I see there’s a new translation of “Aladdin,” and I’m a bit tempted. Some observations:
From the printed versions I’ve read, the original Aladdin is precisely as different from his Disney rendition as the original Pinocchio is from his Uncle Walt treatment. Primarily in being almost repulsively unpleasant characters with a lot more doom and violence swirling around them. Since I saw the animated version of Wooden Head well before I read the source, it was a searing jolt to make the adjustment. Then I realized, whoah. Carlo Collodi’s story has survived for a reason — it’s scary, even harrowing, like the best of the oldest fairy tales.
With Aladdin, the most profound change is with the genie — fables often suggest that genies take on the personality of their Masters and Aladdin’s is a monster. Couldn’t have that on the big screen, of course, and it’s a testament to Robin Williams’s genius that he incarnated a non-insipid alternative. Finally, I have to concur that “Aladdin” is merely lumped in with the so-called “Arabian Nights” — it reads different and tells a story in a way that none of the others do.
I said that this blog is a place to throw out issues great and small that I haven’t sorted out as an arts critic. So here’s another.
I notice that as I’ve gotten older I’m less drawn to performers who do not seem to have any clear path to growing up in their youthful work. I recently went back over some ’80s Memphis Garage Rockers anthologies and those seem delightful rampages — but frozen in time, which is fine. Into the ’90s releases I have more and more hunger for songwriters and players that are not stuck on a road to playing what they were at 18 when they’re 36, and that’s all they got.
I’m at the same time reacting heavily to the glorification of oldies (both as releases and performances). Is this merely giving in to the idea of pop music as a career process rather than a cosmic spasm of the soul? Is this because an increasing chunk of what I find contemporary sounds have no age references? Is this because anger and assimilation are no longer landmarks on a tidy age line?
I got a malware pitch this week that tried to ask me “If I had any advice to blog writers.”
Sorry, evil machine, no direct response to you. But not the worst question. Because a quite simple answer came to me, which was of course an intention of the twisted bot pitch.
For me, blogs are:
Basically, the oldest message I’ve sent out on the Interwebs — don’t write/post/whatever you would not say on the open street where anyone could hear you. But try to hold an active, varied, funny conversation that entertains and provokes ideas and new interests.
I can do quick, informal reviews of whatever I want here, old or new. And I’m very gratified that these are now considered real journalism of very informal sort. That’s fun, and the fun is what I want to preserve.
Two final birthday notes. Instead of assembling a knockout-album soundtrack, my birthday surprise this year was that I played a record for one of my favorite intriguing reasons: I could not remember a single thing about it (happens when you dig into the hard-to-reach back stacks of CDs). Turned out to be very intelligent and very entertaining:
The soundtrack for a documentary about Cuban National Art Schools (!!) that combines Cuban and classical avant-gardes from a fellow who does many TV soundtracks (??). Anyway, 20 quite short tracks that keep you swaying and bopping along the whole way. Check it. Sooner than I did.
Next, an afternoon drive in the cold sunshine where again and again I recalled that one of the last times my Mother spoke to me was on my birthday the year she passed away (about six months later). She was far from lucid then, but suddenly she came out with this:
“I remember the first time I saw you — when they placed you, wrapped up, on the counter next to me.” (This was the era of anesthesia childbirth.) She had never, ever, said this to me before.
I remember the plain little rooms of the pre-hospital “medical center” where I was born. And yes, at least a few times each year on this day, the two of us are back there.