Welcome to autumn. The leaves have changed and the weather is getting cooler. It has been lovely to take boring walks in this brisk weather. As the temperature drops I will miss reading outside and feeling the sunshine on my face.
It is boots and long jacket weather. I would enjoy the autumn much more however, if I didn’t know that winter was, literally, coming. This would not normally bother me, however, with now so many more allergies, bugs and icky maladies going around one doesn’t want to go out very much.
Everyone with half a brain is on edge, a little worried and kind of frustrated. This could all lead to a really annoying and tough winter. My fear is that the cold weather, fear of a flu outbreak and the continuation of Covid will not be enough to keep the ignorant from wanting to tear down all the precautions and get back to the world that was.
In summary: I am really fed up with these halfwits who don’t understand that the old way of doing things is not coming back anytime soon, if at all. Why are people so reckless and apathetic?
I got my flu shot.
I got my pneumonia shot.
I am staying hydrated.
I am not fighting with the stupid.
I went to the DMV on my birthday. It was scary it was Hell. You might as well just pull out a kidney and plop down on the clerk’s desk at this point. DMV offices are some of the drabbest places on Earth.
Tom Yum soup is the best.
It is great for a cold day and for cleaning out congested sinuses. I like mine form Thai 202 in the Central West End.
As a way to not get throttled by the madness of today I have been listening to more jazz and classical music. Lately it has been a lot of Shostakovich, particularly his Symphony No 2 ‘To October’ in B major op 14. The strings in it are exquisite. I also like how it is big and grandiose.
Listening to this made to a bit of thinking about the work and how it fits within the context of the current mood of the world in relation to the October Revolution that Shostakovich’s textured work celebrates.
With that in mind, I decided to dig back into Sheila Fitzpatrick’s seminal The Russian Revolution. Diving back in seemed appropriate. Particularly at a time when the separation of haves and have nots widens and the public discourse over issues of the day is filled with more and more shouting.
Fitzpatrick’s quick and concise narrative takes no sides and presents the complicated story of how those nasty Bolsheviks led Russia down a path to totalitarianism.
Now, as the clock slowly ticks off till the end of the month, the historian in me pauses with an anxious breath. Like the madness of 1917, we are seeing angry masses of people who are fed up and looking for change. Then, the old world was going away and a new one was coming. It wasn’t pleasant or fair or even remotely peaceful. This has not changed much.
As you may have guessed I read books that are dull to most folks. However, recently I have been reading more fiction, mainly the new books by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby with intentions of getting to Steinbeck again.
Over the last few weeks, before I got all brooding and serious, I plunged back into some graphic novels. I got caught up with the most recent batch of Moon Knight comics and a return to the Infinity Gauntlet series. I also am revisiting Warren Ellis’ excellent Transmetropolitan series, which also is incredibly timely right now.
With Halloween nearly here, I also returned to Batman: The Long Halloween, a 13 part epic that I like a lot.
In addition to restoring some noir oomph to the series, the story manages to collect all the usual suspects in Batman’s pantheon of baddies into a compelling arc.
There is a lot of bullying and emotional abuse in It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Just sayin.’
Despite the fact that it has retained its charm, humor and melancholy, when you peel back the layers there’s a lot wrong with those kids. Charlie Brown is depressed, Lucy is a psychopath, Sally needs to become more liberated and Linus has a whole mess of tings going on with him. Plus, Snoopy is a classic narcissist. I also love how it celebrates bucking the system and finding your own path on your own terms. Linus may be nuts he’s his own man and sticks to his guns.
But maybe the most overlooked aspect of the special is Vince Guaraldi’s score. People tend to think that his work in A Charlie Brown Christmas is his best but I will argue that the music in this special does much more for setting the tone of the piece. It also creates more ambiance that breathes life into the characters.
Covering the five boroughs, art galleries, bars, parks and restaurants it’s a book that explores every facet of the city, from its founding until now.
Knowing all the ins and outs of the city is hard work and this book serves as a nice guide to stuff you don’t get in tourbooks. New York is best when you avoid the beaten path and explore on your own.
The Big Apple has so many things about to learn and now that it is daunting. it is nice t have a concise thing that breaks it down. My other NYC encyclopedia is his mammoth thing that weighs a ton.
The sections on the city’s musical history are particular tight and there’s some neat stuff on the birth of the fountain pen and stuff like that too. There’s a lot to chew on.
I have started Dylan Jones mammoth book on the New Romantic movement. Covering 1975-1985, Sweet Dreams documents the New Romantic movement with a broad palate that includes ska, goth and electronic music.
Jones argues that the movement helped spawn electronic music and I am not sure I agree since there was also house music and Kraftwerk. Ditto for goth which could be argued as a bi-product of punk happening. Again, Jones offers an interesting premise that I had not thought of.
Jones is bold in navigating this time in British pop history. there was a lot happening. Growing out of post-punk (which is still happening concurrently) Jones chronicles the movement’s history from sleazy and glammy clubs o the shores of North America where many artists of this period found success on MTV, leading the so-called “New British Invasion.”
Fortunately, he’s got some big personalities in here, Bowie, Visage, Sade, Ultravox, Adam Ant, Culture Club, Duran Duran and loads more. It is well researched and there’s some great stuff in it. My only problem is that I think he’s overreaching in places.
As we get nearer to the election I have found Lou Reed’s New York to be very prescient.
Released in 1989 and recently reissued in an expanded edition, Reed’s 15th album is full of references to Oliver North, the NRA, Rudy Giuliani, Jesse Jackson and more.
Political but still entrenched in rock n’ roll, Reed’s album is filmic as it sprawls out for nearly a full hour. There’s some harsh criticism of corporate greed, poverty, corrupt politicians and poverty, all things that still resonate today.
Halloween Parade remains one of the most important songs about the AIDS crisis ever recorded. Sick of You name checks the great villains of the city during that period, many of which are still kicking around today.
Taken as a rock album, it fires on every cylinder. It’s a basic rock record with some nice nods ot should and blues in the mix. Even as a concept project it retains the grit that makes Reed’s records so intriguing.
Why are they playing sports? I get it, there’s a lot of scholarships and boredom to appease and TV money to make, but really, to me, it seems insane to even try to put people at risk.
I know that many other cities have a Greekfest and that writing about the one in St. Louis isn’t necessarily a big deal, but I wold be remiss if I did not. I went to the one held in St. Louis County at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.
Lasting full weekend, it normally is filled with dancing, crafts and music. However, this year’s feta fête, was in the same boat as almost everything else as it pivoted to no entertainment programming but plenty of curbside food.
In the past I have loved to hear the different musicians playing as I wandered the stalls with stuff was being sold. But as good as all of that was, the food was the thing everyone wants.
Pandemic be damned this years festival didn’t disappoint. I could literally eat the dolmades for months. The grape leaves are tightly wrapped nothing inside gets out. The rice was not bland and they didn’t go cheap on giving put taziki sauce. I had a beef and lamb gyro and it was not overcooked. The pita bread was not too try or doughy. The Baklava was also pretty damn good.
As I wind this down I want to send a final note out to support your local indie bookshops. I did a story on this last month and it was really interesting to see everything they are going through right now. Literally every dollar matters. So even if you buy a gift certificate you are helping.
I am trying to keep this shorter than last time. hope that is okay.
I apologize for the long delay in posting. I have been making a list of things to mention and write about but life got in the way. I had a freelance project to do and that pays, so that took priority. I am now getting ready to do another one where I interview a golfer. That should be interesting. I also have been working both jobs and picking up some extra shifts. I realize this is not an excuse for writing but, alas, it is what it is.
A lot of really sad and infuriating stuff has been going down over the last few weeks and I do not want to dwell on it and bring everyone down. But, all I can say is this… be active, participate in the process and make a difference. Also, the stupid can be frustrating. That is what alcohol is for.
My two pre pandemic planned trips in September didn’t happen. I miss travel. Although I have done a lot of traveling from the living room to the back porch recently.
Shifting gears……It takes a special kind of jerk to come into a restaurant or place of business 10 minutes before they close. It is kind of rude. People are winding down and trying to finish things up and go the hell home! Now, with the pandemic, people are even more anxious to get the Hell out of there and get home and clean up, decompress and get on with it. Please do not be that person! When in doubt ask or call first.
Also, where the Hell is all the Lysol disinfect spray?
It is insane. Especially since most everything else is coming back.
I also hate how long it takes after I get home to change, clean up, sanitize stuff and then, maybe get onto other things. It gets tedious. So does the whole wiping everything down a few times a day and making sure the ventilation is happening correctly. But I do it and persevere on.
As much as I love baseball, it is a miracle they are getting the season in. There really shouldn’t be sports and this whole ‘let the kids play’ business is moronic when you consider the bigger picture.
It is kind of sad to see all these schools in Missouri rush with excitement about playing sports. I know there are scholarships and titles to win and all of that, but really, nobody is going anywhere and people can slow down and be safe.
One of the best things about St. Louis is that, as a community, most folks are trying to support local businesses, restaurants and when possible, music venues. This is really, really important! Keep it up.
I love how the St. Louis Symphony are doing all these pop up concerts around town. it is a great way to get people engaged at a time when they need a pick me up.
The only appliance news this time is that there is a new garbage disposal unit and new handles for the sink since there was leaking going on under the sink.
I am thinking of getting a fire pit for when it gets cold. A small one so I can still enjoy some time on my back porch and get some fresh air. It has been a welcome relief to get fresh air in a space free of other people.
I wonder if Pushkin ever owned a fire pit? Probably not because he was born into nobility. Maybe a small makeshift one. But one has to wonder if Pushkin strolled into an ACE hardware store would he be moved to prose? I suspect not.
The holidays are coming. Hide! Again, shop local, shop indie and don’t be an assclown to workers. They are trying to not die. I have no qualms at all with not being with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Peace and quiet for the holidays on my own terms sounds great.
A coworker of mine cannot believe I do not watch The Masked Singer. This is because if the apocalypse is coming I want to watch better television. Plus, I tend to hate all of the judges on all of those shows.
Speaking of TV judges, the new season of The Great British Bake Off is on Netflix. It has been terrific. I have not liked the last few seasons but this year, adding Matt Lucas has been great. He is funny, empathetic and a nice counterbalance to Paul Hollywood, who is still kind of a smug git.
The bakers all seem like nice people. I like Rowan, he’s a music teacher and he likes Bowie. He’s also hilariously funny.
I will never be able to make any of this stuff but I totally appreciate the work that goes into it. I also could never handle that much stress crammed into such a short period of time.
