Amoeblog


(In which we reunite, even as we bid a fond adieu.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2010 01:12pm | Post a Comment
Well, it’s the middle of September and there’s nothing novel or interesting about this week.

No, no – of course we’re standing at the precipice of a new decade as a fresh millennium dawns and everything’s fraught with poignancy. I get it. But just for a second, wasn’t it nice to hear otherwise?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, which is a sure-fire way to get people to forget about me. By now my regular readers have probably been reduced to the Amoeblog staff, my Mom, and myself (and I’m just barely skimming them).

Chalk it up to an action-packed holiday season, kiddies. Since last we met, I shot the footage for an upcoming webisode series with the fantastically rad Elizabeth Keener. Once it’s up and running I’ll let y’all know about it.

Also freelance articles, while hardly pouring in these days, are vying for my time. I just finished writing an article for Gourmet Magazine for their “traditional dishes of Indonesia” series. My piece focused on the Åland crisis and its impact on the League of Nations in the wake of the First World War, and how the Islands’ current Finnish loyalties but Swedish-speaking majority stand as a metaphor for modern Scandinavian policy. What does that have to do with Indonesian food? Nothing. But it’s all in how you spin the article.
yummy
Välsmakande mat som du kan äta med din jävla mun!

Also, the boyfriend’s parents were here for a week to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us. They’re from Texas, so in cooking for them I had to make sure to restrain myself from culinary flourishes. Example: Spaghetti & meatballs are fine, but in lieu of Italian herbs, why not use fresh-roasted cumin seed and Walla Walla sweet onions caramelized in aged balsamic vinegar?

No. Back away. When cooking for Texans, resist the urge to decorate salads with edible flower petals, eschew spices with more than two syllables (“How come no-one’s using the cardamom gravy?”) and for the love of Pete, never never use or try to explain ghee.


It was a lovely holiday, though. The boyfriend, in a gallant effort to halt my developing a stress-hunchback, gifted me an electric foot massager, which now sits here at my desk. Wanna see?

feets

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On the Amoeba Music Hollywood front, yesterday was the final work day of our beloved Charlie Richards, who for some years has been caretaking our neat-o classical music section. He’s moving to Florida, presumably because he’s a masochist with a fetish for pastels. (I’m pretty sure he said that once, actually.) It is to him that this blog entry is dedicated.

care bears
Charlie Richards, circa 2004

Anyone who’s worked with Charlie knows his favorite opera is Les contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. Coincidentally, and in spite of Charlie overwhelming us with un-requested lectures of historical minutiae relating to Offenbach’s writing the work…

CHARLIE: Did you know that Offenbach wrote the opera in one night while sitting on the toilet? And it wasn’t until he finished composing it that he realized he was out of toilet paper and had to use his first draft to wipe himself, so what we know today as the opera is actually a second draft he wrote while exercising on his Stairmaster!

CO-WORKER: Charlie, all I asked is if you knew where the tape dispenser was. And what the hell was wrong with Offenbach that he couldn’t just sit at a desk like normal people?!

…the opera is also one of my favorites.

Opera is a hard sell, and I don’t expect any of my readers to go rushing out to ye olde opera-house just because I fancy the genre myself, but one thing I can recommend without reservation is the 1951 film adaptation of said work, The Tales of Hoffmann, directed by masters of motion picture art Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, most famous for their dizzyingly beautiful film The Red Shoes.

Many people know and love The Red Shoes, but I actually like The Tales of Hoffmann more. The opera’s conceit of stories-within-the-story, focused on fantasies of delusional romance and whimsical villainy, allow Powell & Pressburger unrestrained opportunities for the cinematic eye-candy they’re so revered for.


There’s also a lot of badical ballet in the movie, but again, you don’t need to be a fan of either ballet or opera to enjoy this film. It’s rather like the best acid trip you ever took, if that trip took place on an antiquated Disneyland ride.


Fortunately, the good people of Criterion selected the film for release some years back, so it’s available on DVD with their trademark excellence in… menu design and… stuff.


Anyway, in the interest of swell cinema, and for the love of Charlie, I highly recommend you bake yourself a tray of pot* brownies and commit to an evening screening of The Tales of Hoffmann.

And if you find yourself in the Sunshine State, be sure to stop by Charlie’s house to let him know how much you liked the opera. But be prepared to stay a while – he’ll undoubtedly want to explain why Offenbach’s pen always smelled of bacon fat and absinthe.

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*Don’t worry – I’m not actually suggesting people use marijuana. “Pot” is just my codeword for crystal meth.

Relevant Tags

Criterion (4), The Red Shoes (1), Powell & Pressburger (1), Emeric Pressburger (1), Michael Powell (1), The Tales Of Hoffman (1), Charlie Richards (1), Ă…land (1), Elizabeth Keener (1), God Mat (1), Texas (10), Christmas (76), Walla Walla (1), Amoeba Music Hollywood (104), Classical Music (27), Opera (8), Ballet (2), Florida (2), Ghee (1), Les Contes D'hoffmann (1), Jacques Offenbach (1)