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May 31, 2018:

SCRIBBLING WITH SCRIABIN

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much tired fish, scribbling these here notes whilst listening to the music of Scriabin.  Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I am scribbling with Scriabin.

Yesterday was a non-stop day of going and doing as well as doing and going.  I didn’t get to sleep until after four due to the late night session, and I was up at eleven after about six hours of sleep.  Once up, I did the usual morning stuff, and then I went and picked up one package from the day before but no important envelope, then went and had a chicken Caesar for my meal o’ the day.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  I know this, because the doctor was seated in a nearby booth and that’s what he ordered.  After that, I picked up my clean clothes from the cleaners and came home.

Once home, I put the clean clothes away, and then it was time for our two-person rehearsal.  First was Mackenzie Wrap having her second rehearsal and then Keir Kirkegaard, who was having his first.  We went through his three numbers – first was Bidin’ My Time, then What Causes That and finally a put-together of A Foggy Day and They All Laughed.  I gotta tell you, that Gershwin knew his way around a tune. The melodies in this show are just unbelievable.

Then they left and I buckled down, Winsocki and wrote a set of liner notes and all the packaging information for a release we’re announcing tonight at the midnight hour.  That took a bit of time and then I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture I watched not that long ago on a UK DVD – the 1959 Jack the Ripper, which Joseph E. Levine imported to the US and turned into a smash hit.  The UK version seemed to be the American cut with the UK score by Stanley Black.  This Severin Blu and Ray was a limited edition of 1500 copies that sold out in two days, which someone, anyone, can explain to me, since it is a film that almost no one knows.  I found the entire thing suspicious frankly, unless it was all speculators.  On their website they trumpeted newly restored from vault elements, which is truly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read and certainly one of the most meaningless.  And when I tell you about this transfer you will know just how deceptive their blather was and I think one would have a good class action lawsuit for advertising something with complete lies.  I rather enjoy the low-budget film, mostly for nostalgia reasons so I needed to have the Blu-ray, which had three different versions of the film: the UK cut with the Stanley Black score, the US cut with the Jimmy McHugh and Pete Rugolo score, and some French version on DVD with some gratuitous nudity.

First I checked out the newly restored from vault elements UK transfer.  The film is preceded with a title card informing us that no elements exist on this film, or not any that they could find.  What we’re about to see is an open matte (zoomed in) transfer that was done on a telecine in 2005 (probably the basis of the DVD I watched).  I ran the first twenty minutes – I would be surprised to find out that it wasn’t 16mm, which is exactly what it looks like.  It’s no better than the DVD and that wasn’t good. Strike one and so much for “restored” from vault elements.  Then I switched to the US cut, which is what I wanted to watch.  That, too, was preceded by a title card informing us that no elements exist on the film and that the US cut is presented in a 2K transfer of a 35mm print held by, I believe, the Library of Congress.  So, I thought, this is where the restored comes in, great.  The film began with the Paramount logo, which I loved, and Paul Frees Orson Welles-like opening narration over the logo – really fun and something I remember from all those years ago.

Now, here’s what I don’t expect to see from a newly restored from vault elements transfer – a print that looked like someone had run it about 3,000 times then put it in a washing machine.  Splicy, huge scratches, blobs of dirt everywhere, and once past the logo all of that continued unabated for almost the entirety of the film.  There were a few sequences that were a bit less battered, but someone needs to sit down with the idiots at Severin and tell them what the word “restored” means. A 2K transfer is meaningless and a waste of money if the element is in this kind of shape.  But as long as you’re saying “restored” at least take the time to clean it up – this has virtually nothing done to it, not a single attempt to remove scratches or cue marks or any damn thing.  The color insert of the blood coming up through the elevator floor is completely faded, rendering the effect almost sepia and therefore diluting the impact of suddenly seeing vivid red come up a floor that had just been black-and-white.  It would have taken ten minutes to fix the color – ten MINUTES.  These bunch of rubes have a lot of gall putting out this crap at full price.  And crap it is.  There are extras that I don’t care about, and the French version isn’t even on the Blu-ray, it’s on a separate DVD so you know what you’re in for there – a completely unwatchable transfer.  This is, in fact, the most shockingly bad Blu-ray I’ve ever seen – the worst of the worst doesn’t even come close to this travesty, and shame on everyone involved. Highly NOT recommended by the likes of me, although you can’t find it anyway, except at inflated prices.

After that, Doug Haverty sent me the revised version of the scene that I’d asked him to completely do over from scratch with a different approach – we spent lots of time talking about it, but in the end the new version is really super and more importantly really right.  I just asked him to adjust a couple of lines at the end to get us into the song a bit more smoothly, but I was very happy.  Then I took a shower and began scribbling with Scriabin.

Has anyone noticed that this is the final day of May?  How can that be?  Tomorrow will be a new month, one I like to call June, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that June will be a month filled with health, wealth, happiness, creativity, and all things bright and beautiful.

Today, I’ll try to jog around eleven-thirty and then we have our second Kritzerland rehearsal.  It was way too chilly to jog yesterday – the weather has been mighty strange around these here parts.  After the rehearsal, I’ll go eat something calorie-friendly, and then I’ll get everything prepared for our announcement.

Tomorrow I must relax, but we may have a really private little read through of the script, as Doug really worked all day yesterday and got all the changes done.  It would just be three or four of us if we do it, and I’ll sing the songs. Saturday is our stumble-through, then Sunday is sound check and show.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, jog, hopefully pick up packages and an important envelope, have a rehearsal, eat, prepare our announcement, and then relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite kinds of salads and salad dressings? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to be done scribbling these here notes with Scriabin.

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