Having interviewed the cast of Cobra Kai, I am a bit partial to the show. They are all terribly nice. Ralph Macchio is very gracious and modest and William Zabka is not pretentious at all. In fact, I was kind of caught off guard by his overall niceness. The kid who plays Joey’s son seems like he’s kind of a doofus, but that’s the only complaint I have.
As for the show, yes it is sappy, over the top drama filled with teenage angst and eldercare regret, but it is sure a lot of fun.
It also is great to see everyone completely flip characters that seemed so one dimensional in the 1980s. I also love how it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I also started watching a Korean drama called Chicago Typewriter. It ran there in 2017 and has been making the rounds globally ever since. Despite being popular it will not have a second series. Most Korean dramas only run one season, however, there have been recent exceptions.
Robustly tense and spanning eighty years, it tells the story of three friends who helped resist the Japanese during their occupation of Korea in the 1930s. Today, they live as reincarnated versions of themselves. Adrift in the modern world, there is a snobbish and arrogant writer named Han Se-joo, whom, after experience a serious case of writers block, hires a ghost writer (with a penchant for jazz and antiques) named Yoo Jin-oh to get hm out of his funk. Their partnership is problematic. Loving fame but resentful of his adoring public, his life is upended when he meets Jeon Seol, an obsessively kooky fan.
It is here, in contemporary times, where the trio must discover themselves again before they seek out elusive answers from their past. Their journey is not easy, but it certainly compelling.
Spanning 16 episodes, Chicago Typewriter is a race against time filled with the usual tropes of redemption, betrayal, loss and love. The series begins as a slow boil before percolating into a compelling story. Jou have to stick with it and it is pretty worth it at the end.
I first saw Chungking Express in 1994 and remember really loving it. The balance of pathos and comedy work well and the acting is great, especially Tony Leung who says volumes with just his castaway glances. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Faye Wong are also both charming in it.
To be honest, I love Wong Kai-wai. For me his nonlinear narratives are not difficult to follow and his films generally translate well to a Western audience. He also has incredibly solid music in his movies which really punctuate the emotional tones he is going for.
I discovered his films in the early and mid-1990s when I dove head first into Hong Kong cinema. Although, most of the films coming to the States in wide, art house releases were solid, I was drawn to the fact that he has interesting characters and is not afraid to surprise his audiences. His cinematography is also magical.
In the Mood for Love and Ashes of Time are two other films of his that impressed me. it also is hard to not like Happy Together, even if it is a be redundant.
Do we need another Lion King movie? No!
I also have no interest in a live action Mulan film. Remaking animated classics is dumb.
In addition to the 2000 other things I’ve told myself I was going to do and because we can’t have nice things or go anywhere now, I have decided to rewatch some Wes Anderson films. My motivation for this is that I want to laugh and appreciate nuanced moments of tenderness and beauty.
I don’t remember seeing The Darjeeling Limited in theaters. In fact, I had very limited memory of any of it. So I got it for my local library and got to it.
I am not the biggest fan of Owen Wilson but he’s okay in this. The triad of him, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman really work wells and they collectively create a very real sense of dysfunction.
Anderson again is visually stunning as he mixes terrifically shot scenes onboard the train with vibrant images of India. It’s beauty, poverty and spiritual resonance seep into every pore of the movie as Anderson skillfully uses the country itself as a character.
I was surprised at how much the zen-like empathy of the film came into sharper clarity amongst the backdrop of contemporary times. Despite the overwhelming sense of melancholy and loss, there is a tenderness lurking beneath the surface. It is perfectly nuanced. The movie’s themes of familial disunity and personal reflection also provide a nice counterbalance to the cinematography and dry humor.
I also loved the music. Anderson always uses interesting sounds in his films and I argue his use of music is as good or better than Tarantino’s when it comes to framing the drama onscreen. Besides, any flick with three Kinks songs in it cannot be all that bad. Plus the Joe Dassin cut he uses is terrific.
On September 29th, 1986 New Order released their 4th studio album, Brotherhood. Having really loved Lowlife, I was looking forward to hearing it. I remember picking it up at West End Wax and then listening to it on the steps across the street from Metro High School where I was waiting to hang out with some friends.
While Bizarre Love Triangle is one of the most heralded and beloved tracks from the ’80s I think some of the album’s other tracks, Paradise, All Day Long and Every Little Counts exemplify that tis was a band really finding their footing.
I remember that Brotherhood was interesting in that a lot of people were expecting a more dance oriented album. Pardon the pun, but it has some real substance to it in the songwriting and production. Peter Hook’s bass really shines here in what is the last record of theirs to really let him do his thing. His bass playing really gives the tracks some texture and helps ease us into all the synths and beats. Weirdo has a vibe to it the makes it an ideal mid album surge of energy.
Looking back, I can’t help but think of it more as an album of a time in my life more than anything else. I do enjoy it, but I cannot hear it without being taken back to an easier time when discovering music was more organic and, in many ways, satisfying.
The band has a new single outcalled Be a Rebel and a shoe deal with Adidas. Weird.
They also have reissued Power, Corruption and Lies in a new ‘definitive’ edition. I wish they would stop putting out greatest hits albums and reissues and get down to the business of sorting things out with Peter Hook. They sound a bit hollow without him.
Stephen Morris’ new memoir is finally coming out over here in paperback. Released last year in the UK, Record Play Pause finds the New Order percussionist giving his side of the story of events that have been covered in both Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook’s books.
The problem those two are bickering aunts right now so finding out what really went down requires a voice probably somewhere in the middle. This is where Morris comes in.
From his stories of growing up around Manchester to his discovery of music and involvement in Joy Division it is a one of those great memoirs that is also a bit of a snapshot of time and a scrapbook of memories.
However, unlike those two, Morris seems a bit more grounded. With a second volume coming, Morris clearly knows he has a lot of things to say, and he’s pretty good at it. His prose is more casual than his constituents and he’s also more astute in describing the inner workings of both bands.
In a year where everyone wants to scream, yell, stomp around and break things, the arrival of Ultra Mono, the new record from IDLES is well timed.Loud, angry, aggro and fuel injected it’s a record that minces no words. It’s abrasive, catchy and cathartic.
It’s also distorted, disturbing and raucous. Utterly magnificent, it distills the anxiety of Joy Division anxiety with the jitters of Gang of Four, creating songs that are intriguingly blemished yet beautiful. But perhaps the best testament to its greatness is the fact that I cannot stop listening to it.
Mac Davis died this week. He was the man. He acted, he sang and he wrote some of the best songs of the last half century.
Helen Reddy died too. Her career is greatly under appreciated by casual listeners. This is a shame.
We also lost Frederick Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals. Even if you are not a person who is deep into reggae you have probably heard Pressure Drop. I have never really dug as deeply into that genre as I should, I do know that Toots’ voice was golden and smooth.
A pioneer in music for sixty years, his Do the Reggay is considered to be the source for coining ‘reggae’ as a name for an entire genre of music. He also worked with both Willie Nelson and Public Enemy which is pretty cool.
The part where the protagonist comments on the rubbish music he hears at work!
Everyone has to cope with hearing music they dislike while on the job. Whether it is a coworker playing stuff in their office or just bad songs at an office party, suffering through bad tunes is (or was) a part of the American workplace.
Look, I get it, I worked in a record store for six years and heard a lot of music I didn’t necessarily love. But, I can at least say that it was selected by people who had some taste or a sane rationale for what they threw on.
With this context I must say that the music I hear currently at one of my jobs is dreadful. And, even though my hours have been sliced to a laughable four hours a week at that gig (hence needing more than one job) because of Coronavirus, the piped in music I hear there is excrement.
It’s like they took all the worst music featured on the soundtrack for Felicity and dragged it out for eternity. I am not screwing around, this is some seriously bad music. I understand the folks at corporate want to connect with the kids, but doing it by playing the blandest, most mediocre music ever is not the way to go.
I get that I work in a corporate culture that wants to have a pleasant environment for customers, in this case college students. It is the belief that need to hear upbeat pop songs as they look for textbooks that drives their musical selections.
However, it all is played on a programmed cycle where the same tracks are regularly repeated. This, of course, leads to having my ears beaten down during each shift by some awful music.
Here are some examples…..
Weezer’s Beverly Hills gets played every damn day at work. Don’t get me started on how miserable they make me feel. They are so bad that I am glad I have fewer hours so I don’t have to hear it four times a shift. This song is so terrible they had to reuse the hooks of Undone (The Sweater Song) to make it even remotely listenable. In the annals of Western Civilization this record is a low point. To make it worse, they slogged deeper to rock bottom by releasing an annoying cover of Toto.
In addition to some pop from Lady Gaga, Madonna and Katy Perry there is a lot of Coldplay going on. I get it, they are safe and appeal to a wide audience. But my point is that the music I hear while working is so bad that it makes the polishy sounds of that band sound like punk rock.
The other band they abuse my hearing with is The Killers. Why do people like The Killers? They sound like New Order with all the trauma, struggling and hardscrabble of working class Manchester sucked out. Every record they make sounds formulaic and trite.
This brings me to Matchbox Twenty. If You’re Gone is a song I hear every time I work and I hate it. It’s like spending eternity walking around an empty mall. They are terrible. Period. End of story.
Sometimes while I am doing mundane tasks on the job I am interrupted by The All-American Rejects’ Move Along, an utterly useless piece of garbage that causes agony for the ears and dying cells for the brain. Can we trade them for hostages somewhere?
There is not a Turkish prison big enough to hold the sheer craptitude of Blink-182’s All the Small Things. Seriously, they need to do time for their years long con of making American youth think they were cool. They could donate every cent they made to fight hunger and then hang themselves and I would still find them repugnant.
Have you ever had kimchee? If so, then you know it has more flavor than anything by Plain White T’s. Every single time this gets played at work my boss bobs her head and hums along. Kill me. Please make it stop. Oh, and they have the stupidest band name ever. It reeks of suburban uncreativity and parents buying instruments for their entitled kids. Ironically, when I hear Hey There Delilah while folding sweatshirts or stacking coffee mugs I can’t help but feel like this is a band that embodies everything that is wrong with being in a band when you really should think about going to trade school.
Jimmy Eat World. I don’t get it. I have now heard The Middle at least a hundred times and I just cannot fathom how this is appealing. It’s got no soul, no heart and the lyrics are fecal. Call The Hague and try them for crimes against humanity.
