Welcome back to 'lite music' month at MTD. Today I've posted the stunningly tastelessly titled 'MUSIC TO CHANGE HER MIND', a Jackie Gleason orchestral outing. Gleason was very clever about creating and marketing these 'mood music' albums and he had about as much to do with their making as most Executive Producers have to do with the movies they get their names on. But without the Great One, we wouldn't have the albums that allow us to do a Cosby/Trump/Weinstein on women who presumably look like the above model.

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Carmen Cavallero was, along with Eddy Duchin, the ultimate antecedent and role model for Liberace, an arpeggio-spinning, glissando-wielding, sustaining-pedal obsessed 'light' pianist. As part of my continuing education in the world of 'society pianists'--which is my planned next career--I offer this faintly absurd 45RPM recording of Cavallero doing selections from the immortal 'Guys and Dolls' score by Frank Loesser. I can only imagine Loesser's reaction to the record--though he may well have liked it as it doesn't jazz things up and thus impinge on his vaunted melodies. The Latin playboy Cavallero, by the way, was in fact born in Brooklyn as Max Calvinsky and was the son of a singing waiter on Delancey Street named Baruch Calvinsky. His mother was a seamstress named Sadie Calvinsky (nee Porchnik). And Bob' Cavallero's your uncle.

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Ha. Got you with that tweet, didn't I? Yeah, I'm posting a Ferrante and Teichner album of the 'greatest movie love themes ever'. You want to make something of it? In searching for a new artistic venture to pour my exhausted self into, I've been enjoying 'easy listening' piano albums of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Why shouldn't they make a comeback? I don't mean in some snarky hipper-than-thou 'aren't-we-having-fun-doing-retro-art' kind of way. I mean good old-fashioned two-piano albums (must be on vinyl, natch) accompanied by lush strings, exotic horns, harps, peculiar percussion etc. I see it as a natural extension of the odd popularity now enjoyed by Michael Buble and Jamie Cullum, the latter of whom was/is a straight up jazz guy who seems to have grabbed onto a wave of populist musical enjoyment. Art is all about cycles and why shouldn't this once-popular style be revived? And if so, who better to revive it than a burnt out filmmaker who owns multiple pianos and doesn't really have any other marketable skills? Why not me? Huh? Why why why why why not me, dammit?!

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Did I sound annoyed when I finished yesterday's post? Did I not truly enjoy making my eighth movie? The answer is yes and no. A number of well-meaning friends and readers reached out to me, perturbed by my fickle feelings about my profession and my apparently surly tone in describing (or failing to describe, more accurately) the filmmaking experience I just survived.

Let me put it this way: now that the fun factor has disappeared from the work, the work factor has increased. I can't make something that is going to fall below the standards I've set for myself over the past twenty years. I also can no longer expect the experience to be a social one. More and more, directing has become a largely asocial activity, wherein I collaborate specifically with actors and a DP, with good support from a crew and an occasional (I hope) suggestion from the producers. But the party-down aspect of the whole endeavor--essential when I was a twenty-something year-old fellow--is not only missing, it's unwanted. Sort of. There are days when I do dearly wish the whole thing had a little taste of fun, that there was still a wee bit of excitment in the endeavor. But ultimately the work is the work, the reward is in getting it right (or hoping you're getting it right) and enjoying the contributions made by the actors and crew. And in going the fuck home after ten hours of turgid, unremitting, totally stressful and only occasionally enjoyable work. But I love it, of course.

Having now clarified all of that, is anyone interested in hiring an experienced Jazz Lounge pianist?

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Above is a short, pleasant and slightly haunting clip of Rock Hudson discussing 'Giant', Elizabeth Taylor and director George Stevens. Hudson was in his mid fifties when this was shot and would shortly be dead of AIDS. He's awfully genial and his smile and demeanor really do make you want to join him for a cup of java and a calming heart-to-heart about whatever issue you might have on your mind. In other words, he's precisely the opposite of the granite-jawed emotionless stiff that he came across as an actor (Doris Day movies excepted). His description of the 'liquid gathering' that he had with Liz Taylor prior to a memorably emotional scene filmed only a couple of hungover hours later is quite amusing and his description of Stevens as a director is moving and admirably...er...admiring.

Speaking of directing, by the way, I just finished shooting my eight movie as director. The less said the better. Oye.

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