Listen, Read, and Watch this Weekend

'Sunday Brunch' TV Programme, London, Britain - 06 Jan 2013

I thought about writing something about ten times today.  But nothing came.  Could it have been the fact that it was as hot as Africa out?  Could it have been the drinks I had last night?  A few recommendations for the weekend is all I have today:  

Listen to:  If you love great singing over pop music, and are looking for an album this weekend, check out Frank Sinatra’s Watertown.  It was recorded in 1969 and it is Frank’s one attempt to play the 60′s pop game.  It’s a concept album and a masterpiece and I hope to write more about it at some point. The song I Would Be in Love (Anyway) alone is worth the price.  

Listen to:  With Weird Al at number one in the Billboard album charts, and the soundtrack to Frozen still selling units, I think we can safely proclaim that mainstream America has lost their minds.  If you want to support music that is actually intelligent, melodic, extremely musical, and sad and funny as hell in equal measures, check out Morrissey’s new album, World Peace is None of Your Business.  It’s the best thing I’ve heard in years.  Yes, I’m going to keep pushing this album on you.  It’s that good.  

Read:  I finished the Brendan Behan play The Quare Fellow.  It takes place in Mountjoy prison.  It’s the first dramatic piece of Behan’s that I’ve read.  It’s subversively hilarious, poetic, and rings true in every word.  I’ve been thinking about the death penalty in Texas lately, and this play will make you dead set against it.  It does so without ever becoming some kind of self righteous morality tale.  In fact it is the fallen nature of everyone involved that makes it’s final sequence seem like some kind of sad cosmic joke.  

Watch:  If you want to see things in the world you have never seen before and laugh your arse off while doing so, check out the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant produced An Idiot Abroad.  The show stars Karl Pilkington, as the little Englander and title idiot.  This is someone that doesn’t like to travel hosting a travel show.  The show could easily descend into reality show brainlessness, but the footage is excellent.  In often trying to torture Karl they send him to places that most travel shows would never go to.  Also, although most of Karl’s commentary duly earns him the title phrase, he occasionally stumbles his way into truth as when he compares Jerusalem to Pac-Man.  The full series is available on Netflix.  

That’s all for today kids.  I am throwing a party for my brother tonight, so the bottle calls again.  To quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit!”  (P.S.  Another hilarious watch is the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia espisode Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth.  In this episode they spoof the Lethal Weapon series.  You haven’t lived until you have seen Danny DeVito having sex to the cheesy 80′s saxophone music that they play in those movies.)  

Danny DeVito’s Contract – It’s Always Sunny

Danny DeVito’s Contract – It’s Always Sunny in P…: http://youtu.be/cEFPZWK4ElE

I thought I would post the above link for those of you stuck in the doldrums of the office this afternoon.  The above clip is an extra from the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.   It is the funniest show on television right now, and Danny DeVito may be the funniest actor working in the medium.  I wanted to post one of my favorite scenes ever, when Danny DeVito does cocaine in Columbia,  but it was not available.  Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, the cast of It’s Always Sunny find new lows that keep me smiling.

Luke Kelly: Working Class Hero

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After writing about Rick Perry, I feel that I needed to cleanse my soul with something.  If you are looking for a great collection of political songs that inspire and teach, then I cannot recommend enough that you check out the Luke Kelly collection Working Class Hero.  Luke Kelly was most famous as a member of the Irish folk group The Dubliners.  These songs burn with passion and conviction.  They are steeped in tradition, but Luke Kelly somehow manages to seem as if, even when singing an old folk song, that he is singing the definitive version.  The songs range from the tragic to the comic.  He was able to sing songs of heartbreaking disaster and songs of masterful satire in equal measure.  He is a storyteller, a poet, and a singer whose voice could cut through the hardest of hearts.  This is music you could drink to AND stage a political protest to.  I am thankful every time that I put him on that he was out there, at one point in the universe, singing his songs for those willing to listen.  

The Sick Blank Void that is Rick Perry

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It’s a soft job, sir, between hangings. - Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fellow

The English language occasionally falls short.  I don’t know if there are vile enough words in our language to describe Texas Governor Rick Perry.  This is a man that signs off on executions the way most of us sign checks at dinnertime.  In June of last year he hit the 500 mark!  Now he has called up 1,000 member of the National Guard to police our border with Mexico largely in response to protecting Texas from children!

I was going to call Rick Perry an empty souled Ken Doll in a suit, a cretin of the highest fucking order, a shameless buffoon masking as a leader, but all of these terms fall flat against the sick blank void that is Rick Perry.

So, I thought I would hijack some words that were used by Klaus Kinski and directed at Werner Herzog. (Herzog claims they came up with the words together.)  I have posted these words before, but I think that they accurately describe how anyone with a brain or a conscious should feel about Rick Perry:

He should be thrown alive to the crocodiles! An anaconda should strangle him slowly! A poisonous spider should sting him and paralyze his lungs! The most venomous serpent should bite him and make his brain explode! No — panther claws should rip open his throat — that would be much too good for him! Huge red ants should piss into his lying eyes and gobble up his balls and his guts! He should catch the plague! Syphilis! Yellow fever! Leprosy! It’s no use; the more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me.

