Silents & Some Jams

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.

Of Masks and Men

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.

https://kdhx.org/articles/music-news/2051-telling-stories-with-tim-burgess

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.

Randomness…

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.

Link: https://www.festrail.co.uk

I miss being able to travel. I still have no desire to eat inside a restaurant or go bowling. I wish I could say this is all going away, but nope it is not.

I just want one day where it does;t feel like 2020 is piling on. Just one. Ok, maybe a few. Like the rest of the year.

Easy Like Friday Morning

This is a pretty short post.

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.

Clearly this will be an exciting day.

Me and Ennio Down By the Schoolyard

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.

Exciting news in daunting times.

We’ve Got A Long Way To Go & A Short Time To Get There

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.

Stay home, wear a mask if you go out and be kind!

Missouri Goddamn

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.

Plants, Kant & Automobiles

Wow things are really crazy right now!

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 called Life 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.

The Sound & the Blurry

So, somehow at a time when nothing has been going on, I have been too busy to actually update this thing. Everything has been a big blur.

Days move into days and are suddenly weekends. A few minutes online suddenly becomes hours and going out has turned into a big pain in the ass. The worst part is that I still feel there is not enough time to get things done and it is kind of a bummer.

Despite being furloughed and having only my PT job, I have been insanely busy. for starters I had three freelance projects to work on. The latter was a beast with a client that gave me a two word outline and orders to ‘go.’ Don’t get me wrong the income has been sorely needed.

I hate the getting ready to go out followed by the coming in from going out. it takes so long and is such an annoying process. But this is the new normal.

So, when I have gone out it has been brief. I have been to Whisk on Cherokee a few times to pick up the amazing scones and popsicles they have been making. The strawberry hibiscus one is incredible. I want to support local business and they have never steered me astray.

It has been weird to see Cherokee street deserted and without any signs of life. Surreal actually. The Loop has bene mostly quiet. When I take my walks it is on a vacant lot or around the block a few times. It has been interesting to notice the amount of idiots outside who are not social distancing.

It has been amazing to see how many people just don’t care. I mean it is not that hard to keep away from other people. I think the hardest thing is remaining composed in the presence of the stupid who just don’t get it or have no desire to not be selfish.

This also goes for people shopping. Get what you need and get out people. don’t dawdle or linger or be annoying. This is not the time to browse or wander aimlessly.

In appliance news…..The tv remote crapped out. I had an older model that worked but I ordered a new one. It got here pretty fast, which surprised me. The food processor decided to call it a day so there is now a nifty new a Cuisinart (purchased with Target gift cards) in its stead.

I have been taking some online classes. The ones I have taken with the MoMA have been very interesting. It is nice to explore learning right now.

There is one on the history of photography that I have enjoyed. The MoMA has a Dorothea Lange exhibition right now that is virtual but will be going live again when they reopen.

I also want to see the Basquiat show that is in Boston. it looks amazing!

It looks amazing. They are still doing some interesting stuff with it, even though it has technically closed.

I saw Little Richard play at Chuck Berry’s 70th birthday party at The Pageant in October of 2001. From the time he walked on stage to the end of is set he was utterly mesmerizing.

His hips were obviously in bad shape but the voice was immaculate. It was one of those voices that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Seeing him live underscored that he was the consummate showman.

He had so many amazing records. I know he has a slew of great singles, but I really am partial to Rip It Up. It is raw and tough and amazing.

Seeing him live it was easy to understand why his impact on both Bowie and Prince was so profound. I know people talk about Elvis a lot as the King of rock and everything, but really, the crown should go to Little Richard. He was a revolutionary.

I was also bummed to hear about the passing of Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk. I love Kraftwerk.

He was responsible for some really influential music and his legacy is also pretty profound. I was looking forward to seeing Kraftwerk at The Pageant this summer but I think that is not happening.

In a related note Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD) streamed an archived concert from their last tour.

Billed as “Live From Your Sofa” it was a really good show and a welcome relief from the tedium of the world.

I also watched some recorded concert sets from Dinosaur Jr. and Warpaint that were really amazing.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album of super short songs. They are quirky and odd and lovely all at once.

But don’t let the brevity fool you. Quickies is a terrific set of tunes. I have really enjoyed hearing their short little bursts of pop awesomeness.

The new X album Alphabetland is the best record of the year.

It is a burst of much needed punk rock attitude. I ti s a 30 minute bombast of adrenaline. I interviewed John Doe last week and he was really cool and nice and genuine.

One of the ways I am escaping right now is by sitting on my porch. There are so many birds out and it is nice to hear them. I am also taking walks which has been nice, except when there are idiots.

I still think it is too soon to reopen.

I have been watching The Last Dance on ESPN. While I am not the biggest basketball fan I appreciated Michael Jordan as a player. Having said that, my interest has been from more of a documentary film perspective. As a documentary it does everything it is supposed to do. The best thing is you do not need to be a fan of the NBA to enjoy it.