Sometimes, you get a hamburger and want to put ketchup on it only to find you have one packet for the whole thing. If this feeling of exasperation could have a musical form it would be Suddenly I See. To her credit K T Tunstall has made a catchy as all giddy record.I can’t say anything bad about it other than it is not my thing. Hearing it so often I cannot help but feel like I am trapped on a show on the CW Network or sitting in a store that sells fancy soap. It is not the best songwriter either. She’s Scottish. Where’s the fierce sense of independence? she sounds like watered down whisky served at Denny’s.
This brings me to Fergie, an artist who, despite understanding how pop music is crafted for the masses, takes the easy road to hitsville by sampling Little Richard’s The Girl Can’t Help It. Another excuse for my boss to bop around, Clumsy is a cheap sham. Because she has enough talent to know better and instead opted to do this, she needs to be held accountable for her misappropriation of someone else’s talent.
I could go on, but you get the gist. The long and short of it is that I take it on the chin each week by exposing my eardrums to nonsense as I work around college kids who have no clue about the pandemic.
Sadly, I don’t think I am going into a movie theater any time soon. In addition to health concerns there just aren’t that many films I want to see right now.
This brings me to Lindy West’s new book. It’s a cracker.
In the book she takes on the popular films of the last few decades and offers sage criticism of why they do and do not work. Her humor is writing and her critiques are spot on. She demystifies classics like Top Gun and Forrest Gump with great fervor and it is a hoot.
Nicky Hornby also has a new book out. Just Like You is another of his works to examine the nature of adult relationships, but this one has a few more twists.
Despite having all the usual ingredient of his previous novels; clever dialogue, references to music and film and rich characters, this one sees Hornby switching things up a bit as he slyly comments on post-Brexit England, love and race. I am curious to see where this one goes.
I also am reading more graphic novels these days. More on that later I guess.
Until then I am just another sad bastard carrying on and doing what I can each day. One thing is certain, living in a ‘challenging’ world filled with insipidly cruel and stupid people is incredibly hard.
So I have been meaning to update this sooner but things have been crazy. I have been been putting in more hours at the university bookstore job and it has been weird since the kids are now back and even though we are only letting 10 in at a time they don’t always pay attention to the rules of social distancing. They are wearing masks though which is a plus. We still don’t have plexiglass at the registers. I am all over corporate about it but I think they are oblivious. My coworkers are trying to be socially distant and most of the kids are as well, but there are still a few knuckleheads out there.
I also have been knee deep in radio stuff. Juxtaposition turned 25 and I had planned a 5 hour show only to have management put the kibosh on that a little more than 48 hours ahead time even though they had two plus weeks notice. Anyway, it is fine, I am just spreading some of the live sessions out over a few weeks instead. Still, I had gone through a lot of archival sessions and interviews and planned a lot which ate up time and delayed getting back to this. However, the point of all of this is that I had a ton of time invested in that which detracted from updating the blog.
This brings us to now. Pretty exciting.
Let’s talk about appliances!
So early, early last Saturday morning I noticed the kitchen sink was filling up with water. It smelled like sulphur and the water was gross. I put on gloves to see if there was a clog in the garbage disposal. There wasn’t so I ran the disposal to see if that helped. It only made more water come up. After cleaning out a few buckets of water and drying up everything I put the stopper over the drain, cleaned up and went to bed. In the morning the water was back, rising past the stopper. It got a bit worse as the morning went on so I had to get more buckets of water out of the sink. it was gross!
I needed up calling maintenance and after a bit of back of forth about getting a person to fix things it was discovered that the cause of all of this was the girl on the second floor dumped more than half a bag of rice in her kitchen sink which clogged everything up. I was hoping that it was not a broken pipe. that would have been a mess. I also was quite happy that no one had to come into the apartment.
This brings me to the point that getting any kind of maintenance help right now is a messy drama. It adds a ton of intense stress as well. Especially, since a lot of people involved in that particular line of work don’t believe in social distancing or necessarily masks.
So, if all of that was not enough the washing machine decided it didn’t want to be polite and operate properly. It stopped working. Luckily, I was able to hang dry a lot of cloths until a guy came to fix that last Monday. In this case the service was prompt and pleasant.
With COVID everyone in learning about new gizmos and gadgets. For me, the month has been filled with learning about MERV filers and circulating fans, this month it is other stuff like ventilation and dry hydrogen.
I picked up a 59s UV-C LED Sterilizer box. it is great for sterling things like pens, my phone, keys, he charging chord, masks, credit cards and everything else that can fit inside of it. It takes about three minutes to use and runs silent.
It has a very abrupt Asian voice that says “sterilizing’ when you start and “sterilizing over” when it is done. In fact, everything about the product is direct and to the point. So far it has been a nice thing to have around in that I don’t need to wash every little thing when I get home.
In other appliance news Deep Thought has arrived. That is the name given to the new air purifier that is lovingly cleaning the air around me (I hope). It reminded me of the TV version of the character from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, hence the name.
Since I get allergies and want to improve air circulation I thought this could be handy with keeping any of this stuff and any other nasty stuff from blowing around the apartment.
While it does not speak it does know how to circulate in a room. I hope it does not go HAL 9000 on me.
I have spent a lot of time during the pandemic watching movies. Some are ones I have not seen in awhile, some are new and some are ones I just wanted to take a chance on.
One film I saw was It All Came True, a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1940. When I broke my foot in 2010 I was laid up for several weeks at home. During that time I made an effort to see as many of Bogie’s films as I could. To date, I have seen nearly all of them including this one which I rewatched since it is not shown very often.
Although it is not one of his best. It is not terrible either. He plays a gangster named Chips Maguire who is hunkered down in a boarding house after killing an unsavory character named Monks.
Ann Sheridan co-stars as Sarah Jane, a showgirl resident of the house who just happens to recognize Chips but keeps his true identity secret.
Despite a dubious reputation, Chips is basically a nice guy underneath it all. Monks was a real jerk and had it coming, so in the film world, he had it coming.
In the meantime, the affable boarding house owners, Nora Taylor and Maggie Ryan are about to lose everything because of their back tax debts. Down on their luck, Nora and Maggie get a break when Chips decides they could solve their cash problems by turning their stodgy boarding house into a fancy NYC nightclub. As a bonus Sarah Jane could sing there and be discovered.
Like many pictures of that time there is lots of double dealing, frame ups, wisecracking and backstabbing. It also has some pretty schmaltzy stuff in it as well. However, It All Came True is interesting to watch because we see Bogart in a raw phase of his career, eager to break out of gangster roles and develop more rounded characters. As the story unfolds Bogart tries his darnedest to make Chips more than a thug as he smoothes out the edges to make a more developed character for audiences.
There also was a slew of George Raft movies on TCM this month. Background to Danger is a 1943 spy thriller with Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Raoul Walsh directed it and some of the script was edited and tightened up by William Faulkner.
The film is set in Turkey and revolves dastardly plot by a group of Nazis (led by Greenstreet) who are trying to turn the neutral country into an Axis power. Raft is an American who is sucked into the action by Russian agents who are fighting to keep Turkey neutral.
It is an entertaining little wartime film with Raft again filling in as a Bogart light character in his performance. However, as in all of his movies, he talks tough, is no nonsense and gets right down to it. The supporting cast is terrific and Greenstreet is gleefully diabolical as a Nazi.
Manpower is another Raft movie, this one with Edward G Robinson from 1941. In it both men play power line workers who become entangled with Marlene Dietrich. The biggest takeaway from it is that being a power line worker is not a fun job. Walsh also directed him in this one which is notorious because Robinson and Raft got in a fight on set which made filming problematic. Also, Raft turned down The Maltese Falcon to make this film.
Raft, who didn’t always make the best life choices, was also famous for hanging out with gangsters and turning down a number of now infamous parts in High Sierra, All Though The Night and allegedly, Casablanca. Sadly, the Scarface star also had a reputation for not being all that warm and fuzzy. Offstage he was often difficult for studios, directors and castmates to work with and his taste in friends put him on the outs in Hollywood.
In Escape Route (titled I’ll Get You in the USA) he is wrapped up in Cold War espionage in London after Russian conduct Western scientists. It it not a particularly thrilling picture nor is it exceptional.
However it is interesting to see that Raft has done zero to hone his craft and improve his technique. he basically is playing the same character he played decades earlier.
Do not watch Brazil in dystopian times. It will frighten you! I watched the Criterion edition a few weeks ago and while I did enjoy seeing the film again it was kind of disturbing in the context of present times.
I have been listening to Grandaddy a bit these days. I never stopped liking them but somehow I just lost touch with them. Although, I have heard the Jason Lytle solo records.
Although it is 20 years old, The Software Slump is still wonderfully majestic. I love how it mixes melancholy and melody perfectly. It does;t bother me that some of the songs are long because they have a real pulse to them and are constructed with narrative in mind. I am not sure how they did it but the band evoked a real mood in their music, warm and sad at once,. it is fascinating.
Smell The Magic, the first album from L7, has been reissued by Sub Pop Records. It is a loud and angry record that still sound fresh today. When I saw them at Lollapalooza 1992 I was backstage waiting to interview a band when they were walking by. They had already played and I mentioned I enjoyed their set. They clearly had been partying. this became obvious when while I was talking to a label rep, Demetra Plakas bit me in the neck. it was hilarious but also weird.
Anyway, I am glad their debut is been remastered. I think it got lost in the shuffle after their success on commercial alternative radio. It really is a solid debut and I hope more people discover them now.
Labor Day was pretty uneventful. The biggest thing was I had to run a few errands and noticed all of the little monsters from Washington University are back. None of them are social distancing. they are in gaggles going on blissfully unaware of the world around them. It is pretty annoying!
I also went to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It was peaceful and serene. The English garden there is terrific and they had a lot of new flowers blooming which was nice. I am glad I went, it was good to get some air.
Today I am hoping to get some chill time in with a book before heading off to work.
Because I fear I am babbling on endlessly, I am gonna call it a post. My next post will probably have some more book stuff and movie things in it. I have been seeing a ton of movies lately.
I am trying to not think about how bizarre things are right now or about the politics of mask wearing and the babbling of fools and madmen. But I will say that people who are not taking any of this seriously are selfishly shallow chuckleheads.
I am back at work. It is only a whopping 5-10 hours a week. Really. It would be absurdist comedy if things were not so serious. We are, for now, closed to the public and, in many ways, it all seems so utterly pointless. We are getting more knickknacks, clothes and textbooks in as we prepare to accept customers. Really who has money for luxury gods like school logo-ed shirts and coffee mugs right now? Also, opening schools is a bad idea.
to make matters worse the in house music they play is wretched. there is like three Coldplay songs on repeat followed by a cavalcade of blasé’, trite and generally insipid pop crapness. It is Hell.
