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Las Vegas

from Wednesday, December29th of the year2010.

So I totally lost my mind the other day. I had about seven thousand things going on; I had written more music in 2 months than I had in the previous year, my mother was moving to town for a month, there was mild puppy-related chaos in the home, and I had a mild sleep disorder. Magically, a weekend opened up, and I booked a flight and a hotel in Las Vegas. Goals: recharging the batteries through cultural vapidity. Going to a place with a million empty signifiers is always enormously relaxing for me; CNN, RAI1, Univision, wall-to-wall carpeting, buffets: it’s all very soothing. So! Off to Vegas I went. I decided, because it seemed meet and right so to do, to see the Cirque du Soleil show called that was directed by Robert Lepage, who did the new Ring cycle at the Met, which I really liked (at least the Rhinegold, which is the only one open at this time.)

Now, has, like, a $2579 million budget or something crazy, and they serve 32 oz. margaritas right there, with cupholders, so I was like, table for two! Girl. This show is amazing. Acrobatics, flying, falling, this unbelievable stage, the sense of infinity below a stage, which is really hard to achieve. But you will never, in your entire life, hear worse music ever. This shit is like, racist, fucked up, synthesized, terribly mixed, disastrous. It’s like those Québecois munchkins from Willow got a beta version of Garage Band, drank some maple schnapps, and went to town while watching Tampopo. I was shock. There was, on stage, a plot-element wherein some kind of children had a flute which they played, and the flute itself was synthesized! And not just synthesized; we’re talking 1992 General MIDI shakuhachi, and one thinks to oneself, for however many millions of dollars, you can’t do better than this? Send me $2,000 and I promise you, I will fix at least that part of it in 72 hours. It was really galling given how gorgeously rendered the stagecraft was; I don’t think I have ever seen any technology so elegantly merged with moving bodies on a stage, but then to have this pan flute from digital hell…

The other thing I saw recently, in the department of giant spectacles, was the penultim8 Harry Potter movie, which was totally great. Fun, loud, big, IMAX, etc. I went in the middle of the day which is so great. Pretty cool score. The thing that I still have yet to figure out is how these writers and directors haven’t figured out that while it’s great that it’s the UN of races scampering around these films, it’s no gay people and it’s completely stupid. English boarding school is where they make gay people from scratch – 4get nature/nurture — and while I am delighted to see hella black people (who are terribly color corrected, by the way) and Indians (albeit with their cobra-phobias, which I will leave alone), and those deeliteful Jamaican shrunken heads (?) everybody is completely crazy because it should be wild faggots up in those films, awesome at magic and deftly translating those dreadful French peoples’ prattle.

I should also say, though, that there is this amazing film-within-a-film in Harry Potter that tells an important story that is, I think, the most gorgeous thing I have seen on a screen in a while. It’s paper shadow-puppetry, but not Indonesian; it feels quite European in its shapes, and folksy without being Kuntry Kitchen, and completely appropriate for the film while maintaining a really tactile and individual profile. It’s made by a firm called Framestore whose logo and website are too awful for me to properly continue exploring who they might be, but I think they might be Swiss? I mean, really, how can you make so beautiful a video and have that be your logo? What is this, a ransom note? People are crazy.

Whatever. I’m going to listen to Russian Orthodox Music and pretend it’s all fine.

Thou Art Blessed, O Lord
Chesnokov 2nd Requiem
Cantus Sacred Music Ensemble


  • I totally want to buy this for you as a belated xmas gift. (I think it is actually horrible, but still)

  • That shadow-puppet interlude actually reminded me a lot of Lotte Reiniger’s work, whose film “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” I believe is, incidentally, the oldest known animated film and is totally gorgeous.

  • […] Hilarious take on Cirque du Soleil "music": RT: @nicomuhly: I blogged about it: http://nic… […]

  • For what it’s worth, JK Rowling came out and said Dumbledore is/was gay. So there’s that.

  • “everybody is completely crazy because it should be wild faggots up in those films”

    That’s the kind of quote you post on Facebook without any explanation or author, and watch as 100 comments are submitted instantaneously.

  • I heart you, Nico Muhly. Reading this post totally made my day.

  • “English boarding school is where they make gay people from scratch…” – another comment doomed to resonate around the halls of Facebook. Actually, it’s the closeted cloisters of US military colleges that are renowned for that.

    Seriously, aren’t you forgetting that the Harry Potter phenomenon was written for kids, not adults? Kids means no gays more or less, particularly when you remember that the books were written by the prudish JK Rowling.

  • I am pleased to remind you that a while ago J.K Rowling announced Dumbledore was gay, so there’s that.

  • Those were EXACTLY my thoughts on Ka. Like, word for word. Except maybe the maple schnapps part, that’s all you.

  • I seriously dropped my jaw when I saw that short film in the Harry Potter movie. I remember going to see it with a friend of mine, and we were both blown away. Loved. It.

    PS: The rest of this post made me laugh loud enough to wake up the other people in the house. And it’s New Year’s Eve. And it’s now 11:59pm EST. So if nothing else I woke them up for the ball drop.

  • Kà review HA HA HA HA hahahahahah!
    Harry Potter : do you know
    Lotte Reiniger?
    I will go see this movie!

    Last: haven’t you noticed that NYC is run by Jews and Gay men? I have. And I’m neither.
    I hope that makes you feel a little better. . .

  • Funny stuff! When u on comedy central?

  • Except for Dumbledore, only Muggles are allowed to be gay. You might find Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys” more realistic, where the English teacher takes his favorite boys on motorcycle rides fondling their genitals, where one of the boys spends much of the play mooning after another, and where the new history teacher plainly lusts after the same boy (who wasn’t particularly attractive in the Broadway cast and film version), and almost gets a chance to give the boy a blow job were it not that he winds up paralyzed after riding on a motorcycle with the English teacher.

  • i was just in vegas! so sad we missed each other. it sounds like the strip was just what you needed 🙂

  • lol@framestore

    They’re just round the corner from me in London. I have to look at that hideous logo writ large over glass everyday. A running joke.

    Love this blog, love the surreptitious musical education I receive. Shame I missed the organ recital at Westminster Abbey t’other day.

    Bad music= why I will never see Cirque. Completely agree that the music is so pastiche it’s racist.

  • Maple schnapps says it all.

  • Hi Nico,
    Framestore is English.


  • I just thought I’d second Kate’s motion.

    And you should come down to Tennessee May first.

  • Good recipes here. Bookmarked.