Monday, October 18, 2010

v2, d184: Shuffleblog

You know the drill by now.  Hit shuffle on the iTunes, start blogging till the song is over. 
#1: 101 by the W's

One more cup to make it through,
Three more hours to go 'till the paper's due.
One more page is all I need,
Eyes so red I think they're gonna bleed...

This is a song about writing term papers in college.  No joke.  I like to think I wasn't a total slacker my first year of college when it came to paper-writing.  I'm pretty sure I spent a good amount of time getting books from the library (a thing that simply isn't done anymore), taking notes on notecards, and starting a first draft a week before it was due. 

Actually, you know what, I don't think I ever became a slacker regarding paper writing.  I tended to do everything the night the paper was due, like the guy in the song, but it wasn't because I was too lazy to do it ahead of time.  It was because I knew I could pull off the job in the hours before the paper was done, and so I found something equally valuable and useful to fill those earlier hours with.  Like rehearsals.  Or reading.  Or building lasting relationships and learning to be a man. 

This is something that sorta sucks about college.  You have a ton of equally important tasks, both academically and personally, and only four years to complete them in.  You could take it at a more leisurely pace, but wait, you can't afford it.  (Note: Yes, there are exceptions)  It's really nearly impossible to commit yourself to excellence in any one area without sacrificing one of the others.  Or maybe it is possible and I just failed at that particular aspect of secondary education.  Whatever.

Anyway, I made good grades and good friends, but I picked up some bad habits that I've been working against since then.  I guess that's life.

#2: SHADOW OF DEF by Brave Saint Saturn
Now sit right back as I bust a rhyme
I got the freshest beats and I'm always on time
I'm the baddest of the best, yeah, I'm the king. 
Master of beasts and the cross-fader,
I'll cut off your hand just like Darth Vader.
You step to me, and you're gonna get dissed, homeboy...
Not only is this a really bizarre song, but it's also a really bizarre inclusion on the BS2 trilogy.  Most of Brave Saint's songs are about struggling with all kinds of cheery stuff: depression, loss of friends, loss of family, loss of dreams, loneliness, disappointment, faithlessness, rage, infidelity, wars, pride, artistic frustration, and so on and so forth.  The other songs are usually very contemplative, beautiful, and even haunting worship songs.  And then there are NASA-themed sound bites that give the three albums a story/trilogy (as the band later said, the concept was to create a three-act play with the three albums) feel. 

And then, there's this song.  Which is an electronic/space riff acoustic hip-hop parody anthem.  That features a rap solo by the record company's executive producer explaining the name of the record company.  (5 Minute Walk) 

You gotta love it, though.  It's hilarious and brilliant and quirky and catchy.

And really oddly placed.

#3: LARRY-BOY THEME SONG from Veggie Tunes 2
Who do they call when this world needs a hero?
A man with style and plungers on his head?
It's easy to prove he's just one of the grooviest cats that you'll ever know.
It's plain to see, in fashion he's no zero.
At the wheel of the Larry-Mobile,
Purple and yellow, he's one super-fellow...
I could say many wonderful things about the folks at Big Idea! and their wildly successful Christian pop-culture champion franchise VeggieTales.  But, this is shuffleblog, so I'll just take this opportunity to praise Kurt Heinecke, or the guy who does all the music. 

When Phil Vischer was looking for someone to arrange all the music for their first episode of VT, he kept drawing a blank.  Then, one day while sitting in church and listening to the praise music, he thought Hey, this music is really good.  In fact, it's always really good.  So he asked the music minister from his church to do VeggieTales.  And despite the fact that the man had never done anything quite like it before, he said sure, sounds like fun.

One of the thing that I think sets VT apart from a lot of other children's entertainment giants is the overall production quality, and the music is a HUGE part of it.  I listen to a LOT of VeggieTales because my son is sort of obsessed with the veggies right now, so that's what we play in the car on the way to day care most days.  And I have to tell you, the music--not just the songs, but the underscoring, too--is absolutely top of the line.  I realize that this'll never happen, but I would love to see some of these stories expanded to become fully realized staged musicals.  I'm not talking about the VeggieTales Live! type karakoe-fests, I'm talking about hour-long or full-length musicals in which the music and songs play an integral part in tying together the piece artistically and telling the story.  It's that good. 

