Friday, January 28, 2011

Heavy Rotation on my iPod: Gangster Soul: Girlz Harmony Vol.1 & Vol. 2

Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:42:34 PM

Sometimes I like to listen to sad songs; my first choice is usually Gangster Soul: Girlz Harmony, Vol. 1,  a collection of soul recordings featuring female vocals, probably from the early 1970's. Last night I received volume two of the series and I am enjoying it as much as the first.
I may be wrong, but it seems that every region of the country had its own thriving soul and rhythm and blues recording label at one time.  These countless soul singles, from artists almost completely forgotten, turn up in these anthologies to remind us of what glory there is in the human voice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I (Half) Watched Last Night: Godzilla v Hedorah

I haven't been posting much lately because I just can't seem to stay awake long enough to write anything.

The other day I came across the classic, Godzilla v., Hedorah  at, a HULU type streaming site. Here is what Crackle has to say:
     "One of the grooviest and weirdest of all Godzilla flicks thanks to a hippie-rock soundtrack and a terrifying toxic foe."  Psychedelic Gojira?  I love Godzilla movies, always have, ever since I was a kid.
I didn't make it through the whole movie, but what I did see was pretty typical until the nightclub scene.   To set the stage, the seas around Japan are beset by a mysterious monster that seems to feed on industrial waste-who knew? When the creature first slithers onto land to feed and fight with Godzilla, Yoshimitsu Banno, the director, cut in scenes of a psychedelic band playing in a nightclub, complete with a liquid light show:

Vitriolic Venting

To all my fellow netizens who post pictures in public and semi public places and are either too lazy (or stupid?) to orientate them correctly, your Internet privileged should be revoked.

Also to those of you who send Email from your smart phones or similar, mobile devices and haven't changed the signature from "Sent from my really cool gadget," to anything else, you need to go back to land lines and answering machines.

Lastly, to all the self indulgent bloggers that occupy yourselves complaining about the inadequacies of people's behavior, change your diaper before you get a rash.

The Lessons of Avatar

Thursday, January 20, 2011 09:06:11 AM

I don't want to admit it, but I love my new iPod Touch. Despite my ravings about open source this and open source that, the gadgets that gets the most use in our house are the iPods even though they tend to make me feel more like an indentured servant to Apple. When my beloved, 5 th generation, 30 gigabyte iPod stopped holding a charge, I decided it was time to either get a new battery or a new iPod. There was not that much of a difference in price between having a new battery installed and getting a used, 2 nd generation iPod Touch on eBay. It hasn't been in my possession for 48 hours and already I am having trouble remembering life with out it. We truly do live in an age of wonders.

That said, I was recently treated to watching James Cameron's magnum opus, Avatar at a friend's house with a set up that probably rivals, if not surpasses, most people's idea of a private screening room.

And wow, what a treat for the senses it was. Even to the end of the three hour version we watched, the visuals were amazing. I totally accepted the idea of an eight foot tall, blue Sigourney Weaver. She definitely would have made that other Alien weep in terror, if it had eyes. l I know that my friends wanted to really crank up the volume, but it would have played havoc with my delicate circulatory system, so the aural aspect was less potent than its potential.

If you are reading this, you are probably well aware of what Avatar is and have some idea of how it came into being, so I will summarize the lessons Avatar teaches:

Much of the human race is comprised of infants in adult body suits-by and large other than meeting their own wants and needs, the rest of the known universe can go die.

All conflicts can be successfully settled by the appropriate use of superior firepower or expendable bodies.

Sometimes, some of the Ewoks have to die.

There was a fourth one, but it escapes me now. I will add it when I remember it.

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 09:52:05 AM

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Amy,

Saturday, January 8, 2011 01:10:47 PM

Dear Amy,

I have been enjoying reading your blog. It is good to have a place to verbally blow off steam. That said, I was struck by this entry:

You have the wartime periods: historical, renowned, proud. The 60's, introducing The Beatles and a soar of actually half-decent movies. The 70's - far out man, one-way ticket to hippyville and sticking it to "the man". The 80's, by far the best time of all; brilliant tunes and, most importantly of all, the birth of Die Hard.*

Your summation of the past fifty years in a handful of lines put a smile on my face. However, I feel I need to challenge you abourt your view of the 1980s, especially the music part.

To me, the eighties were not a blissful time of charity and togetherness, with people skipping around in their mullets, whistling “Ebony and Ivory” while holding hands to form a giant circle of love.

To me, the 1980's blew.

