were always a ham. Even in our grade-school version of Oklahoma you took so many curtain-calls Mrs Norris had to finally pull you offstage with a hoe.

Frasier: Mrs Norris! She never understood me *or* the part of Farmer Number Three!

Is there currently a name for this type of joke? If not, we desperately need one.

Naming things can be so good. For instance, to take another comic device, in Friends (a show that used the above kind of gag a lot, though to less cheap effect than most) there was another pattern that Catherine and I began calling Revelation Escalation, in which the characters in turn reveal more and more embarrassing things about each other to an innocent third person. They always timed it masterfully and picked good things to say, so once again it felt natural rather than cheap.

Which leads us to wonder exactly what it is about certain sitcoms (Friends, Frasier) that make them feel so natural and make the jokes so organic whereas others (all others) feel so shrill and convulsive? One had a fleeting hope that Joey would be a cut above, but no: characters again and again say things that smell like a setup a mile away. How hard can it be?

Anyway. Hm. What to call that gag? Or is there already a name for it in the biz? If nothing else, merely naming it could help it to stop. Think about what the term "political correctness" did to curb all that earnest silliness in public life in the early nineties.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

body rhythms

I'm back in town after a week at Baylor U, doing my bi-yearly stage show there. That week was the longest time so far that Catherine and I have spent apart. I immediately reverted to my usual sleep schedule: bed at 3-4, wake at 12-1. That's something I've sort of given up since we got married, but it felt so normal and natural to be doing it again.

And why so natural? Simply because that's what my body trained itself to do for the 14 years of my postcollege life. Catherine really needs lots of sleep, and she really wants me to come to bed with her — something that doesn't happen with composers, most of whom have different schedules from their spouses' — so I've been getting very very little done careerwise in the months we've been married. Just this week, though, I've decided that the only way out of this is to do that training again. My body shifted to the nocturnal schedule, and it can shift back, theoretically.

We'll see if I can get anything done this way. But the question remains: how to still be brilliant at midnight when it's called for?