And now…the Weather

Maybe it is just me but things seem pretty messed up. We are in the final quarter of the year already and it feels like things are just piling on. COVID, Monkeypox, the war in the Ukraine, women’s rights, drought, fires, civil rights, the Queen dying, and those endless Camp LeJune commercials. The strains of the world seem neverending. The entire year has just felt overwhelming. It’s not much of a surprise. After all, the last two have been rubbish as well.

With autumn here, I think about I Can’t Forget by Leonard Cohen

The summer’s almost gone
The winter’s tuning up
Yeah, the summer’s gone
But a lot goes on forever

I am not sure why, but I listen to more Leonard Cohen in the fall than any other time of year.

Despite the wonderful cool weather of late, the weather this year has also been really frustrating. Everything is goofy right now. Earlier this spring the weather was atrocious. It was insanely hot earlier in the year than normal. Then we got rain, rain and more rain before a nice stretch of weather. Then it got hot again before being nice out.

I hope winter is mild. I hate winter.

Things have not been heating up at the box office. Outside of the newest Marvel film or something interesting, there’s not a lot of great movies coming out. The Top Gun film has been around awhile and still looks stupid to me. I don’t get it.

I was pleasantly surprised with Elvis. I have never liked Baz Luhrmann films all that much but this one was pretty decent. The acting was terrific and the casting was pretty spot on. although his propensity for using contemporary music in historical films drives me nuts.

Growing up I knew a lot of people who loved Elvis. I never had to buy any of his albums because I knew so many other people who had them. Now that I am older I appreciate him more. I’m not sure he was an innovative music as Little Richard or his other contemporaries, but knowing how to put on a show really helped set him apart. I also think that if he didn’t scare the bejeepers out of ’50s America there would not have been such a fuss.

In August the Classic French Film Festival screened Amelie at Webster University. It made me miss Paris. I had not seen since maybe 2002 or 2003. I think it is still an odd and quirky film. The visuals are amazing and the movie has some very strange characters in it. Audrey Tautou is still perfect and I love everything that Dominique Pinon is in. He does these odd facial movements that really bring a little extra to his goofy characters.

Ray Liotta had the best voice ever. After he passed I watched Goodfellas again. It remains one of my favorite films.

He had a bunch of other cool roles, but beyond Goodfellas. I also liked him in Something Wild. He was pretty creepy in that. Early on, we got to see him work that intense stare he had. He was outstanding in that movie.

I did see Bullet Train. it was mindless fun styled in the vein of the Asian action films of the 1990s that I love. It also has a Knives Out vibe going on. Brad Pitt is nuanced in it which is great since the rest of the ensemble kills it. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is also great in it.

I know streaming services have some terrific stuff out, and there are a lot of choices, but I am old and still like the idea of going to movies. It still sucks that the Tivoli is out of commission. It is a crime to have a theater that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places dark with no films being screened.

I also wish we had more choices for independent films. The Webster Film Series has been great and Silents, Please STL has done some cool things, but it’s a bummer when the Plaza Frontenac theater is the main player in town. It’s a fine facility, it just feels esoteric and it’s in a mall filled with snooty people. The Hi-Pointe is also great, but it only has two screens. However, the best deal in town may well be The Arkadin, which is doing a lot of really cool programming.

I am still catching up on my Marvel TV shows, but I did see Thor: Love and Thunder. It was a fun, escapist romp with some nods to 80s films. However, it had too many Guns N’ Roses songs in it.

I also saw Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris. The acting was terrific and it was a nice charming film. It is based on the 1958 novel by Paul Gallico and stars Lesley Manville.

It is a lot of fun. Mrs. Harris is a widowed cleaning lady whose attempts to get her own Christian Dior dress changes the lives of those she encounters.

The film has some nice comedic flourishes and features some wonderful acting from the ensemble. Isabelle Huppert is also terrific in it.

Over the last few months one of the bummers about watching Jeopardy! has been the sea of terrible political ads being run during commercial breaks. Never mind the tone, the production value of these is pretty bad. I also really am annoyed by the new Meineke ad where the guy speaks in a terrible German accent. it’s pretty lame and very insulting. Even if you are not German or German-American, you can’t help but be peeved by how terrible it is.