I graduated from high school, left home for college (Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where I am currently living.) Then I struck out on my own and began discovering what it meant to be an adult, which at that time meant figuring out how much of my tiny paycheck was to go for bills and how much was to go for "entertainment."  There was plenty of experimentation (sex and drugs), plenty of folly (see previous), and little actual maturity or growth. One of the most important things I learned was this: Just because it seems like a good idea at the time doesn't mean it will still be a good idea after I sober up.

Jello Biafra, singer for the San Francisco based punk band The Dead Kennedys accused the music industry of seeking to produce “lowest common denominator rock”  and I agree.  The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the eighties is how awful the music was. Most popular music was a mixture of computerized rhythm, synthesized instruments and the absolute nadir of lyrical shallowness. The sound of the music was extremely homogeneous. There was very little unique or original in this type of music because it was targeted towards mainstream appeal.

A quick look at Wikipedia reveals the most popular music acts of the decade were Madonna and Michael Jackson.  And Madonna isn't even an musician, she is a personality. She achieved fame from the notoriety of her appearance and her (for the time) outspoken attitudes about sex, not her singing ability.

The 1980s saw the problematic rise in popularity of “alternative rock.” A popular alternative to anything  is an oxymoron. How can something be alternative and mainstream at the same time?

Another contributor to the suckiness of eighties music was the introduction of the popular, and influential Music Television Network, known as MTV. MTV was an entire network, broadcasting 24 hours via cable, devoted to popular music videos. The music became secondary to a band's appearance and attire once it was discovered how effective MTV would have on influencing young adults clothing  and music choices.  In short, music became more about marketing rather than producing a quality ditty that would last for the ages.

This unfortunately led to a lot of really bad fashion choices for people in my age bracket. Big, teased hair, mullets, skinny neckties, shoulder pads for women and men are some of the decades's worst fashion offenses.  And yet they were staples of typical 20 something attire.

After MTV their makeover
Before MTV
Check out these before and after photos of Detroit band The Romantics. The Romantics had one fairly big hit single before MTV, the lively “That's What I Like About You.” But like many bands after the advent of MTV, they went through a major, cosmetic make over.  

The 1980s did produce some very good books, movies and music.  Unfortunately, for every Once in a Life Time,  there was hours of this dreck  to wade through.

Oh well. One of the great, or not so great, depending on your perspective, things about the Internet is the opportunity agree to disagree in instantly on-line.

Remember that I love you in that special, creepy way that a middle aged stranger you met on the Internet can love you.


It occurred to me that 99% of the things I have done that I regret doing happened in the 1980s.
I found a link to this while catching up opn my reading this morning: Killing Joke

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 09:07:58 PM

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tron: Legacy in 3D

Sunday, January 2, 2011 04:16:17 PM

I walked out of Tron:Legacy 3D with my head a whirl. My first 3D movie experience since 1982's Friday the 13 th in 3D , although my friend Todd insists that it was Jaws 3D we walked out of, the effects were breathtaking, but subtle, played down for the long run instead of relying on the obvious, quick thrill,  3D cliches. Those were reserved for the trailers and helped me acclimatize to the upcoming special effects spectacle. The most striking 3D effect was Olivia Wilde's eyes(“Thirteen” from House ), which sometimes appeared to exist outside her head like a tree frog's.

For Jeff Bridges fans, Tron: Legacy features twice as much as the first Tron.  He reprises his role as an aging Kevin Flynn, trapped in his own cyber creation, called The Grid, and his nemesis, the program Clu, whose search for perfection threatens the real world. Bridges plays Flynn as a cross between The Dude and Obi- Tron Kenobi, favoring dharmic garb and dropping  Buddhist kōans such as “remove yourself from the equation,” and “You're messing with my Zen.” As Clu, a computer program, which doesn't age,  he appears as the Jeff Bridges from the 1982 original film.

The film's explosive climax revolves around the struggle between the creator and his creation.  Kevin Flynn is the creator of the virtual world that most of the film occupies.  His creation, Clu, is attempting to usurp his creator. When Clu exhorts his digital minions to topple their god, he appears like a digital Lucifer, attempting to set his throne higher than his God's.   

If Kevin Flynn is God and Clu is Lucifer/Satan, then Flynn's son Sam and the mysterious Quorra are Adam and Eve, played with youthful abandon and reckless impulsivity by Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde.

Sam is the major share holder of his father's own company which appears to have morphed into a giant, heartless software company that forces its customers to buy endless, meaningless software upgrades, named Encom (Income, get it?). This is against the older Flynn's philosophy that information should be free (as in beer), much like the Open Source software philosiphy.  I am an enthusiastic open source user (I am writing this using Writer word processor under the Ubuntu 10.10 operating system). The direct influence of open source can be seen in this article at the OMG Ubuntu! website.  Check out the uber-dork comments at the bottom.  

