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Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman: The Last of the Mohicans—Promontory (1992)

One of my favourite pieces of cinematic music; the base tune is actually adapted from a portion of “The Gael”, written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean in 1990. MacLean, in turn, was probably influenced by a much older melody which appears frequently in songs collectively known as “Las Folías de España“, widely adapted by a number of Baroque composers (Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli).  It has also been adapted more recently by Trevor Morris for Season 1 of The Tudors (his version is called “A Historic Love“).


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The Nutcracker: Mouse King / battle scene

As performed by the North Atlanta Dance Theatre, circa 2006. The audio and video quality isn’t the greatest, but for my money this clip’s choreography best captures the scene as I remember it from my own childhood. And since this is dance, choreography wins.

The Mouse King gets to ham it up a lot, and is pretty entertaining.

I’m more than a little disappointed that here in Toronto, the National Ballet of Canada is still cranking out James Kudelka’s bowdlerised version which replaces the “tin soldiers versus mice” battle for one where cat archers fight mouse archers. It’s not entirely clear to me why Kudelka needed to have the toy soldiers excised; E.T.A. Hoffman’s original story (upon which the ballet is based) is called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It’s what you might call a key plot point.

Keeping the story but modernising the costumes—bringing them up to contemporary times, as many artistic directors love to do with Shakespeare—would probably have been a non-starter. If that course had been taken, then the title character would look like… well, like that image to the right. And one can imagine how many parents might get the vapours if kids onstage were dressed in ACUs.  Still, it’s a shame to fundamentally alter key scenes just because one deems 19th century toy soldiers less relevant than cats and mice; such is the anemic cultural memory of our times. It is not as if kids have stopped playing at war; the average kid has probably played a half-dozen Battlefield or Call of Duty games on their gaming consoles.

Oh, and because you may find it useful this Christmas season:

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Porcelain Black: This Is What Rock n’ Roll Looks Like (2011)

I can’t help but chortle when I listen to this song; the combination of multiple incongruities adds up to a sort of juvenile entertainment.

Imagine Chad Kroeger or Scott Stapp had a kid sister who was trying her damnedest to emulate their scratchy singing voices, all while dressing like Taylor Momsen and mistaking the bass line of a mid-90s Real McCoy club track for genuine rock and roll.  (I am a guy who can enjoy dance pop tracks, but they are not rock and roll.)

Any one of these things on their own would be less than noteworthy, but mashed all together they make me chuckle.

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Desert Birds by Werner Bartsch

The Mojave and Sonoran deserts are home to a variety of civil and military aircraft “boneyards”—vast storage areas for craft too old or expensive to fly.  Most airplanes that find themselves in such a location will be recycled in one way or another.  Either a decades-long living death, cannibalised by parts for still-flying brethren, or—when there are no useful organs left to transplant—they may be cut up for scrap.

German photographer Werner Bartsch has taken a journey through these boneyards and amassed a collection of pretty, melancholic images.  These were published in the book Desert Birds, whose first edition was released in Europe in October of 2010; the North American release is scheduled for September of 2011.

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