Sunday, May 19, 2002

Earlier this year, 7-UP replaced their spokesperson, Orlando Jones, with a newcomer, comedian Godfrey. Apparently there was a commercial spot a few months back explaining the switch, and how the old guy was "promoted". However if you missed that spot, all you can see now is a new actor attempting to portray the same speech patterns and bug-eyed expressions of the original (and popular) actor. You can almost hear the corporate advertising train of thought -- "We can't use Orlando anymore, but maybe if we throw in another guy that looks and acts the same, no one will notice. All white people think all black people look alike anyways."

It was another busy week here in northern Virginia, but I'm starting to get comfortable with my schedule. In my spare time, I read Erich Leinsdorf's The Composer's Advocate, a book which discusses composers and their craft from the conductor's perspective. It's an interesting argument about why conductors need to become more aware of the decisions that went into a composition for proper performance. Although many sections are pedantic descriptions of exact score examples, the book's more general sections are eye-opening, even from a composer's point of view. Take a look if you're a composer or conductor. Next on my reading list is A Beautiful Mind, the biography of John Nash (who was the subject of the recent movie by the same title).

In music, I bought The Best of Bobby McFerrin, and Dr. Demento's 30th Anniversary set last week. I hadn't heard any of McFerrin's work (other than the ubiquitous "Don't Worry Be Happy", and a lot of his vocal jazz work is amazing. Especially good on this CD is his track with Chick Corea, where he does a ten minute rendition of Spain. The Dr. Demento collection was hit-or-miss. I've always been a fan of novelty records, and there's some very funny material on the first disc, but the second disc is pretty much a throwaway. The funniest track in the collection is probably Dungeons and Dragons, a mockumentary of a typical D&D session which is hilarious if you've ever known anyone who actually played the game. I'll try and post an MP3 of it sometime.

The Alias season finale was last Sunday, and it ended very well -- enough closure to end the season but with just a few cliffhangers to be resolved next season. It was amusing to see the protagonist end the season tied to the same chair in the same setting that opened the pilot episode last fall. It's good that the networks are doing so badly with existing shows and ending old series. With shows like Ally McBeal and the X-Files finally coming to a close, ABC can't afford to cancel Alias, even though it definitely wasn't the number one ratings show this season. Now that it's on the program for next year, maybe it will attract some more Nielsen families in time for a third season.

The Friends season finale was last week too. Even though it's still usually funny, I really think the show should have ended this season.

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