The Cribs w/ Johnny Marr – Cheat On Me On Jools Holland

I mentioned that I have been listening to The Cribs lately as I really like their new album For All My Sisters.  The album that they put out with Johnny Marr, Ignore the Ignorance, is one of my favorite guitar records of recent times.  I really love two guitar albums where the guitars are panned really hard in the right and left speaker like on AC/DC albums.  Although there are other overdubs and parts, a great deal of that album is like that.  The Jarman brothers’ singing is often a little pitchy live, but hey, at least you know they are really singing.  Plus, I’d rather hear singing like theirs than the cruise ship singing that goes on during most of these bogus singing competitions that take place on TV.  Jools Holland’s show is probably the best place to see live music on TV, period.   I wanted to give those of you that come here regularly some music to take in before I fade out for the night.  I must rise at dawn tomorrow.  Thanks as always for stopping by…

The Walking Dead Season Finale (Spoilers Involved)

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I really enjoyed the season finale of The Walking Dead, which I finally caught today on Amazon as I don’t have cable.  I think it tied up what was an excellent season on all fronts and left us, as viewers, wanting more, which is exactly what a TV show that has more to go should do.

What I love about The Walking Dead is that first and foremost it is entertainment of the highest order.  It creates a largely believable alternative world and gets us wrapped up emotionally in what goes on there.  Anyone that loves the show will tell you that it keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The characters, for the most part, are well written, with their own interior lives.  You care about these people and what becomes of them.  It is exciting and it is emotional.  I would watch the show for these reasons alone.

What makes The Walking Dead even better, and keeps me thinking about it after viewing it is over, is the intelligence that lies behind the entertainment.  Music should be great music first, television should be great television first.  That is the first order of any art form.  If it can do even more than that, that is what sets the greats aside.

There are many ways that you can interpret this show.  Here is just one way you can interpret this season.  I’m not saying this is an original interpretation, or that if I had more time to think about it that I wouldn’t think of a better one.  The fact that it posts up ideas without definitive conclusions is the mark of a good drama.  This is not our world.  It allows us to reflect upon it, but there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to interpret it.  It is complex and complexity in entertainment is a good thing.

The zombies pose a threat to people.  Different people respond to this threat differently.  Some become inhuman themselves, and some, like the citizens of Alexandria, respond to it by almost ignoring it.  They are safe behind their walls and are haven’t had to adapt in any great way to the new world and the threats that are a part of it.  The Grimes gang, meanwhile, have had to  live among the terrors of the world.  They have a realistic viewpoint of what is going on, even if what is going on throughout the season is in danger of making them lose their humanity.

In the season finale it looked as if events were going to prove the Grimes gang correct, even if they essentially have been all along.  Rick and his people were even considering killing certain members of Alexandria for the good of the whole.  It looked as if this was going to be needed.  Meanwhile the citizens of Alexandria were mostly content to keep living in their bubble, even if there was literally “wolves” at their door.  (I would argue that the people of Alexandria aren’t really doves in the political sense, but delusional.  Doves will still go to war when necessary, they just try to make it a last resort.  Though like any political group there are variations.  Compared to those of Terminus or the Governor, the Grimes gang are doves.  For the sake of not making this article incredibly long, lets just keep the political tags somewhat simplified.)

The season finale was called Conquer.  It looked as if Rick and his gang were going to have to use violence to conquer Alexandria.  Often in real world events there are hawks and doves.  There are people that believe in peace and people that believe that violence is a way to achieve and end.  It looked like the show was setting things up to make the doves of this scenario and episode look foolish while the hawks looked like they were right.

However, the Grimes gang was able to peacefully take over Alexandria not through violence, but because of their compassion.  Yes the episode ended with an act of violence, but this was directed by one of the members of Alexandria, even though Rick carried it out.  But all of the main characters demonstrated that they had held on to their humanity at the end, and this at least left the viewer with the impression that they were going to be the leaders of this new society.  At the same time, they were able to bring the members of Alexandria to understand the world that they were facing and bring them closer to their world view.

What the writers of this episode seemed to be saying was that although we must be willing to look at the world as it really is, it is essentially holding onto our compassion in the face of threats that will allow people to build a better world.  Many of the people that have resorted to nothing but brute violence in this show may survive awhile, but they are not as strong as people that also possess compassion for others.  So far they have all been wiped out eventually.  Meanwhile those that completely ignore real world threats will essentially find their time coming to an unpleasant end as well.  Although different people, in reality, can argue that the show is taking one side or the other, as it is interpretive, this is how I interpreted this episode.  I am also fully aware that this is only a midpoint in the series as a whole, and that anything may change based on further episodes.

