Uplifting music for strange times—that’s what we need! Here’s the Boston Pops Orchestra performing a special edition of “Summon the Heroes,” by the incredible John Williams, in honor of first responders everywhere. Scroll back to see the intro by Keith Lockhart and John Williams himself. Otherwise, put up your feet and watch 78 members of the orchestra, all performing from their own homes. Read the whole story here.
Today’s the annual Porchfest here in Arlington. All around town, musicians have set up on porches and in driveways, playing music for passers-by to enjoy. Here are a couple I came across in my neighborhood while walking Captain Jack and McDuff. Sometimes we get some visual art, as well! This is one of the things I love about my town.
We saw the B52s, Culture Club, and the Thompson Twins live in concert at the Wang Center in Boston last Friday night. (It was an early birthday gift from Lexi and Connor, who went with us.) It was great! Especially if you didn’t need to make out any of the song lyrics, or use your ears for anything for the rest of the night! Here, reproduced with surprising fidelity by my LG phone, is a brief (fair-use for review purposes only!) clip of the B52s climaxing their set with the song I introduced Lexi to, back when she was little…
Crank that up way past 11 on the biggest speakers you’ve got, and you’ll have a pretty accurate reproduction of the sound.
Between sets, I caught a candid of a couple of hardly-aging boomers checking out the action.
The final set was by headliner Boy George and Culture Club, and they were good, too—except their set featured laser-bright spotlights at the back of the stage, aimed straight into the retinas of the audience. So it was best if you weren’t planning to use your night vision for the rest of the weekend. Culture Club withheld the song we most wanted to hear until the third and final encore. Here, then, is a brief clip of Karma Chameleon, in High Fidelity…
I’m a little surprised to hear that the sound is actually clearer in these videos than it was going into my ears in the theater, past the foam earplugs that Lexi ran out and got us all. I think my ears just went into total overload from the jetwash blast of sound. Seriously, I wonder why the sound engineers think we’ll enjoy the music more if it’s too loud to hear. I think there’s a market out there for noise-reduction headgear that lets the sound through undistorted, but at a lower volume. My Bose ANR earbuds (which I didn’t think to bring) probably would have melted.
All that said, we had a great time reliving our youth with some actual youths!
Like many people I know, I’ve been finding it hard to believe that Christmas is almost upon us. It just doesn’t feel like it; maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather, or maybe it’s the feeling that we’re whirling round and round the sun faster every year.
See if this helps. It’s the U.S. Air Force Band, making a flashmob appearance at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum last year. Enjoy.
I’ve always wanted to see the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s precision flying squadron. Yesterday I had my chance—except I didn’t know about it! I was in the shower when I heard a thunderous roar of aircraft flying nearby. It sounded right overhead, which is occasionally the case with traffic out of Boston’s Logan Airport. But this didn’t sound like commercial airliners; it had the distinctive crackle of jet fighters. I tried to look out the bathroom window, but saw nothing in the sky but clouds. The last time I’d heard that sound in real life, it was a pair of F-15s flying over Fenway Park.
An hour later, I read in the online edition of the Boston Globe that the Blue Angels (flying their gorgeous blue and yellow FA-18 Hornets) had been in town for a photo shoot, and had just made several passes above the city, including over Fenway Park. It’s entirely possible that they did fly over my house, while I was in the shower.
I was fit to be tied. But I thought, at least I should be able to see some good video footage of it, from the local TV stations. Forget it. As it turns out, about the only videos I’ve found online have been clips from private citizens, probably shot on their cell phones. Here’s a still, though, from the Boston Globe. It’s pretty cool: the six-plane squadron plus a photo plane, passing behind Boston’s Prudential Center.
Speaking of culturally significant shows, Julia and I went to see Godzilla a few nights ago. I cannot claim to be an unbiased reviewer, because I have a long-standing affection for the beast and his signature GRONNNNNNGGGK-K-K! In fact, I can see a couple of Godzilla toys on the shelf from where I sit at my computer right now. But I’m highly sensitive to bad versions of Godzilla, of which the version starring Matthew Broderick was one. (It wasn’t a bad monster movie; it just wasn’t Godzilla.)
Anyway, the new one is pretty good! ‘Zilla comes to the rescue when human attempts to stop some other nasty monsters fail. Although, I have to say, we both felt that Godzilla got shorted a little on screen time in comparison to the MUTOs (the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Objects), which were ugly, massive buglike things. Also, I have to admit that Godzilla’s motivation in the story was pretty vague. But let’s not get all scientific. Of course you can detonate a large fusion warhead just offshore and not flatten San Francisco! It’s a Godzilla movie!
I must confess to some disappointment in the Godzilla roar, though. This interesting video shows the two sound guys who produced it talk about the three-year job of getting it right. And I have to say… close, but uh-uh. The original, produced by a resin-coated leather glove being dragged down the strings of a bass, and then slowed down, was better, in my opinion.
Here you can see how ‘Zilla has evolved over the years, both in body and sound. I thought they got the sound best in the mid ’60s and ’70s.
This year they’re doing a show called Amaluna, which from the press looked pretty fantastical. Our niece Lauren was visiting from California, and we decided it was time to go. What an amazing amalgam of showmanship, acrobatics, gymnastics, dance and flexibility, music and drum, fantasy and story, balance, strength, and a touch of humor. The cast is 70% female and the band 100%, which marks a major shift for Cirque.
Back in my high school days in the Buckeye State, I played in my school’s marching band—first on clarinet, then bass drum, then snare drum. I vividly remember how difficult it was to keep our marching lines straight, stepping eight to five*, even when the band was just marching down the field. (*Eight to five means eight measured strides to every five yards.) With that in mind, prepare to be impressed when you watch the Ohio State University Marching Band perform a routine they called the Hollywood Blockbuster Show—especially the T-Rex from Jurassic Park!
You can skip the first minute or so, which is the other band getting off the field. Watch in full screen!