Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Autumn Playlist (Jillian)

In tempus autumnum venimus. Translation: we have come into the time of autumn.

With every season comes a sound. I cannot explain it, but there are certain songs and voices that I associate with the seasons - for no particular reason other than an ineffable resonance between my creative self and the world outside.

A few examples: I associate Strict Joy (of the Swell Season) with early December, as it was a comfort to me after a grueling season of preparing for the GRE exam; then there is Imogen Heap's Speak for Yourself, which I listened to frequently (and while on the internet) in the Winter of 2007-2008; there is also Capercaillie's Beautiful Wasteland, currently in residence in the CD player in my car, which is glorious Autumn to me; Spring knows no particular artist but a playlist Michelle made for me this last year entitled "A Year in Song" which brought me out of a winter state. Most recently, the Beatles has defined my summer, as well as Sia's We Are Born.

Autumn is gathering a longer playlist for me, as well, this year - oddly enough a melange of sounds from many seasons of listening:

* M'ionam - Capercaillie, Beautiful Wasteland
* The Blue Rampart - Capercaillie, Beautiful Wasteland
* Beautiful Wasteland - you get the idea
* Evangeline - Karen Matheson, The Dreaming Sea
* Dear Prudence - The Beatles, the White Album
* Across the Universe - The Beatles, Let it Be
* The Moon - The Swell Season
* Upward Over the Mountain - Iron & Wine
* Live and Let Die - Wings
* Life on Mars - David Bowie
* Levater - Yael Naim
* Go to the River - Yael Naim, She Was a Boy
* I Try Hard - Yael Naim, She Was a Boy
* A Case of You - Joni Mitchell
* The Scarlet Tide - Alison Krauss

The music helps - whether it be circulating images in my over-active imagination or getting through the day. Do you have a seasonal playlist? If not, I'd recommend it. It's probably already chosen itself for you.

Evangeline, Evangeline... angel of the morning is here...
and though the summer is over
and we're all a little colder
we'll get by...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Lucas Effect (Jillian)

Dean of "Heart of the City", voice of a generation... or two.

You may have heard in recent weeks about the Blue-ray release of the entire Star Wars saga. Many fans are less than pleased with this event, as it is just the next installment in the re-re-release saga of George Lucas' films.

I am not rejoicing about the Blue-Ray release - 1.) because of the blue-ray exclusivity, 2.) I have DVDs from 2004 that work just fine, and 3.) I actually think the older, untouched versions of the films say more about storytelling in film than Lucas' recent perfectionistic and revisionist ventures do.

Besides, he's bribing us to give him money. The biggest lure: including longed-for and legendary deleted scenes from the original trilogy. For now, it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

In a nutshell, the man has not learned to stop meddling. Last year saw the thirty year anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. In thirty-one years, Lucas has tweeked, subtracted to, added on, "improved" and "enhanced" the original Star Wars Trilogy from "fixing" outmoded special effects to adding dialogue to adjusting (unnecessarily) threads of the story that would later be added in the "new" trilogy. Mine was the "Han Shot First!" generation, referencing the scene in the first film where Han Solo shoots thug Greedo dead in the cantina; in 1997 Lucas toyed with the image, insinuating that Greedo actually shot first, and Han's act was self-defense. This was just one of many examples - small, yes, but enough to keep tempers flaring to this day. Why? Because once Star Wars came to the theatres, it was complete; it became someone else's story, too.

In the 1997 release, he said in a documentary that "Someone once said movies aren't completed, they're only abandoned." As I writer I understand this attitude completely. I myself am guilty of second, third and fourth guessing my work, wishing I could go back and add X to W, Y and Z. It's that perfectionistic streak we can never completely abandon, but never fulfill. Lucas, unlike many of us, actually has the money (and the legal right) to go in and do so... and so he has. Several times. You may have heard he's aiming for a 3D release somewhere in the future. Heaven help us.

Unanswerable questions:

* Is his goal to revamp/update Star Wars actually achievable?
* Can the man employ his energy for new creative ventures? (Besides Indiana Jones?)
* If you write a story, complete it to the best of your present abilities, and years, decades later go back and graft on dialogue, scenes, new characters, etc is it the same story?
* When will this possibly stop?

Please, Mr. Lucas. Please stop. This hurts.


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