Sunday, 10 October 2010

A Night on Bald Mountain

Edit: Updated blog post with working file here: A night on bald mountain.

Night on Bald Mountain is a fantasy for orchestra that was composed by Modest Mussorgsky; and based on a tone poem of his. The original tone poem was called St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain and had a Witches' Sabbath as its theme. He completed it on June the 23rd 1867; on St. John's Eve, and exactly a hundred and ten years before I was born. I've always been drawn to this piece of music, ever since I saw Disney's Fantasia when I was little. Now that I know more about its evolution and history, I love it even more.
I thought it was about time that Fflwcs had a go at making a version of Bald Mountain. I use all the original score, but have tried to emphasise the otherworldliness of the piece, and also the downright scariness of it. Wales has so many beautiful mountains, and lots of my childhood was spent climbing them, so I think that has inspired me and my love of this Mussorgsky work. There is a legend in Wales: if you sleep on the summit of Cader Idris, when you wake up you'll either be mad, or a poet. My Mam used to joke that if I slept up there I'd wake up exactly the same.
Here's an mp3 of the Fflwcs version (sorry, it's on that same site as my last mp3. I'll find a better hosting place soon).
Download Fflwcs - A Night on Bald Mountain here.

The Leather Boys (1961 book)

I've finished the book, but I don't know how to react to it quite yet. The blurb on the back says: "They're Britain's 'Wild Ones'-the motorcycle cow-boys who live for fast machines and faster girls.
Who ton-up along the Motorways, terrorising drivers and defying the law. Who experience sex too young, marry unthinkingly and live only for the next kick-whatever or wherever it is.
THE LEATHER BOYS is a savage, brilliantly told novel of these aimless young men and women. It is also the story of Dick and Reggie and the strange, twisted love that developed between them."
Hmm, where do I start with that? I know the book was marketed as sleazy pulp fiction, as that's what was selling at the time, but this blurb really angered me; and for a few reasons. Firstly, it alludes that the characters in the story are British versions of characters from The Wild One (a 1953 Marlon Brando film); then it says that these characters ‘terrorise drivers’ on motorways, yet none of that happens in the book; and the story of Dick and Reggie is the main story of the whole book, so I don’t understand why that is given such little precedence. I’m also upset by the description of their love as strange and twisted, but I realise I’m looking back at it from 2010, and attitudes are very different now.
Okay, the writing isn't as bad as I was expecting. I was expecting it to be a lot more sensationalist, sleazier somehow than it was. The writing focused on telling the reader what a particular character was feeling, “Dick was anxious”, “He was happy here. He liked the friends he had made, or at least he liked Reggie. He was looking forward to going out with Reggie tomorrow”, “Reggie felt lonely and depressed. What a mess life was.” Gillian Freeman obviously hadn’t heard ‘show don’t tell’ when she wrote this book. It’s actually a novella, and only 125 pages long; I read most of it in a few hours. The writing is not great, but there are some lovely stylistic quirks, and the speech is brilliant. The character of Gran especially, she is often hilarious; and old lady’s funny little ways are captured beautifully.
I just didn’t believe the characters: they weren’t developed, and weren’t given the time (both time together, and not many pages) to develop. The film is about Reggie and Dot’s life and their marriage failing, and Pete (Dick in the book) coming into Reggie’s life and turning everything upside down. The book is much more about Dick’s life and Reggie coming into it. In both versions, Dick/Pete is obviously gay; in the book he hasn’t yet accepted it, in the film he has. Freeman’s explanation of what makes a gay man, and how to make a gay story acceptable is to have characters not 'realise' they are gay until they find the right man. Up until he meets Reggie, Pete feels no sexual attraction at all; and when they finally kiss and have sex in Gran's house that's the first time he's ever felt like that. It was obviously written by a straight person, and meant for a straight audience.
All that said, I did enjoy it - but I enjoyed the film more than the book.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Folksy Friday *1st October 2010*

This week I decided to feature some of my favourite shops (I couldn't think of a theme)!

Marcade Arts Press beautiful little books and instructions on how to make them.

The Birds & The Bees insect houses and hotels. I know I’ve featured it loads of times but love this shop!

Fairfield Gardens soap, skincare and (best of all) magic potions! The lady who runs this is really friendly too.

Bread and Butter some of the best ceramics on Folksy (the caravan is especially cute)!

Come Day Go Day amazingly intricate art in this shop. I love all the pieces.
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