Monday, February 27, 2017

HOLLYWOOD LAYS AN EGG




I recently said that I wasn't going to watch the Academy Awards this year. Well, in a shameful moment of acute moral relapse, I caught the last half hour (on live stream) to see what film won for best picture.

As fate would have it, this turned out to be the best part of the entire show. It was the worst debacle in Academy Award history - and has Hollywood Bigwigs spinning on their pompous asses, with egg dripping from their facelifts.

Allow me to explain:

The presentation for Best Picture is always the most eagerly-awaited part of the entire long and tedious ceremony.

The audience already sat through four excruciating hours of the usual insincere ass-kissing accolades, and listened to the usual weary, threadbare Hollywood rhetoric: including that  written statement sent to us by Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi who refused to attend the ceremonies because of President Trump's "inhumane" immigration ban - - and because of our "disrespect" for Muslim countries.

Yea, right Bubaloo. These are the same countries who execute gays, enslave women, enjoy public beheadings, and hate everyone other than themselves. 
Go suck a camel hump.

Aw, settle down and breathe easy, amigos - I'm getting to the good part.

 
Finally the moment has arrived to announce the Best Picture award. The award presenters are Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty - who were resurrected from the Tinseltown Boneyard because they starred in the film Bonnie and Clyde, which was made fifty years ago (yup - 1967).

Dunaway and Beatty in 1967


Warren Beatty opens the hermetically sealed envelope to announce the winner. He looks at the contents, fumbles around, and inexplicably hands it to Faye Dunaway. Everyone thinks he's either goofy or senile (which wasn't the case).

Faye glances at the envelope and quickly announces that the winner for Best Picture is La La Land.

Before the words leave her lips, a stampede of La La participants crowd onto the stage - and the babbling Thank You speeches begin.

While the La La recipients are in the midst of giving profuse thanks to everyone in their entire lives - - some flustered bald guy emerges out of nowhere with the devastating news that La La Land didn't win for Best Picture. It was, in fact, Moonlight that won.

While the La La bubbles were bursting in abject confusion, the Moonlight participants stampeded the stage and commenced with their own barrage of Thank You speeches.

Chaos ensued. It was a Hollywood epic worthy of Cecil B. DeMille.

The raw - not to mention embarrassing - fact is that the wrong envelope was given to Warren Beatty. In it contained the proclamation that Emma Stone won for Best Actress (which indeed she did). But she already accepted her Oscar hours ago (or so it seemed).

Faye Dunaway saw the name Emma Stone (for La La Land) and assumed that La La had won for Best Picture.
It was an incredibly ugly scene - but neither Beatty nor Dunaway can be blamed for it. 
Some Jackass behind the scenes can be thanked for the Big Boner.

My own personal thoughts are that the Russians are behind it. I have no doubt that Vladimir Putin hacked the Academy Awards.
I demand a recount.
Moonlight might have won the electoral vote - - but it was La La Land that won the popular vote.

I plan to go out tomorrow to riot in the streets, burn buildings, and very possibly loot.


Here's the blunder on video, in case you want to see it. I got this from YouTube.



  ( A few of the usual sourpusses didn't appreciate my humor. It's their loss....)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE WILDERNESS




It's after dawn and I haven't been to bed yet. Last night was inundated with storms. Donner und blitzen. Torrential downpours. And hail.

By midnight I had given up trying to do anything constructive. I crawled into bed and read for several hours. I'm presently in a D.H.Lawrence mode....and I'm loving it. I've dusted off books that I haven't read since high school.

The temperature dropped drastically by dawn. Friday was unseasonably warm - nearly 75 degrees (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in Uruguay).

Warm, windy, balmy - - with ample glimpses of springlike sunshine.

 I let the cats out to savor the day. Here are Bosco and Scruffy working on their tans.

Scruffy (who is usually camera-shy) actually took a moment to pose for me.




The 'possum wandered onto the back porch to eat some bread. I took these photos from the kitchen window.

 After an exhausting hour of dozing outside, my cat Scratch came inside to doze by a window.

I checked out the neighboring cow meadow but the cows were nowhere in sight.

