Speaking of monkeys, Jesse David Fox has a great interview with some of the people behind the fantastic Planet of the Apes musical episode from way back in the Simpsons’ 7th season. The Simpsons’ musical composer, Alf Clausen, discusses how he tries to bring some seriousness to the show:
I hearken back to something that was said to me a long time ago by a trumpet player who worked in the studios. He said to me, “You can’t vaudeville vaudeville.” The reason for that particular directive is that he said if you wanted to make something funny, you don’t use funny music to go there. You use music that is extremely serious.
Clausen expands on that with his interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross:
GROSS: When you’re writing a song parody are you trying to write it as if it were serious, as if it were really a Broadway show or really a movie theme?
CLAUSEN: Absolutely, not only in creating the songs, but in creating the underscore music for “The Simpsons” and trying to give credence to the emotional content of what the characters are saying. I’m always extremely serious, and I think what happens is that the the listener and observer gets pulled into the situation more effectively once the music is serious, so that when the gag finally comes, the gag then becomes twice as funny.
I think about the musical underscore for shows a lot, how they ham it up during emotional moments to further draw you in. It works.
Fresh Air recently recompiled their old interviews with Simpsons creators and you can read the rest of that episode’s transcript, but really you should listen to it. Here’s the Overcast link for the episode.
“They actually conducted surveillance. They followed him from his work to his house,” Feldstein says. “They staked out his house. They looked at it for vulnerabilities … [and dicussed] how they could plant poison in his aspirin bottle. They talked about how they could spike his drink and they talked about smearing LSD on his steering wheel so that he would absorb it through his skin and die in a hallucination-crazed auto crash.”
via Nixon’s Failed Attempts At ‘Poisoning The Press’ : NPR.
Generally when I look out on the surface of the Podcast listings on my iPhone I’m confronted with two things; NPR and Video Games. Neither of which are exactly expanding my listening horizons.
Every so often though, I find a few that fit within those publishing categories but also expand my interest and thinking. Here are three episodes listed in order of least-to-most video-gamey.
- Fresh Air from 1/28/09:
This episode continues the fine tradition of Terry Gross’ 30+ year tradition of excellence through interviews of cultural and intellectual icons. The recently deceased John Updike’s past Fresh Air appearances taking the place of the show’s usual format. I will admit to having never read one of Updike’s books, though after hearing this interview I am inspired to try them.
- What They Play from 02/03/09:
The meat of this episode has little to nothing to do with the usual content of this podcast, which is why I find it so surprising. The usually chipper host John Davison surprises us by being boring and uninterested in his own show to start, and then he throws out a substantial bit of discourse with ngmoco‘s CEO, Neil Young. Complete 180 from a usual What They Play episode, but not entirely unexpected from John Davison. Listen to this show if you have any interest in the iPhone gaming market. Then go download ngmoco’s great games if you haven’t already.
- A Life Well Wasted Episode 1:
Usually when you get to the most game-y side of discussion you’re prepared for unintelligible fart jokes and prattling on about the latest Gears of War in a round table format from a group of schmucks over Skype. I’m certainly no exception having contributed to that for a good while. Then along comes Robert Ashley to class the joint up without giving up any kind of personality. Though the subject matter of the first episode is kind of played out, it is a great example of what to expect from this new podcast in the future.
There you have it, three podcasts to which you most likely haven’t listened. Enjoy.