It has been awhile. I’ve been pretty slammed. I started a remote job and it involves a ton of writing and editing, which has kept me busy. I also wrote a piece for Sophisticated Living magazine and have another freelance thing that I am working on now.
Before I started the remote job, I finished two freelance gigs. One is with this woman who is a bit nuts. She has a foundation, and, to be honest, I am not really sure what it does. She means well, but I think she’s a bored rich person looking for an excuse to feel better. I’ve turned in all my stuff for her but am living vicariously by reading the insane emails she has been sending to the graphics team. All I can say is that if I ever get a lot of money I won’t be nuts.
On top of this, I kept my piddly retail gig. It’s only 15 hours a week and it gives me a little income in case the temp writing thing ends abruptly. The downside is that I have 3 coworkers who think COVID is nothing and won’t get vaccinated. It’s pretty infuriating.
Getting vaccinated is not supposed to be this hard. I had to work my ass off to get it scheduled and it was amazingly comforting to get it. There is an emotional release of anxiety that dissipates after you get jabbed. It’s a sense of relief, a feeling of security, and a renewed sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, you won’t die after all.
I am thankful to be fully vaccinated. Normally, I would not say I am not a joiner, but in this instance, sure, why the Hell not? I know I will probably need another booster or even a shot annually, but at this point, I am fine with that. This thing is bad news and it’s real.
On a positive note, it is good to see St. Louis begin to rally a little bit and become a community around getting vaccinated. I only wish the city would come together more, across aisle, boundaries, and classes. It would be so great if we were not so divided.
Having said that, the arts are doing some amazing thing right now and artists are not resting, they are doing some cool stuff right now. So are our local musicians!
I have read a lot about Lincoln but I have not read much on John Brown. I knew about Harper’s Ferry and his dedication to ending slavery. I also knew he advocated violence as a means to an end. However, I had no idea how deeply committed to armed conflict he was and how determined he was to achieve his goals.
This is a study in contrasts between two men who eventually will share the same common idea of ending slavery. Brown is all in and in any way possible, while Lincoln takes a while to get there. As a result, it is interesting to chart Lincoln’s course to the presidency and his determination to abolish slavery.
There is also some intriguing stuff on Stephen A. Douglas. He was a Wiley little bastard. I knew about the debates and his avarice for power, but here, Brands really goes into detail about his meticulous plans for Kansas statehood and how shrewdly he played the North versus South angle.
Simon Heffer’s The Age of Decadence has finally been published here. It has been out in the UK for a bit now. Anyway, I have started it and it’s pretty compelling. My knowledge of Edwardian England is not as deep as some other parts of their history, but it is interesting stuff and he is certainly detailed.
The book spans the years from Queen Victoria’s jubilee to the outbreak of the Great War. That was a much more interesting time in England than I expected. I knew there was a lot of social change happening then, but I hadn’t really thought of the drama and literature of the era and how prolific it was.
There also was a deep divide in economic equality that mimics some of the struggles of working people today. The basic gist of it is that the years covered saw the Empire with an awful lot of wealth. it was unsightly and vulgar how much they plundered and pillaged from their colonies.
There is great care to mention this and also describe how the Empire influenced its colonies and how the political, economic, social, and technological changes they caused shaped the world. It’s a pretty nasty hypocrisy and, so far, it is the spine of the book.
The Oscars seemed sort of hollow this year. I’ve managed to see most of the nominated films or performances, however, it all seems kind of distant in that I saw none of them in the darkness of a movie house.
After a year of this, I still really did miss going to the movies. Especially after the particular strong year we had in 2019.
The pandemic has made everyone want to travel again. There have been loads of books, documentaries and webinars on travel, but none of them really worked on the same level as Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy.
Filming episodes before, during and after the country’s COVID nightmare, his quest to understand Italian food through the country’s culture and people is just what we all needed.
While his episodes on Rome and Tuscany were predictably good, his adventures in Bologna, Naples and Milan were really engaging in that they brought the culinary delights of these regions to life.
Funny, inquisitive and noninvasive, Tucci is a delightful host. For him the food and culture is the real star and he is more than willing to take a backseat to Italy’s cuisine and culture. CNN has renewed it for a second season which is great news. I am curious to see where he will be off to next.
I did see Tina, the documentary on HBO Max about Tina Turner. It is very compelling and it pulls no punches with discussing her relationship with Ike Turner.
Now a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Turner has an incredible rags to riches story that is done proper justice in the film. Hearing her tell her story, in her own words is powerful. She was one hell of a performer and it is good to see her get her due.
There’s also some great live concert footage as well. I wish there was more about her early life in St. Louis, but I understand they cannot cover everything.
If you have not checked out Staged, you are missing something. Filmed in quarantine, David Tennant and Michael Sheen are magical together. Using digital technology they have managed to do a show that is better because of it. I am not sure this would work with a set and proper staging like a sitcom.
Another great thing about Staged is the cameos. Judi Dench has the best one, but there is also Michael Palin, Jim Parsons, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in there too.
Although there have only been two seasons so far, this ‘Zoom miniseries’ is amazingly fun!
I know it is weird but I finally saw West Side Story. Screening as part of the 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival, it really does hold up well. It’s big. The sets are big, the color is big, the darkness is also big. It is also a film that uses setting and lighting to set up its emotional resonance.
The cast is great, especially Rita Moreno, Richard Beymer and fellow Twin Peaks alum Russ Tamblyn. However, it is weird seeing Natalie Wood playing a Puerto Rican woman. She is not awful in it, but she simply is outdone by Moreno in all of their scenes.
The score remains timeless and the songs are now a part of the fabric of American popular culture. Overall, the passage of the has done nothing to tarnish the film’s velocity, vivacity, ferocity and social relevence.
In addition to a great documentary on Powell and Pressburger, TCM screened a restored version of T-Men and The Méliès Mystery, a new documentary about the work of Georges Méliès and the quest to save his work from destruction.
A pioneer of early film, Georges Méliès started his career just before the start of the 20th century. Beginning as a magician, he was captivated by the movies, which resulted in an astounding body of work that is part animation, part science fiction, and part slight of hand.
This informative doc was accompanied by several of his restored films. Collectively, they are vital reminders of Méliès genius.
Filmic in scope and textured in sound. Godspeed You Black Emperor are back with their seventh album, G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!
Ironically, the record is available to buy at Wal Mart. But that really makes no difference, because they are still brilliant. For the last 25 years, this multimember Montreal outfit has weaved layered soundscapes to perfection.
On this album, the songs are varied in length but powerful sonically as sound collages meet chamber music seamlessly. Job’s Lament, Fire at Static Valley and OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.) are all highlights of a concept album whose themes of alienation, government intervention, and paranoia delve deep into your psyche.
The band is going on tour which is great news. I saw them at the Side door ages ago and it was absolutely incredible.
Finally, things are indeed opening up and our lives are falling into old routines. But despite this, it is important to not let our guards down. The pandemic is by no means over, and the idiots who don’t wear masks still are doing nothing to help their fellow man.
At least the weather is getting better.