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April 20, 2017:

THE NAME GAME

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, this week is flying by, like a gazelle eating fruity snacks whilst doing a back flip and singing The Name Game. That darn gazelle. If you’ll allow me, I’m going back to Sibelius for the rest of this paragraph. As you know, I’ve gone through most of all the complete symphony cycles and I have my favorites and my non-starters and I was pretty much done with it, as I have enough great performances of each symphony to last me, and that includes all the bad-sounding historic mono performances, too. But I kept reading about this cycle from the early 1960s conducted by Akeo Watanabe and released on Epic Records in a boxed LP set. But for whatever reasons that cycle has never been issued on CD. So one fine day about three months ago I went on eBay and found a more recent cycle conducted by Mr. Watanabe, from the early 1980s on Denon CDs. But that was OOP and VERY pricey and I wasn’t going anywhere near it, nor was it as well thought of as his earlier cycle. I did find the boxed LP set in stereo, but there was also a reel-to-reel tape released back then – I found a cheap copy of that and bought it even though the speed wasn’t optimal – in order to fit it on two reels they used the 3 3/4 speed rather than 7 1/2. So, it arrived and I gave it to a friend to transfer to hi-rez AIFF audio files. It took three months to get it back but I got it back last night and immediately began listening to it. And the pundits were right – it’s pretty great and goes to the top of the list just based on the first two symphonies. The sound is pretty damn good even at the slower speed, with just some crunchiness in the loudest parts – but you can tell how well it was recorded, and also how good it would sound from the master tapes. I have a good mind to ask how much it would cost to release it on CD, perhaps in a limited edition of five hundred copies at a forty-dollar price (I think this would fit on three CDs if I did the math correctly). It would probably be too expensive, but I think the 500 would go if I could reach the Sibelius nuts and classical completists. Interesting notion because if you could sell 500 units at that price it would definitely be worth doing if the manufacturing price was right. I shall ponder, oh, yes, I shall ponder.

Yesterday was another perfectly okay day (and I’ll take those every time). I got about seven hours of sleep, got up, answered e-mails, did work on the computer. I then had a brief but fun visit, and after that I had two tuna sandwiches for my meal o’ the day. Then I went and picked up one package, and came home. The package contained my new Braun electric shaver. I got it all unpacked but I’m confused by the cleaning/charging station so I think I’ll have the helper come and figure out how to set that up. I got the shaver charged and it’s quite a nice looking thing.

I had a nice conversation with our final singer, we’ve got her three songs chosen, and then we chose the final song, one for Sami and finally the show is set, with just the show order to figure out. Then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night I watched a motion picture on Blu and Ray entitled Split, a film by M. Night Shyamalan starring James McAvoy as a whole slew of different personalities, and Betty Buckley as his doctor. I knew the film had done very well at the box-office (it was very low budget) and a return to form for Mr. Shyamalan, and was told about all the raves it had received, which I stayed away from so I’d come to it without any knowledge. Now, I thought The Sixth Sense was fine, but its big secret was no secret to me – I knew what was going on within fifteen minutes. I liked his second film better, Unbreakable. And then he just seemed to flounder – the king of the “twist.” Well, enough with the twists already. He branched out into some other genres and I just didn’t care for anything he made. So I was looking forward to this return to form. Well, it’s not quite all that. Yes, it’s very well made, not so well written, Mr. McAvoy is fun for a while, the teen girls are okay, and Ms. Buckley is the best thing in the film. But it just degenerates into silliness at about the two-thirds mark and becomes tiresome. And its premise is kind of weird to begin with. And the ending wasn’t so interesting either. After the end title begins, there’s an additional scene that ties this film to another of his films – that was okay, I guess. Then I actually looked at the reviews and for every good review it got, it got a bad review – many reviewers were not taken in by it. It’s an okay time passer but a masterpiece it isn’t. It looks very good, and has a droning score by some unknown persons rather than his usual composer, James Newton Howard.

Then I watched another motion picture on Blu-ray entitled The Founder. Now, this film was a huge flop – most people don’t even know what it is or haven’t heard of it at all, despite the attempt to make it an Oscar bait release in December. Well, let’s put on our thinking caps and figure out if The Founder isn’t just a terrible uninviting title that tells you nothing about the film. The fact is, it’s a fascinating story and people should have been interested in it – the story of McDonald’s and how Ray Kroc developed it into a worldwide phenomenon while basically taking all the credit for something he did not found, but simply found. Yes, he was the franchiser and yes he turned it into a huge success, but he also shut out the McDonald brothers and basically screwed them over for life, which makes it hard to like the guy in this film. And if I never see another film that begins with “Based on a true story” I will be very happy. But the film is pretty good and Michael Keaton is excellent as Ray Kroc – but he is not likeable at all and you really feel for the brothers by the end of the film, especially when you know that Kroc cheated them out of hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties. Laura Dern is in it and is fine, as are all the actors, but it’s Mr. Keaton’s show all the way. Transfer is lovely and the story really is interesting, as is the score by Carter Burwell.

After that, I began my Sibelius listening and did more work on the computer – I had a tiny bit of ice cream (this batch isn’t very good for some reason), one package of fruity snacks, and some popcorn.

Today I’ll be up early for a nine o’clock breakfast meeting at a local eatery. After that I’ll come home and make a show order and start writing the damn commentary. Then I’ll hopefully pick up some damn packages, come back home, do more work on the Sherman Brothers musical, and at some point I suppose I’ll relax and, eat a little something more, and watch a motion picture.

Tomorrow I attend an opening night, and the weekend is fraught with possibilities, including a drive to the Monica of Santa to visit our very own Mr. Nick Redman, who’s still recuperating.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a breakfast meeting, make a show order and write commentary, hopefully pick up packages, work on the script, and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite performances of Mr. Michael Keaton? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, where I shall, of course, emulate the gazelle by playing The Name Game.

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