Tuesday, March 23, 2004

You may be wondering how I spent my weekend. Well, I doubt it, but you never know.

Throwing common sense and wisdom to the wind a few days ago, I took advantage of another Columbia House "buy one get three "free" " sale and ordered The Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin, The Essential Miles Davis, The Essential Earth, Wind and Fire (definite impulse buy there), and The Guess Who Anthology, which arrived Friday. So far, that Flaming Lips is amazing- well worth picking up if you've been thinking about it; the EWF collection is fun, and it's amazing how my tastes have changed since back in the late 70s-early 80s when I heard many of those songs incessantly on local radio and hated them each and every one- and now here I am dancing around the living room to "September" and "Shining Star"; The Davis set is a bit challenging, like much of his mid-to-late period work is (to my ears, anyway), but I like what I've heard so far; and it's great to finally have some Guess Who music in my collection. My friend and onetime high school rockbandmate Billy Mack Hill (Mack's the tall guy in the back of the picture, if you go to the link) had an 8-track of The Best of the Guess Who, which we listened to constantly. I would borrow it over and over again from BMH, and he would get so pissed at me, I'm sure. Anyway, for some reason I never got around to buying any Guess Who albums for myself, partially because I could always borrow it or heard it all the time on the radio, so I never really felt the need until now. The Guess Who was one of those bands which made BeatleCreamDoorsBlues-ish music, and hearing it now I'm reminded a lot of not only the groups lumped together in my clumsy made-up adjective, but Grand Funk Railroad, Bloodrock, Steppenwolf and others. One appeal they had for me was that cool older guys I looked up to listened to these groups and others, so it will always be "cool older kids" music, no matter how old I get. Music that always sounded good when driving down the road in someone's van or Camaro, with the 8-track player cranked up LOUD. Ah, nostalgia.

I watched movies this weekend too, oh yes- A Mighty Wind, which was charming and funny, but how could it not be with the usual Chris Guest players on board. Is there a funnier actor on the face of this earth than Fred Willard? Well, probably, but I can't think of any offhand. Those not particulary attuned to Guest and Co.'s type of humor will probably wonder what the point is and just think it's silly, but those of us who've enjoyed Waiting For Guffmann, Spinal Tap and Best of Show will love it. Also decided to spend the four bucks next month when the phone/cable/internet hookup bill comes in and watch American Splendor, which aired on pay-per-view. Now, I've never been much of a fan of autobiographical comics series...I have a tendency to be preoccupied with my own life and I get very little escape or stimulation by reading about others' . Solipistic, I know, but whaddaya do. So, as you can probably infer from this, I've never been all that concerned with following the work of Pekar, Chester Brown, Joe Matt, Joe Sacco, and others. It's all good work- I've read enough in the Journal to convince me of that- but I just don't particularly care. There's no real stimulation for me, visual or mental. I do not own a single issue of American Splendor, Peep Show or others of that ilk, which is not to say that I don't consider them good comics- they're just not my cuppa. That being said, I completely enjoyed this movie, in no small part because of its clever visual style and the nervy juxtaposition of the real Pekar and Co. with the actors that portrayed them, a move which could have easily backfired. Of course, for comics fans it's fun, if nothing else but for the sights like Pekar and "Robert Crumb" sitting at a bus stop talking, Pekar complaining and Crumb sketching away, seemingly oblivious but actually quite aware of what Harvey's saying. Hope Davis makes a strong impression as Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner, as well. I suppose it can be chalked up to that strange attraction I have for movies about artists and the creative process. A psychiatrist could probably make some hay from that, I suppose. Anyway, I found American Splendor quite enjoyable and now wish I hadn't changed the channel whenever Pekar came on the Letterman show.

I caught two new TV shows over the weekend as well: Wonderfalls, which I had to tape and watch later because of work, and the HBO series Deadwood. I liked the charming debut episode of the former a lot more than I liked the second, which presumed the willingness of the viewer to swallow a ton of illogic. The first eppy was zingy and clever, and the lead is likeable in spite of herself. If you don't get Showtime, and wonder what kind of feel Dead Like Me has, well wonder no more- the two shows have a similar vibe, since the same guy created both. Dead is superior, at least in my book, because its ensemble cast is just a bit stronger. I also found myself attracted to her buddy Mahatma, played by Tracey Thoms, whom I could swear I've seen in something else before- but a glance at the imdb listing tells me that isn't the case. In fact, the show is so whimsical and clever, that I'm sure that Fox will begin to screw around with it real soon and I give it two months tops, or at least until enough episodes are filmed to put together a DVD box, which I will be right there in line to buy. Time will tell, I suppose. HBO's Deadwood won't have that problem- HBO generally gives its series room to breathe, and they don't usually bail on a series as quickly as its more fickle network cousins. Deadwood has gained most of its noteriety so far for its constant use of vulgar language, which is certainly excessive but not terribly out of place, since almost everything about this series, from the greasy coif on town kingpin Al Swearengen to Robin Weigert's grimy, loud Calamity Jane to all of Al's skanky looking ladies of the evening are all sweaty, dirty, grimy and generally unkempt. While I only managed to catch the second episode Saturday night (my TV listing said it was the debut, but I don't think so), I thought the cast was great and the storyline appears promising. While I was watching, it kept nagging at me that something was real familiar about the show, and when I saw the credits on last night's encore showing, I realized what it was: the director was Walter Hill, of The Long Riders fame, and it's no coincidence that one of the stars of that great flick (possibly a candidate for my top 30 which I'm thinking about listing right here in response to Dave Fiore's call for some movie blogging) was none other than Deadwood's Wild Bill Hickock, Keith Carradine.

I did other things besides watch TV and listen to music, like participate in the annual draft of the Southern Kentucky Fantasy Baseball League, which was a bit of a cluster f*ck thanks to excessive drinking and tardiness on the part of some of the members, but that's usually always the case so it'll be all right. And in case you were wondering, I had four beers, 'cause I had to get up early Sunday morning and didn't care to be hung over. I had to get up so I could do the Sunday Morning Religious Program Thing at WLOC again. Yesterday, I finally finished burning some CDs for this fellow who emails me from California occasionally and wants to talk music- he sent me some blank CDs back in November and I'm finally getting them done. I gave him plenty of time to get tired of the ones I sent him in October! I did a little work around the house, honest I did, and that's about all I can think of. And that's how I spent my weekend. Woo hoo!

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