Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's the Great Saturday Random Ten, Charlie Brown

Maybe you'd have better luck with her brother?

As promised, I've brought the postponed Friday Random Ten. Miracle of miracles, there may actually be a couple of holiday-appropriate songs.

1. D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus--From Ev'ry Kind of Man Obedience I Expect
2. The Who--Boris the Spider
3. Talk Talk--Happiness is Easy
4. Ladytron--cease2exist
5. The Beatles--Back in the USSR
6. Todd Rundgren--Torch Song
7. Child's View--Assi Que Dodo
8. Nellie McKay--It's a Pose
9. Mika--Blame It On the Girls
10. Sarah Vaughan--Moanin'

Friday, October 30, 2009

Special appearance by God

No Friday Random Ten. Saturday, probably. That way it can be a special Halloween list.

Now, I have tended to make a point of seeing the films of the Coen Brothers when they've first come out, or soon after. So I caught A Serious Man at the end of its only confirmed week at the Avon. While it's possible to find fault with it, I would say this is at least one of their 3 or 4 best, and maybe their most original.

A large part of the film's uniqueness is creditable to Roger Deakins. He's been the Coens' chief cinematographer since Barton Fink, but his images have never looked like this before. An uneasy shimmer lies over the Minnesota suburb seen here, and the movie is at its spookiest when it's daylight and people are outside. Deakins captures the feel of a home movie that's been moldering in a can while the family forgot it. The relative obscurity of the cast helps get this feeling across as well. The biggest names are a handful of supporting actors from TV, the leading actor has appeared little outside of live theatre, and much of the cast is making its first on-camera appearance. So while you know the actors aren't the characters they play, you probably won't have any previous images of the actors either.

This is the Brothers' deepest exploration of the Jewish faith, or more precisely, Jewish doubt. Michael Stuhlbarg's Larry Gopnik is both a harried sitcom dad and an updated Job. If his life isn't completely going to hell, it's at least going somewhere he doesn't like. And the tension shows, all over.

While the three rabbis in the movie all prove to be unhelpful in their own ways--the eldest can't even be lured out of his private sanctum to meet with Larry--the ritual aspect of Judaism is beautiful in its presentation. Maybe there should be more bar mitzvahs in the movies.

The plot unravels in a way during the last fifteen minutes or so. It does so in a way I'm pretty sure is intentional. "Embrace the mystery" is a recurring catchphrase. Someone's been following this advice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More useful notes

First of all, there is no need to panic, because I'm basically doin' aiight.

But, if you go to the emergency room, know two things.

One. That's basically your day. Bring a good book for the waiting room. Try not to freak when your in the exam room for extended periods by yourself.

Two. If you don't have chest pains, be real clear on that fact. If you're all, "well, maybe" they won't leave you alone on it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chuckwagon

Looking through the archives, here's something I never knew existed. It's from the Mike Douglas Show. John Lennon said that Chuck Berry was the first to write intelligent rock n' roll songs, and "Memphis" may be first and foremost among them. It's only fitting that John get to jam with his idol on it (along with Yoko). The results are... interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Low profile Friday Random Ten

Not too much to report. I've heard from a good, fairly old friend this week. And tonight I finished reading Virginia Woolf's Orlando which I have to give high marks to. (Sex-changing immortals. Woo!) Otherwise, mostly just chilling. So I hope this list finds you well.

1. The Beatles--Martha My Dear
2. Stan Kenton--Chorale fro Brass, Piano and Bongo
3. The New Pornographers--The Laws Have Changed
4. Chic--Le Freak
5. Talk Talk--It's My Life
6. Todd Rundgren--Dust in the Wind
7. Grizzly Bear--Ready, Able
8. Little Richard--Lucille
9. Jomi Mitchell--The Jungle Line
10. Mika--Pick Up Off the Floor*

* One of the best album-enders I've heard recently, so not a bad place to finish.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The burn in Hell form letter

To accentuate the positive, this op-ed does imply in its last paragraph that homosexuals love dogs. Which is true. If you're going on vacation, leave Fido with the most stable m/m couple you know and he'll get the care of a lifetime.

