Sunday, March 5, 2017

Duncan Blah,blah

"Duncan Black has more readers in a day than you'll ever get in a year."

- First, having readers requires something Duncan gave up a long time ago, writing.  

- Second, one of the most obvious things we know from TV and pop culture is that content free crap sells.  That's why you can come across lists of most famous bad writers and they're the most famous better bad writers who didn't sell a fraction of the best selling churners out of crap.  

- Third, he doesn't care at all if his for-profit blog carries lies.  That makes him a total jerk.  

I'm not shocked that a few generally good writers have, mostly in the distant past, had nice things to say about his blog, mostly based on that distant past.  Bad habits are easy to develop and hard to break.  

As I'm writing this the radio tells me that LA Theater Works is having on the total piece of crap "Amadeus" by the total horse's ass Peter Shaffer.  I wish I had a dollar for every mid-brow, college grad who has believed that piece of total nonsense was accurate history.   I'll bet that easily, by at least a hundred to one, more of such people are familiar with that piece of theater-cinema crap than who would voluntarily listen to one of Mozart's Quartets or Quintets or who have ever listened to anything more than his ten most popular works. 


  1. Rather like "Inherit the Wind" was meant to be an examination of McCarthyism, "Amadeus" was meant to be an exploration of the nature of "genius", at least the Romantic notion of "genius" (one that wasn't applied to Mozart in his lifetime, as it didn't exist then).

    Not saying it succeeded at that, and I've heard the play called musically illiterate before; but I think Sam Goldwyn (reportedly) was right: if you want to send a message, call Western Union.

    Trying to do it in a format meant to be popular entertainment seldom works out very well.

  2. I'm allergic to the use of real people and real history to make fiction. Here's a review of the movie that put it well, though I think it exaggerates Mozart's vulgarity.

    Salieri (F Murray Abraham) opens the film by cutting his own throat. This is based on a rumour spread by Ludwig van Beethoven's nephew, Karl, but there is no evidence for it – meaning Amadeus gets its first inaccuracy in before the opening credits. Salieri did reportedly sustain a minor knife wound to his neck after being committed to Vienna's general hospital on suffering a breakdown in 1823. In his deranged state, he was also said to have confessed to killing Mozart – though, when he regained some of his senses, he denied it. In the film, a priest arrives at the hospital to hear his confession, and gets an earful about how God reneged on a pact Salieri made: he would offer God his chastity, and God would give him musical genius. In real life, this wouldn't have worked too well. Salieri was not, as the film suggests, a sexually frustrated, dried-up old bachelor. He had eight children by his wife, and is reputed to have had at least one mistress.

    Vague rumours of a rivalry between Mozart and Salieri were whipped up by the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin, whose short play Mozart and Salieri (1830) depicted the latter murdering the former onstage. Amadeus takes up Pushkin's theme of deadly rivalry, though it isn't quite as inaccurate. Instead, it shows Salieri sabotaging Mozart's career. At one point, Mozart did believe that a "cabal" opposed him, but neither Salieri nor anyone else succeeded in making Mozart's operas fail. So enraptured were the audiences of The Marriage of Figaro, which the film implies was a flop, that the emperor was obliged to restrict its encores after the first three performances. Don Giovanni, shown in the film as an even floppier flop, was an immediate and sensational hit.

    A couple of hours into the movie, all but the most saintly of viewers will have had enough of Mozart's toilet humour, boundless arrogance and intensely irritating laugh; a few may even be hoping Salieri will just poison the gibbering nitwit already. He doesn't, but he does try to freak Mozart out by dressing up as his dead father and commissioning the Requiem. The Requiem was really commissioned by Count Walsegg-Stuppach, who did try to keep it a secret, though Mozart almost certainly knew his identity. Salieri did not, as the film suggests, assist in writing it, though Franz Xaver Süssmayr did. Meanwhile, Mozart was on good terms with Salieri at the time of his death, inviting him to The Magic Flute and writing warmly of him in his diary. Later, Salieri gave his bereaved younger son free music lessons.

  3. When black thoughts come your way, uncork the champagne
    Bottle, or re-read the Marriage of Figaro:

    1. “If a literary man puts together two words about music, one of them will be wrong." Aaron Copland If it' Peter Shaffer it will be both of them, if it's Ken Russell, even more of them will be.

  4. This is hardly unique to drama - Shakespeare's histories are most certainly not the stuff of scholarship. A person's inability to distinguish between the stage and the world around it is a problem much deeper than anything Peter Shaffer has written. Those who think Mozart and Tom Hulce are the same person are a symptom of uncritical thinking. It's the reason people used to ask George Clooney for medical advice. One can enjoy 'Amadeus' as entertainment without thinking it's an accurate representation of the men or their work.

    1. I suppose one can, the problem of people who mistake stuff they see in movies and on TV for reality are all too real and, as the election of Donald Trump proves, it can be disastrous in real life. Given that fact, I don't think that it can be entertaining is any excuse for a theatrical writer to lie about real people and history.

      Personally, I think Peter Shaffer was a pretty crappy writer just as most of those who write for the theater, TV and the movies are. Crap sells, reality is a harder sell.