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October 17, 2008:

PLAYING THE KAZOO

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, yesterday I thought I was on the Road To Wellville, but my cough got worse during the day, my body had some aches, and I was hoping everything was still just breaking up and cleaning itself out. I also had a little trouble taking deep breaths without going into fits of coughing. Very unpleasant. I didn’t feel terrible, mind you, but I certainly wasn’t as much on the mend as I thought. This little bug is bugging me, frankly. I’m bored of it, I’m bored of talking about it and I shall stop talking about it right this very minute. After all, I do have other things I can talk about, like my favorite songs as played on the kazoo (oozak, spelled backwards). That’s a great topic. Or I could talk about the care and feeding of a gnu. If you don’t know what a gnu is, simply ask the question, what’s gnu? Speaking of gnu, yesterday was a day in which I didn’t do much. Oh, I got up, I did the long jog (very difficult the last few days), then did a few errands and whatnot. I got some ribs from Gelson’s, but they were sort of gross, so I ate some of the meat on them but not all of the meat on them. I got a package of DVDs from the UK from a company called Optimum Releasing. A few weeks ago I’d gotten their newly released version of Far From The Madding Crowd. The first time they released it, despite the correct ratio being listed on the box, it was incorrectly presented on the DVD – instead of its 2.35:1 scope ratio, it was cropped to 1.78:1 rendering it’s beautiful Nick Roeg photography incomprehensible. The newly-released disc had the correct aspect ratio on the box, but they did it wrong again. It boggled my mind, and I wrote them a rather strong letter about it. Apparently no one else had called it to their attention. I simply asked if anyone actually watched when they did their transfers. They apologized and offered to send me some free DVDs as a show of appreciation. Those DVDs arrived – a Jean Renoir box with about eight films, and an Agatha Christie box with Murder On The Orient Express, Death On The Nile, The Mirror Crack’d, and Evil Under The Sun, all of which I own on region one DVDs, but I’m curious as all get out to see if the transfers are improvements. All get out is pretty curious, too, if you must know. I then decided I needed to sit on my couch like so much fish and relax, if I was to attempt going to last night’s event.

Yesterday, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled Far From The Madding Crowd. Yes, Virginia, in my box of goodies from Optimum was a check disc of a newly redone transfer – happily, this time they got it right. I hadn’t seen the film in a very long time. I saw it the night it opened, at the Wilshire Theater, where it played a roadshow engagement in 70mm – a blowup, since the film was shot in scope. I really liked it back then and saw it three or four times during its run. It’s a staggeringly beautiful film to look at, thanks to the photography of Nicholas Roeg. The film is wonderfully directed by John Schlesinger, and the performances are top-notch from Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, and Terence Stamp, plus a large company of terrific Brit character actors. The screenplay is a reasonably good adaptation of the Hardy novel by Fredric Raphael, who would go on to write the screenplay for Two For The Road. Aiding the film immeasurably is the score by Richard Rodney Bennett – I had the soundtrack LP and played it incessantly, and when I got the CD I played THAT incessantly. It’s quite stunning music. I can’t say the transfer is the sharpest thing I’ve ever seen, but the colors are pretty accurate – the big question will be whether Warners region one DVD will be sharper and better, but given Warners wretched track record with color, I’m expecting a brown mess, unless they use the exact same transfer and don’t turn up the brown and down the green/blue. It’s a long film, and a little dramatically inert at times, but I quite enjoyed it after all these years.

After watching the film, I showered and toddled off to the event, which was a fundraiser for POZ, an AIDS-related charity. The event took place at a little club in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. I arrived about six-forty and was promptly ushered onto the celebrity red carpet to have my photograph taken. Since I don’t consider myself much of a celebrity, it surprised me. I then entered the club and was immediately approached by a woman who asked me to sign the DVD cover of The Faculty – that was a first, and I happily obliged her. I then was taken back outside to do an interview for some website. I had so little voice, but I did the best I could. I ran into a couple of people I knew, and the jernt was loaded with very pretty boys and some very pretty girls, several of whom were soap opera people. Patrika Darbo, who played Kevin Spirtas’s wife on Days Of Our Lives, introduced me to a bunch of people and kept her eye on me, which was very sweet of her. I picked a place to stand and stood there nursing a Diet Coke for about ninety minutes. I would have chatted with the pretty boys and pretty girls but I had too little voice, and too much exertion was making me cough. I just didn’t feel very well, so I finally bailed, said goodbye to Patrika and the host, Giovanni (who’s producing the Bacharach event in New York), and I drove home. There was horrible traffic on Sunset for absolutely no reason other than people drive like morons. Because the police have NEVER enforced the no cell phone law, people are just blatantly yapping away with no thought to where they’re going or how slow or stupidly they’re driving. Once I passed La Cienega, there was no more traffic – all that traffic just disappeared into an abyss, I guess. But even Laurel Canyon was crowded, which I found odd at eight-fifteen on a Thursday night.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I must shortly take Mucinex and Alavert and hit Ye Olde Hay, which is also a song I play very well on the kazoo.

Today, I must not dawdle, Amaryllis – I must get up early, I must do the long jog (unless I’m so sore that it’s just impossible), then I must meet Miss Susan Egan at Hugo’s for a noon breakfast. After said breakfast, I must hie myself back to the City of Studio, where at least three packages will be waiting for me, including a big batch of boxes to ship the new Kritzerland CD.

Over the weekend, I must address and stamp all those boxes so that when the CD shows up (hopefully mid-week at the latest), I can get them packaged and shipped out, along with all the big orders, of which there are a bunch. I must also begin writing the notes for the new Kritzerland limited edition – I’ll be giving the head’s up about it here first so everyone has a chance to get their orders in, because I’m hopeful we’ll have a repeat of the quick sellout that happened with Laurette. So, stay tuned.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog if possible, have a breakfast with Miss Susan Egan, pick up at least three packages, have a short LACCTAA meeting, and then eat a little something for dinner, and perhaps watch a DVD whilst relaxing. I really have to get all better over the weekend – next week is a hugely busy week and I have stuff every single day right through the weekend and the Kevin and Sean show on Monday night. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – CD, Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Not Without My Daughter, newly expanded and more complete than its previous release – not my favorite Goldsmith score, but it does have a pretty main theme. Also, a couple of Grover Washington jazz CDs that are really nice – with full orchestrations by Bob James. DVD, currently in the player is Jean Renoir’s La Bete Humaine, which I’ve watched over half of. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I play Dinner For One Please, James on the kazoo.

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