Just before dusk I went out for a brief stroll (in the back yard). It was already starting to get cloudy - but the evening colors and shadows were impressive.


The sky was deliciously dramatic
(not unlike myself...)


The setting sun suddenly burst through the clouds and illuminated the trees with a golden blaze.

I'm too tired to stay awake. Gonna crawl into bed and get some beauty sleep (Gawd knows, I need it).
Have a pleasant Saturday.

I think it's Saturday.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

OSCAR REVISITED





The 89th Academy Award ceremonies will take place this coming Sunday in Hollywood. I won't be watching.

What once was a dignified, meaningful event has turned into a tacky, inane ego circus. We all know what will happen:

It will exclusively be an I Hate Trump fest, with angry Tinseltown leftists spewing their pent-up venom. Flash-in-the-pan actors making far more money than their mediocre talents deserve. "Celebrities" whom we largely never heard of, getting awards for films we've never seen, and vanishing into the overcrowded netherworld of Hollywood has-beens as soon as the show is over.

Do I sound bitter?

I am. But I'm also simply pining for the past, when Hollywood seemed to have more substance and class. And talent.

I miss the Hollywood that I knew when I lived there. Sure - it was always a tawdry, sleazy, corrupt, ruthless, fake, potentially lethal Dreamworld. But it has provided me with some delicious memories - - and the Academy Awards always manage to ignite them.

I've written about all this many times before. Despite what it might seem, I'm not rehashing it to brag or to feed my own ego. I'm simply remembering my adventurous past, and astonishing myself with thoughts of my now-faded audacity.

I crashed the Oscars when I was eighteen years old. I didn't yet live in Hollywood at that time, but I was smitten with the glitz and glamor. That was back when the Awards were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center in downtown L.A. 



I knew the Music Center very well and it was surprisingly easy to sneak in on Oscar night. Security wasn't as tight as it is nowadays. I simply slipped in a side door - the musician's entrance. I went upstairs via the restaurant, found an empty seat on the back of the auditorium, and watched about twenty minutes of the live show. I could have stayed longer but was afraid I'd be caught.

I can't think of anyone else in Hollywood history who ever crashed the Oscars. I could be wrong, but I'm nearly sure I hold the solo honor. Hell, that alone deserves some sort of award.

After I ventured back outside, I hung around where the limos were parked (they were circled entirely around the Music Center) and struck up a conversation with the chauffeur of Helen Hayes (Hayes was one of the presenters at the Awards that night). We watched the rest of the Award show on a small TV in the limo. Afterwards I got to meet Sammy Davis jr. and actor George Hamilton and his then-wife Alana. Sammy Davis was one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.


Sammy Davis jr. at the Oscars that night,
and Helen Hayes

Fast Forward. 
A few years later. In my early twenties, now living in Tinseltown. I'm no longer an innocent star-struck gawker. I'm a hardcore drinker, occasional druggie, and hell-bent on excitement and danger.

I remember attending an after-Oscar party at a Beverly Hills mansion - -  directly next door to Burt Reynold's house. I was pretty near wasted, and wound up having sex with someone under a grand piano in the library.
I won't elaborate. This is a blog, not exactly a memoir.... 

There were other, more romantic, Academy Award nights in Hollywood. An intimate after-award dinner with a well-known set designer in a house atop the Hollywood Hills. We used some fantastic candles that were given to us for the occasion by actress Sally Struthers (who was then a famous TV star on All in the Family).

.....later, we spent the night in the bedroom loft with a huge picture window overlooking Hollywood. It seemed just like a movie set.....

Overlooking Hollywood
That was so long ago, when I was reckless, young..... and very far removed from any thoughts about living in the Tennessee wilderness with 'possums and coyotes.

Often, the bitter ironies in life know how to bite. 

 
 End of Reel

Monday, February 20, 2017

REMEMBER



Remember the bitchy post that I wrote a few weeks ago complaining that every Monday is a holiday? Well, it wasn't much of an exaggeration. Today is yet another holiday. President's Day.

I dare not mention anything about presidents....or politics. The last time I did a post on that subject, over a dozen people permanently fled my blog. I also received a blitz of hate mail and even one death wish (I kid you not).