And another thing, those little bastards should all be taking classes at home. They can’t be trusted in public anymore. And they won’t vote. They are all spoiled, selfish and stupid. I wish people that really wanted to go to college could afford it.
Like most people (not the ones in the Ozarks, on planes or in bowling alleys) I have been spending my downtime job hunting, watching movies, reading and listening to lots of music, old and new. Some of this music consumption is because I am inside a lot more and some of it is from planning my KDHX radio show. But either way, there has been some great stuff coming out.
I forgot to post before that I watched the Nick Cave streaming event, Idiot Prayer. The set was amazing. I spent a quiet night watching this and loved it. I was thinking about getting it for a few days and then, about 15 minutes before it started, I decided I needed to see it.
The performance had a strong set list, highlighted by Brompton Oratory and Nobody’s Baby Now. Cave’s voice was in great shape which lent to his strong performance. Watching him live, particularly with this set of songs, you could feel the pain and sadness built up within him over the last two years. He was turning his grief inward.
Speaking of Australians….
Midnight Oil have released their first new song in 17 years. I cannot believe it has been that long. I have always liked how noisy they are and this sounds like that. But what is fascinating about them is that they also have a keen sense of melody in their music.
The band’s new single, Gadigal Land, is everything you would expect from them. It is angry, topical and pointed in its message.
In the pantheon of Australian bands I always preferred them to INXS or Pseudo Echo.
Jarvis Cocker has a new album out. Using the moniker Jarv_Is and reloading with a new band, he is back to making interesting records again. On some of these songs he sounds like Leonard Cohen, which is fine in and of itself, but one hopes his new material will remain lyrically solid.
Cocker has a great ear for music which comes through in this album which is both sonically expansive and melodically unobtrusive. I really liked the first single, House Music All Night Long.
The Fiery Furnaces are back with their first new music since 2009, a 7″ single on Third Man Records called Down at the So and So On Somewhere. It is a shining example of pop fun.
Even though I have enjoyed Eleanor’s solo albums I am happy to see them back as a full fledged band again. The new single is really catchy without relinquishing any of the band’s melodic complexities.
Both of the Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger are from Oak Park, Illinois. My friend Gerry has shown me around there on numerous occasions and on one of them we drove by the house where the Friedbergers grew up in. It was pretty cool.
I am not sure whether this release is just a one off or if it means that an album is coming, but I like it.
Purple Noon is the 4th album from Washed Out (aka Ernest Greene). While I did not love the last two records, this one is a bit of a throwback. While I do not love everything in the chillwave oeuvre, his first two records were pretty tight. I do like the new single, Paralyzed and think it represents that era of his music.
It also has an ’80s vibe going on and it is not hard to imagine hearing it on MTV back in the day. But not the channel now since today’s MTV is rubbish.
So, over the last few weeks I have had a massive freelance writing thing with two very long articles due in short order. They required lots of interviews and research which, sadly, took time away from my movie watching.
It is fine since the need to have income is paramount right now, but it still made me feel like I had no time to get anything done. Between that and hemming a modest 15 hours work week together from two jobs during a pandemic, things were pretty bonkers.
However, I have managed to still see a few things, I like Derry Girls and am still moving towards the end of Schitt’s Creek. The Mandalorian has been great and I have added a few other things to my ‘to watch list.
Last weekend I capitulated and decided to watch something I knew would be utterly useless, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
Man I was totally surprised how fun this was. Will Ferrell hasn’t really had a proper ‘hit’ in ages and I have not really spent time watching his latest movies. but I am glad I caught this one.
The movie is a fictionalized tale of two friends whose dream is to win the Eurovision song contest. It is goofy, stupid and actually pretty funny at a time when laughter is needed.
Rachel McAdams is in it. She too has needed a comeback of sorts. Her chemistry with Ferrell is hilariously wacky. Dan Stevens is also great channeling a smarmy Russian Simon LeBon type.
This over the top nonsense is a reminder that sometimes stupid funny can be a nice escape from reality.
There is nothing stupid funny about Olivia DeHaviland who passed away at 104. She was the last tangent connection to Classic Hollywood. I think my favorite movie of hers is still The Adventures of Robin Hood. I also liked her in Dodge City. I cannot abide by Gone with Wind. It just has no appeal to me.
In most of her films she had this sort of grand aloofness thing going on that I think made many people forget what a powerhouse she was as an actress. Anyway, her passing reminded me of the really nasty feud she had with her sister, Joan Fontaine. It was really, really unsavory and they would snipe and bicker at each other constantly.
Although the two were always competitive most of the public had no idea of their distaste for one another until their ill will manifested itself at the 1942 Oscars. That year their rivalry became really personal when they were both nominated for Best Actress; DeHaviland for Hold Back The Dawn and Fontaine for Suspicion.
Upsetting her sister who was the favorite to grab an Academy Award, Fontaine won and then blew off her sister’s congratulations. Five years later, when DeHaviland grabbed an Oscar for To Each His Own, she returned the favor by not acknowledging her sibling.
If that was not enough their feud was also rooted to affairs of the heart as evidenced by Fontaine’s marriage to her sister’s ex, Brian Aherne. Fontaine also was critical of Olivia’s marriage to the novelist, Marcus Goodrich, something that didn’t help things get better. The sordid history between these two plays out like an episode of Dynasty. It just goes on an on and on. It is kind of sad really.
Speaking of Fontaine, I really like Suspicion. Hitchcock was smart to cast Cary Grant with Fontaine and their chemistry onscreen really worked. I also like how it has some comedic lightness to it that is not found in a lot of Hitchcock films.
Weirdly, Joan Fontaine was in a Cannon two parter I watched last week. Fontaine played a reclusive Hollywood starlet.
Even though her guest starring turn was clearly a cash grab she was pretty entertaining in it. Incidentally, the part of her son was played by Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica and The Streets of San Francisco.
Earlier in the week I watched Three Strangers, a nifty little noir from 1946. It was co-written by John Huston and stars Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet and Geraldine Fitzgerald.
I can watch Lorre and Greenstreet in pretty much anything and they both are great here. Lorre plays a down on his luck drunk while Greenstreet plays a solicitor who has fiddled with a wealthy client’s books. Fitzgerald is pretty intense as a scheming woman trying to get her husband back. Alan Napier (Alfred from the Batman tv series) is pretty terrific as David, Fitzgerald’s doomed spouse.
It is set in London on the eve of Chinese New Year in 1938.The whole crux of the film lay in the supernatural belief that Kwan Yin, the Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny will grant their wish, provided they all want the same thing. They settle for money since it appears to be the cure for all ills.
Setting all of their hopes in a winning ticket for the Grand National (a horse race head annually near Liverpool) things go drastically wrong for each of them, leading up to a really dramatic conclusion.
Since we appear to be living in the 1920s again I thought I would kick it old school and watch some silent movies. I began with 1927’s Wings, the first film to win the Academy Award for best picture.
At a time when Lindbergh’s flight made everyone giddy about aviation, William Wellman’s tense drama about two small-town lads who become WW! flying aces is perfect for the time.
Wellman, a former fighter pilot who directed over 80 films, was the perfect person to put this whole thing together. He was the Jerry Bruckheimer of the late 1920s and early 30s.
With Wings, he has crafted an action film loaded with rich characters and plenty of action.
It is easy to see why Clara Bow was such a big deal. She exudes this sort of girl next door charm and certainly is adept at comedy and drama. She also plays an intelligent, albeit lovelorn, character. Here she got top billing even though the film’s load was carried by co-stars Richard Arlen and Buddy Rogers.
I saw Wings a few years ago at Webster University and it was cool seeing it on a big screen. Watching it now on a TV, I thought it was just as spirited and adventurous.For a film that is 93 years old it holds up surprisingly well.
When they say that Louise Brooks was the embodiment of the Roaring ’20s they are pretty right. The epitome of an uninhibited flapper, her work in Pandora’s Box, a film widely panned in 1929 and now hailed as a stunning work of Weimar cinema, made her immortal.
Leaving Kansas for big city aspirations Brooks was a Ziegfeld Girl in NYC before going on to Hollywood and being in W.R. Heart’s posse. There she had a film career that was decent but no shakes in making her a star.
When an opportunity arose to film this movie in Germany, she skipped town, literally dropping everything and bailing. it was smart because she may three film there that launched her to international stardom. The first was G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box.
Despite being made in 1929 there is a lot of stuff that would make the conservative film watcher of today freak out. For starters, it doesn’t have a cheery, crisp, all smiles ending. Then there is the lesbianism, sexual innuendo and murder. Although I am sure they would love the guns.
Starring as Lulu, Brooks is not a willowing dove. A carefree mistress of vacuous morals and selfish motives, she is feisty, freewilled and determined to live on her own terms. Sadly, this is not always the best course of action as she finds herself in terrible situation after terrible situation. As a result, Pandora’s Box is a tense drama that serves as a stylish visual template for Weimar Germany as well as a bold work of cinema.
Without realizing I was following a theme I saw a few of chaplain’s early short films. In those films it is pretty cleat that while Fatty Arbuckle is the star, Chaplin is on a meteoric rise.
This is especially true in The Rounders, The Knockout and Tango Tangles, three pre-WW1 shorts that find Chaplin in hilarious escapades featuring much more physical comedy than the pictures he made later on.
I am a little behind in my book reading for the month. This is mostly because I have been catching up on some magazines that have been piling up. I was overjoyed to find The Believer again. Even though it is, at times, really pretentious, I do love their music coverage.
I also am revved up to read Adrian Tomine’s The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist. His memoir details how he became a cartoonist and digs into the nitty gritty of the indie comics industry.
It also is a love affair to comics by an illustrator who really knows how to capture humanity in his work.
This week the exciting world of pandemic cooking includes fresh green peppers and cucumbers that a friend left me. I can use the peppers for curries, some Mexican food and in breakfast omelets while the cucumbers can be incorporated into a sale or some of the Greek stuff I have been making. I also have a few cocktails I want to make with gin and cucumbers.
In appliance news there are some nifty MERV 13 furnace filters installed. A HEPA air filter is likely coming too. With vey allergies and stuff it will get used.
Finally, I have been meaning to mention the hoosier hot tub for awhile now. This started a few weeks ago when we had that nasty heat spell. It reminded me of this woman named Linda I worked with who drove down to the boonies to get a horse trough.
As she explained it, she did this because when it was hot she could fill it with cold water and when it was cold she could use warm water and then sit inside it. I was later informed that this is called a “hoosier hot tub.” Wow.
