Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

I was sick last week. I’m talking about that debilitating kind of sick where the brain gets loopy and the only remotely worthwhile thing you can bring yourself to do involves grabbing a bunch of blankets and pillows and setting up camp on the couch in front of the television set. Did you know that last week was International TV Turnoff Week? No lie. And here I was spending hours on end basking in the idiot box’s eerie glow, punishing my inner channel surfer by holding steady on such dumb-ass things as Celebrity Cooking Showdown. Being a Lidia’s Family Table addict myself, the premise sounded good—cooking, yeah, I like cooking—but I could only stomach about three minutes of the elevated testosterone levels pumped into this mess of what I guess was supposed to be a cooking competition during which, get this, the viewers decide the winner. Surely you’d think that actually tasting the food might factor in here, but no. Thankfully, the show was pulled after its third airing.

I think what ultimately led to the show’s demise was the bizarre sportscaster commentary that blasted away while some little-known B-list celeb multitasked sautéing duck breasts and mincing fresh herbs. These announcements were delivered with more dire excitement than you hear watching the NBA playoffs. Needless to say, the juxtaposition was utterly wrong. Every cook knows that oil and vinegar can emulsify into a divine tang on the palate, but this network blunder proved one thing: cooking and sports don’t easily mix.

In the culinary fusion revolution, it’s becoming more common to see unthinkable collisions like Japanese and Mexican cuisines commingling with brilliant results. But musically, we’re still faced with a few faux pas. I haven’t yet heard a convincing hip-hop orchestra piece, and maybe I never will. This weekend at the Vox Festival, we get to find out if techno and opera make good bedfellows thanks to Mason Bates’s California Fictions. Love the title. So, um, good luck with that man. I hope it works out.

Of course, sometimes a hodgepodge of elements so diametrically irreconcilable comes along and you just have to embrace it with a certain pathos, at least until it grows on you and becomes your new favorite weird guilty pleasure. Case in point: Final Fantasy (a.k.a. Owen Pallet). What happens when you combine wispy indie-boy vocals and string quartet with elements of video game music, a heavy dose of musical theater, Dungeons & Dragons, all executed with an over-the-top sense of drama along with a certain gay flair? It’s called He Poos Clouds. You can take a listen to this magical train wreck for yourself here. Just goes to show, sometimes you can get everything so wrong that, in the end, it winds up actually working—it’s that proverbial Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup effect. Hmm, maybe orchestra musicians will learn how to beatbox sometime in the near future.

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