So much for free speech and American patriotism. Express it and you might be burned at a stake.

Do I sound bitter? That was my intention.

I'll wander into neutral territory and offer a video. Don't panic - it's not another one of my piano music videos. This recent creation is called Remember with music by California musician Richard Buckner. 

The original title of this song is Willow. It was later used in the 2008 movie Dream Boy, based on the novel by Jim Grimsley.

In the film version, the song is performed by Richard Buckner and Patty Griffin, and has (erroneously) been known as Remember ever since.

I chose the title Remember for my video, simply because it seems more appropriate for my thoughts and intention. 


http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST



So, who is the beauty....and who's the beast?

The beauty is the lovely sunset that enchanted me a few evenings ago. I went out on the front porch to capture it with my El Cheapo camera.
Trust me, I don't enchant easily. 


And who's the beast?
The beast is myself, of course. The other day, for no specific reason whatsoever, I took a quasi-selfie (with my El Cheapo camera) on the front porch.

This photo isn't particularly enchanting. In order to capture myself, I had to set the 10-second timer on the camera, then run away (actually, I limped away because of my bad back) - then I had to pose and try to look good - - all in ten frigging seconds.
Trust me - it usually takes a few hours and a generous application of embalming fluid for me to look good.

I'm exaggerating, of course. I'm actually adorable.


Here's something you're really going to like (I jest, of course).
This is an extremely rare piano recording that I made in Los Angeles when I was eighteen years old. It's one of my own compositions - the prelude in D minor, op. 5  #24.

The audio quality is poor, at best, but it's only a minute long. I have no doubt that you'll survive. 

And just to set the record straight - - this was not recorded on an Edison Phonograph Cylinder.....ha, ha.....



 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

AN ARRANGEMENT IN BLUE, WITH LOVE





As I looked back at the sprawling smog-drenched cityscape of Los Angeles on that sweltering September afternoon, I knew in my heart that I was leaving forever and would never return.

This isn't the place to dissect the reasons why I left. It's merely a channel to release a surge of nostalgic fondness and golden memories - an arrangement in blue, with love.



Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin holds a significant place in my final year in California. It was the last thing that I ever performed there at a public concert (in August). It was also the music that was playing in my mind on that day as I gazed at the L.A. skyline for the last time.

For that reason, Rhapsody in Blue, for me, is synonymous with farewells.

I wrote a solo piano arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue when I was in my mid-twenties and living in Hollywood. It has become a personal favorite of all my piano arrangements, and the one that is the most difficult to play. The pianist does all the work - there's no orchestral backup.

Initially, I was never fond of Rhapsody in Blue. It just wasn't geared to my pianistic style. As I studied the music and wrote the arrangement, however, I grew to love it - and to fully appreciate Gershwin's unique harmonic genius.

I've made several recordings of my Rhapsody in Blue arrangement. The one on my recent YouTube video (above) was made (long ago) at a friend's private music studio nestled in the Hollywood Hills. It was near midnight on a hot summer night. After ingesting a few glasses of Madeira, I recorded it in one take with no edits. No easy task, considering the length and extreme difficulty of the piece - and the detrimental influence of my semi-inebriation.

Gershwin - 1898-1937

Bandleader Paul Whiteman commissioned George Gershwin to write a piece for piano and orchestra, which would be included in a concert at Aeolian Hall in New York. Gershwin began writing the music in January, 1924 - and the premiere took place on February 12th.

Since Gershwin wasn't completely adept at orchestration, he initially wrote the piece for two pianos. Composer Ferde Grofe (who wrote the Grand Canyon Suite) orchestrated the score for the premiere - and Gershwin improvised the piano part.

Grofe later revised his orchestration in 1926 and again in 1942. These are the arrangements that are most widely known today.

Gershwin originally called his composition American Rhapsody. It was his brother Ira who suggested the title Rhapsody in Blue. Ira was inspired by an exhibition of paintings by James Whistler - especially one entitled Arrangement in Grey and Black (better known as Whistler's Mother).


My solo piano arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue is a humble tribute to Gershwin - and one of my personal crowning musical achievements.