Despite some story line incongruities,  Tron:  Legacy 3D was a great way to spend a cold Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.  Visually, the film was a treat to watch and the story hummed along at a nice pace, although it did get a little slow during the middle section.  It was a much better sequel than the smoldering crapfest that The Matrix Reloaded was.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 08:08:34 PM

Insomniac theater presents: Triangle

Wednesday, January 5, 9:52 AM

Triangle  was completely unknown to me until I read about it on Cortez the Killer's year-end review at the  (read the article here).  I don't want to rehash what he has already said, but I do  want to add my "Yeah, wow!"

In terms of "jumping out of your skin" moments, Triangle  had the most of any movie I'd watched in quite a while.  Poor Olivia, I would grab her anytime something scary happened.  And there were plenty of scary moments to be had.

Triangle doesn't waste any time getting started.  As soon as the main characters are introduced to the viewer, crazy things begin to happen. And it doesn't stop until the end, leaving me somewhat breathless. There were some inconsistencies along the way, but I quickly forgot them as soon as the blood started to flow.

And like many good horror movies,Triangle doesn't reveal all its secrets until the very end.  There were times when it reminded me of 2007's Los Cronoscrimenes,  but in the end,  it is its own movie.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Insomniac theater double feature: It's Alive and Bad Biology

Friday, December 10, 2010 01:28 AM

Once again, the rest of the house is slumbering, even Olivia, my late night movie buddy, is asleep. Instead of watching movies I already own, it is time check out my Netflix streaming queue. The big deal about that is Netflix streaming only works with Windows or Apple operating systems. The reason why that is problematic for me could be its own post; let me say that every time I boot my laptop into Vista, I feel a part of my soul die.

Subconsciously, I devoted the evening's viewing to themes of sex and reproduction. In my queue I saw It's Alive (1974), written and directed by cinema maverick, Larry Cohen. A quick look at his IMDB profile revealed that he was responsible for one of the strangest films I have ever seen, 1976' s God Told Me To, part police procedural, part sci-fi story, and part trans gender sex in the armpit with your brother who is really a homicidal Jesus alien type movie. I really need to watch that one again.

Also in my queue was Frank Henenlotter 's Bad Biology (2008). Henenlotter is known for the Basket Case trilogy and his work rescuing and releasing classic exploitation (is that an oxymoron?) films for Something Weird Video.

It's Alive was one of those movies I wasn't allowed to see as a child, so I did what I usually did when blocked by my parents refusal to grant access to the mysteries of cinematic terror, I read the novelization. Since the film originally was released when I was ten, I probably read the book when it was released in 1977 at age 13. I remember very little except the cover. I had forgotten about it until I read  “Who Needs Birth Control: Terrifying Births in Horror History” at The Horror Digest . Both a scary fable about parenthood and parable about the dangers of big pharma, there wasn't much of interest to me except for two scenes; the carnage in the delivery room and the scene where Frank Davis, the father, explains the difference between Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster.

It's Alive begins on the eve of the birth of the second child for the Davis's,  a middle class couple. In the days before sonograms, no-one is aware of the hideously deformed, monster child that is about to enter the world. Just like the rest of us, this baby wants to be loved and is fully prepared to kill in order to be with his mother. Including killing everyone in the delivery room. Way more deadly than the new born in Alien .

Besides being effectively scary, the massacre in the delivery room also raised questions about birthing procedures in the 1970s; did mothers really get tied to the tables with leather restraints? Also, how come no one thought to cover the poor mother's obviously exposed vagina while running in and out of the room?

The movie ends with Frank accepting the child as his own, proving that love may conquer many things, but bullets and greed have the final say. 

Next I watched Frank Henenlotter 's Bad Biology , a movie I had heard about from the excellent Mondo Movie podcast. They had a special episode devoted to Frank Henenlotter last year. Although there is a birthing scene at the end (and a couple through out), Bad Biology is about sex. And there is lots of it. Usually with a good-sized dose of violence to boot, or whatever else is handy.

Anthony Snead and Charlee Danielson play two hyper sexualized beings in search of each other and relief. Despite the obvious low budget and unknown actors, it was a very enjoyable film. Ms. Danielson really put herself out there. She was both horrifying and funny, often wearing only fake blood. The rest of the cast displayed similar dedication to what must have been some uncomfortable scenes involving a monster sized, well, why spoil it?  

Sunday, January 2, 2011 08:27 PM