Friday, October 14, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

HALLOWEEN: Der Erlkönig

As promised last week, here is another piece of art music that I listen to every Halloween: "Der Erlkönig," a song for voice and piano composed by Franz Schubert (Op. 1, 1821) on a poem by Goethe (1782). The lyrics deal with the supernatural kidnapping of a young boy the Erlking, the king of the fairies, a figure of Danish and German folklore. I don't know much about the video here, except that the baritone is the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. I think he does an excellent job with a harder piece, which has four distinct voices to it: the poem's narrator, the boy being abducted and begging for help, his determined father who is riding hard to save the lad, and the Erlking himself, who attempting to calm and seduce the boy as he rides away with him. The piano, with its rapid, galloping triplets, is striking and exciting. This is another piece, like last week's Danse macabre, that lives as an animation in my head.

You can read the original text of the poem (in German and in English) on its Wikipedia page. The musical setting is striking and exciting, and it's a Halloween favorite.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some More Halloween Food

I talked a little while ago about the Ghostbusters tie-in foods that came out over the summer, which I saw as the precursor to (hopefully) another Halloween season of fun junk food. So far this year, except for the return of my beloved Cheetos Bag O' Bones, there hasn't been much in the way of fun new trash.

Gizmo here decided it was time to try Hostess' offerings for 2016, and I have to say, it's a disappointment. Let's be honest: Twinkies aren't really that great. I was not one of the people who was angry a few years ago when it looked like Twinkies were going to go the way of the passenger pigeon. I did like last year's "Orange S'Cream" flavor and this year's "Key Lime Slime" variation, but overall, Twinkies are just kind of a shrug as far as pastries go.

Gizmo here is holding this year's Halloween Twinkie flavors: Chocolate Scream and Pumpkin Spice.

One of the things that's been really hilarious the past few Halloweens is the pumpkin spice craze. It's the funniest thing every year to watch grown folk get angry about a flavor. Like, of all the things that have a measurable, deleterious effect on the quality of your life, someone else enjoying a flavor you don't care for seems extremely low on the list.

Pumpkin spice isn't really reliable to me as a flavoring; there's a lot of variations in there. You get cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and then whatever the hell else seems vaguely spicy and autumnal. Now, I love me some pumpkin pie, but pumpkin spice in other stuff? I don't remember having anything with it that I cared much for. Some people love it, and that's cool, but I do think this year is probably going to be the last hurrah for pumpkin spice in every other limited edition food. It'll still be there in coffee and whatnot, but it's not going to be so ubiquitous. The world's going to move on to something else next year, I think.

Which is fine, because Pumpkin Spice Twinkies suck. Not a fan. The flavor is, if anything, somehow too sophisticated and nuanced for dry sponge cake and whipped cream. I tastes waxy and a little overwhelming. It just doesn't work.

As for Chocolate Scream, this seems like a no-brainer: chocolate cream in a Twinkie. That must have been done at some point and I'm just not remembering. And yet, these have the opposite problem: somehow the sponge cake is too moist, giving the whole thing a... well... sweaty feel. They're just kind of gross. Another miss.

You'll notice there's also a cupcake up there. It's just your garden variety Hostess Chocolate Cupcake with orange frosting for Halloween. It's fine. Hostess Cupcakes are okay any other time of the year--not like a real cupcake, but they're okay--and this doesn't add any other flavor. They're cute, but not a seasonal staple.

Halloween Oreos also came back. This doesn't add any variation to the Oreo flavor, either, but as I've said before, the holiday editions just taste fresher to me. And they have more filling. I don't eat Oreos any other time of the year except Halloween and Christmas, when I have a package around.

So, not a great junk food Halloween, but that's cool; I'm trying to keep an eye on how much junk I eat, so it works out in the end.

And I still have Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins, which are my fave Halloween candy, anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Muppet Monday

One of the weirdest/best episodes of The Muppet Show (episode 307) starred Alice Cooper. He spent the entire episode trying to steal the Muppets' souls for his dark master. The weirdest moment of the episode, and something I've never been able to forget, is this moment when Alice took this lovely lady monster aside and sang his sweet ballad "You and Me" with her. I always think the ability to act with the Muppets is underrated; the person acting opposite a Muppet is just as much a part of imbuing that Muppet with believable life as that Muppet's performer is. And here's Alice, singing this loving song about how sharing "a bed, some popcorn and TV" with this monster would make his life complete as though she were the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. It's amazing. It's weird. It's wonderful. It's the Muppets.

The monster, Beakie, is actually Miss Piggy transfigured by the Devil. Her singing is done by Louise Gold, but her speaking voice is Miss Piggy's voice, performed by Frank Oz, so it's unclear who is performing Beakie in this scene. But damn, what a scene.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Song of the Week: "Gimme Some Truth"

Because on October 9, I play John Lennon. Also, this song really works for what's turning out to be a very, very frustrating election year. Seriously, every four years my favorite season is marred by this nonsensical bullshit. And this is the worst election of my lifetime. Sadly, I say that every time. But every time it's more true than the last time!

HALLOWEEN: Tumblr Finds II