O Fortuna

Fair warning:  There is no point to any of the following.  I haven’t written anything in over a month and seem to have lost the muscle memory already so I thought I’d write something random about my morning.

I’m sitting in my office listening to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.  The movement that opens and closes the piece is called O Fortuna and it has the singular distinction of being the first bit of classical music to give me the nerd boner, though that has to be because when I first heard it, I was watching John Boorman’s Excalibur (which, for my money, was the best sword and sorcery movie ever made up until Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings movies).

The use of O Fortuna in Excalibur is fucking brilliant.  You’ve just sat through twenty to thirty minutes of dark, depressing England and people crawling around in the mud and the kingdom slowly falling apart and oh my God, why doesn’t someone kill that laughing little fuck in the golden armor, and finally – FINALLY – Percival retrieves the Holy Grail and gives it to Arthur, who sacks up and decides to be king again.  He and the remaining knights ride off to war and as they do, the land begins to heal and the sun comes out and the music swells and it’s just a great scene that promises an excellent battle where someone will finally kill that laughing little fuck in the golden armor.  And the movie very kindly delivers on that promise.

So yeah, I’m listening to this great music and as I listened to the opening bit it occurred to me it must be one of the most frequently played pieces of classical music ever.  I think it used to be played every time Ozzy took the stage at his concerts (it might still be for all I know) and I’m positive I’ve heard it used in at least one television commercial.  I most recently saw it used in the movie The Doors, which I just saw for the first time a few weeks ago (the scene where Morrison does the “I have to drink blood to get hard” devil dance).  Now would be an appropriate time to mention how much I dislike Oliver Stone but only because I have a long-standing policy of doing so at every possible opportunity.

When I was a kid, I’d hear O Fortuna and it would fill my head with nerd visions, bringing to life the various works of Howard, Lovecraft, Tolkien, Lewis, Moorcock, Carter & de Camp, Weiss & Hickman, and others too numerous to keep listing.  I’d hear the music and in my mind’s eye I’d see dragons setting fire to acres of screaming warriors on a battle field the size of Los Angeles, the earth soaking wet with blood…typical adolescent nerd fare, I’m sure you get the idea.  And yet, twenty five years later, not one of those visions seems as strange or as far fetched as the idea of listening to that music while sitting in an office and filling out customs paperwork to send a small box of butt plugs to Thailand.

Life, as ever, is quite strange.