Strange Soundtrack

[Yes, apparently I’m on an S-alliterative title kick. No, I’m not going to change it.]

Wanna change your perspective on a weird, annoying, unproductive Monday morning? Take a long walk over the bridge in the beautiful, 68-degree weather—nothing but clear blue skies, a light breeze…and the Beetlejuice main title music playing in a loop on your iPod.

Seriously, that assigned a whole new outlook on the day. Looking at the world through Burton-colored glasses. I have a feeling the smile I wore would best be described as “disconcerting.” At least, I hope so.

I haven’t had a good soundtrack moment like that in a while, where the music makes you feel like you’re strutting along as the main character in your own movie. And Beetlejuice. I mean, this is not your typical action hero story or dramatic feature. This is exciting and weird: the dark, bouncing tuba and the swirling strings and clarinet, and the manic, suddenly storming trumpets. Danny Elfman’s music is a major part of the Tim Burton signature style: dark, wry and melodramatic, as well as self-deprecating, funny and sweet.

Much like myself.

…or so I enjoyed thinking as I marched over the bridge, tight-lipped smirk, inflating the world’s standard, suburban abnormalities into charming, grotesque cartoonishness: the blubbery runner; the old man on the recumbent tricycle; the gaggle of sinewy gargoyles pushing jogging strollers.

Like the movie’s weird dirt-moving machine clawing at the lawn as the Deetzes begin their renovations, or when the swirling dust from the guys sanding the wall turns into an eerie fog when Lydia first climbs the stairs to the attic.


All the office stuff turns, too, from everyday plod to quirky and creepy. The IT issues and medical revelations aren’t the standard and boring things that happen every day in every office everywhere; they’re indicators of darker, weirder things at work. Everything is funhouse mirrored.

A coworker just ordered a singing telegram for her husband. I desperately want it to involve a Harry Belafonte song.

I like things that shade your outlook like that—assign you a perspective instead of looking at the world from every possible angle with no rhyme or reason or restriction (which, by the way, is my brain’s favorite pastime). I tend to go all John Nash trying to solve the world like a math equation—like in A Beautiful Mind, when he’s looking at newspapers and documents trying to string together different clues, but they’re really just schitzophrenic impulses that have no larger meaning. It’s nice to let something else take charge, to quell that impulse to try to fit pieces together endlessly and simplify the world into a single, recognizable shade:

This is what the world looks like. This is my movie.

And it’s fucking weird.


1 Comment

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One response to “Strange Soundtrack

  1. Gotta say, I like all your articles, but this one I particularly love. “Funhouse mirrored” is the perfect way to describe it.

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