Sadly, Michael Jordan is the big jerk I suspected he was. I know being that famous would have a profound affect on someone, but he acted like an entitled baby a lot and was kind of a bully. Still, the 10 part series is compelling TV.

I am glad Dead To Me is back. It is such delicious fun.

The character dynamics are really interesting and has a great blend of hilarity, sadness and humor. Like most good dramas its main characters make poor decisions all the time.

I am curious to see where this goes moving forward.

On the other side of life, I cannot recommend Schitt’s Creek enough. It is hilarious and shows that sitcoms can be funny in the right hands. Especially if those making it are fearless and connected to the human psyche.

It is pretty inexplicable but I have been watch the late night reruns of Cannon and Barnaby Jones. I want to start by saying that Cannon needs to trim his sideburns. Those things have a life of their own. I love how Frank Cannon doesn’t take any crap and is kind of a curmudgeon. He also rocked that old school car phone.

As for Barnaby Jones there is something soothing about watching Buddy Ebsen do his thing. He is very sneaky and devious but in a very understated way. He also was catching people who have made some poor decisions.

I love how Quinn Martin Productions had a deal with Cadillac and LTD to use big cars. Every show had big cars in it.

Well that is a fade out for this one. In future days I will endeavor to do this more and not get behind.

Stay inside, be safe and get of my damn lawn!

Insert Title Here

So the longish days of April have turned into May. It is May Day, and I cannot help but think of working and how hard most people have it by working underpaying jobs where they have to deal with incredibly annoying people.

Before any of this started I had my doubts on how working people could make ends meet, but now the system has been nearly destroyed and I am not sure what is next.

I do know that I am not keen on going back to the way it was unless there are some real opportunities. I am fine with making the trade off of working with people I like and taking less pay for personal happiness. I mean happiness is way better in the long run. But, that pay must be fair and at least remain sustainable.

However, now the arduous task of sniffing around and networking is afoot. Like Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery, I am sniffing out my next gig and hustling to solve thing sand sort it all out.

I am working a bit at my job and still applying for other things which has been nice. I know this much, I am done with having to deal with large groups of people if at all possible.

I love how St. Louis has come together to help small businesses whenever possible. There is a nifty new farmer’s market that has popped up down the street. They have pretty much everything and it is affordable. I am avoiding the grocery store if I can and making do with ordering from local stores when I can. The international grocery store down the street is still open so if I need anything in a pinch there is that.

One nice thing about our city is that it, for the most part, has decent citizens who actually respect other people. As a result, this thing has seen folks come together and help others. Whether it is making masks, checking in on folks, shopping local or supporting the local arts. It is nice to not be divisive.

A lot the museums and arts organizations are working to provide some interesting content right now. I think just getting their name out in the public consciousness really helps a lot.

In appliance news, the food processor is kaput. There’s still some scratch left on the Target gift card so I guess shopping could sort there. But I would rather buy local.

Everything I was looking forward to has been canceled. I was supposed to be in Chicago this week. I miss Chicago. I have a monthly planner but it is pretty useless at this point. Unless I write in ‘stay at home’ each day. I am trying to watch some theater stuff that is being offered and a few concerts etc… So I could put that all in there but it seems pointless since I find I am not looking at it much.

I am taking a few online classes and that has surprisingly eaten into a lot of my time. Yale has a happiness class that apparently is all the rage and the most popular one offered on campus. I am taking a free version of it and it has been interesting. Part Psychology, part mindfulness and part ‘get your shit together,’ The Science of Well Being has been a good way to declutter mentally and sort of assess where things are it.

I also am taking two classes through MoMA in New York. One is Modern Art & Ideas and the other is Seeing Through Photographs. I just started the former this week and the latter about two weeks ago. They both have been pretty great. As someone who likes art and often has to write doubt it for various outlets, it has bene informative. I had a so so art history teacher in college so this has been great. I have always liked photography and am enjoying learning a lot more about it.

I did an online lecture last night for their current exhibition, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures.

You can take the virtual tour of the exhibition and see some interactive content on the MoMA website. I have always loved her work and it was really cool getting some context about it.

The next class I start isThe Modern World, Part One: Global History from 1760 to 1910. It is through Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I have studied a lot of this before in school but I wanted a deep dive.

These are all mostly 5-6 weeks long so after this I can move on to some other stuff. I also have been studying up on analytics, marketing trends and doing as much writing as I can.

I have also been watching some movies, I saw Tokyo Joe early this morning.

It is a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1949 and finds him in postwar Tokyo. It is not as good as some of his other stuff but I had not seen it before.

I also am watching. SXSW films on Amazon. some are shorts, some are docs and feature lengths. I enjoyed My Darling Vivian, a documentary about Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto. It was really interesting.

