Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Another long, rambling post. I might accidentally say something important, so please pay attention.

Gloomy, rainy, and blustery outside, and I'm feeling a bit down and (in the words of that immortal Traffic song) "so uninspired". I'm tired of being unemployed, tired of having to mess with the unemployment compensation system, and just plain tired of being tired. My concentration is suffering a bit as a result, as well, which really sucks and is partial explanation why I haven't written too much of substance lately.

But fret not for me, I've been to worse places and have allegedly survived.

On the NFL prediction front, I had an acceptable 9-5 week, which now places my record at a respectable 58-29, a .667 winning percentage. The less said about last night's debacle for my hapless Falcons, the better- that team just has no confidence, especially on offense. The defense wasn't bad, but wore down early in the second half. Things may change, and they have been known to do so quickly in the parity-laden League, but right now it's looking mighty doubtful the Falcons will manage to pull off back-to-back winning seasons, something they've never done. All I know is Monday Night + Atlanta Falcons is always a recipe for disaster for long suffering fans of the Dirty Birds. In baseball, I don't want to talk about the Cubbies for fear of jinxing them. I'd say they were the team I was rooting for to win it all, but that's another one of those recipes for disaster, so lets just say go Wood and Prior and let it go at that. I'm hoping that the Red Sox can get past the Yankees, too, and won't that create an angst-laden scenario if the Cubbies and the Sox wind up in the fall classic? I'd still pull for Chicago, because the Sox have been there most recently. Psychiatrists in both cities are licking their chops and making down payments even as I type.

Watched a movie or two over the last few days, mostly oldies on TCM. Horror of Dracula, the 1958 Hammer film which kicked off the entire Hammer Dracula series, aired on Sunday night, and I found myself sucked in (as I tend to be by that Hammer product). HoD is a good film, with fine performances, especially by Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, and a somewhat clever rearrangement of Bram Stoker's novel. I'm also a fan of the ominous score, reused in many Hammer flicks of the period- especially the surging, charging action theme used whenever someone or something is chasing someone or something. I've been watching this film for a little over thirty years, I reckon, and for the first time two things jumped out at me: first, why the hell does Dracula keep his coffin in a storage room on the lower left front side of his castle, easily accessible to any old person who wants to wander in- especially since the door always seems to be open? He might as well hang a big neon sign shaped like an arrow, that says "Here I am!- Drac". Also, Jonathan Harker, in the opening sequence, is a real dumbass. He easily finds his way to the coffin room, convieniently just before sundown, and what does he do? He decides to stake the girl vamp that put the bite on him the evening before first! No, Jonathan! Stake DRACULA first! Then she will be destroyed as well, and everything will be cake from then on! But no. He stakes the girl, swoons for a while since as we all know it's hard work to drive a stake through someone, then by the time he recovers the sun (quickly) goes down and Drac's awake...and of course it goes badly. Dumbass, like I said. Still, this film has an exciting finale that's worth the price of admission. You remember- Van Helsing runs across a table, pulls off the curtains, and Drac is caught in the sunlight, as Van H grabs a pair of candlesticks, forms a cross, and keeps him there. But even that raises another couple of questions- by film's end, Drac has put the bite on Mina Holmwood, and has taken her back to his castle with Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood in hot pursuit. Does Drac take her deep into the labrynthine walls of his terrible castle? Nope. He digs a frigging grave and buries Mina in it, with Mina screaming all the while (in between mouthfuls of dirt)! Did Drac think VH and Holmwood wouldn't notice the freshly dug hole right in front of the castle? And what was to be gained by burying her in a hole, like a bone? Also, how the heck can a pair of crossed candlesticks suddenly be transformed into a religious icon? Sigh. Anyway, glaring odd stuff notwithstanding, this is a fave from my formative years, and I still recommend it. Just don't think about it too much.

I also caught another movie featuring my Forties inamorata Priscilla Lane, Blues in the Night, in which Pris plays a character named "Character" (no kidding, "Character" Powell) who sings lead in a forties big band. The down-on-its-luck band, which consists of several Warner Bros. contract players and a young Elia Kazan, gets involved with a mobster and his psycho ex-girlfriend, who naturally takes a shine to the bandleader and seduces him away from the group. Lots of 40s-style soap operatics, and some unusual musical set pieces (songs by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen) are the main distinguishing features of this pic, which was pretty entertaining for the most part. The title song I knew from a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which a Elmer Fudd-ish doofus vulture would go around singing "My mama done told me...bring home something for dinner". I had no idea that this was a real song (and a very successful one at that) till I saw this film, my knowledge of Forties hits being somewhat incomplete.

Another interesting flick I watched over the weekend was a documentary on the Sundance Channel about legendary record producer Tom Dowd, titled Tom Dowd and the Language of Music. Lotsa cool old clips, photos, and guest interviews from the likes of Ray Charles and Eric Clapton. Well worth catching if you can.

