Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Lost Weekend

The next 10 random songs on my iPod are not enchanted twists of fate. The next ten songs randomly chosen from the god of cyber-space on my iPod are indeed - astounding in their own familiar quiet way. I'd like to cheat but it's like the honor system in competitive birding. If I want The Rolling Stones and I get Men Without Hats make beer with a twist of lemon. Or maybe it's time to call the playlist executioner. Blame the Cardinals winning the world series. Blame the Occupy Wall Street crowd who I think should be occupying Skid Row. Organize man! You're fast becoming a tourist attraction.

Open mouth and insert foot and swallow whole. I'm at a new job and there was an employee meeting around a large rectangular table. There was a lull so I spoke. I repeated the scene in "Oliver Twist" where he asks for more porridge.

I don't want a friend I want a designated driver.

I won a pack of unopened Topps baseball cards from 1987 with bubble gum intact from I so want to taste that bubble gum but I did a market check on all baseball cards from that year and they need to remain unopened for another thousand years.

The Handsome Family, Don't Be Scared

Poor sensitive Paul lets birds and weather rape him. Sleepy steel guitar ballad from "In The Air" goes nowhere but in the air.

Men Without Hats, Messiahs Die Young

Synthesized horns, a bongo beat box and a pleasant audio drone made this a surprise hit in the American Bandstand of my mind in 1984. Revolution! of the mind.

The Beatles, Can't Buy Me Love

one of the earliest songs I remember loving on the radio but I thought the lyrics were, "Can't Bobby Love". Not until Brian L. and Robert W. staged a mock lyp-synching Beatles concert in an extravagent elementary school 'show and tell' session did I realize the actual lyrics. It's been a lifetime of preferring my original interpretation of lyrics to the actual words - (Elton John's "Rocket Man"- "burning off the shoes of evermore" ... no?). McCartney's raw vocals and Ringo's garbage can top drumming make this a garage rock supreme classic.

Former actor, famed trumpeter, successful songwriter (Ally-Oop, Wonderful World), owner and founder of A&M Records, (he's the "A"), co-producer of the Tony Award winning "Angels in America" on Broadway, not to mention his string of instrumental hits with The Tijuana Brass in the late '60s, Herb Alpert appears to be one hell of a guy. He's the only artist to have two number one songs on Billboard's Top 100 in the category of instrumental : "Rise" in 1979, and vocalist in 1969 with this song, the Burt Bacharach-Hal David written "This Guy's In Love With You". It's pure '60s shmaltz from a guy who really can't sing which lends the song an effective intimacy, like any "guy" can croon to his beloved. Alleged to be one of George Harrison's favorite records, that's two of us.

Sonic Youth, Sunday

A great noisy guitar jam interrupts this laudable would-be hit single from this forever experimenting band. Perfect mental fodder for my second least favorite day of the week. From the album, "A Thousand Leaves".

Kate Bush, King of The Mountain

This British art rocker has some of the worst rock videos I have ever seen and the video for this, with Elvis Presley's famed sequined outfit flapping in the wind like a homeward angel refusing to go home, doesn't jive with this king of the mountian. Kate, the song is about bravely taking on middle age with the energy of a newborn, right? From "Aeriel".

Swans, Weakling - Man vs. machine and man wins but is eaten alive anyway. Industrial noise and man mantra sounds like a typical day in a factory I used to work in. From "Filth".

Man vs. machine and man wins but is eaten alive anyway. Industrial noise and man mantra sounds like a typical day in a factory I used to work in. From "Filth".

Bette Midler, Delta Dawn

After intermission, Midler came back to the stage in this early HBO concert recorded live in Cleveland, Ohio, and delivered a rousing version of Delta Dawn that brought the house down. Midler makes this more than just a popular ballad - it's an Evangelical sweat busting workout. From "Live At Last".

Drive-By Truckers, 72 (This Highway's Mean) and Shut Up and Get On The Plane

Two songs from The Truckers' "Southern Rock Opera" fittingly close this iPod session - a doom mongering, life affirming tribute to Skynard.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SHANNON - "Abergavenny" (1969) - YouTube

SHANNON - "Abergavenny" (1969) - YouTube

Spanky and Our Gang I'd Like to Get to Know You - YouTube

Movie Review: THE BIG YEAR - Birdwatching Extreme

A bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush to a hunter, but to a competitive birdwatcher (a "birder"), a bird in the hand is as worthy a prize as the chirp of a bird on a tree branch a quarter mile away.

That's because the mere sound of a bird, correctly identified, could tally a point of one on a "year list" - a year long count of bird species, a game played as disciplined as a round of gold, by birdwatchers who have advanced their sport to a competitive level.