Luckily there is a new season of Jeopardy! and, for now, there are fewer political ads. But I am sure that will change in a few weeks.

Commercials Suck

And while I am at it, please fire the Liberty Mutual marketing department. They have created two campaigns that are annoying, There is the stupid one with people standing on camera with the Statue of Liberty behind them. None of them have been interesting and the people they have had in them are pretty underwhelming. The other campaign with the stupid emu guy is also hideous.

I also think that every local lawyer or car salesman should be barred from TV. They all talk like it is 1978 and they simply don’t understand the fact that people have no money right now.

It is this kind of nonsense that has made streaming services so popular. People do not like commercial breaks and they especially do not like them if they feel like they are being treated like a small child.

Some Music Stuff

Guy Chadwick’s The House of Love has released new music for the first time in nine years. The new album is called A State of Grace and feature the single, Clouds.

There is a short tour coming to the USA later in the year. I am impressed by how well his voice has held up.

I’ve been listening to the Panda Bear & Sonic Boom collaboration, Reset. The project came about when both artists shared their passion for ’60s pop.

The result is am elegant album that avoids revivalism in favor of excellent songwriting. Reset also benefits from some placed hooks that make the melodies catchier, especially Gettin’ to the Point.

Having seen the ticket prices for the next Depeche Mode tour I remain irritated by the amount of money being charged for live shows. it is scandalous. In addition to being uncomfortable, most of these large venues have terrible acoustics.

Appliance Related News

After months of delays, the lighting fixture in the computer room has been replaced. One of the downsides of living in an old building is that fixtures can be a nightmare to replace.

We also found a replacement bulb for one of the lights along the bathroom mirror. it too was a bit tricky to find.

Wear Black

On the positive side, it is cool black overcoat and boots weather. I am not opposed to cold weather, just the stuff that gets below freezing and brings snow and ice with it. There is a certain pleasant melancholy to autumn that is enjoyable. The leaves changing colors are also nice as well. The fall also means it is time to do more baking. There is also something therapeutic about baking.

I apologize for the simplistic rambling of this entry. I’ve been crazy busy over the last few months and I’ve been neglecting keeping this thing updated. I will try and fix all of that.

Note: During the time you read this over 700 commercials about Camp LeJune have aired on television.

Throw MAGA from the Train

The Doors sang about how people were strange. Well, if they did that now they would sing about people being stupid. These days, people are being just that. it soent matter what political affiliation they are or where they went to school or what they eat for breakfast, people today are just nuts.

Every day I get up and do my part, only to encounter a bunch of useless imbeciles who don’t do theirs. I might add they also have rubbish taste in films and music. it is all so maddening. Why have people suddenly reverted to pre-COVID 2019? It is like they forgot every lesson they learned and went back to doing everything they could be selfish consumerists again. It amazes me how many people are meandering around aimlessly like there was never a pandemic. I know folks are excited to get back out into the world, but in their excitement to do so they have become nuts.

Another thing is that it’s like there was no reset button. People learned nothing and adapted their post-pandemic behavior in no way at all. They still are rude, talk during movies, cut lines, and drive like imbeciles. They also care nothing about the environment. It’s like they’re feral.

A few weeks ago I took Amtrak to Chicago. It was so much of a change of pace from the insanity of flying right now. The train was clean and the seats were comfortable. Although it takes a lot longer to get there by train from St. Louis, it was nice to not rush and get some serious reading done and listen to music.

Unfortunately, there was a wild pack of assclowns in my car. They were older and going up to Chicago for a weekend. They were excited to smoke cigars, buy very, very pricy whiskey and pick up chicks in clubs. They were annoying! I didn’t have the heart to tell them. that were not going to pick up any “chicks” because they (a) were morons, and (b) no one is going to the disco right now.

But the biggest thing that got on my damn nerves is that they just wouldn’t wear a mask. A few of them half-assed it and wore it under the nose. However, one guy, a painfully tan Kenny Rogers guy, didn’t wear his on the entire trip. I spoke to the conductor about it after he sneezed a few times. But I got nowhere. Finally, I added a third mask and went on with my business pausing every few minutes to process the stupidity coming from his mouth.

