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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Recording of 'Black Thunder' from the Kimmel Center

For everyone who couldn't make it to the Poetry Project concert at the Kimmel Center last week (or for those who want to hear my piece again), here is a recording of Black Thunder taken on the night. Enjoy!

And some reviews/mentions are in:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: "In the second half, Luke Stromberg's marvelous poem "Black Thunder," about the aftereffects of drink, was given an appropriately bluesy haze by Melissa Dunphy."

  • John Clare: "Notable was Melissa Dunphy's Black Thunder. Not only is she a friend, it turns out she is a delightful composer, writing very idoimatic for piano trio and baritone, but also with great sensitivity for the words and music."

  • Lesley Valdes, WRTI Critic-At-Large: "Melissa Dunphy's setting of Luke Stromberg's Black Thunder reflects the extravagance and paranoia of young love and its powerful ending."

Friday, January 18, 2008


There are a few things that still need cleaning up and implementing, but welcome to my new site! Updates to follow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Brunettes into Blondes

Something that occurs to me, while I'm on the subject of Tim Burton movies, is that this is the third Burton movie I have seen in which he takes an actress who looks her best in short, straight naturally dark hair, and gives her long blonde curly locks which look horrendous. See: Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands, Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow, and now Laura Michelle Kelly in Sweeney Todd.

Sweeney, SWEENEY

I saw Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd the other night. It was ... okay. I will concede that this musical was written to be directed by Tim Burton, or maybe that Tim Burton was born to direct this musical. And I love the music. But ... as much as I admire Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Depp, I just didn't buy them as singing stars. It smacked of Moulin Rouge, which is not to say it was anywhere near as bad as that turd, but smacking of a turd is never a good thing.

What bothered me most of all, to the point where it was all I could hear, and I was gritting my teeth and swallowing hard in an effort not to hiss, was that Depp kept closing off his N's all the bloody time.

"But there's no place like Lonnnnnnnnnnndonnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!"

"Not onnnnnnnnnnne mannnnnnnnnnn, no, nor tennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn mennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, nor a hunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnndred can assuage me."

Jesus Christ, was there not one real singer on set to tell him that this sounds like balls?

I think the kid who played Toby was probably the best thing about this movie. Him, and the blood. Oh, and Sasha Baron-Cohen's penis.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Black Man versus the White Woman

There is no doubt that American culture is both racist and sexist. I think it's more sexist than racist.

Observe that black men were able to vote in the USA in 1870, almost fifty years before that same right was extended to women by the nineteenth amendment in 1919. It seems plain to me that that same lag is true today, particularly, of course, in considering the campaign race for the Democratic presidential nominee.

The worst tragedy, in my mind, is that the culture of oppression of women is so insidious and pervasive that women do a fine job openly oppressing themselves. On NPR, I have heard vox pops segments in which women claim that the USA shouldn't have a female president - that it gives an impression of weakness on the world stage in a dangerous time. Can you imagine a black person saying that the United States shouldn't have a black president for the same reasons?

While women are among the strongest supporters of Hillary Clinton, they are also among her most vehement detractors. I don't buy speculation that this has anything whatsoever to do with her policies. This is an election based on hearts, not heads. And it seems some women's hearts are stuck quite firmly and openly in a subservient position.

God help black women.

I suppose I have fairly "radical" views when it comes to American politics. I come from a country where quality education is cheap or free, people are willing to pay higher taxes for better public services, and socialized health care is the norm. While I may be significantly further left on the political spectrum than the Clintons, I know that sudden "radical" change isn't feasible. When students protested in Beijing in 1989, they didn't achieve any kind of freedom for themselves; in fact, they made their situation far worse as the government tightened controls and further suppressed their rights. The vast majority of the Chinese population today - even the educated students - haven't even seen the pictures of a lone man standing before a tank which are so famous in the West. The real changes that have occurred in China in the last twenty years have been made slowly by liberal progressives within the Communist Party, with minimum chaos and upheaval. It's the same process of change that has occurred in this country, in the opposite political direction, with the rise of the neocons. If we are to reverse this process, it needs to be done slowly, and electing a "centrist" may well be what needs to happen. Even if she's further right than Nixon.

Now you've seen it all - I, the stereotypical Arian Monkey with a penchant for living as quickly as possible, am advocating patience. Am I growing up?

Hopefully I'll live another fifty years and be around to see the day when a female American president will have a chance.