So for the next week or so, I am hoping to finish a writing project and then get on with a freelance piece that I am getting assigned. I hope to get some more reading in and find as better job. But mostly, I just want to cope and get by like everybody else.
It has been way too long I know. I have been woefully negligent with posting anything but this is mainly because of a combination of going back to work and tackling this crazy series of articles I have due for a magazine.
The articles are fairly intensive with talking to sources, researching and editing. But the tricky bit is that both big assignments are back to back and due on the same day.
Add Zoom calls, my other job and some decluttering and my time has rapidly been filling up. It has been kind of annoying to be so busy during a time when folks are still on lockdown.
Another thing that has kept me frazzled is the way people are casting aside sage advice in favor of listening to morons. Somewhere out there, in the weirdest parts of America, Carol and Stanley Idiot are just hanging around, selfishly refusing to wear a mask, social distance or show any sense of compassion for their fellow man.
Carol and Stanley Idiot are the dumbest form of sheep. Inconvenienced by wearing a mask to help flatten the curve but exuberantly happy to wear a hunting mask when they out to kill some squirrel or whatever it is they eat. For all I know it could be possum. Sadly they are part of the new normal.
But the point being is that when John Steinbeck created a really interesting character named Lennie Small he had no idea that over eight decades there would be thousands of people walking the planet who were just as mentally challenged. Unlike Lennie though, their mental challenges are self-inflicted and their big hearts are nonexistent.
I also have had a pileup of stuff to transcribe and edit and fiddle with and it is time consuming. I also have been interviewing folks for the KDHX website which has been fun. So far I have interviewed Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s, John Doe of X, Hazel English, Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads. All of that has kept me busy.
Both Valentine and Frantz have books out which is why I talked to them. Remain in Love is Frantz’s new book. It covers a lot of ground and is a great oral history of New York in the 1970s, a time when so much was happening. There’s a lot of ground covered, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, The Ramones, the Bowery etc..
But the really interesting stuff is about David Byrne and his relationship with the rest of Talking Heads. It was not rosy.
It is not pretty. I won’t ruin anything but as someone who is a fan of his music it put me in a weird spot emotionally. He was kind of a jerk back then and I sincerely hope he has mellowed with age.
Frantz also has managed to have an amazing love affair with Tina Weymouth and the book goes into that as well. It is very heartwarming in these crappy times.
Here is a link to my interview with Tim Burgess. his Twitter listening parties have been a great time occupier during all of this.
After talking to Burgess, which I might add was pretty cool, I got his first book. Going into the interview I was expecting him to be aloof and kind of distant. instead he was jovial, although serious, and very nice. He’s lived a real rock star life and his band is still under appreciated in the States in my opinion.
The first time I heard The Only One I Know was in 1990. My friend Jennifer took me to Wax Trax Records in Chicago and I was scouring the imports bin. The guy at the counter threw the 12″ single on and it began to play. I was in a different row from her but we could see each other. There we were, her with wildly black disheveled hair and I with a short mop, both decked out in leather jackets trying to just not stick out.
The record started and we both did that cool head bob thing you do when you her a record that hits like a delicacy on the tongue or good whiskey. it was pretty cool. I somehow managed to get one of the last codes of the damn thing and spent the rest of the day grasping it like a nun with a rosary.
From that point on I have checked in on them now and then. I think they are a great singles band with a few great albums smattered in-between. Burgess knows how to take his influences and pour them back into his music which is harder to do than it may appear.
As for his book, Telling Stories is pretty straightforward. It is a quick read and Burgess does indeed have stories that are informative, funny and insightful. Burgess has a new book, One Two Another coming out over here soon. it is a collection of lyrics accompanied by lyrics and annotations.
Now onto The Wants. They are from Brooklyn. they have a new record out called Container that is rad. They have this Interpol/Gang of Four thing going on and it totally works. They are grimy and dark and murky and they have great chords.
Their new ‘single’ is The Motor.
Fear My Society is also really good.
Beneath the surface is a serious sense for pop sensibility that also plugs into a minimal techno vibe in a few places. These guys sound like all the dark underbelly of New York places that I used to go to when New York still had such things. If you want more info on these guys check them out on social media or here: https://thewantsnyc.bandcamp.com
IDLES have a new record coming out called Ultra Mono. I love IDLES. they make great musical hissyfits and Joe Talbot has a distinctive voice. I also love that they are mostly angry. Grounds is their latest single and it does not disappoint. It flails uncontrollably in a wash of snarls and abrasive guitars.
IDLES are the perfect band for the disenfranchised minority. In this case that minority are people who appreciate the awesomeness of loud, angry post-punk and want to punch Nickelback in the face. Their songs are intense, crunchy and filled with lyrics that are clever and sly. They are the real deal.
I started watching The Mandalorian which has been a nice break from the hell we are living in. I am that guy too, the one guy that thinks there is too much Baby Yoda. But it is not that big of a deal. Beyond that there is some real character development going on. And I love that it is a Western.
I also started watching Derry Girls which has been fun. I have not needed subtitles. I have heard some Americans “don’t understand” the accents. If you are American and cannot understand an Irish accent by now I can’t help you. Just saying.
Schitt’s Creek is still great and I never want it to end.
I have taken the plunge and started watching The Expanse. There is a lot going on and they just throw you in feet first.
Nonetheless, it is just gritty enough to keep me curious. It isn’t shiny or cute either which is good. At first I thought the premise was a bit hokey but it grew on me.
Edward Hopper has kept me sane during the pandemic. So many of his paintings feature figures that are in isolation despite being in a large city. His elegant landscapes of urban areas are beautiful but desolate.
As this thing goes on I find myself looking at his work and finding comfort. If there are people in his paintings they look burdened or miserable or just tired. People can relate to that. If they are landscapes or houses or gas stations they are appear desolate and abandoned. the tis another thing that resonates today. They drip of melancholy and that makes me oddly calm.
Appliance news for this month……
There is a spiffy new rotating fan that has really helped cut down on running the AC. We also got some new hospital grade air filters. Hopefully that will help keep germs and viruses at bay, or at least slow things down.
Not quite an appliance but there is a new kitchen table. It has opened up some space in way too small kitchen which is fantastic. It is nice to have the extra space.
There has been workmen outside the apartment playing terrible classic rock for the better part of two weeks now. It is like an obstacle course trying to get around them because they are of the ilk that doesn’t social distance, even outside. They are nice but….
1. They have crap taste in music
2. I do not know what form of English they speak
3. They love to litter
4. They don’t clean up after themselves
5. See social distancing complaint above.
Anyway, the poor bastards have bene out in the heat taking down hornets nest and walking on roofs so I can cut them some slack. They have a cherry picker that has been out in front for a while and they love it. They go up and down all day like giddy school kids.
I need to see that damn comet.
They should not be playing sports.
Selfish & stupid people are going to be the end of us.
On some mornings I find myself watching old timey steam trains in North Wales. They are on webcam and you can see them as they come and go. Everyone is socially distant and wearing masks. They run mostly from Porthmadog and Tan y Bwlch.
You can see the mountains of Snowdonia in the background too which is also calming. My dad worked for a railroad and I remember when he took me to the roundhouse and it was pretty cool.
It is Friday morning. I have my caffeine. I have a to do list made and some things I want to get done. That is the easy part. Now comes the tricky bit, actually overcoming the malaise of the times and doing stuff.
It also a Steve Wonder kind of morning. This is not a bad thing. I think it is pretty great that you can listen to Stevie Wonder at any time and feel great. I was thinking about this yesterday and realized, yet again, that he really has created an incredible body of work.
I am also plowing through some music I got for the radio show. I listened to NZCA LINES Pure Luxury record. It has a kind of slower Chromeo vibe going on with some Hot Chip and Prince influences through in. For Your Love is not bad, Prisoner of Your Love will go over with the cool kids crowd. I hope ‘your love’ is not in every title. Pure Luxury uses a Kraftwerk sample and it has some decent energy going on. Although I must admit I am kind of tired of all this retro ’80s sound that is getting old now.
I am glad to have The Fiery Furnaces back! Their new 7″ is called Down at the So and So On Somewhere. It is pretty great.
They have a terrific chemistry now that was waning on some of their latter albums. I did scratch my head when I read the press release and realized they have been at it for twenty years now. wow time flew by. Incidentally, the last few Eleanor Friedberger records have been great. My friend Gerry drove me by their house in Oak Park once.
Daniel Blumberg has a new record coming out called On&On.
The first single, Bound is a quandry for me. I did not love it at first. I liked the music and melody but not the vocals. But somehow it became an ear worm and I have warmed up to it a bit. It is very polished sounding too. It sounds a bit like The War on Drugs in many ways. I am curious to see what the album sounds like.
Goodness I need to get some fresh air.
I think this weekend I will go to either Laumeier Park or the Botanical Garden early to stretch my legs and get some air. Both have pretty solid social distancing in place!
Plus it is hard to beat the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is so tranquil and so peaceful that it is just the tonic for a stressed world.
They worked on the back porch yesterday. They scraped some stuff of the ceiling and did some structural work on it. But it meant I couldn’t read on the back porch. So I used my couch instead.
This week I have been working through some Flannery O’ Connor. The Complete Stories is pretty much all you need. It has thirty one short stories and they do not play nice. There is some serious stark realism going on here. She is uncomfortable at times and that is okay because she challenges readers and does not hold back. I had read most some of these a few years ago but thought it would be good to revisit her.
I miss being able to travel.
I have been drinking more and more cranberry juice. I even put some vodka in that ‘sumbitch’ too. I am going to start using more NASCAR truncated words and phrases in my vocabulary and see if anyone notices. Hey if the rest of country talks dumb what is keeping me?
My day will be filled with transcribing some interviews, leading, drinking caffeine, watching soccer and sending out some resumes. I also am hoping to pot and plant some new plants that were given to me. Another exciting thing I will be doing is cleaning out emails. Fun.
I just looked at my financial investment stuff. I hate doing that since I have like no money. I need to really know more about stocks and that kind of stuff but it is hard when a lot of the people I know who do that stuff are not exactly nice people.
I would also like to watch a movie or two.
Tonight I am getting takeaway at this great Mexican place by me. It will great to get something not made at home. Plus you cannot beat a well made tortilla.
The Great Ennio Morricone has passed. I first heard the Maestro when I was in high school. It happened pretty simply. I generally spent my lunch breaks on the bleachers listening to music away from the world. With Morricone, I had a cassette soundtrack from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly that I got from the library. I was pretty hooked early on and became obsessed. His work was a nice break from the other cassettes I was listening to at the time. His music also served as a gateway to listening to film soundtracks.
