Showing posts from April, 2018

Memories of Winters Past

The snow is piling up outside even though it is April, and I am sitting in my office procrastinating. I think of winters past, that time of year when it gets so very dark out and the creepy, childhood monsters seem to be waiting at your door. I would get off the school bus and run through the short space between the street and my house like I was afraid. The lights were bright in the house and there was spaghetti on the stove. The family would sit down to eat and discuss the events of the day. I played batman video games and listened to oldies radio. Perhaps, I drank some hot chocolate. Now I work and think about that hot chocolate. Tonight when I go home, I hope it won't seem that dark, but I bet the hot chocolate will be just as good.

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals: Cardinology

Cardinology takes a little time to appreciate. At first listen, it seems all too familiar, yet unsatisfying. Not dissimilar from Easy Tiger, the songs are pure pop songs yet they are more complex than those found on Easy Tiger incorporating more of Adam's love for the Grateful Dead with more dead-influenced guitar work. The power of Easy Tiger lay in its familiarity coupled with Adam's seemingly newfound direction and lauded consistency, yet after ten or so songs each song began to blend together leaving the listener appreciating the album, but remembering little of it. A few songs stood out, particularly the personal call-to-arms song, “Halloweenhead,” but overall the surprise element, the where will he go next element so integral to Adams varied songwriting, was missing. Cardinology may not be as consistent an album (there are a few misses, particularly the arena rock U2-aping song, “Magick”), but it does an amazing job showcasing Adam's songwriting, and more important i…

Record Collecting Miscellanies: Shuffling Through The Wax in Search of Obscurities and Forgotten Favorites

I recently hooked a portable record player up in my office, so I could listen to more music while I work. Before I was relegated to listening to MP3s and podcasts, but now I can listen to most of my music collection, allowing me the opportunity to listen to scores of records that somehow got lost in the shuffle.Thus, I've been rediscovering many records that I barely remember listening to. Many of my LPs have been purchased either in bulk or at the thrift store over the years, so there are a lot of older records that I have not spent an appreciable amount of time exploring. Needless to say, it has been an excellent experience, and I have been able to run the gamut on genres, listening to every weird little record and major seller in my collection, even finding those albums that should reward repeat listens, but have barely made a blip in my daily soundtrack.

Of course, genres such as traditional folk, punk, classic rock, metal, rockabilly must live on my shelves in an interesting…

Top Films of 2017 6-1 Reviewed

6. Withnail and I -- This film surprised me as I was completely unprepared for its premise and picked it due to its poster because it was drawn by Ralph Steadman. Later, I learned that it was one of my best friend's favorite films and wondered how I missed it. Bruce Robinson based it on his life in London in the 1960s, and it follows the lives of two struggling actors,  the manic Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and the more sedate Marwood (Paul McGann)  who take a disastrous holiday to Withnail's Uncle Monty's (Richard Griffiths) cottage. The two cope the best they can in their daily farcical struggles for alcohol and drugs, running into strange characters and stranger situations. The film is dark, yet laugh-out-loud funny at times.

5. My Winnipeg -- My favorite film for purely visual, surrealistic inspiration. Complete with reimaginings of hockey teams and horse heads which appear near the Red River, Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg is a stunning pseudo-history, what he refers t…

Top Films of 2017 12-7 Reviewed

12. The Witch -- Out of the many horror films I watched this year, The Witch was one of the newer ones that really stuck with me. Robert Egger's period piece set in 17th century New England ably captures the struggles of a Puritan family, while showing how fear and prejudice are a continual problem in human communities.
11. Cutter's Way -- Jeff Bridges, in the role of Richard Bone, seems to be working on his template for the character that will later become the dude in The Big Lebowski. He finds amazing onscreen chemistry with John Heard's Alex Cutter in this charming, little thriller that sends Cutter and Bones on the trail of a mystery. Ivan Passer's film is not flashy, but it carries a lot of depth through weighty performances and characterization.
10. Mona Lisa -- Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa is not just another character-driven crime film because the story and acting elevate it to another level. The performances by Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson are stellar. Hoskins …