Yo-Yo Ma, Lee van Cleef, and the Kirby conundrum

(rerun of a favorite from my old blog)

Yo-Yo Ma is amazing, and so is his name. Imagine the odds of being able to play the cello like that AND having the name Yo-Yo. It’s gotta be something like five or six billion to one. I am listening, as I type, to a beautiful Yo-Yo CD of music by film composer Ennio Morricone. It’s lovely — even the number from Sergio Leone’s 1967 film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I remember seeing the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns when I was a kid at the drive-in movies. Dad had a need to see everything Eastwood did, however inappropriate for kids. The spaghetti westerns seemed so intense back then. Lee van Cleef had the look. Gian Maria Volonte had the look. Everyone in those films had the look. Leone’s Eastwood films were all about the look, baritone guitars, guns that sounded like a Kirby vacuum on speed. They scared me back then. Now they are hilarious. I saw For a Few Dollars More a couple of years ago at the cool theatre in Austin, Texas called the Alamo Draft House. It was Spaghetti Western night with all-you-can-eat spaghetti. The place was packed with a hip crowd that woofed spaghetti and howled at “the look” and Leone’s stylistic editing. I laughed so hard I hurt. I also ate more spaghetti and salad than one adult should be permitted. I was begging Clint to shoot me at the one hour mark. There is something special about seeing an extremely dated, highlighy stylized movie with an audience that milks it for laughs. I remember a couple of really bad films, The Slugger’s Wife and the ’80’s remake of The Blob. I thought both were terrible (I knew going in The Blob would be) and both times I was fortunate to watch the films with New York City audiences that treated the screen like a failing comic. The laughter was intoxicating and non-stop. One guy in the back row at The Slugger’s Wife howled every time there was an overly melodramatic scene (often in that movie). It would always cause waves of laughter to flow over the audience. I saw The Blob remake in Times Square at a theatre that held maybe 50 people. The room funneled down to a front row three seats wide with a screen about the size of a projection television. The guy in front of me provided expressive commentary through the entire film — stuff like, “Run you idiots! It’s coming!!” or “It’s right behind you, moron!!” At the time, it made the movie for me. I don’t think I ever enjoyed going to the movies more. Maybe there is a business model in there somewhere. Bad Movies Buffet with Cacophonous Commentary! All you can eat and giggles galore!

So yea, that Yo-Yo CD is quite nice.

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