Other than that, it's notable that Catholic Andrew Sullivan is appalled to see Donohue's ravings in the Post. Sullivan is gay but also a huge pro-lifer, and was pretty allied with the right wing until recently.

The assumption seems to be that being a person of faith means loathing everyone outside your neighborhood watch group. To be fair, Christ did say something about throwing the first stone. Something like, "For the love of Dad, throw the first stone already." What, that wasn't it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Night of the Video Posts Pt 2: David had a little glam

This is a clip of The Bowie from Britain's Top of the Pops series. Looking quite fetching in orange hair and Harlequin tights. Even beyond that, it's infectious how much fun he's obviously having. And yes, he does let all the children boogie.

Night of the Video Posts Pt 1: Oh Oh Seven

It would be hard for me to describe the convoluted thoughts and clicking that led me to this short. But it's cracked me up every time I've seen it. Best silences ever.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Deep Autumn Friday Random Ten

Yes, true Fall is truly upon us. There are red and brown leaves, yes. And it's getting frosty too. Cold enough to be warm, in fact. To clarify, it got cold enough this week that they turned on the heat in my building. Which was a relief after the couple of frigid nights where the landlord hadn't gotten the message yet.

Some music with which to curl up in front of the fire?

1. Elvis Costello & the Imposters--The Delivery Man
2. Brian Eno--King's Lead Hat
3. T. Rex--Liquid Gang
4. Yo La Tengo--I'm On My Way
5. The Squirrel Nut Zippers--The Interlocutor
6. Green Peppers w/ Sandra Belda--Carry Me Away
7. The New Pornographers--All For Swinging You Around
8. The Who--Whiskey Man
9. Talk Talk--Give It Up
10. Nancy Wilson--For Heaven's Sake

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Make mine mynah

Can't say much here but this is pretty amazing. Can you believe this man-size voice is coming out of that little bird.

It can do dialects too. I wonder if it could handle sexually ambiguous and Southern. I have this Tennessee Williams part in mind.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chinese? Well, that explains the hair

Here's a nice li'l essay on John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate, one of my favorite movies. D'Angelo is right in that the film is weird in a way that it doesn't prepare you for, unlike David Lynch or Peter Greenaway's works. (I'm not familiar with Harmony Korine, except for Kids which he didn't direct.) It's too bad Frankenheimer couldn't really follow it up, but it is a tall order. Seven Days in May is a good thriller, but not as interesting. Seconds is intriguingly weird (and has a surprisingly graphic orgy scene for a movie with fifties stars and production values) but gets dragged down by a clunky script.

Anyway, the article is a good opportunity to see that weird-ass conversation between Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh. The part where she says she introduced herself as "Eugenie" because she was feeling fragile is pretty rich. She's fragile? He's the one who looks like he's about to vomit out his eye sockets.

How great thou arts and crafts

What can I say about this painting, mentioned in passing by Doghouse Riley? Well, the artist certainly gave his brush hand a workout. He's got potential. But there may be just a little too much worry about his process. As he explains on his website, the images represent his conservative values. Why not relax and let the conservatism take care of itself? Looking at the schoolteacher in the lower left grouping, I think what he really wants to paint is Sarah Palin as Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks. And why not? Literally hundreds of art lovers would be interested.

The idea of scrollover explications is intriguing, though. It's too bad Edward Munch never had a website. Can you imagine what he could have told us about this?

BRIDGE: Won't take you anywhere except another horrifying vortex.

DUDE: Screaming. In pain. Life sucks and then you die. The end.

Oh, and for alternate interpretations, do check out Shortpacked.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Random Ten just under the wire

Lest we forget, there is Friday Random Tennage. Last night I was a little too spaced to do any iTunes library editing, but that's not a big disaster. Certainly not for one week.