It is the subject of the new movie, THE BIG YEAR, starring comedy kingpins Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson, and if we are to half-believe the tongue in cheek written opening of the film - "This is a true story, only the facts have been changed", - those privileged or passionate enough to spend an entire year documenting bird species do it for the love of the birds, the thrill of the hunt, and the bragging rights to being hailed Birder of The Year by "Birder" magazine. Plus all that comes with that, which apparently doesn't amount to a sack of birdseed.

Hopping on a plane to Alaska or climbing a snowy mountain peak at the mere rumour of a rare species is commonplace to these obsessed adventurers, yet with all the potential for a wild and crazy chase across the continent snapping pictures of birds, (Can't you just picture Jack Black at the weak end of a tree branch with a camera?), THE BIG YEAR scores its points on its gentle nature, even as you feel the hard scribe of a screenwriter avoiding heavy ventures into screwball and sentiment.

So we get a swath of human detail: marital strife, financial strife, meaning of life strife, as groundwork for three guys racing around the country with the passion of a Herculean task and the duty of an office stenographer. After about the 200th recorded species, you begin to care for these slightly cliched characters, (one's rich, one's poor, one is a cocky king of the birders jock), and envy the freedom and single-mindedness they possess on their seemingly insignificant mission. Following a quaint wintry trail in pursuit of a snowy owl with a sparkling limitless credit card in your pocket, becomes a fitting movie ideology.

The three leads deliver expected solid performances and Black is especially inviting as an aimless (except for birds), thirty-something who abandons life's duty for the chance to wear the crown of birding. There is an eye-popping list of actors, including Angelica Huston, Brian Dennehy, Diane Weist, and others offering strong selfless support.

The screen is often a flurry of computer graphics depicting competing bird counts, maps, and images of species, while the camera trails the birder's wayward paths like a bloodhound in pursuit. The birds themselves, more often than not, are just short of genuine, with a Disney-like touch up, making them appear like a distant naturalized cousin to an actual bird.

It's a breezy yet frantic romp in pursuit of something forever elusive. An attempt to define life by the achievement of a task, in this case the number of birds found and recorded in a calandar year. The critics have been harshly negative to this film but it somehow all works, for me anyway. Then again, I can tell the difference between a hairy woodpecker and a downy woodpecker in a heartbeat.

this article was first published by the author at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kate Bush - Wild Man - radio edit still video - YouTube

wrote this in early October - nothing to write home about

Here's a promo for Kate Bush's new album, 50 WORDS FOR SNOW, due out Nov. 21. It's a quirky indulgence seeming to chronicle historian's quest (thirst) for prehistoric man. Or it may be referencing Truffaut's "The Wild Child", a French film loosely based on an 18th Century documented case of a child discovered living independently in the woods.

Found myself unexpectedly at The Sportsman's Tavern on Saturday afternoon watching local musician and ensemble Leroy Townes perform two sets of smart country rock. Townes has a strong vocal range with a commanding sound and his ensemble is a tight jam banging group of local musicians, with special mention to the perfectly nimble slide guitarist, whose name I can't find. Exceptional original lyrical compositions balanced nicely in my beer sipping brain. The passing of my father 12 years ago came to mind. He would have digged this band. Special mention to good friend Al who introduced me to Townes as a "writer". I did a double-take. I could have looked around the room asking, "where's a writer?". His wife once introduced me to someone as an "actor". At least they come up with creative excuses for my poor existance. God luv 'em.

How 'bout this fine October weather? I'm loving the Bills 4 and 1 season but although my faith for a Super Bowl win isn't diminished I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. They are playing exceptionally but are only capitalizing on their opponents' weakness. They need to be more aggressive to make it all the way to 2012. Even more so, I'm addicted to the MLB playoffs, as I fine baseball, at it's best, can be even more exciting and dramatic than football. I'm predicting Texas and St. Louis will be the World Series contenders. Given my record for predictions, it will probably be Detroit and Millualkee. And I'm toying with cracking The Ginter Code.

Did the door at Subversive Theatre's production of THE PESECUTION AND ASSASINATION OF JEAN PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS de SADE. A brilliant playful and disturbing production based on a true incident that burrows through theatre's fourth wall and makes you feel you are certainly sitting, maybe rightfully so, in the center of an insane asylum, either rounding up crazies or joining the psychotic conga line. Chris Standart takes the stage of the lunatic asylum as de Sade, a finely balanced blend of lunacy and lucidity.

And now I have to go to work and fight for my right to party.