However, I think, even if you philosophically disagree with different ideas on the show, this is an interesting point to contemplate.  One must face the world as it really is, even the worst of it, but trying to hold onto one’s compassion is essential even in the face of the darker truths of the world.

One of the really great things about this series is that if you read about it on the internet, there are a whole host of different ways to interpret different plot points and story arcs.  Again, I think fiction that gets people thinking in different ways is always a good thing.  

The Walking Dead in the Age of Anxiety

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The Walking Dead in the Age of Anxiety

The above article is an interesting read if you are fan of The Walking Dead, as I am.  It’s an article that tries to get at why the show has such a hold on the popular imagination.  It also examines the show, and zombie stories in general, for there political and cultural messages.

W., House of Cards, Deadwood, and Reflections On the Illusions of Power

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The other night I watched Oliver Stone’s W. for the first time since it was in theaters, his film about George W. Bush.  There is that old saying that comedy is tragedy plus time.  The farther we drift from those years the more they seem like some kind of strange absurd comedy.  (And yes I am fully aware of the real tragedies that were part of those times.)  Like when you study the horrors of medieval times they almost appear like a Monty Python comedy.  I think people will look back on that point in our history with disbelief.  How did we knowingly choose to put a man like that in charge for two terms?  Why did we invade a country that posed no threat to us?  It was baffling then to many and even more so now.

If you lived through those years the movie might seem too light for what actually went on.  However, if you view it in a detached way, as someone looking back who didn’t live through them would, I think it emotionally reflects how those times will be viewed.

I’ve also, as stated, been watching House of Cards lately.  Given some of the problems with the third season, I still think it possesses interesting ideas.  Combined with watching W. is the idea that our leaders our just people, no different from us.  They may have better luck, family ties, or ambition, but at the end of the day they are humans.  It is only ritual and stage craft that gives them their power.  We are all part of a play.  The power they possess is only in direct accordance with how much power we believe that they have.  In the show Deadwood there is the idea that history is, “a lie agreed upon.”  There are rules and traditions that create the perception of order and therefore create order itself.  It is the belief in these fictitious sets of principles that holds it all together.

To close, I quote Twin Peaks:  “We live inside a dream.”

Austin, Allergies, and Other Things

Allergies in Austin have knocked me out of commission the last few days.  For any of you who are thinking coughing and sneezing, I hope you are not asking me to laugh in your face.   It’s more like someone is injecting one with Nyquil, but a brand of it that is actually increasing your cold.  I sometimes wonder if my conspiracy-theory friends are right about the government and chemtrails.  Anyway…

The Walking Dead is the best show on TV right now.  (At least until the return of Mad Men.)  Describing why would take a whole series of posts, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that week after week it pushes the limits of what you can do with characters in long form writing.  Breaking Bad, which I love, took Ned Flanders and turned him into Scarface, but this has done that for almost an entire cast.  Meanwhile, while you knew Walter White was crossing a line that shouldn’t be, with the rules of society gone out the window on The Walking Dead, you don’t know whether the characters are people that should be rooted for or feared.  The show has a moral complexity to it that I find really interesting.  It looks at human nature outside society in the same way that a novel like Lord of the Flies does.  As a bonus, it is flat out entertaining as hell!

I’m watching Better Call Saul right now.  I’m still on the fence about this show.  There is a lot to like in the performances and the details of the writing.  However, the show still feels like it is building towards something, that it hasn’t arrived yet.  I’m going to stick with it as I trust Vince Gilligan, also the creator of Breaking Bad, will pull it all together.

If anyone is interested in South African Music, I can’t recommend the compilation Homeland: The Best of Black South Africa enough.  It’s one of those rare compilations that plays like a really great album.  Every track has a commonality that feels related to the others, but the diversity of artists means that it also never gets boring.  I clearly can’t understand the lyrics, but this is soul music, in the sense that it is uplifting and life-affirming, even if you get the sense that it was created under hardship.

This week I go on the road with Shinyribs to Florida for a festival.  You can get the details here:

Shinyribs Shows

I hope to be back up at my usual posting rate by tomorrow, but if I’m not, you know why.

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer Review and Overview

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer Review and Overview

Above is a link to an article at The Nerdist that reviews and recaps the book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.   This is a book that all Twin Peaks fans should read, especially as we await the new season in 2016.  (Yes I have read it.)  22 year old Jennifer Lynch, daughter of show creator and director David Lynch, wrote the book.  It provides a view into the life of Laura Palmer leading up to the events in the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk With Me which itself was a prequel to the series.  (I can’t remember if any events from the movie are specifically hinted at in the book.  It has been several years since I read it.)  Those that are particularly fascinated with the darker side of Twin Peaks will find much to dive into here.