1. Brian Eno--No One Receiving
2. D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus--Nevermind the Why and Wherefore*
3. The Fiery Furnaces--Keep Me in the Dark
4. Sarah Vaughan--Perdido
5. Todd Rundgren--One More Day (No Word)
6. XTC--Rocket From a Bottle
7. The New Pornographers--From Blown Speakers
8. Nancy Wilson--Never Let Me Go
9. Nellie McKay--Toto Dies
10. Sun Ra--Jet Flight

* This one is from Pinafore.


When I was in high school I got to be something of a political junkie, wanting to know who all the US Senators were and what they were arguing about. So since the school library had many back issues of The New Republic. I found a lot of the articles informative and well-written, and if you want to interpret the latter as "bitchy" go right ahead.

Even then Marty Peretz's fixation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict weirded me out. Whenever things heated up, you'd see these denunciations of the entire Arab people that made them sound like one was about to burst from John Hurt's chest. I do remember Michael Kinsley being something of a voice of dissent, reminding readers that being Jewish didn't have to translate into rubber-stamping Israel's every move. (Yes, he is. Yes, the surname can confuse the point.) But by and large the "Palestinians as vicious parasites" view held sway.

Which hasn't changed at all, according to Philip Weiss. And the latest berserk button is the Goldstone report.

Another hit at the Goldstone Report in the New Republic, this by the American/ Israeli tribal minder Yossi Klein Halevi. Perverse, flailing, almost incoherent. He argues that Goldstone’s vicious report, by the blame it lays on Israel, will encourage Israel to act next time with much less restraint. (So as to leave NO witnesses behind?) By shining a light on dark deeds, and driving deeper-in the anger and resentment of those who committed the deeds, Goldstone thus becomes a chief bearer of prospective responsibility for the wickedness of all the future
atrocities committed by the state of Israel.

I've said this in so many words before. When you're doing something self-destructive, your real friends will tell you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stuff it

One of the best things about the digital conversion has been the addition of Retro Television (RTV) to local broadcasting. And maybe the best thing about that is that you can see old episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents without cable.

Tonight's rerun was about a taxidermist, but not exactly like that one. No, he's a regular married guy who makes a living at it. Well, his wife's little brother comes to stay with him, and he's a sleazy malingerer. And to make a long story short, the jerkwad in-law's crazy demands start endangering his own sister's health. Well, the husband is stuffing a horse for the town's 100 year time capsule. And there happens to be a lot of room in the horse. Enough for a grown man's body, even...

This story will help me get through tomorrow. If that guy can look his problems in the face and come up with a workable solution, maybe I can too.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Robert Plant sez "Better Led than dead"

Mark Patinkin is one of the few parts of the Providence Journal that's still locally produced. That's generally not enough of a value-added for me to buy it. Look here to see what I'm talkin' 'bout.

"If you don't like it here why don't you fly to Russia. Then travel back in time 25 years."

I mean, how fucked are we if that's the system's best defense?

For the record, I ain't no red and I don't think competition is the problem. The problem is us internalizing the results and assuming that those who wind up ahead are just plain worth more. That's how you wind up with people showing up at town hall meetings with guns, demanding that the government not cover their health care. Three-block lines for toilet paper in Red Square may have been a problem, but ours are different.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Random Ten lolcat edishun


1. Johnny Mathis--WANDERBL! WANDERBL! [Wonderful! Wonderful!]
2. Talking Heads--ELECTRIC GUITAR [Electric Guitar]
3. Little Richard--OOH! MAH SOUL [Ooh! My Soul]
4. Joni Mitchell--EDITH AN TEH KINGPIN [Edith and the Kingpin]
5. Sarah Vaughan--DREAMY [Dreamy]
6. The Who--DISGUISEZ [Disguises]
7. Matthew Shipp--PARADOX X [Paradox X]
8. The Squirrel Nut Zippers--TWILIGHT [Twilight]
9. XTC--BURNIN WIF OPTIMISMS FLAME [Burning With Optimism's Flame]
10. Yo La Tengo--HER 2 FALL [Here to Fall]

Well, according to the official translator half the titles didn't really change. That might seem disappointing, but also shows that we may have more in common with cute kitty macros than we thought.