I challenge you to go back through old VeggieTales music.  And not the Silly Songs, but the actual episodes.  Pick up the Larry-Boy soundtrack.  Watch their Gilbert and Sullivan episodes.  Any genre they play with, they knock it out of the park.  And I've written too long.  Next song.

#4: EPIC CHASE SCENE from Peter and the Wolf

This song is not actually called Epic Chase Scene.  I don't know what it's actually called.  I have it on my computer from when I assistant directed Peter and the Wolf at our children's theater.  Assistant directing didn't mean a whole lot of direct involvement, though I would occasionally throw out suggestions that the director would use.  It was more of an observational thing.  The show's major strength was Abby's fantastic choreography anyway. 

And then, there was this sequence.  It was the last thing to be blocked, and I remember Kevin, Abby, and I meeting in the rehearsal space one afternoon.  Abby had nothing specific in mind, as she'd already choreographed the whole show (and was planning a wedding, too).  Kevin didn't have much in mind for it, either.  Neither did I, to be honest, but I saw an opportunity to do something artistic, so....  "Hey, you want me to just figure it out?"  Neither had a good reason why I shouldn't, and so it became mine.  At that point, I had one image in my mind: a rubber innertube duck posing as a decoy while the real duck hid behind a bush. 

From there, it all just sorta happened.  I managed to knock it out in about twenty minutes after I got home.  (Actually, while I was waiting for Kim to get ready for our that night, so I was in the living room, dressed quasi-nice, chasing myself around while listening to the same two and a half minutes of music over and over) 
Hopefully, it didn't look like I had worked it out in about thirty minutes time.  The whole thing was quite silly, as most of the show was, and it never quite captured the same look it had in my head.  But it was something.  And I still like it. 

And it got me a gig as an actual director the following season.  So there you go. 

#5: CODE OF THE ROAD by Bleach
Just suppose this old car sputtered down the road (just suppose)

Just suppose this old car, it refused to go (just suppose)
Wouldn't you hope that someone would care enough to stop and help you out?
I'd like to think that someone would care enough to stop and help you out...

Okay, I'll try to keep this one short.

I had a little fender-bender about a year ago.  Totally the other car's fault; it was rainy, and she pulled out across two lanes directly in front of me.  I tried to stop, couldn't in time, and hit her.  Her car was basically fine; mine had its front headlight smashed in.  She was really nice, she felt really bad, we were both glad our little ones hadn't been in our respective cars at the time.  We exchanged information and parted ways. 

As I thought about it, I started to think I really shouldn't call this one in to the insurance.  She was at fault, and she was going to admit to it, and she and/or her insurance would pay to fix my car.  But I was already planning on getting rid of my car the following March.  And it wasn't really terribly important damage in the short-term, anyway.  I knew if I were in her situation, I'd have been grateful if the person had decided not to "tattle" on me.  So I called her up a few days later and said, in effect, "No sweat.  I'm not keeping this car much longer anyway; no reason for you to pay to fix scrap anyway.  But if you really want to pay me back, give me your mailing address and let me send you a brochure for our children's theater, and you can bring your kids to a show and we'll call it even." 

She was pretty much speechless.  And really grateful.  And I was pretty sure I'd made the right choice.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head,
The stars in the sky look down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay...
Okay, Relient K and I don't always see eye-to-eye artistically. But I really, really love their full-length Christmas album, Let It Snow, Baby...Let It Reindeer.  Though it took me a little while to figure out the title. And I Hate Christmas Parties is so outlandishly emo that I kinda have to laugh at it.  But!  That's okay. 

This album really captures both the bouncy fun happiness of Christmas while nailing the quiet, contemplative, worshipful aspect of the holiday and the event it represents.  I've never heard an album so perfectly embrace both sides of the event that took place one night in a Bethlehem manger. 

But I'm sure you'll get a lot more of me gushing about how much I love Christmas once we get past Thanksgiving :-)