Like most kids lunchtime kind of sucked. I kept to myself, read and listened to music. It was an hour to not have to be around jocks, burnouts, preppies or spoiled rich kids.
Using his most famous score as a gateway, I immediately set out to find his other stuff. Soon that quest broadened and I began to watch the movies that his scores came from. So now, Morricone was responsible for expanding both my musical palette and my love of movies. His Sergio Leone films fit snugly into my punk aesthetic at the time and I loved his work from The Mission and The Thing. I also loved his score for The Sicilian Clan and The Untouchables.
I probably would not have happened upon Cinema Paradiso without him. I remember seeing the restored print of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly a few years ago and seeing it on a massive screen was amazing. It was pretty incredible. Despite my general dislike for Clint Eastwood his music made the entire movie fit together.
As an aside, Eli Wallach was pretty damn great in that movie. Also, I saw a lot of dudes that looked an awful lot like Lee Van Cleef at K-mart growing up. It was weird.
There is an emotion to his music hats transcends the films. He also has a way of orchestrating that blends in trumpets, guitars and other instruments so seamlessly.
As I got older and started to go more and more indie, I never stopped liking Morricone. I knew I was on to something when I heard his music sampled on records I liked. Hearing his influence on bands like Massive Attack, Portishead and Thievery Corporation also made me quite happy. One of the reasons why It Couldn’t Happen Here by Pet Shop Boys is so terrific is because his fingerprints are all over it.
When I lived in New York I picked up a few DJ gigs here and there. I do remember one late night I threw on Erasure’s version of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and the place went kind of wild.Over the years I have ended many, many late night sets with The Ecstasy of Gold, which really resonates late at night to drunk people.
I need to see Once Upon A Time In The West again. Once Upon A Time In America is a terrific film that encapsulates the Italian immigrant experience. Also, I still love The Untouchables.
So, I guess if you take nothing away from my blog this week, listen to some Maurine. I dare you to not be moved.
The new Johnny Depp ads for Sauvage are stupid. It is from Dior and is probably crazy expensive. How the mighty have fallen.
I mean this guy cannot do a good movie anymore. It is kind of sad really.
Is it me or do guys who worry about cologne tend to be really annoying?The world is so grim right now that I have to ask if we really need to this right now?
The hot days of summer are here. It is humid. It is not great mask wearing weather but this is what the next few years will look like so I will deal with it.
The folks in 1918 were tough as Hell. I wish we were now.
Those folks were really grinding it out. It was absolutely horrible. When I read about it I had no idea I would be living through it.
While I have been home I have spent the last few weeks making different forms of gyros and Greek food. I found some pita and some terrific olives. The olives have really been nice to have. I also add lettuce, tomatoes, feta and taziki sauce. I also can mix it up with tahini sauce too.
In the midst of all this fun my favorite pair of readers decided to give out. So I braved it and went into a store and got new ones. They are nowhere as cool looking but who cares about how things look right now.
I have been catching up on Documentary Now! It has provided many great laughs. I also have started to rewatch Black Adder. Man it is still funny!
Seeing Hamilton on Disney was pretty cool. I was able to see facial expressions and it really added a lot to enjoying it.
Jonathan Groff is quite the spitter. I bet that guy is sitting at home, social distancing and counting his money. Between Hamilton and Frozen he is probably doing pretty okay.
The other thing I am intrigued about with about Hamilton is how they move the sets around. there’s a lot of moving parts going on with the show and it is pretty interesting to see how the actors interact with that.
TCM has been running The Falcon movies with Tom Conway. Each one runs at about an hour and fifteen minutes and they pack a lot of stuff into each one. They are pretty much a product of their times. but they remain interesting and fun to see. Conway made ten films in the series and they are pretty silly really.
Despite being a series of B mystery films these are kind of great in that they use all the tropes of the time over and over again. The films are pretty cheesy but that is what makes them gloriously fun!
Not much else is happening this week as I anxiously prep for returning to work on Monday. I am not going to any of the movie houses or restaurants that have reopened. I am still generally trying to be as careful as I can which is why I have learned to detest the stupid so much.
Sports used to be my distraction from watching the news. However I really think they need to not have any pro sports at all. it sucks I know but the risk is not worth it. Especially since these guys are all doing it to line someone else’s pockets more than anything else.
There is no real appliance news this time. the new fine is pretty great. it runs quiet too! I also hope to get new furnace filters soon and I have a new kitchen table and chairs to assemble.
So I guess I should start by saying that Jerry Reed was probably the only good thing about the Smokey and the Bandit movies. Jackie Gleason was okay too, but he had to spout a lot of dirty language and cussing which bummed me out because it really went against his traditional comedy schtick.
I have no idea why I am writing about Smokey and the Bandit. I do know that the Bandit automobile is in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. It’s displayed there like a holy relic of a dead saint for America’s rednecks and probable racists.
This brings me to mention that at this point you probably can’t show The Dukes of Hazzard on TV anymore. Unless you digitally remove a certain flag from their car.
I am ok if no one sees it ever again. It is terrible. Although it did make buffoons out of country cops. But seriously, shouldn’t people find something better to do with their time than watch this? I mean it is really dumb and stupid. Every person on it makes poor decisions.
I did see Denver Pyle on an episode of Cannon a few works ago. It was the one where Cannon gets amnesia and wanders around clueless in the desert.
In better TV news....Dark is a German time travel series. It is pretty odd and weird but I think has some interesting elements to it.
I have made a list of streaming things to watch and I will eventually plow through all of it.
Weekends are pretty much nonexistent at this point. when I need something on for background TV I put on the Property Brothers. you learn a lot about fixing houses and they seem like ok people.
In appliance news it is mazing how much of a workout the dishwasher is getting. It seem like every few days it is running a full load. The same could be said for the washer and dryer. I am sure I am not alone in this. Also, The kitchen ceiling light is on the fritz. I am overjoyed at the idea of fixing it.
One thing that continues to bug me this week are the half assets that put on a mask but don’t cover their nose. Or worse yet, they wear a mask indoors but drop it down under their chin.
I hate to be crass but if you do not wear a mask it tells me that you are an uncaring and selfish human being. At this point there is no real reason to fight it. Besides, if this really is some kind of conspiracy I am fine with being duped into wearing a mask on my face for a few months. Really, it is not that big of a deal. Do you think the soldiers crossing the Delaware in the freezing cold thought wearing heavy boots was stupid? And those guys storming the beaches of Normandy didn’t complain about the heavy ass packs on their back-so shut the hell up bout freedom and being put out.
I went to a doctor appointment today. I had a temp check and they made sure I had a mask and all the seats were like 30 feet apart. I brought my own pen and they seemed relieved. The woman who checked me thanked me for being considerate. it is sad that they have to do that.
Had a huge thing with work. I got called back from furlough for the week of July 13th. The problem is that before that job called I had an opportunity to pick up a full week of work at my other job so I accepted that. So I told my boss at the furloughed place I could start on the 20th. After a long back and forth, which included telling me I was only gonna get scheduled 4-8 hours per week, I was told I had to report the week of the 13th or I could tender my resignation.
So I then I explained politely that I would not tender anything since they had been nonexistent for 4 months without a peep and now they just popped in and wanted me to be unprofessional and break commitments I made to another employer. I told them they would need to let me go, since this was on them. I also explained that they had 3 other employees they could easily give my fantastic 4 hours to for one week to accommodate me. Nope, not good enough. So I spent about half a day juggling and I am now going to my crap ass job for 4 hours a week. Still got Job B, which even though is a lower paying gig, is an environment without jerks and un-empathetic bots.
The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. The long and short of all of this, is that we, as employees, should be held hostage by the almighty dollar and I am really put off by the attitude displayed.
But enough of that!In the midst of all of this I am looking for new work and still trying to get some freelance hours from places as best as I can.
I have seen more retro-isa movies. I do not think I saw Twins in a theater when it came out in 1988. It was on and I watched it.
It is not particular awful but not great either. Danny DeVito is kind of funny in it and Arnold Schwarzenegger is basically himself in it. But it served its purpose of being a distraction form the world.
With the passing of Carl Reiner I decided to watch The Jerk. It is an uncomfortable movie to watch in today’s world. Steve Martin is terrific in it. It is a lovely work of satire that holds up kind of well. There are some really funny moments in the movie but I think it has some pacing issues. But, it remains an intelligent comedy that doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks to make the jokes go over. Oh, and Bill Macy from Maude is in it.
I also have been watching a few short films on Mubi. I especially enjoyed 1 Dimension which is a gorgeous short film that uses silhouette animation to tell an ancient Chinese parable.
It is directed by Lü Yue, who has made something visually fantastic and aesthetically simple.
I have been listening to Container by The Wants a lot. I think it is their first full album. They have this cool sound that is part Gang of Four, part Interpol with smidgens of LCD Soundsystem thrown in the mix.
There is a minimalist awesomeness to them They are raw and don’t over the produce the hell out of everything. So what you get is an uncompromising sound that is crunchy and robustly great. Here is the link to learn more: https://thewantsnyc.bandcamp.com.
I also really like Beat Poetry For the Survivalist, the new record from Luke Haines and Peter Buck.
In addition to solo work Haines was in The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder. Buck was in R.E.M. and The Minus 5 and loads of other things. The entire record is really catchy and the songs are well written. It is a terrific collaboration.
I have started Remain In Love, the new memoir from Christ Frantz of Talking Heads/tom Tom Club.
It is a very heartfelt memoir and he is a natural storyteller. It is a very personal read and it is not heavy handed in dishing out dirt on other musicians or people he knows. His reflection on his time in Talking Heads is interesting too. Perhaps the most fun though is hearing about his romance with Tina Weymouth. It is nice to have some positivity in the world right now and his relationship with Weymouth is both heartwarming and creatively fascinating.
I also am reading Post Punk Then And Now, a collection of stories, interviews and essays about post punk art, music, architecture, film and literature. It also has a cool section on zine culture and how fanzines really helped shape later artistic movements in music, film and the visual arts.
It is edited by Gavin Butt, Kodwo Eshun and Mark Fisher with some terrific insights from Lydia Lunch, Sue Clayon and others. Told in small chunks, these interviews help form a collective narrative of various post punk aesthetics and how they are all tied together.
I bought this book a few years back while at the Tate Modern in London. It was sitting on an endocarp with no pomp or flashy merchandising. I was thrilled to find it because it was relatively cheap and it was something that interested me. I had not thought of post punk in terms of architecture or even film before so that part was fascinating, The book does a great job of taking all of these separate pieces and pulling them together into a tapestry that really provides a nice overview of that era.