Also, (to abruptly segue somewhere else completely different) I watched the finale to the two-part Teen Titans animated series, in which Slade, or Deathstroke the Terminator as I remember him from the comics, (he hasn't been referred to by that name in the show so far) essentially blackmails Robin into becoming his partner/sidekick/successor. It was pretty good, for the most part- not as much fun as the Mad Mod episode, but good. One thing bugs me though- none of the other characters have parent figures, besides Robin. Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven were never teen sidekicks of established characters, and the Doom Patrol (Beast Boy) and Aquaman (Aqualad, in his one and only appearance so far) have not been mentioned...nor has the Batman, and it bugs me that they've set up all these teenish characters, living in their own HQ, and no mention anywhere about how they came to be in this situation. It drove me nuts that all this happened to Robin in the last two episodes, and Batman was nowehere to be found, even though some of the action took place on the rooftop of Wayne Enterprises and at one point Robin defiantly tells Slade "I already have a father", accompanied by a visual of bats flying into the sky! What the @#$!?

Looking around at other blogs:

Happy blogiversary to Dirk Deppey and his indispensable ¡Journalista! site. Dirk, if you bothered to look at my links list from time to time you would have seen a link to Ted Rall's website, which has been there almost since I started this.

Speaking of which, my blogiversary is coming up in a little over a week.

Good ol' Bill Sherman, the lucky dog, has bought some of the new Direct Stream Digital Bob Dylan discs, and writes about them. Between this and the Steely Dan piece he also wrote about the other day, he's been listening to almost as much dinosaur music as I have! I'm supposed to be getting a dubbed copy of that Dan CD soon, and I definitely want a couple of those Dylan discs, like Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home, and my favorite Zimmy album, Blood on the Tracks.

Memo to Sean Collins: My recent fave horror movie list read that way because, to be honest, that's what I get out of horror films. They don't "scare" me, and rarely even give me the creeps. For me, there is no "fright factor", and if that's a liability, well, mea culpa. I think perhaps it's because, as a child, I got a glimpse behind the curtain via Famous Monsters and Monster Times, among other publications, and as a result the onscreen goings-on lost all the glamour for me. When I view a horror film, I'm looking to be engaged visually or have my imagination enhanced, not for a rollercoaster experience or to be startled or scared shitless. Maybe that's why I don't get a charge out of the majority of modern horror movies, and tend to prefer the more genteel classics.

Interlude- regarding Bill Jemas' upcoming ouster at Marvel, I think Jemas had some definite positives at the beginning of his tenure (in fact, I read more Marvel comics right now that I have in nigh 20 years), but it seems to my far-from-an-insider position that he let himself get carried away with his self-percieved power and ability. I'll keep my fingers crossed for future Marvel, but since I haven't been what you could call a real Marvel fan since, oh, 1976, it doesn't matter much to me about what kind of product the erstwhile House of Ideas churns out in the future. My two cents worth.

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag has been dealing with some serious issues lately, between her husband's teachers strike situation and some serious-sounding depression on her part, and all I can do is hope for the best for her and hers.

Jim Henley seems to be giving me a bit more credit for Dirk Deppey's Captain America quote than I'm comfortable with, but he writes some interesting stuff about the Star-Spangled Avenger and his potential as a cash cow for Marvelcorp. And while I still say I agree with Dirk on that score, I will hedge my position somewhat and say that an Ultimates style costume would work.

This just in: Big Sunny D really, really likes Outkast's new twofer CD! Without having heard it, except for one cut ("Hey Ya", a nifty if somewhat longish Principarlimentadelicish thang), I wish I could look at it and not be reminded of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Works Volume One or the Kiss solo albums.

J.W. Hastings, aka Forager 23, has a nice summing-up of the whole Marvel/Jemas/Grant Morrison situation, about which I've already held forth. It's always seemed weird for me, though, to see Morrison at Marvel. I never warmed to New X-Men (even though I haven't ruled out getting more trade collections down the road), but I loved Marvel Boy.

Dave Fiore chips in with a column which continues his warmup to writing about the now-mostly-forgotten 80s miniseries Sword of the Atom, which I bought then (having always been something of a fan of the Mighty Mite), read, and while I liked it I must not have liked it all that much since I let it go when I sold 3/4 of my original collection back in 1987. Anyway, this particular column takes a look at a couple of 60s issues of Atom, and also comments on the perceived eventual "Marvelization" of DC as well as Ant-Man and the Avengers from that same period. I used to have a complete run of those Golden Age Atoms. I miss 'em. Snif.

Happy belated birthdays to Shawn Fumo and Teresa Ortega. She's a Libra. Also happy birthday, today, to my good friend Vicki Morrison, who probably won't read this anyway.

Brendan, that most excellent of Leptards, writes about a clutch of records he's listened to lately, including one of my fave LPs (and yes, that top 25 list will come someday), Todd Rundgren's 1973 effort A Wizard/A True Star. He also writes about a chance encounter with Van's daughter Shana Morrison.

I click on my link for Sugar 'n' Spicy, and all I get is one of those annoying "domain park" link list pages! Ilana! What has happened? And here she had finally linked to me, too! Stay tuned...

All right, that's enough for right now. Guess I managed to ramble enough to stretch this out nicely, eh! If I don't mention your blog, please don't be offended. I just got tired of listing stuff and have to wind this up. Nothing personal, I swear.

Music listened to this morning: Minus 5-Down With Wilco, George Harrison-Living in the Material World, Eels-Souljacker, Joni Mitchell-Court and Spark, Fleetwood Mac-Heroes are Hard to Find, R.E.M.-Green, and Lennon Anthology-discs 3 and 4, the cuts "Grow Old With Me" and "Rip it Up/Ready Teddy".

Sayonara, for now.

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