- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This is like that

“Internet reaction to Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has oscillated between abject horror and Doc Brown’s face when the model DeLorean catches on fire in 1955. But I’ll be a contrarian and say that this musical will be transcendent. … Simply viewing it will be like watching the birth of a neutron star and a baby fawn at the same time. It will be a dramatic experience on par with King Midas jamming his index finger in your eye and transforming your rods and cones into liquid aurum. …

“In the end, a superhero musical kind of makes sense. Musical theater fans possess a specialized, arcane knowledge that’s not easily accessible to the uninitiated - so do comic book fans. Broadway musical theater tends to be overweeningly sincere, with the exception of works that ‘subvert the genre.’ The same goes for superhero comics. Musical theater deals in a highly mediated form of reality where people dressed in tights stop every 5 minutes to belt out a song. Superhero comics occur in the real-world, but tight-clad people frequently stop alien invasions, which are scheduled every 5 minutes.

“In sum, ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark’ combines these two art forms into a cultural Voltron that will smush post-modernity into paste.”

- Cyriaque Lamar, writing on “10 reasons why the Spider-Man musical will blow your damn mind to smithereens,” on Sept. 11 at io9.com

Holiday jihad

“I noticed a War On Christmas aspect to Mohammed Mohamuds plan to blow up a Christmas tree lighting, and Kathy Shaidle wrote, before I had even blogged on it, that ‘The only shocking thing about this story is that Portland still has a Christmas tree lighting.’ …

“But Im sorry to say that all references to the tree lighting in Portland, Oregon, say its a ‘Holiday Tree.’ See ‘Is that a tree in Portlands Pioneer Courthouse Square? The holidays must be near!,’ OregonLive.com, November 12, 2010.

“But you know, even if the City Fathers of Portland dont know its Christmas, I think the Muslim who wanted to blow them up did.”

- James Fulford, writing on “Sorry, Kathy, Its A Holiday Tree,” on Nov. 28 at the V-Dare blog

Movie music

“Explanations for the abiding resistance to musical modernism have proliferated, their multiplicity suggesting that none quite holds the key. One theory holds that a preference for simple tonality is wired into the human brain. Attempts to test this proposition have produced ambiguous results. …

“There’s also a sociological explanation: because concert audiences are essentially trapped in their seats for a set period, they tend to reject unfamiliar work more readily than do gallery visitors, who can move about freely, confronting strange images at their own pace. Yet if the style of presentation conditioned the response, one would expect that dance, theatre and movie audiences would show the same revulsion toward novel ideas. …

“Indeed, it’s striking that film-makers have made lavish use of the same dissonances that concertgoers have found so alienating. Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ with its hallucinatory Gyorgy Ligeti soundtrack, mesmerized millions in the late 1960s. Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island,’ which deploys music by [John] Cage, Morton Feldman, Giacinto Scelsi, and Ligeti again, was a recent box-office hit. Michael Giacchino’s score for the TV series Lost is an encyclopedia of avant garde techniques. If the human ear were instinctively hostile to dissonance, these and 1,000 other Hollywood productions would have failed.”

- Alex Ross, writing on “Why do we hate modern classical music?” on Nov. 28 at the Guardian

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