Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It is often remarked that there are no new Beethovens, Vivaldis or Mozarts.  I disagree.  I believe that the new “Masters” of classical music are the men and women who compose and arrange the music for movies. 

The number one has to be John Williams.  His body of work will span the test of time and his recognizable anthems from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters and Jaws are as instantly recognizable as Beethoven’s 9th or Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Hans Zimmer has had his share of masterpieces; including the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Batman, Dark Knight and one of my favorites, the score of Gladiator; a true example of how film, set to music, can elicit true emotion from an audience.

Danny Elfman was a member of the punk group Oingo Boingo.  He has graduated to scoring film.  He works a lot with Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow) on his often off beat visions, but his main stream work includes the soundtracks to the Spiderman movies, the original Batman and Terminator-Salvation which expands on James Cameron’s driving beats to create an opera like score that compliments the robotic action as well as enhances the humanity of the movie.

Even without watching the movie, I love listening to soundtracks the same way I enjoy the classical music of the past.  The beauty of David Arnold’s work for Stargate, the eclectic sounds created by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network, or James Horner's Avatar music, are all as entertaining and as moving as any work from the classical masters. 

I do have a favorite, it is the music created by Randy Edelman for the film Dragonheart.  If you can listen to the finale without tearing up you have no soul.  The soundtrack has a mix of whimsy, drama and grandeur worthy of any symphony.  Next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the music and you will hear the new Beethovens, Bachs and Mozarts.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I came late to the HUNGER GAMES party.  I don’t know why, blame it on how many other things I have been paying attention to lately I guess.  I had a cross country airplane ride coming in the middle of June and was looking for something to occupy my time during a 4 hour layover in D.C.  As I was browsing Amazon a little voice, far in the recess of my storage memory, reminded me of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.” 

I navigated to it, and low and behold, the gods favored me and It was ON SALE !  How cool was that?  I sent it instantly to my Kindle with one click and packed my bags.

Well boys and girls let me tell you!  What a treat!  It reminds me of a marriage between “Mad Max” and “The Most Dangerous Game.”  I read the entire first book of the trilogy before I reached California, and downloaded the second before you could say “District 12.”  The story, the characters, the drama, the action, the romance (which was the smallest part of the story subdued) was totally captivating.  I found myself quite enthralled and invested in the story.  I was almost sorry that my visit to So CA was going to interrupt my reading.

I read each night before going to sleep and whenever there was a lull in my touching base with relatives and friends, I had my Kindle at the ready.  I consumed the second book like a starving coal miner and quickly sent the final book to my e-reader anticipating my finishing “CATCHING FIRE” in no time.  I was most thankful that I had the power to acquire the books wirelessly and would not have to wait for an opportunity to take a trip to the “Capitol” book store, because by the middle of the second book I was already craving more. 

MOCKINGJAY,” the third and final book, did not disappoint in any way except wishing there was more.  I finished all three books in less than 4 days.  The series has been described as “Young Adult” fiction to which I must disagree.  While it will surely appeal to young people, it has an undercurrent of maturity that will both entertain and give pause to older readers as well.  It is thought provoking and moving.  It may not be "great literature" but it accomplishes something that every author hopes for.  I “Couldn’t put it down.”  I cared about the characters, and was satisfied and moved by the ending.  I not only recommend it I give it a hearty “Hell Yes!”