I also started watching Schitt’s Creek which has been fun. Dead To me is starting next week and I am looking forward to that. I am behind in watching a lot of stuff I wanted to see, but it is not like I am going out dancing anytime soon or anything.

The worst thing is trying to sort out sleep. it has been frustrating.

I did interview Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s about her new book, All I Ever Wanted. It is a very interesting read.

I still have a stack of magazines and books to get to so next time I may have more interesting things to write about.

I have been listening to a lot of music. I have made an effort to listen to the new albums by Fiona Apple and Hazel English. There also is Alphabetland, the new record from X. It is loud and fun! I also like this band called Catholic Action. They are from Glasgow and really have good melodies.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album coming out called Quickies. That should be fun too.

RIP to the great Tony Allen. His latest album, Rejoice is amazing. He was an amazing drummer and will be missed. This album is fantastic.

Well that is it for now. sorry for the delay. Stay inside. Please stay inside.

Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid

Ok, if I hear “in these uncertain times,” or “in these difficult times,” or “with these changing times” anymore, I am going to yell loudly. The English language has loads of other words and phrases that people can use to describe all of this. Stop being lazy and obvious!

Also, those phrases don’t give people warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s like telling people The Beatles are out there to listen to but they have to listen to Third Eye Blind for awhile. Do your damn job marketing people and think of something else. It is just lazy and, frankly, sort of annoying.

So things now are all about routines. I try to have a set task for each day with a few other things to clean up. There’s webinars, job searching, the St. Louis art Museum’s object of the day and loads of zoo webcams. At night, I listen to Patrick Stewart reading a sonnet. He has a different one each day.

I also am trying to find time to laugh. This is why I am listening to a Lenny Bruce bit each day as often as possible. It’s not overdone or cute or simple. it is raw, honest and funny in a way where your brain is engaged.

As an extrovert I am surprised I am ok being separated from people. I am checking in on folks and saying hello to old friends now and then, but really I am ok social distancing. People are idiots and I am fine with not talking to strangers. I am of a generation where our formative years were spent trying not to get our ass kicked in high school for having a weird haircut and a jacket with buttons and badges all over it. So, for me, avoiding people is kind of old hat.

It reminds me of all of the terrors of Catholic school and social status and all that nonsense. What all this means is that those years of being a ‘weirdo’ in high school are paying off. I sure am glad I learned how to read.

I am really bummed about Bill Withers passing. I really loved his records. There was never a time when I ‘wasn’t in the mood’ to hear Bill Withers. he had a terrific catalog of songs and I think it is sad he didn’t get more mainstream attention. He really didn’t make a bad record.

John Prine’s passing is really sad. It was nice to see him get more notoriety over the last few years. he was one of our country’s best storyteller and his music was moving, fun, spirited and emotional.

Not much on the movie front. I have been watching some old films from the 1970’s and some film noir. The Taking o f Pelham One Two Three is not only a great movie, but an interesting slice of life of America in 1974. Walter Mathau is great in it. I want to be him when I grow up.

I also saw an indie film called Phoenix, Oregon. it was streamed nationally as part of film Festival Day. It is about these guys who buy a bowling alley becsuase there regular job sucks. Here is a link: https://phoenixoregonmovie.com.

I have discovered a band called Deutsche Ashram. They have a new album out called Whisper Om that has been calming and catchy.

They are very dead poppy but also have some textures and density to their music. https://deutscheashram.bandcamp.com

There also is a new album out from The Strokes but I haven’t dug too deep into it yet.

I did listen to Felt for the first time in ages yesterday. I forgot how much I liked their records. They formed in 1979 in Water Orton, Warwickshire and have this jangly sound that matures into more adventurous terrain. They are pretty obscure in certain circles, but the kids in the know appreciate the harmonies and nuanced songwriting.

I am still hustling. I finished a freelance technical writing project and have move onto a full on magazine piece. But “in these trying times” you have to take whatever you can get. I do know that I am never going back to any sort of frontline retail if I can help it. Especially since people are rude and uncaring and selfish.

I do miss baseball.

Sadly, I am not expecting to see any live music for the foreseeable future. it is a shame too since there was a lot of shows I was looking forward to seeing. In the meantime, I have books and music and word puzzles to keep me busy.

In appliance news, the dishwasher and washing machine are getting good workouts. I wish I had a freezer too.

I am plowing through All I Ever Wanted, the memoir from The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. From Austin to the heyday of LA’s punk underground and the rise of new wave pop, she has pretty much seen it all. The narrative is pretty straightforward and no nonsense. It also is candid and honest and free of sugar coating.

This would be a good time to read The American People in the Great Depression by David M. Kennedy.

It is part of the Oxford History of the United States series and is very good. There is some pretty scary and stark stuff in there but it is something people should know anyway. My grandmother always told me stories about the Great Depression and it was pretty sad stuff.

Well I guess you didn’t read this to be cheered up did you?