The Immorality of Our Israeli Position

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-m-walt/aipac-americas-israel-policy_b_5607883.html

The above article is about the suffering going on in Gaza, about Israel’s morally bankrupt policy there, and about how AiPAC has used its influence in America to paralyze us and prevent us from doing anything.  We give Israel $3 Billion dollars in direct foreign aid every year and another $12-17 billion in indirect aid.  If you remember I also posted a link to a blog sometime back, from Andrew Sullivan, which talked about how 23 Palestinians die for every one Israeli.  There is outrageous injustice going on in that part of the world and we are helping to fund it.

The Hijinks of Beasts

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In Austin, Texas
There is a street called Lamar Blvd.  
Named after a former Governor
Whose favorite hobbies
Were writing poetry
And exterminating Indians
He didn’t differentiate
Between friendly or hostile
He had them killed all the same
But hey, he had a thing for verse
Why are monsters so often
Comically tragically human?
Hitler loved animals
Saddam Hussein loved Doritos
But despite the hijinks of these beasts
I would be willing to gamble
In Germany or modern Iraq
They won’t be naming streets after them
Anytime soon

Austin, Texas 7/23/14

The Quare Fellow

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I am reading Brendan Behan’s play The Quare Fellow.  It takes place in the Irish Prison Mountjoy.  This play is where one of my favorite songs of all time originated, The Auld Triangle.  In the following excerpt a young prisoner makes a disparaging remark about the Bible and the older prisoners comment upon it:

Other Fellow:  And talking so disrespectfully about the Bible.

Neighbour:  Belied and they needn’t; many’s the time the Bible was a consolation to a fellow all alone in the old cell.  The lovely thin paper with a bit of mattress coir in it, if you could get a match or a bit of tinder or any class of light, was as good a smoke as ever I tasted.  Am I right, Dunlavin?

Dunlavin:  Damn the lie, Neighbour.  The first twelve months I done, I smoked my way half-way through the book of Genesis and three inches of my mattress.  When the Free State came in we were afraid of our life they were going to change the mattresses for feather beds.  And you couldn’t smoke feathers, no, be God, if they were rolled in the Song of Solomon itself.  But sure, thanks to God, the Free State didn’t change anything more than the badge of the warders’ cap.  

Watch Monty Python’s Farewell

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“Monty Python” Stars Bid an Emotional Farewell in…: http://youtu.be/KaDGc2LWzGo

I grew up on Monty Python with my Dad showing us The Meaning of Life and Monty Python and the Holy Grail as kids.  I didn’t realize how unique this was, as my Dad would have us laughing at religion, business, and every other sacred cow of society.  Monty Python will remain a source of joy for me as long as I live.  They were truth tellers, bullshit detectors, and often very, very silly.  The above video is a clip of their final performance as they sing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.  Their final run of performances, as Graham Chapman is deceased,  were subtitled One Down, Five to Go. 

The Mystery of Twin Peaks

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One of the most wonderful universes that you can get lost in is Twin Peaks.  It takes you into the mystery of the world.  It’s strange, but not any stranger than real life.  It’s just that the strangeness of real life is heightened so that it is brought to the forefront.  One of the things that David Lynch does so well is to create strong emotions.  He knows that emotions are abstract, you can’t explain sadness or pain or happiness so much as you can feel it.  Through abstract visuals and sound design he creates cinema of intense feeling.  

The trick to what he does is that he often allows you to feel two different emotions at the same time. The end of Fire Walk With Me, the movie that takes place in the Twin Peaks universe, is one of the most horrifying sequences I have ever seen in film.  It is also beautiful.  The fact that it is beautiful doesn’t make it any less horrific to watch.  In fact in might make it more so, because it opens you up emotionally to it in a way that no straight horror movie or documentary ever could.  David Lynch isn’t afraid to make you feel uncomfortable, but you never ever get the sense he is trying to shock you just for the sake of it.  

The TV show Twin Peaks is a combination of different genres.  There are characters that could have come out of a film noir and there are characters that could have come out of a soap opera.  These more traditional genre elements are laced with episodes of the surreal and uncanny.  At the core of Twin Peaks is a murder mystery.  However, the TV show especially also features many moments of light comedy.  It is again the fact that it is combining different elements that make it so unique.  

But I think one thing that truly makes Twin Peaks special is that in watching it, we not only recognize feelings and emotions from reality, but the show somehow heightens the viewers reality as well.  When we enter the woods after seeing the show we may notice how dark and mysterious they are in ways we might not have payed attention to.  Entering a diner we may notice details and the behavior of people in ways in which we didn’t before.  Twin Peaks is great entertainment, but it is also something more.  It is a fictional world that makes us aware of the mysteries in our own.  

Site Changes

I changed the theme of my site.  I am going to try to add more pictures in the future.  This site, as everything in life, is a work of progress.  If you like the changes, which are only in the beginning stages, please let me know.  If you feel something was better as it was before let me know as well.  I can’t thank all of you that follow this site enough, and I hope that you will please let others know about it.  As Kurt Vonnegut said quoting A Streetcar Named Desire, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

If you look at the new design there is a little menu icon at the top where you can easily access the about page and the word cloud now, among other things,  instead of scrolling to the bottom.