As a side note, The Tate Modern bookstore has loads of great stuff in it, but most of it is way too expensive. The V&A Museum bookstore has more diverse stock and is a bit more reasonable in pricing. The bookstore at the British Museum is also good, but it is always packed and there’s a lot of touristy stuff. I did like the relative austerity of the national Gallery museum shop which pretty much stuck to the basics and didn’t give you a sensory overload.
Meanwhile back at home…..
The St. Louis Art Museum is open. I am going to go this week, right when they first open and see the works I really want to see and then get the hell out of there before the crowds come. I hope it is smartly laid out and safe. They are requiring masks and social distancing, I would like to go and see a few works I have discovered from their collection since my last visit.
Piet Mondrian: Composition of Red and White: Nom 1/Composition No. 4 with red and blue.
I have a short list of things t see in about 90 minutes but it is all based on what the ass clowns are doing. Still, it will be great to get out.
As much as I want to support our local restaurants I am cooking a lot at home. I am still ordering curbside and takeout and have no interest in eating indoors yet. not with this spike. It is not as much because of the restaurants as the other people there. Most employees and folks working in restaurants get it, I just fear the idiots who do not.
Since I am not going out, I am cooking more. I finally found a place that sells decent olives. This is important since I am doing a lot of Greek/Mediterranean cooking at home. Lots of Gyros and schwarma etc…
I also found a vindaloo paste I like so I can do some proper Indian food. I have a tandoori one as well but have not used it yet.
It is interesting how great fresh fruit tastes right now. I have had some seriously good pineapple in recent weeks.
So the state has reopened. While I have seen lots of good-minded people wearing masks and social distancing, I have still seen a bunch of folks gripping onto that Missouri stubbornness and resolute ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude. It is infuriating.
Believe me, I want to support my local music venues and restaurants and small businesses as much as possible, but I cannot see myself eating in restaurant or going to a concert any time soon. Having said that, I do try and buy things from indie businesses and local restaurants when I can.
Overall, I have faith in most of the people who run these types of places. It’s the idiots I cannot control I worry about. The willfully stupid, blissfully ignorant and completely useless members of society who refuse to wear masks, believe that it is all the flu or simply are just to lazy to adjust their lifestyle to help other people. The selfishness, callousness and rudeness of people really bums me out. After all, how hard is it to be respectful, kind and decent?
And another thing……I hate the humidity. I know this is lost in the shuffle a bit because we are in a pandemic, but man has it been muggy this week. It has made me take earlier walks, which still result in that Missouri feeling of walking into a sweatbox. Generally, the days have started off mild and nice and then after you have been lulled out of the house, the humidity pops around to say hello again. I know it is the weather we are supposed to be having, but I thought with the planet being cooler because of fewer emissions we might catch a break. Phooey!
In appliance news there still is no new fan but one is on order. There is also a nifty new kitchen table and chairs coming since the old one has crapped out after 12 or so years. In other exciting appliance relate news, the AC was fixed. It was making an odd screeching sound when it turned on. the guy came to look at it and found a bunch of the wiring meant it was operating only t 30%. I also need a new cassette player. Weird for 2020. New headphones are coming too, the old ones are fading.
If you need any type of small to moderate sized appliance or furniture the is the time to by because everyone needs the business and stuff is way, way, way on sale!
Vera Lynn died at the age on 103 on June 18th. Her passing marks the end of an age in that she was the last living musical performer from the 1940s. her death means all we have left now is second hand accounts, oral histories and recordings.
Known for entertaining troops in North Africa, Asia and at home during WW2, Lynn was the voice that British troops needed to hear.
As London was being shelled she would venture into Tube stations packed with people escaping the inferno above, and sing to them. How badass is that?
Used by both Stanley Kubrick and Pink Floyd, We’ll Meet Again is one of the definitive songs of the 1940s. In terms of musical relevancy We’ll Meet Again is just as important of a wartime record as White Christmas. Lynn’s As Time Goes By,The White Cliffs of Dover and When You Wish Upon A Star are also terrific. her catalog of hit record is pretty incredible.
To further break it down, she had a musical career that lasted over 70 years. Her compilation album, 100 has charted again, making her the oldest person to post a top 40 album in Britain.
It is interesting that We’ll Meet Again has become a go to song for wedding, funerals, reunions and get togethers. It also remains a song of resilience and hope. That I think is her biggest legacy; she was an artist who made incredible recordings with terrific orchestrations that made listeners forget the world outside.
Her records instilled this beguiling sense of ‘everything is going to be okay’ in those who heard them. And that, at the end of everything, is not a bad legacy to hang your hat on.
I was also bummed that Ian Holm died. He was one of my favorite actors, mainly because he was good and also because he was in literally, everything.
He was terrific in Alien, Brazil, Chariots of Fire, The Fifth Element, Ratatouille, Time Bandits and the mess that was A Life Less Ordinary. Although he is best known for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings films, he also was a fine Shakespearean actor. Holm is one of those actors whose notoriety lies more in his collective body of fine work than his name alone.
I would love to work just one day where some old codger who is not wearing a mask doesn’t lumber into the store like Frankenstein scuttling around in the dark. Just once.
I also want to see the kids get off their asses and think about somebody else for a change and wear a damn mask. Those little bastards are practically carriers at this point.
None of this is going to get any easier if we just pretend it isn’t happening. I for one don’t want to die because some other imbecile is not taking precautions or being careful.
One of the great things about wearing a mask is that people cannot see me mutter things about them. This is good because I end up calling most of them “idiots” or “morons” because of their blind ignorance and stupidity.
I cannot yell at everyone but being stupid but man it would feel good if I could. Most of us decent people would really feel better if we could let off some steam by screaming at the stupid. Alas though, we would also be hoarse.
Also, if you are not covering your nose and mouth you are not really wearing a mask. What you are doing is looking like a complete tool who isn’t even smart enough to figure out how to wear a mask correctly.
I went and got tested this past weekend. It was a mostly painless experience. I didn’t get the headaches or pain that some folks have talked about. But I did get a bloody nose.
I have been reading about music again. I have enjoyed Neil Taylor’s C86 & All That. It is pretty dense and has loads of information about bands and labels of the mid 1980s.
C86 is a min genre of sorts. It is indie music that centers around a cassette compilation released by NME in 1986, featuring new bands (The Mighty Lemon Drops, Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Age of Chance etc..) licensed from British independent record labels of the time.
A lot of it is murky, grimy, fuzzy and jangly. Many of the bands toiled in obscurity before flaming out or hand a short run. In most cases they still have a rapid fanbase today.
I have loved this stuff since high school so this book has been a terrific find. Painstakingly researched, informative, funny and nostalgic it is a pretty thorough history of the genre.
There is a lot to digest. From Alan McGee’s Creation Records to other Indies like Rough Trade, there’s a lot of intrigue and shenanigans to discover. Plus, Taylor shines a new light on many of these forgotten bands who are long overdue for recognition.
Fans of literature, whiskey, pub culture and conversation will enjoy Love by Roddy Doyle.
I have not ready Doyle in awhile but after hearing him on NPR I decided I needed to check this out. It is about two old friends who get together for some drinks. From there things get interesting as secrets are learned and discoveries are made.
Another book I am anxious to plunge into is Lincoln On The Verge.
The book covers Lincoln during his historic 1861 train journey from Springfield, Illinois to Washington D.C. where he will be sworn in as President.
He had a lot on his mind then. The nation was on the precipice of civil war, people doubted his ability to lead and he had his family and cabinet to contend with.
With so much of the world thrown into bedlam and also because I wanted to watch something that would help me escape all of that I started to rewatch Ken Burns Natural Parks: America’s Best Idea. Although I have seen it before it has been terrific to see again. It has is pretty incredible. I mean who doesn’t want to look at amazing nature?
In addition to the history aspect of it, it really is incredible how much geologically cool stuff there is in the USA. I really would like to see Yellowstone, although for the life of me I am not sure how you plan a trip like that.
In the School of Mindless entertainment department….. I watched the first wo Bill & Ted films. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is still a lot of fun to watch. It was stupid and clever at the same time. There also was some terrific casting going on with this movie too. It didn’t really misfire.
Sadly Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was still putrid. It meanders and plods along and has none of the charm of this first movie. I really hope the new film in the series is a return to form.
I also rewatched Waiting for Guffman again.
My oh my is it still funny. Everyone in it is hysterical. Christopher Guest’s Corky is simply the best. Eugene Levy and Fred Willard are also great. Watching Willard be politically incorrect is hilarious and his perfect deadpan delivery is hysterical.
I love everything about this movie!
Knowing several actors and having reviewed theater myself I can personally speak to the fact that there is a lot of truth in this mockumentary. Christopher Guest really had his pulse on community theater in small town America here. Decades after its release it remains a really funny movie.
One of the reasons I like it so much is the cast. As an ensemble every character is memorable. Even characters on the periphery are delightfully fun. There also is a great David Cross cameo in it.
Party Girl is long overdue for a DVD reissue. It may not be Criterion worthy but it still is a lot of fun. The movie follows a girl named Mary who parties hard at the NYC clubs at night and then struggles during the day to find a career. She eventually settles into a job at the New York Public Library.
As someone who went clubbing in New York in the ’90s and also worked in libraries the movie resonates with me on two fronts. It is seriously over the top in places and it features a soundtrack filled with club cuts I had forgotten about.
Although it was released in 1995, it reminds me of movies like The Last Days of Disco in that it features a cast of down and outs looking for salvation in clubs filled with loads of shallow people.
Me, I kept to myself and went for the music, but man I can identify with a lot of characters in this movie. I also love how it glorifies the dewey decimal system. I am telling you the DDS is the best way to rivage your way around a library. Learning it all helps you hone your organizational skills.
It was made in 19 days with a cheap 150k budget. Despite that it still has a huge cult following. I love how it captures the vacuous spirit of that time while remaining nostalgic. The fashion in it is also wonderfully kitsch.
I only went to The Roxy a few times, it was always way too crowded, but I went enough to really get the vibe the movie was going for. A lot of really annoying people went to The Roxy. I was glad I didn’t have to wait in line there.
I had insomnia a few nights ago and watched Demolition Man, a terrible slice of testosterone driven dystopia from 1993 starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Rob Schneider, Denis Leary and Jesse Ventura. Christ it is terrible.