It was a full train so I couldn’t move seats. But if I did I would have missed out on stimulating conversation from the Kenny Rogers guy. He would not stop commenting about the black fencing behind the train stations at every stop, saying “I bet the governor’s brother got that contract.” The repetition was friggin’ irritating. Clearly, this is someone who needs attention and has no sense of imagination. Other topics of conversation were Kid Rock, how big courthouses were, gambling, checking into the hotel early, hoping they wouldn’t get shot in Chicago, copy machines, and how nice it was to get away for a party weekend. Yuck.

Coming home was much better. The conductor on the train was snot screwing around you got two warnings about makes and then your ass got thrown off the train. It didn’t matter where. Our car was full but everyone seemed to be quiet and minding their own business. The best part is that they didn’t talk so loudly that everyone knew their business.

It was a quiet evening trip home until we reached Springfield, Illinois. There some moron pulled the emergency switch because he was upset he had t wear a mask. The train crew was apologetic. When this happens there’s a bunch of protocols that are in place they have to follow. It slows everything down. Luckily, they managed to get everything done quickly and threw the culprit off the train.

Despite all of this, I still would take a train now. It is comfortable and you can relax. I would however go, business class, since you don’t (normally) get all the dumbasses that ride in coach, and each seat has outlets for computers, phones, etc.

I had not been in Chicago for over two years. It was weird coming off the train and going into a deserted downtown at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon. Oddly, it was like this for the entire weekend the city was pretty empty. I went to Quimby’s and Myopic Books. Both are terrific, inexpensive, and independently owned. Quimby’s sells zines and a lot of cool indie books you cannot get anywhere else. Myopic has loads of really interesting stuff. Their music and film sections are very strong.

Overall, stores, museums, and businesses were closing early which was kind of weird for a city that is normally so busy. The weather was great so a lot of people were dining outside and walking around Millenium Park. People were wearing masks and being civil except there was not a lot of social distancing happening. I know we are supposed to be ‘coming out of all of this, but I am being careful and vigilant because there are so many morons out there.

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about Chicago over the years is how the West Loop has gone bonkers. I used to go there for underground parties and concerts, It reminds me of Chelsea in New York now in that the gentrification has just gotten ridiculous and eliminated a lot of the character of the region.

While I still love the more Bohemian eats in Pilsen, I did have. a nice meal at Cabra. I wanted to go to a nice place fr my birthday weekend and this place did not disappoint. Their empanadas and ceviches. were great.

In addition to seeing some old friends in real life, it was great to get back to the Art Institute. In addition to seeing all my favorite works, I got to get a gander at the new Tiffany window that this pretty cool. It came from a church in Pennsylvania and was restored. it looks amazing.

I loved the André Kertész exhibition.

Although the exhibition is pretty small, there’s a lot of really wonderful stuff here. His postcards from Paris give you an idea of what the City of Light was like in the 1920s.

The weather was unseasonably warm which made it great for doing stuff outside. This is good since I was careful about where I was going with the pandemic going on. I did dine outside and wore masks whenever I was inside or around a lot of people.

It is interesting how seriously everyone there is taking mandates. The businesses are drawing in people despite the mandate and restaurants have mostly pivoted to this new world. It is a far cry from here where people bitch and moan about everything.

Every time I go there I find something new and unexpected. That is one of the reasons why I keep going there, even if a lot of the places I love have gone away.

Here are some other things that have bugged me over the last few months…

It has been my experience that people who own large boats, tend to be jerks.’

Law & Order does not need to return.

I have no idea why, but people who own cream-colored patio furniture tend to drive me nuts.

For decades people have bought newspapers, folded them neatly, and carried them under their arms. Now everyone wants them in paper bags. Mother Earth thanks you for doing this you lazy bastards. Newspapers are generally lightweight and foldable. They fit nicely anywhere, so why put them in a bag? Unless sit is raining. Otherwise, it is lazy.

Also, in our age of technological wonder why do people wait around for a receipt when they check out? In some cases, it is like they are waiting for the messiah.

I don’t mean for things that could be returnable or need tracking like a TV, clothes, mail, or groceries, I mean like one candy bar or a can of soda or a pack of smokes. Look in your online banking account. It’s there. why waste paper if you don’t have to?

Yes, I alluded to this earlier, but really, if you have been dying to go back to the movies then shut the hell up during the film. You’ve had 15 months to talk to the person next to you, you can be quiet for two hours.

I still am annoyed by pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes. I understand this makes me even more unpopular.

Candy Corn is just wrong!

People who don’t tip right now are evil and mean.

I have learned that the new season of Top Chef is going to be in Houston. While I have heard the city has an amazing food scene going on, I think they should pull out because of the state’s blatant attempts at voter suppression. I am surprised since Tom and Padma are so in tune with the world.

There’s a lot of music stuff going on. In addition to his recent Nightmare Before Christmas live concert, Danny Elfman has been actively making music! Now soundtrack, but actual noisy music.

While most of us were sitting on our couch during the pandemic Danny Elfman was making music. Not his wonderful cinema compositions, but real, agitated, rock and roll. Arriving 37 years after his debut, So Lo, Big Mess is loud, brazen, and raw.

Much louder and more visceral than his orchestral scores, the album illustrates Elfman’s skill at crafting melodies that mesh styles and forms. The record also is a reminder of Elfman’s terrific songwriting abilities, dusted off here, they have not gone stale.

Amongst my favorites are Sorry, Happy, Love in the Time of Covid, and True. Dark and brooding, We Belong is the perfect mix of the elegiac and the sorrowful.

Wet Leg are from the Isle of Wight. They have a few singles out and an album dropping soon on Domino. They also have some American live dates coming up.

Sonically, they have a terrific sense of melody and their lyrics are gloriously fun. They are going to be huge.

One of the things I did during the pandemic was read a bunch and learn more about the artists I had an interest in but not much knowledge of. I have always liked what I have seen from James Ensor but had not known very much about him. I saw an exhibition of his work at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years ago and ever since then, I wanted to dig deeper.

There was a cool book of his work at a local used bookstore and I picked it up. It was pretty interesting. As a side note, there is a They Might Be Giants song about him too.

His artwork uses distorted forms and features lots of masks and people hiding their true visages. He also has a lot of symbolic imagery going on which is pretty interesting.

As an artist and printmaker, he was a pretty big influence on the Dada movement as well as Expressionists and surrealists. He was pretty dark. His work has a macabre feel to it that celebrates the grotesque, while also satirizing upper-crust privilege. Artistically, lot going on in his noggin.

It was great seeing Dune on the big screen. It looks amazing. The acting was great and the cinematography is gorgeous.

I wrote about it for!

Anytime you adapt a book it can be problematic. People have their imagery in their minds and trespassing on that will never live up to their concepts or imagination. However here, I don’t have any issue with how characters were depicted. The world building is awesome, and the costumes and effects are great.

I saw Filibus, a 1915 Italian silent film directed by Mario Roncoroni and written by science fiction writer Giovanni Bertinetti.

It has recently been restored, and although it has some glitches in the print, it looks fantastic. Running just over an hour it is formatted as a serial, it is filled with a lot of fun action and swashbuckling antics.

Shot on location in the Italian Riviera, Filibus is about a cross dressing sky pirate who uses her airship to pull off daring capers. Holding a grudge again the well-to do, her robberies and grandiose and bold.

It screened at Webster University and was sponsored by Silents, Please STL who are doing some really coolstuff around town! This makes me happy since I love silent movies!

As the fall moves into the winter the leaves are falling and the commercial wheels of Christmas have already began spin. A few places already have lights up. Ugh! I also don’t want to see that dumb TV commercial where the guy buys his grilfriend a car as a Christmas gift. Who does that?

All I really want for the autumn is to have a real break between Halloween and Christmas. it seems that now the stores just jump into the yuletide season on November 1st and it is kind of dumb. Call me old fashioned, but I like the break. I want some time to prepare for the holidays, or at least, develop an escape plan.