Also in it are Bob Gunton who was the warden in The Shawshank Redemption and Nigel Hawthorne from Yes Prime Minister, The Madness of King George and loads of other things. You have to wonder what Hawthorne was thinking beyond a money grab.
In addition to having loads of random explosions, a loose plot and generally bad acting, it has a kind of camp silliness that makes it impossible to not watch. I know I saw it when it was released but I do not remember neither liking or loving it. I do know that I really wanted it to be so much more.
Seriously, I have been watching a lot of movies.
I finally got around to watching The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. It is a great film that captures the spirit of the time. Richard Burton is in it and spends a lot of time brooding and looking glum. Maybe he really was cold. But this was a great movie about spies and how they think, react and freak out when under pressure.
I also saw Just Mercy which was really good but terribly intense. The acting in it was amazing and it was a good. But I am just not sure I was mentally in a headspace for it. Having said that, it is a film that people should see because its message is very, very important. Michael B. Jordan is an amazing actor and he is going to win an Oscar some day.
I have a lot of silent pictures on deck to watch. The Man With The Movie Camera was released in 1929 and features a day in the life in citizens in Kiev, Odessa, Moscow and Kharkov.
It is designed to highlight a futurist city where modernism is in full swing. Set in the morning and running through the evening, there is no dialogue, just imagery, cut and edited in quick edits.
Director Dziga Vertov did some pioneering work here with motion and multiple exposure. As a result, there are some really interesting edits in it and the pacing never really calms down. It is very busy. It is also considered an achievement in Surrealist film.
Imagine my shock when I saw that PBS was running the INXS concert film Live Baby Live. This 1991 concert film was recorded at Wembley Stadium and has been remastered in 4k. I was a little surprised to see it on since they mostly show different types of programs in evening pledge drive hours.
I had not seen it. I stopped really caring about INXS after What You Need and their ascent into mainstream success. They always came off a big jerks in interviews and I hear that assumption is not off the mark. Still, they had some live charisma on this tour, even though the material was mostly from later albums.
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers is a terrific album. it just dropped this week but it already has the pedigree of a best album of 2020 contender. The songs are lyrically tight and well constructed. She obviously has a great ear for melody as well. Kyoto and Moon Song are great and I love how she wails like a banshee on I Know the End.
Well that is enough drivel for now. Be nice, be kind, wear a mask and hang in there.
But you already know that. While I am all for social change I am really tired of hearing “the new normal,” “this period of change” or any of the buzzy phrases they use now. It is if the labeling and the naming of movements, pandemics and social attitudes has to be explained with a short, cool and catchy sentence. This is probably because we have no attention span and the average person cannot, or will not dig deeper into something without some glossy cover. After all, what is going on now, all of it, is a remarkable moment and I am not sure you can really label it until after all the dust has settled.
It is June and the indoor plants are not dead. Hap (short for Huge Ass Plant) is still growing and I will need to clip some branches soon. There are no flowers or perennials yet but I did just get some potting soil last week so movement on that is forthwith.
Sadly most of that will go to fill the massive indentation left by a car that backed into the yard and left deep tire track impression behind. These are perfect for collecting water during storms and are generally kind of hoosier-y. they also are great homes for mosquitoes. So once those tracks are filled in, plant fun will be in full effect.
I have been reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Not to be enlightened per se, but mainly to help me make sense of the madness we are living in. Immanuel Kant’s philosophy can be neatly sliced into two halves, his theoretical philosophy, which is based on a rational understanding of nature and his more digestible practical philosophy which comprises his beliefs on ethics and political philosophy. touching on the concept of personal freedom, his ideas resonate a little louder now.
So the world is up and running again. Kind of. I have noticed more cars on the street and more traffic as people get back to doing whatever it is they think they need to do. Me, I am still sitting out most activities that involve crowds or people who are too selfish to social distance.
The increase in automobile traffic is kind of a sign, I guess, that people are getting back to some of the things they did before. many begrudgingly. For me, I just can’t be bothered to eat inside a restaurant or go to the mall or go bowling. I am only doing super essential stuff, and then only going to places where I know they will adhere to recommended policies of safety and health etc.
I am still greatly perturbed at the number of assclowns that simply don’t get it. It is not that hard to wear a mask or be socially distant. it also is a terribly nice thing to do as an empathetic human being. It is just like high school; a few stupid knuckleheads are gonna ruin it for everyone. Wear a damn mask people! For crying out loud!
Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of short films. I love short films because they allow the filmmaker to be really creative in compact amount of time. Shorts also allow for some interesting experimentation. The reason for all my viewing was that I got press credentials for Vienna Shorts 2020.
I don’t recall applying for them but an email showed up one day with my access code information and a press kit so I figured I would give it a go. Normally, the fest is held from May 28th to June 2 in Vienna. But this year the entire thing was moved online.
Featuring over 280 short films from around the world there was a lot of interesting stuff. I wrote a more in-depth review for needcoffee.com and will post that later.
If Marvin the Paranoid Android made a short film about bees and insect life you would get In the Company of Insects. A gloriously grumpy short that tackles themes of grief and environmentalism with an apocalyptic vibe about how mankind is toast if the bees are gone. It is an emotionally dense film. It was my favorite short of the festival.
Cinema St. Louis participated in another Film Festival Day. this time the featured film was calledLife In Synchro, a documentary about synchronized skating.
Although it is not yet an Olympic sport, the sport is massively popular. It was really interesting hearing the stories of of skaters past and present and hows their experiences doing synchronized skating changed their lives.
With no new sports happening ESPN has been running some documentary stuff with their 30 For 30 brand. The first of these endeavors was The Last Dance, a ten part series on Michael Jordan and the Bulls teams he played on. Focusing on the 1998 team, it really was much more interesting than I expected it to be. Jordan clearly called the shots with the doc and made sure he came out in a positive light.
However, interviews with other players, teammates and sports analysts paint an interesting portrait of Jordan who at times, comes off as an egomaniac. I was surprised how engaging this was.
My suspicions that MJ was kind of a jerk were pretty much confirmed. But, having said that, the series lays it out there in explaining how he got to be this way. I also was interested in the motivation for his ‘win at all costs’ competitiveness. Jordan may not be the most complex character study, but he remains fascinating in how he succeeded on the court, how he has made a brand of himself and his candidness in talking about his former teammates and Bulls management.
ESPN also profiled Lance Armstrong. Lance was only 2 episodes, as opposed to the 10 for The Last Dance but it certainly did not disappoint. Armston clearly believes his own narrative and he’s made A LOT of mistakes along the way. Hearing him explain his reasoning and, in some cases, own up to things is pretty interesting.
He is a complete tool, make no mistake about that, but this doc really did dig deep into the world of professional cycling and it was riveting. In terms of documentary storytelling this was pretty compelling.
I went into it not expecting much. I knew he was a jerk and an egomaniac who stepped over a lot of people on his path to fame, but I had no idea he was this intense and this insane in telling his own narrative. To be fair, most of the cyclists interviews came off as jerks too.
The is no major league baseball. This makes me sad. I have been watching the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) on ESPN as a replacement. It is pretty strange. They have cheerleaders and flamboyant bat flips and, since there are no fans at games, stuffed animals sitting in the stands. They also piped in audience sounds so the players feel more at home. The baseball itself is pretty good.
One of the odd things about being stuck inside for so long is that you end up watching some strange TV that you otherwise would not. This will be a thing soon for everyone since the networks and streaming channels are soon going to run out of fresh programming. Since I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff streaming and the general ickiness of network TV I have been watching some reruns. Mostly the old detective shows of the 1970s. They had a grit to them and they loved having ensemble guest stars, which allowed things to be fresh each week/
One of the shows I really have grown to like is Barnaby Jones. it eschews good looks and cheap gimmicks in favor of real stories and plots that are not recycled from week to week. Having St. Louis’ own Buddy Ebsen in it doesn’t hurt either. As a detective he does not play around. he is kind of sneaky too which is kind of cool.
Season Two of Dead to Me was just as odd and crazy as the first one. It is one of those programs where overtime you think you have an angle sorted out a new twist is thrown your way.
It is very well written and it has terrific pacing. This season also featured some terrific music in it as well so I am guessing their licensing department is all over finding music that works into the tapestry of the show.
In addition to finishing some freelance work and working on my online classes, I have gotten some time this month to watch more movies! As much as I love short film, I do miss the energy of going to an actual theater.
Despite all of that I most likely will pass on going to see a film in a theater for awhile. I was never a big fan of multiplexes to being with. the confessions are too pricy, the seats are not comfortable and people don’t really care about the movies. This is why I try to support the STL’s art house theaters. They are each pretty well stocked with interesting films and staff who at least knows something about movies.
This is why I am hoping that the films I am looking forward to seeing will stream at the same time they are in megaplexes. Also, is it bad that AMC may go under? They kind of suck.
It was a decision that required lot of thought but I think I hate Grease more than Dirty Dancing. they both are terrible is you ask me, but if I had to pick one. I also hate Top Gun. It is stupid.
Early this morning I watched Zombieland: Double Tap. I simply didn’t;t get around to seeing in it the theaters. I thought the first one was pretty clever and was hoping this one could be fun.
It really was. However, the big mistake I made was watching it during a pandemic. That was kind of a downer.
Having said that, it was a silly bit of distracting fun. Woody Harrelson loves to chew up scenery and I think he is one of those weird actors who can do drama and comedy well.
Overall, if you want a silly distraction and want to just let out some tension this is a fun watch.
Friday and Saturday evenings are the big movie watching nights for me. I had wanted to see Blinded By the Light for some time now and I finally found time to get to it about two weeks ago.
It is one of those fun British films with a great musical score, social messages and plenty of drama mixed with humor. Set in 1987, it is all about The Boss. Javed is a Pakistani. living in Luton whose life is filled with an overbearing father, racism and an English economy where many are on the dole. His way out is his writing, mostly poetry, which gives him a real opportunity to get out. After a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen his life changes in so many ways. The best thing about the movie is that it has its own spirit and energy to it.
In kinda sorta appliance news. There are new blinds in the kitchen. The old ones lasted thirteen years. Also, the AC was being wonky so a guy came to sort it out and discovered it was running at only 30%. He went into the basement and checked some wiring and found ‘3 or 4’ other things that needed to be fixed. He fixed all of it which is terrific since I do not want to be muggy inside in the humid STL summers.
Despite my lackluster excitement about reopening it is great to see so many people in town rallying to support local businesses. I also am excited by all the cool things our arts organizations are doing in lieu of having a regular season of live programming.
The coming days have some interview transcriptions in store for me as well as a few articles, some decluttering and probably more drinking lemonade on my back porch.